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on the recommendation of Lord Cobham, he was appointed by George the Second to the same place at Hampton Court. At a later period, he undertook the profession of "improver," and was commonly known by the name of "Capability Brown" from his frequent use of that word in speaking of any grounds submitted to his skill. He was a man of strict probity; and far unlike most promoters of any new system, could see the necessity of occasional deviation from his rules. Thus, when the King proposed to him to lay out afresh the gardens at Hampton Court he had the good sense and manliness to decline the unpromising attempt.*
* On Lancelot Brown see two notes in the Chatham Papers, vol. iv. p. 178. and 430. See also Uvedale Price's Essay on the Picturesque, vol. i. p. 258. It was Brown who, at Blenheim, converted a low marsh and scanty rill into a vast expanse of water; thus unconsciously depriving of all sting the epigram against the stately bridge which the great Duke had built.
"The lofty arch his high ambition shows,
"The stream an emblem of his bounty flows!"
DOCUMENTS FOR THE AMERICAN WAR.
The following is an extract of a letter addressed to the writer of this History by Robert Southey, Esq.
Keswick, August 13. 1832.
"When Jared Sparks was in England about five years "ago, our State Papers relating to America during the "War were examined in consequence of his inquiries. It "was then thought that our own story would bear telling "and ought to be told, and a circuitous application was "made to me to know whether I would undertake it. I "declined the proposal, because great part of my life "had been passed in preparing for other subjects, and "if they were left unfinished that labour would be lost. "But the American War is a fine subject, and treated as "you would treat it, with the same perfect fairness as the "Succession War, its history would vindicate the honour "of this country, at the same time that it rendered full "justice to the opposite cause."
Highly as I prized my lamented friend Mr. Southey's good opinion, I do not insert his letter without great doubt and hesitation, on account of the compliment to myself which it contains. But I feel desirous to record, in his own words, the proposal made to him, so much to his honour, by the British Government, to undertake a History of the American War—the sources from which, in his opinion, that history might be derived—and the spirit in which it should be written.
Since that time I have had full opportunity, like Mr. Jared Sparks, to examine the despatches to and from America in our State Paper Office. It seemed to me, however, that the information which they convey has been, to a great extent, anticipated by the large extracts laid before Parliament from time to time, as also by the pamphlets and speeches of British Generals as Howe and Burgoyne.
Since Mr. Southey's letter and according to his expectation, further and valuable extracts from these documents have been published by Mr. Jared Sparks, in the notes to the collected edition of Washington's Writings. Mr. Sparks's own share in these notes and illustrations is written not only with much ability, but in a spirit, on most points, of candour and fairness; and the whole collection is of great historical interest and importance. I am bound, however, not to conceal the opinion I have formed, that Mr. Sparks has printed no part of the correspondence precisely as Washington wrote it, but has greatly altered, and, as he thinks, corrected and embellished it.
To support the charge which I had made, there here followed in the first edition some extracts from certain letters in Mr. Sparks's compilation, placed side by side with the same letters from the more recent biography of Reed, these last having been (as was stated) printed precisely from the original MSS. of Washington. Instead of these parallel passages it will be more satisfactory to myself and more just to Mr. Sparks, if I now reprint and insert a letter, which I wrote and published in the summer of 1852, explaining the progress of the controversy upon this subject, renouncing certain grounds of charge, and giving in more detail those to which I still adhere.