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The historian must not indeed neglect chronological order, with a view to render his narration agreeable. He must give a distinct account of the dates, and of the coincidence of facts. But he is not under the necessity of breaking off always in the middle of transactions, in order to inform us of what was happening elsewhere at the same time. He discovers no art, if he cannot form some connexion among the affairs which he relates, so as to introduce them in a proper train. He will soon tire the reader, if he goes on recording, in strict chronological order, a multitude of separate transactions, connected by nothing else but their happening at the same time.

Though the history of Herodotus be of greater compass than that of Thucydides, and comprehend a much greater variety of dissimilar parts, he has been more fortunate in joining them together and digesting them into order. Hence he is a more pleasing writer, and gives a stronger impression of his subject; though, in judgment and ac curacy, much inferior to Thucydides. With digressions and episodes he abounds; but when these have any connexion with the main subject, and are inserted professedly as episodes, the unity of the whole is less violated by them, than by a broken

praise of energy and brevity, but censures him on many occasions, not without reason, for harsh and obscure expression, deficient in smoothness and ease.

and scattered narration of the principal story. Among the moderns, the President Thuanus has, by attempting to make the history of his own times too comprehensive, fallen into the same error of loading the reader with a great variety of unconnected facts, going on together in different parts of the world; an historian otherwise of great probity, candour, and excellent understanding, but, through this want of unity, more tedious, and less interesting than he would otherwise have been.



AFTER making some observations on the controversy which has been often carried on concerning the comparative merit of the ancients and the moderns, I entered, in the last Lecture, on the consideration of historical writing. The general idea of history is, a record of truth for the instruction of mankind. Hence arise the primary qualities required in a good historian,-impartiality, fidelity, gravity, and dignity. What I principally considered was, the unity which belongs to this sort of composition; the nature of which I have endeavoured to explain.

I proceed next to observe, that in order to fulfil the end of history, the author must study to trace to their springs the actions and events which he records. Two things are especially necessary for his doing this successfully-a thorough acquaintance with human nature, and political knowledge, or acquaintance with government.

The former is necessary to account for the conduct of individuals, and to give just views of their character; the latter to account for the revolutions of government, and the operation of political causes on public affairs. Both must concur, in order to form a completely instructive historian.

With regard to the latter article, political knowledge, the ancient writers wanted some advantages which the moderns enjoy; from whom, upon that account, we have a title to expect more accurate and precise information. The world, as I formerly hinted, was more shut up in ancient times than it is now; there was then less communication among neighbouring states, and by consequence less knowledge of one another's affairs; no intercourse by established posts, or by ambassadors resident at distant courts. The knowledge and materials of the ancient historians were thereby more limited and circumscribed; and it is to be observed, too, that they wrote for their own countrymen only; they had no idea of writing for the instruction of foreigners, whom they despised, or of the world in general; and hence they are less attentive to convey all that knowledge with regard to domestic policy, which we, in distant times, would desire to have learned from them. Perhaps also, though in ancient ages men were abundantly animated with the love of liberty, yet the full extent of the influence of government, and of political causes, was not then so

thoroughly scrutinized, as it has been in modern times; when a long experience of all the different modes of government has rendered men more enlightened and intelligent with respect to public affairs.

To these reasons it is owing, that though the ancient historians set before us the particular facts which they relate in a very distinct and beautiful manner, yet sometimes they do not give us a clear view of all the political causes which affected the situation of affairs of which they treat. From the Greek historians, we are able to form but an imperfect notion of the strength, the wealth, and the revenues of the different Grecian states; of the causes of several of those revolutions that happened in their government; or of their separate connexions and interfering interests. In writing the history of the Romans, Livy had surely the most ample field for displaying political knowledge concerning the rise of their greatness, and the advantages or defects of their government. Yet the instruction in these important articles which he affords, is not considerable. An elegant writer he is, and a beautiful relater of facts, if ever there was one; but by no means distinguished for profoundness or penetration. Sallust, when writing the history of a conspiracy against the government, which ought to have been altogether a political history, has evidently attended more to the elegance of narration, and the painting of

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