Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/501

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
485
VERACITY.

and says that Darius thought a Greek who kept his word a notable exception.

Evidence of the relation between chronic hostilities and utter disregard of truth, is furnished throughout the history of Europe. In the Merovingian period—"the era of blood"—oaths taken by rulers, even with their hands on the altar, were forthwith broken; and Salvian writes—"If a Frank forswear himself, where's the wonder, when he thinks perjury but a form of speech, not of crime?" After perpetual wars during the two hundred years of the Carolingian period, with Arabs, Saracens, Aquitanians, Saxons, Lombards, Slavs, Avars, Normans, came the early feudal period, of which H. Martin says:—

"The tenth [century] may pass for the era of fraud and deceit. At no other epoch of our history does the moral sense appear to have been so completely effaced from the human soul as in that first period of feudalism."

And then, as an accompaniment and consequence of the internal conflicts which ended in the establishment of the French monarchy, there was a still-continued treachery: the aristocracy in their relations with one another "were without truth, loyalty, or disinterestedness. . . . Neither life nor character was safe in their hands," Though Mr. Lecky ascribes the mediæval "indifference to truth" to other causes than chronic militancy, yet he furnishes a sentence which indirectly yields support to the induction here made, and is the more to be valued because it is not intended to yield such support. He remarks that ' ' where the industrial spirit has not penetrated, truthfulness rarely occupies in the popular mind the same prominent position in the catalogue of virtues "as it does among those" educated in the habits of industrial life."

Nor do we fail to see at the present time, in the contrasts between the Eastern and Western nations of Europe, a like relation of phenomena.

 

Reflection shows, however, that this relation is not a direct one. There is no immediate connection between bloodthirstiness and the telling of lies. Nor because a man is kind-hearted does it follow that he is truthful. If, as above implied, a life of amity is conducive to veracity, while a life of enmity fosters unveracity, the dependencies must be indirect. After glancing at some further facts, we shall understand better in what ways these traits of life and character are usually associated.

In respect of veracity, as in respect of other virtues, I have again to instance various aboriginal peoples who have been thrust by invading races into undesirable habitats; and have there been left either in absolute tranquillity or free from chronic hostilities