« PreviousContinue »
THE BREAKING OUT OF THE WAR IN 1792, TO THE RESTORATION
OF A GENERAL PEACE, IN 1815;
THE CIVIL HISTORY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND FRANCE
DURING THAT PERIOD.
BY EDWARD BAINES.
AN ORIGINAL HISTORY OF THE LAST WAR BETWEEN THE
UNITED STATES AND GREAT BRITAIN.
BY WILLIAM GRIMSHAW,
In Cm Volames.
ASTOR. LENOX AN ALDEN FOUNDATIONE
R 1.2 L
ENTERED according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five,
By M. CARTY & DAV18,
TO THE FOURTH AMERICAN EDITION.
The following history of that extraordinary period which commenced with the American Revolution, and ended with the establishment of a general peace in Europe, in 1815—a period pre-eminently distinguished for intellectual activity and material advancement, for extraordinary characters and great deeds, for the overthrow of old institutions and the establishment of new ones, for the breaking up of tyrannies dishonoured with the hoar of centuries, and the progress of libertyit has generally been allowed, is upon the whole the most judicious, interesting, and trustworthy, that we have yet in the English language. The expectation that the brilliant work of Alison would supersede it has been disappointed by the manifest spirit of partiality and injustice with which that performance is written, especially in respect to every point connected with the affairs of our own country. The "History of the French Revolution,” by Carlyle, covers but a small portion of the ground embraced by Alison and Baines; and the more elaborate and extensive survey of the field by Thiers, it is safe to say, will never be perfectly naturalized in any tongue foreign to that eminent author. For conscientious fidelity, general good sense, statesmanlike grasp, and moral discrimination, these volumes, by the eminent EDWARD BAINES, continue to be consulted and esteemed by the best-informed students of the astonishing world-drama they describe.
In republishing an earlier edition of this excellent history, the late well-known and very able writer, Mr. WILLIAM GRIMSHAW (who died in Philadelphia on the 8th of January, 1852), was employed to re-write some portions in which American interests were treated, and to illustrate with such notes and additions as were necessary for the American reader, the remaining portions of the work. The manner in which he performed his difficult and important duty has been commended by the most distinguished critics. As Mr. Grimshaw left the work, and as it is here presented to the public, it must command the most entire and general approbation.
New York, January, 1852.
THE FIRST AM E. RIC AN EDITION.
WHEN the reprinting of this work was undertaken by the American publishers, it was placed in the hands of the present editor, for the purposes of revisal and correction. Without intersering at all with the text, it was proposed to annex notes to such parts of it as might be found erroneous or objectionable ; and to add such information as the progress of time has since brought to light. The editor has found little occasion, as the reader will observe, for the exercise of this duty. When the great extent of the work is considered, Mr. Baines must, upon the whole, be regarded as remarkably accurate in his narrative of the European contest, or, at least, of those parts of it in which his countrymen were not concerned. With respect to the war, however, between the United States and England, he is far from being candid or impartial. The whole history of that contest, in the English edition, is indeed a tissue of mistakes, natural enough to an Englishman, who relied on the fidelity of British official statements, but plainly prejudicial to the cause of truth, and the interests of this country. To enter the lists in every case with Mr. Baines, to refute in a note almost every assertion of the text, would have swelled these pages to an enormous length, and wearied the patience of the reader, without, perhaps, giving him a satisfactory view of the contest. It was deemed most advisable, therefore, by the publishers, to cause this part of the work to be written anew ; and it is presumed, that this deviation from their original plan will not be unacceptable to the public. In the performance of this task, the editor has aimed at producing a concise, but clear and impartial relation of occurrences. His limits equally forbade his entering into minute details of military operations, and into the discussions of party measures or principles. No pains have been spared to obtain accurate information; the official accounts of each nation have been consulted ; but where any doubt has existed, he is not ashamed to say, he has invariably leaned to the side of his country.
AMERICAN STEREOTYPE EDITION.
The History of the Wars of the French Revolution, comprehending also the cotemporaneous Civil History of Great Britain and France, may justly be characterized as one of the most valuable records that ever issued from
It is a clear, impartial narrative; succinct, without injurious brevity, and dispassionate without descending to unanimated tameness. It is, indeed, as a whole, such a work as, in the present state of historical literature, where reliance for success is placed more in the previous reputation of the author, or the purchased eulogies of the reviewer, than in the real merits of the book itself—the world seldom sees. As a history of the events of which it professes peculiarly to treat, it has not even a competitor ; there being no publication with which I am acquainted, that makes any pretension to embrace so wide a field of interesting narrative; and as regards Scott's Life of Napoleon, which has relation chiefly to the transactions only in which that celebrated individual was personally concerned, it deserves not the name of Biography, much less the more dignified title of History; being a wild, unconcocted, chaotic mass, without date or method, slovenly in its composition, uneven in sentiment, defective in detail, and altogether such a work as Sir Walter Scott never would have written, except through necessity, nor any judicious critic would bave praised, except for pay.
Why, then, it may be asked, have the American Publishers employed an editor to make improvements in the present edition ? Because, correctly written 23 were the original volumes in general, yet some inaccuracies of language had occasionally crept in; here and there expressions were found, which, on a more careful revisal, were thought susceptible of some amendment; the punctuation was not so complete as strict grammatical rules prescribe, and many errors of the press had been committed, from which no copy of the original work, it is probable, was entirely free. Add to these reasons, the advantages afforded by time in bringing to light additional materials for history, many of which are now inserted in the body of this work, as if forming part of the author's text; and many facts, especially in relation to the domestic history of Great Britain and Ireland, within the cognizance of the present editor, have been appended, in the form of notes ; giving to the History a fresh interest