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Outlines of English and American Literature
The Historians
by Long, William J.


Perhaps it was the rapid expansion of the empire in the latter, part of the eighteenth century which aroused such interest in historical subjects that works of history were then more eagerly welcomed than poetry or fiction. Gibbon says in his Memoirs that in his day "history was the most popular species of composition." It was also the best rewarded; for while Johnson, the most renowned author of his time, wrote a romance (Rasselas) hoping to sell it for enough to pay for his mother's funeral, Robertson easily disposed of his History of the Emperor Charles V for 4500; and there were others who were even better paid for popular histories, the very titles of which are now forgotten.

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