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and destroy their real power and influence, is to the last degree absurd.”* We answer, that we firmly believe they do not expect such a result, and we as firmly believe that they are pursuing a course which will most certainly have this effect. History is fresh in our recollection; this is not the first time that nobles, quite as elevated, as patriotic, and as able as these, have, during the tempest of Reform, rushed on their own destruction.
Did the Duke of Orleans, when he shewed the first example of deserting his order, and fainted with emotion as he left the chamber of the hereditary peers of France to join his great name and influence to the Tiers Etat, intend to exclude himself from the French throne? Was he aware that in so doing he was ascending the first steps of that scaffold, to which in less than three years he was led in melancholy state, at the gate of his own palace? Did the Marquis Rochefoucault, or the Duke de Liancourt, the firm friend of the people, the enlightened patron of agriculture, the warm philanthropist, imagine that in following his example, they were consigning themselves to the exile and ruin, which so soon afterwards rewarded all their exertions in favour of the democracy? Did the Marquis Lafayette, the adored commander of the National Guard, whose white plume was the signal for universal shouts in the streets of Paris, imagine that the course he was pursuing was destined to raise a flame which even his influence could not subdue, and that he should so soon be compelled to seek for refuge from the fury of plebeian ambition in the security of an Austrian dungeon? Did the Marquis of Crillon intend, in joining the ranks of the Reformers, to extinguish his high descent on the revolutionary scaffold; or the heir of Montmorency to terminate the long line of the Constables of France, under the axe of the guillotine? Did the forty-six nobles who, in June 1789, deserted the House of Peers to support the innovations of the democracy, suppose that in so doing they were exposing them
selves to the confiscation and death which so soon overtook them? Did Bailly, the first President of the Assembly, the democratic mayor of Paris, the author of the Tennis Court Oath, the most popular man in France, intend to rouse a spirit which should lead him forth a miserable victim to a cruel and lingering death on the Champs de Mars? Did the illustrious Marquis de Mirabeau, whose eloquence had so long shook the assembly, imagine that popular rancour would pursue him even beyond the grave, and that his ashes, torn up from the Pantheon, should be consigned amidst universal execration to the winds? We have witnessed these events: the blood of the nobles, whose lives paid the forfeit of their misguided patriotism, is yet reeking: the ability with which their conduct was eulogized, is yet fresh in our recollection, and yet we are now called upon to surrender the constitution, because British is following the career of French innovation.
"But, then," continues the same author, "it is said, if you once remove the landmarks of the constitution, you will be unable to stop where you wish. This argument would be a very true one if it were intended to retain any of the abuses of the system; but as they are to be done away with by the Bill, all reasonable opposition to our representative system is removed, and its defenders are thus placed on a vantage-ground, from whence they may easily defy the attacks of their enemies."+-Is then the Reform Bill so very perfect, that it will at once cure all objections, remove all complaints, against our representative system? Will the excluded householders-the multitude of unrepresented proprietors -the vast swarm of ambitious radicals, have nothing to say? Is democratic ambition, once excited, so easily subdued? Does the removal of all existing abuses check the progress of revolution? "The concessions of the king," said Mirabeau, in June 23, 1789, "have removed all the real grievances of France." Did his vast concessions preserve the aristocracy
↑ Ibid, p. 25.
Friendly Advice to the Peers, p. 25. Miguet, vol. i.
or save the throne?" I have been anxiously considering," said that beneficent monarch, when informed of his sentence of death, "whether, during the whole course of my reign, I have done any thing to my people with which I should now reproach myself; and I solemnly declare, when about to appear at the judgment-seat of God, that I have not: that I have never wished any thing but their happiness."* And it is in the lifetime of the generation who have witnessed his execution, that the House of Peers is now called upon to plunge into the fatal career of innovation. "In the time of the civil war in England," continues the same author," we find it stated, that in the year 1646, the majorities of the Lords and Commons differed from each other upon almost every political topic; and it was only by the reluctant and ungracious yielding of the former, that business was able to proceed." What was the consequence? We turn to another page of the same History, and we find, that, on the 6th February, 1649, it was voted, that the House of Peers is useless, dangerous, and ought to be abolished. "The misery and disturbances which followed these dissensions in the different branches of the legislature, are well known to all; the iron rule of Cromwell, the merciless Restoration, the tyranny and folly of the Stuart brothers." In these remarks historic truth has prevailed over party ambition. It was in consequence of the ungracious yielding” of the Lords that the House of Peers was abolished, the sovereign beheaded, and the iron rule of Cromwell established. The democratic party acquired such vigour, and so immensely increased in strength from this great victory, that, thenceforward, they became irresistible.-Let their successors hear the warning voice, and not imitate the example which brought such fatal consequences upon their forefathers.
Is it said, that it was the " cious yielding" of the Peers which produced these disastrous consequences, and that very different results would have attended their
timely submission? Here, again, history comes in to complete the lesson of experience. The French nobility tried the system of " gracious" concession; at the desire of their sovereign they yielded the great question of voting together, or in separate chambers; in one night they surrendered all their privileges-they relinquished, without a struggle, their titles of honour. The force of concession could no farther go; and in return, the throne was overturned, the aristocracy destroyed; and they were treated with a degree of seve rity to which the proscription of the Long Parliament appears to be an act of mercy.
The author of the Friendly Advice declares, that if the Reform Bill be resisted, the Peers will be the first victims. Whether this will be the case or not is discussed in another article in this Number; but experience warrants the melancholy presage, that if it is carried, the leaders of the movement will be the first to suffer from its effects. Within a few months after Neckar, the leader of the reforming ministry of France, had been recalled by the popular voice to the helm of affairs, and traversed the kingdom in all but regal procession, he was exiled, proscribed, and ruined, by the Assembly which he had first installed in popular sovereignty. Lafayette was the next object of popular execration, and his life saved only by voluntary exile; the illustrious Bailly, the next victim of democratic revenge. Within three years after Reform had been commenced amidst unanimous transports in France, every one of its early leaders had perished on the scaffold, or been driven, after their fortunes had utterly perished, into distant lands.May Heaven avert such scenes of disaster from this kingdom! but if they should occur, we shall at least have the consolation of reflecting that we have warned the authors of the measure we deplore of its consequences to themselves and their country; and incessantly presented the lessons of historic experience as the mirror of future fate.
Friendly Advice, p. 30.
* Lacretelle. Parliamentary Reform and the French Revolution, No. VII.
We have the highest respect for Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. Dr Hugh had so much taste and talent, that his mind bordered on genius. It may be said to have lived in the debateable land between the two great kingdoms of Reason and Imagination. Not that we mean to say the Doctor was in any mood a poet; but in many a mood he loved poetry, and saw and felt its beauties. It spoke to something within him, which was not mere intelligence. In short, Nature had not gifted him with Imagination active, but of Imagination passive she had given Hugh a considerable share; and thus, though it was impossible for him to originate the poetical, it was easy for him to appreciate it when set before him by the makers. A pure delight seems to have touched his heart, in contemplating the creations of genius, in listening to the inspiration of those on whom heaven had bestowed "the vision and the faculty divine." The Professor doth sometimes prose, it must be confessed. "wearisome exceedingly" but that in some measure was his vocation; and the heaviest of all vehicles is perhaps, in print, a Lecture. It was his bounden duty to be as plain as a pike-staff, perspicuous as an icicle; and rare would have been his felicity had he escaped the "timmer-tune" of the one, and the frigidity of the other, in his very elegant and useful prelections. Cowper, in one of his letters, commends Blair's good sense, but speaks most contemptuously of his utter destitution of all original power either of thought or feeling; but there the author of the Task was too severe, for compare him with the best critics going or gone, and he will appear far from barren. His manner is somewhat cold, but there is often much warmth in the matter -and let us say it at once, he had, in his way, enthusiasm. In private life Blair was a man of a constitution of character by no means unimpas
sioned; his human sensibilities were tender and acute; with finer moral, or higher religious emotions, no man was ever more familiar; and with these and other endowments, we take leave to think that he was entitled and qualified to expatiate, ex cathedra, nay, without offence, even now and then to prose and preach by the hour-glass, as if from the very pulpit, on epic poetry and poets, yea, even on Homer.
Mr Wordsworth has been pleased to say, that the soil of Scotland is peculiarly adapted by Nature for the growth of that weed, called the Critic. He instances David Hume and Adam Smith. David certainly was somewhat spoiled by an over addiction to French liqueurs; and he has indited some rare nonsense about Shakspeare. Adam, too, for poetry had a Parisian palate; and cared little for Percy's Reliques. It seems he once said that the author of the ballad of "Clym of the Cleugh," could not have been a gentleman. For this sentiment, he of the Excursion has called the author of the Theory of Moral Sentiments a weed. If he be, then, to use an expression which Wordsworth has borrowed from Spenser, 'tis "a weed of glorious feature." We agree with Adam Smith in believing that the ancient balladmonger was no gentleman. But we must not "cry mew" to him on that account; for ancient balladmongers are not expected to be gentlemen; and they may write admirably of deer-stalking, of deer-shooting, and deer-stealing, though in the rule of manners they have not anticipated Chesterfield. We found fault with Mr Wordsworth for having suffered his spite towards one of its productions, the Edinburgh Review, to vitiate his judgment of the whole soil of Scotland-and to commit himself before the whole world by declaring people to be worthless and ugly weeds, who are valuable and useful flowers. David and Adam are Perennials—or, say rather,"
Immortals. Both the one and the other is
"like a tree that grows Near planted by a river, Which in its season yield its fruit, And its leaf fadeth never."
So is William Wordsworth-and justifiably would he despise the person who, pitying perhaps poor Alice Fell, without seeing any thing particularly poetical or pathetic in her old or new duffle cloak, should, forgetful of all his glories, call the author of that feeble failure, a weed. True enough, he is there commonplace as a docken by the way-side; but elsewhere rare as amaranth, which only grows in heaven.
Essays of Professor Richardson, a forgotten work, of which a few copies have been saved by thieves from the moths. There, too, is Alison's delightful book on Taste, in which the Doctrine of Association is stated with the precision of the Philosopher, and illustrated with the prodigality of the Poet. Compare with it Payne Knight's Analytical Enquiry, and from feasting on the juicy heart of an orange, you are starving on its shrivelled skin. Of the Edinburgh Review, and Blackwood's Magazine,-mayhap the least said is soonest mended; but surely it may be permitted us to say this much for Francis Jeffrey, and Christopher North, that the one set agoing all the reviews, and the other all the magazines, which now periodically, that is perpetually, illumine the world; and if the Quarterly and its train have eclipsed, or should eclipse, the Blue and Yellow, and the Metropolitan and its train take the shine out of Her of the Olive, let it be remembered with grateful admiration what those planets once were; and never for one moment be forgotten the illustrious fact, that Scotland has still to herself been true; for that certain new-risen Scottish stars have outshone certain old ones; that-again to change the image-the Tweed has lent its light and music to the Thames, and made it, at once, a radiant and a sonorous river.
The truth seems to be, that the soil of Scotland is most happily adapted for the cultivation of philosophical criticism. There was old Kames, though flawed and cracked, a diamond almost of the first water. Hold up his Elements between your eye and the firmament, and you see the blue and the clouds. To speak sensibly, he was the very first person produced by this island of ours, entitled to the character of a philosophical enquirer into the principles of poetical composition. He is the father of such criticism in this country-the Scottish-not the IrishStagyrite. He is ours-let the English shew their Aristotle. That his blunders are as plentiful as blackberries, is most true; but that they are so is neither wonder nor pity;-for so are Burke's;-yet is his treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful, juvenile as it is, full of truth and wisdom. Change the image; and fling Kames's Elements of Criticism into the fanners of Wordsworth's wrath; and after the air has been darkened for a while with chaff, the barn-floor will be like a granary rich in heaps of the finest white wheat, which, baked into bolted bread, is tasteful and nutritive sustenance even for a Lake poet.
By much criticism, sincerely or affectedly philosophical, has the genius of Shakspeare been lately belaboured, by true men and by pretenders-from Coleridge and Lamb, to Hazlitt and Barry Cornwall. But, after all, with the exception of some glorious things said by the Ancient Mariner and Elia, little new has been added, of much worth, to the
As to German philosophical criticism, almost all that we know of it is in Lessing, Wieland, Goethe, and the Schlegels. We understand on good authority, that of Carlisle, Moir, and Weir, that there are at least seven wise men in that land of lumber, and we understand on still better, our own, that there are at least seventy sumphs, who, were the Thames or the Rhine set on fire by us, would speedily extinguish it. But of the above said heroes, the two first, like Hercules, conquer the bulls they take by the horns; of Wilhelm Meister on Shakspeare, our friends aforesaid have expressed their reverence; but that, we hope, need not hinder us from hinting our contempt; and as for the "bletherin' brithers," as the Shepherd most characteristically called the Schlegels, they are indeed boys for darkening the
daylight and extinguishing the moon and stars. So, let us return from these few modest remarks on the former schools of Philosophical Criticism to where we set out from, namely, the Chair of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, with Dr Hugh Blair sitting in it decorously, and lecturing on Epic Poetry, particularly on Homer, and more particularly on the Iliad. The Doctor doth thus dissert on the opening of the Iliad.
"The opening of the Iliad possesses none of that sort of dignity, which a modern looks for in an Epic Poem. It turns on no higher subject, than the quarrel of two chieftains about a female slave. The priest of Apollo beseeches Agamemnon to restore his daughter, who, in the plunder of a city, had fallen to Agamemnon's share of booty. He refuses. Apollo, at the prayer of his priest, sends a plague into the Grecian camp. The augur, when consulted, declares, that there is no way of appeasing Apollo, but by restoring the daughter of his priest. Agamemnon is enraged at the augur; professes that he likes this slave better than his wife Clytemnestra; but since he must restore her, in order to save the army, insists to have another in her place; and pitches upon Briseis the slave of Achilles. Achilles, as was to be expected, kindles into rage at this demand; reproaches him for his rapacity and insolence, and, after giving him many hard names, sofemnly swears, that, if he is to be thus treated by the general, he will withdraw his troops, and assist the Grecians no more against the Trojans. He withdraws accordingly. His mother, the goddess Thetis, interests Jupiter in his cause; who, to avenge the wrong which Achilles had suffered, takes part against the Greeks, and suffers them to fall into great and long distress; until Achilles is pacified, and reconciliation brought about between him and Agamemnon."
The Doctor has delivered his dictum] that the opening of the Iliad possesses none of that sort of dignity which a modern looks for in an Epic poem. It turns, quoth he, contemptuously, on no higher subject than the quarrel of two chieftains about a female slave. Now we wish the worthy Doctor had told us what
is the sort of dignity which a modern looks for in an Epic poem-and that he had furnished us with a few specimens. The Doctor is not orthodox here-he is a heretic—and were he to be brought to trial before the General Assembly of the Critical Kirk, his gown would, we fear, be taken from his shoulders, and himself left to become the head of a sect which assuredly, unlike some others, would not include any considerable quern of womenfolk. What higher subject of quarrel between two chieftains would Dr Blair have suggested, than a beautiful woman? That Briseis was so an exquisite creature-is proved by the simple fact of her having been the choice of Achilles. The City-Sacker, from a gorgeous band, culled that one Flower, who filled his tent with "the bloom of young desire, and purple light of love." The son of Thetis tells us that he loved her as his own wife. Nay, she was his wife-he had married her, just as if he had been in Scotland, by declaring that they two were one flesh, in presence of Patroclus, and then making a long honey-moon of it in the innermost heart of the tent. True, Briseis was a slave, but how could she help that circumstance, and was it not the merest trifle in that age? For hundreds of miles round, while Achilles Poliorcetes was before Troy, there was not a king's daughter who in a day might not be a slave. Ovid, we believe, or some other liar, says, that Briseis was a widow, and that Achilles slew her husband when he ravaged Lyrnessus. But she never was a widow in her life, till that fatal flight of the arrow of Paris. Till Achilles made her his own, she was a virgin princess.
But say that Briseis was, in matterof-fact, simply a "Female Slave." She was not a maid of all work. Her arms were not red, nor her hands horny; her ankles were not like bedposts; huggers she wore not, nor yet bauchles. Her sandals so suited her soles, and her soles her sandals, that her feet glided o'er the ground like sunbeams, as bright and as silent, and the greensward grew greener beneath the gentle pressure. Her legs were like lilies. So were her arms and hands-her shoulders, neck, and bosom; and had the Doctor