« НазадПродовжити »
MR. COLBURN'S LIST OF NEW
NEW WORK S.
Now Published for the first time in the octavo form, in 3 vols., with
Portraits. Price 36s., bound.
MEMOIRS OF THE REIGN
KING GEORGE THE SECOND;
BY HORACE WALPOLE, EARL OF ORFORD. EDITED, WITH A PREFACE AND NOTES, BY THE LATE LORD
HOLLAND. Tue manuscript of these “ Memoirs of the Reign of George the Second” was found at Strawberry Hill on the death of Horace Walpole, along with that of the “Memoirs of the Reign of George the Third,” lately published by Sir Denis Le Marchant, in two chests, relative to which the author left written directions that they were not to be opened till a considerable period after his decease. That time having arrived, the seals were removed, and the nobleman to whom the Memoirs bad been bequeathed (the Earl of Waldegrave), decided on giving them to the public ; and that they might possess every ssible advantage it was arranged that they should appear under the editorial auspices of the late Lord Holland, whose intimate acquaintance with the period illustrated, family connexion with the most celebrated individuals of the time, and distinguished scholarship, appeared to point him out as above all men peculiarly fitted for the task of preparing them for the press.
There can be no question that the “ Memoirs of the Reign of George II.” far exceed in public interest any of the numerous productions of the same accomplished pen. The writer was in a position either to observe the extraordinary events then occurring, or to command intelligence from the most secret sources. Known as the son of the ablest minister the age produced (Sir Robert Walpole) and having many of his nearest friends and relatives members at different periods either of the government or of the opposition, it is impossible to imagine an individual more favourably circumstanced to record the stirring scenes and great events that made the reign of George II. so remarkable. But to these advantages must be added a talent in portraying the characteristics of his contemporaries, and a vivacity in describing the scenes in which they figured so conspicuously, in which he is without a rival.
“The intimacy which,” as Lord Holland most truly observes in his
introduction to this work, “the author enjoyed with many of the chief personages of the times, and what he calls his propensity to faction made him acquainted with the most secret intrigues and negotiations of parties,” and bis lordship goes on to state that the period of which he treats is a part of our bistory little known to us, ye well deserving our curiosity, as it forms a transition from the expiring struggles of Jacobitism to the more important contests that have since engaged and still occupy, our attention.
“ His account of parliamentary debates alone,” he adds, “ would be a valuable addition to our history.” On the same subject the author himself says in the postscript to these memoirs, “ For the facts, such as were not public, I received them chiefly from my father and Mr. Fox, both men of veracity; and some from communication with the Duke of Bedford at the very time they were in agitation. I am content to rest their authenticity on the sincerity of such men. The speeches I can affirm, nay, of every one of them, to be still more authentic, as I took notes at the time, and have delivered the arguments just as I heard them.”
It may be as well to remind the reader that the reign of George II. was rendered memorable by the dawning of the greatness of Pitt, and the minority of George III.; by the struggles of the grandson of James II., commonly called “The Young Pretender,” to win back the forfeited throne of the Stuarts; by the opposition to the reigning king of his son Frederick Prince of Wales ; by the remarkable trial and execution of Admiral Byng, and the no less celebrated court-martial on Lord George Sackville; by the splendid victories of Wolfe in America, and Lord Clive in India; the capture of Cherbourg, the acquisition of Cape Breton, and the naval triumphs of Boscawen, Howe, Hawke, Watson, Vernon, and Saunders. The most distinguished of contemporary sovereigns were Frederick the Great, Louis XV., Augustus King of Saxony, the Czarina Elizabeth, and the Empress Maria Theresa ; and in consequence of the interest George II. took in his Hanoverían dominions, the English were continually engaged in the war then raging in Germany, in which these sovereigns were involved.
These incidents are chronicled with a masterly hand by Walpole ; and the reader will look in vain elsewbere for the spirited sketches that enrich the narrative of the various actors in them at home and abroad. In no other work can he hope so thoroughly to become acquainted with the features of such statesmen as Sir Robert Walpole, Bolingbroke, Pulteney, John Duke of Bedford, the Pelhams, the Townshends, the Grenvilles, Chatham, Fox, and the other great names that adorned the cabinet and the senate—or of Chesterfield, Bubb Doddington, George Selwyn, and Hanbury Williams; politicians, however, who seemed to care much more for the reputation of wits than the fame of senators, though they possessed considerable pretensions to both characters. But the careful chronicler omits no link in the social scale that may serve to characterise the curious age he delineates. The result is a history which, with the veracity of a clironicle, affords equal entertainment with the most vivacious romance, and though sufficiently attractive in its own merits to all classes of readers, is essential to every library containing any portion of the Walpole Works and Correspondence.