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fairly, and that he has generally put the facts in the right place and given to them their true meaning. Our present knowledge of geography and of Roman institutions enables us to avoid some of Freinsheim's errors; but his work is still useful, and it has been used by some writers with little acknowledgment. At the head of each of my chapters in the Table of Contents I have placed the title of the books of the Supplement which treat of the matter contained in each chapter.
Thus I have followed the order of Livy's narrative, but I have not followed the Supplement so far as to place all the events of each year under one year in the Annalistic fashion. Such a mode of writing history, while it maintains a strict chronological order, necessarily separates facts which cannot be separated without destroying that continuity which gives to events their full significance. Thus the war with Viriathus and the slave-rising in Sicily must be written and read as a continuous narrative; and the tribunates of the Gracchi must be treated the same way.
There are various fashions of writing antient history. A man may take a certain period for his study, diligently examine all the authorities and reflect on the matter long enough to see, or to think that he sees, the connexion of all the parts of his subject. If he is a man of ability, he may please and instruct his readers by brilliant sketches, broad generalizations, and profound political remarks. He may produce something which at the present day would be called a philosophical history, whatever may be meant by that much abused name. But there is great danger in treating history this way, even when a man of ability undertakes it. Love of system, desire of display, and the uncontrollable impulse to establish opinions, which in some way fix themselves in most men's minds before the evidence on which they should be founded, will often lead astray even the ablest and the most honest. It is a good ground of complaint also against such histories, that the facts are often very imperfectly stated and frequently are rather alluded to than plainly told; and consequently, though the reading of such books may be very instructive to those who have a competent
knowledge of antient history, they are of little use to those who know nothing about it, and wish to learn. When this kind of philosophical history is attempted by men of small talent and great pretensions, the result is a mixture of false facts and silly declamation. Modern history has felt the influence of the modern school of fiction, and history assumes the character of the historical novel.
There is another way of writing history, more laborious to the writer and less attractive to those readers who dislike the trouble of thinking, and look for amusement more than for truth; for there are such readers and writers too. Thucydides says, that most men are impatient of labour in the search of truth, and embrace soonest the things that are next to hand. The writer, who follows this less ambitious course, must patiently examine facts and attempt to put them in their proper place: the reader, if he would know the facts and what they mean, must follow the narrative and share the toil by reading carefully what the historian has written with pains. To study a history well is a work of labour. Those who expect to know something of Roman history by reading fine dissertations, glowing descriptions and eloquent delineations of character and manners, will only be deceived into believing that they know what they do not know. If a man will write Roman history and tell others what he has learned of it, he must not spare his own labour, and he will demand the attention of his reader. It will not be enough for the writer to follow modern historians, whatever their merit may be. If he does not feel strong enough to handle the original authorities, he had better not touch the thing at all. In studying the antient authorities he will not however neglect the assistance that may be got from many excellent critics who have laboured to expound the constitution of Rome, the growth of Roman law, the military system, and every thing that may help to explain the external and internal history of a State, out of which the present social condition of western Europe has come. The complete examination of the immense mass of materials produced by modern industry is indeed more than one man could accomplish in a lifetime; and we are yet far from the day when the results of modern inquiry
can be considered so far certain that a useful history of Rome can be put in a few volumes. When this day shall come, some man will be ready to do the work. In the mean time we may labour, each as he best can, to prepare the way for that which we cannot do ourselves.
Roman history will instruct a careful reader, if he will be content to follow a writer who has done his best to establish the facts and to put them in their proper order without any unnecessary words. If the narrative is sometimes tedious, it must be remembered that truth cannot be reached without labour, and that if we would discipline our minds and improve our judgment in human affairs, we must learn the facts on which our understanding is to be exercised. For the purpose of history being to teach men political wisdom, it follows that this can only be done by observing the course of past events and seeing what things go before and what follow after. Hobbes, in his address to his readers, prefixed to his translation of Thucydides, says that in him the faculty of writing history was at the highest; and he adds: "It is true that there be many excellent and profitable Histories written since, and in some of them there be inserted very wise discourses both of manners and policy; but being discourses inserted, and not of the contexture of the narration, they indeed commend the knowledge of the writer, but not the history itself, the nature whereof is merely narrative. In others there be subtle conjectures at the secret aims and inward cogitations of such as fall under their pen, which is also none of the least virtues in a history, where the conjecture is throughly grounded, not forced to serve the purpose of the writer in adorning his style or manifesting his subtlety in conjecturing. But these conjectures cannot often be certain, unless withall so evident that the narration itself may be sufficient to suggest the same also to the reader. But Thucydides is one who though he never digress to read a lecture, moral or political, upon his own text, nor enter into men's hearts further than the actions themselves evidently guide him, is yet accounted the most politic historiographer that ever writ. The reason whereof I take to be this: he filleth his narrations with that choice of matter and ordereth
them with that judgment, and with such perspicuity and efficacy expresseth himself, that, as Plutarch saith, he maketh his auditor a spectator. For he setteth his reader in the assemblies of the people, and in the Senates at their debating, in the streets at their seditions, and in the field at their battles. So that look how much a man of understanding might have added to his experience, if he had then lived a beholder of their proceedings and familiar with the men and business of the time, so much almost may he profit now by attentive reading of the same here written. He may from the narrations draw out lessons to himself, and of himself be able to trace the drifts and counsels of the actors to their seat."
A modern writer on antient history cannot write exactly as Thucydides has written, even if he has the talent of the Athenian. If a man would now write the history of the Peloponnesian war, he must explain many things which a contemporary of Thucydides would understand without explanation; and there will be occasions for some discussion when he examines the credibility of the original narrative or the historian's judgment and impartiality. But such dissertations, if they are not kept within limits by the writer's good sense, may become impertinent digressions, which, as Hobbes says, may be "forced to serve the purpose of the writer in adorning his style or manifesting his subtlety in conjecturing."
I have written what may be called a dissertation on the Agrarian Laws, a matter so inseparably connected with the history of parties at Rome that Roman history cannot be understood unless we form a just notion of these Agrarian disputes. I have also written a short chapter to explain the names of the two political factions which originated about the time of the Gracchi, and the meaning of these party designations. If I have any where digressed in order to explain what most readers would not understand without some assistance, I have done it unwillingly; for however carefully a man may have considered his subject, he can hardly fail to make some mistakes, and he must know, or he ought to know that his opinions and his judgment may be
wrong, even if his intentions are fair and honest. If it had been possible I should rather have kept myself to the simple narrative of events, and have left them to convey their meaning to the reader; but any man who attempts to write antient history will find that he must do something more than simply put facts in order and state them clearly. He must say something occasionally on the value of the evidence for that which he writes, even if it is only to prevent critics sharper than wise from charging him with credulity and want of critical skill. He must also occasionally aid the reader to apprehend the full meaning of facts and events by remarks, which to some men will be superfluous talk, but to others necessary help. Thus he will be unavoidably led from the straight course; he will digress, and like all who do so, he will sometimes deviate from the right path further than he ought.
As this history begins with the time of the decline of the Republic, it is assumed that the reader knows in some way the history of the previous period, and any recapitulation of it would be out of place. It is true that as the occasions arise for speaking of Roman institutions, I have sometimes reminded the reader of their origin and of the practice of previous times, but this has only been done when it seemed necessary for the understanding of my story.
A history and a commentary, or discourses on history, are different things, and both of them useful when they are well done. Machiavelli wrote a commentary on a part of Roman history in his Discourses on Livy, and he also wrote a treatise on the art of war, which he has illustrated chiefly from the practice of the Romans. In the Prince he has given his opinions on what he calls mixed principalities, and he shows how a prince must act if he would secure himself in new acquisitions. These three works were written in retirement, and they are the result of the author's long experience of public affairs and his study of history. The direct object of the Prince was to recommend Machiavelli to the Medici; and to prove that in the course of his busy life he had learned something which it was useful for them to know. His remoter object was to teach the Italian princes a better policy,