« PreviousContinue »
SEVERAL persons requested I would give a history of the London riots: I promised to undertake the talk, and in consequence began to digest my materials. I afterwards reflected, that the duty of the historian, bound him to arraign at the impartial tribunal of truth, both men and actions; unmask the leading characters; examine into their motives; lay open the hidden springs of proceedings, whether worthy of applause, or deserving to be doomed to censure; embellisti his narrative with suitable reflections; and, by spreading the wide theatre, without respect to time or persons, inform the living, and become the monitor of the unborn. I afterwards considered my own state, exposed, in consequence of the penal laws, to the insult of every ruffian; and, comparing the defenceless situation of the priest with the duty of the historian, I dropped the attempt.
No person is obliged to write a history; but when he writes it he must tell the truth: and when we tell the truth in talking of the living, it is hard to avoid giving offence.
If my correspondents be not satisfied with this apology, let them point out a method whereby I can remove the difficulty, and I shall publish a history of the riots, in London itself, with my name to it: for I disclaim anonymous productions.