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Art. II.-The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in
England, to which is added an Historical View of the Affairs of Ireland. By EDWARD EARL OF CLARENDON. A new Edition, exhibiting a faithful Collation of the original MS. ; with all the suppressed Passages; also the unpublished Notes of Bishop Warburton. Oxford, at the Clarendon Press. Reprinted by Wells & Lilly, Boston.
We shall make no apology for the few remarks we have to offer, on the appearance of the first American edition of The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars. The demand for books of this description is one of the best proofs of the progress of good taste, and the spirit of inquiry. It is in the works of contemporary writers that true history is to be found; and this of Lord Clarendon is most valuable of its kind; whether we consider the importance of the events treated of, their peculiar relation to the early history of our own country, or the character and talents of the historian. That it has great faults is admitted ; but in the very admission is implied no small compliment to the author, since, in spite of them, it is universally acknowledged to be one of the noblest works in our language.
* His diction,' says Johnson, 'is neither exact, nor in itself suited to the purpose of history. It is the effusion of a mind crowded with ideas, and desirous of imparting them; and therefore always accumulating words, and involving one clause and sentence in another. But there is in his negligence a rude, inartificial majesty, which, without the nicety of labored elegance, swells the mind by its plenitude and diffusion. His narration is not perhaps sufficiently rapid, being stopped too frequently by particularities, which, though they might strike the author who was present at the transactions, will not equally detain the attention of posterity. But his ignorance or carelessness of the art of writing, is amply compensated by his knowledge of nature and of policy; the wisdom of his maxims, the justness of his reasonings, and the variety, distinctness, and strength of his characters.'
However we may be disposed to agree in the truth of these remarks, there are serious defects in Lord Clarendon's History, as we shall presently show, which the political bias of Johnson led him to overlook. The particularities,' which he thinks objectionable, do not appear so to us, excepting perhaps in a few instances. On the contrary, one of the great charms of the
history, consists in the vivacity, and even humor, with which this great man dilates on the personal adventures of himself and his friends. The object of history,' says Voltaire, is the human mind;' and if the work before us be examined by this standard, it will be found that these episodes are full of the most useful as well as delightful matter. We see in them, not only the hearts of other men, but that of the historian himself, laid open to our view. What true lover of history would willingly give up any part of the spirited account of the surrender of Colchester, or of the truly romantic siege and capture of Pontefract Castle, or the curious details of the exiled Charles's little court, where many a politician may read his own character, and many a family its own history? Still more highly do we value those effusions of tenderness which the author pours out, whenever he has occasion to deplore the loss of a friend in the contests of that dreadful period. His description of the character and death of Lord Falkland is not surpassed in any language. Never did a friend more faithfully fulfil the duties of friendship, and never was a character more deserving of such devotion. Led on by his feelings, the historian runs out into many little details and anecdotes, which at once illustrate the character he is describing, and do honor to the goodness of his own heart. The reader, yielding to the irresistible force of genius, is carried back to the time and place of action. He sees Lord Falkland in the House of Commons, urging with all the eloquence of conviction the cause of conciliation. When it is resolved to decide the contest by arms, he seems to watch his manly form, wasting with anxiety and distress for the fate of his country; he hears his perpetual and mournful ejaculation of Peace, Peace. He marks the alacrity with which he prepares for the fatal battle, goes with him to the field, sees him fall before his eyes; and for the moment forgets, even the cause he espoused, in sympathy with his fate. It
may be worth while to stop for a moment to compare this character with that of Hambden, an equally great and virtuous man of the opposite party, as drawn by the same hand. It is curious in this latter character, to observe the force of prejudice contending in the mind of the historian with a sense of justice and the love of truth. Dr Warburton truly observes, in a note on the character of Hambden, that while the author applies to him in conclusion what was said of Cinna, that he had a head to contrive, a tongue to persuade, and a hand to execute any VOL. XXVII.-NO. 61.
mischief,' every line shows that the historian believed him to be a man of honor and virtue, acting on wrong principles. There is a singular train of resemblance running through the fortunes and characters of these two interesting and ill-fated individuals. They were both distinguished by birth and fortune ; Lord Falkland being allied to the greatest names in the kingdom ; and Hambden, as Lord Clarendon tells us, of an ancient family and fair estate in the county of Buckingham. They were both men of great bravery and accomplishments, distinguished talents, and most winning address. They were both remarkable for a certain frankness and openness of demeanor, as well towards those they despised, as those they esteemned. What is said of Lord Falkland in this particular, is also true of Hambden, as appears from his well known course of conduct. Of the former the following characteristic anecdote is related by lord Clarendon.
The truth is, as he was of a most incomparable gentleness, application, and even a demissness and submission to good, and worthy, and entire men; so he was naturally (which could not but be more evident in his place, which objected him to another conversation and intermixture than his own election had done) adversus malos injucundus ; and was so ill a dissembler of his dislike and disinclination to ill men, that it was not possible for such not to discern it. There was once, in the House of Commons, such a declared acceptation of the good service an eminent member had done to them, and, as it was said, to the whole kingdom, that it was moved, he being present, " that the speaker might, in the name of the whole House, give him thanks;
» vi and then, that every
member might, as a testimony of his particular acknowledgment, stir or move his hat towards him;" the which (though not ordered) when very many did, the Lord Falkland (who believed the service itself not to be of that moment, and that an honorable and generous person could not have stooped to it for any recompense), instead of moving his hat, stretched both his arms out, and clasped his hands together upon the crown of his hat, and held it close down to his head ; that all men might see how odious that flattery was to him, and the very approbation of the person, though at that time most popular.'
To pursue the comparison; the difference between them in political opinions is by no means so great, as the circumstance of their both meeting death, the one in the king's army, the other in that of the parliament, would seem to indicate. In this, as in every other revolution, the shades of difference in opinion are as various as the characters of individuals. In the early part of the long parliament, as in the preceding one, Hambden was remarkable for mildness and moderation. This, of course, is imputed by different writers to different motives. That he was sincere, may be inferred from the evidence of Lord Clarendon himself, who says, that after he was among those members accused by the king of high treason, he was much altered, his nature and carriage seeming much fiercer than it did before.' This the historian sets down to deliberate design, and his former dispassionate conduct, to observation that the season was not ripe, rather than that he approved the moderation. An unprejudiced writer would have adopted the obvious solution, that the absurd conduct of the king in the impeachment of the five members, satisfied Hambden, as well as every other clearsighted man, that the die was cast, and that either the king or themselves must be reduced by force. As Hambden in the first stages of the dispute, excited the distrust of his party by attempting, to use lord Clarendon's expression, to moderate and soften the violent and distempered humors,' so the Lord Falkland, as the same historian tells us, by some sharp expressions he used against the archbishop of Canterbury, and his concurring in the first bill to take away the votes of the bishops in the House of Peers, gave occasion to some to believe, and opportunity to others to conclude, that he was no friend to the church and the established government.' He further says, The great opinion he had of the uprightness and integrity of those persons who appeared most active, especially of Hambden, kept him from suspecting any design against the peace of the kingdom, and though he differed from them commonly in conclusion, he believed long their purposes were honest.' It is worth observing upon how slight a difference in the outset these two disinterested lovers of their country were driven to take arms against each other; and to complete the parallel between them, if any thing were wanting to add to the horrors of civil war, it is the reflection that two such men, formed to esteem and respect each other, to walk hand in hand in a noble emulation for the good of their country and the happiness of mankind, should each have fallen in arms against his own countrymen, in a petty skirmish, and by an unknown hand. The fate of Hambden is thus related by lord Clarendon in describing the engagement of Chalgrave Field.
* And one of the prisoners who had been taken in the action said, “ he was confident Mr Hambden was hurt, for he saw him ride off the field before the action was done, which he never used to do, and with his head hanging down, and resting his hands upon the neck of his horse ;' by which he concluded he was hurt. But the news of the next day made the victory much more important than it was thought to have been. There was full information brought of the great loss the enemy had sustained in their quarters, by which three or four regiments were utterly broken and lost. The names of many officers, of the best account, were known, who were either killed upon the place, or so hurt as there remained little hope of their recovery; of which Mr Hambden was one, who would not stay that morning till his own regiment came up, but put himself a volunteer in the head of those troops who were upon their march, and was the principal cause of their precipitation, contrary to his natural temper, which, though full of courage, was usually very wary ; but now carried on by his fate, he would by no means expect the general's coming up; and he was of that universal authority, that no officer paused in obeying him. And so, in the first charge, he received a pistol shot in the shoulder, which broke the bone, and put him to great torture ; and after he had endured it about three weeks or less time, he died to the most universal grief of parliament that they could have received from any accident.
The death of Lord Falkland, in an action near Glocester, occurred shortly afterwards, in the same year.
'In the morning before the battle,' says Lord Clarendon, 'as always upon action, he was very cheerful, and put himself in the first rank of the Lord Byron's regiment, who was then advancing upon the enemy, who had lined the hedges on both sides with musketeers ; from whence he was shot with a musket in the lower part of the belly, and in the instant falling from his horse, his body was not found till the next morning, till when there was some hope he might have been a prisoner ; though his nearest friends, who knew his temper, received small comfort from that imagination. Thus fell that incomparable young man, in the four and thirtieth year of his age, having so much despatched the business of life, that the oldest rarely attain to that immense knowledge, and the youngest enter not into the world with more innocence. Whosoever leads such a life, need not care upon how short warning it be taken from him.'
Our regret at the untimely fall of Falkland and Hambden is lessened, when we call to mind, that the former was spared the disgrace and ruin which overwhelmed his party; while the latter was taken away before those clouds arose, which soon after veiled the hopes of the friends of liberty. What effects