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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/92

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Part II.

open to the ambitious. No republic, no limited monarchy, ever arose among them. Despotism pure and simple is all they ever knew, or are even now capable of appreciating.


Woman among the Turanian races was never regarded otherwise than as the helpmate of the poor and the plaything of the rich; born to work for the lower classes and to administer to the gratification of the higher. No equality of rights or position was ever dreamt of, and the consequence was polyandry where people were poor and women scarce, and polygamy where wealth and luxury prevailed; and with these, it need hardly be added, a loss of half those feelings which ennoble man or make life valuable.

Neither loving nor beloved in the bosom of his own family,—too much of a fatalist to care for the future,—neither enjoying life nor fearing death,—the Turanian is generally free from those vices which contaminate more active minds; he remains sober, temperate, truthful, and kindly in all the relations of life. If, however, he has few vices, he has fewer virtues, and both are far more passive than active in their nature,—in fact, approach more nearly to the instincts of the lower animals than to the intellectual responsibilities of the highest class of minds.


No Turanian race ever distinguished itself in literature, properly so called. They all possessed annals, because they loved to record the names, the dates, and the descent of their ancestors; but these never rose to the dignity of history even in its simplest form. Prose they could hardly write, because none of the greater groups ever appreciated the value of an alphabet. Hieroglyphics, signs, symbols, anything sufficed for their simple intellectual wants, and they preferred trusting to memory to remember what a sign stood for, rather than exercise their intellect to compound or analyze a complex alphabetical arrangement. Their system of poetry helped them, to some extent, over the difficulty; and, with a knowledge of the metre, a few suggestive signs enabled the reader to remember at least a lyric composition. But without a complex grammar to express and an alphabet to record their concejitions, it is hopeless to expect that either Epic or Dramatic Poetry could flourish, still less that a prose narrative of any extent could be remembered; and philosophy, beyond the use of proverbs, was out of the question.

In their most advanced stages they have, like the Chinese, invented syllabaria of hideous complexity, and have even borrowed alphabets from their more advanced neighbors. By some it is supposed that