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[334] only noiseless growth, the seed bursting into flower, infancy becoming manhood. It was life, in its omnipotence, rending whatever dead matter confined it. So have I seen the tiny weeds of a luxuriant Italian spring upheave the colossal foundations of the Caesars' palace, and leave it a mass of ruins.

But when the veil was withdrawn, what stood revealed astonished the world. It showed the undreamt power, the serene strength of simple manhood, free from the burden and restraint of absurd institutions in Church and State. The grandeur of this new Western constellation gave courage to Europe, resulting in the French Revolution, the greatest, the most unmixed, the most unstained and wholly perfect blessing Europe has had in modern times, unless we may possibly except the Reformation and the invention of printing.

What precise effect that giant wave had when it struck our shore we can only guess. History is, for the most part, an idle amusement, the day-dream of pedants and triflers. The details of events, the actors' motives, and their relation to each other are buried with them. How impossible to learn the exact truth of what took place yesterday under your next neighbor's roof! Yet, we complacently argue and speculate about matters a thousand miles off, and a thousand years ago, as if we knew them. When I was a student here, my favorite study was history. The world and affairs have shown me that one half of history is loose conjecture, and much of the rest is the writer's opinion.1 But most men see facts,


Read me anything but history, for history must be false. Sir Robert Walpole.

The records of the past are not complete enough to enable the most dilligent historian to give a connected narrative in which there shall not be many parts resting on guesses or inferences or unauthenticated rumors. He may guess himself: or he may report other people's guesses; but guesses there must be. Spedding, Life of Bacon, vol. VI. p. 76.

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