CHAPTER ELEVEN SOCIETY AND HISTORY

OLD-STYLE HISTORY, the history of the great masters writing a century ago, dealt for the most part with the grand pageantry of human action. Its authors were concerned chiefly with political affairs, and found their synthesis in the fortunes or misfortunes of the state. Von Ranke and Mommsen, Freeman and Macaulay, Prescott and Motley, wrote primarily of royal courts and parliamentary chambers, of diplomatic duels and tented fields. Such history lent itself to a dramatic emphasis upon the achievements of powerful individuals. It became a stage on which picturesque figures could strut and fret their little hour. "Universal history," wrote Carlyle in rationalizing this approach, "is at bottom the history of the great men who have worked here." And in another connection he asserted: "Yes, from Norse Odin to English Samuel Johnson, from the divine founder of Christianity to the withered Pontiff of Encyclopaedism, in all times and places the Hero has been worshipped. It will ever be so. We all love great men, love, venerate, and bow down submissive before great men; nay, can we honestly bow down before anything else?" Carlyle eloquently illustrated his belief in his own writings. His longest work is a record of the hero (for so he thought him) Frederick the Great; perhaps his most effective single work historically was his Cromwell, wherein he forever overthrew the widespread view that the Great Protector had been a canting, insincere, and sly usurper, and demonstrated instead his true stature.

But in one of his books, The French Revolution, even Carlyle

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