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In the year 1794, when the French revolution threatened the destruction of the civilised world, Major Rennell, whose loyalty and attachment to the constitution were always conspicuous, published a pamphlet, entitled “War with France the only Security of Britain.” Of the spirit-stirring character of this little work, the following extract from it affords a specimen :

“In a word, my valiant countrymen, we are committed in a contest, which to give up is to turn our back on an armed foe, standing within reach of us. Recollect the bright pages of our history, which are ever those which describe the contests between this country and France. Recollect that France is separated from us by the sea, and that its inhabitants, even if they were so inclined, cannot be wafted across it in numbers sufficient to hazard our independence, whilst we have fleets, and are faithful to our. selves. Recollect also, that no country of this extent can be conquered by a single nation, if we are determined to be independent, and to risk our lives for it. Every instrument becomes a weapon in the hands of a brave man ; and every brave man becomes a combatant, when he feels his independence at stake. Decision in war is regulated by opinion ; Britons have ever thought themselves invincible ; and their active courage


perseverance have made them so. Unanimity will appal the enemy, and oppose a phalanx which nothing can break through.”

In 1798, Major Rennell assisted Mr. Park in the arrangement of his “ Travels in Africa;" and tracing the route of that gentleman through each day's journey, and comparing his observations with those of other travellers and geographers, he illustrated the work by a most accurate and able map. In the same year appeared his “ Second and Third Memoir on the Geography of Africa."

The Major's next great performance, indeed his greatest, was “ The Geographical System of Herodotus examined and explained;" a production the learning of which was equalled only by its utility. Though the merit of Herodotus has been confirmed beyond the reach of modern detraction by the concurring judgment of successive ages, he has still not wholly escaped the malignity of criticism, but has been accused of credulity and extravagant exaggeration; of knowing only the general nature of his subject, and supplying his ignorance of the particulars by conjecture and invention. Stephens was the first who undertook his defence against these imputations; but Stephens was a better commentator than either historian or geographer. He accordingly produced such a work as might have been expected from

him; a work inaccurate in its geography, and, with regard to the historical part, rendering " confusion worse confounded.”

It remained for Major Rennell to come forward and vindicate his favourite. This he fully and ably effected, with an ingenuity peculiar to himself. With equal information and industry, he showed that Herodotus was not only generally, but even in his minutest detail, strictly accurate; and that he had been thought erroneous only because he had been ill understood. Every succeeding discovery was proved by Major Rennell to confirm the ability and veracity of the father of history. “ Herodotus,” he observed, “ sometimes speaks of what he actually describes himself to have seen, and sometimes relates what he professes only to have heard. He does not undertake geometrically to define actual distances and dimensions; but his account of relative positions is important, and generally true.”

Major Rennell's work is distinguished by the two great characteristic qualities of its author elaborate accuracy and incomparable perspicuity, in respect both to explanation and to discussion. The general style is colloquial, and appears simply that of a well-informed mind disburdening itself in conversation. His enquiry into the circus of the ancient Babylon is a remarkable evidence of his powers of investigation. On that subject he corrects an error even of the learned, who had assigned to the space enclosed within the walls what he ably proves an impossible extent. In the last chapter of his work, the Major illustrates and endeavours to confirm the credit of the most ancient voyage in the world, that of Hanno. But it is impossible in a general biography to examine this elaborate performance in détail. We must content ourselves with observing, that it received the just tribute of general applause, and added to the reputation of its author not less in foreign countries than in his own. What increased the admiration which it excited, was the circumstance that Major Rennell, however learned in geography and ancient usages, was absolutely ignorant of the language of Herodotus, and, by his own avowal, was under the necessity of availing himself of Mr. Beloe's translation. Such is the effect of a natural vigour of mind, which

perseveres through every obstacle to the final attainment of its object. Subjoined is the passage in the preface to the work, in which the fact is stated.

“ It is proper that the reader should know that the author, being ignorant of the Greek language, could only obtain the knowledge of the text of Herodotus through the medium of translations. The magnitude of this defect will, perhaps, be differently estimated


by different persons. It may doubtless be said with truth, that no ordinary reader of Greek is likely to be so perfect a master of the subject of Herodotus by a perusal of the original work as by translations made by professed scholars, who have devoted a great part of their time to the study of it: although it must at the same time be allowed that such scholars, if also skilled in the science of geography, would be by far the fittest persons to undertake a task of this kind. Such a one, however, has not yet undertaken it : and therefore the author flatters himself that in the existing state of things his work may be allowed to pass, until the desired coincidence may take place. On this occasion the author has followed, almost universally, the English translation by Mr. Beloe."

During the intervals of leisure occasionally afforded by this great work, Major Rennell assisted Dr. Vincent in his elaborate and celebrated “ Commentary on Arrian's Voyage of Nearchus.” The object of the learned authors was to illustrate that monument of ancient navigation. The voyagé was made in the year before Christ 326, commencing from Nicea; and, in an explanatory Memoir by Major Rennell, is said to consist of three parts: from Nicea to the mouth of the Indus; from the mouth of the Indus to Cape Jask, upon the maritime confines of Persia ; and the

passage up the Persian Gulf. It is evident that a commentary upon a voyage of such an extent must comprehend the whole system of ancient geography. The learned illustrators well performed their task. From the eastern branch of the Indus to the western mouth of the Tigris, every thing was elucidated with equal industry and success.

Subsequently to the appearance of his Herodotus, Major Rennell produced “ A corrected Sheet Map of the Peninsula of India, of the Mysore Country, and the Cessions of 1798, 1799, and 1800; as also, “ A fourth Memoir on African Geography, and a Map of Mr. Horneman's Travels, for the African Association.”

During the short peace of Amiens, Major Rennell received an invitation from the National Institute of France to become one of its members ; but which honour he was induced by his political principles to decline. At a later period of his life he was elected a member of the Royal Institute, as well as of the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg.

In the year 1814 appeared Major Rennell's “ Observations on the Topography of the Plain of Troy,” a work of extraordinary research, curiosity, and interest; and in 1816, his “ Illustrations (chiefly geographical) of the History of the Expedition of Cyrus


from Sardis to Babylonia, and the Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks," &c.

Major Rennell was tall and well made, with a countenance no less expressive of dignity and sentiment than of benevolence. His conversation was full of vivacity and spirit; and he never appeared more in his element than in his moments of social inter' course. Universally respected and beloved, he, on the 20th of March, 1830, terminated a long and useful life ; after many weeks of severe suffering, occasioned by the accidental fracture of his thigh. His remains were deposited in Westminster Abbey. The unostentatious tone of the funeral was well suited to the unassuming disposition of this celebrated man ; yet it may be safely said, that, rich as that venerable cemetery is in heroes and philosophers, there are few of them on whom that honour has been more justly conferred. Fortunate were the circumstances which induced Major Rennell to relinquish his original profession (in which, however, as we have already stated, he was highly distinguished), and to devote the whole energy of his mind to literary pursuits. Germany could boast of Cluverius and Cellarius, and France of her D’Anville, but no eminent geographer had yet adorned this country. Rennell amply redeemed us from that reproach. To the industry of the former, and to the acuteness of the latter, he added a sagacity which reconciled the most discordant passages of history; a perseverance which ransacked every source of information ; and a professional tact, which, in analysing the military movements of the ancients, not only facilitated his researches, but stamped his decisions with general conviction of their accuracy.

But there was still another quality which more peculiarly marked his writings, and which cannot be too much held up for imitation, -- the ingenuous candour with which he states the difficulties he could not vanquish, or acknowledges the happy conjectures of others. Those who have studied his Geography of Herodotus, and followed under his guidance the retreat of the Ten Thousand, will have felt how much this quality augments the value of his reasonings; and they will confess that, in exciting them to use their own judgment, he doubly contri. butes to their information. In all his discussions his sole object was the establishment of truth, and not the triumph of victory. Another characteristic of this amiable philosopher was the generous facility with which he imparted his stores of learning in conversation. A memory remarkably tenacious, and so well arranged, as to be equally ready for the reception or for the distribution of knowledge, made him a depository of facts to

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which few ever applied in vain : adapting himself to the level of all who consulted him, he had the happy art of correcting their errors without hurting their feelings, and of leading them to truth without convicting them of ignorance. “My dear Sir," he would

· sometimes say, “ you have consulted an imperfect map. I wish to heaven there were a public licenser for maps and charts. You have been deceived like myself, in believing that no one would undertake a task, of the very elements of which he was ignorant : yet such are the greater part of map-makers.”

Major Rennell had several children by his lady. His estate has been administered to by his daughter, Mrs. Tremayne Rodd, and his property sworn under £70,000.


The “ Public Characters," and the “ Monthly” and “Gentle. man's Magazines," have contributed to the composition of this little Memoir.

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