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3721. HISTORY, Ancient vs. Modern.—[continued].

I am happier while reading
the history of ancient than of modern times.
The total banishment of all moral principle
from the code which governs the intercourse
of nations, the melancholy reflection that after
the mean, wicked and cowardly cunning of the
cabinets of the age of Machiavelli had given
place to the integrity and good faith which
dignified the succeeding one of a Chatham
and Turgot, that this is to be swept away again
by the daring profligacy and avowed destitution
of all moral principle of a Cartouche and a
Blackbeard, sicken my soul unto death. I
turn from the contemplation with loathing, and
take refuge in the histories of other times,
where, if they also furnished their Tarquins,
their Catalines and Caligulas, their stories are
handed to us under the brand of a Livy, a Sallust
and a Tacitus, and we are comforted with
the reflection that the condemnation of all succeeding
generations has confirmed the sentence
of the historian, and consigned their memories
to everlasting infamy, a solace we cannot have
with the Georges and Napoleons but by anticipation.—
To William Duane. Washington ed. vi, 109.
(M. April. 1813)