« ZurückWeiter »
Art. I.- Memoirs of John Duke of Marlborough, with his Ori
ginal Correspondence; collected from the Family Records at Blenheim, and other authentic sources: illustrated with Portraits, Maps, and Military Plans. By Williain Coxe, M. A. F. R.S. F. S. A. Archdeacon of Wilts. Second Edition. Six
Volumes. 8vo. IT is related of Sir Robert Walpole, that when his son Horace
one day took up an historical work to read aloud to him, he exclaimed, ' Oh, do not read history, for that I know must be false.' • He,' says his biographer Mr. Coxe,' who had fathomed the secrets of all the cabinets of Europe, must have considered history as a tissue of fables, and have smiled at the folly of those writers who affect to penetrate into state-affairs, and trace all the motives of action. This is somewhat too serious a comment upon a peevish speech. Walpole himself would have acknowledged after dinner, or in a sunshiny morning, that the remark was more splenetic than just. He was too good a statesman not to perceive that it is only by the study of history statesmen can be formed, and that though the secrets of cabinets can be known to few, and are not always worth knowing,—the causes of the rise and progress and decline of nations, the virtues by which they have flourished the vices by which they have fallen—the spirit by which revolutions are brought about, and the march of human events in which what has been is perpetually recurring, are within the reach of the historian, and form the lessons by which alone the science of politics can be attained. Least of all men should Mr. Coxe have given his sanction to the remark, who, in his Memoirs of the two Walpoles, of the House of Austria, of the Spanish Bourbons, and more especially in the present work, has brought before the public so large a mass of authentic and original information.
The present work is chiefly derived from the most unquestionable documents—the papers at Blenheim. They consist of Marlborough's own letters, private, official, and diplomatic-a correspondence almost unparalleled for value, interest, and extent -of Godolphin's letters, which are equal in point of number and of interest-of numerous letters from the different sovereigns of Europe, and their chief ministers—of the papers which that extraordinary woman, Sarah Duchess of Marlborough, left behind VOL. XXIII. NO. XLV..