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The stream of History is not a mere figure of speech, but the best expression of our modern consciousness that the current of human affairs is continuous, and that it moves in a certain definite direction. Any surveys on this stream, in a large and liberal sense, may ascertain some of its principal contributories, and indicate, possibly, the outfall to which it tends.

The following papers have at least this serious scope, that they are designed in contemplation of this moving current. They are not a mere reprint of desultory essays, but a combination of new and old materials, with a very specific though tentative object. The views of other authors are discussed at considerable length, but the writer must claim that his primary design was to express certain convictions or views of his own conceiving. His book is concerned partly with epochs or events which have been illustrated in recent historical works, or which bear on important questions of the hour; but it has the further intent of aiming at certain inferences in advance of the present vicissitudes of opinion. These inferences are necessarily imperfect in the present state of Historical Science, and they may, or may not, be of interest for its other investigators. But at least they are hazarded with this earnest desire, and this Volume has so far a unity of design that from first to last it is meant as a testimony to the Progress which results from general laws, and is secure from interruption by individual agencies.

APRIL, 1862.

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