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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 thein; 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.

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[f] 'Αγώνισμα μεν μάθημα δε και ράπαν. γίγνεται και παραυτίκα μίν τέρπει, [8] Liv. lib es. n. 1, προς δε μέλλον εθέν ωφελεί το σα


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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 made 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 their own country; and the generous undertaking of Agesilaus king of Lacedæinon, 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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frages of Greece, urged as the pretext of his invasion, the ancient injuries the Greeks had received from the Persians, and laboured with indefatigable application in making preparations for the war, which his son Alexander, who succeded to his projects as well as his kingdom, happily employed to put them in execution. The weakness and negligence of the Persians therefore were the real cause of the war, their former attempts upon the liberty of Greece the pretext, and Alexander's march into Asia the beginning of it.

In like manner he traces the apparent pretexts and real causes of the war between the Romans and Antiochus.

[h] Dionysius of Halicarnassus lays down the same principles with Polybius. He declares in several places, that if we would derive the advantage from history, which may reasonably be expected, and make it of use in the management of public affairs, our curiosity must not be confined to facts and events; but we must enquire into the reasons of them, study the means which make them succeed, enter into the views and designs of those that conducted them, carefully examine the success which God gave them, (remarkable words for an heathen author) and neglect none of the circumstances which had any important share in the enterprises in question.

Can any man of curiosity and understanding, [i] şays he in another place, be satisfied with knowing that in the war with Persia the Athenians and Lacedemonians gained three victories, two by sea, and a third by land; and with an army of but a hundred and ten thousand men, at most, conquered the king of Persia at the head of above three hundred thousand? Will he not also desire to know the places where these battles were fought, the causes which made the victory incline to the side of the lesser number, and produced so surprising an event; the names and characters of

[b] Dion. Halicarn, lib. s. An- () Lib. 13. Antiq. Roman. tiq. Romano


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the principal officers who distinguished themselves on both sides; in a word, all the memorable circumstances and consequences of so considerable an action ? For, adds he, it is a great pleasure to a man of sense and judgment, who reads an history written in this manner, to be led as it were by the hand from the first entrance upon every action to theconclusion of it; and instead of being a bare reader, to become in a manner the witness and spectator of all that is told.

M, Bossuet, bishop of Meaux, [k] observes like. wise in his discourse upon universal history, that we must not only consider the rise and fall of empires, but must also examine thoroughly the causes of their progress, and the reasons of their declension. “ For,

says he, the same God, who has hung the world together as it were upon chains, and almighty as he

is, hath thought fit for the establishment of order, " that the several parts of this great whole should depend upon one another; the same God has been pleased, so to direct the course of human affairs, as to have their dependencies and proportions. I

mean, that men and nations have had qualities “ suited to the elevation for which they were de

signed; and except in some extraordinary cases,

wherein God thought fit that only his own hand "should appear, there have happened no great al

terations, which have not had their causes in the preceding ages. And as in all affairs there is some

thing that makes way for them, that determines to " the undertaking of them, and makes them succeed, “the true knowledge of history is to observe at all “times the secret dispositions which made way for

great changes, and the important conjunctures " which brought them to pass, In short, it is not

enough to see only what is before our eyes, I mean “ to take a present view of the great events which in

an instant determine the fate of empires: whoever " would thoroughly understand human affairs, must go farther back, and observe the prevailing incli

[k] Chap. i.
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“ nations

“nations and manners, or to say all in a word, the “character both of the people in general, and of “princes in particular; and lastly, of all the extra

ordinary persons, who through the importance of “ the station they bore in the world, have contri“ buted well or ill to the revolutions of states and « fortune of the public.”

This last reflection naturally leads us to what I have said we must in the fifth place take notice of in studying history.




Forwhat regards the character of nations, I cannot do better than refer the reader to the remarks M. Bossuet has made upon that subject in the second part of his discourse upon universal history. That work is one of the most admirable performances that has appeared in our age, not only for the beauty and sublimity of style, but still more for the greatness of the topics, the solidity of the reflections, the profound knowledge of mankind, and its large extent, as it takes in all ages and all einpires. We see there, with infinite pleasure, all the nations of the world pass in a kind of review before our eyes, with their good and evil dispositions, their manners, customs, and different inclinations ; Egyptians, Assyriaus, Persians, Medes, Greeks, and Romans. We there see all the kingdoms of the world rising as it were out of the earth, gradually growing powerful by almost an insensible increase, extending at last their conquests on every side, arriving by different means to the height of human greatness, and falling at once from that height by sudden revolutions, and lost as I may say, and sunk into that nothing from whence they sprung

But what is still more worthy our attention, we find in the manners themselves of the several nations, in their characters, virtues and

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