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Improvidence may be connected with intellectual as well as moral causes. Individuals and communities of a very low state of intelligence are always improvident. A certain measure of intellectual development seems necessary to enable absent things, and especially things future, to act with any force on the imagination and will. The effect of want of interest in others in diminishing accumulation, will be admitted, if we consider how much saving at present takes place, which has for its object the interest of others rather than of ourselves; the education of children, their advancement in life, the future interests of other personal connections, the desire of promoting by the bestowal of money or time, objects of public or private usefulness. If mankind were generally in the state of mind to which some approach was seen in the declining period of the Roman empire-caring nothing for their heirs, as well as nothing for friends, the public, or any object which survived them—they would seldom deny themselves any indulgence for the sake of saving, beyond what was necessary for their own future years; which they would place in life annuities, or in some other form which would make its existence and their lives terminate together,
$ 3. From various degrees of these deficiencies, intellectual and moral, there is in different portions of the human race a greater diversity than is usually adverted to, in the strength of the effective desire of accumulation. A backward state of general civilization is often more the effect of deficiency in this particular than in many others which attract more attention. In the circumstances, for example, of a hunting tribe, “man may be said to be necessarily improvident, and regardless of futurity, because in this state the future presents nothing which can be with certainty either foreseen or governed. .... Besides a want of the motives exciting to provide for the needs of futurity through
means of the abilities of the present, there is a want of the habits of perception and action, leading to a constant connection in the mind of those distant points, and of the series of events serving to unite them. Even therefore if motives be awakened capable of producing the exertion necessary to effect this connection, there remains the task of training the mind to think and act so as to establish it."
For instance: “Upon the banks of the St. Lawrence there are several little Indian villages. They are surrounded, in general, by a good deal of land from which the wood seems to have been long extirpated, and have, beside, attached to them, extensive tracts of forest. The cleared land is rarely, I may almost say never, cultivated, nor are any inroads made in the forest for such a purpose. The soil is, nevertheless, fertile, and were it not, manure lies in heaps by their houses. Were every family to inclose half an acre of ground, till it, and plant in it potatoes and maize, it would yield a sufficiency to support them one half the year.
They suffer, too, every now and then, extreme want, insomuch that, joined to occasional intemperance, it is rapidly reducing their numbers. This, to us, so strange apathy proceeds not, in any great degree, from repugnance to labor; on the contrary, they apply very diligently to it when its reward is immediate. Thus, beside their peculiar occupations of hunting and fishing, in which they are ever ready to engage, they are much employed in the navigation of the St. Lawrence, and may be seen laboring at the oar, or setting with the pole, in the large boats used for the purpose, and always furnish the greater part of the additional hands necessary to conduct rafts through some of the rapids. Nor is the obstacle aversion to agricultural labor. This is no doubt a prejudice of theirs ; but mere prejudices always yield, principles of action cannot be created. When the returns from agricultural labor are speedy and great, they are also agriculturists. Thus, some of the little islands on Lake St. Francis, near the Indian village of St. Regis, are favorable to the growth of maize, a plant yielding a return of a hundredfold, and forming, even when half ripe, a pleasant and substantial repast. Patches of the best land on these islands are, therefore, every year cultivated by them, for this purpose. As their situation renders them inaccessible to cattle, no fence is required ; were this additional outlay necessary, I suspect they would be neglected, like the commons adjoining their village. These had apparently, at one time, been under crop. The cattle of the neighboring settlers would now, however, destroy any crop not securely fenced, and this additional necessary outlay consequently bars their culture. It removes them to an order of instruments of slower return than that which corresponds to the strength of the effective desire of accumulation in this little society.
"It is here deserving of notice, that what instruments of this kind they do form, are completely formed. The small spots of corn they cultivate are thoroughly weeded and hoed. A little neglect in this part would indeed reduce the crop very much ; of this experience has made them perfectly aware, and they act accordingly. It is evidently not the necessary labor that is the obstacle to more extended culture, but the distant return from that labor. I am assured, indeed, that among some of the more remote tribes, the labor thus expended much exceeds that given by the whites. The same portions of ground being cropped without remission, and manure not being used, they would scarcely yield any return, were not the soil most carefully broken and pulverized both with the hoe and the hand. In such a situation a white man would clear a fresh piece of ground. It would perhaps scarce repay his labor the first year, and he would have to look for his reward in succeeding years. On the Indian, succeeding years are too distant to make sufficient impression, though, to obtain what labor may bring about in the course of a few months, he toils even more assiduously than the white man."*
This view of things is confirmed by the experience of the Jesuits, in their interesting efforts to civilize the Indians of Paraguay. They gained the confidence of these savages in a most extraordinary degree. They acquired influence over them sufficient to make them change their whole manner of life. They obtained their absolute submission and obedience. They established peace. They taught them all the operations of European agriculture, and many of the more difficult arts. There were everywhere to be seen, according to Charlevoix, “workshops of gilders, painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, watchmakers, carpenters, joiners, dyers,” &c. These occupations were not practiced for the personal gain of the artificers: the produce was at the absolute disposal of the missionaries, who ruled the people by a voluntary despotism. The obstacles arising from aversion to labor were therefore very completely overcome. The real difficulty was the improvidence of the people; their inability to think for the future ; and the necessity accordingly of the most unremitting and minute superintendence on the part of their instructors. “Thus at first, if these gave up to them the care of the oxen with which they ploughed, their indolent thoughtlessness would probably leave them at evening still yoked to the implement. Worse than this, instances occurred where they cut them up for sup per, thinking, when reprehended, that they sufficiently excused themselves by saying, they were hungry. . . These fathers, says Ulloa, have to visit the houses, to examine what is really wanted; for, without this care, the Indians would never look after anything. They must be present too, when animals are slaughtered, not only that the meat may be equally divided, but that nothing may be lost.”
“But notwithstanding all this care and superintendence," says Charlevoix, “and all the precautions which are taken to prevent any want of the necessaries of life, the missionaries are sometimes much embarrassed. It often happens that they” (the Indians) “do not reserve to themselves a sufficiency of grain, even for seed. As for their other provisions, were they not well looked after, they would soon be without wherewithal to support life.'*
As an example intermediate, in the strength of the effective desire of accumulation, between the state of things thus depicted and that of modern Europe, the case of the Chinese déserves attention. From various circumstances in their personal habits and social condition, it might be anticipated that they would possess a degree of prudence and self-control greater than other Asiatics, but inferior to most European nations; and the following evidence is adduced of the fact.
"Durability is one of the chief qualities, marking a high degree of the effective desire of accumulation. The testimony of travellers ascribes to the instruments formed by the Chinese, a very inferior durability to similar instruments constructed by Europeans. The houses, we are told, unless of the higher ranks, are in general of unburnt bricks, of clay, or of hurdles plastered with earth; the roofs, of reeds fastened to laths. We can scarcely conceive more unsubstantial or temporary fabrics. Their partitions are of paper, requiring to be renewed every year. A similar observation may be made concerning their implements of husbandry, and other utensils. They are almost entirely of wood, the metals entering but very sparingly into their construction; consequently they soon wear out, and require frequent renewals. A greater degree of strength in the effective desire of accumulation, would cause them to be constructed of