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the treasures of Greek and Roman literature. The impulse given to the European mind by the united effect of these circumstances was prodigious. The faculties of men seemed to awake as from a slumber of fifteen centuries, and the nations of Europe entered upon a new career of improvement, the results of which were soon visible in inventions in the arts, discoveries in science, and the most splendid displays of literary genius. This progress in art and science has steadily proceeded throughout all the varied fortunes of states, amidst the rise and fall of dynasties, and the revolutions of kingdoms; and, instead of being hitherto checked, seems to be now going on in an accelerated rate, every new acquisition only increasing the desire, and adding to the facilities of farther conquests.
From the above slight sketch, it will be abundantly evident that all these advances in the moral and intellectual condition of our countrymen, have not proceeded, as Mr Combe supposes, from any "principle of improvement inherent in the race, which time alone evolved and brought to maturity," but that they have been begun, continued, and carried on from one step in their progress to another, by a successive application of foreign influences, and of stimuli, many of them of the most violent kind, arising in one way or another from external causes. Some nations, which at the time of the Roman invasion of Britain were in a state much resembling our painted ancestors, and which from their situation have been removed from foreign communication, remain in the same state to this day. Others, which at that time had attained a certain state of civilization, such as China and India, have stood still, or become retrograde, all the time that we have been making the advances that have been described. Now, as Mr Combe says, nature is constant; and if human nature, as he supposes, was
originally constituted on the principle of gradual improvement, that improvement would, in the course of so many ages, have been visible in every nation, and every country in the world. How, then, upon his principle, has improvement taken place only in one quarter of the globe, and its colonies, while all the rest remains at this day immersed in the grossest darkness?
Mr Combe, in several parts of his work, laments the prevalence of war and conquest, and regards the past history of the nations of Europe, and of our own in particular, as one series of folly and blundering, considering, as he seems to do, that matters would have been greatly improved, had every nation continued to live quietly within its own territories. If, however, we look to the condition of those nations who have remained undisturbed by extensive wars and foreign conquest, we must be convinced that these views are more plausible than sound; and looking to the effect of these circumstances among ourselves, it appears on the whole to be a more reasonable conclusion, that all the wars- all the invasions—all the conquests to which this island has been subjected— all the excitements of foreign expeditions, either for the sake of gain, or of military glory—all the revolutions that have happened to us, either by changes of dynasty, or the contending of adverse factions—all the discussions between rival sects in religion, in philosophy, and in political science all the alternations between seasons of national prosperity and adversity—all the times of our affliction, and all the times of our wealth,— have just been so many stimuli applied to the national mind, and calculated, by the sure operation of cause and effect, to draw forth the energies, and develop the resources of the national character. These circumstances, which Mr Combe laments, and considers so many calamities, seem, on the contrary, to have been `undoubtedly among the causes of our improvement.
It may, perhaps, be objected, that all the circumstances above mentioned, which have contributed to the civilization of Britain, with the sole exception of Christianity, are mere natural causes, and that their effect may be admitted in perfect consistency with Mr Combe's theory. To a certain extent this may be the case; and it will be observed, I have not stated them merely as militating against Mr Combe's theory, but in order to present to the reader a full and complete statement of all the causes which have led to our improvement, which, it must be acknowledged, Mr Combe has not done. When Mr Combe shall so far modify his views, as to admit the beneficial effects of war and conquest, colonization and commerce, as steps in the progressive march of human improvement, he will, no doubt, bring his system nearer the truth. But still we come at last to that greatest and most important element, which Mr Combe's system carefully excludes, but which a mature consideration may satisfy us is of more consequence than all the rest put together. All the natural causes of improvement have been in operation, with more or less effect, from the beginning of the world, in every country under heaven; and what is the result? Is it not the case, that, with the exception of those countries in which Christianity prevails, all the rest of the world is sunk in greater or less degrees of ignorance, barbarism, and brutality? Is it not the case, that those countries which have embraced Christianity, are not merely immeasurably superior to the rest, but that they are the only ones where any progress, or any moral or intellectual improvement is at present taking place? When Mr Combe is able either to disprove these facts, or to explain them upon his principles, I shall be willing to give his statements and arguments all due weight; but in the mean time, and until he favours us with this demonstration, I must
be contented to believe, that Christianity is the great and the principal cause of that improvement and that civilization with which it is thus found to be universally conjoined.
I have now examined the theory of Mr Combe in both its parts, and I conceive that I have demonstrated, `that in both of them he is wrong. I have shewn, from his own statement of the facts relative to the natural world, that it did not originally "contain within itself the elements of improvement, which time evolved and brought to maturity," but that it was formed by successive steps, and that it required several successive interpositions of creative power to render it a fit habitation for the human race; and, therefore, analogy leads us to expect that similar interpositions may be required in the moral world also, in order to lead men to the fulfilment of their ultimate destiny. ·
The researches of geologists prove that no race of animals were ever derived from other species, or came to perfection by slow and gradual progression, but that every race was at once produced full and perfect; and here, also, analogy would teach us that the same would be the case with man.
The researches of naturalists prove, that so far back as observation is capable of being extended, no alteration whatever has taken place in the condition of any of the animal tribes, and that for three thousand years, or upwards, there is not the slightest appearance of any improvement or progression among them here, again, analogy would lead us to conclude that the same has been the case with man.
Again, in resorting to the history of the human race, as far as authentic history reaches, we see no proofs of this alleged principle of progression, or that the race
"contained the elements of improvement within itself.” On the contrary, we find that in the remotest ages man had executed works greater and more astonishing than any which have been produced since; from which we conclude, that the people who executed them must have possessed a knowledge, an energy, a perseverance, and capacities of various kinds, superior to those of any modern nation; that the very people who produced these works, instead of being able to carry on the career of improvement, were not able to sustain it, but sunk by a gradual progress downwards to utter decay; that the same has been the case with every one of the great empires that succeeded them, all of which, after a shortlived prosperity, fell successively into vice, corruption, and ruin so that, to this extent, the progress of the human race has not been upwards but downwards, and instead of advancing has been retrograde.
We have seen, farther, that all the arts and sciences, and all improvement in civilization, have originally emanated from these primitive nations, and have since been communicated from one state to another, in one unbroken series, down to our remote and distant land and generation.
We have seen, that whenever a people became sunk in ignorance and barbarism, they have never again raised themselves by their own exertions to a state of civilization; and that the inhabitants of this island have only been brought into their present condition by a successive mixture with other races, and a series of the most extraordinary stimuli coming to us from without.
These are the undoubted facts, and I submit that they completely disprove the notion that the human race is so constituted as to contain within itself the elements of improvement, which time alone will evolve and bring to maturity.