Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

1

poet's defects. A poet, who is not worth retaining except in this left-handed fashion, had better be dropped. But we maintain that Crabbe's weaknesses, as regards their quantity at all events, have been greatly exaggerated. In Shelley's complete works, the proportion of writing which is not worthy of Shelley at his best is much greater than the proportion of Crabbe which is below his best; yet no one objects to a complete edition of Shelley. And in many cases a real injustice is done to the poet by divorcing his best passages from their surroundings. Mr Holland, for instance, gives as a separate short poem, under the title • The Old Bachelor,' the noble concluding lines on old age from The Bachelor's Story' in Tales of the Hall.' Yet we venture to say that this passage, taken alone, does not produce half so strong an impression on the reader as it does when read as the climax and summing up of the whole poem.

What we wish to see is a re-issue-with some emendations in respect of punctuation and misprints-of Murray's beautiful edition of 1834; and we are inclined to think that the time is ripe for it.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Art. III.--THE FIRST CENTURY OF THE EAST INDIA

COMPANY.

Daim.

[ocr errors]

1. A History of British India. By Sir William Wilson

Hunter. Two vols. London : Longmans, 1899-1900. 2. The Diary of William Hedges (1681-1687). Edited by

Col. Henry Yule and R. Barlow. (Hakluyt Society.)

Three vols. London: 1887-1889. . 3. The Early Annals of the English in Bengal. By C. R.Ta

Wilson. Vol. I. London : Thacker, 1895. 4. The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe to the Court of the 2

Great Mogul, 1615–1619. Edited by W. Foster. (Hakluyt zadno Society.) Two vols. London: 1899.

- ATHI 5. The Rise of Portuguese Power in India. By R. S. White

way. London: Constable, 1899. 6. Letters received by the East India Company from its

Bi To be Servants in the East (1602–1616). Edited by F. C. Danvers and William Foster. Four vols. London: Ha pia

Sampson Low, 1896-1900. WITH the death of Sir William Hunter there came to a close a very brilliant career, a career of extraordinary performance and, till the very end, of extraordinary pro

; but his physical frame, station broad-shouldered, stalwart, and supple, looked as though it had little more than reached its prime of health and strength, and appeared still fully able to bear all that his ardent and resolute soul demanded from it of versatility and effort. He died in harness; we have in one of the volumes at the head of this article sentences penned within a fortnight of his death. His whole career had been one of preparation for the great work of which, in the form he intended it ultimately to take, a mere fragment, on many sides unpolished and on all imperfect, was to be achieved. Sir W. Hunter, among the many Scotsmen we have met, was perhaps the most conspicuous example of the perfervid element in the genius of North Britain. He was eager, excitable, enthusiastic to a high degree, and overflowing with nervous energy. Overdaring in conjecture and over-confident in statement, he could also be, as an enquirer and investigator, very patient, painstaking, and persevering. Having sat at the feet not only of Scottish but of French and German professors,

· Here

[ocr errors]

F.C. don:

the Glasgow graduate, the eminently distinguished comBL petitor for the Indian Civil Service, started on his career

in the East not only with the usual ambitions, but in the like spirit of the schools of Paris and of Bonn. He was irre

pressibly sanguine, and at the same time emotional and dhe susceptible; viewing human existence generally in its ciety

brightest and most favourable lights, and very desirous

to make the best and the most of it. His own exceptionCRally busy and varied life offered in many departments

abundant opportunities. Looking back upon it, we are inclined to judge that he availed himself of every chance and missed none of his openings. He loved to meet with men, he loved to read and write and think of men who had engrossed the literary or political stage, who had

subjected to themselves a wide region of literature or of mail politics. To be counted among such men was in some sort

his own aim. Nor need we hesitate to affirm that he has obtained a place of this kind for his memory.

If he was always imaginative, not less was he always industrious. If he enjoyed life and letters, and if in life and letters he enjoyed most the study of

character and of personality, it was to life at the PAU desk, to official work, to the sedulous comparison and

computation of unadorned facts and figures that, for many years, he day by day not unwillingly devoted himself

. Here peculiar facilities fell in his path and were

seized upon. Here his skill was quite unprecedented, and ility 80 was his success. His fame rests, and will rest, on his

toil rather as an editor than as an author, on his powers

of organisation and of superintendence rather than on his hed

own final and finished contributions to history and to biography. He exercised, and with wonderful mastery, a great command over able men and over vast materials. With regard to the history of British India, he has been the chief surveyor and prospector,' the chief road-maker, the chief contractor and employer of literary labour, the statistician-in-chief. His official and literary activity and influence in general, well worthy as they are of commentary, we cannot on this occasion discuss; what we have to consider is that incomplete summary and supplement to the rest of his work on which, during the last year or two of his life, he was engaged.

It is as though the author, even if not guessing that

ough and

the

[ocr errors]

0

Ith igh

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

his days were numbered, had yet felt that, as never before, he was writing against time. He is anxious about nothing so much as to cover the ground as speedily as he may, and new ground where possible, and to record roughly his impressions concerning it. Particularly in his opening chapters is this the case, and, indeed, all through the first volume. Curiously, among these latest labours of his, his own best work seems to us to be the very last chapter he wrote, the eighth chapter of the second volume; while in the whole two volumes the best chapter of all was written not by Sir W. Hunter himself, but, after his death, from his notes, by his young literary assistant and friend, Mr P. E. Roberts. Sir W. Hunter has left not only labours behind him, but labourers. Next to producing a masterpiece, he would have chosen to train a disciple, to establish a tradition, to equip a successor. We think we trace throughout the work, and especially throughout the second volume, the pious but never meddlesome hand, the alert but never pedantic or obtrusive care, of Mr Roberts, a fresh adventurer, introduced by Sir W. Hunter to the domain of historical research and composition, whom we trust we shall meet again. Mr Roberts falls, it may be, here and there a little into his master's manner of generalising too soon and too absolutely; yet, after all, we desire to bestow nothing but cordial praise both on his introduction to the second volume and his concluding chapter to the whole work.* Sir W. Hunter's own introduction to the first volume, written at Tiflis in December 1898, contains some finely appropriate reflections, weighty with thought, and eloquent in expression. We would select further for special commendation from that first volume the account of the machinery of the East India Company. Similarly, the sixth chapter in the second volume, entitled The Company's Servants and Trade to 1660,' is a first-rate example of Sir W. Hunter's very remarkable faculty for the collection and condensation of materials and then for their clear and facile and luminous reissue and recapitulation. It is because of work such as this that, for a time at all events, these two volumes will stand out as a landmark

* It is not often that, where Sir H. Yule fails to discover missing facts, another succeeds. Mr. Roberts has done this with regard to the last exploits and death of Sir John Gayer. Cf. ‘A History of British India,' ii, 375, and Diary of William Hedges' (Hakluyt Society), ii, 155.

[ocr errors]

}

2

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

among histories of European and, in particular, of English commerce with India. In spite of repetitions and dislocations, contradictions, over-hasty and over-bold generalisations and assumptions, our intrepid and indefatigable explorer has, in this his last literary campaign, entered upon and captured unoccupied and difficult territory, wherein he maintains, and is likely for the present to maintain, a species of sovereign title.

We have said that, especially in the first volume, the symptoms of haste were everywhere; and it is incumbent upon us to justify the criticism. Some of the leading aspects of Indo-Portuguese history are cleverly handled, but, on the whole, no comparison is admissible, with regard to their real value as an addition to our knowledge and insight,

between Sir W. Hunter's Portuguese chapters and Mr R. S. ? Whiteway's almost exactly contemporary volume, The | Rise of Portuguese Power in India.' What are we to

think of Sir W. Hunter leaving in two places* his authorities unamended, so that, for all he tells us, we might suppose that Mohammed died and was buried not at Medina but at Mecca. As to his Dutch chapters we shall have to begin our remarks on them with considerable distrust of his argument and to end quite out of agreement with his conclusions. In our view he is here almost perversely wrong in his appreciation, and one or two examples will be enough to show how untrustworthy is his manner of citing and of co-ordinating and subordinating facts. He tells us † that the London merchants in Founders' Hall had before them, on September 22nd, 1599, three models, one being the semi-state pattern of the Dutch. But this semi-state pattern did not come into existence till the

year 1602. Again he informs us that the chances of the | Company rose and fell with the fluctuations of parties,

the older politicians like Burleigh being for peace. The Company was founded December 31st, 1600. Lord Burghley departed this life August 4th, 1598. Once more he assures us that the smaller islands of the Banda group are not mentioned in Vivien de Saint-Martin's great Dictionary of Geography' (Paris, 1879). They are to be found enumerated in that work under the heading 'Banda,' and a second time under the heading · Moluques. As with regard to * 'A History of British India,'i, 101, and 124, 5. Ibid., i, 236. Ibid., i, 256 n.

$ Ibid., i, 372 n.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »