We live in a day, when one year of life is worth many in dull common times . . . to say nothing about the convention of an empire to give features to a nation . . . we have a world of curiosity in our own commonwealth. Some characters render themselves the wonder of all who have the powers of wondering at anything in these times.
JAMES SULLIVAN TO RUFUS KING, 1787
The idea is to deal with history, not as a list of historians to be estimated in terms of some standard of excellence, but to deal with the ideas of history, at any time as part of, and influenced by, the general preconceptions and ideas of that time.