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JULY, 1856.


ART. I.-An Enquiry into the Credibility of the Early Roman
History. By the Right Hon. Sir GEORGE CORNEWALL
LEWIS, Bart. Two Vols. London: 1855.

AMONG the wide circle of historical readers, there are few
who follow with satisfaction, and some who even repudiate
with impatience, investigations into the evidence on which the
narrative before them rests. Such investigations they regard
as the special duty of the author. They desire only to know
the results, set forth in a luminous and attractive manner, with
suitable reflections. If they are perusing an animated narrative
-adjusted to their notions of probability in respect to the
succession of events, and accommodated to their ethical and
aesthetical sentiments in its appreciation of characters and
situations they willingly hail the matter as so much added
to their previous knowledge. A moderate show of references
suffices to make them presume that the author has collated
the necessary evidence and elicited from it a true or credible
history. No such presumption indeed will arise, if he con-
tradicts their notions of probability, or adopts canons of ethical
and aesthetical appreciation departing from theirs-if he de-
scribes sequences to them unexpected, or introduces super-
natural forces on occasions which they deem inappropriate-
if he disparages persons and institutions admirable in their eyes.
The shock to their feelings will then certainly raise doubts,
may perhaps provoke to examination of the original autho-
rities. But except under such a stimulus, the idea of mistrust-
ing the sufficiency of the author's proofs is one which neither
suggests itself spontaneously to them, nor finds ready admission





when suggested by others. The degree to which an historian can count upon easy faith, depends upon the pre-established harmony of sentiment between him and his readers, enforced by his own powers of style and exposition.

Both the appreciating sentiments, and the received measure of internal credibility, vary materially from age to age, and from nation to nation: but subject to this condition, the description above given applies to historical readers generally. For the large majority of them, indeed, the fact cannot be otherwise. They have no time-to pass over other disqualifications-even for hearing all the distinct matters of proof; much less for weighing and comparing them, for hunting out what may have been overlooked, or for studying the process of combination and elimination which the historian's task requires from him. Such labour must be performed by one or a few for the benefit of many. And the security which the many possess for its being faithfully performed, arises not so much from their own demand, as from the emulation and competition of historical students themselves. The probability of eventual animadversion, from a few censors themselves conversant with the original sources, is a motive almost indispensable to keep the historian up to the proper pitch, throughout his long and often irksome preparations. By such censorship the comparison of his narrative with the sum total of attainable evidence becomes forced upon general readers, little disposed of themselves to originate the question. The analytical or dissecting process of criticism serves as a valuable control on the synthetical and constructive effort of the historian; who, however conscientious, is under temptation to aim too exclusively at those charms of pictorial execution without which large popularity is hardly attainable.

Of this analytical process, the work of Sir George Lewis, now before us, affords an admirable specimen. It exhibits a complete and intelligent mastery of the original authorities — a full knowledge of what has been done by former critics, with an equitable spirit of appreciation towards them,-and a familiarity with historical research, modern as well as ancient. It is full of copious illustration from the kindred subject of Grecian antiquity. While rich in premises, it is sparing in conclusions, and strictly exigent as to sufficiency of proof-the work of one who, though seeking earnestly for truth, is not ashamed to confess that he cannot find it, and to rest in such acknowledgment of ignorance, where there is no evidence, at once literal and cogent, to enforce some positive affirmation. We recognise in Sir George Lewis the precise antithesis of that vehement impulse of divination, confident alike both in belief and in disbelief, which so often carried away the vigorous intel

lect of Niebuhr. If indeed there be any single purpose, prominent and peculiar, in a work of so much breadth and learning as this Enquiry,' it is to protest against the Niebuhrian licence of substitution and reconstruction. The book is not, and does not profess to be, a history of Rome; but we are mistaken if it does not tend to influence materially the composition of future Roman histories. Like the critical philosophy of Kant, as contrasted with the antecedent dogmatic philosophy of Leibnitz and Wolf-it is a magazine of arms on the negative side of the question. The historian will find brought before him, more fully than in any previous work, the problems with which he has to grapple-the means of solving them, and the amount of success hitherto attained by employing those means; lastly, the contradictions and inconsistencies which the original authorities, scanty as they are, present in abundance.

Sir George Lewis reviews the Roman history from its earliest times down to the fall of the Republic, about forty years before the Christian era. Upon the subsequent events during the Empire, he does not touch. Counting upwards from the fall of the Republic to the received date of the capture of Troy and the migration of Eneas, there was a space of about 1140 years. Through this long antiquity Augustus and his contemporaries looked up to Æneas and the exiles from Troy, mythical ancestors of the Julian and other great Roman families. The series of years is here distributed into several periods, with the evidences, primary or secondary, discordant or harmonious, indicated and appreciated.

In writing a history of Rome, the historian must necessarily begin from the beginning; and the difficulty is, in this as well as in other inquiries, to find a beginning. He must grope his way for some time nearly in the dark, until at length he emerges into twilight, and into a slowly improving daylight. In the process of criticism this order is reversed. Sir George Lewis takes his point of departure from the latest period. Proceeding backward from the fall of the Republic to the invasion of Italy by Pyrrhus in 281 B. C., he exhibits a full catalogue of the historical productions of the Roman world during the last two centuries before the Christian era.

The catalogue is a very respectable one; and though nearly all the works are lost, we have notices remaining which inform us of their general contents and style of execution. Julius Cæsar and Sallust, comparatively recent as they are, must be named as the oldest Roman writers from whom any entire historical compositions remain. Livy was born B. C. 59, and died at the age of seventy-six. His history extended from the

earliest times of Rome to the death of Drusus, nine years before the Christian era. Between him and Cato the Censor (the earliest Roman historian who composed in his own language, about 150 B.C.) the following historians are known to us by name and by a few fragments:-Calpurnius Piso Frugi, Cassius Hemina, Caius Fannius, L. Attius, Caius Sempronius Tuditanus, Lucius Caelius Antipater, Cnæus Gellius, Sextus Gellius, Aulus Gellius, Clodius Licinus, Publius Sempronius Asellio, Marcus Emilius Scaurus, Publius Rutilius Rufus, Quintus Lutatius Catulus, Caius Licinius Macer, Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius, Quintus Valerius Antias, Lucius Otacilius Pilitus, Lucius Cornelius Sylla, Lucius Cornelius Sisenna, Quintus Ælius Tubero, &c.

Besides these and other historians in the Latin language, there were several Romans, some of illustrious position, who composed historical works in Greek. Among them were the two earliest of all Roman historians-Quintus Fabius Pictor and Lucius Cincius Alimentus, both of them in high public position and active service throughout the Second Punic War. Cincius was even taken prisoner by Hannibal, from whom he learnt various facts afterwards reported in his history.

Ennius (B. C. 239-169) and Nævius, a generation older, though poets, are also historical witnesses. Ennius, the first composer of hexameter verses in Latin, wrote a sort of metrical chronicle, called Annales,' of the affairs of Rome from Romulus and Remus down to his own time. Nævius wrote a similar chronicle of the First Punic War (in which he had himself served), employing the native Latin metre, Saturnian verse.

Passing to Greeks-the life of Polybius is comprised between B. C. 210-120, and his forty books of universal history (of which only five remain entire) included the period from B. C. 220 down to B. C. 146, the date of the capture of Carthage and Corinth, which events Polybius witnessed. Sosilus and Silenus, contemporary with and companions of Hannibal, wrote histories of the Second Punic War. Philinus of Agrigentum described the First Punic War, with which he was contemporary, in a spirit blamed by Polybius as unfair towards the Romans. Lastly, both Hieronymus of Cardia and Timaeus of Tauromenium, contemporaries of Pyrrhus, described his war against the Romans. Indeed Pyrrhus himself seems to have composed memoirs of his own operations.

These are the earliest portions of Roman affairs, described by historians either actually or nearly contemporaneous. Besides these histories, there existed in the last two centuries of the

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