Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE

MONTHLY EPITOME,

For DECEMBER 1801.

CONTENTS.

SES

CXI. Account of the Life and Writings Pitcairn, Esq. of Dreghorn. By his

of William Robertson, D.D.F.R.S.Ě. father he was descended from the Rolate Principal of the University of bertsons of Gladney, in the county of Edinburgh, and Historiographer to Fife; a branch of the respectable family his Majesty for Scotland. 4to. generations, possessed the estate of

of the same name, which has, for many pp. 202. gs. Svo. PP. 307. 5. Struan in Perthshire. Cadell and Davies.

“ He was born in 1721, at Borthwick (in the county of Mid-Lothian), where his father was then minister;

and received the first rudiments of his ECTION I. From Dr. Robert, education the school of Dalkeith,

son's Birth till the Publication of which, from the high reputation of his History of Scotland —II. Progress Mr. Leslie as a teacher, was at that of Dr. Robertson's Plans and Under- time resorted to from all parts of Scottakings-History of the Reign of the father's family on their removal to

land. In 1733, he again joined his Emperor Charles V.-111. Continua. Edinburgh; and, towards the end of tion of the same Subject--History of the same year, he entered on his course America.--IV. Continuation of the of academical study. fame Subject--Historical Disquisition “ From this period till the year 1959, concerning India-General Remarks when, by the publication of his Scoton Dr. Robertson's Merits as an Histo- tish History, he fixed a new ära in the rian.-V. Review of the more active literary annals of his country, the haOccupations of Dr. Robertson's Life bits and occurrences of his life were --Conclusion of the Narrative

such as to supply few materials for bioSketch of his Character.-- Appendix; ill up a long interval spent in the filent

graphy; and the imagination is left to containing Letters from Lord Hales, pursuit of letters, and enlivened by the Mr. Hume, Dr. Birch, Mr. Gibbon, fecret anticipation of future eminence. &c. &c.

His genius was not of that forward and

irregular growth, which forces itself EXTRACTS.

prematurely on public notice; and it DR. ROBERTSON'S EARLY LIFE.

was only a few intimate and discerning

friends, who, in the native vigour of WILLIAM Robertson, D.D. late his powers, and in the patient culture principal of the university of Edin- by which he laboured to improve them, burgh, and historiographer to his Ma- perceived the earnests of a fame that jefty for Scotland, was the son of the was to laft for ever. Rev. William Robertson, minister of “ The large proportion of Dr. Rothe Old Gray Friar's Church, and of bertson's life which he thus devoted to Eleanor Pitcairn, daughter of David obscurity, will appear the more reVOL.V.NO. LIV,

markable,

[ocr errors]

markable, when contrasted with his worthy of the public approbation, it early and enthusiastic love of study. . is perhaps prudent to conceal, till is Some of his oldest common-place • shall be known whether that approbabooks, still in his son's poffeffion (dated * tion is ever to be bestowed.' in the years 1735, 1736, and 1737), “ Among the many congratulatory bear marks of a persevering affiduity, letters addressed to him on this occaunexampled perhaps at fo tender an fion, a few have been accidentally pre. age; and the motto prefixed to all of served; and, although the contents of then (Vita fire literis mors eft) attests fome of them may not now appear how soon those views and fentiments very important, they still derive a cerwere formed, which, to his latest hour, tain degree of interest from the names continued to guide and to dignify his and characters of the writers, and from anibition. In times such as the pre- the sympathetic share which a good. sent, when literary distinction leads to natured reader cannot fail to take in other rewards, the labours of the stu- Dr. Robertson's feelings, when he perdious are often prompted by motives ceived the first dawning of his future very different from the hope of fame, fame.” P. 13. or the inspiration of genius; but when « A letter from Mr. Horace Walpole, Dr. Robertson's career commenced, to whom some specimens of the work these were the only incitements which had been communicated during the existed to animate his exertions. The author's visit to London, is the earliest trade of authorship was unknown in teftimony of this kind which I have Scotland; and the rank which that found among his papers. It is dated country had early acquired among the January 18, 1759. learned riations of Europe, had, for • I expect with impatience your many years, been sustained entirely by "book, which you are io kind as to a small number of eminent men, who say you ordered for me, and for distinguished themselves by an honour- · which I already give you many thanks: able and disinterested zeal in the un- 'the fpecimen i faw convinces me that gainful walks of abstract science." P.1. • I do not thank you rashly. Good

« historians are the most scarce of all « writers; and no wonder! a good • 1tyle is not very common-thorough

«information is fill more rare: and if " FROM this moment the com- «these meet, what a chance that implexion of his fortune was changed."partiality should be added to them! After a long struggle, in an obscure Your style, Sir, I may venture to say, though a happy and hospitable retreat, "I saw was uncommonly good; I have with a narrow income and an increasing reason to think your information fo: family, his prospects brightened at 6 and in the few times I had the plez

He saw independence and afslu- • sure of conversing with you, your ence within his reacb; and flattered • good fenfe and candour made me conhimself with the idea of giving a ftill clude, that even on a subject which bolder flight to his genius, when no we are foolish enough to make parts, longer depresled by those tender anxie. you preferve your judgment unbiaired. ties which so often fall to the lot of • I fear I Thall not preserve mine lo; men, whose pursuits and habits, while the too kind acknowledgments that I they heighten the endearments of do- « frequently reccive from gentlemen of meltic life, withdraw them from the your country, of the jutt praise that paths of interest and ambition. • I paid to merit, will make me, at

“ In venturing on a step, the success " least for the tuiure, not very unpreof which was to be to decisive, not judiced. If the opinion of so trifling only with respect to his fame, but to a writer as I am was of any contehis future comfort, it is not surprising quence, it would then be worth that he should have felt, in a more • Scotland's while to let the world than common degree, that anxiety know, that when my book was writ' and diffidence fo natural to an author 'ten, I had no reaion to be partial • in delivering to the world his first 'to it. But, Sir, your country will

performance'--" The time' (he ob- “trust to the nicrit of its natives, not ferves in his preface)' which I have sto foreign teftimonials, for its repa* empisyed in attempting to render it tation.'

66 This with

PUBLICATION OF HIS HISTORY OF

SCOTLAND.

once.

[ocr errors]

« This letter was followed immedi. doubtedly a violent woman at all ately by another from Dr. Robertson's times. You will see in Murden proofs bookseller, Mr. Millar. It is dated • of the utmost rancour against her in27th January 1759, a few days before nocent, good-natured, dutiful fon. the publication of the book, and con- • She certainly dilinherited him. What veys very Aattering expressions of ap- think you of a conspiracy for kidnapprobation from Dr. Warburton and ping him, and delivering him a priMr. Garrick, to both of whom copies • soner to the King of Spain, never to had been privately sent at the author's recover his liberty till he should turn request : expressions, which, though • Catholic ---Téll Goodall, that if they cannot now add much to a repu- he can but give me up Queen Mary, tation so solidly established, were gra- 'I hope to satisfy him in every thing tifying at the time, and do honour to elle; and he will have the pleasure of the candour and discernment of the seeing John Knox and the reformers writers.” P. 15.

made very ridiculous.' « Of this work, so flattering to the “ • It is plain' (lays Mr. Walpole:) author by its first success, no fewer that you wish to excuse Mary; and than fourteen editions were published yet it is so plain that you never viobefore his death; and he had the fatif- late truth in her favour, that I own I faction to see its popularity increase to think still worse of her than I did, the laft, notwithstanding the repeated "fince I read your history.' affaults it had to encounter from va- “ Dr. Birch expresses himself much rious writers, diftinguished by their to the same purpose. "If the second controversial acuteness, and seconded volume of the State Papers of Lord by all the prepossessions which are • Burleigh, publithed since Christmas likely to influence the opinions of the • here, had appeared before your hifmajority of readers. The character of 'tory had been finished, it would have Mary has been delineated anew, and • furnished you with reasons for enterthe tale of her misfortunes has again "taining a less favourable opinion of been told, with no common powers of Mary Queen of Scots in one or two expression and pathos, by an historian points, than you seem at present pos. more indulgent to her errors, and « lessed of more undistinguishing in his praise : “ Dr. John Blair, too, in a letter but, after all, it is in the history of dated from London, observes to Dr. Dr. Robertson that every one ftill reads Robertson, that the only general obthe transactions of her reign; and such “jection to his work was founded on is his skilful contrast of light and fhade, his tenderness for Queen Mary'aided by the irrefiftible charm of his Lord Chesterfield' (says he) though narration, that the story of the beau. • he .approves much of your history, tiful and unfortunate Queen, as related (told me, that he finds this to be a by him, excites on the whole à deeper • bias which no Seotchman can get the interest in her fortunes, and a more

• better of'." P. 24. lively fympathy with her fate, than have been produced by all the attempts to canonize her memory, whether in

PUBLICATION OF THE HISTORY OF

CHARLES V-LETTER FROM MR. spired by the fympathetic zeal of the Romish church, or the enthusiasm of Scottish chivalry.

“ THE delays which retarded the “ In perusing the letters.addrefled to publication of the History of Charles V. Dr. Robertson on the publication of together with the author's established this book, it is somewhat remarkable popularity as a writer, had raised the that I have not found one in which he curiosity of the public to a high pitch is charged with the fightest unfairness before that work appeared; and pertowards the Queen; and that, on the haps there never was a book, unconcontrary, almost all his correspondents nected with the circumstances of the accuse him of an undue prepoffeffion times, that was expected with more in her favour. •I am afraid' (says Mr. general impatience. It is unnecessary Hume) ' that you, as well as myself, for me to say, that these expectations have drawn Mary's character with were not disappointed; nor would it foo great softenings. She was une be worth while to swell this memoir

AM

HUME.

with a repetition of the eulogiums la. in each other's productions fometbing vished on the author in the literary "to blame, and something to commend ; journals of the day.

• and therefore you may perhaps expect “ The paragraphs which immedi. alfo fume feasoning of the former ately follow are part of a letter from kind; but really neither my leisure, Mr. Hume, without any date; but inor inclination allowed me to make written, as appears from the contents, such remarks, and I fincerely believe while the History of Charles V. was you have afforded me very small mafill in the press. The levity of the "terials for them. However, fuch par. style forms such a striking contrast to * ticulars as occur to my memory I thall the character which this grave and phi- ' mention. Maltreat is a Scotticism lofophical historian sustains in his pub- which occurs once. What the devil lications, that I have fometimes hefi- 'had you to do with that old-fashioned tated about the propriety of subjecting "dangling word wherewith ? I should to the criticisms of the world fo care as soon take back wberezipor, wberee lefs an effufion of gaiety and affection. « unto, and whereavithal. I think the I trust, however, that to some it will only tolerable, decent gentleman of not be wholly uninteresting to enjoy a "the family is wherein ; and I thould glimpse of the writer and his corre- not chufé to be often seen in bis comfpondent in the habits of private inter- pany. But I know your affection for course; and that to them the playful where with proceeds from your parand good-natured irony of Mr. Hume “tiality to Dean Swift, whom I can will suggest not unpleasing pictures often laugh with, whose ftyle I can of the hours which they borrowed even approve, but surely can never from business and study. Dr. Robert-admire. It has no harmony, no eiofon used frequently to say, that in Mr. Squence, no ornament; and not much Hume's gaiety there was fomething correctnefs, whatever the English may which approached to infantine ; and imagine. Were not their literature that he had found the same thing so • ftill in a fomewhat barbarous state, often exemplified in the circle of his that author's place would not be so other friends, that he was almoft dif. • high among their claffics. But what posed to consider it as characteristical a fancy is this you have taken of fay. of genius.

• ing always an hand, as beart, an "• I got yesterday from Strahan' baad? Have you an ear? Do you * about thirty sheets of your history to not know that this (n) is added before be fent over to Suard *, and last night'vowels to prevent the cacophony, and and this morning have run them over 'ought never to take place before (h) • with great avidity. I could not deny when that letter is founded ? It is myself the satisfaction (which I hope never pronounced in these words:

also will not difplease you) of ex- ! why should it be wrote " Thus, I * presling presently my extreme appro- should say, a history, and an biftorian;

bation of them. To lay only they " and so would you too, if you had • are very well written, is by far too “any sense. But you tell me, that : faint an expression, and much inferior Swift does otherwise. To be sure to the sentiments I feel: they are there is no reply to that; and we muft

composed with nobleness, with dig- • swallow your bath too upon the same nity, with elegance, and with judg-authority. I will see you . ment, to which there are few equals. 'fooner. But I will endeavour to keep • They even excel, and, I think, in a my temper. * sensible degree, your History of Scot- "I do not like this fentence in • land. I propose to myself great plea- page 149. “This step was taken in i fare in being the only man in Eng. confequence of the treaty Wolfey • land, during some months, who will had concluded with the Emperor at • be in the situation of doing you juf- • Brussels, and which had hitherto been : tice, after which you may certainly kept secret.” Si fic omnia dixiffes, I expect that my voice will be drowned ! should never have been plagued with in that of the public.

• hearing your praises fo often founded, “ ! You know that you and I have and that fools preferred your ftyle to always been on the footing of finding .mine. Certainly it had been better * * The French translator."

[ocr errors]

to have said, which Wolsey, &c. That researches still more laborious. I shall * relative ought very feldom to be 'not be involved in the fame painful * omitted, and is here particularly re- . inquiries, if I undertake the present •quisite to preserve a symmetry be- 'work. I possess already as much • tween the two members of the fen- • knowledge of the British government • tence. You omit the relative too and laws as usually is poffeffed by • often, which is a colloquial barba- other persons who have been well • rism, as Mr. Johnson calls it.

educated and have lived in good com“ Your periods are sometimes, pany. A minute investigation of facts

not often, too long. Suard will be the chief object of my attenwill be embarrassed with them, as * tion. With respect to these, I shall * the modish French style runs into the be much aided by the original papers • other extreme'.

P. 50. published by Sir John Dalrymple and

• Macpherson, and lately by Lord

• Hardwicke. The Memoirs of NoA CONTINUATION OF HUME'S HIS

• ailles, concerning the French negotiaTORY PROPOSED BY DR. ROBERT

* tions in Spain, contain very curious SON.

• information. I have got a very valu* IN consequence of the interrup- able collection of papers from the tion of Dr. Robertson's plans, produ. Duke of Montague, which belonged ced by the American revolution, he 'to the Duke of Shrewsbury; and I was led to think of some other subject "am promised the large collection of which might, in the mean time, give the Duke of Marlborough, which employment to his ftudious leisure. A were formerly in the hands of Mr. letter, dated July 1778, to his friend Mallet. From these and other mate.. the Rev. Mr. Waddilove (now Dean of rials, I hope to write a history which Rippon, contains some important in. may be both entertaining and instrucformation with respect to his designs at tive. I know that I shall get upon this period.

• dangerous ground, and must relate « * The state of our affairs in North events, concerning which our poli« America is not fuch as to invite me tical factions entertain very different • to go on with my History of the New ' sentiments. But I am little alarmed • World, I must wait for times of with this. I flatter myself that I have « greater tranquillity, when I can write, temper enough to judge with impar. • and the public can read, with more tiality; and if, after examining with • impartiality and better information • çandour I do give offence, there is • than at present. Every person with no man whose šituation is more inde« whom I conversed in London con- pendent.'

firmed me in my resolution of making " Whatever the motives were which & a paufe for a little, until it shall be induced him to relinquish this project, 6 known in what manner the ferment it is certain that it did not long occupy

will subside. But as it is neither my his thoughts. From a letter of Mr. $ inclination nor interest to be altoge. Gibbon, it would appear to have been

ther idle, many of my friends have abandoned before the end of the year $ suggested to me new subject, the 1779. The passage is interesting, not • History of Great Britain, from the only as it serves to ascertain the fact, « Revolution to the Accession of the but as it suggests a valuable hint with • House of Hanover. It will be some respect to a different historical subject. * fatisfaction to me to enter on a do- it I remember a kind of engage. mestic subject, after being engaged oment you had contracted to repeat • so long on foreign ones, where one your visit to London every second « half of my time and labour were em- year, and I look forwards with plea• ployed in teaching myself to under- sure to next spring, when your bond • stand manners, and laws, and forms, will naturally become due. I should « which I was to explain to others. almest hope that you would bring . You know better than any body how with you some fruits of your leisure, • much pains I bestowed in studying had i not been informed that you • the conftitution, the manners, and * had totally relinquished your design

the commerce of Spanish America, • of continuing Mr. Hume's History of The review contained in the first vo- • England. Notwithstanding the just lume of Charles V. was founded on 6 and deep sense which I must entertain

(if

« PoprzedniaDalej »