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Telemachus can scarcely be placed above Glover's Leonidas or Wilkie's Epigoniad.
rals, it abounds with errors of detail, and the truths which it inculcates seem trite to a modern reader. But if we compare the spirit in which it is written with the spirit which pervades the rest of the French literature of that age, we shall perceive that, though in appearance trite, it was in truth one of the most o original works that have ever appeared. The o fundamental principles of Fénélon's political morality, the tests by which he judged of institutions and of men, were absolutely new to his countrymen. He had taught them, indeed, with the happiest effect, to his royal pupil. but how incomprehensible they were to most people, we learn from Saint Simon. That amusing writer tells us, as a thing almost incredible, that the Duke of Burgundy declared it to be his opinion, that kings existed for the good of the people, and not the people for the good of kings. Saint Simon is delighted with the benevolence of this saying; but startled by its novelty and terrified by its boldness. Indeed he distinctly says, that it was not safe to repeat the sentiment in the court of Louis. Saint Simon was, of all the members of that court, the least courtly. He was as nearly an oppositionist as any man of his time. His disposition was proud, bitter, and cynical. In religion he was a Jansenist; in politics, a less hearty royalist than most of his neighbours. His opinions and his temper had preserved him from the illusions which the demeanour of Louis produced on others. He neither • loved nor respected the king. Yet even this man, one of the most liberal men in France, was struck dumb with astonishment at hearing the fundamental axiom of all government propounded—an axiom which, in our time, nobody in England or France would dispute— which the stoutest Tory takes for granted as much as the fiercest Radical, and concerning | which the Carlist would agree with the most republican deputy of the “extreme left.” No person will do justice to Fénélon, who does not rvastantly keep in mind that Telemachus was written in an age and nation in which bold and independent thinkers stared to hear that twenty millions of human beings did not exist for the gratification of one. That work is commonly considered as a school-book, very fit for children, because its style is easy and its morality blameless; but unworthy of the attention of statesmen and philosophers. We can distinguish in it, if we are not greatly mistaken, the first faint dawn of a long and splendid day of intellectual light, the dim promise of a great deliverance, the undeveloped germ of the charter and of the code. What mighty interests were staked on the life of the Duke of Burgundy! and how different an aspect might the history of France have lorne, if he had attained the age of his grandfather or of his son; if he had been permitted to show how much could be done for humanity by the highest virtue in the highest fortune! There is scarcely anything in history
-Considered as a treatise on politics and mo
remain to us of that extraordinary man. The fierce and impetuous temper which he showed in early youth, the complete change which a judicious education produced in his character, his fervid piety, his large benevolence, the strictness with which he judged himself, the liberality with which he judged others, the fortitude with which alone, in the whole court, he stood up against the commands of Louis, when a religious scruple was concerned, the charity with which alone, in the whole court, he defended the profligate Orleans against calumniators, his great projects for the good of the people, his activity in business, his taste for letters, his strong domestic attachments, even the ungraceful person and the shy and awkward manner, which concealed from the eyes of the sneering courtiers of his grandfather so many rare endowments—make his character the most interesting that is to be found in the annals of his house. He had resolved, if he came to the throne, to disperse that ostentatious court, which was supported at an ex pense ruinous to the nation; to preserve peace; to correct the abuses which were found in every part of the system of revenue; to abolish or modify oppressive privileges; to reform the administration of justice; to revive the institution of the States-General. If he had ruled over France during forty or fifty years. that great movement of the human mino which no government could have arrested, which bad government only rendered more violent, would, we are inclined to think, have been conducted, by peaceable means, to a happy termination. Disease and sorrow removed from the world that wisdom and virtue of which it was not worthy. During two generations France was ruled by men who, with all the vices of Louis the Fourteenth, had none of the art by whico. that magnificent prince passed off his vices for virtues. The people had now to see tyranny naked. That foul Duessa was stripped of her gorgeous ornaments. She had always been hideous; but a strange enchantment had made her seem fair and glorious in the eyes of her willing slaves. The spell was now broken; the deformity was made manifest; and the lovers, lately so happy and so proud, turned away loathing and horror-struck. First came the regency. The strictness with which Louis had, towards the close of his life, exacted from those around him an outward attention to religious duties, produced an effect similar to that which the rigour of the Puritans had produced in England. It was the boast of Madame de Maintenon, in the time of her greatness, that devotion had become the fashion. A fashion indeed it was, and, like a fashion, it passed away. The austerity of the tyrant's old age had injured the morality of the higher orders more than even the licentiousness of his youth. Not only had he not reformed their vices, but, by sorcing them to be hypocrites, he had shaken their belief in virtue. They had found it so easy to perform the grimace of piety, that it was natural for them to consider all piety as grimace. The times were changed. longer to be obtained by regular confession and severe penance; and the obsequious courtiers, who had kept Lent like monks of La Trappe, and who had turned up the whites of their eyes at the edifying parts of sermons preached before the king, aspired to the title of roué as ardently as they had aspired to that of devot; and went, during Passion Week, to the revels of the Palais Royal as readily as they had formerly repaired to the sermons of Massillon. The Regent was in many respects the facsimile of our Charles the Second. Like Charles, he was a good-natured man, utterly destitute of sensibility. Like Charles, he had good natural talents, which a deplorable indolence rendered useless to the state. Like Charles, he thought all men corrupt and interested, and yet did not dislike them for being so. His opinion of human nature was Gulliver's; but he did not regard human nature with Gulliver's horror. He thought that he and his fellowcreatures were Yahoos; and he thought a Yahoo a very agreeable kind of animal. No princes were ever more social than Charles and Philip of Orleans; yet no princes ever had less capacity for friendship. The tempers of these clever cynics were so easy and their minds so languid, that habit supplied in them the place of affection, and made them the tools of people for whom they cared not one straw. In love, both were mere sensualists, without delicacy or tenderness. In politics, both were utterly careless of faith and of national honour. Charles shut up the Exchequer. Philip patronised the System. The councils of Charles were swayed by the gold of Barillon; the councils of Philip by the gold of Walpole. Charles for private objects made war on Holland, the natural ally of England. Philip for private objects made war on the Spanish branch of the house of Bourbon, the natural ally, indeed the creature of France. Even in trifling circumstances the parallel might be carried on. Both these princes were fond of experimental philosophy; and passed in the laboratory much time which would have been more advantageously passed at the counciltable. Both were more strongly attached to their female relatives than to any other human being; and in both cases it was suspected that this attachment was not perfectly innocent. In personal courage, and in all the virtues which are connected with personal courage, the Regent was indisputably superior to Charles. Indeed Charles but narrowly escaped the stain of cowardice. Philip was eminently brave, and, like most brave men, was generally open and sincere. Charles added dissimulation to his other vices. The administration of the Regent was scarcely less pernicious, and infinitely more scandalous, than that of the deceased monarch. It was by magnificent public works, and by wars conducted on a gigantic scale, that Louis had brought distress on his people. The Regent aggravated that distress by frauds, of which a lame duck on the stock-exchange would have been ashamed. France, even
movie remarkable, than the descriptions which, Pensions, regiments, and abbeys were no while suffering under the most severe calami'l bespierre.
ties, had reverenced the ec. spised the swindler. When Orleans and the wretched Dubois had" disappeared, the power passed to the Duke of Bourbon; a prince degraded in the public eye by the infamously lucrative part which he had taken in the juggles of the System, and by the humility with which he bore the caprices of a loose and imperious woman. It seemed to be decreed that every branch of the royal family should successively incur the abhorrence and contempt of the nation. Between the fall of the Duke of Bourbon and the death of Fleury, a few years of frugal and moderate government intervened. Then recommenced the downward progress of the monarchy. Profligacy in the court, extravagance in the finances, schism in the church, faction in the Parliaments, unjust war terminated by ignominious peace—all that indicates and all that produces the ruin of great empires, make up the history of that miserable period. Abroad, the French were beaten and humbled everywhere, by land and by sea, on the Elbe and on the Rhine, in Asia and in America. At home, they were turned over from vizier to vizier, and from sultan to sultan, till they had reached that point beneath which there was no lower abyss of infamy, till the yoke of Maupeou had made them pine for Choiseul, till Madame du Barri had taught them to regret Madame de Pompadour. But unpopular as the monarchy had become the aristocracy was more unpopular still: and not without reason. The tyranny of an individual is far more supportable than the tyranny of a caste. The old privileges were galiing and hateful to the new wealth and the new knowledge. Every thing indicated the approach of no common revolution; of a revolution destined to change, not merely the form of government, but the distribution of property and the whole social system; of a revolution the effects of which were to be felt at every fireside in France; of a new Jaquerie, in which the victory was to remain with Jeques bonhomme. In the van of the movement were the moneyed men and the men of letters—the wounded pride of wealth and the wounded pride of intellect. An immense multitude, made ignorant and cruel by oppression, was raging in the rear. We greatly doubt whether any course which could have been pursued by Louis the Sixteenth could have averted a great convulsion. But we are sure that, if there was such a course, it was the course recommended by M. Turgot. The church and the aristocracy, with that blindness to danger, that incapacity of believing that any thing can be except what has been, which the long possession of power seldom fails to generate, mocked at the couns l which might have saveo them. They woula not have reform; and they had revolution. They would not pay a small contribution it. place of the odious corvées; and they lived to see their castles demolished, and their lands sold to strangers. They would not endure Turgot; and they were forced to endure Ro
eror. She de
Then the rulers of France, as if smitten with 1-tolicial blindness, plunged headlong into the American war. They thus committed at once two great errors. They encouraged the spirit of revolution. They augmented at the same time those public burdens, the pressure of which is generally the immediate cause of revolutions. The event of the war carried to the height the enthusiasm of speculative democrats. The financial difficulties produced by the war carried to the height the discontent of that larger body of people who cared little about theories, and much about taxes.
The meeting of the States-General was the signal for the explosion of all the hoarded passions of a century. In that assembly there were undoubtedly very able men. But they had no practical knowledge of the art of government. All the great English revolutions have been conducted by practical statesmen. The French Revolution was conducted by mere speculators. Our constitution has never been so far behind the age as to have become an object of aversion to the people. The English revolutions have therefore been undertaken for the purpose of correcting, defending, and restoring; never for the mere purpose of destroying. Our countrymen have always, even in times of the greatest excitement, spoken reverently of the form of government under which they lived, and attacked only what they regarded as its corruptions. In the very act of innovating they have constantly appealed to ancient prescription; they have seldom
looked abroad for models; they have seldom
troubled themselves with Utopian theories; they have not been anxious to prove that liberty is a natural right of men; they have been content to regard it as the lawful birthright of Englishmen. Their social contract is no fiction. It is still extant on the original parchment, sealed with wax which was affixed at Runnymede, and attested by the lordly names of the Marischals and Fitzherberts. No general arguments about the original equality of men, no fine stories out of Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos, have ever affected them so much as their own familiar words, Magna Charta, Habeas Corpus, Trial by Jury, Bill of Rights. This part of our national character has undoubtedly its disadvantages. An Englishman too often reasons on politics in the spirit rather of a lawyer than of a philosopher. There is too often something narrow, something exclusive, something Jewish, if we may use the word, in his love of freedom. He is disposed to consider popular rights as the special heritage of the chosen race to which he belongs. lie is inclined rather to repel than to encourage the alien proselyte who aspires to a share of his privileges. Very different was the spirit of the Constituent Assembly. They had none of our narrowness; but they had none of our oractical skill in the management of affairs hey did rot understand how to regulate the order of their own debates; and they thought themselves able to legislate for the whole world. All the past was loathsome to them. All their agreeable associations were connected with one future. Hopes were to them all that recol"ctions are to us. In the institutions of their
country they found nothing to love or to admire. As far back as they could look, they saw only the tyranny of one class and the degradation of another—Frank and Gaul, knight and villein, gentleman and roturier. They hated the monarchy, the church, the nobility. They cared nothing for the States or the Parliament. It was long the fashion to ascribe all the follies which they committed to the writings of the philosophers. We believe that it was misrüle, and nothing but misrule, that put the sting into those writings. It is not true that the French abandoned experience for theories. They took up with theories because they had no experience of good government. It was because they had no charter that they ranted about the original contract. As soon as tolerable institutions were given to them, they began to look to those institutions. In 1830 their rallyingcry was Vive la Charte. In 1789 they had nothing but theories round which to rally. They had seen social distinctions only in a bad form; and it was therefore natural that they should be deluded by sophisms about the equality of men. They had experienced so much evil from the sovereignty of kings, that they might be excused for lending a ready ear to those who preached, in an exaggerated form, the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people. The English, content with their own nation al recollections and names, have never sought for models in the institutions of Greece or Rome. The French, having nothing in their own history to which they could look back with pleasure, had recourse to the history of the great ancient commonwealths: they drew their notions of those commonwealths, not from contemporary writers, but from romances written by pedantic moralists long after the extinction of public liberty. They neglected Thucydides for Plutarch. Blind themselves, they took blind guides. They had no experience of freedom, and they took their opinions concerning it from men who had no more experience of it than themselves, and whose imaginations, inflamed by mystery and privation, exaggerated the unknown enjoyment; from men who raved about patriotism.without hav. ing ever had a country, and eulogized tyranni cide while crouching before tyrants. The maxims which the French legislators learned in this school were, that political liberty is an end, and not a means; that it is not merely valuable as the great safeguard of order, of property, and of morality, but that it is in itself a high and exquisite happiness, to which order, property, and morality ought without one scruple to be sacrificed. The lessons which may be learned from ancient history are indeed most useful and important; but they were not likely to be learned by men who, in all their rhapsodies about the Athenian democracy, seemed utterly to forget that in that democracy there were ten slaves to one citizen ; and who constantly decorated their invectives against the aristocrats with panegyrics on Brutus and Cato, two aristocrats, fiercer, prouder, and more exclusive than any that emigrated with the Count of Artois. We have never met with so vivid and interesting a picture of the National Assembly as
that which M. Dumont has set before us. His Mirabeau, in particular, is incomparable. All the former Mirabeaus were daubs in comparison. Some were merely painted from the imagination, others were gross caricatures; this is the very individual. neither god nor demon, but a man, a Frenchman, a Frenchman of the eighteenth century, with great talents, with strong passions, depraved by bad education, surrounded by temptations of every kind, made desperate at one time by disgrace, and then again intoxicated by fame. All his opposite and seemingly inconsistent qualities are in this representation so blended together as to make up a harmonious and natural whole. Till now, Mirabeau was to us, and, we believe, to most readers of history, not a man, but a string of antitheses. Henceforth he will be a real human being, a remarkable and eccentric being indeed, but perfectly conceivable. He was fond, M. Dumont tells us, of giving odd compound nicknames. Thus, M. de Lafayette was Grandison-Cromwell; the King of Prussia was Alaric-Cottin; D'Espremenil was Crispin-Catiline. We think that Mirabeau himself might be described, after his own fashion, as a Wilkes-Chatham. He had Wilkes's sensuality, Wilkes's levity. Wilkes's insensibility to shame. Like Wilkes, he had brought on himself the censure even of men of pleasure by the peculiar grossness of his immorality, and by the obscenity of his writings. Like Wilkes, he was heedless, not only of the laws of morality, but of the laws of honour. Yet he affected, like Wilkes, to unite the character of the demagogue to that of the fine gentleman. Like Wilkes, he conciliated, by his good-humour and his high spirits, the regard of many who despised his character. like Wilkes, he was hideously ugly; like Wilkes, he made a jest of his own ugliness; and, like Wilkes, he was, in spite of his ugliness, very attentive to his dress, and very successful in affairs of gallantry. Resembling Wilkes in the lower and grosser parts of his character, he had, in his higher qualities, some affinities to Chatham. His eloquence, as far as we can judge of it, bore no inconsiderable resemblance to that of the great English minister. He was not eminently successful m long set speeches. He was not, on the other hand, a close and ready debater. Sudden bursts, which seemed to be the effect of inspiration ; short sentences, which came , like lightning, dazzling, burning, striking down every thing before them; sentences which, spoken at critical moments, decided the fate of great questions; sentences which at once became proverbs; sentences which everybody *titi knows by heart; in these chiefly lay the
oratorical power both of Chatham and of Mira beau. There have been far greater speakers and far greater statesmen than either of them; but we doubt whether any men have, in medern times, exercised such vast personal in fluence over stormy and divided assemblies The power of both was as much moral as in tellectual. In true dignity of character, in private and public virtue, it may seem absurd to institute any comparison between them; but they had the same haughtiness and vehemence of temper. In their language and manner there was a disdainful self-confidence, an imperiousness, a fierceness of passion, before which all common minds quailed. Even Murray and Charles Townshend, though intellectually not inferior to Chatham, were always cowed by him. Barnave, in the same manner, though the-best debater in the National Assembly, flinched before the energy of Mirabeau. Men, except in bad novels, are not all good or all evil. It can scarcely be denied that the virtue of Lord Chatham was a little theatrical. On the other hand, there was in Mirabeau, not indeed anything deserving the name of virtue, but that imperfect substitute for virtue which is found in almost all superior minds, a sensibility to the beautiful and the good, which sometimes amounted to sincere enthusiasm, and which, mingled with the desire of admiration, sometimes gave to his character a lustre resembling the lustre of true goodness; as the “faded splendour wan" which lingered round the fallen archangel, resembled the exceeding brightness of those spirits who had kept their first estate.
There are several other admirable portraits of eminent men in these Memoirs. That of Sieyes in particular, and that of Talleyrand, are masterpieces, full of life and expression But nothing in the book has interested us more than the view which M. Dumont has presented to us, unostentatiously, and, we may say...unconsciously, of his own character. The sturdy rectitude, the large charity, the good-nature, the modesty, the independent spirit, the ardent philanthropy, the unaffected indifference to money and to fame, make up a character which, while it has nothing unnatural, seems to us to approach nearer to perfection than any of the Grandisons and Allworthys of fiction. The work is not indeed precisely such a work as we had anticipated; it is more lively, more picturesque, more amusing than we had promised ourselves, and it is, on the other hand, less profound and philosophic. But if it is not, in all respects. such as might have been expected from the mtellect of M. Dumont. it is assuredly such as might have heen ex pected from nis heart
LORD MAHON's WAR OF THE SUCCESSION."
[EDINBURGH Review, 1833.]
The days when Miscellanies in Prose and Verse, by a Person of Honour, and Romances of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person of Quality, were attractive to readers and profitable to booksellers, have long gone by. The literary privileges once enjoyed by lords are as obsolete as their right to kill the king's deer, on their way to Parliament, or as their old remedy of scandulum magnatum. Yet we must acknowledge that, though our political opinions are by no means aristocratical, we always feel kindly disposed towards noble authors. Industry and a taste for intellectual pleasures are peculiarly respectable in those who can afford to be idle, and who have every temptation to be dissipated. It is impossible not to wish success to a man who, finding himself placed, without any exertion or any merit on his part, above the mass of society, voluntarily descends from his eminence in search of distinctions which he may justly call his own.
This is, we think, the second appearance of Lord Mahon in the character of an author. His first book was creditable to him, but was in every respect inferior to the work which now lies before us. He has undoubtedly some of the most valuable qualities of an historian– great diligence in examining authorities, great judgment in weighing testimony, and great impartiality in estimating characters. We are not aware that he has in any instance forgotten the duties belonging to his literary functions in the feelings of a kinsman. He does no more than justice to his ancestor Stanhope: he does full justice to Stanhope's enemies and rivals. His narrative is very perspicuous, and is also entitled to the praise, seldom, we grieve to say, deserved by modern writers, of being very concise. It must be admitted, however, that, with many of the best qualities of a literary veteran, he has some of the faults of a literary novice. He has no great command of words. IIis style is seldom easy, and is sometimes unpleasantly stiff. He is so bigoted a purist, that he transforms the Abbé d'Estrées into an Abbot. We do not like to see French words introduced into English composition; but, after all, the first law of writing. that law to which all other laws are subordinate, is this—that the words employed shall be such as convey to the reader the nueaning of the writer. Now an Abbot is the head of a religious house; an Abbé is quite a different sort of person. It is better undoubtedly to use an English word than a French word; but it is better to use a French word than to misuse an English word.
* History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By
towd Manon. London: 1832.
Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of uttering moral reflections, in a style too sententious and oracular. We will give one instance: “Strange as it seems, experience shows that we usually feel far more animosity against those whom we have injured, than against those who injure us: and this remark holds good with every degree of intellect, with every class of fortune, with a prince or a peasant, a stripling or an elder, a hero or a prince.” This remark might have seemed strange at the court of Nimrod or Chedorlaomer ; but it has now been sor many generations considered as a truism rather than a paradox. Every man has written on the thesis “Odisse quem laseris.” Scarcely any lines in English poetry are better known than that vigorous couplet: “Forgiveness to the injured does belong ; But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong.” The historians and philosophers have quite done with this maxim, and have abandoned it, like other maxims which have lost their gloss, to bad novelists, by whom it will very soon be worn to rags. It is no more than justice to say, that the faults of Lord Mahon's book are precisely those faults which time seldom fails to cure; and that the book, in spite of its faults, is a valuable addition to our historical literature. Whoever wishes to be well acquainted with the morbid anatomy of governments, whoever wishes to know how great states may be made feeble and wretched, should study the history of Spain. The empire of Philip the Second was undoubtedly one of the most powerful and splendid that ever existed in the world. In Europe he ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands on both sides of the Rhine, Franche Comté, Roussillon, the Milanese, and the Two Sicilies. Tuscany, Parma, and the other small states of Italy were as completely dependent on him as the Nizam and the Rajah of Berar now are on the East India Company. In Asia, the King of Spain was master of the Philippines, and of all those rich settlements which . the Portuguese had made on the coasts of Malabar and Coromandel, in the Peninsula of Malacca, and in the Spice Islands of the Eastern Archipelago. In America, his dominions extended on each side of the equator into the There is reason to believe that his annual revenue amounted, in the season of his greatest power, to four millions sterling; a sum eight times as large as that which England yielded to Elizabeth. He had a standing army of fifty thousand excellent troops, at a time when England had not a single battalion in constant pay. His ordinary naval force consisted of a hundred and forty galleys. He
held, what no other prince in modern times
has held, the dominion both of the land and of