Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/547

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NATURAL HISTORY OF MAN.

that it has used its superiority to annihilate its sister races, and reign on their tombs.

III. Respect for Self.—I have shown you that the evils of which we accuse the savages exist with us. Permit me to show you among them the good of which civilized people pretend to have the monopoly. The sentiments of honor and of modesty are certainly two of the most noble and most delicate of the respect due to one's self. We find these two sentiments developed sometimes in a high degree in the most savage peoples.

It is evident that the idea of modesty must vary from one region to another; it cannot be the same among people forced by the climate to go naked, and among those who are compelled, by the rigors of climate, to wear clothes. We ought, in this respect, to look for marked differences, and to take account of these exigencies; besides, from the nature of the subject, I cannot enter into details, and I will only say that more than one traveler has expressed his astonishment to find more of true modesty among naked savages than among civilized and well-clothed people.

Honor is, perhaps, the sentiment which is most uniformly manifested among these people. To obey the sense of honor, they hesitate not to provoke torments, to brave, and even to solicit, death. A young Kaffre chief is condemned to death; he may be pardoned on the condition of losing his ostrich-feather, which for him represents epaulets; he demands, as a favor, to be thrown to the crocodiles rather than be dishonored. The red-skin made a prisoner, attached to the post of torture, defies his enemies to extract from him the least sign of suffering.

That which we call chivalric generosity exists among the most savage peoples. Two Irishmen quarreled one day with some Australians; they were without arms. Instead of profiting by this advantage, the savages gave them arms, that they might defend themselves.

In our war at Tahiti, Admiral Bruet, commander of the French forces, took a bath one day in a river of the interior of the isle, while a well-armed chief belonging to the enemy was concealed near by. When peace was gained, this chief came to see the admiral, and easily showed him that for nearly two hours his life had been in his power. "Why did you not draw?" said the admiral. "I should have been dishonored in the eyes of my people," replied the native, "if I had killed by surprise a chief such as thou."

See how the people called savages often conduct themselves. Would we do better?

You see, gentlemen, and you may fearlessly say, to the honor of our species, that morality, in its more serious as well as in its more delicate aspects, is found among all men; and, decisively, man is a moral being.

II. Religion.—I come now to another order of considerations, that