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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 Massil
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' 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 philcsophy; 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.
ties, had reverenced the co. eror. She de 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. commenced the downward progress of the monarchy. Profligacy in the court, extravagance in the finances, schism in the church, faction in the Parliaments, unjust war termi nated 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 revolu tion 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 Jaques 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 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 would 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 ad Jadicial 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 de 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 up with theories because they had no expe
The meeting of the States-General was the signal for the explosion of all the hoarded pas-rience of good government. It was because sions of a century. In that assembly there 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 look vernment. All the great English revolutions to those institutions. In 1830 their rallyinghave been conducted by practical statesmen. cry was Vive la Charte. In 1789 they had noThe French Revolution was conducted 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 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. He 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 | practical skil in the management of affairs They did not 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 the future. Hopes were to them pll that recolctions are to us. In the institutions of their
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 expe rience 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 scru ple 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, fercer, prouder, and more exclusive than any that emigrated with the Count of Artois.
We have never met with so vivid and inte. resting 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 in 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 sti 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 mo dern 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 any thing 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 prtraits 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 intellect of M. Dumon! it is assuredly such a might have been ex pected from his 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 scandalum 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 historiangreat 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. His 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 meaning 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.
Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of utter. ing 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 for many generations consider ed 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 temperate zone. There is reason to believe that his annual revenue amounted, in the season of his greatest power, to four millions ster ling; 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
• History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By has held, the dominion both of the land and of
LORD MAHON. London: 1832.
claimed by the grave and haughty chiefs who surrounded the throne of Ferdinand the Catholic, and of his immediate successors. That majestic art, "premere imperio populos," was not better understood by the Romans in the proudest days of their republic, than by Gonsalvo and Ximenes, Cortes and Alva. The skill of the Spanish diplomatists was renowned throughout Europe. In England the name of Gondomar is still remembered. The sovereign nation was unrivalled both in regular and irregular warfare. The impetuous chivalry of France, the serried phalanx of Switzerland, were alike found wanting when brought face to face with the Spanish infantry. In the wars of the New World where something different from ordinary strategy was required in the general, and something different from ordinary discipline in the soldier--where it was every day necessary to meet by some new expedient the varying tactics of a barbarous enemy, the Spanish adventurers, sprung from the common people, displayed a fertility of resource, and a talent for negotiation and command, to which history scarcely affords a parallel.
The Castilian of those times was to the Italian what the Roman, in the days of the greatness of Rome, was to the Greek. The conqueror had less ingenuity, less taste, less delicacy of perception than the conquered; but far more pride, firmness, and courage; a more solemn demeanour, a stronger sense of honour. The one had more subtilty in speculation, the other more energy in action. The vices of the one were those of a coward; the vices of the other were those of a tyrant. It may be added, that the Spaniard, like the Roman, did not disdain to study the arts and the language of those whom he oppressed. A revolution took place in the literature of Spain, not unlike to that revolution which, as Horace tells us, took place in the poetry of Latium; "Capta ferum victorem cepit." The slave took prisoner the enslaver. The old Castilian ballads gave place to sonnets in the style of Petrarch, and to heroic poems in the stanza of Ariosto; as the national songs of Rome were driven out by imitations of Theocritus and translations from Menander.
During the greater part of his reign he was supreme on both elements. His soldiers marched up to the capital of France; his ships menaced the shores of England.
It is no exaggeration to say, that during several years, his power over Europe was greater than even that of Napoleon. The influence of the French conqueror never extended beyond low-water mark. The narrowest strait was to his power what it was of old believed that a running stream was to the sorceries of a witch. While his army entered every metropolis, from Moscow to Lisbon, the English fleets blockaded every port, from Dantzic to Trieste. Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Guernsey, enjoyed security through the whole course of a war which endangered every throne on the continent. The victorious and imperial nation, which had filled its museums with the spoils of Antwerp, of Florence, and of Rome, was suffering painfully from the want of luxuries which use had rendered necessaries. While pillars and arches were rising to commemorate the French conquests, the conquerors were trying to make coffee out of succory, and sugar out of beet-root. The influence of Philip on the continent was as great as that of Napoleon. The Emperor of Germany was his kinsman. France, torn by religious dissensions, was never a formidable opponent, and was sometimes a dependent ally. At the same time, Spain had what Napoleon desired in vain-ships, colonies, and commerce. She long monopolized the trade of America and of the Indian Ocean. All the gold of the West, and all the spices of the East, were received and distributed by her. During many years of war, her commerce was interrupted only by the predatory enterprises of a few roving privateers. Even after the defeat of the Armada, English statesmen continued to look with great dread on the maritime power of Philip. "The King of Spain," said the Lord Keeper to the two Houses in 1593, "since he hath usurped upon the kingdom of Portugal, hath thereby grown mighty by gaining the East Indies; so as, how great soever he was before, he is now thereby manifestly more great. ... He keepeth a navy armed to impeach all trade of merchandise from England to Gascoigne and Guienne, which he attempted to do this last vintage; so as he is now become as a frontier enemy to all the west of England, as well as all the south parts, as Sussex, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight. Yea, by means of his interest in St. Maloes, a port full of shipping for the war, he is a dangerous neighbour to the queen's isles of Jersey and Guernsey, ancient possessions of this crown, and never conquered in the greatest wars with France." The ascendency which Spain then had in Europe, was, in one sense, well deserved. It was an ascendency which had been gained by unquestioned superiority in all the arts of policy and of war. In the sixteenth century, Italy was not more decidedly the land of the fine arts, Germany was not more decidedly the land of bold theological speculation, than Spain was the land of statesmen and of soldiers. The character which Virgil has ascribed to his countrymen might have been VOL. II.-25
In no modern society, not even in England during the reign of Elizabeth, has there been so great a number of men eminent at once in literature and in the pursuits of active life, as Spain produced during the sixteenth century. Almost every distinguished writer was also distinguished as a soldier and a politician. Boscan bore arms with high reputation. Gar cilasso de Vega, the author of the sweetest and most graceful pastoral poem of modern times, after a short but splendid military career, fell sword in hand at the head of a storming party. Alonzo de Ercilla bore a conspicuous part in that war of Arauco, which he afterwards celebrated in the best heroic poem that Spain has produced. Hurtado de Mendoza, whose poems have been compared to those of Horace, and whose charming little novel is evidently the mo del of Gil Blas, has been handed down to us by history as one of the sternest of those iron pro consuls, who were employed by the house of Austria to crush the lingering public spirit of