The primary object of geographical exploration is the opening to general intercourse such portions of the earth as may become serviceable to the human race. The explorer is the precursor of the colonist; and the colonist is the human instrument by which the great work must be constructed - that greatest and most difficult of all undertakings - the civilization of the world.
The progress of civilization depends upon geographical position. The surface of the earth presents certain facilities and obstacles to general access; those points that are easily attainable must always enjoy a superior civilization to those that are remote from association with the world.
We may thus assume that the advance of civilization is dependent upon facility of transport. Countries naturally excluded from communication may, through the ingenuity of man, be rendered accessible; the natural productions of those lands may be transported to the seacoast in exchange for foreign commodities; and commerce, thus instituted, becomes the pioneer of civilization.
England, the great chief of the commercial world, possesses a power that enforces a grave responsibility. She has the force to civilize. She is the natural colonizer of the world. In the short space of three centuries, America, sprung from her loins, has become a giant offspring, a new era in the history of the human race, a new birth whose future must be overwhelming. Of later date, and still more rapid in development, Australia rises, a triumphant proof of England's power to rescue wild lands from barrenness; to wrest from utter savagedom those mighty tracts of the earth's surface wasted from the creation of the world, - a darkness to be enlightened by English colonization. Before the advancing steps of civilization the savage inhabitants of dreary wastes retreated: regions hitherto lain hidden, and counting as nothing in the world's great total, have risen to take the lead in the world's great future.
Thus England's seed cast upon the earth's surface germinates upon soils destined to reproduce her race. The energy and industry of the mother country become the natural instincts of her descendants in localities adapted for their development; and wherever Nature has endowed a land with agricultural capabilities, and favourable geographical position, slowly but surely that land will become a centre of civilization.
True Christianity cannot exist apart from civilization; thus, the spread of Christianity must depend upon the extension of civilization; and that extension depends upon commerce.
The philanthropist and the missionary will expend their noble energies in vain in struggling against the obtuseness of savage hordes, until the first steps towards their gradual enlightenment shall have been made by commerce. The savage must learn to WANT; he must learn to be ambitious; and to covet more than the mere animal necessities of food and drink. This can alone be taught by a communication with civilized beings: the sight of men well clothed will induce the naked savage to covet clothing, and will create a WANT; the supply of this demand will be the first step towards commerce. To obtain the supply, the savage must produce some article in return as a medium of barter, some natural production of his country adapted to the trader's wants. His wants will increase as his ideas expand by communication with Europeans: thus, his productions must increase in due proportion, and he must become industrious; industry being the first grand stride towards civilization.
The natural energy of all countries is influenced by climate; and civilization being dependent upon industry, or energy, must accordingly vary in its degrees according to geographical position. The natives of tropical countries do not progress: enervated by intense heat, they incline rather to repose and amusement than to labour. Free from the rigour of winters, and the excitement of changes in the seasons, the native character assumes the monotony of their country's temperature. They have no natural difficulties to contend with, - no struggle with adverse storms and icy winds and frost-bound soil; but an everlasting summer, and fertile ground producing with little tillage, excite no enterprise; and the human mind, unexercised by difficulties, sinks into languor and decay. There are a lack of industry, a want of intensity of character, a love of ease and luxury, which leads to a devotion to sensuality, - to a plurality of wives, which lowers the character and position of woman. Woman, reduced to that false position, ceases to exercise her proper influence upon man; she becomes the mere slave of passion, and, instead of holding her sphere as the emblem of civilization she becomes its barrier. The absence of real love engendered by a plurality of wives, is an absolute bar to progress; and so long as polygamy exists, an extension of civilization is impossible. In all tropical countries polygamy is the prevailing evil: this is the greatest obstacle to Christianity. The Mahommedan religion, planned carefully for Eastern habits, allowed a plurality of wives, and prospered. The savage can be taught the existence of a Deity, and become a Mussulman; but to him the hateful law of fidelity to one wife is a bar to Christianity. Thus, in tropical climates there will always be a slower advance of civilization than in more temperate zones.
The highest civilization was originally confined to the small portion of the globe comprised between Persia, Egypt, Greece, and Italy. In those countries was concentrated the world's earliest history; and although changed in special importance, they preserve their geographical significance to the present day.
The power and intelligence of man will have their highest development within certain latitudes, and the natural passions and characters of races will be governed by locality and the temperature of climate.