13. The progressive march of humanity is operated in two ways – the gradual, slow, and insensible, if one considers well the epochs which have drawn to a close, which is expressed by successive ameliorations in manners, laws, and customs, which do not fully unfold themselves until after a long space of time, like the changes which currents of water bring to the face of the globe; the other, by movements relatively sudden and rapid, similar to a torrent breaking its barriers, which enables it to jump over in a few years the time which it otherwise would have taken centuries to go over. It is, then, a moral cataclysm which engulfs in a few instants the institutions of the past, and to which succeed a new order of things which little by little become fixed by measure as tranquility reestablishes itself, and becomes positive.
To him who lives long enough to embrace the two sides of the new phase, it seems that a new world is sprung from the ruins of the ancient one. The character, manners, customs, all are changed. It is true that new men, or better still, regenerate ones, have sprung up. The ideas swept away by the generation which is extinct have made place for new ideas in the generation which is being educated.