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OPINIONS OF THE PRESS ON
A HISTORY OF OUR OWN TIMÉS.. Miz
By JUSTIN MCCARTHY, M.P.
LIBRARY EDITION. Four Volumes, demy 8vo. 125. each ; POPULAR
EDITION. Four Volumes, crown 8vo. 6s. each.
• Mr. McCarthy has finished the laborious and difficult task which he set before himself.
But to have made his work complete is only a part of the success which Mr. McCarthy has achieved. The first condition which a history of our times must fulfil is, no doubt, that it should be a history of our own times, that it should tell us all we want to know, should tell no more, and should teach everything in the right perspective, so that the due amount of space and importance may be given to each successive event, or group of
The next condition is that it must be fair, that contemporaries should be neither puffed nor maligned, that actions should be fairly interpreted, and that the author, while letting his readers know his opinions, should do justice to the side which he does not adopt. The third condition is that it should be entertaining, that the writer should have a good style and write well throughout, that he should perpetually make himself felt by his readers as being himself and no one else, and yet that he should avoid paradoxes, mere smartness, and the appearance of making epigrams to order. All these conditions Mr. McCarthy has fulfilled. His work is fairly exhaustive; but it cannot be said that it is ever prolix.
Then, it is eminently fair. Mr. McCarthy is temperate, reasonable, and judicious ; his History is eminently entertaining, and his power of entertaining his readers never flags. He never seems to be exhausted, and his fourth volume is perhaps the best of the set. To say that this work is as pleasant and attractive to read as a novel is to pay a great compliment to novels. Almost every page has something in it that is good, because it is at once unexpected and yet not forced. The book is pervaded with a gentle spirit of subdued fun, and yet is never frivolous or comic. Mr. McCarthy has not only the art of storytelling, but makes his narrative sparkle with happy hits, and yet these happy hits do not eclipse the more modest bulk of his story. There are so many bad books which must be criticised severely, that it is refreshing to come across a book which may be freely praised.'-SATURDAY REVIEW.
‘Of modern historians, Mr. Justin McCarthy is among the most eminent. His rise was sudden. Known in literature as a successful novelist, it was not till the appearance of his first two volumes on the reign of Victoria that he obtained rank as a more serious writer. His History at once took the reading world by storm. The buoyancy of his narrative, his powers of picturesque description, his epigrammatic judgment of character, his lucid arrangement of facts, and the clear, fresh manner in which he dealt with his story and gave his opinions, charmed alike the philosophical student as well as the general reader.
The end is as good as the beginning ; there is no falling off, and nothing to tempt invidious criticism.
Mr. McCarthy's History is now finished, and we have no hesitation in saying that it is one of the ablest works that the latter part of this century has produced. It is written with spirit, yet accuracy is not sacrificed for effect ; it is lively without flippancy, and when the occasion calls for sobriety of judgment the author can be judicial without being opinionated, and thoughtful without being dull.'--OBSERVER.
Opinions of the Press.
We have read the volumes throughout with unflagging interest, and have received from their pages an amount of pleasure equal to the enjoyment derivable from the perusal of one of Mr. McCarthy's most stirring and telling novels. Mr. McCarthy has written, in a popular and effective style, an important and useful work.'- MORNING Post.
* Without being any the less readable, this latter half of Mr. McCarthy's work is more dignified and thorough than the previous one. Finding his book accepted as an important historical work, Mr. McCarthy has honestly endeavoured to prove himself a good historian as well as a brilliant novelist and leader-writer.
Whatever the causes, the new volumes show a marked improvement on the old ones, good as those were; and the improvement is all the more notable because the difficulties of the historian are naturally increased the nearer he gets to his own day.
The work is one that Tories can read with almost as much pleasure as Radicals, and in which there is no obtrusion of the author's opinions on Home Rule.'ATHENÆUM.
*Happier than many historians who have marked out for themselves a task of labour and difficulty, Mr. McCarthy has completed his “ History of Our Own Times” within the limits originally intended, and certainly without any unreasonable delay. In the two solid volumes, which form the second and concluding portion of the work, he tells the story of our national life during the last twenty-four years.
If the duty which he has imposed upon himself has, of necessity, become more delicate as the course of the narrative brings us more and more within the heated atmosphere of contemporary politics, the historian has found his recompense in the higher opportunities afforded him for exhibiting the tact and judgment conspicuous in his former volumes. The wide and genuine popularity of his History is a circumstance perhaps without parallel in the case of works of its class.' – DAILY News.
“Mr. McCarthy has executed a very difficult task with no slight success. He has evidently made a very careful and complete survey of the best contemporary authorities, exhibits an impartial, almost judicial tone throughout, and writes with an unaffected vigour and simple direct picturesqueness which are decidedly attractive.
The work will, we have no doubt, speedily become essential to every good library.'-NONCONFORMIST.
*We can hardly conceive that any one out of all the thousands of Mr. McCarthy's readers has ever felt otherwise than delighted at the interesting, brilliant, and thoroughly fair and judicial way in which he has narrated the history which he set himself to record. We may at once state that the last two volumes are worthy to read with the first two. They are as careful, as fascinating, as interesting as the first ; in no single point falling short of the high level which the author attained in the moiety which he gave us eighteen months ago. In short we will confirm that Mr. McCarthy is novelist, essayist, politician, moralist, and historian at one and the same time. He has provided us in these magnificent volumes with writing which is as charming as any English writer of our day has given us, with a story which possesses often the intense interest of fiction, with reflections worthy of the profoundest moralist or most eloquent religious teacher. We have no hesitation in saying that these four volumes are in every respect worthy to take their place beside those splendid volumes of Macaulay's History which, in our own judgment, marked by their publication an epoch in historical literature, and gave a new spirit and character to historical writing.'--LITERARY WORLD.
London : CHATTO & WINDUS, Piccadilly, W.