In the preceding pages I have endeavoured to suggest a general idea of the social history of Japan, and a general idea of the nature of those forces which shaped and tempered the character of her people. Certainly this attempt leaves much to be desired: the time is yet far away at which a satisfactory work upon the subject can be prepared. But the fact that Japan can be understood only through the study of her religious and social evolution has been, I trust, sufficiently indicated. She affords us the amazing spectacle of an Eastern society maintaining all the outward forms of Western civilization; using, with unquestionable efficiency, the applied science of the Occident; accomplishing, by prodigious effort, the work of centuries within the time of three decades, - yet sociologically remaining at a stage corresponding to that which, in ancient Europe, preceded the Christian era by hundreds of years.

But no suggestion of origins and causes should diminish the pleasure of contemplating this curious world, psychologically still so far away from us in the course of human evolution. The wonder and the beauty of what remains of the Old Japan cannot be lessened by any knowledge of the conditions that produced them. The old kindliness and grace of manners need not cease to charm us because we know that such manners were cultivated, for a thousand years, under the edge of the sword. The common politeness which appeared, but a few years ago, to be almost universal, and the rarity of quarrels, should not prove less agreeable because we have learned that, for generations and generations, all quarrels among the people were punished with extraordinary rigour; and that the custom of the vendetta, which rendered necessary such repression, also made everybody cautious of word and deed. The popular smile should not seem less winning because we have been told of a period, in the past of the subject-classes, when not to smile in the teeth of pain might cost life itself. And the Japanese woman, as cultivated by the old home-training, is not less sweet a being because she represents the moral ideal of a vanishing world, and because we can faintly surmise the cost, - the incalculable cost in pain, - of producing her.

No: what remains of this elder civilization is full of charm, - charm unspeakable, - and to witness its gradual destruction must be a grief for whomsoever has felt that charm. However intolerable may seem, to the mind of the artist or poet, those countless restrictions which once ruled all this fairy-world and shaped the soul of it, he cannot but admire and love their best results: the simplicity of old custom, - the amiability of manners, - the daintiness of habits, - the delicate tact displayed in pleasure-giving, - the strange power of presenting outwardly, under any circumstances, only the best and brightest aspects of character. What emotional poetry, for even the least believing, in the ancient home-religion, - in the lamplet nightly kindled before the names of the dead, the tiny offerings of food and drink, the welcome-fires lighted to guide the visiting ghosts, the little ships prepared to bear - them back to their rest! And this immemorial doctrine of filial piety, - exacting all that is noble, not less than all that is terrible, in duty, in gratitude, in self-denial, - what strange appeal does it make to our lingering religious instincts; and how close to the divine appear to us the finer natures forged by it! What queer weird attraction in those parish-temple festivals, with their happy mingling of merriment and devotion in the presence of the gods! What a universe of romance in that Buddhist art which has left its impress upon almost every product of industry, from the toy of a child to the heirloom of a prince; - which has peopled the solitudes with statues, and chiselled the wayside rocks with texts of sutras! Who can forget the soft enchantment of this Buddhist atmosphere? - the deep music of the great bells? - the green peace of gardens haunted by fearless things, doves that flutter down at call, fishes rising to be fed? ... Despite our incapacity to enter into the soul-life of this ancient East, - despite the certainty that one might as well hope to remount the River of Time and share the vanished existence of some old Greek city, as to share the thoughts and the emotions of Old Japan, - we find ourselves bewitched forever by the vision, like those wanderers of folk-tale who rashly visited Elf-land.

We know that there is illusion, - not as to the reality of the visible, but as to its meanings, - very much illusion. Yet why should this illusion attract us, like some glimpse of Paradise? - why should we feel obliged to confess the ethical glamour of a civilization as far away from us in thought as the Egypt of Ramses? Are we really charmed by the results of a social discipline that refused to recognize the individual? - enamoured of a cult that exacted the suppression of personality?

No: the charm is made by the fact that this vision of the past represents to us much more than past or present, - that it foreshadows the possibilities of some higher future, in a world of Perfect sympathy. After many a thousand years there may be developed a humanity able to achieve, with never a shadow of illusion, those ethical conditions prefigured by the ideals of Old Japan: instinctive unselfishness, a common desire to find the joy of life in making happiness for others, a universal sense of moral beauty. And whenever men shall have so far gained upon the present as to need no other code than the teaching of their own hearts, then indeed the ancient ideal of Shinto will find its supreme realization.

Moreover, it should be remembered that the social state, whose results thus attract us, really produced much more than a beautiful mirage. Simple characters of great charm, though necessarily of great fixity, were developed by it in multitude. Old Japan came nearer to the achievement of the highest moral ideal than our far more evolved societies can hope to do for many a hundred years. And but for those ten centuries of war which followed upon the rise of the military power, the ethical end to which all social discipline tended might have been much more closely approached. Yet if the better side of this human nature had been further developed at the cost of darker and sterner qualities, the consequence might have proved unfortunate for the nation. No people so ruled by altruism as to lose its capacities for aggression and cunning could hold their own, in the present state of the world, against races hardened by the discipline of competition as well as by the discipline of war. The future Japan must rely upon the least amiable qualities of her character for success in the universal struggle; and she will need to develop them strongly.

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How strongly she has been able to develop them in one direction, the present war with Russia bears startling witness. But it is certainly to the long discipline of the past that she owes the moral strength behind this unexpected display of aggressive power. No superficial observation could discern the silent energies masked by the resignation of the people to change, - the unconscious heroism informing this mass of forty million souls, the compressed force ready to expand at Imperial bidding either for construction or destruction. From the leaders of a nation with such a military and political history, one might expect the manifestation of all those abilities of supreme importance in diplomacy and war. But such capacities could prove of little worth were it not for the character of the masses, - the quality of the material that moves to command with the power of winds and tides. The veritable strength of Japan still lies in the moral nature of her common people, - her farmers and fishers, artizans and labourers, - the patient quiet folk one sees toiling in the rice-fields, or occupied with the humblest of crafts and callings in city by-ways. All the unconscious heroism of the race is in these, and all its splendid courage, - a courage that does not mean indifference to life, but the desire to sacrifice life at the bidding of the Imperial Master who raises the rank of the dead. From the thousands of young men now being summoned to the war, one hears no expression of hope to return to their homes with glory; - the common wish uttered is only to win remembrance at the Shokonsha - that "Spirit-Invoking Temple," where the souls of all who die for Emperor and fatherland are believed to gather. At no time was the ancient faith stronger than in this hour of struggle; and Russian power will have very much more to fear from that faith than from repeating rifles or Whitehead torpedoes.* Shinto, as a religion of patriotism, is a force that should suffice, if permitted fair-play, to affect not only the destinies of the whole Far East, but the future of civilization. No more irrational assertion was ever made about the Japanese than the statement of their indifference to religion. Religion is still, as it has ever been, the very life of the people, - the motive and the directing power of their every action: a religion of doing and suffering, a religion without cant and hypocrisy. And the qualities especially developed by it are just those qualities which have startled Russia, and may yet cause her many a painful surprise. She has discovered alarming force where she imagined childish weakness; she has encountered heroism where she expected to find timidity and helplessness.**

[*The following reply, made by Admiral Togo Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese fleet, to an Imperial message of commendation received after the second attempt to block the entrance to Port Arthur, is characteristically Shinto: -

"The warm message which Your imperial Majesty condescended to grant us with regard to the second attempt to seal Port Arthur, has not only overwhelmed us with gratitude, but may also influence the patriotic manes of the departed heroes to hover long over the battle-field and give unseen protection to the Imperial forces."... [Translated in the JAPAN TIMES of March 31st, 1904.]

- Such thoughts and hopes about the brave dead might have been uttered by a Greek warrior before the battle of Salamis. The faith and courage which helped the Greeks to repel the Persian invasion were of precisely the same quality as that religious heroism which now helps the Japanese to challenge the power of Russia.]

[**The case of the Japanese officers and men on the transport Kinshu Maru, sank by the Russian warships on the 26th of last April, should have given the enemy matter for reflection. Although allowed an hour's time for consideration, the soldiers refused to surrender, and opened fire with their rifles on the battleships. Then, before the Kinshu Maru was blown in two by a torpedo, a number of the Japanese officers and men performed harakiri.... This strong display of the fierce old feudal spirit suggests how dearly a Russian success would be bought.]

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For countless reasons this terrible war (of which no man can yet see the end) is unspeakably to be regretted; and of these reasons not the least are industrial. War must temporarily check all tendencies towards the development of that healthy individualism without which no modern nation can become prosperous and wealthy. Enterprise is numbed, markets paralyzed, manufactures stopped. Yet, in the extraordinary case of this extraordinary people, it is possible that the social effects of the contest will prove to some degree beneficial. Prior to hostilities, there had been a visible tendency to the premature dissolution of institutions founded upon centuries of experience, - a serious likelihood of moral disintegration. That great changes must hereafter be made, - that the future well-being of the country requires them, - would seem to admit of no argument. But it is necessary that such changes be effected by degrees, - not with such inopportune haste as to imperil the moral constitution of the nation. A war for independence, - a war that obliges the race to stake its all upon the issue, - must bring about a tightening of the old social bonds, a strong quickening of the ancient sentiments of loyalty and duty, a reinforcement of conservatism. This will signify retrogression in some directions; but it will also mean invigoration in others. Before the Russian menace, the Soul of Yamato revives again. Out of the contest Japan will come, if successful, morally stronger than before; and a new sense of self-confidence, a new spirit of independence, might then reveal itself in the national attitude toward foreign policy and foreign pressure.

- There would be, of course, the danger of overconfidence. A people able to defeat Russian power on land and sea might be tempted to believe themselves equally able to cope with foreign capital upon their own territory; and every means would certainly be tried of persuading or bullying the government into some fatal compromise on the question of the right of foreigners to hold land. Efforts in this direction have been carried on persistently and systematically for years; and these efforts seem to have received some support from a class of Japanese politicians, apparently incapable of understanding what enormous tyranny a single privileged syndicate of foreign capital would be capable of exercising in such a country. It appears to me that any person comprehending, even in the vaguest way, the nature of money-power and the average conditions of life throughout Japan, must recognize the certainty that foreign capital, with right of land-tenure, would find means to control legislation, to control government, and to bring about a state of affairs that would result in the practical domination of the empire by alien interests. I cannot resist the conviction that when Japan yields to foreign industry the right to purchase land, she is lost beyond hope. The self-confidence that might tempt to such yielding, in view of immediate advantages, would be fatal. Japan has incomparably more to fear from English or American capital than from Russian battleships and bayonets. Behind her military capacity is the disciplined experience of a thousand years; behind her industrial and commercial power, the experience of half-a-century. But she has been fully warned; and if she chooses hereafter to invite her own ruin, it will not have been for lack of counsel, - since she had the wisest man in the world to advise her.* [*Herbert Spencer.]

To the reader of these pages, at least, the strength and the weakness of the new social organization - its great capacities for offensive or defensive action in military directions, and its comparative feebleness in other directions - should now be evident. All things considered, the marvel is that Japan should have been so well able to hold her own; and it was assuredly no common wisdom that guided her first unsteady efforts in new and perilous ways. Certainly her power to accomplish what she has accomplished was derived from her old religious and social training: she was able to keep strong because, under the new forms of rule and the new conditions of social activity, she could still maintain a great deal of the ancient discipline. But even thus it was only by the firmest and shrewdest policy that she could avert disaster, - could prevent the disruption of her whole social structure under the weight of alien pressure. It was imperative that vast changes should be made, but equally imperative that they should not be of a character to endanger the foundations; and it was above all things necessary, while preparing for immediate necessities, to provide against future perils. Never before, perhaps, in the history of human civilization, did any rulers find themselves obliged to cope with problems so tremendous, so complicated, and so inexorable. And of these problems the most inexorable remains to be solved. It is furnished by the fact that although all the successes of Japan have been so far due to unselfish collective action, sustained by the old Shinto ideals of duty and obedience, her industrial future must depend upon egoistic individual action of a totally opposite kind! * * *

What then will become of the ancient morality? - the ancient cult?

- In this moment the conditions are abnormal. But it seems certain that there will be, under normal conditions, a further gradual loosening of the old family-bonds; and this would bring about a further disintegration. By the testimony of the Japanese themselves, such disintegration was spreading rapidly among the upper and middle classes of the great cities, prior to the present war. Among the people of the agricultural districts, and even in the country towns, the old ethical order of things has yet been little affected. And there are other influences than legislative change or social necessity which are working for disintegration. Old beliefs have been rudely shaken by the introduction of larger knowledge: a new generation is being taught, in twenty-seven thousand primary schools, the rudiments of science and the modern conception of the universe. The Buddhist cosmology, with its fantastic pictures of Mount Meru, has become a nursery-tale; the old Chinese nature-philosophy finds believers only among the little educated, or the survivors of the feudal era; and the youngest schoolboy has learned that the constellations are neither gods nor Buddhas, but far-off groups of suns. No longer can popular fancy picture the Milky Way as the River of Heaven; the legend of the Weaving-Maiden, and her waiting lover, and the Bridge of Birds, is now told only to children; and the young fisherman, though steering, like his fathers, by the light of stars, no longer discerns in the northern sky the form of Mioken Bosatsu.

Yet it were easy to misinterpret the weakening of a certain class of old beliefs, or the visible tendency to social change. Under any circumstances a religion decays slowly; and the most conservative forms of religion are the last to yield to disintegration. It were a grave mistake to suppose that the ancestor-cult has yet been appreciably affected by exterior influences of any kind, or to imagine that it continues to exist merely by force of hallowed custom, and not because the majority still believe. No religion - and least of all the religion of the dead - could thus suddenly lose its hold upon the affections of the race that evolved it. Even in other directions the new scepticism is superficial: it has not spread downwards into the core of things. There is indeed a growing class of young men with whom scepticism of a certain sort is the fashion, and scorn of the past an affectation, - but even among these no word of disrespect concerning the religion of the home is ever heard. Protests against the old obligations of filial piety, complaints of the growing weight of the family yoke, are sometimes uttered; but the domestic cult is never spoken of lightly. As for the communal and other public forms of Shinto, the vigour of the old religion is sufficiently indicated by the continually increasing number of temples. In 1897 there were 191,962 Shinto temples; in 1901 there were 195,256.

It seems probable that such changes as must occur in the near future will be social rather than religious; and there is little reason to believe that these changes - however they may tend to weaken filial piety in sundry directions - will seriously affect the ancestor-cult itself. The weight of the family-bond, aggravated by the increasing difficulty and cost of life, may be more and more lightened for the individual; but no legislation can abolish the sentiment of duty to the dead. When that sentiment utterly fails, the heart of a nation will have ceased to beat. Belief in the old gods, as gods, may slowly pass; but Shinto may live on as the Religion of the Fatherland, a religion of heroes and patriots; and the likelihood of such future modification is indicated by the memorial character of many new temples.

- It has been much asserted of late years (chiefly because of the profound impression made by Mr. Percival Lowell's Soul of the Far East) that Japan is desperately in need of a Gospel of Individualism; and many pious persons assume that the conversion of the country to Christianity would suffice to produce the Individualism. This assumption has nothing to rest on except the old superstition that national customs and habits and modes of feeling, slowly shaped in the course of thousands of years, can be suddenly transformed by a mere act of faith. Those further dissolutions of the old order which would render possible, under normal conditions, a higher social energy, can be safely brought about through industrialism only, - through the working of necessities that enforce competitive enterprise and commercial expansion. A long peace will be required for such healthy transformation; and it is not impossible that an independent and progressive Japan would then consider questions of religious change from the standpoint of political expediency. Observation and study abroad may have unduly impressed Japanese statesmen with the half-truth so forcibly uttered by Michelet, - that "money has a religion," - that "capital is Protestant," - that the power and wealth and intellectual energy of the world belong to the races who cast off the yoke of Rome, and freed themselves from the creed of the Middle Ages.* A Japanese statesman is said to have lately declared that his countrymen were "rapidly drifting towards Christianity"! Newspaper reports of eminent utterances are not often trustworthy; but the report in this case is probably accurate, and the utterance intended to suggest possibilities. Since the declaration of the Anglo-Japanese alliance, there has been a remarkable softening in the attitude of safe conservatism which the government formerly maintained toward Western religion.... But as for the question whether the Japanese nation will ever adopt an alien creed under official encouragement, I think that the sociological answer is evident. Any understanding of the fundamental structure of society should make equally obvious the imprudence of attempting hasty transformations, and the impossibility of effecting them. For the present, at least, the religious question in Japan is a question of social integrity; and any efforts to precipitate the natural course of change can result only in provoking reaction and disorder. I believe that the time is far away at which Japan can venture to abandon the policy of caution that has served her so well. I believe that the day on which she adopts a Western creed, her immemorial dynasty is doomed; and I cannot help fearing that whenever she yields to foreign capital the right to hold so much as one rood of her soil, she signs away her birthright beyond hope of recovery.

[*No inferences can be safely drawn from the apparent attitude of the government towards religious bodies in Japan. Of late years the seeming policy has been to encourage the less tolerant forms of Western religion. In curious contrast to this attitude is the non-toleration of Freemasonry. Strictly speaking, Freemasonry is not allowed in Japan - although, since the abolition of exterritoriality, the foreign lodges at the open ports have been permitted (or rather, suffered) to exist upon certain conditions. A Japanese in Europe or America is free to become a Mason; but he cannot become a Mason in Japan, where the proceedings of all societies must remain open to official surveillance.]

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With a few general remarks upon the religion of the Far East, in its relation to Occidental aggressions, this attempt at interpretation may fitly conclude.

- All the societies of the Far East are founded, like that of Japan, upon ancestor-worship. This ancient religion, in various forms, represents their moral experience; and it offers everywhere to the introduction of Christianity, as now intolerantly preached, obstacles of the most serious kind. Attacks upon it must seem, to those whose lives are directed by it, the greatest of outrages and the most unpardonable of crimes. A religion for which every member of a community believes it his duty to die at call, is a religion for which he will fight. His patience with attacks upon it will depend upon the degree of his intelligence and the nature of his training. All the races of the Far East have not the intelligence of the Japanese, nor have they been equally well trained, under ages of military discipline, to adapt their conduct to circumstances. For the Chinese peasant, in especial, attacks upon his religion are intolerable. His cult remains the most precious of his possessions, and his supreme guide in all matters of social right and wrong. The East has been tolerant of all creeds which do not assault the foundations of its societies; and if Western missions had been wise enough to leave those foundations alone, - to deal with the ancestor-cult as Buddhism did, and to show the same spirit of tolerance in other directions, - the introduction of Christianity upon a very extensive scale should have proved a matter of no difficulty. That the result would have been a Christianity differing considerably from Western Christianity is obvious, - the structure of Far-Eastern society not admitting of sudden transformations; - but the essentials of doctrine might have been widely propagated, without exciting social antagonism, much less race-hatred. To-day it is probably impossible to undo what the sterile labour of intolerance has already done. The hatred of Western religion in China and adjacent countries is undoubtedly due to the needless and implacable attacks which have been made upon the ancestor-cult. To demand of a Chinese or an Annamese that he cast away or destroy his ancestral tablets is not less irrational and inhuman than it would be to demand of an Englishman or a Frenchman that he destroy his mother's tombstone in proof of his devotion to Christianity. Nay, it is much more inhuman, - for the European attaches to the funeral monument no such idea of sacredness as that which attaches, in Eastern belief, to the simple tablet inscribed with the name of the dead parent. From old time these attacks upon the domestic faith of docile and peaceful communities have provoked massacres; and, if persisted in, they will continue to provoke massacres while the people have strength left to strike. How foreign religious aggression is answered by native religious aggression; and how Christian military power avenges the foreign victims with tenfold slaughter and strong robbery, need not here be recorded. It has not been in these years only that ancestor-worshipping peoples have been slaughtered, impoverished, or subjugated in revenge for the uprisings that missionary intolerance provokes. But while Western trade and commerce directly gain by these revenges, Western public opinion will suffer no discussion of the right of provocation or the justice of retaliation. The less tolerant religious bodies call it a wickedness even to raise the question of moral right; and against the impartial observer, who dares to lift his voice in protest, fanaticism turns as ferociously as if he were proved an enemy of the human race.

From the sociological point of view the whole missionary system, irrespective of sect and creed, represents the skirmishing-force of Western civilization in its general attack upon all civilizations of the ancient type, - the first line in the forward movement of the strongest and most highly evolved societies upon the weaker and less evolved. The conscious work of these fighters is that of preachers and teachers; their unconscious work is that of sappers and destroyers. The subjugation of weak races has been aided by their work to a degree little imagined; and by no other conceivable means could it have been accomplished so quickly and so surely. For destruction they labour unknowingly, like a force of nature. Yet Christianity does not appreciably expand. They perish; and they really lay down their lives, with more than the courage of soldiers, not, as they hope, to assist the spread of that doctrine which the East must still of necessity refuse, but to help industrial enterprise and Occidental aggrandizement. The real and avowed object of missions is defeated by persistent indifference to sociological truths; and the martyrdoms and sacrifices are utilized by Christian nations for ends essentially opposed to the spirit of Christianity.

Needless to say that the aggressions of race upon race are fully in accord with the universal law of struggle, - that perpetual struggle in which only the more capable survive. Inferior races must become subservient to higher races, or disappear before them; and ancient types of civilization, too rigid for progress, must yield to the pressure of more efficient and more complex civilizations. The law is pitiless and plain: its operations may be mercifully modified, but never prevented, by humane consideration.

Yet for no generous thinker can the ethical questions involved be thus easily settled. We are not justified in holding that the inevitable is morally ordained, - much less that, because the higher races happen to be on the winning side in the world-struggle, might can ever constitute right. Human progress has been achieved by denying the law of the stronger, - by battling against those impulses to crush the weak, to prey upon the helpless, which rule in the world of the brute, and are no less in accord with the natural order than are the courses of the stars. All virtues and restraints making civilization possible have been developed in the teeth of natural law. Those races which lead are the races who first learned that the highest power is acquired by the exercise of forbearance, and that liberty is best maintained by the protection of the weak, and by the strong repression of injustice. Unless we be ready to deny the whole of the moral experience thus gained, - unless we are willing to assert that the religion in which it has been expressed is only the creed of a particular civilization, and not a religion of humanity, - it were difficult to imagine any ethical justification for the aggressions made upon alien peoples in the name of Christianity and enlightenment. Certainly the results in China of such aggression have not been Christianity nor enlightenment, but revolts, massacres, detestable cruelties, - the destruction of cities, the devastation of provinces, the loss of tens of thousands of lives, the extortion of hundreds of millions of money. If all this be right, then might is might indeed; and our professed religion of humanity and justice is proved to be as exclusive as any primitive cult, and intended to regulate conduct only as between members of the same society.

But to the evolutionist, at least, the matter appears in a very different light. The plain teaching of sociology is that the higher races cannot with impunity cast aside their moral experience in dealing with feebler races, and that Western civilization will have to pay, sooner or later, the full penalty of its deeds of oppression. Nations that, while refusing to endure religious intolerance at home, steadily maintain religious intolerance abroad, must eventually lose those rights of intellectual freedom which cost so many centuries of atrocious struggle to win. Perhaps the period of the penalty is not very far away. With the return of all Europe to militant conditions, there has set in a vast ecclesiastical revival of which the menace to human liberty is unmistakable; the spirit of the Middle Ages threatens to prevail again; and anti-semitism has actually become a factor in the politics of three Continental powers....

- It has been well said that no man can estimate the force of a religious conviction until he has tried to oppose it. Probably no man can imagine the wicked side of convention upon the subject of missions until the masked batteries of its malevolence have been trained against him. Yet the question of mission-policy cannot be answered either by secret slander or by public abuse of the person raising it. To-day it has become a question that concerns the peace of the world, the future of commerce, and the interests of civilization. The integrity of China depends upon it; and the present war is not foreign to it. Perhaps this book, in spite of many shortcomings, will not fail to convince some thoughtful persons that the constitution of Far-Eastern society presents insuperable obstacles to the propaganda of Western religion, as hitherto conducted; that these obstacles now demand, more than at any previous epoch, the most careful and humane consideration; and that the further needless maintenance of an uncompromising attitude towards them can result in nothing but evil. Whatever the religion of ancestors may have been thousands of years ago, to-day throughout the Far East it is the religion of family affection and duty; and by inhumanly ignoring this fact, Western zealots can scarcely fail to provoke a few more "Boxer" uprisings. The real power to force upon the world a peril from China (now that the chance seems lost for Russia) should not be suffered to rest with those who demand religious tolerance for the purpose of preaching intolerance. Never will the East turn Christian while dogmatism requires the convert to deny his ancient obligation to the family, the community, and the government, - and further insists that he prove his zeal for an alien creed by destroying the tablets of his ancestors, and outraging the memory of those who gave him life.