Immagini della pagina

1885, Jan. 21

Gift of

The Betre of a, a, Helton.

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1838,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



The object of the Publishers, in having the present work prepared, was to afford to the student a correct, yet cheap edition of Sallust.

The text, of which this is a reprint, was prepared by F. D. Gerlach, P.D., Professor of Latin Literature in the University of Bâsle a ripe and able scholar, who has devoted many years to the study of Sallust, and the completion of a good edition. His text is considered by Dr. Beck, Professor of Latin in Harvard University, who very kindly supplied the Editor with a copy, as the best extant, an opinion in which, there is very little doubt, most school-boys will most heartily concur, as, for many reasons, this text is easier to construe than

any before published in this country. So much for the text: a few words now for the notes. The objection is very commonly made to notes on the classics, that they give the most satisfactory explanation of words and sentences, which the student would have understood just as well without any notes at all; while they preserve a most oracular silence about those places which are really difficult to comprehend; and nothing can be more provoking to a school-master than such notes as these.

There is, undoubtedly, much foundation for such objections, in many editions of the classics. It is very easy for an editor to wink out of sight a difficult passage, while an easy one affords him a grand opportunity to display his learning; much like the singers in our churches, whose voices are very faint when they have any complicated music to sing; but when a plain cadence occurs, they shout out with all their strength.

Editors, however, are not wholly in fault. Minds are so different, that a passage, which is unintelligible to one, will be comprehended at a glance by another; nay, even the same individual may be completely puzzled at one time, and yet, if he recurs to the phrase the next day, the whole meaning will flash upon him at once, and he wonders that he was so dull before. Besides this, it may be added that nothing is more ingenious than stupidity. Experience alone could convince one of the vast amount and variety of blunders which a dull student is capable of making, and of the number of Greek and Latin bugbears which start up in his path; and no human foresight can predict when and where they will occur. Hence editors are sometimes blamed for neglecting to interpret passages which none but Dulness herself could help understanding.

In making notes for the present edition, the Editor has omitted all such information as could be easily obtained from the Classical Dictionary, and Geography, and Adam's Roman Antiquities. His object has been, first, to explain the most difficult passages in the text, or to offer what seemed the best interpretation where commentators disagree; and, besides this, to give a good English translation of expressions, which, perhaps, may be very intelligible, but which, from the peculiarity of their idiom, may be difficult to render in our language. Finally, he has endeavored to point out the most remarkable literary merits of the Latin historian.

The whole has been condensed in such a manner as to fulfil the purpose of the Publishers of offering to the student a cheap edition. This object will at least be accomplished; and the Editor hopes that many may thereby be induced to peruse the works of one of the most attractive of the ancient writers.

Boston, September 30, 1838.


HISTORICAL compositions may be divided into two distinct classes - records of events by eye-witnesses, or by those who conversed with eye-witnesses; and accounts written at a period when all who were contemporaneous with the circumstances Darrated have ceased to live.

Each of these classes has its peculiar merits and defects. The former class is more likely than the latter to be stamped with the private feelings and prejudices of the writer. He lived in the midst of the events he commemorates; perhaps had a share in promoting them; and was swayed by feelings of friendship of enmity in detailing the exploits, or painting the characters, of the most important actors. If the circumstances which he records were of an exciting kind; if they involved questions of a political nature ; if they arrayed on opposite sides the interests and passions of men; if they brought about the triumph of one party, and the ruin of another; if they were such as to affect the welfare, happiness, and life of the greater portion of a community, - it can hardly be supposed that they are described with entire impartiality by one why shared in the excitement, whose passions were roused, and whose fortunes were pledged in support of one side or the other.

Still we shall find that, in this class of history, events are described with a vividness and accuracy, and, at the same time, with a degree of ease and freedom, which could only be found in one who witnessed them. The narration becomes, in the hands of such a writer, almost dramatic; the scenes seem to be presented visibly before us, and to assume a reality and distinctness as if they were acted out. Characters are strongly marked, and yet possess a complete individuality, and an accordance with nature, which make us immediately recognize them as real, living men. Numerous circumstances are mentioned with which none but a contemporary historian could have been acquainted; but which, though perhaps of small consequence in themselves, still tend to increase the impression of truth and reality which we receive from the details.

The confidence to be placed in this kind of history must be measured by the individual character of the author. Does he appear to have been influenced by party feeling, passion, or preju. dice ? Has his work, generally, the air of candor, sincerity, and the wish to do justice to all? Does the love of truth pervade his writings? Does the account he gives, agree, in the main, with the most approved histories by contemporary writers ? Such are the questions to be asked respecting his work; and according to the answers we must form our opinion of its merits.

The second class of historical compositions is less likely to be tinctured with prejudice or passion. The writer lives at a time when all that violence of feeling which was roused by the events, has died away, and the actions of men are viewed in a true light; their motives justly appreciated, their capacities rated as they deserve, and their whole character stamped by the opinion of posterity. A variety of authors, both those who lived during the times they commemorate, and those who were subsequent to them, yet before his day, are open to him; and he is able to compare, verify, contrast, and select. His history is a more philosophical work than the narrative of an author's own times. The very character of such a work requires that it should be more elaborate, more studied, and more learned. The writer has a better opportunity to preserve the just perspective of history ; he knows exactly what occurrences are to be placed in the foreground, and in a strong light, and what, from their comparative insignificance, must be kept out of sight, or only placed in the dim distance : he is able to manage the gradual and delicate shading of his picture so that the whole shall produce a single and decided effect, not so much by the minuteness of the detail, as by the combination, blending, and harmony of the entire piece. The philosophy of history, the art of representing past events with due reference to their importance, to their bearing upon each other, and to their influence upon the future; the power of giving to one age a correct impression with regard to the men, manners, and events of a former age,

— can be best studied in such histories as these.

The degree of faith to be placed in this second class of histori. cal writings is to be decided not merely by the character of the

« IndietroContinua »