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for, David Hume being a philosophic infidel or rationalist, and Father Newman an enthusiastic Christian ascetic and Romish priest, there are other and more common divergencies. One man will take up the period of Alfred, and, seeing the mighty seeds then sown, declare it to be the nursery of all England's greatness. To another man the reigns of Henry VIII., Mary, and Elizabeth, the period of the death-struggle between Rome and England (in England, too, which is very important), will appear the grandest, most eventful, and valuable of all. The history of England seemed, it would appear, hardly of any value to Lord Macaulay before the Revolution of the seventeenth century. William III. is his great hero. Mr. Carlyle places his central figure yet earlier in time : it is the great Protector, Oliver Cromwell. Mr. Froude goes yet farther back, to Queen Elizabeth; and, adds Froude, "the Reformation was the first outcome from centuries of folly and ferocity.” Now, the student may follow these divergencies, these branches from the high road of literature, which have been happily called the bye-paths in her domain, when he likes; but his first object should be to walk along a broad and beaten path, and to view the country in its totality.
The reader will gain, I think, the best prospect from the pages of David Hume, or, if he like it better, the “Student's Hume” (published by Mr. Murray); or, better still, let him read the original along with the latter, which latter corrects the inaccuracies of Hume, supplements his matter, and invariably gives a list of the best authorities to be consulted. Hume is a philosophic historian ; that is to be remembered. He is not a Christian, and, this being openly stated, there is nothing
more to say about it, except that he is much more fair, open, honest, and tender than many Christian historians; but that his state of mind hindered him from comprehending ascetic, spasmodic, religionist times. A monk who, to Thomas à Kempis, was bonus religiosus-a good practical Christian—was to David
— Hume a luxurious, selfish, lazy being, or a fool. There is much to be said on both sides; only, when we are bowling at truth, it is as well to know the bias of the ball. Secondly, Hume lacks sympathy and enthusiasm; and, thirdly, in his time, accuracy, by the consultation of original sources, was not so possible as it now is. Now for his virtues. He was, says a late writer, very great man; and, unfortunately, our history is not always written by very great men." His history, therefore, can only be superseded by that of a greater man. He is clear, definite, precise; he thinks out his matter, takes his side, does not confuse his reader, and always informs him. He hardly ever tires him, because his history is written in a charming style; and remember, style is of immense value in a large book. Some men, in our most expensive newspapers, write articles that confuse, not inform, and which you cannot read, although they have only eighty lines each ; but the articles or essays of others you can always read, being so clearly and simply and pleasantly written, that you may go over them again and again. Hume rarely tires you: he is not "stuffy,” nor is he a Dryasdust. He is stately and dignified, and writes like a nobleman, as he was in blood, and would have been in rank in any country but our own. He had indulged for years in long habits of reflection upon human nature : his insight is acute, polished, and profound. He is not a one-sided man : he thinks upon many things, and analyses before he judges. If he is not, like Shakespeare, a myriad-minded man, he at any rate looks on many sides. When he has made up his mind, he is a partisan, not a bigot; neither an Emersonian loose thinker, who weighs this and that and pronounces hap-hazard that “Cæsar and Pompey are very much alike, especially Cæsar.” Hume takes his side, and, while he is always very just and generous where Christianity is not concerned, he, like Lord Byron, scorns being impartial. Study him, therefore, and give him dụe honour; afterwards one may contrast his views with those of more special students.
Along with the History of England in "Knight's Pictorial England," written by Macfarlane, Craik, and others, there is bound up and interwoven a History of Scotland, and one also of Ireland. These two kingdoms now and for ever, so long as we remain a people, form part of us. As was natural, they, the smaller peoples, have been dominated by the larger; but, properly speaking, they have never been conquered, having fought with a wonderful perseverance and bravery. The Scots, indeed, were beaten and partially civilized by the Romans, and the lowland Scots are as much Anglo-Saxon as we; yet, though their language bears traces of the ascendancy of the French much more than ours does, that arises not from any subjection to Norman rule, but from their opposition to it, which led to a close alliance between Scotland and France, so that French surnames are still common in Scotland, and Scottish surnames not less so in France; an alliance of which Scott's novel of “Quentin Durward” furnishes, in the account of the Scottish Guard, an apt illustration.
Thus, when Burns writes about a “silver tassie,” he uses the old French word tasse; and such words lie thick and many in the common tongue. The Highlanders, again, were originally Irish (Scoti); and their tongue, Gaelic, has the closest affinity to the Erse. But, for years before the Union, Scotland existed as a pugnacious little kingdom, and her history, which is merely one of battles, murders, and intrigues—for the Scots always used their monarch badly—is a turbulent chronicle, deserving of study, in the pages of Sir Walter Scott, or of Patrick Fraser Tytler. Scott's “History of Scotland," published in the Edinburgh Cabinet Library, is well worth reading; and the same may be said of the “History of Ireland," by Thomas Moore, published in the same series. Let any one read those two books attentively, and he will see how immensely both Scotland and Ireland have gained by the partnership. Certainly the former has gained more than the latter, because she has been wiser and more industrious, and (strangely enough) has always loved the English kings -after 1745—while she never really cared for any
of her own. On the other side, the student of history will see how much the central kingdom has gained also by the Union ; how she is naturally strengthened in character and in many other points, and how the three different characteristics form a fair combination.
After these two books, which will require to be noted and to be mastered as to their leading features and facts, the student may take up Sir James Mackintosh's “History of England,” which is different from any others, being a philosophical history “ of the progress of a great people towards liberty during six centuries." That sentence of the introduction strikes the key-note
of Mackintosh's book. He is always looking for the progress of the people, from a Whig point of view. He has no sympathy with the hero, priest, or sage, in a “barbarous time. He looks upon the times of Chaucer (Richard II.), of the Crusades, and especially of our Danish and Saxon ancestors, as barbarous and hateful. Nothing is good which does not comprehend a Whig family and a revolution ; whereas, every day now makes us better acquainted with the courtesy, the good-nature, the honesty, politeness, civilization, the extreme bravery, soul, and religious faith of those men of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. With these provisoes, and with the unpleasant set-off of a not very charming style, and a want of enthusiasm, Mackintosh's History, which comes down to the end of the reign of Elizabeth, may be read with great advantage. It has been stated that the friends of Sir James Mackintosh, anxious to defend him from the many imputations against his History, have asserted that the work is a bookseller's concoction, and that he did not write it, although it was published under his name. In the “Life of Sir James Mackintosh," by his son (London: Moxon, 1836 : vol. ii. p. 456), it is stated, clearly and unequivocally, that his father wrote the English History, and not a word is said implying the smallest doubt of the fact. Indeed, many circumstances are told respecting the book, and the studies and efforts brought to bear upon it by the author. A far higher work, both in conception and execution, is Hallam's “Constitutional History of England, from the Accession of Henry VII. to the Death of George II.” Mr. Hallam, it will be seen, takes a small but important period of our history, but his subject-the growth and extension