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and unavoidable consequence of the circumstances in which they are engaged. And it is truly wonderful to observe, how historians of every age have contributed to this delusion by the unjust applauses, which they have bestowed upon certain characters and actions. The heroes of their pens have in general been the great destroyers of mankind ; those who have ravaged kingdoms, overthrown empires, and thinned the human race. Men have been deified and sainted, not for the goodness, but for the greatness, of their exploits; not for their endeavours to civilize and improve the state of mankind by the introduction of mild and equitable laws, and the cultivation of the arts of peace; but for an inordinate and selfish spirit of ambition and aggrandizement. The reign of just and peaceful sovereigns, which, like the tranquil seasons of nature, impart health and life and cheerfulness to every thing around, has been regarded as but an inferior and secondary object of their attention, valued perhaps most, as it renovates


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the energies of a nation, and fits it for the ambitious views of a military successor. No! it is the mighty troublers of the Earth, the hurricanes of proud war and conquest, which deform the fair face of Nature, which in their wasteful progress sweep whole nations grave,

that have been too much the theme of historic applause and admiration. When we behold the title of Great conferred on such men as Alexander, Cæsar, Lewis the Fourteenth, or even Peter of Muscovy, every moral and humane mind must reprobate the profanation of the attributę, and lament the folly of the world, which can join in the applause of what it ought severely to condemn, and dignify what merits its abhorrence and execration. But the common vulgar of mankind too easily adopt the very prejudices which are their ruin, and, caught with the whistling of a name, fall down before and worship the very beast that is to devour them. Thus, by the false colours in which such characters are exhibited, the moral judgment and the moral taste of many a


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reader are most deplorably perverted. If romances and novels have erred in raising the notion of human virtue above its level, history has more dangerously erred in the low appreciation of the human character, and as, sociating it with

. From the heroes of antiquity have sprung the race of the wasteful conquerors of nations, the disturbers of the peace of man. Achilles begat Alexander and his turbulent successors; Alexander begat Julius Cæsar, with the long and horrid series of Roman emperors ; and the bewitchery of Cæsar's character will never cease to propagate the lust of overbearing dominion, without one end in view, but the mere fame of extended empire and despotic sway. To this we have owed the embryo attempt of Charles V of Austria, and of Lewis XIV of France; and at this moment owe, more perhaps than to any other

present troubler of the world. An ample career of solid glory lay before him; but the ghost of Cæsar and the dream of more than Roman empire appear

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to haunt his sleeping and his waking hours; they have turned him from all honourable course, nor will suffer him to pause, until, to serve some wise ends of an avenging Providence, he be permitted for a while to spread desolation around; or fall at once, himself and his deluded country, a mighty ruin, a just but an inadequate atonement to an of fended and harassed world.

Such is the aggregate of immoral impression, to which history, as it has hitherto , been conducted, does conduce. I am aware of the high repute which history has obtained in every age and nation, and that I have a general and even a liberal prejudice to resist. History has been considered as among the sublime productions of human genius. As a work of genius I have not árraigned her; I can even with Cicero allow her to be a Magistra Morum, of manners certainly, and of moral in some degree; and I have so allowed her, but only to a select few ; while to the many I contend that she is a dangerous and immoral instructor;

in which, perhaps, Cicero would in part have agreed with me, if he had taken the many into his contemplation. But we should in many respects have differed; our morals, our politics, our religion, would not altogether have harmonized, and Cicero would have lightly estimated many of those evil tendencies of history, to which I have assigned the highest importance. History has powerful attractions, and I feel them equally with her warmest friend; nor have I lightly and inconsiderately charged her; nor as an advocate, who, having adopted a cause, no matter what or why, thinks that he must conjure up every thing that is plausible in favour of his cause, and urge every thing that is possible to the prejudice of the cause which he opposes. What I have written, I have honestly written. Difference of opinion is to be expected. But as truth, not disputation, is the first object of this society, let him who differs review the charges seriatim.. The charges are orderly arranged, they are not mingled in one confused mass,


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