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all possible palliations for the conduct of the from their ancestors in the days of the Revolu individual delinquent, and never attempts to tion. In the same circumstances, we are pershut him out from the benefit of those natural suaded, they would have acted with the same sympathies of which the bad as well as the spirit; -nay, in consequence of the more good are occasionally the objects, from their general diffusion of education and intellifortune or situation. He has given a new gence, we believe they would have been still character, we think, to history, by this soft more zealous and more unanimous in the and condescending concern for the feelings cause of liberty. But we have of late been of individuals; and not only left a splendid exposed to the operation of various causes, record of the gentleness and affectionate sim- which have tended 10 lull our vigilance, and plicity of his own dispositions, but set an ex- relax our exertions; and which threaten, unample by which we hope that men of genius less powerfully counteracted, to bring on, may be taught hereafter to render their in- gradually, such a general indifference and structions more engaging and impressive. forgetfulness of the interests of freedom, as to Nothing, we are persuaded, can be more prepare the people for any tolerably mild gratifying to his friends, than the impression form of servitude which their future rulers of his character which this work will carry may be tempted to impose upon them. down to posterity; nor is it a matter of indif- The first, and the principal of these causes, ference to the country, that its most illustrious however paradoxical it may seem, is the acstatesman should be yet more distinguished tual excellence of our laws, and the supposed for the amiableness of his private affections. inviolability of the constitution. The second
This softness of feeling is the first remark- is, the great increase of luxury, and the treable thing in the work before us. The second mendous patronage of the government. The is perhaps of more general importance. It is, last is, the impression made and maintained that it contains the only appeal to the old by the events of the French Revolution. We principles of English constitutional freedom, shall say but a word upon each of these proand the only expression of those firm and lific themes of speculation. temperate sentiments of independence, which Because our ancestors stipulated wisely for are the peculiar produce, and natural protec- the public at the Revolution, it seemed to tion of our mixed government, which we recol. have become a common opinion, that nothing lect to have met with for very many years. was left to their posterity but to pursue their The tone of the work, in this respect, recalls private interest. The machine of Governus to feelings which seem of late to have ment was then completed and set agoingslumbered in the country which they used to and it will go on without their interference. inspire. In our indolent reliance upon the Nobody talks now of the divine right, or the imperishable virtue of our constitution, and dispensing power of kings, or ventures to proin our busy pursuit of wealth, we appeared to pose to govern without Parliaments, or to be forgetting our higher vocation of free citi- levy taxes without their authority ;-therezens; and, in our dread of revolution or foreign fore, our liberties are secure ; -and it is only invasion, to have lost sight of those intestine factious or ambitious people that affect any dangers to which our liberties are always jealousy of the executive. Things go on very more immediately exposed. The history of smoothly as they are; and it can never be the Revolution of 1688, and of the times im- the interest of any party
power, to attempt mediately preceding, was eminently calculated any thing very oppressive or injurious to the to revive those feelings, and restore those public. By such reasonings, men excuse their impressions, which so many causes had in abandonment of all concern for the commuour days conspired to obliterate; and, in the nity, and find, in the very excellence of the hands of Mr. Fox, could scarcely have failed constitution, an apology for exposing it to corto produce a very powerful effect. On this ruption. It is obvious, however, that liberty, account, it must be matter of the deepest re- like love, is as hard to keep as to win; and gret that he was not permitted to finish, or that the exertions by which it was originally indeed to do more than begin, that inspiring gained will be worse than fruitless, if they be narrative. Even in the little which he has not followed up by the assiduities by which done, however, we discover the spirit of the alone it can be preserved. Wherever there master: Even in the broken prelude which is power, we may be sure that there is, or he has here sounded, the true notes are struck will be, a disposition to increase it; and if with such force and distinctness, and are in there be not a constant spirit of jealousy and themselves so much in unison with the natu- of resistance on the part of the people, every ral chords of every British heart, that we think monarchy will gradually harden into a desno slight vibration will be excited throughout potism. It will not, indeed, wantonly provoke the country; and would willingly lend our or alarm, by seeking again to occupy those assistance to propagate it into every part of very positions from which it had once been the empire. In order to explain more fully dislodged; but it will extend itself in other the reasons for which we set so high a value quarters, and march on silently, under the upon the work before us on this particular ac- colours of a venal popularity, count, we must be allowed to enlarge a little This indolent reliance on the sufficiency of upon the evil which we think it calculated to the constitution for its own preservation, af
fords great facilities, no doubt, to those who We do not think the present generation may be tempted to project its destruction; of our countrymen substantially degenerated but the efficient means are to be found chiefly
in the prevailing manners of the people, and suffer tremendously in the period of transition. the monstrous patronage of the government. If ambition and great activity therefore be not It can admit of no doubt, we suppose, that necessary to our happiness, we shall do wisely trade, which has made us rich, has made us to occupy ourselves with the many innocent still more luxurious; and that the increased and pleasant pursuits that are allowed under necessity of expense, has in general outgone all governments; instead of spreading tumult the means of supplying it. Almost every in- and discontent, by endeavouring to realize dividual now finds it more difficult to live on some political conceit of our own imagination. a level with his equals, than he did when all Mr. Hume, we are afraid, is chiefly responsiwere poorer; almost every man, therefore, is ble for the prevalence of this Epicurean and needy; and he who is both needy and luxu- ignoble strain of sentiment in this country,rious holds his independence on a very pre- an author from whose dispositions and undercarious tenure. Government, on the other standing, a very different doctrine might have hand, has the disposal of nearly twenty mil- been anticipated.* But, under whatever aulions per annum, and the power of nominating thority it is maintained, we have no scruple to two or three hundred thousand posts or in saying, that it seems to us as obviously places of emolument;-the whole population false as it is pernicious. We need not appeal of the country amounting (1808) to less than to Turkey or to Russia to prove, that neither five millions of grown men. The consequence liberal nor even gainful pursuits can be caris, that, beyond the rank of mere labourers, ried on with advantage, where there is no there is scarcely one man out of three whó political freedom: For, even laying out of does not hold or hope for some appointment view the utter impossibility of securing the or promotion from government, and is not persons and properties of individuals in any consequently disposed to go all honest lengths other way, it is certain that the consciousness in recommending himself to its favour. This, of independence is a great enjoyment in itself, it must be admitted, is a situation which and that, without it, all the powers of the justifies some alarm for the liberties of the mind, and all the capacities of happiness, are people; and, when taken together with that gradually blunted and destroyed. It is like general indifference the public which has the privation of air and exercise, or the emasbeen already noticed, accounts sufficiently for culation of the body ;-which, though they that habit of presuming in favour of all exer- may appear at first to conduce to tranquillity tions of authority, and against all popular and indolent enjoyment, never fail to enfeeble discontent or interference, which is so re- the whole frame, and to produce a state of markably the characteristic of the present oppressive languor and debility, in comparigeneration. From this passive desertion of son with which even wounds and fatigue the people, it is but one step to abet and de- would be delicious. fend the actual oppressions of their rulers ; To counteract all these enervating and deand me., otherwise conscientious, we are pressing causes, we had, no doubt, the increasafraid, too often impose upon themselves by ing opulence of the lower and middling orders no better reasonings than the following of the people, naturally leading them to aspire “This measure, to be sure, is bad, and some- to greater independence, and improving their what tyrannical;—but men are not angels; education and general intelligence. And thus, all human government is imperfect; and, on public opinion, which is in all countries the the whole, ours is much too good to be quar- great operating check upon authority, had relled with. Besides, what good purpose become more extensive and more enlightened; could be answered by my individual opposi- and might perhaps have been found a suffition? I might ruin my own fortune, indeed, and blast the prospects of my children; but it * Few things seem more unaccountable, and in. would be too romantic to imagine, that the deed absurd, than that Hume should have taken fear of my displeasure would produce an im- part with high-church and high-monarchy men. maculate administration-so I will hold my from the Presbyterians, may perhaps have influtongue, and shift for myself as well as possi- enced his ecclesiastical partialities. But that he ble." When the majority of those who have should have sided with the Tudors and the Stuarts influence in the country reason in this manner, against the people, seems quite inconsistent with it surely cannot be unnecessary to remind us, all the great traits of his character. His unrivalled now and then, of the great things that were sagacity must have looked with contempt on the done when the people roused themselves preposterous arguments by which the jus divinum
was maintained. His natural benevolence must against their oppressors.
have suggested the cruelty of subjecting the enjoy. In aid of these actual temptations of inter- ments of thousands to the caprice of one unseeling est and indolence, come certain speculative individual; and his own practical independence in doctrines, as to the real value of liberty, and private life, might have taught him the value of the illusions by which men are carried away rided. Mr. Fox seems to have been struck with who fancy themselves acting on the principle the same surprise at this strange trait in the characof patriotism. Private happiness, it is dis- ter of our philosopher. In a letter to Mr. Laing, covered, has but little dependence on the he says, "He was an excellent man, and of great itature of the government. The oppressions powers of mind; but his partiality to kings and of monarchs and demagogues are nearly equal princes is intolerable: nay, it is, in my opinion, in degree, though a little different in form; miration which' women and children sometimes and the only thing certain is, that in flying have for kings, than the opinion right or wrong, from the one we shall fall into the other, and of a philosopher."
cient corrective of all our other corruptions, of Mr. Fox's, as likely to put an end to a had things gone on around us in their usual system of tímidity so apt to graduate into and accustomed channels. Unfortunately, servility; and to familiarize his countrymen however, the French Revolution came, to as- once more to speak and to think of Charles, tonish and appal the world; and, originating of James, and of Strafford,—and of William, with the people, not only subverted thrones and Russell
, and Sydney, -as it becomes and establishments, but made such havoc on Englishmen to speak and to think of such the lives and properties and principles of in- characters. To talk with affected tenderness dividuals, as very naturally to excite the horror of oppressors, may suit the policy of those and alarm of all whose condition was not al. who wish to bespeak the clemency of an ready intolerable. This alarm, in so far as it Imperial Conqueror; but must appear pecurelated to this country, was always excessive, liarly base and inconsistent in all who profess and in a great degree unreasonable: But it an anxiety to rouse the people to great exerwas impossible perhaps altogether to escape tions in the cause of their independence. it; and the consequences have been incalcu- The volume itself, which has given occasion lably injurious to the interests of practical to these reflections, and from which we have liberty. During the raging of that war which withheld our readers too long, consists of a Jacobinism in its most disgusting form carried preface or general introduction from the pen on against rank and royalty, it was natural for of Lord Holland; an introductory chapter, those who apprehended the possibility of a comprising a review of the leading events, similar conflict at home, to fortify those orders from the year 1640 to the death of Charles with all that reason and even prejudice could II.; two chapters of the history of the reign supply for their security, and to lay aside for of James, which include no more than seven the time those jealousies and hereditary months of the year 1685, and narrate very grudges, upon which, in better days, it was little but the unfortunate expeditions of Artheir duty to engage in contention. While a gyle and of Monmouth; and a pretty long raging fever of liberty was epidemic in the Appendix, consisting chiefly of the correneighbourhood, the ordinary diet of the people spondence between Barillon, the French con. appeared too inflammatory for their constitu- fidential minister at the court of England, and tion; and it was thought advisable to abstain his master Louis XIV. from articles, which, at all other times, were Lord Holland's part of the volume is written allowed to be necessary for their health and with great judgment, perspicuity, and provigour. Thus, a sort of tacit convention was priety; and though it contains less anecdote entered into,—to say nothing, for a while, of and minute information with regard to his the follies and vices of princes, the tyranny illustrious kinsman than every reader must of courts, or the rights of the people. The wish to possess, it not only gives a very satisRevolution of 1688, it was agreed, could not factory account of the progress of the work be mentioned with praise, without_giving to which it is prefixed, but affords us some some indirect encouragement to the Revolu- glimpses of the character and opinions of its tion of 1789; and it was thought as well to author, which are peculiarly interesting, both say nothing in favour of Hampden, or Russell, from the authenticity of the source from which or Sydney, for fear it might give spirits to they are derived, and from the unostentatious Robespierre, Danton, or Marat. To this strict simplicity with which they are communicated. regimen the greater part of the nation sub- Lord Holland has not been able to ascertain mitted of their own accord; and it was forced at what period Mr. Fox first formed the deupon the remainder by a pretty vigorous sys- sign of writing a history; but, from the year tem of proceeding. Now, we do not greatly 1797, when he ceased to give a regular attendblame either the alarm, or the precautions ance in parliament, he was almost entirely which it dictated; but we do very seriously occupied with literary schemes and avocalament, that the use of those precautions tions. The following little sketch of the temshould have degenerated into a sort of na- per and employments of him who was pitied tional habit; and should be continued and by many as a disappointed politician, is ex. approved of so very long after the danger tremely amiable; and, we are now convinced which occasioned them has ceased.
by the fragment before us, correctly true. It is now at least ten years since Jacobinism was prostrated at Paris; and it is still longer and fondness for poetry, which neither pleasure nor
" During his retirement, that love of literature, since it ceased to be regarded with any thing business had ever extinguished, revived with an but horror in this country. Yet the favourers ardour, such as few, in ihe eagerness of youth or of power would still take advantage of its in pursuit of fame or advantage, are capable of name to shield authority from question; and feeling. For some time, however, his studies were to throw obloquy on the rights and services pot directed to any particular object. Such was the of the people. The power of habit has come tions, whether supplied by conversation, desultory
happy disposition of his mind, ihat his own reflecunfortunately to their aid; and it is still un- reading, or the common occurrences of a life in the fashionable, and, we are afraid, not very country, were always sufficient to call forth the popular, to talk of the tyranny of the Stuarts, vigour and exertion of his faculties. Intercourse and the triumph of the Revolution, in the with the world had so little deadened in him the tone which was universal and established sense of the simplest enjoyments, that even in the within these last twenty years. For our parts, that keen relish of existence, which, afier the first
hours of appareni leisure and inactivity, he retainea however, we see no sort of reason for this impressions of life, is so rarely excited but by great change; and we hail, with pleasure, this work interests and strong passions. Hence it was that
in the interval between his active attendance in par. times. A conversation which passed on the sub. liament, and the undertaking of his History, heject of the literature of the age of James the Se. never felt the tedium of a vacant day. A verse in cond, proves his rigid adherence to these ideas; Cowper, which he frequently repeated,
and perhaps the substance of it may serve to illus. How various his employments whom the world
Trate and explain them. In speaking of the writers Calls idle !
of that period, he lamented that he had not devised was an accurate description of the life he was then a method of interweaving any account of them or leading; and I am persuaded, that if he had con their works, much less any criticism on their style, sulted his own gratifications only, it would have into his history, On my suggesting the example continued to be so. The circumstances which led of Hume and Voltairo, who had discussed such him once more to take an active part in public disa topics at some length, either at the end of each cussions, are foreign to the purposes of this preface. reign, or in a separate chapter, he observed, with It is sufficient to remark, that they could not be much commendation of their execution of it, that foreseen, and that his notion of engaging in some such a contrivance might be a good mode of writing literary undertaking was adopted during his retire critical essays, but that it was, in his opinion, in. ment, and with the prospect of long and uninter. compatible with the nature of his undertaking, rupted leisure before him.”—p. iü. iv.
which, if it ceased to be a narrative, ceased to be a
history."-p. xxxvi. xxxvi. He seems to have fixed finally on the history of the Revolution, about the year 1799; this is a view of the nature of history, which,
Now, we must be permitted to say, that but even after the work was begun, he not only dedicated large portions of his time to in so far as it is intelligible, appears to be the study of Greek literature, and poetry in very narrow and erroneous; and which seems, general, but meditated and announced to his like all such partial views, to have been so correspondents a great variety of publications, little adhered to by the author himself
, as upon a very wide range of subjects. Among only to exclude many excellences, without atthese were, an edition of Dryden-a Defence taining the praise even of consistency in error. of Racine and of the French Stage--an Essay The object of history, we conceive, is to give on the Beauties of Euripides-a Disquisition us a clear narrative of the transactions of past upon Hume's History—and an Essay or Dia- ages, with a view of the character and condilogue on Poetry, History, and Oratory. In tion of those who were concerned in them, 1802, the greater part of the work, as it now
and such reasonings and reflections as may stands, was finished; but the author wished be necessary to explain their connection, or to consult the papers in the Scotch College, natural on reviewing their results. That some and the Depot des Affaires etrangères at Paris, account of the authors of a literary age should and took the opportunity of the peace
have a place in such a composition, seems to
pay a visit to that capital accordingly. After his follow upon two considerations : first
, because return, he made some additions to his chap- it is unquestionably one object of history to ters; but being soon after recalled to the give us a distinct view of the state and condition duties of public life, he never afterwards of the age and people with whose affairs it is found leisure to go on with the work to which occupied; and nothing can serve so well to he had dedicated himself with so much zeal illustrate their true state and condition as a and assiduity. What he did write was finished, correct estimate and description of the great however, for the most part, with very great
authors they produced : and, secondly, becare. He wrote very slow: and was extremely
cause the fact ihat such and such authors did fastidious in the choice of his expressions"; flourish in such a period, and were ingenious holding pedantry and affectation, however, in and elegant, or rude and ignorant, are facts far greater horror than carelessness or rough which are interesting in themselves, and may ness. He commonly wrote detached sentences
be made the object of narrative just as proon slips of paper, and afterwards dictated them perly as that such and such princes or minisoff to Mrs. Fox, who copied them into the ters did flourish at the same time, and were book from which the present volume has been ambitious or slothful, tyrannical or friends to printed without the alteration of a single syl- liberty. Political events are not the only lable.
events which are recorded even in ancient The only other part of Lord Holland's state. history; and, now when it is generally adment, to which we think it necessary to call mitted, that even political events cannot be the attention of the reader, is that in which fully understood or accounted for without he thinks it necessary to explain the peculiar taking into view the preceding and concominotions which Mr. Fox entertained on the tant changes in manners, literature, comsubject of historical composition, and the very merce, &c. it cannot fail to appear surprising, rigid laws to which he had subjected himself that an author of such a compass of mind as in the execution of his important task.
belonged to Mr. Fox, should have thought of " It is therefore necessary to observe, that he had wars or factions, and held himself excluded,
confining himself to the mere chronicling of formed his plan so exclusively on the model of an. cient writers, that he not only felt some repugnance
by the laws of historical composition, from 10 the modern practice of noies, but he thought that touching upon topics so much more interest. all which an historian wished to say, should be in. ing. troduced as part of a continued narration, and never The truth is, however, that Mr. Fox has by assume the appearance of a digression, much less no means adhered to this plan of merely of a dissertation annexed to it. From the period, telling the story of the times” of which he Therefore, that he closed his Introductory Chapler, treats. On the contrary, he is more full of he defined his duty as an author, to consist in rccounting the facts as they arose; or in his simple argument, and what is properly called reflecand forcihle language, in telling the story of those I tion, than most modern historians with whom we are acquainted. His argument, to be sure, tion; and even if it were not so, the question is chiefly directed to ascertain the truth of would still be,-by what change in the disreputed facts, or the motives of ambiguous positions of the army and the nation Moak actions; and his reflections, however just and was able to make them do it. The second natural, may commonly be considered as re- event, which must always appear unaccountdundant, with a view to mere information. able upon the mere narrative of the circumOf another kind of reasoning, indeed, he is stances, is the base and abject submission of more sparing; though of a kind far more valu- the people to the avowed tyranny of the reable, and, in our apprehension, far more es- stored Charles, when he was pleased at last sential to the true perfection of history. We to give up the use of Parliaments, and to tax allude now to those general views of the and govern on his own single authority. This causes which influence the character and dis- happened when most of those must have still position of the people at large; and which, as been alive who had seen the nation rise up in they vary from age to age, bring a greater or arms against his father; and within five years a smaller part of the nation into contact with of the time when it rose up still more unaniits government, and ultimately produce the mously against his successor, and not only success or failure of every scheme of tyranny changed the succession of the crown, but very or freedom. The more this subject is medi- strictly defined and limited its prerogatives. tated, the more certain, we are persuaded, it The third, is the Revolution itself; an event will appear, that all permanent and important which was brought about by the very indioccurrences in the internal history of a coun-viduals who had submitted so quietly to the try, are the result of those changes in the domination of Charles, and who, when assemgeneral character of its population ; and that bled in the House of Commons under James kings and ministers are necessarily guided in himself, had, of their own accord, sent one of their projects by a feeling of the tendencies their members to the Tower for having obof this varying character, and fail or succeed, served, upon a harsh and tyrannical expresexactly as they had judged correctly or erro- sion of the King's, that "he hoped they were neously of its condition. To trace the causes all Englishmen, and not to be frighted with a and the modes of its variation, is therefore to few hard words.” It is not to give us the describe the true sources of events; and, history of these events, merely to set down merely to narrate the occurrences to which it the time and circumstances of the occurrence, gave rise, is to recite a history of actions with. They evidently require some explanation, in out intelligible motives, and of effects without order to be comprehended; and the narrative assignable causes. It is true, no doubt, that will be altogether unsatisfactory, as well as political events operate in their turn on that totally barren of instruction, unless it give national character by which they are previ- some account of those changes in the general ously moulded and controuled : But they are temper and opinion of the nation, by which very far, indeed, from being the chief agents such contradictory actions became possible. in its formation; and the history of those very Mr. Fox's conception of the limits of legitievents is necessarily imperfect, as well as mate history, restrained him, we are afraid, uninstructive, if the consideration of those from entering into such considerations; and other agents is omitted. They consist of they will best estimate the amount of his every thing which affects the character of error, who are most aware of the importance individuals :-manners, education, prevailing of the information of which it has deprived occupations, religion, taste,-and, above all, us. Nothing, in our apprehension, can be the distribution of wealth, and the state of beyond the province of legitimate history, prejudice and opinions.
which tends to give us clear conceptions of It is the more to be regretted, that such a the times and characters with which that hismind as Mr. Fox's should have been bound tory is conversant; nor can the story of any up from such a subject by the shackles of an time be complete or valuable, unless it look idle theory; because the period of which he before and after,—to the causes and consetreats affords the finest of all opportunities for quences of the events which it details, and prosecuting such an inquiry, and does not, in- mark out the period with which it is occupied, deed, admit of an intelligible or satisfactory as part of a greater series, as well as an object history upon any other conditions. There are of separate consideration. three great events, falling within that period, In oceeding to the consideration of Mr. of which, it appears to us, that "the story Fox's own part of this volume, it may be has not yet been intelligibly told, for want of as well to complete that general estimate of some such analysis of the national feelings. its excellence and defects which we have One is, the universal joy and sincere confi- been led incidentally to express in a good člence with which Charles II. was received degree already; We shall then be able 10 back, without one stipulation for the liberties pursue our analysis of the successive chapof the people, or one precaution against the ters with less distraction. abuses of power. This was done by the very The sentiments, we think, are almost al. people who had waged war against a more just, and candid, and manly; but the narraamiable Sovereign, and quarrelled with the tive is too minute and diffusive, and does Protector for depriving them of their freedom. not in general flow with much spirit or faIt is saying nothing, to say that Monk did this cility. Inconsiderable incidents are detailed by means of the army. It was not done at far too great length; and an extreme and either by Monk or the army, but by the na. painful anxiety is shown to ascertain the