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illustration of Quintilian, resemble the stream that · is carried through a channel formed by art for its
course, but rather let him imitate the bold river which overflows a whole valley, and where it does not find, can force a passage by its own natural impetuosity and strength.
CURIOSITY is one of the strongest and most active principles of human nature. Throughout the fucceffive stages of life, it seeks with avidity for those gratifications, which are congenial with the different faculties of the mind. The child, as foon as the imagination begins to open, eagerly lisiens to the tales of his nurse : the youth, at a time of life, when the love of what is new and uncommon is quickened by sensibility, is enchanted by the magic of Romances and Novels; the man, whose mature judgment inclines him to the pursuit of truth, applies to genuine History, which even in old age continues to be a favourite object of his attention; since his desire to be acquainted with the tranfactions of others has nearly an equal power over his mind, with the propensity to relate what has happened to himself.
· The love of fame, and a desire to communicate information, have influenced men in almost every age and every nation, to leave behind them some memorials of their existence, actions, and discoveries.
Thus has the curiosity of mankind secured, by me· thods at first very rude and incomplete, and in
succeeding times by records more improved and satisfactory, its favourite enjoyments,
· The method of conveying to posterity an account of important facts, was in the earliest ages of the world very vague and uncertain. The most obvious and easy mode was first resorted to. When Joshua led the twelve tribes of Israel over the river Jordan, in a iniraculous manner, he fet up twelve stones for a memorial ; but it was necessary for tradition to explain the circumstances which gave rise to it. Joshua Spake unto the children of Israel, saying, when your children shall, ask their fathers, in time to come, what mean these stones ? Then yo Jhall let your children know, saying, Ifrael came over this Jordan on dry, land. Songs were the only records among the ancient Germans; and their war-fong, when rufhing to battle, recalled to mind the exploits of some departed hero. Poets who fung to the harp the praises of deceased warriors at the tables of kings, are mentioned by Homer: the Scandinavians, Gauls, and Germans, had their bards, and the favages of America preserved fimilar records of the past in the wild poetry
! Joshua, c. iv. v. 21.
of their country. To supply the defects of such oral tradition as this, founders of states, and leaders of colonies, gave their own names to cities and kingdoms. Devices were fixed upon fhields and banners, and national festivals and games were established to commemorate extraordinary events. From such imperfect attempts to rescue the past from the ravages of time and oblivion, the progress to infcriptions of various kinds was made foon after the invention of letters. The Babylonians recorded their first astronorpical observations upon bricks; and the most antient monuments of Chinese literature, were inscribed upon large tables of very hard stone. The names of magistrates, and the recital of the most remarkable events, which happened during their transaction of public bufiness, were preserved. Two very curious monuments of this kind are still extant, the names of the confuls registered upon the Capitoline marbles at Rome; and the Arundelian marbles, upon which are infcribed in Greek capital letters, fome records of the early history of Greece, from the time of Cecrops down to the age of Alexander the Great. They were brought from the Island of Paros, and are now preserved in the University of Oxford. Such was the commencement of annals, and of a regular series of chronology. In lucceeding tiines, when nations became more civilized, and the various branches of literature were cultivated, private persons employed themselves in recording the actions of their contemporaries, or their ancestors, and history by degrees assumed its proper form and
character. It was at first like painting the rude outline of an unskilful designer ; but after repeated essays, the great masters of the art arose, and produced the harmonious light and shade, the glowing colours and animated groups of a perfect picture.
With a particular view to the works of eminent historians, both ancient and modern, it may be useful to consider,
I. The Divisons of History, and the afhstance which it derives from other studies.
II. The Advantages of a knowledge of History.
III. The comparative merits of ancient and modern Historians.
IV. The Qualifications requisite to form an accomplished Hittorian, in order to establish a standard, by which to measure the merits of Historians in general.
I. History, in the general sense of the word, sige nifies a true relation of facts and events; or, confidered in a moral point of view, it is that lively philosophy, which, laying aside the formality of rules, supplies the place of experience, and teaches us to act with propriety and honour according to the examples of others. The province of history is so extensive, that it is connected with every branch of knowledge; and fo various and abundant are its stores, that all arts, sciences, and professions are indebted to it for many of the materials and prin