Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 33.djvu/51

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
41
THE MORAL INFLUENCE OF CLIMATE.

inundated all the coast-lands of the Mediterranean originally emanated from the plains of Latium; and, if Mr. Katkoff's prognosis should be fulfilled by the disintegration of the American Union, it would be safe to predict that the larger part of our present territory would be reconsolidated by some eupeptic lowland State, Missouri or Michigan, and that the Alleghanies would maintain their independence by the stubborn resistance of their highlanders. The nomadic herders of western Texas, too, might prolong that resistance for many years; but, on the whole, the march of the new empire would follow the course of the Mississippi, for the double reason that the stream of conquest has generally moved seaward and southward. Russia will not rest till her fleet rides the eastern Mediterranean as well as the Euxine. Tamerlane avowedly intended to extend his empire to the Atlantic; and, from the campaigns of King Cyrus to the expansive enterprises of Victor Emanuel, nine out of ten international wars have ended with the victory of northern nations over their southern neighbors. The goddess of fortune would decline to be crowned with a fur cap, and the sun of the south that turns a lynx into a lion does not necessarily reverse the process in the case of the human animal; but it is true that a rigorous climate evolves superior "staying power," and in war the last shout is worth a dozen challenges. The history of Europe might, indeed, encourage the idea that certain northern nations love war for its own sake, though Prof. Vogt informs us that gratuitous combativeness is a sign of specific inferiority. "Ants and wasps that tackle every wayfarer," says he, "can not compete with the species that reserve their energy for serious emergencies, and without the protection of the dog-fancier the breed of bull-dogs would speedily succumb to their preposterous propensities." Waspish aggressiveness would rather seem to be a product of sterile plains, that appear to bristle with stilettos as spontaneously as with cactus-thorns—the brigandage of Turkistan and stony Araby having its exact analogue in the kidnapping and train-robbing rowdyism of our arid Southwest.

Nor is it quite certain that the "instinct of industry" can be considered an exclusive product of the higher latitudes. When all northern Europe was still slouching in bear-skins, Egypt and Phoenicia were buzzing hives of industrial activity. Our North American Indians had only wigwams when Mexico was studded with palaces. But here, too, the virtue of perseverance seems to have prevailed against the talent of initiation, and the energy of the North, Once started in the arena of industrial competition, has managed to distance the earlier enterprise of the South.

Civilization, in the modern sense of the word, is, however, to a large extent founded on the activity of the instincts of co-op-