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that an historian should above all things prescribe this rule to himself; To be free from all passion and prejudice; never to presume to advance any falshoods, and have always courage to speak the truth. Negligences in his style may be passed over, but want of sincerity is inexcusable ; [] and herein lies the difference between an history and a poem. As the principal end of a poem is to divert the reader, it necessarily shocks and offends him, if it wants art or elegance ; whereas an history, however written, is always sure to give pleasure, if it is true, as it satisfies a desire natural to mankind, who are fond of knowing, and always curious to learn something new, but cannot bear to be put off with falshood instead of truth, or idle imaginations for real facts. Hence we see that historians, to gain credit with their readers, generally begin with professing an exact and scrupulous sincerity, equally exempt froin love and hatred, hope and fear, as may be particularly observed in Sallust and Tacitus.

Truth therefore is to be sought for in history, before all things. Good writers justly endeavour to render it more agreeable, by the elegance and embellishments of language, and a judicious master will not fail to point out all the graces and beauties of an historian; but he will not suffer his scholars to be dazzled by a vain pomp of words, to prefer flowers to fruits, be less attentive to truth herself than her dress, and set a greater value upon the eloquence of an historian, than upon his exactness and fidelity in relating facts. Quintilian in the character he draws of a Greek historian, teaches us to distinguish thus in a few words: “ The 'history of Clitarchus, says he, is valued for



[z] Intelligo te, frater, alias in tia, nisi eloquentia sit summa: hishistoriâ leges observandas putare, toria quoquomodo scripta delectat. alias poëmate : quippe cùm in illâ Sunt enim homines naturâ curiosi, & ad veritatem cuncta referantur, in quâlibet nudâ rerum cognitione cahàc ad delectationein pleraque. Cic. piuntur, ut qui sermunculis etiam 1. 1. de Leg. n. 4, s.

fabellisque ducantur, Plin. Ep. 8.
Orationi & carmini est parya gra- 1. go
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“its style, and despised for its want of veracity." Clitarchi probatur ingenium, fides infamatur.

We must therefore caution youth to be upon their guard, when they read such histories as were written during the lives of the princes of whom they treat, as it seldom happens that they are dictated by truth, as the desire of pleasing him who distributes fortunes and honours may have had a share in them. The best princes are not always insensible to flattery, and there is a secret thirst of praise and glory implanted in all mankind, that ought to render such histories suspected. But if flattery makes an historian contemptible, detraction must make him odious. Both, [a] says Tacitus, are equally injurious to truth; but with this difference, we easily defend ourselves against the one, , as it is hateful to all the world, and borders upon slavery; and we readily give way to the other, as it deceives us by a false image of liberty, and finds an agreeable admittance into the mind.

There are some historians, who, though very deserving in other respects, through the bad taste of the age they lived in, or too great credulity, have interspersed abundance of fables in their writings, as [6] Tully observes of Herodotus and Theopompus.

Such, for instance, is what the first reports of the birth of Cyrus, of which I shall have occasion to speak hereafter. We excuse antiquity, [c] says Livy, for rather chusing to give us strange stories than true ones, and endeavouring to embellish and adorn the original of great towns and empires with such fictions as are more suitable to fable than history. But we must accustom youth in reading such sort of authors, to distinguish between the true and false; and must also tell them that reason and equity require that they should not reject all a writer says, because some things are

[a] Veritas pluribus modis in. tioni fædum crimen servitutis, mafracta ... libidine assentandi, aut lignitati falsa species libertatis inest. rursus odio adversùs dominantes... Tacit.l. 1. c.i. Sed ambitionem scriptoris facilè [b] L. 1. de Leg. n. s. averseris : obtrectatio & livor pronis (c) In Præf. 1. i. auribus accipiuntur, quippe adula




false, nor believe all he relates without exception, because many things are true.

This love for truth, which ought to be inculcated as much as possible, may be of great service to preserve them from a bad taste, which was formerly very prevalent, I mean, that for romances and fabulous tales, which by degrees extinguish the love and taste of truth, and make the mind incapable of attending to such useful and serious lectures, as speak more to - the reason than the imagination.

It is the peculiar felicity of our age, that as soon as they were supplied either with the translations of the famous writers of antiquity, or such modern works as merited their application, they presently abandoned all these fictions, and even rejected them with scorn; as being sensible, that nothing in reality could be a greater disgrace to human reason, which was intended to be [d] nourished with truth, than to feed upon the chimeras of an irregular imagination, and become the sport of it, by following it through all its extravagancies. And if at any time some works of this nature have been ventured into the public, to the glory of our times it may be said, that they have soon fallen into oblivion, neglected by all men of sense, and left to such frivolous people, as could be so idly amused.


EVENTS. [e] POLYBÍUs, who was as able at the pen as at the sword, and was no less a good writer than an excellent general, takes notice in several places, that the best manner of writing and studying history, is not to stop at the bare recital of facts, the gaining or losing a battle, the rise or fall of empires; but to search into the reasons, and join together all the circumstances and

[d]Naturâ inest mentibus nostris luce dulcius. Acad. Quæst. lib. 4. insatiabilis quædam cupiditas veri n. 31. videndi. Tusc. Qaäest. lib. 1. n.44. [e] Poyb. Hist. lib. 3. Nihil est hominis menti veritatis A a 2


consequences of them; to distinguish, if possible, the secret designs and hidden springs in each event; to go back to the original of things, and the most distant preparations; to distinguish the real causes of a war, from the specious pretences with which it is covered, and especially to note what has decided the success of an enterprise, the fate of a battle, and the ruin of a state. · Without this, [[ ] says he, history gives the reader an agreeable spectacle, but conveys no useful instruction; it serves to satisfy his curiosity for a moment, but

is of no consequence in the conduct of life. He observes, that the war of the Romans in Asia, against Antiochus, was the consequence of that they had made before against Philip king of Macedon; that what gave occasion to this, was the good success of the second Punic war; of which the principal cause on the side of the Carthaginians, was the loss of Sicily and Sardinia : that therefore to form a just idea of the different events of these wars, they must not be considered separately and in parts, but viewed together, and their connections, consequences and dependencies well examined.

He observes in the same place, that it would be a gross mistake to imagine that the conquest of Saguntum by Hannibal was the real cause of the second Pus; nic war. The regret of the Carthaginians for the too easy cession of Sicily, by the treaty which concluded the first Punic war; the injustice and violence of the Romans, who took an opportunity from the commotions in Africa to dispossess the Carthaginians of Sardinia, and impose a new tribute upon them; and the successes and conquests of the latter in Spain, were the real causes of the rupture of this treaty; as Livy suggests in a few words, therein following the plan of Polybius, [g] at the beginning of his history of the second Punic war.

[U] 'Αγώνισμα μεν μάθημα δε και ράπαν. γίγνεται και παραυτίκα μίν τέρπει, [p] Liv. lib 41. n. 1. προς δε μέλλον εδεν ωφελεί το τα


Polybius hence takes occasion to lay down a very useful principle for the study of history, which is to distinguish exactly three things, the beginnings, the causes, and the pretexts of a war. The beginnings are the first steps that are openly taken, and are the consequences of resolutions inade in private; such was the siege of Saguntum. The causes are the different dispositions of men's minds, particular discontents, injuries received, and the hopes of success; such, in the fact we are speaking of, were the loss of Sicily and Sardinia joined to the imposition of a new tribute, and the favourable opportunity of so able and experienced a general as Hannibal. The pretexts are only a veil thrown over the real causes.

He illustrates this principle still farther by other examples. Can any one imagine, says he, that Alexander's irruption into Asia was the first cause of the war against the Persians? It was very far from it; and to be convinced of this, we need only consider the long preparations that preceded this irruption, which was the beginning and declaration of the war, but not the cause of it. Two great events had given Philip cause to believe that the power of the Persians, which was once so formidable, was tending to a declension; the glorious and triumphant return of the ten thousand Greeks under the conduct of Xenophon, through the midst of the enemies armies and fortresses, whilst the victorious Artaxerxes did not dare to oppose the bold resolution they had taken of marching in a body through his whole empire into theirown country; and the generous undertaking of Agesilaus king of Lacedæmon, who with an handful of men carried the war and terror into the heart of Asia Minor, without finding any resistance, and stopped only in his conquests by the divisions of Greece. Philip comparing this negligence and supineness of the Persians with the activity and courage of his Macedonians, animated with the hope of glory and the advantages he should certainly reap from the war, after having united in his favour with incredible address the opinions and suf

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