Imágenes de páginas

more in request at the circulating libraries than the last novel.

Sir James was not, we think, gifted with poetical imagination. But the lower kind of imagination which is necessary to the historian, he had in large measure. It is not the business of the historian to create new worlds and to people them with new races of beings. He is to Homer and Shakspeare, to Dante and Milton, what Nollekens was to Canova, or Lawrence to Michel Angelo. The object of the historian's imagination is not within him; it is furnished from without. It is not a vision of beauty and grandeur discernible only by the eye of his own mind; but a real model which he did not make, and which he cannot alter. Yet his is not a mere mechanical imitation. The triumph of his skill is to select such parts as may produce the effect of the whole, to bring out strongly all the characteristic features, and to throw the light and shade in such a manner as may heighten the effect. This skill, as far as we can judge from the unfinished work now before us, Sir James Mackintosh possessed in an eminent degree.

shock us more than this Supplement. The Memoir contains much that is worth reading; for it contains many extracts from the compositions of Sir James Mackintosh. But when we pass from what the biographer has done with his scissors, to what he has done with his pen, we find nothing worthy of appro bation. Instead of confining himself to the only work which he is competent to performthat of relating facts in plain words--he fa vours us with his opinions about Lord Bacon, and about the French literature of the age of Louis XIV.; and with opinions, more absurd still, about the poetry of Homer, whom it is evident, from his criticismus, that he cannot read in the original. He affects, and for aught we know, feels something like contempt for the celebrated man whose life he has under taken to write, and whom he was incompetent to serve in the capacity even of a corrector of the press. Our readers may form a notion of the spirit in which the whole narrative is composed, from expressions which occur at the beginning. This biographer tells us that Mackintosh, on occasion of taking his medical degree at Edinburgh, "not only put off the writing of his Thesis to the last moment, but was an hour behind his time on the day of examination, and kept the Academic Senate waiting for him in full conclave." This irregularity, which no sensible professor would have thought deserving of more than a slight reprimand, is described by the biographer, after a lapse of nearly half a century, as an incredible instance "not so much of indolence as of gross negli gence and bad taste." But this is not all. Our biographer has contrived to procure a copy of the Thesis, and has sate down with his As in præsenti and his Propria quæ maribus at his side, to pick out blunders in a composition written by a youth of twenty-one, on the occasion alluded to. He finds one mistake-such a mistake as the greatest scholar might commit when in haste, and as the veriest schoolboy would detect when at leisure. He glories over this precious discovery with all the exultation of a pedagogue. "Deceived by the passive termination of the deponent verb defungor, Mackin

The style of this Fragment is weighty, manly, and unaffected. There are, as we have said, some expressions which seem to us harsh, and some which we think inaccurate. These would probably have been corrected, if Sir James had lived to superintend the publication. We ought to add that the printer has by no means done his duty. One misprint in particular is so serious as to require notice. Sir James Mackintosh has paid a high and just tribute to the genius, the integrity, and the courage of a good and great man, a distinguished ornament of English literature, a fearless champion of English liberty, Thomas Burnet, Master of the Charter-House, and author of that most eloquent and imaginative work, the Telluris Theoria Sacra. Wherever the name of this celebrated man occurs, it is printed "Bennet," both in the text and in the index. This cannot be mere negligence: it is plain that Thomas Burnet and his writings were never heard of by the gentleman who has been employed to edite this volume; and who, not content with deforming Sir James Mackintosh misuses it in a passive sense." He is tosh's text by such blunders, has prefixed to it a calumnious Memoir, has appended to it a most unworthy Continuation, and has thus succeeded in expanding the volume into one of the thickest, and debasing it into one of the worst that we ever saw. Never did we see so admirable an illustration of the old Greek proverb, which tells us that half is sometimes more than the whole. Never did we see a case in which the increase of the bulk was so evidently a diminution of the value.

Why such an artist was selected to deface so fine a Torso, we cannot pretend to conjecture. We read that, when the Consul Mummius, after the taking of Corinth, was preparing to send to Rome some works of the greatest Grecian sculptors, he told the packers that if they broke his Venus or his Apollo, he would force them to restore the limbs which should be wanting. A head by a hewer of milestones, joined to a losom by Praxiteles. would not surprise or

not equally fortunate in his other discovery. "Laude conspurcare," whatever he may think, is not an improper phrase. Mackintosh mant to say that there are men whose praise is a disgrace. No person, we are sure, who has read this Memoir, will doubt that there are men whose abuse is an honour.

But we must proceed to more important matters. This writer evidently wishes to impress his readers with a belief that Sir James Mackintosh, from interested motives, abandoned the doctrines of the "Vindiciae Gallica." Had his statements appeared in their natural place, we should leave them to their natural fate. We would not stoop to defend Sir James Mackintosh from the attacks of fourthrate magazines and pothouse newspapers. But here his own fame is turned against him. A book, of which not one copy would ever have been bought but for his name in the title-page, is made the vehicle of the siander. Under

such circumstances we cannot help exclaiming, in the words of one of the most amiable of Homer's heroes,

* Νυν τις ενηειης Πατροκληος δειλοιο

Μνησάσθω, πασιν γαρ επιστατο μείλιχος είναι
Ζωος των', νυν δ' αυ θάνατος και μοιρα κιχάνει.”

à aucune forme de gouvernement. Il pense que la meilleure constitution pour un peuple est celle à laquelle il est accoutumé. . . Le vice fondamental des théories sur les constitutions politiques, c'est de commencer par attaquer celles qui existent, et d'exciter tout au moins des inquiétudes et des jalousies de pouvoir. Une telle disposition n'est point favorable au perfectionnement des lois. La seule époque où l'on puisse entreprendre avec succès de grandes réformes de législation, est celle où les passions publiques sont calmes, et où le gouvernement jouit de la stabilité la plus grande. L'objet de M. Bentham, en cherchant dans le vice des lois la cause de la plupart des maux, a été constamment d'éloigner le plus | grand de tous, le bouleversement de l'autorité, les révolutions de propriété et de pouvoir."

We have no difficulty in admitting that, during the ten or twelve years which followed the appearance of the "Vindicia Gallica," the opinions of Sir James Mackintosh underwent some change. But did this change pass on him alone? Was it not common? Was it not almost universal? Was there one honest friend of liberty in Europe or in America whose ardour had not been damped, whose faith in the high destinies of mankind had not been shaken? Was there one observer to whom the French Revolution, or revolutions in general, appeared To so conservative a frame of mind had the exactly in the same light on the day when the excesses of the French Revolution brought the Bastille fell and on the day when the Girond- most uncompromising reformers of that time. ists were dragged to the scaffold-the day when | And why is one person to be singled out from the Directory shipped off their principal oppo- among millions and arraigned before posterity nent for Guiana, or the day when the Legisla- as a traitor to his opinions, only because events tive Body was driven from its hall at the point produced on him the effect which they proof the bayonet? We do not speak of enthu-duced on a whole generation? This biographer siastic and light-minded people-of wits like may, for aught we know, have revelations from Sheridan, or poets like Alfieri, but of the most Heaven like Mr. Percival, or pure anticipated virtuous and intelligent practical statesmen, cognitions like the disciples of Kant. But such and of the deepest, the calmnest, the most im- poor creatures as Mackintosh, Dumont, and partial political speculators of that time. What Bentham had nothing but observation and reawas the language and conduct of Lord Spen- son to guide them, and they obeyed the guidance ser, of Lord Fitzwilliam, of Mr. Grattan? What of observation and reason. How is it in phyis the tone of Dumont's Memoirs, written just sics? A traveller falls in with a fruit which at the close of the eighteenth century? What he had never before seen. He tastes it, and Tory could have spoken with greater disgust finds it sweet and refreshing. He praises it, and contempt of the French Revolution and its and resolves to introduce it into his own counauthors Nay, this writer, a republican, and try. But in a few minutes he is taken violently the most upright and zealous of republicans, sick; he is convulsed; he is at the point of has gone so far as to say that Mr. Burke's death; no medicine gives him relief. He of work on the Revolution had saved Europe. course pronounces this delicious food a poison, The name of M. Dumont naturally suggests blames his own folly in tasting it, and cautions that of Mr. Bentham. He, we presume, was not his friends against it. After a long and violent ratting for a place; and what language did he struggle he recovers, and finds himself much hold at that time? Look at his little treatise exhausted by his sufferings, but free from some entitled "Sophismes Anarchiques." In that trea- chronic complaints which had been the torment tise he says, that the atrocities of the Revolu- of his life. He then changes his opinion again, tion were the natural consequences of the ab- and pronounces this fruit a very powerful resurd principles on which it was commenced;-medy, which ought to be employed only in exthat while the chiefs of the constituent assem-treme cases, and with great caution, but which bly gloried in the thought that they were pull- ought not to be absolutely excluded from the ing down an aristocracy, they never saw that " Pharmacopoeia." And would it not be the their doctrines tended to produce an evil a height of absurdity to call such a man fickle hundred times more formidable-anarchy; and inconsistent because he had repeatedly that the theory iaid down in the "Declaration altered his judgment? If he had not altered of the Rights of Man” had, in a great measure, his judgment, would he have been a rational produced the crimes of the Reign of Terror;--being? that none but an eye-witness could imagine the horrors of a state of society in which comments on that Declaration were put forth by men with no food in their bellies, with rags on their backs, and with arms in their hands. He praises the English Parliament for the dislike which it has always shown to abstract reasonings, and to the affirming of general principles. In M. Dumont's preface to the "Treatise on the Principles of Legislation"- -a preface written under the eye of Mr. Bentham and published with his sanction--are the following still more remarkable expressions :--" M. Bentham est bien loin d'attacher une préférence exclusive

It was exactly the same with the French Revolution. That event was a new phenomenon in politics. Nothing that nad gone before enabled any person to judge with certainty of the course which affairs might take. At first the effect was the reform of great abuses, and honest men rejoiced. Then came commotion, proscription, confiscation, the bank ruptcy, the assignats, the maximum, civil war foreign war, revolutionary tribunals, guillotin ades, noyades, fusillades. Yet a little while, and a military despotism rose out of the con. fusion, and threatened the independence of every state in Europe. And yet again a litte while, and the old dynasty returned, fcilowed

by a train of emigrants eager to restore the old abuses. We have now, we think, the whole before us. We should therefore be justly accused of levity or insincerity if our language concerning those events were constantly changing. It is our deliberate opinion that the French Revolution, in spite of all its crimes and follies, was a great blessing to mankind. But it was not only natural, but inevitable, that those who had only seen the first act should be ignorant of the catastrophe, and should be alternately elated and depressed as the plot went on disclosing itself to them. A man who had held exactly the same opinion about the Revolution in 1789, in 1794, in 1804, in 1814, and in 1834, would have been either a divinely inspired prophet or an obstinate fool. Mackintosh was neither. He was simply a wise and good man; and the change which passed on his mind was a change which passed on the mind of almost every wise and good man in Europe. In fact, few of his contemporaries changed so little. The rare moderation and calmness of his temper preserved him alike from extravagant elation and from extravagant despondency. He was never a Jacobin. He was never an Antijacobin. His mind oscillated undoubtedly; but the extreme points of the oscillation were not very remote. Herein he differed greatly from some persons of distinguished talents who entered into life at nearly the same time with him. Such persons we have seen rushing from one wild extreme to another-out-Paining Paine--out-Castlereagh

his course through those times. Exposed suc. cessively to two opposite infections, he took both in their very mildest form. The consti tution of his mind was such that neither of the diseases which committed such havoc all around him could, in any serious degree, or for any great length of time, derange his intellectual health. He, like every honest and enlightened man in Europe, saw with delight the great awakening of the French nation. Yet he never, in the season of his warmest enthusiasm, proclaimed doctrines inconsistent with the safety of property and the just authority of governments. He, like almost every honest and enlightened man, was discouraged and perplexed by the terrible events which fol lowed. Yet he never, in the most gloomy times, abandoned the cause of peace, of liberty, and of toleration. In that great convulsion which overset almost every other understanding, he was indeed so much shaken that he leaned sometimes in one direction and sometimes in the other; but he never lost his balance. The opinions in which he at last reposed, and to which, in spite of strong temptations, he adhered with a firm, a disinterested, an ill-requited fidelity, were a just mean between those which he had defended with a youthful ardour and with more than manly prowess against Mr. Burke; and those to which he had inclined during the darkest and saddest years in the history of modern Europe. We are much mistaken if this be the picture either of a weak or of a dishonest mind.

ing Castlereagh-Pantisocratists--ultra-Tories What his political opinions were in his lat--Heretics-Persecutors--breaking the old ter years is written in the annals of his country. laws against sedition--calling for new and Those annals will sufficiently refute the calumsharper laws against sedition-writing demo- ny which his biographer has ventured to puberatic dramas--writing laureate odes--pane- lish in the very advertisement to his work. gyrizing Marten-panegyrizing Laud-consist- "Sir James Mackintosh," says he, "was avowent in nothing but in an intolerance which in edly and emphatically a Whig of the Revoany person would be offensive, but which is lution: and since the agitation of religious altogether unpardonable in men who, by their liberty and parliamentary reform became a naown confession, have had such ample experi- tional movement, the great transaction of 1688 ence of their own fallibility. We readily con- has been more dispassionately, more correctly, cede to some of these persons the praise of elo- and less highly estimated."-While we tran quence and of poetical invention, nor are we scribe the words, our anger cools down into by any means disposed, even where they have scorn. If they mean any thing, they must been gainers by their conversion, to question mean that the opinions of Sir James Mackintheir sincerity. It would be most uncandid to tosh concerning religious liberty and parlia attribute to sordid motives actions which ad-mentary reform went no further than those of mit of a less discreditable explanation. We think that the conduct of these persons has been precisely what was to be expected from men who were gifted with strong imagination and quick sensibility, but who were neither accurate observers nor logical reasoners. It was natural that such men should see in the victory of the third estate in France the dawn of a new Saturnian age. It was natural that the disappointment should be proportioned to the extravagance of their hopes. Though the direction of their passions was altered, the violence of those passions was the same. The force of the rebouna was proportioned to the force of the original impulse. The pendulum 2.wung furiously to the left because it had been drawn too far to the right.

We own that nothing gives us so high an idea of the judgment and temper of Sir James Mackintosh as the manner in which he shaped

the authors of the Revolution,-in other words, that Sir James Mackintosh opposed Catholic Emancipation, and quite approved of the old constitution of the House of Commons. The allegation is confuted by twenty volumes of parliamentary debates, nay, by innumerable passages in the very fragment which this wri ter has done his little utmost to deface. We tell him that Sir James Mackintosh has often done more for religious liberty and for parlia mentary reform in a quarter of an hour than the feeble abilities of his biographer will ever effect in the whole course of a long life.

The Continuation which follows Sir James Mackintosh's Fragment is as offensive as the Memoir which precedes it. We do not pre tend to have read the whole, or even one half of it. Three hundred quarto pages of such matter are too much for human patience. It would be unjust to the writer not to present

our readers few of whom, we suspect, will be his readers, with a sample of his eloquence. We will treat them with a short sentence, and will engage that they shall think it long enough. "Idolatry! fatal word, which has edged more swords, lighted more fires, and inhumanized more hearts, than the whole vocabulary of the passions besides." A choice style for history, we must own! This gentleman is fond of the word "vocabulary." He speaks very scornfully of Churchill's "vocabulary," and blames Burnet for the "hardihood of his vocabulary." What this last expression may mean, we do not very clearly understand. But we are quite sure that Burnet's vocabulary, with all its hardihood, would never have dared to admit such a word as "inhumanized."

Of the accuracy of the Continuation as to matters of fact we will give a single specimen. With a little time we could find twenty such. Bishop Lloyd did not live to reap, at least to enjoy, the fruit of his public labours and secret intrigues. He died soon after the Re

volution, upon his translation from St. Asaph to Worcester." Nobody tolerably well acquainted with political, ecclesiastical, or literary history, can need to be told that Lloyd was not made Bishop of Worcester till the year 1699, after the death of Stillingfleet; that he outlived the Revolution nearly thirty years; and died in the reign of George I. This blunder is the more inexcusable, as one of the most curious and best known transactions in the time of Anne, was the address of the House of Commons to the queen, begging her to dismiss Lloyd from his place of almoner.

As we turn over the leaves, another sentence catches our eye. We extract it as an instance both of historical accuracy and philosophical profundity. "Religion in 1688 was not a ra

tional conviction, or a sentiment of benevolence and charity; but one of the_malignant passions, and a cause of quarrel. Even in the next age, Congreve makes a lying sharper, in one of his plays, talk seriously of fighting for his religion." What is meant by "even in the next age?" Congreve's first work, the novel of "Cleophil," was written in the very year 1688; and the "Old Bachelor," from which the quotation is taken, was brought on the stage only five years after the Revolution. But this great logician ought to go further. Sharper talks of fighting, not only for his religion, but for his friends. We presume, therefore, that in the year 1688, friendship was "one of the malignant passions, and a cause of quarrel." But enough and too much of such folly.

Never was there such a contrast as that which Sir James's Fragment presents to this Continuation. In the former, we have scarcely been able, during several close examinations, to detect one mistake as to matter of fact. We never open the latter without lighting on a ridiculous blunder which it does not require the assistance of any book of reference to detect. The author has not the smallest notion of the state of England in 1688; of the feelings and opinions of the people; of the relative position of parties; of the character of one single public man on either side. No single passage can give any idea of this equally tiffused ignorance,

this omninescience, if we may carry the "hardihood of our vocabulary" so far as to coin a new word for what is to us quite a new thing. We take the first page on which we open as a fair sample, and no more than a fair sample, of the whole.

"Lord Halifax played his part with deeper perfidy. This opinion is expressed without reference to the strange statement of Bishop Burnet, which seems, indeed, too inconsistent to be true. It should be cited, however, for the judg ment of the reader. The Marquis of Halifax, says he, (on the arrival of the commissioners at Hungerford,) 'sent for me; but the prince said, though he would suspect nothing from our meeting, others might; so I did not speak Yet he took occasion to ask me, so as nobody with him in private, but in the hearing of others. observed it, if we had a mind to have the king in our hands. I said by no means, for we would had a mind to go away? I said nothing was not hurt his person. He asked next, what if he

so much to be wished for. This I told the

prince, and he approved of both my answers.'

"Is it credible that Lord Halifax started an room with others, in a mere conversation with overture of the blackest guilt and infamy in a an inferior personage, who had little credit and no discretion, and whilst he had, it has been shown, more suitable vehicles of communication with the Prince of Orange! Such a step outrages all probability when imputed to a statesman noted for his finesse. should Burnet invent and dramatize such a But why scene? It may be accounted for by his dis

tinctive character.

his history a subaltern partisan, conscious of He appears throughout his inferiority, and struggling to convince others and himself, that he was a personage of the first pretension. Such a man, whose vanity, moreover, was notoriously unscrupulous, having heard of the intrigue of Lord Halifax, would seize and mould it to his purpose as a proof of his importance, and as an episode in his history."

And this is the man who has been chosen to complete a work which Sir James Mackintosh left unfinished! Every line of the passage proves the writer to be ignorant of the most notorious facts, and unable to read characters of which the peculiarities lie most open to superficial observation. Burnet was partial, vain, credulous, and careless. But Burnet was quite incapable of framing a deliberate and circumstantial falsehood. And what reason does this writer assign for giving the lie direct to the good bishop? Absolutely none, except that Lord Halifax would not have talked on a delicate subject to so "inferior a personage." Was Burnet then considered as an insignificant man? Was it to an insignificant man that Parliament voted thanks for services ren dered to the Protestant religion? Was it against an insignificant man that Dryden put forth all his powers of invective in the most elaborate, though not the most vigorous of his works? Was he an insignificant man whom the great Bossuet constantly described, as the most formidable of all the champions of the Reformation! Was it to an insigniñcant may

that King William gave the very first bishopric | the old times, as to deny that medicine, surge that became vacant after the Revolution? Til- ry, botany, chemistry, engineering, navigation, lotson, Tennyson, Stillingfleet, Hough, Patrick, are better understood now than in any former all distinguished by their exertions in defence age. We conceive that it is the same with of the reformed faith, all supporters of the new political science. Like those other sciences government, were they all passed by in favour which we have mentioned, it has always been of a man of no weight-of a man so unimport- working itself clearer and clearer, and depositant that no person of rank would talk with him ing impurity after impurity. There was a about momentous affairs? And, even granting time when the most powerful of human intelthat Burnet was a very "inferior personage,' lects were deluded by the gibberish of the did Halifax think him so? Everybody knows astrologer and the alchymist; and just so there the contrary-that is, everybody except this was a time when the most enlightened and writer. In 1680 it was reported that Halifax virtuous statesmen thought it the first duty of a was a concealed Papist. It was accordingly government to persecute heretics, to found moved in the House of Commons by Halifax's monasteries, to make war on Saracens. But stepfather, Chichley, that Dr. Burnet should be time advances, facts accumulate, doubts arise. examined as to his lordship's religious opi- Faint glimpses of truth begin to appear, and nions. This proves that they were on terms shine more and more unto the perfect day. of the closest intimacy. But this is not all. The highest intellects, like the tops of mounThere is still extant among the writings of tains, are the first to catch and to reflect the Halifax a character of Burnet, drawn with the dawn. They are bright, while the level below greatest skill and delicacy. It is no unmixed is still in darkness. But soon the light, which panegyric. The failings of Burnet are pointed at first illuminated only the loftiest eminences, out; but he is described as a man whose very descends on the plain, and penetrates to the failings arose from the constant activity of his deepest valley. First come hints, then frag intellect. "His friends," says the Marquis, ments of systems, then defective systems, then * love him too well to see small faults, or if they complete and harmonious systems. The sound do, think that his greater talents give him a opinion, held for a time by one bold specuprivilege of straying from the strict rules of lator, becomes the opinion of a small minority, caution." Men like Halifax do not write ela- of a strong minority, of a majority—of manborate characters, either favourable or unfa- kind. Thus, the great progress goes on, till vourable, of those whom they consider as schoolboys laugh at the jargon which imposed "inferior personages." Yet Burnet, it seems, on Bacon, till country rectors condemn the was so inferior a personage, that Halifax would illiberality and intolerance of Sir Thomas not trust him with a secret! And what, after More. all, was the mighty secret? This writer calls it "an overture of guilt and infamy." It was no overture of guilt and infamy. It was no overture at all. It was, on the face of it, a very simple question, which the most devoted adherent of King James might naturally and properly have asked.

This, we repeat, is only a fair sample. We have not observed one paragraph in the vast mass, which, if examined in the same manner, would not yield an equally abundant harvest of error and impotence.

What most disgusts us is the contempt with which the writer thinks fit to speak of all hings that were done before the coming in of the very last fashions in politics. What he thinks about this, or about any other matter, is of little consequence, and would be of no consequence at all, if he had not deformed an exceilent work, by fastening to it his own speculations. But we think that we have sometimes observed a leaning towards the same fault in persons of a very different order of intellect from this writer. We will therefore take this opportunity of making a few remarks on an error which is, we fear, becoming common; and which appears to us not only absurd, but as pernicious as any error concerning the transactions of a past age can possibly be.

We shall not, we hope, be suspected of a bigoted attachment to the doctrines and practices of past generations. Our creed is, that he science of government is an experimental science, and that, like all other experimental sciences, it is generally in a state of progres

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Seeing these things-seeing that, by the confession of the most obstinate enemies of innovation, our race has hitherto been almost constantly advancing in knowledge, and not seeing any reason to believe that, precisely at the point of time at which we came into the world, a change took place in the faculties of the human mind, or in the mode of discovering truth, we are reformers: we are on the side of progress. From the great advances which European society has made, during the last four centuries, in every species of knowledge, we infer, not that there is no more room for improvement, but that in every science which deserves the name, immense improvements may be confidently expected.

But the very considerations which lead us to look forward with sanguine hope to the future, prevent us from looking back with contempt on the past. We do not flatter ourselves with the notion, that we have attained perfection, and that no more truth remains to be found. We believe that we are wiser than our ancestors. We believe, also, that our posterity will be wiser than we. It would be gross injustice in our grandchildren to talk of us with contempt, merely because they may have surpassed us-to call Watt a fool, because mechanical powers may be discovered which may supersede the use of steam-to deride the efforts which have been made in our time to improve the discipline of prisons, and to enlighten the minds of the poor, because future philanthropists may devise better places of confinement than Mr. Bentham's Panopticon, and better places of education than Mr. Lan

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