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The word history is used in two senses. It may mean either the record of events, or events themselves. Originally limited to inquiry and statement, it was only in comparatively modern times that the meaning of the word was extended to include the phenomena which form or might form their subject. It was perhaps by a somewhat careless transference of ideas that, this extension was brought about. Now indeed it is the commoner meaning. We speak of the "history of England" without reference to any literary narrative. We term kings and statesmen the "makers of history," and sometimes say that the historian only records the history which they make. History in this connection is obviously not the record, but the thing to be recorded. It is unfortunate that such a double meaning-of the word should have grown up, for it is productive of not a little confusion of thought.
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History in the wider sense is all that has happened, not merely all the phenomena of human life, but those of the natural world as well. It includes everything that undergoes change; and as modern science has shown that there is nothing absolutely static, therefore the whole. universe, and every part of it, has its history. The discovery of ether brought with it a reconstruction of our ideas of the physical universe, transferring the emphasis from the mathematical expression of static relationships to a dynamic conception of a universe in constant transformation; matter in equipoise became energy in gradual readjustment. Solids are solids no longer. The universe is in motion in every particle of every part; rock and metal merely a transition stage betweencrystallization and dissolution. This idea of universal activity has in a sense made physics itself a branch of history. It is the same with the other sciences-especially the biological division, where the doctrine of evolution has induced an attitude of mind which is distinctly historical.
But the tendency to look at things historically is not merely the attitude of men of science. Our outlook upon life differs in just this particular from that of preceding ages. We recognize the unstable nature of our whole social fabric, and are therefore more and more capable of transforming it. Our institutions are no longer held to be inevitable and immutable creations. We do not attempt to fit them to absolute formulae, but continually adapt them to a changing environment. Even modern architecture, notably in America, reflects the consciousness of change. The permanent character of ancient or medieval buildings was fitted only to a society dominated by static ideals. Now the architect builds, not for all time, but for a set of conditions which will inevitably cease in the not distant future. Thus our whole society not only bears the marks of its eyolution, but shows its growing consciousness of the fact in the most evident of its arts. In literature, philosophy and political science, there is the same historical trend. Criticism no longer judges by absolute standards; it applies the standards of the author's own environment. We no longer condemn Shakespeare for having violated the ancient dramatic laws, nor Voltaire for having objected to the violations. Each age has its own expression, and in judging each we enter the field of history. In ethics, again, the revolt against absolute standards limits us to the relative, and morals are investigated on the basis of history, as largely conditioned by economic environment and the growth of intellectual freedom. Revelation no longer appeals to scientific minds as a source of knowledge. Experience on the other hand is hiftry. As for political science, we do not regard the national state as that ultimate and final product which men once saw in the Roman Empire. It has hardly come into being before forces are evident which aim at its destruction. Internationalism has gained ground in Europe in recent years; and Socialism itself, which is based upon a distinct interpretation of history, is regarded by its followers as merely a stage- in human progress, like those which have gone before it. It is evident that Freeman's definition of history as " past politics " is miserably inadequate. Political events are mere externals. History enters into every phase of activity, and the economic forces which urge society along are as much its subject as the political result.
In short the historical spirit of the age has invaded every field. The world-picture presented in encyclopaedias is that of a dynamic universe, of phenomena in process of ceaseless change. Owing to this insistent change all things which happen, or seem to happen, are history in the broader sense of the word. The encyclopaedia itself is a history of them in the stricter sense,the description and record of this universal process.
The word history comes from the Greek historia, which was used by the Ionians in the 6th century B.C. for the search for knowledge in the widest sense. It meant inquiry, investigation, not narrative. It was not until two centuries later that the historikos, the reciter of stories, superseded the historean, the seeker after knowledge. Thus history began as a branch of scientific research, much the same as what the Athenians later termed philosophy. Herodotus himself was as much a scientific explorer as a reciter of narrative, and his life-long investigation was historie in his Ionian-speech. Yet it was Herodotus himself who first hinted at the new use of the word, applied merely to the details accumulated during a long search for knowledge. It: is not until Aristotle, however, that we have it definitely applied to the literary product instead of the inquiry which precedes it. From Aristotle to modern times, history (Lat. historic) has been a form of literature. It is only in the scientific environment of today that we recognize once more, with those earliest of the forerunners of Herodotus, that history involves two distinct operations, one of -which, investigation, is in the field of science, while the other, the literary presentation, is in the field of art.
The history of history itself is therefore two-fold. History as art flourishes with the arts. It calls upon the imagination and the literary gifts of expression. Its history does not run parallel with the scientific side, but rather varies in inverse ratio with scientific activity. Those periods which have been dominated by the great masters of style have been less interested in the criticism of the historian's methods of investigation than in the beauty of his rhetoric. The scientific historian, deeply interested in the search for truth, is generally but a poor artist, and his uncolored picture of the past will never rank in literature beside the splendid distortions which glow in the pages of a Michelet or Macaulay. History the art, in so far as it is conditioned upon genius, has no single traceable line of development. Here the product of the age of Pericles remains unsurpassed still; the works of Herodotus and Thucydides standing along with those of Pheidias as models for all time. On the other hand, history the science has developed so that it has not only gained recognition among historians as a distinct subject, but it has raised with it a group of auxiliary sciences which serve either as tools for investigation or as a basis for testing the results. The advance in this branch of history in the 9th century was one of its greatest achievements. The vast gulf which lies between the history of Egypt by Herodotus and that by Flinders Petrie is the measure of its achievement. By the mechanism now at his disposal the scientific explorer can read more history from the dust-heaps of Abydos than the greatest. traveller of antiquity could gather from the priests of Sais. In tracing the history of history we must therefore keep in mind the double aspect.
History itself, this double subject, the science and the art combined, begins with the dawn of memory and the invention of speech. It is wrong to term those ages pre-historic whose history has not come down to us, including in one category the pre-literary age and the literary whose traces have been lost. Even the pre-literary had' its history, first in myth and then in saga. The saga, or epos, was a great advance upon the myth, for in itthe deeds of men replace or tend to replace the deeds of the gods. But we are still largely in the realm of imagination. Poetry, as Thucydides complained, is a most imperfect medium for fact. The bard will exaggerate or distort his story. True history, as a record of what really has happened, first reached maturity in prose. Therefore, although 'much of the past has been handed down to us in epic, in ballad and in the legends of folk-lore, we must turn from them to what became history in the narrower sense.
The earliest prose origins of history are the inscriptions. Their inadequacy is -evident from two standpoints. Their permanence depends not upon their importance, but upon the durability of the substance on which they are inscribed. A note for a wedding ring baked into the clay of Babylon has been preserved, while the history of tl;e greatest events has perished. In the second place they are sealed to all but those who know how to read them, and so they lie forgotten for centuries while oral tradition flourishes,-being within the reach of every man. It is only recently that archaeology, turning from the field of art, has, undertaken to interpret for us this first written history. The process by which the modern fits together all the obtainable remains of an antiquity, and reconstructs even that past which left no written record, lies outside the field of this article. But such enlargement of the field of history is a modern scientific product, and is to be distinguished from the imperfect beginnings of history-writing which the archaeologist is able to decipher.
Next to the inscriptions, sometimes identical with them, are the early chronicles. These are of various kinds. Family chronicles preserved the memory of heroic ancestors whose deeds in, the earliest age would have passed into the keeping of the bards. Such family archives were perhaps the' main source for Roman historians. But they are not confined to Rome or Greece. Genealogies also pass from the bald verse, which was the vehicle for oral transmission, to such elaborate tables as those in which Manetho has preserved the dynasties of Egyptian Pharaohs.
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