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may be aesthetically attracted or repelled by its artistic possibilities. But once confront him with men of like passions with himself, and straightway a partisan attitude becomes easy. Oddly enough we find the readiest example of this in the very historian whom we have quoted as praising another for unprejudiced judgment. Although Macaulay wrote of Hallam as already cited on page 241, yet Macaulay's own inability to maintain a judicial calm in his estimate of great historical characters has become a proverb. No one can read his History or his essays without realizing his violent partisanship. Elijah Impey is a political time-server; Newcastle a driveling idiot; Charles I. "a tyrant, traitor, murderer, and public enemy.” On the other hand, of William of Orange and of all those statesmen who stood as champions for constitutional liberty and against high prerogative it might indeed be inferred that, like the Puritans, they were noblemen by the imposition of the hand of God, ministered to and inspired by the angels of the Most High. But this consistent attitude as counsel for the prosecution or for the defence is fatal to the expository purpose of history.

Characterization, too, like setting, emphasizes the restrictions of historical narrative as opposed to the greater liberty of fiction. Scott creates a personality that shall render his story most effective. If his Richard is in harmony with the Richard of the Crusades, so much the better; the chronicles of history serve as useful auxiliaries. If, on the other hand, he is totally untrue to all record, so much the worse for history; the story is more effective than if the King of the Lion-Heart had been portrayed consistently with the accounts to be found in the chronicles of Benedict of Peterborough. Similarly, the conception of Harold the Saxon derivable

from the ancient records of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may be disappointingly at variance with that which we draw from Bulwer's Harold, the Last of the Saxon Kings; but the veritable son of Godwin was not artistically adapted to the events that constitute the plot of Bulwer's romance. The chronicler and the writer of romance has each his own field and his own ultimate purpose in characterization. Clearness and truth are the goal of the one; clearness and effectiveness the goal of the other.

Finally as to action: here, in one respect, at least, the historian must even more definitely part company with any possible personal idiosyncrasies and bias. His events are already matters of record. Imagination is fettered by fact. But, even though thus restricted, originality is not precluded. In the most extensive history the quality of selection must be exercised. No historian ever utilized all the material at hand. One's attitude to life, one's economic and political convictions, will determine the selection and the ordering of the details chosen for record. But here again enters the peril of personal bias. The law courts supply daily evidence of how the same circumstances seen by two persons are capable of totally different presentation. The question of proportion alone is fundamental in its relation to the ultimate interpretation that shall be placed, let us say, upon the details of a campaign or the development of a social institution. Witness the variations that appear in school histories as to the events of the Civil War of 1861– 65, or in religious histories as to the relations between the Anglican Church of to-day and that of the English Reformation under Henry VIII. Originality, too, will appear in the sources from which one chooses his material. A history of American politics compiled from


contemporary newspapers and periodicals will differ materially in substance and spirit from another based on standard histories, biographies, and state papers. Certainly some of the originality that distinguishes Von Holst's account of American History of the years 1850– 60 may be attributed to his painstaking study of the newspapers of that period. And his originality of procedure is further shown in his odd method of mastering the English language through the medium of newspaper advertisements. Indeed, we might have included originality as one of the qualities that, in one form or another, are essential to all narrative deserving the name of history.

Another fact that may be noted in connection with action as an element in historical narrative is that the very nature of the material puts a practical check upon plot complication. The purpose of dramatic or of story plot (p. 203) is to secure suspense and emphasis through an unexpected dénouement. This is not the aim of historical narrative. The reader is in all probability perfectly familiar with the ultimate culmination; his interest lies in tracing the individual details or the trend of related events that lead up to the culmination. Consequently any complication of plot strands, any carefully laid plan of mystification, such as is familiar in the short-story or the novel, would serve but to hamper the main purpose of the history. The principle of culmination appears in the historian's endeavor to show the inevitable train of causation leading to the conclusion foreseen from the beginning. The sudden occurrence of the unexpected that gives to Marjorie Daw its characteristic note would hardly do in an historical account of the battle of Marathon. The reader would certainly have reason for criticism should the historian so juggle his

facts as to lead up to the apparently inevitable conclusion that the troops of Datis were gaining a glorious victory, and should then close with some such unexpected culmination as this:

But as the sun sank low in the west, the Asiatic invaders, disheartened and unnerved at the losses inflicted by the forces of Miltiades, launched their galleys in headlong flight, while the Greeks, though fatigued by the day's struggle, were already preparing for a night's march across the hills of Attica to forestall a possible attack upon the city.

From these various considerations it is clear that in the very constituents of narration, — setting, characterization, and plot, — the purely scientific aspect of history is not sufficient. The personal side, apparent in originality of method, in intelligent ordering of material, and in selection of contributive detail is constantly in evidence. And this fact, in conjunction with the subjective quality that we call style, combines to lift history from the dead level of mere informatory exposition and give to it the dignity of literature.


Biographical narrative, including the autobiography and the memoir, is a variety of history modified by conditions peculiar to itself. The fundamental requisites of historical narrative still remain: the biographer must, like the historian, exercise industry in the effort to collate all possible material, so that his work shall not be untrue because of inadequate information; he must also possess the clearness of observation and the judicial acuteness that characterize the historian, otherwise his record will have little value to the seeker after truth; and, finally, if the biography is to take rank as literature,

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it must be composed with due regard for “proper words in proper places,” – that is, for style.

The biographer is the microscopist among historians; he presents the minute details that in the wider narrative would be in violation of due proportion. He works in a much narrower circle. Instead of picturing the lifehistory of a nation or even an epoch in a nation's career, he elaborates the miniature of a single personality that may have played an important part in the national life or in the epoch. Instead of a History of the English Reformation or of The Oxford Movement, he writes a Life of Oliver Cromwell or of John Henry Newman.

All that has been said, therefore, in relation to historical narrative may, mutatis mutandis, be applied to biographical literature. Regarding one phase of this type of writing, the autobiography, however, some additional comment should be made, for although like all biography, it is but a microscopic cross-section of history, yet it possesses certain well-marked characteristics of

its own.

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In one sense of the word biography may be considered as essentially objective in character. Of course, if it be literature at all, it must be subjective to the extent of reflecting in some degree the author's personality, as has already been noted in connection with style; but biography may be called objective to this extent, - that its principal value lies in the light reflected upon the career and personality of him about whom it is written and not upon that of him who writes it. The ultimate purpose of Lockhart's Life of Scott, for example, is to throw light upon the life and character of the great novelist. It may reflect much of the biographer's individuality as well, but that is, to the average reader, only a by-product, and is of material value only to the student

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