great measure subdued, by the treatment prescribed by his medical attendants, the consequent debility was too great for his constitution to resist, already oppressed by the weight of sixty-six years. Sir James Mackintosh anticipated the near approach of his dissolution with the greatest firmness, and with the most perfect resignation to the Divine will; retaining, nearly to the last, the command of the powerful mental faculties which distinguished him through an arduous life. His decease took place on the 30th of May, 1832, at his house in Langham Place. He was buried on the 4th of June, at Hampstead. Among the carriages in the procession were those of the Lord Chancellor, the Dukes of Bedford and Devonshire, the Marquis of Lansdowne, the Earl of Carlisle, Lords Holland and Dover, Right Hon. C. Grant, Sir Robert Inglis, Bart. M.P., &c.' pp. 125—6.

Many years ago, (it is even said, early in life,) Sir James had projected a great historical work on the affairs of England since the Revolution of 17&8* for which he collected materials with much assiduity; but, after his return to Europe, his parliamentary duties conspired with the feeble state of his health, to prevent his making much progress in the execution of his design. The work of which the volume before us contains a valuable fragment, may be regarded as ' an expansion of the prefatory matter in'tended for his greater history.' The entire work was to have extended to eight volumes of the Cyclopaedia; and he is stated to have left 'various manuscripts and memoranda relating to 'English history,' which have been purchased by the proprietors, and ' will be used as occasion shall require in the progress of 'the work.' Among these is 'a view of English affairs at the 'time of the Revolution,' which promises to be peculiarly valuable. We know not to whom the delicate task of continuing the history has been intrusted; but we should strongly recommend, that that portion of the history towards which Sir James's manuscripts will be found to supply no available materials, should be despatched with all convenient brevity, for two obvious reasons; first, because the work, as originally planned, is on a scale too large in proportion for the Cyclopaedia itself, and secondly, because, if that scale is adhered to, Sir James's composition will form too small a proportion of this History. Perhaps another reason might be drawn from the character of that portion which he lived to execute: though richly instructive, it presents by no means a model for advantageous imitation by any inferior hand. The learned Author was better qualified to be a commentator upon history, than an historian. His comments and elucidations are admirable, and throw a strong light upon conspicuous points; but he does not excel in either graphic delineation or compressed and perspicuous narrative. His distinguished friend, Mr. Hall, is stated to have expressed in conversation, the opinion that, in attempting history, Mackintosh had mistaken the proper line of his powers. The conversation alluded to, which took place in 1819 and 1823, has been preserved by the Rev. Robert Balmer, of Berwick upon Tweed, and is printed in the Vlth volume of Mr. Hall's Works, just published. We shall transcribe the whole of what relates to the subject of the present sketch.

'" I know no man," Mr. Hall said repeatedly and emphatically, "equal to Sir James in talents. The powers of his mind are admiralty balanced. He is defective only in imagination He has imagination too; but, with him, imagination is an acquisition, rather than a faculty. He has, however, plenty of embellishment at command; for his memory retains every thing. His mind is a spacious repository, hung round with beautiful images; and when he wants one, he has nothing to do but reach up his hand to a peg, and take it down. But his images were not manufactured in his mind; they were imported." B. " If it be so defective in imagination, he must be incompetent to describe scenes and delineate characters vividly and graphically; and I should apprehend, therefore, he will not succeed in writing history." H. " Sir, I do not expect him to produce an eloquent or interesting history. He has, I fear, mistaken his province. His genius is best adapted for metaphysical speculation. But, had he chosen moral philosophy, he would probably have surpassed every living writer." 11. " I admired exceedingly some of his philosophical papers in the Edinburgh Review; his articles, for instance, on Mde. de Stael's Germany, and on Dugald Stewart's Preliminary Dissertation; but there seemed to me a heaviness about them; and I do think that Mr. Jeffrey could expound a metaphysical theory with more vivacity and effect." H. " With more vivacity, perhaps, but not with equal judgement or acuteness. He would not go so deep, Sir. I am persuaded that if Sir James Mackintosh had enjoyed leisure, and had exerted himself, he would have completely outdone Jeffrey and Stewart, and all the metaphysical writers of our times."'

Mr. Hall's remarks upon Sir James's qualifications for historical writing, were made in anticipation of his great work, which was destined never to appear, and had no reference to the task which he was induced to undertake for Dr. Lardner's Cyclopaedia. In these volumes, he was obliged to have more immediately in view the amusement of popular readers; but his style is by no means adapted to a popular work. It is rich, but often crowded with thought; obscure, not through any defect of perspicuity in the diction, but from the complexity arising from the number of accessory ideas interlaced with the primary one in the sentence or paragraph. The narrative is encumbered with the philosophy, like a silver stream half concealed by the rich vegetation it has nourished. He presents to us not the mere facts, but the reasons of the facts, never being satisfied without tracing the event to the cause; and thus, if not the most graphic of narrators, his work, so far as it goes, is the most instructive of historical manuals. Our readers will probably prefer to any further observations of our own upon this subject, the following critiaue upon the first two volumes, from the pen of Mr. Campbell, the Poet.

'" There is something, at the first view, unpleasant in conceiving a man like Mackintosh, with a mind whose deep speculations would require a good long life-time for ordinary men to study, sitting down to write a book for men of little leisure; but on closer examination of the subject, it will occur, that we scarcely recognise profound thinkers by a surer test, than that they save the bulk of men from the pain of elaborate thought. They simplify truth at a glance. Locke, Bacon, and Montesquieu afford abundant examples. That Mackintosh has done this in a certain and very considerable degree, in his Manual of English History, I do honestly believe; nor would I wish that the world had lost that Manual upon any terms, unless, perhaps, on the condition that he had finished his larger history. I pretend not, indeed, to come armed at all points, by that fresh and full research which the subject would require, to defend those two volumes against every objection which criticism, both oral and written, has brought against them. During their preparation, he had grown a veteran in fame; and, from the exaggerating tendency of the popular mind, he had to satisfy absurd anticipations. Among familiar facts, he was expected to introduce novelty,—among the 'lying chronicles,' he was expected to establish harmonious testimony,— and over ages of events, from Boadicea to Bacon, he was to expound every thing at once palpably to the school-boy, and profoundly to the philosopher. My own opinion, if it may be heard amidst the myriad buzz of criticism, is, that he has wonderfully solved the difficulty of making history at once amusing to the fancy, elevating to the understanding, and interesting to the heart. I scarcely know two volumes from which, considering their depth of thought, the simplest mind will be apt to carry off more instruction, nor from which the most instructed minds, if I may judge of such a mental class, would be likely, considering the manual and popular object of the work, to carry off more sound and pleasant impressions.

* " As to the perfect correctness of the light in which he has exhibited every historical fact, I should exceed my commission, if I were to speak in more than general terms. The axdpxToi vtf of inquisitive discernment seems, to my humble apprehension, always to accompany him in his path as an historian; but to prove, or to disprove, whether that light ever failed him in certain dark periods of English annals, would, for an opinion of any value, require to come from the most experienced English antiquary. It has been objected to him, that he has too frequently put faith in the authority of More, and in that of the chroniclers Hall and Grafton. Those men wrote, it is well known, as the 'very indentured servants' of the Tudor dynasty; and it has been pertinently asked, whether men, stating, by their own confession, that they wrote at the instance of his highness (Henry VIII.), should never omit a displeasing fact, never modify the appearance of an event? Assuredly, the supposition is inadmissible; but then, on the o**"— hand, has Mackintosh really held up More, Grafton, and Hr" irrefragable authorities? Has he not rather sought to sift their

from their misrepresentations P And when the miner cannot find pure metal, can we blame him for putting crude ore into the smelting furnace? Supposing that in utter scepticism he had abandoned those writers, where else was he to seek for informants? And it would surely be rather a sweeping assertion to say, that they are always incredible.

'" When I find him, therefore, in his manual of history, departing from certain historical opinions, which I know he once entertained, I am rather inclined to suspend my judgment on the matter altogether, than for a moment to suspect his latter and changed opinion to have been formed undeliberately. I remember, for instance, that he was once a Walpolite in his faith as to the numerous crimes of the third Richard. I had the pleasure of seeing that monarch personated by Kean, at Drury Lane theatre, in the company of Madame de Stael and my illustrious friend. Sir James spoke at great length on the exaggerations of Richard's traditional character, and I recollect our laughing heartily at what we then conceived to be a true hypothesis started by Walpole; namely, that the bones found in the Tower, and supposed to be those of one of the princes, were really the bones of an old ape who had escaped from the menagerie. Poor fellow! if it was so, how little had he thought, amidst his mops and mows, that he should ever be mistaken for a prince of the blood royal! But Sir James Mackintosh, in his history of that period, comes back again nearer to the Shakspearian idea of Richard's character; and the opinion, whether right or wrong, must have been at least well weighed before he uttered it."' Ann. Biog. pp. 122—24.

From the volume before us, we shall extract a few paragraphs, as specimens of the philosophical spirit, the enlightened sentiment, and the copious information which characterize the history.

'The acts by which the ecclesiastical revolution was accomplished, occupied the whole session of parliament, which continued from January to May .... Some documents purporting to be the speeches of the minority in parliament in these important debates are preserved. But they are considered as spurious or doubtful by the ecclesiastical historians of both parties. Those ascribed to Archbishop Heath, Bishop Scott, and Fcckenham, abbot of Westminster, are summaries of the controversy on the Catholic side, and are not properly within the province of the civil historian. The speech of Lord Montague is more ingenious and seasonable; objecting to the severe penalties, and urging the ordinary arguments from the antiquity and universality of the Catholic Church, only as presumptions of the uncertainty of Protestantism, and as aggravations of the injustice of severely punishing adherents to a faith maintained for so many ages by their fathers.

'The true hinge of the dispute was not touched by either party. The question was, whether the legislature had a right to alter the established and endowed religion, on condition of respecting the estates for life vested by law in certain ecclesiastics. The Protestants as well as the Catholics converted the debate into a theological discussion, because they justified their measures by the truth of their own religious opinions. No one then saw, that the legislature could not, without usurping authority over conscience, consider religion otherwise than as it affected the outward interests of society; which alone were entrusted to their care, and submitted to their rule. Every other view of the subject, however arising from a wish to exalt religion, must in truth tend to degrade and enslave her.

'Of the only two important deviations in the new Book of Common Prayer from the liturgy of Edward VI., the first, consisting in the omission of a prayer to be delivered from the "tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities," manifested a conciliatory temper towards the Roman Church; and the second, instead of the Zwinglian language, which spoke of the sacrament as being only a remembrance of the death of Christ, substituted words indicating some sort of real presence of a body, though not affirming the presence to be corporeal; coinciding with the phraseology of Calvin, which, if any meaning can be ascribed to the terms, might, it should seem, be used by Catholics, not indeed as adequately conveying their doctrine, but

as containing nothing inconsistent with it.

** • • * • *

'When Cecil and Bacon had finally succeeded in overcoming his (Parker's) scruples, the consecration was delayed for some time, in order to take such precautions as might best secure its validity from being impugned. The Church of England then adopted, ana has not yet renounced, the inconsistent and absurd opinion, that the Church of Rome, though idolatrous, is the only channel through which all lawful power of ordaining priests, of consecrating bishops, or validly performing any religious rite, flowed from Christ, through a succession of prelates, down to the latest age of the world. The ministers, therefore, first endeavoured to obtain the concurrence of the Catholic bishops in the consecration; which those prelates, who must have considered such an act as a profanation, conscientiously refused. They were at length obliged to issue a new commission for consecrating Parker, directed to Kitchen of Llandaff, to Ball, an Irish bishop, to Barlow, Scory, and Coverdalc, deprived in the reign of Wary, and to two suffragans. Whoever considers it important at present to examine this list, will perceive the perplexities in which the English Church was involved by a zeal to preserve unbroken the chain of Episcopal succession. On account of this frivolous advantage, that church was led to prefer the common enemy of all reformation to those Protestant communions which had boldly snapped asunder that brittle chain: a striking example of the evil that sometimes arises from the inconsistent respect paid by reformers to ancient establishments.

'Parker, who had been elected on the 1st of August, was finally consecrated on the 17th of December. Four new bishops were consecrated three days after the primate; whose preferment, as they had been exiles for religion in the time of Mary, was a strong and' irrevocable pledge of the queen's early determination to stand or fall with the reformed faith. This politic, as well as generous elevation of faithful adherents and patient sufferers, did not prevent the wise ministers from a general choice which none of their antagonists ventured to impugn. For some time, many of the Roman Catholics, unskilled in theological disputes, continued to frequent their parish churches, regardless of the differences which were to steep Europe in blood.

« ForrigeFortsett »