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to have outweighed all other considerations. Such a defect in the plan is the more to be regretted, because M. JONDOT gives evidence of considerable ability in historical composition; and he appears to the most advantage in those passages in which he sums up, at the conclusion of a chapter, the general characteristics of a particular æra. We present our readers with his reflections on the Empires of Rome and Constantinople, after the death of Constantine the Great :
• The Roman empire, restored to unity under Constantine, now discovered some signs of energy ; the barbarians were defeated in the East and West, and respected the power of this Emperor: but his sons did not inherit his talents; the degeneracy of the idolatrous Romans went on increasing; and the public calamities were renewed. Thcodo. sius the Great accelerated their progress by following the policy of Claudius II. and Dioclesian, in incorporating the barbarians into the Roman legions. This gave the finishing blow to the Empire of the West, and extinguished the antient valour of the Romans. Theodosius, placed in difficult circumstances, had a fair excuse, but Claudius and Dioclesian had none. As soon as the Romans consented to purchase exemption from military service, and to trust strangers with the defence of the state, there was an end of public spirit ; government lost its regularity, and the citizens lost their country. It was then that the disciplined barbarians, awakened to a sense of their strength, precipitated themselves on this colossal empire, overthrew it, broke it into pieces, appropriated it to themselves, disputed among each other for its vast ruins, and erected the monarchies of modern Europe.
• Never did an empire, on the brink of destruction, find so many resources which might have accomplished its re-establishment, if a certain fatality, or rather a decree of Heaven, had not decided otherwise. Able Generals appeared, and succeeded each other in crowds : but they were almost all of barbarian origin, and were Romans only in ambition ;-such were Stilico the Vandal, Ætius the Mæsian, and Ricimer the Suevian, who were the most famous military characters
The last would suffer only the shadows of Emperors to exist ; yet, notwithstanding this base policy, he became unconsciously the instrument of raising great men to the empire. It was he who, by cutting them off in their career, proved himself the real subverter of the Western Empire.
• Almost all the barbarous nations, who assailed the Roman Empire, began by ravaging both sides of the Danube. According to ordinary calculation, and according to those rules which make us consider Asia as the seat of effeminacy and cowardice, and Europe the seat of courage and discipline, we should be led to expect in the first instance the fall of the Eastern Empire. The contrary, however, was the case. The Western Emperors, devoid of policy, wished to impose on the barbarians by the antient majesty of the Roman name, and irritated them by assassinating their chiefs; while they themselves, a prey to traitors, were only the phantoms of sovereigns. Be. sides, the ablest Generals, such as those whom we have already named, while they propped the empire with one hand, applied the other to sap its foundations.
• The Eastern Emperors. equally weak but more artful, and, above all, more compliant than their colleagues, were at least sensible of their own inefficiency, and disarıned the Goths and Huns, by submitting to the momentary humiliation of a tribute. Intent on sowing dissension among the barbarians, they diminished by these means their power of doing mischief to other nations; and the whole of their government bore greater indications of secrecy and concert than that of Rome.'
M. JOndot gives evident marks of his being a Frenchman, both in partiality to his ancestors and in the general style of his composition. Exaggeration is a prominent characteristic of his work, and it is scarcely necessary to add that this is productive of frequent inaccuracies and misrepresentations. His lofty encomium on the morals of the Chinese, (vol. i. p. 154.,) and his inference that an adherence to antient
usages increases political strength, are striking examples also of his want of sudgment. In regard to his credulity, it will be sufficient to state his belief of the vulgar report that Homer was reduced to beg his bread throughout Greece, and that the Phænicians (vol. i. p. 56.) not only doubled the Cape of Good Hope, but extended their westward voyages to the continent of America. Of his partiality to his ancestors the Gauls, the first instance occurs in the capture of Rome by Brennus, vol. i. p. 231. It will be in the recollection of most of our readers that, after these invaders had destroyed the city, they besieged the capitol, the obstinate defence of which gave time to Camillus to assemble an army, and to overpower them. According to M. JONDOT, however, the " Gauls withdrew by treaty, and Camillus's victory secms an invention of the Roman historians to disguise the shame of their ancestors.' In the concluding summary of the chapter, he describes the Gauls as “ a people who had come forwards on the stage of history with the greatest éclat.' In the age of Alexander, it is amusing to find the author explaining the incursions of these savages (vol. i. p. 268.) into Greece and Asia in such terms as the following:
The Gauls, warlike and proud, wished also to obtain renown, and to conquer nations not so good as themselves.' Ptolemy Ceraunus, having by means of assassination (vol. ii. p. 6.) usurped the throne of Macedon, the Gauls invade his kingdom, as if sent from heaven to punish this monster. When Cæsar had accomplished the conquest of Gaul, M. JOndor modestly remarks, (vol. ii. p. 98.) · Never would Gaul have become subject to the Roman empire, had its inhabitants been united : but it was the policy of Cæsar to conquer one part of the nation by the arms of another part.' For the Franks, the more immediate predecessors of his present countrymen, the author has
yet higher encomiums in reserve., Still braver than the Gauls, their prominent characteristic was impetuosity; they were a nation of hunters. If a warrior lost an arm in battle, he continued to fight resolutely with the arm that remained.'
As a proper finish to these extravagancies of national conceit, we shall give the author's account of the modern battle of Aboukir. It has been generally thought that the position of the French fleet was very advantageous, and their Admiral wrote that « it was such as to bid defiance to all the navies of the universe:" but M. Jondor has no hesitation in dissenting from general opinion, and in ascribing to this position the loss of the battle. i The French fleet,' he says, (vol. iv. p. 490.) . had gone too far into Aboukir-bay; the English Admiral
, Nelson, came up; a furious combat ensued ; and the enemy,taking advantage of the wind, as well as of our bad position, obtained a great victory.
We must admit, however, that M. JONDOT's style is always serious, and sufficiently elevated even for the dignity of history. It would be unsuited to familiar illustrations, and accords best with a momentous and impressive subject. His description of the pestilence, which desolated the civilized world in the middle of the fourteenth century, is thus given:
• What a disastrous epoch for humanity was this : no refuge could be found on earth for the inoffensive inhabitants : but war, pesti. lence, and famine followed each other throughout the world. Swarms of locusts scattered desolation during three successive years, and were in France, as well as in Germany, the forerunners of farther calamities to the people. Repeated earthquakes preceded the pestilence; and the noxious vapours exhaled from these concussions conduced, in the opinion of some persons, to the infection, thougla the more general belief is that it was brought to Europe by mer. chant vessels. This terrible scourge traversed the ivhole civilized world, and swept off in its progress a third of the population both in town and country ; brute animals as well as men were attacked by it : great cities resembled sepulchres ; and the dead were carried to the grave by the dying. Throughout Asia, the fields remained uncultivated and desert, and famine destroyed those whom the contagion had spared. In the city and neighbourhood of London, the number of victims were reckoned at 50,000 ; in Florence, 60,coo ; ia Lubeck, 60 oco ; and in Paris, above 500 dead bodies were daily care ried out of the Hôtel Dien. Venice was almost stript of its inhabitants, and the nobles of the great council were reduced from 1250 to 380. Andrea Dandolo, the Doge, attracted new inhabitants by granting them advantageous privileges : but the sick alınost all died through neglect. • A religious terror overcame the minds of men.
These scourges were considered as the forerunners of the destruction of the world ; and a passage in the Apocalypse, erroneonly translated, gave a
sanction to this prejudice. Soldiers exchanged their warlike toile for the care of their souls: the countrymen suspended their agricultural labours : groans and cries of penitence were heard in all directions ; and bands of men and women were seen lacerating their bodies with stripes.
• As if the plague had not destroyed a sufficient number of lives, persecution was extended to the Jews. The populace imputed their afflictions to these wanderers, and burnt numbers of them in France, Germany, and Italy.'
This writer is so far from being an admirer of republics, that his tenets seem decidedly monarchical. In one passage, (Vol. ii. p. 64.) he calls the Romans artful and deceitful republicans ;' in another, (p.61.) they are the oppressors of all nations.' He terms the philosophical writings of Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, ‘plots against the throne and the altar;' and he ascribes the origin of the whole to a false admiration of English habits and English liberty.
The French press seems now to be completely under the influence of government, and scarcely a book comes into our hands that is not filled with panegyrics on Bonaparte : who, according to M. Jondot, is the restoring spirit who has reestablished social order on the ruins of civil war. The defence of Acre is no more introduced in this history than if it had never taken place. It happens unluckily, however, for the flatterers of Bonaparte, that his conduct varies so much at different times, that what is meant for praise in one season may be regarded as sarcasm in another. Having mentioned the harsh treatment of the aged Pius VI. by the Directory, the author exclaims, (Vol. iv. p. 518.) the conqueror of Italy was then on the borders of the Nile, and could not protect this victim.'-M. JONDOT might have maintained impartiality, and avoided interference with living characters, by terminating his narrative at the beginning of the French Revolution : an event which forms but too memorable an æra in the history of mankind, and a narrative of which, in the narrow limits prescribed in this work, is necessarily possessed of little interest.
We turn now to some passages of animated description with which the volumes are interspersed. The account of the flourishing state of literature under Louis XIV. is both elegant and instructive:
« The distinctive mark of this age is that every nation in Europe made progress in literature. It was from the convent of Port Royal that the sparks which gave fire to the French nation first emanated. Blaise Pascal, by fixing our language in his “ Provincial Letters," laid the foundation of the edifice ; and polished writers laboured to give from time to time an elega form and established rules to our language. Corneille, by the masculine fire of his genius, revives the
most famous Romans on the stage, and makes them speak as if he were their interpreter. Racine, whose name is identified with perfection, - a poet at once tender, sublime, and full of harmony, -transa' ports our passions at the time that he delights our fancy by the cor. rectness and liveliness of his descriptione. Before the age of Corneille, comedy was in a rude state : but his Liar attracted universal appro• bation
• Moliere paints the folljes of his age in a strain which is superior to Aristophanes, Terence, or Plautus. Wit, humour, and point, season each of his pieces, and make them universally admired. -La Fone taine utters the voice of nature herself, and possessed the most original mind perhaps of this surprising age; moral lessons were never deliver. ed with so much grace as by this inimitable poet. Boileau teaches the art of making fine verses, and serves as a guide to his contemporaries by giving them excellent specimens in his own. Such an Aristarchus was required for such an age. Quinault writes lyrics full of softness, grace, sweetness, and sometimes of sublimity.
Mad. de Sevigné immortalizes herself in the epistolary style by a liveliness, a grace, and a happy negligence which seem to be the prerogative of women.
• On the one hand, Fenelon conveys, in ihe attractive shape of poetry, lessons of virtue and sound policy to crowned heads ; on the other, Bossuet, from the height of his evangelic chair, alarms them with the nullity of human greatness. His eloquence is irresistible ; he overthrows and crushes impiety whenever it dares to withstand him. Never did the proud and polished court of Louis XIV. hear this powerful apostle but with the closest attention. A profound and sublime historian, Bossuet, in his Essay on Universal History, attracted the admiration of every nation except the French, who for a long time under-rated this masterly performance.
• The manly and austere eloquence of Bourdaloue despises orna. ment: but the force of his diction, the solidity and energy of his thoughts, and a knowlege of the human heart, place this Jesuit by the side of Bossuet himself. In Fléchier, art is too apparent :-yet in some of his funeral orations, especially on Turenne, he rises above himself, and makes good his claim to permanent fame. Massillon closes the list of these sacred orators, and among them all dived deepest into the human heart. His “ Petit Carême' is perhaps the most finished composition that was ever written.--La Bruyere developes, in his " Characters,” the inconsistencies and oddities of society; while La Rochefoucauld, in his “ Maxims,” penetrates the springs of our self-love, and the secret motives of our actions.'
On the whole, M. JONDOT's book may be of some use to those who are already acquainted with history, but we cannot recommend it to beginners. The ability of the writer in the execution of it does not counterbalance the defects of his plan. His readers must also be on their guard against typographical errors, which are numerous. Vol. ii. p. 164, Edward III. stands for Edward I.- Page 188, Perses for Parthes.-Vol. iv. p. 513, the year 1793 for the year 1796, &c.