The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 1

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 1

The Library of Original Sources - Vol. 1

Read FREE!

Excerpt

IT IS THE PURPOSE of this work to present the ideas that have influenced civilization in the words of the men or the documents that have developed them.

The work embraces the religious beliefs of the past, as expressed and enforced by the seers who have given them to the world; the theories of philosophy in the expositions of their originators; the marvelous discoveries and inductions of the natural sciences as expounded by the men who have first seen the truths beneath the facts; the development of the social sciences and of law, government, education, and industry in the monographs which have championed their principles, and the documents which have exhibited their practices; and, finally, the great movements which have made manifest the pulse beat of the ages, as they have been caught and held living in the kinetograph-like records of the best contemporary observers.

It has been our principle that it is much more satisfactory for the reader to examine at first hand the results of the men who have influenced the thought and life of the world, than it is to study some critic’s metaphysical essay upon another man’s work. The best of all histories would be merely a collection of the most important original sources with accessory notes and facts. This may be impracticable as applied to an ordinary history of events, but as regards an account of the growth of civilization, where the illustrative source is itself apt to be a masterpiece deserving the deepest study and of the liveliest interest, a second-hand narrative can only spoil the drama and deaden the interest.

With this principle in view, starting from the earliest historic time, we have collected those documents in which the world’s thinkers have embodied the ideas and discoveries which have given man control over nature and himself, and by linking them together in practically chronological order with introductions and biographies, we have made a history, the student of which, may, so to speak, begin to live five thousand years ago and think and feel what man has thought and felt down the ages.

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