The Library of History

Page 657

Page 657


THose who stuff their Histories with long and tedious Harangues, or are everand anon setting forth their Matter with Rhetorical Orations; are, not without just Cause to be blam'd. For besides, that it interrupts and cuts off the natural Course of the History, by an unseasonable Introduction of set and contriv'd Speeches, it likewise gives an unpleasant Check to the earnest Expectation of such as are eager to know the Issue of the Matters of Fact. Yet it's no ways to be disapprov'd for such as desire to be cry'd up for Eloquent Orators, to compose publick Orations and Speeches made by Ambassadors, and Panegyricks of Praise and Dispraise, and such like. For they that manage both Parts well and distinctly in a modest Stile, are justly to be prais'd and commended in both kinds of the Discourse. But there are some who so over-abound in Rhetorical Flourishes, that they make their whole History but as an Appendix (as it were to the other). For such tedious manner of Writing, is not only troublesome, but in this respect likewise is to be condemn'd, That although the Writer seem in other things to have hit the Mark, yet by this kind of Writing he seems to straggle and wander from the due Course both of Time and Place: And therefore they who read such sort of Writings, partly pass over such artificial and fram'd Discourses, though they are never so pat and fit to the Purpose; and partly tir'd out with the tedious and unseasonable artificial Digression of the Author, leave off reading altogether. For the Nature of History is simple, and in every part agreeable to it self, like to the Body of a living Creature, where the Cutting off of one Member is the Deformity of the whole. On the other side, that which is duly and orderly Compos'd, keeps within its proper Bounds, and the Coherence of the Whole, affords a clear and pleasant View and Understanding of the Matter in the Reading.

However, we do not altogether abandon Rhetorick and Oratorical Flourishes out of History: For because it ought to be adorn'd with Variety, its absolutely necessary in some Places to insert these Speeches and Orations. And I my self would not be depriv'd of making use of them upon such Occasions; and therefore when the Circumstances of the Matter related are such as that the Speech of an Ambassador, or the Harangue of a popular Senator, or the like, fall in naturally and easily, he that does not then put himself forth to the utmost in this kind, deserves justly to be Censur'd and Condemn'd.

A Man may be able to give many Reasons why Rhetorical Adornments are often to be made use of. For amongst quaint and eloquent Discourses, such asare worthy remark, and bring Profit and Advantage along with them together with the History, are by no means negligently to be pass'd over: Or when the Subject treated of is high and lofty, of things Famous and Remarkable, then it's very unbecoming, and not in the least to be endur'd, that the manner of Expression should sink meanly below the greatness of the Acts related. It may be likewise necessary when some extraordinary Event happens, so as that we are forc'd to make use of words adapted to the Occasion, in order to clear up and make plain the dark and intricate Grounds and Reasons of such an Accident. But what we have said of these things shall suffice, and we shall now proceed to the Relation of those Affairs we before design'd, first observing the Time, where we are now fallen in the Course of our History. In the former Books we have treated of the Affairs both of the Greeks and Barbarians from the most ancient Times, till the Tear next preceding the Expedition of Agathocles into Africa: From the Sacking of Troy to which time, arerun up Eight hundred fourscore and three Years, and something more. In this Book we shall go on with things next in Course, and coherent with the former Relation, and begin with the Descent of Agathocles into Africa, and end with that year wherein the Kings agreed to join together in a Common War against Antigonus, the Son of Philip, comprehending the Transactions of Nine years.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books