« AnteriorContinuar »
Old West Bridge and Gate at Gloucester.
that of the third Edward a well-forti
THE origin of the Walls of the city fied town had a castle and keep, a
of Gloucester is of the remotest antiquity.
The eastern and north-eastern part belonged most probably to the station placed there by the Romans. It is clear, from the account of Gildas, that the Britons, who derived the custom of walled towns from the Romans, afterwards kept them up. What is confirmatory that the walls of Gloucester have a Roman origin is, that according to the custom of that people, "not to build a wall where there is a fortification of water," there was here a want of wall upon the side of the Severn and the Marshes. When Wul
pher repaired the city, the walls were not probably neglected; at least it is certain that in the time of Alfred, cities were strongly walled and towered, to defend them from the Danes. As towns without walls were not deemed safe places for the lodging of an army, it is not singular that William the Conqueror, besides instigating the erection of Gloucester Castle, should fortify the north-east and south sides with a strong embattled wall and gates. Kings, nobles, and all their followers, were expected personally to work at the reparation of walls in times of danger. The Roman equites did the same. In the murage of London, in the fifteenth century, the different trading companies took a share of the expense. Several writs of murage were issued during the reigns of Henry Ill. and the two first Edwards. In
towered wall, and a double ditch; and in this æra, Thomas de Bradston, constable of the Castle, who died in 1360, was "the special meanes for walling of Gloucester town." The tolls or fee-farm-rents were then and subsequently applied to murage; and in the sixteenth century, the walls are noted by Leland to be strong and so I continued till the demolition of them in 1662, with castles and other fortifications, on account of the mischief experienced from them during the civil war.
The gates of our ancient cities, however, remained, and generally added much to the picturesque effect of the streets; but these have of late years for the most part given way to real or fancied improvement.
Many ancient bridges have also lately been destroyed, to make room for more convenient successors; and this improvement took place at GlouCester about 1809, when the Old West Bridge and Gate, shewn in the annexed view, (see Plate II.) were removed. The old bridge is supposed to have been built by Richard Walred in the reign of Henry II. At the end of bridges were generally guard-houses for soldiers. Of these, the chief at Gloucester was the West Gate. This was rebuilt in the reign of Henry VIII. and the custody of it was assigned to the porter of the senior Sheriff.
N. R. S. Fosbroke's Hist. of Gloucester.
ON THE STYLES OF HUME, GIBBON, and robertson.
Νυν δε τας κακιας ηδη ειπωμεν, όποσαι τοις-συγγραφουσι παρακολουθουσι.
"Just criticism demands, not only that every beauty and blemish be minutely pointed out in its different degree and kind, but also that the reason and foundation of excellencies and faults be accurately ascertained."-Adventurer, No. 49.
THE ancient complaints, that no eminent British altars have been raised to the Muse of History, and that no modern historian has rivalled the historians of antiquity, can now no longer be repeated. The works of Hume, of Gibbon, and of Robertson, are distinguished by such merit, both of narration and of style, as may be justly said to have equalled them with the historical productions of Rome, and to have exalted them above those of Greece. GENT. MAG. January, 1832.
Of these three great. writers, each was equally ambitious to be called the first historian of Britain. Each was equally sensible, too, of the difficulty of gaining the name to which he aspired; and equally resolute, persevering, and cautious, in the pursuit of it. Each knew that eminence in historical composition cannot be attained without much time and labour. Each was aware of the necessity of attention, not only to matter, but to style. Each
knew that facta dictis sunt exæquenda, that the manner of telling must be suited to what is told; that the noblest subject, and the finest thoughts, may be rendered unattractive or offensive by an inappropriate dress; and that which displeases the ear, as Quintilian remarks, does not easily find entrance into the mind. They were therefore equally studious to attain excellence in style; but as their tastes were different, they cultivated styles of different kinds, and selected different models for imitation. Hume studied the simple manner of writing, Robertson the dignified, and Gibbon the florid. Hume, in consequence, became the most pleasing writer, Robertson the most elevated, and Gibbon the most ornate.
The History of HUME is, I think, regarded by the majority of readers with more decided approbation than that of either of his rivals. Hume's merits in narration are very great. He was, as Hayley remarks, skilled to form a tale. His story is always equable, natural, and easy; he had the great art of saying just enough to satisfy, without satiating, his reader; he leaves him nothing to desire, and offends him with nothing superfluous. He knew what was to be noticed, and what to be omitted; he seizes only on the prominent points of his subject, and neglects whatever is not essential to it. He speaks always to the purpose; his transitions are never abrupt, his reflections never impertinent, and his digressions never tedious or unnecessary. Whatever he has to tell, he tells in the place where it is fittest to be told.
His style is remarkable for sweetness and ease, for perspicuity of phrase, and modulation of period. Such is its appearance of ease, that it might seem to have been formed without study or elaboration; yet we are assured by Lord Woodhouselee," who had perhaps better means of learning what Hume's studies of which himself has told us nothing, and of which but little has been ascertained—had been, than any other writer that has spoken of them, that it was the cultivated fruit of long practice, and a sedulous attention to those models which he esteemed the best." "Hume," adds his Lordship, was an admirer of simplicity and ease in composition, and he ap
• Memoirs of Lord Kaimes, vol. i. p. 236.
pears to have bestowed his attention chiefly on the writers in whom those qualities are most conspicuous. He was partial to the French belles-lettres writers, and admired particularly the easy and familiar style of their moralists and critics, as Montagne, Charron, Rochefoucault, Bonhours, and Fontenelle; and his study of these authors, as well as his long residence in France, not only contributed to the formation of his style and manner of composition, but have given to his writings even a tincture of the French idiom. In his Essay on Simplicity and Refinement, he acknowledges his own particular taste, in the following observation, which he gives as one of the rules for attaining to good composition: "I shall deliver it," says he,
as a third observation, that we ought to be more on our guard against the excess of Refinement, than that of Simplicity; and that, because the former excess is both less beautiful and more dangerous than the latter." Among the English authors, Addison was the writer he most admired for his style; and he seems to have formed his own chiefly on the model, and on the writers whose characteristics were ease and familiarity, rather than elevation, or even correctness, as Shaftesbury and Temple."
His attention to the French writers seems to have been given chiefly in the early part of his life, at or before the time when he wrote the works which are now called his Essays, whose style has much more resemblance to the French than that of his History. He, however, retained his favourable regard for French to a much later period; for he remarks, in his account of the reign of William I., that the mixture of French, which the Conqueror's regulations, and the intercourse of the invaders with the natives, introduced into the English tongue, composes the best part of our language.
That he formed the style of his History on the style of Addison, he that compares the two writers will find no great difficulty in believing; for he will see that the sentences of the one have a close resemblance in structure to those of the other. Hume's style, indeed, is more correct, and more full and verbose, than that of Addison but Addison may be easily supposed to have been Hume's master. Of
Styles of Hume, Gibbon, and Robertson-HUME.
Swift's style Hume, was no admirer; he even spoke of it as having no harmony, no eloquence, no ornament, and not much correctness."
His labour, however great it may have been, is always happily concealed. His reader is never offended by any. thing forced or affected; he exercises his art so successfully that no man perceives that it has been exercised. All seems easy and unstudied. His "careless inimitable beauties," says Gibbon," "have often forced me to close his volumes with a mingled sensation of delight and despair.'
But his style is not faultless; and, as it has always been thought a useful part of criticism to point out the defects of a great author, that succeeding writers, whether able to reach his excellencies or not, may at least avoid his improprieties, I shall think no apology necessary for bringing to notice the defects and inelegancies in his language. I shall likewise take the same liberty with the styles of Gibbon and Robertson. If any of my remarks shall be thought minute, let it be remembered that no blemish is too small to be noticed; that equal freedom has been used by the Guardian in pointing out the faults of style in Lord Bacon's History of Henry VII., a freedom which has hitherto passed uncensured; and that Hume himself has observed,d that "no criticism can be instructive, that descends not to particulars, and is not full of examples and illustrations."
Hume's chief deficiency is a want of vigour and energy, such as distinguishes the style of some of our earlier English authors, who wrote when neatness and polish of language was less studied; such as forces the reader onward with an irresistible impulse; such as compels him that begins, to proceed. Hume's periods are elegant, but not vigorous; they flow with smoothness, but not with rapidity.
His other faults are of a minor sort; such, for the most part, as affect, not the general character of his style, but the beauty or elegance of particular sentences or passages. Like many other writers, he was not always cautious to keep his own composition
b Letter to Robertson, in Stewart's Life of Robertson, sect ii.
Miscell. Works, vol. i. p. 122.
free from those blemishes which he disapproved in that of others. To the sentence which he censured in Robertson, "This step was taken in consequence of the treaty Wolsey had concluded with the emperor at Brussels, and which had hitherto been kept secret," saying that it should have been which Wolsey," &c., and adding that "the relative ought very seldom to be omitted, and is here particularly requisite to preserve a symmetry between the two members." Many sentences similar in inaccuracy may be found in his own pages: These advantages, possessed by the church, and which the bishops did not always enjoy with suitable modesty," "Froissard, a contemporary writer, and very impartial, but whose credit is somewhat impaired by his want of exactness in material facts,"-" Williams, bishop of Lincoln, a man of spirit and learning, a popular prelate, and who had been lord keeper." h also objected to Robertson's adoption of the word wherewith, but allowed himself to use thereby, which to a nice ear is equally offensive. He cried out against the fancy which Robertson had taken of saying an hand, an heart, an head, yet could not keep himself from saying an union, an unity; expressions which are surely not less reprehensible.
It is somewhat strange that a writer who criticised thus minutely should not have rejected from his pages the expression you was: "You was my counsellor and assistant in all my schemes: you was the director of my conscience." Equally unaccountable is his admission of the phrase besides that: "But James, besides that he had certainly laid no plan for extending his power, had no money to support a splendid court, or bestow on a numerous retinue of gentry and nobility."k Of the phrase_now that:
Now that the aids of France were withdrawn." Of whether that: "Whether that such were his real sentiments, or that he hoped.' And of whence ever: “They cast their eyes on
Stewart's Life of Robertson, sect. ii.
Ch. xvii. vol. iii. p. 28.
h Ch. lii. vol. vi. p. 310.
i Ch. ii. vol. i. P. 119.
[vi. p. 169. Appendix to the Reign of James I. vol. 1 Ch. xlvii. vol. vi. p. 82.
in Ch. xxxvi. vol, iv. p. 73.
all sides,—whence ever they could expect any aid or support.' Nor will his frequent use of the phrases to wit, any wise, and no wise, or his adoption of the participles creeped, sitten, gotten, and outed, add much to his character for elegance and taste in the judgment of readers of the present day.
Expressions of the following kind: "On account of his being born among them;" "The stories of his accusing her, and of her justifying herself;" "A reason for their supporting his "" q 'We perhaps admire the more those beauties, on account of their being surrounded with such deformities; ""The coming to any dangerous extremity ;' "The taking prisoner in battle the bishop of Beauvais;" t Her offence was not the having laid her hand upon the crown, but the not rejecting it with sufficient constancy;""This princess's espousing a person of his power and character;" w - he considered, I suppose, with many other writers, that the genius of the language admitted; but it would certainly be much to the advantage of the language if they were wholly excluded from it. The only writer that seems to have been solicitous to exclude them is Johnson.
Hume has fallen, like most other English authors of his day, into the absurd use of the past tense of the infinitive for the present: "John intended to have hanged the governor and all the garrison;" """ % " 'Wolsey intended to have enriched the library of his college at Oxford."y It may appear singular that the absurdity of such phrases did not occur to every man who formed them. John did not intend to have hanged the governor, nor did Wolsey intend to have enriched his college; John's intention was to hang, and Wolsey's to enrich. A man intends or resolves to do a thing, not to have done it. Equal inaccuracy, though of a different kind, is seen in the sentence, "It might prove extremely dan
gerous for Suffolk, with such intimidated troops, to remain any longer in the presence of so courageous and victorious an enemy;"' propriety certainly requires it might have proved.
In defence of the phrases expelled, banished, dismissed the kingdom, in the use of which Hume and Goldsmith equally indulged themselves, nothing can be alleged; nor has any one, I believe, so far departed from common sense as to attempt to allege any thing in their defence.
He sometimes descends, through too great a love of simplicity and ease, to familiar and mean phraseology. Henry VIII. learned that the Duke of Guise's daughter was "big_made;" "Two sons of the Duke of Norfolk by a second venter;" "b"We shall be better able to comprehend the subject, if we take the matter a little higher.” e His use of the words no wonder that, at the beginning of a sentence, without any words preceding them, is not much to be commended: "No wonder that during the reign of Henry VII. these matters were frequently mistaken." d
He frequently exhibits, I know not whether to say a strange want of skill in connecting the last part of a sentence happily with the first, or a perverse desire to give an example of a stiffer construction of period than any preceding author had ventured to give. "Profound capacity, indeed, undaunted courage, extensive enterprise; in these particulars, perhaps, the Roman do not much surpass the English worthies;' ;”e “The narrow streets of London, the houses built entirely of wood, the dry season, and a violent east wind, which blew; these were SO many concurring circumstances; "Royalist, republican; churchman, sectary; courtier, patriot; all parties concurred in the illusion;" "Severe, but open in his enmities, steady in his counsels, diligent in his schemes, brave in his enterprises, faithful, sincere, and honourable in his dealings with all men: such was the character with which the Duke of York mounted 2 Ch. xx. vol. 3, p. 149.
Ch. xxxii. vol. 4, p. 201.