23 FEBRUARY 1895, Page 3

Sir Monntstuart Grant Duff delivered on Thursday a very interesting

address on Herodotus to the Royal Historical Society. He contrasted the secular genius of Thucydides with the religious genius of Heroclotus, and gave the prefer- ence to "the mild old man," as Faber had called him. Herodotns was often superstitious, but often also rationalistic in his criticism on the portents to which others ascribed a power of supernatural augury. He knew the true weak- nesses of the Greeks, and allowed for the envy, hatred, and malice, of which their policy so often gave evidence. He was a keen observer and a wise generaliser. "Soft countries make soft men," he said, and with regard to deliberation and action he declared, "It is beat' for men when they take counsel, to be timorous, but when the time for action comes, to deal boldly." And Sir Mountstnart might have recalled the fine saying of the Persian before the great defeat of the Persians at Platen., that one of the cruellest of human ills is for the man who knows much to be impotent to use his knowledge for the benefit of others. Herodotus and the Old Testament are, said Sir Mountstuart, the best of all introduc- tions to the study of human history. We read them again and again, because they are so much wider than ordinary historians, because they knew human nature as philosophical historians never know it, and because they feel the pathos even more than they feel the picturesqueness of human ambitions or human failure.