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VARIETY OF EUROPEAN CIVILIZATION.
among powerful states in a higher stage of civilization, it was hence less destructive than among the latter, and served but to develope and exercise courage and other martial and manly qualities.
With many important differences of detail, the faith and worship of these nations rested on one common basis. Their faith was an adoration of nature, her most glorious phenomena, and her hidden primal energies and mysteries. The sun and the stars, fire, the sea, and the elements; the mother earth herself, awful mountains, sacred groves and springs, were the objects of this nature-worship, mingled as it was with traditions and fables of ancient heroes, and concerning the earlier state of the earth and men. Many, indeed most of the conveniences and arts of life that have now become habitual to us, were then still unknown to the German, especially in the north. On the other hand, a deep and strong love for nature filled his breast with a joyous energy of life, whose sources are only too often dried up in the relations of more artificial society. Necessitous as the condition of these ancient nations may appear to us, they yet almost universally possessed one great good, which we have for the most part been obliged to sacrifice for other advantages,-freedom, to wit. It was fostered and maintained by their isolation and universal subdivision into petty states and tribes. This original freedom must be considered the decided characteristic of Europe as contrasted with Asia. In Asia we find from the very beginning great masses of states, and nations, and universal sovereignty ; in Europe everything was originally isolated; there was, for that very reason, a constant mutual rivalry, and each state developed itself in individual freedom. Asia may be called the land of unity, in which everything has been unfolded in great masses, and in the simplest relations ; Europe is the land of freedom, that is, of civilization through the antagonism of manifold individual and isolated energies. This variety has been at all times the characteristic of European civilization; for even after great states and nations had sprung up within it, the essential qualities of that original character remained. It has often been the unhappy conse-, quence of excessive subdivision, that although it has been favourable to freedom, yet, national unity, in spite of the efforts to attain it, could not be realized. This was the
case among the Greeks, and in a great measure also among the Germans. Nature herself had adapted Europe to this state of subdivision, by the many great and smaller sections into which European countries are divided by means of mountains and seas. The circumstance that Europe was peopled from Asia,—that all old European nations were originally Asiatic emigrants,—may also have been favourable to freedom. Colonies and emigrant tribes are ever prone thereto; the bonds of habit are left behind in the mother-country, and the original condition of society is restored. This rule held good in the most ancient times, precisely as it has been evinced in the most recent.
The remarks we have made upon the state of Europe in general, are peculiarly applicable to that of the Greek nation. In the earlier times it was divided into numberless petty states and tribes, which were connected only by their common origin, language, and mythology. It was only in consequenoe of the Persian invasions, that large states began to be formed in Greece, and ambition to take a bolder flight. For when, by the utmost exertion of all their energies and courage, the Greeks had successfully maintained their independence against superior force, the necessity of union was felt, and the snaller states rallied around two of the most considerable. But precisely because there were two, was the germ of jealousy and of internal discord already laid. Thus Sparta and Athens speedily became the centres of two parties, that were spread over the whole of Greece, and were animated with quite opposite principles. Sparta, agreeably to its nature as a land-power, was more favourable to the nobility, and became the head of the aristocratic party. Athens, being a commercial state, and therefore more inclined to the class of burgesses and to civic freedom, became the centre of the democratic party. How the Greeks themselves destroyed their own national strength in this grand struggle between Athens and Sparta, between aristocracy and democracy, this, as portrayed by the great historians of antiquity, is even still one of the most instructive historic pictures. The Greek nation, as a nation, perished utterly through this mutual destruction of its two mightiest and most distinguished races. Only here and there did a spark appear among the ashes, and but once again, in Alexander the Great, did Grecian energy burst
CONQUESTS OF ALEXANDER.
forth into a brilliant flame, to be once more speedily extinguished. If it can be averreu of any conqueror of the ancient world, that he had the power and the will not merely to destroy, but also to build up and found anew,—that he had original, bold, and great ideas, it may be averred of Alexander; and in these ideas he was passionately enthusi. astic, not coolly calculating, like Cæsar. It may be asked, whether the consequences to the world would not have been greater and more lasting, if Alexander, as his teacher Aristotle wished, and more than once expressed the wish, had confined himself to Europe, instead of seeking Eastern conquests,-if he had wholly subjugated the Greeks, and thereby moulded them into one nation, under a monarchy founded upon legal freedom ? If in this manner, during their fourishing period, they bad been cemented into a mighty whole, into one nation, which indeed they never were, the Greeks would have presented a noble spectacle to the world and to history. But at that time such a scheme would bave been scarcely practicable. They were too divided, already thoroughly corrupted, and all their energies extinct. In that case, the probable reward of Alexander would have been failure and ingratitude. Be that, however, as it may, an irresistible impulse urged Alexander towards Asia. The municipal character of the constitution and social system of the Greeks, their petty spirit of contention, and their over-refinement, may have appeared too narrow and contracted to his great mind. A decided predilection for Oriental grandeur breaks out through his whole life, and was made matter of reproach against him by the more narrow-minded of the Greeks. It may, perhaps, have been his leading idea to wish to fuse together · Oriental greatness and Grecian refinement, and combine in a perfect social and political system the respective advantages of Europe and Asia. On his death, however, the incoherent elements were again disjoined, and the whole structure fell to pieces. Among the several Græco-Macedonian kingdoms that were now formed in Egypt, Syria, Asia Minor, and Greece, relations speedily arose that bear a striking resemblance to certain epochs in modern history. Standing armies, treaties that were concluded or altered with as much display of the arts of diplomacy as ever modern times have known, in one word, a recognised system of the balance of power, This produced the same consequences at that period, as in the sequel it bas produced in every age, and always will produce. Perpetual wars,-namely, because the scales of the artificial balance never stand altogether motionless, but ever incline towards one side, or at least appear so to do,—and after such perpetual wars, mutual exhaustion and general disorganization. That one might not become too powerful, these Grecian states enfeebled each other so much, that at last they were all weak enough to be easily conquered by a new and unlooked-for power.
This destiny had Rome in the meanwhile been growing up. to fulfil. With a population, with manners, laws, and customs derived from the different nations that peopled central Italy, Rome, surrounded as she was by several powerful states, was necessitated, even from her origin, to carry on war, in order to defend herself, and to preserve the territories she had wrested from the latter. The cause of this ceaseless succession of wars lay in the Roman constitution itself. Indescribably severe was the oppression exercised on the people by the nobility. The people, moreover, were ever restless; but the means of warding off danger, when once war had become a habit, were always at hand. War had need only be perpetuated; patricians and plebeians alike loved it; but the patricians gained by it the most surely ; and now and then, by allowing the people to share in some of its advantages, any pressing danger would be easily averted, and the storm be once more laid. When in respect of her claims in Sicily and Spain, her growing aggrandizement had brought Rome in contact with Carthage, the powers she had long been gathering together were suddenly developed to an extent of greatness, that amazed the contemporary world, as it has done all succeeding ages. The struggle with Carthage, on which the very existence of Rome was staked, which called forth her highest efforts, and which brought her to the verge of destruction : this struggle it was that imparted to her that loftiness of spirit ; that magnanimity which continued to exist even in subsequent times. This greatness and magnanimity, portrayed as they are by eloquent historians, only too often lead us to forget much in the history of Rome, and in her dealings with the rest of the world, but which, viewed with the eye of humanity, cannot appear otherwise STATE OF NORTHERN EUROPE.
than both reprehensible and pernicious. Now had the power of Rome become irresistible; and it was easy for the Romans to put an end to the game of the balance of power among the Grecian states and kingdoms. At first interfering with dignity and apparent love of justice, they quickly began to assume a bolder tone, and at last dropping the mask, and throwing aside all reserve, they announced and assigned to the subjugated nations their long decided lot.
Harder was their task to subdue, or rather to extirpate, the nations of western and northern Europe. The warlike inhabitants of Spain, as well as the Celtic nations, were at length almost wholly subjugated; and so were even several Germanic tribes. But ainong the latter the national strength was by no means crushed; by them mankind was shortly to be saved, for Rome was now hurrying with rapid steps, to ber inevitable downfal. It was no longer the patrician order, but powerful individuals aiming at sovereignty, who, in these latter times, promoted warfare, and used devastated provinces, or half.exterminated nations, as means for amassing wealth, and as instruments of their ambition. Through the strife of parties, the establishment of despotism, the inevitable result of anarchic freedom in any state, was already at hand, when the ever-memorable contest between Rome and the Germanic nations broke out. Thus had this malady -the lust of power, the thirst after universal dominion spread and been transplanted from Asia constantly westward, and at last taken deep root in the midst of Europe.
Let us now cast a glance at the state of northern Europe. Three great and distinct races dwelt in central and northern Europe. The Celts inhabited upper Italy, the Alps, the whole of central France, a part of Spain, and the British isles. The Germans occupied Germany and the Scandinavian kingdoms ; for at that time the Suiones or Swedes, and the other inhabitants of those northern states, were accounted Germans, and constituted one people with them. It was not till long afterwards that the German language and nation, properly so called, took a peculiar development, and became distinct from the kindred Scandinavian race and language in Denmark and Sweden. One-third of Gaul, the north-western part, under the name of Belgium, was peopled not by Celts alone, but partly by tribes, either purely Germanic, or of the two races mixed. The earliest European seats of the Germanic nations.