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MISCELLANEOUS 



ESSAYS. 



BY 



ARCHIBALD ALISON, F. R. S. 

AUTHOR OF "HISTORY OF EUROPE DURING THE FRENCH REVOLUTION." 



ffieprinteb from tl)e (EngusI) ©riginctls, 



WITH THE AUTHOR'S CORRECTIONS FOR THIS EDITION. 



PHILADELPHIA: 
CAREY & HART, 126 CHESNUT STREET. 

1847. 






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PKEFACE. 



'A wish having been expressed by the publishers of this work to have a 
collection of my Miscellaneous Essays, published at different times and in different 
periodical works in Great Britain, made for reprints in America, and selected 
and arranged by myself, I have willingly assented to so flattering a proposal. 
I have endeavoured in making the selection to choose such as discuss subjects 
possessing, as far as possible, a general and durable interest; and to admi*- 
those only, relating to matters of social contest or national policy in Great 
Britain, which are likely, from [the importance of the questions involved in 
them, to excite some interest as contemporary compositions among future 
generations of men. And I should be ungrateful if, in making my first appear- 
ance before the American public, and in a work hitherto published in a col- 
lected form only in this country, I did not make my warmest acknowledgments 
for the liberal spirit in which they have received my writings, and the indul- 
gence they have manifested towards their imperfections; and express at the 
same time the pride which I feel, as an English author, at the vast and 
boundless field for British literary exertion which is afforded by the extension 
of the Anglo-Saxon race on the other side of the Atlantic. If there is any 
wish I entertain more cordially than another, it is that this strong though unseen 
mental bond may unite the British family in r every part of the world, and 
cause them all to feel as brothers, even when the time arrives, as arrive it will, 
that they have obtained the dominion of half the globe. 

A. ALISON 

Possel House, Glasgow, 
Sept. 1, 1844. 



CONTENTS. 



Page 
CHATEAUBRIAND 7 

NAPOLEON 27 

BOSSUET ........... 42 

POLAND 52 

±i MADAME DE STAEL ...........64 

-f NATIONAL MONUMENTS 73 

MARSHAL NEY . . . . ♦ . . . . . .84 

ROBERT BRUCE ...... 94 

PARIS IN 1814 100 

THE LOUVRE IN 1814 109 

TYROL \ 117 

FRANCE IN 1833 125 

ITALY 154 

SCOTT, CAMPBELL, AND BYRON .160 

THE COPYRIGHT QUESTION 173 

MICHELET'S FRANCE 184 

MILITARY TREASON AND CIVIC SOLDIERS 195 

~ ARNOLD'S ROME 203 

MIRABEAU 212 

BULWER'S ATHENS . 228 

THE REIGN OF TERROR . 241 

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1830 253 

THE FALL OF TURKEY 266 

THE SPANISH REVOLUTION OF 1820 279 

PARTITION OF THE KINGDOM OF THE NETHERLANDS 289 

KARAMSIN'S RUSSIA .......... 299 

EFFECTS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION OF 1830 309 

DESERTION OF PORTUGAL 321 

CARLIST STRUGGLE IN SPAIN ......... 325 

WELLINGTON ........... 346 

THE AFFGHANISTAUN EXPEDITION . . 348 

THE FUTURE ........... 357 

GUIZOT % . . . .367 

HOMER, DANTE, AND MICHAEL ANGELO 380 

a2 5 



ALISON'S ESSAYS. 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 

[Blackwood's Magazine, March, 1832.] 



It is one of the worst effects of the vehe- 
mence of faction, which has recently agitated 
the nation, that it tends to withdraw the atten- 
tion altogether from works of permanent lite- 
rary merit, and by presenting nothing to the 
mind but a constant succession of party dis- 
cussions, both to disqualify it for enjoying the 
sober pleasure of rational information, and 
render the great works which are calculated 
to delight and improve the species known only 
to a limited class of readers. The conceit and 
prejudice of a large portion of the public, in- 
crease just in proportion to the diminution of 
their real information. By incessantly studying 
journals where the advantage of the spread 
of knowledge is sedulously inculcated, they 
imagine that they have attained that know- 
ledge, because they have read these journals, 
and by constantly abusing those whom they 
stigmatize as offering the light of truth, they 
come to forget that none oppose it so effectually 
as those who substitute for its steady ray the 
lurid flame of democratic flattery. 

It is, therefore, with sincere and heartfelt joy, 
that we turn from the turbid and impassioned 
stream of political discussion, to the pure foun- 
tains of literary genius ; from the vehemence 
of party strife to the calmness of philosophic 
investigation ; from works of ephemeral cele- 
brity to the productions of immortal genius. 
When we consider the vast number of these 
which have issued from the European press 
during the last fifteen years, and the small 
extent to which they are as yet known to the 
British public, we are struck with astonish- 
ment ; and confirmed in the opinion, that those 
who are loudest in praise of the spread of in- 
formation, are not unfrequently those who 
possess least of it for any useful purpose. 

It has long been a settled opinion in France, 
that the seams of English literature are wrought 
out ; that while we imagine we are advancing, 
we are in fact only moving round in a circle, 
and that it is in vain to expect any thing new 
on human affairs from a writer under the 
English constitution. This they ascribe to the 
want of the bouleversement of ideas, and the ex- 
trication of original thought, which a revolu- 
tion produces ; and they coolly calculate on the 
catastrophe which is to overturn the English 
government, as likely to open new veins of 
thought among its inhabitants, and pour new 
streams of eloquence into its writers. 



Without acquiescing in the justice of this 
observation in all its parts, and strenuously 
asserting for the age of Scott and Byron a 
decided superiority over any other in British 
history since the days of Shakspeare and Mil- 
ton, at least in poetry and romance, we must 
admit that the observation, in many depart- 
ments of literature, is but too well founded. 
No one will accuse us of undue partiality for 
the French Revolution, a convulsion whose 
principles we have so long and so vigorously 
opposed, and whose horrors we have en- 
deavoured, sedulously, though inadequately, to 
impress upon our readers. It is therefore 
with a firm conviction of impartiality, and a 
consciousness of yielding only to the tone of 
truth, that we are obliged to confess, that 
in historical and political compositions the 
French of our age are greatly superior to the 
writers of this country. We are not insensible 
to the merits of our modern English historians. 
We fully appreciate the learned research of 
Turner, the acute and valuable narrative of 
Lingard, the elegant language and antiquarian 
industry of Tytler, the vigour and originality 
of M'Crie, and the philosophic wisdom of 
Mackintosh. But still we feel the justice of the 
French observation, that there is something 
" English" in all their ideas. Their thoughts 
seem formed on the even tenor of political 
events prior to 1789: and in reading their 
works we can hardly persuade ourselves that 
they have been ushered into the world since 
the French Revolution advanced a thousand 
years the materials of political investigation. 

Chateaubriand is universally allowed by 
the French, of all parties, to be their first writer. 
His merits, however, are but little understood 
in this country. He is known as once a minis- 
ter of Louis XVIII., and ambassador of that 
monarch in London, as the writer of many 
celebrated political pamphlets, and the victim, 
since the Revolution of 1830. (f his noble and 
ill-requited devotion to that unfortunate family. 
Few are aware that he is, without one single 
exception, the most eloquent writer of the pre- 
sent age ; that independent of politics, he has 
produced many works on morals, religion, and 
history, destined for lasting endurance; that 
his writings combine the strongest love of 
rational freedom, with the warmest inspiration 
of Christian devotion ; that he is, as it were, 
the link between the feudal and the revolu- 

7 



8 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



tionary ages; retaining from the former its 
generous and elevated feeling, and inhaling 
from the latter its acute and fearless investi- 
gation. The last pilgrim, with devout feelings, 
to the holy sepulchre, he was the first supporter 
of constitutional freedom in France ; discard- 
ing thus from former times their bigoted fury, 
and from modern, their infidel spirit; blending 
all that was noble in the ardour of the Crusades, 
with all that is generous in the enthusiasm of 
freedom. 

It is the glory of the Conservative Party 
throughout the world, and by this party we 
mean all who are desirous in every country to 
uphold the religion, the institutions, and the 
liberties of their fathers, that the two greatest 
writers of the age have devoted their talents 
to the support of their principles. Sir Walter 
Scott and Chateaubriand are beyond all ques- 
tion, and by the consent of both nations, 
at the head of the literature of France and 
England since the Revolution; and they will 
both leave names at which the latest posterity 
will feel proud, when the multitudes who have 
sought to rival them on the revolutionary side 
are buried in the waves of forgotten time. It 
is no small triumph to the cause of order in 
these trying da3 r s, that these mighty spirits, 
destined to instruct and bless mankind through 
every succeeding age, should have proved so 
true to the principles of virtue ; and the patriot 
may well rejoice that generations yet unborn, 
while they approach their immortal shrines, 
or share in the enjoyments derived from the 
legacies they have bequeathed to mankind, 
will inhale only a holy spirit, and derive from 
the pleasures of imagination nothing but ad- 
ditional inducements to the performance of 
duty. 

Both these great men are now under an 
eclipse, too likely, in one at least, to terminate 
in earthly extinction. The first lies on the 
bed, if not of material, at least, it is to be 
feared, of intellectual death ; and the second, 
arrested by the military despotism which he 
so long strove to avert from his country, has 
lately awaited in the solitude of a prison the fate 
destined for him by revolutionary violence.* 
But 

" Stone walls do not a prison make, 

Nor iron bars a cage ; 
Minds innocent and quiet take 

That for an hermitage." 

It is in such moments of gloom and depres- 
sion, when the fortune of the world seems most 
adverse, when the ties of mortality are about 
to be dissolved, or the career of virtue is on 
the point of being terminated, that the immortal 
superiority of genius and virtue most strongly 
appear. In vain was the Scottish bard ex- 
tended on the bed of sickness, or the French 
patriot confined to the gloom of a dungeon ; 
their works remain to perpetuate their lasting 
sway over the minds of men; and while their 
mortal frames are sinking beneath the suffer- 
ings of the Avorld, their immortal souls rise into 
the region of spirits, to witness a triumph 
more glorious, an ascendency more endurin :■;, 

* Sir Walter Scott, at this period, was on his deathbed, 
and Chateaubriand imprisoned by order of Louis Philippe. 



than ever attended the arms of Caesar or Alex- 
ander. 

Though pursuing the same pure and en- 
nobling career ; though gifted with the same 
ardent imagination, and steeped in the same 
fountains of ancient lore, no two writers were 
ever more different than Chateaubriand and 
Sir Walter Scott. The great characteristic of 
the French author, is the impassioned and 
enthusiastic turn of his mind. Master of im- 
mense information, thoroughly imbued at once 
with the learning of classical and catholic 
times ; gifted with a retentive memory, a poeti- 
cal fancy, and a painter's eye, he brings to bear 
upon every- subject the force of erudition, the 
images of poetry, the charm of varied scenery, 
and the eloquence of impassioned feeling. 
Hence his writings display a reach and variety 
of imagery, a depth of light and shadow, a 
vigour of thought, and an extent of illustration, 
to which there is nothing comparable in any 
other writer, ancient or modern, with whom 
we are acquainted. All that he has seen, or 
read, or heard, seem present to his mind, what- 
ever he does, or wherever he is. He illustrates 
the genius of Christianity by the beauties of 
classical learning, inhales the spirit of ancient 
prophecy on the shores of the Jordan, dreams 
on the banks of the Eurotas of the solitude 
and gloom of the American forests ; visits the 
Holy Sepulchre with a mind alternately de- 
voted to the devotion of a pilgrim, the curiosity 
of an antiquary, and the enthusiasm of a crusa- 
der, and combines, in his romances, with the 
tender feelings of chivalrous love, the heroism 
of Roman virtue, and the sublimity of Chris- 
tian martyrdom. His writings are less a 
faithful portrait of any particular age or coun- 
try, than an assemblage of all that is - grand, 
and generous, and elevated in human nature. 
He drinks deep of inspiration at all the foun- 
tains where it has ever been poured forth to 
mankind, and delights us less by the accuracy 
of any particular picture, than the traits of 
genius which he has combined from every 
quarter where its footsteps have trod. His 
style seems formed on the lofty strains of 
Isaiah, or the beautiful images of the Book of 
Job, more than all the classical or modern 
literature with which his mind is so amply 
stored. He is admitted by all Frenchmen, of 
whatever party, to be the most perfect living 
master of their language, and to have gained 
for it beauties unknown to the age of Bossuet 
and Fenelon. Less polished in his periods, 
less sonorous in his diction, less melodious in 
his rhythm, than these illustrious writers, he 
is incomparably more varied, rapid, and en- 
ergetic; his ideas flow in quicker succession, 
his words follow in more striking antithesis; 
the past, the present, and the future rise up at 
once before us ; and we see how strongly the 
stream of genius, instead of gliding down the 
smooth current of ordinary life, has been broken 
and agitated by the cataract of revolution. 

With far less classical learning, fewer 
images derived from travelling, inferior in- 
formation on many historical subjects, and a 
mind of a less impassioned and energetic cast, 
our own Sir Walter is far more deeply read in 
that book which is ever the same — the human 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



heart. This is his unequalled excellence — 
there he stands, since the days of Shakspeare, 
without a rival. It is to this cause that his 
a astonishing success has been owing. We feel 
in his characters that it is not romance, but 
real life which is represented. Every word 
that is said, especially in the Scotch novels, 
is nature itself. Homer, Cervantes, Shakspeare, 
and Scott, alone have penetrated to the deep 
substratum of character, which, however dis- 
guised by the varieties of climate and govern- 
ment, is at bottom everywhere the same; and 
thence they have found a responsive echo in 
every human heart. Ever}' - man who reads 
these admirable works, from the North Cape 
to Cape Horn, feels that what the characters 
they contain are made to say, is just what 
would have occurred to themselves, or what 
they have heard said by others as long as they 
lived. Nor is it only in the delineation of 
character, and the knowledge of human nature, 
that the Scottish Novelist, like his great pre- 
decessors, is but for them without a rival. 
Powerful in the pathetic, admirable in dialogue, 
unmatched in description, his writings capti- 
vate the mind as much by the varied excel- 
lencies which they exhibit, as the powerful 
interest which they maintain. He has carried 
romance out of the region of imagination and 
sensibility into the walks of actual life. We 
feel interested in his characters, not because 
they are ideal beings with whom we have be- 
come acquainted for the first time when we 
began the book, but because they are the very 
persons we have lived with from our infancy. 
His descriptions of scenery are not luxuriant 
and glowing pictures of imaginary beauty, like 
those of Mrs. Radcliffe, having no resemblance 
to actual nature, but faithful and graphic por- 
traits of real scenes, drawn with the eye of a 
poet, but the fidelity of a consummate draughts- 
man. He has combined historical accuracy 
and romantic adventure with the interest of 
tragic events ; we live with the heroes, and 
princes, and paladins of former times, as with 
our own contemporaries; and acquire from 
the splendid colouring of his pencil such a 
vivid conception of the manners and pomp of 
the feudal ages, that we confound them, in our 
recollections, with the scenes which we our- 
selves have witnessed. The splendour of 
their tournaments, the magnificence of their 
dress, the glancing of their arms ; their haughty 
manners, daring courage, and knightly cour- 
tesy; the shock of their battlesteeds, the splin- 
tering of their lances, the conflagration of their 
castles, are brought before our eyes in such 
vivid colours, that we are at once transported 
to the age of Richard and Saladin, of Bruce 
and Marmion, of Charles the Bold and Philip 
Augustus. Disdaining to flatter the passions, 
or pander to the ambition of the populace, he 
has done more than any man alive to elevate 
their character ; to fill their minds With the 
noble sentiments which dignify alike the cot- 
tage and the palace ; to exhibit the triumph 
of virtue in the humblest stations over all that 
the world calls great; and without ever in- 
dulging a sentiment which might turn them 
from the scenes of their real usefulness, bring 
home to every mind the "might that slumbers 



in a peasant's arm." Above all, he has uni- 
formly, in all his varied and extensive produc- 
tions, shown himself true to the cause of virtue. 
Amidst all the innumerable combinations of 
character, event, and dialogue, which he has 
formed, he has ever proved faithful to the polar 
star of duty; and alone, perhaps, of the great 
romance-writers of the world, has not left a 
line which on his death-bed he would wish 
recalled. 

Of such men France and England may well 
be proud; shining, as they already do, through 
the clouds and the passions of a fleeting ex- 
istence, they are destined soon to illuminate 
the world with a purer lustre, and ascend to 
that elevated station in the higher heavens 
where the fixed stars shed a splendid and im- 
perishable light. The writers whom party has 
elevated — the genius which vice has seduced, 
are destined to decline with the interests to 
which they were devoted, or the passions by 
which they were misled. The rise of new poli- 
tical struggles will consign to oblivion the 
vast talent which was engulfed in its conten- 
tion ; the accession of a more virtuous age 
bury in the dust the fancy which was enlisted 
in the cause of corruption ; while these illus- 
trious men, whose writings have struck root 
in the inmost recesses of the human heart, 
and been watered by the streams of imperish- 
able feeling, will for ever continue to elevate 
and bless a grateful world. 

To form a just conception of the importance 
of Chateaubriand's Genius of Christianity, we 
must recollect the period when it was pub- 
lished, the character of the works it was in- 
tended to combat, and the state of society in 
which it was destined to appear. For half a 
century before it appeared, the whole genius 
of France had been incessantly directed to 
undermine the principles of religion. The 
days of Pascal and Fenelon, of Saurin and 
Bourdaloue, of Bossuet and Massillon, had 
passed away ; the splendid talent of the seven- 
teenth century was no longer arrayed in the 
support of virtue — the supremacy of the church 
had ceased to be exerted to thunder in the ear 
of princes the awful truths of judgment to 
come. Borne away in the torrent of corrup- 
tion, the church itself had yielded to the in- 
creasing vices of the age ; its hierarchy had 
become involved in the passions they were 
destined to combat, and the cardinal's purple 
covered the shoulders of an associate in the 
midnight orgies of the Regent Orleans. Such 
was the audacity of vice, the recklessness of 
fashion, and the supineness of religion, that 
Madame Roland tells us, what astonished her 
in her youthful days was, that the heaven it- 
self did not open, to rain down upon the guilty 
metropolis, as on the cities of the Jordan, a 
tempest of consuming fire. 

While such was the profligac)^ of power and 
the audacity of crime, philosophic talent lent 
its aid to overwhelm the remaining safeguards 
of religious belief. The middle and the lower 
orders could not, indeed, participate in the 
luxurious vices of their wealthy superiors ; 
but they could well be persuaded that the faith 
which permitted such enormities, the religion 
which was stained by such crimes, was a sys- 



10 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS. 



tern of hypocrisy and deceit. The passion for 
innovation, which more than any other feature 
characterized that period in France, invaded 
the precincts of religion as well as the bul- 
warks of the state — the throne and the altar; 
the restraints of this world and the next, as 
is ever the case, crumbled together. For half 
a century, all the genius of France had been 
incessantly directed to overturn the sanctity 
of Christianity ; its corruptions were repre- 
sented as its very essence ; its abuses part of 
its necessary effects. Ridicule, ever more 
powerful than reason with a frivolous age, 
lent its aid to overturn the defenceless fabric; 
and for more than one generation, not one 
writer of note had appeared to maintain the 
hopeless cause. Voltaire and Diderot, D'Alem- 
bert and Raynal, Laplace and Lagrange, had 
lent the weight of their illustrious names, or 
the powers of their versatile minds, to carry 
on the war. The Encyclopedic was a vast 
battery of infidelity incessantly directed against 
Christianity; while the crowd of licentious 
novelists, with which the age abounded — 
Louvet, Crebillon, Laclos, and a host of others 
— insinuated the poison, mixed up with the 
strongest allurements to the passions, and the 
most voluptuous seductions to the senses. 

This inundation of infidelity was soon fol- 
lowed by sterner days ; to the unrestrained in- 
dulgence of passion succeeded the unfettered 
march of crime. With the destruction of all 
the bonds which held society together ; with 
the removal of all the restraints on vice or guilt, 
the fabric of civilization and religion speedily 
was dissolved. To the licentious orgies of the 
Hegent Orleans succeeded the infernal furies 
of the Revolution : from the same Palais Royal 
from whence had sprung those fountains of 
courtly corruption, soon issued forth the fiery 
streams of democracy. Enveloped in this 
burning torrent, the institutions, the faith, the 
nobles, the throne, were destroyed ; the worst 
instruments of the supreme justice, the pas- 
sions and ambition of men, were suffered to 
work their unresisted way : and in a few years 
the religion of eighteen hundred years was 
abolished, its priests slain or exiled, its Sab- 
bath abolished, its rites proscribed, its faith 
unknown. Infancy came into the world with- 
out a blessing, age left it without a hope ; 
marriage no longer received a benediction, 
sickness was left without consolation ; the 
village bell ceased to call the poor to their 
weekly day of sanctity and repose ; the village 
churchyard to witness the. weeping train of 
mourners attending their rude forefathers to 
their last home. The grass grew in the 
churches of every parish in France ; the 
dead without a blessing were thrust into vast 
charnel-houses ; marriage was contracted be- 
fore a civil magistrate ; and infancy, untaught 
to pronounce the name of God, longed only 
for the period when the passions and indul- 
gences of life were to commence. 

It was in these disastrous days that Chateau- 
briand arose, and bent the force of his lofty 
mind to restore the fallen but imperishable 
faith of his fathers. In early youth, he was at 
first carried away by the fashionable infidelity 
of his times ; and in his " Essais Historiques," 



which he published in 1792, in London, while 
the principles of virtue and natural religion 
are unceasingly maintained, he seems to have ^ 
doubted whether the Christian religion was 
not crumbling with the institutions of society, 
and speculated what faith was to be established 
on its ruins. But misfortune, that great cor- 
rector of the vices of the world, soon changed 
these faulty views. In the days of exile and 
adversity, when, by the waters of Babylon, he 
sat down and wept, he reverted to the faith 
and the belief of his fathers, and inhaled in 
the school of adversity those noble maxims 
of devotion and duty which have ever since 
regulated his conduct in life. Undaunted, 
though alone, he placed himself on the ruins 
of the Christian faith ; renewed, with Hercu- 
lean strength, a contest which the talents and 
vices of half a century had to all appearance 
rendered hopeless ; and, speaking to the hearts 
of men, now purified by suffering, and cleansed 
by the agonizing ordeal of revolution, scattered 
far and wide the seeds of a rational and a 
manly piety. Other writers have followed in 
the same noble career: Salvand) r and Guizot 
have traced the beneficial effects of religion 
upon modern society, and drawn from the last 
results of revolutionary experience just and 
sublime conclusions as to the adaptation of 
Christianity to the wants of humanity; but it 
is the glory of Chateaubriand alone to have 
come forth the foremost in the fight; to have 
planted himself on the breach, when it was 
strewed only with the dead and the dying, and, 
strong in the consciousness of gigantic powers, 
stood undismayed against a nation in arms. 

To be successful in the contest, it was indis- 
pensable that the weapons of warfare should 
be totally changed. When the ideas of men 
were set adrift by revolutionary changes, when 
the authority of ages was set at nought, and 
from centuries of experience appeals were 
made to weeks of innovation, it was in vain to 
refer to the great or the wise of former ages. 
Perceiving at once the immense change which 
had taken place in the world whom he ad- 
dressed, Chateaubriand saw, that he must alter 
altogether the means by which they were to 
be influenced. Disregarding, therefore, entirely 
the weight of authority, laying aside almost 
every thing which had been advanced in sup- 
port of religion by its professed disciples, he 
applied himself to accumulate the conclusions 
in its favour which arose from its internal 
beauty ; from its beneficent effect upon society ; 
from the changes it had wrought upon the 
civilization, the happiness, and destinies of 
mankind; from its analogy with the sublimest 
tenets of natural religion; from its unceasing 
progress, its indefinite extension, and undecay- 
ing youth. He observed, that it drew its sup- 
port from such hidden recesses of the human 
heart, that it flourished most in periods of dis- 
aster and calamity; derived strength from the 
fountains of suffering, and, banished in all but 
form from the palaces of princes, spread its 
roots far and wide in the cottages of the poor. 
From the intensity of suffering produced by 
the Revolution, therefore, he conceived the 
hope, that the feelings of religion would ulti- 
mately resume their sway : when the waters 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



It 



of bitterness were let loose, the consolations 
of devotion would again be felt to be indispen- 
sable; and the spirit of the gospel, banished 
during the sunshine of corrupt prosperity, re- 
turn to the repentant human heart with the 
tears and the storms of adversity. 

Proceeding on these just and sublime prin- 
ciples, this great author availed himself of 
every engine which fancy, experience, or poe- 
try could suggest, to sway the hearts of his 
readers. He knew well that he was address- 
ing an impassioned and volatile generation, 
upon whom reason would be thrown away, if 
not enforced with eloquence, and argument 
lost, if not clothed in the garb of fancy. To 
effect his purpose, therefore, of re-opening in 
the hearts of his readers the all but extin- 
guished fountains of religious feeling, he sum- 
moned to his aid the whole aid which learn- 
ing, or travelling, or poetry, or fancy, could 
supply; and scrupled not to employ his 
powers as a writer of romance, an historian, 
a descriptive traveller, and a poet, to forward 
the great work of Christian renovation. Of 
his object in doing this, he has himself given 
the following account* 

"There can be no doubt that the Genius of 
Christianity would have been a work entirely 
out of place in the age of Louis XIV.; and the 
critic who observed that Massillon would never 
have published such a book, spoke an un- 
doubted truth. Most certainly the author would 
never have thought of writing such a work if 
there had not existed a host of poems, romances, 
and books of all sorts, where Christianity was 
exposed to every species of derision. But 
since these poems, romances, and books exist, 
and are in every one's hands, it becomes in- 
dispensable to extricate religion from the sar- 
casms of impiety ; when it has been written 
on all sides that Christianity is ' barbarous, 
ridiculous, the eternal enemy of the arts and of 
genius .-' it is necessary to prove that it is neither 
barbarous, nor ridiculous, nor the enemy of 
arts or of genius; and that that which is made 
by the pen of ridicule to appear diminutive, 
ignoble, in bad taste, without either charms or 
tenderness, may be made to appear grand, 
noble, simple, impressive, and divine, in the 
hands of a man of religious feeling. 

" If it is not permitted to defend religion on 
what may be called its terrestrial side, if no 
effort is to be made to prevent ridicule from 
attaching to its sublime institutions, there will 
always remain a weak and undefended quarter. 
There all the strokes at it will be aimed ; there 
you will be caught without defence; from 
thence you will receive your death-wound. Is 
not that what has already arrived 1 Was it 
not by ridicule and pleasantry that Voltaire 
succeeded in shaking the foundations of faith 1 
Will you attempt to answer by theological 
arguments, or the forms of the syllogism, licen- 
tious novels or irreligious epigrams'? Will 
formal disquisitions ever prevent an infidel 
generation from being carried away by clever 
verses, or deterred from the altar by the fear 
of ridicule 1 Does not every one know that in 

. * All the passages cited are translated by ourselves. 
There is an English version, we believe, but we have 
never seen it. 



the French nation a happy bon-mot, impiety 
clothed in a felicitous expression, zfelix culpa, 
produce a greater effect than volumes of 
reasoning or metaphysics 1 Persuade young 
men that an honest man can be a Christian 
without being a fool ; convince him that he is 
in error when he believes that none but capu- 
chins and old women believe in religion, and 
your cause is gained ; it will be time enough 
to complete the victory to present yourself 
armed with theological reasons, but what you 
must begin with is an inducement to read 
your book. What is most needed is a popular 
work on religion; those who have hitherto 
written on it have too often fallen into the 
error of the traveller who tries to get his com- 
panion at one ascent to the summit of a rugged 
mountain when he can hardly crawl at its 
foot — you must show him at every step varied 
and agreeable objects; allow him to stop to 
gather the flowers which are scattered along 
his path, and from one resting-place to another 
he will at length gain the summit. 

"The author has not intended this work 
merely for scholars, priests, or doctors ; what 
he wrote for was the men of the world, and 
what he aimed at chiefly were the considera- 
tions calculated to affect their minds. If you 
do not keep steadily in view that principle, if 
you forget for a moment the class of readers 
for whom the Genius of Christianity was in- 
tended, you will understand nothing of this 
work. It was intended to be read by the most 
incredulous man of letters, the most volatile 
youth of pleasure, with the same facility as 
the first turns over a work of impiety, or the 
second devours a corrupting novel. Do you 
intend then, exclaim the well-meaning ad- 
vocates for Christianity, to render religion a 
matter of fashion 1 Would to God, I reply, 
that that divine religion was really in fashion, 
in the sense that what is fashionable indicates 
the prevailing opinion of the world ! Individual 
hypocrisy, indeed, might be increased by such 
a change, but public morality would unques- 
tionably be a gainer. The rich would no longer 
make it a point of vanity to corrupt the poor, 
the master to pervert the mind of his domestic, 
the fathers of families to pour lessons of athe- 
ism into their children ; the practice of piety 
would lead to a belief in its truths, and with 
the devotion we should see revive the manners 
and the virtues of the best ages of the world. 

"Voltaire, when he attacked Christianity, 
knew mankind well enough not to seek to 
avail himself of what is called the opinion of 
the world, and with that view he employed his 
talents to bring impiety into fashion. He suc- 
ceeded by rendering religion ridiculous in the 
eyes of a frivolous generation. It is this ridi- 
cule which the author of the Genius of Chris- 
tianity has, beyond every thing, sought to 
efface; that was the object of his work. He 
may have failed in the execution, but the ob- 
ject surely was highly important. To con- 
sider Christianity in its relation with human 
society; to trace the changes which it has 
effected in the reason and the passions of 
man ; to show how it has modified the genius 
of arts and of letters, moulded the spirit of 
modern nations ; in a word, to unfold all the 



12 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



marvels which religion has wrought in the 
regions of poetry, morality, politics, history, 
and public charity, must always be esteemed 
a noble undertaking. As to its execution, he 
abandons himself, with submission, to the 
criticisms of those who appreciate the spirit 
of the design. 

" Take, for example, a picture, professedly 
an impious tendency, and place beside it 
another picture on the same subject from the 
Genius of Christianity, and I will venture to 
affirm that the latter picture, however feebly 
executed, will weaken the impression of the 
first, so powerful is the effect of simple truth 
when compared to the most brilliant sophisms. 
Voltaire has frequently turned the religious 
orders into ridicule ; well, put beside one of 
his burlesque representations the chapter on 
ihe Missions, that where the order of the 
Hospitallers is depicted as succouring the 
travellers in the desert, or the monks relieving 
the sick in the hospitals, attending those dying 
of the plague in the lazarettos, or accompany- 
ing the criminal to the scaffold, what irony 
will not be disarmed — what malicious smile 
will not be converted into tears 1 Answer the 
reproaches made to the worship of the Chris- 
tians for their ignorance, by appealing to the 
immense labours of the ecclesiastics who 
saved from destruction the manuscripts of 
antiquity. Reply to the accusations of bad 
taste and barbarity, by referring to the works 
of Bossuet and Fenelon. Oppose to the carica- 
tures of saints and of angels, the sublime effects 
of Christianity on the dramatic part of poetry, 
on eloquence, and the fine arts, and say 
whether the impression of ridicule will long 
maintain its ground 1 Should the author have 
no other success than that of having displayed 
before the eyes of an infidel age a long series 
of religious pictures without exciting disgust, 
he would deem his labours not useless to the 
cause of humanity."— III. 263—266. 

These observations appear to us as just as 
they are profound, and they are the reflections 
not merely of a sincere Christian, but a man 
practically acquainted with the state of the 
world. It is of the utmost importance, no 
doubt, that there should exist works on the 
Christian faith, in which the arguments of the 
skeptic should be combated, and to which the 
Christian disciple might refer with confidence 
for a refutation of the objections which have 
been urged against his religion. But great as 
is the merit of such productions, their bene- 
ficial effects are limited in their operation com- 
pared with those which are produced by such 
writings as we are considering. The hardened 
sceptic will never turn to a work on divinity 
for a solution of his paradoxes ; and men of 
the world can never be persuaded to enter on 
serious arguments even on the most moment- 
ous subject of human belief. It is the indiffer- 
ence, not the skepticism of such men, which is 
chiefly to be dreaded : the danger to be appre- 
hended is not that they will say there is no 
God, but that they will live altogether without 
God in the world. It has happened but too 
frequently that divines, in their zeal for the 
progress of Christianity among such men, 
have augmented the very evil they intended to 



remove. They have addressed themselves in 
general to them as if rhey were combatants 
drawn out in a theological dispute; they have 
urged a mass of arguments which they were 
unable to refute, but which were too uninterest- 
ing to be even examined, and while the)' flat- 
tered themselves that they had effectually 
silenced their opponents' objections, those 
whom they addressed have silently passed by 
on the other side. It is, therefore, of incalcu- 
lable importance that some writings should 
exist which should lead men imperceptibly into 
the ways of truth, which should insinuate 
themselves into the tastes, and blend them- 
selves with the refinements of ordinary life, 
and perpetually recur to the cultivated mind 
with all that it admires, or loves, or venerates, 
in the world. 

Nor let it be imagined that reflections such 
as these are not the appropriate theme of re- 
ligious instruction — that they do not form the 
fit theme of Christian meditation. Whatever 
leads our minds habitually to the Author of 
the Universe; — whatever mingles the voice 
of nature with the revelation of the gospel; — 
whatever teaches us to see, in all the changes 
of the world, the varied goodness of him, in 
whom "we live, and move, and have our 
being," — brings us nearer to the spirit of the 
Saviour of mankind. But it is not only as 
encouraging a sincere devotion, that these re- 
flections are favourable to Christianity; there 
is something, moreover, peculiarly allied to its 
spirit in such observations of external nature. 
When our Saviour prepared himself for his 
temptation, his agony, and death, he retired to 
the wilderness of Judgca, to inhale, we may 
venture to believe, a holier spirit amidst its 
solitary scenes, and to approach to a hearer 
communion with his Father, amidst the sub- 
limest of his works. It is with similar feelings, 
and to worship the same Father, that the 
Christian is permitted to enter the temple of 
nature ; and by the spirit of his religion, there 
is a language infused into the objects which 
she presents, unknown to the worshipper of 
former times. To all indeed the same objects 
appear — the same sun shines — the same hea- 
vens are open: but to the Christian alone it is 
permitted to knoAV the Author of these things ; 
to see his spirit " move in the breeze and 
blossom in the spring," and to read, in the 
changes which occur in the material world, 
the varied expression of eternal love. It is 
from the influence of Christianity accordingly 
that the key has been given to the signs of 
nature. It was only when the Spirit of God 
moved on the face of the deep, that order and 
beauty was seen in the world. 

It is accordingly peculiarly well worthy of 
observation, that the beauty of nature, as felt in 
modern times, seems to have been almost un- 
known to the writers of antiquity. They de- 
scribed occasionally the scenes in which they 
dwelt; but, if we except Virgil, whose gentle 
mind seems to have anticipated, in this in- 
stance, the influence of the gospel, never with, 
any deep feeling of their beauty. Then, as 
now, the citadel of Athens looked upon the 
evening sun, and her temples flamed in his 
setting beam; but what Athenian writer ever 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



13 



described the matchless glories of the scene ? 
Then, as now, the silvery clouds of the iEgean 
sea rolled round her verdant isles, and sported 
in the azure vault of heaven; but what Gre- 
cian poet has been inspired by the sight? The 
Italian lakes spread their waves beneath a 
cloudless sky, and all that is lovely in nature 
was gathered around them ; yet even Eustace 
tells us, that a few detached lines is all that is 
left in regard to them by the Roman poets. 
The Alps themselves, 

"The palaces of nature, whose vast walls 
Have pinnacled in clouds their snowy scalps, 
And throned eternity in icy halls 
Of cold sublimity, where forms and falls 
^The avalanche — the thunderbolts of snow." 

Even these, the most glorious objects which 
the eye of man can behold, were regarded by 
the ancients with sentiments only of dismay 
or horror; as a barrier from hostile nations, or 
as the dwelling of barbarous tribes. The torch 
of religion had not then lightened the face of 
nature; they knew not the language which 
she spoke, nor felt that holy spirit, which to 
the Christian gives the sublimity of these 
scenes. 

Chateaubriand divides his great work into 
four parts. The first treats of the doctrinal 
parts of religion: the second and the third, 
the relations of that religion with poetry, litera- 
ture, and the arts. The fourth, the ceremonies 
of public worship, and the services rendered 
to mankind by the clergy, regular and secular. 
On the mysteries of faith he commences with 
these fine observations. 

" There is nothing beautiful, sweet, or grand 
in life, but in its mysteries. The sentiments 
which agitate us most strongly are enveloped 
in obscurity ; modesty, virtuous love, sincere 
frindship, have all their secrets, with which the 
world must not be made acquainted. Hearts 
which love understand each other by a word; 
half of each is at all times open to the other. 
Innocence itself is but a holy ignorance, and 
the most ineffable of mysteries. 'Infancy is 
only happy, because it as yet knows nothing ; 
age miserable, because it has nothing more to 
learn. Happily for it, when the mysteries of 
life are ending, those of immortality commence. 

"If it is thus with the sentiments, it is as- 
suredly not less so with the virtues ; the most 
angelic are those which, emanating directly 
from the Deity, such as charity, love to with- 
draw themselves from all regards, as if fear- 
ful to betray their celestial origin. 

"If we turn to the understanding, we shall 
find that the pleasures of thought also have a 
certain connection with the mysterious. To 
what sciences do we unceasingly return? To 
those which always leave something still to 
be discovered, and fix our regards on a per- 
spective which is never to terminate. If we 
wander in the desert, a sort of instinct leads 
us to shun the plains where the eye embraces 
at once the whole circumference of nature, to 
plunge into forests, those forests the cradle of 
religion, whose shades and solitudes are filled 
with the recollections of prodigies, where the 
ravens and the doves nourished the prophets 
and fathers of the church. If we visit a modern 
monument, whose origin or destination is 



known, it excites no attention ; but if we meet 
on a desert isle, in the midst of the ocean, 
with a mutilated statue pointing to the west, 
with its pedestal covered with hieroglyphics, 
and worn by the winds, what a subject of 
meditation is presented to the traveller ! Every 
thing is concealed, every thing is hidden in 
the universe. Man himself is the greatest 
mystery of the whole. Whence comes the 
spark which we call existence, and in what 
obscurity is it to be extinguished? The Eter- 
nal has placed our birth, and our death, under 
the form of two veiled phantoms, at the two 
extremities of our career; the one produces 
the inconceivable gift of life, which the other 
is ever ready to devour. 

"It is not surprising, then, considering the 
passion of the human mind for the mysterious, 
that the religions of every country should 
have had their impenetrable secrets. God 
forbid ! that I should compare their mysteries 
to those of the true faith, or the unfathomable 
depths of the Sovereign in the heavens, to the 
changing obscurities of those gods which are 
the work of human hands. All that I observe 
is, that there is no religion without mysteries, 
and that it is they with the sacrifice which every 
where constitute the essence of the worship. 
God is the great secret of nature, the Dejfcy was 
veiled in Egypt, and the Sphynx was seated at 
the entrance of his temples." — I. 13, 14. 

On the three great sacraments of the Church, 
Baptism, Confession, and the Communion, he 
makes the following beautiful observations : — 

"Baptism, the first of the sacraments which 
religion confers upon man, clothes him, in the 
words of the Apostle, with Jesus Christ. That 
sacrament reveals at once the corruption in 
which we were born, the agonizing pains 
which attended our birth, and the tribulations 
which follow us into the world; it tells us that 
our faults will descend upon our children, and 
that we are all jointly responsible; a terrible 
truth, which, if duly considered, would alone 
suffice to render the reign of virtue universal 
in the world. 

" Behold the infant in the midst of the waters 
of the Jordan ; the man of the wilderness pours 
the purifying stream on his head ; the river of 
the Patriarchs, the camels on its banks, the 
Temple of Jerusalem, the cedars of Lebanon, 
seem to regard with interest the mighty spec- 
tacle. Behold in mortal life that infant near 
the sacred fountain ; a family filled with thank- 
fulness surround it ; renounce in its name the 
sins of the world ; bestow on it with joy the 
name of its grandfather, which seems thus to 
become immortal, in its perpetual renova- 
tion by the fruits of love from generation 
to generation. Even now the father is im- 
patient to take his infant in his arms, to re- 
place it in its mother's bosom, who listens be- 
hind the curtains to all the thrilling sounds of 
the sacred ceremony. The whole family sur- 
round the maternal bed; tears of joy, mingled 
with the transports of religion, fall from every 
eye ; the new name of the infant, the old name 
of its ancestor, is repeated by every mouth, 
and every one mingling the recollections oi 
the past with the joys of the present, thinks 
that he sees the venerable grandfather revive 
B 



14 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



in the new-born which has taken his name. 
Such is the domestic spectacle which through- 
out all the Christian world the sacrament of 
Baptism presents; but religion, ever mingling 
lessons of duty with scenes of joy, shows us 
the son of kings clothed in purple, renouncing 
the grandeur of the world, at the same fountain 
where the child of the poor in rags abjures 
the pomps by which he will in all probability 
never be tempted. 

" Confession follows baptism ; and the 
Church, with that wisdom which it alone 
possesses, fixed the era of its commencement 
at that period when first the idea of crime can 
enter the infant mind, that is at seven years of 
age. All men, including the philosophers, 
how different soever their opinions maybe on 
other subjects, have regarded the sacrament 
of penitence as one of the strongest barriers 
against crime, and a chef-d'oeuvre of wisdom. 
What innumerable restitutions and repara- 
tions, says Rousseau, has confession caused to 
be made in Catholic countries ! According to 
Voltaire, ' Confession is an admirable inven- 
tion, a bridle to crime, discovered in the most 
remote antiquity, for confession was recognised 
in the celebration of all the ancient mysteries. 
We have adopted and sanctified that wise 
custom, and its effects have always been found 
to be admirable in inclining hearts, ulcerated 
by hatred, to forgiveness.' 

" But for that salutary institution, the guilty 
would give way to despair. In what bosom 
would he discharge the w r eight of his heart 1 ? 
In that of a friend — Who can trust the friend- 
ships of the world ] Shall he take the deserts 
for a confident] Alas! the deserts are ever 
filled to the ear of crime with those trumpets 
which the parricide Nero heard round the 
tomb of his mother. When men and nature 
are unpitiable, it is indeed consolatory to find 
a Deity inclined to pardon ; but it belongs only 
to the Christian religion to have made twin 
sisters of Innocence and Repentance. 

" In fine, the Communion presents instruc- 
tive ceremony ; it teaches morality, for we 
must be pure to approach it ; it is the offering 
of the fruits of the earth to the Creator, and it 
recalls the sublime and touching history of 
the Son of Man. Blended with the recollection 
of Easter, and of the first covenant of God with 
man, the origin of the communion is lost in 
the obscurity of an infant world; it is related 
to our first ideas of religion and society, and 
recalls the pristine equality of the human 
race; in fine, it perpetuates the recollection of 
our primeval fall, of our redemption, and re- 
acceptance by God." — I. 30 — 46. 

These and similar passages, not merely in 
this work, which professes to be of a popular 
cast, but in others of the highest class of 
Catholic divinity, suggest an idea which, the 
more we extend our reading, the more we shall 
find to be just, viz., that in the greater and 
purer writers on' religion, of whatever church 
or age, the leading doctrines are nearly the 
same, and that the differences which divide 
their followers, and distract the world, are 
seldom, on any material or important points, 
to be met with in writers of a superior caste. 
Chateaubriand is a faithful, and in some re- 



spects, perhaps, a bigoted, Catholic ; yet there 
is hardly a word here, or in any other part of 
his writings on religion, to which a Christian 
in any country may not subscribe, and which 
is not calculated in all ages and places to for- 
ward the great work of the purification and 
improvement of the human heart. Travellers 
have often observed, that in a certain rank in 
all countries manners are the same; naturalists 
know, that at a certain elevation above the 
sea in all latitudes, we meet with the same 
vegetable productions ; and philosophers have 
often remarked, that in the highest class of in- 
tellects, opinions on almost every subject in 
all ages and places are the same. A similar 
uniformity may be observed in the principles 
of the greatest writers of the world on religion : 
and while the inferior followers of their dif- 
ferent tenets branch out into endless divisions, 
and indulge in sectarian rancour, in the more 
lofty regions of intellect the principles are 
substantially the same, and the objects of all 
identical. So small a proportion do all the 
disputed points in theology bear to the great 
objects of religion, love to God, charity to man, 
and the subjugation of human passion. 

On the subject of marriage, and the reasons 
for its indissolubility, our author presents us 
with the following beautiful observations : — 

" Habit and a long life together are more 
necessary to happiness, and even to love, than 
is generally imagined. No one is happy with 
the object of his attachment until he has passed 
many days, and above all, many days of mis- 
fortune, with her. The married pair must 
know each other to the bottom of their souls ; 
the mysterious veil which covered the two 
spouses in the primitive church, must be 
raised in its inmost folds, how closely soever 
it may be kept drawn to the rest of the world. 

" What ! on account of a fit of caprice, or 
a burst of passion, am I to be exposed to the 
fear of losing my wife and my children, and to 
renounce the hope of passing my declining 
days with* them] Let no one imagine that 
fear will make me become a better husband. 
No ; we do not attach ourselves to a posses- 
sion of which we are not secure ; w r e do not 
love a property which we are in danger of 
losing. 

" We must not give to Hymen the wings of 
Love, nor make of a sacred reality a fleeting 
phantom. One thing is alone sufficient to de- 
stroy your happiness in such transient unions ; 
you will constantly compare one to the other, 
the wife you have lost to the one you have 
gained ; and do not deceive yourself, the balance 
will always incline to the past, for so God has 
constructed the human heart. This distraction 
of a sentiment which should be indivisible 
will empoison all your joys. When you 
caress your new infant, you will think of the 
smiles of the one you have lost ; when you 
press your wife to your bosom, your heart will 
tell you that she is not the first. Every thing 
in man tends to unity; he is no longer happy, 
when he is divided, and, like God, who made 
him in his image, his soul seeks incessantly to 
concentrate into one point the past, the pre- 
sent, and the future. 

" The wife of a Christian is not a simple 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



15 



mortal: she is a mysterious angelic being: 
the flesh of the flesh, the blood of the blood of 
her husband. Man, in uniting himself, to her, 
does nothing but regain part of the substance 
which he has lost. His soul as well as his 
body are incomplete without his wife : he has 
strength, she has beauty ; he combats the 
enemy and labours the fields, but he under- 
stands nothing of domestic life; his companion 
is awanting to prepare his repast and sweeten 
his existence. He has his crosses, and the 
partner of his couch is there to soften them: 
his days may be sad and troubled, but in the 
chaste arms of his wife he finds comfort and 
repose. Without woman man would be rude, 
gross, and solitary. Woman spreads around 
himx the flowers of existence, as the creepers 
of the forests which decorate the trunks of 
sturdy oaks with their perfumed garlands. 
Finally, the Christian pair live and die united: 
together they rear the fruits of their union ; 
in the dust they lie side by side ; and they are 
reunited beyond the limits of the tomb." — I. 
78, 79. 

The extreme unction of the Catholic Church 
is described in these touching words : 

" Come and behold the most moving spec- 
tacle which the world can exhibit — the death 
of the faithful. The dying Christian is no 
longer a man of this world; he belongs no 
farther to his country ; all his relations with 
society have ceased. For him the calculations 
of time are closed, and the great era of eternity 
has commenced. A priest seated beside his 
bed pours the consolations of religion into his 
dying ear : the holy minister converses with 
the expiring penitent on the immortality of the 
soul ; and that sublime scene which antiquity 
presented but once in the death of the greatest 
of her philosophers, is renewed every day at 
the couch where the humblest of the Christians 
expires. 

" At length the supreme moment arrives : 
one sacrament has opened the gates of the 
world, another is about to close them ; religion 
rocked the cradle of existence; its sweet 
strains and its maternal hand will lull it to 
sleep in the arms of death. It prepares the 
baptism of a second existence ; but it is no 
longer with water, but oil, the emblem of 
celestial incorruption. The liberating sacra- 
ment dissolves, one by one, the chords which 
attach the faithful to this world: the soul, half 
escaped from its earthly prison, is almost visi- 
ble to the senses, in the smile which plays 
around his lips. Already he hears the music 
of the seraphims ; already he longs to fly to 
those regions, where hope divine, daughter of 
virtue and death, beckons him to approach. 
At length the angel of peace, descending from 
the heavens, touches with his golden sceptre 
his wearied eyelids, and closes them in deli- 
cious repose to the light. He dies: and so 
sweet has been his departure, that no one has 
heard his last sigh; and his friends, long after 
he is no more, preserve silence round his 
couch, still thinking that he slept; so like the 
sleep of infancv is the death of the just." — I. 
69—71. 

It is against pride, as every one knows, 

at the chief efforts of the Catholic Church 



have always been directed, because they con' 
sider it as the source of all other crime. 
Whether this is a just view may, perhaps, be 
doubted, to the extent at least that they carry 
it ; but there can be but one opinion as to the 
eloquence of the apology which Chateaubriand 
makes for this selection. 

"In the virtues preferred by Christianity, 
we perceive the same knowledge of human 
nature. Before the coming of Christ, the soul 
of man was a chaos ; but no sooner was the 
word heard, than all the elements arranged 
themselves in the moral world, as at the same 
divine inspiration they had produced the mar- 
vels of material creation. The virtues ascended 
like pure fires into the heavens; some, like 
brilliant suns, attracted the regards by their 
resplendent light; others, more modest, sough* - 
the shade, where nevertheless their lustre 
could not be concealed. From that moment 
an admirable balance was established between 
the forces and the weaknesses of existence. 
Religion directed its thunders against pride, 
the vice which is nourished by the virtues ; it 
discovers it in the inmost recesses of the heart, 
and follows it out in all its metamorphoses ; 
the sacraments in a holy legion march against 
it, while humility, clothed in sackcloth and 
ashes, its eyes downcast and bathed in tears, 
becomes one of the chief virtues of the faith- 
ful."— I. 74. 

On the tendency of all the fables concerning 
creation to remount to one general and eternal 
truth, our author presents the following reflec- 
tions : 

" After this exposition of the dreams of 
philosophy, it may seem useless to speak of 
the fancy of the poets. Who does not know 
Deucalion and Pyrrha, the age of gold and of 
iron ? What innumerable traditions are scat- 
tered through the earth ! In India, an elephant 
sustains the globe ; the sun in Peru has brought 
forth all the marvels of existence; in Canada, 
the Great Spirit is the father of the world ; in 
Greenland, man has emerged from an egg ; in 
fine, Scandinavia has beheld the birth of Askur 
and Emla; Odin has poured in the breath of 
life, Hoenerus reason, and Loedur blood and 
beauty. 
' Askum et Emlam omni conatu destitutes 
Animam nee possidebant, rationem nee habebant 
Nee sanguinem, nee sermonem, nee faciem venustara, 
Animam dedit Odinus, rationem dedit Hoenerus, 
Loedur sanguinem addidit et faciem venustam.' 

"In these various traditions, we find our- 
selves placed between the stories of children 
and the abstractions of philosophers ; if we 
were obliged to choose, it were better to take 
the first. 

"But to discover the original of the picture 
in the midst of so many copies, we must recur 
to that which, by its unity and the perfection 
of its parts, unfolds the genius of a master. 
It is that which we find in Genesis, the original 
of all those pictures which we see reproduced 
in so many different traditions. What can be 
at once more natural and more magnificent- 
more easy to conceive, and more in unison 
with human reason, than the Creator descend- 
ing amidst the night of ages to create light by 
a word 1 In an instant, the sun is seen sus- 
pended in the heavens, in the midst of an in* 



10 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



tnense azure vault; with invisible bonds he 
envelopes the planets, and whirls them round 
his burning axle; the sea and the forests ap- 
pear on the globe, and their earliest voices 
arise to announce to the universe that great 
marriage, of which God is the priest, the earth 
the nuptial couch, and the human race the 
posterity."— I. 97, 98. 

On the appearance of age on the globe, and 
its first aspect when fresh from the hands of 
the Creator, the author presents an hypothesis 
more in unison with the imagination of a poet 
than the observations of a philosopher, on the 
gradual formation of all objects destined for a 
long endurance. He supposes that every thing 
was at once created as we now see it. 

" It is probable that the Author of nature 
planted at once aged forests and their youthful 
progeny ; that animals arose at the same time, 
some full of years, others buoyant with the 
vigour and adorned with the grace of youth. 
The oaks, while they pierced with their roots 
the fruitful earth, without doubt bore at once 
the old nests of rooks, and the young progeny 
of doves. At once grew a chrysalis and a 
butterfly ; the insect bounded on the grass, 
suspended its golden egg in the forests, or 
trembled in the undulations of the air. The 
bee, which had not yet lived a morning, already 
counted the generations of flowers by its 
ambrosia — the sheep was not without its lamb, 
the doe without its fawns. The thickets already 
contained the nightingale, astonished at the 
melody of their first airs, as they poured forth 
the new-born effusion of their infant loves. 

u Had the world not arisen at once young 
and old, the grand, the serious, the impressive, 
would have disappeared from nature ; for all 
these sentiments depend for their very essence 
on ancient things. The marvels of existence 
vvould have been unknown. The ruined rock 
would not have hung over the abyss beneath ; 
the woods would not have exhibited that 
splendid variety of trunks bending under the 
weight of years, of trees hanging over the bed 
of streams. The inspired thoughts, the vene- 
rated sounds, the magic voices, the sacred hor- 
ror of the forests, would have vanished with 
the vaults which serve for their retreats ; and 
the solitudes of earth and heaven would have 
remained naked and disenchanted in losing the 
columns of oaks which united them. On the 
first day when the ocean dashed against the 
shore, he bathed, be assured, sands bearing all 
the marks of the action of his waves for ages ; 
cliff's strewed with the eggs of innumerable sea- 
fowl, and rugged capes which sustained against 
the waters the crumbling shores of the earth. 

"Without that primeval age, there would 
have been neither pomp nor majesty in the 
work of the Most High; and, contrary to all 
our conceptions, nature in the innocence of 
man would have been less beautiful than it is 
•now in the days of his corruption. An insipid 
childhood of plants, of animals, of elements, 
would have covered the earth, without the 
poetical feelings, which now constitute its 
principal charm. But God was not so feeble 
a designer of the grove of Eden as the incredu- 
lous would lead us to believe. Man, (he sove- 
reign of nature, was born at thirty years of age, 



in order that his powers should correspond 
with the full-grown magnificence of his new 
empire, — while his consort, doubtless, had 
already passed her sixteenth spring, though 
yet in the slumber of nonentity, that she might 
be in harmony with the flowers, the birds, the 
innocence, the love, the beauty of the youthful 
part of the universe." — I. 137, 138. 

In the rhythm of prose these are the colours 
of poetry, but still this was not to all appear- 
ance the order of creation ; and here, as in 
many other instances, it will be fouud that the 
deductions of experience present conclusions 
more sublime than the most fervid imagina- 
tion has been able to conceive. Every thing 
announces that the great works of nature are 
carried on by slow and insensible gradations ; 
continents, the abode of millions, are formed 
by the confluence of innumerable rills; vege- 
tation, commencing with the lichen and the 
moss, rises at length into the riches and magni- 
ficence of the forest. Patient analysis, philo- 
sophical discovery, have now taught us that it 
was by the same slow progress that the great 
work of creation was accomplished. The fos- 
sil remains of antediluvian ages have laid open 
the primeval works of nature; the long period 
which elapsed before the creation of man, the 
vegetables which then covered the earth, the 
animals which sported amidst its watery wastes, 
the life which first succeeded to chaos, all 
stand revealed. To the astonishment of man- 
kind, the order of creation, unfolded in Genesis, 
is proved by the contents of the earth beneath 
every part of its surface to be precisely that 
which has actually been followed; the days of 
the Creator's workmanship turn out to be the 
days of the Most High, not of his uncreated 
subjects, and to correspond to ages of our 
ephemeral existence ; and the great sabbath 
of the earth took place, not, as we imagined, 
when the sixth sun had set after the first morn- 
ing had beamed, but when the sixth period had 
expired, devoted by Omnipotence to the mighty 
undertaking. God then rested from his labours, 
because the great changes of matter, and the 
successive production and annihilation of dif- 
ferent kinds of animated existence, ceased; 
creation assumed a settled form, and laws 
came into operation destined for indefinite en- 
durance. Chateaubriand said truly, that to 
man, when he first opened his eyes on paradise, 
nature appeared with all the majesty of age as 
well as all the freshness of youth; but it was 
not in a week, but during a series of ages, that 
the magnificent spectacle had been assembled; 
and for the undying delight of his progeny, in 
all future years, the powers Of nature for count- 
less time had been already exerted. 

The fifth book of the Gdnie de Christianisme 
treats of the proofs of the existence of God, 
derived from the wonders of material nature — 
in other words, of the splendid subject of 
natural theology. On such a subject, the ob- 
servations of a mind so stored with knowledge, 
and gifted with such powers of eloquence, may 
be expected to be something of extraordinary 
excellence. Though the part of his work, ac- 
cordingly, which treats of this subject, is neces- 
sarily circumscribed, from the multitude of 
others with which it is overwhelmed, it is of 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



17 



surpassing beauty, and superior in point of 
description to any thing which has been pro- 
duced on the same subject by the genius of 
Britain. 

" There is a God ! The herbs of the valley, 
the cedars of the mountain, bless him — the in- 
sect sports in his beams — the elephant salutes 
him with the rising orb of the day — the bird 
sings him in the foliage — the thunder pro- 
claims him in the heavens — the ocean declares 
his immensity — man alone has said, 'There is 
no God !' 

" Unite in thought, at the same instant, the 
most beautiful objects in nature ; suppose that 
you see at once all the hours of the day, and 
all the seasons of the year; a morning of 
spring and a morning of autumn ; a night be- 
spangled with stars, and a night covered 
with clouds ; meadows enamelled with flowers, 
forests hoary with snow ; fields gilded by the 
tints of autumn ; then alone you will have a 
just conception of the universe. While you 
are gazing on that sun which is plunging 
under the vault of the west, another observer 
admires him emerging from the gilded gates of 
the east. By what unconceivable magic does 
that aged star, which is sinking fatigued and 
burning in the shades of the evening, reappear 
at the same instant fresh and humid with the 
rosy dew of the morning 1 At every instant 
of the day the glorious orb is at once rising — 
resplendent at noonday, and setting in the 
west; or rather our senses deceive us, and 
there is, properly speaking, no east, or south, 
or west in the world. Every thing reduces 
itself to one single point, from whence the 
King of Day sends forth at once a triple light 
in one single substance. The bright splendour 
is perhaps that which nature can present that 
is most beautiful ; for while it gives us an idea 
of the perpetual magnificence and resistless 
power of God, it exhibits, at the same time, a 
shining image of the glorious Trinity." 

The instincts of animals, and their adapta- 
tion to the wants of their existence, have long 
furnished one of the most interesting subjects 
of study to the naturalist, and of meditation to 
the devout observer of creation. Chateau- 
briand has painted, with his usual descriptive 
powers, one of the most familiar of these ex- 
amples — 

" What ingenious springs move the feet of a 
bird? It is not by a contraction of muscles 
dependent on his will that he maintains him- 
self firm upon a branch ; his foot is constructed 
in such a way that when it is pressed in the 
centre, the toes close of their own accord 
upon the body which supports it. It results 
from this mechanism, that the talons of the 
bird grasp more or less firmly the object on 
which it has alighted, in proportion to the 
agitation, more or less violent, which it has 
received. Thus, when we see at the approach 
of night during winter the crows perched on 
the scathed summit of an aged oak, we sup- 
pose that, watchful and attentive, they main- 
tain their place with pain during the rocking 
of the winds; and yet, heedless of danger, and 
mocking the tempest, the winds only bring 
them profounder slumber; — the blasts of the 
north attach them more firmly to the branch, 
3 



from whence we every instant expect to see 
them precipitated ; and like the old seaman, 
whose hammock is suspended to the roof of 
his vessel, the more he is tossed by the winds, 
the more profound is his repose." — 1. 147, 148. 
"Amidst the different instincts which the 
Sovereign of the universe has implanted in 
nature, one of the most wonderful is that 
which every year brings the fish of the pole 
to our temperate region. They come, without 
once mistaking their way, through the solitude 
of the ocean, to reach, on a fixed day, the 
stream where their hymen is to be celebrated. 
The spring prepares on our shores their nuptial 
pomp.; it covers the willows with verdure, it 
spreads beds of moss in the waves to serve 
for curtains to its crystal couches. Hardly 
are these preparations completed when the 
enamelled legions appear ; the animated navi- 
gators enliven our coasts ; some spring aloft 
from the surface of the waters, others balance 
themselves on the waves, or diverge from a 
common centre like innumerable flashes of 
gold; these dart obliquely their shining bodies 
athwart the azure fluid, while they sleep in. 
the rays of the sun, which penetrates beneath 
the dancing surface of the waves. All, sport- 
ing in the joys of existence, meander, return, 
wheel about, dash across, form in squadron, 
separate, and reunite ; and the inhabitant of 
the seas, inspired by a breath of existence, 
pursues with bounding movements its mate, 
by the line of fire which is reflected from her 
in the stream."— I. 152, 153. 

Chateaubriand's mind is full not only of the 
images but the sounds which attest the reign, 
of animated nature. Equally familiar with 
those of the desert and of the cultivated plain, 
he has had his susceptibility alike open in. 
both to the impressions which arise to a pious 
observer from their contemplation. 

" There is a law in nature relative to the 
cries of animals, which has not been sufficient- 
ly observed, and deserves to be so. The dif- 
ferent sounds of the inhabitants of the desert 
are calculated according to the grandeur or 
the sweetness of the scene where they arise,, 
and the hour of the day when they are heard. 
The roaring of the lion, loud, rough, and tre- 
mendous, is in unison with the desert scenes 
in which it is heard; while the lowing of the 
oxen diffuses a pleasing calm through our 
valleys. The goat has something trembling 
and savage in its cry, like the rocks and ravines 
from which it loves to suspend itself. The 
war-horse imitates the notes of the trumpet 
that animates him to the charge, and, as if he 
felt that he was not made for degrading em- 
ployments, he is silent under the spur of the 
labourer, and neighs under the rein of the 
warrior. The night, by turns charming or 
sombre, is enlivened by the nightingale or 
saddened by the owl — the one sings for the 
zephyrs, the groves, the moon, the soul of 
lovers — the other for the winds, the forests, the 
darkness, and the dead. Finally, all the ani- 
mals which live on others have a peculiar cry 
by which they may be distinguished by the 
creatures which are destined to be their prey." 
—I. 156. 

The making of birds' nests is one of the 
b2 



18 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



most common objects of observation. Listen 
to the reflections of genius and poetry on this 
beautiful subject. 

"The admirable wisdom of Providence is 
nowhere more conspicuous than in the nests 
of birds. It is impossible to contemplate, with- 
out emotion, the Divine goodness which thus 
gives industry to the weak, and foresight to 
the thoughtless. 

"No sooner have the trees put forth their 
leaves, than a thousand little workmen com- 
mence their labours. Some bring long pieces 
of straw into the hole of an old wall ; others 
affix their edifice to the windows of a church; 
these steal a hair from the mane of ahorse; 
those bear away, with wings trembling beneath 
its weight, the fragment of wool which a lamb 
has left entangled in the. briers. A thousand 
palaces at once arise, and every palace is a 
nest ; within every nest is soon to be seen a 
charming metamorphosis; first, a beautiful 
egg, then a little one covered with down. The 
little nestling soon feels his wings begin to 
grow ; his mother teaches him to raise himself 
on his bed of repose. Soon he takes courage 
enough to approach the edge of the nest, and 
casts a first look on the works of nature. 
Terrified and enchanted at the sight, he pre- 
cipitates himself amidst his brothers and sisters 
who have never as yet seen that spectacle : 
but recalled a second time from his couch, the 
young king of the air, who still has the crown 
of infancy on his head, ventures to contemplate 
the boundless heavens, the waving summit 
of the pine-trees, and the vast labyrinth of fo- 
liage which lies beneath his feet. And, at the 
moment that the forests are rejoicing at the 
sight of their new inmate, an aged bird, who 
feels himself abandoned by his wings, quietly 
rests beside a stream; there, resigned and 
solitary, he tranquilly awaits death, on the 
banks of the same river where he sung his 
first loves, and whose trees still bear his nest 
and his melodious offspring." — I. 158. 

The subject of the migration of the feathered 
tribes furnishes this attentive observer of na- 
ture with many beautiful images. We have 
room only for the following extract : 

"In the first ages of the world, it was by the 
flowering of plants, the fail of the leaves, the 
departure and the arrival of birds, that the 
labourers and the shepherds regulated their 
labours. Thence has sprung the art of divina- 
tion anion? certain people; they imagined that 
the birds which were sure to precede certain 
changes of the season or atmosphere, could 
not but be inspired by the Deity. The ancient 
naturalists, and the poets, to whom we are 
indebted for the few remains of simplicity 
which still linger amongst us, show us how 
marvellous was that manner of counting by 
the changes of nature, and what a charm it 
spread over the whole of existence. God is a 
profound secret. Man, created in his image, 
is equally incomprehensible. It was therefore 
an ineffable harmony to see the periods of his 
existence regulated by measures of time as 
harmonious as himself. 

"Beneath the tents of Jacob or of Boaz, the 
arrival of a bird put every thing in movement ; 
»«e Patriarch made the circuit of the camp at 



the head of his followers, armed with scythes. 
If the report was spread, that the young of the 
swallows had been seen wheeling about, the 
whole people joyfully commenced their harvest. 
These beautiful signs, while they directed the 
labours of the present, had the advantage of 
foretelling the vicissitudes of the approaching 
season. If the geese and swans arrived in 
abundance, it was known that the winter 
would be snow. Did the redbreast begin to 
build its nest in January, the shepherds hoped 
in April for the roses of May. The marriage 
of a virgin on the margin of a fountain, was 
represented by the first opening of the bud of 
the rose ; and the death of the aged, who usual- 
ly drop off in autumn, by the falling of lea.ves, 
or the maturity of the harvests. While the 
philosopher, abridging or elongating the year, 
extended the winter over the verdure of spring, 
the peasant felt no alarm that the astronomer, 
who came to him from heaven, would be 
wrong in his calculations. He knew that the 
nightingale would not take the season of hoar 
frost for that of flowers, or make the groves 
resound at the winter solstice with the songs 
of summer. Thus, the cares, the joys, the 
pleasures of the rural life were, determined, 
not by the uncertain calendar of the learned, 
but the infallible signs of Him who traced his 
path to the sun. That sovereign regulator 
w'shed himself that the rites of his worship 
should be determined by the epochs fixed by 
his works ; and in those days of innocence, 
according to the seasons and the labours they 
required, it was the voice of the zephyr or of 
the tempest, of the eagle or the dove, which 
called the worshipper to the temple of his 
Creator."—!. 171. 

Let no one exclaim, what have these descrip- 
tions to do with the spirit of Christianity 1 
Gray thought otherwise, when he wrote the 
sublime lines on visiting the Grande Char- 
treuse. Buchanan thought otherwise, when, 
in his exquisite Ode to May, he supposed the 
first zephyrs of spring to blow over the islands 
of the just. The work of Chateaubriand, it is 
to be recollected, is not merely an exposition 
of the doctrines, spirit, or precepts of Chris- 
tianity ; it is intended expressly to allure, by 
the charms which it exhibits, the man of the 
world, an unbelieving and volatile generation, 
to the feelings of devotion; it is meant to com- 
bine all that is delightful or lovely in the 
works of nature, with all that is sublime or 
elevating in the revelations of religion. In his 
eloquent pages, therefore, we find united the 
Natural Theology of Paley, the Contemplations 
of Taylor, and the Analogy of Butler ; and 
if the theologians will look in vain for the 
weighty arguments by which the English 
divines have established the foundation of their 
faith, men of ordinary education will find even 
more to entrance and subdue their minds. 

Among the proofs of the immortality of the 
soul, our author, with all others who have 
thought upon the subject, classes the obvious 
disproportion between the desires and capacity 
of the soul, and the limits of its acquisitions 
and enjoyments in this world. In the follow- 
ing passage this argument is placed in its just 
colours. 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



19 



"If it is impossible to deny, that the hope of 
man continues to the edge of the grave — if it 
"be true, that the advantages of this world, so 
far from satisfying our wishes, tend only to 
augment the want which the soul experiences, 
and dig deeper the abyss which it contains 
within itself, we must conclude that there is 
something beyond the limits of time. 'Vin- 
cula hujus mundi, says St. Augustin, ' asperi- 
tatem habent veram, jucunditatem falsam, 
certum dolorem, incertam voluptatem, durum 
laborem, timidam quietem, rem plenam mise- 
riee, spem beatitudinis inanem.' Far from 
lamenting that the desire for felicity has been 
planted in this world, and its ultimate gratifica- 
tion only in another, let us discern in that 
only an additional proof of the goodness of God. 
Since sooner or later we must quit this world, 
Providence has placed beyond its limits a 
charm, which is felt as an attraction to dimin- 
ish the terrors of the tomb ; as a kind mother, 
when wishing to make her infant cross a bar- 
rier, places some agreeable object on the other 
side."— I. 210. 

"Finally, there is another proof of the im- 
mortality of the soul, which has not been suf- 
ficiently insisted on, and that is the universal 
veneration of mankind for the tomb. There, 
by an invincible charm, life is attached to 
death, there the human race declares itself 
superior to the rest of creation, and proclaims 
aloud its lofty destinies. What animal regards 
its coffin, or disquiets itself about the ashes of 
its fathers 1 Which one has any regard for 
the bones of its father, or even knows its 
father, after the first necessities of infancy are 
passed 1 Whence comes then the all-power- 
ful idea which we entertain of death 1 Do a 
few grains of dust merit so much considera- 
tion 7 No ; without doubt we respect the 
bones of our fathers, because an inward voice 
tells us that all is not lost with them ; and that 
is the voice which has everywhere conse- 
crated the funeral service throughout the 
world ; all are equally persuaded that the sleep 
is not eternal, even in the tomb, and that death 
itself is but a glorious transfiguration." — I. 217. 

To the objection, that if the idea of God is 
innate, it must appear in children without 
any education, which is not generally the case, 
Chateaubriand replies : 

" God being a spirit, and it being impossible 
that he should be understood but by a spirit, 
an infant, in whom the powers of thought are 
not as yet developed, cannot form a proper 
conception of the Supreme Being. We must 
not expect from the heart its noblest function, 
when the marvellous fabric is as yet in the 
hands of its Creator. 

" Besides, there seems reason to believe 
that a child has, at least, a sort of instinct of 
its Creator ; witness only its little reveries, its 
disquietudes, its fears in the night, its disposi- 
tion to raise its eyes to heaven. An infant 
joins together its little hands and repeats after 
its mother a prayer to the good God. Why does 
that little angel lisp with so much love and 
purity the name of the Supreme Being, if it 
has no inward consciousness of its existence 
in its heart 7 

"Behold that new-born infant, which the 



nurse still carries under her arms. What has 
it done to give so much joy to that old man, to 
that man in the prime of life, to that woman 1 ? 
Two or three syllables half-formed, which no 
one rightly understands, and instantly three 
reasonable creatures are transported with Re- 
light, from the grandfather, to whom all that 
life contains is known, to the young mother, 
to whom the greater part of it is as yet un- 
revealed. Who has put that power into the 
word of man 7 How does it happen that the 
sound of a human voice subjugates so instan- 
taneously the human heart 7 What subjugates 
you is something allied to a mystery, which 
depends on causes more elevated than the in- 
terest, how strong soever, which you take in 
that infant: something tells you that these in- 
articulate words are the first openings of an 
immortal soul." — I. 224. 

There is a subject on which human genius 
can hardly dare to touch, the future felicity of 
the just. Our author thus treats this delicate 
subject : 

"The purest of sentiments in this world is 
admiration ; but every earthly admiration is 
mingled with weakness, either in the object it 
admires, or in that admiring. Imagine, then, 
a perfect being, which perceives at once all • 
that is, and has, and will be ; suppose that soul 
exempt from envy and all the weaknesses of 
life, incorruptible, indefatigable, unalterable ; 
conceive it contemplating without ceasing the 
Most High, discovering incessantly new per- 
fections ; feeling existence only from the re- 
newed sentiment of that admiration ; conceive 
God as the sovereign beauty, the universal 
principle of love ; figure all the attachments I 
of earth blending in that abyss of feeling, 
without ceasing to love the objects of affection 
on this earth ; imagine, finally, that the inmate 
of heaven has the conviction that this felicity 
is never to end, and you will have an idea, 
feeble and imperfect indeed, of the felicity of 
the just. They are plunged in this abyss of 
delight, as in an ocean from which they can- 
not emerge: they wish nothing; they have 
every thing, though desiring nothing; an 
eternal youth, a felicity without end; a glory 
divine is expressed in their countenances ; a 
sweet, noble, and majestic joy; it is a sublime 
feeling of truth and virtue which transports 
them ; at every instant they experience the 
same rapture as a mother who regains a be- 
loved child whom she believed lost; and that 
exquisite joy, too fleeting on earth, is there 
prolonged through the ages of eternity. — I. 241. 

We intended to have gone through in this 
paper the whole Genie de Christianisme, and 
we have only concluded the first volume, so 
prolific of beauty are its pages. We make no 
apology for the length of the quotations, which 
have so much extended the limits of this article ; 
any observations would be inexcusable which 
should abridge passages of such transcendent 
t beauty. 

"The Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem," is 
an account of the author's journey in 1806, 
from Paris to Greece, Constantinople, Pales- 
tine, Egypt and Carthage. This work is not 
so much a book of travels as memoirs of the 
feelings and impressions of the author during 



20 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



a journey over the shores of the Mediterranean; 
the cradle, as Dr. Johnson observed, of all that 
dignifies and has blest human nature, of our 
laws, our religion, and our civilization. It 
may readily be anticipated that the observa- 
tions of such a man, in such scenes, must con- 
tain much that is interesting and delightful: 
our readers may prepare themselves for a high 
gratification; it is seldom that they have such 
an intellectual feast laid before them. We 
have translated the passages, both because 
there is no English version with which we are 
acquainted of this work, and because the trans- 
lations which usually appear of French authors 
are executed in so slovenly a style. 

On his first night amidst the ruins of Sparta, 
our author gives the following interesting ac- 
count : — 

" After supper Joseph brought me my saddle, 
which usually served for my pilloAv. I wrap- 
ped myself in my cloak, and slept on the banks 
of the Eurotas under a laurel. The night was 
so clear and serene, that the milky way formed 
a resplendent arch, reflected in the waters of 
the river, and by the light of which I could 
read. I slept with my eyes turned towards the 
heavens, and with the constellation of the 
Swan of Leda directly above my head. Even 
at this distance of time I recollect the pleasure 
I experienced in sleeping thus in the woods 
of America, and still more in awakening in 
the middle of the night. I there heard the 
sound of the wind rustling through those pro- 
found solitudes, the cry of the stag and the 
deer, the fall of a distant cataract, while the 
fire at my feet, half-extinguished, reddened 
from below the foliage of the forest. I even 
experienced a pleasure from the voice of the 
Iroquois, when he uttered his cry in the midst 
of the untrodden woods, and by the light of 
the stars, amidst the silence of nature, pro- 
claimed his unfettered freedom. Emotions such 
as these please at twenty years of age, because 
life is then so full of vigour that it suffices as 
it were for itself, and because there is some- 
thing in early youth which incessantly urges 
towards the mysterious and the unknown; 
ipsi tibi somnia fingunt ; but in a more mature 
age the mind reverts to more imperishable 
emotions; it inclines, most of all, to there- 
collections and the examples of history. I would 
still sleep willingly on the banks of the Eurotas 
and the Jordan, if the shades of the three hun- 
dred Spartans, or of the twelve sons of Jacob, 
were to visit my dreams ; but I would no longer 
set out to visit lands which have never been 
explored by the plough. I now feel the desire 
for those old deserts which shroud the walls 
of Babylon or the legions of Pharsalia; fields 
of which the furrows are engraven on human 
thought, and where I may find man as I am, 
the blood, the tears, and the labours of man." 
—I. 86, 87. 

From Laconia our author directed his steps 
by the isthmus of Corinth to Athens. Of his 
first feelings in the ancient cradle of taste and 
genius he gives the following beautiful de- 
scription: — 

" Overwhelmed with fatigue, I slept for some 
time without interruption, when I was at length 
awakened by the sound of Turkish music, 



proceeding from the summits of the Propyleum. 
At the same moment a Mussulman priest from 
one of the mosques called the faithful to pray 
in the city of Minerva. I cannot describe 
what I felt at the sound; that Iman had no 
need to remind one of the lapse of time ; his 
voice alone in these scenes announced the 
revolution of ages. 

" This fluctuation in human affairs is the 
more remarkable from the contrast which it 
affords to the unchangeableness of nature. As 
if to insult the instability of human affairs, the 
animals and the birds experience no change 
in their empires, nor alterations in their habits. 
I saw, when sitting on the hill of the Muses, 
the storks form themselves into a wedge, and 
wing their flight towards the shores of Africa. 
For two thousand years they have made the 
same voyage — they have remained free and 
happy in the city of Solon, as in that of the 
chief of the black eunuchs. From the height 
of their nests, which the revolutions below 
have not been able to reach, they have seen 
the races of men disappear ; while impious 
generations have arisen on the tombs of their 
religious parents, the young stork has never 
ceased to nourish its aged parent. I involun- 
tarily fell into these reflections, for the stork 
is the friend of the traveller : ' it knows the 
seasons of heaven.' These birds were fre- 
quently my companions in the solitudes of 
America : I have often seen them perched on 
the wigwams of the savage ; and when I saw 
them rise from another species of desert, from 
the ruins of the Parthenon, I could not avoid 
feeling a companion in the desolation of empires. 

" The first thing which strikes a traveller 
in the monuments of Athens, is their lovely 
eolour. In our climate, where the heavens 
are charged with smoke and rain, the whitest 
stone soon becomes tinged with black and 
green. It is not thus with the atmosphere of 
the city of Theseus. The clear sky and bril- 
liant sun of Greece have shed over the marble 
of Paros and Pentilicus a golden hue, com- 
parable only to the finest and most fleeting 
tints of autumn. 

" Before I saw these splendid remains I had 
fallen into the ordinary error concerning them. 
I conceived they were perfect in their details, 
but that they wanted grandeur. But the first 
glance at the originals is sufficient to show 
that the genius of the architects has supplied 
in the magnitude of proportion what was 
wanting in size ; and Athens is accordingly 
filled with stupendous edifices. The Athenians, 
a people far from rich, few in number, have 
succeeded in moving gigantic masses ; the 
blocks of stone in the Pnyx and the Propyleum 
are literally quarters of rock. The slabs which 
stretch from pillar to pillar are of enormous 
dimensions : the columns of the Temple of 
Jupiter Olympius are above sixty feet in height, 
and the walls of Athens, including those winch 
stretched to the Piraeus, extended over nine 
leagues, and were so broad that two chariots 
could drive on them abreast. The Romans 
never erected more extensive fortification^. 

" By what strange fatality has it happened 
that the chefs d'eeuvre of antiquity, which the 
moderns go so far to admire, have owed their 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



21 



destruction chiefly to the moderns themselves 1 
The Parthenon was entire in 1687 ; the Chris- 
tians at first converted it into a church, and the 
Turks into a mosqut. The Venetians, in the 
middle of the light of the seventeenth century, 
bombarded the Acropolis with red-hot shot ; a 
shell fell on the Parthenon, pierced the roof, 
communicated to a few barrels of powder, and 
blew into the air great part of the edifice, 
which did less honour to the gods of antiquity 
than the genius of man. No sooner was the 
town captured, than Morosini, in the design 
of embellishing Venice with its spoils, took 
down the statues from the front of the Temple ; 
and another modern has completed, from love 
for the arts, that which the Venetian had begun. 
The invention of fire-arms has been fatal to 
the monuments of antiquity. Had the bar- 
barians been acquainted with the use of gun- 
powder, not a Greek or Roman edifice would 
have survived their invasion; they would 
have blown up even the Pyramids in the 
search for hidden treasures. One year of war 
in our times will destroy more than a century 
of combats among the ancients. Every thing 
among the moderns seems opposed to the per- 
fection of art ; their country, their manners, their 
dress; even their discoveries." — 1. 136, 145. 

These observations are perfectly well found- 
ed. No one can have visited the Grecian monu- 
ments on the shores of the Mediterranean, 
without perceiving that they were thoroughly 
masters of an element of grandeur, hitherto 
but little understood among the moderns, that 
arising from gigantic masses of stone. The 
feeling of sublimity which they produce is in- 
describable : it equals that of Gothic edifices 
of a thousand times the size. Every traveller 
must have felt this upon looking at the im- 
mense masses which rise in solitary magnifi- 
cence on the plains at Stonehenge. The great 
block in the tomb of Agamemnon at Argos ; 
those in the Cyclopean Walls of Volterra, and 
in the ruins of Agrigentum in Sicily, strike 
the beholder with a degree of astonishment 
bordering on awe. To have moved such 
enormous masses seems the work of a race 
of mortals superior in thought and power 
to this degenerate age; it is impossible, in 
visiting them, to avoid the feeling that you 
are beholding the work of giants. It is to this 
cause, we are persuaded, that the extraordina- 
ry impression produced by the pyramids, and 
all the works of the Cyclopean age in archi- 
tecture, is to be ascribed; and as it is an 
element of sublimity within the reach of all 
who have considerable funds at their com- 
mand, it is earnestly to be hoped that it will 
not be overlooked by our architects. Strange 
that so powerful an ingredient in the sublime 
should have been lost sight of in proportion to 
the ability of the age to produce it, and that the 
monuments raised in the infancy of the 
mechanical art, should still be those in which 
alone it is to be seen to perfection ! 

We willingly translate the description of the 
unrivalled scene viewed from the Acropolis 
by the same poetical hand ; a description so 
glowing, and yet so true, that it almost recalls, 
after the lapse of years, the fading tints of the 
original on the memory. 



"To understand the view from the Acropolis, 
you must figure to yourself all the plain at its 
foot ; bare and clothed in a dusky heath, inter- 
sected here and there by woods of olives, 
squares of barley, and ridges of vines ; you 
must conceive the heads of columns, and the 
ends of ancient' ruins, emerging from the midst 
of that cultivation ; Albanian women washing 
their clothes at the fountain or the scanty 
streams; peasants leading their asses, laden 
with provisions, into the modern city : those 
ruins so celebrated, those isles, those seas, 
whose names are engraven on the memory, 
illumined by a resplendent light. I have seen 
from the rock of the Acropolis the sun rise 
between the two summits of Mount Hymettus : 
the ravens, which nestle round the citadel, but 
never fly over its summit, floating in the air 
beneath, their glossy wings reflecting the rosy 
tints of the morning: columns of light smoke 
ascending from the villages on the sides of the 
neighbouring mountains marked the colonies 
of bees on the far-famed Hymettus ; and the 
ruins of the Parthenon were illuminated by 
the finest tints of pink and violet. The sculp- 
tures of Phidias, struck by a horizontal ray of 
gold, seemed to start from their marbled bed 
by the depth and mobility of their shadows : 
in the distance, the sea and the Pirseus were 
resplendent with light, while on the verge of 
the western horizon, the citadel of Corinth, 
glittering in the rays of the rising sun, shone 
like a rock of purple and fire." — I. 149. 

These are the colours of poetry; but beside 
this brilliant passage of French description, 
we willingly place the equally correct and still 
more thrilling lines of our own poet. 

" Slow sinks more beauteous ere his race be run 

Along Morea's hills the setting sun, 

IS'ot as in northern clime obscurely bright, 

But one unclouded blaze of living light ; 

O'er the hushed deep the yellow beams he throws, 

Gilds the green wave that trembles as it glows ; 

On old ^Egina's rock and Idra's isle, 

The God of Gladness sheds his parting smile ; 

O'er his own region* lingering loves to shine, 

Though there his altars are no more divine ; 

Descending fast, the mountain shadows kiss 

Thy glorious gulf, unconquer'd Salamis ! 

Their azure arches through the Ion? expanse, 

More deeply purpled meet his mellowing glance, 

And tenderest tints, along their summits driven, 

Mark his gay course and own the lines of heaven, 

Till, darkly shaded from the land and deep, 

Behind his Delphian cliff he sinks to sleep." 

The columns of the temple of Jupiter Olym- 
pius produced the same effects on the enthu- 
siastic mind of Chateaubriand as they do on 
every traveller : — But he has added some re- 
flections highly descriptive of the peculiar turn 
of his mind. 

" At length we came to the great isolated 
columns placed in the quarter which is called 
the city of Adrian. On a portion of the archi- 
trave which unites two of the columns, is to 
be seen a piece of masonry, once the abode of 
a hermit. It is impossible to conceive how 
that building, which is still entire, could have 
been erected on the summit of one of these 
prodigious columns, whose height is above 
sixty feet. Thus this vast temple, at which 
the Athenians toiled for seven centuries, which 
all the kings of Asia laboured to finish, which 
Adrian, the ruler of the world, had first the 
glory to complete, has sunk under the hand of 



22 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



time, and the cell of a hermit has remained 
undecayed on its ruins. A miserable cabin is 
borne aloft on two columns of marble, as if 
fortune had wished to exhibit, on that magni- 
ficent pedestal, a monument of its triumph and 
its caprice. 

"These columns, though twenty feet higher 
than those of the Parthenon, are far from pos- 
sessing their beauty. The degeneracy of taste 
is apparent in their construction ; but isolated 
and dispersed as they are, on a naked and 
desert plain, their effect is imposing in the 
highest degree. I stopped at their feet to hear 
the wind whistle through the Corinthian foliage 
on their summits : like the solitary palms 
which rise here and there amidst the ruins of 
Alexandria. When the Turks are threatened 
by any calamity, they bring a lamb into this 
place, and constrain it to bleat, with its face 
turned to heaven. Being unable to find the 
voice of innocence among men, they have re- 
course to the new-born lamb to mitigate the 
anger of heaven." — I. 152, 153. 

He followed the footsteps of Chandler along 
the Long Walls to the Pireeus, and found that 
profound solitude in that once busy and ani- 
mated scene, which is felt to be so impressive 
by every traveller. 

" If Chandler was astonished at the solitude 
of the Piraeus, I can safely assert that I was 
not less astonished than he. We had made 
the circuit of that desert shore ; three harbours 
had met our eyes, and in all that space we had 
not seen a single vessel ! The only spectacle 
to be seen was the ruins and the rocks on the 
shore — the only sounds that could be heard 
were the cry of the seafowl, and the murmur 
of the wave, which, breaking on the tomb of 
Themistocles, drew forth a perpetual sigh from 
the abode of eternal silence. Borne away by 
the sea, the ashes of the conqueror of Xerxes 
repose beneath the waves, side by side with 
the bones of the Persians. In vain I sought 
the Temple of Venus, the long gallery, and 
the symbolical statue which represented the 
Athenian people; the image of that implacable 
democracy was for ever fallen, beside the 
walls, where the exiled citizens came to im- 
plore a return to their country. Instead of 
those superb arsenals, of those Agorae resound- 
ing with the voice of the sailors ; of those 
edifices which rivalled the beauty of the city 
of Rhodes, I saw nothing but a ruined convent 
and a solitary magazine. A single Turkish 
sentinel is perpetually seated on the coast ; 
months and years revolve without a bark pre- 
senting itself to his sight. Such is the deplora- 
ble state into Which these ports, once so 
famous, have now fallen — Who have over- 
turned so many monuments of gods and men? 
The hidden power which overthrows every 
thing, and is itself subject to the Unknown 
God whose altar St. Paul beheld at Phalera." 
— I. 157, 158. 

The fruitful theme of the decay of Greece 
has called forth many of the finest apostrophes 
of our moralists and poets. On this subject 
Chateaubriand offers the following striking 
observations : — 

" One would imagine that Greece itself an- 
nounced, by its mourning, the misfortunes of 



its children. In general, the country is uncul- 
tivated, the soil bare, rough, savage, of a brown 
and withered aspect. There are no rivers, 
properly so called, but little streams and tor- 
rents, which become dry in summer. No 
farm-houses are to be seen on the farms, no 
labourers, no chariots, no oxen, or horses of 
agriculture. Nothing can be figured so melan- 
choly as to see the track of a modern wheel, 
where you can still trace in the worn parts of 
the rock the track of ancient wheels. Coast 
along that shore, bordered by a sea hardly 
more desolate — place on the summit of a rock 
a ruined tower, an abandoned convent — figure 
a minaret rising up in the midst of the solitude 
as a badge of slavery — a solitary flock feeding 
on a cape, surmounted by ruined columns — 
the turban of a Turk scaring the few goats 
which browze on the hills, and you will obtain 
a just idea of modern Greece. 

" On the eve of leaving Greece, at the Cape 
of Sunium, I did not abandon myself alone to 
the romantic ideas which the beauty of the 
scene was fitted to inspire. I retraced in my 
mind the history of that country; I strove to 
discover in the ancient prosperity of Athens 
and Sparta the cause of their present misfor- 
tunes, and in their present situation the germ 
of future glory. The breaking of the sea, 
which insensibly increased against the rocks 
at the foot of the Cape, at length reminded me 
that the wind had risen, and that it was time 
to resume my voyage. We descended to the 
vessel, and found the sailors already prepared 
for our departure. We pushed out to sea, 
and the breeze, which blew fresh from the land, 
bore us rapidly towards Zea. As we receded 
from the shore, the columns of Sunium rose 
more beautiful above the waves : their pure 
white appeared well defined in the dark azure 
of the distant sky. We were already far from 
the Cape ; but we still heard the murmur of 
the waves, which broke on the cliffs at its foot, 
the whistle of the winds through its solitary 
pillars, and the cry of the sea-birds which wheel 
round the stormy promontory : they were the 
last sounds which I heard on the shores of 
Greece."— I. 196. 

" The Greeks did not excel less in the choice 
of the site of their edifices than in the forms 
and proportions. The greater part of the pro- 
montories of Peloponnesus, Attica, and Ionia, 
and the Islands of the Archipelago, are marked 
by temples, trophies, or tombs. These monu- 
ments, surrounded as they generally are with 
woods and rocks, beheld in all the changes of 
light and shadow, sometimes in the midst of 
clouds and lightning, sometimes by the light 
of the moon, sometimes gilded by the rising 
sun, sometimes flaming in his setting beams, 
throw an indescribable charm over the shores 
of Greece. The earth, thus decorated, re- 
sembles the old Cybele, who, crowned and 
seated on the shore, commanded her son 
Neptune to spread the waves beneath her 
feet. 

" Christianity, to which we owe the sole 
architecture in unison with our manners, has 
also taught how to place our true monuments : 
our chapels, our abbeys, our monasteries, are 
dispersed on the summits of hills — not that the 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



23 



choice of the site was always the work of the 
architect, but that an art which is in unison 
with the feelings of the people, seldom errs far 
in what is really beautiful. Observe, on the 
other hand, how wretchedly almost all our 
edifices copied from the antique are placed. 
Not one of the heights around Paris is orna- 
mented with any of the splendid edifices with 
which the city is filled. The modern Greek 
edifices resemble the corrupted language which 
they speak at Sparta and Athens ; it is in vain 
to maintain that it is the language of Homer 
and Plato; a mixture of uncouth words, and 
of foreign constructions, betrays at every in- 
stant the invasion of the barbarians. 

"To the loveliest sunset in nature, suc- 
ceeded a serene night. The firmament, re- 
flected in the waves, seemed to sleep in the 
midst of the sea. The evening star, my faith- 
ful companion in my journey, was ready to 
sink beneath the horizon; its place could only 
be distinguished by the rays of light which it 
occasionally shed upon the water, like a dying 
taper in the distance. At intervals, the per- 
fumed breeze from the islands which we pass- 
ed entranced the senses, and agitated on the 
surface of the ocean the glassy image of the 
heavens."— I. 182, 183. 

The appearance of morning in the sea of 
Marmora is described in not less glowing 
colours. 

"At four in the morning we weighed an- 
chor, and as the wind was fair, we found our- 
selves in less than an hour at the extremity of 
the waters of the river. The scene was worthy 
of being described. On the right, Aurora rose 
above the headlands of Asia ; on the left, was 
extended the sea of Marmora; the heavens in 
the east were of a fiery red, which grew paler 
in proportion as the morning advanced; the 
morning star still shone in that empurpled 
light ; and above it you could barely descry 
the pale circle of the moon. The picture 
changed while I still contemplated it ; soon a 
blended glory of raj^s of rose and gold, diverg- 
ing from a common centre, mounted to the 
zenith; these columns were effaced, revived, 
and effaced anew, until the .sun rose above the 
horizon, and confounded all the lesser shades 
in one universal blaze of light." — I. 236. 

His journey into the Holy Land awakened 
a new and not less interesting train of ideas, 
throughout the whole of which we recognise 
the peculiar features of M. de Chateaubriand's 
mind : a strong and poetical sense of the 
beauties of nature, a memory fraught with 
historical recollections; a deep sense of reli- 
gion, illustrated, however, rather as it affects 
the imagination and the passions, than the 
judgment. It is a mere chimera to suppose 
that such aids are to be rejected by the friends 
of Christianity, or that truth may with safety 
discard the aid of fancy, either in subduing 
the passions or affecting the heart. On the 
contrary, every day's experience must con- 
vince us, that for one who can understand an 
argument, hundreds can enjoy a romance ; 
and that truth, to affect multitudes, must con- 
descend to wear the garb of fancy. It is no 
doubt of vast importance that works should 
exist in which the truths of religion are un- 



folded with lucid precision, and its principles 
defined with the force of reason: but it is at 
least of equal moment, that others should be 
found in which the graces of eloquence and 
the fervour of enthusiasm form an attraction to 
those who are insensible to graver considera- 
tions ; where the reader is tempted to follow a 
path which he finds only strewed with flowers, 
and he unconsciously inhales the breath of 
eternal life. 

Cosi all Etfro fanciul porgiamo aspersi 

L»i Boave ficor gli orsi del vaso, 

• ■ li amari inganjiato intaiiUoei.beve, 

E dal ingunno sua vita riceve. 

"On nearing the coast of Judea, the first 
visitors Ave received Avere three swallows. 
They were perhaps on their way from France, 
and pursuing their course to Syria. I was 
strongly tempted to ask them what news they 
brought from that paternal roof which I had so 
long quitted. I recollect that in years of in- 
| fancy, I spent entire hours in watching with, 
an indescribable pleasure the course of swal- 
lows in autumn, when assembling in crowds 
previous to their annual migration : a secret 
instinct told me that I too should be a travel- 
ler. They assembled in the end of autumn 
around a great fishpond; there, amidst a thou- 
sand evolutions a,nd flights in air, they seemed 
to try their wings, and prepare for their long 
pilgrimage. Whence is it that of all the re- 
collections in existence, we prefer those which 
are connected with our cradle I The illusions 
of self-love, the pleasures of youth, do not 
recur with the same charm to the memory ; 
we find in them, on the contrary, frequent bit- 
terness and pain ; but the slightest circum- 
stances revive in the heart the recollections 
of infancy, and always Avith a fresh charm. 
On the shores of the lakes in America, in an 
unknown desert, Avhich was sublime only from 
the effect of solitude, a swalloAv has frequently 
recalled to my recollection the first years of 
my life ; as here on the coast of Syria they 
recalled them in sight of an ancient land re- 
sounding Avith the traditions of history and the 
voice of ages. 

" The air Avas so fresh and so balmy that 
all the passengers remained on deck during 
the night. At six in the morning I Avas awa- 
kened by a confused hum ; I opened my eyes, 
and saw all the pilgrims crowding towards 
the proAV of the vessel. I asked Avhat it was ! 
they all replied, ' Signor, il Carmelo.' I in- 
stantly rose from the plank on Avhich I Avas 
stretched, and eagerly looked out for the sacred 
mountain. Every one strove to show it to me, 
but I could see nothing by reason of the daz- 
zling of the sun, Avhich now rose above the 
horizon. The moment had something in it 
that Avas august and impressive; all the pil- 
grims, Avith their chaplets in thoir hands, 
remained in silence, watching for the appear- 
ance of the Holy Land; the captain prayed 
aloud, and not a sound was to be heard but 
that prayer and the rush of the vessel, as it 
ploughed Aviih a fair Avind through the azure 
sea. From time to time the cry arose, from 
those in elevated parts of the vessel, that they 
saw Mount Carmel, and at length I myself 
perceived it like a round globe under the rays 



24 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of the sun. I then fell on my knees, after the 
manner of the Latin pilgrims. My iirst im- 
pression was nol the kind of agitation which 
I experienced on approaching the coast of 
Greece, but the sight of the cradle of the Israel- 
ites, and of the country of Christ, filled me 
with awe and veneration. I was about to 
descend on the land of miracles — on the birth- 
place of the sublimest poetry that has ever 
appeared on earth — on the spot where, speak- 
ing only as it has affected human history, the 
most wonderful event has occurred which 
ever changed the destinies of the species. I 
was about to visit the scenes which had been 
seen before me by Godfrey of Bouillon, Ra)- 
mond of Toulouse, Tancred the Brave, Richard 
CcGur de Lion, and Saint Louis, whose virtues 
even the infidels respected. How could an 
obscure pilgrim like myself dare to tread a 
soil ennobled by such recollections !" — I. 263 
—265. 

Nothing is more striking in the whole work 
than the description of the Dead Sea, and the 
Valley of Jordan. He has contrived to bring 
the features of that extraordinary scene more 
completely before us than any of the numerous 
English travellers who have preceded or fol- 
lowed hirn on the same route. 

"We quitted the convent at three in the 
afternoon, ascended the torrent of Cedron, and 
at length, crossing the ravine, rejoined our 
route to the east. An opening in the mountain 
gave us a passing view of Jerusalem. I 
hardly recognised the city; it seemed a mass 
of broken rocks ; the sudden appearance of 
that city of desolation in the midst of the wil- 
derness had something in it almost terrifying. 
She was, in truth, the Queen of the Desert. 

" As we advanced, the aspect of the moun- 
tains continued constantly the same, that is, a 
powdery white — without shade, a tree, or even 
moss. At half past four, we descended from 
the lofty chain we had hitherto traversed, and 
wound along another of inferior elevation. At 
length we arrived at t the last of the chain of 
heights, which close in on the west the Valley 
of Jordan and the Dead Sea. The sun was 
nearly setting ; we dismounted from our 
holies, and I lay down to contemplate at lei- 
sure the lake, the valley, and the river. 

M When you speak in general of a valley, 
you conceive it either cultivated or unculti- 
vated; if the former, it is filled with villages, 
corn-fields, vineyards, and flocks ; if the latter, 
it presents grass or forests ; if it is watered by 
a river, that river has windings, and the sinu- 
osities or projecting points afford agreeable 
and varied landscapes. But here there is no- 
thing of the kind. Conceive two long chains 
of mountains running parallel from north to 
south, without projections, without recesses, 
without vegetation. The ridge on the east. 
called the Mountains of Arabia, is the most 
elevated; viewed at the distance of eight or 
ten leagues, it resembles a vast wall, extremely 
similar to the Jura, as seen from the Lake of 
Geneva, from its form and azure tint. You 
can perceive neither summits nor the smallest 
peaks; only here and there slight inequalities, 
as if the hand of the painter who traced the long 
liues on the sky had occasionally trembled. 



"The chain on the eastern side forms part 
of the mountains of Judea — less elevated and 
more uneven than the ridge on the west: it 
differs also in its character ; it exhibits great 
masses of rock and sand, which occasionally 
present all the varieties of ruined fortifications, 
armed men, and floating banners. On the 
side of Arabia, on the other hand, black rocks, 
with perpendicular flanks, spread from afar 
their shadows over the waters of the Dead 
Sea. The smallest bird could not find in those 
crevices of rock a morsel of food; every thing 
announces a country which has fallen under 
the divine wrath ; every thing inspires the 
horror at the incest from whence sprung Am- 
nion and Moab. 

" The valley which lies between these moun- 
tains resembles the bottom of a sea, from 
which the waves have long ago withdrawn : 
banks of gravel, a dried bottom — rocks covered 
with salt, deserts of moving sand — here and 
there stunted arbutus shrubs grow with diffi- 
culty on that arid soil; their leaves are co- 
vered with the salt which had nourished their 
roots, while their bark has the scent and taste 
of smoke. Instead of villages, nothing but the 
ruins of towers are to be seen. Through the 
midst of the valley flows a discoloured stream, 
which seems to drag its lazy course unwill- 
ingly towards the lake. Its course is not to 
be discerned by the water, but by the willows 
and shrubs which skirt its banks — the Arab 
conceals himself in these thickets to waylay 
and rob the pilgrim. 

" Such are the places rendered famous by 
the maledictions of Heaven : that river is the 
Jordan : that lake is the Dead Sea. It appears 
with a serene surface; but the guilt); cities 
which are embosomed in its waves have poi- 
soned its waters. Its solitary abysses can 
sustain the life of no living thing; no vessel 
ever ploughed its bosom ; — its shores are with- 
out trees, without birds, without verdure ; its 
water, frightfully salt, is so heavy that the 
highest wind can hardly raise it. 

" In travelling in Judea, an extreme feeling 
of ennui frequently seizes the mind, from the 
sterile and monotonous aspect of the objects 
which are presented to the eye : but when 
journeying on through these pathless deserts, 
the expanse seems to spread out to infinity 
before you, the ennui disappears, and a secret 
terror is experienced, which, far from lower- 
ing the soul, elevates and inflames the 
genius. These extraordinar)^ scenes reveal 
the land desolated by miracles ; — that burning 
sun, the impetuous eagle, the barren fig-tree ; 
all the poetry, all the pictures of Scripture are 
there. Every name recalls a mystery; every 
grotto speaks of the life to come ; every peak 
re-echoes the voice of a prophet. God. him- 
self has spoken on these shores: these dried- 
up torrents, these cleft rocks, these tombs rent 
asunder, attest his resistless hand : the desert 
appears mute with terror ; and you feel that it 
has never ventured to break silence since it 
heard the voice of the Eternal." — I. 317. 

"I employed two complete hours in wan- 
dering on the shores of the Dead Sea, notwith- 
standing the remonstrances of the Bedouins, 
who pressed me to quit that dangerous region. 



CHATEAUBRIAND. 



25 



I was desirous of seeing the Jordan, at the 
place where it discharges itself into the lake; 
but the Arabs refused to lead me thither, be- 
cause the river, at a league from its mouth, 
makes a detour to the left, and approaches the 
mountains of Arabia. It was necessary, there- 
fore, to direct our steps towards the curve 
which was nearest us. We struck our tents, 
and travelled for an hour and a half with ex- 
cessive difficulty, through a fine and silvery 
sand. We were moving towards a little wood 
of willows and tamarinds; which, to my great 
surprise, I perceived growing in the midst of 
the desert. All of a sudden the Bethlemites 
stopped, and pointed to something at the bottom 
of a ravine, which had not yet attracted my at- 
tention. Without being able to say what it 
was, I perceived a sort of sand rolling on 
through the fixed banks which surrounded it. 
I approached it, and saw a yellow stream 
which could hardly be distinguished from the 
sand of its two banks. It was deeply furrowed 
through the rocks, and with difficulty rolled 
on, a stream surcharged with sand : it was the 
Jordan. 

"I had seen the great rivers of America, 
with the pleasure which is inspired by the 
magnificent works of nature. I had hailed 
the Tiber with ardour, and sought with the 
same interest the Eurotas and the Cephisus ; 
but on none of these occasions did I expe- 
rience the intense emotion which I felt on ap- 
proaching the Jordan. Not only did that river 
recall the earliest antiquity, and a name ren- 
dered immortal in the finest poetry, but its 
banks were the theatre of the miracles of our 
religion. Judea is the only country which 
recalls at once the earliest recollections of 
man, and our first impressions of heaven; 
and thence arises a mixture of feeling in the 
mind, which no other part of the world can 
produce."— I. 327, 328. 

The peculiar turn of his mind renders our 
author, in an especial manner, partial to the 
description of sad and solitary scenes. The 
following description of the Valley of Jehosha- 
phat is in his best style. 

"The Valley of Jehoshaphat has in all ages 
served as the burying-place to Jerusalem : you 
meet there, side by side, monuments of the 
most distant times and of the present century. 
The Jews still come there to die, from all the 
corners of the earth. A stranger sells to them, 
for almost its weight in gold, the land which 
contains the bones of their fathers. Solomon 
planted that valley: the shadow of the Temple 
by which it was overhung — the torrent, called 
after grief, which traversed it — the Psalms 
which David there composed — the Lamenta- 
tions of Jeremiah, which its rocks re-echoed, 
render it the fitting abode of the tomb. Jesus 
Christ commenced his Passion in the same 
place : that innocent David there shed, for the 
expiation of our sins, those tears which the 
guilty David let fall for his own transgressions. 
Few names awaken in our minds recollections 
so solemn as the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is 
so full of mysteries, that, according to the 
Prophet Joel, all mankind will be assembled 
there before the Eternal Judge. 

"The aspect of this celebrated valley is { 



desolate ; the western side is bounded by a 
ridge of lofty rocks which support the walls 
of Jerusalem, above which the towers of the 
city appear. The eastern is formed by the 
Mount of Olives, and another eminence called 
the Mount of Scandal, from the idolatry of 
Solomon. These two mountains, which adjoin 
each other, are almost bare, and of a red and 
sombre hue ; on their desert side you see here 
and there some black and withered vineyards, 
some wild olives, some ploughed land, covered 
with hyssop, and a few ruined chapels. At 
the bottom of the valley, you perceive a tor- 
rent, traversed by a single arch, which appears 
of great antiquity. The stones of the Jewish 
cemetery appear like a mass of ruins at the 
foot of the mountain of Scandal, under the 
village of Siloam. You can hardly distin- 
guish the buildings of the village from the 
ruins with which they are surrounded. Three 
ancient monuments are particularly conspicu- 
ous : those of Zachariah, Josaphat, and Ab- 
salom. The sadness of Jerusalem, from which 
no smoke ascends, and in which no sound is 
to be heard ; the solitude of the surrounding 
mountains, where not a living creature is to 
be seen; the disorder of those tombs, ruined, 
ransacked, and half-exposed to view, would 
almost induce one to believe that the last 
trump had been heard, and that the dead were 
about to rise in the Valley of Jehoshaphat." — 
II. 34, 35. 

Chateaubriand, after visiting with the devo- 
tion of a pilgrim the Holy Sepulchre, and all 
the scenes of our Saviour's sufferings, spent a 
day in examining the scenes of the Crusaders' 
triumphs, and comparing the descriptions in 
Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered with the places 
where the events which they recorded actually 
occurred. He found them in general so ex- 
tremely exact, that it was difficult to avoid the 
conviction that the poet had been on the spot. 
He even fancied he discovered the scene of 
the Flight of Erminia, and the inimitable com- 
bat and death of Clorinda. 

From the Holy Land, he sailed to Egypt; 
and we have the following graphic picture of 
the approach to that cradle of art and civili- 
zation. 

" On the 20th October, at five in the morn- 
ing, I perceived on the green and ruffled sur- 
face of the water a line of foam, and beyond it 
a pale and still ocean. The captain clapped 
me on the shoulder, and said in French, 'Nilo;' 
and soon we entered and glided through those 
celebrated waters. A few palm-trees and a 
minaret announce the situation of Rosetta, but 
the town itself is invisible. These shores re- 
semble those of the coast of Florida ; they are 
totally different from those of Italy or Greece, 
every thing recalls the tropical regions. 

"At ten o'clock we at length discovered, 
beneath the palm-trees, a line of sand which 
extended westward to the promontory of 
Aboukir, before which we were obliged to 
pass before arriving opposite to Alexandria. 
At five in the evening, the shore suddenly 
changed its aspect. The palm-trees seemed 
planted in lines along the shore, like the elms 
along the roads in France. Nature appears to 
take a pleasure in thus recalling the ideas of 
C 



26 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



civilization in a country where that civiliza- 
tion first arose, ami barbarity has nowresuin sd 
ils sway. It was eleven o'clock when we 
anchor before the city, and as it was some 
time before Ave could get ashore, I had full 
leisure to follow out the contemplation which 
the scene awakened. 

,C I saw on my right several vessels, ami the 
castle, which stands on the site of the Tower 
of Pharos. On my left, the horizon seemed 
shut in by sand-hills, ruins, and obelisks; im- 
mediately in front, extended a long wall, with 
a lew houses appearing above it ; not a light 
was to be seen on shore, and not a sound came 
from the city. This, nevertheless, was Alex- 
andria, the rival of Memphis and Thebes, 
which once contained three millions of inhabit- 
ants, which was the sanctuary of the Muses, 
and the abode of science amidst a benighted 
world. Here were heard the orgies of Antony 
and Cleopatra, and here was Cresar received 
with more than regal splendour by the Queen 
of the East. But in vain I listened. A fatal 
talisman had plunged the people into a hope- 
less calm : that talisman is the despotism 
which extinguishes every joy, which stifles 
even the cry of suffering. And what sound 
could arise in a city of which at least a third 
is abandoned ; another third of which is sur- 
rounded only by the tombs of its former in- 
habitants; and of which the third, which still 
survives between those dead extremities, is a 
species of breathing trunk, destitute of the 
force even to shake off its chains in the middle 
between ruins and the tomb?" — II. 163. 

It is to be regretted that Chateaubriand did 
not visit Upper Egypt. His ardent and learned 
mind would have found ample room for elo- 
quent declamation, amidst the gigantic ruins 
of Luxor, and the Sphynx avenues of Thebes. 
The inundation of the Nile, however, pre- 
vented him from seeing even the Pyramids 
nearer than Grand Cairo ; and when on the 
verge of that interesting region, he was com- 
pelled unwillingly to retrace his steps to the 
French shores. After a tempestuous voyage, 
along the coast of Lybia, he cast anchor off 



describes 
venerable 



the ruins of Carthage; and thus 
his feelings on surveying those 
remains : 

" From the summit of Byrsa, the eye em- 
braces the ruins of Carthage, which are more 
considerable than are generally imagined; 
they resemble those of Sparta, having nothing 
well preserved, but embracing a considerable 
space. I saw them in the middle of February: 
the olives, the fig-trees, were already bursting 
into leaf: large bushes of angelica and acan- 
thus formed tufts of verdure, amidst the re- 
mains of marble of every colour. In the dis- 
tance, I cast my eyes over the Isthmus, the 
double sea, the distant isles, a cerulean sea, a 
smiling plain, and azure mountains. I saw 
forests, and vessels, and aqueducts ; moorish 
villages, and Mahometan hermitages ; glitter- 
ing minarets, and the white buildings of Tunis. 
Surrounded with the most touching recollec- 
tions, I thought alternately of Dido, Sophonis- 
ba, and the noble wife of Asdrubal ; I contem- 
plated the vast plains where the legions of 
Annibal, Scipio, and Coesar were buried: My 



eyes sought for the site of Utica. Alas ! The 
remains of the palace of Tiberius still remain 
in the island of Capri, and you search in vain 
at Utica for the house of Cato. Finally, the 
terrible Vandals, the rapid Moors, passed be- 
fore my recollection, which terminated at last 
on Haint Louis, expiring on that inhospitable 
shore. May the story of the death of that 
prince terminate this itinerary; fortunate to 
re-enter, as it were, into my country by the 
ancient monument of his virtues, and to close 
at the sepulchre of that Iftng of holy memory 
my long pilgrimage to the tombs of illustrious 
men."— II. 257, 258. 

"As long as his strength permitted, the 
dying monarch gave instructions to his son 
Philip; and when his voice failed him, he 
wrote with a faltering hand these precepts, 
which no Frenchman, worthy of the name, 
will ever be able to read without emotion. 
' My son, the first thing which I enjoin you is 
to love God with all your heart ; for without 
that no man can be saved. Beware of vio- 
lating his laws ; rather endure the worst tor- 
ments, than sin against his commandments. 
Should he send you adversity, receive it with 
humility, and bless the hand which chastens 
you ; and believe that you have well deserved 
it, and that it will turn to 3 r our weal. Should 
he try you with prosperity, thank him with 
humility of heart, and be not elated by his 
goodness. Do justice to ever} r one, as well 
the poor as the rich. Be liberal, free, and 
courteous to your servants, and cause them to 
love as well as fear you. Should any contro- 
versy or tumult arise, sift it to the bottom, 
whether the result be favourable or unfavour- 
able to your interests. Take care, in. an espe- 
cial manner, that your subjects live in peace 
and tranquillity under your reign. Respect 
and preserve their privileges, such as they 
have received them from their ancestors, and 
preserve them with care and love. — And now, 
I give you every blessing which a father can 
bestow on his child; praying the Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit, that they may defend you from 
all adversities ; and that we may again, after 
this mortal life is ended, be united before God, 
and adore his Majesty for ever !' " — II. 264. 

"The style of Chateaubriand," says Napo- 
leon, " is not that of Racine, it is that of a 
prophet; he has received from nature the 
sacred flame ; it breathes in all his works."* 
It is of no common man — being a political oppo- 
nent — that Napoleon would have said these 
words. Chateaubriand had done nothing to 
gain favour with the French Emperor ; on the 
contrary, he irritated him by throwing up his 
employment and leaving his country upon the 
assassination of the Duke d'Enghien. In truth, 
nothing is more remarkable amidst the selfish- 
ness of political apostasy in France, than the 
uniform consistence and disinterestedness of 
this great man's opinions. His principles, 
indeed, were not all the same at fifty as at 
twenty-five ; we should be glad to know whose 
are, excepting those who are so obtuse as to 
derive no light from the extension of know- 
ledge and the acquisitions of experience 1 



* Memoirs of Napoleon, iv. 342. 



NAPOLEON. 



27 



Change is so far from being despicable, that 
it is highly honourable in itself, and when it 
proceeds from the natural modification of the 
mind, from the progress of years, or the lessons 
of more extended experience. It becomes 
contemptible only when it arises on the sug- 
gestions of interest, or the desires of ambition. 
Now, Chateaubriand's changes of opinion have 
all been in opposition to his interest ; and he 
has suffered at different periods of his life from 
his resistance to the mandates of authority, and 
his rejection of the calls of ambition. In early 
life, he was exiled from France, and shared in 
all the hardships of the emigrants, from his 
attachment to Royalist principles. At the 
earnest request of Napoleon, he accepted of- 
fice under the Imperial Government, but he 
relinquished it, and again became an exile 
upon the murder of the Duke d'Enghien. The 
influence of his writings was so powerful in 
favour of the Bourbons, at the period of the 
Restoration, that Louis XVIII. truly said, they 
were worth more than an army. He followed 
the dethroned Monarch to Ghent, and con- 
tributed much, by his powerful genius, to con- 
solidate the feeble elements of his power, after 
the fall of Napoleon. Called to the helm of 
affairs in 1824, he laboured to accommodate 
the temper of the monarchy to the increasing 
spirit of freedom in the country, and fell into 
disgrace with the Court, and was distrusted by 
the Royal Family, because he strove to intro- 
duce those popular modifications into the ad- 
ministration of affairs, which might have pre- 
vented the revolution of July ; and finally, he 
has resisted all the efforts of the Citizen-King 
to engage his great talents in defence of the 
throne of the Barricades. True to his princi- 
ples, he has exiled himself from France, to 
preserve his independence; and consecrated 
in a foreign land his illustrious name, to the 
defence of the child of misfortune. 

Chateaubriand is not only an eloquent and 
beautiful writer, he is also a profound scholar, 
and an enlightened thinker. His knowledge 
of history and classical literature is equalled 
only by his intimate acquaintance with the 
early annals of the church, and the fathers of 
the Catholic faith ; while in his speeches deli- 
vered in the Chamber of Peers since the 
restoration, will be found not only the most 



eloquent but the most complete and satisfac- 
tory dissertations on the political state of 
France during that period, which is anywhere 
to be met with. It is a singular circumstance, 
that an author of such great and varied ac- 
quirements, who is universally allowed by all 
parties in France to be their greatest living 
writer, should be hardly known except by 
name to the great body of readers in this 
country. 

His greatest work, that on which his fame 
will rest with posterity, is the "Genius of 
Christianity," from which such ample quota- 
tions have already been given. The next is 
the " Martyrs," a romance, in which he has 
introduced an exemplification of the principles 
of Christianity, in the early sufferings of the 
primitive church, and enriched the narrative 
by the splendid description of the scenery in 
Egypt, Greece, and Palestine, which he had 
visited during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and 
all the stores of learning which a life spent in 
classical and ecclesiastical lore could accumu- 
late. The last of his considerable publications 
is the " Etudes Historiques," a work eminently 
characteristic of that superiority in historical 
composition, which we have allowed to the 
French modern writers over their contempo- 
raries in this country; and which, we fear, 
another generation, instructed when too late 
by the blood and the tears of a Revolution, 
will be alone able fully to appreciate. Its ob- 
ject is to trace the influence of Christianity 
from its first spread in the Roman empire to 
the rise of civilization in the Western world; 
a field in which he goes over the ground trod 
by Gibbon, and demonstrates the unbounded 
benefits derived from religion in all the institu- 
tions of modern times. In this noble under- 
taking he has been aided, with a still more 
philosophical mind, though inferior fire and 
eloquence, by Guizot; a writer, who, equally 
with his illustrous rival, is as yet unknown, 
save by report, in this country ; but from 
whose joint labours is to be dated the spring 
of a pure and philosophical system of religious 
inquiry in France, and the commencement of 
that revival of manly devotion, in which the 
antidote, and the only antidote, to the fanati- 
cism of infidelity is to be found. 



NArOLEOK 



The age of Napoleon is one, of the delinea- 
tion of which history and biography will never 
be weary. Such is the variety of incidents 
which it exhibits — the splendid and heart-stir- 
ring events which it records — the immortal 
characters which it portrays — and the import- 
ant consequences which have followed from 
it, that the interest felt in its delineation, so 



* Memoires de la Duchesse D' Abranfcs, 2 vols. Colfourn. 
London. The translations are executed by ourselves, as 
we have not seen the English version. 



far from diminishing, seems rather to increase 
with the lapse of time, and will continue 
through all succeeding ages, like the eras of 
Themistocles, Caesar, and the Crusades, to 
form the noblest and most favourite subjects 
of historical description. 

Numerous as have been the Memoirs which 
have issued from the French press during the 
last fifteen years, in relation to this eventful 
era, the public passion for information on it is 
still undiminished. Every new set of memoirs 
which is ushered into the world with an histo.- 



28 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



rical name, or any pretensions to authenticity, 
is eagerly read by all classes on the continent. 
English translations generally appear in due 
time, but they are, in general, so extremely ill 
executed, as to give no conception whatever 
of the spirit of the original ; and as there is 
not one reader out of a hundred who can 
read French with such facility as to make it a 
matter of pleasure, the consequence is, that 
these delightful works are still but imperfectly 
known to the British public. Every person 
intimately acquainted with their composition, 
must have perceived in what an extremely 
unfavourable aspect they appear in our ordi- 
nary translations ; and in the utter ignorance 
of the principles of revolution which pervades 
the great bulk of the best informed classes in 
this country, compared to what obtains on the 
other side of the Channel, is to be found the 
best evidence, that the great historical works 
which have recently appeared on the events 
of the last forty years in France, have had no 
share whatever in the formation of public 
opinion in this country. 

The Duchess of Abrantes undertakes the 
work of Memoirs of her own Times with sin- 
gular and almost peculiar advantages. Her 
mother, Madame Permon, a Corsican lady of 
high rank, was extremely intimate with the 
family of Napoleon. She rocked the future 
emperor on her knee from the day of his birth, 
and the intimacy of the families continued till 
he was removed to the command of the army 
of Italy, in April, 1796. The authoress herself, 
though then a child, recounts with admirable 
esprit, and all the air of truth, a number of 
early anecdotes of Napoleon ; and after his 
return from Egypt she was married to Junot, 
then Governor of Paris, and subsequently ad- 
mitted as an habitual guest in the court circle 
of the First Consul. In her Memoirs, we have 
thus a picture of the private and domestic life 
of Napoleon from his cradle to his grave ; we 
trace him through all the gradations of the 
Ecole Militaire, the artillery service, the cam- 
paigns of Italy, the return from Egypt, the 
Consulate, and the Empire, and live with those 
who have filled the world with their renown, 
as we would do with our most intimate ac- 
quaintances and friends. 

It has always struck us as a singular proof 
of the practical sagacity and just discrimina- 
tion of character in Sir Walter Scott, that 
though his Life of Napoleon was published 
before the Memoirs of Bourienne, the view 
which he gives of Napoleon's character is 
substantially the same as that drawn by his 
confidential secretary, his school companion, 
and the depositary of his inmost thoughts. 
This is very remarkable. The French are 
never weary of declaiming on the inaccuracies 
of the Scottish biographer, and declare that he 
wrote history in romance, and romance in 
history ; but they have never been able to 
point out any serious or important error in 
his narrative. The true reproach against Sir 
Walter's work is of a different kind, and con- 
sists in this, not that he has incorrectly stated 
facts, but unjustly coloured opinions ; that he 
has not done justice to any of the parties 
whose conflicts desolated France during the 



revolution, and has written rather in the spirit 
of an English observer, than one participant 
in the feelings of the actors in those mighty 
events. There is but one way in which this 
defect can be avoided by a native of this 
country, and that is, by devoting himself for a 
long course of years to the study of the me- 
moirs and historians of the Revolution, and by 
acquiring, by incessant converse with the 
writings, somewhat of the spirit which ani- 
mates the people of the continent. The object 
to be attained by this, is not to imbibe their 
prejudices, or become infatuated by their 
errors, but to know and appreciate their ideas, 
and do that justice to passions directed against 
this countr)-, which we willingly award to those 
excited in its favour. 

The character of Napoleon has been drawn 
by his contemporaries with more graphic 
power than any other conqueror in history; 
and yet so varied and singular is the combina- 
tion of qualities which it exhibits, and so much 
at variance with what we usually observe in 
human nature around us, that there is no man 
can say he has a clear perception of what it 
actually was : — Brave, without being chival- 
rous ; sometimes humane, seldom generous ; 
insatiable in ambition ; inexhaustible in re- 
sources ; without a thirst for blood, but totally 
indifferent to it when his interests were con- 
cerned ; without any fixed ideas on religion, 
but a strong perception of its necessity as a 
part of the mechanism of government ; a great 
general with a small army, a mighty conqueror 
with a large one ; gifted with extraordinary 
powers of perception, and the clearest insight 
into every subject connected with mankind ; 
without extensive information derived from 
study ; but the rarest aptitude for making him- 
self master of every subject from actual ob- 
servation ; ardently devoted to glory, and yet 
incapable of the self-sacrifice which consti- 
tutes its highest honours; he exhibited a mix- 
ture of great and selfish qualities, such as 
perhaps never were before combined in any 
single individual. His greatest defect was the 
constant and systematic disregard of truth 
which pervaded all his thoughts. He was 
totally without the droiture, or honesty, which 
forms the best and most dignified feature in 
the Gothic or German character. The maxim, 
Magna est Veritas ct pmvalcbit, never seems to 
have crossed his mind. His intellect was the 
perfection of <hat of the Celt or Greek ; with- 
out a shadow of the magnanimity and honesty 
which has ever characterized the Roman and 
Gothic races of mankind. Devoted as he was 
to the captivating idol of posthumous fame ; 
deeming, as he did, that to live in the recollec- 
tion and admiration of future ages " constituted 
the true immortality of the soul," he never 
seems to have been aware that truth is essen- 
tial to the purest and most lasting celebrity; 
and that the veil which artifice or flattery 
draws over falsehood during the prevalence 
of power, will be borne away with a merciless 
hand on its termination. 

In the Memoirs of Napoleon and of the 
Archduke Charles, the opposite character of 
their minds, and of the races to which they 
belonged, is singularly portrayed. Those of 



NAPOLEON. 



29 



the latter are written with a probity, an integ- 
rity, and an impartiality above all praise ; he 
censures himself for his faults with a severity 
unknown to Caesar or Frederick, and touches 
with a light hand on those glorious successes 
which justly gained for him the title of Saviour 
of Germany. Cautious, judicious, and reason- 
able, his arguments convince the understand- 
ing, but neither kindle the imagination nor 
inspire the fancy. In the Memoirs of Napo- 
leon, on the other hand, dictated to Montholon 
and Gourgaud, there are to be seen in every 
page symptoms of the clearest and most for- 
cible intellect ; a coup (Vcc.il over every subject 
of matchless vigour and reach; an ardent and 
vehement imagination; passions which have 
ripened under a southern sun, and conceptions 
which have shared in the luxuriant growth of 
tropical climates. Yet amidst all these varied 
excellencies, we often regret the simple bon- 
homie of the German narrative. We admire 
the clearness of the division, the lucid view of 
every subject, the graphic power of the pic- 
tures, and the forcible perspicuity of the lan- 
guage ; but we have a total want of confidence 
in the veracity of the narrative. In every page 
we discover something suppressed or coloured, 
to magnify the importance of the writer in the 
estimation of those who study his work; and 
while we incessantly recur to it for striking 
political views, or consummate military criti- 
cism, we must consult works of far inferior 
celebrity for the smallest details in which his 
fame was personally concerned. We may 
trust him in speculations on the future destiny 
of nations, the march of revolutions, or the 
cause of military success ; but we cannot rely 
on the numbers stated to have been engaged, 
or the killed and wounded in a single engage- 
ment. 

The character of Napoleon has mainly rest- 
ed, since the publication of his work, on Bou- 
rienne's Memoirs. The peculiar opportunities 
which he had of becoming acquainted with the 
inmost thoughts of the First Consul, and the 
ability and graphic powers of his narrative, 
have justly secured for it an immense reputa- 
tion. It is probable that the private character 
and hidden motives of Napoleon will mainly 
rest with posterity on that celebrated work. 
Every day brings out something to support its 
veracity; and the concurring testimony of the 
most intelligent of the contemporary writers 
tends to show, that his narrative is, upon the 
whole, the most faithful that has yet been pub- 
lished. Still it is obvious that there is a secret 
rankling at the bottom of Bourienne's heart 
against his old! schoolfellow. He could hardly 
be expected to forgive the extraordinary rise 
and matchless celebrity of one who had so long 
been his equal. He evinces the highest admi- 
ration for the Emperor, and, upon the whole, 
has probably done him justice ; yet, upon par- 
ticular points, a secret spleen is apparent; and 
though there seems no ground for discrediting 
most of his facts, yet we must not in every in- 
stance adopt implicitly the colouring in which 
he has painted them. It is quite plain that 
Bourienne was involved in some money trans- 
actions, in which Napoleon conceived that he 
made an improper use of the state secrets 



which came to his knowledge, in his official 
situation of private secretary; and that to this 
cause his exile into honourable and lucrative 
banishment, at Hamburgh is to be ascribed. 
Whether this banishment was justly or un- 
justly inflicted, is immaterial in considering 
the credit due to the narrative. If he was hard- 
ly dealt with, while our opinion of his indivi- 
dual integrity must rise, the weight of the 
feelings of exasperation with which he was 
animated must receive a proportional augmen- 
tation. 

The Memoirs of the Duchess of Abrantes 
are well qualified to correct the bias, and sup- 
ply the deficiencies of those of his private se- 
cretary. As a woman, she had no personal 
rivalry with Napoleon, and could not feel her- 
self mortified by his transcendant success. As 
the wife of one of his favourite and most pros- 
perous generals, she had no secret reasons of 
animosity against the author of her husband's 
elevation. Her intimate acquaintance also 
with Napoleon, from his very infancy, and be- 
fore flattery or power had aggravated the faults 
of his character, renders her peculiarly well 
qualified to portray its original tendency. Many 
new lights, accordingly, have been thrown 
upon the eventful period of his reign, as well 
as his real character, by her Memoirs. His 
disposition appears in a more amiable light — 
his motives are of a higher kind, than from 
preceding accounts ; and we rise from the pe- 
rusal of her fascinating volumes with the im- 
pression, which the more extensively we study 
human nature we shall find to be the more 
correct, that men are generally more amiable 
at bottom than we should be inclined to ima- 
gine from their public conduct ; that their faults 
are fully as much the result of the circum- 
stances in which they are placed, as of any 
inherent depravity of disposition; and that 
dealing gently with those who are carried along 
on the stream of revolution, we should reserve 
the weight of our indignation for those who 
put the perilous torrent in motion. 

But leaving these general speculations, it is 
time to lay before our readers a few extracts 
from these volumes themselves, and to com- 
municate some portion o'f the pleasure which 
Ave have derived from their perusal. In doing 
so we shall adopt our usual plan of translating 
the passages ourselves ; for it is impossible 
to convey the least idea of the original in the 
circumlocutions of the ordinary London ver- 
sions. 

Of the early youth of Napoleon at the Ecole 
Militaire of Paris, with the management of 
which he was in the highest degree dissatisfied, 
we have the following interesting account: — 

" When we got into the carriage, Napoleon,, 
who had contained himself before his sister, 
broke out into the most violent invectives 
against the administration of such places as the 
Maison St. Cyr, for young ladies, and the Ecole 
Militaire for cadets. My uncle, who was ex- 
tremely quick in his temper, at last got out of 
all patience at the tone of cutting bitterness 
which appeared in his language, and told him 
so without reserve. Napoleon was then silent, 
for enough of good breeding still remained to 
make youth respect the voice of those advanced 
c2 



30 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



in years. But his heart was so full as to be 
almost bursting. Shortly after he led back the 
conversation to the subject, and at last his ex- 
pressions became so offensive that my father 
said to him rudely, ' 13e silent; it ill becomes 
} r ou, who are educated at the expense of the 
King:, to speak in that manner.' 

" My mother has often since told me, she 
was afraid Napoleon would be suffocated at 
these words. In an instant he became pale 
and inarticulate. When he recovered his voice, 
he exclaimed in a voice trembling with emo- 
tion, 'I am not an eleve of the King, but of the 
State.' 

"'A fine distinction, truly,' replied my un- 
cle. ' Whether you are an eleve of the King, 
or of the State, is of no consequence; besides, 
is not the King the State? I desire that you 
will not speak in such terms of your benefactor 
in my presence.' 

'"I will do nothing to displease you, M. 
Comnene,' replied the young man. ' Permit me 
only to add, that if I was the master, and had the 
power to alter these regulations, they should 
be very different, and for the good of the whole.' 

" I have recounted that scene only to remark 
these words — ' If I was the master.' He has 
since become so, and all the world knows what 
he has done for the administration of the Ecole 
Militaire. I am convinced that he long enter- 
tained a painful sense of the humiliation he 
underwent at that establishment. At our ar- 
rival in Paris, he had been a year there, and 
that whole period was one of contradiction and 
disgust. He was not loved by his companions. 
Many persons who were acquainted with my 
father, declared to him that Napoleon's charac- 
ter was such as could not be rendered sociable. 
He was discontented with every thing, and ex- 
pressed his censure aloud in such decided 
terms, as made him pass with these old wor- 
thies for a ) r oung firebrand. The result of this 
conduct was, that his removal into a regiment 
was unanimously demanded by every one at 
the school, and thus it advanced the period of 
his promotion. He obtained a sub-lieutenancy, 
which was stationed at Grenoble. Before his 
departure, he came to live some time with us : 
my sister was at a convent, but she came fre- 
quently home during the period of her vacation. 
I recollect that the day when he first put on his 
uniform, he was as joyous as young men gene- 
rally are on such an occasion : but his boots 
gave a singularly ridiculous appearance to his 
figure: they were of such enormous dimensions, 
that his little thin legs quite disappeared with- 
in them. Everybody knows that nothing has 
so quick an eye for the ridiculous as childhood, 
so the moment that my sister and I saw him 
come into the room with these enormous boots, 
we burst out into immoderate fits of laughter. 
Then, as subsequently, he could not endure 
pleasantry, when he was its object: my sister, 
who was considerably older than I, answered, 
that as he had girded on his sword, he should 
consider himself as the Chevalier of Dames, 
and be highly Haltered by their joking with 
liim 

'"It is easy to see,' said Napoleon with a 
haughty air, ' that you are a little miss just let 
loose from school.' 



"My sister was then thirteen years old: it 
may easily be imagined how such an expres- 
sion hurt her. She was of a very gentle dis- 
position, — but neither she nor any other wo- 
man, whatever her age or disposition may be, 
can bear a direct insult to her vanity — that of 
Cecile was keenly offended at the expression 
of little miss escaped from school. 

"'And you,' said she, ' are nothing but a 
Puss rw Boots.' 

" Everyone burst out a laughing; the stroke 
had told most effectually. I cannot describe 
the wrath of Napoleon ; he answered nothing, 
and it was as well he did not. My mother 
thought the epithet so well applied, that she 
laughed with all her heart. Napoleon, though 
little accustomed at that time to the usage of 
the world, had a mind too fine, too strong an 
instinctive perception, not to see that it was 
necessary to be silent when his adversary was 
a woman, and personalities were dealt in: 
whatever her age was, she was entitled to re- 
spect. At least, such was then the code of po- 
liteness in those who dined at table. Now that 
. utility and personal interest alone are the order 
of the day, the consumption of time in such 
pieces of politeness is complained of: and 
every one grudges the sacrifices necessary to 
carry into the world his little contingent of so- 
ciability. 

" Bonaparte, though grievously piqued at 
the unfortunate epithet applied to him by my 
sister, affected to disregard it, and began to 
laugh like the rest; and to prove that he bore 
her no ill will on that account, he bought a 
little present, on which was engraved a Puss 
in Boots, running before the carriage of the 
Marquis of Carabus. This present cost him a 
good deal, which assorted ill with the strait- 
ened state of his finances. He added a beau- 
tiful edition of 'Puss in Boots,' for my sister, 
telling her that it was a Souvenir which he beg- 
ged her to keep for his sake. 

" ' The story-book,' said my mother, ' is too 
much : if there had only been the engraving, 
it was all well; but the book for Cecile, shows 
you were piqued against her.' 

" He gave his word to the contrary. But I 
still think with my mother, that he was piqued, 
and bitterly so: the whole story was of no small 
service to me at a future time, as will appear 
in the sequel to these memoirs." — I. 52, 53. 

Several interesting anecdotes are preserved 
of the Reign of Terror, singularly characteris- 
tic of the horrors of that eventful period. The 
following picture is evidently drawn from the 
life :— 

" On the following day, my brother Albert 
was obliged to remain a considerable time at 
home, to put in order the papers which my 
father had directed to be burnt. He went out 
at three o'clock to see us: he found on the road 
groups of men in a state of horrible and bloody 
drunkenness. Many were naked down to the 
waist ; their arms, their breasts bathed in blood. 
At the end of their pikes, they bore fragments 
of clothes and bloody remnants : their looks 
were haggard; their eyes inflamed. As he ad- 
vanced, these groups became more frequent 
and hideous. My brother, mortally alarmed 
as to our fate, and determined at all hazards 



NAPOLEON. 



31 



to rejoin us, pushed on his horse along the 
Boulevard where he then was, and arrived in 
front of the Palace Beaumarchais. There he 
was arrested by an immense crowd, composed 
of the same naked and bloody men, but with 
an expression of countenance altogether infer- 
nal. They set up hideous cries : they sung, 
they danced ; the Saturnalia of Hell were be- 
fore him. No sooner did they see the cabriolet 
of Albert, than they raised still louder yells : 
an aristocrat ! an aristocrat ! and in a moment 
the cabriolet was surrounded by a raging mul- 
titude, in the midst of which an object was 
elevated and presented to his view. Troubled 
as the sight of my brother was, he could dis- 
tinguish long white hair, clotted with blood, 
and a face beautiful even in death. The figure 
is brought nearer, and its lips placed on his. 
The unhappy wretch set up a frightful cry. 
He knew the head : it was that of the Princess 
Lambalie. 

"The coachman whipped the horse with all 
his strength ; and the generous animal, with 
that aversion for blood which characterizes its 
race, rushed from that spectacle of horror with 
redoubled speed. The frightful trophy was 
overturned, with the cannibals who bore it, by 
the wheels of the carriage, and a thousand 
imprecations followed my brother, who lay 
stretched out insensible in the bottom of the 
cabriolet. 

" Serious consequences resulted to my bro- 
ther from that scene of horror. He was car- 
ried to a physician, where he was soon taken 
seriously ill of a burning fever. In his delirium, 
the frightful figure was ever present to his ima- 
gination. He never ceased, for days together, 
to see that livid head and those fair tresses 
bathed in blood. For years after, he could not 
recall the recollection of that horrible event 
without falling into a swoon, nor think of those 
days of wo without the most vivid emotion. 

" A singular circumstance concluded this 
tale of horror. My brother, in 1802, when 
Commissary General of Police at Marseilles, 
received secret instructions to watch, with 
peculiar care, over a man named Raymonet, 
but whose real name was different. He lived 
in a small cottage on the banks of the sea; ap- 
peared in comfortable circumstances, but had 
no relation nor friend ; he lived alone in his 
solitary cabin, and received every morning his 
provisions from an old woman, who brought 
them to his gate. The secret instructions of 
the police revealed the fact, that this person 
had been one of the principal assassins at the 
Abbaye and La Force, in September, 1792, and 
was in an especial manner noted as the most 
cruel of the assassins of the Princess Lam- 
balie. 

" One morning my brother received intelli- 
gence that this man was at the point of death; 
and, gracious God! what a death! For three 
days he had endured all the torments of hell. 
The accident which had befallen him was per- 
fectly natural in its origin, but it had made him 
suffer the most excruciating pains. He was 
alone in his habitation; he was obliged to drag 
himself to the nearest surgeon to obtain assist- 
ance, but it was too late: an operation was im- 
possible, and would not even have assuaged 



the pains of the dying wretch. He refused 
alike religious succour and words of consola- 
tion. His deathbed was a chair of torture in- 
comparably more agonizing than the martyr- 
dom of a Christian. He died with blasphemies 
in his mouth, like, the Reprobate in Dante's 
Inferno."— I. 95. 

The French, who have gone through the 
Revolution, frequently complain that there are 
no descriptions given in any historical works 
which convey the least idea of the Reign of 
Terror; so infinitely did the reality of that 
dreadful period exceed all that description can 
convey of the terrible. There might, however, 
we are persuaded, be extracted from the con- 
temporary Memoirs (for in no other quartei 
can the materials be found) a picture of that 
memorable era, which would exceed all that 
Shakspeare or Dante had figured of human 
atrocity, and take its place beside the plague 
in Thucydides, and the Annals of Tacitus, as a 
lasting Deacon to the human race, of the un- 
heard of horrors following in the train of de- 
mocratic ascendancy. 

One of the most curious parts of the Duch- 
ess's work is that which relates to the arrest 
of Napoleon after the fall of Robespierre, in 
consequence of the suspicions that attached to 
him, from his mission to Genoa with the bro- 
ther of that tyrant. It appears, that whatever 
he may have become afterwards, Napoleon was 
at that period an ardent republican: not pro- 
bably because the principles of democracy 
were suited to his inclinations, but because he 
found in the favour of that faction, then the 
ruling power in France, the only means of gra- 
tifying his ambition. Salicetti, one of the de- 
puties from Corsica, occasioned his arrest after 
the fall of Robespierre, and he was actually a 
few days in custody. Subsequently, Salicetti 
himself was denounced by the Convention, and 
concealed in the house of Madame Permon, 
mother to the Duchess of Abrantes. The whole 
details which follow this event are highly inte- 
resting; and as they afford one of the few really 
generous traits of Napoleon's character, we 
willingly give them a place. 

" The retreat of Salicetti in our house was 
admirably contrived. His little cabinet was 
so stuffed with cushions and tapestry, that the 
smallest sound could not be heard. No one 
could have imagined where he was concealed. 

" On the following morning at eleven o'clock, 
Napoleon arrived. He was dressed in his usual 
costume ; a gray great-coat buttoned up to the 
throat, — a black neckcloth, — round hat, which 
came down over the eyes. To say the truth, 
at that period no one was elegantly dressed, 
and the personal appearance of Napoleon did 
not appear so singular as it now does, upon 
looking back to the period. He had in his 
hand a bouquet of violets, which he presented 
to my mother. That piece of gallantry was so 
unusual in him, that we immediately began to 
laugh. " It appears,' said he, ' I am not au fait 
at my new duties of Cavaliere Servente.' 
Then changing the subject, he added, ' Well, 
Madame Permon, Salicetti has, in his turn, 
reaped the bitter fruits of arrest. They must 
be the more difficult to swallow, that he and 
his associates have planted the trees on which 



32 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



they grow.' 'What!' said my mother, with an 
air of surprise, and making a sign to me at the 
same time to shut the door, ' is Salicetti arrest- 
ed?' 'Do you not know,' replied Napoleon, 
' that his arrest was yesterday decreed at the 
Assembly? I thought you knew it so well. 
that he was concealed in your house.' ' In my 
house !' replied my mother, with a well-feigned 
air of surprise ; ' Napoleon, my dear child, you 
are mad ! In my house ! That implies that I 
have one, which unfortunately is not the case. 
My dear General, I beg you will not repeat 
such nonsense. What have I done to entitle 
you thus to sport with me as if I were deranged, 
for I can call it nothing else ?' 

" At these words Napoleon rose up ; he 
crossed his arms, advanced immediately op- 
posite to my mother, where he stood for some 
time without saying a word. My mother bore, 
without flinching, his piercing look, and did not 
so much as drop her eyelid under that eagle's 
eye. 'Madame Permon,' said he at length, 
1 Salicetti is concealed in your house : nay, do 
not interrupt me. I do not know it for certain, 
but I have no doubt of it, because yesterday at 
five o'clock he was seen on the Boulevard, 
coming in this direction, after he had received 
intelligence of the decree of the Assembly. He 
has no friend in this quarter who would risk life 
and liberty to save him but yourself; there can 
be no doubt, therefore, where he is concealed.' 

"This long harangue gave my mother time 
to regain her assurance. ' What title could 
Salicetti have to demand an asylum from me ? 
He knows that our sentiments are not the same. 
I was on the point of setting out, and had it 
not been for an accidental letter from my hus- 
band, I would have been now far advanced on 
my road to Gascony.' 

" ' What title had he to seek an asylum in 
your house?' replied Napoleon, 'that is the 
justest observation you have yet made, Madame 
Permon. To take refuge with a lonely woman, 
who might be compromised for a few hours of 
concealment to a proscribed culprit, is an act 
that no one else would be capable of. You are 
indeed his debtor ; are you not, Mademoiselle 
Loulou?' said he, turning to me, who had 
hitherto remained silent in the window. 

" I feigned to be engaged with flower-pots in 
a window, where there were several bushes of 
arbutus, and did not answer him. My mother, 
who understood my motive, said to me, ' Ge- 
neral Bonaparte speaks to you, my dear.' I 
then turned to him ; the remains of my trouble 
might show him what had passed in the mind 
of a girl of fifteen, who was compelled, in spite 
of herself, to do an unpolite thing. He took 
my hand, pressed it between his two, and, 
turning to my mother, exclaimed, ' I ask your 
pardon; I have been in the wrong; your 
daughter has given me a lesson.' ' You give 
Laurette more merit than she really has,' re- 
plied my mother. ' She has not given you a 
lesson, because she does not know wherefore 
she should do so; but I will do so immediately, 
if you persist in believing a thing which has 
no foundation, but might do me irreparable 
mischief if it were spread abroad.' 

" Bonaparte said, with a voice full of emo- 
tion 'Madame Permon, you are an uncom- 



monly generous woman, and that man is a 
wicked man. You could not have closed your 
door upon him, and he knew it ; and yet you 
expose yourself and that child for such a man. 
Formerly I hated him ; now I despise him. He 
has done me a great deal of harm ; yes, he has 
done me a great deal of harm, and you know 
it. He has had the malice to take advantage 
of his momentary ascendency to strive to sink 
me below the water. He has accused me of 
crimes; for what crime can be so great as to 
be a traitor to your country? Salicetti con- 
ducted himself in that affair of Loano, and my 
arrest, like a miserable wretch. Junot was 
going to have killed him, if I had not prevented 
him. That young man, full of fire and friend- 
ship for me, was anxious to have fought him 
in single combat ; he declared that if he would 
not fight, he would have thrown him over the 
window. Now he is proscribed; Salicetti, in 
his turn, can now appreciate the full extent 
of what it is to have one's destiny shattered, 
ruined by an accusation.' 

" ' Napoleon,' said my mother, stretching out 
her hand to him, ' Salicetti is not here. I swear 
he is not. And must I tell you all ?' 'Tell it; 
tell it,' said he, with extreme impatience. 
' Well, Salicetti was here yesterday at six 
o'clock, but he went out at half-past eight. I 
convinced him of the impossibility of his 
remaining concealed in furnished lodgings. 
He admitted it, and went away.' 

" While my mother spoke, the eyes of Na- 
poleon continued fixed upon her with an eager- 
ness of which it is impossible to convey an 
idea. Immediately after, he moved aside, and 
walked rapidly through the chamber. ' I was 
right, then, after all,' he exclaimed. 'He had 
then the cowardice to say to a generous woman, 
Give your life for me. But did he who thus 
contrived to interest you in his fate, tell you 
that he had just assassinated one of his col- 
leagues ? Did he wash his hands before he 
touched yours to implore mercy?' 

" ' Napoleon, Napoleon !' exclaimed my mo- 
ther in Italian, and with great emotion, ' this is 
too much. Be silent, or I must be gone. If 
they have murdered this man after he left me, 
at least it is no fault of mine.' Napoleon at 
this time was not less moved. He sought 
about everywhere like a hound after its prey. 
He constantly listened to hear him, but could 
make out nothing. My mother was in despair. 
Salicetti heard every thing. A single plank 
separated him from us ; and I, in my inexpe- 
rience, trembled lest he should issue from his 
retreat and betray us all. At length, after a 
fruitless search of two hours, he rose and went 
away. It was full time ; my mother was worn 
out with mortal disquietude. 'A thousand 
thanks,' said he, as he left the room; 'and 
above all, Madame Permon. forgive me. But 
if you had ever been injured as I have been 
by that man ! Adieu !' "—I. 147, 148. 

A few days after, Madame Permon set out 
for Gascony, with Salicetti, disguised as a foot- 
man, seated behind the carriage. Hardly had 
they arrived at the first post, when a man ar- 
rived on horseback, with a letter for Madame 
Permon. They were all in despair, conceiv- 
ing they were discovered, but upon opening it, 



NAPOLEON. 



33 



their apprehensions were dispelled ; it was 
from Bonaparte, who had received certain in- 
telligence from his servant that Salicetti, his 
mortal enemy, was in the carriage with her, 
and had been concealed in her house. He 
had learned it from his servant, who became 
acquainted with it from Madame Permon's 
maid, who, though faithful to misfortune, could 
not conceal the secret from love. It was in 
the following terms : — 

"I never wished to pass for a hypocrite. I 
would be so, if I did not declare that for more 
than twenty days I have known for certain that 
Salicetti was concealed in your house. Recol- 
lect my words on the 1st Prairial ; I was then 
almost sure of it, now I know it beyond a doubt. 
Salicetti, you see I could repay you the injury 
you have done me ; in doing so, I should only 
have requited the evil which you did to me, 
whilst you gratuitously injured one who had 
never offended you. Which is the nobler part 
at this moment — yours or mine 1 I have it in 
my power to revenge myself, but I will not do 
it. — Perhaps you will say that your benefac- 
tress serves as your shield, and I own that that 
consideration is powerful. But though you 
were alone, unarmed, and proscribed, your 
head would be safe from my hands. Go — seek 
in peace an asylum where you may become 
animated with nobler sentiments towards your 
country. My mouth is closed on your name, 
aad will never open more on that subject. 
Repent, and appreciate my motives. I deserve 
it, for they are noble and generous. — Madame 
Permon — My warmest wishes attend you and 
your daughter. You are two helpless beings, 
without defence. May Providence and the 
prayers of a friend be ever with you ! Be 
prudent, and do not stop in the great towns. 
Adieu ! receive my kindest regards. — N. Bo- 
naparte." — I. 160. 

We regard this letter and the previous 
transaction to which it refers, if it shall be 
deemed by those intimately acquainted with 
the parties as perfectly authentic, as by far the 
most important trait in the character of Na- 
poleon during his early life which has yet ap- 
peared. It demonstrates that at that period at 
least his heart was accessible to generous sen- 
timents, and that he was capable of perform- 
ing a noble action. Admitting that he was, in 
a great degree, swayed in this proceeding by his 
regard for Madame Permon, who appears to 
have been a woman of great attractions, and 
for whom, as we shall presently see, he con- 
ceived warmer feelings than those of mere 
friendship, still it is not an ordinary character, 
and still less not an ordinary Italian character, 
which, from such motives, would forego the 
fiendish luxury of revenge. This trait, there- 
fore, demonstrates that Napoleon's character 
originally was not destitute of generosity; and 
the more charitable, and probably the more 
just, inference is, that the selfishness and ego- 
tism by which he was afterwards so strongly 
characterized, arose from that uninterrupted 
and extraordinary flow of prosperity which 
befell him, and which experience everywhere 
proves is more fatal to generosity or interest 
in others than any thing else in the course of 
man here below. 



On the voyage along the charming banks 
of the Garonne from Bordeaux to Toulouse, 
our authoress gives the following just and in- 
teresting account : — 

" That mind must be really disquieted or in 
suffering, which does not derive the highest 
pleasure from the voyage by water from Bor- 
deaux to Toulouse. I have seen since the 
shores of the Arno, those of the Po, the Tagus, 
and the Brenta; I have seen the Arno in its 
thundering cascade, and in its placid waters ; 
all traverse fertile plains, and exhibit ravish- 
ing points of view: but none of them recall 
the magical illusion of the voyage from Bor- 
deaux to Toulouse. Marmande, Agen, Lan- 
gon, La Reole, — all those towns whose names 
are associated with our most interesting recol- 
lections, are there associated with natural 
scenery prodigal of beauty, and illuminated 
by a resplendent sun and a pure atmosphere. 
I can conceive nothing more beautiful than 
those enchanted banks from Reole to Agen. 
Groups of trees, Gothic towers, old castles, 
venerable steeples, which then, alas! no longer 
called the Catholics to prayer. Alas ! at that 
time, even the bells were absent, — they no 
longer called the faithful to the house of God. 
Every thing was sad and deserted around that 
antique porch. The grass was growing between 
the stones of the tombs in the nave; and the 
shepherd was afar off, preaching the word of 
God in distant lands, while his flock, deprived 
of the Bread of Life, beheld their infants 
springing up around them, without any more 
religious instruction than the savages of the 
desert."— I. 166. 

The fact here mentioned of the total want of 
religious instruction in the people of the 
country in France, is by far the most serious 
consequence which has followed the tempests 
of the Revolution. The thread of religious in- 
struction from parent to child, has, for the 
first time since the introduction of Christianity 
in the western world, been broken over nearly 
a whole nation. A whole generation has not 
only been born, but educated and bred up to 
manhood, without any other religious impres- 
sions than what they received from the tradi- 
tions of their parents. Lavalette has recorded, 
that during the campaigns of Napoleon in 
Italy, the soldiers never once entered a church, 
and looked upon the ceremonies of the Catho- 
lics in the same way as they would have done 
on the superstition of Hindostan or Mexico. 
So utterly ignorant were they of the elements 
even of religious knowledge, that when they 
crossed from Egypt into Syria, they knew not 
that they were near the places celebrated in 
Holy Writ; they drank without consciousness 
at the fountains of Moses, wound without 
emotion round the foot of Mount Sinai, and 
quartered at Bethlehem and on Mount Carmel, 
ignorant alike of the cradle of Christianity, or 
of the glorious efforts of their ancestors in 
those scenes to regain possession of the Holy 
Sepulchre. 

What the ultimate consequences of this 
universal and unparalleled break in religious 
instruction must be, it is not difficult to fore- 
tell. The restoration of the Christian worship 
by Napoleon, the efforts of the Bourbons during 



34 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



fifteen years to restore its sway, have proved 
in a great degree nugatory : Christianity, re- 
appearing in the garb of political power, has 
lost its original and destined hold of the peo- 
ple ; it is regarded by all the ardent and impe- 
tuous part of the nation, as a mere collection 
of antiquated prejudices or nursery tales, 
adopted by government for political purposes, 
and fitted only to enslave and fetter the human 
mind. The consequence has been, an univer- 
sal emancipation of the nation, in towns at 
least, from the fetters of religion, — a dissolu- 
tion of manners pervading the middling and 
lower orders to a degree unparalleled in mo- 
dern Europe, — and an universal inclination in 
the higher to adopt selfish maxims in life, and 
act upon the principles of individual interest 
and elevation. This is the great feature of 
modern society in France, — the distinguishing 
characteristic which is alike deplored by their 
writers, and observed by the strangers who 
visit their country. They are fast descending 
into the selfishness and egotism which, in 
ancient times, were the invariable forerunners 
of political decline. This character has be- 
come incapable of sustaining genuine freedom; 
from the fountains of selfishness its noble 
streams never yet flowed. The tempests of 
democracy will for a time agitate France, 
because the people will long strive to shake 
off the restraints of government and religion, 
in order that no fetters may be imposed on 
their passions ; when they have discovered, 
as they will soon do, that this leads only to 
universal suffering, they will sink down 
quietly and for ever under the shadow of des- 
potism. And this will be the consequence and 
the punishment of their abandonment of that 
which constitutes the sole basis of lasting or 
general freedom — the Christian religion and 
private virtue. 

One of the convulsions attended with the 
least suffering in the whole course of the Re- 
volution, was the 13th Vendemiare, 1795, 
when Napoleon, at the head of the troops of 
the Convention, 5000 strong, defeated 40,000 
of the National Guard of Paris, on the very 
ground at the Tuileries, which was rendered 
famous, thirty-five years after, by the over- 
throw of Charles X. and the dynasty of the 
Bourbons. The following description, how- 
ever, conveys a lively picture of what civil 
war is, even in its least horrible forms. 

" During some hours, we flattered ourselves 
that matters would be arranged between the 
National Guards and the Convention ; but 
suddenly at half-past four the cannon began 
to discharge. Hardly was the first report 
heard, when the reply began on all sides. The 
effect was immediate and terrible on my poor 
father; he uttered a piercing cry, and calling 
for succour, was soon seized with a violent 
delirium. In vain we gave him. the soothing 
draughts which had been prescribed by M. 
Duchesnois. All the terrific scenes of the Re- 
volution passed before his eyes, and every 
new discharge which was heard pierced him 
to the heart. What a day ! what a night! Our 
windows were broken to pieces; towards the 
evening the section retired, and they fought 
under our eyes ; but when they came to the 



church of St. Roch, and the theatre of the Re~ 
public, it seemed as if the house would fall to 
pieces. 

"My father was in agon)'; he cried, he 
wept. Never shall I forget the horrors of that 
terrible time. Our terrors rose to the highest 
pitch, when we heard that barricades were 
erected in the Rue de la Loi. Every hour of 
that dreadful night was to me like the hour of 
the damned, of which Father Bridagne speaks, 
Toujour s jamais. I loved my father with the 
sincerest affection, and I adored my mother. I 
saw the one dying with the discharges of can- 
non, which resounded in his ears, while the 
other, stretched at the foot of that bed of death, 
seemed ready to follow him. There are some 
recollections which are eternal ; never will the 
remembrance of that dreadful night, and of 
those two days, be effaced from my memory ; 
they are engraven on my mind with a burning 
iron."— I. p. 190. 

Salicetli fell ill in their house, from anxiety 
on account of the fate of Rome and his accom- 
plices, who were brought to trial for a con- 
spiracy to restore the Reign of Terror. The 
picture she gives of his state of mind when on 
the bed of sickness, is finely descriptive of the 
whirl of agony which infidelity and democracy 
produce. 

" We had soon a new torment to undergo ; 
Salicetti fell ill. Nothing can equal the hor- 
rors of his situation ; he was in a high fever, 
and delirious ; but what he said, what he saw, 
exceeds any thing that can be conceived. I 
have read many romances which portrayed a 
similar situation. Alas ! how their description 
falls short of the truth ! Never have I read 
any thing which approached it — Salicetti had 
no religion ; that added to the horrors of these 
dreadful scenes. He did not utter complaints ; 
blasphemies were eternally poured forth. The 
death of Rome and his friends produced the 
most terrible effect on his mind ; their tragic 
fate was incessantly present to his thoughts. 
One, in particular, seemed never to quit his 
bedside ; he spoke to him, he listened, he 
answered ; the dialogues between them, for he 
answered for his dead friend, were enough to 
turn our brains. Sometimes he fancied him- 
self in a chamber red with blood. But what 
caused me more terror than all the rest, was 
the low and modulated tone of his voice during 
his delirium; it would appear that terror had 
mastered all his other faculties, even the 
acutest sufferings. No words can convey an 
idea of the horror inspired by that pale and 
extenuated man, uttering, on a bed of death, 
blasphemies and anathemas in a voice modu- 
lated and subdued by terror. I am at a loss to 
convey the impression of what I felt, for, 
though so vividly engraven on my memory, I 
know not how to give it a name." — I. p. 156. 

It is well sometimes to follow the irreligious 
and the Jacobins to their latter end. How 
desperately do these men of blood then quail 
under the prospect of the calamities they have 
inflicted on others; how terribly does the evil 
they have committed return on their own 
heads; how infinitely does the scene drawn 
from the life, exceed all that the imagination, 
of Dante could conceive of the terrible ! 



NAPOLEON. 



It is well known what a dreadful famine 
prevailed in Paris for some time after the sup- 
pression of the revolt of the 13th Vendemiare. 
Our authoress supplies us with several anec- 
dotes, highly characteristic of the period, and 
which place Bonaparte's character in a very 
favourable light. 

" At that period famine prevailed in Paris, 
with more severity than anywhere else in 
France ; the people were literally suffering 
under want of bread ; the other necessaries of 
life were not less deficient. What an epoch ! 
Great God ! the misery was frightful — the 
depreciation of the assignats went on aug- 
menting with the public suffering — the poor, 
totally without work, died in their hovels, or 
issuing forth in desperation, joined the rob- 
bers, who infested all the roads in the 
country. 

"Bonaparte was then of great service to us. 
We had white bread for our own consump- 
tion; but our servants had only the black 
bread of the Sections, which was unwholesome 
and hardly eatable. Bonaparte sent us every 
day some rolls for breakfast, which he came 
to eat with us with the greatest satisfaction. 
At that period, I can affirm with confidence, 
since he associated me in his acts of benefi- 
cence, that Napoleon saved the lives of above 
a hundred families. He made domiciliary dis- 
tributions of bread and wood, which his situa- 
tion as military commander enabled him to do. 
I was intrusted with the division of these 
gifts among ten families, who were dying of 
famine. The greater part of them lodged in 
the Rue St. Nicholas, close to our house. That 
street was inhabited at that time by the poorest 
class. No one who has not ascended one of 
its crowded stairs, has an idea of what real 
misery is. 

" One day Bonaparte, coming to dine at 
my mother's, was stopped in alighting from 
his carriage by a woman, who bore the dead 
body of an infant in her arms. It was the 
youngest of six children. Misery and famine 
had dried up her milk. Her little child had 
just died — it was not yet cold. Seeing every 
day an officer with a splendid uniform alight 
at our house, she came to beg bread from him, 
'in order,' as she expressed it, 'that her other 
infants should not share the fate of the youngest 
— and if I get nothing, I will take the whole 
five, and we will throw ourselves together into 
the river.' 

" This was no vain threat on the part of that 
unhappy woman, for at that period suicides 
succeeded each other every day. Nothing was 
talked of but the tragic end of some family. 
Bonaparte entered the room with the expres- 
sion of melancholy, which did not leave him 
during the whole of dinner. He had at the 
moment given a few assignats to that unhappy 
woman ; but after we rose from table, he 
begged my mother to make some inquiries 
concerning her. She did so, and found that 
her story was all true, and that she was of 
good character. Napoleon paid her the wages 
due to her deceased husband by the govern- 
ment, and got for her a small pension. She 
succeeded in bringing up her children, who 
ever after retained the most lively sense of 



gratitude towards ' the General,' as they called 
their benefactor." — I. 195. 

The Duchess gives a striking picture of the 
difference in the fashions and habits of living 
which has resulted from the Revolution. Be- 
ing on a subject where a woman's observations 
are more likely to be accurate than those of a 
man, we willingly give a place to her observa- 
tions. 

" Transported from Corsica to Paris at the 
close of the reign of Louis XV., my mother 
had imbibed a second nature in the midst of 
the luxuries and excellencies of that period. 
We flatter ourselves that we have gained 
much by our changes in that particular ; but 
we are quite wrong. Forty thousand livres a 
year, fifty years ago, would have commanded 
more luxury than two hundred thousand now. 
The elegancies that at that period surrounded 
a woman of fashion cannot be numbered; a 
profusion of luxuries were in common use, 
of which even the name is now forgotten. The 
furniture of her sleeping apartment — the bath 
in daily use — the ample folds of silk and velvet 
which covered the windows — the perfumes 
which filled the room; the rich laces and dresses 
which adorned the wardrobe, were widely dif- 
ferent from the ephemeral and insufficient 
articles by which they have been replaced. 
My opinion is daily receiving confirmation; 
for every thing belonging to the last age is 
daily coming again into fashion, and I hope 
soon to see totally expelled all those fashions 
of Greece and Rome, which did admirably well 
under the climate of Rome or Messina, but are 
ill adapted for our vent du bize and cloudy 
atmosphere. A piece of muslin suspended 
on a gilt rod, is really of no other use but to 
let a spectator see that he is behind the cur- 
tain. It is the same with the imitation tapestry 
— the walls, six inches thick, which neither 
keep out the heat in summer, nor the cold in 
winter. All the other parts of modern dress 
and furniture are comprised in my anathema, 
and will always continue to be soi 

" It is said that every thing is simplified, 
and brought down to the reach of the most 
moderate fortunes. That is true in one sense ; 
that is to say, our confectioner has muslin 
curtains and gilt rods at his windows, and his 
wife has a silk cloak as well as ourselves, be- 
cause it is become so thin that it is indeed 
accessible to every one, but it keeps no one 
warm. It is the same with all the other stuffs. 
We must not deceive ourselves ; we have 
gained nothing by all these changes. Do not 
say, 'So much the better, this is equality.' 
By no means; equality is not to be found here,, 
any more than it is in England, or America, 
or anywhere, since it cannot exist. The conse- 
quence of attempting it is, that you will have 
bad silks, bad satins, bad velvets, and that is 
all. 

"The throne of fashion has encountered 
during the Revolution another throne, and it 
has been shattered in consequence. The 
French people, amidst their dreams of equali- 
ty, have lost their own hands. The large and 
soft arm-chairs, the full and ample draperies, 
the cushions of eider down, all the other deli- 
cacies which we alone understood of all tho 



36 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



European family, led only to the imprison- 
ment of their possessors; and if you had the 
misfortune to inhabit a spacious hotel, within 
a court, to void the odious noise and smells 
of the street, you had your throat cut. That 
mode of treating elegant manners put them 
out of fashion ; they were speedily abandoned, 
and the barbarity of their successors still so 
lingers amongst us, that every day you see put 
into the lumber-room an elegant Grecian chair 
which has broken your arm, and canopies 
which smell of the stable, because they are 
stuffed with hay. 

" I growl because I am growing old. If I 
saw that the world was going the way it should, 
I would say nothing, and would perhaps adopt 
the custom of our politicians, which is, to em- 
brace the last revolution with alacrity, what- 
ever it may be. See how comfortable this is, 
say our young men, who espouse the cause 
of the last easy chair which their upholsterer 
has made for them, as of the last of the thirteen 
or fifteen constitutions which have been manu- 
factured for them during the last forty years. 
I will follow their example ; J. will applaud 
every thing, even the new government of Louis 
Philippe ; though, it must be confessed, that to 
do so requires a strong disposition to see 
every thing in the most favourable colours." — 
I. 197, 198. 

The authoress apologizes frequently for 
these and similar passages, containing details 
on the manners, habits, and fashions during 
the period in which she lived ; but no excuse 
is required for their insertion. Details of ball- 
dresses, saloons, operas, and theatres, may 
appear extremely trifling to those who have 
only to cross the street to witness them; but 
they become very different when they are read 
after the lapse of centuries, and the accession 
of a totally different set of manners. They are 
the materials from which alone a graphic and 
interesting history of the period can be framed. 
"What would we give for details of this sort 
on the era of Ccesar and Pompey? with what 
eagerness do we turn to the faithful pages of 
Froissart and Monstrellet for similar informa- 
tion concerning the chivalrous ages ; and with 
what delight do we read the glowing pictures 
in Ivanhoe and the Crusaders, in Quentin 
Durward and Kenilworth, of the manners, 
customs, and habits of those periods'? To all 
appearance, the world is changing so rapidly 
under the pressure of the revolutionary tem- 
pest, that, before the lapse of many genera- 
tions, the habits of our times will be as much 
the object of research to the antiquary, and of 
interest to the historian, as those of Richard 
Cceur de Lion or the Black Prince are to our 
age. 

We have mentioned above, that Napoleon's 
interest in Madame Permon appeared to have 
been stronger than that of mere friendship. 
The following passage contains the account 
of a declaration and refusal, which never pro- 
bably before were equalled since the beginning 
of the world: — 

"Napoleon came one day to my mother, a 
considerable time after the death of my father, 
and proposed a marriage between his sister 
Pauline and my brother Permon. 'Permon 



has some fortune; said he; 'my sister has 
nothing: but I am in a situation to do much 
for my connections, and I could procure an 
advantageous place for her husband. That 
alliance would rentier me happy. You know 
how beautiful my sister is: My mother is 
your friend : Come, say Yes, and all will be 
settled.' 

"My mother answered, that her son must 
answer for himself; and that she would make 
no attempt to influence his choice. 

" Bonaparte admitted that my brother was 
a young man so remarkable, that, though he 
was only twenty-five years of age, he had 
judgment and talents adequate to any situa- 
tion. What Bonaparte proposed was extreme- 
ly natural. He contemplated a marriage be- 
tween a girl of sixteen and a young man of 
twenty-five, who had L.500 a year, with a 
handsome exterior; who drew as well as his 
master, Vernet; played on the harp much 
better than his master, Kromphultz ; spoke 
English, Italian, and modern Greek, as well as 
a native, and had such talents as had made 
his official duties in the army of the south a 
matter of remark. Such was the person whom 
Napoleon asked for his sister; a ravishing 
beauty and good daughter, it is true j but that 
was all. 

" To this proposal Napoleon added another ; 
that of a union between myself and Joseph or 
Jerome. 'Jerome is younger than Laurette,' 
said my mother, laughing. ' In truth, my dear 
Napoleon, you have become a high-priest to- 
day; you must needs marry all the world, even 
children.' Bonaparte laughed also, but with 
an embarrassed air. He admitted that that 
morning, in rising, a gale of marriage had 
blown over him, 'and to prove it,'- said he, 
taking the hand of my mother, and kissing it, 
' I am resolved to commence the union of our 
families by asking you to marry myself as 
soon as the forms of society will permit." 

" My mother has frequently told me that ex- 
traordinary scene, which I know as if I had 
been present at it. She looked at Bonaparte 
for some seconds with an astonishment bor- 
dering on stupefaction ; then she began to 
laugh so immoderately that we all heard it, 
though we were in the next room. 

"Napoleon was highly often ded at the mode 
in which a proposal, which appeared to him 
perfectly natural, was received. My mother, 
who perceived what he felt, hastened to ex- 
plain herself, and to show that it was at the 
thoughts of the ridiculous figure which she 
herself would make in such an event, that she 
was so much amused. "' My dear Napoleon,' 
said she, when she had done laughing, 'let us 
speak seriously. You imagine you know my 
age, but you really do not : I will not tell you, 
for I have a slight weakness in that respect: 
I will only say, I am old enough, not only to 
be your mother, but the mother of Joseph. 
Let us put an end to this pleasantry; it 
grieves me when coming from you.' 

"Bonaparte told her that he was quite se- 
rious; that the age of his wife was to him a 
matter of no importance, provided she had not 
the look, like her, of being above thirty years 
old; that he had deliberately considered what 



NAPOLEON. 



37 



he had just said ; and he added these remark- 
able words : — ' I wish to marry. My friends 
wish me to marry a lady of the Fauxbourg St. 
Germain, who is charming and agreeable. My 
old friends are averse to this connection, and 
the one I now propose suits me belter in many 
respects. Reflect.' My mother interrupted the 
conversation by saying, that her mind was 
made up as to herself; and that as to her son, 
she would give him an answer in a day or 
two. She gave him her hand at parting, and 
said, smiling, that, though she had not entirely 
given up the idea of conquests, she could not 
go just so far as to think of subduing a heart 
of six-and-twenty; and that she hoped their 
friendship would not be disturbed by this little 
incident. 'But at all events,' said Napoleon, 
'consider it well.' — ' Well, I will consider it,' 
said she, smiling in her sweetest manner, and 
so they parted. 

" After I was married to Junot, and he heard 
it, he declared that it appeared less surprising 
to him tkan it did to us. Bonaparte, at the 
epoch or the 13th Vendemiare, was attached 
to the war committee. His projects, his 
plans, all had one object, and that was the 
East. My mother's name of Comnene, with 
her Grecian descent, had a great interest in 
his imagination. The name of Calomeros, 
united with Comnene, might have powerfully 
served his ambition in that quarter. ' The 
great secret of all these marriages,' said Junot, 
'was in that idea.' I believe he was right." — 
I. pp. 202, 203. 

All the proposed marriages came to nothing ; 
the duchess's brother refused Pauline, and she 
herself Joseph. They little thought, that the 
one was refusing the throne of Charlemagne, 
the other that of Charles V., and the third, the 
most beautiful princess in Europe. 

The following picture of three of the most 
celebrated women in the Revolution, one of 
whom evidently contributed by her influence 
to the fall of Robespierre, shows that the fair 
authoress is not less a master of the subject 
more peculiarly belonging to her sex. 

"Madame D. arrived late in the ball-room. 
The great saloon was completely filled. Ma- 
dame D., who was well accustomed to such 
situations, looked around her to see if she 
could discover a seat, when her eyes were 
arrested by the figure of a young and charm- 
ing person, with a profusion of light tresses, 
looking around her with her fine blue eyes, 
with a timid air, and offering the most perfect 
image of a young sylph. She was in the act 
of being led to her seat by M. de Trenis, which 
showed that she was a beautiful dancer ; for 
he honoured no one with his hand, but those 
who might receive the title of la belle danseuse. 
The young lady, after having bowed blushing 
to the Vestris of the room, sat down beside a 
lady who had the appearance of being her 
elder sister, and whose extremely elegant dress 
was attracting the attention of all around her. 
'Who are these ladies V said Madame D. to 
the Count de Haulefort, on whose arm she 
was leaning. 'Do you not know the Vis- 
countess Beauharnais and her daughter Hor- 
tenseV 

" ' My God V said the Count, ' who is that 



beautiful woman?' who at that moment en- 
tered the room, and towards whom all eyes 
were immediately turned. That lady was 
of a stature above the ordinary ; but the per- 
fect harmony in her proportions prevented 
you from perceiving that she was above the 
ordinary size. It was the Venus of the Capi- 
tol, but more beautiful than the work of Phi- 
dias. You saw the same perfection in the 
arms, neck, and feet, and the whole figure 
animated by an expression of benevolence, 
which told at once, that all that beauty was 
but the magic reflection of a mind animated 
only by the most benevolent and generous 
feelings. Her dress had no share in contri- 
buting to her beauty; for it was a simple 
robe of Indian muslin arranged in drapery 
like the antique, and held together on the 
shoulders by two splendid cameos ; a girdle 
of gold, which encircled her figure, was ele- 
gantly clasped in the sameway; a large gold- 
en bracelet ornamented her arm ; her hair, 
black and luxuriant, was dressed without 
tresses, a hi Titus; over her white and beauti- 
ful shoulders was thrown a superb shawl of 
red cachemere, a dress at that period extremely 
rare, and highly in request. It was thrown 
round her in the most elegant and picturesque 
manner, forming thus a picture of the most 
ravishing beauty. It was Madame Tallien, so 
well known for her generous efforts at the 
time of the fall of Robespierre." — I. 222. 

This description suggests one observation, 
which must strike every one who is at all fami- 
liar with the numerous French female memoirs 
which have issued from the Parisian press 
within these few years. This is the extraor- 
dinary accuracy with which, at any distance 
of time, they seem to have the power of re- 
calling, not only the whole particulars of a 
ball-room or opera, but even the dresses worn 
by the ladies on these occasions. Thus the 
ball here described took place in 1797. Yet 
the duchess has no sort of difficulty in re- 
counting the whole particulars both of the 
people and dresses in 1830, three-and-thirty 
years after. We doubt extremely whether 
any woman in England could give as accu- 
rate an account within a month after the 
event. Nor does there seem to be any ground 
for the obvious remark that these descriptions 
are all got up ex post facto, without any foun- 
dation in real life; for the variety and accu- 
racy with which they are given evidently 
demonstrates, that however much the colours 
may have been subsequently added, the out- 
lines of the sketch were taken from nature. 
As little is there any ground for the suspicion, 
that the attention of the French women is ex- 
clusively occupied with these matters, to the 
exclusion of more serious considerations; for 
these pages are full of able and sometimes 
profound remarks on politics, events, and 
characters, such as would have done credit tc 
the clearest head in Britain. We can only 
suppose that the vanity which, amidst many 
excellencies, is the undoubted characteristic 
both of the men and women in France, is the 
cause of this extraordinary power in their 
female writers, and that the same disposition 
which induces their statesmen and heroes ty 
D 



38 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



record daily the victories of their diplomacy 
and arms, leads their lively and intelligent 
ladies to commit to paper all that is particu- 
larly remarkable in private life, or descriptive 
of their triumphs in the field of love. 

Some interesting details are preserved, as to 
the reception of Napoleon in Paris by the 
Directory alter the Revolution of the 18th 
Fructidor. The following quotations exhibit 
the talent of the author, both for the lighter 
and more serious subjects of narrative in the 
best light: 

" Junot entered at first into the famous bat- 
talion of volunteers of the Cote d'or. After 
the surrender of Longwy they were moved to 
Toulon ; it was the most terrific period of the 
Revolution. Junot was then a sergeant of 
grenadiers, an honour which he received from 
the voluntary election of his comrades on the 
field of battle. Often, in recounting to me the 
first years of his adventurous life, he has de- 
clared that nothing ever gave him such a de- 
lirium of joy, as when his comrades, all, he 
said, as brave as himself, named him sergeant 
on the field of battle, and he was elevated on 
a seat formed of crossed bayonets, still reek- 
ing with the blood of their enemies." 

It was at that time that, being one day, 
during the siege of Toulon, at his post at the 
battery of St. Culottes, an officer of artillery, 
who had recently come from Paris to direct 
the operations of the siege, asked from the 
officer who commanded the post for a young 
non-commissioned officer who had at once in- 
telligence and boldness. The officer immedi- 
ately called for Junot; the officer surveyed 
him with that eye which already began to take 
the measure of human capacity. 

" 'You will change your dress,' said the 
commander, ' and you will go there to bear 
this order.' He showed him with his hand a 
spot at a distance on the same side. The 
young sergeant blushed up to the eyes ; his 
eyes kindled with fire. ' I am not a spy,' said 
he, ' to execute their orders ; seek another to 
bear them.' 'Do you refuse to obey V said the 
superior officer ; ' do you know to what punish- 
ment you expose yourself in so doing V 'I 
am ready to obey,' said Junot, ' but 1 will go 
in my uniform, or not at all.' The comman- 
der smiled, and looked at him attentively. 
' But if you do, they will kill you.' ' What 
does that signify 1 ?' said Junot; "you know 
me little to imagine I would be pained at such 
an occurrence, and, as for me, it is all one — 
come, I go as I am ; is it not so V And he set 
off singing. 

" After he was gone, the superior officer 
asked, \ What is the name of that young man?' 
'Junot,' replied the other. The commanding 
officer then wrote his name in his pocket-book. 
' He will make his way,' he replied. This 
judgment was already of decisive importance 
to Junot, for the reader must readily have 
divined that the officer of artillery was Na- 
poleon. 

"A few days after, being on his rounds at 
the same battery, Bonaparte asked for some 
one who could write well. Junot stepped out 
of the ranks and presented himself. Bona- 
parte recognised him as the sergeant who had 



already fixed his attention. He expressed his 
satisfaction at seeing him, and desired him to 
place himself so as to write under his dicta- 
tion. Hardly was the letter done, when a 
bomb, projected from the English batteries, 
fell at the distance of ten yards, and, exploding, 
covered all present with gravel and dust. 
' Well,' said Junot, laughing, ' we shall at least 
not require sand to dry the ink.' 

" Bonaparte fixed his eyes on the young ser- 
geant ; he was calm, and had not even quivered 
at the explosion. That event decided his for- 
tune. He remained attached to the com- 
mander of artillery, and returned no more to 
his corps. At a subsequent time, when the 
town surrendered, and Bonaparte was ap- 
pointed General, Junot asked no other recom- 
pense for his brave conduct during the siege, 
but to be named his aid-de-camp. He and 
Muiron were the first who served him in that 
capacity." — I. 268. 

A singular incident, which is stated as hav- 
ing happened to Junot at the battle of Lonato, 
in Italy, is recorded in the following curious 
manner : — 

" The evening before the battle of Lonato, 
Junot having been on horseback all the day, 
and rode above 20 leagues in carrying the 
orders of the General-in-Chief, lay down over- 
whelmed with fatigue, without undressing, 
and ready to start up at the smallest signal. 
Hardly was he asleep, when he dreamed he 
was on a field of battle, surrounded by the 
dead and the dying. Before him was a horse- 
man, clad in armour, with whom he was en- 
gaged ; that cavalier, instead of a lance, was 
armed with a scythe, with which he struck 
Junot several blows, particularly one on the 
left temple. The combat was long, "and at 
length they seized each other by the middle. 
In the struggle the vizor, the casque of the 
horseman, fell off, and Junot perceived that he 
was fighting with a skeleton; soon the armour 
fell off, and death stood before him armed with 
his scythe. ' I have not been able to take you,' 
said he, 'but I will seize one of your best 
friends. — Beware of me !' 

"Junot awoke, bathed with sweat. The 
morning was beginning to dawn, and he could 
not sleep from the impression he had received. 
He felt convinced that one of his brother aid- 
de-camps, Muiron or Marmont, would be slain 
in the approaching fight. In effect it was so : 
Junot received two wounds — one on the left 
temple, which he bore to his' grave, and the 
other on the breast; but Muiron was shot 
through the heart." — I. 270. 
. The two last volumes of this interesting 
work, published a few weeks ago, are hardly 
equal in point of importance to those which 
contained the earlier history of Napoleon, but 
still they abound with interesting and curious 
details. The following picture of the religion 
which grew up in France on the ruins of 
Christianity, is singularly instructive: — 

" It is well known, that during the revolu- 
tionary troubles of France, not only all the 
churches Mere closed, but the Catholic and 
Protestant worship entirely forbidden; and, 
after the Constitution of 1795, it was at the 
hazard of one's life that either the mass was 



NAPOLEON. 



39 



heard, or any religious duty performed. It is 
evident that Robespierre, who unquestionably 
had a design which is now generally under- 
stood, was desirous, on the day of the fete of 
the Supreme Being, to bring back public 
opinion to the worship of the Deity. Eight 
months before, we had seen the Bishop of 
Paris, accompanied by his clergy, appear vo- 
luntarily at the bar of the Convention, to abjure 
the Christian faith and the Catholic religion. 
But it is not as generally known, that at that 
period Robespierre was not omnipotent, and 
could not carry his desires into effect. Nu- 
merous factions then disputed with him the 
supreme authority. It was not till the end of 
1793, and the beginning of 1794, that his power 
was so completely established that he could 
venture to act up to his intentions. 

" Robespierre was then desirous to establish 
the worship of the Supreme Being, and the 
belief of the immortality of the soul. He felt 
that irreligion is the soul of anarchy, and it 
was not anarchy but despotism which he de- 
sired ; and yet the very day after that magnifi- 
cent fete in honour of the Supreme Being, a 
man of the highest celebrity in science, and 
as distinguished for virtue and probity as 
philosophic genius, Lavoisier, was led out to 
the scaffold. On the day following that, 
Madame Elizabeth, that princess whom the 
executioners could not guillotine, till they had 
turned aside their eyes from the sight of her 
angelic visage, stained the same axe with her 
blood! — And a month after, Robespierre, who 
wished to restore order for his own purposes — 
who wished to still the bloody waves which for 
years had inundated the state, felt that all his 
efforts would be in vain if the masses who 
supported his power were not restrained and 
directed, because without order nothing but 
ravages and destruction can prevail. To en- 
sure the government of the masses, it was in- 
dispensable that morality, religion, and belief 
should be established — and, to affect the mul- 
titude, that religion should be clothed in ex- 
ternal forms. 'My friend,' said Voltaire, to 
the atheist Bamilaville, 'after you have supped 
on well-dressed partridges, drank your spark- 
ling champagne, and slept on cushions of 
down in the arms of your mistress, I have no 
fear of you, though you do not believe in God. 
But if you are perishing of hunger, and I meet 
you in the corner of a wood, I would rather 
dispense with your company.' But when 
Robespierre wished to bring back to some- 
thing like discipline the crew of the vessel 
which was fast driving on the breakers, he 
found the thing was not so easy as he ima- 
gined. To destroy is easy — to rebuild is the 
difficulty. He was omnipotent to do evil; but 
the day that he gave the first sign of a disposi- 
tion to return to order, the hands which he 
himself had stained with blood, marked his 
forehead with the fatal sign of destruction." — 
VI. 34, 35. 

After the fall of Robespierre, a feeble attempt 
was made, under the Directory, to establish a 
religious system founded on pure Deism. To 
the faithful believer in Revelation, it is inte- 
resting to trace the rise and fall of the first 
attempt in the history of the world to es- 



tablish such a faith as the basis of national 
religion. 

" Under the Directory, that brief and deplora- 
ble government, a new sect established itself 
in France. Its system was rather morality 
than religion ; it affected the utmost tolerance, 
recognised all religions, and had no other faith 
than a belief in God. Its votaries were termed 
the Theophiianthropists. It was during the 
year 1797 that this sect arose. I was once 
tempted to go to one of their meetings. Lare- 
veilliere Lepaux, chief grand priest and pro- 
tector of the sect, was to deliver a discourse. 
The first thing that struck me in the place of 
assembly, was a basket filled with the most 
magnificent flowers of July, which was then 
the season, and another loaded with the most 
splendid fruits. Every one knows the grand 
altar of the church of St. Nicholas in the 
Fields, with its rich Corinthian freize. I sus- 
pect the Theophiianthropists had chosen that 
church on that account for the theatre of their 
exploits, in a spirit of religious coquetry. In 
truth, their basket of flowers produced an ad- 
mirable effect on that altar of the finest Grecian 
form, and mingled in perfect harmony with the 
figures of angels which adorned the walls. The 
chief pronounced a discourse, in which he 
spoke so well, that, in truth, if the Gospel had 
not said the same things infinitely better, some 
seventeen hundred and ninety-seven years be- 
fore, it would have been decidedly preferable 
either to the Paganism of antiquity, or the 
mythology of Egypt or India. 

" Napoleon had the strongest prejudice 
against that sect. 'They are comedians,' said 
he; and when some one replied that nothing 
could be more admirable than the conduct of 
some of their chiefs, that Lareveilliere Lepaux 
was one of the most virtuous men in Paris ; 
in fine, that their morality consisted in nothing 
but virtue, good faith, and charity, he replied — 

" ' To what purpose is all that 1 Every sys- 
tem of morality is admirable. Apart from 
certain dogmas, more or less absurd, which 
were necessary to bring them down to the 
level of the age in which they were produced, 
what do you see in the morality of the Wid- 
ham, the Koran, the Old Testament, or Confu- 
cius 1 Everywhere a pure system of morality, 
that is to say, you see protection to the weak, 
respect to the laws, gratitude to God, recom- 
mended and enforced. But the evangelists 
alone exhibit the union of all the principles of 
morality, detached from every kind of ab- 
surdity. There is something admirable, and 
not your common-place sentiments put into 
bad verse. Do you wish to see what is sub- 
lime, you and your friends the Theophiian- 
thropists 1 ? Repeat the Lord's Prayer. Your zea- 
lots,' added he, addressing a young enthusiast 
in that system, 'are desirous of the palm of 
martyrdom, but I will not give it them ; nothing 
shall fall on them but strokes of ridicule, and 
I little know the French, if they do not prove 
mortal.' In truth, the result proved how well 
he had appreciated the French character. It 
perished after an ephemeral existence of five 
years, and left not a trace behind, but a few 
verses, preserved as a relic of that age of 
mental aberration." — VI. 40 — 43. 



40 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



This passage is very remarkable. Here we 
have the greatest intellect of the age, Napoleon 
himself, recurring to the Gospel, and to the 
Lord's Prayer, as the only pure system of re- 
ligion, and the sublimest effort of human com- 
position; and Robespierre endeavouring, in the 
close of his bloody career, to cement anew the 
fabric of society, which he had had so large a 
share in destroying, by a recurrence to reli- 
gious impressions! So indispensable is devo- 
tion to the human heart; so necessary is it to 
the construction of the first elements of society, 
and so well may you distinguish the spirit of 
anarchy and revolution, by the irreligious ten- 
dency which invariably attends it, and prepares 
the overthrow of every national institution, by 
sapping the foundation of every private virtue. 
The arrest of the British residents over all 
France, on the rupture of the peace of Amiens, 
was one of the most cruel and unjustifiable 
acts of Napoleon's government. The following 
scene between Junot and the First Consul on 
this subject, is singularly characteristic of the 
impetuous fits of passion to which that great 
man was subject, and which occasionally be- 
trayed him into actions so unworthy of his 
general character. 

" One morning, at five o'clock, when day was 
just beginning to break, an order arrived from 
the First Consul to repair instantly to Malmai- 
son. He had been labouring till four in the 
morning, and had but just fallen asleep. He 
set off instantly, and did not return till five in 
the evening. When he entered he was in great 
agitation ; his meeting with him had been 
stormy, and the conversation long. 

" When Junot arrived at the First Consul's, 
he found his figure in disorder; his features 
were contracted; and every thing announced 
one of those terrible agitations which made 
every one who approached him tremble. 

" ' Junot,' said he to his old aid-de-camp, ' are 
you still the friend on whom I can rely? Yes 
or no. No circumlocution.' 

" 'Yes, my General.' 

" ' Well then, before an hour is over, you 
must take measures instantly, so that all the 
English, without one single exception, shall be 
instantly arrested. Room enough for them will 
be found in the Temple, the Force, the Abbaye, 
and the other prisons of Paris ; it is indispen- 
sable that they should all be arrested. We 
must teach their government, that entrenched 
though they are in their isle, they can be reach- 
ed by an enemy who is under no obligation 
to treat their subjects with any delicacy. — The 
wretches,' said he, striking his fist violently on 
the table, 'they refuse Malta, and assign as a 

reason' Here his anger choked his voice, 

and he was some time in recovering himself. 
' They assign as a reason, that Lucien has in- 
fluenced, by my desire, the determinations of 
the Court of Spain, in regard to a reform of the 
Clergy; and they refuse to execute the Treaty 
of Amiens, on pretence that, since it was signed, 
the situation of the contracting parties had 
changed.' 

" Junot was overwhelmed ; but the cause of 
his consternation was not the rupture with 
England. It had been foreseen, and known for 
several days. But in the letters which were 



now handed to him he perceived a motive to 
authorize the terrible measure which Napoleon 
had commanded. He would willingly have 
given him his life, but now he was required to 
do a thing to the last degree repugnant to the 
liberal principles in which he had been trained. 

" The First Consul waited for some time for 
an answer; but seeing the attitude of Junot, he 
proceeded, after a pause of some minutes, as 
if the answer had already been given. 

" ' That measure must be executed at seven 
o'clock this evening. I am resolved that, this 
evening, not the most obscure theatre at Paris, 
not the most miserable restaurateur, should 
contain an Englishman within its walls.' 

'"My General,' replied Junot, who had now 
recovered his composure, ' you know not only 
my attachment to your person, but my devotion 
in every thing which regards yourself. Believe 
me, then, it is nothing but that devotion which 
makes me hesitate in obeying you, before en- 
treating you to take a few hours to reflect on 
the measure which you have commanded me 
to adopt.' 

" Napoleon contracted his eye-brows. 

"' Again !' said he. ' What! is the scene of 
the other day so soon to be renewed? Lannes 
and you truly give yourselves extraordinary 
license. Duroc alone, with his tranquil air, 
does not think himself entitled to preach ser- 
mons to me. You shall find, gentlemen, by 
God, that I can square my hat as well as any 
man; Lannes has already experienced it; and 
I do not think he will enjoy much his eating 
of oranges at Lisbon. As for you, Junot, do 
not rely too much on my friendship. The day 
on which I doubt of yours, mine is destroyed.' 

" ' My General,' replied Junot, profoundly 
afflicted at being so much misunderstood, " it 
is not at the moment that I am giving you the 
strongest proof of my devotion, that you should 
thus address me. Ask my blood; ask my life; 
they belong to you, and shall be freely render- 
ed; but to order me to do a thing which will 
cover us all with ' 

'"Go on,' he interrupted, ' go on, by all 
means. What will happen to me' because I 
retaliate on a perfidious government the inju- 
ries which it has heaped upon me?' 

'" It does not belong to me,' replied Junot, 
'to decide upon what line of conduct is suit- 
able to you. Of this, however, I am well as- 
sured, that if any thing unworthy of your glory 
is attempted, it will be from your eyes being 
fascinated by the men, who only disquiet you 
by their advice, and incessantly urge you to* 
measures of severity. Believe me, my Gene- 
ral, these men do you infinite mischief? 

" ' Who do you mean ?' said Napoleon. 

" Junot mentioned the names of several, 
and stated what he knew of them. 

" ' Nevertheless, these men are devoted to 
me,' replied he. ' One of them said the other 
day, "If the First Consul M'ere to desire me to 
kill my father, I would kill him." ' 

" ' I know not, my General,' replied Junot, 
' what degree of attachment to you it is, to sup- 
pose you capable of giving an order to a son 
to put to death his own father. But it matters 
not; when one is so unfortunate as to think in 
that manner, they seldom make it public' 



NAPOLEON. 



41 



" Two years afterwards, the First Consul, 
who was then Emperor, spoke to me of that 
scene, after my return from Portugal, and told 
me that he was on the point of embracing Ju- 
not at these words : so much was he struck 
with these noble expressions addressed to him, 
his general, his chief, the man on whom alone 
his destiny depended. 'For in fine,' said the 
Emperor, smiling, 'I must own I am rather 
unreasonable when I am angry, and that you 
know, Madame Junot.' 

" As for my husband, the conversation which 
he had with the First Consul was of the warm- 
est description. He went the length of remind- 
ing him, that at the departure of the ambassa- 
dor, Lord Whitworth, the most solemn assu- 
rances had been given him of the safety of all 
the English at Paris. ' There are,' said he, 
* amongst them, women, children, and old men ; 
there are numbers, my General, who night and 
morning pray to God to prolong your days. 
They are for the most part persons engaged in 
trade, for almost all ihe higher classes of that na- 
tion have left Paris. The damage they would 
sustain from being all imprisoned, is immense. 
Oh, my General ! it is not for you whose noble 
and generous mind so well comprehends what- 
ever is grand in the creation, to confound a 
generous nation with a perfidious cabinet' " — 
VI. 406—410. 

With the utmost difficulty, Junot prevailed 
on Napoleon to commute the original order, 
which had been for immediate imprisonment, 
into one for the confinement of the unfortu- 
nate British subjects in particular towns, where 
it is well known most of them lingered till de- 
livered by the Allies in 1814. But Napoleon 
never forgave this interference with his wrath ; 
and shortly after, Junot was removed from the 
government of Paris, and sent into honourable 
exile to superintend the formation of a corps 
of grenadiers at Arras. 

The great change which has taken place in 
the national character of France since the Re- 
storation, has been noticed by all writers on 
the subject. The Duchess of Abrantes' obser- 
vations on the subject are highly curious. 

"Down to the year 1800, the national cha- 
racter had undergone no material alteration. 
That character overcame all perils, disregard- 
ed all dangers, and even laughed at death it- 
self. It was this calm in the victims of the 
Revolution which gave the executioners their 
principal advantage. A friend of my acquaint- 
ance, who accidentally found himself sur- 
rounded by the crowd who were returning from 
witnessing the execution of Madame du Barri, 
heard two of the women in the street speaking 
' to each other on the subject, and one said to 
the other, 'How that one cried out! If they 
all cry out in that manner, I will not reiurn 
again to the executions.' What a volume of 
reflections arise from these few words spoken, 
with all the unconcern of those barbarous 
days ! 

"The three years of the Revolution follow- 
ing 1793, taught us to weep, but did not teach 
• us to cease to laugh. They laughed under the 
axe yet stained with blood ; — they laughed as 
the victim slept at Venice under the burning 
irons which were to waken his dreams. Alas ! 
6 



how deep must have been the wounds which 
have changed this lightsome character ! For 
the joyous Frenchman laughs no more; and 
if he still has some happy days, the sun of 
gaiety has set for ever. This change has taken 
place during the fifteen years which have fol- 
lowed the Restoration ; while the horrors of 
the wars of religion, the tyrannical reigns of 
Louis XI. and XIV., and even the bloody days 
of the Convention, produced no such effect." — 
V. 142. 

Like all the other writers on the modern 
state of France, of whatever school or party 
in politics, Madame Junot is horrified with the 
deterioration of manners, and increased vul- 
garity, which has arisen from the democratic, 
invasions of later times. Listen to this ardent 
supporter of the revolutionary order of things, 
on this subject: — 

"At that time, (1801,) the habits of good 
company were not yet extinct in Paris; of the 
old company of France, and not of what is now 
termed good company, and which prevailed 
thirty years ago only among postilions and 
stable-boys. At that period, men of good birth 
did not smoke in the apartments of their wives, be- 
cause they felt it to be a dirty and disgusting 
practice ; they generally washed their hands ; 
when they went out to dine, or to pass the 
evening in a house of their acquaintance, they 
bowed to the lady at its head in entering and retiring, 
and did not appear so abstracted in their 
thoughts as to behave as they would have 
done in an hotel. They were then careful not 
to turn their back on those with whom they conversed, 
so as to show only an ear or the point of a 
nose to those whom they addressed. They 
spoke of something else, besides those eternal 
politics on which no two can ever agree, and 
which give occasion only to the interchange 
of bitter expressions. There has sprung from 
these endless disputes, disunion in families, 
the dissolution of the oldest friendships, and 
the growth of hatred which will continue till 
the grave. Experience proves that in these 
contests no one is ever convinced, and that 
each goes away more than ever persuaded of 
the truth of his own opinions. 

" The customs of the world now give me 
nothing but pain. From the bosom of the re- 
tirement where I have been secluded for these 
fifteen years, I can judge, without preposses- 
sion, of the extraordinary revolution in man- 
ners which has lately taken place. Old im- 
pressions are replaced, it is said, by new ones ; 
that is all. Are, then, the new ones superior] 
I cannot believe it. Morality itself is rapidly 
undergoing dissolution ; every character is con- 
taminated, and no one knows from whence 
the poison is inhaled. Young men now lounge 
away their evenings in the box of a theatre, or 
the Boulevards, or carry on elegant conversa- 
tion with a fair seller of gloves and perfumery,, 
make compliments on her lily and vermilion 
cheeks, and present her with a cheap ring, ac- 
companied with a gross and indelicate compli- 
ment. Society is so disunited, that it is daily 
becoming more vulgar, in the literal sense of 
the word. Whence any improvement is to 
arise, God only knows." — V. 156, 157. 

While we are concluding these observations 
d2 



42 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



another bloody revolt has occurred at Paris ; 
the three glorious days of June have come to 
crown the work, and develope the consequences 
of the three glorious days of July.* After a 
desperate struggle, maintained with much 
greater resolution and vigour on the part of 
the insurgents than the insurrection which 
proved fatal to Charles X.; after Paris having 
been the theatre, for three days, of bloodshed 
and devastation ; after 75,000 men had been 
engaged against the Revolutionists ; alter the 
thunder of artillery had broken down the Re- 
publican barricades, and showers of grape- 
shot had thinned the ranks of the citizen-sol- 
diers, the military force triumphed, and peace 
was restored to the trembling city. What has 
been the consequence ] All the forms of law 
have been suspended ; military commissions 
established ; domiciliary visits become univer- 
sal; several thousand persons thrown into 
prison; and, before this, the fusillades of the 
new heroes of the Barricades have announced 
to a suffering country that the punishment of 
their sins has commenced. The liberty of the 
press is destroyed, the editors delivered over 
to military commissions, the printing presses 
of the opposition journals thrown into the 
Seine, and all attempts at insurrection, or 
words tending to excite it, and all offences of the 
press tending to excite dissatisfaction or revolt, 
handed over to military commissions, com- 
posed exclusively of officers ! This is the 
freedom which the three glorious days have 
procured for France ! 

The soldiers were desperately chagrined and 
mortified at the result of the three days of July ; 
and well they might be so, as all the sub- 



sequent sufferings of their country, and the 
total extinction of their liberties on the last 
occasion, were owing to their vacillation in 
the first revolt. They have now fought with 
the utmost fury against the people, as they did 
at Lyons, and French blood has amply stained 
their bayonets; but it has come too late to 
wash out the stain of their former treason, or 
revive the liberties which it lost for their 
country. 

Polignac is now completely justified for all 
but the incapacity of commencing a change 
of the constitution with 5000 men, four pieces 
of cannon, and eight rounds of grape-shot to 
support it. The ordinances of Charles X., now 
adopted with increased severity by Louis Phi- 
lippe, were destined to accomplish, without 
bloodshed, that change which the fury of de- 
mocracy rendered necessary, and without 
which it has bf en found the Throne of the 
Barricades cannot exist. It is evident that 
the French do not know what freedom is. They 
had it under the Bourbons, as our people had 
it under the old constitution; but it would not 
content them, because it was not liberty, but 
power, not freedom, but democracy, not ex- 
emption from tyranny, but the power of tyran- 
nizing over others, that they desired. They 
gained their point, they accomplished their 
wishes, — and the consequence has been, two 
years of suffering, followed by military des- 
potism. We always predicted the three glori- 
ous days would lead to this result; but the 
termination of the drama has come more 
rapidly than the history of the first Revolution 
led us to anticipate. 



B0SSUET. 



To those who study only the writers of a 
particular period, or have been deeply im- 
mersed in the literature of a certain age, it is 
almost incredible how great a change is to be 
found in the human mind as it there appears, 
as compared with distant times, and how much 
even the greatest intellects are governed by 
the circumstances in which they arise, and 
the prevailing tone of the public mind with 
which they are surrounded. How much so- 
ever we may ascribe, and sometimes with 
justice ascribe, to the force and ascendant of 
individual genius, nothing is more certain 
than that, in the general case, it is external 
events and circumstances which give a certain 
bent to human speculation, and that the most 
original thought is rarely able to do much 
more than anticipate by a few years, the simul- 
taneous efforts of inferior intellects. Gene- 
rally, it will be found that particular seasons 
or periods in the great year of nations or of 
ihe world, bring forth their own appropriate 

* Written on the day when the accounts of the defeat 
of the great Revolt at the Cloister of Silleri by Louis 
Philippe and Marshal Soult were received. 



fruits : it is rarely that in June can be matured 
those of September. The changes which have 
made the greatest and most lasting alteration 
on the progress of science or the march of 
human affairs — printing, gunpowder, steam 
navigation — were brought to light, it is hardly 
known how, and by several different persons, 
so nearly at the same time, that it is difficult 
to say to whom the palm of original invention 
is to be awarded. The discovery' of fluxions, 
awarded by common consent to the unap- 
proachable intellect of Newton, was made 
about the same time by his contemporaries, 
Leibnitz and Gregory; the honours of original 
thought in political economy are divided be- 
tween Adam Smith and the French economists ; 
the improvements on the steam-engine were 
made in the same age by Watt and Arkwright ; 
and the science of strategy was developed 
with equal clearness in the German treatise 
of the Archduke Charles, as the contemporary 
treatises of Jomini and Napoleon. The great- 
est intellect perceives only the coming light; 
the rays of the rising sun strike first upon the 
summits of the mountains, but his ascending 



BOSSUET. 



43 



beams will soon illuminate the slopes on their 
sides, and the valleys at their feet. 

There is, however, a considerable variety 
in the rapidity with which the novel and ori- 
ginal ideas of different great men are com-' 
municated to their contemporaries ; and hence 
the extraordinary difference between the early 
celebrity which some works, destined for future 
immortality, have obtained in comparison of 
others. This has long been matter of familiar 
observation to all persons at all acquainted 
with literary history. The works of some great 
men have at once stepped into that celebrity 
which was their destined meed through every 
subsequent age of the world, while the pro- 
ductions of others have languished on through 
a long period of obscurity, unnoticed by all 
save a few elevated minds, till the period 
arrived when the world became capable of 
understanding their truth, or feeling their 
beauty. The tomb of Euripides, at Athens, 
bore that all Greece mourned at his obsequies. 
We learn from Pliny's Epistles, that even in 
his own lifetime, immortality was anticipated 
not only for Tacitus, but all who were noticed 
in his annals. Shakspeare, though not yet 
arrived at the full maturity of his fame, was 
yet well known to, and enthusiastically ad- 
mired by his contemporaries. Lope de Vega 
amassed a hundred thousand crowns in the 
sixteenth century, by the sale of his eighteen 
hundred plays. Gibbon's early volumes ob- 
tained a celebrity in the outset nearly as great 
as his elaborate and fascinating work has 
since attained. In the next generation after 
Adam Smith, his principles were generally 
embraced, and largely acted upon by the legis- 
lature. The first edition of Robertson's Scot- 
land sold off in a month ; and Sir Walter Scott, 
by the sale of his novels and poems, was able, 
in twenty years, besides entertaining all the 
literary society of Europe, to purchase the 
large estate, and rear the princely fabric, 
library, and armory of Abbotsford. 

Instances, on the other hand, exist in equal 
number, and perhaps of a still more striking 
character, in which the greatest and most pro- 
found works which the human mind has ever 
produced have remained, often for along time, 
unnoticed, till the progress of social affairs 
brought the views of others generally to a level 
with that of their authors. Bacon bequeathed 
his reputation in his last testament to the ge- 
neration after the next; so clearly did he per- 
ceive that more than one race of men must 
expire before the opinions of others attained 
the level of his own far-seeing sagacity. Burke 
advanced principles in his French Revolution 
of which we are now, only now, beginning, 
after the lapse of half a century, to feel the full 
truth and importance. Hume met with so 
little encouragement in the earlier volumes of 
his history, that but for the animating assu- 
rances of a few enlightened friends, he has him- 
self told us, he would have resigned his task 
in despair. Milton sold the Paradise Lost for 
five pounds, and that immortal work languished 
on with a very limited sale till, fifty years after- 
wards, it was brought into light by the criti- 
cisms of Addison. Campbell for years could 
not find a bookseller who would buy the Plea- 



sures of Hope. Coleridge and Wordsworth 
passed for little better than imaginative illu- 
minati with the great bulk of their contempo- 
raries. 

The principle which seems to regulate this 
remarkable difference is this : Where a work 
of genius either describes manners, characters, 
or scenes with which the great bulk of man- 
kind are familiar, or concerning which they 
are generally desirous of obtaining informa- 
tion ; or if it advance principles which, based 
on the doctrines popular with the multitude, 
lead them to new and agreeable results, 'or 
deduces from them conclusions slightly in 
advance of the opinions of the age, but lying 
in the same direction, it is almost sure of 
meeting with immediate popularity. Where, 
on the other hand, it is founded on principles 
which are adverse to the prevailing current of 
public opinion — where it sternly asserts the 
great principles of religion and morality, in 
opposition to the prejudices or passions of a 
corrupted age — when it advocates the neces- 
sity of a rational and conservative govern- 
ment, in the midst of the fervor of innovation 
or the passion of revolution — when it stigma- 
tizes present vices, or reprobates present 
follies, or portrays the consequences of present 
iniquity — when it appeals to feelings and vir- 
tues which have passed from the breasts of the 
present generation — the chances are that it 
will meet with present admiration only from a 
few enlightened or virtuous men, and that a 
different generation must arise, possibly a new 
race of mankind become dominant, before it 
attains that general popularity which is its 
destined and certain reward. On this account 
the chances are much against the survivance, 
for any considerable period, of any work, 
either on religion, politics, or morals, which 
has early attained to a very great celebrity, 
because the fact of its having done so is, in 
general, evidence of its having fallen in, to an 
extent inconsistent with truth, with the pre- 
vailing opinions and prejudices of the age. In 
such opinions there is almost always a consi- 
derable foundation of truth, but as commonly 
a large intermixture of error. Principles are, 
by the irreflecting mass, in general pushed too 
far ; due weight is not given to the considera- 
tions on the other side ; the concurring influ- 
ence of other causes is either overlooked or 
disregarded. This » is more particularly the 
case with periods of general excitement, whe- 
ther on religious or political subjects, inso- 
much that there is hardly an instance of works 
which attained an early and extraordinary 
celebrity at such eras having survived the 
fervour which gave them birth, and the gene- 
ral concurrence of opinion in which they were 
cradled. Where are now the innumerable 
polemical writings which issued both from the 
Catholic and Protestant divines during the 
fervour of the Reformation] Where the forty 
thousand tracts which convulsed the nation in 
the course of the great Rebellion 7 Where 
the deluge of enthusiasm and infidelity which 
overspread the world at the commencement 
of the French Revolution 1 On the other 
hand, the works which have survived such 
periods of general fervour are those whose 



44 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



authors boldly and firmly, resting on the in- 
ternal conviction of truth, set themselves to 
oppose the prevailing vices or follies of their 
age, and whose works, in consequence little 
esteemed by their contemporaries, have now 
risen into the purer regions of the moral at- 
mosphere, and now shine, far above the 
changes of mortality, as fixed stars in the 
highest heavens. Of this character is Bacon, 
whose sublime intellect, bursting the fetters 
of a narrow-minded age, outstripped by two 
centuries the progress of the human mind — 
Jeremy Taylor, whose ardent soul, loathing 
the vices of his corrupted contemporaries, 
clothed the lessons of religion in the burning 
words of genius — and Burke, whose earlier 
career, chained in the fetters of party, has now 
been forgotten in the lustre of the original and 
independent thoughts, adverse to the spirit of 
the age, which burst forth in his works on the 
French Revolution. 

In comparing, on subjects of political thought 
or social amelioration, the writings of the school 
of Louis XIV. with that of the Revolution, the 
progress of the human mind appears prodi- 
gious—and so it will speedily appear from the 
quotations which we shall lay before our 
readers. But, in the general comparison of 
the two, there is one thing very remarkable, 
and which is exactly the reverse of what might 
a priori have been expected, and what the ig- 
norant vulgar or party writers still suppose to 
be the case — this is the superior independence 
of thought, and bold declamation against the 
vices of the ruling power in the state, which 
the divines and moralists of the Grande Mo- 
narque exhibit, when compared with the cring- 
ing servility and oriental flattery which the 
writers of the Revolutionary school, whether 
in France or England, have never ceased to 
address to their democratic patrons and rulers 
invested with supreme authority. We need 
not remind our readers what is the language, 
even of able writers and profound thinkers of 
the modern democratic school, in regard to the 
sources of all abuse in government, and the 
quarter from whence alone any social im- 
provement can be expected. It is kings and 
aristocrats who are the origin of all oppres- 
sion and unhappiness; it is their abuses and 
misgovernment which have ever been the real 
causes of public suffering; it is their insatia- 
ble avarice, rapacity, and selfishness which 
have in every age brought misery and desola- 
tion upon the humbler and more virtuous 
members of society. Where, then, is ameliora- 
tion to be looked for? and in what class of 
society is an antidote to be found to the in- 
herent vices and abuses of power? In the 
middle and lower ranks; — it is their virtue, 
intelligence, and patriotism which is the real 
spring of all public prosperity — it is their un- 
ceasing labour and industry which is the 
source of all public wealth — their unshaken 
constancy and courage which is at once the 
only durable foundation of national safety, and 
the prolific fountain of national glory. Princes 
may err, ministers may commit injustice ; but 
the people, when once enlightened by educa- 
tion, and intrusted with power, are never 
wrong — the masses never mistake their real 



interests : their interests are on the side of 
gold government — of them it may truly be 
said, I ii.i popiUi, vox Dei. Such is the language 
which the democratic flatterers of these times 
incessantly address to the popular rulers of the 
state — to the masses by whom popularity and 
eminence is to be won — to the Government by 
whom patronage and power is distributed. 
From such degrading specimens of general 
servility and business, let us refresh our eyes r 
and redeem the honour of human nature, by 
turning to the thundering strains in which 
Bossuet and Fenelon impressed upon their 
courtly auditory and despotic ruler, the eternal 
doctrines of judgment to come, and the stern 
manner in which they traced to the vices or 
follies of princes the greater part of the evils 
which disturb the world. 

It is thus that Fenelon, in the name of Men- 
tor, addresses his royal pupil, the heir of the 
French monarchy: — 

"A king is much less acquainted than pri 
vate individuals with those by whom he is 
surrounded; every one around him has a 
mask on his visage ; every species of artifice 
is exhausted to deceive him — alas ! Tele- 
maque ! you will soon experience this too bit- 
terly. The more extensive the kingdom is 
which you have to govern, the more do you 
stand in need of ministers to assist you in 
your labours, and the more are you exposed 
to the chances of misrepresentation. The ob- 
scurity of private life throws a veil over our 
faults, and magnifies the idea of the powers of 
men; but supreme authority puts the virtues 
to the test, and unveils even the most incon- 
siderable failing; — grandeur is like the glasses 
which magnify all the objects seen through 
them. The whole world is occupied by ob- 
serving a single man, flattering his virtues, 
applauding his vices in his presence, execrat- 
ing them in his absence. Meanwhile, the 
king is but a man ; beset by all the humours, pas- 
sions, and weaknesses of mortality ; surrounded by 
artful flatterers, who have all their objects to 
gain in leading him into vices. Hardly has 
he redeemed one fault, when he falls into, 
another; such is the situation even of the 
most enlightened and virtuous kings ; what 
then must, be the destiny of those who are de- 
praved? 

"The longest and best reigns are frequently 
too short to repair the mischief done, and often 
without intending it at their commencement. 
Royalty is born the heir to all these miseries; 
human weakness often sinks under the load 
by which it is oppressed. Men are to be pitied 
for being placed under the government of one 
as weak and fallible as themselves ; the gods 
alone would be adequate to the due regulation 
of human affairs. Nor are kings less to be 
pitied, being but men ; that is to say, imperfect 
and fallible beings, and charged with the go- 
vernment of an innumerable multitude of cor- 
rupted and deceitful men. 

" The countries in which the authority of the 
sovereign is most absolute, are precisely those 
in which they enjoy least real power. They 
take, they raise every thing; they alone pos- 
sess the state; but meanwhile every class of 
society languishes, the fields are deserted, cities 



BOSSUET. 



45 



decline, commerce disappears. The king, who 
cannot engross in his own person the whole 
state, and who cannot increase in grandeur, 
but with the prosperity of his people, annihi- 
lates himself by degrees by the decay of riches 
and power in his subjects. His dominions 
become bereaved both of wealth and men ; the 
last decline is irreparable. His absolute power 
indeed gives him as many slaves as he has 
subjects; he is flattered, adored, and his 
slightest wish is a law; every one around him 
trembles; but wait till the slightest revolution 
arrives, and that monstrous power, pushed to 
an extravagant excess, cannot endure ; it has 
no foundation in the affections of the people ; 
it has irritated all the members of the state, 
and constrained them all to sigh after a change. 
At the first stroke which it receives, the idol 
is overturned, broken, and trampled under foot. 
Contempt, hatred, fear, resentment, distrust, in 
a word, all the passions conspire against so 
odious an authority. The king who, in his 
vain prosperity, never found a single man suf- 
ficiently bold to tell him the truth, will not find 
in his misfortune a single person either to ex- 
tenuate his faults or defend him against his 
enemies." — Tclemaque, liv. xii. ad fin. 

Passages similar to this abound in all the 
great ecclesiastical writers of the age of Louis 
XIV. and Louis XV. They are to be found 
profusely scattered through the works of Bos- 
suet, Massilon, Fenelon, and Bourdaloue. We 
have many similar passages marked, but the 
pressure of other matters more immediately 
connected with the object of this paper pre- 
cludes their insertion. Now this independence 
and boldness of thought and expression, in 
courtly churchmen, and addressed to a courtly 
auditory, is extremely remarkable. It was to 
the Grande Monarque and his numerous train 
of princes, dukes, peeresses, ladies, and cour- 
tiers, that these eternal, but unpalatable truths 
were addressed ; it was the holders of all the 
•church patronage of France, that were thus 
reminded of the inevitable result of misgo- 
vernment on the part of the ruling power. We 
speak much about the increasing intelligence, 
spirit, and independence of the age ; neverthe- 
less we should like to see the same masculine 
cast of thought, the same caustic severity of 
expression applied to the vices and follies of 
the present holders of power by the expectants 
of their bounty, as was thus fearlessly rung 
into the ears of the despotic rulers of France 
by the titled hierarchy who had been raised to 
greatness by their support. We should like 
to see a candidate for popular suffrage on the 
hustings condemn, in equally unmeasured 
terms, the vices, follies, and passions of the 
people ; or a leading orator on the liberal side, 
portray in as vivid colours, from the Ministe- 
rial benches in the House of Commons, the 
inevitable consequences of democratic selfish- 
ness and injustice; or a favourite preacher on 
the Voluntary system, thunder, in no less for- 
cible language, in the ears of his astonished 
audience, the natural results of fervour and 
intrigue among popular constituencies. Alas ! 
we see none of these things; truth, which did 
venture to make itself heard, when sanctified 
by the Church, in the halls of princes, is ut- 



terly banished from the precincts of the many- 
headed despots ; and religion, which loudly 
proclaimed the universal corruption and weak- 
ness of humanity in the ears of monarchs, can- 
not summon up sufficient courage to meet, in 
their strongholds of power, the equally de- 
praved and selfish masses of the people. 
Aristotle has said that the courtier and the 
demagogue are not only nearly allied to each 
other,, but are in fact the same men, varying not 
in their object, but in the quarter to which, 
according to the frame of government, they 
address their flattery; but this remarkable fact 
would seem to demonstrate that the latter is a 
more thorough and servile courtier than the 
former; and that truth will more rarely be 
found in the assemblies of the multitude than. 
in the halls of princes. 

In truth, the boldness and indignation of 
language conspicuous in the great ornaments 
of the French Church would be altogether in- 
explicable on merely worldly considerations ; 
and accordingly it will never be found among 
the irreligious and selfish flatterers of demo- 
cracy. It is religion alone, which, inspiring 
men with objects and a sense of duty above 
this World, can lead to that contempt of pre- 
sent danger, and that fearless assertion of 
eternal truth, in the presence of power, which 
has formed in every age the noblest attribute 
of the Christian Church. In the temporal 
courtiers of no age or country has there ever 
been found an example of the same courage- 
ous maintenance of principle and castigation 
of crime in defiance of the frowns of authority ; 
these worldly aspirants have ever been as 
servile and submissive to kings as the syco- 
phantish flatterers of a democratic multitude 
have been lavish in the praise of their in- 
tellectual wisdom. And the principle which 
rendered Bossuet and Fenelon the courageous 
assertors of eternal truth in the chapels and 
court of the Grand Monarque, was the same 
as that which inspired Latimer, the martyr of 
the English Church, with such heroic firm- 
ness in resisting the tyrannic injustice of 
Henry VIII. In the midst of the passions and 
cruelty of that blood-stained tyrant, the up- 
right prelate preached a sermon in his pre- 
sence at the Chapel-Royal, condemning, in the 
strongest terms, the very crimes to which 
every one knew the monarch was peculiarly 
addicted. Enraged beyond measure at the re- 
buke thus openly administered to his "plea- 
sant vices," Henry sent for Latimer, and 
threatened him with instant death if he did 
not on the next occasion retract all his cen- 
sures as openly as he had made them. The 
reproof got wind, and on the next Sunday the 
Royal Chapel was crowded with the courtiers, 
eager to hear the terms in which the inflexi- 
ble prelate was to recant his censures on the 
voluptuous tyrant. But Latimer ascended the 
pulpit, and after a long pause, fixing his eye^ 
steadily on Henry, exclaimed, in the quaint 
language of the time, to which its inherent 
dignity has communicated eloquence — " Be- 
think thee, Hugh Latimer! that thou art in 
the presence of thy worldly sovereign, who 
hath power to terminate thy earthly life, and 
cast all thy worldly goods into the flames : But 



46 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



bethink thee also, Hugh Latimer! that thou 
art in the presence of thy Heavenly Father, 
whose right hand is mighty to destroy as to 
save, and who can cast thy soul into hell fire ;" 
and immediately began, in terms even severer 
and more cutting than before, to castigate the 
favourite vices and crimes of his indignant 
sovereign. The issue of the tale was different 
from what the cruel character of the tyrant 
might have led us to expect. Henry, who, 
with all his atrocity, was not on some occa- 
sions destitute of generous sentiments, was 
penetrated by the heroic constancy of the 
venerable prelate, and instead of loading him 
with chains, and sending him, as every one 
expected, to the scaffold, openly expressed his 
admiration of his courage, and took him more 
into favour than ever. 

The philosophical work of Bossuet, which 
has attained to most general celebrity, is his 
" Histoire Universelle ;" and Chateaubriand 
has repeatedly, in his later writings, held it up 
as an unequalled model of religious general- 
ization. We cannot concur in these eulogiums ; 
and in nothing perhaps does the vast progress 
of the human mind, during the last hundred 
and fifty years, appear more conspicuous than 
in comparing this celebrated treatise with the 
works on similar subjects of many men of in- 
ferior intellects in later times. The design of 
the work was grand and imposing; nothing 
less than a sketch of the divine government 
of the world in past ages, and an elucidation 
of the hidden designs of Providence in all the 
past revolutions of mankind. In this magnifi- 
cent attempt he has exhibited a surprising 
extent of erudition, and cast over the com- 
plicated thread of human affairs the eagle 
glance of genius and piety ; but he has not, in 
our humble apprehension, caught the spirit, 
or traced the real thread of divine administra- 
tion. He was too deeply read in the Old Testa- 
ment, too strongly imbued with the Fathers of 
the Church, to apprehend the manner in which 
Supreme Wisdom, without any special or mi- 
raculous interposition, works out the moral 
government of the world, and develops the 
objects of eternal foresight by the agency of 
human passions, virtues, and vices. His His- 
toric Theology is all tinged with the character 
of the Old Testament; it is the God of Battles 
whom he ever sees giving the victory to His 
chosen ; it is His Almighty Arm which he dis- 
cerns operating directly in the rise and the fall 
of nations. Voltaire said with truth that his 
" Universal History" is little more than the 
History of the Jews. It was reserved for a 
future age to discern, in the complicated thread 
of human affairs, the operation not less certain, 
but more impartial, of general laws ; to see in 
human passions the moving springs of social 
improvement, and the hidden instruments of 
human punishment; to discern, in the rise 
and fall of nations, the operation, not so much 
of the active interposition, as of the general 
tendency of Divine power ; and in the efforts 
which the wicked make for their own aggran- 
dizement, or the scope which they afford to 
their own passions, the certain causes of ap- 
proaching retribution. That Providence ex- 
ercises an unceasing superintendence of 



human affairs, and that the consequences of 
public actions are subjected to permanent 
laws, the tendency of which in national, as in 
private life, is to make the virtues or vices of 
men as instruments of their own reward or 
punishment, is obvious upon the most cursory 
survey of history, as well as private life; and 
though it cannot be affirmed that the sequence 
is invariable, yet it is sufficiently frequent to 
warrant certain inferences as to the general 
character of the laws. We cannot affirm that 
every day in summer is to be warm, and every 
day in winter cold ; but nevertheless, the gen- 
eral character of those periods is such as to 
warrant the conclusion that the rotation of the 
season was intended, and in general does pro- 
duce that variation on temperature, and the 
consequent checking and development of the 
fruits of the earth. But, as far as we can dis- 
cern, the intentions of the Supreme Being are 
here, as elsewhere, manifested by general laws ; 
the agents employed are the virtues, vices, and 
passions of men ; and the general plan of 
divine administration is to be gathered rather 
from an attentive consideration of the experi- 
enced consequences of human actions, than 
any occasional interposition to check or sus- 
pend the natural course of events. 

As a specimen of the mode in which Bossuet 
regards the course of events, we subjoin the 
concluding passage of his Universal History: 
— "This long chain of causes and effects, on 
which the fate of empires depends, springs at 
once from the secrets of Divine Providence. 
God holds on high the balance of all kingdoms 
— all hearts are in his hands ; sometimes he 
lets loose the passions — sometimes he re- 
strains them; by these means he moves the 
whole human ra.ee. Does he wish to raise up 
a conqueror — he spreads terror before his 
arms, and inspires his soldiers with invincible 
courage. Does he wish to raise up legislators 
— he pours into their minds the spirit of fore- 
sight and wisdom. He causes them to fore- 
see the evils which menace the state, and lay 
deep in wisdom the foundations of public tran- 
quillity. He knows that human intellect is 
ever contracted in some particulars. He then 
draws the film from its eyes, extends its views,, 
and afterwards abandons it to itself — blinds it,, 
precipitates it to destruction. Its precautions 
become the snare which entraps ; its foresight 
the subtlety which destroys it. It is in this 
way that God exercises his redoubtable judg- 
ments according to the immutable laws of 
eternal justice. It is his invisible hand which 
prepares effects in their most remote causes, 
and strikes the fatal blows, the very rebound 
of which involves nations in destruction. 
When he wishes to pour out the vials of his 
wrath, and overturn empires, all becomes 
weak and vacillating in their conduct. Egypt, 
once so wise, became intoxicated, and faltered 
at every step, because the Most High had 
poured the spirit of madness into its counsels. 
It no longer knew what step to take; it 
faltered, it. perished. But let us not deceive 
ourselves ; God can restore when he pleases the 
blinded vision ; and he who insulted the blind- 
ness of others, himself falls into the most pro- 
found darkness, without any other cause being 



BOSSUET. 



47 



carried into operation to overthrow the longest 
course of prosperity. 

" It is thus that God reigns over all people. 
Let us no longer speak of hazard or fortune, 
or speak of it only as a veil to our weakness — 
an excuse to our ignorance. That which ap- 
pears chance to our uncertain vision is the 
effect of intelligence and design on the part of 
the Most High — of the deliberations of that 
Supreme Council which disposes of all human 
affairs. 

" It is for this reason that the rulers of man- 
kind are ever subjected to a superior force 
which they cannot control. Their actions pro- 
duce greater or lesser effects than they in- 
tended ; their counsels have never failed to be 
attended by unforeseen consequences. Neither 
could they control the effect which the conse- 
quences of former revolutions produced upon 
their actions, nor foresee the course of events 
destined to follow the measures in which they 
themselves were actors. He alone who held 
the thread of human affairs — who knows what 
was, and is, and is to come — foresaw and pre- 
destined the whole in his immutable council. 

"Alexander, in his mighty conquests, in- 
tended neither to labour for his generals, nor 
to ruin his royal house by his conquests. 
When the elder Brutus inspired the Roman 
people with an unbounded passion for free- 
dom, he little thought that he was implanting 
in their minds the seeds of that unbridled li- 
cense, destined one day to induce a tyranny 
more grievous than that of the Tarquins. 
When the Caesars nattered the soldiers with a 
view to their immediate elevation, they had no 
intention of rearing up a militia of tyrants for 
their successors and the empire. In a word, 
there is no human power which has not con- 
tributed, in spite of itself, to other designs than 
its own. God alone is able to reduce all things 
to his own will. Hence it is that every thing 
appears surprising when we regard only secon- 
dary causes ; and, nevertheless, all things ad- 
vance with a regulated, pace. Innumerable 
unforeseen results of human councils con- 
ducted the fortunes of Rome from Romulus 
to Charlemagne." — Discovers sur VHist. Univ. 
ad fin. 

It is impossible to dispute the grandeur of 
the glance which the Eagle of Meaux has cast 
over human affairs in the ancient world. But 
without contesting many of his propositions, 
and, in particular, fully conceding the truth of 
the important observation, that almost all the 
greater public actions of men have been at- 
tended in the end by consequences different 
from, often the reverse of, those which they 
intended, we apprehend that the mode of Di- 
vine superintendence and agency will be found 
to be more correctly portrayed in the following 
passage from Blair — an author, the elegance 
and simplicity of whose diction frequently dis- 
guises the profoundness of his thoughts, and 
the correctness of his observations of human 
affairs : — " The system upon which the Divine 
Government at present proceeds plainly is, 
that men's own weakness should be appointed 
to correct them ; that sinners should be snared 
in the work of their own hand, and sunk in 
the pit which themselves have digged ; that the 



backslider in heart should be filled with his 
own ways. Of all the plans which could be 
devised for the government of the world, this 
approves itself to reason as the wisest and 
most worthy of God ; so to frame the constitu- 
tion of things, that the Divine laws should in 
a manner execute themselves, and carry their 
sanctions in their own bosom. When the 
vices of men require punishment to be in- 
flicted, the Almighty is at no loss for ministers 
of justice. A thousand instruments of ven- 
geance are at his command; innumerable 
arrows are always in his quiver. But such is 
the profound wisdom of his plan, that no pe- 
culiar interposals of power are requisite. He 
has no. occasion to step from his throne, and 
to interrupt the order of nature. With the 
majesty and solemnity which befits Omnipo- 
tence, he pronounces, 'Ephraim has gone to 
his idols : let him alone.' He leaves trans- 
gressors to their own guilt, and punishment 
follows of course. Their sins do the work of 
justice. They lift the scourge ; and with every 
stroke which they inflict on the criminal, they 
mix this severe admonition, that as he is only 
reaping the fruit of his own actions, he de- 
serves all that he suffers." — Blair, iv. 268, 
Serm, 14. 

The most eloquent and original of Bossuet's 
writings is his funeral oration on Henrietta, 
Queen of England, wife of the unfortunate 
Charles I. It was natural that such an occa- 
sion should call forth all his powers, pro- 
nounced as it was on a princess of the blood- 
royal of France, who had undergone unpa- 
ralleled calamities with heroic resignation, the 
fruit of the great religious revolution of the 
age, against which the French prelate had 
exerted all the force of his talents. It exhibits 
accordingly a splendid specimen of genius 
and capacity ; and imbued as we are in this 
Protestant land with the most favourable im- 
pressions of the consequences of this convul- 
sion, it is perhaps not altogether uninstructive 
to observe in what light it was regarded by the 
greatest intellects of the Catholic world, — that 
between the two we may form some estimate 
of the light in which it will be viewed by an 
impartial posterity. 

" Christians !" says he, in the exordium of 
his discourse; "it is not surprising that the 
memory of a great Queen, the daughter, the 
wife, the mother of monarchs, should attract 
you from all quarters to this melancholy cere- 
mony ; it will bring forcibly before your eyes 
one of those awful examples which demon- 
strate' to the world the vanity of which it is 
composed. You. will see in her single life the 
extremes of human things ; felicity without 
bounds, miseries without parallel; a long and 
peaceable enjoyment of one of the most noble 
crowns in the universe, all that birth and gran- 
deur could confer that was glorious, all that 
adversity and suffering could accumulate that 
was disastrous ; the good cause, attended at 
first with some success, then involved in the 
| most dreadful disasters. Revolutions unheard 
I of, rebellion long restrained — at length reign- 
j ing triumphant; no curb there to license, no 
i laws in force. Majesty itself violated by bloody 
! hands, usurpation, and tyranny, under the name 



48 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of liberty — a fugitive Queen, who can find no | 
retreat in her three kingdoms, and was forced j 
to seek in her native country a melancholy ! 
exile. Nine sea voyages undertaken against I 
her will by a Queen, in spUe of wintry tem- 
pests — a throne unworthily overturned, and 
miraculously re-established. Behold the les- 
son which God has given to kings ! thus does 
He manifest to the world the nothingness of 
its pomps and its grandeur ! If our words 
fail, if language sinks beneath the grandeur 
of such a subject, the simple narrative is more 
touching than aught that words can convey. 
The heart of a great Queen, formerly elevated 
by so long a course of prosperity, then steeped 
in all the bitterness of affliction, will speak in 
sufficiently touching language ; and if it is not 
given to a private individual to teach the 
proper lessons from so mournful a catastrophe, 
the King of Israel has supplied the words — 
1 Hear ! Oh ye Great of the Earth !— Take les- 
sons, ye Rulers of the World !' 

" But the wise and devout Princess, whose 
obsequies we celebrate, has not merely been a 
spectacle exhibited to the world in order that 
men might learn the counsels of Divine Pro- 
vidence, and the fatal revolutions of monar- 
chies. She took counsel herself from the ca- 
lamities in which she was involved, while 
God was instructing kings by her example. 
It is by giving and withdrawing power that 
God communicates his lessons to kings. The 
Queen we mourn has equally listened to the 
voice of these two opposite monitors. She 
has made use, like a Christian, alike of pros- 
perous and adverse fortune. In the first she 
was beneficent, in the last invincible; as long 
as she was fortunate, she let her power be felt 
only by her unbounded deeds of goodness ; 
when wrapt in misery, she enriched herself 
more than ever by the heroic virtues befitting 
misfortune. For her own good, she has lost 
that sovereign power which she formerly ex- 
ercised only for the blessings of her subjects; 
and if her friends — if the universal church 
have profited by her prosperities, she herself 
has profited more from her calamities than 
from all her previous grandeur. That is the 
great lesson to be drawn from the ever-memo- 
rable life of Henrietta Maria of France, Queen 
of Great Britain. 

" I need not dwell on the illustrious birth of 
that Princess ; no rank on earth equals it in 
lustre. Her virtues have been not less re- 
markable than her descent. She was endowed 
with a generosity truly royal ; of a truth, it 
might be said, that she deemed every thing 
lost which was not given away. Nor were 
her other virtues less admirable. The faithful 
depositary of many important complaints and 
secrets — it was her favourite maxim that 
princes should observe the same silence as 
confessors, and exercise the same discretion. 
In the utmost fury of the Civil Wars never 
was her word doubted, or her clemency called 
in question. Who has so nobly exercised that 
winning art which humbles without lowering 
itself, and confers so graciously liberty, while 
it commands respect? At once mild yet firm — 
condescending, yet dignified — she knew at the 
*ame time how to convince and persuade, and 



to support by reason, rather than enforce by 
authority. With what prudence did she con- 
duet herself in circumstances the most ar- 
duous ; if a skilful hand could have saved the 
state, hers was the one to have done it. Her 
magnanimity can never be sufficiently extolled. 
Fortune had no power over her; neither the 
evils which she foresaw, nor those by which 
she was surprised, could lower her courage. 
What shall I say to her immovable fidelity to 
the religion of her ancestors 1 She knew well 
that that attachment constituted the glory of 
her house, as well as of the whole of France, 
sole nation in the world which, during the 
twelve centuries of its existence, has never 
seen on the throne but the faithful children of 
the church. Uniformly she declared that no- 
thing should detach her from the faith of St. 
Louis. The King, her husband, has pro- 
nounced upon her the noblest of all eulogiums, 
that their hearts were in union in all but the 
matter of religion ; and confirming by his tes- 
timony the piety of the Queen, that enlightened 
Prince has made known to all the world at 
once his tenderness, his conjugal attachment, 
and the sacred, inviolable fidelity of his in- 
comparable spouse." 

All the w r orld must admire the sustained 
dignity of this noble eulogium; but touching 
as were the misfortunes, heroic the character, 
of the unfortunate Henrietta, it more nearly 
concerns us to attend to the opinion of Bossuet 
on the great theological convulsion, in the 
throes of which she was swallowed up. 

" When God permits the smoke to arise from 
the pits of the abyss which darkens the face 
of Heaven — that is, when he suffers heresy to 
arise — when, to punish the scandals of the 
church, or awaken the piety of the people and 
their pastors, He permits the darkness of error 
to deceive the most elevated minds, and to 
spread abroad throughout the world a haughty 
chagrin, a disquieted curiosity, a spirit of re- 
volt, He determines, in his infinite wisdom, 
the limits which are to be imposed to the pro- 
gress of error, the stay which is to be put to 
the sufferings of the church. I do not pretend 
to announce to you, Christians, the destiny of 
the heresies of our times, nor to be able to 
assign the fatal boundary by which God has 
restrained their course. But if my judgment 
does not deceive me ; if, recurring to the his- 
tory of past ages, I rightly apply their experi- 
ence to the present, I am led to the opinion, 
and the wisest of men concur in. the sentiment, 
that the days of blindness arc past, and that the 
time is approaching when the true light will return. 

" When Henry VIII., a prince in other re- 
spects so accomplished, was seduced by the 
passions which blinded Solomon and so many 
other kings, and began to shake the authority 
of the Church, the wise warned him, that if he 
stirred that one point, he would throw the 
whole fabric of government into peril, and in- 
fuse, in opposition to his wishes, a frightful 
license into future ages. The wise forewarned 
him ; but when is passion controlled by wis- 
dom ; when does not folly smile at its predic- 
tions 1 That, however, which a prudent fore- 
sight could not persuade to men, a ruder in- 
structor, experience, has compelled them to 



BOSSUET. 



4? 



believe. All that religion has that is most sa- 
cred has been sacrificed ; England has changed 
so far that it no longer can recognise itself; 
and, more agitated in its bosom and on its own 
soil than even the ocean which surrounds it, 
it has been overwhelmed by a frightful inun- 
dation of innumerable absurd, sects. Who can 
predict but what, repenting of its enormous 
errors concerning Government, it may not ex- 
tend its reflections still farther, and look back 
with fond regret to the tranquil condition of re- 
ligious thought which preceded the convul- 
sions?" 

Amidst all this pomp of language, and this 
sagacious intermixture of political foresight 
with religious prepossession, there is one re- 
flection which necessarily forces itself upon 
the mind. Bossuet conceived, and conceived 
justly, that the frightful atrocities into which 
religious dissension had precipitated the Eng- 
lish people would produce a geineral reaction 
against the theological fervour from which 
they had originated; and that the days of ex- 
travagant fervour were numbered, from the 
very extent of the general suffering which its 
aberrations had occasioned. In arriving at 
this conclusion, he correctly reasoned from 
the past to the present ; and foretold a decline 
in false opinion, from the woful consequences 
which Providence had attached to its continu- 
ance. Yet how widely did he err when he 
imagined that the days of the Reformation 
were numbered, or that England, relapsing 
into the quiet despotism of former days, was 
to fall back again into the arms of the Eternal 
Church ! At that very moment the broad and 
deep foundations of British freedom were in 
the act of being laid, and that power was aris- 
ing, destined in future ages to be the bulwark 
of the Protestant faith, the vehicle of pure un- 
dented religion to the remotest corners of the 
earth. The great theological convulsions of 
fne sixteenth century were working out their 
appropriate fruits; a new world was peopling 
by its energy, and rising into existence from 
its spirit; and from the oppressed and dis- 
tracted shores of England those hosts of emi- 
grants were embarking for distant regions, 
who were destined, at no remote period, to 
spread the Church of England and the Pro- 
testant faith through the countless millions of 
the American race. The errors, indeed the 
passions, the absurdities of that unhappy pe- 
riod, as Bossuet rightly conjectured, have 
passed away; the Fifth Monarchy men no 
longer disturb the plains of England; the 
- -chants of the Covenanters are no longer heard 
on the mountains of Scotland; transferred to 
the faithful record of history or the classic 
pages of romance, these relics of the olden 
time only furnish a heart-stirring subject for 
the talents of the historian or the genius of the 
novelist. But the human mind never falls 
back, though it often halts in its course. Ves- 
tigia nulla reirursum is the law of social affairs 
not less than of the fabled descent to the 
shades below; the descendants of the Puritans 
and the Covenanters have abjured the absur- 
dities of their fathers, but they have not re- 
lapsed into the chains of Popery. Purified of 
its corruptions by the indignant voice of in- 
7 



surgent reason, freed from its absurdities by 
the experience of the calamities with which 
they were attended, the fair form of Catholic 
Christianity has arisen in the British Isles; 
imbued with the spirit of the universal Church, 
but destitute of the rancour of its deluded sec- 
taries; borrowing from the religion of Rome 
its charity, adopting from the Lutheran Church 
its morality; sharing with reason its intellec- 
tual triumphs, inheriting from faith its spiri- 
tual constancy, not disdaining the support of 
ages, and yet not excluding the light of time ; 
glorying in the antiquity of its descent, and, 
at the same time, admitting the necessity of 
recent reformation; it has approached as near 
as the weakness of humanity, and the limited 
extent of our present vision will permit, to 
that model of ideal perfection which, veiled in 
the silver robes of innocence, the faithful trust 
is one day to pervade the earth. And if pre- 
sent appearances justify any presentiment? as 
to future events, the destinies of this church 
are worthy of the mighty collision of antiqui- 
ty with revolution, of the independence of 
thought with the reverence for authority, from 
which it arose, and the vast part assigned to 
it in human affairs. The glories of the Eng- 
lish nation, the triumphs of the English navy, 
have been the pioneers of its progress ; the in- 
fidel triumphs of the French Revolution, the 
victorious career of Napoleon, have minister- 
ed to its success ; it is indissolubly wound up 
with the progress of the Anglo-American race; 
it is spreading over the wilds of Australia; 
slowly but steadily it is invading the primeval 
deserts of Africa. It shares the destiny of the 
language of Milton, Shakspeare, and Scott; it 
must grow with the growth of a colonial em- 
pire which encircles the earth ; the invention 
of printing, the discovery of steam navigation, 
are the vehicles of its mercies to mankind ! 

" I have spoken," says Bossuet, " of the 
license into which the human mind is thrown, 
when once the foundations of religion are 
shaken, and the ancient landmarks are re- 
moved. 

" But as the subject of the present discourse 
affords so unique and memorable an example 
for the instruction of all ages of the lengths to 
which such furious passions will lead th#peo- 
ple, I must, in justice to my subject, recur to 
the original sources of error, and conduct you, 
step by step, from the first contempt and dis- 
regard of the church to the final atrocities in 
which it has plunged mankind. 

" The fountain of the whole evil is to be 
found in those in the last century, who at- 
tempted reformation by means of schism ; 
finding the church an invincible barrier against' 
all their innovations, they felt themselves under 
the necessity of overturning it. Thus the 
decrees of the Councils, the doctrines of the 
fathers, the traditions of the Holy See, and of • 
the Catholic Church, have been no longer con- 
sidered as sacred and inviolable. Every one 
has made for himself a tribunal, where he 
rendered himself the arbiter of his own belief; 
and yet the innovators did impose some limits 
to the changes of thought by restraining them 
within the bounds of holy writ, as if the mo- 
ment that the principle is once admitted that 
E 



50 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



every believer may put what interpretations 
upon its passages he pleases, and buoy him- 
self up with the belief that the Holy Spirit has 
dictated to him his own peculiar explanation, 
there is no individual who may not at once 
conceive himself authorized to worship his 
own inventions, to consecrate his thoughts, 
and call the wanderings of his imagination 
divine inspiration. From the moment this 
fatal doctrine was introduced, it was distinctly 
foreseen by the wise that license of thought 
being now emancipated from all control, sects 
would multiply ad infinitum; obstinacy become 
invincible; disputes interminable; and that, 
while some would give to their reveries the 
name of inspiration, others, disgusted with 
such extravagant visions, and not being able 
to reconcile the majesty of religion with a 
faith torn by so many divisions, would seek a 
fatal repose in the indifference of irreligion, or 
the hardihood of atheism. 

" Such, and more fatal still, have been the 
natural effects of the new doctrine. But, in 
like manner, as a stream which has burst its 
banks does not everywhere produce the same 
ravages, because its rapidity does not find 
everywhere the same inclinations and open- 
ings, thus, although that spirit of indocility 
and independence was generally diffused 
through all the heresies of latter times, it has 
not produced universally the same effects ; it 
has in many quarters been restrained by fear, 
worldly interests, and the particular humour 
of nations, or by the Supreme Power, which 
can impose, where it seems good, effectual 
limits even to the utmost extravagance of hu- 
man passion. If it has appeared in undis- 
guised malignity in England — if its malignity 
has declared itself without reserve — if its kings 
have perished under its fury, it is because its 
kings have been the primary causes of the 
catastrophe. They have yielded too much to 
the popular delusion that the ancient religion 
was susceptible of improvement. Their sub- 
jects have in consequence ceased to revere its 
maxims ; they could have no respect for it 
when they saw them daily giving place to the 
passions and caprices of princes. The earth, 
too frequently moved, has become incapable 
of consistence ; the mountains, once so stable, 
have fallen on all sides, and ghastly preci- 
pices have started forth from their bared 
sides. I apply these remarks to all the fright- 
ful aberrations which we daily see rising up 
around us. Be not deluded with the idea ihat 
they are only a quarrel of the Episcopacy, or 
some disputes of the English Church, which 
have so profoundly moved the Commons. 
These disputes were nothing but the feeble 
commencement, slight essays by which the 
turbulent spirits made trial of their liberty. 
Something much more violent was stirring 
their hearts ; a secret disgust at all authority 
— an insatiable craving after innovation, after 
they had once tasted its delicious sweets. 

" Thus the Calvinists, more bold than the 
Lutherans, have paved the way for the Soci- 
nians, whose numbers increase every day. 
From the same source have sprung the infinite 
sects of the Anabaptists, and from their opi- 
aions, mingled with the tenets of Calvinism, 



have sprung the Independents, to whose ex- 
travagances it was thought no parallel could 
be found till there emerged out of their bosom 
a still more fanatic race, the Tremblers, who 
believe that all their reveries are Divine in- 
spiration ; and the Seekers, who, seventeen 
hundred years after Christ, still look for the 
Saviour, whom they have never yet been able 
to find. It is thus, that when the earth was 
once stirred, ruins fell on ruins ; when opinion 
was once shaken, sect multiplied upon sect. 
In vain the kings of England flattered them- 
selves that they would be able to arrest the 
human mind on this perilous declivity by pre- 
serving the Episcopacy; for what could the 
bishops do, when they had themselves under- 
mined their own authority, and all the reve- 
rence due to the power which they derived by 
succession from the apostolic ages, by openly 
condemning their predecessors, even as far 
back as the origin of their spiritual authorit)*-, 
in the person of St. Gregory and his disciple 
St. Augustin, the first apostle of the English 
nation 1 What is Episcopacj', when it is 
severed from the Church, which is its main 
stay, to attach itself, contrary to its divine na- 
ture, to royalty as its supreme head] Thus 
two powers, of a character so essentially dif- 
ferent, can never properly unite ; their func- 
tions are so different that they mutually impede 
each ; and the majesty of the kings of Eng- 
land would have remained inviolable, if, con- 
tent with its sacred rights, it had not endea- 
voured to draw to itself the privileges and 
prerogatives of the Church. Thus nothing 
has arrested the violence of the spirit, so fruit- 
ful is error ; and God, to punish the irreligious 
irritability of his people, has delivered them 
over to the intemperance of their own vain 
curiosity, so that the ardour of their insensate 
disputes has become the most dangerous of 
their maladies. 

" Can we be surprised if the)' - lost all respect 
for majesty and the laws, if they became fac- 
tious, rebellious, and obstinate, when such 
principles were instilled into their minds 1 Re- 
ligion is fatally enervated when it is changed; 
the weight is taken away which can alone 
restrain mankind. There is in the bottom of 
every heart a rebellious spirit, which never 
fails to escape if the necessary restraint is 
taken away ; no curb is left when men are 
once taught that they may dispose at pleasure 
of religion. Thence has sprung that pretended 
reign of Christ, heretofore unknown to Christ- 
endom, which was destined to annihilate roy- 
alty, and render all men equal, under the 
name of Independents; a seditious dream, an 
impious and sacrilegious chimera; but valu- 
able as a proof of the eternal truth, that every 
thing turns to sedition and treason, when once 
the authority of religion is destroyed. But 
why seek for proofs of a truth, while the Divine 
Spirit has pronounced upon the subject an 
unalterable sentence? God has himself de- 
clared that he will withdraw from the people 
who alter the religion which he has establish- 
ed, and deliver them over to the scourge of 
civil war. Hear the prophet Zacharias ! 
' Their souls, saith the Lord, have swerved 
from me, and I have said I will no longer be 



BOSSUET. 



your shepherd ; let him who is to die prepare 
for death ; let he who is to be cut off perish, 
and the remainder shall prey on each other's 
flesh.' "* — BoSsuet's Orais. Funcb. de la Reine 
d* Anglcterre. 

The character and the career of the triumph 
of Cromwell are thus sketched out by the 
same master-hand : — 

"Contempt of the unity of the Church was 
doubtless the cause of the divisions of Eng- 
land. If it is asked how it happened that so 
many opposite and irreconcilable sects should 
have united themselves to overthrow the royal 
authority'? the answer is plain — a man arose 
of an incredible depth of thought ; as profound 
a hypocrite as he was a skilful politician; 
capable alike of undertaking and concealing 
every thing ; active and indefatigable equally 
in peace as war ; so vigilant and active, that 
he has never proved awanting to any oppor- 
tunity which presented itself to his elevation ; 
in fine, one of those stirring and audacious 
spirits which seem born to overturn the world. 
How hazardous the fate of such persons is, 
sufficiently appears from the history of all 
ages. But also what can they not accomplish 
when it pleases God to make use of them for 
his purposes 1 ' It was given to him to deceive 
the people, and to prevail against kings.' t 
Perceiving that in that infinite assembly of 
sects, who were destitute of all certain rules, 
the pleasure of indulging in their own dogmas 
w r as the secret charm which fascinated all 
minds, he contrived to play upon that mon- 
strous propensity so as to render that monstrous 
assembly a most formidable body. When once 
the secret is discovered of leading the multitude 
by the attractions of liberty, it follows blindly, be- 
cause it hears only that name. The people, oc- 
cupied with the first object which had trans- 
ported them, go blindfold on, without perceiving 
that the) r are on the high road to servitude ; 
and their subtle conductor, at once a soldier, a 
preacher, a combatant, and a dogmatizer, so 
enchanted the world, that he came to be re- 
garded as a chief sent by God to work out the 
triumph of the cause of independence. He 
was so ; but it was for its punishment. The 
design of the Almighty was to instruct kings, 
by this great example, in the danger of leaving 
his church: He wished to unfold to men to 
what lengths, both in temporal and spiritual 
matters, the rebellious spirit of schism can 
lead; and when, in order to accomplish this 
end, he has made choice of an instrument, 
nothing can arrest his course. 'I am the 
Lord,' said he, by the mouth of his prophet 
Jeremiah ; ' I made the earth, and all that 
therein is : I place it in the hands of whom I 
will.' "— Ibid. 

It is curious to those who reflect on the pro- 



* Zech. xi. 9. 



+ Rev. xiii. 5. 



gress of the human mind from one age to- 
another, to observe the large intermixture of 
error with truth that pervades this remarkable 
passage. It is clear that the powerful and 
sagacious mind of the Bishop of Meaux had 
penetrated the real nature of the revolutionary 
spirit, whether in religion or politics ; and, ac- 
cordingly, there is, a great deal of truth in his 
observations on the English Revolution. But 
he narrows too much the view which he took 
of it. He ascribes more than its due to the 
secession from the Church of Rome. No one 
can doubt, indeed, that religious fervour was 
the great lever which then moved mankind; 
and that Bossuet was correct in holding that 
it was the fervour of the Reformation running' 
into fanaticism, which, spreading from spiritual 
to temporal concerns, produced the horrors of 
the Great Rebellion. But, on the other hand, 
the event has proved that it was no part of the 
design of Providence to compel the English, 
by the experience of suffering, to fall again, 
into the arms of the Church of Rome. An 
hundred and seventy years have elapsed since 
Bossuet composed these splendid passages, 
and the Church of England is not only still 
undecayed, but it is flourishing now in reno- 
vated youth, and has spread its colonial de-' 
scendants through every part of the earth- 
The Church of Rome still holds its ground in 
more than half of old Europe ; but Protestant- 
ism has spread with the efforts of colonial en- 
terprise, and the Bible and the hatchet have' 
gone hand in hand in exploring the wilds of 
the New World. And the hand of Providence 
is equally clear in both. Catholicism is suited 
to the stately monarchies, antiquated civiliza- 
tion, and slavish habits of Southern Europe; 
but it is totally unfit to animate the exertions 
and inspire the spirit of the dauntless emi- 
grants who are to spread the seeds of civiliza- 
tion through the wilderness of nature. And 
one thing is very remarkable, and affords a 
striking illustration of that subjection of humart 
affairs to an overruling Providence which Bos- 
suet has so eloquently asserted in all parts of 
his writings. Mr. Hume has observed that the 
marriage of Queen Henrietta to Charles I., by 
the partiality for the Catholic faith which it 
infused into his descendants, is the principal 
reason of their being at this moment exiles 
from the British throne! It was deemed at 
the time a masterpiece of the Court of Rome 
to place a Catholic Queen on the throne of 
England; and the conversion of that bright' 
jewel to the tiara of St. Peter was confidently- 
anticipated from its effects; and its ultimate' 
results have been not only to confirm the Pro-^ 
testant faith in the British isles, but diffuse it's 
seed, by the distraction and suffering of the 
Civil Wars, through the boundless colonial 
empire of Great Britain. 



52 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



POLAND.* 



* 



The recent events in Poland have awakened 
the old and but half-extinguished interest of the 
British people in the fate of that unhappy 
country. The French may regard the Polish 
legions as the vanguard only of revolutionary 
movement: the Radicals may hail their strug- 
gle as the first fruits of political regeneration: 
the great majority of observers in this country 
think of them only as a gallant people, bravely 
combating for their independence, and forget 
the shades of political difference in the great 
cause of national freedom. The sympathy 
with the Poles, accordingly, is universal. It 
is as strong with the Tories as the Whigs, with 
the supporters of antiquated abuse as the aspi- 
rants after modern improvement. Political 
considerations combine with generous feeling 
in this general interest. And numbers who 
regard with aversion any approach towards 
revolutionary warfare, yet view it with com- 
placency when it seems destined to interpose 
Sarmatian valour between European indepen- 
dence and Muscovite ambition. 

The history of Poland, however, contains 
more subjects of interest than this. It is fraught 
with political instruction as well as romantic 
adventure, and exhibits on a great scale the 
consequences of that democratic equality 
which, with uninformed politicians, is so much 
the object of eulogium. The French revolu- 
tionists, who s) r mpathize so vehemently with 
the Poles in their contest with Russian despot- 
ism, little imagine that the misfortunes of that 
country are the result of that very equality 
which they have made such sacrifices to at- 
tain; and that in the weakness of Poland may 
be discerned the consequences of the political 
system which they consider as the perfection 
of society. 

Poland, in ancient, possessed very much the 
extent and dominion of Russia in Europe in 
modern times. It stretched from the Baltic to 
the Euxine ; from Smolensk© to Bohemia ; and 
embraced within its bosom the whole Scythia 
of antiquity — the storehouse of nations, from 
whence the hordes issued who so long pressed 
upon and at last overthrew the Roman empire. 
Its inhabitants have in ever) r age been cele- 
brated for their heroic valour : they twice, in 
conjunction with the Tartars, captured the 
ancient capital of Russia, and the conflagration 
of Moscow, and retreat of Napoleon, were but 
the repetition of what had resulted five centu- 
ries before from the appearance of the Polish 
eagles on the banks of the Moskwa. Placed 
on the frontiers of European civilization, they 
long formed its barrier against barbarian inva- 
sion : and the most desperate wars they ever 
maintained were those which they had to 
carry on with their own subjects, the Cossacks 
of the Ukraine, whose roving habits and pre- 



* Salvanrty's Histoire de la Polorrne, 3 vols. Paris, 1830. 
Reviewed in Blackwood's Magazine, Aug. 1831. Writ- 
! en during the Polish war. 



datory life disdained the restraints of regular 
government. When we read the accounts of 
the terrible struggles they maintained with the 
great insurrection of these formidable hordes 
under Bogdan, in the 17th century, we are 
transported to the days of Scythian warfare, 
and recognise the features of that dreadful 
invasion of the Sarmatian tribes, which the 
genius of Marius averted from the Roman 
republic. 

Nor has the military spirit of the people de- 
clined in modern times. The victories of 
Sobieski, the deliverance of Vienna, seem 
rather the fiction of romance than the records 
of real achievement. No victory so glorious 
as that of Kotzim had been gained by Chris- 
tendom over the Saracens since the triumphs 
of Richard on the field of Ascalon : And the 
tide of Mahommedan conquest would have 
rolled resistlessly over the plains of Germany, 
even in the reign of Louis XIV., if it had not 
been arrested by the Polish hero under the 
walls of Vienna. Napoleon said it was the 
peculiar quality of the Polanders to form sol- 
diers more rapidly than any other people. 
And their exploits in the Italian and Spanish 
campaigns justified the high eulogium and 
avowed partiality of that great commander. 
No swords cut deeper than theirs in the Rus- 
sian ranks during the campaign of 1812, and 
alone, amidst universal defection, they main- 
tained their faith inviolate in the rout at Leip- 
sic. But for the hesitation of the French em- 
peror in restoring their independence, the 
whole strength of the kingdom would have 
been roused on the invasion of Russia; and 
had this been done, had the Polish monarchy 
formed the support of French ambition, the 
history of the world might have been changed; 

"From Fate's dark book one leaf been torn, 
And Flodden had been Bannockbum." 

How, then, has it happened that a country 
of such immense extent, inhabited by so martial 
a people, whose strength on great occasions 
was equal to such achievements, should in 
every age have been so unfortunate; that their 
victories should have led to no result, and 
their valour so often proved inadequate to 
save their country from dismemberment ] The 
plaintive motto, Quomodo .Lapsus ; Quid feci, 
may with still more justice be applied to the 
fortunes of Poland than the fall of the Court- 
enays. "Always combating," says Salvandy, 
" frequently victorious, they never gained an 
accession of territory, and were generally 
glad to terminate a glorious contest by a 
cession of the ancient provinces of the re- 
public." 

Superficial observers will answer, that it 
was the elective form of government; their 
unfortunate situation in the midst of military 
powers, and the absence of any chain of moun- 
tains to form the refuge of unfortunate patriot- 



POLAND. 



53 



ism. But a closer examination will demon- 
strate that these causes were not sufficient to 
explain the phenomenon ; and that the scries 
of disasters which have so long overwhelmed 
the monarchy, have arisen from a more per- 
manent and lasting cause than either their 
physical situation or elective government. 

The Polish crown has not always been 
elective. For two hundred and twenty years 
they were governed by the race of the Jagellons 
with as much regularity as the Plantagenets 
of England ; and yet, during that dynast)'-, the 
losses of the republic were fully as great as in 
the subsequent periods. Prussia is as flat, 
and incomparably more sterile than Poland, 
and, with not a third of the territory, it is 
equally exposed to the ambition of its neigh- 
bours : Yet Prussia, so far from being the 
subject of partition, has steadily increased in 
territory and population, and now numbers 
fifteen millions of souls in her dominion. The 
fields of Poland, as rich and fertile as those of 
Flanders, seem the prey of every invader, 
while the patriotism of the Flemings has 
studded their plains with defensive fortresses 
which have secured their independence, not- 
withstanding the vicinity of the most ambitious 
and powerful monarchy in Europe. 

The real cause of the never-ending disasters 
of Poland, is to be found in the democratic 
equality, which, from the remotest ages, has 
prevailed in the country. The elective form 
of government was the consequence of this 
principle in their constitution, which has de- 
scended to them from Scythian freedom, and 
has entailed upon the state disasters worse 
than the whirlwind of Scythian invasion. 

"It is a mistake," says Salvand) r , "to sup- 
pose that the representative form of govern- 
ment was found in the woods of Germany. 
What was found in the woods was Polish 
equality, which has descended unimpaired in 
all the parts of that vast monarchy to the present 
times.* It was not to our Scythian ancestors, 
but the early councils of the Christian church, 
that we are indebted for the first example of 
representative assemblies." In these words 
of great and philosophic importance is to be 
found the real origin of the disasters of Poland. 

The principle of government, from the earli- 
est times in Poland, was, that every free man 
had an equal right to the administration of 
public affairs, and that he was entitled to ex- 
ercise this right, not by representation, but in 
person. The result of this was, that the whole 
freemen of the country constituted the real 
government; and the diets were attended by 
an hundred thousand horsemen ; the great ma- 
jority of whom were, of course, ignorant, and 
in necessitous circumstances, while all were 
penetrated with an equal sense of their im- 
portance as members of the Polish state. The 
convocation of these tumultuous assemblies 
was almost invariably the signal for murder 
and disorder. Thirty or forty thousand lackeys, 
in the service of the nobles, but still possess- 
ing the rights of freemen, followed their mas- 
ters to the place of meeting, and were ever 
ready to support their ambition by military 

* Salvandy, vol. i. Tableau Ilistorique. 



violence, while the unfortunate natives, eat 
up by such an enormous assemblage of armed 
men, regarded the convocation of the citizens 
in the same light as the inhabitants of the 
Grecian city did the invasion of Xerxes, whose 
hordes had consumed every thing eatable in 
their territory at breakfast, when they re- 
turned thanks to the gods that he had not 
dined in their neighbourhood, or every living 
creature would have perished. 

So far did the Poles carry this equality 
among all the free citizens, that by an original 
and fundamental law, called the Liberum Veto, 
any one member of the diet, by simply inter- 
posing his negative, could stop the election of 
the sovereign, or any other measure the most 
essential to the public welfare. Of course, in 
so immense a multitude, some were always to 
be found fractious or venal enough to exercise 
this dangerous power, either from individual 
perversity; the influence of external corrup- 
tion, or internal ambition; and hence the 
numerous. occasions on which diets, assembled 
for the most important purposes, were broken 
up without having come to any determination, 
and the Republic left a prey to anarchy, at the 
time when it stood most in need of the unani- 
mous support of its members. It is a striking 
proof how easily men are deluded by this 
phantom of general equality, when it is re- 
collected that this ruinous privilege has, not 
only in every age, been clung to as the Magna 
Chart a of Poland, but that the native historians, 
recounting distant events, speak of any in- 
fringement upon it as the most fatal measure 
that could possibly be figured, to the liberties 
and welfare of the country. 

All human institutions, however, must be 
subject to some check, which renders it 
practicable to get through business on urgent 
occasions, in spite of individual opposition. 
The Poles held it utterly at variance with 
every principle of freedom to bind any free 
man by a law to which he had not consented. 
The principle, that the majority could bind the 
minority, seemed to them inconsistent with 
the most elementary ideas of liberty. To get 
quit of the difficulty, they commonly massacred 
the recusant ; and this appeared, in their eyes, 
a much less serious violation of freedom than 
out-voting him; because, said they, instances 
of violence are few, and do not go beyond the 
individual sufferers ; but when once the rulers 
establish that the majority can compel the 
minority to yield, no man has any security 
against the violation of his freedom. 

Extremes meet. It is curious to observe 
how exactly the violation of freedom by po- 
pular folly coincides in its effect with its ex- 
tinction by despotic power. The bow-string 
in the Seraglio, and assassination at St. Peters- 
burg, are the limitations on arbitrary power in 
these despotic states. Popular murders were 
the means of restraining the exorbitant liberty 
of the Poles within the limits necessary for the 
maintenance of the forms even of regular 
government. Strange, as Salvandy has well 
observed, that the nation the most jealous of 
its liberty, should, at the same time adhere to 
a custom of all others the most desti active to- 
freedom ; and that, to avoid the government 
e2 



64 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of one, they should submit to the despotism 
of all! 

It was this original and fatal passion for 
equality, which has in every age proved fatal 
to Polish independence — which has paralyzed 
all the valour of her people, and all the en- 
thusiasm of her character — and rendered the 
most warlike nation in Europe the most un- 
fortunate. The measures of its government 
partook of the unstable and vacillating cha- 
racter of all popular assemblages. Bursts of 
patriotism were succeeded by periods of dejec- 
tion ; and the endless changes in the objects 
of popular inclination, rendered it impracti- 
cable to pursue any steady object, or adhere, 
through all the varieties of fortune, to one uni- 
form system for the good of the state. Their 
wars exactly resembled the contests in La 
"Vendee, where, a week after the most glorious 
successes, the victorious arm}' - was dissolved, 
and the leaders wandering with a few fol- 
lowers in the woods. At the battle of Kotzim, 
Sobieski commanded 40,000 men, the most 
regular army which for centuries Poland had 
sent into the field ; at their head, he stormed 
the Turkish entrenchments, though defended 
by 80,000 veterans, and 300 pieces of cannon ; 
lie routed that mighty host, slew 50,000 men, 
and carried the Polish ensigns in triumph to 
the banks of the Danube. But while Europe 
resounded with his praises, and expected the 
deliverance of the Greek empire from his 
exertions, his army dissolved — the troops re- 
turned to their homes — and the invincible 
conqueror was barely able, with a few thou- 
sand men, to keep the field. 

Placed on the frontiers of Europe and Asia, 
the Polish character and history have partaken 
largely of the effects of the institutions of both 
these quarters of the globe. Their passion 
for equality, their spirit of freedom, their na- 
tional assemblages, unite them to European 
independence; their unstable fortune, per- 
petual vacillation, and chequered annals, par- 
take of the character of Asiatic adventure. 
While the states by whom they are surrounded, 
have shared in the steady progress of Euro- 
pean civilization, the Polish monarchy has 
been distinguished by the extraordinary vicis- 
situdes of Eastern story. Elevated to the 
clouds during periods of heroic adventure, it 
has sunk to nothing upon the death of a single 
chief; the republic which had recently carried 
its arms in triumph to the neighbouring capi- 
tals, was soon struggling for its existence with 
a contemptible enemy; and the bulwark of 
Christendom in one age, was in the next razed 
from the book of nations. 

Would we discover the cause of this vacil- 
lation, of which the deplorable consequences 
are now so strongly exemplified, we shall find 
it in the passion for equality which appears in 
every stage of their history, and of which M. 
Salvandy, a liberal historian, has given a pow- 
erful picture : — 

"The proscription of their greatest princes," 
says he, " and, after their death, the calumnies 
of posterity, faithfully echoing the follies of 
contemporaries, have destroyed all those who 
in different ages have endeavoured, in Poland, 
to create a solid or protecting power. Nothing 



is more extraordinary than to hear the modern 
annalists of that unfortunate people, whatever 
their country or doctrine may be, mechanically 
repeat all the national outcry against what they 
call their despotic tyrants. Facts speak in 
vain against such prejudices. In the eyes of 
the Poles, nothing was worthy of preservation 
in their country but liberty and equality ; — a high- 
sounding expression, which the French Revo- 
lution had not the glory of inventing, nor its 
authors the wisdom to apply more judiciously. 

" Contrary to what has occurred everywhere 
else in the world, the Poles have never been 
at rest but under the rule of feeble monarchs. 
Great and vigorous kings were uniformly the 
first to perish ; they have always sunk under 
vain attempts to accustom an independent no- 
bility to the restraints of authority, or soften to 
their slaves the yoke of bondage. Thus the 
royal authority, which elsewhere expanded on 
the ruins of the feudal system, has in Poland 
only become weaker with the progress of time. 
All the efforts of its monarchs to enlarge their 
prerogative have been shattered against a 
compact, independent, courageous body of 
freemen, who, in resisting such attempts, have 
never either been weakened by division nor 
intimidated by menace. In their passion for 
equality, in their jealous independence, they 
were unwilling even to admit any distinction 
between each other; they long and haughtily 
rejected the titles of honour of foreign states, 
and even till the last age, refused to recognise 
those hereditary distinctions and oppressive 
privileges, which are now so fast disappear- 
ing from the face of society. They even went 
so far as to insist that one, in matters of de- 
liberation, should be equal to all. The crown 
was thus constantly at war with a democracy 
of nobles. The dynast)' of the Piasts strove 
with much ability to create, in the midst of 
that democracy, a few leading families; by 
the side of those nobles, a body of burghers. 
These things, difficult in all states, were there 
impossible. An hereditary .dynasty, always 
stormy and ofien interrupted, was unfit for the 
persevering efforts requisite for such a revolu- 
tion. In other states the monarchs pursued 
an uniform policy, and their subjects were va- 
cillating; there the people were stead}-, and 
the crown changeable." — I. 71. 

"In other states, time had everywhere in- 
troduced the hereditary descent of honours and 
power. Hereditary succession was established 
from the throne to the smallest fief, from the 
reciprocal necessity of subduing the van- 
quished people, and securing to each his share 
in the conquests. In Poland, on the other 
hand, the waywoods, or warlike chieftains, the 
magistrates and civil authorities, the governors 
of castles and provinces, so far from founding 
an aristocracy by establishing the descent of 
their honours or offices in their families, were 
seldom even nominated by the king. Their 
authority, especially that of the Palatins, ex- 
cited equal umbrage in the sovereign who 
should have ruled, as the nobles who should, 
have obeyed them. There was thus authority 
and order nowhere in the state. 

"It is not surprising that such men should 
unite to the pride which could bear nothing 



POLAND. 



55 



above, the tyranny which could spare nothing 
below them. In the dread of being compelled 
to share their power with their inferiors ele- 
vated by riches or intelligence, they affixed a 
"stigma on every useful profession as a mark 
of servitude. Their maxim was, that nobility 
of blood was not lost by indigence or domestic 
service, but totally extinguished by commerce 
or industry. This policy perpetually withheld 
from the great body of serfs the use of arms, 
both because they had learned to fear, but still 
continued to despise them. In fine, jealous of 
every species of superiority as a personal out- 
rage, of every authority as an usurpation, of 
every labour as a degradation, this society 
was at variance with every principle of human 
prosperity. 

" Weakened in this manner in their external 
contests, by their equality not less than their 
tyranny, inferior to their neighbours in number 
and discipline, the Poles were the only warlike 
people in the world to whom victory never 
gave either peace or conquest. Incessant con- 
tests with the Germans, the Hungarians, the 
pirates of the north, the Cossacks of the 
Ukraine, the Osmanlis, occupy their whole 
annals ; but never did the Polish eagles ad- 
vance the frontiers of the republic. Poland 
saw Moravia, Brandenburg, Pomerania, es- 
cape from its rule, as Bohemia and Mecklen- 
burg had formerly done, without ever being 
awakened to the necessity of establishing a cen- 
tral government sufficiently strong to coerce 
and protect so many discordant materials. 
She was destined to drink to the last dregs the 
bitter consequences of a pitiless aristocracy 
and a senseless equality. 

"Vainly did Time, whose ceaseless course, 
by breaking through that fierce and oppressive 
equality, had succeeded where its monarchs 
had failed, strive to introduce a better order 
of things. Poland was destined, in all the 
ages of its history, to difFer from all the other 
European states. With the progress of wealth, 
a race of burghers at length sprung up — an 
aristocracy of wealth and possessions arose ; 
but both, contrary to the genius of the people, 
perished before they arrived at maturity. The 
first was speedily overthrown ; in the convul- 
sion consequent upon the establishment of 
the last, the national independence was de- 
stroyed."— I. 74. 

Of the practical consequences of this fatal 
passion for equality in the legislature and the 
form of government, our author gives the fol- 
lowing curious account: — 

"The extreme difficulty of providing food 
for their comitia of an hundred thousand citi- 
zens on horseback, obliged the members of 
the diet to terminate their deliberations in a 
few days, or rather to separate, after having 
devoured all the food in the country, com- 
menced a civil war, and determined nothing. 
The constant recurrence of such disasters at 
length led to an attempt to introduce territorial 
deputies, invested with full power to carry on 
the ordinary and routine business of the state. 
But so adverse was any delegation of authority 
to the original nature of Polish independence, 
that this beneficial institution never was es- 
tablished in Poland but in the most incom- 



plete manner. Its introduction corrected none 
of the ancient abuses. The king was still 
the president of tumultuous assemblies ; sur- 
rounded by obstacles on every side ; controlled, 
by generals and ministers not of his own se- 
lection ; obliged to defend the acts of a cabinet 
which he could not control, against the cries 
of a furious diet. And these diets, which 
united, sabre in hand, under the eye of the 
sovereign, and still treated of all the important 
affairs of the state — of war and peace, the 
election of a sovereign, the formation of laws 
— which gave audience to ambassadors, and 
administered justice in important cases — 
were still the Champs de Mars of the northern 
tribes, and partook to the very last of all the 
vices of the savage character. There was 
the same confusion of powers, the same ele- 
ments of disorder, the same license to them- 
selves, the same tyranny over others. 

" This attempt at a representative govern- 
ment was destructive to the last shadow of th^e 
royal authority; the meetings of the deputies 
became fixed and frequent; the power of the 
sovereign was lost without any permanent 
body arising to receive it in his room. The 
system of deputations made slow progress ; 
and in several provinces was never admitted. 
General diets, where the whole nation as- 
sembled, became more rare, and therefore 
more perilous: and as they were convoked 
only on great occasions, and to discuss 
weighty interests, the fervour of passion was 
superadded to the inexperience of business. 

"Speedily the representative assemblies be- 
came the object of jealousy on the part of this 
democratic race ; and the citizens of the re- 
public sought only to limit the powers which 
they had conferred on their representatives. 
Often the jealous multitude, terrified at the 
powers with which they had invested the de- 
puties, were seized with a sudden panic, and 
hastened together from all quarters with their 
arms in their hands to watch over their pro- 
ceedings. Such assemblies were styled ' Diets 
under the Buckler.' But generally they re- 
stricted and qualified their powers at the mo- 
ment of election. The electors confined their 
parliaments to a circle of limited questions: 
gave them obligatory directions ± and held, after 
every session, what they called post-comiliul diets; 
the object of which teas to exact from every deputy 
a rigid account of the execution of his mandate. 
Thus every question of importance was, in effect, 
decided in the provinces before it was debated in the 
national assembly. And as unanimity was still 
considered essential to a decision, the passing 
of any legislative act became impossible when 
there was any variance between the instruc- 
tions to the deputies. Thus the majority were 
compelled to disregard the protestations of the 
minority; and, to guard against that tyranny, 
the only remedy seemed to establish, in favour 
of the outvoted minority, the right of civil 
war. Confederations were established ; armed 
j leagues, formed of discontented nobles, who 
! elected a marshal or president, and opposed 
; decrees to decrees, force to force, diet to diet, 
I tribune to tribune; and had alternately the 
i king for its leader and its captive. What de- 
I plorabie institutions, which opened to all the 



56 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



discontented a legal channel for spreading 
anarchy through their country ! The only as- 
tonishing thing is, that the valour of the Polish 
nobility so long succeeded in concealing these 
mortal defects in their institutions. One 
would have imagined that a nation, under 
such customs, could not exist a year; and yet 
it seemed never weary either of victories or 
folly."— I. 116. 

No apology is necessary for the length of 
these quotations ; for they are not only illus- 
trative of the causes of the uniform disasters 
of Poland, but eminently instructive as to the 
tendency of democratic institutions all over 
the World. 

There is no danger that the inhabitants of 
England or France will flock in person to the 
opening of Parliament, and establish diets of 
two or three hundred thousand freemen, with 
sabres by their sides; but there is a very 
danger, that they will adopt the democratic 
jealousy of their representatives, and fix them 
down by fixed instructions to a course of con- 
duct which will both render nugatory all the 
advantages of a deliberative assembly, and 
sow the seeds of dissension, jealousy, and civil 
war between the different members of the 
state. This is the more to be apprehended, 
because this evil was felt in the strongest 
manner in France during the progress of the 
Revolution, and has appeared in America most 
remarkably even during the brief period of its 
political existence. 

The legislators of America are not in any 
sense statesmen-; they are merely delegates, 
bound to obey the directions of their constitu- 
ents, and sent there to forward the individual 
interest of the province, district, or borough 
which they represent. Their debates are lan- 
guid and uninteresting; conducted with no 
idea whatever of convincing, but merely of 
showing the constituents of each member 
what he had done for his daily hire of seven 
dollars. The Constituents Assembly met, with 
cahiers or instructions to the deputies from all 
the electors ; and so much did this jealousy of 
the legislature increase with the progress of 
the movements in France, that the surest road 
to popularity with the electors was soon found 
to be, the most abject professions of submis- 
sion to their will. Every one knows how long 
and vehemently annual parliaments have been 
demanded by the English radicals, in order to 
give them an opportunity of constantly exer- 
cising this surveillance over their representa- 
tives ; and how many members of the present 
House of Commons are under a positive 
pledge to their constituents on more than one 
momentous question. It is interesting to ob- 
serve how much mankind, under all varieties 
of climate, situation, and circumstances, are 
governed by the same principles ; and to trace 
the working of the same causes in Polish an- 
archy, French revolutions, American selfish- 
ness, and British democracy. 

Whoever considers the matter dispassion- 
ately, and attends to the lessons of history, 
y must arrive at the conclusion, that this demo- 
cratic spirit cannot co-exist with regular go- 
vernment or national independence in ancient 
states ; and that Polish anarchy is the neces- 



sary prelude in all such communities to Mos- 
covite oppression. The reason is eternal, and 
being founded in the nature of things, must be 
the same in all ages. When the true demo- 
cratic spirit is once generally diffused, men 
invariably acquire such an inordinate jealousy 
of their rulers, that they thwart all measures, 
even of the most obvious and undeniable utili- 
ty; and by a perpetual change of governors, 
gratify their own equalizing spirit, at the ex- 
pense of the best interests of the state. This 
disposition appears at present in France, and 
England, in the rapid changes of administra- 
tion which have taken place within the last 
few years, to the total destruction of any uni- 
formity of government, or the prosecution of 
any systematic plan for the public good: it 
appears in America in the execrable system 
of rotation of office, in other words, of the ex- 
pulsion of every man from official situations,, 
the moment he becomes qualified to hold thern, i 
which a recent able observer has so well ex- 
posed;* it appeared in Poland in the uniform 
weakness of the executive, and periodical re- 
turns of anarchy, which rendered them, in 
despite of their native valour, unfortunate in 
every contest, and at last led to the partition 
of the republic. 

Never was there a truer observation, than 
that wherever the tendency of prevailing in- 
stitutions is hurtful, there is an under-current 
perpetually flowing, destined to correct them. 
As this equalising and democratic spirit is 
utterly destructive to the best interests of so- 
ciety, and the happiness of the very peo'ple 
who indulge in it, so by the wisdom of nature, 
it leads rapidly and certainly to its own de- 
struction. The moment that it became para- 
mount in the Roman Republic, it led to the 
civil convulsions which brought on the despo- 
tism of the Caesars ; its career was rapidly cut 
short in France by the sword of Napoleon ; it 
exterminated Poland from the book of nations ; 
it threatens to close the long line of British 
greatness; it will convulse or subjugate Ame- 
rica, the moment that growing republic is 
brought in contact with warlike neighbours, 
or finds the safety-valve of the back settle- 
ments closed against the escape of turbulent 
multitudes. 

The father of John Sobieski, whose estates 
lay in the Ukraine, has left a curious account 
of the manners and habits of the Cossacks in 
his time, which was about 200 years ago. 
" The great majority," said he, " of these wan- 
dering tribes, think of nothing but the affairs 
of their little families, and encamp, as it were, 
in the midst of the towns which belong to the 
crown or the noblesse. They interrupt the 
ennui of repose by frequent assemblies, and. 
their comitia are generally civil wars, often at- 
tended by profuse bloodshed. It is there that 
they choose their hetman, or chief, by accla- 
mation, followed by throwing their bearskin 
caps in the air. Such is the inconstancy in the 
multitude, that they frequently destroy their 
own work ; but as long as the hetman remains 
in power, he has the right of life and death.. 
The town of Tretchmiron, in Kiovia, is the. 



* Captain Hall. 



POLAND. 



57 



arsenal of their warlike implements and their 
treasure. There is deposited the booty taken 
by their pirates in Romelia and Asia Minor; 
and there are also preserved, with religious 
care, the immunities granted to their nation 
by the republic. There are displayed the 
standards which the king sends them, when- 
ever they take up arms for the service of the 
republic. It is round this royal standard that 
the nation assemble in their comitia. The het- 
man there does not presume to address the 
multitude but with his head uncovered, with a 
respectful air, ready to exculpate himself from 
all the charges brought against him, and to 
solicit humbly his share of the spoils taken 
from the enemies. These fierce peasants are 
passionately fond of war; few are acquainted 
with the use of the musket ; the pistol and 
sabre are their ordinary weapons. Thanks to 
their light and courageous squadrons, Poland 
can face the infantry of the most powerful na- 
tions on earth. They are as serviceable in re- 
treat as in success ; when discomfited, they 
form, with their chariots ranged in several 
lines in a circular form, an entrenched camp, 
to which no other fortifications can be com- 
pared. Behind that tabor, they defy the at- 
tacks of the most formidable enemy." 

Of the species of troops who composed the 
Polish army, our author gives the following 
curious account, — a striking proof of the na- 
tional weakness which follows the fatal pas- 
sion for equality, which formed their grand 
national characteristic : 

" Five different kinds of soldiers composed 
the Polish army. There was, in the first place, 
the mercenaries, composed of Hungarians, 
Wallachians, Cossacks, Tartars, and Germans, 
who would have formed the strength and 
nucleus of the army, had it not been that on 
the least delay in their payments, they invari- 
ably turned their arms against the govern- 
ment: the national troops, to whose mainte- 
nance a fourth of the national revenue was 
devoted : the volunteers, under which name 
were included the levies of the great nobles, 
and the ordinary guards which they maintained 
in time of peace: the Pospolile, that is, the 
array of the whole free citizens, who, after 
three summonses from the king, were obliged 
to come forth under the banners of their re- 
spective palatines, but only to remain a few 
months in the field, and could not be ordered 
"beyond the frontiers. This last unwieldy 
body, however brave, was totally deficient in 
discipline, and in general served only to mani- 
fest the weakness of the republic. It was 
seldom called forth but in civil wars. The 
legions of valets, grooms, and drivers, who 
encumbered the other force, may be termed a 
fifth branch of the military force of Poland ; 
but these fierce retainers, naturally warlike 
and irascible, injured the army more by their 
pillage and dissensions than they assisted it 
by their numbers. 

"All these different troops were deficient in 
equipment ; obliged to provide themselves 
with every thing, and to collect their subsist- 
ence by their own authority, they were encum- 
bered with an incredible quantity of baggage- 
wagons, destined, for the most part, less to 
8 



convey provisions than carry off plunder. 
They had no corps of engineers ; the artillery,, 
composed of a few pieces of small calibre, had. 
no other officers than a handful of French 
adventurers, upon whose adherence to the. 
republic implicit reliance could not be placed. 
The infantry were few in number, composed 
entirely of the mercenary and royal troops ; 
but this arm was regarded with contempt by 
the haughty nobiiity. The foot soldiers were 
employed in digging ditches, throwing bridges, 
and cutting down forests, rather than actual 
warfare. Sobieski was exceedingly desirous 
of having in his camp a considerable force of 
infantry; but two invincible obstacles pre- 
vented it, — the prejudices of the country, and 
the penury of the royal treasury. 

" The whole body of the Pospolite, the vo- 
lunteers, the valets d'armee, and a large part of 
the mercenaries and national troops, served 
on horseback. The heavy cavalry, in particu- 
lar, constituted the strength of the armies ; 
there were to be found united, riches, splen- 
dour, and number. They were divided into 
cuirassiers and hussars ; the former clothed 
in steel, man and horse bearing casque and 
cuirass, lance and sabre, bows and carabines;, 
the latter defended only by a twisted hauberk, 
which descended from the head, over the 
shoulders and breast, and armed with a sabre 
and pistol. Both were distinguished by the 
splendour of their dress and equipage,. and the 
number and costly array of their mounted ser- 
vants, accoutred in the most bizarre manner, 
with huge black plumes, and skins of bears 
and other wild beasts. It was the boast of 
this body, that they were composed of men,, 
all measured, as they expressed it, by the same 
standard ; that is, equal in nobility, equally 
enjoying the rights to obey only their God and 
their swords, and equally destined, perhaps, to 
step one day into the throne of the Piasts and. 
the Jagellons. The hussars and cuirassiers 
were called Towarzirz, that is, companions ; 
they called each other by that name, and they 
were designated in the same way by the sove- 
reign, whose chief boast would be Primus inter 
pares, the first among equals." — I. 129. 

With so motley and discordant a force, it is 
not surprising that Poland was unable to make 
head against the steady ambition and regular 
forces of the military monarchies with which 
it was surrounded. Its history accordingly 
exhibits the usual feature of all democratic 
societies — occasional bursts of patriotism, and 
splendid efforts followed by dejection, anarchy, 
and misrule. It is a stormy night illuminated 
by occasional flashes of lightning, never by 
the steady radiance of the morning sun. 

One of the most glorious of these flashes is 
the victory of Kotzim, the first great achieve- 
ment of John Sobieski. 

"Kotzim is a strong castle, situated four 
leagues from Kamaniek, on a rocky projection 
which runs into the Dneiper, impregnable 
from the river, and surrounded on the other 
side by deep and rocky ravines. A bridge 
thrown over one of them, united it to the en- 
trenched camp, where Hussein Pacha had 
posted his army. That camp, defended by 
ancient fieldworks, extended along the bank:> 



58 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of the Dneiper, and was guarded on the side 
of Moldavia, the sole accessible quarter, by 
precipices cut in the solid rock, and impass- 
able morasses. The art of the Ottomans had 

added to the natural strength of the position; 
the plain ever which, after the example of the 
Romans, that military colony was intended to 
rule, was intersected to a great distance by 
canals and ditches, whose banks were strength- 
ened by palisades. A powerful artillery de- 
fended all the avenues to the camp, and there 
reposed, under magnificent tents, the Turkish 
generalissimo and eighty thousand veterans, 
when they were suddenly startled by the sight 
of the Polish banners, which moved in splendid 
array round their entrenchments, and took up 
a position almost under the fire of their artil- 
lery. 

'•The spot was animating to the recollec- 
tions of the Christian host. Fifty years be- 
fore, James Sobieski had conquered a glorious 
peace under the walls of that very castle : and 
against its ramparts, after the disaster of the 
Kobilta, the power of the young Sultan Osman 
had dashed itself in vain. Now the sides 
were changed ; the Turks held the entrenched 
camp, and the army of the son of James So- 
bieski filled rhe plain. 

"The smaller force had now to make the 
assault; the larger army was entrenched be- 
hind ramparts better fortified, better armed 
with cannon, than those which Sultan Osman 
and his three hundred thousand Mussulmen 
sought in vain to wrest from the feeble army 
of Wladislaus. The Turks were now grown 
gray in victories, and the assailants were 
young troops, for the most part ill armed, as- 
sembled in haste, destitute of resources, maga- 
zines, or provisions — worn out with the fatigues 
and the privations of a winter campaign. Deep 
ditches, the rocky bed of torrents, precipitous 
walls of rock, composed the field of battle on 
which they were called on to combat an enemy 
reposing tranquilly under the laurels of vic- 
tory, beneath sumptuous tents, and behind 
ramparts defended by an array of three hun- 
dred pieces of cannon. The night passed on 
the Polish side in mortal disquietude; the 
mind of the general, equally with the soldiers, 
was overwhelmed with anxiety. The enter- 
prise which he had undertaken seemed above 
human strength; the army had no chance of 
safety but in victor}' - , and there was too much 
reason to fear that treachery, or division in 
his own troops, would snatch it from his grasp, 
and deliver down his name with disgrace to 
posterity. 

"Sobieski alone was inaccessible to fear. 
When the troops were drawn forth on the fol- 
lowing morning, the Grand Hetman of Lithu- 
ania declared the attack desperate, and his 
resolution to retreat. ; Retreat,' cried the 
Polish hero, ' is impossible. We should only 
find a disgraceful death in the morasses with 
which we are surrounded, a few leagues from 
hence; better far to brave it at the foot of the 
enemy's entrenchments. But what ground is 
there for apprehension'? Nothing disquiets 
me but what I hear from you. Your menaces 
are our only danger. I am confident you will 
not execute them. If Poland is to be effaced 



from the book of nations, you will not allow 
our children to exclaim, that if a Paz had not 
fled, they would not have wanted a country.' 
Vanquished by the magnanimity of Sobieski, 
and the cries of Sapieha and Radziwik, the 
Lithuanian chief promised not to desert his 
countrymen. 

"Sobieski then ranged his faltering batta- 
lions in order of battle, and the Turks made 
preparations to receive behind their entrench- 
ments the seemingly hopeless attack of the 
Christians. Their forces were ranged in a 
semicircle, and their forty'field-pieces advanced 
in front, battered in breach the palisades which 
were placed across the approaches to the 
Turkish palisades. Kouski, the commander 
of the artillery, performed under the superior 
fire of the enemy, prodigies of valour. The 
breaches were declared practicable in the 
evening; and Avhen night came, the Christian 
forces of the t"wo principalities of Walachia 
and Moldavia deserted the camp of the Infi- 
dels, to range themselves under the standard 
of the cross ; a cheering omen, for troops 
never desert but to the side which they ima- 
gine will prove successful. 

" The weather was dreadful ; the snow fell 
in great quantities ; the ranks were obstructed 
by its drifts. In the midst of that severe tem- 
pest, Sobieski kept his troops under arms the 
whole night. In the morning they were buried 
in the snow, exhausted by cold and suffering. 
Then he gave the signal of attack. ' Com- 
panions, said he, in passing through the lines, 
his clothes, his hair, his mustaches covered 
with icicles, 'I deliver to you an enemy already 
half vanquished. You have suffered, the Turks 
are exhausted. The troops of Asia can never 
endure the hardships of the last twenty-four 
hours. The cold has conquered them to our 
hand. Whole troops of them are already sink- 
ing under their sufferings, while we, inured to 
the climate, are only animated by it to fresh 
exertions. It is for us to save the republic 
from shame and slavery. Soldiers of Poland, 
recollect that you light for your country, and 
that Jesus Christ combats for yxnx' 

"Sobieski had thrice heard mass since the 
rising of the sun. The day was the fete of St. 
Martin of Tours. The chiefs founded great 
hopes on his intercession : the priests, who 
had followed their masters to the field of battle, 
traversed the ranks, recounting the actions of 
that great apostle of the French, and all that 
they might expect from his known zeal for the 
faith. He was a Slavonian by birth. Could 
there be any doubt, then, that the Christians 
Would triumph when his glory was on that day 
in so peculiar a manner interested in perform- 
ing miracles in their favour? 

" An accidental circumstance gave the 
highest appearance of truth to these ideas. 
The Grand Marshal, who had just completed 
his last reconnoissance of the enemy's lines, 
returned with his countenance illuminated by 
the presage of victory — 'My companions,' he 
exclaimed, ' in half an hour we shall be lodged 
under these gilded tents.' In fact, he had dis- 
covered that the point against which he in- 
tended to direct his principal attack was not 
defended but by a few troops benumbed by the 



POLAND. 



59 



cold. He immediately made several feigned 
assaults to distract the attention of the enemy, 
and directed against the palisades, by which 
he intended to enter, the fire of a battery 
already erected. The soldiers immediately 
recollected that the preceding evening they 
had made the utmost efforts to draw the 
cannon beyond that point, but that a power 
apparently more than human had chained 
them to the spot, from whence now they easily 
beat down the obstacles to the army's ad- 
vance, and cleared the road to victory. Who 
was so blind as not to see in that circum- 
stance the miraculous intervention of Gregory 
of Tours ! 

" At that moment the army knelt down to re- 
ceive the benediction of Father Pizeborowski, 
confessor of the Grand Hetman ; and his 
prayer being concluded, Sobieski, dismount- 
ing from his horse, ordered his infantry to 
move forward to the assault of the newly- 
opened breach in the palisades, he himself, 
sword in hand, directing the way. The armed 
valets followed rapidly in their footsteps. That 
courageous band were never afraid to tread 
the path of danger in the hopes of plunder. 
In a moment the ditches were filled up and 
passed ; with one bound the troops arrived at 
the foot of the rocks. The Grand Hetman, 
after that first success, had hardly time to re- 
mount on horseback, when, on the heights of 
the entrenched camp, were seen the standard 
of the cross and the eagle of Poland. Petri- 
kowski and Denhoff, of the royal race of the 
Piasts, had first mounted the ramparts, and 
raised their ensigns. At this joyful sight, a 
hurrah of triumph rose from the Polish ranks, 
and rent the heavens ; the Turks were seized 
with consternation; they had been confounded 
at that sudden attack, made at a time when 
they imagined the severity of the weather had 
made the Christians renounce their perilous 
enterprise. Such was the confusion, that but 
for the extraordinary strength of the position, 
they could not have stood a moment. At this 
critical juncture, Hussein, deceived by a false 
attack of Czarnicki, hastened with his cavalry 
to the other side of the camp, and the spahis, 
conceiving that he was flying, speedily took to 
flight. 

" But the Janizzaries were not yet van- 
quished. Inured to arms, they rapidly formed 
their ranks, and falling upon the valets, who 
had dispersed in search of plunder, easily put 
them to the sword. Fortunately, Sobieski had 
had time to employ his foot soldiers in level- 
ling the ground, and rendering accessible the 
approaches to the summits of the hills. The 
Polish cavalry came rushing in with a noise 
like thunder. The hussars, the cuirassiers, 
with burning torches affixed to their lances, 
scaled precipices which seemed hardly acces- 
sible to foot soldiers. Inactive till that mo- 
ment, Paz now roused his giant strength. 
Ever the rival of Sobieski, he rushed forward 
with his Lithuanian nobles in the midst of 
every danger, to endeavour to arrive first in 
the Ottoman camp. It was too late; — already 
the flaming lances of the Grand Hetman j 
gleamed on the summits of the entrenchments, j 
and ever attentive to the duties of a com- 1 



mander, Sobieski was employed in re-forming 
the ranks of the assailants, disordered by 
the assault and their success, and preparing 
for a new battle in the midst of that city of 
tents, which, though surprised, seemed not 
subdued. 

" But the astonishment and confusion of the 
besieged, the cries of the women, shut up in 
the Harems, the thundering charges of the 
heavy squadrons clothed in impenetrable steel, 
and composed of impetuous young men, gave 
the Turks no time to recover from their con- 
sternation. It was no longer a battle, but a 
massacre. Demetrius and the Lithuanian met 
at the same time in the invaded camp. A cry 
of horror now rose from the Turkish ranks, 
and they rushed in crowds to the bridge of 
boats which crossed the Dniester, and formed 
the sole communication between Kotzim, and 
the fortified city of Kamaniek. In the struggle 
to reach this sole outlet from destruction, mul- 
titudes killed each other. But Sobieski's fore- 
sight had deprived the vanquished even of this 
last resource. His brother-in-law, Radziwil, 
had during the tumult glided unperceived 
through the bottom of the ravines, and at the 
critical moment made himself master of the 
bridge, and the heights which commanded it. 
The only resource of the fugitives was now to 
throw themselves into the waves. 20,000 men 
perished at that fatal point, either on the shores 
or in the half-congealed stream. Insatiable in 
carnage, the hussars led by Maziniki pursued 
them on horseback into the bed of the Dneiper, 
and sabred thousands when struggling in the 
stream. 40,000 dead bodies were found in the 
precincts of the camp. The water of the river 
for several leagues ran red with blood, and 
corpses were thrown up with every wave on 
its deserted shores. 

"At the news of this extraordinary triumph, 
the Captain Pacha,, who was advancing with 
a fresh army to invade Poland, set fire to his 
camp, and hastened across the Danube. The 
Moldavians and Walachians made their sub- 
mission to the conqueror, and the Turks, re- 
cently so arrogant, began to tremble for their 
capital. Europe, electrified with these suc- 
cesses, returned thanks for the greatest victory 
gained for three centuries over the infidels. 
Christendom quivered with joy, as if it had 
just escaped from ignominy and bondage." — 
II. 130—153. 

"But while Europe was awaiting the intel- 
ligence of the completion of the overthrow of 
the Osmanlis, desertion and flight had ruined 
the Polish army. Whole Palatinates had 
abandoned their colours. They were desirous 
to carry off in safety the spoils of the East, and 
to prepare for that new field of battle which 
the election of the King of Poland, who di<fd 
at this juncture, presented. Sobieski remained 
almost alone on the banks of the Dniester. At 
the moment when Walachia and Moldavia 
were throwing themselves under the protec- 
tion of the Polish crown, when the Captain 
Pacha was flying to the foot of Balkan, and 
Sobieski was dreaming of changing the face 
of the world, his army dissolved. The Turks, 
at this unexpected piece of fortune, recovered 
from their terror ; and the rule of the Mussul 



60 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



men was perpetuated for two centuries in Eu- 
rope."— II. 165. 

This victory and the subsequent dissolution 
of the army, So characteristic both of the glo- 
ries and the inconstancy of Poland, great as it 
was, was eclipsed by the splendours of the de- 
liverance of Vienna. The account of the pre- 
vious election of this great man to the throne 
of Poland is singularly characteristic of Polish 
manners. 

''The plain of Volo to the west of Warsaw 
had been the theatre, from the earliesttii 
of the popular elections. Already the impa- 
tient Pospolite covered that vast extent with 
its waves, like an army prepared to commence 
an assault on a fortified town. The innumera- 
ble piles of arms; the immense tables round 
which faction united their supporters ; a 
thousand jousts with the javelin or the lance; 
a thousand squadrons engaged in mimic war; 
a thousand parties of palatines, governors of 
castles, and other dignified authorities who 
traversed the ranks distributing exhortations, 
party songs, and largesses ; a thousand caval- 
cades of gentlemen, who rode, according to 
custom, with their battle-axes by their sides, 
and discussed at the gallop the dearest in- 
terests of the republic ; innumerable quarrels, 
originating in drunkenness, and terminating 
in blood: Such were the scenes of tumult, 
amusement, and war, — a faithful mirror of 
Poland, — which, as far as the eye could reach, 
filled the plain. 

" The arena was closed in by a vast circle 
of tents, which embraced, as in an immense 
girdle^ the plain of Volo, the shores of the Vis- 
tula, and the spires of Warsaw. The horizon 
seemed bounded by a range of snowy moun- 
tains, of which the summits were portrayed in 
the hazy distance by their dazzling whiteness. 
Their camp formed another city, with its 
markets, its gardens, its hotels, and its monu- 
ments. There the great displayed their Orien- 
tal magnificence ; the nobles, the palatines, 
vied with each other in the splendour of their 
horses and equipage ; and the stranger who 
beheld for the first time that luxury, worfivy of 
the last and greatest of the Nomade people, 
was never weary of admiring the immense 
hotels, the porticoes, the colonnades, the gal- 
leries of painted or gilded stuffs, the castles 
of cotton and silk, with their draw-bridges, 
towers, and ditches. Thanks to the recent 
victory, a great part of these riches had been 
taken from the Turks. Judging from the 
multitude of stalls, kitchens, baths, audience 
chambers, the elegance of the Oriental archi- 
tecture, the taste of the designs, the profusion 
of gilded crosses, domes, and pagodas, you 
would imagine that the seraglio of some 
Eastern sultan had been transported by en- 
chantment to the banks of the Vistula. Vic- 
tory had accomplished this prodigy ; these 
were the tents of Mahomet IV., taken at the 
battle of Kotzim, and though Sobieski was 
absent, his triumphant arms surmounted the 
crescent of Mahomet. 

"The Lithuanians were encamped on the 
opposite shores of the Vistula; and their Grand 
Hetman, Michel Paz, had brought up his whole 
force to dictate laws, as it were, to the Polish 



| crown. Sobieski had previously occupied the 
r e over the river by a regiment of hussars, 
'■, upon which the Lithuanians seized every 
| house in the city which wealth could com- 
mand. These hostile dispositions were too 
significant of frightful disorders. War soon 
ensued in the midst of the rejoicings between 
Lithuania and Poland. Every time the oppo- 
site factions met, their strife terminated in 
bloodshed. The hostilities extended even to 
the bloody game of the Klopiches, Avhich was 
played by a confederation of the boys in the 
city, or of pages and valets, who amused them- 
selves by forming troops, electing a marshal, 
choosing a field of battle, and fighting there to 
the last extremity. On this occasion they 
were divided into corps of Lithuanians and 
Poles, who hoisted the colours of their respec- 
tive states, got fire-arms to imitate more com- 
pletely the habits of the equestrian order, and 
disturbed the plain everywhere by their 
marches, or terrified it by their assaults. 
Their shock desolated the plain; the villages 
were in flames ; the savage huts of which the 
suburbs of Warsaw' were then composed, w r ere 
incessantly invaded and sacked in that terri- 
ble sport, invented apparently to inure the 
youth to civil war, and extend even to the 
slaves the enjoyments of anarchy. 

" On the day of the elections the three orders 
mounted on horseback. The princes, the 
palatines, the bishops, the prelates, proceeded 
towards the plain of Volo, surrounded by eighty 
thousand mounted citizens, any one of whom 
might, at the expiry of a few hours, find him- 
self King of Poland. They all bore in their 
countenances, even under the livery-or ban- 
ners of a master, the pride arising from that 
ruinous privilege. The European dress no- 
where appeared on that solemn occasion. 
The children of the desert strove to hide the 
furs and skins in which they were clothed 
under chains of gold and the glitter of jewels. 
Their bonnets w r ere composed of panther-skin, 
plumes of eagles or herons surmounted them r 
on their front were the most splendid precious 
stones. Their robes of sable or ermine were 
bound with velvet or silver: their girdle 
studded w r ith jewels; overall their furs were 
suspended chains of diamonds. One hand of 
each nobleman was without a glove ; on it was 
the splendid ring on which the arms of his 
family w r ere engraved ; the mark, as in ancient 
Rome, of the equestrian order. A new proof 
of this intimate connection between the race, 
the customs, and the traditions of the northern 
tribes, and the founders of the Eternal City. 

" But nothing in this rivalry of magnificence 
could equal the splendour of their arms. 
Double poniards, double scymitars, set with 
brilliants; bucklers of costly workmanship, 
battle-axes enriched in silver, and glittering 
with emeralds and sapphires; bows and arrows 
richly gilt, which were borne at festivals, in 
remembrance of the ancient customs of the 
country, were to be seen on every side. The 
horses shared in this melange of barbarism 
and refinement; sometimes cased in iron, at 
others decorated with the richest colours, they 
bent under the weight of the sabres, the lances, 
and javelins by which the senatorial order 



POLAND. 



61 



marked their rank. The bishops were distin- 
guished by their gray or green hats, and yellow 
or red pantaloons, magnificently embroidered 
with divers colours. Often' they laid aside 
their pastoral habits, and signalized their ad- 
dress as young cavaliers, by the beauty of their 
arms, and the management of their horses. 
In that crowd of the equestrian order, there 
was no gentleman so humble as not to try to 
rival this magnificence. Many carried, in furs 
and arms, their whole fortunes on their backs. 
Numbers had sold their votes to some of the 
candidates, for the vanity of appearing with 
some additional ornament before their fellow- 
citizens. And the people, whose dazzled e) r es 
beheld all this magnificence, were almost with- 
out clothing; their long beards, naked legs, 
and filth, indicated, even more strongly than 
their pale visages and dejected air, all the 
miseries of servitude." — II. 190 — 197. 

The achievement which has immortalized 
the name of John Sobieski is the deliverance 
of Vienna in 1683 — of this glorious achieve- 
ment M. Salvandy gives the following interest- 
ing account: — 

" After a siege of eight months, and open 
trenches for sixty days, Vienna was reduced 
to the last extremity. Famine, disease, and 
the sword, had cut off two-thirds of its garri- 
son ; and the inhabitants, depressed by inces- 
sant toil for the last six months, and sickened 
by long deferred hope, were given up to des- 
pair. Many breaches were made in the walls ; 
the massy bastions were crumbling in ruins, 
and entrenchments thrown up in haste in the 
streets, formed the last resource of the German 
capital. Stahremborg, the governor, had an- 
nounced the necessity of surrendering if not 
relieved in three days ; and every night signals 
of distress from the summits of the steeples, 
announced the extremities to which they were 
reduced. 

" One evening, the sentinel who was on the 
watch at the top of the steeple of St. Stephen's, 
perceived a blazing flame on the summits of 
the Calemberg; soon after an army was seen 
preparing to descend the ridge. Every tele- 
scope was instantly turned in that direction, 
and from the brilliancy of their lances, and the 
splendour of their banners it was easy to see 
that it was the Hussars of Poland, so redoubt- 
able to the Osmanlis, who were approaching. 
The Turks were immediately to be seen divid- 
ing their vast host into divisions, one destined 
to oppose this new enemy, and one to continue 
the assaults on the besieged. At the sight of 
the terrible conflict which was approaching, 
the women and children flocked to the 
churches, while Stahremborg led forth all that 
remained of the men to the breaches. 

" The Duke of Lorraine had previously set 
forth with a few horsemen to join the King of 
Poland, and learn the art of war, as he ex- 
pressed it, under so great a master. The two 
•illustrious commanders soon concerted a plan 
of operations, and Sobieski encamped on the 
Danube, with all his forces, united to the 
troops of the empire. It was with tears of joy, 
that the sovereigns, generals, and the soldiers 
of the Imperialists received the illustrious 
chief whom heaven had sent to their relief. 



Before his arrival discord reigned in their 
camp, but all now yielded obedience to the 
Polish hero. 

" The Duke of Lorraine had previously con- 
structed at Tulin, six leagues below Vienna, 
a triple bridge, which Kara Mustapha, the 
Turkish commander, allowed to be formed 
without opposition. The German Electors 
nevertheless hesitated to cross the river ; the 
severity of the weather, long rains, and roads 
now almost impassable, augmented their 
alarms. But the King of Poland was a stranger 
alike to hesitation as fear; the state of Vienna 
would admit of no delay. The last despatch 
of Stahremborg was simply in these words : 
'There is no time to lose.' — 'There is no re- 
verse to fear,' exclaimed Sobieski ; ' the gene- 
ral who at the head of three hundred thousand 
men could allow that bridge to be constructed 
in his teeth, cannot fail to be defeated.' 

"On the following day the liberators of 
Christendom passed in review before their 
allies. The Poles marched first; the specta- 
tors were astonished at the magnificence of 
their arms, the splendour of the dresses, and 
the beauty of the horses. The infantry was 
less brilliant; one regiment in particular, by 
its battered appearance, hurt the pride of the 
monarch — ' Look well at those brave men,' 
said he to the Imperialists ; ' it is an invincible 
battalion, who have sworn never to renew 
their clothing, till they are arrayed in the spoils 
of the Turks.' These words were repeated to 
the regiments; if they did not, says the annal- 
ist, clothe them, they encircled every man 
with a cuirass. 

" The Christian army, when all assembled, 
amounted to 70,000 men, of whom only 30,000 
were infantry. Of these the Poles were 18,000. 
— The principal disquietude of the king was 
on account of the absence of the Cossacks, 
whom Mynzwicki had promised to bring up to 
his assistance. — He well knew what admirable 
scouts they formed : the Tartars had always 
found in them their most formidable enemies. 
Long experience in the Turkish wars had 
rendered them exceedingly skilful in this 
species of warfare : no other force was equal 
to them in seizing prisoners and gaining in- 
telligence. They were promised ten crowns 
for every man they brought in after this man- 
ner : they led their captives to the tent of their 
king, where they got their promised reward, 
and went away saying, 'John, I have touched 
my money, God will repay you.' — Bereaved of 
these faithful assistants, the king was com- 
pelled to expose his hussars in exploring the 
dangerous defiles in which the army was about 
to engage. The Imperialists, who could not 
comprehend his attachment to that undisci- 
plined militia, were astonished to hear him 
incessantly exclaiming, ' Oh ! Mynzwicki, Oh ' 
Mynzwicki.' " 

A rocky chain, full of narrow and precipitous 
ravines, of woods and rocks, called the Calem- 
berg in modern times, the Mons iEtius of the 
Romans, separated the two armies : the cause 
of Christendom from that of Mahomet. It was 
necessary to scale that formidable barrier; for 
the mountains advanced with a rocky front 
into the middle of the Danube. Fortunately, 



62 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



the negligence of the Turks had omitted to 
fortify these posts, where a few battalions 
might have arrested the Polish army. 

"Nothing could equal the confidence of the 
Turks but the disquietude of the Imperialists. 
Such Mas the terror impressed by the vast 
host of the Mussulmen, that at the first cry of 
Allah ! whole battalions took to flight Many 
thousand peasants were incessantly engaged 
in levelling the roads over the mountains, or 
cutting through the forest. The foot soldiers 
dragged the artillery with their arms, and were 
compelled to abandon the heavier pieces. 
Chiefs and soldiers carried each his own pro- 
visions : the leaves of the oak formed the sole 
subsistence of the horses. Some scouts reach- 
ed the summit of the ridge long before the 
remainder of the army, and from thence be- 
held the countless myriads of the Turkish 
tents extending to the walls of Vienna. Ter- 
rified at the sight, they returned in dismay, 
and a contagious panic began to spread 
through the army. The king had need, to re- 
assure his troops, of all the security of his 
countenance, the gaiety of his discourse, and 
the remembrance of the multitudes of the 
infidels "whom he had dispersed in his life. 
The Janizzaries of his guard, who surrounded 
him on the march, were so many living monu- 
ments of his victories, and every one was 
astonished that he ventured to attack the Mus- 
sulmen with such an escort. He offered to 
send them to the rear, or even to give them a 
safe conduct to the Turkish camp, but they all 
answered with tears in their eyes, that they 
would live and die with him. His heroism 
subjugated alike Infidels and Christians, chiefs 
and soldiers. 

"At length, on Saturday, September 11th, 
the army encamped, at eleven o'clock in the 
forenoon, on the sterile and inhospitable sum- 
mit of the Calemberg, and occupied the con- 
vent of Camaldoli and the old castle of Leo- 
poldsburg. Far beneath extended the vast and 
uneven plain of Austria: its smoking capital, 
the gilded tents, and countless host of the 
besiegers ; while at the foot of the ridge, where 
the mountain sunk into the plain, the forests 
and ravines were occupied by the advanced 
guards, prepared to dispute the passage of the 
army." 

There it was that they lighted the fires which 
spread joy and hope through every heart at 
Vienna. 

"Trusting in their vast multitudes, the 
Turks pressed the assault of Vienna on the 
one side, while on the other they faced the 
liberating army. The Turkish vizier counted 
in his ranks four Christian princes and as 
many Tartar chiefs. All the nobles of Ger- 
many and Poland were on the other side : 
Sobieski was at once the Agamemnon and 
Achilles of that splendid host. 

"The young Eugene of Savoy made his first 
essay in arms, by bringing to Sobieski the in- 
telligence that the engagement was commenced 
between the advanced guards at the foot of 
the ridge. The Christians immediately de- 
scended the mountains in five columns like 
torrents, but marching in the finest order : the 
leading divisions halted at every hundred 



paces to give time to those behind, who were 
retarded by the difficulties of the descent, to 
join them. A rude parapet, hastily erected by 
the Turks to bar the five debouches of the 
roads into the plain, was forced after a short 
combat. At every ravine, the Christians ex- 
perienced fresh obstacles to surmount: the 
spahis dismounted to contest the rocky ascents, 
and speedily regaining their horses when they 
were forced, fell back in haste to the next 
positions which were to be defended. But the 
Mussulmen, deficient in infantry, could not 
withstand the steady advance and solid masses 
of the Germans, and the Christians everywhere 
gained ground. Animated by the continued 
advance of their deliverers, the garrison of 
Vienna performed miracles on the breach ; 
and Kara Mustapha, who long hesitated which, 
battle he should join, resolved to meet the 
avenging squadrons of the Polish king. 

" By two o'clock the ravines were cleared, 
and the allies drawn up in the plain. Sobieski 
ordered the Duke of Lorraine to halt, to give 
time for the Poles, who had been retarded by 
a circuitous march, to join the army. At 
eleven they appeared, and took their post on 
the right. The Imperial eagles saluted the 
squadrons of gilded cuirasses with cries of 
1 Long live King John Sobieski !' and the cry, 
repeated along the Christian line, startled tfie 
Mussulmen force. 

" Sobieski charged in the centre, and di- 
rected his attack against the scarlet tent of the 
sultan, surrounded by his faithful squadrons- 
distinguished by his splendid plume, his bow, 
and quiver of gold, which hung on his shoul- 
der — most of all by the enthusiasm which his 
presence everywhere excited. He advanced, 
exclaiming, 'Non nobis, Domine, sed tibi sit 
gloria !' The Tartars and the spahis fled when 
they heard the name of the Polish hero re- 
peated from one end to the other of the Otto- 
man lines. ' By Allah,' exclaimed Sultan 
Gieray, ' the king is with them !' At this 
moment the moon was eclipsed, and the Ma- 
hometans beheld with dread the crescent 
waning in the heavens. 

"At the same time, the hussars of Prince 
Alexander, who formed the leading column, 
broke into a charge amidst the national cry, 
'God defend Poland!' The remaining squad- 
rons, led by all that was noblest and bravest in 
the country, resplendent in arms, buoyant in 
courage, followed at the gallop. They cleared, 
without drawing bridle, a ravine, at which in- 
fantry might have paused, and charged furi- 
ously up the opposite bank. With such 
vehemence did they enter the enemy's ranks, 
that they fairly cut the army in two, — justify- 
ing thus the celebrated saying of that haughty 
nobility to one of their kings, that with their 
aid no reverse was irreparable ; and that if the 
heaven itself were to fall, they would support 
it on the points of their lances. 

"The shock was so violent that almost all 
the lances were splintered. The Pachas of 
Aleppo and of Silistria were slain on the spot; 
four other pachas fell under the sabres of 
Jablonowski. At the same time Charles of 
Lorraine had routed the force of the principa- 
lities, and threatened the Ottoman camp. Kara 



POLAND. 



63 



Mustapha fell at once from the heights of 
confidence to the depths of despair. ' Can 
you not aid me?' said he to the Kara of the 
Crimea. ' I know the King of Poland,' said 
he, 'and I tell you, that with such an enemy 
we have no chance of safety but in flight.' 
Mustapha in vain strove to rally his troops ; 
all, seized with a sudden panic, fled, not daring 
to lift their eyes to heaven. The cause of 
Europe, of Christianity, of civilization, had 
prevailed. The wave of the Mussulman power 
had retired, and retired never to return. 

"At six in the evening, Sobieski entered the 
Turkish camp. He arrived first at the quar- 
ters of the vizier. At the entrance of that vast 
enclosure a slave met him, and presented him 
with the charger and golden bridle of Musta- 
pha. He took the bridle, and ordered one of 
his followers to set out in haste for the Queen 
of Poland, and say that he who owned that 
bridle was vanquished ; then planted his 
standard in the midst of that armed caravan- 
sera of all the nations of the East, and ordered 
Charles of Lorraine to drive the besiegers 
from the trenches before Vienna. It was 
already done ; the Janizzaries had left their 
posts on the approach of night, and, after sixty 
days of open trenches, the imperial city was 
delivered. 

" On the following morning the magnitude 
of the victory appeared. One hundred and 
twenty thousand tents were still standing, not- 
withstanding the attempts at their destruction 
by the Turks ; the innumerable multitude of 
the Orientals had disappeared ; but their spoils, 
their horses, their camels, their splendour, 
loaded the ground. The king at ten approached 
Vienna. He passed through the breach, where- 
by but for him on that day the Turks would 
have found an entrance. At his approach the 
streets were cleared of their ruins ; and the 
people, issuing from their cellars and their 
tottering houses, gazed with enthusiasm on 
their deliverer. They followed him to the 
church of the Augustins, where, as the clergy 
had not arrived, the king himself chanted Te 
Deum. This service was soon after performed 
with still greater solemnity in the cathedral of 
St. Stephen ; the king joined with his face to 
the ground. It was there that the priest used 
the inspired words — ' There was a man sent 
from heaven, and his name was John.' " — III. 
50, 101. 



During this memorable campaign, Sobieski, 
who through life was a tender and affectionate 
husband, wrote daily to his wife. At the age 
of fifty-four he had lost nothing of the tender- 
ness and enthusiasm of his earlier years. In 
one of them he says, "I read all your letters, 
my dear and incomparable Maria, thrice over; 
once when I receive them, once when I retire 
to my tent and am alone with my love, once 
when I sit down to answer them. I beseech 
you, my beloved, do not rise so early ; no 
health can stand such exertions; if you do, 
you will destroy my health, and what is worse, 
injure your own, Avhich is my sole consola- 
tion in this world." When offered the throne 
of Poland, it Avas at first proposed that he 
should divorce his wife, and marry the widow 
of the late king, to reconcile the contending 
faction. " I am not yet a king," said he, " and 
have contracted no obligations towards the 
nation: Let them resume their gift; I disdain 
the throne if it is to be purchased at such a 
price." 

It is superfluous, after these quotations, to 
say any thing of the merits of M. Salvandy's 
work. It unites, in a rare degree, the qualities 
of philosophical thought with brilliant and, 
vivid description ; and is one of the numerous 
instances of the vast superiority of the Modern 
French Historians to most of those of whom 
Great Britain, in the present age, can boast. 
If any thing could reconcile us to the march 
of revolution, it is the vast development of 
talent which has taken place in France since 
her political convulsions commenced, and the 
new field which their genius has opened up 
in historical disquisitions. On comparing the 
historians of the two countries since the resto- 
ration, it seems as if they were teeming with 
the luxuriance of a virgin soil ; while we are 
sinking under the sterility of exhausted cul- 
tivation. Steadily resisting, as we trust we 
shall ever do, the fatal march of French in- 
novation, we shall yet never be found wanting 
in yielding due praise to the splendour of 
French talent; and in the turn which political 
speculation has recently taken among the 
most elevated minds in their active metropolis, 
we are not without hopes that the first rays 
of the dawn are to be discerned, which is 
destined to compensate to mankind for the 
darkness and blood of the revolution. 



64 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



MADAME DE STAEL. 



Amidst the deluge of new and ephemeral 
publications under which the press both in 
France and England is groaning, and the 
wo ful depravity of public taste, in all branches 
of literature, which nn the former country has 
followed the Revolution of the Three Glorious 
Days, it is not the least important part of the 
duty of all those who have any share, however 
inconsiderable, in the direction of the objects 
to which public thought is to be applied, to 
recur from time to time to the great and 
standard works of a former age ; and from 
amidst the dazzling light of passing meteors 
in the lower regions of the atmosphere, to 
endeavour to direct the public gaze to those 
fixed luminaries whose radiance in the higher 
heavens shines, and ever will shine, in im- 
perishable lustre. From our sense of the im- 
portance and utility of this attempt, we are 
not to be deterred by the common remark, 
that these authors are in everybody's hands ; 
that their works are read at school, and their 
names become as household sounds. We 
know that many things are read at school 
which are forgotten at college ; and many 
things learned at college which are unhappily 
and permanently discarded in later years; and 
that there are many authors whose names are 
as household sounds, whose works for that 
very reason are as a strange and unknown 
tongue. Every one has heard of Racine and 
Moliere, of Bossuet and Fenelon, of Voltaire 
and Rousseau, of Chateaubriand and Madame 
de Stael, of Pascal and Rabelais. We would 
beg to ask even our best informed and most 
learned readers, with how many of their works 
they are really familiar ; how many of their 
felicitous expressions have sunk into their 
recollections; how many of their ideas are 
engraven on their memory'? Others may 
possess more retentive memories, or m$re ex- 
tensive reading than we do ; but we confess, 
when we apply such a question, even to the 
constant study of thirty years, we feel not a 
little mortified at the time which has been 
misapplied, and the brilliant ideas once ob- 
tained from others which have now faded 
from the recollection, and should rejoice much 
to obtain from others that retrospect of past 
greatness which we propose ourselves to lay 
before our readers. 

Every one now is so constantly in the habit of 
reading the new publications, of devouring 
the fresh productions of the press, that we for- 
get the extraordinary superiority of standard 
works ; and are obliged to go back to the 
studies of our youth for that superlative en- 
joyment which arises from the perusal of 
authors, where every sentence is thought, and 
often every word conception ; where new trains 
of contemplation or emotion are awakened in 
every page, and the volume is closed almost 



* Blackwood's Magazine, June 1837. 



every minute to meditate on the novelty or 
justice of the reflections which arise from its 
study. And it is not on the first perusal of 
these authors that this exquisite pleasure is 
obtained. In the heyday of youth and strength, 
when imagination is ardent, and the world 
unknown, it is the romance of the story, or the 
general strain of the argument which carries 
the reader on, and many of the finest and most 
spiritual reflections are overlooked or un- 
appreciated; but in later years, when life has 
been experienced, and joy and sorrow felt, 
when the memory is stored with recollections, 
and the imagination with images, it is reflec- 
tion and observation which constitute the chief 
attraction in composition. And judging of the 
changes wrought by Time in others from what 
we have experienced ourselves, we anticipate 
a high gratification, even in the best informed 
readers, by a direction of their attention to 
many passages in the great French writers of 
the age of Louis XIV. and the Revolution, a 
comparison of their excellences, a criticism, 
on their defects, and an exposition of the 
mighty influence which the progress of poli- 
tical events has had upon the ideas reflected, 
even to the greatest authors, from the age in 
which they lived, and the external events 
passing around them. 

The two great eras of French prose litera- 
ture are those of Louis XIV. and the Revo- 
lution. If the former can boast of Bossuet, 
the latter can appeal to Chateaubriand: if the 
former still shine in the purest lustre in 
Fenelon, the latter may boast the more fervent 
pages, and varied genius of De Stael ; if the 
former is supreme in the tragic and comic 
muse, and can array Racine, Corneille and 
Moliere, against the transient Lilliputians of 
the romantic school, the latter can show in 
the poetry and even the prose of Lamartine a 
condensation of feeling, a depth of pathos and 
energy of thought which can never be reached 
but in an age which has undergone the animat- 
ing episodes, the heart-stirring feelings conse- 
quent on social convulsion. In the branches of 
literature which depend on the relations of men 
to each other, history — politics — historical phi- 
losophy and historical romance, the superiority 
of the modern school is so prodigious, that it 
is impossible to find a parallel to it in former 
days : and even the dignified language and 
eagle glance of the Bishop of Meaux sinks 
into insignificance, compared to the vast ability 
which, in inferior minds, experience and actual 
suffering have brought to bear on the in- 
vestigation of public affairs. Modern writers 
were for long at a loss to understand the cause 
which had given such superior pathos, ener- 
gy, and practical wisdom to the historians of 
antiquity; but the French Revolution at once 
explained the mystery. When modern times 
were brought into collision with the passions 
and the suffering consequent on democratic 



MADAME DE STAEL. 



65 



ascendency and social convulsion, they were 
not long of feeling the truths which experience 
had taught to ancient writers, and acquiring 
the power of vivid description and condensed 
yet fervent narrative by which the great his- 
torians of antiquity are characterized. 

At the head of the modern prose writers of 
France, we place Madame de Stael, Chateau- 
briand, and Guizot : The general style of the 
two first and the most imaginative of these 
writers — De Stael and Chateaubriand — is es- 
sentially different from that of Bossuet, Fenelon 
and Massillon. We have no longer either the 
thoughts, the language, or the images of these 
great and dignified writers ! With the pompous 
grandeur of the Grande Monarque ; with the 
awful splendour of the palace, and the irresisti- 
ble power of the throne ; with the superb mag- 
nificence of Versailles, its marbles, halls, and 
forests of statues, have passed away the train 
of thought by which the vices and corruption 
then chiefly prevalent in society were combated 
by these worthy soldiers of the militia of 
Christ. Strange to say, the ideas of that des- 
potic age are more condemnatory of princes; 
more eulogistic of the people, more con- 
firmatory of the principles which, if pushed to 
their legitimate consequences, lead to demo- 
cracy, than those of the age when the sove- 
reign ty of the people was actually established. 
In their eloquent declamations, the wisdom, 
justice, and purity of the masses are the con- 
stant subject of eulogy; almost all social and 
political evils are traced to the corruptions of 
courts and the vices of kings. The applause 
of the people, the condemnation of rulers, in 
Telemachus, often resembles rather the frothy 
declamations of the Tribune in favour of the 
sovereign multitude, than the severe lessons 
addressed by a courtly prelate to the heir of a 
despotic throne. With a fearless courage 
worthy of the highest commendation, and very 
different from the base adulation of modem 
times to the Baal of popular power, Bossuet, 
Massillon, and Bourdaloue, incessantly rung 
in the ears of their courtly auditory the equality 
of mankind in the sight of heaven" and the 
awful words of judgment to come. These im- 
aginary and Utopian effusions now excite a 
smile, even in the most youthful student ; and 
a suffering age, taught by the experienced 
evils of democratic ascendency, has now 
learned to appreciate, as they deserve, the pro- 
found and caustic sayings in which Aristotle, 
Sallust, and Tacitus have delivered to future 
ages the condensed wisdom on the instability 
and tyranny of the popular rule, which ages 
of calamity had brought home to the sages of 
antiquity. 

In Madame de Stael and Chateaubriand we 
have incomparably more originality and va- 
riety of thought; far more just and expe- 
rienced views of human affairs ; far more 
condensed wisdom, which the statesman and 
the philosopher may treasure in their memo- 
ries, than in the great writers of the age of 
Louis XIV. We see at once in their produc- 
tions that we are dealing with those who speak 
from experience of human affairs ; to whom 
years of suffering have brought centuries of 
wisdom ; and whom the stern school of adver- 



sity have learned to abjure both much of the 
fanciful El Dorado speculations of preceding 
philosophy, and the perilous effusions of suc- 
ceeding republicanism. Though the one was 
by birth and habit an aristocrat of the ancient 
and now decaying school, and the other, a 
liberal nursed at the feet of the great Gamaliel 
of the Revolution, yet there is no material dif- 
ference in their political conclusions; so com- 
pletely does a close observation of the progress 
of a revolution induce the same conclusions 
in minds of the highest stamp, with whatever 
early prepossessions the survey may have 
been originally commenced. The Dix Annees 
d'Exil, and the observations on the French 
revolution, might have been written by Cha- 
teaubriand, and Madame de Stael would have 
little wherefrom to dissent in the Monarchic 
selon la Charte, or later political writings of 
her illustrious rival. 

It is by their works of imagination, taste, 
and criticism, however, that these immortal 
writers are principally celebrated, and it is 
with them that we propose to commence this 
critical survey. Their names are universally 
known : Corinne, Delphine, De f Allemagne, 
the Dix Annees d'Exil, and De la Litterature, 
are as familiar in sound, at least, to our ears, 
as the Genie de Christianisme, the Itineraire, 
the Martyrs, Atala et Rene of the far-travelled 
pilgrim of expiring feudalism, are to our 
memories. Each has beauties of the very 
highest cast in this department, and yet their 
excellences are so various, that we know not 
to which to award the palm. If driven to dis- 
criminate between them, we should say that 
De Stael has more sentiment, Chateaubriand 
more imagination ; that the former has deeper 
knowledge of human feelings, and the latter 
more varied and animated pictures of human 
manners ; that the charm of the former con- 
sists chiefly in the just and profound views of 
life, its changes and emotions with which her 
works abound, and the fascination of the latter 
in the brilliant phantasmagoria of actual 
scenes, impressions, and events which his 
writings exhibit. No one can exceed Madame 
de Stael in the expression of the sentiment or 
poetry of nature, or the development of the 
Taried and storied associations which histori- 
cal scenes or monuments never fail to awaken 
in tlie cultivated mind; but in the delineation 
of the actual features she exhibits, or the 
painting of the various and gorgeous scenery 
or objects she presents, she is greatly inferior 
to the author of the Genius of Christianity. 
She speaks emotion to tne neart, not pictures 
to the eye. Chateaubriand, on the other hand, 
has dipped his pencil in the finest and most 
radiant hues of nature: with a skill surpassing 
even that of the Great Magician of :he North, 
he depicts all the most splendid scenes of both 
hemispheres; and seizing with the inspiration 
of genius on the really characteristic features 
of the boundless variety of objects he has 
visited, brings them before ps with a force and 
fidelity which it is impossible to surpass. 
After all, however, on rising from a perusal 
of the great works of these two authors, it is 
hard to say which has left the most indelible 
impression on the mind; for if the one has 
f2 



66 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



accumulated a store of brilliant pictures which 
have never yet been rivalled, the other has 
drawn from the objects on which she has 
touched all the most profound emotions which 
they could awaken; and if the first leaves a 
gorgeous scene painted on the mind, the latter 
has engraved a durable impression on the 
heart. 

Couinne is not to be regarded as a novel. 
Boarding-school girls, and youths just fledged 
from college, may admire it as such, and dwell 
with admiration on the sorrows of the heroine 
and the faithlessness of Lord Nevil ; but con- 
sidered in that view it has glaring faults, both 
in respect of fancy, probability, and story, and 
will bear no comparison either with the great 
novels of Sir Walter Scott, or the secondary 
productions of his numerous imitators. The 
real view in which to regard it is as a picture 
of Italy; its inhabitants, feelings, and recollec- 
tions ; its cloudless skies and glassy seas ; its 
forest-clad hills and sunny vales ; its umbra- 
geous groves and mouldering forms ; its heart- 
inspiring ruins and deathless scenes. As such 
it is superior to any work on that subject which 
has appeared in any European language. No- 
where else shall we find so rich and glowing 
an intermixture of sentiment with description ; 
of deep feeling for the beauty of art, with a 
correct perception of its leading principles ; 
of historical lore with poetical fancy; of ar- 
dour in the cause of social amelioration, with 
charity to the individuals who, under unfortu- 
nate institutions, are chained to a life of indo- 
lence and pleasure. Beneath the glowing sun 
and azure skies of Italy she has imbibed the 
real modern Italian spirit: she exhibits in the 
mouth of her heroine all that devotion to art, 
that rapturous regard to antiquity, that insou- 
ciance in ordinary life, and constant bcsoin of 
fresh excitement by which that remarkable 
people are distinguished from any other at 
present in Europe. She paints them as they 
really are ; living on the recollection of the 
past, feeding on the glories of their double set 
of illustrious ancestors ; at times exulting in 
the recollection of the legions which subdued 
the world, at others recurring with pride to 
the glorious though brief days of modern art ; 
mingling the names of Caesar, Pompey, Cicero, 
and Virgil with those of Michael Angelo, Ra- 
phael, Buonarotti, and Correggio ; repeating 
with admiration the stanzas of Tasso as they 
glide through the deserted palaces of Venice, 
and storing their minds with the rich creations 
of Ariosto's fancy as they gaze on the stately 
monuments of Rome. 

Not less vividly has she portrayed, in the 
language, feelings, and character of her he- 
roine, the singular intermixture with these 
animating recollections of all the frivolity 
which has rendered impossible, without a 
fresh impregnation of northern vigour, the 
regeneration of Italian society. We see in 
her pages, as we witness in real life, talents 
the most commanding, beauty the most fasci- 
nating, graces the most captivating, devoted 
to no other object but the excitement of a 
transient passion; infidelity itself subjected to 
certain restraints, and boasting of its fidelity 
to one attachment; whole classes of society 



incessantly occupied with no other object but 
the gratification of vanity, the thraldom of at- 
tachment, or the imperious demands of beauty, 
and the strongest propensity of cultivated life, 
the bcsoin tTqimer, influencing, for the best part of 
their lives, the higher classes of both sexes. 
In such representation there would probably 
be nothing in the hands of an ordinary writer 
but frivolous or possibly pernicious details ; 
but by Madame de Stael it is touched on so 
gently, so strongly intermingled with senti- 
ment, and traced so naturally to its ultimate 
and disastrous effects, that the picture be- 
comes not merely characteristic of manners, 
but purifying in its tendency. 

The Dix Anneks d'Exil, though abounding 
with fewer splendid and enchanting passages, 
is written in a higher strain, and devoted to 
more elevated objects than the Italian novel'. 
It exhibits the Imperial Government of Napo- 
leon in the palmy days of his greatness ; when 
all the Continent had bowed the neck to his 
power, and from the rock of Gibraltar to the 
Frozen Ocean, not a voice dared to be lifted 
against his commands. It shows the internal 
tyranny and vexations of this formidable 
power; its despicable jealousies and con- 
temptible vanity ; its odious restrictions and 
tyrannizing tendency. We see the censorship 
chaining the human mind to the night of the 
tenth in the opening of the nineteenth century; 
the commands of the police fettering every 
effort of independent thought and free discus- 
sion ; forty millions of men slavishly following 
the car of a victor, who, in exchange for all 
the advantages of freedom, hoped but never 
obtained from the Revolution, dazzled them 
with the glitter only of gilded chains. In her 
subsequent migrations through Tyrol, Poland, 
Russia, and Sweden, to avoid his persecution 
during the years which preceded the Russian 
war, we have the noblest picture of the ele- 
vated feelings which, during this period of 
general oppression, were rising up in the na- 
tions which yet preserved a shadow of inde- 
pendence, as well as of the heroic stand made 
by Alexander and his brave subjects against 
the memorable invasion which ultimately 
proved their oppressor's ruin. These are 
animating themes ; and though not in general 
inclined to dwell on description, or enrich her 
work with picturesque narrative, the scenery 
of the north had wakened profound emotions 
in her heart which appear in many touches 
and reflections of no ordinary sublimity. 

Chateaubriand addresses himself much more 
habitually and systematically to the eye. He 
paints what he has seen, whether in nature, 
society, manners, or art, with the graphic skill 
of a consummate draughtsman; and produces 
the emotion he is desirous of awakening, not 
by direct words calculated to arouse it, but by 
enabling the imagination to depict to itself the 
objects which in nature, by their felicitous com- 
bination, produced the impression. Madame 
de Stael does not paint the features of the 
scene, but in a few words she portrays the 
emotion which she experienced on beholding 
it, and contrives by these few words to awaken 
it in her readers ; Chateaubriand enumerates 
with a painter's power all the features of the 



MADAME DE STAEL. 



67 



scene, and by the vividness of description 
succeeds not merely in painting it on the 
retina of the mind, but in awakening there the 
precise emotion which he himself felt on 
beholding it. The one speaks to the heart 
through the eye, the other to the eye through 
the heart. As we travel with the illustrious 
pilgrim of the Revolution, we see rising before 
us in successive clearness the lonely temples, 
and glittering valleys, and storied capes of 
Greece ; the desert plains and rocky ridges 
and sepulchral hollows of Judea ; the solitary 
palms and stately monuments of Egypt; the 
isolated remains of Carthage, the deep solitudes 
of America, the sounding cataracts, and still 
lakes, and boundless forests of the New World. 
Not less vivid is his description of human 
scenes and actions, of which, during his event- 
ful career, he has seen such an extraordinary 
variety ; the Janissary, the Tartar, the Turk ; 
the Bedouins of the desert places, the Numi- 
dians of the torrid zone; the cruel revolution- 
ists of France ; the independent savages of 
America ; the ardent mind of Napoleon, the 
dauntless intrepidity of Pitt. Nothing can 
exceed the variety and brilliancy of the pictures 
which he leaves engraven on the imagination 
of his reader; but he has neither touched the 
heart nor convinced the judgment like the 
profound hand of his female rival. 

To illustrate these observations we have 
selected two of the most brilliant descriptions 
from Chateaubriand's Genie de Christianisme, 
and placed beside these two of the most in- 
spired of Madame de StaeTs passages on 
Roman scenery. We shall subjoin two of the 
most admirable descriptions by Sir Walter 
Scott, that the reader may at once have pre- 
sented to his view the masterpieces, in the 
descriptive line, of the three greatest authors 
of the age. All the passages are translated by 
ourselves; we have neither translations at 
hand, nor inclination to mar so much elo- 
quence by the slovenly dress in which it usual- 
ly appears in an English version. 

"There is a God ! The herbs of the valley, 
the cedars of the mountain, bless him — the 
insect sports in his beams — the elephant 
salutes him with the rising orb of day — the 
bird sings him in the foliage — the thunder 
proclaims him in the heavens — the ocean de- 
clares his immensity — man alone has said, 
* There is no God !' 

"Unite in thought, at the same instant, the 
most beautiful objects in nature ; suppose that 
you see at once all the hours of the day, and 
all the seasons of the year; a morning of 
spring and a morning of autumn ; a night be- 
spangled with stars, and a night covered with 
clouds ; meadows enamelled with flowers, 
forests hoary with snow ; fields gilded by the 
tints of autumn ; then alone you will have a 
just conception of the universe. While you 
are gazing on that sun which is plunging under 
the vault of the west, another observer admires 
him emerging from the gilded gates of the east. 
By what unconceivable magic does that aged 
star, which is sinking fatigued and burning in 
the shades of the evening, reappear at the same 
instant fresh and humid with the rosy dew of 
the morning ? At every instant of the day the 



glorious orb is at once rising — resplendent at 
noonday, and setting in the west ; or rather 
our senses deceive us, and there is, properly 
speaking, no east, or south, or west, in the 
world. Every thing reduces itself to one single 
point, from whence the King of Day sends 
forth at once a triple light in one single sub- 
stance. The bright splendour is perhaps that 
which nature can present that is most beauti- 
ful ; for while it gives us an idea of the per- 
petual magnificence and resistless power of 
God, it exhibits, at the same time, a shining 
image of the glorious Trinity." 

Human eloquence probably cannot, in de- 
scription, go beyond this inimitable passage ; 
but it is equalled in the pictures left us by the 
same author of two scenes in the New World. 

" One evening, when it was a profound calm, 
we were sailing through those lovely seas 
which bathe the coast of Virginia, — all the 
sails were furled — I was occupied below when 
I heard the bell which called the mariners 
upon deck to prayers — I hastened to join my 
orisons to those of the rest of the crew. The 
officers were on the forecastle, with the passen- 
gers; the priest, with his prayer-book in his 
hand, stood a little in advance ; the sailors were 
scattered here and there on the deck; we were 
all above, with our faces turned towards the 
prow of the vessel, which looked to the west. 

"The globe of the sun, ready to plunge into 
the waves, appeared between the ropes of the 
vessel in the midst of boundless space. You 
would have imagined, from the balancing of 
the poop, that the glorious luminary changed 
at every instant its horizon. A few light clouds 
were scattered without order in the east, where 
the moon was slowly ascending ; all the rest of 
the sky was unclouded. Towards the north, 
forming a glorious triangle with the star of day 
and that of night, a glittering cloud arose from 
the sea, resplendent with the colours of the 
prism, like a crystal pile supporting the vault 
of heaven. 

"He is much to be pitied who could have 
witnessed this scene, without feeling the beau-^ 
ty of God. Tears involuntarily flowed from 
my eyes, when my companions, taking off 
their hats, began to sing, in their hoarse strains, 
the simple hymn of Our Lady of Succour. 
How touching was that prayer of men, who, 
on a fragile plank, in the midst of the ocean, 
contemplated the sun setting in the midst of 
the waves! How that simple invocation of the 
mariners to the mother of woes, went to the 
heart ! The consciousness of our littleness 
in the sight of Infinity — our chants prolonged 
afar over the waves — night approaching with 
its sable wings — a whole crew of a vessel 
filled with admiration and a holy fear — God 
bending over the abyss, with one hand retain- 
ing the sun at the gates of the west, with the 
other raising the moon in the east, and yet 
lending an attentive ear to the voice of prayer 
ascending from a speck in the immensity — all 
combined to form an assemblage which can- 
not be described, and of which the human 
heart could hardly bear the weight. 

"The scene at land was not less ravishing 
One evening I had lost my way in a forest, as 
a short distance from the Falls of Niagara 



68 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



Soon the day expired around me, and I tasted, 
in all its solitude, the lovely spectacle of a 
night in the deserts of the New World. 

" An hour after sunset the moon showed it- 
self above the branches, on the opposite side 
of the horizon. An embalmed breeze, which 
the Queen of Night seemed to bring with her 
from the East, preceded her with its freshen- 
ing gales. The solitary star ascended by de- 
grees in the heavens ; sometimes she followed 
peaceably her azure course, sometimes she 
reposed on the groups of clouds, which re- 
sembled the summits of lofty mountains covered 
with snow. These clouds, opening and clos- 
ing their sails, now spread themselves out in 
transparent zones of white satin, now dis- 
persed into light bubbles of foam, or formed 
m the heavens bars of white so dazzling and 
sweet, that you could almost believe you felt 
their snowy surface. 

" The scene on the earth was of equal beau- 
ty ; the declining day, and the light of the moon, 
descended into the intervals of the trees, and 
spread a faint gleam even in the profoundest 
part of the darkness. The river which Mowed 
at my feet, alternately lost itself in the woods, 
and reappeared brilliant with the constella- 
tions of night which reposed on its bosom. In 
a savanna on the other side of the river, the 
moonbeams slept without movement, on the 
verdant turf. A few birches, agitated by the 
breeze, and dispersed here and there, formed 
isles of floating shadow on that motionless sea 
of light. All would have been in profound 
repose, but for the fall of a few leaves, the 
breath of a transient breeze, and the moaning 
of the owl ; while, in the distance, at intervals 
the deep roar of Niagara was heard, which, 
prolonged from desert to desert in the calm of 
the night, expired at length in the endless 
solitude of the forest. 

" The grandeur, the surpassing melancholy 
of that scene, can be expressed by no human 
tongue — the finest nights of Europe can give 
no conception of it. In vain, amidst our cul- 
tivated fields, does the imagination seek to ex- 
pand — it meets on all sides the habitations of 
men ; but in those savage regions the soul 
loves to shroud itself in the ocean of forests, 
to hang over the gulf of cataracts, to meditate 
on the shores of lakes and rivers, and feel 
itself alone as it were with God. 

'Praesentiorem conspicimus Deum, 
Fera per juga, clivosque pneruptos, 
Sonantes inter aquas nemorumque noctein-.' " 

We doubt if any passages ever were written 
of more thrilling descriptive eloquence than 
these ; hereafter we shall contrast them with 
some of the finest of Lamartine, which have 
equalled but not exceeded them. But now 
mark the different style with which Madame 
de Stael treats the heart-stirring monuments 
of Roman greatness. ' 

" At this moment St. Peter arose to their 
view; the greatest edifice which man has ever 
raised, for the Pyramids themselves are of less 
considerable elevation. I would perhaps have 
done better, said Corinne, to have taken you 
to the most beautiful of our edifices last; but 
that is not my.system. I am convinced that, 
to render one alive to the charm of the fine 



arts, we should commence with those objects 
which awaken a lively and profound admira- 
tion. When once that sentiment has been 
experienced, a new sphere of ideas is awaken- 
ed, which renders us susceptible of the im- 
pression produced by beauties of an inferior 
order; they revive, though in a lesser degree, 
the first impression which has been received. 
All these gradations in producing emotion are 
contrary to my opinion ; you do not arrive at 
the sublime by successive steps; infinite de- 
grees separate it from the beautiful. 

" Oswald experienced an extraordinary emo- 
tion on arriving in front of the facade of St. 
Peter's. It was the first occasion on which a 
work of human hands produced on him the 
effects of one of the marvels of nature. It is 
the only effort of human industry which has 
the grandeur which characterizes the imme- 
diate works of the Creator. Corinne rejoiced 
in the astonishment of Oswald. ' I have 
chosen,' said she, ' a day when the sun was 
shining in all its eclat to show you this monu- 
ment for the first time. I reserve for you a 
more sacred religious enjoyment, to contem- 
plate it by the light of the moon ; but at this 
moment it was necessary to obtain your pre- 
sence at the most brilliant of our fetes, the 
genius of man decorated by the magnificence 
of nature.' 

" The Place of St. Peter is surrounded by 
columns, which appear light at a distance, but 
massy when seen near. The earth, which 
rises gently to the gate of the church, adds to 
the effect it produces. An obelisk of eighty 
feet in height, which appears as nothing in 
presence of the cupola of St. Peter's, is in the 
middle of the place. The form of obelisks 
has something in it which is singularly pleas- 
ing to the imagination; their summit loses 
itself in the clouds, and seems even to elevate 
to the Heavens a great thought of man. -That 
monument, which was brought from Egypt to 
adorn the baths of Caracalla, and which Sex- 
tus V. subseqaently transported to the foot of 
the Temple of St. Peter ; that contemporary 
of so many ages which have sought in vain to 
decay its solid frame, inspires respect ; man 
feels himself so fleeting, that he always expe- 
riences emotion in presence of that which has 
passed unchanged through many ages. At a 
little distance, on each side of the obelisk, are 
two fountains, the waters of which perpetually 
are projected up and fall down in cascades 
through the air. That murmur of waters, 
which is usually heard only in the field, pro- 
duces in such a situation a new sensation ; 
but one in harmony with that which arises 
from the aspect of so majestic a temple. 

" Painting or sculpture, imitating in general 
the human figure, or some object in external 
nature, awaken in our minds distinct and posi- 
tive ideas : but a beautiful monument of archi- 
tecture has not any determinate expression, 
and the spectator is seized, on contemplating 
it, with that reverie, without any definite ob- 
ject, which leads the thoughts so far off. The 
sound of the waters adds to these vague and 
profound impressions ; it is uniform, as the 
edifice is regular. 

'Eternal movement and eternal repose' 



MADAME DE STAEL. 



69 



are thus brought to combine with each other. 
It is here, in an especial manner, that Time is 
without power; it never dries up those spark- 
ling streams ; it never shakes those immovable 
pillars. The waters, which spring up in fan- 
like luxuriance from these fountains, are so 
light and vapoury, that, in a fine day, the rays 
of the sun produce little rainbows of the most 
beautiful colour. 

"Stop a moment here, said Corinne to Lord 
Nelvil, as he stood under the portico of the 
church ; pause before drawing aside the cur- 
tain which covers the entrance of the Temple. 
Does not your heart beat at the threshold of 
that sanctuary'? Do you not feel, on entering 
it, the emotion consequent on a solemn event? 
At these words Corinne herself drew aside the 
curtain, and held it so as to let Lord Nelvil 
enter. Her attitude ivvs so beautiful in doing so, 
that for a moment it withdrew the eyes of her lover 
even from the majestic interior of the Temple. But 
as he advanced, its greatness burst upon his 
mind, and the impression which he received 
under its lofty arches was so profound, that the 
sentiment of love was ffir a time effaced. He 
walked slowly beside Corinne ; both were 
silent. Every thing enjoined contemplation ; 
the slightest sound resounded so far, that no 
word appeared worthy of being repeated in 
those eternal mansions. Prayer alone, the 
voice of misfortune was heard at intervals in 
their vast vaults. And, when under those 
stupendous domes, you hear from afar the 
voice of an old man, whose trembling steps 
totter along those beautiful marbles, watered 
with so many tears, you feel that man is ren- 
dered more dignified by that very infirmity of 
his nature which exposes his divine spirit to 
so many kinds of suffering, and that Chris- 
tianity, the worship of grief, contains the true 
secret of man's sojourn upon earth. 

" Corinne interrupted the reverie of Oswald, 
and said to him, 'You have seen the Gothic 
churches of England and Germany, and must 
have observed that they are distinguished by a 
much more sombre character than this cathe- 
dral. There is something mystical in the Ca- 
tholicism of these Northern people ; ours 
speaks to the imagination by exterior objects. 
Michael Angelo said, on beholding the cupola 
of the Pantheon, 'I will place it in the air;' 
and, in truth, St. Peter's is a temple raised on 
the basement of a church. There is a certain 
alliance of the ancient worship v/ith Christi- 
anity in the effect which the interior of that 
church produces: I often go to walk here 
alone, in order to restore to my mind the tran- 
quillity it may have lost. The sight of such a 
monument is like a continual and fixed music, 
awaiting you to pour its balm into your mind, 
whenever you approach it ; and' certainly, 
among the man]' titles of this nation to glory, 
we must number the patience, courage, and 
disinterestedness of the chiefs of the church, 
who consecrated, during a hundred and- fifty 
years, such vast treasures and boundless 
labour to the prosecution of a work, of which 
none of them could hope to enjoy the fruits.'" 
— Corinne, vol. i. c. 3. 

In this magnificent passage, the words un- 
derlined are an obvious blemish. The idea 



of Oswald turning aside at the entrance of St. 
Peter's from the gaze of the matchless interior 
of the temple, a spectacle unique in the world, 
to feast his eye by admiration of his inamorata^ 
is more than we, in the frigid latitudes of the 
north, can altogether understand. But Ma- 
dame de Stac-1 was a woman, and a French- 
woman ; and apparently she could not resist 
the opportunity of signalizing the triumph of 
her sex, by portraying the superiority of female 
beauty to the grandest and most imposing ob- 
ject that the hands of man have ever reared. 
Abstracting from this feminine weakness, the 
passage is one of almost uniform' beauty, and 
well illustrates the peculiar descriptive style 
of the author; not painting objects, but touch- 
ing the cords which cause emotions to vibrate. 
She has unconsciously characterized her own 
style, as compared with that of Chateaubriand, 
in describing the different characters of the 
cathedrals of the North and South. — " There is 
something mystical in the Catholicism of the 
Northern people ; ours speaks to the imagina- 
tion by exterior objects." 

As another specimen of Madame de Stael's 
descriptive powers, take her picture of the 
Appian Way, with its long lines of tombs on 
either side, on the southern quarter of Rome. 

"She conducted Lord Nelvil beyond the 
gates of the city, on the ancient traces of the 
Appian Way. These traces are marked in 
the middle of the Campagna of Rome by 
tombs, on the right and left of which the ruins 
extend as far as the eye can reach for several 
miles beyond the walls. Cicero says that, on. 
leaving the gate, the first tombs you meet are 
those of Metellus, the Scipios, and Servillius. 
The tornb of the Scipios has been discovered 
in the very place which he describes, and 
transported to the Vatican. Yet it was, in 
some sort, a sacrilege to displace these illus- 
trious ashes ; imagination is more nearly allied 
than is generally imagined to morality; we 
must beware of shocking it. Some of these 
tombs are so large, that the houses of peasants 
have been worked out in them, for the Romans 
consecrated a large space to the last remains 
of their friends and their relatives. They 
were strangers to that arid principle of utility 
which fertilizes a few corners of earth, the 
more by devastating the vast domain of senti- 
ment and thought. 

" You see at a little distance from the Ap- 
pian Way a temple raised by the Republic to 
Honour and Virtue ; another to the God which, 
compelled Hannibal to remeasure his steps; 
the Temple of Egeria, where Numa went to 
consult his tutelar deity, is at a little distance 
on the left hand. Around these tombs the 
traces of virtue alone are to be found. No 
monument of the long ages of crime which 
disgraced the empire are to be met with be- 
side the places where these illustrious dead 
repose ; they rest amongst the relics of the 
republic. 

"The aspect of the Campagna around Rome 
has something in it singularly remarkable. 
Doubtless it is a desert; there are neither 
trees nor habitations ; but the earth is covered 
with a profusion of natural flowers, which 
the energy of vegetation renews incessantly 



70 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



These creeping plants insinuate themselves 
among the tombs, decorate the ruins, and 
seem to grow solely to do honour to the dead. 
You would suppose that nature was too proud 
there to suffer the labours of man, since Cin- 
cinnatus no longer holds the plough which 
furrows its bosom; it produces flowers in 
wild profusion, which are of no sort of use to 
the existing generation. These vast unculti- 
vated planes will doubtless have few attrac- 
tions for the agriculturist, administrators, and 
all those who speculate on the earth, with a 
view to extract from it the riches it is capable 
of affording; but the thoughtful minds, whom 
death occupies as much as life, are singularly 
attracted by the aspect of that Campagna, 
where the present times have left no trace ; 
that earth which cherishes only the dead, and 
covers them in its love with useless flowers — 
plants which creep along the surface, and 
never acquire sufficient strength to separate 
themselves from the ashes, which they have the 
appearance of caressing." — Corinne, 1. v. c. 1. 

How many travellers have traversed the 
Appian Way, but how few have felt the deep 
impressions which these words are fitted to 
produce ! 

" The churches of modern Rome," continues 
the same author, " are decorated with the mag- 
nificence of antiquity, but there is something 
sombre and striking in the intermingling of 
these beautiful marbles with the ornaments 
stripped from the Pagan temples. The columns 
of porphyry and granite were so numerous at 
Rome that they ceased to have any value. At 
St. John Lateran, that church, so famous from 
the councils of which it was the theatre, there 
were such a quantity of marble columns that 
many of them were covered with plaster to be 
converted into pilasters — so completely had 
the multitude of riches rendered men indiffer- 
ent to them. Some of these columns came 
from the tomb of Adrian, and bear yet upon 
their capitals the mark of the geese which 
saved the Roman people. These columns 
support the ornaments of Gothic churches, 
and some rich sculptures in the arabesque 
order. The urn of Agrippa has received the 
ashes of a pcpe, for the dead themselves have 
yielded their place to other dead, and the tombs 
have changed tenants nearly as often as the 
mansions of the living. 

" Near to St. John Lateran is the holy stair, 
transported from Jerusalem. No one is per- 
mitted to go up it but on his knees. In like 
manner Caesar and Claudius ascended on their 
knees the stair which led to the temple of Ju- 
piter Capitolinus. Beside St. John Lateran is 
the Baptistery, where Constantine was bap- 
tized — in the middle of the place before .the 
church is an obelisk, perhaps the most ancient 
monument which exists in the world — an obe- 
lisk contemporary of the War of Troy — an 
obelisk which the barbarian Cambyses re- 
spected so much as to stop for its beauty the 
conflagration of a city — an obelisk for which 
a king put in pledge the life of his only son. 
The Romans in a surprising manner got it 
conveyed from the extremity of Egypt to Italy 
— they turned aside the course of the Nile to 
bring its waters so as to convey it to the sea. 



Even then that obelisk was covered with 
hieroglyphics whose secrets have been kept 
for so many ages, and which still withstand 
the researches of our most learned scholars. 
Possibly the Indians, the Egyptians, the anti- 
quity of antiquity, might be revealed to us in 
these mysterious signs. The wonderful charm 
of Rome consists, not merely in the beauty of 
its monuments, but in the interest which they 
all awaken, and that species of charm increases 
daily with every fresh study." — Ibid. c. 3. 

We add only a feeble prosaic translation of 
the splendid improvisatorc effusion of Corinne 
on the Cape of Mesinum, surrounded by the 
marvels of the shore of Baice and the Phleg- 
rian fields. 

" Poetry, nature, history, here rival each 
other in grandeur — here "you can embrace in 
a single glance all the revolutions of time and 
all its prodigies. 

" I see the Lake of Avernus, the extin- 
guished crater of a volcano, whose waters 
formerly inspired so much terror — Acheron, 
Phlegeton, which a subterraneous flame caused 
to boil, are the riveic of the infernals visited 
by iEneas. 

" Fire, that devouring element which created 
the world, and is destined to consume it, was 
formerly an object of the greater terror that 
its laws were unknown. Nature, in the olden 
times, revealed its secrets to poetry alone. 

" The city of Cumse, the Cave of the Sibylle, 
the Temple of Apollo, were placed on that 
height. There grew the wood whence was 
gathered the golden branch. The country of 
iEneas is around you, and the fictions conse- 
crated by genius have become recollections of 
which we still seek the traces. 

"A Triton plunged into these waves the 
presumptive Trojan who dared to defy the di- 
vinities of the deep by his songs — these water- 
worn and sonorous rocks have still the cha- 
racter which Virgil gave them. Imagination 
was faithful even in the midst of its omnipo- 
tence. The genius of man is creative when 
he feels Nature — imitative when he fancies he 
is creating. 

" In the midst of these terrible masses, gray 
witnesses of the creation, we see a new moun- 
tain which the volcano has produced. Here 
the earth is stormy as the ocean, and does 
not, like it, re-enter peaceably into its limits. 
The heavy element, elevated by subterraneous 
fire, fills up valleys, ' rains mountains,' and its 
petrified waves attest the tempests which once 
tore its entrails. 

"If you strike on this hill -the subterraneous 
vault resounds — you would say that the in- 
habited earth is nothing but a crust ready to 
open and swallow us up. The Campagna of 
Naples is the image of human passion — sul- 
phurous, but fruitful, its dangers and its plea- 
sures appear to grow out of those glowing 
volcanoes which give to the air so many 
charms, and cause the thunder to roll beneath 
our feet. 

"Pliny boasted that his country was the 
most beautiful in existence — he studied nature 
to be able to appreciate its charms. Seeking 
the inspiration of science as a warrior does 
conquest, he set forth from this promontory to 



MADAME DE STAEL. 



71 



observe Vesuvius athwart the flames, and 
those flames consumed him. 

"Cicero lost his life near the promontory 
of Gaeta, which is seen in the distance. The 
Triumvirs, regardless of posterity, bereaved 
it of the thoughts which that great man had 
conceived — it was on us that his murder was 
committed. 

"Cicero sunk beneath the poniards of ty- 
rants — Scipio, more unfortunate, was banished 
by his fellow-citizens while still in the enjoy- 
ment of freedom. He terminated his days 
near that shore, and the ruins of his tomb are 
still called the ' Tower of our Country.' What 
a touching allusion to the last thought of that 
great spirit! 

" Marius fled into those marshes not far from 
the last home of Scipio. Thus in all ages the 
people have persecuted the really great; but 
they are avenged by their apotheosis, and the 
Roman who conceived their power extended 
even unto Heaven, placed Romulus, Numa, 
and Caesar in the firmament — new stars which 
confound in our eyes the ra) r s of glory and the 
celestial radiance. 

"Oh, memory! noble power! thy empire is 
in these scenes ! From age to age, strange 
destiny ! man is incessantly bewailing what 
he has lost ! These remote ages are the de- 
positaries in their turn of a greatness which is 
no more, and while the pride of thought, glory- 
ing in its progress, darts into futurity, our soul 
seems still to regret an ancient country to 
which the past in some degree brings it 
back." — Lib. xii. c. 4. 

Enough has now been given to give the un- 
lettered reader a conception of the descriptive 
character of these two great continental 
writers — to recall to the learned one some of 
the most delightful moments of his life. To 
complete the parallel, we shall now present 
three of the finest passages of a similar cha- 
racter from Sir Walter Scott, that our readers 
may be able to appreciate at a single sitting 
the varied excellences of the greatest masters 
of poetic prose who have appeared in modern 
times. 

The first is the well-known opening scene 
of Ivanhoe. 

"The sun was setting upon one of the rich 
grassy glades of that forest, which we have 
mentioned in the beginning of the chapter. 
Hundreds of broad-headed, short-stemmed, 
wide-branched oaks, which had witnessed per- 
haps the stately march of the Roman soldiery, 
flung their gnarled arms over a thick carpet 
of the most delicious green sward; in some 
places they were intermingled with beeches, 
hollies, and copsewood of various descrip- 
tions, so closely as totally to intercept the level 
beams of the sinking sun; in others they re- 
ceded from each other, forming those long 
sweeping vistas, in the intricacy of which the 
eye delights to lose itself, while imagination 
considers them as the paths to yet wilder 
scenes of silvan solitude. Here the red rays 
of the sun shot a broken and discoloured light, 
that partially hung upon the shattered boughs 
and mossy trunks of the trees, and there "they 
illuminated in brilliant patches the portions 
<of turf to which they made their way. A con- 



siderable open space, in the midst of this glade, 
seemed formerly to have been dedicated to the 
rites of Druidical superstition ; for, on the sum- 
mit of a hillock, so regular as to seem artificial, 
there still remained part of a circle of rough 
unhewn stones, of large dimensions. Seven 
stood upright ; the rest had been dislodged 
from their places, probably by the zeal of 
some convert to Christianity, and lay, some 
prostrate near their former site, and others on 
the side of the hill. One large stone only had 
found its way to the bottom, and in stopping 
the course of a small brook, which glided 
smoothly round the foot of the eminence, gave, 
by its opposition, a feeble voice of murmur to 
the placid and elsewhere silent streamlet." 

The next is the equally celebrated descrip- 
tion of the churchyard in the introductory 
chapter of Old Mortality. 

"Farther up the narrow valley, and in a re- 
cess which seems scooped out of the side of 
the steep heathy bank, there is a deserted 
burial-ground which the little cowards are 
fearful of approaching in the twilight. To 
me, however, the place has an inexpressible 
charm. It has been long the favourite termi- 
nation of my walks, and, if my kind patron 
forgets not his promise, will (and probably at 
no very distant day) be my final resting-place 
after my mortal pilgrimage. 

" It is a spot which possesses all the solem- 
nity of feeling attached to a burial-ground, 
without exciting those of a more unplcasing 
description. Having been very little used for 
many years, the few hillocks which rise above 
the level plain are covered with the same 
short velvet turf. The monuments, of which 
there are not above seven or eight, are half 
sunk in the ground and overgrown with moss. 
No newly-erected tomb disturbs the sober se- 
renity of our reflections, by reminding us of 
recent calamity, and no rank springing grass 
forces upon our imagination the recollection, 
that it owes its dark luxuriance to the foul and 
festering remnants of mortality whicfi ferment 
beneath. The daisy which sprinkles the sod, 
and the hair-bell which hangs over it. derive 
their pure nourishment froni the dew of Heaven, 
and their growth impresses us with no degrad- 
ing or disgusting recollections. Death has in- 
deed been here, and its traces are before us; 
but they are softened and deprived of their 
horror by our distance from the period when 
they have been first impressed. Those who 
sleep beneath are only connected with us by 
the reflection, that they have once been what 
we now are, and that, as their relics are no>w 
identified with their mother earth, ours shall, 
at some future period, undergo the same trans- 
formation." 

The third is a passage equally well known, 
but hardly less beautiful, from the Antiquary. 

"The sun was now resting his huge disk 
upon the edge of the level ocean, and gilded 
the accumulation of towering clouds through 
which he had. travelled the livelong day, and 
which now assembled on all sides, like mis- 
fortunes and disasters around a sinking em- 
pire, and falling monarch. Still, however, his 
dying splendour gave a sombre magnificence 
to the massive congregation of vapours, form- 



72 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



ing out of their unsubstantial gloom, the show 
of pyramids and towers, some touched with 
gold, some with purple, some with a hue of 
deep and dark red. The distant sea, stretched 
beneath this varied and gorgeous canopy, lay 
almost portentously still, reflecting back the 
dazzling and level beams of the descending 
luminary, and the splendid colouring of the 
clouds amidst which he was sitting. Nearer 
to the beach, the tide rippled onward in waves 
of sparkling silver, that imperceptibly, yet ra- 
pidly, gained upon the sand. 

" With a mind employed in admiration of 
the romantic scene, or perhaps on some more 
agitating topic, Miss Wardour advanced in 
silence by her father's side, whose recently 
offended dignity did not stoop to open any 
conversation. Following the windings of the 
beach, they passed one projecting point or 
headland of rock after another, and now found 
themselves under a huge and continued extent 
of the precipices by which that iron-bound 
coast is in most places defended. Long pro- 
jecting reefs of rock, extending under water, 
and only evincing their existence by here and 
there a peak entirely bare, or by the breakers 
which foamed over those that were partially 
covered, rendered Knockwinnock bay dreaded 
by pilots and ship-masters. The crags which 
rose between the beach and the mainland, to 
the height of two or three hundred feet, af- 
forded in their crevices shelter for unnum- 
bered sea-fowl, in situations seemingly secured 
by their dizzy height from the rapacity of man. 
Many of these wild tribes, with the instinct 
which sends them to seek the land before a 
storm arises, were now winging towards their 
nests with the shrill and dissonant clang which 
announces disquietude and fear. The disk of 
the sun became almost totally obscured ere he 
had altogether sunk below the horizon, and an 
early and lurid shade of darkness blotted the 
serene twilight of a summer evening. The 
wind began next to arise; but its wild and 
moaning sound was heard for some time, and 
its effects became visible on the bosom of the 
sea, before the gale was felt on shore. The 
mass of waters, now dark and threatening, 
began to lift itself in larger ridges, and sink in 
deeper furrows, forming M'aves that rose high 
in foam upon the breakers, or bursting upon 
the beach with a sound resembling distant 
thunder." 

Few objects are less beautiful than a bare 
sheet of water in heathy hills, but see what it 
becomes under the inspiration of genius. 

"It was a mild summer day; the beams of 
the sun, as is not uncommon in Zetland, were 
moderated and shaded by a silver) r haze, which 
filled the atmosphere, and, destroying the strong 
contrast of light and shade, gave even to noon 
the sober livery of the evening twilight. The 



little lake, not three-quarters of a mile in cir- 
cuit, lay in profound quiet; its surface un- 
dimpled, save when one of the numerous 
water-fowl, which glided on its surface, dived 
for an instant under it. The depth of the water 
gave the whole that cerulean tint of bluish 
green, which occasioned its being called the 
Green Loch; and at present, it formed so per 
feet a mirror to the bleak hills by which it was 
surrounded, and which lay reflected on its 
bosom, that it was difficult to distinguish the 
water from the land ; nay, in the shadowy 
uncertainty occasioned by the thin haze, a 
stranger could scarce have been sensible that 
a sheet of water lay before him. A scene of 
more complete solitude, having all its pecu- 
liarities heightened by the extreme serenity of 
the weather, the quiet gray composed tone of 
the atmosphere, and the perfect silence of the 
elements, could hardly be imagined. The 
very aquatic birds, who frequented the spot in 
great numbers, forbore their usual flight and 
screams, and floated in profound tranquillity 
upon the silent water." 

It is hard to say to which of these mighty 
masters of description the palm should be 
awarded. Scott is more simple in his Ian-' 
guage, more graphic in his details, more 
thoroughly imbued with the character of the 
place he is desirous of portraying: Chateau- 
briand is more resplendent in the images 
which he selects, more fastidious in the fea- 
tures he draws, more gorgeous from the mag- 
nificence with which he is surrounded : Ma- 
dame de Stael, inferior to both in the power 
of delineating nature, is superior to either in 
rousing the varied emotions dependent on his- 
torical recollections or melancholy impres- 
sions. It is remarkable that, though she is a 
southern writer, and has thrown into Corinne 
all her own rapture at the sun and the recol- 
lections of Italy, ) r et it is with a northern eye 
that she views the scenes it presents — it is not 
with the living, but the mighty dead, that she 
holds communion — the chords she loves to 
strike are those melanchol} r ones which vi- 
brate more strongly in a northern than a 
southern heart. Chateaubriand is imbued 
more largely with the genuine spirit of the 
south : albeit a Frank by origin, he is filled 
with the spirit of Oriental poetry. His soul 
is steeped in the cloudless skies, and desultory 
life, and boundless recollections of the East. 
Scott has no decided locality. He has struck 
his roots into the human heart — he has de- 
scribed Nature with a master's hand, under 
whatever aspects she is to be seen ; but his 
associations are of Gothic origin; his spirit is 
of chivalrous descent; the nature which he- 
has in general drawn is the sweet gleam of 
sunshine in a northern climate. 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



73 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS; 



The history of mankind, from its earliest 
period to the present moment, is fraught with 
proofs of one#general truth, that it is in small 
states, and in consequence of the emulation 
and ardent spirit which they develop, that the 
human mind arrives at its greatest perfection, 
and that the freest scope is afforded both to the 
grandeur of moral, and the brilliancy of intel- 
lectual character. It is to the citizens of s)iiall 
republics that we are indebted both for the 
greatest discoveries which have improved the 
condition or elevated the character of man- 
kind, and for the noblest examples of private 
and public virtue with which the page of his- 
tory is adorned. It was in the republics of 
ancient Greece, and in consequence of the 
emulation which was excited among her 
rival cities, that the beautiful arts of poetry, 
sculpture, and architecture were first brought 
to perfection; and while the genius of the hu- 
man race was slumbering among the innume- 
rable multitudes of the Persian and Indian 
monarchies, the single city of Athens produced 
a succession of great men, whose works have 
improved, and delighted thq. world in every 
succeeding age. While the vast feudal mo- 
narchies of Europe were buried in ignorance 
and barbarism, the little states of Florence, 
Bologna, Rome, and Venice were far advanced 
ill the career of arts and in the acquisition of 
knowledge; and at this moment, the traveller 
neglects the boundless but unknown tracts of 
Germany and France, to visit the tombs of 
Raphael, and Michael Angelo, and Tasso, to 
dwell in a country where every city and every 
landscape reminds him of the greatness of 
human genius, or the perfection of human 
taste. It is from the same cause that the 
earlier history of the Swiss confederacy exhi- 
bits a firmness and grandeur of political cha- 
racter which we search for in vain in the 
annals of the great monarchies by which they 
are surrounded, that the classical pilgrim 
pauses awhile in his journey to the Eternal 
City to do homage to the spirit of its early re- 
publics, and sees not in the ruins which, at the 
termination of his pilgrimage, surround him, 
the remains of imperial Rome, the mistress 
and the capital of the world; but of Rome, 
when struggling with Corioli and. Veii ; of 
Rome, when governed by Regulus and Cincin- 
natus — and traces the scene of her infant wars 
with the Latian tribes, with a pious interest, 
which ail the pomp and magnificence of her 
subsequent history has not been able to excite. 
Examples of this kind have often led histo- 
rians to consider the situation of small re- 
publics as that of all others most adapted to 
the exaltation and improvement of mankind. 



* Blackwood's Magazine, July 1819, and Edinburgh 
Review, August 1823.— Written when the National Mo- 
numents in London and Edinburgh to the late war were 
in contemplation, and in review of the Earl of Aberdeen's 
Essay on Grecian architecture. 
10 



] To minds of an ardent and enthusiastic cast,, 
who delight in the contemplation of human 
genius, or in the progress of public improve- 
ment, the brilliancy and splendour of such 
little states form the most delightful of all ob- 
jects; and accordingly, the greatest of living 
historians, in his history of the Italian republics, 
has expressed a decided opinion that in no 
other situation is such scope afforded to the 
expansion of the human mind, or such facility 
afforded to the progressive improvement of our 
species. 

On the other hand, it is not to be concealed, 
that such little djmasties are accompanied by 
many circumstances of continued and aggra- 
vated distress. Their small dimensions, and. 
the jealousies which subsist betwixt them, not 
only furnish the subject of continual disputes, 
but aggravate to an incredible degree the 
miseries and devastations of war. Between 
such states, it is not conducted with the dig- 
nity and in the spirit which characterizes the 
efforts of great monarchies, but rather with the 
asperity and rancour which belong to a civil 
contest. While the frontiers only of a great 
monarchy suffer from the calamities of war, 
its devastations extend to the very heart of 
smaller states. Insecurity and instability fre- 
quently mark the internal condition of these 
republics ; and the activity which the histo- 
rian admires in their citizens, is too often em- 
ployed in mutually destroying and pillaging 
each other, or in disturbing the tranquillity of 
the state. It is hence that the sunny slopes 
of the Apennines are everywhere crowned by 
castellated villages, indicating the universality 
of the ravages of war among the Italian States 
in former times ; and that the architecture of 
Florence and Genoa still bears the character 
of that massy strength which befitted the period 
when every noble palace was an independent 
fortress, and when war, tumult, and violence, 
reigned for centuries within their walls ; 
while the open villages and straggling cottages 
of England bespeak the security with which 
her peasants have reposed under the shadow 
of her redoubted power. 

The universality of this fact has led many 
wise and good men to regard small states as 
the prolific source of human suffering; and to 
conclude that all the splendour, whether in arts 
or in science, with which they are surrounded, 
is dearly bought at the expense of the peace 
and tranquillity of the great body of the peo- 
ple. To such men it appears, that the periods 
of history on which the historian dwells, or 
which have been marked by extraordinary 
genius, are not those in which the greatest 
public happiness has been enjoyed; but that 
it is to be found rather under the quiet and 
inglorious government of a great and pacific 
empire. 

Without pretending to determine which of 
these opinions is the best founded, it is more- 
G 



74 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



important for our present purpose to observe, 
that the union of the three kingdoms in the 
British Empire, promises to combine for this 
country the advantages of both these forms of 
government without the evils to which either 
is exposed. While her insular situation, and 
the union and energy of her people, secure for 
Great Britain peace and tranquillity within 
her own bounds, the rivalry of the different 
nations of whom the empire is composed, pro- 
mises, if properly directed, to animate her 
people with the ardour and enterprise which 
have hitherto been supposed to spring only 
from the collision of smaller states. 

Towards the accomplishment of this most 
desirable object, however, it is indispensable 
that each nation should preserve the remem- 
brance of its own distinct origin, and look to 
the glory of its own people, with an anxious and 
peculiar care. It is quite right that the Scotch 
should glory with their aged sovereign in the 
name of Britain: and that, when considered 
with reference to foreign states, Britain should 
exhibit a united whole, intent only upon up- 
holding and extending the glory of that empire 
which her united forces have formed. But it 
is equally important that her ancient metro- 
polis should not degenerate into a provincial 
town; and that an independent nation, once 
the rival of England, should remember, with 
pride, the peculiar glories by which her people 
have been distinguished. Without this, the 
whole good effects of the rivalry of the two 
nations will be entirely lost; and the genius 
of her different people, in place of emulating 
and improving each other, will be drawn into 
one centre, where all that is original and cha- 
racteristic will be lost in the overwhelming 
influence of prejudice and fashion. 

Such an event would be an incalculable 
calamity to the metropolis, and to the genius 
of this country. It is this catastrophe which 
Fletcher of Salton so eloquently foretold, when 
he opposed the union with England in the 
Scottish Parliament. Edinburgh would then 
become like Lyons, or Toulouse, or Venice, a 
provincial town, supported only by the occa- 
sional influx of the gentlemen in its neighbour- 
hood, and the business of the courts of law 
which have their seat within its walls. The 
city and the nation which have prbduced or 
been adorned by David Hume, Adam Smith, 
Robert Burns, Dugald Stewart, Principal Ro- 
bertson, and Walter Scott, would cease to exist ; 
and the traveller would repair to her classical 
scenes, as he now does to Venice or Ferrara, 
to lament the decay of human genius which 
follows the union of independent states. 

Nor would such an event be less injurious 
to the general progress of science and arts 
throughout the empire. It is impossible to 
doubt, that the circumstance of Scotland being 
a separate kingdom, and maintaining a rival- 
ship with England, has done incalculable good 
to both countries — that it has given rise to a 
succession of great men, whose labours have 
enlightened and improved mankind, who 
would not otherwise have acted upon the 
career of knowledge. Who can say what 
would have been the present condition of 
England in philosophy or science, if she had 



not been stimulated by the splendid progress 
which Scotland was making 1 and who can 
calculate the encouragement which Scottish 
genius has derived from the generous applause 
which England has always lavished upon her 
works'? As Scotchmen, we rejoice in the ex- 
altation and eminence of our own country ; 
but we rejoice not less sincerely in the literary 
celebrity of our sister kingdom ; not only from 
the interest which, as citizens of the united 
empire, we feel in the celebrity of any of its 
members, but as affording the secret pledges 
of the continued and progressive splendour of 
our own country. 

It is impossible, however, to contemplate 
the effects of the union of the two kingdoms, 
from which this country has derived such 
incalculable benefits in its national wealth and 
domestic industry, without perceiving that in 
time, at least, a corresponding decay may take 
place in its literary and philosophic acquire- 
ments. There are few examples in the history 
of mankind, of an independent kingdom being 
incorporated with another of greater magni- 
tude, without losing, in process of time, the 
national eminence, whether in arts or in arms, 
to which it had formerly arrived. A rare suc- 
cession of great men in our universities, in- 
deed, and an extraordinary combination of 
talents in the works of imagination, has 
hitherto prevented this effect from taking 
place. But who can insure a continuance of 
men of such extraordinary genius, to keep 
alive the torch of science in our northern 
regions ] Is it not to be apprehended that the 
attractions of wealth, of power, and of fashion, 
which have so long drawn our nobles and 
higher classes to the seat of government, may, 
ere long, exercise a similar influence upon our 
national genius, and that the melancholy ca- 
tastrophe which Fletcher of Salton described, 
with all its fatal consequences, may be, even 
now, approaching to its accomplishment ? 

Whatever can arrest this lamentable pro- 
gress, and fix down, in a permanent manner, 
the genius of Scotland to its own shores, con- 
fers not only an incalculable benefit upon this 
country, but upon the united empire of which 
it forms a part. The erection of National Mo- 
numents in London, Dublin, and Edinburgh, 
seems calculated, in a most remarkable man- 
ner, to accomplish this most desirable object. 

To those, indeed, who have not been in the 
habit of attending to the influence of animating 
recollections upon the development of every 
thing that is great or generous in human cha- 
racter, it may appear that the effects we anti- 
cipate from such structures are visionary and 
chimerical. But when a train is ready laid, a 
spark will set it in flames. The Scotch have 
always been a proud and an ardent people; 
and the spirit which animated their forefathers, 
in this respect, is not yet extinct. The Irish 
have genius, which, if properly directed, is 
equal to any thing. England is the centre of 
the intellectual progress of the earth. Upon 
people so disposed, it is difficult to estimate 
the effects which splendid edifices filled with 
monuments to the greatest men whom their 
respective countries can boast, may ultimately 
produce. — It will give stability and consistence 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



75 



to the national pride, a feeling which, when 
properly directed, is the surest foundation of 
national eminence. — It will perpetuate the re- 
membrance of the brave and independent 
Scottish nation — a feeling, of all others, the, 
best suited to animate the exertions of her 
remotest descendants. — It will teach her inha- 
bitants to look to their own country for the 
scene of their real glory ; and while Ireland 
laments the absence of a nobility insensible to 
her fame, and unworthy of the land of Burke 
and Goldsmith, it will be the boast of this 
country, to have erected on her own shores a 
monument worthy of her people's glory, and 
to have disdained to follow merely the triumphs 
of that nation, whose ancestors they have ere 
now vanquished in the field. 

Who has not felt the sublime impression 
which the interior of Westminster Abbey pro- 
duces, where the poets, the philosophers, and 
the statesmen of England, " sleep with her 
kings, and dignify the scene 1" Who has 
viewed the church of St. Croce at Florence, and 
seen the tombs of Galileo, and Machiavelli, 
Michael Angelo, and Alfieri, under one sacred 
roof, without feeling their hearts swell with 
the remembrance of her ancient glory; and, 
among the multitudes who will visit the sacred 
pile that is to perpetuate the memory of Scot- 
tish or Irish greatness, how many may there 
be whom so sublime a spectacle may rouse to 
a sense of their native powers, and animate 
with the pride of their country's renown ; and 
in whom the remembrance of the "illustrious 
of ancient days" may awaken the noble feeling 
of Correggio, when he contemplated the works 
of the Roman masters ; " I too am a Painter." 

Nor do we think that such monuments 
could produce effects of less importance upon 
the military character and martial spirit of the 
Scottish people in future ages. The memory 
of the glorious achievements of our age, in- 
deed, will never die, and the page of history 
will perpetuate, to the higher orders, the recol- 
lection of the events which have cast so unri- 
valled a splendour over the British nation, in 
the commencement of the nineteenth century. 
But the study of history has been, hitherto at 
least, confined to few, comparatively speaking, 
of the population of a country ; and the know- 
ledge which it imparts can never extend uni- 
versally to the poorer class, from whom the 
materials of an army are to be drawn. In the 
ruder and earlier periods of society, indeed, 
the traditions of warlike events are preserved 
for a series of years, by the romantic ballads, 
which are cherished by a simple and primitive 
people. The nature of the occupations in 
which they are principally engaged, is favour- 
able to the preservation of such heroic recol- 
lections. But in the state of society in which 
we live, it is impossible that the record of past 
events can be thus engraven on the hearts of a 
nation. The uniformity of employments in 
which the lower orders are engaged — the se- 
vere and unremitting toil to which they are 
exposed — the division of labour which fixes 
them down to one limited and unchanging oc- 
cupation, the prodigious numbers in which 
they are drawn to certain centres of attrac- 
tion far from the recollections of their early 



years, all contribute to destroy those ancient 
traditions, on the preservation of which so 
much of the martial spirit of a people depends. 
The peasantry in the remoter parts of Scotland 
can still recount some of the exploits, and 
dwell with enthusiasm on the adventures of 
Bruce or Wallace; but you will search in 
vain among the English poor for any record 
of the victories of Cressy or Azincour, of 
Blenheim or Ramillies. And even among the 
higher orders, the experience of every day is 
sufficient to convince us that the remembrance 
of ancient glory, though not forgotten, may 
cease to possess any material influence on the 
character of our people. The historian, in- 
deed, may recount the glorious victories of 
Vittoria, Trafalgar, and Waterloo; and their 
names may be familiar to every ear; but the 
name may be remembered when the heart- 
stirring spirit which they should awaken is no 
longer felt. For a time, and during the life- 
time of the persons who were distinguished in 
these events, they form a leading subject of 
the public attention; but when a new genera- 
tion succeeds, and different cares and fashions 
and events occupy the attention of the nation, 
the practical effects of these triumphs is lost, 
how indelibly soever they may be recorded in 
the pages of history. The victories of Poic- 
tiers, and Blenheim, and Minden had long ago 
demonstrated the superiority of the English 
over the French troops ; but though this fact 
appeared unquestionable to those who studied 
the history of past events, everybody knows 
with what serious apprehension a French in- 
vasion was contemplated in this country, 
within our own recollection. 

It is of incalculable importance, therefore, 
that some means should be taken to preserve 
alive the martial spirit which the recent 
triumphs have awakened; and to do this, in 
so prominent a way as may attract the atten- 
tion of the most thoughtless, and force them 
on the observation of the most inconsiderate. 
It is from men of this description — from the 
young, the gay, and the active, that our armies 
are filled; and it is on the spirit with which 
they are animated that the national safety de- 
pends. Unless they are impressed with the 
recollection of past achievements, and a sense 
of the glories of that country which they are 
to defend, it will little avail us in the moment 
of danger, that the victories on which every 
one now dwells with exultation, are faithfully 
recorded in history, and well known to the 
sedentary and pacific part of our population. 

It is upon the preservation of this spirit that 
the safety of every nation must depend. — It is 
in vain that it may be encircled with fortresses, 
or defended by mountains, or begirt by the 
ocean; its real security is to be found in the 
spirit and the valour of its people. The army 
which enters the field in the conviction that it 
is to conquer, has already gained the day. The 
people, who recollect with pride the achieve- 
ments of their forefathers, wall not prove un- 
worthy of them in the field of battle. The 
remembrance of their heroic actions preserved 
the independence of the Swiss republics, amidst 
the powerful empires by which they were sur- 
rounded; and the glory of her armies, joined 



76 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



to the terror of her name, upheld the Roman 
empire for centuries after the warlike spirit 
of ihe people was extinct. It is this which 
constitutes the strength and multiplies the 
triumphs of veteran soldiers; and it is this, 
which renders the qualities of military valour 
and prowess hereditary in a nation. 

Every people, accordingly, whose achieve- 
ments are memorable in past history, have 
felt the influence of these national recollec- 
tions, and received them as the most valuable 
inheritance from their forefathers. The states- 
men of Athens, when they wished to rouse that 
fickle people to any great or heroic action, re- 
minded them of the national glory of their 
ancestors, and pointed to the Acropolis crown- 
ed with the monuments of their valour; De- 
mosthenes in the most heart-stirring apostro- 
phe of antiquity invoked the shades of those 
who died at Marathon and Plaiaaa, to sanctify 
the cause in which they were to be engaged. 
The Swiss peasants, for five hundred years 
after the establishment of their independence, 
assembled on the fields of Morgarten and Lau- 
pen, and spread garlands over the graves of 
rhe fallen warriors, and prayed for the souls 
of those who had died for their country's free- 
dom. The Romans attached a superstitious 
reverence to the rock of the capitol, and loaded 
its temples with the spoils of the world, and 
looked back with a mixture of veneration and 
pride, to the struggles which it had witnessed, 
and the triumphs which it had won. 

"Capitoli immobile saxum." 

So long as Manlius remained in sight of the 
capitol, his enemies found it impossible to ob- 
tain a conviction of the charges against him. 
When Scipio Africanus was accused by a fac- 
tion in the forum, in place of answering the 
charge, he turned to the capitol, and invited 
the people to accompany him to the temple of 
Jupiter, and return thanks for the defeat of the 
Carthagenians. Such was the influence of 
local associations on that severe people ; and 
so natural is it for the human mind to imbody 
its recollections in some external object; and 
so important an effect are these recollections 
fitted to have, when they are perpetually 
brought back to the public mind by the sight of 
the objects to which they have been attached. 

The erection of a national monument, on a 
scale suited to the greatness of the events it is 
intended to commemorate, seems better calcu- 
lated than any other measure to perpetuate the 
spirit which the events of our times have 
awakened in this country. It will force itself 
on the observation of the most thoughtless, 
and recall the recollection of danger and glory, 
during the slumber of peaceful life. Thousands 
who never would otherwise have cast a thought 
upon the glory of their country, will by it be 
awakened to a sense of what befits the de- 
scendants of those great men who have died 
in the cause of national freedom. While it 
will testify the gratitude of the nation to de- 
parted worth, it will serve at the same time to 
mark the distinction which similar victories 
may win. Like the Roman capitol, it will 
stand at once the monument of former great- 
ness, and the pledge of future glory. 



Nor is it to be imagined that the national 
monument in London is sufficient for this pur- 
pose, and that the commencement of a similar 
undertaking in Edinburgh or Dublin is an un- 
necessary or superfluous proceeding. It is 
quite proper, that in the metropolis of the 
United Empire, the trophies of its common 
triumphs should be found, and that the na- 
tional funds should there be devoted to the 
formation of a monument, worthy of the 
splendid achievements which her united forces 
have performed. But the whole benefits of 
the emulation between the two nations, from 
which our armies have already derived such 
signal advantage, would be lost, if Scotland 
were to participate only in the triumphs of 
her sister kingdom, without distinctly mark- 
ing its own peculiar and national pride, in the 
glory of her own people. The valour of the 
Scottish regiments is known and celebrated 
from one end of Europe to the other; and this 
circumstance, joined to the celebrity of the 
poems of Ossian, has given a distinction to 
our soldiers, to which, for so small a body of 
men, there is no parallel in the history of the 
present age. Would it not be a subject of re- 
proach to this country, if the only land in 
which no record of their gallantry is to be 
found, was the land which gave them birth ; 
and that the traveller who has seen the tartan 
hailed with enthusiasm on every theatre of 
Europe, should find it forgotten only in the 
metropolis of that kingdom which owes its 
salvation to the bravery by which it has been 
distinguished] 

The animating effects, moreover, which the 
sight of a national trophy is fitted to have on 
a martial people, would be entirely lost in this 
country, if no other monument to Scottish or 
Irish valour existed than the monument in 
London. — There is not a hundredth part of 
our population who have ever an opportunity 
of going to that city; or to whom the existence 
even of such a record of their triumph could 
be known. Even upon those who may see it, 
the peculiar and salutary effect of a national 
monument would be entirely lost. It would 
be regarded as a trophy of English glory ; and 
however much it might animate our descend- 
ants to maintain the character of Britain on 
the field of European warfare, it would leave 
wholly untouched those feelings of generous 
emulation by which the rival nations of Eng- 
land and Scotland have hitherto been animated 
towards each other, and to the existence of 
which, so much of their common triumphs 
have been owing. 

It is in the preservation of this feeling of 
rivalry that we anticipate the most important 
effects of a national monument in this me- 
tropolis. There is no danger that the ancient 
animosity of the two nations will ever revive, 
or that the emulation of our armies will lead 
them to prove unfaithful to the common cause 
in which they must hereafter be engaged. The 
stern feelings of feudal hatred with which the 
armies of England and Scotland formerly met 
at Flodden or Bannockburn, have now yielded 
to the emulation and friendship which form 
the surest basis of their common prosperity. 
But it is of the last importance that these feel- 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



77 



ings of national rivalry should not be extin- 
guished. In every part of the world the good 
effects of this emulation have been expe- 
rienced. It is recorded, that at the siege of 
Naraur, when the German troops were re- 
pulsed from the breach, King William ordered 
his English guards to advance ; and the veteran 
warrior was so much affected with the devoted 
gallantry with which they pressed on to the 
assault, that, bursting into tears, he exclaimed, 
"See how my brave English fight." At the 
storm of Bhurtpoor,'when one of the British 
regiments was forced back by the dreadful 
fire that played on the breach, one of the na- 
tive regiments was ordered to advance, and 
these brave men cheered as they passed the 
British troops, who lay trembling in the 
trenches. Everybody knows the distinguished 
gallantry with which the Scottish and Irish re- 
giments, in all the actions of the present war, 
have sought to maintain their ancient reputa- 
tion ; and it is not to be forgotten, that the first 
occasion on which the steady columns of 
France were broken by a charge of cavalry, 
when the leading regiments of England, Scot- 
land, and Ireland, bore down with rival valour 
on their columns ; and in the enthusiastic cry 
of the Grays, "Scotland for ever," we may 
perceive the value of those national recollec- 
tions which it is the object of the present edi- 
fice to reward and perpetuate. 

If this spirit shall live in her armies ; if the 
rival valour which was formerly excited in 
their fatal wars against each other, shall thus 
continue to animate them when fighting against 
their common enemies, and if the remem- 
brance of former division is preserved only to 
cement the bond of present union, Britain and 
Ireland may well, like the Douglas and Percy, 
both together " be confident against the world 
in arms." 

Foreign foe or false beguiling, 
Shall our union ne'er divide, 
. Hand in hand, while peace is smiling, 
And in battle side by side. 

There is no fact more certain than that a 
due appreciation of the grand or the beautiful 
in architectural design is not inherent in any 
individual or in any people ; and that towards 
the formation of a correct public taste, the ex- 
istence otfine models is absolutely essential. It 
is this which gives men who have travelled in 
Italy or Greece so evident a superiority in 
considering the merits of the works of art in 
this country over those who have not had 
similar advantages ; and it is this which renders 
taste hereditary among a people who have the 
models of ancient excellence continually be- 
fore their eyes. The taste of Athens continued 
to distinguish its people long after they had 
ceased to be remarkable for any other and 
more, honourable quality ; and Rome itself, in 
the days of its imperial splendour, was com- 
pelled to borrow, from a people whom she had 
vanquished, the trophies by which her victories 
were to be commemorated. To this day the 
lovers of art flock from the most distant parts 
of the world to the Acropolis, and dwell with 
rapture on its unrivalled beauties, and seek to 
inhale, amid the ruins that surround them, a 
portion of the spirit by which they were con- 



ceived. The remains of ancient Rome stiii 
serve as the model of every thing that is great 
in the designs of modern architects ; and in 
the Parthenon and the Coliseum we find the 
originals on which the- dome of St. Peter's and 
the piazza St. Marco have been formed. It is 
a matter of general observation, accordingly, 
that the inhabitants of Italy possess a degree 
of taste both in sculpture, architecture, and 
painting, which few persons of the most culti- 
vated understanding in transalpine countries 
can acquire. So true it is, that the existence 
of fine models lays the only foundation of a 
correct public taste ; and that the transference 
of the model of ancient excellence to this 
country is the only means of giving to our . 
people the taste by which similar excellence 
is to be produced. 

Now it has unfortunately happened that the 
Doric architecture, to which so much of the 
beauty of Greece and Italy is owing, has been 
hitherto little understood, and still less put in 
practice in this country. We meet with few 
persons who have not visited the remains of 
classical antiquity, who can conceive the 
matchless beauties of the temples of Minerva 
at Athens, or of Neptune at Poestum. And, , 
indeed, if our conceptions of the Doric betaken 
from the few attempts at imitation of it which 
are here to be met with, they would fall very 
far short, indeed, of what the originals are 
fitted to excite. 

We are far from underrating the genius of 
modern architects, and it would be ungrateful 
to insinuate, that sufficient ability for the 
formation of an original design is not to be 
found. But in the choice of designs for a 
building which is to stand for centuries, and 
from which the taste of the metropolis in 
future ages is in a greater measure to be 
formed, it is absolutely essential to fix upon 
some model of known and approved excellence. 
The erection of a monument in bad taste, or 
even of doubtful beauty, might destroy the 
just conceptions on this subject, which are 
beginning to prevail, and throw the national 
taste a century back at the time when it is 
making the most rapid advances towards per- 
fection. It is in vain to expect that human 
genius can ever make any thing more beauti- 
ful than the Parthenon. It is folly, therefore, 
to tempt fortune, when certainty is in our 
hands. 

There are many reasons besides, which 
seem in a peculiar manner to recommend the 
Doric temple for the proposed monuments. By 
the habits of modern times, a different species 
of architecture has been devoted to the differ- 
ent purposes to which buildings may be ap- 
plied ; and it is difficult to avoid believing, 
that there is something in the separate styles 
which is peculiarly adapted to the different 
emotions they are intended to excite. The 
light tracery, and lofty roof, and airy pillars 
of the Gothic, seem to accord w r ell with the 
sublime feelings and spiritual fervour of re- 
ligion. The massy wall, and gloomy character 
of the castle, bespeak the abode of feudal 
power and the pageantry of barbaric magni- 
ficence. The beautiful porticoes, and columns, 
and rich cornices of the Ionic or Corinthian, 

e2 



78 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



seem well adapted for the public edifices in a 
great city ; for those which are destined for 
amusement, or to serve for the purpose of 
public ornament. The Palladia!) style is that 
of all others best adapted for the magnificence 
of private dwellings, and overwhelms the 
spectator by a flood of beauty, against which 
the rules of criticism are unable to withstand. 
If any of these styles of architecture were to 
be transferred from buildings destined for one 
purpose to those destined for another, the im- 
propriety of the change would appear very 
conspicuous. The gorgeous splendour of the, 
Palladian front would be entirely misplaced, 
in an edifice destined for the purpose of re- 
ligion ; and the rich pinnacles and gloomy 
aisles of the Gothic, would accord ill with the 
scene of modern amusement or festivity. 

Now a National Monument is an edifice of 
a very singular kind, and such as to require a 
style of architecture peculiar to itself. The 
Grecian Doric, as it is exhibited in the Par- 
thenon, appears singularly well adapted for 
this purpose. Its form and character is asso- 
ciated in every cultivated mind with the re- 
collections of classical history ; and it recalls 
the brilliant conceptions of national glory as 
they were received during the ardent and 
enthusiastic period of youth ; while its stern 
and massy form befits an edifice destined to 
commemorate the severe virtues and manly 
character of war. The effect of such a build- 
ing, and the influence it would have on the 
public taste, would be increased to an in- 
definite degree, by the interest of the purpose 
to which it is destined. An edifice which re- 
called at once the interest of classical associa- 
tion, and commemorated the splendour of our 
own achievements, would impress itself in the 
most indelible manner on the public mind, 
and force the beauty of its design on the most 
careless observer. And there can be no doubt 
that this impression would be far greater, just 
because it arose from a style of building 
hitherto unknown in this country, and pro- 
duced an effect as dissimilar from that of any 
other architectural design, as the national 
emotions which it is intended to awaken are 
from those to which ordinary edifices are des- 
tined. 

We cannot help considering this as a matter 
of great importance to this city, and to the 
taste of the age in which we live. It is no 
inconsiderable matter to have one building of 
faultless design erected, and to have the youth 
of our people accustomed from their infancy 
to behold the work of Phidias. But the ulti- 
mate effect which such a circumstance might 
produce on the taste of the nation, and the 
celebrity of this metropolis, is far more im- 
portant. It is in vain to conceal, that the 
wealth and the fashion of England is every 
day attracting the higher part of our society 
to another capital ; and that Edinburgh can 
never possess attractions of the same descrip- 
tion with London, sufficient to enable her to 
stand an instant in the struggle. But while 
London must always eclipse this city in all 
that depends on wealth, power, or fashionable 
elegance, nature has given to it the means of 
establishing a superiority of a higher and a 



more permanent kind. The matchless beauty 
of its situation, the superb cliffs by which it 
is surrounded, the magnificent prospects of 
the bay, which it commands, have given to 
Edinburgh the means of becoming the most 
■ fid town that exists in the world. And 
the inexhaustible quarries of free-stone, which 
lie in the immediate vicinity, have rendered 
architectural embellishment an easier object 
in this city than in any other in the empire. 
It cannot be denied, however, that much still 
remains to be done in this respect, and that 
every stranger observes the striking contrast 
between the beauty of its private houses, and 
the deplorable scantiness of its public build- 
ings. The establishment of a taste for edifices 
of an ornamental description, and the gradual 
purification of the popular taste, which may 
fairly be expected from the influence of so 
perfect a model as the Parthenon of Athens, 
would ultimately, in all probability, render 
this city the favourite residence of the fine 
arts ; the spot to which strangers would re- 
sort, both as the place where the rules of taste 
are to be studied, and the models of art are to 
be found. And thus, while London is the 
Rome of the empire, to which the young, and 
the ambitious, and the gay, resort for the pur- 
suit of pleasure, of fortune, or of ambition, 
Edinburgh might become another Athens, in 
which the arts and the sciences flourished, 
under the shade of her ancient fame, and 
established a dominion over the minds of men 
more permanent than even that which the 
Roman arms were able to effect. 

The Greeks always fixed on an eminence 
for the situation of their temples, and what- 
ever was the practice of a people of such ex- 
quisite taste is well worthy of imitation. The 
Acropolis of Athens, the Acrocorinthus of 
Corinth, the temple of Jupiter Panhellenius, 
in ^Egina, are instances of the beauty of these 
edifices when placed on such conspicuous 
situations. At Athens, in particular, the tem- 
ples of Jupiter Olympius and of Theseus are 
situated in the plain ; but although the former 
is built in a style of magnificence to which 
there is no parallel, and is double the size of 
the Parthenon, its effect is infinitely less strik- 
ing than that of the temple of Minerva, which 
crowns the Acropolis, and meets the eye from 
every part of the adjacent country. The tem- 
ple of Jupiter Panhellenius, in the island of 
^Egina, is neither so large nor so beautiful as 
the temple of Theseus ; but there is no one 
who ever thought of comparing the effect 
which the former produces, crowning a rich 
and wooded hill, to that which is felt on view- 
ing the latter standing in the plain of Attica. 
The temple of Neptune, at Pros turn, has a 
sublime effect from the desolation that sur- 
rounds it, and from the circumstance of there 
being no eminence for many miles to interfere 
with its stern and venerable form ; but there 
is no one who must not have felt that the 
grandeur of this edifice would be entirely lost 
if it was placed in a modern city, and over- 
topped by buildings destined for the most or- 
dinary purposes. The temple of Vesta, at 
Tivoli, perched on the crag which overhangs 
the cataract, is admired by all the world; but 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



79 



the temple to the same goddess, on the banks 
of the Tiber, at Rome, is passed over without 
notice, though the intrinsic beauty of the one 
is nearly as great as that of the other. In the 
landscapes too of Claude and Poussin, who 
knew so well the situation in which every 
building appears to most advantage, the ruins 
of temples are almost always placed on pro- 
minent fronts, or on the summit of small 
hills ; in such a situation, in short, as the Gal- 
lon Hill of Edinburgh presents. The jiractice 
of the ancient Greeks, in the choice of situa- 
tions for their temples, joined to. that of the 
modern Italian painters in their ideal repre- 
sentations of the same objects, leaving no 
room to doubt that the course which they fol- 
lowed was that which the peculiar nature of 
the building required. 

But all objects of local interest sink into 
insignificance compared witty the vast effect 
which a restoration of so perfect a relic of 
antiquity as the Parthenon of Athens would 
have on the national taste, and ultimately on 
the spread of refined and elevating feelings 
among the inhabitants of the country. As 
this is a subject of the very highest import- 
ance, and which is not generally so well 
understood as it should be, we crave the in- 
dulgence of our readers to a few observations, 
conceived in the' warmest feeling of interest 
in modern art, but a strong sense of the only 
means by which it can be brought to the ex- 
cellence of which it is susceptible. 

It is observed by Madame de Stael, " that 
architecture is the only art which approaches, 
in its effects, to the works of nature," and 
there are few, we believe, who have not, at 
some period of their lives, felt the truth of the 
observation. The Cathedral of York, the 
Dome of St. Paul's, or the interior of St. 
. Peter's, are scarcely eclipsed in our recollec- 
tion with the glories of human creation ; and 
the impression which they produce is less 
akin to admiration of the talent of an artist, 
than to the awe and veneration which the tra- 
veller feels when he first enters the defiles of 
the Alps. 

It has often been a matter of regret to per- 
sons of taste in this country, that an art so 
magnificent in its monuments, and so power- 
ful in its effect, has been so little the object 
of popular cultivation ; nor is it perhaps 
easy to understand, how a people so much 
alive to the grand and beautiful in the other 
departments of taste, should so long have re- 
mained insensible to the attractions of one of 
its most interesting branches. Many causes 
have, doubtless, conspired to produce this 
effect; but among these, the principal, we are 
persuaded, is to be found in the absence of 
any monuments of approved excellence to form the 
taste, and excite the admiration of the public. 
And, in this respect, there is an important dis- 
tinction, which is often overlooked, between 
architecture and the other departments of art 
or literature. 

In poetry, painting, or sculpture, the great 
works of former times are in everybody's 
hands ; and the public taste has long ago been 
formed on the study of those remains of an- 
cient genius, which still continue, notwith- 



standing the destruction of the people who 
gave them birth, to govern the imagination of 
succeeding ages. The poetry of Virgil, and 
the eloquence of Cicero, form the first objects 
to which the education of the young is di- 
rected ; the designs of Raphael and Correggio 
have been multiplied by the art of engraving, 
to almost as great an extent as the classical 
authors ; and casts, at least, of the Apollo and 
the Venus, are familiar to every person who 
has paid the smallest attention to the beauty 
of the human form. It is on the habitual 
study of these works that the public taste has 
beeh formed; and the facility of engraving 
and painting has extended our acquaintance 
with their excellencies, almost as far as 
knowledge or education have extended in the 
world. 

But with architecture the case is widely 
different. Public edifices cannot be published 
and circulated with the same facility as an 
edition of Virgil, or a print of Claude Lorraine. 
To copy or restore such monuments, requires 
an expenditure of capital, and an exertion of 
skill, almost as great as their original con- 
struction. Nations must be far advanced in 
wealth and attainment before such costly un- 
dertakings can be attempted. And if the su- 
perstition of an earlier age has produced 
structures of astonishing magnitude and ge- 
nius, they are of a kind which, however 
venerable or imposing, are not calculated to 
have the same effect in chastening the public 
taste, with those that arose in that auspicious 
period when all the finer powers of the mind 
had attained their highest exaltation. It thus 
unfortunately happens, that architecture can- 
not share in the progress which the other fine 
arts are continually making from the circula- 
tion and study of the works of antiquity; and 
successive nations are often obliged to begin 
anew the career which their predecessors 
have run, and fall inevitably into the errors 
which they had learned to avoid. 

The possibility of multiplying drawings or 
engravings of the edifices of antiquity, or of 
informing distant nations of their proportions 
and dimensions, has but little tendency to 
obviate this disadvantage. Experience has 
shown that the best drawings convey a most 
inadequate conception of architectural gran- 
deur, or of the means by which it is produced. 
To those, indeed, who have seen the originals, 
such engravings are highly valuable, because 
they awaken and renew the impression which 
the edifices themselves have made ; but to 
those who have not had this advantage, they 
speak an unknown language. This is matter 
of common observation ; and there is no tra- 
veller who has returned from Greece or Italy, 
who will not confirm its truth. It is as im- 
possible to convey a conception of the exterior 
of the Parthenon, or the interior of St. Peter's, 
by the finest drawings accompanied by the 
most accurate statement of their dimensions, 
as to give the inhabitants of a level country 
a true sense of the sublimity of the Alps, by 
exhibiting a drawing of the snowy peaks of 
Mont Blanc, and informing him of its altitude 
according to the latest trigonometrical obser 
vations. 



so 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



Even if drawings could convey a concep- 
tion of the original structures, the taste for 
this art is so extremely limited that it could 
have but little effect in obviating the disadvan- 
tage of their remote situation. There is not 
one person in a hundred -who ever looks at a 
drawing, or, if he does, is capable of deriving 
the smallest pleasure from the finest produc- 
tions of that branch of art. To be reduced to 
turn over a portfolio of engravings, is prover- 
bially spoken of as the most wretched of all 
occupations in a drawing-room ; and it is no 
uncommon thing to see the productions of 
Claude, or Poussin, or Williams, abounding 
in all the riches of architectural ornament, 
passed over without the slightest indication of 
emotion, by persons of acknowledged taste in 
other respects. And yet the same individuals, 
who are utterly insensible to architectural ex- 
cellence in this form, could not avoid acquiring 
a certain taste for its beauties, if they were 
the subject of habitual observation, in edifices 
at home, or obtruded upon their attention in 
the course of foreign travelling. 

Besides this, the architect is exposed to in- 
surmountable difficulties, if the cultivation of 
those around him has not kept pace with his 
own, and if they are incapable of feeling the 
beauty of the edifices on which his taste has 
been formed. It is to no purpose that his otmi 
taste may have been improved by studying the 
ruins of Athens or Rome, unless the taste of 
his employers has undergone a similar ameliora- 
tion, his genius will remain dormant, and his 
architectural drawings be suffered to lie in 
unnoticed obscurity in the recesses of his 
portfolio. The architect, it should always be 
remembered, cannot erect edifices, as the poet 
writes verses, or the painter covers his can- 
vas, without any external assistance. A great 
expenditure of capital is absolutely essential 
to the production of any considerable specimen 
of his art: and, therefore, unless he can com- 
municate his own enthusiasm to the wealthy, 
and unless a growing desire for architectural 
embellishments is sufficient to overcome the 
inherent principle of parsimony, or the inte- 
rested views of individuals, or the jealousy of 
public bodies, he will never have an opportu- 
nity of displaying his genius, or all his at- 
tempts will be thwarted by persons incapable 
of appreciating it. And unfortunately the 
talents of no artist, how great soever, can 
effect such a revolution ; it can be brought 
about only by the continued observation of beauti- 
ful edifices, and the diffusion of a taste for the 
art among all the well-educated classes of the 
people. 

The states of antiquity lay so immediately 
in the vicinity of each other, that the progress 
of architecture was uninterrupted; and thus 
people of each nation formed their taste by the 
study of the structures of those to whom they 
lay adjacent. The Athenians, in particular, in 
raising the beautiful edifices which have so 
long been the admiration of the world, pro- 
ceeded entirely upon the model of the build- 
ings by which they were surrounded, and the 
temple of Jupiter Panhellenius, in the island 
of'JEgina, which is said to have been built by 
JSacus before the Trojan War, remains to this 



day to testify the species of edifices on which 
their national taste was formed. The Ionic 
order, as its name denotes, arose in the wealthy 
regions of Asia Minor; and when the Athe- 
nians turned their attention to the embellish- 
ment of their city, they had, in their immediate 
vicinity, edifices capable of pointing out the 
excellencies of that beautiful style. The Ro- 
mans formed their taste upon the architecture 
of the people whom they had subdued, and 
adopted all their orders from the Grecian 
structures. Their early temples were exactly 
similar to those of their masters in the art of 
design; and when the national taste was 
formed upon that model, they combined them, 
as real genius will, into different forms, and 
left the Coliseum and the baths of Dioclesian 
as monuments of the grandeur and originality 
of their conceptions. 

In modern times, the restoration of taste first 
began around the edifices of antiquity. , "On 
the revival of the art in Italy," says Lord Aber- 
deen, " during the fifteenth and sixteenth cen- 
turies, the great architects who adorned that 
country naturally looked for instruction to the 
monuments with which they were surrounded: 
the wrecks and fragments of Imperial Rome. 
These were not only successfully imitated, but 
sometimes even surpassed by the Italian art- 
ists ; for Bramante and Michael Angelo, Pal- 
ladio and Bernini, designed and executed 
works which, although of unequal merit, may 
fairly challenge a comparison with the boasted 
productions of the Augustan age." Italy and 
France, accordingly, have reaped the full ad- 
vantage of their local proximity to the monu- 
ments of former genius ; and the character of 
their buildings evinces a decided superiority 
to the works of architects in other states. 

In the south of Europe, therefore, the pro- 
gress of architecture has been uninterrupted, 
and each successive age has reaped the full 
benefit which the works of those which pre- 
ceded it was fitted to confer. But the remote- 
ness of their situation has deprived the in- 
habitants of the north of Europe of this advan- 
tage ; and, while the revival of letters and the 
arts has developed the taste of the people of 
this country in other respects, to a very great 
degree, their knowledge of architecture is yet 
in its infancy. In this city the most remarka- 
ble proofs of this deficiency were annually 
exhibited till a very recent period. The same 
age which was illustrated by the genius of 
Sir Walter Scott, and Campbell, and Dugald 
Stewart, witnessed the erection of Nelson's 
monument and St. George's church. 

The extraordinary improvement in the public 
taste, which has taken place since the peace 
of 1814, opened the Continent to so large a pro- 
portion of our population, evinces, in the most 
unequivocal manner, the influence of the actual 
sight of fine models in training the mind to the 
perception of architectural beauty. That archi- 
tecture is greatly more an object both of study 
and interest than it was ten years ago, is 
matter of common observation ; and the most 
convincing proof of the extension of a taste 
for its excellencies is to be found in the rapid 
increase and extensive circulation of en- 
gravings of the most interesting ruins on the 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



81 



'Continent, which has taken place of late years. 
These engravings, however incapable of con- 
veying an adequate idea of the originals, to 
those who have never left this country, yet 
serve as an admirable auxiliary to the memo- 
ry, in retaining the impression which they 
had produced on those who have had that 
advantage; and, accordingly, their sale is 
almost entirely confined to persons of that de- 
scription. 

Nor is the improvement less gratifying in 
the style of the edifices, and the genius of the 
architects who have arisen during that period. 
The churches of Marybone and St. Pancras, in 
London, notwithstanding some striking defects, 
are by far the finest buildings which have been 
raised in the metropolis since the days of Sir 
Christopher Wren. The new street in front 
of Carlton House, including the Quadrant, 
contains some most beautiful specimens of 
architecture; although the absurd rage for 
novelty has disfigured it by other structures 
of extraordinary deformity. The buildings 
which adjoin, and look into the Regent Park, 
are the most chaste and elegant examples of 
the application of the Grecian architecture to 
private edifices which the metropolis can boast. 
Nor is the improvement less conspicuous in 
our own capital, where the vicinity of free- 
stone quarries of uncommon beauty, and the 
advantages of unrivalled situation, have ex- 
cited a very strong desire for architectural 
embellishment. It is hardly possible to believe 
that Waterloo Place, the Ro)*al Terrace, Leo- 
pold Place, and the Melville Monument, have 
"been erected in the same'Hge which witnessed 
the building of Lord Nelson's monument on 
the Calton Hill, or the recent edifices in the 
Parliament Square. The remarkable start 
which the genius as well as the taste of our 
architects has taken since the public attention 
was drawn to this art, affords a striking proof 
of the influence of popular encouragement in 
fostering the conceptions of native genius, and 
illustrates the hopelessness of expecting that 
cur artists will ever attain to excellence, when 
the taste of the people does not keep pace with 
their exertions. 

But the causes which have recently given 
so remarkable a stimulus to architectural ex- 
ertion are temporary in their nature. It is 
impossible to expect that the Continent will 
always be open to our youth, or that the public 
attention can be permanently directed to the 
arts of peace, with the interest which is so 
remarkable at this time. Other wars may 
arise which will shut us out from the south 
of Europe; the interest of politics may again 
withdraw the national attention from the fine 
arts; or the war of extermination, of which 
Greece is now the theatre, may utterly destroy 
those monuments which have so long survived 
to direct and improve the world. From the 
present aspect of affairs on the Continent, 
there seems every reason to apprehend that 
one or both of these effects may very soon 
take place. These circumstances render it 
the more desirable, that some steps should be 
taken toyu: in this island the fleeting percep- 
tion of architectural beauty which is now 
prevalent; and, if possible, render our people 
11 



independent of foreign travelling, or of the 
borrowed aid of foreign edifices. 

Lord Aberdeen, like all other travellers of 
taste, speaks in the highest terms of the im- 
pression produced by the unrivalled edifices 
of ancient Greece ; and contrasts the pure and 
faultless taste by which they are distinguished, 
with the ephemeral productions which in 
modern times have arisen, in the vain attempt 
to improve upon their proportions. If we seek 
for the manifestation of pure taste in the 
monuments which surround us, our search 
will but too often prove fruitless. We must 
turn our eyes towards those regions, 

Where on the Egean shore a city stands, 
Built nobly! 

Here, — it has been little understood, for it has 
been rarely felt ; its country is Greece, — its 
throne the Acropolis of Athens. 

"By a person writing on the subject of 
architecture, the name of Athens can scarcely 
be pronounced without emotion, and, in the 
mind of one who has had the good fortune to 
examine at leisure its glorious remains, im- 
pressions are revived which time and distance 
can never obliterate. It is difficult to resist the 
desire of fondly dwelling on the descriptions 
of monuments, to the beauty of which, although 
they have been long well known, and accu- 
rately described, we feel that no language can 
do full justice. But, as it is not the purpose 
of this inquiry to give those practical or de- 
tailed instructions in the art, which may be so 
much better attained from other sources, I will 
only observe in this place, what it is of con- 
sequence to keep in view, because no descrip- 
tions or representations, however accurate, 
can give adequate notions of the effect of the 
originals, that, notwithstanding the lapse of 
ages, the injuries of barbarism, and fanatical 
violence, Athens still presents to the student 
the most faultless models of ornamental archi- 
tecture; and is still, therefore, the best school 
for the acquisition of the highest attributes of 
his art."— pp. 35, 36. 

Speaking of the numerous attempts at no- 
velty, which have been made in modern times, 
he observes: 

"It may be observed in general, that few of 
those numerous changes of taste which an in- 
satiable desire of novelty, or the caprice of 
fashion, may have sanctioned for a time, have 
been ultimately successful ; for these ephe- 
meral productions, however warmly sup- 
ported, have been found successively to vanish 
before the steady and permanent attractions of 
Grecian beauty, and we shall probably feel dis- 
posed to admit, that the ornamental details of 
the standard models of antiquity, combined 
and modified by discretion and judgment, ap- 
pear to offer a sufficient variety for the exer- 
cise of invention and genius in this province 
of the art."— p. 30. 

And comparing these with the remains of 
Grecian architecture, he observes: 

" The precious remains of Grecian art were 
long neglected, and the most beautiful were, in 
truth, nearly inaccessible to the Christian 
world. It is almost in our own time, that ob- 
stacles, formerly insurmountable, have been 
since vanquished; and that the treasures of 



82 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



art, still unfortunately in the custody of igno- 
rance and barbarism, have not only been 
visited, but have been accurately measured 
and delineated. Henceforth, therefore, these 
exquisite remains should form the chief study 
of the architect who aspires to permanent 
reputation; other modes are transitory and 
uncertain, but the essential qualities of Gre- 
cian excellence, as they are founded on reason, 
and are consistent with fitness and propriety, 
will ever continue to deserve his first care." — 
pp. 215, 21G. 

The argument which is most commonly 
urged against the restoration of an ancient 
structure, is, that it is degrading to copy the 
architecture of another people. It is both hu- 
miliating to our artists, it is said, and inju- 
rious to the progress of art, to imitate what 
has been already done. The Romans never 
copied; but, borrowing merely the general 
forms of the Grecian architecture, moulded 
them into different combinations, which gave 
a different character to their style of building. 
Such also should be the course which we 
should adopt. 

This very plausible argument proceeds 
upon an inattention to the successive steps 
by which excellence in the fine arts is attained, 
and a mistaken conception of the height to 
which we have already ascended in our taste 
or knowledge of architecture. It is quite true 
that the Romans did not copy the Grecian tem- 
ples ; and that the modern Italians have not 
thought of attempting a restoration of the Coli- 
seum or the Pantheon. But it is to be recol- 
lected that tJiq originals were within their reach, 
and had already exercised their salutary influence 
upon the public taste. The ancient Romans 
had only to go to Peestum, Agrigentum, or 
Syracuse, to behold the finest Grecian temples ; 
and their, warlike youth, in the course of the 
military expeditions to which all the citizens 
were liable, had perpetually, in their eastern 
dominions, the Grecian edifices placed before 
their eyes. Michael Angelo, Poussin, and 
Claude Lorraine, lived amidst the ruins of an- 
cient Rome, and formed their taste from their 
earliest youth, upon the Jiabitual contemplation 
of those monuments. For them to have co- 
pied these buildings, with a view to the re- 
storation of the public taste, would have been as 
absurd as for us to copy York or Lincoln Ca- 
thedrals, in order to revive an admiration for 
the Gothic architecture. 

But is there no difference between the situ- 
ation of a people, who, like the ancient Romans 
and modern Italians, had the great models of 
antiquity continually before their eyes, and 
that of a people, who, like the inhabitants of 
this island, have no models in the Doric style, 
either to form their taste, or guide their exer- 
tions, and who have no means of reaching the 
remains of that order which exist, but by a 
journey of many thousand miles'? Of the in- 
fluence of the stud} r of ancient excellence in 
improving the taste, both of architects and peo- 
ple, no one acquainted with the subject can 
have the smallest doubt; and it is stated in 
the strongest terms, by the author whose obser- 
vations have just been mentioned. " Amidst 
the ruins of Rome, the great Italian architects 



formed their taste. They studied the relics of 
ancient grandeur, with all the diligence of en- 
thusiasm. They measured the proportions, and 
drew the details, and modelled the members 
But when their artists were employed by the 
piety or magnificence of the age, they never re ■ 
stored the examples by which they were sur- 
rounded, and which were the objects of theii 
habitual study. The architects did not linger in 
contemplation of their predecessors ; former 
generations had advanced and they proceeded." 

Now such being the influence of the remains 
of antiquity in guiding the inventions, and 
chastening the taste of modern artists, is there 
no advantage in putting our architects in this 
particular on a level ivitJi those of Italy, and com- 
pensating, in some degree, by the restoration 
of the finest monuments of ancient genius, 
the local disadvantages with which a residence 
in this remote part of the world is necessarily at- 
tended? By doing this, we are not precluding 
the development of modern invention ; we are, 
on the contrary, laying the surest foundation 
4br it, by bringing our artists to the point from 
which the Italian artists took their departure. 
When this is done, the inventive genius of the 
two nations will be able to commence their 
career with equal advantages. Till it is attempt- 
ed, Ave can hardly hope that we shall overtake 
them in the race. Suppose, that instead of 
possessing the Coliseum and the Pantheon 
within their walls, and having made their pro- 
portions the continual subject of their study, 
the Roman artists had been obliged to travel 
into the interior of Asia to visit their ruins, 
and that this journey, from the expense with 
which it was attended, had been within the 
reach only of a few of the most opulent and 
adventurous of their nobility ; can there be the 
slightest doubt that the fine arts in that city 
would have been greatly indebted to an}' Ro- 
man pontiff who restored those beautiful mo- 
numents in his own dominions? and yet this 
benefit is seriously made a matter of doubt, 
when the restoration of the Parthenon is pro- 
posed, in a part of the world where the remains 
of ancient genius are placed at the distance of 
two thousand miles. 

The greatest exertions of original genius, 
both in literature and arts, by which modern 
Europe has been distinguished, have been made 
in an age when the wealth of ancient times 
was thoroughly understood. The age of Tasso 
andMachiavel/o//oim? the restoration of letters 
in Italy. If we compare their writings with those 
which preceded that great event, the difference 
appears almost incalculable. It was on the stu- 
dy of Grecian and Roman eloquence, that Mil- 
ton trained himself to those sublime concep- 
tions which have immortalized his name. 
Raphael and Michael Angelo gave but slight 
indications of original genius till their pow- 
ers were awakened and their taste refined by 
the study of the Grecian sculpture. Statuary, in 
modern times, has nowhere been cultivated with 
such success as at Rome, amidst the works 
of former ages; and Chantry has declared that 
the arrival of the Elgin marbles in the British 
Museum is to be regarded as an era in the pro- 
gress of art in this country. Architecture has 
attained its greatest perfection in France and 



NATIONAL MONUMENTS. 



83 



Italy, where the study of the remains of anti- 
quity which those countries contain, has had 
so powerful an influence upon the public taste. 
Those who doubt the influence of the restoration 
of the Parthenon, in improving the efforts of 
original genius in this country, reason in op- 
position not only to the experience of past 
times, in all the other departments of literature 
and art, but to all that we know of the causes 
to which the improvement of architecture itself 
has been owing. 

It is no answer to this to say that drawings 
and prints of these edifices are open to all the 
world; and that an architect may study the 
proportions of the Parthenon as well in 
Stuart's Athens, as on the Calton Hill of Edin- 
burgh. An acquaintance with drawings is 
limited to a small number, even in the most 
polished classes of society, and to the middling 
and lower orders is almost unknown; where- 
as, public edifices are seen by all the world, 
and obtrude themselves on the attention of the 
most inconsiderate. There are few persons 
who return from Greece or Italy, without a 
considerable taste for architectural beauty ; 
but during the war, when travelling was im- 
possible, the existence of Stuart's Athens and 
Piranesi's Rome produced no such effect. 
Our architects, during the war, had these ad- 
mirable engravings constantly at their com- 
mand: but how wretched were their concep- 
tions before the peace had afforded them the 
means of studying the originals ! The extra- 
ordinary improvement which both the style of 
our buildings, and the taste of our people have 
received, since the edifices of France and Italy 
were laid open to so large a proportion of the 
country, demonstrates the superior efficacy of 
actual observation, to the study of prints, in 
improving the public taste for architectural 
beauty. The engravings never become aw objed 
of interest, till the originals have been seen. 

The recent attempts to introduce a new 
order of architecture in this island, demon- 
strate, that we have not as yet arrived at the 
point where the study of ancient models can 
be dispensed with. In the new street in front 
of Carlton House, every thing, which, if form- 
ed on the model of the antique, is beautiful ; 
every thing in which novelty has been at- 
tended is a deformity. It is evident, that more 
than one generation must pass away, before 
architecture is so thoroughly understood as to 
admit of the former landmarks being disre- 
garded. 

The belief that a Grecian temple cannot 
look beautiful, but in the climate and under 
the sun of Athens, is a total mistake. The 
clear atmosphere which prevails during the 
frosts of winter, or in the autumnal months, 
in Scotland, is as favourable to the display of 
architectural splendour, as the warm atmo- 
sphere of Greece. The Melville monument in 
St. Andrew's Square- appears nowise inferior 
to the original in the Roman capitol. The 
gray and time-worn temples of Pcestum are 
perhaps more sublime that the Grecian struc- 
tures which still retain the brightness and 
lustre by which they were originally charac- 
terized. Of all the edifices which the genius 
of man ever conceived, the Doric temple is 



most independent of the adventitious advantages 
of light and shade, and rests most securely on 
the intrinsic grandeur and solidity of its con- 
struction. 

To say, that, every people have an archi- 
tecture of their own, and that the Gothic is 
irretrievably fixed down upon this island, is a 
position unwarranted either by reason or 
authority. A nation is not bound to adhere to 
barbarous manners, because their ancestors 
were barbarous; nor is the character of their 
literature to be fixed by the productions of its 
earliest writers. It is by its works in the 
period of its meridian splendour, that the opi- 
nion of posterity is formed. The bow was 
once the national weapon of England, and to 
the skill with which it was used, our greatest 
victories have been owing; but that is no 
reason why it should be adhered to as the 
means of national defence after fire-arms have 
been introduced. If we must make something 
peculiar in the National Monument, let it be 
the peculiarity which distinguishes the period 
when architecture and the other fine arts 
have attained to their highest perfection, and 
not the period of their infancy. But the feudal 
and castellated forms arose during an age of 
ignorance and civil dissension. To compel 
us to continue that style as the national archi- 
tecture, would be as absurd as to consider 
Chaucer as the standard of English literature, 
or Duns Scotus as the perfection of Scotch 
eloquence. We do not consider the writers in 
the time of the Jameses as the model of our 
national literature. Why then should we con- 
fer that distinction on the architecture which 
arose out of the circumstances of the barba- 
rous period 1 ? 

For these reasons, we are compelled to dif- 
fer from the noble author, whose very inte- 
resting essay on Grecian architecture has 
done so much to awaken the world to a sense 
of its excellencies, in regard to the expediency 
of restoring the Parthenon in the National 
Monument of Scotland. From the taste which: 
his work exhibits, and from the obvious supe- 
riority which he possesses over ourselves in 
estimating the beauties of Grecian architec- 
ture, we drew the strongest argument in favour 
of such a measure. It was from a study of 
the ruins of ancient Greece, that Lord Aber- 
deen acquired the information and taste which 
he possesses on this subject, and gained the 
superiority which he enjoys over his untra- 
velled countrymen. If they had the same 
means of visiting and studying the originals 
which he has possessed, we should agree 
with him in thinking, that the genius of the 
age should be directed to new combinations. 
But when this is not the case, we must be con- 
tent to proceed by slower degrees ; and while 
nineteen-twentieths of our people do not know 
what the Parthenon is, and can perceive no- 
thing remarkable in the finest models of archi- 
tectural excellence, we must not think of 
forming new orders. It is enough if we can 
make them acquainted with those which 
already ^exist. The first step towards national 
excellence in the fine arts, is to feel the beauty 
of that which has already been done; the se- 
cond, is to excel it. We must take the first 



84 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



step, before we a! tempt the second. Having 
laid the foundation of national taste in archi- 
tecture, by restoring the finest model of anti- 
quity on the situation of all others the best 
adapted for making its excellencies known, we 
shall be prepared to form new edifices, and 
possibly to surpass those which antiquity has 



left. But till this is done, there is every rea- 
son to apprehend, that the efforts of our artists 
will be as ineffectual in obtaining true beauty, 
as the genius of our writers was in obtaining 
real excellence, until the restoration of the 
classic authors gave talent its true direction, 
and public taste an unexceptionable standard. 



MARSHAL NEY. 



Thk memoirs connected with the French 
Revolution furnish an inexhaustible source 
of interesting discussion. We shall look in 
vain in any other period of history for the 
same splendid succession of events; for a 
phantasmagoria in which characters so illus- 
trious are passed before the view; or for in- 
dividuals whose passions or ambition have 
exercised an equally important influence on 
human affairs. When we enter upon the era 
of Napoleon, biography assumes the dignity 
of history ; the virtues and vices of individuals 
become inseparably blended with public mea- 
sures ; and in the memoirs of contemporary 
writers, we turn for the secret springs of those 
great events which have determined the fate 
of nations. 

From the extraordinary interest, however, 
Connected with this species of composition, 
has arisen an evil of no ordinary kind. Not 
France only, but Europe at large, being in- 
satiable for works of this kind, an immense 
number have sprung up of spurious origin, or 
doubtful authority. Writing of memoirs has 
become a separate profession. A crowd of 
able young men devote themselves to this fas- 
cinating species of composition, which pos- 
sesses the interest of history without its dry- 
ness, and culls from the book of Time only 
the most brilliant of its flowers. Booksellers 
engage, in the wholesale manufacture, as a 
mercantile speculation; an attractive name, 
an interesting theme, is selected; the relations 
of the individuals whose memoirs are pro- 
fessed to be given to the world, are besought 
to furnish a few original documents or au- 
thentic anecdotes, to give an air of veracity to 
the composition ; and at length the memoirs 
are ushered forth to the world as the work of 
one who never wrote one syllable of them 
himself. Of this description are the soi-disant 
Memoirs of Fouche, Robespierre, Une Femme 
de Qualite, Louis the Eighteenth, and many 
others, which are now admitted to be the work 
of the manufacturers for the Parisian book- 
sellers, but are nevertheless interspersed with 
many authentic and interesting anecdotes, 
derived from genuine sources, and contain in 
consequence much valuable matter for future 
history. 

In considering the credit due to any set of 
memoirs, one main point, of course, is, whe- 
ther they are published by a living author of 

*Memoires du Marlchal Nov. publics par aa Famille. 
Paris, Foumier; Londres, E.Bull, 1833. Blackwood's 
Magazine, Oct. 1833. 



character and station in society. If they are, 
there is at least the safeguard against impos- 
ture, which arises from the facility with which 
they may be disavowed, and the certainty that 
no man of character would permit a spurious 
composition to be palmed upon the world as 
his writing. The Memoirs, therefore, of Bour- 
rienne, Madame Junot, Savary, and many 
others, may be relied on as at least the ad- 
mitted work of the persons whose names they 
bear, and as ushered into the world under the 
sanction and on the responsibility of living 
persons of rank or station in society. 

There are other memoirs, again, of such ex- 
traordinary ability as at once to bear the stamp 
of originality and veracity on their very face. 
Of this description are Napoleon's memoirs, 
dictated to Montholon and Gourgaud; a work 
which bears in every page decisive marks of 
the clear conceptions, lucid ideas, and tranch- 
ant sagacity of the Conqueror of Austerlitz 
and Rivoli. Judging from internal- evidence, 
we are disposed to rank these invaluable Me- 
moirs much higher than the rambling and dis- 
cursive, though interesting work of Las Casas. 
They are not nearly so impassioned or ran- 
corous ; facts are not so obviously distorted; 
party spirit is not so painfully conspicuous. 
With regret, we must add, that even these 
genuine memoirs, dictated by Napoleon him- 
self, as the groundwork for the history of his 
achievements, contain the marks of the weak- 
nesses as well as the greatness of his mind; 
an incessant jealousy of every rival who ap- 
proached even to his glory ; an insatiable 
passion for magnifying his own exploits ; a 
disregard of truth so remarkable in a person 
gifted with such extraordinary natural sagaci- 
ty, that it can be ascribed only to the poison- 
ous moral atmosphere which a revolution pro- 
duces. The Memoirs of Thibaudeau perhaps 
exhibit the most valuable and correct, as well 
as favourable picture of the emperor's mind. 
In the discussions on the great public mea- 
sures which were submitted to the Council of 
State at Paris, and, above all, in the clear and 
luminous speeches of Napoleon on every sub- 
ject, whether of civil or military administra- 
tion, that occurred during his consulship, is 
to be found the clearest proof of the vast grasp 
and great capacity of his mind; and in their 
superiority to those of the other speakers, and, 
above all, of Thibaudeau himself, the best 
evidence of the fidelity of his reports. 

Next in value to those of Napoleon and 
Thibaudeau, we are inclined to place those of 



MARSHAL NEY. 



85 



Bourrienne and the Duchess of Abrantes. The 
first of these writers, in addition to consider- 
able natural talents, enjoyed the inestimable ad- 
vantage of having been the school-fellow of 
Napoleon, and his private secretary during 
the most interesting period of his life; that 
which elapsed from the opening of his Italian 
Campaign, in 1796, to his accession to the 
throne in 1804. If Bourrienne could be entire- 
ly relied on, his Memoirs, with such sources 
of information, would be invaluable; but un- 
fortunately, it is evident that he labours under 
a feeling of irritation at his former school- 
fellow, which renders it necessary to take his 
statements with some grains of allowance. 
Few men can forgive the extraordinary and 
unlooked-for elevation of their former equals ; 
and, in addition to this common source of pre- 
judice, it is evident that Bourrienne labours 
under another and a less excusable feeling. 
It is plain, even from his own admission, that 
he had been engaged in some money transac- 
tions of a doubtful character with M. Ouvrard, 
which rendered his continuing in the highly 
confidential situation of private secretary to 
the emperor improper; and his dismissal from 
it has evidently tinged his whole narrative 
with a certain feeling of acrimony, which, if 
it has not made him actually distort facts, has 
at least caused them to appear in his hands 
through a medium coloured to a certain de- 
gree. 

The Duchess of Abrantes, like most of the 
other annalists of Napoleon, labours under 
prepossessions of a different kind. She was 
intimate with Napoleon from his childhood ; 
her mother had the future emperor on her 
knee from the day of his birth ; and the in- 
timacy between the two families continued so 
great, that when Napoleon arrived at the age 
of twenty-six, and felt, as he expresses it, the 
" besoin de se fixer," he actually proposed for 
the duchess's mother himself, who was a per- 
son of great natural attractions, while he 
wished at the same time to arrange a mar- 
riage between Joseph and the duchess, and 
Pauline and her brother. It may readily be 
imagined that, though these proposals were 
all declined, they left no unfavourable impres- 
sion on the duchess's mind; and this, coupled 
with her subsequent marriage to Junot, and 
his rapid advancement by the emperor, has 
filled her mind with an admiration of his cha- 
racter almost approaching to idolatry. She 
sees every thing, in consequence, in the con- 
sular and imperial government, in the most 
favourable colours. Napoleon is worshipped 
with all a woman's fervour, and the days of 
triumph for the Grand Army looked back to 
as a dream of glory, which has rendered all 
the remainder of life worthless and insipid. 

The Memoirs of Marshal Ney appear under 
different auspices from any others which have 
yet appeared regarding this eventful era. They 
do not profess to have been written by him- 
self; and, indeed, the warlike habits, and 
sudden and tragic death of the marshal, pre- 
clude the possibility of their being ushered 
forth to the world under that character. But, 
on the other hand, they are unquestionably 
published by his family, from the documents 



j and papers in their possession; and the anec- 
| dotes with which they are interspersed have 
i plainly been collected with great pains from 
all the early friends of that illustrious warrior. 
j If they are not published, therefore, under 
the sanction of personal, they are under that 
j of family responsibility, and may be regarded, 
J as we would say in England, as " the Ney Pa- 
pers," connected together by an interesting 
biography of the character to whom they 
refer. 

In such a production, historical impartiality 
cannot be reasonably expected. To those of 
j his family who still mourn the tragic end of 
I the bravest of French heroes, his character 
must still be the object of veneration. Fail- 
I ings which would have been acknowledged, 
I defects which would have been pointed out, if 
he had descended to an honoured tomb, are 
forgotten in his melancholy fate; ami his 
family, with hearts ulcerated at the supposed 
injustice and perhaps *real illegality of his; 
condemnation, are rather disposed to magnify 
his character into that of a martyr, than ac- 
knowledge its alliance with any of the weak- 
nesses or faults of mortality. In such feel- 
ings, there is not only every thing that is 
natural, but much that is commendable ; and 
the impartial foreigner, in reviewing the his- 
tory of his achievements, will not forget the 
painful sense of duty under which the British 
government acted at the close of his career, 
or the mournful feelings with which the axe 
of justice was permitted to descend on one of 
the bravest of the human race, under the feel- 
ing — whether right or not it is the province 
of history to inquire — of imperious state 
necessity. 

Marshal Ney was born at Sarrelouis, on the 
10th January, 1769; consequently, he was 
twenty years old when the Revolution first 
broke out. His father was an old soldier, who 
had served with distinction at the battle of 
Rosbach ; but after his discharge, he conti- 
nued the profession of a cooper, to which he 
had been early educated. At school, his son, 
the young Ney, evinced the turbulent vigour 
of his disposition, and the future general was 
incessantly occupied in drilling and directing 
his comrades. Napoleon gave tokens of the 
same disposition at an equally early period; 
there is no turn of mind which so early 
evinces itself as a taste for military achieve- 
ments. He was at first destined for a notary's 
office ; but in spite of the earnest entreaties of 
his parents, he resolved to change his profes- 
sion. At the age of fifteen, our author gives 
the following interesting account of the cir- 
cumstances which led to his embracing the 
profession of arms. 

"So early as when he was fifteen, Ney had 
a presentiment of his future destiny. His 
father, incapable alike of estimating his pow- 
ers, or sharing his hopes, in vain endeavoured 
to restrain him. The mines of Assenwider at 
that period were in full activity; he sent his 
son there, to endeavour to give a new direc- 
tion to his thoughts. It had quite an opposite 
effect. His imagination soon resumed its 
wonted courses. He dreamed only of fields 
of battle, combats and glory. The counsels 
H 



83 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of his father, the tears of his mother, were 
alike ineffectual; they lacerated without mov- 
ing his heart. Two years passed away in this 
manner; but his taste for arms became every 
day more decided. The places where he 
dwelt, contributed to strengthen the natural 
bent of his genius. Almost all the towns on 
. the Rhine are fortified; wherever he went, he 
saw garrisons, uniforms, and artillery. Ney 
could withstand it no longer; he resigned his 
humble functions, and set out for Metz, where 
a regiment pf hussars was stationed, with the 
intention pf enlisting. The grief which he 
well knew that sudden determination would 
cause to his mother, the chagrin which it 
would occasion to his father, agitated his 
mind ; he hesitated long what to do, but at 
length filial piety prevailed over fear, and he 
returned to Sarrelouis to embrace his parents, 
and bid them adieu. 

" The interview was painful, his reception 
stormy ; reproaches, tears, prayers, menaces, 
alternately tore his heart. At length he tore 
himself from their arms, and flying in haste, 
without either baggage, linen, or money, he 
regained the route of Metz, from which he 
had turned. He walked on foot; his feet 
were soon blistered, his shoes were stained 
with blood. Sad, harassed, and worn out 
with fatigue, he nevertheless continued his 
march without flinching; and in his very first 
debut, gave proof of that invincible determi- 
nation which no subsequent obstacles were 
able to overcome. 

"At an after period, when fortune had 
smiled on his path, he returned to Sarrelouis. 
The artillery sounded; the troops were under 
arms ; all the citizens crowded to see their 
compatriot of whom they were so proud. Re- 
cognising then the road which thirteen years 
before he had traversed on foot, the marshal 
recounted with emotion his first fatigues to 
the officers who surrounded him." — I. 5, 6. 

It has frequently been observed, that those 
who rise from humble beginnings are ashamed 
in subsequent life of their commencement, 
and degrade themselves by a puerile endea- 
vour to trace their origin to a family of dis- 
tinction. Ney, equally with Napoleon, was 
above that meanness. 

"Never in subsequent life did the marshal 
forget the point from which he had started. 
After he had arrived at the highest point of his 
fortune, he took a pleasure in recurring to his 
humble origin. When some persons were 
declaiming in his presence on their connection 
with the noblesse, and what they had obtained 
from their rich families : — ' You were more 
fortunate than I,' said he, interrupting them ; 
' I received nothing from my family, and 
deemed myself rich when, at Metz, I had two 
pieces of bread on the board.' 

"After he was named a marshal of the em- 
pire, he held a splendid levee: every one 
offered his congratulations, and hastened to 
present his compliments. He interrupted the 
adulatory strain by addressing himself to an 
old officer who kept at a distance. 'Do you 
recollect, captain, the time when you said to 
me, on occasion of my presenting my report, 
Well done, Ney; I am well pleased with you ; 



go on as you have begun, you will make your 
fortune.' ' Perfectly, marshal,' replied his old 
commander; 'I had the honour to command 
a man infinitely my superior. Such good for- 
tune is not easily forgotten.' 

"The satisfaction which he experienced at 
recurring to his origin, arose not merely from 
the noble pride of having been the sole archi- 
tect of his fortune, but also from the warm 
affection which he ever felt for his family. 
He loved nothing so much as to recount the 
tenderness which he had experienced from his 
mother, and the good counsels which he had 
received from his father. Thus, when he was 
abandoning himself to all the dangers arising 
from an impetuous courage, he carefully con- 
cealed his perils from his parents and rela- 
tions, to save them from useless anxiety. On 
one occasion, he commanded the advanced 
guard of General Colaud, and was engaged in 
a serious action. Overwhelmed with fatigue, 
he returned and recounted to his comrades the 
events of the da}-. One of his friends blamed 
him for his imprudence. * It is very true,' 
replied Ney, 'I have had singular good for- 
tune to-day; four different times I found my- 
self alone in the midst of the Austrians. 
Nothing but the most extraordinary good for- 
tune extricated me out of their hands.' 'You 
have been more fortunate than your brother.' 
'What,' replied Ney, impetuously, and fixing 
his eyes anxiously on his friend, ' is my bro- 
ther dead 1 Ah ! my poor mother !' At length 
he learned the mournful news, that in a 
serious affair in Italy, Pierre Ney, his elder 
brother, had been killed. He burst into tears, 
and exclaimed, ' What would have become of 
my mother and sister, if I too had fallen ! 
Write to them, I pray you; but conceal the 
dangers to which I am exposed, that they may 
not fear also for my life.' The father of the 
marshal died a few years ago, at the age of 
nearly a hundred years. He loved his son 
with tenderness mingled with respect, and al- 
though of a singularly robust habit of body, 
his family feared the effect of the shock which 
the sad events of 1815 might produce upon 
him. He was never informed of them: the 
mourning of his daughter, with whom. he 
lived, and. of his grandchildren, only made 
him aware that some dreadful calamity had 
befallen the family. He ventured to ask no 
questions, and ever since, sad and melancholy, 
pronouncing but rarely the name of his son, 
he lingered on till 1826, when he died without 
having learned his tragic fate;"— I. 9, 10. 

The great characteristic of Marshal Nov 
was his impetuous courage; which gained for 
him, even among the giants of the era of Na- 
poleon, the surname of the Bravest of the 
Brave. This remarkable characteristic is 
thus described in these Memoirs : — 

" It is well known with what power and 
energy he could rouse the masses of the sol- 
diers, and precipitate them upon the eiiem)-. 
Vehement and impetuous when heading a 
charge, he was gifted with the most imper- 
turbable sang froid when it became necessary 
to sustain its movements. Dazzled by the 
lustre of that brilliant valour, many persons 
have imagined that it was the only illustrious 



MARSHAL NEY. 



quality which the marshal possessed ; but | 
those who were nearer his person, and better I 
acquainted with his character, will concede to 
him greater qualities than the enthusiasm 
which captivates and subjugates the soldier, j 
Calm in the midst of a storm of grape-shot — 
imperturbable amid a shower of balls and 
shells, Ney seemed to be ignorant of danger; 
to have nothing to fear from death. This 
rashness, which twenty years of perils have 
not diminished, gave to his mind the liberty, 
the promptitude of judgment and execution, 
so necessary in the midst of the complicated 
movements of war. This quality astonished 
those who surrounded him, more even than 
the courage in action which is more or less 
felt by all who are habituated to the dangers 
of war. One of his officers, whose courage 
had repeatedly been put to the proof, asked 
him one clay if he had never felt fear. Re- 
gaining instantly that profound indifference 
for danger, that forgetfulness of death, that 
elasticity of mind, which distinguished him on 
the field of battle, 'I have never had time,' 
replied the marshal with simplicity. 

"Nevertheless, this extraordinary coolness 
in danger did not prevent his perceiving those 
slight shades of weakness, from which it is so 
rarely that a soldier is to be found entirely 
exempted. On one occasion, an officer was 
giving an account of a mission on which he 
had been sent: while he spoke, a bullet passed 
so near him that he involuntarily lowered his 
head, but nevertheless continued his narrative 
without exhibiting emotion — ' You have done 
extremely well,' said the marshal, 'but next 
time do not bow quite so low.' 

" The marshal loved courage, and took the 
greatest pleasure in producing it in others. If 
he had witnessed it in a great degree in any 
one on the field of battle ; if he had discovered 
vigour, capacity, or military genius, he never 
rested till he had obtained their promotion ; 
and the army resounded for long with the 
efforts which he made for this purpose." — I. 21. 

But it was not mere valour or capacity on 
the field of battle, which distinguished Ney; 
he was attentive also to the minutest wants of 
his soldiers, and indefatigable in his end' a- 
vonTs to procure for them those accommoda- 
tions, of which, from having risen from the 
humblest rank himself, he so well knew how 
to appreciate the value. Of his efforts in this 
respect we have the following interesting ac- 
count: — 

"Quick in repressing excesses, the marshal 
omitted nothing to prevent them. A private 
soldier in early life, he had himself felt the 
sufferings endured by the private soldier, and 
when elevated to a higher station he did his 
utmost to assuage them in others. He knew 
that the soldier, naturally just and grateful to 
those v/ho watched over his interests, was 
difficult to manage when his complaints were 
neglected, and it was evident that his superiors 
had no sympathy for his fatigues or his priva- 
tions. Ney was sincerely attached to those 
great masses, which, though composed of men 
of such different characters, were equally 
leady every day to meet dangers and death in 
the discharge of duty. At that period our 



troops, worn out with the fatigues of war, ac- 
customed to make light of dangers, were much 
ruder in their manners, and haughty in their 
ideas, than those of these times, w r ho lead a 
pacific life in great cities and garrisons. The 
marshal was incessant in his endeavours to 
discover and correct the abuses which affected 
them. He ever endeavoured to prevent their 
wishes, and to convince the officers who com- 
manded them, that by elevating the soldier in 
his own eyes, and treating him with the respect 
which he deserves, but without any diminution 
of the necessary firmness, it was alone possible 
to obtain that forgetfulness of himself, that 
abandonment of military discipline, which 
constitutes so large a portion of military force. 

"Avoiding, therefore, in the most careful 
way, the imposition of unnecessary burdens 
upon the soldiers, he was equally careful to 
abstain from that vain ostentation of author- 
ity, that useless prodigality of escort, which 
generals of inferior calibre are so fond of dis- 
playing. His constant object was to spare the 
troops engaged in that fatiguing service, and 
not to diminish, but from absolute necessity, 
b]'- such detachments, the numerical strength 
of Ihe regiments under his orders. That soli- 
citude did not escape the soldiers ; and among 
their many subjects of gratitude, they ranked 
in ihe foremost place the continual care and 
perseverance with which their general secured 
for them the means of subsistence. The pro- 
digies he effected in that particular will be 
found fully detailed in the campaign of Portu- 
gal, where he succeeded, in a country repeat- 
edly devastated, in providing, by incredible 
exertions, not only provisions for his own 
corps, but the whole army, during the six 
months that it remained in Portugal. Con- 
stantly in motion on the Mondego, inces- 
santly pushing columns in every direction, 
he contrived to procure bread, clothes, provi- 
sions, in fine, every thing which was required. 
The recollection of these things remained 
engraven on the minds of his soldiers, and 
when his division with Massena caused him 
to resign the command of his corps, the grief 
of the soldiers, the murmurs, the first symp- 
toms of an insurrection ready to break forth, 
and which a single word from their chief 
would have blown into aflame, were sufficient 
to prove that his cares had not been thrown 
away on ungrateful hearts, and that his multi- 
plied attentions had won all their affections. 

" But his careful attention to his soldiers did 
not prevent him from maintaining the most 
rigorous discipline, and punishing severely 
any considerable excess on the part of the 
troops under his, command. An instance of 
this occurred in the country of Darmstadt. 
The Austrians had been defeated, and retired 
near to Swigemberg, where they were broken 
anew. The action was warmly contested, and 
our soldiers, irritated by so much resistance, 
broke open several houses and plundered them. 
The circumstances in which it occurred might 
excuse the transgression, but Ney resolved to 
make a signal example of reparation. While 
he proceeded with the utmost severity against 
the offenders, he published a proclamation, in 
which he directed that the damage should be 



88 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



estimated ; and in order that it should not be 
fixed at an elusory sum, he charged the Land- 
grave himself with the valuation. 

" When Governor of Gallicia ami Salamanca, 
these provinces, notwithstanding their haired 
at the yoke of the stranger, cheerfully acknow- 
ledged the justice of his administration. One 
only object of spoil has been left by the mar- 
shal to his family, a relic of St. James of Com- 
postella, which the monks of the convent of 
St. Jago presented to him, in gratitude for the 
humanity with which he treated them. He did 
not limit his care to the protection of property 
from pillage; he knew that there are yet 
dearer interests to which honour is more 
nearly allied, and he never ceased to cause 
them to be respected. The English army will 
bear testimony to his solicitude in that parti- 
cular. Obliged, after the battle of Corunna, to 
embark in haste, they were unable to place on 
board the women by whom they were followed, 
and in consequence, fifty were left on the shore. 
where they were wandering about without pro- 
tection, exposed to the insults of the soldiers. 
No sooner was Ney informed of their situa- 
tion, than he hastened to come to their suc- 
cour ; he assembled them, assured them of his 
protection, and directed that they should be 
placed in a female convent. But the Superior 
refused to admit them ; she positively refused 
to have any thing to do with heretics ; no en- 
treaties could persuade her to extend to these 
unfortunates the rites of hospitality. 

"'Be it so,' replied the marshal; 'I under- 
stand your scruples ; and, therefore, instead of 
these Protestants, you shall furnish lodgings 
to two companies of Catholic grenadiers.' Ne r 
cessity, at length, bent the hard-hearted Abbess ; 
and these unhappy women, for the most part 
the wives or daughters of officers or non-com- 
missioned officers, whose bravery we had ex- 
perienced in the field, were received into the 
convent, where they were protected from every 
species of injury." — I. 39 — 41. 

We have no doubt of the truth of this last 
anecdote, and we may add that Ne) r not only 
respected the remains of Sir John Moore, 
interred in the ramparts of Corunna, but 
erected a monument to his memory. It is 
soothing to see the Freemasonry of generous 
feeling, which subsists between the really 
brave and elevated, uruder all the varieties of 
national rivalry or animosity, in every part of 
the world. 

It is a pleasing task to record traits of gene- 
rosity in an enemy; but war is not composed 
entirely of such actions; and, as a specimen 
of the mode in which the Republican troops, 
in the first years of their triumphs, oppressed 
the people whom they professed to deliver, we 
subjoin the following account of the mode in 
which they levied their requisitions, taken 
from the report of one of the Envoys of Go- 
vernment to the Convention. 

"Cologne, 8th October, 1794. 

"The agents sent to make requisitions, my 
dear colleagues, act in such a manner as to 
revolt all the world. The moment they arrive 
in a town, they lay a requisition on every 
thing ; literally every thing* No one thereafter 
can either buy or sell. Thus we see com- 



merce paralyzed, and for how long 1 ? For an 
indefinite time ; for there are many requisi- 
tions which have been laid on a month ago, 
and on which nothing has yet been demanded; 
and during that whole period the inhabitants 
were unable to purdtasc any articles even of the 
first 'necessity. If such measures are not cal- 
culated to produce a counter-revolutionary 
reaction ; if they are not likely to rouse against 
us the indignation of all mankind, I ask you 
what are 1 

" Safety and fraternity. — Gellit." I. 53. 

Contrast this conduct on the part of the 
Friends of the People, as detailed by one of 
their own representatives to his democratic 
rulers, with the conduct of the Duke of Wel- 
lington, paying high prices for every article 
required by the English army in the south of 
France, and we have the best proof of the dif- 
ference between the actions of a Conservative 
and Revolutionary Government. 

The life of a soldier who spent twenty years 
in camps, of course furnishes abundant ma- 
terials for the description of military adventure. 
We select, almost at random, the following de- 
scription of the passage of the Rhine, opposite 
Ehrenbreitzin, by the corps of Kleber, in 1795. 

"The fort of Ehrenbreitzin commanded the 
mouth of Moselle; the batteries of the right 
bank swept all the shores of the Rhine. The 
enemy were quite aware of our design; the 
moon shone bright; and his soldiers, with 
anxious eyes and listening ears, waited the 
moment when our boats might come within 
reach of his cannon. The danger was great ; 
but that of hesitation was still greater; we 
abandoned ourselves to our fate, and pushed 
across towards Neuwied. Instantly the forts 
and the batteries thundered with unexampled 
violence ; a shower of grape-shot fell in our 
boats. But. there is something in great danger 
which elevates the mind. Our pontonniers 
made a sport of death, as of the batteries 
which were successively unmasked, and join- 
ing their efforts to the current which swept 
them along, at length reached the dikes on 
the opposite shore. Neuwied also opened its 
fire. That delicious town, embellished by 
all the arts of peace, now transformed into a 
warlike stronghold, overwhelmed us by the 
fire of its batteries. We replied with vigour, 
but for long felt a repugnance to direct our 
fire against that charming city. At length, 
however, necessity compelled us to make the 
attack, and in a few hours Neuwied was re- 
duced to ashes. 

" The difficulties of the enterprise neverthe- 
less remained. It was necessary to overcome 
a series of redoubts, covered by chevaux-de- 
frize, palisades, and covered ways. We had 
at once to carry Dusseldorf and beat the Count 
d'Hirbauch, who awaited our approach at the 
head of 20,000 men. Kleber alone did not des- 
pair ; the batteries on the left shore were ready, 
and the troops impatiently awaited the signal 
to land. The dispositions were soon made. 
Lefebvre attacked the left, Championnet the 
centre, Grenier the right. Such leaders could 
not but inspire confidence in the men. Soldiers 
and officers leapt ashore. We braved the storm 
of grape-shot; and on the 5tb September, at 



MARSHAL NEY. 



S£ 



break of clay, we were established on the Ger- 
man bank of the river." — I. 99 — 101. 

These Memoirs abound with passages of 
this description ; and if implicit faith is to be 
given to them, it appears certain that Nev from 
rjhe very first was distinguished by a degree 
of personal gallantry, as well as military con- 
duct, which has been rarely paralleled, and 
never exceeded. The description of his ele- 
vation to the rank of General Brigade, and the 
action which preceded it, is singularly de- 
scriptive of the character of the French armies 
at that period. 

" Meanwhile Mortier made himself master of 
Ebermanstadt, Collaud advanced upon For- 
chiers. His orders were to drive back every 
opponent whom he found in the plain, and 
disperse every force which attempted to cover 
the place. The task was difficult ; the avenues 
leading to it, the heights around it, were equally 
guarded ; and Wartensleben, in the midst of 
his soldiers, was exhorting them not to per- 
mit their impregnable position to be carried. 
It presented, in truth, every obstacle that could 
well be imagined; they were abrupt, covered 
with woods, surrounded by deep ravines. To 
these obstacles of nature were joined all the 
resources of art ; on this height were placed 
masses of soldiers, that was crowned with ar- 
tillery; infantry was stationed at the summit 
of the defiles, cavalry at their mouths ; on 
every side the resistance promised to be of the 
most formidable description. Ney, however, 
was not to be deterred by such obstacles ; he 
advanced at the head of a handful of heroes, 
and opened his fire. He had only two pieces 
of artillery; the enemy speedily unmasked 
fourteen. His troop was for a moment shaken 
by the violence of the fire ; but it was ac- 
customed to all the chances of war. It speedily 
re-formed, continued the attack, and succeeded, 
after an obstinate struggle, in throwing the ene- 
my's ranks into disorder. Some reinforcements 
soon afterwards arrived ; the melee grew 
warmer; and at length the Austrians, over- 
whelmed and broken, evacuated the position, 
which they found themselves unable to defend. 

" Kleber, charmed with that brilliant achieve- 
ment, testified the warmest satisfaction with it 
to the young officer. He addressed to him, 
at the head of his troop, the most flattering ex- 
pressions upon his activity, skill, and courage, 
and concluded with these words, 'I will no 
longer hurt your modesty by continuing my 
praises! My line is taken; you are a Gene- 
ral of Brigade.' The chasseurs clapped their 
hands, and the officers loudly testified their 
satisfaction. Ney alone remained pensive ; he 
even seemed to hesitate whether he should ac- 
cept the rank, and did not utter a single word. 
'Well,' continued Kleber, in the kindest man- 
ner, 'you seem very confused; but the Aus- 
trians are those who will speedily make you 
forget your ennui; as for me, I will forthwith 
report your promotion to the Directory.' He 
did so in effect, and it was confirmed by return 
of post."— I. 186. 

It is still a question undecided, whether Na- 
poleon intended seriously to invade England, 
or whether his great preparations in the Chan- 
nel were a feint merely to give employment 
12 



to his troops, and cover other designs. Bour- 
rienne maintains that he never in reality in- 
tended to attempt the descent; and that, un- 
known to every one, he was organizing his 
expedition into the heart of Germany at the 
time when all around him imagined that he 
was studying only the banks of the Thames. 
Napoleon himself affirms the contrary. He 
asserts that he was quite serious in his inten- 
tion of invading England; that he was fully 
aware of the risks with which the attempt 
would have been attended, but was willing to 
have braved them for so great an object; and 
that the defeat of the combined squadron by 
Sir Robert Calder, frustrated the best combined 
plan he had ever laid during his whole career. 
His plan, as detailed in the instructions given 
to Villeneuve, printed in the appendix to his 
Memoirs, was to have sent the combined fleet 
to the West Indies, in order to draw after it 
Lord Nelson's squadron ; and to have immedi- 
ately brought it back, raised the blockade of 
Ferrol and Corunna, and proceeded with the 
combined fleet to join the squadrons of Rochelle- 
and Brest, where twenty sail of the line were 
ready for sea, and brought the combined squad- 
ron into the Channel to cover the embarkation 
of the army. In this way, by a sudden con- 
centration of all his naval force, he calculated 
upon having seventy sail of the line in the 
Channel; a much greater force than, in the ab- 
sence of Lord Nelson, the British could have 
at once assembled to meet him. When we 
recollect that Lord Nelson fell into the snare, 
and actually pursued the combined fleets to 
the West Indies ; that in pursuance of Na- 
poleon's design, Villeneuve reached Ferrol, 
and that it was in consequence only of his un- 
successful action with Sir Robert Calder, that 
he was induced to fall back to Cadiz, and there- 
by cause the whole plan to miscarry; it is 
evident that the fate of Britain then hung upon 
a thread, and that if the English admiral had 
been defeated, and the combined fleet had pro- 
ceeded up the Channel, the invasion might have 
been effected, and the fate of the civilized world 
been changed. It is a singular proof of the 
sagacity of Lord Collingwood, that at the very 
time when this well-combined plan was in 
progress on Napoleon's side, he divined the 
enemy's intentions, and in a memorial address- 
ed to the Admiralty, and published in his Me- 
moirs, pointed out the danger arising from the 
precise plan w r hich his great antagonist was 
adopting; and it is a still more singular in- 
stance of the injustice and precipitance of 
public opinion, that the British government 
were compelled to bring the admiral to a 
court-martial, and dismiss him from the ser- 
vice, because, with fifteen ships of the line, he 
had maintained a glorious combat with twenty- 
seven, captured two of their line, and defeated 
the greatest and best combined project ever 
formed by the Emperor Napoleon. 

As every thing relating to this critical pe- 
riod of the war is of the very highest interest 
in Great Britain, we shall translate the pas- 
sages of Ney's Memoirs, which throw light 
upon the vast preparations then made on the 
other side of the Channel. 

" Meanwhile time passed on, and England, 



90 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



a little recovered from its consternation, but 
nevertheless the real place of attack, always 
escaped its government. Four thousand gun- 
boats covered the coast; the construction of 
praams and rafts went on without intermission ; 
every thing announced that the invasion was 
to be effected by main force, and by means of 
the flotilla which made so much noise. If the 
strife was doubtful, it at least had its chance 
of success ; but while England w'as daily be- 
coming more confident of success in repelling 
that, aggression, the preparations for the real 
attack were approaching to maturity. Napoleon 
never seriously intended to traverse the Chan- 
nel under cover of a fog, by the aid of a favour- 
able wind, or by the force of such frail vessels 
of war as gun-boats. His arrangements were 
better made; and all that splendid display of 
gun-boats was only intended to deceive the 
enemy. He wished to disperse the force which 
he could not combat when assembled together. 
In pursuance of this plan, his fleets were to 
have assembled from Toulon, Rochfort, Cadiz, 
Brest, and Ferrol, draw after them to the West 
Indies the British blockading squadrons, and 
return rapidly on their steps, and present them- 
selves in the Channel before the English were 
well aware that they had crossed the Line. 
Master in this way of a preponderating force, 
riding irresistibly in the Channel, he would have 
embarked on board his flotilla the troops with 
which he would have made himself master of 
London, and revolutionized England, before 
that immense marine, which he could never 
have faced when assembled together, could 
have collected for its defence. These different 
expeditions, long retained in their different har- 
bours, had at length set sail; the troops had 
received orders to be ready to put themselves 
instantby on board; the instructions to the 
general had foreseen every thing, provided for 
every emergency ; the vessels assigned to each 
troop, the order in which they were to fall out 
of the harbour, were all fixed. Arms, horses, 
artillery, combatants, camp-followers, all had 
received their place, all were arranged accord- 
ing to their orders. 

" Marshal Ney had nothing to do but follow 
out literally his instructions; they were so 
luminous and precise as to provide for every 
contingency. He distributed the powder, the 
tools, the projectiles, which were to accompany 
his corps on board the transports provided for 
thai purpose. He divided that portion of the 
flotilla assigned to him into subdivisions; 
every regiment, every battalion, every com- 
pany, received the praams destined for their 
use; every one, down to the very last man, 
was ready to embark at the first signal. He 
did more ; rapidity of movement requires com- 
bined exertions, and he resolved to habituate 
the troops to embarkation. The divisions were 
successively brought down to the quay, and 
embarked in the finest order; but it was possi- 
ble that when assembled hurriedly together, 
they might be less calm and orderly. The 
Marshal resolved to put it to the proof. 

"Infantry, cavalry, artillery, were at once 
put under arms, and ranged opposite to the 
vessels on which they were to embark. The 
whole were formed in platoons for embarka- 



tion, at small distances from each other. A 
cannon was discharged; the field-officers and 
staff-officers immediately dismounted, and 
placed themselves each at the head of the 
troop he was destined to command. The drums 
had ceased to beat; the soldiers had unfixed 
their bayonets; a second discharge louder than 
:he first was heard; the generals of divisions 
pass the order to the colonels. 'Make ready 
to embark.' Instantly a calm succeeds to the 
tumult; everyone listens attentively, eagerly 
watching for the next order, on which so much 
depended. A third cannon is heard, and the 
command ' Colonels, forward,' is heard with 
indescribable anxiety along the line. In fine 
a last discharge resounds, and is instantly fol- 
lowed by the order, ' March !' — Universal ac- 
clamations instantly broke forth; the soldiers 
hurried on board ; in ten minutes and a half 
twenty-five thousand men were embarked. 
The soldiers never entertained a doubt that 
they were about to set sail. They arranged 
themselves, and each took quarters for him- 
self; when the cannon again sounded, the 
drums beat to arms, they formed ready for 
action on the decks. A last gun is discharged; 
every one believed it was the signal to weigh 
anchor, and shouts of Vive V Erapereur rent the 
air, but it was the signal for debarkation, 
which was effected- silently and with deep re- 
gret. It was completed, however, as rapidly 
as the embarkation, and in thirteen minutes 
from the time when the soldiers were on 
board, they were arranged in battle array on 
the shore. 

"Meanwhile the English had completely 
fallen into the snare. The fleet which cruised 
before Rochfort had no sooner seen Admiral 
Missiessy running down before the wind, than 
it set sail in pursuit. Villeneuve, who started 
from Toulon in the middle of a violent tem- 
pest, was obliged to return to the harbour; but 
such was Nelson's anxiety to meet him, that 
he set sail first for Egypt, then for the West In- 
dies. The Mediterranean was speedily cleared 
of English vessels; their fleets wandered 
through the Atlantic, without knowing where 
to find the enemy; the moment to strike a 
decisive stroke had arrived. 

"The unlocked for return of Missiessy frus- 
trated all these calculations. He had sailed 
like an arrow to Martinique, and returned still 
more rapidly: but the English now retained 
at home the squadrons which they had original- 
ly intended to have sent for the defence of 
Jamaica. Our situation in consequence was 
less favourable than we had expected ; but, 
nevertheless, there was nothing to excite un- 
easiness. We had fifteen ships of the line at 
Ferrol, six at Cadiz, five at Rochfort, twenty- 
one at Brest. Villeneuve was destined to rally 
them, join them to the twenty which he had 
under his orders, and advancing at the head 
of an overwhelming force, make himself mas- 
ter of the Channel. He left Toulon on the 
30th March, and on the 23d June he was at the 
Azores, on his return to Europe, leaving Nelson 
still in the West Indies. But at the very mo- 
ment when every one flattered himself that 
our vessels would speedily arrive to protect 
the embarkation of the army, we learnt that, 



MARSHAL NEY. 



91 



deterred by a cannonade of a few hours, and 
the Joss of two ships, (Sir R. Calder's battle,) 
he had taken refuge in Ferrol. A mournful 
feeling- took possession of our minds ; every 
one complained that a man should be so im- 
measurably beneath his destiny. 

"All hope, however, was not lost; the em- 
peror still retained it. He continued his dis- 
positions, and incessantly urged the advance 
of the marine. Every one ilattered himself 
that Villeneuve, penetrated with the greatness 
of his mission, would at length put to sea, join 
Gautheame, disperse the fleet of Corn wal lis, 
and at length make his appearance in the 
Channel. But an unhappy fatality drew him 
on. He only left Ferrol to throw himself into 
Cadiz. It was no longer possible to count on 
the support of his squadron. The emperor in 
vain attempted other expedients, and made 
repeated attempts to embark. Nothing could 
succeed for want of the covering squadron ; 
and soon the Battle of Trafalgar and the 
Austrian war postponed the conquest of Eng- 
land to another age." — II. 259 — 262. 

This passage, as well as all the others in 
Napoleon's Memoirs, which are of a similar 
import, are calulated, in our opinion, to excite 
the most singular feelings. They demonstrate, 
beyond a doubt, of what incalculable import- 
ance Sir Robert Calder's action was ; and that, 
more than even the triumph of Trafalgar, it 
fixed the destinies of Britain. The great victory 
of Nelson did not occur till the 21st October, 
and months before that the armies of Napo- 
leon had been transported from the shores of 
Boulogne to the heart of Germany, and were 
irrevocably engaged in a contest with Austria 
and Russia. It was Sir Robert Calder's action 
which broke the course of Napoleon's designs, 
and chained his armies to the shore, at the 
very time when they were ready to have 
passed over, with a second Caesar, to the shores 
of Britain. It is melancholy to think of the 
fate of the gallant officer, under the dictation 
of that impartial judge, the popular voice, 
whose skill and bravery achieved these great 
results. 

It is a curious speculation, now that the 
event is over, what would have been the fate 
of England, if Napoleon, with one hundred 
and fifty thousand men, had, in consequence 
of the success of these combinations, landed 
on the shores of Sussex. We are now com- 
pelled, with shame and sorrow, to doubt the 
doctrine which, till the last three years, we 
held on this subject. We fear, there is a great 
probability that he would have achieved the 
overthrow of the British empire. Not that 
the mere force of Napoleon's army, great as it 
was, could have in the end subjugated the de- 
scendants of the conquerors of Cressy and 
Azicour. The examples of Vimiera, Maida, 
Alexandria, Corunna, and Waterloo, where 
English troops, who had never seen a shot 
fired in anger, at once defeated the veterans 
of France, even when commanded, by the 
ablest t officers, is sufficient to prove the reverse. 
England was invincible, if she remained faith- 
ful to herself. But would she nave remained 
faithful to herself? That is the question. The 
events of the last three years have awakened 



us to the mournful fear, that she would not. It 
is now proved, by sad experience, that we 
possess within ourselves a numerous, power- 
ful, and energetic faction, insatiable in am- 
bition, unextinguishable in resources, deaf to 
every call of patriotism, dead to every feeling 
of hereditary glory. To them national triumph 
is an object of regret, because it was achieved 
under the banners of their opponents ; national 
humiliation an object of indifference, provided 
they are elevated by it to the reins of power. 
With burning hearts and longing eyes they 
watched the career of the French Revolution, 
"ever eulogizing its principles, palliating its 
excesses, vituperating its adversaries. Mr. 
Fox pronounced in Parliament the Constitu- 
tion framed by the Constituent Assembly, to 
be " the most astonishing fabric of wisdom 
and virtue which patriotism had reared in any 
age or country, on the ruins of ignorance and 
superstition." And when this astonishing 
fabric produced Danton and Robespierre, and 
hatched the Reign of Terror, he showed no 
disposition to retract the opinion. Two hun- 
dred and fifty thousand Irishmen, we are told 
by Wolfe Tone, were united, drilled, regimented 
and organized, to effect the separation of Ire- 
land from Great Britain ; and if we may be- 
lieve Mr. Moore, in his Life of Lord Edward 
Fitzgerald, Mr. Fox was no stranger to their 
treasonable intentions at the very time when 
he earnestly supported their demand for Parlia- 
mentary Reform. During the last three years 
we have seen this party systematically undo 
every think which their predecessors had 
effected during half a century of unexampled 
glory; abandon, one by one, all the objects of 
our continental policy, the Dutch barrier, the 
protection of Portugal, the independence of 
Holland, the integrity of Turkey ; unite the 
leopard and the tricolor in an inglorious 
crusade against the independence of the sur- 
rounding states ; beat down Holland by open 
force, and subvert Portugal by feigned neutrali- 
ty and real hostility; force the despots of 
Northern Europe into a dangerous defensive 
combination, and unite the arms of constitu- 
tional freedom with those of democratic am- 
bition in the South ; and, to gain a deceitful 
popularity for a few years, sacrifice the Con- 
stitution, which had for two hundred years 
conferred unexampled prosperity on their 
country. The men who have done these 
things, could not have been relied on when 
assailed by the insidious arts and deceitful 
promises of Napoleon. 

Napoleon has told us, in his Memoirs, how 
he proposed to have subjugated England. He 
would have overcome it, as he overcame Swit- 
zerland, Venice, and all the states which did 
not meet him with uncompromising hostility. 
He would instantly, on landing, have pub- 
lished a proclamation, in which he declared 
that he came to deliver the English from the 
oligarchy under which they had groaned for 
three centuries; and for this end he would 
have promised annual parliaments, universal 
suffrage, vote by ballot, the confiscation of the 
Church property, the abolition of the. Com 
Laws, and all the objects of Whig or Radical 
ambition. Bv these offers he would have 



92 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



Thrown the apple of eternal discord and divi- 
sion into Great Britain. The republican trans- 
ports which broke out with such vehemence 
on the announcement of the Reform Bill in 
1831, would have been instantly heattt on the 
landing of the tricolor-flag on the throne of 
England: and the divisions now so irrecover- 
ably established amongst us, would have at 
once arisen in presence of a gigantic and en- 
terprising enemy. There can be little doubt, 
we fear, what a considerable portion of the 
Movement part} r in England, and the whole of 
it in Ireland, would have done. They would, 
heart and hand, have joined the enemy of their 
country. Conceiving that they were doing 
what was best for its inhabitants — they would 
have established a republic in close alliance 
With France, and directed the whole resources 
of England to support the cause of democracy 
all over the worid. Meanwhile, Napoleon, 
little solicitous about their political dogmas, 
would have steadily fixed his iron grasp on 
the great warlike establishments of the coun- 
try ; Portsmouth, Plymouth, Woolwich, Chat- 
ham, Sheerness, Deptford, and Carron, would 
have fallen into his hands ; the army would 
have been exiled or disbanded; and if his 
new democratical allies proved at all trouble- 
some in the House of Commons, he would 
have dispersed them with as little ceremony, 
by a file of grenadiers, as he did the Council 
of Five Hundred in the Orangery of St. Cloud. 

It is with pain and humiliation that we 
make this confession. Five years ago we 
should have held any man a foul libeller on 
the English character who should have de- 
clared such conduct as probable in any part 
of the English opposition ; and we should 
have relied with as much confidence on the 
whole liberal party to resist the aggressions 
of France, as we should on the warmest ad- 
herents of government. It is their own conduct, 
since they came into power, which has unde- 
ceived us, and opened our eyes to the immen- 
sity of the danger to which the country was 
exposed, when her firm patriots at the helm 
nailed her colors to the mast. But regarding, 
as we do, with perfect sincerity, the Reform 
Bill as the parent of a much greater change 
in our national institutions than a conquest by 
France would have been, and the passing of 
that measure as a far more perilous, because 
more irremediable leap in the dark, than if 
we had thrown ourselves into the arms of 
Napoleon, we cannot but consider the subse- 
quent events as singularly illustrative of the 
prior dangers, and regard the expulsion of the 
Whigs from the ministry by the firmness of 
George III., in 1807, as a delivery from greater 
danger than the country had known since the 
Saxon arms were overthrown by William on 
ihe field of Hastings. 

One of the most brilliant acts of Napoleon 
was his astonishing march from Boulogne to 
Swabia, in 1805, and the admirable skill with 
which he accumulated his forces, converging 
from so many different points round the un- 
fortunate Mack, who lay bewildered at Ulm. — 
In this able undertaking, as well as in the 
combat at Elchingen, which contributed in so 
essential a manner to its success, and from 



which his title of duke was taken, Ncy bore 
a conspicuous part. The previous situation 
of I lie contending powers is thus described by 
our author: 

"The troops which the emperor had under 
his command did not exceed 180,000 men. — 
This was little enough for the strife which 
was about to commence, for the coalition did 
not now merely oppose to us the troops which 
they had in the first line. The allied sove- 
reigns already addressed themselves to the 
multitude, and loudly called on them to take 
up arms in defence of liberty, they turned 
against us the principles which they professed 
their desire to destroy. They roused in Ger- 
many national antipathies : flattered in Italy 
the spirit of independence, scattered every 
where the seeds of insurrection. The masses 
of the people were slow lo swallow the bait. 
They appreciated our institutions, and did not 
behold without distrust this sudden burst of 
enthusiasm in sovereigns in favour of the po- 
pular cause : but they readily took fire at the 
recital of the sacrifices which we had imposed 
on them, the promised advantages which we 
had not permitted them to enjoy. The Coali- 
tion prepared to attack us on all the vast line 
which we occupied. Russians, Swedes, Eng- 
lish, Hanoverians, hastened to take a part in 
the strife. The approach of such a mass of 
enemies might have occasioned dangerous 
results ; a single reverse might have involved 
us in a strife with warlike and impatient na- 
tions; but the Austrians had imprudently 
spread themselves through Bavaria, at a time 
when the Russians had hardly as yet passed 
Poland. The emperor did not despair of an- 
ticipating the one and overwhelming the other, 
and thus dissipating that formidable league of 
sovereigns before they were in a situation to 
deploy their forces on the field of battle. The 
blow, according to these calculations, was to 
be struck in Swabia. But from that country 
to Boulogne, where our troops were stationed, 
the distance was nearly the same as to Podo- 
lia, where the Russians had arrived. He 
sought to steal a march upon them to conceal 
for some days the great manoeuvre which he 
meditated. For this purpose, Marmont, whose 
troops were on the coast, when he set out for 
Germany, received orders to give out that he 
was about to take merely other quarters ; and 
Bernadotte, who was stationed in Hanover, to 
encourage the opinion that he was about to 
spend the winter in that country. Meanwhile 
all had orders to hasten their march ; all ad- 
vanced with the same celerity; and when our 
enemies still believed us on the shores of the 
Channel, we were far advanced towards the 
Rhine. The first and second corps had 
reached Mayence ; the third was grouped 
around Manheim ; the fourth had halted in 
the environs of Spire; the fifth was estab- 
lished at Strasbourg, and the sixth, which had 
started from Montreuil on the 28th August, had 
reached Lauterbourg on the 24th September. 
In that short interval, it had traversed three hun- 
dred leagues, being at the rate of above ten 
leagues a-day. History has nothing to show 
comparable to such celerity." — EL 268 — 270. 

From a soldier of such ability and experi- 



MARSHAL NEY. 



&3 



ence much may be expected of value on the 
science of war. In the " Reflections" of the 
marshal, at the end of the second volume, the 
reader will find much interesting matter of that 
description. We select one'example : — 

" The defensive system accords ill with the 
disposition of the French soldier, at least if it 
is not to be maintained by successive diver- 
sions and excursions ; — in a word, if you are 
not constantly occupied in that little warfare, 
inactivity destroys the force of troops who 
rest constantly on the defensive. They are 
obliged to be constantly on the alert, night 
and day; while, on the other hand, offensive 
expeditions, wisely combined, raise the spirit 
of the soldier, and prevent him from having 
time to ponder on the real cause of his dan- 
gerous situation. 

" It is in the offensive that you find in the 
French soldier inexhaustible resources. His 
active disposition, and valour in assaults, 
double his power. A general should never 
hesitate to march with the bayonet against the 
enemy, if the ground is favourable for the use 
of that weapon. It is in the attack, in fine, 
that you accustom the French soldier to every 
species of warfare, — alike to brave the ene- 
my's fire, which is generally little hurtful, 
and to leave the field open to the develop- 
ment of his intelligence and courage. 

" One of the greatest difficulties in war is 
to accustom the soldier to the fatigues of 
marching. The other powers of Europe will 
attain with difficulty in this respect the degree 
of perfection which the French soldier pos- 
sesses. His sobriety and physical constitu- 
tion are the real causes of the marked superi- 
ority he has acquired over the Austrians in 
that particular. 

" Rapidity of march, or rather an able com- 
bination of marches, almost invariably deter- 
mine the fate of war. Colonels of infantry, 
therefore, should be indefatigable in their en- 
deavours to train their soldiers progressively to 
ordinary and forced marches. To attain that 
object, so essential in war, it is indispensable 



to oblige the soldier to carry his knapsack on 
his back from the outset of the campaign, in 
order to accustom him to the fatigues which 
in the course of it he must undergo. The 
health of the soldier depends on this being 
habitual; the men are economized by it; the 
continual loss by partial and frequently 
useless combats is avoided, as well as the 
considerable expenses of hospitals to govern- 
ment."— II. 410, 411. 

We have room for no more extracts: 
those which have been already given will 
convey a clear idea of the character of this 
work. It possesses the merits, and exhibits 
the defects, of all the memoirs by the leaders 
of the ambitious or war party in France, re- 
garding that period. Abounding in anecdote, 
full of patriotic spirit and military adventure, 
it at the same time presents all the prejudices 
and errors of that party, — a profound and 
unreasonable hatred of this country — an im- 
passioned enthusiasm for the glory of France 
— a deliberate and apparently sincere belief, 
that whatever opposes its elevation is to be 
looked upon with instinctive and unconquer- 
able aversion. In this respect, the opinions 
of this party in France are utterly extravagant, 
and not a little amusing. They make no 
allowances for the differences of national 
feeling — yield nothing to national rivalry — 
never transport themselves into the breasts of 
their antagonists in the strife, or of the people 
they are oppressing, but take for granted, as a 
matter concerning which there can be no dis- 
pute, that whatever resists the glory of France 
is an enemy of the human race. There are 
many writers of intelligence and ability in 
whom we cannot pardon this weakness ; but, 
recollecting the tragic fate of Marshal Ney, 
and pitying the ulcerated hearts of his rela- 
tions, we find more excuse for it in his bio- 
grapher, and look forward with interest to the 
concluding volumes of this work, which will 
contain still more interesting matter — the 
Peninsular campaigns, the Russian retreat, 
the rout of Waterloo. 



94 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



K0BE11T BRUCE.* 



A Freedome is a noble thing; 
Freedome makes man to have liking; 
Freedome all solace to men gives; 
He lives at ease that freely lives. 

Barbour's Bruce. 



. The discovery of the bones of Rodent 
Bruce, among the ruins of Dunfermline ab- 
bey, calls for some observations in a journal 
intended to record the most remarkable events, 
whether of a public or a domestic nature, 
which occur during the period to which it 
refers; and it will never, perhaps, be our 
good fortune to direct the attention of our 
readers to an event more interesting to the 
antiquary or the patriot of Scotland, than the 
discovery and reinterment of the remains of 
her greatest hero. 

It is satisfactory, in the first place, to know 
that no doubt can exist about the remains 
which were discovered being really the bones 
of Robert Bruce. Historians had recorded 
that he was interred " debito cum honore in 
medio Ecclesise de Dunfermline ;" but the 
ruin of the abbey at the time of the Reforma- 
tion, and the subsequent neglect of the monu- 
ments which it contained, had rendered it 
difficult to ascertain where this central spot 
really was. Attempts had been made to ex- 
plore among the ruins for the tomb ; but so 
entirely was the form of cathedral churches 
forgotten in this northern part of the island, 
that the researches were made in a totally 
different place from the centre of the edifice. 
At length, in digging the foundations of the 
new church, the workmen came to a tomb, 
arched over with masonry, and bearing the 
marks of more than usual care in its construc- 
tion. Curiosity being attracted by this cir- 
cumstance, it was suspected that it might 
contain the remains of the illustrious hero; 
and persons of more skill having examined 
the spot discovered that it stood precisely in the 
centre of the church, as its form was indicated 
by the existing ruins. The tomb having been 
opened in the presence of the Barons of 
Exxhequer, the discovery of the name of King 
Robert on an iron plate among the rubbish, 
and the cloth of gold in which the bones were 
shrouded, left no room to doubt that the long 
wished-for grave had at last been discovered ; 
while the appearance of the skeleton, in 
which the breast-bone was sawed asunder, 
afforded a still more interesting proof of its 
really being the remains of that illustrious 
hero, whose heart was committed to his faith- 
ful associate in arms, and thrown by him, on a 
pilgrimage to the Holy Land, amidst the ranks 
of the enemy, with the sublime expression, 
" Onwards, as thou wast wont, thou fearless 
heart." 

Such an event demands a temporary pause 
in the avocations and amusements of life. 
We feel called on to go back, in imagination, 

* Blackwood's Magazine, Dec. 1S1<). Written at 
the time of the discovery of the remains of Robert 
Bruce in the church of Dunfermline. 



to the distant and barbarous period when the 
independence of our country was secured by 
a valour and ability that has never since 
been equalled; and in returning from his- 
recent grave to take a nearer view of the 
difficulties which he had to encounter, and the 
beneficial effects which his unshaken patriot- 
ism has confirmed upon its people. — Had we 
lived in the period when his heroic achieve- 
ments were fresh in the public recollection, 
and. when the arms of England yet trembled 
at the name of Bannockburn, we would have 
dwelt with enthusiasm on his glorious ex- 
ploits. A nation's gratitude should not relax, 
when the lapse of five subsequent centuries 
has not produced a rival to his patriotism and 
valour ; and when this long period has served 
only to develope the blessings which they 
have conferred upon his country. 

Towards a due understanding, however, of 
the extraordinary merits of Robert Bruce, it 
is necessary to take a cursory view of the 
power with which he had to contend, and of 
the resources of that kingdom, which, at that 
critical juncture, providence committed to his 
arms. 

The power of England, against which it 
was his lot incessantly to struggle, was, per- 
haps, the most formidable which then existed 
in Europe. The native valour of her people, 
distinguished even under the weakest reign, 
was then led on and animated by a numerous 
and valiant feudal nobility. Thafc bold and 
romantic spirit of enterprise which led the 
Norman arms to the throne of England, and 
enabled Roger de Hauteville, with thirty fol- 
lowers, to win the crown of the two Sicilies, 
still animated the English nobles; and to this 
hereditary spirit was added the remembrance 
of the matchless glories which their arms had 
acquired in the wars of Palestine. The 
barons, who were arrayed against Robert 
Bruce, were the descendants of those iron 
warriors who combated for Christendom under 
the wall of Acre, and defeated the whole 
Saracen strength in the battle of Ascalon ; the 
banners that were unfurled for the conquest 
of Scotland, were those which had waved 
victorious over the arms of Saladin; and the 
sovereign who led them, bore the crown 
that had been worn by Richard in the Holy 
Wars, and wielded in his sword the terror of 
that mighty name, at which even the accumu- 
lated hosts of Asia were appalled. 

Nor were the resources of England less 
formidable for maintaining and nourishing 
the war. The prosperity which had grown 
up with the equal laws of our Saxon ances- 
tors, and which the tyranny of the early Nor- 
man kings had never completely extinguished, 
had revived and spread under the wise and 



ROBERT BRUCE. 



95 



beneficent reigns of Henry II. and Edward I. 
The legislative wisdom of the last monarch 
had given to the English law greater improve- 
ments than it had ever received in any subse- 
quent reigns, while his heroic valour had 
subdued the rebellious spirit of his barons, 
and trained their united strength to submis- 
sion to the throne. The acquisition of Wales 
had removed the only weak point of his wide 
dominion, and added a cruet and savage race 
to the already formidable mass of his armies. 
The navy of England already ruled the seas, 
and was prepared to carry ravage and desola- 
tion over the wide and defenceless Scottish 
coast: while a hundred thousand men, armed 
in the magnificent array of feudal war, and 
led on by the ambition of a feudal nobility, 
poured into a country which seemed destined 
only to be their prey. 

But most of all, in the ranks of this army, 
were found the intrepid Yeomanry of Eng- 
land ; that peculiar and valuable body of men 
which has in every age contributed as much 
to the stability of the English character, as 
the celebrity of die English arms, and which 
then composed those terrible archers, whose 
prowess rendered them so formidable to all 
the armies of Europe. These men, whose 
valour was warmed by the consciousness of 
personal freedom, and whose strength was 
nursed among the enclosed fields and green 
pastures of English liberty, conferred, till the 
discovery of fire-arms rendered personal ac- 
quirements of no avail, a matchless advan- 
tage on the English armies. The troops of 
no other nation could produce a body of men 
in the least comparable to them either in 
strength, discipline, or individual valour; and 
such was the dreadful efficacy with which 
they used their weapons, that not only did 
they mainly contribute to the subsequent tri- 
umphs of Cressy and Azincour, but at Poitiers 
and Hamildon Hill they alone gained the vic- 
tory, with hardly any assistance from the 
feudal tenantry. 

These troops were well known to the 
Scottish soldiers, and had established their 
superiority over them in many bloody battles, 
in which the utmost efforts of undisciplined 
valour had been found unavailing against 
their practised discipline and superior equip- 
ment. The very names of the barons who 
headed them were associated with an un- 
broken career of conquest and renown, and 
can hardly be read yet without a feeling of 
national exultation. 

Names that to fear were never known, 
Bold Norfolk's Earl de Brotherton, 
And Oxford's famed de Vere ; 
Ross, Montague, and Manly came, 
And Courtney's pride, and Percy's fame, 
Names known too well in Scotland's war 
At Falkirk, Methven, and Dunbar, 
Blazed broader yet in after years, 
At Cressy red, and fell Poitiers. 

Against this terrible force, before which, in 
the succeeding reign, the military power of 
France was compelled to bow, Bruce had to 
array the scanty troops of a barren land, and 
the divided forces of a turbulent nobility. 
Scotland was, in his time, fallen low indeed 
from that state of peace and prosperity in 



which she was found at the first invasion of 
Edward I., and on which so much light has 
been thrown by the industrious research of 
our times.* The disputed succession had 
sown the seeds of unextinguishable jealousies 
among the nobles ; the gold of England had 
corrupted many to betray their country's 
cause; an/?, tltc xatal ravages of English inva- 
sion naa desolated the whole plains from 
which resources for carrying on the war 
could be drawn. All the heroic valour, the 
devoted patriotism, and the personal prowess 
of Wallace, had been unable to stem the 
torrent of English invasion ; and, when he 
died, the whole nation seemed to sink under 
the load against which his unexampled forti- 
tude had long enabled it to struggle. These 
unhappy jealousies among the nobles, to 
which his downfall was owing, still continued, 
and almost rendered hopeless any attempt to 
combine their forces ; while the thinned popu- 
lation and ruined husbandry of the country 
seemed to prognosticate nothing but utter 
extirpation from a continuance of the war. 
Nor was the prospect less melancholy from a < 
consideration of the combats which had taken 
place. The short spear and light shield of 
the Scotch had been found utterly unavailing 
against the iron panoply and powerful horses 
of the English barons ; while the hardy and 
courageous mountaineers perished in . vain 
under the dreadful tempest of the English 
archery. 

What then must have been the courage of 
that youthful prince, who after having been 
driven for shelter to an island on the north of 
Ireland, could venture, with only forty fol- 
lowers, to raise the standard of independence 
in the west of Scotland, against the accumu- 
lated force of this mighty power? — what the 
resources of that understanding, which, though 
intimately acquainted, from personal service, 
with the tried superiority of the English arms, 
could foresee, in his barren and exhausted 
country, the means of combating them 1 — what 
the ability of that political conduct which 
could re-unite the jaring interests, and smother 
the deadly feuds, of the Scottish nobles 1 — and 
what the capacity of that noble warrior, who, 
in the words of the contemporary historian,f 
could "unite the prowess of the first knight to 
the conduct of the greatest general of his age," 
and was able, in the space of six years, to raise 
the Scottish arms from the lowest point of 
depression to such a pitch of glory, that even 
the redoubted archers and haughty chivalry 
of England fled at the sight of the Scottish 
banner'? t 

Nor was it only in the field that the great 
and patriotic conduct of Robert Bruce was dis- 
played. In the endeavour to restore the almost 
ruined fortunes of his country, and to heal the 
wounds which a war of unparalleled severity 
had brought unon its people, he exhibited the 
same wise and beneficent policy. Under his 
auspicious rule, husbandry revived, arts were 
encouraged, and the turbulent barons were 
awed into subjection. Scotland recovered, 
during his administration, in a great measure, 

* Chalmers's Caledonia, vol. i. fFroissart. 
t Walling, p. 10G. Mon. Malms, p. 152, 153. 



96 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



from the devastation that had preceeded it; 
and the peasants, forgetting the stern warrior 
in the beneficent monarch, long remembered 
his sway, under the name of the "good King 
Robert's reign." 

But the greatness of his character appeared 
most of all from the events that occurred after 
his death. When the capacity with which 
he and his worthy associates, Randolph and 
Douglas, had counterbalanced the superiority 
of the English arms, was withdrawn, the fabric 
which they had supported fell to the ground. 
In the very first battle which was fought after 
his death, at Hamildon Hill, a larger army 
than that which conquered at Bannockburn 
was overthrown by the archers of England, 
without a single knight couching his spear. 
Never, at any subsequent period, was Scotland 
able to withstand the more powerful arms of 
the English yeomanry. Thenceforward, her 
military history is little more than a melancholy 
catalogue of continued defeats, occasioned 
rather by treachery on the part of her nobles, 
or incapacity in her generals, than any defect 
' of valour in her soldiers ; and the independence 
of the monarchy was maintained rather by the 
terror which the name of Bruce and the re- 
membrance of Bannockburn had inspired, 
than by the achievements of any of the suc- 
cessors to his throne.* 

The merits of Robert Bruce, as a warrior, 
are very generally acknowledged; and the eyes 
of Scottish patriotism turn with the greater 
exultation to bis triumphs, from the contrast 
which their splendour affords to the barren 
and humiliating annals of the subsequent 
reigns. But the important consequences ,of 
nis victories are not sufficiently appreciated. 
While all admit the purity of the motives by 
which he was actuated, there are many who 
lament the consequences of his success, and 
perceive in it the source of those continued 
hostilities between England and Scotland 
which have brought such incalculable calami- 
ties upon both countries, and from which the 
latter has only within half a century begun to 
recover. Better would it have been, it is said 
for the prosperity of this country, if, like Wales, 
she had passed at once under the dominion of 
the English government, and received, five 
centuries ago, the present of that liberty which 
she so entirely lost during her struggles for 
national independence, and which nothing but 
her subsequent union with a free people has 
enabled her to obtain. 

There is something, we think, a priori, im- 
probable in this supposition, that, from the 
assertion of her independence under Robert 
Bruce, Scotland has received any injury. The 
instinct to maintain the national independence, 
and resist aggression from foreign powers, is 
so universally implanted among mankind, that 
it may well be doubted whether an obedience 
to its impulse is likely in any case to pro- 
duce injurious effects. In fact, subjugation 
by a foreign power is itself, in general, a greater 
calamity than any benefits with which it is 
accompanied can ever compensate; because, 
in the very act of receiving them by force, there 



♦ Henry's Britain, vol. vii. 



is implied an entire dereliction of all that is 
valuable in political blessings, — a security that 
they will remain permanent. There is no ex- 
ample, perhaps, to be found in the history of 
mankind, of political freedom being either 
effectually conferred by a sovereign in gift, or 
communicated by the force of foreign arms ; 
but as liberty is the greatest blessing which 
man can enjoy, so it seems to be the law of 
nature that it should be the reward of intre- 
pidity and energy alone; and that it is by the 
labour of his hands, and the sweat of his brow, 
that he is to earn his freedom as well as his 
subsistence. 

Least of all are such advantages to be an- 
ticipated from the conquest of a free people. 
i That the dominion of free states over con- 
quered countries' is always more tyrannical 
than that of any other form of government, 
has been observed ever since the birth of 
liberty in the Grecian states, by all who have 
been so unfortunate as to be subjected to their 
rule. If we except the Roman republic, whose 
wise and beneficent policy is so entirely at 
variance with every thing else which we ob- 
serve in human affairs, that we are almost dis- 
posed to impute it to a special interposition of 
divine providence, there is no free state in 
ancient or modern times, whose government 
towards the countries whom it subdued has 
not been of the most oppressive description. 
We are accustomed to speak of the maternal 
government of free governments, but towards 
their subject provinces, it is generally the 
cruel tyranny of the step-mother, who oppresses 
her acquired children to favour her own off- 
spring. 

Nor is it difficult to perceive the reason 
why a popular government is naturally in- 
clined, in the general case, to severity towards 
its dependencies. A single monarch looks to 
the revenue alone of the countries whom he 
has subdued, and as it necessarily rises with 
the prosperity which they enjoy, his obvious 
interest is to pursne the measures best calcu- 
lated to secure it. But in republics, or in those 
free governments where the popular voice ex- 
ercises a decided control, the leading men of 
the state themselves look to the property of 
the subject country as the means of their in- 
dividual exaltation. Confiscations according- 
ly are multiplied, with a view to gratify the 
people or nobles of the victorious country 
with grants of the confiscated lands. Hatred 
and animosity are thus engendered between 
the ruling government and thjeir subject 
provinces; and this, in its time, gives rise to 
new confiscations, by which the breach be- 
tween the higher and lower orders is rendered 
irreparable. Whoever is acquainted with the 
history of the dominion which the Athenian 
and Syracusan populace held over their subject 
cities ; with the government of Genoa, Venice, 
and Florence, in modern times ; or with the 
sanguinary rule which England exercised 
over Ireland during the three centuries which 
followed her subjugation, will know that this 
statement is not overcharged. 

On principle, therefore, and judging by the 
experience of past times, there is no room to 
doubt, that Bruce, in opposing the conquest of 



ROBERT BRUCE. 



97 



Scotland by the English arms, doing what the 
real interest of his country required ; and that 
how incalculable soever may be the blessings 
which she has since received by a union, on 
equal terms, with her southern neighbour, the 
result would have been very different had she 
entered into that government on the footing of 
involuntary subjugation. In fact, it is not diffi- 
cult to perceive what would have been the 
policy which England would have pursued to- 
wards this country, had she prevailed in the 
contest for the Scottish throne ; and it is by 
following out the consequences of such an 
event, and tracing its probable influence on 
the condition of our population at this day, 
that we can alone appreciate the immense obli- 
gations we owe to our forefathers, who fought 
and died on the field of Bannockburn. 

Had the English then prevailed in the war 
with Robert Bruce, and finally succeeded in 
establishing their long wished-for dominion in 
this country, it cannot be doubted, that their 
first measure would have been to dispossess a 
large portion of the nobles who had so obsti- 
nately maintained the war against them, and 
substitute their own barons in their room. The 
pretended rebellion of Scotland against the 
legitimate authority of Edward, would have 
furnished a plausible pretext for such a pro- 
ceeding, while policy would of course have 
suggested it as the most efficacious means, both 
of restraining the turbulent and hostile spirit 
of the natives, and of gratifying the great barons 
by whose force they had been subdued. In 
fact, many such confiscations and grants of 
the lands to English nobles actually took place, 
during the time that Edward I. maintained his 
authority within the Scottish territory. 

The consequences of such a measure are 
very obvious. The dispossessed proprietors 
would have nourished the most violent and 
inveterate animosity against their oppressors ; 
and the tenantry on their estates, attached by 
feudal and clanish affection to their ancient 
masters, would have joined in any scheme for 
their restoration. The seeds of continual dis- 
cord and hatred would thus have been sown 
between the lower orders and the existing 
proprietors of the soil. On the other hand, 
the great English barons, to whom the con- 
fiscated lands were assigned, would naturally 
prefer the society of their own country, and the 
security of their native castles, to the unpro- 
ductive soil and barbarous tribes on their 
northern estates. They would in consequence 
have relinquished these estates to factors or 
agents, and, without ever thinking of residing 
among a people by whom they were detested, 
have sought only to increase, by rigorous ex- 
actions, the revenue which they could derive 
from their labour. 

In progress of time, however, the natural 
fervour of the Scottish people, their hereditary 
animosities against England, the exertions of 
the dispossessedproprietors, and the oppression 
of the English authorities, would have occa- 
sioned a revolt in Scotland. They would na- 
turally have chosen for such an undertaking 
the moment when the English forces were en- 
gaged in the wars of France, and when the 
entire desertion of the nothern frontier pro- 
13 



mised successful rapine to their arms. In such 
circumstances, it is not to be doubted that they 
would have been unable to withstand the seeds 
of resistance to the English arms, which the 
French emissaries would have sedulously 
spread through the country. And if the au- 
thority of England was again re-established, 
new and more extensive confiscations would 
of course have followed ; the English nobles 
would have been gratified by grants of the most 
considerable estates on the north of the Tweed, 
and the bonds of military subjection would 
have been tightened on the unfortunate people 
who were subdued. 

The continuance of the wars between France 
and England, by presenting favourable op- 
portunities to the Scotch to revolt, combined 
with the temptation which the remoteness of 
their situation and the strength of their coun- 
try afforded, would have induced continual 
civil wars between the peasantry and their 
foreign masters, until the resources of the coun- 
try were entirely exhausted, and the people 
sunk in hopeless submission under the power 
that oppressed them. 

But in the progress of these wars, an evil 
of a far greater and more permanent descrip- 
tion would naturally arise, than either the loss 
of lives or the devastation of property which 
they occasioned. In the course of the pro- 
tracted contest, the landed property of the 

COUNTRY WOULD ENTIRELY HAVE CHANGED MAS- 
TERS ; and in place of being possessed by na- 
tives of the country permanently settled on 
their estates, and attached by habit and com- 
mon interest to the labourers of the ground, 
it would have come into the hands of foreign 
noblemen, forced upon the country by military 
power, hated by the natives, residing always 
on their English estates, and regarding the 
people of Scotland as barbarians, whom it was 
alike impolitic to approach, and necessary to 
curb by despotic power. 

But while such would be the feelings and 
policy of the English proprietors, the stewards 
whom they appointed to manage their Scotch 
estates, at a distance from home, and surround- 
ed by a fierce and hostile population, would 
have felt the necessity of some assistance, to 
enable them to maintain their authority, or 
turn to any account the estates that were com- 
mitted to their care. Unable to procure mili- 
tary assis-tance, to enforce the submission of 
every district, or collect the rents of every pro- 
perty, they would, of necessity, have looked to 
some method of conciliating the people of the 
country ; and such a method would naturally 
suggest itself in the attachment wnich the peo- 
ple bore to the families of original landlords, and 
the consequent means which they possessed 
of swaying their refractory dispositions. These 
unhappy men, on the other hand, despairing 
of the recovery of their whole estates, would 
be glad of an opportunity of regaining any part 
of them, and eagerly embrace any proposal by 
which such a compromise might be effected. 
The sense of mutal dependence, in short, would 
have led to an arrangement, by which the es- 
tates of the English nobles were to be subset to 
the Scottish proprietors for a fixed yearly rent, and 
they would take upon themselves the task to 



98 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



which they alone were competent, of recovering 
the rents from the actual cultivators of the soil. 

As the numbers of the people increased, 
however, and the value of the immense farms 
which had been thus granted to the descendants 
of their original proprietors was enhanced, the 
task of collecting rents over so extensive a 
district would have become too great for any 
individual, and the increased wealth which he 
had acquired from the growth of his tenantry, 
would have led him to dislike the personal la- 
bour with which it would be attended. These 
great tenants, in consequence, would have sub- 
set their vast possessions to an inferior set of 
occupiers, who might each superintend the 
collection of the rents within his own farm, 
and have an opportunity of acquiring a per- 
sonal acquaintance with the labourers by whom 
it was to be cultivated. As the number of the 
people increased, the same process would be 
repeated by the different tenants on their re- 
spective farms; and thus there would have 
sprung up universally in Scotland a class of 
middle men between the proprietor and the ac- 
tual cultivator of the soil. 

While these changes went on, the condition 
of the people, oppressed by a series of suc- 
cessive masters, each of whom required to live 
by their labour, and wholl)' - debarred from ob- 
taining any legal redress for their grievances, 
would have gradually sunk. Struggling with 
a barren soil, and a host of insatiable oppres- 
sors, they could never have acquired any ideas 
of comfort, or indulged in any hopes of rising 
in the world. They would, in consequence, 
have adopted that species of food which pro- 
mised to afford the greatest nourishment for a 
family from the smallest space of ground ; and 
from the universality of this cause, the Potato 
would have become the staple food of the 
country. 

The landed proprietors, on the other hand, 
who are the natural protectors, and ought al- 
ways to be the best encouragers of the people 
on their estates, would have shrunk from the 
idea of leaving their English possessions, 
where they were surrounded by an affectionate 
and comfortable tenantry, where riches and 
plenty sprung from the natural fertility of the 
soil, and where power and security were de- 
rived from their equal law, to settle in a north- 
ern climate, amongst a people by whom they 
were abhorred, and where law was unable to 
restrain the licentiousness, or reform the bar- 
barity of the inhabitants. — They would in con- 
sequence have universally become ahsextf.e 
proprietors ; and not only denied to the Scot- 
tish people the incalculable advantages of a 
resident body of landed gentlemen ; but, by 
• their influence in Parliament, and their animo- 
sity towards their northern tenantry, prevented 
any legislative measure being pursued for 
their relief. 

In such circumstances, it seems hardly con- 
ceivable that arts or manufactures should have 
made any progress in this country. But, if in 
spite of the obstacles which the unfavourable 
climate, and unhappy political circumstances 
of the country presented, manufactures should 
have begun to spring up amongst us, they 
"would speedily have been checked by the com- 



mercial jealousy of their more powerful south- 
ern rivals. Bills would have been brought 
into parliament, as was actually done in re- 
gard to a neighbouring island, proceeding 
on the preamble, " that it is expedient that 
the Scottish manufactures should be discou- 
raged ;" and the prohibition of sending their 
goods into the richer market of England, 
whither the whole wealth of the country were 
already drawn, would have annihilated the in- 
fant efforts of manufacturing industry. 

Nor would the Reformation, which, as mat- 
ters stand, has been of such essential service 
to this country, have been, on the hypothesis 
which we are pursuing, a lesser source of suf- 
fering, or a greater bar to the improvement 
of the people. From being embraced by their 
English landlords, the Reformed Religion 
would have been hateful to the peasants of 
Scotland ; the Catholic priests would have 
sought refuge among them, from the persecu- 
tion to which they were exposed in their native 
seats ; and both would have been strengthened 
in their hatred to those persons to whom their 
common misfortune was owing. Religious 
hatred would thus have combined with all the 
previous circumstances of irritation, to in- 
crease the rancour between the proprietors 
of the soil, and the labouring classes in this 
country ; and from the circumstance of the 
latter adhering to the proscribed religion, they 
would have been rendered yet more incapable 
of procuring a redress for their grievances in 
a legislative form. 

Had the English, therefore, succeeded in 
subduing Scotland in the time of Robert 
Bruce, and in maintaining their -authority 
from that period, we think it not going too far 
to assert, that the people of this country would 
have been now in an unhappy and distracted 
condition : that religious discussion and civil 
rancour would have mutually exasperated the 
higher and lower orders against each other ; 
that the landed proprietors would have been 
permanently settled in the victorious country ; 
that everywhere a class of middlemen would 
have been established to grind and ruin the 
labours of the poor ; that manufactures would 
have been scant) r , and the countiy covered 
with a numerous and indigent population, 
idle in their habits, ignorant in their idea,*, 
ferocious in their manners, professing a reli* 
gion which held them in bondage, and cling- 
ing to prejudices from which their ruin must 
ensue. 

Is it said, that this is mere conjecture, and 
that nothing in the history of English govern- 
ment warrants us in concluding, that such 
would have been the consequence of the esta- 
blishment of their dominion in this country 1 
Alas ! it is not conjecture. The history of Ire- 
land affords too melancholy a confirmation 
of the truth of the positions which we have 
advanced, and of the reality of the deduction 
which we have pursued. In that deduction 
we have not reasoned on hypothesis or con- 
jecture. Every step which we have hinted at, 
has there been taken ■ every consequence which 
we have suggested, has there ensued. Those 
acquainted with the history of that unhappy 
country, or who have studied its present con- 



ROBERT BRUCE. 



89 



dition, will recognise in the conjectural history 
which we have sketched, of what would have 
followed the annexation of this country to 
England in the time of Edward II., the real 
history of what has followed its subjugation 
in the time of Henry II., and perceive in the 
causes which we have pointed out, as what 
would have operated upon our people, the 
real causes of the misery and wretchedness in 
which its population is involved. 

Nor is the example of the peaceful submis- 
sion of Wales to the dominion of England, 
any authority against this view of the subject. 
Wales is so inconsiderable in comparison to 
England, it comes so completely in contact 
with its richest provinces, and is so enveloped 
by its power, that when once subdued, all 
thought of resistance or revolt became hope- 
less. That mountainous region, therefore, fell 
as quietly and as completely into the arms of 
England, as if it had been one of the Hept- 
archy, which in process of time was incor- 
porated with the English monarchy. Very 
different is the situation of Scotland, where 
the comparative size of the country, the fervid 
spirit of the inhabitants, the remoteness of its 
situation, and the strength of its mountains, 
continually must have suggested the hope of 
successful revolt, and as necessarily occa- 
sioned the calamitous consequences which we 
have detailed. The rebellion of Owen Glen- 
dower is sufficient to convince us, that nothing 
but the utter insignificance of Wales, compared 
to England, prevented the continual revolt of 
the Welsh people, and the consequent intro- 
duction of all those horrors which have fol- 
lowed the establishment of English dominion 
-among the inhabitants of Ireland. 

Do Ave then rejoice in the prosperity of our 
country ] Do we exult at the celebrity which 
it has acquired in arts and in arms ] Do we 
duly estimate the blessings which it has long 
enjoyed from equal law and personal freedom? 
— Do Ave feel grateful for the intelligence, the 
virtue, and the frugality of our peasantry, and 
acknowledge, Avith thankfulness, the practical 
beneficence and energetic spirit of our landed 
proprietors 1 Let us turn to the grave of Ro- 
bert Bruce, aVid feel as Ave ought the inex- 
pressible gratitude due to him as the remote 
author of all these blessings. But for his bold 
and unconquerable spirit, Scotland might have 
shared Avith Ireland the severity of English 
conquest; and, instead of exulting now in the 
prosperity of our country, the energy of our 
peasantry, and the patriotic spirit of our resi- 
dent landed proprietors, Ave might have been 
deploring Avith her an absent nobility, an 
oppressive tenantry, a bigotted and ruined 
people. 



It was therefore, in truth, a memorable day 
for this country Avhen the remains of this 
great prince Avere rediscovered amidst the 
ruins in which they had so long been hid; 
Avhen the arms which sleAv Henry de Bohun 
Avere reinterred in the land Avhich they had 
saA r ed from slavery ; and the head Avhich had 
beheld the triumph of Bannockburn Avas con- 
signed to the dust, after five centuries of grate- 
ful remembrance and experienced obligation. 
It is by thus appreciating the merits of depart- 
ed Avorth, that similar virtues in future are to 
be called forth ; and by duly feeling the conse- 
quences of heroic resistance in time past, that 
the spirit is to be excited by Avhich the future 
fortunes of the state are to be maintained. 

In these observations we have no intention, 
as truly Ave have no desire, to depreciate the 
incalculable blessings Avhich this country has 
derived from her union AA'ith England. We 
feel, as strongly as any can do, the immense 
advantage which this measure brought to the 
wealth, the industr}^, and the spirit of Scotland. 
We are proud to acknoAvledge, that it is to the 
efforts of English patriotism that Ave owe the 
establishment of liberty in our civil code ; and 
to the influence of English example, the diffu- 
sion of a free spirit among our people. But it 
is just because Ave are duly impressed with 
these feelings that we recur, with such grate- 
ful pride, to the patriotic resistance of Robert 
Bruce ; it is because Ave feel that Ave should 
be unworthy of sharing in English liberty, un- 
less we had struggled for our oavii indepen- 
dence, and incapable of participating in its 
benefits, unless Ave had shown that Ave were 
capable of acquiring it. Nor are Ave ashamed 
to own, that it is the spirit which English free- 
dom has aAvakened that first enabled us fully 
to appreciate the importance of the efforts 
which our ancestors made in resisting their 
dominion ; and that but for the Union on equal 
terms with that power, we would have been 
ignorant of the debt Avhich Ave owed to those 
Avho saved us from its subjugation. In our 
national fondness, therefore, for the memory 
of Robert Bruce, the English should perceive 
the growth of those principles from Avhich 
their OAvn unequalled greatness has arisen; 
nor should they envy the glory of the field of 
Bannockburn, when we appeal to it as our 
best title to be quartered in their arms. 

Yet mourn not, land of Fame, 
Though ne'er the leopards on thy shield 
Retreated from so sad a field 

Since Norman William came. 
Oft may thine annals justly boast, 
Of battles there by Scotland lost, 

Grudge not her victory; 
When for her freeborn rights she strove, 
Rights dear to all who freedom love, 

To none so dear as thee. 



100 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



PARIS Itf 1814. 



With whatever sentiments a stranger may 
enter Paris, his feelings must be the same 
with regard to the monuments of ancient mag- 
nificence, or of modern taste, which it contains. 
All that the vanity or patriotism of a long 
series of sovereigns could effect for the em- 
bellishment of the capital in which they 
resided ; all that the conquests of an ambitious 
and unprincipled army could accumulate from 
the spoils of the nations whom they had sub- 
dued, are there presented to the eye of the 
stranger with a profusion which obliterates 
every former prejudice, and stifles the feelings 
of national emulation in exultation at the 
greatness of human genius. 

The ordinary buildings of Paris, as every 
traveller has observed, and as all the world 
knows, are in general mean and uncomfort- 
able. The height and gloomy aspect of the 
nouses ; the narrowness of the streets, and the 
want of pavement for foot passengers, convey 
an idea of antiquity, which ill accords with 
what the imagination had anticipated of the 
modern capital of the French empire. This 
circumstance renders the admiration of the 
spectator greater when he first comes in sight 
of its public edifices : when he is conducted to 
the Place Louis Quinze or the Pont Neuf, 
from whence he has a general view of the 
principal buildings of this celebrated capital. 
"With the single exception of the view of Lon- 
don from the terrace of the Adelphi, there is 
no point in Britain where the effect of archi- 
tectural design is so great as in the situations 
which have now been mentioned. The view 
from the former of these, combines many of 
the most striking objects which Paris has to 
present. To the east, the long front of the 
Tuileries rises over the dark mass of foliage 
which cover its gardens ; to the south, the 
picturesque aspect of the town is broken by 
the varied objects which the river presents, 
and the fine perspective of the Bridge of Peace, 
terminating in the noble front of the palace of 
the Legislative Body ; to the west, the long 
avenues of the Elysian Fields are closed by 
the pillars of a triumphal arch which Napo- 
leon had commenced ; while, to the north, the 
beautiful facade of the Place itself, leaves the 
spectator only room to discover at a greater 
distance the foundation of the Temple of 
Glory, which he had commenced, and in the 
execution of which he was interrupted by 
those ambitious enterprises to which his sub- 
sequent downfall was owing.-)- To a painter's 



* Written in May and June, 1814, during a residence 
at Taris, when the allied armies occupied the city, and 
the great museum of the Louvre was untouched ; and 
published in ''Travels in France in 1814 — 15," which 
issued from the press in Edinburgh in 1815, to the 
first volume of which the author contributed a few 
chapters. 

f Since completed, and forming the beautiful peristyle 
of the Madeleine. 



eye, the effect of the whole scene is increased 
by the rich and varied fore-ground, which 
everywhere presents itself, composed of the 
shrubs with which the skirts of the square are 
adorned, and the lofty poplars which rise 
amidst the splendour of architectural beauty : 
while recent events give a greater interest to 
the spot from which this beauty is surveyed, 
by the remembrance, that it was here that 
Louis XVI. fell a martyr to the revolutionary 
principles, and that it was here that the Em- 
peror Alexander and the other princes of 
Europe took their station when their armies 
passed in triumph through the walls of Paris. 

The view from the Pont Neuf, though not 
striking upon the whole, embraces objects of 
greater individual beauty. The gay and ani- 
mated quays of the city covered with foot pas- 
sengers, and, with all the varied exhibitions of 
industrious occupation, which, from the warm- 
ness of the climate, are carried on in the open 
air ; — the long and splendid front of the Louvre, 
and the Tuileries ; — the bold projections of 
the Palais des Arts, of the Hotel de la Monnaie, 
and other public buildings on the opposite side 
of the river; — the beautiful perspective of the 
bridges, adorned by the magnificent colonnade 
which fronts the Palace of the Legislative 
Body ; — and the lofty picturesque buildings of 
the centre of Paris, surrounding the more ele- 
vated towers of Notre Dame, form a scene, 
which, though less perfect, is more striking, 
and more characteristic than the scene from 
the centre of the Place Louis Quinze. It con- 
veys at once a general idea of the French 
capital ; of that mixture of poverty and splen- 
dour by which it is so remarkably distinguish- 
ed; of that grandeur of national power, and 
that degradation of individual importance 
which marked the ancient dynasty of the 
French nation. It marks too, in an historical 
view, the changes of public feeling which the 
people of this country have undergone, from 
the distant period when the towers of Notre 
Dame rose amidst the austerity of Gothic taste, 
and were loaded with the riches of Catholic 
superstition, to that boasted sera, when the 
loyalty of the French people exhausted the 
wealth and the genius of the country, to deco- 
rate with classic taste the residence of their 
sovereigns ; and lastly, to those later days, 
when the names of religion and of loyalty have 
alike been forgotten ; when the national exulta- 
tion reposed only on the trophies of military 
greatness, and the iron yoke of imperial power 
was forgotten in the monuments which record 
the deeds of imperial glory. 

To the general observation on the inferiority 
of the common buildings in Paris, there are 
some remarkable exceptions. The Boulevards, 
which arc the remains of the ancient ramparts 
which surrounded the city at a former period, 
are, in general, beautiful, both from the circu- 



PARIS IN 1814. 



101 



lar form in which they are built, which pre- [ 
vents the view from being ever too extensive j 
for the objects which it contains, and presents 
them in the most picturesque aspect; from the l 
breadth which the}- everywhere preserve, and i 
which affords room for the spectator to observe j 
the magnificence of the detached palaces with 
which they abound ; and from the rows of trees j 
with which they are shaded, and which com- ! 
bine singularly well with the irregular cha- J 
racter of the building which they generally 
present. In the skirts of the town, and more i 
especially in the Fauxbourg St. Germain, the j 
beauty of the streets is greatly increased by | 
the detached hotels or villas, surrounded by ! 
gardens, which are everywhere to be met with, I 
in which the lilac, the laburnum, the Bois de ; 
Judee, and the acacia, grow in the most luxu- 
riant manner, and on the green foliage of j 
which, the eye reposes with singular delight, ' 
amidst the bright and dazzling whiteness of j 
the stone with which they are surrounded. 

The Hotel des Invalides, the Chelsea Hospital ; 
of France, is one of the objects on which the 
Parisians principally pride themselves, and to 
which a stranger is conducted immediately 
after his arrival in that capital. The institu- 
tion itself appears to be well conducted, and 
to give general satisfaction to the wounded 
men, who have there found an asylum from 
the miseries of war. These men live in habits 
of perfect harmony among each other; a state 
of things widely different from that of our 
veterans in Greenwich Hospital, and which is 
probably chiefly owing to the cheerfulness and 
equanimity of temper which form the best 
feature in the French character. There is 
something in the style of the architecture of 
this building, which accords well with the 
object to which it is devoted. The front is 
distinguished by a simple manly portico, and a 
dome of the finest proportion rises above its 
centre, which is visible from all parts of the 
city. This dome was gilded by order of Bona- 
parte : and however much a fastidious taste 
may regret the addition, it certainly gave an 
air of splendour to the whole, which was in 
perfect unison with the feelings of exultation 
which the sight of this monument of military 
glory was then fitted to awaken among the 
French people. The exterior of this edifice 
was formerly surrounded by cannon captured 
by the armies of France at different periods: 
and ten thousand standards, the trophies of 
victory during the wars of two centuries, 
waved under its splendid dome, and enveloped 
the sword of Frederic the Great, which hung 
from the centre, until the 31st of March, 1814, 
when they were all burnt by order of Maria 
Lonisa, to prevent their falling into the vic- 
torious hands of the allied powers. 

If the character of the architecture of the 
Hotel des Invalides accords well with the 
object to which that building is destined; the 
character of the Louvre is not less in unison 
with the spirit of the fine arts, to which it is 
consecrated. It is impossible for language to 
convey any adequate idea of the impression 
which this exquisite building awakens in the 
mind of a stranger. The beautiful proportions, 
and the fine symmetry of the great facade, give 



an air of simplicity to the distant view of this 
edifice, which is not diminished, on nearer ap- 
proach, by the unrivalled beauty of its orna- 
ments and detail; but when you cross the 
threshold" of the portico, and pass under its 
noble archway into the inner court, all consi- 
derations are absorbed in the throb of admira- 
tion, which is excited by the sudden display of 
all that is lovely and harmonious in Grecian 
architecture. You find yourself in the midst 
of the noblest and yet chastest display of archi- 
tectural beauty, where every ornament pos- 
sesses the character by Which the whole is 
distinguished, and where the whole possesses 
the grace and elegance which every ornament 
presents : — You find yourself on the spot, 
where all the monuments of ancient art are 
deposited — where the greatest exertions of 
mortal genius are preserved — and where a 
palace has at last been raised worth}'- of being 
the depository of the collected genius of the 
human race. — It bears a higher character than 
that of being the residence of imperial power ; 
it seems destined to loftier purposes than to 
be the abode of earthly greatness ; and the only 
forms by which its halls would not be degraded, 
are those models of ideal perfection which the 
genius of ancient Greece created to exalt the 
character of a heathen world. 

Placed in a more elevated spot, and destined 
to a still higher object, the 'Pantheon bears in 
its front the traces of the noble purpose for 
which it was intended. — It was intended to 
be the cemetery of all the great men who 
had deserved well of their country; and it 
bears the inscription, above its entrance, Jinx 
grands Ames La Patric rcconnousantc. The 
character of its architecture is' well adapted to 
the impression it is intended to convey, and 
suits the simplicity of the noble inscription 
which its portico presents. Its situation has 
been selected with singular taste, to aid the 
effect which was thus intended. It is placed 
at the top of an eminence, which shelves in a 
declivity on every side ; and the immediate 
approach is by an immense flight of steps, 
which form the base of the building, and in- 
crease the effect which its magnitude produces. 
Over the entrance rises a portico of lofty pil- 
lars, finely proportioned, supporting a magni- 
ficent entablature of the Corinthian order; 
and the whole terminates in a dome of vast 
dimensions, forming the highest object in the 
whole city. The impression which every one 
must feel in crossing its threshold, is that of 
religious awe; the individual is lost in the great- 
ness of the objects with which he is surrounded, 
and he dreads to enter what seems the abode 
of a greater power, and to have been framed 
for the purposes of more elevated worship. 
The Louvre might have been fitted for the gay 
scenes of ancient sacrifice ; it suits the brilliant 
conceptions of heathen mythology; and seems 
the fit abode of those ideal forms, in which the 
imagination of ancient times imbodied their 
conceptions of divine perfection ; but the Pan- 
theon is adapted for a holier worship, and 
accords with the character of a purer belief; 
and the vastness and solitude of its untrodden 
chambers awaken those feelings of human 
weakness, and that sentiment of human im- 
i 2 



102 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



mortality which befit the temple of a spiritual 
faith. 

The spectator is led, by the sight of this 
great monument of sacred architecture in the 
Grecian style, to compare it with the Gothic 
churches of France, and. in particular, with 
the Cathedral of Beauvais, the interior of 
which is finished with greater delicacy, and in 
finer proportions, than any other edifice of a 
similar kind in that country. The impression 
which the inimitable choir of Beauvais pro- 
duces is widely different from that which we 
felt on entering the lofty dome of the Pantheon 
at Paris. The light pinnacles, the fretted roof, 
the aspiring form of the Gothic edifice, seemed 
to have been framed by the hands of aerial 
beings ; and produced, even from a distance, 
that impression of grace and airiness which it 
was the peculiar object of this species of 
Gothic architecture to excite. On passing the 
high archway which covers the western door. 
and entering the immense aisles of the Cathe- 
dral, the sanctity of the place produces a deeper 
impression, and the grandeur of the forms 
awakens profounder feelings. The light of 
day is excluded, the rays of the sun come mel- 
lowed through the splendid colours with which 
the windows are stained, and cast a religious 
light over the marble pavement which covers 
the floor; while the eye reposes on the har- 
monious forms of "the lancet windows, or is 
bewildered in the profusion of ornament with 
which the roof is adorned, or is lost in the 
deep perspective of its aisles. The impres- 
sion which the whole produces, is that of reli- 
gious emotion, singularly suited to the genius 
of Christianity ; it is seen in that obscure light 
which fits the solemnity of religious duty, and 
awakens those feelings of intense delight, 
which prepare the mind for the high strain of 
religious praise. But it is not the deep feeling 
of humility and weakness which is produced 
by the dark chambers and massy pillars of the 
Pantheon at Paris ; it is not in the mausoleum 
of the dead that you seem to wander, nor on 
the thoughts of the great that have gone before 
you, that the mind revolves ; it is in the scene 
of thanksgiving that your admiration is fixed; 
it is with the emblems of hope that your devo- 
tion is awakened, and with the enthusiasm of 
gratitude that the mind is filled. Beneath the 
gloomy roof of the Grecian temple, the spirit 
is concentrated within itself; it seeks the re- 
pose which solitude affords, and meditates on 
the fate of the immortal soul ; but it loves to 
follow the multitude into the Gothic cathedral, 
to join in the song of grateful praise which 
peals through its lengthened aisles, and to 
share in the enthusiasm which belongs to the 
exercise of common devotion. 

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is the only 
Gothic building of note in Paris, and it is by 
no means equal to the expectations that are 
naturally formed of it. The style of its archi- 
tecture is not that of the finest Gothic ; it has 
neither the exquisite lightness of ornament 
which distinguish the summit of Gloucester 
Cathedral, nor the fine lancet windows which 
give so unrivalled a beauty to the interior of 
Beauvais, nor the richness of roof which 
.covers the tombs of Westminster Abbey. Its 



character is that of massy greatness ; its orna 
ments are rich rather than elegant, and its in- 
terior striking, more from its immense size 
than the beauty of the proportion in which it is 
formed. In spite of all these circumstances, 
however, the Cathedral of Notre Dame pro- 
duces a deep impression on the mind of the 
beholder: its towers rise to a stupendous 
height above all the buildings which surround 
them ; while the stone of every other edifice 
is of a tight colour, they alone are black with 
the smoke of centuries; and exhibit a venera- 
ble aspect of ancient greatness in the midst of 
the brilliancy of modern decoration with which 
the city is filled. Even the crowd of ornaments 
with which they are loaded, and the heavy 
proportion in which they are built, are forgot- 
ten in the effect which their magnitude pro- 
duces; they suit the gloomy character of the 
building they adorn, and accord with the ex- 
pression of antiquated power by which its 
aged forms are now distinguished. 

To those who have been accustomed to the 
form of worship which is established in Pro- 
testant countries, there is nothing so striking in 
the Catholic churches as the complete oblivion, 
of rank, or any of the distinctions of estab- 
lished society which there universally prevails. 
There are no divisions of seats, nor any places 
fixed for any particular classes of society. 
All, of whatever rank or station, kneel alike 
upon the marble pavement; and the whole 
extent of the church is open for the devotion 
of all classes of the people. You frequently 
see the poorest citizens with their children 
kneeling on the stone, close to those of the 
highest rank, or the most extensive fortunes. 
This custom may appear painful to those who 
have been habituated to the forms of devotion 
in the English churches ; but it produces an 
impression on the mind of the spectator which 
nothing in our service is capable of effecting. 
To see the individual form lost in the im- 
mensity of the objects with which he is sur- 
rounded ; to see all ranks and ages blended in 
the exercise of common devotion ; to see all 
distinction forgotten in the sense of common 
infirmity, suits the spirit of that religion which 
was addressed to the poor as well as to the 
rich, and fits the presence of that being before 
whom all ranks are equal. 

Nor is it without a good effect upon the feel- 
ings of mankind, that this custom has formed 
a part of the Catholic service. Amidst that 
degradation of the great body of the people, 
which marks the greater part of the Catholic 
countries — amidst the insolence of aristocratic 
power, which the doctrines of the Catholic 
faith are so well suited to support, it is fitting 
there should be some occasions on which the 
distinctions of the world should be forgotten ; 
some moments in which the rich as well as 
the poor should be humbled before a greater 
power — in which they should be reminded of 
the common faith in which they have been 
baptized, of the common duties to which they 
are called, and the common hopes which they 
have been permitted to form. 

High Mass was performed, in Notre Dame, 
with all the pomp of the Catholic service, for 
the souls of Louis XVI., Marie Antoinette and 



PARIS IN 1814. 



103 



the Dauphin, on May 9, 1814, soon after the 
king's arrival in Paris. The cathedral was 
hung with black in every part; the brilliancy 
of day wholly excluded, and it was lighted 
only by double rows of wax tapers, which 
burned round the coffins, placed in the centre 
of the choir. It was crowded to excess in every 
part; all the marshals, peers, and dignitaries 
of France were stationed with the royal 
family near the centre of the cathedral, and 
all the principal officers of the allied armies 
attended at the celebration of the service. 
The king was present, though, without being 
perceived by the vast assembly by whom he 
was surrounded; and the Duchess d'Angou- 
* leme exhibited, in this melancholy duty, that 
mixture of firmness and sensibility by which 
her character has always been distinguished. 
It was said, that there were several persons 
present at this solemn service who had voted 
for the death of the king ; and many of those 
assembled must doubtless have been con- 
scious, that they had been instrumental in the 
death of those for whose souls this solemn 
service was now- performing. The greater 
part, however, exhibited the symptoms of ge- 
nuine sorrow, and seemed to participate in 
the solemnity with unfeigned devotion. The 
Catholic worship was here displayed in its 
utmost splendour ; all the highest prelates of 
France were assembled to give dignity to the 
spectacle ; and all that art could devise was 
exhausted to render the scene impressive in 
the eyes of the people. To those, however, 
who had been habituated to the simplicity 
of the English form, the variety of unmean- 
ing ceremony, the endless gestures and un- 
ceasing bows of the clergy who officiated, 
destroyed the impression which the solemnity 
of the service would otherwise have produced. 
But though the service itself appeared ridi- 
culous, the effect of the whole scene was 
sublime in the greatest degree. The black 
tapestry hung in heavy folds round the sides 
of the cathedral, and magnified the impres- 
sion which its vastness produced. The tapers 
which surrounded the coffins threw a red and 
gloomy light over the innumerable multitude 
which thronged the floor; their receding rays 
faintly illuminated the further recesses, or 
strained to pierce the obscure gloom in which 
the summits of the pillars were lost; while 
the sacred music pealed through the distant 
aisles, and deepened the effect of the thousands 
of voices which joined in the strains of re- 
pentant prayer. 

Among the exhibitions of art to which a 
stranger is conducted immediately after his 
arrival in the French metropolis, there is 
none which is more characteristic of the dis- 
position of the people than the Musee dcs Monv- 
mcns Franqois, situated in the Rue des Petits 
Augustins. This is a collection of all the 
finest sepulchral monuments from different 
parts of France, particularly from the Cathe- 
dral of St. Denis, where the cemetery of the 
royal family had, from time immemorial, 
been placed. It is said by the French, that 
the collection of these monuments into one 
museum was the only means of preserving 
them from the fury of the people during the 



Revolution ; and certainly nothing but abso- 
lute necessity could have justified the bar- 
barous idea of bringing them from the graves 
they were intended to adorn, to one spot, 
where all associations connected with them 
are destroyed. It is not the mere survey of 
the monuments of the dead that is interesting, 
— not the examination of the specimens of art 
by which they may be adorned ; — it is the 
remembrance of the deeds which they are 
intended to record, — of the virtues they are 
destined to perpetuate, — of the pious gratitude 
of which they are now the only testimony — 
above all, of the dust they actually cover. 
They remind us of the great men who formerly 
filled the theatre of the world, — they carry us 
back to an age which, by a very natural illu- 
sion, we conceive to have been both wiser 
and happier than our own, and present the 
record of human greatness in that pleas- 
ing distance when the great features of cha- 
racter alone are remembered, when time has 
drawn its veil over the weaknesses of mor- 
tality, and its virtues are sanctified by the 
hand of death. It is a feeling fitted to elevate 
the soul ; to mingle the thoughts of death 
with the recollection of the virtues by which 
life had been dignified, and renovate in every 
heart those high hopes of religion which 
spring from the grave of former virtue. 

All this delightful, this purifying illusion, is 
destroyed by the way in which the monuments 
are collected in the museum at Paris. They 
are there brought together from all parts of 
France ; severed from the ashes of the dead 
they were intended to cover; and arranged in 
systematic order to illustrate the history of the 
art whose progress they unfold. The tombs 
of all the kings of France, of all the generals 
by whom its glory has been extended, of the 
statesmen by whom its power, and the writers 
by whom its fame has been established, are 
crowded together in one collection, and heaped 
upon each other, without any other connection 
than that of the time in which they were origi- 
nally raised. The museum accordingly ex- 
hibits, in the most striking manner, the power 
of arrangement and classification which the 
French possess; it is valuable, as containing 
fine models of the greatest men which France 
has produced; and exhibits a curious speci- 
men of the progress of art, from its first 
commencement, to the .period of its greatest 
perfection ; but it has wholly lost that deep 
and peculiar interest which belongs to the 
monuments of the dead in their original 
situation. 

Adjoining to the museum, is a garden 
planted with trees, in which many of the 
finest monuments are placed-; but in which 
the depravity of the French taste appears in 
the most striking manner. It is surrounded 
with high houses, and darkened by the shade 
of lofty buildings: yet in this gloomy situa- 
tion, they have placed the tomb of Fenelon, 
and the united monument of Abelard and 
Eloise: profaning thus, by the barbarous 
affectation of artificial taste, and the still more 
shocking imitation of ancient superstition, the 
remains of those whose names are enshrined 
in ever)' - heart which can feel the beauty of 



104 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



moral excellence, or share in the sympathy 
with youthful sorrow. 

How different are the feelings with which 
an Englishman surveys the untouched monu- 
ments of English greatness! — and treads the 
floor of that venerable building which shrouds 
the remains of ail who have dignified their 
native land — in which her patriots, her poets, 
and her philosophers "sleep with her kings, 
and dignity the scene," which the rage of 
popular fury has never dared to profane, and 
the hand of victorious power has never been 
able to violate ; where the ashes of the im- 
mortal dead still lie in undisturbed repose, 
under that splendid roof which covered the 
tombs of its earliest kings, and witnessed, 
from its first dawn, the infant glory of the 
English people. — Nor could the remembrance 
of these national monuments ever excite in 
the mind of a native of France, the same 
feeling of heroic devotion which inspired the 
sublime expression of Nelson, as he boarded 
the Spanish Admiral's ship at St. Vincent's — 
" Westminster Abbey or victory !" 

Though the streets in Paris have an aged 
and uncomfortable appearance, the form of 
the houses is such, as, at a distance, to present 
a picturesque aspect. Their height, their 
sharp and irregular tops, the vast variety of 
forms which they assume when seen from 
different quarters, all combine to render a dis- 
tant view of them more striking than the long 
rows of uniform houses of which London is 
composed. The domes and steeples of Paris, 
however, are greatly inferior, both in number 
and magnificence, to those of the English 
capital. 

The gardens of the Tuileries and the 
Luxembourg, of which the Parisians think so 
highly, and which are constantly filled with all 
ranks of citizens, are laid out with a singular- 
ity of taste, of which, in this country, we can 
scarcely form any conception. The straight 
walks — the dipt trees — the marble fountains 
are fast wearing out in all parts of England; 
they are to be met with only round the man- 
sions of ancient families, and, even there are 
kept rather from the influence of ancient 
prejudice, or from the affection to hereditary 
fo.rms, than from their coincidence with the 
present taste of the English people. They 
are seldom, accordingly, disagreeable, with us, 
to the eye of the most cultivated taste; their 
singularity forms a pleasing variety to the 
continued succession of lawns and shrub- 
beries which are everywhere to be met with ; 
and they are regarded rather as the venerable 
marks of ancient splendour, than as the bar- 
barous affectation of modern distinction. In 
France, the native deformity of this taste 
appears in its real light, without the colouring 
of any such adventitious circumstances as 
conceal it in this country. It does not exist 
under the softening veil of ancient manners ; 
its avenues do not conduct to the decaying 
abode of hereditary greatness — its gardens do 
not mark the scenes of former festivity — its 
fountains are not covered with the moss which 
has grown for centuries. It appears as the mo- 
del of present taste ; it is considered as the indi- 
cation of existing splendour ; and sought after, 



as the form in Avhich the beauty of nature is 
now to be admired. All thai association 
blends in the mind with the style of ancient 
gardening in England is instantly divested by 
its appearance in France; and the whole im- 
portance is then felt of that happy change in 
the national taste, whereby variety has been 
made to succeed to uniformity, and the imita- 
tion of nature to come in the place of the exhi- 
bition of art. 

The remarkable characteristic of the taste 
of France is, that this love of artificial beauty 
continues with undiminished force, at a period 
when, in other nations, it has given place to a 
more genuine love for the beauty of nature. 
In them, the natural progress of refinement 
has led from the admiration of the art of imita- 
tion to the love of the subjects imitated. In 
France, this early prejudice continues in its 
pristine vigour at the present moment: they 
never lose sight of the effort of the artist; their 
admiration is fixed not on the quality or object 
in nature, but on the artificial representation 
of it; not on the thing signified, but the sign. 
It is hence that they have such exalted ideas 
of the perfection of their artist David, whose 
paintings are nothing more than a representa- 
tion of the human figure in its most extrava- 
gant and phrenzied attitudes; that they are 
insensible to the simple display of real emo- 
tion, but dwell with delight upon the vehement 
representation of it which their stage exhibits ; 
and that, leaving the charming heights of Belle- 
ville, or the sequestered banks of the Seine 
almost wholly deserted, they crowd to the stiff 
alleys of the Elysian Fields, or the artificial 
beauties of the gardens of Versailles. _ 

In the midst of Paris this artificial style of 
gardening is not altogether unpleasing ; it is 
in unison, in some measure, with the regular 
character of the buildings with which it is 
surrounded ; and the profusion of statues and 
marble vases continues the impression which 
the character of their palaces is fitted to pro- 
duce. But at Versailles, at St. Cloud, and 
Fontainbleau, amidst the luxuriance of vegeta- 
tion, and surrounded by the majesty of forest 
scenery, it destroys altogether the effect which 
arises from the irregularity of natural beauty. 
Every one feels straight borders, and square 
porticoes and broad alleys, to be in unison 
with the immediate neighbourhood of an anti- 
quated mansion ; but they become painful 
when extended to those remoter parts of the 
grounds, when the character of the scene is 
determined by the rudeness of uncultivated 
nature. 

There are some occasions, nevertheless, on 
which the gardens of the Tuileries present a 
beautiful spectacle, in spite of the artificial 
taste in which they are formed. From the 
warmth of the climate, the Parisians, of all 
classes, live much in the open air, and frequent 
the public gardens in great numbers during 
the continuance of the fine weather. In the 
evening especially, they are filled with citi- 
zens, who repose themselves under the shade 
of the lofty trees, after the heat and the fa- 
tigues of the day; and they there present a 
spectacle of more than ordinary interest and 
beauty. The disposition of the French suits 



PARIS m 1814. 



105 



the character of the scene, and harmonizes 
with the impression which the stillness of the 
evening produces on the mind. There is 
none of that rioting or confusion by which an 
assembly of the middling classes in England 
is too often disgraced ; no quarrelling or in- 
toxication even among the poorest ranks, nor 
any appearance of that degrading want which 
destroys the pleasing idea of public happiness. 
The people appear all to enjoy a certain share 
of individual prosperity ; their intercourse is 
conducted with unbroken harmony, and they 
seem to resign themselves to those delightful 
feelings which steal over the mind during the 
stillness and serenity of a summer evening. 
It would seem as if all the angry passions of 
'the breast were soothed by the voice of repos- 
ing nature — as if the sounds of labour were 
stilled, lest they should break the harmony of 
the scene — as if vice itself had concealed its 
deformity from the overpowering influence of 
natural beauty. 

Still more beautiful, perhaps, is the appear- 
ance of this scene during the stillness of the 
night, when the moon throws her dubious rays 
over the objects of nature. The gardens of 
the Tuileries remain crowded with people, 
who seem to enjoy the repose which univer- 
sally prevails, and from whom no sound is to 
be heard which can break the stillness or the 
serenity of the scene. The regularity of the 
forms is wholly lost in the masses of light and 
shadow that are there displayed ; the foliage 
throws a checkered shade over the ground 
beneath, while the distant vistas of the Elysian 
Fields are seen in that soft and mellow light 
by which the radiance of the moon is so pecu- 
liarly distinguished. After passing through 
the scenes of gaiety and festivity which mark 
these favourite scenes of the French people, 
small encampments were frequently to be seen, 
of the allied troops, in the remote parts of the 
grounds. The appearance of these bivouacks, 
composed of Cossack squadrons, Hungarian 
hussars, and Prussian artillery, in the obscurity 
of moonlight, and surrounded by the gloom of 
forest scenery, was beyond measure striking. 
The picturesque forms of the soldiers, sleeping 
on their arms under the shade of the trees, or 
half hid by the rude huts which the)^ had 
erected for their shelter; the varied attitudes 
of the horses standing amidst the wagons by 
which the camp was followed, or sleeping be- 
side the veterans whom they had borne through 
all the fortunes of war ; the dark masses of the 
artillery, dimly discerned in the shades of 
night, or faintly reflecting the pale light of the 
moon, presented a scene of the most beautiful 
description, in which the rude features of war 
were softened by the tranquillity of peaceful 
life : and the interest of present repose was 
enhanced by the remembrance of the wintry 
storms and bloody fields through which these 
brave men had passed, during the memorable 
campaigns in which they had been engaged. 
The effect of the whole was increased by the 
perfect stillness which everywhere prevailed, 
broken only at intervals by the slow step of 
the sentinel, as he paced his rounds, or the 
sweeter sounds of those beautiful airs, which, 
in a far distant country, recalled to the Russian 
14 



soldier the joys and the happiness of his native 
land. 

St. Cloud was the favourite residence of 
Bonaparte, and, from this circumstance, pos- 
sesses an interest which does not belong to 
the other imperial palaces. It stands high, 
upon a lofty bank overhanging the Seine, 
which takes a bold s^eep in the plain below ; 
and the steep declivity which descends to its 
banks, is clothed with magnificent woods of 
aged elms. The character of the scenery is 
bold and rugged ; — the trees are of the wildest 
forms, and the most stupendous height, and 
the banks, for the most part, steep and irregu- 
lar. It is here, accordingly, that the French 
gardening appears in all its genuine deformity ; 
and that its straight walks and endless foun- 
tains display a degree of formality and art, 
destructive to the peculiar beauty by which 
the scene is distinguished. These gardens, 
however, were the favourite and private walks 
of the emperor ; — it was there that he meditated 
those schemes of ambition which were des- 
tined to shake the established thrones of 
Europe ; — it was under the shade of its luxu- 
riant foliage that he formed the plan of all the 
mighty projects which he had in contempla- 
tion ; — it was in the splendid apartments of 
its palace that the Councils of France assem- 
bled, to revolve on the means of permanently 
destroying the English power : — It was here 
too, by a most remarkable coincidence, that 
his destruction was finally accomplished; — 
that the last convention was concluded, by 
which his second dethronement was com- 
pleted ; — and that the victorious arms of Eng- 
land dictated the terms of surrender to his 
conquered capital. 

St. Cloud, in 1814, was the head-quarters 
of Prince Schwartzenberg ; and the Austrian 
grenadiers mounted guard at the gates of the 
Imperial Palace. The banks of the Seine, 
below the palace, were covered by an immense 
bivouac of Austrian troops, and the fires of 
their encampment twinkled in the obscurity 
of twilight, amidst the low brushwood with 
which the sides of the river were clothed. The 
appearance of this bivouac, dimly discerned 
through the rugged stems of lofty trees, or 
half-hid by the luxuriant branches which ob- 
scured the view — the picturesque and varied 
aspect of the camp, covered with wagons, and 
all the accompaniments of military service ; — 
the columns of smoke rising from the fires 
with which it was interspersed, and the in- 
numerable horses crowded amidst the con- 
fused multitude of men and carriages, or rest- 
ing in more sequestered spots on the sides of 
the river, with their forms finely reflected in 
its unruffled waters — presented a spectacle 
which exhibited war in its most striking aspect, 
and gave a character to the scene which would 
have suited the romantic strain of Salvator's 
mind. 

St. Germain, though less picturesquely situ- 
ated than St. Cloud, presents features, never- 
theless, of more than ordinary magnificence. 
The Palace, now converted into a school of 
military education by Napoleon, is a mean 
irregular building ; though it possesses a cer- 
tain interest, by having been long the residence 



106 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of the exiled house of Stuart. The situation, 
however, is truly fitted for an imperial dwell- 
ing; it stands on the edge of a high bank, 
overhanging the Seine, at the end of a magnifi- 
cent terrace, a mile and a half long, built on 
the projecting heights which edge the river. 
The walk along this terrace is the finest spec- 
tacle which the vicinity of Paris has to present. 
It is backed along its whole extent by the im- 
mense forest of St. Germain, the foliage of 
which overhangs the road, and in the recesses 
of which you can occasionally discern those 
beautiful peeps which form the peculiar charac- 
teristic of forest scenery. The steep bank 
which descends to the river is clothed with 
orchards and vineyards in all the luxuriance 
of a southern climate, and, in front, there is 
spread beneath your feet the immense plain 
in which the Seine wanders, whose waters are 
descried at intervals through the woods and 
gardens with which its banks are adorned; 
while, in the farthest distance, the towers of 
St. Denis, and the heights of Paris, form an 
irregular outline on the verge of the horizon. 
It is a scene exhibiting the most beautiful 
aspect .of cultivated nature, and would have 
been the fit residence for a monarch who loved 
to survey his subjects' happiness : but it was 
deserted by the miserable weakness of Louis 
XIV., because the view terminated in the 
cemetery of the kings of France, and his en- 
joyment of it would have been destroyed by 
the thoughts of mortal decay. 

Versailles, which that monarch chose as the 
ordinary abode of his splendid court, is less 
favourably situate for a royal dwelling, though 
the view from the great front of the palace is 
beautifully clothed with luxuriant woods. The 
palace itself is a magnificent building of im- 
mense extent, loaded with the riches of archi- 
tectural beauty, but destitute of that fine pro- 
portion and lightness of ornament, which 
spread so indescribable a charm over the 
palace of the Louvre. The interior is in a 
state of lamentable decay, having been pillaged 
at the commencement of the revolutionary 
fury, and formed into a barrack for the repub- 
lican soldiers, the marks of whose violence 
are still visible in the faded splendour of its 
magnificent apartments. They still show, how- 
ever, the favourite apartments of Maria An- 
toinette, the walls of which are covered with 
the finest mirrors, and some remains of the 
furniture are still preserved, which even the 
licentious fury of the French army seems to 
have been afraid to violate. The gardens, on 
which all the riches of France, and all the 
efforts of art were so long lavished, present a 
painful monument of the depravity of taste: 
but the Petit Trianon, which is a little palace 
built of marble, and surrounded by shrubberies 
in the English style, exhibits the genuine 
beauty of which the imitation of nature is sus- 
ceptible. This palace contains a suite of 
splendid apartments, fitted up with singular 
taste, and adorned with a number of charming 
pictures ; it was the favourite residence of 
Maria Louise, and we were there shown the 
drawing materials which she used, and some 
unfinished sketches which she left, in which, 



we were informed, she much delighted, and 
which bore the marks of a cultivated taste. 

The Empress Maria Louise was everywhere 
represented as cold, proud, and haughty in her 
manner, and unconciliating in her ordinary ad- 
dress. Her time was much spent in private, 
in the exercise of religious duty, or in needle- 
work and drawing; and her favourite seat at 
St. Cloud was between two windows, from 
one of which she had a view over the beauti- 
ful woods which clothe the banks of the river, 
and from the other a distant prospect of the 
towers and domes of Paris. 

Very different, was the character which be- 
longed to the former empress, the first wife of 
Bonaparte, Josephine. She passed the close 
of her life at the delightful retreat of Mal- 
maison, a villa charmingly situated on the 
banks of the Seine, seven miles from Paris, on 
the road to St. Germain. This villa had been 
her. favourite residence while she continued 
empress, and formed her only home after the 
period of her divorce ; — here she lived in 
obscurity and retirement, without any of the 
pomp of a court, or any of the splendour wdrich 
belonged to her former rank, occupied entirely 
in the emplo3 r ment of gardening, or in allevi- 
ating the distresses of those around her. The 
shrubberies and gardens were laid out with 
singular beauty, in the English taste, and con- 
tained a vast variety of rare flowers, which 
she had for a long period been collecting. 
These grounds were to her the source of never- 
failing enjoyment ; she spent many hours in 
them every day, working herself, or superin- 
tending the occupations of others ; and in these 
delightful occupations seemed to return again 
to all the innocence and happiness of youth. 
She was beloved, to the greatest degree, by 
all the poor who inhabited the vicinity of her 
retreat, both for the gentleness of her man- 
ner, and her unwearied attention to their suf- 
ferings and their wants ; and during the whole 
period of her retirement, she retained the 
esteem and affection of all classes of French 
citizens. The Emperor Alexander visited her 
repeatedly during the stay of the allied armies 
in Paris ; and her death occasioned an univer- 
sal feeling of regret, rarely to be met with 
amidst the corruption and selfishness of the 
French metropolis. 

There was something singularly striking in 
the history and character of this remarkable 
woman : — Born in an humble station, without 
any of the advantages which rank or education 
could afford, she was early involved in all the 
unspeakable miseries of the French revolution, 
and was extricated from her precarious situa- 
tion only by being united to that extraordinary 
man whose crimes and whose ambition have 
spread misery through every country of Eu- 
rope; rising through all the gradations of 
rank through which he passed, she everywhere 
commanded the esteem and regard of all who 
had. access to admire her private virtues ; and 
when at length she was raised to the rank of 
Empress, she graced the imperial throne with 
all the charities and virtues of an humbler sta- 
tion. She bore, with unexampled,magnanimity, 
the sacrifice of power and of influence which 



PARIS IN 1814. 



107 



she was compelled to make: she carried into 
the obscurity of humble life all the dignity of 
mind which befitted the character of an em- 
press of France ; and exercised, in the delight- 
ful occupations of country life, or in the alle- 
viation of the severity of individual distress, 
that firmness of mind and gentleness of dis- 
position with which she had lightened the 
weight of imperial dominion, and softened the 
rigour of despotic power. 

The Forest of Fontainbleau exhibits scenery 
of a more picturesque and striking character 
than is to be met with in any other part of the 
north of France. It is situated forty miles from 
Paris, on the great road to Rome, and the ap- 
pearance of the country through which this 
road runs, is, for the most part, Hat and unin- 
teresting. It runs through a continued plain, 
in a straight line between tall rows of elm 
trees, whose lower branches are uniformly cut 
off for fire-wood to the peasantry ; and exhibits, 
for the most part, no other feature than the 
continued riches of agricultural produce. At 
the distance of seven miles from the town of 
Fontainbleau, you first discern the forest, 
covering a vast ridge of rocks, stretching as far 
as the eye can reach, from right to left, and 
presenting a dark irregular outline on the sur- 
face of the horizon. The cultivation continues, 
with all its uniformity, to the very foot of the 
ridge ; but the moment you pass the boundaries 
of the forest, you find yourself surrounded at 
once with all the wildness and luxuriance of 
natural scenery. The surface of the ground 
is broken and irregular, rising at times into 
vast piles of shapeless rocks, and enclosing at 
others small valleys, in which the wood grows 
in luxuriant beauty, unblighted by the chilling 
blasts of northern climates. In these valleys, 
the oak, the ash, and the beech, exhibit the 
peculiar magnificence of forest scenery, while, 
on the neighbouring hills, the birch waves its 
airy foliage rouud the dark masses of rock 
which terminate the view. Nothing can be 
conceived more striking than the scenery 
which this variety of rock and wood produces 
in every part of this romantic forest. At times 
y.ou pass through an unbroken mass of aged 
timber, surrounded by the native grandeur of 
forest scenery, and undisturbed by any traces 
of human habitation, except in those rude 
paths which occasionally open a passing view 
into the remoter parts of the forest. At others, 
the path winds through great masses of rock, 
piled in endless confusion upon each other, 
in the crevices of which, the fern and the 
heath grow in all the luxuriance of southern 
vegetation; while their summits are covered 
by aged oaks of the wildest forms, whose 
crossing boughs throw an eternal shade over 
the ravines below, and afford room only to 
discern at the farthest distance the summits 
of those beautiful hills, on which the light 
foliage of the birch trembles in the ray of an 
unclouded sun, or waves on the blue of a sum- 
mer heaven. 

To those who have had the good fortune to 
see the beautiful scenery of the Trosachs in 
Scotland, of Matlock in Derbyshire, or of the 
wooded Fells in Cumberland.it may afford 
some idea of the Forest of Fontainbleau, to 



say that it combines scenery of a similar de- 
scription with the aged magnificence of Wind- 
sor Forest. Over its whole extent there are 
scattered many detached oaks of vast dimen- 
sions, which seem to be of an older race 
in the growth of the forest, — whose lowest 
boughs stretch above the top of the wood 
which surrounds them, — and whose decayed 
summits afford a striking contrast to the 
young and luxuriant foliage with which their 
stems are enveloped. In May, 1814, it was 
occupied by the old imperial guard, which 
still remained in that station after the abdica- 
tion of Bonaparte ; and parties, or detached 
stragglers of them, were frequently to be met 
with wandering in the most solitary parts of 
the forest. Their warlike and weather-beaten 
appearance; their battered arms and worn 
accoutrements ; the dark feathers of their caps, 
and the sallow ferocious aspect of their coun- 
tenances, suited the savage character of the 
scenery with which they were surrounded, 
and threw over the gloom and solitude of the 
forest that wild expression with which the 
genius of Salvator dignified the features of 
uncultivated nature. 

The town and palace of Fontainbleau is sit- 
uated in a small plain near the centre of the 
forest, and surrounded on all sides by the 
rocky ridges with which it is everywhere in- 
tersected. The palace is a large irregular 
building, composed of many squares, and 
fitted up in the inside with the utmost splen- 
dour of imperial magnificence. The apart- 
ments in which Napoleon dwelt during his 
stay in the palace, after the capture of Paris 
by the allied troops ; and the desk at which 
he always wrote, and where his abdication 
was signed, are there shown. It is covered 
with white leather, scratched over in every 
direction, and marked with innumerable wip- 
ings of the pen, among which his own name, 
Napoleon, frequently written as in a hur- 
ried and irregular hand, was to be seen; 
and one sentence which began, "Que Dieu, 
Napoleon, Napoleon." The servants in the 
palace agreed in stating, that the emperor's 
gaiety and fortitude of mind never deserted 
him during the ruin of his fortune ; that he 
was engaged in his writing-chamber during 
the greater part of the day, and walked for 
two hours on the terrace, in close conversa- 
tion with Marshal Ney. Several officers of 
the imperial guard repeated the speech which 
he made to his troops on leaving them after 
his abdication of the throne, which was precise- 
ly what appeared in the English newspapers. 
So great was the enthusiasm produced by this 
speech among the soldiers present, that it 
was received with shouts and cries of Vive 
l'Empereur, a Paris, a Paris! and when he 
departed under the custody of the allied com- 
missioners, the whole army wept ; there was 
not a dry eye in the multitude who were as- 
sembled to witness his departure. Even the 
imperial guard, who had been trained in scenes 
of suffering from their first entry into the 
service — who had been inured for a long course 
of years to the daily sight of human misery, 
and had constantly made a sport of all the 
afflictions which are fitted to move the human 



108 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



heart, shared in the general grief; they seemed 
:o ibrgct the degradation in which their com- 
mander was involved, the hardships to which, 
had been exposed, and the destruction 
which he had brought upon their br< thren in 
arms ; they remembered him when he stood 
victorious on the field of Austerlitz, or passed 
;n triumph through the gates of Moscow, and 
shed over the fall of their emperor those tears 
of genuine sorrow which they denied lo the 
p st scenes of private suffering, or the most 
aggravated instances of individual distress. 

The infantry of the old guard was frequently 
to be seen drawn up in line in the streets of 
Fontainbleau, and their appearance was such 
; s fully answered the idea we had formed of 
. mt body of veteran soldiers, who had borne 
:he French eagles through every capital of 
Europe. Their aspect was bold and martial ; 
there was a keenness in their eyes which be- 
spoke the characteristic intelligence of the 
French soldiers, and a ferocity in the expres- 
sion of their countenances which seemed to 
have been unsubdued even by the unparalleled 
disasters in which their country had been in- 
volved. The people of the town itself com- 
plained in the bitterest terms of their licen- 
tious conduct, and repeatedly said that they 
dreaded them more as friends than the Cos- 
sacks themselves as enemies. They seemed 
to harbour the most unbounded resentment 
against the people of this country ; their coun- 
tenances bore the expression of the strongest 
enmity against the English. Whatever the 
atrocity of their conduct ; however it might 
have been to the people of their own, as well as 
every other country, it was impossible not 
to feel the strongest emotion at the sight of 
the veteran soldiers whose exploits had so 
Jong ri vetted the attention of all who felt an 
interest in the civilized world. These were 
the men who first raised the glory of the re- 
publican armies on the plains of Italy ; who 
survived the burning climate of Egypt, and 
chained victory to the imperial standards at 
Jena, at Friedland and Austerlitz — who fol- 
lowed the career of victory to the walls of the 
Kremlin, and marched undaunted through the 
ranks of death amid the snows of Russia; — 
who witnessed the ruin of France under the 
Avails of Leipsic, and struggled to save its 
falling fortune on the heights of Laon ; and 
who preserved, in the midst of national humi- 
liation, and when surrounded by the mighty 
foreign powers, that undaunted air and un- 
shaken firmness, which, even in the moment 
df defeat, commanded the respect of their an- 
tagonists in arms. 

There is no scenery round Paris so striking 
as the Forest of Fontainbleau, but the heights 
of Belleville exhibit nature in a more pleasing 
aspect, and are distinguished by features of a 
gentler character. Montmartre, and the ridge 
of Belleville, form those celebrated heights 
which command Paris on the northern side, 
and which "were so obstinately contested be- 
tween the allies and the French, on the 30th 
March, 1814, previous to the capture of Paris 
by the allied sovereigns. Montmartre is covered 
for the most part with houses, and presents 
nothing to attract the eye of the observer, ex- 



cept the extensive view which is to be met 
with at its summit. The heights of Belleville 
are varied with wood, wiih orchards, vine- 
yards, and gardens, interspersed with cottages 
and villas, and cultivated with the utmost 
care. There are few enclosures, but the whole 
extent of the ground is thickly studded with 
walnuts) fruit-trees, and forest timber, which, 
from a distance, give it the appearance of one 
continued wood. On a nearer approach, how- 
ever, 3 r ou find it intersected in every direction 
by small paths, which wind among the vine- 
yards, or through the woods with which the 
hills are covered, and present, at every turn, 
those charming little scenes which form the 
peculiar characteristic of woodland scenery. 
The cottages, half hid by the profusion of 
fruit-trees, or embosomed in the luxuriant 
woods, with which they are everywhere sur- 
rounded, increase the interest which the scene- 
ry itself is fitted to produce ; they combine the 
delightful idea of the peasant's enjoyment with 
the beauty of the spot on which his dwelling 
is placed; and awaken, in the midst of the 
boundless luxuriance of vegetable nature, 
those deeper feelings of moral delight, which 
spring from the contemplation of human happi- 
ness. 

The effect of the charming scenery on the 
heights of Belleville, is much increased by 
the distant objects which terminate some parts 
of the view. To the east, the high and gloomy 
towers of Vincennes rise over the beautiful 
woods with which the sides of the hill are 
adorned ; and give an air of solemnity to the 
scene, arising from the remembrance of the 
tragic events of which it was the theatre. To 
the south, the domes and spires of Paris can 
occasionally be discovered through the open- 
ings of the wood with which the foreground 
is enriched, and present the capital at that 
pleasing distance, when the minuter parts of 
the buildings are concealed, when its promi- 
nent features alone are displayed, and the 
whole is softened by the obscure light which 
distance throws over the objects of nature. 
To an English mind, the effect of the whole is 
infinitely increased, by the animating asso- 
ciations with which this scenery is connected ; 
— by the remembrance of the mighty struggle 
between freedom and slavery, which was here 
terminated ; — of the heroic deeds which were 
here performed, and the unequalled magnani- 
mity which was here displayed. It was here 
that the expiring efforts of military despotism 
were overthrown — that the armies of Russia 
stood triumphant over the .power of France, 
and nobly avenged the ashes of their own ca- 
pital, by sparing that of their prostrate enemy. 

At this time the traces of the recent strug- 
gle were visibly imprinted on the villages and 
woods with which the hill is covered. The 
marks of blood were still to be discerned on 
the chaussee which leads through the village 
of Pantin ; the elm trees which line the road 
were cut asunder or bored through with can- 
non shot, and their stems riddled in many 
parts, with the incessant fire of the grape shot. 
The houses in La Villette, Belleville, and Pantin, 
were covered with the marks of musket shot ; 
the windows of many were shattered, or wholly 



THE LOUVRE IN 1814. 



109 



destroyed, and the interior of the rooms broken 
by the balls which seemed to have pierced 
every part of the building. So thickly were 
the houses in some places covered with these 
marks, that it appeared almost incredible how 
any one could have escaped from so destruc- 
tive a fire. Even the beautiful gardens with 
which the slope of the heights are adorned, 
and the inmost recesses of the wood of Ro- 
mainville, bore, throughout, the marks of the 
desperate struggles which they had lately wit- 
nessed, and exhibited the s) T mptoms of frac- 
ture or destruction in the midst of the luxu- 
riance of natural beauty ; — yet, though they 
had so recently been the scene of mortal com- 
bat ; though the ashes of the dead lay yet in 
heaps on different parts of the field of battle, 
the prolific powers of nature were undecayed : 
the vines clustered round the broken fragments 
of the instruments of war, — the corn spread a 
sweeter green over the fields, which were yet 
wet with human blood, and the trees waved 
with renovated beauty over the uncoffined re- 
mains of the departed brave ; emblematic of 
the decay of man, and of the immortality of 
nature. 

The French have often been accused of sel- 
fishness, and the indifference which they often 
manifest to the fate of their relations affords 
too much reason to believe that the social af- 
fections have little permanent influence on their 
minds. They exhibit, hoAvever, in misfortunes 
of a different kind — in calamities which really 
press upon their own enjoyments of life — the 
same gayety of heart, and the same undisturbed 
equanimity of disposition. That gayety in 



misfortune, which is so painful to every ob- 
server, when it is to be found in the midst of 
family distress, becomes delightful when it 
exists under the deprivation of the selfish gra- 
tification to which the individual had been ac- 
customed. Both here, and in other parts of 
France, where the houses of the peasants had 
been wholly destroyed by the allied armies, 
there was much to admire in the equanimity 
of mind with which these poor people bore 
the loss of all their property. For an extent 
of thirty miles in one direction, towards the 
north of Champagne, every house near the 
great road hSd been burned or pillaged for the 
firewood which it contained, both by the French 
and allied armies, and the people were every 
where compelled to sleep in the open air. The 
men were everywhere rebuilding their fallen 
walls, with a cheerfulness which never would 
have existed in England under similar circum- 
stances ; and the little children laboured in the 
gardens during the day, and slept under the 
vines at night, without exhibiting any signs 
of distress for their disconsolate situation. In 
many places we saw groups of these little 
children in the midst of the ruined houses, or 
under the shattered trees, playing with the 
musket shot, or trying to roll the cannon balls 
by which the destruction of their dwellings 
had been effected: — exhibiting a picture of 
youthful joy and native innocence, while sport- 
ing with the instruments of human destruc- 
tion, which the genius of Sir Joshua Reynolds 
would have moulded into the expression of 
pathetic feeling, or employed as the means of 
moral improvement. 



THE LOUVRE IN 1814. 



To those who have had the good fortune to 
see the pictures and statues which are pre- 
served in the Louvre, all description of these 
works must appear superfluous ; and to those 
who have not had this good fortune, such an 
attempt could convey no adequate idea of the 
objects which are described. There is nothing 
more uninteresting than the catalogue of pic- 
tures which are to be found in the works of many 
modern travellers ; nor any thing in general 
more ridiculous than the ravings of admira- 
tion with which this catalogue is described, 
and with which the reader in general is little 
disposed to sympathize. Without attempting, 
therefore, to enumerate the great works which 
are there to be met with, it is better to aim at 
nothing but the delineation of the general cha- 
racter by which the different schools of paint- 
ing are distinguished, and the great features 
in which they all differ from the sculpture of 
ancient times. 



Written during a residence at Paris in May and 
.. ,4..e, 1814, and published in "Travels in France," in 
1814-15, to the first volume of which the author con- 
tributed a few chapters. 



* 
June 



For an attempt of this kind, the Louvre pre- 
sents singular advantages, from the unparal- 
leled collection of paintings of every school 
and description which are there to be met 
with, and the facility with which you can 
there trace the progress of the art from its 
first beginning to the period of its greatest 
perfection. And it is in this view that the 
collection of these works into one museum, 
however much to be deplored as the work of 
unprincipled ambition, and however much it 
may have diminished the impression which 
particular objects, from the influence of asso- 
ciation, produced in their native place, is yet 
calculated to produce the greatest of all im- 
provements in the progress of the art; by 
divesting particular schools and particular 
works of the unbounded influence which the 
effect of early association, or the prejudices of 
national feeling, have given them in their ori- 
ginal situation, and placing them where their 
real nature is to be judged of by a more ex- 
tended circle, and subjected to the examination 
of more impartial sentiments. 

The first hall of the Louvre, in the oicturu 
K 



110 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



gallery, is filled v.-ith paintings of the French ! 
school. The principal artists whose works ■, 
are here exhibited, are Le Brim, Gaspar and ' 
Nicolas Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Vernet, and j 
the modern painters Gerard and David. The 
general character of the school of French his- j 
torical painting, is the expression of passion 
and violent emotion. The colouring is for the 
most part brilliant ; the canvas crowded with 
figures, and the incident selected, that in which 
the painter might have the best opportunity of 
displaying his knowledge of the human frame, 
or the varied expression of the human counte- 
nance. In the pictures of the modern school 
of French painting, this peculiarity is pushed 
to an extravagant length, and, fortunately for 
the art, displays the false principles on which 
ihe system of their composition is founded. The 
moment seized is uniformly that of the strongest 
and most violent passion; the principal actors 
in the piece are represented in a state of phren- 
zied exertion, and. the whole anatomical know- 
ledge of the artist is displayed in the endless 
contortions into which the human frame is 
thrown. In David's celebrated picture of the 
three Horatii, this peculiarity appears in the 
most striking light. The works of this artist 
may excite admiration, but it is the limited 
and artificial admiration of "the schools; of 
those who have forgot the end of the art in the 
acquisition of the technical knowledge with 
which it is accompanied, or the display of the 
technical powers which its execution in- 
volves. 

The paintings of Vernet, in this collection, 
are perhaps the finest specimens of that beau- 
tiful master, and they entitle him to a higher 
place in the estimation of mankind than he 
seems yet to have obtained from the generality 
of observers. There is a delicacy of colour- 
ing, a unity of design, and a harmony of ex- 
pression in his works, which accord well with 
the simplicity of the subjects which his taste 
has selected, and the general effect which it 
was his object to produce. In the representa- 
tion of the sun dispelling the mists of a cloudy 
morning; of his setting rays gilding the waves 
of a western sea; or of that undefined beauty 
which moonlight throws over the objects of 
nature, the works of this artist are perhaps 
unrivalled. 

The paintings of Claude are by no means 
equal to what might have been expected, from 
the celebrity which his name has acquired, or 
the matchless beauty which the engravings 
from him possess. They are but eleven in 
number, and cannot be, in my degree, com- 
pared with those which are to be found in Mr. 
Angerstein's collection. To those, however, 
who have been accustomed to study the de- 
signs of this great master, through the me- 
dium of the engraved copies, and above all, 
in the unrivalled works of Woollet, the sight 
of the original pictures must, perhaps at 
all times, create a feeling of disappointment. 
There is a unity of effect in the engravings 
which can never be met with amidst the dis- 
traction of colouring in the original pictures ; 
and the imagination clothes the beautiful 
shades of the copy with finer tints than even 
:he pencil of Claude has been able to supply. 



"I have shown you," said Corinne to Oswald, 
" St. Peter's for the first time, when the bril- 
liancy of its decorations might appear in full 
splendour, in the rays of the sun : I reserve 
for you a finer, and a more profound enjoy- 
ment, to behold it by the light of the moon." 
Perhaps there is a distinction of the same 
kind between the gaudy brilliancy of varied 
colours, and the chaster simplicity of uniform 
shadows ; and it is probably for this reason, 
that on the first view of a picture which you 
have long admired in the simplicity of en- 
graved effect, you involuntarily recede from 
the view, and seek in the obscure light, and 
uncertain tint, which distance produces, to 
recover that uniform tone and general charac- 
ter, which the splendour of colouring is so apt 
to destroy. It is a feeling similar to that which 
Lord Byron has so finely described, as arising 
from the beauty of moonlight scenery: — 

" Mellow'd to that tender light 

Which Heaven to gaudy day denies." 

The Dutch and Flemish school, to which 
you next advance, possesses merit, and is dis- 
tinguished by a character of a very different 
description. It was the well-known object of 
this school, to present an exact and faithful 
imitation of nature ; to exaggerate none of its 
faults, and enhance none of its excellencies, 
but exhibit it as it really appears to the eye of 
an ordinary spectator. Its artists selected, in 
general, some scene of humour or amusement, 
in the discovery of which, the most ignorant 
spectators might discover other sources of 
pleasure from those which the merit of the art 
itself afforded. They did not pretend to aim. 
at the exhibition of passion or powerful emo- 
tion : their paintings, therefore, are free from 
that painful display of theatrical effect, which 
characterizes the French school ; their object 
was not to represent those deep scenes of sor- 
row or suffering, which accord with the pro- 
found feelings which it was the object of the 
Italian school to awaken; they want, therefore, 
the dignity and grandeur which the works of 
the greater Italian painters possess. Their 
merit consists in the faithful delineation of 
those ordinary scenes and common occur- 
rences which are familiar to the eye of the most 
careless observer. The power of the painter, 
therefore, could be displayed only in the mi- 
nuteness of the finishing, or the brilliancy of 
the effect: and he endeavoured, by the power- 
ful contrast of light and shade, to give a 
higher character to his works than the nature 
of their subjects could otherwise admit. The 
pictures of Teniers, Ostade^and Gerard Dow, 
possess these merits, and are distinguished by 
this character in the highest degree ; but their 
qualities are so well known in this country, as 
to render any observations on them super- 
fluous. There is a very great collection here 
preserved, of the works of Rembrandt, and 
their design and effect bear, in general, a 
higher character than belongs to most of the 
works of this celebrated master. 

In one respect, the collection in the Louvre 
is altogether unrivalled ; in the number and 
beauty of the Wouvermans which are there to 
be met with ; nor is it possible, without hav- 
ing seen it, to appreciate, with any degree of 



THE LOUVRE IN 1814. 



Ill 



justice, the variety of design, the accuracy of 
drawing, or delicacy of finishing, which dis- 
tinguish his works from those of any other 
painter of a similar description. There are 
forty of his pieces there assembled, all in the 
finest state of preservation, and ail displaying 
the same unrivalled beauty of colouring and 
execution. In their design, however, they 
widely differ ; and they exhibit, in the most 
striking manner, the real object to which 
painting should be applied, and the causes 
of the errors in which its composition has 
been involved. His works, for the most 
part, are crowded with figures ; his subjects 
are in general battle-pieces, or spectacles of 
military pomp, or the animated scenes which 
the chase presents; and he seems to have ex- 
hausted all the efforts of his genius, in the 
variety of incident and richness of execution, 
which these subjects are fitted to afford. From 
the confused and indeterminate expression 
however, which the multitude of their objects 
exhibit, the spectator turns with delight to 
those simpler scenes in which his mind seems 
to have reposed, after the fatigues which it 
had undergone ; to the representation of a 
single incident, or the delineation of a certain 
occurrence — to the rest of the traveller after 
the fatigues of the day — to the repose of the 
horse in the intermission of labour — to the re- 
turn of the soldier, after the dangers of the 
campaign ; — scenes in which every thing com- 
bines for the uniform character, and where 
the genius of the artist has been able to give 
•to the rudest occupations of men, and even to 
the objects of animal life, the expression of 
genuine poetical feeling. 

The pictures of Vandyke and Rubens belong 
to a much higher school than that which rose 
out of the wealth and the limited taste of the 
Dutch people. There are sixty pictures of the 
latter of these masters in the Louvre, and, 
combined with the celebrated gallery in the 
Luxembourg palace, they form the finest as- 
semblage of them which is to be met with in 
the world. The character of his works differs 
essentially from that both of the French and 
the Dutch schools : he was employed, not in 
painting cabinet pictures for wealthy mer- 
chants, but in designing great altar pieces for 
splendid churches, or commemorating the 
glory of sovereigns in imperial galleries. The 
greatness of his genius rendered him fit to 
attempt the representation of the most com- 
plicated and difficult objects ; but in the confi- 
dence of this genius, he seems to have lost 
sight of the genuine object of composition in 
his art. He attempts what it is impossible for 
painting to accomplish. He aims at telling a 
whole story by the expression of a single pic- 
ture;, and seems to pour forth the profusion 
of his fancy, by crowding his canvas with a 
multiplicity of figures, which serve no other 
purpose than that of showing the endless 
power of creation which the author possessed. 
In each figure, there is great vigour of concep- 
tion, and admirable power of execution ; but 
the whole possesses no general character, and 
produces no permanent emotion. There is a 
mixture of allegory and truth in many of his 
greatest works, which is ahvays painful ; a 



grossness in his conception of the female form, 
which destroys the symmetry of female beauty; 
and a wildness of imagination in his general 
design, which violates the feelings of ordinary 
taste. You survey his pictures with astonish- 
ment — and the power of thought and the bril- 
liancy of colouring which they display; but 
they produce no lasting impression on the 
mind ; they have struck no chord of feeling or 
emotion, and you leave them with no other 
feeling, than that of regret, that the confusion 
of objects destroys the effect which each in 
itself might be fitted to produce. And if one 
has made a deeper impression ; if you dwel) 
on it with that delight which it should ever be 
the object of painting to produce, you find 
that your pleasure proceeds from a single 
figure, or the expression of a detached part of 
the picture ; and that 'in the contemplation of 
it you have, without being conscious of it, 
detached your mind from the observation of 
all that might interfere with its characteristic 
expression, and thus preserved that unity of 
emotion which is essential to the existence of 
the emotion of taste, but which the confusion 
of incident is so apt to destroy. 

It is in the Italian school, however, that the 
collection in the Louvre is most unrivalled, 
and it is from its character that the general 
tendency of the modern school of historical 
painting is principally to be determined. . 

The general object of the Italian school ap- 
pears to be the expression of passion. The 
peculiar subjects which its painters were 
called on to represent, the sufferings and death 
of our Saviour, the varied misfortunes to 
which his disciples were exposed, or the mul- 
tiplied persecutions which the early fathers of 
the church had to sustain, inevitably pre- 
scribed the object to which their genius was 
to be directed, and the peculiar character 
w r hich their works were to assume. They 
have all, accordingly, aimed at the expression 
of passion, and endeavoured to excite the pity, 
or awaken the sympathy of the spectator; 
though the particular species of passion which 
they have severally selected has varied with 
the turn of mind which the artist possessed. 

The works of Dominichino and of the Ca- 
raccis, of which there are a very great num- 
ber, incline, in general, to the representation 
of what is dark or gloomy in character, or 
what is terrific and appalling in suffering. 
The subjects which the first of these masters 
has in general selected, are the cells of monks, 
the energy of martyrs, the death of saints, or 
the sufferings of the crucifixion; and the dark- 
blue coldness of his colouring, combined with 
the depth of his shadows, accord w r ell with the 
gloomy character which his compositions pos- 
sess. The Caraccis, amidst the variety of ob- 
jects which their genius has embraced, have 
dwelt, in general, upon the expression of sor- 
row — of that deep and profound sorrow which 
the subjects of sacred history were so fitted to 
afford, and which was so well adapted to that 
religious emotion which it was their object to 
excite. 

Guido Reni, Carlo Maratti, and Murillo, are 
distinguished by a gentler character; by the 
expression of tenderness and sweetness of (Us- 



112 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



position: and -the subjects which they have 
chosen are, for the most part, those which 
were fitted for the display of this predominant 
expression ; — the Holy Family, the flight into 
Egypt, the youth of St. John, the penitence of 
the Magdalene. While, in common with all 
their brethren, they have aimed at the expres- 
sion of emotion, it was an emotion of a softer 
kind than that which arose from the energy 
of passion, or the violence of suffering; it was 
the emotion produced by more permanent 
feelings, and less turbulent affections; and 
from the character of this emotion, their exe- 
cution has assumed a peculiar cast, and their 
composition been governed by a peculiar 
principle. Their colouring is seldom brilliant ; 
there is a subdued tone pervading the greater 
part of their pictures; and they have limited 
themselves, in general, to the delineation of a 
single figure, or a small group, in which a 
single character of mind is prevalent. 

There are only six paintings by Salvator 
Rosa in this collection, but they bear that wild 
and original character which is proverbially 
known to belong to the works of this great 
artist. . One of his pieces is particularly 
striking, a skirmish of horse, accompanied by 
all the scenery in which he so peculiarly de- 
lighted. In the foreground is the ruins of an 
old temple, with its lofty pillars finely displayed 
in shadow above the summits of the horizon; 
— in the middle distance the battle is dimly 
discerned through the driving rain, which ob- 
scures the view; while the back ground is 
closed by a vast ridge of gloomy rocks, rising 
into a dark and tempestuous sky. The cha- 
racter of the whole is that of sullen magnifi- 
cence; and it affords a striking instance of .the 
power of great genius, to mould the most 
varied objects in nature into the expression 
of one uniform poetical feeling. 

Very different is the expression which be- 
longs to the softer pictures of Correggio — of 
that great master, whose name is associated 
in every one's mind with all that is gentle or 
delicate in the imitation of nature. Perhaps 
it was from the force of this impression that 
his works seldom completely come up to the 
expectations which are formed of them. They 
are but eight in number, and do 1 not compre- 
hend the finest of his compositions. Their 
general character is that of tenderness and 
delicacy: there is a softness in his shading of 
the human form which is quite unrivalled, and 
a harmony in the general tone of his colour- 
ing, which is in perfect unison with the cha- 
racteristic expression which it was his object 
to produce. There is a want of unity, how- 
ever, in the composition of his figures, which 
does not accord with this harmony of execu- 
tion ; you dwell rather on the fine expression 
of individual form, than the combined tendency 
of the whole group, and leave the picture with 
the impression of the beauty of a single coun- 
tenance, rather than the general character of 
the whole design. He has represented nature 
m its most engaging aspect, and given to in- 
iividual figures all the charms of ideal beauty; 
but he wants that high strain of spiritual feel- 
ing, which belongs only to the works of Ra- 
phael. 



There is but one picture by Carlo Dolci in 
the Louvre ; but it alone is sufficient to mark 
the exquisite genius which its author pos- 
sessed. It is of small dimensions, and repre- 
sents the Holy Family, with the Saviour asleep. 
The finest character of design is here com- 
bined with the utmost delicacy of execution ; 
the softness of the shadows exceeds that of 
Correggio himself; and the dark-blue colour- 
ing which prevails over the whole, is in perfect 
unison with the expression of that rest and 
quiet which the subject requires. The sleep 
of the Infant is perfection itself — it is the deep 
sleep of youth and of innocence, which no 
care has disturbed, and no sorrow embittered 
— and in the unbroken repose of which the 
features have relaxed into the expression of 
perfect happiness. All the features of the 
picture are in unison with this expression, 
except in the tender anxiety of the virgin's 
eye; and all is at rest in the surrounding ob- 
jects, save where her hand .gently removes the 
veil to contemplate the unrivalled beauty of the 
Saviour's countenance. 

Without the softness of shading or the har- 
mony of colour which Correggio possessed, 
the works of Raphael possess a higher cha- 
racter, and aim at the expression of a sublimer 
feeling than those of any other artist whom 
modern Europe has produced. Like all his 
brethren, he has often been misled from the 
real object of his art, and tried, in the energy 
of passion, or the confused expression of 
varied figures, to multiply the effect which his 
composition might produce. Like all the rest, 
he has failed in effecting what the constitution 
of the human mind renders impossible, and in 
this Very failure, warned every succeeding age 
of the vanity of the attempt which his tran- 
scendent genius was unable to effect. It is this 
fundamental error that destroys the effect, even 
of his finest pieces; it is this, combined with 
the unapproachable nature of the presence 
which it reveals, that has rendered the transfi- 
guration itself a chaos of genius rather than a 
model of ideal beauty; nor will it be deemed 
a presumptuous excess, if such sentiments are 
expressed in regard to this great author, since 
it is from his own works alone that we have 
derived the means of appreciating his imper- 
fections. 

It is in his smaller pieces that the genuine 
character of Raphael's paintings is to be seen 
— in the figure of St. Michael subduing the 
demon; in the beautiful tenderness of the 
Virgin and Child; in the unbroken harmony 
of the Holy Family ; in the wildhess and 
piety of the infant St. John;— scenes, in which 
all the objects of the picture combine for the 
preservation of one uniform character, and 
where the native fineness of his mind appears 
undisturbed by the display of temporary pas- 
sion, or the painful distraction of varied suf- 
fering. 

There are no pictures of the English school ■ 
in the Louvre, for the arms of France never 
prevailed in our island. From the splendid 
character, however, which it early assumed 
under the distinguished guidance of Sir Joshua 
Reynolds, and from the high and philosophical 
principles which he at first laid down for the 



THE LOUVRE IN 1814. 



113 



government of the art, there is every reason 
to believe that it ultimately will rival the cele- 
brity of foreign genius : And it is in this view 
that the continuance of the gallery of the 
Louvre, in its present situation, is principally 
to be wished by the English nation — that the 
English artists may possess so near their own 
country so great a school for composition and 
design ; that the imperfections of foreign 
schools may enlighten the views of English 
genius; and that the conquests of the French 
arms, by transferring the remains of ancient 
taste to these northern shores, may throw over 
its rising art that splendour which has hitherto 
been confined to the regions of the sun. 

The great object, therefore, of all the modern 
schools of historical painting, seems to have 
been the delineation of an affecting scene or in- 
teresting occurrence; they have endeavoured to 
tell a story by the variety of incidents in a 
single picture ; and seized, for the most part, 
the moment when passion was at its greatest 
height, or suffering appeared in its most ex- 
cruciating form. The general character, ac- 
cordingly, of the school, is the expression of 
passion or violent- suffering; and in the pro- 
secution of this object, they have endeavoured 
to exhibit it under all its aspects, and display 
all the effects which it could possibly produce 
on the human form, by the different figures 
which they have introduced. While this is 
the general character of the whole, there are 
of course numerous exceptions; and many 
of its greatest painters seem, in the representa- 
tion of single figures, or in the composition 
of smaller groups, to have had in view the ex- 
pression of less turbulent affections; to have 
aimed at the display of settled emotion or per- 
manent feeling, and to have excluded every 
thing from their composition which was not 
in unison with this predominant expression. 

The Sculpture Gallery, which contains above 
two hundred remains of ancient statuary, marks 
in the most decided manner the different ob- 
jects to which this noble art was applied in 
ancient times. Unlike the paintings of modern 
Europe, their figures are almost uniformly at 
rest; they exclude passion or violent suffering 
from their design ; and the moment which they 
select is not that in which a particular or tran- 
sient emotion may be displayed, but in which 
the settled character of mind may be expressed. 
With the two exceptions of the Laocoon and 
the fighting Gladiator, there are none of the 
statues in the Louvre which are not the repre- 
sentation of the human figure in a state of 
repose ; and the expression which the finest 
possess, is invariably that permanent expres- 
sion which has resulted from the habitual 
frame and character of mind. Their figures 
seem to belong to a higher class of beings than 
that, in which we are placed; they indicate a 
state in which passion, anxiety, and emotion 
are no more ; and where the unruffled repose 
of mind has moulded the features into the per- 
fect expression of the mental character. Even 
the countenance of the Venus de Medicis, the 
most beautiful which it has ever entered into 
the mind of man to conceive, and of which no 
copy gives the slightest idea, bears no trace 
of emotion, and none of the marks of human 
15 



feeling; it is the settled expression of celestial 
beauty, and even the smile on her lip is not 
the fleeting smile of temporary joy, but the 
lasting expression of that heavenly feeling 
which sees in all around it the grace and love- 
liness which belongs to itself alone. It ap- 
proaches nearer to that character which some- 
times marks the countenance of female beauty 
when death has stilled the passions of the 
world ; but it is not the cold expression of past 
character which survives the period of mortal 
dissolution ; it is the living expression of pre- 
sent existence, radiant with the beams of im- 
mortal life, and breathing the air of eternal 
happiness. 

The paintings of Raphael convey the most 
perfect idea of earthly beauty ; and they de- 
note the expression of all that is finest and 
most elevated in the character of the female 
mind. But there is a "human meaning in 
their eye," and 'they bear the marks of that 
anxiety and tenderness which belong to the 
relations of present existence. The Venus 
displays the same beauty, freed from the cares 
which existence has produced ; and her lifeless 
eye-balls gaze upon the multitude which sur- 
round her, as on a scene fraught only with the 
expression of universal joy. 

In another view, the Apollo and the Venus 
appear to have been intended by the genius 
of antiquity, as expressive of the character of 
mind which distinguishes the different sexes ; 
and in the expression of this character, they 
have exhausted all which it is possible for 
human imagination to produce upon the sub- 
ject. The commanding air, and advanced step 
of the Apollo, exhibit man in his noblest aspect, 
as triumphing over the evils of plvysical na- 
ture, and restraining the energy of his dispo- 
sition, in the consciousness of resistless power : 
the averted eye, and retiring grace of the Ve- 
nus, are expressive of the modesty, gentleness 
and submission, which form the most beauti- 
ful features of the female character. 

Not. equal, as their sex not equal seemed, 
For valour He, and contemplation, formed, 
For beauty She, and sweet attractive grace, 
He for God only, She for God in Him. 

These words were said of our first parents 
by our greatest poet, after the influence of a 
pure religion had developed the real nature of 
the female character, and determined the place 
which woman was to hold in the scale of na- 
ture ; but the idea had been expressed in a 
still finer manner two thousand years before, 
by the sculptors of antiquity; and amidst all 
the degradation of ancient manners, the pro- 
phetic genius of Grecian taste contemplated 
that ideal perfection in the character of the 
sexes, which was destined to form the boun- 
dary of human progress in the remotest ages 
of human improvement. 

The Apollo strikes a stranger with all its 
grandeur on the first aspect ; subsequent exa- 
mination can add nothing to the force of the 
impression which is then received. The Ve- 
nus produces at first less effect, but gains upon 
the mind at every renewal, till it rivets the 
affections even more than the greatness of its 
unequalled rival. 

The Dying Gladiator is perhaps, after the 
k2 



114 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



two which have been mentioned, the finest 
statue which the Louvre contains. The mo- 
ment chosen is finely adapted for the expres- 
sion of ideal beauty, from a subject connected 
with painful ideas. It is not the moment of 
energy or struggling, when the frame is con- 
vulsed with the exertion it is making, or the 
countenance is deformed by the tumult of pas- 
sion ; it is the moment of expiring nature, 
Avhen the figure is relaxed by the weakness of 
decay, and the mind is softened by the approach 
of death ; when the ferocity of combat is for- 
gotten in the extinction of the interest which 
it had excited, when every unsocial passion is 
stilled by the weakness of exhausted nature, 
and the mind, in the last moments of life, is 
fraught with finer feelings than had belonged 
to the character of previous existence. It is 
a moment similar to that in which Tasso has 
so beautifully described the change in Clorin- 
da's mind, after she had been mortally wound- 
ed by the hand of Tancred, but in which he 
was enabled to give her the inspiration of a 
greater faith, and the charily of a more gentle 
religion : — 

Amico h'ai vinto : io te perdon. Perdona 
Tu ancora, al corpo no che nulla pave 
All' alma si : deh per lei prega ; e dona 
Battesmo a me, ch ogni mia colpa lave ; 
In queste voci languide risuona 
Un non so che di flebile e soave 
Ch' al cor gli scende, ed ogni sdegno ammorza, 
Egli occhi a lagrimar gP invoglia e sforza. 

The statues of antiquity were addressed to 
the multitude of the people ; they were intended 
to awaken the devotion of all classes of citi- 
zens — to be felt and judged by all mankind. 
They are free, therefore, from all the peculiar- 
ities of national taste ; they are purified from 
all the peculiarities of local circumstances ; 
they have been rescued from that miserable 
degradation to which art is uniformly exposed, 
by taste being confined to a limited society. 
They have assumed, in consequence, that ge- 
neral character, which might suit the universal 
feelings of our nature, and that permanent ex- 
pression which might speak to the heart of 
men through every succeeding age. The ad- 
miration, accordingly, for those works of art 
has been undiminished by the lapse of time ; 
they excite the same feelings at the present 
time, as when they came fresh from the hand 
of the Grecian artist, and are regarded by all 
nations with the same veneration on the banks 
of the Seine, as when they sanctified the 
temples of Athens, or adorned the gardens of 
Rome. 

Even the rudest nations seem to have felt 
the force of this impression. The Hungarians 
and the Cossacks, during the stay of the allied 
armies in Paris, ignorant of the name or the 
celebrity of those works of art, seemed ) r et to 
take a delight in the survey of the statues 
of antiquity, and in passing through the long 
line of marbled greatness which the Louvre 
presents, stopt involuntarily at the sight of the 
Venus, or clustered round the foot of the pe- 
destal of the Apollo; — indicating thus, in the 
expression of unalfected feeling, the force of 
that genuine taste for the beauty of nature, 
which all the rudeness of savage manners, and 
all the ferocity of war had not been able to de- 



stroy. The poor Russian soldier, whose know- 
ledge of art was limited to the crucifix which 
he had borne in his bosom from his native 
land, still felt the power of ancient beauty, and 
in the spirit of the Athenians, who erected an 
altar to the Unknown God, did homage in si- 
lence to that unknown spirit which had touched 
a new chord in his untutored heart. 

The character of art in every country ap- 
pears to have been determined by the disposi- 
tion of the people to whom it was addressed, 
and the Object of its composition to have va- 
ried with the purpose it was called on to fulfil. 
The Grecian statues were designed to excite 
the devotion of a cultivated people; to imbody 
their conceptions of divine perfection; to real- 
ize the expression of that character of mind 
which they imputed to the deities whose tem- 
ples they were to adorn : it was grace, or 
strength, or majesty, or youthful power, which 
they were to represent by the figures of Venus, 
of Hercules, of Jupiter, or of Apollo. Their 
artists accordingly were led to aim at the ex- 
pression of general character : to exclude pas- 
sion, or emotion, or suffering, from their de- 
sign, and represent their figures in that state 
of repose where the permanent expression of 
mind ought to be displayed. It is perhaps in 
this circumstance that is to be found the cause 
both of the peculiarity and the excellence of 
the Grecian statuary. 

The Italian painters were early required to 
effect a different object. Their pictures were 
destined to represent the sufferings of nature ; to 
display the persecution or death of our Saviour, 
the anguish of the Holy Family, the heroism 
of martyrs, the resignation of devotion. In 
the infancy of the arts, accordingly, they were 
led to study the expression of passion, of 
suffering, and emotion ; to aim at rousing the 
pity, or exciting the sympathy of the spectators ; 
and to endeavour to characterize their paint- 
ings by the representation of temporary pas- 
sion, not the expression of permanent charac- 
ter. Those beautiful pictures in which a dif- 
ferent object seems to have been followed — in 
which the expression is that of permanent 
emotion, not transient passion, while they cap- 
tivate our admiration, seem to be exceptions 
from the general design, and to have been 
suggested by the peculiar nature of the subject 
represented, or a particular firmness of mind 
in the artist. In these causes we may perhaps 
discern the origin of the peculiar character 
of the Italian school. 

In the French school, the character and 
manners of the people seem to have carried 
this peculiarity to a still greater length. Their 
character led them to seek in every thing for 
stage effect ; to admire the most extravagant 
and violent representations, and to value the 
efforts of art, not in proportion to their imita- 
tion of the qualities of nature, but in propor- 
tion to their resemblance to those artificial 
qualities on which their admiration was 
founded. The vehemence of their manner, on 
the most ordinary occasions, rendered the 
I extravagant gestures requisite for the 
display of real passion; and their drama ac- 
i cordingly exhibits a mixture of dignity of sen- 
, timent, with violence of gesture, beyond mea- 



THE LOUVRE IN 1814. 



115 



sure surprising to a foreign spectator. The 
same disposition of thepeople has influenced 
the character of their historical painting; and 
it is to be remembered, that the French school 
of painting succeeded the establishment of the 
French drama. It is hence that they have ge- 
nerally selected the moment of theatrical effect 
— the moment of phrenzied passion, or unpa- 
ralleled exertion, and that their composition is 
distinguished by so many striking contrasts, 
and so laboured a display of momentary effect. 

The Flemish or Dutch school of painting 
•was neither addressed to the devotional nor 
the theatrical feelings of mankind; it was 
neither intended to awaken the sympathy of 
religious pity, nor excite the admiration of 
artificial dispositions — it was addressed to 
wealthy men of vulgar capacities, capable of 
appreciating only the merit of minute detail, 
or the faithfulness of exact imitation. It is 
hence that their painting possesses excellencies 
and defects of so peculiar a description; that 
they have carried the minuteness of finishing 
to so unparalleled a degree of perfection ; that 
the brilliancy of .their lights has thrown a 
splendour over the vulgarity of their subjects, 
and that they are in general so utterly destitute of 
all the refinement and sentiment which sprung 
from the devotional feelings of the Italian 
people. 

The subjects which the Dutch painters 
chose were subjects of low humour, calcu- 
lated to amuse a rich and uncultivated people: 
the subjects of the French school were heroic 
adventure, suited to the theatrical taste of a 
more elevated society: the subjects of the 
Italian school were the incidents of sacred 
history, suited to the devotional feelings of a 
religious people. In all, the subjects to which 
painting was applied, and the character of the 
art itself, was determined by the peculiar cir- 
cumstances or disposition of the people to 
whom it was addressed : so that, in these in- 
stances, there has really happened what Mr. 
Addison stated should ever be the case, that 
" the taste should not conform to the art, but 
the art to the taste." 

The object of statuary should ever be the 
same to which it was always confined by the 
ancients, viz. the representation of character. 
The very materials on which the sculptor has 
to operate, render his art unfit for the expres- 
sion either of emotion or passion ; and the 
figure, when finished, can bear none of the 
marks by which they are to be distinguished. 
It is a figure of cold, and pale, and lifeless 
marble, without the varied colour which emo- 
tion produces, or the living eye which passion 
animates. The eye is the feature which is 
expressive of present emotion ; it is it which 
varies with all the changes which the mind 
undergoes ; it is it which marks the difference 
between joy and sorrow, between love and 
hatred, between pleasure and pain, between 
life and death. But the eye, with all the end- 
less expressions which it bears, is lost to the 
sculptor ; its gaze must ever be cold and life- 
less to him; its fire is quenched in the stillness 
# . of the tomb. A statue, therefore, can never be 
expressive of living emotion ; it can never ex- 
press those transient feelings which mark the 



play of the living mind. It is an abstraction 
of character which has no relation to present 
existence ; a shadow in which all the perma- 
nent features of the mind are expressed, but 
none of the passions of the mind are shown : 
like the figures of snow, which the magic of 
Okba formed to charm the solitude of Leila's 
dwelling,<it bears the character of the human 
form, but melts at the warmth of human feeling. 

While such is the object to which statuary 
would appear to be destined, painting embraces 
a wider range, and is capable of more varied 
expression : it, is expressive of the living form; 
it paints the eye and opens the view of the 
present mind ; it imitates all the fleeting changes 
which constitute the signs of present emotion. 
It is not, therefore, an abstraction of character 
which the painter is to represent ; not an ideal 
form, expressive only of the qualities of per- 
manent character; but an actual being, alive 
to the impressions of present existence, and 
bound by the ties of present affection. It is in 
the delineation of these affections, therefore, 
that the power of the painter principally con- 
sists; in the representation, not of simple cha- 
racter, but of character influenced or subdued 
by emotion. It is the representation of the joy 
of youth, or the repose of age ; of the sorrow 
of innocence, or the penitence of guilt; of the 
tenderness of parental affection, or the gra- 
titude of filial love. In these, and a thousand 
other instances, the expression of the emotion 
constitutes the beauty of the picture ; it is that 
which gives the tone to the character which it 
is to bear ; it is that which strikes the chord 
which vibrates in every human heart. The 
object of the painter, therefore, is the ex- 
pression of emotion, of that emotion which 
is blended with the character of the mind 
which feels, and gives to that character the 
interest which belongs to the events of present 
existence. 

The object of the painter being the repre- 
sentation of emotion in all the varied situations 
which life produces, it follows, that every thing 
in his picture should be in unison with the 
predominant expression which he wishes it to 
bear ; that the composition should be as sim- 
ple as is consistent with the development of 
this expression ; and the colouring, such as 
accords with the character by which this emo- 
tion is distinguished. It is here that the genius 
of the artist is principally to be displayed, in 
the selection of such figures as suit the general 
impression which the whole is to produce; 
and the choice of such a tone of colouring, as 
harmonizes with the feeling of mind which it 
is his object to produce. The distraction of va- 
ried colours — the confusion of different figures — 
the contrast of opposite expressions, complete- 
ly destroy the effect of the composition ; they 
fix the mind to the observation of what is par- 
ticular in the separate parts, and prevent that 
uniform and general emotion which arises 
from the perception of one uniform expression 
in all the parts of which it is composed. It is 
in this very perception, however, that the source 
of the beauty is to be found ; it is in the unde- 
fined feeling to which it gives rise, that the 
delight of the emotion of taste consists. Like 
the harmony of sounds in musical composi- 



116 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



tion, it produces an effect, of which we are 
unable to give any account; but which we 
feel to be instantly destroyed by the jarring 
sound of a different note, or the discordant 
effect of a foreign expression. It is in the ne- 
glect of this great principle that the defect of 
many of the first pictures of modern limes is 
to be found — in the confused multitude of un- 
necessary»^figures — in the contradictory ex- 
pression of separate parts — in the distracting 
brilliancy of gorgeous colours : in the laboured 
display, in short, of the power of the artist, and 
the utter dereliction of the object of the art. 
The great secret, on the other hand, of the 
beauty of the most exquisite specimens of mo- 
dern art, lies in the simplicitij of expression 
which they bear, in their production of one 
uniform emotion, from all the parts of one 
harmonious composition. For the production 
of this unity of emotion the surest means will 
be found to consist in the selection of as few 
figures as is consistent with the development 
of the characteristic expression of the com- 
position ; and it is, perhaps, to this circum- 
stance, that we are to impute the unequalled 
charm which belongs to the pictures of single 
figures, or small groups, in which a single ex- 
pression is alone attempted. 

Both painting and sculpture are wholly 
unfit for the representation of passion, as 
expressed by motion ; and that to attempt to 
delineate it, necessarily injures the effect of 
the composition. Neither, it is clear, can ex- 
press actual motion: they should not attempt, 
therefore, to represent those passions of the 
mind which motion alone is adequate to ex- 
press. The attempt to delineate violent 
passion, accordingly, uniformly produces a 
painful or a aidiculous effect: it does not 
even convey any conception of the passion 
itself, because its character is not known by 
the expression of any single moment, but by 
the rapid changes which result from the per- 
turbed state into which the mind is thrown. 
It is hence that passion seems so ridiculous 
when seen at a distance, or without the cause 
of its existence being known : and it is hence, 
that if a human figure were petrified in any 
of the stages of passion it would have so 
painful or insane an appearance. As painting, 
therefore, cannot exhibit the rapid changes 
in which the real expression of passion con- 
sists, it should not attempt its delineation at 
all. Its real object is, the expression of emotion, 
of that more settled state of the human mind 
when the changes of passion are gone — when 



the countenance is moulded into the expres- 
sion of permanent feeling, and the existence 
of this feeling is marked by the permanent 
expression which the features have assumed. 

The greatest artists of ancient and modern 
times, accordingly, have selected, even in the 
representation of violent exertion, that mo- 
ment of temporary repose, when a permanent 
expression is given to the figure. Even the 
Laocoon is not in a state of actual exertion : 
it is represented in that moment when the last 
effort has been made ; when straining against 
an invincible power has given to the figure 
the aspect at last of momentary repose ; and 
when despair has placed its settled mark on 
the expression of the countenance. The fight- 
ing Gladiator is not in a state of present acti- 
vity, but in that moment when he is preparing 
his mind for the future and final contest, and 
when, in this deep concentration of his 
powers, the pause which the genius of the 
artist has given, expresses more distinctly to 
the eye of the spectator the determined cha- 
racter of the combatant, than all that the 
struggle or agony of the combat itself could 
afterwards display. 

The Grecian statues in the Louvre may be 
considered as the most perfect works of 
human genius, and ever}'- one must feel those 
higher conceptions of human form, and of 
human nature, which the taste of ancient sta- 
tuary had formed. It is not in the moment of 
action that it has represented man, but in the 
moment after action, when the tumult of 
passion has ceased, and all that is great or 
dignified in moral nature remains. It is not 
Hercules in the moment of earthly combat, 
when every muscle was swollen with the 
strength he was exerting; but Hercules, in 
the moment of transformation into a nobler 
being, when the exertion of mortality has 
passed, and his powers seem to repose in the 
tranquillity of heaven ; not Apollo, when 
straining his youthful strength in drawing the 
bow; but Apollo, when the weapon was dis- 
charged, watching, with un exulting eye, its 
resistless course, and serene in the enjoy- 
ment of immortal power. And inspired by 
these mighty examples, it is not St. Michael 
when struggling with the demon, and marring 
the beauty of angelic form by the violence of 
earthly passion, that Raphael represents ; but 
St. Michael, in the moment of unruffled tri- 
umph, restraining the might of almighty 
power, and radiant with the beams of eternal 
mercy. 






TYROL. 



117 



TYROL. 



It is a common observation, that the cha- 
racter of a people is in a great measure influ- 
enced by their local situation, and the nature 
of the scenery in which they are placed ; and 
it is impossible to visit the 2'yroZ -without being 
convinced of the truth of the remark. The 
entrance of the mountain region is marked 
by as great a diversity in the aspect and man- 
ners- of the population, as in the external 
objects Avith which they are surrounded ; nor 
is the transition, from the level plain of Lom- 
bardy to the rugged precipices of the Alps, 
greater than from the squalid crouching ap- 
pearance of the Italian peasant to the mar- 
tial air of the free-born mountaineer. 

This transition is so remarkable, that it 
attracts the attention of the most superficial 
observer. In travelling over the states of the 
north of Italy, he meets everywhere with the 
symptoms of poverty, meanness, and abject 
depression. The beautiful slopes which de- 
scend from the Alps, clothed with all that is 
beautiful and luxuriant in nature, are inha- 
bited for the most part by an indigent and 
squalid population, among whom you seek 
in vain for any share of that bount} r with 
which Providence has blessed their country - 
The rich plains of Lombardy are cultivated 
by a peasantry whose condition is hardly 
superior to that of the Irish cottager; and 
Avhile the effeminate proprietors of the soil 
waste their days in inglorious indolence at 
Milan and Verona, their unfortunate tenantry 
are exposed to the merciless rapacity of bai- 
liffs and stewards, intent only upon augment- 
ing the fortunes of their absent superiors. In 
towns, the symptoms of general distress are, 
if possible, still more apparent. While the 
opera and the Corso are crowded with splen- 
did equipages, the lower classes of the people 
are involved in hopeless indigence : — The 
churches and public streets are crowded with 
beggars, whose wretched appearance marks 
but too truly the reality of the distress of 
which they complain — while their abject and 
crouching manner indicates the entire politi- 
cal degradation to which they have so long 
been subjected. At Venice, in particular, the 
total stagnation of employment, and the misery 
of the people, strikes a stranger the more 
forcibly from the contrast which they afford 
to the unrivalled splendour of her edifices, 
and the glorious recollections with which her 
history is filled. As he admires the gorgeous 
magnificence of the piazza St. Marco, or winds 
through the noble palaces that still rise with 
undecaying beauty from the waters of the 
Adriatic, he no longer wonders at the astonish- 
ment with which the stern crusaders of the 
north gazed at her marble piles, and feels the 
rapture of the Roman emperor, when he ap- 
proached, "where Venice sat in state throned 
on her hundred isles;" but in the mean and 

♦ Blackwood's Magazine, Sept. 1810. Written from 
notes made during a tour in Tyrol in the preceding year. 



pusillanimous race by which they are now 
inhabited, he looks in vain for the descendants 
of those great men who leapt T^orn their 
gallies on the towers of Constantinople, and 
stood forth as the bulwark of Christendom 
against the Ottoman power; and still less, 
when he surveys the miserable population 
with which he is surrounded, can he go back 
in imagination to those days of liberty and 
valour, when 

" Venice once wa^ dear, 

The pleasant place of all festivity, 

The revel of the eart'i, the masque of Italy." 

From such scenes of national distress, and 
from the melancholy spectacle of despotic 
power ruling in the abode of ancient freedom, 
it is with delight that the traveller enters the 
fastnesses of the Alps, where liberty has im- 
printed itself in indelible characters on the 
character and manners of the people. In 
every part of the Tyrol the bold and martial 
air of the peasantry, their athletic form and 
fearless eye, bespeak the freedom and inde- 
pendence which they have enjoyed. In most 
instances the people go armed; and daring 
the summer and autumn they wear a musket 
hung over their shoulders, or some other of- 
fensive weapon. Universally ihey possess 
offensive weapons and are trained early to the 
use of them, both by the expeditions in search 
of game, of which they are passionately fond 
— and by the annual duty of serving in the 
trained bands, to which every man capable of 
bearing arms is, without exception, subjected. 
It was in consequence of this circumstance, 
in a great measure, that they were able to 
make so vigorous a resistance, with so little 
preparation, to the French invasion ; and it is 
to the same cause that is chiefly to be ascribed 
that intrepid and martial air by which they are 
distinguished from almost every other peasant- 
ry in Europe. 

Their dress is singularly calculated to add to 
this impression. That of the men consists, 
for the most part, of a broad-brimmed hat, 
ornamented by a feather; a jacket tight to the 
shape, with a broad girdle, richly ornamented, 
fastened in front by a large buckle of costly 
workmanship; black leather breeches and 
gaiters, supported over the shoulders by two 
broad bands, generally of scarlet or blue, 
which are joined in front by a cross belt of 
the same colour. They frequently wear pis- 
tols in their girdle, and have either a rifle or 
cloak slung over their shoulders. The colours 
of the dresses vary in the different parts of 
the country, as they do in the cantons of Swit- 
zerland; but they are always of brilliant 
colours, and ornamented, particularly round 
the breast, with a degree of richness which 
appears extraordinary in the labouring classes 
of the community. Their girdles and clasps, 
with the other more costly parts of their cloth- 
ing, are handed down from generation to 
generation, and worn on Sundays and festi- 



118 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



vals, with scrupulous care, by the great-gran d- 
sons of those by whom they were originally 
purchased. 

The dress of the women is grotesque and 
siDgular in the extreme. Generally speaking, 
the waists are worn lonsr. and the petticoats 
exceedingly short; and the colours of their 
clothes are as bright and various as those of 
the men. r Bpp persons habituated however to 
the easy and flowing attire of our own coun- 
trywomen, the form and style of this dress 
appears particularly unbecoming; nor can we 
altogether divest ourselves of tho^e ideas of 
ridicule which we are accustomed to attach to 
such antiquated forms, both on the stage and 
in the pictures of the last generation. Among 
the peasant girls, you often meet with much 
beauty; but, for the most part, the women of 
the Tyrol a.re not nearly so striking as the 
men; an observation which seems applicable 
to most mountainous countries, and to none 
more than to the West Highlands of Scotland. 

It is of more importance to observe that the 
Tyrolese peasantry are everywhere courteous 
and pleasing in their demeanor, both towards 
strangers and their own countrymen. In this 
respect, their manners have sometimes been 
misrepresented. If a traveller addresses them 
in a style of insolence or reproach, which is too 
often used towards the lower orders in France 
or Italy, he will in all probability meet with a 
repulse, and if the insult is carried further, he 
may, perhaps, have cause permanently to re- 
pent the indiscretion of his language. For the 
Tyrolese are a free people ; and though sub- 
ject to a despotic government, their own state 
preserves its liberty as entire as if it acknow- 
ledged no superior to its own authority. The 
peasantry too are of a keen and enthusiastic 
temper; grateful to the last degree for kind- 
ness or condescension, but feelingly alive on 
the other hand to any thing like contempt or 
derision in the manner of their superiors. 
Dwelling too in a country where all are equal, 
and where few noble families or great proprie- 
tors are to be found, they are little accustomed 
to brook insults of any kind, or to submit to 
language from strangers which they would 
not tolerate from their own countrymen. A 
similar temper of mind may be observed 
among the Scotch Highlanders; it has been 
noticed in the mountains of Nepaul and Cabul, 
and has long characterized the Arabian tribes ; 
and indeed it belongs generally to all classes 
of the people in those situations where the 
debasing effects of the progress of wealth, and 
the division of labour have not been felt, and 
where, from whatever causes, the individuals 
in the lower ranks of life are called into active 
and strenuous exertion, and compelled to act 
for themselves in the conduct of life. 

If a stranger, however, behaves towards the 
Tyrolese peasantry with the ordinary courtesy 
with which an Englishman is accustomed to 
address the people of his own country, there 
is no part of the world in which he will meet 
with a more cordial reception, or where he will 
find a more affectionate or grateful return for 
the smallest acts of kindness. Among these 
untutored people, the gratitude for any good 
deed on the part of their superiors, is not, as m 



more civilized states, the result of any habitual 
awe for their rank, or of any selfish considera- 
tion of the advantage to be derived from culti- 
vating their good will. It is the spontane- 
ous effusion of benevolent feeling, of feeling 
springing from theuncorrupted dictates of their 
hearts, and enhanced by the feudal attachment 
with which they naturally are inclined to re- 
gard those in a higher rank than themselves. 
Though the Tyrolese are entirely free, and 
though the emperor possesses but a nominal 
sovereignty over them, yet the warm feelings 
of feudal fidelity have nowhere maintained 
their place so inviolate as among their moun- 
tains; and this feeling of feudal respect and 
affection is extended by them to the higher 
classes, whenever they behave towards them 
with any thing like kindness or gentleness of 
manners. It has arisen from the peculiar 
situation of their country, in which there are 
few of the higher orders, where the peasantry 
possess almost the entire land of which it 
consists, and where, at the same time, the 
bonds of feudal attachment have been preserved 
with scrupulous care, for political reasons, by 
their indulgent government, that the peasantry- 
have united the independence and pride of re- 
publican states with the devoted and romantic 
fidelity to their sovereign, which characterizes 
the inhabitants of monarchical realms. Like 
the peasants of Switzerland, they regard them- 
selves as composing the state, and would dis- 
dain to crouch before any other power. Like 
the Highlanders of Scotland, they are actuated 
by the warmest and most enthusiastic loyalty 
towards their sovereign, and like them they 
have not scrupled on many occasions to ex- 
pose their lives and fortunes in a doubtful and 
often hopeless struggle in his cause. From 
these causes has arisen, that singular mixture 
of loyalty and independence, of stubbornness 
and courtesy, of republican pride and chival- 
rous fidelity, by which their character is dis- 
tinguished from that of every other people in 
Europe. 

Honesty may be regarded as a leading fea- 
ture in the character of the Tyrolese, as indeed 
it is of all the German people. In no situation 
and under no circumstances is a stranger in 
danger of being deceived by them. They will, 
in many instances, sacrifice their own in- 
terests rather than betray what they consider so 
sacred a duty as that of preserving inviolate 
their faith with foreigners. In this respect 
their conduct affords a very striking contrast 
to the conduct of the French and Italians, 
whose rapacity and meanness have long been 
observed and commented on by every traveller. 
Yet, amidst all our indignation at that charac- 
ter, it may well be doubted, whether it does not 
arise naturally and inevitably from the system 
of government to which they have had the 
misfortune to be subjected. Honesty is a virtue 
practised and esteemed among men who have 
a character to support, and who feel their own 
importance in the scale of society. Generally 
it will be found to prevail in proportion to the 
weight which is attached to individual charac- 
ter; that is, to the freedom which the people 
enjoy. Cheating, on the other hand, is the 
usual and obvious resource of slaves, of men 



TYROL. 



119 



who have never been taught to respect them- 
selves, and whose personal qualities are en- 
tirely overlooked by the higher orders of the 
state. If England and Switzerland and the 
Tyrol had been subjected by any train of un- 
fortunate events to the same despotism which 
nas degraded the character of the lower orders 
in France and Italy, they would probably have 
had as little reason as their more servile neigh- 
bours to have prided themselves on the honesty 
and integrity of their national character. 

Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the 
character of the Tyrolese, is their uniform 
piety, a feeling which is nowhere so univer- 
sally diffused as among their sequestered val- 
leys. The most cursory view of the country 
is sufficient to demonstrate the strong hold 
which religion has taken of the minds of the 
peasantry. Chapels are built almost at every 
half mile on the principal roads, in which the 
passenger may perform his devotions, or which 
may awaken the thoughtless mind to a recol- 
lection of its religious duties. The rude efforts 
of art have there been exerted to pourtray the 
leading events in our Saviour's life; and in- 
numerable figures, carved in wood, attest, in 
every part of the country, both the barbarous 
taste of the people, and the fervour of their 
religious impressions. Even in the higher 
parts of the mountains, where hardly any ves- 
tiges of human cultivation are to be found, in 
the depth of untrodden forests, or on the sum- 
mit of seemingly inaccessible cliffs, the symbols 
of devotion are to be found, and the cross rises 
everywhere amidst the wilderness, as if to 
mark the triumph of Christianity over the 
greatest obstacles of nature. Nor is it only in 
solitudes or deserts that the vestiges of their 
devotion are to be found. In the valleys and 
in the cities it still preserves its ancient sway 
over the people. On the exterior of most 
houses the legend of some favourite saint, or 
the sufferings of some popular martyr, are to 
be found ; and the poor inhabitant thinks him- 
self secure from the greater evils of life under 
the guardianship of their heavenly aid. In 
every valley numerous spires are to be seen 
rising amidst the beauty of the surround! tg 
scene, and reminding the traveller of the piety 
of its simple inhabitants. On Sunda} r the tvholc 
people flock to church in their neatest and 
gayest attire'; and so great is the number who 
thus frequent these places of worship, that it 
is not unfrequent to see the peasants kneeling 
on the turf in the churchyard where mass is 
performed, from being unable to find a place 
within its walls. Regularly in the evening 
prayers are read in every family ; and the 
traveller who passes through the villa?- a! 
the hour of twilight, often sees through their 
latticed windows the young and the old kneel- 
ing together round their humble fire, or is 
warned of his approach to human habitation, by 
hearing their evening hymns stealing th r ■ ugh 
the silence and solitude of the forest. 

Nor is their devotion confined to acts of 
external homage, or the observance of a 'in- 
meaning ceremony. Debased as their religion 
is by the absurdities and errors of the Gal 
form of worship, and mixed up as it is with in- 
numerable legends and visionary tales, it yet 



preserves enough of the pure spirit of its divine 
origin to influence, in a great degree, the con- 
duct of their private lives. The Tyrolese have 
not yet learned that immorality in private life 
may be pardoned by the observance of certain 
ceremonies, or that the profession of faith 
purchases a dispensation from the rules of 
obedience. These, the natural and the usual 
attendants of the Catholic faith in richer states, 
have n^>t reached their poor and sequestered 
valleys. The purchase of absolution by money 
is there almost unknown. In no part of the 
world are the domestic or conjugal duties 
more strictly or faithfully observed: and in 
none do the parish priests exercise a stricter 
or more conscientious control over the conduct 
of their flock. Their influ*ence is not weakened, 
as in a more advanced state of society, by a 
discordance of religioua tenets; nor is the con- 
sideration due to this sacred function, lost in 
the homage paid to rank, or opulence, or power. 
Placed in the midst of a people who acknow- 
ledge no superiors, and who live almost univer- 
sally from the produce of their little domains, 
and strangers alike to the arts of luxury, and 
the seductions of fashion, the parish-priest is 
equally removed from temptation himself, 
and relieved from guarding against the great 
sources of wickedness in others. He is at 
once the priest, and the judge of his parish; 
the infallible criterion in matters of faith, and 
ihe umpire, in the occasional disputes which 
happen among them. Hence has arisen that re- 
markable veneration for their spiritual guides, 
by which the peasantry are distinguished ; and 
it is to this cause that we are to ascribe the' 
singular fact that their priests were their prin- 
cipal leaders in the war with France, and that 
while their nobles almost universally kept 
back, the people followed with alacrity the cal'i 
of their pastors, to take up arms in support of 
the Austrian cause. 

In one great virtue, the peasants in this 
country (in common it must be owned with 
most Catholic states) are particularly worthy 
of imitation. The virtue of charity, which is 
too much overlooked in many Protestant 
kingdoms, but which the Catholic religion so 
uniformly and sedulously enjoins, is there 
practised, to the greatest degree, and by all 
classes of the people. Perhaps there are few 
countries in which, owing to the absence of 
manufactures and great towns, poverty ap- 
pears so rarely, or in which the .'p-eat body of 
the people live so universally in a state of 
comfort. Yet, whenever wretchedness does ap- 
pear, it meets with immediate and effectual 
relief. Nor is their charity confined to actual 
mendicants, but extends to all whom accident 
or misfortune has involved in casual distress. 
Each valley supports its own poor; and the 
little store of every cottage, like the meal of 
the Irish cottager, is always open to any one 
who really requires its assistance. This be- 
nevolent disposition springs, no doubt, in a 
great measure from the simple state in which 
society exists among these remote districts; 
but it is to be ascribed not less to the efforts 
of the clergy, who incessantly enjoin this great 
Christian duty, and point it out as the chief 
means of atoning for past transgressions. 



120 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



Much as we may lament the errors of the 
Catholic, and clearly as we may see its ten- 
dency (at least in its more corrupt forms) to 
nourish private immorality, and extinguish 
civil liberty, it is ) r et impossible to deny, that, 
in the great duty of Christian charity, which 
it invariably enjoins, it has atoned for a multi- 
tude of sins ; and to suspect that amidst the 
austerity and severity of the presbyterian dis- 
cipline, we have too much lost sight of the 
charity of the gospel; and that with us a pre- 
tended indignation for the vices which involve 
so many of the poor in distress, too often serves 
as a pretext for refusing to minister that relief 
to which, from whatever cause it has arisen, 
our Saviour tells 4is that it is entitled. 

There is something singularly delightful in 
the sway which religion thus maintains in 
these savage and sequestered regions. In 
ancient times, we are informed these moun- 
tains were inhabited by the Rhcctians, the 
fiercest and most barbarous of the tribes, 
who dwelt in the fastnesses of the mountains, 
and of whose savage manners Livy has given 
so striking an account in his description of 
Hannibal's passage of the Alps. Many Roman 
legions' were impeded in their progress, or 
thinned of their numbers, by these cruel bar- 
barians ; and even after they were reduced to 
subjection, by the expedition of Drusus, it was 
still esteemed a service of the utmost danger to 
leave the high road, or explore the remote re- 
cesses of the country. Hence the singular fact, 
almost incredible in modern times, that even 
in the days of Pliny, several hundred years 
after the first passage of these mountains by 
the Roman troops, the source of both the Rhine 
and the Iser were unknown ; and that the na- 
turalist of Rome was content to state, a century 
after the establishment of a Roman station at 
Sion, that the Rhone took its rise " in the most 
hidden parts of the earth, in the region of per- 
petual night, amidst forests for ever inacces- 
sible to human approach." Hence it is too, 
that almost all the inscriptions on the votive 
offerings which have been discovered in the 
ruins of the temple of Jupiter Penninus, at the 
summit of the great St. Bernard, and many of 
which come down to a late period in the history 
of the empire, speak of the gratitude of the pas- 
sengers for having escaped the extraordinary 
perils of the journey. The Roman authors al- 
ways speak of the Alps with expressions of dis- 
may and horror, as the scenes of only winter and 
desolation, and as the abodes of barbarous tribes. 
"Nives coelo prope immistoe, tecta informia im- 
posita rupibus pecora jumenta que torrida fri- 
gore homines intonsi etinculti,animaliainani- 
maque omnia rigentia gelu cetera visu quam 
dictu foediora terrorem renovarunt."* No at- 
tempt accordingly appears to have been made 
by any of the Romans in later times to explore 
the remoter recesses of the mountains now so 
familiar to every traveller ; but while the empe- 
rors constructed magnificent highways across 
their summits to connect Italy with the northern 
provinces of the empire, they suffered the val- 
leys on either side to remain in their pristine 
state of barbarism, and hastened into remoter 

* Liv. lib. 21. 



districts to spread the cultivation of which the 
Alps, with their savage inhabitants., seemed to 
them incapable. 

What is it then which has wrought so won- 
derful a change in the manners, the habits, 
and the condition of the inhabitants of those 
desolate regions ] What is it which has spread 
cultivation through wastes, deemed in ancient 
times inaccessible to human improvement, and 
humanized the manners of a people remarkable 
only, under the Roman sway, for the ferocity 
and barbarism of their institutions 1 From 
what cause has it happened that those savage 
mountaineers, who resisted all the acts of civi- 
lization by which the Romans established their 
sway over mankind, and continued, even to the 
overthrow of the empire, impervious to all the 
efforts of ancient improvement, should, in later 
times, have so entirely changed their charac- 
ter, and have appeared, even from the first 
dawn of modern civilization, mild and humane 
in their character and manners'? From what 
but from the influence of Religion — of that re- 
ligion which calmed the savage feelings of the 
human mind, and spread its beneficial in- 
fluence among the remotest habitations of men; 
and which prompted its disciples to leave the 
luxuries and comforts of southern climates, to 
diffuse knowledge and humanity through in- 
hospitable realms, and spread, even amidst the 
regions of winter and desolation, the light and 
the blessings of a spiritual faith. 

Universally it has been observed through- 
out the whole extent of the Alps, that the 
earliest vestiges of civilization, and the first 
traces of order and industry which appeared 
after the overthrow of the Roman empire, were 
to be found in the immediate neighbourhood 
of the religious establishments; and it is to 
the unceasing efforts of the clergy during the 
centuries of barbarism which followed that 
event, that the judicious historian of Switzer- 
land ascribes the early civilization and hu- 
mane disposition of the Helvetic tribes.* Placed 
as we are at a distance from the time when 
this great change was effected, and accustomed 
to manners in which its influence has long 
ago been established, we can hardly conceive 
the difficulties with which the earlier profess- 
ors of our faith had to struggle in subduing 
the cruel propensities, and calming the re- 
vengeful passions, that subsisted among the 
barbarous tribes who had conquered Europe; 
nor would we, perhaps, be inclined to credit 
the accounts of the heroic sacrifices which 
w r ere then made by numbers of great and good 
men who devoted themselves to the conver- 
sion of the Alpine tribes, did not their institu- 
tions remain to this day as a monument of 
their virtue ; and did we not still see a number 
of benevolent men who seclude themselves 
from the world, and dwell in the regions of 
perpetual snow, in the hope of rescuing a few 
individuals from a miserable death. When 
the traveller on the summit of the St. Bernard" 
reads the warm and touching expressions of 
gratitude with which the Roman travellers re- 
corded in the temple of Jupiter their gratitude 
for having escaped the dangers of the pass,. 



* Planta, vol. i. p. 17, Sec. 



TYROL. 



121 



even in the days of Adrian and the Antonines, 
and reflects on the perfect safety with which 
he can now traverse the remotest recesses of 
the Alps, he will think with thankfulness of 
the religion by which this wonderful change 
has been effected, and with veneration of the 
saint whose name has for a thousand years 
been affixed to the pass where his influence 
first reclaimed the people from their barbarous 
life ; and in crossing the defile of Mount Bren- 
ner, where the abbey of Wilten first offered 
an asylum to the pilgrim, he will feel, with a 
late eloquent and amiable writer, how fortunate 
it is "that religion has penetrated these fast- 
nesses, impervious to human power, and spread 
her influence over solitudes where human laws 
are of no avail ; that where precaution is impos- 
sible and resistance useless, she spreads her in- 
visible asgis over the traveller, and conducts 
him secure under her protection through all the 
dangers of his way. When, in such situations, 
he reflects upon his security, and recollects 
that these mountains, so savage and so well 
adapted to the purposes of murderers and 
banditti, have not, in the memory of man, 
been stained with human blood, he ought to 
do justice to the cause, and gratefully acknow- 
ledge the beneficial influence of religion. Im- 
pressed with these reflections, he will behold, 
with indulgence, perhaps even with interest, 
the crosses which frequently mark the brow of 
a precipice, and the little chapels hollowed out 
of the rock where the road is narrowed ; he 
will consider them as so many pledges of se- 
curity; 'and rest assured, that, as long as the 
pious mountaineer continues to adore the 
'Good Shepherd,' and to beg the prayer of the 
'afflicted mother,' he will never cease to be- 
friend the traveller, nor to discharge the duties 
of hospitality."* 

It must be admitted, at the same time, 
that the Tyrolese are in the greatest degree 
superstitious, and that their devotion, warm 
and enthusiastic as it is, is frequently mis- 
placed in the object of its worship. There is 
probably no country in which the belief in 
supernatural powers, in the gift of prophecy 
to particular individuals, and the agency of 
spiritual beings in human affairs, is more uni- 
versally established. It forms, indeed, part of 
their religious creed, and blends in the most 
singular manner with the legendary tales and 
romantic adventures which they have attached 
to the history of their saints. But we would 
err most egregiously, if we imagined that this 
superstition with which the whole people are 
tinged, savours at all of a weak or timid dis- 
position, or that it is any indication of a de- 
graded national character. It partakes of the 
savage character of the scenery in which they 
dwell, and is ennobled by the generous senti- 
ments which prevail among the lowest classes 
of the people. The same men who imagine 
that they see the crucifix' bend its head in the 
dusk of the evening, and who hear the rattle 
of arms amid the solitude of the mountains, 
are fearless of death when it approaches them 
through the agency of human power. It is a 
strong feeling of religion, and a disposition to 

* Eustace, i. 98. 
16 



see, in all the events by which they are sur- 
rounded, the marks of divine protection, which 
is the foundation of their superstition; and the 
more strongly that they feel reliance on spi- 
ritual interposition, the less inclined are. they 
to sink under the reverses of a temporary 
life. 

There is a wide distinction between supersti- 
tion and the belief in sorcery or witchcraft. 
The latter is the growth of weakness and 
credulity, and prevails most among men of a 
timid disposition, or among ignorant and bar- 
barous nations. The former, though it is 
founded on ignorance, and yields to the ex- 
perience and knowledge of mankind, yet 
springs from the noblest principles of our 
nature, and is allied to every thing by which 
the history of our species has been dignified 
in former times. It will not be pretended, that 
the Grecian states were deficient either in 
splendour of talents or heroism of conduct, 
yet superstition, in its grossest form, attached 
itself to all their thoughts, and influenced alike 
the measures of their statesmen and the dreams 
of their philosophers. The Roman writers 
placed in that very feeling which we would 
call superstition, the most honourable charac- 
teristic of their people, and ascribed to it the 
memorable series of triumphs by which the 
history of the republic was distinguished. 
" Nulla inquam republia aut major aut sancticr 
fuit," says Livy ; and it is to their deep sense 
of religion that Cicero imputes the unparalleled 
success with which the arms of the republic 
were attended.* Yet the religious feeling which 
was so intimately blended with the Roman 
character, and which guided the actions and 
formed the minds of the great men who adorned 
her history, was for the most part little else than 
that firm reliance on the special interposition 
of Providence, which is the origin of supersti- 
tion. The Saracens, during the wars which 
followed the introduction of the Mohammedan 
faith, were superstitious to the highest degree, 
yet with how many brilliant and glorious qua- 
lities was their character distinguished, when 
they triumphantly carried the Crescent of 
Mohammed from the snows of the Himmaleh to 
the shores of the Atlantic. The crusaders even 
of the highest rank, believed firmly in the mi- 
racles and prophecies which were said to 
have accompanied the march of the Christian 
army; nor is it perhaps possible to find in 
history an example of such extraordinary con- 
sequences as followed the supposed discovery 
of the Holy Lance in the siege of Antioch; yet 
who will deny to these great men the praise 
of heroic enterprise and noble manners! 
Human nature has nowhere appeared in such 
glorious colours as in the Jerusalem Delivered 
of Tasso, where the firmness and constancy 
of the Roman patriot is blended with the 
courtesy of chivalrous manners, and the ex- 
alted piety of Christian faith ; yet supersti- 
tion formed a part of the character of all his 
heroes ; the courage of Tancred failed when 
he heard the voice of Clorinda in the charmed 
tree ; and the bravest of his comrades trembled 
when they entered the enchanted forest, vvheici 



* Liv. lib. i. ; Cic. de Off. lib. i. c. 11. 



122 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



"Esce all hor de la selva un suon rppente, 
Che par rimbombo di terren che treme, 
E'l mormorar degli Austri in In i si sente, 
E'l pianto d'onda, che fra scogli geinc." 

Examples of this kind may teach us, that 
although superstition in the age and among the 
society in which we live is the mark of a feeble 
mind, yet that in less enlightened ages or parts 
of the world, it is the mark only of an ardent 
and enthusiastic disposition, such as is the 
foundation of every thing that is great or 
generous in character, or elevated and spiritual 
in feeling. A people, in fact, strongly impressed 
with religious feeling, and to. whom experi- 
ence has not taught the means by which Pro- 
vidence acts in human affairs, must be supersti- 
tious; for it is the universal propensity of un- 
instructed man, to imagine that a special in- 
terposition of the Deity is necessary to accom- 
plish the manifestation of his will, or the ac- 
complishment of his purposes in human affairs. 
Nor is there any thing impossible or absurd 
in such a supposition. It might have been, 
that future events were to be revealed on par- 
ticular occasions to mankind, as they were 
during the days of ancient prophecy, and that 
the course of human events was to be main- 
tained by special interpositions of divine power. 
Experience alone teaches us, that this is not 
the case ; it alone shows, that the intentions 
of Providence are carried into effect through 
the intervention of human agents, and that 
the laws of the moral world work out their 
own accomplishment by the voluntary acts 
of free agents. When we see how difficult it 
is to make persons even of cultivated under- 
standing comprehend this subject even in the 
present age, and with all the experience which 
former times have furnished, we may cease 
to wonder at the superstition which prevails 
among the peasants of the Tyrol; we may 
believe, that situated as they are, it is the na- 
tural effusion of a pious spirit untaught by the 
experience of other ages ; and we may discern, 
in the extravagancies of their legendary creed, 
not less than in the sublime piety of Newton, 
the operation of those common laws by which 
man is bound to his Creator. 

The scenery of Tyrol, and of the adjacent 
provinces of Styria and Carinthia, is singular- 
ly adapted to nourish romantic and supersti- 
tious ideas among the peasantry. In every 
part of the world the grandeur of mountain 
scenery has been found to be the prolific parent 
of superstition. It was the mists, and the blue 
lakes, and the sounding cataracts of Caledonia, 
which gave birth to the sublime but gloomy 
dreams of Ossian. The same cause has 
operated to a still greater degree among the 
Alps of Tyrol. The sublimity of the objects 
with which man is there surrounded — the 
resistless power of the elements which he 
finds continually in action — the utter insig- 
nificance of his own species, when compared 
with the gigantic objects in which he is placed, 
conspire to produce that distrust of himself, 
and that disposition to cling to higher powers, 
which is the foundation of superstitious feel- 
ing. In cities and in plains, the labour of 
man effaces inr% certain degree these impres- 
sions ; the works which he has there accumu- 



lated, come to withdraw the attention from the 
at magnificence of nature; while the 
weakness of the individual is forgotten in the 
aggregate force of numbers, or in the distrac- 
tions of civilized life. But amidst the solitude 
of the Alps no such change can take place. 
The greatest works of man appear there as 
nothing amidst the stupendous objects of na- 
ture ; the distractions of artificial society arc 
unknown amongst its simple inhabitants; and 
the indi vid ual is left in solitude to receive the im- 
pressions which the sublime scenery in which 
he is placed is fitted to produce. Upon minds 
so circumstanced the changes of external na- 
ture come to be considered as the immediate 
work of some invisible power; the shadows 
that fall in the lakes at sunrise, are interpreted 
as the indication of the approach of hostile 
bands — the howl of the winds through the 
forests is thought to be the lamentations of the 
dead, who are expiating their sins — and the 
mists that flit over the summits of the moun- 
tains, seem to be the distant skirts of vast 
armies borne in the whirlwind, and treading 
in the storm. 

The Gothic ruins with which the Tyrol is 
filled, contribute in a remarkable manner to 
keep alive these superstitious feelings. In 
many of the valk-ys old castles of vast dimen- 
sions are perched on the summit of lofty crags, 
or raise their mouldering towers high on the 
mountains above the aged forests with which 
they are surrounded. These castles, once the 
abode of feudal power, have long since been 
abandoned, or have gradually gone to decay, 
without being actually dismantled by the pro- 
prietors. With all of them the people connect 
some romantic or terrible exploit ; and the 
bloody deeds of feudal anarchy are remem- 
bered with terror by the peasants who dwell 
in the villages at their feet. Lights are often 
observed at night in towers which have been 
uninhabited for centuries ; and bloody figures 
have been distinctly seen to flit through their 
deserted halls. The armour which still hangs 
on the walls in many of the greater castles, 
has been observed to move, and the plumes 
to wave, when the Tyrolese army were victo- 
rious in war. Groans are still heard in the 
neighbourhood of the dungeons where the vic- 
tims of feudal tyranny were formerly slain: 
and the cruel baron, who persecuted his peo- 
ple in his savage passion for the chase, is 
often heard to shriek in the forests of the 
Unterberg, and to howl as he flies from the 
dogs, whom he had trained to the scent of 
human blood. 

Superstitions, too, of a gentler and more holy 
kind, have arisen from the devout feelings of 
the people, and the associations connected with 
particular spots where persons of extraordi- 
nary sanctity have dwelt. In many of the 
farthest recesses of the mountains, on the verge 
of perpetual desolation, hermits in former times 
fixed their abode ; and the imagination of the 
peasants still fancies that their spirits hover 
around the spot where their earthly trials were 
endured. Shepherds who have passed in the 
gloom of the evening by the cell where the 
bones of a saint are laid, relate that they dis- 
tinctly heard his voice as he repeated his 



TYROL. 



123 



evening prayers, and saw his form as he knelt l 
before the crucifix which the piety of succeed- ; 
ing ages had erected in his hermitage. The j 
image of many a patron saint has been seen ! 
to shed tears, when a reverse has happened to j 
the Tyrolese arms ; and the garlands which j 
are hung round the crosses of the Virgin wither | 
when the hand which raised them has fallen 
in battle. Peasants who have been driven by 
a storm to take shelter in the little chapels 
which are scattered over the country, have 
seen the crucifix bow its head; and solemn 
music is heard at the hour of vespers, in the 
higher chapels of the mountains. The distant 
pealing of the organ, and the chant of innu- 
merable voices is there distinctly perceptible ; 
and the peasant, when returning at night from 
the. chase, often trembles when he beholds fu- 
nereal processions, clothed in white, marching 
in silence through the gloom of the forests, or 
slowly moving on the clouds that float over 
the summit of the mountains. 

A country so circumstanced, abounding with 
every thing that is errand and beautiful in na- 
tural scenery, filled with Gothic castles, over 
which ruin has long ago thrown her softening 
hand, peopled by the phantoms of an extrava- 
gant yet sublime superstition, and still inha- 
bited by a valiant and enthusiastic people, 
seems of all others to be the fit theatre of poeti- 
cal fancy. It is truly extraordinary therefore, 
that no poet has appeared to glean the legends 
and ballads that are scattered through this in- 
teresting country, to perpetuate the aerial beings 
with which superstition has filled its wilds, 
and to dignify its mouldering castles with the 
recital of the many heroic and romantic ad- 
ventures which have occurred within their 
walls. When we recollect the unparalleled 
interest which the genius of the present day 
has given to the traditions and the character 
of the Scottish people, it is impossible not to 
regret, that no kindred mind has immortalized 
the still more wild and touching incidents that 
have occurred amidst the heroic inhabitants 
and sublime scenery of the Tyrol Alps. Let 
us hope, that the military despotism of Austria 
will not long continue to smother the genius, 
by restraining the freedom of those higher 
classes of her people where poetical talents are 
to be found; and that, before the present tra- 
ditions are forgotten, or the enthusiasm which 
the war has excited is subsided, there may yet 
arise the Scott of the south of Europe. 

The great circumstance which distinguishes 
the Tyrolese from their neighbours, the Swiss, 
to whom in many respects they bear a close 
resemblance, is in the animation and cheerful- 
ness of their character. The Swiss are by na- 
ture a grave and heavy people ; nor is this pe- 
culiar character the result of their republican 
institutions, for we are told by Planta, that their 
stupidity had become proverbial in France be- 
fore the time of their republic. The Tyrolese, 
on the other hand, are a cheerful and lively 
people, full of fire and animation, enthusiasti- 
cally devoted to their favourite pursuits, and 
extremely warm in their resentments. Public 
games are frequent in every valley ; and the 
keen penetrating look of the peasants shows 
with what alacrity they enter into any subject 



in which they are interested. This striking 
difference in the national character of the two 
people appears in their different modes of con- 
ducting war. Firm in the maintenance of their 
pa: nose, and undaunted in the discharge of 
military duty, the Swiss are valuable chiefly 
for their stubborn qualities — for that obstinate 
courage on which a commander can rely with 
perfect certainty for the maintenance of any 
position which may be assigned for their de- 
fence. It was their stubborn resistance, ac 
cordingly, which first laid the foundation of the 
independence of their republic, and which 
taught the Imperialists and the Burgundians 
at La.upen and Morat, that the pride of feudal 
power, and the ardour of chivalrous enter- 
prise, may seek in vain to crush "the might 
that slumbers in a peasant's arm." In later 
times the same disposition has been evinced 
in the conduct of the Swiss Guards, in the 
Place Carousel, all of whom were massacred 
at their post, without the thought of capitula- 
tion or retreat being once stirred amongst them. 
The Tyrolese, on the other hand, are more 
distinguished by their fiery and impetuous 
mode of fighting. In place of waiting, like the 
Swiss infantry, the charges of their enemies, 
they rush on unbidden to the attack, and often 
accomplish, by the hardihood of the enterprise, 
what more cautious troops could never suc- 
ceed in effecting. In this respect they resemble 
more nearly the Highland clans, who, in the 
rebellion in 1745, dashed with the broadsword 
on the English regiments ; or the peasants of 
La Vendee,who,without cannon or ammunition, 
assaulted the veteran bands of the republic, 
and by the fury of their onset, frequently de- 
stroyed armies with whom they would have 
been utterly unable to cope in a more regular 
system of warfare. 

One reflection there is, which may be drawn 
Scorn the determined valour of the Tyrolese, 
and their success against the disciplined armies 
of France, which it is of the utmost importance 
to impress steadily on our minds. It is this ; 
that the changes in the art of war in modern 
times has produced no alteration on the ability 
of freedom to resist the aggressions of despotic 
powers; but that still, as in ancient times, the 
discipline and the numbers of arbitrary govern- 
ments are alike unavailing against the stub- 
born valour of a free people. In every age, 
and in every part of the world, examples are 
to be found of the defeat of great and power- 
ful armies by the cool and steady resistance 
which characterizes the inhabitants of free 
states. This is matter of proverbial remark ; 
but it is of the more importance to observe, 
that this general steadiness and valour, which 
seek for no support but in the courage of the 
individual, can be attained only by the diffusion 
of civil liberty, and that the value of such qua- 
lities is as strongly felt in modern wars as it 
was in any former period of the world. It is 
related by Homer, that at the siege of Troy, 
the Trojan troops, in whom the vicinity of 
Asia had introduced the customs of oriental 
warfare, and the feelings of oriental despotism, 
supported each other's courage by shouts and 
cries during the heat of the battles ; while the 
Grecians, in whom, as Mitford has observed, 



124 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS 'ESSAYS. 



ihe monarchical form of government was even 
then tempered by a strong mixture of republi- 
can freedom,* stood firm, in perfect silence, 
waiting the command of their chiefs. The 
passage is remarkable, as it shows how early 1 , 
ill the history of mankind, the great lines of 
distinction between the courage of freemen and 
jlaves was drawn; nor can we perhaps any- 
where find, in the subsequent annals of the 
world, a closer resemblance to what occurred 
n the struggle between English freedom and 
French despotism on the field of Waterloo. 
" The Grecian phalanx," says the poet, "march- 
ed in close order, the leaders directing each 
his own band. The rest were mute ; inso- 
much, that you would say, in so great a multi- 
tude there was no voice. Such was the silence 
with which they respectfully watched for the 
word of command from their officers. But the 
cries ?>f the Trojan army resembled the bleat- 
ing of sheep when they are driven into the 
fold, and hear the cries of their lambs. Nor 
did the voice of one people rise from their 
lines, but a confused mixture of many tongues."-j- 
The same distinction has been observed in all 
periods of the world, between the native un- 
bending courage of freemen, and the artificial 
or transitory ardour of the troops of despotic 
states. It was thus that the three hundred 
Spartans stood the shock of a mighty army in 
the defile of Thermopylae ; and it was from the 
.influence of the same feeling, that, with not less 
devoted valour, the fifteen hundred Swiss died 
in the cemetery of St. James, in the battle of 
Basle. The same individual determination 
which enabled the citizens of Milan to over- 
throw the whole feudal power of Frederic 
Barbarossa on the plain of Legnano, animated 
the shepherds of the Alps, when they trampled 
under foot the pride of the imperial nobility 
on the field of Sempach, and annihilated the 
chivalry of Charles the Bold on the shores of 
Morat. It was among the free inhabitants of 
the Flemish provinces, that Count Tilly found 
the materials of those brave Walloon guards, 
who, as contemporary writers inform us, might 
be knocked down or trampled under foot, but 
could not be constrained to fly by the arms of 
Gustavus at the battle of Leipsic ;+ and the 
celebrity of the Spanish infantry declined from 
ihe time that the liberties of Arragon and Cas- 
tile were extinguished by Charles v. " There 



* Mil ford, i. 158. 

t"Jls tot' (.TTairavrepai Aavauiv kiviwto $&\kfyes 
fiwXepfcog voXciwvfie. kcXcvs 61 o-aiv £*ras""f 
'Wytu6v<.ov ul <T aXXot d*r/i/ Xaav — oii6i kc 0airyj 
'Votraov Xadv crrcaBat £\ovr' iv ^-fideaiv avSfjv — 
~2.iyil 6ei6i6rrs cr\ndvropaq' d/jteb'i 61 nramv 
Tevxa iro(«fiX' eXafine, ra ripf-vot l^i\6divTo. 
Tpwes d\ wjt' dies TroXvndfiouug dv6po$ Iv avXi) 
mvpiai l^fixaaiv djieXyd^tvai ydXa Xcvkov. 
'A^r/\t? pL£fiaKvtai, duovovoai bira dpvoiv 
"£ls Tommv dXaXr)T6s dva ^rpardv tvpvv opwpei. 
Ov vap navTGiv rjev buds ■S-pdoj, ov6' \(i vijpvs, 
'AXXa yXwo'ff' iitijiiKTo' ttoXvkXtitoi 6' zaav av6pc<;. 

Iliad iv. 427. 

t Memoirs of a Cavalier, by Defoe. 



: is ample room," as a late eminent writer* has 
! well observed, "for national exultation at the 
| names of Cressy, Poitiers, and Azincour. So* 
i was the disparity of numbers upon those 
famous days, that we cannot, with the French 
historian, attribute the discomfiture of their 
hosts merely to mistaken tactics and too im- 
petuous valour. They yielded rather to the 
intrepid steadiness in danger, which had al- 
ready become the characteristic of our English 
soldiers, and which, during four centuries, has 
ensured their superiority wherever ignorance 
or infatuation has not led them into the field. 
But these victories, and the qualities that se- 
cured them, must chiefly be ascribed to the 
freedom of our constitution and the superior 
condition of the people. Not the nobility of 
England, not the feudal tenants, won the battles 
of Cressy and Poitiers, for these were fully 
matched in the ranks of France, but the yeo- 
men who drew the bow with strong and steady 
arms, accustomed to its use in their native 
fields, and rendered fearless by personal com- 
petence and civil freedom.f 

Now, after all that we have heard of the art 
of war being formed into a regular system, of 
the soldier being reduced to a mere machine, 
and of the progress of armies being made the 
subject of arithmetical calculation ; it is truly 
consoling to find the discomfiture of the great- 
est and most disciplined army which the world 
has ever seen, brought about by the same 
cause which, in former times, have so often 
given victory to the cause of freedom ; to find 
the victories of Naefels and Morgarten renew- 
ed in the triumph of the Tyrolese patriots, and 
the ancient superiority of the English yeomanry 
asserted, as in the days of Cressy and Azin- 
cour, on the field of Waterloo. Nor is it-per- 
haps the least remarkable fact of that memo- 
rable day, that while the French army, like the 
Trojans of old, animated their courage by in- 
cessant cries; the English battalions, like the 
Greek phalanxes, waited in silence the charge 
of their enemies : proving thus, in the severest 
of all trials v that the art of war has made no 
change on the qualities essential in the soldier; 
and that the determined courage of freemen is 
still able, as in the days of Marathon and 
Plataea, to overcome the utmost efforts of mili- 
tary power. It is interesting to find the same 
qualities distinguishing the armies of a free 
people in such distant periods of the world ; 
and it is the fit subject, not merelj- of national 
pride, but of universal thankfulness, to disco- 
ver, that there are qualities in the composition 
of a great army which it is beyond the power 
of despotism to command ; and that the utmost 
efforts of the military art, aided by the strongest 
incitements to military distinction, cannot 
produce that steady and unbending valour 
which springs from the enjoyment of civil. 

LIBERTY. 



* Hallam's Middle Ages, i. 74. 
f Froissart, i. c. 162. 



FRANCE IX 1S33. 



125 



FRANCE IN 183-3. 



Observations made on the spot by one who I 
has long regarded the political changes of j 
France with interest, may possibly be of ser- 1 
vice, in conveying to the public on the other j 
side of the Channel some idea of the present j 
state and future prospects of a nation, avow- i 
edly followed as the leader by the liberal party 
all over the world, in the great work of politi- 
cal regeneration. Such a sketch, drawn with 
no feeling of political or national animosity, 
but with every wish for the present and future j 
happiness of the great people among whom it 
is composed, may possibly cool many visionary j 
hopes, and extinguish some ardent anticipa- j 
tions ; but it will at least demonstrate what is | 
the result, in the circumstances where it has j 
been most triumphant, of democratic ascend- [ 
ency; and prepare the inhabitants of Great j 
Britain for the fate, and the government which 
awaits them, if they continue to follow the 
footsteps of the French liberals in the career 
which has been recently brought, on this side 
of the channel, to so triumphant a conclusion. 

Most of the educated inhabitants of Great 
Britain visited France, during the restoration; 
many of them at different times. Every one 
thought he had acquired some idea of the 
political state and prospects of the country, 
and was enabled to form some anticipations 
as to its future destiny. We are now enabled 
to say, that most of these views were partial 
or erroneous. They were so, not so much 
from defect in the observation of France, as 
ignorance of the political principles and pas- 
sions which were at work amongst its inha- 
bitants ; from want of experience of the result 
of democratic convulsions ; from judging of a 
country over which the wave of revolution 
had passed, with the ideas drawn from one 
which had expelled its fury. We observed 
France accurately enough; but we did so with 
English eyes; we supposed its inhabitants to 
be actuated by the feelings and interests, and 
motives, which were then at work among our- 
selves ; and could form no conception of the 
new set of principles and desires which are 
stirred up during the agitation of a revolution. 
In this respect our powers of observation are 
now materially improved. We have had some 
experience during the last three years of de- 
mocratic convulsion ; we know the passion 
and desires which are developed by arraying 
the lower orders against the higher. We have 
acquired an acquaintance with the signs and 
marks of revolutionary terror. Standing thus 
on the confines of the two systems; at the ex- 
tremity of English liberty, and the entrance of 
French democracy, we are now peculiarly 
qualified to form an accurate opinion of the 
tendency of these opposite principles of go- 

* Blackwood's Magazine, October and December, 
1833. — Written during a residence at Paris, and in the 
north of France, in the autumn of that year. 



vernment ; we know the landmarks of the 
civilization which is receding from the view, 
and have gained some acquaintance with # the 
perils of that which is approaching; and com- 
bining recent with former experience' in our 
own and the neighbouring country, can form 
a tolerably accurate idea of the fate which 
awaits them and ourselves. 

The leading circumstance in the present 
condition of France, which first strikes an 
English observer, and is the most importan': 
feature it exhibits in a political point of view, 
is the enormous and apparently irresistible 
power of the central government at Paris over 
all the rest of France. This must appear 
rather a singular result after forty years of 
ardent aspirations after freedom, but neverthe- 
less nothing is more certain, and it constitutes 
the great and distinguishing result of the Re- 
volution. 

Such has been the centralization of power 
by the various democratic assemblies, who, at 
different times, have ruled the destinies of this 
great country, that there is hardly a vestige of 
power or influence now left to the provinces. 
All the situations of emolument of every de- 
scription, from the highest to the lowest, in 
every department and line of life, are in the 
gift of government. No man, in a situation 
approaching to that of a gentleman, can rise 
either in the civil or military career in any 
part of France, unless he is promoted by the 
central offices at Paris. These are general 
expressions, which convey no definite idea. A 
few examples will render the state of the 
country in this particular more intelligible. 

The Chamber of Peers, who now hold their 
situations only for life, are appointed by the 
Crown. 

The whole army, now four hundred thou- 
sand strong, is at the disposal of government. 
All the officers in that great body of course 
receive their appointment from the War-office 
at Paris. 

The navy, no inconsiderable force, is also 
appointed by the same power. 

The whole artificers and officers connected 
with the engineers and artillery, a most nu- 
merous body in a country so beset with fortifi- 
cations and fortresses as France, derive their 
appointments from the central government. 

The custom-house officers, an immense 
body, whose huts and stations are set down at 
short distances all round France, are all no- 
minated by the central office at Paris. 

The whole mayors of communes, with their 
" adjoints," amounting over all France to 
eighty-eight thousand persons, are appointed 
by the central government, or the prefects of 
departments whom they have nominated. 

The post-office, in every department through- 
out the kingdom, is exclusively filled by the 
servants of government. 
2l2 



126 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



The police, an immense force, having not. 
less than eighty thousand employes in constant 
occupation, and which extends its iron net 
over the whole country, are all appointed by 
the minister at the head of that department. 

The clergy over the whole country receive 
their salaries from government, and are ap- 
pointed by the crown. 

The whole teachers of youth of every de- 
scription, in all public or established semina- 
ries, whether parochial or departmental, are 
appointed by the minister of public instruc- 
tion. 

The management of the roads, bridges, and 
chaussees, throughout all the kingdom, is in- 
trusted to persons appointed by the crown. No 
man can break a stone, or mend a bridge, or 
repair a pavement, from Calais to Bayonne, 
unless he is in the service of government; and 
all the labourers on the roads have an uniform 
hat, with the words "Cantonnier," or " Pon- 
tonnier," upon it, indicating that they are in 
the service of the state. 

The post-horses over all France are under 
the control of the* crown. Not only the post- 
masters, but every postillion from Brest to 
Marseilles, and Strasburg to Bourdeaux, are 
nominated by the government. No additional 
hand can be added in the remotest relay of 
horses without the authority of the Parisian 
bureaux. On all the great roads in the north 
of France there are too few postillions, and 
travellers are daily detained hours on the 
Toad, not because horses are a wan ting, but 
because it has not pleased the ministers of the 
interior to appoint a sufficient number of pos- 
tillions for the different stations. In the south, 
the case is the reverse ; the postillions are too 
numerous, and can hardly live, from the divi- 
sion of their business among so many hands ; 
but the mandate has gone forth from the 
Tuileries, and obedience must be the order of 
the day. 

The whole diligences, stage-coaches, mails, 
and conveyances of every description which 
convey travellers by relays of horses in every 
part of France, must employ the post-horses 
and postillions appointed at the different sta- 
tions by the crown. No private individual or 
company can run a coach with relays with 
their own horses. They may establish as 
many coaches as they choose, but they must 
all be drawn by the royal horses and postillions, 
if they do not conve} r the travellers en voilurier 
with the same horses all the way. This great 
monopoly was established by an arret of the 
Directory, 9th December, 1798, which is in 
ihese terms ; " Nul autre que les maitres de 
poste, munis d'une commission speciale, ne 
pourra etablir de relais particuliers, relayer ou 
conduire a titre de louage des voyageurs d'un 
relais a. un autre, a peine d'etre contraint de 
payer par forme d'indemnite le prix de la 
course, au profit des maitres de poste et des 
postilions qui auront ete frustres." 

The whole firemen throughout France are 
organized in battalions, and wear a uniform 
like soldiers, and are appointed by govern- 
ment. 

The whole judges, superior and inferior, 
over the whole kingdom, as well as the prefets, 



sous-prefets, procureurs du roi, and in gene- 
ral all the legal offices of every description, are 
appointed by government. The only excep- 
tion are the judges du paix, a sort of arbiters 
and mediators in each canton, to settle the 
trifling disputes of the peasants, whom they 
are permitted to name for themselves. 

The whole officers employed in the collec- 
tion of the revenue, over the whole country, 
are appointed by the government. They are 
an extremely numerous bod)-, and add im- 
mensely to the influence of the central author- 
ity, from whom all their appointments emanate. 

It would be tedious to carry this enumera- 
tion farther. Suffice it to say, that the govern- 
ment of France has now drawn to itself the 
whole patronage in every department of busi- 
ness and line of life over the whole country. 
The army, the navy, the law, the church, the 
professors and teachers of every description ; 
the revenue, the post-office, the roads, bridges 
and canals, the post-horses, the postillions, the 
firemen, the police, the gen-d'armes, the pre- 
fects, the mayors, the magistrates, constitute so 
many different branches in which the whole 
patronage is vested in the central government 
at Paris, and in which no step can be taken, 
or thing attempted, without the authority of 
the minister for that department, or the deputy 
in the capital. In consequence of this prodi- 
gious concentration of power and patronage in 
the public offices of Paris, and the total stripping 
of every sort of influence from the depart- 
ment, the habit has become universal in every 
part of France, of looking to Paris, not only 
for the initiation in every measure and thought, 
but for the means of getting on in" every line 
of life. Has a man a son to put into the army 
or navy, the law, the church, the police, or re- 
venue 1 He finds that he has no chance of 
success unless he is taken by the hand by the 
government. Is he anxious to make him a 
professor, a teacher, or a schoolmaster ? He 
is obliged to look to the same quarter for the 
means of advancement. Is his ambition li- 
mited to the humbler situation of a postmaster, 
a bridge contractor, a courier, or a postillion T 
He must pay his court to the prefect of the de- 
partment, in order to obtain a recommendation 
to the minister of the interior, or the director 
of bridges and roads. Is he even reduced to 
earn his bread by breaking stones upon the 
highways, or paving the streets of the towns 1 
He must receive the wages of government, 
and must wear their livery for his twenty sous 
a day. Thus in every department and line of 
life, government patronage, is indispensable, 
and the only way in which success is to be 
obtained is by paying court to some person in 
authority. 

In a commercial and manufacturing country 
such as England, many and various means 
exist of rising to wealth and distinction, inde- 
pendent of government; and in some the oppo- 
sition line is the surer passport to eminence 
of the two. Under the old constitution of 
England, when political power was vested in 
the holders of great property, and the great 
body of the people watched their proceedings 
with distrust and jealousy, eminence was to 
be attained in any public profession, as the 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



127 



bar or the senate, chiefly by acquiring the suf- 
frages of the greater number of the citizens ; 
and hence the popular independent line was 
the one which in general led soonest to fame 
and eminence. Commerce and manufactures 
opened up a thousand channels of lucrative 
industry, independent altogether of government 
support; and many of the most important 
branches of patronage, great part of the church, 
and the majority of all establishments for 
education, were in the hands of corporations 
or private individuals, often in opposition to, 
or unconnected with, ministerial influence. 
But the reverse of all this obtains in France. 
There little commerce or manufactures are, 
comparatively speaking, to be found. With 
the exception of Paris, Lyons, Bourdeaux, 
Rouen, and Marseilles, no considerable com- 
mercial cities exist, and the innumerable chan- 
nels for private adventure which the colonial 
possessions and immense trade of Britain open 
up are unknown. All the private establish- 
ments or corporations vested with patronage 
in any line, as the church, education, charity, 
or the like, were destroyed during the Revolu- 
tion of 1793, and nothing left but the great and 
overwhelming power of government, standing 
the more prominently forward, from the extinc- 
tion of every rival authority which might 
compete with its influence. 

From the same cause has arisen a degree 
of slavish submission, in all the provinces of 
France, to the will or caprice of the metropo- 
lis, which is almost incredible, and says but 
little for the independence of thought and cha- 
racter which has grown up in that country 
since the schoolmaster has been abroad. From 
the habit of looking to Paris for directions in 
every thing, from the making of a king to the 
repairing of a bridge, from overturning a dy- 
nasty to breaking a stone, they have absolutely 
lost the power of judging for themselves, or 
taking the initiative in any thing either of the 
greatest or the smallest moment. This ap- 
pears, in the most striking manner, in all the 
political changes which have taken place in 
the country for the last forty years. Ever since 
the bones of old France were broken by the 
Constituent Assembly : since the parliaments, 
the provinces, the church, the incorporations, 
were swept away by their gigantic acts of de- 
mocratic despotism, the departments have 
sunk into absolute insignificance, and every 
thing has been determined by the will of the 
capital, and the acts of the central government 
at its head. When the Girondists, the illus- 
trious representatives of the country districts, 
were proscribed, the most violent feelings of 
indignation spread through the south and west 
of France. Sixty-five, out of the eight3'-four 
departments, rose in insurrection against the 
despotism of the capital ; but the unwonted 
exertion surpassed their strength, and they 
soon yielded, without a struggle worth the no- 
tice of history, to its usurped authority. When 
Robespierre executed Danton and his adher- 
ents ; when he himself sunk under the stroke 
of the Thermidorians ; when Napoleon over- 
threw the national guard of Paris, in October, 
1795 ; when the Directory were expelled by the 
bayonets of Augereau, on the 18th Fructidor, 



1797; when Napoleon seized the reins of 
power in November, 1799 ; when he declared 
himself emperor, and overturned all the prin- 
ciples of the Revolution in 1804 ; when he was 
vanquished by the allies in 1814; when he re- 
sumed the helm in 1815; when he was finally 
dethroned after the battle of Waterloo ; when 
the revolt of the barricades established a re- 
volutionary government in the capital; when 
the suppression' of the insurrection at the 
cloister of St. Merri defeated a similar attempt 
two years afterwards, the obedient departments 
were equally ready with their addresses of 
congratulation, and on every one of these va- 
rious, contradictory, and inconsistent changes, 
France submitted at once to the dictatorial 
power of Paris ; and thirty millions of men 
willingly took the law from the caprices or 
passions of a few hundred thousands. The 
subjection of Rome to the Proelorian guards, 
or of Turkey to the Janizaries, was never more 
complete. 

It was not thus in old France. The greatest 
and most glorious efforts of her people, in fa- 
vour of freedom, were made when the capital 
was in the hands of foreign or domestic ene- 
mies. The English more than once wrested 
Paris from their grasp ; but the forces of the 
south rallied behind the Loire, and at length 
expelled the cruel invaders from their shores. 
The forces of the League were long in posses- 
sion of the capital ; but Henry IV., at the head 
of the militia of the provinces, at length con- 
quered its citizens, and Paris received a master 
from the roots of the Pyrenees. The Revolu- 
tion of 1789 commenced with the provinces: 
it was their parliaments, which, under Louis 
XV. and XVI., spread the spirit of resistance 
to arbitrary power through the country ; and 
it was from their exertions, that the unanimous 
spirit, which compelled the court to convoke 
the states-general, arose. Now all is changed; 
not a murmur, not a complaint against the 
acts of the capital, is to be heard from Calais 
to Bayonne ; but the obedient departments are 
equally read)' - at the arrival of the mail, or the 
receipt of the telegraph, to hail with shouts a 
republic or an empire ; a dictator or a consul ; 
a Robespierre or a Napoleon ; a monarch, the 
heir of fourteen centuries ; or a hero, the child 
of an hundred victories. 

All the great and useful undertakings, which 
in England, and all free countries, emanate 
from the capital or skill of individuals, or as- 
sociated bodies, in France spring from the go- 
vernment, and the government alone. Their 
universities, schools, and colleges ; academies 
of primary and secondary instruction ; mili- 
tary and polytechnic schools ; hospitals, cha- 
ritable institutions, libraries, museums, and 
public establishments of all sorts ; their har- 
bours, bridges, roads, canals — every thing, in 
short, originates with, and is directed by, the 
government. Hence, individuals in France 
seldom attempt any thing for the public good: 
private advantage, or amusement, the rise of 
fortune, or the increase of power, constitute 
the general motives of action. Like the pas- 
sengers in a ship, or the soldiers in an army, 
the French surrender themselves, without a 
struggle, to the guidance of those in possession 



128 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



of the helm ; or if they rise in rebellion against 
them, it is not so much from any view to the 
public good, as from a desire to secure to them- 
selves the advantages which the possession 
of political power confers. 

This extraordinary concentration of every 
thing in the central government at Paris, 
always existed to a certain extent in France; 
but it has been increased, to a most extraordi- 
nary degree, under the democratic rule of the 
last forty years. It was the Constituent As- 
sembly, borne forward on the gales of revo- 
lutionary fervour, which made the greatest 
additions to the po^wer of government — not 
merely by the concentration of patronage and 
direction of every kind in ministers, but by 
the destruction of the aristocracy, the church, 
the incorporations ; — every thing, in short, 
which could withstand or counterbalance the 
influence of government. The people, charmed 
with the installation of their representatives in 
supreme power, readily acquiesced in, or rather 
strenuously supported, all the additions made 
by the democratic legislature to the powers 
of the executive ; fondly imagining that, by so 
doing, they were laying the surest foundation 
for the continuance of their own power. They 
little foresaw, what the event soon demon- 
strated, that they were incapable, in the long 
run, of preserving this power; that it would 
speedily fall into the hands of ambitious or 
designing men, who flattered their passions, 
in order to secure the possession of arbitrary 
authority for themselves ; and that, in the end, 
the absolute despotism, which they had created 
for the purpose of perpetuating the rule of the 
multitude, would terminate in imposing on 
them the most abject servitude. When Napo- 
leon came to the throne, he found it unneces- 
sary to make any great changes in the practical 
working of government; he found a despotism 
ready made to his hand, and had only to seize 
the reins, so tightly bitted on the nation by his 
revolutionary predecessors. 

The Revolution of July made no difference 
in this respect; or rather it tended to concen- 
trate still farther in the metropolis the authority 
and power of government. The able and in- 
defatigable leaders, who during the fifteen years 
of the Restoration had laboured incessantly to 
subvert Ihe authority of the royalists, had no 
sooner succeeded, than they quietly took pos- 
session of all the powers which they enjoyed, 
and, supported with more talent, and a greater 
display of armed force, exercised them with 
far greater severity. No concessions to real 
freedom were made — no division of the powers 
of the executive took place. All appointments 
in every line still flow from Paris : not a pos- 
tillion can ride a post-horse, nor peasant break 
a stone on the highways, from the Channel to 
the Pyrenees, unless authorized by the cen- 
tral authority. The legislature convoked by 
Louis Philippe has done much to abridge the 
authority of others, but nothing to diminish 
that which is most to be dreaded. They have 
destroyed the hereditary legislature, the last 
remnant of European civilization which the 
convulsions of their predecessors had left, but 
done nothing to weaken the authority of the 
executive. Louis Philippe enjoys, during the 



precarious tenure of his crown, at the will of 
the Prretorian Guards of Paris, more absolute 
authority than ever was held by the most des- 
potic of the Bourbon race. 

France being held in absolute subjection by 
Paris, all that is necessary to preserve this 
authority is to secure the mastery of the 
capital. Marshal Soult has taught the citizen 
king how this is to be done. He keeps an 
immense military force, from 35,000 to 40,000 
men, constantly in the capital; and an equal 
force is stationed within twelve miles round, 
ready to march at a signal from the telegraph on 
Montmartre, in a few hours, to crush any at- 
tempt at insurrection. In addition to this, there 
are 50.000 National Guards in Paris, and 
25,000 more in the Banlieue, or rural district 
round its walls, admirably equipped, well 
drilled, and, to appearance at least, quite equal 
to the regular soldiers. Of this great force, 
above 5000, half regulars and half National 
Guards, are every night on duty as sentinels, 
or patrols, in the capital. There is not a 
street where several sentinels, on foot or 
horseback, are not stationed, and within call 
of each a picquet or patrol, ready to render 
aid, if required, at a minute's notice. Paris, in 
a period of profound peace, without an enemy 
approaching the Rhine, resembles rather a city 
in hourly expectation of an assault from a 
beleaguering enemy, than the capital of a 
peaceful monarchy. 

In addition to this prodigious display of 
military force, the civil employes, the police, 
constitute a body nearly as formidable, and, 
to individuals at least, much more dangerous. 
Not only are the streets constantly traversed 
by this force in their appropriate dress, but 
more than half their number are alwa) r s prowl- 
ing about, disguised as workmen or trades- 
men, to pick up information, mark individuals, 
and arrest discontented characters. They enter 
coffee-houses, mingle in groups, overhear con- 
versations, join in discussions, and if they 
discover any thing seditious or dangerous, they 
either arrest the delinquent at once, and hand 
him over to the nearest guard, or denounce 
him to their superiors, and he is arrested at 
night by an armed force in his bed. Once 
incarcerated, his career, for a long time at 
least, is terminated : he is allowed to lie there 
till his projects evaporate, or his associates 
are dispersed, without either being discharged 
or brought to trial. There is not a night at this 
time, (August, 1833,) that from fifteen to twenty 
persons are not arrested in this way by the 
police ; and nothing is heard of their subse- 
quent trial. 

From the long continuance of these arrests 
by the police, the prisons of Paris, spacious as 
they are, and ample as they were found during 
the Reign of Terror, have become unable to 
contain their numerous inmates. Fresh and 
extraordinary places of confinement have be- 
come necessary. A new jail, of great dimen- 
sions, guarded by an ample military force, has 
been constructed by the citizen king, near the 
cemetery of Pere la Chaise, where the over- 
flowings of the other prisons in Paris are safely 
lodged. The more dangerous characters are 
conveyed to fortresses in the interior, or the 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



129 



Chateau of Mount St. Michael in Normandy. 
This great state-prison, capable of holding 
many hundred prisoners, is situated in the 
sea, on the coast of the Channel, and amply 
tenanted now by the most unruly part of the 
population of Paris, under a powerful military 
and naval garrison. 

Above fifteen hundred persons were arrested 
after the great revolt at the Cloister of St. 
Merri, in June, 1832, and, though a few have 
been brought to trial or discharged, the great 
majority still remain in prison, in the charge 
of the police, under warrants apparently of 
interminable duration. The nightly arrests 
and numerous domiciliary visits are con- 
stantly adding to this immense number, and 
gradually thinning that ardent body who ef- 
fected the Revolution of July, and have proved 
so formidable to every government of France, 
since th'e beginning of the revolutionary trou- 
bles in 1789. The fragment of this body, who 
fought at the Cloister of St. Merri, evinced such 
heroic courage and invincible determination, 
that the government have resolved on a helium ad 
■uitcrnccioncm with such formidable antagonists, 
and, by the continued application of arrests 
and domiciliary visits, have now considerably 
weakened their numbers, as well as damped 
their hopes. Still it is against this democratic 
rump that all the vigilance of the police is 
exerted. The royalists are neglected or de- 
spised ; but the republicans, whom it is not so 
easy to daunt, are sought out with undecaying 
vigilance, and treated with uncommon severity. 

Public meetings, or any of the other constitu- 
tional modes of giving vent to general opinion 
in Great Britain, are unknown in France. If 
twenty or thirty thousand men were collected 
together in that way, they would infallibly be 
assailed by the military force, and their dis- 
persion, or the overthrow of the government, 
would be the consequence. 

The only relic of freedom, which has sur- 
vived the Revolution of Jul)', is the liberty of 
the press. It is impossible to read the journals 
which are in every coffee-house every morn- 
ing, without seeing that ail the efforts of des- 
potism have failed in coercing this mighty in- 
strument. The measures of public men arc 
canvassed with unsparing severity: and not 
only liberal, but revolutionary measures ad- 
vocated with great earnestness, and no small 
share of ability. It is not, however, without 
the utmost efforts on the part of government 
to suppress it, that this licentiousness exists. 
Prosecutions against the press have been in- 
stituted with a degree of rigour and frequency, 
since the Revolution of July, unknown under 
the lenient and feeble government of the Re- 
storation. The Tribune, which is the leading 
republican journal, has reached its eighty-second 
prosecution, since the Three Glorious Days. 
More prosecutions have been instituted since 
the accession of the Citizen King, than during 
the whole fifteen that the elder branch of the 
Bourbons was on the throne. The govern- 
ment, however, have not ventured on the de- 
cisive step of suppressing the seditious jour- 
nals, or establishing a censorship of the press. 
The recollection of the Three Days, which 
commenced with the attempts to shut up the 
17 



printing-offices of some newspapers, prevents 
this last act of despotism. The National 
Guard, in all probability, would resist such an 
attempt, and if not supported by them, it would 
endanger the crown of Louis Philippe. Go- 
vernment has apparently discovered that the 
retention of the power of abuse consoles the 
Parisians for the loss of all their other liber- 
ties. They read the newspapers .and see the 
ministry violently assailed, and imagine they 
are in full possession of freedom, though they 
cannot travel ten leagues from Paris without 
a passport, nor go to bed in the evening with 
any security that they will not be arrested 
during the night by the police, and consigned 
to prison, without any possibility of redress, 
for an indefinite period. 

The present government appears to be 
generally disliked, and borne from despair of 
getting any other, more than any real attach- 
ment. You may travel over the whole coun- 
try without discovering one trace of affection 
to the reigning family. Their names are 
hardly ever mentioned ; by common consent 
they appear to be consigned to oblivion by all 
classes. A large and ardent part of the peo- 
ple are attached to the memory of Napoleon, 
and seize every opportunity of testifying their 
admiration of that illustrious man. Another 
large anfl formidable body have openly es- 
poused the principles of democracy, and are 
indefatigable in their endeavours to establish 
their favourite dream of a republic. The 
Royalists, few in number in Paris and the 
great commercial towns, abound in the south 
and west, and openly proclaim their determi- 
nation, if Paris will take the lead, to restore 
the lawful race of sovereigns. But Louis 
Philippe has few disinterested partisans, but 
the numerous civil and military employes who 
wear his livery or eat his bread. Not a ves- 
tige of attachment to the Orleans dynasty is to 
be seen in France. Louis Philippe is a man 
of great ability, vast energy, and indomitable 
resolution : but though these are the qualities 
most dear to the French, he has no hold of 
their affections. His presence in Paris is 
known only by the appearance of a mounted 
patrol on each side of the arch in the Place 
Carousel, who are stationed there only when 
tlie king is at the Tuileries. He enters the 
■ d, and leaves it, without any one inquir- 
ing or knowing any thing about him. If he 
is seen in the street, not a head is uncovered, 
not a cry of Vive le Roi is heard. Nowhere is 
a print or bust, of any of the royal family to be 
seen. Not a scrap of printing narrating any 
of their proceedings, beyond the government 
journals, is to be met with. You may travel 
across the kingdom, or, what is of mere con- 
sequence, traverse Paris in every direction, 
without being made aware, by any thing you 
see or hear, that a king exists in France. The 
royalists detest him, because he has establish- 
ed a revolutionary throne — the republicans, 
because he has belied all his professions in 
favour of freedom, and reared a military de.-« 
potism on the foundation of the Barricades. ; 

The French, in consequence of these cii 
cumstances, are in a very peculiar state. They 
are discontented with every thing, and what is 



130 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



worse, they know not to what quarter to look 
for relief. They are tired of the Citizen King, 
whom they accuse of saving money, and pie- 
paring for America; of having given them the ! 
weight of a despotism without its security, and 
the exhaustion of military preparation without 
either its glory or its advantages. They (ex- 
cluding the royalists) abhor the Bourbons, 
whom Ihey regard as priest-ridden, and super-; 
stitious, weak and feeble, men unfit to govern 
the first nation In the world. They dread a 
republic as likely to strip them of their sons 
and their fortunes; to induce an interminable 
war with the European powers; deprive them 
of their incomes, and possibly endanger the 
national independence. They are discontented 
with the present, fearful of the future, and find 
their only consolation m reverting to the day.'? 
of Napoleon and the Grand Arm}* as a bril- 
liant drama now lost for ever. They are in 
the situation of the victim of passion, or the 
slave of pleasure, worn out with enjoyment, 
blase with satiety, who has no longer any en- 
joyment in life, but incessantly revolts with 
the prurient restlessness of premature age to 
the orgies and the excesses of his youth. 

What then, it may be asked, upholds the 
reigning dynasty, if it is hated equally by both 
the great parties who divide France, and can 
number none but its own official dependents 
among its supporters'? The answer is to be 
found in the immense extent of the pecuniary 
losses which the Revolution of July occasioned 
to all men of any property in the country, and 
the recollection of the Reign of Terror, which 
is still vividly present to the minds of the ex- 
isting generation. 

On the English side of the channel, few are 
aware of the enormous pecuniary losses with 
which the triumph of democracy, in July, 
1830, was attended. In Paris, all parties are 
agreed that the depreciation of property of 
every description in consequence of that event 
was about a third: in other words, every man 
found himself a third poorer after the over- 
throw of Charles X. than he was before it. 
Over the remainder of France the losses sus- 
tained were nearly as great, in some places 
still heavier. For the two years which suc- 
ceeded the Barricades, trade and commerce 
of every description was at a stand; the import 
of goods declined a fourth, and one half of the 
shopkeepers in Paris and all the great towns 
became bankrupt. The distress among the 
labouring classes, and especially those who 
depended on the sale of articles of manufac- 
tured industry or luxury, was unprecedented. 
It is the recollection of this long period of na- 
tional agony which upholds the throne of Louis 
Philippe. The National Guard of Paris, who 
are in truth the ruling power in France, know 
by bitter experience to what a revolution, even 
of the most bloodless kind, leads — decay of 
business, decline of credit, stoppage of sajes, 
pressure of creditors. They recollect the in- 
numerable bankruptcies of 1830 and 1831, and 
are resolved that their names shall not enter 
the list They know that the next convulsion 
would establish a republic in unbridled sove- 
reignty : they know the principles of these 
apostles of democracy; they recollect their 



actions ; the Reign of Terror, the massacres 
in the prisons float before their eyes. They 
have a vivid impression, also of the external 
consequences of such an event : they know 
that their hot-headed youth would insiantly 
press forward to regain the frontier of the 
Rhine ; they foresee an European war, a ces- 
sation of the influx of foreign wealth into 
Paris, and possibly a third visit by the Cos- 
sacks to the Champs Elysees. These are the 
considerations which maintain the allegiance 
of the National Guard, and uphold the throne 
of Louis Philippe, when there is hardly a 
spark of real attachment to him in the whole 
kingdom. He is supported, not because his 
character is loved, his achievements admired, 
or his principles venerated, but because he is 
the last barrier between France and revolu- 
tionary suffering, and because the people have 
drunk too deep of that draught to tolerate a re- 
petition of its bitterness. 

Although, therefore, there is a large and en- 
ergetic and most formidable party in France, 
who are ardently devoted to revolutionary 
principles, and long for a republic, as the 
commencement of every imaginable felicity ; 
yet the body in whom power is at present 
really vested, is essentially conservative. The 
National Guard of Paris, composed of the 
most reputable of the citizens of that great me- 
tropolis, equipped at their own expense, and. 
receiving no pay from government, consists 
of the very persons who have suffered most 
severely by the late convulsions. They form 
the ruling power in France ; for to them more 
than the garrison of the capital, the govern- 
ment look for that support which is so neces- 
sary amidst the furious factions -by whom 
they are assailed; and to their opinions the 
people attach a degree of weight which does 
not belong to any other body in France. The 
Chamber of Peers are disregarded, the legis- 
lative body despised ; but the National Guard 
is the object of universal respect, because every 
one feels that they possess the power of 
making or unmaking kings. The crown does 
not hesitate to act in opposition to a vote of 
both Chambers ; but the disapprobation of a 
majority of the National Guard is sure to com- 
mand attention. In vain the Chamber of De- 
puties refused a vote of supplies for the erec- 
tion of detached forts round Paris ; the ground 
was nevertheless purchased, and the sappers 
and miners, armed to the teeth, were busily 
employed from four in the morning till twelve 
at night, in their construction ; but when seve- 
ral battalions of the National Guard, in de- 
filing before the king, on the anniversary of 
the Three Days, exclaimed, "A bas les forts 
detaches," the works were suspended, and are 
now going on only at Vincennes, and two 
other points. That which was refused to the 
collected wisdom of the Representatives of 
France is conceded at once to the cries of 
armed men : the ultimate decision is made by 
the bayonet; and the boasted improvements 
of modern civilization, terminate in the same 
appeal to physical strength which character- 
ize the days of Clovis. 

This contempt into which the legislature 
has fallen, is one of the great features of 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



131' 



France, since the Revolution of July ; but it is 
one which is least known or understood on 
the English side of the channel. The causes 
which produced it had been long in operation, 
but it was that event which brought them fully 
and prominently into view. The supreme 
power has now passed into other hands. It 
was neither the Peers nor the Commons, but 
the Populace in the Streets, the heroes of the 
3arricadcs, who seated Louis Philippe on the 
throne. The sa»ne force, it. is acknowledged, 
possesses the power to dethrone him ; and 
hence the National Guard of the capital, as 
the organized concentration of this power, is 
looked to with respect. The departments, it 
is known, will hail with shouts whatever king, 
or whatever form of government the armed 
force in the capital choose to impose ; the de- 
puties, it is felt, will hasten to make their sub- 
mission to the leaders who have got possession 
of the treasury, the bank, the telegraph, and 
ihe war office. Hence, the strife of faction 
is no longer carried on by debates in the 
Chambers, or efforts in the legislature. The 
National Guard of Paris is the body to which 
all attention is directed ; and if the departments 
are considered, it is not in order to influence 
their representatives, but to procure addresses 
or petitions from members of their National 
Guards, to forward the views of the great par- 
ties at work in the metropolis. Such petitions 
or addresses are dairy to be seen in the public 
papers, and are referred to with undisguised 
satisfaction by the parties whose views they 
support. No regard is paid but to the men who 
have bayonets in their hands. Every thing 
directly, or indirectly, is referred to physical 
strength, and the dreams of modern equality 
are fast degenerating into the lasting empire 
of the sword. 

The complete insignificance of the Cham- 
bers, however, is to be referred to other and 
more general causes than the successful re- 
volt of the Barricades. That event only tore 
aside the veil which concealed the weakness 
of the legislature ; and openly proclaimed 
what political wisdom had long feared, that 
the elements of an authoritative and pa- 
ramount legislature do not exist in France. 
When the National Assembly destroyed the 
nobility, the landed proprietors, the clergy, and 
the incorporations of the countr} r , they rendered 
a respectable legislature impossible. It is in 
vain to attempt to give authority or weight to 
ordinary individuals not gifted with peculiar 
talents, by merely electing them as members 
of parliament. If they do not, from their 
birth, descent, fortune, or estates, already pos- 
sess it, their mere translation in the legislature 
will never have this effect. The House of 
Commons under the old English constitution 
was so powerful, because it contained the re- 
presentatives of all the great and lasting inte- 
rests of the country, of its nobles, its landed 
proprietors, its merchants, manufacturers, 
burghers, tradesmen, and peasant;.-. It com- 
manded universal respect, because every man 
felt that his own interests were wound up with 
and defended by a portion of that body. But 
this is not and cannot be the case in France — 
the classes are destroyed from whom the re- 



presentatives of such varied interests must be" 
chosen : the interests in the nation do not exist 
whose intermixture is essential to a weighty, 
legislature. Elected hy persons possessed of 
one uniform qualification — the payment of di»* 
rect taxes to the amount of two hundred francs', 
or eight pounds sterling a->year — the deputies 
are the representatives only of one class in 
society, the small proprietors. The oilier in- 
terests in the state either do not exist or are 
not represented. The persons who are chosen 
are seldom remarkable either for their fortune, 
family, talent, or character. They are, to use 
a homely expression, "neighbour like;" indi- 
viduals of a bustling character, or ambitious ' 
views, who have taken to politics as the best 
and most lucrative profession they could 
choose, as opening the door most easily to the 
innumerable civil and military offices which 
are the object of universal ambition in France. 
Hence they are not looked up to with respect 
even by their own department, who can never' 
get over the homeliness of their origin or 
moderation of their fortune, and by the rest of 
France are unknown or despised. 

The chief complaint against the legislature 
in France is, that it is swayed by corruption 
and interested motives. That complaint, has 
greatly increased since the lowering of the free- 
hold qualification from three hundred to two 
hundred francs of direct taxes, in consequence 
of the Revolution of July. This change has 
opened the door to a lower and more corruptible 
class of men ; numbers of whom got into the 
legislature by making the most vehement pro- 
fessions of liberal opinions to their constituents,, 
which they instantly forgot when the seductions - 
of office and emolument were displayed before 
their eyes. The majority of the Chamber, it- 
is alleged, are gained by corruption; and the 
more that the qualification is lowered the worse 
has this evil become. This is founded on the 
principles of human nature, and is of univer- 
sal application. The more that you descend 
in society, the more will you find men accessi- 
ble to base and selfish considerations, because 
bribes are of greater value to those who pos- 
sess little or nothing than those who possess 
a great deal. Many of the higher ranks are 
corrupt, but the power of resisting seduction 
exists to a greater degree among them than 
their inferiors. You often run the risk of in- 
sult if you offer a man or woman of elevated 
station a bribe, but seldom if it is insinuated 
into the hand of their valet or lady's maid; 
and when the ermine of the bench is unspotted, 
so much can frequently not be said of the clerks 
or servants of those elevated functionaries. 
Where the legislature is elected by persons 
of that inferior description, the influence of 
corruption will always be found to increase. If 
is for the people of England to judge whether 
the Reformed Parliament is or is not destined 
to afford another illustration of the rule. 

To whatever cause it may be owing, the fact 
is certain, and cannot be denied by any person 
practically acquainted with France, that the 
Chamber of Deputies has fallen into the most 
complete contempt. Their debates have al- 
most disappeared; they are hardly reported 
by the public press ; seldom is any opposition 



132 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



to be seen amongst them. When Louis Phi- 
lippe's crown was in jeopardy in June, 1832, it 
was to the National Guard, and not to either 
branch of the legislature, that all parties look- 
ed with anxiety. A unanimous vote of the old 
English Parliament would probably have had 
great weight with an English body of insur- 
gents, as it certainly disarmed the formidable 
mutineers at the Nore ; but a unanimous vote 
of both Chambers at Paris would have had little 
or no effect. A heart}- cheer from three bat- 
talions of National Guards would have been 
worth a hundred votes of the Chambers ; and 
an insurrection, which all the moral force of 
Parliament could not subdue, fell before the 
vigour of two regiments of National Guards 
from the Banlieue. 

It is owing apparently to this prodigious as- 
cendency of the National Guard of Paris, that 
the freedom of discussion in the public jour- 
nals has survived all the other liberties of 
France. These journals are, in truth, the 
pleaders before the supreme tribunals which 
govern the country, and they are flattered by 
the fearlessness of the language which is em- 
ployed, before them. They are as tenacious 
of the liberty of the press at Paris, in conse- 
quence, as the Prretorian Guards or Janizaries 
were of their peculiar and ruinous privileges. 
The cries of the National Guard, the ruling 
power in France, are prejudiced by the inces- 
sant efforts of the journals on the different 
sides, who have been labouring for months or 
years to sway their opinions. Thus the ulti- 
mate appeal in that country is to the editors 
of newspapers, and the holders of ba3 r onets, 
perhaps the classes of all others who are most 
unfit to be intrusted with the guidance of pub- 
lic affairs; and certainly those the least quali- 
fied, in the end, to maintain their independence 
against the seductions or offers of a powerful 
executive. 

The central government at Paris is omnipo- 
tent in France ; but it does by no means follow 
from that, that this central government is itself 
placed on a stable foundation. The authority 
of the seraglio is paramount over Turkey: 
but within its precincts the most dreadful 
contests are of perpetual recurrence. The 
National Assembhy, by concentrating all the 
powers of government in the capital, necessa- 
rily delivered over its inhabitants to an ini^r- 
minable future of discord and strife. When 
once it is discovered that the mainspring of 
all authority and influence is to be found in 
the government oilices of Paris, the efforts of 
the different parties who divide the state are 
incessant to make themselves masters of the 
talisman. This is to be done, not by any 
efforts in the departments, any speeches in the 
legislature, or any measures for the public 
good, but by incessant working at the armed 
force of the capital. By labouring in the pub- 
lic journals, in pamphlets, hook'-, reviews, and 
magazines, for a certain number of year^. th.e 
faction in < n at length su'edeed in 

making an impression on '' of bay- 

onets in Pari 

youth who frequent its coffee-n 
when once :! 
cnieute, the whole is concluded. The people 



arc roused; the National Guard hesitate, or 
join the insurgents; the troops of the line re- 
fit se to act against their fellow-citizens; the 
reigning dynasty is dethroned; a new flag is 
hoisted at the Tuileries ; and the submissive 
departments hasten to declare their allegiance 
to the reigning power now in possession of the 
treasury and the telegraph, and disposing of 
some hundred thousand civil and military 
offices throughout France. 

No sooner is this great consummation 
effected, than the fruits of the victory begin to 
be enjoyed by the successful party. Offices, 
honours, posts, and pensions, are showered 
down on the leaders, the officers, and pioneers 
in the great work of national regeneration. 
The editors of the journals whose side, has 
proved victorious, instantly become ministers : 
all their relations and connections, far beyond 
any known or computable degree of consan- 
guinity, are seated in lucrative or important 
offices. Regiments of cavalry, prefetships, 
sous-prefetships, procureurships, mayorships, 
adjointships, offices in the customs, excise, 
police, roads, bridges, church, universities, 
schools, or colleges, descend upon them thick 
as autumnal leaves in Vallombrosa. Mean- 
while the vanished party are universally and 
rigidly excluded from office, their whole rela- 
tions and connection's in every part of France 
find themselves suddenly reduced to a state of 
destitution, and their only resource is to begin 
to work upon the opinions of the armed force 
or restless population of the capital, in the 
hope that, after the lapse of a certain number 
of years, another revolution may be effected, 
and the golden showers descend upon them- 
selves. 

In the Revolution of July, prepared as it 
had been by the efforts of the liberal press for 
fifteen years in France, and organized as it 
was by the wealth of Lafitte, and a few of the 
great bankers in Paris, this system was suc- 
cessful. And accordingly, Thiers, Guizot, the 
Duke de Broglio, and the whole coterie of the 
doctrinaires, have risen at once, from, being 
editors of newspapers, or lecturers to students, 
to the station of ministers of state, and dis- 
pensers of several hundred thousand offices. 
They are now, in consequence, the objects of 
universal obloquy and hatred with the remain- 
der of the liberal party, who accuse them of 
having sacrificed all their former opinions, 
and embraced all the arbitrary tenets of the 
royalist faction, whom they were instrumental 
in subverting. Their conduct since they came 
into office, and especially since the accession 
of Casimir Perier's administration on the 13th 
March, 1831, has been firm and moderate, 
strongly inclined to conservative principles, 
and, in consequence, odious to the last degree 
to the anarchical faction by whose aid they 
rose to greatness. 

The great effort of this excluded faction was 
made on the 5th and 6th of June, 1832, on 
occasion of the funeral of Lamarque. In 
England it was not generally known how for- 
midable that insurrection was, and how 
nearlv it had subverted the newly erected 
throne of the Barricades. Above eighty thou- 
pfcfsbfis, including a considerable por- 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



133 



tion of the National Guard from the Fauxbourg 
St. Antoine, and other manufacturing districts 
of Paris, walked in regular military array, 
keeping the step in that procession: no one 
could see them without being astonished how 
the government survived the crisis. In truth, 
their existence hung by a thread; — for several 
hours a feather would have cast the balance — 
established a republican government, and 
plunged Europe in an interminable war. Till 
six o'clock in the evening the insurgents were 
continually advancing: and, at that hour, they 
had made themselves masters of about one- 
half of Paris, including the whole district to 
the eastward of a line drawn from the Port 
St. Martin through the Hotel de Viile to the 
Pantheon. At the first alarm the government 
surrounded the Fauxbourg St. Antoine with 
troops, and would have perished, but for the 
fortunate cutting off of that great revolution- 
ary quarter from the scene of active prepa- 
rations. Though deprived of the expected 
co-operation in that district, however, the in- 
surgents bravely maintained the combat; they 
entrenched themselves in the neighbourhood 
of the cloister of St. Merri, and among the 
narrow streets of that densely peopled quarter, 
maintained a doubtful struggle. The minis- 
ters, in alarm, sent for the king, with intelli- 
gence that his crown was at stake: above 
sixty thousand men, with an immense train of 
artillery, were brought to the spot ; but still 
the issue seemed suspended. The National 
Guard of the city, for the most part, hung 
back; the cries of others were openly in 
favour of the insurgents ; if a single battalion, 
either of the line or the National Guard, at 
that crisis had openly joined the rebels, all 
was lost. In this extremity a singular circum- 
stance changed the fortune of the day, and 
fixed his tottering crown on the head of Louis 
Philippe. The little farmers round Paris, who 
live by sending their milk and vegetables to 
the capital, found their business suspended by 
the contest which was raging in the centre 
of the city, where the markets for their pro- 
duce are held; their stalls and paniers were 
seized by the rebels, and run up into barri- 
cades. Enraged at this invasion of their pro- 
perty and stoppage of their business, these 
little dealers joined their respective banners, 
and hastened with the National Guard of the 
Banlieue to the scene of action : they were 
plentifully supplied with wine and spirits on 
the outside of the barrier; and before the ex- 
citation had subsided, were hurried over the 
barricades, and determined the conflict. In its 
last extremity the crown of Louis Philippe 
was saved, neither by his boasted guards, nor 
the civic force of the metropolis, but the anger 
of a body of hucksters, gardeners, and milk- 
dealers, roused by the suspension of their 
humble occupations. 

It is this peculiarity in the situation of the 
French government which renders it neces- 
sary to watch the state of parties in Paris 
with such intense anxiety, and renders the 
strife in its streets the signal for peace or war 
all over the civilized world. The government 
of France, despotic as it is over the remainder 
of the country, is entirely at the mercy of the 



hair's breadth of making 



metropolis. Having no root in the provinces, 
being based on no great interests in the state, 
it depends entirely on the armed force of the 
capital — a well organized entente, the defection 
of a single regiment of guards, a few seditious 
cries from the National Guard, the sight of a 
favourite banner, a fortunate allusion to heart- 
stirring recollections, may at any moment con- 
sign it to destruction. If the insurgents of the 
city of Paris can make themselves masters of 
the Hotel de Ville, France is more than half 
conquered; if their forces are advanced to the 
Marche des Innocens, the throne is in greater 
danger than if the Rhine had been crossed b)' 
two hundred thousand men : but if their lias: 
is hoisted on the Tuileries, the day is won, and 
France, with its eighty-four departments and 
thirty-two millions of inhabitants, is at the 
disposal of the victorious faction. If the rebels 
who sold their lives so dearly in the cloister 
of St. Merri could have openly gained over to 
their side one regiment, and many only waited 
an example to join their colours, they would 
speedily have been in possession of the trea- 
sury, and the telegraph, and France was at 
their feet. No man knew this peculiarity in 
the political situation of the great nation better 
than Napoleon. He was little disquieted by 
the failure of the Russian campaign, till intelli- 
gence of the conspiracy of Mallet reached his 
ears ; and that firmness which the loss of four 
hundred thousand men could not shake, was 
overturned by the news that the rebels in 
Paris had imprisoned the minister of police, 
and were within 
themselves masters of the telegraph. 

It is not surprising that Paris should have 
acquired this unbridled sovereignty over the 
rest of the country, if the condition in which 
the provinces have been left by the Revolution 
is considered. You travel through one of the 
departments — not a gentleman's house or a 
chateau is to be seen. As far as the eye can 
reach, the country is covered with sheets of 
grain, or slopes covered with vines or vege- 
tables, raised by the peasants who inhabit the 
villages, situated at the distance of a few miles 
from each other. Does this immense expanse 
belong to noblemen, gentlemen, or opulent 
proprietors capable of taking the lead in any 
common measures for the defence of the public 
liberties 1 On the contrary, it is partitioned 
out among an immense body of little proprie- 
tors, the great majority of whom are in a state 
of extreme poverty, and who are chained to 
the plough by the most imperious of all 
laws — that of absolute necessity. Morning, 
noon, and night, they are to be seen labouring 
in the fields, or returning weary and spent to 
their humble homes. Is it possible from such 
a class to expect any combined effort in favour 
of the emancipation of the provinces from the 
despotism of the capital 1 The thing is utter- 
ly impossible: as well might you look for an 
organized struggle for freedom among the 
serfs of Russia or the ryots of Hindostan. 

A certain intermixture of peasant proprie- 
tors is essential to the well-being of society; 
and the want of such a class to a larger extent 
in England, is one of the circumstances most 
to be lamented in its social condition. But 
M 



434 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



mere is a medium in all things. As much as 
the total want of little landowners is a serious 
evil, so much is the total want of any other 
class to be deprecated. In the time of the 
Duke de Gaeja, (1816.) that able statesman 
calculated that there were four millions of 
landed proprietors in F ranee, and 14,000,000 
of souls constituting their families, independent 
of the "rages of labour.* At present, the num- 
ber is computed at twenty-five millions, and 
there are above ten millions of separate pro- 
perties enrolled and rated for taxation in the 
government book. Generally speaking, they 
occupy the whole land in the country. Here 
and there an old chateau, still held by a rem- 
nant of the old noblesse, is to be seen ; or 
a modern villa, inhabited in summer by an 
opulent banker from one of the great manu- 
facturing towns. But their number is too in- 
considerable, they are too far separated from 
-each other, to have any weight in the political 
scale. France is, in fact, a country of peasants, 
interspersed with a few great manufacturing 
towns, and ruled by a luxurious and corrupted 
capital. 

Even the great manufacturing towns are 
incapable of forming any counterpoise to the 
power of the capital. They are situated too 
far from each other, they depend too complete- 
ly on orders from Paris, to be capable of 
opposing any resistance to its authority. If 
-Rouen, Marseilles, Lyons, or Bourdeaux were 
to attempt the struggle, the central govern- 
ment would quickly crush each singly, before 
it could be aided, by the other confederates. 
They tried to resist, under the most favourable 
circumstances, in 1793, when the Convention 
were assailed by all the powers of Europe, 
when two-thirds of France joined their league, 
and the west was torn b} r the Vendean war, 
and totally failed. Any repetition of the at- 
tempt is out of the question. 

The representative system, the boast of 
modern civilization, has been found by ex- 
perience to be incapable »f affording any 
remedy for this universal prostration of the 
provinces. That system is admirably adapted 
for a country which contains a gradation of 
classes in society from the prince to the pea- 
sant; but it must always fail where the in- 
termediate classes are destroyed, and there 
exist only the government and the peasantry. 
Where this is the case, the latter body will 
always be found incapable of resisting the in- 
fluence of the central authority. Who, in 
every age, from the signing of Magna Charta. 
have taken the lead in the support of English 
freedom ? The barons, and great landed pro- 
prietors, who possessed at once the resolution, 
influence, and power of combination, which 
are indispensable to such an attempt. Even 
the Reform Bill, the last and greatest triumph 
of democratic ambition, was forced through 
the legislature, by the aid of a. large and opu- 
lent portion of the aristocracy. If the Revo- 
lution of 1 612 or 1688 had destroyed this in- 
termediate body in the state, the representa- 
tive system would speedily have fallen into 
contempt. The humble, needy representatives 

*Duc de Gacta, ii. 334. 



of humble and needy constituents would in 
the end have found themselves overshadowed 
by the splendour of the court, the power of * 
the metropolis, or the force of the army. In 
is of" agitation, when the public mind is 
in a ferment, and the chief power.- of the state 
pulled in one direction, they would have been 
irresistible; but in times of tranquillity, when 
the voice of passion was silent, and that of 
v constantly heard, they would have 
eeriainly given way. What is required in the 
representatives of ihe people, is a permanent 
resistance at all (inns to the various dange; - 
which threaten the public freedom; in periods 
of democratic agitation, a firm resistance I 
precipitate innovation; in times of pacific en- 
joyment, a steady disregard of government 
seduction. Human nature is weak, and we 
must not expect from any body of men, how- 
ever constituted, a steady adherence to duty 
under such circumstances of varied trial and 
difficulty; but experience has proved, that it 
may be expected, with some probability, among 
an aristocratic body, because their interests 
are permanent, and equally endangered by 
each set of perils ; but that it is utterly chimeri- 
cal to look for it among the representatives of 
a body of peasants or little proprietors, un- 
mingled with any considerable intermixture 
of the higher classes of society. But the 
Revolution has extinguished these classes in 
France, and therefore it has not left the ele- 
ments out of which to frame a constitutional 
monarchy. 

These circumstances explain a fact singular- 
ly illustrative of the present state of parties in 
France, and the power to whom the ultimate 
appeal is made, viz. the eminent and illus- 
trious persons by whom the daily press is 
conducted. Every one knows by what class 
in society the daily press is conducted in Eng- 
land ; it is in the hands of persons of great 
ability, -but in general of inferior grade kt 
society. If the leading political characters do 
occasionally contribute an article, it is done 
under the veil of secrecy, and is seldom, ad- 
mitted by the author, with whatever fan;-. 
may have been attended. But in France the 
case is quite the reverse. There the leading 
political characters, the highest of the nobles, 
ihe first men in the state, not only contribute 
regularly to the daily or periodical press, but 
avow and glory in their doing so. Not only 
the leading literary characters, as Chateau- 
briand, Guizot, Thiers, and others, regularly 
write for the daily press; but many of the 
Beets of France conduct, or contribute to, the 
public newspapers. The Gazette de France 
and Quotidienne are supported by contribu- 
tions from the royalist nobility; the Journal 
des Debats is conducted by a Per of France. 
So far from being considered as a discredit, or 
a thing to be concealed, these eminent men 
pride themselves on the influence they thus 
have on public opinion. The reason is ob- 
vious ; they are the speakers before the real 
National Assembly of France, the National 
Guard and armed force of Paris. Considera- 
tion and dignity will ever attend the persons 
whose exertions directly lead to the possession 
of political power. When, in the progress of 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



135 



democratic changes, the Reformed Parliament 
of England has sunk as low in public estima- 
tion as the Chamber of Deputies in France, 
the dukes and earls of England, if such a 
class exist, will become the editors of news- 
papers, and pride themselves on the occupa- 
tion. 

" The taxation of France is extremely heavy, 
and has been increased to a most extraordi- 
nary degree since the Revolution of July. In 
a table below,* will be found a return of the 
budgets of the last ten years, lately published 
in Paris by authority of government. From 
Ibis it appears that the expenditure of the last 
year of Charles X., was 950,000,000 francs, 
or about £39,000,000 sterling, while that of 
the first year of Louis Philippe, was above 
1,500,000,000 francs, or £80,000,000. Thus, 
■while the Three Glorious Da) r s diminished 
every man's property by a third, it added to the 
national burdens by a half. Such are the 
blessings of democratic ascendency. , 

The taxation of France has become an evil 
of the very greatest magnitude, and with every 
addition made to democratic power, it has be- 
come worse. The property-tax is thirteen per 
cent, on the annual value ; but by the arbitrary 
and unfair way in which valuations are taken, 
it frequently amounts to twenty, sometimes to 
thirty per cent, on- what is really received by 
the proprietor. Professional persons, whose 
income is fluctuating, pay an income-tax on a 
graduated scale; and the indirect taxes bring 
in about 500,000,000 francs, or £20,000,000 
sterling. The direct taxes amount to about 
350,000,000 francs, or £14,000,000 sterling; a 
much heavier burden than the income-tax was 
on England, for the national income of Eng- 
land is much greater than that of France. As 
the result of their democratic efforts, the French 
have fixed on themselves national burdens, 
nearly three times as heavy as those which 
were so much complained of in the time of 
Louis XVI. ;f and greatly more oppressive 
than those which the revolutionary war has 
imposed on the English people. . 

•ris this all. In addition to this enormous 
increase of taxation, the Revolution of July has 
occasioned the sale of a very large portion of 
the royal domains. In every part of France 
the crown lands and forests have been alienated 
to a very great extent; and the words which so 
often meet a traveller's eyes, "Biens patrimo- 
niaux de la Couronne a vendre," indicate too 
clearly how universally the ruthless hand of 
the spoiler has been laid on the remaining 
public estates of the realm. 

Notwithstanding this, however, the charac- 
ter of the French government has been essen- 
tially changed by the Revolution of the Barri- 
cades. It possesses now a degree of power, 



* Budgets of Frnnr^ for 


the 


last ten years. 


1834 


951,992,000 francs; or .£38.100,000 


1825 


916,898,000 


do. 


37,100,000 


1826 


942.5; 


do. 


37,800,000 


1827 


986,52 


do. 


98,730,000 


i898 


939,3! 3,000 


do. 


87,330,680 


.1829 


975,703,600 


do. 


38,846,060 


1830 


to,ooo 


Ho. 


3 930,000 


. 1831 


1,511, 100,000 


do. 


00.000,000 


1832 


1,100,500,000 


do. 


41.000.000 


1833 


1,126,394.000 


do. 


4 1,500,000 



t They were then about .£'19,000,000 a year. 



vigour, and despotic authority, to which there 
has been nothing comparable since the days 
of Napoleon. The facility with which it over- 
turned the great democratic revolt at the cloister 
of St. Merri, in June, 1832, and at Lyons in No- 
vember, 1831, both of which were greatly more 
formidable than that of the Three Days, is a 
sufficient proof of this assertion. The deeds 
of despotism, the rigorous acts of government, 
which are now in .daily operation under the 
citizen king, could never have been attempted 
during the restoration. Charles X. declared 
Paris in a state of siege, and issued an edict 
against the liberty, of the press ; and in a few 
days, in consequence, he was precipitated from 
his throne: Marshal Soult declared Paris in a 
state of siege, and still more rigidly fettered 
the press ; and the act of vigour confirmed in- 
stead of weakening his sovereign's authority. 
It is the daily complaint of the republican 
press, that the acts of government are now 
infinitely more rigorous than they have ever 
been since the fall of Napoleon, and that the 
nation under the restoration would never have 
tolerated the vexatious restraints which are 
now imposed upon its freedom. To give one 
or two examples from the newspapers lying 
before us. 

"Yesterday evening, twenty-eight persons, 
accused of seditious practices, were arrested 
and sent to prison by the agents of the police. 
Never did tyranny advance with such rapid 
strides as it is doing at the present time." — 
Tribune, Aug. 20. 

" Yesterday night, eighteen more persons, 
accused of republican practices, were sent to 
prison. How long will the citizens of Paris 
permit a despotism to exist among them, to 
which there has been nothing comparable since 
the days of Napoleon 1" — Tribune, Aug. 21. 

".More barracks are in course of being 
erected in the neighbourhood of Graulle. If 
matters go on much longer at this rate, Paris 
will contain mtxre soldiers than citizens." — 
Tribune, Aug, 23. 

If tlharles X. or Louis XVIII. had adventured 
upon the extraordinary steps of sending state 
prisoners by the hundred to the castle of mount 
•St. Michael in Normandy;, or erecting an ad- 
ditional prison of vast dimensions near Pere 
la Chaise, to receive the overflowings of the 
other jails in Paris, maintaining forty or fifty 
thousand men constantly in garrison in the 
capital, or placing a girdle of fortified basliles 
round its walls, the vehemence of the public 
clamour would either 'nave rendered necessary 
the abandonment of the measures, or straight- 
way precipitated them from the throne. All 
parties now admit that France possessed as 
much real freedom as was consistent with 
public order under the Bourbons; there is not 
one which pretends that any of that liberty is 
still enjoyed. They are completely at variance, 
indeed, as to the necessity of its removal ; the 
republicans maintaining that an unnecessary 
and odious despotism has been established ; 
the juste milieu, that a powerful government 
is the only rem ami;;'.: barrier between France 
and democratic an in hy, and, as such, is ab- 
solutely indispensable for the preservation of 
order; but all are agreed that the constitu- 



136 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



tional freedom of the Restoration no longer 
exists. 

An attentive observation of the present stale 
of France is all that is requisite to show the 
causes of these apparently anomalous facts ; — 
of the tempered rule, limited authority, and 
constitutional sway of the Bourbons, in spite 
of the absolute frame of government which 
they received from Napoleon and the Revolu- 
tion ; and the despotic rigour and irresistible 
force of the present dynast}', notwithstanding 
the democratic transports which seated it 
upon the throne. Such a survey will, at the 
same time, throw a great and important light 
upon the final effect of the first Revolution on 
the cause of freedom, and go far to vindicate 
the government of that superintending wis- 
dom, which, even in this world, compels vice 
to work out its own deserved and memorable' 
punishment. 

The practical and efficient control upon the 
executive authority, in every state, is to be 
found in the jealousy of the middling and 
lower orders of the rule of the higher, who are 
in possession of the reins of power. This is 
the force which really coerces the government 
in every state ; it is to be found in the tumults 
of Constantinople, or the anarchy of Persia, as 
well as in the constitutional opposition of the 
British parliament. The representative system 
only gives a regular and constitutional channel 
to the restraining power, without which society 
might degenerate into the anarchy of Poland, 
or be disgraced by the strife of the Seraglio. 

As longas this jealousy remains entire among 
the people, and the fabric of government is 
sufficiently strong to resist its attacks on any 
of its necessary functions — as long as it is a 
drag on its movements, not the ruling power, 
the operations of* the executive are subjected 
to a degree of restraint which constitutes a 
limited monarchy, and diffuses general free- 
dom. This is the natural and healthful state of 
society ; where the people, disqualified by their 
multitude and their habits from the task of 
government, fall into their proper sphere of 
observing and controlling its movements ; and 
the aristocracy, disqualified by their limited 
number from the power of effectually control- 
ling the executive, if possessed by the people, 
occupy their appropriate station in forming 
part of the government, and supporting the 
throne. The popular body is as unfit to go- 
vern the state, as the aristocracy is to defend 
its liberties against a democratic executive. 
History has many instances to exhibit, of li- 
berty existing for ages with a senate holding 
the reins, and a populace checking its en- 
croachments; it has not one to show of the 
same blessing being found under a democracy 
in possession of the executive, with the de- 
fence of public freedom intrusted to a displaced 
aristocracy. From the Revolution of 1688 to 
that of 1832, the annals of England presented 
the perfect specimen of public freedom flou- 
rishing under the first form of government ; it 
remains to be seen whether it will subsist for 
any length of time under the second. 

Experience, accordingly, has demonstrated, 
what theory had long asserted, that the over- 
ihrcw of the liberty of all free states has arisen 



from the usurpation of the executive authority 
bv the democracy ; and that, as long as the 
reins of power are in the hands of the nobles, 
the jealousy of the commons was an adequate 
security to the cause of freedom. Rome long 
maintained its liberties, notwithstanding the 
contests of the patricians and plebeians, while 
the authority of the senate was unimpaired; 
but when the aristocracy, under Cato, Brums, 
and Pompey, were overturned by the demo- 
cracy headed by Coesar, the tyranny of the 
emperors rapidly succeeded. The most com- 
plete despotism of modern times is to be found 
in the government of Robespierre and Napo- 
leon, both of whom rose to power on the de- 
mocratic transports of a successful revolution. 
Against the encroachments cf their natural 
and hereditary rulers, the sovereign and the 
nobles, the people, in a constitutional mo- 
narchy, are in general sufficiently on their 
guard: and against their efforts the increasing 
power which they acquire from the augmenta- 
tion*of their wealth and intelligence in the 
later stages of society, is a perfectly sufficient 
security. But of the despotism of the rulers 
of their own party, — the usurpation of the- 
leaders whom they have themselves seated in 
the chariot, — the}'- are never sufficiently jea- 
lous, because they conceive that their own 
power is deriving fresh accessions of strength 
from every addition made to the chiefs who 
have so long combated by their side; and this 
delusion continues universally till it is too late 
to shake their authority, and on the ruins of a 
constitutional monarchy, an absolute despotism 
has been constructed. 

" Le leurre du despotisme qui commence est 
toujours," says Guizot, " d'offrir aux homines 
les trompeurs avantages d'une honteuse ega- 
lite."* 

Had the first Revolution of France, like the- 
great rebellion of England, merely passed over 
the state without uprooting all its institutions, 
and destroying every branch of its aristocracy, 
there crm be little doubt that a constitutional 
monarchy might have been established in 
France, and possibly a hundred and forty 
years of liberty and happiness formed, as in 
Britain, the maturity of its national strength. 
But the total destruction of all these classes in 
the bloody convulsion, and the division of their 
estates among an innumerable host of little 
proprietors, rendered the formation of such a 
monarchy impossible, because one of the ele- 
ments was a wanting which is indispensable to 
its existence, and no counterpoise remained to 
the pow r er of the democracy at one time, or of 
the executive at another. You might as well 
make gunpowder without sulphur, as rear up 
constitutional freedom without an hereditary 
aristocracy to coerce the people and restrain 
the throne. "A monarchy," says Bacon, 
" without an aristocracy, is ever an absolute 
despotism, for a nobility attempers somewhat 
the reverence for the line royal." " The Revo- 
lution," says Napoleon, " left France absolutely 
without an aristocracy; and this rendered the 
formation of a mixed constitution impossible. 
The government had no lever to rest upon to 



* Guizot, Essais sur l'hisloire dc France, 13. 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



137 



direct the people ; it was compelled to navi- 
gate in a single element. The French Revolu- 
tion has attempted a problem as insoluble as 
the direction of balloons!"* 

When Napoleon seized the helm, therefore, 
he had no alternative but to see revolutionary 
anarchy continue in the state, or coerce the 
people by a militar}' despotism. He chose the 
latter ; and under his firm and resolute go- 
vernment, France enjoyed a degree of prospe- 
rity and happiness unknown since the fall of 
the monarchy. Those who reproach him with 
departing from the principles of the Revolution, 
and rearing up a military throne by means of 
a scaffolding of democratic construction, would 
do well to show how he could otherwise have 
discharged the first of duties in governments, — 
the giving protection and security to the peo- 
ple ; how a mixed and tempered constitution 
could be established, when the violence of the 
people had totally destroyed their natural and 
hereditary rulers ; and how the passions of a 
populace, long excited by the uncontrolled riot 
in power, were to be coerced b}-- a senate com- 
posed of salaried dignitaries, destitute either 
of property or importance, and a body of 
ignoble deputies, hardly elevated, either in 
station or acquirements, above the citizens to 
whom they owed their election. 

The overthrow of Napoleon's power by the 
arms of Europe, for a time established a con- 
stitutional throne in France, and gave its in- 
habitants fifteen years of undeserved freedom 
and happiness. But this freedom rested on an 
unstable equilibrium; it had not struck its 
roots into the substratum of society ; it was 
liable to be overturned by the first shock of 
adverse fortune. As it was, however, it con- 
tributed, in a most essential manner, to deceiv r e 
the world, — to veil the irreparable conse- 
quences of the first convulsion, — and make 
mankind believe that it was possible, on the 
basis of irreligion, robbery, and murder, to 
rear up the fair fabric of regulated freedom. 
We have to thank the Revolution of the Bar- 
ricades for drawing aside the veil, — for dis- 
playing the consequences of national delin- 
quency on future ages ; and beneath the fair 
colours of the whited sepulchre, exhibiting the 
foul appearances of premature corruption and 
decay. 

What gave temporary freedom to France 
under the Restoration was the prodigious ex- 
haustion of the democratic spirit by the cala- 
mities which attended the close of Napoleon's 
reign ; the habits of submission to which his 
iron government had accustomed the people ; 
the terror produced by the double conquest of 
Paris by the Allies, the insecure and obnoxious 
tenure by which the Bourbons held their 
authority, and the pacific character and per- 
sonal weakness of that race of sovereigns 
themselves. 

1. The exhaustion of France by the calami- 
ties which hurled Napoleon from the throne, 
undoubtedly had a most powerful effect in 
coercing for a time the fierce and turbulent 
passions of the people. It is in the young that 
the spirit of liberty and the impatience of 

* Napoleon's Memoirs. 
18 



restraint is ever most fervent, and from their 
energy that the firmest principles of freedom 
and the greatest excesses of democracy have 
equally arisen. But the younger generations 
of France were, to a degree unprecedented in 
modern times, mowed down by the re vol u- 
tionary wars. After seventeen years of more 
than ordinary consumption of human life, 
came the dreadful campaigns of 1812, 1813, 
and 1814 ; in the first of which, between Spain 
and Russia, not less than 700,000 men perish- 
ed by the sword or sickness, while, in. the two 
latter, the extraordinary levy of 1,200,000 
men was almost entirely destroyed. By these 
prodigious efforts, France was literally ex- 
hausted ; these copious bleedings reduced the 
body politic to a statc^ of almost lethargic 
torpor; and, accordingly, neither the invasion 
and disasters of 1814, nor the return of Napo- 
leon in 1815, could rouse the mass of the 
nation to any thing like a state of general 
excitement. During the first years of the 
Bourbons' reign, accordingly, they had to rule 
over a people whose fierce passions had been 
tamed by unprecedented misfortunes, and hot 
blood drained off by a merciless sword ; and 
it was not till the course of time, and the 
ceaseless powers of population had in some 
degree repaired the void, that that general im- 
patience and restlessness began to be mani- 
fested which arises from the difficulty of 
finding employment, and is the common pre- 
cursor of political changes. 

2. The government of Napoleon, despotic 
and unfettered in its original construction, 
after the 18th Brumaire, had become, in pro- 
cess of time, the most arbitrary and powerful 
of any in Europe. Between the destruction 
of all ancient, provincial, and corporate au- 
thorities, by the successive revolutionary as- 
semblies, and the complete centralization of 
all the powers and influence of the state in the 
government at Paris, which took place during 
his government, there was not a vestige of 
popular power left in France. The people 
had been accustomed, for fourteen years, to 
submit to the prefets, sous-prefets, mayors,, 
adjoints, and other authorities appointed by 
the central government at Paris, and they had 
in a great degree lost the recollection of the 
intoxicating powers which they exercised 
during the Revolution. The habit of submis- 
sion to an absolute government, which enforced 
its mandates by 800,000 soldiers, and had three 
hundred thousand civil offices in its gift, had 
in a great degree prepared the country for 
slavery. To the direction of this immense and 
strongly constructed machine the Bourbons 
succeeded; and it went on for a number of 
years working of itself, without the people ge- 
nerally being conscious of the helm having 
passed from the firm and able grasp of Napo- 
leon to the inexperienced and feeble hands of 
his legitimate successors. Louis XVIII., in- 
deed, gave a charter to his subjects : "Vive la 
I Charte" became the cry of the supporters of 
I his throne : deputies were chosen, who met at 
Paris; a Chamber of Peers was established, 
j and the forms of a constitutional monarchy 
! prevailed. But it is not by conferring the 
j forms of a limited monarchy that its spirit can 
m 2 



138 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



"be acquired, or the necessary checks either on 
the throne or the populace established. France, 
under the Bourbons, went through the forms 
of a representative government, but she had 
hardly a vestige of its spirit. Her people were 
composed of a few hundred thousand ardent 
citizens in the towns, who longed for demo- 
cratic power and a republican government, 
and thirty millions of peasants and workmen, 
who were ready to submit to any government 
established by the ruling population of the 
capital. To coerce the former, or invigorate 
the latter, no means remained; and therefore 
it is that a constitutional monarchy no longer 
■exists in France. 

3. The consternation produced by the over- 
throw of Napoleon's throne, and the double 
occupation of Paris by the allied troops, went 
far to uphold a government which had risen 
up under their protection. While all the army 
and ardent patriots of the capital insisted that 
it had been surrendered by treachery in both 
cases, and could never have been conquered 
by force of arms, the astounding events pro- 
duced a great and awful impression through- 
out France, which is far from being as yet 
eradicated. There are some calamities which 
remain long in the recollection of mankind. 
Volatile, susceptible of new impressions, and 
inconsiderate as great part of the French un- 
doubtedly are, the successive capture of their 
capital in two campaigns sunk deep and 
heavily in their minds. It wounded them in 
the most sensitive part, the feeling of national 
glory; and excited a painful doubt, heretofore 
unknoAvn, of the ability of the great nation to 
resist a combined attack from the northern 
powers. This feeling still subsists ; it may 
have little influence with the young and war- 
like youth of the capital, but it is strongly im- 
pressed upon the more thoughtful and better 
informed classes of society, and is in an espe- 
cial manner prevalent among the National 
Guard of the metropolis, to whom, even more 
than the regular arm}'-, the nation looks for 
the regulation of its movements. It was to the 
prevalence of this feeling that the existence 
of the Bourbon government, during the fifteen 
years of the Restoration, was mainly owing; 
and so prevalent was it even on the eve of 
their overthrow, that the revolt of the Barri- 
cades originated with, and was long supported 
solely by the very lowest classes ; and it was 
not till the defection of the army, and the im- 
becility of the government, had rendered it 
more than doubtful whether a revolution was 
not at hand, that they were joined by any 
considerable accession of strength from the 
educated or middling classes of society. The 
same feeling of secret dread at the northern 
powers still exists, notwithstanding the acces- 
sion of England to the league of revolutionary 
governments; and, whatever the republican 
party may say to the contrary, nothing is more 
certain than that the cabinet of Louis Philippe 
has been supported in all its principal mea- 
sures, and especially in the proclamation of a 
state of siege by Marshal Soul I, and the pacific 
system with the continental powers, by a great 
majority of all the persons of any wealth or 
consideration in Paris, now in possession, 



through the National Guard, of a preponderat- 
ing influence in the capital, and, consequently, 
over all France. 

The circumstances which have been men- 
tioned, contributed strongly to establish a des- 
potic government under the Bourbons, — the 
only kind of regular authority which the con- 
vulsions of the Revolution have rendered 
practicable in France ; but to counteract 
these, and temper the rigour of the execu- 
tive, there were other circumstances of an 
equally important character, which gradually 
vent on increasing in. power, until they finally 
overbalanced the others, and overturned the 
government of the Restoration. 

1. The first of these circumstances was the 
extreme national dissatisfaction which attend- 
ed the way in which the Bourbons reascended 
the throne. For a monarch of France to enter 
its capital, in the rear of a victorious invader, 
is the most unlikely way that can be imagined 
to gain the affections of its inhabitants ; but to 
do this twice over, and regain the throne on 
the second occasion, in consequence of such 
a thunderbolt as the battle of Waterloo, was a 
misfortune which rendered the popularity of 
the dynasty out of the question. The people 
naturally connected together the two events ; 
they associated the republican sway with the 
tricolour flag and the conquest of Europe, and 
the Bourbon dynasty with the disasters which 
had preceded their restoration : forgetting, what 
was the truth, that it^as' under the tricolour 
that all these disasters had been incurred ; and 
that the white flag was the olive branch 
which saved them from calamities, which they 
themselves had felt to be intolerable. 

This general feeling of irritation at the un- 
paralleled calamities in "which Napoleon's 
reign terminated, was naturally and skilfully 
turned to account by the republican party. 
They constantly associated together the Bour- 
bon reign with the Russian 'bayonets; and 
held out the sovereigns of the Restoration, ra- 
ther as the viceroys of Wellington, or the 
satraps of Alexander, than the monarchs 
either by choice or inheritance of the Franks. 
This prejudice, which had too much support 
from the unfortunate coincidence of Napoleon's 
disasters with the commencement of their 
reign, soon spread deeply and universally 
among the liberal part of the people ; and the 
continuance of the Bourbon dynasty on the 
throne came to be considered as the badge of 
national servitude, which, on the first dawn 
of returning liberation, should be removed. 

2. The abolition of the national colours by 
the Bourbon princes, and the studious endea- 
vour made to obliterate the monuments and 
recollection of Napoleon, was a puerile weak- 
ness, from "which the worst possible effects en- 
sued to their government. To suppose that i* 
was possible to obliterate the remembrance 
of his mighty achievements, and substitute 
Henry IV. and Saint Louis for the glories of 
the empire, was worse than childish, and, as 
might have been expected, totally ineffectual. 
In vain his portrait was prescribed, his letters 
effaced from the edifices, his name hardly 
mentioned, except with vituperation by the 
ministerial .organs; the admiration for his 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



139 



.greatness only increased from the efforts made 
to suppress it; and of his, as the images of 
Brutus and Cassius at the funeral of Junia, it 
might truly be said, "Viginti clarissimarum 
farniliarum imagines antelatae sunt, scd pra> 
fulgebant Cassius alque Brutus, et eo ipso 
quod effigies eorum non videhanlrur" 

The universal burst of public enthusiasm 
when the tricolour flag was rehoisted on the 
Tuileries, and the statue of the hero replaced 
on the pillar in the Place Vendome, in July 
last, and the innumerable pictures and statues 
which have been exposed in every town and 
village of France since the prohibition was 
removed, demonstrate how powerful and gene- 
ral this feeling was, and expose the enormity 
of the error which the Bourbons committed 
in endeavouring to bury it in oblivion. The 
tricolour flag was associated in the minds of 
the whole young and active part of the French 
population with the days of their glory ; the 
white standard with the commencement of 
their humiliation. To compel them to adopt 
the one and abandon the other, was an error 
in policy of the most enormous kind. It was 
to perpetuate the feeling of national disgrace ; 
to impose upon the nation what they con- 
sidered as the livery of servitude ; to debar 
them from openly giving vent to feelings 
which swelled their hearts even to bursting. 
The Revolution of July was less against the 
edicts of Polignac than the white standard on 
the dome of the Tuileries ; and the Citizen 
King owes his throne mainly to the tricolour 
flag which waves above his head in that au- 
gust abode. 

3. The religious feelings of the exiled fam- 
ily, natural and estimable in persons exposed 
to the calamities which they had undergone, 
was undoubtedly an inherent weakness in the 
government of the Restoration, to w r hich their 
fall was in a great degree owing. From what- 
ever cause it mnv have arisen, the fact is cer- 
tain,, that hatred at every species of religious 
observance is the most profound and invete- 
rate feeling which has survived the Revolution. 
Not that the French are wholly an irreligious 
people; for in a numerous portion of the 
community, especially in the rural districts, 
the reverence for devotion is undiminished, 
nay, is now visibly on the increase ; but that 
the active and energetic class in towns, upon 

. whom the centralization of power produced 
by the Revolution lias exclusively conferred 
political importance and the means of influ- 
encing the public mind, are almost entirely of 
that description. To these men, the sight of 
priests in their sacerdotal habits crossing the 
Place Carousal, and entering the royal apart- 
ments, was absolute gall and wormwood. The 
royalists had not discernment enough to see, 
that they might encourage the substantial parts 
of religion, without perpetually bringing be- 

- fore (he public eye the obnoxious parts of its 
external ceremonial : they fell at once under 
the government of pious and estimable, but 
weak and ignorant ecclesiastics, who were 
totally incapable of steering the vessel of the 
state through the shoals and quicksands with 
which it was on all sides beset. Thence arose 
an inherent weakness in the government of 



the Restoration, which went far to counter- 
balance the vast political authority which the 
centralization of every species of influence in 
the public offices in Paris had occasioned. 
They received a machine of vast power, and 
apparently irresistible strength, but the preju- 
dice of. the people at their political and reli- 
gious principles was so strong that they could 
not find the firm hands requisite to direct it. 

4. The pacific and indolent character of the 
Bourbon princes, and the timorous policy 
which they were constrained to adopt, from the 
disastrous circumstances which had. preceded 
their accession to the throne, prevented them 
from reviving by personal qualities or brilliant 
achievements, any of that popularity which 
so many circumstances had contributed to 
weaken. A thirst for military glory ever has 
been the leading characteristic of the French 
people. A pacific and popular king of France 
is a contradiction in terms. The princes who 
dwell most strongly in their recollection, 
Henry IV., Louis XIV., and Napoleon, were 
all distinguished either for their military 
achievements, or the great conquests which 
were effected in their reign. If a king of 
France were to possess the virtue of Aristides, 
the integrity of Cato, the humanity of Marcus 
Aurelius, and the wisdom of Solomon, and re- 
main constantly at peace, he would speedily 
become unpopular.* The only regal activity 
which, in their estimation, can in some degree 
compensate the want of military distinction, 
is a decided turn for the embellishment of 
Paris. Napoleon's vast popularity, after his 
external victories, was mainly owing to his 
internal decorations; the Pillar of Austerlitz 
and the Bourse, almost rivalled, in public 
effect, the overthrow of Austria and the sub- 
jugation of Prussia. But in neither of these 
lines of activity was the family of the Restora- 
tion calculated to acquire a distinction. They 
remained, partly from inclination, partly frojm 
necessit}-, almost constantly at peace ; they 
languidly and slowly completed the great works 
undertaken by Napoleon, but commenced little 
new themselves; the\ r neither pushed then- 
armies across the Rhine, nor their new con- 
structions into the obscurer parts of Paris. 
The Parisians could neither recount to stran- 
gers the victories they had won, nor point with 
exultation to the edifices they had constructed. 
They remained, in consequence, for the whole 
fifteen years that they sat upon the throne, 
tolerated and obeyed, but neither admired nor 
loved; and the load of obloquy which attached 
to them from the disasters which preceded 
their accession, was lightened by no redeem- 
ing achievements which followed their eleva- 
tion. 

From the combination of these singular and 
opposing circumstances, there resulted a mixed 
and tempered government in France, for the 
brief period of the Restoration, without any 
of the circumstances existing, by which that 
blessing can be permanently secured, — without 
either a powerful aristocracy, or an efficient 
and varied representation of the people. The 
machine of government was that of an abso- 

*Mr. Kurke was perfectly risht when he said, that the 
restored monarch must be constantly in the saddle. 



J40 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



lute despotism, from the complete centraliza- 
tion of evrv spcfirs oC influence in the public 
offices at Paris, and the total absence of any 
authority in the provinces to counterbalance 
their influence; but the royal family had 
neither the energy nor trie qualities, nor the 
fortune, requisite to Wield its iWesiStibte pow- 
ers. Nothing can be more extraordinary, ac- 
cordingly, than the state ol' France under 
Louis XVIII. and Charles X. The government 
were almost constantly declining in pdptllarity; 
the republican majority in the Chamber of 
Deputies was, with some variations, almost 
constantly increasing; at last it rose to such a 
height as to choke up the wheels of adminis- 
tration, and render a coup (Vetat, or a resignation 
of the throne, an unavoidable alternative. But 
although the Family of the Bourbons was thus 
declining in influence, the power of government 
was undergoing no serious alteration ; no 
efficient checks upon the executive, arising 
from the combination of the lasting interests 
of the state to coerce its encroachment, were 
growing up ; the weakness of the throne arose 
from dislike to the reigning family, not aver- 
sion to the power with which they were in- 
vested. They were at last overturned, like the 
sultans in the Seraglio, or the Roman em- 
perors on the Palatine Mount, by a vast and 
well-concerted urban tumult, seconded to a 
wish hy the imbecility and weakness of the 
ruling administration ; and the vast machine 
of a despotic government passed unimpaired 
into the hands of their more energetic assail- 
ants. 

The Revolution of the Barricades at once 
put an end to the temporizing s)rstem of the 
Restoration, and drew aside the veil which, re- 
tained by Bourbon weakness, had so long con- 
cealed the stern features of despotic power. 
The fatal succession, bequeathed to France, 
by the sins and the atrocities of the first Revo- 
lution, was then apparent; the bonds, the 
inevitable and perpetual bonds of servitude, 
were exposed to public gaze. In all the par- 
ticulars which constituted the weakness of the 
Restoration, and paralyzed the machine of des- 
potic government, from hatred at the hands 
which wielded it, the Citizen King had the 
advantage. The white flag had been a per- 
petual eye-sore to the ardent youth of France, 
and the white flag was torn down : the tricolour 
had been the object of their secret worship, 
and the tricolour was displayed from every 
tower in France: the recollection of defeat had 
clouded the first days of the Restoration, and 
the first days of the Revolution of July were 
those of astounding triumph : the observance 
of Sunday and religious forms had exasperated 
an infidel metropolis, under a priest-ridden 
dynasty; and their successors allowed them 
to revel in every species of amusement and 
license on the seventh day: the long con- 
tinuance of peace had thrown into sullen dis- 
content the anient youth of the metropolis ; 
and the establishment of a revolutionary throne 
promised, sooner or later, to bring about a 
desperate conflict with the legitimate monarchs 
of Europe. The prospect of the convulsions 
into which England was speedily thrown by 
the contagion of this great example, contri- 



bute! not a little to fan this exulting flame; 
and in the passing of the Reform Bill, the 
French democrats beheld a lasting triumph to 
the Gallican party in this country, and an 
achievement which cfonsoled them for the 
disasters of Trafalgar and Waterloo. 

These combined circumstances completely 
restored the vigour and efficiency of the cen- 
tral authority at Paris over all France. In 
possession of a frame of government the 
strongest and most despotic of any in Europe, 
supported by the ardent and influential part 
of the population in the capital, fanned by the 
gales of public passion and prejudice, they 
speedily became irresistible. Every thing con- 
tributed to increase the power of government. 
The public hatred at hereditary succession, 
which forced on the abolition of the House of 
Peers and the appointment of their successors 
by the crown, demolished the last barrier (and 
it Avas but a feeble one) which the preceding 
convulsions had left between the throne and 
universal dominion. The public impatience 
for war, which made them bear without mur- 
muring an increase of the national expendi- 
ture, on the accession of Louis Philippe, from 
980,000,000 francs to 1,511,000,000 in one year, 
enabled the government to raise the army from 
180,000 to 420,000 men, and fan the military 
spirit through all France, by the establishment 
of National Guards. The Chamber of Depu- 
ties, thrown into the shade by the tricolour 
flag, and the reviews in the Place Carousel, 
was soon forgotten ; its members, destitute, for 
the most part, of property, consideration, or 
weight in their respective departments, speedily 
fell into contempt; the opposition was gained 
over or withdrew in despair from a hopeless 
cause ; and a party which, under the white 
flag, and the priest-ridden government, had 
risen to a majority in the legislature, was soon 
reduced to a miserable remnant of six or eight 
members. The debates in the Chamber have 
almost disappeared; they are hardly ever re- 
ported; all eyes are turned from the legisla- 
ture to the war-office; from the declamations 
of disappointed patriots, to the acclamations 
of brilliant battalions ; from a thought on the 
extinction of public freedom, to the exhilarating 
prospect of foreign conquest. 

It is this combination of a despotic executive 
in possession of all the influence in the state, 
with the infusion of popularity into the sys- 
tem of government, which has enabled Louis 
Philippe, aided by his own great ability, not- 
withstanding his extreme personal unpopularity, 
to carry through obnoxious and tyrannical 
measures never contemplated by Napoleon in 
the zenith of his power. One of the most re- 
markable of these, is the encircling Paris with 
fortified posts, or, as the republicans call it, the 
project " d'embastiller Paris." To those who 
recollect the transports of enthusiasm with 
which the storming of the Bastile was re- 
ceived over all France in 1789, it must appear 
the most extraordinary of all things, that 
a revolutionary government should venture 
upon the step of constructing Ten Bastiles, 
many larger, all stronger, than the old one, 
around Paris, in such situation, as absolutely 
to command the metropolis, by enabling the 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



141 



government, at pleasure, to intercept its sup- 
plies of provisions ; yet this has been done, 
and is now doing. Vincennes, situated a 
league beyond the Barricade de Trone, is 
undergoing a thorough repair; and its cannon, 
placed within a regular fortification, will com- 
pletely command the great road leading into 
• the Fauxbourg St. Antoine. Other, and simi- 
lar fortresses, are in the course of construction, 
in a circle round Paris, at the distance of about- 
two miles from each other, and a mile, or a 
mile and a half beyond the external barrier. 
When completed, they will at once give the 
government the command of the rebellious 
capital; not a pound of provisions can enter a 
circle inhabited by nearly a million of souls, 
but under the guns of these formidable for- 
tresses. The plans were completed, the ground 
was all purchased, the works were going for- 
ward, when they were interrupted by the cries 
of part of the National Guard, in defiling be- 
fore the king on the 29th July last. The 
Chamber of Deputies had in vain refused, in 
accordance with the wishes of the capital, a 
grant of money for the purpose; the crown 
was going on of its own authority, and from 
its own funds. And though the undertaking 
has been suspended for a time from the cause 
above mentioned, excepting at Vincennes, 
-which is rapidly advancing, government openly 
announce their intention of resuming it next 
■spring, when a majority of the Chamber will 
be won over to give it their support.* 

The most singular circumstance connected 
with the present political state of France, is 
the co-existence of a despotic military govern- 
ment, with a wild and intemperate republican 
press in the capital. This may appear in- 
credible, but nevertheless it is certain that it 
exists ; and it constitutes an element by no 
means to be overlooked, in considering its 
future prospects, because it may, in a moment, 
hurl the present dynasty from the throne, and 
elevate a new family, or different executive, to 
the possession of its despotic powers. To give 
only a single example of the length to which 
this extravagance is carried, we select by mere 
chance, an article which recently appeared in 
the Tribune. 

" Those who place themselves in the current 
of political change should consider well whither 
it will lead them, before they embark on its 
waves. The authors of the revolt on the 9th 
Thermidor,f were far from intending to extin- 
guish public freedom ; but, nevertheless, the 
reaction against liberty has been incessant 
since the fall of Robespierre, with the excep- 
tion perhaps of the Three Days of July. 

"It is in vain to say that it was Napoleon, 
or the Restoration, or Louis Philippe, who ex- 
tinguished the freedom of France: it was the 
overthrow of Robespierre which was the fatal 
stroke. We have never since known what 
liberty was, we have lived only under a suc- 
cession of tyrants. 

" Impressed with these ideas, a band of pa- 
triots have commenced the republication of the 
1 

♦It has since been completed by the aid of the war 
party, headed by M. Thiers. 

fThe day when Robespierre waa overthrown. 



speeches of Robespierre, St. Just, and Marat, 
which will be rendered accessible to the very 
humblest of the people, by the moderate price 
of a sous a number, at which it is to be sold. 
We earnestly recommend the works of these 
immortal patriots to our readers. They will 
find every thing that philosophy could discover, 
or learning reveal, or humanity desire, or elo- 
quence enforce, in their incomparable produc- 
tions." — Tribune, Aug. 20. 

Again, in the next number we read as fol- 
lows : — 

"The soi-disant patriots of the day are in a 
total mistake when they pretend that it is an 
erroneous system of taxation which is the root 
of the public discontents. This is no doubt 
an evil, but it is nothing compared to that 
which flows from a defective system of social 
organization. 

" The tyranny of the rich over the poor is 
the real plague which infests society; the eter- 
nal source of oppression, in comparison of 
which all others are but as dust in the balance. 
What have we gained by the Revolution 1 The 
substitution of the Chausee d' An tin for the 
Fauxbourg St. Germain. An aristocracy of 
bankers for one of nobles. What have the 
people gained by this change 7 Are they bet- 
ter fed, or clothed, or lodged, than before 1 
What is it to them that their oppressors are 
no longer counts or dukes ? Tyranny can 
come from the bureau as well as the palace: — 
there will be no real regeneration to France 
till a more equal distribution of pROPEitTr 
strikes at the root of all the calamities of 
mankind. 

"The principles of pure and unmixed de- 
mocracy are those of absolute wisdom, of 
unwearied philanthropy, of universal happi- 
ness. When the rule of the people is com- 
pletely established, the reign of justice, free- 
dom, equality, and happiness will commence; 
ail the evils of humanity will disappear before 
the awakened energies of mankind." — Tribune, 
Aug. 21. 

When principles such as these, clothed in 
insinuating language, and enforced with no 
small share of ability, are daily poured forth 
from the Parisian press, and read by admiring 
multitudes among its ardent and impassioned 
population, we are led to examine how society 
can exist with such doctrines familiarly spread 
among the lower orders. But the phenomenon 
becomes still more extraordinary, when it is 
perceived that these anarchical doctrines are 
in close juxtaposition to the most complete 
and rigorous despotism to which the people 
under successive governments submit without 
any practical attempt at resistance ; that the 
citizens who indulge in these absurd specu- 
lations are content to wait for hours at the 
police office, before they can go ten leagues 
from the capital, and go quietly to jail with, 
the first gens d'armes who meet them on the 
road without their passports. 

The truth is, that the French, during all the 
phases of the Revolution, as Napoleon re- 
marked, not only never tasted one hour of real 
freedom, but never formed a conception of 
what it was, The efforts of the factions who 
for forty years have torn its bosom, have all 



142 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



been directed to one object, the acquisition of 
voli'icd power by thamselver, without bestonring 
a thought on the far more important matter 
of how that power is to be restrained toward - 
others. The consequence is, that the exertions 
of the party in opposition are all directed to 
one object, the displacing of their adversaries 
from their places in administration, or over- 
turning the family on the throne, without the 
slightest intention of remodelling the frame of 
government, so as to impose any effectual 
check on the executive. If the republican 
opposition were to succeed to the helm, they 
would probably push through such a change 
in the composition of the electoral colleges, as 
might secure for their party the predominance 
in the legislature, but they would make as few 
concessions to public freedom as was done by 
their predecessors Robespierre and St. Just. 
The police would still fetter the actions of 
every man in France; the impdt fonder c would 
still carry off from thirteen to twenty per cent, 
of every income from property; the govern- 
ment officers at Paris would still dispose of 
every office in the kingdom, from the minister 
at the head of the army, to the scavenger at 
the tail of the cleaning department. 

The party in opposition, who long for the 
enjoyment of power and offices, has been im- 
mensely weakened by the result of the Three 
Days. The royalists, indeed, are everywhere 
excluded from the slightest participation in the 
government; but so are they from any in- 
fluence in the legislature; and a miserable 
minority of twenty or thirty members finds it 
quite in vain to attempt any struggle in par- 
liament. The great body of the popular party 
have got into office in consequence of their 
triumph : it may safely be affirmed that not 
less than 300,000 liberals are now the employes 
in civil government alone. Thus the patriots 
of France are now very generally and com- 
fortably ensconced in official situations ; and 
it is utterly impossible, in consequence, to 
rouse them to any hostility to the ruling power. 
In this way the republican party are, to a great 
extent, won over to the government, and the)' 
can afford to allow the disappointed remnant 
of their faction to vent their discontent in de- 
mocratic publications. This complete division 
of the liberal party, and secure anchoring of 
four-fifths of its members by the strong tenure 
of official emolument, which has followed the 
Revolution of July, is the true secret of the 
present strength of government; for the dis- 
contented royalists in the provinces, though 
numerous and brave, will never be able to 
throw off the central authority of the capital. 

It is not to be imagined, however, from all 
this, that the government of Louis Philippe is 
established on a solid foundation. No govern- 
ment can be so, which is founded not on the 
great and lasting interests of the state, but its 
ileeting passions — which depends not on the 
property of the country, but the mob of the 
metropolis. The throne of the Barricades 
rests entirely on the armed force of the capital. 
" A breath may unmake it, as a breath has 
made.*' A well-concerted urban revolt, the 
defection of a single regiment, supported by a 
majority of the National Guard?, may any day 



seat a consul, a general, or Henry V. on the 
throne. It has lost popularity immensely with 
the movement party, out of office, comprehend- 
ing all the ardent and desperate characters, by 
persisting in an anti-republican policy, and 
remaining steadily at peace. Its incessant 
and rigOrOUS prosecution of the press, though 
inadequate hitherto to extirpate that last re- 
main of popular sovereignty, has exposed it to 
the powerful assaults of that mighty engine. 
The sovereign on the throne, and the whole 
royal family, are neglected or disliked, not- 
withstanding the great abilities of its head and 
estimable qualities of many of its members. 
A vigorous and successful foreign war would 
at once restore its popularity, and utterly 
silence all the clamour about the loss of free- 
dom ; but Without the aid of that powerful 
stimulant, it is impossible to say how soon the 
present dynasty may be overturned, and a 
fresh race or government be thrown up by an- 
other eruption of the revolutionary volcano. 

But come what race or form of sovereignty 
there may, the government of Paris will equally 
remain a perfect and uncontrolled despotism 
over France. This is the great and final re- 
sult of the first Revolution, which should ever 
be kept steadily in view by the adjoining states. 
Let Henry V. or the Duke of Orleans, Marshal 
Soulr, or Odillon Barrot, succeed to supreme 
power, the result Avill be the same. The bones 
of Old France have been broken by the vast 
rolling-stone which has passed over the state ; 
New France has not the elements within it to 
frame a constitutional throne. The people 
must remain slaves to the central government, 
because they have destroyed the superior classes 
who might shield them, from its oppression. 
Asiatic has succeeded to European civilization, 
and political power is no longer to be found 
independent of regal appointment. All supe- 
riority depends upon the possession of office ; 
the distinctions of hereditary rank, the descent 
of considerable property, have alike disap- 
peared; over a nation of ryots, who earn a 
scanty subsistence by the sweat of their brow, 
is placed a horde of Egyptian taskmasters,, 
who wring from them the fruits of their toil, 
and a band of Proetorian guards who dispose 
at pleasure of their government. 

In one particular, little understood on the 
English side of the Channel, the similarity of 
the result of French regeneration to the in- 
stitutions of Oriental despotism, is most strik- 
ing. The weight of direct taxation is at once 
the mark and the result of despotic govern- 
ment. It is remarked by Gibbon, that the great 
test of the practical power of government is 
to be found in the extent to which it can carry 
the direct payments by the people to the treasury ; 
and that whenever the majority of imposts are 
indirect, it is a proof that it is compelled to 
consult the inclinations and feelings of its sub- 
jects. He adduces as an illustration of this 
profound yet obvious remark, (all profound 
remarks, when once made, appear obvious,) 
the excessive weight of direct taxation in the 
latter period of the Roman empire. In Gaul, 
in the time of Constantine, the capitation-tax 
Had risen to the enormous sum of nine pounds 
sterling for every freeman: an impost so ex- 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



143 



cessive, that among the poorer citizens it could 
be made up only by several being allowed to 
club together to form one head. Sismondi, in 
like manner, observes, that the exorbitant 
weight of direct taxes was the great cause of 
the progressive depopulation of the Roman 
empire. At this moment the burden of the 
fixed payment exacted from a Turkish pashalic 
which is never alloAved to diminish, and con- 
sequently with the decline of the inhabitants 
becomes intolerable, is the great cause of the 
rapid depopulation of the Ottoman empire. 
In Hindostan and China, the proportion of the 
fruits of the soil which goes directly to the 
government varies from 30 to 50 per cent. 

Akin to this, the last and well-known result 
of despotic oppression, is the enormous weight 
of the direct taxes in France. The tax on 
proprietors is fixed at present at 13 per ecu!.: 
but this, oppressive as it would appear in this 
country, where the weight of democratic des- 
potism is only beginning to be felt, is nothing 
to the real burden which falls on the unhappy 
proprietors. By the valuation or cadastre made 
by the government surveyor, the real weight 
of the burden is liable to indefinite increase, 
and in general brings it up to 20, sometimes 
30 per cent.* The valuation is taken, not 
from the actual receipt of the owner, but what 
it is estimated his property is worth ; and as 
the smiles of government are directed towards 
these official gentlemen nearly in proportion 
to the amount to which they can raise the 
valuation of their district, the injustice, com- 
mitted in this way is most extreme. We know 
many properties on the Garonne and Rhone, 
where, from the exorbitance of the valuation, 
the tax comes to 35 and 40 per cent, on the 
produce. Its weight may be judged of by the 
fact, that this direct impost produces yearly 
350,000,000 francs, or about 14,000,000/. ster- 
ling, which almost entirely comes from the 
iand-owners.j- Now the income-tax of Great 
Britain during the war produced just that sum ; 
and most certainly the income from all sources 
of the British empire at that period was double 
the amount of that now enjoyed by the landed 
proprietors of France4 The result of this is, 
that the French land-owners pay, on the whole, 
20 per cent, on the annual worth of their in- 
comes. In forty years from the commencement 
of their revolutionary troubles, the French 
have got nearly to the standard fixed on the 
ryots of Hindostan, in the lightest taxed dis- 
tricts of India; and more than tripled the faille, 
which Avas held forth as an insupportable 
burden at their commencement! Let them go 
on as they are doing, and in half a century 
I hey will again find the enormous capitation- 

* From the infinite subdivision of land in Franco, and 
the continual change of hands through which it passes, 
it in fact belongs in property to no one individual, but to 
the Public Treasury, from the excessive weight of direct 
taxation and the duties on alienations of any kind. — 
Donnadicuy 256. 

tDupin estimates the income of proprietors in France 
at J, 626,000,00.') francs, or 65,000,000/., so that if 350,000,000 
francs, or 14,000,000?. sterling, is taken from them in 
;iie form of direct taxes, the burden is as 14 to 1.6 on their 
whole income, or 21 per cent.— See Di pin, Force Com- 
merciale de France, ii. 206. 

tThS income of official persons is taken at a different 
rate, varying from 6£ to 8 per cent.; but .itlbrmsatriflinc 
part of lb'; direct taxation. 



tax of Constantine fixed about their necks. 
Thus the result of human folly and iniquity is 
the same in alt ages and countries ; and the 
identical consequences which flowed fifteen 
hundred years ago, remotely but surely, from 
the madness of Gracchus and the democrats 
of Rome, in destroying the Roman aristocracy, 
is evidently approaching, though with infinite- 
ly swifter steps from the corresponding mad- 
ness of the French republicans in extirpating 
the higher classes of their monarchy. 

We have often asked the proprietors in dif- 
ferent parts of France, why they did not en- 
deavour to diminish or equalize this enormous 
burden, which, in the wine provinces especial- 
ly, is felt as so oppressive 1 They universally 
answered, that the thing was impossible ; that 
they had memorialized Napoleon and Louis 
XVIII., the Chamber of Deputies and Peers, 
Villele and the Due de Richelieu, but all to no 
purpose. The weight of the impqt fonticre, 
the injustice of the cadastre, remains unchanged 
and unchangeable. Four or five millions of 
little proprietors, scattered over the vast ex- 
panse of France, a majority of whom have not 
51, yearly from their land, can effect nothing 
against the despotic central government of 
Paris. They themselves say, that the direct 
burdens on the land are becoming so excessive, 
that the sovereign is, as in Oriental dynasties, 
the real proprietor, and they are but tenants who 
labour for his benefit more than their own. 
Herein may be discerned the hand of Provi- 
dence, causing the sins of men to work out 
their own punishment. If the French people 
had not committed the frightful injustice of 
confiscating the property of their nobles and 
clergy, they would now have possessed within 
themselves a vast body of influential proprie- 
tors, capable, as in England, under the old 
Constitution, either in the Upper or Lower 
House, of preventing or arresting the oppres- 
sion of the central government, and the enor- 
mous burden of 20 per cent, directly laid on 
land would never have been permitted. But 
proceeding, as they have done, by destroying 
all the intermediate classes in the state, and 
leaving only government employes and peasant 
proprietors, they have cut away the shield 
which would have protected the poor from the 
vexation of the central authority, and left them- 
selves and their children for ever exposed to 
its oppression. They imagined that by laying 
hold of the land of others, they would step into 
the comforts and opulence of separate proper- 
ty; but the wages of iniquity seldom prosper 
in the end, either in nations or individuals. 
They have fallen in consequence under an 
oppressive taxation, which has more than 
counterbalanced all the advantages of the spoil 
they have acquired; the sovereign has grown- 
up into the real land-owner, and the cultivators, 
instead of becoming the peasants of Switzer- 
land, have degenerated into the ryots of Hin- 
dostan. 

The effects of the Revolution of July on the 
Religion- of France, is precisely the same as 
on its political situation. It has drawn aside 
the thin veil which concealed the effects of 
the irreligious spirit of the first convulsion, 
and displayed in its native deformity the con 



144 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



sequence of unmooring the human mind from 
the secure haven of faith and virtue. 

That the first Revolution was essentially 
irreligious in its spirit, that it destroyed not 
only the teachers and the property, but the 
very name of Christianity, is universally 
known. But in this, as in every other respect, 
the Restoration drew a veil over its ultimate 
and final consequences. The exiled family 
returned to the palaces of their fathers, with a 
profound sense of religion, rendered only the 
more indelible from the disasters which had 
preceded their restoration. By the combined 
effect of their authority and influence, a gloss 
was thrown over the infidel consequences of 
the first Revolution; the priests were reinstated 
in the smiles of court favour ; the Tuileries 
again resounded with the strains of devotion; 
religious observances were tolerably attended 
to ; the churches were filled, if not with the 
faithful, at least with the ambitious, and pro- 
motion, dependent in some degree on attention 
to the ceremonial of the Catholic faith, drew 
multitudes to Ihe standard of St. Louis. Marshal 
Soult was to be seen every Sunday parading 
to church, preceded b}' an enormous breviary ; 
he cared not whether the road to power lay 
by the chapel of the Virgin, or the altar of the 
Goddess of reason. Sunday, especially in the 
last ten years, was well observed in the great 
towns. Travellers perceived no material dif- 
ference between the appearance of London 
and Paris during divine service. Literature, 
encouraged by this transient glance of sun- 
shine, resumed its place by the side of de- 
votion ; the mighty genius of Chateaubriand 
lent its aid to the Holy Alliance, and poured 
over the principles of natural and revealed 
religion a flood of resplendent light; Michaux 
traced the history of the Crusaders, and the 
efforts for the liberation of the Holy Sepulchre, 
with an antiquary's knowledge and a poet's 
fire; Barante revived in the Annals of Bnr- 
gundian princes, the old and venerable feel- 
ings of feudal devotion; while Guizot, as yet 
untouched by the seductions of power, traced 
with admirable ability, to admiring multitudes 
in the French metropolis, the historical bless- 
ings of religious institutions. Almost all ob- 
servers, misled by these appearances, flattered 
themselves, that the period of the reaction of 
the human mind against the principles of ir- 
religiori had arrived; that the reign of infideli- 
ty was drawing to its close; and that the 
French Revolution, nursed amidst the mazes 
of sophistry and skepticism, was destined to 
find refuge at last in the eternal truths of 
religion. 

But this sudden extinction of evil and resur- 
rection of good is not the order of nature. 
Infidelity, nursed for half a century, is not ex- 
tinguished in a few years. The robbery of 
one-third of the national property from the 
service of the church is not the way to secure 
the fruits of virtue : a hiatus of ten years in 

; ' the people, snapped 
v ■■'■. tn which had descended un- 
broken from I ■ es. These deplo- 
. i ly but securely work- 
lences, through all 
Ihe period of the Restoration. The general 



and profound hatred in towns at the very sight 
even of an ecclesiastic, was a certain indica- 
tion of the great extent to which the deadly 
weeds of infidelity had spread. The Revolu- 
tion of July at once tore aside the veil, and 
exposed to view the extraordinary spectacle 
of a nation in which the classes who concen- 
trate almost the whole political influence of 
the state, are almost wholly of an irreligious 
character. This is to be ascribed chiefly to 
the long chasm in religious instruction which 
took place from 1791 to 1800, and the entire 
assumption of political power under Napo- 
leon, by a class who were entire strangers to 
any kind of devotion. Such a chasm cannot 
readily be supplied ; ages must elapse before 
its effects are obliterated. "Natura tamen," 
says Tacitus, "infirmitatis humana? tardiora 
sunt remedia quam mala, et ut corpora lente 
augescunt cito extinguuntur, sicingeniastudia- 
que oppresseris facilius quam revocaveris." 

But to whatever cause it is owing, nothing 
can be more certain, than that infidelity again 
reigns the lord of the ascendant in Paris. It 
is impossible to be a week in the metropolis 
without being sensible of this. It is computed 
that from sixty to eighty thousand individuals, 
chiefly old women, or persons of the poorest 
classes, believe in the Christian religion. The 
remainder, amounting to about eight hundred 
thousand, make no pretension to such a faith. 
They do not deny it, or say or think anything 
about it ; they pass it by as a doilbtful relic of 
the olden time, now entirely gone by.* It is 
impossible by any external appearances to 
distinguish Sunday from Saturday, excepting 
that every species of amusement and dissipation 
goes on with more spirit on that day that any 
other. We are no advocates for the over-rigid 
or Judaical observance of the day of rest. 
Perhaps some Protestant nations have gone 
too far in converting the Christian Sunday 
into the Jewish Sabbath, and preventing on it 
those innocent recreations which might divert 
the giddy multitude from hidden debauchery. 
But without standing up for any rigid or puri- 
tanical ideas, it may safely be affirmed that the 
toted neglect of Sunday by nine-tenths of the 
people, indicates a fixed disregard of religion 
in any state professing a belief in Christianity. 
In Paris the shops are all open, the carts all 
going, the workmen all employed on the early 
part of Sunday ; and although a part of them 
are closed after two o'clock in the afternoon, it 
is not with the slightest intention of joining in 
any, even the smallest religious duty, that this 
is done. It is " pour s'amuser," to forget the 
fatigues of the week in the excitement with 
which it terminates, that the change takes 
place. At two o'clock, all who can disengage 
themselves from their daily toil, rush away in 
crowds to drink of the intoxicating cup of 
pleasure. Then the omnibusses roll with 
ceaseless din in every direction out of the 
crowded capital, carrying the delighted citi- 
zens to St. Cloud, St. Germains, or Versailles, 
the Ginguettes of Belleville, or the gardens of 
Vincennes ; then the Boulevards teem with 
volatile and happy crowds, delighted by the 

* In this, as in many other respects; a most gratifying 
change has, since 1833, begun in France. 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



145 



enjoyment of seeing and being seen ; then the 
gardens of the Tuileries and the Luxembourg, 
the Jardin des Plantes, and the Champs Ely- 
sees, are enlivened with the young, the gay, and 
the handsome, of both sexes, both rich and 
poor; then the splendid drive to the triumphal 
arch of Neuille, is filled with the comparative- 
ly few equipages which the two Revolutions 
have left to the impoverished hotels of the 
capital. While these scenes of gayety and 
amusement are going on, the priests in each 
of the principal churches are devoutly per- 
forming mass before a few hundred old wo- 
men, tottering ecclesiastics, or young children, 
and ten or fifteen Protectant churches are as- 
sembling as many thousands to the duties of 
the reformed faith. Such is a Parisian Sun- 
day; and such the respect for a divine ordi- 
nance, which remains in what they ambi- 
tiously call the metropolis of European civili- 
zation. 

• As evening draws on, the total disregard of 
religious observance is, if possible, still more 
conspicuous. Never is the opera filled with 
such enthusiastic crowds as on Sunday even- 
ing; — never are the theatres of the Port St. 
Martin, the Boulevards, the Opera Comique, 
the Y r audeville and the Variet.es, so full as on 
that occasion ; — never are the balls beyond the 
barriers so crowded ; — never is Tivoli so en- 
livening, or the open air concerts in the 
Champs Elysees thronged by so many thou- 
sands. On Sunday evening in Paris there 
seems to be but one wish, one feeling, one 
desire, — and that is, to amuse themselves ; and 
by incessantly labouring at that one object, 
they certainly succeed in it to an extent that 
could hardly be credited in colder and more 
austere latitudes. 

The condition of the clergy over France is, 
generally speaking, depressed and indigent in 
the extreme. The Constituent Assembly, who 
decreed the annexation of the whole property 
of the church to the state, and declared f that 
they intrusted the due maintenance of reli- 
gion and the succour of the poor to the honour 
of the great nation," redeemed their pledge, by 
giving most of the incumbents of the rural 
parishes from 48/. to 60/. a year. Bishops 
have 6000 francs, or 240/., yearly. The arch- 
bishop of Paris alone has 600/. In some of 
the town parishes, the incumbents, from sub- 
sequent endowments or adventitious sources, 
have from 200/. to 300/. per annum ; but, ge- 
nerally speaking, their income, in the richest 
parishes, varies from 80/. a year to 120/.; in 
the poorest, it is only from 40/. to 50/. It may 
safely be affirmed, that the clergy of France, 
taken as a body, are poorer than the school- 
masters of England and Scotland. 

The effect of this is seen in the most striking 
manner in the appearance of the rural land- 
scape of France. You generally, in the vil- 
lages, see a parish church, the bequest to the 
nation of the pious care of their forefathers ; 
but great numbers of these are in a ruinous 
or tottering condition. There is an evident 
want of any funds to keep them up. The 
most trifling repairs of a church, as every 
thing else in France, must be executed by the 
government ; and the ministers of Louis 
19 



Philippe seem to think that this is one of the 
articles upon which economy can best be 
practised. But a parsonage-house, or any 
sort of separate residence for the cure, is 
never to be seen. He is, in general, boarded 
in the houses of some farmer or small pro- 
prietor; and in habits, society, education, 
manners, and rank of life, is in no respect 
above the peasantry by whom he is sur- 
rounded. 

It is not to be imagined from this, however, 
that the country clergy are either ignorant or 
inattentive to their sacred duties; on the con- 
trary, they are most assiduous in discharging 
them, and are, in general, justly endeared to 
their flocks, not only by an irreproachable life, 
but the most constant and winning attentions. 

It would be unjust to expect in them the 
high education, gentlemanlike manners, or 
enlightened views of the English clergy; or 
the more discursive but useful information 
which is to be met with in the manses of the 
Presbyterian ministers in Scotland. We must 
not expect to see either Hebers, or Copple- 
stones, or Bucklands, or Blairs, or Robertsons, 
or Chalmerses, in the modern church of France. 
The race of Bossuet and Fenelon, of Massil- 
lon and Bourdaloue, of Flechier and Saurin. 
of Pascal and Malebranche, is extinct. The 
church is cast down into an inferior class in 
society. No one would make his son an ec- 
clesiastic, who could obtain for him a situation 
in a grocer's shop. But, in the present state 
of the country, it is perhaps as well that this 
is the case. The reformation of the corrupted 
higher orders in the towns, is out of the ques- 
tion ; and if a priesthood, drawn from their 
ranks, were to be established, it would speedily 
draw to itself such a load of infidel obloquy, 
as would lead to its destruction. But the poor 
and humble parish priests are overlooked and 
despised by the arrogant liberals in possession 
of office and power ; and, like their predeces- 
sors in the apostolic ages, they are, unob- 
served, laying the foundation of a spirit 
destined, in a future age, to overturn the insti- 
tutions of their haughty oppressors, and effect 
that real regeneration of society, which can 
be found only in the reformation of the morals 
and principles of its members.* 

The abject poverty of the rural clergy in 
most parts of the rural districts of France, 
is a most painful object of contemplation to an 
English traveller. There is scarce any pro- 
vision for them in sickness or old age ; and 
when they are compelled, by either of these 
causes, to divide their scanty income with a 
more robust assistant, their condition becomes 
truly pitiable. In most cathedral churches is 
to be seen a box, with the inscription " Tronc 
pour les malheureux pretres ;" a few sous are 
thankfully received by the religious teachers 
of the great nation. One of these boxes is to 
be seen on the pillars of Notre Dame ; another 
under the gorgeous aisle of Rouen ; a third in 
the graceful choir of Amiens ; a fourth dis- 
graces the generation who pass under the 
splendid portals of Rheims, and a fifth, that 



* The change here predicted has since taken place to 

a great extent in France. 

N 



146 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



which points with deserved pride to the match- 
less Tower of Chartres. 

A superficial observer who should judge of 
the religious state of France from the appear- 
ance of its great towns, however, would be far 
wide of the truth. It is a total mistake to sup- 
pose that devotion is extinct, or in the process 
of extinction among its country inhabitants. It 
is in the great towns that infidelity reigns tri- 
umphant; — it is among the young, the active, 
and the profligate citizens of despotic Paris, 
that religion is the subject of ridicule. It is true 
this class are now in the exclusive possession 
of political power; it is true several hundred 
thousand of them are dispersed over the mighty 
net which envelopes France in the meshes of 
the capital ; it is true that they direct literature, 
and influence thought, and stamp its character 
upon the nation, in the estimation of foreign 
states : still they are not in possession of the 
mighty lever w r hich directs the feelings of the 
rural inhabitants. As long as forty-eight thou- 
sand parish priests, overlooked from their po- 
verty, despised from their obscurity, contempt- 
ible to this world from their limited information, 
are incessantly and assiduously employed in 
diffusing religious belief through the peasantry, 
the extirpation of Christianity in France is im- 
possible. Its foundations are spreading the 
deeper — its influences becoming more para- 
mount in the uncorrupted provinces, from the 
total neglect into which it has fallen with the 
influential classes in the capital. It is impos- 
sible to enter any parish church in any part 
of the provinces, without being sensible that a 
large and increasingportion of the peasantry are 
strongly and profoundly impressed with reli- 
gious feelings. In this state of things, the eye 
of philanthropy, without pretending to the gift 
of prophecy, can perhaps discern the elements 
brewing which are destined, in some future age, 
to produce another Revolution, — an insur- 
rection of the provinces against the capital, 
— a real regeneration of society, by the infusion 
of rural simplicity and virtue into urban cor- 
ruption and degeneracy, — a termination of the 
convulsion, which commenced by casting down 
religion, in the triumph of the faith which ga- 
thers strength from misfortune. But whether 
this is to be the final result, or whether, as is 
perhaps more probable, the utter prostration 
of the internal liberties of the nation, through 
the consequences of the Revolution, is to lead 
to the loss of its external independence, and 
the regeneration of southern weakness by a 
race of northern conquerors ; one thing is cer- 
tain, and may be confidently prophesied, that 
France will never know what real freedom is, 
till her institutions are founded on the basis of 
religion, and that with the triumph of the faith 
which her Liberals abhor, and have cast down, 
is indissolubly wound up the accomplishment 
of the objects which they profess to have at 
heart. 

The Mouals of France are in the state which 
might be expected in a country which has bro- 
ken asunder all the bonds of society, and de- 
spises all the precepts of religion. Pleasure 
and excitement are the general subjects of 
idolatry — money, as the key to them, the uni- 
versal object. This desire for wealth is per- 



haps more strongly felt in Paris, and forms 
the great passion of life more completely, than 
in any other capital in Europe, because there 
are more objects of desire presented to the en- 
tranced senses which cannot be gained in any 
other way ; and of the prevalence of this desire 
the great extent of its gaming-houses affords 
ample proof. But money is not the object of 
desire to the Parisian, as to the Dutchman or 
Englishman, from any abstract passion for ac- 
cumulation, or any wish to transmit, by a life 
of economy, an ample patrimony to his chil- 
dren. It is for the sake of present and immedi- 
ate gratification; that he may go more fre- 
quently to the opera, or indulge more liberally 
in the pleasures of the Ginguette ; that his wife 
and daughters may be more gaily dressed on 
Sundays, and their Tivoli parties be more bril- 
liant, that money is so passionately coveted. 
The efforts made by all classes to gain a live- 
lihood, and the prodigious obstacles which 
competition throws in their way, are perhaps 
greater in Paris than in any other metropolis 
of Europe. " Qua^renda est pecuhia primum, 
virtus post nummos," is the general maxim of 
life. But still there is little accumulation of 
capital, comparatively speaking, within its 
walls. As fast as money is made, it is spent; 
either in the multifarious objects of desire which 
are everywhere presented to the sight, or in 
the purchase of rentes, or government annui- 
ties, which die with the holders. The propor- 
tion of annuitants in France is incomparably 
greater than in England; and the destitution 
of families from the loss of their head, exists 
to a painful and unheard of extent. 

Pleasure and excitement are the universal 
objects ; the maxims of Epicurus the general 
observance. To enjoy the passing hour — to 
snatch from existence all the roses which it 
will afford, and disquiet themselves as little as 
possible about its thorns, is the grand principle 
of life. The state of Paris in this respect has 
been well described by a late enlightened and 
eloquent author — 

" Paris is no longer a city which belongs ta 
any one nation or people: it is in many re- 
spects the metropolis of the world ; the ren- 
dezvous of all the rich, all the voluptuous on 
the face of the earth. For them its artists, as- 
sembled from every quarter of Europe, imagine 
or invent every day fresh objects of excitement 
or desire; for them they build theatres, and 
multiply indefinitely all the ephemeral novel- 
ties calculated to rouse the senses and stimu- 
late expense. There every thing may be pur- 
chased, and that too under the most alluring 
form. Gold is the only divinity which is wor- 
shipped in that kingdom of pleasure, and it is 
indifferent from what hand it flows. It is in 
that centre of enjoyment that all the business 
of France is done — that all its wealth is 
expended, and the fruit of its toil from one 
end of the kingdom to the other brought to the 
great central mart of pleasure. The proprie- 
tor wrings the last farthing out of his soil — the 
merchant, the notary, the advocate, flock there 
from all quarters to sell their capital, their re- 
venue, their virtue, or their talents, for plea- 
sure of every description, which a thousand 
artists oourtray in the most seducing colours 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



147 



to a nation famishing for enjoyment. And it 
is from that corrupted centre that we are told 
the regeneration of the state, the progress pf 
independence and liberty, is to flow."* 

As pleasure and excitement are thus the 
universal objects, it may readily be conceived 
what facilities are afforded in the French me- 
tropolis for their gratification. The gaming- 
houses, accordingly, are innumerable; and 
above a third of the children born within the 
barriers are bastards.j- But those who look 
for excitation of that description, will not find 
in Paris any thing approaching to the open 
and undisguised profligacy of London. There 
is nothing in its public places approaching to 
the saloons of Drury Lane, or the upper circles 
of Covent Garden ; the Strand and Regent 
Street at night are infested in a way unknown 
even in the Boulevards Italiens, or the Rue de 
Richelieu. The two Revolutions have organized 
licentiousness. Having become the great object 
of life, and, as it were, the staple commodity 
of the capital, it has fallen under the direction 
of the police. Bienseance and decorum are 
there the order of the day. The sirens of 
pleasure are confined to a few minor theatres, 
and particular quarters of the town ; they 
abound in every -street, almost in every house; 
but they can openly ply their vocation in ap- 
pointed districts only. Even the Palais Royal, 
the cradle of both Revolutions, has been purged 
of the female, anarchists who were their first 
supporters. This is certainly a very great 
improvement, well worthy of imitation on the 
British side of the Channel. Youth and 
timidity are not openly assailed as they are in 
English great towns, and, though those who 
seek for dissipation will meet with it in 
abundance, it is not, willing or unwilling, 
thrust down their throats. It is possible, in 
the Quartier de i'Universite and remoter parts 
of Paris, for young men to pursue their stu- 
dies, infinitely more clear of temptation than 
either at the London University or King's 
College. 

But while these advantages must be con- 
ceded to the organization and arrangements of 
the French police on the one hand, it is not 
the less certain, on the other, that all these fair 
appearances are merely skin-deep, and that 
under this thin disguise is half concealed a 
mass of licentiousness probably unprecedented 
in any modern state. Certainly, never since 
the days of the Roman emperors, was pleasure 
so unceasingly pursued by both sexes, as it is 
now at Paris ; or such efforts made to heighten 
natural desire by forced excitement, or talent 
and art so openly called in to lend their aid to 
the cause of licentiousness. Profligate books 
and prints exist everywhere; but in other 
capitals, they must be sought after to be 
found, and where they are, their character and 
appearance show that they are meant for the 
brutal classes, or the higher orders in their 
moments of brutality, only. But in Paris the 
case is the reverse. The treasures of know- 
ledge, the elegance of art, the fascination of 
genius, are daily and hourly employed in the 
cause of corruption; and of them may truly 

* General Donnadieu, 270—271. 

t Dupin's Force Commerciale, p. 40. 



be said, what Mr. Burke falsely affirmed of the 
old French manners, that " vice has lost half 
its deformity by having lost all its grossness." 
The delicacy and beauty of these productions, 
as well as their amazing number, prove that 
they find a ready sale with the higher as well 
as the lower orders. They have discovered 
the truth of the old maxim, "Ars est celare 
artem." Voluptuousness is more surely at- 
tained by being half disguised ; and corruption 
spreads the more securely, from having cast 
aside every thing calculated to disgust its un- 
hardened votaries. The arts of lithography 
and printing go hand in hand in this refined 
and elegant system of demoralization ; the 
effusions of genius, the beauty of design, the 
richness of colouring, are employed together 
to throw an entrancing light over the scenes 
of profligacy, and the ordinary seductions of a 
great capital, heightened by all that taste or 
art can suggest to stimulate the passions — 
emblematic of the mixed good and evil which 
has resulted from these great inventions, and 
the prodigious force they have given to the 
solvents of vice in one age, as well as the 
hardening principles of virtue in another. 

It is observed by Montesquieu, that honour, 
as the national principle, is more durable in 
its nature than either virtue or religion ; and 
the present state of Paris contrasted with the 
military character of the French affords a 
strong confirmation of the observation. The 
incessant pursuit of pleasure by both sexes, 
has in every age been the grand solvent which 
has melted away the principle of military vir- 
tue ; and the reason is obvious, because those 
whose chief object is selfish gratification can- 
not endure the fatigues and the privations 
attendant on military exploits. There cannot 
be a doubt that this destroying principle is in 
full operation in the French capital ; but 
though it has completely eaten through the 
safeguards of religion and virtue, it has hither- 
to left undecayed the passion for military dis- 
tinction. The extraordinary strength which 
this principle has acquired in modern Europe 
in general, and France in particular, from the 
feudal institutions, and the great development 
which it received from the wars of the Revolu- 
tion and the triumphs of Napoleon, have, to all 
appearance, withstood the enervating influence 
of a corrupting ingredient which proved fatal 
to the courage of Greece and Rome ; but it is 
not the less certain that it will ultimately sink 
before its influence. It is by not elevating our 
minds to the slow progress of all such great 
changes, that we are at all misled on any oc- 
casion as to their progress, or the effect on 
public fortune of the principles of decay, which 
spring from the progress of private corruption. 
The alteration, like the decline of the day in 
autumn, is imperceptible from day to day; but 
it becomes quite apparent if we contrast one 
period or age of the world with another. Com- 
pare the age of Regulus or Scipio, with that-of 
Constantine or Honorius ; or that of the Lom- 
bard League with the present pusillanimity of 
the Italian people ; and the prostration of na- 
tional strength by the growth of private selfish- 
ness is obvious to the most careless observer. 
The French Revolution is not destined to form 



US 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



an exception to the general law; its fortunes 
will be ultimately destroyed by the effects of 
the poisoned source from which they sprung; 
the conquests of its authors will be lost by 
their inability to conquer themselves. Both 
revolutions have begun in the Palais Royal, 
the very focus of corruption from every part 
of Fiance; and through every stage of their 
progress, both have given unequivocal proofs 
of their impure origin. Let the friends of reli- 
gion and virtue be of good cheer; no institu- 
tions founded on such a basis were ever yet 
durable; the French Revolution began in the 
haunts of profligacy, and they have spread in 
it the seeds of mortality which will bring it to 
the grave. 

Next to sexual profligacy, gaming is par 
excellence the grand vice of Paris ; and it, like 
every other principle of evil, has made rapid 
and fearful progress since the Three Days. No 
attempts whatever are made to restrain it ; on 
the contrary, it is taken under the safeguard 
of the police, and a tax levied on its profits, as 
on those of prostitution, which constitutes a 
considerable part of the municipal revenue. 
The prodigious number of suicides which 
occur in Paris, amounting on an average to 
above one a night, frequently to a great deal 
more, chiefly spring from the despair produced 
by the inordinate passion for this vice. Unlike 
what generally occurs in England, it exists 
equally among the poorest as the richest 
classes ; their hells are open for the sous of 
the labourer or the francs of the artisan, as 
well as the Napoleon of the officer or the 
rouleaux of the banker. They are to be met 
with in every street ; they spread their devas- 
tating influence through every workshop and 
manufactory in Paris. This perilous vice, like 
that of sexual profligacy, is the natural result 
of a successful revolution ; of the demolition 
of all restraint on the passions, which has 
arisen from silencing the voice of religion, 
and the bounty offered to instant excitement, 
by the uncertainty in regard to the future, 
which the destruction of all the institutions of 
society inevitably produces.* 

In one particular, however, the French capi- 
tal offers a pleasing contrast to every con- 
siderable town in the British isles. Drunken- 
ness, though considerably more prevalent than 
formerly, does not exist in France to an extent 
at all comparable to what it does in England; 
and hence the manners of the lower orders, 
notwithstanding all the anarchy of the Revo- 
lution, are not half so coarse and brutal as in 
our great manufacturing towns. In truth, the 
extraordinary progress of this frightful vice in 
Great Britain, since the reduction of the duty 
on spirits and the abolition of the beer tax,j 
is one of the most woful circumstances in our 
social condition, and which, if not rapidly 
checked by a proper set of fiscal regulations, 
promises soon to plunge our labouring classes 

* A great change in this respect has since been made 
by the authority and interposition of government, after 
the evil here described had become intolerable. 

t Nothing ever gave us more pleasure than to observe 
from a late Parliamentary return, that, since the slight 
addition to the duty on spirits in 1830, the manufacture 
of the fiery poison has declined in Scotland, 1,300,000 
gallons yearly. 



into a state of depravity unparalleled in any 
Christian state. Drunkenness, if seen in public 
at Paris, is at once punished by the police; 
and the prodigious number of civil and mili- 
tary employes who are to be met with in every 
street at night, renders it impossible for the 
inebriated to indulge in those disgraceful 
brawls which then disgrace every English 
city. The abstinence from this vice depends 
chiefly on constitutional causes, the warmth 
of the climate, which renders the excitement 
of intoxication not so desirable as in northern 
latitudes; but much is to be ascribed also to 
the happy custom of levying a heavy duty 
(a franc a bottle) on wine imported into the 
metropolis, — a burden which banishes intoxi- 
cation in a great degree to the outside of the 
barriers, and confines it to the days when a 
walk to those remote stations can be under- 
taken by the working classes. Would that a 
similar burden existed on all spirits imported 
into the towns in Great Britain ! 

The state of Literature, especially those 
lighter branches of it which exhibit the faith- 
ful picture of the public feeling and ideas, is 
equally instructive since the Three Days. It is 
difficult to convey to an English reader, un- 
acquainted with the modern French novels, 
an}' - adequate idea of the extraordinary mix- 
ture which they exhibit; and they present 
perhaps the most convincing proof which the 
history of fiction affords, of the indispensable 
necessity of fixed principles in religion and 
virtue to restrain the otherwise inordinate flight 
of the human imagination. 

It was long the fashion with the apologists 
of the Revolution to assert that public morals 
had improved during its progress ; that the 
license and profligacy of the days of Louis 
XV. and the Regent Orleans would no longer 
be tolerated; and that with the commence- 
ment of higher duties and the growth of severer 
principles, the licentiousness which had so 
long disgraced the French literature had for 
ever disappeared. The present state of French 
novels may show, whether a successful Revo- 
lution, and the annihilation of all the fetters 
of religion, is the way to regenerate such a 
corrupted mass. Having lost nothing of former 
profligacy, having abated nothing of former 
infidelity, they have been tinged by the fierce 
passions and woful catastrophes which arose 
during the first Revolution. Romance has now 
become blended with sensuality; German ex- 
travagance with French licentiousness; the 
demons of the air with the corruptions of the 
world. The modern French novels are not 
one whit less profligate than those of Louis 
XV., but they are infinitely more extravagant, 
wild, and revolting. To persons whose minds 
have as yet been only partially shaken by 
the terrible catastrophes of a revolution, it is 
hardly conceivable how such extravagant fic- 
tions should ever have entered the human 
imagination. They are poured forth, however, 
with unbounded profusion by their modern 
novelists, and passionately read by a genera- 
tion whose, avidity for strong emotions and 
vivid excitement, whether from terror, as- 
tonishment, despair, or licentiousness, seems 
to know no bounds. 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



149 



The limits of an Essay, such as this, embrac- 
ing such a variety of objects, though few more 
important, forbid us from attempting what we 
intended, and possibly may hereafter resume 
— an analysis of some of these extravagant 
and detestable, though often able and power- 
ful publications. Suffice it to say, that the 
basis of almost the whole of them is adultery, 
or other guilty and extravagant sensual pas- 
sion ; and they generally terminate in suicide, 
or some such horrid catastrophe. On details 
of this description they dwell with minute and 
often coarse avidity; but it is by no means 
with such passions that they are solely filled; 
they have also borrowed largely from German 
fiction and extravagance, from Catholic legends 
and superstition, from feudal manners and 
oppression, from chivalrous adventure and 
exploits. They form what may be styled the 
Romantic Licentious, ScJiool of Fiction. Murders 
and robberies, rapes and conflagrations, the 
guillotine and the scaffold, demons and guar- 
dian angels, confessors and confidants, Satan 
and St. Michael, ghosts, wizards, incest, sen- 
suality, parricides, suicides, and every kind 
of extravagance, are thrown together in wild 
confusion; but the general result is ruinous 
to every species of regular or virtuous con- 
duct, and may be considered as affording a 
specimen of the frame of mind in which the 
victims who are shortly after stretched out on 
the Morgue, rush from the gambling-houses 
in the Palais Royal, to drown the chaos of 
contending passions in the waters of the Seine.* 
The dramatic pieces which have sprung up 
since the Revolution of 1830, afford the same 
extraordinary picture of the confusion of ideas, 
feelings, and emotions, in which the French 
youth are involved since they pushed out to a 
stormy sea without either compass or rudder. 
They almost all turn upon adultery, incest, or 
some such elegant and chastened depravity; 
but of the chaos of extravagance, fiction, 
allegory, vice, and horror which they present, 
it is impossible to convey any idea. Some of 
them, particularly " La Reine d'Espagne," have 
been hissed from the stage, as too bad even 
for a Parisian audience. From others, as "La 
Tentation," the most obnoxious scenes, in one 
of which a rape was represented almost be- 
fore the eyes of the spectators, have been 
dropped out. But still they are in general so 
extravagant, indelicate, and licentious, that it 
is impossible to speak of them in terms of 
sufficient reprobation ; and the most respecta- 
ble writers of France, of the Liberal school, 
regard them with a degree of horror even sur- 
passing that which they excite in the mind of 
an English spectator. "If its literature," says 
Salvandy, "is to be regarded as the expression 
of national character, not a hope remains for 
France. It is stained with every species of 
corruption; its fundamental principle is to 
attack every sentiment and interest of which 

* So monstrous have the extravagances become, that 
they have excited the attention even of the steadiest 
apologists of the French Revolution ; and the Edinburgh 
Review, in a recent number, has borne the candid 
testimony of an unwilling witness to the demoralizing 
effects of their favourite political principles. See the 
Late French Novelists, in No. 116 of the Edinburgh 
Review. 



the social order is composed. You would sup- 
pose that it was resolutely bent on restoring 
to France all the* vices which it had imbibed 
at the close of the last century. A sort of 
dogmatic cynicism has invaded all its depart- 
ments. If, on the strength of a name of 
celebrity, or the daily eulogies of the press, 
you venture to a theatre, you see represented 
scenes where the dignity of the one sex is as 
much outraged as the modesty of the other. 
Everywhere the same sort of spectacles await 
you. There is a class which they keep as yet 
behind the curtain, contenting themselves with 
announcing atrocities which the public are 
not yet prepared to bear. Romance has already 
given the example of this depraved species of 
composition. The muse now makes use of 
obscenities, as formerly it did of passion. What 
is to follow when tragedy and romance have 
exhausted their brief career, God only knows. 
When they have ceased to illuminate these 
hideous orgies, the lights of literature will be 
extinguished."* 

To give some idea of these extraordinary 
productions which now are represented with 
such prodigious success at the Parisian thea- 
tres, we shall give an abstract of two of the 
most unexceptionable, and, at the same time, 
the most popular pieces which have appeared 
at the opera since the Revolution of July, "La 
Tentation," and "Robert Le Diable." We 
have selected the most delicate which fell 
under our observation; the pieces represented 
at the minor theatres could not be borne even 
in the decent guise of an English description. 

The first of these, which, in splendour of 
decoration, exceeds any thing yet represented 
even in that most splendid of European theatres, 
turns upon the well-known legend of the Temp- 
tation of St. Anthony ; but it is so altered and 
varied to admit their varied and extravagant 
corruptions, that it is hardly possible to re- 
cognise in it the simple tale which has been so 
often immortalized by the pencil of Teniers. 

The piece opens with the saint reposing on 
his pallet at the gate of a solitary chapel, de- 
dicated to the Virgin Mary, and crowds of pil- 
grims of both sexes arrive at the shrine to offer 
up their vows ; after which, they join in festive 
amusements, and the danseuses, arrayed as pea- 
sant girls, dance round the anchorite with such 
graceful motions, that he is tempted to indulge 
in a little waltz with the fairest of these daugh- 
ters of Eve. Shortly after, when they have 
retired, a young woman of extraordinary beauty 
comes along to the shrine; dazzled by her 
charms, and encouraged by the opportunity 
which the solitude of the situation afforded, he 
forms the design of seduction, and is endea /our- 
ing to carry his intentions into effect, when 
she flies to the chapel of the Virgin, and shriek- 
ing, implores her powerful aid to ward off im- 
pending destruction. Instantly the powers cf 
heaven and hell appear. Astaroth and his 
legions of devils, in a thousand frightful forms, 
rise from the earth, and strive to obtain the 
mastery of the fallen saint and endangered vir- 
gin ; while, high in the clouds above, the an- 
gels of heaven appear to throw their shield 

* Salvandy, Seize Mois des Revo.ntionaires, 408. 
n2 



150 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



over supplicant innocence. At length a truce 
is formed between the contending powers ; the 
condition of which is, that 4.he saint is to be 
surrendered to the powers of darkness, to be 
~by them subjected to all the temptations which 
can endanger human virtue, and if he falls 
under any one, he is to be abandoned soul and 
bod)' to their dominion; but if he proves vic- 
torious, he is to be borne aloft to the regions of 
light. The decorations of this scene are of the 
most exquisite description ; the angels in the 
clouds are placed in the attitudes pourtrayed 
in Raphael's and Correggio's celestial choirs 
in the St. Cecilia at Bologna and the St. Je- 
rome at Parma ; and a mellow light thrown 
over the heavenly group, in so ravishing a 
manner, as to produce an indelible impression 
on the mind of the spectator. 

The next act opens with the convocation of 
the powers of darkness in the infernal regions, 
to consider the measures they should adopt, 
and review the force they could command in 
the great undertaking in which they are en- 
gaged. This leads to a grand review of the 
powers of hell, in which the whole strength 
of the opera and the whole fancy of the artist 
are put forth. The legions of devils, arrayed 
in every possible garb of extravagance, de- 
scend an immense stair, ascending to the top 
of the theatre, on the left hand, and march 
before Astaroth in such numbers, that it is no 
exaggeration to say that three, or four hundred 
persons, splendidly dressed, are on the stage 
at the same time. Yet even here French con- 
ceit is curiously manifested, and these legions 
of infernal spirits, in naked or savage attire, 
are preceded by regular pioneers, with their 
shaggy beards, and axes on their shoulders, 
precisely as in the reviews on the Place Ca- 
rousel ! When the review is concluded, the 
infernal conclave, distrustful of their success 
by open force, resolve to carry on the war by 
more insinuating means, and it is determined 
to tempt the saint by means of a young woman 
of their own creation, gifted with every beautv 
and charm which can entrance the senses, ail 
which are to be employed to seduce his virtue. 
A cauldron appears, the devils in succession 
throw in some attractive or malignant ingre- 
dient, and shortly the siren steps forth, and 
comes forward to give token of her attractive 
powers, by dancing and waltzing before the 
spectators. At the first representation, she 
arose from the cauldron and danced in a flesh- 
coloured silk dress, tight to the shape, meant 
to represent absolute nudity; but she is now 
arrayed in a slight muslin robe, which throws 
a thin veil of decency over her beautiful 
form. 

In the third act, the saint is subjected to the 
double trial of famine and the siren. The 
scene is transported to the gate of a palace in 
a desolate country, created by the devils for 
the purposes of their temptation ; near the gate 
of which a crucifix appears, rising out of the 
drilling snow. St. Anthony approaches, and 
falls down in supplication at the foot of the 
cross; his strength is exhausted; his limbs 
■fail ; his wallet does not contain a single crust. 
'•f bread. Astaroth appears, followed by the siren 
whom he has created, at the gate of the castle ; 



tutored by him, she descends, approaches the 
saint, and employs all her art to subjugate his 
resolution. She offers to bring him food in 
abundance from the palace, to spread a couch 
of down for his wearied limbs, to clothe in 
rich garments his shivering frame, to abandon 
herself to him, if he will surrender the cruci- 
fix which hangs round his neck, and abjure 
his faith; but the resolution of Saint Anthony 
is immovable. While he lies shivering and 
starving at the foot of the cross, a sumptuous 
feast is prepared before his eyes by the cooks 
in the palace ; the savoury flavour comes over 
his fainting senses; he sees it carried up to 
the banquet-hall, where Astaroth and his de- 
vils are feasting and rioting in luxurious plenty, 
and crawls to the gate to implore a crust of 
bread to assuage the intolerable pangs of hun- 
ger ; but it is sternly refused, unless he will con- 
sent to part with the cross, in which case he is 
offered the most luxurious fare. He still re- 
mains firm to his faith, and while drenched 
by showers of snow, and starving of hunger, 
hears the wild and frantic revelry which pro- 
ceeds round the well-covered boards, from the 
brilliantly lighted rooms of the palace. Struck 
with such heroic resolution, the siren is melted. 
She is awakened by the efforts of the Virgin 
to a sense of virtue; she secretly supplies him 
with provisions from the infernal abode ; and 
the daughter of perdition is won over to the 
league of heaven by an act of charity. In- 
stantly the black spot on her breast, the mark 
of reprobation, disappears, and her bosom 
regains its snowy whiteness. Astaroth and 
the infernal legion issue forth, frantic with, 
rage at the failure of their design ; they cast 
out their unworthy creation ; the palace, with 
all its treasures, is consigned to the flames, into 
which they plunge, leaving the saint and his 
lovely convert alone in the wilderness of snow. 

Bafiied in this design, Astaroth and his league 
next assail the anchorite in a different way. 
The scene changes in the next act to the in- 
terior of a magnificent harem, where the saint 
and the converted maiden are surrounded by 
all the pomp of eastern luxury. The sultanas 
and ladies of the seraglio are seated round the 
walls, and the whole strength of the opera is 
again called forth in the entrancing dances 
which are there employed to captivate the 
senses. Astaroth causes Miranda, the maiden 
of his creation, to dance before the Sultan ; 
captivated by her beauty, he throws her the 
handkerchief; while at the same time Astaroth 
endeavours to persuade the saint to murder the 
Sultan, on the specious pretence of setting free 
the numerous slaves of his passion ; Miranda 
seizes the dagger, exclaiming that she alone 
should perpetrate the deed of blood ; the Sul- 
tan is alarmed; the guards surround the her- 
mit and the maid, who throw themselves from 
the windows of the seraglio into the sea, while 
the demons arc swallowed up in a gulf of 
fire. 

In the opening of the last act, the anchorite 
is seen reposing on the grass with the maiden 
beside him; the demons surround him during 
his sleep, but cannot pass the holy circle which 
guards the innocent When he awakens, he 
finds himself enveloped on either side by le- 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



151 



gions of devils in every frightful form, and a 
circle of sirens who dance round him with the 
most voluptuous movements. Meanwhile As- 
taroth has seized Miranda, and "l'a rendue 
victime de sa brutalite et l'a frappe ;* the an- 
chorite is on the point of yielding to the se- 
ductions of the sirens who surround him, 
when Miranda, extricated from the arms of 
Astaroth, rushes forward and throws the beads 
and cross she had removed from him over his 
neck. His reason is restored, he regains the 
dominion over his passion. Astaroth plunges 
his dagger in the breast of Miranda in despair 
at the total failure of his prospects. St. Mi- 
chael and the angels descend from heaven; a 
desperate conflict ensues between the powers 
of light and darkness, in the close of which 
Astaroth and his demons are overthrown, and 
the saint and Miranda are borne aloft through 
the clouds into the bosom of the heavenly 
host. 

" Robert le Diable" is founded on a different 
series of adventures, but the same contest of 
the powers of this world with those of hell. 
The first act opens on the shore of the har- 
bour of Palermo, where Norman knights, un- 
der the shade of acacia trees, celebrate their 
mistresses, their wines, their games. Robert 
and his friend Bertram are seated together, 
when a minstrel arrives, leading a beauteous 
maid, his affianced bride. Robert asks him 
for news ; he recounts the story of Robert le 
Diable, who was the son of Bertha, a noble 
maid of Normandy, who had yielded to the 
seduction of a demon, in the form of a hand- 
some stranger. Unknowingly he is reciting 
the tale to Robert himself, who, in a transport 
of rage at the narrative, is on the point of 
plunging his dagger into his bosom; when he 
is restrained by his friend Bertram, who pre- 
vails on him to respite the minstrel for an hour. 
Meanwhile he promises the handsome fiancee 
to his chevaliers; but when she is introduced 
to be surrendered to their desires, he discovers 
in the maid, Alice, his beauteous foster-sister, 
the bearer of the testament of his mother, who 
on her deathbed had besought her to convey 
her last instructions to her beloved son. Ro- 
bert, in return, recounts to Alice his love for 
the fair Princess Isabella of Sicily, whom he 
was on the point of carrying off from her pa- 
rents, when he was assailed by the knights of 
Sicily, and only rescued by his friend Bertram. 
At this juncture, Bertram approaches; Alice 
involuntarily shudders at his sight, from the 
resemblance which he bears to the paintings 
of Satan combating St. Michael, but having re- 
covered from her alarm, undertakes to convey 
a letter from Robert to the Princess Isabella. 

The next act opens with the princess in the 
interior of the palace of Palermo, bewailing 
the loss of the faithful Robert, and her unhap- 
py fate, in being compelled to wed the Prince 
of Grenada, contrary to her inclinations. 
Young maidens, the bearers of petitions, are 
introduced, among whom is Alice, who insinu- 
ates into her hand the letter of Robert. She 
consents to see him. He is introduced, and 
clothed by her attendants with a splendid suit 

♦This, though slill in the programme of the piece, 
wa3 found to be revolting, and is now omitted. 



of armour to enter the lists against the prince 
in a tournament, where her hand was to be 
the prize of the victor. A herald appears and 
defies Robert, in the name of the prince, who 
eagerly accepts the challenge. Bertram, who 
is Satan in disguise, and had clothed another 
demon with the form of the Prince of Grenada, 
smiles at the success of his projects, to win 
over the soul of Robert to perdition. The 
tournament takes place ; Isabella, by her 
father's orders, puts on his armour on the 
Prince of Grenada, but when the trumpets 
sound, she looks in vain for his beloved anta- 
gonist. Robert, restrained by the poAvers of 
hell, cannot appear. He is for ever disgraced ; 
Bertram beholds his schemes rapidly ap- 
proaching their maturity. 

In the third act, Bertram, pale and agitated, 
emerges from a cavern, the council-hall of 
the infernal ^powers : He is tormented with 
anxious thoughts, for he has learned the arret 
of Fate that his power over Robert termi- 
nates if he is not devoted to the powers of 
hell before twelve o'clock that night. There 
is not a moment to lose. He casts his eyes 
on Alice, who had come to that solitude to 
meet her betrothed minstrel; the demon is 
seized with passion, and strives to seduce her, 
but is repulsed with horror. She hears, how- 
ever, the choir of hell in the cavern invoking 
the name of Robert, and perceives that Ber- 
tram is Satan in disguise. By the threat of in- 
stant death, he compels her to promise secrecy. 
At this juncture Robert, enters, overwhelmed 
with horror at his involuntary failure to ap- 
pear at the tournament: Alice in vain ap- 
proaches to warn him of his danger ; bound 
by her vow of secrecy, she is compelled to 
retire, leaving Robert alone to his satanic con- 
fidant. Bertram then informs him that his 
rival, the Prince of Grenada, had availed him- 
self of the aid of the infernal powers ; and 
that he neA^er could oA r ercome him till he had 
taken from the tomb of Saint Rosalie, in a 
neighbouring ruin, a green branch, the charmed 
Avand which would render the loA r er of Isabella 
all-poAverful. Misled by the perfidious advice, 
Robert enters the cavern Avhich he is told leads 
to the tomb, and immediately a scene of match- 
less beauty succeeds. 

The theatre represents a ruined monastery, 
through the lofty desolate arches of which the 
moon throws an uncertain light. Many old 
tombs are scattered about on the broken pave- 
ment, on the top of Avhich the marble figures 
of ancient worthies are seen. In the midst of 
them is the sepulchre of Saint Rosalie, Avith a 
branch of cypress in the hand of her marble 
effigy. Bertram arrives: he conjures up the 
shades of all the nuns who had been interred 
in the abbey, condemned "en punition d'une 
vie trop profane," to rise to aid in seducing 
Robert into the accomplishment of his pro- 
mise. Instantly the spirits rise out of their 
narrow beds ; the marble figures, which re- 
clined on the monumental slabs, step forth 
from every part of the pavement; a hundred 
nuns appear dressed in their robes of Avhite, 
and slowly moving Forward through the gloom, 
surround the bewildered knight. Gradually 
they seem to be reanimated by the breath and 



152 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



the passions of life ; they join in dances, at firs! 
slow and mystical, which insensibly warm into 
grace and voluptuousness. They exert all 
their attractions to induce Robert to advance 
and seize the fated branch. Seduced by so 
many charms, he approaches the sepulchre, 
but starts back on seeing in the marble image 
of the saint a resemblance to his mother; the 
nuns, in encircling bands, renew their eiforts 
to entrance his senses; he yields at length, 
and seizes the branch. Instantly the spell is 
broken ; the spectres sink into their graves ; 
the figures, late so beauteous, and animated, 
freeze again into lifeless marble, and the 
knight remains alone with the branch, while 
the sacred walls resound with the wild yells of 
the demons at the completion of their victory. 

In the fourth act, Isabella, surrounded by 
her maidens, is represented at her toilet dis- 
tributing her marriage gifts to six young 
women who are to be married at the same 
time that she espouses the Prince of Grenada. 
Robert appears with the green branch; its 
magical powers overwhelm all her attendants 
with lethargic slumbers ; the knight approaches 
and makes himself known to the princess ; in 
the midst of her transports, she learns by what 
means he had obtained the green bough, and 
conjures him to cast away the infernal wand; 
overcome by love and remorse, he breaks the 
branch; the attendants instantly awaken; as- 
tonished at the appearance of their lady in the 
arms of a stranger knight, they call in the 
men-at-arms ; Robert is seized, and Isabella 
swoons away. 

In the last act, Robert and Bertram appear 
in the vestibule of the cathedral at Palermo ; 
the knight recounts that he had fought the 
Prince of Grenada, and been vanquished by 
him. Bertram assures him that this fatality 
is owing to his fatal imprudence in breaking 
the branch, and that his only hope of success 
is to be found in subscribing an instant com- 
pact with the powers of darkness. At the 
moment when he is about to comply, strains 
of religious music are heard from the choir, 
which thrill through the heart of the wavering 
knight, and recall him to purer sentiments. 
In despair at his failure, Bertram reveals his 
name and character: he is Robert's father, the 
demon who had seduced his mother ; and he 
informs him, that, unless he signs the irrevo- 
cable deed before twelve o'clock, he loses him 
for ever; if he does, he forthwith becomes the 
husband of Isabella. Robert exclaims, " L'ar- 
ret est prononce, l'Enfer est le plus fort," and 
is just going to sign, when Alice, his foster- 
sister, rushes in, places in his hand the testa- 
ment of his mother, in which she conjures 
him to shun the demon who had ruined her; 
he is again shaken. A desperate struggle en- 
sues between Alice and Bertram, heaven and 
hell, in which Robert is about to yield, when 
twelve strikes; Bertram, with a frightful yell, 
descends into a gulf of fire; the veil of the 
sanctuary is withdrawn, Isabella appears in 
the choir, where she receives the now disen- 
thralled Robert, while an aerial choir celebrates 
1 he triumph of the Most High. 

There is one circumstance very remarkable 
in these theatrical pieces, which have had so 



prodigious a run at the Opera, that each of 
them has been represented above a hundred 
times. Though they originate in the most li- 
centious capital, and are exhibited to the most 
corrupted audience in Europe, yet they both 
terminate in the triumph of virtue over vice, — 
of resolution over temptation, — of the graces 
of heaven over the powers of hell. This, in 
such circumstances, is very remarkable. The 
excitements to the senses in both are in- 
numerable; the situations and incidents such 
as never could have been figured but in a li- 
centious capital; but still the final result is 
the triumph of virtue, and the impression 
made upon the spectator on the whole de- 
cidedly favourable to its cause. Hypocrisy, 
says Rochefoucault, is the homage which vice 
pays' to virtue : it would appear that the senti- 
ments of devotion, and the admiration of in- 
tegrity, are so strongly implanted in the hu- 
man mind, that many ages of corruption must 
elapse before they can be wholly extirpated. 
The French have still so much of both linger- 
ing in their imaginations and their associations 
at least, if not in their conduct, that the open 
disregard of them cannot be as }<et tolerated in 
the higher theatres. Centuries of degradation, 
however, similar to that in which, from the re- 
sult of the Revolution, they are now placed, 
will work out this melancholy change, even 
in the country of Fenelon and Bossuet. The 
modern Italian drama frequently represents 
the hero of the piece suffering under the 
agonies of fear; and poltroonery is tolerated 
on the stage by the descendants of the Romans 
and Samnites. 

Another circumstance which is well worthy 
of observation in the romantic licentious lite- 
rature and drama of France, is the frequent use 
which is made of the imagery, the language, 
and the characters of the Roman Catholic re- 
ligion. Even the Romish Calendar, and the 
legends of the saints, are diligently ransacked 
to furnish stories and situations calculated to 
satisfy the avidity of the Parisian public for 
strong emotions. It would appear that the 
Parisians are now placed at that distance from 
religious belief, when they can derive pleasure 
from the lingering recollections which it 
awakens, without being shocked by the pro- 
fanity to which it is exposed. They look upon 
religious impressions and the Catholic tradi- 
tions, as the English regard the fairy tales 
which amused their childhood, and derive a 
transient stimulus from their being brought 
back to their recollection, as we do from see- 
ing Bluebeard or Cinderella on the stage. Re- 
ligion is as frequently the engine for moving 
the imagination now as classical allusions 
were in the last age. The French are in that 
stage of corruption, when they class religious 
imagery, and the early traditions of Scripture, 
with the Gothic superstition of the middle ages, 
— with drawbridges, knights, giants, and chi- 
valry, — and are delighted with their represen- 
tation, as we are with the feudal pictures and 
ancient imagery of Sir Walter Scott. The 
frequent introduction of religious characters 
and traditions in the modern works of imagi- 
nation in France, affords decisive evidence 
that they have passed from the region of be- 



FRANCE IN 1833. 



153 



lief into that of imagination; from subduing 
the passions, or influencing the conduct, to 
thrilling the imagination, and captivating the 
fancy. A people who entertained a sincere 
and practical regard for religion of any sort, 
never could bear to see its incidents and cha- 
racters blended with hobgoblins and demons, — , 
with the spectres of the feudal, or the mytholo- 
gy of the classic ages. 

This extraordinary change in the lighter 
branches of French literature is almost entirely 
the result of the late Revolution. The romantic 
school of fiction, indeed, had been steadily 
growing up under the Restoration ; and ac- 
cordingly, the dramatized tales of Sir Walter 
Scott had banished in all but the Theatre 
Francais, the works of Racine and Corneille 
from the stage. But it was not till the triumph 
of the Barricades had cast down the barriers 
of authority and influence, and let in a flood 
of licentiousness upon all the regions of 
thought, that the present intermixture of ex- 
travagance and sensuality took place. Still 
this grievous and demoralizing effect is not to 
be ascribed solely or chiefly to that event, im- 
portant as it has been in scattering far and 
wide the seeds of evil. It is not by a mere 
praetorian tumult in the capital that a nation 
is demoralized ; Rome had twenty such urban 
and military revolutions as that which over- 
threw Charles X. without experiencing any 
material addition to the deep-rooted sources of 
imperial corruption. It was the first Revolu- 
tion, with its frightful atrocities and crying 
sins, which produced this fatal effect; the se- 
cond merely drew aside the feeble barrier 
which the government of the Restoration had 
opposed to its devastation. In the present 
monstrous and unprecedented state of French 
literature is to be seen the faithful mirror of 
the state of the public mind produced by that 
convulsion ; of that chaos of thoughts and pas- 
sions and recollections, which has resulted 
from a successful insurrection not only against 
the government, but the institutions and the 
belief of former times ; of the extravagance and 
frenzy of the human mind, when turned adrift, 
without either principle or authority to direct 
it, into the stormy sea of passion and pleasure. 

The graver and more weighty works which 
were appearing in such numbers under the 
Restoration, have all ceased with the victory 
of the populace. The resplendent genius of 
Chateaubriand no longer throws its lustre over 
the declining virtue of the age : the learning 
and philosophy of Guizot is turned aside from 
the calm speculations of history to the turbu- 
lent sea of politics. Thierry has ceased to 
diffuse over the early ages of feudal limes, the 
discriminating light of sagacious^inquiry: the 
pen of Parente conveys no longer, in clear 
and vivid colours, the manners of the four- 
teenth to the nineteenth century: Thiers, trans- 
formed into an ambitious politician, strives in 
vain, in his measures as a minister, to coun- 
teract the influence of his eloquent writings, as 
an historian: the fervent spirit of Beranger is 
stilled ; the poetic glow of Lamartine is quench- 
ed ; the pictured page of Salvandy is employed 
only in pourtraying the deplorable state of so- 
cial and moral disorganization consequent on 

20 



the triumph of the Barricades. Instead of 
these illustrious men has sprung up a host of 
minor writers, who pander to the depraved 
taste of a corrupted age; the race of Dumas's, 
and Latouches,and Janins, men who apply great 
talent to discreditable but profitable purposes"; 
who reflect, like the cameleon, the colours of 
the objects by which they are surrounded, and 
earn, like the opera-dancer, a transient liveli- 
hood, sometimes considerable wealth, by ex- 
citing the passions or ministering to the plea- 
sures of a depraved and licentious metropolis. 

Thus, on all sides, and in every department 
of government, religion, morals, and literature, 
is the debasing and pernicious influence of the 
Revolution manifesting itself; the thin veil 
which concealed the progress of corruption 
during, the Restoration, is torn aside; govern- 
ment is settling down into despotism, religion 
into infidelity, morals into licentiousness, lite- 
rature into depraved extravagance. What is to 
be the final issue of these melancholy changes, 
it is impossible confidently to predict; but 
of this we may be well assured, that it is not 
till the fountains of wickedness are closed by 
the seal of religion, and the stream of thought 
is purified by suffering, that the disastrous 
consequences of two successful convulsions 
can be arrested, or freedom established on a 
secure basis, or public felicity based on a du- 
rable foundation. 

The result of all this is, not only that no 
real freedom exists in France, but that the ele- 
ments of constitutional liberty do not exist. 
Every thing depends on the will of the capital : 
and its determination is so much swayed at 
present, at least by the public press, and armed 
force in the capital, that no reliance on the 
stability of any system of government can be 
placed. The first Revolution concentrated all 
the powers of government in the metropolis ; 
the second vested them in the armed force of 
its garrison and citizens. Henceforth the strife 
of faction is likely to be a mere struggle for 
the possession of the public offices, and the 
immense patronage with which they are ac- 
companied : but no measures for the extension 
of public freedom will, to all appearance, be 
attempted. If the republican party were to 
dethrone Louis Philippe, they would raise the 
most violent outcry about the triumph of free- 
dom, and in the midst of it quietly take pos- 
session of the police-office. *he telegraph, the 
treasury, and begin to exercise «.'he vast powers 
of government for their own behoof in the 
most despotic manner. No other ;ystem of 
administration is practicable in France. After 
the state to which it has been reduced by its 
two Revolutions, a constitutional monarchy, 
such as existed in Great Britain prior to the 
revolution of 1832 — that is, a monarchy, in 
which the powers of sovereignty were reaily 
shared by the crown, the nobles, and the peo 
pie — could not stand in France for a week- 
The populace of Paris and their despotic lead 
ers, or the crown, with its civil and military 
employers, would swallow up supreme power 
in a moment. 

Every government, in the long run, must b<j 
founded on one of three bases : either the re- 
presentation and attachment of all the great 



154 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



interests of the state; or the force of a power- 
ful and devoted soldiery; or the influence of 
power derived from the possession of all the 
patronage and appointments in the kingdom. 
Constitutional monarchies, the glory of Eu- 
ropean civilization, are founded on the first; j 
Asiatic despotisms on the last. By the de-J 
struction of all the intermediate classes be- j 
tween the throne and the peasant, the French j 
have rendered the construction of a representa- 
tive system and a limited throne impossible: 
they have now to choose only between the fet- 
ters of a military, or the corruption of an ori- 



ental, despotism ; between the government of 
the Praetorian guards, and the servility of the 
Byzantine empire. They are perpetually de- 
claiming about the new era which their Revo- 
lution has opened in human affairs, and the 
interminable career of modern civilization : 
let them fix their eyes on the court of the Great 
Mogul and the ryots of Hindostan, and beware 
lest their changes afford a new confirmation 
of the old adage, That there is nothing new 
under the sun; and the dreams of republican 
enthusiasm terminate at last in the strife of 
eunuchs and the jealousy of courtesans. 



ITALY. 



The scenery of Switzerland is of a dark and 
gloomy description. In the higher Alps, which 
lie between the canton of Berne and the plains 
of Lombardy, the great elevation of the moun- 
tains, the vicinity of perpetual snow, the tem- 
pests which frequently occur, and the devasta- 
tions of the avalanches, have imprinted a stern 
and often dismal aspect on the scenery. As 
the traveller ascends any of those paths, which 
lead from the canton of Berne over the ridge 
of the central Alps to the Italian bailiwicks, 
he gradually approaches the region of eternal 
■desolation. The beech and the oak succes- 
sively give place to the larch and the fir, and 
these in their turn disappear, or exhibit only 
the stunted forms and blasted summits which 
are produced by the rigour and severity of the 
climate. Towards the summit of the pass, 
even these marks of vegetation disappear, and 
huge blocks of granite, interspersed with snow, 
or surrounding black and gloomy lakes, form 
the only features of the sceneiy. 

To the ej'e which has been habituated for a 
few days only to these stern and awful objects, 
there is no scene so delightful as that which is 
exhibited by the valleys and the lakes which 
lie on the southern side of the Alps. The 
riches of nature, and the delights of a southern 
climate, are there poured forth with a profusion 
which is hardly to be met with in any other 
part of Europe. The valleys are narrow and 
precipitous, bounded on either side by the most 
stupendous cliffs, and winding in such a man- 
ner as to exhibit, in the most striking point of 
view, the unrivalled glories of the scene. But 
though the vallies are narrower, and the rocks 
are higher on the southern than the northern 
side of the Alps, yet the character of the scene 
is widely different in these two situations. The 
larch and the fir form the prevailing wood in 
the higher valleys to the north of the St. Go- 
thard; but the birch, the chestnut, and the oak, 
clothe the sunny cliffs which look to the Italian 
sun. Every crevice, and every projecting 

* Blackwood's Magazine, Fob. 1818, and Supplement 
to Encyclopaedia Brit aniiica,;iriir to Italy. — Written when 
liavelling in that country in 1816 and 1818. 



point on which vegetation can grow, is cover- 
ed with brushwood ; and, instead of the gray 
masses of granite which appear on the north- 
ern side, the cliffs of the southern valleys seem 
to have caught the warm glow and varied tints 
of the Italian sky. Nor is the change less ap- 
parent in the agricultural productions of the 
soil. At the foot of the stupendous cliffs, 
which bound the narrow valleys by which the 
mountains are intersected, the vine, the olive, 
and the maize, ripen under the rays of a ver- 
tical sun, while the sweet chestnut and the 
walnut clothe the sloping banks by which the 
wider parts of the valleys are surrounded. 
While sinking under the heat of a summer 
sun, which acquires amazing powers in these 
narrow clefts, the traveller looks back v/ith 
delight to the snowy peaks from which he had 
so lately descended, whose glaziers are soften- 
ed by the distance at which they are seen, and 
seem to partake in the Avarm glow. by which 
the atmosphere is illuminated. 

There is another feature by which these 
valleys are distinguished, which does not oc- 
cur in the Swiss territories. Switzerland is a 
country of peasants: the traces of feudal 
power have been long obliterated in its free and 
happy vallies. But on the Italian side of the 
Alps, the remnants of baronial power are 
still to be seen. Magnificent castles of vast 
dimensions, and placed on the most prominent 
situations, remind the traveller that he is ap- 
proaching the region of feudal influence; while 
the crouching look and abject manner of the 
peasantry, tells but too plainly the sway which 
these feudal proprietors have exercised over 
their vassals. But whatever may be the in- 
fluence of aristocratic power upon the habits 
or condition of the people, the remains of 
former magnificence which it has left, add 
amazingly to the beauty and sublimity of the 
scenery. In the Misocco these antiquated re- 
mains are peculiarly numerous and imposing. 
The huge towers and massy walls of these 
Gothic castles, placed on what seem inacces- 
sible cliffs, and frowning over the villages 
which have grown up beneath their feet, give 



ITALY 



155 



an air of antiquity and solemnity to the scene, 
which nothing else is capable of producing; 
for the works of nature, long as they have 
stood, are still covered with ihe verdure of 
perpetual youth. It is in the rzorks of man 
alone that the symptoms of age or of decay 
appear. 

The Italian lakes partake, in some measure, 
in the general features which have been men- 
tioned as belonging to the valleys on the south- 
ern side of the Alps ; but the}' are charac- 
terized also by some circumstances which are 
peculiar to themselves. Their banks are al- 
most everywhere formed of steep mountains, 
which sink at once into the lake without any 
meadows or level ground on the water side. 
These mountains are generally of great height, 
and of the most rugged forms ; but they are 
clothed to the summit with luxuriant woods, 
except in those places where the steepness of 
the precipices precludes the growth of vegeta- 
tion. The continued appearance of front and 
precipice which they exhibit, would lead to the 
belief that the banks of the lake are uninha- 
bited, were it not for the multitude of villages 
with which they are everywhere interspersed. 
These villages are so numerous and extensive, 
that it may be doubted whether the population 
anywhere in Europe is denser than on the 
shores of the Italian lakes. No spectacle in 
nature can be more beautiful than the aspect 
of these clusters of human habitations, all 
built of stone, and white-washed in the neatest 
manner, with a simple spire rising in the cen- 
tre of each, to mark the number and devotion 
of the inhabitants, surrounded by luxuriant 
forests, and rising one above another to the 
highest parts of the mountains. Frequently 
the village is concealed by the intervention 
of some rising ground, or the height of the 
adjoining woods; but the church is always 
visible, and conveys the liveliest idea of the 
peace and happiness of the inhabitants. These 
rural temples are uniformly white, and their 
spires are of the simplest form; but it is dif- 
ficult to convey, to those who have not seen 
them, an idea of the exquisite addition which 
they form to the beauty of the scenery. 

On a nearer approach, the situation of these 
villages, so profusely scattered over the moun- 
tains which surround the Italian lakes, is often 
interesting in the extreme. Placed on the 
summit of projecting rocks, or sheltered in the 
defile of seclude;! valleys, they exhibit every 
variety of aspect that can be imagined; but 
wherever situated, they add to the interest, or 
enhance the picturesque effect of the scene. 
The woods by which they are surrounded, and 
which, from a distance, have the appearance 
of a continued forest, are in reality formed, 
for the most part, of the walnuts and sweet 
chestnuts, which grow on the gardens that 
belong to the peasantry, and conceal beneath 
their shade,vineyards, corn-fields, and orchards. 
Each cottager has his little domain, which is 
cultivated by his own family ; a single chest- 
nut, and a few mulberry trees, with a small 
vineyard, constituted often the whole of their 
humble property. On this little spot, however, 
they find wherewithal both to satisfy their 
wants and to occupy their industry; the chil- 



dren take care of the mulberries and the silk 
worms, which are here produced in great 
abundance ; the husband dresses the vineyard, 
or works in the garden, as the season may 
require. On an incredibly small piece of 
ground, a numerous family live, in, what ap- 
pears to them, ease and affluence; and if they 
can maintain themselves during the year, and 
pay their rent at its termination, their desires 
never go beyond the space of their own em- 
ployment. 

In this simple and unambitious style of life, 
it may easily be conceived what the general 
character of the peasantry must be. Gene- 
rally speaking, they are a simple, kind-hearted, 
honest people, grateful to the last degree for 
the smallest share of kindness, and always 
willing to share with a stranger the produce 
of their little domains. The crimes of murder 
and robbery are almost unknown, at least 
among the peasantry themselves, although, on 
the great roads in their vicinity, banditti are 
sometimes to be found. But if a stranger 
lives in the country, and reposes confidence in 
the people, he will find himself as secure, and 
more respected, than in most other parts of 
the world. 

There is one delightful circumstance which 
occurs in spring in the vicinity of these lakes, 
to which a northern traveller is but little ac- 
customed. During the months of April and 
May, the woods are filled with nightingales, 
and thousands of these little choristers pour 
forth their strains every night, with a richness 
and melody of which it is impossible to form 
a conception. In England we are accustomed 
frequently to hear the nightingale, and his song 
has been celebrated in poetry from the earliest 
periods of our history. But it is generally a 
single song to which we listen, or at most a 
few only, which unite to enliven the stillness 
of the night. But on the banks of the lake of 
Como, thousands of nightingales are to be 
found in every wood ; they rest in every tree, — 
they pour forth their melody^ on the roof of 
every cottage. Wherever you walk du ring the 
delightful nights of April or May, you hear the 
unceasing strains of these unseen warblers, 
swelling on the evening gales, or dying away, 
as you recede from the woods or thickets 
where they dwell. The soft cadence and me- 
lodious swelling of this heavenly choir, re- 
sembles more the enchanting sounds of the 
Eolian harp than any thing produced by mor- 
tal organs. To those who have seen the lake 
of Como, with such accompaniments, during 
the serenity of a summer evening, and with 
the surrounding headlands and mountains re- 
flected on its placid waters, there are few scenes 
in nature, and few moments in life, which can 
be the source of such delightful recollection. 

The forms of the mountains which surround 
the Italian lakes are somewhat similar to those 
that are to be met with in the Highlands of 
Scotland, or at the Lake of Killarney; but the 
great superiority which they possess over an) 
thing in this country, consists in the gay and 
smiling aspect which nature there exhibits. The 
base only of the Highland hills is clothed with 
wood; huge and shapeless swells of heath 
form the upper parts of the mountains; and 



156 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



the summits partake of the gloomy character 
which the lint of brown or purple throws oVer 

the scene. But the mountains which sun i 
the Italian lakes arc varied to the summit with 
life and animation. The woods ascend to the 
highest peaks, and clothe the most savage 
cliffs in a robe of verdure; white and sunny 
villages rise one above another, in endless 
succession, to the upper parts of the moun- 
tains; and innumerable churches, on <- 
projecting point, mark the sway of religion, 
even in the most remote and inaccessible si- 
tuations. The English lakes are often cold 
and cheerless, from the reflection of a dark or 
lowering sky ; but the Italian lakes are per- 
fectly blue, and partake of the brilliant colours 
with which the firmament is filled. In the 
morning, in particular, when the level sun 
glitters on the innumerable white villages 
which surround the Lago Maggiore, the reflec- 
tion of the cottages, and steeples, and woods, 
in the blue and glassy surface of the lake, 
seems to realize the descriptions of the poets in 
their happiest and most inspired veins. 

The Lago Maggiore is the most celebrated of 
these lakes, because it lies most in the way of 
ordinary travellers; but, in variety of forms, 
and in the grandeur of the surrounding objects, 
it is decidedly inferior to the Lago Lugano, 
which is, perhaps, upon the whole, the most 
beautiful lake in Europe. The mountains 
which surround this lake are not only very 
lofty, from 4000 to 5000 feet high, but broken 
in^o a thousand fantastic forms, and split with 
chasms of the most terrific description. On 
one of the loftiest of these pinnacles, immedi- 
ately above the centre of the lake, is placed the 
castle of St. Salvador ; and the precipice, from 
its turrets to the surface of the water, is cer- 
tainly not less than 2000 feet. Nevertheless, 
this stupendous cliff is clothed, in every cre- 
vice where the birch can fix. its root, with 
luxuriant woods ; and so completely does this 
soft covering change the character of the scene, 
that even this -dreadful precipice is rather a 
beautiful than a terrific object. The great 
characteristic and principal beauty of the Lago 
Lugano, arises from its infinite variety, occa- 
sioned by the numbers of mountains which 
project into its centre, and by presenting an 
infinite variety of headlands, promontories, and 
bays, give it rather the appearance of a great 
number of small lakes connected together, than 
of one extensive sheet of water. Nor can 
imagination itself conceive, any thing equal to 
the endless variety of scenery, which is pre- 
sented by following the deeply indented shores 
of this lake, or the varied effect of the number- 
less villages and" churches, which present 
themselves at every turn, to relieve and ani- 
mate the scene. 

Foreigners, from every part of Europe, are 
accustomed to speak of the Boromean Islands 
with a degree of enthusiasm which raises the 
expectation to too high a pitch, and of course 
is apt to produce disappointment. They are 
laid out in the Italian style of gardening, with 
stiff alleys, marble fountains, statues, terraces, 
and other works of art. But this style, how- 
ever curious or meritorious in itself, and as a 
specimen of the skill or dexterity of the gar- 



dener, is universally allowed to be ill adapted 
to the scenery of real nature, and is more par- 
ticularly out of place in the Italian lakes, 
where the vast and broken ridge of the Alps 
forms the magnificent distance, and gives the 
prevailing character to the scene. 

The Isola Madre is the most pleasing of these 
celebrated islands, being covered with wood in 
the interior, and adorned round the shores 
with a profusion of the most beautiful flower- 
ing shrubs. It is difficult to imagine a more 
splendid prospect than the view from this 
island, looking towards the ridge of the Simplon. 
Numerous white villages, placed at intervals 
along the shore, enliven the green luxuriant 
woods which descend to the lake ; and in the 
farther distance, the broken and serrated ridge 
of the mountains, clustering round the snowy 
peaks of Monte Rosa, combines the grandeur 
of Alpine with the softness of Italian scenery. 
The buildings, which are so beautifully dis- 
posed along the shore, partake of the elegance 
of the scene ; they are distinguished, for the 
most part, by the taste which seems to be the 
native growth of the soil of Italy ; and the lake 
itself resembles a vast mirror, in which the 
splendid scenery which surrounds it is reflected, 
with more even than its original beauty. 

The lake of Como, as is well known, was 
the favourite residence of Pliny ; and a villa 
on its shore bears the name of the Villa Pli- 
niana ; but whether it is built on the scite of 
the Roman philosopher's dwelling, has not 
been ascertained. The immediate vicinity, 
however, of the intermitting spring, which he 
has so well described, makes it probable that 
the ancient villa was at no great distance from 
the modern one which bears its name. Eustace 
has dwelt, with his usual eloquence, on the 
interest which this circumstance gives to this 
beautiful lake. 

Towards its upper end, the lake of Como 
assumes a different aspect from that by which 
it is distinguished at its lower extremity. The 
hills in the vicinity of Como, and as far to the 
north as Menagio, are soft in their forms, and 
being clothed to their summits with vineyards 
and woods, they present rather a beautiful 
than a sublime spectacle. But towards the 
upper end the scene assumes a more savage 
character. The chestnut woods and orange 
groves no longer appear ; the oak and the fir 
cover the bold and precipitous banks which 
hang over the lake; and the snowy peaks of 
the Bernhardin and Mount Splugen rise in 
gloomy magnificence at the extremity of the 
scene. On approaching Chinvcnna, the broad 
expanse of water dwindles into a narrow 
stream ; the banks on either side approach so 
near, as to give the scenery the appearance of 
a mountain valley ; and the Alps, which close 
it in, are clothed with forests of fir, or present 
vast and savage precipices of rock. From 
this point there is an easy passage over the 
Bernhardin to the Rheinthal, and the interest- 
ing country of the Grisons; and the Vol de 
Misox, through which the road leads, is one of 
the most beautiful on the southern side of the 
Alps, and particularly remarkable for the 
magnificent castles with which its projecting 
points are adorned. 



ITALY. 



157 



The tour which is usually followed in the 
Italian lakes, is to visit first the Lago Maggiore, 
and then drive to Como, and ascend to the 
Villa Pliniana, or to Menagio, and return to 
Como or Lecco. By following this course, 
however, the Lago Lugano is wholly omitted, 
which is perhaps the most picturesque of all 
the three. The better plan is to ascend from 
Baveno, on the Lago Maggiore, to the upper 
end of that lake ; and after exploring its varied 
beauties, land at Luvino, and=cross from thence 
to Pontc Tresa, and there embark for Lugano, 
from whence you reach Porlezza by water, 
through the most magnificent part of the Lago 
Lugano; from thence cross to Menagio, on the 
lake of Como, whence, as from a central 
point, the traveller may ascend to Chiavenna, 
or descend to Lecco or Como, as his time or 
inclination may prescribe. 

It is one most interesting characteristic of 
the people who dwell on these beautiful lakes, 
that they seem to be impressed with a genuine 
and unaffected piety. The vast number of 
churches placed in every village, and crown- 
ing every eminence, is a proof of how much 
has been done for the service of religion. But 
it is a more interesting spectacle, to behold 
the devotion with which the ordinances of 
religion are observed in all these places of 
worship. Numerous as the churches are, they 
seem to be hardly able to contain the numbers 
who frequent them; and it is no unusual 
spectacle to behold crowds of both sexes 
kneeling on the turf in the church-yard on 
Sunday forenoon, who could not find room in 
the church itself. There is something singu- 
larly pleasing in such manifestation of simple 
devotion. Whatever may be the diversity in 
points of faith, which separate Christians from 
each other, the appearance of sincere piety, 
more especially in the poorer classes, is an 
object of interest, and fitted to produce respect. 
We are too apt to imagine, in England, that 
real devotion is little felt in Catholic states; 
but whoever has travelled in the Alps, or 
dwelt on the Italian Lakes, must be convinced 
that this belief is without foundation. The 
poor people who attend these churches, are in 
general neatly, and even elegantly, dressed; 
and the Scripture pieces which are placed 
above the altar, rude as they may be, are dis- 
tinguished by a beauty. of expression, and a 
grace of design, which proves in the most 
striking way how universally a taste for the 
fine arts is diffused throughout the peasantry 
of Italy. While gliding along the placid sur- 
face of these lakes, the traveller beholds with 
delight the crowds of well-dressed people who 
descend from the churches that are placed 
along their shores ; and it is sometimes a most 
interesting incident, amidst the assemblage of 
forests and precipices which the scenery pre- 
sents, to see the M^ite dresses of the peasantry 
winding down the almost perpendicular face 
of the mountains, or emerging from the luxu- 
riant forests with which their sides are clothed. 

The climate in these lakes is delightful. The 
vicinity of the mountain indeed attracts fre- 
quent rains, which has rendered Como pro- 
verbial in Lombardy for the wetness of its 
-climate ; but when the shower is over, the sky 



reassumes its delicious blue, and the sun 
shines with renovated splendour on the green 
woods and orange groves which adorn the 
mountain sides. Perhaps the remarkable and 
beautiful greenness of the foliage, which cha- 
racterizes the scenery of all these lakes, is 
owing to the frequent showers which the 
height of the surrounding mountains occa- 
sions ; and if so, we owe to them one of the 
most singular and characteristic beauties by 
which ihey are distinguished. 

Italy comprises four great divisions : in 
each of which the face of nature, the mode of 
cultivation, and the condition of the people, is 
very different from what it is in the others. 

The first of these embraces the vast plain 
which lies between the Alps and the Apen- 
nines, and extends from Coni on the west to 
the Adriatic on the east. It is bounded on the 
south by the Apennines, which, branching off 
from the Maritime Alps, run in a south-easterly 
direction to the neighbourhood of Lorretto; 
and on the north by the chain of the Alps, 
which presents a continued face of precipices 
from sea to sea. This rich and beautiful plain 
is, with the exception of a few inconsiderable 
hills, a perfect level ; insomuch that for two 
hundred miles there is not a single ascent to 
be met with. Towards its western end, in the 
plain of Piedmont, the soil is light and sandy; 
but it becomes richer as you proceed to the 
eastward, and from Lodi to Ferrara is com- 
posed of the finest black mould. It is watered 
by numberless streams, which descend from 
the adjacent mountains, and roll their tributary 
waters to the Po, and this supply of water, 
joined to the unrivalled fertility of the soil, 
renders this district the richest, in point of 
agricultural produce, that exists in Europe. 
An admirable system of cultivation has long 
been established in this fertile plain ; and three 
successive crops annually reward the labours 
of the husbandman. 

The second extends over all the declivities 
of the Apennines, from the frontiers of France 
to the southern extremity of Calabria. This 
immense region comprises above half of the 
whole superficial extent of Italy, and main- 
tains a very great proportion of its inhabitants. 
It everywhere consists of swelling hills, rapid 
descents, and narrow valleys, and yields spon- 
taneously the choicest fruits. The olive, the 
vine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, the sweet 
chestnut, and all the fruits of northern climates, 
flourish in the utmost luxuriance on the sunny 
slopes of Tuscany and the Roman States; while 
in Naples and Calabria, in addition to these, 
are to be found the orange tree, the citron, the 
palm, and the fruits of tropical regions. The 
higher parts of these mountains are covered 
by magnificent forests of sweet chestnuts, 
which yield subsistence to a numerous popu- 
lation, at the height of many thousand feet 
above the sea; while, at the summit, pasture^ 
are to be found, similar to those of the Che- 
viot Hills in Scotland. 

The third region comprises the plains which 
lie between the Apennines and the Mediterra- 
nean, and extends from the neighbourhood of 
Pisa to the mountains of Terracino. This dis 
trict, once covered by a numerous population, 
O 



158 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



and cultivated in the most careful manner, is 
now almost a desert. It is the region of insa- 
lubrious air; and no means have y< M been 
devised 1)}' which it is possible to enable the 
human race to flourish under its pestilential 
influence. After leaving the highest state of 
civilization in Florence or Rome, the traveller 
is astonished to find himself in the midst of 
vast plains, over which numerous flocks of 
cattle wander at large under the care of shep- 
herds mounted on horseback, and armed after 
the fashion of the steppes of Tartary. This 
division includes under it all the -plains which 
lie between the Apennines and the Mediterra- 
nean, in the Neapolitan territory, among which 
the Maremma of Pestuni is most conspicuous; 
and nothing but the vast population of Naples 
prevents its celebrated Campagna from relaps- 
ing into the same desolate state. 

The fourth great division comprehends the 
plains which lie to the eastward of the Apen- 
nines, in the kingdom of Naples, and is bound- 
ed by the Adriatic sea on the one side, and the 
irregular line of the mountains on the other. It 
is in some places from fitly to one hundred miles 
broad, and in others the mountains approach 
the sea-shore. The country is flat, or rises into 
extensive downs, and is cultivated in large 
farms, where it is under agricultural manage- 
ment; but a great proportion is devoted entirely 
to pasturage. Immense forests of olive are 
to be met with in this remote district, and the 
hills are covered with vines, and oranges, and 
other fruits, with corn growing under them. 

The only range of mountains which pro- 
perly and exclusively belongs to Italy is the 
Apennines ; and they extend over more than 
half of the country. Their height is very va- 
rious ; in the vicinity of Genoa they rise to 
about 4500 feet; above Pontrimoli, on the 
borders of Tuscany and Lombardy, they reach 
5500 to 6000 feet, and the great ridge which 
stretches from Bologna by Valombrosa, to the 
south-east, rises in some places to between 
6000 and 7000. They are not, in general, very 
rocky; at least it is only in their higher emi- 
nences that this character appears. Their 
lower parts, everywhere almost, are covered 
with fruit trees, under the shade of which, in 
the southern exposures, crops of grain are 
brought to maturity. Higher up, the sweet 
chestnut covers the ascent, and supports an 
immense population at an elevation above the 
sea where no food for man could be procured 
in our climate. The pine, the beech, and the 
fir, occupy those higher regions in which are 
Valombrosa, Lavernia, and Camaldoli ; and at 
the summits of all, the open dry pastures fur- 
nish subsistence to numerous flocks. This 
great capability of the Apennines to yield food 
for the use of man, is the cause of the extraor- 
dinary populousness of its slopes. In the 
remotest recesses the traveller discovers vil- 
lages and towns ; and on the face of mountains 
where the eye at a distance can discern nothing 
but wood, he finds, on a nearer approach, every 
spot of ground carefully cultivated. The vil- 
lages and towns are commonly situated on the 
summits of eminences, and frequently sur- 
rounded by walls and towers ; a practice which 
began in the turbulent periods of the Italian re- 



publics, and has been since continued from 
the dread of malaria in the bottom of the val- 
ley S. It adds greatly to the picturesque effect 
of the mountain scenery, and gives it a cha- 
racter altogether peculiar. In the Tuscan 
states, the lower ranges of the Apennines have 
been the object of the utmost care, and of an 
almost inconceivable expenditure of capital. 
They are regularly cut in terraces, and when- 
ever an opportunity occurs, water is brought 
from the adjoining canals to every field, so 
that the whole valley is as it were covered 
with a network of small streams, which convey 
their freshness all around. The olives and 
figs which flourish in this delightful region are 
foreign to the Tuscan soil ; there is not a tree 
there which is the spontaneous production of 
nature; they are all planted and pruned by the 
hand of man. 

Nothing can be imagined more sterile in 
itself, or more adverse to any agricultural im- 
provement, than the aspect of nature in the 
Apennines. Their sides present a series of 
broken rocks, barren slopes, or arid cliffs. 
The roots of the bushes, laid bare by the au- 
tumnal rains, are, by degrees, dried up by the 
heat of the sun. They perish, and leave nothing 
behind them but a few odoriferous shrubs dis- 
persed on the rocks to cover the wreck. The 
narrow ravines between them present, in 
summer, only the dry beds of torrents, in 
which fallen trees, rocks, and gravel, are 
accumulated by the violence of the winter 
rains. This debris is brought down by the 
torrents into the wider valleys, and whole tracts 
of country are desolated by a sterile mass of 
stone and gravel. Thus the mountains and 
the valleys at their feet seem equally incapa- 
ble of culture ; but the industry of the Italians 
has overcome these obstacles, and converted 
mountains, to appearance the most sterile that 
imagination could conceive, into a succession 
of gardens, in which every thing that is most 
delightful, as well as useful, is assembled. 

This astonishing metamorphosis has been 
effected by the introduction of the terrace sys- 
tem of culture, an improvement which seems 
to have been unknown to the ancient Romans, 
and to have spread in Europe with the return 
of the Crusaders in the twelfth and thirteenth 
centuries. (Chateauvieux, 300.) Nothing could 
oppose the destructive force of the torrents, but 
altering the surface of the hills, and thereby 
breaking the course of the waters. This was 
an immense work, for it required the whole 
soil to be displaced, and built up by means of 
artificial walls into successive terraces; and 
this in many places could be effected only by 
breaking solid rocks, and bringing a new soil 
from distant places. 

The artificial land, so dearly purchased, is 
designed for the cultivation of fruits and vege- 
tables. The terraces are ah<l*ys covered with 
fruit-trees placed in a reflected sun. Amidst 
the reverberations of so many walls, the fruit 
is most abundant and superior in its kind. 
No room is lost in these limited situations, — 
the vine extends its branches along the walls ; 
a hedge formed of the same vine branches 
surrounds each terrace, and covers it with 
verdure. In the corners formed by the meeting 



ITALY. 



159 



of the supporting walls, fig-trees are planted 
to vegetate under their protection. The owner 
takes advantage of every vacant space left be- 
tween the olive-trees to raise melons and. vege- 
tables ; so that he obtains on a very limited ex- 
tent, olive, grapes, pomegranates, and melons. 
So great is the produce of this culture that, 
under good management, half the crop of seven 
acres is- sufficient for a family of five persons : 
being little more than the produce of three- 
fourths of an acre to each soul. This little 
space is often divided into more than twenty 
terraces. 

A great part of the mountainous part of 
Italy has adopted this admirable culture: and 
this accounts for the great population which 
everywhere inhabit the Italian mountains, and 
explains the singular fact, that, in scenes 
where nothing but continued foliage meets the 
eye, the traveller finds, on a nearer approach, 
villages and hamlets, and all the signs of a 
numerous peasantry. 

Continued vigilance is requisite to maintain 
these works. If the attention of the husband- 
man is intermitted for any considerable time, 
the violence of the rains destroys what it had 
cost so much labour to create. Storms and 
torrents wash down the soil, and the terraces 
are broken through or overwhelmed by the 
rubbish, which is brought down from the 
higher parts of the mountain. Every thing 
returns rapidly to its former state ; the vigour 
of southern vegetation covers the ruins of 
human industry : and there soon remains only 
shapeless vestiges covered by briers. 

The system of irrigation in the valley of the 
Arno is a most extraordinary monument of 
human industry. Placed between two ridges 
of mountains, one of them very elevated, it was 
periodically devastated by numerous torrents, 
which were precipitated from the mountains, 
charged with stone and rubbish. To control 
these destructive inundations, means were 
contrived to confine the course of the torrents 
within strong walls, which serve at the same 
time for the formation of a great number of 
canals. At regular distances, openings are 
formed below the mean level of the stream, 
that the water may run out laterally, overflow 
the land, and remain on it long enough to 
deposit the mud with which it is charged. A 
great many canals, by successive outlets of the 
water, divide the principal current and check 
its rapidity. These canals are infinitely sub- 
divided, and to such a degree, that there is not 
a single square of land, which is not. sur- 
rounded by them. They are all lined with 
Avails, built with square bricks; the scarcity 
of water rendering the most vigilant economy 
of it necessary. A number of small bridges 
connect the multitude of little, islands, into 
which these canals subdivide the country. 
These works arc still kept in good repair ; but 
the whole wealth of Tuscany could not now 
furnish the sums requisite for their construc- 
tion. That was done by Florence in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, in the days 
of her republican freedom. 

The' third agricultural division of Italy, is 
the Maremma, or the plains on the sea-shore 
in Tuscany, and the Roman States, where the 



prevalence of the malaria renders it impossible- 
to live permanently. This region is every- 
where divided into great estates, and let in 
large farms. The ivlaremma of Rome, forty 
leagues in length and from ten to fifteen in 
breadth, and which feeds annually 67,000 
horned cattle, is cultivated by only eighty farm- 
ers. These farmers live in Rome or Sienna, 
for the unhcalthiness of the atmosphere pre- 
cludes the possibility of their dwelling on the 
lands they cultivate. Each farm has on it 
only a single house, which rises in the midst 
of desolation. No garden, or orchards, or 
meadows, announce the vicinity of a human 
habitation. It stands alone in the midst of a 
vast solitude, with the cattle pasturing up to 
the walls of the dwelling. 

The whole wealth of these great farms con- 
sists in their cattle. The farm servants are 
comparatively few, and they are constantly 
on horseback. Armed with a gun and a lance, 
the shepherds, as in the wilds of Tartary, are 
constantly in the open air tending the herds 
committed to their care. They receive no 
fixed wages, but are paid in cattle, which graze 
with the herds of their masters. The mildness of 
the climate permits the grass to grow during all 
the winter, and so the flocks are maintained there 
in that season. In summer, as the excessive heat 
renders the. pastures parched and scanty, the 
flocks are sent to the highest ridges of the Apen- 
nines in quest of cool air and fresh herbage. 
The oxen, however, and cows of the Hungarian 
breed, are able both to bear the heat of sum- 
mer, and to find food during its continuance in 
the Maremma. They remain, therefore, during 
all the year; and the shepherds who tend them 
continue exposed to the pestilential air during 
the autumnal months. The woods are stocked 
with swine, and the marshes with buffaloes. 
So great is the quantity of the live-stock on 
these immense farms, that on one visited by 
Mr. Chateauvieux were cattle to the value of 
16,000/. sterling, and the farmer had two other 
farms on which the stocking was of equal 
value. 

In the Terra di Lavoro, or Campagna of Na- 
ples, the extreme richness of the soil has given 
rise to a mode of culture different from any 
which has yet been described. The aspect of 
this great plain is, perhaps, the most striking 
in point of agricultural riches that exists in the 
world. The great heat of the sun renders it 
necessary that the grain should be shaded by 
trees ; and accordingly the whole country is 
intersected by rows of elms or willows, which 
divide it into small portions of half or three 
quarters of an acre each. A vine is planted 
at the foot of every tree ; and such is the 
luxuriance of vegetation, that it not only rises 
in a few years to the very summit, but extends 
its branches in a lateral direction, so as to 
admit of festoons being trained from one tree 
to another. These trees are not pollarded as 
in Tuscany and Lombardy, but allowed to 
grow to their full height, so that it is not 
unusual to see a vine clustering around the 
top of a poplar sixty or eighty feet high. 
Under their shade the soil produces annually 
a double crop, one of which is of wheat or 
maize. Melons are cultivated in great quan'j 



160 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



ties, and with hardly any manure. Thickets I charming perfumes over the adjoining country; 
of fig-trees, of peaches, and aloes, grow spon- j while the rocky eminences are covered with 
taneously on the borders of the fields. Groves vines, which produce fruits of the most deli- 
of orange clothe the slopes, and spread their | cious flavour. 



SCOTT, CAMPBELL, AND BYRON. 



We have listened with admiration to the 
eloquent strains in which the first in rankf 
and the first in genius^ have proposed the 
memory of the immortal bard whose genius 
we are this day assembled to celebrate ; but I 
know not whether the toast which I have now 
to propose has not equal claims to our enthu- 
siasm. Your kindness and that of the com- 
mittee has intrusted to me the memory of three 
illustrious men — the far-famed successors 6f 
Burns, who have drank deep at the fountains 
of his genius, and proved themselves the worthy 
inheritors of his inspiration. And Scotland, 
I rejoice to say, can claim them all as her 
own. For if the Tweed has been immortalized 
by the grave of Scott, the Clyde can boast the 
birthplace of Campbell, and the mountains 
of the Dee first inspired the muse of Byron. 
I rejoice at that burst of patriotic feeling ; I 
hail it as the presage, that as Ayrshire has 
raised a fitting monument to Burns, and Edin- 
burgh has erected a fitting structure to the 
author of Waverley, so Glasgow will, ere long, 
raise a worthy monument to the bard whose 
name will never die while hope pours its balm 
through the human heart ; and Aberdeen will, 
worthily, commemorate the far-famed tra- 
veller who first inhaled the inspiration of na- 
ture amidst the clouds of Loch-na-Gar, and 
afterwards poured the light of his genius over 
those lands of the sun, where his descending 
orb sets — 

"Not as in northern climes obscurely bright, 
But one unclouded blaze of living light." 

Scotland, my lord, may well be proud of hav- 
ing given birth to, or awakened the genius of 
such men; but she can no longer call these 
exclusively her own — their names have be- 
come household words in every land. Man- 
kind claims them as the common inheritance 
of the numan race. Look around us, and we 
shall see on every side decisive proof how 
far and wide admiration for their genius has 
sunk into the hearts of men. What is it that 
atti acts strangers from every part of the world, 
into this distant land, and has more than com- 
pensated for a remote situation and a churlish 
soil, and given to our own northern isle a 
splendour unknown to the regions of the sun? 
What is it which has brought together this 
mightv assemblage, and united the ardent 



* Speech delivered at the Burns Festival, on 6th Au- 
gust, 1814, on proposing the memory of Scott, Campbell, 
and Byron. 

+ Earl of EgMnton, who presided. 

j Professor Wilson. 



and the generous from every part of the world, 
from the Ural mountains to the banks of the 
Mississippi, on the shores of an island in the 
Atlantic 1 My lord, it is neither the magni- 
ficence of our cities, nor the beauty of our 
valleys, the animation of our harbours, nor 
the stillness of our mountains: it is neither 
our sounding cataracts nor our spreading 
lakes: neither the wilds of nature we have 
subdued so strenuously, nor the blue hills we 
have loved so well. These beauties, great as 
they are, have been equalled in other lands ; 
these marvels, wondrous though they be, have 
parallels in other climes. It is the genius of 
her sons which have given Scotland her proud 
pre-eminence ; this it is, more even than the 
shades of Bruce, of Wallace, and of Mary, 
which has rendered her scenes classic ground 
to the whole civilized world, and now brings 
pilgrims from the most distant parts of the 
earth, as on this day, to worship at the shrine 
of genius. 

Yet Albyn ! yet the praise be thine, 

Thy scenes with story to combine ; 

Thou bid'st him who by Roslin strays, 

List to the tale of other days. 

Midst Cartiane crags thou showest the cave, 

The refuge of thy champion brave ; 

Giving each rock a storied tale, 

Pouring a lay through every dale; 

Knitting, as with a moral band, 

Thy story to thy native land ; 

Combining thus the interest high, 

Which genius lends to beauty's eye! 

But the poet who conceived these beautiful 
lines, has done more than all our ancestors' 
valour to immortalize the land of his birth ; 
for he has united the interest of truth with the 
charms of fiction, and peopled the realm not 
only with the shadows of time, but the crea- 
tions of genius. In those brilliant creations, 
as in the glassy wave, we behold mirrored the 
lights, the shadows, the forms of reality; and 
yet 

So pure, so fair, the mirror gave, 
As if there lay beneath the wave, 
Secure from trouble, toil, and care, 
A world than earthly world more fair. 

Years have rolled on, but they have taken no- 
thing, they have added much, to the fame of 
those illustrious men. 

Time but the impression deeper makes, 
As streams their channels deeper wear. 

The voice of ages has spoken : it has given 
Campbell and Byron the highest place, with 
Burns, in lyric poetry, and destined Scott 
To rival all but Shakspeare's name below. 
Their names now shine in unapproachable 
splendour, far removed, like the fixed stars, 



SCOTT, CAMPBELL, AND BYRON. 



161 



from the clouds and the rivalry of a lower 
world. To the end of time, they will maintain 
their exalted station. Never will the culti- 
vated traveller traverse the sea of the Archipe- 
lago, that "The isles of Greece, the isles of 
Greece," will not recur to his recollection ; 
never will he approach the shores of Loch 
Katrine, that the image of Ellen Douglas will 
not be present to his memory; never will he 
gaze on the cliffs of Britain, that he will not 
thrill at the exploits of the "mariners of Eng- 
land, who guard our native seas." Whence 
has arisen this great, this universally acknow- 
ledged celebrity 1 My lord, it is hard to say 
whether we have most to admire the brilliancy 
of their fancy, or the creations of their genius, 
the beauty of their verses, or the magic of 
their language, the elevation of their thoughts, 
or the pathos of their conceptions. Yet can 
each boast a separate grace ; and their age 
has witnessed in every walk the genius of 
poetry elevated to its highest strain. In Scott 
it is variety of conception, truth and fidelity 
of delineation in character, graphic details of 
the olden time, which is chiefly to be admired. 
Who can read without transport his glowing 
descriptions of the age of chivalry 1 Its massy 
castles and gloomy vaults, its haughty nobles 
and beauteous dames, its gorgeous pageantry 
and prancing steeds, stand forth under his 
magic pencil with all the colours and bril- 
liancy of reality. We are present at the shock 
of armies, we hear the shouts of mortal com- 
batants, we see the flames of burning castles, 
we weep in the dungeon of captive innocence. 
Yet who has so well and truly delineated the 
less obtrusive but not less impressive scenes 
of humble life ? Who has so faithfully por- 
trayed the virtues of the cottage ; who has done 
so much to elevate human nature, by exhibiting 
its dignity even in the abyss of misfortune; 
who has felt so truly and told so well "the 
might that slumbers in a peasant's arm V In 
Byron it is the fierce contest of the passions, 
the yearning of a soul longing for the stern 
fealities of life, amidst the seduction of its 
frivolity ; the brilliant conceptions of a mind 
fraught with the imagery and recollections of 
the east, which chiefly captivates every mind. 
His pencil is literally " dipt in the orient hues 
of heaven." He transports us to enchanted 



ground, where the scenes which speak most 
powerfully to the heart of man are brought 
successively before our eyes. The east, with 
its deathless scenes and cloudless skies; its 
wooded steeps and mouldering fanes, its glassy 
seas and lovely vales, rises up like magic be- 
fore us. The haughty and yet impassioned 
Turk; the crouching but still gifted Greek; 
the wandering Arab, the cruel Tartar, the fa- 
natic Moslem, stand before us like living beings, 
they are clothed with flesh and blood. But 
there is one whose recent death we all deplore, 
but who has lighted. " the torch of Hope at na- 
ture's funeral pile," who has evinced a yet 
higher inspiration. In Campbell, it is the mo- 
ral purposes to which he ( has directed his 
mighty powers, which is the real secret of his 
success; the lofty objects to which he has de- 
voted his life, which have proved his passport 
to immortality. To whatever quarter he has 
turned his mind, we behold the working of the 
same elevated spirit. Whether he paints the 
disastrous day, when, 

Oh bloodiest picture in the book of Time, 
Sarmatia fell, unwept, without a crime ; 

or portrays with generous ardour the ima- 
ginary paradise on Susquehanna's shore, 
where 

The world was sad, the garden was a wild, 
And man, the hermit, sighed till woman smiled ; 

or transports us to that awful time when Chris- 
tian faith remains unshaken amidst the disso- 
lution of nature, 

And ships are drifting with their dead, 
To shores wiiere all is dumb, 

we discern the same mind, seeing every ob- 
ject through its own sublime and lofty vision. 
Thence has arisen his deathless name. — It is 
because he has unceasingly contended for the 
best interests of humanity; because he has 
ever asserted the dignity of a human soul; be- 
cause he has never forgotten that amidst all 
the distinctions of time — 

" The rank is but the guinea stamp. 
The man's the gowd for a' that;" 

because he has regarded himself as the high- 
priest of nature, and the world which we in- 
habit as the abode not merely of human cares 
and human joys, but as the temple of the liv- 
ing God, in which praise is due, and where 
service is to be performed. 



21 



o2 









16% 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



SCHOOLS OF design; 



We stand in this community in a very 
peculiar situation, and which loudly calls for 
immediate attention of all interested in their 
country's greatness. We have reached the very 
highest point of commercial greatness. Such 
lias been the growth of our mechanical power, 
such the marvels of our commercial enter- 
prise ! But, when we turn to the station we oc- 
cupy in the arts of design, in these very arts 
in which, as a manufacturing community, we 
are so deeply interested, we see a very different 
spectacle. We sec foreigners daily flocking 
from all parts of the world to the shores of the 
Clyde or the Mersey, to study our railways. 
and our canals; to copy our machinery, to 
take models of our steam-vessels — but we see 
none coming to imitate our designs. On the 
contrary, we, who take the lead of all the world 
in mechanical invention, in the powers of art, 
are obliged to follow them in the designs to 
which these powers are to be applied. Gentle- 
men, this should not be. We have now arrived 
at that period of manufacturing progress, when 
we must take the lead in design, or we shall 
cease to have orders for performance — we 
must be the first in conception, or we will be 
the last in execution. To others, the Fine Arts 
may be a matter of gratification or ornament; 
to a manufacturing community it is one of 
life or death. We may, however, be encou- 
raged to hope that we may yet and ere long 
attain to eminence in the Fine Arts, from ob- 
serving how uniformly in past times com- 
mercial greatness has co-existed with purity 
of taste and the development of genius ; in so 
much that it is hard to say' whether art has 
owed most to the wealth of commerce, or com- 
merce to the perfection of art. Was it not 
the wealth of inland commerce which, even in 
the deserts of Asia, reared up that great com- 
monwealth, which once, under the guidance 
of Zenobia, bade defiance to the armies of 
imperial Rome, and the ruins of which, at 
Tadmor and Palmyra, still attract the admira- 
tion of the traveller? Was it not the wealth 
of maritime commerce which, on the shores 
of the ^Egean sea, raised that great republic 
which achieved a dominion over the minds of 
men more durable than that which had been 
reared b)^ the legions of Caesar, or the phalanx 
of Alexandei 1 Was it not the manufactures 
of Tuscany tvhich gave birth at Florence to 
that immortal school of painting, the works 
of which still attract the civilized world to the 
shores of the Arno? The velvets of Genoa, the 
jewelry of Venice, long maintained their as- 
cendency after the. political importance of 
these republics had declined ; and the school 
of design established sixty years ago at Lyons 
has enabled its silk manufactures to preserve 
the lead in Europe— despite the carnage of the 
Convention, and the wars of Napoleon. In 

^neech delivered on Nov. 23, 18*3, in proposing the 
hment of a School of Design in Glasgow. 



Flanders and Holland the wealth and enter- 
prise of commerce, notwithstanding the dis- 
advantages of a level soil, a cloudy atmosphere, 
and a humid climate, have produced the im- 
mortal works of Rubens, Vandyke, and Rem- 
brandt. Why should a similar result not take 
place here T Arrived at the summit of manu- 
facturing greatness, why should we be second 
to any in the arts of design? Have they pos- 
sessed advantages which we do not enjoy ? 
Had they finer cataracts than the Falls of the 
Clyde, or glens more romantic than Cartland 
Crags — had they nobler oaks than those of 
Cadzow, or ruins more imposing than those 
of Bothwell — had they galleries finer than the 
halls of Hamilton, or lakes more lovely than 
Loch Lomond, or mountains more sublime 
than those of Arran? Gentlemen, within two 
hours' journey from Glasgow are to be found 
combined 

" Whate'er Lorrain hath touched with softening hue, 
Or savage Rosa dashed, or learned Poussin drew." 

The wealth is here, the enterprise is here, 
the materials are here; nothing is wanting 
but the hand of genius to cast these precious 
elements into the mould of beaut} r — the lofty 
spirit, the high aspirations which, aiming at 
greatness, never fail to attain it. Are we to 
be told that we cannot do these things; that 
like the Russians we can imitate but cannot 
conceive 1 It is not in the nation of Smith 
and of Watt, — it is not in the land of Bums 
and Scott, — it is not in the country of Shak- 
speare and Milton, — it is not in the empire of 
Reynolds and Wren, that we can give any 
weight to that argument. Nor is it easy 
to believe that the same genius which has 
drawn in such enchanting colours the lights 
and shadows of Scottish life, might not, rf 
otherwise directed, have depicted, with equal 
felicity, the lights and shadows of Scottish 
scenery. We have spoken of our interests, 
we have spoken of our capabilities, — we have 
spoken of what other nations have done ; — but 
there are greater things done than these. No 
one indeed can doubt that it is in the moral and 
religious feelings of the people, that the broad 
and deep foundations of national prosperity 
can alone be laid, and that every attempt to 
attain durable greatness on any other basis 
will prove nugatory. But we are not only 
moral and intellectual, we are active agents. 
We long after gratification — we thirst for en- 
joyment ; and the experienced observer of 
man will not despise the subsidiary, but still 
important aid to be derived in the great work 
of moral elevation, from a due direction of the 
active propensities. And he is not the least 
friend to his species, who, in an age peculiar- 
ly vehement in desire, discovers gratifications 
which do not corrupt — enjoyments which do 
not degrade. But if this is true of enjo) r ments 
simply innocent, what shall we say of those 
which refine, which not only do not lead to 



LAMARTINE. 



vice, but exalt to virtue 1 — which open to the 
peasant, equally with the prince, that pure 
gratification which arises to all alike from the 
contemplation of the grand and the beautiful 
in Art and in Nature 1 We have now reached 
that point where such an election can no 



longer be delayed. Our wealth is so great, it 
has come on us so suddenly, it will corrupt if 
it doss not refine ; if not directed to the arts 
which raised Athens to immortality, it wiZ£ 
sink us to those which hurled Babylon to per- 
dition. 



LAMARTINE.* 



It is remarkable, that although England is 
the country in the world which has sent forth 
the greatest number of- ardent and intrepid 
travellers to explore the distant parts of the 
earth, yet it can by no means furnish an array 
of writers of travels which will bear a compa- 
rison with those whom France can boast. In 
skilful navigation, daring adventure, and heroic 
perseverance, indeed, the country of Cook and 
Davis, of Bruce and Park, of Mackenzie andj 
Buckingham, of Burckhardt and Byron, of Par- 
ry and Franklin, may well claim the pre-emi- 
nence of all others in the world. An English- 
man first circumnavigated the globe ; an 
Englishman alone has seen the fountains of 
the Nile; and, five years after the ardent spi- 
rit of Columbus had led his fearful crews 
across the Atlantic, Sebastian Cabot dis- 
covered the shores of Newfoundland, and 
planted the British standard in the regions 
destined to be peopled with the overflowing 
multitudes of the Anglo-Saxon race. 

But if we come to the literary works which 
have followed these ardent and energetic ef- 
forts, and which are destined to perpetuate 
their memory to future times — the interesting 
discoveries which have so much extended our 
knowledge and enlarged our resources — the 
contemplation is by no means, to an inhabitant 
of these islands, equally satisfactory. The 
British traveller is essentially a man of en- 
ergy and action, but rarely of contemplation 
or eloquence. He is seldom possessed of the 
scientific acquirements requisite to turn to the 
best account the vast stores of new and original 
information which are placed within his reach. 
He often observes and collects facts ; but it is 
as a practical man, or for professional pur- 
poses, rather than as a philosopher. The ge- 
nius of the Anglo-Saxon race — bold, sagacious, 
and ( nterprising, rather than contemplative 
and scientific — nowhere appears more strongly 
than in the accounts of the numerous and in- 
trepid travellers whom the}' arc continually 
sending forth into every part of the earth. We 
admire their vigour, we aremovcd by their hard- 
ships, we are enriched by their discoveries ; 
but if avc turn to our libraries for works to con- 
vey to future ages an adequate and interesting 
account of these fascinating adventures, we 
shall, in general, experience nothing but dis- 
appointment. Few of them are written with 
the practised hand, the graphic eye, necessary 

to convey vivid pictures to future times : 

_j_ 

■ 
* Blackwood's Magazine, Nov. 1844. 



and though numerous and valuable books of 
travels, as works of reference, load the shelves 
of our libraries, there are surprising!}' few 
which are fitted, from the interest and vivacity 
of the style in which they are written, to pos- 
sess permanent attractions for mankind. 

One great cause of this remarkable peculi- 
arity is without doubt to be found in the widely 
different education of the students in our uni- 
versities, and our practical men. In the for- 
mer, classical attainments are in literature the 
chief, if not exclusive, objects of ambition; 
and in consequence, the young aspirants for 
fame, who issue from these learrfed retreats, 
have their minds filled with the charms and 
associations of antiquity, to the almost entire 
exclusion of objects of present interest and im- 
portance. The vigorous practical men, again, 
who are propelled by the enterprise and exer- 
tions of our commercial towns, are sagacious 
and valuable observers; but they have seldom 
the cultivated minds, pictorial eye, or powers 
of description, requisite to convey vivid or in- 
teresting impressions to others. Thus our 
scholars give us little more than treatises on. 
inscriptions, and disquisitions on the sites of 
ancient towns; while the accounts of our ac- 
tive men are chiefly occupied with commercial 
inquiries, or subjects connected with trade and 
navigation. The cultivated and enlightened tra- 
veller, whose mind is alike open to the charm 
of ancient story and the interest of modern, 
achievement — who is classical without being 
pedantic, graphic and yet faithful, enthusiastic 
and yet accurate, discursive and at the same 
time imaginative, is almost unknown amongst 
us. It will continue to be so as long as edu- 
cation in our universities is exclusively devot- 
ed to Greek and Latin verses, or the higher ma- 
thematics; andin academies, to book-keeping 
and the rule of three ; while so broad and sui 
len a line as heretofore is drawn between the 
studies of our scholars and the pursuits of our 
practical citizens. To travel to good purpose 
requires a mind stored with much and varied 
information, in science, statistics, geography, 
literature, history, and poetry. To describe, 
what the traveller has seen, requires, in addi 
tion to this, the eye of a painter, the soul of a 
poet, and the hand of a practised composer. Pro- 
bably it will be deemed no easy matter to find 
such a combination in any country or in any 
age; and most certainly the system of education, 
neither at our learned universities nor our com- 
mercial academies, is fitted to produce it. 

It is from inattention to the vast O( ore rwf 



164 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



previous information requisite to make an ae- ; 
complished traveller, and still more a writer ■ 
of interesting travels, that failures in this ' 
branch of literature are so glaring and so fre- 
quent. In other departments of knowledge, 
a certain degree of information is felt to he 
requisite before a man can presume to write 
a book. He cannot produce a treatise on ma- 
thematics without knowing at least Euclid, 
nor a work on history without having read 
Hume, nor on political economy without 
having acquired a smattering of Adam Smith. 
But in regard to travels, no previous informa- 
tion is thought to be requisite. If the person 
who sets out on a tour has only money in his 
pocket, and health to get to his journey's end, he 
is deemed sufficiently qualified to come out 
with his two or three post octavos. If he is 
an Honourable, or known at Almack's, so much 
the better ; that will ensure the sale of the first 
edition. If he can do nothing else, he can at 
Jeast tell the dishes which he got to dinner at 
the inns, and the hotels where comfortable 
beds are to be found. This valuable informa- 
tion, interspersed with a few descriptions of 
scenes, copied from guide-books, and anecdotes 
picked up at tablcs-d'hote or on board steam- 
boats, constitute the stock in trade of many an 
adventurer who embarks in the speculation 
of paying by publication the expenses of his 
travels. We have no individuals in view in 
these remarks; we speak of things in general, 
as they are, or rather have been ; for we be- 
lieve these ephemeral travels, like other ephe- 
merals, have had their day, and are fast dying 
out. The market has become so glutted with 
them that they are, in a great many instances, 
unsaleable. 

The classical ,avellers of England, from 
Addison to Eustace and Clarke, constitute an 
important and valuable body of writers in this 
branch of literature, infinitely superior to the 
fashionable tours which rise up and disappear 
like bubbles on the surface of society. It is 
impossible to read these elegant productions 
without feeling the mind overspread with the 
charm which arises from the exquisite remains 
and heart-stirring associations with which they 
are filled. But their interest is almost exclu- 
sively classical ; they are invaluable to the ac- 
complished scholar, but they speak in an un- 
known tongue to the great mass of men. They 
see nature only through the medium of anti- 
quity ; beautiful in their allusion to Greek or 
Roman remains, eloquent in the descriptions 
of scenes alluded to in the classical writers, 
they have dwelt little on the simple scenes of 
the unhistoric world. To the great moral and 
social questions which now agitate society, and 
so strongly move the hearts of the great body 
of men, they are entire strangers. Their works 
are the elegant companions of the scholar or 
the antiquary, not the heart-stirring friends of 
the cottage on the fireside. 

Inferior to Britain in the energy and achieve- 
ments of the travellers whom she has sent 
forth, and beyond measure beneath her in the 
amount of the addition she has made to geo- 
graphical science, France is yet greatly supe- 

'■r, at least of late years, in the literary and 
tific attainments of the wanderers whose 



works have been given to the world. Four 
anion z these stand pre-eminent, whose works, 
in very different styles, are at the head of Eu- 
ropeon literature in this interesting department 
— Humboldt, Chateaubriand, Michaud, and La- 
martine. Their styles are so various, and the 
impressions produced by reading them so dis- 
tinct, that it is difficult to believe that they have 
arisen in the same nation and age of the world. 

Humboldt is, in many respects, and perhaps 
upon the whole, at the head of the list; and to 
his profound and varied works we hope to be 
able to devote a future paper. He unites, in 
a degree that perhaps has never before been 
witnessed, the most various qualities, and 
which, from the opposite characters of mind 
which they require, are rarely found in unison. 
A profound philosopher, an accurate observer 
of nature, an unwearied statist, he is at the 
same time an eloquent writer, an incompara- 
ble describer, and an ardent friend of social 
improvement. Science owes to his indefati- 
gable industry many of her most valuable ac- 
quisitions : geography, to his intrepid perse- 
verance, many of its most important discove- 
ries ; the arts, to his poetic eye and fervid elo- 
quence, many of their brightest pictures. He 
unites the austere grandeur of the exact 
sciences to the bewitching charm of the fine 
arts. It is this very combination which pre- 
vents his works from being generally popular. 
The riches of his knowledge, the magnitude 
of his contributions to scientific discovery, 
the fervour of his descriptions of nature, al- 
ternately awaken our admiration and excite 
our surprise ; but they oppress the mind. To 
be rightly apprehended, they require a reader 
in some degree familiar with all these subjects ; 
and how many of these are to be met with ! 
The man who takes an interest in his scienti- 
fic observations will seldom be transported by 
his pictures of scenery; the social observer, 
who extracts the rich collection of facts which 
he has accumulated regarding the people whom 
he visited, will be indifferent to his geographi- 
cal discoveries, There are few Humboldts 
either in the reading or thinking world. 

Chateaubriand is a traveller of a wholly 
different character. He lived entirely in anti- 
quity; but it is not the antiquity of Greece 
and Rome which has alone fixed his regards, 
as it has done those of Clarke and Eustace — it is 
the recollections of chivalry, the devout spirit 
of the pilgrim, which chielly warmed his ar- 
dent imagination. He is universally allowed 
by Frenchmen of all parties to be their first 
writer; and it maybe conceived what brilliant 
works an author of such powers, and emi- 
nently gifted both with the soul of a poet and 
the eye of a painter, must have produced in 
describing the historic scenes to which his 
pilgrimages extended. He went to Greece and 
the Holy Land with a mind devout rather than 
enlightened, credulous rather than inquisitive. 
Thirsting for strong emotions, he would be 
satisfied; teeming with the recollections and 
visions of the past, he traversed the places 
hallowed by his early affections with the fond- 
ness of a iover who returns to the home of 
his bliss, of a mature man who revisits the 
scenes of his infancy. He cared not to inquire 



LAMARTINE. 



what was true or what was legendary in these 
tirne-hallowed traditions ; he gladly aecepted 
them as they stood, and studiously averted all 
inquiry into the foundation on which they 
rested. He wandered over the Feloponnesus 
or Judea with the fond ardour of an English 
scholar who seeks in the Palatine Mount the 
traces of Virgil's enchanting description of 
the hut of Evander, and rejects as sacrilege 
every attempt to shake his faith. 

" When Science from Creation's face 
Enchantment's visions draws, 
What lovely visions yield their place 
To cold material laws! " 

Even in the woods of America, the same rul- 
ing passion was evinced. In those pathless 
solitudes, where no human foot had ever trod 
but that of the wandering savage, and the 
majesty of nature appeared in undisturbed 
repose, his thoughts were still of the Old 
World. It was on the historic lands that his 
heart was set. A man himself, he dwelt on 
the scenes which had been signalized by the 
deeds, the sufferings, the glories of man. 

Michaud's mind is akin to that of Chateau- 
briand, and yet different in many important 
particulars. The learned and indefatigable 
historian of the Crusades, he has traversed 
the shores of the Mediterranean — the scene, 
as Dr. Johnson observed, of all that can ever 
interest man — his religion, his knowledge, his 
arts — with the ardent desire to imprint on his 
mind the scenes and images which met the 
eyes of the holy waraiors. He seeks to trans- 
port us to the days of Godfrey of Bouillon and 
Raymond of Toulouse ; he thirsts with the 
Christian host at Dorislaus, he shares in its 
anxieties at the siege of Antioch, he partici- 
pates in its exultation at the storming of Jeru- 
salem. The scenes visited by the vast multi- 
tude of w r arriors who, during two hundred 
years, were precipitated from Europe on Asia, 
have almost all been visited by him. and de- 
scribed with the accuracy of an antiquary and 
the enthusiasm of a poet. With the old chro- 
nicles in his hand, he treads with veneration 
the scenes of former generous sacrifice and 
heroic achievements, and the vast and massy 
structures erected on either side during those 
terrible wars — when, for centuries, Europe 
strove hand to hand with Asia — most of which 
have undergone very little alteration, enable 
him to describe them almost exactly as they 
appeared to the holy warriors. The interest 
of his pilgrimage in the east, accordingly, is 
peculiar, but very* great; it is not so much a 
book of travels as a moving chronicle ; but, 
like Sir W. Scott's Minstrelsy of the Borders, it is 
a chronicle clothed in a very different garb from 
the homely dress of the olden time. It trans- 
ports us back, not only in time but in idea, six 
hundred years ; but it does so with the grace 
of modern times — it clothes the profound feel- 
ings, the generous sacrifices, the forgetfulness 
of self of the twelfth century, with the poetic 
mind, the cultivated taste, the refined imagery 
of the nineteenth. 

Lamartine has traversed the same scenes 
with Chateaubriand and Michaud, and yet he 
has done so in a different spirit; and the 

Character of his "work 13 cocontiall}? fliffprr»nt 



from either. He has not the devout credulity 
of the first, nor the antiquarian zeal and know- 
ledge of the last; but he is superior to either 
in the description of nature, and the painting 
vivid and interesting scenes on the mind of 
the reader. His work is a moving panorama, 
in which the historic scenes and azure skies, 
and placid seas, and glowing sunsets, of the 
east, are portrayed in all their native bril- 
liancy, and in richer even than their native 
colours. His mind is stored with the associa- 
tions and the ideas of antiquity, and he has 
thrown over his descriptions of the scenes of 
Greece, or Holy Writ, all the charms of such 
recollections ; but he has done so in a more 
general and catholic spirit than either of his 
predecessors. He embarked for the Holy 
Land shortly before the revolution of 1830; 
and his thoughts, amidst all the associations 
of antiquity, constantly reverted to the land 
of his fathers — its distractions, its woes, its 
ceaseless turmoil, its gloomy social prospects. 
Thus with all his vivid imagination and unri- 
valled powers of description, the turn of his 
mind is essentially contemplative. He looks 
on the past as an emblem of the present; he 
sees, in the fall of Tyre, and Athens, and Jeru- 
salem, the fate which one day aw r aits his own 
country; and mourns less the decay of human 
things, than the popular passions and national 
sins which have brought that instability in 
close proximity to his own times. This sen- 
sitive and foreboding disposition was much 
increased by the death of his daughter — a 
charming child of fourteen, the companion of 
his wanderings, the depositary of his thoughts, 
the darling of his affections — who was snatched. 
aw r ay in the spring of life, when in health and 
joy, by one of the malignant fevers incidental 
to the pestilential plains of the east. 

Though Lamartine's travels are continuous, 
he does not, like most other wanderers, fur- 
nish us with a journal of every day's proceed- 
ings. He Avas too well aware that many, 
perhaps most, days on a journey are monoto- 
nous or uninteresting; and that great part 
of the details of a traveller's progress are 
wholly unworthy of being recorded, because 
they are neither amusing, elevating, nor in- 
structive. He paints, now and then, with all 
the force of his magical pencil, the more bril- 
liant or characteristic scenes which he visited, 
and intersperses them with reflections, moral 
and social ; such as would naturally be aroused 
in a sensitive mind by the sight of the ruins 
of ancient, and the contemplation of the decay 
of modern, times. 

He embarked at Marseilles, with Madame 
Lamartine and his little daughter Julia, on the 
10th of July, 183.0. The following i> the pic- 
ture of the yearnings of his mind on leaving 
his native land; and they convey a faithful 
image of his intellectual temperament: — 

"I feel it deeply: I am one only of those 
men, without a distinctive character, of a 
transitory and fading epoch, whose sighs have 
found an echo — only because the echo was 
more poetical than the --poet. I belong to 
another age by my desires: I feel in myself 
another man : the immense and boundless 
hnr - 7rm of philosophy, at once profound, re 



166 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



ligious, and poetical, has opened to my view; 
but the punishment of a wasted youth over- 
took me; it soon laded from my sight. Adieu, 
then, to the dreams of genius, to the aspira- 
tions of intellectual enjoyment! It is too late: 
I have not physical strength to accomplish 
any thing great. I will sketch some scenes — 
I will murmur some strains; and that is all. 
Yet if God would grant my prayers, here is 
the object for which I would petition — a poem, 
such as my heart desires,- and his greatness 
deserves! — a faithful, breathing image of his 
creation: of the boundless world, visible and 
invisible ! That would indeed be a worthy 
inheritance to leave to an era of darkness, of 
doubt, and of sadness! — an inheritance which 
would nourish the present age, and cause the 
next to spring with renovated youth." — (Voy- 
ages en Orient, I. 49, 50.)* 

One of his first nocturnal reveries at sea, 
portrays the lender and profoundly religious 
impressions of his mind :— 

"I walked for an hour on the deck of the 
vessel alone, and immeised alternately in sad 
or consoling reflections. I repeated in my 
heart all the prayers which I learned in in- 
fancy from my mother ; the verses, the frag- 
ments of the Psalms, which I had so often 
heard her repeat to herself, when walking in 
the evening in the garden of Milly. I experi- 
enced a melancholy pleasure in thus scatter- 
ing them, in my turn, to the waves, to the 
winds, to that Ear which is ever open to every 
real movement of the heart, though not yet 
uttered by the lips. The prayer which we 
have heard repeated by one we have loved, and 
who is no more, is doubly sacred. Who among 
us would notprefer a few words of prayer taught 
us by our mother, to the most eloquent sup- 
plication composed by ourselves 1 Thence it 
is that whatever religious creed we may adopt 
at the age of reason, the Christian prayer will 
be ever the prayer of the human race. I prayed 
in the prayer of the church for the evening at 
sea ; also for that dear being, who never thought 
of danger to accompany her husband, and that 
lovely child, who played at the moment on the 
poop with the goat which was to give it milk 
on board, and with the little kids which licked 
her snow-white hands, and sported with her 
long and fair ringlets." — (I. 57.) 

A night-scene on the coast of Provence gives 
a specimen of his descriptive powers. 

"It was night— that is, what they call night 
in those climates; but how many days have I 
seen less brilliant on the banks of the Thames, 
the Seine, the Saone, or the Lake of Geneva! 
A full moon shone in the firmament, and cast 
into the shade our vessel, which lay motion- 
less on the water at a little distance from the 
quay. The moon, in her progress through 
the heavens, had left a path marked as if with 
red sand, with which she had besprinkled the 
half of the sky : the remainder was clear deep 
blue, which melted into white as she advanced. 
.On the horizon, at the distance of two mites, 
between two little isles, of which the one had 



* Wn Cave translated all the passages ourselves : the 
versions hitherto published in this country give, as most 
English translations of French works do,"a most imper- 
fect idea of the original. 



headlands pointed and coloured like the Coli- 
seum at Rome, while the other was violet 
like the flower of the lilac, the image of a vast 
city appeared on the sea. It was an illusion, 
doubtless ; but it had all the appearance of 
reality. You saw clearly the domes glancing 
— dazzling lines of palaces — quays flooded by 
a soft and serene light; on the right and the 
left the waves were seen to sparkle and en- 
close it on either side : it was Venice or Malta 
reposing in the midst of the waters. The 
illusion was produced by the reflection of the 
moon, when her rays fell perpendicularly on 
the waters ; nearer the eye,1hc radiance spread 
and expanded in a stream of gold and silver 
between two shores of azure. On the left, the 
gulf extended to the summit of a long and ob- 
scure range of serrated mountains; on the 
right opened a narrow and deep valley, where 
a fountain gushed forth beneath the shade of 
aged trees ; behind, rose a hill, clothed to the 
top with olives, which in the night appeared 
dark, from its summit to its base — a line of 
Gothic towers and white houses broke the ob- 
scurity of the wood, and drew the thoughts to 
the abodes, the joys, and the sufferings of man. 
Further off, in the extremity of the gulf, three 
enormous rocks rose, like pillars without base, 
from the surface of the waters — their forms 
were fantastic, their surface polished like flints 
by the action of the waves ; but those flints 
were mountains — the remains, doubtless, of 
that primeval ocean which once overspread 
the earth, and of whic^ our seas are but a 
feeble image."— (I. 66.) 

A rocky bay on the same romantic coast, 
now rendered accessible to travellers by the 
magnificent road of the Corniche, projected, 
and in part executed by Napoleon, furnishes 
another subject for this exquisite pencil : — 

"A mile to the eastward on the coast, the 
mountains, which there dip into the sea, are 
broken as if by the strokes of enormous clubs 
—huge fragments have fallen, and are strewed 
in wild confusion at the foot of the cliffs, or 
amidst the blue and green waves of the sea, 
which incessantly laves them. The waves 
break on thevse huge masses without inter- 
mission, with a hollow and alternating roar, 
or rise up in sheets of foam, which besprinkle 
their hoary fronts. These masses of moun- 
tains — for they are too large to be called rocks 
— are piled and heaped together in such num- 
bers, that they form an innumerable number 
of narrow havens, of profound caverns, of 
sounding grottoes, of gloomy fissures — of 
which the children of some of the neighbouring 
fishermen alone know the windings and the 
issues. One of these caverns, into which you 
enter by a natural arch, the summit of which 
is formed by an enormous block of granite, 
lets in the sea, through which it flows into a 
dark and narrow valley, which the waters fill 
entirely, with a surface as limpid and smooth 
as the firmament which they reflect. The sea 
preserves, in this sequestered nook that beautiful 
tint of bright green, of which marine painters 
so strongly feel the value, but which they can 
never transfer exactly to their canvas; for 
the eye sees much which the hand strives in 
vain to imitate. 






LAMARTINE. 






167 



"On the two sides of that marine valley rise 
two prodigious walls of perpendicular rock, 
of an uniform and sombre hue, similar to that 
of iron ore, after it lias issued and cooled from 
the furnace. Not a plant, not a moss can find 
a slope or a crevice wherein to insert its roots 
or cover the rocks with those waving garlands 
which so often in Savoy clothe the cliffs, where 
they flower to God alone. Black, naked, per- 
pendicular, repelling the eye by their awful 
aspect— they seem to have been placed there 
for no other purpose but to protect from. the 
sea-breezes the hills of olives and vines, which 
bloom under their shelter; an image of those 
ruling men in a stormy epoch, who seem placed 
by Providence to bear the fury of all the tem- 
pests of passion and of time, to screen the 
weaker but happier race of mortals. At the 
bottom of the bay the sea expands a little, as- 
sumes a bluer tint as it comes to reflect more 
of the cloudless heavens, and at length its tiny 
waves die away on a bed of violets, as closely 
netted together as the sand upon the shore. If 
you disembark from the boat, you find in the 
cleft of a neighbouring ravine a fountain of 
living water, which gushes beneath a narrow 
path formed by the goats, which leads up from 
this sequestered solitude, amidst overshadow- 
ing fig-trees and oleanders, to the cultivated 
abodes of man. Few scenes struck me so 
much in my long wanderings. Its charm con- 
sists in that exquisite union of force and grace 
which forms the perfection of natural beauty 
as of the highest class of intellectual beings; 
it is that mysterious hymen of the land and 
the sea, surprised, as it were, in their most 
secret and hidden union. It is the image of 
perfect cairn and inaccessible solitude, close 
to the theatre of tumultuous tempests, where 
their near roar is heard with such terror, where 
their foaming but lessened waves } r et break 
upon the shore.. It is one of those numer- 
ous chcfs-'ftcuvre of creation which God has 
scattered over the earth, as if to sport with 
contrasts, buf which he conceals so frequently 
on the summit of naked rocks, in the depth of 
inaccessible ravines, on the unapproachable 
shores of the ocean, like jewels which he 
unveils rarely, and that only to simple be- 
ings, to children, to shepherds or fishermen, 
or the devout worshippers of nature." — (I. 73 
—74.) 

This style of description of scenery is 
peculiar to this age, and in it Lamartine may 
safely be pronounced without a rival in the 
whole range of literature. It was with Scott 
and Chateaubriand that the graphic style of 
description arose in England and France ; but 
he has" pushed the art further than either of 
his great predecessors. Milton and Thomson 
had long ago, indeed, in poetry, painted nature 
m the most enchanting, as well as the truest 
colours; but in prose little was to be found 
except a general and vague description of a 
class of objects, as lakes, mountains, and 
rivers, without any specification of features 
and details, so as to convey a definite and dis- 
tinct impression to the mind of the reader. 
Even the classical mind and refined taste of 
Addison could not attain this graphic style ; his 
descriptions of scenery, like that of all prose 



writers down to the close of the eighteenth 
century, are lost in vague generalities. Like 
almost all descriptions of battles in modern 
times, before Napier, they are so like each 
other that you cannot distinguish one from the 
other. Scott and Chateaubriand, when they 
did apply their great powers to the delineation 
of nature, were incomparably faithful, as well 
as powerfully imaginative ; but such descrip- 
tions were, for the most part, but a secondary 
object Avith them. The human heart was their 
great study; the vicissiludes of life, the inex- 
haustible theme of their genius. With La- 
martine, again, the description of nature is the 
primary object. It is to convey a vivid im- 
pression of the scenes he has visited that he 
has written ; to kindle in his reader's mind the 
train of emotion and association which their 
contemplation awakened in his own, that he 
has exerted all his powers. He is much more 
laboured and' minute, in consequence, than 
either of his predecessors; he records the 
tints, the forms, the lights, the transient effects 
with all a painter's enthusiasm and all a poet's 
power.; and succeeds, in any mind at all fa- 
miliar with the objects of nature, in conjuring 
up images as vivid, sometimes perhaps more 
beautiful, than the originals which he por- 
trayed. 

From the greatness of his powers, however, 
in this respect, and the facility with which he 
commits to paper the whole features of the 
splendid phantasmagoria with which his me- 
mory is stored, arises the principal defect of 
his work; and the circumstance which has 
hitherto prevented it, in this country at least, 
from acquiring general popularity commen- 
surate to its transcendent merits. "He is too 
rich in glowing images; his descriptions are 
redundant in number and beauty. The mind 
even of the most imaginative reader is fatigued 
by the constant drain upon its admiration— 
the fancy is exhausted in the perpetual effort to 
conceive the scenes which he portrays to the 
eye. Images of beauty enough are to be found 
in his four volumes of Travels in the East, to 
emblazon, with the brightest colours of the 
rainbow, forty volumes of ordinary adventure. 
We long for some repose amidst the constant 
repetition of dazzling objects ; monotony, in- 
sipidity, ordinary life, even dulness itself, 
would often be a relief amidst the ceaseless- 
flow of rousing images. Sir Walter Scott 
says, in one of his novels— " Be assured that 
whenever I am particularly dull, it is not with- 
out an object;" and Lamartine would some- 
times be the better of following the advice. 
We generally close one of his volumes with 
the feeling so well known to travellers in the 
Italian cities, "I hope to God there is nothing 
more to be seen here." And having given the 
necessary respite of unexciting disquisition to 
rest our readers' minds, we shall again bring 
forward one of his glowing pictures : — 

" Between the sea and the last heights of 
Lebanon, which sink rapidly almost to the 
water's edge, extends a plain eight leagues in 
length by one or two broad ; sandy, bare, 
covered only with thorny arbutus, browsed by 
the camels of caravans. From it darts out into 
the sea an advanced peninsula, linked to the 



168 



ALISON'S MISCELLANEOUS ESSAYS. 



continent only by a narrow chaussec of shining 
sand, borne hither by the winds of Egypt. 
Tyre, now called Sour by the Arabs, is situated 
at the extremity of this peninsula, and seems, 
at a distance, to rise out of the waves. The 
modern town, at first sight, has a gay and 
smiling appearance; but a nearer approach 
dispels the illusion, and exhibits only a few- 
hundred crumbling and half-deserted houses, 
where the Arabs, m the evening, assemble to 
shelter their flocks which have browsed in the 
narrow plain. Such is all that now remains 
of the mighty Tyre. It has neither a harbour to 
the sea, nor a road to the land; the prophecies 
have long been accomplished in regard to it. 

" We moved on in silence, buried in the 
contemplation of the dust of an empire which 
we trod. We followed a path in the middle 
of the.jplain of Tyre, between the town and the 
hills of gray and naked rock which Lebanon 
has thrown down towards the sea. We arrived 
abreast of the city, and touched a mound of 
sand which appears the sole remaining ram- 
part to prevent it from being overwhelmed by 
the waves of the ocean or the desert. I thought 
of the prophecies, and called to mind some of 
the eloquent denunciations of Ezekiel. As I 
was making these reflections, some objects, 
black, gigantic, and motionless, appeared upon 
the summit of one of the overhanging cliffs of 
Lebanon which there advanced far into the 
plain. They resembled five black statues, 
placed on a rock as their huge pedestal. At 
first we thought it was five Bedouins, who 
were there stationed to fire upon us from their 
inaccessible heights ; but when we were at the 
distance of fifty yards, we beheld one of them 
open its enormous wings, and flap them 
against its sides with a sound like the unfurl- 
ing of a sail. We then perceived that they 
were five eagles of the largest species I have 
ever seen, either in the Alps or our museums. 
They made no attempt to move when we ap- 
proached ; they seemed to regard themselves 
as kings of the desert, looked on Tyre as an 
appanage which belonged to them, and whither 
they were about to return. Nothing more 
supernatural ever met my eyes ; I could almost 
suppose that behind them I saw the terrible 
figure of Ezekiel, the poet of vengeance, point- 
ing to the devoted city which the divine wrath 
had overwhelmed with destruction. The dis- 
charge of a few muskets made them rise from 
their rock: but they showed no disposition to 
move from their ominous perch, and, soon 
returning, floated over our heads, regardless 
of the shots fired at them, as if the eagles of 
God were beyond the reach of human injury," 
—(II. 8—9.) 

Jerusalem Avas a subject to awaken all our 
author's enthusiasm, and call forth all his 
descriptive powers. The first approach to it 
has exercised the talents of many writers in 
prose and verse ; but none has drawn it in 
such graphic and brilliant colours as our 
author : — 

" We ascended a mountain ridge strewed 
over with enormous gray rocks piled one on 
another as if by human hands. Here and 
there a few stunted vines, yellow with the co- 
lour of autumn, crept along the soil in. a few 



places cleared out in the wilderness. Fig- 
trees, with their tops withered or shivered by 
the blasts, often edged the vines, and cast their 
black fruit on the gray rock. On our right, 
the desert of St. John, where formerly < the 
voice was heard crying in the wilderness,' 
sank like an abyss in the midst of five or six 
black mountains, through the openings of 
which, the sea of Egypt, overspread with a 
dark cloud, could still be discerned. On the 
left, and near the eye, was an old tower, placed 
on the top of a projecting eminence ; other 
ruins, apparently of an ancient aqueduct, de- 
scended from that tower, overgrown with ver- 
dure, now in the sere leaf; that tower is 
Modin, the stronghold and tomb of the last 
heroes of sacred story, the Maccabees. We 
left behind us the ruins, resplendent with the 
first rays of the morning — rays, not blended as 
in Europe in a confused and vague illumi- 
nation, but darting like arrows of fire tinted 
with various colours, issuing from a dazzling 
centre, and diverging over the whole heavens 
as they expand. Some were of blue, slightly 
silvered, others of pure white, some of tender 
rose-hue, melting into gray; many of burning 
fire, like the coruscations of a flaming confla- 
gration. All were distinct, yet all united in 
one harmonious whole, forming a resplendent 
arch in the heavens, encircling, and issuing 
from a centre of fire. In proportion as the 
day advanced, the brilliant light of these sepa- 
rate rays was gradually dimmed — or rather,, 
they were blended together, and composed the 
colourless light of day. Then the moon, which 
still shone overhead, 'paled her ineffectual 
fire,' and melted away in the general illumina- 
tion of the heavens. 

" After having ascended a second ridge, 
more lofty and naked than the former, the 
horizon suddenly opens to the right, and pre- 
sents a view of all the country which extends 
between the last summits of Judea and the 
mountains of Arabia. It was alread}' flooded 
with the increasing light of the morning ; but 
beyond the piles of gray rock which lay in the 
foreground, nothing was distinctly visible but 
a dazzling space, like a vast sea, interspersed 
with a few islands of shade, which stood forth. 
in the brilliant surface. On the shores of that 
imaginary ocean, a little to the left, and about 
a league distant, the sun shone with uncom- 
mon brilliancy on a massy tower, a lofty min- 
aret, and some edifices, which crowned the 
summit of a low hill of which you could not 
see the bottom. Soon the points of other mi- 
narets, a few loopholed walls, and the dark 
summits of several domes, which successively 
came into view, and fringed the descending 
slope of the hill, announced a city. It was 
Jerusalem, and every one of the party, with- 
out addressing a word to the guides or to each 
other, enjoyed in silence the entrancing spec- 
tacle. We rested our horses to contemplate 
that mysterious and dazzling apparition; but 
when we moved on, it was soon snatched from 
our view ; for as we descended the hill, and 
plunged into the deep and profound valley 
which lay at its feet, we lost sight of the holy 
citv. and were surrounded only by the solitude 
and desolation of the desert."— (II. 163—165.) 



LAMARTINE. 






169 



The environs' of Jerusalem are described 
with equal force by the same master-hand : — 

"The general aspect of the environs of Je- 
rusalem may be described in a few words. 
Mountains without shade, and valleys without 
water — the earth without verdure, rocks with- 
out grandeur. Here and there a few blocks 
of gray stone start up out of the dry and fis- 
sured earth, between which, beneath the shade 
of an old fig-tree, a gazelle or a hyaena are oc- 
casionally seen to emerge from the fissures 
of the rock. A few plants or vines creep over 
the surface of that gray and parched soil ; in 
the distance, is occasionally seen a grove of 
olive-trees, casting a shade over the arid side 
of the mountain — the mouldering walls and 
towers of the city appearing from afar on the 
summit of Mount Sion. Such is the general 
character of the country. The sky is ever 
pure, bright, and cloudless ; never does even 
the slightest film of mist obscure the purple 
tint of evening and morning. On the side of 
Arabia, a wide gulf opens amidst the black 
ridges, and presents a vista of the shining sur- 
face of the Dead Sea, and the violet summits 
of the mountains of Mc/ab. Rarely is a brea