BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll


The Revolt of the Netherlands

Friedrich Schiller


Darby O'Gill and the Little People

Hermenie Templeton Kavanagh


Novalis Including Hymns to the Night

Novalis, George MacDonald, Thomas Carlyle


Historical Research

by John Martin Vincent

Excerpt:

PREFACE

As indicated by the title, this book is offered as an _ outline, rather than as an encyclopedic treatment of historical invest('Cfl^nit, and the possible reader more constantly in mind has been the advanced student who is about to enter the field of research, either as a profession or as a serious avocation. Experience has shown that both time and facility are gained by a rapid review at the outset of the principles and scope of the science; for, although _ historical research is only the application of logic and common sense to the past attairs ot mankind, J" tbTe numerous varieties of material and their respec- tive values are not always at first obvious. It is on this account that certain of the auxiliary sciences are introduced, not with a view of providing complete information, but in order to exhibit the foundations upon which the genuine sources must rest, and with the hope that the reader will be stimulated to further inquiry.

The obligations of the author to previous writers on this subject are evident on every page, and from many friends who are not quoted I have received valuable suggestions. To certain of my colleagues I am particularly indebted. Professors James W. Bright, Harry L. Wilson, and Edward F. Buchner, and Dr. R. V. D. Magoffin have read the matter in

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HISTORICAL RESEARCH '

CHAPTER I
THE DEFINITION OF HISTORY

When the history of the past began to be told among primitive people it is evident that no questions were asked about the theories upon which it was based, nor concerning the motives which actuated the narrator. It was sufficient to know that stories of the forefathers were about to be related, and antiquity lent its ears to every minstrel in turn. The curiosity of man about his predecessors doubtless started in his craving for entertainment, and the beginnings of history may be seen today in the Bedouin story-teller surrounded by his tribesmen, breathlessly intent.

The contrast between this primitive history and Primitive the modern works of erudition is so vast that one is History. led at once to inquire how came the world to hold its present conceptions. As the long line of historians is examined it becomes clear that history, even from the time it was first seriously written down, has passed through a variety of forms, and that the definition itself has had a history of its own. The etymology of the word is interesting, but gives no

. 2' '. .. ; .'mSTORlCAL RESEARCH

authority for 't*he modern contents of the term. History is derived from laropta., which means primarily a learning, or knowing by inquiry, but every age has declared for itself to what that inquiry shall be directed and what subjects are worth knowing as history. Usage has remained steadfast only in this, that in some way or another history has been the story of mankind.

Herodotus. The first known example of extended historical

composition is the work of Herodotus. He was no longer in the earliest infancy of history, for he states at the opening of the first book that he wishes not only to relate the glorious actions of the forefathers, but to give reasons for them as well.

"This is a publication of the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, in order that the actions of men may not be effaced by time, nor the great and wondrous deeds displayed both by Greeks and barbarians deprived of renown; and among the rest, what were their grounds of strife."

Like others of the ancients, Herodotus combined geographical description with his accounts of states, and with many side issues and anecdotes he put together one of the most interesting as well as one of the most valuable of books. He was a capital story-teller, but in places was weak in the critical examination of his materials. He was not altogether credulous about the information which fell in his way, but with charming naivete* provided a line of retreat for himself and his readers.


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