« VorigeDoorgaan »
ty, and the obscurity in which he sometimes thinks it prudent to involve them. To lessen this inconvenience, a few explanatory notes have been added.
Memoirs are the materials, and often the touchstone, of history; and even where they descend to incidents beneath her notice, they aid the studies of the antiquary and the moral philosopher. While, therefore, it is to be regretted, that the reserved temper of our nation has generally deterred our soldiers and statesmen from recording their own story, an attempt to preserve, explain, or render more generally accessible the works which we possess of this nature, seems to have some claim upon public favour.
AN honourable author, * who in a just piece of criticism, has exhibited so spirited a manner of writing, that he has given wit even to a dictionary, and vivacity to a catalogue of names, and has placed our royal and noble English writers in a more learned and eminent light than they have ever appeared before, having mentioned the Earl of Monmouth's Memoirs as a manuscript fit to be made public; in concurrence with his judgment, and from a desire to exhibit a new picture of Queen Eliza
* Horatio Walpole, youngest son of Sir Robert Walpole, Knight of the Garter, afterwards Earl of Orford.
beth and King James I., the following Memoirs are sent into the world, with such explanatory notes to the obscure and remarkable passages, as may possibly render those passages more intelligible and efficacious than they would otherwise have been.
Most, if not all, writers seem to imagine, that futurity must be as well acquainted as they themselves are, with the times, customs, and manners, of which they write; and in points that, although apparently minute, are really material, they give themselves so little trouble, that many of their works, for want of proper exactness and attention, fall under the dreaded curse either of obsoleteness or oblivion. For example, when a noble house is extinct, the title is frequently given away to some distant family, no ways related to the former; this title is still carried on in history, without inserting the change of the name; which trifling circumstance, to mention no other, often creates difficulties and confusion. A