MR. FRASER TYTLER'S HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.*
WE intended to notice Mr. TYTLER'S work soon after the appearance of the first volume ; but we are not sorry that we have delayed until we were in possession of the second. The learned, author's purpose is set forth in his preface : it is not to write the complete history of a people, of the origin and earlier progress of which very few authentic docu- ments remain, and which, could it be traced with accuracy, would yet offer but little to attract even the philosophic reader. Mr. TYTLER commences his task at a period when the traditions of the elders and the dreams of credulous or lying chroniclers had begun to give way to the steady and prevailing light of documentary evidence, when society had assumed so settled and regulated a form, that political measures could he traced to their causes, and the lesson to be deduced from suc- cess or failure became susceptible of useful and general application. FlUME, who was but slightly acquainted with Saxon and Norman lite- rature, and whose inattention to ancient and less accessible sources of information is test poorly compensated by all his elegance of diction and all his seeming mod-aration, describes the interest of English his- tory as commencing with the reign of HENRY the Eighth : forgetting that though they were by no means so confirmed as they afterwards became, the forms of the constitution were nearly, if not quite, as com- plete at the accession of HENRY the Eighth as at the landing of WILLIAM the Third. But it was Huma's object—and he pursued it with as much ingenuity as perseverance—to exhibit that period as one of continued aggression on the part of the people, in order to deduce from their aggression the only plausible excuse that could be assigned for the tyranny, bigotry, and folly of the STUARTS. Mr. TYTLER has acted with more judgment and more honesty, in commencing his Scot- tish history with the reign of ALEXANDER the Third. There can be no doubt, that to the wars and dissensions which ensued almost im- mediately on the death of that monarch, nearly all that is valuable and interesting in the subsequent progress of Scottish history is to be referred ; and that those who travel 'further back, whatever amuse- ment they may find by the way, will derive but little profit. It is not our purpose, nor have we space, to enter into a minute detail of the merits of Mr. TYTLER'S work. To those who seek for nicely rounded periods, and all the graces of language, we cannot safely recommend it. Its style is neither so flowery as ROBERTSON'S, so smooth as HUME'S, nor so stately as GIBBON'S. We do not mean to state that , force or elegance of expression has been studiously neglected ; but Mr. TYTLER is evidently a man fonder of things than of words, and too intent on the matter of his subject to sacrifice it to the manner. He is at the same time always simple, and always perspicuous : and perfectly familiar with the facts he records and the truths he seeks to inculcate, he never fails to express them in such terms that the careless as well as the attentive cannot fail to understand his meaning. As practically exhibiting the chiefest virtue of an historian, we are disposed to rate Mr. TYTLER'S merits very high. His fidelity is extreme. There is no lack of sympathy for his countrymen under the cruel and tyrannous inflictions of EDWARD ; but his patriotism does not for a moment ob- scure his love of truth. Mr. TYTLER'S diligence has been great. In- deed, since the Caledonia of CHALMERS, or rather since the first volume of that work, which is one of stupendous labour as well as learning, there has nothing appeared in reference to general Scottish history at all to be compared with the two volumes we are now noticing. It is only justice to add, that Mr. TVTLER'S diligence has been wisely and successfully directed. We might refer to the whole of the work, and more especially to the early part of it, for proof that tilts praise is honestly due ; but we shall content ourselves with directing the reader's attention to the long and learned note on the treachery of Menteith, page 443, vol. i. It required no great powers or research to triumph over HAILES, but Dr. LINGARD is a formidable adversary. The historical portion of the second volume terminates with the death of DAVID the Second, the only and degenerate son of the great con- queror of Bannockburn. The remainder of the volume is occupied with a series of highly-interesting issertations on the general condition of the country at that early period, the manners of the people, the state of trade and commerce, and the origin and history of the institutions civil and religious of the kingdom. Mr. TYTLER has accumulated a great number of curious facts previously unnoticed or uncollected on all these topics. It was not our intention to give any extract, because only an extract of great length could give a just idea of the work ; but the following brief description of the dress of the gentlemen and ladies * 'History of Scotland. By Patrick Fraser Tytier, Esq. F.R.S.E. and F.A.S. (Only two volumes published.) Edinburgh, 1828.1829. Tait. of the thirteenth century is too tempting to be resisted. It will serve to convince such of our readers as are addicted to light literature, that even the gravities of history may now and then repay an hour's perusal. We mentioned some time ago the costume 5. la GRIMALDI, for the benefit of our youthful dandies ; they will see from the following, that it was in fashion among their prototypes five or six hundred years ago.
" During the thirteenth century, a fantastic fashion prevailed of clothing one-half of the figure in one colour, and the other half in another ; and, where this was not done, of having one stocking red or blue, and the other green or yellow ; so that the man had the appearance of having stept into one half of his neighbour's breeches or hose."
The ladies of those times, like the ladies of all times, displayed more taste than their bearded admirers :—
" The upper part of the dress consisted of a jacket of rich broad cloth or velvet, with sleeves reaching to the wrist, and terminating in a border of gold embroidery, which was made to fit close to the bosom and the waist, so as to show the outline of the female figure. It was fastened down the middle with a row of buttons of silver, gold, or precious stones, on each side of which was a broad border of ermine or miniver, and it reached considerably below the waist. Below this jacket appeared, in staple folds, an under robe or tunic of a different colour, and under all, a slip or petticoat of silk or linen. The tucker was high and modest, and made so as to leave only the neck and throat hare. The head• dress consisted either of the wimple, of the turban, or of a small circlet of gold, or garland of artificial flowers, from beneath which the hair sometimes flowed down the back, and sometimes was gracefully plaited or braided in forms of great variety. Over the whole dress, it was not uncommon, on days of state or ceremony, to wear a long cloak of velvet or other precious stuff, which was clasped across the bosom, and lined with ermine, martins, or gold lace. The golden girdle, too, worn round the waist, and sometimes set with precious stones, must not he forgotten."
Upon the whole, we thank Mr. TYTLER most heartily for his import- ant and interesting volumes ; and we sincerely wish him health and leisure to complete a work whose commencement promises so well.