TO preserve the benefits of what is called civilized life, and to
remedy at the same time the evil which it has produced ought to be
considered as one of the first objects of reformed legislation.
Whether that state that is proudly, perhaps erroneously, called
civilization, has most promoted or most injured the general happiness
of man, is a question that may be strongly contested. On one side, the
spectator is dazzled by splendid appearances; on the other, he is
shocked by extremes of wretchedness; both of which it has erected.
The most affluent and the most miserable of the human race are to be
found in the countries that are called civilized.
To understand what the state of society ought to be, it is
necessary to have some idea of the natural and primitive state of
man; such as it is at this day among the Indians of North America.
There is not, in that state, any of those spectacles of human misery
which poverty and want present to our eyes in all the towns and
streets in Europe. Poverty therefore, is a thing created by that which
is called civilized life. It exists not in the natural state. On the other
hand, the natural state is without those advantages which flow from
agriculture, arts, science, and manufactures.
The life of an Indian is a continual holiday, compared with the
poor of Europe; and, on the other hand it appears to be abject when
compared to the rich. Civilization therefore, or that which is so
called, has operated two ways to make one part of society more
affluent, and the other more wretched, than would have been the lot
of either in a natural state.
It is always possible to go from the natural to the civilized state,
but it is never possible to go from the civilized to the natural state.
The reason is, that man in a natural state, subsisting by hunting,
requires ten times the quantity of land to range over to procure
himself sustenance, than would support him in a civilized state,
where the earth is cultivated. When, therefore, a country becomes
populous by the additional aids of cultivation, art, and science, there
is a necessity of preserving things in that state; because without it
there cannot be sustenance for more, perhaps, than a tenth part of its
inhabitants. The thing, therefore, now to be done is to remedy the