Obrazy na stronie

he compos'd for the sake of getting Money, and they were written according as he was paid. Guicciardin is in a Passion against France. Sandoval would make Charles V pass for a most catholick Prince, while he supported the Protestants in Germany, upon a Quarrel with Paul IH. Cabrera extols the Piety of Pbilip II, who espous’d the Cause of Queen Elizabeth against Mary Stuart, only because the latter was a Friend and Ally of of France; and thus contri. buted to the Overthrow of his own Religion in England. Herrera is a mere Braggadocio; and represents every Thing in favour of his Country. In a Word, there are scarce any to be found in the Number of Historians, without their peculiar Inclinations and Aversions: they cannot divest themselves of personal Regards; and thus, according as they are dispos’d in their own Temper, or bespoken by others, they turn History into a Satyr or a Panegyrick. We seldom meet with any of so strict a Character as Thucydides; who by the Force of his difinte. rested Sincerity, commends Pericles throughout, from whom he had suffer'd fo ill Treatment; and is always just to the Athenians, tho' by them fentenced to a Banishment, under which he died: He is a Man without Passion, that proposes the Judgment of Posterity as the only Aim of his work; and has no Tie, no Engage. ment but to the Truth: And here he has shewn himself an honest Man beyond all of his Profellion ; because he is always an honest Man. Livy feems more favourable to Pompey than to

Cafár; Dion Caffius to Cæfar than to Pompey. Ger Pleraque manicus is the darling Hero with Tacitus: Whom ignave yet Paterculus, fo full of Candour to others, seems Germani, to have lessen'd ; probably, that he might do the CWS. LII.

more Honour to Tiberius. Ammianus Marcelli

nus is a constant Adorer of Julian the Apostate, and as constant a Declaimer against Valentinian, his Successor, because a Christian. Eusebius fhews us only the bright fide of Constantine; Zozimus only the Dark. Procopius makes an Idol of Belisarius ; Eginart of Charlemagne ; Sandoval of Charles V ; Strada of Alexander Farnese. In short every Historian has his Hero, whom he looks upon as a Creature of his own making, and dresses him as fine as he can, that he may be the more gaz'd upon and admir'd. This is what brings a Suspicion upon most Histories, because their Authors are commonly interested in the Subje&t, and so not at Liberty to be fincere. Those who are above the Corruptions of Interest, are carried blindly away with the Love of Praise, and the nice Care of their Reputation betrays them into the other Extrenie. Josephus, Fosephus in his History of the Jews, sometimes suppreffes non tam true Miracles, in which he thought the Heathens Studebar might be difficult of Belief; and introduces Fi

vera seria tions which he conceiv'd to be more agreeable to credibilia; their Taste and Capacity; that by this means he bæc caufa might gain upon their Credit; this was the way fuit, cur rather to destroy, than to establish his Religion. præterieThings must be told as they are, in spight of rit mira

cula, quod the Incredulous ; for there can be no greater apud infia Dishonesty in a Man that prêtends to Instruct deles fidem the Publick in the Truth, than to profane it non erant by such sordid Mixture. Nothing Base or Ser- babitura, vile, nothing Loose or Immodest, should ap- vit fabuproach an Historian's Thought; one Slip in this las quas Respect may ruin the Opinion of his Vertue. putavit iis But tho' I am far from approving the Art of magis pra

babiles fun Flattering great Men, (as Eusebius has extold Constantine in all regards, who had certainly more Leo. CNq than common Failings,) yet I think they ought ftal. to be favour'd on some Occasions. For as we are

bere quam


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oblig'd to say nothing but the Truth, so we are not oblig'd to say all Truths. Quintus Currius might have been excused from giving us the Recital of Alexander's Debauches. There are some privileg'd Heads, to which we are always to pay Deference; we are to use them tenderly and respectfully, and never to insult their Character; we may speak of their personal Vices, but we must not violate their high Dignity, nor break in upon the Veneration we owe to their Greatness. Tacitus has raķed together so much Filth of Tiberius, that Boccalin might well complain of the Nuisance. ' Lampridius's Accounts of Heliogabalus and Caracalla, have rendred his History contemptible; nor has Platina shewn overmuch Judgment in treating the Popes with so little Ceremony. All Men will not be of my Opinion in this Matter ; but perhaps wife Men will : And I am fully persuaded, that tho? there is a great and just Merit in being sincere, yet Sincerity it self may, by Misapplication, become ridiculous. On the other Hand, since 'tiş next to impollible to praise well ; because 'tis so difficult to perform this Office with true Delicacy, and to lay the Colours in the right place, and because the World is commonly out of Humour with Panegyrick, and feldom youchsafes it a kind Acceptance, it seems to be a Rule of good Sense, never to commend Persons otherwife than by a faithful Report of their good and commendable Actions. 'Tis a known AdvenCure, that of Ariftobulus, one of Alexander's Captains, who as they were sailing upon the River Hydaspes, propos’d to entertain his Prince with reading to him his newly compos'd History of the Defeat of Porus. Alexander, impatient offo many gross Flatteries, snatch'd the Book out of his Hands, and threw it into the Water; witha giving the Author to understand that he well de


serv'd to bear it Company, for having the Impudence to build his Master's Praise upon false Exploits, and so to argue a Deficiency of True.

These are the Morals that I should recommend to an Historian, for whom I should be concern'd as a Friend: At least, these should be my own Principles, if I took a Fancy to writing History, and had a Genius equal to such an Attempt. I would endeavour to preserve such a Modesty in my Sentiments, as never to seem overpleas'd with my self, or my performance: For who can bear the Extravagance of the Author mention'd by Photius, who addressing himself to write the History of Alexander the Great, promises that his Stile shall be as great and magnificent as the Name and Atchievements of his Heroe? After all, a sensible Man will, perhaps be discourag’d from engaging in this Field, if he does but read the Judgment of Dionysius Halicarnasseus upon Thucydides : There's no Author, of whatsoever Talents or Capacity, but would tremble under the Severity of such a Critick.

This is the Sum of those Reflections that have occard to me, in Reading the Historians. I am not so vain, as to impose them for Laws: they are the Thoughts of a private Man, which may happen to be good, if imploy'd to a good Use. I shall conclude with giving some few Strokes towards the Character of the most eminent Authors in History

XXVIII. Herodotus is the First that has digested History Dulcis, into a rational Form; and he has the Honour candidus, to have beaten the Way for all that came after fufus, Hchim. His Stile is Purity and Elegance it felf. Quint. Athen&us admires, with great Justice, the Charms of his Discourse. His Subject is great and vast, as comprehending whole Nations, Kingdoms, Z 4


and Empires, the Affairs of Europe and of Asia.
He is not very exa& in what he relates; because
indeed he has taken in too wide a Field of Mat.
ter ; but he seems to me to be sincere beyond the
ordinary Pitch, as treating the Greeks, and Bar.
barians, his Countrymen, and Strangers, with-
out any Mark of Partiality. I think, Plutarch
has usd him very hardly, in suggesting, that
most of his Conjectures proceeded from ill De-
signs. Indeed, the Prejudice and Animosity was
of Plutarch's side ; who resented the disparaging
Character that this great Author had given of la

his Country Beotia. Thucydides is accurate in his Laudetur ab omni- way of writing, faithful in his reports of things, bus ut re. fincere and disinterested. His Stile is Noble and Tum expli. Majestick : He is Severe, but with such a Seve. B cator fin- rity as does not intrench upon his Grandour. His cerus 5 gravis.

Subject is manifestly less considerable, and less Hujus ne

extensive than that of Herodotus ; yet when Diomo neque nyfius Halicarnaffeus prefers Herodotus to Thucydiverborum des, I take him

to be partial to the former, for neque fen- the sake of their common Birth-place; the latter gravit..." being in my Judgment, the most accomplish'd tem imi- Historian of Greece. But nothing can give us a

more rais’d Idea of Thucydides's Worth, than Cic, de

what we are inform’d of by Lucian; that Deopt. Or. mosi benes attain’d his Art of Oratory by studying

this History, which he had transcrib'd no less than Eight times with his own Hand. Xenophon has a Purity of Language, a natural and agreeable Composition, a rich and easie Vein, full of admirable Sense, a clean Imagination, and a curious turn of wit: But not much Greatness, or Elevation. Nor does he always observe the Decorum of Manners, but makes ignorant Men and Barbarians talk like Philosophers. Cicero acquaints us, that the great Scipio would never let this Author go out of his Hands. Longinus fays, the true




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