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THE

HISTORY OF ENGLAND

TO THE DEATH OF GEORGE THE SECOND.

BY OLIVER GOLDSMITH, M.B.

CONTINUED TO THE

CORONATION OF QUEEN VICTORIA

BY

THE REV. G. N. WRIGHT, M.A.

AUTHOR OF “LIFE AND REIGN OF WILLIAM THE POURTH."

ILLUSTRATED WITH PORTRAITS OF ALL THE SOVEREIGNS OF ENGLAND; AND OF

THE MOST CELEBRATED NAVAL COMMANDERS, &c. &c.

VOL. I.

FISHER, SON, & CO.
NEWGATE STREET LONDON; & QUAI DE L'ECOLE, PARIS.

PREFACE.

The History of England, by Dr. Goldsmith, has so long and fully secured a fixed reputation, by the perspicuity of the style, and the fidelity of the narrative, that any observations upon its peculiar merits would be superfluous. Though confessedly nothing more than a compendium of our national annals, it exhibits all the prominent events necessary to be known, correctly, and delineates the characters that pass under review with impartiality. The plan of the work, however, has been so clearly explained by the author himself, that it would be unjust to state it in any other language than his own.

“ To attain the greatest number of advantages with the fewest inconveniences, is all that can be attained in an abridgment, the very name of which implies imperfection. It will be sufficient, therefore, to satisfy the writer's wishes, if the present work be found a plain, unaffected narrative of facts, with just ornament enough to keep attention awake, and with reflection barely sufficient to set the reader upon thinking. Very moderate abilities were equal to such an undertaking: and it is hoped the performance will satisfy such as take up books to be informed or amused, without much considering who the writer is, or envying him any success he may have had in a former compilation.

“As the present publication is designed for the benefit of those who intend to lay a foundation for future study, or desire to refresh their memories upon the old, or who think a moderate share of history sufficient for the purposes of life, recourse has been had only to those authors which are best known; and those facts only have been selected, which are allowed on all hands to be true. Were an epitome of history the field for displaying erudition, the author could show that he has read many books which others have neglected, and that he also could advance many anecdotes which are at present very little known. But it must be remembered, that all those minute recoveries could be inserted, only to the exclusion of more material facts, which it would be unpardonable to omit. He foregoes, therefore, the petty ambition of being thought a reader of forgotten books; his aim being, not to add to our present stock of history, but to contract it.

“The books which have been used in this present abridgment, are chiefly Rapin, Carte, Smollet, and Hume. They have each their peculiar admirers, in proportion as the reader is studious of historical antiquities, fond of minute anecdote, a warm partisan, or a deliberate reasoner. Of these I have particularly taken Hume for my guide, as far as he goes; and it is but justice to say, that wherever I was obliged to abridge his work, I did it with reluctance, as I scarce cut out a line that did not contain a beauty.

“But though I must warmly subscribe to the learning, elegance, and depth of Mr. Hume's history, yet I cannot entirely acquiesce in his principles. With regard to religion, he seems desirous of playing a double part, of appearing to some readers as if he reverenced it, and to others as if he

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ridiculed it. He seems sensible of the political necessity of religion in every state; but, at the same time, he would every where insinuate that it owes its authority to no higher an origin. Thus he weakens its influence, while he contends for its utility, and vainly hopes, that while freethinkers shall applaud his scepticism, real believers will reverence him for his zeal.

“ In his opinions respecting government, perhaps, also, he may be sometimes reprehensible; but in a country like ours, where mutual contention contributes to the security of the constitution, it will be impossible for an historian, who attempts to have any opinion, to satisfy all parties. It is not yet decided in politics, whether the diminution of kingly power in England, tends to increase the happiness or the freedom of the people. For my own part, far from seeing the bad effects of the tyranny of the great, in those republican states that pretend to be free, I cannot help wishing that our monarchs may still be allowed to enjoy the power of controlling the encroachments of the great at home. A king may easily be restrained from doing wrong, as he is but one man; but if a number of the great are permitted to divide all authority, who can punish them if they deserve it? Upon this principle, therefore, and not from any empty notion of divine or hereditary right, some may think I have leaned towards monarchy. But, as in the things I have hitherto written, I have neither allured the vanity of the great by Aattery, nor satisfied the malignity of the vulgar by scandal, as I have endeavoured to get an honest reputation by liberal pursuits, it is hoped the reader will admit my impartiality.”

The original work of Dr. Goldsmith has been very carefully revised, and advantage taken of later publications of acknowledged veracity and value, which have afforded several corrections of moment, and many collateral testimonies of facts inaccessible to the author. The Continuation, which extends to the coronation of queen Victoria, the 28th of June 1838, is written in a style and manner the simplest and least affected. To imitate the easy, happy flow of Goldsmith would have been, perhaps, as difficult as inadvisable ; such attempt, therefore, is totally disclaimed: but the editor of the Continuation professes to have condensed even a greater number of facts into a given space than the author of the history, and so far claims the advantage as a chronicler. The principal merit, however, of this “Goldsmith’s England" consists in its numerous illustrations, not "too good” to elucidate our national annals, but far superior to any that have ever yet appeared in a History of our country, even of five times the price. As the history of England may be said to be essentially naval, the illustrations that adorn this edition are peculiarly suited to such a record, including likenesses of all the English sovereigns, from William the First to queen Victoria, inclusive, as well as portraits of the most distinguished naval heroes, and views of some celebrated sea-fights, in which the fleets of Great Britain were engaged. The originals of the former are locked up from the public in the cabinets of eminent persons—the others may be seen in Greenwich Hospital, and in the various noble institutions that are dedicated to the national happiness and honour over the land.

LONDON, 1838.

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