« ForrigeFortsæt »
this plan, Dr. A. has compressed a surprizing extent of matter into a very moderate compass, confining himself in general to a brief statement of facts, and entering very rarely into the field of political conjecture. Each year has its separate chapter, and each volume opens with a very clear and comprehensive table of contents: but we cannot help regretting that an index was not added, in a case in which the variety of the information is so great, and the thread of the narrative is often suspended on account of a strict adherence to chronological order.
The first volume comprizes thirty-four years, viz. from 1760 to 1794, and the second contains the still more important transactions of the twenty-one years that elapsed from 1794 to 1815. It is needless to lay before our readers extracts from a work which treats of events so fresh in the memory of most of them, and which seldom if ever aims at arresting their attention by novelty as to facts or brilliancy of style. It is sufficient to say that the language is clear and unassuming, and that the statements of circumstances and transactions are, in general, correct. When the case happens to be otherwise, it is evidently owing not to prejudice and still less to intention on the part of the writer, but to some accidental defect in his materials, or to the haste with which publications for a temporary purpose are too frequently prepared. It is thus only that we can explain a number of typographical errors, such as (vol. i. p. 302.) Herbert for Hebert; the 17th for 18th of March (1793) as the date of the battle of Neerwinden; the 28th for the 29th of July (1794) as the date of the fall of Robespierre; and, which is more extraordinary than any, the death of George II. (vol. i. p. 1.) in the 24th instead of the 34th year of his reign. These blemishes, however, will soon receive the indulgence of the reader, when he turns to any particular passage where the capacity or the impartiality of the writer is put to the test; such, for example, as that much disputed point, the interior state of France in the spring of 1815, at the date of Bonaparte's return from Elba. We have had opportunities of ascertaining, from the most satisfactory sources, the nature of the public feeling at the time in question, and nothing can be more clear and correct than Dr. Ai's observations on the subject. They are divested of all that high colouring which is so lavishly brought forwards by writers who will attribute that extraordinary change to an extraordinary cause; and who can explain it no otherwise than by supposing some egregious mismanagement on the part of the Bourbons, and the existence of a grand conspiracy in favour of Bonaparte.“ Many other parts of the book are marked by equal claims to our attention, and we conclude our short report by extracting a few sentences explanatory of the author's reasons for avoiding those conjectures relative to the private history of cabinets, of which many of his literary brethren are so much enamoured.
Were it possible to attain more certainty with respect to such topics than can come within the reach of a private person, what, in general, would be gained, except a nearer insight into a drama of lite representing the play of ordinary motives upon ordinary minds REV. June, 1817.
- a view