We do not draw the moral lessons we might from history. On the contrary, without care it may be used to vitiate our minds and to destroy our happiness. In history a great volume is unrolled for our instruction, drawing the materials of future wisdom from the past errors and infirmities of mankind. It may, in the perversion, serve for a magazine, furnishing offensive and defensive weapons for parties in church and state, and supplying the means of keeping alive or reviving dissensions and animosities, and adding fuel to civil fury. History consists, for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal, and all the train of disorderly appetites, which shake the public with the same
"...troublous storms that toss
The private state, and render life unsweet."
— Reflections (IV,155)
History will do justice to the intentions of worthy men; but it will be on its guard against their infirmities; it will examine, with great strictness of scrutiny, whatever appears from a writer in favour of his own cause. On the other hand, whatever escapes him and makes against that cause, comes with the greatest weight— Preface to M. Brissot's Address
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