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had any spare time. I made search after the etymology of Britain and the first inhabitants timorously, neither in so doubtful a matter have I affirmed ought confidently. For I am not ignorant that the first originals of nations are obscure by reason of their profound antiquity, as things which are seen very deep and far remote ; like as the courses, the reaches, the confluencies, and the out-lets of great rivers are well known, yet their first fountains and heads lie commonly unknown. I have succinctly run over the Romans' Government in Britain, and the inundation of foreign people thereinto, what they were, and from whence they came : I have traced out the ancient divisions of these kingdoms, I have summarily specified the States and judicial courts of the same. In the several counties I have compendiously set down the limits, (and yet not exactly by perch and pole, to breed questions,) what is the nature of the soil, which were places of the greatest antiquity, who have been dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, barons, and some of the most signal and ancient families therein,(for who can particulate all ?) What I have performed, I leave to men of judgment. But time (the most sound and sincere witness) will give the truest information, when envy (which persecuteth the living) shall have her mouth stopped. Thus much give me leave to say,- that I have in no wise neglected such things as are material to search and sift out the truth. I have attained to some skill of the most ancient British and Saxon tongues : I have travelled over all England for the most part, I have conferred with most skilful observers in each country, I have studiously read over our own country writers, (old and new), all Greek and Latin authors which have once made mention of Britain. I have had conference with learned men in the other parts of Christendom: I have been diligent in the records of this realm; I have looked into most libraries, registers, and memorials of churches, cities, and corporations: I have pored over many an old roll and evidence, and produced their testimony (as beyond all exception) when the cause required, in their very own words (although barbarous they be) that the honour of verity might in no wise be impeached.
"For all this I may be censured as unadvised, and'scant modest, who, being but of the lowest form in the school of antiquity, where I might well have lurked in obscurity, have adventured as a scribbler upon the stage in this learned age, amidst the diversities, of relishes, both in wit and judgment. But to tell the truth unfeignedly, the love of my country, which compriseth all love in it, and hath endeared me to it-the glory of the British name—the advice of some judicious friends hath over-mastered my modesty, and (will’d I, nillid 1,) hath enforced me against mine; own judgment to undergo this burthen too heavy for me, and so thrust me forth into the world's view. For I see judgments, prejudices, censures, aspersions, obstructions, detractions, affronts, and confronts, as it were, in battle array to environ me on every side: some there are which wholly contemn and avile this study of antiquity as a back-looking curiosity; whose, authority as I do not utterly vilify, so I do not over prize or admire their judgment. Neither am I destitute of reason whereby I might approve this my pur. pose to well bred and well meaning men, which tender the glory of their native country : and, moreover, could give them to understand that in the study of antiquity, (which is always accompanied with dignity, and hath a certain resemblance with eternity), there is a sweet food of the mind well befitting such as are of honest and noble disposition. If any there be which are desirous to be strangers in their own soil and foreigners in their own city, they may so continue, and therein flatter themselves. For such like I have not written these lines, nor taken these pains."
The author next proceeds to state and answer the several objections which he imagines will be made to his work ; first, to “the silly web of his style, and rough hewed form of his writing,” then, “ for that he has adventured to hunt after the originals of names by conjectures."
“ There are some," he says, “peradventure, which apprehend it disdainfully and offensively that I have not remembered this or that family, when as it was not my purpose to mention any but such as were most notable, nor all them truly, (for their names would fill whole volumes,) but such as happened in my way,” &c.-" Others will call me in question for that I have commended some persons now living ; yet I have done it sparingly, and that out of an assurance of verity, out of the common consent and voice of such as can well judge of worth, and from no base flattery. By these sparing commendations, such as are commended may be lessoned that their deportments may be answerable, and that they preserve and daily increase the same. Succeeding ages, which I respect more than the present, will render to every man his right, whatsoever is now scribbled in papers. In the mean time, I wish them to remember that to praise good men is but to shew a light of direction as out of a watch-tower to posterity. True is that saying of Symmachus, 'Imitation is encouraged with the seemly praises of the good, and imitating virtue is cherished by example of other's honour. If any say that I have sought occasion to commend some one or other, I conféss it. Neither is well meaning without ceasing to be blamed among the good, and the well deserving friends are not to be forgotten. Howsoever, virtue and glory hath always opposites, and men usually envy the present, and reverence what is past; but God forbid that we should be so partially injurious as to think our times, under the most worthy princes, to be barren of praise-worthy persons. As for such as malign the praises of the good, I fear me lest in their own guiltiness they may apply the dispraise of the bad to themselves. As to myself, I sensibly understand that which Pliny intimated to Tacitus in like case. “There will be great offence and slender thanks, for albeit in the looseness of the world there is much more to be discommended than commended, yet if you commend you shall be taxed as over sparing; if you discommend you shall be censured as over lavish, although you do the one most completely, and the other most moderately."
We have indulged ourselves in so long a quotation from the preface to a work with which most of our readers are, or suppose themselves to be, familiarly acquainted, not to introduce . the book itself to his notice, but by way of prelude to some account which we propose to give of the påst and present state of topography in this country. Among the various “ pursuits of literature,” few have been obnoxious to more indiscriminate and unsparing censure from the half-read portion of mankind; few, to a superficial observer, present a surface of more uninviting sterility; and the political economist, or the abstracted student of philosophy, the least of whose.speculations embrace the whole habitable globe, and whose sublimer visions extend to the very boundaries of infinite space, may be expected to indulge a smile of contempt while, pursuing in the corner of a mail-coach the course of his lofty meditations, he finds himself conveyed, in a few short hours, over an entire, and to him uninteresting district, which has afforded three or four folio volumes of facts for the clearobscure illustrations of the grovelling antiquary. Such is not the view which the truly wise and liberal of the present age, whatever may be the nature of their own individual pursuits, seem disposed to take of the pursuits of others, even although widely different, or apparently inferior, in the style and tendency, the magnitude and importance of their objects. The acute dissector of butterflies and ranunculuses now entertains a reciprocal reverence for the patient decypherer of broken inscriptions and moth-eaten evidences, while the comprehensive natural philosopher, and the philosophic general historian, acknowledge their mutual obligations without pride and without reserve; and the lover of science, still more abstractedly considered, assigns to each his respective rank among the contributors to the stock of universal knowledge, proportioned rather to the activity and talentexerted in his peculiar department, than to any difference, real or imaginary, in the estimated worth of the respective studies.
But it would be most unjust, especially to many of those who have of late years contributed the results of their antiquarian researches towards the gradual completion of that much to be desired objectman entire body of British County History—to let it be supposed that we regard the unriddling of enigmatical tomb-stones, or threading the mazes of ancient deeds and pedigrees, as the principal occupation, much less the ultimate end and object, of the topographical historian. These, indeed, are necessary, as they are (let not our application of the terms provoke the smiles of the uninitiated) important and interesting parts of his labours. But the names of Whitaker, Surtees, and Ormerod, and many others whose investigations have lately adorned and exalted this branch of literature, are an ample security that the field affords greater objects of attraction, and space for the exercise of higher qualities, both of the understanding and of the imagination, than might be inferred from so narrow an estimate. We will select from the prefaces or other advertisements prefixed to the works of a few of those topographical writers whose labours are now in progress, or have been but recently terminated, such passages as describe the particular objects and design of their undertakings, by a comparison of which with the more limited and partial views professed and adopted by their predecessors in County History, our readers will be best enabled to judge of the advances made in the dignity and importance of the pursuit, and we also shall find an easier introduction for the few remarks we have to suggest in the way of recommendation and improvement. .
Sir Richard Colt Hoare, to whom the investigator of Roman antiquities is already so deeply indebted for his magnificent illustrations of “ Ancient Wiltshire,” has recently given to the world, in a style of corresponding splendour and liberality, the first division of a general history of the same county, to which he has prefixed an address, declaratory of the purposes of his undertaking, in language and method not unsuitable to the character of the work.
*“ To my fellow-countrymen in Wilts. ..“ To rescue from total oblivion the relics of ancient Britain ;
“ To illustrate the remaining vestiges of its conquerors, the Romans ;
“ To investigate the monastic and ecclesiastical history of our county;
"To trace the genealogy of distinguished families, and the descent of property;
.“ To record monumental inscriptions, and the biography of celebrated characters ;
" And, above all, to endeavour, by this example; to excite the zeal of my fellow-countrymen in the same cause;
“ Is" (adds the worthy baronet, with some forgetfulness of the multifarious nature of the objects he has just been enumerating,) “ the sole purport of this my humble undertaking.”
In his preface, he enters a little more largely into his views of what may be required from the topographical writer, as well as of the rank and degree in literature to which the pursuit is justly entitled, and which he congratulates himself upon its having of late attained by the general suffrage. He 'views “ with pleasure the powerful inroad which topography is daily making through the different counties of our island," and anticipates that “ many years, perhaps, will not elapse before each individual county may boast of its historian.” He then proceeds to enumerate the principal works of the same description now in progress, adding a remark worthy of being attended to by all who have an interest in the formation and encouragement of similar undertakings that, from the complex and expensive nature of the work, few individuals are able to undertake, on their own account, a County History, which ought rather to be regarded as “ the public effort of each county, and published under the immediate patronage of its inhabitants.” The introductory part of this observation is not, perhaps, altogether just, in the extent to which the baronet's typographical and illustrative magnificence of spirit would carry it. It seems to us, indeed, extremely derogatory from the intrinsic merit and usefulness of provincial and local history, to consider it as incapable of an existence separate from and independent of those adventitious embellishments which modern literary epicurism has attached to it; and, in expressing our sense of the princely liberality which Sir Richard Hoare has displayed, on this no less than on former occasions where he has rendered himself conspicuous for the encouragement afforded by his example to the progress of literature and science, we should be very sorry to be understood as meaning to inforce that which he appears solicitous to promote-the publication of an entire body of County History, on a plan of similar grandeur and costliness. On the contrary, did we think it essential to point out a model for the imitation of future topographers, we would remove from sight all works of a character like the present, or like that the history of Yorkshire) of which the completion has lately been arrested by an event which Sir Richard Hoare justly laments as a most severe loss to the lovers of topography; nor to those only, but to all the friends of genius, taste, and learning,--the scholar, the historian, and the metaphysician—the death of its excellent author ; and would select, as a far preferable example, the portion of the history of Northamptonshire, still more recently given to the public by Mr. Baker,-a work of most minute research and industry, though, in point of exterior allurements, as far inferior to the splendid specimens just noticed, as it exceeds them in the accuracy and copiousness of its details, relative to the succession and subdivisions of property, and the descents of families.