Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 07.djvu/217

This page has been validated.

Dr. Barclay arrived after some delay on the 28th, and found the case almost hopeless. Buckle died the next morning, 29 May 1862, and was buried the same day in the protestant cemetery. A tomb was erected to his memory by his only surviving sister, Mrs. Allatt, in the autumn of 1866.

The ‘History of Civilisation in England’ won for its author a reputation which has hardly been sustained. The reasons are obvious. Buckle's solitary education deprived him of the main advantage of schools and universities—the frequent clashing with independent minds—which tests most searchingly the thoroughness and solidity of a man's acquirements. Specialists in every department of inquiry will regard him as a brilliant amateur rather than a thorough student. He was a thoroughgoing adherent of the English empirical school, then under the leadership of J. S. Mill. He endeavoured to supply the real defect in their teaching due to their comparative neglect of history. Since his time the application of their principles to historical inquiry has been made with a constant reference to the theory of evolution. Buckle spoke cordially of the early writings of Darwin and Mr. Herbert Spencer (ib. i. 28, 47), but he came too early to assimilate their teaching or to divine its importance. His speculations are already antiquated, because he was without the method which has come to be regarded as all-important by thinkers of his own school. Nor can it be said that Buckle fully appreciated the significance of the historical method. His entire want of sympathy with earlier stages of civilisation is characteristic of this weakness. The principles which he announced with the greatest emphasis are therefore apt to appear as crude paradoxes or truisms too vague to have serious value. But his literary power was very great; the vigour of his composition never flags throughout, at least, his first volume; the extent of his knowledge and his command of all his resources are remarkable, and though his conclusions are neither very new nor valuable to serious thinkers, they are put forward with a rhetorical power admirably adapted to impress the less cultivated reader. What he did was not to achieve new results in the sciences of history, but to popularise the belief in the possibility of applying scientific treatment to historical problems. The value of this belief may be differently estimated. Buckle had many predecessors in his doctrine, but he propagated it with a vigour previously unrivalled in English literature, and which will give some permanent value to a book not otherwise fruitful in positive results.

Buckle's writings are:

  1. ‘History of Civilisation in England,’ vol. i. London, 1857, 8vo, also 1858, 1861, 1864.
  2. The same, vol. ii. 1861, also 1864 and 1867. The work was republished as ‘History of Civilisation in England, France, Spain, and Scotland,’ 3 vols. post 8vo, 1866, 1868, 1869, 1871, 1872, 1873, 1878. It has been translated into German, 1860, and (with a notice of Buckle translated from ‘Fraser's Magazine’ for September 1862) in 1868 also into French, and (four times) into Russian.
  3. ‘Influence of Women on the Progress of Knowledge; a discourse delivered at the Royal Institution on Friday, 19 March 1858,’ ‘Fraser's Magazine’ for April 1858. This has been translated into Dutch.
  4. Review of ‘Mill on Liberty,’ ‘Fraser's Magazine’ for May 1859.
  5. ‘A Letter to a Gentleman respecting Pooley's Case,’ London, 1859.
  6. ‘Fragment on the Reign of Elizabeth, from the posthumous papers of Henry Thomas Buckle,’ ‘Fraser's Magazine,’ February and August 1867.
  7. ‘The Miscellaneous and Posthumous Works of Henry Thomas Buckle; edited, with a biographical notice, by Helen Taylor,’ 3 vols. London, 1872. The first volume includes all the above, with some fragments; the second, and part of the third, contain his commonplace books; the remainder of the third is filled by essays upon the sixteenth century, upon manners in the seventeenth century, and notes from English history. An abridged edition, edited by Grant Allen, has just appeared (1886).

[Biographical notice prefixed to Miscellaneous Works (1872), which includes recollections by Miss Shirreff; Life and Writings of Henry Thomas Buckle, by Alfred Henry Huth (the younger of Buckle's companions in the Eastern journey), with two portraits, 1880; Reminiscences of Buckle by Longmore, Athenæum, 25 Jan. 1873; Charles Hall in Atlantic Monthly, April 1863; J. S. Stuart Glennie's Mr. Buckle in the East, Fraser's Magazine, August 1863. This article contains most of the biographical matter which, with various disquisitions upon religion and notes of Mr. Glennie's lectures to Mr. Buckle, forms the same author's Pilgrim Memoirs (3rd ed. 1880); it contains also a controversy with Mr. Alfred Huth of little importance. For the controversy about Pooley see Law Magazine for August 1859; for Buckle's chess-playing see Chess Player's Magazine, ii. 33–45, and article in Westminster Papers for June 1873 by Captain Kennedy; also Athenæum, 20 Feb. 1875. A list of reported games is in the very full bibliography appended to Mr. Huth's work, where also are references to many contemporary reviews of Buckle's works.]

L. S.

BUCKLER, BENJAMIN (1718–1780), antiquary, son of Thomas Buckler of Warminster, Wiltshire, was born at Warminster,