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when he reflects on the characters of Xenophon and Epaminondas, and would wish, in some measure, to share in their glory. These are a few of the advantages arising from the study of liistory; and this, I hope, may serve as an answer to your first query. I shall consider the other two in the next, and am,
Your sincere friend.
From the same.
question, namely, Whether we should begin the study of history by reading the sacred oracles, or the records of our own country? I answer, that it is one thing to read history, another to study it. It is well known that we are made acquainted with the contents of our Bible, before we are able to judge for ourselves. It is one of the first books put into our hands; and indeed all that is authentic in sacred history is to be met with in that book. I shall not hesitate one moment in declaring that you ought to begin the study of history with that of your own country. How foolish must that gentleman appear, who, having made the tour of Europe, and acquired a perfect knowledge of the laws and constitutions of foreign nations, returns home ignorant of his own! It is like one who is master of all knowledge, but, at the same time, ignorant of himself. On a subject of so much importance I intend to be as explicit as possible ; and whilst I am recommending the history of your own country, I shall lay down the same plan which I followed when engaged in that delightful study; and not only that, but even history in general. Britain will make a very distinguished figure in the annals of time, as long as human literature is cultivated in the world. There is not one
action of the Greeks and Romans that remains unequalled in Britain ; and whilst we admire the disinterestedness of Themistocles, the humanity of Epaminondas, the wisdom of Numa Pompilius, and the valour of Cæsar, we find them all equalled in Caractacus, Alfred, Talbut, and Marīborough, besides thousands more. There is not an art or science which was known to the ancients that has not been carried to its highest perfection in England ; and the laws, those sacred securities of lives and properties, are a thousand times superior to any system ever devised by the Greeks or Romans.
The history of Britain is naturally divided into the following parts :
1. Its state at the arrival of Julius Cæsar, and the different improvements made here whilst we were subject to the Romans. In this period we are to be solely directed by the classic authors, as the most ancient British writer is Gildas, who lived at the time the Romans left this island. Here we cannot help reflecting on the havoc made by time of ancient monuments. Without doubt there were many valuable writers in Britain during that period, but they have been long irrecoverably lost.
2. Under the Saxons, until the arrival of William the Norman. This is a very important period, as the fundamental principles of our constitution were then first formed, which, to use the words of a noble author, “is the glory of this, and the envy of all other European nations.”. We are happy in a variety of writers during this period : even the great Alfred himself was one ; but they may all be summed up in the Saxon Chronicle.
3. From the Norman conquest till the first union of both kingdoms under James J. Here we find the constitution underwent a variety of changes.
There was a continual struggle betwixt tyranny on the one hand, and a predominant love of liberty on the other. Many of our princes endeavoured to trample on those laws by which their conduct was bounded ; but their designs were hap. pily frustrated, and they generally perished in the attempt. In this period we find popery raised to its utmost height, and by a wonderful interposition of Divine Providence the whole fabric is thrown down, and Christianity restored to its primitive purity. The darkness which had so long overspread the human mind, was gradually dispelled by the invention of printing, and the arts and sciences brought to a perfection unknown to the ancients.
4. From the accession of James I. to the present time. The nearer we approach to the times wherein we live, history becomes so much the more important. In the study of ancient history we often wander in the dark, without even moon-light to guide us ; we are bewildered in uncertainty, and scarce know how to form rational conjectures ; but as we approach near our own times, light breaks in upon us, and we see things in their genuine colours ; such is the present period I am now writing of. It is full of great* events, and ought to be well attended to by every one who would desire to make a proper use of history, yea, by every freeborn subject in Britain. In this period we find the same struggle of liberty, in opposition to the designs of weak infatuated princes. One king is brought to the scaffold by his own subjects, another is driven from the seat of sovereignty, and forced to seek refuge in another nation.
Far greater yet to come, than even these
There is somethiug very remarkable in the care which Providence has always had of British liberty. The neighbouring nations around us were once as free as ourselves, but they have gradually become slaves to despotic tyrants ; whereas every attempt to overthrow the laws of England, has proved fatal to all concerned in it, and freedom has been even enlarged in consequence of the plots laid for its destruction. These are only a few of the outlines of this important period. To descend to particulars, I must refer you to the history itself. The histories of England have, of late years, been so multiplied, that the term of human life is not sufficient to go over them. You will have occasion to peruse several ; but after all, as the occurrences are so various and different, it will be proper to have an epitome or abstract of the whole, in order to refer to, and refresh your memory occasionally. The best I know for this purpose is Egerton's New History of England, in verse. In my next I shall finish the plan which I have laid down for your studying the history of other nations, and am,
Your sincere friend.
From the same. Sir,— Without considering your question concerning biography, I shall go on with the plan proposed ; I mean the history of other nations. After you have proceeded in the manner I have already pointed out, and acquired a tolerable knowledge of your own country, I would advise you to begin with the mosi ancient, I mean the Jews. This is a very inportant subject, as to them were the oracles of God committed. It is true, that the most authentic part of their history is to be found in the Old Tes.
tament, but great lights are thrown on the more obscure passages by Josephus. Having proceeded so far, it will be necessary to peruse the whole in one continual narrative, where the history is represented to you in one continued series of facts. And here I am happy in having it in my power to recommend to your perusal the best book ever yet published on that subject, I mean Kimpton's History of the Holy Bible.
In reading the History of Ancient Greece, you will be led into the knowledge of that of the Persi
Greek writers are models for all succeeding ages to copy after ; they may be imitated, but they cannot be excelled.
The next, in order of time, is that of the Romans, which is full of as great events as ever happened on the theatre of this world. Here we see a band of lawless robbers, assembling together in a wood on the banks of the Tiber, and after ravishing their neighbours' daughters, gradually extending their conquests over the states around them. The great republic of Carthage is obliged to submit to their yoke. They extended their conquest to the east as far as Arabia ; to the south into the deserts of Lybia ; and northward into the middle of Britain. They were at last so filled with pride, as to boast that the sun rose and set in their dominions. But tliere is nothing permanent in this world, for, as the poet says,
“All human things are subject to decay." The same enormous empire which had been so long in forming, is swallowed up in its own greatness, and for some ages past, nothing bas been left of it but the name. The body became too unwieldy for the head, and those barbarians whom the Romans had never been able to subdue, poured in