1800 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

David Hume

George Hardinge, in "Miscellaneous Observations" 1800 ca.; Miscellaneous Works (1818) 3:130-31.



Lord Clarendon, perhaps unconsciously, and self-deceived, is an apologist for Charles the First; misled by his political devotion to the cause, and by his personal affection to the man.

Hume is a disingenuous and subtle agent for the entire House of Stuart.

This, in truth, is to make History the suborned evidence of political theories or factions; in other words, to institute, as a theme, an object in view, predetermined, and then to warp the facts in support of it. But there is another ground of undue partiality for the character. It is a kind of dramatic zeal for a model of excellence, real or supposed, which an eloquent painter designs to embellish with all his powers and graces of colouring.

This habit is well described by Middleton: "They work up their characters just as fashionable Painters do their portraits, conceiving the honour of their talents to consist not in copying Nature, but adorning her; not in drawing a just resemblance, but in giving a beautiful picture."

He seems to fear that he shall be guilty of it himself, and admits the peril which he must incur; but hopes to escape from the mischief, by relating the facts, and referring them to authentic testimonies in their support.

But if the mode of keeping his word, and of redeeming this pledge, is examined, it will be found that his authorities, which are heaped into a note at the foot of the page, are too often mutilated extracts from Cicero himself, who is never to be more suspected than when he affects to be his own Historian.