Page images

longer to be obtained by regular confession and ties, had reverenced the conqueror. She de severe penance; and the obsequious courtiers, spised the swindler. who had kept Lent like monks of La Trappe, When Orleans and the wretched Dubois haul and who had turned up the whites of their eyes disappeared, the power passed to the Duke of at the edifying parts of sermons preached be- Bourbon; a prince degraded in the public eye fore the king, aspired to the title of roué as by the infamously lucrative part which he had ardently as they had aspired to that of devot; taken in the juggles of the System, and by the and went, during Passion Week, to the revels humility with which he bore the caprices of a of the Palais Royal as readily as they had loose and imperious woman. It seemed to be formerly repaired to the sermons of Massil- decreed that every branch of the royal family lon.

should successively incur the abhorrence and The Regent was in many respects the fac- contempt of the nation. simile of our Charles the Second. Like Charles, Between the fall of the Duke of Bourbon and he was a good-natured man, utterly destitute the death of Fleury, a few years of frugal and of sensibility. Like Charles, he had good na- moderate government intervened. Then retural talents, which a deplorable indolence commenced the downward progress of the rendered useless to the state. Like Charles, monarchy. Profligacy in the court, extravahe thought all men corrupt and interested, and gance in the finances, schism in the church, yet did not dislike thern for being so. His opi- faction in the Parliaments, unjust war termi. nion of human nature was Gulliver's; but he nated by ignominious peace—all that indicates did not regard human nature with Gulliver's and all that produces the ruin of great empires, horror. He thought that he and his fellow- make up the history of that miserable period. creatures were Yahoos; and he thought a Abroad, the French were beaten and humbled Yahoo a very agreeable kind of animal. No everywhere, by land and by sea, on the Elbe princes were ever more social than Charles and on the Rhine, in Asia and in America. At and Philip of Orleans; yet no princes ever had home, they were turned over from vizier to less capacity for friendship. The tempers of vizier, and from sultan to sultan, till they had these clever cynics were so easy and their reached that point beneath which there was no minds so languid, that habit supplied in them lower abyss of infamy, till the yoke of Maupeou the place of affection, and made them the had made them pine for Choiseul, till Madame tools of people for whom they cared not one du Barri had taught them to regret Madame de straw. In love, both were mere sensaalists, Pompadour. without delicacy or tenderness. In politics, But unpopular as the monarchy had become ooth were utterly careless of faith and of na- the aristocracy was more unpopular still ; and tional honour. Charles shut up the Exchequer. not without reason. The tyranny of an indiPhilip patronised the System. The councils vidual is far more supportable than the tyranny of Charles were swayed by the gold of Baril- of a caste. The old privileges were galiing lon; the councils of Philip by the gold of Wal- and hateful to the new wealth and the new pole. Charles for private objects made war knowledge. Every thing indicated the apon Holland, the natural ally of England. Philip proach of no common revolution; of a revolufor private objects made war on the Spanish tion destined to change, not merely the form branch of the house of Bourbon, the natural of government, but the distribution of property ally, indeed the creature of France. Even in and the whole social system; of a revolution trifling circumstances the parallel might be the effects of which were to be felt at every carried on. Both these princes were fond of fireside in France; of a new Jaquerie, in which experimental philosophy; and passed in the the victory was to remain with Jcques bonhomme. laboratory much time which would have been In the van of the movement were the moneyed more advantageously passed at the council- men and the men of letters—the wounded table. Both were more strongly attached to pride of wealth and the wounded pride of intheir female relatives than to any other human tellect. An immense multitude, made ignorant being; and in both cases it was suspected that and cruel by oppression, was raging in the this attachment was not perfectly innocent. In rear. personal courage, and in all the virtues which We greatly doubt whether any course which are connected with personal courage, the could have been pursued by Louis the Six. Regent was indisputably superior to Charles. teenth could have averted a great convulsion. Indeed Charles but narrowly escaped the stain But we are sure that, if there was such a of cowardice. Philip was eminently brave, course, it was the course recommended by M. and, like most brave men, was generally open Turgot. The church and the aristocracy, with and sincere. Charles added dissimulation to that blindness to danger, that incapacity of his other vices.

believing that any thing can be except what • The administration of the Regent was has been, which the long possession of power scarcely less pernicious, and infinitely more seldom fails to generate, mocked at the counsel scandalous, than that of the deceased monarch. which might have saved them. They woula It was by magnificent public works, and by not have reform; and they had revolution. wars conducted on a gigantic scale, that Louis They would not pay a small contribution in had brought distress on his people. The Re- place of the odious corvées; and they lived to gent aggravated that distress by frauds, of see their castles demolished, and their lands which a lame duck on the stock-exchange sold to strangers. They would not endure would have been ashamed. France, even Turgot; and they were forced to endure Ro while suffering under the most severe calami- | bespierre.

Then the rulers of France, as if smitten with country they found nothing to love or to ao radicial blindness, plunged headlong into the mire. As far back as they could look, they American war. They thus committed at once saw only the tyranny of one class and the des two great errors. They encouraged the spirit gradation of another-Frank and Gaul, knight of revolution. They augmented at the same and villein, gentleman and roturier. They hated time those public burdens, the pressure of the monarchy, the church, the nobility. They which is generally the immediate cause of cared nothing for the States or the Parliament. revolutions. The event of the war carried to It was long the fashion to ascribe all the follies the height the enthusiasm of speculative demo- which they committed to the writings of the crats. The financial difficulties produced by philosophers. We believe that it was misrule, the war carried to the height the discontent and nothing but misrule, that put the sting into of that larger body of people who cared little those writings. It is not true that the French about theories, and much about taxes.

abandoned experience for theories. They took The meeting of the States-General was the up with theories because they had no expesignal for the explosion of all the hoarded pas- rience of good government. It was because sions of a century. In that assembly tnere they had no charter that they ranted about the were undoubtedly very able men. But they original contract. As soon as tolerable insti. had no practical knowledge of the art of go-tutions were given to them, they began to luok vernment. All the great English revolutions to those institutions. In 1830 their rallying have been conducted by practical statesmen. cry was Vive la Charte. In 1789 they had noThe French Revolution was couducted by thing but theories round which to rally. They mere speculators. Our constitution has never had seen social distinctions only in a bad form; been so far behind the age as to have become and it was therefore natural that they should an object of aversion to the people. The Eng. be deluded by sophisms about the equality of lish revolutions have therefore been undertaken men. They had experienced so much evil for the purpose of correcting, defending, and from the sovereignty of kings, that they might restoring; never for the mere purpose of de- be excused for lending a ready ear to those stroying. Our countrymen have always, even who preached, in an exaggerated form, the in times of the greatest excitement, spoken doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. reverently of the form of government under The English, content with their owu nation which they lived, and attacked only what they al recollections and names, have never sought regarded as its corruptions. In the very act for models in the institutions of Greece or of innovating they have constantly appealed Rome. T'he French, having nothing in their to ancient prescription; they have seldom own history to which they could look back looked abroad for models; they have seldom with pleasure, had recourse to the history of troubled themselvos with Utopian theories; the great ancient commonwealths: they drew they have not been anxious to prove that li- their notions of those commonwealths, not berty is a natural right of men; they have been from contemporary writers, but from romances content to regard it as the lawful birthright of written by pedantic moralists long after the Englishmen. Their social contract is no fic- extinction of public liberty. They neglected tion. It is still extart on the original parch- Thucydides for Plutarch. Blind themselves, ment, sealed with wax which was affixed at they took blind guides. They had no expe Runnymede, and attested by the lordly names rience of freedom, and they took their opinions of the Marischals and Fitzherberts. No gene- concerning it from men who had no more exral arguments about the original equality of perience of it than themselves, and whose ima. men, no fine stories out of Plutarch and Cor- ginations, inflamed by mystery and privation, nelius Nepos, have ever affected them so inuch exaggerated the unknown enjoyment; from as their own familiar words, Magna Charta, men who raved about patriotism without hav. Habeas Corpus, Trial hy Jury, Bill of Rights. ing ever had a country, and eulogized tyranni This part of our national character has un-cide while crouching before tyrants. The doubtedly its disadvantages. An Englishman maxims which the French legislators learned too often reasons on politics in the spirit rather in this school were, that political liberty is an of a lawyer than of a philosopher. There is end, and not a means; that it is not merely too often something narrow, something exclu- valuable as the great safeguard of order, of sive, something Je vish, if we may use the property, and of morality, but that it is in itself word, in his love of freedom. He is disposed a high and exquisite happiness, to which order, to consider popular rights as the special heri- property, and morality ought without one scrutage of the chosen race to which he belongs. ple to be sacrificed. The lessons which may He is inclined rather to repel than to encou- be learned from ancient history are indeed rage the alien proselyte who aspires to a share most useful and important; but they were not of his privileges. Very different was the spirit likely to be learned by men who, in all their of the Constituent Assembly. They had none | rhapsodies about the Athenian democracy, of our narrowness; but they had none of our seemed utterly to forget that in that democracy practical skill in the management of affairs there were ten slaves to one citizen; and who They did r.ot understand how to regulate the constantly decorated their invectives against order of their own debates; and they thought the aristocrats with panegyrics on Brutus and themselves able to legislate for the whole world. Cato, two aristocrats, fiercer; prouder, and All the past was loathsome to them. All their more exclusive than any that emigrated with agreeable associations were connected with the Count of Artois. the future. Hopes were to them all that recol We have never met with so vivid and inte. ctions are to us. In the institutions of their resting a picture of the National Assembly as

that which M. Dumont has set before us. His oratorical power both of Chatham and of Mira Mirabeau, in particular, is incomparable. All beau. There have been far greater speakers the former Mirabeaus were daubs in compari-hand far greater statesmen than either of them; son. Some were merely painted from the ima- but we doubt whether any men have, in mo gination, others were gross caricatures; this dern times, exercised such vast personal in is the very individual, neither god nor demon, fluence over stormy and divided assemblies but a man, a Frenchman, a Frenchman of the The power of both was as much moral as in eighteenth century, with great talents, with tellectual. In true dignity of character, in strong passions, depraved by bad educ on, private and public virtue, it may seem absurd surrounded by temptations of every kind, made to institute any comparison between them; but desperate at one time by disgrace, and then they had the same haughtiness and vehemence again intoxicated by fame. All his opposite of temper. In their language and manner and seemingly inconsistent qualities are in this there was a disdainful self-confidence, an imrepresentation so blended together as to make periousness, a fierceness of passion, before up a harmonious and natural whole. Till now, which all common minds quailed. Even Mur. Mirabeau was to us, and, we believe, to most ray and Charles Townshend, though intellecreaders of history, not a man, but a string of tually not inferior to Chatham, were always antitheses. Henceforth he will be a real hu- cowed by him. Barnave, in the same manner, man being, a remarkable and eccentric being though the best debater in the National Assemindeed, but perfectly conceivable.

bly, flinched before the energy of Mirabeau. He was fond, M. Dumont tells us, of giving Men, except in bad novels, are not all good or odd compound nicknames. Thus, M. de La- all evil. It can scarcely be denied that the fayette was Grandison-Cromwell; the King of virtue of Lord Chatham was a little theatrical. Prussia was Alaric-Cottin; D’Espremenil was On the other hand, there was in Mirabeau, not Crispin-Catiline. We think that Mirabeau indeed any thing deserving the name of virtue, himself might be described, after his own but that imperfect substitute for virtue which fashion, as a Wilkes-Chatham. He had is found in almost all superior minds, a sensiWilkes's sensuality, Wilkes's levity, Wilkes's bility to the beautiful and the good, which insensibility to shame. Like Wilkes, he had sometimes amounted to sincere enthusiasm, brought on himself the censure even of men and which, mingled with the desire of admiraof pleasure by the peculiar grossness of his tion, sometimes gave to his character a lustre immorality, and by the obscenity of his writ- resembling the lustre of true goodness; as the ings. Like Wilkes, he was heedless, not only "faded splendour wan" which lingered round of the laws of morality, but of the laws of ho- the fallen archangel, resembled the exceeding nour. Yet he affected, like Wilkes, to unite brightness of those spirits who had kept the:r the character of the demagogue to that of the first estate. fine gentleman. Like Wilkes, he conciliated, There are several other admirable portraits by his good-humour and his high spirits, the of eminent men in these Memoirs. That of regard of many who despised his character. Sieyes in particular, and that of Talleyrand, Like Wilkes, he was hideously ugly; like are masterpieces, full of life and expression, Wilkes, he made a jest of his own ugliness; But nothing in the book has interested us more and, like Wilkes, he was, in spite of his ugli- than the view which M. Dumont has presented ness, very attentive to his dress, and very suc- to us, unostentatiously, and, we may say, un. cessiul in affairs of gallantry.

consciously, of his own character. The sturdy Resembling Wilkes in the lower and grosser rectitude, the large charity, the good-nature, parts of his character, he had, in his higher the modesty, the independent spirit, the ardent qualities, some affinities to Chatham. His elo-philanthropy, the unaffected indifference to quence, as far as we can judge of it, bore no money and to fame, make up a character inconsiderable resemblance to that of the great which, while it has nothing unnatural, seems English minister. He was not eminently suc- to us to approach nearer to perfection than cessful in long set speeches. He was not, on any of the Grandisons and Allworthys of ficthe other hand, a close and ready debater. tion. The work is not indeed precisely such Sudden bursts, which seemed to be the effect a work as we had anticipated; it is more lively, of inspiration ; short sentences, which came more picturesque, more amusing than we had like lightning, dazzling, burning, striking down promised ourselves, and it is, on the other everything before them; sentences which, hand, less profound and philosophic. But if spoken at critical moments, decided the fate it is not, in all respects, such as might have of great questions; sentences which at once been expected from the intellect of M. Dumont, became proverbs; sentences which everybody it is assuredly such as might have been ex stül knows by heart; in these chiefly lay the pected from his heart


[EDINBURGH Review, 1833.]

Tre days when Miscellanies in Prose and Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of utter Verse, by a Person of Honour, and Romances ing moral reflections, in a style too sententious of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person and oracular. We will give one instance: of Quality, were attractive to readers and pro- “Strange as it seems, experience shows that fitable to booksellers, have long gone by. The we usually feel far more animosity against literary privileges once enjoyed by lords are those whom we have injured, than against as obsolete as their right to kill the king's deer those who injure us: and this remark holds on their way to Parliament, or as their old re- good with every degree of intellect, with every medy of scandalum magnatum. Yet we must class of fortune, with a prince or a peasant, acknowledge that, though our political opi- a stripling or an elder, a hero or a prince.” nions are by no means aristocratical, we This remark might have seemed strange at always feel kindly disposed towards noble the court of Nimrod or Chedorlaomer ; but is authors. Industry and a taste for intellectual has now been for many generations considerpleasures are peculiarly respectable in those ed as a truism rather than a paradox. Every who can afford to be idle, and who have every man has written on the thesis “ Odisse quem temptation to be dissipated. It is impossible læseris.” Scarcely any lines in English poetry not to wish success to a man who, finding are better known than that vigorous couplet: himself placed, without any exertion or any “Forgiveness to the injured does belong; merit on his part, above the mass of society, But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong." voluntarily descends from his eminence in

The historians and philosophers have quite search of distinctions which he may justly done with this maxim, and have abandoned it, call his own.

like other maxims which have lost their gloss, This is, we think, the second appearance of to bad novelists, by whom it will very soon be Lord Mahon in the character of an author.

worn to rags. His first book was creditable to him, but was

It is no more than justice to say, that the in every respect inferior to the work which faults of Lord Mahon's book are precisely now lies before us. He has undoubtedly some those faults which time seldom fails to cure; of the mosi valuable qualities of an historian, and that the book, in spite of its faults, is a great diligence in examining authorities, great valuable addition to our historical literature. Judgment in weighing testimony, and great Whoever wishes to be well acquainted with impartiality in estimating characters. We the morbid anatomy of governments, whoever are not aware that he has in any instance wishes to know how great states may be made forgotten the duties belonging to his literary feeble and wretched, should study the history functions in the feelings of a kinsman. He of Spain. The empire of Philip the Second does no more than justice to his ancestor was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and Stanhope: he does full justice to Stanhope's splendid that ever existed in the world. In enemies and rivals. His narrative is very Europe he ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherperspicuous, and is also entitled to the praise, lands on both sides of the Rhine, Franche seldom, we grieve to say, deserved by modern Comté, Roussillon, the Milanese, and the Two writers, of being very concise. It must be Sicilies. Tuscany, Parma, and the other small admitted, however, that, with many of the best states of Italy were as completely dependent qualities of a literary veteran, he has some of on him as the Nizam and the Rajah of Berar the faults of a literary novice. He has no

now are on the East India Company. In Asia, great command of words. His style is seldom the King of Spain was master of the Philipeasy, and is sometimes unpleasantly stiff. He pines, and of all those rich settlements which is so bigoted a purist

, that he transforms the the Portuguese had made on the coasts of Albé d'Estrées into an Abbot. We do not like Malabar and Coromandel, in the Peninsula of to see French words introduced into English Malacca, and in the Spice Islands of the Eastcomposition; but, after all, the first law of ern Archipelago. In America, his dominions writing, that law to which all other laws are extended on each side of the equator into the subordinate, is this—that the words employed temperate zone. There is reason to believe shall be such as convey to the reader the that his annual revenue amounted, in the sea. meaning of the writer. Now an Abbot is the son of his greatest power, to four millions sterhead of a religious house; an Abbé is quite a ling; a sum eight times as large as that which different sort of person. It is better undoubt. England yielded to Elizabeth. He had a standedly to use an English word than a French ing army of fifty thousand excellent troops, al word; but it is better to use a French word a time when England had not a single battalion than to misuse an English word.

in constant pay. His ordinary naval force

consisted of a hundred and forty galleys. He • History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By has held, the dominion both of the land and of

held, what no other prince in modern times LORD MAHON. London : 1832.

the sea. During the greater part of his reign claimed by the grave and haughty chiefs who he was supreme on both elements. His sol- surrounded the throne of Ferdinand the Catho. diers marched up to the capital of France; his lic, and of his immediate successors. That ships menaced the shores of England. majestic art, “premere imperio populos,was not

It is no exaggeration to say, that during se- better understood by the Romans in the proudveral years, his power over Europe was greater est days of their republic, than by Gonsalvo than even that of Napoleon. The influence and Ximenes, Cories and Alva. The skill of the French conqueror never extended be- of the Spanish diplomatists was renowned gond low-water mark. The narrowest strait throughout Europe. In England the name of was to his power what it was of old believed Gondomar is still remembered. The sovereign that a running stream was to the sorceries of nation was unrivalled both in regular and ir. a witch. While his army entered every me regular warfare. The impetuous chivalry of tropolis, from Moscow to Lisbon, the English France, the serried phalanx of Switzerland, fleets blockaded every port, from Dantzic to were alike found wanting when brought face Trieste. Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Guernsey, to face with the Spanish infantry. In the wars enjoyed security through the whole course of or the New World where something different a war which endangered every throne on the from ordinary strategy was required in the continent. The victorious and imperial na- general, and something different from ordinary tion, which had filled its museums with the discipline in the soldier--where it was every spoils of Antwerp, of Florence, and of Rome, day necessary to meet by some new expedient was suffering painfully from the want of the varying tactics of a barbarous enemy, the luxuries which use had rendered necessaries. Spanish adventurers, sprung from the common While pillars and arches were rising to com- people, displayed a fertility of resource, and a memorate the French conquests, the conquer- ; talent for negotiation and command, to which ors were trying to make coffee out of succory, history scarcely affords a parallel. and sugar out of beet-root. The influence of The Castilian of those times was to the Philip on the continent was as great as that Italian what the Roman, in the days of the of Napoleon. The Emperor of Germany was greatness of Rome, was to the Greek. The his kinsman. France, torn by religious dis- conqueror had less ingenuity, less taste, less sensions, was never a formidable opponent, delicacy of perception than the conquered; but and was sometimes a dependent ally. At the far more pride, firmness, and courage; a more same time, Spain had what Napoleon desired solemn demeanour, a stronger sense of honour. in vain-ships, colonies, and commerce. She The one had more subtilty in speculation, the long monopolized the irade of America and of other more energy in action. The vices of the ihe Indian Ocean. All the gold of the West, one were those of a coward; the vices of the and all the spices of the East, were received other were those of a tyrant. It may be added, and distributed by her. During many years that the Spaniard, like the Roman, did not disof war, her commerce was interrupted only dain to study the arts and the language of those by the predatory enterprises of a few roving whom he oppressed. A revolution took place privateers. Even after the defeat of the Ar- in the literature of Spain, not unlike to that mada, English statesmen continued to look revolution which, as Horace tells us, took with great dread on the maritime power of place in the poetry of Latium; “Capta ferum Philip. “The King of Spain,” said the Lord victorem cepit.” The slave took prisoner the Keeper to the two Houses in 1593, “ since he enslaver. The old Castilian ballads gave hath usurped upon the kingdom of Portugal, place to sonnets in the style of Petrarch, and hath thereby grown mighty by gaining the to heroic poems in the stanza of Ariosto; as East Indies; so as, how great soever he was the national songs of Rome were driven out before, he is now thereby manifestly more great. by imitations of Theocritus and translations .... He keepeth a navy armed to impeach all from Menander. trade of merchandise from England to Gas- In no modern society, not even in England coigne and Guienne, which he attempted to do during the reign of Elizabeth, has there been this last vintage ; so as he is now become as so great a number of men eminent at once in a frontier enemy to all the west of England, as literature and in the pursuits of active life, as well as all the south parts, as Sussex, Hamp- Spain produced during the sixteenth century. shire, and the Isle of Wight. Yea, by means Almost every distinguished writer was also of his interest in St. Maloes, a port full of ship- distinguished as a soldier and a politician. ping for the war, he is a dangerous neighbour Boscan bore arms with high reputation. Garto the queen's isles of Jersey and Guernsey, cilasso de Vega, the author of the sweetest and ancient possessions of this crown, and never most graceful pastoral poem of modern times, conquered in the greatest wars with France.” after a short but splendid military career, fell

The ascendency which Spain then had in sword in hand at the head of a storming party Europe, was, in one sense, well deserved. It Alonzo de Ercilla bore a conspicuous part in was an ascendency which had been gained by that war of Arauco, which he afterwards celeunquestioned superiority in all the arts of brated in the best heroic poem that Spain has policy and of war. In the sixteenth century, produced. Hurtado de Mendoza, whose poems Italy was not more decidedly the land of the have been compared to those of Horace, ana fine arts, Germany was not more decidedly whose charming little novel is evidently the mo. the land of bold theological speculation, than del of Gil Blas, has been handed down to us by Spain was the land of statesmen and of sol history as one of the sternest of those iron pro diers. The character which Virgil has as- consuls, who were employed by the house of cribed to his countrymen might have been Austria to crush the lingering public spirit of

« PreviousContinue »