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A History of Nineteenth Century Literature (1780-1

Merivale who died in 1894 ranks


Only

one other writer of history during the century, himself the latest to die of his generation except Mr. Ruskin, deserves, for the union of historical and literary merit, to be placed, if not on a level with Macaulay and Carlyle, yet not far below them; but a not inconsiderable number of historians and biographers of value who distinguished themselves about or since the middle of the century must be chronicled more or less briefly. Two Scottish scholars of eminence, both in turn Historiographers Royal of Scotland, John Hill Burton and William Forbes Skene, were born in the same year, 1809. Burton, who died in 1881, busied himself with the history of his country at large, beginning with the period since the Revolution, and tackling the earlier and more distinctively national time afterwards. He was not a very good writer, but displayed very great industry and learning with a sound and impartial judgment. Skene, on the other hand, was the greatest authority of his time (he lived till 1892) on "Celtic Scotland," which is the title of his principal book. In the same year (or in 1808) was born Charles Merivale, afterwards Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Dean of Ely, who, besides other work, established himself in the same class of historians with Hallam and Milman, Thirlwall and Grote, by his extensive _History of the Romans under the Empire_. On the whole, Merivale (who died in 1894) ranks, both for historical and literary gifts, somewhat below the other members of this
remarkable group--a position which is still a very honourable one.

Shortly after these three was born Alexander Kinglake (1811-1891)--a man of very remarkable talents, but something of a "terrible example" in regard to the practice, which has already been noticed as characteristic of the century, of devoting enormously long histories to special subjects and points. Kinglake, who was a native of Somerset, an Eton and Cambridge man, a barrister subsequently, for some years a Member of Parliament, and a man of independent means, first distinguished himself in letters by the very brilliant and popular book of travels in the East called _Eothen_ which was published in 1847. That there is something of manner and trick about this is not to be denied; but it must be allowed that the trick and manner have been followed, apparently with success, in travel-writing for about half a century, while it cannot be fairly said that Kinglake himself had any exact models, though he may have owed something to Beckford and a little to Sterne. It is not very easy to say whether Kinglake's literary reputation would have stood higher or lower if he had written nothing else; but as a matter of fact, before many years were over, he attempted a much more ambitious task in the _History of the Crimean War_, the first two volumes of which appeared in 1863, though the book was not finished till twenty years later. That this history shows no small literary faculties no competent judge can deny. The art of word-painting--a dubious and dangerous art--is pushed to almost its furthest limits; the writer has a wonderful gift of combining the minutest and most numerous details into an orderly and intelligible whole; and the quality


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