« PrejšnjaNaprej »
Idea of a community-Of Patriotism.
Man, by the force and habit of association and abstraction, acquires the conception of an aggregate of individuals, as forming a distinct entity,-a moral person, capable of rights and duties. Such is the idea of a community, of a society.
When a man considers himself as connected with any society, he is, if I may use the expression, conscious of a kind of individuality of himself with the aggregate. The conception of this individuality is more or less distinet and forcible, as the connexion is more or less intimate,—and if it be not the germ of every attachment to the community, certainly gives strength to the attachment and vigor to patriotism itself. It is essential to the social nature of man, and of great importance to government. It is not only the soul of individuality to the whole government; but as there will always be numerous subordinate connexions forming smaller societies in the same government, it makes all the members of the same connexion, in some degree, responsible for the actions of each. They enjoy the virtues and the advantages both of the individuals and of the community, and each in the same degree, the reproach of the other's crimes, and the justice of their punishment.
This sentiment has, however, given rise to a principle, which has been grossly abused to the oppression of mankind. In many governments, the practice has prevailed of involving in the same punishment of offenders, all of the same family and connexion,—the innocent with the guilty. It has prevailed most generally in despotic states, where it coincides with the principles of the government, which makes it a crime for a
man to be placed even by nature herself, in a situation in which he might dare to think himself injured by the act of the prince. Although this conception of the unity of a connection is no justification of the practice, yet it fully accounts for its origin. In this also has originated the practice of retaliation, reprisals, and many things of a similar nature, permitted by the laws of nations ;—and here humanity may vindicate her rights, and assert that the practice is too often carried farther than the principle will in justice warrant.
Patriotism or love of country, is a noble passion, and illustrates the character of every people, who enjoy any just portion of liberty under civil institutions. It is indispensably necessary to any good degree of security or prosperity, in a nation. The whole community is the object of this passion ;in its effects, it unites the individual members in the pursuit of public measures, and on necessary occasions, gives a preference of the public to private good. To the common interest in the defence and prosperity of the nation, it adds an affection great as the object, on which it is exerted.
It has been made a question whether the passion may be reckoned among the natural passions of man. The Abbé Raynal has asserted that it cannot. Speaking of the aboriginal inhabitants of Brazil-he says, “ They show no particular attachment to their native place. The love of country, which is a ruling passion in the civil state, which in a good government rises to enthusiasm, and in bad ones becomes habitual-this love of country is but a factitious sentiment arising from society, but unknown in a state of nature."
Let us examine this opinion. At this day, facts and not names give to opinions their just weight and currency. Although in speaking of the aborigines of Brazil, he mentions only their want of attachment to their native soil; yet in his general position, he comprehends all the distinctive properties of that love of country which is generally denominated patriotism. In this sense love of country is a love of the community. An attachment to the soil collects, limits, and confines the passion, and gives a locality to its objects; but does not of itself constitute the passion. Take from the country the community, take from it the inhabitants, and the object ceases.
Were this passion not discovered in the first rude state of man, no conclusive argument could be drawn from that circumstance. All the passions of man are, originally, capacities only, and capacities may and do often exist antecedent to the objects to which they are adapted. They can be discovered in exercise only ; and they cannot be exhibited in exercise, until a proper object be presented. Many, if not all, of them are like plants in the germ ; they discover not their species, until expanded by cultivation. Shall we say, the oak is not a tree of nature, because in its first state it is but a germ in the acorn? Or shall we say, the appetite in man, which leads to the propagation of the species, and its consequent passions, are not natural, because not discovered in the infant of a day?
If we rely upon facts, history has not recorded, nor modern researches discovered, a single people in this supposed state of nature, a state in which a love of country, an attachment to the community, does not make a conspicuous figure. The ancient Barbarians of the north of Europe, from whom most of the modern inhabitants of that country are descended, furnish with proofs of the existence of this passion among them, of vigorous national attachments. It is true, their attachment to any portion of the soil was not so strong. This attachment to the soil is fixed by the cultivation of the earth for subsistence, which collects the interest and attention to one spot and gives a locality to conveniences. It is not, however, generally true, that savages have but a feeble attachment to the soil of their country. In this respect, they are, in a great measure, capable of the same habits, passions, and sentiments as the man of civilization. They occupy, with their habitations, but a small part of what they call their country. The rest is reserved for pasture or hunting grounds; it is the great farm of the . tribe. They readily remove their temporary habitations from one part of this to another ; but war, famine, or some very powerful cause is necessary to compel them to a total abandonment. The ancient Scythians, from whom the modern Tartars are descended, were nations of herdsmen. Their riches consisted principally in their horses, which supplied them both with food and carriage. Their habitations were booths or tents of easy construction. In a country of great
extent, they preferred those places, in which the greatest plenty of fresh pasture were found; for the sake of these, they made frequent and distant removals. We learn that among this people, as early as the reign of Darius the son of Hystaspes, the love of country was a vigorous passion. Their national attachments were strong, and they were attached to the soil, not so much because if afforded them subsistence by cultivation, as because it contained the tombs of their fathers. According to Herodotus, Indasarthus, a prince or head warrior in that country, sent the following message to Darius then attempting the conquest of Scythia --- If I flee before thee, Prince of the Persians, it is not because I fear thee. What I do now, I am used to do in times of peace. We Scythians have neither houses nor lands to defend. If thou hast a mind to force us to come to an engagement, attack the tombs of our fathers, and then thou shalt know what manner of men we are.” Such a people could be no strangers to patriotism.
The savages of America are a living instance, of the strength of this passion, among a rude and uncultivated people. The European writers have been very much abused in their information of the American natives. Buffon has asserted," that among them, paternal love and filial affection are very faint ; the most intimate connexion, that of family, bas but feeble ties; there is no intercourse between one family and another; of course there is no national union, no republic, no social state.” The Abbé Raynal has copied many things from Buffon, and probably here he found that state of nature, of which he speaks in the passage recited above. In the same account of the native inhabitants of Brazil, the Abbó gives an account of their ancient mode of life, in that country. What but a local attachment, an attachment to the soil, could have been the cause of this people continuing in the same country through a succession of ages ? To what but a national attachment shall we attribute their national manners, and national resentment, of which he tells us? In another place, he furnishes an instance, which contradicts almost every part of the character given of the American natives by Buffon, and ought to have corrected his own opinion, that in what he calls a state of nature, the love of country is unknown. He tells us, the French proposed to a native tribe in Canada to remove
to a distance from their ancient habitation, on which occasion, one of their chiefs made the following speech. “We were born, said he, on this ground our fathers lie buried in it, shall we say to the bones.of our fathers, arise and go with us into a foreign land ?" Is this the language of a people, who are almost void of parental and filial affection,—who have no national attachments, no republic, no social state ?
Logan a Mingo chief, in his speech sent to the governor of Virginia, at the close of an Indian war, in the year 1774, discovers the same sentiments of patriotism. The reader will not be displeased to see the whole speech. It is more than equal to volumes, collected in the closet, on the character of that people. “I appeal, says he, to any white man to say, if ever he came to Logan's camp hungry, and he gave him not meat, if he ever came cold and naked, and he clothed him not.—During the last long and bloody war, Logan remained idle in his cabin, an advocate for peace. Such was my love of the whites, that my countrymen pointed as they went and said, Logan is the friend of white men*. I had even thought to have lived with you, but for the injuries of one man. Colonel Cresap, last spring, in cold blood and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of Logan, not sparing even my women and children ; there runs
; not a drop of my blood in the veins of any living creature.This called on me for revenge-I have fought—I have killed many. I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my country, I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. Logan never felt fear.
He would not turn on his heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one."
Where shall we find the love of country and family attachment more emphatically, more beautifully expressed? The people of these United States, who have known the aboriginal inhabitants of North America, both in peace and in war, and have often treated with them in their national councils, know full well the strength of their national attachments. Indeed the farther we go back toward that state so fondly and partially
* Jefferson's notes on Virginia.-67.