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elegance alone, but accidentally found conciseness in our pursuit. But to attain a just elegance order was requisite; it was necessary in so complex a subject to be very careful both of the method and the connexion. This is a point in which all writers of general history have usually vied with their predecessors, every last attempt discovering the defects in the former; and indeed, to do justice, every last attempt seems to have been the best in this respect. Method, in very complex subjects, is one of those attainments which is gained only by the successive application of different talents to the same pursuit: it is mended by repeated effort, and refines as it flows; so that from the times of the first writer of this kind among the moderns that we remember, down to that of the late Universal History, published in fifty-four volumes, the distribution of the parts has gone on improving. It would therefore be the height of injustice not to acknowledge our obligations to those writers last-mentioned, for their assistance in this particular. We have, however, laid hold of every opportunity that offered of improvement, particularly by proscribing such foreign matter as tended to lead the reader away from the principal subject. Uniformity in a work of this kind should be principally attended to : in a subject like this, consisting of heterogeneous parts that are at best feebly held together, we should never render the connexion still more feeble by the insinuation of new materials; or, to express it in a different manner, where there is already danger of embarrassment from multitude, the introduction of foreign members would but necessarily increase the tumult. We hope, therefore, that the reader will here see the revolutions of empires without confusion, and trace arts and laws from one kingdom to another, without losing his interest in the narrative of their other transTo attain these ends with greater certainty of success, we have taken care in some measure to banish that late, and we may add, gothic practice of using a multiplicity of notes; a thing as much unknown to the ancient historians, as it is disgusting in the moderns. Balzac somewhere calls vain erudition the baggage of antiquity: might we in turn be permitted to make an apothegm, we should call notes the baggage of a bad writer. Scarcely any other reason has been assigned for this bad practice, but that if such were inserted into the body of the work, they might impede the rapidity of the narration. It is not easy, however, to conceive in what manner a reader is less interrupted, whose eye is invited down to the note at the bottom of the page, which was certainly placed there in order to be read, than he would be by a proper insertion of the same into the body of the work. Will they persuade us, that an animal will move with less care and swiftness who carries its load upon its back, than if he dragged it along at the tail It certainly argues a defect of method, or a want of perspicuity, when an author is thus obliged to write notes upon his own works; and it may assuredly be said, that whoever undertakes to write a comment upon himself, will for ever remain without a rival his own commentator. We have therefore left off such excrescences, though not to any degree of affectation; as sometimes an acknowledged blemish may be admitted into works of skill, either to cover a greater defect, or to take a nearer course to beauty.
Having mentioned the danger of affectation, it may be proper to observe, that as this, of all defects, is most apt to insinuate itself into such a work, we have therefore been upon our guard against it. From the natural bias which every historian has to some favourite profession or science, he is apt to introduce phrases or topics drawn from thence upon every occasion, and thus not unfrequently tinctures a work otherwise valuable with absurdity. Ménage tells us of a chemist, who, writing a history, used upon every occasion the language of an adept, and brought all his allusions from the laboratory. Polybius, who was a soldier, has been reprehended for taking up too much time in the history of a siege or the description of a battle. Guicciardini, on the other hand, who was a secretary, has been tedious in disserting upon trifling treaties and dull negociations. In like manner, we have known writers, who, being somewhat acquainted with oriental languages, have filled a long history with long Arabic names and uncouth spellings. Were we disposed to the same affectations, it would have been easy enough, through the course of our work, to have written Mohammed for Mahomet, Tatar for Tartar, Wazir for Visier, or Timour for Tamerlane; we might even have outgone, our predecessors, and have written Stamboul for Constantinople, or Ganga for Ganges, with true exotic propriety. But though we have the proper reverence for Arabic, and Malayan also, of which we profess our ignorance, we have thought it expedient to reject such peculiarities. For which reason, when we meet the name of an Arabian general at full length, we make no scruple of abridging his titles, or turning them into English. Thus, for instance, when an Arabian historian and his faithful copyists, in a late Universal History, assure us that Håreth Ebn Talātula led an army into the field, which by the temerity of Al Howaireth Ebn Nohaid Ebn Wahab Ebn Abd Ebn Kosa, was utterly defeated, we thought less ceremony might be used with such an indifferent general, and simply mention Howaireth's folly and his defeat. To be serious; innovation, in a work of this nature, should by no means be attempted ; those names and spellings which have been used in our language from time immemorial, ought to continue unaltered; for, like states, they acquire a sort of jus diuturne possessionis, as the civilians express it, however unjust their original claims might have been. Yet, how far we have reformed these defects of style, without substituting errors of our own, we leave the public to determine; for few writers are judges of themselves in these particulars. With respect to chronology and geography, the one of which fixes actions to time, while the other assigns them to place, we have followed the most approved methods among the moderns. All that was requisite in this was to preserve one system of each invariably, and permit such as chose to adopt the plans of others to rectify our deviations to their own standard. If actions and things are made to preserve their due distances of time and place mutually with respect to each other, it matters little as to the duration of them all with respect to eternity, or their situation with regard to the universe. Thus much—perhaps some will think too much—we have thotight proper to premise concerning a work which, however executed, has cost much labour and great expense. Had we for our judges the unbiassed and judicious alone, few words would have served, or even silence would have been our best address; but when it is considered that we have wrought for the public, that miscellaneous being, at variance within itself from the differing influence of pride, prejudice, or incapacity, a public already sated with attempts of this nature, and in a manner unwilling to find out merit till forced upon its notice, we hope to be pardoned for thus endeavouring to shew where it is presumed we have had a superiority. A History of the World to the present time, at once satisfactory and succinct, calculated rather for use than curiosity, to be read rather than consulted, seeking applause from the reader's feelings, not from his ignorance of learning, or affectation of being thought learned ; a history
that may be purchased at an easy expense, yet that omits nothing material, delivered in a style correct yet familiar, was wanting in our language; and, though sensible of our own insufficiency, this defect we have attempted to supply. Whatever reception the present age or posterity may give this work, we rest satisfied with our own endeavours to deserve a kind one. The completion of our design has for some years taken up all the time which we could spare from other occupations, of less importance indeed to the public, but probably more advantageous to ourselves. We are unwilling therefore to dismiss this subject without observing, that the labour of so great a part of life should at least be examined with candour, and not carelessly confounded in that multiplicity of daily publications which, being conceived without effort, are produced without praise, and sink without censure.
Were he who now particularly entreats the reader's candid examination to mention the part he has had in this work himself, he is well convinced, and that without any affected modesty, that such a discovery would only shew the superiority of his associates in this undertaking : but it is not from his friendship or his praise, but from their former labours in the learned world, that they are to expect their reward. Whatever be the fate of this History, their reputation is in no danger, but will still continue rising; for they have found by its gradual increase already, that the approbation of folly is loud and transient; that of wisdom still but lasting.