Page images
PDF
EPUB

[Discovery of America.]

Next morning, being Friday the third day of August, in the year 1492, Columbus set sail, a little before sunrise, in presence of a vast crowd of spectators, who sent up their supplications to heaven for the prosperous issue of the voyage, which they wished rather than expected. Columbus steered directly for the Canary Islands, and arrived there without any occurrence that would have deserved notice on any other occasion. But in a voyage of such expectation and importance, every circumstance was the object of attention.

tion bordering on that which should be paid only to manners and customs vary continually. Some parts those who are guided by the immediate inspiration of of Luther's behaviour, which appear to us most culp heaven. It is his own conduct, not the undistinguish-able, gave no disgust to his contemporaries. It was ing censure or the exaggerated praise of his contem- even by some of those qualities, which we are now apt poraries, that ought to regulate the opinions of the to blame, that he was fitted for accomplishing the present age concerning him. Zeal for what he re- great work which he undertook. To rouse mankind, garded as truth, undaunted intrepidity to maintain when sunk in ignorance or superstition, and to enhis own system, abilities, both natural and acquired, counter the rage of bigotry armed with power, required to defend his principles, and unwearied industry in the utmost vehemence of zeal, as well as a temper propagating them, are virtues which shine so conspi- daring to excess. A gentle call would neither have cuously in every part of his behaviour, that even his reached nor have excited those to whom it was adenemies must allow him to have possessed them in an dressed. A spirit more amiable, but less vigorous eminent degree. To these may be added, with equal than Luther's, would have shrunk back from the justice, such purity and even austerity of manners as dangers which he braved and surmounted. became one who assumed the character of a reformer; such sanctity of life as suited the doctrine which he delivered; and such perfect disinterestedness as affords no slight presumption of his sincerity. Superior to all selfish considerations, a stranger to the elegancies of life, and despising its pleasures, he left the honours and emoluments of the church to his disciples, remaining satisfied himself in his original state of professor in the university, and pastor of the town of Wittemberg, with the moderate appointments annexed to these offices. His extraordinary qualities were alloyed with no inconsiderable mixture of human frailty and human passions. These, however, were of such a nature, that they cannot be imputed to malevolence or corruption of heart, but seem to have taken Upon the 1st of October they were, according to their rise from the same source with many of his vir- the admiral's reckoning, seven hundred and seventy tues. His mind, forcible and vehement in all its leagues to the west of the Canaries; but, lest his men operations, roused by great objects, or agitated by should be intimidated by the prodigious length of the violent passions, broke out, on many occasions, with navigation, he gave out that they had proceeded only an impetuosity which astonishes men of feebler spirits, five hundred and eighty-four leagues; and, fortuor such as are placed in a more tranquil situation. nately for Columbus, neither his own pilot nor those By carrying some praiseworthy dispositions to excess, of the other ships had skill sufficient to correct this he bordered sometimes on what was culpable, and was error and discover the deceit. They had now been often betrayed into actions which exposed him to cen- above three weeks at sea; they had proceeded far be sure. His confidence that his own opinions were well-yond what former navigators had attempted or deemed founded, approached to arrogance; his courage in possible; all their prognostics of discovery, drawn asserting them, to rashness; his firmness in adhering from the flight of birds and other circumstances, had to them, to obstinacy; and his zeal in confuting his proved fallacious; the appearances of land, with which adversaries, to rage and scurrility. Accustomed him- their own credulity or the artifice of their commander self to consider everything as subordinate to truth, he had from time to time flattered and amused them, expected the same deference for it from other men; had been altogether illusive, and their prospect of and without making any allowances for their timidity success seemed now to be as distant as ever. These or prejudices, he poured forth against such as disap- reflections occurred often to men who had no other pointed him, in this particular, a torrent of invective object or occupation than to reason and discourse conmingled with contempt. Regardless of any distinc-cerning the intention and circumstances of their extion of rank or character when his doctrines were pedition. They made impression at first upon the attacked, he chastised all his adversaries indiscrimi- ignorant and timid, and extending by degrees to such nately with the same rough hand; neither the royal as were better informed or more resolute, the condignity of Henry VIII., nor the eminent learning and tagion spread at length from ship to ship. From abilities of Erasmus, screened them from the same secret whispers or murmurings they proceeded to open gross abuse with which he treated Tetzel or Eccius. cabals and public complaints. They taxed their sovereign with inconsiderate credulity, in paying such regard to the vain promises and rash conjectures of an indigent foreigner, as to hazard the lives of so many of her own subjects in prosecuting a chimerical scheme. They affirmed that they had fully performed their duty by venturing so far in an unknown and hopeless course, and could incur no blame for refusing to follow any longer a desperate adventurer to certain destruction. They contended that it was necessary to think of returning to Spain while their crazy vessels were still in a condition to keep the sea, but expressed their fears that the attempt would prove vain, as the wind, which had hitherto been so favourable to their course, must render it impossible to sail in the opposite direction. All agreed that Columbus should be compelled by force to adopt a measure on which their common safety depended. Some of the more audacious proposed, as the most expeditious and certain method for getting rid at once of his remon strances, to throw him into the sea, being persuaded that, upon their return to Spain, the death of an un

But these indecencies, of which Luther was guilty, must not be imputed wholly to the violence of his temper. They ought to be charged in part on the manners of the age. Among a rude people, unacquainted with those maxims which, by putting continual restraint on the passions of individuals, have polished society and rendered it agreeable, disputes of every kind were managed with heat, and strong emotions were uttered in their natural language without reserve or delicacy. At the same time the works of learned men were all composed in Latin, and they were not only authorised, by the example of eminent writers in that language, to use their antagonists with the most illiberal scurrility; but in a dead tongue, indecencies of every kind appear less shocking than in a living language, whose idioms and phrases seem gross, because they are familiar.

In passing judgment upon the characters of men, we ought to try them by the principles and maxims of their own age, not by those of another; for although virtue and vice are at all times the same,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

successful projector would excite little concern, and be inquired into with no curiosity.

Columbus was fully sensible of his perilous situation. He had observed, with great uneasiness, the fatal operation of ignorance and of fear in producing disaffection among his crew, and saw that it was now ready to burst out into open mutiny. He retained, however, perfect presence of mind. He affected to seem ignorant of their machinations. Notwithstanding the agitation and solicitude of his own mind, he appeared with a cheerful countenance, like a man satisfied with the progress he had made, and confident of success. Sometimes he employed all the arts of insinuation to soothe his men. Sometimes he endeavoured to work upon their ambition or avarice by magnificent descriptions of the fame and wealth which they were about to acquire. On other occasions he assumed a tone of authority, and threatened them with vengeance from their sovereign if, by their dastardly behaviour, they should defeat this noble effort to promote the glory of God, and to exalt the Spanish name above that of every other nation. Even with seditious sailors, the words of a man whom they had been accustomed to reverence, were weighty and persuasive, and not only restrained them from those violent excesses which they meditated, but prevailed with them to accompany their admiral for some time longer.

As they proceeded, the indications of approaching land seemed to be more certain, and excited hope in proportion. The birds began to appear in flocks, making towards the south-west. Columbus, in imitation of the Portuguese navigators, who had been guided in several of their discoveries by the motion of birds, altered his course from due west towards that quarter whither they pointed their flight. But, after holding on for several days in this new direction without any better success than formerly, having seen no object during thirty days but the sea and the sky, the hopes of his companions subsided faster than they had risen; their fears revived with additional force; impatience, rage, and despair appeared in every countenance. All sense of subordination was lost. The officers, who had hitherto concurred with Columbus in opinion, and supported his authority, now took part with the private men; they assembled tumultuously on the deck, expostulated with their commander, mingled threats with their expostulations, and required him instantly to tack about and return to Europe. Columbus perceived that it would be of no avail to have recourse to any of his former arts, which, having been tried so often, had lost their effect; and that it was impossible to rekindle any zeal for the success of the expedition among men in whose breasts fear had extinguished every generous sentiment. He saw that it was no less vain to think of employing either gentle or severe measures to quell a mutiny so general and so violent. It was necessary, on all these accounts, to soothe passions which he could no longer command, and to give way to a torrent too impetuous to be checked. He promised solemnly to his men that he would comply with their request, provided they would accompany him and obey his command for three days longer, and if, during that time, land were not discovered, he would then abandon the enterprise, and direct his course towards Spain.

Enraged as the sailors were, and impatient to turn their faces again towards their native country, this proposition did not appear to them unreasonable; nor did Columbus hazard much in confining himself to a term so short. The presages of discovering land were now so numerous and promising that he deemed them infallible. For some days the sounding line reached the bottom, and the soil which it brought up indicated land to be at no great distance. The flocks of birds increased, and were composed not only of sea-fowl,

but of such land birds as could not be supposed to fly far from the shore. The crew of the Pinta observed a cane floating, which seemed to have been newly cut, and likewise a piece of timber artificially carved. The sailors aboard the Nigna took up the branch of a tree with red berries perfectly fresh. The clouds around the setting sun assumed a new appearance; the air was more mild and warm, and during night the wind became unequal and variable. From all these symptoms Columbus was so confident of being near land, that on the evening of the eleventh of October, after public prayers for success, he ordered the sails to be furled, and the ships to lie to, keeping strict watch lest they should be driven ashore in the night. During this interval of suspense and expectation, no man shut his eyes, all kept upon deck, gazing intently towards that quarter where they expected to discover the land, which had so long been the object of their wishes.

About two hours before midnight, Columbus, standing on the forecastle, observed a light at a distance, and privately pointed it out to Pedro Guttierez, a page of the queen's wardrobe. Guttierez perceived it, and calling to Salcedo, comptroller of the fleet, all three saw it in motion, as if it were carried from place to place. A little after midnight, the joyful sound of land! land! was heard from the Pinta, which kept always a-head of the other ships. But having been so often deceived by fallacious appearances, every man was now become slow of belief, and waited in all the anguish of uncertainty and impatience for the return of day. As soon as morning dawned, all doubts and fears were dispelled. From every ship an island was seen about two leagues to the north, whose flat and verdant fields, well stored with wood, and watered with many rivulets, presented the aspect of a delightful country. The crew of the Pinta instantly began the Te Deum, as a hymn of thanksgiving to God, and were joined by those of the other ships with tears of joy and transports of congratulation. This office of gratitude to Heaven was followed by an act of justice to their commander. They threw themselves at the feet of Columbus, with feelings of self-condemnation, mingled with reverence. They implored him to pardon their ignorance, incredulity, and insolence, which had created him so much unnecessary disquiet, and had so often obstructed the prosecution of his well-concerted plan; and passing, in the warmth of their admiration, from one extreme to another, they now pronounced the man whom they had so lately reviled and threatened, to be a person inspired by Heaven with sagacity and fortitude more than human, in order to accomplish a design so far beyond the ideas and conception of all former ages.

As soon as the sun arose, all their boats were manned and armed. They rowed towards the island with their colours displayed, with warlike music, and other martial pomp. As they approached the coast, they saw it covered with a multitude of people, whom the novelty of the spectacle had drawn together, whose attitudes and gestures expressed wonder and astonishment at the strange objects which presented themselves to their view. Columbus was the first European who set foot on the new world which he had discovered. He landed in a rich dress, and with a naked sword in his hand. His men followed, and, kneeling down, they all kissed the ground which they had so long desired to see. They next erected a crucifix, and prostrating themselves before it, returned thanks to God for conducting their voyage to such a happy issue. They then took solemn possession of the country for the crown of Castile and Leon, with all the formalities which the Portuguese were accustomed to observe in acts of this kind in their new discoveries.

The Spaniards, while thus employed, were sur

knowledge of which required a regular course of study, together with long attention to the practice of courts. Martial and illiterate nobles had neither leisure nor inclination to undertake a task so laborious, as well as so foreign from all the occupations which they deemed entertaining or suitable to their rank. They gradually relinquished their places in courts of justice, where their ignorance exposed them to contempt. They became weary of attending to the discussion of cases which grew too intricate for them to comprehend. Not only the judicial determination of points, which were the subject of controversy, but the conduct of all legal business and transactions, was committed The Europeans were hardly less amazed at the to persons trained by previous study and application scene now before them. Every herb and shrub and to the knowledge of law. An order of men, to whom tree was different from those which flourished in their fellow-citizens had daily recourse for advice, Europe. The soil seemed to be rich, but bore few and to whom they looked up for decision in their marks of cultivation. The climate, even to the most important concerns, naturally acquired consiSpaniards, felt warm, though extremely delightful. deration and influence in society. They were advanced The inhabitants appeared in the simple innocence of to honours which had been considered hitherto as the nature, entirely naked. Their black hair, long and peculiar rewards of military virtue. They were inuncurled, floated upon their shoulders, or was bound trusted with offices of the highest dignity and most in tresses on their heads. They had no beards, and extensive power. Thus, another profession than that every part of their bodies was perfectly smooth. of arms came to be introduced among the laity, and Their complexion was of a dusty copper colour, their was reputed honourable. The functions of civil life features singular rather than disagreeable, their aspect were attended to. The talents requisite for discharggentle and timid. Though not tall, they were well-ing them were cultivated. A new road was opened shaped and active. Their faces, and several parts of to wealth and eminence. The arts and virtues of their bodies, were fantastically painted with glaring peace were placed in their proper rank, and received colours. They were shy at first through fear, but soon their due recompense. became familiar with the Spaniards, and with transports of joy received from them hawk-bells, glass beads, or other baubles; in return for which they gave such provisions as they had, and some cotton yarn, the only commodity of value which they could produce. Towards evening, Columbus returned to his ship, accompanied by many of the islanders in their boats, which they called canoes, and though rudely formed out of the trunk of a single tree, they rowed them with surprising dexterity. Thus, in the first interview between the inhabitants of the old and new worlds, everything was conducted amicably and to their mutual satisfaction. The former, enlightened and ambitious, formed already vast ideas with respect to the advantages which they might derive from the regions that began to open to their view. The latter, simple and undiscerning, had no foresight of the calamities and desolation which were approaching their country!

of

rounded by many of the natives, who gazed in silent admiration upon actions which they could not comprehend, and of which they did not foresee the consequences. The dress of the Spaniards, the whiteness their skins, their beards, their arms, appeared strange and surprising. The vast machines in which they had traversed the ocean, that seemed to move upon the the waters with wings, and uttered a dreadful sound resembling thunder, accompanied with lightning and smoke, struck them with such terror that they began to respect their new guests as a superior order of beings, and concluded that they were children of the sun, who had descended to visit the earth.

[Chivalry.]

While improvements, so important with respect to the state of society and the administration of justice, gradually made progress in Europe, sentiments more liberal and generous had begun to animate the nobles. These were inspired by the spirit of chivalry, which, though considered commonly as a wild institution, the effect of caprice, and the source of extravagance, arose naturally from the state of society at that period, and had a very serious influence in refining the manners of the European nations. The feudal state was a state of almost perpetual war, rapine, and anarchy; during which the weak and unarmed were exposed to insults or injuries. The power of the sovereign was too limited to prevent these wrongs, and the administration of justice too feeble to redress them. The most effectual protection against violence and oppres sion was often found to be that which the valour and generosity of private persons afforded. The same spirit of enterprise which had prompted so many gentlemen to take arms in defence of the oppressed pilgrims in Palestine, incited others to declare themselves the patrons and avengers of injured innocence Among uncivilised nations, there is but one profes- at home. When the final reduction of the Holy Land, sion honourable that of arms. All the ingenuity and under the dominion of infidels, put an end to these vigour of the human mind are exerted in acquiring foreign expeditions, the latter was the only employmilitary skill or address. The functions of peace are ment left for the activity and courage of adventurers. few and simple, and require no particular course of To check the insolence of overgrown oppressors; to education or of study as a preparation for discharging rescue the helpless from captivity; to protect or to them. This was the state of Europe during several avenge women, orphans, and ecclesiastics, who could centuries. Every gentleman, born a soldier, scorned not bear arms in their own defence; to redress wrongs any other occupation. He was taught no science but and remove grievances; were deemed acts of the highthat of war; even his exercises and pastimes were est prowess and merit. Valour, humanity, courtesy, feats of martial prowess. Nor did the judicial cha-justice, honour, were the characteristic qualities of racter, which persons of noble birth were alone entitled chivalry. To these were added religion, which mingled to assume, demand any degree of knowledge beyond itself with every passion and institution during the that which such untutored soldiers possessed. To middle ages, and by infusing a large proportion of recollect a few traditionary customs which time had enthusiastic zeal, gave them such force as carried confirmed and rendered respectable, to mark out the them to romantic excess. Men were trained to knightlists of battle with due formality, to observe the issue hood by a long previous discipline; they were adof the combat, and to pronounce whether it had been mitted into the order by solemnities no less devout conducted according to the laws of arms, included than pompous; every person of noble birth courted every thing that a baron, who acted as a judge, found that honour; it was deemed a distinction superior to it necessary to understand. royalty; and monarchs were proud to receive it from the hands of private gentlemen.

This singular institution, in which valour, gallantry, and religion, were so strangely blended, was wonder

But when the forms of legal proceedings were fixed, when the rules of decision were committed to writing and collected into a body, law became a science, the

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

fully adapted to the taste and genius of martial neither danger nor discouragement could turn him nobles; and its effects were soon visible in their man- aside from the execution of it. The success of their ners. War was carried on with less ferocity when enterprises was suitable to the diversity of their chahumanity came to be deemed the ornament of knight-racters, and was uniformly influenced by it. Francis, hood no less than courage. More gentle and polished by his impetuous activity, often disconcerted the manners were introduced when courtesy was recom- emperor's best laid schemes; Charles, by a more calm mended as the most amiable of knightly virtues. but steady prosecution of his designs, checked the Violence and oppression decreased when it was rapidity of his rival's career, and baffled or repulsed reckoned meritorious to check and to punish them. his most vigorous efforts. The former, at the opening A scrupulous adherence to truth, with the most re- of a war or of a campaign, broke in upon the enemy ligious attention to fulfil every engagement, became with the violence of a torrent, and carried all before the distinguishing characteristic of a gentleman, be- him; the latter, waiting until he saw the force of his cause chivalry was regarded as the school of honour, rival beginning to abate, recovered in the end not only and inculcated the most delicate sensibility with all that he had lost, but made new acquisitions. Few respect to those points. The admiration of these qua- of the French monarch's attempts towards conquest, lities, together with the high distinctions and pre- whatever promising aspect they might wear at first, rogatives conferred on knighthood in every part of were conducted to a happy issue; many of the emperor's Europe, inspired persons of noble birth on some occa- enterprises, even after they appeared desperate and imsions with a species of military fanaticism, and led practicable, terminated in the most prosperous manner. them to extravagant enterprises. But they deeply imprinted on their minds the principles of generosity and honour. These were strengthened by everything that can affect the senses or touch the heart. The wild

l

The success of Hume and Robertson extended the demand for historical composition; and before ad

exploits of those romantic knights who sallied forth inverting to their great rival Gibbon, we may glance

at some of the subordinate labourers in the same

field. In the year 1758, Dr SMOLLETT published, in
four volumes quarto, his Complete History of England,
deduced from the Descent of Julius Cæsar to the Treaty
of Aix la Chapelle, 1748. In extent and complete-

quest of adventures are well known, and have been
treated with proper ridicule. The political and per-
manent effects of the spirit of chivalry have been less
observed. Perhaps the humanity which accompanies
all the operations of war, the refinements of gallantry,
and the point of honour-the three chief circum-ness
stances which distinguish modern from ancient man-
ners-may be ascribed in a great measure to this in-
stitution, which has appeared whimsical to superficial
observers, but by its effects has proved of great
benefit to mankind. The sentiments which chivalry
inspired had a wonderful influence on manners and
conduct during the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth,
and fifteenth centuries. They were so deeply rooted,
that they continued to operate after the vigour and
reputation of the institution itself began to decline.

of design, this history approaches nearest to the works of the historical masters; but its execution is unequal, and it abounds in errors and inconSmollett was too fluent and practised a writer to sistences. It was rapidly composed; and though fail in narrative (his account of the rebellion in 1745-6, and his observations on the act for the relief of debtors in 1759, are excellent specimens of his best style and his benevolence of character), he could not, without adequate study and preparation, succeed in so important an undertaking. Smollett afterwards continued his work to the year 1765. The portion from the Revolution of 1688 to the death of George II. is usually printed as a continuation to Hume.

The views which Dr Robertson had taken of the

[Characters of Francis I. and the Emperor Charles V.]

During twenty-eight years an avowed rivalship subsisted between Francis I. and the Emperor Charles V., which involved not only their own dominions, but the greatest part of Europe, in wars which were prosecuted with more violent animosity, and drawn out to a greater length, than had been known in any former period. Many circumstances contributed to this. Their animosity was founded in opposition of interest, heightened by personal emulation, and exasperated, not only by mutual injuries, but by reciprocal insults. At the same time, whatever advantage one seemed to possess towards gaining the ascendant, was wonderfully balanced by some favourable circumstance peculiar to the other.

The emperor's dominions were of greater extent; the French king's lay more compact. Francis governed his kingdom with absolute power; that of Charles was limited, but he supplied the want of authority by address. The troops of the former were more impetuous and enterprising; those of the latter better disciplined, and more patient of fatigue. The talents and abilities of the two monarchs were as different as the advantages which they possessed, and contributed no less to prolong the contest between them. Francis took his resolutions suddenly, prosecuted them at first with warmth, and pushed them into execution with a most adventurous courage; but being destitute of the perseverance necessary to surmount difficulties, he often abandoned his designs, or relaxed the vigour of pursuit from impatience, and sometimes from levity. Charles deliberated long, and determined with coolness; but having once fixed his plan, he adhered to it with inflexible obstinacy, and

reign and character of Mary Queen of Scots, were combated by WILLIAM TYTLER of Woodhouselee (1711-1792), who, in 1759, published an Inquiry, Historical and Critical, into the Evidence against Mary Queen of Scots, and an Examination of the Histories of Dr Robertson and Mr Hume with respect to that Evidence. The work of Mr Tytler is acute and learned; it procured for the author the approbation and esteem of the most eminent men of his times; but, judged by the higher standards which now exist, it must be pronounced to be partial and inconclusive. Mr Tytler published the Poetical Remains of James I., King of Scotland,' with a dissertation on the life and writings of the royal poet, honourable to his literary taste and research.

·

About the year 1760, the London booksellers completed a compilation which had, for a long period, employed several professional authors-a Universal History,' a large and valuable work, seven volumes being devoted to ancient and sixteen to modern history. The writers were ARCHIBALD BOWER (1686-1766), a native of Dundee, who was educated at the Jesuit's College of St Omer, but afterwards fled to England and embraced the Protestant faith: he was author of a History of the Popes. Dr JOHN CAMPBELL (1709-1775), a son of Campbell of Glenlyon in Perthshire, wrote the Military History of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene, Lives of the Admirals, a considerable portion of the Biographia Britannica, a History of Europe, a Political Survey of Britain, &c. Campbell was a candid and intelligent

man, acquainted with Dr Johnson and most of the
eminent men of his day. WILLIAM GUTHRIE (1708-
1770), a native of Brechin, was an indefatigable
writer, author of a History of England, a History of
Scotland, a Geographical Grammar, &c.
SALE (1680-1736) translated the Koran, and was one
GEORGE
of the founders of a society for the encouragement
of learning. GEORGE PSALMANAZAR (1679-1763),
a native of France, deceived the world for some time
by pretending to be a native of the island of For-
mosa, to support which he invented an alphabet and
grammar. He afterwards became a hack author,
was sincerely penitent, and was reverenced by John-
son for his piety. When the Universal History'
was completed, Goldsmith wrote a preface to it, for
which he received three guineas!

CYCLOPÆDIA OF

In 1763 Goldsmith published a History of England, in a Series of Letters from a Nobleman to his Son, in two small volumes. The deceptive title had the desired attraction; the letters were variously attributed to Lords Chesterfield, Orrery, and Lyttelton, and in purity and grace of style surpassed the writings of any of the reputed authors. The success of this compilation afterwards led Goldsmith to compile a more extended history of England, and abridgments of Grecian and Roman history. Even in this subordinate walk, to which nothing but necessity compelled him, Goldsmith was superior to all his contemporaries.

Lord Lyttelton afterwards came forward himself as a historian, though of but a limited period. His History of the Reign of Henry II., on which he had bestowed years of study, is a valuable repertory of facts, but a dry and uninteresting composition. Of a similar character are the Historical Memoirs and Lives (Queen Elizabeth, Raleigh, Henry Prince of Wales, &c.), written by Dr THOMAS BIRCH, one of the secretaries of the Royal Society. Birch was a diligent explorer of records and public papers: he threw light on history, but was devoid of taste and arrangement. These works drew attention to the materials that existed for a history of domestic manners, always more interesting than state diplomacy or wars, and Dr ROBERT HENRY (1718-1790) entered upon a History of Great Britain, in which particular attention was to be given to this department. For nearly thirty years Henry laboured at his work the first volume was published in 1771, and four others at intervals between that time and 1785. contemporary, Dr Gilbert Stuart, a man not devoid of talents, but rancorous and malignant in an eminent degree, attempted, by a system of ceaseless persecution, to destroy the character and reputation of Henry, but his work realised to its author the large sum of £3300, and was rewarded with a pension from the crown of £100 per annum. Henry's work does not come farther down than the reign of Henry VIII. In our own days, the plan of a history with copious information as to manners, arts, and improvements-where full prominence is given to the progress of civilisation and the domestic life of our ancestors-has been admirably realised in thePictorial History of England,' published by Mr Charles Knight. Of Dr Henry, we may add that he was a native of St Ninians, in Stirlingshire, was bred to the church, and was latterly one of the ministers of Edinburgh, where he had the honour of filling the chair as Moderator of the General Assembly. Dr GILBERT STUART (1742-1786), a native of Edinburgh (to whom we have alluded in connexion with Henry), wrote various historical works, a History of Scotland, a Dissertation on the British Constitution, a History of the Reformation, &c. His style is forid and high-sounding, not wanting in elegance, |

but disfigured by affectation, and still more by the TO 1780. violent prejudices of its vindictive and unprincipled author.

Histories of Ireland, evincing antiquarian research, and another in 1773 by Dr LELAND, the translator were published, the first in 1763-7 by Dr WARNER, of our best English version of Demosthenes. A review of Celtic and Roman antiquities was in 1771-5 presented by JOHN WHITTAKER, grafted upon his History of Manchester; and the same author afterwards wrote a violent and prejudiced Vindication of Mary Queen of Scots. The Biographical History of England by GRANGER, and ORME'S History of the British Transactions in Hindostan, which appeared at this time, are also valuable works. In 1775, tory of Great Britain, from the Restoration to the MACPHERSON, translator of Ossian, published a HisAccession of the House of Hanover, accompanied by original papers. The object of Macpherson was to support the Tory party, and to detract from the purity and patriotism of those who had planned and effected the Revolution of 1688. The secret history brought to light by his original papers (which were undoubtedly genuine) certainly disclosed a degree of selfishness and intrigue for which the public were not prepared. In this task, the historian (if Macpherson be entitled to the venerable name) had the use of Carte's collections, for which he paid £200, of his work. and he received no less than £3000 for the copyright III. to Robert I., were published in 1776 by Sir David Dalrymple, LORD HAILES. In 1779 the same The Annals of Scotland, from Malcolm author produced a continuation to the accession of the house of Stuart. These works were invaluable at the time, and have since formed an excellent quarry for the historian. Lord Hailes was born in Edinburgh in 1726, the son of Sir James Dalrymple Scottish bar, and was appointed one of the judges of of Hailes, Bart. He distinguished himself at the the Court of Session in 1766. He was the author of various legal and antiquarian treatises; of the tions from the fathers, &c.; and of an inquiry into Remains of Christian Antiquity, containing translathe secondary causes assigned by Gibbon the historian for the rapid growth of Christianity. Hailes was a man of great erudition, an able lawyer, and upright judge. He died in 1792. In 1776 Lord ROBERT WATSON, professor of rhetoric and afterwrote a History of Philip II. of Spain as a continnaAwards principal of one of the colleges of St Andrews, tion to Robertson, and left unfinished a History of Philip III., which was completed by Dr William Thomson, and published in 1783. In 1779, the two first volumes of a History of Modern Europe, by Dr WILLIAM RUSSELL (1741-1793), were published with distinguished success, and three others were added in 1784, bringing down the history to the year 1763. been made by Dr Coote and others, and it continues Continuations to this valuable compendium have kirkshire, and fought his way to learning and disto be a standard work. Russell was a native of Seltinction in the midst of considerable difficulties. The vast number of historical works published about this time shows how eagerly this noble branch of study was cultivated, both by authors and the public. No department of literary labour seems then to have been so lucrative, or so sure of leading to distinction. But our greatest name yet remains behind.

EDWARD GIBBON.

Empire was by birth, education, and manners, dis-
The historian of the Decline and Fall of the Roman
tinctively an English gentleman. He was born at
Putney, in Surrey, April 27, 1737. His father was

« PreviousContinue »