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THREE recent Histories are on our table-each of them peculiar and remarkable, each bearing within itself and in the public mind, the promise of not being soon forgotten. Two of them are by Americans, who do honor to their birthrightthe third is by an Englishman, whom we may rightly claim for our own, on account of his affinity with our free democratic spirit, and because, moreover, our country has given to his works a broader and warmer home, than they have found in their native Britain.

These three works might, without much forcing, be regarded as forming a Trilogy, representing the three great Dramas in Modern History. The first is a good representative of what has well been called the beginning of Modern History; the era when the chaotic elements of feudal strifes submitted to the creative spirit of national order, the powers of warring nobles were subjected to kingly rule, individual nations consolidated, and that system of international relations begun, which under the name of the balance of power, has continued to this day. No names deserve to characterize this era, so much as those of Ferdinand and Isabella. No mind was so efficient as Isabella's in quelling the strifes in a kingdom and bringing every refractory power into subjection to the sovereign sway. No genius was so subtle and far reaching as Ferdinand's in the intrigues and enterprises of that system of international politics, which sprung up in his day.

The second of these works, (Bancroft's United States,) relates the colonization of North-America, the course of European enterprise in the new world, the beginning of Colonial government, and is in future volumes to trace fully the rise and progress of our free institutions. In this period, we may see especially manifested the power of individual enterprise, and a race of men, "by dividing ocean kept apart," enslaved neither by nobles or king, rising gradually to self-reliance and to that self-government, which is perfect freedom.

In the third work, (Carlyle's,) we may see a portraiture of the death-struggle between the governments of the Old World, and that democratic spirit which was kindled partly by the example of America, and partly by the oppressions of aristocracy and the corruptions of government and social life in Europe.

In the first work we behold the victory of royal power over the feudal aristocracy. In the second we see the emancipation of the people in a new world. In the third we may contemplate the effect of the new born giant democracy in its struggle with the remnants of tyranny, whether of Monarch or noble in the old world.

The first Drama seems almost complete, and the feudal power of the nobles to have received its death blow throughout the civilized world. But the curtain yet veils from us the last acts of the two other Dramas. What shall be the fate of our boasted free institutions in this land of their birth-what shall be their effect upon the governments of the old world-remains in an obscurity, which time alone can reveal to us, and which the eye of the All-Seeing alone knows.

A comparison might be instituted between these three periods in respect to Religion, Literature and the Arts, as well as in Government, but without attempting this, we pass on, and will merely give a hasty critical notice of each of the three histories in question.

William H. Prescott. In three Volumes. Boston, 1838.


Looking at these three elegant volumes as they laid on the bookseller's counter, we were almost disposed to quarrel with the author for writing so long a book on such a subject, and tempting us to read more upon a single reign, than we can afford to do consistently with our general plan. We knew indeed, that the subject had some interest, and that the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella was an era in the history of Spain.

We knew too (for is it not written in the Child's Geography,) that it was Isabella, who was the first and last friend of Columbus, and that to her patronage, we owe the discovery of America. Still we were reluctant to go through three octavoes about these two monarch's, especially in this season of interesting books. But seduced by the beautiful page and by friendly advisings, we made the attempt. Instead of repining at the length of the book, we were unwilling to attend to any thing else until we had devoured the last page of the last vol


It may be on account of our peculiar ignorance, but surely it seems wonderful, that so little should be known of this most interesting epoch in history. Momentous events without number crowd these pages. The submission of feudal clans to sovereign sway, the beginning of true national order and international relations, the era of the application of the great modern inventions to the arts of life, the age of Columbus and Ximenes and Gonsalvo, the era of the Conquest of Granada, and of the most famous Italian wars and of famous intrigues between European potentates-all these circumstances mark the reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, as second in interest to no other similar period of history.

These monarchs themselves are among the world's truly great personages. Ferdinand was a politician on the grandest scale, able to outwit every other sovereign in intrigue, as well as conquer every enemy in battle. Isabella was the exemplar of a Queen-a greater than Elizabeth. With a warrior's energy and all a woman's gentleness, with ardent affections and with a purity beyond even the breath of reproach, with inflexible attachment to her plans of government and determination to carry them into effect against all opposition, whether from nobles or populace, and yet with the tenderest regard for the welfare of her subjects, she stands among the highest of her sex. The establishment of the Inquisition was indeed a blemish upon her character. But it came from the excess of a virtue. Religion, sincere and generally consistent, was the strongest feature in her character; and her own wish to convert the Heathen and the influence of her Confessors induced her to try even by force to convert the Jews and Moors, and to extend to them the cruel alternative of exile or baptism. Her fault in this was the fault of her age, even of its purest minds, at least in Catholic countries.

Mr Prescott's work is remarkable for many things-for the difficulties (loss of eye-sight,) under which it was begun-for the singular amount of new materials, which it embodies, and

for the clear classic style in which it is written. Reading the text alone, one can enjoy a clear, fascinating narrative, that has the interest of romance, mingled with political and philosophical reflections, that, to a right mind, have an interest far higher than romance. Reading the notes in connection, one finds before him an amount of rare and valuable learning, that may well raise his admiration of the author's industry, and rebuke his own idleness.

This is a charming way of writing books-this way of putting all the erudite references and less important digressions in the notes. It reminds one of sailing along a pleasant and well cleared river-the stream clearly flowing-here and there a pleasant island, that instead of interrupting the river's course, serves to beautify it, and stately trees growing on the margin, which would be snags if placed in the current.

Mr. Prescott's style partakes something of his subject. It has something of a Castilian dignity, but without any of its stiffness. A manly noble sense of right and, reverence for the higher nature of man, and a vindication of free principles, renders his work ennobling as well as instructive. We rejoice for him and our native literature, that a second edition is in press.


By George Bancroft. Boston. 1837. Volume Second.

Here we have promise of a history worthy the subject-a work of which our nation may be proud, and in which mankind ought to rejoice. Here our nation has found a fit chronicler, and humanity a true and able friend.

Coleridge divides history into three kinds--the mere chronicle-the history written in reference to a vindication of some particular form of government-and lastly, the philosophical history, that looks at the course of events, as manifesting the great principles of human nature. Mr. Bancroft's work has the excellence of both the latter classes. It is a history of the United States, and of our free institutions, while at the same time, it is written in a spirit that is not narrowed down to any one country or government, but which is as wide and generous as the elements of humanity itself. We challenge the whole realm of history to produce more eloquent writing and noble thought, than is to be found in some passages of his work. Take the chapter on the Quakers, especially that part of it which contains the comparison between William Penn and John Locke. Why not extract this sometime for the

edification of your readers? You cannot give them any thing better.

Mr. Bancroft is a thorough democrat, and we like him all the better for that. He is not one of those grovelling, dirty, democrats, who, having no faith in any thing but flesh and dust, place all criterion of right in the arbitrary will of the many. He believes there is a spirit in man, and that the inspiration of the Almighty has given him understanding, and that the voice of the people, when fully and seriously uttered, is the voice of universal reason--the voice of God. He derides Atheism as the metaphysician's folly, of which indeed the people may for a while be the dupe, but which the real heart of humanity abhors, and will ere long crush.

Mr. Bancroft is something of a political partisan, and has lately received a goodly reward for his zeal, in the shape of the Collectorship of Boston. We earnestly hope, that he will not allow himself to be engrossed by party politics, nor "give to party what was meant for mankind." Already he has in some instances, published electioneering addresses, in which his principles, that are so noble, when stated in his history, have received such a local application, as to take that one fatal step from the sublime to the ridiculous. However, he writes the best party papers, and if forced to read any, we should prefer his. We hope, that his principles will do something to elevate his party, and all parties; but the fear is, that party politics will sink him to their own level. He certainly deserves the praise of having advocated, consistently and eloquently, the noblest ideas of democracy extant, excepting always, those of Dr. Channing. His success, and growing fame, show how much better the lot of him who attaches himself to great principles is, than of those time-servers, no matter what may be their talent, who, devoid of fixed principles, are ever looking this way and that way for hints to guide them in their expedients, and sooner or later falling into that insignificance which their imbecility merits.

We trust that Bancroft will finish his work as well as he has begun, and that when he touches upon the times connected with present politics, he may strive to be true and impartial, as if standing on holy ground, and with the words of prayer on his lips.

III. THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. By Thomas Carlyle Three Volumes in Two. Boston. 1838.

What the world will make of this strangest of all books, remains yet to be seen. Many call its "stuff" "a dose," &c., and other many extol it to the skies.

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