The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XIV. The Victorian Age, Part Two.

II. Historians, Biographers and Political Orators

§ 28. Coxe

Reasons sufficiently obvious explain why the period of English history which Macaulay once hoped to reach, and of which the later and most stirring years were, at first, too near to lend themselves to a judicial historic survey—the Hanoverian period, as it has to be called—long attracted but few writers of independent mind or higher literary qualities. According to the form of most of his books, William (generally known as archdeacon) Coxe belongs to the class of writers of historical memoirs, for the composition of which he had abandoned that of a comprehensive work on the historical and political state of Europe. He obtained a large amount of unpublished material, and put this together with understanding and skill, on a sufficiently broad basis to make his books useful as general guides to the political history of their times. His well-established whig principles are specially manifest in his Memoirs of Sir Robert Walpole (1798), which, perhaps, is the least likely of his works to be altogether superseded. The later Memoirs of the Duke of Marlborough (1818–19) have, probably, been not less largely read; but the task, from the biographical point of view, was a more complicated one, and Coxe’s treatment cannot be regarded as adequate, although no later life of Marlborough has proved altogether successful. His House of Austria (1807), nowadays, needs only to be taken up to be laid down again as altogether defective.