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COUNT JOSEPH DE MAISTRE, in his “Principe Générateur des Constitutions Politiques” (Par. LXI.), says: "All nations manifest a particular and distinctive character, which deserves to be attentively considered.”
This thought of the great Catholic writer requires some development.
It is not by a succession of periods of progress and decay only that nations manifest their life and individuality. Taking any one of them at any period of its existence, and comparing it with others, peculiarities immediately show themselves which give it a particular physiognomy whereby it may be at once distinguished from any other; so that, in those agglomerations of men which we call nations or races, we see the variety everywhere observable in Nature, the variety by which God mani. fests the infinite activity of his creative power.
When we take two extreme types of the human species—the Ashantee of Guinea, for instance, and any individual of one of the great civilized communities of Europe—the phenomenon of which we speak strikes us at once. But it may be remarked also, in comparing nations which have lived for ages in contiguity, and held constant intercourse one with the other from the time they began their national life, whose only boundaryline has been a mountain-chain or the banks of a broad river. They have each striking peculiarities which individualize and stamp them with a character of their own.
How different are the peoples divided by the Rhine or by the Pyrenees! How unlike those which the Straits of Dover run between! And in Asia, what have the conterminous Chinese and Hindoos in common beyond the general characteristics of the human species which belong to all the children of Adam ?
But what we must chiefly insist upon in the investigation we are now undertaking is, that the life of each is manifested by a