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performance. The advantages he derived from it he frequently declared to be incalculable; and it certainly was not among the least, that it afforded him an opportunity of cultivating the friendship of the Author, and consulting him on many points connected with his own undertaking. As the early part of his correspondence is of a general nature, I subjoin his first letter, and an extract from the second.
To Malcolm Laing, Esq.
“ I ought long since to have acknowledged the re
ceipt of your History of Scotland, and to have re“ turned you my thanks for your early communication " to me of that excellent work. It has given me the
greatest satisfaction; and there are several points relating to English history in it, which you appear to me to have cleared up much more than
other of those “ historians who have professedly treated of them.
“What you say in answer to Hume, upon the subject of Glamorgan's powers, is quite conclusive; but “ I rather regret that you have not taken notice of
that part of his argument which is built upon what “ he calls Glamorgan's defeazance, and which is the most plausible part of it.
In Charles the Second's reign, I observe that you - do not mention the atrocious case of Wier, which
Hume details; but that which you say of Laurie of
Blackwood is very like what he relates of Wier. • Would it be too much trouble to ask of you to let me
know whether Hume's statement of Wier is a correct "one?
I had detected the trick of Hume's theatrical and “ false representation of Charles the First hearing the “ noise of his scaffold, but did not know that he had had Herbert's authentick account so lately under his eye.
. “ In general, I think you treat him (Hume) too tenderly. • He was an excellent man, and of great powers of
mind, but his partiality to kings and princes is into
lerable. Nay, it is, in my opinion, quite ridiculous, " and is more like the foolish admiration which women
and children sometimes have for kings, than the opinion, right or wrong, of a philosopher.
I wanted no conviction on the point of Ossian; " but if I had, you afford abundance.
Whether your book, coming out at a period when the principles upon it which appears to be written are
becoming so unfashionable, will be a popular one or " not, I know not; but to all who wish to have a true
knowledge of the history of your country, it is a most " valuable acquisition, and will serve to counteract " the mischief which Hume, Dalrymple, Macpherson,
Somervile, and others of your countrymen have “ done. You will easily believe that I do not class
“ Hume with the others, except as to the bad tendency “ of their representations.
“ I shall desire my friend, Lord Lauderdale, to s transmit this to you.
" I am, with great regard,
“ C. J. FOX."
St. Anne's Hill,
Extract from a Second Letter to Mr. Laing.
Many thanks to you, my dear Sir, for yours of the ** 10th. I have found the place in Ralph, and a great “ deal more important matter relative to the transac“tions of those times, which is but slightly touched by “ other historians. I am every day more and more sur
prized, that Ralph should have had so much less reputation as an historian than he seems to deserve.
“ I will trouble you freely when I shall have far“ther questions to ask; but I should take it very ill if
you were so to confine your answer to mere matter of reference, as not to give me your opinion, when you form any, upon the points in question."
A correspondence ensued, from which it appears that he took indefatigable pains to investigate the authority for every assertion in the writers he consulted, and to correct the slightest' variation in their accounts,
though apparently of little importance. Before he drew any inference whatever, the weight of evidence was so carefully balanced in his mind, that the authority for each particular circumstance was separately examined, and distinctly ascertained. Indeed the necessity and even use of such extreme circumspection, such scrupulous sifting of his most minute materials, might at first sight appear questionable. But many parts of the work are sufficient to prove that such labours were far from being fruitless. An instance is easily selected. His enquiries concerning the seizure and execution of the Earl of Argyle, are contained in the correspondence with Mr. Laing, and they are of the nature I have described; but on reading his narrative of those events, the advantages he derived from the circumstantial minuteness of his materials, will not be found less striking, than his diligence in procuring and analyzing them.
One of the earliest and greatest difficulties that he encountered in the course of his labours, arose from the manner in which Mr. Macpherson and Sir J. Dalrymple had explained and conducted their respective publications, and which he always considered as unsatisfactory. His complaints of both these authors. were frequent; and the more he examined and studied their books, the more he perceived the necessity of making some further researches. He was anxious, if possible, to consult the original documents from which
their extracts were made; and he was at first apprehensive, that nothing short of an examination of all the manuscripts of the Scotch College at Paris, could enable him to determine the degree of credit due to the extracts of Macpherson. But he must very soon have despaired of obtaining that satisfaction, for he had strong reasons to suspect, even before his journey to Paris in 1802, that the most valuable part, if not the whole of them, had been destroyed. Three important points, however, might yet be ascertained:- 1st, Of what the manuscripts, so long preserved in the Scotch College at Paris, actually consisted;—2ndly, To what part of them either Carte or Macpherson had access;—3dly, Whether any portion, copies, or fragments, of the papers were still in existence. The result of his enquiries will be best given in his own words, though upon the first point he had ascertained * something more than appears from the following extract of his letter to Mr. Laing.
* Among Mr. Fox's papers was found a list of " the works which were placed in the Scotch College at Paris, soon after the death of James the
Second, and were there at the time of the French Revolution." It is as follows:
Memoirs in James the Second's own handFour volumes folio, six | volumes quarto,
writing, beginning from the time that he was
sixteen years of age. Two thin quarto volumes, nisters to James the Second (then Duke of York,)
Containing letters from Charles the Second's mi
when he was at Brussels and in Scotland, MS. Two thin quarto volumes, (Containing letters from Charles the Second to
his brother, James Duke of York, MS.