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some other things proper to be thought of, besides the vindication of Racine's poetical merits, and the chastisement of Dryden and others who had not done theor justice. Notwithstanding, if all duties and services of stronger claim could have been first discharged, it would have been very gratifying to have received from him that projected treatise on Poetry, History, and Oratory, on the subject of which Lord Holland speaks in these terins.
• About the same time he talked of writing, either in the form of a de dication or dialogue, a treatise on the three arts of Poetry, History, and Oratory; which to my surprise he classed in the order I have related. The plan of such a work seemed, in a great measure, to be digested in his head, and from the sketch he drew of his design to me, it would, if comple. ted, have been an invaluable monument of the great originality of thought, and singular philosophical acuteness, with which he was accustomed to treat of such subjects in his most careless conversations.' Preface, p. 10.
Many persons will be surprised to be informed that Mr. Fox was slow in composition; and this inconvenience was increased, by his extreme solicitude to keep his page clear of
any trace of his trade, as he should seem to have regarded it, of public speaking. From this solicitude he refused admittance, by Lord Holland's account, to many expressions and sentiments whichi in a speech would have been eloquent. This will be deemed an unfortunate and injurious fastidiousness in our great orator; for the consequence is, that we by no means find in the writing the whole mental power we know there was in the man. There is a certain bareness, and almost coldness, of style, from which a reader, not otherwise acquainted with the force of his talents, would never learu the irresistible power of his eloquence : in passing along the pages of the work before us, we earnestly, and too often vainly long, for some of those mighty emanations of sentiment which used to set us on fire in hearing him. It were strange indeed, if he considered these living fires as something of too professional ant vulgar a kind, to be allowed to impart their animation to history. It were strange if history, because its subjects are ebiefly dead men, should be required to preserve a kind of analogy with their ske. letons, and be cold, and dry, and still, like them. It is certainly the office of bistory to shew us 'a valley of dry bones ;' but it interests us most by the energy which transforms the whole scene into life.
Many pages of Lord Holland's preface are occupied with a very curious account of the fate of King James's manoscripts, deposited in the Scotch College at Paris. Mr. Fox's inquiries ully ascer tained that they were destroyed during the late revolution. The period of our history, selected by Mr.Fox, was evidently adapted for what was of course his purpose, to illustrate the nature and basis, and the whole progresșof the attainment, of that political freedom which this country since the Revolution of 1688 has enjove, notwithstanding many just causes of com. plaint, in a higher degree than perhaps any other nation of avcient or modern times, The events of that period were of a kind which, contemplated merely as a dramatic scene, containing a certain portion of incident, show, and action, (the only view, unfortunately, in which most of us regárd history) had in former years rather a strong effect on the inagination, eren when we did not take the trouble to think deeply of the political tendency and result. But in this respect the case will be found to be now greatly changed. What has taken place. in our own times, has thrown all the transactions of several centuries past, considered as matter of magnificent exhibition, quite into the shade. It is but very occasionally that the mind catches a momentary sight of the transactions of the times of the Charles's, James, and William, through some opening in the stupendous train of revolutions, wars, abdications, dethroncments, conquests, and changing constitutions, which has been moving, and is still rapidly moving, before our eyes. Who will think of going back to irace the adventares of one or two monarchs-errant of former times, when there are whole parties of them up and down Europe, with a sufficient probability of additions to the number? Who will go almost two centuries back to survey a nation risen in arms against a tyranit, though totally ignorant of the true principles of liberty, when they can see such a phænomenon, just springing up in the neighbourhood a few weeks since? The contests of parties in those times, the questions of prerogative, the loyalty or faction leaders, the devising of plans of government, the ravage of armies, the progtess of a commander into a despotic monarch, the subsidence of national enthusiasm into the apathy of slaves, are apt to affect us as an old and dull story, at a time when no one eares to buy a map of Europe, or count its kingdoms, or go over the list of its monarchs, or read one page about the nature of its constitutions of government, or ask one sentence about the rival parties in its states, from knowing that a few months may put all such information out of date. On such accounts, as well as from the present indisposition to any study of politics as a science, we have little expöctácion that the interesting production before us will do more than merely gratify the literary curiosity excited by the name of the great author. The noble spirit of liberty which pervades every part of it, will be Hatly offensive to many of his countrymen and will appear to others as only a kind of high-spirited and patriotic romance, proving that the sanguine temperament of the orator of the
people wonderfully retained his juvenility of opinion in his more advanced age, in spite of the years and the events that have made them wiser..
So much of the volume as Mr. Fox wrote, consists of three chapters, of which the first is called Introductory, and contains a brief retrospect of the reign of Charles II, and some of the circumstances of what was named the Commonwealth. The two latter go over about seven months of the reign of James II, and form the commencement of the intended history, which, if the author had lived and enjoyed leisure, would probably have been brought down to a period lower than the Revolution ; it does not appear that his thoughts had decidedly fixed on any precise point of time as the limit.
It was not to be expected that any singular novelty either of fact or doctrine should be brought out, in the review of a period so often subject to research and controversial discus. sion'; but we feel, as we did expect to feel, that we go over the ground with a better light than we have done before, There is a simplicity in the opening out of the involved crowd of characters and affairs, which brings both the individual objects, and their relations to one another, more palpably into our sight. We feel how delightful it is to go through an important and confused scene in the company of such an illuminating mind, and how easily we could surrender ourselves to an almost implicit reliance on its judgement. Connected with this extremely discriminative analysis, and distinct statement of facts, the reader will find every where a more unaffected unlaboured independence of opinion, than in perhaps any other of our historians ; the author seems to judge freely, as by a kind of inherent necessity; and he condemns, (for indeed this is the duty of his office in almost every page) with an entire indifference to those circumstances to which even historians are often obsequious. He passes sentence on 10bles and kings with as little fear, and at the same time in as calm- a tone, as the court that summoved, immediately after their death, the monarchs of Egypt. With respect to this caininess, it gives a dignified air to history; yet 'we will acknowledge that in several instances, in this work, after the indictment and proof of enormous wickedness, we have wished the sentence pronounced with somewhat more emphasis. The mildness of the man, occasionally, a little qualifies in expression the energy of justice; but it only qualifies, it does not pervert it; he most impartially condemns, where he, ought, and we have only wished, in a few cases, a severer acerbity of language. The criminal charges however are made with a fullness and aggravation, which might sometimes perhaps be deemed to excuse the historiani from formally pronouncing
any judgement, as no expression could be found by which the character of the criminal could be more blasted, than it is already by the statement of the crimes,
If the work had been carried through the whole of the selected period, it would have been an admirable contrast and amidote to the parallel part of Hume's history, in point of honesty of representation. Our author justly accuses Hume of a constant partiality to the cause of the tyrants, in his statements and reasonings, and of a base disingenousness in his observations on the conduct of Charles II, respecting the death of Algernon Sidney ; he canvicts bim of a direct and shameful fabrication of a parliamentary debate in 1685, which debate did not take place, nor any thing like it; and he ascribes to him an almost puerile respect for kings, as such. After all this, we own it requires our whole stock of patience, to read those extremely respectful and flattering expressions which he seeks every occasion, and once or twice goes much out of his way, to bestow, on this historiali ; expressions which are applied not only to his talents, to which they would be always due, but to his character, to which these articles of accusation, exhibited by his admirer, may prove what sort of moral principles are fairly attributable. The passage relating to the condemnation of Sidney, is a good specimen of our author's decided manner of expressing his opinion, and also of his strange prejudice in favoựr of Hume's moral qualities.
• The proceedings in Sidney's case were still more detestable. The production of papers, containing speculative opinions upon government and liberty, written long before, and perhaps never even intended to be published, together with the use made of those papers, in considering them as the second witness to the overt act, exhibited such a compound of wickedness and nonsense as is hardly to be paralleled in the history of juridical tyranny. But the validity of pretences was little attended to, at that time, in the case of a person whom the court had devoted to destruction; and upon evidence such as has been stated, was this great and excellent man condemned to die. Pardon was not to be expected. Mr. Hume says,
that such an interference on the part of the king, though it might have been an act of heroic generosity, could not be regarded as an indispensable duty. He might have said, with more propriety, that it was idle to expect that the government, after incurring so much guilt to obtain the sentence, should, by remitting it, relinquish the object, just when it was within its grasp.
The same historian considers the jury highly blameable, and so do I; but what was the guilt, in comparison, of the court who tried, and of the government who prosecuted, in this infamous cause ? yet the jury being the only party that can with any colour be stated as acting independently of the government, is the only one mentioned by him as blameable. The prosecutor is wholly omitted in his censure, and so is the court ; this last, not from any tenderness for the judge, (who to do this author justice, is no favourite with bim,) but lest the odious connection between that branch of the judicature and the government should strike the reader too forcibly; for
Jefferies in this instance ought to be regarded as the mere tool and instrument, (a fit one, no doubt,) of the prince who had appointed him for the purpose of this and similar services. Lastly, the king is gravely introduced on the question of pardon, as if he had had no prior concern in the cause, and were now to decide upon the propriety of extending mercy to a criminal condemned by a court of judicature ; nor are we once reminded what that judicature was, by whom appointed, by whom influenced, by whom called upon, to receive that detestable evidence, the very recollection of which, at. this distance of time, fires every honest lieart with indignation. As well might we palliate the murders of Tiberius, who seldom put to death his victims without a previous decree of his senate. The moral of all this seems to be, that whenever a prince can, bị intimidation, corruption, ille. gal evidence, or other such means, obtain a verdict against a subject whom he dislikes, he may cause him to be executed without any breach of indispensable duty; nay, that it is an act of heroic generosity if he spares him. I never reflect on Mr. Hume's statement of this matter but with the deepest regret. Widely as I differ from him upon many other occasions, this appears to me to be the most reprehensible passage of his whole work. A spirit of adulation towards deceased princes, though in a good measure free, from the imputation of interested meanness, which is justly attached to flattery when applied to living monarchs; yet, as it is less intelligible, with respect to its motives, than the other, so is it in its consequences, still more pernicious to the general interests of mankind. Fear of censure from contemporaries will seldom have much effect upon men in situations of un. limited authority: they will too often flatter themselves that the same power which enables them to commit the harm, will secure them from reproach. The dread of posthumous infamy therefore being the only restraint, their consciences excepted, upon the passions of such persons, it is lamertable that this last defence, (feeble enough at best,) should be in any degree impaired ; and impaired it must be, if not totally destroyed, when tyrants can hope to find in a man like Hume, no less eminent for the integrity and benevolence of his heart, than for the depth and soundness of his understand.. ing, an apologist for even their foulest murders.' (pp. 47–50.)
Was it ever understood, till now, that a man eminent at once for the depth and soundness of his understanding, and the integrity and benevolence of his heart, can be an apologist (the full evidence of the nature of the facts being before himy) for tbe foulest murders of a tyrant! Would not that integrity and benevolence of heart have been high in favour' at the court of such a tyrant, which should have put in exercise so strong an understanding, to preserve bis majesty in a state of entire selfcomplacency while perpetrating the murder of one of the noblest of his subjects and of mankind? As to posthumous infamy, and the retribution to be inflicted by history, we wonder whether such a thing ever once occurred to the thoughts of a tyrant, who, in pursuing to death a man of such heroic yirtue as to have offended or alarmed bin, could spurn every human sympathy, defy the indignation of all good men, and find a tribe of courtiers, comprising nobles, prelates,