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Reflections on Modern Historians, and rians, Ancient poverty is converted

the Uncertainty of History. By M. into fuperfluity; there is scarce a city Voltaire.

that is not defircus of having its own TOWARDS the end of the fif- history, We are overwhelmed with

discovered, and soon after the politics of real instruction, is obliged to con. of Europe and the arts assume a new fine himself to great events, and to form. The art of printing and the disregard little ones; such a person, restoration of the sciences furnih us in the multitude of revolucions, reizes with faithful histories, instead of ridi. the spirit and genius of ages, and the culous chronicles shut up in cloisters manners of nations. Above all, he since the days of Gregory of Tours. must fix his attention on the history Every nation of Europe had its histo. of his own country, itudy it, be mal

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69. Voltaire's Refleflions on Modern Historians. 373 r of it, enter minutely into it, and lous and historical; but the historical ntent himself with a general view times themselves should be diftinguish.

other nations. Their history is no ed into truths and tables. I do not rther interesting than as it is con- mean those fables which are now ac. sted with his own, or on account of knowledged as such; the prodigies, e great things they have performed. for example, with which Livy has he first ages atter the fall of the Ro- embellished or ipoiled his history, are an empire are only, as has been als out of the question. But, in regard ady observed, barbarous adventures to what is generally believed, are there oder barbarous names, excepting not many reatons for doubting? If se age of Charlemagne. The North we consider that the Roman republic

lavage till the sixteenth century: was five hundred years without histole quarrels of the emperors of Ger- rians, that Livy himlelf laments the any and the popes spread desolation loss of the annals and other monuver Italy during fix centuries. All ments, which were almost all dettroy

confucion in Spain till the reign of ed when the city was burnt; pleraque erdinand and Ilabella. France, till interiere; if we reflect that in the firit ewis the Eleventh, is a prey to in- three hundred years of Rome the art of itine calamities, under a weak go- writing waslinde known, rara pereadem ernment. Daniel alledges that the tempora literæ ; we ihall find icaton to arly times of France are more inte. entertain doubts concerning all those efting than those of Rome; but be events which are out of the ordinary ces not consider that the weaker the courle of humnan affairs. Is it probable eginnings of a valt empire are, the that Romulus was obliged to carry off aore interesting they are, and that the Sabine women by force? Is the histose take pleasure in seeing the small ry of Lucretia probabie? Can we readiparce of a mighty torrent, which has ly believe, upon the faith of Livy, that serwhelmed half the globe.

King Porsenna was filled with admiraThe utility of history consists in the tion of the Romans, liecause a fanatic omparison which statesmen and citi- wanted to assassinate him ? Is it not ens may make of the laws and man. more reasonable, on the contrary, to ers of other countries with those of believe Polybius, who wrote two hun. heir own: this comparison excites dred years before Livy, and who tells zodern nations to vie with one ano. us that Porsenna subdued the Romans? her in arts, commerce, and agricul. Are we to credit the account which are. Great errors committed in past is given of the punishment which ges are of great consequence to future the Carthaginians inflicted upon Reges; and the crimes and calamities gulus? If it had been true, would ccafioned by absurd quarrels cannot not Polybius, who lived at the time, le too frequently repeated, or repre- have spoken of it? But he says not ented in too ftrong colours; for it is one word of the matter; and does ertain, that by renewing the me- not this afford reason to suspect that 20ry of such quarrels, the return of the story was invented long after, hem is often prevented.

in order to render the Carthaginians Bat the great use of modern history, odious? Open Moreri's dictionary at ad the advantage it has over ancient the article Regulus, and you see him Attory, arises from its shewing that, affirming that the punishment of this fer fince the fifteenth century, when. Roman is mentioned by Livy. Now ver a prince became too powerful, a that part of Livy's history which remfederacy was formed against him. lates to this affair happens to be loft, This system of the balance of power and, initead of it, we have only the he ancients had no idea of; and hence supplement of Frenthemius, so that It may account for the astonishing suc- Moreri only quotes a German of the els of the Romans, who, having seventeenth century, instead of a Rofirmed a militia superior to that of man in the days of Auguftus. Ber nations, subdued them one after Are public monuments,

nual ceisother from the Tiber to the Eu- remonies, and medals, historical rates.

proofs ? One is naturally disposed The uncertainty of history.-Times to believe that a monument, erected generally diitinguished into fabu. by a nation in order to celebrate an 5

event,

$74

Voltaire on the Uncertainty of History, July event, news the ceriainty of that nothing but an imitation of one of event. If such monuments, however, Homer's fictions. But what in a were not raised by cotemporaries, if poem is a mere fiction, is in a hifto. they celebrate improbable events, rian a lye. Several of the ancients, they prove nothing but a desire to indeed, adopted this method; but consecrate a popular opinion.

this only proves that several of the The roftral columnn, erected in ancients were fond of displaying their Rome by the coteinporaries of Dui- eloquence, though at the expence lius, is unquestionably a proof of the of truth. naval victory gained by Duilius. But Characters very often thew a does the statue of the augur Navius, greater desire to shine than to inwho divided a flint with a razor, Itruct : cotemporary writers, indeed, prove that Navius performed this pro: have a right to draw the characters digy? Are the statues of Ceres and of those itatesmen with whom they Triptolemus, in Athens, undoubied negociated, or of those generals under prooss that Ceres taught the Athe- whom they served. But how much nians agriculture? Does the famous is it to be feared that the pencil will be Laocoon, which is still entire, prove guided by passion? The characters the truth of the history of the Trojan in Clarendon are drawn with more horse ?

partiality, gravity, and wisdom, than Ceremonies and annual festivals those we read with so much pleasure in established by a whole nation are no Cardinal de Rerz. better proofs of the originals to which But to be desirous of painting the they relate. Almost all the Roman, antients, to attempt unfolding the Syrian, Grecian, and Egyptian festi- inmott recesses of their breasts, to vals were founded upon filly and ri- look upon events as characters, by diculous tales, as well as the temples means of which we may clearly read and Itatues of their ancient heroes. the very secrets of their hearts, is an They were monuments of creduli:y enterprize of a very delicate nature, consecrated to error.

and in many writers a mere pueA medal, even a cotemporary one, rility. is not always a proof. How many Cicero lays it down as a maxim, medals have been truck hy fiattery up- that an biltorian should never dare on occasion of battles which were far to tell a falfhood, or conceal a truth. from being decilive, though dignified The firft part of this precept is inwith the title of victories in the conteftible: we must examine the war of the English against the Spanis other. If a truth can be of any adards, in the year 1740, was there not vantage to a state, your filence is a medal struck, to thew that Cartha- highly blameable. But if you are gena was taken by Admiral Vernon, at writing the history of a prince who the very time that this admiral was has trusted you with a secret, are you raising the siege of it? Medals are to reveal that fecret? Are you to tell only unquestionable vouchers, wiren

posterity what it would be criminal the event is attested by cotemporary in you to tell in confidence to any in: authors; the proofs, in this case, lup- dividual ? Muft the duty of an bitoport each other, and establish the rian prevail over a ftill higher day truth,

Suppose you had been witness to a Are harangues to be inserted in frailty which had no influence on hu. history, and characters to be drawn? man affairs, are you to reveal this If, upon an important occasion, a frailty? If so, hiftory would degenegeneral or a ítateiman has spoken in rate into fatire. a Atriking and remarkable manner, Concerning the Ayle and manner characteristical of his genius and that writing biftory.-1 shall say very little of the age he lived in, his speech upon this sobject, as so much has ought widoubtedly to be inlerted been already written upon it. We word for word; Inch speeches are know that the Atyle and manner of perhaps the moft useful parts of Livy, his gravity, and his fage ela hitory. But wny make a man fay quence, are well suited to the inajety what he never faid? We might als of the Roman republic; that Tacitus most as well attribute actions to bim is an admirable painter of tyrants which he never performed; this is chat Polybius excels in laying down 1769.

And the Style and Manner of writing it. 375 she maxims of war ; and Dionyfius of acquaint him with the manners, the Halicarnassus in writing of antiquities. laws, and customs of countries new to

But in copying after these great Europe. If you have nothing to tell matters, the moderns have a more us, but that one barbarian fucceeds difficult task than they had. We ex- another barbarian on the banks of the pect from modern historians more de- Oxus, what benefit does the public tail, facts more clearly proved, greater derive from your history? The me. precision in dates, more attention to thod which is proper for a history of cuftoms, laws, manners, commerce, your own country, is not proper for finances, and agriculture. It is with writing an account of the discoveries | bistory as with mathematics and na. of the new world. The history of a tural philosophy, the career is won city is very different from that of a derfully enlarged.

great empire, and the life of an indi. It is expected that you write the vidual must be written differently history of a foreign country in a dif- from the history of Spain or England. ferent manner from that of your own. These rules are sufficiently known; If you are writing the history of but the art of writing history well, France, you are not obliged to describe .will ever be very uncommon. We the course of the Seine or the Loire; know that the ityle of history mutt but if you are writing the hiftory of be grave, pure, various, and agreethe Portuguese conqueits in Asia, you able; there are laws for writing hisa muft give the topography of the dis- tory, as there are for every other specovered countries. You must lead cies of composition : we have precepts your reader by the hand along the in abundance, but we have few great coast of Africa and Persia, you must artists.

Az IMPARTIAL REVIEW of NEW PUBLICATIONS. ARTICLE I.

attention of many natural historians ; not onPHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS; !y on account of the particular ftructure of

giving some Account of ebe present Underé its parts, but also of several curious phænotalings, Studies, and Labours of ibe ingenious mena which are peculiar to it, in its several in many confiderable Parts of the World. 4to. species, in the different parts of the world. Vol. LVIII. For the Year 1768. Davis and

This animal is ranged by authors under Reymers.

the generical name Lacerta, which compreIn an advertisement prefixed to the vo

hends a great variety of all sizes from the Izme before as, the Royal Society declare, crocodile to the smallef lizard: but as the that as a body they never deliver their lena čameleon has its various species, and each liments upon any subject, and that the fuch properties as are not common to any tbanks which they give from the chair, lo

others under the tribe of Lacertz, they inthe authors of any papers, are to be consi

deed deserve to be regarded as a particular desed not as recommendations to the world, genus. but as marks of civility for the respect with

However, fince authors have been very which they are treated in the communica

full in their accounts of these creatures; tion. They hope the:efore the public will

which every one, curious in their enquiries attend to this circumstance, and not pay

into the hisory of animali, may have reany regard to the illiberal oftentation of course to, collected in an excellent work in. those who endeavour to profti:ute their po

titled, Dillionaire roisonné des Animaux, I liteness in this respect to mercenary purposes. fall only entertain the iearned fociety with The present volume contains many curi

a decription of a species of cameleon which Bus papers on various fubjects, which must

I conder as a non-descript, having made a be deemed a valuable acquisition to science, careful research concerning this animal and we doubt not but the following extract among authors, and feen several kinds of will prove entertaining to our readers.

them, as well as various figures in every

biftory I am acquainted with; from all Ar Acciunt of a particular Species of Cameleon: wbich the subject before us is very different. By James Parsons, M. D. F. R. S.

It is chiefly in the fru&ture of the bead [Read June 12, 1768.)

that this difference appears, and its fingulaAmong the quadrupeds of the earth, the rity induced me to ob'erve it with attention ; clals of Cameleon's is one of the most curious for the head is very large in proportion to families; infomuch as to have engaged the the rest of this animal, and all others of the

tame

376

THE IMPARTIAL REVIEW July fame class; and the more so, if we measure the tail, and has on each fide a row of knobs, from the iwo anterior flat processes, to the or processes, as far as the articulation of the posterior extremity's process of the cranium, thigh, with the bone that runs up towards which measures three inches and a quarter. the spine ; but from thence, wbere the tail This posterior proceso extends backwards, begins, there is a second lateral row of over 'he neck, to the first vertical process knobs, which continue all along the tail. of he spine ; and the interior processes, one There does not appear any paliage into the on each side, project forwards and upwards head for hearing, nor any other but the in an oblique direction over the natal hole, mouth and nasal holes; which is also takea and are bluntly ferrated all round; the fur- notice of by the Royal Academy in their obface of the entire face is covered with tuber. servations upon that mentioned above. This cles and scales, which, by being in a dry made Bellonius imagine, that these paíal Hate, have lost their protuberance and lustre, holes serve cameleons for hearing as weil which the scales certainly were endowed as breathing ; so that it lould seem, ibat with while the animal was alive.

more species than one are deiticule of aa. · The length of the iwo mandibles is equal, ditory holes. and is two soches and a quarter from the ar- This subject came into my hands from the ticulation of the lower with the upper jaw, owner Mr. Millan, who was kind encugh to the apex of each ; both being furnished to leave it with me for the purpose of lay. with a fine set of small pointed teeth ; all ing it before the Royal Society; we have of a fize, and so let, that, upon the animal's no knowledge of its native place, as be closing his mouth, the teeth do not meet, bought it among other natural productioas but those of the upper fall in with those of now in his collection. the under alternately. There are no mo- II. An Ejay upon Animal Reproductiess. lares nor canine teeth.

By Abbe Spallanzani, F.R.S. and Preciprof The orbits are extremely large and deep, Pbilosopby in the University of Modena. Traj. So that this cameleon must have had very lared from ebe Italian. Svo. is. 60. Beckei. great eyes, and very globular; for they are The celebrated author of this piece, which each more than a third of the whole length was written at the defire of Dr. Maty, hai of the mandible in diameter.

here displayed a confiderable koowledge of From a clole inspection of the skin, which his subject, and enriched the world with a is now contracted and dried close to the ike- production, wbich cannot rail of being warmleton, it appears scaled all over; the larger iy admired by the lovers of natural history, Scales are upon part of the head and upon III. Tbe original Power of the collative Bs. the sides of the neck; the smaller, un- dy of tbe People of England cxamined asd df. der the jaws, upon the neck, and over the serted. By Daniel de Foe. To wbicb are whole body; but we can form no idea of its 'added, by obe same Aurbor, some diftinguiflisg proper colour whilft the animal is alive, yet Cbaratters of a Parliameni-man. Iimo. ii. do not doubt of its having had a very beau- Baldwin. tiful covering

Daniel de Foe, the author of the Tree. Almost every {pecies of Lacerta have five born EngliMman, is well known in this fingers upon each extremity; all the came- country; and the various pieces which have leons have them, but they differ in the dire been written by him, are remarkable for da position of the fingers; this before us has extraordinary portion both of intelligence and the carfal, metatarsals and three bones 10 severity. The present performance, which each pinges, as it is in human hands : in is calculated for the mendian of the present this cameleon the fingers are very long, and hour, vindicates the rights of the people, ia terminated with pointed nails bending down- a vein of strong reasoning, and will doubles wards; three of the fingers of each anterior give satistaction to every uninformed mem. extremiy are inwards in the place of the ber of the community. To those conversant thumb, and the other cwo are outwards; with our constitution it cannot be of any exwhereas in the posterior extremities, three traordinary service, as they must be feuille are outwards, having between them such a that the origin of all power is originally deJarge space, or division, as is bein een the rived from, as well as intended for the hapthumb and fingers of men. But this diftris piness of, the people. bution of the fingers I saw in one of the tri- IV. The Farmer's Journey to London. A angolar-headed cameleons : other species Farce of ob'ee Afls. 8vo. Baldwin, have the five fingers together, and very Tne avihor of this piece, which is fep'd thort like fumps; but that defcribed by beyond the posibility of description, has noPitfield, from the dile&tions of the Royal thing but a laudable motive to urge in favour academy, has its fingers disposed in the same of his performance ; yet as we have met manner with this, and is one of those with fome dunces withour even such a plen, we a in angular head and cbeit,

hall pais him over lighdy, and forget the Toe vertical edge of the spine is (colloped poct entirely in the man. all alung'un the neck to the extremity of V. Genuine Memoirs of tbe Life and she

westora

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