Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Boswell on History

SATURDAY 29 JANUARY....I have now one great satisfaction, which is reading Hume's History. It entertains and instructs me. It elevates my mind and excites noble feelings of every kind.
...
SUNDAY 20 FEBRUARY....I employed the day in reading Hume's History, which enlarged my views, filled me with great ideas, and rendered me happy. It is surprising how I have formerly neglected the study of history, which of all studies is surely the most amusing and the most instructive. As I am now begun to it in earnest, I hope to make good progress. I write my father regularly my observations on each volume, which is of great service to me and gives much satisfaction to him.


[Boswell's London Journal 1762-1763. Frederick A. Pottle, ed. Yale UP (New York: 1950) 173, 197.]

Hume would have been pleased; on Hume's view of history (the discipline), this is what the whole point of history is: to entertain and instruct, elevate one's mind and enlarge one's view. Claudia Schmidt has some excellent discussion of this (if I'm remembering correctly) in David Hume: Reason in History.

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