Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 47.djvu/305

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ment de l'Angleterre et sur la Naissance, le Progrès, les Vues, les Forces, les Intérêts et les Caractères des deux Partis des Whigs et des Torys.’ This lucid explanation of English politics, written for the instruction of foreigners, was printed at the Hague in 1717, and was immediately translated into German, Dutch, Danish, and English. It is reprinted in the English translations of his history (ed. 1743, ii. 796). Rapin's ‘History of England,’ which was also written for foreigners rather than for Englishmen, met with equal success. Six editions were published in French—the first, in 10 vols. 4to between 1723 and 1727; the sixth and best, edited by Lefébvre de Saint-Marc, in 1749, 16 vols. 4to (for a bibliography see Cazenove, pp. 261–76). Of the English translation and its different continuations, four editions in octavo and three in folio were published (ib. p. 270; Lowndes, Bibliographer's Manual, ed. Bohn, p. 2047). Rapin's ‘History’ begins with the landing of Julius Cæsar and ends with the accession of William and Mary. It was continued in French by David Durand (d. 1763), a Huguenot refugee, who was minister of the French churches in St. Martin's Lane and the Savoy. He added to Rapin's ‘History’ vols. xi. and xii. treating the reign of William III, published at the Hague in 1734–5. A thirteenth volume, attributed to a certain Dupard, appeared in 1736 (Cazenove, pp. 261–6). Thomas Lediard [q. v.] brought out in 1737 ‘The History of the Reigns of William III, Mary, and Anne, in continuation of the History of England by Rapin de Thoyras’ (folio). This ends with the accession of George II. Nicholas Tindal, whose translation of Rapin had been published in 1726–31 (15 vols. 8vo), added to it an account of the reigns of William, Anne, and George I (13 vols. 8vo, 1745–7). Tindal's translation became the standard version of Rapin for the English public, and was frequently reprinted. In 1736 a series of illustrations, consisting of portraits, monuments, and medals, was published to accompany it (‘The Heads of the Kings of England proper for Rapin and Tindal's “History of England,”’ engraved by George Vertue, 1736, fol.). A list of the illustrations in the folio edition of 1743, reputed the best, is given by Lowndes. Thanks to these embellishments and to its own very considerable merits, Rapin's ‘History’ remained, until the publication of Hume's, the standard history of England. Voltaire, who styles the author ‘the exact and judicious Rapin,’ says: ‘L'Angleterre lui fut longtemps redevable de la seule bonne histoire complète que l'on eût faite de cette royaume, et la seule impartiale qu'on eût d'un pays où l'on n'écrivoit que par l'esprit de parti: c'étoit même la seule histoire qu'on pût citer en Europe comme approchant de la perfection qu'on exige de ces ouvrages’ (Siècle de Louis Quatorze, ii. 393, ed. 1822; cf. Cazenove, p. 318). The history certainly shows throughout extensive researches, combined with a strenuous endeavour to be impartial and to arrive at the truth. Rapin's narrative is clear though rarely animated. He inserts occasional dissertations on controverted questions or points of interest, as, for instance, on the government of the Anglo-Saxons, the nature of the Salic law, and the history of Joan of Arc (i. 147, 446, 589, ed. 1743). He discusses the relative value of Camden, Buchanan, and other contemporary writers on the events of Elizabeth's reign, and criticises the authorities for the history of the civil war (ib. ii. 79, 347). Rapin also interrupts his narrative by inserting historical documents at length, such as the articles of accusation against Richard II, and the manifestos of Charles I and the parliament. He reprints Magna Charta and other charters of liberties, and gives a number of papers concerning the Spanish match and the impeachment of the Earl of Bristol in 1625. The publication of Rymer's ‘Fœdera,’ of which he makes great and constant use, supplied him with much important material, which previous historians had not used. To this he modestly attributed whatever merit his history possessed (Cazenove, p. 247). As each volume of Rymer appeared Rapin published in Le Clerc's ‘Bibliothèque Choisie’ an abridgment of its contents. These summaries were translated by Stephen Whatley and published under the title of ‘Acta Regia’ (4 vols. 8vo, 1726–7).

Rapin's work is severely criticised by Carte in the ‘Proposals’ for his own history of England, on the ground that Rapin omitted to consult the manuscripts in the state paper office, the journals of parliament, and other sources, which his residence in Germany made it impossible for him to utilise (Nichols, Lit. Anecd. ii. 479, 486; see also viii. 266). Other criticisms are embodied in ‘A Defence of English History against the Misrepresentations of M. Rapin de Thoyras,’ 8vo, 1734. A portrait of Rapin is prefixed to most editions of his history and to Cazenove's ‘Rapin-Thoyras.’

|[The chief source of information for Rapin's life is the Lettre à M. … concernant quelques particularités de la vie de M. de Rapin-Thoyras, written by his elder brother, Charles de Rapin Puginier. It appeared in the tenth volume of the History of England (ed. 1727), and is re-