Page:Armatafragment00ersk.djvu/44

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¬the first ages must of course have been patriarchal, their numbers being small, and few occasions for contention in an unpeopled world ; but, in process of time, when tribes, or rather large masses came to be in perpetual motion towards other countries, they often found them pre-occupied; and then, as the sparks fly up- wards, the sera commenced of strife and warfare. This new state of a wandering population gave a corresponding character to their societies, which though barbarous, or at least rude, in the outset, became the accidental source in this favoured island of the most powerful dominion, and the perfection of civil wisdom. This may appear to be carrying you farther back than any human annals need be traced upwards, but the characters and destinies of nations are so often dependent upon one another, that it is difficult, if not impossible, to give an enlightened or use- ful view of them, without almost an abridged history of a world ; and however the ancient parts may appear insignificant from having no visible bearings upon their present conditions, ¬they ¬