Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/735

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735
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

bering what there is of good in our conduct; forgetting how well these inferior races have usually behaved to us, and remembering only their misbehavior, which we refrain from tracing to its cause in our own transgressions; we overvalue our own natures as compared with theirs. And then, looking at the two as respectively Christian and heathen, we overrate the good done by Christian institutions (which has doubtless been great), and we underrate the advance that has been made without them. We do this habitually in other cases. As, for instance, when we ignore evidence furnished by the history of Buddhism; respecting the founder of which Canon Liddon lately told his hearers that "it might be impossible for honest Christians to think over the career of this heathen prince without some keen feelings of humiliation and shame."[1] And ignoring all such evidence, we get one-sided impressions. Thus our sociological conceptions are distorted—do not correspond with the facts; that is, are unscientific.

To illustrate some among the many effects wrought by the bias of patriotism in other nations, and to show how mischievous are the beliefs it fosters, I may here cite evidence furnished by France and by Germany.

Contemplate that undue self-estimation which the French have shown us. Observe what has resulted from that exalted idea of French power which the writings of M. Thiers did so much to maintain and increase. When we remember how, by causing undervaluation of other nations, it led to a disregard of their ideas and an ignorance of their doings—when we remember how, in the late war, the French, confident of victory, had maps of German territory but not of their own, and suffered catastrophes from this and other kinds of unpreparedness; we see what fatal evils this reflex self-esteem may produce when in excess. So, too, on studying the way in which it has influenced French thought in other directions. Looking at Crimean battle-pieces, in which French soldiers are shown to have achieved every thing—looking at a picture like Ingres's "Crowning of Homer," and noting French poets conspicuous in the foreground, while the figure of Shakespeare in one corner is half in and half out of the picture—reading the names of great men of all nations inscribed on the string-course running round the Palais de l'Industrie, and finding many unfamiliar French names, while (strange oversight, as we must suppose) the name of Newton is conspicuous by its absence; we see exemplified a national sentiment which, generating the belief that things not French deserve little attention, acts injuriously on French thought and French progress. From Victor Hugo's magniloquent description of France as the savior of nations, down to the declamations of those who urged that were Paris destroyed the light of civilization would be extinguished, we see, throughout, the conviction that France, is the great teacher, and by implication needs not to be a learner. The diffusion

  1. Times, January 22, 1873.