« ForrigeFortsett »
narrative. Had it only related to the siege of Onore, however interesting that event was to the friends of the gallant officers who so bravely defended it, there might have been many desiderata to render it equally so in a distant country, and at a remote period; but the siege of Onore contains an epitome of human nature; its little history exhibits a striking contrast between national and individual character, actuated by different motives, and pursuing different means—a contrast in which the British officer stands on an exalted pedestal; encircled by courage, honour, fortitude, and humanity; opposed to an oriental tyrant, with a train of fear, distrust, chicanery, and the meaner vices. Thus, eminently favoured, I have enjoyed a peculiar pleasure in collating the preceding pages from the voluminous collection of a gentleman highly respected, who was an eye-witness of what he relates, endued with every requisite qualification for the purpose, and who had compiled a narrative expressly for publication. My own suppressed memoranda at Goa and Tellicherry are of comparatively little consequence, and are abundantly superseded by Dr. F. Buchanan's invaluable publication. But to have been the means of rescuing from oblivion this interesting episode, in the history of the Mahomedan dynasty of Mysore, affords me some satisfaction. I shall conclude the subject with a remark of Tacitus in his life of Agricola, a little altered for the present occasion; which, although the characters alluded to may differ in their respective situations in public life, the general truth of the observation is sufficiently obvious.
"To transmit to posterity the lives and characters of illustrious men, was an office frequently performed in ancient times. In the
present age the same good custom has prevailed whenever a great and splendid virtue has been able to surmount those two pernicious vices, which not only infest small communities, but are likewise the bane of large and flourishing cities; I mean the vices of insensibility to merit, on the one hand, and envy on the other. With regard to the usage of antiquity, it is further observable, that, in those early seasons of virtue, men were led, by the impulse of a generous spirit, to a course of action worthy of being recorded; and, in like manner, the writer of genius undertook to perpetuate the memory of honourable deeds, without any motive of flattery, and without views of private ambition, influenced only by the conscious pleasure of doing justice to departed merit. Many have been their own historians; persuaded that in speaking of themselves they should display an honest confidence in their morals, not a spirit of arrogance or vain-glory; so true it is, that the age which is most fertile in bright examples, is the best qualified to make a fair estimate of them.”