silver current over the pebbles of its bed, without a shaking of the water, to make it turbid, and almost without a refraction. The language should glide with the sweetest simplicity ; proper words in proper places ; for the object of history is not to color or magnify, but, like a glass window, to convey the conception of the landscape as it is, with all its beauties and imperfections. It is the last place in the world to indulge in what is erroneously called fine writing, which is but another name for fine deceiving. I wish to see Old Time arrayed in the multician and coan garments of antiquity, * and not wrapped in surplices and robes, like a bishop at the altar, or a lord on a court day, when the dress and the ceremony hide the shape and the character which we are most curious to see.

History professes to give us facts; and, therefore, if it misstates or misinterprets those facts, it becomes tenfold more deceiving. All our wisdom comes from experience; and whatever is not within the compass of our own experience, comes from the testimony of others. The Ruler of the world is constantly reading us a lesson, in the execution of his providential laws. Now the transmission of this lesson depends upon the faithfulness of the record ; and, had history always been written as it ought, had moral causes and effects been always brought up before the mind, just as God, in his eternal laws, has connected them, I can conceive nothing more calculated to give the mind all the instruction that this world can afford. Unhappily, however, we are compelled, except in the pages of revelation, to see past time through a fallible medium. The objects surveyed are the works of God, performed indeed through the agency of man, but the medium is always artificial; we see them enlarged, diminished, distorted, through the prejudices of the writer-or, what is the greatest source of deception, we often have the truth, but not the whole truth. In such cases, truth itself has the effect of falsehood.

It is a melancholy circumstance, that history has so often fallen into the hands of men acute, rather than wise ; willing rather to show their own intellectual omnipotence, than to give us a fair representation of real events; men of perverted intellects and depraved hearts. Such men will certainly never reach the sublime and beautiful of history. No man

* Juvenal, Sat. II. 65 line.

can write well, unless his soul speaks ; unless his passions prompt his pen. He

may be master of a very fine style ; he may draw his characters with much delicacy and discrimination ; he may satirize folly, and sometimes make truth ridiculous; he may show great intellectual power ; power which we should admire in an ancient orator, or a modern lawyer. But, after all, he is not a good historian. He misleads the world, and perhaps himself.

Of all the men who have led the way in this perverted style of history, perhaps none have been more popular and successful than David Hume. The remark of Dr. Johnson, that no man ever became great by imitation, is not always true ; for when a great genius condescends to imitate an inferior model, he only shows how surprizingly he can surpass his pattern. Hume, in the general tenor of history, was an imitator of Voltaire ; and, although he wanted Voltaire's varied talents

Grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes
Augur, schænobates, medicus, magus: omnia novit.
Greculus esuriens in cælum, jusseris, ibit.

-Yet, in every requisite of a historian, he was greatly his superior. Seizing on the most enchanting period of English history, and writing in the careless and graceful style of a man of the world, he has produced a work which must always be read, and is calculated to have no small power over the public mind. This book is in all our libraries; is read by the young, in the course of their education ; and, though the errors of the book have been elaborately pointed out by acute reviewers, yet something, perhaps, may be said, profitable to our own country. It would be a matter of sorrow, in this late day, if one mind should be misled by sophistry so flimsy, though produced by abilities so great.

The happiest literary productions are, when a peculiar man is brought to the execution of a task peculiarly fitted to his genius. There is an affinity between some minds and some subjects; they seem to revel on them, as congenial themes ; there is an exquisite harmony between the author and his book; and we close the volume, saying, “This man was born for this purpose, and no other. The words flow as unlaboriously from his pen, as water from a fountain ; and every impression we receive, is a picture transmitted from soul to soul. Thus every reader rejoices that Milton's mind

lighted on such a theme as Paradise Lost. Cervantes tells that he held that Don Quixote was born for him, and he for Don Quixote ; and all can see, that no matter ever more completely matched the mind that produced it. As the blossoms of some plants effuse the very smell of the root, so does every page of that unrivalled production savor of the character of its author's mind. But every one sees that Pope was not at home in translating Homer—it was a forced marriage between discordant parties. Trace the whole circle of literature, and you will find, that those books which are pure honey—which touch the very centre of delight and profit in our bosoms—are formed, when some peculiar mind lights on some congenial theme. In such cases, invention riots in her task, and accomplishes her work with the least labor, and the greatest success.

The history of England, from the days of Henry VIII. down to the passing the reform bill, is very peculiar, and calls for an author of peculiar powers to represent it. It presents the grandest spectacle ever witnessed on our globe. Greater battles may have been fought; broader kingdoms may have been established, or melted into air ; more conquerors may have appeared, and rolled to richer thrones on more splendid cars; but I take it, as no tragedy is estimated by the size of the stage on which it is acted, or the splendor of the scenery, but wholly by the excellence of the dialogue, so it is the conflict of mind with mind, which gives the sublimest interests to the records of time. This is the

very character of the period to which I have alluded. I know not how better to designate it, than by using the language of Scripture in the visions of the prophet : The four winds of heaven strove on the great sea. It is a conflict of principle—it is a debate, in which the great interests of mankind are at stake. Every thing to be sure, is thrown into commotion ; the old foundations of society are torn up from their bottom, and cast about in every direction. The mind seems to wake from the slumber of ages; to catch new ideal images ; to gaze on a new sun ; to breathe a new air; and to form the bright conception of a higher and holier. state. It is true, the path to the prize lies through suffering, and every furlong of the journey is dyed with blood. It is not a measurement of corporeal strength ; it is not a conflict which may be settled by powder and ball—but the invisible nature of man steps forth on the scene, religion combines with politics, and


liberty asserts her long forgotten and disregarded claims. On the one side, there is a set of tyrants, who have established their thrones on the ignorance of mankind ; and suck their nourishment from the secondary vices which their own primary ones have helped to foster. On the other hand, there springs up a little band of Christian patriots, determined to be free. The press begins to be unshackled, the Bible is translated, and the conflict commences.

Truth blows her trumpet, and flashes her torch over the caves and palaces where the giants of superstition have long enjoyed their repose. They start; they rise; they roar; they attempt to open the bottomless pit, and fill the whole atmosphere with the locusts, and the smoke. In the language of the old Gnostics, we may say it is a conflict between light and darkness; between the demon of matter and the god of light. The heart is kept in constant agitation, by the long and doubtful struggle of the balanced powers. Now the sun of truth seems breaking from the clouds; now the darkness returns, and the storm redoubles its violence; wind meets wind; wave crosses wave; and the whole surface ferments, and foams, and heaves, with the dreadful agitation. The cause of Protestantism seems to make some incipient struggles in the days of Henry VIII. It seems to be fully established in the days of Edward VI. The blackest night of popery and persecution returns with Queen Mary. A doubtful struggle is maintained in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Then arose the puritans-noble minds—men who knew how to act and suffer, as well as to write and preach. A systematic attempt is made to oppress the liberties of the nation and the rights of conscience, under the Stuarts. Then the human mind puts on all its armor, and bursts forth in all its grandeur and importance. Never was there a greater age. The stage almost seems peopled with a different order of beings from common men. It was an age of delusion, to be sure, and of enthusiasm ; but it was an age of greatness. Even the torpid feelings of Hume, who can see martyred liberty and religion led to the stake without a tear, and speculate on their tombs—even he seems to kindle for

moment at the thrilling sight. “ Now was the time when genius and capacity, of all kinds, freed from the restraint of authority, and nourished by unbounded hopes and projects, began to exert themselves, and be distinguished by the public. Then was celebrated



the sagacity of Pym, more fitted for use than ornament; matured, not chilled, by his advanced age and long experi

Then was displayed the mighty ambition of Hampden, taught disguise, not moderation, from former constraint; supported by courage, conducted by prudence, embellished by modesty ; but whether founded in love of power, or zeal for liberty, is still, from his untimely end, lest doubtful and uncertain. Then, too, were known the dark, ardent and dangerous character of St. John; the impetuous spirit of Hollis, violent and sincere, open and entire, in his enmities and in his friendships; the enthusiastic genius of young Vane, extravagant in the ends which he pursued, sagacious and profound in the means which he employed, incited by the appearances of religion, negligent of the duties of morality."*

It is impossible to write the history of this period with fidelity, without an extensive acquaintance with the books and pamphlets of that day. In these, we trace the causes of the movements which shook the throne, and emancipated for a time the nation. It is true, there was much rubbish; much enthusiasm ; much unintelligible nonsense.

But there was also the deepest wisdom, the fruit and the evidence of the deepest feeling. I hardly ever opened an author of that period, without tracing the effect of the excitement of that day, in the amazing fertility and eloquence of the animated page. Pope, Swift, Addison, write well; but they are at their ease; their faculties are tranquillized by the repose of an elbow-chair. Not so, Milton, Harrington, Taylor, South, &c. It is doubtful whether a mariner can bring forth all his faculties, until the storm comes. So it is with respect to the dormant powers of the human mind. “Behold,” says Milton, “ this vast city ; a city of refuge; the mansion house of liberty ; encompassed and surrounded with his protection ; the shops of war hath not more anvils and hammers waking, to fashion out the plates of armed justice in defence of beleaguered truth, than there be pens and heads there, sitting by their studious lamps, musing, searching, revolving new notions and ideas, wherewith to present, as with their homage and their fealty, the approaching reformation ; others are fast reading, trying all things, apparently, to the force of reason and convincement. What can a man require more from a nation, so pliant, and so prone to seek after know

* Hist. of Great Britain, Charles I. ch. v.

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