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Word Count: 2,189
Question stated - Little prospect of a determination of it from the enmity of the opposing parties - The principal argument against the perfectibility of man and of society has never been fairly answered - Nature of the difficulty arising from population - Outline of the principal argument of the Essay THE great and unlooked for discoveries that have taken place of late years in natural philosophy the increasing diffusion of general knowledge from the extension of the art of printing the ardent and unshackled spirit of inquiry that prevails throughout the lettered and even unlettered world the new and extraordinary lights that have been thrown on political subjects which dazzle and astonish the understanding and particularly that tremendous phenomenon in the political horizon the French Revolution which like a blazing comet seems destined either to inspire with fresh life and vigour or to scorch up and destroy the shrinking inhabitants of the earth have all concurred to lead many able men into the opinion that we were touching on a period big with the most important changes changes that would in some measure be decisive of the future fate of mankind It has been said that the great question is now at issue whether man shall henceforth start forwards with accelerated velocity towards illimitable and hitherto unconceived improvement or be condemned to a perpetual oscillation between happiness and misery and after every effort remain still at an immeasurable distance from the wished-for goal Yet anxiously as every friend of mankind must look forwards to the termination of this painful suspense and eagerly as the inquiring mind would hail every ray of light that might assist its view into futurity it is much to be lamented that the writers on each side of this momentous question still keep far aloof from each other Their mutual arguments do not meet with a candid examination The question is not brought to
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