Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/737

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717
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

depression of the other, and a decreased regard for the institutions it originates. Speaking of the "so-called National Liberals," he says: "A friend of mine was lately present at a discussion, in the course of which a professor of philosophy, of the University of ——, was very eloquently, and with perfect seriousness, contending that only one thing was now wanting to complete our German institutions—a national costume. Other people, who, no doubt, are fully aware of the ridiculousness of such things, are, nevertheless, guilty of an equally absurd, and even more intolerable encroachment on individual liberty; since, by proposing to establish a national church, they aim at constraining the adherents of the various religious bodies into a spiritual uniform. Indeed, I should hardly have thought it possible that a German government could encourage such monstrous propositions, if they had not been expounded to me at the Ministry of Public Worship."

Saying no more about patriotism and its perverting effects on sociological judgments, which are indeed so conspicuous all through history as scarcely to need pointing out, let me devote the remaining space to the perverting effects of the opposite feeling—anti-patriotism. Though the distortions of opinion hence resulting are less serious, still they have to be guarded against.

In England the bias of anti-patriotism does not diminish in a marked way the admiration we have for our political institutions, but only here and there prompts the wish for a strong government, to secure the envied benefits ascribed to strong governments abroad. Nor does it appreciably modify the general attachment to our religious institutions, but, only in a few who dislike independence, shows itself in advocacy of an authoritative ecclesiastical system fitted to remedy what they lament as a chaos of religious beliefs. In other directions, however, it is displayed so frequently and conspicuously as to affect public opinion in an injurious way. In respect to the higher orders of intellectual achievement, undervaluation of ourselves has become a fashion, and the errors it fosters react detrimentally on the estimates we make of our social régime, and on our sociological beliefs in general.

What is the origin of this undue self-depreciation? In some cases, no doubt, it results from disgust at the jaunty self-satisfaction caused by the bias of patriotism, when excessive. In other cases, it grows out of affectation: to speak slightingly of what is English seems to imply wide knowledge of what is foreign, and brings a reputation for culture. In the remaining cases, it is due to ignorance. Passing over such of these self-depreciatory estimates of our powers and achievements as have partial justifications, I will limit myself to one which has no justification. Among the classes here indicated, it is the custom to speak disparagingly of the part we play in discovery and invention. There is an assertion occasionally to be met with in public journals, that the French invent and we improve. Not long since, it was confessed by