|SAVAGERY AND SURVIVALS.|
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY IN OBERLIN COLLEGE.
MR. EDWARD A. FREEMAN, the eminent English historian, has given us a short and popular definition of history in the phrase, "History is past politics." While it is true that history includes past politics, and that the political events of to-day become the history of to-morrow, we must acknowledge that the province of history is more extensive than is indicated in this pithy phrase if we are ready to admit, as it seems we should, that the highest end of history is ethical and social, and not merely political.
We can not say that history is limited for its materials to written records; nor do we agree with Morrison, who says that history is simply literature, and begins with the historical books of the Old Testament.
We really commence our study of history with the first traces of man's presence upon this earth. His bones are to us not only of physiological but of historical importance. His tools, implements, ornaments, and relics are historical records.
Formerly history was altogether written on the artistic plan. We find that many of the most prominent Greek and Roman writers continually sacrificed the truth to literary finish. Since the middle of this century our conception of history has greatly changed. We regard history as a science, and employ scientific methods in our treatment of historical data. Herodotus's conception of history comes to us again in a new light—"ἱστορία," meaning a learning by investigation.
The study of history conveys to us a knowledge of the intimate connection existing between the past and the present. Much of our material for historical investigation we find not in the past, but in living and present things. Archæology will demonstrate this to us. Thanks to the recent discoveries and excavations of the archæologists of the Capitoline Hill, the history of Rome has been entirely rewritten since the French Revolution. How much new light the study of institutions in the primitive times and among the peoples of to-day, whose development has not kept pace with our own, throws upon the origin of the state and of many of our own social institutions!
History brings to us a knowledge of the past to aid us in the settlement of present problems; and so Droysen's ideal comes to us as the highest and best conception of history. "History," he
- Encyclopædia Britannica, article History, by J. C. Morrison.