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constantly running against taste, and capable of no sustained effect whatever. All his openings are grand, and he always sprains his wings directly, and flutters through his longer works most lamentably. He wants unity and continuity of design, his
eye is never single, he looks too many ways for effect, and can never divest himself of that species of literary attitudinizing, which is as incompatible with elevated thought or dignified expression, as the feats of a rope dancer with the delivery of an oration of Demosthenes. As to his personal character, we must make large deductions from his own account of it, but something good will still remain; he is not superhuman exactly in his disinterestedness and devotion to principle, and yet he seems always to have had some preference of a certain set of principles, and those liberal, loyal and philanthropic. He doubted once (in his Essai), if there were any such thing as civil liberty. “Est-il une liberté civile ?” — J'en doute”—but now he says, that was before he had considered the representative system and the effect of improved morals and increased instruction, and on the whole his conduct under Bonaparte and under the Restoration, bears him out in claiming to have the excuse admitted. When the murder of the Duke of Enghien became known at Paris, Chateaubriand had just been appointed minister to the Valois, and he immediately resigned and never took office from Napoleon again. It was a good impulse that dictated this, and there was some courage as well as high principle in executing it, the more so as the Vicomte no doubt believes he should have been a very great man in the empire, had he continued to serve. Other people can see, that his utter want of solidity would prevent his being a very great man ever or any where, certainly under Napoleon; the sacrifice he made was much less, no doubt, than he believed, but as a question of temptation resisted, it is fair to put its value at all he really supposed it was.
He is now employed: he tells the world occasionally, in writing his own memoirs, to be published after his death, with that view to effect which is his ruling passion. In the mean time, he indulges us here and there with an occasional quotation in his works, and at Paris a select circle are sometimes favoured with a reading by himself of one or two chosen chapters. At each of these readings he receives as much incense as he can possibly snuff at a time: why should he then, to increase the cloud for a moment, overset the censer, by publishing the whole book at once to the world? He will read on while the breath is in his nostrils—the angel of death will find him reading, and will deliver over the precious volume to the public, the public will
accept it eagerly, tire of it speedily, and deliver it, together with most of these we have been treating of, back again to the angel of death."
ART. VIII.—The Rationale of Political Representation. By the
author of Essays on the Formation of Opinions, &c. &c. London : 1835.
Reform is the progress of truth, and as truth is a pure and immortal principle, none but good elements can combine with, or accompany it. Human reason may indeed place an obstacle in its path where it intends to plant a stepping-stone; prejudice may fortify the obstruction, interest may strengthen it, and it may even appear invincible to the attacks of time; but error is error still; it changes not its nature with the accumulation of ages; it is foredoomed to destruction in its finite origin and nascent imperfection, being of the earth, earthy; while the principle it opposes is immortal in its inception, and co-existent with its eternal source. The philosopher who, with right notions of the character of his Maker, has at any period of the world looked upon his fellow-creatures in the spirit of wisdom, cannot have failed to see that the heated struggle or ominous repose of every age has wrought out something for the future, from the memories of the past, and the miseries of the present, and that however inadequate the good obtained may have appeared at the instant, when compared with its price, some succeeding generation has made it the basis of weightier claims and wider achievements. Moral advancement has been produced by physical suffering. Every battle-field has done something to teach mankind. The great schoolmaster, Experience, has gradually ameliorated human condition by chastisement. His book, wherein man, even untaught man,cannot help reading, is a mighty rubrick, printed in blood, but legible as the stars of heaven,
and nearly as old. Ils comments are in the deeds, its inferences in the passions, its moral in the destinies of humanity. The struggles it relates, are those which still agitate the world“ between
It is rather provoking to be forced to recant a prophecy so promptly; but since the above was written, we have seen a notice, that in consideration of a large sum of money, payable in different ways, the Vicomte has consented to bring out this biography, during his lifetime. It is to be published in a series of “livraisons," and to extend to sixteen volumes octavo.
low wants and lofty will,”—struggles which are perpetually renewed for objects new only in name, but which in their very renewal show the importance of the strife.
Philosophers are generally before their age-politicians almost always behind it. Both are in progress; but the former sail by the pole-star, the latter by the lead. The one class conteinns the dulness of experience, the other despises the rashness of theory. Prometheus with his flint and steel would have been a laughing-stock to the conservatives of Otaheite for a couple of generations. Even in the Grecian allegory he passed for a malefactor. Men in former ages stoned those who taught them a new truth. In our own (and the difference is as much in favour of our argument as of man's humanity), they content themselves with sneering at or abusing them. In the next, it may be that they will receive their revelations with respect, and even omit to brand them as heretics or traitors, because their opinions did not sail with Noah in the ark. The Bastile has fallen within the last half century. The Inquisition survived it but a miserable years, and there will yet be bright hopes even in the fortresses of Siberia.
Political speculation is still a hill of difficulties--it used to be one of danger, too. He who essays it, is not obliged to veil himself in allegory or fable (the axe and the cord are the fables now), but he has to encounter the host of his own prejudices, and the contempt of the herd whose interests and passions are.of the growth of six thousand years—heirlooms, it may be, from Cain. He was a bold man who first went to sea in ships, but he was a bolder one who first crusaded in behalf of human rights, There would be a lofty monument to the memory of the oldest reformer, if the gratitude of mankind bore any proportion to their obligations. He probably perished in ditch or dungeon before the first echo of his new tones came back from the mountains. There was then no eloquence in his rags-no honour in his martyrdom. Like a far off, new-created star, his light had yet to penetrate space—to struggle through mist and vapour-to pierce the intensity of ignorance-to suffer refraction from every passing cloud of error—to glimmer faintly and fitfully “through the loops of time,” before it could illuminate the point where it was destined to rest. The “first artificer in brass and iron" has an antediluvian record, and he was worthy of one. The universal deluge could not overwhelm his grave. It was higher than Ararat. But who can name that greater than Tubal-Cain, the first discoverer in political art—the first benefactor of social man: him whose steps were earliest in the pathway of justice, and who, in some remote era and distant land, stood forth alone and unfriended, at once a witness and a
victim to the imınortality of truth? Like the river which covered the bones of Alaric, the stream of time seems to have been turned to hide his memory. His name is a riddle for eternity.
This is poor consolation for those whose love of their species is of that bastard quality which is subordinate to their love of themselves, and who would fain teach wisdom from the tops of pyramids. Those benefactors of mankind who have sat in high places, form a minority seventy times diminished. A child's horn-book might register them all and have a page to spare. Covered in the amber of their own great deeds, men sometimes flatter themselves that they are embalmed for ever in its brightness and transparency, forgetful that amber has another quality, and that it is concealed by the very dross it attracts. A successful revolutionist sometimes wins his way to greatness by playing with the passions of his fellow-men; so does an ardent soldier, by controling their energies or developing his own : but a patriotic restorer of forgotten rights, a peaceful reformer of abuses, goes from his closet to his grave, for the most part, in darkness, and others reap his reward. If it were otherwise, perhaps too much of human motive would mingle with the love of country, and of mankind, by which such persons are inspired, and the progress of the world would be hindered. Men, for wise purposes, are judged and sentenced by their fellows after a corrupt and degraded standard. Fame, in her long flight, cares less for the nature than the weight of her burden, and Fortune, having no eyes, judges merit by the She always votes for the loudest trumpet-call
. As a historical personage, Regulus (the Regulus of the poet) could never have come down to us—he is a conception, an abstraction, an idea. The tramp of a Roman legion (in after times the clash of a gladiator's buckler) would have driven him out of Livy. With Niebuhr, he is, no doubt, an allegory like Cocles and Camillus. Human benefactors, therefore, must live on their own consciousness of desert, which is, in itself, “an exceeding great reward.” They have nothing else to expect on this side heaven. Gratitude implies a sense of obligation, and that is not felt towards them until they have become nothing—beyond the reach of desire; as content with six foot as the moles of Adrianus.”
The power to look beyond present fame (not to despise it), is the noblest characteristic of a great spirit, and the surest guarantee of advancing knowledge. Our race would crawl instead of flying, if innate aspirations, superior to any earthly honour, did not prompt men to great deeds and great discoveries,
“Fame is no plant that grows in mortal soil,
“ The last infirmity of noble minds” is still an infirmity. It is a false motive when it is a sole or a ruling motive. The German poet well classes it among the means used by the enemy of souls to augment the number of his victims. It has desólated and ravaged, but never amended or ameliorated the world. Religion owes it nothing, although it may have had its martyrs. They were false witnesses who only injured her cause. Patriotism does not want it. It is in itself a higher and loftier stimulant to action. Science and art have not found it sufficient to sustain their votaries. The mad world called them mad, and shut them in cells, or forced them to close their light of truth within a misty fabric of error-Apollo in a lantern of horn. Half the prescriptive solecisms in political science are the result of this compromise, this conjunction without a unison-of jarring opposites. Philosophy chose Ignorance for her guardian, and they bewildered one another. Reason went to school to Superstition, and, finally, came to credit her dogmas, and to call them oracles. Men grew famous by delusion, and that way sought to live for ever in the mouths of their successors. The learned Florentine (better than half his abusers) courted this fame, and reached it. He was the first of his age, but his age was the last of its kind. He might have better earned his celebrated inscription; but had he deserved it really, it would have waited yet a thousand years. torbe written on the Alleghanies, or upon a column in regenerated Asia, instead of being presently walled into the bloody threshold of his native city. He dreamed not with all his great intellect (and his great deservings, too) that there is a higher principle than love of fame, or that there could be a worthier theatre than the surface of Italy. The narrow, personal use of great means makes every
thinking man despise Napoleon. He was (we had almost said) a common robber. He was, we must say, an uncommon one. But his time was to-day; his end was himself. The world retrograded under him, while he persuaded himself that he was worthily fulfilling a great destiny by picking up cast-off spangles and bedecking his courtier-marshals with them. He played out the old game (boldly, and sometimes even imposingly, too)
See the beautiful passage in the Faust, beginning
“ Was willst du armer Teufel geben ?” VOL. XX.-NO. 39.