"The old prophecies are being fulfilled; Japhet takes possession of the tents of Sem."--(De Maistre, Lettre au Comte d'Avaray.)
The following considerations will at once demonstrate the importance and reality of the subject which we have undertaken to treat upon:
It was at the second birth of mankind, when the family of Noah, left alone after the flood, was to originate a new state of things, and in its posterity to take possession of all the continents and islands of the globe, that the prophecy alluded to at the head of this chapter was uttered, to be afterward recorded by Moses, and preserved by the Hebrews and the Christians till the end of time.
Never before has it been so near its accomplishment as we see it now; and the great Joseph de Maistre was the first to point this out distinctly. Yet he did not intend to say that it is only in our times that Europe has been placed by Providence at the head of human affairs; he only meant that what the prophet saw and announced six thousand years ago seems now to be on the point of complete realization.
It will be interesting to examine, first, in a general way, how the race of Japhet, to whom Europe was given as a dwelling place, gradually crept more and more into prominence after having at the outset been cast into the shade by the posterity of the two other sons of Noah.
The Asiatic and African races, the posterity of Sem and Cham, appear in our days destitute of all energy, and incapable not only of ruling over foreign races, but even of standing alone and escaping a foreign yoke. It has not been so from the beginning. There was a period of wonderful activity for them. Asia and Africa for many ages were in turn the respective centres of civilization and of human history; and the material relics of their former energy still astonish all European travellers who visit the Pyramids of Egypt, the obelisks and temples of Nubia and Ethiopia, the immense stone structures of Arabia, Petraea and Persia, as well as the stupendous pagodas of Hindostan. How, under a burning sun, men of those now-despised races could raise structures so mighty and so vast in number; how the ancestors of the now-wretched Copt, of the wandering Bedouin, of the effete Persian, of the dreamy Hindoo, could display such mental vigor and such physical endurance as the remains of their architectural skill and even of their literature plainly show, is a mystery which no one has hitherto attempted to solve. Nothing in modern Europe, where such activity now prevails, can compare with what the Eastern and Southern races accomplished thousands of years ago. Ethiopia, now buried in sand and in sleep, was, according to Heeren, the most reliable observer of antiquity in our days, a land of immense commercial enterprise, and wonderful architectural skill and energy. In all probability Egypt received her civilization from this country; and Homer sings of the renowned prosperity of the long-lived and happy Ethiopians. It is useless to repeat here what we have all learned in our youth of Babylon and Nineveh, in Mesopotamia; of Persepolis, in fertile and blooming Iran; of the now ruined mountain-cities of Idumaea and Northern Arabia; of Thebes and Memphis; of Thadmor, in Syria; of Balk and Samarcand, in Central Asia; of the wonderful cities on the banks of the Ganges and in the southern districts of the peninsula of Hindostan.
That the ancestors of the miserable men who continue to exist in all those countries were able to raise fabrics which time seems powerless to destroy, while their descendants can scarcely erect huts for their habitation, which are buried under the sand at the first breath of the storm, is inexplicable, especially when we take into consideration the principles of the modern doctrine of human progress and the indefinite perfectibility of man.
At the time when those Eastern and Southern nations flourished, the sons of Japhet had not yet taken a place in history. Silently and unnoticed they wandered from the cradle of mankind; and, if scripture had not recorded their names, we should be at a loss to-day to reach back to the origin of European nations. Yet were they destined, according to prophecy, to be the future rulers of the world; and their education for that high destiny was a rude and painful one, receiving as they did for their share of the globe its roughest portion: an uninterrupted forest covering all their domain from the central plateau which they had left to the shores of the northern and western ocean, their utmost limit. Many branches of that bold race--audax Japeti genus--fell into a state of barbarism, but a barbarism very different from that of the tribes of Oriental or Southern origin. With them degradation was not final, as it seems to have been with some branches at least of the other stems. They were always reclaimable, always apt to receive education, and, after having existed for centuries in an almost savage state, they were capable of once more attaining the highest civilization. This the Scandinavian and German tribes have satisfactorily demonstrated.
It may even be said that all the branches of the stock of Japhet first fell from their original elevation and passed through real barbarism, to rise again by their own efforts and occupy a prominent position on the stage of history; and this fact has, no doubt, given rise to the fable of the primitive savage state of all men.
That the theory is false is proved at once by the sudden emergence of all Eastern nations into splendor and strength without ever having had barbarous ancestors. But, when they fall, it seems to be forever; and it looks at least problematical whether Western intercourse, and even the intermixture of Western blood, can reinvigorate the apathetic races of Asia. As to their rising of their own accord and assuming once again the lead of the world, no one can for a moment give a second thought to the realization of such a dream.
But how and when did the races of Japhet appear first in history? How and when did the Eastern races begin to fall behind their younger brethren?
A great deal has been written, and with a vast amount of dogmatism, concerning the Pelasgians and their colonizations and conquests on the shore and over the islands of the Mediterranean Sea. But nothing can be proved with certainty in regard to their origin and manners, their rise and fall. In fact, European history begins with that of Greece; and the struggle between Hellas and Persia is at once the brilliant introduction of the sons of Japhet on the stage of the world--the Trojan War being more than half fabulous.
The campaigns of Alexander established the supremacy of the West; and from that epoch the Oriental races begin to fall into that profound slumber wherein they still lie buried, and which the brilliant activity of the Saracens and Moslems broke for a time--now, we must hope, passed away forever.
The downfall of the far Orient was not, however, contemporaneous with the supremacy of Greece over the East. The great peninsula of India was still to show for many ages an astonishing activity under the successive sway of the Hindoos, the Patans, the Moguls, and the Sikhs. China also was to continue for a long time an immense and prosperous empire; but the existence of both these countries was concentrated in themselves, so that the rest of the world felt no result from their internal agitations. Life was gradually ebbing away in the great Mongolian family, and the silent beatings of the pulse that indicated the slow freezing of their blood could neither be heard nor felt beyond their own territorial limits.
Nothing new in literature and the arts is visible among them after the appearance, on their western frontiers, of the sons of Japhet, led by the Macedonian hero. It now seems established that Sanscrit literature, the only, but really surprising proof of intellectual life in Hindostan, is anterior to that epoch.
As to China, the great discoveries which in the hands of the European races have led to such wonderful results, the mariner's compass, the printing-press, gunpowder, paper, bank-notes, remained for the Chinese mere toys or without further improvements after their first discovery. It is not known when those great inventions first appeared among them. They had been in operation for ages before Marco Polo saw them in use, and scarcely understood them himself. Europeans were at that time so little prepared for the reception of those material instruments of civilization, that the publication of his travels only produced incredulity with regard to those mighty engines of good or evil.
But those very proofs of Oriental ingenuity establish the fact of a point of suspension in mental activity among the nations which discovered them. Its exact date is unknown; but every thing tends to prove that it took place long ages ago, and nothing is so well calculated to bring home to our minds the great fact which we are now trying to establish as the simple mention of the two following phenomena in the life of the most remote Eastern nations:
The genius of the East was at one time able to produce literary works of a philosophical and poetical character unsurpassed by those of any other nation. The most learned men of modern times in Europe, when they are in the position to become practically acquainted with them, and peruse them in their original dialects, can scarcely find words to express their astonishment, intimately conversant as they are with the masterpieces of Greece and Rome and of the most polite Christian nations. They find in Sanscrit poems and religious books models of every description; but they chiefly find in them an abundance, a freshness, a mental energy, which fill them with wonder; yet all those high intellectual endowments have disappeared ages ago, no one knows how nor precisely when. It is clear that the nation which produced them has fallen into a kind of unconscious stupor, which has been its mental condition ever since, and which to-day raises puny Europe to the stature of a giant before the fallen colossus.
Again: many ages ago the Mongolian family in China invented many material processes which have been mainly the clause of the rise of Europe in our days. They were really the invention of the Chinese, who neither received them from nor communicated them to any other nation. Ages ago they became known to us accidentally through their instrumentality; but, as we were not at that time prepared for the adoption of such useful discoveries, their mention in a book then read all over Europe excited only ridicule and unbelief. As soon as the Western mind mastered them of itself, they became straightway of immense importance, and gave rise, we may say, to all that we call modern civilization. But in the hands of the Chinese they remained useless and unproductive, as they are to this day, although they may now see what we have done with them. Their mind, therefore, once active enough to invent mighty instruments of material progress, long ago became perfectly incapable of improving on its own invention, so that European vessels convey to their astonished sight what was originally theirs, but so improved and altered as to render the original utterly contemptible and ridiculous. And, what is stranger still, though they can compare their own rude implements with ours, and possess a most acute mind in what is materially useful, they cannot be brought to confess Western superiority. The advantage which they really possessed over us a thousand years ago is still a reality to their blind pride.
But it is time to return to the epoch when the race of Japhet began to put forth its power.
Roman intellectual and physical vigor was the first great force which gave Europe that preeminence she has never since lost; and there was a moment in history when it seemed likely that a nation, or a city rather, was on the point of realizing the prophetic promise made to the sons of Noah.
But an idolatrous nation could not receive that boon; and the Roman sway affected very slightly the African and Asiatic nations, whatever its pretensions may have been.
For, when Rome had subdued what she called Europe, Asia, and Africa --the whole globe--whenever she found that her empire did not reach the sea, she established there posts of armed men; colonies were sent out and legions distributed along the line; even in some places, as in Britain, walls were constructed, stretching across islands, if not along continents. Whatever country had the happiness of being included between those limits belonged to "the city and the world" -urbi et orbi; beyond was Cimmerian darkness in the North, or burning deserts in the South. Mankind had no right to exist outside of her sway; and, if some roaming barbarians strayed over the inhospitable confines, they could not complain at having their existence swept off from the field of history, so unworthy were they of the name of men. Science itself, the science of those times, had to admit such ideas and dictate them to polished writers. Hence, according to the greatest geographers, mankind could exist neither in tropical nor in arctic regions; and Strabo, dividing the globe into five zones, declared that only two of them were habitable.
We now know how false were those assertions, and indeed how circumscribed was the power of ancient Rome. She pretended to universal as well as to eternal dominion; but she deceived herself in both cases. Under her sway the races of Japhet were not "to dwell in the tents of Sem." She was not worthy of accomplishing the great prophecy which is now under our consideration.
It is, however, undoubtedly due to her that the children of Japhet became the dominant race of the globe, and the Eastern nations, once so active and so powerful, were overshadowed by her glory, and had already fallen into that slumber which seems eternal.
Egypt was reduced so low that a victorious Roman general had only to appear on her borders to insure immediate submission.
Syria and Mesopotamia were fast becoming the frightful deserts they are to-day. Persia dared not move in the awful presence of a few legions scattered along the Tigris; and, if, later on, the Parthian kings made a successful resistance against Rome, it was only owing to the abominable corruption of Roman society at the time; but, in fact, Iran had fallen to rise no more, save spasmodically under Mohammedan rule.
The fact is, that, in the subsequent flood of barbarians which for centuries overwhelmed and destroyed the whole of Europe, we behold, on all sides, streams of Northern European races, members of the same family of Japhet. It was the Goths that ruined Palestine even in the time of St. Jerome. If side by side with Northern nations the Huns appeared, no one knows precisely whence they came. Attila called himself King of the Scythians and the Goths, as well as grandson of Nimrod. He came with his mighty hosts from beyond the Danube; this is all that can be said with certainty of his origin.
The East, therefore, was already dead, and could furnish no powerful foe against that Rome which it detested. It is even in this Oriental supineness that we can find a reason for the duration of the inglorious empire of Constantinople. Rome and the West, though far more vigorous, were overwhelmed by barbarians of the same original stock sent by Providence to "renew its youth like that of the eagle." Constantinople and the East continued for a thousand years longer to drag out their feeble existence, because the far Orient could not send a few of its tribes to touch their walls and cause them to crumble into dust. It is even remarkable that the armies of Mohammed and his successors, in the flush of their new fanaticism, did not dare for a long time to attack the race of Japhet settled on the Bosporus. From their native Arabia they easily overran Egypt and Northern Africa, Syria and Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia. But Asia Minor and Thrace remained for centuries proof against their fury, and, whenever their fleets appeared in the Bosporus, they were easily defeated by the unworthy successors of Constantine and Theodosius. This fact, which has not been sufficiently noticed, shows conclusively that the energy imparted by Mohammedanism to Oriental nations would have lasted but a short time, and encountered in the West a successful resistance, had not the Turks appeared on the scene, destroyed the Saracen dynasties, and, by infusing the blood of Central Asia into the veins of Eastern and Southern fanatics, prolonged for so many ages the sway of the Crescent over a large portion of the globe.
This was the turning-point in human affairs between the East and the West. We do not write history, and cannot, consequently, enter into details. It is enough to say that a new element, strengthened by a long struggle with Moslemism, was to give to the West a lasting preponderance which ancient Rome could not possess, and whose developments we see in our days. This new element was the Christian religion, solidly established on the ruins of idolatry and heresy; far more solidly established, consequently, than under the Christian emperors of Rome, while paganism still existed in the capital itself.
The Christian religion, which was to make one society of all the children of Adam; which, at its birth, took the name of universal or catholic (whereas previously all religions had been merely national, and therefore very limited in their effects upon mankind at large); which alone was destined to establish and maintain, through all ages, spite of innumerable obstacles, a real universal sway over all nations and tribes--the Christian religion alone could give one race preponderance over others until all should become, as it were, merged into one.
At first it seemed that Providence destined that high calling for the Semitic branch of the human family. The Hebrew people, trained by God himself, through so many ages, for the highest purposes, finally gave birth to the great Leader who, by redeeming all men, was to gather them all into one family. This Leader, our divine Lord, himself a Hebrew, chose twelve men of the same nation to be the founders of the great edifice. We know how, the divine plan was frustrated by the stubbornness of the Jews, who rejected the corner-stone of the building, to be themselves dashed against its walls and destroyed. The sons of Japhet were substituted for the sons of Sem, Europe for Asia, Rome for Jerusalem; and the real commencement of the lasting preponderance of the West dates from the establishment of the Christian Church in Rome.
See how, from Christianity, the Caucasian race, as we call it, came to be the rulers of the world. A mighty revolution, wherein all the branches of that great race become intermingled and confused, sweeps over the Roman Empire. Every thing seems destroyed by the onset of the barbarians, in order that they, by receiving the only true religion which they found without seeking among those whom they conquered, might become worthy of fulfilling the designs of Providence. All the barriers are overthrown that one institution, called Christendom, may take form and harmony. There are to be no more Romans, nor Gauls, nor Iberians, nor Germans, nor Scandinavians--only Christians. It is a renewed and reinvigorated race of Japhet, imbued with true doctrine, clothed with solid virtues, animated with an overwhelming energy. It is a colossal statue, moulded by popes, chiselled by bishops, set on its feet by Christian emperors and kings, chiefly by Charlemagne, Alfred, Louis IX, and Otho. Is there not perfect unity between those great men divided by such intervals of space and time? Is not their work a universal republic, whose foundations they laid with their own hands?
The rest of the world, still prostrate at the feet of foolish idols, or carried away by human errors and delusions, sinks deeper and deeper into apathy and corruption, while Europe is reserved for mighty purposes in centuries to come. A stream is gathering in the West, which is destined to sweep down and bear away all obstacles, and to cover every continent with its regenerating waters.
That stream is modern European history. It has been recorded in thousands of volumes, many of which, however, are totally unreliable fables of those mighty events. Those only have had the key to its right interpretation who have followed the Christian light given from above, as a star, to guide the wonderful giant in his course. The chief among them were: of old, Augustine, the author of the "City of God;" Orosius, the first to condense the annals of the world into the formula, "_divina providentia regitur mundus et homo;_" Otho of Freysinguen, in his work "_De mutatione rerum;_" and the author of "_Gesta Dei per Francos;_" in modern times, Bossuet and his followers.
The destruction of idolatry was of such vital importance in the regeneration of the world that it sufficed as a dogma to imbue a great branch of the Semitic family with a strong life for several centuries. Moslemism has no other truth to support it than the assertion of God's unity; but, by waging war against the Trinity and, consequently, against the very foundation of Christian belief, it became, for a long time, the greatest obstacle to the dissemination of truth. It prevented the early triumph of the Caucasian race, and galvanized, for a time, the nations of the East and South into a false life.
The ravages of the Tartar hordes under Genghis Khan and his successors were in no sense life, but only a fitful madness.
The European stream was thus impeded in its flood by the new activity of Arabia and Turkomania. It was a struggle in which victory, for a long time, hung in the balance: it required many crusades of the whole of Western Europe; the long heroism of the Spanish and Portuguese nations; the incessant attack and defence of the Templars and the Knights of Malta over the whole surface of the Mediterranean Sea, to secure the preponderance of the West. It was finally decided at Lepanto. Since that great day, Mohammedanism has gradually declined, and there now seems no insurmountable obstacle to the free flowing of the European stream.
This stream, however, is not homogeneous: far from it. Had the Christian element always remained alone in it, or at least supreme, long ere this the victory would have been secure forever, and the Catholic missions alone would have fulfilled the old prophecies and given to the sons of Japhet possession of the tents of Sem--a glorious work so well begun in the East, in India and Japan; in the West, in the whole of America!
But, unfortunately, the policy of the papacy, which was also that of Charlemagne, and of other great Christian sovereigns, was not continued. The Norman feudalism of England and Northern France; the Caesarism of Germany and the Capetian kings; the heresies brought from the East by the Crusaders; the paganism and neo-Platonism of the revival of learning; above all, the fearful upheaval of the whole of Europe by the Protestant schism and heresy, troubled the purity of that great Japhetic stream, and has retarded to our days its momentous and overwhelming impetuosity.
Wonderful, indeed, that in the whole of Europe one small island alone was forever stubbornly opposed to all these aberrations, which has stood her ground firmly, and, we may now say, successfully. The reader already knows that the demonstration of this stupendous fact is the object of the present volume.
Having stood aloof so long from all those wanderings from the right path, she has scarcely appeared in the field of European history save as the victim of Scandinavia and of England. But there is a time in the series of ages for the appearance of all those called by Providence to enact a part. What is a myriad of years for man is not a moment for God; and it would seem that we had reached at last the epoch wherein Ireland is to be rewarded for her steadfastness and fidelity.
The impetus now imparted to European power becomes each day more clearly defined, and, to judge by recent appearances, Irishmen are about to play no inglorious part in it. The power of expansion, so characteristic of them from the beginning, has of late years assumed gigantic proportions. The very hatred of their enemies, the measures adopted by their oppressors to annihilate them, have only served to give them a larger field of operations and a much stronger force. It is not without purpose that God has spread them in such numbers over so many different islands and continents. It is theirs to give to the spread of Japhetism among the sons of Sem its right direction and results. The other races of Western Europe would, had they been left to themselves alone, have converted that great event into a curse for mankind, and perhaps the forerunner of the last calamities; but the Irish, having kept themselves pure, are the true instruments in the hands of God for righting what is wrong and purifying what is corrupt.
Had Europe remained in its entirety as steadfast to the true Christian spirit as the small island which dots the sea on its western border, what an incalculable happiness it would have proved to the whole globe, resting as it does to-day under the lead of the race of Japhet !
But where now are the pure waters which should vivify and fertilize it? Innumerable elements are floating in their midst which can but destroy life and spread barrenness everywhere.
Let us see what Europeans believe; what are the motives which actuate them; what they propose to themselves in disseminating their influence and establishing their dominion; what the real, openly-avowed purposes of the leaders are in the vast scheme which embraces the whole earth; what becomes of foreign races as soon as they come in contact with them.
The bare idea causes the blood of the Christian to curdle in his veins, and he thanks God that his life shall not be prolonged to witness the successful termination of the vast conspiracy against God and humanity.
For, in our days, spite of so many deviations in the course of the great European stream, it is truly a matter of wonder what power it has obtained over the globe in its mastery, its control, its unification. What, then, would have been the result had its course remained constantly under Christian guidance!
It is only a short time since the whole earth has become known to us; and we may say that, for Europe, it has been enough only to know it in order to become at once the mistress of it; such power has the Christian religion given her! The first circumnavigation of the globe under Magellan took place but yesterday, and to-day European ships cover the oceans and seas of the world, bearing in every sail the breath and the spirit of Japhetism. The stubborn ice-fields of the pole can scarcely retard their course, and hardy navigators and adventurous travellers jeopardize their lives in the pursuit of merely theoretical notions, void almost of any practical utility.
The most remote and, up to recently, inaccessible parts of the earth are as open to us, owing to steam, as were the countries bordering on the Mediterranean to the ancients. The Argonautic expedition along the southern coast of the Black Sea was in its day an heroic undertaking. The Phoenician colonies established in Africa and Spain by a race trying for the first time in the history of man to launch their ships on the ocean in order to trade with Northern tribes as far as Ireland and the Baltic, though never losing sight of the coast; the attempts of the Carthaginians to circumnavigate Africa; the three years' voyages of the ships of Solomon in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf, were one and all far more hazardous undertakings than the long voyages of our steamships across the Indian Ocean to Australia, or around Cape Horn to California and the South Sea Islands, through the Southern and Northern Pacifics.
From all large seaboard cities in any part of the globe, lines of steamers now bear men to every point of the compass, so that the very boards at the entrances of offices, to be found everywhere for the accommodation of travellers, are as indices of works on universal geography.
And the European, still unsatisfied with all he has achieved in speed and comfort, looks to more rapid and easier modes of conveyance. Scientific men have been for many years engaged in experiments by means of which they hope to replace the ocean by the atmosphere as a public highway for nations; and the currents of air rushing in every direction with the velocity of the most rapid winds may yet be used by our children instead of rivers, thenceforth deserted, and of ocean-streams at last left empty and waste as before the voyages of Columbus and De Gama.
All this constitutes a positive and stern fact staring us in the face, and giving to the Caucasian race a power of which our ancestors would never have dreamed. And if all this is to be the only result of man's activity--the attainment of merely worldly purposes--God, whose world this is, may look down on it from heaven as on the work of Titans preparing to attack his rights, and He will know how to turn all these mighty efforts of the sons of Japhet to his own holy designs. He may use a small branch of that great race, preserved purposely from the beginning unsullied by mere thrift, and prepared for his work by long persecution, a consideration which we shall examine later on.
Meanwhile the great mass of the European family is allowed to go on in its wonderful undertaking; and we turn to it yet a short while.
As if to favor still more directly this work of the unification of the globe, Providence has placed at the disposal of the prime movers in the enterprise pecuniary means which no one could have foreseen a few years ago.
In 1846, on a small branch of one of the great rivers of California, a colonist discovers gold carried as dust with the sand, and soon a great part of the country is found to be immensely rich in the precious metal. That first discovery is followed by others equally important, and after a few years gold is found in abundance on both sides of a long range of the Rocky Mountains; again in the north, nearly as high up as the arctic circle. North America, in fact, is found to be a vast gold deposit. Australia soon follows, and that new continent, whose exploration has scarcely begun, is said to be dotted all over by large oases of auriferous rock and gravel. In due time the same news comes from South Africa, where it has been lately reported that diamonds, in addition to gold, enrich the explorer and the workman.
It is needless to speak of mines of silver and mercury after gold and diamonds; but the result is that the European race is straightway provided with an enormous wealth commensurate with the immense commercial and manufacturing enterprises required for the establishment of its supremacy all over the globe.
There is work, therefore, for all the ships afloat; others and larger ones have to be constructed; and modern engineering skill places on the bosom of the deep sea vessels which few, indeed, of the greatest rivers can accommodate in their channels and bays.
All these means of dominion and dissemination once procured, the great work clearly assigned to the race of Japhet may proceed.
Intercourse with the most savage and uncivilized tribes is eagerly cultivated even at the risk of life. New avenues to trade are opened up in places where men, still living in the most primitive state, have few if any wants; and it is considered as part of the keen merchant's skill to fill the minds of these uncouth and unsophisticated barbarians with the desire of every possible luxury. Have we not lately heard that the savages of the Feejee Islands, who were a few years ago cannibals, have now a king seeking the protection of England, if not the annexation of his kingdom to the British empire?
Yes, the material civilization of Europe, the new discoveries of steam and magnetism, the untiring energy of men aiming at universal dominion, give to the Caucasian race such a superiority over the rest of mankind that the time seems to be fast approaching when the manners, the dress, the look even of Europeans, will supersede all other types, and spread everywhere the dead level of our habits.
This fact has already been realized in America, North and South. Geographers may give lengthened descriptions of the original tribes which still possess a shadow of existence; foreign readers may perhaps imagine that the continent is still in the quiet possession of rude and uncivilized races roaming at will over its surface, and allowing some Europeans to occupy certain cities and harbors for the purposes of trade and barter. We know that nothing could be more erroneous. The Europeans are the real possessors, north and south; the Indians are permitted to exist on a few spots contracting year by year into narrower limits. The northern and larger half of the continent is chiefly the dwelling-place of the most active branch of the bold race of Japhet. The first of the iron lines which are to connect its Atlantic and Pacific coasts has recently been laid. Cities spring up all along its track: the harbors of California, Oregon, and Alaska, will soon swarm much more than now with hardy navigators ready to europeanize the various groups of islands scattered over the Pacific. Already in the Sandwich and Tahiti groups the number of Europeans is greatly in excess of that of the natives. Those natives who, in the Philippine Islands, have been preserved by the Catholic Church, will too soon disappear from the surface of the largest ocean of the globe.
Then Eastern Asia will be attacked much more seriously than ever before. Since its discovery, Europeans could only reach it through the long distances which divide Western Europe from China and Japan. But within a short time numerous lines of steamships, starting from San Francisco, Portland, Honolulu, and many other harbors yet nameless, will land travellers in Yokohama, Hakodadi, Yeddo, Shanghai, Canton, and other emporiums of Asia.
Nor will the Americans of the United States be alone in the race. Several governments are preparing to cut a canal through the Isthmus of Panama, or Darien, or Tehuantepec, as has already been done with that of Suez; and soon ships starting from Western Europe will, with the aid of steam, traverse the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans successively as two large lakes to land their passengers and cargoes on the frontiers of China and India.
The Japanese, those Englishmen of the East, are ready to adopt European inventions. They are indeed already expert in many of them, and seem on the alert to conform to European manners. It is said that the nation is divided into two parties on that very question of conformity; before long they will all be of one mind. What an impulse will thus be given to the europeanization of China and Tartary!
In Hindostan, England has fairly begun the work; but the climate of the peninsula offering an obstacle to the introduction of a large number of men of the Caucasian race, it will be more probably from the foot of the Himalaya Mountains that the spread of the race will commence. Already the English and the Russians are concentrating their forces on the Upper Indus. The question merely is, Which nation will be the first to inoculate the dreamy sons of Sem with the spirit and blood of Japhet? It seems that Central Asia will form the rallying-ground for the last efforts of the Titans to unify their power, as it was thence that the power of God first dispersed them.
A glance at the rest of the world as witnessing the same astonishing spectacle, and we pass on. Australia is clearly destined to be entirely European; the number of natives, already insignificant compared to that of the colonists, will soon disappear utterly. Turkey, the Caucasus, Bokhara, are rapidly taking a new shape and adopting Western manners.
The African triangle offers the greatest resistance, owing to its deserts, its terrible climate, and the savage or childish disposition of its inhabitants. Yet the attempt to europeanize it is at this moment in earnest action at its southernmost cape, all along its northern line skirting the Mediterranean, in Egypt chiefly, and also through the Erythrean Gulf in the east; finally, on many points of its western shore, which, strange to say, lags behind, although it formed the first point of discovery by the Portuguese.
To condense all we have just said to a few lines: it looks as though all races of men, except the Caucasian, were undergoing a rapid process of unification or disappearance.
In America certainly the phenomenon is most striking.
In Asia all the native races seem palsied and unable to hold together in the presence of the Russians and the English.
In Africa, Mohammedanism still preserves to the natives a certain activity of life, but even that is fast on the wane.
Finally, in Australia and the Pacific Ocean the disappearance of the natives is still more striking and more sudden in its action than even in America.
This state of things did not exist two hundred years ago; and when the Crusades began the reverse was the case.
We cannot believe that this immense, universal fact is merely an exterior one resulting from new appliances, new comforts, new outward habits; what is called material civilization. We cannot believe that it is merely the dress, houses, culinary regime, the popular customs of those numerous foreign tribes or nations which are undergoing such a wonderful change. This outward phenomenon supposes a substratum, an interior reality of ideas and principles worthy our chief attention as the real cause of all those exterior changes; a cause, nevertheless, which is scarcely thought of in the public estimate of this mighty revolution.
It is the mind of Europe: it is the belief or want of belief, the religious or irreligious views, the grasping ambition, the headlong desire of an impossible or unholy happiness, the reckless sway of unbridled passions, which try to spread themselves among all nations, and bring them all up, or rather down, to the level of intoxicated, tottering, maddened Europe.
If the monstrous scheme succeeds, there will be no more prayer in the villages of the devout Maronites, no more submission to God in the mountains of Armenia, no more simplicity of faith among the shepherds of Chaldea, no more purity of life among the wandering children of Asiatic deserts.
Side by side with truth and virtue many errors and monstrosities will doubtless disappear, but not to be replaced with what is much better.
The muezzin of the mosques will no longer raise his voice from the minarets at noon and nightfall; the simple Lama will no longer believe in the successive incarnations of Buddha; no longer will the superstitious Hindoo cast himself beneath the car of Juggernaut; many another such absurdity and crime will, let us hope, disappear forever. But with what benefit to mankind? After all, is not superstition even better for men than total unbelief? And, when the whole world is reduced to the state of Europe, when what we daily witness there shall be reproduced in all continents and islands, will men really be more virtuous and happy?
We must not think, however, that there is nothing truly good in the stupendous transformation which we have endeavored to sketch. If it really be the accomplishment of the great prophecy mentioned by us at the beginning of this chapter, it is a noble and a glorious event. God will know how to turn it to good account, and it is for us to hail its coming with thankfulness.
There is no doubt that the actual superiority of the race of Japhet, by force of which this wonderful revolution is being accomplished, is the result of Christianity, that is, of Catholicity. It is because Europe, or the agglomeration of the various branches of the race of Japhet, was for fifteen hundred years overshadowed by the true temple of God, his glorious and infallible Church; it is because the education of Europeans is mainly due to the true messengers of God, the Popes and the bishops; it is because the mind of Europe was really formed by the great Catholic thinkers, nurtured in the monasteries and convents of the Church; it is, finally, because Europeans are truly the sons of martyrs and crusaders, that on them devolves the great mission of regenerating and blending into one the whole world.
But, unfortunately, the work is spoiled by adjuncts in the movement which have grown up in the centuries preceding us. In fact, the whole European movement has been thrown on a wrong track, which we have already pointed out as mere material civilization.
Still, in spite of all the dross, there is a great deal of pure metal in the Japhetic movement. Underlying it all runs the doctrine that all men are sprung from the same father, and that all have had the same Redeemer; that, consequently, all are brethren, and that there should be no place among them for castes and classes, as of superior and inferior beings; that the God the Christians adore is alone omnipotent; that idolatry of all kinds ought to disappear, and that ultimately there should be but one flock and one shepherd.
These are saving truths, still held to in the main by the race of Japhet, in spite of some harsh and opposing false assertions, truths which the Catholic Church alone teaches in their purity, and which are yet destined, we hope, to make one of all mankind.
But her claims are yet far from being acknowledged by the leaders in the movement. And who are those leaders? A question all-important.
England is certainly the first and foremost. Endowed with all the characteristics of the Scandinavian race, which we shall touch upon after, deeply infused with the blood of the Danes and Northmen, she has all the indomitable energy, all the systematic grasp of mind and sternness of purpose joined to the wise spirit of compromise and conservatism of the men of the far North; she, of all nations, has inherited their great power of expansion at sea, possessing all the roving propensities of the old Vikings, and the spirit of trade, enterprise, and colonization, of those old Phoenicians of the arctic circle.
The Catholic south of Europe, Spain and Portugal, having, through causes which it is not the place to investigate here, lost their power on the ocean; the temporary maritime supremacy of Holland having passed away, because the people of that flat country were too close and narrow-minded to grasp the world for any length of time; France, the only modern rival of England as a naval power, having been compelled, owing to the revolutions of the last and the present centuries, to concentrate her whole strength on the Continent of Europe; the young giant of the West, America, being yet unable to grasp at once a vast continent and universal sway over the pathways of the ocean, England had free scope for her maritime enterprises, and she threw herself headlong into this career. Out of Europe she is incontestably the first power of the whole world. To give a better idea of the extent of her dominion, we subjoin an abridged sketch from the "History of a Hundred Years," by Cesare Cantu:
"In Europe she has colonies at Heligoland, Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Isles.
"In Africa, Bathurst, Sierra Leone, many establishments on the coast of Guinea, the islands of Mauritius, Rodrigo, Sechelles, Socotora, Ascension, St. Helena, and, most important of all, the Cape Colony.
"In Asia, where she replaced the French and Dutch, she has, besides Ceylon, an empire of 150,000,000 of people in India, the islands of Singapore and Sumatra, part of Malacca, and many establishments in China.
"In America, she is mistress of Canada, New Brunswick, and other eastern provinces; the Lucayes, Bermudas, most of the Antilles, part of Guiana, and the Falkland Isles.
"In the Southern Ocean, the greater part of Australia, Tasmania, Norfolk, Van Diemen's Land, New Zealand, and many other groups of Oceanica are hers.
"What other state can compete with her in the management of colonies, and in the selection of situations from which she could command the sea? Jersey and Guernsey are her keys of the Straits of Dover; from Heligoland she can open or shut the mouths of the Elbe and Weser; from Gibraltar she keeps her eye on Spain and the States of Barbary, and holds the gates of the Mediterranean. With Malta and Corfu she has a like advantage over the Levant. Socotora is for her the key of the Red Sea, whence she commands Eastern Africa and Abyssinia. Ormuz, Chesmi, and Buschir, give her the mastery over the Persian Gulf, and the large rivers which flow into it. Aden secures the communication of Bombay with Suez. Pulo Pinang makes her mistress of the Straits of Malacca, and Singapore, of the passage between China and India. At the Cape of Good Hope her troops form an advanced guard over the Indian Ocean; and from Jamaica she rules the Antilles and trades securely with the rest of Central and South America.
"Englishmen have made a careful survey of the whole of the Mediterranean Sea, of the course of the Indus, the Ganges, the Bramaputra, the Godavery, and other rivers of India; of the whole littoral between Cape Colony and China; England has steamships on the Amazon and Niger, and her vessels are found everywhere on the coast of Chili and Peru."
Other European families try to follow in her footsteps; at their head the United States now stand. Primitively an offshoot of the English stock, the blood of all other Japhetic races has given the latter country an activity and boldness which will render it in time superior in those respects to the mother-country herself.
Yet at this time, even in the presence of the United States, in the presence of all other maritime powers, England stands at the head of the Japhetic movement.
Unfortunately, her first aim, after acquiring wealth and securing her power, is, to exclude the Roman Catholic Church as far as is practicable from the benefit of the system, to oppose her whenever she would follow in the wake of her progress, and either to allow paganism or Mohammedanism to continue in quiet possession wherever they exist, or to substitute for them as far as possible her Protestantism. At all events, the Catholicity of the Church is to be crushed, or at least thwarted, to make room for the catholicity of the English nation.
And it looks as though such, in truth, would have been the result, had not the stubbornness of the Irish character stood in the way; if the Celt of Erin, after centuries of oppression and opposition to the false wanderings of the European stream, had not insisted on following the English lord in his travels, dogging his steps everywhere, entering his ships welcome or unwelcome, rushing on shore with him wherever he thought fit to land, and there planted his shanty and his frame church in the very sight of stately palaces lately erected, and gorgeous temples with storied windows and softly-carpeted floors.
And after a few years the Irish Celt would show himself as active and industrious in his new country as oppression had made him indolent and careless on his own soil; the shanty would be replaced by a house worthy of a man; above all, the humble dwelling which he first raised to his God would disappear to make room for an edifice not altogether unworthy of divine majesty; at least, far above the pretentious structures of the oppressors of his religion. The eyes of men would be again turned to "the city built upon a mountain;" and the character of universality, instead of being wrested from the true Church, would become more resplendent than ever through the steadfast Irish Celt.
Thus the spreading of the Gospel in distant regions would be accomplished without a navy of their own. As their ancestors did in pagan times, they would use the vessels of nations born for thrift and trade; the stately ships of the "Egyptians" would be used by the true "people of God."
For them hath Stephenson perfected the steam-engine, so as to enable vessels to undertake long voyages at sea without the necessary help of sails; for them Brunel and others had spent long years in planning and constructing novel Noah's arks capable of containing all clean and unclean animals; for them the Barings and other wealthy capitalists had embraced the five continents and the isles of the ocean in their financial schemes; the Jews of England, Germany, and France, the Rothschilds and Mendelssohns, had accumulated large amounts of money to lend to ship-building companies; for them, in fine, the long-hidden gold deposits of California, Australia, and many other places, had been discovered at the proper time to replenish the coffers of the godless, that they might undertake to furnish the means of transportation and settlement for the missionaries of God!
And, to prove that this is no exaggeration, it is enough to look at the number of emigrants that were to be carried to foreign parts, and that actually left England for her various colonies or for the United States. For several years one thousand Irish people sailed daily from the ports of Great Britain; and for a great number of years 200,000 at least did so every twelve months. When we come, to contrast the Irish at home with the Irish abroad, we shall give fuller details than are possible here. These few words suffice to show the immense number of vessels and the vast sums that were required for such an extraordinary operation.
This phenomenon is surely curious enough, universal enough, and sufficiently portentous in its consequences, to deserve a thorough inquiry into its causes and the way in which it was brought about.
It will be seen that it all came from the Irish having kept themselves aloof from the other branches of the great Japhetic race in order to join in the general movement at the right time and in their own way, constantly opposed to all the evil that is in it, but using it in the way Providence intended.
The chapters which follow will be devoted to the development of this general idea; the few remarks with which we close the present may tend to set the conclusion which we draw more distinctly before our minds.
There is no doubt that, taking the Irish nation as a whole, we find in it features which are visible in no other European nation; and that, taking Europe as a whole, in all its complexity of habits, manners, tendencies, and ways of life, we have a picture wholly distinct from that of the Irish people. England has striven during the last eight hundred years to shape it and make it the creature of her thought, and England has utterly failed.
The same race of men and women inhabit the isle of Erin to-day as that which held it a thousand years ago, with the distinction that it is now far more wretched and deserving of pity than it was then. The people possess the same primitive habits, simple thoughts, ardent impulsiveness, stubborn spirit, and buoyant disposition, in spite of ages of oppression. In the course of centuries they have not furnished a single man to that army of rash minds which have carried the rest of Europe headlong through lofty, perhaps, but at bottom empty and idle theories, to the brink of that bottomless abyss into which no one can peer without a shudder.
No heresiarch has found place among them; no fanciful philosopher, no holder of fitful and lurid light to deceive nations and lead them astray, no propounder of social theories opposed to those of the Gospel, no inventor of new theogonies and cosmologies--new in name, old in fact--rediscovered by modern students in the Kings_ of China, the Vedas of Hindostan, the Zends of Persia, or Eddas of the North; no ardent explorer of Nature, seeking in the bowels of the earth, or on the summits of mountains, or in the depths of the ocean, or the motions of the stars, proofs that God does not exist, or that matter has always existed, that man has made himself, developing his own consciousness out of the instinct of the brute, or even out of the material motions of the zoophyte.
We would beg the reader to bear in mind those insane theories so prevalent to-day, out of which society can hope for nothing but convulsions and calamities, to see how all the nations of Europe have contributed to the baneful result except the Irish; that they alone have furnished no false leader in those wanderings from the right path; that their community has been opposed all through to the adoption of the theories which led to them, have spurned them with contempt, and even refused to inquire into them: with these thoughts and recollections in his mind, he may understand what we mean when we assert that the Irish have stubbornly refused to enter upon the European movement. Although, by the reception of Christianity, they were admitted into the European family, the Christianity which they received was so thoroughly imbibed and so completely carried out that any thing in the least opposed to it was sternly rejected by the whole nation. Hence they became a people of peculiar habits. Rejecting the harsh features of feudalism, not caring for the refinement of the so-called revival of learning, sternly opposed at all times to Protestantism, they would have naught to do with what was rejected or even suspected by the Church, until in our days they offer to the eyes of the world the spectacle we have sketched. Thus have they, not the least by reason of their long martyrdom, become fit instruments for the great work Providence asks of them to-day.
England, the great leader in the material part of the social movement which has been the subject of this chapter, for a long time hesitated to adopt principles altogether subversive to society. In her worldly good sense she endeavored to follow what she imagined a via media in her wisdom, to avoid what seemed to her extremes, but what is in reality the eternal antagonism of truth and falsehood, of order and chaos. Twenty years back there was a unanimity among English writers to speak the language of moderation and good sense whenever a rash author of foreign nations hazarded some dangerous novelties; and in their reviews they immediately pointed out the poison which lay concealed under the covering of science or imagination, and the peril of these ever-increasing new discoveries. If any Englishman sanctioned those theories, he could not form a school among his countrymen, and remained almost alone of his party.
But at last England has given way to the universal spread of temptation, and to-day she runs the race of disorganization as ardent as any, striving to be a leader among other leaders to ruin. Every one is astounded at the sudden and remarkable change. It is truly inexplicable, save by the fearful axiom, Quos Deus vult perdere, dementat. Hence not a few expect soon to see storms sweep over the devoted island of Great Britain, which no longer forms an exception to the universality of the evil we have indicated.
Which, then, is the one safe spot in Europe, whither the tide of folly, or madness rather, has not yet come?
Ireland alone is the answer.