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Previous "Universal" Histories Not Really Universal

I am aware, however, that a similar profession has been made by many other historians of an intention to write a universal history, and of undertaking a work on a larger scale than their predecessors. About these writers, putting out of the question Ephorus, the first and only man who has really attempted a universal history, I will not mention any name or say more about them than this,—that several of my contemporaries, while professing to write a universal history have imagined that they could tell the story of the war of Rome and Carthage in three or four pages. Yet every one knows that events more numerous or important were never accomplished in Iberia, Libya, Sicily, and Italy than in that war; and that the Hannibalian war was the most famous and lasting of any that has taken place except the Sicilian. So momentous was it, that all the rest of the world were compelled to watch it in terrified expectation of what would follow from its final catastrophe. Yet some of these writers, without even giving as many details of it as those who, after the manner of the vulgar, inscribe rude records of events on house walls, pretend to have embraced the whole of Greek and foreign history. The truth of the matter is, that it is a very easy matter to profess to undertake works of the greatest importance; but by no means so simple a matter in practice to attain to any excellence. The former is open to every one with the requisite audacity: the latter is rare, and is given to few. So much for those who use pompous language about themselves and their historical works. I will now return to my narrative.

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