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BARRISTER-AT-LAW, AND FELLOW AND READER OF HISTORY IN
[PUBLISHED BY DESIRE.]
JOHN COCHRAN, STRAND;
F. ANDREWS, DURHAM; AND E. CHARNLEY, NEWCASTLE-
It is not an easy task to take a general survey
The first difficulty we encounter is, the want of I. SCOPE
Thus it has happened that almost every thing which can be made the subject of narrative, and much besides, has been historically treated. In this way the arts and sciences have afforded matter for historical inquiry; astronomy, mathematics, chemistry, poetry, painting, romance; districts, cities, towns, villages, even single buildings, have had their historians; nations, races, families, even individuals, have in like manner furnished materials for similar compositions : so likewise morals, religion, civilization, literature, and many other topics, have been treated in the same way. Again, subjects which are not suited to narrative have borrowed the name of history; the conduct and habits of animals for instance, every part and portion of matter, animate and inanimate, is brought within the domain of what is called natural history. And if, in this application of the word, we have regard only to the primitive meaning, we cannot object; the Greek word"Ιστορια is derived from "Ίστωρ, one having or possessing knowledge, and this again from"loarba, to know; consequently History might be justly defined, not merely as the record of things done,---of deeds or of facts,—but of every thing that may be known; consequently it might be regarded as a register of facts of every description, and not as restricted to the actions of rational agents, or the events which affect
human society. Thus, that which we call natural cluded by history, though a mere register of facts, would be within his properly entitled to the distinction conferred upon it.
Natural history in
And in this light it has been regarded by Lord list of the
subjects of Bacon,* in whose laborious analysis of historical History science, natural history forms the first and principal division ; though it be only incidentally, and in a very limited degree, the subject of narrative at all.
But those who take this extensive view of the Bacon does scope and range of History must be prepared to narrative as maintain that narrative is not essential to historical Historical
composition. composition; and that mere description, or statement of fact, relative to any individual object of inquiry, is sufficient. It is obvious that Lord Bacon did not regard narrative as an essential quality of historical composition; since the compass he has assigned to the science included many subjects which are matters of description only—things which are constant and invariable in themselves, governed by laws established by nature herself, having for the most part no reference to time or succession, and in no degree analogous to those events which have their origin in human society.
But though we exclude compositions of this cha- But even if racter from the province of History, the field still tory be exremains far too extensive to be surveyed with any scope of the degree of aceuracy by a single eye; the
mains too confused and disheartening—a chaos which no single single mind mind would attempt to master or even to reduce into to survey. , order. And though we consent to restrict it to such subjects only as admit of narrative in some shape
* De Augm. Scient. lib. ii. c. 2; Works, vol. vii. p. 105. .