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L'Estrange's motives in serving the high monarchical party, or of the sincerity of his advocacy of its principles.

The Political Arithmetic of Sir William Petty (16231687), and the Discourse of Trade of Sir Josiah Child (1630-1699), take high rank among economic publications, but can scarcely be regarded as literature.

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monarchid s principles Petty (160 Josiah Chili publications

CHAPTER X.

HISTORIES AND MEMOIRS OF PUBLIC TRANSACTIONS.

HISTORY is one of the departments of literature in which it is easiest to approach the unsurpassable perfection of antiquity. Poets must in general be accepted as inspiring influences rather than as models; but the methods of historians may be studied and even copied without undue servility. This was soon perceived by the Latin races, and by the middle of the seventeenth century the vernacular literatures of Italy, Spain, and Portugal possessed many truly classical historians. It is difficult to understand why England should have been so backward. The Restoration found its historical literature in an intermediate stage, half way between the artless old chroniclers and the consummate examples of historical style and construction which the next century was to produce. It left historical composition, however, much more advanced than it had found it. The chief history of the

age, though far from perfect, at all events was a history 1 and not a chronicle. Clarendon's great work, it is true,

belongs to the preceding generation in everything but the date of its composition; and will, accordingly, be found to be treated in a previous section of this history. His successor, Burnet, on the other hand, was in literary matters a perfect representative of his own day, a man of his times;

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and their works taken together, while illustrating the mutations of taste and the gradual popularization of culture, may be regarded as the Iliad and Odyssey of the period, the former a high epical treatment of a tragic theme, decreed by the Fates and directed by the Gods; the second a bustling tragi-comedy true to human nature and crowded with domestic incident. The writers, moreover, have these things in common: that both are men of original and marked character, whose personality is vividly embodied in their productions; that both had been busy actors in many of the events which they detail; that both, therefore, had unusual means of information, and the narrative of neither could miss the liveliness imparted by actual contact with the transactions they relate. Both were inevitably prejudiced, but both were high-minded and conscientious; and the bias against which they vainly contended is too visible and too much a matter of course to detract seriously from the value of their histories.

Gilbert Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, was born at Edinburgh, September 18th, 1643. By the wish of his father he selected the Church as his profession, which placed him in the invidious position of an Episcopalian ministering amid a nation of Presbyterians. His moderation, nevertheless, gained the confidence of the dissidents, and his great influence with Lauderdale, the ruler of Scotland, was exerted in favour of the most conciliatory measures and the widest toleration possible. When at length Lauderdale had become hopelessly coinmitted to a violent course, Burnet withdrew from Scotland, and settled in London as preacher at the Rolls and at St. Clement Danes. During Charles's reign, though an object of great suspicion to the court, he maintained his ground, but at the accession of James found it expedient to go abroad. After travelling in France, and proceeding

ever seen.

as far as Rome, he settled in Holland, returning with William III. in 1688. William's proclamation was drafted by him, and he drew up the engagement signed by the nobility who joined the prince. These and many other services were rewarded by the bishopric of Salisbury, where, by the confession of his adversaries, he proved as charitable and exemplary a prelate as the Church had

He is especially memorable in this capacity as the author of the scheme for the augmentation of poor livings commonly known as Queen Anne's Bounty. He died in 1715. His moral character was of the highest; his intellectual character was disfigured by some foibles, unimportant in themselves, but which, not being of the kind usually found in conjunction with first-rate abilities, have occasioned his powers to be considerably undervalued. The man, however, who was respected by the cynical Charles and trusted by the jealous William, cannot have been of ordinary mould; nor

can it be said of many authors that they have produced three books which, after the lapse of two centuries, are still regarded as standard authorities. The History of the Reformation was published in 1679-1714; the Exposition of the Articles in 1699; the History of his Own Times in 1723-34.

Burnet's History of his Own Times actually deserves the character which Clarendon incorrectly gives of his own; it is rather the material for history than history itself. This is not a consequence of crude treatment, for all is well arranged and lively, nor from the encumbrance of original documents, of which it is nearly destitute. It arises rather from the predominance of the autobiographic tone, much more marked than in Clarendon, though Clarendon also relates as an eyewitness, which almost brings the book down to the level of personal memoirs. It must nevertheless be classed with histories, and, if not one of the most dignified, it is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining. Burnet's deep interest in the events in which he had taken so large a share insures vivacious and effective treatment; his personages breathe and move, and impress themselves indelibly upon the reader's imagination, though he usually abstains from set efforts at the depicting of character. The defects of his method are no less apparent; in relating what he has not himself heard or seen, he relies upon hearsay, and sinks into a gossip. The extent, nevertheless, to which he speaks as an eyewitness, renders his work very valuable. Well acquainted with Charles and James, admitted to the favour of William and the full confidence of Mary, he is able to introduce us into their

and summon them as it were from the dead. His point of view, being so largely personal, is inevitably partial; he can tell us, for example, of the defects in Shaftesbury's character, which he discovered from actual acquaintance, but nothing of the surprising enlightenment of the statesman, which could only be learned from speeches which he never heard and documents which he never saw. Impartiality is the last virtue to be expected from a busy actor in a troubled age, but Burnet approaches it as nearly as can with any reason be demanded. It is hardly in human nature that he should be entirely fair to adversaries by whom he had himself been maligned, but his intention of being so is very apparent. The most impartial and generally the most valuable portion of his work is his narrative up to the Revolution. When he wrote this, animosities had become mellowed by time; when he lived it his contact with affairs had been more intimate as the political agent than afterwards as the spiritual peer. Disappointment with the course of events colours his account of Anne's reign, and renders him splenetic and querulous. His per

presence,

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