yoke, and undergone more fickle fortunes than perhaps any city of Europe, should nevertheless have offered the most obstinate resistence to the revolutionary party, and have made almost the only noble stand against anarchy and atheism. We may here add, that the account of the subversion of the Roman government in Botta, is also singularly partial and false; among the rest, nothing can be more palpably fictitious, than his description of General Duphot's mingling with the rioters, and charging the Papal troops sword in hand. From a passage in his first volume, where he represents the Romans flying from their city and blocking up in their flight towards the south the Flaminian gate (which, every one else knows opens to the north) we conjecture, that Mr. Botta has never been in Rome; indeed his acquaintance with the south of Italy seems as scanty, as his knowledge of the north of it is accurate and full. But of the events of Naples and the south we have had opportunities of knowing enough; it is with respect to the Cisalpine republic that we needed information, and the public must be indebted to Mr. Botta for the various and interesting matters which he has collected on this subject.

[ocr errors]

Original Letters, illustrative of English History; including numerous

Royal Letters: from Autographs in the British Museum, and one
or two other Collections. With Notes and Illustrations. By Henry
Ellis, Esq. F.R.S. Sec. S.A. Keeper of the MSS. in the British
Museum. 3 vols. 8vo. London. Harding and Co. 1824.

If there be one species of publication more intrinsically and absolutely valuable than another, it is of the character of that which is here submitted to our critical examen. The editor, in the discharge of his office, has fulfilled a double duty: he has shewn himself worthy of the trust reposed in him, and of the documents committed to his inspection. We are abundantly convinced that situations, such as that filled by Mr. Ellis, are best filled when they are made subservient to the general interests of literature; and we are also as fully satisfied, that, in the execution of such a tas':, the reputation as well as the feelings of the editor are best promoted and consulted. The dogged detail of minute cataloguing and registering—the hasty inspection of heterogeneous materials, to satisfy the caprice or ignorance of the general applicant--are not

[ocr errors]

the objects which can'most gratify the learned and intelligent persons who now fortunately fill the leading offices of the British Museum. Literature is best satisfied, when the materials which elucidate the history of the country, which bring to light unknown characters, or display the unsophisticated features of characters hitherto misconceived, are fairly and fully brought from the confused and chaotic state in which they have been previously suffered to slumber. Such materials, as they have been the property of past times, so will they be the property of posterity.

When we consider how great and of what value are the contents of the British MUSEUM—with reference solely to Literature, History, and Religion ; we cannot be surprised at the intrinsic worth of those publications which have owed their existence and importance chiefly to this source: and gratifying as is the present publication, our chief gratification in it is the hope that it will be the precursor of many more of a similar complexion--as well by Mr. Ellis as by his able co-operators. The appetite of the age for such performances is keen.

Literary and historical antiquarianism are as ripe, as (if we may so speak) picturesque antiquarianism. The English public begin to like an old record and an old chronicle as well as an old church and an old castle. A love of truth, or at least of examining with one's own eyes, is thus engendered; and the result often thus proves as instructive as it is unexpected. Doubtless' we are not, in consequence, so much disposed to pull off our hats with such deference as we were used to do, to Rapin, Carte, Hume and others; but we enjoy the more substantial gratification of having come nearer to the truth, if not obtained the truth itself. The chace may be often severe; but if we find and kill, who will grudge the toil?

The volumes before us are of the commodious form of crown octayo, each pretty nearly of the same thickness, and the whole very neatly and accurately printed. Perhaps the short, introductory notes of the editor, may be printed in too small a letter for tried and aged eyes ; but, for ourselves, we are well pleased with the entire typographical picture of these volumes. To each, a copper plate embellishment is prefixed. To the first are two very small figures, taken from Henry the VIIIth's "own psalter, preserved in the Royal Library of MSS. in the British Museum.” One figure is of Henry himself

, sitting, and playing on a harp: the other, of Will Somers his jester. We are surprised that it did not strike Mr. Ellis that this figure was, in all probability, intended (from the known and insufferable vanity of Henry) for that of King David; or rather, we

should say, (as the countenance is palpably that of Henry,) the monarch wished to be delineated in the attitude and occupation in which David is usually seen: besides, the harp was not the domestic musical instrument of the beginning or middle of the sixteenth century. The embellishment is doubtless very curious and interesting. To the second volume is prefixed a “ Fac Simile of the plan in Lord Burghley's hand, for the arrangement of the trial of the Queen of Scots." To the third volume (perhaps the most interesting of the three) " seal and signature to the carte-blanche which Prince Charles sent to the Parliament to save his father's life.” To the left is the seal, to the right is Charles P. The upper part, of course, is blank.

For the intrinsic matter, these volumes contain a selection of letters from the time of Henry V. to the reign of George II. inclusive. The first volume concludes at the year 1529: the second, about the time of the trial of Mary Queen of Scots; and the third, with a letter of the Chevalier St. George to his consort, the princess Clementina, upon her declaring her intention of separating from him.” The work is dedicated to the king : in loyal and grateful language. The preface is short and sensible. - We extract the second and third sentences; fully agreeing to the truths which they contain.

[ocr errors][merged small]

“ History, confined to the greater events which it records, is usually certain and true: but in the colouring which writers give it, and which they are proud to call the philosophy of history, it is too frequently erroneous. Characters are drawn by those who could not know the persons they describe : facts are imperceptibly perverted to the uses of

party : and events which owe their origin to the simplest, are often traced back to the remotest causes. Thus circumstanced, History, however comprehensive in its view, partakes too much of the embellished nature of Romance.

“ To remove doubts, to verify facts, and to form a clear conception of particular events, the reader must seek subsidiary aid, in the dispersed materials of History; of which, ORIGINAL LETTERS of EMINENT PERSONS IN THE STATE form both the largest and the most important portion : and they exist in this country, in an uninterrupted succession, for more than five centuries."

The conclusion is as follows:

** The Editor has been desirous of producing a Work, which, while it exhibited within reasonable limits a series of historical Pictures, might be considered as A SUPPLEMENT TO OUR HISTORIES. To render it more acceptable, he has, here and there, prefixed Introductions to particular Letters, in which numerous traits and minute anecdotes bearing upon detached topics of history have been compacted and con

densed. In the execution of this design the illustration of historical truth has been his sole object:' and he believes it will be found that these Introductions, as well as the Letters themselves, throw new light on various passages of our History,

“ Many Readers, it is probable, will think the earlier part of the Series of Letters here presented, of a forbidding aspect, on account of the uncouthness of the language. But to have modernized these Letters would have answered no purpose of utility: it would have been like destroying the external character of an ancient mansion. Such words in them as are really obscure or obsolete, have been explained in glossarial notes."

Now we confess ourselves among those“ many

readers" who not only wish these letters had been spelt in the modernized mode of orthography, but who think Mr. Ellis's reasons, for the retention of the ancient mode, not quite obvious or satisfactory. We therefore say, that to " have modernized these letters would have answered every purpose of utility." Nor is the simile respecting the ancient mansion perfectly in point. He who chuses to reside in an ancient mansion, with its architectural characteristics, would doubtless be guilty of a gross error in modernizing any of its exterior portion : but he must contract or alter the chimney pieces, block up many cupboards, paper

the rooms, turn a stair-case or two: in short, he may preserve the general character of ancient architecture, and yet metamorphose much of its interior arrangement. At any rate, the whole is a matter of choice. But, in presenting us with a work of ancient orthography, we are here compelled to understand and read it, or to set it aside as a sealed book. And, after all, what is virtually gained by the adoption of the ancient mode of spelling ? Not one idea : not even any peculiar trait of character or mode of expression. Thus; Henry the Fifth's letter, (vol. i. p. 1.) begins in the following manner: "Furthermore I wold that ye comend with my brothre, with the chanceller, with my cosin of Northumberlond, and my cosin of Westmerland, and that ye set a gode ordinance for my North Marches, and speciály for the Duc of Orlians, and for alle the remanant of my prisoners of France, and also for the K. of Scotelond; for as I am secrely enfourmed by a man of ryght notable estate in this lond that there hath ben a man of the Ducs of Orliance in Scotland, &c.". Now, requesting the reader to notice, in the first place, the discrepaney between the two methods of spelling “ Orleans," we beg leave to ask any man of sense and impartiality, Mr. Ellis himself, whether the foregoing would not have been equally valuable, as well as more intelligible, if it had been given to the public thus--" Furthermore, I would that ye communed with my brother, with the chancellor, with my cousin of Northumberland, and my cousin of Westmorland, and that ye set a good ordinance for my North Marches, and specially for the Duke of Orleans, &c.

Now we do not pretend to say that this is a very interesting, but it happens to be the first and most ancient letter in the collection: and therefore, we present it to the reader. But, a century later, as little consistency appears in the spelling of the times; and as it is a matter much at heart with us to make our readers acquainted with some very interesting facts disclosed in this publication, we shall lay before them the letter of "Queen" Catherine to King Henry VIII. after the battle of Flodden Field, A.D. 1513.

" SIR,

* My Lord Howard hath sent me a letter open to your Grace, within one of mine, by the which ye shall see at length the great victory that our Lord hath sent your subjects in your absence : and for this cause it is no need herein to trouble your Grace with long writing, but, to my thinking, this battle hath be to your Grace and asi your realm, the greatest honour that could be, and more than


should win all the crown of France; thanked be God of it: and I am sure your Grace forgetteth not to do this, which shall be cause to send you many mo such great victories; as I trust he shall do. My husband, for hastiness, w'. Rougecroix I could not send your Grace the PIECE OF THE KING OF SCOTTS COAT which John Glyn now bringeth. In this your Grace shall see how I can keep my promise, sending you for your banners a KING's Coat. I thought to send HIMSELF unto you, but our Englishmen's hearts would not suffer it *. It should have been better for him to have been in peace than have this reward. All that God sendeth is for the best. My Lord of Surrey, my Henry, would fain know your pleasure in the burying of the King of Scott's body, for he hath written to me so. With the next messenger, your Grace's pleasure may be herein known. And with this I make an end : praying God to send you home shortly, for without this no joy here can be accomplished; and for the same I pray, and now go to our Lady at Walsingham that I promised so long ago to see. Åt Woburn, the xvi. day of September.

“I send your Grace herein a bill, found in a Scottishman's purse, of such things as the French King sent to the said King of Scotts to make warre against you, beseeching you to send Matthew hither as soon [as] this Messenger cometh to bring me tidings from your Grace. Your humble Wife and true Servant,


*We could not resist putting a word or two, of this very curious letter, into capitals. The short sentence from which this Note springs, has the point and power of Tacitus.

« ͹˹Թõ