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of those who had founded, nurtured, or preserved the race of Mars suckled by the wolf; how by such means Lucretia and Brutus became to them names of ever-living power, and from generation to generation the Roman matron drew from the former the dower of chastity, from the latter the Roman citizen the inextinguishable hatred of despotic power. Again, when the northern tribes had descended to break up the Roman empire, Saxons, and Danes, and Normans, Franks, and Goths, hear recounted at the banquet the deeds of their seakings or their chieftains. This is at once their history and poetry.
But society advances a step, and with it history. The Pelasgic tribe settles; the Latian city grows; the Northman tills the earth. At this period we find chronicles no longer metrical, but recounting briefly those incidents which chiefly strike the imagination; recounting them without coherence or relation of parts; without, as it were, any purpose; with simple juxtaposition. Such, we may suppose, were the “ Annales Pontificum;" such, in another clime and time, the Saxon Chronicle. This is but the outward part of history; the recitation of the drama of life, just as it appears to a looker-on, full of its true spirit, but without self-consciousness.
Society takes another step, and it is a great one. Those mysterious powers of race, and language, and primeval institutions, and hereditary laws, and sympathies or antipathies, which date from the very cradle of man, grow up together into that complex, powerful, almost indestructible moral being called a nation. Men are no longer children; they are conscious of themselves, and of a common purpose, an inherited name; a definite and distinctive course of action ; of something which belongs to their own race, and land, and tongue, and not to others. Society is become national, and forthwith history becomes political. Whatever the march of society may be, that of history will be correlative to it.
Let us go back for an illustration to the literature of that land to which we owe so much. Herodotus, so often called the father of history, is an instance of the transition of which I am speaking. He appears to us a man of very active and curious mind, who has the power and the will to seek knowledge everywhere. He verifies to the letter one poet's description of another poet's hero; truly he is the man
Qui mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes." He seems to have a greater poet's dictum at his heart, that
“ Home-keeping youths have ever homely wits." Knowledge was not yet stored up in great reservoirs; he travelled after it from place to place; he saw, and heard, and reflected for himself. It was the fashion once to call him a pleasant story-teller, with fraudulent Greek vision, and credulous ears; but I think this fashion is rightly past. Rather he listened thoughtfully to all the learning of the Egyptian priests; he gathered up all the traditions that lingered in the oracles, shrines, and cities of Greece; he made all the coasts of the Mediterranean his tributaries, and wove together the particoloured treasure into that mixture of chronicle and history, of lively narrative, religious musing, and political lore, which, pass the world through whatever shapes it may, will never cease to charm. Yet there is a clue to all his narrative. He knits together the nations whose history, or rather traditions, he traverses, by their relation to that bitter, everlasting enmity between Europe and Asia, whereof the age immediately preceding him had seen so tremendous an explosion in the expedition of Xerxes.
That very assault on the liberties of Greece had wrought its tribes, in spite of their internal antagonism, into one people, one society ; and, but half a generation later than himself, we see what may be termed the political history of the ancients reaching a perfection in Thucydides which it never surpassed. This history may be called political, because human society had then fully realised the idea of a people. The highest form of human organisation with which men were familiar was the worsteíu; nor does it here matter, perhaps, to say that both to Greek and Roman such name was derived from the population of a city, and of an adjacent people aggregated round it; rather than from the population of a kingdom, or country, having many cities, towns, and villages living under one law and rule. No doubt the words worsteia or civitas denote the growth of the commonwealth from the kernel of the city; while ‘kingdom' derives it from the person of the prince: perhaps the former may be called the Greco-Latin, the latter the Asiatic principle of government. But at least both Greeks and Romans were familiar with great eastern kingdoms, which fully set forth the modern idea of a nation; and Alexander conquered and ruled over such an empire; not to say that from its members several kingdoms, in the modern sense, arose. Society then had become national, and history kept pace with it. Let us see what is the character of this political history.
Its limit is the nation, and it deals with all that interests the nation. Within the contracted limits of that famous Peloponnesian war passions are stirring, political interests at stake, rivalries are in the field, such as are reproduced now in the larger sphere of Europe. Every form of government may be seen in embryo; every political antagonism runs its petty but well-defined course; and but lately the ablest organ of public opinion in England has twice chosen the funeral oration of Pericles as the liveliest exponent of English feeling over the losses experienced at Sebastopol. Great, indeed, is the charm, where the writer can describe with the pencil of a poet, and analyse with the mental grasp of a philosopher. Such is the double merit of Thucydides. · And so it has happened that the deepest students of human nature have searched for two thousand years the records of a war, wherein the territory of the chief belligerents was not larger than a modern English or Irish county. What should we say if a quarrel between Kent and Essex, between Cork and Kerry, had kept the world at gaze ever since? Yet Attica and Laconia were no larger.
Pass over five hundred years, yet history scarcely seems to have enlarged its grasp. It deals, indeed, with an empire materially wider in extent,the wonderful empire of that city which moulded into one dominion all the countries watered by the Mediterranean, the highway of the old world. Thus it might seem to include the orbis terrarum. Yet I do not know that in reading the · pages of Polybius, of Livy, or even of Tacitus, we are conscious of a wider grasp of thought, a more enlarged experience of political interests, a higher idea of man and of all that concerns his personal or public life, than in those of Thucydides. I am not comparing the qualifications of these several great masters, but trying to trace the idea on which their works are written. And I still find the worstelu or civitas at the bottom of it. Rome, no doubt, is physically greater than Athens. Her