Page images
[ocr errors]

If we make inquiry, however, in regard to the career of this new advocate who professes such ardent zeal for the cause of England, we shall find that he was formerly enlisted under very different banners. He was the author of the "Crimes of Cabinets," a work published at the end of the last war, and replete (see Review, Vol. xxxvii. p. 105.) with censure on our government and commendation of that of France. It is somewhat remarkable that, in that as well as his present very contradictory publication, he has stated that he asserts nothing but the truth, and that he has the best authority for his representations." After the Crimes of Cabinets, came forth his translation of Hauterive on the state of France in 1801; (sce Rev. Vol. xxxvii. p.184.) than which he could not have selected, from the whole compass of foreign literature, a book more hostile to English interests. The next capacity in which he appears is that of editor of the Argus, at Paris, a news-paper too notorious to stand in need of any comment or explanation on our part. From this situation, however, he says, he was soon removed for want of sufficient subserviency to the views of the French governors: yet, notwithstanding the disgust which he professes to have conceived for them, he chose to remain seven years longer at Paris. Now, with a recollection of all these circumstances, we must really be excused from subscribing implicitly to Mr. Goldsmith's new creed. We know full well that the French ruler is a turbulent and formidable neighbour, but we cannot see, with equal clearness, that we are likely to oppose him with more advantage by the assistance of Mr. Goldsmith. However, the present work is too uninteresting to be the subject of longer comment; and we shall defer our farther remarks till our next Number, in which we propose to take notice of an additional publication by this author, on the Secret History of the Cabinet of Bonaparte.

[blocks in formation]

Art 25. A Statement of Facts delivered to the Right Honourable Lord Minto, Governor General of India, &c. &o. on his late arrival at Madras. By William Petrie, Esq, Senior Member of the Council at Madras. With an Appendix of official Minutes. 8vo. pp. 100. 35. 6d. Stockdale, jun. 18:0.

This publication is intitled to a greater share of attention than most pamphlets, for two reasons, viz. the rank and situation of the writer, and the alarming nature of the subject; a subject, in regard to which we fear that it is not yet permitted to us to dismiss our anxiety. Mr. Petrie has been forty years in the Company's service; and, after having long been a leading member in the council at Madras, he filled the office of governor of that presidency during the interval between the departure of Lord William Bentinck and the arrival of Sir George Barlow. The latter had scarcely assumed the reins of government, when a considerable difference of opinion took place between him and Mr. Petrie, who was disposed to adopt a less rigid course of policy than Sir George, and to make a free use of the permission which the Company holds out to the members of council, of recording in the official minutes, whenever they chuse, a dissent from the measures of their colleagues. The first point of difference

[ocr errors]

difference between them regarded a Mr. Sherson, employed in the grain department, whose accounts became subject to great suspicion; and Sir George Barlow having suspended that gentleman, first from employment and afterward from the service, was offended that Mr. Petrie should refuse to withdraw his countenance from him. The next source of dissention sprang from that mass of corruption, the debts of the late Nabob of Arcot; in regard to which Sir George Barlow deemed it proper to extend the support of government to the law-proceedings of the commissioners, but without effect, the verdicts of three successive juries being adverse. It is important to remark that Mr. Petrie's sentiments are in concurrence with those of the juries: but the grand point of difference between Sir George Barlow and Mr. Petrie regarded the rising discontents of the army. The former maintained that nine-tenths of the army were tranquil and satisfied, and that it was indispensable to proceed with rigour against the factious few who had dared to raise their voice against government; while the latter argued that the dissatisfaction was general, and that conciliatory measures alone could be successtul in appeasing it. These discussions took place in the beginning of May 1809. Sir George Barlow's opinion prevailed in the council, and measures of severity were adopted.

The reports of the commanding officers in different districts soon made it appear that Sir George had been too sanguine in reckoning on the satisfied state of the majority of the army; but, when he was urged to make some concessions, he remained implacable, and asserted that it would be the greatest of evils to repeal an order once passed. Mr. Petrie, on the other hand, argued that it would be less dangerous to repeal every order issued during the last twelvemonths,, than to hazard a struggle of Briton against Briton, and to call in the aid of Sepoys in this unnatural warfare! Mr. P. does not seek.

to vindicate the conduct of General Macdowall, nor to estimate the proceedings of that portion of the army which permitted its if to be excited to mutiny: but he pays a warm tribute to their valour, discipline, and patience, under the hardships of war; and he maintains that, to such men, a partial concession from government would not have been degradation. Towards the end of July, complaints poured in from the army in various quarters: on which Sir George Barlow proposed that a paper should be tendered to all the company's officers for signature, declaratory of their determination to obey the orders of government, and accompanied by a resolution that those who should refuse to sign the paper should be removed to a distance from their corps. He also proposed that the native officers of the Sepoys should be called together, and told that their first duty. was to obey the orders of government. Both these measures were disapproved by Mr. Petrie. The declaration, he alleged, contained in fact nothing more than the articles of war imposed on every officer, while the manner of tending it would seem to them to imply a distrust of their honour :-above all, it was important to avoid any appeal to the Sepoy, or to teach him in any degree the lesson that on his arm depended the security of our eastern empire. The council of Madras, however, judged otherwise; the declaration was issued; and the commanding


officers who hesitated to enforce it, and dissuaded the council from the attempt, were charged to carry it into effect without delay. Many of the officers, as had been foreseen, refused to subscribe what they considered as an affront to their loyalty; and an alienation was thus created between the government and a number of individuals, who had otherwise not the most distant intention of ranking themselves among its opponents. The young men of the Madras Institu tion were ordered in displeasure to their corps, because they would not publicly testify their loyalty by attending a ball gived by Lady Barlow; and a battalion of Sepoys was sent across the peninsula to Goa, on account of their officers having refused to dine with the governor All this, surely, was u dignified and injudicious; and the consequences produced by these arbitrary and intemperate acts might have been dangerous to our dominion in the peninsula, had not the opportune arrival of Lord Minto from Bengal afforded to the officers an occasion of submitting. without the humiliation of yielding to Sir George Barlow.

Mr. Petrie has said quite enough to shew that the cold and repulsive manners of Sir George Barlow are ill calculated to excite a willing obedience from his inferiors; and that he is one of those men who, with the word vigour perpetually in their mouths, are unable to distinguish between energy and rashness, and are apt to rush into the most improvident measures. Whether Mr. P. has been equally successful in clearing himself from censure, on his own conduct, is more questionable. After having so recently filled the station of governor, he appears to have had some difficulty in reconciling hims If to the second rank, and to have thought and acted with a degree of freedom which must have conduced in some measure to the aggra vations of the public ferment. Without acquiescing in the charges made against him by Sir George, (and which have led to his dismissal from office,) we must remark that, however misguided the governor was, the opposition of the second in council should not have been avowed, nor repeated; that it should have been confined to private admonition; and that, if this was disregarded, the alternative of recording a dissentient opinion should have been very rarely adopted. In our judgment, Mr. Petrie would have done better to have declared, once for all, that he disapproved and lamented the course pursued by Sir George Barlow: but that a sense of the importance of unanimity should prevent him from disclosing that disagreement. to the public.

The style of this narrative is of that plain kind which a man, who is filled with the importance of his matter, is apt to adopt. The manuscript appears to have been sent home for publication in the event of Mr. Petrie's dismissal being confirmed by the Court of Directors: but the person, to whose care it seems to have been conmitted, has allowed an injudicious preface to be inserted, and has paid little attention to the correction of typographical errors.


Art. 26. Lettre au Comte Moira, &c. A Letter to the Earl of Maira, respecting the Spaniards and Cadiz, by Baron Von Geramb,


Major General in the Service of his Catholic Majesty Ferdi, nand VII, a Hungarian Magnate, and Chamberlain of the Emperor of Austria. 4to. pp. 72. 10s. 6d. Printed at London.


We have here one of the most singular productions that has for some time fallen into our hands. The Baron Von Geramb begins by telling Lord Moira, with the familiarity of an old acquaintance, that he formerly addressed him from the Banks of the Nile, the Neva,, and the Danube, as he now does from the banks of the Thames. 'Here,' he adds, I take a pride in calling myself your friend, among men who take a pride in calling themselves your countrymen. It is to you, my Lord, who comprehend heroism, because you are inclined by nature to whatever is great, noble, and generous, that I wish to speak of great exploits, and of that sublime spirit which, in the present crisis, has marked the Spanish nation, and promises it eventual success. You, who are capable of the greatest things, and who by performing them have attained so distinguished a rank among your countrymen, will form a judgment, by your own feelings, of the opinion which I have expressed.' After this high compliment to the Earl, the Baron proceeds to give us some information respecting himself; the substance of which, as far as it is possible to extract any meaning out of his pompous phraseology, seems to be that, when the late peace between France and Austria took away all prospect of resistance on the side of Germany, he proceeded by way of Sicily to Cadiz, to contribute his efforts in the cause of the Spaniards, or, to use his own words, to die or to triumph along with them.' How it has happened that he has so soon exchanged his residence at Cadiz for one on the banks of the Thames, we are not apprized: but to judge from his magnikcent effusions on first approaching the Spanish shore, we should have pronounced it impossible for him to tear him. self away from so admired a spot. The Baron is one of those sentimental writers who seldom condescend to enter into plain matters of fact, but who are perpetually enveloping themselves in the sublime conceptions of the imagination, or the profound emotions of the heart. Instead of informing us, deliberately and clearly, of the condition of Cadiz, its means of defence, and of the share (if any) which he took in it, the whole letter is filled with exclamations of wonder at the constancy of the Spaniards, and of horror at the excesses of the enemy. All this would be praiseworthy, if kept withia the bounds of truth and moderation: but the Baron is too fervent an orator to attend to cool considerations. I found,' he says, among the Spaniards at Cadiz, no cries against the enemy, no abuse, no imprecations; when they met, they saluted each other with a few energetic words of terrible effect. It was like the solemn language of hermits, who repair to the pit which is to be their grave, and after, having removed daily a small portion of earth, say to each other when. they meet, Brother, think of death !"

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

The baron was invited, soon atter his arrival, to assist at a funeral service, to be performed in honour of a Spanish officer who was killed at Seville--and we extract his account of the scene that fol lowed:

[ocr errors][merged small]

The prayers were over, the last funeral songs were expiring in echo along the vaults, the flambeaux were extinguished, and a solitary lamp remained burning. I was on my knees, praying fervently, when an apparition struck my astonished eyes: a woman of middle stature, but of a heavenly figure, clothed in full mourning, stood before me. I contemplated her with surprize-with enchantment.I saw nothing but melancholy in her looks. She made a motion to go out,-and I followed her. My grief and my devotion had interested Donna Maria; and the sympathy of these two feelings began our acquaintance, which proved an innocent and a serious one. "Are you not," said she to me, "a Spaniard in your heart, and desirous that we should triumph? I solicit the honour of dressing the first wound which you may receive in our service. Our situation, our dangers, banish all etiquette. There should exist no longer among us any distinction of age, sex, or rank: but the union of sentiments, of interests, and of efforts, ought to form one mass of us all." Such are the feelings which I have found predominant in the hearts of the Spanish ladies; they are like Spartans, like Carthaginians; they have renounced all attention to ornamental dress.'

These specimens may afford some idea of the high-flown style of this Hungarian Magnate.' The rest of his work consists, like the passages extracted, of magnificent eulogies on the Spanish nation; and, with the exception of some tolerable observations on the errors of the Juntas, the whole is in an equally fantastic strain. One part, indeed, much exceeds in extravagance the idea which our readers will form from what we have said; we mean the story of an apparition arising to the view of the astonished Baron on the beach at Cadiz, and conducting him to a vault in the city. We spare our readers the re cital of this gloomy affair, on account both of its extreme, absurdity, and of its having already appeared in several of our newspapers. Art. 27. The Adventures of Robert Drury, during Fifteen Years' Captivity on the Island of Madagascar; containing a Description of that Island; an Account of its Produce, Manufactures, and Commerce, with an Account of the Manners and Customs, Wars, Religion, and civil Policy of the Inhabitants. Written by himself, and now carefully revised and corrected from the original Copy. London, printed and sold by W. Meadows in Cornhill; T. Astley in St. Paul's Church Yard; and B. Milles, Hounds ditch. 1743. Reprinted for Stodart and Craggs, Hull. 1807. Svo. pp. 459. Price 8s.

The Adventures of Robert Drury were published a few years before the Monthly Review commenced, and the edition which we now notice is the only one which has since appeared. The work, we believe, has never been subjected to the examination of the critic: but time has matured and confirmed the public judgment concerning it, and there is neither occasion nor excuse for exercising criti cism on the original publication, beyond a general and brief remark on its merits.

The genuineness of Drury's Adventures does not admit of ques tion. Those of his readers who know any thing of Madagascar and its inhabitants must here recognise his acquaintance with them; and


« PreviousContinue »