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PULCHRUM EST BENEFACERE REIPUBLICÆ; ETIAM BENEDICERE HAUD ABSURDUM EST.
PRESS OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
NEW YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY,
For the Southern District of New York.
The object of your Association, Gentlemen, like that of others of similar character, is highly important. Historical Societies are auxiliary to Historical compositions. They collect the materials from which the great narrative of events is, in due time, to be framed. The transactions of public bodies, local histories, memoirs of all kinds, statistics, laws, ordinances, public debates and discussions, works of periodical literature, and the public journals, whether of political events, of commerce, literature, or the arts, all find their places in the collections of Historical Societies. But these collections are not history; they are only elements of history. History is a higher name, and imports literary productions of the first order.
It is presumptuous in me, whose labors and studies have been so long devoted to other objects, to speak in the presence of those whom I see before me, of the dignity and importance of History, in its just sense ; and yet I find pleasure in breaking in upon the course of daily pursuits, and indulging, for a time, in reflections upon topics of literature, and in the remembrance of the great examples of historic art.
Well written history must always be the result of genius and taste, as well as of research and study.