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floruerunt." Now it deserves to be noticed, that most of the persons whom Falster has rescued from oblivion, were orators; and this fact would be surprising to us, if we were not prepared to hear it by the mention of other orators, whose names have been preserved to us, and the character of whose style has sometimes been shortly described by Cicero, Quintilian, and the unknown writer of the Dialogus de Oratoribus, subjoined to the common editions of Tacitus. Happy, then, must be the friends of Mr. Fox, that, if any future scholars should write, upon our own countrymen, a book similar to that of Falster upon the Romans, the name of Mr. Fox will not be included among them. Had he lived, indeed, to finish his work, he would have experienced more and more the truth of Quintilian's observation : “ Paulatiin res facilius se ostendent, verba respondebunt, compositio sequetur, cuncta denique, ut in familia bene instituta, in officio erunt. Summa hæc est rei : cito scribendo, non fit bene ut scribatur; bene scribendo, fit ut cito.”* As to the examination of facts, whether admitted into history, or preserved only by tradition, his labour would have been undiminished. But the necessity of all the diligence and all the solicitude which are ascribed to him, must be apparent, when we reflect upon
the negligence, or the credulity, or the unfairness of his predecessors; and that history, beyond every other kind of composition, requires the most unwearied perseverance and the most rigorous impartiality, is obvious to our common sense, and has been illustrated by a most judicious writer de Incertitudine Historiæ, in a learned and philosophical dissertation, which you may see in the “ Additamentum ad decem Libros Observationum Selectarum ad Rem litterariam pertinentium.”—Halæ Magdeburg.
Many may be the faults, which, as Cicero says in the Brutus,
non quivis unus ex populo, sed existimator doctus et intelligens possit cognoscere." But the general character of Mr. Fox's style was purely English; † and, as to the rejection of a word, for which he had not the authority of Dryden, it is a fancy which
* Lib. x. cap. 3.
* “ Πρώτη των αρετών γένοιτ' άν, ής χωρίς ουδέν των άλλων των περί τους λόγους όφελος τίς και η καθαρά τοϊς ονόμασι και τον 'Ellvikov xapartñpa oázovoa dialektos.” Dion. Halicarn. Ep. ad Pomp. de Platone, parag. 15. VOL. IV.
seems to me not less unwise than the fastidiousness of the Ciceronian sect, * and which Mr. Fox's own example proves to be more “honoured in the breach than the observance." Dryden, with all his numerous and all his exquisite beauties, could not have supplied all the peculiar forms of writing for which an historian has occasion, and if Mr. Fox was determined to employ no expression which English writers of celebrity had not employed before him, he might have found in those writers every word and every combination of words which might be necessary for every purpose of perspicuity and correctness, elegance and strength.
Far be it from me to withhold the smallest portion of that
* "Quemadmodum," says Falster, “ Philosophia, (quod Clemens Alexandrinus dixit) non est dicenda Stoica, nec Platonica, aut Epicurea, aut Aristotelica, sed quicquid ab his recte dictumn est, quod docet Justitiam cum veri Scientia. Hoc totum selectum dicendum est Philosophia ; sic latinitas non Ciceronia dicenda est, non Terentiana, non Plautina, sed quicquid a diligentissimo quoque scriptore Latino proprie et emendate dictum, id demum civitate Latina dignum judicator." (Vid. Falsteri, Amænitat. Philolog. vol. ii. cap. 11, and Cl. Al. Stromat. lib. i. par 7.) You will not join in any cry of pedantry against me for saying that in the word Ciceronianum, as sometimes used by the modern writers of Latin, there is more propriety than some scholars may perceive at first sight. « Ciceronianum nomen ferri potest, ut recentioribus maxime usitatum. Sed velim antiqui et probati scriptoris locum mihi demonstrari, ubi Ciceronianum nomen, Ciceroniani libri, Ciceroniana merita in Rempublicam dicantur, pro Ciceronis ipsius nomine, libris, meritis. Jllius ætate sine dubio Tullianum dicebant quicquid profectum erat a Cicerone aut ad ipsum proprie pertinebat, et si quis adjectivum volebat ad hoc Agnomine ductum, Ciceronium potius dicebat, Sicut a Cæsone dicitur Cæsonium, a Stilicone Stiliconium, a Marone Maronium sive Maroneum, sed ex analogia Ciceronianum debebat esse id quod minus arcte nexum et cum Cicerone conjunctum est, ita ut Ciceronianus esset imitator Ciceronis, oratio Ciceroniana, oratio similis orationibus Ciceronis ; see page 7 of Weiske's preface to his Commentary on the speech for Marcellus, the authenticity of which he has endeavoured to defend, ingeniously, but, I think unsuccessfully, against the criticisms of the learned and acute Wolfius. No man, you will tell me, in the words of Johnson, forgets his original trade. I am not ashamed of mine; and if I had been writing to Mr. Fox, as I now am to you, upon style, he would not have blamed me for remembering such a passage as I now recommend to your perusal.
praise which is due to a Robertson, a Hume, or a Gibbon.* But I must confess, that the style of Mr. Fox approaches more nearly than that of the writers just now mentioned, to the excellence which, in my opinion, is peculiarly becoming in historical compositions. Upon this subject I have long thought in the same way with my illustrious schoolfellow and friend Sir William Jones, and under the protection of his authority and his words I will communicate my own fixed judgment.
“ It may perhaps be expected that some account should here be given of the Persian history, which I was thus appointed to send abroad in an European dress, with some reinarks on the veracity and merit of its eastern author; but, before we descend to these minute particulars, it will not be foreign from the subject of the present publication, to inquire into the general nature of historical composition, and to offer the idea, rather of what is required from a perfect historian, than of what hitherto seems to have been executed in any age or nation.
“ Cicero, who was meditating an history of Rome, had established a set of rules for the conduct of his work, which he puts into the mouth of Antonius in his treatise on the accomplished orator ; where he declares the basis and ground-work of all history to depend upon these primary laws, that the writer should not dare to set down a falsehood, nor be deterred by fear from divulging an interesting truth; and that he should avoid any just suspicion of partiality or resentment; the edifice, he adds, which must be raised on this foundation, consists of two parts, the relation of things, and the words in which they are related; in the first, the historian should adhere to the order of time, and diversify his narrative with the description of countries, and since, in all memorable transactions, first the counsels are explained, then the acts, and lastly, the events, he should pronounce his own judgment on the merit of counsels ; should show what acts ensued, and in what manner they we performed; and unfold the causes of all great events, whether he imputes them to chance, or wisdom, or rashness; he should also describe, not only the ac
* “ Lumina orationis velut oculos quosdam eloquentiæ esse sed
neque oculos esse toto corpore velim, ne cætera membra suum officium perdant."-Quintil. lib. viii. cap. 5.
tions, but the lives and characters of all the persons, who are eminently distinguished in his piece ; and, as to the words, should be master of a copious and expanded style, flowing along with ease and delicacy, without the roughness of pleadings at the bar, or the affectation of pointed sentences.'*
“ If we form our idea of a complete historian from these rules, we shall presently perceive the reason, why no writer, ancient or modern, has been able to sustain the weight of so important a character; which includes in it the perfection of almost every virtue and every noble accomplishment, an unbiassed integrity,
* « De Orat. lib. ii. 15."
Some of the best observations I have ever seen upon the diction, the topics, and the arrangement of history, may be found in Mr. Hampton's preface to his excellent translation of Polybius. Has it ever occurred to you, my friend, that marks may be traced of two styles, and even two minds in that preface? When I had pointed some instances to the learned and sagacious Sir James Mackintosh, he agreed with me in my conjecture that the Whig translator was indebted for some expansion of his matter, and some embellishments of his language to a Tory auxiliary,t who is known to have been acquainted with him, and who at a later time directed his satire against false alarms, and his eloquence against unnecessary wars.
+ Much of the praise which Hampton's friend in one of his writings bestows upon Knolles's History of the Turks, may be extended to Mr. Laing's History of Scotland. “ His style is nervous, elevated, and clear. A wonderful multiplicity of events is so artfully arranged, and so distinctly explained, that each facilitates the knowledge of the next. Collateral events are so artfully interwoven into the contexture of the principal story, that they cannot de disjoined without leaving it lacerated and broken. There is nothing turgid in his dignity, nor superfluous in bis copiousness.”-Rambler, No. 122.
The ardour of Mr. Laing in the cause of liberty is not disgraced by democratic coarseness or theoretic refinement. His inquiry into the controverted question of Mary's participation in the death of Darnley is minute without tediousness, and acute without sophistry. Whether I consider bis sagacity in exploring causes, his clearness in relating facts, his vigour in pourtraying characters, or his ingenuity in unfolding and enforcing principles, I shall ever find reason to lament that the continuation of Hume's history was not undertaken by a writer so eminently qualified as Mr. Laing is, for a task so arduous and so important.
a comprehensive view of nature, an exact knowledge of men and manners, a mind stored with free and generous principles, a penetrating sagacity, a fine taste and copious eloquence; a perfect historian must know many languages, many arts, many sciences ; and, that he may not be reduced to borrow his materials wholly from other men, he must have acquired the height of political wisdom, by long experience in the great affairs of his country, both in
and There never was, perhaps, any such cha. racter; and perhaps there never will be ; but in every art and science there are certain ideas of perfection, to which the works of genius are continually tending, though, like the logarithmic spiral, they will never meet the point to which they are infinitely approaching. Cicero himself, had he found leisure to accomplish his design, though he would have answered his own idea in most respects, would have been justly liable to the suspicion of an illiberal bias in relating the history of his own times, and drawing the several characters of his age.
“ The very soul and essence of history is truth, without which it can preserve neither its name nor its nature, and with which the most indifferent circumstances in a barren chronicle are more interesting to a sensible reader, than the greatest events, how copiously or elegantly soever they may be described, in å romance or legend; yet it is strange, that, of so many histories, ancient or modern, European or Asiatic, there should be so few, which we can read without asking in almost every page, Is this true?"*
After some remarks, worthy of his unparalleled erudition and correct taste, upon some ancient and modern historians, Sir William Jones goes on thus;
“ The English historians are not to be read without caution. Clarendon himself is often liable to exception, both in sentiment and style ; and our language, indeed, was never entirely polished till the present century. I avoid touching upon the works of living authors; Jest, in my very preface, I should violate a fundamental law of history, by incurring the suspicion of prejudice for a particular nation, or affection for particular men; but another law obliges me to declare, that there are historians now in
* Preface to Sir Williarn Jones's History of the Life of Nader Shah, &c.