10 DECEMBER 1842, Page 14


THIS title is appropriate enough, if not sufficiently comprehensive. The object of Dr. VAUGHAN'S work is really to trace the progress of human advancement ; and it treats of Great Cities, because till men congregate together in cities, no advance beyond a savage or barbarous state is practicable ; and although the social influence of great cities in the present time is handled more elaborately than as regards the past, Dr. VAUGHAN takes a survey of urban life in ancient times and the middle ages, to compare it with the condition of the rural inhabitants during the same periods. From this examination the author deduces the conclusion, that not only are cities the chief means by which improvement has taken place in morals, letters, and the fine and useful arts, (including agriculture itself,) but that the present tendency to form great cities is not to be viewed as an alarming symptom ; the effects being upon the whole beneficial, though not devoid of some peculiar evils and dangers. This general account of the Age of Great Cities scarcely, how- ever, conveys a true idea of the full scope of the work, because its treatment is more extensive than its nominal theme. In the in- troduction, Dr. Veycrux exhibits a brief but pithy view of the spirit at animates feudalism, in its conflict with the tendencies of mod. ,society. In his survey of the ancient cities of Asia, Greece, sad Rome, he sketches the social and moral condition of the period, and displays, though perhaps in too forced and artificial a manner, the classes and characteristic appearance of their in- habitants. When discussing the tendency of modern society to the formation of great cities, be passes in review the effects of domestic slavery in the classical and feudal times, its abolition by means of the clergy, and the position which advancing civilization has given to woman, as well as the influence of Christianity and the Reforma- tion on these and other features in existing society. In those sections which refer more immediately to his nominal theme,—the influence of great cities as regards science, literature, art, morals, religion, and popular intelligence,—he touches incidentally upon many facts connected with these great questions, whilst reasoning upon the theory or opinions he is putting forth. The purpose of this publication is to present in conjunction with Congregationalism and The Modern Pulpit the author's views of the character and tendencies of modern British society. Like all the other works of Dr. VAUGHAN, it exhibits force of style, breadth of view, and learning and experience elevated by philosophy ; but as a whole it cannot be rated as the most successful of his publications. The difference we have noted, formal as it appears, between the nominal title and true scope of the book, seems to have extended deeper, even to the author's mind : so that though the main posi- tion respecting the advancement of the human race, and the con- nexion of that advancement with great cities, is true, the omission of other causes that have contributed to the same effect, and per- haps an advocate-like manner of arguing the question, give a one- sided and (in its primitive sense) a partial air to great portions of the work. Another cause of the same effect seems to be an object Dr. VAUGHAN had in his mind, if not in his plan—which was to refute the notion advanced by a certain class of extreme Tories that great manufacturing-cities are wens, and that their removal from the earth, no matter by what means, would be highly de- sirable. To some extent these defects are critical; but they carry this practical consequence in their train, that reasoning predomi- nates over exposition, opinions over facts. The reasoning, too, has somewhat of a sermonizing character, inferior in composition to other of Dr. VAUGHAN'S works. The sentiments and diction seem often cast in a mould; the mould, indeed, of just design and excel- lent workmanship, but turning out something of the sameness and lifelessness which result from the mechanical.

This criticism applies to the general character of the work : the earlier parts, and numerous passages scattered throughout the vo- lume, are distinguished by closeness of matter, justness with novelty of view, and eloquent composition. From these better passages we will take our extracts.


If the history of cities and of their influence on their respective territories be deducted from the history of humanity, the narrative remaining would be, as we suspect, of no very attractive description. In such case, the kind of pic- ture which human society must everywhere have presented, would be such as we see in the condition, from the earliest time, of the wandering hordes of Mon- golians and Tartars, spread over the vast flats of Central Asia. In those regions scarcely any thing has been " made " by man. But this most happy circum- stance, as it seems to be accounted—this total absence of any thing reminding you of human skill and industry—has never been found to realize our poetic idzas of pastoral beauty and innocence. It has called forth enough of the squalid and of the ferocious, but little of the refined, the powerful, or the generous. • • • If anything be certain, it would seem to be certain that man is constituted to realize his destiny from his association with man, more than from any contact with places. The great agency in calling forth his capabilities, whether for good or for evil, is that of his fellows. The picturesque, accordingly, may be with the country, but the intellectual, speaking generally, must be with the town. Agriculture may possess its science, and the farmer, as well as the landowner, may not be devoid of intelligence ; but in such connexions, the science and intelligence, in common with the nourishment of the soil, must be derived, in the main, from the studies prosecuted in cities, and from the wealth realized in the traffic of cities. If pasturage is followed by tillage, and if til- lage is made to partake of the nature of a study and a science, these signs of improvement are peculiar to lands in which cities make their appearance, and they become progressive only as cities become opulent and powerful.


Commercial credit, from its humblest to its very highest form, is based on moral confidence—confidence, not so much perhaps in what the individual trusted might probably do if left to himself, as in what be will be constrained to do rather than brave the resentment with which the moral feelings of society would be prepared to visit the unjust or dishonourable. If much should be wanting in the principle of the individual, much will be supplied by the prin- ciple of society; and if the man should wholly fail in this respect, the com- munity will not. With every step in social advancement, this system of credit widens, and becomes more intricate ; and in the greatness of its compass, and in the delicacy of its details, we perceive that as men become more opulent and civilized, they learn to place increasing confidence in each other, manifestly regarding each other as more trustworthy—more moral. In all these respects, the morality of law is the public morality embodied. We may add, that order, punctuality, promptitude, courage, all are more or less necessary to mercantile success, and all are in the same Segree necessary as elements of moral habit. Nor can it be less obvious, that the constant and earnest occupation which so effectually precludes idleness, must do much to preclude vice.


The moat ancient and the most unsuspicious account we possess concern- ing the early stages of human society, and the vices or virtues natural to them, is supplied by Moses; and this account is far from being of a kind to sanction the notion that the life of wandering herdsmen, or of any compara- tively rude people, is indeed favourable to morals. The book of Genesis is very instructive on this point. The narrative which speaks of Tamar as taking her place by the way-side, in the manner under- stood as that of a harlot, is sufficient to show that vice in that form had become a matter of regular avocation even in those times. Judah, one of the worthiest of the sons of Jacob, fell readily into the snare which was thus laid for him ; and when it became known to him that his guilt in that mat:er was the guilt of incest, the woman being his own daughter-in-law, we see no signs of the remorse and penitence which such a discovery might have been expected to produce. Abraham lived in constant apprehension on account of the beauty of Sarah, fearing lest some man should murder him in order to possess her person ; and she was made to pass in consequence as his sister. We have read the story of the wife of Potiphar. We remember the violence suffered by Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, at Sechem, and the treachery and cruelty practised on the people of Sechem by the brothers of Dinah, to avenge her dishonour, not- withstanding the manifest repentance of the individual who had done the wrong. And if the conduct of these brothers toward their younger brother Joseph, and toward their father, the aged Jacob, may be taken as indicating the kind of moral feeling natural to a pastoral and partially civilized state of society, there is certainly little in such a retrospect that could prompt any

moral man to desire a return to it. Nor is the picture much improved if we look to the history of the relationship previously subsisting between Jacob and Esau, and between Isaac and Ishmael. In that connexion we can see little to admire in the conduct either of Sarah or Rebekah. And who can have read the account of the deceitful and cruel dealing practised by Laban on his young kinsman Jacob—practised, too, with so much hardened effrontery—and not feet indignant that this man of the herds should have become so much an adept in the science of a cunning and pitiless selfishness, as to have left little to be acquired in that shape by any in the race of knaves that should come after him ? If we meet with facts like these in connexion with the line of families to whom Divine revelation was committed, and to whom the Divine promises especially per- tained, what might we not expect elsewhere?


It is to a defective estimate of female character that we must trace the practice of polygamy, so common in the East. In that pernicious usage alone, we see a cause sufficiently potent to prevent any nation adopting it from be- coming either free or great. Polygamy converts the family circle into a cal- dron of passions most repugnant to concord and happiness ; and nations are made up of collections of families. In such families, every new wife must be- come a new element of rivalry, and the children of the some father become acquainted with the relationship which is common to them only to become enemies on account of the relationship in which they stiffer. Even the conju- gal relation, in such cases, has commonly a stronger tendency to cherish the malevolent than the milder affections; and the same may be said of the relations of brother and sister. The proper fruit of polygamy, throughout the domestic circle, is distrust in the place of confidence, and a disposition to cherish as i ever-rankling animosity in place of the tenderest attachments. Nor is this all : it is an institute which, in its general effect, first degrades women, and then allows them to become the educators and rulers of the class of men who should be as educators and rulers to all beside! Where this usage prevails, princes receive their education in the seraglio; and, in general, the effect of their early training is sufficiently observable to the end of their days.

In Greece and Rome, a man was the husband of one wife, but that wife was in scarcely any sense his equal. His servants were slaves; his wife was the guardian of his children ; and his home embraced little that could serve to abate the roughness of temper and manner likely to be induced by long familiarity with the cares of private occupation, or with the storms of public life. Athens, indeed, at one period, possessed accomplished women ; but they were women who, in breaking through the restraints of usage, lost in virtue more than i they had gained in social position. In Rome the same course was pursued, and the same consequence followed ; or if something more of importance was --eded to the weaker sex, it was that their finer and characteristic qualities might be in a great measure effaced, and that they might be assimilated to the harder and coarser features of men, too much after the manner of the women A Sparta. Thus, in antiquity, the milder sentiments natural to woman, were rarely suffered to make their just impression on man. Domestic habits in the case of the chief man of a household, became, in consequence, too much characterized by reserve, hardness, selfishness, and absence from home. At home there were none with whom he could unbend, as there were none whom custom had allowed to become properly familiar with his thoughts and solicitudes; nor was relief always attainable when sought from abroad. In that quarter, rival interests were much too common to admit of frequent expressions of confi- dence. Amidst the jostling' and anxieties of ordinary life, and amidst the dis- charge of the sterner acts of public duty, men needed much more of a softening influence than was thus afforded them. The moral feeling must always lose in freedom, tenderness, and power, when concealed and pent up after this man- ner by artificial circumstances.


Portugal, Spain, and Italy, have continued their adhesion to the old faith ; and to this day they are the victims of the old decrepitude. Nations upon the threshold of those countries have been making every sort of progress, with un- precedented rapidity, during the last three centuries; and during that period those kingdoms have not been merely stationary, but in most respects retro- grading. The proud power of Spain has passed away, and the dreams of rege- nerating Portugal and Italy, in what have they ended? It is true, Germany and France have become great without becoming strictly Protestant. But the Catholicism of Germany has always been greatly modified by the presence and ascendancy of the antagonist faith ; and the spirit and institutions of France derive much of their character from an indifference with respect both to the old faith of Europe and to the new.


Even in Athens and Rome, the absence of printing was sufficient to render literary tastes the distinction of a class rather than the acquisition of a people. Without the printing-press, the only existence of books must be in the shape of costly manuscripts. The possession of a library, accordingly, was restricted to the rich, and the classes below them were almost without a stimulus even to learn to read. In classical antiquity, mental culture, even in the case of the educated, followed much more from what men heard than from what they read. Classical authors, in consequence, wrote to the few and not to the many. Hence, in great part, the patient elaboration by which their works are characterized. In general, the men who bought books were the men who could best judge of them. Authors who commended themselves to a lower level of discernment, did so at the hazard of not finding either purchasers or readers. It should be observed, therefore, that in those times the republics in letters, in common with the republics in politics, were such in name much more than in reality ; the number of the privileged, who shared in the in- fluence of literature directly and powerfully, being very small compared with the number of the commonalty, who were affected by it only indirectly and feebly.