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for all higher mental culture is acknowledged. But without the earnestness which they acquire only by their relation to the destinies and history of man, they would ever be in danger of becoming an empty pastime—a mere revel of the imagination. The meaning of the most admirable and highest productions of the plastic arts and of poetry becomes really perceptible to us, only when we can enter into the spirit of the times out of which they sprang, or which they set forth. If philosophy more immediately engages the understanding, if the fine arts occupy the feelings and the imagination, so history, on the other hand, claims the whole attention of man, and all the faculties of his soul alike; or at least it ought to do so, if it would correspond to its high destination.
Thus history, if not in itself the most brilliant, is yet the most indispensable link in that beautiful chain, which encompasses man's higher intellectual culture: and history it is which binds the others more closely together. But another and very special motive for the study of history is to be derived from the extraordinary and surprising events of the present times.* Reflection on the mighty past,—the knowledge of it can alone enable us to take a calm steady survey of the present, to measure its greatness or its littleness, and to 'form a just judgment respecting it.
Thus are the simplest things generally the most exalted. History constitutes the apparently easy and first element of all instruction; and yet the more cultivated the mind of a man is, the more multiplied opportunities will he find of applying it and turning it to use, the more will he discern its richness, and divine its deeper sense. Indeed, no thinker is so profound as to be able to anticipate with accuracy the course of history, no scholar so learued as to think he has exhausted it, or has come to the bottom of it, and no sovereign so powerful that he may with impunity disregard its silent teaching.
It is a great merit of our age to have renovated the study of history, and to have cultivated it with extraordinary zeal. The English had the honour of leading the way in this noble career. The Germans have followed them with success. It would be easy to name one or two of our great historians who, at least as regards the happy combination of intel
* A.D. 1810.
PARTIALITY OF THE HISTORIAN.
lcct, learning, and fertility of ideas, might be preferred to the most celebrated English historians. On the other hand, the merit of a more equable and finished execution is incomparably more frequent among the historians of England than of Germany. Yet the difference of taste and difference of potion respecting the art of historical narration may cause a great diversity of opinions as to the comparative value of our national and of foreign historians. It is, nevertheless, certain that wo possess in the German language a rich treasure of historical research, profoundly instructive, and in part entirely new. Within the last two or three decades alone, so inuch has been achieved and produced in this department, that historical knowledge has been perhaps as much extended in that short space of time as formerly in as many centuries.
Despite these acquisitions, however, history on another side is still defective enough ; historic truth, still here and there, veiled by many clouds of error.
That history is written with partiality is a universal complaint. In the ordinary and literal sense this complaint ought not to be made, if we survey history from a lofty point of view. If, in his narrative, a writer of history has in view merely the advantage of some individual state, or some other special political object, and not the general interests of mankind and the progress of human destinies, in that case he may be, perhaps, a skilful advocate, an able orator, a distinguished political writer, but by no means is he an historian. But if a genuine historian sets before us facts, as they are, without falsification, and with the strictest conscientiousness, for so he is required, and so it is self-evident he ought to do, and if with respect to his views and opinions,—without which it is impossible to write history, or at least a lively historic narrative, he frankly states the principles of belief and right which determine his views and opinions, then we cannot complain with justice, for he himself furnishes us with the means of easily ascertaining how far we can agree with him or not. Of partiality we ought not to accuse him, even if we should differ from him in opinion; or at least the word has then no longer any very reprehensible sense. In general it is in history as in life itself, where it may often be more praiseworthy to choose and join the right party, than to remain without any party, ever neutral and indifferent. The example of a great Roman writer will best serve to illustrate my meaning. Tacitus opens his two immortal works, of different tendency, with the same assertion, that they were written without hate as without love. In this, perhaps, he only alluded to his own personal relations under this or that particular emperor, which might indeed more readily occur to his contemporaries. But if his expressions were to be taken strictly, we should then do him an injustice. For it is precisely the higb moral liate, everywhere glowing through his pages, and the exalted love visible in them ; the hate, namely, of unrighteous despotism and degrading vice, and the decided watchful love for everything high-minded, for everything worthy of better times ; these things it is that render his works ininortal, that have given them an imperishable value for all ages. Not impartial is Tacitus—this any one, without intellect or love, can easily be. No! he is in the highest degree partial, but his partiality is for the right party, and expressed in a just and noble manner.
Far more than by this much-dreaded partiality of writers, if such it can be called, is history falsified, and that is, by a partiality of quite a different kind, which is in fact a defect of sensibility,-a narrowness of mind. It is exceedingly difficult for man to tear himself from the circle of his habits. These habits, the whole present, our own age, with all its invisible associations, form a kind of spiritual atmosphere around us, which necessarily wraps the forms of the past as in a mist. Hence the many erroneous, or rather feeble, inaccurate, spiritless views and judgments on great times that have passed away,-on men and deeds which exceed the habitual standard.
To remove obstructive views of this kind, to bring the past, its heroes and its deeds, before our eyes, in their true forms, and in their full force, shall now be my chief endeavour.
To sketch a faithful picture of the last few centuries, so eventful and remarkable, we must go back to the middle ages, and to the earlier history of Germany. The migration of the northern nations is the wall of separation that divides the ancient and the modern world. The institutions, laws, and customs of the latter, down to our own times, are founded on the primitive constitution of the Germans ; and we must place before our eyes what Europe was before
MIGRATION OF NATIONS.
and after the Crusades, in order to judge what effect the discovery of the two Indies might have had upon her whole social system, and what effect it actually had. A short sketch, therefore, of the ancient Germans, and a compressed account of the middle ages, will precede our reflections on modern history.
We shall begin with the great migration of the northern nations, an event, equally astonishing in itself, as immeasurable in its consequences. Astonishing—for never, perhaps, did a state of things,—so utterly desolate and hopeless,-a prostration and bumiliation so universal-such a subjugation of everything good, afflict the whole civilized world, as in the latter times of the declining empire of Rome! Yet deliverance arrived in a manner the most unexpected. The world became impregnated with a new vital force, and countries which had been formerly civilized flourished anew, if not more civilized, yet certainly freer, happier, and nobler, than they were, even in the better times of antiquity. Other lands and nations, less favoured by nature, that had hitherto existed in poverty and simplicity, although in a state of freedom, -quickly rivalled in, blooming prosperity, and in the cultivation of the arts, the more fortunate south. Immeasurable were the consequences of this migration of nations for the whole of modern history; all that has been developed during the last fifteen hundred years by the noble rivalry of so many and such great national cpergies, has thereby alone been brought about. Had this migration not taken place; had the Germanic nations not succeeded in throw,ing off the Roman yoke; had, on the contrary, the rest of northern Europe been incorporated with Rome; had the freedom and individuality of the nations been here too destroyed, and had they been all transformed with like uniformity into provinces, then would that noble rivalry, that rich development of the human mind, which distinguishes modern nations, have never taken place. And yet it is precisely this rich variety, this manifoldness, that makes Europe what it is, that confers on it the distinction of being the chief seat of all human civilization. Instead of a Europe, thus free and richly diversified, there would then have been but one Rome, wherein all things would have been melted down and dissolved ; and where, instead of the rich
variety of European bistory, the annals of the single Roman empire would have presented us with a counterpart to the dull monotony of the Chinese year-books. Who would not prefer a state of simplicity and free nature to such a Chinese civilization, founded upon universal abasement ?
This migration of the northern nations is nothing else save the history of the wars between the free Germanic races and the Roman masters of the world ; wars which terminated in the dissolution of the Roman empire, and in the foundation and first formation of the modern states and nations. A retrospective survey of the methods whereby the Romans attained to universal dominion, as well as of the genius of decay, which from an early period lurked in that Roman empire ; a sketch of the peculiarities in the Germanic race and mind, in their manners and their constitution; and finally, a rapid glance at the wars between the Romans and the Germans,—both before and after that Arminius, who with unshaken perseverance and self-devotion, maintained German independence,—these are the most essential points for a clear view of this great historical event.
Let us first cast a glance at the primitive state of the whole of Europe. It is a remarkable and attractive spectacle to contemplate men who were so richly endowed by nature, and gifted with such noble faculties, in a state so totally different from that to which we are accustomed. Before the passion for universal dominion had been transmitted from Asia to the Greeks, and had next taken possession of the Romans, the state of Europe was, on the whole, nearly everywhere the same. The rudiments of civilization were already known; agriculture was general ; and some countries were proportionately thickly peopled. Towns were numerous, but there were likewise almost as many individual petty states as considerable towns. Everything was, for the most part, isolated and unconnected. Europe was inhabited and peopled chiefly by three or four great nations; but none of these were united among themselves so as to form a whole. Each of them were split into numberless petty tribes and races, constituting as many distinct states. Each of these tribes had but a slender knowledge of the remoter ones, and often carried on war with the adjoining. But as war was waged with such isolated forces, and not in great masses as it is