Found in Marcia Schuyler
Written by Charles Rollin
From the Preface:
The Usefulness of Profane History, especially with regard to Religion.
The study of profane history would little deserve to have a serious attention, and a considerable length of time bestowed upon it, if it were confined to the bare knowledge of ancient transactions, and an uninteresting inquiry into the æras when each of them happened. It little concerns us to know, that there were once such men as Alexander, Cæsar, Aristides, or Cato, and that they lived in this or that period; that the empire of the Assyrians made way for that of the Babylonians, and the latter for the empire of the Medes and Persians, who were themselves subjected by the Macedonians, as these were afterwards by the Romans.
But it highly concerns us to know, by what methods those empires were founded; by what steps they rose to that exalted pitch of grandeur which we so much admire; what it was that constituted their true glory and felicity; and what were the causes of their declension and fall.
It is of no less importance to study attentively the manners of different nations; their genius, laws, and customs; and especially to acquaint ourselves with the character and disposition, the talents, virtues, and even vices of those by whom they were governed; and whose good or bad qualities contributed to the grandeur or decay of the states over which they presided.
Such are the great objects which ancient history presents; causing to pass, as it were, in review before us, all the kingdoms and empires of the world; and at the same time, all the great men who were any ways conspicuous; thereby instructing us, by example rather than precept, in the arts of empire and war, the principles of government, the rules of policy, the maxims of civil society, and the conduct of life that suits all ages and conditions.