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HISTORY OF ENGLAND
AUTHOR OF THE HISTORY OF GREECE, THE HISTORY OF ROME,
OUTLINES OF HISTORY, ETC.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
It is very remarkable, that, although there is a large class of persons who are anxious to possess an acquaintance with the history of their country, but who have not leisure to read voluminous works, few, if any, attempts have been made to supply their want. If we except mere schoolbooks, the only moderately-sized and readable History of England is that of Goldsmith, in three volumes, octavo. It is very well known how slenderly furnished that most agreeable writer was with the knowledge requisite for the task he undertook; and it has been justly observed, that even had he possessed all the requisite information, so much additional materials have been brought to light within the last half-century as would make a new work necessary. It is proposed to supply the deficiency by the present History, which aims at giving, in a moderate compass, such an account of the affairs of England, from the earliest times down to the present day, as may satisfy the reasonable expectations of the class of readers above described.
The besetting sin of our historians is party-spirit. We
have no Thucydides or Thuanus. The partiality of Hume is discreditable to philosophy; but if he is partial on the one side, Brodie, Godwin and some late writers are fully as much so on the other. An impartial history (particularly of the House of Stuart) is undoubtedly still wanting in our literature. With respect to the present work, it would not be safe to say that it is perfectly free from error, or that prejudice may not have affected some of the statements; but I can truly assert that the influence of this principle has been imperceptible to myself, and most certainly I have never wilfully suppressed or distorted the truth.
My situation I conceive to be favourable for the discovery and delivery of truth in history. I belong to no sect or party, in religion or politics. A member of the Church of England, I give it in my mind a moderate preference to any other, without taking on me to assert that it is absolutely the best; in politics, it is to me personally a matter of perfect indifference what party has the disposal of the patronage of the state, for place or pension I neither desire nor want, and would not accept. Perhaps this forms as near an approach as may be to the paradoxical character of a good historian—that “ il ne faudroit être d'aucune religion, d'aucun pays, d'aucune profession, d'aucun parti.” - The plan on which this history has been written is as follows. The events of the early periods and that of the Plantagenets have been related with such details as were