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particulars relating to this subject, in the year 1804, and transmitted it to Mr. Fox. It contains in substance, though with some additional circumstances, and slight variations, the same account as Mr. Cameron's, up to the period of the writer's leaving St. Omer, which was previous to the imprisonment of the Frenchman.*
Mr. Fox, in a letter to Mr. Laing, remarks, that, to “know that a paper is lost, is next best to getting a sight “ of it, and in some instances nearly as good.” So many rumours have been circulated, and so many misapprehensions prevailed, respecting the contents and the fate of the Manuscripts formerly deposited in the Scotch College at Paris, that it is hoped the above account, the result of the Historian's researches, will not be deemed out of its place in a Preface to a History of the times to which those manuscripts related.
The Scotch College papers were not, however, the only, nor even the chief object of Mr. Fox's historical enquiries at Paris. He had remarked, that Sir John Dalrymple frequently quotes, or rather refers to,t" documents in the Depôt des Affaires Etrangères, without printing the letter, or extracting the passage from which his statements are taken, and his inferences drawn.
* Mr. Mostyn's letter to Mr. Butler was published in one of the Magazines, it would therefore be superfluous to reprint it. The name of the Frenchman was Mr. Charpentier, and his country house was at St. Momelin, near St. Omer. + MS. Correspondence.
This made him particularly desirous of examining the Original Letters of Barillon; and he was not without hopes that many other papers in the Depôt des Affaires Etrangères, might prove equally interesting and important. It was obvious, however, that during war, he could not have personal access to such documents. He was therefore on the point of applying, through some private friend at Paris, for a copy of such letters as he could distinctly describe to his correspondent, when the restoration of peace enabled him to repair thither; and the liberality of the French Government opened to him the archives of the Foreign Affairs without reserve, and afforded him every facility and convenience for consulting and copying such papers as appeared to him to be material. He lost no time in availing himself of this permission, and while he remained at Paris, he passed a great part of every morning at the Depôt des Affaires Etrangères, accompanied by his friends Lord St. John, Mr. Adair, and Mr. Trotter, who assisted him in examining and transcribing the original papers.
The correspondence of Barillon did not disappoint his expectations. He thought the additional information contained in those parts of it, which Sir John Dalrymple had omitted to extract, or to publish, so important, that he procured copies of them all. He observed to one of his correspondents,“ my studies at Paris have been use“ ful beyond what I can describe:" and his expression
to me was, that " Barillon's letters were worth their oo
weight in gold."* It should seem that he discovered some curious circumstances from the correspondence of D'Avaux, for he copied out those letters also at length, though a large collection or abstract of them had been formerly published.
The correspondence of the above mentioned French Ministers with their Court, formed the chief materials which he brought over with him from France. He was disappointed at my failing to procure him that of the Spanish Ambassador,+ 'resident in London during the same period, “ which, he said, would have given him
advantages of the greatest consequence over all other “ historians." The papers, however, of which he was already in possession were, in his judgment, sufficient to throw new light upon many transactions of the reign of King James the Second. If, therefore, unforeseen circumstances had not occurred, soon after his return, to retard the progress of his work, there can be little doubt, but he would have composed more during that year, than he had been able to complete since the commencement of the undertaking. He was at first occupied
* MS. Correspondence.
· Don Pedro Ronquillo. Mr. Fox commissioned me to obtain for him, copies of his Letters from 1685 to 1688 inclusive. By a perverse piece of luck, I fell in with and purchased his original Letters from 1689 to 1691; but could never find any traces whatever of his previous correspondence.
in inserting into the parts he had finished, such additional information as he had drawn from the sources opened to him by his researches at Paris. This was to him a task of greater labour than at first sight might be expected. “ I find," he says, “piecing in the bits which
I have written from my Parisian materials, a trouble
some job."* It is indeed probable, that his difficulties upon this occasion, were greater than any
other modern historian would have had to encounter. I have mentioned them more particularly, because they in some measure arose from his scrupulous attention to certain notions he entertained on the nature of an historical composition. If indeed the work were finished, the nature of his design would be best collected from his execution of it; but as it is unfortunately in an incomplete and unfinished state, his conception of the duties of an historian may very possibly be misunderstood. The consequence would be, that some passages, which, according to modern taste, must be called peculiarities, might, with superficial critics, pass for defects which he had overlooked, or imperfections which he intended to correct. It is, therefore, necessary to observe, that he had formed his plan so exclusively on the model of ancient writers, that he not only felt some repugnance to the modern practice of notes, but he thought that all which an historian wished to say, should be introduced as part of a continued narration, and never assume the appearance of a digression, much less of a dissertation annexed to it. From the period, therefore, that he closed his Introductory Chapter, he defined his duty as an author, to consist in recounting the facts as they arose, or in his simple and forcible language, in telling the story of those times. A conversation which passed on the subject of the literature of the age of James the Second, proves his rigid adherence to these ideas, and perhaps the substance of
* MS. Correspondence.
may serve to illustrate and explain them. In speaking of the writers of that period, he lamented that he had not devised a method of interweaving any account of them or their works, much less any criticism on their style, into his History. On my suggesting the example of Hume and Voltaire, who have discussed such topicks at some length, either at the end of each reign, or in a separate Chapter, he observed, with much commendation of their execution of it, that such a contrivance might be a good mode of writing critical essays, but that it was, in his opinion, incompatible with the nature of his undertaking, which, if it ceased to be a narrative, ceased to be a history.
Such restraints undoubtedly operated as taxes upon his ingenuity, and added to that labour which the observance of his general laws of composition rendered sufficiently great. On the rules of writing he had reflected much, and deeply. His own habits naturally