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Great Britain, by the happiest union of all those eminent, and amiable endowments, so conspicuous in your august person, and which are at once the ornament, and support of a Throne.
Those important vicissitudes, so instructire at all times, both to Princes and to Nations, I have endeavoured to elucidate in the work which YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS has condescended to accept, and to permit me to announce under the sanction, and auspices of your illustrious patronage; a condescension the more flattering, from the circumstance of my two first volumes of this History having been previously published, from which I am, encouraged to hope, that the whole may prove not unworthy of YOUR ROYAL HIGHNESS's approbation.
Deeply impressed with a due sense of so dis-, tinguished and honourable mark of your Royal Highness's favour,
With the highest and most respectful regard,
YOUR ROYAL HIGIINESS'S
BERTRAND DE MOLEVILLE.
London, November 1st, 1811.
These last volumes, though written on the same plan as the former, have been materially improved in the execution, owing to the important remarks I have been favoured with by many persons, whom a proper sense of the utility of this work, and a flattering concern for its ultimate success, have induced to assist me with their kind advice. Many of them I have followed ; some few, though very judicious, I could not admit, as they did not agree with my plan, which was, not to write merely a compilation of dry incoherent facts and dates, to be occasionally consulted, and only for references, but a complete, though compressed, History of Great Britain, suf. ficiently interesting and instructive, to be read through without weariness, (which is not the case with president Henault's work, and as accurate as necessary to convey such a competent historical information as the generality of the readers may wish for ; with an exact account of the British Constitution, so as to counteract the pernicious effects of erroneous and inflammatory opinions propagated by some continuators of Hume.
These imprudent writers, mistaking democracy for patriotism, have stated as constitutional principles, republican doctrines and exaggerations, fit only to inculcate a dangerous spirit of faction, particularly in the minds of youth, who, coming from their university still warm with the republican tenets diffused in the Roman classics, are already but too inclined to per
sonate the Roman tribunes, and to assimilate the English senate, to the senate of Rome.
I did not adopt the method of president Henault, of placing at the beginning of each reign a series of columnar pages, exhibiting the names of the princes and princesses of the royal family, of the co-temporary sovereigns of Europe, &c. &c. I thought it suf. ficient to affix to each period a single columnar page, containing only the names of the co-temporary sovereigns, and learned or illustrious men. By this means I have been enabled to compress myabridgment into four volumes, which would have extended to five had I included in the columns all the co-temporary ministers, principal military officers, and magistrates, whose names farther back than a century are little interesting to know, unless they have been rendered conspicuous by eminent virtues, abilities, or services, in either of which cases they are noticed in the course of the history. When it is considered that in president Henault's work, these names, for the three last reigns only, fill no less than 60 columnar pages, I hope I shall be approved rather than censured for not having strictly adhered to his plan in that respect. I have, however, complied as much as in my power with the wishes of my judicious advisers, by adding genealogical tables to each volume, and to the fourth, several columns containing the names of the chancellors, chief justices, and the different administrations which succeeded one another, from the revolution to the year 1763.
As to affixing to each page the quotations of historians or writers therein referred to, I will readily acknowledge that this usual method is by far the most convenient for all cautious diligent readers. But when I considered that the moderate average of the fifteenth part of each page for the references, would swell my work to nearly 150 additional pages, I generally preferred the mode I have intro
duced, except for all facts and circumstances newly discovered, or misrepresented by other historians. In such cases I have quoted my authorities at the end of the paragraph ; this occurs more frequently in the last volumes, as the extensive sources of information I have found in the British Museum, and the zealous assistance I have received from Mr. Planta, the principal librarian of that rich collection, have enabled me to elucidate some parts of the English history hitherto unknown, and to rectify errors of some importance, though adopted by learned and esteemed authors, who, having published historical works previous to the establishment of the British Museum, had not the invaluable resource of consulting its manuscripts. These new-discovered facts and elucidations, introduced for the first time in the History of Great Britain, could not be properly abridged, and on that account, this work has gradually expanded far beyond my original plan, which was to publish only three volumes. With this view I used perhaps too frequently, in the two first volumes, the present tense, in speaking of past transactions, to give more rapidity and concision to the narrative, by avoiding the necessity of connecting incoherent facts with one another, and the prolixity attending it. This way of speaking, when carried too far, has certainly the inconvenience of tiring the reader's attention, and, moreover, as the Critical Review has most properly observed, the transition from the present tense to the past, often produces awkwardness and confusion. This method is however peculiarly adapted to chronological abridg. ments; there is not a page, nay, a single paragraph, in president Henault's work, where the present tense does not predominate.. Among other advantages, he derived from it that of improving his Abridgment of the History of France, in every edition, with no other trouble or alteration than adding in the present tense, to the accounts of the year to which they belonged, the interesting facts and circumstances he had newly discovered. By this means his work, at first published in one volume, was swelled to three of the same size before his death, though in the last edition, as in the preceding ones, there is no reference to any authority.
Determined, as I was, not to advance a single fact the truth of which I could not ascertain by some unexceptionable evidence, it was absolutely necessary to consult a great number of scarce historical books of a very high price, which the narrow circumstances of such a confiscated exile as I am, could not afford me the means to procure; and I was nearly discouraged in my enterprize, when my noble departed friend, the late worthy and deeply regretted Lord Shaftesbury, taking most kindly at heart the progress of this work, supplied me, to the very last day of his life, with all the books I could wish for, out of his valuable library. I am no less indebted to his judicious remarks and personal information, which, in historical and political matters, were much more extensive than could be suspected by any but his most intimate friends, on account of his timidity and of his extreme modesty, an amiable virtue, which would have enhanced all his lordship's other mental accomplishments, had it not too often concealed them.
I take this opportunity of returning my sincere acknowledgments to some other friends who have been so kind as to lend me several books from their choice, though more confined collections. My grateful thanks in that respect are particularly due to colonel H. Eustace, to Mr. Leckie, well known in the political and literary world, and to Mr. Rowland Winburn of Chancery Lane, to whom I never vainly applied either for books or for accurate information. I was the more in need of their