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on the hearsay evidence of a young traveller. On reading further, he may accuse the author of inaccuracy and credulity: complain that many of his stories are mere gossip: some old and now ascertained to be contrary to fact; many so marvellous as to be utterly unworthy of credit; and some carrying with them their own contradiction. Or perhaps observing that Portugal or Naples are the only countries our author has visited without publishing an account of his tour, he may even be led to conclude that Sir N. Wraxall has here foisted in his journal: either because too short to form a separate publication by itself, or in order to eke out his second volume of " Memoirs" to a statutable size. And thus may a Baronet of the United Kingdom stand charged with the scurvy offences of book-making, or publishing under false pretences.
We, however, are inclined to be more charitable; and, instead of heaping all these heavy accusations on the head of an unfortunate author, are willing to think that he has only committed one mistake, from which all the others flow. And that is in terming it “ Historical Memoirs," an unlucky title, as it involuntarily brings Sir N. into comparison with the names of Sully, Burnet and Clarendon: and leads the reader to expect for that accuracy and research, dignity and decency, to which our author cannot, and evidently does not, intend to lay claim. We would rather have recommended to him the discretion of an ancient writer, one Palæphatus, who in narrating the current stories of his day, for which he knew of no authority but common report, sagaciously entitled it περί των απίςων ισοριών, « Matters of Doubtful History." Or on second thoughts as doubtful history might sound in the present day a solecism, we would have suggested to Sir Nathaniel as a taking title, “ Anecdotes of celebrated Persons, scandalous and entertaining, or a Sequel to the new: Atalantis, which would have suited the morals as well as the matter of his book. He might then, without fear of derogating from the dig. nity of an historian, have told the listening world as how Joseph, King of Portugal, had a geographical phiz which would tell
you the distance between Lisbon and Algiers: how his wife rode astride like a man, and went a hunting in a cocked hat, black lea.
ther breeches, and a red petticoat: how the same lady was an excellent shot flying: and how by the same token she was near lodging a bullet in the cranium of her husband. How Cardinal Fleury, at eighty years of age, made naughty proposals to the young, Queen of France; and how one Roberts stood at the door of the House of Commons, and bribed a whole British Parliament. Nor do we thing that our Baronet would have Jost credit by 'thus lowering his pretensions. Readers, like Sterne's travelers, may be classed under the simple, the sentimenC 2
tal, and the inquisitive. The simple reader is always content with what is put before üim, provided he be saved the trouble of thinking; and is much given to believe what he reads, “because it is in a book.” The sentimental reader is alike averse from the labour of investigation, but loves a little sprinkling of the marvellous aud terrible; while the inquisitive reader, an animal of more sagacious nostril, is a dear searcher into truth and evidence. Now by our proposed change of title page, Sir W. would have carried with bin ile two foriner classes who form the great body of readers, and got rid of the curious and troublesome scrutiny with which the inquisitive reader put to the torture every work that bears the name of history.--Such stories as the following would then have passed current and undisputed to the great wonder of the siniple and edificatiou of the sentimental reader:
- The meetings of the conspirators (against the life of Joseph King of Portugal) were frequently held in a susimer-house, situa in the garden of the Marquis of Tavora's palace, at Lisbon, with which it was connected by a long wooden gallery. It happened that a young Portogueze lady of noble extraction, but of reduced circumstances, who lived in the Marchioness's family as her companion: surprized at observing lights one evening in the summerhouse, and altogether without suspicion of the cause was attracted by curiosity to approach the place. As she advanced along the gallery that led to it, she heard voices in earnest conversation ; and on coming nearer, soon discovered that of the Marchioness raised to a pitcli of uncommon violence. She listened for a' few seconds: and then apprehensive of being discovered in such a situation, she was about to return from whence she came, when the door suddenly opening, the Marchioness herself appeared. Their surprize was mutual; and when the latter demanded, witli much agitation, what £ause had brought her to that place ? she answered, that her astonishment at observing lights in the summer-house had led her to as'certain the reason. • You have then no doubt,' said the Marchioness, overheard our conversation; the young lady protested that she was perfectly ignorant of any part of it; and that as soon as she distinguished the Marchioness's voice, her respect led her to return -to the palace, which she was about to do when the door opened. But the Marchioness, who had too much at stake to be so 'easily satisfied or deceived, assuming a tranquil air, and affecting to repose confulence in her:'- . The Marquess and I,' rejoined she, have had a serious and violent quarrel, during the course of which he had the audacity to give me the lie. I bursë out of the room unable to restrain my indignation, and no longer mistress of my emotions. Did not you hear him give me the lie at the time I opened the door?- I did, madam, imprudently replied the unfortunate lady. Aware from that instant that the nature of their meeting was discoYered, she instantly deterniined to prevent the possibility of its being further divulged. Next morning the body of the unhappy
listener was found in one of the streets of Lisbon, wrapt in a sheet, scarcely cold, and the blood still oozing 'from various wounds-inficted on her with a dagger. - It was not doubted (i.e. it was guessed) that she had been put to death by sècret instructions is. fued from the Palace of Tavora; but the power of that great fa. mily, and the frequency of similar spectacles in the Portugueze capital, silenced all judicial enquiry into the causes of ker tragical end." Vol. I. P. 29.
Unfortunately for the story, coming under the style and title of an historical memoir, it attracts the notice of the inquisitive reader: who enquires how, as this matter never underwent a judicial enquiry, did these particulars come to light. Were they communicated by the murderess or the murdered ?--Such questions however never appear to have disturbed the credulous ac. quiescence of Sir Nathaniel's mind: we kinted at the following
“ If Richelieu, as we are assured from contemporary authority, wentured to raise his eyes to Anne, of Austria, and to make her proposals of a libertine nature, it is equally a fact, however incredia. ble it may appear, that Fleury, then above seventy years of age, carried his presumption still further with respect to Maria Luizinska. (Queen of Louis the 15th.) I shall not relate the particulars. That princess, conscious nevertheless of the ascendant which the Cardinal had obtained over her husband, possessed too much prúdence to communicate to him, in the first instance, the subject of her complaint. She wisely preferred making a confident of her fa. ther. To Stanilaus she revealed the temerity of the aged minister, and besought him at the same time to give her his advice for her conduct, particularly on the point of her acquainting. Louis with thie circumstance. Stanilaus exhorted her, in reply, to bury the secret for ever in her own bosom: observing at the same time that sovereign princesses are placed on such an eminence as almost to render it impossible for any disrespectful propositions to be made them, unless they encourage, to a certain degree, such advances. The Queen was discreet enough to adopt this judicious and paternal council. If I had not received this anecdote here related, from a person whose intimacy with the individuals composing the court of France at that time, joined to his rank and high character, left no doubt of its aŭthenticity, I should not venture to record the fact." Vol. I. P. 83.
Now here was a secret deposited with three persons : one of whom was advised to bury it for erer in her own buson, und adopted the advice : the other was the prudeut father, who gave that judicious council: and the third, the aged and disappointed lover. Which then of the three divulged it? And again, of whom is the story told? Of Maria Luzinska on the one part, a Prudent, virtuous and not handsome woman ; who was most un
likely to have given thatencouragement to a suitor, which, as Sta. nilaus justly observed, must have been preparatory to any improper overtures: and on the other part of Cardinal Fleury, a man then nearly eighty years of age; who had first distinguished himself by his zealous discharge of his duties as Bishop of Frejus : and who afterwards, in spite of early prejudices entertained against him as a licentious character by Louis the XIVth. had raised himself by the cautious decorum of his conduct to the situation of tutor to Louis XV. and Prime Minister of France : in a word of a man, whose prudence was his fortune. But then Sir Nathaniel had the story from a person of high rank and character! and thus it is that such idle gossip obtains currency. The world never stops to examine the probability of even possibility of the facts asserted, or how far they are consistent with the characters involved; but is contented to take them for granted, because 56 communicated by a person of undoubted veracity, but whose name they are not at liberty to mention.” We do conceive that the propagators of such idle stories are not a whit less contemptible than the antiquated spinster of the country town, who travels her morning ronnds to propagate her hearsay conjectures, mistakes or misinterpretations. The only difference is, that one takes scandal of the squire and apothecary's wife, and the other of queens and priine ministers.
But it is not fair on this score to bear too hard on our worthy Baronet. Credulity is at worst a good-natured, confiding, unsuspicious quality. And the blame should fall upon those that impose upon this easiness of nature, rather than upou its amiable possessor. In this particular no one has been more guilty thaii the first Lady Hamilton. She seems to have taken a wicked delight in palming upon Sir Nathaniel, while at Naples, every wonderful tale she could recollect or invent; and he has retailed them again to the public with all the becoming gravity of implicit belief. There is one of a surgeon at Rome, who, having been surprised and blindfolded by two masks, and conveyed through divers streets and flights of winding stairs, was forced at the point of the sword to bleed an unfortunate lady to death ; with a true and authentic account of, how the said murder was discovered by the marks of his bloody fingers on the walls; and how the two masks did penance for the same. Another of a Strasbourgh executioner, who was so skilful an operator in his way, that no criminal that could afford afford to pay bis fee would employ any other practitioner; and how he 'likewise travelled blindfolded many hundred miles, nobody knoớs where to behead another unfortunate lady, nobody knows whom. Ans other of a Heydue, who, to save his master, gave his horse and then himself as a meal for a drove of hungry wolves ; with many
other stories of like kind, to be equalled only by the horrors and mysteries of the Castle of Udolplo; and which we would have transcribed for the amusement of our sentimental readers, were not the Baronet too prolix in his mode of narration to suit the narrow limits of our review.
But whatever allowances may be made for the credulous reception of absurdity, when it is decorated with the charms of novelty, we must at least expect that this author of Historical Memoirs be acquainted with matters of known and acknowledged history. And here Sir Nathanel rather too frequently tips. For instance, he represents John Vth of Portugal, as
a man of very moderate endowments ; fond of show, but destitute of taste; of a narrow mind and enslaved bigotry." Vol. 1.
Now Sir Nathaniel should have known, that John the Vth suffered from an apoplectic stroke, which weakened his abilities, and totally altered the true tone of his mind. He was originally a man of excellent understanding, of a violent and haughty disposition indeed; but possessed of more talents than any of his predecessors of the house of Braganza. And if he was latterly of a bigotted turn, it was not till after the encroachments of disease, when, through mere imbecility, he fell into the hands of his priests.
Speaking of the rise of the celebrated Sebastian Joseph Carvalho, Condé de Ocyras, afterwards known better by the name of the Marquess de Pombal, he says,
6 That his birth, noble but not illustrious, would never have opened him a way to power, if he had not been aided by extraor-, dinary talents. Maria Anna of Austria, daughter of the Emperor Leopold the First, and the Queen to John the Vth, recommended him to her son Joseph, who, on his accession to the throne in, 1750, named Carvalho Secretary for Foreign Affairs." Vol. i.,
It was not his extraordinary talents that first raised Carvalho to eminence. He married a relation of Marshal Daun, by whose interest he was recommended to Anna Maria. The meagre way indeed, in which Sir N. has alluded to the important and curious transaction of Carvalho's celebrated ministry, only leads us to lament how much we want a history of Portugal. Materials for such a work were begun to be collected by a gentleman of high literary reputation, who would have done ample justice to the undertaking. But he has since directed his attention to Matters of perhaps still higher interest to us as Englishmen. Our author asserts (p. 66, vol. i.) that Malgrida, the famous