A Psychology Of The British People -- By: Charles William Super

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 063:252 (Oct 1906)
Article: A Psychology Of The British People
Author: Charles William Super


A Psychology Of The British People

Prof. Charles William Super

Is it possible to draw up a fairly adequate scheme of the psyche of a nation? Or, to put the question somewhat differently: inasmuch as all men have many fundamental characteristics in common, have some of these been more developed in certain nations and some in others in such a way that they can be grouped and classified into a fairly consistent entirety? M. Fouillée1 has attempted it for the French, and Senor Altamira 2 for the Spanish; and, while each has given us an interesting volume, both have put into it a good deal that is more or less irrelevant.

The psychic forces that cooperate to make up the genius of

a people are so elusive, so varied in their nature, they manifest themselves in so many ways, as to make it well-nigh impossible to group them so that the resulting ensemble shall not be wrong almost as often as it is right. Everybody who has had the opportunity to compare them knows, or thinks he knows, that an Englishman differs from a Scotchman, a German from a Spaniard, and wherein the difference lies; but, if we call for a clear-cut definition of the differences, it will usually be found that no two persons agree, except in the most general way. On some points they will very likely contradict one another.

It is generally admitted, that, of all modern nations, the Germans are the most given to the cult of royalty, the most submissive under governmental oppression or oppression, the most ready to yield obedience to authority that emanates from a personal source. Per contra, we find that the Swiss, many of whom are, if possible, more German than the inhabitants of Germany, were the first people of modern times to establish a republican form of government and to abolish all titles of royalty. And they did these things at a time when religious motives played no part in the drama. The conditions that constrained the Dutch to rise against their oppressors were somewhat dissimilar, for with them religion was a potent factor; yet it may well be asked, in the light of modem history, whether any German state, strictly speaking, would under any circumstances have imitated either the Swiss or the Dutch. Tacitus and other ancient authors tell us that one of the leading traits, if not the leading trait, of the ancient Germans, was their restiveness under

authority, and their violent antipathy to every form of governmental tyranny. A modern observer will tell us, that, if there is one trait for which the Germans ...

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