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sary for occupying some portion of our pages with an examination of its contents , and for pointing out the application of the various important considerations which it suggests to the present aspects of society . We are even inclined to believe , tr > at the remoteness of the date of this work may in some respects be an .
advantage . Before the first French revolution , enlightened men , throughout Europe were beginning to investigate the elementary principles of society with a freedom and a boldness , which were checked by the excesses of that awful crisis . Herder himself was a member of an extensive association in Germany for promoting the moral and social improvement of his country * , the fruits of which were cut off and scattered to the winds , soon .
after its formation , by the violence of the storms which raged through the whole political atmosphere of Europe . Before that time , studious and speculative men , following principles intQ their consequences , condensed the essence of truth in brief and comprehensive maxims , which had been abstracted from an extensive survey of human affairs ; subsequently the experience of practical difficulties , the apprehended risk of all sweeping
changes , and the almost insuperable refractoriness of established institutions have led even good men to circumscribe their applir cation of a general principle with so many limitations , that some ~ times—and that too in writings and speeches avowedly liberal in their object— -we are almost puzzled to discover the recognition of anything Jike a general principle at all . Under these
circumstances , we conceive there may be some benefit in tracing the speculations of an enlightened and benevolent author on the noblest of all themes *—the history of the human species- — conceived , and given to the world , before the disastrous eventp which darkened the close of the eighteenth century had checked the freest range ojf inquiry , and deadened , under a sense of present danger and inexpediency , a full and dear perception pf the ultimate axipma of moral and political truth *
There never was an individual better fitted than Herder to sketch put a general scheme of the philosophy of human history . More than Mus , perhaps , we cannot say , because the present work , with fdl its excellences , must be admitted to be slight an 4 sketchy in ite execution , being frequently little more than an indication of what is needed to elucidate successfully the
progress and development of society . But it abounds in noble thoughts , in pregnant suggestions , and in general views , which will prove exceedingly useful to those who are desirous of examining more in detail particular periods of history . The extent of the plan ; and the variety of considerations which it embraces , presuppose in the writer such a range of general knowledge as is hardl y compatible with the pos $ es £ ipn of great
+ See account of the Life and Writing * of Herder , in a fojW * Nwnbft pf ih $ Monthly Repository for 1830 , *'
The Philosophy of the History of Mankind . 35
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Jan. 2, 1832, page 35, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1804/page/35/