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garo,” Harriet Beecher Stowe writing her “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” Darwin on the Beagle, Cavour meeting Napoleon III at Plombières, Bismarck meeting Frederick William IV at Venice, Lincoln taking the stump in Illinois—what facts are these!
The simple truth is that there are facts and facts. In the beginning of this century Metternich prompting the policy of Europe was supposed to be great; Stein in his bureau was thought of little account. In our own time, Napoleon III on the throne was apparently a great fact, but how much greater a fact was Pasteur in his laboratory! In England the foolish Lord John Russell, reading homilies to the Cabinets of Europe and nearly blundering into a great war with the United States, was called a statesman and seemed a controlling personage; but how small his real influence on England or the world at large compared with that of the rather forlorn Prince Consort, who, despite his birth and environment, and the limitations imposed by a sneering court and jealous people, labored so successfully for the development of art and science throughout the world, and used his influence against the war which the folly of Lord John Russell did so much to bring on.
The simple rule and test which general history and the history of civilization give to special investigation is that if close knowledge of a battle, or an intrigue, or a man is important to our knowledge of the great lines of historical evolution, then these facts are important; if not, they are not important.
To the statement, then, that history has occupied itself too much with kings and courts and conquerors, and that it should “occupy itself with the people," a true historical synthesis gives answer that history must occupy itself with men and events which signify something. The men may be saints or miscreants, popes or monks, kings or peasants, conquerors or conspirators, builders of cathedrals or weavers of verse, railway kings or day-laborers, publicists or satirists, philanthropists or demagogues, statesmen or mob orators, philosophers or phrasemongers. The event may be a poem or a constitution, a battle or a debate, a treaty or a drama, a picture or a railway, a voyage or a book, a law or an invention, the
rise of a nation or the fall of a clique. Meeting our ethical necessity for historical knowledge with statistics and tabulated sociology entirely or mainly, is like meeting our want of food by the perpetual administration of concentrated essence of beef.
Again, is it possible to reduce necessary historical knowledge to such concentrated and tabulated form? There are statistics and statistics; some increase our perception of truth, some decrease it. As an example of both these facts, take a statement made in Montesquieu's “Greatness and Decline of the Romans," with Mr. Baker's excellent notes. Montesquieu shows statistically and very effectively that in the early days of Rome the ratio of soldiers to population was one to eight, whereas in Europe in Montesquieu's time it was about one to a hundred, and that this latter is the highest rate which can safely be maintained in a modern State. Mr. Baker corroborates this in a very striking manner, by showing that the number of persons serving in the armies and navies of the great modern European States remains about one to one hundred. Now, so far, these statistics increase our perception of truth. They show simply but conclusively how much more strongly the warlike feeling was cherished in Rome, when, instead of one soldier or sailor to a hundred, as in the modern States, there was one to eight.
But, on the other hand, take another statistical statement, which is, that under the Roman Empire, at the time of its greatest expansion, there was only one soldier and sailor to two hundred and sixty-six of the population, a ratio but little more than one-third as great as that in the seven great military States of Europe to-day. This statistical statement, apart from other knowledge, would inevitably lead to the conclusion that the Roman Empire had ceased to wage war; that, as compared to the great modern States of Europe, it thought little of self-defence, and needed to think little of it; whereas the fact is that Rome at that very time was perpetually at war, that war was its greatest concern,-in fact, that its statesmen thought of little else on a large scale besides war.
Again, there are material statistics and moral statistics, and to each must be assigned a proper place. The corruption and decline of Rome is one of the most important
and suggestive things in human annals. This corruption and decline is as real as the existence of Rome itself. But how are we to understand it? Material statistics as to the amount of territory conquered, wealth swept into Rome after the Carthaginian and Eastern wars, agricultural populations pauperized, slaves substituted for yeomen, latifundia substituted for peasant farms, and the like, if we could obtain them, might be of use. But there are moral statistics of no less value. A poem of Lucretius, showing that thinking men had outlived the old faith, and that a great chasm had been opened between reason and religious institutions; Cicero's vacillating treatment of torture in procedure; a dialogue of Lucian, showing that the old religion had utterly broken down; a fling in Juvenal, at the hysterical superstitions arising, especially among women; a sentence in Tacitus approving the execution of four hundred slaves of Pedanius Secundus because one of them, unknown to the others, had murdered their master; the picture of a gladiatorial combat by Gérôme and Alma Tadema's picture of the prætorians dragging Claudius to the throne,-in each of these facts is included a whole column of moral statistics, which enable us to see far into the spirit of the time and the cause of that imperial decline, as columns of material statistics might not do.
Take another field-the moral deterioration of France preparatory to the Revolution. This was a fact of vast moment to Europe. Doubtless statements could be tabulated to show this deterioration, but what statistics could throw so much light into it as the simple fact that the sainted Fénelon was succeeded in the archbishopric of Cambray by the infamous Cardinal Dubois; that while the government had disgraced Fénelon, it loaded Dubois with honors; and that while the clergy had without a murmur allowed Fénelon to be crushed, they invited Dubois to preside over their National Assembly.
Take a very different subject. The wild partisan madness of England toward France which pushed on the war against the first French Republic, teaches a philosophical and practical lesson to every modern nation. What statement can be tabulated so as to show it?
Yet a single caricature of Gillray, glorifying that infamous assassina
tion by the Austrians of Bonnier and Roberjot, the French envoys to the Congress of Rastadt, with the punning inscription exulting in that worst breach of international law in modern times, tells the whole story.
Take a still more recent field. The material statistics as to the diminution in the height of soldiers in the French army during the later wars of Napoleon are of great value as showing not only the fearful state of exhaustion to which the Empire was reduced, but the price which a nation has to pay for “glory." Look, now, at a moral statistic showing the same thing. One of the memoir writers tells us that when Napoleon, after throwing away his army of over five hundred thousand men in the Moscow campaign, had hurried back to France and had entered the Tuileries almost alone, he rubbed his hands before the fire, and simply said: “Decidedly it is more comfortable here than in Moscow," with no further mention of the loss that France had sustained, and evidently with no sympathy for the millions whom he had bereaved. Here is a moral statistic to the same effect as the material statistic just cited, and of equal value in showing the spirit in which Napoleonism wrought, and indeed, from the point of view of general history, the spirit which military despotism necessarily engenders.
Again, take the history now going on among ourselves. The future historian of the United States will, no doubt, give especial attention to the reunion of the Northern and Southern States as a homogeneous nation after the Civil War. This process is going on at this moment. What material facts that can be tabulated into a descriptive sociology throw any light upon it? I can see none. If you say the statistics of the votes in the Electoral College cast at the last presidential election, my answer is that these will certainly mislead the future historian if he is not very careful, for they would seem to show an absolute and complete break between North and South-a separation greater than before the war. But are there not moral statistics of far more real value in this case showing the very opposite of this? I think so. Take the simple fact that Judge Finch's poem, “The Blue and the Gray," is recited on Decoration Day, at North and South; take the fact that Mr. Atkinson delivered his address at the Georgia
Exposition and found most respectful audience for his very plain statements of Southern shortcomings, which, before the war, would very likely have cost him his life; take the hospitable reception of Northern military companies in the South bearing the flag against which the Southern men risked their lives with a bravery very notable in human annals;—these are types of a multitude of facts which can be arranged in no table of material statistics but which are moral indications of the greatest value.
And now as to certain limitations in the methods of investigation imposed upon us by circumstances peculiar to ourselves. I remember several years ago hearing a gentleman temporarily eminent in politics (one of Carlyle's hommes alors celebres) in a speech before the authorities of an American university, declare that all history must be rewritten from an American point of view. This assertion, at the time, seemed to savor of that vagueness and largeness often noted in the utterance of the American politician upon his travels, which in our vernacular, is happily named “tall talk”; but as the statement has recurred to my mind at various periods since, it seemed to me that our political friend uttered more wisely than he knew. For is it not true that we, in this Republic, called upon to help build up a new civilization with a political and social history developing before us of which the consequences for good or evil are to rank with those which have flowed from the life of Rome and the British Empire, --is it not true that, for us, the perspective of a vast deal of history is changed; that the history which, for the use of various European populations, has been written with minute attention to details, must be written for us in a larger and more philosophical way?
And is it not true that the history so rapidly developing here is throwing back a new light upon much history already developed? What legislator cannot see that the history of our American municipalities throws light upon the republics of the Middle Ages, and derives light from them? What statesman cannot understand far better the problem of the British government in Ireland in the light of our own problem in the city of New York? What classical scholar cannot better understand Cleon the leather