L. T. Hobhouse, Morals in Evolution: A Study in Comparative Ethics, 1906.
1. We have seen that morality at its outset is bound up with the structure of the social group. Between members of any one community the obligations recognized may be many and stringent, while in relation to outsiders no obligations are recognized at all. The typical primitive community is, as it were, a little island of friends amid a sea of strangers and enemies. The consequences of the group principle we have traced in the history of warfare. We have seen it applied in its extreme form in the treatment of conquered enemies as men destitute of any title to consideration; we have seen that as moral development proceeds, it is moderated and softened, but that, except in the highest ethical thought, it does not wholly disappear. Throughout history we have the standing contrast of the comparative peace, order and co-operation within each organized society, and the disunion constantly tending to hostility found in the relations of different societies to one another. We have now to trace the operation of the same principle upon the structure of society itself.
The primitive community is, as a rule, small, but compact and homogeneous. There is always the distinction between its own members and outsiders; there is also a greater or less distinction in the rights enjoyed by the two sexes. In other respects the obligations constituting its ethical life are fairly uniform. But as society grows and its industrial life develops, as primitive barbarism gives way to some degree of culture, this simplicity of the early social organization breaks up, and now the group principle obtains a fresh development. Distinct groups arise within each society, within the limits of a single community, under one king or one governing body. Besides the group of free men -- to use that term provisionally -- who constitute the members of the community in the fullest sense of the word, there arise inferior classes, slaves or serfs or low-caste men who are in the community and yet not of it, who are subject to its laws and customs, but not possessed of all the civil rights which membership confers. These inferior groups within the community occupy a position which is morally and legally analogous to that of strangers and enemies. In extreme cases they are wholly devoid of rights, in other cases their inferiority is marked by a more or less serious lack of the civil rights enjoyed by their superiors. Historically, in the case of slaves, their position is, in point of fact, very largely that of incorporated enemies, and whether this corresponds to the historical fact or not, ethically speaking, the denial of personal rights from which they suffer is a consequence of that same group-morality which from the first contrasts friend and neighbour with stranger and enemy, and denies to the one the elementary rights of a human being, which are readily accorded to the other.
Not merely political privileges, but civil rights, the right of holding property, the right of personal freedom, the right of marriage, even the right of protection of life or limb, are wholly or in part denied to classes excluded from full membership of the community. Such distinctions of personal status are found |in one form or another in the great mass of societies, civilized or uncivilized, which stand above the lowest stages of culture. They persist well into the modem period, and are but slowly modified, and partially abrogated in proportion as the whole principle of group-morality yields to ethical criticism. Of these distinctions the commonest is, of course, the distinction between slave and free, but slavery is in many cases replaced by serfdom and in others by caste. What is common to all three institutions is the derogation from full rights which they imply. In detail they are distinct, though the line of demarcation is not always easy to draw. We may say that the slave, properly regarded, is a man whom law and custom regard as the property of another. In extreme cases he is wholly without rights, a pure chattel; in other cases he may be protected in certain respects, but so may an ox or an ass. As long as he is for all ordinary purposes completely at his master's disposal, rendering to his master the fruits of his work, performing his work under orders, rewarded at his master's discretion, and liable to punishment on his master's judgment, he may, though protected in other relations, fairly be called a slave. If, on the other hand, he has by his position certain countervailing rights, e. g. to inherited property from which he cannot (except for some default) be dislodged, he becomes, though still liable to labour under his master's direction, still subject, perhaps, to punishment and still in an inferior legal position, no longer a slave, but a serf. Serf and slave alike belong to some definite master, public or private. A servile caste, on the other hand, is not necessarily in the ownership of any man or body of men. It is distinguished by a greater or less lack of personal rights, by social inferiority, and probably by a taboo cutting it off from intercourse with others. And as there may be servile castes falling below the normal level of free men, so there may be privileged castes of nobles possessing, as it were, an excess of rights, and these privileges may indirectly depress the position of the ordinary member of society and impair his freedom by withholding protection from him in relation to one of the nobility. Finally, the whole community may suffer a similar depression in relation to the king, who, in the extreme development of the despotic principle, becomes, as we have seen, eminent owner of all property and lord of the persons of his subjects. In such cases, though there may still be distinct grades in society, yet all subjects alike are in principle destitute of rights.
Now all these methods of the gradation of rights, if the phrase be allowed, rest ultimately on the principle of group-morality -- the principle that rights and duties do not attach to the human being as such, but are determined by extraneous considerations, social, political, or religious. The development which this principle attains varies very greatly in different societies, and depends upon economic and social, as well as on ethical and religious conditions; but its operation, in one form or another, persists throughout history, and is one of the dominant facts, if not the dominant fact, ethically considered, in the evolution of human society. In tracing its varied development, we shall for the most part follow the history of slavery and serfdom as the main line along which it runs. We shall, however, deal other forms which the principle assumes, as occasion requires.
2. In the primitive group, as has been said, we find, as a rule, no distinction of slave and free, no serfdom, no caste, and little, if any, distinction between chief and follower. Taking this statement alone, one might infer that the primitive savage realizes the ideal of the philosopher of a community of free men and equals; but the savage enjoys freedom and equality, not because he has realized the value of those conceptions, but because neither he nor his fellow is strong enough to put himself above his neighbour. Two conditions suffice to ensure the growth of slavery or of a servile caste in the savage world. The first condition is a certain development of industrialism. In a hunter tribe, which lives from hand to mouth, there is little occasion for the services of a slave. The harder and less interesting work can be put upon the women, and the chief occupation of the men is to fight. This brings us at once to the second condition, which is a measure of warlike prowess, giving to a tribe the means of supplying slaves from its captives. But not only must a tribe that is to obtain captive slaves, conquer; it must also refrain from putting its captives to death, and we have already seen how the difficulty of exercising such restraint militates against the rise of slavery in savage society, and how, in consequence, though the idea of slavery is widely diffused in the uncivilized world, the institution grows more important step by step with the development of civilization. We find many civilized peoples, where slavery has attained a luxuriant growth, retaining a tradition of a time at which there were no slaves,and these traditions may well preserve an historical truth. But the enslavement of the vanquished is not the only alternative open to a conquering people. Instead of apportioning the captive to individuals as their booty, they may reduce the conquered tribe collectively to a servile position. In that case we get from the first a system of public serfdom. In other cases, again, possibly as a development of this practice, the distinction of conqueror and conquered hardens into a distinction of caste sanctioned by region. Finally, the development of military organization, and the consequent rise of the power of the chief, are responsible for that form of "rightlessness" in which all members of the tribe become slaves of the king.1
In one or other of these different forms we find the conception of a class of men, wholly or partly destitute of rights, widely diffused throughout the uncivilized world. The special home of slavery is, of course, Negro Africa, where the exceptions in which the institution is not found are quite inconsiderable.2 In Oceania there is more variety. In some of the islands, as has been seen, war is but little known, and in these cases slavery is also absent;1 but there are other causes militating against development. In Melanesia cannibalism is frequent, and in some cases, for example in Fiji, slaves are kept for cannibal purposes.2 In Micronesia, again, a strongly-marked caste division partially replaces slavery, though there may be slaves in the proper sense in addition to the servile caste. Throughout Polynesia caste is more prominent than slavery.3 It is a Polynesian saying, that "a chief cannot steal," and in Tahiti, if a chief asks, "Whose is that tree, etc.," the owner answers ''Yours and mine.'' The killing of one of the lower by a member of the higher class is regarded as merely a peccadillo.4 In Micronesia the original principle of the constitution seems to have been a division into two castes, the one god-like, immortal and possessing all the power; the other having no souls, no property, no wives, and doing all the hard labour; but below these again were the enslaved prisoners.5 In the Malay region slavery is widely diffused, especially in the towns,6 though, as we shall see later, its forms differ, and in some cases, particularly under Mohammedan influence, the slave is by no means rightless. Among the rude Indian hill tribes the institution is naturally less developed. In some cases, as among the Bodos and Dhimals, there are apparently no slaves, and the same is said to be true of some of the Naga tribes. Other Nagas, however, make slaves of captives,7 and among many other hill tribes slaves are held.8 The nomad tribes of Central Asia, do not generally spare their captives, and still practise human sacrifice, but the richer tribes are slave-holders.1 Among the North American Indians slavery is but little developed east of the Rockies, though there were a few tribes which occasionally practised2 it as an alternative to the torture or adoption of prisoners. In the west and north, however, it was widely diffused,3 though here also, in some cases, the indiscriminate massacre of prisoners was the common alternative. In some tribes of tropical South America war captives are enslaved, but prisoners may also be put to death or adopted as members of the tribe.4 The dependence of slavery on the economic factor is shown by its regular increase at each economic grade. The following table5 shows the number of peoples who hold slaves either in permanence or as objects of a regular traffic; the second column reduces this number to a fraction of all the cases in each grade where information was obtained about war and warlike matters, this being the department of ethnography in which we are most likely to meet with statements as to slavery if it exists.
Fraction of the
Lower Hunters 1 .02 Higher Hunters 26 .325 Agriculture I 14.5 .33 Pastoral I 5.5 .37 Agriculture II 59.5 .46 Pastoral II 12 .71 Agriculture III 77 .78
The proportions show an increase at each grade1 which, rough as the classification necessarily is, and imperfect as our information must be, can hardly be altogether accidental. It is of interest to set side by side with these figures the corresponding table for "nobility," by which we mean an upper rank, other than the ruling chief with his immediate family, distinguished by privileges, greater or less, from the mass of the people.
NOBLES Cases Fractions Lower Hunters 0 0 Higher Hunters 9 .11 Agriculture I 1.5 .03 Pastoral I 3 .20 Agriculture II 19 .15 Pastoral II 4 .24 Agriculture III 23 .23
The proportions are much smaller, but the tendency is in the same direction.2 The same advance in social and industrial organization which tends to the formation of a servile class below the ordinary free man works, though less surely and rapidly, to the elevation of a small class above him.
Thus we may fairly say (1) that in the rudest tribes there are no class distinctions, the harder and more menial work falling often (though not always) upon the women; (2) as a tribe grows in culture, and especially in military strength, the first result is, as a rule, that the conquered enemies are sacrifices, eaten, tortured, or in any case put to death. But (3) with a certain softening of manners, or at any rate with a cooler perception of permanent advantage, prisoners are spared and enslaved. This grace is first reserved for women and children, but is afterwards extended to male captives. A class is thus formed who are within the jurisdiction of the conquering tribe, but from the point of view of law and morals remain outside it. Either in the form of a class of slaves or of a degraded quasi-servile lower caste, the presence of such an element in the population is a general feature in societies which have emerged from the lower savagery and the rawest militarism. On the strict principle of group-morality this class is destitute of rights, and only too often the principle is consistently carried out. The typical slave can neither marry nor hold property except on sufference. His very life is in his master's hands. He may be flogged, maimed, sold, pawned, given away, exchanged, or put to death.
3. In many slave systems, however, this "rightlessness" is qualified in various ways. How this qualification arises we shall best understand if we take a more complete view of the actual sources from which slaves are recruited. Hitherto we have spoken only of captives in war. But this, though probably the original method by which a servile class is formed, is not the only method by which it is recruited. Of other methods the first and greatest is inheritance -- for normally a slave's child is also a slave. Secondly, in most barbaric and semi-civilized societies the numbers of the slave class are swollen by other causes, principally by debt, crime, and the slave trade. In some cases slavery is the prescribed penalty for crime. More often the man who cannot pay the prescribed composition either falls into slavery himself as a debt-slave in order, as it were, to work out his debt, or sells, particularly under the sway of the fully developed patria potestas, his wife or child for that purpose. "What! shall I starve as long as my sister has children whom she can sell?" was the remark of an African negro to Burton -- a remark which comprises a whole chapter upon primitive ethics in a few words.
The formation of debtor-slaves, and even the increase of hereditary slaves, has, however, a certain softening influence upon the institution of slavery itself, for while the captive slave remains an enemy in the sight of law and morals and is therefore rightless, the debtor or the criminal was originally a member of the community, and in relation to him there is apt to arise some limitations of the power of the master. The family of the debtor-slave will not see him treated with unlimited cruelty; they retain some right of protection, however illogically, just as they retain protection over the purchased wife, however illogically. In fact, the slave is no longer a mere stranger or enemy. He is partially incorporated in the community and has some recognized rights, though by no means those of a free man. The improvement tends to extend itself to the hereditary slave who also was born in the community, though within the slave class. Thus there comes to be a distinction between the domestic slave and the slave who is captured or bought from abroad. The one remains a chattel-slave, the other is becoming a serf. There are thus many gradations of "rightlessness" in the servile status, and these must very briefly be passed in review.
Customs protecting the slave from undue tyranny are found in the barbaric and semi-civilized world, though in many cases they are not derived from barbaric ideas, but are traceable to the influence of Mohammedanism. In these customs the distinction between the domestic and the foreign slave is generally well marked. Illustrations of almost every degree in "rightlessness" may be drawn from African slavery. Thus, among the Foulah, house slaves are treated as members of the family, and are sold only in necessity or for a punishment, while war captives and purchased foreign slaves are wholly without rights. In Bambara captives are pure chattels, but house slaves have a good position and in some cases are treated as members of the family. Among the Timmanees, the Bulloms, and the Beni-amer, no one is sold as a slave who was not bought as such. Among the Mandingoes native slaves are protected, while others are at the mercy of the master to sell or kill. On the Congo the captive slave may be sold, but house slaves only after a palaver -- that is, with the consent of the community. Among the Barea and Kunama the master has no right of life and death over native slaves. At Timbuctoo no native can be enslaved at all. Among the West Equatorial tribes the slave may be killed by his master, but not sold abroad except for some transgression. At Nuffi a master may strike, but not mutilate or kill his slave. In Sokoto and among the Yolofs the captive slave may be sold at will, the born slave only after repeated chastisement. In Bihe pawn-slaves are protected, while bought ones can be arbitrarily punished and only in the case of their death is a small fine due from the owner to the king. Aimong the Mpongwe the house slave can only be sold for some offence, and here slaves call their master "father" and are well treated. The Fantis recognize the distinction between the slaves of their own tribe and those of other tribes, and among the Ibu, on the Niger, slaves can hold property, build houses and marry.1 They then rank as free, owing only yearly tax, and the relation, in fact, passes into a kind of light serfdom. Similarly at Sokoto, the slave is at about the age of twenty given a wife and set up in a hut in the country. At Boussa they farm the land on the metayer principle, and though in law the masters could sell them and take their wives, children and goods, in practice they enjoy much liberty and property.1 Various forms of serfdom, existing often side by side with slavery, are common in Africa, the serf cultivating the land and owing labour service or payment in kind, and sometimes holding property of his own.2
A right frequent in Mohammedan countries, found also in one or two instances of non-Mohammedan tribes, is that of changing the master. This a slave can effect by the legal process of noxoe datio, by which, on inflicting some injury on some man other than his own master, he, ipso facto, becomes that man's slave. Among the Barea and Kunama a native slave can simply leave for another village and so become free. In Zanzibar slaves obtain this right as the result of deliberate ill-treatment, and the same custom is found on the Congo, among the Apingi, and other West Equatorial tribes. In Ashanti slaves can commend themselves to a new master by giving him the right of life and death over them, and in Timbuctoo, if ill-treated, a slave may appeal to the court in order to be sold. Among the Beni-amer the distinction between the born slave and the foreign slave is well marked in the case of homicide. For the bought slave only the "wer" can be demanded, but the born slave can be avenged by blood. The marriage of slaves depends generally upon the will of the master. In relation to property their rights vary greatly, and here again the distinction of origin of slaves makes itself felt, e. g. among the Bogos and Marea a slave who is the son of a free-born man has the right to buy his freedom, a right which is denied to the slave by birth.3
Of the various tribes mentioned, those in which protection is carried furthest are for the most part either partially Mohammedanized or partially Christianized,4 and while some distinction between domestic and foreign slaves may be attributed to Negroland generally, such further amelioration of the slave's position as is to be found in barbarous or semi-civilized Africa is probably to be attributed to the higher ethics of a civilized religion.5 The same influence is found at work among the Malays, where the distinction of native and foreign slaves also re-appears. Speaking generally, the captive slaves are destitute of rights, and the capture and sale of slaves is a chief line of business among all Malays who trade in ships of their own. But crime and debt are also rich sources of slavery,1 and in some parts at least the slave has a measure of protection. In the Malacca Peninsula, where the influence of Islam is strong, the slave, if struck, may bring his master into court, and the slave woman who bears a child to her master goes free.2 The Battaks also, head-hunters though they are, put a limit on the master's right of punishment.3
Thus in the barbaric world we already find degrees of rightlessness, and a measure of legal or customary protection, at least for certain classes of slaves. This alleviation is often, but not always,4 traceable to the influence of one of the higher religions. The free man who has become a slave is not wholly cut off from membership of the community, but retains certain recognized rights, though by no means those which full membership confers. We have now to see how the idea of slavery, and of rightlessness generally, fare in the main forms of civilization.
4. In the early Babylonian Empire slavery was fully developed as an institution, though slaves were not so numerous as they afterwards became. The slave is spoken of in the contracts5 not as a man, but as a chattel. Slaves are reckoned in a transfer as so many pieces of goods. They were distinguished by a brand, and, if they were runaways, often wore fetters.6 They are recruited by capture, by debt, and by the sale of wives or children by husbands or fathers. They pass on a man's death to his heirs, and can be pawned, given away or sold. With the exception of debt-slaves, the Code of Hammurabi makes no provision for their protection against their masters. The only case in which it prescribes any treatment is that of the repudiation of their master, in which the penalty assigned is the comparatively light one of losing an ear. In practice, however, it would seem that the punishments for running away were severe.1 The provisions in the Code for cases of injury to a slave by some one other than his master are full of significance. The slave's life has its price, but clearly the price goes to the master, for in the passages which refer to the killing of a slave the law is that the offender shall render slave for slave. For example --
"If a doctor has treated the severe wound of a slave of a plebeian with a bronze lancet and has caused his death, he shall render slave for slave.
"If he has opened his abscess with a bronze lancet and has made him lose his eye, he shall pay money, half his price." 2
Similarly, the defaulting builder who causes a free man's death is punished by the law of retaliation, but if it is a slave who dies "he shall give slave for slave."3 This is pleasant for the master, but of no particular value to the slave, and so when sec. 199 says that if a man "has caused the loss of the eye of a gentleman's servant, or has shattered the limb of a gentleman's servant, he shall pay half his price," we may assume that it is the owner who benefits.4 The loss of life or limb by a slave is loss to the master, and is made good by compensating him -- so completely is the slave his chattel.6 Debt-slaves, however, were, as has been noticed, in a more favourable position. Their bondage is limited to three years. If a man has a debt, says clause 117, "and he has given his wife, his son, his daughter, for the money, or has handed them over to work off the debt, for three years they shall work in the house of their buyer or exploiter, in the fourth year he shall fix their liberty." Further, the person seized by a creditor in distraint is protected by retaliation or price, according as he is a free man or slave.8
In practice, the position of the Babylonian slave was probably much more favourable than it appears in legal theory. In the records of the New Kingdom, slaves often appear as principals in business transactions. They carry on trades or businesses, such as banking, and have a peculium which is virtually assured to them, though in law it may be their master's, and for which they pay a yearly tribute to the owner. Out of this peculium some slaves, if not all, might buy back their liberty.1 We find them entering into contracts with other slaves and even with free men, suing and sued at law, and in many ways acting as though free.2 On the other hand, they might be branded. The rich Itti-Marduk-Balatu buys two slaves, one marked on the ears and the eyes and one who is simply described as branded, for three minoe.3 This same great banker disposes of a slave girl to one purchaser after another for immoral purposes, and a contract selling a woman to a brothel-keeper is preserved.4 The slave girl was entirely at the disposal of her master, and indeed, if he totally neglected her, it was held that she would in time become a malevolent being with demoniac powers against whom magical conjurations were pronounced.5 Slaves were freely pawned, given away and sold. Putting all the facts together, it would seem that there were different classes of slaves, distinguished in practice and by custom if not in law, and that, while some of them had practical enjoyment of various important rights, the conception of chattel slavery had by no means disappeared.
Our information as to ancient Egyptian slavery is not so precise as it is for Babylon, and when dealing with a history extending over, perhaps, four or five thousand years, it is easy to make statements which would be true of one period, but would not hold of others. Some broad features, however, appear tolerably constant. The main sources of recruitment of slaves in the full sense of the term were capture and the slave trade. The conquering Egyptians did not always kill all their male captives, but frequently took them alive, and throughout their history down to the New Kingdom frequently organized warlike expeditions or razzias for the purpose of slave-hunting.6 Prisoners were taken for service on the public works,1 or to the harems, and it appears from the Tell-el-Amarna letters that, in addition to thousands of female slave captives, there was a regular tribute of girls from various places.2 On the public works, the pyramids, the great temples and palaces, the labour and lives of the captives were prodigally spent. Rameses IV., in one expedition for transporting great blocks of granite, employed 5000 common soldiers, 800 barbarian mercenaries, 2000 bond-servants of the temples and 200 officers. When foreign captives were not available the Pharaohs employed their subjects.3
An idea of the number of slaves in Egypt may be formed from the fact that in the cause of thirty years Rameses III. presented 113,433 to the temples alone.4 These slaves were apparently entirely at the disposal of their master, who removed them from place to place, sold them, used them as he pleased, pursued them if they succeeded in escaping, and had the right of re-capturing them as soon as he received information of their whereabouts. They worked for him under their overseers' orders, receiving no regular wages, and with no hope of recovering their liberty.5 The captives, however, apparently intermarried frequently with natives, and had families and descendants who, at the end of two or three generations, became assimilated with the indigenous races, and passed into the condition of serfdom. How far this serfdom extended, and what classes were free, it is difficult to say with precision.6 Erman points out that in the early Empire, if we went only by the monuments and representations in the tombs, we might conclude that there was no intermediate class between the great men in the kingdom, the priests and officers, on the one haud, and the crowd of labourers and serfs on the other; but probably there must have been some middle class which helped to bring Egyptian art and handicraft to their pitch of perfection.7 In the New Kingdom the peasant serfs were strictly part of the property of the crown, or the temple to which the land belonged. They were despised by the scribes, and their condition is the subject of many contemporary descriptions implying abject servility.
The following verses refer to the slaves --
" The poor child is only brought up,
That he may be torn from his mother's arms;
As soon as he comes to man's estate,
His bones are beaten like those of a donkey;
He is driven, he has indeed no heart in his body."1
Even more graphic are the descriptions in the Sallier papyrus --
" The stone-cutter, who seeks his living by working in all kinds of durable stone, when at last he has earned something, and his two arms are worn out, he stops; but if at sunrise he remain sitting, his legs are tied to his back. . . . When the (mason's) work is quite finished, if he has bread, he returns home, and his children have been beaten unmercifully (during his absence). The weaver within doors is worse off there than a woman; squatting, his knees against his chest, he does not breathe. If during the day he slackens weaving, he is bound fast as lotuses of the lake; and it is by giving bread to the doorkeeper that the latter permits him to see the light." 2
As in other ancient civilization debt was probably one source of slavery. At any rate, under the New Kingdom we have contracts of slavery in which a man or woman acknowledges him- or herself as the slave of another. All his or her property belonged to the master, and the status might be hereditary,3 but to judge from the wording, which is nearly the same as that of adoption, this form of servitude was easy. Documents relating to the sale of slaves from the same period are quite different in tone. We may suppose that in accepting servitude a man might retain certain rights which would not belong to a captive or hereditary slave.4
More than this, it would seem that even the free man, who was unrestricted in his power to move about and dispose of himself and his labour, was insecure unless he had his master, who would afford to him protection. Egyptian society, in fact, was organized upon a feudal basis.
"From the top to the bottom of the social scale every free man acknowledged a master, who secured to him justice and protection in exchange for his obedience and fealty. The moment an Egyptian tried to withdraw himself from this subjection, the peace of his life was at an end; he became a man without a master, and . . . without a recognized protector. . . . Any one might stop him on the way, steal his cattle, merchandise and property on the most trivial pretext, and if he attempted to protest, might beat him with almost certain impunity."1
Further, it is only in a qualified sense that freedom can be spoken of at all in relation to a country governed as Egypt was. As against the king or a great feudal lord, the Egyptian peasant often, if nominally free and possessed of his own plot of land, was without defence and without recognized rights. The tax-gatherer was in ancient Egypt what he remained to the Modern Period. Here is the description of him true to the life in the Sallier papyrus.2
"The scribe steps out of the boat at the landing-place to levy the tithe, and there come the keepers of the doors of the granary with cudgels and the negroes with ribs of palm-leaves, who come crying: 'Come now, corn!' There is none, and they throw the cultivator full length upon the ground; bound, dragged to the canal, they fling him in head first; his wife is bound with him, his children are put in chains; the neighbours, in the meantime, leave him, and fly to save their grain."
The system of forced labour was no less oppressive to the peasantry than that of the collection of taxes. The slaves were insufficient to cultivate the royal and seignorial lands, and the balance of the work fell upon the neighbouring peasantry, none being exempt except the destitute, soldiers on service, with their families, certain public employes and servitors of the temple. The work was hard, and enforced by the stick, and not only did it recur at regular periods, but in addition there were irregular corvees whenever it suited the king or lord to demand them.
The slave, properly so called, was not indeed wholly, or, at any rate, not at all times, destitute of rights. According to Diodorus his murder was punished with death, the object of the law being, in the view of the Greek historian, to keep people from bad actions not through differences of fortune, but rather from the nature of the actions themselves, and at the same time to accustom a man by care for slaves to avoid far more all offences against free men.1 This is a thoroughly Greek interpretation of the facts. It would probably be truer to say that in a despotic land like Egypt the distinction between free man and slave before the law was of less account than in a civic state. The king was by Egyptian principle master of the whole land of Egypt, owner of all property and lord of all men who dwelt therein. The Egyptian recognized duties to dependents, as appears from pleadings in the Book of the Dead, in which the deceased denies that he has oppressed those under him.2 But these are rather the duties of benevolent consideration than of legal right. Egypt is a typical Oriental monarchy, a country in which it may be rather said that all classes were rightless than that slaves were distinguished from free men by the lack of rights.
5. The history of slavery among the Hebrews is interesting, both for the strong distinction made between Jew and Gentile, and still more for the progress which we can trace in law and custom affecting the position of the slave. According to the later law all the Canaanites ought to have been utterly destroyed upon the conquest, but this represents an ideal of barbarity which there is no reason to think was ever realized, and narrative itself admits as much, especially in the case of the Gibeonites, who became "hewers of wood and drawers of water."3 Whether by capture or by purchase Gentiles clearly became slaves, and the law ended by regarding the Gentile as the slave whom a Hebrew ought in strict propriety to hold. Further, though the stranger is constantly recommended to consideration and just treatment, laws for the protection of the slave apparently apply in the main to the Hebrew only. We pass now to the consideration of these laws.
In the earliest code,1 the period of service for a male Hebrew is limited to six years. "In the seventh he shall go out free for nothing." But the case is contemplated that his master has given him a wife, and in that case she, with her children, would remain with her master, and he might therefore choose to abide also. If so, "then his master shall bring him unto God (that is, to the temple) and shall bring him to the door or unto the door-post, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever."2 The Hebrew father might sell his children into slavery, and the daughter who had thus been sold was not released in the seventh year, as were the men-servants; but she might be redeemed, and if not suitably married to the son of her master, regain her freedom. As to general protection, "If a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod and he die under his hand, he shall surely be punished" -- in what way is not stated. The protection given to the slave would be more valuable if it were not for the qualifying clauses which follow. "Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two he shall not be punished; for he is his money."3 This is chattel slavery partially ashamed of itself. The code further provides that either a male or female slave should obtain freedom for the loss of an eye or a tooth. As in the Code of Hammurabi,4 the master takes the value of the servant when he is killed by another man's ox, the price being fixed at thirty shekels of silver. It is a noteworthy inconsistency that retaliation is to be exercised upon the ox in this instance -- that is to say, it is to be stoned to death. But where the ox gores a free man or woman, retaliation can also be exercised upon the master (supposing he has been guilty of negligence) unless he can buy himself off. The distinction is significant of the true position of the slave as a chattel whose price must be made good, rather than as a human being for whom retaliation can be demanded.
The code of Deuteronomy does not make any fundamental change in the position of the slave, though here, as in other respects, it breathes a more humane spirit. In this code the Fourth Commandment reads differently, the remark being inserted " that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou." The insertion of this considerate reason is thoroughly in keeping with the character of the prophetic code. The Hebrew slave is still to be released in the seventh year, and released with gifts. "When thou sendest him out free from thee thou shalt not let him go away empty. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock," and so forth. "Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt and the Lord thy God redeemed thee."
The provisions as to the marriage of the slave to a wife provided by his master disappear, and the Hebrew woman is to be free as well as the man. Nor is there here any reference to the sale of daughters. The man-stealer is (as in the earlier code) to be put to death, but apparently only when offending against an Israelite;1 and by a not infrequent inconsistency the fugitive slave is not to be given up, but "shall dwell with thee, in the midst of thee, in the place which he shall choose within one of thy gates where it liketh him best. Thou shalt not oppress him."2
In the priestly code the most definite change is one which appears at first sight reactionary. The slave is now to now to be released, not in the seventh year, but in the year of Jubilee; yet, in other respects, the code is considerate to the Hebrew slave and indeed denies that he ought to be a bondman at all. "If thy brother be waxen poor," the true duty of the more fortunate Hebrew is to uphold him. "As a stranger and a sojourner shall he live with thee," but if he "sell himself unto thee, thou shalt not take him to serve as a bond-servant. As a hired servant and as a sojourner he shall be with thee; he shall sojourn with thee until the year of jubile."3
It is the Gentile -- and here is the true spirit of ancient slavery -- it is the Gentile who is the appropriate bondman. "As for thy bondmen and bondmaids . . . of the nations that are round about you, of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy." "Over your brethren ye shall not rule with rigour."
Thus the Levitican code comes as near as possible the abolition of Hebrew slavery. Nevertheless, it lengthens the term from seven years to fifty. The explanation of this change is probably to be found in a passage in Jeremiah,4 from which it appears that the provision for releasing the slaves in the seventh year was practically, if not avowedly, a novelty in Josiah's time. It is, of course, treated by Jeremiah as having belonged to the original Covenant; but nevertheless it appears from his account that King Zedekiah proclaimed this liberty as a new thing, doubtless in accordance with the recently promulgated code of Deuteronomy; and that, while it was temporarily obeyed, a relapse very speedily followed for which punishment by pestilence and famine is proclaimed. It would seem, therefore, that the law of Jubilee, while probably of ancient date and a survival of communal tenure so far as regards land, is applied to slaves in the hope of rendering the benevolent intentions of Deuteronomy a practical reality.1
In any case, regarded as a whole, the development of Hebrew law and custom in relation to slavery is an interesting example, on the one hand, of the amelioration of the slave's position by a distinct touch of humanitarian sentiment; and, on the other hand, of the persistence, owing to the dominance of an exclusive national religion, of the deep distinction between the domestic slave and the foreign.
6. India. -- In India, slavery was already known in the Vedic age. The institution persisted in the Brahmanic period, although its existence was denied by the Greek travellers of Alexander's time. Whether the Greeks only saw certain districts in which slaves were few or were misled by the absence of rural slavery is not certain, but the recognition of slavery as an institution in the Brahmanic law-books is perfectly clear. Manu distinguishes slaves of seven kinds --
"There are slaves of seven kinds, (viz.) he who is made a captive under a standard, he who serves for his daily food, he who is born in the house, he who is bought and he who is given, he who is inherited from ancestors, and he who is enslaved by way of punishment."
He proceeds to declare that, like the wife and the son, the slave has no property. The wealth which he earns is acquired for him to whom he belongs.
"A Brahmana may confidently seize the good of (his) Sudra (slave); for, as that (slave) can have no property, his master may take his possessions."
Quarrels with slaves are to be avoided. They should be treated, Manu says, "as one's shadow." If offended by them one should "bear it without resentment."1 Much more moderate rules for their punishment are laid down than by the Hebrew lawgiver.2
But slavery is of very secondary importance in Hindu society as compared with caste. It would be out of place here to attempt a full discussion of the origin and nature of caste in India. We have seen the more elementary forms of the institution in other races. In India it reached an altogether abnormal development, which is of more interest for the student of Hindu society than for the general history of ethics. Caste did not exist in the primitive society of Vedic times, though conditions out of which it in all probability arose were already present. The Aryans found themselves a conquering white minority among the subject dark-skinned population, and the contrast between the Aryan and the Dasyu is already deeply marked. "Varna," the Sanskrit word for caste, means originally colour, and some at least of the Sanskrit authorities adopted the distinction of colour as their explanation of the origin of the institution.2 In fact, towards the close of the Vedic age it would seem that the institution has taken shape. Four castes are mentioned in the Purusha-Sukta, one of the latest hymns found in the Vedic collection:4 "When they formed Purusha, into how many parts did they divide him? What was his mouth? What were his arms? What were called his thighs and his feet?" The answer is that the Brahman issued from his mouth, the Kshatriya from his arms, the Vaisya from his thighs, and the Sudras from his feet. The first three, the priests, the warriors, and the farmers, were all Aryans and twice-born men. The Sudras alone were the once-born and the slaves of all the rest. These were the four original and legitimate castes. The mass of lower-caste men were held to have issued from various mixtures between the four original orders. Without attempting here to go into the Brahmanic theories of the origin and nature of caste in general, or dwelling on this occasion upon the position of the Brahman, it may suffice to quote a few laws from Manu illustrating the position of the Sudra, which tend to show the ethical analogy between a caste system and a slave system.
The Sudra in Manu is as such a born slave.
"A Sudra, though emancipated by his master, is not released from servitude; since that is innate in him, who can set him free from it?"1
If a Brahman requires any article for a sacrifice which he cannot find handy, "he may take at his pleasure two or three articles from the house of a Sudra, for a Sudra has no business with sacrifices."2 To kill a Sudra is a minor offence, placed in the same list with the cutting down of green trees for firewood, neglecting to kindle the sacred fires, superintending mines, stealing grain, etc., and the penance for killing a Sudra is to give ten white cows and a bull to a Brahman.3 On the other hand, an assault by a Sudra upon any twice-born man is punished by mutilation of the offending limb.4 The defamation of a Brahman or an insult to a twice-born man by a Sudra is punished with equal severity: "He shall have his tongue cut out, for he is of low origin"; while, "if he arrogantly teaches Brahmanas their duty, the king shall cause hot oil to be poured into his mouth and into his ears."5
For a Sudra to have anything to do with a woman of the twice-born caste was a serious offence, but as to marriage with a Sudra woman, Manu's opinion fluctuates.6 Lastly, the Sudras serve as scapegoats." O Takman," says the Atharva Veda, addressing the demon who brings fever, "go to the Mujavant or further. Attack the Sudra woman, the teeming one, shake her, O Takman."7 The relative values of the lives of men of the four castes are summed up. "One-fourth (of the penance) for the murder of a Brahmana is prescribed (as expiation) for (intentionally) killing a Kshatriya, one-eighth for killing a Vaisya; know that it is one-sixteenth for killing a virtuous Sudra."8
It ought only to be subjoined that the distinction of caste was a matter of some perplexity to moralists, even in the Brahmanic age. Among the different accounts of castes given in the Mahabharata some roundly assert that character makes caste.
Nahusha, who had been condemned to take the form of a serpent, asks Yudhishthira the question: "Who is a Brahman and what is the object of knowledge?" Yudhishthira replies: "The man in whom are seen truth, liberality, patience, virtue, innocence, devotion and compassion" -- he is a Brahman according to the religious tradition. The serpent answers, "But in Sudras also we meet with truth, liberality, calmness, innocence, harmlessness and compassion, O Yudhishthira." Yudhishthira replies: " Whenever a Sudra has any virtuous characteristics, and a Brahman lacks it, that Sudra will not be really a Sudra nor that Brahman a Brahman. The man in whom this virtuous character is seen is a Brahman, and the man in whom it is not seen is a Sudra." The serpent proceeds: "If you regard him only as a Brahman whom his conduct makes such, then caste is of no avail until deeds are superadded to it." Thus pressed Yudhishthira admits the confusion of castes in the actual world and concludes that good conduct and the fulfilment of the prescribed ceremonies are alike necessary.1
Other passages declared that fundamentally " there is no difference of castes. This world, having been at first created by Brahma, entirely Brahmanic, became separated into castes in consequence of works " ;a and the speaker, Bhrigu, being now asked what constitutes membership of a caste, replies that --
He who is pure, consecrated by the natal and other initiatory ceremonies, who duly studies the Veda, practises the six kinds of works, and the rites of purification, who eats of offerings, is attached to his religious teacher, is constant in austerities, and is devoted to truth, is called a Brahman. He in whom are seen truth, liberality, inoffensiveness, innocence, modesty, compassion and devotion, is declared to be a Brahman. He who is unclean is addicted constantly to all kinds of food, performs all kinds of work, has abandoned the Veda, and is destitute of pure observances, is called a Sudra.8
Here we have an ethical doctrine of equality, or -- which the same thing -- of distinction by merit alone, strictly in line with the teachings of Buddha, in whose Order there was no thought of caste, and for whom the true Brahman was he who lived the perfectly pure and holy life.
7. China. -- In China, a tradition is preserved of an epoch at which there was no slavery, and in the classical book of poems, the She-King, there is little that points definitely to the existence of the institution in its strict sense. Few prisoners were taken at that time, and therefore it was very possible that slaves were also few, but the evidence appears clear that slavery did exist in the Chow Dynasty.1 The institution is certainly ancient, and even at the present day general, although no doubt far less important than in some other countries. Debt slavery no longer exists, and in the pacific land of China war has ceased to be a source of supply; but the slave-trade is general,2 and the sale of daughters by their parents, and of wives by their husbands, particularly in times of famine, is a rich source of recruitment of the slave class. Kidnapping is also frequent. The slaves, we are told, are generally treated well, and there is that social equality between mistress and slave-girls which we so commonly find in the East, mitigating the harshness of legal institutions. .But the protection of the slave is very inadequate. It is true that the master has not the power of life and death, but the punishment for killing a slave is only the bamboo.3 Further, if death is caused by a canonical or legitimate punishment the man is held guiltless;4 branding, we are told, is but a small part of the punishment of a slave for running away,5 while the slave who strikes his master is liable to death by beheading.
8. Slavery, like polygamy and divorce, was an institution which Mohammed found fully established among his fellow-countrymen, which he disliked and set himself to mitigate, but could not attempt to abolish. A difference, however, is made between Moslem and non-Moslem captives. In a war with Moslems prisoners were not enslaved. If the prisoner on the battlefield became a Moslem he might not be killed, but according to the traditions he ought even to be set free, though if he became a Moslem subsequently he remained a slave.6 The holding of Moslem slaves was not, as such, prohibited, but their emancipation was regarded as an act of special merit. According to the tradition: "Whosoever frees a slave who is a Moslem, God will redeem every member of his body limb for limb from hell fire."1 Mohammed sought mitigation of the slave's lot by ethical rather than legal means. The slave has no civil liberty, and can only possess property by the owner's permission. The master's power is unlimited, and he is not slain for the murder of his slave. He has unlimited power over his female slaves; as a matter of law he may prostitute them; he may give a slave in marriage to whom he will, though he may not annul the marriage when, once completed.2 On the other hand, the Prophet enjoins upon Moslems to exercise kindness to slaves, forbids the prostitution of slave-girls as a religious offence, and enjoins emancipation whenever a slave is able to redeem himself. "When a slave of yours has money to redeem his bond, then you must not allow him to come into your presence afterwards." "Behaving well to slaves is a means of prosperity, and behaving ill to them is a cause of loss." "Whenever any one of you is about to beat a slave and the slave asks pardon in the name of God, then withhold yourself from beating him. Feed your slaves with food of that which you eat and clothe them with such clothing as you wear, and command them not to do that which they are unable." Wrongful punishment, which, in some institutions, as we have seen, is a legal ground of manumission, was held by Mohammed to be a moral ground. "He who beats his slave without fault or slaps him on the face, his atonement for this is freeing him." As an illustration of the spirit in which this behest was conceived, we may quote the story of the Caliph Othman, who, having twisted his memlook's ear, bade the slave twist his own.3 A further humane provision forbade the separation of mother and child: "Whoever is the cause of separation between mother and child by selling and giving, God will separate him from his friends on the day of resurrection."4
Conversely, the Prophet had certain promises for the dutiful slave: "It is well for a slave who regularly worships God and discharges his master's work properly"; and again: "When a slave wishes well to his master and worships God well, for him are double rewards." On the whole, the authorities tell us that the Prophet's rules of good treatment are observed. Masters are bound to maintain their slaves or emancipate them. To sell a slave of long standing is considered disgraceful, and female slaves are seldom emancipated without being provided for. In Egyptian slaves in Lane's time were numerous, but well cared for, and ranked socially above free servants. With all these mitigations it must be admitted that the recognition of the slave traffic by Mohammedanism has been, and is to this day, a curse to Africa and a source of disturbance to the world's politics.
9. Greece. -- Like the Chinese, the Greeks had a tradition of a prehistoric epoch in which there were no slaves.1 But in the Homeric epoch we find slavery in full swing, and the regular issue of the capture of a town is that the men should be slain and the women enslaved. Hector knows -- and no thought is so bitter to him -- that when Troy is taken and he himself is slain, it will be Andromache's fate to be a bondwoman to one of her conquerors. Her family had already suffered the same fate. The swift-footed, godlike Achilles had destroyed her father and her seven brothers, and had carried off her mother "with the rest of the spoil," though he afterwards set her free for an immense ransom. Now, Hector was all these to her, but the day would come when the Argives would sack the sacred town of Ilium and Hector in his turn be taken from her, and it would be her lot to fall into slavery.2 Apart from legitimate warfare, piracy -- which, for that matter, was in the Homeric view hardly less legitimate -- was a frequent source of slavery. Many children suffered the fate of Eumaeus the swineherd, and were carried off by the pirate and sold across the wine-dark sea. Slavery was hereditary, and the slave might be sold or put to death, as the faithless female slaves were hanged by Telemachus.3 On the other hand, slaves might own houses and property of their own and live in the practical freedom in which we find the goodly Eumaeus. Lastly, it should be noted that the slaves were not the only rightless class, for the stranger is also outside the protection of the law, though, even if a beggar and a fugitive, he is under the shelter of Zeus so long as he is a guest and claims the right of hospitality.
In the rural districts of Greece slavery remained rare. Pericles lays stress on the fact that the Peloponnesians are autourgoi -- cultivators of their own lands.1 It is even said that slave-holding was forbidden in Phocis and Lokris down to the fourth century.2 But in the more developed states the growth of wealth meant, as always in the ancient world, increase in the number of slaves and -- what was most fatal -- the belief that work was not compatible with the dignity of a free man. Slavery remained a recognized fate for prisoners of war as an alternative to massacre, and even Plato could only hope that Greeks would abandon the practice of enslaving fellow-Greeks, restricting themselves to the barbarian, who, as Aristotle held was the only natural slave. But through the institution of debt slavery the poorer classes in each state were frequently menaced with falling into enslavement. Before Solon's time the land was tilled by poor cultivators for the rich, and on their failure to pay five-sixths of their produce to the landlord, they fell into the position of serfs along with their wives and children. The prohibition of debt slavery and the pledging of the person by Solon was thus the salvation of civil freedom for Athens; and with the progress of Athenian democracy, although it was a democracy of free men only, the position of the slaves was indirectly improved. The master had the right of corporeal punishment and of branding, but could not put a slave to without a judicial decision.3 A right of action for hubris protected the slave from ill-treatment by strangers, and if maltreated by his master he could take refuge in the Theseum or some other asylum and demand to be sold -- a demand which was investigated either by the priests or by a judicial process. On the other hand, the slave was not directly recognized as a personality by the law; he could only be represented by his master, who could sue for damages on his account. Except in murder cases he could only give evidence under torture, to which he might be given up at the will of his master, the belief being that this was the only way to get truth from him. He could only give evidence against his master upon a charge of treason. At the same time, he was often allowed to hold property and found a family, while he might buy his freedom by entrusting his earnings to a priest. Manumission was frequent and the hope of it used as a stimulus to industry, but the freedman retained a semi-dependent condition and had no political rights unless enfranchised by a special statute like that of Cleisthenes.1
The development in the Dorian states was somewhat different. Here serfdom was more prominent than slavery, though the two institutions existed sometimes side by side. The Dorian conquerors divided part of the land among themselves, leaving it to be tilled by the conquered people as public serfs,2 while part was left to its original possessors, who were personally free but had no political rights. Hence the two classes of Helots and Perioeci. The conquered population were bound to the soil, but could not be sold or set free except by the state, though the landlord, for whom they cultivated the land at a fixed rate, was their immediate master. The Helots of Sparta, as is well known, were seditious, and were ill-treated and frequently put to death in fear, or at least in anticipation, of some rising. The Penestae of Thessaly, who were otherwise in a closely analogous position to the Helots, were better off in this respect, as they could only be put to death by judicial process. In Crete there were two classes of serfs, those on the public land and those belonging to private owners, who might contract a legal marriage and hold and inherit property, and, according to Aristotle, were treated by masters on terms of social equality. Besides these classes of serfs there were slaves who might be bought and sold.
It should be added that the distinction between the citizen and the non-citizen is strongly marked throughout Greek history. In principle the alien has no status of his own. He requires a prothenos -- the official successor of the host who protects his guest -- to represent him. Aliens were forbidden at Sparta altogether, and at Athens, where their numbers became great, they were as such destitute of rights, but in practice, on inscribing themselves on the list, they came under special state protection, for which, and for the right to exercise a trade, they paid a certain tribute. They still required a representative in a law court, and had neither the right of marriage with citizens, unless by treaty with their own state, nor the right of holding land,1
The organization of the city state, in fact, led naturally to a deeply marked distinction between the full citizen and all others, whether Greek or Barbarian, whether free or unfree. And we may take it as a mark of the ethical superiority of of the Greeks that the logical consequences were so far mitigated, as we see them to have been in the legislation for the protection of slaves.
10. Rome. -- At Rome the strict limitation of civil rights to full citizens, combined with the peculiar development of the powers of the paterfamilias, had a depressing effect upon the position of slaves. Not only captured enemies, but, even down to the time of Justinian, any unprotected foreigner was liable to enslavement. A free Roman could not become a slave within Rome itself, but deserters, and all those who were omitted from the census, could be sold abroad by the magistrate, children by their parents, debtors by their creditors, the thief by the injured party.
In practice, the slave of the earlier period was, as a rule, fairly well treated, and there was probably no great social distinction between him and his master; but he was in law a chattel, He had no family of his own; his union (contubernium) was no legal marriage. He had no status in a court of justice, but if he wished to sue for an injury could only do so through his master. Even if abandoned by his master he did not become free, but was the lawful property of the first comer. Not that cruel treatment passed without condemnation. Cruelty, even to animals, was subject to religious and even legal penalties.2 Gross cases might involve the intervention of the censor. Though the slave could legally hold no property, custom secured him his own peculium, and he might even come to purchase freedom.
Such was the position of the slave in early Rome. The growth of the Roman dominion, the rise of the great estates, submerging the old freeholder with his small plot of ground and the facility of obtaining slaves from the numbers thrown into the market by capture in war and by traffic with pirates, combined to give Roman slavery towards the close of the Republic a new and dark character. The land was cultivated in many districts by slave-gangs, working in chains and confined by night in prison-workhouses under conditions described by Mommsen as such that by comparison with their sufferings it is probable that all that was endured by negro slaves was but a drop. But some relief came from the humaner ideas of advancing civilization, fostered by contact with Greek culture. In particular, the Stoic philosophy was the champion of the slaves. Seneca vigorously pleads their cause, and in particular reprobates the cruelty of the gladiatorial games. The jurists of the next century went further, and distinctly laid down that by natural law all men are equal and that slavery is a human institution contrary to nature. "Quod ad jus naturale attinet, omnes homines aequales sunt," writes Ulpian;1 and more distinctly Florentinus: "Servitus est constitutio juris gentium, qua quis dominio alieno contra naturam subjicitur."2 The Stoical teaching had its effect on legislation. The practice of the exposure and sale of children and of pledging them for debt was forbidden, while an edict of Diocletian forbade a free man to sell himself. Man-stealers were punished with death. The insolvent debtor was no longer made a slave. The right of bequest was granted to slaves. Some approach was made to a recognition of their marriage, not only after emancipation, but even3 while in slavery, with a view to hindering the separation of families. Some legal security had already been given to their personal property, the peculium, by the praetorian edicts. The Lex Petronia (perhaps of A.D. 19) forbade throwing a slave to the wild beasts without a judicial decision.4 Under Hadrian the power of life and death was taken from the master, and under Antoninus Pius the master who killed his own slave sine causa was punished as a homicide. An edict of Claudius had meanwhile enfranchised the old or sick slave who was abandoned by his master.5 Under Nero the slave had been given the right to complain of ill-treatment to the magistrate. Under Pius the slave who was cruelly treated could claim to be sold, and by a special refinement it was held cruelty to employ an educated slave on degrading or manual work. Constantine deprived masters who abandoned new-born slaves of their rights over them.8 Emancipation, though restricted by Augustus, was again made easier, and though the use of torture at judicial investigation remained, it was in some respects limited.1
While the legal position of the slave was being thus improved by the imperial legislation, a new form of serfdom was growing up under the name of the Colonate. Some of the Coloni were probably foreign captives and immigrants settled upon the soil while others were originally free tenants, who lapsed into a semi-servile condition through the insecurity of the times and largely through self-commendation. The status of the Coloni was regulated in the fourth century for fiscal purposes. Under Constantine, in 332, the Colonus could not quit his holding nor could he marry off the property of his lord. On the other hand, he could not be disturbed or be subjected arbitrarily to increased charges, and as the status was hereditary, we have here a fully developed predial serfdom with fixed but limited rights for the serf.2 The master might inflict moderate chastisement, but the Colonus had a legal remedy for injury or excessive demands.3 While the Colonate was partly recruited from the previously free peasantry, a compensating process was going on whereby rural slaves obtained a settlement upon the land as quasi-Coloni or Casati. They were assimilated to the Coloni by the law of Valentinian I. in 377, could not be sold apart from the land, and by the end of the seventh century were merged in the Colonate.4
We have now reached a point in the history of slavery at which two fresh influences have to be considered. The first of these is the barbarian conquests; the second that of the mediaeval Church. The German tribes, generally speaking, recognized chattel slavery, and slaves were recruited from the sources ordinarily recognized among barbarians -- war, unprotected strangers, voluntary commendation, and in certain cases debt (i. e. in cases of incapacity to pay the wergild. This was the only form of debt slavery known).5 Even in Merovingian times the slave was a true chattel, whose life had indeed a price, but a price payable, like that of the Babylonian slave, to his lord, and not a fixed wer like a free man, but a sum proportionate to his value.1 But besides the slaves, who were not numerous, the Germans recognized a class of imperfectly free men, the Liti, who had land of their own, without which a German could not be a citizen, but were in a dependent position. Their status varied very much from tribe to tribe, and from one period to another. At first tributary to the people, we find them at a later stage in subjection to an individual master. They took no part in the meetings of the people, and while originally they could plead before a court, their wergild was ordinarily half that of a free man. Their marriage with free people was a mesalliance, wherein the children followed the rank of the mother. As we approach the "Frankish" period we find their position more distinctly assimilated to that of serfs.2
11 Thus the Middle Ages begin with two fairly distinct classes of the unfree; on the one hand, the slaves proper, whose position has been ameliorated in Roman law, but remains that of pure chattels by the law of the conquerors; on the other hand, a class of serfs in various degrees of unfreedom, which had already grown up in the later ages of the Empire and was reinforced by the corresponding class of Liti among the conquerors.
The moral influence of the Stoic philosophy which had inspired the imperial legislation for the benefit of slaves was now replaced by that of the Church. Like the Stoics, the Church accepted slavery as an institution which it did not seek to abolish, but it was so far influenced by the philosophic idea of natural equality that it set itself to minimize an evil which it could not cure. There was, indeed, one distinction which in the event became a distinction of importance. The Stoic philosophy was strictly universalist in character. For the Stoic all men were brothers and there was no distinction of nationality, class, or creed. For the Church all men ought to be brothers, but many men were, unfortunately, unbelievers, and the brotherhood of men was for many purposes limited to members of the Church. Thus it followed naturally from Christian principle that the holding of Christians in slavery, and still more the reducing of Christians to slavery by capture or by purchase, were actions which, if not wholly illegal, were contrary to the best religious teaching. Accordingly, from an early period the custom of enslaving prisoners of war began to be abandoned, at any rate in war between Christians, while the Church further set itself energetically to combat the traffic in slaves.1 The custom of treating the slave as a fixture on the estate, which in the Empire had been made matter of legal enactment, was first adopted by the West Franks among the barbarians, and spread from them to other peoples by degrees.2 The prohibition to enslave captives is treated by Gregoras as the traditional law " not only of the Romans and Thessalians, but of the Illyrians, Triballi and Bulgarians on account of the unity of faith."3 But as this prohibition did not apply to pagans, until the conversion of the Slavs it left them as the one source open to the Western European countries for the acquisition of fresh slaves whether by capture or by traffic. The interval before their conversion lasted long enough, and this source of slaves was during that time sufficiently important to alter the European name for the institution. The former "servus" was now accurately represented in medieval and modern language by the "serf"; a "Slav" was, with slight modification, in German, French and English, a "slave."4 As the Slavs became converted to Christianity this source of recruitment for the slave class was cut off. There remained debt slavery, the sale of wife and children by husband and father, and the sale of a man by himself in time of need. All these sources of slavery remained in the earlier Middle Ages,5 but they were already in process of decay. Self-enslavement was a desperate resource to which men were only driven in times of great need, and probably became infrequent in proportion as a more settled order made years of famine rarer; and the downfall of free men tended rather to swell the class of serfs than of slaves. The sale of men was on the whole opposed by the Church,6 and debt slavery was also limited under religious influences. From the Carolingian age onward it became limited to a period necessary for the paying off of the debt,1 and thus ceased to be a source of hereditary slavery properly so called. Meanwhile, the Church was also urgent in pressing the claims of manumission. The grounds for this are based on the broadest Stoical principle by Gregory the Great, who urges that "it is a good deed if men, whom nature created and brought forth free from the beginning and the law of nations has put under the yoke of slavery, are by the benevolence of a liberator restored to their liberty in that natural condition in which they were born." This is the full doctrine of human rights applied in somewhat halting fashion by way of recommending a beneficent practice. But, however haltingly applied, the moral conception of universalism introduced by the Stoic philosophy and favoured with limitations by the Church, was in principle fatal to slavery. That institution depends, as we have argued throughout, upon group-morality and the distinction between man and man. It is suited to the genius of primitive religions, whether in the form of separate family cults or of national creeds, but it is opposed in spirit to any doctrine which teaches that the same moral obligations must apply to all humanity alike. The Stoics first preached this doctrine with effect in Western Europe, but unfortunately, in applying it to the case of the slave, they were hampered by their view of the indifference of all outward circumstances, and preached that the slave in his slavery could be and should be as truly king and lord of himself as the emperor on his throne. The slave Epictetus was no less his own master than the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. The leaders of the Church accepted the principle of human brotherhood, but to them also worldly institutions were secondary, because salvation, if obtained in this world, was not obtained for this life, but for the life to come. They dealt with slavery, therefore, not so much from the point of view of the rights of the slave as from that of the duties of the master, and limiting their conception of equal rights by the principle of brotherhood in Christ alone, they took less account of the fate of those outside the Christian community. The results are written deep in history. The question is always asked how far the abolition of slavery in Europe was due to moral, how far to economic, causes. The answer appears to be that, so far as regards slavery proper, the two factors worked in harmony. The transition to serfdom was favoured by the economic situation.2 But the disappearance of slavery is no less distinctly connected with the rise of universalism in ethics, first in philosophy and afterwards in religion. In neither form was the institution of slavery directly combated, but the indirect effect, first by ameliorating the position of the slave and thereby curtailing the rights of the master, secondly by encouraging manumission, and thirdly and most important of all by cutting off the sources of supply, was that slavery died of inanition, and by the end of the twelfth century was almost unknown in Europe. On the other hand, when the Christian world came into contact, a century or two later, as a conquering power with non-Christian races, there was no moral force at hand to resist the natural result, and new forms of slavery grew up.
12. The history of serfdom in the Middle Ages is more complicated and obscure, especially as to the causes and progress of its disappearance. We have seen a form of predial serfdom already growing up within the Roman Empire. We have seen also that in addition to the slave class, the barbarian conquerors introduced into the constitutions of Western Europe imperfectly distinguished classes of semi-free citizens. All these elements contributed to form that great mass of the population which throughout the Middle Ages stood between the free man and the slave, and whilst slavery, as we have seen, was slowly dying out, serfdom for a long time continued to flourish and increase, recruited in part from the ranks of the slaves and in part from free men who either by conquest or through economic causes, sometimes even by voluntary surrender of their freedom with a view to gaining the protection of a lord, swelled the number of the semi-free. Thus mediaeval serfdom represents, on the one hand, a progress from slavery, and, on the other hand, a degradation of free men which is a not uncommon incident of epochs of unrest and of military conquest. It is not within our limits to characterize all the different grades of unfreedom which resulted. At most a general idea may be given. Serfdom, though not essentially and universally confined to peasants settled upon the land, tended in point of fact through the Middle Ages to lose its domestic and assume a territorial character. In the Frankish Empire the serf was, generally speaking, gleboe adscriptus. He might not leave his land, while, on the other side, he could not be sold apart from the land. He could acquire property, but had not complete control of it. He had to perform certain definite services to his master, which could not be altered arbitrarily, and in the earlier period he required the lord's consent to marriage, at any rate outside the domain, while he had also to pay for securing the lord's consent. He came under the protection of the law, having, as a rule, half the wergild and half the fines of a free man. In other respects, the position of the serf was extremely different among different peoples. Among the Saxons the Liti were a part of the people. Among the Frisians, and probably among the Saxons also, they could plead in court, and in cases of injury received a part of the wer themselves, only one portion going to their lord. Among the Lombards, on the other hand, the corresponding class could not appear in the courts, and the lord received their wer as though they were slaves. Between these extremes there were numerous intermediate grades.1 As the Middle Ages advanced the heaviest burdens of serfdom tended to disappear in the Empire. In particular, the right to marry was acquired by the serf, and here, as has been mentioned in chap, v., the influence of the Church was probably decisive. The payment upon marriage, however, was continued, at any rate in cases where it took the bride off the estate, and in this case it still required the approval of the lord -- not that the withholding of such approval would invalidate the marriage, but that it would render the parties liable to punishment.2 The old right of the lord to inherit from the serf had been reduced3 to the right to a duty on the inheritance; and the other restrictions on the serf's right to property were in process of disappearance. His personal tribute was converted into a rent upon his holding and his stock, and the limitation upon his power to alienate his land into a right of pre-emption on the part of the lord.4 Finally, the growth of free cities favoured freedom. The serf, escaping to them, could be reclaimed by his master within a year and a day, but from that time onwards was free. The principle "Air makes free," -that is to say, that the position of a person follows the general law of the land on which he is settled and does not depend upon his birth, became adopted in the later Middle Ages and naturally tended to emancipation.1
In France, the conditions of serfdom varied from province to province and from period to period.2 A conception of the different grades of unfreedom covered by the term may be derived from the description given at the close of the thirteenth century by Beaumanoir. In one grade the whole property of the serf was at the mercy of the lord, who might also imprison him at pleasure; in the other grade, the lord could command nothing from the serf except a fixed customary sum, though he was still the serf's heir unless the children redeemed the succession.3 Serfdom had already become rare and had in some provinces disappeared. Some serfs gained the right of paying a fixed "taille," and the right of holding and transmitting property were, generally speaking, acquired early. In a mediaeval decision given at Paris the characteristics laid down as distinguishing a serf are (1) he cannot marry without the permission of the lord, and (2) he cannot give or bequeath goods. The second condition was the more general, and the milder form of serfdom persisted to the eighteenth century.4
In England, as elsewhere, serfdom was increasing just at the period when slavery was disappearing, and the number of serfs was swelled by the merging of different classes, slaves, villeins, and even free men, under a single denomination. The serf was not, properly speaking, adscriptus gleboe, although he passed with the manor when it was sold or inherited; but he could be moved from place to place and from one service to another at the lord's will,6 and by strict right could be sold, though the right was rarely exercised.6 The general characteristics of the villeinage were that the villein by birth could not marry his daughter without paying a fine, nor permit his son to take holy orders, nor sell his calf or horse; that, he is bound to serve as a reeve in the manor, and that his youngest son succeeds to his holding on his death.7 To this it must be added that while the serf has full legal rights in relation to third parties, the criminal law makes a great distinction between his lord and him. Thus, in the Leges Henrici, if the lord takes away the man's land or deserts him in mortal peril he forfeits his lordship, but the man must bear with the lord's ill-treatment of him for thirty days in war and a year and a day in peace. To kill one's lord is like blasphemy and is punishable with death by torture, whereas if a lord kills his man without cause a fine will suffice. This is the "high-water mark of English vassalism." 1 The Norman law is more liberal, but still draws a distinction. "If a lord kills his man he shall be punishable with death, if the man his lord he shall be drawn and hanged, and even if it be by misadventure he shall be punishable with death." The lord would be punished for killing or maiming the villein, but might beat or imprison his serf.2
The history of the decline of serfdom in the later Middle Ages, both in France and England, is not very clear. The lawyers who had been unfavourable to freedom down to the thirteenth century changed their attitude during that period under the influence of the new ideas of the state as a whole, no longer broken up into half-independent feudal territories, but as a single authority, having equal claim upon all its subjects alike.3 That these more enlightened ideas accompanied the improvement of social organization was an extremely fortunate circumstance for the English serf. In England, as on the Continent, freedom might be acquired by escaping from the lord's jurisdiction, and the courts now favoured liberty. Feudal barbarism admitted this rough-and-ready method of emancipation largely because it lacked the means of securing the person of the runaway. With the growth of the kingly power and the better settlement of society, this primitive check upon oppression would naturally disappear, and thus where the ethical conception of freedom was wanting, the growth of civilization meant the prolongation of the old bondage and even, as in Russia and Germany, deterioration in its character. In England and France, upon the other hand, there was something of the nature of an ethical resistance to any tightening of the bonds, and thus the development of order had a beneficial effect on the slave rather than the reverse, for it tended to encourage the system of money payments as a substitute for labour service, and though in theory the serf remained the lord's man, yet in practice, in proportion as labour services were commuted for a money rent his position became scarcely distinguishable from that of a tenant farmer. From whatever causes, servile tenure was in fact rapidly becoming obsolete during the fourteenth century. One of the latest records we have of the existence of bondmen in England is in a document in which Elizabeth enfranchises some remaining serfs of the Crown in 1574,1 but there were Scottish miners who remained serfs down to 1799 and were not particularly desirous of having their condition changed.
Yet elements of servility remain in the position of the labourer. The Statute of Labourers in 1348 was passed with the intention of preventing workmen from taking advantage of the rise in wages due to the depopulation of the country by the Black Death, and was the beginning of a series of labour laws which brought the labourer into a position which, as described in Blackstone,2 stood as follows:
We know that these laws were largely a dead letter. Nevertheless they illustrate the attitude of the governing classes. What was in practice more important was the Statute of Apprentices (Fifth of Elizabeth), which restricted the right to carry on a trade to those who had served an apprenticeship, while the operation of the Poor Law, especially of the Act of Settlement, tended in practice to restrict the motions of the English labourer almost as much as regular serfdom would do.3 Indeed, had this statute been rigidly and universally carried out, it would have had the effect of fixing the labourer in his parish like a predial serf without the right upon the land which redeems the serf's position. To describe its practical operation in these terms might savour of exaggeration, yet the historian of the Poor Law declares that with this Act the "iron of slavery entered into the soul of the English labourer," and those who know the midland or south country labourer of the present day can see the scar still there. Again, Blackstone writes --
- The law first of all compels all persons with no visible effects to work;
- defines their hours in summer and winter;
- punishes those who desert their work;
- empowers justices to fix the rate of wage for agricultural labour and punishes those who give or exact more than the wages so settled.
" A master may by law correct his apprentice or servant for negligence or other misbehaviour, so it be done with moderation; though if the master's wife beats him, it is good cause of departure. But if any servant, workman or labourer assaults his master or dame he shall suffer one year's imprisonment and other open corporal punishment not extending to life or limb."
Further, in Blackstone's time a servant through whose negligence a fire happens forfeits £100, and in default of payment might be committed to a workhouse with hard labour for eighteen months. It is not difficult to recognize in these distinctions between the rights of master and servant an echo of the law as to lord and serf.
Nor was the English law altogether free from caste distinctions in the earlier part of the modern period. The benefit of clergy, which had originally been an immunity claimed by ecclesiastics from the secular courts, had been gradually transformed into a mere class privilege, whereby educated persons could escape punishment for secondary offences. Thus, in the seventeenth century the question whether a man would be hanged for larceny or not depended on whether he could read, unless indeed he had forfeited the benefit of clergy by contracting a second marriage or by marrying a widow. In 1705 the necessity for reading was abolished, and benefit of clergy could thereafter be claimed by all persons alike for a first offence in the case of secondary crimes. But important distinctions were still made. The offender, unless he was a peer or a clerk in orders, was, until 1779, branded in the hand and liable to seven years' transportation. Clerks in orders, meanwhile, might plead their clergy for any number of offences, and peers had received the same privileges as clerks by the statute of 1547. On the other hand, during the eighteenth century benefit of clergy was gradually withdrawn from an increasing number of offences, but it was not until 1827 that it was finally abolished, and even then it was doubtful whether the privelege of peers fell with it. This question was not settled until 1841, when the statute of Edward VI. was repealed, and peers accused of felony became liable to the same punishments as other persons.
When it is remembered, further, that the whole administration of petty justice and of the preliminary process in graver crimes was in the hands of the landed gentry, upon whose estates the labouring classes, rendered landless by economic changes, were fixed, as has been shown, by the Act of Settlement; when it is further borne in mind that the same justices had the power of fixing wages, and that the whole of the working classes in the country were always upon or over the verge of pauperism and dependent upon the support of the poor law, the control of which was substantially in the same hands, it will be recognized that the nominal freedom of the English labourer down to the beginning of the reform period was a blessing very much disguised, and that the reality compared unfavourably with the lighter forms of serfdom. The first stages in the progress of the factory system made matters even worse. The new demand for child labour introduced for a period what was in essence, if not name, a form of child slavery, pauper children being regularly imported in the manufacturing districts as apprentices, and set to work under conditions as to hours and also as to housing which would have been onerous even at less tender years. But these abuses, when fully realized by the public, were met within a period of time which, in comparison with the normal slowness of reform, may almost be called brief, by a series of legislative measures, overriding the so-called freedom of contract, and protecting the children from their legal guardians. The factory system, in short, reproduced the economic conditions under which, in other circumstances, a form of slavery would have arisen. And from this result England and the other industrial nations with it have been saved by a distinctively ethical movement.
On the Continent the direct manumission of serfs was perhaps more frequent than in England. Enfranchisements en bloc were common. We even hear of such things being done by abbeys. St. Benedict of Aniane, in the ninth century, emancipates serfs on the land which he receives.1 Charters were sometimes given upon payment to whole villages and by kings to whole counties. In 1315 Louis X. invited all the serfs on the Crown lands to purchase their liberty, but the price asked was too high. A general abolition of personal serfdom was demanded by the Third Estate at Blois in 1576, and again at Paris in 1614. This was not granted, but the institution was quite unknown in many provinces in the seventeenth century. It remained in Franche-Comte, Bourgogne, Alsace-Lorraine, Trois Eveches, Champagne, Bourbonnais, La Marche, Nivernois, Berry; but the burden was relatively light, and when the Duke of Lorraine proposed a money commutation for their services in 1711, the serfs who were to benefit by it themselves raised objections. The question was raised by Voltaire, and by an edict of 1779 Louis XVI. enfranchised the serfs of the royal domain and encouraged general abolition. Serfdom was finally abolished in France without compensation on the night of August 4, 1789, along with the other incidents of feudal tenure. At the same time fell the whole system of privileges which had made the nobles and the clergy castes set apart from the mass of the people.
In the German Empire the progress, which we have seen going forward until the thirteenth century, was arrested in the fifteenth, and a reaction took place, leading to the Peasant's War at the time of the Reformation. Serfdom lingered on, but in 1719-20 it was abolished on the Crown lands of East Prussia by Frederick William I. Frederick the Great attempted to forbid corporal punishment and aimed at a general emancipation, but achieved little except in Prussian Poland. The liberation of the German serf was to come indirectly from the French Revolution. Napoleon carried out emancipation in the conquered territory, and as part of the general preparation for resistance to France, the Prussian statesmen issued an edict in 1807 by which the whole population of Prussia was made free by a stroke of the pen.1 Serfdom admitting arbitrary exactions and corporal punishment remained, notwithstanding the efforts of Maria Theresa and her successors, in a great part of the Austrian Empire down to 1848. It was abolished in Russia in 1861. The emancipation of the Russian serf may be taken as the final termination of the enslavement by law, whether complete or partial, of white men. The later stages of the process in the more backward countries were thus clearly deliberate acts of government, based upon general conceptions either of human rights or of the conditions of social well-being. And on the whole the continental serf gained something through the delay. Emancipated in England more by economic causes than on ethical principles, he tended to become a landless labourer, more abject in some relations than a serf with defined rights. On the Continent, in most countries, he retained his land, subject to servile restrictions, and when the ethical movement struck off his chains, it left him a free peasant cultivator. In England his practical freedom was to be won at a later date and at the cost of a depletion of the rural districts, which is raising the agrarian problem in a form elsewhere unknown. So much depends on the nature of the causes determining a change like that from servitude to freedom, however great the inherent importance of the change itself.
13. The abolition of slavery and serfdom in the modern world may, from one point of view, be described as a process whereby the obligations of group-morality were extended so as to cover all Christians, or, at any rate, all white Christians. Unfortunately, this result is not the same thing as a strictly universalistic morality. As long as the Christian communities lived in isolation and did not come into touch with weaker races as their conquerors, the matter was not one of any very practical moment, but when, with the discovery of a new world and the circumnavigation of Africa, a fresh economic position arose, making slave labour industrially advantageous, while at the same time a vast black population was put at the disposal of the far stronger white man, slavery grew up again in a new and, in some respects, a more debased form. It is worth noting, as illustrating the ethical principle involved, that the old Roman slavery had never entirely disappeared. In the eleventh century we find Gregory VII. exacting from Demetrius of Dalmatia a promise not to sell men. There was a slave trade with Mussulmans in Venice and in Sicily right through the mediaeval period. In the twelfth century slaves were sold at fairs in Champagne, and Saracen slaves were found in the south of France in possession of a bishop at that period.1 Though the French law in the sixteenth century recognized that no slave could exist on French soil, the maxim, as formulated by Loisel, is applied to those who enter France only upon their being baptized. But these smouldering embers of slavery were now destined to burst out into flame. The Portuguese began importing negro slaves in 1442, and obtained a bull sanctioning the practice from Pope Nicholas V. in 1454. The reason was characteristic. A great number of the captives had been converted to the Catholic faith, "and it is hoped that by the favour of the divine clemency, if this process is continued, the nations themselves may be converted to the faith, or at any rate the souls of many from among them may be made of profit to Christ." 2 In fact, the hope -- probably the quite sincere hope -- of saving souls paralyzed, to say the least, the protest which would otherwise have been made against what was in essence revival of one of the worst features of barbarism. It was quite a logical exception made by Pope Calixtus III. in 1456, when he prohibited the enslavement of Christians in the East, and by Pius II. in 1462, when he severely blamed Christians who enslaved negro neophytes. When Columbus shipped 500 Indian prisoners to Spain to sell as slaves, the law of the case was investigated by Isabella, and, theologians differing in their view, .she finally ordered the Indians to be sent back to their homes.1 Meanwhile, in the New World the Spaniards were making slaves freely of Indians and treating them with great cruelty. Las Casas, impressed with the horrors which he saw, was struck with the idea that negroes would endure that bondage without sinking under it, and with the most benevolent intentions gave the most unfortunate advice that residents in Hispaniola should be allowed to import negro slaves.2 Regular black traffic accordingly began, notwithstanding successive efforts made by the Popes, when they grasped the situation, to suppress it.3 All the great trade nations of Western Europe joined in the traffic, and must share the blame alike. Europe itself was not preserved whole from this scourge. In England, indeed, it was held in the case of the negro Somerset (1772) that English soil emancipated, but this doctrine, which had been good law in France in 1571, was suspended in 1716 and again in 1738. Slaves became common, and were even sold at Paris down to 1762. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century the Popes themselves had Turkish galley-slaves, and Louis XIV., besides these, had Jewish slaves and Russian captives.4
This second slavery was put down by a distinctly ethical movement. It began with the Quakers in the seventeenth century. George Fox had already desired the Friends in America to treat their negroes well, and "that after certain years of servitude they should set them free." In 1727 the Society declared that slavery was not an allowed practice. In 1761 they excluded from membership all concerned in it, and in 1783 formed an association for liberating negroes and discouraging the traffic. The Pennsylvania Quakers had condemned it from 1696 onwards. Many leading names in English thought are quoted in Dr. Ingram's History as opponents of the slave trade from the end of the seventeenth century to that of the eighteenth. Among them are Baxter, Steele, Pope, Cowper, Day, Hutcheson, Wesley, Whitefield, Adam Smith, Johnson and Paley. An English Committee for the abolition of the slave trade was formed in 1787, and the motion for abolition, which was defeated in the House of Lords in 1794, was carried under Fox's premiership in 1807.1 The French Revolution had gone further. In 1791 the old principle that the French soil emancipates was reasserted by the Convention, and in 1794 slavery in the French colonies was abolished by decree. But the moment was ill chosen, as Hayti was in revolt, and Napoleon restored slavery in 1802. At the Congress of Vienna, British influence was active in obtaining the consent of other nations for the suppression of the slave trade, and France acquiesced, in the treaties of 1814 and 1815. The British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1823, and secured Abolition ten years later. Slavery was abolished by France in 1848, by Portugal in 1858, by the Dutch in 1863, and by Brazil in 1888. The founders of the United States had been opposed to slavery and attempted to exclude it by the Constitution, but were defeated by the opposition of South Carolina and Georgia. An Abolition Society was formed in 1774 and reconstructed by Franklin in 1787. The Northern States adopted measures for abolition between 1777 and 1804, and importation was prohibited by the United States in 1807. An Anti-Slavery Society was founded in 1833, and at the cost of civil war emancipation was proclaimed in 1863.2 Unfortunately, the legacy of slavery remains in that racial feeling which is the greatest unsolved problem of the American Commonwealth, and which does not become less serious as the negro population increases and extends its borders.
14. Slavery is no longer admittedly practised by any white nation. On the other hand, the problem of dealing with coloured labour has not been yet satisfactorily solved. Here and there "forced labour" has been allowed, and forms of contract labour are common, which, to say the least, are difficult to keep free from every servile taint. The questions raised by the various forms of contract allowed by the British and other civilized governments since the abolition of slavery belong, however, rather to the controversies of the moment than to the historical study which is the object of the present work, and I do not propose to discuss them here. It may, however, be allowable to say that the modern tendency to the concentration of wealth, or at least of the forces directing labour in a few hands, taken in conjunction with the vast reserves of cheap labour to which access has been given by the opening-up of China and the African continent reproduce in very essential features the conditions out of which great slave systems have arisen in the past, and the temptation to utilize the cheap and relatively docile labour of a weaker and perhaps a subjugated race against the well-organized battalions of the white artisans, is one by which leaders of industry, being human, cannot fail to be attracted, and therefore raises possibilities which no statesman can ignore.
The result of this brief review is to show that the principle of the equality of all classes before the law can hardly be said to have been accepted by the Western world as a whole before the revolutionary period. The whole structure of mediaeval society had been based upon the principle of subordination and was moulded in the spirit of caste. Confronted at all times with the doctrine of Christian Brotherhood, and, later on, with the principle of natural equality, this structure was also undermined by the growth of industry and the complex forces, ethical, political, and economic, which transformed the feudal kingdom into the urbanized state. Under these influences slavery proper disappeared, as we have seen, in the course of the twelfth century; and in the most advanced nations serfdom followed it in the period between the thirteenth century and the sixteenth. But for the completion of the work fully two more centuries were required. In the less advanced countries serfdom itself lingered on into the nineteenth century. In France, though caste privileges grew more and more out of harmony with the spirit of the time, they could only be destroyed by a revolution. In England, where they were rather a practical consequence of political superiority than the express subject of legal enactment, they yielded later, but more peacefully, to the influences of the Reform period. So modern is the change whereby law and public institutions have turned towards equality rather than subordination as their ideal. An ideal such equality must, perhaps, always be. Wealth and influence will always have their weight, not only in social life, but in the business of government and even in the administration of justice. Yet the true spirit of caste is gradually being reduced to a shadow of its former self. Expelled by slow degrees from the sphere of law and government, it has been left to amuse itself with a mock kingdom in the region of ceremonial and social intercourse, in which the ghosts of bygone realities keep up a mock state for the amusement of the philosopher.
As long as class, racial, and national antagonisms play a part in life we cannot say that group-morality has been altogether overcome. Nevertheless, the evolution sketched in the present and preceding chapter is of no small significance for ethics. At the outset men are organized in small groups bound to mutual aid and forbearance, while they are indifferent or hostile to outsiders. There is no organic bond uniting humanity as a whole. Hence the captive enemy and, in principle, unless there are special reasons to the contrary, the peaceful stranger are "rightless." But by degrees a wider conception of obligation arises. Fellow-Greeks, co-religionists, fellow-white men, ultimately fellow-men, enter the circle to which obligations apply, and even the violence of conquest is limited by the rights attaching the conquered as human beings. The "group" is thus widened till it includes all humanity, at which point group-morality disappears, merged in universalism. But the rights first recognized are those of the person. To take into account the rights of the organized community is a further step, following logically from the first, no doubt, but following slowly. Here, too, we recognize a slow advance in the civilized world, an advance which, if unimpeded, would finally overcome the "group-morality" of nations in favour of a true internationalism of morals and law.
Turning next to the internal composition of the community, we saw that the primitive group was relatively small and homogeneous. But as society grows divisions come, and a new form of group-morality arises -- distinctions of high caste and low caste, bond and free, and the like. In engendering, accentuating and maintaining these distinctions, military conquest, economic inequalities, religious differences, race and colour antipathies, have all played their part, and up to the middle civilization social divisions probably tend to increase rather than diminish. Combated by the teaching of the higher ethical and religious systems, they have been mitigated and in large measure overcome in the modern world. Most tenaciously maintained where the "colour line" is the outward and too visible symbol of deep-seated differences of race, culture, character, and tradition, they are countered even here by the fundamental doctrine of the modern state that equal protection and equal opportunity are the birthright of all its subjects. Thus, though the colour line is the last ditch of group-morality, here too in the modern period, taken as a whole, Universalism has made great inroads. With the improvement of communication and the growth of commerce, Humanity is rapidly becoming, physically speaking, a single society -- single in the sense that what affects one part tends to affect the whole. This unification intensifies the difficulties of ethics because it brings into closer juxtaposition races and classes who are not prepared by their previous history to live harmoniously together. Hence it is not surprising that law and morals do not show a regular, parallel advance. Nevertheless, the upshot of the evidence here reviewed is that, ethically as well as physically, humanity is becoming one -- one, not by the suppression of differences or the mechanical arrangement of lifeless parts, but by a widened consciousness of obligation, a more sensitive response to the claims of justice, a greater forbearance towards differences of type, a more enlightened conception of human purposes.