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7 vols. 8vo.
ART. I.-1. The Works of Francis Bacon. By J. Spedding, R. L. Ellis, and D. D. Heath. 7 vols. London, 1859.
2. The Letters and the Life of Francis Bacon. By James Spedding. 7 vols. London, 1874.
3. Isaac Casaubon. By Mark Pattison. London, 1875.
4. Englische Geschichte, vornehmlich im sechzehnten und siebzehnten Jahrhundert. Von Leopold Ranke (now Leopold von Ranke). 7 Bde. Leipzig, 1868.
5. A History of England, principally in the Seventeenth Century. By Leopold von Ranke. Clarendon Press translation. 6 vols. Oxford, 1875.
6. History of England, 1603-1616. By Samuel Rawson Gardiner. 2 vols. London, 1863.
7. Prince Charles and the Spanish Marriage. By Samuel Rawson Gardiner. 2 vols. London, 1869.
3. A History of England under the Duke of Buckingham and Charles T., 1624-1628. By Samuel Rawson Gardiner. 2 vols. London, 1875.
HE above are but the most conspicuous among a large THE are bus which have appeared within the last few years, and which, varied as is their respective choice of treatment and material, have had this, to begin with, in common, that they deal with the history of this country' principally in the seventeenth century.' The above, moreover, are all works which, notwithstanding considerable difference of subject and aim, take a view of the period they illustrate dissimilar in not unimportant particulars to the common view which is represented by such influential names as those of Lord Macaulay, Mr. Forster, and Mr. Motley. Nor is it unlikely that, sooner or later, we shall have to receive several new readings, if we are, according to these the most recent inquirers, to interpret aright a central chapter in our national annals, alike in its bearing on the course and progress of British institutions and of the British empire, and in its place in the survey of Vol. 139.-No. 277. Europe.
Europe. It will not be possible, within our limits, to examine in detail all or any of these writers, nor, in truth, to do more than, after commending very shortly their investigations to the attention of our readers, to make one or two observations of our own on that reign, which occupies in English history the greater part of the first quarter of the century in question.
We make bold to say at once of all the works on our list, and as our tribute to their merits, that in their case we are dispensed from the more cruel and painful duties of critical vivisection. They all of them pass straight to our shelves among standard authorities, and will, for long, each of them, be indispensable to every thorough and earnest student of the times, of which they treat.
Mr. Spedding's 'Letters and Life of Bacon,' as well as his earlier editorial labours, are so well known as to stand in need of no fresh encomium from us. We congratulate him on the successful accomplishment of the task, which for many years has so worthily employed him, and, presently, we hope to show that we have perused his volumes with interest and profit.
And we regret exceedingly that our plan restricts us to a most summary mention of Mr. Pattison's book as a whole, though here, too, we shall find, later on, a portion of it of most pertinent value. 'We cannot afford,' says Mr. Pattison (p. 488), 'to know all about everybody.' We trust that every one of our readers can and will afford to know all that Mr. Pattison has to say about Isaac Casaubon.*
To proceed to Professor von Ranke and Mr. Gardiner. can scarcely aspire to add anything to the laurels of the accepted and revered head of contemporary historical science. We must be understood throughout the following pages to be writing with perpetual reference to and regard for Professor von Ranke's exposition. He is possibly, at first, not the most attractive of historians, but by those who have had to weigh him against others, who have tested in him the rarest union of learning and judgment, who have grown accustomed to the power of his leadership, he will be followed (not so much in relation to every small fact, though here it would be hard to find a more accurate historian, as in relation to the grouping together and summing up of facts) with a species of unquestioning faith, for which, we think, there is no precedent in the domain over which, by a general suffrage, he rules supreme. Nor need von Ranke be afraid of that comparison with our native historians, which in
* It may perhaps interest some of our readers to know that this work owes its origin to an article which the learned author wrote in this Review in 1854. (See Quarterly Review,' vol. xciii. pp. 462–500, Diary of Casaubon.')
his preface he a little shrinks from inviting. He has a descriptive gift-let us instance his characters of Charles II. and of William III.—as remarkable, if not quite as pictorial and as immediately effective, as has Mr. Carlyle or Mr. Froude: while his critical faculty is not less keen and—as they would in all probability be the first to admit--more finely practised, under more absolute command, and exerted over a far wider field than is that of either Mr. Freeman or Mr. Stubbs. English historical learning must rejoice in, and our country, we dare to add, may pride herself on the monument which Professor von Ranke has raised in honour of England. It is mainly (on this occasion we can notice but the smallest portion of his labours) for the sake of his development of the history of the House which stepped into the place of that of Tudor, that the attention of Englishmen with political or scholarly leanings will be drawn to Professor von Ranke's elaborate and delicate studies on the England of the seventeenth century. An Englishman of the nineteenth century can hardly bring himself to do honour or even justice to the upholders of the divine right of kings and the divine right of bishops as rights overriding those of the individual conscience and of Parliament; but now that the storms of the seventeenth century have entirely cleared off, he may well be most thankful to the genius of the veteran master of the lore of history and diplomacy, who has desired to grant full allowance to the monarchs who made the most picturesque and the most pardonable failure in the political history of the modern era, while he has all the time felt how the failure could not but ensue, and how the struggle against and the victory over the principles of the Stewarts involved the whole future of Britain.
Among our own writers there may still be room for some one who will try his pen at, if not a vindication of, at least an apology for, the Stewart kings. The other side among our recent historians in quite modern times has had a little too much its own way. We must not, however, overlook very good work, though somewhat over-hesitatingly and modestly performed, done in the direction we now indicate by Mr. Gardiner. Professor von Ranke said of Mr. Gardiner's first two volumes: * Gardiner (1863) avoids unauthenticated statements, but the views of James's character, which have grown up and established themselves owing to the commonplace repetition of such statements, control his representation of it.' But, since this was written, Mr. Gardiner, in his four subsequent volumes, seems to us to have most steadily improved and advanced. His carefulness
and trustworthiness in minute matters are as strong virtues in him as ever. Now and then his mastery of pamphleteering, and generally of the documentary literature, enables him to supplement and even to correct von Ranke.* And his acquaintance with the original authorities is more and more opening his eyes. He has lost his awe of his nearest predecessors. He is no longer to be frightened out of an honestly-founded and well-fortified opinion. And no one has given so much time and reflection to the whole epoch from the commencement of the century to the outbreak of the Civil War.† Some words of Mr. Gardiner, in his last preface, describe aptly enough his own position, and we believe him to be entirely within bounds in using the language which we have emphasised below:-
We have had historians in plenty, but they have been Whig historians, or Tory historians. The one class has thought it unnecessary to take trouble to understand how matters looked in the eyes of the King and his friends; the other class has thought it unnecessary to take trouble to understand how matters looked in the eyes of the leaders of the House of Commons. I am not so vain. as to suppose that I have always succeeded in doing justice to both. parties, but I have, at least, done my best not to misrepresent either.'England under the Duke of Buckingham and Charles I., p. vi.
With, then, such guides as those enumerated, and always with Professor von Ranke as guide in chief, we would now for a brief space transport ourselves and our readers to the beginning of the seventeenth century. There are still in the hour-glass of the last Tudor a few sands to be turned. Let us not fail, as wehurry on, to do obeisance to that august memory.
It is the most plaintive page in the romance of English history, it is the very sternest chapter in the record of English policy, in which the final words and deeds of Elizabeth are set down. Among all the touching fancies of the great poets of that dramatic age there is none more sombre, more sorrowful, more startling than this reality of the death-scene of a Queen, starving her body now that heart and soul are, beyond relief,. withered and starved. She sits, her finger on her lip, the haughtiest and the most famous, the one survivor of the most majestic of the dynasties of England. She is impatient for the end. Her ears are shut, and withdrawn from the too distant
Eg. cp. 'Spanish Marriage,' ii. pp. 364–366, 'At last some one bolder-people of England,' with von Ranke, transl. vol. i. p. 515. 'The second ecclesiastic-laws. of the land.'
† Had our list not been already a long one, we should have included in it several most valuable publications, edited for the Camden Society by Mr. Gardiner, to whom the Society of Antiquaries and the Archæologia' are also indebted for some papers excellently well done.