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Title: Historical Essays
Author: Rhodes, James Ford, 1848-1927
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Historical Essays" ***

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Author of the _History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850
to the Final Restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877_

New York

_All rights reserved_

Copyright, 1909,

Set up and electrotyped. Published December, 1909.

Norwood Press
J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.


In offering to the public this volume of Essays, all but two of which
have been read at various places on different occasions, I am aware that
there is some repetition in ideas and illustrations, but, as the dates
of their delivery and previous publication are indicated, I am letting
them stand substantially as they were written and delivered.

I am indebted to my son, Daniel P. Rhodes, for a literary revision of
these Essays; and I have to thank the editors of the _Atlantic Monthly_,
of _Scribner's Magazine_, and of the _Century Magazine_ for leave to
reprint the articles which have already appeared in their periodicals.

  Boston, November, 1909.


      I. History                                                       1
           President's Inaugural Address, American Historical
           Association, Boston, December 27, 1899; printed in the
           _Atlantic Monthly_ of February, 1900.

     II. Concerning the Writing of History                            25
           Address delivered at the Meeting of the American
           Historical Association in Detroit, December, 1900.

    III. The Profession of Historian                                  47
           Lecture read before the History Club of Harvard
           University, April 27, 1908, and at Yale, Columbia, and
           Western Reserve Universities.

     IV. Newspapers as Historical Sources                             81
           A Paper read before the American Historical Association
           in Washington on December 29, 1908; printed in the
           _Atlantic Monthly_ of May, 1909.

      V. Speech prepared for the Commencement Dinner at Harvard
         University, June 26, 1901. (Not delivered)                   99

     VI. Edward Gibbon                                               105
           Lecture read at Harvard University, April 6, 1908, and
           printed in _Scribner's Magazine_ of June, 1909.

    VII. Samuel Rawson Gardiner                                      141
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the March Meeting of 1902, and printed in the
           _Atlantic Monthly_ of May, 1902.

   VIII. William E. H. Lecky                                         151
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the November Meeting of 1903.

     IX. Sir Spencer Walpole                                         159
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the November Meeting of 1907.

      X. John Richard Green                                          169
           Address at a Gathering of Historians on June 5, 1909, to
           mark the Placing of a Tablet in the Inner Quadrangle of
           Jesus College, Oxford, to the Memory of John Richard

     XI. Edward L. Pierce                                            175
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the October Meeting of 1897.

    XII. Jacob D. Cox                                                183
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the October Meeting of 1900.

   XIII. Edward Gaylord Bourne                                       189
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the March Meeting of 1908.

    XIV. The Presidential Office                                     201
           An Essay printed in _Scribner's Magazine_ of February,

     XV. A Review of President Hayes's Administration                243
           Address delivered at the Annual Meeting of the Graduate
           School of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University, on
           October 8, 1908; printed in the _Century Magazine_ for
           October, 1909.

    XVI. Edwin Lawrence Godkin                                       265
           Lecture read at Harvard University, April 13, 1908;
           printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_ for September, 1908.

   XVII. Who Burned Columbia?                                        299
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the November Meeting of 1901, and printed in the
           _American Historical Review_ of April, 1902.

  XVIII. A New Estimate of Cromwell                                  315
           A Paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society
           at the January Meeting of 1898, and printed in the
           _Atlantic Monthly_ of June, 1898.

  Index                                                              325


President's Inaugural Address, American Historical Association, Boston,
December 27, 1899; printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_ of February, 1900.



My theme is history. It is an old subject, which has been discoursed
about since Herodotus, and I should be vain indeed if I flattered myself
that I could say aught new concerning the methods of writing it, when
this has for so long a period engaged the minds of so many gifted men.
Yet to a sympathetic audience, to people who love history, there is
always the chance that a fresh treatment may present the commonplaces in
some different combination, and augment for the moment an interest which
is perennial.

Holding a brief for history as do I your representative, let me at once
concede that it is not the highest form of intellectual endeavor; let us
at once agree that it were better that all the histories ever written
were burned than for the world to lose Homer and Shakespeare. Yet as it
is generally true that an advocate rarely admits anything without
qualification, I should not be loyal to my client did I not urge that
Shakespeare was historian as well as poet. We all prefer his Antony and
Cleopatra and Julius Cæsar to the Lives in North's Plutarch which
furnished him his materials. The history is in substance as true as
Plutarch, the dramatic force greater; the language is better than that
of Sir Thomas North, who himself did a remarkable piece of work when he
gave his country a classic by Englishing a French version of the
stories of the Greek. It is true as Macaulay wrote, the historical plays
of Shakespeare have superseded history. When we think of Henry V, it is
of Prince Hal, the boon companion of Falstaff, who spent his youth in
brawl and riot, and then became a sober and duty-loving king; and our
idea of Richard III. is a deceitful, dissembling, cruel wretch who knew
no touch of pity, a bloody tyrant who knew no law of God or man.

The Achilles of Homer was a very living personage to Alexander. How
happy he was, said the great general, when he visited Troy, "in having
while he lived so faithful a friend, and when he was dead so famous a
poet to proclaim his actions"! In our century, as more in consonance
with society under the régime of contract, when force has largely given,
pay to craft, we feel in greater sympathy with Ulysses; "The one person
I would like to have met and talked with," Froude used to say, "was
Ulysses. How interesting it would be to have his opinion on universal
suffrage, and on a House of Parliament where Thersites is listened to as
patiently as the king of men!"

We may also concede that, in the realm of intellectual endeavor, the
natural and physical sciences should have the precedence of history. The
present is more important than the past, and those sciences which
contribute to our comfort, place within the reach of the laborer and
mechanic as common necessaries what would have been the highest luxury
to the Roman emperor or to the king of the Middle Ages, contribute to
health and the preservation of life, and by the development of railroads
make possible such a gathering as this,--these sciences, we cheerfully
admit, outrank our modest enterprise, which, in the words of Herodotus,
is "to preserve from decay the remembrance of what men have done." It
may be true, as a geologist once said, in extolling his study at the
expense of the humanities, "Rocks do not lie, although men do;" yet, on
the other hand, the historic sense, which during our century has
diffused itself widely, has invaded the domain of physical science. If
you are unfortunate enough to be ill, and consult a doctor, he
expatiates on the history of your disease. It was once my duty to attend
the Commencement exercises of a technical school, when one of the
graduates had a thesis on bridges. As he began by telling how they were
built in Julius Cæsar's time, and tracing at some length the development
of the art during the period of the material prosperity of the Roman
Empire, he had little time and space left to consider their construction
at the present day. One of the most brilliant surgeons I ever knew, the
originator of a number of important surgical methods, who, being
physician as well, was remarkable in his expedients for saving life when
called to counsel in grave and apparently hopeless cases, desired to
write a book embodying his discoveries and devices, but said that the
feeling was strong within him that he must begin his work with an
account of medicine in Egypt, and trace its development down to our own
time. As he was a busy man in his profession, he lacked the leisure to
make the preliminary historical study, and his book was never written.
Men of affairs, who, taking "the present time by the top," are looked
upon as devoted to the physical and mechanical sciences, continually pay
tribute to our art. President Garfield, on his deathbed, asked one of
his most trusted Cabinet advisers, in words that become pathetic as one
thinks of the opportunities destroyed by the assassin's bullet, "Shall I
live in history?" A clever politician, who knew more of ward meetings,
caucuses, and the machinery of conventions than he did of history
books, and who was earnest for the renomination of President Arthur in
1884, said to me, in the way of clinching his argument, "That
administration will live in history." So it was, according to Amyot, in
the olden time. "Whensoever," he wrote, "the right sage and virtuous
Emperor of Rome, Alexander Severus, was to consult of any matter of
great importance, whether it concerned war or government, he always
called such to counsel as were reported to be well seen in histories."
"What," demanded Cicero of Atticus, "will history say of me six hundred
years hence?"

Proper concessions being made to poetry and the physical sciences, our
place in the field remains secure. Moreover, we live in a fortunate age;
for was there ever so propitious a time for writing history as in the
last forty years? There has been a general acquisition of the historic
sense. The methods of teaching history have so improved that they may be
called scientific. Even as the chemist and physicist, we talk of
practice in the laboratory. Most biologists will accept Haeckel's
designation of "the last forty years as the age of Darwin," for the
theory of evolution is firmly established. The publication of the Origin
of Species, in 1859, converted it from a poet's dream and philosopher's
speculation to a well-demonstrated scientific theory. Evolution,
heredity, environment, have become household words, and their
application to history has influenced every one who has had to trace the
development of a people, the growth of an institution, or the
establishment of a cause. Other scientific theories and methods have
affected physical science as potently, but none has entered so vitally
into the study of man. What hitherto the eye of genius alone could
perceive may become the common property of every one who cares to read a
dozen books. But with all of our advantages, do we write better history
than was written before the year 1859, which we may call the line of
demarcation between the old and the new? If the English, German, and
American historical scholars should vote as to who were the two best
historians, I have little doubt that Thucydides and Tacitus would have a
pretty large majority. If they were asked to name a third choice, it
would undoubtedly lie between Herodotus and Gibbon. At the meeting of
this association in Cleveland, when methods of historical teaching were
under discussion, Herodotus and Thucydides, but no others, were
mentioned as proper object lessons. What are the merits of Herodotus?
Accuracy in details, as we understand it, was certainly not one of them.
Neither does he sift critically his facts, but intimates that he will
not make a positive decision in the case of conflicting testimony. "For
myself," he wrote, "my duty is to report all that is said, but I am not
obliged to believe it all alike,--a remark which may be understood to
apply to my whole history." He had none of the wholesome skepticism
which we deem necessary in the weighing of historical evidence; on the
contrary, he is frequently accused of credulity. Nevertheless, Percy
Gardner calls his narrative nobler than that of Thucydides, and Mahaffy
terms it an "incomparable history." "The truth is," wrote Macaulay in
his diary, when he was forty-nine years old, "I admire no historians
much except Herodotus, Thucydides, and Tacitus." Sir M. E. Grant Duff
devoted his presidential address of 1895, before the Royal Historical
Society, wholly to Herodotus, ending with the conclusion, "The fame of
Herodotus, which has a little waned, will surely wax again." Whereupon
the London Times devoted a leader to the subject. "We are concerned," it
said, "to hear, on authority so eminent, that one of the most delightful
writers of antiquity has a little waned of late in favor with the
world. If this indeed be the case, so much the worse for the world....
When Homer and Dante and Shakespeare are neglected, then will Herodotus
cease to be read."

There we have the secret of his hold upon the minds of men. He knows how
to tell a story, said Professor Hart, in the discussion previously
referred to, in Cleveland. He has "an epic unity of plan," writes
Professor Jebb. Herodotus has furnished delight to all generations,
while Polybius, more accurate and painstaking, a learned historian and a
practical statesman, gathers dust on the shelf or is read as a penance.
Nevertheless, it may be demonstrated from the historical literature of
England of our century that literary style and great power of narration
alone will not give a man a niche in the temple of history. Herodotus
showed diligence and honesty, without which his other qualities would
have failed to secure him the place he holds in the estimation of
historical scholars.

From Herodotus we naturally turn to Thucydides, who in the beginning
charms historical students by his impression of the seriousness and
dignity of his business. History, he writes, will be "found profitable
by those who desire an exact knowledge of the past as a key to the
future, which in all human probability will repeat or resemble the past.
My history is an everlasting possession, not a prize composition which
is heard and forgotten." Diligence, accuracy, love of truth, and
impartiality are merits commonly ascribed to Thucydides, and the
internal evidence of the history bears out fully the general opinion.
But, in my judgment, there is a tendency to rate, in the comparative
estimates, the Athenian too high, for the possession of these qualities;
for certainly some modern writers have possessed all of these merits in
an eminent degree. When Jowett wrote in the preface to his translation,
Thucydides "stands absolutely alone among the historians, not only of
Hellas, but of the world, in his impartiality and love of truth," he was
unaware that a son of his own university was writing the history of a
momentous period of his own country, in a manner to impugn the
correctness of that statement. When the Jowett Thucydides appeared,
Samuel R. Gardiner had published eight volumes of his history, though he
had not reached the great Civil War, and his reputation, which has since
grown with a cumulative force, was not fully established; but I have now
no hesitation in saying that the internal evidence demonstrates that in
impartiality and love of truth Gardiner is the peer of Thucydides. From
the point of view of external evidence, the case is even stronger for
Gardiner; he submits to a harder test. That he has been able to treat so
stormy, so controverted, and so well known a period as the seventeenth
century in England, with hardly a question of his impartiality, is a
wonderful tribute. In fact, in an excellent review of his work I have
seen him criticised for being too impartial. On the other hand, Grote
thinks that he has found Thucydides in error,--in the long dialogue
between the Athenian representatives and the Melians. "This dialogue,"
Grote writes, "can hardly represent what actually passed, except as to a
few general points which the historian has followed out into deductions
and illustrations, thus dramatizing the given situation in a powerful
and characteristic manner." Those very words might characterize
Shakespeare's account of the assassination of Julius Cæsar, and his
reproduction of the speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony. Compare the
relation in Plutarch with the third act of the tragedy, and see how, in
his amplification of the story, Shakespeare has remained true to the
essential facts of the time. Plutarch gives no account of the speeches
of Brutus and Mark Antony, confining himself, to an allusion to the
one, and a reference to the other; but Appian of Alexandria, in his
history, has reported them. The speeches in Appian lack the force which
they have in Shakespeare, nor do they seemingly fit into the situation
as well. I have adverted to this criticism of Grote, not that I love
Thucydides less, but that I love Shakespeare more. For my part, the
historian's candid acknowledgment in the beginning has convinced me of
the essential--not the literal--truth of his accounts of speeches and
dialogues. "As to the speeches," wrote the Athenian, "which were made
either before or during the war, it was hard for me, and for others who
reported them to me, to recollect the exact words. I have therefore put
into the mouth of each speaker the sentiments proper to the occasion,
expressed as I thought he would be likely to express them; while at the
same time I endeavored, as nearly as I could, to give the general
purport of what was actually said." That is the very essence of candor.
But be the historian as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, he shall not
escape calumny. Mahaffy declares that, "although all modern historians
quote Thucydides with more confidence than they would quote the
Gospels," the Athenian has exaggerated; he is one-sided, partial,
misleading, dry, and surly. Other critics agree with Mahaffy that he has
been unjust to Cleon, and has screened Nicias from blame that was his
due for defective generalship.

We approach Tacitus with respect. We rise from reading his Annals, his
History, and his Germany with reverence. We know that we have been in
the society of a gentleman who had a high standard of morality and
honor. We feel that our guide was a serious student, a solid thinker,
and a man of the world; that he expressed his opinions and delivered his
judgments with a remarkable freedom from prejudice. He draws us to him
with sympathy. He sounds the same mournful note which we detect in
Thucydides. Tacitus deplores the folly and dissoluteness of the rulers
of his nation; he bewails the misfortunes of his country. The merits we
ascribe to Thucydides, diligence, accuracy, love of truth, impartiality,
are his. The desire to quote from Tacitus is irresistible. "The more I
meditate," he writes, "on the events of ancient and modern times, the
more I am struck with the capricious uncertainty which mocks the
calculations of men in all their transactions." Again: "Possibly there
is in all things a kind of cycle, and there may be moral revolutions
just as there are changes of seasons." "Commonplaces!" sneer the
scientific historians. True enough, but they might not have been
commonplaces if Tacitus had not uttered them, and his works had not been
read and re-read until they have become a common possession of
historical students. From a thinker who deemed the time "out of joint,"
as Tacitus obviously did, and who, had he not possessed great strength
of mind and character, might have lapsed into a gloomy pessimism, what
noble words are these: "This I regard as history's highest function: to
let no worthy action be uncommemorated, and to hold out the reprobation
of posterity as a terror to evil words and deeds." The modesty of the
Roman is fascinating. "Much of what I have related," he says, "and shall
have to relate, may perhaps, I am aware, seem petty trifles to
record.... My labors are circumscribed and unproductive of renown to the
author." How agreeable to place in contrast with this the prophecy of
his friend, the younger Pliny, in a letter to the historian: "I
augur--nor does my augury deceive me--that your histories will be
immortal: hence all the more do I desire to find a place in them."

To my mind, one of the most charming things in historical literature is
the praise which one great historian bestows upon another. Gibbon
speaks of "the discerning eye" and "masterly pencil of Tacitus,--the
first of historians who applied the science of philosophy to the study
of facts," "whose writings will instruct the last generations of
mankind." He has produced an immortal work, "every sentence of which is
pregnant with the deepest observations and most lively images." I
mention Gibbon, for it is more than a strong probability that in
diligence, accuracy, and love of truth he is the equal of Tacitus. A
common edition of the History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
Empire is that with notes by Dean Milman, Guizot, and Dr. Smith.
Niebuhr, Villemain, and Sir James Mackintosh are each drawn upon for
criticism. Did ever such a fierce light beat upon a history? With what
keen relish do the annotators pounce upon mistakes or inaccuracies, and
in that portion of the work which ends with the fall of the Western
Empire how few do they find! Would Tacitus stand the supreme test
better? There is, so far as I know, only one case in which we may
compare his Annals with an original record. On bronze tablets found at
Lyons in the sixteenth century is engraved the same speech made by the
Emperor Claudius to the Senate that Tacitus reports. "Tacitus and the
tablets," writes Professor Jebb, "disagree hopelessly in language and in
nearly all the detail, but agree in the general line of argument."
Gibbon's work has richly deserved its life of more than one hundred
years, a period which I believe no other modern history has endured.
Niebuhr, in a course of lectures at Bonn, in 1829, said that Gibbon's
"work will never be excelled." At the Gibbon Centenary Commemoration in
London, in 1894, many distinguished men, among whom the Church had a
distinct representation, gathered together to pay honor to him who, in
the words of Frederic Harrison, had written "the most perfect book that
English prose (outside its fiction) possesses." Mommsen, prevented by
age and work from being present, sent his tribute. No one, he said,
would in the future be able to read the history of the Roman Empire
unless he read Edward Gibbon. The Times, in a leader devoted to the
subject, apparently expressed the general voice: "'Back to Gibbon' is
already, both here and among the scholars of Germany and France, the
watchword of the younger historians."

I have now set forth certain general propositions which, with time for
adducing the evidence in detail, might, I think, be established: that,
in the consensus of learned people, Thucydides and Tacitus stand at the
head of historians; and that it is not alone their accuracy, love of
truth, and impartiality which entitle them to this preëminence since
Gibbon and Gardiner among the moderns possess equally the same
qualities. What is it, then, that makes these men supreme? In venturing
a solution of this question, I confine myself necessarily to the English
translations of the Greek and Latin authors. We have thus a common
denominator of language, and need not take into account the unrivaled
precision and terseness of the Greek and the force and clearness of the
Latin. It seems to me that one special merit of Thucydides and Tacitus
is their compressed narrative,--that they have related so many events
and put so much meaning in so few words. Our manner of writing history
is really curious. The histories which cover long periods of time are
brief; those which have to do with but a few years are long. The works
of Thucydides and Tacitus are not like our compendiums of history, which
merely touch on great affairs, since want of space precludes any
elaboration. Tacitus treats of a comparatively short epoch, Thucydides
of a much shorter one: both histories are brief. Thucydides and Macaulay
are examples of extremes. The Athenian tells the story of twenty-four
years in one volume; the Englishman takes nearly five volumes of equal
size for his account of seventeen years. But it is safe to say that
Thucydides tells us as much that is worth knowing as Macaulay. One is
concise, the other is not. It is impossible to paraphrase the fine parts
of Thucydides, but Macaulay lends himself readily to such an exercise.
The thought of the Athenian is so close that he has got rid of all
redundancies of expression: hence the effort to reproduce his ideas in
other words fails. The account of the plague in Athens has been studied
and imitated, and every imitation falls short of the original not only
in vividness but in brevity. It is the triumph of art that in this and
in other splendid portions we wish more had been told. As the French
say, "the secret of wearying is to say all," and this the Athenian
thoroughly understood. Between our compendiums, which tell too little,
and our long general histories, which tell too much, are Thucydides and

Again, it is a common opinion that our condensed histories lack life and
movement. This is due in part to their being written generally from a
study of second-hand--not original--materials. Those of the Athenian and
the Roman are mainly the original.

I do not think, however, that we may infer that we have a much greater
mass of materials, and thereby excuse our modern prolixity. In written
documents, of course, we exceed the ancients, for we have been flooded
with these by the art of printing. Yet any one who has investigated any
period knows how the same facts are told over and over again, in
different ways, by various writers; and if one can get beyond the mass
of verbiage and down to the really significant original material, what a
simplification of ideas there is, what a lightening of the load! I own
that this process of reduction is painful, and thereby our work is made
more difficult than that of the ancients. A historian will adapt himself
naturally to the age in which he lives, and Thucydides made use of the
matter that was at his hand. "Of the events of the war," he wrote, "I
have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to
any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I either saw
myself, or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and
particular inquiry. The task was a laborious one, because eye-witnesses
of the same occurrences gave different accounts of them, as they
remembered or were interested in the actions of one side or the other."
His materials, then, were what he saw and heard. His books and his
manuscripts were living men. Our distinguished military historian, John
C. Ropes, whose untimely death we deplore, might have written his
history from the same sort of materials; for he was contemporary with
our Civil War, and followed the daily events with intense interest. A
brother of his was killed at Gettysburg, and he had many friends in the
army. He paid at least one memorable visit to Meade's headquarters in
the field, and at the end of the war had a mass of memories and
impressions of the great conflict. He never ceased his inquiries; he
never lost a chance to get a particular account from those who took part
in battles or campaigns; and before he began his Story of the Civil War,
he too could have said, "I made the most careful and particular inquiry"
of generals and officers on both sides, and of men in civil office privy
to the great transactions. His knowledge drawn from living lips was
marvelous, and his conversation, when he poured this knowledge forth,
often took the form of a flowing narrative in an animated style. While
there are not, so far as I remember, any direct references in his two
volumes to these memories, or to memoranda of conversations which he
had with living actors after the close of the war drama, and while his
main authority is the Official Records of the Union and Confederate
Armies,--which, no one appreciated better than he, were unique
historical materials,--nevertheless this personal knowledge trained his
judgment and gave color to his narrative.

It is pretty clear that Thucydides spent a large part of a life of about
threescore years and ten in gathering materials and writing his history.
The mass of facts which he set down or stored away in his memory must
have been enormous. He was a man of business, and had a home in Thrace
as well as in Athens, traveling probably at fairly frequent intervals
between the two places; but the main portion of the first forty years of
his life was undoubtedly spent in Athens, where, during those glorious
years of peace and the process of beautifying the city, he received the
best education a man could get. To walk about the city and view the
buildings and statues was both directly and insensibly a refining
influence. As Thucydides himself, in the funeral oration of Pericles,
said of the works which the Athenian saw around him, "the daily delight
of them banishes gloom." There was the opportunity to talk with as good
conversers as the world has ever known; and he undoubtedly saw much of
the men who were making history. There was the great theater and the
sublime poetry. In a word, the life of Thucydides was adapted to the
gathering of a mass of historical materials of the best sort; and his
daily walk, his reading, his intense thought, gave him an intellectual
grasp of the facts he has so ably handled. Of course he was a genius,
and he wrote in an effective literary style; but seemingly his natural
parts and acquired talents are directed to this: a digestion of his
materials, and a compression of his narrative without taking the vigor
out of his story in a manner I believe to be without parallel. He
devoted a life to writing a volume. His years after the peace was
broken, his career as a general, his banishment and enforced residence
in Thrace, his visit to the countries of the Peloponnesian allies with
whom Athens was at war,--all these gave him a signal opportunity to
gather materials, and to assimilate them in the gathering. We may fancy
him looking at an alleged fact on all sides, and turning it over and
over in his mind; we know that he must have meditated long on ideas,
opinions, and events; and the result is a brief, pithy narrative.
Tradition hath it that Demosthenes copied out this history eight times,
or even learned it by heart. Chatham, urging the removal of the forces
from Boston, had reason to refer to the history of Greece, and, that he
might impress it upon the lords that he knew whereof he spoke, declared,
"I have read Thucydides."

Of Tacitus likewise is conciseness a well-known merit. Living in an age
of books and libraries, he drew more from the written word than did
Thucydides; and his method of working, therefore, resembled more our
own. These are common expressions of his: "It is related by most of the
writers of those times;" I adopt the account "in which the authors are
agreed;" this account "agrees with those of the other writers." Relating
a case of recklessness of vice in Messalina, he acknowledges that it
will appear fabulous, and asserts his truthfulness thus: "But I would
not dress up my narrative with fictions, to give it an air of marvel,
rather than relate what has been stated to me or written by my seniors."
He also speaks of the authority of tradition, and tells what he
remembers "to have heard from aged men." He will not paraphrase the
eloquence of Seneca after he had his veins opened, because the very
words of the philosopher had been published; but when, a little later,
Flavius the tribune came to die, the historian gives this report of his
defiance of Nero. "I hated you," the tribune said to the emperor; "nor
had you a soldier more true to you while you deserved to be loved. I
began to hate you from the time you showed yourself the impious murderer
of your mother and your wife, a charioteer, a stage-player, an
incendiary." "I have given the very words," Tacitus adds, "because they
were not, like those of Seneca, published, though the rough and vigorous
sentiments of a soldier ought to be no less known." Everywhere we see in
Tacitus, as in Thucydides, a dislike of superfluous detail, a closeness
of thought, a compression of language. He was likewise a man of affairs,
but his life work was his historical writings, which, had we all of
them, would fill probably four moderate-sized octavo volumes.

To sum up, then: Thucydides and Tacitus are superior to the historians
who have written in our century, because, by long reflection and
studious method, they have better digested their materials and
compressed their narrative. Unity in narration has been adhered to more
rigidly. They stick closer to their subject. They are not allured into
the fascinating bypaths of narration, which are so tempting to men who
have accumulated a mass of facts, incidents, and opinions. One reason
why Macaulay is so prolix is because he could not resist the temptation
to treat events which had a picturesque side and which were suited to
his literary style; so that, as John Morley says, "in many portions of
his too elaborated history of William III. he describes a large number
of events about which, I think, no sensible man can in the least care
either how they happened, or whether indeed they happened at all or
not." If I am right in my supposition that Thucydides and Tacitus had a
mass of materials, they showed reserve and discretion in throwing a
large part of them away, as not being necessary or important to the
posterity for which they were writing. This could only be the result of
a careful comparison of their materials, and of long meditation on their
relative value. I suspect that they cared little whether a set daily
task was accomplished or not; for if you propose to write only one large
volume or four moderate-sized volumes in a lifetime, art is not too long
nor is life too short.

Another superiority of the classical historians, as I reckon, arose from
the fact that they wrote what was practically contemporaneous history.
Herodotus was born 484 B.C., and the most important and accurate part of
his history is the account of the Persian invasion which took place four
years later. The case of Thucydides is more remarkable. Born in
471 B.C., he relates the events which happened between 435 and 411, when
he was between the ages of thirty-six and sixty. Tacitus, born in
52 A.D., covered with his Annals and History the years between 14 and
96. "Herodotus and Thucydides belong to an age in which the historian
draws from life and for life," writes Professor Jebb. It is manifestly
easier to describe a life you know than one you must imagine, which is
what you must do if you aim to relate events which took place before
your own and your father's time. In many treatises which have been
written demanding an extraordinary equipment for the historian, it is
generally insisted that he shall have a fine constructive imagination;
for how can he re-create his historic period unless he live in it? In
the same treatises it is asserted that contemporary history cannot be
written correctly, for impartiality in the treatment of events near at
hand is impossible. Therefore the canon requires the quality of a great
poet, and denies that there may be had the merit of a judge in a country
where there are no great poets, but where candid judges abound. Does
not the common rating of Thucydides and Tacitus refute the dictum that
history within the memory of men living cannot be written truthfully and
fairly? Given, then, the judicial mind, how much easier to write it! The
rare quality of a poet's imagination is no longer necessary, for your
boyhood recollections, your youthful experiences, your successes and
failures of manhood, the grandfather's tales, the parent's
recollections, the conversation in society,--all these put you in vital
touch with the life you seek to describe. These not only give color and
freshness to the vivifying of the facts you must find in the record, but
they are in a way materials themselves, not strictly authentic, but of
the kind that direct you in search and verification. Not only is no
extraordinary ability required to write contemporary history, but the
labor of the historian is lightened, and Dryasdust is no longer his sole
guide. The funeral oration of Pericles is pretty nearly what was
actually spoken, or else it is the substance of the speech written out
in the historian's own words. Its intensity of feeling and the fitting
of it so well into the situation indicate it to be a living
contemporaneous document, and at the same time it has that universal
application which we note in so many speeches of Shakespeare. A few
years after our Civil War, a lawyer in a city of the middle West, who
had been selected to deliver the Memorial Day oration, came to a friend
of his in despair because he could write nothing but the commonplaces
about those who had died for the Union and for the freedom of a race
which had been uttered many times before, and he asked for advice. "Take
the funeral oration of Pericles for a model," was the reply. "Use his
words where they will fit, and dress up the rest to suit our day." The
orator was surprised to find how much of the oration could be used
bodily, and how much, with adaptation, was germane to his subject. But
slight alterations are necessary to make the opening sentence this:
"Most of those who have spoken here have commended the law-giver who
added this oration to our other customs; it seemed to them a worthy
thing that such an honor should be given to the dead who have fallen on
the field of battle." In many places you may let the speech run on with
hardly a change. "In the face of death [these men] resolved to rely upon
themselves alone. And when the moment came they were minded to resist
and suffer rather than to fly and save their lives; they ran away from
the word of dishonor, but on the battlefield their feet stood fast; and
while for a moment they were in the hands of fortune, at the height, not
of terror, but of glory, they passed away. Such was the end of these
men; they were worthy of their country."

Consider for a moment, as the work of a contemporary, the book which
continues the account of the Sicilian expedition, and ends with the
disaster at Syracuse. "In the describing and reporting whereof,"
Plutarch writes, "Thucydides hath gone beyond himself, both for variety
and liveliness of narration, as also in choice and excellent words."
"There is no prose composition in the world," wrote Macaulay, "which I
place so high as the seventh book of Thucydides.... I was delighted to
find in Gray's letters, the other day, this query to Wharton: 'The
retreat from Syracuse,--is it or is it not the finest thing you ever
read in your life?'" In the Annals of Tacitus we have an account of part
of the reign of Emperor Nero, which is intense in its interest as the
picture of a state of society that would be incredible, did we not know
that our guide was a truthful man. One rises from a perusal of this with
the trite expression, "Truth is stranger than fiction;" and one need
only compare the account of Tacitus with the romance of Quo Vadis to be
convinced that true history is more interesting than a novel. One of
the most vivid impressions I ever had came immediately after reading the
story of Nero and Agrippina in Tacitus, from a view of the statue of
Agrippina in the National Museum at Naples.[2]

It will be worth our while now to sum up what I think may be established
with sufficient time and care. Natural ability being presupposed, the
qualities necessary for a historian are diligence, accuracy, love of
truth, impartiality, the thorough digestion of his materials by careful
selection and long meditating, and the compression of his narrative into
the smallest compass consistent with the life of his story. He must also
have a power of expression suitable for his purpose. All these
qualities, we have seen, were possessed by Thucydides and Tacitus; and
we have seen furthermore that, by bringing to bear these endowments and
acquirements upon contemporary history, their success has been greater
than it would have been had they treated a more distant period. Applying
these considerations to the writing of history in America, it would seem
that all we have to gain in method, in order that when the genius
appears he shall rival the great Greek and the great Roman, is thorough
assimilation of materials and rigorous conciseness in relation. I admit
that the two things we lack are difficult to get as our own. In the
collection of materials, in criticism and detailed analysis, in the
study of cause and effect, in applying the principle of growth, of
evolution, we certainly surpass the ancients. But if we live in the age
of Darwin, we also live in an age of newspapers and magazines, when, as
Lowell said, not only great events, but a vast "number of trivial
incidents, are now recorded, and this dust of time gets in our eyes";
when distractions are manifold; when the desire "to see one's name in
print" and make books takes possession of us all. If one has something
like an original idea or a fresh combination of truisms, one obtains
easily a hearing. The hearing once had, something of a success being
made, the writer is urged by magazine editors and by publishers for
more. The good side of this is apparent. It is certainly a wholesome
indication that a demand exists for many serious books, but the evil is
that one is pressed to publish his thoughts before he has them fully
matured. The periods of fruitful meditation out of which emerged the
works of Thucydides and Tacitus seem not to be a natural incident of our
time. To change slightly the meaning of Lowell, "the bustle of our lives
keeps breaking the thread of that attention which is the material of
memory, till no one has patience to spin from it a continuous thread of
thought." We have the defects of our qualities. Nevertheless, I am
struck with the likeness between a common attribute of the Greeks and
Matthew Arnold's characterization of the Americans. Greek thought, it is
said, goes straight to the mark, and penetrates like an arrow. The
Americans, Arnold wrote, "think straight and see clear." Greek life was
adapted to meditation. American quickness and habit of taking the short
cut to the goal make us averse to the patient and elaborate method of
the ancients. In manner of expression, however, we have improved. The
Fourth of July spread-eagle oration, not uncommon even in New England in
former days, would now be listened to hardly anywhere without merriment.
In a Lowell Institute lecture in 1855 Lowell said, "In modern times, the
desire for startling expression is so strong that people hardly think a
thought is good for anything unless it goes off with a _pop_, like a
ginger-beer cork." No one would thus characterize our present writing.
Between reserve in expression and reserve in thought there must be
interaction. We may hope, therefore, that the trend in the one will
become the trend in the other, and that we may look for as great
historians in the future as in the past. The Thucydides or Tacitus of
the future will write his history from the original materials, knowing
that there only will he find the living spirit; but he will have the
helps of the modern world. He will have at his hand monographs of
students whom the professors of history in our colleges are teaching
with diligence and wisdom, and he will accept these aids with
thankfulness in his laborious search. He will have grasped the
generalizations and methods of physical science, but he must know to the
bottom his Thucydides and Tacitus. He will recognize in Homer and
Shakespeare the great historians of human nature, and he will ever
attempt, although feeling that failure is certain, to wrest from them
their secret of narration, to acquire their art of portrayal of
character. He must be a man of the world, but equally well a man of the
academy. If, like Thucydides and Tacitus, the American historian chooses
the history of his own country as his field, he may infuse his
patriotism into his narrative. He will speak of the broad acres and
their products, the splendid industrial development due to the capacity
and energy of the captains of industry; but he will like to dwell on the
universities and colleges, on the great numbers seeking a higher
education, on the morality of the people, their purity of life, their
domestic happiness. He will never be weary of referring to Washington
and Lincoln, feeling that a country with such exemplars is indeed one to
awaken envy, and he will not forget the brave souls who followed where
they led. I like to think of the Memorial Day orator, speaking thirty
years ago with his mind full of the Civil War and our Revolution, giving
utterance to these noble words of Pericles: "I would have you day by
day fix your eyes upon the greatness of your country, until you become
filled with love of her; and when you are impressed by the spectacle of
her glory, reflect that this empire has been acquired by men who knew
their duty and had the courage to do it; who in the hour of conflict had
the fear of dishonor always present to them; and who, if ever they
failed in an enterprise, would not allow their virtues to be lost to
their country, but freely gave their lives to her as the fairest
offering which they could present at her feast. They received each one
for himself a praise which grows not old, and the noblest of all
sepulchers. For the whole earth is the sepulcher of illustrious men; not
only are they commemorated by columns and inscriptions in their own
country, but in foreign lands there dwells also an unwritten memorial of
them, graven not on stone, but in the hearts of men."

    [1] President's Inaugural Address, American Historical Association,
        Boston, December 27, 1899; printed in the Atlantic Monthly of
        February, 1900.

    [2] Since this essay was first printed I have seen the authenticity
        of this portrait statue questioned.


Address delivered at the Meeting of the American Historical Association
in Detroit, December, 1900.


Called on at the last moment, owing to the illness of Mr. Eggleston, to
take the place of one whose absence can never be fully compensated, I
present to you a paper on the writing of history. It is in a way a
continuance of my inaugural address before this association one year
ago, and despite the continuity of the thought I have endeavored to
treat the same subject from a different point of view. While going over
the same ground and drawing my lessons from the same historians, it is
new matter so far as I have had the honor to present it to the American
Historical Association.

A historian, to make a mark, must show some originality somewhere in his
work. The originality may be in a method of investigation; it may be in
the use of some hitherto inaccessible or unprinted material; it may be
in the employment of some sources of information open to everybody, but
not before used, or it may be in a fresh combination of well-known and
well-elaborated facts. It is this last-named feature that leads Mr.
Winsor to say, in speaking of the different views that may be honestly
maintained from working over the same material, "The study of history is
perennial." I think I can make my meaning clearer as to the originality
one should try to infuse into historical work by drawing an illustration
from the advice of a literary man as to the art of writing. Charles
Dudley Warner once said to me, "Every one who writes should have
something to add to the world's stock of knowledge or literary
expression. If he falls unconsciously into imitation or quotation, he
takes away from his originality. No matter if some great writer has
expressed the thought in better language than you can use, if you take
his words you detract from your own originality. Express your thought
feebly in your own way rather than with strength by borrowing the words
of another."

This same principle in the art of authorship may be applied to the art
of writing history. "Follow your own star," said Emerson, "and it will
lead you to that which none other can attain. Imitation is suicide. You
must take yourself for better or worse as your own portion." Any one who
is bent upon writing history, may be sure that there is in him some
originality, that he can add something to the knowledge of some period.
Let him give himself to meditation, to searching out what epoch and what
kind of treatment of that epoch is best adapted to his powers and to his
training. I mean not only the collegiate training, but the sort of
training one gets consciously or unconsciously from the very
circumstances of one's life. In the persistence of thinking, his subject
will flash upon him. Parkman, said Lowell, showed genius in the choice
of his subject. The recent biography of Parkman emphasizes the idea
which we get from his works--that only a man who lived in the virgin
forests of this country and loved them, and who had traveled in the far
West as a pioneer, with Indians for companions, could have done that
work. Parkman's experience cannot be had by any one again, and he
brought to bear the wealth of it in that fifty years' occupation of his.
Critics of exact knowledge--such as Justin Winsor, for instance--find
limitations in Parkman's books that may impair the permanence of his
fame, but I suspect that his is the only work in American history that
cannot and will not be written over again. The reason of it is that he
had a unique life which has permeated his narrative, giving it the stamp
of originality. No man whose training had been gained wholly in the best
schools of Germany, France, or England could have written those books. A
training racy of the soil was needed. "A practical knowledge," wrote
Niebuhr, "must support historical jurisprudence, and if any one has got
that he can easily master all scholastic speculations." A man's
knowledge of everyday life in some way fits him for a certain field of
historical study--in that field lies success. In seeking a period, no
American need confine himself to his own country. "European history for
Americans," said Motley, "has to be almost entirely rewritten."

I shall touch upon only two of the headings of historical originality
which I have mentioned. The first that I shall speak of is the
employment of some sources of information open to everybody, but not
before used. A significant case of this in American history is the use
which Doctor von Holst made of newspaper material. _Niles's Register_, a
lot of newspaper cuttings, as well as speeches and state papers in a
compact form, had, of course, been referred to by many writers who dealt
with the period they covered, but in the part of his history covering
the ten years from 1850 to 1860 von Holst made an extensive and varied
employment of newspapers by studying the newspaper files themselves. As
the aim of history is truth, and as newspapers fail sadly in accuracy,
it is not surprising that many historical students believe that the
examination of newspapers for any given period will not pay for the
labor and drudgery involved; but the fact that a trained German
historical scholar and teacher at a German university should have found
some truth in our newspaper files when he came to write the history of
our own country, gives to their use for that period the seal of
scientific approval. Doctor von Holst used this material with pertinence
and effect; his touch was nice. I used to wonder at his knowledge of the
newspaper world, of the men who made and wrote our journals, until he
told me that when he first came to this country one of his methods in
gaining a knowledge of English was to read the advertisements in the
newspapers. Reflection will show one what a picture of the life of a
people this must be, in addition to the news columns.

No one, of course, will go to newspapers for facts if he can find those
facts in better-attested documents. The haste with which the daily
records of the world's doings are made up precludes sifting and
revision. Yet in the decade between 1850 and 1860 you will find facts in
the newspapers which are nowhere else set down. Public men of commanding
position were fond of writing letters to the journals with a view to
influencing public sentiment. These letters in the newspapers are as
valuable historical material as if they were carefully collected,
edited, and published in the form of books. Speeches were made which
must be read, and which will be found nowhere but in the journals. The
immortal debates of Lincoln and Douglas in 1858 were never put into a
book until 1860, existing previously only in newspaper print. Newspapers
are sometimes important in fixing a date and in establishing the
whereabouts of a man. If, for example, a writer draws a fruitful
inference from the alleged fact that President Lincoln went to see Edwin
Booth play Hamlet in Washington in February, 1863, and if one finds by a
consultation of the newspaper theatrical advertisements that Edwin Booth
did not visit Washington during that month, the significance of the
inference is destroyed. Lincoln paid General Scott a memorable visit at
West Point in June, 1862. You may, if I remember correctly, search the
books in vain to get at the exact date of this visit; but turn to the
newspaper files and you find that the President left Washington at such
an hour on such a day, arrived at Jersey City at a stated time, and made
the transfer to the other railroad which took him to the station
opposite West Point. The time of his leaving West Point and the hour of
his return to Washington are also given.

The value of newspapers as an indication of public sentiment is
sometimes questioned, but it can hardly be doubted that the average man
will read the newspaper with the sentiments of which he agrees. "I
inquired about newspaper opinion," said Joseph Chamberlain in the House
of Commons last May. "I knew no other way of getting at popular
opinion." During the years between 1854 and 1860 the daily journals were
a pretty good reflection of public sentiment in the United States.
Wherever, for instance, you found the _New York Weekly Tribune_ largely
read, Republican majorities were sure to be had when election day came.
For fact and for opinion, if you knew the contributors, statements and
editorials by them were entitled to as much weight as similar public
expressions in any other form. You get to know Greeley and you learn to
recognize his style. Now, an editorial from him is proper historical
material, taking into account always the circumstances under which he
wrote. The same may be said of Dana and of Hildreth, both editorial
writers for the _Tribune_, and of the Washington despatches of J. S.
Pike. It is interesting to compare the public letters of Greeley to the
_Tribune_ from Washington in 1856 with his private letters written at
the same time to Dana. There are no misstatements in the public letters,
but there is a suppression of the truth. The explanations in the private
correspondence are clearer, and you need them to know fully how affairs
looked in Washington to Greeley at the time; but this fact by no means
detracts from the value of the public letters as historical material. I
have found newspapers of greater value both for fact and opinion during
the decade of 1850 to 1860 than for the period of the Civil War. A
comparison of the newspaper accounts of battles with the history of them
which may be drawn from the correspondence and reports in the Official
Records of the War of the Rebellion will show how inaccurate and
misleading was the war correspondence of the daily journals. It could
not well be otherwise. The correspondent was obliged in haste to write
the story of a battle of which he saw but a small section, and instead
of telling the little part which he knew actually, he had to give to a
public greedy for news a complete survey of the whole battlefield. This
story was too often colored by his liking or aversion for the generals
in command. A study of the confidential historical material of the Civil
War, apart from the military operations, in comparison with the
journalistic accounts, gives one a higher idea of the accuracy and
shrewdness of the newspaper correspondents. Few important things were
brewing at Washington of which they did not get an inkling. But I always
like to think of two signal exceptions. Nothing ever leaked out in
regard to the famous "Thoughts for the President's consideration," which
Seward submitted to Lincoln in March, 1861, and only very incorrect
guesses of the President's first emancipation proclamation, brought
before his Cabinet in July, 1862, got into newspaper print.

Beware of hasty, strained, and imperfect generalizations. A historian
should always remember that he is a sort of trustee for his readers. No
matter how copious may be his notes, he cannot fully explain his
processes or the reason of his confidence in one witness and not in
another, his belief in one honest man against a half dozen untrustworthy
men, without such prolixity as to make a general history unreadable.
Now, in this position as trustee he is bound to assert nothing for which
he has not evidence, as much as an executor of a will or the trustee for
widows and orphans is obligated to render a correct account of the
moneys in his possession. For this reason Grote has said, "An historian
is bound to produce the materials upon which he builds, be they never so
fantastic, absurd, or incredible." Hence the necessity for footnotes.
While mere illustrative and interesting footnotes are perhaps to be
avoided, on account of their redundancy, those which give authority for
the statements in the text can never be in excess. Many good histories
have undoubtedly been published where the authors have not printed their
footnotes; but they must have had, nevertheless, precise records for
their authorities. The advantage and necessity of printing the notes is
that you furnish your critic an opportunity of finding you out if you
have mistaken or strained your authorities. Bancroft's example is
peculiar. In his earlier volumes he used footnotes, but in volume vii he
changed his plan and omitted notes, whether of reference or explanation.
Nor do you find them in either of his carefully revised editions. "This
is done," Bancroft wrote in the preface to his seventh volume, "not from
an unwillingness to subject every statement of fact, even in its
minutest details, to the severest scrutiny; but from the variety and the
multitude of the papers which have been used and which could not be
intelligently cited without a disproportionate commentary." Again,
Blaine's "Twenty Years of Congress," a work which, properly weighed, is
not without historical value, is only to be read with great care on
account of his hasty and inaccurate generalizations. There are evidences
of good, honest labor in those two volumes, much of which must have been
done by himself. There is an aim at truth and impartiality, but many of
his general statements will seem, to any one who has gone over the
original material, to rest on a slight basis. If Blaine had felt the
necessity of giving authorities in a footnote for every statement about
which there might have been a question, he certainly would have written
an entirely different sort of a book.

My other head is the originality which comes from a fresh combination of
known historical facts.

I do not now call to mind any more notable chapter which illustrates
this than the chapter of Curtius, "The years of peace." One is perhaps
better adapted for the keen enjoyment of it if he does not know the
original material, for his suspicion that some of the inferences are
strained and unwarranted might become a certainty. But accepting it as a
mature and honest elaboration by one of the greatest historians of
Greece of our day, it is a sample of the vivifying of dry bones and of a
dovetailing of facts and ideas that makes a narrative to charm and
instruct. You feel that the spirit of that age we all like to think and
dream about is there, and if you have been so fortunate as to visit the
Athens of to-day, that chapter, so great is the author's constructive
imagination, carries you back and makes you for the moment live in the
Athens of Pericles, of Sophocles, of Phidias and Herodotus.

With the abundance of materials for modern history, and, for that
reason, our tendency to diffuseness, nothing is so important as a
thorough acquaintance with the best classic models, such as Herodotus,
Thucydides, and Tacitus. In Herodotus you have an example of an
interesting story with the unity of the narrative well sustained in
spite of certain unnecessary digressions. His book is obviously a life
work and the work of a man who had an extensive knowledge gained by
reading, social intercourse, and travel, and who brought his knowledge
to bear upon his chosen task. That the history is interesting all admit,
but in different periods of criticism stress is sometimes laid on the
untrustworthy character of the narrative, with the result that there has
been danger of striking Herodotus from the list of historical models;
but such is the merit of his work that the Herodotus cult again revives,
and, I take it, is now at its height. I received, six years ago, while
in Egypt, a vivid impression of him whom we used to style the Father of
History. Spending one day at the great Pyramids, when, after I had
satisfied my first curiosity, after I had filled my eyes and mind with
the novelty of the spectacle, I found nothing so gratifying to the
historic sense as to gaze on those most wonderful monuments of human
industry, constructed certainly 5000 years ago, and to read at the same
time the account that Herodotus gave of his visit there about 2350 years
before the date of my own. That same night I read in a modern and garish
Cairo hotel the current number of the _London Times_. In it was an
account of an annual meeting of the Royal Historical Society and a
report of a formal and carefully prepared address of its president,
whose subject was "Herodotus," whose aim was to point out the value of
the Greek writer as a model to modern historians. The _Times_, for the
moment laying aside its habitual attack on the then Liberal government,
devoted its main leader to Herodotus--to his merits and the lessons he
conveyed to the European writers. The article was a remarkable blending
of scholarship and good sense, and I ended the day with the reflection
of what a space in the world's history Herodotus filled, himself
describing the work of twenty-six hundred years before his own time and
being dilated on in 1894 by one of the most modern of nineteenth-century

It is generally agreed, I think, that Thucydides is first in order of
time of philosophic historians, but it does not seem to me that we have
most to learn from him in the philosophic quality. The tracing of cause
and effect, the orderly sequence of events, is certainly better
developed by moderns than it has been by ancients. The influence of
Darwin and the support and proof which he gives to the doctrine of
evolution furnish a training of thought which was impossible to the
ancients; but Thucydides has digested his material and compressed his
narrative without taking the life out of his story in a manner to make
us despair, and this does not, I take it, come from paucity of
materials. A test which I began to make as a study in style has helped
me in estimating the solidity of a writer. Washington Irving formed his
style by reading attentively from time to time a page of Addison and
then, closing the book, endeavored to write out the same ideas in his
own words. In this way his style became assimilated to that of the great
English essayist. I have tried the same mode with several writers. I
found that the plan succeeded with Macaulay and with Lecky. I tried it
again and again with Shakespeare and Hawthorne, but if I succeeded in
writing out the paragraph I found that it was because I memorized their
very words. To write out their ideas in my own language I found
impossible. I have had the same result with Thucydides in trying to do
this with his description of the plague in Athens. Now, I reason from
this in the case of Shakespeare and Thucydides that their thought was so
concise they themselves got rid of all redundancies; hence to effect the
reproduction of their ideas in any but their own language is practically

It is related of Macaulay somewhere in his "Life and Letters," that in a
moment of despair, when he instituted a comparison between his
manuscript and the work of Thucydides, he thought of throwing his into
the fire. I suspect that Macaulay had not the knack of discarding
material on which he had spent time and effort, seeing how easily such
events glowed under his graphic pen. This is one reason why he is prolix
in the last three volumes. The first two, which begin with the famous
introductory chapter and continue the story through the revolution of
1688 to the accession of William and Mary, seem to me models of
historical composition so far as arrangement, orderly method, and
liveliness of narration go. Another defect of Macaulay is that, while he
was an omnivorous reader and had a prodigious memory, he was not given
to long-continued and profound reflection. He read and rehearsed his
reading in memory, but he did not give himself to "deep, abstract
meditation" and did not surrender himself to "the fruitful leisures of
the spirit." Take this instance of Macaulay's account of a journey: "The
express train reached Hollyhead about 7 in the evening. I read between
London and Bangor the lives of the emperors from Maximin to Carinus,
inclusive, in the Augustine history, and was greatly amused and
interested." On board the steamer: "I put on my greatcoat and sat on
deck during the whole voyage. As I could not read, I used an excellent
substitute for reading. I went through 'Paradise Lost' in my head. I
could still repeat half of it, and that the best half. I really never
enjoyed it so much." In Dublin: "The rain was so heavy that I was forced
to come back in a covered car. While in this detestable vehicle I looked
rapidly through the correspondence between Pliny and Trajan and thought
that Trajan made a most creditable figure." It may be that Macaulay did
not always digest his knowledge well. Yet in reading his "Life and
Letters" you know that you are in company with a man who read many
books and you give faith to Thackeray's remark, "Macaulay reads twenty
books to write a sentence; he travels a hundred miles to make a line of
description." It is a matter of regret that the progress of historical
criticism and the scientific teaching of history have had the tendency
to drive Macaulay out of the fashion with students, and I know not
whether the good we used to get out of him thirty-five years ago can now
be got from other sources. For I seem to miss something that we
historical students had a generation ago--and that is enthusiasm for the
subject. The enthusiasm that we had then had--the desire to compass all
knowledge, the wish to gather the fruits of learning and lay them
devoutly at the feet of our chosen muse--this enthusiasm we owed to
Macaulay and to Buckle. Quite properly, no one reads Buckle now, and I
cannot gainsay what John Morley said of Macaulay: "Macaulay seeks truth,
not as she should be sought, devoutly, tentatively, with the air of one
touching the hem of a sacred garment, but clutching her by the hair of
the head and dragging her after him in a kind of boisterous triumph, a
prisoner of war and not a goddess." It is, nevertheless, true that
Macaulay and Buckle imparted a new interest to history.

I have spoken of the impression we get of Macaulay through reading his
"Life and Letters." Of Carlyle, in reading the remarkable biography of
him, we get the notion of a great thinker as well as a great reader. He
was not as keen and diligent in the pursuit of material as Macaulay. He
did not like to work in libraries; he wanted every book he used in his
own study--padded as it was against the noises which drove him wild. H.
Morse Stephens relates that Carlyle would not use a collection of
documents relating to the French Revolution in the British Museum for
the reason that the museum authorities would not have a private room
reserved for him where he might study. Rather than work in a room with
other people, he neglected this valuable material. But Carlyle has
certainly digested and used his material well. His "French Revolution"
seems to approach the historical works of the classics in there being so
much in a little space. "With the gift of song," Lowell said, "Carlyle
would have been the greatest of epic poets since Homer;" and he also
wrote, Carlyle's historical compositions are no more history than the
historical plays of Shakespeare.

The contention between the scientific historians and those who hold to
the old models is interesting and profitable. One may enjoy the
controversy and derive benefit from it without taking sides. I suspect
that there is truth in the view of both. We may be sure that the
long-continued study and approval by scholars of many ages of the works
of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Tacitus implies historical merit on their
part in addition to literary art. It is, however, interesting to note
the profound difference between President Woolsey's opinion of
Thucydides and that of some of his late German critics. Woolsey said, "I
have such confidence in the absolute truthfulness of Thucydides that
were he really chargeable with folly, as Grote alleges [in the affair of
Amphipolis], I believe he would have avowed it." On the other hand, a
German critic, cited by Holm, says that Thucydides is a poet who invents
facts partly in order to teach people how things ought to be done and
partly because he liked to depict certain scenes of horror. He says
further, a narrative of certain occurrences is so full of
impossibilities that it must be pure invention on the part of the
historian. Another German maintains that Thucydides has indulged in "a
fanciful and half-romantic picture of events." But Holm, whom the
scientific historians claim as one of their own, says, "Thucydides
still remains a trustworthy historical authority;" and, "On the whole,
therefore, the old view that he is a truthful writer is not in the least
shaken." Again Holm writes: "Attempts have been made to convict
Thucydides of serious inaccuracies, but without success. On the other
hand, the writer of this work [that is, the scientific historian, Holm]
is able to state that he has followed him topographically for the
greater part of the sixth and seventh books--and consequently for nearly
one fourth of the whole history--and has found that the more carefully
his words are weighed and the more accurately the ground is studied the
clearer both the text and events become, and this is certainly high
praise." Holm and Percy Gardner, both of whom have the modern method and
have studied diligently the historical evidence from coins and
inscriptions, placed great reliance on Herodotus, who, as well as
Thucydides and Tacitus, is taken by scholars as a model of historical

The sifting of time settles the reputations of historians. Of the
English of the eighteenth century only one historian has come down to us
as worthy of serious study. Time is wasted in reading Hume and Robertson
as models, and no one goes to them for facts. But thirty years ago no
course of historical reading was complete without Hume. In this century
the sifting process still goes on. One loses little by not reading
Alison's "History of Europe." But he was much in vogue in the '50's.
_Harper's Magazine_ published a part of his history as a serial. His
rounded periods and bombastic utterances were quoted with delight by
those who thought that history was not history unless it was bombastic.
Emerson says somewhere, "Avoid adjectives; let your nouns do the work."
There was hardly a sentence in Alison which did not traverse this rule.
One of his admirers told me that the great merit of his style was his
choiceness and aptness in his use of adjectives. It is a style which now
provokes merriment, and even had Alison been learned and impartial, and
had he possessed a good method, his style for the present taste would
have killed his book. Gibbon is sometimes called pompous, but place him
by the side of Alison and what one may have previously called
pompousness one now calls dignity.

Two of the literary historians of our century survive--Carlyle and
Macaulay. They may be read with care. We may do as Cassius said Brutus
did to him, observe all their faults, set them in a note-book, learn and
con them by rote; nevertheless we shall get good from them. Oscar
Browning said--I am quoting H. Morse Stephens again--of Carlyle's
description of the flight of the king to Varennes, that in every one of
his details where a writer could go wrong, Carlyle had gone wrong; but
added that, although all the details were wrong, Carlyle's account is
essentially accurate. No defense, I think, can be made of Carlyle's
statement that Marat was a "blear-eyed dog leach," nor of those
statements from which you get the distinct impression that the
complexion of Robespierre was green; nevertheless, every one who studies
the French Revolution reads Carlyle, and he is read because the reading
is profitable. The battle descriptions in Carlyle's "Frederick the
Great" are well worth reading. How refreshing they are after technical
descriptions! Carlyle said once, "Battles since Homer's time, when they
were nothing but fighting mobs, have ceased to be worth reading about,"
but he made the modern battle interesting.

Macaulay is an honest partisan. You learn very soon how to take him, and
when distrust begins one has correctives in Gardiner and Ranke. Froude
is much more dangerous. His splendid narrative style does not compensate
for his inaccuracies. Langlois makes an apt quotation from Froude. "We
saw," says Froude, of the city of Adelaide, in Australia, "below us in a
basin, with the river winding through it, a city of 150,000 inhabitants,
none of whom has ever known or ever will know one moment's anxiety as to
the recurring regularity of three meals a day." Now for the facts.
Langlois says: "Adelaide is built on an eminence; no river runs through
it. When Froude visited it the population did not exceed 75,000, and it
was suffering from a famine at the time." Froude was curious in his
inaccuracies. He furnished the data which convict him of error. He
quoted inaccurately the Simancas manuscripts and deposited correct
copies in the British Museum. Carlyle and Macaulay are honest partisans
and you know how to take them, but for constitutional inaccuracy such as
Froude's no allowance can be made.

Perhaps it may be said of Green that he combines the merits of the
scientific and literary historian. He has written an honest and artistic
piece of work. But he is not infallible. I have been told on good
authority that in his reference to the Thirty Years' War he has hardly
stated a single fact correctly, yet the general impression you get from
his account is correct. Saintsbury writes that Green has "out-Macaulayed
Macaulay in reckless abuse" of Dryden. Stubbs and Gardiner are
preëminently the scientific historians of England. Of Stubbs, from
actual knowledge, I regret that I cannot speak, but the reputation he
has among historical experts is positive proof of his great value. Of
Gardiner I can speak with knowledge. Any one who desires to write
history will do well to read every line Gardiner has written--not the
text alone, but also the notes. It is an admirable study in method which
will bear important fruit. But because Gibbon, Gardiner, and Stubbs
should be one's chief reliance, it does not follow that one may neglect
Macaulay, Carlyle, Tacitus, Thucydides, and Herodotus. Gardiner himself
has learned much from Macaulay and Carlyle. All of them may be
criticised on one point or another, but they all have lessons for us.

We shall all agree that the aim of history is to get at the truth and
express it as clearly as possible. The differences crop out when we
begin to elaborate our meaning. "This I regard as the historian's
highest function," writes Tacitus, "to let no worthy action be
uncommemorated, and to hold out the reprobation of posterity as a terror
to evil words and deeds;" while Langlois and the majority of the
scholars of Oxford are of the opinion that the formation and expression
of ethical judgments, the approval or condemnation of Julius Cæsar or of
Cæsar Borgia is not a thing within the historian's province. Let the
controversy go on! It is well worth one's while to read the
presentations of the subject from the different points of view. But
infallibility will nowhere be found. Mommsen and Curtius in their
detailed investigations received applause from those who adhered rigidly
to the scientific view of history, but when they addressed the public in
their endeavor, it is said, to produce an effect upon it, they relaxed
their scientific rigor; hence such a chapter as Curtius's "The years of
peace," and in another place his transmuting a conjecture of Grote into
an assertion; hence Mommsen's effusive panegyric of Cæsar. If Mommsen
did depart from the scientific rules, I suspect that it came from no
desire of a popular success, but rather from the enthusiasm of much
learning. The examples of Curtius and Mommsen show probably that such a
departure from strict impartiality is inherent in the writing of general
history, and it comes, I take it, naturally and unconsciously. Holm is a
scientific historian, but on the Persian Invasion he writes: "I have
followed Herodotus in many passages which are unauthenticated and
probably even untrue, because he reproduces the popular traditions of
the Greeks." And again: "History in the main ought only to be a record
of facts, but now and then the historian may be allowed to display a
certain interest in his subject." These expressions traverse the canons
of scientific history as much as the sayings of the ancient
historiographers themselves. But because men have warm sympathies that
cause them to color their narratives, shall no more general histories be
written? Shall history be confined to the printing of original documents
and to the publication of learned monographs in which the discussion of
authorities is mixed up with the relation of events? The proper mental
attitude of the general historian is to take no thought of popularity.
The remark of Macaulay that he would make his history take the place of
the last novel on my lady's table is not scientific. The audience which
the general historian should have in mind is that of historical
experts--men who are devoting their lives to the study of history. Words
of approval from them are worth more than any popular recognition, for
theirs is the enduring praise. Their criticism should be respected;
there should be unceasing effort to avoid giving them cause for
fault-finding. No labor should be despised which shall enable one to
present things just as they are. Our endeavor should be to think
straight and see clear. An incident should not be related on
insufficient evidence because it is interesting, but an affair well
attested should not be discarded because it happens to have a human
interest. I feel quite sure that the cardinal aim of Gardiner was to be
accurate and to proportion his story well. In this he has succeeded; but
it is no drawback that he has made his volumes interesting. Jacob D.
Cox, who added to other accomplishments that of being learned in the
law, and who looked upon Gardiner with such reverence that he called him
the Chief Justice, said there was no reason why he should read novels,
as he found Gardiner's history more interesting than any romance. The
scientific historians have not revolutionized historical methods, but
they have added much. The process of accretion has been going on since,
at any rate, the time of Herodotus, and the canons for weighing evidence
and the synthesis of materials are better understood now than ever
before, for they have been reduced from many models. I feel sure that
there has been a growth in candor. Compare the critical note to a later
edition which Macaulay wrote in 1857, maintaining the truth of his
charge against William Penn, with the manly way in which Gardiner owns
up when an error or insufficient evidence for a statement is pointed
out. It is the ethics of the profession to be forward in correcting
errors. The difference between the old and the new lies in the desire to
have men think you are infallible and the desire to be accurate.


Lecture read before the History Club of Harvard University, April 27,
1908, and at Yale, Columbia, and Western Reserve Universities.


I am assuming that among my audience there are some students who aspire
to become historians. To these especially my discourse is addressed.

It is not to be expected that I should speak positively and in detail on
matters of education. Nevertheless, a man of sixty who has devoted the
better part of his life to reading, observation, and reflection must
have gained, if only through a perception of his own deficiencies, some
ideas that should be useful to those who have, life's experience before
them. Hence, if a Freshman should say to me, I wish to be a historian,
tell me what preliminary studies you would advise, I should welcome the
opportunity. From the nature of the case, the history courses will be
sought and studied in their logical order and my advice will have to do
only with collateral branches of learning.

In the first place, I esteem a knowledge of Latin and French of the
highest importance. By a knowledge of French, I mean that you should be
able to read it substantially as well as you read English, so that when
you have recourse to a dictionary it will be a French dictionary and not
one of the French-English kind. The historical and other literature that
is thus opened up to you enables you to live in another world, with a
point of view impossible to one who reads for pleasure only in his own
tongue. To take two instances: Molière is a complement to Shakespeare,
and the man who knows his Molière as he does his Shakespeare has made a
propitious beginning in that study of human character which must be
understood if he desires to write a history that shall gain readers. "I
have known and loved Molière," said Goethe, "from my youth and have
learned from him during my whole life. I never fail to read some of his
plays every year, that I may keep up a constant intercourse with what is
excellent. It is not merely the perfectly artistic treatment which
delights me; but particularly the amiable nature, the highly formed mind
of the poet. There is in him a grace and a feeling for the decorous, and
a tone of good society, which his innate beautiful nature could only
attain by daily intercourse with the most eminent men of his age."[3]

My other instance is Balzac. In reading him for pleasure, as you read
Dickens and Thackeray, you are absorbing an exact and fruitful knowledge
of French society of the Restoration and of Louis Philippe. Moreover you
are still pursuing your study of human character under one of the acute
critics of the nineteenth century. Balzac has always seemed to me
peculiarly French, his characters belong essentially to Paris or to the
provinces. I associate Eugénie Grandet with Saumur in the Touraine and
César Birotteau with the Rue St. Honoré in Paris; and all his other men
and women move naturally in the great city or in the provinces which he
has given them for their home. A devoted admirer however tells me that
in his opinion Balzac has created universal types; the counterpart of
some of his men may be seen in the business and social world of Boston,
and the peculiarly sharp and dishonest transaction which brought César
Birotteau to financial ruin was here exactly reproduced.

The French language and literature seem to possess the merits which ours
lack; and the writer of history cannot afford to miss the lessons he
will receive by a constant reading of the best French prose.

I do not ask the Freshman who is going to be a historian to realize
Macaulay's ideal of a scholar, to "read Plato with his feet on the
fender,"[4] but he should at least acquire a pretty thorough knowledge
of classical Latin, so that he can read Latin, let me say, as many of us
read German, that is with the use of a lexicon and the occasional
translation of a sentence or a paragraph into English to arrive at its
exact meaning. Of this, I can speak from the point of view of one who is
deficient. The reading of Latin has been for me a grinding labor and I
would have liked to read with pleasure in the original, the History and
Annals of Tacitus, Cæsar's Gallic and Civil wars and Cicero's Orations
and Private Letters even to the point of following Macaulay's advice,
"Soak your mind with Cicero."[4] These would have given me, I fancy, a
more vivid impression of two periods of Roman history than I now
possess. Ferrero, who is imparting a fresh interest to the last period
of the Roman republic, owes a part of his success, I think, to his
thorough digestion and effective use of Cicero's letters, which have the
faculty of making one acquainted with Cicero just as if he were a modern
man. During a sojourn on the shores of Lake Geneva, I read two volumes
of Voltaire's private correspondence, and later, while passing the
winter in Rome, the four volumes of Cicero's letters in French. I could
not help thinking that in the republic of letters one was not in time at
a far greater distance from Cicero than from Voltaire. While the
impression of nearness may have come from reading both series of letters
in French, or because, to use John Morley's words, "two of the most
perfect masters of the art of letter writing were Cicero and
Voltaire,"[5] there is a decided flavor of the nineteenth century in
Cicero's words to a good liver whom he is going to visit. "You must not
reckon," he wrote, "on my eating your hors d'oeuvre. I have given them
up entirely. The time has gone by when I can abuse my stomach with your
olives and your Lucanian sausages."[6]

To repeat then, if the student, who is going to be a historian, uses his
acquisitive years in obtaining a thorough knowledge of French and Latin,
he will afterwards be spared useless regrets. He will naturally add
German for the purpose of general culture and, if languages come easy,
perhaps Greek. "Who is not acquainted with another language," said
Goethe, "knows not his own." A thorough knowledge of Latin and French is
a long stride towards an efficient mastery of English. In the matter of
diction, the English writer is rarely in doubt as to words of
Anglo-Saxon origin, for these are deep-rooted in his childhood and his
choice is generally instinctive. The difficulties most persistently
besetting him concern words that come from the Latin or the French; and
here he must use reason or the dictionary or both. The author who has a
thorough knowledge of Latin and French will argue with himself as to the
correct diction, will follow Emerson's advice, "Know words
etymologically; pull them apart; see how they are made; and use them
only where they fit."[7] As it is in action through life, so it is in
writing; the conclusions arrived at by reason are apt to be more
valuable than those which we accept on authority. The reasoned literary
style is more virile than that based on the dictionary. A judgment
arrived at by argument sticks in the memory, while it is necessary for
the user of the dictionary constantly to invoke authority, so that the
writer who reasons out the meaning of words may constantly accelerate
his pace, for the doubt and decision of yesterday is to-day a solid
acquirement, ingrained in his mental being. I have lately been reading a
good deal of Gibbon and I cannot imagine his having had frequent
recourse to a dictionary. I do not remember even an allusion either in
his autobiographies or in his private letters to any such aid.
Undoubtedly his thorough knowledge of Latin and French, his vast reading
of Latin, French, and English books, enabled him to dispense with the
thumbing of a dictionary and there was probably a reasoning process at
the back of every important word. It is difficult, if not impossible, to
improve on Gibbon by the substitution of one word for another.

A rather large reading of Sainte-Beuve gives me the same impression.
Indeed his literary fecundity, the necessity of having the Causerie
ready for each Monday's issue of the _Constitutionnel_ or the
_Moniteur_, precluded a study of words while composing, and his rapid
and correct writing was undoubtedly due to the training obtained by the
process of reasoning. Charles Sumner seems to be an exception to my
general rule. Although presumably he knew Latin well, he was a slave to
dictionaries. He generally had five at his elbow (Johnson, Webster,
Worcester, Walker, and Pickering) and when in doubt as to the use of a
word he consulted all five and let the matter be decided on the American
democratic principle of majority rule.[8] Perhaps this is one cause of
the stilted and artificial character of Sumner's speeches which, unlike
Daniel Webster's, are not to be thought of as literature. One does not
associate dictionaries with Webster. Thus had I written the sentence
without thinking of a not infrequent confusion between Noah and Daniel
Webster, and this confusion reminded me of a story which John Fiske
used to tell with gusto and which some of you may not have heard. An
English gentleman remarked to an American: "What a giant intellect that
Webster of yours had! To think of so great an orator and statesman
writing that dictionary! But I felt sure that one who towered so much
above his fellows would come to a bad end and I was not a bit surprised
to learn that he had been hanged for the murder of Dr. Parkman."

To return to my theme: One does not associate dictionaries with Daniel
Webster. He was given to preparing his speeches in the solitudes of
nature, and his first Bunker Hill oration, delivered in 1825, was mainly
composed while wading in a trout stream and desultorily fishing for
trout.[9] Joe Jefferson, who loved fishing as well as Webster, used to
say, "The trout is a gentleman and must be treated as such." Webster's
companion might have believed that some such thought as this was passing
through the mind of the great Daniel as, standing middle deep in the
stream, he uttered these sonorous words: "Venerable men! You have come
down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened
out your lives that you might behold this joyous day." I think Daniel
Webster for the most part reasoned out his choice of words; he left the
dictionary work to others. After delivery, he threw down the manuscript
of his eulogy on Adams and Jefferson and said to a student in his law
office, "There, Tom, please to take that discourse and weed out the
Latin words."[10]

When doubtful as to the use of words, I should have been helped by a
better knowledge of Latin and enabled very often to write with a surer
touch. Though compelled to resort frequently to the dictionary, I early
learned to pay little attention to the definition but to regard with
care the illustrative meaning in the citations from standard authors.
When I began writing I used the Imperial Dictionary, an improvement over
Webster in this respect. Soon the Century Dictionary began to appear,
and best of all the New English Dictionary on historical principles
edited by Murray and Bradley and published by the Clarendon Press at
Oxford. A study of the mass of quotations in these two dictionaries
undoubtedly does much to atone for the lack of linguistic knowledge; and
the tracing of the history of words, as it is done in the Oxford
dictionary, makes any inquiry as to the meaning of a word fascinating
work for the historian. Amongst the multiplicity of aids for the student
and the writer no single one is so serviceable as this product of labor
and self-sacrifice, fostered by the Clarendon Press, to whom, all
writers in the English language owe a debt of gratitude.

Macaulay had a large fund of knowledge on which he might base his
reasoning, and his indefatigable mind welcomed any outside assistance.
He knew Greek and Latin thoroughly and a number of other languages, but
it is related of him that he so thumbed his copy of Johnson's Dictionary
that he was continually sending it to the binder. In return for his
mastery of the languages, the dictionaries are fond of quoting Macaulay.
If I may depend upon a rough mental computation, no prose writer of the
nineteenth century is so frequently cited. "He never wrote an obscure
sentence in his life," said John Morley;[11] and this is partly due to
his exact use of words. There is never any doubt about his meaning.
Macaulay began the use of Latin words at an early age. When four and a
half years old he was asked if he had got over the toothache, to which
question came this reply, "The agony is abated."

Mathematics beyond arithmetic are of no use to the historian and may be
entirely discarded. I do not ignore John Stuart Mill's able plea for
them, some words of which are worth quoting. "Mathematical studies," he
said, "are of immense benefit to the student's education by habituating
him to precision. It is one of the peculiar excellences of mathematical
discipline that the mathematician is never satisfied with an _à peu
près_. He requires the _exact_ truth.... The practice of mathematical
reasoning gives wariness of the mind; it accustoms us to demand a sure
footing."[12] Mill, however, is no guide except for exceptionally gifted
youth. He began to learn Greek when he was three years old, and by the
time he had reached the age of twelve had read a good part of Latin and
Greek literature and knew elementary geometry and algebra thoroughly.

The three English historians who have most influenced thought from 1776
to 1900 are those whom John Morley called "great born men of
letters"[13]--Gibbon, Macaulay, and Carlyle; and two of these despised
mathematics. "As soon as I understood the principles," wrote Gibbon in
his "Autobiography," "I relinquished forever the pursuit of the
Mathematics; nor can I lament that I desisted before my mind was
hardened by the habit of rigid demonstration, so destructive of the
finer feelings of moral evidence, which must however determine the
actions and opinions of our lives."[14] Macaulay, while a student at
Cambridge, wrote to his mother: "Oh, for words to express my abomination
of mathematics ... 'Discipline' of the mind! Say rather starvation,
confinement, torture, annihilation!... I feel myself becoming a
personification of Algebra, a living trigonometrical canon, a walking
table of logarithms. All my perceptions of elegance and beauty gone, or
at least going.... Farewell then Homer and Sophocles and Cicero."[15] I
must in fairness state that in after life Macaulay regretted his lack of
knowledge of mathematics and physics, but his career and Gibbon's
demonstrate that mathematics need have no place on the list of the
historian's studies. Carlyle, however, showed mathematical ability which
attracted the attention of Legendre and deemed himself sufficiently
qualified to apply, when he was thirty-nine years old, for the
professorship of Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh. He did not
succeed in obtaining the post but, had he done so, he "would have made,"
so Froude his biographer thinks, "the school of Astronomy at Edinburgh
famous throughout Europe."[16] When fifty-two, Carlyle said that "the
man who had mastered the first forty-seven propositions of Euclid stood
nearer to God than he had done before."[17] I may cap this with some
words of Emerson, who in much of his thought resembled Carlyle: "What
hours of melancholy my mathematical works cost! It was long before I
learned that there is something wrong with a man's brain who loves

Mathematics are of course the basis of many studies, trades, and
professions and are sometimes of benefit as a recreation for men of
affairs. Devotion to Euclid undoubtedly added to Lincoln's strength, but
the necessary range of knowledge for the historian is so vast that he
cannot spend his evenings and restless nights in the solution of
mathematical problems. In short, mathematics are of no more use to him
than is Greek to the civil or mechanical engineer.

In the category with mathematics must be placed a detailed study of any
of the physical or natural sciences. I think that a student during his
college course should have a year's work in a chemical laboratory or
else, if his taste inclines him to botany, geology, or zoölogy, a year's
training of his observing powers in some one of these studies. For he
ought to get, while at an impressible age, a superficial knowledge of
the methods of scientific men, as a basis for his future reading. We all
know that science is moving the world and to keep abreast with the
movement is a necessity for every educated man. Happily, there are
scientific men who popularize their knowledge. John Fiske, Huxley, and
Tyndall presented to us the theories and demonstrations of science in a
literary style that makes learning attractive. Huxley and Tyndall were
workers in laboratories and gave us the results of their patient and
long-continued experiments. It is too much to expect that every
generation will produce men of the remarkable power of expression of
Huxley and John Fiske, but there will always be clear writers who will
delight in instructing the general public in language easily understood.
In an address which I delivered eight or nine years ago before the
American Historical Association, I cheerfully conceded that, in the
realm of intellectual endeavor, the natural and physical sciences should
have the precedence of history. The question with us now is not which is
the nobler pursuit, but how is the greatest economy of time to be
compassed for the historian. My advice is in the line of concentration.
Failure in life arises frequently from intellectual scattering; hence I
like to see the historical student getting his physical and natural
science at second-hand.

The religious and political revolutions of the last four hundred years
have weakened authority; but in intellectual development I believe that
in general an important advantage lies in accepting the dicta of
specialists. In this respect our scientific men may teach us a lesson.
One not infrequently meets a naturalist or a physician, who possesses
an excellent knowledge of history, acquired by reading the works of
general historians who have told an interesting story. He would laugh at
the idea that he must verify the notes of his author and read the
original documents, for he has confidence that the interpretation is
accurate and truthful. This is all that I ask of the would-be historian.
For the sake of going to the bottom of things in his own special study,
let him take his physical and natural science on trust and he may well
begin to do this during his college course. As a manner of doing this,
there occur to me three interesting biographies, the Life of Darwin, the
Life of Huxley, and the Life of Pasteur, which give the important part
of the story of scientific development during the last half of the
nineteenth century. Now I believe that a thorough mastery of these three
books will be worth more to the historical student than any driblets of
science that he may pick up in an unsystematic college course.

With this elimination of undesirable studies--undesirable because of
lack of time--there remains ample time for those studies which are
necessary for the equipment of a historian; to wit, languages,
histories, English, French, and Latin literature, and as much of
economics as his experienced teachers advise. Let him also study the
fine arts as well as he can in America, fitting himself for an
appreciation of the great works of architecture, sculpture, and painting
in Europe which he will recognize as landmarks of history in their
potent influence on the civilization of mankind. Let us suppose that our
hypothetical student has marked out on these lines his college course of
four years, and his graduate course of three. At the age of twenty-five
he will then have received an excellent college education. The
university with its learned and hard-working teachers, its wealth, its
varied and wholesome traditions has done for him the utmost possible.
Henceforward his education must depend upon himself and, unless he has
an insatiable love of reading, he had better abandon the idea of
becoming a historian; for books, pamphlets, old newspapers, and
manuscripts are the stock of his profession and to them he must show a
single-minded devotion. He must love his library as Pasteur did his
laboratory and must fill with delight most of the hours of the day in
reading or writing. To this necessity there is no alternative. Whether
it be in general preparation or in the detailed study of a special
period, there is no end to the material which may be read with
advantage. The young man of twenty-five can do no better than to devote
five years of his life to general preparation. And what enjoyment he has
before him! He may draw upon a large mass of histories and biographies,
of books of correspondence, of poems, plays, and novels; it is then for
him to select with discrimination, choosing the most valuable, as they
afford him facts, augment his knowledge of human nature, and teach him
method and expression. "A good book," said Milton, "is the precious life
blood of a master spirit," and every good book which wins our student's
interest and which he reads carefully will help him directly or
indirectly in his career. And there are some books which he will wish to
master, as if he were to be subjected to an examination on them. As to
these he will be guided by strong inclination and possibly with a view
to the subject of his magnum opus; but if these considerations be absent
and if the work has not been done in the university, I cannot too
strongly recommend the mastery of Gibbon's "Decline and Fall" and
Bryce's "Holy Roman Empire." Gibbon merits close study because his is
undoubtedly the greatest history of modern times and because it is, in
the words of Carlyle, a splendid bridge from the old world to the new.
He should be read in the edition of Bury, whose scholarly introduction
gives a careful and just estimate of Gibbon and whose notes show the
results of the latest researches. This edition does not include Guizot's
and Milman's notes, which seem to an old-fashioned reader of Gibbon like
myself worthy of attention, especially those on the famous Fifteenth and
Sixteenth Chapters. Bryce's "Holy Roman Empire" is a fitting complement
to Gibbon, and the intellectual possession of the two is an education in
itself which will be useful in the study of any period of history that
may be chosen.

The student who reads Gibbon will doubtless be influenced by his many
tributes to Tacitus and will master the Roman historian. I shall let
Macaulay furnish the warrant for a close study of Thucydides. "This
day," Macaulay said, when in his thirty-fifth year, "I finished
Thucydides after reading him with inexpressible interest and admiration.
He is the greatest historian that ever lived." Again during the same
year he wrote: "What are all the Roman historians to the great Athenian?
I do assure you there is no prose composition in the world, not even the
oration on the Crown, which I place so high as the seventh book of
Thucydides. It is the _ne plus ultra_ of human art. I was delighted to
find in Gray's letters the other day this query to Wharton: 'The retreat
from Syracuse--is or is it not the finest thing you ever read in your
life?' ... Most people read all the Greek they ever read before they are
five and twenty. They never find time for such studies afterwards until
they are in the decline of life; and then their knowledge of the
language is in great measure lost, and cannot easily be recovered.
Accordingly, almost all the ideas that people have of Greek literature
are ideas formed while they were still very young. A young man,
whatever his genius may be, is no judge of such a writer as Thucydides.
I had no high opinion of him ten years ago. I have now been reading him
with a mind accustomed to historical researches and to political affairs
and I am astonished at my own former blindness and at his

I have borrowed John Morley's words, speaking of Gibbon, Macaulay, and
Carlyle as "three great born men of letters." Our student cannot
therefore afford to miss a knowledge of Macaulay's History, but the
Essays, except perhaps three or four of the latest ones, need not be
read. In a preface to the authorized edition of the Essays, Macaulay
wrote that he was "sensible of their defects," deemed them "imperfect
pieces," and did not think that they were "worthy of a permanent place
in English literature." For instance, his essay on Milton contained
scarcely a paragraph which his matured judgment approved. Macaulay's
peculiar faults are emphasized in his Essays and much of the harsh
criticism which he has received comes from the glaring defects of these
earlier productions. His history, however, is a great book, shows
extensive research, a sane method and an excellent power of narration;
and when he is a partisan, he is so honest and transparent that the
effect of his partiality is neither enduring nor mischievous.

I must say further to the student: read either Carlyle's "French
Revolution" or his "Frederick the Great," I care not which, although it
is well worth one's while to read both. If your friends who maintain
that history is a science convince you that the "French Revolution" is
not history, as perhaps they may, read it as a narrative poem. Truly
Carlyle spoke rather like a poet than a historian when he wrote to his
wife (in his forty-first year): "A hundred pages more and this cursed
book is flung out of me. I mean to write with force of fire till that
consummation; above all with the speed of fire.... It all stands pretty
fair in my head, nor do I mean to investigate much more about it, but to
splash down what I know in large masses of colors, that it may look like
a smoke-and-flame conflagration in the distance, which it is."[20] It
was Carlyle's custom to work all of the morning and take a solitary walk
in Hyde Park in the afternoon, when looking upon the gay scene, the
display of wealth and fashion, "seeing," as he said, "all the carriages
dash hither and thither and so many human bipeds cheerily hurrying
along," he said to himself: "There you go, brothers, in your gilt
carriages and prosperities, better or worse, and make an extreme bother
and confusion, the devil very largely in it.... Not one of you could do
what I am doing, and it concerns you too, if you did but know it."[21]
When the book was done he wrote to his brother, "It is a wild, savage
book, itself a kind of French Revolution."[22] From its somewhat obscure
style it requires a slow perusal and careful study, but this serves all
the more to fix it in the memory causing it to remain an abiding

There are eight volumes of "Frederick the Great," containing, according
to Barrett Wendell's computation, over one million words; and this
eighteenth-century tale, with its large number of great and little
characters, its "mass of living facts" impressed Wendell chiefly with
its unity. "Whatever else Carlyle was," he wrote, "the unity of this
enormous book proves him, when he chose to be, a Titanic artist."[23]
Only those who have striven for unity in a narrative can appreciate the
tribute contained in these words. It was a struggle, too, for Carlyle.
Fifty-six years old when he conceived the idea of Frederick, his
nervousness and irritability were a constant torment to himself and his
devoted wife. Many entries in his journal tell of his "dismal continual
wrestle with Friedrich,"[24] perhaps the most characteristic of which is
this: "My Frederick looks as if it would never take shape in me; in fact
the problem is to burn away the immense dungheap of the eighteenth
century, with its ghastly cants, foul, blind sensualities, cruelties,
and _inanity_ now fallen _putrid_, rotting inevitably towards
annihilation; to destroy and extinguish all that, having got to know it,
and to know that it must be rejected for evermore; after which the
perennial portion, pretty much Friedrich and Voltaire so far as I can
see, may remain conspicuous and capable of being delineated."[25]

The student, who has become acquainted with the works of Gibbon,
Macaulay, and Carlyle, will wish to know something of the men themselves
and this curiosity may be easily and delightfully gratified. The
autobiographies of Gibbon, the Life of Macaulay by Sir George Trevelyan,
the History of Carlyle's Life by Froude, present the personality of
these historians in a vivid manner. Gibbon has himself told of all his
own faults and Froude has omitted none of Carlyle's, so that these two
books are useful aids in a study of human nature, in which respect they
are real adjuncts of Boswell's Johnson. Gibbon, Carlyle, and Macaulay
had an insatiable love of reading; in their solitary hours they were
seldom without books in their hands. Valuable instruction may be derived
from a study of their lives from their suggestions of books, helpful in
the development of a historian. They knew how to employ their odd
moments, and Gibbon and Macaulay were adepts in the art of desultory
reading. Sainte-Beuve makes a plea for desultory reading in instancing
Tocqueville's lack of it, so that he failed to illustrate and animate
his pages with its fruits, the result being, in the long run, great
monotony.[26] As a relief to the tired brain, without a complete loss of
time, the reading at hazard, even browsing in a library, has its place
in the equipment of a historian. One of the most striking examples of
self-education in literature is Carlyle's seven years, from the age of
thirty-two to thirty-nine, passed at Craigenputtock where his native
inclination was enforced by his physical surroundings. Craigenputtock,
wrote Froude, is "the dreariest spot in all the British dominions. The
nearest cottage is more than a mile from it; the elevation, 700 feet
above the sea, stunts the trees and limits the garden produce to the
hardiest vegetables. The house is gaunt and hungry-looking."[27] The
place realized Tennyson's words, "O, the dreary, dreary moorland." Here
Carlyle read books, gave himself over to silent meditation, and wrote
for his bread, although a man who possessed an adequate income could not
have been more independent in thought than he was, or more averse to
writing to the order of editors of reviews and magazines. With no
outside distractions, books were his companions as well as his friends.
As you read Froude's intimate biography, it comes upon you, as you
consider Carlyle's life in London, what a tremendous intellectual stride
he had made while living in this dreary solitude of Craigenputtock. It
was there that he continued his development under the intellectual
influence of Goethe, wrote "Sartor Resartus" and conceived the idea of
writing the story of the French Revolution. Those seven years, as you
trace their influence during the rest of his life, will ever be a
tribute to the concentrated, bookish labors of bookish men.

It is often said that some practical experience in life is necessary for
the training of a historian; that only thus can he arrive at a knowledge
of human nature and become a judge of character; that, while the theory
is occasionally advanced that history is a series of movements which may
be described without taking individuals into account, as a matter of
fact, one cannot go far on this hypothesis without running up against
the truth that movements have motors and the motors are men. Hence we
are to believe the dictum that the historian needs that knowledge of men
which is to be obtained only by practical dealings with them. It is true
that Gibbon's service in the Hampshire militia and his membership in the
House of Commons were of benefit to the historian of the Roman Empire.
Grote's business life, Macaulay's administrative work in India, and the
parliamentary experience of both were undoubtedly of value to their work
as historians, but there are excellent historians who have never had any
such training. Carlyle is an example, and Samuel R. Gardiner is another.
Curiously enough, Gardiner, who was a pure product of the university and
the library, has expressed sounder judgments on many of the prominent
men of the seventeenth century than Macaulay. I am not aware that there
is in historical literature any other such striking contrast as this,
for it is difficult to draw the line closely between the historian and
the man of affairs, but Gardiner's example is strengthened in other
historians' lives sufficiently to warrant the statement that the
historian need not be a man of the world. Books are written by men and
treat of the thoughts and actions of men and a good study may be made of
human character without going beyond the walls of a library.

Drawing upon my individual experience again I feel that the two authors
who have helped me most in this study of human character are
Shakespeare and Homer. I do not mean that in the modern world we meet
Hamlet, Iago, Macbeth, and Shylock, but when we perceive "the native hue
of resolution sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought," when we come
in contact with the treachery of a seeming friend, with unholy ambition
and insensate greed, we are better able to interpret them on the page of
history from having grasped the lessons of Shakespeare to mankind. A
constant reading of Shakespeare will show us unchanging passions and
feelings; and we need not make literal contrasts, as did the British
matron who remarked of "Antony and Cleopatra" that it was "so unlike the
home life of our beloved queen." Bernard Shaw, who has said much in
detraction of Shakespeare, writes in one of his admiring moods, "that
the imaginary scenes and people he has created become more real to us
than our actual life--at least until our knowledge and grip of actual
life begins to deepen and glow beyond the common. When I was twenty,"
Shaw continues, "I knew everybody in Shakespeare from Hamlet to
Abhorson, much more intimately than I knew my living contemporaries; and
to this day, if the name of Pistol or Polonius catches my eye in a
newspaper, I turn to the passage with curiosity."[28]

Homer's character of Ulysses is a link between the ancient and the
modern world. One feels that Ulysses would be at home in the twentieth
century and would adapt himself to the conditions of modern political
life. Perhaps, indeed, he would have preferred to his militant age our
industrial one where prizes are often won by craft and persuasive
eloquence rather than by strength of arm. The story of Ulysses is a
signal lesson in the study of human character, and receives a luminous
commentary in Shakespeare's adaptation of it. The advice which Ulysses
gives to Achilles[29] is a piece of worldly wisdom and may well be acted
on by those who desire advancement in life and are little scrupulous in
regard to means. The first part of Goethe's "Faust" is another book
which has profoundly affected my view of life. I read it first when
seventeen years old and have continually re-read it; and, while I fail
to comprehend it wholly, and, although it does not give me the same kind
of knowledge of human character that I derive from Shakespeare's plays,
I carry away from it abiding impressions from the contact that it
affords with one of the greatest of human minds.

All this counsel of mine, as to the reading of the embryo historian is,
of course, merely supplementary, and does not pretend to be exhaustive.
I am assuming that during his undergraduate and graduate course the
student has been advised to read, either wholly or in part, most of the
English, German, and French scientific historians of the past fifty
years, and that he has become acquainted in a greater or less degree
with all the eminent American historians. My own experience has been
that a thorough knowledge of one book of an author is better than a
superficial acquaintance with all of his works. The only book of Francis
Parkman's which I have read is his "Montcalm and Wolfe," parts of which
I have gone over again and again. One chapter, pervaded with the scenery
of the place, I have read on Lake George, three others more than once at
Quebec, and I feel that I know Parkman's method as well as if I had
skimmed all his volumes. But I believe I was careful in my selection,
for in his own estimation, and in that of the general public, "Montcalm
and Wolfe" is his best work. So with Motley, I have read nothing but
the "Dutch Republic," but that I have read through twice carefully. I
will not say that it is the most accurate of his works, but it is
probably the most interesting and shows his graphic and dashing style at
its best. An admirer of Stubbs told me that his "Lectures and Addresses
on Mediæval and Modern History" would give me a good idea of his
scholarship and literary manner and that I need not tackle his magnum
opus. But those lectures gave me a taste for more and, undeterred by the
remark of still another admirer that nobody ever read his
"Constitutional History" through, I did read one volume with interest
and profit, and I hope at some future time to read the other two. On the
other hand, I have read everything that Samuel R. Gardiner has written
except "What Gunpowder Plot Was." Readers differ. There are fast readers
who have the faculty of getting just what they want out of a book in a
brief time and they retain the thing which they have sought. Assuredly I
envy men that power. For myself, I have never found any royal road to
learning, have been a slow reader, and needed a re-reading, sometimes
more than one, to acquire any degree of mastery of a book. Macaulay used
to read his favorite Greek and Latin classics over and over again and
presumably always with care, but modern books he turned off with
extraordinary speed. Of Buckle's large volume of the "History of
Civilization" Macaulay wrote in his journal: "I read Buckle's book all
day, and got to the end, skipping, of course. A man of talent and of a
good deal of reading, but paradoxical and incoherent."[30] John Fiske, I
believe, was a slow reader, but he had such a remarkable power of
concentration that what he read once was his own. Of this I can give a
notable instance. At a meeting in Boston a number of years ago of the
Military Historical Society of Massachusetts, Colonel William R.
Livermore read a learned and interesting paper on Napoleon's Campaigns
in Northern Italy, and a few men, among whom were Fiske and John C.
Ropes, remained after supper to discuss the paper. The discussion went
well into details and was technical. Fiske had as much to say as any one
and met the military critics on their own ground, holding his own in
this interchange of expert opinions. As we returned to Cambridge
together, I expressed my surprise at his wide technical knowledge. "It
is all due to one book," he said. "A few summers ago I had occasion to
read Sir Edward Hamley's 'Operations of War' and for some reason or
other everything in it seemed to sink into my mind and to be there
retained, ready for use, as was the case to-night with his references to
the Northern Italian campaigns."

Outside of ordinary historical reading, a book occurs to me which is
well worth a historian's mastery. I am assuming that our hypothetical
student has read Goethe's "Faust," "Werther," and "Wilhelm Meister," and
desires to know something of the personality of this great writer. He
should, therefore, read Eckermann's "Conversations with Goethe," in
which he will find a body of profitable literary criticism, given out in
a familiar way by the most celebrated man then living. The talks began
when he was seventy-three and continued until near his death, ten years
later; they reveal his maturity of judgment. Greek, Roman, German,
English, French, Spanish, and Italian authors are taken up from time to
time and discussed with clearness and appreciation, running sometimes to
enthusiasm. As a guide to the best reading extant up to 1832 I know
nothing better. Eckermann is inferior as a biographer to Boswell, and
his book is neither so interesting nor amusing; but Goethe was far
greater than Johnson, and his talk is cosmopolitan and broad, while
Johnson's is apt to be insular and narrow. "One should not study
contemporaries and competitors," Goethe said, "but the great men of
antiquity, whose works have for centuries received equal homage and
consideration.... Let us study Molière, let us study Shakespeare, but
above all things, the old Greeks and always the Greeks."[31] Here is an
opinion I like to dwell upon: "He who will work aright must never rail,
must not trouble himself at all about what is ill done, but only to do
well himself. For the great point is, not to pull down, but to build up
and in this humanity finds pure joy."[32] It is well worth our while to
listen to a man so great as to be free from envy and jealousy, but this
was a lesson Carlyle could not learn from his revered master. It is
undoubtedly his broad mind in connection with his wide knowledge which
induced Sainte-Beuve to write that Goethe is "the greatest of modern
critics and of critics of all time."[33]

All of the conversations did not run upon literature and writers.
Although Goethe never visited either Paris or London, and resided for a
good part of his life in the little city of Weimar, he kept abreast of
the world's progress through books, newspapers, and conversations with
visiting strangers. No statesman or man of business could have had a
wider outlook than Goethe, when on February 21, 1827, he thus spoke: "I
should wish to see England in possession of a canal through the Isthmus
of Suez.... And it may be foreseen that the United States, with its
decided predilection to the West will, in thirty or forty years, have
occupied and peopled the large tract of land beyond the Rocky Mountains.
It may furthermore be foreseen that along the whole coast of the Pacific
Ocean where nature has already formed the most capacious and secure
harbors, important commercial towns will gradually arise, for the
furtherance of a great intercourse between China and the East Indies and
the United States. In such a case, it would not only be desirable, but
almost necessary, that a more rapid communication should be maintained
between the eastern and western shores of North America, both by
merchant ships and men-of-war than has hitherto been possible with the
tedious, disagreeable, and expensive voyage around Cape Horn.... It is
absolutely indispensable for the United States to effect a passage from
the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean, and I am certain that they will
do it. Would that I might live to see it!"[34]

"Eckermann's book," wrote Sainte-Beuve, "is the best biography of
Goethe; that of Lewes, for the facts; that of Eckermann, for the
portrait from the inside and the physiognomy. The soul of a great man
breathes in it."[35]

I have had frequent occasion to speak of Sainte-Beuve and I cannot
recommend our student too strongly to read from time to time some of his
critical essays. His best work is contained in the fifteen volumes of
"Causeries du Lundi" and in the thirteen volumes of "Nouveaux Lundis"
which were articles written for the daily newspapers, the
_Constitutionnel_, the _Moniteur_, and the _Temps_, when, between the
ages of forty-five and sixty-five, he was at the maturity of his powers.
Considering the very high quality of the work, the quantity is enormous,
and makes us call to mind the remark of Goethe that "genius and
fecundity are very closely allied." Excluding Goethe, we may safely, I
think, call Sainte-Beuve the greatest of modern critics, and there is
enough of resemblance between historical and literary criticism to
warrant a study by the historian of these remarkable essays. "The root
of everything in his criticism," wrote Matthew Arnold, "is his
single-hearted devotion to truth. What he called 'fictions' in
literature, in politics, in religion, were not allowed to influence
him." And Sainte-Beuve himself has said, "I am accustomed incessantly to
call my judgments in question anew and to recast my opinions the moment
I suspect them to be without validity."[36] The writer who conforms to
such a high standard is an excellent guide for the historian and no one
who has made a study of these Causeries can help feeling their spirit of
candor and being inspired to the attempt to realize so high an ideal.

Sainte-Beuve's essays deal almost entirely with French literature and
history, which were the subjects he knew best. It is very desirable for
us Anglo-Saxons to broaden our minds and soften our prejudices by
excursions outside of our own literature and history, and with Goethe
for our guide in Germany, we can do no better than to accept
Sainte-Beuve for France. Brunetière wrote that the four literary men of
France in the nineteenth century who had exercised the most profound
influence were Sainte-Beuve, Balzac, Victor Hugo, and Auguste Comte.[37]
I have already recommended Balzac, who portrays the life of the
nineteenth century; and Sainte-Beuve, in developing the thought of the
same period, gives us a history of French literature and society.
Moreover, his volumes are valuable to one who is studying human
character by the means of books. "Sainte-Beuve had," wrote Henry James,
"two passions which are commonly assumed to exclude each other, the
passion for scholarship and the passion for life. He valued life and
literature equally for the light they threw on each other; to his mind,
one implied the other; he was unable to conceive of them apart."[38]

Supposing the student to have devoted five years to this general
preparation and to have arrived at the age of thirty, which Motley, in
similar advice to an aspiring historian, fixed as the earliest age at
which one should devote himself to his special work, he is ready to
choose a period and write a history, if indeed his period has not
already suggested itself during his years of general preparation. At all
events it is doubtless that his own predilection will fix his country
and epoch and the only counsel I have to offer is to select an
interesting period. As to this, opinions will differ; but I would say
for example that the attractive parts of German history are the
Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, the epoch of Frederick the Great,
and the unification of Germany which we have witnessed in our own day.
The French Revolution is to me the most striking period in modern
annals, whilst the history of the Directory is dull, relieved only by
the exploits of Napoleon; but when Napoleon becomes the chief officer of
state, interest revives and we follow with unflagging attention the
story of this master of men, for which there is a superabundance of
material, in striking contrast with the little that is known about his
Titanic predecessors, Alexander and Cæsar, in the accounts of whose
careers conjecture must so frequently come to the aid of facts to
construct a continuous story. The Restoration and the reign of Louis
Philippe would for me be dull periods were they not illumined by the
novels of Balzac; but from the Revolution of 1848 to the fall of the
Second Empire and the Commune, a wonderful drama was enacted. In our own
history the Revolutionary War, the framing of the Constitution, and
Washington's administrations seem to me replete with interest which is
somewhat lacking for the period between Washington and the slavery
conflict. "As to special history," wrote Motley to the aspiring
historian, "I should be inclined rather to direct your attention to
that of the last three and a half centuries."[39] Discussing the subject
before the advanced historical students of Harvard a number of years
ago, I gave an extension to Motley's counsel by saying that ancient
history had better be left to the Germans. I was fresh from reading
Holm's History of Greece and was impressed with his vast learning,
elaboration of detail, and exhaustive treatment of every subject which
seemed to me to require a steady application and patience, hardly
consonant with the American character. But within the past five years
Ferrero, an Italian, has demonstrated that others besides Germans are
equal to the work by writing an interesting history of Rome, which
intelligent men and scholars discuss in the same breath with Mommsen's.
Courageously adopting the title "Grandeur and Decadence of Rome" which
suggests that of Montesquieu, Ferrero has gleaned the well-reaped field
from the appearance of Julius Cæsar to the reign of Augustus[40] in a
manner to attract the attention of the reading public in Italy, France,
England, and the United States. There is no reason why an American
should not have done the same. "All history is public property," wrote
Motley in the letter previously referred to. "All history may be
rewritten and it is impossible that with exhaustive research and deep
reflection you should not be able to produce something new and valuable
on almost any subject."[41]

After the student has chosen his period I have little advice to offer
him beyond what I have previously given in two formal addresses before
the American Historical Association, but a few additional words may be
useful. You will evolve your own method by practice and by comparison
with the methods of other historians. "Follow your own star." If you
feel impelled to praise or blame as do the older historians, if it is
forced upon you that your subject demands such treatment, proceed
fearlessly, so that you do nothing for effect, so that you do not
sacrifice the least particle of truth for a telling statement. If,
however, you fall naturally into the rigorously judicial method of
Gardiner you may feel your position sure. It is well, as the scientific
historians warn you, to be suspicious of interesting things, but, on the
other hand, every interesting incident is not necessarily untrue. If you
have made a conscientious search for historical material and use it with
scrupulous honesty, have no fear that you will transgress any reasonable
canon of historical writing.

An obvious question to be put to a historian is, What plan do you follow
in making notes of your reading? Langlois, an experienced teacher and
tried scholar, in his introduction to the "Study of History," condemns
the natural impulse to set them down in notebooks in the order in which
one's authorities are studied, and says, "Every one admits nowadays that
it is advisable to collect materials on separate cards or slips of
paper,"[42] arranging them by a systematic classification of subjects.
This is a case in point where writers will, I think, learn best from
their own experience. I have made my notes mainly in notebooks on the
plan which Langlois condemns, but by colored pencil-marks of emphasis
and summary, I keep before me the prominent facts which I wish to
combine; and I have found this, on the whole, better than the card
system. For I have aimed to study my authorities in a logical
succession. First I go over the period in some general history, if one
is to be had; then I read very carefully my original authorities in the
order of their estimated importance, making copious excerpts.
Afterwards I skim my second-hand materials. Now I maintain that it is
logical and natural to have the extracts before me in the order of my
study. When unusually careful and critical treatment has been required,
I have drawn off my memoranda from the notebooks to cards, classifying
them according to subjects. Such a method enables me to digest
thoroughly my materials, but in the main I find that a frequent
re-perusal of my notes answers fully as well and is an economy of time.

Carlyle, in answer to an inquiry regarding his own procedure, has gone
to the heart of the matter. "I go into the business," he said, "with all
the intelligence, patience, silence, and other gifts and virtues that I
have ... and on the whole try to keep the whole matter simmering in the
_living_ mind and memory rather than laid up in paper bundles or
otherwise laid up in the inert way. For this certainly turns out to be a
truth; only what you at last _have living_ in your own memory and heart
is worth putting down to be printed; this alone has much chance to get
into the living heart and memory of other men. And here indeed, I
believe, is the essence of all the rules I have ever been able to devise
for myself. I have tried various schemes of arrangement and artificial
helps to remembrance," but the gist of the matter is, "to keep the thing
you are elaborating as much as possible actually _in_ your own living
mind; in order that this same mind, as much awake as possible, may have
a chance to make something of it!"[43]

The objection may be made to my discourse that I have considered our
student as possessing the purse of Fortunatus and have lost sight of
Herbert Spencer's doctrine that a very important part of education is to
fit a man to acquire the means of living. I may reply that there are a
number of Harvard students who will not have to work for their bread
and whose parents would be glad to have them follow the course that I
have recommended. It is not too much to hope, therefore, that among
these there are, to use Huxley's words, "glorious sports of nature" who
will not be "corrupted by luxury" but will become industrious
historians. To others who are not so fortunately situated, I cannot
recommend the profession of historian as a means of gaining a
livelihood. Bancroft and Parkman, who had a good deal of popularity,
spent more money in the collection and copying of documents than they
ever received as income from their histories. A young friend of mine, at
the outset of his career and with his living in part to be earned, went
for advice to Carl Schurz, who was very fond of him. "What is your aim?"
asked Mr. Schurz. "I purpose being a historian," was the reply. "Aha!"
laughed Schurz, "you are adopting an aristocratic profession, one which
requires a rent-roll." Every aspiring historian has, I suppose, dreamed
of that check of £20,000, which Macaulay received as royalty on his
history for its sale during the year 1856,[44] but no such dream has
since been realized.

Teaching and writing are allied pursuits. And the teacher helps the
writer, especially in history, through the necessary elaboration and
digestion of materials. Much excellent history is given to the world by
college professors. Law and medicine are too exacting professions with
too large a literature of their own to leave any leisure for historical
investigation. If one has the opportunity to get a good start, or, in
the talk of the day, the right sort of a "pull," I can recommend
business as a means of gaining a competence which shall enable one to
devote one's whole time to a favorite pursuit. Grote was a banker until
he reached the age of forty-nine when he retired from the banking house
and began the composition of the first volume of his history. Henry C.
Lea was in the active publishing business until he was fifty-five, and
as I have already frequently referred to my own personal experience, I
may add that I was immersed in business between the ages of twenty-two
and thirty-seven. After three years of general and special preparation I
began my writing at forty. The business man has many free evenings and
many journeys by rail, as well as a summer vacation, when devotion to a
line of study may constitute a valuable recreation. Much may be done in
odd hours in the way of preparation for historical work, and a business
life is an excellent school for the study of human character.

    [3] Conversations of Goethe, Eng. trans., 230.

    [4] Trevelyan, I, 86.

    [5] Life of Gladstone, II, 181.

    [6] III, 51.

    [7] Talks with Emerson, 23.

    [8] My Vol. II, 142, n. 2.

    [9] Curtis, I, 250.

   [10] _Ibid._, I, 252.

   [11] Miscellanies, I, 275.

   [12] Exam. of Sir W. Hamilton's Philosophy, II, 310, 311.

   [13] Gladstone, I, 195.

   [14] p. 142.

   [15] Trevelyan, I, 91.

   [16] Froude, II, 317.

   [17] Nichol, 20.

   [18] Talks with Emerson, 162.

   [19] Trevelyan, I, 379, 387, 409.

   [20] Froude, III, 64, 65.

   [21] _Ibid._, II, 385; III, 59.

   [22] _Ibid._, III, 73.

   [23] English Composition, 158.

   [24] Letters of Jane Carlyle, II, 31.

   [25] Froude's Carlyle, IV, 125.

   [26] Causeries du Lundi, XV, 95.

   [27] Froude, II, 19.

   [28] Dramatic Opinions, II, 53.

   [29] "Time hath, my lord, a wallet at his back
         Wherein he puts alms for oblivion,
         A great-sized monster of ingratitudes:" etc.

   [30] Trevelyan, II, 388, n.

   [31] Eng. trans., 236.

   [32] _Ibid._, 115.

   [33] Nouveaux Lundis, III, 265.

   [34] Eng. trans., 222.

   [35] Nouveaux Lundis, III, 328.

   [36] Enc. Brit.

   [37] Balzac, 309.

   [38] Brander Matthews, _Cent. Mag._, 1901.

   [39] Letter of April 4, 1864, _Harper's Mag._, June, 1889.

   [40] I speak of the first four volumes.

   [41] _L.c._

   [42] p. 103.

   [43] New Letters, II, 11.

   [44] Life, II, 345.


A paper read before the American Historical Association in Washington on
December 29, 1908; printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_, May, 1909.


The impulse of an American writer in justifying the use of newspapers as
historical materials is to adopt an apologetic tone. It is somewhat
curious that such should be the case, for newspapers satisfy so many
canons of historical evidence. They are contemporary, and, being written
without knowledge of the end, cannot bolster any cause without making a
plain showing of their intent. Their object is the relation of daily
events; and if their relation is colored by honest or dishonest
partisanship, this is easily discernible by the critic from the internal
evidence and from an easily acquired knowledge of a few external facts.
As the journals themselves say, their aim is to print the news; and much
of the news is present politics. Moreover, the newspaper itself, its
news and editorial columns, its advertisements, is a graphic picture of

When Aulard, in his illuminating criticism of Taine, writes that the
journals are a very important source of the history of the French
Revolution, provided they are revised and checked by one another, the
statement seems in accordance with the canons of historical writing; and
when he blames Taine for using two journals only and neglecting ten
others which he names, the impression on the mind is the same as if
Taine were charged with the neglect of evidence of another class. One
would hardly attempt to justify Taine by declaring that all journals are
inaccurate, partisan, and dishonest, and that the omission was a merit,
not a defect. Leaving out of account the greater size and diffuseness of
the modern journal, the dictum of Aulard would seem to apply to any
period of history.

Why is it then that some American students fall consciously or
unconsciously into an apologetic tone when they attempt to justify the
use of newspapers as historical sources? I suppose it is because of the
attitude of cultivated society to the newspaper of to-day. Society calls
the ordinary newspaper sensational and unreliable; and, if neither, its
accounts are so diffuse and badly proportioned as to weary the seeker
after the facts of any given transaction. Despite the disfavor into
which the American newspaper has fallen in certain circles, I suspect
that it has only exaggerated these defects, and that the journals of
different democracies have more resemblances than diversities. The
newspaper that caters to the "masses" will never suit the "classes," and
the necessity for a large circulation induces it to furnish the sheet
which the greatest number of readers desire.

But this does not concern the historian. He does not make his materials.
He has to take them as they are. It would undoubtedly render his task
easier if all men spoke and wrote everywhere with accuracy and
sincerity; but his work would lose much of its interest. Take the
newspaper for what it is, a hasty gatherer of facts, a hurried
commentator on the same, and it may well constitute a part of historical

When, in 1887, I began the critical study of the History of the United
States from 1850 to 1860, I was struck with the paucity of material
which would serve the purpose of an animated narrative. The main facts
were to be had in the state papers, the Statutes, the _Congressional
Globe_ and documents, the records of national conventions and platforms,
and the tabulated results of elections. But there was much less private
correspondence than is available for the early history of our country;
and, compared with the period of the Civil War and later, a scarcity of
biographies and reminiscences, containing personal letters of high
historical value. Since I wrote my first two volumes, much new matter
concerning the decade of 1850 to 1860 has been published. The work of
the American Historical Association, and of many historical societies,
the monographs of advanced university students, have thrown light upon
this, as they have upon other periods, with the result that future
delvers in this field can hardly be so much struck with the paucity of
material as I was twenty-one years ago.

Boy though I was during the decade of 1850 to 1860, I had a vivid
remembrance of the part that the newspaper played in politics, and the
thought came to me that the best way to arrive at the spirit of the
times was to steep my mind in journalistic material; that there was the
secret of living over again that decade, as the Abolitionist, the
Republican, the Whig, and the Democrat had actually lived in it. In the
critical use of such sources, I was helped by the example of von Holst,
who employed them freely in his volumes covering the same period, and by
the counsel and collaboration of my friend Edward G. Bourne, whose
training was in the modern school. For whatever training I had beyond
that of self came from the mastery, under the guidance of teachers, of
certain general historians belonging to an epoch when power of
expression was as much studied as the collecting and sifting of

While considering my materials, I was struck with a statement cited by
Herbert Spencer as an illustration in his "Philosophy of Style": "A
modern newspaper statement, though probably true, if quoted in a book as
testimony, would be laughed at; but the letter of a court gossip, if
written some centuries ago, is thought good historical evidence." At
about the same time, I noticed that Motley used as one of his main
authorities for the battle of St. Quentin the manuscript of an anonymous
writer. From these two circumstances, it was a logical reflection that
some historians might make an exaggerated estimate of the value of
manuscript material because it reposed in dusty archives and could be
utilized only by severe labor and long patience; and that, imbued with
this idea, other historians for other periods might neglect the
newspaper because of its ready accessibility.

These several considerations justified a belief, arrived at from my
preliminary survey of the field, that the use of newspapers as sources
for the decade of 1850 to 1860 was desirable. At each step of my pretty
thorough study of them, I became more and more convinced that I was on
the right track. I found facts in them which I could have found nowhere
else. The public meeting is a great factor in the political life of this
decade, and is most fully and graphically reported in the press. The
newspaper, too, was a vehicle for personal accounts of a
quasi-confidential nature, of which I can give a significant example. In
an investigation that Edward Bourne made for me during the summer of
1889, he came across in the _Boston Courier_ an inside account of the
Whig convention of 1852, showing, more conclusively than I have seen
elsewhere, the reason of the failure to unite the conservative Whigs,
who were apparently in a majority, on Webster. From collateral evidence
we were convinced that it was written by a Massachusetts delegate; and
the _Springfield Republican_, which copied the account, furnished a
confirmation of it. It was an interesting story, and I incorporated it
in my narrative.

I am well aware that Dr. Dryasdust may ask, What of it? The report of
the convention shows that Webster received a very small vote and that
Scott was nominated. Why waste time and words over the "might have
been"? I can plead only the human interest in the great Daniel Webster
ardently desiring that nomination, Rufus Choate advocating it in sublime
oratory, the two antislavery delegates from Massachusetts refusing their
votes for Webster, thus preventing a unanimous Massachusetts, and the
delegates from Maine, among whom was Webster's godson William P.
Fessenden, coldly refusing their much-needed aid.

General Scott, having received the nomination, made a stumping tour in
the autumn through some of the Western States. No accurate account of it
is possible without the newspapers, yet it was esteemed a factor in his
overwhelming defeat, and the story of it is well worth preserving as
data for a discussion of the question, Is it wise for a presidential
candidate to make a stumping tour during his electoral campaign?

The story of the formation of the Republican party, and the rise of the
Know-nothings, may possibly be written without recourse to the
newspapers, but thorough steeping in such material cannot fail to add to
the animation and accuracy of the story. In detailed history and
biographical books, dates, through mistakes of the writer or printer,
are frequently wrong; and when the date was an affair of supreme
importance, I have sometimes found a doubt resolved by a reference to
the newspaper, which, from its strictly contemporary character, cannot
in such a matter lead one astray.

I found the newspapers of value in the correction of logical
assumptions, which frequently appear in American historical and
biographical books, especially in those written by men who bore a part
in public affairs. By a logical assumption, I mean the statement of a
seemingly necessary consequence which apparently ought to follow some
well-attested fact or condition. A striking instance of this occurred
during the political campaign of 1856, when "bleeding Kansas" was a
thrilling catchword used by the Republicans, whose candidate for
president was Frémont. In a year and a half seven free-state men had
been killed in Kansas by the border ruffians, and these outrages,
thoroughly ventilated, made excellent campaign ammunition. But the
Democrats had a _tu quoque_ argument which ought to have done much
towards eliminating this question from the canvass.

On the night of May 24, 1856, five pro-slavery men, living on the
Pottawatomie Creek, were deliberately and foully murdered by John Brown
and seven of his disciples; and, while this massacre caused profound
excitement in Kansas and Missouri, it seems to have had no influence
east of the Mississippi River, although the fact was well attested. A
Kansas journalist of 1856, writing in 1879, made this logical
assumption: "The opposition press both North and South took up the
damning tale ... of that midnight butchery on the Pottawatomie.... Whole
columns of leaders from week to week, with startling headlines,
liberally distributed capitals, and frightful exclamation points, filled
all the newspapers." And it was his opinion that, had it not been for
this massacre, Frémont would have been elected.

But I could not discover that the massacre had any influence on the
voters in the pivotal states. I examined, or had examined, the files of
the _New York Journal of Commerce_, _New York Herald_, _Philadelphia
Pennsylvanian_, _Washington Union_, and _Cleveland Plain Dealer_, all
Democratic papers except the _New York Herald_, and I was struck with
the fact that substantially no use was made of the massacre as a
campaign argument. Yet could anything have been more logical than the
assumption that the Democrats would have been equal to their opportunity
and spread far and wide such a story? The facts in the case show
therefore that cause and effect in actual American history are not
always the same as the statesman may conceive them in his cabinet or the
historian in his study.

In the newspapers of 1850 to 1860 many speeches, and many public, and
some private, letters of conspicuous public men are printed; these are
valuable material for the history of the decade, and their use is in
entire accordance with modern historical canons.

I have so far considered the press in its character of a register of
facts; but it has a further use for historical purposes, since it is
both a representative and guide of public sentiment. Kinglake shows that
the _Times_ was the potent influence which induced England to invade the
Crimea; Bismarck said in 1877 that the press "was the cause of the last
three wars"; Lord Cromer writes, "The people of England as represented
by the press insisted on sending General Gordon to the Soudan, and
accordingly to the Soudan he was sent;" and it is current talk that the
yellow journals brought on the Spanish-American War. Giving these
statements due weight, can a historian be justified in neglecting the
important influence of the press on public opinion?

As reflecting and leading popular sentiment during the decade of 1850 to
1860, the newspapers of the Northern States were potent. I own that many
times one needs no further index to public sentiment than our frequent
elections, but in 1854 conditions were peculiar. The repeal of the
Missouri Compromise had outraged the North and indicated that a new
party must be formed to resist the extension of slavery. In the
disorganization of the Democratic party, and the effacement of the Whig,
nowhere may the new movement so well be traced as in the news and
editorial columns of the newspapers, and in the speeches of the
Northern leaders, many of these indeed being printed nowhere else than
in the press. What journals and what journalists there were in those
days! Greeley and Dana of the _New York Tribune_; Bryant and Bigelow of
the _Evening Post_; Raymond of the _Times_; Webb of the _Courier_ and
_Enquirer_; Bowles of the _Springfield Republican_; Thurlow Weed of the
_Albany Journal_; Schouler of the _Cincinnati Gazette_,--all inspired by
their opposition to the spread of slavery, wrote with vigor and
enthusiasm, representing the ideas of men who had burning thoughts
without power of expression, and guiding others who needed the constant
iteration of positive opinions to determine their political action.

The main and cross currents which resulted in the formation of the
compact Republican party of 1856 have their principal record in the
press, and from it, directly or indirectly, must the story be told.
Unquestionably the newspapers had greater influence than in an ordinary
time, because the question was a moral one and could be concretely put.
Was slavery right or wrong? If wrong, should not its extension be
stopped? That was the issue, and all the arguments, constitutional and
social, turned on that point.

The greatest single journalistic influence was the _New York Weekly
Tribune_ which had in 1854 a circulation of 112,000, and many times that
number of readers. These readers were of the thorough kind, reading all
the news, all the printed speeches and addresses, and all the
editorials, and pondering as they read. The questions were discussed in
their family circles and with their neighbors, and, as differences
arose, the _Tribune_, always at hand, was consulted and re-read. There
being few popular magazines during this decade, the weekly newspaper, in
some degree, took their place; and, through this medium, Greeley and
his able coadjutors spoke to the people of New York and of the West,
where New England ideas predominated, with a power never before or since
known in this country. When Motley was studying the old letters and
documents of the sixteenth century in the archives of Brussels, he
wrote: "It is something to read the real _bona fide_ signs manual of
such fellows as William of Orange, Count Egmont, Alexander Farnese,
Philip the Second, Cardinal Granville and the rest of them. It gives a
'realizing sense,' as the Americans have it." I had somewhat of the same
feeling as I turned over the pages of the bound volumes of the _Weekly
Tribune_, reading the editorials and letters of Greeley, the articles of
Dana and Hildreth. I could recall enough of the time to feel the
influence of this political bible, as it was termed, and I can
emphatically say that if you want to penetrate into the thoughts,
feelings, and ground of decision of the 1,866,000 men who voted for
Lincoln in 1860, you should study with care the _New York Weekly

One reason why the press was a better representative of opinion during
the years from 1854 to 1860 than now is that there were few, if any,
independent journals. The party man read his own newspaper and no other;
in that, he found an expression of his own views. And the party
newspaper in the main printed only the speeches and arguments of its own
side. Greeley on one occasion was asked by John Russell Young, an
associate, for permission to reprint a speech of Horatio Seymour in full
as a matter of news. "Yes," Greeley said, "I will print Seymour's speech
when the _World_ will print those of our side."

Before the war, Charleston was one of the most interesting cities of the
country. It was a small aristocratic community, with an air of
refinement and distinction. The story of Athens proclaims that a large
population is not necessary to exercise a powerful influence on the
world; and, after the election of Lincoln in 1860, the 40,000 people of
Charleston, or rather the few patricians who controlled its fate and
that of South Carolina, attracted the attention of the whole country.
The story of the secession movement of November and December, 1860,
cannot be told with correctness and life without frequent references to
the _Charleston Mercury_ and the _Charleston Courier_. The _Mercury_
especially was an index of opinion, and so vivid is its daily chronicle
of events that the historian is able to put himself in the place of
those ardent South Carolinians and understand their point of view.

For the history of the Civil War, newspapers are not so important. The
other material is superabundant, and in choosing from the mass of it,
the newspapers, so-far as affairs at the North are concerned, need only
be used in special cases, and rarely for matters of fact. The accounts
of campaigns and battles, which filled so much of their space, may be
ignored, as the best possible authorities for these are the one hundred
and twenty-eight volumes of the United States government publication,
the "Official Records of the Union and Confederate armies." The faithful
study of the correspondence and the reports in these unique volumes is
absolutely essential to a comprehension of the war; and it is a labor of
love. When one thinks of the mass of manuscripts students of certain
periods of European history have been obliged to read, the American
historian is profoundly grateful to his government, that at a cost to
itself of nearly three million dollars,[45] it has furnished him this
priceless material in neatly printed volumes with excellent indexes. The
serious student can generally procure these volumes gratis through the
favor of his congressman; or, failing in this, may purchase the set at a
moderate price, so that he is not obliged to go to a public library to
consult them.

Next to manuscript material, the physical and mental labor of turning
over and reading bound volumes of newspapers is the most severe, and I
remember my feeling of relief at being able to divert my attention from
what Edward L. Pierce called this back-breaking and eye-destroying
labor, much of it in public libraries, to these convenient books in my
own private library. A mass of other materials, notably Nicolay and
Hay's contributions, military narratives, biographies, private
correspondence, to say nothing of the Congressional publications, render
the student fairly independent of the newspapers. But I did myself make,
for certain periods, special researches among them to ascertain their
influence on public sentiment; and I also found them very useful in my
account of the New York draft riots of 1863. It is true the press did
not accurately reflect the gloom and sickness of heart at the North
after the battle of Chancellorsville, for the reason that many editors
wrote for the purpose of keeping up the hopes of their readers. In sum,
the student may congratulate himself that a continuous study of the
Northern newspapers for the period of the Civil War is unnecessary, for
their size and diffuseness are appalling.

But what I have said about the press of the North will not apply to that
of the South. Though strenuous efforts have been made, with the diligent
coöperation of Southern men, to secure the utmost possible amount of
Confederate material for the "Official Records," it actually forms only
about twenty-nine per cent of the whole matter. Other historical
material is also less copious. For example, there is no record of the
proceedings of the Confederate Congress, like the _Globe_; there are no
reports of committees, like that of the Committee on the Conduct of the
War; and even the journal of the Congress was kept on loose memoranda,
and not written up until after the close of the war. With the exception
of this journal, which has been printed by our government, and the
"Statutes at Large," our information of the work of the Confederate
Congress comes from the newspapers and some books of biography and
recollections. The case of the Southern States was peculiar, because
they were so long cut off from intercourse with the outer world, owing
to the efficient Federal blockade; and the newspaper in its local news,
editorials, and advertisements, is important material for portraying
life in the Confederacy during the Civil War. Fortunately for the
student, the Southern newspaper was not the same voluminous issue as the
Northern, and, if it had not been badly printed, its use would be
attended with little difficulty. Owing to the scarcity of paper, many of
the newspapers were gradually reduced in size, and in the end were
printed on half-sheets, occasionally one on brown paper, and another on
wall paper; even the white paper was frequently coarse, and this, with
poor type, made the news-sheet itself a daily record of the waning
fortunes of the Confederacy.

In the history of Reconstruction the historian may be to a large extent
independent of the daily newspaper. For the work of reconstruction was
done by Congress, and Congress had the full support of the Northern
people, as was shown by the continuous large Republican majority which
was maintained. The debates, the reports, and the acts of Congress are
essential, and little else is required except whatever private
correspondence may be accessible. Congress represented public sentiment
of the North, and if one desires newspaper opinion, one may find it in
many pithy expressions on the floor of the House or the Senate. For the
congressman and the senator are industrious newspaper readers. They are
apt to read some able New York journal which speaks for their party, and
the congressman will read the daily and weekly newspapers of his
district, and the senator the prominent ones of his state which belong
to his party.

For the period which covered Reconstruction, from 1865 to 1877, I used
the _Nation_ to a large extent. Its bound volumes are convenient to
handle in one's own library, and its summary of events is useful in
itself, and as giving leads to the investigation of other material.
Frequently its editorials have spoken for the sober sense of the people
with amazing success. As a constant reader of the _Nation_ since 1866, I
have felt the fascination of Godkin, and have been consciously on guard
against it. I tried not to be led away by his incisive statements and
sometimes uncharitable judgments. But whatever may be thought of his
bias, he had an honest mind, and was incapable of knowingly making a
false statement; and this, with his other qualities, makes his journal
excellent historical material. After considering with great care some
friendly criticism, I can truly say that I have no apology to make for
the extent to which I used the _Nation_.

Recurring now to the point with which I began this discussion,--that
learned prejudice against employing newspapers as historical
material,--I wish to add that, like all other evidence, they must be
used with care and skepticism, as one good authority is undoubtedly
better than a dozen poor ones. An anecdote I heard years ago has been
useful to me in weighing different historical evidence. A
Pennsylvania-Dutch justice of the peace in one of the interior townships
of Ohio had a man arraigned before him for stealing a pig. One witness
swore that he distinctly saw the theft committed; eight swore that they
never saw the accused steal a pig, and the verdict was worthy of
Dogberry. "I discharge the accused," said the justice. "The testimony of
eight men is certainly worth more than the testimony of one."

Private and confidential correspondence is highly valuable historical
material, for such utterances are less constrained and more sincere than
public declarations; but all men cannot be rated alike. Some men have
lied as freely in private letters as in public speeches; therefore the
historian must get at the character of the man who has written the
letter and the influences surrounding him; these factors must count in
any satisfactory estimate of his accuracy and truth. The newspaper must
be subjected to similar tests. For example, to test an article or public
letter written by Greeley or Godkin, the general situation, the
surrounding influences, and the individual bias must be taken into
account, and, when allowance is made for these circumstances, as well as
for the public character of the utterance, it may be used for historical
evidence. For the history of the last half of the nineteenth century
just such material--the material of the fourth estate--must be used.
Neglect of it would be like neglect of the third estate in the history
of France for the eighteenth century.

In the United States we have not, politically speaking, either the first
or second estates, but we have the third and fourth estates with an
intimate connection between the two. Lord Cromer said, when writing of
the sending of Gordon to the Soudan, "Newspaper government has certain
disadvantages;" and this he emphasized by quoting a wise remark of Sir
George Cornewall Lewis, "Anonymous authorship places the public under
the direction of guides who have no sense of personal responsibility."
Nevertheless this newspaper government must be reckoned with. The duty
of the historian is, not to decide if the newspapers are as good as they
ought to be, but to measure their influence on the present, and to
recognize their importance as an ample and contemporary record of the

   [45] $2,858,514, without including the pay of army officers detailed
        from time to time for duty in connection with the work. Official
        Records, 130, V.


June 26, 1901 (not delivered).


Thanking heartily the governing boards of Harvard College for the honor
conferred upon me, I shall say, on this my first admission to the circle
of the Harvard alumni, a word on the University as it appears to one
whose work has lain outside of it. The spirit of the academy in general
and especially of this University impels men to get to the bottom of
things, to strive after exact knowledge; and this spirit permeates my
own study of history in a remarkable degree. "The first of all Gospels
is this," said Carlyle, "that a lie cannot endure forever." This is the
gospel of historical students. A part of their work has been to expose
popular fallacies, and to show up errors which have been made through
partiality and misguided patriotism or because of incomplete
investigation. Men of my age are obliged to unlearn much. The youthful
student of history has a distinct advantage over us in that he begins
with a correct knowledge of the main historical facts. He does not for
example learn what we all used to learn--that in the year 1000 the
appearance of a fiery comet caused a panic of terror to fall upon
Christendom and gave rise to the belief that the end of the world was at
hand. Nor is he taught that the followers of Peter the Hermit in the
first crusade were a number of spiritually minded men and women of
austere morality. It is to the University that we owe it that we are
seeing things as they are in history, that the fables, the fallacies,
and the exaggerations are disappearing from the books.

To regard the past with accuracy and truth is a preparation for
envisaging the present in the same way. For this attitude towards the
past and the present gained by college students of history, and for
other reasons which it is not necessary here to detail, the man of
University training has, other things being equal, this advantage over
him who lacks it, that in life in the world he will get at things more
certainly and state them more accurately.

"A university," said Lowell, "is a place where nothing useful is
taught." By utility Lowell undoubtedly meant, to use the definition
which Huxley puts into the average Englishman's mouth, "that by which we
get pudding or praise or both." A natural reply to the statement of
Lowell is that great numbers of fathers every year, at a pecuniary
sacrifice, send their sons to college with the idea of fitting them
better to earn their living, in obedience to the general sentiment of
men of this country that there is a money value to college training. But
the remark of Lowell suggests another object of the University which, to
use the words of Huxley again, is "to catch the exceptional people, the
glorious sports of nature, and turn them to account for the good of
society." This appeals to those imbued with the spirit of the academy
who frankly acknowledge, in the main, our inferiority in the
scholarship, which produces great works of literature and science, to
England, Germany, and France, and who with patriotic eagerness wish that
we may reach the height attained in the older countries. To recur to my
own study again, should we produce a historian or historical writer the
equal of Gibbon, Mommsen, Carlyle, or Macaulay there would be a feeling
of pride in our historical genius which would make itself felt at every
academical and historical gathering. We have something of that sentiment
in regard to Francis Parkman, our most original historian. But it may
be that the historical field of Parkman is too narrow to awaken a
world-wide interest and I suspect that the American who will be
recognized as the equal of Gibbon, Mommsen, Carlyle, or Macaulay must
secure that recognition by writing of some period of European history
better than the Englishman, German, or Frenchman has written of it. He
must do it not only in the way of scientific history, in which in his
field Henry Charles Lea has won so much honor for himself and his
country, but he must bring to bear on his history that quality which has
made the historical writings of Gibbon, Carlyle, and Macaulay


Lecture read at Harvard University, April 6, 1908, and printed in
_Scribner's Magazine_, June, 1909.


No English or American lover of history visits Rome without bending
reverent footsteps to the Church of Santa Maria in Ara Coeli. Two visits
are necessary, as on the first you are at once seized by the sacristan,
who can conceive of no other motive for entering this church on the
Capitol Hill than to see the miraculous Bambino--the painted doll
swaddled in gold and silver tissue and "crusted over with magnificent
diamonds, emeralds, and rubies." When you have heard the tale of what
has been called "the oldest medical practitioner in Rome," of his
miraculous cures, of these votive offerings, the imaginary picture you
had conjured up is effaced; and it is better to go away and come a
second time when the sacristan will recognize you and leave you to
yourself. Then you may open your Gibbon's Autobiography and read that it
was the subtle influence of Italy and Rome that determined the choice,
from amongst many contemplated subjects of historical writing, of "The
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." "In my Journal," wrote Gibbon,
"the place and moment of conception are recorded; the 15th of October,
1764, in the close of the evening, as I sat musing in the Church of the
Franciscan friars while they were singing vespers in the Temple of
Jupiter on the ruins of the Capitol."[46] Gibbon was twenty-seven when
he made this fruitful visit of eighteen weeks to Rome, and his first
impression, though often quoted, never loses interest, showing, as it
does, the enthusiasm of an unemotional man. "At the distance of
twenty-five years," he wrote, "I can neither forget nor express the
strong emotions which agitated my mind as I first approached and entered
the _Eternal City_. After a sleepless night, I trod with a lofty step
the ruins of the Forum; each memorable spot where Romulus _stood_ or
Cicero spoke or Cæsar fell was at once present to my eye."

The admirer of Gibbon as he travels northward will stop at Lausanne and
visit the hotel which bears the historian's name. Twice have I taken
luncheon in the garden where he wrote the last words of his history; and
on a third visit, after lunching at another inn, I could not fail to
admire the penetration of the Swiss concierge. As I alighted, he seemed
to divine at once the object of my visit, and before I had half the
words of explanation out of my mouth, he said, "Oh, yes. It is this way.
But I cannot show you anything but a spot." I have quoted from Gibbon's
Autobiography the expression of his inspiration of twenty-seven; a
fitting companion-piece is the reflection of the man of fifty. "I have
presumed to mark the moment of conception," he wrote; "I shall now
commemorate the hour of my final deliverance. It was on the day, or
rather the night, of the 27th of June, 1787, between the hours of eleven
and twelve, that I wrote the last lines of the last page in a
summer-house in my garden.... I will not dissemble the first emotions of
joy on the recovery of my freedom and perhaps the establishment of my
fame. But my pride was soon humbled, and a sober melancholy was spread
over my mind by the idea that I had taken my everlasting leave of an old
and agreeable companion."[47]

Although the idea was conceived when Gibbon was twenty-seven, he was
thirty-one before he set himself seriously at work to study his
material. At thirty-six he began the composition, and he was
thirty-nine, when, in February, 1776, the first quarto volume was
published. The history had an immediate success. "My book," he wrote,
"was on every table and almost on every toilette; the historian was
crowned by the taste or fashion of the day."[48] The first edition was
exhausted in a few days, a second was printed in 1776, and next year a
third. The second and third volumes, which ended the history of the
Western empire, were published in 1781, and seven years later the three
volumes devoted to the Eastern empire saw the light. The last sentence
of the work, written in the summer-house at Lausanne, is, "It was among
the ruins of the Capitol that I first conceived the idea of a work which
has amused and exercised near twenty years of my life, and which,
however inadequate to my own wishes, I finally deliver to the curiosity
and candor of the public."

This is a brief account of one of the greatest historical works, if
indeed it is not the greatest, ever written. Let us imagine an
assemblage of English, German, and American historical scholars called
upon to answer the question, Who is the greatest modern historian? No
doubt can exist that Gibbon would have a large majority of the voices;
and I think a like meeting of French and Italian scholars would indorse
the verdict. "Gibbon's work will never be excelled," declared
Niebuhr.[49] "That great master of us all," said Freeman, "whose
immortal tale none of us can hope to displace."[50] Bury, the latest
editor of Gibbon, who has acutely criticised and carefully weighed "The
Decline and Fall," concludes "that Gibbon is behind date in many
details. But in the main things he is still our master, above and beyond
date."[51] His work wins plaudits from those who believe that history
in its highest form should be literature and from those who hold that it
should be nothing more than a scientific narrative. The disciples of
Macaulay and Carlyle, of Stubbs and Gardiner, would be found voting in
unison in my imaginary Congress. Gibbon, writes Bury, is "the historian
and the man of letters," thus ranking with Thucydides and Tacitus. These
three are put in the highest class, exemplifying that "brilliance of
style and accuracy of statement are perfectly compatible in an
historian."[52] Accepting this authoritative classification it is well
worth while to point out the salient differences between the ancient
historians and the modern. From Thucydides we have twenty-four years of
contemporary history of his own country. If the whole of the Annals and
History of Tacitus had come down to us, we should have had eighty-three
years; as it is, we actually have forty-one of nearly contemporary
history of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's tale covers 1240 years. He went
far beyond his own country for his subject, and the date of his
termination is three centuries before he was born. Milman spoke of "the
amplitude, the magnificence, and the harmony of Gibbon's design,"[53]
and Bury writes, "If we take into account the vast range of his work,
his accuracy is amazing."[54] Men have wondered and will long wonder at
the brain with such a grasp and with the power to execute skillfully so
mighty a conception. "The public is seldom wrong" in their judgment of a
book, wrote Gibbon in his Autobiography,[55] and, if that be true at the
time of actual publication to which Gibbon intended to apply the remark,
how much truer it is in the long run of years. "The Decline and Fall of
the Roman Empire" has had a life of over one hundred and thirty years,
and there is no indication that it will not endure as long as any
interest is taken in the study of history. "I have never presumed to
accept a place in the triumvirate of British historians," said Gibbon,
referring to Hume and Robertson. But in our day Hume and Robertson
gather dust on the shelf, while Gibbon is continually studied by
students and read by serious men.

A work covering Gibbon's vast range of time would have been impossible
for Thucydides or Tacitus. Historical skepticism had not been fully
enough developed. There had not been a sufficient sifting and criticism
of historical materials for a master's work of synthesis. And it is
probable that Thucydides lacked a model. Tacitus could indeed have drawn
inspiration from the Greek, while Gibbon had lessons from both, showing
a profound study of Tacitus and a thorough acquaintance with Thucydides.

If circumstances then made it impossible for the Greek or the Roman to
attempt history on the grand scale of Gibbon, could Gibbon have written
contemporary history with accuracy and impartiality equal to his great
predecessors? This is one of those delightful questions that may be ever
discussed and never resolved. When twenty-three years old, arguing
against the desire of his father that he should go into Parliament,
Gibbon assigned, as one of the reasons, that he lacked "necessary
prejudices of party and of nation";[56] and when in middle life he
embraced the fortunate opportunity of becoming a member of the House of
Commons, he thus summed up his experience, "The eight sessions that I
sat in Parliament were a school of civil prudence, the first and most
essential virtue of an historian."[57] At the end of this political
career, Gibbon, in a private letter to an intimate Swiss friend, gave
the reason why he had embraced it. "I entered Parliament," he said,
"without patriotism, and without ambition, and I had no other aim than
to secure the comfortable and honest place of a _Lord of Trade_. I
obtained this place at last. I held it for three years, from 1779 to
1782, and the net annual product of it, being £750 sterling, increased
my revenue to the level of my wants and desires."[58] His retirement
from Parliament was followed by ten years' residence at Lausanne, in the
first four of which he completed his history. A year and a half after
his removal to Lausanne, he referred, in a letter to his closest friend,
Lord Sheffield, to the "abyss of your cursed politics," and added: "I
never was a very warm patriot and I grow every day a citizen of the
world. The scramble for power and profit at Westminster or St. James's,
and the names of Pitt and Fox become less interesting to me than those
of Cæsar and Pompey."[59]

These expressions would seem to indicate that Gibbon might have written
contemporary history well and that the candor displayed in "The Decline
and Fall" might not have been lacking had he written of England in his
own time. But that subject he never contemplated. When twenty-four years
old he had however considered a number of English periods and finally
fixed upon Sir Walter Raleigh for his hero; but a year later, he wrote
in his journal: "I shrink with terror from the modern history of
England, where every character is a problem, and every reader a friend
or an enemy; where a writer is supposed to hoist a flag of party and is
devoted to damnation by the adverse faction.... I must embrace a safer
and more extensive theme."[60]

How well Gibbon knew himself! Despite his coolness and candor, war and
revolution revealed his strong Tory prejudices, which he undoubtedly
feared might color any history of England that he might undertake. "I
took my seat," in the House of Commons, he wrote, "at the beginning of
the memorable contest between Great Britain and America; and supported
with many a sincere and _silent_ vote the rights though perhaps not the
interests of the mother country."[61] In 1782 he recorded the
conclusion: "The American war had once been the favorite of the country,
the pride of England was irritated by the resistance of her colonies,
and the executive power was driven by national clamor into the most
vigorous and coercive measures." But it was a fruitless contest. Armies
were lost; the debt and taxes were increased; the hostile confederacy of
France, Spain and Holland was disquieting. As a result the war became
unpopular and Lord North's ministry fell. Dr. Johnson thought that no
nation not absolutely conquered had declined so much in so short a time.
"We seem to be sinking," he said. "I am afraid of a civil war." Dr.
Franklin, according to Horace Walpole, said "he would furnish Mr. Gibbon
with materials for writing the History of the Decline of the British
Empire." With his country tottering, the self-centered but truthful
Gibbon could not avoid mention of his personal loss, due to the fall of
his patron, Lord North. "I was stripped of a convenient salary," he
said, "after having enjoyed it about three years."[62]

The outbreak of the French Revolution intensified his conservatism. He
was then at Lausanne, the tranquillity of which was broken up by the
dissolution of the neighboring kingdom. Many Lausanne families were
terrified by the menace of bankruptcy. "This town and country," Gibbon
wrote, "are crowded with noble exiles, and we sometimes count in an
assembly a dozen princesses and duchesses."[63] Bitter disputes between
them and the triumphant Democrats disturbed the harmony of social
circles. Gibbon espoused the cause of the royalists. "I beg leave to
subscribe my assent to Mr. Burke's creed on the Revolution of France,"
he wrote. "I admire his eloquence, I approve his politics, I adore his
chivalry, and I can almost excuse his reverence for Church
establishments."[64] Thirteen days after the massacre of the Swiss guard
in the attack on the Tuileries in August, 1792, Gibbon wrote to Lord
Sheffield, "The last revolution of Paris appears to have convinced
almost everybody of the fatal consequences of Democratical principles
which lead by a path of flowers into the abyss of hell."[65] Gibbon, who
was astonished by so few things in history, wrote Sainte-Beuve, was
amazed by the French Revolution.[66] Nothing could be more natural. The
historian in his study may consider the fall of dynasties, social
upheavals, violent revolutions, and the destruction of order without a
tremor. The things have passed away. The events furnish food for his
reflections and subjects for his pen, while sanguine uprisings at home
or in a neighboring country in his own time inspire him with terror lest
the oft-prophesied dissolution of society is at hand. It is the
difference between the earthquake in your own city and the one 3000
miles away. As Gibbon's pocket-nerve was sensitive, it may be he was
also thinking of the £1300 he had invested in 1784 in the new loan of
the King of France, deeming the French funds as solid as the

It is well now to repeat our dictum that Gibbon is the greatest modern
historian, but, in reasserting this, it is no more than fair to cite the
opinions of two dissentients--the great literary historians of the
nineteenth century, Macaulay and Carlyle. "The truth is," wrote Macaulay
in his diary, "that I admire no historians much except Herodotus,
Thucydides, and Tacitus.... There is merit no doubt in Hume, Robertson,
Voltaire, and Gibbon. Yet it is not the thing. I have a conception of
history more just, I am confident, than theirs."[68] "Gibbon," said
Carlyle in a public lecture, is "a greater historian than Robertson but
not so great as Hume. With all his swagger and bombast, no man ever gave
a more futile account of human things than he has done of the decline
and fall of the Roman Empire; assigning no profound cause for these
phenomena, nothing but diseased nerves, and all sorts of miserable
motives, to the actors in them."[69] Carlyle's statement shows envious
criticism as well as a prejudice in favor of his brother Scotchman. It
was made in 1838, since when opinion has raised Gibbon to the top, for
he actually lives while Hume is read perfunctorily, if at all. Moreover
among the three--Gibbon, Macaulay, and Carlyle--whose works are
literature as well as history, modern criticism has no hesitation in
awarding the palm to Gibbon.

Before finally deciding upon his subject Gibbon thought of "The History
of the Liberty of the Swiss" and "The History of the Republic of
Florence under the House of Medicis,"[70] but in the end, as we have
seen, he settled on the later history of the Roman Empire, showing, as
Lowell said of Parkman, his genius in the choice of his subject. His
history really begins with the death of Marcus Aurelius, 180 A.D., but
the main narrative is preceded by three excellent introductory chapters,
covering in Bury's edition eighty-two pages. After the completion of his
work, he regretted that he had not begun it at an earlier period. On
the first page of his own printed copy of his book where he announces
his design, he has entered this marginal note: "Should I not have given
the _history_ of that fortunate period which was interposed between two
iron ages? Should I not have deduced the decline of the Empire from the
Civil Wars that ensued after the Fall of Nero or even from the tyranny
which succeeded the reign of Augustus? Alas! I should; but of what avail
is this tardy knowledge?"[71] We may echo Gibbon's regret that he had
not commenced his history with the reign of Tiberius, as, in his
necessary use of Tacitus, we should have had the running comment of one
great historian on another, of which we have a significant example in
Gibbon's famous sixteenth chapter wherein he discusses Tacitus's account
of the persecution of the Christians by Nero. With his power of historic
divination, he would have so absorbed Tacitus and his time that the
history would almost have seemed a collaboration between two great and
sympathetic minds. "Tacitus," he wrote, "very frequently trusts to the
curiosity or reflection of his readers to supply those intermediate
circumstances and ideas, which, in his extreme conciseness, he has
thought proper to suppress."[72] How Gibbon would have filled those
gaps! Though he was seldom swayed by enthusiasm, his admiration of the
Roman historian fell little short of idolatry. His references in "The
Decline and Fall" are many, and some of them are here worth recalling to
mind. "In their primitive state of simplicity and independence," he
wrote, "the Germans were surveyed by the discerning eye and delineated
by the masterly pencil of Tacitus, the first of historians who applied
the science of philosophy to the study of facts."[73] Again he speaks of
him as "the philosophic historian whose writings will instruct the last
generation of mankind."[74] And in Chapter XVI he devoted five pages to
citation from, and comment on, Tacitus, and paid him one of the most
splendid tributes one historian ever paid another. "To collect, to
dispose, and to adorn a series of fourscore years in an immortal work,
every sentence of which is pregnant with the deepest observations and
the most lively images, was an undertaking sufficient to exercise the
genius of Tacitus himself during the greatest part of his life."[75] So
much for admiration. That, nevertheless, Gibbon could wield the critical
pen at the expense of the historian he rated so highly, is shown by a
marginal note in his own printed copy of "The Decline and Fall." It will
be remembered that Tacitus published his History and wrote his Annals
during the reign of Trajan, whom he undoubtedly respected and admired.
He referred to the reigns of Nerva and Trajan in suggested contrast to
that of Domitian as "times when men were blessed with the rare privilege
of thinking with freedom, and uttering what they thought."[76] It fell
to both Tacitus and Gibbon to speak of the testament of Augustus which,
after his death, was read in the Senate: and Tacitus wrote, Augustus
"added a recommendation to keep the empire within fixed limits," on
which he thus commented, "but whether from apprehension for its safety,
or jealousy of future rivals, is uncertain."[77] Gibbon thus criticised
this comment: "Why must rational advice be imputed to a base or foolish
motive? To what cause, error, malevolence, or flattery, shall I ascribe
the unworthy alternative? Was the historian dazzled by Trajan's

The intellectual training of the greatest modern historian is a matter
of great interest. "From my early youth," wrote Gibbon in his
Autobiography, "I aspired to the character of an historian."[79] He had
"an early and invincible love of reading" which he said he "would not
exchange for the treasures of India" and which led him to a "vague and
multifarious" perusal of books. Before he reached the age of fifteen he
was matriculated at Magdalen College, giving this account of his
preparation. "I arrived at Oxford," he said, "with a stock of erudition
that might have puzzled a Doctor and a degree of ignorance of which a
schoolboy would have been ashamed."[80] He did not adapt himself to the
life or the method of Oxford, and from them apparently derived no
benefit. "I spent fourteen months at Magdalen College," he wrote; "they
proved the fourteen months the most idle and unprofitable of my whole
life."[81] He became a Roman Catholic. It was quite characteristic of
this bookish man that his conversion was effected, not by the emotional
influence of some proselytizer, but by the reading of books. English
translations of two famous works of Bossuet fell into his hands. "I
read," he said, "I applauded, I believed ... and I surely fell by a
noble hand." Before a priest in London, on June 8, 1753, he privately
"abjured the errors of heresy" and was admitted into the "pale of the
church." But at that time this was a serious business for both priest
and proselyte. For the rule laid down by Blackstone was this, "Where a
person is reconciled to the see of Rome, or procures others to be
reconciled, the offence amounts to High-Treason." This severe rule was
not enforced, but there were milder laws under which a priest might
suffer perpetual imprisonment and the proselyte's estate be transferred
to his nearest relations. Under such laws prosecutions were had and
convictions obtained. Little wonder was it when Gibbon apprised his
father in an "elaborate controversial epistle" of the serious step
which he had taken, that the elder Gibbon should be astonished and
indignant. In his passion he divulged the secret which effectually
closed the gates of Magdalen College to his son,[82] who was packed off
to Lausanne and "settled under the roof and tuition" of a Calvinist
minister.[83] Edward Gibbon passed nearly five years at Lausanne, from
the age of sixteen to that of twenty-one, and they were fruitful years
for his education. It was almost entirely an affair of self-training, as
his tutor soon perceived that the student had gone beyond the teacher
and allowed him to pursue his own special bent. After his history was
published and his fame won, he recorded this opinion: "In the life of
every man of letters there is an æra, from a level, from whence he soars
with his own wings to his proper height, and the most important part of
his education is that which he bestows on himself."[84] This was
certainly true in Gibbon's case. On his arrival at Lausanne he hardly
knew any French, but before he returned to England he thought
spontaneously in French and understood, spoke, and wrote it better than
he did his mother tongue.[85] He read Montesquieu frequently and was
struck with his "energy of style and boldness of hypothesis." Among the
books which "may have remotely contributed to form the historian of the
Roman Empire" were the Provincial Letters of Pascal, which he read "with
a new pleasure" almost every year. From them he said, "I learned to
manage the weapon of grave and temperate irony, even on subjects of
ecclesiastical solemnity." As one thinks of his chapters in "The Decline
and Fall" on Julian, one is interested to know that during this period
he was introduced to the life and times of this Roman emperor by a book
written by a French abbé. He read Locke, Grotius, and Puffendorf, but
unquestionably his greatest knowledge, mental discipline, and peculiar
mastery of his own tongue came from his diligent and systematic study of
the Latin classics. He read nearly all of the historians, poets,
orators, and philosophers, going over for a second or even a third time
Terence, Virgil, Horace, and Tacitus. He mastered Cicero's Orations and
Letters so that they became ingrained in his mental fiber, and he termed
these and his other works, "a library of eloquence and reason." "As I
read Cicero," he wrote, "I applauded the observation of Quintilian, that
every student may judge of his own proficiency by the satisfaction which
he receives from the Roman orator." And again, "Cicero's epistles may in
particular afford the models of every form of correspondence from the
careless effusions of tenderness and friendship to the well-guarded
declaration of discreet and dignified resentment."[86] Gibbon never
mastered Greek as he did Latin; and Dr. Smith, one of his editors,
points out where he has fallen into three errors from the use of the
French or Latin translation of Procopius instead of consulting the
original.[87] Indeed he himself has disclosed one defect of
self-training. Referring to his youthful residence at Lausanne, he
wrote: "I worked my way through about half the Iliad, and afterwards
interpreted alone a large portion of Xenophon and Herodotus. But my
ardor, destitute of aid and emulation, was gradually cooled and, from
the barren task of searching words in a lexicon, I withdrew to the free
and familiar conversation of Virgil and Tacitus."[88]

All things considered, however, it was an excellent training for a
historian of the Roman Empire. But all except the living knowledge of
French he might have had in his "elegant apartment in Magdalen College"
just as well as in his "ill-contrived and ill-furnished small chamber"
in "an old inconvenient house," situated in a "narrow gloomy street, the
most unfrequented of an unhandsome town";[89] and in Oxford he would
have had the "aid and emulation" of which at Lausanne he sadly felt the

The Calvinist minister, his tutor, was a more useful guide for Gibbon in
the matter of religion than in his intellectual training. Through his
efforts and Gibbon's "private reflections," Christmas Day, 1754, one
year and a half after his arrival at Lausanne, was witness to his
reconversion, as he then received the sacrament in the Calvinistic
Church. "The articles of the Romish creed," he said, had "disappeared
like a dream"; and he wrote home to his aunt, "I am now a good
Protestant and am extremely glad of it."[90]

An intellectual and social experience of value was his meeting with
Voltaire, who had set up a theater in the neighborhood of Lausanne for
the performance mainly of his own plays. Gibbon seldom failed to procure
a ticket to these representations. Voltaire played the parts suited to
his years; his declamation, Gibbon thought, was old-fashioned, and "he
expressed the enthusiasm of poetry rather than the feelings of nature."
"The parts of the young and fair," he said, "were distorted by
Voltaire's fat and ugly niece." Despite this criticism, these
performances fostered a taste for the French theater, to the abatement
of his idolatry for Shakespeare, which seemed to him to be "inculcated
from our infancy as the first duty of an Englishman."[91] Personally,
Voltaire and Gibbon did not get on well together. Dr. Hill suggests that
Voltaire may have slighted the "English youth," and if this is correct,
Gibbon was somewhat spiteful to carry the feeling more than thirty
years. Besides the criticism of the acting, he called Voltaire "the
envious bard" because it was only with much reluctance and ill-humor
that he permitted the performance of Iphigenie of Racine. Nevertheless,
Gibbon is impressed with the social influence of the great Frenchman.
"The wit and philosophy of Voltaire, his table and theatre," he wrote,
"refined in a visible degree the manners of Lausanne, and however
addicted to study, I enjoyed my share of the amusements of society.
After the theatrical representations, I sometimes supped with the
actors: I was now familiar in some, and acquainted in many, houses; and
my evenings were generally devoted to cards and conversation, either in
private parties or numerous assemblies."[92]

Gibbon was twenty-one when he returned to England. Dividing his time
between London and the country, he continued his self-culture. He read
English, French, and Latin, and took up the study of Greek. "Every day,
every hour," he wrote, "was agreeably filled"; and "I was never less
alone than when by myself."[93] He read repeatedly Robertson and Hume,
and has in the words of Sainte-Beuve left a testimony so spirited and so
delicately expressed as could have come only from a man of taste who
appreciated Xenophon.[94] "The perfect composition, the nervous
language," wrote Gibbon, "the well-turned periods of Dr. Robertson
inflamed me to the ambitious hope that I might one day tread in his
footsteps; the calm philosophy, the careless inimitable beauties of his
friend and rival, often forced me to close the volume with a mixed
sensation of delight and despair."[95] He made little progress in London
society and his solitary evenings were passed with his books, but he
consoled himself by thinking that he lost nothing by a withdrawal from a
"noisy and expensive scene of crowds without company, and dissipation
without pleasure." At twenty-four he published his "Essay on the Study
of Literature," begun at Lausanne and written entirely in French. This
possesses no interest for the historical student except to know the bare
fact of the writing and publication as a step in the intellectual
development of the historian. Sainte-Beuve in his two essays on Gibbon
devoted three pages to an abstract and criticism of it, perhaps because
it had a greater success in France than in England; and his opinion of
Gibbon's language is interesting. "The French" Sainte-Beuve wrote, "is
that of one who has read Montesquieu much and imitates him; it is
correct, but artificial French."[96]

Then followed two and a half years' service in the Hampshire militia.
But he did not neglect his reading. He mastered Homer, whom he termed
"the Bible of the ancients," and in the militia he acquired "a just and
indelible knowledge" of what he called "the first of languages." And his
love for Latin abided also: "On every march, in every journey, Horace
was always in my pocket and often in my hand."[97] Practical knowledge
he absorbed almost insensibly. "The daily occupations of the militia,"
he wrote, "introduced me to the science of Tactics" and led to the study
of "the precepts of Polybius and Cæsar." In this connection occurs the
remark which admirers of Gibbon will never tire of citing: "A familiar
view of the discipline and evolutions of a modern battalion gave me a
clearer notion of the Phalanx and the Legion; and the Captain of the
Hampshire Grenadiers (the reader may smile) has not been useless to the
historian of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire."[98] The grand
tour followed his militia service. Three and a half months in Paris, and
a revisit to Lausanne preceded the year that he passed in Italy. Of the
conception of the History of the Decline and Fall, during his stay in
Rome, I have already spoken.

On his return to England, contemplating "the decline and fall of Rome at
an awful distance," he began, in collaboration with the Swiss Deyverdun,
his bosom friend, a history of Switzerland written in French. During the
winter of 1767, the first book of it was submitted to a literary society
of foreigners in London. As the author was unknown the strictures were
free and the verdict unfavorable. Gibbon was present at the meeting and
related that "the momentary sensation was painful," but, on cooler
reflection, he agreed with his judges and intended to consign his
manuscript to the flames. But this, as Lord Sheffield, his literary
executor and first editor, shows conclusively, he neglected to do.[99]
This essay of Gibbon's possesses interest for us, inasmuch as David Hume
read it, and wrote to Gibbon a friendly letter, in which he said: "I
have perused your manuscript with great pleasure and satisfaction. I
have only one objection, derived from the language in which it is
written. Why do you compose in French, and carry faggots into the wood,
as Horace says with regard to Romans who wrote in Greek?"[100] This
critical query of Hume must have profoundly influenced Gibbon. Next year
he began to work seriously on "The Decline and Fall" and five years
later began the composition of it in English. It does not appear that he
had any idea of writing his magnum opus in French.

In this rambling discourse, in which I have purposely avoided relating
the life of Gibbon in anything like a chronological order, we return
again and again to the great History. And it could not well be
otherwise. For if Edward Gibbon could not have proudly said, I am the
author of "six volumes in quartos"[101] he would have had no interest
for us. Dr. Hill writes, "For one reader who has read his 'Decline and
Fall,' there are at least a score who have read his Autobiography, and
who know him, not as the great historian, but as a man of a most
original and interesting nature."[102] But these twenty people would
never have looked into the Autobiography had it not been the life of a
great historian; indeed the Autobiography would never have been written
except to give an account of a great life work. "The Decline and Fall,"
therefore, is the thing about which all the other incidents of his life
revolve. The longer this history is read and studied, the greater is the
appreciation of it. Dean Milman followed Gibbon's track through many
portions of his work, and read his authorities, ending with a deliberate
judgment in favor of his "general accuracy." "Many of his seeming
errors," he wrote, "are almost inevitable from the close condensation of
his matter."[103] Guizot had three different opinions based on three
various readings. After the first rapid perusal, the dominant feeling
was one of interest in a narrative, always animated in spite of its
extent, always clear and limpid in spite of the variety of objects.
During the second reading, when he examined particularly certain points,
he was somewhat disappointed; he encountered some errors either in the
citations or in the facts and especially shades and strokes of
partiality which led him to a comparatively rigorous judgment. In the
ensuing complete third reading, the first impression, doubtless
corrected by the second, but not destroyed, survived and was
maintained; and with some restrictions and reservations, Guizot declared
that, concerning that vast and able work, there remained with him an
appreciation of the immensity of research, the variety of knowledge, the
sagacious breadth and especially that truly philosophical rectitude of a
mind which judges the past as it would judge the present.[104] Mommsen
said in 1894: "Amid all the changes that have come over the study of the
history of the Roman Empire, in spite of all the rush of the new
evidence that has poured in upon us and almost overwhelmed us, in spite
of changes which must be made, in spite of alterations of view, or
alterations even in the aspect of great characters, no one would in the
future be able to read the history of the Roman Empire unless he read,
possibly with a fuller knowledge, but with the broad views, the clear
insight, the strong grasp of Edward Gibbon."[105]

It is difficult for an admirer of Gibbon to refrain from quoting some of
his favorite passages. The opinion of a great historian on history
always possesses interest. History, wrote Gibbon, is "little more than
the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind." Again,
"Wars and the administration of public affairs are the principal
subjects of history." And the following cannot fail to recall a similar
thought in Tacitus, "History undertakes to record the transactions of
the past for the instruction of future ages."[106] Two references to
religion under the Pagan empire are always worth repeating. "The various
modes of worship which prevailed in the Roman world," he wrote, "were
all considered by the people as equally true; by the philosopher as
equally false; and by the magistrate as equally useful." "The fashion of
incredulity was communicated from the philosopher to the man of
pleasure or business, from the noble to the plebeian, and from the
master to the menial slave who waited at his table and who equally
listened to the freedom of his conversation."[107] Gibbon's idea of the
happiest period of mankind is interesting and characteristic. "If," he
wrote, "a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world
during which the condition of the human race was most happy and
prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from
the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus."[108] This period
was from A.D. 96 to 180, covering the reigns of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian,
Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius. Professor Carter, in a lecture in
Rome in 1907, drew, by a modern comparison, a characterization of the
first three named. When we were studying in Germany, he said, we were
accustomed to sum up the three emperors, William I, Frederick III, and
William II, as der greise Kaiser, der weise Kaiser, und der reise
Kaiser. The characterizations will fit well Nerva, Trajan, and Hadrian.
Gibbon speaks of the "restless activity" of Hadrian, whose life "was
almost a perpetual journey," and who during his reign visited every
province of his empire.[109]

A casual remark of Gibbon's, "Corruption [is] the most infallible
symptom of constitutional liberty,"[110] shows the sentiment of the
eighteenth century. The generality of the history becomes specific in a
letter to his father, who has given him hopes of a seat in Parliament.
"This seat," so Edward Gibbon wrote, "according to the custom of our
venal country was to be bought, and fifteen hundred pounds were
mentioned as the price of purchase."[111]

Gibbon anticipated Captain Mahan. In speaking of a naval battle between
the fleet of Justinian and that of the Goths in which the galleys of the
Eastern empire gained a signal victory, he wrote, "The Goths affected to
depreciate an element in which they were unskilled; but their own
experience confirmed the truth of a maxim, that the master of the sea
will always acquire the dominion of the land."[112] But Gibbon's
anticipation was one of the frequent cases where the same idea has
occurred to a number of men of genius, as doubtless Captain Mahan was
not aware of this sentence any more than he was of Bacon's and Raleigh's
epitomes of the theme which he has so originally and brilliantly

No modern historian has been the subject of so much critical comment as
Gibbon. I do not know how it will compare in volume with either of the
similar examinations of Thucydides and Tacitus; but the criticism is of
a different sort. The only guarantee of the honesty of Tacitus, wrote
Sainte-Beuve, is Tacitus himself;[114] and a like remark will apply to
Thucydides. But a fierce light beats on Gibbon. His voluminous notes
furnish the critics the materials on which he built his history, which,
in the case of the ancient historians, must be largely a matter of
conjecture. With all the searching examination of "The Decline and
Fall," it is surprising how few errors have been found and, of the
errors which have been noted, how few are really important. Guizot,
Milman, Dr. Smith, Cotter Morison, Bury, and a number of lesser lights
have raked his text and his notes with few momentous results. We have,
writes Bury, improved methods over Gibbon and "much new material of
various kinds," but "Gibbon's historical sense kept him constantly right
in dealing with his sources"; and "in the main things he is still our
master."[115] The man is generally reflected in his book. That Gibbon
has been weighed and not found wanting is because he was as honest and
truthful as any man who ever wrote history. The autobiographies and
letters exhibit to us a transparent man, which indeed some of the
personal allusions in the history might have foreshadowed. "I have often
fluctuated and shall _tamely_ follow the Colbert Ms.," he wrote, where
the authenticity of a book was in question.[116] In another case "the
scarcity of facts and the uncertainty of dates" opposed his attempt to
describe the first invasion of Italy by Alaric.[117] In the beginning of
the famous Chapter XLIV which is "admired by jurists as a brief and
brilliant exposition of the principles of Roman law,"[118] Gibbon wrote,
"Attached to no party, interested only for the truth and candor of
history, and directed by the most temperate and skillful guides, I enter
with just diffidence on the subject of civil law."[119] In speaking of
the state of Britain between 409 and 449, he said, "I owe it to myself
and to historic truth to declare that some _circumstances_ in this
paragraph are founded only on conjecture and analogy."[120] Throughout
his whole work the scarcity of materials forces Gibbon to the frequent
use of conjecture, but I believe that for the most part his conjectures
seem reasonable to the critics. Impressed with the correctness of his
account of the Eastern empire a student of the subject once told me that
Gibbon certainly possessed the power of wise divination.

Gibbon's striving after precision and accuracy is shown in some marginal
corrections he made in his own printed copy of "The Decline and Fall."
On the first page in his first printed edition and as it now stands, he
said, "To deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and
fall: a revolution which will ever be remembered and is still felt by
the nations of the earth." For this the following is substituted: "To
prosecute the decline and fall of the empire of Rome: of whose language,
religion, and laws the impression will be long preserved in our own and
the neighboring countries of Europe." He thus explains the change: "Mr.
Hume told me that, in correcting his history, he always labored to
reduce superlatives and soften positives. Have Asia and Africa, from
Japan to Morocco, any feeling or memory of the Roman Empire?"

On page 6, Bury's edition, the text is, "The praises of Alexander,
transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a
dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan." We can imagine that Gibbon
reflected, What evidence have I that Trajan had read these poets and
historians? Therefore he made this change: "Late generations and far
distant climates may impute their calamities to the immortal author of
the Iliad. The spirit of Alexander was inflamed by the praises of
Achilles; and succeeding heroes have been ambitious to tread in the
footsteps of Alexander. Like him, the Emperor Trajan aspired to the
conquest of the East."[121]

The "advertisement" to the first octavo edition published in 1783 is an
instance of Gibbon's truthfulness. He wrote, "Some alterations and
improvements had presented themselves to my mind, but I was unwilling to
injure or offend the purchasers of the preceding editions." Then he
seems to reflect that this is not quite the whole truth and adds,
"Perhaps I may stand excused if, amidst the avocations of a busy winter,
I have preferred the pleasures of composition and study to the minute
diligence of revising a former publication."[122]

The severest criticism that Gibbon has received is on his famous
chapters XV and XVI which conclude his first volume in the original
quarto edition of 1776. We may disregard the flood of contemporary
criticism from certain people who were excited by what they deemed an
attack on the Christian religion. Dean Milman, who objected seriously to
much in these chapters, consulted these various answers to Gibbon on the
first appearance of his work with, according to his own confession,
little profit.[123] "Against his celebrated fifteenth and sixteenth
chapters," wrote Buckle, "all the devices of controversy have been
exhausted; but the only result has been, that while the fame of the
historian is untarnished, the attacks of his enemies are falling into
complete oblivion. The work of Gibbon remains; but who is there who
feels any interest in what was written against him?"[124] During the
last generation, however, criticism has taken another form and
scientific men now do not exactly share Buckle's gleeful opinion. Both
Bury and Cotter Morison state or imply that well-grounded exceptions may
be taken to Gibbon's treatment of the early Christian church. He ignored
some facts; his combination of others, his inferences, his opinions are
not fair and unprejudiced. A further grave objection may be made to the
tone of these two chapters: sarcasm pervades them and the Gibbon sneer
has become an apt characterization.

Francis Parkman admitted that he was a reverent agnostic, and if Gibbon
had been a reverent free-thinker these two chapters would have been far
different in tone. Lecky regarded the Christian church as a great
institution worthy of reverence and respect although he stated the
central thesis of Gibbon with emphasis just as great. Of the conversion
of the Roman Empire to Christianity, Lecky wrote, "it may be boldly
asserted that the assumption of a moral or intellectual miracle is
utterly gratuitous. Never before was a religious transformation so
manifestly inevitable."[125] Gibbon's sneering tone was a characteristic
of his time. There existed during the latter part of the eighteenth
century, wrote Sir James Mackintosh, "an unphilosophical and indeed
fanatical animosity against Christianity." But Gibbon's private defense
is entitled to consideration as placing him in a better light. "The
primitive church, which I have treated with some freedom," he wrote to
Lord Sheffield in 1791, "was itself at that time an innovation, and I
was attached to the old Pagan establishment."[126] "Had I believed," he
said in his Autobiography, "that the majority of English readers were so
fondly attached to the name and shadow of Christianity, had I foreseen
that the pious, the timid, and the prudent would feel, or affect to
feel, with such exquisite sensibility, I might perhaps have softened the
two invidious chapters."[127]

On the other hand Gibbon's treatment of Julian the Apostate is in
accordance with the best modern standard. It might have been supposed
that a quasi-Pagan, as he avowed himself, would have emphasized Julian's
virtues and ignored his weaknesses as did Voltaire, who invested him
with all the good qualities of Trajan, Cato, and Julius Cæsar, without
their defects.[128] Robertson indeed feared that he might fail in this
part of the history;[129] but Gibbon weighed Julian in the balance, duly
estimating his strength and his weakness, with the result that he has
given a clear and just account in his best and most dignified

Gibbon's treatment of Theodora, the wife of Justinian, is certainly open
to objection. Without proper sifting and a reasonable skepticism, he has
incorporated into his narrative the questionable account with all its
salacious details which Procopius gives in his Secret History, Gibbon's
love of a scandalous tale getting the better of his historical
criticism. He has not neglected to urge a defense. "I am justified," he
wrote, "in painting the manners of the times; the vices of Theodora form
an essential feature in the reign and character of Justinian.... My
English text is chaste, and all licentious passages are left in the
obscurity of a learned language."[131] This explanation satisfies
neither Cotter Morison nor Bury, nor would it hold for a moment as a
justification of a historian of our own day. Gibbon is really so
scientific, so much like a late nineteenth-century man, that we do right
to subject him to our present-day rigid tests.

There has been much discussion about Gibbon's style, which we all know
is pompous and Latinized. On a long reading his rounded and sonorous
periods become wearisome, and one wishes that occasionally a sentence
would terminate with a small word, even a preposition. One feels as did
Dickens after walking for an hour or two about the handsome but
"distractingly regular" city of Philadelphia. "I felt," he wrote, "that
I would have given the world for a crooked street."[132] Despite the
pomposity, Gibbon's style is correct, and the exact use of words is a
marvel. It is rare, I think, that any substitution or change of words
will improve upon the precision of the text. His compression and
selection of salient points are remarkable. Amid some commonplace
philosophy he frequently rises to a generalization as brilliant as it is
truthful. Then, too, one is impressed with the dignity of history; one
feels that Gibbon looked upon his work as very serious, and thought with
Thucydides, "My history is an everlasting possession, not a prize
composition which is heard and forgotten."

To a writer of history few things are more interesting than a great
historian's autobiographical remarks which relate to the composition of
his work. "Had I been more indigent or more wealthy," wrote Gibbon in
his Autobiography, "I should not have possessed the leisure or the
perseverance to prepare and execute my voluminous history."[133]
"Notwithstanding the hurry of business and pleasure," he wrote from
London in 1778, "I steal some moments for the Roman Empire."[134]
Between the writing of the first three and the last three volumes, he
took a rest of "near a twelvemonth" and gave expression to a thought
which may be echoed by every studious writer, "Yet in the luxury of
freedom, I began to wish for the daily task, the active pursuit which
gave a value to every book and an object to every inquiry."[135] Every
one who has written a historical book will sympathize with the following
expression of personal experience as he approached the completion of
"The Decline and Fall": "Let no man who builds a house or writes a book
presume to say when he will have finished. When he imagines that he is
drawing near to his journey's end, Alps rise on Alps, and he continually
finds something to add and something to correct."[136]

Plain truthful tales are Gibbon's autobiographies. The style is that of
the history, and he writes of himself as frankly as he does of any of
his historical characters. His failings--what he has somewhere termed
"the amiable weaknesses of human nature"--are disclosed with the
openness of a Frenchman. All but one of the ten years between 1783 and
1793, between the ages of 46 and 56, he passed at Lausanne. There he
completed "The Decline and Fall," and of that period he spent from
August, 1787, to July, 1788, in England to look after the publication of
the last three volumes. His life in Lausanne was one of study, writing,
and agreeable society, of which his correspondence with his English
friends gives an animated account. The two things one is most impressed
with are his love for books and his love for Madeira. "Though a lover of
society," he wrote, "my library is the room to which I am most
attached."[137] While getting settled at Lausanne, he complains that his
boxes of books "loiter on the road."[138] And then he harps on another
string. "Good Madeira," he writes, "is now become essential to my health
and reputation;"[139] yet again, "If I do not receive a supply of
Madeira in the course of the summer, I shall be in great shame and
distress."[140] His good friend in England, Lord Sheffield, regarded his
prayer and sent him a hogshead of "best old Madeira" and a tierce,
containing six dozen bottles of "finest Malmsey," and at the same time
wrote: "You will remember that a hogshead is on his travels through the
torrid zone for you.... No wine is meliorated to a greater degree by
keeping than Madeira, and you latterly appeared so ravenous for it, that
I must conceive you wish to have a stock."[141] Gibbon's devotion to
Madeira bore its penalty. At the age of forty-eight he sent this account
to his stepmother: "I was in hopes that my old Enemy the Gout had given
over the attack, but the Villain, with his ally the winter, convinced
me of my error, and about the latter end of March I found myself a
prisoner in my library and my great chair. I attempted twice to rise, he
twice knocked me down again and kept possession of both my feet and
knees longer (I must confess) than he ever had done before."[142] Eager
to finish his history, he lamented that his "long gout" lost him "three
months in the spring." Thus as you go through his correspondence, you
find that orders for Madeira and attacks of gout alternate with
regularity. Gibbon apparently did not connect the two as cause and
effect, as in his autobiography he charged his malady to his service in
the Hampshire militia, when "the daily practice of hard and even
excessive drinking" had sown in his constitution "the seeds of the

Gibbon has never been a favorite with women, owing largely to his
account of his early love affair. While at Lausanne, he had heard much
of "the wit and beauty and erudition of Mademoiselle Curchod" and when
he first met her, he had reached the age of twenty. "I saw and loved,"
he wrote. "I found her learned without pedantry, lively in conversation,
pure in sentiment, and elegant in manners.... She listened to the voice
of truth and passion.... At Lausanne I indulged my dream of felicity";
and indeed he appeared to be an ardent lover. "He was seen," said a
contemporary, "stopping country people near Lausanne and demanding at
the point of a naked dagger whether a more adorable creature existed
than Suzanne Curchod."[144] On his return to England, however, he soon
discovered that his father would not hear of this alliance, and he thus
related the sequence: "After a painful struggle, I yielded to my
fate.... I sighed as a lover, I obeyed as a son."[145] From England he
wrote to Mademoiselle Curchod breaking off the engagement. Perhaps it is
because of feminine criticism that Cotter Morison indulges in an
elaborate defense of Gibbon, which indeed hardly seems necessary.
Rousseau, who was privy to the love affair, said that "Gibbon was too
cold-blooded a young man for his taste or for Mademoiselle Curchod's
happiness."[146] Mademoiselle Curchod a few years later married Necker,
a rich Paris banker, who under Louis XVI held the office of
director-general of the finances. She was the mother of Madame de Staël,
was a leader of the literary society in Paris and, despite the troublous
times, must have led a happy life. One delightful aspect of the story is
the warm friendship that existed between Madame Necker and Edward
Gibbon. This began less than a year after her marriage. "The Curchod
(Madame Necker) I saw at Paris," he wrote to his friend Holroyd. "She
was very fond of me and the husband particularly civil. Could they
insult me more cruelly? Ask me every evening to supper; go to bed, and
leave me alone with his wife--what an impertinent security!"[147]

If women read the Correspondence as they do the Autobiography, I think
that their aversion to the great historian would be increased by these
confiding words to his stepmother, written when he was forty-nine: "The
habits of female conversation have sometimes tempted me to acquire the
piece of furniture, a wife, and could I unite in a single Woman the
virtues and accomplishments of half a dozen of my acquaintance, I would
instantly pay my addresses to the Constellation."[148]

I have always been impressed with Gibbon's pride at being the author of
"six volumes in quartos"; but as nearly all histories now are published
in octavo, I had not a distinct idea of the appearance of a quarto
volume until the preparation of this essay led me to look at different
editions of Gibbon in the Boston Athenæum. There I found the quartos,
the first volume of which is the third edition, published in 1777 [it
will be remembered that the original publication of the first volume was
in February, 1776]. The volume is 11¼ inches long by 9 inches wide and
is much heavier than our very heavy octavo volumes. With this volume in
my hand I could appreciate the remark of the Duke of Gloucester when
Gibbon brought him the second volume of the "Decline and Fall." Laying
the quarto on the table he said, "Another d--d thick square book! Always
scribble, scribble, scribble! Eh! Mr. Gibbon?"[149]

During my researches at the Athenæum, I found an octavo edition, the
first volume of which was published in 1791, and on the cover was
written, "Given to the Athenæum by Charles Cabot. Received December 10,
1807." This was the year of the foundation of the Athenæum. On the
quarto of 1777 there was no indication, but the scholarly cataloguer
informed me that it was probably also received in 1807. Three later
editions than these two are in this library, the last of which is Bury's
of 1900 to which I have constantly referred. Meditating in the quiet
alcove, with the two early editions of Gibbon before me, I found an
answer to the comment of H. G. Wells in his book "The Future in America"
which I confess had somewhat irritated me. Thus wrote Wells: "Frankly I
grieve over Boston as a great waste of leisure and energy, as a
frittering away of moral and intellectual possibilities. We give too
much to the past.... We are obsessed by the scholastic prestige of mere
knowledge and genteel remoteness."[150] Pondering this iconoclastic
utterance, how delightful it is to light upon evidence in the way of
well-worn volumes that, since 1807, men and women here have been
carefully reading Gibbon, who, as Dean Milman said, "has bridged the
abyss between ancient and modern times and connected together the two
worlds of history."[151] A knowledge of "The Decline and Fall" is a
basis for the study of all other history; it is a mental discipline, and
a training for the problems of modern life. These Athenæum readers did
not waste their leisure, did not give too much to the past. They were
supremely right to take account of the scholastic prestige of Gibbon,
and to endeavor to make part of their mental fiber this greatest history
of modern times.

I will close with a quotation from the Autobiography, which in its
sincerity and absolute freedom from literary cant will be cherished by
all whose desire is to behold "the bright countenance of truth in the
quiet and still air of delightful studies." "I have drawn a high prize
in the lottery of life," wrote Gibbon. "I am disgusted with the
affectation of men of letters, who complain that they have renounced a
substance for a shadow and that their fame affords a poor compensation
for envy, censure, and persecution. My own experience at least has
taught me a very different lesson: twenty happy years have been animated
by the labor of my history; and its success has given me a name, a rank,
a character in the world, to which I should not otherwise have been
entitled.... D'Alembert relates that as he was walking in the gardens of
Sans-souci with the King of Prussia, Frederick said to him, 'Do you see
that old woman, a poor weeder, asleep on that sunny bank? She is
probably a more happy Being than either of us.'" Now the comment of
Gibbon: "The King and the Philosopher may speak for themselves; for my
part I do not envy the old woman."[152]

   [46] Autobiography, 270.

   [47] Autobiography, 333.

   [48] Autobiography, 311.

   [49] Lectures, 763.

   [50] Chief Periods European Hist., 75.

   [51] Introduction, lxvii.

   [52] Introduction, xxxi.

   [53] Preface, ix.

   [54] Introduction, xli.

   [55] p. 324.

   [56] Letters, I, 23.

   [57] Autobiography, 310.

   [58] Letters, II, 36.

   [59] _Ibid._, 127.

   [60] Autobiography, 196.

   [61] Autobiography, 310. "I am more and more convinced that we have
        both the right and power on our side." Letters, I, 248.

   [62] Hill's ed. Gibbon Autobiography, 212, 213, 314.

   [63] Letters, II, 249.

   [64] Autobiography, 342.

   [65] Letters, II, 310.

   [66] Causeries du Lundi, viii, 469.

   [67] Letters, II, 98.

   [68] Trevelyan, II, 232.

   [69] Lectures on the Hist. of Literature, 185.

   [70] Autobiography, 196.

   [71] Bury's ed., xxxv.

   [72] Decline and Fall, Smith's ed., 236.

   [73] _Ibid._, I, 349.

   [74] Decline and Fall, Smith's ed., II, 35.

   [75] II, 235.

   [76] History, I, 1.

   [77] Annals, I, 11.

   [78] Bury's introduction, xxxv.

   [79] Autobiography, 193.

   [80] _Ibid._, 48, 59.

   [81] _Ibid._, 67.

   [82] Autobiography, 86 _et seq._; Hill's ed., 69, 291.

   [83] Autobiography, 131.

   [84] _Ibid._, 137.

   [85] _Ibid._, 134.

   [86] Autobiography, 139-142.

   [87] V, 108, 130, 231.

   [88] Autobiography, 141.

   [89] Autobiography, 133.

   [90] Hill's ed., 89, 293.

   [91] Autobiography, 149.

   [92] Autobiography, 149.

   [93] _Ibid._, 161.

   [94] Causeries du Lundi, VIII, 445.

   [95] Autobiography, 167.

   [96] Causeries du Lundi, VIII, 446.

   [97] Autobiography, Hill's ed., 142.

   [98] Autobiography, 258.

   [99] _Ibid._, 277.

  [100] _Ibid._

  [101] Letters, II, 279.

  [102] Preface, x.

  [103] Smith's ed., I, xi.

  [104] Causeries du Lundi, VIII, 453.

  [105] _London Times_, November 16, 1894.

  [106] Smith's ed., I, 215, 371; II, 230.

  [107] Smith's ed., I, 165; II, 205.

  [108] _Ibid._, I, 216.

  [109] _Ibid._, I, 144.

  [110] _Ibid._, III, 78.

  [111] Letters, I, 23.

  [112] Smith's ed., V, 230.

  [113] See Mahan's From Sail to Steam, 276.

  [114] Causeries du Lundi, I, 153.

  [115] Introduction, xlv, l, lxvii.

  [116] Smith's ed., III, 14.

  [117] _Ibid._, IV, 31.

  [118] Bury, lii.

  [119] Smith's ed., V, 258.

  [120] _Ibid._, IV, 132 n.

  [121] Bury's ed., xxxv, xxxvi.

  [122] Smith's ed., I, xxi.

  [123] Smith's ed., I, xvii.

  [124] History of Civilization, II, 308 n.

  [125] Morals, I, 419.

  [126] Letters, II, 237.

  [127] Autobiography, 316.

  [128] Cotter Morison, 118.

  [129] Sainte-Beuve, 458.

  [130] Cotter Morison, 120.

  [131] Autobiography, 337 n.

  [132] American Notes, Chap. VII.

  [133] p. 155.

  [134] Letters, I, 331.

  [135] Autobiography, 325.

  [136] Letters, II, 143.

  [137] Letters, II, 130.

  [138] _Ibid._, 89.

  [139] _Ibid._, 211.

  [140] _Ibid._, 217.

  [141] _Ibid._, II, 232.

  [142] Letters, II, 129.

  [143] _Ibid._, 189.

  [144] _Ibid._, I, 40.

  [145] Autobiography, pp. 151, 239.

  [146] Letters, I, 41.

  [147] Letters, I, 81. In 1790 Madame de Staël, then at Coppet, wrote:
        "Nous possédons dans ce château M. Gibbon, l'ancien amoreux de
        ma mère, celui qui voulait l'épouser. Quand je le vois, je me
        demande si je serais née de son union avec ma mère: je me
        reponds que non et qu'il suffisait de mon père seul pour que je
        vinsse au monde."--Hill's ed., 107, n. 2.

  [148] Letters, II, 143.

  [149] Birkbeck Hill's ed., 127.

  [150] p. 235.

  [151] Smith's ed., I, vii.

  [152] Autobiography, 343, 346.


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the March
meeting of 1902, and printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_, May, 1902.


It is my purpose to say a word of Samuel Rawson Gardiner, the English
historian, who died February 23, 1902, and who in his research and
manner of statement represents fitly the scientific school of historical
writers. He was thorough in his investigation, sparing neither labor nor
pains to get at the truth. It may well enough be true that the
designedly untruthful historian, like the undevout astronomer, is an
anomaly, for inaccuracy comes not from purpose, but from neglect. Now
Gardiner went to the bottom of things, and was not satisfied until he
had compassed all the material within his reach. As a matter of course
he read many languages. Whether his facts were in Spanish, Italian,
French, German, Dutch, Swedish, or English made apparently no
difference. Nor did he stop at what was in plain language. He read a
diary written chiefly in symbols, and many letters in cipher. A large
part of his material was in manuscript, which entailed greater labor
than if it had been in print. As one reads the prefaces to his various
volumes and his footnotes, amazement is the word to express the feeling
that a man could have accomplished so much in forty-seven years. One
feels that there is no one-sided use of any material. The Spanish, the
Venetian, the French, the Dutch nowhere displaces the English. In
Froude's Elizabeth one gets the impression that the Simancas manuscripts
furnish a disproportionate basis of the narrative; in Ranke's England,
that the story is made up too much from the Venetian archives. Gardiner
himself copied many Simancas manuscripts in Spain, and he studied the
archives in Venice, Paris, Brussels, and Rome, but these, and all the
other great mass of foreign material, are kept adjunctive to that found
in his own land. My impression from a study of his volumes is that more
than half of his material is in manuscript, but because he has matter
which no one else had ever used, he does not neglect the printed pages
open to every one. To form "a judgment on the character and aims of
Cromwell," he writes, "it is absolutely necessary to take Carlyle's
monumental work as a starting point;"[153] yet, distrusting Carlyle's
printed transcripts, he goes back to the original speeches and letters
themselves. Carlyle, he says, "amends the text without warning" in many
places; these emendations Gardiner corrects, and out of the abundance of
his learning he stops a moment to show how Carlyle has misled the
learned Dr. Murray in attributing to Cromwell the use of the word
"communicative" in its modern meaning, when it was on the contrary
employed in what is now an obsolete sense.[154]

Gardiner's great work is the History of England from 1603 to 1656. In
the revised editions there are ten volumes called the "History of
England, from the Accession of James I to the Outbreak of the Civil
War," and four volumes on the Great Civil War. Since this revision he
has published three volumes on the History of the Commonwealth and the
Protectorate. He was also the author of a number of smaller volumes, a
contributor to the Encyclopædia Britannica and the Dictionary of
National Biography, and for ten years editor-in-chief of the _English
Historical Review_.

I know not which is the more remarkable, the learning, accuracy, and
diligence of the man, or withal his modesty. With his great store of
knowledge, the very truthfulness of his soul impels him to be forward
in admitting his own mistakes. Lowell said in 1878 that Darwin was
"almost the only perfectly disinterested lover of truth" he had ever
encountered. Had Lowell known the historian as we know him, he would
have placed Gardiner upon the same elevation. In the preface to the
revised ten-volume edition he alludes to the "defects" of his work.
"Much material," he wrote, "has accumulated since the early volumes were
published, and my own point of view is not quite the same as it was when
I started with the first years of James I."[155] The most important
contribution to this portion of his period had been Spedding's edition
of Bacon's Letters and Life. In a note to page 208 of his second volume
he tells how Spedding's arguments have caused him to modify some of his
statements, although the two regard the history of the seventeenth
century differently. Writing this soon after the death of Spedding, to
which he refers as "the loss of one whose mind was so acute and whose
nature was so patient and kindly," he adds, "It was a true pleasure to
have one's statements and arguments exposed to the testing fire of his
hostile criticism." Having pointed out later some inaccuracies in the
work of Professor Masson, he accuses himself. "I have little doubt," he
writes, "that if my work were subjected to as careful a revision, it
would yield a far greater crop of errors."[156]

Gardiner was born in 1829. Soon after he was twenty-six years old he
conceived the idea of writing the history of England from the accession
of James I to the restoration of Charles II. It was a noble conception,
but his means were small. Having married, as his first wife, the
youngest daughter of Edward Irving, the enthusiastic founder of the
Catholic Apostolic Church, he became an Irvingite. Because he was an
Irvingite, his university,--he was a son of Oxford,--so it is commonly
said, would give him no position whereby he might gain his living.
Nevertheless, Gardiner studied and toiled, and in 1863 published two
volumes entitled "A History of England from the Accession of James I to
the Disgrace of Chief Justice Coke." Of this work only one hundred and
forty copies were sold. Still he struggled on. In 1869 two volumes
called "Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage" were published and sold
five hundred copies. Six years later appeared two volumes entitled "A
History of England under the Duke of Buckingham and Charles I." This
installment paid expenses, but no profit. One is reminded of what
Carlyle said about the pecuniary rewards of literary men in England:
"Homer's Iliad would have brought the author, had he offered it to Mr.
Murray on the half-profit system, say five-and-twenty guineas. The
Prophecies of Isaiah would have made a small article in a review which
... could cheerfully enough have remunerated him with a five-pound
note." The first book from which Gardiner received any money was a
little volume for the Epochs of Modern History Series on the Thirty
Years' War, published in 1874. Two more installments of the history
appearing in 1877 and 1881 made up the first edition of what is now our
ten-volume history, but in the meantime some of the volumes went out of
print. It was not until 1883, the year of the publication of the revised
edition, that the value of his labors was generally recognized. During
this twenty-eight years, from the age of twenty-six to fifty-four,
Gardiner had his living to earn. He might have recalled the remark made,
I think, by either Goldsmith or Lamb, that the books which will live are
not those by which we ourselves can live. Therefore Gardiner got his
bread by teaching. He became a professor in King's College, London, and
he lectured on history for the London Society for the Extension of
University Teaching, having large audiences all over London, and being
well appreciated in the East End. He wrote schoolbooks on history.
Finally success came twenty-eight years after his glorious conception,
twenty years after the publication of his first volume. He had had a
hard struggle for a living with money coming in by driblets. Bread won
in such a way is come by hard, yet he remained true to his ideal. His
potboilers were good and honest books; his brief history on the Thirty
Years' War has received the praise of scholars. Recognition brought him
money rewards. In 1882 Mr. Gladstone bestowed upon him a civil list
pension of £150 a year. Two years later All Souls College, Oxford,
elected him to a research fellowship; when this expired Merton made him
a fellow. Academic honors came late. Not until 1884, when he was
fifty-five, did he take his degree of M.A. Edinburgh conferred upon him
an LL.D., and Göttingen a Ph.D.; but he was sixty-six when he received
the coveted D.C.L. from his own university. The year previous Lord
Rosebery offered him the Regius Professorship of History at Oxford, but
he declined it because the prosecution of his great work required him to
be near the British Museum. It is worthy of mention that in 1874, nine
years before he was generally appreciated in England, the Massachusetts
Historical Society elected him a corresponding member.[157]

During the latter part of his life Gardiner resided in the country near
London, whence it took him about an hour to reach the British Museum,
where he did his work. He labored on his history from eleven o'clock to
half-past four, with an intermission of half an hour for luncheon. He
did not dictate to a stenographer, but wrote everything out. Totally
unaccustomed to collaboration, he never employed a secretary or
assistant of any kind. In his evenings he did no serious labor; he spent
them with his family, attended to his correspondence, or read a novel.
Thus he wrought five hours daily. What a brain, and what a splendid
training he had given himself to accomplish such results in so short a
working day!

In the preface to his first volume of the "History of the Commonwealth,"
published in 1894, Gardiner said that he was "entering upon the third
and last stage of a task the accomplishment of which seemed to me many
years ago to be within the bounds of possibility." One more volume
bringing the history down to the death of Cromwell would have completed
the work, and then Mr. Charles H. Firth, a fellow of All Souls College,
Oxford, was to take up the story. Firth now purposes to begin his
narrative with the year 1656. Gardiner's mantle has fallen on worthy

Where historical scholars congregate in England and America, Gardiner is
highly esteemed. But the critics must have their day. They cannot attack
him for lack of diligence and accuracy, which according to Gibbon, the
master of us all, are the prime requisites of a historian, so they
assert that he was deficient in literary style, he had no dramatic
power, his work is not interesting and will not live. Gardiner is the
product solely of the university and the library. You may visualize him
at Oxford, in the British Museum, or at work in the archives on the
Continent, but of affairs and of society by personal contact he knew
nothing. In short, he was not a man of the world, and the histories must
be written, so these critics aver, by those who have an actual knowledge
by experience of their fellow-men. It is profitable to examine these
dicta by the light of concrete examples. Froude saw much of society, and
was a man of the world. He wrote six volumes on the reign of Elizabeth,
from which we get the distinct impression that the dominant
characteristics of Elizabeth were meanness, vacillation, selfishness,
and cruelty. Gardiner in an introductory chapter of forty-three pages
restores to us the great queen of Shakespeare, who brought upon her land
"a thousand, thousand blessings." She loved her people well, he writes,
and ruled them wisely. She "cleared the way for liberty, though she
understood it not."[158] Elsewhere he speaks of "her high spirit and
enlightened judgment."[159] The writer who has spent his life in the
library among dusty archives estimates the great ruler more correctly
than the man of the world. We all know Macaulay, a member of Parliament,
a member of the Supreme Council of India, a cabinet minister, a
historian of great merit, a brilliant man of letters. In such a one,
according to the principles laid down by these critics, we should expect
to find a supreme judge of men. Macaulay in his essays and the first
chapter of the History painted Wentworth and Laud in the very blackest
of colors, which "had burned themselves into the heart of the people of
England." Gardiner came. Wentworth and Laud, he wrote, were controlled
by a "noble ambition," which was "not stained with personal selfishness
or greed."[160] "England may well be proud of possessing in Wentworth a
nobler if a less practical statesman than Richelieu, of the type to
which the great cardinal belonged."[161] Again Wentworth was "the
high-minded, masterful statesman, erring gravely through defects of
temper and knowledge."[162] From Macaulay we carry away the impression
that Wentworth was very wicked and that Cromwell was very good. Gardiner
loved Cromwell not less than did Macaulay, but thus he speaks of his
government: "Step by step the government of the Commonwealth was
compelled ... to rule by means which every one of its members would have
condemned if they had been employed by Charles or Wentworth." Is it not
a triumph for the bookish man that in his estimate of Wentworth and Laud
he has with him the consensus of the historical scholars of England?

What a change there has been in English opinion of Cromwell in the last
half century! Unquestionably that is due to Carlyle more than to any
other one man, but there might have been a reaction from the conception
of the hero worshiper had it not been supported and somewhat modified by
so careful and impartial a student as Gardiner.

The alteration of sentiment toward Wentworth and Laud is principally due
to Gardiner, that toward Cromwell is due to him in part. These are two
of the striking results, but they are only two of many things we see
differently because of the single-minded devotion of this great
historian. We know the history in England from 1603 to 1656 better than
we do that of any other period of the world; and for this we are
indebted mainly to Samuel Rawson Gardiner.

  [153] History of the Great Civil War, I, viii.

  [154] History of the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, III, 27.

  [155] History, I, v.

  [156] _Ibid._, IX, viii.

  [157] He was transferred to the roll of honorary members in October,

  [158] History, I, 43.

  [159] _Ibid._, VIII, 36.

  [160] _Ibid._, 67.

  [161] _Ibid._, 215.

  [162] _Ibid._, IX, 229.


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the November
meeting of 1903.


Amazement was the feeling of the reading world on learning that the
author of the History of Rationalism was only twenty-seven, and the
writer of the History of European Morals only thirty-one. The sentiment
was that a prodigy of learning had appeared, and a perusal of these
works now renders comprehensible the contemporary astonishment. The
Morals (published in 1869) is the better book of the two, and, if I may
judge from my own personal experience, it may be read with delight when
young, and re-read with respect and advantage at an age when the
enthusiasms of youth have given way to the critical attitude of
experience. Grant all the critics say of it, that the reasoning by which
Lecky attempts to demolish the utilitarian theory of morals is no longer
of value, and that it lacks the consistency of either the orthodox or
the agnostic, that there is no new historical light, and that much of
the treatise is commonplace, nevertheless the historical illustrations
and disquisitions, the fresh combination of well-known facts are
valuable for instruction and for a new point of view. His analysis of
the causes of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire is drawn, of
course, from Gibbon, but I have met those who prefer the interesting
story of Lecky to the majestic sweep of the great master. Much less
brilliant than Buckle's "History of Civilization," the first volume of
which appeared twelve years earlier, the Morals has stood better the
test of time.

The intellectual biography of so precocious a writer is interesting, and
fortunately it has been related by Lecky himself. When he entered
Trinity College, Dublin, in 1856, "Mill was in the zenith of his fame
and influence"; Hugh Miller was attempting to reconcile the recent
discoveries of geology with the Mosaic cosmogony. "In poetry," wrote
Lecky, "Tennyson and Longfellow reigned, I think with an approach to
equality which has not continued." In government the orthodox political
economists furnished the theory and the Manchester school the practice.
All this intellectual fermentation affected this inquiring young
student; but at first Bishop Butler's Analogy and sermons, which were
then much studied at Dublin, had the paramount influence. Of the living
men, Archbishop Whately, then at Dublin, held sway. Other writers whom
he mastered were Coleridge, Newman, and Emerson, Pascal, Bossuet,
Rousseau, and Voltaire, Dugald Stewart, and Mill. In 1857 Buckle burst
upon the world, and proved a stimulus to Lecky as well as to most
serious historical students. The result of these studies, Lecky relates,
was his History of Rationalism, published in the early part of 1865.

The claim made by many of Lecky's admirers, that he was a philosophic
historian, as distinct from literary historians like Carlyle and
Macaulay, and scientific like Stubbs and Gardiner, has injured him in
the eyes of many historical students who believe that if there be such a
thing as the philosophy of history the narrative ought to carry it
naturally. To interrupt the relation of events or the delineation of
character with parading of trite reflections or with rashly broad
generalizations is neither science nor art. Lecky has sometimes been
condemned by students who, revolting at the term "philosophy" in
connection with history, have failed to read his greatest work, the
"History of England in the Eighteenth Century." This is a decided
advance on the History of Morals, and shows honest investigation in
original material, much of it manuscript, and an excellent power of
generalization widely different from that which exhibits itself in a
paltry philosophy. These volumes are a real contribution to historical
knowledge. Parts of them which I like often to recur to are the account
of the ministry of Walpole, the treatment of "parliamentary corruption,"
of the condition of London, and of "national tastes and manners." His
Chapter IX, which relates the rise of Methodism, has a peculiarly
attractive swing and go, and his use of anecdote is effective.

Chapter XX, on the "Causes of the French Revolution," covering one
hundred and forty-one pages, is an ambitious effort, but it shows a
thorough digestion of his material, profound reflection, and a lively
presentation of his view. Mr. Morse Stephens believes that it is idle to
attempt to inquire into the causes of this political and social
overturn. If a historian tells the _how_, he asserts he should not be
asked to tell the _why_. This is an epigrammatic statement of a tenet of
the scientific historical school of Oxford, but men will always be
interested in inquiring why the French Revolution happened, and such
chapters as this of Lecky, a blending of speculation and narrative, will
hold their place. These volumes have much well and impartially written
Irish history, and being published between 1878 and 1890, at the time
when the Irish question in its various forms became acute, they
attracted considerable attention from the political world. Gladstone was
an admirer of Lecky, and said in a chat with John Morley: "Lecky has
real insight into the motives of statesmen. Now Carlyle, so mighty as he
is in flash and penetration, has no eye for motives. Macaulay, too, is
so caught by a picture, by color, by surface, that he is seldom to be
counted on for just account of motive." The Irish chapters furnished
arguments for the Liberals, but did not convert Lecky himself to the
policy of home rule. When Gladstone and his party adopted it, he became
a Liberal Unionist, and as such was elected in 1895 a member of the
House of Commons by Dublin University. In view of the many comments that
he was not successful in parliamentary life, I may say that the election
not only came to him unsought, but that he recognized that he was too
old to adapt himself to the atmosphere of the House of Commons; he
accepted the position in the belief which was pressed upon him by many
friends that he could in Parliament be useful to the University.

Within less than three years have we commemorated in this hall three
great English historians--Stubbs, Gardiner, and Lecky. The one we honor
to-day was the most popular of the three. Not studied so much at the
seats of learning, he is better known to journalists, to statesmen, to
men of affairs, in short to general readers. Even our Society made him
an honorary member fourteen years before it so honored Gardiner,
although Gardiner was the older man and two volumes of his history had
been published before Lecky's Rationalism, and two volumes more in the
same year as the Morals. One year after it was published, Rationalism
went into a third edition. Gardiner's first volumes sold one hundred and
forty copies. It must, however, be stated that the Society recognized
Gardiner's work as early as 1874 by electing him a corresponding member.

It is difficult to guess how long Lecky will be read. His popularity is
distinct. He was the rare combination of a scholar and a man of the
world, made so by his own peculiar talent and by lucky opportunities. He
was not obliged to earn his living. In early life, by intimate personal
intercourse, he drew intellectual inspiration from Dean Milman, and
later he learned practical politics through his friendship with Lord
Russell. He knew well Herbert Spencer, Huxley, and Tyndall. In private
conversation he was a very interesting man. His discourse ran on books
and on men; he turned from one to the other and mixed up the two with a
ready familiarity. He went much into London society, and though entirely
serious and without having, so far as I know, a gleam of humor, he was a
fluent and entertaining talker.

Mr. Lecky was vitally interested in the affairs of this country, and
sympathized with the North during our Civil War. He once wrote to me: "I
am old enough to remember vividly your great war, and was then much with
an American friend--a very clever lawyer named George Bemis--whom I came
to know very well at Rome.... I was myself a decided Northerner, but the
'right of revolution' was always rather a stumbling block." Talking with
Mr. Lecky in 1895, not long after the judgment of the United States
Supreme Court that the income tax was unconstitutional, he expressed the
opinion that it was a grand decision, evidencing a high respect for
private property, but in the next breath came the question, "How are you
ever to manage continuing the payment of those enormous pensions of

It is not, I think, difficult to explain why Stubbs and Gardiner are
more precious possessions for students than Lecky. Gardiner devoted his
life to the seventeenth century. If we may reckon the previous
preparation and the ceaseless revision, Stubbs devoted a good part of
his life to the constitutional history from the beginnings of it to
Henry VII. Lecky's eight volumes on the eighteenth century were
published in thirteen years. A mastery of such an amount of original
material as Stubbs and Gardiner mastered was impossible within that
time. Lecky had the faculty of historic divination which compensated to
some extent for the lack of a more thorough study of the sources. Genius
stood in the place of painstaking engrossment in a single task.

The last important work of Lecky, "Democracy and Liberty," was a brave
undertaking. Many years ago he wrote: "When I was deeply immersed in the
'History of England in the Eighteenth Century,' I remember being struck
by the saying of an old and illustrious friend that he could not
understand the state of mind of a man who, when so many questions of
burning and absorbing interest were rising around him, could devote the
best years of his life to the study of a vanished past." Hence the book
which considered present issues of practical politics and party
controversies, and a result that satisfied no party and hardly any
faction. It is an interesting question who chose the better part,--he or
Stubbs and Gardiner--they who devoted themselves entirely to the past or
he who made a conscientious endeavor to bring to bear his study of
history upon the questions of the present.


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the November
meeting of 1907.


Sir Spencer Walpole was an excellent historian and industrious writer.
His first important work, entitled "The History of England from 1815,"
was published at intervals from 1878 to 1886; the first installment
appeared when he was thirty-nine years old. This in six volumes carried
the history to 1858 in an interesting, accurate, and impartial
narrative. Four of the five chapters of the first volume are entitled
"The Material Condition of England in 1815," "Society in England,"
"Opinion in 1815," "The Last of the Ebb Tide," and they are masterly in
their description and relation. During the Napoleonic wars business was
good. The development of English manufactures, due largely to the
introduction of steam as a motive power, was marked. "Twenty years of
war," he wrote, "had concentrated the trade of the world in the British
Empire." Wheat was dear; in consequence the country gentlemen received
high rents. The clergy, being largely dependent on tithes,--the tenth of
the produce,--found their incomes increased as the price of corn
advanced. But the laboring classes, both those engaged in manufactures
and agriculture, did not share in the general prosperity. Either their
wages did not rise at all or did not advance commensurately with the
increase of the cost of living and the decline in the value of the
currency. Walpole's detailed and thorough treatment of this subject is
historic work of high value.

In the third volume I was much impressed with his account of the Reform
Act of 1832. We all have read that wonderful story over and over again,
but I doubt whether its salient points have been better combined and
presented than in Walpole's chapter. I had not remembered the reason of
the selection of Lord John Russell to present the bill in the House of
Commons when he was only Paymaster of the Forces, without a seat in the
Cabinet. It will, of course, be recalled that Lord Grey, the Prime
Minister, was in the House of Lords, and, not so readily I think, that
Althorp was Chancellor of the Exchequer and the leader of the House of
Commons. On Althorp, under ordinary circumstances, it would have been
incumbent to take charge of this highly important measure, which had
been agreed upon by the Cabinet after counsel with the King. Russell was
the youngest son of the Duke of Bedford; and the Duke was one of the
large territorial magnates and a proprietor of rotten boroughs. "A bill
recommended by his son's authority," wrote Walpole, "was likely to
reassure timid or wavering politicians." "Russell," Walpole continued,
"told his tale in the plainest language. But the tale which he had to
tell required no extraordinary language to adorn it. The Radicals had
not dared to expect, the Tories, in their wildest fears, had not
apprehended, so complete a measure. Enthusiasm was visible on one side
of the House; consternation and dismay on the other. At last, when
Russell read the list of boroughs which were doomed to extinction, the
Tories hoped that the completeness of the measure would insure its
defeat. Forgetting their fears, they began to be amused and burst into
peals of derisive laughter" (III, 208).

Walpole's next book was the "Life of Lord John Russell," two volumes
published in 1889. This was undertaken at the request of Lady Russell,
who placed at his disposal a mass of private and official papers and
"diaries and letters of a much more private nature." She also acceded to
his request that she was not to see the biography until it was ready
for publication, so that the whole responsibility of it would be
Walpole's alone. The Queen gave him access to three bound volumes of
Russell's letters to herself, and sanctioned the publication of certain
letters of King William IV. Walpole wrote the biography in about two
years and a half; and this, considering that at the time he held an
active office, displayed unusual industry. If I may judge the work by a
careful study of the chapter on "The American Civil War," it is a
valuable contribution to political history.

Passing over three minor publications, we come to Walpole's "History of
Twenty-five Years," two volumes of which were published in 1904. A brief
extract from his preface is noteworthy, written as it is by a man of
keen intelligence, with great power of investigation and continuous
labor, and possessed of a sound judgment. After a reference to his
"History of England from 1815," he said: "The time has consequently
arrived when it ought to be as possible to write the History of England
from 1857 to 1880, as it was twenty years ago to bring down the
narrative of that History to 1856 or 1857.... So far as I am able to
judge, most of the material which is likely to be available for British
history in the period with which these two volumes are concerned
[1856-1870] is already accessible. It is not probable that much which is
wholly new remains unavailable." I read carefully these two volumes when
they first appeared, and found them exceedingly fascinating. Palmerston
and Russell, Gladstone and Disraeli, are made so real that we follow
their contests as if we ourselves had a hand in them. A half dozen or
more years ago an Englishman told me that Palmerston and Russell were no
longer considered of account in England. But I do not believe one can
rise from reading these volumes without being glad of a knowledge of
these two men whose patriotism was of a high order. Walpole's several
characterizations, in a summing up of Palmerston, display his knowledge
of men. "Men pronounced Lord Melbourne indifferent," he wrote, "Sir
Robert Peel cold, Lord John Russell uncertain, Lord Aberdeen weak, Lord
Derby haughty, Mr. Gladstone subtle, Lord Beaconsfield unscrupulous. But
they had no such epithet for Lord Palmerston. He was as earnest as Lord
Melbourne was indifferent, as strong as Lord Aberdeen was weak, as
honest as Lord Beaconsfield was unscrupulous. Sir Robert Peel repelled
men by his temper; Lord John Russell, by his coldness; Lord Derby
offended them by his pride; Mr. Gladstone distracted them by his
subtlety. But Lord Palmerston drew both friends and foes together by the
warmth of his manners and the excellence of his heart" (I, 525).

Walpole's knowledge of continental politics was apparently thorough. At
all events, any one who desires two entrancing tales, should read the
chapter on "The Union of Italy," of which Cavour and Napoleon III are
the heroes; and the two chapters entitled "The Growth of Prussia and the
Decline of France" and "The Fall of the Second Empire." In these two
chapters Napoleon III again appears, but Bismarck is the hero. Walpole's
chapter on "The American Civil War" is the writing of a broad-minded,
intelligent man, who could look on two sides.

Of Walpole's last book, "Studies in Biography," published in 1907, I
have left myself no time to speak. Those who are interested in it should
read the review of it in the _Nation_ early this year, which awards it
high and unusual commendation.

The readers of Walpole's histories may easily detect in them a treatment
not possible from a mere closet student of books and manuscripts. A
knowledge of the science of government and of practical politics is
there. For Walpole was of a political family. He was of the same house
as the great Whig Prime Minister, Sir Robert; and his father was Home
Secretary in the Lord Derby ministry of 1858, and again in 1866, when he
had to deal with the famous Hyde Park meeting of July 23. On his
mother's side he was a grandson of Spencer Perceval, the Prime Minister
who in 1812 was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons.
Walpole's earliest publication was a biography of Perceval.

And Spencer Walpole himself was a man of affairs. A clerk in the War
Office in 1858, private secretary to his father in 1866, next year
Inspector of Fisheries, later Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man,
and from 1893 to 1899 Secretary to the Post-office. In spite of all this
administrative work his books show that he was a wide, general reader,
apart from his special historical studies. He wrote in an agreeable
literary style, with Macaulay undoubtedly as his model, although he was
by no means a slavish imitator. His "History of Twenty-five Years" seems
to me to be written with a freer hand than the earlier history. He is
here animated by the spirit rather than the letter of Macaulay. I no
longer noticed certain tricks of expression which one catches so easily
in a study of the great historian, and which seem so well to suit
Macaulay's own work, but nobody else's.

An article by Walpole on my first four volumes, in the _Edinburgh
Review_ of January, 1901, led to a correspondence which resulted in my
receiving an invitation last May to pass Sunday with him at Hartfield
Grove, his Sussex country place. We were to meet at Victoria station and
take an early morning train. Seeing Mr. Frederic Harrison the day
previous, I asked for a personal description of his friend Walpole in
order that I might easily recognize him. "Well," says Harrison, "perhaps
I can guide you. A while ago I sat next to a lady during a dinner who
took me for Walpole and never discovered her mistake until, when she
addressed me as Sir Spencer, I undeceived her just as the ladies were
retiring from the table. Now I am the elder by eight years and I don't
think I look like Walpole, but that good lady had another opinion."
Walpole and Harrison met that Saturday evening at the Academy dinner,
and Walpole obtained a personal description of myself. This caution on
both our parts was unnecessary. We were the only historians traveling
down on the train and could not possibly have missed one another. I
found him a thoroughly genial man, and after fifteen minutes in the
railway carriage we were well acquainted. The preface to his "History of
Twenty-five Years" told that the two volumes were the work of five
years. I asked him how he was getting on with the succeeding volumes. He
replied that he had done a good deal of work on them, and now that he
was no longer in an administrative position he could concentrate his
efforts, and he expected to have the work finished before long. I
inquired if the prominence of his family in politics hampered him at all
in writing so nearly contemporary history, and he said, "Not a bit." An
hour of the railroad and a half-hour's drive brought us to his home. It
was not an ancestral place, but a purchase not many years back. An old
house had been remodeled with modern improvements, and comfort and ease
were the predominant aspects. Sir Spencer proposed a "turn" before
luncheon, which meant a short walk, and after luncheon we had a real
walk. I am aware that the English mile and our own are alike 5280 feet,
but I am always impressed with the fact that the English mile seems
longer, and so I was on this Sunday. For after a good two hours'
exertion over hills and meadows my host told me that we had gone only
five miles. Only by direct question did I elicit the fact that had he
been alone he would have done seven miles in the same time.

There were no other guests, and Lady Walpole, Sir Spencer, and I had all
of the conversation at luncheon and dinner and during the evening. We
talked about history and literature, English and American politics, and
public men. He was singularly well informed about our country, although
he had only made one brief visit and then in an official capacity.
English expressions of friendship are now so common that I will not
quote even one of the many scattered through his volumes, but he
displayed everywhere a candid appreciation of our good traits and
creditable doings. I was struck with his knowledge and love of lyric
poetry. Byron, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, Longfellow, and Lowell were
thoroughly familiar to him. He would repeat some favorite passage of
Keats, and at once turn to a discussion of the administrative details of
his work in the post-office. Of course the day and evening passed very
quickly,--it was one of the days to be marked with a white stone,--and
when I bade Walpole good-by on the Monday morning I felt as if I were
parting from a warm friend. I found him broad-minded, intelligent,
sympathetic, affable, and he seemed as strong physically as he was sound
intellectually. His death on Sunday, July 7, of cerebral hemorrhage was
alike a shock and a grief.


Address at a gathering of historians on June 5, 1909, to mark the
placing of a tablet in the inner quadrangle of Jesus College, Oxford, to
the memory of John Richard Green.


I wish indeed that I had the tongues of men and of angels to express the
admiration of the reading public of America for the History of John
Richard Green. I suppose that he has had more readers in our country
than any other historian except Macaulay, and he has shaped the opinions
of men who read, more than any writers of history except those whom John
Morley called the great born men of letters,--Gibbon, Macaulay, and

I think it is the earlier volumes rather than the last volume of his
more extended work which have taken hold of us. Of course we thrill at
his tribute to Washington, where he has summed up our reverence, trust,
and faith in him in one single sentence which shows true appreciation
and deep feeling; and it flatters our national vanity, of which we have
a goodly stock, to read in his fourth volume that the creation of the
United States was one of the turning points in the history of the world.

No saying is more trite, at any rate to an educated American audience,
than that the development of the English nation is one of the most
wonderful things, if not the most wonderful thing, which history
records. That history before James I is our own, and, to our general
readers, it has never been so well presented as in Green's first two
volumes. The victories of war are our own. It was our ancestors who
preserved liberty, maintained order, set the train moving toward
religious toleration, and wrought out that language and literature which
we are proud of, as well as you.

For my own part, I should not have liked to miss reading and re-reading
the five chapters on Elizabeth in the second volume. What eloquence in
simply the title of the last,--The England of Shakespeare! And in fact
my conception of Elizabeth, derived from Shakespeare, is confirmed by
Green. As I think how much was at stake in the last half of the
sixteenth century, and how well the troubles were met by that great
monarch and the wise statesman whom she called to her aid, I feel that
we could not be what we are, had a weak, irresolute sovereign been at
the head of the state.

With the power of a master Green manifests what was accomplished. At the
accession of Elizabeth--"Never" so he wrote--"had the fortunes of
England sunk to a lower ebb. The loss of Calais gave France the mastery
of the Channel. The French King in fact 'bestrode the realm, having one
foot in Calais, and the other in Scotland.'"

And at the death of Elizabeth, thus Green tells the story: "The danger
which had hitherto threatened our national existence and our national
unity had disappeared: France clung to the friendship of England, Spain
trembled beneath its blows."

With the wide range of years of his subject, with a grasp of an extended
period akin to Gibbon's, complete accuracy was, of course, not
attainable, but Samuel R. Gardiner once told me that Green, although
sometimes inaccurate in details, gave a general impression that was
justifiable and correct; and that is in substance the published opinion
of Stubbs.

Goethe said that in reading Molière you perceive that he possessed the
charm of an amiable nature in habitual contact with good society. So we,
who had not the advantage of personal intercourse, divined was the case
of Green; and when the volume of Letters appeared, we saw that we had
guessed correctly. But not until then did we know of his devotion to his
work, and his heroic struggle, which renders the story of his short and
brilliant career a touching and fascinating biography of a historian who
made his mark upon his time.


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the October
meeting of 1897.


I shall first speak of Mr. Pierce as an author. His Life of Sumner it
seems to me is an excellent biography, and the third and fourth volumes
of it are an important contribution to the history of our country. Any
one who has gone through the original material of the period he embraces
must be struck not only with the picture of Sumner, but with the skill
of the biographer in the use of his data to present a general historical
view. The injunction of Cicero, "Choose with discretion out of the
plenty that lies before you," Mr. Pierce observed. To those who know how
extensive was his reading of books, letters, newspaper files, how much
he had conversed with the actors in those stirring scenes--and who will
take into account the mass of memories that crowd upon the mind of one
who has lived through such an era--this biography will seem not too long
but rather admirable in its relative brevity. In a talk that I had with
Mr. Pierce I referred to the notice in an English literary weekly of his
third and fourth volumes which maintained that the biography was twice
too long, and I took occasion to say that in comparison with other
American works of the kind the criticism seemed unjust. "Moreover," I
went on, "I think you showed restraint in not making use of much of your
valuable material,--of the interesting and even important unprinted
letters of Cobden, the Duke of Argyll, and of John Bright." "Yes,"
replied Mr. Pierce, with a twinkle in his eye, "I can say with Lord
Clive, 'Great Heavens, at this moment I stand astonished at my own

Any one who has studied public sentiment in this country for any period
knows how easy it is to generalize from a few facts, and yet, if the
subject be more thoroughly investigated, it becomes apparent how
unsatisfactory such generalizations are apt to be; not that they are
essentially untrue, but rather because they express only a part of the
truth. If a student should ask me in what one book he would find the
best statement of popular opinion at the North during the Civil War, I
should say, Read Sumner's letters as cited in Mr. Pierce's biography
with the author's comments. The speeches of Sumner may smell too much of
the lamp to be admirable, but the off-hand letters written to his
English and to a few American friends during our great struggle are
worthy of the highest esteem. From his conversations with the President,
the Cabinet ministers, his fellow-senators and congressmen, his
newspaper reading,--in short, from the many impressions that go to make
up the daily life of an influential public man,--there has resulted an
accurate statement of the popular feeling from day to day. In spite of
his intense desire to have Englishmen of power and position espouse the
right side, he would not misrepresent anything by the suppression of
facts, any more than he would make a misleading statement. In the
selection of these letters Mr. Pierce has shown a nice discrimination.

Sumner, whom I take to have been one of the most truthful of men, was
fortunate in having one of the most honest of biographers. Mr. Pierce
would not, I think, have wittingly suppressed anything that told against
him. I love to think of one citation which would never have been made by
an idolizing biographer, so sharply did it bring out the folly of the
opinion expressed. Sumner wrote, May 3, 1863: "There is no doubt here
about Hooker. He told Judge Bates ... that he 'did not mean to drive the
enemy but to bag him.' It is thought he is now doing it." The
biographer's comment is brief, "The letter was written on the day of
Hooker's defeat at Chancellorsville."

It seems to me that Mr. Pierce was as impartial in his writing as is
possible for a man who has taken an active part in political affairs,
who is thoroughly in earnest, and who has a positive manner of
expression. It is not so difficult as some imagine for a student of
history whose work is done in the library to be impartial, provided he
has inherited or acquired the desire to be fair and honest, and provided
he has the diligence and patience to go through the mass of evidence.
His historical material will show him that to every question there are
two sides. But what of the man who has been in the heat of the conflict,
and who, when the fight was on, believed with Sumner that there was no
other side? If such a man displays candor, how much greater his merit
than the impartiality of the scholar who shuns political activity and
has given himself up to a life of speculation!

I had the good fortune to have three long conversations with the Hon.
Robert C. Winthrop, the last of which occurred shortly after the
publication of the third and fourth volumes of the Life of Sumner.
"What," said Mr. Winthrop to me, "do you think of the chapter on the
Annexation of Texas and the Mexican War?" "I think," was my reply, "that
Mr. Pierce has treated a delicate subject like a gentleman." "From what
I have heard of it," responded Mr. Winthrop, earnestly, "and from so
much as I have read of it, that is also my own opinion." Such a private
conversation I could, of course, repeat, and, somewhat later the
occasion presenting itself, I did so to Mr. Pierce. "That is more
grateful to me," he said, almost with tears in his eyes, "than all the
praise I have received for these volumes."

Mr. Pierce had, I think, the historic sense. I consulted him several
times on the treatment of historical matters, taking care not to trench
on questions where, so different was our point of view, we could not
possibly agree, and I always received from him advice that was
suggestive, even if I did not always follow it to the letter. I sent to
him, while he was in London, my account of Secretary Cameron's report
proposing to arm the slaves and of his removal from office by President
Lincoln. Mr. Pierce thought my inferences were far-fetched, and wrote:
"I prefer the natural explanation. Horace says we must not introduce a
god into a play unless it is necessary."

As a friend, he was warm-hearted and true. He brought cheer and
animation into your house. His talk was fresh; his zeal for whatever was
uppermost in his mind was contagious, and he inspired you with
enthusiasm. He was not good at conversation, in the French sense of the
term, for he was given to monologue; but he was never dull. His
artlessness was charming. He gave you confidences that you would have
shrunk from hearing out of the mouth of any other man, in the fear that
you intruded on a privacy where you had no right; but this openness of
mind was so natural in Mr. Pierce that you listened with concern and
sympathized warmly. He took interest in everything; he had infinite
resources, and until his health began to fail, enjoyed life thoroughly.
He loved society, conversation, travel; and while he had no passion for
books, he listened to you attentively while you gave an abstract or
criticism of some book that was attracting attention. In all intercourse
with him you felt that you were in a healthy moral atmosphere. I never
knew a man who went out of his way oftener to do good works in which
there was absolutely no reward, and at a great sacrifice of his time--to
him a most precious commodity. He was in the true sense of the word a
philanthropist, and yet no one would have approved more heartily than
he this remark of Emerson: "The professed philanthropists are an
altogether odious set of people, whom one would shun as the worst of
bores and canters."

His interest in this Society the published Proceedings will show in some
measure, but they cannot reflect the tone of devotion in which he spoke
of it in conversation, or exhibit his loyalty to it as set forth in the
personal letter. It was a real privation that his legislative duties
prevented his attending these meetings last winter.

Of Mr. Pierce as a citizen most of you, gentlemen, can speak better than
I, but it does appear to me an instance of rare civic virtue that a man
of his age, political experience, ability, and mental resources could
take pride and pleasure in his service in the House of Representatives
of his Commonwealth. He was sixty-eight years old, suffering from
disease, yet in his service last winter he did not miss one legislative
session nor a day meeting of his committee. His love for his town was a
mark of local attachment both praiseworthy and useful. "I would rather
be moderator of the Milton town-meeting," he said, "than hold any other
office in the United States."


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the October
meeting of 1900.


A useful member of the legislature of his state, a general in the army
during the Civil War, governor of his state, Secretary of the Interior
in President Grant's Cabinet, a member of Congress, the president of a
large railroad, a writer of books, dean and teacher in a law school, and
a reviewer of books in the _Nation_,--such were the varied activities of
General Cox. All this work was done with credit. He bore a prominent
part in the battle of Antietam, where Ropes speaks of his "brilliant
success"; he was the second in command at the battle of Franklin, and
bore the brunt of the battle. "Brigadier-General J. D. Cox," wrote
Schofield, the commanding general, in his report, "deserves a very large
share of credit for the brilliant victory at Franklin."

The governor of the state of Ohio did not then have a great opportunity
of impressing himself upon the minds of the people of his state, but Cox
made his mark in the canvass for that office. We must call to mind that
in the year 1865, when he was the Republican candidate for governor,
President Johnson had initiated his policy of reconstruction, but had
not yet made a formal break with his party. Negro suffrage, which only a
few had favored during the last year of the war, was now advocated by
the radical Republicans, and the popular sentiment of the party was
tending in that direction. Cox had been a strong antislavery man before
the war, a supporter of President Lincoln in his emancipation measures,
but soon after his nomination for governor he wrote a letter to his
radical friends at Oberlin in opposition to negro suffrage. "You
assume," he said, "that the extension of the right of suffrage to the
blacks, leaving them intermixed with the whites, will cure all the
trouble. I believe it would rather be like the decision in that outer
darkness of which Milton speaks where

          "'chaos umpire sits,
  And by decision more embroils the fray.'"

While governor, he said in a private conversation that he had come to
the conclusion "that so large bodies of black men and white as were in
presence in the Southern States never could share political power, and
that the insistence upon it on the part of the colored people would lead
to their ruin."

President Grant appointed General Cox Secretary of the Interior, and he
remained for nearly two years in the Cabinet. James Russell Lowell, on a
visit to Washington in 1870, gave expression to the feeling among
independent Republicans. "Judge Hoar," he wrote, "and Mr. Cox struck me
as the only really strong men in the Cabinet." This was long before the
Civil Service Reform Act had passed Congress, but Secretary Cox put the
Interior Department on a merit basis, and he was ever afterwards an
advocate of civil service reform by word of mouth and with his pen.
Differences with the President, in which I feel pretty sure that the
Secretary was in the right, caused him to resign the office.

Elected to Congress in 1876, he was a useful member for one term. He has
always been known to men in public life, and when President McKinley
offered him the position of Minister to Spain something over three years
ago, it was felt that a well-known and capable man had been selected.
For various reasons he did not accept the appointment, but if he had
done so, no one could doubt that he would have shown tact and judgment
in the difficult position.

As president of the Wabash Railroad, one of the large railroads in the
West, he gained a name among business men, and five or six years ago was
offered the place of Railroad Commissioner in New York City. This was
practically the position of arbitrator between the trunk lines, but he
was then Dean of the Cincinnati Law School and interested in a work
which he did not care to relinquish.

Besides a controversial monograph, he wrote three books on military
campaigns: "Atlanta"; "The March to the Sea; Franklin and Nashville";
"The Battle of Franklin"; and he wrote four excellent chapters for
Force's "Life of General Sherman." In these he showed qualities of a
military historian of a high order. Before his death he had finished his
Reminiscences, which will be brought out by the Scribners this autumn.

His differences with President Grant while in his Cabinet left a wound,
and in private conversation he was quite severe in his strictures of
many of the President's acts, but he never let this feeling influence
him in the slightest degree in the consideration of Grant the General.
He had a very high idea of Grant's military talents, which he has in
many ways emphatically stated.

Since 1874 he had been a constant contributor to the literary department
of the _Nation_. In his book reviews he showed a fine critical faculty
and large general information, and some of his obituary
notices--especially those of Generals Buell, Grant, Sherman, Joseph E.
Johnston, and Jefferson Davis--showed that power of impartial
characterization which is so great a merit in a historian. He was an
omnivorous reader of serious books. It was difficult to name any
noteworthy work of history or biography or any popular book on natural
science with which he was not acquainted.

As I saw him two years ago, when he was seventy years old, he was in the
best of health and vigor, which seemed to promise many years of life. He
was tall, erect, with a frame denoting great physical strength, and he
had distinctively a military bearing. He was an agreeable companion, an
excellent talker, a scrupulously honest and truthful man, and a


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the March
meeting of 1908.


When an associate dies who was not yet forty-eight years old, whom most
of us knew as a strong enduring man, who was capable of an immense
amount of intellectual work, it is a real calamity,--a calamity which in
this case History mourns, as Edward Gaylord Bourne was an excellent
teacher and a thorough historical scholar. The physical details of any
illness are apt to be repulsive, but the malady in Bourne's case was
somehow so bound up in his life that an inquiry into it comes from no
morbid curiosity. When ten years old he was attacked with tubercular
disease of the hip, and for some weeks his life was despaired of; but he
was saved by the loving care of his parents, receiving particular
devotion from his father, who was a Congregational minister in charge of
a parish in Connecticut. As the left leg had out-grown the other, Bourne
was obliged to use crutches for three years, when his father took him to
a specialist in Boston, and the result was that he was able to abandon
crutches and in the end to get about by an appliance to adjust the
lengths of the different legs, such as his friends were familiar with.
Despite this disability he developed great physical strength, especially
in the chest and arms, but his lameness prevented his accompanying his
college companions on long tramps, so that the bicycle was for him a
most welcome invention. He became expert in the use of it, riding on it
down Pike's Peak at the time of his visit to Colorado; and he performed
a similar feat of endurance on another occasion when stopping with me at
Jefferson in the White Mountains. Starting early in the morning, he
traveled by rail to the terminus of the mountain railroad, went up Mount
Washington on the railroad, and rode down the carriage road on his wheel
to the Glen House, which ought to have been enough of fatigue and
exertion for one day, but he then had about ten miles to make on his
bicycle over a somewhat rough mountain road to reach Jefferson.
Jefferson he did make, but not until after midnight.

During an acquaintance of over nineteen years with Bourne, I was always
impressed with his physical strength and endurance; and I was therefore
much surprised to learn, in a letter received from him last winter while
I was in Rome, that his youthful malady had attacked him, that he was
again on crutches and had been obliged to give up his work at Yale. In
truth ever since the autumn of 1906 he has had a painful, hopeless
struggle. He has had the benefit of all the resources of medicine and
surgery, and he and his wife were buoyed up by hope until the last; but
as the sequel of one of a series of operations death came to his relief
on February 24.

Only less remarkable than his struggle for life and physical strength
was his energy in acquiring an education. The sacrifices that parents in
New England and the rest of the country make in order to send their boys
to school and college is a common enough circumstance, but not always is
the return so satisfactory as it was in the case of Edward Bourne, and
his brother. Edward went to the Norwich Academy, where his studious
disposition and diligent purpose gained him the favor of the principal.
Thence to Yale, where he attracted the attention of Professor William G.
Sumner, who became to him a guide and a friend. Until his senior year at
Yale his favorite studies were Latin and Greek; and his brother, who was
in his class, informs me that ever since his preparatory school days, it
was his custom to read the whole of any author in hand as well as the
part set for the class. During recitations he recalls seeing him again
and again reading ahead in additional books of the author, keeping at
the same time "a finger on the page where the class was translating, in
order not to be caught off his guard." In his senior year at Yale, under
the influence of Professor Sumner, he became interested in economics and
won the Cobden medal. After graduation he wrote his first historical
book, "The History of the Surplus Revenue of 1837," published in 1885 in
Putnam's "Questions of the Day" series. For this and his other graduate
work his university later conferred upon him the degree of Ph.D. Since I
have learned the story of his boyhood and youth, it is with peculiar
appreciation that I read the dedication of this first book: "To my
Father and Mother." I may add in this connection that while pursuing his
indefatigable labors for the support of his large family, his father's
sickness and death overtaxed his strength, and the breakdown followed.

At Yale during his graduate work he won the Foote scholarship; he was
instructor in history there from 1886 to 1888, then took a similar
position at Adelbert College, Cleveland, becoming Professor of History
in 1890. This post he held until 1895, when he was called to Yale
University as Professor of History, a position that he held at the time
of his death.

Besides the doctor's thesis, Bourne published two books, the first of
which was "Essays in Historical Criticism," one of the Yale bicentennial
publications, the most notable essay in which is that on Marcus Whitman.
A paper read at the Ann Arbor session of the American Historical meeting
in Detroit and later published in the _American Historical Review_ is
here amplified into a long and exhaustive treatment of the subject. The
original paper gained Bourne some celebrity and subjected him to some
harsh criticism, both of which, I think, he thoroughly enjoyed. Feeling
sure of his facts and ground, he delighted in his final word to support
the contention which he had read with emphasis and pleasure to an
attentive audience in one of the halls of the University of Michigan.
The final paragraph sums up what he set out to prove with undoubted

    That Marcus Whitman was a devoted and heroic missionary who braved
    every hardship and imperilled his life for the cause of Christian
    missions and Christian civilization in the far Northwest and finally
    died at his post, a sacrifice to the cause, will not be gainsaid.
    That he deserves grateful commemoration in Oregon and Washington is
    beyond dispute. But that he is a national figure in American
    history, or that he "saved" Oregon, must be rejected as a fiction
    [p. 100].

Bourne had a good knowledge of American history, and he specialized on
the Discoveries period, to which he gave close and continuous attention.
He was indebted to Professor Hart's ambitious and excellent coöperative
history, "The American Nation," for the opportunity to obtain a hearing
on his favorite subject. His "Spain in America," his third published
book, is the book of a scholar. While the conditions of his narrative
allowed only forty-six pages to the story of Columbus, he had
undoubtedly material enough well arranged and digested to fill the
volume on this topic alone. I desire to quote a signal example of

    It was November, 1504, when Columbus arrived in Seville, a broken
    man, something over twelve years from the time he first set sail
    from Palos. Each successive voyage since his first had left him at a
    lower point. On his return from the second he was on the defensive;
    after his third he was deprived of his viceroyalty; on his fourth he
    was shipwrecked.... The last blow, the death of his patron Isabella,
    soon followed. It was months before he was able to attend court.
    His strength gradually failed, he sank from public view, and on the
    eve of Ascension Day, May 20, 1506, he passed away in obscurity
    [p. 81].

And I am very fond of this final characterization:

    Columbus ... has revealed himself in his writings as few men of
    action have been revealed. His hopes, his illusions, his vanity, and
    love of money, his devotion to by-gone ideals, his keen and
    sensitive observation of the natural world, his credulity and utter
    lack of critical power in dealing with literary evidence, his
    practical abilities as a navigator, his tenacity of purpose and
    boldness of execution, his lack of fidelity as a husband and a
    lover,... all stand out in clear relief.... Of all the self-made men
    that America has produced, none has had a more dazzling success, a
    more pathetic sinking to obscurity, or achieved a more universal
    celebrity [p. 82].

His chapter on Magellan is thoroughly interesting. The treatment of
Columbus and Magellan shows what Bourne might have achieved in
historical work if he could have had leisure to select his own subjects
and elaborate them at will.

Before "Spain in America" appeared, he wrote a scholarly introduction to
the vast work on the "Philippine Islands" published by the Arthur H.
Clark Company, of Cleveland, of which fifty-one volumes are already out.
The study of this subject gave Bourne a chance for the exhibition of his
dry wit at one of the gatherings of the American Historical Association.
It was asserted that in the acquisition of the Philippine Islands our
country had violated the spirit of the Monroe Doctrine, which properly
confined our indulgence of the land hunger that is preying upon the
world to the Western hemisphere. Bourne took issue with this statement.
He said that it might well be a question whether the Philippine Islands
did not belong to the Western hemisphere and that--

    for the first three centuries of their recorded history, they were
    in a sense a dependency of America. As a dependency of New Spain
    they constituted the extreme western verge of the Spanish dominions
    and were commonly known as the Western Islands. When the sun rose in
    Madrid it was still early afternoon of the preceding day in Manila.
    Down to the end of the year 1844 the Manilan calendar was reckoned
    after that of Spain, that is, Manila time was about sixteen hours
    slower than Madrid time.

Bourne undertook to write the Life of Motley for Houghton, Mifflin and
Company's American Men of Letters series, and he had done considerable
work in the investigation of material. He was editor of a number of
publications, one of which was John Fiske's posthumous volume, "New
France and New England," and he wrote critical notices for the _Nation_,
_New York Tribune_, and the _New York Times_. As I have said, he had a
large family to support, and he sought work of the potboiling order; but
in this necessary labor he never sacrificed his ideal of thoroughness. A
remark that he made to me some while ago has come back with pathetic
interest. After telling me what he was doing, how much time his teaching
left for outside work, why he did this and that because it brought him
money, he said: "I can get along all right. I can support my family,
educate my children, and get a little needed recreation, if only my
health does not break down."

Bourne took great interest in the American Historical Association, and
rarely if ever missed an annual meeting. He frequently read papers,
which were carefully prepared, and a number of them are printed in the
volume of Essays to which I have referred. He was the efficient chairman
of the programme committee at the meeting in New Haven in 1898; and as
chairman of an important committee, or as member of the Council, he
attended the November dinners and meetings in New York, so that he came
to be looked upon as one of the chief supporters of the Association.
Interested also in the _American Historical Review_, he was a frequent
contributor of critical book notices.

My acquaintance with Bourne began in 1888, the year in which I commenced
the composition of my history. We were both living in Cleveland, and, as
it was his custom to dine with me once or twice a month, acquaintance
grew into friendship, and I came to have a great respect for his
training and knowledge as a historical scholar. The vastness of
historical inquiry impressed me, as it has all writers of history.
Recognizing in Bourne a kindred spirit, it occurred to me whether I
could not hasten my work if he would employ part of his summer vacation
in collecting material. I imparted the idea to Bourne, who received it
favorably, and he spent a month of the summer of 1889 at work for me in
the Boston Athenæum on my general specifications, laboring with industry
and discrimination over the newspapers of the early '50's to which we
had agreed to confine his work. His task completed, he made me a visit
of a few days at Bar Harbor, affording an opportunity for us to discuss
the period and his material. I was so impressed with the value of his
assistance that, when the manuscript of my first two volumes was
completed in 1891, I asked him to spend a month with me and work jointly
on its revision. We used to devote four or five hours a day to this
labor, and in 1894, when I had finished my third volume, we had a
similar collaboration.[163] I have never known a better test of general
knowledge and intellectual temper.

Bourne was a slow thinker and worker, but he was sure, and, when he knew
a thing, his exposition was clear and pointed. The chance of reflection
over night and the occasional discussion at meal times, outside of our
set hours, gave him the opportunity to recall all his knowledge bearing
on the subject in hand, to digest and classify it thoroughly, so that,
when he tackled a question, he talked, so to speak, like a book. Two
chapters especially attracted him,--the one on Slavery in my first
volume, and the one on general financial and social conditions at the
beginning of the third; and I think that I may say that not only every
paragraph and sentence, but every important word in these two chapters
was discussed and weighed. Bourne was a good critic, and, to set him
entirely at ease, as he was twelve years younger, I told him to lay
aside any respect on account of age, and to speak out frankly, no matter
how hard it hit, adding that I had better hear disagreeable things from
him than to have them said by critics after the volumes were printed.

The intelligent note on page 51 of my third volume was written by
Bourne, as I state in the note itself, but I did not speak of the large
amount of study he gave to it. I never knew a man take keener interest
in anything, and as we had all the necessary authorities at hand, he
worked over them for two days, coming down on the morning of the third
day with the triumphant air of one who had wrestled successfully with a
mathematical problem all night. He sat down and, as I remember it, wrote
the note substantially as it now stands in the volume. He was very
strong on all economic and sociological questions, displaying in a
marked degree the intellectual stimulus he had derived from his
association with Professor Sumner. He was a born controversialist and
liked to argue. "The appetite comes in eating" is a French saying, and
with Bourne his knowledge seemed to be best evolved by the actual joint
working and collision with another mind.

I remember one felicitous suggestion of Bourne's which after much
working over we incorporated into a paragraph to our common
satisfaction; and this paragraph received commendation in some critical
notice. Showing this to Bourne, I said: "That is the way of the world.
You did the thinking, I got the credit." Bourne had, however, forgotten
his part in the paragraph. His mind was really so full of knowledge,
when one could get at it, that he did not remember giving off any part
of it. In addition to his quality of close concentration, he acquired a
good deal of knowledge in a desultory way. In my library when
conversation lagged he would go to the shelves and take down book after
book, reading a little here or there, lighting especially upon any books
that had been acquired since his previous visit, and with reading he
would comment. This love of browsing in a library he acquired when a
boy, so his brother informs me, and when at Yale it was said that he
knew the library as well as the librarian himself.

It will be remembered that last spring our accomplished editor, Mr.
Smith, decided that he could no longer bear the burden of this highly
important work; and the question of a fit successor came up at once in
the mind of our President. Writing to me while I was in Europe, he
expressed the desire of consulting with me on the subject as soon as I
returned. I was unfortunately unable to get back in time for the June
meeting of the Society; and afterwards when I reached Boston the
President had gone West, and when he got home I was at Seal Harbor. To
spare me the trip to Boston and Lincoln, he courteously offered to come
to see me at Seal Harbor, where we had the opportunity to discuss the
subject in all its bearings. It will be quite evident from this
narrative that my choice for editor would be no other than Professor
Bourne, and I was much gratified to learn that the President from his
own observation and reflection had determined on the same man. Mr. Adams
had been accustomed to see Bourne at meetings of the American
Historical Association and at dinners of their Council; but, so he
informed me, he was not specially impressed by him until he read the
essay on Marcus Whitman, which gave him a high idea of Bourne's power of
working over material, and his faculty of trenchant criticism. We
arrived readily at the conclusion that Bourne would be an ideal editor
and that the position would suit him perfectly. Relieved of the drudgery
of teaching, he could give full swing to his love of books and to his
desire of running down through all the authorities some fact or
reference bearing upon the subject in hand. The work would be a labor of
love on which he could bring to bear his knowledge, conscientious
endeavor, and historical training. It would have been a case of mutual
benefit. He would be fortunate in securing such a position, and the
Society might be congratulated on being able to get a man so peculiarly
qualified for editorial work. But there was the question of Bourne's
health. We both knew that he had been failing, but we were not aware
that his case was hopeless. The President did not wish to present his
recommendation to the Council until there was a reasonable chance of his
recovery, and I undertook from time to time to get information from a
common friend in New Haven of his progress. But there was no good news.
While Bourne, with the help of his devoted wife, made an energetic fight
for life, it was unavailing. In his death Yale lost an excellent teacher
of history and this Society a candidate who, if he had been chosen,
would have made an accomplished editor.

  [163] Bourne also revised the manuscript of my fourth volume, but the
        conditions did not admit of our being together more than two
        days, and the revision was not so satisfactory to either of us
        as that of the first three volumes.


Printed in _Scribner's Magazine_, of February, 1903.


The English Constitution, as it existed between 1760 and 1787, was the
model of the American, but parts of it were inapplicable to the
conditions in which the thirteen Colonies found themselves, and where
the model failed the Convention struck out anew. The sagacity of the
American statesmen in this creative work may well fill Englishmen, so
Sir Henry Maine wrote, "with wonder and envy." Mr. Bryce's
classification of constitutions as flexible and rigid is apt: of our
Constitution it may be said that in the main it is rigid in those
matters which should not be submitted to the decision of a legislature
or to a popular vote without checks which secure reflection and a chance
for the sober second thought, and that it has proved flexible in its
adaptation to the growth of the country and to the development of the
nineteenth century. Sometimes, though, it is flexible to the extent of
lacking precision. An instance of this is the proviso for the counting
of the electoral vote. "The votes shall then be counted" are the words.
Thus, when in 1876 it was doubtful whether Tilden or Hayes had been
chosen President, a fierce controversy arose as to who should count the
votes, the President of the Senate or Congress. While many regretted the
absence of an incontrovertible provision, it was fortunate for the
country that the Constitution did not provide that the vote should be
counted by the President of the Senate, who, the Vice President having
died in office, was in 1877 a creature of the partisan majority. It is
doubtful, too, if the decision of such an officer would have been
acquiesced in by the mass of Democrats, who thought that they had fairly
elected their candidate. There being no express declaration of the
Constitution, it devolved upon Congress to settle the dispute; the
ability and patriotism of that body was equal to the crisis. By a
well-devised plan of arbitration, Congress relieved the strain and
provided for a peaceful settlement of a difficulty which in most
countries would have led to civil war.

In the provisions conferring the powers and defining the duties of the
executive the flexible character of the Constitution is shown in another
way. Everything is clearly stated, but the statements go not beyond the
elementary. The Convention knew what it wanted to say, and Gouverneur
Morris, who in the end drew up the document, wrote this part of it, as
indeed all other parts, in clear and effective words. It is due to him,
wrote Laboulaye, that the Constitution has a "distinctness entirely
French, in happy contrast to the complicated language of the English
laws." Yet on account of the elementary character of the article of the
Constitution on the powers of the President, there is room for
inference, a chance for development, and an opportunity for a strong man
to imprint his character upon the office. The Convention, writes Mr.
Bryce, made its executive a George III "shorn of a part of his
prerogative," his influence and dignity diminished by a reduction of the
term of office to four years. The English writer was thoroughly familiar
with the _Federalist_, and appreciated Hamilton's politic efforts to
demonstrate that the executive of the Constitution was modeled after the
governors of the states, and not after the British monarch; but "an
enlarged copy of the state governor," Mr. Bryce asserts, is one and the
same thing as "a reduced and improved copy of the English king." But, on
the other hand, Bagehot did not believe that the Americans comprehended
the English Constitution. "Living across the Atlantic," he wrote, "and
misled by accepted doctrines, the acute framers of the Federal
Constitution, even after the keenest attention, did not perceive the
Prime Minister to be the principal executive of the British
Constitution, and the sovereign a cog in the mechanism;" and he seems to
think that if this had been understood the executive power would have
been differently constituted.

It is a pertinent suggestion of Mr. Bryce's that the members of the
Convention must have been thinking of their presiding officer, George
Washington, as the first man who would exercise the powers of the
executive office they were creating. So it turned out. Never did a
country begin a new enterprise with so wise a ruler. An admirable polity
had been adopted, but much depended upon getting it to work, and the man
who was selected to start the government was the man of all men for the
task. Histories many and from different points of view have been written
of Washington's administration; all are interesting, and the subject
seems to ennoble the writers. Statesmen meeting with students to discuss
the character and political acts of Washington marvel at his wisdom in
great things and his patience in small things, at the dignity and good
sense with which he established the etiquette of his office, at the tact
which retained in his service two such irreconcilable men as Jefferson
and Hamilton. The importance of a good start for an infant government is
well understood. But for our little state of four million people such a
start was difficult to secure. The contentions which grew out of the
ratification of the Constitution in the different states had left bitter
feelings behind them, and these domestic troubles were heightened by our
intimate relations with foreign countries. We touched England, France,
and Spain at delicate points, and the infancy of our nation was passed
during the turmoil of the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror. In
our midst there was an English and a French party. Moreover, in the
judgment of the world the experiment of the new government was
foredoomed to failure. Wrote Sir Henry Maine, "It is not at all easy to
bring home to the men of the present day how low the credit of republics
had sunk before the establishment of the United States." Hardly were
success to be won had we fallen upon quiet times; but with free
governments discredited, and the word "liberty" made a reproach by the
course of the French Revolution, it would seem impossible.

Washington's prescience is remarkable. Recognizing, in October, 1789,
that France had "gone triumphantly through the first paroxysm," he felt
that she must encounter others, that more blood must be shed, that she
might run from one extreme to another, and that "a higher-toned
despotism" might replace "the one which existed before." Mentally
prepared as he was, he met with skill the difficulties as they arose, so
that the conduct of our foreign relations during the eight years of his
administration was marked by discretion and furnished a good pattern to
follow. During his foreign negotiations he determined a constitutional
question of importance. When the Senate had ratified and Washington,
after some delay, had signed the Jay treaty, the House of
Representatives, standing for the popular clamor against it, asked the
President for all the papers relating to the negotiation, on the ground
that the House of Representatives must give its concurrence. This demand
he resisted, maintaining that it struck at "the fundamental principles
of the Constitution," which conferred upon the President and the Senate
the power of making treaties, and provided that these treaties when made
and ratified were the supreme law of the land. In domestic affairs he
showed discernment in selecting as his confidential adviser, Alexander
Hamilton, a man who had great constructive talent; and he gave a
demonstration of the physical strength of the government by putting
down the whisky rebellion in Pennsylvania. During his eight years he
construed the powers conferred upon the executive by the Constitution
with wisdom, and exercised them with firmness and vigor. Washington was
a man of exquisite manners and his conduct of the office gave it a
dignity and prestige which, with the exception of a part of one term, it
has never lost.

Four of the five Presidents who followed Washington were men of
education and ability, and all of them had large political training and
experience; they reached their position by the process of a natural
selection in politics, being entitled fitly to the places for which they
were chosen. The three first fell upon stormy times and did their work
during periods of intense partisan excitement; they were also subject to
personal detraction, but the result in the aggregate of their
administrations was good, inasmuch as they either maintained the power
of the executive or increased its influence. Despite their many mistakes
they somehow overcame the great difficulties. Each one did something of
merit and the country made a distinct gain from John Adams to Monroe.
Any one of them suffers by comparison with Washington: the "era of good
feeling" was due to Congress and the people as well as to the executive.
Nevertheless, the three turbulent administrations and the two quiet ones
which succeeded Washington's may at this distance from them be
contemplated with a feeling of gratulation. The Presidents surrounded
themselves for the most part with men of ability, experience, and
refinement, who carried on the government with dignity and a sense of
proportion, building well upon the foundations which Washington had

A contrast between France and the United States leads to curious
reflections. The one has a past rich in art, literature, and
architecture, which the other almost entirely lacks. But politically the
older country has broken with the past, while we have political
traditions peculiar to ourselves of the highest value. For the man
American-born they may be summed up in Washington, the rest of the
"Fathers," and the Constitution; and those who leave England, Scotland,
Ireland, Wales, Germany, and Scandinavia to make their home in America
soon come to share in these possessions. While the immigrants from
southern Europe do not comprehend the Constitution, they know
Washington. An object lesson may be had almost any pleasant Sunday or
holiday in the public garden in Boston from the group of Italians who
gather about the statue of Washington, showing, by their mobile faces
and animated talk, that they revere him who is the father of their
adopted country.

During these five administrations, at least two important extensions or
assertions of executive power were made. In 1803 Jefferson bought
Louisiana, doing, he said, "an act beyond the Constitution." He was a
strict constructionist, and was deeply concerned at the variance between
his constitutional principles and a desire for the material advantage of
his country. In an effort to preserve his consistency he suggested to
his Cabinet and political friends an amendment to the Constitution
approving and confirming the cession of this territory, but they,
deeming such an amendment entirely unnecessary, received his suggestion
coldly. In the debate on the Louisiana treaty in the Senate and the
House, all speakers of both parties agreed that "the United States
government had the power to acquire new territory either by conquest or
by treaty."[164] Louisiana, "without its consent and against its will,"
was annexed to the United States, and Jefferson "made himself monarch of
the new territory, and wielded over it, against its protests, the
powers of its old kings."[165]

The assertion by the President in 1823 of the Monroe Doctrine (which Mr.
Worthington C. Ford has shown to be the John Quincy Adams doctrine) is
an important circumstance in the development of the executive power.

President John Quincy Adams was succeeded by Andrew Jackson, a man of
entirely different character from those who had preceded him in the
office, and he represented different aims. Adams deserved another term.
His sturdy Americanism, tempered by the cautiousness in procedure which
was due to his rare training, made him an excellent public servant, and
the country erred in not availing itself of his further service. The
change from the _régime_ of the first six Presidents to that of Jackson
was probably inevitable. A high-toned democracy, based on a qualified
suffrage, believing in the value of training for public life and
administrative office, setting a value on refinement and good manners,
was in the end sure to give way to a pure democracy based on universal
suffrage whenever it could find a leader to give it force and direction.
Jackson was such a leader. His followers felt: "He is one of us. He is
not proud and does not care for style."[166] The era of vulgarity in
national politics was ushered in by Jackson, who as President introduced
the custom of rewarding political workers with offices, an innovation
entirely indefensible; he ought to have continued the practice of his
six predecessors. The interaction between government and politics on the
one hand and the life of the people on the other is persistent, and it
may be doubted whether the United States would have seemed as it did to
Dickens had not Jackson played such an important part in the
vulgarization of politics. Yet it was a happy country, as the pages of
Tocqueville bear witness.

Jackson was a strong executive and placed in his Cabinet men who would
do his will, and who, from his own point of view, were good advisers,
since they counseled him to pursue the course he had marked out for
himself. Comparing his Cabinet officers to those of the Presidents
preceding him, one realizes that another plan of governing was set on
foot, based on the theory that any American citizen is fit for any
position to which he is called. It was an era when special training for
administrative work began to be slighted, when education beyond the
rudiments was considered unnecessary except in the three professions,
when the practical man was apotheosized and the bookish man despised.
Jackson, uneducated and with little experience in civil life, showed
what power might be exercised by an arbitrary, unreasonable man who had
the people at his back. The brilliant three--Webster, Clay, and
Calhoun--were unable to prevail against his power.

Jackson's financial policy may be defended; yet had it not been for his
course during the nullification trouble, his declaration, "Our Federal
Union: It must be preserved," and his consistent and vigorous action in
accordance with that sentiment it would be difficult to affirm that the
influence of his two terms of office was good. It cannot be said that he
increased permanently the power of the executive, but he showed its
capabilities. It is somewhat curious, however, that Tocqueville, whose
observations were made under Jackson, should have written: "The
President possesses almost royal prerogatives, which he never has an
opportunity of using.... The laws permit him to be strong; circumstances
keep him weak."

The eight Presidents from Jackson to Lincoln did not raise the character
of the presidential office. Van Buren was the heir of Jackson. Of the
others, five owed their nominations to their availability. The evil
which Jackson did lived after him; indeed, only a man as powerful for
the good as he had been for the bad could have restored the civil
service to the merit system which had prevailed before he occupied the
White House. The offices were at stake in every election, and the
scramble for them after the determination of the result was great and
pressing. The chief business of a President for many months after his
inauguration was the dealing out of the offices to his followers and
henchmen. It was a bad scheme, from the political point of view, for
every President except him who inaugurated it. Richelieu is reported to
have said, on making an appointment, "I have made a hundred enemies and
one ingrate." So might have said many times the Presidents who succeeded

The Whig, a very respectable party, having in its ranks the majority of
the men of wealth and education, fell a victim to the doctrine of
availability when it nominated Harrison on account of his military
reputation. He lived only one month after his inauguration, and Tyler,
the Vice President, who succeeded him, reverted to his old political
principles, which were Democratic, and broke with the Whigs. By an
adroit and steady use of the executive power he effected the annexation
of Texas, but the master spirit in this enterprise was Calhoun, his
Secretary of State. Polk, his Democratic successor, coveted California
and New Mexico, tried to purchase them, and not being able to do this,
determined on war. In fact, he had decided to send in a war message to
Congress before the news came that the Mexicans, goaded to it by the
action of General Taylor, under direct orders of the President, had
attacked an American force and killed sixteen of our dragoons. This
gave a different complexion to his message, and enabled him to get a
strong backing from Congress for his war policy. The actions of Tyler
and of Polk illustrate the power inherent in the executive office. It
might seem that the exercise of this authority, securing for us at small
material cost the magnificent domains of Texas, California, and New
Mexico, would have given these Presidents a fame somewhat like that
which Jefferson won by the purchase of Louisiana. But such has not been
the case. The main reason is that the extension of slavery was involved
in both enterprises, and the histories of these times, which have molded
historical sentiment, have been written from the antislavery point of
view. It seems hardly probable that this sentiment will be changed in
any time that we can forecast, but there is an undoubted tendency in the
younger historical students to look upon the expansion of the country as
the important consideration, and the slavery question as incidental.
Professor von Holst thought this changing historical sentiment entirely
natural, but he felt sure that in the end men would come round to the
antislavery view, of which he was so powerful an advocate.

From Taylor to Lincoln slavery dominated all other questions. Taylor was
a Southern man and a slaveholder, and by his course on the Compromise
measures attracted the favor of antislavery men; while Fillmore of New
York, who succeeded this second President to die in office, and who
exerted the power of the Administration to secure the passage of Clay's
Compromise and signed the Fugitive Slave Law, had but a small political
following at the North. Pierce and Buchanan were weak, the more positive
men in their Cabinets and in the Senate swayed them. For a part of both
of their terms the House of Representatives was controlled by the
opposition, the Senate remaining Democratic. These circumstances are
evidence both of the length of time required to change the political
complexion of the Senate and of the increasing power of the North, which
was dominant in the popular House. For the decade before the Civil War
we should study the Senate, the House of Representatives, the Supreme
Court, the action of the states, and popular sentiment. The executive is
still powerful, but he is powerful because he is the representative of a
party or faction which dictates the use that shall be made of his
constitutional powers. The presidential office loses interest:
irresolute men are in the White House, strong men everywhere else.

Lincoln is inaugurated President; the Civil War ensues, and with it an
extraordinary development of the executive power. It is an interesting
fact that the ruler of a republic which sprang from a resistance to the
English king and Parliament should exercise more arbitrary power than
any Englishman since Oliver Cromwell, and that many of his acts should
be worthy of a Tudor. Lincoln was a good lawyer who reverenced the
Constitution and the laws, and only through necessity assumed and
exercised extra-legal powers, trying at the same time to give to these
actions the color of legality. Hence his theory of the war power of the
Constitution, which may be construed to permit everything necessary to
carry on the war. Yet his dictatorship was different from Cæsar's and
different from the absolute authority of Napoleon. He acted under the
restraints imposed by his own legal conscience and patriotic soul, whose
influence was revealed in his confidential letters and talks. We know
furthermore that he often took counsel of his Cabinet officers before
deciding matters of moment. Certain it is that in arbitrary arrests
Seward and Stanton were disposed to go further than Lincoln. The spirit
of arbitrary power was in the air, and unwise and unjust acts were done
by subordinates, which, although Lincoln would not have done them
himself, he deemed it better to ratify than to undo. This was notably
the case in the arrest of Vallandigham. Again, Congress did not always
do what Lincoln wished, and certain men of his own party in Congress
were strong enough to influence his actions in various ways. But, after
all, he was himself a strong man exercising comprehensive authority; and
it is an example of the flexibility of the Constitution that, while it
surely did not authorize certain of Lincoln's acts, it did not expressly
forbid them. It was, for example, an open question whether the
Constitution authorized Congress or the President to suspend the writ of
_habeas corpus_.

It seems to be pretty well settled by the common sense of mankind that
when a nation is fighting for its existence it cannot be fettered by all
the legal technicalities which obtain in the time of peace. Happy the
country whose dictatorship, if dictator there must be, falls into wise
and honest hands! The honesty, magnanimity, and wisdom of Lincoln guided
him aright, and no harm has come to the great principles of liberty from
the arbitrary acts which he did or suffered to be done. On the other
hand he has so impressed himself upon the Commonwealth that he has made
a precedent for future rulers in a time of national peril, and what he
excused and defended will be assumed as a matter of course because it
will be according to the Constitution as interpreted by Abraham Lincoln.
This the Supreme Court foresaw when it rendered its judgment in the
Milligan case, saying: "Wicked men ambitious of power, with hatred of
liberty and contempt of law, may fill the place once occupied by
Washington and Lincoln, and if this right is conceded [that of a
commander in a time of war to declare martial law within the lines of
his military district and subject citizens as well as soldiers to the
rule of _his will_] and the calamities of war again befall us, the
dangers to human liberty are frightful to contemplate." No one can deny
that a danger here exists, but it is not so great as the solemn words of
the Supreme Court might lead one to believe. For Lincoln could not have
persisted in his arbitrary acts had a majority of Congress definitely
opposed them, and his real strength lay in the fact that he had the
people at his back. This may be said of the period from the first call
of troops in April, 1861, until the summer of 1862. McClellan's failure
on the Peninsula, Pope's disaster at the second battle of Bull Run, the
defeats at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville lost Lincoln the
confidence of many; and while the emancipation proclamation of
September, 1862, intensified the support of others, it nevertheless
alienated some Republicans and gave to the opposition of the Democrats a
new vigor. But after Gettysburg and Vicksburg in July, 1863, Lincoln had
the support of the mass of the Northern people. Whatever he did the
people believed was right because he had done it. The trust each placed
in the other is one of the inspiring examples of free government and
democracy. Lincoln did not betray their confidence: they did not falter
save possibly for brief moments during the gloomy summer of 1864. The
people who gave their unreserved support to Lincoln were endued with
intelligence and common sense; not attracted by any personal magnetism
of the man, they had, by a process of homely reasoning, attained their
convictions and from these they were not to be shaken. This is the
safety of a dictatorship as long as the same intelligence obtains among
the voters as now; for the people will not support a ruler in the
exercise of extra-legal powers unless he be honest and patriotic. The
danger may come in a time of trouble from either an irresolute or an
unduly obstinate executive. The irresolute man would baffle the best
intentions of the voters; the obstinate man might quarrel with Congress
and the people. Either event in time of war would be serious and might
be disastrous. But the chances are against another Buchanan or Johnson
in the presidential office.

If the Civil War showed the flexibility of the Constitution in that the
executive by the general agreement of Congress and the people was able
to assume unwarranted powers, the course of affairs under Johnson
demonstrated the strength that Congress derived from the organic act.
The story is told in a sentence by Blaine: "Two thirds of each House
united and stimulated to one end can practically neutralize the
executive power of the government and lay down its policy in defiance of
the efforts and opposition of the President."[167] What a contrast
between the two administrations! Under Lincoln Congress, for the most
part, simply registered the will of the President; under Johnson the
President became a mere executive clerk of Congress. In the one case the
people supported the President, in the other they sustained Congress.
Nothing could better illustrate the flexibility of the Constitution than
the contrast between these administrations; but it needs no argument to
show that to pass from one such extreme to another is not healthy for
the body politic. The violent antagonisms aroused during Johnson's
administration, when the difficult questions to be settled needed the
best statesmanship of the country, and when the President and Congress
should have coöperated wisely and sympathetically, did incalculable
harm. Johnson, by habits, manners, mind, and character, was unfit for
the presidential office, and whatever may have been the merit of his
policy, a policy devised by angels could never have been carried on by
such an advocate. The American people love order and decency; they have
a high regard for the presidential office, and they desire to see its
occupant conduct himself with dignity. Jackson and Lincoln lacked many
of the external graces of a gentleman, but both had native qualities
which enabled them to bear themselves with dignity on public occasions.
Johnson degraded the office, and he is the only one of our Presidents of
whom this can be said. Bagehot, writing in 1872, drew an illustration
from one of the darkest periods of our republic to show the superiority
of the English Constitution. If we have a Prime Minister who does not
suit Parliament and the people, he argued, we remove him by a simple
vote of the House of Commons. The United States can only get rid of its
undesirable executive by a cumbrous and tedious process which can only
be brought to bear during a period of revolutionary excitement; and even
this failed because a legal case was not made against the President. The
criticism was pregnant, but the remedy was not Cabinet responsibility.
Whatever may be the merits or demerits of our polity, it has grown as
has the English; it has fitted itself to the people, and cabinet
government cannot be had without a complete change of the organic act,
which is neither possible nor desirable. The lesson was that the
national conventions should exercise more care in naming their
vice-presidential candidates; and these bodies have heeded it. When
Grant, popular throughout the country, nominated by the unanimous vote
of the Republican convention, became President, Congress restored to the
executive a large portion of the powers of which it had been shorn
during Johnson's administration. Grant had splendid opportunities which
he did not improve, and he left no especial impression on the office. In
the opinion of one of his warm friends and supporters he made "a pretty
poor President." An able opposition to him developed in his own party;
and as he was a sensitive man he felt keenly their attacks. Colonel John
Hay told me that, when on a visit to Washington during Grant's
administration, he had arrived at the Arlington Hotel at an early hour
and started out for a walk; in front of the White House he was surprised
to meet the President, who was out for the same purpose. The two walked
together to the Capitol and back, Grant showing himself to be anything
but a silent man. Manifesting a keen sensitiveness to the attacks upon
him, he talked all of the time in a voluble manner, and the burden of
his talk was a defense of his administrative acts. It is impossible in
our minds to dissociate Grant the President from Grant the General, and
for this reason American historical criticism will deal kindly with him.
The brilliant victor of Donelson, the bold strategist of Vicksburg, the
compeller of men at Chattanooga, the vanquisher of Robert E. Lee in
March and April, 1865, the magnanimous conqueror at Appomattox, will be
treated with charity by those who write about his presidential terms,
because he meant well although he did not know how to do well. Moreover,
the good which Grant did is of that salient kind which will not be
forgotten. The victorious general, with two trusted military
subordinates in the prime of life and a personnel for a strong navy,
persisted, under the guidance of his wise Secretary of State, Hamilton
Fish, in negotiating a treaty which provided for arbitration and
preserved the peace with Great Britain; although, in the opinion of the
majority, the country had a just cause of war in the escape of the
Florida and the Alabama. After the panic of 1873, when financiers and
capitalists lost their heads, and Congress with the approval of public
sentiment passed an act increasing the amount of United States notes in
circulation, Grant, by a manly and bold veto, prevented this inflation
of the currency. The wisdom of the framers of the Constitution in giving
the President the veto power was exemplified. Congress did not pass the
act over the veto, and Grant has been justified by the later judgment of
the nation. His action demonstrated what a President may do in resisting
by his constitutional authority some transitory wave of popular opinion,
and it has proved a precedent of no mean value. Johnson's vetoes became
ridiculous. Grant's veto compensates for many of his mistakes.

Said Chancellor Kent in 1826: "If ever the tranquillity of this nation
is to be disturbed and its liberties endangered by a struggle for power,
it will be upon this very subject of the choice of a President. This is
the question that is eventually to test the goodness and try the
strength of the Constitution, and if we shall be able for half a century
hereafter to continue to elect the chief magistrate of the Union with
discretion, moderation, and integrity we shall undoubtedly stamp the
highest value on our national character." Just fifty years later came a
more dangerous test than Kent could have imagined. Somewhat more than
half of the country believed that the states of Florida and Louisiana
should be counted for Tilden, and that he was therefore elected. On the
other hand, nearly one half of the voters were of the opinion that those
electoral votes should be given to Hayes, which would elect him by the
majority of one electoral vote. Each of the parties had apparently a
good case, and after an angry controversy became only the more firmly
and sincerely convinced that its own point of view was unassailable. The
Senate was Republican, the House Democratic. The great Civil War had
been ended only eleven years before, and the country was full of
fighting men. The Southern people were embittered against the dominant
party for the reason that Reconstruction had gone otherwise than they
had expected in 1865 when they laid down their arms. The country was on
the verge of a civil war over the disputed Presidency--a war that might
have begun with an armed encounter on the floor of the Senate or the
House. This was averted by a carefully prepared congressional act, which
in effect left the dispute to a board of arbitration. To the statesmen
of both parties who devised this plan and who coöperated in carrying the
measure through Congress; to the members of the Electoral Commission,
who in the bitterest strife conducted themselves with dignity; to the
Democratic Speaker of the House and the Democrats who followed his lead,
the eternal gratitude of the country is due. "He that ruleth his spirit
is better than he that taketh a city." The victories of Manila and
Santiago are as nothing compared with the victorious restraint of the
American people in 1876 and 1877 and the acquiescence of one half of the
country in what they believed to be an unrighteous decision. Hayes was
inaugurated peacefully, but had to conduct his administration in the
view of 4,300,000 voters who believed that, whatever might be his legal
claim, he had no moral right to the place he occupied. The Democrats
controlled the House of Representatives during the whole of his term,
and the Senate for a part of it, and at the outset he encountered the
opposition of the stalwart faction of his own party. Nevertheless he
made a successful President, and under him the office gained in force
and dignity. Hayes was not a man of brilliant parts or wide
intelligence, but he had common sense and decision of character.
Surrounding himself with a strong Cabinet, three members of which were
really remarkable for their ability, he entered upon a distinct policy
from which flowed good results. He withdrew the Federal troops from the
states of South Carolina and Louisiana, inaugurating in these states an
era of comparative peace and tranquillity. Something was done in the
interest of Civil Service Reform. In opposition to the view of his
Secretary of the Treasury and confidential friend, John Sherman, he
vetoed the act of 1878 for the remonetization of silver by the coinage
of a certain amount of silver dollars--the first of those measures which
almost brought us to the monetary basis of silver. His guiding principle
was embodied in a remark he made in his inaugural address, "He serves
his party best who serves the country best." He and his accomplished
wife had a social and moral influence in Washington of no mean value.
The Civil War had been followed by a period of corruption, profligacy,
and personal immorality. In politics, if a man were sound on the main
question, which meant if he were a thorough-going Republican, all else
was forgiven. Under Hayes account was again taken of character and
fitness. The standard of political administration was high. While Mrs.
Hayes undoubtedly carried her total abstinence principles to an extreme
not warranted by the usage of good society, the moral atmosphere of the
White House was that of most American homes. Mr. and Mrs. Hayes belonged
to that large class who are neither rich nor poor, neither learned nor
ignorant, but who are led both by their native common sense and by their
upbringing to have a high respect for learning, a belief in education,
morality, and religion, and a lofty ideal for their own personal

The salient feature of Garfield's few months of administration was a
quarrel between him and the senators from New York State about an
important appointment. Into this discussion, which ended in a tragedy,
entered so many factors that it is impossible to determine exactly the
influence on the power of the President and the growing power of the
Senate. One important result of it shall be mentioned. The Civil Service
Reform Bill, introduced into the Senate by a Democrat, was enacted
during Arthur's administration by a large and non-partisan majority. It
provided for a non-partisan civil service commission, and established
open competitive examinations for applicants for certain offices, making
a commencement by law of the merit system, which before had depended
entirely upon executive favor. It was a victory for reformers who had
been advocating legislation of such a character from a period shortly
after the close of the Civil War; for it was at that time that a few
began the work of educating public sentiment, which had acquiesced in
the rotation of offices as an American principle well worthy of
maintenance. Consequences far-reaching and wholesome followed the
passage of this important act. Grant had attempted and Hayes had
accomplished a measure of reform, but to really fix the merit system in
the civil service a law was needed.

Regarded by the lovers of good government as a machine politician,
Arthur happily disappointed them by breaking loose from his old
associations and pursuing a manly course. He gave the country a
dignified administration; but, even had he been a man to impress his
character upon the office, conditions were against him. His party was
torn by internal dissensions and suffered many defeats, of which the
most notable was in his own state of New York, where his Secretary of
the Treasury and personal friend was overwhelmingly defeated for
governor by Grover Cleveland.

The unprecedented majority which Cleveland received in this election and
his excellent administration as Governor of New York secured for him the
Democratic nomination for President in 1884. New York State decided the
election, but the vote was so close that for some days the result was in
doubt and the country was nervous lest there should be another disputed
Presidency; in the end it was determined that Cleveland had carried that
state by a plurality of 1149. Cleveland was the first Democratic
President elected since 1856; the Democrats had been out of office for
twenty-four years, and it had galled them to think that their historic
party had so long been deprived of power and patronage. While many of
their leaders had a good record on the question of Civil Service Reform,
the rank and file believed in the Jacksonian doctrine of rewarding party
workers with the offices, or, as most of them would have put it, "To the
victors belong the spoils." With this principle so fixed in the minds of
his supporters, it became an interesting question how Cleveland would
meet it. No one could doubt that he would enforce fairly the statute,
but would he content himself with this and use the offices not covered
by the act to reward his followers in the old Democratic fashion? An
avowed civil service reformer, and warmly supported by independents and
some former Republicans on that account, he justified the confidence
which they had reposed in him and refused "to make a clean sweep." In
resisting this very powerful pressure from his party he accomplished
much toward the establishment of the merit system in the civil service.
It is true that he made political changes gradually, but his insistence
on a rule which gained him time for reflection in making appointments
was of marked importance. It would be idle to assert that in his two
terms he lived wholly up to the ideal of the reformers; undoubtedly a
long list of backslidings might be made up, but in striking a fair
balance it is not too much to say that in this respect his
administration made for righteousness. All the more credit is due him in
that he not only resisted personal pressure, but, aspiring to be a party
leader for the carrying out of a cherished policy on finance and the
tariff, he made more difficult the accomplishment of these ends by
refusing to be a mere partisan in the question of the offices. In his
second term it is alleged, probably with truth, that he made a skillful
use of his patronage to secure the passage by the Senate of the repeal
of the Silver Act of 1890, which repeal had gone easily through the
House. It seemed to him and to many financiers that unless this large
purchase of silver bullion should be stopped the country would be forced
on to a silver basis, the existing financial panic would be grievously
intensified, and the road back to the sound money basis of the rest of
the civilized world would be long and arduous. His course is defended as
doing a little wrong in order to bring about a great right; and the
sequence of events has justified that defense. Harm was done to the
cause of Civil Service Reform, but probably no permanent injury. The
repeal of the Silver Act of 1890 was the first important step in the
direction of insuring a permanent gold standard, and Grover Cleveland is
the hero of it.

The presidential office gained in strength during Cleveland's two terms.
As we look back upon them, the President is the central figure round
which revolves each policy and its success or failure. At the same time,
it is his party more than he that is to be blamed for the failures. He
made a distinct move toward a reduction of the tariff, and while this
failed, leaving us with the reactionary result of higher duties than
ever before, it is not impossible that the words, actions, and
sacrifices of Cleveland will be the foundation of a new tariff-reform
party. Allusion has been made to his soundness on finance. His course in
this respect was unvarying. Capitalists and financiers can take care of
themselves, no matter what are the changes in the currency; but men and
women of fixed incomes, professors of colleges, teachers in schools,
clergymen and ministers, accountants and clerks in receipt of salaries,
and farmers and laborers have had their comfort increased and their
anxieties lessened by the adoption of the gold standard; and to
Cleveland, as one of the pioneers in this movement for stability, their
thanks are due.

In the railroad riots of 1894 Cleveland, under the advice of his able
Attorney-General, made a precedent in the way of interference for the
supremacy of law and the maintenance of order. The Governor of Illinois
would not preserve order, and the President determined that at all
hazards riotous acts must be suppressed and law must resume its sway. In
ordering United States troops to the scene of the disturbance without an
application of the Legislature or Governor of Illinois he accomplished a
fresh extension of executive power without an infraction of the

In his most important diplomatic action Cleveland was not so happy as in
his domestic policy. There are able men experienced in diplomacy who
defend his message of December 17, 1895, to Congress in regard to
Venezuela, and the wisdom of that action is still a mooted question. Yet
two facts placed in juxtaposition would seem to indicate that the
message was a mistake. It contained a veiled threat of war if England
would not arbitrate her difference with Venezuela, the implication being
that the stronger power was trying to browbeat the weaker one. Later an
arbitration took place, the award of which was a compromise, England
gaining more than Venezuela, and the award demonstrated that England
had not been as extreme and unjust in her claim as had been Venezuela.
It is even probable that England might have accepted, as the result of
negotiation, the line decided on by the arbitrators. But, to the credit
of Mr. Cleveland and his Secretary of State, Mr. Olney, it must be
remembered that they later negotiated a treaty "for the arbitration of
all matters in difference between the United States and Great Britain,"
which unfortunately failed of ratification by the Senate.

It is a fair charge against Cleveland as a partisan leader that, while
he led a strong following to victory in 1892, he left his party
disorganized in 1897. But it fell to him to decide between principle and
party, and he chose principle. He served his country at the expense of
his party. From the point of view of Democrats it was grievous that the
only man under whom they had secured victory since the Civil War should
leave them in a shattered condition, and it may be a question whether a
ruler of more tact could not have secured his ends without so great a
schism. Those, however, to whom this party consideration does not appeal
have no difficulty in approving Cleveland's course. It is undeniable
that his character is stamped on the presidential office, and his
occupancy of it is a distinct mark in the history of executive power.

Harrison occupied the presidential office between the two terms of
Cleveland, and although a positive man, left no particular impress upon
the office. He was noted for his excellent judicial appointments, and he
had undoubtedly a high standard of official conduct which he endeavored
to live up to. Cold in his personal bearing he did not attract friends,
and he was not popular with the prominent men in his own party. While
Cleveland and McKinley were denounced by their opponents, Harrison was
ridiculed; but the universal respect in which he was held after he
retired to private life is evidence that the great office lost no
dignity while he held it. During his term Congress overshadowed the
executive and the House was more conspicuous than the Senate. Thomas B.
Reed was speaker and developed the power of that office to an
extraordinary extent. McKinley was the leader of the House and from long
service in that body had become an efficient leader. The election of
Harrison was interpreted to mean that the country needed a higher
tariff, and McKinley carried through the House the bill which is known
by his name. Among the other Representatives Mr. Lodge was prominent. It
was not an uncommon saying at that time that the House was a better
arena for the rising politician than the Senate. In addition to the
higher tariff the country apparently wanted more silver and a determined
struggle was made for the free coinage of silver which nearly won in
Congress. In the end, however, a compromise was effected by Senator
Sherman which averted free silver but committed the country to the
purchase annually of an enormous amount of silver bullion against which
Treasury notes redeemable in coin were issued. This was the Act of 1890
which, as I have mentioned, was repealed under Cleveland in 1893. It is
entirely clear from the sequence of events that the Republican party as
a party should have opposed the purchase of more silver. It could not
have been beaten worse than it was in 1892, but it could have preserved
a consistency in principle which, when the tide turned, would have been
of political value. The party which has stuck to the right principle has
in the long run generally been rewarded with power, and as the
Republicans, in spite of certain defections, had been the party of sound
money since the Civil War, they should now have fought cheap money under
the guise of unlimited silver as they had before under the guise of
unlimited greenbacks. But the leaders thought differently, and from
their own point of view their course was natural. The country desired
more silver. Business was largely extended, overtrading was the rule.
Farmers and business men were straitened for money. Economists,
statesmen, and politicians had told them that, as their trouble had come
largely from the demonetization of silver, their relief lay in
bimetallism. It was easy to argue that the best form of bimetallism was
the free coinage of gold and silver, and after the panic of 1893 this
delusion grew, but the strength of it was hardly appreciated by
optimistic men in the East until the Democrats made it the chief plank
in the platform on which they fought the presidential campaign of 1896.
Nominating an orator who had an effective manner of presenting his
arguments to hard-working farmers whose farms were mortgaged, to
business men who were under a continued strain to meet their
obligations, and to laborers out of employment, it seemed for two or
three months as if the party of silver and discontent might carry the
day. After some hesitation the Republicans grappled with the question
boldly, took ground against free silver, and with some modification
declared their approval of the gold standard. On this issue they fought
the campaign. Their able and adroit manager was quick to see, after the
issue was joined, the force of the principle of sound money and started
a remarkable campaign of education by issuing speeches and articles by
the millions in a number of different languages, in providing excellent
arguments for the country press, and in convincing those who would
listen only to arguments of sententious brevity by a well-devised
circulation of "nuggets" of financial wisdom. McKinley had also the
support of the greater part of the Independent and Democratic press.
While financial magnates and the bankers of the country were alarmed at
the strength of the Bryan party, and felt that its defeat was necessary
to financial surety, the strength of the Republican canvass lay in the
fact that the speakers and writers who made it believed sincerely that
the gold standard would conduce to the greatest good of the greatest
number. It was an inspiring canvass. The honest advocacy of sound
principle won.

Under McKinley the Democratic tariff bill was superseded by the Dingley
act, which on dutiable articles is, I believe, the highest tariff the
country has known. The Republican party believes sincerely in the policy
of protection, and the country undoubtedly has faith in it. It is
attractive to those who allow immediate returns to obscure prospective
advantage, and if a majority decides whether or not a political and
economic doctrine is sound, it has a powerful backing, for every large
country in the civilized world, I think, except England, adheres to
protection; and some of them have returned to it after trying a measure
of commercial freedom. McKinley and the majority of Congress were in
full sympathy, and the Dingley act had the approval of the
administration. But the change in business conditions which, though long
in operation, became signally apparent after 1893, wrought in McKinley,
during his four and a half years of office, a change of opinion. Under
improved processes and economies in all branches of manufactures the
United States began to make many articles cheaper than any other
country, and sought foreign markets for its surplus, disputing
successfully certain open marts with England and Germany. In McKinley's
earlier utterances the home market is the dominating feature; in his
later ones, trade with foreign countries. In his last speech at Buffalo
he gave mature expression to his views, which for one who had been a
leader of protectionists showed him to have taken advanced ground. "We
find our long-time principles echoed," declared the _Nation_. McKinley's
manner of developing foreign trade was not that of the tariff reformers,
for he proposed to bring this about by a variety of reciprocity
treaties; but it was important that he recognized the sound economic
principle that if we are to sell to foreign countries we must buy from
them also. That McKinley had a strong hold on the country is
indisputable from the unanimous renomination by his party and his
triumphant reëlection, and it was a step toward commercial freedom that
he who more than all other men had the ear of the country and who had
been an arch-protectionist should advocate the exchange of commodities
with foreign lands. Economists do not educate the mass of voters, but
men like McKinley do, and these sentences of his were read and pondered
by millions: "A system which provides a mutual exchange of commodities
is manifestly essential to the continued and healthful growth of our
export trade. We must not repose in fancied security that we can forever
sell everything and buy little or nothing. If such a thing were possible
it would not be best for us or for those with whom we deal." It is
useless to speculate on what would have been the result had McKinley
lived. Those who considered him a weak President aver that when he
encountered opposition in Congress from interests which were seemingly
menaced, he would have yielded and abandoned reciprocity. Others believe
that he understood the question thoroughly and that his arguments would
in the end have prevailed with Congress; yielding, perhaps, in points of
detail he would have secured the adoption of the essential part of his

After his election McKinley became a believer in the gold standard and
urged proper legislation upon Congress. It is to his credit and to that
of Congress that on March 14, 1900, a bill became a law which
establishes the gold standard and puts it out of the power of any
President to place the country upon a silver basis by a simple direction
to his Secretary of the Treasury, which could have been done in 1897. As
it has turned out, it was fortunate that there was no undue haste in
this financial legislation. A better act was obtained than would have
been possible in the first two years of McKinley's administration. The
reaction from the crisis following the panic of 1893 had arrived, made
sure by the result of the election of 1896; and the prosperity had
become a telling argument in favor of the gold standard with the people
and with Congress.

McKinley was essentially adapted for a peace minister, but under him
came war. Opinions of him will differ, not only according to one's
sentiments on war and imperialism, but according to one's ideal of what
a President should be. Let us make a comparison which shall not include
Washington, for the reason that under him the country had not become the
pure democracy it is at the present day. Of such a democracy it seems to
me that Lincoln is the ideal President, in that he led public sentiment,
represented it, and followed it. "I claim not to have controlled
events," he said, "but confess plainly that events have controlled me."
During his term of office he was one day called "very weak," and the
next "a tyrant"; but when his whole work was done, a careful survey of
it could bring one only to the conclusion that he knew when to follow
and when to lead. He was in complete touch with popular sentiment, and
divined with nicety when he could take a step in advance. He made an
effort to keep on good terms with Congress, and he differed with that
body reluctantly, although, when the necessity came, decisively. While
he had consideration for those who did not agree with him, and while he
acted always with a regard to proportion, he was nevertheless a strong
and self-confident executive. Now Cleveland did not comprehend popular
opinion as did Lincoln. In him the desire to lead was paramount, to the
exclusion at times of a proper consideration for Congress and the
people. It has been said by one of his political friends that he used
the same energy and force in deciding a small matter as a great one, and
he alienated senators, congressmen, and other supporters by an
unyielding disposition when no principle was involved. He did not
possess the gracious quality of Lincoln, who yielded in small things
that he might prevail in great ones. Yet for this quality of sturdy
insistence on his own idea Cleveland has won admiration from a vast
number of independent thinkers. Temperaments such as these are not in
sympathy with McKinley, who represents another phase of Lincoln's
genius. The controlling idea of McKinley probably was that as he was
elected by the people he should represent them. He did not believe that,
if a matter were fully and fairly presented, the people would go wrong.
At times he felt he should wait for their sober, second thought, but if,
after due consideration, the people spoke, it was his duty to carry out
their will. Unquestionably if the Cleveland and McKinley qualities can
be happily combined as they were in Lincoln, the nearest possible
approach to the ideal ruler is the result. One Lincoln, though, in a
century, is all that any country can expect: and there is a place in our
polity for either the Cleveland or the McKinley type of executive. So it
seemed to the makers of the Constitution. "The republican principle,"
wrote Hamilton in the _Federalist_, "demands that the deliberate sense
of the community should govern the conduct of those to whom they intrust
the management of their affairs." "But," he said in the same essay,
"however inclined we might be to insist upon an unbounded complaisance
in the executive to the inclinations of the people, we can with no
propriety contend for a like complaisance to the humors of the
legislature.... The executive should be in a situation to dare to act
his own opinion with vigor and decision." It is frequently remarked that
no President since Lincoln had so thorough a comprehension of public
sentiment as McKinley. This knowledge and his theory of action, if I
have divined it aright, are an explanation of his course in regard to
the Spanish War and the taking of the Philippines. It does not fall to
me to discuss in this article these two questions, nor do I feel certain
that all the documents necessary to a fair judgment are accessible to
the public, but I can show what was McKinley's attitude toward them by
reporting a confidential conversation he had on May 2, 1899, with Mr.
Henry S. Pritchett, president of the Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, who made a record of it the day afterward. The President,
Mr. Pritchett relates, spoke of the "war and of his own responsibility,
and the way in which he has gradually come to have his present position
with respect to the Philippines. The talk was started by my reminding
him of the fact that just a year ago that morning, on May 2, 1898, I had
come into his room with a map of Manila and Cavité on a large scale--the
first time he had seen such a map--and from this he drifted into a most
serious and interesting talk of his own place in the history of the past
twelve months. He described his efforts to avert the war, how he had
carried the effort to the point of rupture with his party, then came the
Maine incident, and, finally, a declaration of war over all efforts to
stem the tide. Then he spoke of Cuba and Porto Rico and the Philippines,
related at some length the correspondence he had had with the Paris
Commission, how he had been gradually made to feel in his struggling for
the right ground that first Luzon and finally all the Philippines must
be kept. He then went on to indicate his belief that Providence had led
in all this matter, that to him the march of events had been so
irresistible that nothing could turn them aside. Nobody, he said, could
have tried harder than he to be rid of the burden of the Philippines,
and yet the trend of events had been such that it seemed impossible to
escape this duty. He finally came to speak with more emotion than I have
ever seen him exhibit, and no one could doubt the sincerity of the man."

Of McKinley's achievements in the field of diplomacy Secretary Hay in
his memorial address spoke with knowledge and in words of high praise.
Sometimes the expression of a careful foreign observer anticipates the
judgment of posterity, and with that view the words of the
_Spectator_,[168] in an article on the presidential election of 1900,
are worth quoting: "We believe that Mr. McKinley and the wise statesman
who is his Secretary of State, Colonel Hay, are administrators of a high
order. They have learnt their business thoroughly, hold all the strings
of policy in their hands."

Opinions will differ as to the impress McKinley has left on the
presidential office. It is the judgment of two men of large knowledge of
American history and present affairs that no President since Jefferson
has been so successful in getting Congress to adopt the positive
measures he desired.

Of the administration of Theodore Roosevelt it would be neither proper
nor wise for me to speak in other terms than those of expectation and
prophecy. But of Mr. Roosevelt himself something may be said. His birth,
breeding, education, and social advantages have been of the best. He
has led an industrious and useful life. As an American citizen we are
all proud of him, and when he reached the presidential office by a
tragedy that nobody deplored more than he, every one wished him success.
His transparent honesty and sincerity are winning qualities, and in the
opinion of Burke especially important in him who is the ruler of a
nation. "Plain good intention," he wrote, "which is as easily discovered
at the first view as fraud is surely detected at last, is, let me say,
of no mean force in the government of mankind." To these qualities, and
to a physical and moral courage that can never be questioned, Mr.
Roosevelt adds a large intelligence and, as his books show, a power of
combination of ideas and cohesive thought. Moreover, he has had a good
political training, and he has the faculty of writing his political
papers in a pregnant and forcible literary style. He is fit for what Mr.
Bryce calls "the greatest office in the world, unless we except the
Papacy." His ideals are Washington and Lincoln. "I like to see in my
mind's eye," he said, "the gaunt form of Lincoln stalking through these
halls." "To gratify the hopes, secure the reverence, and sustain the
dignity of the nation," said Justice Story, "the presidential office
should always be occupied by a man of elevated talents, of ripe virtues,
of incorruptible integrity, and of tried patriotism; one who shall
forget his own interests and remember that he represents not a party but
the whole nation." These qualities Theodore Roosevelt has. Whether he
shall in action carry out the other requirements of Justice Story may
only be judged after he shall have retired to private life.

Mr. Roosevelt merits the encouragement and sympathy of all lovers of
good government, and he is entitled, as indeed is every President, to
considerate and forbearing criticism. For, ardently desired as the
office is, it is a hard place to fill. Through the kindness of President
Roosevelt, I have been enabled to observe the daily routine of his work,
and I am free to say that from the business point of view, no man better
earns his pay than does he. Mr. Bryce remarks that a good deal of the
President's work is like that of the manager of a railway. So far as
concerns the consultation with heads of departments, prompt decisions,
and the disposition of daily matters, the comparison is apt, if a great
American railway and a manager like Thomas A. Scott are borne in mind.
But the railway manager's labor is done in comparative privacy, he can
be free from interruption and dispose of his own time in a systematic
manner. That is impossible for the President during the session of
Congress. Office-seekers themselves do not trouble the President so much
as in former days; they may be referred to the heads of the departments;
and, moreover, the introduction of competitive examinations and the
merit system has operated as a relief to the President and his Cabinet
officers. But hearing the recommendations by senators and congressmen of
their friends for offices consumes a large amount of time. There are, as
Senator Lodge has kindly informed me, 4818 presidential offices
exclusive of 4000 presidential post offices; in addition there are army
and naval officers to be appointed. The proper selection in four years
of the number of men these figures imply is in itself no small labor; it
would by a railway manager be considered an onerous and exacting
business. But the railway manager may hear the claims of applicants in
his own proper way, and to prevent encroachments on his time may give
the candidates or their friends a curt dismissal. The President may not
treat senators and representatives in that manner, nor would he desire
to do so, for the intercourse between them and the executive is of great
value. "The President," wrote John Sherman, "should 'touch elbows' with
Congress." There are important legislative measures to be discussed in a
frank interchange of opinion. Senators and representatives are a guide
to the President in their estimates of public sentiment; often they
exert an influence over him, and he is dependent on them for the
carrying out of any policy he may have at heart. While the encroachments
on the President's time are great, I am convinced that no plan should be
adopted which should curtail the unconventional and frank interchange of
views between the President and members of the National Legislature. The
relief lies with the public. Much of the President's time is taken up
with receptions of the friends of senators and representatives, of
members of conventions and learned bodies meeting in Washington, of
deputations of school-teachers and the like who have gone to the capital
for a holiday: all desire to pay their respects to the Chief Magistrate.
Undoubtedly, if he could have a quiet talk with most of these people, it
would be of value, but the conventional shaking of hands and the "I am
glad to see you" is not a satisfaction great enough to the recipients to
pay for what it costs the President in time and the expenditure of
nervous force. He should have time for deliberation. The railway manager
can closet himself when he likes: that should be the privilege of the
President; yet on a certain day last April, when he wished to have a
long confidential talk with his Secretary of War, this was only to be
contrived by the two taking a long horseback ride in the country. It is
difficult for the President to refuse to see these good, patriotic, and
learned people; and senators and representatives like to gratify their
constituents. The remedy lies with the public in denying themselves this
pleasant feature of a visit to Washington. One does not call on the
president of the Pennsylvania Railroad or the president of the New York
Central Railroad in business hours unless for business purposes; and
this should be the rule observed by citizens of the United States toward
the President. The weekly public receptions are no longer held. All
these other receptions and calls simply for shaking hands and wishing
him God-speed should no longer be asked for. For the President has
larger and more serious work than the railway manager and should have at
least as much time for thought and deliberation.

Moreover, the work of the railway manager is done in secret. Fiercer by
far than the light which beats upon the throne is that which beats upon
the White House. The people are eager to know the President's thoughts
and plans, and an insistent press endeavors to satisfy them. Considering
the conditions under which the President does his work, the wonder is
not that he makes so many mistakes, but that he makes so few. There is
no railway or business manager or college president who has not more
time to himself for the reflection necessary to the maturing of large
and correct policies. I chanced to be in the President's room when he
dictated the rough draft of his famous dispatch to General Chaffee
respecting torture in the Philippines. While he was dictating, two or
three cards were brought in, also some books with a request for the
President's autograph, and there were some other interruptions. While
the dispatch as it went out in its revised form could not be improved, a
President cannot expect to be always so happy in dictating dispatches in
the midst of distractions. Office work of far-reaching importance should
be done in the closet. Certainly no monarch or minister in Europe does
administrative work under such unfavorable conditions; indeed, this
public which exacts so much of the President's time should in all
fairness be considerate in its criticism.

No one, I think, would care to have abated the fearless political
criticism which has in this country and in England attained to the
highest point ever reached. From the nature of things the press must
comment promptly and without the full knowledge of conditions that might
alter its judgments. But on account of the necessary haste of its
expressions, the writers should avoid extravagant language and the too
ready imputation of bad motives to the public servants. "It is strange
that men cannot allow others to differ with them without charging
corruption as the cause of the difference," are the plaintive words of
Grant during a confidential conversation with his Secretary of State.

The contrast between the savage criticism of Cleveland and Harrison
while each occupied the presidential chair and the respect each enjoyed
from political opponents after retiring to private life is an effective
illustration of the lesson I should like to teach. At the time of
Harrison's death people spoke from their hearts and said, "Well done,
good and faithful servant." A fine example of political criticism in a
time of great excitement were two articles by Mr. Carl Schurz in
_Harper's Weekly_ during the Venezuela crisis. Mr. Schurz was a
supporter and political friend of Cleveland, but condemned his Venezuela
message. In the articles to which I refer he was charitable in feeling
and moderate in tone, and though at the time I heard the term
"wishy-washy" applied to one of them, I suspect that Mr. Schurz now
looks back with satisfaction to his reserve; and those of us who used
more forcible language in regard to the same incident may well wish that
we had emulated his moderation.

The presidential office differs from all other political offices in the
world, and has justified the hopes of its creators. It has not realized
their fears, one of which was expressed by Hamilton in the _Federalist_.
"A man raised from the station of a private citizen to the rank of Chief
Magistrate," he wrote, "possessed of a moderate or slender fortune, and
looking forward to a period not very remote, when he may probably be
obliged to return to the station from which he was taken, might
sometimes be under temptations to sacrifice his duty to his interest,
which it would require superlative virtue to withstand. An avaricious
man might be tempted to betray the interests of the state to the
acquisition of wealth. An ambitious man might make his own
aggrandizement, by the aid of a foreign power, the price of his
treachery to his constituents."[169] From dangers of this sort the
political virtue which we inherited from our English ancestors has
preserved us. We may fairly maintain that the creation and
administration of our presidential office have added something to
political history, and when we contrast in character and ability the men
who have filled it with the monarchs of England and of France, we may
have a feeling of just pride. Mr. Bryce makes a suggestive comparison in
ability of our Presidents to the prime ministers of England, awarding
the palm to the Englishmen,[170] and from his large knowledge of both
countries and impartial judgment we may readily accept his conclusion.
It is, however, a merit of our Constitution that as great ability is not
required for its chief executive office as is demanded in England. The
prime minister must have a talent for both administration and debate,
which is a rare combination of powers, and if he be chosen from the
House of Commons, it may happen that too much stress will be laid upon
oratory, or the power of making ready replies to the attacks of the
opposition. It is impossible to conceive of Washington defending his
policy in the House or the Senate from a fire of questions and
cross-questions. Lincoln might have developed this quality of a prime
minister, but his replies and sallies of wit to put to confusion his
opponents would have lacked the dignity his state papers and
confidential letters possess. Hayes and Cleveland were excellent
administrators, but neither could have reached his high position had the
debating ability of a prime minister been required. On the other hand,
Garfield, Harrison, and McKinley would have been effective speakers in
either the House or the Senate.

An American may judge his own country best from European soil,
impregnated as he there is with European ideas. Twice have I been in
Europe during Cleveland's administration, twice during McKinley's, once
during Roosevelt's. During the natural process of comparison, when one
must recognize in many things the distinct superiority of England,
Germany, and France, I have never had a feeling other than high respect
for each one of these Presidents; and taking it by and large, in the
endeavor to consider fairly the hits and misses of all, I have never had
any reason to feel that the conduct of our national government has been
inferior to that of any one of these highly civilized powers.

  [164] Henry Adams, II, 113.

  [165] _Ibid._, 130.

  [166] Sumner's Jackson, 138.

  [167] Twenty Years of Congress, II, 185.

  [168] July 14, 1900.

  [169] See also the _Federalist_ (Lodge's edition), 452. Bryce,
        Studies in History and Jurisprudence, 308.

  [170] American Commonwealth, I, 80.


Address delivered at the annual meeting of the Graduate School of Arts
and Sciences, and the Graduate Schools of Applied Science and Business
Administration, Harvard University, on October 8, 1908; printed in the
_Century Magazine_ for October, 1909.


Many of our Presidents have been inaugurated under curious and trying
circumstances, but no one of them except Hayes has taken the oath of
office when there was a cloud on his title. Every man who had voted for
Tilden,--whose popular vote exceeded that of Hayes by 264,000,--believed
that Hayes had reached his high place by means of fraud. Indeed, some of
the Hayes voters shared this belief, and stigmatized as monstrous the
action of the Louisiana returning board in awarding the electoral vote
of Louisiana to Hayes. The four men, three of them dishonest and the
fourth incompetent, who constituted this returning board, rejected, on
the ground of intimidation of negro voters, eleven thousand votes that
had been cast in due form for Tilden. In the seventh volume of my
history I have told the story of the compromise in the form of the
Electoral Commission which passed on the conflicting claims and adjudged
the votes of the disputed states, notably Florida and Louisiana, to
Hayes, giving him a majority of one in the electoral college, thus
making him President. When the count was completed and the usual
declaration made, Hayes had no choice but to abide by the decision. Duty
to his country and to his party, the Republican, required his acceptance
of the office, and there is no reason for thinking that he had any
doubts regarding his proper course. His legal title was perfect, but his
moral title was unsound, and it added to the difficulty of his situation
that the opposition, the Democrats, had a majority in the House of
Representatives. None but a determined optimist could have predicted
anything but failure for an administration beginning under such

Hayes was an Ohio man, and we in Ohio now watched his successive steps
with keen interest. We knew him as a man of high character, with a fine
sense of honor, but we placed no great faith in his ability. He had
added to his reputation by the political campaign that he had made for
governor, in 1875, against the Democrats under William Allen, who
demanded an inflation of the greenback currency. He took an
uncompromising stand for sound money, although that cause was unpopular
in Ohio, and he spoke from the stump unremittingly and fearlessly,
although overshadowed by the greater ability and power of expression of
Senator Sherman and of Carl Schurz, who did yeoman's service for the
Republicans in this campaign. Senator Sherman had suggested Hayes as
candidate for President, and the nomination by the Republican national
convention had come to him in June, 1876. While his letter of acceptance
may not have surprised his intimate friends, it was a revelation to most
of us from its outspoken and common-sense advocacy of civil service
reform, and it gave us the first glimmering that in Rutherford B. Hayes
the Republicans had for standard bearer a man of more than respectable

His inaugural address confirmed this impression. He spoke with dignity
and sympathy of the disputed Presidency, promised a liberal policy
toward the Southern states, and declared that a reform in our civil
service was a "paramount necessity." He chose for his Cabinet men in
sympathy with his high ideals. William M. Evarts, the Secretary of
State, was one of the ablest lawyers in the country. He had been one of
the leading counsel in the defense of President Johnson in the
impeachment trial, and had managed the Republican cause before the
Electoral Commission with adroitness and zeal. John Sherman, the
Secretary of the Treasury, was the most capable financier in public
life. Carl Schurz, the Secretary of the Interior, was an aggressive and
uncompromising reformer, who had served the Republican party well in the
campaigns of 1875 and 1876. If these three men could work together under
Hayes, the United States need envy the governors of no other country.
They were in the brilliant but solid class, were abreast of the best
thought of their time, had a solemn sense of duty, and believed in
righteous government. Devens, the Attorney-General, had served with
credit in the army and had held the honorable position of Justice of the
Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts. Thompson of Indiana, Secretary
of the Navy, was a political appointment due to the influence of Senator
Morton, but, all things considered, it was not a bad choice. McCrary of
Iowa, as Secretary of War, had been a useful member of the House of
Representatives. The Postmaster-General was Key of Tennessee, who had
served in the Confederate army and voted for Tilden. This appointment
was not so genuine a recognition of the South as would have been made if
Hayes could have carried out his first intention, which was the
appointment of General Joseph E. Johnston as Secretary of War.
Considering that Johnston had surrendered the second great army of the
Confederacy only twelve years before, the thought was possible only to a
magnanimous nature, and in the inner circle of Hayes's counselors
obvious and grave objections were urged. General Sherman doubted the
wisdom of the proposed appointment, although he said that as General of
the army he would be entirely content to receive the President's orders
through his old antagonist. Although the appointment of Johnston would
have added strength, the Cabinet as finally made up was strong, and the
selection of such advisers created a favorable impression upon the
intelligent sentiment of the country; it was spoken of as the ablest
Cabinet since Washington's.

A wise inaugural address and an able Cabinet made a good beginning, but
before the harmonious coöperation of these extraordinary men could be
developed a weighty question, which brooked no delay, had to be settled.
The Stevens-Sumner plan of the reconstruction of the South on the basis
of universal negro suffrage and military support of the governments thus
constituted had failed. One by one in various ways the Southern states
had recovered home rule until, on the inauguration of Hayes, carpet-bag
negro governments existed in only two states, South Carolina and
Louisiana. In both of these the Democrats maintained that their
candidates for governor had been lawfully elected. The case of South
Carolina presented no serious difficulty. Hayes electors had been
rightfully chosen, and so had the Democratic governor, Hampton. But
Chamberlain, the Republican candidate, had a claim based on the
exclusion of the votes of two counties by the board of state canvassers.
After conferences between each of the claimants and the President, the
question was settled in favor of the Democrat, which was the meaning of
the withdrawal of the United States troops from the State House in

The case of Louisiana was much more troublesome. Packard, the Republican
candidate for governor, had received as many votes as Hayes, and logic
seemed to require that, if Hayes be President, Packard should be
governor. While the question was pending, Blaine said in the Senate:
"You discredit Packard, and you discredit Hayes. You hold that Packard
is not the legal governor of Louisiana, and President Hayes has no
title." And the other leaders of the Republican party, for the most
part, held this view. To these and their followers Blaine applied the
name "Stalwarts," stiff partisans, who did not believe in surrendering
the hold of the Republicans on the Southern states.

Between the policies of a continuance of the support of the Republican
party in Louisiana or its withdrawal, a weak man would have allowed
things to drift, while a strong man of the Conkling and Chandler type
would have sustained the Packard government with the whole force at his
command. Hayes acted slowly and cautiously, asked for and received much
good counsel, and in the end determined to withdraw the United States
troops from the immediate vicinity of the State House in Louisiana. The
Packard government fell, and the Democrats took possession. The lawyers
could furnish cogent reasons why Packard was not entitled to the
governorship, although the electoral vote of Louisiana had been counted
for Hayes; but the Stalwarts maintained that no legal quibble could
varnish over so glaring an inconsistency. Indeed, it was one of those
illogical acts, so numerous in English and American history, that
resolve difficulties, when a rigid adherence to logic would tend to
foment trouble.

The inaugural address and the distinctively reform Cabinet did not suit
the party workers, and when the President declined to sustain the
Packard government in Louisiana, disapproval was succeeded by rage. In
six weeks after his inauguration Hayes was without a party; that is to
say, the men who carried on the organization were bitterly opposed to
his policy, and they made much more noise than the independent thinking
voters who believed that a man had arisen after their own hearts. Except
from the Southern wing, he received little sympathy from the Democratic
party. In their parlance, fraud was written on his brow. He had the
honor and perquisites of office which were rightfully theirs.

Once the troops were withdrawn from South Carolina and Louisiana, no
backward step was possible, and although Hayes would have liked
congressional support and sympathy for his act, this was not necessary.
The next most important question of his administration related to
finance. He and his Secretary of the Treasury would have been gratified
by an obedient majority in Congress at their back. Presidents before and
after Hayes have made a greater or less employment of their patronage to
secure the passage of their favorite measures, but Hayes immediately
relinquished that power by taking a decided position for a civil service
based on merit. In a little over a month after the withdrawal of the
troops from the immediate vicinity of the State House in Louisiana, he
announced his policy in a letter to his Secretary of the Treasury. "It
is my wish," he wrote, "that the collection of the revenues should be
free from partisan control, and organized on a strictly business basis,
with the same guaranties for efficiency and fidelity in the selection of
the chief and subordinate officers that would be required by a prudent
merchant. Party leaders should have no more influence in appointments
than other equally respectable citizens. No assessments for political
purposes on officers or subordinates should be allowed. No useless
officer or employee should be retained. No officer should be required or
permitted to take part in the management of political organizations,
caucuses, conventions, or election campaigns." The mandatory parts of
this letter he incorporated in an order to Federal office-holders,
adding: "This rule is applicable to every department of the civil
service. It should be understood by every officer of the general
government that he is expected to conform his conduct to its

It must be a source of gratification to the alumni and faculty of
Harvard College that its president and governing boards were, in June,
1877, in the judicious minority, and recognized their appreciation of
Hayes by conferring upon him its highest honorary degree. Schurz, who
had received his LL.D. the year before, accompanied Hayes to Cambridge,
and, in his Harvard speech at Commencement, gave his forcible and
sympathetic approval of the "famous order of the President," as it had
now come to be called.

A liberal and just Southern policy, the beginning of a genuine reform in
the civil service and the resumption of specie payments, are measures
which distinguish and glorify President Hayes's administration, but in
July, 1877, public attention was diverted from all these by a movement
which partook of the nature of a social uprising. The depression
following the panic of 1873 had been widespread and severe. The slight
revival of business resulting from the Centennial Exposition of 1876 and
the consequent large passenger traffic had been succeeded by a reaction
in 1877 that brought business men to the verge of despair. Failures of
merchants and manufacturers, stoppage of factories, diminished traffic
on the railroads, railroad bankruptcies and receiverships, threw a
multitude of laborers out of employment; and those fortunate enough to
retain their jobs were less steadily employed, and were subject to
reductions in wages.

The state of railroad transportation was deplorable. The competition of
the trunk lines, as the railroads running from Chicago to the seaboard
were called, was sharp, and, as there was not business enough for all,
the cutting of through freight rates caused such business to be done at
an actual loss, while the through passenger transportation afforded
little profit. Any freight agent knew the remedy: an increase of freight
rates by agreement or through a system of pooling earnings. Agreements
were made, but not honestly kept, and, after a breach of faith, the
fight was renewed with increased fury. As the railroad managers thought
that they could not increase their gross earnings, they resolved on
decreasing their expenses, and somewhat hastily and jauntily they
announced a reduction of ten per cent in the wages of their employees.

This was resisted. Trouble first began on the Baltimore and Ohio
Railroad, where the men not only struck against the reduction, but
prevented other men from taking their places, and stopped by force the
running of trains. The militia of West Virginia was inadequate to cope
with the situation, and the governor of that state called on the
President for troops, which were sent with a beneficial effect. But the
trouble spread to Maryland, and a conflict in Baltimore between the
militia and rioters in sympathy with the strikers resulted in a number
of killed and wounded. The next day, Saturday, July 21, a riot in
Pittsburg caused the most profound sensation in the country since the
draft riots of the Civil War. The men on the Pennsylvania and the
Pittsburg, Fort Wayne and Chicago railroads, had struck, and all freight
traffic was arrested. On this day six hundred and fifty men of the first
division of the Pennsylvania national guard at Philadelphia arrived in
Pittsburg, and, in the attempt to clear the Twenty-eighth Street
crossing, they replied to the missiles thrown at them by the mob with
volleys of musketry, killing instantly sixteen of the rioters and
wounding many.

Here was cause for exasperation, and a furious mob, composed of
strikers, idle factory hands, and miners, tramps, communists, and
outcasts, began its work of vengeance and plunder. Possessed of
firearms, through breaking into a number of gun shops, they attacked the
Philadelphia soldiers, who had withdrawn to the railroad roundhouse, and
a fierce battle ensued. Unable to dislodge the soldiers by assault, the
rioters attempted to roast them out by setting fire to cars of coke
saturated with petroleum and pushing these down the track against the
roundhouse. This eventually forced the soldiers to leave the building,
but, though pursued by the rioters, they made a good retreat across the
Allegheny River. The mob, completely beyond control, began the
destruction of railroad property. The torch was applied to two
roundhouses, to railroad sheds, shops and offices, cars and locomotives.
Barrels of spirits, taken from the freight cars, and opened and drunk,
made demons of the men, and the work of plunder and destruction of goods
in transit went on with renewed fury.

That Saturday night Pittsburg witnessed a reign of terror. On Sunday the
rioting and pillage were continued, and in the afternoon the Union Depot
and Railroad Hotel and an elevator near by were burned. Then as the
rioters were satiated and too drunk to be longer dangerous, the riot
died out: it was not checked. On Monday, through the action of the
authorities, armed companies of law-abiding citizens, and some faithful
companies of the militia, order was restored. But meanwhile the strike
had spread to a large number of other railroads between the seaboard and
Chicago and St. Louis. Freight traffic was entirely suspended, and
passenger trains were run only on sufferance of the strikers. Business
was paralyzed, and the condition of disorganization and unrest continued
throughout the month of July. The governors of West Virginia, Maryland,
Pennsylvania, and Illinois called upon the President for United States
troops, which were promptly sent, and in Indiana and Missouri they were
employed on the demand of the United States marshals. Where the regular
soldiers appeared order was at once restored without bloodshed, and it
was said that the rioters feared one Federal bayonet more than a whole
company of militia. The gravity of the situation is attested by three
proclamations of warning from President Hayes.

Strikes had been common in our country, and, while serious enough in
certain localities, had aroused no general concern, but the action of
the mob in Baltimore, Pittsburg, and Chicago seemed like an attack on
society itself, and it came like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky,
startling Americans, who had hugged the delusion that such social
uprisings belonged to Europe, and had no reason of being in a great,
free republic where all men had an equal chance. The railroad managers
had no idea that they were letting loose a slumbering giant when their
edict of a ten per cent reduction went forth. It was due to the prompt
and efficient action of the President that order was ultimately
restored. In the profound and earnest thinking and discussion that went
on during the rest of the year, whenever thoughtful men gathered
together, many a grateful word was said of the quiet, unassuming man in
the White House who saw clearly his duty and never faltered in pursuing
it. It was seen that the Federal government, with a resolute President
at its head, was a tower of strength in the event of a social uprising.

In the reform of the civil service Hayes proceeded from words to action.
He reappointed Thomas L. James as postmaster of New York City, who had
conducted his office on a thorough business basis, and gave him
sympathetic support. The New York Custom-house had long been a political
machine in which the interests of politicians had been more considered
than those of the public it was supposed to serve. The President began
an investigation of it through an impartial commission, and he and
Sherman came to the conclusion that the renovation desired, in line with
his letter to the Secretary of the Treasury and his order to the
Federal officers, could not be effected so long as the present
collector, Chester A. Arthur, and the naval officer, A. B. Cornell,
remained in office. Courteous intimations were sent to them that their
resignations were desired on the ground that new officers could better
carry out the reform which the President had at heart. Arthur and
Cornell, under the influence of Senator Conkling, refused to resign, and
a plain issue was made between the President and the New York senator.
At the special session of Congress, in October, 1877, he sent to the
Senate nominations of new men for these places, but the power of
Conkling, working through the "courtesy of the Senate," was sufficient
to procure their rejection; and this was also the result when the same
nominations were made in December.

In July, 1878, after the adjournment of Congress, Hayes removed Arthur
and Cornell, and appointed Merritt and Burt in their places. During the
following December these appointments came before the Senate for
confirmation. Sherman decided to resign if they were rejected, and he
made a strong personal appeal to Senators Allison, Windom, and Morrill
that they should not permit "the insane hate of Conkling" to override
the good of the service and the party. A seven hours' struggle ensued in
the Senate, but Merritt and Burt were confirmed by a decisive majority.
After the confirmation, Hayes wrote to Merritt: "My desire is that the
office be conducted on strictly business principles and according to the
rules for the civil service which were recommended by the Civil Service
Commission in the administration of General Grant."

In three of his annual messages, Hayes presented strong arguments for a
reform in the civil service, and he begged Congress, without avail, to
make appropriations to sustain the Civil Service Commission. He
sympathized with and supported Schurz in his introduction into the
Interior Department of competitive examinations for appointments and
promotions, and he himself extended that system to the custom-houses and
post-offices of the larger cities.

All that was accomplished in this direction was due to his efforts and
those of his Cabinet. He received neither sympathy nor help from
Congress; indeed, he met with great opposition from his own party. A
picture not without humor is Hayes reading, as his justification, to the
Republican remonstrants against his policy of appointments the strong
declaration for a civil service based on merit in the Republican
platform, on which he had stood as candidate for President. Though his
preaching did not secure the needed legislation from Congress, it
produced a marked effect on public sentiment.

The organization of civil service reform associations began under Hayes.
The New York association was begun in 1877, reorganized three years
later, and soon had a large national membership, which induced the
formation of other state associations; and although the national civil
service reform league was not formed until after his term of office
expired, the origin of the society may be safely referred to his
influence. In the melioration of the public service which has been so
conspicuously in operation since 1877, Hayes must be rated the pioneer
President. Some of Grant's efforts in this direction were well meant,
but he had no fundamental appreciation of the importance of the question
or enthusiasm for the work, and, in a general way, it may be said that
he left the civil service in a demoralized condition. How pregnant was
Hayes's remark in his last annual message, and what a text it has been
for many homilies! "My views," he wrote, "concerning the dangers of
patronage or appointments for personal or partisan considerations have
been strengthened by my observation and experience in the executive
office, and I believe these dangers threaten the stability of the

The brightest page in the history of the Republican party since the
Civil War tells of its work in the cause of sound finance, and no
administration is more noteworthy than that of Hayes. Here again the
work was done by the President and his Cabinet in the face of a
determined opposition in Congress. During the first two years of his
administration, the Democrats had a majority in the House, and during
the last two a majority in both the House and the Senate. The Republican
party was sounder than the Democratic on the resumption of specie
payments and in the advocacy of a correct money standard, but Hayes had
by no means all of his own party at his back. Enough Republicans,
however, were of his way of thinking to prevent an irremediable
inflation of either greenbacks or silver.

The credit for what was accomplished in finance belongs in the main to
John Sherman, a great financier and consummate statesman; but he had the
constant sympathy and support of the President. It was their custom to
take long drives together every Sunday afternoon and discuss
systematically and thoroughly the affairs of the Treasury and the
official functions of the President. No President ever had a better
counselor than Sherman, no Secretary of the Treasury more sympathetic
and earnest support than was given by Hayes. Sherman refunded 845
millions of the public debt at a lower rate of interest, showing in his
negotiations with bankers a remarkable combination of business and
political ability. Cool, watchful, and confident, he grasped the point
of view of New York and London financial syndicates, and to that
interested and somewhat narrow vision he joined the intelligence and
foresight of a statesman. Sherman brought about the resumption of
specie payments on the 1st of January, 1879, the date fixed in the bill
of which he was the chief author and which, four years before, he had
carried through the Senate. It was once the fashion of his opponents to
discredit his work, and, emphasizing the large crop of 1878 and the
European demand for our breadstuffs, to declare that resumption was
brought about by Providence and not by John Sherman. No historian of
American finance can fail to see how important is the part often played
by bountiful nature, but it is to the lasting merit of Sherman and Hayes
that, in the dark years of 1877 and 1878, with cool heads and unshaken
faith, they kept the country in the path of financial safety and honor
despite bitter opposition and clamorous abuse.

These two years formed a part of my own business career, and I can add
my vivid recollection to my present study of the period. As values
steadily declined and losses rather than profits in business became the
rule, the depression and even despair of business men and manufacturers
can hardly be exaggerated. The daily list of failures and bankruptcies
was appalling. How often one heard that iron and coal and land were
worth too little and money too much, that only the bondholder could be
happy, for his interest was sure and the purchasing power of his money
great! In August, 1878, when John Sherman went to Toledo to speak to a
gathering three thousand strong, he was greeted with such cries as, "You
are responsible for all the failures in the country"; "You work to the
interest of the capitalist"; "Capitalists own you, John Sherman, and you
rob the poor widows and orphans to make them rich."

By many the resumption of specie payments was deemed impossible. The
most charitable of Sherman's opponents looked upon him as an honest but
visionary enthusiast who would fail in his policy and be "the deadest
man politically" in the country. Others deemed resumption possible only
by driving to the wall a majority of active business men. It was this
sentiment which gave strength to the majority in the House of
Representatives, which was opposed to any contraction of the greenback
currency and in favor of the free coinage of silver, and of making it
likewise a full legal tender. Most of these members of Congress were
sincere, and thought that they were asking no more than justice for the
trader, the manufacturer, and the laborer. The "Ohio idea" was
originally associated with an inflation of the paper currency, but by
extension it came to mean an abundance of cheap money, whether paper or
silver. Proposed legislation, with this as its aim, was very popular in
Ohio, but, despite the intense feeling against the President's and
Secretary's policy in their own state and generally throughout the West,
Hayes and Sherman maintained it consistently, and finally brought about
the resumption of specie payments.

In their way of meeting the insistent demand for the remonetization of
silver Hayes and Sherman differed. In November, 1877, the House of
Representatives, under a suspension of the rules, passed by a vote of
163 to 34 a bill for the free coinage of the 412½ grain silver dollar,
making that dollar likewise a legal tender for all debts and dues. The
Senate was still Republican, but the Republican senators were by no
means unanimous for the gold standard. Sherman became convinced that,
although the free-silver bill could not pass the Senate, something must
nevertheless be done for silver, and, in coöperation with Senator
Allison, he was instrumental in the adoption of the compromise which
finally became law. This remonetized silver, providing for the purchase
of not less than two million dollars' worth of silver bullion per month,
nor more than four millions, and for its coinage into 412½ grain silver
dollars. Hayes vetoed this bill, sending a sound and manly message to
the House of Representatives; but Congress passed it over his veto by a
decided majority.

The regard for John Sherman's ability in Ohio was unbounded, and it was
generally supposed that in all financial affairs, as well as in many
others, he dominated Hayes. I shared that opinion until I learned
indirectly from John Hay, who was first assistant Secretary of State and
intimate in inner administration circles, that this was not true; that
Hayes had decided opinions of his own and did not hesitate to differ
with his Secretary of the Treasury. Nevertheless, not until John
Sherman's "Recollections" were published was it generally known, I
believe, that Sherman had a share in the Allison compromise, and did not
approve of the President's veto of the bill remonetizing silver.

The Federal control of congressional and presidential elections, being a
part of the Reconstruction legislation, was obnoxious to the Democrats,
and they attempted to abrogate it by "riders" attached to several
appropriation bills, especially that providing for the army. While the
Senate remained Republican, there was chance for an accommodation
between the President and the Senate on one side and the House on the
other. Two useful compromises were made, the Democrats yielding in one
case, the Republicans in the other. But in 1879, when both the House and
the Senate were Democratic, a sharp contest began between Congress and
the executive, the history of which is written in seven veto messages.
For lack of appropriations to carry on the government, the President
called an extra session of Congress in the first year of his
administration and another in 1879, which was a remarkable record of
extra sessions in a time of peace. The Democratic House passed a
resolution for the appointment of a committee to investigate Hayes's
title and aroused some alarm lest an effort might be made "to oust
President Hayes and inaugurate Tilden." Although this alarm was stilled
less than a month later by a decisive vote of the House, the action and
investigation were somewhat disquieting.

Thus Hayes encountered sharp opposition from the Democrats, who
frequently pointed their arguments by declaring that he held his place
by means of fraud. He received sympathy from hardly any of the leaders
of his own party in Congress, and met with open condemnation from the
Stalwarts; yet he pursued his course with steadiness and equanimity, and
was happy in his office. His serene amiability and hopefulness,
especially in regard to affairs in the Southern states, were a source of
irritation to the Stalwarts; but it was the serenity of a man who felt
himself fully equal to his responsibilities.

In his inaugural address, Hayes contributed an addition to our political
idiom, "He serves his party best who serves the country best." His
administration was a striking illustration of this maxim. When he became
President, the Republican party was in a demoralized condition, but,
despite the factional criticism to which he was subject, he gained in
the first few months of his Presidency the approval of men of
intelligence and independent thought, and, as success attended his
different policies, he received the support of the masses. The signal
Republican triumph in the presidential election of 1880 was due to the
improvement in business conditions and to the clean and efficient
administration of Hayes.

In recalling his predecessor in office, we think more gladly of the
Grant of Donelson, Vicksburg, and Appomattox than of Grant the
President, for during his two administrations corruption was rife and
bad government to the fore. Financial scandals were so frequent that
despairing patriots cried out, "Is there no longer honesty in public
life?" Our country then reached the high-water mark of corruption in
national affairs. A striking improvement began under Hayes, who infused
into the public service his own high ideals of honesty and efficiency.
Hayes was much assisted in his social duties by his wife, a woman of
character and intelligence, who carried herself with grace and dignity.
One sometimes heard the remark that as Hayes was ruled in political
matters by John Sherman, so in social affairs he was ruled by his wife.
The sole foundation for this lay in his deference to her total
abstinence principles, which she held so strongly as to exclude wine
from the White House table except, I believe, at one official dinner,
that to the Russian Grand Dukes.

Hayes's able Cabinet was likewise a harmonious one. Its members were
accustomed to dine together at regular intervals (fortnightly, I think),
when affairs of state and other subjects were discussed, and the
geniality of these occasions was enhanced by a temperate circulation of
the wine bottle. There must have been very good talk at these social
meetings. Evarts and Schurz were citizens of the world. Evarts was a man
of keen intelligence and wide information, and possessed a genial as
well as a caustic wit. Schurz could discuss present politics and past
history. He was well versed in European history of the eighteenth
century and the Napoleonic wars, and could talk about the power of
Voltaire in literature and the influence of Lessing on Goethe. From
appreciative discourse on the Wagner opera and the French drama, he
could, if the conversation turned to the Civil War, give a lively
account of the battles of Chancellorsville or Gettysburg, in both of
which he had borne an honorable part. Sherman was not a cosmopolitan
like his two colleagues, but he loved dining out. His manners were those
of the old-school gentleman; he could listen with genial appreciation,
and he could talk of events in American history of which he had been a
contemporaneous observer; as, for example, of the impressive oratory of
Daniel Webster at a dinner in Plymouth; or the difference between the
national conventions of his early political life and the huge ones of
the present, illustrating his comparison with an account of the Whig
convention of 1852, to which he went as a delegate.

Differing in many respects, Hayes and Grover Cleveland were alike in the
possession of executive ability and the lack of oratorical. We all know
that it is a purely academic question which is the better form of
government, the English or our own, as both have grown up to adapt
themselves to peculiar conditions. But when I hear an enthusiast for
Cabinet government and ministerial responsibility, I like to point out
that men like Hayes and Cleveland, who made excellent Presidents, could
never have been prime ministers. One cannot conceive of either in an
office equivalent to that of First Lord of the Treasury, being heckled
by members on the front opposition bench and holding his own or getting
the better of his opponents.

I have brought Hayes and Cleveland into juxtaposition, as each had a
high personal regard for the other. Hayes died on January 17, 1893.
Cleveland, the President-elect, was to be inaugurated on the following
fourth of March. Despite remonstrance and criticism from bitter
partisans of his own party, who deprecated any honor paid to one whom
all good Democrats deemed a fraudulent President, Cleveland traveled
from New York to Fremont, Ohio, to attend the funeral. He could only
think of Hayes as an ex-President and a man whom he highly esteemed.


Lecture read at Harvard University, April 13, 1908; printed in the
_Atlantic Monthly_ for September, 1908.


Our two great journalists of the nineteenth century were Greeley and
Godkin. Though differing in very many respects, they were alike in
possessing a definite moral purpose. The most glorious and influential
portion of Greeley's career lay between the passage of the
Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 and the election of Lincoln in 1860, when
the press played an important part in the upbuilding of a political
party which formulated in a practical manner the antislavery sentiment
of the country. Foremost among newspapers was the _New York Tribune_;
foremost among editors was Horace Greeley. Of Greeley in his best days
Godkin wrote: "He has an enthusiasm which never flags, and a faith in
principles which nothing can shake, and an English style which, for
vigor, terseness, clearness, and simplicity, has never been surpassed,
except perhaps by Cobbett."[171]

Greeley and Godkin were alike in furnishing their readers with telling
arguments. In northern New York and the Western Reserve of Ohio the
_Weekly Tribune_ was a political Bible. "Why do you look so gloomy?"
said a traveler, riding along the highway in the Western Reserve during
the old antislavery days, to a farmer who was sitting moodily on a
fence. "Because," replied the farmer, "my Democratic friend next door
got the best of me in an argument last night. But when I get my _Weekly
Tribune_ to-morrow I'll knock the foundations all out from under

Premising that Godkin is as closely identified with _The Nation_ and the
_Evening Post_ as Greeley with the _Tribune_, I shall refer to a
personal experience. Passing a part of the winter of 1886 in a hotel at
Thomasville, Georgia, it chanced that among the hundred or more guests
there were eight or ten of us who regularly received _The Nation_ by
post. Ordinarily it arrived on the Friday noon train from Savannah, and
when we came from our mid-day dinner into the hotel office, there, in
our respective boxes, easily seen, and from their peculiar form
recognized by every one, were our copies of _The Nation_. Occasionally
the papers missed connection at Savannah, and our _Nations_ did not
arrive until after supper. It used to be said by certain scoffers that
if a discussion of political questions came up in the afternoon of one
of those days of disappointment, we readers were mum; but in the late
evening, after having digested our political pabulum, we were ready to
join issue with any antagonist. Indeed, each of us might have used the
words of James Russell Lowell, written while he was traveling on the
Continent and visiting many places where _The Nation_ could not be
bought: "All the time I was without it, my mind was chaos and I didn't
feel that I had a safe opinion to swear by."[173]

While the farmer of the Western Reserve and Lowell are extreme types of
clientèle, each represents fairly well the peculiar following of Greeley
and of Godkin, which differed as much as did the personal traits of the
two journalists. Godkin speaks of Greeley's "odd attire, shambling gait,
simple, good-natured and hopelessly peaceable face, and long yellow
locks."[174] His "old white hat and white coat," which in New York were
regarded as an affectation, counted with his following west of the
Hudson River as a winning eccentricity. When he came out upon the
lecture platform with crumpled shirt, cravat awry, and wrinkled coat
looking as if he had traveled for a number of nights and days, such
disorder appeared to many of his Western audiences as nothing worse than
the mark of a very busy man, who had paid them the compliment of
leaving his editorial rooms to speak to them in person, and who had
their full sympathy as he thus opened his discourse, "You mustn't, my
friends, expect fine words from a rough busy man like me."[175]

The people who read the _Tribune_ did not expect fine words; they were
used to the coarse, abusive language in which Greeley repelled attacks,
and to his giving the lie with heartiness and vehemence. They enjoyed
reading that "another lie was nailed to the counter," and that an
antagonist "was a liar, knowing himself to be a liar, and lying with
naked intent to deceive."[176]

On the contrary, the dress, the face, and the personal bearing of Godkin
proclaimed at once the gentleman and cultivated man of the world. You
felt that he was a man whom you would like to meet at dinner, accompany
on a long walk, or cross the Atlantic with, were you an acquaintance or

An incident related by Godkin himself shows that at least one
distinguished gentleman did not enjoy sitting at meat with Greeley.
During the spring of 1864 Godkin met Greeley at breakfast at the house
of Mr. John A. C. Gray. William Cullen Bryant, at that time editor of
the New York _Evening Post_, was one of the guests, and, when Greeley
entered the room, was standing near the fireplace conversing with his
host. On observing that Bryant did not speak to Greeley, Gray asked him
in a whisper, "Don't you know Mr. Greeley?" In a loud whisper Bryant
replied, "No, I don't; he's a blackguard--he's a blackguard."[177]

In the numbers of people whom he influenced, Greeley had the advantage
over Godkin. In February, 1855, the circulation of the _Tribune_ was
172,000, and its own estimate of its readers half a million, which was
certainly not excessive. It is not a consideration beyond bounds to
infer that the readers of the _Tribune_ in 1860 furnished a goodly part
of the 1,866,000 votes which were received by Lincoln.

At different times, while Godkin was editor, _The Nation_ stated its
exact circulation, which, as I remember it, was about 10,000, and it
probably had 50,000 readers. As many of its readers were in the class of
Lowell, its indirect influence was immense. Emerson said that _The
Nation_ had "breadth, variety, self-sustainment, and an admirable style
of thought and expression."--"I owe much to _The Nation_," wrote Francis
Parkman. "I regard it as the most valuable of American journals, and
feel that the best interests of the country are doubly involved in its
success."--"What an influence you have!" said George William Curtis to
Godkin. "What a sanitary element in our affairs _The Nation_ is!"--"To
my generation," wrote William James, "Godkin's was certainly the
towering influence in all thought concerning public affairs, and
indirectly his influence has certainly been more pervasive than that of
any other writer of the generation, for he influenced other writers who
never quoted him, and determined the whole current of
discussion."--"When the work of this century is summed up," wrote
Charles Eliot Norton to Godkin, "what you have done for the good old
cause of civilization, the cause which is always defeated, but always
after defeat taking more advanced position than before--what you have
done for this cause will count for much."--"I am conscious," wrote
President Eliot to Godkin, "that _The Nation_ has had a decided effect
on my opinions and my action for nearly forty years; and I believe it
has had like effect on thousands of educated Americans."[178]

A string of quotations, as is well known, becomes wearisome; but the
importance of the point that I am trying to make will probably justify
one more. "I find myself so thoroughly agreeing with _The Nation_
always," wrote Lowell, "that I am half persuaded that I edit it
myself!"[179] Truly Lowell had a good company: Emerson, Parkman, Curtis,
Norton, James, Eliot,--all teachers in various ways. Through their
lectures, books, and speeches, they influenced college students at an
impressible age; they appealed to young and to middle-aged men; and they
furnished comfort and entertainment for the old. It would have been
difficult to find anywhere in the country an educated man whose thought
was not affected by some one of these seven; and their influence on
editorial writers for newspapers was remarkable. These seven were all
taught by Godkin.

"Every Friday morning when _The Nation_ comes," wrote Lowell to Godkin,
"I fill my pipe, and read it from beginning to end. Do you do it all
yourself? Or are there really so many clever men in the country?"[180]
Lowell's experience, with or without tobacco, was undoubtedly that of
hundreds, perhaps of thousands, of educated men, and the query he raised
was not an uncommon one. At one time, Godkin, I believe, wrote most of
"The Week," which was made up of brief and pungent comments on events,
as well as the principal editorial articles. The power of iteration,
which the journalist possesses, is great, and, when that power is
wielded by a man of keen intelligence and wide information, possessing a
knowledge of the world, a sense of humor, and an effective literary
style, it becomes tremendous. The only escape from Godkin's iteration
was one frequently tried, and that was, to stop _The Nation_.

Although Godkin published three volumes of Essays, the honors he
received during his lifetime were due to his work as editor of _The
Nation_ and the _Evening Post_; and this is his chief title of fame. The
education, early experience, and aspiration of such a journalist are
naturally matter of interest. Born in 1831, in the County of Wicklow in
the southeastern part of Ireland, the son of a Presbyterian minister, he
was able to say when referring to Goldwin Smith, "I am an Irishman, but
I am as English in blood as he is."[181] Receiving his higher education
at Queen's College, Belfast, he took a lively interest in present
politics, his college friends being Liberals. John Stuart Mill was their
prophet, Grote and Bentham their daily companions, and America was their
promised land. "To the scoffs of the Tories that our schemes were
impracticable," he has written of these days, "our answer was that in
America, barring slavery, they were actually at work. There, the chief
of the state and the legislators were freely elected by the people.
There, the offices were open to everybody who had the capacity to fill
them. There was no army or navy, two great curses of humanity in all
ages. There was to be no war except war in self-defense.... In fact, we
did not doubt that in America at last the triumph of humanity over its
own weaknesses and superstitions was being achieved, and the dream of
Christendom was at last being realized."[182]

As a correspondent of the London _Daily News_ he went to the Crimea. The
scenes at Malakoff gave him a disgust for war which thenceforth he never
failed to express upon every opportunity. When a man of sixty-eight,
reckoning its cost in blood and treasure, he deemed the Crimean War
entirely unnecessary and very deplorable.[183] Godkin arrived in America
in November, 1856, and soon afterwards, with Olmsted's "Journey in the
Seaboard Slave States," the "Back Country," and "Texas," as guidebooks,
took a horseback journey through the South. Following closely Olmsted's
trail, and speaking therefore with knowledge, he has paid him one of the
highest compliments one traveler ever paid another. "Olmsted's work," he
wrote, "in vividness of description and in photographic minuteness far
surpasses Arthur Young's."[184] During this journey he wrote letters to
the London _Daily News_, and these were continued after his return to
New York City. For the last three years of our Civil War, he was its
regular correspondent, and, as no one denies that he was a powerful
advocate when his heart was enlisted, he rendered efficient service to
the cause of the North. The _News_ was strongly pro-Northern, and Godkin
furnished the facts which rendered its leaders sound and instructive as
well as sympathetic. All this while he was seeing socially the best
people in New York City, and making useful and desirable acquaintances
in Boston and Cambridge.

The interesting story of the foundation of _The Nation_ has been told a
number of times, and it will suffice for our purpose to say that there
were forty stockholders who contributed a capital of one hundred
thousand dollars, one half of which was raised in Boston, and one
quarter each in Philadelphia and New York. Godkin was the editor, and
next to him the chief promoters were James M. McKim of Philadelphia and
Charles Eliot Norton. The first number of this "weekly journal of
politics, literature, science, and art" appeared on July 6, 1865.
Financial embarrassment and disagreements among the stockholders marked
the first year of its existence, at the end of which Godkin, McKim, and
Frederick Law Olmsted took over the property, and continued the
publication under the proprietorship of E. L. Godkin & Co. "_The Nation_
owed its continued existence to Charles Eliot Norton," wrote Godkin in
1899. "It was his calm and confidence amid the shrieks of combatants ...
which enabled me to do my work even with decency."[185]

Sixteen years after _The Nation_ was started, in 1881, Godkin sold it
out to the _Evening Post_, becoming associate editor of that journal,
with Carl Schurz as his chief. _The Nation_ was thereafter published as
the weekly edition of the _Evening Post_. In 1883 Schurz retired and
Godkin was made editor-in-chief, having the aid and support of one of
the owners, Horace White. On January 1, 1900, on account of ill health,
he withdrew from the editorship of the _Evening Post_,[186] thus
retiring from active journalism.

For thirty-five years he had devoted himself to his work with
extraordinary ability and singleness of purpose. Marked appreciation
came to him: invitations to deliver courses of lectures from both
Harvard and Yale, the degree of A.M. from Harvard, and the degree of
D.C.L. from Oxford. What might have been a turning point in his career
was the offer in 1870 of the professorship of history at Harvard. He was
strongly tempted to accept it, but, before coming to a decision, he took
counsel of a number of friends; and few men, I think, have ever received
such wise and disinterested advice as did Godkin when he was thus
hesitating in what way he should apply his teaching. The burden of the
advice was not to take the professorship, if he had to give up _The

Frederick Law Olmsted wrote to him: "If you can't write fully half of
'The Week' and half the leaders, and control the drift and tone of the
whole while living at Cambridge, give up the professorship, for _The
Nation_ is worth many professorships. It is a question of loyalty over a
question of comfort." Lowell wrote to him in the same strain: "_Stay_ if
the two things are incompatible. We may find another professor by and by
... but we can't find another editor for _The Nation_." From Germany,
John Bigelow sent a characteristic message: "Tell the University to
require each student to take a copy of _The Nation_. Do not profess
history for them in any other way. I dare say your lectures would be
good, but why limit your pupils to hundreds which are now counted by

As is well known, Godkin relinquished the idea of the college connection
and stuck to his job, although the quiet and serenity of a professor's
life in Cambridge contrasted with his own turbulent days appealed to him
powerfully. "Ten years hence," he wrote to Norton, "if things go on as
they are now I shall be the most odious man in America. Not that I shall
not have plenty of friends, but my enemies will be far more numerous and
active." Six years after he had founded _The Nation_, and one year after
he had declined the Harvard professorship, when he was yet but forty
years old, he gave this humorously exaggerated account of his physical
failings due to his nervous strain: "I began _The Nation_ young,
handsome, and fascinating, and am now withered and somewhat broken,
rheumatism gaining on me rapidly, my complexion ruined, as also my
figure, for I am growing stout."[188]

But his choice between the Harvard professorship and _The Nation_ was a
wise one. He was a born writer of paragraphs and editorials. The files
of _The Nation_ are his monument. A crown of his laborious days is the
tribute of James Bryce: "_The Nation_ was the best weekly not only in
America but in the world."[189]

Thirty-five years of journalism, in which Godkin was accustomed to give
hard blows, did not, as he himself foreshadowed, call forth a unanimous
chorus of praise; and the objections of intelligent and high-minded men
are well worth taking into account. The most common one is that his
criticism was always destructive; that he had an eye for the weak side
of causes and men that he did not favor, and these he set forth with
unremitting vigor without regard for palliating circumstances; that he
erected a high and impossible ideal and judged all men by it; hence, if
a public man was right eight times out of ten, he would seize upon the
two failures and so parade them with his withering sarcasm that the
reader could get no other idea than that the man was either weak or
wicked. An editor of very positive opinions, he was apt to convey the
idea that if any one differed from him on a vital question, like the
tariff or finance or civil service reform, he was necessarily a bad man.
He made no allowances for the weaknesses of human nature, and had no
idea that he himself ever could be mistaken. Though a powerful critic,
he did not realize the highest criticism, which discerns and brings out
the good as well as the evil. He won his reputation by dealing out
censure, which has a rare attraction for a certain class of minds, as
Tacitus observed in his "History." "People," he wrote, "lend a ready ear
to detraction and spite," for "malignity wears the imposing appearance
of independence."[190]

The influence of _The Nation_, therefore,--so these objectors to Godkin
aver,--was especially unfortunate on the intelligent youth of the
country. It was in 1870 that John Bigelow, whom I have just quoted,
advised Harvard University to include _The Nation_ among its
requirements; and it is true that at that time, and for a good while
afterwards, _The Nation_ was favorite reading for serious Harvard
students. The same practice undoubtedly prevailed at most other
colleges. Now I have been told that the effect of reading _The Nation_
was to prevent these young men from understanding their own country;
that, as Godkin himself did not comprehend America, he was an unsound
teacher and made his youthful readers see her through a false medium.
And I am further informed that in mature life it cost an effort, a
mental wrench, so to speak, to get rid of this influence and see things
as they really were, which was necessary for usefulness in lives cast in
America. The United States was our country; she was entitled to our love
and service; and yet such a frame of mind was impossible, so this
objection runs, if we read and believed the writing of _The Nation_. A
man of character and ability, who had filled a number of public offices
with credit, told me that the influence of _The Nation_ had been potent
in keeping college graduates out of public life; that things in the
United States were painted so black both relatively and absolutely that
the young men naturally reasoned, "Why shall we concern ourselves about
a country which is surely going to destruction?" Far better, they may
have said, to pattern after Plato's philosopher who kept out of
politics, being "like one who retires under the shelter of a wall in the
storm of dust and sleet which the driving wind hurries along."[191]

Such considerations undoubtedly lost _The Nation_ valuable subscribers.
I have been struck with three circumstances in juxtaposition. At the
time of Judge Hoar's forced resignation from Grant's Cabinet in 1870,
_The Nation_ said, "In peace as in war 'that is best blood which hath
most iron in't;' and much is to be excused to the man [that is, Judge
Hoar] who has for the first time in many years of Washington history
given a back-handed blow to many an impudent and arrogant dispenser of
patronage. He may well be proud of most of the enmity that he won while
in office, and may go back contented to Massachusetts to be her most
honored citizen."[192] Two months later Lowell wrote to Godkin, "The
bound volumes of _The Nation_ standing on Judge Hoar's library table, as
I saw them the other day, were a sign of the estimation in which it is
held by solid people and it is they who in the long run decide the
fortunes of such a journal."[193] But _The Nation_ lost Judge Hoar's
support. When I called upon him in 1893 he was no longer taking or
reading it.

It is the sum of individual experiences that makes up the influence of a
journal like _The Nation_, and one may therefore be pardoned the egotism
necessarily arising from a relation of one's own contact with it. In
1866, while a student at the University of Chicago, I remember well
that, in a desultory talk in the English Literature class, Professor
William Matthews spoke of _The Nation_ and advised the students to read
it each week as a political education of high value. This was the first
knowledge I had of it, but I was at that time, along with many other
young men, devoted to the _Round Table_, an "Independent weekly review
of Politics, Finance, Literature, Society, and Art," which flourished
between the years 1864 and 1868. We asked the professor, "Do you
consider _The Nation_ superior to the _Round Table_?"--"Decidedly," was
his reply. "The editors of the _Round Table_ seem to write for the sake
of writing, while the men who are expressing themselves in _The Nation_
do so because their hearts and minds are full of their matter." This was
a just estimate of the difference between the two journals. The _Round
Table_, modeled after the _Saturday Review_, was a feeble imitation of
the London weekly, then in its palmy days, while _The Nation_, which was
patterned after the _Spectator_, did not suffer by the side of its
model. On this hint from Professor Matthews, I began taking and reading
_The Nation_, and with the exception of one year in Europe during my
student days, I have read it ever since.

Before I touch on certain specifications I must premise that the
influence of this journal on a Westerner, who read it in a receptive
spirit, was probably more potent than on one living in the East. The
arrogance of a higher civilization in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia
than elsewhere in the United States, the term "wild and woolly West,"
applied to the region west of the Alleghany Mountains, is somewhat
irritating to a Westerner. Yet it remains none the less true that, other
things being equal, a man living in the environment of Boston or New
York would have arrived more easily and more quickly at certain sound
political views I shall proceed to specify than he would while living in
Cleveland or Chicago. The gospel which Godkin preached was needed much
more in the West than in the East; and his disciples in the western
country had for him a high degree of reverence. In the biography of
Godkin, allusion is made to the small pecuniary return for his work, but
in thinking of him we never considered the money question. We supposed
that he made a living; we knew from his articles that he was a
gentleman, and saw much of good society, and there was not one of us who
would not rather have been in his shoes than in those of the richest man
in New York. We placed such trust in him--which his life shows to have
been abundantly justified--that we should have lost all confidence in
human nature had he ever been tempted by place or profit. And his
influence was abiding. Presidents, statesmen, senators, congressmen rose
and fell; political administrations changed; good, bad, and weak public
men passed away; but Godkin preached to us every week a timely and
cogent sermon.

To return now to my personal experience. I owe wholly to _The Nation_ my
conviction in favor of civil service reform; in fact, it was from these
columns that I first came to understand the question. The arguments
advanced were sane and strong, and especially intelligible to men in
business, who, in the main, chose their employees on the ground of
fitness, and who made it a rule to retain and advance competent and
honest men in their employ. I think that on this subject the indirect
influence of _The Nation_ was very great, in furnishing arguments to men
like myself, who never lost an opportunity to restate them, and to
editorial writers for the Western newspapers, who generally read _The
Nation_ and who were apt to reproduce its line of reasoning. When I look
back to 1869, the year in which I became a voter, and recall the
strenuous opposition to civil service reform on the part of the
politicians of both parties, and the indifference of the public, I
confess that I am amazed at the progress which has been made. Such a
reform is of course effected only by a number of contributing causes and
some favoring circumstances, but I feel certain that it was accelerated
by the constant and vigorous support of _The Nation_.

I owe to _The Nation_ more than to any other agency my correct ideas on
finance in two crises. The first was the "greenback craze" from 1869 to
1875. It was easy to be a hard-money man in Boston or New York, where
one might imbibe the correct doctrine as one everywhere takes in the
fundamental principles of civilization and morality. But it was not so
in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, where the severe money stringency
before and during the panic of 1873, and the depression after it, caused
many good and representative men to join in the cry for a larger issue
of greenbacks by the government. It required no moral courage for the
average citizen to resist what in 1875 seemed to be the popular move,
but it did require the correct knowledge and the forcible arguments put
forward weekly by _The Nation_. I do not forget my indebtedness to John
Sherman, Carl Schurz, and Senator Thurman, but Sherman and Thurman were
not always consistent on this question, and Schurz's voice was only
occasionally heard; but every seven days came _The Nation_ with its
unremitting iteration, and it was an iteration varied enough to be
always interesting and worthy of study. As one looks back over nearly
forty years of politics one likes to recall the occasions when one has
done the thing one's mature judgment fully approves; and I like to think
that in 1875 I refused to vote for my party's candidate for governor,
the Democratic William Allen, whose platform was "that the volume of
currency be made and kept equal to the wants of trade."

A severer ordeal was the silver question of 1878, because the argument
for silver was more weighty than that for irredeemable paper, and was
believed to be sound by business men of both parties. I remember that
many representative business men of Cleveland used to assemble around
the large luncheon table of the Union Club and discuss the pending
silver-coinage bill, which received the votes of both of the senators
from Ohio and of all her representatives except Garfield. The gold men
were in a minority also at the luncheon table, but, fortified by _The
Nation_, we thought that we held our own in this daily discussion.

In my conversion from a belief in a protective tariff to the advocacy
of one for revenue only, I recognize an obligation to Godkin, but his
was only one of many influences. I owe _The Nation_ much for its
accurate knowledge of foreign affairs, especially of English politics,
in which its readers were enlightened by one of the most capable of
living men, Albert V. Dicey. I am indebted to it for sound ideas on
municipal government, and for its advocacy of many minor measures, such
for instance as the International Copyright Bill. I owe it something for
its later attitude on Reconstruction, and its condemnation of the negro
carpet-bag governments in the South. In a word, _The Nation_ was on the
side of civilization and good political morals.

Confessing thus my great political indebtedness to Godkin, it is with
some reluctance that I present a certain phase of his thought which was
regretted by many of his best friends, and which undoubtedly limited his
influence in the later years of his life. A knowledge of this
shortcoming is, however, essential to a thorough comprehension of the
man. It is frequently said that Godkin rarely, if ever, made a
retraction or a rectification of personal charges shown to be incorrect.
A thorough search of _The Nation's_ columns would be necessary fully to
substantiate this statement, but my own impression, covering as it does
thirty-three years' reading of the paper under Godkin's control,
inclines me to believe in its truth, as I do not remember an instance of
the kind.

A grave fault of omission occurs to me as showing a regrettable bias in
a leader of intelligent opinion. On January 5, 1897, General Francis A.
Walker died. He had served with credit as an officer during our Civil
War, and in two thoughtful books had made a valuable contribution to its
military history. He was superintendent of the United States Census of
1870, and did work that statisticians and historians refer to with
gratitude and praise. For sixteen years he served with honor the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology as its president. He was a
celebrated political economist, his books being (I think) as well known
in England as in this country. Yale, Amherst, Harvard, Columbia, St.
Andrews, and Dublin conferred upon him the degree of LL.D. Withal he
served his city with public spirit. Trinity Church, "crowded and silent"
in celebrating its last service over the dead body of Walker, witnessed
one of the three most impressive funerals which Boston has seen for at
least sixteen years--a funeral conspicuous for the attendance of a large
number of delegates from colleges and learned societies.

Walker was distinctly of the intellectual élite of the country. But _The
Nation_ made not the slightest reference to his death. In the issue of
January 7, appearing two days later, I looked for an allusion in "The
Week," and subsequently for one of those remarkable and discriminating
eulogies, which in smaller type follow the editorials, and for which
_The Nation_ is justly celebrated; but there was not one word. You might
search the 1897 volume of _The Nation_ and, but for a brief reference in
the April "Notes" to Walker's annual report posthumously published, you
would not learn that a great intellectual leader had passed away. I
wrote to a valued contributor of _The Nation_, a friend of Walker, of
Godkin, and of Wendell P. Garrison (the literary editor), inquiring if
he knew the reason for the omission, and in answer he could only tell me
that his amazement had been as great as mine. He at first looked
eagerly, and, when the last number came in which a eulogy could possibly
appear, he turned over the pages of _The Nation_ with sorrowful regret,
hardly believing his eyes that the article he sought was not there.

Now I suspect that the reason of this extraordinary omission was due to
the irreconcilable opinions of Walker and Godkin on a question of
finance. It was a period when the contest between the advocates of a
single gold standard and the bimetallists raged fiercely, and the
contest had not been fully settled by the election of McKinley in 1896.
Godkin was emphatically for gold, Walker equally emphatic for a double
standard. And they clashed. It is a notable example of the peculiarity
of Godkin, to allow at the portal of death the one point of political
policy on which he and Walker disagreed to overweigh the nine points in
which they were at one.

Most readers of _The Nation_ noticed distinctly that, from 1895 on, its
tone became more pessimistic and its criticism was marked by greater
acerbity. Mr. Rollo Ogden in his biography shows that Godkin's feeling
of disappointment over the progress of the democratic experiment in
America, and his hopelessness of our future, began at an earlier date.

During his first years in the United States, he had no desire to return
to his mother country. When the financial fortune of _The Nation_ was
doubtful, he wrote to Norton that he should not go back to England
except as a "last extremity. It would be going back into an atmosphere
that I detest, and a social system that I have hated since I was
fourteen years old."[194] In 1889, after an absence of twenty-seven
years, he went to England. The best intellectual society of London and
Oxford opened its doors to him and he fell under its charm as would any
American who was the recipient of marked attentions from people of such
distinction. He began to draw contrasts which were not favorable to his
adopted country. "I took a walk along the wonderful Thames embankment,"
he wrote, "a splendid work, and I sighed to think how impossible it
would be to get such a thing done in New York. The differences in
government and political manners are in fact awful, and for me very
depressing. Henry James [with whom he stopped in London] and I talk over
them sometimes 'des larmes dans la voix.'" In 1894, however, Godkin
wrote in the _Forum_: "There is probably no government in the world
to-day as stable as that of the United States. The chief advantage of
democratic government is, in a country like this, the enormous force it
can command in an emergency."[195] But next year his pessimism is
clearly apparent. On January 12, 1895, he wrote to Norton: "You see I am
not sanguine about the future of democracy. I think we shall have a long
period of decline like that which followed (?) the fall of the Roman
Empire, and then a recrudescence under some other form of society."[196]

A number of things had combined to affect him profoundly. An admirer of
Grover Cleveland and three times a warm supporter of his candidacy for
the Presidency, he saw with regret the loss of his hold on his party,
which was drifting into the hands of the advocates of free silver. Then
in December, 1895, Godkin lost faith in his idol. "I was thunderstruck
by Cleveland's message" on the Venezuela question, he wrote to Norton.
His submission to the Jingoes "is a terrible shock."[197] Later, in a
calm review of passing events, he called the message a "sudden
declaration of war without notice against Great Britain."[198] The
danger of such a proceeding he had pointed out to Norton: Our "immense
democracy, mostly ignorant ... is constantly on the brink of some
frightful catastrophe like that which overtook France in 1870."[199] In
1896 he was deeply distressed at the country having to choose for
President between the arch-protectionist McKinley and the free-silver
advocate Bryan, for he had spent a good part of his life combating a
protective tariff and advocating sound money. Though the _Evening Post_
contributed powerfully to the election of McKinley, from the fact that
its catechism, teaching financial truths in a popular form, was
distributed throughout the West in immense quantities by the chairman of
the Republican National Committee, Godkin himself refused to vote for
McKinley and put in his ballot for Palmer, the gold Democrat.[200]

The Spanish-American war seems to have destroyed any lingering hope that
he had left for the future of American democracy. He spoke of it as "a
perfectly avoidable war forced on by a band of unscrupulous politicians"
who had behind them "a roaring mob."[201] The taking of the Philippines
and the subsequent war in these islands confirmed him in his despair. In
a private letter written from Paris, he said, "American ideals were the
intellectual food of my youth, and to see America converted into a
senseless, Old-World conqueror, embitters my age."[202] To another he
wrote that his former "high and fond ideals about America were now all
shattered."[203] "Sometimes he seemed to feel," said his intimate
friend, James Bryce, "as though he had labored in vain for forty

Such regrets expressed by an honest and sincere man with a high ideal
must command our respectful attention. Though due in part to old age and
enfeebled health, they are still more attributable to his
disappointment that the country had not developed in the way that he
had marked out for her. For with men of Godkin's positive convictions,
there is only one way to salvation. Sometimes such men are true
prophets; at other times, while they see clearly certain aspects of a
case, their narrowness of vision prevents them from taking in the whole
range of possibilities, especially when the enthusiasm of manhood is

Godkin took a broader view in 1868, which he forcibly expressed in a
letter to the London _Daily News_. "There is no careful and intelligent
observer," he wrote, "whether he be a friend to democracy or not, who
can help admiring the unbroken power with which the popular common
sense--that shrewdness, or intelligence, or instinct of
self-preservation, I care not what you call it, which so often makes the
American farmer a far better politician than nine tenths of the best
read European political philosophers--works under all this tumult and
confusion of tongues. The newspapers and politicians fret and fume and
shout and denounce; but the great mass, the nineteen or twenty millions,
work away in the fields and workshops, saying little, thinking much,
hardy, earnest, self-reliant, very tolerant, very indulgent, very
shrewd, but ready whenever the government needs it, with musket, or
purse, or vote, as the case may be, laughing and cheering occasionally
at public meetings, but when you meet them individually on the highroad
or in their own houses, very cool, then, sensible men, filled with no
delusions, carried away by no frenzies, believing firmly in the future
greatness and glory of the republic, but holding to no other article of
faith as essential to political salvation."

Before continuing the quotation I wish to call attention to the fact
that Godkin's illustration was more effective in 1868 than now: then
there was a solemn and vital meaning to the prayers offered up for
persons going to sea that they might be preserved from the dangers of
the deep. "Every now and then," he went on to say, "as one watches the
political storms in the United States, one is reminded of one's feelings
as one lies in bed on a stormy night in an ocean steamer in a head wind.
Each blow of the sea shakes the ship from stem to stern, and every now
and then a tremendous one seems to paralyze her. The machinery seems to
stop work; there is a dead pause, and you think for a moment the end has
come; but the throbbing begins once more, and if you go up on deck and
look down in the hold, you see the firemen and engineers at their posts,
apparently unconscious of anything but their work, and as sure of
getting into port as if there was not a ripple on the water."

This letter of Godkin's was written on January 8, 1868, when Congress
was engaged in the reconstruction of the South on the basis of negro
suffrage, when the quarrel between Congress and President Johnson was
acute and his impeachment not two months off. At about this time Godkin
set down Evarts's opinion that "we are witnessing the decline of public
morality which usually presages revolution," and reported that Howells
was talking "despondently like everybody else about the condition of
morals and manners."[205] Of like tenor was the opinion of an
arch-conservative, George Ticknor, written in 1869, which bears a
resemblance to the lamentation of Godkin's later years. "The civil war
of '61," wrote Ticknor, "has made a great gulf between what happened
before it in our century and what has happened since, or what is likely
to happen hereafter. It does not seem to me as if I were living in the
country in which I was born, or in which I received whatever I ever got
of political education or principles. Webster seems to have been the
last of the Romans."[206]

In 1868 Godkin was an optimist, having a cogent answer to all gloomy
predictions; from 1895 to 1902 he was a pessimist; yet reasons just as
strong may be adduced for considering the future of the country secure
in the later as were urged in the earlier period. But as Godkin grew
older, he became a moral censor, and it is characteristic of censors to
exaggerate both the evil of the present and the good of the past. Thus
in 1899 he wrote of the years 1857-1860: "The air was full of the real
Americanism. The American gospel was on people's lips and was growing
with fervor. Force was worshiped, but it was moral force: it was the
force of reason, of humanity, of human equality, of a good example. The
abolitionist gospel seemed to be permeating the views of the American
people, and overturning and destroying the last remaining traditions of
the old-world public morality. It was really what might be called the
golden age of America."[207] These were the days of slavery. James
Buchanan was President. The internal policy of the party in power was
expressed in the Dred Scott decision and the attempt to force slavery on
Kansas; the foreign policy, in the Ostend Manifesto, which declared that
if Spain would not sell Cuba, the United States would take it by force.
The rule in the civil service was, "to the victors belong the spoils."
And New York City, where Godkin resided, had for its mayor Fernando

In this somewhat rambling paper I have subjected Godkin to a severe test
by a contrast of his public and private utterances covering many years,
not however with the intention of accusing him of inconsistency. Ferrero
writes that historians of our day find it easy to expose the
contradictions of Cicero, but they forget that probably as much could
be said of his contemporaries, if we possessed also their private
correspondence. Similarly, it is a pertinent question how many
journalists and how many public men would stand as well as Godkin in
this matter of consistency if we possessed the same abundant records of
their activity?

The more careful the study of Godkin's utterances, the less will be the
irritation felt by men who love and believe in their country. It is
evident that he was a born critic, and his private correspondence is
full of expressions showing that if he had been conducting a journal in
England, his criticism of certain phases of English policy would have
been as severe as those which he indulged in weekly at the expense of
this country. "How Ireland sits heavy on your soul!" he wrote to James
Bryce. "Salisbury was an utterly discredited Foreign Secretary when you
brought up Home Rule. Now he is one of the wisest of men. Balfour and
Chamberlain have all been lifted into eminence by opposition to Home
Rule simply." To Professor Norton: "Chamberlain is a capital specimen of
the rise of an unscrupulous politician." Again: "The fall of England
into the hands of a creature like Chamberlain recalls the capture of
Rome by Alaric." To another friend: "I do not like to talk about the
Boer War, it is too painful.... When I do speak of the war my language
becomes unfit for publication." On seeing the Queen and the Prince of
Wales driving through the gardens at Windsor, his comment was "Fat,
useless royalty;" and in 1897 he wrote from England to Arthur Sedgwick,
"There are many things here which reconcile me to America."[208]

In truth, much of his criticism of America is only an elaboration of his
criticism of democracy. In common with many Europeans born at about the
same time, who began their political life as radicals, he shows his keen
disappointment that democracy has not regenerated mankind. "There is not
a country in the world, living under parliamentary government," he
wrote, "which has not begun to complain of the decline in the quality of
its legislators. More and more, it is said, the work of government is
falling into the hands of men to whom even small pay is important, and
who are suspected of adding to their income by corruption. The
withdrawal of the more intelligent class from legislative duties is more
and more lamented, and the complaint is somewhat justified by the mass
of crude, hasty, incoherent, and unnecessary laws which are poured on
the world at every session."[209]

I have thus far spoken only of the political influence of _The Nation_,
but its literary department was equally important. Associated with
Godkin from the beginning was Wendell P. Garrison, who became literary
editor of the journal, and, who, Godkin wrote in 1871, "has really
toiled for six years with the fidelity of a Christian martyr and upon
the pay of an oysterman."[210] I have often heard the literary criticism
of _The Nation_ called destructive like the political, but, it appears
to me, with less reason. Books for review were sent to experts in
different parts of the country, and the list of contributors included
many professors from various colleges. While the editor, I believe,
retained, and sometimes exercised, the right to omit parts of the review
and make some additions, yet writers drawn from so many sources must
have preserved their own individuality. I have heard it said that _The
Nation_ gave you the impression of having been entirely written by one
man; but whatever there is more than fanciful in that impression must
have arisen from the general agreement between the editor and the
contributors. Paul Leicester Ford once told me that, when he wrote a
criticism for _The Nation_, he unconsciously took on _The Nation's_
style, but he could write in that way for no other journal, nor did he
ever fall into it in his books. Garrison was much more tolerant than is
sometimes supposed. I know of his sending many books to two men, one of
whom differed from him radically on the negro question and the other on

It is only after hearing much detraction of the literary department of
_The Nation_, and after considerable reflection, that I have arrived at
the conviction that it came somewhat near to realizing criticism as
defined by Matthew Arnold, thus: "A disinterested endeavor to learn and
propagate the best that is known and thought in the world."[211] I am
well aware that it was not always equal, and I remember two harsh
reviews which ought not to have been printed; but this simply proves
that the editor was human and _The Nation_ was not perfect. I feel safe,
however, in saying that if the best critical reviews of _The Nation_
were collected and printed in book form, they would show an aspiration
after the standard erected by Sainte-Beuve and Matthew Arnold.

Again I must appeal to my individual experience. The man who lived in
the middle West for the twenty-five years between 1865 and 1890 needed
the literary department of _The Nation_ more than one who lived in
Boston or New York. Most of the books written in America were by New
England, New York, and Philadelphia authors, and in those communities
literary criticism was evolved by social contact in clubs and other
gatherings. We had nothing of the sort in Cleveland, where a writer of
books walking down Euclid Avenue would have been stared at as a
somewhat remarkable personage. The literary columns of _The Nation_ were
therefore our most important link between our practical life and the
literary world. I used to copy into my _Index Rerum_ long extracts from
important reviews, in which the writers appeared to have a thorough
grasp of their subjects; and these I read and re-read as I would a
significant passage in a favorite book. In the days when many of us were
profoundly influenced by Herbert Spencer's "Sociology," I was somewhat
astonished to read one week in _The Nation_, in a review of Pollock's
"Introduction to the Science of Politics," these words: "Herbert
Spencer's contributions to political and historical science seem to us
mere commonplaces, sometimes false, sometimes true, but in both cases
trying to disguise their essential flatness and commonness in a garb of
dogmatic formalism."[212] Such an opinion, evidencing a conflict between
two intellectual guides, staggered me, and it was with some curiosity
that I looked subsequently, when the _Index to Periodicals_ came out, to
see who had the temerity thus to belittle Spencer--the greatest
political philosopher, so some of his disciples thought, since
Aristotle. I ascertained that the writer of the review was James Bryce,
and whatever else might be thought, it could not be denied that the
controversy was one between giants. I can, I think, date the beginning
of my emancipation from Spencer from that review in 1891.

In the same year I read a discriminating eulogy of George Bancroft,
ending with an intelligent criticism of his history, which produced on
me a marked impression. The reviewer wrote: Bancroft falls into "that
error so common with the graphic school of historians--the exaggerated
estimate of manuscripts or fragmentary material at the expense of what
is printed and permanent.... But a fault far more serious than this is
one which Mr. Bancroft shared with his historical contemporaries, but in
which he far exceeded any of them--an utter ignoring of the very meaning
and significance of a quotation mark."[213] Sound and scientific
doctrine is this; and the whole article exhibited a thorough knowledge
of our colonial and revolutionary history which inspired confidence in
the conclusions of the writer, who, I later ascertained, was Thomas
Wentworth Higginson.

These two examples could be multiplied at length. There were many
reviewers from Harvard and Yale; and undoubtedly other Eastern colleges
were well represented. The University of Wisconsin furnished at least
one contributor, as probably did the University of Michigan and other
Western colleges. Men in Washington, New York, and Boston, not in
academic life, were drawn upon; a soldier of the Civil War, living in
Cincinnati, a man of affairs, sent many reviews. James Bryce was an
occasional contributor, and at least three notable reviews came from the
pen of Albert V. Dicey. In 1885, Godkin, in speaking of _The Nation's_
department of Literature and Art, wrote that "the list of those who have
contributed to the columns of the paper from the first issue to the
present day contains a large number of the most eminent names in
American literature, science, art, philosophy, and law."[214] With men
so gifted, and chosen from all parts of the country, uniformly
destructive criticism could not have prevailed. Among them were
optimists as well as pessimists, and men as independent in thought as
was Godkin himself.

Believing that Godkin's thirty-five years of critical work was of great
benefit to this country, I have sometimes asked myself whether the fact
of his being a foreigner has made it more irritating to many good
people, who term his criticism "fault-finding" or "scolding." Although
he married in America and his home life was centered here, he confessed
that in many essential things it was a foreign country.[215] Some
readers who admired _The Nation_ told Mr. Bryce that they did not want
"to be taught by a European how to run this republic." But Bryce, who in
this matter is the most competent of judges, intimates that Godkin's
foreign education, giving him detachment and perspective, was a distinct
advantage. If it will help any one to a better appreciation of the man,
let Godkin be regarded as "a chiel amang us takin' notes"; as an
observer not so philosophic as Tocqueville, not so genial and
sympathetic as Bryce. Yet, whether we look upon him as an Irishman, an
Englishman, or an American, let us rejoice that he cast his lot with us,
and that we have had the benefit of his illuminating pen. He was not
always right; he was sometimes unjust; he often told the truth with
"needless asperity,"[216] as Parkman put it; but his merits so
outweighed his defects that he had a marked influence on opinion, and
probably on history, during his thirty-five years of journalistic work,
when, according to James Bryce, he showed a courage such as is rare
everywhere.[217] General J. D. Cox, who had not missed a number of _The
Nation_ from 1865 to 1899, wrote to Godkin, on hearing of his
prospective retirement from the _Evening Post_, "I really believe that
earnest men, all over the land, whether they agree with you or differ,
will unite in the exclamation which Lincoln made as to Grant, 'We can't
spare this man--he _fights_.'"[218]

Our country, wrapped up in no smug complacency, listened to this man,
respected him and supported him, and on his death a number of people
were glad to unite to endow a lectureship in his honor in Harvard

In closing, I cannot do better than quote what may be called Godkin's
farewell words, printed forty days before the attack of cerebral
hemorrhage which ended his active career. "The election of the chief
officer of the state by universal suffrage," he wrote, "by a nation
approaching one hundred millions, is not simply a novelty in the history
of man's efforts to govern himself, but an experiment of which no one
can foresee the result. The mass is yearly becoming more and more
difficult to move. The old arts of persuasion are already ceasing to be
employed on it. Presidential elections are less and less carried by
speeches and articles. The American people is a less instructed people
than it used to be. The necessity for drilling, organizing, and guiding
it, in order to extract the vote from it is becoming plain; and out of
this necessity has arisen the boss system, which is now found in
existence everywhere, is growing more powerful, and has thus far
resisted all attempts to overthrow it."

I shall not stop to urge a qualification of some of these statements,
but will proceed to the brighter side of our case, which Godkin, even in
his pessimistic mood, could not fail to see distinctly. "On the other
hand," he continued, "I think the progress made by the colleges
throughout the country, big and little, both in the quality of the
instruction and in the amount of money devoted to books, laboratories,
and educational facilities of all kinds, is something unparalleled in
the history of the civilized world. And the progress of the nation in
all the arts, except that of government, in science, in literature, in
commerce, in invention, is something unprecedented and becomes daily
more astonishing. How it is that this splendid progress does not drag
on politics with it I do not profess to know."[219]

Let us be as hopeful as was Godkin in his earlier days, and rest assured
that intellectual training will eventually exert its power in politics,
as it has done in business and in other domains of active life.

  [171] R. Ogden's Life and Letters of E. L. Godkin, I, 255.

  [172] Rhodes's History of the United States, II, 72 (C. M. Depew).

  [173] Ogden, II, 88.

  [174] _Ibid._, I, 257.

  [175] Parton's Greeley, 331, 576; my own recollections; Ogden, I, 255.

  [176] Godkin, Random Recollections, _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899.

  [177] Ogden, I, 168.

  [178] Ogden, I, 221, 249, 251, 252; II, 222, 231.

  [179] Letters of J. R. Lowell, II, 76.

  [180] _Ibid._, I, 368.

  [181] Ogden, I, 1.

  [182] _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899; Ogden, I, 11.

  [183] _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899.

  [184] _Ibid._; Ogden, I, 113.

  [185] _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899; Ogden, I, _passim_;
        _The Nation_, June 25, 1885, May 23, 1902.

  [186] Ogden, II, Chap. XVII.

  [187] Ogden, II, Chap. XI.

  [188] _Ibid._, II, 51.

  [189] Studies in Contemporary Biography, 372.

  [190] Tacitus, History, I, 1.

  [191] Republic.

  [192] June 23, Rhodes, VI, 382.

  [193] Ogden, II, 66.

  [194] Ogden, II, 140.

  [195] Problems of Modern Democracy, 209.

  [196] Ogden, II, 199.

  [197] _Ibid._, II, 202.

  [198] Random Recollections, _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899.

  [199] Ogden, II, 202.

  [200] _Ibid._, II, 214.

  [201] _Ibid._, II, 238.

  [202] _Ibid._, II, 219.

  [203] _Ibid._, II, 237.

  [204] Biographical Studies, 378.

  [205] Ogden, I, 301, 307.

  [206] Life and Letters, II, 485.

  [207] Random Recollections, _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899.

  [208] Ogden, II, 30, 136, 213, 214, 247, 253.

  [209] Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy, 117.

  [210] Ogden, II, 51.

  [211] Essays, 38.

  [212] Vol. 52, p. 267.

  [213] Vol. 52, p. 66.

  [214] June 25, 1885.

  [215] Ogden, II, 116.

  [216] _Ibid._, I, 252.

  [217] Biographical Studies, 370.

  [218] Ogden, II, 229.

  [219] _Evening Post_, December 30, 1899.


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the November
meeting of 1901, and printed in the _American Historical Review_ of
April, 1902.


The story goes that when General Sherman lived in New York City, which
was during the last five years of his life, he attended one night a
dinner party at which he and an ex-Confederate general who had fought
against him in the southwest were the chief guests; and that an
Englishman present asked in perfect innocence the question, Who burned
Columbia? Had bombshells struck the tents of these generals during the
war, they would not have caused half the commotion in their breasts that
did this question put solely with the desire of information. The
emphatic language of Sherman interlarded with the oaths he uttered
spontaneously, the bitter charges of the Confederate, the pounding of
the table, the dancing of the glasses, told the Englishman that the
bloody chasm had not been entirely filled. With a little variation and
with some figurative meaning, he might have used the words of Iago:
"Friends all but now, even now in peace; and then but now as if some
planet had outwitted men, tilting at one another's breast in opposition.
I cannot speak any beginning to this peevish odds."

But the question which disturbed the New York dinner party is a delight
to the historian. Feeling that history may be known best when there are
most documents, he may derive the greatest pleasure from a perusal of
the mass of evidence bearing on this disputed point; and if he is of
Northern birth he ought to approach the subject with absolute candor. Of
a Southerner who had himself lost property or whose parents had lost
property, through Sherman's campaign of invasion, it would be asking too
much to expect him to consider this subject in a judicial spirit. Even
Trent, a moderate and impartial Southern writer whose tone is a lesson
to us all, when referring, in his life of William Gilmore Simms, to
"the much vexed question, Who burned Columbia," used words of the
sternest condemnation.

Sherman, with his army of 60,000, left Savannah February 1, 1865, and
reached the neighborhood of Columbia February 16. The next day Columbia
was evacuated by the Confederates, occupied by troops of the fifteenth
corps of the Federal army, and by the morning of the 18th either three
fifths or two thirds of the town lay in ashes. The facts contained in
these two sentences are almost the only ones undisputed. We shall
consider this episode most curiously if we take first Sherman's account,
then Wade Hampton's, ending with what I conceive to be a true relation.

The city was surrendered by the mayor and three aldermen to Colonel
George A. Stone at the head of his brigade. Soon afterwards Sherman and
Howard, the commander of the right wing of the army, rode into the city;
they observed piles of cotton burning, and Union soldiers and citizens
working to extinguish the fire, which was partially subdued. Let Sherman
speak for himself in the first account that he wrote, which was his
report of April 4, 1865: "Before one single public building had been
fired by order, the smouldering fires [cotton] set by Hampton's order
were rekindled by the wind, and communicated to the buildings around.
[Wade Hampton commanded the Confederate cavalry.] About dark they began
to spread, and got beyond the control of the brigade on duty within the
city. The whole of Woods' division was brought in, but it was found
impossible to check the flames, which, by midnight, had become
unmanageable, and raged until about 4 A.M., when the wind subsiding,
they were got under control.

"I was up nearly all night, and saw Generals Howard, Logan, Woods, and
others, laboring to save houses and protect families thus suddenly
deprived of shelter, and even of bedding and wearing apparel. I disclaim
on the part of my army any agency in this fire, but, on the contrary,
claim that we saved what of Columbia remains unconsumed. And without
hesitation I charge General Wade Hampton with having burned his own city
of Columbia, not with a malicious intent or as the manifestation of a
silly 'Roman stoicism,' but from folly, and want of sense, in filling it
with lint, cotton, and tinder. Our officers and men on duty worked well
to extinguish the flames; but others not on duty, including the officers
who had long been imprisoned there, rescued by us, may have assisted in
spreading the fire after it had once begun, and may have indulged in
unconcealed joy to see the ruin of the capital of South Carolina."
Howard, in his report, with some modification agrees with his chief, and
the account in "The March to the Sea" of General Cox, whose experience
and training fitted him well to weigh the evidence, gives at least a
partial confirmation to Sherman's theory of the origin of the fire.

I have not, however, discovered sufficient evidence to support the
assertion of Sherman that Wade Hampton ordered the cotton in the streets
of Columbia to be burned. Nor do I believe Sherman knew a single fact on
which he might base so positive a statement.[220] It had generally been
the custom for the Confederates in their retreat to burn cotton to
prevent its falling into the hands of the invading army, and because
such was the general rule Sherman assumed that it had been applied in
this particular case. This assumption suited his interest, as he sought
a victim to whom he might charge the burning of Columbia. His statement
in his "Memoirs," published in 1875, is a delicious bit of historical
naïveté. "In my official report of this conflagration," he wrote, "I
distinctly charged it to General Wade Hampton, and confess I did so
pointedly, to shake the faith of his people in him, for he was in my
opinion boastful and professed to be the special champion of South

Instead of Hampton giving an order to burn the cotton, I am satisfied
that he urged Beauregard, the general in command, to issue an order that
this cotton should not be burned, lest the fire might spread to the
shops and houses, which for the most part were built of wood, and I am
further satisfied that such an order was given. Unfortunately the
evidence for this is not contemporary. No such order is printed in the
"Official Records," and I am advised from the War Department that no
such order has been found. The nearest evidence to the time which I have
discovered is a letter of Wade Hampton of April 21, 1866, and one of
Beauregard of May 2, 1866. Since these dates, there is an abundance of
evidence, some of it sworn testimony, and while it is mixed up with
inaccurate statements on another point, and all of it is of the nature
of recollections, I cannot resist the conclusion that Beauregard and
Hampton gave such an order. It was unquestionably the wise thing to do.
There was absolutely no object in burning the cotton, as the Federal
troops could not carry it with them and could not ship it to any seaport
which was under Union control.

An order of Beauregard issued two days after the burning of Columbia and
printed in the "Official Records" shows that the policy of burning
cotton to keep it out of the hands of Sherman's army had been abandoned.
Sherman's charge, then, that Wade Hampton burned Columbia, falls to the
ground. The other part of his account, in which he maintained that the
fire spread to the buildings from the smoldering cotton rekindled by
the wind, which was blowing a gale, deserves more respect. His report
saying that he saw cotton afire in the streets was written April 4,
1865, and Howard's in which the same fact is stated was written April 1,
very soon after the event, when their recollection would be fresh. All
of the Southern evidence (except one statement, the most important of
all) is to the effect that no cotton was burning until after the Federal
troops entered the city. Many Southerners in their testimony before the
British and American mixed commission under examination and
cross-examination swear to this; and Wade Hampton swears that he was one
of the last Confederates to leave the city, and that, when he left, no
cotton was afire, and he knew that it was not fired by his men. But this
testimony was taken in 1872 and 1873, and may be balanced by the sworn
testimony of Sherman, Howard, and other Union officers before the same
commission in 1872.

The weight of the evidence already referred to would seem to me to show
that cotton was afire when the Federal troops entered Columbia, but a
contemporary statement of a Confederate officer puts it beyond doubt.
Major Chambliss, who was endeavoring to secure the means of
transportation for the Confederate ordnance and ordnance stores, wrote,
in a letter of February 20, that at three o'clock on the morning of
February 17, which was a number of hours before the Union soldiers
entered Columbia, "the city was illuminated with burning cotton." But it
does not follow that the burning cotton in the streets of Columbia was
the cause of the fire which destroyed the city. When we come to the
probably correct account of the incident, we shall see that the
preponderance of the evidence points to another cause.

February 27, ten days after the fire, Wade Hampton, in a letter to
Sherman, charged him with having permitted the burning of Columbia, if
he did not order it directly; and this has been iterated later by many
Southern writers. The correspondence between Halleck and Sherman is
cited to show premeditation on the part of the general. "Should you
capture Charleston," wrote Halleck, December 18, 1864, "I hope that by
some accident the place may be destroyed, and if a little salt should be
sown upon the site it may prevent the growth of future crops of
nullification and secession." Sherman thus replied six days later: "I
will bear in mind your hint as to Charleston, and don't think salt will
be necessary. When I move, the Fifteenth Corps will be on the right of
the Right Wing, and their position will bring them naturally into
Charleston first; and if you have watched the history of that corps you
will have remarked that they generally do their work up pretty well. The
truth is, the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak
vengeance on South Carolina. I almost tremble at her fate, but feel that
she deserves all that seems in store for her.... I look upon Columbia as
quite as bad as Charleston."

The evidence from many points of view corroborating this statement of
the feeling of the army towards South Carolina is ample. The rank and
file of Sherman's army were men of some education and intelligence; they
were accustomed to discuss public matters, weigh reasons, and draw
conclusions. They thought that South Carolina had brought on the Civil
War, was responsible for the cost and bloodshed of it, and no punishment
for her could be too severe. That was likewise the sentiment of the
officers. A characteristic expression of the feeling may be found in a
home letter of Colonel Charles F. Morse, of the second Massachusetts,
who speaks of the "miserable, rebellious State of South Carolina." "Pity
for these inhabitants," he further writes, "I have none. In the first
place, they are rebels, and I am almost prepared to agree with Sherman
that a rebel has no rights, not even the right to live except by our

It is no wonder, then, that Southern writers, smarting at the loss
caused by Sherman's campaign of invasion, should believe that Sherman
connived at the destruction of Columbia. But they are wrong in that
belief. The general's actions were not so bad as his words. Before his
troops made their entrance he issued this order: "General Howard will
... occupy Columbia, destroy the public buildings, railroad property,
manufacturing and machine shops, but will spare libraries and asylums
and private dwellings." That Sherman was entirely sincere when he gave
this order, and that his general officers endeavored to carry it out
cannot be questioned. A statement which he made under oath in 1872
indicates that he did not connive at the destruction of Columbia. "If I
had made up my mind to burn Columbia," he declared, "I would have burnt
it with no more feeling than I would a common prairie dog village; but I
did not do it."

Other words of his exhibit without disguise his feelings in regard to
the occurrence which the South has regarded as a piece of wanton
mischief. "The ulterior and strategic advantages of the occupation of
Columbia are seen now clearly by the result," said Sherman under oath.
"The burning of the private dwellings, though never designed by me, was
a trifling matter compared with the manifold results that soon followed.
Though I never ordered it and never wished it, I have never shed many
tears over the event, because I believe it hastened what we all fought
for, the end of the war." It is true that he feared previous to their
entry the burning of Columbia by his soldiers, owing to their
"deep-seated feeling of hostility" to the town, but no general of such
an army during such a campaign of invasion would have refused them the
permission to occupy the capital city of South Carolina. "I could have
had them stay in the ranks," he declared, "but I would not have done it
under the circumstances to save Columbia."

Historical and legal canons for weighing evidence are not the same. It
is a satisfaction, however, when after the investigation of any case
they lead to the same decision. The members of the British and American
mixed commission (an Englishman, an American, and the Italian Minister
at Washington), having to adjudicate upon claims for "property alleged
to have been destroyed by the burning of Columbia, on the allegation
that that city was wantonly fired by the army of General Sherman, either
under his orders or with his consent and permission," disallowed all the
claims, "all the commissioners agreeing." While they were not called
upon to deliver a formal opinion in the case, the American agent was
advised "that the commissioners were unanimous in the conclusion that
the conflagration which destroyed Columbia was not to be ascribed to
either the intention or default of either the Federal or Confederate

To recapitulate, then, what I think I have established: Sherman's
account and that of the Union writers who follow him cannot be accepted
as history. Neither is the version of Wade Hampton and the Southern
writers worthy of credence. Let me now give what I am convinced is the
true relation. My authorities are the contemporary accounts of six
Federal officers, whose names will appear when the evidence is presented
in detail; the report of Major Chambliss of the Confederate army; "The
Sack and Destruction of Columbia," a series of articles in the _Columbia
Phoenix_, written by William Gilmore Simms and printed a little over a
month after the event; and a letter written from Charlotte, February 22,
to the _Richmond Whig_, by F. G. de F., who remained in Columbia until
the day before the entrance of the Union troops.

Two days before the entrance of the Federal troops, Columbia was placed
under martial law, but this did not prevent some riotous conduct after
nightfall and a number of highway robberies; stores were also broken
into and robbed. There was great disorder and confusion in the
preparations of the inhabitants for flight; it was a frantic attempt to
get themselves and their portable belongings away before the enemy
should enter the city. "A party of Wheeler's Cavalry," wrote F. G. de F.
to the _Richmond Whig_, "accompanied by their officers dashed into town
[February 16], tied their horses, and as systematically as if they had
been bred to the business, proceeded to break into the stores along Main
Street and rob them of their contents." Early in the morning of the
17th, the South Carolina railroad depot took fire through the reckless
operations of a band of greedy plunderers, who while engaged in robbing
"the stores of merchants and planters, trunks of treasure, wares and
goods of fugitives," sent there awaiting shipment, fired, by the
careless use of their lights, a train leading to a number of kegs of
powder; the explosion which followed killed many of the thieves and set
fire to the building. Major Chambliss, who was endeavoring to secure the
means of transportation for the Confederate ordnance and ordnance
stores, wrote: "The straggling cavalry and rabble were stripping the
warehouses and railroad depots. The city was in the wildest terror."

When the Union soldiers of Colonel Stone's brigade entered the city,
they were at once supplied by citizens and negroes with large
quantities of intoxicating liquor, brought to them in cups, bottles,
demijohns, and buckets. Many had been without supper, and all of them
without sleep the night before, and none had eaten breakfast that
morning. They were soon drunk, excited, and unmanageable. The stragglers
and "bummers," who had increased during the march through South
Carolina, were now attracted by the opportunity for plunder and swelled
the crowd. Union prisoners of war had escaped from their places of
confinement in the city and suburbs, and joining their comrades were
eager to avenge their real or fancied injuries. Convicts in the jail had
in some manner been released. The pillage of shops and houses and the
robbing of men in the streets began soon after the entrance of the army.
The officers tried to preserve discipline. Colonel Stone ordered all the
liquor to be destroyed, and furnished guards for the private property of
citizens and for the public buildings; but the extent of the disorder
and plundering during the day was probably not appreciated by Sherman
and those high in command. Stone was hampered in his efforts to preserve
order by the smallness of his force for patrol duty and by the
drunkenness of his men. In fact, the condition of his men was such that
at eight o'clock in the evening they were relieved from provost duty,
and a brigade of the same division, who had been encamped outside of the
city during the day, took their place. But the mob of convicts, escaped
Union prisoners, stragglers and "bummers," drunken soldiers and negroes,
Union soldiers who were eager to take vengeance on South Carolina, could
not be controlled. The sack of the city went on, and when darkness came,
the torch was applied to many houses; the high wind carried the flames
from building to building, until the best part of Columbia--a city of
eight thousand inhabitants--was destroyed.

Colonel Stone wrote, two days afterwards: "About eight o'clock the city
was fired in a number of places by some of our escaped prisoners and
citizens." "I am satisfied," said General W. B. Woods, commander of the
brigade that relieved Stone, in his report of March 26, "by statements
made to me by respectable citizens of the town, that the fire was first
set by the negro inhabitants." General C. R. Woods, commander of the
first division, fifteenth corps, wrote, February 21: "The town was fired
in several different places by the villains that had that day been
improperly freed from their confinement in the town prison. The town
itself was full of drunken negroes and the vilest vagabond soldiers, the
veriest scum of the entire army being collected in the streets." The
very night of the conflagration he spoke of the efforts "to arrest the
countless villains of every command that were roaming over the streets."

General Logan, commander of the fifteenth corps, said, in his report of
March 31: "The citizens had so crazed our men with liquor that it was
almost impossible to control them. The scenes in Columbia that night
were terrible. Some fiend first applied the torch, and the wild flames
leaped from house to house and street to street, until the lower and
business part of the city was wrapped in flames. Frightened citizens
rushed in every direction, and the reeling incendiaries dashed, torch in
hand, from street to street, spreading dismay wherever they went."

"Some escaped prisoners," wrote General Howard, commander of the right
wing, April 1, "convicts from the penitentiary just broken open, army
followers, and drunken soldiers ran through house after house, and were
doubtless guilty of all manner of villainies, and it is these men that I
presume set new fires farther and farther to the windward in the
northern part of the city. Old men, women, and children, with everything
they could get, were herded together in the streets. At some places we
found officers and kind-hearted soldiers protecting families from the
insults and roughness of the careless. Meanwhile the flames made fearful
ravages, and magnificent residences and churches were consumed in a very
few minutes." All these quotations are from Federal officers who were
witnesses of the scene and who wrote their accounts shortly after the
event, without collusion or dictation. They wrote too before they knew
that the question, Who burned Columbia? would be an irritating one in
after years. These accounts are therefore the best of evidence. Nor does
the acceptance of any one of them imply the exclusion of the others. All
may be believed, leading us to the conclusion that all the classes named
had a hand in the sack and destruction of Columbia.

When the fire was well under way, Sherman appeared on the scene, but
gave no orders. Nor was it necessary, for Generals Howard, Logan, Woods,
and others were laboring earnestly to prevent the spread of the
conflagration. By their efforts and by the change and subsidence of
wind, the fire in the early morning of February 18 was stayed. Columbia,
wrote General Howard, was little "except a blackened surface peopled
with numerous chimneys and an occasional house that had been spared as
if by a miracle." Science, history, and art might mourn at the loss they
sustained in the destruction of the house of Dr. Gibbes, an antiquary
and naturalist, a scientific acquaintance, if not a friend, of Agassiz.
His large library, portfolios of fine engravings, two hundred paintings,
a remarkable cabinet of Southern fossils, a collection of sharks' teeth,
"pronounced by Agassiz to be the finest in the world," relics of our
aborigines and others from Mexico, "his collection of historical
documents, original correspondence of the Revolution, especially that
of South Carolina," were all burned.

The story of quelling the disorder is told by General Oliver: "February
18, at 4 A.M., the Third Brigade was called out to suppress riot; did
so, killing 2 men, wounding 30 and arresting 370." It is worthy of note
that, despite the reign of lawlessness during the night, very few, if
any, outrages were committed on women.

  [220] In a letter presented to the Senate of the United States (some
        while before April 21, 1866) Sherman said, "I saw in your
        Columbia newspaper the printed order of General Wade Hampton
        that on the approach of the Yankee army all the cotton should be
        burned" (_South. Hist. Soc. Papers_, VII, 156).


A paper read before the Massachusetts Historical Society at the January
meeting of 1898, and printed in the _Atlantic Monthly_ of June, 1898.


The most notable contributions to the historical literature of England
during the year 1897 are two volumes by Samuel R. Gardiner: the Oxford
lectures, "Cromwell's Place in History," published in the spring; and
the second volume of "History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate,"
which appeared in the autumn. These present what is probably a new view
of Cromwell.

If one loves a country or an historic epoch, it is natural for the mind
to seek a hero to represent it. We are fortunate in having Washington
and Lincoln, whose characters and whose lives sum up well the periods in
which they were our benefactors. But if we look upon our history as
being the continuation of a branch of that of England, who is the
political hero in the nation from which we sprang who represents a great
principle or idea that we love to cherish? Hampden might answer if only
we knew more about him. It occurs to me that Gray, in his poem which is
read and conned from boyhood to old age, has done more than any one else
to spread abroad the fame of Hampden. Included in the same stanza with
Milton and with Cromwell, he seems to the mere reader of the poem to
occupy the same place in history. In truth, however, as Mr. Gardiner
writes, "it is remarkable how little can be discovered about Hampden.
All that is known is to his credit, but his greatness appears from the
impression he created upon others more than from the circumstances of
his own life as they have been handed down to us."

The minds of American boys educated under Puritan influences before and
during the war of secession accordingly turned to Cromwell. Had our
Puritan ancestors remained at home till the civil war in England, they
would have fought under the great Oliver, and it is natural that their
descendants should venerate him. All young men of the period of which I
am speaking, who were interested in history, read Macaulay, the first
volume of whose history appeared in 1848, and they found in Cromwell a
hero to their liking. Carlyle's Cromwell was published three years
before, and those who could digest stronger food found the great man
therein portrayed a chosen one of God to lead his people in the right
path. Everybody echoed the thought of Carlyle when he averred that ten
years more of Oliver Cromwell's life would have given another history to
all the centuries of England.

In these two volumes Gardiner presents a different conception of
Cromwell from that of Carlyle and Macaulay, and in greater detail. We
arrive at Gardiner's notion by degrees, being prepared by the reversal
of some of our pretty well established opinions about the Puritans.
Macaulay's epigrammatic sentence touching their attitude towards
amusements undoubtedly colored the opinions of men for at least a
generation. "The Puritan hated bear-baiting," he says, "not because it
gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators."
How coolly Gardiner disposes of this well-turned rhetorical phrase: "The
order for the complete suppression of bear-baiting and bull-baiting at
Southwark and elsewhere was grounded, not, as has been often repeated,
on Puritan aversion to amusements giving 'pleasure to the spectators,'
but upon Puritan disgust at the immorality which these exhibitions
fostered." Again he writes: "Zealous as were the leaders of the
Commonwealth in the suppression of vice, they displayed but little of
that sour austerity with which they have frequently been credited. On
his way to Dunbar, Cromwell laughed heartily at the sight of one soldier
overturning a full cream tub and slamming it down on the head of
another, whilst on his return from Worcester he spent a day hawking in
the fields near Aylesbury. 'Oliver,' we hear, 'loved an innocent jest.'
Music and song were cultivated in his family. If the graver Puritans did
not admit what has been called 'promiscuous dancing' into their
households, they made no attempt to prohibit it elsewhere." In the
spring of 1651 appeared the "English Dancing Master," containing rules
for country dances, and the tunes by which they were to be accompanied.

Macaulay's description of Cromwell's army has so pervaded our literature
as to be accepted as historic truth; and J. R. Green, acute as he was,
seems, consciously or unconsciously, to have been affected by it, which
is not a matter of wonderment, indeed, for such is its rhetorical force
that it leaves an impression hard to be obliterated. Macaulay writes:
"That which chiefly distinguished the army of Cromwell from other armies
was the austere morality and the fear of God which pervaded all ranks.
It is acknowledged by the most zealous Royalists that in that singular
camp no oath was heard, no drunkenness or gambling was seen, and that
during the long dominion of the soldiery the property of the peaceable
citizen and the honor of woman were held sacred. If outrages were
committed, they were outrages of a very different kind from those of
which a victorious army is generally guilty. No servant girl complained
of the rough gallantry of the redcoats; not an ounce of plate was taken
from the shops of the goldsmiths; but a Pelagian sermon, or a window on
which the Virgin and Child were painted, produced in the Puritan ranks
an excitement which it required the utmost exertions of the officers to
quell. One of Cromwell's chief difficulties was to restrain his
musketeers and dragoons from invading by main force the pulpits of
ministers whose discourses, to use the language of that time, were not

What a different impression we get from Gardiner! "Much that has been
said of Cromwell's army has no evidence behind it," he declares. "The
majority of the soldiers were pressed men, selected because they had
strong bodies, and not because of their religion. The remainder were
taken out of the armies already in existence.... The distinctive feature
of the army was its officers. All existing commands having been vacated,
men of a distinctly Puritan and for the most part of an Independent type
were appointed to their places.... The strictest discipline was
enforced, and the soldiers, whether Puritan or not, were thus brought
firmly under the control of officers bent upon the one object, of
defeating the king."

To those who have regarded the men who governed England, from the time
the Long Parliament became supreme to the death of Cromwell, as saints
in conduct as well as in name, Mr. Gardiner's facts about the members of
the rump of the Long Parliament will be an awakening. "It was
notorious," he records, "that many members who entered the House poor
were now rolling in wealth." From Gardiner's references and quotations,
it is not a strained inference that in subjection to lobbying, in
log-rolling and corruption, this Parliament would hardly be surpassed by
a corrupt American legislature. As to personal morality, he by
implication confirms the truth of Cromwell's bitter speech on the
memorable day when he forced the dissolution of the Long Parliament.
"Some of you," he said, "are whoremasters. Others," he continued,
pointing to one and another with his hands, "are drunkards, and some
corrupt and unjust men, and scandalous to the profession of the gospel.
It is not fit that you should sit as a Parliament any longer."

While I am well aware that to him, who makes but a casual study of any
historic period, matters will appear fresh that to the master of it are
well-worn inferences and generalizations, and while therefore I can
pretend to offer only a shallow experience, I confess that on the points
to which I have referred I received new light, and it prepared me for
the overturning of the view of Cromwell which I had derived from the
Puritanical instruction of my early days and from Macaulay.

In his foreign policy Cromwell was irresolute, vacillating and tricky.
"A study of the foreign policy of the Protectorate," writes Mr.
Gardiner, "reveals a distracting maze of fluctuations. Oliver is seen
alternately courting France and Spain, constant only in inconstancy."

Cromwell lacked constructive statesmanship. "The tragedy of his career
lies in the inevitable result that his efforts to establish religion and
morality melted away as the morning mist, whilst his abiding influence
was built upon the vigor with which he promoted the material aims of his
countrymen." In another place Mr. Gardiner says: "Cromwell's negative
work lasted; his positive work vanished away. His constitutions perished
with him, his Protectorate descended from the proud position to which he
had raised it, his peace with the Dutch Republic was followed by two
wars with the United Provinces, his alliance with the French monarchy
only led to a succession of wars with France lasting into the nineteenth
century. All that lasted was the support given by him to maritime
enterprise, and in that he followed the tradition of the governments
preceding him."

What is Cromwell's place in history? Thus Mr. Gardiner answers the
question: "He stands forth as the typical Englishman of the modern
world.... It is in England that his fame has grown up since the
publication of Carlyle's monumental work, and it is as an Englishman
that he must be judged.... With Cromwell's memory it has fared as with
ourselves. Royalists painted him as a devil. Carlyle painted him as the
masterful saint who suited his peculiar Valhalla. It is time for us to
regard him as he really was, with all his physical and moral audacity,
with all his tenderness and spiritual yearnings, in the world of action
what Shakespeare was in the world of thought, the greatest because the
most typical Englishman of all time. This, in the most enduring sense,
is Cromwell's place in history."

The idea most difficult for me to relinquish is that of Cromwell as a
link in that historic chain which led to the Revolution of 1688, with
its blessed combination of liberty and order. I have loved to think, as
Carlyle expressed it: "'Their works follow them,' as I think this Oliver
Cromwell's works have done and are still doing! We have had our
'Revolution of '88' officially called 'glorious,' and other Revolutions
not yet called glorious; and somewhat has been gained for poor mankind.
Men's ears are not now slit off by rash Officiality. Officiality will
for long henceforth be more cautious about men's ears. The tyrannous
star chambers, branding irons, chimerical kings and surplices at
Allhallowtide, they are gone or with immense velocity going. Oliver's
works do follow him!"

In these two volumes of Gardiner it is not from what is said, but from
what is omitted, that one may deduce the author's opinion that
Cromwell's career as Protector contributed in no wise to the Revolution
of 1688. But touching this matter he has thus written to me: "I am
inclined to question your view that Cromwell paved the way for the
Revolution of 1688, except so far as his victories and the King's
execution frightened off James II. Pym and Hampden did pave the way,
but Cromwell's work took other lines. The Instrument of Government was
framed on quite different principles, and the extension of the suffrage
and reformed franchise found no place in England until 1832. It was not
Cromwell's fault that it was so."

If I relinquish this one of my old historic notions, I feel that I must
do it for the reason that Lord Auckland agreed with Macaulay after
reading the first volume of his history. "I had also hated Cromwell more
than I now do," he said; "for I always agree with Tom Macaulay; and it
saves trouble to agree with him at once, because he is sure to make you
do so at last."

I asked Professor Edward Channing of Harvard College, who teaches
English History of the Tudor and Stuart periods, his opinion of
Gardiner. "I firmly believe," he told me, "that Mr. Gardiner is the
greatest English historical writer who has appeared since Gibbon. He has
the instinct of the truth-seeker as no other English student I know of
has shown it since the end of the last century."

General J. D. Cox, a statesman and a lawyer, a student of history and of
law, writes to me: "In reading Gardiner, I feel that I am sitting at the
feet of an historical chief justice, a sort of John Marshall in his
genius for putting the final results of learning in the garb of simple
common sense."


  Adams, C. F., and E. G. Bourne, 200.

  Adams, J. Q., as President, 207, 209.

  Adams, John, as President, 207.

  Adelaide, Australia, Froude's description, 42.

  Alabama claims, arbitration, 218.

  Alexander Severus, homage to history, 4.

  Alison, Sir Archibald, present-day reputation, 40.

  Allison, W. B., and Hayes's New York Custom-house appointments, 255;
    and Silver Bill of 1878, 260.

  American historians, European recognition, 103.

  American Historical Association,
    author's addresses before, 1 _n._, 25, 81;
    interest of E. G. Bourne, 196.

  American history, qualities, 4, 20-23;
    newspapers as sources, 29-32, 85-95;
    and early English history, 170.
    _See also_ Elections, History, Presidential, United States,
      and periods by name.

  American Revolution, Gibbon on, 113.

  Amyot, Jacques, on Alexander Severus, 4.

  Ancient history, monopoly of German historians, 75.
    _See also_ Ferrero, Gibbon, Herodotus, Tacitus, Thucydides.

  Annexations, Philippines, 195, 233, 234, 286;
    constitutional control, Louisiana, 208, 211;
    and slavery, Texas and California, 212.

  Arbitrary arrests during Civil War, 214, 215.

  Arbitration, Alabama claims, 218;
    Cleveland and Venezuela, 225, 285;
    English draft general treaty, 226.

  Army, Federal, and suppression of rioting, 225, 253;
    character of Cromwell's, 319, 320.

  Arnold, Matthew, on Americans, 21;
    on Sainte-Beuve, 73;
    on criticism, 292.

  Arthur, C. A., as President, 222;
    removal by Hayes, 255.

  Auckland, Lord, on agreeing with Macaulay, 323.

  Aulard, F. A., on Taine, 83.

  Bagehot, Walter, on presidential office, 204, 217.

  Baltimore, railroad riot of 1877, 252.

  Balzac, Honoré de, importance to historians, 50, 73.

  Bancroft, George, use of footnotes, 33;
    remuneration, 78;
    T. W. Higginson on, over-fondness for manuscript sources, inaccuracy
      of quotations, 294.

  Beauregard, P. G. T., and burning of Columbia, 304.

  Bemis, George, and Lecky, 157.

  Bigelow, John, as journalist, 90;
    on importance of Godkin to _The Nation_, 275.

  Bismarck, Fürst von, on power of press, 89.

  Blaine, J. G., value of "Twenty Years," 33;
    on power of Congress over President, 216;
    on Hayes and Packard, 248.

  Boer War, Godkin on, 290.

  Boston, H. G. Wells's criticism considered, 138.

  Boston Athenæum, editions of Gibbon in, 138.

  Bourne, E. G., and preparation of author's history, as critic, 85, 86,
    essay on, 191-200;
    malady, 191, 192;
    physique, 191;
    death, 192;
    education, 192;
    works, 193-195;
    professorships, 193;
    on Marcus Whitman, 193;
    on Columbus, 194, 195;
    on Philippines and Monroe Doctrine, 195;
    unfinished biography of Motley, 196;
    critical notices, 196, 197;
    thoroughness, 196;
    interest in American Historical Association, 196;
    desultory reading, 199;
    and editorship of publications of Massachusetts Historical
      Society, 199.

  Bowles, Samuel, as journalist, 90.

  Brown, John, Pottawatomie Massacre and election of 1856, 88.

  Browning, Oscar, on Carlyle, 41.

  Brunetière, Ferdinand, on French literary masters, 73.

  Bryan, W. J., campaign of 1896, 228, 286.

  Bryant, W. C., as journalist, 90;
    and Greeley, 269.

  Bryce, James, importance of "Holy Roman Empire," 60, 61;
    on Federal Constitution, 203;
    on presidential office, 204, 205, 235, 240;
    on Godkin and _The Nation_, 276, 286, 295;
    on Herbert Spencer, 293.

  Buchanan, James, as President, 213.

  Buckle, H. T., enthusiasm, 38;
    influence on Lecky, 154.

  Burt, S. W., appointment by Hayes, 255.

  Bury, J. B., edition of Gibbon, 61;
    on Gibbon, 109, 110.

  Butler, Joseph, influence on Lecky, 154.

  Cabinet, Grant's, 186, 278;
    character of Jackson's, 210;
    Pierce and Buchanan controlled by, 213;
    Hayes's, 221, 246-248, 262.

  Cabot, Charles, gift to Boston Athenæum, 138.

  Calhoun, J. C., and annexation of Texas, 211.

  Carlyle, Thomas, as historian, 38, 41;
    and mathematics, 56, 57;
    importance in training of historians, "French Revolution" and
      "Frederick," 62-64;
    biography, 64;
    self-education, 65;
    lack of practical experience, 66;
    on historical method, 77;
    on Gibbon, 115;
    on Cromwell, inaccuracy of quotations, 144, 318, 321;
    on pecuniary rewards of literary men, 146;
    Gladstone on, 155.

  Chamberlain, D. H., contested election, 248.

  Chamberlain, Joseph, on newspapers and public opinion, 31;
    Godkin on, 290.

  Chambliss, N. R., on burning of Columbia, 305, 309.

  Channing, Edward, on Gardiner, 323.

  Charleston, secession movement, 91;
    feeling of Union army towards, 306.

  _Charleston Courier_, and secession movement, 92.

  _Charleston Mercury_, and secession movement, 92.

  Chatham, Earl of, on Thucydides, 15.

  Choate, Rufus, and Whig nominations in 1852, 87.

  Christianity, Gibbon on early church, 131-133.

  Cicero, homage to history, 4;
    importance to historians, 51;
    Gibbon on, 120;
    contradictions, 290.

  Civil service, J. D. Cox and reform, 186;
    spoils system, 209, 211;
    need of special training ignored, 210;
    reform under Hayes, 221, 254-257;
    Reform Bill, 222;
    Cleveland and reform, 223, 224;
    demand on President's time of appointments, number of presidential
      offices, 236;
    Godkin and reform, 280.

  Civil War, newspapers as historical source on, 32, 92-94;
    value of Official Records, 92;
    attitude of Lecky, 157;
    presidential office during, arbitrary actions, 213-216;
    Godkin as correspondent during, 273;
    burning of Columbia, 301-313.

  Cleveland, Grover, as President, 223-226;
    and civil service reform, 223;
    soundness on finances, 225;
    and railroad riots, 225;
    foreign policy, 225;
    and disorganization of Democracy, 226;
    and public opinion, 231;
    as a prime minister, 241, 263;
    and Hayes, attends funeral of Hayes, 263;
    attitude of Godkin, 285.

  Columbia, S. C., burning of, 301-313;
    Sherman's and Hampton's accounts discredited, 301-308;
    feeling of Union army towards, 306-308;
    Sherman's orders on occupation, 307;
    verdict of mixed commission on, 308;
    mob responsibility, 308-313.

  Columbia University, lecture by author at, 47.

  Commonwealth of England. _See_ Cromwell.

  Comte, Auguste, influence, 73.

  Conciseness in history, 11, 14, 16, 20, 36.

  Congress, control of Senate over Pierce and Buchanan, 213;
    power during Johnson's administration, 216;
    overshadows President, power of Speaker of House, 227;
    McKinley's control over, 234;
    contact with President, 237;
    and Hayes, 249, 256, 257, 261.

  Conkling, Roscoe, contest with Hayes over New York Custom-house, 255.

  Constitution. _See_ Federal Constitution.

  Copyright, _The Nation_ and international, 282.

  Cornell, A. B., removal by Hayes, 255.

  Corruption, Gibbon on, 127.

  Cox, J. D., on Gardiner, 44, 323;
    essay on, 185-188;
    varied activities, 185;
    as general, 185;
    as governor, 185;
    and negro suffrage, 186;
    as cabinet officer, 186;
    and civil service reform, 186;
    in Congress, 186;
    and Spanish Mission, 186;
    private positions, 187;
    works, as military historian, 187;
    and Grant, 187;
    contributions to _The Nation_, 187;
    as reader, 187;
    character, 188;
    on Godkin, 295;
    on burning of Columbia, 303.

  Crimean War, Godkin on, 273.

  Cromer, Lord, on power of press, 89, 96.

  Cromwell, Oliver, Carlyle's biography, 144, 150;
    Gardiner's influence on fame, 150;
    Gardiner's estimate, 317-323;
    character, 319;
    character of army, 319, 320;
    foreign policy, 321;
    lack of constructive statesmanship, 321;
    as typical Englishman, 322;
    and Revolution of 1688, 322, 323.

  Curchod, Suzanne, and Gibbon, 136.

  Curtis, G. W., on _The Nation_, 270.

  Curtius, Ernst, as historian, 34, 43.

  Dana, C. A., as journalist, historical value of articles, 31, 90.

  Darwin, C. R., biography, 59;
    truthfulness, 145.

  Dates in historical work, importance of newspapers, 87.

  Democratic party, and Cleveland's administration, 223, 226.

  Demosthenes, and Thucydides, 15.

  Desultory reading in training of historian, 64, 65, 199.

  Devens, Charles, in Hayes's cabinet, 247.

  Deyverdun, Georges, collaboration with Gibbon, 124.

  Dicey, A. V., as contributor to _The Nation_, 282, 294.

  Dictionaries, importance of quotations in, 55.

  Dingley Tariff Act, 229.

  Duff, Sir M. E. Grant, on Herodotus, 5.

  Eckermann, J. P., "Conversations with Goethe," 70-72.

  Elections, 1852, Whig nominations, Scott's stumping tour, 86, 87;
    1856, Kansas as issue, 88;
    1876, controversy, and flexibility of Constitution, 203, 219, 245;
    1896, bimetallism as issue, 228;
    attitude of Godkin, 286.

  Elizabeth, Froude and Gardiner on, 149;
    and Anglo-Saxon development, 172.

  Emerson, R. W., on originality, 28;
    on mathematics, 57;
    on philanthropists, 181;
    on _The Nation_, 270.

  England, Macaulay's history, 37, 41, 62;
    Gardiner's history, 143-150;
    Lecky's history, 154, 155;
    Walpole's history, 161, 163, 164;
    conditions in 1815, 161;
    Green's history, 171, 172;
    Alabama claims arbitration, 217;
    Venezuela-Guiana boundary, 225, 285;
    draft general arbitration treaty, 226;
    attitude of Godkin, 272, 284, 290;
    Cromwell and the Commonwealth, 317-323.

  Evarts, W. M., Secretary of State, ability, 246;
    social character, 262;
    pessimism, 288.

  _Evening Post_, acquires _The Nation_, Godkin as editor, 274.

  Evolution, and history, 4, 36.

  Executive. _See_ Civil service, Presidential office.

  Federal Constitution, English model, 203;
    rigidity and flexibility, 203, 216;
    as political tradition, 208.
    _See also_ Presidential office.

  Ferrero, Guglielmo, as historian, 75;
    on Cicero's contradictions, 290.

  Fessenden, W. P., and Whig nominations in 1852, 87.

  Fillmore, Martin, as President, 212.

  Finances, greenback craze, 219, 246, 281;
    silver agitation of 1878, 221, 259, 260;
    Silver Act of 1890, 224, 227;
    Cleveland's soundness, 225;
    attitude of Republican party on money, 227, 257;
    issue in campaign of 1896, 228, 286;
    gold standard, 231;
    depression (1877-1878), 251, 258;
    Hayes's administration, 257-260;
    Sherman's refunding, 257;
    resumption of specie payments, 258, 259;
    _The Nation_ and sound, 280-282.

  Fine arts, and training of historian, 59.

  Firth, C. H., to continue Gardiner's history, 148.

  Fish, Hamilton, and arbitration of Alabama claims, 218.

  Fiske, John, anecdote of the Websters, 54;
    as popular scientist, 58;
    power of concentration, 69.

  Footnotes, use in histories, 33.

  Ford, P. L., on writing criticisms for _The Nation_, 292.

  Foreign relations, under Washington, 206;
    under Tyler and Polk, 211;
    under Grant, 218;
    under Cleveland, 225, 285;
    under McKinley, 231-234.
    _See also_ Monroe Doctrine.

  Fourth estate, newspaper as, 96.

  Franklin, battle of, J. D. Cox in, 185.

  Frederick the Great, Carlyle's biography, 63.

  Frederick III of Germany, "wise emperor," 127.

  Freeman, E. A., on Gibbon, 109.

  French, importance to historians, 49-51;
    Gibbon's knowledge, 119, 123.

  French Revolution, Carlyle's history, 62;
    Gibbon and, 113.

  Froude, J. A., on Ulysses, 2;
    inaccuracy, 41;
    biography of Carlyle, 64;
    on Elizabeth, 143, 149.

  Gardiner, S. R., truthfulness, 7, 145;
    as historical model, 42, 45;
    lack of practical experience, 66, 148;
    method, 76;
    essay on, 143-150;
    death, 143;
    thoroughness of research, 143, 157;
    as linguist, 143;
    manuscript material, 143;
    on Carlyle's "Cromwell," 144;
    writings and editorial work, 144;
    birth, 145;
    conception of great work, 145;
    Irvingite, 146;
    struggles and success, 146, 147;
    as teacher, 147;
    honors, 147;
    day's routine, manner of composition, 147;
    style, 148;
    soundness and influence of historical estimates, 149-150;
    estimate of Cromwell, 150, 317-323;
    on J. R. Green, 172;
    on Hampden, 317;
    on character of Puritans, 318;
    on Cromwell's army, 320;
    on character of Rump, 320;
    rank as historian, 323.

  Gardner, Percy, on Herodotus, 5, 40.

  Garfield, J. A., desire for fame, 3;
    as President, 222;
    as speaker, 241.

  Garrison, W. P., as literary editor of _The Nation_, 291-295.

  Generalizations, need of care, 32, 178.

  German, importance to historians, 52.

  German historians, and ancient history, 75.

  Gibbes, R. W., destruction of collections, 312.

  Gibbon, Edward, rank and characteristics as historian, 5, 10, 109, 114;
    on Tacitus, 10, 116;
    style, 53, 133;
    and mathematics, 56;
    importance in training of historian, 60;
    autobiographies, 64, 134;
    essay on, 107-140;
    conception of history, 107;
    completion of it, 108;
    progress and success of work, 108;
    and classic masters, 110;
    range of work, 110;
    its endurance, 110;
    as possible writer of contemporary history, 111, 112;
    political career, 111;
    conservatism, 112;
    and American Revolution, 113;
    historical subjects considered by, 115;
    and earlier period of Roman Empire, 116;
    intellectual training, 117-123;
    love of reading, 118;
    at Oxford, 118;
    conversion and reconversion, 118, 121;
    at Lausanne, 119;
    self-training, 119, 122;
    linguistic knowledge, 119, 120, 122, 123;
    influence of Pascal, 119;
    and Voltaire, 121;
    on Robertson, 122;
    "Essay on Study of Literature," 123;
    service in militia, its influence, 123;
    manuscript history of Switzerland, 124;
    begins work on history, 124;
    fame rests on it, 125;
    Milman, Guizot, and Mommsen on it, 125;
    quotations from, 126-128;
    definitions of history, 126;
    on religion under Pagan empire, 126;
    on happiest period of mankind, 127;
    on corruption, 127;
    on sea-power, 127;
    subjection to criticism, 128;
    correctness, 128;
    truthfulness, 129, 130;
    use of conjecture, 129;
    precision and accuracy, 129;
    treatment of early Christian church, 131-133;
    on Julian the Apostate, 132;
    on Theodora, licentious passages, 133;
    composition of history, 134;
    love of books and wine, 135;
    gout, 135;
    and women, love affair, 136-138;
    history in quarto edition, 138;
    human importance of work, 139;
    satisfaction with career, 139.

  Gladstone, W. E., on Lecky, Carlyle, and Macaulay, 155.

  Gloucester, William Henry, Duke of, on Gibbon's history, 138.

  Godkin, E. L., power as journalist, 95;
    essay on, 267-297;
    rank as journalist, 267;
    on Greeley, 267, 268;
    illustration of influence, 268;
    character, 269;
    indirect influence, character of clientèle, 270, 271;
    authorship of articles in _The Nation_, 271;
    Essays, 272;
    early life, 272;
    early optimism and later pessimism concerning America, 272, 284-290,
    as war correspondent, 272;
    in America, journey in South, 273;
    correspondent of London _News_, 273;
    foundation of _The Nation_, 273;
    editor of _Evening Post_, 274;
    retirement, 274;
    lectures, honors, 274;
    and offer of professorship, 274-276;
    nervous strain, 275;
    accused of censorious criticism, 276;
    of unfortunate influence on intellectual youth, 277;
    influence on author, 278-282, 292-294;
    influence in West, 279;
    disinterestedness, 280;
    and civil service reform, 280;
    and sound finances, 280-282;
    and tariff, 282;
    and foreign affairs, 282;
    other phases of influence, 282;
    never retracted personal charges, 282;
    implacability, ignores death of F. A. Walker, 282-284;
    and Cleveland, 285;
    and election of 1896, 286;
    and Spanish War and Philippines, 286;
    moral censor, 289;
    criticism of England, 290;
    disappointment in democracy, 291;
    literary criticism in _The Nation_, 291-295;
    on W. P. Garrison, 291;
    influence of foreign birth, 295;
    fame, 295;
    lectureship as memorial to, 296;
    farewell words, on general progress and political decline, 296, 297.

  Goethe, J. W. von, on Molière, 50;
    on linguistic ability, 52;
    "Faust" and study of human character, 68;
    "Conversations," 70, 72;
    wide outlook, 71.

  Gold Standard Act, 231.

  Gordon, C. G., newspapers and Soudan expedition, 89.

  Gout, Gibbon on, 135.

  Grant, U. S., first cabinet, 186, 278;
    and Cox, 187;
    as President, moral tone of administration, 217-219, 262;
    on criticism, 218, 239.

  Greek, importance to historians, 51;
    Gibbon's knowledge, 120, 122, 123.

  Greek history. _See_ Herodotus, Thucydides.

  Greeley, Horace, influence as journalist,
    historical value of articles, 31, 90, 267;
    partisanship, 91; character, 268-270.

  Green, J. R., as historian, 42;
    address on, 171-173;
    popularity in America, 171;
    on Elizabeth, 172;
    accuracy, 172;
    character, 172;
    on Cromwell's army, 319.

  Greenbacks. _See_ Finances.

  Grote, George, on Thucydides, 7;
    on references, 33;
    business training, 78.

  Guizot, F. P. G., on Gibbon's history, 125.

  Hadrian, "traveling emperor," 127.

  Halleck, H. W., attitude towards Charleston, 306.

  Hamilton, Alexander, on presidential office, 204, 233, 240;
    as adviser of Washington, 207.

  Hampden, John, as possible Anglo-Saxon hero, 317;
    and Revolution of 1688, 323.

  Hampton, Wade, and burning of Columbia, 302-305, 308.

  Harrison, Benjamin, as President, 226;
    as speaker, 241.

  Harrison, Frederic, on Gibbon, 10;
    on Spencer Walpole, 165.

  Harrison, W. H., as President, 211.

  Hart, A. B., on Herodotus, 6.

  Harvard University, addresses of author at, 47, 101-103, 105, 243, 265;
    striving after exact knowledge, 101;
    honorary degree for Hayes, 251;
    offers professorship to Godkin, 274, 275;
    Godkin Lectureship, 296.

  Hawthorne, Nathaniel, conciseness, 36.

  Hay, John, anecdote of Grant, 218;
    as Secretary of State, 234;
    on Hayes and finances, 260.

  Hayes, Lucy W., as wife of President, 221, 262.

  Hayes, R. B., election controversy, 203, 219, 245;
    administration, 219-222, 245-264;
    as a prime minister, 241, 263;
    righteousness of acceptance of election, 245;
    difficulty of situation, 245, 261;
    as governor, 246;
    letter of acceptance, 246;
    inaugural, 246;
    cabinet, 246-248, 262;
    withdrawal of troops from South, 248, 249;
    and Congress, 249, 256, 257, 261;
    civil service reforms, contest with Conkling, 250, 254-257;
    honorary degree from Harvard, 251;
    and railroad riots, 253, 254;
    and finances, independent thinking, 257-260;
    vetoes of repeal of Federal election laws, 260;
    extra sessions of Congress, 261;
    serenity, 261;
    popular support, 261;
    and election of 1880, 261;
    moral tone of administration, 262;
    and Cleveland, 263.

  Herodotus, on purpose of history, 2;
    rank as historian, 5, 34, 40;
    as contemporary historian, 17.

  Higginson, T. W., on Bancroft, 294.

  Hildreth, Richard, historical value of newspaper articles, 31.

  Hill, G. B., on Gibbon's history and autobiography, 125.

  Historian, training, 49-79;
    necessary linguistic knowledge, 49-52;
    acquisition of style, 52-55;
    knowledge of mathematics, 55-57;
    of other sciences, 57-59;
    of fine arts, 59;
    general historical reading, 60-70;
    mastery of Gibbon and Bryce, 60;
    of Tacitus and Thucydides, 61;
    of other historians, 62-64;
    knowledge of lives of historians, 64;
    desultory reading, 64-65;
    study of human character, experimental and through books, 66-68;
    thorough reading of characteristic works, 68;
    speed and retention of reading, 69;
    importance of "Conversations of Goethe," 70-72;
    of Sainte-Beuve's criticisms, 72;
    choice of subject, 74;
    method, originality, 75;
    note-making, 76;
    Carlyle on method, 77;
    remuneration, 77;
    and teaching of history, 78;
    and business training, 78.
    _See also_ next two titles.

  Historians, Shakespeare and Homer as, 1, 2, 7;
    advantages and disadvantages of present-day, 4, 20;
    best, 5, 11;
    Herodotus, 5, 17, 34, 40;
    Thucydides, 6-8, 11-15, 17-19, 35, 61, 110, 111, 128;
    Tacitus, 8-10, 15, 17-20, 61, 110, 111, 116, 128;
    Gibbon, 10, 60, 107-140;
    conciseness, 11, 14, 16, 20, 36;
    source material, 12-16, 20, 22;
    contemporaneousness, 17-20;
    necessary qualities, 20;
    monographs, 22;
    patriotism, 22;
    necessity and kinds of originality, 27-29, 75;
    use of newspapers, 29-32, 83-97;
    generalizations, 32, 178;
    use of footnotes, 33;
    fresh combination of well-known facts, 34;
    present-day models, 34-43;
    reflection, 37;
    enthusiasm, 38;
    Macaulay, 36-38, 41, 62;
    Carlyle, 38, 41, 62;
    old and new schools, ethical judgments, human interest, 39, 43-45;
    Hume, Robertson, Alison, 40;
    Froude, 41;
    Green, 42, 171-173;
    Stubbs, 42, 157;
    Gardiner, 42, 143-150, 157, 323;
    and popularity, 44;
    growth of candor, 45;
    Bryce, 60, 61;
    use of manuscript material, 85, 294;
    gospel of exact knowledge, 101;
    Lecky, 153-158;
    Spencer Walpole, 161-167;
    E. L. Pierce, 177-181;
    J. D. Cox, 187;
    E. G. Bourne, 191-200;
    Bancroft, 294.
    _See also_ titles above and below.

  History, intellectual rank, 1;
    and poetry, 1, 2;
    and physical sciences, 2;
    definitions, 2, 6, 43, 126;
    homage of politicians, 3;
    and evolution, 4, 36;
    newspapers as source, 29-32, 83-97;
    value of manuscript sources, 85, 294.
    _See also_ two titles above.

  Hoar, E. R., in Grant's cabinet, 186, 278;
    and _The Nation_, 278.

  Holm, Adolf, on Thucydides, 39;
    on scientific history, 43; as historian, 75.

  Holst, H. E. von, use of newspapers, 29, 85;
    on westward expansion and slavery, 212.

  Home rule, Lecky's attitude, 156.

  Homer, as historian, 1, 2, 22;
    and study of human character, 67.

  House of Representatives. See Congress.

  Howard, O. O., at burning of Columbia, 302, 307, 311, 312.

  Howells, W. D., pessimism, 288.

  Hugo, Victor, influence, 73.

  Hume, David, present-day reputation, 40, 111;
    on Gibbon's history of Switzerland, 124.

  Huxley, T. H., as popular scientist, 58;
    biography, 59;
    on things useful, 102;
    on college training, 102.

  Income tax decision, Lecky on, 157.

  Ireland, Lecky's history, 155.

  Jackson, Andrew, as President, 209-211;
    as leader of democracy, 209;
    and spoils system, 209;
    and training for administrative work, 210;
    and nullification, 210.

  James, Henry, on Sainte-Beuve, 73.

  James, T. L., as postmaster of New York, 254.

  James, William, on Godkin, 270.

  Jay Treaty, as precedent for treaty-making power, 206.

  Jebb, Sir R. C., on Herodotus, 6, 17;
    on Tacitus, 10;
    on Thucydides, 17.

  Jefferson, Thomas, as President, 207, 208;
    Louisiana Purchase, 208.

  Johnson, Andrew, as President, 216.

  Johnson, Samuel, on American Revolution, 113.

  Johnston, J. E., Hayes desires to offer cabinet position to, 247.

  Journalists, Godkin, 267-297.
    _See also_ Newspapers.

  Jowett, Benjamin, on Thucydides, 6.

  Julian the Apostate, Gibbon's treatment, 132.

  Kansas, and election of 1856, 88.

  Kent, James, on danger in presidential contests, 219.

  Key, D. M., in Hayes's cabinet, 247.

  Kinglake, A. W., on power of press, 89.

  Laboulaye, Édouard, on Federal Constitution, 204.

  Langlois, C. V., on Froude, 41;
    on ethical judgments, 43;
    on note-making, 76.

  Latin, importance to historians, 49, 51, 54;
    Gibbon's knowledge, 120, 123.

  Laud, William, Macaulay and Gardiner on, 149.

  Lausanne, Gibbon at, 108, 113, 119, 121;
    Voltaire's theatre, 121.

  Lea, H. C., business training, 79;
    as scientific historian, 103.

  Lecky, W. E. H., and Christianity, 131;
    essay on, 153-158;
    precocity, 153;
    value of "Morals," 153;
    intellectual training, 153;
    as philosophic historian, 154;
    "England," 154, 155;
    on French Revolution, 155;
    on Irish history, 155;
    in politics, 156;
    popularity of history, 156;
    social traits, 156;
    interest in America, 157;
    historic divination, 158;
    "Democracy and Liberty," 158.

  Lewis, Sir George Cornewall, on power of press, 96.

  Lincoln, Abraham, as President, 213-216;
    theory and action of war power, 213;
    as a precedent, 214;
    popular support, 215;
    and public opinion, 231;
    as a prime minister, 241.

  Linguistic ability, importance to historians, 49-52;
    Gibbon's, 133;
    Gardiner's, 143.

  Literary criticism in _The Nation_, 291-295.

  Literary style, acquisition by historian, 52-55;
    Macaulay's, 55;
    Gibbon's, 133;
    Gardiner's, 148;
    Spencer Walpole's, 165.

  Lodge, H. C., in the House, 227.

  Logan, J. A., at burning of Columbia, 303, 311, 312.

  London _Daily News_, Godkin as American correspondent, 273.

  Long Parliament, character of rump, 320.

  Louisiana, purchase as precedent, 208;
    overthrow of carpet-bag government, 248, 249.

  Lowell, J. R., on present-day life, 21;
    on Carlyle, 39;
    on college training, 102;
    on Darwin, 145;
    on Grant's cabinet, 186;
    on _The Nation_, 268, 271, 278;
    on importance of Godkin to it, 275.

  Macaulay, Lord, on Shakespeare as historian, 2;
    on Herodotus, 5;
    prolixity, 11, 16, 36;
    on Thucydides, 19, 61;
    lack of reflection and digestion, 37;
    enthusiasm, 38;
    as partisan, 41;
    and popularity, 44;
    on Greek and Latin, 51;
    style, 55;
    on mathematics, 56;
    importance in training of historian, 62;
    biography, 64;
    as reader, 69;
    on Gibbon, 115;
    on Wentworth and Laud, 149;
    Gladstone on, 155;
    on Cromwell, 318;
    on character of Puritans, 318;
    on Cromwell's army, 319;
    Auckland on agreeing with, 323.

  McCrary, G. W., in Hayes's cabinet, 247.

  McKim, J. M., and foundation of _The Nation_, 273, 274.

  McKinley, William, as leader of House, 227;
    tariff bill, 227;
    as President, 229-234;
    change in tariff views, 229-231;
    and gold standard, 231;
    and public opinion, Spanish War and Philippines, 231-234;
    diplomacy, 234;
    influence on Congress, 234;
    as speaker, 241;
    attitude of Godkin, 286.

  Mackintosh, Sir James, on irreligion of Gibbon's time, 132.

  Madison, James, as President, 207.

  Mahaffy, J. P., on Herodotus, 5;
    on Thucydides, 8.

  Mahan, A. T., anticipation of theory, 127.

  Maine, Sir Henry, on Federal Constitution, 203, 206.

  Manuscript sources, value, 85, 91, 294;
    Gardiner's use, 143, 144.

  Massachusetts Historical Society, papers by author before, 141, 151,
      159, 175, 183, 189, 315;
    recognition of Gardiner, 147;
    of Lecky, 156;
    interest of E. L. Pierce in, 181;
    E. G. Bourne and editorship of publications, 199.

  Mathematics, and training of historian, 55-57.

  Matthews, William, on _The Nation_, 278, 279.

  Merritt, E. A., appointment by Hayes, 255.

  Mexican War, aggression, 212;
    and slavery, 212.

  Mill, J. S., and mathematics, 56;
    prodigy, 56.

  Milligan case, and arbitrary government, 215.

  Milman, H. H., on Gibbon's history, 125, 139.

  Milton, John, on books, 60.

  Molière, importance to historians, 49.

  Mommsen, Theodor, on Gibbon, 11, 125;
    as scientific historian, 43.

  Money. _See_ Finances.

  Monographs, use by general historians, 22.

  Monroe, James, as President, 207, 209.

  Monroe Doctrine, and Philippines, 195;
    and development of presidential office, 209.

  Montesquieu, Gibbon on, 119.

  Morison, J. A. Cotter, on Gibbon, 131.

  Morley, John, on Macaulay, 16, 38, 55;
    on Cicero and Voltaire, 51.

  Morrill, J. S., and Hayes's New York Custom-house appointments, 255.

  Morris, Gouverneur, and framing of Constitution, 204.

  Morse, C. F., on feeling in Union army towards South Carolina, 307.

  Motley, J. L., best work, 68;
    advice to historians, 74, 75;
    and manuscript sources, 86, 91;
    Bourne's unfinished biography, 196.

  _Nation_, as historical source, 95;
    J. D. Cox as contributor, 187;
    circulation, 270;
    foundation, 273;
    weekly edition of _Evening Post_, 274.
    _See also_ Godkin.

  Necker, Mme. _See_ Curchod.

  Negro suffrage, opposition of J. D. Cox, 186.

  Nerva, as "gray emperor," 127.

  "New English Dictionary," importance of quotations in, 55.

  New York Custom-house, Hayes's reforms and appointments, 254.

  _New York Weekly Tribune_, influence, 31, 90, 91, 267.
    _See also_ Greeley.

  Newspapers, as historical sources, 29-32, 83-97;
    use by Von Holst, 29;
    as registers of facts, 30, 86-89;
    importance for dates, 30, 87;
    as guide of public opinion, 31, 89-92;
    power of _New York Weekly Tribune_, 31, 90, 91, 267-269;
    qualities of evidence, 83, 84;
    value in American history, for period 1850-1860, 85-92;
    and correction of logical assumptions, 87-89;
    as record of speeches and letters, 89;
    value of partisanship, 91;
    value of Northern, for Civil War period, 92, 93;
    of Southern, 93;
    laboriousness of research, 93;
    value for Reconstruction, 94;
    canons of use, 96;
    as fourth estate, 96;
    criticisms of Presidents, 239.
    _See also Nation_.

  Niebuhr, B. G., on Gibbon, 10, 109;
    on training of historian, 29.

  North, Sir Thomas, translation of Plutarch, 1.

  Norton, C. E., on Godkin, 270;
    and foundation of _The Nation_, 273, 274.

  Note-making in historical work, 76.

  Nullification, Jackson's course, 210.

  "Official Records of Union and Confederate armies," value as
    historical source, 92.

  "Ohio idea," 259.

  Oliver, J. M., at burning of Columbia, 313.

  Olmsted, F. L., Godkin on Southern books, 273;
    interest in _The Nation_, 274;
    on importance of Godkin to it, 275.

  Olney, Richard, draft general arbitration treaty, 226.

  Originality in history, 27-29, 34, 75.

  Oxford University, address of author at, 169.

  Pacific Coast, Goethe's prophecy, 71.

  Packard, S. B., overthrow of government, 248, 249.

  Palmerston, Lord, Spencer Walpole's estimate, 164.

  Panama Canal, Goethe's prophecy, 72.

  Paper money. _See_ Finances.

  Parkman, Francis, originality, 28;
    best work, 68;
    remuneration, 78;
    national pride in, 102;
    and religion, 131;
    on _The Nation_, 270, 295.

  Partisanship, historical value of newspaper, 83, 91.

  Pascal, Blaise, influence on Gibbon, 119.

  Pasteur, Louis, biography, 59.

  Patriotism in historians, 22.

  Pericles, funeral oration, 18, 23.

  Philippines, annexation and Monroe Doctrine, 195;
    McKinley's attitude, 233;
    Godkin's attitude, 286.

  Physical sciences, and history, 2;
    and training of historian, 55-59.

  Pierce, E. L., essay on, 177-181;
    biography of Sumner, 177-179;
    as politician and citizen, 179, 181;
    historic sense, 179;
    character, 180;
    interest in Massachusetts Historical Society, 181.

  Pierce, Franklin, as President, 213.

  Pike, J. S., historical value of newspaper articles, 31.

  Pittsburg, railroad riot of 1877, 252, 253.

  Pliny the Younger, on Tacitus, 9.

  Plutarch, North's translation, 1;
    on Thucydides, 19.

  Poetry, and history, 1.

  Politics, Godkin on decline, 296, 297.
  _See also_ Civil service, Congress, Elections, Newspapers,
    Presidential office, and parties by name.

  Polk, J. K., as President, 211.

  Polybius, as historian, 6.

  Popularity, and historical writing, 44.

  Presidential office, essay on, 203-241;
    flexibility of powers and duties, 204;
    under Washington, control of treaties, 205-207;
    John Adams to J. Q. Adams, extension of power, 207-209;
    and annexations, 208;
    and Monroe Doctrine, 209;
    under Jackson, era of vulgarity, spoils system, 209-211;
    Van Buren to Buchanan, annexations and slavery, 211-213;
    period of weakness, 213;
    under Lincoln, war power, 213-216;
    under Johnson, nadir, 216;
    and cabinet government, 217, 240, 263;
    under Grant, 217-219, 262;
    veto power, 219;
    Kent on dangers in elections, 219;
    contested election of 1876, 219, 254;
    under Hayes, 220-222, 245-264;
    under Garfield, civil service reform, 222;
    under Arthur, 222;
    under Cleveland, advance in power, 223-226;
    under Harrison, 226-228;
    under McKinley, 229-234;
    and public opinion, 231-234;
    character of Roosevelt, 235;
    business, interruptions and their remedy, 236-239;
    appointments, number of presidential offices, 236;
    contact with Congress, 237;
    criticisms, 238-240;
    success of system, 240-241.

  Pritchett, H. S., on McKinley and Philippines, 233.

  Public opinion, newspapers as guide, 31, 89-92;
    backing of Lincoln's extra-legal actions, 215;
    influence on Presidents, 231-234.

  Puritans, Macaulay and Gardiner on character, 318.

  Pym, John, and Revolution of 1688, 323.

  Railroad riots, 1894, Cleveland and use of Federal troops, 225;
    1877, cause, 251;
    strike and conflicts, 253;
    use of Federal troops, 253;
    social alarm, 254;
    conduct of Hayes, 254.

  Ranke, Leopold von, "England," 143.

  Raymond, H. J., power as journalist, 90.

  Reading, desultory, 64, 65, 199;
    facility and retention, 69;
    note-making, 76.

  Reconstruction, newspapers as historical source, 94, 95;
    J. D. Cox's opposition to negro suffrage, 186;
    failure, final withdrawal of troops, 248, 249;
    attitude of _The Nation_, 282.

  Reed, T. B., and power of Speaker, 227.

  Reflection in historical work, 37.

  Reform act of 1832, Lord John Russell's introduction, 162.

  Religion, Gibbon on, under Pagan empire, 126;
    Gibbon's treatment of early Christian church, 131-133.

  Republican party, newspapers as record of formation, 90;
    and sound money, 227, 257.

  Resumption of specie payments, opposition and success, 258, 259.

  Revolution of 1688, question of Cromwell's influence, 322, 323.

  Riots. _See_ Railroad.

  Robertson, William, present-day reputation, 40, 111;
    Gibbon on, 122.

  Rome. _See_ Gibbon, Tacitus.

  Roosevelt, Theodore, character, 235;
    routine as President, 236, 238.

  Ropes, J. C., as military historian, 13.

  _Round Table_, character, 279.

  Rousseau, J. J., on Gibbon as lover, 137.

  Russell, Lord John, and Reform Act of 1832, 162;
    Spencer Walpole's biography, 162.

  Sainte-Beuve, C. A., style, 53;
    on desultory reading, 65;
    on biographies of Goethe, 72;
    as critic, 72;
    on Gibbon, 114, 123;
    on Tacitus, 128.

  Salisbury, Lord, Godkin on, 290.

  Santa Maria in Ara Coeli, Bambino, 107;
    connection with Gibbon, 107.

  Schofield, J. M., on J. D. Cox, 185.

  Schouler, William, power as journalist, 90.

  Schurz, Carl, on history as profession, 78;
    criticism of Cleveland's Venezuelan policy, 239;
    in Ohio campaign of 1875, 246;
    Secretary of Interior, ability, 247;
    with Hayes at Harvard commencement, 251;
    and civil service reform, 256;
    social character, 262;
    as editor of _Evening Post_, 274;
    and greenback inflation, 281.

  Scott, Winfield, presidential campaign, 86, 87.

  Sea-power, Gibbon on, 127.

  Senate. _See_ Congress.

  Seward, W. H., and arbitrary arrests, 214.

  Shakespeare, William, as historian, 1, 7, 22;
    conciseness, 36;
    and study of human character, 67.

  Shaw, Bernard, on reality of Shakespeare's characters, 67.

  Sheffield, Lord, sends wine to Gibbon, 135.

  Sherman, John, and Silver Bill of 1878, 221, 259, 260;
    on contact of President and Congress, 237;
    in Ohio campaign of 1875, 246;
    Secretary of Treasury, ability, 247, 258;
    refunding, 258;
    abused for depression, specie resumption, 258, 259;
    social character, 263;
    and greenback inflation, 281.

  Sherman, W. T., and Hayes's suggestion of war portfolio for General
      Johnston, 247;
    and burning of Columbia, 301-313.

  Sicilian expedition, Thucydides's account, 19, 61.

  Silver. _See_ Finances.

  Slavery, and westward expansion, 212.

  Source material, use by Thucydides and Tacitus, 12-16;
    modern, 20, 22;
    newspapers, 29-32, 83-97;
    manuscript, 85, 91, 143, 294.

  South Carolina, overthrow of carpet-bag government, 248;
    feeling of Union army towards, 306.

  Spanish War, newspapers and cause, 89;
    McKinley's course, 233;
    attitude of Godkin, 286.

  Speaker of House of Representatives, power, 227.

  _Spectator_, on McKinley's diplomacy, 234.

  Spedding, James, Gardiner on, 145.

  Spencer, Herbert, on aim of education, 77;
    on age as factor in evidence, 85;
    Bryce on, 293.

  Spoils system. _See_ Civil service.

  Staël, Madame de, parents, 137;
    on Gibbon, 137 n.

  "Stalwarts," origin of name, 249.

  Stanton, E. M., and arbitrary arrests, 214.

  Stephens, H. M., on French Revolution, 155.

  Stone, G. A., at burning of Columbia, 302, 310, 311.

  Story, Joseph, on presidential character, 235.

  Stubbs, William, as historian, 42, 69, 157.

  Suffrage, Godkin on universal, 296.
    _See also_ Negro.

  Sumner, Charles, style, 53.

  Switzerland, Gibbon's manuscript history, 124.

  Tacitus, rank as historian, 5;
    characteristics as historian, 8-10, 128;
    conciseness, 11, 16;
    use of source material, 15;
    as contemporary historian, 17, 19, 111;
    on history, 43;
    importance in training of historian, 61;
    Gibbon on, 116;
    on censure, 276.

  Taine, H. A., use of journals, 83.

  Tariff, Cleveland's attitude, 225;
    McKinley Act, 227;
    Dingley Act, 229;
    McKinley's change of opinion, 229-231;
    _The Nation_ and protection, 282.

  Taylor, Zachary, as President, 212.

  Texan annexation, 211; and slavery, 212.

  Thackeray, W. M., on Macaulay, 38.

  Theodora, Gibbon's treatment, 133.

  Thompson, R. W., in Hayes's cabinet, 247.

  Thucydides, rank as historian, 5;
    on history, 6;
    characteristics as historian, 6-8, 39, 128;
    conciseness, 11, 14, 16, 36;
    use of personal sources material, 12-14;
    as contemporary historian, 17, 111;
    importance in training of historian, 61.

  Thurman, A. G., and greenback inflation, 281.

  Ticknor, George, pessimism, 288.

  Tilden, S. J., election controversy, 203, 219, 245.

  Tocqueville, Alexis de, style, 65;
    on presidential office, 210.

  Trajan, "wise emperor," 127.

  Treaty-making power, Jay Treaty as precedent, 206.

  Trent, W. P., on burning of Columbia, 302.

  Trevelyan, Sir G. O., biography of Macaulay, 64.

  Tyler, John, as President, 211, 212.

  Tyndall, John, as popular scientist, 58.

  Ulysses, and study of human character, 67.

  United States, Goethe's prophecy of westward extension and Panama
      Canal, 71;
    political traditions, 208;
    Godkin's early optimism and later pessimism concerning, 272,
      284-290, 296;
    Godkin on general progress and political decline, 296.
    _See also_ American, Finances, Newspapers, Politics.

  Universities, strife after exact knowledge, 101;
    advantages and aim of training, 102.

  Vallandigham case, Lincoln's attitude, 214.

  Van Buren, Martin, as President, 211.

  Venezuela-Guiana boundary, Cleveland's action, 225
    Godkin's attitude, 285.

  Veto power, wisdom, 219.

  Voltaire, importance to historians, 51;
    theatre at Lausanne, 121;
    and Gibbon, 121.

  Walker, F. A., career, 283;
    _The Nation_ ignores death of, 283, 284.

  Walpole, Sir Spencer, essay on, 161-167;
    "England," 161, 163, 164;
    biography of Lord John Russell, 162;
    knowledge of men, 164;
    of continental politics, 164;
    "Studies in Biography," 164;
    knowledge of practical politics, 165;
    as man of affairs, 165;
    style, 165;
    visit to, character, 165-167;
    death, 167.

  War power, exemplification by Lincoln, 213-216.

  Warner, C. D., on originality in style, 27.

  Washington, George, as President, 205-207;
    prescience, 206;
    as political tradition, 208.

  Webb, J. W., power as journalist, 90.

  Webster, Daniel, basis of style, 53, 54;
    and presidential nomination in 1852, 86.

  Weed, Thurlow, power as journalist, 90.

  Wells, H. G., on Boston, 138.

  Wentworth, Thomas, Macaulay and Gardiner on, 149.

  West Virginia, railroad riots of 1877, 252.

  Western Reserve University, lecture by author at, 47.

  Wheeler, Joseph, lootings by his cavalry at Columbia, 309.

  Whig party, nominations in 1852, 86.

  Whitman, Marcus, Bourne's essay on, 193.

  William I of Germany, "gray emperor," 127.

  William II of Germany, "traveling emperor," 127.

  Windom, William, and Hayes's New York Custom-house appointments, 255.

  Wine, Gibbon's love for, 135.

  Winthrop, R. C., on E. L. Pierce, 179.

  Woods, C. R., at burning of Columbia, 303, 311, 312.

  Woods, W. B., at burning of Columbia, 311.

  Woolsey, T. D., on Thucydides, 39.

  Yale University, lecture by author at, 47.

This Index was made for me by D. M. Matteson.

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