I have spent this past week on vacation at my childhood home with my dear Sister and I managed to do some genealogy searching of our past history/lives. I had a restful and profitable week for which I am grateful. Now, what has that to do with our dear Jane Austen. I promptly went to her brother's periodical "The Loiterer" (which I put on line) and found Issue No. 7 which discusses the "use and advantages of Studying History". Here is an excerpt from the first paragraph:
IF the respective merits of our different studies are to be settled by the pleasure which arises from their pursuit, or the utility which results from their attainment, historic knowledge will justly claim the highest rank amongst our literary acquirement. To review with one glance the various accidents, and mark the latent causes, which have given birth to states, or destroyed empires, to place before us the exploits of the daring, the discoveries of the adventurous, and the systems of the wise, confers the greatest superiority which an enlightened age and a polished nation can enjoy, over an area of darkness and a clan of barbarians. And though history were always what it too often is, only an enumeration of the madness, folly, and crimes of mankind, it is yet some advantage to know what we would wish to avoid; and if mankind make a proper use of this knowledge, they may derive some benefit even from the crimes, and some wisdom from the follies of their ancestors. But history has surely something better to offer, has other claims upon our attention, other motives to excite our industry, and other sweets to reward our labours.
I find that I cannot disagree with James because I found out so many of our family's "dirty" little secrets as well as the "good" things that we did. I managed to do some research at our court house through many papers that documented our comings and goings. My Bachelor of Science degree includes a minor in History, so you can see that I am in my element when I do my historical research. I really wish to return more often to do some more. May you all benefit from studying "History"! Because some of it we do not want to repeat!!
You may read the entire article - No. VII of James Austen's The Loiterer.
Yrs aff'ly,Linda the Librarian
Sunday, 1 July 2012