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THE THIRD VOLUME
SIR WILLIAM TEMPLE'S LETTERS, 1703.*
The following papers are the last of this, or indeed of any kind, about which the author ever gave me his particular commands. They were corrected by himself, and fairly transcribed in his lifetime. I have in all things followed his directions as strictly as I could; but accidents unforeseen having since intervened, I have thought convenient to lessen the bulk of this volume. To which end, I have omitted several letters addressed to persons with whom this author corresponded without any particular confidence, farther than upon account of their posts: because great numbers of such letters, procured out of the office, or by other means, (how justifi. able I shall not examine,) have been already printed : but, running wholly upon long dry subjects of business, have met no other reception than merely what the reputation of the author would give them. If I could
* This was a separate publication, intended to complete the series of Temple's political correspondence.
the publication of the following papers. They seemed to think, that the freedom of some passages in these Memoirs might give offence to several who were still alive; and whose part in those affairs which are here related, could not be transmitted to posterity with any advantage to their reputation. But whether this objection be in itself of much weight, may perhaps be disputed ; at least it should have little with me, who am under no restraint in that particular ; since I am not of an age to remember those transactions, nor had any acquaintance with those persons whose counsels or proceedings are condemned, and who are all of them now dead.
But, as this author is very free in exposing the weakness and corruptions of ill ministers, so he is as ready to commend the abilities and virtue of others, as may be observed from several passages of these Memoirs ; particularly of the late Earl of Sunderland, with whom the author continued in the most intimate friendship to his death ; and who was father of that most learned and excellent lord, now secretary of state : as likewise, of the present Earl of Rochester; and the Earl of Godolphin, now lord treasurer, represented by this impartial author as a person at that time deservedly entrusted with so great a part in the prime ministry; an office he now executes again with such universal applause, so much to the Queen's honour and his own, and to the advantage of his country, as well as of the whole confederacy
There are two objections I have soinetimes heard to have been offered against those Memoirs that were printed in the author's life-time, and which these now published may perhaps be equally liable to. First, as to the matter; that the author speaks too much of himself: next, as to the style; that he affects the use of French words, as well as some turns of expression peculiar to that language.
I believe, those who make the former criticism do not well consider the nature of memoirs : it is to the French (if I mistake not) we chiefly owe that manner of writing: and Sir William Temple is not only the first, but I think the only Englishman, (at least of any consequence,) who ever attempted it. The best French memoirs are writ by such persons as were the principal actors in those transactions they pretend to relate, whether of wars or negotiations. Those of Sir William Temple are of the same nature; and therefore, in my judgment, the publisher* (who sent them into the world without the author's privity) gave them a wrong title, when he called them “ Memoirs of what passed in Christendom,” &c. whereas it should rather have been “Memoirs of the Treaty at Nimeguen,” which was plainly the sense of the author, who in the epistle tells his son, that " in compliance with his desire, he will leave him some memoirs of what passed in his public employments abroad ;" and in the book itself, when he deduces an account of the state of war in Christendom, he says, , it is only to prepare the reader for a relation of that famous treaty; where he and Sir Lionel Jenkins were the only mediators that continued any considerable time; and as the author was first in commission, so in point of abilities or credit, either abroad or at home, there was no sort of comparison between the two persons. Those memoirs, therefore, are properly a relation of a general treaty of peace, wherein the author had the principal as well as the most honourable part in quality of mediator; so that the frequent mention of himself seems not only excusable but necessary. The same may be offered in defence of the following papers ; because, during the greatest part of the period they treat of, the author was in chief confidence with the king his master. To which
* They were first published in 1689, by R. Chiswell, whose advertisement is preserved in Temple's Works, vol. II. p. 242.
be added, that, in the few preliminary lines at the head of the first page, the author professes he writ those
“ for the satisfaction of his friends hereafter, upon the grounds of his retirement, and his resolution never to meddle again with public affairs." As to the objection against the style of the former Memoirs, that it abounds in French words and turns of expression ; it is to be considered, that at the treaty of Nimeguen, all business, either by writing or discourse, passed in the French tongue; and the author having lived so many years abroad, in that and foreign embassies, where all business, as well as conversation, ran in that language, it was hardly possible for him to write upon public affairs without some tincture of it in his style, though in his other writings there be little or nothing of it to be observed ; and as he has often assured me, it was a thing he never affected; so, upon the objections made to his former Memoirs, he blotted out some French words in these, and placed English in their stead, though perhaps not so significant.
There is one thing proper to inform the reader, why these Memoirs are called the Third Part, there having never been published but one part before, where, in the beginning, the author mentions a former part, and in
the conclusion promises a third. The subject of the first part was chiefly the triple alliance, during the negociation of which my Lord Arlington was secretary of state and chief minister. Sir William Temple often assured me, he had burnt those Memoirs; and for that reason was content his letters during his embassies at the Hague and Aix-la-Chapelle, should be printed after his death, in some manner to supply that loss.
What it was that moved Sir William Temple to burn those first Memoirs, may perhaps be conjectured from some passages in the second part, formerly printed. In one place, the author has these words : “ My Lord Arlington, who made so great a figure in the former part of these Memoirs, was now grown out of all credit,” &c. In other parts he tells us, " That lord was of the ministry which broke the triple league; advised the Dutch war and French alliance; and, in short, was the bottom of all those ruinous measures which the court of England was then taking;" so that, as I have been told from a good hand, and as it seems very probable, he could not think that lord a person fit to be celebrated for his part in forwarding that famous league while he was secretary of state, who had made such counterpaces to destroy it. At the end I have subjoined an Appendix, containing, besides one or two other particulars, a Speech of Sir William Temple's in the House of Commons; and an Answer of the King's to an Address of that House, relating to the Bill of Exclusion; both which are mentioned in these Memoirs.
I have only farther to inform the reader, that, although these papers were corrected by the author, yet he had once intended to insert some additions in seve