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Printed at Edinburgh for the Maitland Club. 1 vol.
ART. I. - 1. Memorials and Letters illustrative of the Life and
Times of John Graham, of Claverhouse, Viscount Dundee.
By MARK NAPIER. 3 vols. 8vo. Edinburgh : 1859-62. 2. The Case for the Crown in re the Wigton Martyrs proved to
be Myths versus Wodrow and Lord Macaulay, Patrick the Pedler and Principal Tulloch. By MARK NAPIER. Edinburgh: 1863. 'HE first volume of the Memorials of the Viscount Dundee'
was given to the public three years ago; and as the two concluding volumes have appeared more recently, we have now the work before us as a whole, and are able to judge fairly of its merits. It is confessedly designed as a sequel to the author's * Life and Times of Montrose,' a compilation of a Protean kind, which appeared at different times under four different titles and as many different sizes, reminding us, by the ingenuity with which the same materials were made to assume a great variety of shapes, of the transformations of the kaleidoscope. The two works embrace the fifty troublous years stretching from 1640 to 1690, and they are designed not merely to clear the fame of the two Scotch Royalist leaders from the mists of prejudice and passion, but to throw a new light upon the history of events in Scotland prior to the Revolution. According to Mr. Napier, all previous histories of these times have been written wrong: Charles I. was a saintly martyr, Charles II. a perfect gentleman, James II. a good-natured, kindly man; and the Covenanters, who were hunted, hanged, drawn, and quartered, got
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· only what they deserved. These opinions, conspicuous enough in the Life of Montrose, are stated with double energy in the Memorials of Dundee; and Mr. Napier, as we shall presently see, is at all times peculiarly energetic in his manner of speaking, excelling almost all living authors in his rich vocabulary of complimentary epithets.
As Mr. Napier differs from all previous historians of these times regarding historic truth, so does he differ from all previous bookmakers in the art of making his book. He is eminently original in his manner as well as his matter. Order and arrangement he has evidently regarded as beneath the notice of a man who has brought forth old documents from charter chests, and published them for the first time to the world. His volumes are à chaos, without form and void. We can trace no plan in them; and, in the midst of the confusion with which he envelopes us, it is only at distant intervals we can get a hold of the thread of his narrative. More than half of the first volume is devoted to lavish abuse of Wodrow, Lord Macaulay, and even Sir Walter Scott, which he speaks of as clearing the way for the advent of his hero in unclouded glory; and when at last the history is begun, it is so often interrupted that the author may indulge his peculiar instincts, that it seems like a slender stream of water slowly finding its way through waste land, and constantly hid from view by the useless sedges and thickets which grow upon its brink. He has no dread of redundancy or repetition. He will print the same letter three times at full length, and tell the same story half a dozen times, and allude to it again as many times more. It is thus that a life containing very few memorable incidents is swollen out into three volumes; and it requires a patience that will fag without hope of reward to read through them all. If we might venture to compare his method, or rather want of it, with that of any one else, it would be with Wodrow's, a writer whom he cordially hates, but whom he has nevertheless carefully studied; and in doing so may have become infected with his faults, as a man may catch contagion from an enemy
But Mr. Napier has high pretensions as a historian. He is no retailer of other men's goods,- no parrot repeating other men's tales,— no vendor of old fables, embellished and fitted for the modern market by a tinsel eloquence. He has dug for himself into the depths of antiquity, and disclosed its treasures. He has ransacked the archives of noble families, where no meaner scribe would be allowed to enter, and brought hidden things to light. Forty letters of Claverhouse has he rescued from oblivion, and from these, it is his proud boast, posterity will