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useful and able Ralph, who, in the years 1744 and 1746, was delivered of two immense folios, which comprise the term of forty years, from the Restoration to the death of William III.; and which have been raised by the commendation bestowed on them by Mr Fox, and by the attention thus shown to their merit, from complete neglect to a considerable price in catalogues. Ralph, however, is not impartial, or always fair, in his political opinions; a strong dislike to William III. leavening his second volume; and he seems on the whole to have wished rather to please the Tories of his own age, changed as they had been by long exclusion from power, than the Whigs, who had as long breathed the air of a court. As Ralph had the reputation of letting his pen to hire in factious pamphlets, some suspicion, though perhaps unjustly, might fall on his sincerity in this greater work.
A far superior writer to Guthrie, or even Rapin, was Thomas Carte, a nonjuring clergyman, distinguished for his beautiful edition of Thuanus, commonly called Buckley's, his Life of the Duke of Ormond, and several other contributions to historical literature. A large subscription enabled him to undertake a History of England, to be founded on more extensive researches than had bitherto been required. The universal exactness of historical learning, the diligence shown in topographical and biographical illustrations of past times, the controversies as to political and personal character, the prevailing spirit of scepticism, sometimes acute, sometimes excessive, but always demanding industry to repel it, bad raised the standard of truth both in narration and discussion of general facts; so that errors, which, if observed at all, would have been slighted a century before, assumed a new magnitude in the microscope of an antiquary or controversial disputant. Carte appeared, by his industry and command of materials, well qualified to fill a post, wbich as yet was but imperfectly supplied by a foreigner. In 1747, he published the first volume of a History of England, by Thomas · Carte, an Englishman.' It was immediately evident, that he was master of his ground in a very different degree from any of his predecessors. Not only the collection of Rymer, but the Rolls of Parliament, hitherto unknown, except by an incorrect abridgement, and other archives of our ancient government, were made contributory to his purpose. It might, indeed, have been predicted, that an honest jacobite could scarcely give such a colour to the Tudor and Stuart reigns, to say nothing of older times, as the friends of constitutional liberty were likely to approve. But Carte managed to anticipate their objections by inserting in his first volume a story of one Thomas Lovell, who being afflicted with a scrofulous complaint, had recovered his health on being touched at Avignon, by the descendant of a • long line of kings. The loyal subjects of the House of Hanover took the alarm; the city of London withdrew its subscription ; and Carte was compelled to prosecute his task with very diminished assistance from the public, and a slur on the reputation of his work. He did not yield to those discouragements; a second volume appeared in 1750, a third in 1752, and a fourth in 1755. This, however, brings down the history only to 1654, instead of the Revolution, as originally designed. Carte is certainly no concise writer. On a loose calculation, we find that, down to the reign of James I., his letter-press is to that of Rapin about as three to two; to that of Hume as nine to four; and to that of Dr Lingard, less than two to one. This prolixity, and the inconvenience of the folio size, which excludes so many books of ancient repute from the tables of a more indolent generation, have rendered Carte's History, comparatively even with Rapin, an obscure book. As far, however, as the reign of James I. inclusive, he is incomparably superior to Rapin, in copiousness of materials and accuracy of statement. Instead of confining himself, like his predecessor, to the more common printed authorities, he sought access to original papers, both in Paris and London ; and perhaps fell sometimes into the not unusual fault of relying too much on rare and unpublished documents when they disagreed with popular history. It is hardly necessary to observe, that Carte is to be read with great caution on all subjects of constitutional privileges.
The last volume of Carte had not issued from the press, when an eminent writer, conspicuous already for a diversified and brilliant, though sometimes too eccentric, career over the fields of literature and philosophy, undertook a labour not apparently very congenial to the habits of his mind, as they had hitherto been displayed, in a History of the House of Stuart. Hume published the first volume of this in 1754, and the second in 1756. The History of the House of Tudor followed at equal length in 1759; and two more volumes in 1761, by a curiously retrograde process, completed the usual course from Julius Cæsar to the Revolution. Eulogy is superfluous on a work which is not only the greatest monument of historical literature in our language, but in many respects equal perhaps to any which either ancient or modern Italy has produced. Many have excelled, and others will hereafter excel Hume in their knowledge of the spirit of antiquity, in their exactness and circumstantiality of narration, and, what is more important, in their rigorous adherence to the laws of moral and historical truth, in the estimate of political transactions and characters. But we can hardly hope to see his rival in reflections usually just, and often profound, without the involution of mystical pedantry, in the harmonious subordination of illustrative digressions to the main stream of history, or, still less perhaps, in a style equally fitted for narration and for dissertation, -easy without being feeble, simple without dryness, and, if not always free from a little affectation in idiom, never losing its elegance in redundant ornament, or learned abstraction.
It has been often asserted that Hume has made great use of Carte's History, especially in his first two volumes; and he has even been called bis copyist. We have had the curiosity to compare a few passages at random, and the result is, to a great extent, in confirmation of this fact. We mean only, that Hume appears to have written with Carte always open before him, and to have followed bim, generally speaking, not only in the arrangement of events, but in the structure of his exposition of them; giving, however, the colour of his own thoughts and style to the whole narration, and continually, as we believe, both verifying the statements of his predecessor, and adding what he thought requisite to his own by a reference to the original sources. As this is a matter of some literary curiosity, we will insert two very short extracts in order to exhibit this parallelism.
Henry was hunting in the New Forest, when he heard the news of his brother William's death; and resolving to make a push for the throne, went immediately to the Castle of Winchester, to demand the keys of the royal treasury, which the guards made some difficulty in delivering. They were in the custody of William de Breteuil, (the eldest son of William Fits-Osborn, formerly Earl of Hereford,) who was likewise in another quarter of the forest; when, being surprised with an account of the king's death, he made all possible haste home to take care of his charge; and, arriving in the middle of the dispute, told the young prince that neither the treasure nor the sceptre of England belonged to him, but to his elder brother Robert, to whom he and others of the chief nobility had already done homage. High words arose, and blows were likely to follow, when Robert, Count of Meulant, with a great number of the late king's attendants, coming in, took the part of the prince present, and forced William to leave him master of the treasure, with which they hoped, perhaps, to be rewarded for their service.' -- Carte, vol. i. P: 480.
• Prince Henry was hunting with Rufus in the New Forest, when intelligence of that prince's death was brought him; and, being sensible of the advantage attending the conjuncture, he immediately galloped to Winchester, in order to secure the royal treasure, which he knew to be a necessary implement for facilitating his designs upon the crown. He had scarcely reached the place when William de Breteuil, keeper of the treasure, arrived, and opposed himself to Henry's pretensions. This nobleman, who had been engaged in the same party of hunting, had no sooner heard of his master's death, than he bastened to take care of his charge; and he told the prince,
that this treasure, as well as the crown, belonged to his elder brother, who was now his sovereign ; and that he himself, for his part, was determined, in spite of all other pretensions, to maintain his allegiance to him. But Henry, drawing his sword, threatened him with instant death if he dared to disobey him; and as others of the late king's retinue, who came every moment to Winchester, joined the prince's party, Breteuil was obliged to withdraw his opposition, and to acquiesce in this violence.'—Hume, vol. i., p. 222. 4to.
It will be understood by the reader that we produce these passages as an example, not as sufficient proof, of Hume's use of Carte. A single incident cannot, of course, display this so conclusively as a series of events expanded into several paragraphs, which we have not room to insert. But we believe that any one will satisfy himself of what we have said by a comparison of the two volumes in different parts. If it should be conceived that historians, relating the same events from several authorities, will naturally adopt an identical arrangement, even in the structure of their sentences, the contrary will be shown by trying the experiment upon Rapin or Lingard. It will appear, if a fair number of instances be tried, that the diversities in the order and tone of impressions made on the mind of an historian who compares and meditates upon his materials, will prevent two wholly independent writers, as soon as they leave the track of mere translation, from presenting similar narrations to the reader's eye. In these observations we have not the slightest intention of bringing the absurd charge of plagiarism against our philosophical historian. On the contrary, we think that having ascertained, as he undoubtedly did, the judiciousness and veracity of Carte, he acted much more fairly by his readers in keeping a valuable model before his eyes in composition, than if he had endeavoured to weave a new web of a texture which he would, perhaps, himself have felt to be inferior. It had not been the occupation of his life to investigate the early annals of England; and those who can only devote a limited time to any historical study, know well the importance of a standard work to marshal and methodize their enquiries.
The unpretending and elegant, though necessarily superficial, abridgement of Goldsmith, bardly deserves notice in this place; much less an epitome of that abridgement, entitled, “ History of England, in Letters from a Nobleman to his Son,' which the booksellers' catalogues ridiculously attribute to Lord Lyttleton. Nor has Smollett in the slightest degree better pretensions than Goldsmith to authority as an historian, while he is utterly deficient in the qualities of style which belong to the latter. His continuation of Hume, nevertheless, having been generally bound up in the same series by those Mezentiuses, the booksellers, who yoke the dead to the living, and the high-bred courser to their own battered hackney, has obtained, not a reputation, but a sale which it little deserves. The history of the same period, which we hope to obtain from the pen of Sir James Mackintosh, will send Smollett to the cheesemongers. Not more than a few years had elapsed since the publication of Hume's last volumes, when Dr Henry announced a History of Britain upon a new plan. Each volume, of which he promised twelve, was to be divided into seven chapters, for the civil and military, the ecclesiastical, the legal and constitutional, the literary history, that of arts, of commerce, and of manners, for the several periods which the entire work was to comprehend. It seems that he had contemplated its continuance to his own time; but death intercepted his progress in the sixth volume, at the death of Henry VIII. The success of Henry's history for many years after its appearance, cannot be ascribed to any grace of his style, which is homely, though not absolutely bad, nor to any depth of research, for he is superficial, perhaps inevitably so, in every portion of his multifarious narrations, but to the increasing avidity for information upon arts and learning, and upon the domestic life of our ancestors, which his peculiar scheme of composition led him to display on a far greater scale than had been usual with the historian of public events. The scheme itself merits no great praise; even as an arrangement to facilitate reference, it does not supersede the necessity of an index, though he bas given none; and the reader, who undertakes the perusal of the whole, is distracted by continually passing from one subject to another of a totally different nature. The important accessions to our knowledge on the subjects of many chapters in Dr Henry's history since its publication, have diminished its usefulness; though they cannot, of course, take away from his just praise of having made much accessible which was then beyond the reach of an ordinary reader.
We shall no otherwise advert to living historians than to observe, that Mr Sharon Turner has earned the honourable reputation of indefatigable diligence, of the love of truth and mankind, but has exposed himself more and more in each successive volume to literary criticisms, which this is not the place to point out; and that in the first volume of Sir James Mackintosh's History of England, in the Cabinet Cyclopædia, we find enough to warrant the anticipations of the public, that a calm and luminous philosophy will diffuse itself over the long narration of our British story. But we must expect the full display of that eminent writer's powers in the ensuing volumes.
From Dr Lingard we have perhaps suffered ourselves to be VOL. LIII. NO, cv.