The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 18. Adam Fergusons Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic
It was in far broader fashion, as became a Scottish professor of moral philosophy, that Adam Ferguson proved his interest in the more extended view of historical study which was engaging the attention of British, as well as French, writers. Something was said in our previous chapter of his Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767). Thus, when, in 1783, Ferguson published his chief work, The History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic, it was with no narrow conception of his task that he undertook what, as its title indicates, was designed as a sort of introductory supplement to Gibbon’s masterpiece. The preliminary survey of the course of Roman history from the origins, though done with care and with due attention to historical geography, is, necessarily, inadequate, and some portions of what follows, avowedly, serve only to inform us as to what the Romans themselves believed to be a true narrative. His sketches of character are the reverse of paradoxical, though after recounting the enormities of Tiberius, he grieves “to acknowledge that he was a man of considerable ability.”