« AnteriorContinuar »
sagacity, but also capacity and a comprehensive mammer of viewing things; for on all occasions it will ascend from effects to causes, to the moving springs or agents, and descend again from these productive causes to their effects or results. At the same time that we are giving precision, rectitude, comprehensireness, and vigour, to the understanding, and inuring it to habits of observation and meditation, we shall gain the triple advantage of cultivating and adorning the memory, of exciting and embellishing the imagination, and of forming the style: for it will be our business to commit to writing, in tables, for which we shall presently furnish a model, an analytical summary of the facts which we may have remarked, and which belong to the particular subject of our inquiry.
Subjoined are some of the principal points which it seems useful to consider in history, in voyages and travels, and in philosophical, moral, and political works, together with a statement of the method, which will be sufficient to enable every one to adopt a great number of others, according to his inclination, occasions, and capacity; for it must not be forgotten that the direction to be given to the study of history ought to be infinitely varied, according to the particular situations of individuals, the objects they have in view, and the kind of information they wish to derive from it; and that it is of the highest importance to attend continually to results.
1. EDUCATION; or, the Art of forming Men.
Those who would study history, and the lives of illustrious men, with a particular reference to this subject, ought to collect and class by centuries and nations, the laws, customs, methods, observations, and facts relative to education, public or private, in the different ages and countries of the world.
2. Politics; or, (according to Aristotle's admirable Definition)
the Art of rendering Men happy. If we search history for the means of thoroughly studying politics, we should collect and arrange in the mode and order already mentioned the facts, observations, laws, customs, and manners, which seem to have concurred in the aim that politics ought to keep in view, and which may furnish elements and results of prosperity. It is necessary to convey a clear and accurate idea of the different modes of administration, of the nature and conduct of different governments compared with one another, and of the salutary or baneful influence which they have exercised.
3. SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT; or, Social Progressions. A third important consideration, which is connected with politics, and which likewise embraces the arts and sciences, and the whole of the social economy, will have for its object to examine and exhibit, century by century, the general state of the arts and sciences, the progressive, stationary, or retrograde course of society in the different parts of the globe, and the principal, general or particular, causes which appear to have produced these variations. We should more especially strive to make ourselves intimately acquainted with the connection between these causes and their effects, and to display it to demonstration ; then to form for our instruction an accurate thermometer or scale of the different degrees of the political, moral, and intellectual temperature, of the prosperity, stagnation, or advancement, of every age and every nation of the world.
4. OBSTACLES TO PUBLIC PROSPERITY.
As the division of labour among many individuals, who share the different professions among them, allows each more completely to explore and to improve the field to which he has devoted his especial attention; so the judicious distribu
tion of the different considerations which history may furnish among those who wish to study it with profit, or the successive examination by one person of these considerations taken separately, enables a good understanding to penetrate deeper into the particular object of its inquiries, and to discover in it things which it must have overlooked, had it attempted to embrace too many subjects of observation at once, instead of directing and confining, at least for a time, all its energies to a single point.
It will not therefore be amiss, after selecting from history, and bringing together the different facts relative to education, politics, and social advancement, to seek out and separately inves, tigate the obstacles to prosperity.
With this view we should strive by patient and close observation to discover the causes which have retarded public prosperity and civilisation among different nations and in different ages. These causes we should then class in epochs, and state with precision and fidelity the principal facts relative to this branch of inquiry, and the proofs of the pernicious effects which have evidently resulted from the causes specified.
5. GREAT MEN COMPARED TOGETHER.
The influence of men of genius, who, by a noble employment of their faculties, devoted to the happiness of their species, elevate themselves to the rank of great men, is one of the most pow. erful causes of public prosperity. It would therefore be both interesting and instructive to form a chronological gallery, with characteristic notices of the illustrious persons who succeed one another in the varied pictures of history, by centuries, nations, and classes, according to the different walks in which they distinguished themselves. We should endeavour to delineate their portraits with impartial fidelity, to state their claims to fame or to the esteem of posterity, the points of resemblance that may exist between them, the nature and degree of the influence which they possesssed over their age, their art, or the profession which they embraced, and over their country
6. INFLUENCE OF WOMEN considered among all Nations and in
The private or public, and moral and political influence of women, considered among the different nations, and in all ages of the world,