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Mr. Fox may
written to support the system, rather than the system adopted from the consideration of the history*. Mr. Rose could not suppose that this part of the history of his country had been then, for the first time, brought forward to the consideration of Mr. Fox. No man was more familiarly acquainted with it, and no man certainly had been more happy in the selection of quotations from it in debate. Great political measures and events had recently called the attention of the public, in a particular manner, to what had happened previous to and at the time of the Revolution. have formed his political creed upon the principles of those great characters by whom that happy event was accomplished, to whom every man in this country is indebted for the property and security he enjoys, and whose memory cannot be less honoured by the monarch upon the throne, than the peasant in his cottage. Should this have been the case, and should Mr. Fox have conceived those principles to have been unjustly aspersed, and his own character misunderstood and misrepresented for having supported them, no apology would be necessary for his having selected that portion of our history, and entered into an explanation and defence of those principles, though at the same time he should have identified, and defended his own with them. . It is almost impossible for any person to write a perfectly impartial history, even if he were to make an indiscriminate collection of facts first, and from them form an arrangement and deduce a system. That arrangement and that system must necessarily partake of the general principles of the writer. His habits of thinking, his prejudices, and his feelings, which he cannot have in common with any other individual, must direct his understanding, and colour his narrative. The material points to be attended to (which Mr. Rose says in the present instance he was particularly careful to examine) are that his facts shall be true, and his deductions and observations, naturally, or at least fairly, arise from them. Here it is that Mr. Rose thinks he has discovered many failures in the Historical Work, but arduous as the task may appear, we do not despair of shewing in detail that he is more frequently mistaken in the corrections he would suggest, than Mr. Fox in the passages objected to. Mr. Rose candidly makes the admission that notwithstanding all his failures in accuracy, Mr. Fox did not “ intentionally state a false faci," but the charge in this respect is, that he has not examinell, with the utmost care and assiduity, the accuracy of what he asserts*. This further reason is given for noticing those parts of the book which do not concern Sir Patrick Hume, that the mis
* Mr. Rose's Introduction, p. viii.
takes which have been made and then reasoned upon, may be prevented from misleading the judgment of others. But though Mr. Rose in this place describes the object of his observations to be confined to Mr. Fox's mistakes in facts only, we shall find him venturing into the field of argument, and disputing some of his deductions from the facts he has related. Probably Mr. Rose may not have been aware of his having transgressed his own rule, or possibly his fears may have va- ' nished at the moment, when he thought he had the political opponent of his patron and friend at an advantage.
The Historical Work of Mr. Fox has been treated with greater severity than posthumous publications havé usually met with. This may be owing, in some degree, to á misapprehension of part of the Preface, which, does so much honour to the head and heart of his noble relation, who undertook to perform the dutý of an editor. In that Preface, care is most sedulously taken to guard against the expectation that the work itself was perfect, or left by the author as in a perfect státe. In the first paragraph it is stated to be only a fragment and incomplete, and afterwards, when a reason is given for a peculiar desire to preserve the precise words and phrases of the author, it is again stiled " incomplete and unfinished.”
But the scrupulous attention, which Mr. Fox is stated to have bestowed in ascertaining the truth of his facts, and the delicacy of his noble editor not tò permit any alteration in the composition of the work, however imperfect the state in which it was left, have been mistaken for assurances that, both in substance and in stile, the author had perfected his design, and himself completed the
copy for the press. Mr. Fox, having conceived that the most profitable mode of reading or writing history was select certain of the most interesting periods, and enter into a separate investigation of the causes and effects of the events happening within each, formed the design of writing a separate history of the revolution. Unfortunately his death prevented the completion of his plan, and he has, besides his Introductory Chapter, left in an unfinished state, the history of little more than the first five months of the reign of James the Second. During that short period he has confined himself to the political occurrences, and dismissed from his consideration every thing, which might distract the attention of himself or his readers, from the main object he had in view. This part of his work is comprized in about 200 quarto pages, in which the reader is presented with a narrative of events, detailed with an accuracy and perspicuity, which will be found
.e 2 ...
was a great man Mormosta authorised
in few historians, accompanied with observations and
deductions, which may be considered almost as so many Katargyle political aphorisms. His stile is simple but nervous, and
in many places eloquent; that it is not always equally
That so may be owing in a great degree to the unfinished sorrend you skiri Lepouting state, in which this fragment has seen the light. The few Carretary wear superior powers of his mind may be traced in almost
every page, and the principles he has developed and Msafamd; de It supported are those, by which that great event must
be defended, which gave liberty and prosperity to a great people, and placed the illustrious House of Brunswick upon
the British throne,
Perhaps the partiality of friendship may have made me less observant than others of the defects in this work, but it has always appeared to me to be a permanent monument to the fame of Mr. Fox as a historian, and to furnish additional cause for deep regret, that he was taken from his country and his friends, before he had completed his plan. Short as the fragment is, with all its imperfections on its
head,” it is a most interesting exhibition of the principles of a great political character, not as advanced or supported in debate, but as deliberately written in his closet. He
has himself given the true standard, by which the honesty if It is s; but the question what impression does it earn?