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of very delicate and thorny points in the Glacier Theory. Considering the deserved eminence of the men who have taken a part in the same discussion, we do not think that either of those agreeable writers and excellent mountaineers could reasonably hope to urge any views or arguments not already present to the minds of those who are competent to form a judgment on the subject. If either of them will devote a little of his time to observations that may throw further light on the still obscure portions of the Theory, the results will form an acceptable addition to the future volume of 'Proceedings of the Alpine Club.'
We should not fully acknowledge our obligations to the new association, if we closed this notice without a reference to the beautiful illustrations of the scenery of the ice-region contained in the work of one of its members, Mr. Coleman. Whether to give to one who has not seen it some conception of its general character, or vividly to recall to those who have dwelt there the fantastic and beautiful appearances of the ice-world, we have seen nothing comparable for excellence to Mr. Coleman's drawings, and the chromo-lithographs taken from them. We could indeed desire that the blue tints which necessarily predominate were of a more delicate and ethereal hue; but, taking the plates as they stand, we accept them as a valuable contribution to the general knowledge and enjoyment of the High Alps. 1
THE COURT OF LEWIS XV.*
THIS is an age of what we believe the fashionable love of
characters. This means, in plain English, that our generation is rather given to set up what former generations have thrown down. Persons, states, whole periods, which have been unanimously given over to hatred or contempt, have recently found defenders spring up in their behalf. In some cases the revulsion is simply the natural working of knowledge and candour upon subjects which had been abandoned to mere ignorance and prejudice. In others the defence amounts at best to nothing more than an ingenious paradox. But in all cues more or less of truth is drawn out in the course of the cussion. Probably no one man, certainly no long period or large society, has ever been so thoroughly bad as not to contain some element of good. But when a man or a period is consigned to unmitigated contempt, those facts and aspects of facts which tell in his or its favour are apt to be forgotten or perverted. The greatest of all cases of 'rehabilitation' is doubtless that of the so-called dark ages in general, and especially of the mediaval Church. A generation or two back, people were not ashamed to say that they wished to know nothing of those ages which knew nothing. The ages so lightly esteemed were those which beheld Charles the Great and Frederick II., Gregory VII. and Innocent III., John Scotus Erigena and Peter Abelard. The medieval history of the West is now fully established as a worthy object of study. It is no longer spoken of with contempt, however little people may know how to set about mastering it. The mediaval history of the East has still its battle to fight. The expressions of contempt which used to be hurled at all medieval Christendom may still be applied in safety to its Byzantine portion. Yet Mr. Finlay's goodly volumes stand side by side on not a few shelves, witnessing that there is something to be said for the men who bore up against Persian, Saracen, and Turk, and who preserved for a thousand years the tongue of Greece, the laws of Rome, and the faith of Christen
*1. Capefigue. Louis XV. et la Société du XVIII Siècle. Paris. 1854. 2. Le Maréchal de Richelieu. Par M. Capefigue. Paris. 1857. 3. Madame la Marquise de Pompadour. Par M. Capefigue. Paris. 1858. 4. Madame la Comtesse Du Barry. Par M. Capefigue. Paris. 1858.
dom. The demagogues and sophists of old Greece were consigned to universal contempt till Mr. Grote manfully stood up on their behalf. And even allowing that Mr. Grote has pressed particular points too far, we suppose that no one thinks exactly the same either of Kleon, or of Greek democracy in general, as he did before Mr. Grote undertook their championship. Mr. Merivale, perhaps with less success, would have us believe that even Tiberius and Nero were less black than they have commonly been painted. Mr. Congreve goes yet further on behalf of the imperial system in general. Mahomet has by some writers been set almost on a level with Moses, and probably no one any longer looks upon him as a mere conscious impostor from the beginning to the end of his career. Mr. Francis Newman has, if we mistake not, gone so far as to undertake the defence of Ahab and Jezebel. In this particular case an awkward story about Naboth stands in the way; but even so desperate an undertaking as this may serve to remind us that doing good and doing evil, in the language of the Old Testament (just as in a Roman Catholic or Protestant narrative of the sixteenth century), are phases which commonly refer much more to the religious creed than to the moral conduct of the persons blamed or commended. Mr. Froude has undertaken a more hopeless case still. It would be almost easier to believe that Naboth had really blasphemed God and the king, than that King Harry beheaded Anne one day and married Jane the next from a disinterested and patriotic wish to give his kingdom an heir whose legitimacy should be beyond dispute. Mr. Froude has indeed produced a mere clever paradox, which makes us sometimes doubt whether he is not simply practising on his reader's credulity. A stronger hand than his own,' by a slight touch of the wand of common sense, has made his whole structure crumble into the dust. Yet even Mr. Froude's apology for Henry VIII. has not been without its incidental uses. He has, indeed, failed to justify murder, falsehood, sacrilege, and that most deadly of all evils, when law, and even religion herself, are false to their divine origin and purpose, and their voice is no longer the voice of God, but of his enemy." But he has at any rate brought forth into a not undue prominence the fact that murder, falsehood, and sacrilege do not make up the sum total of the acts of Henry VIII. We are apt to forget how completely the crimes of Henry are crowded into the latter years of a long reign, and what a brilliant place he and his
1 See the 'Edinburgh Review' for July, 1858.
kingdom held among the princes and commonwealths of Europe. As for Elizabeth and Mary, Charles and Cromwell, the house of Stuart and the Batavian deliverer, their several causes have been so constantly pleaded and replied to, that no triumph, one way or the other, could amount to a rehabilitation.' To any one ambitious of laurels in that line, we should commend the characters of Pope Alexander VI. and of Lord Chancellor Jeffreys. We have some faint remembrance of having somewhere or other seen hints thrown out that even their portraits were not without a bright side; and we doubt not that a genius of the combined ingenuity and simplicity of Mr. Froude might contrive to put together a very attractive apology on their behalf.
The task which M. Capefigue has undertaken is, on the whole, the hardest of all. It is no other than to rescue from obloquy the character of Lewis XV., and those of his notorious mistresses, Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry. To succeed in this would be a far greater achievement than to get off either Nero or Henry VIII. As long as there is some element of greatness in a man, if it be only greatness in crime, there is always something for an advocate to lay hold of. Indeed, though crimes rank in the scale of wickedness above vices, yet vices are far less easy to justify than crimes. Murder is a greater offence than adultery; but no art can ever do more than palliate adultery, while a little ingenuity can convert a private murder into a justifiable homicide, and a public one into a righteous execution. And when crime and vice are displayed on a large scale, the difference comes out more strongly. A long course of vice is simply loathsome and despicable; but a long course of crime frightens us. And, after all, fear is a feeling which comes only too near to respect. You may despise, you may laugh at, a Parc aux Cerfs, real or imaginary, but there is no laughing at a December coup d'état. You may look with contemptuous scorn upon Elagabalus or Gian Gastone de Medici, but you cannot make game of William the Conqueror or of Eccelino da Romano. Lewis XV. was a vulgar, commonplace sinner. He tired of his own wife, and took another man's wife instead. Anybody could do that. Henry VIII. was quite another sort of person. His sins have a sort of magnificent originality about them. He would have despised the paltry, every-day viciousness of living in double adultery: he would have found some reason, satisfactory to Mr. Froude at least, if to no one else, for taking off the heads of Queen Mary Leczinska and of M. Normand d'Etioles, and he would next day have solemnized a lawful
matrimony with the widow in the face of approving bishops and privy councillors.
What is the character which is generally given of Lewis XV.? How does he appear to those who estimate him, not from the scurrilous pamphlets and pasquinades of which M. Capefigue is always complaining, but from the picture drawn by so grave and candid a writer as Sismondi? It is not the character either of a monster or of an idiot. Lewis XV. was not devoid either of talents or of good dispositions; or, to speak perhaps more truly, he had in him elements which might, with due cultivation, have grown into talents and good dispositions. But they were allowed no development. Carelessness, indifference, utter want of energy, prevented the growth either of virtue or of ability. He seems not to have wanted the power of judgment, but it was too much trouble for him to judge. He was not a wanton oppressor; he showed no desire to make the state of his people worse; but he would not exert himself to stretch out a finger to make it better. He loved power in a way; that is, though any minister or mistress might manage him, he could not bear that any other power in the state should oppose him; for opposition involved trouble, while absolute power allowed him full opportunity for idleness and luxury. In short, he continually reminds us of our own Charles II., allowing for the different circumstances of the two men. Charles loved idleness and luxury just as much as Lewis, but he could not have his own way so completely. Like Lewis, he had a sort of mere capacity for energy, which he never used if he could avoid it; but he was obliged to use it much more frequently than Lewis was. The childhood and youth of Lewis were spent in the unmolested enjoyment of royal state; his long reign was never disturbed by any opposition which really threatened the stability of his power. But Charles could not dream away the long years of civil war and foreign exile; and, when seated on his throne, his rest was much more effectually broken by Shaftesbury and his Brisk Boys than that of Lewis ever was by the decorous perversity of the Parliament of Paris. Hence Charles often could not help acting, and when he did act, he acted with courage and vigour. And in a manner we may say the same of Lewis. He had, indeed, never to hide in an oak from armed pursuers, or even to meet a refractory House of Commons face to face. But he was once drawn into appearing personally in a battle, and he does not appear to have run away; and, purchasing many days' ease by one day's exertion, he screwed up his powers, when his differences with the Parliament became irreconcileable, to go with a sort of dignity through the ceremonial of a bloodless coup d'état.