Imágenes de páginas

it can afford, tainted by the bitter ingredients they are ever dashed with by Envy, Malignity, Hatred, and Slander.

Since the establishment of these evil spirits among men, there has appeared another who displays many of the qualities ascribed to Envy and her offspring. That she is the spurious daughter of Envy all admit, but who is her father cannot so easily be ascertained. She is called Scandal, and is a truly mischievous and hypocritical elf. It is remarkable of her, that she never resides in large and populous cities, but is always to be found in country towns and villages. She is to be met with in all societies, and it is said a barber's shop is her constant resort. But her favourite companions are a certain class of unmarried ladies on the verge of forty. To them she is a never-failing source of pleasure; the very comfort and solace of their lives. When you see two or three of these together, you may be satisfied she is among them, exerting all her powers of dictatorial eloquence, for their entertainment and information. Her particular business is to enquire into the affairs of every one, and conduct them, without their knowledge, to attribute motives to them that never entered their heads, to invent speeches they hever uttered, to anticipate consequences that it is impossible to happen, to magnify trivial faults, and to add to the burden of real crimes. All this she communicates in a manner peculiar to herself; sometimes in a half-whisper, sometimes' aloud, now with a mysterious air, and now with the utmost appearance of candour. But at all times she assumes the garb of pity and commiseration, and endeavours to impress upon her hearers a conviction of her charity and benevolence. This, when she succeeds, (which, by the bye, is but seldom) she calls her master-stroke, and prides herself upon it accordingly. She does not deem it necessary to confine her conversation to any one set of people; on the contrary, it often happens that those very persons she has been entertaining with the imputed faults and mistakes of others, are in their turn analized for the amusement of the next company she goes into. In fine, the end she seeks in all her labours is, to sow dissention in families, to render innocence suspected, to make the firmest attachments appear doubtful, and the most honourable and disinterested conduct selfish and villainous; to cast a veil over the actions of virtue in all situations, and to soothe her pride and malice, in placing human nature in the most degrading light, by attributing to each individual every possible fault, without the alleviation of one opposite good quality.

Lichfield, 15th April, 1802.




The History of England, from the Accession of King George the Third, to the Conclusion of Peace in the Year 1783. By John Adolphus, Esq. F. S. A. 3 Vols. 8vo. 1802.

THE difficulties inseparable from the execution of this very important work, seem to have been so fully felt by the author, and he appears in his preface to have formed such just ideas of the duties of an historian, that we cannot better commence our review of one of the most interesting periods of the British annals, than by allowing him to speak for himself.-Mr. Adolphus observes :

"When I undertook the work which is now submitted to the public, I did not overlook the difficulties of the execution, nor overrate my own powers.

"I fully appreciated the delicacy of detailing the annals of a living sovereign, and, of descanting on the conduct and motives of men who yet survive, or who have been recently removed from the busy scene. I was aware that bitter calumny or fulsome adulation had disfigured most of their characters; and that the real image of persons, as well as the true colour of events, could with difficulty be discerued through the noxious mist or splendid vapour. I knew that other writers had executed the same task, and had even extended their labours to a nearer, and consequently more interesting period than that which it was my intention for the present to occupy; and as my manner of estimating characters, and considering events, differed materially from theirs, I did not disguise from myself the reasons for apprehending, that my work would be exposed to some disadvantages from the effects of prepossession.

"History has been termed, by a just and well known definition, philosophy instructing by examples; but the nature of the doctrine will always be considerably influenced by the temper, views, and prejudices of the historian; and that writer must be highly culpable, who, before he undertakes the task of directing the opinions of mankind on the most important subjects, omits examining with diligence and candour the feelings, limits, and bias of his own mind, estimating his means of information, and earnestly seeking to discover with a view of mitigat➡ ing their effects, the predilections, antipathies, hopes, and fears by which he is actuated. If these are suffered to operate in discolouring the narrative, which ought to be given with the utmost candour, the author is guilty of a fraud in announcing his work as a history; it is, at the utmost, but an historical essay, in which the writer, assuming the part of a disputant, bends facts, characters, and circumstances to his own views; falsifies, suppresses, or perverts them, to suit his purposes, and instead of informing, seeks only to persuade, seduce, or corrupt the reader.


"Works written in this manner, and published under the denomination of history, are filled with redundant and indiscriminate praise of some personages while others are loaded with malevolent and unsparing abuse. To justify these extremes, authors imagine, for the personages of their narratives, a consistent uniformity of intention and conduct, which truth never has been able to pourtray; nor a careful inspector of human life to discern. That men should be stedfastly patriotic, and, in their pursuit of the public good, always temperate, just, and self-denying, is very desirable, but the historian feels with sensible regret, the necessity of recording the abberrations of the most elevated minds; and that work must be a romance, not a history, which fails to shew that individuals, whose general views have been directed to the benefit of their country, have been in occasional acts, rash, vain, factious, arbitrary, or absurd. Such are the materi als presented by the course of events, that a party writer, taking the bright or the clouded parts of characters, receiving with avidity the vehement assertions of panegyrists or detractors, and suppressing facts or observations on the other side, may, for the moment, make almost any impression, without foregoing the appearance of candour; but truth will, in time, forcibly appeal against such misrepre sentations, and the gloss of exaggerated applause, and the blots of unmerited censure being removed, her interesting features will be contemplated with a regard, heightened in consequence of the temporary concealment.

"It may still be doubted, whether the period is yet arrived, when the conspicuous persons of the present reign can be so impartially reviewed. The heat of party contest has rendered the public so familiar with calumniatory declamation, that the historian incurs some risk in venturing to dismiss from his vocabulary certain abusive phrases, or in presuming to doubt of certain supposed political facts, so gravely advanced, and so forcibly urged by the wise and the eloquent. He exposes himself to a still greater hazard in attempting to rescue from long accredited imputations, characters, whom the enmity of faction, and the greedy credulity of the public, have consecrated to obloquy, and in venturing to shew, that in many instances unblushing calumny has been mistaken for sober truth, faction for patriotism, and selfishness for public spirit."

The prominent features of Mr. Adolphus's work, are impartiality of statement, perspicuity of arrangement, and clearness and vigour of expression. In obtaining the most authentic information, he has been indefatigable, for he has not only consulted all the official documents necessary to his purpose, and read the most approved publications and tracts, that related to the memorable events he had to describe; but he has also derived much new and valuable information from persons still living, whose rank, talents, and situation, enabled them to form a just estimate of our national affairs, from the accession of his Majesty, to the peace of 1783. Possessed of such copious and satisfactory sources of knowledge, he has, in many instances, succeeded in tracing events to their proper causes, in clearing up contested points, and in rescuing from unmerited obloquy, characters of eminence and real patriotism. He has, as it were, viewed the very working of the mine, and the materials which

it has thrown out, he has disposed with the skill and judgment suited to the importance of his labours. He has, in the words of Bolinbroke, separated "the pure ore from the dross, to stamp it into coin, and to enrich, not incumber mankind."

The author has uniformly distinguished himself by his steady and pure attachment to the constitution of his country, both in church and state; but however widely he differs in sentiment from the advocates of modern reform, or the champions of those newfangled political systems, which for nearly twelve years have distracted the world and desolated some of the finest and happiest parts of Europe, he is never guilty of virulent invective against those, who, in the times he has occasion to notice, might be fairly supposed to encourage doctrines not altogether dissimilar.

In his account of the rise and progress of the American war, the enlightened reader will perceive that a considerable portion of new and authentic information is introduced. The attention bestowed upon the affairs of Ireland, is in almost every respect adequate to their importance, and the events in India, with the exception of those that took place under the government of Mr. Hastings, are carefully attended to. For this omission Mr. Adolphus accounts, by considering their more natural and proper situation to be in the interval between the peace of 1783, and the period when new regulations were adopted for the government of our Asiatic territories.

The authorities are given with great exactness, generally at the page, but at least at the chapter or section of the works referred to.

The author has, in his preface, entered into an apology for the length at which some of the debates in both houses of parliament are given; but we cannot deem this apology satisfactory. He says; "Those who consider the great efforts employed in the senate during the whole of the reign, and the effects of parliamentary eloquence in guiding the public mind, will not think the narrative of these discussions too minute." So far we agree with him, but when we find the speeches of men of no great weight in the public estimation, spun out occasionally to a tedious length, we regret that any portion of a work so truly valuable should be thus appropriated. He has also, but not frequently, descended to a minuteness in his account of events, comparatively insignificant and trifling, which is not perfectly consistent with the end or dignity of the historian.

In our next number we shall resume our review of the history,

which is divided into the following periods, as comprehended under

each volume.

1. From his majesty's accession to what is called the revolution in Denmark in 1772.

2. From the affairs of India in 1770, to a short time after the surrender of Burgoyne at Saratoga.

And 3. From the meeting of parliament in 1777, to the conclusion of peace, which is followed by a masterly recapitulation of the state and interests of the belligerent powers.

Maurice's Modern History of India. Concluded from Page 402.

HAVING already gone into considerable detail respecting this work; having considered the great difficulty, arising from the paucity of materials, for carrying on any concatenated history of India, during the early and middle ages of the christian æra; and having presented our readers with copious extracts from the work itself, which demonstrate that it nevertheless is as ably conducted through those obscure periods as united industry and abilities would allow, we consider the task of justice to the author completed, and it is for the entertainment of our readers that we add the few following extracts with which we shall conclude our strictures.

After the great battle between the confederated Indian rajahs, and Subuctagi, the Mahommedan chieftain,” an account of which was inserted in our last number, the whole of upper India gradually submitted to the Moslem yoke, and the tyrant Mahmud, of Gazna, in the succeeding century, carried his arms even to the Ganges itself. Of his twelve irruptions, already noticed, the fifth, as describing the attack upon the ancient and venerable city of Mattura, is by no means the least interesting, and the relation is therefore subjoined.

"On the extreme southern verge of the dominions of the rajah of Delhi, and thirty-six miles above Agra, stood the ancient, rich, and most renowned city of Mattura, which has been before mentioned as the Methora of Ptolemy. Having been the scene of the birth and early adventures of the greatest and most beloved deity of the Hindoos, CREESHNA, or Veeshnu, in the eighth avatar, many of which, at this place and its immediate neighbourhood, have been detailed in his life, inserted in the Ancient History, Mattura was ever regarded by the whole nation in a light peculiarly sacred. Its very name was pronounced with reverential awe, and, according to the Ayeen Akbery, the whole country round for forty-eight coss, is accounted holy. No idea can be formed of the riches and -splendour of this great city, the ancient metropolis of the pious YADU tribe, on which kings, and saints, and reverend pilgrims, had for ages been heaping un

* Ayeen Abery, Vol. II. p. 547.

« AnteriorContinuar »