Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VII.: PRINCIPLES OF SOCIETY. - The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires
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CHAP. VII.: PRINCIPLES OF SOCIETY. - Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, marquis de Volney, The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires 
The Ruins: or a Survery of the Revolutions of Empires, 3rd ed. (London: J. Johnson, 1796).
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PRINCIPLES OF SOCIETY.
In the mean time, wandering in woods and upon the borders of rivers, in pursuit of deer and of fish, the first human beings, hunters and fishermen, beset with dangers, assailed by enemies, tormented by hunger, by reptiles, and by the animals they chased, felt their individual weakness; and, impelled by a common want of safety, and a common sentiment of the same evils, they united their powers and their strength. When one man was exposed to danger, numbers succoured and defended him; when one failed in provision, another shared with him his prey. Men thus associated for the security of their existence, for the augmentation of their faculties, for the protection of their enjoyment; and the principle of society was that of self-love.
Afterwards, instructed by the repeated experience of diverse accidents, by the fatigues of a wandering life, by the anxiety resulting from frequent scarcity, men reasoned with themselves, and said: “Why should we consume our days in search of the scattered fruits which a parsimonious soil affords? Why weary ourselves in the pursuit of prey that escape us in the woods or the waters? Let us assemble under our hand the animals that nourish us; let us apply our cares to the increase and defence of them. Their produce will afford us a supply of food, with their spoils we may clothe ourselves, and we shall live exempt from the fatigues of the day, and solicitude for the morrow.” And aiding each other, they seized the nimble kid and the timid sheep; they tamed the patient camel, the ferocious bull, and the impetuous horse; and applauding themselves on the success of their industry, they sat down in the joy of their hearts, and began to taste repose and tranquillity: and thus self-love, the principle of all their reasoning, was the instigator to every art and every enjoyment.
Now that men could pass their days in leisure, and the communication of their ideas, they turned upon the earth, upon the heavens, and upon themselves an eye of curiosity and reflection. They observed the course of the seasons, the action of the elements, the properties of fruits and plants; and they applied their minds to the multiplication of their enjoyments. Remarking in certain countries the nature of seeds, which contain within themselves the faculty of re-producing the parent plant, they employed to their own advantage this property of Nature: they committed to the earth barley, wheat, and rice, and reaped a produce equal to their most sanguine hopes. Thus they found the means of obtaining within a small compass, and without the necessity of perpetual wanderings, a plentiful and durable stock of provision; and encouraged by this discovery, they prepared for themselves fixed habitations, they constructed houses, villages, and towns; they assumed the form of tribes and of nations: and thus was self-love rendered the parent of every thing that genius has effected, or human power performed.
By the sole aid then of his faculties, has man been able to raise himself to the astonishing height of his present fortune. Too happy would have been his lot, had he, scrupulously observing the law imprinted on his nature, constantly fulfilled the object of it! But, by a fatal imprudence, sometimes overlooking and sometimes transgressing its limits, he plunged in an abyss of errors and misfortunes; and self-love, now disordered, and now blind, was converted into a prolific source of calamities.