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How History Is Written

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The Graphü1 of Daceinber 3d, bas an article on the litV and labors of George riitncroft, tho historian, wliich furuishes uuch of interest in regard tu tho private labor of that gentleman, whioh seom to be very systeimtieaüy arranged. As aids in this oonneotiou, ho hu two issislunts - a Reforence and a Writing Secretary. His plan of work ia thus given : Mr. Bancroft's niethod of' writing, the rosult of the oxperienco of long years, is quito peculiar, and accounts tor hiu Buccess in harnionizing those two conrlicting conditioim, OOmpaotneSB and comprehensiveness. Hu has two Secretarios - b. " referencL" Becretary and a "writing" iSejre)arir! They do the work, largoly, wliilo.tjlr. Banoruft does the thinking andTurlflé'h'es tne opinions. Whon ho coininonces on a new volume, he deciden first upon tlio period of tiino which it sball covor, its scopo and particular features, if any. This plan is put in wriiing, and placed in the hands of his referenoe Secretary, Dr. Frank Austin Scott, a gentleman of unusual qualificutions for the position, being a proficient linguïst, and, from intmy yoars' association with Mr. Bancroft, almost as familiar with history and tho details of the work as Mr. Ban ■ croft himself. Next a diary is taken, and under each date is entored, with a book-koeper's precisión, all the ocourrences of that day in every corner of the globo that roíate in any respect to tho Araorican Republic. With each record aio roforences to the authority on which tho record is based ; if publishod, to the volumes and pages; if not, to the original manuscript which are filed away in Mr. Bancroft's library Iii the corupilation of this diary every existing work and document and paper is consulled ; every history or tradition of any reliability is carefully gleaned. This work is dono by Mr. Scott, Mr. Bancroft, in the mcantime, employing himself in reading up on these events, sifting the chaff from tho wheat, detecting the spurious, and dictating to his writing secretary, Mr. Weston, tho suggestions that occur to hiiu and the opinions deduced fron the study. The diary being finished, a memorandum book is taken and its pages divided into classification for topics. This is called tho topic book. The classifications are not very uumerous, the heads being something as follows : " Washington," " Artny," " Pinance," "Domeetic AfFairs," "Foroign Affairs," "Campaigns," " CongreRS," &c. Under each of these heads is compiled all the information contained in the diary relatiug to each particular topic, 80 that, for example, when Mr. Bancroft wants to write a chapter on the Finance of the Government at tho time of which ho is troating he has all the facts that can be gained from every possible sourco condensod and classiflod in their chronological ordor ; all histories in every languttge are consulted ; all biographies records, essays, speeches and papers transcripts of all existing public documents in the archivos of the American English, French and Germán Governments, and also all privata papers anc corrospondence written at tho timo. When this is coiupleted by M r. Scot' - and it takes months sometimes to exhaust & single topic - Mr. Bancroft familiarizes himself with the contents ol tho memorandum book, making passages of importance, making cross roferenne8 for bis own convenience, anc indexing the events himself in the order in which he intends to treat them. Then he dictatos to his writing secretary the text of the volume, aud as chapter after chaptor is finished it is laid away to " soason " for a time. The matter is then written and re-written until it suits Mr. Bancroft's sensitivo taste. Wnen he is satisfied with the arrangement, the style, and completeness of a chapter it is sent to the publisher. The final manuscript is writton in copying-ink, and a copy taken in a press-book. Mr, Bancroft always has three proofs - in slips, in stereotype, and in folio - and continúes to make alterations and additious till the prosses are fairly running. Mr. Bancroft's habits of life are those of the student, and are methodical and regular as the pulsations of a machine. He has always been an early rieer, and for 20 years or more has been in the habit of workiug an hour or two before breakfast. Breakfaating at 8:30 o'clock he goes into his library at 9:30 o'clock and works regularly until 3 o'clock, with a short intermission fer lunch. Then he drops his manuscript and memoranda, and, putting a mark in his thoughts, forgots caro and labor for the remainder of the day. Every pleasant afternoon he can be seen riding Black Klsie, his fp.vorito mare, on the Seventh street drive, or through souic of the many beautiful parks that adorn Washington. Nothwithstanding his age, Mr. Bancroft is one of the most graceful and vigorou8 borsemon in the city. He has kept up this habit for many years, and during the summers he has spent in this country he has generally taken a jaunt of 300 or 400 miles with Black Eiste as his companion. He has ridden all over tho scènes of the Revolution, from Ticonderoga to the field of the battle of Savannah, where Pulaski feil.


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Michigan Argus