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instinct and sustained by present experience, because of any incongruity 'attending a remote experience-an incongruity, too, which cannot be admitted real without implying absurdity, and which may be disposed of as only apparent by an explanation at once simple, rational, and in accordance with present human experience.

Returning to the position, that history finds a chief use in the portrayal of personal character in connexion with the realities of life, the question may be asked, Wherein is history better than fiction? Provided the portraits of fiction are equally true to "the conditions of humanity," why are they not as good as the portraits of history? The answer is, The portraits of fiction cannot, from the nature of the case, be equally true to the conditions of humanity. The writer of history has this material advantage over the writer of fiction, the materials which he is to mould into personal character are made to his handare made by nature itself, and hence are so far perfectly true to the conditions of humanity. But the writer of fiction must invent his materials; and though in this work of invention he may copy or imitate nature, yet his materials are only imitations; and imitations of nature, however excellent, can never equal nature.

And here we have an opportunity to state, in a word, the reason why history should be honestly written-written with scrupulous fidelity to the facts. The use of history requires the portrayal of personal character; and the peculiar advantage of the writer of history is, that, having actual and therefore natural experiences to work upon, he has so far a guarantee that the portraits he pictures shall be perfectly natural. Of course, then, if he alters his facts, he so far destroys his peculiar advantage as an historian. If he mutilates, glosses over, colors, puts in false relations, garbles, in any way tampers with the materials which human experience has furnished him, the portraits he presents will be correspondingly false-false, not alone to fact, (which, of itself, might be comparatively immaterial,) but false to "the conditions of humanity". false to nature itself-false to that which alone secures to history its chief use in elevating the heart and informing the mind. It may be an amiable weakness which tempts the historian to suppress, or in some way alter the com

plexion of an unexpected and painful fact-a fact that reveals a blemish in the character of his hero, and which he cannot honestly state without great pain to the reader, whose idol is thereby proved to be fallible. It requires unusual courage and the greatest reverence for truth to record the real fact, just as it is, without other palliation or excuse than what the circumstances of the time and place justify. Yet he who has not this courage and this reverence for truth-who is not ready to incur odium, if need be, in fidelity to facts which men, blind to the imperfections of their idols, are unwilling to hear-is utterly incompetent so to write history as to secure its chief use. This use, requiring the faithful portrayal of personal character, can be secured only on condition that the plain truth be spoken, let who will suffer, let who will complain.

It remains that we add a word in stating the principlethe law of human development, whereby history, in its exhibitions of personal character, does the work we have attributed to it. And here we are brought directly to the statement, which, though repeated till it sounds commonplace, contains a most profound meaning,—that it is not by inculcating abstractions, however excellent, that the mass of human beings can be greatly improved. Doubtless there are some souls so susceptible to salutary impressions, with whom the course of well-doing is so nearly spontaneous, that the most formal statement of an ethical rule or precept suffices to call up within them the appropriate feeling. Such souls, however, are rare exceptions to the general make of human nature. With most persons, truth and wisdom must come not alone in verbal forms, but in the forms of men-not alone by didactic methods, but in the way of personal examples. The salutary maxim must be presented as a living energy; the divine principle must be vitalized in human character; the word must be made flesh. The very soul that remains listless and cold under the formal, preceptive inculcation of the most inspiring truth, will start into life and fill with emotion when the very same truth finds its way to him, not in its isolated, abstract form, but in the presence of the man in whose character it has found an embodiment. To teach such a soul goodness, it is necessary to present it, not rules of goodness, but good men. The bond

of sympathy which connects one human being with another, makes even the silent presence of one who has appropriated knowledge or goodness as a living, ruling force, a hundred-fold more instructive to the mass of men than even the clearest preceptive teaching can possibly be. 1 The truth which swells his soul flashes from his eye, radiates from his countenance, and reveals itself in the mere intonation of his voice,-his whole mien, his simple walk and gesture, become communicative. Even the touch of his garment reveals a knowledge that no verbal definition could make clear. Of course the same general principle holds, whether the character presented be one of virtue or vice, of wisdom or folly. True, the incongruous mixtures in which the different shades of character are often found, may sometimes confuse a beholder, and the good by glossing over serve to insinuate the evil; yet when faithfully presented, without disguise or coloring, the picture of an evil character will as naturally inspire a hatred of evil, as that of a good character will inspire a love of goodness.

Now it is this communicative bond, which, as we have seen, makes the presence of any human being a revealer and inspirer of his own nobility, when his character is noble, and for the same reason, an occasion of disgust, when his character is ignoble,-that gives the writer of history his great opportunity as the elevator and educator of his fellow men; for it is his especial business to pre sent, not ethical rules and maxims of wisdom-which, as may be admitted, are comparatively unimportant—but to present human character-to present men in whom virtue or vice, wisdom or folly, have a living, incarnate expression. He can do better than recommend heroism by analyzing it and expatiating on its excellence- he can portray heroes. He can do better than excite detestation of treachery by unfolding its atrocity and warning men to shun it he can present an Arnold. He can do better than inspire a pure patriotism, an unselfish love of country, by explaining wherein it is noble and by appealing to men to cherish it as a manly virtue-he can present a Washington. Thus can he constantly act on human sympathy, and awakening manly and heroic feeling, imparting a knowledge of what is manly and heroic, develope among

his fellows true greatness of character. Thus doing, will he secure to history, not, as we must think, its sole use, not perhaps even its principal use, but certainly one of the highest benefits it is possible to bestow on human beings.

The train of thought, which we trust is now clearly brought out, we have felt at liberty to pursue at the greater length, as it enables us to present, better than we otherwise could do, the distinctive merit of the work named at the head of this article. We shall not claim for Mr. Hildreth that his history fully reaches the high ideal which we have aimed to express; yet we may say, that of all authors who have attempted any thing like a complete American history, he is the only one who appears to recognize this ideal. In assigning his work its place among other American histories, we must use words of contrast, rather than of comparison. His history is not merely unlike, but essentially unlike, any other. Agreeing with his predecessors in the details of his narrative,—and, so far as different authors go over the same ground, they must, of course, describe the same events, the spirit and purpose of his work give to it a character quite peculiar. Some important particulars wherein this statement holds, will appear as we proceed.

The tendency so strong in human nature to invest the founders of a state with mythic excellence, and which in the legends of ancient Greece and Rome, and even Britain, has given such marvellous indications of its inventive power, has been busy with our own history-brief as this history comparatively is. In the popular mind, the founders of this nation, its revolutionary heroes, and even the framers of the present form of government have, in a greater or less measure, lost their characters as men, and are looked upon as a superior kind of beings. It requires no little moral courage to venture even the suspicion, that they were merely human beings, and hence fallible, erring, and even sinning,-that they were simply men, having the infirmities, the passions, jealousies, rivalries, and other imperfections which uniformly characterize the experience of " poor human nature." Possessing in an extraordinary degree the faculty which in the mixture of the

fabulous and the real distinguishes the probable from the improbable, and animated by a pure love of truth, Niebuhr, separating the legendary from the actual, presented Roman history in an essentially new aspect. Imbibing his spirit, Grote has done a similar service to the history of ancient Greece. Mr. Hildreth is the Niebuhr of American history. We open his pages and are delighted to find ourselves in the company of human beings. His whole work gives the best internal evidence of its essential truthfulness. Even though we had no other means of testing his accuracy, the probability of the events which he narrates, and the naturalness of the characters which he personates, show that he has neither invented his facts nor put them in deceptive relations. His "personal portraits " are seen at a glance to be true to "the conditions of humanity."

Mr. Hildreth's History of the United States appears in two series-the first series presenting, in three volumes, the colonial and revolutionary periods; the second series presenting, in three more volumes, the period subsequent to the adoption of the Federal Constitution, up to the close of Munroe's first presidential term in 1821. The whole work thus embraces the course of American history for about two hundred and thirty years, dating from the discovery of Columbus in 1492. No other history, aiming at any thing like completeness, covers so great a length of time; and particularly so far as regards the revolutionary and subsequent periods, no other single work makes any approach to it in amplitude of detail, and thoroughness of treatment.

Mr. Hildreth's first volume opens with a chapter on the voyages of discovery, which, under the patronage mostly of England, France and Spain, conducted by such hardy adventurers as the Cabots, Cartier and De Soto, made the shores of America almost familiarly known to Europe. The characteristics of the aboriginal inhabitants are described in a brief, yet compact chapter. The various attempts at colonization by rival nations, and also by individuals attempts of which few were successful, most were disastrous, and all extremely hazardous, and in which such heroes as Gilbert lost their lives, Raleigh their fortunes, and Captain John Smith gained enduring fameare described with a graphic pen. As we proceed, we are



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