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REVIEWS OF BOOKS
GENERAL BOOKS AND BOOKS OF ANCIENT HISTORY
Taylor, The Science of Jurisprudence.
Reich, General History of Western Nations, I., II., by Professor G. W. Botsford
Déchelette, Manuel d'Archéologie Préhistorique, I., by Professor F. N. Robinson
BOOKS OF Medieval and MODERN EUROPEAN HISTORY
Maitland, Constitutional History of England, by Professor G. B. Adams..
Shield and Lang, The King over the Water, by Dr. J. P. Warren.
Corbett, England in the Seven Years' War, by T. W. Riker.
Egerton, Historical Geography of the British Colonies, vol. V., pt. II., by Professor Adam Shortt Documents Inédits sur l'Histoire Économique de la Révolution, by Professor J. H. Robinson 350 Benn, Modern England
Cromer, Modern Egypt, by the Right Hon. James Bryce
BOOKS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
MacNutt, Letters of Cortes
Channing, History of the United States, II.
Cushing, Writings of Samuel Adams, IV.
Hunt, John C. Calhoun, by Dr. Frederic Bancroft
Johnson, Stephen A. Douglas, by Professor F. H. Hodder.
Phillips, History of Transportation in the Eastern Cotton Belt
Coolidge, The United States as a World Power, by Professor A. S. Hershey
The American Historical Association supplies the REVIEW to all its members; the Executive Council of the Association elects members of the Board of Editors.
Correspondence in regard to contributions to the REVIEW may be sent to the Managing Editor, Professor J. F. Jameson, Carnegie Institution, Washington, D. C., or to the Board of Editors. Books for review may be sent to the Managing Editor. Subscriptions should be sent to The Macmillan Company, 41 North Queen St., Lancaster, Pa., or 66 Fifth Ave., New York. The price of subscription, to persons who are not members of the American Historical Association, is four dollars a year; single numbers are sold Back numbers or volumes of for one dollar; bound volumes may be obtained for four dollars and a half.
the REVIEW may be obtained at the same rates.
THE NEW ERA PRINT,
COPYRIGHT, 1908, BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
American Historical Review
HISTORY AND THE PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY1
OD has conceded two sights to a man
One of man's whole work, time's completed plan,
Step to the plan's completeness."
These words are from the great philosophical poet of the nineteenth century, from Browning's Sordello. They are the words of a poet, who sees before him in a vision the whole of human history, as if it were the sure unfolding of a foreordained plan, bringing steadily on "one far-off, divine event, to which the whole creation moves". In other ages besides our time, in other lands besides the fatherland of the two whose words I have used, many poets have seen this vision. But not the poet alone has seen it. Philosopher and theologian have shared it with him. Ever since the broadening union of the ancient world brought to men an understanding of the common interests and common destinies of men of diverse races, this has been so. From the time when Vergil put into the mouth of the father of gods and men his prediction of an unending empire. for his hero's progeny, from the time when men spoke commonly of the eternal city, and when Christian thought made the conception its own in the idea of the eternal city of God and of righteousness, absorbing into itself in process of time all manner of men that dwell
'Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Richmond, December 29, 1908.
The best introduction to the discussion and to the literature of this subject for the historian is to be found in Bernheim's Lehrbuch der Historischen Methode, third and fourth editions, 1903; fifth and sixth, 1908. Bernheim's bibliographical references and comment are very helpful. Professor Seligman's Economic Interpretation of History will also be found useful in introductory study, both on the bibliographical side, and as giving a very clear idea of the ideas and aims of one portion of the new movement in the field of history. It will be understood that in this paper I have in mind American conditions in the field of historical study. AM. HIST. REV., VOL. XIV.—15. (221)
on the face of the earth, from those days until now poets, philosophers and theologians have never ceased to behold and to proclaim a destined and knowable outcome for the efforts of mankind—a philosophy of history.
And why should they not? It is in truth a most alluring vision for any man. The mystery of the life of the race, of the final outcome of men's works and dominions, presses constantly upon us. Do all our ends and efforts tend only to temporary results, to certain reaction, and at last to the dead silence of the moon, or to a millennial age of universal good to whose more speedy coming all the generations contribute? Any answer to this question is sure of a hearing. The temptation to try to solve the problem, we all of us know at times.
But this is to be remembered, professed historians have given very little attention to this side of their subject. The men who have made it their special business to compile and preserve the record of the past action of the race, who would claim for themselves a peculiar right to the name of historians, have not concerned themselves with final results. If we add to the idea of the philosophy of history, as we ought, the related idea of the science of history, to make it include the process as well as the result, to include the question of the operation of law in history, the fact is the same. Turn over the pages of Flint's History of the Philosophy of History, and you will find that the names of historians are conspicuous by their absence. Without attempting any minute analysis, or close classification, we may say that historians who wrote before the nineteenth century fall into one or the other of two groups: first, those whose object was primarily to make the record of past events, to tell the story, to let posterity know what happened, without ulterior design; and second, those who were first of all anxious to produce literature, who desired indeed to tell the truth about the actions they described and to make them known to the future, but whose controlling motive was art rather than knowledge, the hope of earning name and fame for themselves among the great writers of the day. In neither of these classes do we find men who have greatly concerned themselves either with the science or the philosophy of history. They have merely endeavored to tell artlessly, or with all possible art, what happened.
About eighty years ago a new and profound influence began to make itself felt upon those who were engaged in studying and recording what had happened in the past. It was an influence towards more scientific methods of studying the facts of history. I am sure I do not need to describe to this audience the ideals of
the young Ranke, in the twenties of the last century, nor their results for historical studies. They have indeed been described better than I could do it, in an earlier meeting of this Association, by one whose voice we shall not hear again, and whose own fine examples of scientific work remain as models and incentives to us all. I do not mean to say that this great movement of the nineteenth century in the field of our interest was due to Ranke alone. It was not. But it was due to him more than to any other one man and we may most easily associate it with his name. I have called this movement scientific, but it should be clearly perceived that I am using this word now with a very different range of meaning from that in which I used it a moment ago when I said "the science of history". It is one thing to raise the question, Is human action dominated by law, and can we by discovering those laws construct a science of history, in the sense in which there exists a science of chemistry? It is quite a different thing to ask, Can methods of investigation which are strictly scientific be applied to the study of the past action of the race, in such a way as to give our knowledge of what happened greater certainty? The school of Ranke has never endeavored to go beyond this last question, but their answer to it has been a clear and, I believe, an indisputable affirmative. The actual result has been a science of investigation, and a method of training the future historian, which, it is not too much to say, have taken complete possession of the world of historical scholarship. At any rate it is true that all technically trained historians for more than fifty years have been trained according to these ideas and they have all found it exceedingly difficult to free themselves from the fundamental principle of their school that the first duty of the historian is to ascertain as nearly as possible and to record exactly what happened. It is not likely that historians of such training will be found to have concerned themselves with the problems of the science or of the philosophy of history to any greater extent than did their predecessors of earlier time. It remains true then that down to the present time professed historians have not dealt with these questions. They have left them to poets, philosophers and theologians.
But perfection of the methods of investigation is not the only result of the nineteenth century which affects our field of work. During the last four decades of that century, and especially during its last quarter, there arose a variety of new interests, new groups of scholars formed themselves, new points of view were occupied,
Edward G. Bourne, Leopold von Ranke, Annual Report of the American Historical Association (1896), I. 67-81.