The Works of William Robertson, D. D...: To which is Prefixed an Account of His Life and Writings, Volume 1

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Page 175 - There is a style which daily gains ground amongst us, which I should be sorry to see further advanced by the authority of a writer of your just reputation. The tendency of the mode to which I allude, is to establish two very different idioms amongst us, and to introduce a marked distinction between the English that is written and the English that is spoken. This practice, if grown...
Page 68 - But now the great map of mankind is unrolled at once, and there is no state or gradation of barbarism, and no mode of refinement which we have not at the same moment under our view...
Page 20 - I been such fools as to have given way to jealousy, to have entertained animosity and malignity against each other, and to have rent all our acquaintance into parties, what a noble amusement we should have exhibited to the blockheads, which now they are likely to be disappointed of. All the people whose friendship or judgment either of us value, are friends to both, and will be pleased with the success of both, as we will be with that of each other. I declare to you I have not of a long time had...
Page 13 - I expect with impatience your book, which you are so kind as to say you have ordered for me, and for which I already give you many thanks : the specimen I saw convinces me that I do not thank you rashly. Good historians are the most scarce of all writers ; and no wonder ! a good style is not very common ; thorough information is still more rare : and if these meet, what a chance that impartiality should be added to them ! Your style, sir, I may venture to say, I saw was...
Page 176 - But the allowances to necessities ought not to grow into a practice. Those portents and prodigies ought not to grow too common. If you have, here and there, (much more rarely, however, than others of great and not unmerited fame,) fallen into an error, which is not that of the dull or careless, you have an author who is himself guilty, in his own tongue, of the same fault, in a very high degree. No author thinks more deeply, or paints more strongly ; but he seldom or ever expresses himself naturally.
Page 33 - I have an objection to this subject. Though Charles V. was in a manner the Emperor of Europe, yet he was a German or a Spaniard. Consider, Sir, by what you must have found in writing the History of Scotland, how difficult it would be for the most penetrating genius of another country to give an adequate idea of Scottish story.
Page 57 - The History of the Reign of the Emperor Charles V.; with a View of the Progress of Society in Europe, from the Subversion of the Roman Empire to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century.
Page 88 - Voltaire, to connect with the view of political transactions, an examination of their effects on the manners and condition of mankind, and to blend the lights of philosophy with the appropriate beauties of historical composition. In consequence of this innovation, while the province of the historian has been enlarged and dignified, the difficulty of his task has increased in the same proportion ; reduced, as he must frequently be, to the alternative, either of interrupting unseasonably the chain...
Page 160 - I find, however, some good judges profess a great esteem for it, but habent et suafata libelli : however, if you want a little flattery to the author, (which I own is very refreshing to an author) you may tell him that Lord Chesterfield said to me he was a great poet. I imagine that Wilkie will be very much elevated by praise from an English earl, and a knight of the garter, and an ambassador, and a secretary of state, and a man of so great reputation. For I observe that the greatest rustics are...
Page 32 - ... modesty of a very middling author, and who I was told had passed his life in a small living near Edinburgh ; could I suspect that he had not only written what all the world now allows the best modern history, but that he had written it in the purest English, and with as much seeming knowledge of men and courts as if he had passed all his life in important embassies...

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