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state. It has been for some time, divided into three provinces, Tigré, Amhara, and Efàt. The province of Tigré, lying nearer to the Red sea, and farther from the risk of invasion from the interior, might enjoy more tranquillity, were the chiefs united among themselves. Sebagadis, the principal chief, and a supporter of the mission, was taken prisoner in a war with the Galla—the soldiers of the interiortwo or three years since, and was put to death. There is now considerable prospect that Wolda Michael, a son of Sebagadis, will obtain the supreme command. He was known, before his father's death, as almost a single example in the country for adhering to his word. The missionary of the Church mission, the Rev. Samuel Gobat, was enabled, through scenes of great confusion and suffering, to maintain his ground, and to exert his Christian influence on the mind of the young and hopeful chief. By the latest intelligence, he had twenty scholars, who were travelling about the country, and instructing the people.

In North Africa, there is a large field for moral and intellectual cultivation. Algiers is a central spot, from which the word of God may be widely diffused in the French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and Arabic languages. More than 4,000 protestants now reside in the city, without a church, minister, or schools. Arabic Bibles are purchased by the Moorish inhabitants, and the New Testament by Jews.

QUARTERLY OBSERVER.

No. II.

OCTOBER, 1833.

ARTICLE I.

HUME, AS A HISTORIAN.

It may be a prejudice, but I have always regarded it as à matter of gratitude, that I was born and educated under the influence of English literature. Books are destined to have a powerful influence over men; they are the only weapons which achieve the permanent victories that alter the face of our globe; and, on the whole, English literature is the purest, and most impregnated with the spirit of the gospel, of any which has existed. In Germany, the human mind wanders in vagaries ; every thing is pushed to extravagance; and they seem to have no sense of the absurd or ridiculous, either in forming theories, or painting characters. They seem to need the lash of such satirists as Swift and Pope, to tame them from the vagaries of enthusiasm, to the plain realities of common sense. In France, they are all

*

It may be a dream of mine, but it has always appeared to me, that such writers as Swift, Pope, and Addison, with all their faults, have had a powerful influence in giving to the English nation that common sense character, for which they have been distinguished, and the more distin. guished, the more they are compared with some of their neighbors. Other causes have indeed co-operated. The manner in which many of the highflying dreams in politics and religion, in the days of Cromwell, terminated; their commercial character, and their government; have tended to make them calculators of the earth, rather than soarers into the clouds. But certainly their satirists, though, in swinging their promiscuous scythes, they have cut down many a fair flower as well as many a hurtful weed, have had a hand in keeping them from that wild spirit of theory and speculation, which prevail in Germany. It seems to me, that the value of

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VOL. I.

economists and sensualists; never unlocking the secrets of our spiritual nature; never soaring into the regions of moral grandeur and beauty; and their literati still write and act as if they half believed, what no man can entirely believe, that death is an eternal sleep. Italy has her pastorals, and Spain has her ballads; but England, blessed old England, has poured on us the treasures of some of the greatest geniuses, combined with the purest hearts, that ever wrote. It is a privilege to say, that the language of Milton is your mother tongue; that the songs of Watts were sung over your cradle ; and that your religious sentiments were formed by such writers as Hooker, and Owen, and Baxter, and Edwards, and Butler, who often combine the warmest piety with the most rigid demonstration, and sometimes with the most persuasive eloquence. These are stars, whose lustre I never look to see surpassed; and I repeat it, it is the richest blessing to be born under the beneficent influence of these constellations of our northern sky.

There was one department of literature, which, for a long time, the English were supposed to be deficient in, and that is, historical composition. It is now believed, however, since Hume, and Gibbon, and Dr. Robertson, of Scotland, have produced their elaborate performances, that this reproach has been wiped away. Each of these anthors have a high name, not certainly to be acquired without great merit ; but I am afraid, if the removing of the reproach of our historical deficiency depends on them, it must still remain. If the merit of history depends upon holding up an unwrinkled mirror, to reflect, in perfection, past events, it is certain this praise must be withheld from two of them, at least. Besides, the whole style and character which they have given to historical writing, in my opinion, is wrong. Written history should flow over the events of time, like a

German literature has been vastly overrated. No doubt their biblical critics have brought some new lights to illustrate the Scriptures. But strip them of their extravagant theories, and how little will remain. The same erudition, brought to a subject, when it is shown enlarged through the mists of some ingenious hypothesis, appears much greater than when arranged to establish the antiquated dictates of common sense. Whatever value these German geniuses may have, it has always been lost in the importing. Their worth is too fugitive to endure the ordeal of a translation. Whatever is their own, is false; and whatever is true, we have heard before. Their dramatic writers are too little like Shakspeare, and their critics and commentators too much like Warburton. As I am somewhat an enemy to their reputation, I have malice enough to wish they might all be translated.

silver current over the pebbles of its bed, without a shaking of the water, to make it turbid, and almost without a refraction. The language should glide with the sweetest simplicity ; proper words in proper places ; for the object of history is not to color or magnify, but, like a glass window, to convey the conception of the landscape as it is, with all its beauties and imperfections. It is the last place in the world to indulge in what is erroneously called fine writing, which is but another name for fine deceiving. I wish to see Old Time arrayed in the multician and coan garments of antiquity, * and not wrapped in surplices and robes, like a bishop at the altar, or a lord on a court day, when the dress and the ceremony hide the shape and the character which we are most curious to see.

History professes to give us facts; and, therefore, if it misstates or misinterprets those facts, it becomes tenfold more deceiving. All our wisdom comes from experience ; and whatever is not within the compass of our own experience, comes from the testimony of others. The Ruler of the world is constantly reading us a lesson, in the execution of his providential laws. Now the transmission of this lesson depends upon the faithfulness of the record ; and, had history always been written as it ought, had moral causes and effects been always brought up before the mind, just as God, in his eternal laws, has connected them, I can conceive nothing more calculated to give the mind all the instruction that this world can afford. Unhappily, however, we are compelled, except in the pages of revelation, to see past time through a fallible medium. The objects surveyed are the works of God, performed indeed through the agency of man, but the medium is always artificial; we see them enlarged, diminished, distorted, through the prejudices of the writer—or, what is the greatest source of deception, we often have the truth, but not the whole truth. In such cases, truth itself has the effect of falsehood.

It is a melancholy circumstance, that history has so often fallen into the hands of men acute, rather than wise; willing rather to show their own intellectual omnipotence, than to give us a fair representation of real events ; men of perverted intellects and depraved hearts. Such men will certainly never reach the sublime and beautiful of history. No man

* Juvenal, Sat. II. 65 line.

can write well, unless his soul speaks ; unless his passions prompt his pen. He

may

be master of a very fine style ; he may draw his characters with much delicacy and discrimination; he may satirize folly, and sometimes make truth ridiculous; he may show great intellectual power ; power which we should admire in an ancient orator, or a modern lawyer. But, after all, he is not a good historian. He misleads the world, and perhaps himself.

Of all the men who have led the way in this perverted style of history, perhaps none have been more popular and successful than David HUME. The remark of Dr. Johnson, that no man ever became great by imitation, is not always true ; for when a great genius condescends to imitate an inferior model, he only shows how surprizingly he can surpass his pattern. Hume, in the general tenor of history, was an imitator of Voltaire ; and, although he wanted Voltaire's varied talents

Grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes
Augur, schænobates, medicus, magus : omnia novit.
Greculus esuriens in cælum, jusseris, ibit.

-Yet, in every requisite of a historian, he was greatly his superior. Seizing on the most enchanting period of English history, and writing in the careless and graceful style of a man of the world, he has produced a work which must always be read, and is calculated to have no small power over the public mind. This book is in all our libraries; is read by the young, in the course of their education; and, though the errors of the book have been elaborately pointed out by acute reviewers, yet something, perhaps, may be said, profitable to our own country.

It would be a matter of sorrow, in this late day, if one mind should be misled by sophistry so flimsy, though produced by abilities' so great.

The happiest literary productions are, when a peculiar man is brought to the execution of a task peculiarly fitted to his genius. There is an affinity between some minds and some subjects; they seem to revel on them, as congenial themes; there is an exquisite harmony between the author and his book; and we close the volume, saying, “This man was born for this purpose, and no other. The words flow as unlaboriously from his pen, as water from a fountain ; and every impression we receive, is a picture transmitted from soul to soul. Thus every reader rejoices that Milton's mind

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