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style leads ordinary readers to imagine that he was not a thinker, and that the just and original reflections which flow from his pen were not his own; though they are spontaneously and necessarily suggested by the facts he records.
The opposite extreme, at which we are now arrived, that of considering every fact with a philosophic eye, may be advantageous to the tendency of history, but not to the historic art. We remarked, in the beginning of this paper, that a philosophical mind is one of the qualities necessary in a historian, but that the smaller, or greater, or excessive use he may make of it, and the modifications of the union of philosophy with history, depends not so much on the writers themselves as on the age in which they live. There is no historian, ancient or modern; there is no writer of memoirs, no meagre chronicler, who has not some object; and the more enlarged is the mind, the more vast is its aim, and the more extensive its horizon. Nowa-days, if a historian treats of some particular epoch, however circumscribed his field, he keeps in view the whole world, and the nature of the human race. Without this, it appears, now, that no historian can become popular, either among learned or unlearned ; and the expression philosophic eye is taken as a sort of guide or standard in criticising works of this description. But as this expression has been used to signify too much, or, rather, every thing, it has come, at last, to present only vague ideas which evaporate into nothing. To bring it back to its true signification, let us take, by way of illustration, the old and the modern historians of the wars between the Parliament and Charles 1. If we separate them into classes and periods, we shall find, that some wrote to favour personal feelings of liking or antipathy; others, the interests of particular towns or districts; others, the interests of parties, as, for instance, by citing facts in support of the rights either of the republican party or of the crown; others, to deduce from this single period and country general observations on politics, and principles of government, applicable to other nations in similar crises. Nevertheless, however different their object, all the historians of all these classes must relate the same facts, and must introduce the same actors. Generally speaking, the historical horizon widens in the ratio of the distance at which the writer lives from that which he is describing. What he gains in extent, however, he loses in detail. Hence the characters of the actors become almost ideal, many genuine traits of nature are lost, and, while the author gains in dignity of expression and depth of expression, he loses in the fidelity of his narrative. Considering him as a painter of great men and great events, the countenances of his figures have the expression peculiar to their respective characters, but, like the historical painter, he has neither the power nor the will to make them portraits.
The philosophy of history, from its earliest period to our own days, has gradually embraced a wider horizon ; and this was the necessary consequence of the times in which the historians lived. Thucydides, Polybius, Livy, and Tacitus, the four greatest philosophical historians of antiquity, had never seen either countries or men out of Greece, or the territory of the Roman Republic. Not a word is to be found in them, of theories of natural rights or imprescriptible principles of universal justice, or of constitutional systems. They bring us acquainted with one people, segregated from the rest of the species so as to exhibit neither resemblances nor differences between nations; nor do they deduce any general reflections on the origin, or progress, or vicissitudes of the various political societies of our globe.
After the revival of letters, Machiavel was the first who described the events of his own little republic of Florence, as if they ought to serve as a lesson to all the other free states in the world; and the subject of his history, though scarcely more than municipal, derives interest and dignity from its tendency, application, and from the profound reflections which the historian continually awakens in our minds. The first book served as a model to Montesquieu, in his “ Historical Considerations on the Greatness and the Decay of Rome," and to Robertson, for bis “ Introduction to his History of Charles V.” A celebrated scholar of Germany accuses Montesquieu of plagiary from Machiavel; and some Italians are not much more merciful to Robertson. We are of opinion, that Montesquieu would have produced the work he did, though Machiavel had never written; but we cannot say the same of Robertson; to whom, however, it would be great injustice to deny the merit of having added facts and established proofs, and coloured the sketch left by Machiavel, with the hand of a master.
Guicciardini, his cotemporary, related the events of the same period in such a manner as to embrace the political changes and interests of every country in Europe. This historian, in the opinion of Lord Bolingbroke, was the first who suggested the balance of power, afterwards acted upon by the statesmen of the contemporaneous reigns of Elizabeth, Henry IV. and Sixtus V.
The historic art may be arranged under three epochs: the first, that of the Greeks and Romans ; the second, that of the Italians; the third, which includes our own time, that of the French and English. The philosophic eye of the historian now embraces soʻlarge a field, that the mind is in great danger of being discouraged by its extent. The more we learn to philosophize on history, the greater will be the difficulties in the way of narrating well. Now-a-days, however brief the
period, however small the corner of earth described by a historian, he must observe and examine with the utmost attention, not only rulers, courts, and armies, but finances, commerce, manufactures, and literature; he must explore the causes and mark the results of every event, and, from this investigation, must ascend to the discovery of those universal and permanent causes, which, in every country, and in every age, have governed the destinies of mankind. It is indisputable that, from the accurate observation of universal and permanent causes, we come at the knowledge of those fixed laws to which all nations are, by nature, subject; and that, in proportion as theory and practice are accommodated to natural laws, systems of government and political constitutions become more stable and more beneficial. To this great end, historical works of genius, from the middle of the last century up to the present time, seem invariably to tend. Unfortunately, some sit down to their task after they have adopted the passions and the interests of a party, and, unconsciously, accommodate their narrative to their prejudices. Others hold some general principle as infallible and eternal, and resort to every expedient to connect facts so as to produce a concatenated system, the first link of which hangs upon their favorite principle. With historians of this stamp, facts are true or false, not in proportion to the weight or the credibility of the testimony on which they rest, but to the ease with which they can be made to fit their system; and when they are found unaccommodating, all historical evidence of them is regarded as suspicious, and inexorably excluded.
Some disadvantages, therefore, are attendant on the advantages of our manner of writing history. But, if we could, we ought not to change it, or try to return to the manner of the ancients, who unite inexplicable defects to their inimitable excellencies. They are totally silent on subjects of agriculture, commerce, and finance; as if the influence of these on the political constitution or on the well-being of nations, was but slight. Indeed, since Bayle, Montesquieu, and Voltaire, who, while they were carried along by the current of their age, , added to its force, introduced this mode of considering and of treating history, whatever changes our posterity may make, we must follow in their track. The excess to which Raynal (in his historical work on the two Indies) and Gibbon carried philosophizing and dissertation in history, seems now to be moderated.
The volcano of the revolution, which was ready to burst over the whole of Europe, had long given indications of its approaching eruption, and had inflamed all minds, especially those of men of genius. The style of history, consequently, became more grave and earnest : but that discordancy of theories and of political events, which fomented wars between nations, insinuated itself into the thoughts and opinions of many writers; nor does it appear that the experience of the revolution has taught them that the historian is, above all men, bound to shun extremes.
If any means of avoiding these exist, they must lie in the use of authenticated facts, caution in all the details, accuracy in the dates, and consequent evidence for causes and effects, and for their order of concatenation.
And since neither the talents nor the life of one man are sufficient to collect and prepare these materials, which are the only true and useful bases of history, the great antiquarians of every nation, who spend their lives in this preliminary and indispensible labour, deserve to be attentively consulted, not only by the writers, but the readers of history. The very coldness and inelegance of their style, and the scrupulous discussion of details and dates, which make them so fatiguing to read, render them peculiarly useful, since they shew us, by contrast, in what way, and to what extent, the imagination of a historian of genius, his eloquence, or the philosophical theories he has imbibed from his age, may have led him to alter facts, or to pervert them to a different tendency from their real one. The patience and calmness, and even the apparent apathy, of compilers of ponderous books of reference, may act as a curb on the imagination of those who have recourse to them; and, by establishing every principle and every deduction solely on the truth of facts neither extenuated nor exaggerated, may invest history with the character, not of a political partisan, but of a judge.
ART. VII.—The Life of General Monck, Duke of Albemarle, &c.
with Remarks upon his Actions. By Tho. Gumble, D.D. one of his Grace's Chaplains. London: Printed by J. S. for Tho. Barret, at the George, near Clifford's Inn, in Fleet Street. 1671.
The following is the sequel of the Life of Monk, down to the period of the Restoration. The preceding portion, the reader will perhaps recollect, was given in our last number.
I am now to relate the measures of the General, and his great acts in the accomplishment of his majesty's most glorious Restoration.
Some time before he put himself in motion and set his face to the South, he had established a correspondence with divers persons in London; and, by this means, had very good intelli
gence of all the proceedings of the pretended powers then in being. And as the several persons who corresponded with him were unknown one to another, and could not therefore con. spire to deceive him, he was the more secure when their informations agreed.
He next concerned himself well to understand the affections of his officers, of whom by his instruments he sounded such as were known to be remote from the hypocrisy and fanaticism of the times; and found in many of them a generous spirit and as much zeal for the work as could be desired. Of such as had been displaced and desired to preserve their commissions, he was most sure; for seldom do men of parts mistake their interests; and poverty disposes us to virtue, though it is but a small degree thereof that is built upon necessity. Three months, however, did he allow to pass over, before he made public his declaration. Meanwhile he busied himself in examining the packets, which arrived from London six times a week; and upon these, to be the more private, did he often spend whole nights. This he did, to obtain a more perfect view of the state of affairs, and a more certain knowledge of the persons in whom he should confide.
At length, on the 17th of October, 1659, the day on which he had intelligence of the parliament's having been forced by Lambert and Fleetwood, he laid the plan of his intended operations; and to the end that they might have no jealousy of his motions, he gave special orders that no packets be allowed to pass into England. Next day he moved with his guards from Dalkeith to Edinburgh, where was quartered his own regiment of foot; and where he seizes upon and secures all the officers who, he knew, would be dissatisfied with his proceedings. The rest of his forces he draws into the field, and declares before them his resolution to adhere to the civil authority, and not to follow the English army in their mad counsels and fanatical courses. They received it with great joy, as did also the whole Scottish nation, which latter hoped it might be the means of breaking the yoke that had been laid upon their necks. Berwick, where most of the officers were anabaptists, he next secures by sending thither a troop of horse, which arrived the night before Colonel Cobbet, sent on the part of the English army, got thither. The dissentient officers and Colonel Cobbet were conveyed into Scotland, and lodged in the Castle of Edinburgh. Same day he sends expresses, inviting several officers—commanders 'in fortified places, or heads of regiments—to meei him at Edinburgh; whom he secures by the way, and finding them averse to his designs detains in custody, and their commands disposes of to others.
October 20th., the general takes possession of the garrison