The English Historical Review/Volume 3/Review: The History of the Pacific States (Oregon)

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The History of the Pacific States. By Hubert H. Bancroft. Vol. XXIV., Oregon, vol. i. 1884-1848. (San Francisco A. L. Bancroft & Co.)

The most resolute student of American history may be forgiven if he quails at the sight of this volume, one of a series of twenty-four, with its eight hundred pages. The period dealt with extends over fifteen years. Is every state of the American confederation to be treated on this colossal scale? The doctrine of compression may, no doubt, be easily carried too far. There is an economy of space which is seeming, not real. If history is to be digested it must be taken in, not in essence, but in solution. Many a detail which does not itself abide in the reader's memory nevertheless has formed an important step in the process by which the whole story has got a hold on his mind. Mr. Bancroft's work takes in two matters which may be called controversial. One is the dealing of the early settlers in Oregon with the English traders of the Hudson's Bay Company, the other their conduct towards the natives. Mr. Bancroft has a warm and hearty admiration for the pioneers whose exploits he relates, yet in both the above instances his work appears quite free from any taint of advocacy. Thus, though the book will certainly never be read by any one for pleasure, and hardly, taken by itself, for instruction, nevertheless it will not be without permanent value. If ever a history of Oregon is written which is truly a history, and not a vast magazine of dry facts, this will yet retain its value as a collection of original authorities laboriously brought together, and in some measure arranged and harmonised.

J. A. Doyle.