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that had been so long engendering. He then spoke of him to every body, as “that insolent fellow,” who would not let him have a voice at his own council-board; and he sought his ruin with such eager avidity, that every one, who was not seen to promote the same end, was openly discountenanced and marked as an enemy. That while the chancellor was so great, there was no liberty to propose any remedy to what was amiss, nor room to bring any measure about forthe good of the kingdom, was a complaint universally urged against Clarendon.
Whilst the chancellor, by his lofty bearing, thus gave general and deep-rooted offence, he does not appear to have been in another respect sufficiently careful to fortify himself against the malice of those who sought his destruction. It was the opinion even of unprejudiced persons at the time, that of the numerous charges brought against Clarendon, two, but no more, were capable of being substantiated ;-one, that he had taken money for several bargains that had been made with the crown, of which one instance was particularly specified ; and next, that he had uttered before the king, and others, words calculated to breed in his majesty an ill opinion of parliament—that they were factious, and so forth. The notes of Mr. Pepys, to which we owe these new lights upon the characters of Clarendon and of his contemporaries, furnish us with a curious instance of that minister’s grasping propensities. The narrative is highly characteristic of all the persons concerned. Lord Sandwich, to whom Mr. Pepys was a kind of humble friend, had sent for that gentleman, to have some conversation with him:
“ He did begin a most solemn profession of the same love and confidence in me that he ever had, and then told me what a misfortune fallen upon him and me; in me, by a displeasure which my Lord Chancellor did shew to him last night against me, in the highest and most passionate manner that ever man did speak, &c. And what should the business be, but that I should be forward to ve the trees in Clarendon Park marked and cut down; when, God knows! I am the most innocent man in the world in it, and did nothing of myself, but barely obeyed my Lord Treasurer's warrant for the doing thereof. And said that I did most ungentlemanly-like with him, and had justified the rogues in cutting down a tree of his; and that I had sent the veriest fanatique that is in England, on purpose to nose him. All which, I did assure my Lord, was most properly false, and nothing like it true. My Lord do seem most nearly affected ; partly, I believe, for me, and partly for himself. So he advised me to wait presently upon my Lord, and clear myself in the most perfect manner I can, with all submission and assurance, that I am his creature, both in this and all other things; and that I do own, that all I have is derived through my Lord Sandwich from his lordship. So, full of horror, I went and found him busy in trials of law, in his great room; and, it being sitting day, durst not stay; but went to my Lord, and told
him so ; whereupon he directed me to take him after dinner; and so away I home, leaving my lord mightily concerned for me. So I to my Lord Chancellor's, and there coming out, after dinner, I accosted him, telling him that I was the unhappy Pepys that had fallen into his high displeasure, and came to desire him to give me leave to make myself better understood to his lordship, assuring him of my duty and service. He answered me very pleasingly, that he was confident on the score of Lord Sandwich's character of me, &c. After all done, he himself called, “ Come, Mr. Pepys, you and I will take a turn in the garden.” So he was led down stairs, having the gout, and there walked with me, I think, above an hour, talking most friendly yet most cunningly. I think I did thoroughly appease him, till be thanked me for my desire and pains to satisfy him. He told me he would not direct me in any thing, that it might not be said the Lord Chancellor did labour to abuse the king ; but I see what he means, and will make it my work to do him service in it. He did plainly say, that he would not direct me in any thing, for he would not put himself into the power of any man to say he did so and so; but plainly told me as if he would be glad I did something. Lord ! to see how we poor wretches dare not do the King service, for fear of the greatness of these men.”
Mr. Pepys kept his promise so faithfully, and served the chancellor so ably, and yet so discreetly, that he won Clarendon's high regard ; which that minister testified on various occasions; and particularly by stroking him complacently on the head, one day after a meeting of council
. What a choice piece of biography is that which we have just extracted! Were all lives and all histories written with equal truth, we should know better what to think of many more Clarendons, who have been handed down to us as the most“ virtuous and upright of ministers.” The whole history of Clarendon's administration, as written by David Hume, teaches not so much as this single passage of an obscure and ill-written diary.
END OF PARTI. VOL. XIII,
Vol. XIII. PART II.
Art. I.— Pontoppidan's Natural History of Norway. Trans
lated from the Danish Original. Illustrated with Plates, Folio. London, 1755.
Every traveller and historian, who, quitting the broad and beaten path, turns aside for the purpose of more minute examination, must prepare himself for a cold and cautious reception, and for the chance, moreover, of being paraded before the public by the critics of his day, that it may be seen of all " how God and good men can hate so foul a liar.” Readers, at all conversant with the literary histories of past and present times, will readily admit the truth of this assertion; and, in this instance alone, find themselves obliged to deny the justice of the adage, that a prophet is not without honour save in his own country;" in the cases before us, the very reverse being too often the fact. Herodotus, whose fame received its due reward at the festivals of Elis and of Athens, was, by the readers of subsequent ages, considered little better than a fanciful romancer. Pliny, who rose to the highest honours which Trajan (who knew well how to appreciate the merit and talent displayed in his long and laborious work on the economy of nature) could bestow, has exposed himself to the smiles and sarcasms of naturalists in every succeeding age; and Pontoppidan, though idolized in Norway, has been universally hailed and quoted by the rest of the world as the Munchausen of his day, and a very wholesale dealer in gratuitous and absolute falsehood. How, then, can we hope to intercede with a shadow of success, even in a single instance, for one professing, as he does, to deal in strange, sin
gular, and unexpected things? Nevertheless, we feel, under certain qualifications, inclined, bere and there, to plead his cause before the enlightened literary juries of our most enlightened age. Dishonoured and discredited, as the indefatigable writers we have just mentioned have been, we should remember that, after passing through the ordeals of the prejudices of an opinionated, and the ignorance of an uninformed, world, the more liberal spirit of modern times, conscious that experience has, in some instances, testified in their favour, has felt disposed to make allowance for the darkness in which they were enveloped and the difficulties under which they laboured, in their severe course of investigation and research. At all events, it is but a debt justly due to those who sacrificed time, and wealth, and health, in days when time, and wealth, and health, were seldom lavished upon such laudable pursuits, to treat them with courtesy, and to endeavour, where we can, to clear up the mists which concealed the truth from their gaze, and wrapt up tales and traditions, which they would willingly have recorded in a plain unvarnished state, in a fantastic robe of improbability or exaggeration. Those who feel disposed to pour out the vial of their wrath on such men as Pontoppidan, will do well to reflect that he sinned occasionally (as we shall show in the succeeding pages) in no less company than the Magnus Apollo of his time, our great and deservedly respected Francis Bacon, Lord High Chancellor of England. We have, moreover, a duty beyond this, and, perhaps, a duty more important, namely, to sift the narratives and assumed discovered truths of these writers more narrowly, and try their pretensions by the test of our more accurate knowledge ; in doing which, much good, direct and indirect, may ensue. When such men as Herodotus, Pliny, Bruce, and Pontoppidan, write, we are not justified in suspecting them of wilfully corrupting the truth for the pure gratification of a prurient disposition to falsehood; it is but fair to suppose that events, however marvellous, rested, at least, upon some foundations; and that their theories, however apparently absurd, were yet reflections from some pure though hidden ray of light, which our exertions may expose to view. In support of this argument, we appeal to the supposed fact recorded by Strabo, of the emission of sounds from the statue of Memnon, when exposed to the first rays of the sun. By how many a hoaryheaded veteran in learning and philosophy, was this treated as an absurd fable, untenable and inexplicable by any known theory; and yet there are those, at this present day, who not only credit, but actually pretend to explain, the mystery on true scientific principles; and, as a further corroboration of the possibility at least of the writer's accuracy, we have the authority