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SIMULTANEOUS DEVELOPMENT OF OPINIONS AND PEOPLES
CHANGES IN SOCIETY, MECHANIC AND ORGANIC-INFLUENCE OF GREAT THOUGHTS AND GREAT MEN-A NEW AGE-CHARAC. TERISTICS - SCIENCE-DEMOCRACY -- DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF BRITISH CIVILIZATION-INDUSTRY, ITS POWER IN DEVELOPING THE LIFE AND MIND OF A PEOPLE-ACHIEVEMENTS - GOLD -IRON – THE BLACKSMITH AND THE WARRIOR-STRENGTH AND CUNNING-AVERAGE VIEW OF ENGLISH SOCIETY-MORAL PROGRESS-STATE OF ANCIENT PEOPLE AND THEIR CIVILIZATION THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE-TAXATION -THE STATUTES-CONDITION OF THE POOR-POLITICAL PROGRESS-CITIES - DEFOE
THE POOR - IMPROVEMENT OF SOCIAL CONDITION - CURIOUS FACTS -- DESPAIRING VIEWS
OF LORD JEFFREY, CONTRASTED WITH THOSE OF MR. MACAULAY --SUMMARY REVIEW OF THE AGES OF ENGLAND-THE AGE OF COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT-AN OLD ENGLISH FAIR-AGE OF ELIZABETH-AGE OF PARTIES- PROSPECTS OF THE PRESENT AGE OF AOTION.
To the student of history no circumstance in the movement of humanity is more remarkable and noteworthy than the simultaneousness with which the life of nations and races developes itself; there is apparently a wonderful and instinctive unanimity in the characteristics and thoughts of the ages, so that to a great degree an idea is not confined to a nation, but spreading or spontaneously rising in other lands, diffuses itself over archipelagoes and continents, over oceans and widely-scattered and divided states. The
condition of our present civilization, and the easy methods of our communication, do not seem sufficient to account for this ; for it is not a feature of our times alone, although in our times the fact is more wondrously developed than in any preceding day; probably it has its origin in the distinctive peculiarities of a race, perhaps the mind of the race,
like the mind of the individual, necessarily and invariably pass through a series of processions and cycles identical in their manifestation, thus furnishing a strong proof of the original, fundamental uniformity of our common human nature. In the reign of barbaric magnificence, in the wanderings of seakings or of conquerors, in the wildness of anarchy and inisrule, in law concentrating itself by force, in the night-time of the nations, in the vivid rayonance or glare of reformations and revolutions—in all these, the people, especially of Europe, have shared or sought to share ; by some nations the thought has been held with fervid clasp-by others with spasmodic or hysteric affection-by others with the faint, but agonistic death-clutch ; as if a stronger or feebler current of electricity had run through each atmosphere, or a like life, with more or less vigour had stirred within their veins :—the first aspect of the necessitarian doctrine is a very humbling one, and a statement like that with which this book opens, in harmony as it is with facts of more intricate detail, would almost compel us to the conclusion, that in the progress of the world little is left to the free will of man, the instincts of humanity seem to beat in harmony with great laws, as determinate and irresistible as the growth of vegetable life, and the arrangements of the starry universe. M. Quetelet has very clearly and sufficiently proved that the gales of passion and caprice, the crimes, the casualties, the marriages, the births, and the deaths of mankind, depend on inevitable though inscrutable causes; man's freedom in the most insignificant and trivial events of life is evidently limited : the law is in force in many instances where we do not see it; and this doctrine, so far from being the cause of atheism and despair, should be the fountain of grateful and pleasant emotions; it should be to us the perpetual assurance that we are not entirely orphans in the universe; we should hear the whisperings of providence in the still sad music of humanity," running through all the ages of time; we should look upon actors, events, and discoveries, as properly belonging to the age when they appeared, as indeed created from the age,-a necessary part of its development if the man or the event ever fill our mind with consternation,-yet let us betake ourselves to the cheerful faith that order is the destiny of the universe, that even every abberration from order can only result in the final establishment of law, which is indeed but another name for providence. I have chosen to describe the changes which are produced in society as an architecture, but in truth those changes are susceptible of a twofold delineation, if the social change is architectural, this results from the individual, and that is organic ; the first influences are the result of building, the second of growth; the first are the result of plan, arrangement, and intention ; the second arise from feeling, from faith, from strength growing out of a very sense of weakness and helplessness. The erection of society is like the erection of a building, it dates its origin from necessity, and it is in truth a series of results, every one of which is either a wise or an unwise adaptation; the social fabric rises like a minster or a mansion, it shows perhaps a variety of styles and compartments, and every part is the reflection or transcript of a different era of thought and life ; institutions are like chapelries and rooms, and laws are like the bricks which
the edifice ; while these again are the crystalizing down into one tangible substance of the souls of former times, their strength, knowledge, wisdom, weakness, or virtue. But the growth of the soul is like the growth of the oak or the flower, it develops itself from within ; the germination of the plant results from the sap, and this again results from the light, the heat, the mould, and a thousand imperceptible influences of nature : the oak must grow, it is the law of its nature, it must grow to be in unison with the influences within it and around it; the electric current, when it finds a tree unable to grow, its trunk and branches thickly scaled over each other in sturdy and obstinate conservatism, containing sap unable further to develope its life, turns that sap into steam, which thus by its expansive force takes a terrible revenge, and tears and rends the oak in pieces : do we not read here a solemn symbol of the nature of revolutions, those capital punishments of nations.
Society then may be described as a piece of architecture, for it is the objective side of human history; and if any persons demur to the term as too mechanical, let them remember that the whole universe is a mechanism, is a building-one thing is so set against another, that we dare not look at it in its organic structure and character alone ; our bodily frames, our souls, our human institutions, our histories, all bear the evidence of rearing powers; all our modes of expression, by which we describe life as an endeavour or a discipline, humanity with all its societies as a progress or a development, all these suppose that there is behind all the forms of the ages a wise masterbuilder, that all men are so many minor builders and erectors of scaffolding for the great purposes contemplated by the primal Architect. Ages are the framework or the theatre on which the shifting tribes of Adam play their parts; men and thoughts thus become architects, remoulding, reconstructing, beneath, as has been said, the sanction of some imperative and overruling dispensation. In this view of things, history does not concern itself with the mere territory, the ground on which we move, it is not a question of space or of time, it has to do with the measure of the miles in space through which souls travelled, and the length of time they took to travel in, this is history; it is the great time-keeper of our planet, it is the science of moral chronometry; the names struck by the clock have no value in themselves, they derive all their value from the fact that they indicate the hour, In the success or the failure of the man we read the