Historical Studies. -- By: B. Sears

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:11 (Aug 1846)
Article: Historical Studies.
Author: B. Sears


Historical Studies.

Rev. B. Sears

D. D. President of Theol. Institution, Newton.

1. Grundzüge der Historik von G. G. Gervinus, Leipzig, 1837.

2. Lectures on Modern History, by Thomas Arnold, D. D. with an Introduction and Notes by Prof. Henry Reed, New York, 1845.

We have placed these two works at the head of the present article, not for the purpose of making them the subject of a critical examination and review, but rather as indicating the general topic on which we propose to remark. The study of history and the historical art itself are beginning to receive from our countrymen a larger and more just share of attention, while in Europe men of the profoundest erudition, and of the most exalted genius and talents, are consecrating themselves to the cultivation of this department of knowledge. Examples are numerous, but it is unnecessary to cite them. The most careless observer of the literature of the age, must have noticed that, among the more substan-

tial and magnificent works which are issued from the press in England, France and Germany, those of a historical character hold a conspicuous place. This circumstance suggests the propriety of our devoting a little space to the consideration of the qualifications and labors of the historian, with some observations on the importance of this branch of study in general.

That investigation should precede historical composition, though a truism, has often been regarded as untrue. Of those who have undertaken the sacred office of historian many are found who have neither the means nor the inclination for historical research. Secondary sources of information are all that they seek, and in the use of these they are, too often, not over scrupulous. The consequence of this abuse is that, among intelligent readers, history having lost its freshness, has ceased to awaken general interest; and the only wonder is that the disgust has not been greater. Writers of this description seem not to have been aware, or if aware, not heedful of the boggy nature of the soil in some of the tracts over which they have travelled, or rather flown, nor of the rich mines that lie scarcely beneath the surface, in others. Nothing is more ludicrous than the gravity with which fables are sometimes set forth as veritable history, or more contemptible than the stupid indifference with which, at other times, things of intensest interest, lying, too, directly in the path of the historian, are unheeded, as the remains of ancient art are by the self-satisfied Turk. Most of our compends of general history are, for this reason, unworthy of the place which they occupy, and many a larger work, of respectability, would poorly abide th...

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