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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] says 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. 5. An- [i] Lib. 11. Antiq. Roman. tiq. Roman,


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 the conclusion 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 likewise 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 de66 pend upon one another; the same God has been 66 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 alterations, 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 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.



FOR what 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 empires. 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, Assyrians, 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

vices, the causes of their grandeur and destruction. We learn there, not only to discover the secret and hidden sources of human politics, which give motion to all actions and enterprises; but to discern withal a sovereign Being, watching and presiding over all, directing and conducting every event, and disposing and absolutely deciding the fate of all the kingdoms and empires of the world. I cannot therefore too inuch exhort those who are entrusted with the education of youth, to read and study this excellent book with attention, which is so capable of forming at once both the understanding and the heart; and, after they have studied it well themselves, to endeavour to inspire their pupils with a taste for it.

What I have said of nations, may also be understood of the great and illustrious men, who have been distinguished for the good or ill they have wrought in states. We must diligently apply ourselves to study their genius, natural inclinations,, virtues and faults, particular and personal qualifications; in a word, that peculiar turn of mind and course of conduct that prevails in them, and forms their character; for that is properly to know them. Otherwise we see only the surface and outside of them; and men are not to be known and judged only by their dress and counte


Neither must we expect to know them principally from such of their actions, as to make the most glorious figure. When they set themselves up to public view, they may dissemble and lie under a restraint, by assuming for a time the visage and mask, which suits best with the character they are to support. They shew themselves what they are, in private, in the closet, and at home, when they are unreserved, and without disguise. It is there they act and talk, as nature' dictates. It is in this manner we should chiefly study great men, if we would pass a right judgment upon them; and it is the inestimable advantage we find in Plutarch, and that wherein he may be said to excel all other historians. In the lives he has left us of the illustrious

illustrious men among the Greeks and Romans, he descends to particulars, which give us infinite pleasure. He is not satisfied with shewing us the general, the conqueror, the statesman, the magistrate, or the orator; he lays open the inside of the house to his readers, or rather the heart of the persons he speaks of, and lets us see in them the father, the husband, the mas-ter, and the friend. We seem to live and discourse with them, to share in their amusements and diversions, to assist at their meals and in their conversations. [Tully says somewhere, that he could not take one step in Athens, and the neighbouring places, without meeting with some ancient monument of history, which awakened the remembrance of the great men, who formerly lived there, and in some measure set them before his eyes. Here was a garden, where the footsteps of Plato seemed still to remain, here he used to walk and discourse of the gravest points of philosophy; there was the place of the public assemblies, where Aschines and Demosthenes seem still to plead against each other; and one would imagine the voice of the Greek orator was still to be heard on the shore, where he learned to overcome the tumultuous noise of public meetings by surmounting that of the waves. The reading the lives of Plutarch seems in my opinion to produce a like effect, by rendering the great men he speaks of in a manner present, and giving us as lively an idea of their customs and manners, as if we had lived and conversed with them. We know more of the genius, spirit, and character of Alexander from Plutarch's very short abridgment of it, than from the very long and particular histories of Quintus Curtius and Arrian.

[Quacunque ingredimur, in aliquam historiam vestigium poni


Usu autem evenit, ut acriùs aliquanto & attentiùs de claris viris, locorum admonitu, cogitemus... velut ego nunc moveor. Venit enim mihi Platonis in mentem,

quem accepimus primùm hic (in Academia)disputare solitum : cujus etiam illi hortuli propinqui non memoriam solum mihi afferunt, sed ipsum videntur in conspectu meo hic ponere, &c. Lib. 5. de Finib. n. 4, Sic.

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