D. H. Hill On Love of One’s Own Place & People

“The Latin Poet has beautifully said that they who change their sky do not change their minds. The emigrant from his natal soil carries with him his old opinions, his old sentiments, and his old habits. In selecting a place for his residence in the land of his adoption, he seeks out some hill or vale which resembles the spot on which stands the dear old homestead far away. The new edifice is made as near alike as may be to the paternal building. His garden, his vineyard, his orchard, his grounds are fashioned after the models so fondly cherished in his memory. His style of living, his mode of thought, his habits, his manners, his passions, and his prejudices will all be unchanged. The accents that first struck his childish ear will still be heard with delight, and most joyfully will he meet some countryman from that loved land, with whom he may converse in his sacred native tongue. And still more grateful will it be to him to find a colony of his own people, where familiar tones will ever greet him, and where the worship and customs of his fathers will ever be preserved. And in fact, it is just because men do not change their minds with their sky that these colonies so frequently dot the surface of this mighty Republic.

To us there is something beautiful in this love for home and home associations, this clinging to the language, the religion, and the customs transmitted from generation to generation; and we never pass such a settlement from the Old World without the feeling that they who venerate the traditions of the past will respect the laws of the present, and that they whose hearts go out toward those of their own blood and tongue are the better prepared thereby to exercise benevolence toward all mankind. He who does not love his own family better than the whole rest of the world, who does not love the land better than all the countries on earth, is so far from being a Christian and patriot, that he is a monster utterly unworthy of trust and confidence. The Apostle Paul pronounces him to be worse than an infidel. So strong was sectional love in the great Apostle himself that he could wish himself accursed from Christ for the sake of his brethren, his kinsmen according to the flesh. Moses, the heaven appointed leader of Israel, who talked with God face to face, as a man talketh with his friend, went even beyond Paul in his devotion to his people, and did actually offer the request which Paul expressed his willingness to offer:

‘Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sins; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of the book, which thou hast written.’

Among the sweet Psalms of David, the man after God’s own heart, and constituting a part of the sacred canon of Scriptures, is the touching lament of the captive at Babylon as the representative of the true-hearted Israelite, invoking a fearful curse upon himself if ever found wanting in love to his native land, ‘If I forget thee Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy. ‘ Jeremiah, the holy prophet who was sanctified ere he was born, represents himself as weeping day and night for the miseries of his people. Nehemiah, while a member of the household of the King of Babylon, and occupying toward him the confidential relation of cup-bearer, had no relish for the enjoyment for the enjoyments of that most luxurious city when he heard the sad news from his native land. So profound was his grief that the imperious monarch noticed it, and was offended. ‘Wherefore, the king said unto me, Why is thy countenance sad, seeing that thou art not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of heart.’ Then I was very sore afraid and said unto the king, ‘Let the king live forever. Let the king live forever; why should not my countenance be sad when the city, the place of my fathers’ sepulchers lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed by fire.’

With all these holy men of old, love to their own nation was a part of their religion, nor did they understand that modern philanthropy which consists in getting to the uttermost parts of the earth to seek objects of its beneficence, while squalor, ignorance, sin, and misery are all around it at home. One of this school, whose name is a household word throughout the civilized world, visited every abode of wretchedness in Europe but left his own son to become a maniac through neglect and cruelty. On the contrary, our Saviour spent his energies and his activities in Judea and Galilee. He left his life of labor, privation, and suffering passed away among his own people. His last instructions to his disciples were to begin their ministry at Jerusalem, the capital of his native country. His example hallows the sweet charities which begin at home, and sheds a fragrance around that hold feeling which burns in the bosom of the partiot for the land we love.”

D. H. Hill
The Land We Love — Vol. 1