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the original witnesses for perpetuating the memory of the events. Without an authentic memorial derived from the actors in the events, or from contemporary observers, history is a fiction, more or less specious. Without this solid foundation of well-attested fact, it is, at the best, but an historical romance, in which a general probability of manners, institutions, and state of society, is maintained: A faithful registrar of contemporary events is like a painter of portraits or landscapes after nature: the author of fictitious history is like the painter of an ideal history-piece, which may resemble the truth, but does not portray it.

The first approach to contemporary history, properly so called, is the composition of diaries, journals, and personal memoirs; narratives of events in which the writer plays a part himself, or of which he is merely a passive spectator. When these are confined to a particular transaction-as a siege, a battle, the negotiation of a treaty, the deliberations of a synod, the formation or overthrow of a government-they hold, in general, an intermediate place between the materials for history and history itself. When, however, they include a long series of memorable events, affecting the destinies of one or more nations, they rise to the dignity and amplitude of history. As examples of the latter class, it will be sufficient to mention such periodical works as the Annual Register, and other previous publications of the same sort—and such histories as those of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Polybius, Sallust, Cæsar, Tacitus, Froissart, Comines, Sleidan, Guicciardini, Thuanus, Sully, Clarendon, Burnet, &c. Works of this sort are valuable as original testimony, and constitute the materials out of which other histories are formed, not less than mere collections of state papers or documents. Their most essential quality, therefore, is veracity, and contemporary historians are mainly to be considered as witnesses and relaters of events. They may have other good qualities besides veracity; they may show discretion in selecting, and skill in arranging facts; their style in narration may be perspicuous and impressive; they may judge events and characters with sagacity and penetration; but it is principally as authentic witnesses and recorders of contemporary facts that they are important.' If we did not consider their testimony as true, we

Since the time of Thucydides, (see I. 21, 22,) the essence of history has been made to consist in its veracity. Thus, Cicero says that History is 'testis temporum, lux veritatis, vita memoriæ, magistra vitæ, nuncia vetustatis.'-De Orat. II. 9. Again: 'Quis nescit primam esse historiæ legem, ne quid falsi dicere audeat? deinde, ne quid

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should pay no regard to their writings. It is the true office of history (says Lord Bacon) to represent the events themselves, together with the counsels, and to leave the observations and conclusions thereupon to the liberty and faculty of every man's judgment.' 1

In order to determine how far a historian of this class is trustworthy, we should apply to him the tests which are used for trying the credibility of testimony. This process may lead only to uncertain results, and there may be, as in evidence before a court of justice, conflicting considerations on the question; but the contemporary historian and annalist is mainly to be regarded as a witness, or a collector of original evidence, and to be estimated as such.

There is, however, another class of historians, who are not themselves witnesses, or the original collectors and reporters of the oral testimony of others. For the most part, they are not contemporary with the events which they describe; and when they are, it is usually as narrators of the history of foreign countries, in which case they have to deal with what Madame de Staël called 'contemporary posterity.' These are what may be termed the Learned Historians who compile history from the recorded testimony of original witnesses, and the contemporary monuments and accounts. Among the Greeks-Ephorus, Timeus, Diodorus, Dionysius, Plutarch, and Arrian: among the Latins-Livy, Cornelius Nepos, and Quintus Curtius; among the moderns-Machiavel, Raleigh, Muratori, Giannone, Mariana, Hume, Robertson, Gibbon, Rollin,

veri non audeat ? nequa suspicio gratiæ sit in scribendo? ne qua simultatis ? hæc scilicet fundamenta nota sunt omnibus.'-Ib. c. 15. So Lucian (Quom. Hist. sit conscrib. c. 9.) lays it down that the end of history is utility, which arises from truth alone. The two principal qualifications of a historian (he says) are penetration and judgment in political affairs, and a good style of writing (c. 34); moreover, a historian ought to have had some civil and military experience. Truth is the goddess to whom alone he must sacrifice; and he must be impartial, independent, and incorrupt, so as not to distort facts either from fear or favour, (c. 37-41.) Polybius likewise says, that as an animal is rendered useless by the loss of its sight, so history, without truth, is an idle tale, (I. 14, § 6.) In another place he says, that the end of tragedy is to produce emotion by fiction-the end of history is to convey instruction by truth, (II. 56, § 11.)

Dr. Arnold, in his Lectures on Modern History, (lect. viii.,) also lays it down that 'the one great qualification in a historian is an earnest craving after truth, and utter impatience, not of falsehood merely, but of error,' (p. 293.) He adds, that these qualities are intellectual as well as moral, and are as incompatible with great feebleness of mind as they are with dishonesty,' (p. 297.)

1 1 Advancement of Learning, vol. ii. p. 114.

Sismondi, Niebuhr, &c., may serve as examples. Their business consists in collecting and collating the evidence of the original witnesses, either preserved by contemporary writers, or handed down by a faithful oral tradition; in balancing inconsistent or contradictory accounts; in illustrating past events and past states of society by the light of subsequent experience and knowledge ; and in tracing the successive steps in which the progress of mankind consists. It is to this class of historians that we principally owe that which is styled philosophical or ætiological history; that is to say, history accompanied with deductions of causes and effects, often extending over long periods of time, and therefore only possible upon a retrospect of past ages. Writers of this class, having no value as witnesses or original reporters of events, seem peculiarly required to comment upon the transactions which they describe; and being, as judges, exempt from the passions and interests of contemporaries, and necessarily free from all personal bias, their comments ought, on this account, to be the more enlightened and impartial.

For success in this difficult and important department of history, a writer ought to possess qualifications similar to those indicated above with respect to science; he ought to have studied the subject with attention for a considerable time; he ought to have ability sufficient to master it, and also an honest desire of arriving at the truth, and not perverting the evidence to suit his own interests or inclinations.

Looking to the unsettled state of many portions of the moral and political sciences, and to the unpractical nature of the reveries in which speculators on an ideal commonwealth have indulged, it is natural that writers of history should be the chief guides of opinion on questions of government. As the historian's subject keeps him in perpetual contact with facts, his general conclusions always possess some value, and represent some fraction of truth, even when they are founded on an imperfect induction, or derived from a mass of contemporary facts not sufficiently dissected and decomposed. Besides, if the facts are fully and faithfully stated, his conclusions may be corrected and limited by his premises, which is never the case where the forms of an ideal state are constructed out of first principles, according to what Mr. Mill has styled the Geometrical Method of Political Reasoning. The increased tendency of modern times to historical studies, to the collection of a well-ascertained body of facts respecting the succes

sive states of a civil community, and to their philosophical appreciation, as illustrating the progress of society, corresponds with the tendency to careful observation and induction in the physical sciences. Hence, with the exception of the writers on the law of nations, on positive law, and on political economy, historians are now the great teachers of political wisdom-of civilis scientia.2 And it is only by a close examination of the results obtained by trustworthy and enlightened historians, and by a careful generalisation from them, assigning each effect to its proper cause, that Political Philosophy can ever be placed on a sound basis.


NOTE A. (p. 100.)

SOME of the numerous guesses of diviners have, as is not wonderful, hit the truth with great exactness. Thus John Cario, the astrologer of Joachim I., elector of Brandenburg, published in the year 1522 a Prognosticatio, constructed according to the rules of the art, in which he predicted a destructive inundation, famine, pestilence, and civil and ecclesiastical troubles, for the year 1524,3 and the birth of Antichrist for the year 1693. But the year 1789 was to be the most terrible of all. In this year, there were to be great and marvellous events, changes and catastrophes. Adelung, who reports this prediction in a volume

See the just remarks of M. Comte, Cours de Phil. Pos. tom. iv. p. 284 upon the benefits to be anticipated from the historical tendency of the present age.

2 The following remarks of Bacɔn illustrate the applicability of history to practical politics: The form of writing which of all others is fittest for this variable argument of negotiation and occasion, is that which Machiavel chose wisely and aptly for government—namely, discourse upon histories or examples; for knowledge drawn freshly, and in our view, out of particulars, knoweth the way best to particulars again; and it hath much greater life for practice when the discourse attendeth upon the example, than when the example attendeth upon the discourse. For this is no point of order, as it seemeth at first, but of substance; for when the example is the ground, being set down in a history at large, it is set down with all circumstances, which may sometimes control the discourse thereupon made, and sometimes supply it as a very pattern for action; whereas the examples alleged for the discourse's sake are cited succinctly, and without particularity, and carry a servile aspect toward the discourse which they are brought in to make good.'-Adv. of Learning, vol. ii. p. 266. Legal precedents, in like manner, are of little value, unless the case cited has been reported fully, so that it can be seen whether the rule of law, said to have been laid down, was necessarily involved in the decision of the case.

3 It seems that the astrologers had predicted the destruction of the world by inundation in 1524, and that some persons had provided themselves with ships in order to be prepared against the calamity.-BODIN. de Rep. IV. c. ii.

published in 1787, does not doubt that the astrologer will prove to be as much mistaken with respect to the year 1789, as he had already proved to be with respect to the year 1693.-Geschichte der Narrheit, vol. iii. p. 118.

There is likewise a curious prediction of the extinction of the independence of Venice, in the Satire of Luigi Alamanni, an Italian poet, who died about the middle of the sixteenth century, and whose poems were published at Lyons in 1532-3. In Satira xii. is the following address to Venice :

Se non cangi pensier, l'un secol solo
Non conterà sopra'l millesimo anno
Tua libertà, che va fuggendo a volo.

Ginguené, who first called attention to this passage, (Hist. Littéraire d'Italie, tom. ix. p. 144, ed. 2,) remarks, that the election of the first doge falls in 697; and that if to this epoch we add 1100 years, we obtain the year 1797, which is the precise year next after that in which Venice ceased to be independent.

Few predictions, however, were so lucky as those of Cario for the year 1789, and of Alamanni for the year 1796; and, accordingly, it was in general necessary to alter them after the event, in order to produce a close agreement between the prediction and the thing foretold. Thus in the Quatrains of Nostradamus, first published in 1555, there was the following stanza :—

Gand et Bruxelles marcheront contre Anvers,
Senat de Londres mettront à mort leur roy:
Le sel et vin luy seront à l'envers,

Pour eux avoir le regne en desarroy.

After the execution of Charles I., this passage of Nostradamus was applied in France to the striking event; and it was long considered by his admirers as a strong proof of his prophetic power. Adelung, however, considers the supposed prophecy as taking its origin in the troubles in Flanders, which were contemporary with its composition; and he refers 'leur roy' to the Flemish cities, not to the senate of London. He understands Nostradamus to have meant, that the English government would put to death some supposed King of Flanders.— Ut sup. vol. vii. p. 133.

Another more remarkable example of the subsequent perversion of a prophecy, in order to adapt it to an important event, may be added:—A German writer, named Gaspar Brusch, published the following prophetic verses in the year 1553:

Post mille expletos a partu virginis annos,

Et post quingentos rursus ab orbe datos,
Octogesimus octavus mirabilis annus

Ingruet is secum tristia fata trahet.

Si non hoc anno totus malus occidet orbis,

Si non in nihilum terra fretumque ruent :

Cuncta tamen mundi sursum ibunt atque deorsum
Imperia, et luctus undique grandis erit.

The most remarkable event of the year 1588 was the Spanish Armada. The prediction was forgotten for two hundred years, and was reprinted in the Mercure de France in the middle of the last century, with the substitution of 'septengin

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