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“La partie la plus utile de l'histoire n'est point la connaissance aride des usages et des faits; c'est celle quinous montre l'esprit qui a fait établir ces usages, et les causes qui ont amené les événements.”
Boul.ANGER, Antiq. Dév., ar. prop.
LIBERTY, considered abstractly, allows, but, as actually observed, encourages, the exercise of all human powers. It has its different degrees, both in relation to the powers it may be said to establish, and to the laws, Divine and human, by which it is itself established. Its history, therefore, comprehends the history of many other principles besides itself, in describing their development as well as its own against oppression and evil. At all times, but especially in those we call ancient, the history of liberty will be found to give prominence to the most auspicious periods in the history of humanity. It must, of course, be written with patient search and earnest interest; but it must be read, as well as written, in the largeness of heart towards men and the devotion of spirit towards God, which can alone suffice to the knowledge or the utility of any history. We need to turn back, for a moment, beyond the beginning of authentic history, in order to prepare for understanding the later and better-known periods with which we are to be concerned. In the traditionary age, of which there are rumors spread amongst every race, when a few human beings lived at peace with themselves and in the worship of their Divine Creator, the new-formed world was blessed with liberty and religion. Through the one, the relations of man to man were free; through the other, the relations of man to God were pure; however imperfect either might be in positive development. But a change, sudden and obscure, came over humanity and the principles by which it was at first sustained; and when we look once more towards times too dim, indeed, to be clearly known, neither liberty nor religion is to be found. Yet they had not been bestowed to be taken away again for ever. The shadows of the morning, succeeding to the dawn, were deep and long; but while men toiled or wandered over the earth, the memory of the light within their earlier homes remained; and the day increased, as they were mercifully allowed to seek it anew for themselves. The first labors of man in his changed estate, for mere existence, were physical, both in their means and in their ends. Appointed even in Eden, with the promise of dominion over all the earth and over every living thing that moved upon the earth, they continued with greater necessity when the brute creation was to be subdued, and fruits were to be obtained within the forest or from beneath the ground. The cave was cleared; the tree-hewn hut was raised; and the blessings of a life-time were abundant, if there were shelter and food for the children born and for the parents growing old in comparative degradation." As men multiplied and separated into tribes, the inequality existing among them from the beginning resulted in strife and victory and despotism. Physical energy was quite as predominant as it had been above other human powers; but the purposes to which it was directed were enlarged to the dominion of man over man, or of tribe over tribe. The labors of conquest ensued in all their terrors. Despotism over a race increased to despotism over an empire; and between empires there was the same succession of struggles that had occurred between men or tribes.” But the period of conquerors was distinguished above the period of wanderers or husbandmen by the formation of more settled customs and more united homes. The very war and violence in which men engaged would bring
1 I have no desire to represent means to describe. See the excelthe early race as having been com- lent work of Leland upon the Adposed of savages; but it seems vantage and the Necessity of the established by tradition, that, through Christian Revelation, Part I. ch. 1. a deluge or some general catas- 2 “O'er the populous solitude, trophe, al period of ignorance and Like one fierce cloud over a waste of waves,
- - Hung tyranny,” etc.
purely material energies succeeded SHELLEY, to an earlier period we have no
new connections, new wants, new prospects, into being; and the future would begin to share the anxiety which the present had so far exclusively retained. It was an inclement season; but the order and the progress of mankind had found their seed-time. The air grew milder, and the earth was conscious of its trusts, at last. The old conflicts with nature for the first provisions of life were decided; but the later strifes of men had not yet begun to pass away. Still was the brow flushed, and still the arm was lifted, yet not alone for food or for dominion. New labors, the labors of civilization, filled up the lives of classes and of nations who would have scarcely maintained, much less have glorified, themselves through the earlier toils. Civilization, which was at first material, soon occupied the earth in its better forms. There were other longings in the human mind than any works of the hands alone could satisfy; and in the search for intellectual things, a wider world was opened than had yet been reached even in dreams. Poetry came to live with men in the freshness of her youth; and the lessons of her teaching led on to arts and sciences and nearly universal cultivation. The customs, scarcely attained to the strength of laws, were reformed and solemnly confirmed, and society wore a new aspect. Former employments were abandoned; former manners were improved; a thousand resources of sustenance and wealth and luxury replaced the scanty measure of former times; and the world was beautified at the same time that it was expanded. But with all these