14 DECEMBER 1844, Page 12


THE unequal and apparently fortuitous development of skilled labour in different regions is curious enough. Not a letter or newspaper is received from South Australia but brings a notice of some new and ingenious application of mechanical power. Mr. SMITH of Deanston, at a recent meeting of the Glasgow Philoso- phical Society, while giving an account of a visit he had paid to he island of Lewis, (the most remote of the Hebrides,) mentioned

that the women there were only beginning to abandon the use of the " rock " in flax-spinning. On the main-land of Scotland the Dutch spinning-wheel superseded the use of the " rock " a hun- dred years aao • and there the factories have already in a great measure banished the spinning-wheel from cottage and hall; but now the matrons and maidens of Lewis are thronging to Stornaway to buy those obsolete implements, as the latest and most wonderful

invention of human ingenuity. The Hebrides were civilized when the North of England was yet wrapt in barbarism. The CARETS,

ELLISES, and MeasrENs of Northumbria, came from Iona : and yet in one island of the Hebridean group—not two days' sail from Glasgow—a very primitive and simple piece of machinery is won- dered at with all the freshness of novelty, while a machine which reaps, binds, and thrashes grain all at once, is said to be in active operation near the Antipodes, in a land which fifty years ago had been seen only by kangaroos and a race of men who form a kind of intermediate grade between kangaroos and human beings. It would be a mistake to confound the Hebridean lack of in- ventive ingenuity and enterprise—the indifference which has kept them so long contented with old, rude, industrial processes—with the absence of civilization. In point of intellectual and moral culture, the inhabitants of Lewis are not behind their neighbours of the main-land. They know and observe their duties to God and man as well; they read and write, and criticize as learnedly the doctrines of their minister. Their minds have a respectable store of ab- stract ideas, which not only serve them as materials for speculation and conversation, but regulate their conduct in society. They are a people who attained a long time back to a respectable grade of civilization, and have remained stationary there. Generation after generation has been cast in the exact mould of that which pre- ceded it. Civilization has not retrograded, but neither has it ad- vanced. It has become a stereotype civilization, after the fashion of the Chinese.

Perhaps latent civilization would be the more appropriate phrase. The stagnant condition of communities in a state of stationary civilization endures only so long as they receive no impetus from without. If accident cast any member of such a community into some more busy and stirring scene of action, he enters upon it with all the advantages of the discipline be has received in youth. A people with an inferior civilization has been frequently known, under the impulse of circumstances which forced them to be active, to make more rapid progress in mechanical arts than a people of superior civilization from which such a stimulus has been withheld. But an individual of the former people thrown among the latter easily acquires the knowledge of their improved methods, and applies them with greater energy and effect. This is exemplified in vaarked and striking manner in the success of Chinese emi- greats among the Javanese and Malaya—races which from their contact with Hindoos and Mahomedans have been stimulated to advance in some things beyond the stereotyped forms of civil government and mechanical processes of China. Perhaps the operation of the same principle is illustrated in the success of Scotch adventurers in England during the eighteenth century. The lucky establishment of parochial schools had disseminated an unusually high grade of average intellectual culture through the whole of Scotland ; but this could not shake Scotsmen out of their Glenburnieism so long as they vegetated at home. When forced to bustle about among strangers in a strange land, its advantages were felt.

Intimately connected with this phenomenon of stationary civiliza- tion is the fact, that, without an exception, the tribes or nations which are civilized at this day were already within the pale of civi- lization at their first appearance in history—that the tribes which were savage when the world began to have records are savage still, or have disappeared. There is no instance of a savage tribe hav- ing been civilized. The civilization of the Arabs, Copts, Greeks, and Latins, preceded the historical era. The Gauls and Britons of CICERO and Cxsaa had a civilization of their own. The unci- vilized tribes among which the colony of Carthage was planted, appear to survive in the Berbers of our day, to whom the institu- tions of civilized society are as unknown as to their ancestors. The gipsies of Europe, notwithstanding their contact with civilized communities for centuries, are still unreclaimed. The descendants of the civilized Aztecs and Peruvians survive in the Spanish re- publics ; but no attempt to gain over the Indians of the woods to civilized habits has yet succeeded. There would almost appear to be the same insuperable distinc- tion between civilized and savage races as between domestic cattle and the bison or buffalo. In form they differ little, but their natures are dissimilar. As far as we can trace back the history of our race, the domestic animals have been its companions and servants, and none have ever been reclaimed from the wild races of animals to adopt the same habits of companionship and servitude. If savage and civilized men, in like manner, resemble each other only in physical structure and outward lineaments—if in the intellects and disposi- tions of these two classes of the genus honzo there, be a radical dif- ference which cannot be effaced—it is of much consequence that the fact should be established beyond doubt. Savage tribes have suffered grievous wrongs in times past—in times not long past—at the hands of civilized men. A confirmed habit of justice—a more refined habit of benevolence—requires that these injuries should not be repeated. But in order to guard against their repetition, we must know with whom we have to deal,—whether with younger brothers, who may in time be received into partnership; or with imperfectly-organized minds, who must all their lives continue in a state of pupilage.