« AnteriorContinuar »
for one or two' might naturally be understood as spoken of persons whom he knew and believed, while, on the other hand, a greater number than
one or two' could hardly speak of such bribes as from their own knowledge.' Lord Clarendon gave an undeserved permanence to a malignant rumour, but he at least circulated the antidote with the poison. By referring to the only witnesses as one or two obscure persons,' he reduced them to the lowest degree in the scale of credibility. To omit such a corrective, and by that omission to allow the unskilful, unwary, or prejudiced reader, to rate these witnesses as bigh as he pleases, is surely a fault which could not be adequately cha, racterized without the use of very harsh language.
These suppressions and variations remind us of an incident once of considerable note in our literary history. About the year 1730, Oldmixon, an historical writer of moderate talent, whose works are not without useful information, charged Bishop Atterbury, Bishop Smallridge, and Dean Aldrich, whom he calls the Oxford editors, with altering and interpolating Clarendon's history. He supported this charge by the testimony of a Colonel Ducket, who was member of parliament for Calne, and a Commissioner of the Customs, and who affirmed that he had heard the fact in the year 1710, from Edmund Smith, the author of Phedra and Hippolitus, a person then celebrated at Oxford for his irregularities and talents. The altered passages, according to his account of Smith's statement, amounted to several hundreds; and among them he mentioned the famous passage in the character of Hampden, 'He had a head to con
trive, a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any mischief.' Atterbury, then in exile, immediately proved the material inaccuracies of Oldmixon's statement; neither he nor his friend Smallridge were at all
concerned in the publication, nor had he ever seen the MS.
Dr Burton, a man celebrated for the elegance of his Latin compositions, undertook a more full confutation of Oldmixon.* The supposed interpolation about Hampden was shown to be in the original MS. Oldmixon accordingly withdrew that charge; and though he adhered to the accusation of general infidelity against the editors, the controversy seemed to be so triumphantly terminated, that, ever since, the accusation has seldom been more mildly mentioned than as a specimen of that eager and malicious credulity, which is nearly akin to intentional falsehood, and productive of all its mischievous effects.
The number of alterations, however, now seems much greater than that spoken of by Smith. In the first book, which, in the new edition, contains a hundred and eighty pages, there are
Genuineness of Lord Clarendon's History vindicated, 1744.
more than six hundred alterations, of which not a few are suspicioys. In the second, in a hundred and thirteen pages, there are nearly three hundred. In the third, which extends to two hundred pages, are near seven hundred-among which is the memorable omission respecting Pym. That Smith was himself employed to make them, is a mistake into which Ducket, at the distance of twenty years, might have honestly fallen. Though the words respecting Hampden be certainly genuine, it is not wonderful that a general rumour of numerous alterations should, in its progress from hand to hand, be at last specifically applied to that passage, then so repugnant to the opinions encouraged by the government, and entertained by the whole nation, except the inferior gentry and clergy. That these mistatements were not intentional, is the more probable, because the mistake of the names of the editors was undoubtedly only a misrecollection. The number and tendency of the alterations actually made by them agree with the accounts which he received. Suppressions may be as faulty as interpolations; and it cannot be doubted, that the suppression of the passages relating to Monk is a greater injury to historical truth than it would have suffered from the interpolation of the sentence against Hampden. For though the memory of Monk was branded with indelible infamy by the demonstration in Mackenzie's Memoirs, that he had betrayed the confidential letters of Argyle, in order to destroy that nobleman; yet
it was not until the present publica tion of the first genuine Clarendon, that we could know the contempt and disgust with which the most illustrious Royalists were compelled, by their own honest feelings, to regard the character of the chief instrument in the Restoration. The supposed addition in the case of Hampden, in truth, told us nothing
Lord Clarendon is the important witness who bears testimony to the commanding genius, the skilful eloquence, the honourable life, and the unparalleled popularity of that great preserver of the liberties of his country. Lord Clarendon, as soon as he ceased to act with Mr Hampden, must have considered or represented his wisdom, eloquence, and valour, as exerted to produce ! mischief.' A head to contrive, a tongue $ to persuade, and a hand to execute,' are the highest qualities of human nature. That they were united by Hampden, we may firmly believe, on the evidence of a competent judge and a determined opponent: while the addition of any mischief,' serves scarcely any other purpose than that of placing in the strongest light that merit which could extort from an enemy, unable to repress his acrimony, such transcendent praise,
It is right to observe, that the University of Oxford had no share in the first publication of Clarendon, and were in no degree answerable for its faults. On the other hand, they have the unalloyed credit of restoring the true text of the noble historian; in this publication, and in that of Burnett, they deserve the gratitude of men of letters for putting into their hands, at a very moderate price, convenient and agreeable, as well as correct and complete, editions of two of the most important works of English history.
It is perhaps needless to add, that we cannot, without some limitations, assent to one remark made by the learned and meritorious editor of this edition. The present collation,' he says, satisfactorily proves, that the noble editors have in no • one instance added, suppressed, or altered any historical fact.' (Advertisement, v.) It is only in the most narrow and literal sense of the words historical fact,' that it is possible to accede to the truth of this remark; and even in that most restricted acceptation, it may well be doubted whether the omission of Monk's treatment of his brother, and of his late concurrence in the Restoration, did not amount to the suppression of historical facts. The omission of the testimony, still extant in Lord Clarendon's handwriting, and evidently intended by him for publication as much as any other words in the history, that the charge of bribery against Pym rested on no better foundation than the assertion of one or two OBSCURE PERSONS,' is undoubtedly a suppression of evidence very blameable in itself, and by no means calculated to inspire confidence in the general good faith of the first editors.
The manuscript from which the first edition was printed, is now in the Bodleian Library; it is referred to by Dr Bandinell as MS. A, and was written in 1699 by Mr Wogan, then Captain of Westminster School; and Mr Low, Secretary to Sprat, who was at that time Bishop of Rochester. Two other MSS. are extant in the sanie Library, in the handwriting of Lord Clarendon; one of his Life, referred to as MS. B, and one of his History, referred to as MS. C. The copy made for the press by Wogan and Low, was not, however, taken from the original MSS. B and C, but from an intermediate MS, written (as it is said) under the superintendence of the noble historian by one Shaw, of whom nothing is known; when, or how, or where it was written, is also unknown to us, Its existence before 1686, when Henry Earl of Clarendon went to Ireland a3 Lord Lieutenant, is ascertained by a memorandum of Archbishop Sancroft, found in the Bodleian Li. brary, describing it, and acknowledging the loan of it to him by that nobleman before his departure. It is no longer to be found; and its fate was unknown eighty years ago, when Dr Burton wrote his Genuineness of Clarendon's History asserted.' He indeed conjectures, that it might have been destroyed in o the fire at the Earl of Rochester's house at New Park, seve• ral years after the publication.' But that house (at Petersham) was burnt on the 1st of October 1721, t ten years after the death of Lawrence, first Earl of Rochester of the family of Hyde, and nearly twenty years after the publication of the History. The MS. A, was seen by Wogan, the copyist, in 1731 and 1735; and, though of no authority, it was preserved, and is still extant in the Bodleian Library, while the transcript by Shaw, which, if really made under the inspection of the author, is of high importance, has altogether disappeared.
The best accounts, however, of the present state of the MS., seem to show that Shaw did no more than insert certain parts of the Life in the History at the places indicated by the author's marks, and that his copy was in all other respects a verbal transcript of the original MS. This inference becomes almost certain, from the recent discovery at Oxford of six sheets, certainly of Shaw's transcript, containing a narrative of Lord Clarendon's reception at Madrid, and agreeing minutely with his original MS, in which the description of the bull-fights is marked to be left out, and a connecting word or two, rendered necessary by that omission, are interlined in the handwriting of Lawrence Earl of Rochester. The description is accordingly omitted in Wogan's copy, and, by consequence, in the first edition. We must therefore presune that Shaw's transcript agreed with the originals still extant, and that the variations in the printed history from them, were also variations from it. The interlineations by Lawrence Earl of Rochester, in a passage where we know an omission to have been made, leaves no ground for any other belief. Nor indeed could it be allowed (if it were otherwise) to supersede their authority, unless we knew something of the transcriber, and had some evidence that his variations (if any such should appear) were authorized by the historian himself. It would be altogether unreasonable to attempt to build any excuse for the sons of the historian, by wholly gratuitous suppositions about the contents of a MS., of which we owe the loss, on the most candid hypothesis, to their not very filial negligence. To us at least, the MSS. in Lord Clarendon's handwriting are now alone of authority. Tried by that standard, the assailants of Oldmixon
+ Lyson's Environs of London, p. 399.
* P. 94.
seem to have been more successful in discovering inaccuracies in his accusation, than in exculpating the original editors of Clarendon. Flaws they did point out; but of any falsehood at once intentional and important, it rather appears that he ought to be acquitted. The general charge against the editors, of not having fairly' printed the History, had indeed been publicly made in the House of Commons about the year 1725, before the publication of Oldmixon, by Sir Joseph Jekyll, a man of very grave authority," and who had the best means of accurate information.
It appears, from the Oxford edition of Burnett, that his sons also used an unwarrantable liberty in suppressing passages of their father's work. All such omissions are of evil example, and deserving severe reprehension. The editors of Burnett, however, appear to have left out only what they thought either discreditable to their father, or needlessly injurious to other persons, and it must be added, to persons of both parties ; for there are suppressions of this nature in the account of Montrose as well as in that of Argyle. But we have not found any instance in which, like the editors of Clarendon in the account of Pym, they have deliberately kept back an important part of the
defence of an opponent charged with an infamous crime.
The characteristic and amusing notes of Warburton, which are a new proof of his familiar acquaintance with the history of the Civil War, are no unimportant appendage to the new edi. tion of Clarendon. He speaks of Henrietta Maria with a bitterness more unsuitable to his own station, than unjust towards that princess. The noble historian tells us with a cautious courtesy, which adds to the zest of the ironical passage which follows that some persons in France were wonderfully fear.ful that the King should make his escape from Carisbrook.' Warburton truly interprets these words as referring to the
Queen, unteilling that the King should interrupt her commerce oth Jermyn. 't We are told by Clarendon, that the Queen was struck to the heart at the report of what the Parliament intended; -on which Warburton observes, . She might well • bes, when she had defeated the only means of preventing * this dreadful catastrophe, by discouraging his rescue out of * Carisbrook Castle, a charge which, considering the motive imputed to her, and the calamitous condition of her affectionate and submissive husband, is perhaps the most heinous ever preferred against a wife In another place, where Clarendon, if