The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review : January-June, 1880 (Classic Reprint)

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Excerpt from The Princeton Review: January-June, 1880 According to the first, human Civilization is properly a natural product; it is wholly determined by the complex of physical conditions which surround the life of man, such as geographical situation, nature and configuration of the soil, Climate, food, and the like. All know to what extravagant length this view has been carried, but it is not worth while to waste words in criti cism of Mr. Buckle or his school; for the true question is one of principles and not of extravagance in their application, and this theory has been held in principle by men, like Montesquieu and Herder, of soberness and weight. Without doubt it has its part of truth. Nature is the necessary condition 'of human civiliza tion, and we owe our thanks to the industry which has inves tigated the range and influence of natural forces and Shown how powerfully they affect a people's character and modify its course of life. I would go the length of saying that nature stands re lated to history as the body to the soul: but there is a question as to the character of that relation, and if we are told that as thought is the exudation of the brain, so history is the product of nature, we must join issue on the ground that the physical cause assigned remains inadequate to account for the facts of the case. Look at the facts of the case - look down the long perspective of historic time: far trains of primeval patriarchs on the Eastern plains; the dim glories of vast empires; the splen dor of stately cities, long buried in silence and drifting sand; yonder, Homeric crowds, full-pulsed with jubilant life; here, Athens, Rome, Jerusalem; then the birth-throes of a new world, the upheaval and downfall of kingdoms; everywhere the throng of men - poets, priests, sages, soldiers, statesmen; names that are human history - Charlemagne, Luther; names that are tragic poems - Mary Stuart, Jeanne d'arc; the ancient wisdom, the song, the arts that live in the civilization of to-day; the ancient crime that still stains the hands and haunts the conscience of humanity; the long warfare of good and evil; the noble lives and noble deaths; the cries of sorrow, centuries old, that thrill our living ears; the ashes of martyred faith urned in our rever ence; all the genius and energy, the struggle, sin, and suffering, the courage, constancy, and supreme self -sacrifice - all the mingled music to which the generations time their march, all that fills the mysterious, many-chaptered life of man. Look at all this going on from age to age, and say is it the product of those same unvarying forces by which the planets roll, the seas rise and fall, and the sap swells in the bud? Can it all be traced to a physical source and derived from a physical agency? Does nature indeed know the secret of the birth and death of nations; can she tell us the meaning that hides itself in his tory? SO long as the affirmative is only asserted we may be permitted to doubt the assertion. How is it, for instance, that while the life of nations is continually changing, advancing, de veloping, the physical conditions of their habitat - supposed to be the forces of that progressive civilization - remainunchanging and the same? Granting that physical forces produce the civili zation of one age - say the age of the Plantagenets - what other forces have worked the change in that same England to the civilization of the present day? Or how comes it that the same soil and climate and the rest have nourished by turns the free and glorious people of 'ancient Greece and their enslaved, de generate descendants? About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com
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Product details

  • Paperback | 186 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 10mm | 254g
  • United States
  • English
  • , black & white illustrations
  • 0243050224
  • 9780243050222