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JANUARY, 1873.


Calendar of the State Papers relating to Ireland, of the reign of James I., 1603-1606; preserved; in Her Majesty's Public Record Office and elsewhere. Edited by the Rev. C. W. RUSSELL, D.D., and JOHN P. PRENDERGAST, Esq., Barrister-at-Law. London: Longman & Co.

VERY man, a great authority has told us, is born either

a Platonist or an Aristotelian. That remarkable saying, like many other sayings of its author, is somewhat esoteric and requires translation. It means that one half mankind has a tendency to take things for granted, and the other half (which, being Irish, we may say is very much the smaller) has a tendency to restrict its beliefs to what it has proved. Plato, rightly or wrongly, is supposed to be the representative man of the first class, that class of people who speak of the depth of a man's consciousness and the reach of a man's intentions. Aristotle is the ruler and leader of the second class, that class of people, who, no matter how splendid a stranger's appearance, suspect him at first of being a thief in disguise, and never think of offering him a seat in their house, till he has satisfied them of his honesty and told them the story of his life. Whether the Coleridgian principle holds with regard to all men, or whether, if it does, it is anything more than a dropsical truism, we shall not undertake to say. But it certainly holds with regard to all historians. Every historian is either a Platonist or an Aristotelian. The methods of writing history are all reducible to two, the method creative and the method inductive. The former has been adopted by persons of such eminence as Titus Livius, Oliver Goldsmith, and James Anthony Froude. Writers of this class proceed as was the custom with those geographers who, says Swift,

In Afric maps

With savage pictures fill their gaps,

And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
VOL. XX.—NO. XXXIX. [New Series.]


When they cannot find facts or will not find facts, they make them; and they have a very natural and very amiable preference for their own progeny. The writers, on the contrary, who follow the inductive method, deal with fact only, and that not of subjective origin. Their number is not large, and their success has not been striking. Their productions are generally wanting in literary completeness and are rarely glorified by the vision and the faculty divine. But they are content with incompleteness as long as they retain certainty, and resign fancies without a murmur if they are permitted to possess truth.

If those who have undertaken to write the history of Ireland have generally adopted the creative method, we are not disposed to think them very much to blame. They could hardly help it. The most important of the real facts of Irish history were, till very lately, either altogether unknown, or known only under deceptive shapes. And it was next to impossible to know them, face to face, and in their natural form. They were hidden away in all manner of almost inaccessible corners and almost undecipherable parchments; and the unlucky wight who went in quest of them, was likely to retire discomfited at last, with, possibly, an exhausted purse, and probably an exhausted patience. But a better time has come. The thoughts of men have been much widened by the process of the suns. The liberality of contemporary statesmen has brought to exhume the materials of Irish history what alone was equal to the task-State interference. The history of Ireland since the time of Henry II. is little more than the history of its relations with England. The true condition of those relations would be most credibly described in the State documents of both countries; and, by the publication of those documents, the student would have an opportunity of getting a true glimpse of the Ireland of the past. These documents, as is known, are being published now, at the public expense, and with the best editorial aids which the country possesses. In the volume now before us we have all the procurable official papers referring to the first three and a half years of the reign of James I. And these supply us, we may say at once, with abundant materials for at least one chapter in the history of Ireland.

When we mention that the present collection has been made and edited by Dr. Russell, of Maynooth, and Mr. John P. Prendergast, the editors of the Carte Papers, we say enough to make the reader aware that, in so far as editorship is concerned, the volume is faultless. In this department of literature, as in many others, Dr. Russell's character stands so high

that his name as editor is a sufficient guarantee that the edition has had all the advantages which the most extensive learning and the best culture can impart. And the reader's highest expectations will be more than realized by the present volume. In the preface, which extends over more than a hundred pages, he will find an extent and minuteness of historical, biographical, and archæological knowledge which are truly wonderful; and in the general index he will find a completeness and conciseness and precision of reference which are not the less valuable because they are so rare. But it is not in the preface, nor in the general index, that the literary ability of the editors becomes most conspicuous: it is in the papers themselves. These, often the offspring of very roving and very irregular minds, are so excellently managed, everything worth keeping being undisturbed, nothing that would be impertinent being retained; the peculiar manner and phraseology of the original writers are so well preserved; and the selections for full verbal quotation are so judicious, that the documents possess, apart from their historical value, a large amount of dramatic interest. They have not lost in Dr. Russell's hands what they would have lost in the hands of less gifted editors, the pathetic marks which remind us that they are the utterances of men dead and buried and judged for more than two hundred years.

The labour of making and editing the collection must have been immense. Had the editors confined themselves to the papers in the Public Record Office, their work, though in itself sufficiently serious, would have been comparatively slight. But, with the sanction of the Master of the Rolls, they have resolved upon publishing "a complete Calendar of all the State Papers relating to Ireland under James I, wherever they are deposited"; and the present volume is the first instalment of the fulfilment of their undertaking. To give the reader a faint idea of the mere physical editorial toil of which this Calendar is the result, it is only necessary to name the sources from which the papers have been derived. These the editors in their preface modestly refer to under a few general heads," the Public Record Office, the Library of the British Museum, the Lambeth Library, the Bodleian Library, Oxford, the Library of Trinity College, Dublin, and other less accessible quarters." But these are merely the localities where the documents are to be found; and in each of these localities there exist various separate collections every one of which had to be visited and examined. In the Public Record Office, London, there are the Conway Papers and the General Collection; in the British Museum, there are the Cottonian MSS.,

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