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This exact knowledge of the characters of

great men makes an essential part of history; and it is for this reason that good historians are usually careful to give an express and general idea of the good or ill qualities of the principal persons they speak of. Of this kind are the characters of Catiline, Marius, and Sylla, in Sallust; of Furius Camillus, Hannibal, and a great many others, in Livy.

It is by studying attentively the prevailing dispositions both of nations in general, and their commanders in particular, that we are able to form a judgment of their designs, actions, and enterprises, and may even foretel the consequence. Philopemen, an officer of excellent understanding, observing on the one hand the carelessness and negligence of Antiochus, who was amusing himself at feasts and weddings; and on the other, the diligence and indefatigable activity of the Romans, made no difficulty in foretelling on which side the victory would fall. Polybius is very careful, by the wise reflections he makes in several parts of his history, to excite the attention of the reader to take notice of the personal qualifications of the great inen he writes of, and to observe that the Roman conquests were the effects of schemes concerted at a distance, and conducted by such means, as with the abilities of their generals could scarce possibly fail of success. It was froin this profound study of the genius and character of mankind, from a thorough enquiry into the nature and constitution of the different kinds of government, and the natural causes which in course of time change the form of them ; and lastly, by serious reflections upon the present state of affairs and disposition of men's minds, that the same historian, in the sixth book of his history, has carried the sagacity of his conjectures and foresight so far as to declare, that sooner or later the republic of Rome would again be changed into a inonarchical govern

When I come to speak of the Roman history I shall give an extract and summary of this passage of



Polybius, which is one of the most curious and remarkable of all antiquity.




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The observations I have already mentioned are not the only ones to be made, nor the most essential; such as relate to the regulation of mamers are still more important. “ The greatest advantage,” says Livy in his excellent preface, “ arising from the knowledge “ of history is, that you may see there examples of

every kind set in the clearest light. You have pat“ terns for your imitation both in your own private

conduct, and in the administration of public af“ fairs ; you find there also such actions as flow “ from corrupt principles, fatal in their event, and “ for that reason to be avoided.” Hoc illud est præcipuè in cognitione rerum salubre ac frugiferum, omnis te exempli documenta in illustri posita monumento intueri': inde tibi tuæque reipublica, quod imitare, capias; inde fadum inceptu, fædum exitu, quod vites.

The case is near the same with the study of history as with travelling. [m] If it be contined barely to the passing over countries, the visiting of cities, the examining the beauty and magnificence of the buildings and public monuments, where is the mighty advantage attending it? Does it make a man wiser, more regular, or temperate? Does it remove his prejudices, or correct his errors? The novelty and variety of these objects may amuse him for a time, like a child, and he may gaze upon them with a stupid admiration. But if this be all, it is not to travel, but wander, and to lose both his time and trouble. Non est hoc peregrimari, sed errare. It is said of Ulysses, that he visited abundance of cities, but not till after it had been ob[m] Senec. Epist. 410.


served, that he applied hiinself to study the manners and genius of the people. [n] Qui mores hominum multorum vidit & urbes.

The ancients made long and frequent voyages, but it was with a view to instruct; to visit mankind, to improve from their wisdom and knowledge.

Such is the use we ought to make of history. We stand in need of instructions and examples to induce us to the practice of virtue amidst the dangers and obstacles which surround it; and history supplies us with these of every kind, It is thence the sentiments of honour and probity are derived; [0] Hinc mihi ille justitiæ haustus bibat. We must carefully study the actions and speeches of the great men of antiquity, and make it our business seriously to digest them.

[p] When Tully endeavours to incline his brother Quintus to kindness and moderation, he puts him in mind of what he had read in Xenophon concerning Cyrus and Agesilaus." [9] He tells us it was the use he himself made of what he had read in his youth, and history had taught him to suffer the utmost extremities, and despise all dangers for the service of his country. “ How many models of virtue, says he, are “ left us by the Greek and Latin writers, which are ".not laid before us only to be looked on, but to be “ imitated? And by studying them incessantly, and

endeavouring to copy after them in the manage“ment of public affans, have I formed my mind and

heart, upon the idea of those great men, whose pic"tures are so admirably drawn in their writings. Quàm multas robis imagines, non solum ad intuendum, verùm etiam ad imitandum, fortissimorum virorum expressas, scriptores & Græci & Latini reliquerunt ? quas ego mihi semper in administrandå republicá proponens, animum & mentem meam ipsâ cogitatione hominum excellentium confirmabam!

[n] Horat. de Arte Poet. [P] Epist. 2. ad Quint. (o] Quint. I. 12.6, 2.

[9] Pro Arch. Poet, n. 14.


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We must therefore in teaching youth history, be very careful to make them derive from it one of its principal advantages, which is the regulation of their manners; and to this end we must from time to time introduce short reflections; ask them their own judgment upon the actions they read; accustom them especially not to suffer themselves to be dazzled by a vain outward shew, but to judge universally according to the principles of equity, truth and justice; and raise in them an admiration for the modesty, frugality, generosity, disinterestedness, and love for the public good, which prevailed in the happy times of the Greek and Roman republies. When youth are thus timely modelled, and accustomed from their infancy to the study of history to admire examples of virtue, and abhor vice, we may hope that these early seeds, assisted by a superior aid, without which they would soon miscarry, may in due time bring forth good fruit; and that something might happen to them like what is told of a scholar of Plato's, whom the philosopher had trained up with great care in his own house. When he returned home, and saw his father break out into a violent transport of passion, he stood in amaze, “I " never saw any thing like this, says he, at Plato's.” Apud Platonem educatus puer, cùm ad parentes relatus, vociferantem videret patrem: Nunquam, inquit, hoc apud Platonem vidi.



RELATES TO RELIGION. I have one observation more to make upon the study of history, which consists in carefully observing whatever relates to religion, and the great truths which are necessarily dependent upon it. For amidst the confused chaos of ridiculous opinions, absurd ceremonies, impious sacrifices, and detestable principles, which idolatry, the daughter and mother of ignorance and corruption of heart, has brought forth, to the reproach


of human reason and understanding, there are still to be discerned some precious remains of almost all the fundamental truths of our holy religion. We find in it particularly the existence of a Being supreme in power, and supremely just, the absolute Lord of

, kings and kingdoms, whose providence rules all the events of this life, whose justice prepares for the next the rewards and chastisements that are due to the righteous and the wicked; and lastly, whose all-piercing eye sees into the inmost recesses of our souls, and fills them with trouble and confusion, whether we will or no. But as I have already treated of this subject more at large in the preliminary discourse prefixed to the first volume, I shall dwell no longer upon it here.

These, in my opinion, are the principal observations youth should be directed to make, whilst they are studying history, taking care at the same time to proportion them to their age and capacity, and never proposing any reflections to them they are not capable of comprehending. I shall now proceed to apply these general principles to particular examples in the clearest and most intelligible manner in my power.




IN making the application of the principles I have here laid down, I shall select, first from the history of the Persians and Greeks, and then from that of the Romans, certain portions and particular facts, to which I shall add some reflections.




THE first piece taken from the history of the Persians.


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