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in a remote island, which never had existence but in the imagination of the amiable and unknown author; and whence, per chance, they have been long desiring to escape. For our own parts, happy to have discovered, though but in fancy, that, “ lodgethe vast wilderness” which the poor poet vainly sighed for, to escape the “ rumours of wars, oppression and deceit,” we quit it with regret, having found it a pleasant hour's rest for our thoughts, as well as food for the imagination.
“ Like the day dreams of melancholy man-
The reader will already have partly divined how it came to pass that Peter tumbled so unexpectedly out of the clouds, in sight of the ship Hector. The fact was, that our hero having had the misfortune to lose his Youwarkee, after several years' residence in her country, became, in consequence of that melancholy event, so unsettled, as to long extremely after his own: accordingly, he had persuaded some stout Swangeantines to attempt to convey him over to the great continent of America, in like manner as they had before conducted him over the wide ocean to Brandleguarp. “ If in your history,” he addresses his kind amanuensis, “ you think fit to carry down the life of a poor old man any farther, you will as well know what to say of me as I can tell you; and I hope what I have hitherto said will in some measure recompense both your expense and labour.”
ART. VIII.-Examen ; or, an Inquiry into the Credit and Veracity
of a pretended Complete History; shewing the perverse and wicked Design of it, and the many Falsities and Abuses of Truth contained in it. Together with some Memoirs occasionally inserted. All tending to vindicate the Honour of the late King Charles II., and his happy Reign, from the intended aspersions of that foul Pen. By the Hon. Roger North. London, 1690.
Prithed DesignComplete" inquiry int
This is one of the most striking and melancholy proofs, that exist in print, how incapable contemporaries are of forming a right judgement, and obtaining just views of transactions, which even pass before their eyes, or within their hearing. Here is a man of no ordinary abilities, quick, intelligent, and
does diis opponents over his
honest,--with no more or stronger prejudices, we imagine, than fall to the lot of the generality of men, and who, from his connection with some principal actors on the then stage of the world, had more than conimon opportunities of right information, has written a bulky quarto volume of near seven hundred pages, to disprove facts, which the course of time has incontrovertibly established. And he not only in his own estimation does disprove them, but he does it triumphantly,—he not only hurls his opponent to the ground, but he spoils him of his very armour, and insults over his prostrate body. He maintains the conflict with a cheerfulness that shows him confident of success - his mood is mirthful from beginning to end,-he lays down the charges only to have so much the more pleasure in refuting them in the strongest terms, and even banters while he fights. And so much will we say for the ingenious author of the Examen, that if it had been possible to vindicate the honour of King Charles the Second, and his happy reign, from any aspersions, however foul,—that the pen of Roger North was the weapon to have done them that good service. But the most acute and zealous advocate in the world will find the simple truth, in the long run, too strong an adversary to cope with. He may trample upon it,-hold it down by main force,-and essay to strangle it; but no sooner does he release his grasp, than straight it rises, Antæus-like, uninjured and unwearied. In undertaking to prove that Charles was not a bad man, not a libertine, not a voluptuary, not a papist, or if not a papist, nothing at all, nota dissembler, not a prince of arbitary designs, not a pensioner of France, not desirous, with the aid of that power, to subvert the liberties of his country, he undertook, we think, what the most plausible and dextrous reasoner, that ever gulled mankind, would have failed to accomplish. Over his more immediate adversary he appears to obtain advantages without end; but the cause of truth, thank heaven! rests not on one pair of shoulders, but finds an advocate in every honest and correctly thinking man. When we turn from the perspicuous pages of that work, which a great statesman has bequeathed us —the precious memorial of his own benevolent and manly principles-to those of the Examen, we confess we even sigh over the author's fancied victories, and cannot help regretting that an honest and well-meaning man should have put himself to so much utterly unprofitable labour. That his intentions were upright, and his own faith in the goodness of his cause sincere, we do him the justice to believe. A mere flatterer of people in power-gaping for place or preferment in state or church,---does not usually choose his patrons from the great of other days, or espouse the cause of princes, whose bones have been long mouldering in the common grave of men. Besides at the period, when Roger North stepped forward to vindicate the memory of King Charles from aspersions, which he thought unjustly thrown upon it—a stranger had “filled the Stuart's throne,” and their favourite principles of government were equally proscribed with their persons. In a world of interested selfseekers, where departed greatness is the only description of power that lacks supporters, we reverence the man, whatever his principles, or however mistaken his views, who, under such circumstances, stands manfully forth to undertake their defence.
As a book of political and historical information, it is too decidedly a party work to be of much value, and as our knowledge has far outgrown the author's, and we are in possession of the undisputed truth of most of the facts about which he reasons, it were a loss of time and labour to examine minutely the grounds, or weigh the value, of his argument. But the course of the reader's progress through the volume (if he have the patience, which we confess we had not, to pursue it diligently) will be strewn with many just observations, many incidental truths, many pieces of correct information, relating to private persons and minor transactions, and many specimens of ingenious reasoning, worthy of a better cause.
The author too has occasionally described persons and things with great truth and effect; and we every now and then, through the complicated web of the argument, gain a near view of some celebrated character, which goes far to repay the reader for much weary and unprofitable travel. For instance, if he have any curiosity to know how the Lord Chancellor Shaftesbury ordered his procession to Westminster-hall, on the first day of term, he will find the adventures that befel that grave cavalcade told with a good deal of harmless mirth.
“ His lordship had an early fancy, or rather freak, the first day of the term, (wlien all the officers of the law, king's counsel and judges, used to wait upon the great seal to Westminster-hall,) to make this procession on horseback, as in old time the way was, when coaches were not so rife. And accordingly the judges, &c. were spoken to, to get horses, as they and all the rest did, by borrowing and hiring, and so equipped themselves with black foot-cloths, in the best manner they could : and divers of the nobility, as usual, in compliance and honour to a new lord chancellor, attended also in their equipments. Upon notice in town of this cavalcade, all the show company took their places at windows and balconies, with the foot-guard in the streets, to partake of the fine sight, and, being once well settled for the march, it moved, as the design was, statelily along. But when they came to straights and interruptions, for want of gravity in the beasts, and too much in the riders, there happened some curvetting, which made no little disorder. Judge Twisden, to his great affright, and the consternation of his grave brethren, was laid along in the dirt: but all, at length, arrived safe, without loss of life or limb in the service. This accident was enough to divert the like frolic for the future, and the very next term they fell to their coaches as before."
If he would know in what dress the chancellor sat to administer equity, he will here find a full description of it, together with some few particulars which concerned that nobleman's inner man. His lordship, he tells us, was of a free air, ready apprehension, witty in his conceits and turns of speech;
“ And regarded censure so little, that he did not concern himself to use a decent habit, as became a judge of his station. For he sat upon the bench in an ash-coloured gown, silver-laced, and fullribboned pantaloons displayed, without any black at all in his gait, unless it were his hat, which, now, I cannot say positively, though I saw him, was so. He was a little man, and appeared more like an university nobleman than an high chancellor of England. And whether out of inclination, custom, or policy, I will not determine, it is certain he was not behind-hand with the court, in the modish pleasures of the time, and to what excess of libertinism they were commonly grown, is no secret."
His Majesty King Charles, who must be allowed to have been an able judge of the matter, placed Shaftesbury in no inferior rank among the profligates of the day. “I believe,” said he,“ Shaftesbury, thou art the wickedest dog in England.”“ May it please your Majesty,” replied the statesman, dutifully yielding up the post of honour, “ of a subject, I believe I am."
The author, who has taken the very worst view of his character, and recorded every thing bad of him that he had heard, seen, or could rake up, says, that if Shaftesbury was a friend to any human being besides himself, he believes it was to King Charles, whose gaiety, breeding, wit, good humour, familiarity, and disposition to enjoy the pleasures of society and greatness, engaged him very much, that had a great share of wit, agreeableness, and gallantry himself. But the superiority he claimed spoiled all; his Majesty would not always be influenced by him, but would take short turns on his toe, and so frustrate his projects; and finding by that he could not work under him, he strove, if possible, to reduce his authority, and get above him. It seems, by what was given out, that he would not have hurt the king personally, but kept him tame in a cage, with his ordinary pleasures about him.
We do not wonder that Shaftesbury should have regarded Charles with some sort of personal affection, if the account we have read of the mode of his removal from office have any truth in it. A number of his political enemies were assembled in the
anti-chamber to witness his going to surrender the seals, and anticipating the triumph of seeing him return deprived of the badges of his office. Shaftesbury, who observed this, resolved to deprive them of this expected enjoyment, and give them, like the flying Parthian, a panic even in his retreat, He begged of the king that he might be allowed to carry the seals before him to chapel, and send them to him afterwards from his house, in order that he might not appear to be dismissed with contempt. “ Codsfish," replied Charles, “ I will not do it with any circumstance that looks like an affront.” Having conversed, for a length of time, upon such gay topics as usually amused the king, his adversaries, who had been all the while on the rack of expectation, were at length greeted with the sight the king and his chancellor, issuing forth together, smiling, and apparently upon the best possible terms. His expected successor and enemies were inconsolable; they concluded nothing less, than that Shaftesbury's peace was made. After enjoying this triumph, the ex-chancellor returned the seals to the king.
A great portion of the work is taken up with unravelling the manifold falsehoods and impostures of the popish plot; and in the course of this, we meet with several characteristic notices of its notorious father and begetter, Titus Oates. He is described as “a low man, of an ill-cut, very short neck; and his visage and features most particular. His mouth was the centre of his face; and a compass there would sweep his nose, foreþead, and chin, within the diameter. Cave quos ipse Deus notavit.
“ Sunk were his eyes, his voice was harsh and loud;
Sure signs he neither choleric was, nor proud:
To make the description complete, we give the following specimen of his singular mode of enunciation :-Bedloe, his brother witness, being taken ill at Bristol, had been examined by the Lord Chief Justice North, then on the circuit. It turned out, however, to be merely a repetition of the old story, that the world which had been led to expect great things, and even Dr. Oates himself was disappointed. “For soon after, on a council day, (he diligently attended at all those times) as the lord chief justice passed through the court, he was heard to say aloud, Maay Laird Chaife Jaistaice, whay this baisiness of Baidlau caims to naithing." But his lordship walked on, not attending to his discourse.