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The Mechanical Processes of the Historian

Excerpt from The Mechanical Processes of the Historian The mechanical side of historical work is doubtless of less importance than those aspects of it which have been dealt with in other "Helps for Students of History," such as Mr. Crump's "Logic of History" or Dr. Marshall's Historical Criticism of a Document. We may liken it to the bridle of Pegasus, since without it the historian would be at the mercy of his materials. The unhappy "savant" buried alive in an avalanche of multicoloured "fiches," whom M.Anatole France describes in the preface to "L'Ile des Pingouins," is a parable of the consequences of neglecting this humble side of historiography. It is true that the parable may be applied with even greater profit in another way. The mastery of the historian over his evidence, which it enjoins, depends far more on mental than on mechanical capacity. The most superb "technique" will not make a little painter into a great one, nor turn the faithful gathering, sifting, and classification of evidence into History. Clio, the Muse, must still be invoked. We cannot reduce to a formula that grasp of the essential facts which atones for countless inaccuracies of detail, nor yet the gift of style without which historical writing is sapless and unfruitful. About the Publisher Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books. Find more at www.forgottenbooks.com This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works.
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