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INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

effects on those more immediately subjected to the

overflowings of its burning lava, but operating, ALISON'S HISTORY OF EUROPE has attracted universal attention. It comprises a most eventful inflammable gases, which had else grumbled be.

ed at the same time, as a safety valve, and letting off period in the current of human affairs, and passes

natairs, and passes neath the surface until they had heaved up the in review before us the most prominent actors in

earth with terrific earthquakes.-ED. the momentous scenes then displayed on the theatre of life. It is most ludicrously erroneous, however, in its statements in respect to the govern

Froin the Edinburgh Review. ment and religion of the United States, and indi. cates a want of information on these subjects truly

1. History of Europe, from the Commencement surprising; or else a wilful misrepresentation,

of the French Revolution in 1789, to the which we can scarcely attribute even to so virulent Restoration of the Bourbons in 1815. By a bater of republicanism.

ARCHIBALD ALISON, Esq., F.R. S. E., Ad. The subsequent article, however, is not a 'run vocate. 10 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh and ning review of the author's volumes, abounding in

London : 1839-1842. extracts of tedious length, but is devoted principally to a bold exposure of Mr. Alison's Toryism, and an There is much in Mr. Alison's History able defence of the democracy of England and of of the French Revolution against which we democracy in general. But by democracy is intend to record our decided protest ; and meant, not the rule of the masses in popular as- I there are some parts of it which we shall semblies, but that of any government, in which the numerical majority has the influential, controlling

feel compelled to notice with strong disappower.

probation. We therefore hasten to preWe think the writer, who is evidently an English face our less favorable remarks by freely Whig of note, has made out an admirable defence acknowledging that the present work is, of the propriety and safety of our own republican upon the whole, a valuable addition to Euconstitution of government. His hope, however, onean literature that it is evidently com. like our own, relies on the general diffusion of proper education; and he cannot see why, with

piled with the utmost care, and that its soch a basis, a superstructure cannot be raised that narration, so far as we can judge, is not will be both beautiful and permanent.

perverted by the slightest partiality. He believes in the improvability, but not in the A complete history, by an English author, perfectibility of human nature; and notwith- of all the great events which took place in standing the tumultuous passions that tossed ihem. Europe from 1789 to 1815, has long been a selves, like angry waves, on the sea of the French | desideratum : and whatever may be the im. Revolution, he thinks the ultimate results of it will be beneficial to the world.

perfections of Mr. Alison's work, we canOur own opinion is not dissimilar. That revo. | not say that it does not supply the vacancy. lution may be looked upon as the eruption of a Its defects, or what we deem such, are moral volcano, disastrous, of course, in its direct matter partly of taste, and partly of politi

AMERICAN ECLECTIC

NTSETY OF LITERATURY,, 54,11,,1, H

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cal opinion. Some readers may consider for the histories of the Peninsular war by them as beauties—many will overlook Napier, Foy, and others, without feeling them; and even the most fastiillous must satisfied of the care and judgment which acknowledge that they are not such as ma- Mr. Alison has shown in constantly selectterially to interfere wich' the great plan of ing, where authorities differ, the most the work.. Its merits are minuteness and probable and most authoritative statements. honesty-qualities which may well excuse. We have already hinted our opinion, that

a: failty style, gross political prejudices, Mr. Alison's general style is not attrac..and a fondness for exaggerated and frothy tive. It is not, however, at least in the : declamation.

narrative part of his work, either feeble or We cannot better illustrate the fulness displeasing. Its principal defect is the and authenticity of Mr. Alison's history, cumbrous and unwieldy construction of its than by quoting his own statement of the sentences, which frequently cause them to admirable plan on which he has selected appear slovenly and obscure, and sometimes and applied his authorities. His invariable render their precise meaning doubtful. We rule, we are informed by his Preface, has quote, almost at random, a single passage been to give, on every occasion, the au- by way of specimen :-Mortier, following thorities by volume and page from which the orders which he had received to keep the statement in the text was taken. ... nearly abreast of, though a little behind the Not only are the authorities for every par- columns on the right bank, and intent only agraph invariably given, but in many in- upon inflicting loss upon the Russian troops stances also those for every sentence have which he knew had passed the river, and been accumulated in the margin. ....conceived to be flying across his line of Care has been taken to quote a preponder-march from the Danube towards Moravia, ance of authority, in every instance where was eagerly emerging from the defiles of it was possible, from writers on the oppo- Diernstein, beneath the Danube, and the site side to that which an English historian rocky hills beneath the towers of the casmay be supposed to adopt ; and the reader tle where Richard Cour de Lion was once will find almost every fact in the internal immured, when he came upon the Russian history of the Revolution, supported by two rearguard, under Milaradowitch, posted in Republican and one Royalist authority ; front of Stein, on heights commanding the and every event in the military narrative only road by which he could advance, and drawn from at least two writers on the part supported by a powerful artillery.'-(v. of the French, and one on that of their op- 444.) We have purposely selected a senponents. We feel convinced that Mr. Ali- tence obscure merely by its length and inson has acted up to the spirit of this candid volution, and not disfigured by any tangible and judicious system throughout his whole solecism ; and we believe we speak within work. We cannot, of course, pretend to compass when we say, that it would be difhave verified his statements by constant ficult to select half a dozen consecutive reference to the writers from whom he has | pages, from any part of Mr. Alison's work, drawn his information. The events which in which one or more passages of at least he records are of such recent occurrence, equally faulty construction might not be and such deep interest, that the enormous found. But there are not wanting offences mass of details published respecting them of a still less excusable nature. Whenever may well defy the curiosity of an ordi. the historian warms with his subject, he is nary reader. "But we are bound to remark, constantly hurried into the most singular that whenever we have been led to com-verbal blunders—some puzzling, some lupare the conflicting accounts of any impor- dicrous—but all of a kind which a careful tant event in Mr. Alison's history, we have reperusal could scarcely have failed to disalmost invariably found that his narrative cover. We quote three or four instances, steers judiciously between them, and com- not for the sake of ridiculing a few slight bines the most probable and consistent par- oversights in a long and laborious work, ticulars contained in each. We apply this but in order to draw Mr. Alison's attention remark more especially to his narration of to a defect which, comparatively trivial as the intestine commotions of the French it is, might give great and unjust advantage Revolution, and of the military conflicts of to critics less disposed than we are to treat the Empire-particularly those which oc- him kindly. Thus he speaks of the 'vast curred in Spain. No one, we think, can and varied inhabitants of the French emread the various accounts of the troubles pire-a phrase which can scarcely be acwhich led to the Reign of Terror, as col. tually misunderstood, but which sounds lulected in the able work of Professor Smyth, dicrously inapplicable, considering that the

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