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and afterwards the metropolis of the East Angles; it will be fufficient to observe, that our topographical Historian has here collected together all that time has spared of its uneventful hiftory, during the successive governments of the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, in this island. He then proceeds to give a minute historical account of the various ecclefiaftical and civil establishments that have anciently been formed, or still subsist, in this place; particularly the bishopric, the various churches, priories, hospitals, manors, together with an account of Writers that have been natives of this town, ancient coins, natural history, &c. Under this last head, very little occurs, if we except a latin Thesis on a mineral water at this place, published in 1746 by the late Dr. Manning,

In an Appendix, are subjoined copies of various original papers relating to this borough, thirty-nine in number. We shall only extract a few particulars from the twenty-third ; which contains the account of John le Forrester, Mayor of the borough, in the tenth year of Edward III. A. 1336. It is so far curious, as it exhibits an authentic account of the value of many articles at that time; being a bill, insorted in the townbook, of the expences attending the sending two light horsemen from Thetford, to the army which was to march against the Scots that year.

1. d. "To two men chosen to go into the army against

Scotland For cloth, and to the taylor for making it into two gowns

o • For two pair of gloves, and a stick or staff « For two horses

115 of . For shoeing these horses • For two pair of boots for the light horsemen

2 8 • Paid to a lad for going with the Mayor' (to Lenn) to take care of the horses *

0 0 3 • To a boy for a letter at Lenn.' (viz. carrying it thither)

o 3 • Expences for the horses of two light horsemen for four days before they departed.

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The distance between Thetford and Lyrn is about 33 miles.

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ART. VII. An Esay towards attaining a true State of the Charaâer

and Reign of King Charles the First, and the Causes of the Civil War,
Extracted from and delivered in the very Words of some of the
most authentic and celebrated Historians ; viz. Clarendon, White.
lock, Burnet, Coke, Echard, Rapin, Tindal, Neal, &c. Printed
for W. Parker, Printer of the General Advertiser. 8vo, 3 s. 6 d.
1780.
HIS Essay was certainly written many years since; and,

possibly, it may have been published before ; though it
is now introduced to the world as a performance entirely new.
To us indeed it is new : and if it should chance to be an old
thing, we hope the candid Reader will put down our total ig-
norance of it to its true account.

This performance is almost wholly made up of extracts from
the histories of the several writers quoted in the title-page, and
of others whose names can throw no great lustre on quotation,
and will give but little authority to affertion.

In the Preface, the Collector gives a short account of the
principal authors from whom he profeffes to derive his informa-
tion respecting the character and reign of King Charles. Lord
Clarendon, with great propriety, takes the lead : but in the ac-
count of this noble historian, our Essayist, either from great
ignorance, or great malice, hath attempted to revive a calumny,
long fince refuted, respecting the authenticity of the History of
the Rebellion. This celebrated history, fays the present Wri-
ter, lies under strong suspicion, if not evident proof, of being
further softened and garbled in favour of that cause (viz. the
royal caufe) by many gross interpolations and alterations of the
Editors. One of them, the learned * Mr. Smith of Christ
Church, Oxon, acknowledged upon his death-bed, that him,
self had been concerned in it, " There was (laid he-and
they were some of his last words, of whose truth there can be
no doubt) a fine history written by Lord Clarendon ; but what
was published under his name was only patch-work, and might
as properly be called the History of and and
for to his knowledge it was altered; nay, that he himself was
employed by them to interpolate and alcer the original.'

This infamous flander, thrown on the characters of three very
diftinguifhed churchmen (viz. Dean Aldrich, Bihop Smal-
dridge, and Bishop Atterbury) fo haftily caught at by the wri-
ter of the present Effay, was first published to the world by Old-
migon in this Preface to the History of the Stuarts. The letter
which relates this precious anecdote is without a name : though

* Commonly called Rag Smith, or Captain Rag, on account of his flovenliness, owing to fociishness. Rev.

it

it afterwards turned out to be the production of a certain + Mr. Ducket, one of the leffer heroes of Pope's Dunciad. What is more to be wondered at than the letter itself, is a.circumstance which Mr. Oldmixon (whose truth was always supposed to be equal to his candour and judgment !) relates concerning the time when he was so fortunate as to receive the letter. “ I have, (fays this grave historian) in more than one place of my history, mentioned the great reason there is to suspect that the History of the Rebellion, as it was published at Oxford, was not entirely the work of the Lord Clarendon ; who did indeed write a history of those times, and I doubt not a very good one: wherein, as I have been told (and I beliove truly) the characters of the kings, whose reigns are here' written; were very different from what they appear in the Oxford history, and its copy, Mr. Echard's. I speak this by hearsay:. but bearjay from a person superior to all suspicion, and too illustrious to be named without leave." Mr. Oldmixon goes on to press the matter very hard on an honourable person, and a reverend doctor, who, for aught we know, may be gentlemen in the clouds; for, entrenched behind his fingular modesty, or something else, he secures himself by calling on no name, except the names of Mr. Smith, who hadi been dead near twenty years! “ There is now (says he) in the custody of a gentleman of distinction both for merit and quality, a Hiftory of the Rebellion, of the first folio edition, scored in many places by Mr. Edmund. Smitb. of Christ Church, Oxon, author of that excellent tragedy. Phadra and. Hippolitus, who himself altered the MS. history, and added what he has there marked, as: he confessed with some of his last words before his death. There alterations, written with his own hand, and to be seen by any one that knows it, may be published on another occafion, with a farther account of this discovery.

" In the mean time, for the satisfaction of the Public, I in. fert a letter entire, which I received since the last paragraph was written." Could any thing be more opportune? In a moment the point was brought to a decisive iffue ! In one paragraph the historian was speculating on hearsay. In the other, he was enabled to determine on pofitive evidence. Conjecture was reduced to certainty of a fudden. Surely there was something like conjuration in this !

But Dr. Johnson hath given us the best account of this matter; and we will transcribe what he hath said, on the subject, from his Remarks on the Life and Character of Smith, in his late admired edition of the Englifh Poets.

+ One of the authors of a most contemptible thing against Pope, entitled, Homerides, by Sir liad Doggrel. Rev.

" Having .“ Having formed his plan, and collected his materials, for a new tragedy (viz. of Lady Jane Grey) he declared that a few. months would complete his design: and that he might pursue his work with fewer avocations, he was, in June 1710, invited by Mr. George Ducket to his house at Gartham in Wiltshire. Here he found such opportunities of indulgence as did not much forward his studies, and particularly some strong ale, too delicious to be resisted. He ate and drank till he found himself plethoric: and then, resolving to cure himself by evacuation, he wrote to an apothecary in the neighbourhood a prescription of a purge, so forcible that the apothecary thought it his duty to delay it till he had given notice of its danger. Smith, not pleased with the contradiction of a shopman, and boastful of his own knowledge, treated the notice with rude contempt, and swallowed his own medicine, which, in July 1710, brought him to the grave. He was buried at Gartham.

“ Many I years afterwards Ducket communicated to Oldmixon the historian, an account pretended to have been received from Smith, that Clarendon's History was, in its publication, corrupted by Aldrich, Smallridge, and Atterbury, and that Smith was employed to forge and insert the alterations.

• The story was published triumphantly by Oldmixon, and may be supposed to have been eagerly received: but its progress was soon checked; for finding its way into the Journal of Trevoux, it fell under the eye of Atterbury, then an exile in France, who immediately denied the charge, with this remarkable particular, that he never in his whole life had once spoken to Smith :- his company being, as must be inferred (viz. from his abandoned morals, and gross licentiousness) not accepted by those who attended to their characters.

“ The charge was afterwards very diligently refuted by Dr. Burton of Eaton ; a man eminent for literature, and, though not of the fame party with Aldrich and Atterbury, too studious of truth to leave them burthened with a false charge. The testimonies which he hath collected have convinced mankind that either Smith or Ducket were guilty of wilful and malicious falsehood. This controversy brought into view those parts of Smith's life, which, with more honour to his names might have been concealed.”

Let all these circumstances be put together, and, we think, it will appear evident to every candid perfon, that the pretended discovery of which Oldmixon vaunted so freely, even in the title-page of his hiftory, was, in fact, nothing but an im

I Smith died in the year 1710, and Oldmixon's History was published in 1730. Rev.

posture,

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posture, invented solely for the purpose of detracting from the credit of Lord Clarendon's History, and fixing a foul opprobrium on some distinguished characters of the church, whose great talents had excited the envy of the adverse party.

As for the stress laid on Smith's dying declaration, it now appears that there was no foundation for the solemnity with w Och it is introduced. Ducket, in his letter; fimply says, that

Smith made him a visit about June 1710, and continued at his house about fix weeks, and died there. One would imagine, from the serious manner in which the writer of this Essay expresses himself, that Smith had made a formal discovery of the villany in which he had borne a part, with two Bishops and a Dean, from an honest impulse of conscience at the moment when he thought he was soon to appear before the great Judge of all; to give an account of himself and his actions. This was by po means the case. There is not the Nightest hint of such an awful process of confeffion, even in Ducket's letter ; and, from Dr. Johnson's account (which he had from the best authority) we learn that his death was too sudden and unexpected to admit of those particular enumerations of forged and interpolated passages, which Oldmixon, and this Writer after him, would fain make their readers believe were furreptitiously foisted into Lord Clarendon's History.

We are obliged, both from truth and candour, to make these free remarks on this Aagrant misrepresentation of a circumItance, that, having undergone the most rigorous scrutiny, had been long since brought to a decided issue, by the mutual suffrages of the most opposite parties.

The principal design of this Essay is to fix the blackest stigma of guilt

and infamy on the character and principles of King Charles. From the cradle to the scaffold he is exhibited in the moft odious point of view, and loaded with every foul accusation that can disgrace humanity, and bring royalty itself into contempt. The Author endeavours to support his allegations by producing a number of extracts from a variety of historians. The design is invidious, and the execution of it is conducted on a partial and illiberal plan. King Charles is no favourite character of ours :--far, very far from it! But he was not the abhorred tyrant, the merciless persecutor, the invidious hypocrite, the perjured villain, he is here reported to be. In detached views, and by partial quotations, he may be so represented ; but this is not giving us the TRUE idea of the general character of King Charles.

B...k.

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Rey. Apr. 1780.

X

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