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ART. V. The Battle of Bosworth Field, between Richard the Third
and Henry Earl of Richmond, August 22, 1485. Wherein is
obscure and uncertain, as that of the long-sublifting quarrel between the houses of Lancaster and York." And it is the more remarkable,” says Mr. Hume, “ that this profound darkness falls upon us just on the eve of the restoration of letters, and when the art of printing was already known in Europe.” But this latter circumstance, this recent and great acquirement, and which, in the opinion of that writer, might be expected to have diffused a knowlege of the several occurrences at the period in question, had a totally contrary effe& ; which effect is thus judicioufty accounted for by Sir John Fenn, who observes, 6 that the art of printing being newly discovered, people neglected to multiply their manuscripts, and being anxious to preTerve the history of past times, forgot the present.”
Mr. Hutton, equally sensible of the defectiveness of our chronicles, in recording a particular incident of the times, has zealoufly undertaken to give it the clearness it manifestly wants.
« Persuaded' (says he, in his preface), ' that the latter part of this important quarrel, the battle of Bosworth, is superficially represented, I have taken some pains in a minute research. This little work will nearly comprehend the history of Richard's short reigo.
He has collected a multiplicity of circumstances relative to the battle, and described it with anexactness, which will be acceptablo to the antiquary, and useful to the historian in his fearch after truth, The following extracts will bring our readers acquainted with the writer's motives for the publication of the volume before us:
• Very few pieces of history demand more attention than the description of the battle. When the lives of thousands, the change of property, and the fate of empires, are at itake, no wonder our thoughts are captivated. It follows, the more material the action, the more faithful ought to be the description. The battle of Borworth was the last of thirteen between the houses of York and Lancaster; and though it was one of the laft, it was of more consequence than the other twelve; nay, the revolutions it caused, were of greater moment than those of any other," since the conqueft; for it produced a change in the constitution. Villanage was abolished: the feudal system overturned; commercial treaties were ratified; a spirit of industry encouraged, a flow of wealth was the result; and a kind of equality was established among men. *** Interefted even from childhood in this important event, I enjoyed a pleasure in enquiry. By carefully examining every author I could meet with, I learnt all they knew. 'I have made several visiss in the space of
eighteen years to the field itself, merely for information apd inspection. I have also made many enquiries into the traditions in the vicinity of Bosworth' field, and found this the most copious source of intelligence. Though much was lost, much was preserved. If some of the remarks I met with were crude and contradictory, yet sometimes one little hint ignorantly dropt, let many uncertainties to rights. If new difficulties arose, I read, thought, and travelled for a solution. By carefully comparing the writers, the field, and the traditions, I have attempted to remove some absurdities, and place truch on firmer ground. I do not, however, pretend to enumerate every fact, or warrant the truth of every word; for it must be confidered, the period is diftant, and many incidents which are material, and would elucidate others, are buried in time. In some parts of the road I am obliged to follow the footsteps of my predeceffors. Where they treat of the interests of Richard or Henry, ihey must be followed with caution ; but where those interests are out of the question, they are much safer guides. When I quit their path, and follow my own, I shall be attentive to punctuality. Truth is the ground-work of the historian : he who says the best things says the truet *'
That part of our author's performance which comprises the life of Richard, 'till he assumed the regal power,' is intended to set bis character in a somewhat amiable point of view. It is chiefy extracted from Buck, Rapin, Carte, Walpole, and Fenn, and is preparatory to his general vindication, or, at least, to an extenuation of the guilty proceedings of which he has been accused by Lancaftrian historians, and also by some others of a later date. The truly ingenious Mr. Walpole + was the first who attempted, in a particular manner, to rescue the memory of Richard from the obloquy which had been generally thrown on it. He knew, that to palliate the crimes imputed to the King were to lose the point for which he was contending, and be therefore laboured to prove bis innocence :- and this in every accusation exbibited againd him. Hence, in our opinion, his principal error, for though he has certainly cleared Richard from several of the murders he has been charged with, there are notwithstanding others of which it is highly probable that he was the author, as Mr. Hume has very fully evinced in a note to
This latter member of the sentence comes under the description of Tully's inverfo verborum, and the reasoning is consequently false. The writer means, we presume,- he zubo says the truesit thing's Jays ibe beft : or, he says the best things who says the trueft. Again, in speaking of Edward IV. he observes, - • Gloucester did not soften the spirit of his brother savage.' But why his brother Savage? Edward and Richard were descended neither from the Iroquois nor Calawahs, nor indeed from any other uncivilized tribe. Mr. Hutton would no doubt say, his favage (i. e. cruel) brother.
+ See our account of Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of Richard II. Rev. vol. xxxviii. p. 114.
the laft edition of his Hiftory of England, and which is given by way of answer to the historic doubts.
Mr. Hatton does not follow the steps of Mr. Walpole ; he attempts not entirely to exculpate his . hero,'--for fo be ftyles bim,- but rather to apologize for his conduct on the plea of neceflity *, from the force of his ambition, and from the boldness of his character.'
• Had Richard been prosperous' (says his apologist), he would, with all his faults, have passed through life with eclat. Many of the English Princes have been as guilty as Richard, but less blamed, because more successful. The treatment of Duke Robert by his brother, William Rufus, and Henry 1. was infinitely more diabolical than that of Richard to Clarencse King John murdered his nephew and his sovereign, as well as Richard. The destruction of Warwick by Henry VII. was as vile a murder as that of Ed. ward V.'
This endeavour to vindicate the character of Richard, by comparing him with others who have been guilty of equal, or perhaps of greater crimes than himself, will not be very satisfac. tory to the man of reason and virtue. It tends indeed to the annibilation of every moral and religious duty. The tyrant, who, after committing three or four murders, shall stop bis hand, because his end is fully answered by them, is scarcely less an object of detestation than he who adds to their number in the profecution of bis ambitious schemes. The author again remarks,
• There is not in the whole history of the English Kings a similar instance of a Prince forming a design upon the crown, laying so able and deep a scheme, in which were so many obstacles ; surmounting them all, and gaining the beloved object in eight weeks. These obstacles would have appeared insurmountable to any eye buc Richard's. He had to overcome Rivers and Gray, with all their adherents, who were powerful, and in poffeffion of the Sovereign; the potent friends of Edward's family, as Derby, Hastings, York, Ely, &c.; but what was fingular, he had the most powerful of all, the people. The fate of every branch of opposition was determined; the King (Edward V.) was committed to prison. Stanly was to be cut off, as if by an accidental blow; the two Bishops seized and confined. Rivers, with the King's friends, were solemnly mur. dered in the face of the sun: Hastings in a manner unknown in hiftory; and what was astonishing, the people were most unaccountably duped. A bolder display of maserly talents is no where met with.'
What a singular commendation! and how extraordinary the cause! The man who gains a throne by blood and treason is then an hero?-But Mr Hutton bas frequently the appearance of inconfiftency. This arises from his censuring Plantagenet as
• So fpoke the fiend, and with neceffity,
The tyrant's plea, excus'd his dev'lish deeds. MILTON.
an human being, yet vindicating him as he was an able and a powerful King
The style of this performance, in general, is ill suited to the serious dignity of history; and in some few places it sinks remarkably below it *, get, on the whole, it is not an uninterest. ing work.
A.B. Art. VI. A summary and philofophic View of the Genius, Character, Manners, Government, and Politics of the Dutch. 8vo. 45. Boards. Hookham. 1788. THIS work bears no relation, whatever, to the recent dis
turbances in Holland, but is confined entirely to an examination of the character and manners of the people, together with their form of government. In the dedication, to the Prince of Orange, are the following words : While the writer endeavoured to display the merits of the people he was describing, truth no less required, that in such a representation, their defects also should not be omitted; otherwise he would, inftead of a pi&ure, have composed a panegyric, and in lieu of the stri& veracity juftly expected on such an occasion, he would have been guilty of deception, and incurred the suspicion of venality." How far our author has adhered to this his principle of impare tiality, we all briefly enquire.
He sets out with a laboured encomium on the Dutch, and on their intrepid behaviour in throwing off the yoke of Spain. In this particular instance, they certainly appear to considerable advantage. A nation emancipated from a state of flavery, and that by the united efforts of valour and virtue, will ever appear an interesting object in the eyes of all who can think and determiae for themselves. But when the author is equally lavilh in commendation of the conduct of the Hollander in the year 1672, and wben be talks of the “ignominious alliance of the court of England with that of France' - which alliance took place at the period in queftion--we must beg leave to enter our diffent from his judgment and opinion, as being somewhat unwarrantable
Holland was undoubtedly the aggressor. The cbaftisement the received, however, was possibly too severe.
We have a good opinion of the courage of the Hollanders; but this author must pardon us if we cannot, in conformity with the sentiments he has advanced, place it in a perfect parallel with that which was to be seen in ancient times. It is very pollible that there are Dutchmen who may be equal in valour to any of the heroes of antiquity ; but as they never had an op
* What will the reader say to such language as this :-'Were I allowed to treat royalty with plainnels, Richard was an accomplished rascal, and Henry not one jot better?
portunity of thewing that valour in a like extent, so is it ima poffible for us to allow them a similar, or an adequate propor. tion of praise. But leaving the matter of personal bravery un. determinedince as a commercial nation a spirit of conqueft is wholly foreign to the prospects of the Dutch-We proceed to consider them in other, and, we think, in their proper lights.
The volume before us is intended, as we have already intimated, to set the people of Holland in an advantageous and. Atriking point of view. We think, however, that the writer has defeated his purpose by aiming at too much. Many, he observes, have treated the Dutch as objects of their risibility, on account of the love of lucre so prevalent in them all ; and at this he is highly offended. It is by no means our desire to be ranked with those who treat this people, from such particular failing, as objects of their risibility; we rather conlider chem as objects of pity on that very account, since nothing will so effectually steel the heart against the nobler and more generous sentiments of humanity. But this their constitutional parfimony, this their regard and attachment to self, is by the worldling, and likewise by their author, denominated prudence. Be it lo. But in our opinion the vice of disipation, however cenfurable in itself, is highly preferable to such frozen virtues.
We will now examine the force of this writer's reasoning on the abilities, the genius of the people in question. He observes
• Those who tax the Dutch with heaviness of genius, may soon be convinced of their mistake by attending to the multiplicity of productions of every sort, that are owing to the laborious fertility of their imaginations, and the wonderful indefatigableness of their toil. This is a praise which even their enemies have freely and explicitly confessed," Strade *, a Jesuit, who lived at a time when religious inveteracy was widely diffused over Europe, nevertheless expresses the favourable opinion entertained of the Dutch at that period, with peculiar pointedness : “ Rara hodie admirarum machinamenta, quæ Belgica non invenerit, aut non absoluerit.” “ We admire,” says he, ” now-a-days, but few discoveries of art, which have not been either invented, or brought to perfection by the Dutch."--Other nations have carried their improvements to a great height since that epocha; but no country, England excepted, can vie with Holland in those respects.'
Strada's expression is by no means to be understood in the lati, tude given to it by our author. Machinamenta must not be interpreted by discoveries of art. It merely fignifies, such things as come from the hands of the mechanic t. Strada would inlinu.
• Strada, was the name of this Jesuit, not Strade.
+ Machinamentum, perhaps, more generally signifies, a battering engine ; in which sense it is used by Livy, 24• 34 : “ Machinamenta quatiendis muris portabant :” and if this be its true meaning, Strada seems to have uled it improperly.