Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/141

This page has been validated.






BY far the greatest advantage is that on which I observed before—that to which I drew all the attention I was able by making the first of these essays an essay on the Preliminary Age. The first thing to acquire is, if I may so express it, the legal fibre; a polity first—what sort of polity is immaterial; a law first—what kind of law is secondary; a person or set of persons to pay deference to—though who he is, or they are, by comparison scarcely signifies.

"There is," it has been said, "hardly any exaggerating the difference between civilized and uncivilized men; it is greater than the difference between a tame and a wild animal," because man can improve more. But the difference at first was gained in much the same way. The taming of animals, as it now goes on among savage nations, and as travellers who have seen it describe it, is a kind of selection. The most wild are killed when food is wanted, and the most tame and easy to manage kept, because they are more agreeable to human indolence, and so the keeper likes them best. Captain Galton, who has often seen strange scenes of savage and of animal life, had better describe the process: "The irreclaimably wild members of every flock would escape and be utterly lost; the wilder of those that remained would assuredly be selected for slaughter whenever it was necessary that one of the flock should be killed. The tamest cattle—those which seldom ran away, that kept the flocks together, and those which led them homeward—would be preserved alive longer than any of the others. It is, therefore, these that chiefly become the parents of stock and bequeath their domestic aptitudes to the future herd. I have constantly

  1. From advance-sheets of "Physics and Politics," forming vol. ii. of "The International Scientific Series." The present article is a portion of Mr. Bagehot's chapter on "The Use of Conflict."