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History of Civilization in England, Vol. 3 of 3
In the preceding view of the rise and decay of Spain, I have sought to exhibit the successive steps by which what was formerly one of the greatest nations of the earth, was broken, and cast down from its high estate. As we look back on that scene, the picture is, indeed, striking. A country rich in all natural productions, inhabited by a brave, a loyal, and a religious people, removed, too, by its geographical position from the hazards of European revolutions, did, by the operation of those general causes which I have indicated, suddenly rise to unparalleled grandeur; and then, without the occurrence of any new combination, but by a mere continuance of the same causes, fall with an equal velocity. Yet, these vicissitudes, strange and startling as they appear, were perfectly regular. They were the legitimate consequence of a state of society, in which the spirit of protection had reached its highest point, and in which, every thing being done for the people, nothing was done by the people. Whenever this happens, there may be great political progress, but there can be no really national progress. There may be accessions of territory, and vast increase of fame and of power. There may be improvements in the practice of administration, in the management of finances, in the organization of armies, in the art and theory of war, in the tricks of diplomacy, and in those various contrivances by which one nation is able to outwit and insult another. So far, however, from this benefiting the people, it will injure them in two different ways. In the first place, by increasing the reputation of the ruling classes, it encourages that blind and servile respect which men are too apt to feel for those who are above them, and which, wherever it has been generally practised, has been found fatal to the highest qualities of the citizen, and therefore to the permanent grandeur of the nation. And, in the second place, it multiplies the resources of the executive government, and thus renders the country unable, as well as unwilling, to correct the errors of those who are at the head of affairs. Hence, in Spain, as in all countries similarly circumstanced, it was at the very moment when things were most prosperous at the surface, that they were most rotten at the foundation. In presence of the most splendid political success, the nation hastened to its downfall, and the crisis was fast approaching, in which, the whole edifice being overturned, nothing would be left, except a memorable warning of the consequences which must ensue, when the people, giving themselves up to the passions of superstition and loyalty, abdicate their own proper functions, forego their own responsibility, renounce their highest duties, and degrade themselves into passive instruments to serve the will of the Church and the throne. ......Buy Now (To Read More)
Ebook Number: 44495
Author: Buckle, Henry Thomas
Release Date: Dec 28, 2013
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