Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

bodiment of six or even four months. They are then as fit as Line regiments for any kind of military fatigue. The course we condemn is the attempt to make children run before they can walk, which saps the popularity of the force, and is therefore fatal to easy recruitment.

That which we recommend is the reasonable one. It maintains the local popularity of the Militia. The surrounding communities are freed from alarm. The inducement to enlist is not weakened. If, as we hope to see, the latent military feeling of the country is developed in favour of the army by a practical and easily intelligible system, the Militia becoming the first great feeder of our Line, the enormous importance of the foregoing considerations cannot fail to attract the attention of authority. It is a simple but by no means a small matter which was for a long time the subject of misconception, the latter being aided perhaps not a little by the desire in high quarters a few years back to produce theatrical effects. In this country, at least, such effects finally end in ridicule and exaggerated misappreciation.

Our task is done. We proposed to set before the public the wants which have grown upon us in the gradual changes of the last forty years. These wants have been shown on indisputable evidence to be at least twelve times greater than was the case at the commencement of the present reign. These wants must continue to increase, yet the old obsolete means of supplying them remain almost identical with what prevailed two hundred years ago; there being in this a strange and fatal distinction between ourselves and all other nations of the modern Europe in which we live. Other countries, be they right or wrong in their views of military extension, act firmly on such views, adapt means to end, or, to use the language of the philosopher, they have since the wars of the First French republic, since the campaign of Jena, and more especially since the reigning Emperor of Germany became King of Prussia, persevered in the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations' in the arrangement of their modern system of defence. It is in vain for us to say whether they are right or wrong. Their point of departure may not be such as we may approve, but this is beyond our control. It remains, then, for us to carry out our continuous adjustment according to the principles on which, as declared by all our leading public men, the country is determined to rest. The means of execution have been indicated.

Until a solid system of recruitment based on the voluntary principle according to an engagement of Short Service,

sufficiently paid to establish the reality of the principle has been developed; until the shameful conventional crimes of desertion and fraudulent enlistment have been abolished, not by punishment, which is impossible, but by a remodification which shall substitute co-operation for competition and ruinous rivalry between two branches of the Service of which the one is the legitimate feeder of the other; until the Army Reserve shall have assumed a positive and effective reality, there should be no intermission of that movement so long and gallantly persevered in by Lord Elcho, and pursued with such success in the discussions of last year in and out of Parliament.

ART. III.-1. Journal et Correspondance de André-Marie Ampère. Publiés par Mme. H. C. Paris: 1872.

2. André-Marie Ampère et Jean-Jacques Ampère. Correspondance et Souvenirs (de 1805 à 1864). Recueillis par Madame H. C. Paris: 1875.

3. Madame Récamier; with a Sketch of the History of Society in France. By Madame M***. London: 1862.

A SAYING is current among Roman Catholics that there is no Purgatory for France; the French being either too good for the need, or too bad for the efficacy, of the purifying fires. Plenty of contrasting examples in point will immediately start up from history to confirm this proverb, and, if we judge our neighbours correctly, the readiness with which they will endorse it may be taken as a further proof of its truth. But, in sober earnest, there is nothing more difficult than for one nation fairly to judge of another. What lies on the surface will ever be only superficially judged; the deeper strata are seldom laid bare to investigation or comprehension. As a rule it may be admitted that the distinguishing merits of the French and English races-like the distinguishing beauties of the sister arts-lie in their very differences; and hence are the less amenable to mutual sympathy and intelligence. We puzzle our French brethren in one way; they us in another. We chill them by the undemonstrativeness of our social habits; they, in some measure, shock us by the laxity of theirs. Our home-strictness is, or has been, our national pride; their warmth of friendship their national charm. Accordingly, by a natural inversion, all true pictures of French inner life, by the strength and fidelity of the friendships they record, are singularly calculated to touch and even reprove us. And in

no instance have these feelings been more winningly and pathetically exhibited, and at so small an expense of our more rigid notions, than in the biographies of the distinguished father and son now before us.

André-Marie Ampère and Jean-Jacques, his son-both of them still fresh in the memory of many yet living-were men who may be said to have divided between them a large area of nature's richest gifts. The highest qualities—those of the heart-they held in common; in intellectual endowment each more than supplied what the other lacked; along most paths of mental supremacy they walked proudly and lovingly hand in hand; in those where they parted company each had the culture and sympathy to appreciate the aim of the other. In temperament they were much alike-sensitive, ardent, and devoted; with the tenderness of women, the guilelessness of children, the naiveté of genius. From earliest years both had the same insatiable cravings for light and truth; the father, the great physiologist and mathematician, elaborating the most subtle laws of nature and the abstrusest problems in mathematics; the son, with the poetic faculty highly developed, dealing with the problems of ancient languages, history, and literature, and, in works of imagination, with the phenomena of the human heart. Each was equally irresistible and inexhaustible in charm of conversation; each equally generous, impulsive, and blundering in matters of business; and each loved the other, if not with deeper warmth, yet with far greater effusion than our repressive habits between fathers and sons ever exhibit. These volumes under every view are a well of the deepest interest. The first of the three, which appeared in 1872, consisting like the rest in letters and journals, gave the earlier years of the father's history; comprising his gifted and darkened boyhood, the idyllic period of his love and marriage, and that bereavement which at twenty-nine years of age left him writhing under the stroke of widowhood. This earlier volume may not be sufficiently fresh in the memory of the reader for us to dispense with a slight outline of its contents.

André-Marie Ampère, the only son of respectable citizen parents, was born at Lyons in 1775. The south of France, and, notably, the city of Lyons, has sent forth a large percentage of the most eminent Frenchmen of later times, and the young boy, by his thirst for knowledge, soon gave evidence of his birthright in this respect. Mathematics and geometry took the lead in the keen and almost universal appetite of the infantine mind. He thought, reasoned, and calculated while other children were at play. For such a mind there was small

question of instruction from others, nor could any power have arrested the instinct by which he instructed himself He simply devoured every scientific book on which he could lay his little hands-the 'Encyclopédie' from beginning to end; and when recovering from failure of strength, easy to have predicted, and tenderly denied the materials for undue application, he managed to work his problems with no other appliance than little bits of biscuit. The father, a man of no ordinary type, unable to check, did his best to guide. Finding that his son cared less for classic than for scientific studies, he suffered him to follow his own bent. And when the boy, then eleven years old, raised a cry of passionate despair on finding that the works of Euler were in a language to which he had not the key, the father interpreted them for him.

But if André-Marie Ampère ranks on the same level with the great thinkers and explorers of natural phenomena who preceded and were contemporary with him, he differed from them in one important respect. Such men as Newton, La Place, Cuvier, Davy, retained in the ordinary affairs of life the common sense of commoner men. They knew the material value of the travail of their brains, were becomingly jealous of its offspring, and naturally ambitious of its prizes. But Ampère had none of those lower qualities which direct and protect the higher gifts. Every pursuit with him was in turn an object of headlong ardour, before which, till he had followed it to the utmost limits of the human capacity, all other things had to give way. What some men's lower passions are to them Ampère's brain was to him-he knew not how to restrain its impetuous desires. But when the mental chase had fairly run down and captured what he coveted, he had no idea of hoarding the prize. Anyone might rifle the contents of the precious bag.' In French phraseology he was' un puits 'ouvert.' His nature, accordingly, while one of the noblest and most unselfish ever created, was at the same time one of the unwisest and least self-asserting. Unguarded by the usual egotisms; unamenable to the usual cautions; incapable alike of husbanding for worldly use the most arduously earned discoveries, experience, or money; and true to himself in all these respects from childhood to grey hairs, André-Marie was an object of perpetual wonder, admiration, and respectful compassion to all competent to understand him. In these facts, doubtless, may be found the cause, otherwise inexplicable, why the fame of such a mind has not spread more widely in proportion to its depth.

Upon this sensitive and unprotected nature there fell in his

early youth a blow so crucial in intensity as to overthrow its balance. M. Barthélemy de St. Hilaire has given to the world the posthumous writings of the great physicist, edited by his son, under the title of Les deux Ampère.' But it is to Madame Henriette Cheuvreux-one of those devoted friends. whom Frenchmen are so fortunate as to attach--to whom we are indebted for a short notice of the grandfather who properly heads the touching group of Les trois Ampère.'

[ocr errors]

The life of that good man fell upon the evil times of the Great Revolution. In the year 1793 he filled the post of Juge de Paix in Lyons, and during the excesses which distracted that city, stood courageously forth on the side of order. When the revolutionary bands entered the city after the siege, he became one of the first victims to their revenge. Some of his letters addressed to his wife from his prison, signed Jean'Jacques Ampère, époux, père, ami, et citoyen fidèle,' have been preserved. A passage about his son shows his paternal foresight: Quant à mon fils, il n'y a rien que je n'attende de lui.' A few hours after this was penned he mounted the scaffold. This judicial murder of the father well-nigh killed the son, then only just eighteen. A dormant state of the brain ensued, which probably saved his life. For fully a year he existed in a semi-idiotic condition, spending his time out of doors, listlessly scraping together little heaps of earth. The first thing that roused him effectually was that which not unseldom has been the recreation of the profoundest minds-namely, the study of botany. Rousseau's letters had fallen into his hands, and he threw himself into the pursuit with the ardour and exactness which in all things characterised him. Next came a fit of classic enthusiasm, inspired by the Latin poets. The language was soon mastered, and the heart-stricken lad wandered about the country, with his hands full of wild flowers, murmuring verses from Horace. The passion for the classics now kindled the poetic spark in himself. Between 1795 and '97 he threw out an exuberance of poetical creation-tragedies, songs, madrigals, an epic on Columbus; all showing, as might have been expected, more facility and fertility than sense of art. He also mastered Greek and modern languages, studied physiology, chemistry, philosophy--thus laying those foundations on which twenty years later he based a new classification of the whole cycle of sciences. At the same time, while teaching himself he earned his own and his mother's bread by teaching others.

We now approach the sweet May-time of his chequered life. His mother lived in the country, at Polémieux, near Lyons,

« AnteriorContinuar »