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600                              POLITICAL SCIENCE.
present age. Or great political mistakes may throw a nation
into the background, producing discontent within and dis-
couragement in regard to external relations. But do such
causes as these, which certainly change the relative place of
different states, of necessity alter the political condition of
states for the worse ? May they not equally well produce
sobriety, caution, a more contracted policy, a more careful
husbanding of all national resources, a greater desire to pre-
vent all complaints of the people against the government ?
If this can be the result, the political condition may be greatly
benefited, and the successes of other states, or the feeling of
humiliation, may be followed by a new and better period of
national life.
4. There may be, again, a decline in literary and artistic
Decay of genius ability within a nation.    An age brilliant with
andcuimre,           genius in poetry, eloquence, and the arts, may
be followed by one of great sterility—one that is given over
to false taste and false art.    A nation, like a man, cannot
without shame and discouragement feel  itself to have done
its best, and to be doomed in the future to mediocrity and
imitation.    Where the decay of taste and the want of literary
genius may be traced to something false, some demoralizing
element in the   civilization  of the  country, or to  superior
motives for activity in other pursuits, or to political evil, they
must exist until the cause be removed.    But at the most this
can be a cause only concurring with other and deeper causes
of decline.    There would have been no good reason for dis-
couragement because the epic age lay far in the past of Greece,
beyond even the historic period ; for afterwards came the
age  of lyric poetry, of tragedy, of history, eloquence, and
philosophy  in succession.    There never could be, perhaps,
another Shakespeare in England, and in the ages of the later
Stuarts and first Georges everything sank down.   But a yet
later period *showcd that there may be a revival of national
genius, as soon as some load of false principle is taken off
or some new spring is applied.    Perhaps the shaking off of
falsehood at the revolution of 1688 and the awakened moral