“There is no part of history so generally useful …”

“There is no part of history so generally useful at that which relates to the progress of the human mind, the gradual improvement of reason, the successive advances of science, the vicissitudes of learning and ignorance (which are the light and darkness of thinking beings), the extinction and resuscitation of arts, and the revolutions of the intellectual world. If accounts of battles and invasions are peculiarly the business of princes, the useful or elegant arts are not to be neglected; those who have kingdoms to govern have understandings to cultivate.

Example is always more efficacious than precept. A soldier is formed in war, and a painter must copy pictures. In this, the contemplative life has the advantage. Great actions are seldom seen, but the labours of art are always at hand for those who desire to know what art has been able to perform.” p. 113

Imlac, “the poet,” to Prince Rasselas and Princess Nekayah, touching on what will become intellectual history.

From: Samuel Johnson. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. 2008/1759. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House Publishing.