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fluent narration would not have been an adequate compensation. But the endeavor has always been so to construct the body of the Work, that it may be perused not unpleasantly by itself, without adverting to its references, altho these are intended, as they occur, to furnish that gratifying information which original authorities can alone supply.
That to write the present history, is to walk upon n. the suppositos cineres'—the unextinguished embers and still inflammable matter of angry, controversial, and disputed subjects, is a disadvantage and an evil which the Author has much regretted. Mary of England, and Mary of Scotland - Protestants and Catholics— Popes and Jesuits-LutherCharles IX.-St. Bartholomew's massacre- The burnings in Smithfield-Persecution elsewhereHarsh penal laws-Elizabeth—Burghley-Leicester, and Essex-all have been the objects of literary battle, of contradictory opinions, and of keen resentments. And many may still be disposed, from the natural operation of pre-conceived opinions or wishes, to differ with the sentiments and views in the following pages. But no historian of this agitated period, can perform his duty to truth and to the public, without subjecting himself to attack or contradiction on many of its varying incidents and characters; and the penalty inflicted will sometimes be the most severe, when he has been the most impartial. When truths unpleasing must be told; when omitted facts are brought forward; when the obscuring or disfiguring veil is removed, and the real form and features displayed to the general eye, the writer must not hope to escape the hostility or
displeasure of those, to whom the recollections may be unpalatable, or the conclusions inconvenient. He must be resolute and faithful at every hazard; or authentic history must be suppressed or falsified. Yet it is not desirable to incur the enmity, or to excite the dissatisfaction of any one; and therefore a later epocha of our annals, and especially that rich and noble æra which flowed from the Revolution of 1688, would have been a far more delightsome and welcomed occupation. But that is now in the hands of one, who is qualified by his superior talents, to display it with high interest and great intelligence. And if it had not been thus
appropriated, yet as the Reigns in the present Volume are those which immediately succeeded that of Henry VIII., they could not be passed over, in wilful omission, from any personal considerations, without a discreditable intellectual cowardice, which would unfit the man who could yield to it, from doing his historical duty fully and fairly, on any other division of our national transactions. The endeavor has been, throughout the whole volume, to narrate the succession of its events with the same unvarying impartiality that would have been maintained if it had treated on the history of the Pharoahs of the Nile and their Persian conquerors; or had concerned only the stately hierarchy of ancient Egypt, and the emancipation and improvements of its Grecian reformers. It is the Author's duty faithfully to describe the past, but not to interfere with any discussions which may now be subsisting on such subjects. He has steadily endeavored to observe a just neutrality as to these ; and having made this
principle his continual guide, all other results must be patiently risqued. Angry criticism is a possibility of evil, which, in the present activity and dispositions of human nature, no precaution can avert. The right of every one is to judge as he pleases; and each will express himself according to his own taste and choice. It is for the advantage of our individual character to judge equitably, and to write with honorable candor. But even in this respect no one can be dictated to. Society grants to no author a charter of protection, but has decided that reviewers may range and skirmish as they like. Public criticism must be therefore confronted with reasonable firmness, and all its varieties must be tranquilly endured. It must be expected to be diversified according to the talents and temper of its writers. The liberal cannot, from the generous impulses of their own nature, but be liberal. The irritable will be fractious; the vindictive will be severe ; the self-elated will be dogmatic; the ungentlemanly will not be courteous. We all act and behave in society according to what we have grown up to be; and our pen obeys and displays our mental character, as expressively as our manners, our conversation, or our conduct. Hence every author must expect a diversity of treatment, according to the mental habits of those who publicly notice him. Whoever publishes, has no choice but contentedly to abide what he may dislike, and await the calm judgment of the more impartial thinkers, and the equitable decision of time; or to abstain from committing his literary labors to the public press. But the most unfriendly censures may be made to pro
duce some compensatory advantages. It will be a personal gratification of a lasting nature, to read them without the perturbation of comfort or retaliating animosity. This will convert a verbal evil, that soon evaporates, into a moral benefit. And if they really detect any errors of fact in the composition, it will always be an historian's best interest to know and correct such blemishes as early as he
That work will most surely reach posterity which combines the largest portion of knowlege and truth with the fewest imperfections. Our descendants will always prefer those histories which contain the most authentic facts; the most useful sentiments; the most correct reasonings, and the most impartial spirit. Acrimonious criticisms may therefore be forgiven and even welcomed, if they should happen to assist us in the attainment of the dearest wish and hope of all literary emulation.
With these feelings the Author respectfully presents this volume to the Public, in the hope that it will be found to contain some interesting matter, which, altho by most forgotten and to many unknown, ought not to be omitted in English history. Intelligent curiosity now demands new facts, careful reasoning, and enlarged views, in every department of human inquiry, and as much in History, from extended research, as in any other. It is indeed delightful to see so many ardent minds pursuing on all subjects the inexhaustible riches of attainable knowlege with increasing success. Improvements and discoveries now flow rapidly upon us, of a nature and with an abundance that would formerly have been deemed improbable: Comets are found to be
assuming the periodical regularities of planetary orbits.-Gigantic and other animals of a perished world are becoming more fully known to our geological researches-Hieroglyphical inscriptions are decyphered, and are disclosing new monuments to illustrate the darkness of Egyptian antiquity ;-and altho human ingenuity has been baffled in its favorite toil of making the golden metal, it has within these last few weeks apparently succeeded in actually producing, by patient and skilful chemistry, the genuine diamond.* In such an age it is pleasing to live, and think, and write, and to endeavor to be one of the contributors to its information or amusement. The attempt may often fail, but it is gratifying to make the individual effort, and never can be wholly useless, whatever may be the imperfection with which it is accompanied.
* See Report to the French Academy in Literary Gazette,
29 November 1828.
London, 1 January 1829.