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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/312

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

earliest and crudest conception of tribal ethics, prevailed at least as late as the reign of Edward III—i. e., till about the middle of the fourteenth century; and long after this period it was exceedingly difficult to enact and almost impossible to enforce laws for the protection of foreigners, so deeply rooted and intense was the prejudice against them. Even far down into the eighteenth century they continued to be regarded with extreme suspicion, and were often subjected to gross indignities, independently of any personal qualities or any peculiar conduct on their part. The mere fact of their alienage sufficed to kindle against them the anger of the populace and turn the masses into an unruly mob. This is still the mental attitude of the cockney, and cockneyism is only a local form of philistinism by no means confined to the precincts of Bow Bells.

The laws of Venice, as expounded by Portia in the case of Shylock vs. Antonio, discriminated against aliens as opposed to citizens in a manner extremely fatal to the plaintiff and exceedingly characteristic of mediæval legislation.

Under the influence of the political panic caused by the excesses of the French Revolution, Lord Grenville succeeded, in 1793, in persuading the British Parliament to pass an alien bill, in which the spirit of feudalism reasserted itself; and since the abolition of this retrogressive law, which was effected chiefly through the enlightened energy of George Canning, the leaders of the Tory party have repeatedly endeavored to re-enact it. In every age and every country landed aristocracies have always shown a marked tendency to narrowness, provincialism, and distrust in their international relations. Indeed, from time immemorial, agricultural communities have been excessively conservative in this respect and hostile to progress; whereas commercial states and cities, whose prosperity is in proportion to their cosmopolitanism and dependent upon it, are naturally philallogeneal (to coin a word from the Greek of the Alexandrian patriarch Cyril, who unfortunately seldom exemplified in his conduct the virtue expressed by the epithet), or friendly to foreigners and easily accessible to influences from without.

Even in America, where all portions of the population are more mobile and undergo more rapid and radical changes than in other lands, the farmers are notoriously tenacious of old ideas and suspicious of reformatory movements of all kinds, following their traditions and clinging to their prejudices long after artisans and other handworkers of the manufacturing centers and large cities have cast aside these notions as obsolete and injurious.

All European governments appear to be periodically or epidemically affected with spasms of antipathy to aliens. France suffered from a particularly severe attack of this sort just before