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The Future Of Mankind Essay

4041 words - 16 pages

The Future of Mankind

If we compare the present with the past, if we trace events at all epochs to their causes, if we examine the elements of human growth, we find that Nature has raised us to what we are, not by fixed laws, but by provisional expedients, and that the principle which in one age effected the advancement of a nation, in the next age retarded the mental movement, or even destroyed it altogether. War, despotism, slavery, and superstition are now injurious to the progress of Europe, but they were once the agents by which progress was produced. By means of war the animated life was slowly raised upward in the scale, and quadrupeds passed into man. By means of war the human intelligence was brightened, and the affections were made intense; weapons and tools were invented; foreign wives were captured, and the marriages of blood relations were forbidden; prisoners were tamed, and the women set free; prisoners were exchanged, accompanied with presents; thus commerce was established, and thus, by means of war, men were first brought into amicable relations with one another. By war the tribes were dispersed all over the world, and adopted various pursuits according to the conditions by which they were surrounded. By war the tribes were compressed into the nation. It was war which founded the Chinese Empire. It was war which had locked Babylonia, and Egypt, and India. It was war which developed the genius of Greece. It was war which planted the Greek language in Asia, and so rendered possible the spread of Christianity. It was war which united the world in peace from the Cheviot Hills to the Danube and the Euphrates. It was war which saved Europe from the quietude of China. It was war which made Mecca the centre of the East. It was war which united the barons in the Crusades, and which destroyed the feudal system.

Even in recent times the action of war has been useful in condensing scattered elements of nationality, and in liberating subject populations. United Italy was formed directly or indirectly by the war of 1859, 1866, and 187O. The last war realised the dreams of German poets, and united the Teutonic nations more closely than the shrewdest statesmen could have conceived to be possible a few years ago. That same war, so calamitous for France, will yet regenerate that great country, and make her more prosperous than she has ever been. The American War emancipated four million men, and decided for ever the question as to whether the Union was a nationality or a league. But the Crimean War was injurious to civilisation; it retarded a useful and inevitable event. Turkey will some day be covered with corn-fields; Constantinople will some day be a manufacturing town; but a generation has been lost. Statesmen and journalists will learn in time that whatever is conquered for civilisation is conquered for all. To preserve the Balance of Power was an excellent policy in the Middle Ages, when war was the only pursuit of a gentleman,...

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