Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

of contradiction in the British Critic, so prevalent throughout their two first essays against the Historical Review, throws them directly within the observation of a great man, who also had to combat a class of general deniers of palpable verities–Nec tam pertinaces fore arbitror ut clarissimum solem sanis atque patentibus oculis videre se negent. LACTANT.

The author is charged (p. 476) with having passed over sixteen reigns, viz. from Richard I. to Henry VII. Allowing the charge to be either true or important, it clears him at least of even an attempt to falsify any historical fact during those reigns. He is gratified, however, in the British Critic's bringing before the public the transaction of the imposture of Simnel: for admitting that adherence to the claims of the House of York was no act of rebellion, the attachment of the Irish to the supposed earl of War. wick is an illustrious instance (amongst many) of the grateful af. fection of that nation to their benefactors, and of their distinguished loyalty to their lawful sovereign; for presuming that impostor to be the earl of Warwick, they considered him to be the true Plantagenet.

So gross are the deviations of those bilious critics from the knowledge of the scholar, the fairness of the gentleman, and the candour of the reviewer, that, after having illustrated an instance of each, the author will dismiss them from his thoughts for ever; unless some future well-founded or temperate critique should suggest the inaccuracy or falsehood of some historical fact, which he will then correct, and publicly recognize his obligation to the suggester of the mis-statement: for truth, from whatever hand it comes, shall continue to be, as it has hitherto been, the sole object of his attainment.

The British Critic (p. 481) betrays the slender store of legal and constitutional knowledge, with which he so confidently arro.

Mr. Hume took back his manuscript, and complied with the prudential sug: gestions of his bookseller, observing, with philosophic pleasantry, that 500% was a valuable consideration for settling differences between two old friends about two w-s that had been dead nearly two hundred years. The abilities of Mr. Hume as a writer are allowed by all : his religious doctrines have but few professed supporters ; and his historical veracity will certainly be questioned by those who credit this anecdote, which can be still verified by many living acquaintance of the late Mr. A. Millar. But ex ore tuo, te judico. Mr. Hume has himself confessed, that no man has yet arisen, who has been enabled to pay an entire regard to truth, and has dared to expose her without covering or disguise to tbe eyes of the prejudiced public. (Hist. of Eng.) With how much more dignity spoke an honest Englishman, ere modern philosophy, deistical scepti. cism, or political refinement had disguised the British character: Dura est enim conditio bistoriographorum : quia si vera dicant, homines provocant : si false scripturis commendant, Dominus qui veridicos ab adulatoribus sequestrat, non ac. ceptat. MA Par. 774. For hard is the lot of the historian ! if he speak truth, he offends man: if by his writings he countenance falsehood, the Lord, who segregates truth-tellers from Aatterers, will not receive him.

gates the function of librorum censor. In his pruriency for invective he charges the author with not having read, or not understanding the statute against marrying with the Irish. In turgid hebetude, these time-serving commentators upon the statutes confine the prohibition to intermarriages between the king's subjects and Irish rebels, unless they became denizens : ignorant that deni. zation is the cure of alienage, not of high treason. But what will the rural curate, who reluctantly pays for the impartial elucubrations of the British Critic as the sine quâ non of his promotion, what will his rector, what his ordinary, what will any man, who has hitherto given them credit for the knowledge of the scholar, or even for common honesty, say, when he is apprized, that the 56th

page of the Historical Review, which has drawn forth their Pharisaical rant, contains the solemn opinion, agreeing with the author's (and with every lawyer's) interpretation of that statute, so recently given as on the 10th of February 1800, by the late earl of Clare, undoubtedly the most able, and by his creatures and fol. lowers cried up as the purest supporter of the Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. “ 'The early policy of the English govern.

ment certainly was to discourage all connexion of the colony “ with the native (mark, he says not rehel) Irish: it seems diffi“ cult, however, to reconcile it to any principle of sound policy: it

was a declaration of perpetual war against not only the native “ Irish, but against every person of English blood, who had set“ tled beyond the limits of the Pale, or from motives of personal “ interest or convenience had formed connexions with the natives “ (this was no act of treason), and adopted their laws or customs; “ and it had the full effect, which might have been expected: it u drew closer the confederacy it was meant to dissolve, and im“ plicated the colony of the Pale in ceaseless warfare and conten“ tion with each other, and with the inhabitants of the adja

cent district.” (Speech of the earl of Clare, in Ď. P. 9.)

As the author's view was the publication of truth, he once thought, as he continues to think, that it was his duty to send it forth in the form in which it should pass the most current. He was aware, that to that class of his readers, who are really desir. ous of attaining the truth, it would be immaterial, from whose pen it came: and to that class of them, whose prejudices being once fixed would reluctantly submit to any truth which counteracted them, he presumed the words of one of their favourite writers would receive more ready credit than those of the author. For this reason the author designedly copied from Leland, where Leland spoke the truth*: particularly concerning the early scenes

The late dr. Leland is well known to have written bis history for a bishopric, which he never attained. It is but a more polished edition of Cox, the falsities of whose work are tao rank and numerous for specific refutation. The

of the reformation and its introduction into Ireland. He said therefore in a note, and it would have been candid in the British Critic to have noticed the words (p. 52), “ For very obvious rea

sons I have chosen to follow dr. Leland's account of the effect “ of archbishop Browne's mission to Ireland.”

A reader of the British Critic giving the writers credit for common honesty and truth, must necessarily infer from these words (p. 475), As to Mr. Plowden's phillippic against coygne and livery, &c. that the author had indulged in some vehement invective against that usage, which those writers dignified by the appellation of a phillippic. But what will be the conclusion, when it shall appear that all the author has said of it is thus expressed in p. 41 : “ It was a system so grievous in its nature, that, had " it been confined to that disastrous period of the Irish history, I " should have spoken of it with the same freedom I have used “ in narrating ohter barbarous usages, which civilization and po“ litical liberality have long entombed; but recent revivals of “ this system of inhumanity render it prudent for a modern wri

ter to use other rather than his own language in retailing these “ ancient enormities.” What will be the astonishment, that the phillippics found in the Historical Review against coygne and live

author never intended to publish a polemical work, to refute other false historians, but to submit to the public a genuine view of the state of Ireland, by tearing away the veil of fictitious story, and exposing facts, such as they were. Dr. Leland was amply furnished with documents for writing a true history of Ireland by several, who were desirous that historical justice should at length be done to that much traduced people. He cultivated the acquaintance of, and was in habits of intimacy with the late Mr. Charles O'Connor, of Ballynagare, who was possessed of the best collection of materials for writing Irish history down to the period to which dr. Leland carries it, of any individual in Europe, and which is now deposited in the Marquis of Buckingham's library at Stowe. The author has been repeatedly assured by two gentlemen of great respectability now living, that they have heard dr. Leland assure Mr. O'Connor, that he was fully aware of the false colouring and unfair tendency of his history; but that the persons, for whom he wrote and published it, would not relish or encourage the work, unless it supported those facts and principles, which had received currency with the English ascendancy in Ireland since the reforma. tion; admitting he could write a more true, which would, of course, be a less saleable history of that country. The late Mr. Edmund Burke had made some important researches into one particular period of Irish history, the author's representation of which has given such offence to the British Critic, and from public records had extracted most authentic documents relative to the Protes. tant massacre, which would have given a very different cast to the complexion of that supposed event. When dr. L. undertook to write the history of Ire. land, Mr. B. put these and all his other papers into the Doctor's hands, in or. der that facts might be brought to light, and history bottomed in truth. But truth was not the object of Leland's publication ; a good sale was his only aim; and facts which would have counteracted the prejudices of those who could af. ford to buy, were suppressed, for fear of blasting with unpalatable truths, the pages of his work. He not only withheld the papers from his history, but from Mr. B. likewise. Mr. B. was never able to obtain them from him again. The truth of this anecdote has been confirmed to the author by several intimate friends of the late Mr. Burke.

ry, are those of the first law officer of the crown, and of a Protestant divine, and not of a Catholic historian ? The first of these philippics is of sir John Davies, and begins with these remarkable words : « But the most wicked and mischievous custome of “ all others was that of coygne and livery often before mentioned, « which consisted in taking of man's meate, horse meate, and money

of all the inhabitants of the country at the will and pleasure “ of the soldier; who, as the phrase of Scripture is, did eate up “ the people as it were

bread.” And it ends with the following remarkable words : “ That though it were invented in hell; yet if “ it had been used and practised

there, as it hath been in Ireland, " it had long since destroyed the very kingdom of Belzebub. The second of these philippics is from the pen of dr. Leland, and is expressed in his strongest colouring : it ends with these words : “ Riot, rapine, massacre, and all the tremendous effects of anar“ chy, were the natural consequences. Every inconsiderable

party, who under the pretence of loyalty received the king's " commission to repel the adversary in some particular district, “ became pestilent enemies to the inhabitants. Their property, " their wives, the chastity of their families, were all exposed to " barbarians, who sought only to glut their brutal passions, and “ by their horrible excesses purchased the curse of God and

man." If the ire and indignation of the British Critic be roused into such paroxysms by these philippics, truth and candour must admit, that they are the philippics, of sir John Davies and dr. Leland, and not of Mr. Plowden.

For the sake of such persons as are ignorant of, but who wish to attain the truth of Irish history, the author passes not over unnoticed the piteous attempt of the British Critic to discredit the Historical Review, by falsely asserting, that it is bottomed only upon the authority of some few Catholic writers, in palpable contradiction to the Protestant historians of Ireland. For the refuta tion of this unmanly falsehood, the author refers his readers, and particularly his English readers (the British Critic has inadvertently uttered one truth, p. 464, That very general is the ignorance, which, even at this day, prevails in England of the true state of that country) to the authorities he has quoted in his work of dr. Nalson, the bishop of Derry, and dr. Warner; all three Protestant clergymen; and the author presumes, in as high repute for knowledge, candour, and religion, as the writer of the British Critic.

Doctor Nalson says (and the British Critic could not wink so hard as not to see it quoted), p. 13, “ That Borlase's history of " the Irish Rebellion is rather a paradox than a history, and that “ his distorted plagiarism of lord Clarendon's manuscript ren* dered him suspected not to be overstacked with honesty and

VOL. V.

66 vil

“ justice, so necessary to the reputation of an unblemished histo“ rian. He wrote for the avowed purpose of defending the harsh “ government of his father sir John Borlase and sir William Par“ sons." -The bishop of Derry admits that “ he continued sir

John Temple's partial and unfaithful Memoirs, and wrote re« flections upon lord Castlehaven's Memoirs, as being openly and “ avowedly a favourite of the faction, and the men and the ac« tions of those times."

Doctor Warner is quoted (p. 113,) and no man of ordinary understanding will give credit to such severe censors, for having inadvertently overlooked so long and important a quotation from a Protestant gentleman of their own cloth. “ The original Protes“ tant writers of this period are sir John Temple and doctor Bor“ lase: the first, who was master of the rolls and a privy coun

sellor, has confined himself entirely to the massacre and rebel" lion in the early part of it; and the sense of what he suffered “ by the insurrection, together with his attachment to the minis

try, led him to aggravate the crimes and cruelties of the Irish: “ the other was the son of sir John Borlase, one of the lords jus. “ tices of that time, and seems to have been an officer in the ci

wars, who hath made great use of Temple's history; and, as far as he liked it, of lord Clarendon's vindication of the mar

quis of Ormonde. If both these authors are to be read with “ great suspicion of partiality, as they certainly are, except in the

copies of original papers, and the facts which tally with them, “ sir Richard Cox, who has done little more than transcribe the “ accounts which they have given, is entitled to still less merit, and “ yet open to the same suspicion. When he had no longer these “ to be his guide, the remainder of his work is little more than

an extract from the newspapers and pamphlets of the time, and « in no part deserves the name of a history.” And he further says,

“ As to all the writers of English history, who attempt to give any relation of this rebellion, having compiled from some or other of the materials aforementioned,

they have copied like“ wise their mistakes and imperfections: hence they are so inac“ curate, partial and uninformed, that whoever contents himself 6 with the accounts that he meets with of it, in any of our histo“ ries of England (not one excepted) may be said to know little “ of it.” The same reverend author, speaking in the body of his history, of Mr. Hume's gross infidelity, in representing the conduct of Charles I. towards his Irish subjects, says (p. 359), “ To such miserable shifts are able men reduced, when they « write to please a party, or to support a character without regard " to truth. It is but very little that Mr. Hume hath said on this “ critical part of king Charles's reign; but unless he could have “ said something much more to the purpose than he hath said,

« PoprzedniaDalej »