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It is not my Design now to attempt removing this ill-grounded Prejudice, (tho' that may perhaps be the Subject of a future Letter) nor shall I at present give you a List of German Writers : I shall only, among a great number of valuable Tracts, upon all manner of Subjects, written in the German Language, single out a Couple, which, perhaps, may not be undeserving your Notice; as well on account of the Importance of the Subject, as the Manner in which it is treated.
It has been a general Complaint, (and perhaps till of late Years not altogether without Reason) that Germany has produced little or nothing tolerably good, much less perfect, in History. And as the German History has been hitherto the most neglected, and of Confequence is yet the most arduous, it is of that Subject, before all others, I choose to recommend you a Specimen.
The two excellent Tracts I am hinting at take in pretty near the same Space of Time, and are,
1. Herr Heinrichs von Bubnau genaue und umftandliche Teutsche Kayser-und Reichs-Historie, aus den bewehrtesten Geschicht-Schreibern und Urkunden zusammen getragen. Erster Theil.
Mr. Henrn von Bubnan's compleat and ample History of the German Emperors and Empire, collečted out of the most approved Historians, and Authentick Records. Part I. In Quarto, five Alphabets, 17 Sheets; to be continued.
II. Geschichte der Teutschen, bisz zu Anfang der Frankischen Monarchie, in zehen Buchern verfaffet von D, Johann Jacob Mafcou.
That is, The German History ti the Foundation of the Monarchy of the Franks : In Ten Books, by Dr. John Jacob Mascou, in Quarto, three Alphabets.
HE Author of the first (at this Time
Privy Counsellor, and one of the Prime Ministers of State to the King of Poland, a Gentleman noted for his vast Erudition, and long Experience) observes at the Beginning of his Preface, that, in order to form an adequate Judgment of the Worth and Excellency of any History, we must examine, (1.) The Weight and Moment of its Subject. (2.) Whether whatever is contain’d in it be true, or at least probable. And, (3.) The Manner in which the Historical Facts are related ; that is, if it be regular, perspicuous, and in all Points adapted to the Nature of its Subject. That Historian (says he) who knows how to combine these three Reo quisites, may be justly esteem'da Sample of Perfection. On the contrary he, who is wanting in the due Observation of any one of them, is, with as much Reason, excluded the Number of good Writers.
He expatiates upon these three Heads in some Pages, and particularly thews how absolutely neceffary it is that an Historian be impartial and disinterested; and concludes this Topick by observing, how difficult it is to arrive to this per
fection in History. He then (after having acquainted his Readers that he had appropriated a great Share of his leisure Hours to the Knowledge of History) proceeds to let them see how far he may claim a Right to the Title of a Perfect Historian by this Performance. He first shews of what Weight and Moment his Subject is ; then the almost infuperable Difficulties of coming at Truth or Probability in the German History, the vast Charges he had been at in procuring the Requisites, and the Pains he has taken, and Means made use of, so to trace it, as to be able to ascertain it; and lastly, his Method, Embellishments, and Stile.
In this first Part he gives us the German History
from the ancientest Records of Time, to the Death of Chlodovius : And here (says he) will the Readers find not only the Origine of the German People, but the most diftant Footsteps of their Customs, Manners, and Laws. Here he will see the most early Account of those Exploits which happen'd in Germany, while it was look'd upon by the Romans as an unpolish'd barbarous Country, and of such of their ancient Customs and Constitutions as have been preferved.
He observes, that, in his Opinion, the ancient Roman and German Histories can't be compar'd without Astonishment: To find in the former a mighty Nation arriv'd to the highest Pitch of Power and Renown, a People for whom the greater Part of the then known World trembled: And in the latter to see that powerful Nation by Degrees reduc'd to the Necessity of fubmitting to the Power and Valour of the Germans, (a Nation always despicable in their Sight) to lose those Countries they had subdued by Vio
lence, Stratagem and Oppression, and to leave the greater Part of them in the Possession of the Germans; who again had no other Right to them, than that of being more powerful.
And this, he continues, urg'd him in this first Part, to examine particularly how, and by what means, Germany, notwithstanding the Romans often vaunted that they had entirely brought it under their Yoke, by Degrees enervated, and at laft totally subdu'd that Nation, conquer'd the City of Rome (the very Heart of that huge Roman Body) and finally put an entire End to the Western Empire.
His Index of Authors, confulted in the compiling this Work, is of four Sheets; and in the Preface he says, the Authority of his Quotations is by so much the greater, as he affirms he has spar'd neither Pains nor Charge to collect those Books himself, that he might not be oblig'd to build upon the Faith of others, but be enablid to draw and examine every Thing at its own Source.
He begins this first Part with a general Description of the ancient Germau People, their Habitations, Confines, Manners, and Customs, that he might not too often be oblig'd to break off the Thread of his Relation, and be liable to frequent Repetitions.
But as he found the History of the Germans before the Cimbrian War very perplex’d, imperfect, and in part fabulous, he has thought it unnecessary to say much of those obfcure Times, and rather chofen to begin his Relation with that War ; because from that Time Germany became known to the Romans by their Wars there and because the Records of those Wars furnish'd
him with Matter of greater Certainty, as well as Advantage.
: This first part is divided into three Books, and contains,
I. (1.) The Origine of the Germans.
(2.) A Geographical Description of ancient Germany.
(3.) The Manners and Customs of the Ger
(4.) The Cimbrian War. (5.) Julius Cæsar's Exploits in Gaul and Germany,
(6.) Cefar's Departure out of Gaul, and the Domestick Broils which arose among the Ro
(7.) The Actions of the Emperor Auguftus in Gaul and Germany.
(8.) The Exploits of Drusus and Tiberius under the Reign of Augustus.
(9) The Wars of Tiberius after Driesus's Death.
(10.) The Intent the Romans had of attacking Marabodus, King of the Marcomans. (11.) The l'anosian and Dalmatian Wars.
(12.) The Overthrow of Varus in Germany. Arminius a great Defender of Liberty.
(13.) The Wars which-Drusus and Germanicus wag'd with the Germans in Tiberius's Reign.
(14.) What happen'd in Germany in the latter Years of Tiberius's Reign.
(15.) Under the Reign of Caius Caligula.
Nero. (18.) What happen'd worthy of Remark in Germany, upon the frequent Changes of the Roman Emperors.