Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

and second Punic wars, the wars against Philip king of Macedon, Antiochus king of Asia, Perseus the last king of Macedon, the Numantines in Spain; and lastly, the third Punic war, which ended with the conquest and destruction of Carthage.

608. The fifth is from the destruction of Carthage to the change of the Roman republic into a monarchy under Augustus, and takes in an hundred and fifteen vears. It includes the war of Achaia, and the destruction of Corinth; the domestic troubles raised by the Gracchi

, the wars against Jugurtha, the allies, and Mythridates; the civil wars between Marius and Sylla, Cæsar and Pompey, Anthony and Octavius. This last war ended with the battle of Actium, (U C.723.) and the sovereign authority of Octavius, who was afterwards surnamed Augustus.

I have already observed, in treating sacred history, the use we should make of chronology, and shall forbear to repeat what I have already said upon this subject.

Geography also is absolutely necessary for youth; and for want of learning it when they are young, abundance of persons continue ignorant of it all the rest of their lives, and expose themselves to mistakes upon this article, which make them ridiculous. of an hour regularly spent every day in this study is enough to make them perfect in it. After the general principles are explained to them, they must never be suffered to pass by any considerable town, or any river mentioned in their authors, without shewing their places in the maps. They must learn likewise to point out the situation of every city, with reference to other places that are spoke of. Thus they will say that Eyreux lies west of Paris, Châlone upon Marne on the east, Amiens on the north, and Orleans on the south. They must trace the rivers from their source to the place where they throw themselves into the sea, or some greater river, and point out the considerable towns that lie in their passage. When theyare tolerably well instrueted, they may be made to travel over a map,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

One quarter

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

emot

ΤΙΣ

mesta

[merged small][ocr errors]

or may be taught by word of mouth, by asking them, for instance, what rout they would take to go from Paris to Constantinople, and so of the other provinces

. To render this study less dry and disagreeable it would not be amiss to add to it certain short stories, which might serve to fix an idea of the towns more firmly in the minds of youth, and would teach them a great many curious matters as they went on. These are to be found in several geographical treatises, wrote in French ; from which the masters may easily extract such as they shall judge most proper for youth.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

RELATES

not Or it

ben

Tac

TO OBSERVE WHAT

TO THE LAWS, MANNERS, AND CUSTOMS OF COUNTRIES. It is of no small consequence, whilst we are upon the study of history, to take notice of the different , customs of countries, the invention of arts, the various manners of living, building, fighting, disposing of sieges, or defending of towns, of building ships, and sailing; the ceremonies of their marriages

, funerals, and sacrifices; in a word, whatever relates to customs and antiquity. I shall have occasion to say more of this hereafter.

What I have hitherto taken notice of is, if I may so say, but the skeleton of history, the observations I am going to make are in a manner the soul of it, and contain the most useful part of this study.

T Core der

hist zled

and

tori

SECT. III.

face

PRINCIPALLY TO ENQUIRE AFTER TRUTH.

[ocr errors][merged small]

That in which the most essential quality and most indispensable duty of an historian consists, points out at the same time what should be the principal care of every reader of history. [y] No body is ignorant

(y] Quis nescit primam esse his. audeat; ne qua suspicio gratiæ sit toriæ legem, ne quid falsi dicere in scribendo, ne qua simultatis audeat; deinde, ne quid veri non L. 2. de Orat. n. 63.

that

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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; [2] 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 als ways 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 since rity, equally exempt from 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 tidelity 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. aljas poëmate : quippe cùm in illâ Sunt enim homines naturâ curiosi, & ad veritatem cuncta referantur, in quâlibet nudâ rerum cognitione cahac ad delectationein pleraque. Cic, piuntur, ut qui serniunculis etiam 1. s. de Leg. n.4, 5.

fabellisque ducantur, Plin. Ep. 8. Orationi

& carmini est parya gra- 1. s. VOL. II.

А а

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

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

“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 thein that reason and equity require that they should not reject all a writer says, because some things are

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

false,

at lle

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.

SECT. IV.

12

TO ENDEAVOUR TO FIND OUT THE CAUSES OF

EVENTS. [c] POLYBIUS, 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 bato tle, 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 videndi. Tusc. Qazst. lib. 1.11.44. [e] Poyb. Hist. lib. 3. Nihil est hominis menti veritatis A a 2

con

n. 31.

« ZurückWeiter »