CHAPTER THREE PRIMITIVE MATERIALS FOR HISTORY

THERE IS a vivid page in one of James Ford Rhodes's essays which is full of suggestion as to the variety and antiquity of materials for history. He relates how, spending a day at the great Pyramids, he first filled his eyes and mind with the novelty of the spectacle; and then, his initial curiosity satisfied, "found nothing so gratifying to the historic sense as to gaze on these most wonderful monuments of human industry, constructed certainly 5,000 years ago, and to read at the same time the account that Herodotus gave of his visit there about 2,350 years before the date of my own."1 That evening, going to his modern and garish Cairo hotel, he took up the latest issue of the London Times. It contained an account of the annual meeting of the Royal Historical Society, including a report of a carefully-prepared address by the president on Herodotus, pointing out the value of the Greek writer as a model to modern historians. This newspaper report was reinforced by an editorial article upon the merits of Herodotus and the lessons he conveyed to current European writers. "I ended the day with the reflection of what a space in the world's history Herodotus filled, himself describing the work of 2600 years before his own time and being dilated upon in 1894 by one of the most modern of nineteenth century newspapers." In this page are mentioned at least four different types of material for history--the great Pyramids, hoary with fifty centuries; the first truly illustrious chronicler of ancient times; the proceedings of a historical

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1
James Ford Rhodes, Historical Essays, pp. 35 ff.

-49-

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