advanced, ideas, at least at times, played a greater part than environment. Thermopyle cannot be explained by climate. In the later stages of human development, nature is largely subject to man, and environment counts for comparatively little. ?There shall be no Alps!? says Napoleon. Charles Kingsley
?The spirit of ancient tragedy was man conquered by circumstance; the spirit of modern tragedy is man conquering circumstance.? Yet many national characteristics can be attributed to physical surroundings, and so far as this is the case they are due to the ordering of God?s providence. Man?s need of fresh water leads him to rivers ? hence the original location of London. Commerce requires seaports ? hence New York. The need of defense leads man to bluffs and hills ? hence Jerusalem, Athens,. Rome, Edinburgh. These places of defense became also places of worship and of appeal to God.
Goldwin Smith, in his Lectures and Essays, maintains that national characteristics are not congenital, but are the result of environment. The greatness of Rome and the greatness of England have been due to position. The Romans owed their successes to being at first less warlike than their neighbors. They were traders in the center of the Italian seacoast, and had to depend on discipline to make headway against marauders on the surrounding hills. Only when drawn into foreign contest did the ascendancy of the military spirit become complete, and then the military spirit brought despotism as its natural penalty. Brought into contact with varied races, Rome was led to the founding of colonies. She adopted and assimilated the nations, which she conquered, and in governing them learned organization and law. Parcere subjectis was her rule, as well as debellare superbos. In a similar manner Goldwin Smith maintains that the greatness of England is due to position. Britain, being an island, only a bold and enterprising race could settle it. Maritime migration strengthened freedom. Insular Position gave freedom from isolation. Isolation however gave rise to arrogance and self-assertion. The island became a natural center of commerce. There is a steadiness of political progress, which would have been impossible upon the continent. Yet consolidation was tardy, owing to the fact that Great Britain consists of several islands. Scotland was always liberal, and Ireland foredoomed to subjection.
Isaac Taylor, Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, has a valuable chapter on Palestine as the providential theater of divine revelation. A little land, yet a sample land of all lands, a thoroughfare between the greatest lands of antiquity, it was fitted by God to receive and to communicate his truth. George Adam
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