**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


Falsification Of English History
by [?]

Now that I am on the subject of English History, I will notice one of the thousand mis-statements of Hume’s which becomes a memorable one from the stress which he has laid upon it, and from the manner and situation in which he has introduced it. Standing in the current of a narrative, it would have merited a silent correction in an unpretending note: but it occupies a much more assuming station; for it is introduced in a philosophical essay; and being relied on for a particular purpose with the most unqualified confidence, and being alleged in opposition to the very highest authority [viz. the authority of an eminent person contemporary with the fact] it must be looked on as involving a peremptory defiance to all succeeding critics who might hesitate between the authority of Mr. Hume at the distance of a century from the facts and Sir William Temple speaking to them as a matter within his personal recollections. Sir William Temple had represented himself as urging in a conversation with Charles II., the hopelessness of any attempt on the part of an English king to make himself a despotic and absolute monarch, except indeed through the affections of his people. [5] This general thesis he had supported by a variety of arguments; and, amongst the rest, he had described himself as urging this–that even Cromwell had been unable to establish himself in unlimited power, though supported by a military force of eighty thousand men. Upon this Hume calls the reader’s attention to the extreme improbability which there must beforehand appear to be in supposing that Sir W. Temple,–speaking of so recent a case, with so much official knowledge of that case at his command, uncontradicted moreover by the king whose side in the argument gave him an interest in contradicting Sir William’s statement, and whose means of information were paramount to those of all others,–could under these circumstances be mistaken. Doubtless, the reader will reply to Mr. Hume, the improbability is extreme, and scarcely to be invalidated by any possible authority–which, at best, must terminate in leaving an equilibrium of opposing evidence. And yet, says Mr. Hume, Sir William was unquestionably wrong, and grossly wrong: Cromwell never had an army at all approaching to the number of eighty thousand. Now here is a sufficient proof that Hume had never read Lord Clarendon’s account of his own life: this book is not so common as his ‘History of the Rebellion;’ and Hume had either not met with it, or had neglected it. For, in the early part of this work, Lord Clarendon, speaking of the army which was assembled on Blackheath to welcome the return of Charles II., says that it amounted to fifty thousand men: and, when it is remembered that this army was exclusive of the troops in garrison–of the forces left by Monk in the North–and above all of the entire army in Ireland,–it cannot be doubted that the whole would amount to the number stated by Sir William Temple. Indeed Charles II. himself, in the year 1678 [i.e. about four years after this conversation] as Sir W. Temple elsewhere tells us, ‘in six weeks’ time raised an army of twenty thousand men, the completest–and in all appearance the bravest troops that could be any where seen, and might have raised many more; and it was confessed by all the Foreign Ministers that no king in Christendom could have made and completed such a levy as this appeared in such a time.’ William III. again, about eleven years afterwards, raised twenty- three regiments with the same ease and in the same space of six weeks. It may be objected indeed to such cases, as in fact it was objected to the case of William III. by Howlett in his sensible Examination of Dr. Price’s Essay on the Population of England, that, in an age when manufactures were so little extended, it could ever have been difficult to make such a levy of men–provided there were funds for paying and equipping them. But, considering the extraordinary funds which were disposable for this purpose in Ireland, etc. during the period of Cromwell’s Protectorate, we may very safely allow the combined authority of Sir William Temple–of the king–and of that very prime minister who disbanded Cromwell’s army, to outweigh the single authority of Hume at the distance of a century from the facts. Upon any question of fact, indeed, Hume’s authority is none at all.