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Title: Miscellaneous Writings and Speeches — Volume 2
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron, 1800-1859
Language: English
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THE MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS AND SPEECHES OF LORD MACAULAY.

Contributions To The Edinburgh Review

By Thomas Babington Macaulay


VOLUME II.



CONTENTS.


CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EDINBURGH REVIEW.

John Dryden. (January 1828.)

History. (May 1828.)

Mill on Government. (March 1829.)

Westminster Reviewer's Defence of Mill. (June 1829.)

Utilitarian Theory of Government. (October 1829.)

Sadler's Law of Population. (July 1830.)

Sadler's Refutation Refuted. (January 1831.)

Mirabeau. (July 1832.)

Barere. (April 1844.)



MISCELLANEOUS WRITINGS OF LORD MACAULAY.



CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EDINBURGH REVIEW.



JOHN DRYDEN. (January 1828.)


     "The Poetical Works of John Dryden".  In 2 volumes.
     University Edition.  London, 1826.


The public voice has assigned to Dryden the first place in the
second rank of our poets,--no mean station in a table of intellectual
precedency so rich in illustrious names. It is allowed that, even of
the few who were his superiors in genius, none has exercised a more
extensive or permanent influence on the national habits of thought and
expression. His life was commensurate with the period during which
a great revolution in the public taste was effected; and in that
revolution he played the part of Cromwell. By unscrupulously taking the
lead in its wildest excesses, he obtained the absolute guidance of it.
By trampling on laws, he acquired the authority of a legislator. By
signalising himself as the most daring and irreverent of rebels, he
raised himself to the dignity of a recognised prince. He commenced his
career by the most frantic outrages. He terminated it in the repose of
established sovereignty,--the author of a new code, the root of a new
dynasty.

Of Dryden, however, as of almost every man who has been distinguished
either in the literary or in the political world, it may be said that
the course which he pursued, and the effect which he produced, depended
less on his personal qualities than on the circumstances in which he was
placed. Those who have read history with discrimination know the fallacy
of those panegyrics and invectives which represent individuals
as effecting great moral and intellectual revolutions, subverting
established systems, and imprinting a new character on their age. The
difference between one man and another is by no means so great as the
superstitious crowd supposes. But the same feelings which in ancient
Rome produced the apotheosis of a popular emperor, and in modern Rome
the canonisation of a devout prelate, lead men to cherish an illusion
which furnishes them with something to adore. By a law of association,
from the operation of which even minds the most strictly regulated
by reason are not wholly exempt, misery disposes us to hatred, and
happiness to love, although there may be no person to whom our misery
or our happiness can be ascribed. The peevishness of an invalid vents
itself even on those who alleviate his pain. The good humour of a man
elated by success often displays itself towards enemies. In the
same manner, the feelings of pleasure and admiration, to which the
contemplation of great events gives birth, make an object where they
do not find it. Thus, nations descend to the absurdities of Egyptian
idolatry, and worship stocks and reptiles--Sacheverells and Wilkeses.
They even fall prostrate before a deity to which they have themselves
given the form which commands their veneration, and which, unless
fashioned by them, would have remained a shapeless block. They persuade
themselves that they are the creatures of what they have themselves
created. For, in fact, it is the age that forms the man, not the man
that forms the age. Great minds do indeed re-act on the society which
has made them what they are; but they only pay with interest what they
have received. We extol Bacon, and sneer at Aquinas. But, if their
situations had been changed, Bacon might have been the Angelical Doctor,
the most subtle Aristotelian of the schools; the Dominican might have
led forth the sciences from their house of bondage. If Luther had been
born in the tenth century, he would have effected no reformation. If
he had never been born at all, it is evident that the sixteenth century
could not have elapsed without a great schism in the church. Voltaire,
in the days of Louis the Fourteenth, would probably have been, like most
of the literary men of that time, a zealous Jansenist, eminent among the
defenders of efficacious grace, a bitter assailant of the lax morality
of the Jesuits and the unreasonable decisions of the Sorbonne. If Pascal
had entered on his literary career when intelligence was more general,
and abuses at the same time more flagrant, when the church was polluted
by the Iscariot Dubois, the court disgraced by the orgies of Canillac,
and the nation sacrificed to the juggles of Law, if he had lived to see
a dynasty of harlots, an empty treasury and a crowded harem, an army
formidable only to those whom it should have protected, a priesthood
just religious enough to be intolerant, he might possibly, like every
man of genius in France, have imbibed extravagant prejudices against
monarchy and Christianity. The wit which blasted the sophisms of
Escobar--the impassioned eloquence which defended the sisters of Port
Royal--the intellectual hardihood which was not beaten down even by
Papal authority--might have raised him to the Patriarchate of the
Philosophical Church. It was long disputed whether the honour of
inventing the method of Fluxions belonged to Newton or to Leibnitz. It
is now generally allowed that these great men made the same discovery
at the same time. Mathematical science, indeed, had then reached such
a point that, if neither of them had ever existed, the principle must
inevitably have occurred to some person within a few years. So in our
own time the doctrine of rent, now universally received by political
economists, was propounded, almost at the same moment, by two writers
unconnected with each other. Preceding speculators had long been
blundering round about it; and it could not possibly have been missed
much longer by the most heedless inquirer. We are inclined to think
that, with respect to every great addition which has been made to
the stock of human knowledge, the case has been similar; that without
Copernicus we should have been Copernicans,--that without Columbus
America would have been discovered,--that without Locke we should have
possessed a just theory of the origin of human ideas. Society indeed has
its great men and its little men, as the earth has its mountains and its
valleys. But the inequalities of intellect, like the inequalities of the
surface of our globe, bear so small a proportion to the mass, that, in
calculating its great revolutions, they may safely be neglected. The sun
illuminates the hills, while it is still below the horizon, and truth is
discovered by the highest minds a little before it becomes manifest to
the multitude. This is the extent of their superiority. They are the
first to catch and reflect a light, which, without their assistance,
must, in a short time, be visible to those who lie far beneath them.

The same remark will apply equally to the fine arts. The laws on which
depend the progress and decline of poetry, painting, and sculpture,
operate with little less certainty than those which regulate the
periodical returns of heat and cold, of fertility and barrenness. Those
who seem to lead the public taste are, in general, merely outrunning
it in the direction which it is spontaneously pursuing. Without a just
apprehension of the laws to which we have alluded the merits and defects
of Dryden can be but imperfectly understood. We will, therefore, state
what we conceive them to be.

The ages in which the master-pieces of imagination have been produced
have by no means been those in which taste has been most correct. It
seems that the creative faculty, and the critical faculty, cannot exist
together in their highest perfection. The causes of this phenomenon it
is not difficult to assign.

It is true that the man who is best able to take a machine to pieces,
and who most clearly comprehends the manner in which all its wheels and
springs conduce to its general effect, will be the man most competent to
form another machine of similar power. In all the branches of physical
and moral science which admit of perfect analysis, he who can resolve
will be able to combine. But the analysis which criticism can effect
of poetry is necessarily imperfect. One element must for ever elude its
researches; and that is the very element by which poetry is poetry. In
the description of nature, for example, a judicious reader will easily
detect an incongruous image. But he will find it impossible to explain
in what consists the art of a writer who, in a few words, brings some
spot before him so vividly that he shall know it as if he had lived
there from childhood; while another, employing the same materials,
the same verdure, the same water, and the same flowers, committing
no inaccuracy, introducing nothing which can be positively pronounced
superfluous, omitting nothing which can be positively pronounced
necessary, shall produce no more effect than an advertisement of a
capital residence and a desirable pleasure-ground. To take another
example: the great features of the character of Hotspur are obvious to
the most superficial reader. We at once perceive that his courage is
splendid, his thirst of glory intense, his animal spirits high, his
temper careless, arbitrary, and petulant; that he indulges his own
humour without caring whose feelings he may wound, or whose enmity he
may provoke, by his levity. Thus far criticism will go. But something
is still wanting. A man might have all those qualities, and every other
quality which the most minute examiner can introduce into his catalogue
of the virtues and faults of Hotspur, and yet he would not be
Hotspur. Almost everything that we have said of him applies equally
to Falconbridge. Yet in the mouth of Falconbridge most of his speeches
would seem out of place. In real life this perpetually occurs. We are
sensible of wide differences between men whom, if we were required to
describe them, we should describe in almost the same terms. If we were
attempting to draw elaborate characters of them, we should scarcely
be able to point out any strong distinction; yet we approach them with
feelings altogether dissimilar. We cannot conceive of them as using
the expressions or the gestures of each other. Let us suppose that a
zoologist should attempt to give an account of some animal, a porcupine
for instance, to people who had never seen it. The porcupine, he might
say, is of the class mammalia, and the order glires. There are whiskers
on its face; it is two feet long; it has four toes before, five behind,
two fore teeth, and eight grinders. Its body is covered with hair and
quills. And, when all this has been said, would any one of the auditors
have formed a just idea of a porcupine? Would any two of them have
formed the same idea? There might exist innumerable races of animals,
possessing all the characteristics which have been mentioned yet
altogether unlike to each other. What the description of our naturalist
is to a real porcupine, the remarks of criticism are to the images
of poetry. What it so imperfectly decomposes it cannot perfectly
reconstruct. It is evidently as impossible to produce an Othello or a
Macbeth by reversing an analytical process so defective, as it would
be for an anatomist to form a living man out of the fragments of his
dissecting-room. In both cases the vital principle eludes the finest
instruments, and vanishes in the very instant in which its seat is
touched. Hence those who, trusting to their critical skill, attempt to
write poems give us, not images of things, but catalogues of qualities.
Their characters are allegories--not good men and bad men, but cardinal
virtues and deadly sins. We seem to have fallen among the acquaintances
of our old friend Christian: sometimes we meet Mistrust and Timorous;
sometimes Mr Hate-good and Mr Love-lust; and then again Prudence, Piety
and Charity.

That critical discernment is not sufficient to make men poets, is
generally allowed. Why it should keep them from becoming poets, is not
perhaps equally evident; but the fact is, that poetry requires not an
examining but a believing frame of mind. Those feel it most, and write
it best, who forget that it is a work of art; to whom its imitations,
like the realities from which they are taken, are subjects, not for
connoisseurship, but for tears and laughter, resentment and affection;
who are too much under the influence of the illusion to admire the
genius which has produced it; who are too much frightened for Ulysses
in the cave of Polyphemus to care whether the pun about Outis be good
or bad; who forget that such a person as Shakspeare ever existed, while
they weep and curse with Lear. It is by giving faith to the creations
of the imagination that a man becomes a poet. It is by treating those
creations as deceptions, and by resolving them, as nearly as possible,
into their elements, that he becomes a critic. In the moment in which
the skill of the artist is perceived, the spell of the art is broken.

These considerations account for the absurdities into which the greatest
writers have fallen, when they have attempted to give general rules for
composition, or to pronounce judgment on the works of others. They are
unaccustomed to analyse what they feel; they, therefore, perpetually
refer their emotions to causes which have not in the slightest degree
tended to produce them. They feel pleasure in reading a book. They
never consider that this pleasure may be the effect of ideas which
some unmeaning expression, striking on the first link of a chain of
associations, may have called up in their own minds--that they have
themselves furnished to the author the beauties which they admire.

Cervantes is the delight of all classes of readers. Every school-boy
thumbs to pieces the most wretched translations of his romance, and
knows the lantern jaws of the Knight Errant, and the broad cheeks of
the Squire, as well as the faces of his own playfellows. The most
experienced and fastidious judges are amazed at the perfection of that
art which extracts inextinguishable laughter from the greatest of human
calamities without once violating the reverence due to it; at that
discriminating delicacy of touch which makes a character exquisitely
ridiculous, without impairing its worth, its grace, or its dignity. In
Don Quixote are several dissertations on the principles of poetic and
dramatic writing. No passages in the whole work exhibit stronger marks
of labour and attention; and no passages in any work with which we
are acquainted are more worthless and puerile. In our time they would
scarcely obtain admittance into the literary department of the Morning
Post. Every reader of the Divine Comedy must be struck by the veneration
which Dante expresses for writers far inferior to himself. He will not
lift up his eyes from the ground in the presence of Brunetto, all whose
works are not worth the worst of his own hundred cantos. He does
not venture to walk in the same line with the bombastic Statius. His
admiration of Virgil is absolute idolatry. If, indeed, it had been
excited by the elegant, splendid, and harmonious diction of the Roman
poet, it would not have been altogether unreasonable; but it is
rather as an authority on all points of philosophy, than as a work of
imagination, that he values the Aeneid. The most trivial passages he
regards as oracles of the highest authority, and of the most recondite
meaning. He describes his conductor as the sea of all wisdom--the sun
which heals every disordered sight. As he judged of Virgil, the Italians
of the fourteenth century judged of him; they were proud of him; they
praised him; they struck medals bearing his head; they quarrelled for
the honour of possessing his remains; they maintained professors
to expound his writings. But what they admired was not that mighty
imagination which called a new world into existence, and made all its
sights and sounds familiar to the eye and ear of the mind. They said
little of those awful and lovely creations on which later critics
delight to dwell--Farinata lifting his haughty and tranquil brow from
his couch of everlasting fire--the lion-like repose of Sordello--or the
light which shone from the celestial smile of Beatrice. They extolled
their great poet for his smattering of ancient literature and history;
for his logic and his divinity; for his absurd physics, and his most
absurd metaphysics; for everything but that in which he pre-eminently
excelled. Like the fool in the story, who ruined his dwelling by digging
for gold, which, as he had dreamed, was concealed under its foundations,
they laid waste one of the noblest works of human genius, by seeking in
it for buried treasures of wisdom which existed only in their own wild
reveries. The finest passages were little valued till they had been
debased into some monstrous allegory. Louder applause was given to
the lecture on fate and free-will, or to the ridiculous astronomical
theories, than to those tremendous lines which disclose the secrets
of the tower of hunger, or to that half-told tale of guilty love, so
passionate and so full of tears.

We do not mean to say that the contemporaries of Dante read with less
emotion than their descendants of Ugolino groping among the wasted
corpses of his children, or of Francesca starting at the tremulous kiss
and dropping the fatal volume. Far from it. We believe that they admired
these things less than ourselves, but that they felt them more. We
should perhaps say that they felt them too much to admire them. The
progress of a nation from barbarism to civilisation produces a change
similar to that which takes place during the progress of an individual
from infancy to mature age. What man does not remember with regret the
first time that he read Robinson Crusoe? Then, indeed, he was unable
to appreciate the powers of the writer; or, rather, he neither knew nor
cared whether the book had a writer at all. He probably thought it not
half so fine as some rant of Macpherson about dark-browed Foldath,
and white-bosomed Strinadona. He now values Fingal and Temora only as
showing with how little evidence a story may be believed, and with
how little merit a book may be popular. Of the romance of Defoe he
entertains the highest opinion. He perceives the hand of a master in ten
thousand touches which formerly he passed by without notice. But, though
he understands the merits of the narrative better than formerly, he is
far less interested by it. Xury, and Friday, and pretty Poll, the boat
with the shoulder-of-mutton sail, and the canoe which could not be
brought down to the water edge, the tent with its hedge and ladders, the
preserve of kids, and the den where the old goat died, can never again
be to him the realities which they were. The days when his favourite
volume set him upon making wheel-barrows and chairs, upon digging caves
and fencing huts in the garden, can never return. Such is the law of our
nature. Our judgment ripens; our imagination decays. We cannot at once
enjoy the flowers of the spring of life and the fruits of its autumn,
the pleasures of close investigation and those of agreeable error. We
cannot sit at once in the front of the stage and behind the scenes. We
cannot be under the illusion of the spectacle, while we are watching the
movements of the ropes and pulleys which dispose it.

The chapter in which Fielding describes the behaviour of Partridge at
the theatre affords so complete an illustration of our proposition, that
we cannot refrain from quoting some parts of it.

"Partridge gave that credit to Mr Garrick which he had denied to Jones,
and fell into so violent a trembling that his knees knocked against each
other. Jones asked him what was the matter, and whether he was afraid of
the warrior upon the stage?--'O, la, sir,' said he, 'I perceive now it
is what you told me. I am not afraid of anything, for I know it is but
a play; and if it was really a ghost, it could do one no harm at such a
distance and in so much company; and yet, if I was frightened, I am not
the only person.'--'Why, who,' cries Jones, 'dost thou take to be such
a coward here besides thyself?'--'Nay, you may call me a coward if you
will; but if that little man there upon the stage is not frightened, I
never saw any man frightened in my life'...He sat with his eyes fixed
partly on the ghost and partly on Hamlet, and with his mouth open; the
same passions which succeeded each other in Hamlet, succeeding likewise
in him...

"Little more worth remembering occurred during the play, at the end of
which Jones asked him which of the players he liked best? To this he
answered, with some appearance of indignation at the question, 'The
King, without doubt.'--'Indeed, Mr Partridge,' says Mrs Miller, 'you
are not of the same opinion with the town; for they are all agreed that
Hamlet is acted by the best player who was ever on the stage.'--'He the
best player!' cries Partridge, with a contemptuous sneer; 'why I could
act as well as he myself. I am sure if I had seen a ghost, I should have
looked in the very same manner, and done just as he did. And then to be
sure, in that scene, as you called it, between him and his mother, where
you told me he acted so fine, why any man, that is, any good man, that
had such a mother, would have done exactly the same. I know you are
only joking with me; but indeed, madam, though I never was at a play in
London, yet I have seen acting before in the country, and the King for
my money; he speaks all his words distinctly, and half as loud again as
the other. Anybody may see he is an actor.'"

In this excellent passage Partridge is represented as a very bad
theatrical critic. But none of those who laugh at him possess the tithe
of his sensibility to theatrical excellence. He admires in the wrong
place; but he trembles in the right place. It is indeed because he is
so much excited by the acting of Garrick, that he ranks him below the
strutting, mouthing performer, who personates the King. So, we have
heard it said that, in some parts of Spain and Portugal, an actor who
should represent a depraved character finely, instead of calling down
the applauses of the audience, is hissed and pelted without mercy.
It would be the same in England, if we, for one moment, thought that
Shylock or Iago was standing before us. While the dramatic art was in
its infancy at Athens, it produced similar effects on the ardent and
imaginative spectators. It is said that they blamed Aeschylus for
frightening them into fits with his Furies. Herodotus tells us that,
when Phyrnichus produced his tragedy on the fall of Miletus, they fined
him in a penalty of a thousand drachmas for torturing their feelings by
so pathetic an exhibition. They did not regard him as a great artist,
but merely as a man who had given them pain. When they woke from the
distressing illusion, they treated the author of it as they would have
treated a messenger who should have brought them fatal and alarming
tidings which turned out to be false. In the same manner, a child
screams with terror at the sight of a person in an ugly mask. He has
perhaps seen the mask put on. But his imagination is too strong for his
reason; and he entreats that it may be taken off.

We should act in the same manner if the grief and horror produced in us
by works of the imagination amounted to real torture. But in us these
emotions are comparatively languid. They rarely affect our appetite or
our sleep. They leave us sufficiently at ease to trace them to their
causes, and to estimate the powers which produce them. Our attention is
speedily diverted from the images which call forth our tears to the art
by which those images have been selected and combined. We applaud the
genius of the writer. We applaud our own sagacity and sensibility; and
we are comforted.

Yet, though we think that in the progress of nations towards refinement
the reasoning powers are improved at the expense of the imagination, we
acknowledge that to this rule there are many apparent exceptions. We
are not, however, quite satisfied that they are more than apparent. Men
reasoned better, for example, in the time of Elizabeth than in the time
of Egbert; and they also wrote better poetry. But we must distinguish
between poetry as a mental act, and poetry as a species of composition.
If we take it in the latter sense, its excellence depends not solely on
the vigour of the imagination, but partly also on the instruments which
the imagination employs. Within certain limits, therefore, poetry may be
improving while the poetical faculty is decaying. The vividness of the
picture presented to the reader is not necessarily proportioned to the
vividness of the prototype which exists in the mind of the writer. In
the other arts we see this clearly. Should a man, gifted by nature with
all the genius of Canova, attempt to carve a statue without instruction
as to the management of his chisel, or attention to the anatomy of
the human body, he would produce something compared with which the
Highlander at the door of a snuff shop would deserve admiration. If an
uninitiated Raphael were to attempt a painting, it would be a mere daub;
indeed, the connoisseurs say that the early works of Raphael are little
better. Yet, who can attribute this to want of imagination? Who can
doubt that the youth of that great artist was passed amidst an ideal
world of beautiful and majestic forms? Or, who will attribute the
difference which appears between his first rude essays and his
magnificent Transfiguration to a change in the constitution of his
mind? In poetry, as in painting and sculpture, it is necessary that
the imitator should be well acquainted with that which he undertakes to
imitate, and expert in the mechanical part of his art. Genius will not
furnish him with a vocabulary: it will not teach him what word most
exactly corresponds to his idea, and will most fully convey it to
others: it will not make him a great descriptive poet, till he has
looked with attention on the face of nature; or a great dramatist,
till he has felt and witnessed much of the influence of the passions.
Information and experience are, therefore, necessary; not for the
purpose of strengthening the imagination, which is never so strong as in
people incapable of reasoning--savages, children, madmen, and
dreamers; but for the purpose of enabling the artist to communicate his
conceptions to others.

In a barbarous age the imagination exercises a despotic power. So strong
is the perception of what is unreal that it often overpowers all the
passions of the mind and all the sensations of the body. At first,
indeed, the phantasm remains undivulged, a hidden treasure, a wordless
poetry, an invisible painting, a silent music, a dream of which the
pains and pleasures exist to the dreamer alone, a bitterness which the
heart only knoweth, a joy with which a stranger intermeddleth not. The
machinery, by which ideas are to be conveyed from one person to another,
is as yet rude and defective. Between mind and mind there is a great
gulf. The imitative arts do not exist, or are in their lowest state.
But the actions of men amply prove that the faculty which gives birth
to those arts is morbidly active. It is not yet the inspiration of poets
and sculptors; but it is the amusement of the day, the terror of the
night, the fertile source of wild superstitions. It turns the clouds
into gigantic shapes, and the winds into doleful voices. The belief
which springs from it is more absolute and undoubting than any which can
be derived from evidence. It resembles the faith which we repose in our
own sensations. Thus, the Arab, when covered with wounds, saw nothing
but the dark eyes and the green kerchief of a beckoning Houri. The
Northern warrior laughed in the pangs of death when he thought of the
mead of Valhalla.

The first works of the imagination are, as we have said, poor and rude,
not from the want of genius, but from the want of materials. Phidias
could have done nothing with an old tree and a fish-bone, or Homer with
the language of New Holland.

Yet the effect of these early performances, imperfect as they must
necessarily be, is immense. All deficiencies are supplied by the
susceptibility of those to whom they are addressed. We all know what
pleasure a wooden doll, which may be bought for sixpence, will afford
to a little girl. She will require no other company. She will nurse it,
dress it, and talk to it all day. No grown-up man takes half so much
delight in one of the incomparable babies of Chantrey. In the same
manner, savages are more affected by the rude compositions of their
bards than nations more advanced in civilisation by the greatest
master-pieces of poetry.

In process of time, the instruments by which the imagination works are
brought to perfection. Men have not more imagination than their rude
ancestors. We strongly suspect that they have much less. But they
produce better works of imagination. Thus, up to a certain period, the
diminution of the poetical powers is far more than compensated by the
improvement of all the appliances and means of which those powers
stand in need. Then comes the short period of splendid and consummate
excellence. And then, from causes against which it is vain to struggle,
poetry begins to decline. The progress of language, which was at first
favourable, becomes fatal to it, and, instead of compensating for the
decay of the imagination, accelerates that decay, and renders it more
obvious. When the adventurer in the Arabian tale anointed one of his
eyes with the contents of the magical box, all the riches of the earth,
however widely dispersed, however sacredly concealed, became visible to
him. But, when he tried the experiment on both eyes, he was struck
with blindness. What the enchanted elixir was to the sight of the body,
language is to the sight of the imagination. At first it calls up
a world of glorious allusions; but, when it becomes too copious, it
altogether destroys the visual power.

As the development of the mind proceeds, symbols, instead of being
employed to convey images, are substituted for them. Civilised men think
as they trade, not in kind, but by means of a circulating medium. In
these circumstances, the sciences improve rapidly, and criticism among
the rest; but poetry, in the highest sense of the word, disappears. Then
comes the dotage of the fine arts, a second childhood, as feeble as the
former, and far more hopeless. This is the age of critical poetry, of
poetry by courtesy, of poetry to which the memory, the judgment, and the
wit contribute far more than the imagination. We readily allow that many
works of this description are excellent: we will not contend with those
who think them more valuable than the great poems of an earlier period.
We only maintain that they belong to a different species of composition,
and are produced by a different faculty.

It is some consolation to reflect that this critical school of poetry
improves as the science of criticism improves; and that the science
of criticism, like every other science, is constantly tending towards
perfection. As experiments are multiplied, principles are better
understood.

In some countries, in our own for example, there has been an interval
between the downfall of the creative school and the rise of the
critical, a period during which imagination has been in its decrepitude,
and taste in its infancy. Such a revolutionary interregnum as this will
be deformed by every species of extravagance.

The first victory of good taste is over the bombast and conceits which
deform such times as these. But criticism is still in a very imperfect
state. What is accidental is for a long time confounded with what is
essential. General theories are drawn from detached facts. How many
hours the action of a play may be allowed to occupy,--how many similes
an Epic Poet may introduce into his first book,--whether a piece, which
is acknowledged to have a beginning and an end, may not be without a
middle, and other questions as puerile as these, formerly occupied the
attention of men of letters in France, and even in this country.
Poets, in such circumstances as these, exhibit all the narrowness and
feebleness of the criticism by which their manner has been fashioned.
From outrageous absurdity they are preserved indeed by their timidity.
But they perpetually sacrifice nature and reason to arbitrary canons of
taste. In their eagerness to avoid the mala prohibita of a foolish
code, they are perpetually rushing on the mala in se. Their great
predecessors, it is true, were as bad critics as themselves, or perhaps
worse, but those predecessors, as we have attempted to show, were
inspired by a faculty independent of criticism, and, therefore, wrote
well while they judged ill.

In time men begin to take more rational and comprehensive views of
literature. The analysis of poetry, which, as we have remarked, must at
best be imperfect, approaches nearer and nearer to exactness. The merits
of the wonderful models of former times are justly appreciated. The
frigid productions of a later age are rated at no more than their proper
value. Pleasing and ingenious imitations of the manner of the great
masters appear. Poetry has a partial revival, a Saint Martin's Summer,
which, after a period of dreariness and decay, agreeably reminds us
of the splendour of its June. A second harvest is gathered in; though,
growing on a spent soil, it has not the heart of the former. Thus, in
the present age, Monti has successfully imitated the style of Dante;
and something of the Elizabethan inspiration has been caught by several
eminent countrymen of our own. But never will Italy produce another
Inferno, or England another Hamlet. We look on the beauties of the
modern imaginations with feelings similar to those with which we see
flowers disposed in vases, to ornament the drawing-rooms of a capital.
We doubtless regard them with pleasure, with greater pleasure, perhaps,
because, in the midst of a place ungenial to them, they remind us of the
distant spots on which they flourish in spontaneous exuberance. But we
miss the sap, the freshness, and the bloom. Or, if we may borrow another
illustration from Queen Scheherezade, we would compare the writers
of this school to the jewellers who were employed to complete the
unfinished window of the palace of Aladdin. Whatever skill or cost could
do was done. Palace and bazaar were ransacked for precious stones. Yet
the artists, with all their dexterity, with all their assiduity, and
with all their vast means, were unable to produce anything comparable
to the wonders which a spirit of a higher order had wrought in a single
night.

The history of every literature with which we are acquainted confirms,
we think, the principles which we have laid down. In Greece we see
the imaginative school of poetry gradually fading into the critical.
Aeschylus and Pindar were succeeded by Sophocles, Sophocles by
Euripides, Euripides by the Alexandrian versifiers. Of these last,
Theocritus alone has left compositions which deserve to be read. The
splendour and grotesque fairyland of the Old Comedy, rich with such
gorgeous hues, peopled with such fantastic shapes, and vocal alternately
with the sweetest peals of music and the loudest bursts of elvish
laughter, disappeared forever. The master-pieces of the New Comedy are
known to us by Latin translations of extraordinary merit. From these
translations, and from the expressions of the ancient critics, it is
clear that the original compositions were distinguished by grace and
sweetness, that they sparkled with wit, and abounded with pleasing
sentiment; but that the creative power was gone. Julius Caesar called
Terence a half Menander,--a sure proof that Menander was not a quarter
Aristophanes.

The literature of the Romans was merely a continuation of the literature
of the Greeks. The pupils started from the point at which their masters
had, in the course of many generations arrived. They thus almost wholly
missed the period of original invention. The only Latin poets whose
writings exhibit much vigour of imagination are Lucretius and Catullus.
The Augustan age produced nothing equal to their finer passages.

In France that licensed jester, whose jingling cap and motley coat
concealed more genius than ever mustered in the saloon of Ninon or of
Madame Geoffrin, was succeeded by writers as decorous and as tiresome as
gentlemen ushers.

The poetry of Italy and of Spain has undergone the same change. But
nowhere has the revolution been more complete and violent than in
England. The same person who, when a boy, had clapped his thrilling
hands at the first representation of the Tempest might, without
attaining to a marvellous longevity, have lived to read the earlier
works of Prior and Addison. The change, we believe, must, sooner or
later, have taken place. But its progress was accelerated, and its
character modified, by the political occurrences of the times, and
particularly by two events, the closing of the theatres under the
Commonwealth, and the restoration of the House of Stuart.

We have said that the critical and poetical faculties are not only
distinct, but almost incompatible. The state of our literature during
the reigns of Elizabeth and James the First is a strong confirmation of
this remark. The greatest works of imagination that the world has ever
seen were produced at that period. The national taste, in the meantime,
was to the last degree detestable. Alliterations, puns, antithetical
forms of expression lavishly employed where no corresponding opposition
existed between the thoughts expressed, strained allegories, pedantic
allusions, everything, in short, quaint and affected, in matter and
manner, made up what was then considered as fine writing. The eloquence
of the bar, the pulpit, and the council-board, was deformed by conceits
which would have disgraced the rhyming shepherds of an Italian academy.
The king quibbled on the throne. We might, indeed, console ourselves by
reflecting that his majesty was a fool. But the chancellor quibbled in
concert from the wool-sack: and the chancellor was Francis Bacon. It
is needless to mention Sidney and the whole tribe of Euphuists; for
Shakspeare himself, the greatest poet that ever lived, falls into the
same fault whenever he means to be particularly fine. While he abandons
himself to the impulse of his imagination, his compositions are not only
the sweetest and the most sublime, but also the most faultless, that the
world has ever seen. But, as soon as his critical powers come into play,
he sinks to the level of Cowley; or rather he does ill what Cowley did
well. All that is bad in his works is bad elaborately, and of malice
aforethought. The only thing wanting to make them perfect was, that he
should never have troubled himself with thinking whether they were
good or not. Like the angels in Milton, he sinks "with compulsion and
laborious flight." His natural tendency is upwards. That he may soar, it
is only necessary that he should not struggle to fall. He resembles an
American Cacique, who, possessing in unmeasured abundance the metals
which in polished societies are esteemed the most precious, was utterly
unconscious of their value, and gave up treasures more valuable than the
imperial crowns of other countries, to secure some gaudy and far-fetched
but worthless bauble, a plated button, or a necklace of coloured glass.

We have attempted to show that, as knowledge is extended and as the
reason develops itself, the imitative arts decay. We should, therefore,
expect that the corruption of poetry would commence in the educated
classes of society. And this, in fact, is almost constantly the case.
The few great works of imagination which appear in a critical age are,
almost without exception, the works of uneducated men. Thus, at a
time when persons of quality translated French romances, and when the
universities celebrated royal deaths in verses about tritons and fauns,
a preaching tinker produced the Pilgrim's Progress. And thus a ploughman
startled a generation which had thought Hayley and Beattie great poets,
with the adventures of Tam O'Shanter. Even in the latter part of the
reign of Elizabeth the fashionable poetry had degenerated. It retained
few vestiges of the imagination of earlier times. It had not yet been
subjected to the rules of good taste. Affectation had completely tainted
madrigals and sonnets. The grotesque conceits and the tuneless numbers
of Donne were, in the time of James, the favourite models of composition
at Whitehall and at the Temple. But, though the literature of the Court
was in its decay, the literature of the people was in its perfection.
The Muses had taken sanctuary in the theatres, the haunts of a class
whose taste was not better than that of the Right Honourables and
singular good Lords who admired metaphysical love-verses, but whose
imagination retained all its freshness and vigour; whose censure and
approbation might be erroneously bestowed, but whose tears and laughter
was never in the wrong. The infection which had tainted lyric and
didactic poetry had but slightly and partially touched the drama. While
the noble and the learned were comparing eyes to burning-glasses, and
tears to terrestrial globes, coyness to an enthymeme, absence to a pair
of compasses, and an unrequited passion to the fortieth remainder-man in
an entail, Juliet leaning from the balcony, and Miranda smiling over the
chess-board, sent home many spectators, as kind and simple-hearted
as the master and mistress of Fletcher's Ralpho, to cry themselves to
sleep.

No species of fiction is so delightful to us as the old English drama.
Even its inferior productions possess a charm not to be found in any
other kind of poetry. It is the most lucid mirror that ever was held up
to nature. The creations of the great dramatists of Athens produce the
effect of magnificent sculptures, conceived by a mighty imagination,
polished with the utmost delicacy, embodying ideas of ineffable majesty
and beauty, but cold, pale, and rigid, with no bloom on the cheek, and
no speculation in the eye. In all the draperies, the figures, and the
faces, in the lovers and the tyrants, the Bacchanals and the Furies,
there is the same marble chillness and deadness. Most of the characters
of the French stage resemble the waxen gentlemen and ladies in the
window of a perfumer, rouged, curled, and bedizened, but fixed in
such stiff attitudes, and staring with eyes expressive of such utter
unmeaningness, that they cannot produce an illusion for a single moment.
In the English plays alone is to be found the warmth, the mellowness,
and the reality of painting. We know the minds of men and women, as we
know the faces of the men and women of Vandyke.

The excellence of these works is in a great measure the result of
two peculiarities, which the critics of the French school consider as
defects,--from the mixture of tragedy and comedy, and from the length
and extent of the action. The former is necessary to render the drama
a just representation of a world in which the laughers and weepers are
perpetually jostling each other,--in which every event has its
serious and ludicrous side. The latter enables us to form an intimate
acquaintance with characters with which we could not possibly become
familiar during the few hours to which the unities restrict the poet.
In this respect, the works of Shakspeare, in particular, are miracles
of art. In a piece, which may be read aloud in three hours, we see a
character gradually unfold all its recesses to us. We see it change with
the change of circumstances. The petulant youth rises into the politic
and warlike sovereign. The profuse and courteous philanthropist sours
into a hater and scorner of his kind. The tyrant is altered, by the
chastening of affliction, into a pensive moralist. The veteran general,
distinguished by coolness, sagacity, and self-command, sinks under a
conflict between love strong as death, and jealousy cruel as the grave.
The brave and loyal subject passes, step by step, to the extremities
of human depravity. We trace his progress, from the first dawnings of
unlawful ambition to the cynical melancholy of his impenitent remorse.
Yet, in these pieces, there are no unnatural transitions. Nothing is
omitted: nothing is crowded. Great as are the changes, narrow as is the
compass within which they are exhibited, they shock us as little as the
gradual alterations of those familiar faces which we see every evening
and every morning. The magical skill of the poet resembles that of the
Dervise in the Spectator, who condensed all the events of seven years
into the single moment during which the king held his head under the
water.

It is deserving of remark, that, at the time of which we speak, the
plays even of men not eminently distinguished by genius,--such, for
example, as Jonson,--were far superior to the best works of imagination
in other departments. Therefore, though we conceive that, from causes
which we have already investigated, our poetry must necessarily have
declined, we think that, unless its fate had been accelerated by
external attacks, it might have enjoyed an euthanasia, that genius might
have been kept alive by the drama till its place could, in some degree,
be supplied by taste,--that there would have been scarcely any interval
between the age of sublime invention and that of agreeable imitation.
The works of Shakspeare, which were not appreciated with any degree of
justice before the middle of the eighteenth century, might then have
been the recognised standards of excellence during the latter part of
the seventeenth; and he and the great Elizabethan writers might have
been almost immediately succeeded by a generation of poets similar to
those who adorn our own times.

But the Puritans drove imagination from its last asylum. They prohibited
theatrical representations, and stigmatised the whole race of dramatists
as enemies of morality and religion. Much that is objectionable may be
found in the writers whom they reprobated; but whether they took the
best measures for stopping the evil appears to us very doubtful, and
must, we think, have appeared doubtful to themselves, when, after the
lapse of a few years, they saw the unclean spirit whom they had cast out
return to his old haunts, with seven others fouler than himself.

By the extinction of the drama, the fashionable school of poetry,--a
school without truth of sentiment or harmony of versification,--without
the powers of an earlier, or the correctness of a later age,--was left
to enjoy undisputed ascendency. A vicious ingenuity, a morbid quickness
to perceive resemblances and analogies between things apparently
heterogeneous, constituted almost its only claim to admiration. Suckling
was dead. Milton was absorbed in political and theological controversy.
If Waller differed from the Cowleian sect of writers, he differed for
the worse. He had as little poetry as they, and much less wit; nor is
the languor of his verses less offensive than the ruggedness of theirs.
In Denham alone the faint dawn of a better manner was discernible.

But, low as was the state of our poetry during the civil war and the
Protectorate, a still deeper fall was at hand. Hitherto our literature
had been idiomatic. In mind as in situation we had been islanders. The
revolutions in our taste, like the revolutions in our government, had
been settled without the interference of strangers. Had this state of
things continued, the same just principles of reasoning which, about
this time, were applied with unprecedented success to every part of
philosophy would soon have conducted our ancestors to a sounder code of
criticism. There were already strong signs of improvement. Our prose
had at length worked itself clear from those quaint conceits which still
deformed almost every metrical composition. The parliamentary debates,
and the diplomatic correspondence of that eventful period, had
contributed much to this reform. In such bustling times, it was
absolutely necessary to speak and write to the purpose. The absurdities
of Puritanism had, perhaps, done more. At the time when that odious
style, which deforms the writings of Hall and of Lord Bacon, was almost
universal, had appeared that stupendous work, the English Bible,--a book
which, if everything else in our language should perish, would alone
suffice to show the whole extent of its beauty and power. The respect
which the translators felt for the original prevented them from adding
any of the hideous decorations then in fashion. The groundwork of the
version, indeed, was of an earlier age. The familiarity with which the
Puritans, on almost every occasion, used the Scriptural phrases was no
doubt very ridiculous; but it produced good effects. It was a cant; but
it drove out a cant far more offensive.

The highest kind of poetry is, in a great measure, independent of those
circumstances which regulate the style of composition in prose. But with
that inferior species of poetry which succeeds to it the case is widely
different. In a few years, the good sense and good taste which had
weeded out affectation from moral and political treatises would, in the
natural course of things, have effected a similar reform in the sonnet
and the ode. The rigour of the victorious sectaries had relaxed.
A dominant religion is never ascetic. The Government connived at
theatrical representations. The influence of Shakspeare was once more
felt. But darker days were approaching. A foreign yoke was to be imposed
on our literature. Charles, surrounded by the companions of his long
exile, returned to govern a nation which ought never to have cast him
out or never to have received him back. Every year which he had passed
among strangers had rendered him more unfit to rule his countrymen.
In France he had seen the refractory magistracy humbled, and royal
prerogative, though exercised by a foreign priest in the name of
a child, victorious over all opposition. This spectacle naturally
gratified a prince to whose family the opposition of Parliaments had
been so fatal. Politeness was his solitary good quality. The insults
which he had suffered in Scotland had taught him to prize it. The
effeminacy and apathy of his disposition fitted him to excel in it. The
elegance and vivacity of the French manners fascinated him. With the
political maxims and the social habits of his favourite people, he
adopted their taste in composition, and, when seated on the throne, soon
rendered it fashionable, partly by direct patronage, but still more by
that contemptible policy, which, for a time, made England the last of
the nations, and raised Louis the Fourteenth to a height of power and
fame, such as no French sovereign had ever before attained.

It was to please Charles that rhyme was first introduced into our plays.
Thus, a rising blow, which would at any time have been mortal, was
dealt to the English Drama, then just recovering from its languishing
condition. Two detestable manners, the indigenous and the imported, were
now in a state of alternate conflict and amalgamation. The bombastic
meanness of the new style was blended with the ingenious absurdity of
the old; and the mixture produced something which the world had never
before seen, and which, we hope, it will never see again,--something,
by the side of which the worst nonsense of all other ages appears to
advantage--something, which those who have attempted to caricature it
have, against their will, been forced to flatter--of which the tragedy
of Bayes is a very favourable specimen. What Lord Dorset observed
to Edward Howard might have been addressed to almost all his
contemporaries--

     "As skilful divers to the bottom fall
     Swifter than those who cannot swim at all;
     So, in this way of writing without thinking,
     Thou hast a strange alacrity in sinking."

From this reproach some clever men of the world must be excepted, and
among them Dorset himself. Though by no means great poets, or even good
versifiers, they always wrote with meaning, and sometimes with wit.
Nothing indeed more strongly shows to what a miserable state literature
had fallen, than the immense superiority which the occasional rhymes,
carelessly thrown on paper by men of this class, possess over the
elaborate productions of almost all the professed authors. The reigning
taste was so bad, that the success of a writer was in inverse proportion
to his labour, and to his desire of excellence. An exception must be
made for Butler, who had as much wit and learning as Cowley, and who
knew, what Cowley never knew, how to use them. A great command of good
homely English distinguishes him still more from the other writers of
the time. As for Gondibert, those may criticise it who can read it.
Imagination was extinct. Taste was depraved. Poetry, driven from
palaces, colleges, and theatres, had found an asylum in the obscure
dwelling where a Great Man, born out of due season, in disgrace, penury,
pain and blindness, still kept uncontaminated a character and a genius
worthy of a better age.

Everything about Milton is wonderful; but nothing is so wonderful as
that, in an age so unfavourable to poetry, he should have produced the
greatest of modern epic poems. We are not sure that this is not in
some degree to be attributed to his want of sight. The imagination is
notoriously most active when the external world is shut out. In sleep
its illusions are perfect. They produce all the effect of realities. In
darkness its visions are always more distinct than in the light. Every
person who amuses himself with what is called building castles in the
air must have experienced this. We know artists who, before they attempt
to draw a face from memory, close their eyes, that they may recall a
more perfect image of the features and the expression. We are therefore
inclined to believe that the genius of Milton may have been preserved
from the influence of times so unfavourable to it by his infirmity.
Be this as it may, his works at first enjoyed a very small share of
popularity. To be neglected by his contemporaries was the penalty which
he paid for surpassing them. His great poem was not generally studied or
admired till writers far inferior to him had, by obsequiously cringing
to the public taste, acquired sufficient favour to reform it.

Of these, Dryden was the most eminent. Amidst the crowd of authors who,
during the earlier years of Charles the Second, courted notoriety
by every species of absurdity and affectation, he speedily became
conspicuous. No man exercised so much influence on the age. The reason
is obvious. On no man did the age exercise so much influence. He was
perhaps the greatest of those whom we have designated as the critical
poets; and his literary career exhibited, on a reduced scale, the
whole history of the school to which he belonged,--the rudeness and
extravagance of its infancy,--the propriety, the grace, the dignified
good sense, the temperate splendour of its maturity. His imagination
was torpid, till it was awakened by his judgment. He began with quaint
parallels and empty mouthing. He gradually acquired the energy of the
satirist, the gravity of the moralist, the rapture of the lyric poet.
The revolution through which English literature has been passing, from
the time of Cowley to that of Scott, may be seen in miniature within the
compass of his volumes.

His life divides itself into two parts. There is some debatable ground
on the common frontier; but the line may be drawn with tolerable
accuracy. The year 1678 is that on which we should be inclined to fix
as the date of a great change in his manner. During the preceding period
appeared some of his courtly panegyrics--his Annus Mirabilis, and most
of his plays; indeed, all his rhyming tragedies. To the subsequent
period belong his best dramas,--All for Love, the Spanish Friar, and
Sebastian,--his satires, his translations, his didactic poems, his
fables, and his odes.

Of the small pieces which were presented to chancellors and princes it
would scarcely be fair to speak. The greatest advantage which the Fine
Arts derive from the extension of knowledge is, that the patronage of
individuals becomes unnecessary. Some writers still affect to regret the
age of patronage. None but bad writers have reason to regret it. It is
always an age of general ignorance. Where ten thousand readers are eager
for the appearance of a book, a small contribution from each makes up
a splendid remuneration for the author. Where literature is a luxury,
confined to few, each of them must pay high. If the Empress Catherine,
for example, wanted an epic poem, she must have wholly supported
the poet;--just as, in a remote country village, a man who wants a
muttonchop is sometimes forced to take the whole sheep;--a thing which
never happens where the demand is large. But men who pay largely for the
gratification of their taste, will expect to have it united with some
gratification to their vanity. Flattery is carried to a shameless
extent; and the habit of flattery almost inevitably introduces a
false taste into composition. Its language is made up of hyperbolical
commonplaces,--offensive from their triteness,--still more offensive
from their extravagance. In no school is the trick of overstepping the
modesty of nature so speedily acquired. The writer, accustomed to find
exaggeration acceptable and necessary on one subject, uses it on all. It
is not strange, therefore, that the early panegyrical verses of Dryden
should be made up of meanness and bombast. They abound with the conceits
which his immediate predecessors had brought into fashion. But his
language and his versification were already far superior to theirs.

The Annus Mirabilis shows great command of expression, and a fine ear
for heroic rhyme. Here its merits end. Not only has it no claim to be
called poetry, but it seems to be the work of a man who could never, by
any possibility, write poetry. Its affected similes are the best part
of it. Gaudy weeds present a more encouraging spectacle than utter
barrenness. There is scarcely a single stanza in this long work to which
the imagination seems to have contributed anything. It is produced, not
by creation, but by construction. It is made up, not of pictures, but of
inferences. We will give a single instance, and certainly a favourable
instance,--a quatrain which Johnson has praised. Dryden is describing
the sea-fight with the Dutch--

     "Amidst whole heaps of spices lights a ball;
     And now their odours armed against them fly.
     Some preciously by shattered porcelain fall,
     And some by aromatic splinters die."

The poet should place his readers, as nearly as possible, in the
situation of the sufferers or the spectators. His narration ought to
produce feelings similar to those which would be excited by the event
itself. Is this the case here? Who, in a sea-fight, ever thought of the
price of the china which beats out the brains of a sailor; or of the
odour of the splinter which shatters his leg? It is not by an act of the
imagination, at once calling up the scene before the interior eye, but
by painful meditation,--by turning the subject round and round,--by
tracing out facts into remote consequences,--that these incongruous
topics are introduced into the description. Homer, it is true,
perpetually uses epithets which are not peculiarly appropriate.
Achilles is the swift-footed, when he is sitting still. Ulysses is the
much-enduring, when he has nothing to endure. Every spear casts a long
shadow, every ox has crooked horns, and every woman a high bosom, though
these particulars may be quite beside the purpose. In our old ballads a
similar practice prevails. The gold is always red, and the ladies always
gay, though nothing whatever may depend on the hue of the gold, or the
temper of the ladies. But these adjectives are mere customary additions.
They merge in the substantives to which they are attached. If they at
all colour the idea, it is with a tinge so slight as in no respect
to alter the general effect. In the passage which we have quoted from
Dryden the case is very different. "Preciously" and "aromatic" divert
our whole attention to themselves, and dissolve the image of the battle
in a moment. The whole poem reminds us of Lucan, and of the worst parts
of Lucan,--the sea-fight in the Bay of Marseilles, for example. The
description of the two fleets during the night is perhaps the only
passage which ought to be exempted from this censure. If it was from
the Annus Mirabilis that Milton formed his opinion, when he pronounced
Dryden a good rhymer but no poet, he certainly judged correctly. But
Dryden was, as we have said, one of those writers in whom the period of
imagination does not precede, but follow, the period of observation and
reflection.

His plays, his rhyming plays in particular, are admirable subjects for
those who wish to study the morbid anatomy of the drama. He was utterly
destitute of the power of exhibiting real human beings. Even in the far
inferior talent of composing characters out of those elements into
which the imperfect process of our reason can resolve them, he was very
deficient. His men are not even good personifications; they are not
well-assorted assemblages of qualities. Now and then, indeed, he seizes
a very coarse and marked distinction, and gives us, not a likeness, but
a strong caricature, in which a single peculiarity is protruded, and
everything else neglected; like the Marquis of Granby at an inn-door,
whom we know by nothing but his baldness; or Wilkes, who is Wilkes only
in his squint. These are the best specimens of his skill. For most of
his pictures seem, like Turkey carpets, to have been expressly designed
not to resemble anything in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, or
in the waters under the earth.

The latter manner he practises most frequently in his tragedies, the
former in his comedies. The comic characters are, without mixture,
loathsome and despicable. The men of Etherege and Vanbrugh are bad
enough. Those of Smollett are perhaps worse. But they do not approach
to the Celadons, the Wildbloods, the Woodalls, and the Rhodophils of
Dryden. The vices of these last are set off by a certain fierce hard
impudence, to which we know nothing comparable. Their love is the
appetite of beasts; their friendship the confederacy of knaves. The
ladies seem to have been expressly created to form helps meet for such
gentlemen. In deceiving and insulting their old fathers they do not
perhaps exceed the license which, by immemorial prescription, has been
allowed to heroines. But they also cheat at cards, rob strong boxes, put
up their favours to auction, betray their friends, abuse their rivals
in the style of Billingsgate, and invite their lovers in the language
of the Piazza. These, it must be remembered, are not the valets and
waiting-women, the Mascarilles and Nerines, but the recognised heroes
and heroines who appear as the representatives of good society, and who,
at the end of the fifth act, marry and live very happily ever after. The
sensuality, baseness, and malice of their natures is unredeemed by any
quality of a different description,--by any touch of kindness,--or even
by any honest burst of hearty hatred and revenge. We are in a world
where there is no humanity, no veracity, no sense of shame,--a world for
which any good-natured man would gladly take in exchange the society of
Milton's devils. But as soon as we enter the regions of Tragedy, we find
a great change. There is no lack of fine sentiment there. Metastasio
is surpassed in his own department. Scuderi is out-scuderied. We are
introduced to people whose proceedings we can trace to no motive,--of
whose feelings we can form no more idea than of a sixth sense. We have
left a race of creatures, whose love is as delicate and affectionate
as the passion which an alderman feels for a turtle. We find ourselves
among beings, whose love is a purely disinterested emotion,--a loyalty
extending to passive obedience,--a religion, like that of the Quietists,
unsupported by any sanction of hope or fear. We see nothing but
despotism without power, and sacrifices without compensation.

We will give a few instances. In Aurengzebe, Arimant, governor of Agra,
falls in love with his prisoner Indamora. She rejects his suit with
scorn; but assures him that she shall make great use of her power over
him. He threatens to be angry. She answers, very coolly:

     "Do not:  your anger, like your love, is vain:
     Whene'er I please, you must be pleased again.
     Knowing what power I have your will to bend,
     I'll use it; for I need just such a friend."

This is no idle menace. She soon brings a letter addressed to
his rival,--orders him to read it,--asks him whether he thinks it
sufficiently tender,--and finally commands him to carry it himself. Such
tyranny as this, it may be thought, would justify resistance. Arimant
does indeed venture to remonstrate:--

     "This fatal paper rather let me tear,
     Than, like Bellerophon, my sentence bear."

The answer of the lady is incomparable:--

     "You may; but 'twill not be your best advice;
     'Twill only give me pains of writing twice.
     You know you must obey me, soon or late.
     Why should you vainly struggle with your fate?"

Poor Arimant seems to be of the same opinion. He mutters something about
fate and free-will, and walks off with the billet-doux.

In the Indian Emperor, Montezuma presents Almeria with a garland as a
token of his love, and offers to make her his queen. She replies:--

     "I take this garland, not as given by you;
     But as my merit's and my beauty's due;
     As for the crown which you, my slave, possess,
     To share it with you would but make me less."

In return for such proofs of tenderness as these, her admirer consents
to murder his two sons and a benefactor to whom he feels the warmest
gratitude. Lyndaraxa, in the Conquest of Granada, assumes the same lofty
tone with Abdelmelech. He complains that she smiles upon his rival.

     "Lynd.  And when did I my power so far resign,
             That you should regulate each look of mine?

     Abdel.  Then, when you gave your love, you gave that power.

     Lynd.  'Twas during pleasure--'tis revoked this hour.

     Abdel.  I'll hate you, and this visit is my last.

     Lynd.  Do, if you can:  you know I hold you fast."

That these passages violate all historical propriety, that sentiments to
which nothing similar was ever even affected except by the cavaliers of
Europe, are transferred to Mexico and Agra, is a light accusation. We
have no objection to a conventional world, an Illyrian puritan, or a
Bohemian seaport. While the faces are good, we care little about the
back-ground. Sir Joshua Reynolds says that the curtains and hangings
in an historical painting ought to be, not velvet or cotton, but merely
drapery. The same principle should be applied to poetry and romance. The
truth of character is the first object; the truth of place and time is
to be considered only in the second place. Puff himself could tell the
actor to turn out his toes, and remind him that Keeper Hatton was
a great dancer. We wish that, in our own time, a writer of a very
different order from Puff had not too often forgotten human nature in
the niceties of upholstery, millinery, and cookery.

We blame Dryden, not because the persons of his dramas are not Moors or
Americans, but because they are not men and women;--not because love,
such as he represents it, could not exist in a harem or in a wigwam, but
because it could not exist anywhere. As is the love of his heroes, such
are all their other emotions. All their qualities, their courage, their
generosity, their pride, are on the same colossal scale. Justice and
prudence are virtues which can exist only in a moderate degree, and
which change their nature and their name if pushed to excess. Of justice
and prudence, therefore, Dryden leaves his favourites destitute. He
did not care to give them what he could not give without measure. The
tyrants and ruffians are merely the heroes altered by a few touches,
similar to those which transformed the honest face of Sir Roger de
Coverley into the Saracen's head. Through the grin and frown the
original features are still perceptible.

It is in the tragi-comedies that these absurdities strike us most.
The two races of men, or rather the angels and the baboons, are there
presented to us together. We meet in one scene with nothing but
gross, selfish, unblushing, lying libertines of both sexes, who, as
a punishment, we suppose, for their depravity, are condemned to talk
nothing but prose. But, as soon as we meet with people who speak in
verse, we know that we are in society which would have enraptured the
Cathos and Madelon of Moliere, in society for which Oroondates would
have too little of the lover, and Clelia too much of the coquette.

As Dryden was unable to render his plays interesting by means of that
which is the peculiar and appropriate excellence of the drama, it was
necessary that he should find some substitute for it. In his comedies he
supplied its place, sometimes by wit, but more frequently by intrigue,
by disguises, mistakes of persons, dialogues at cross purposes,
hair-breadth escapes, perplexing concealments, and surprising
disclosures. He thus succeeded at least in making these pieces very
amusing.

In his tragedies he trusted, and not altogether without reason, to
his diction and his versification. It was on this account, in all
probability, that he so eagerly adopted, and so reluctantly abandoned,
the practice of rhyming in his plays. What is unnatural appears less
unnatural in that species of verse than in lines which approach more
nearly to common conversation; and in the management of the heroic
couplet Dryden has never been equalled. It is unnecessary to urge any
arguments against a fashion now universally condemned. But it is worthy
of observation, that, though Dryden was deficient in that talent which
blank verse exhibits to the greatest advantage, and was certainly the
best writer of heroic rhyme in our language, yet the plays which have,
from the time of their first appearance, been considered as his best,
are in blank verse. No experiment can be more decisive.

It must be allowed that the worst even of the rhyming tragedies contains
good description and magnificent rhetoric. But, even when we forget that
they are plays, and, passing by their dramatic improprieties, consider
them with reference to the language, we are perpetually disgusted by
passages which it is difficult to conceive how any author could have
written, or any audience have tolerated, rants in which the raving
violence of the manner forms a strange contrast with the abject tameness
of the thought. The author laid the whole fault on the audience, and
declared that, when he wrote them, he considered them bad enough to
please. This defence is unworthy of a man of genius, and after all, is
no defence. Otway pleased without rant; and so might Dryden have done,
if he had possessed the powers of Otway. The fact is, that he had a
tendency to bombast, which, though subsequently corrected by time
and thought, was never wholly removed, and which showed itself in
performances not designed to please the rude mob of the theatre.

Some indulgent critics have represented this failing as an indication
of genius, as the profusion of unlimited wealth, the wantonness of
exuberant vigour. To us it seems to bear a nearer affinity to the
tawdriness of poverty, or the spasms and convulsions of weakness. Dryden
surely had not more imagination than Homer, Dante, or Milton, who
never fall into this vice. The swelling diction of Aeschylus and Isaiah
resembles that of Almanzor and Maximin no more than the tumidity of a
muscle resembles the tumidity of a boil. The former is symptomatic
of health and strength, the latter of debility and disease. If ever
Shakspeare rants, it is not when his imagination is hurrying him along,
but when he is hurrying his imagination along,--when his mind is for a
moment jaded,--when, as was said of Euripides, he resembles a lion, who
excites his own fury by lashing himself with his tail. What happened
to Shakspeare from the occasional suspension of his powers happened
to Dryden from constant impotence. He, like his confederate Lee, had
judgment enough to appreciate the great poets of the preceding age, but
not judgment enough to shun competition with them. He felt and admired
their wild and daring sublimity. That it belonged to another age than
that in which he lived and required other talents than those which
he possessed, that, in aspiring to emulate it, he was wasting, in
a hopeless attempt, powers which might render him pre-eminent in a
different career, was a lesson which he did not learn till late. As
those knavish enthusiasts, the French prophets, courted inspiration by
mimicking the writhings, swoonings, and gaspings which they considered
as its symptoms, he attempted, by affected fits of poetical fury,
to bring on a real paroxysm; and, like them, he got nothing but his
distortions for his pains.

Horace very happily compares those who, in his time, imitated Pindar
to the youth who attempted to fly to heaven on waxen wings, and who
experienced so fatal and ignominious a fall. His own admirable good
sense preserved him from this error, and taught him to cultivate a
style in which excellence was within his reach. Dryden had not the same
self-knowledge. He saw that the greatest poets were never so successful
as when they rushed beyond the ordinary bounds, and that some
inexplicable good fortune preserved them from tripping even when they
staggered on the brink of nonsense. He did not perceive that they were
guided and sustained by a power denied to himself. They wrote from
the dictation of the imagination; and they found a response in the
imaginations of others. He, on the contrary, sat down to work himself,
by reflection and argument, into a deliberate wildness, a rational
frenzy.

In looking over the admirable designs which accompany the Faust, we
have always been much struck by one which represents the wizard and the
tempter riding at full speed. The demon sits on his furious horse as
heedlessly as if he were reposing on a chair. That he should keep his
saddle in such a posture, would seem impossible to any who did not
know that he was secure in the privileges of a superhuman nature. The
attitude of Faust, on the contrary, is the perfection of horsemanship.
Poets of the first order might safely write as desperately as
Mephistopheles rode. But Dryden, though admitted to communion with
higher spirits, though armed with a portion of their power, and
intrusted with some of their secrets, was of another race. What they
might securely venture to do, it was madness in him to attempt. It
was necessary that taste and critical science should supply his
deficiencies.

We will give a few examples. Nothing can be finer than the description
of Hector at the Grecian wall:--

     o d ar esthore phaidimos Ektor,
     Nukti thoe atalantos upopia lampe de chalko
     Smerdaleo, ton eesto peri chroi doia de chersi
     Dour echen ouk an tis min erukakoi antibolesas,
     Nosphi theun, ot esalto pulas puri d osse dedeei.
     --Autika d oi men teichos uperbasan, oi de kat autas
     Poietas esechunto pulas Danaioi d ephobethen
     Neas ana glaphuras omados d aliastos etuchthe.

What daring expressions! Yet how significant! How picturesque! Hector
seems to rise up in his strength and fury. The gloom of night in his
frown,--the fire burning in his eyes,--the javelins and the
blazing armour,--the mighty rush through the gates and down
the battlements,--the trampling and the infinite roar of the
multitude,--everything is with us; everything is real.

Dryden has described a very similar event in Maximin, and has done his
best to be sublime, as follows:--

     "There with a forest of their darts he strove,
     And stood like Capaneus defying Jove;
     With his broad sword the boldest beating down,
     Till Fate grew pale, lest he should win the town,
     And turn'd the iron leaves of its dark book
     To make new dooms, or mend what it mistook."

How exquisite is the imagery of the fairy-songs in the Tempest and the
Midsummer Night's Dream; Ariel riding through the twilight on the
bat, or sucking in the bells of flowers with the bee; or the little
bower-women of Titania, driving the spiders from the couch of the Queen!
Dryden truly said, that

     "Shakspeare's magic could not copied be;
     Within that circle none durst walk but he."

It would have been well if he had not himself dared to step within
the enchanted line, and drawn on himself a fate similar to that
which, according to the old superstition, punished such presumptuous
interference. The following lines are parts of the song of his
fairies:--

     "Merry, merry, merry, we sail from the East,
     Half-tippled at a rainbow feast.
     In the bright moonshine, while winds whistle loud,
     Tivy, tivy, tivy, we mount and we fly,
     All racking along in a downy white cloud;
     And lest our leap from the sky prove too far,
     We slide on the back of a new falling star,
     And drop from above
     In a jelly of love."

These are very favourable instances. Those who wish for a bad one may
read the dying speeches of Maximin, and may compare them with the last
scenes of Othello and Lear.

If Dryden had died before the expiration of the first of the periods
into which we have divided his literary life, he would have left a
reputation, at best, little higher than that of Lee or Davenant. He
would have been known only to men of letters; and by them he would have
been mentioned as a writer who threw away, on subjects which he was
incompetent to treat, powers which, judiciously employed, might have
raised him to eminence; whose diction and whose numbers had sometimes
very high merit, but all whose works were blemished by a false taste,
and by errors of gross negligence. A few of his prologues and epilogues
might perhaps still have been remembered and quoted. In these little
pieces he early showed all the powers which afterwards rendered him the
greatest of modern satirists. But, during the latter part of his
life, he gradually abandoned the drama. His plays appeared at longer
intervals. He renounced rhyme in tragedy. His language became less
turgid--his characters less exaggerated. He did not indeed produce
correct representations of human nature; but he ceased to daub such
monstrous chimeras as those which abound in his earlier pieces. Here and
there passages occur worthy of the best ages of the British stage. The
style which the drama requires changes with every change of character
and situation. He who can vary his manner to suit the variation is the
great dramatist; but he who excels in one manner only will, when that
manner happens to be appropriate, appear to be a great dramatist; as the
hands of a watch which does not go point right once in the twelve hours.
Sometimes there is a scene of solemn debate. This a mere rhetorician may
write as well as the greatest tragedian that ever lived. We confess
that to us the speech of Sempronius in Cato seems very nearly as good
as Shakspeare could have made it. But when the senate breaks up, and we
find that the lovers and their mistresses, the hero, the villain, and
the deputy-villain, all continue to harangue in the same style, we
perceive the difference between a man who can write a play and a man who
can write a speech. In the same manner, wit, a talent for description,
or a talent for narration, may, for a time, pass for dramatic genius.
Dryden was an incomparable reasoner in verse. He was conscious of his
power; he was proud of it; and the authors of the Rehearsal justly
charged him with abusing it. His warriors and princesses are fond of
discussing points of amorous casuistry, such as would have delighted a
Parliament of Love. They frequently go still deeper, and speculate on
philosophical necessity and the origin of evil.

There were, however, some occasions which absolutely required this
peculiar talent. Then Dryden was indeed at home. All his best scenes are
of this description. They are all between men; for the heroes of Dryden,
like many other gentlemen, can never talk sense when ladies are in
company. They are all intended to exhibit the empire of reason
over violent passion. We have two interlocutors, the one eager and
impassioned, the other high, cool, and judicious. The composed and
rational character gradually acquires the ascendency. His fierce
companion is first inflamed to rage by his reproaches, then overawed
by his equanimity, convinced by his arguments, and soothed by his
persuasions. This is the case in the scene between Hector and Troilus,
in that between Antony and Ventidius, and in that between Sebastian and
Dorax. Nothing of the same kind in Shakspeare is equal to them, except
the quarrel between Brutus and Cassius, which is worth them all three.

Some years before his death, Dryden altogether ceased to write for the
stage. He had turned his powers in a new direction, with success
the most splendid and decisive. His taste had gradually awakened his
creative faculties. The first rank in poetry was beyond his reach; but
he challenged and secured the most honourable place in the second. His
imagination resembled the wings of an ostrich; it enabled him to run,
though not to soar. When he attempted the highest flights, he became
ridiculous; but, while he remained in a lower region, he out-stripped
all competitors.

All his natural and all his acquired powers fitted him to found a good
critical school of poetry. Indeed he carried his reforms too far for
his age. After his death our literature retrograded; and a century was
necessary to bring it back to the point at which he left it. The general
soundness and healthfulness of his mental constitution, his information,
of vast superficies, though of small volume, his wit scarcely inferior
to that of the most distinguished followers of Donne, his eloquence,
grave, deliberate, and commanding, could not save him from disgraceful
failure as a rival of Shakspeare, but raised him far above the level of
Boileau. His command of language was immense. With him died the secret
of the old poetical diction of England,--the art of producing rich
effects by familiar words. In the following century it was as completely
lost as the Gothic method of painting glass, and was but poorly supplied
by the laborious and tesselated imitations of Mason and Gray. On the
other hand, he was the first writer under whose skilful management the
scientific vocabulary fell into natural and pleasing verse. In this
department, he succeeded as completely as his contemporary Gibbons
succeeded in the similar enterprise of carving the most delicate flowers
from heart of oak. The toughest and most knotty parts of language became
ductile at his touch. His versification, in the same manner, while it
gave the first model of that neatness and precision which the following
generation esteemed so highly, exhibited at the same time, the last
examples of nobleness, freedom, variety of pause, and cadence. His
tragedies in rhyme, however worthless in themselves, had at least served
the purpose of nonsense-verses; they had taught him all the arts of
melody which the heroic couplet admits. For bombast, his prevailing
vice, his new subjects gave little opportunity; his better taste
gradually discarded it.

He possessed, as we have said, in a pre-eminent degree the power of
reasoning in verse; and this power was now peculiarly useful to him. His
logic is by no means uniformly sound. On points of criticism, he always
reasons ingeniously; and when he is disposed to be honest, correctly.
But the theological and political questions which he undertook to treat
in verse were precisely those which he understood least. His arguments,
therefore, are often worthless. But the manner in which they are stated
is beyond all praise. The style is transparent. The topics follow each
other in the happiest order. The objections are drawn up in such a
manner that the whole fire of the reply may be brought to bear on them.
The circumlocutions which are substituted for technical phrases are
clear, neat, and exact. The illustrations at once adorn and elucidate
the reasoning. The sparkling epigrams of Cowley, and the simple
garrulity of the burlesque poets of Italy, are alternately employed, in
the happiest manner, to give effect to what is obvious or clearness to
what is obscure.

His literary creed was catholic, even to latitudinarianism; not from any
want of acuteness, but from a disposition to be easily satisfied. He was
quick to discern the smallest glimpse of merit; he was indulgent even to
gross improprieties, when accompanied by any redeeming talent. When he
said a severe thing, it was to serve a temporary purpose,--to support an
argument, or to tease a rival. Never was so able a critic so free
from fastidiousness. He loved the old poets, especially Shakspeare. He
admired the ingenuity which Donne and Cowley had so wildly abused. He
did justice, amidst the general silence, to the memory of Milton. He
praised to the skies the school-boy lines of Addison. Always looking on
the fair side of every object, he admired extravagance on account of the
invention which he supposed it to indicate; he excused affectation
in favour of wit; he tolerated even tameness for the sake of the
correctness which was its concomitant.

It was probably to this turn of mind, rather than to the more
disgraceful causes which Johnson has assigned, that we are to attribute
the exaggeration which disfigures the panegyrics of Dryden. No writer,
it must be owned, has carried the flattery of dedication to a greater
length. But this was not, we suspect, merely interested servility: it
was the overflowing of a mind singularly disposed to admiration,--of a
mind which diminished vices, and magnified virtues and obligations. The
most adulatory of his addresses is that in which he dedicates the State
of Innocence to Mary of Modena. Johnson thinks it strange that any
man should use such language without self-detestation. But he has not
remarked that to the very same work is prefixed an eulogium on Milton,
which certainly could not have been acceptable at the Court of Charles
the Second. Many years later, when Whig principles were in a great
measure triumphant, Sprat refused to admit a monument of John Phillips
into Westminster Abbey--because, in the epitaph, the name of Milton
incidentally occurred. The walls of his church, he declared, should not
be polluted by the name of a republican! Dryden was attached, both
by principle and interest, to the Court. But nothing could deaden his
sensibility to excellence. We are unwilling to accuse him severely,
because the same disposition, which prompted him to pay so generous a
tribute to the memory of a poet whom his patrons detested, hurried him
into extravagance when he described a princess distinguished by the
splendour of her beauty and the graciousness of her manners.

This is an amiable temper; but it is not the temper of great men. Where
there is elevation of character, there will be fastidiousness. It
is only in novels and on tombstones that we meet with people who are
indulgent to the faults of others, and unmerciful to their own; and
Dryden, at all events, was not one of these paragons. His charity was
extended most liberally to others; but it certainly began at home. In
taste he was by no means deficient. His critical works are, beyond all
comparison, superior to any which had, till then, appeared in England.
They were generally intended as apologies for his own poems, rather than
as expositions of general principles; he, therefore, often attempts
to deceive the reader by sophistry which could scarcely have
deceived himself. His dicta are the dicta, not of a judge, but of an
advocate:--often of an advocate in an unsound cause. Yet, in the very
act of misrepresenting the laws of composition, he shows how well he
understands them. But he was perpetually acting against his better
knowledge. His sins were sins against light. He trusted that what was
bad would be pardoned for the sake of what was good. What was good, he
took no pains to make better. He was not, like most persons who rise to
eminence, dissatisfied even with his best productions. He had set up no
unattainable standard of perfection, the contemplation of which might
at once improve and mortify him. His path was not attended by an
unapproachable mirage of excellence, for ever receding, and for ever
pursued. He was not disgusted by the negligence of others; and he
extended the same toleration to himself. His mind was of a slovenly
character,--fond of splendour, but indifferent to neatness. Hence most
of his writings exhibit the sluttish magnificence of a Russian noble,
all vermin and diamonds, dirty linen and inestimable sables. Those
faults which spring from affectation, time and thought in a great
measure removed from his poems. But his carelessness he retained to the
last. If towards the close of his life he less frequently went wrong
from negligence, it was only because long habits of composition
rendered it more easy to go right. In his best pieces we find false
rhymes,--triplets, in which the third line appears to be a mere
intruder, and, while it breaks the music, adds nothing to the
meaning,--gigantic Alexandrines of fourteen and sixteen syllables,
and truncated verses for which he never troubled himself to find a
termination or a partner.

Such are the beauties and the faults which may be found in profusion
throughout the later works of Dryden. A more just and complete estimate
of his natural and acquired powers,--of the merits of his style and of
its blemishes,--may be formed from the Hind and Panther, than from any
of his other writings. As a didactic poem, it is far superior to the
Religio Laici. The satirical parts, particularly the character of
Burnet, are scarcely inferior to the best passages in Absalom and
Achitophel. There are, moreover, occasional touches of a tenderness
which affects us more, because it is decent, rational, and manly, and
reminds us of the best scenes in his tragedies. His versification sinks
and swells in happy unison with the subject; and his wealth of
language seems to be unlimited. Yet, the carelessness with which he has
constructed his plot, and the innumerable inconsistencies into which
he is every moment falling, detract much from the pleasure which such
various excellence affords.

In Absalom and Achitophel he hit upon a new and rich vein, which he
worked with signal success. They ancient satirists were the subjects
of a despotic government. They were compelled to abstain from political
topics, and to confine their attention to the frailties of private life.
They might, indeed, sometimes venture to take liberties with public men,

     "Quorum Flaminia tegitur cinis atque Latina."

Thus Juvenal immortalised the obsequious senators who met to decide the
fate of the memorable turbot. His fourth satire frequently reminds us of
the great political poem of Dryden; but it was not written till Domitian
had fallen: and it wants something of the peculiar flavour which belongs
to contemporary invective alone. His anger has stood so long that,
though the body is not impaired, the effervescence, the first cream,
is gone. Boileau lay under similar restraints; and, if he had been free
from all restraints, would have been no match for our countryman.

The advantages which Dryden derived from the nature of his subject he
improved to the very utmost. His manner is almost perfect. The style
of Horace and Boileau is fit only for light subjects. The Frenchman
did indeed attempt to turn the theological reasonings of the Provincial
Letters into verse, but with very indifferent success. The glitter of
Pope is gold. The ardour of Persius is without brilliancy. Magnificent
versification and ingenious combinations rarely harmonise with the
expression of deep feeling. In Juvenal and Dryden alone we have the
sparkle and the heat together. Those great satirists succeeded in
communicating the fervour of their feelings to materials the most
incombustible, and kindled the whole mass into a blaze, at once dazzling
and destructive. We cannot, indeed, think, without regret, of the part
which so eminent a writer as Dryden took in the disputes of that period.
There was, no doubt, madness and wickedness on both sides. But there was
liberty on the one, and despotism on the other. On this point, however,
we will not dwell. At Talavera the English and French troops for a
moment suspended their conflict, to drink of a stream which flowed
between them. The shells were passed across from enemy to enemy without
apprehension or molestation. We, in the same manner, would rather
assist our political adversaries to drink with us of that fountain of
intellectual pleasure, which should be the common refreshment of both
parties, than disturb and pollute it with the havoc of unseasonable
hostilities.

Macflecnoe is inferior to Absalom and Achitophel only in the subject. In
the execution it is even superior. But the greatest work of Dryden was
the last, the Ode on Saint Cecilia's Day. It is the masterpiece of the
second class of poetry, and ranks but just below the great models of the
first. It reminds us of the Pedasus of Achilles--

     os, kai thnetos eon, epeth ippois athanatoisi.

By comparing it with the impotent ravings of the heroic tragedies we may
measure the progress which the mind of Dryden had made. He had learned
to avoid a too audacious competition with higher natures, to keep at
a distance from the verge of bombast or nonsense, to venture on no
expression which did not convey a distinct idea to his own mind. There
is none of that "darkness visible" of style which he had formerly
affected, and in which the greatest poets only can succeed. Everything
is definite, significant, and picturesque. His early writings resembled
the gigantic works of those Chinese gardeners who attempt to rival
nature herself, to form cataracts of terrific height and sound, to
raise precipitous ridges of mountains, and to imitate in artificial
plantations the vastness and the gloom of some primeval forest. This
manner he abandoned; nor did he ever adopt the Dutch taste which Pope
affected, the trim parterres, and the rectangular walks. He rather
resembled our Kents and Browns, who imitating the great features of
landscape without emulating them, consulting the genius of the place,
assisting nature and carefully disguising their art, produced, not a
Chamouni or a Niagara, but a Stowe or a Hagley.

We are, on the whole, inclined to regret that Dryden did not accomplish
his purpose of writing an epic poem. It certainly would not have been
a work of the highest rank. It would not have rivalled the Iliad, the
Odyssey, or the Paradise Lost; but it would have been superior to the
productions of Apollonius, Lucan, or Statius, and not inferior to the
Jerusalem Delivered. It would probably have been a vigorous narrative,
animated with something of the spirit of the old romances, enriched with
much splendid description, and interspersed with fine declamations and
disquisitions. The danger of Dryden would have been from aiming too
high; from dwelling too much, for example, on his angels of kingdoms,
and attempting a competition with that great writer who in his own
time had so incomparably succeeded in representing to us the sights and
sounds of another world. To Milton, and to Milton alone, belonged the
secrets of the great deep, the beach of sulphur, the ocean of fire, the
palaces of the fallen dominations, glimmering through the everlasting
shade, the silent wilderness of verdure and fragrance where armed angels
kept watch over the sleep of the first lovers, the portico of diamond,
the sea of jasper, the sapphire pavement empurpled with celestial roses,
and the infinite ranks of the Cherubim, blazing with adamant and gold.
The council, the tournament, the procession, the crowded cathedral, the
camp, the guard-room, the chase, were the proper scenes for Dryden.

But we have not space to pass in review all the works which Dryden
wrote. We, therefore, will not speculate longer on those which he might
possibly have written. He may, on the whole, be pronounced to have been
a man possessed of splendid talents, which he often abused, and of a
sound judgment, the admonitions of which he often neglected; a man who
succeeded only in an inferior department of his art, but who, in that
department, succeeded pre-eminently; and who with a more independent
spirit, a more anxious desire of excellence, and more respect for
himself, would, in his own walk, have attained to absolute perfection.



HISTORY. (May 1828.)

     "The Romance of History.  England."  By Henry Neele.
     London, 1828.

To write history respectably--that is, to abbreviate despatches, and
make extracts from speeches, to intersperse in due proportion epithets
of praise and abhorrence, to draw up antithetical characters of great
men, setting forth how many contradictory virtues and vices they united,
and abounding in "withs" and "withouts"--all this is very easy. But
to be a really great historian is perhaps the rarest of intellectual
distinctions. Many scientific works are, in their kind, absolutely
perfect. There are poems which we should be inclined to designate as
faultless, or as disfigured only by blemishes which pass unnoticed in
the general blaze of excellence. There are speeches, some speeches of
Demosthenes particularly, in which it would be impossible to alter a
word without altering it for the worse. But we are acquainted with
no history which approaches to our notion of what a history ought to
be--with no history which does not widely depart, either on the right
hand or on the left, from the exact line.

The cause may easily be assigned. This province of literature is a
debatable land. It lies on the confines of two distinct territories.
It is under the jurisdiction of two hostile powers; and, like other
districts similarly situated, it is ill defined, ill cultivated, and ill
regulated. Instead of being equally shared between its two rulers, the
Reason and the Imagination, it falls alternately under the sole and
absolute dominion of each. It is sometimes fiction. It is sometimes
theory.

History, it has been said, is philosophy teaching by examples.
Unhappily, what the philosophy gains in soundness and depth the examples
generally lose in vividness. A perfect historian must possess an
imagination sufficiently powerful to make his narrative affecting and
picturesque. Yet he must control it so absolutely as to content himself
with the materials which he finds, and to refrain from supplying
deficiencies by additions of his own. He must be a profound and
ingenious reasoner. Yet he must possess sufficient self-command to
abstain from casting his facts in the mould of his hypothesis. Those who
can justly estimate these almost insuperable difficulties will not think
it strange that every writer should have failed, either in the narrative
or in the speculative department of history.

It may be laid down as a general rule, though subject to considerable
qualifications and exceptions, that history begins in novel and ends
in essay. Of the romantic historians Herodotus is the earliest and the
best. His animation, his simple-hearted tenderness, his wonderful talent
for description and dialogue, and the pure sweet flow of his language,
place him at the head of narrators. He reminds us of a delightful child.
There is a grace beyond the reach of affectation in his awkwardness, a
malice in his innocence, an intelligence in his nonsense, an insinuating
eloquence in his lisp. We know of no writer who makes such interest
for himself and his book in the heart of the reader. At the distance
of three-and-twenty centuries, we feel for him the same sort of pitying
fondness which Fontaine and Gay are said to have inspired in society.
He has written an incomparable book. He has written something better
perhaps than the best history; but he has not written a good history;
he is, from the first to the last chapter, an inventor. We do not here
refer merely to those gross fictions with which he has been reproached
by the critics of later times. We speak of that colouring which is
equally diffused over his whole narrative, and which perpetually leaves
the most sagacious reader in doubt what to reject and what to receive.
The most authentic parts of his work bear the same relation to his
wildest legends which Henry the Fifth bears to the Tempest. There was
an expedition undertaken by Xerxes against Greece; and there was an
invasion of France. There was a battle at Plataea; and there was
a battle at Agincourt. Cambridge and Exeter, the Constable and the
Dauphin, were persons as real as Demaratus and Pausanias. The harangue
of the Archbishop on the Salic Law and the Book of Numbers differs much
less from the orations which have in all ages proceeded from the right
reverend bench than the speeches of Mardonius and Artabanus from those
which were delivered at the council-board of Susa. Shakspeare gives us
enumerations of armies, and returns of killed and wounded, which are
not, we suspect, much less accurate than those of Herodotus. There are
passages in Herodotus nearly as long as acts of Shakspeare, in which
everything is told dramatically, and in which the narrative serves only
the purpose of stage-directions. It is possible, no doubt, that the
substance of some real conversations may have been reported to the
historian. But events which, if they ever happened, happened in ages and
nations so remote that the particulars could never have been known to
him, are related with the greatest minuteness of detail. We have all
that Candaules said to Gyges, and all that passed between Astyages and
Harpagus. We are, therefore, unable to judge whether, in the account
which he gives of transactions respecting which he might possibly have
been well informed, we can trust to anything beyond the naked outline;
whether, for example, the answer of Gelon to the ambassadors of the
Grecian confederacy, or the expressions which passed between Aristides
and Themistocles at their famous interview, have been correctly
transmitted to us. The great events are, no doubt, faithfully related.
So, probably, are many of the slighter circumstances; but which of them
it is impossible to ascertain. The fictions are so much like the facts,
and the facts so much like the fictions, that, with respect to many most
interesting particulars, our belief is neither given nor withheld, but
remains in an uneasy and interminable state of abeyance. We know that
there is truth; but we cannot exactly decide where it lies.

The faults of Herodotus are the faults of a simple and imaginative
mind. Children and servants are remarkably Herodotean in their style of
narration. They tell everything dramatically. Their "says hes" and "says
shes" are proverbial. Every person who has had to settle their disputes
knows that, even when they have no intention to deceive, their reports
of conversation always require to be carefully sifted. If an educated
man were giving an account of the late change of administration, he
would say--"Lord Goderich resigned; and the King, in consequence, sent
for the Duke of Wellington." A porter tells the story as if he had been
hid behind the curtains of the royal bed at Windsor: "So Lord Goderich
says, 'I cannot manage this business; I must go out.' So the
King says,--says he, 'Well, then, I must send for the Duke of
Wellington--that's all.'" This is in the very manner of the father of
history.

Herodotus wrote as it was natural that he should write. He wrote for a
nation susceptible, curious, lively, insatiably desirous of novelty
and excitement; for a nation in which the fine arts had attained their
highest excellence, but in which philosophy was still in its infancy.
His countrymen had but recently begun to cultivate prose composition.
Public transactions had generally been recorded in verse. The first
historians might, therefore, indulge without fear of censure in the
license allowed to their predecessors the bards. Books were few. The
events of former times were learned from tradition and from popular
ballads; the manners of foreign countries from the reports of
travellers. It is well known that the mystery which overhangs what is
distant, either in space or time, frequently prevents us from censuring
as unnatural what we perceive to be impossible. We stare at a dragoon
who has killed three French cuirassiers, as a prodigy; yet we read,
without the least disgust, how Godfrey slew his thousands, and Rinaldo
his ten thousands. Within the last hundred years, stories about China
and Bantam, which ought not to have imposed on an old nurse, were
gravely laid down as foundations of political theories by eminent
philosophers. What the time of the Crusades is to us, the generation of
Croesus and Solon was to the Greeks of the time of Herodotus. Babylon
was to them what Pekin was to the French academicians of the last
century.

For such a people was the book of Herodotus composed; and, if we may
trust to a report, not sanctioned indeed by writers of high authority,
but in itself not improbable, it was composed, not to be read, but to
be heard. It was not to the slow circulation of a few copies, which the
rich only could possess, that the aspiring author looked for his reward.
The great Olympian festival,--the solemnity which collected multitudes,
proud of the Grecian name, from the wildest mountains of Doris, and the
remotest colonies of Italy and Libya,--was to witness his triumph. The
interest of the narrative, and the beauty of the style, were aided
by the imposing effect of recitation,--by the splendour of the
spectacle,--by the powerful influence of sympathy. A critic who could
have asked for authorities in the midst of such a scene must have been
of a cold and sceptical nature; and few such critics were there. As was
the historian, such were the auditors,--inquisitive, credulous, easily
moved by religious awe or patriotic enthusiasm. They were the very
men to hear with delight of strange beasts, and birds, and trees,--of
dwarfs, and giants, and cannibals--of gods, whose very names it was
impiety to utter,--of ancient dynasties, which had left behind them
monuments surpassing all the works of later times,--of towns like
provinces,--of rivers like seas,--of stupendous walls, and temples, and
pyramids,--of the rites which the Magi performed at daybreak on the tops
of the mountains,--of the secrets inscribed on the eternal obelisks of
Memphis. With equal delight they would have listened to the
graceful romances of their own country. They now heard of the exact
accomplishment of obscure predictions, of the punishment of crimes over
which the justice of heaven had seemed to slumber,--of dreams, omens,
warnings from the dead,--of princesses, for whom noble suitors contended
in every generous exercise of strength and skill,--of infants, strangely
preserved from the dagger of the assassin, to fulfil high destinies.

As the narrative approached their own times, the interest became still
more absorbing. The chronicler had now to tell the story of that
great conflict from which Europe dates its intellectual and political
supremacy,--a story which, even at this distance of time, is the most
marvellous and the most touching in the annals of the human race,--a
story abounding with all that is wild and wonderful, with all that is
pathetic and animating; with the gigantic caprices of infinite wealth
and despotic power--with the mightier miracles of wisdom, of virtue,
and of courage. He told them of rivers dried up in a day,--of
provinces famished for a meal,--of a passage for ships hewn through the
mountains,--of a road for armies spread upon the waves,--of monarchies
and commonwealths swept away,--of anxiety, of terror, of confusion, of
despair!--and then of proud and stubborn hearts tried in that extremity
of evil, and not found wanting,--of resistance long maintained against
desperate odds,--of lives dearly sold, when resistance could be
maintained no more,--of signal deliverance, and of unsparing revenge.
Whatever gave a stronger air of reality to a narrative so well
calculated to inflame the passions, and to flatter national pride, was
certain to be favourably received.

Between the time at which Herodotus is said to have composed his
history, and the close of the Peloponnesian war, about forty years
elapsed,--forty years, crowded with great military and political events.
The circumstances of that period produced a great effect on the
Grecian character; and nowhere was this effect so remarkable as in the
illustrious democracy of Athens. An Athenian, indeed, even in the
time of Herodotus, would scarcely have written a book so romantic and
garrulous as that of Herodotus. As civilisation advanced, the citizens
of that famous republic became still less visionary, and still less
simple-hearted. They aspired to know where their ancestors had been
content to doubt; they began to doubt where their ancestors had thought
it their duty to believe. Aristophanes is fond of alluding to this
change in the temper of his countrymen. The father and son, in the
Clouds, are evidently representatives of the generations to which they
respectively belonged. Nothing more clearly illustrates the nature of
this moral revolution than the change which passed upon tragedy. The
wild sublimity of Aeschylus became the scoff of every young Phidippides.
Lectures on abstruse points of philosophy, the fine distinctions of
casuistry, and the dazzling fence of rhetoric, were substituted for
poetry. The language lost something of that infantine sweetness which
had characterised it. It became less like the ancient Tuscan, and more
like the modern French.

The fashionable logic of the Greeks was, indeed, far from strict. Logic
never can be strict where books are scarce, and where information is
conveyed orally. We are all aware how frequently fallacies, which, when
set down on paper, are at once detected, pass for unanswerable arguments
when dexterously and volubly urged in Parliament, at the bar, or in
private conversation. The reason is evident. We cannot inspect them
closely enough to perceive their inaccuracy. We cannot readily compare
them with each other. We lose sight of one part of the subject before
another, which ought to be received in connection with it, comes before
us; and as there is no immutable record of what has been admitted and
of what has been denied, direct contradictions pass muster with little
difficulty. Almost all the education of a Greek consisted in talking and
listening. His opinions on government were picked up in the debates of
the assembly. If he wished to study metaphysics, instead of shutting
himself up with a book, he walked down to the market-place to look for
a sophist. So completely were men formed to these habits, that even
writing acquired a conversational air. The philosophers adopted the form
of dialogue, as the most natural mode of communicating knowledge. Their
reasonings have the merits and the defects which belong to that species
of composition, and are characterised rather by quickness and subtilty
than by depth and precision. Truth is exhibited in parts, and by
glimpses. Innumerable clever hints are given; but no sound and durable
system is erected. The argumentum ad hominem, a kind of argument most
efficacious in debate, but utterly useless for the investigation of
general principles, is among their favourite resources. Hence, though
nothing can be more admirable than the skill which Socrates displays in
the conversations which Plato has reported or invented, his victories,
for the most part, seem to us unprofitable. A trophy is set up; but no
new province is added to the dominions of the human mind.

Still, where thousands of keen and ready intellects were constantly
employed in speculating on the qualiies of actions and on the principles
of government, it was impossible that history should retain its whole
character. It became less gossiping and less picturesque; but much more
accurate, and somewhat more scientific.

The history of Thucydides differs from that of Herodotus as a portrait
differs from the representation of an imaginary scene; as the Burke or
Fox of Reynolds differs from his Ugolino or his Beaufort. In the former
case, the archetype is given: in the latter it is created. The faculties
which are required for the latter purpose are of a higher and rarer
order than those which suffice for the former, and indeed necessarily
comprise them. He who is able to paint what he sees with the eye of the
mind will surely be able to paint what he sees with the eye of the body.
He who can invent a story, and tell it well, will also be able to tell,
in an interesting manner, a story which he has not invented. If, in
practice, some of the best writers of fiction have been among the worst
writers of history, it has been because one of their talents had merged
in another so completely that it could not be severed; because, having
long been habituated to invent and narrate at the same time, they found
it impossible to narrate without inventing.

Some capricious and discontented artists have affected to consider
portrait-painting as unworthy of a man of genius. Some critics have
spoken in the same contemptuous manner of history. Johnson puts the case
thus: The historian tells either what is false or what is true: in the
former case he is no historian: in the latter he has no opportunity for
displaying his abilities: for truth is one: and all who tell the truth
must tell it alike.

It is not difficult to elude both the horns of this dilemma. We will
recur to the analogous art of portrait-painting. Any man with eyes and
hands may be taught to take a likeness. The process, up to a certain
point, is merely mechanical. If this were all, a man of talents might
justly despise the occupation. But we could mention portraits which are
resemblances,--but not mere resemblances; faithful,--but much more than
faithful; portraits which condense into one point of time, and exhibit,
at a single glance, the whole history of turbid and eventful lives--in
which the eye seems to scrutinise us, and the mouth to command us--in
which the brow menaces, and the lip almost quivers with scorn--in which
every wrinkle is a comment on some important transaction. The account
which Thucydides has given of the retreat from Syracuse is, among
narratives, what Vandyke's Lord Strafford is among paintings.

Diversity, it is said, implies error: truth is one, and admits of no
degrees. We answer, that this principle holds good only in abstract
reasonings. When we talk of the truth of imitation in the fine arts, we
mean an imperfect and a graduated truth. No picture is exactly like
the original; nor is a picture good in proportion as it is like the
original. When Sir Thomas Lawrence paints a handsome peeress, he does
not contemplate her through a powerful microscope, and transfer to the
canvas the pores of the skin, the blood-vessels of the eye, and all the
other beauties which Gulliver discovered in the Brobdingnagian maids
of honour. If he were to do this, the effect would not merely be
unpleasant, but, unless the scale of the picture were proportionably
enlarged, would be absolutely FALSE. And, after all, a microscope of
greater power than that which he had employed would convict him of
innumerable omissions. The same may be said of history. Perfectly and
absolutely true it cannot be: for, to be perfectly and absolutely
true, it ought to record ALL the slightest particulars of the slightest
transactions--all the things done and all the words uttered during
the time of which it treats. The omission of any circumstance, however
insignificant, would be a defect. If history were written thus, the
Bodleian Library would not contain the occurrences of a week. What is
told in the fullest and most accurate annals bears an infinitely small
proportion to what is suppressed. The difference between the copious
work of Clarendon and the account of the civil wars in the abridgment
of Goldsmith vanishes when compared with the immense mass of facts
respecting which both are equally silent.

No picture, then, and no history, can present us with the whole truth:
but those are the best pictures and the best histories which exhibit
such parts of the truth as most nearly produce the effect of the whole.
He who is deficient in the art of selection may, by showing nothing
but the truth, produce all the effect of the grossest falsehood. It
perpetually happens that one writer tells less truth than another,
merely because he tells more truths. In the imitative arts we constantly
see this. There are lines in the human face, and objects in landscape,
which stand in such relations to each other, that they ought either to
be all introduced into a painting together or all omitted together. A
sketch into which none of them enters may be excellent; but, if some
are given and others left out, though there are more points of likeness,
there is less likeness. An outline scrawled with a pen, which seizes the
marked features of a countenance, will give a much stronger idea of it
than a bad painting in oils. Yet the worst painting in oils that ever
hung at Somerset House resembles the original in many more particulars.
A bust of white marble may give an excellent idea of a blooming face.
Colour the lips and cheeks of the bust, leaving the hair and eyes
unaltered, and the similarity, instead of being more striking, will be
less so.

History has its foreground and its background: and it is principally in
the management of its perspective that one artist differs from another.
Some events must be represented on a large scale, others diminished; the
great majority will be lost in the dimness of the horizon; and a general
idea of their joint effect will be given by a few slight touches.

In this respect no writer has ever equalled Thucydides. He was a perfect
master of the art of gradual diminution. His history is sometimes as
concise as a chronological chart; yet it is always perspicuous. It
is sometimes as minute as one of Lovelace's letters; yet it is never
prolix. He never fails to contract and to expand it in the right place.

Thucydides borrowed from Herodotus the practice of putting speeches of
his own into the mouths of his characters. In Herodotus this usage is
scarcely censurable. It is of a piece with his whole manner. But it is
altogether incongruous in the work of his successor, and violates, not
only the accuracy of history, but the decencies of fiction. When once
we enter into the spirit of Herodotus, we find no inconsistency. The
conventional probability of his drama is preserved from the beginning
to the end. The deliberate orations, and the familiar dialogues, are
in strict keeping with each other. But the speeches of Thucydides are
neither preceded nor followed by anything with which they harmonise.
They give to the whole book something of the grotesque character of
those Chinese pleasure-grounds in which perpendicular rocks of granite
start up in the midst of a soft green plain. Invention is shocking where
truth is in such close juxtaposition with it.

Thucydides honestly tells us that some of these discourses are purely
fictitious. He may have reported the substance of others correctly, but
it is clear from the internal evidence that he has preserved no more
than the substance. His own peculiar habits of thought and expression
are everywhere discernible. Individual and national peculiarities are
seldom to be traced in the sentiments, and never in the diction. The
oratory of the Corinthians and Thebans is not less Attic, either in
matter or in manner, than that of the Athenians. The style of Cleon is
as pure, as austere, as terse, and as significant, as that of Pericles.

In spite of this great fault, it must be allowed that Thucydides has
surpassed all his rivals in the art of historical narration, in the
art of producing an effect on the imagination, by skilful selection
and disposition, without indulging in the license of invention. But
narration, though an important part of the business of a historian, is
not the whole. To append a moral to a work of fiction is either useless
or superfluous. A fiction may give a more impressive effect to what
is already known; but it can teach nothing new. If it presents to us
characters and trains of events to which our experience furnishes
us with nothing similar, instead of deriving instruction from it, we
pronounce it unnatural. We do not form our opinions from it; but we
try it by our preconceived opinions. Fiction, therefore, is essentially
imitative. Its merit consists in its resemblance to a model with which
we are already familiar, or to which at least we can instantly refer.
Hence it is that the anecdotes which interest us most strongly in
authentic narrative are offensive when introduced into novels; that what
is called the romantic part of history is in fact the least romantic. It
is delightful as history, because it contradicts our previous notions
of human nature, and of the connection of causes and effects. It is, on
that very account, shocking and incongruous in fiction. In fiction,
the principles are given, to find the facts: in history, the facts are
given, to find the principles; and the writer who does not explain the
phenomena as well as state them, performs only one half of his office.
Facts are the mere dross of history. It is from the abstract truth which
interpenetrates them, and lies latent among them like gold in the ore,
that the mass derives its whole value: and the precious particles are
generally combined with the baser in such a manner that the separation
is a task of the utmost difficulty.

Here Thucydides is deficient: the deficiency, indeed, is not
discreditable to him. It was the inevitable effect of circumstances. It
was in the nature of things necessary that, in some part of its progress
through political science, the human mind should reach that point which
it attained in his time. Knowledge advances by steps, and not by leaps.
The axioms of an English debating club would have been startling and
mysterious paradoxes to the most enlightened statesmen of Athens. But
it would be as absurd to speak contemptuously of the Athenian on this
account as to ridicule Strabo for not having given us an account of
Chili, or to talk of Ptolemy as we talk of Sir Richard Phillips. Still,
when we wish for solid geographical information, we must prefer the
solemn coxcombry of Pinkerton to the noble work of Strabo. If we wanted
instruction respecting the solar system, we should consult the silliest
girl from a boarding-school, rather than Ptolemy.

Thucydides was undoubtedly a sagacious and reflecting man. This clearly
appears from the ability with which he discusses practical questions.
But the talent of deciding on the circumstances of a particular case is
often possessed in the highest perfection by persons destitute of
the power of generalisation. Men skilled in the military tactics
of civilised nations have been amazed at the far-sightedness and
penetration which a Mohawk displays in concerting his stratagems, or in
discerning those of his enemies. In England, no class possesses so much
of that peculiar ability which is required for constructing ingenious
schemes, and for obviating remote difficulties, as the thieves and the
thief-takers. Women have more of this dexterity than men. Lawyers have
more of it than statesmen: statesmen have more of it than philosophers.
Monk had more of it than Harrington and all his club. Walpole had more
of it than Adam Smith or Beccaria. Indeed, the species of discipline
by which this dexterity is acquired tends to contract the mind, and to
render it incapable of abstract reasoning.

The Grecian statesmen of the age of Thucydides were distinguished by
their practical sagacity, their insight into motives, their skill in
devising means for the attainment of their ends. A state of society in
which the rich were constantly planning the oppression of the poor,
and the poor the spoliation of the rich, in which the ties of party
had superseded those of country, in which revolutions and
counter-revolutions were events of daily occurrence, was naturally
prolific in desperate and crafty political adventurers. This was the
very school in which men were likely to acquire the dissimulation of
Mazarin, the judicious temerity of Richelieu, the penetration, the
exquisite tact, the almost instinctive presentiment of approaching
events which gave so much authority to the counsel of Shaftesbury, that
"it was as if a man had inquired of the oracle of God." In this school
Thucydides studied; and his wisdom is that which such a school would
naturally afford. He judges better of circumstances than of principles.
The more a question is narrowed, the better he reasons upon it. His
work suggests many most important considerations respecting the first
principles of government and morals, the growth of factions, the
organisation of armies, and the mutual relations of communities. Yet
all his general observations on these subjects are very superficial. His
most judicious remarks differ from the remarks of a really philosophical
historian, as a sum correctly cast up by a bookkeeper from a general
expression discovered by an algebraist. The former is useful only in a
single transaction; the latter may be applied to an infinite number of
cases.

This opinion will, we fear, be considered as heterodox. For, not to
speak of the illusion which the sight of a Greek type, or the sound of
a Greek diphthong, often produces, there are some peculiarities in the
manner of Thucydides which in no small degree have tended to secure to
him the reputation of profundity. His book is evidently the book of a
man and a statesman; and in this respect presents a remarkable contrast
to the delightful childishness of Herodotus. Throughout it there is
an air of matured power, of grave and melancholy reflection, of
impartiality and habitual self-command. His feelings are rarely
indulged, and speedily repressed. Vulgar prejudices of every kind,
and particularly vulgar superstitions, he treats with a cold and
sober disdain peculiar to himself. His style is weighty, condensed,
antithetical, and not unfrequently obscure. But, when we look at his
political philosophy, without regard to these circumstances, we find
him to have been, what indeed it would have been a miracle if he had not
been, simply an Athenian of the fifth century before Christ.

Xenophon is commonly placed, but we think without much reason, in the
same rank with Herodotus and Thucydides. He resembles them, indeed,
in the purity and sweetness of his style; but in spirit, he rather
resembles that later school of historians whose works seem to be fables
composed for a moral, and who, in their eagerness to give us warnings
and examples, forget to give us men and women. The Life of Cyrus,
whether we look upon it as a history or as a romance, seems to us a
very wretched performance. The Expedition of the Ten Thousand, and the
History of Grecian Affairs, are certainly pleasant reading; but they
indicate no great power of mind. In truth, Xenophon, though his taste
was elegant, his disposition amiable, and his intercourse with the world
extensive, had, we suspect, rather a weak head. Such was evidently the
opinion of that extraordinary man to whom he early attached himself,
and for whose memory he entertained an idolatrous veneration. He came in
only for the milk with which Socrates nourished his babes in philosophy.
A few saws of morality, and a few of the simplest doctrines of natural
religion, were enough for the good young man. The strong meat, the bold
speculations on physical and metaphysical science, were reserved for
auditors of a different description. Even the lawless habits of a
captain of mercenary troops could not change the tendency which the
character of Xenophon early acquired. To the last, he seems to have
retained a sort of heathen Puritanism. The sentiments of piety and
virtue which abound in his works are those of a well-meaning man,
somewhat timid and narrow-minded, devout from constitution rather than
from rational conviction. He was as superstitious as Herodotus, but in
a way far more offensive. The very peculiarities which charm us in
an infant, the toothless mumbling, the stammering, the tottering, the
helplessness, the causeless tears and laughter, are disgusting in
old age. In the same manner, the absurdity which precedes a period
of general intelligence is often pleasing; that which follows it is
contemptible. The nonsense of Herodotus is that of a baby. The nonsense
of Xenophon is that of a dotard. His stories about dreams, omens, and
prophecies, present a strange contrast to the passages in which the
shrewd and incredulous Thucydides mentions the popular superstitions.
It is not quite clear that Xenophon was honest in his credulity; his
fanaticism was in some degree politic. He would have made an excellent
member of the Apostolic Camarilla. An alarmist by nature, an aristocrat
by party, he carried to an unreasonable excess his horror of popular
turbulence. The quiet atrocity of Sparta did not shock him in the same
manner; for he hated tumult more than crimes. He was desirous to find
restraints which might curb the passions of the multitude; and he
absurdly fancied that he had found them in a religion without
evidences or sanction, precepts or example, in a frigid system of
Theophilanthropy, supported by nursery tales.

Polybius and Arrian have given us authentic accounts of facts; and here
their merit ends. They were not men of comprehensive minds; they had
not the art of telling a story in an interesting manner. They have
in consequence been thrown into the shade by writers who, though less
studious of truth than themselves, understood far better the art of
producing effect,--by Livy and Quintus Curtius.

Yet Polybius and Arrian deserve high praise when compared with the
writers of that school of which Plutarch may be considered as the head.
For the historians of this class we must confess that we entertain a
peculiar aversion. They seem to have been pedants, who, though destitute
of those valuable qualities which are frequently found in conjunction
with pedantry, thought themselves great philosophers and great
politicians. They not only mislead their readers in every page, as to
particular facts, but they appear to have altogether misconceived the
whole character of the times of which they write. They were inhabitants
of an empire bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Euphrates, by the
ice of Scythia and the sands of Mauritania; composed of nations whose
manners, whose languages, whose religion, whose countenances and
complexions, were widely different; governed by one mighty despotism,
which had risen on the ruins of a thousand commonwealths and kingdoms.
Of liberty, such as it is in small democracies, of patriotism, such as
it is in small independent communities of any kind, they had, and they
could have, no experimental knowledge. But they had read of men who
exerted themselves in the cause of their country with an energy unknown
in later times, who had violated the dearest of domestic charities, or
voluntarily devoted themselves to death for the public good; and they
wondered at the degeneracy of their contemporaries. It never occurred to
them that the feelings which they so greatly admired sprung from local
and occasional causes; that they will always grow up spontaneously in
small societies; and that, in large empires, though they may be forced
into existence for a short time by peculiar circumstances, they cannot
be general or permanent. It is impossible that any man should feel for
a fortress on a remote frontier as he feels for his own house; that he
should grieve for a defeat in which ten thousand people whom he never
saw have fallen as he grieves for a defeat which has half unpeopled the
street in which he lives; that he should leave his home for a military
expedition in order to preserve the balance of power, as cheerfully as
he would leave it to repel invaders who had begun to burn all the corn
fields in his neighbourhood.

The writers of whom we speak should have considered this. They should
have considered that in patriotism, such as it existed amongst the
Greeks, there was nothing essentially and eternally good; that an
exclusive attachment to a particular society, though a natural,
and, under certain restrictions, a most useful sentiment, implies
no extraordinary attainments in wisdom or virtue; that, where it has
existed in an intense degree, it has turned states into gangs of robbers
whom their mutual fidelity has rendered more dangerous, has given a
character of peculiar atrocity to war, and has generated that worst of
all political evils, the tyranny of nations over nations.

Enthusiastically attached to the name of liberty, these historians
troubled themselves little about its definition. The Spartans, tormented
by ten thousand absurd restraints, unable to please themselves in the
choice of their wives, their suppers, or their company, compelled to
assume a peculiar manner, and to talk in a peculiar style, gloried in
their liberty. The aristocracy of Rome repeatedly made liberty a plea
for cutting off the favourites of the people. In almost all the little
commonwealths of antiquity, liberty was used as a pretext for measures
directed against everything which makes liberty valuable, for measures
which stifled discussion, corrupted the administration of justice, and
discouraged the accumulation of property. The writers, whose works we
are considering, confounded the sound with the substance, and the
means with the end. Their imaginations were inflamed by mystery. They
conceived of liberty as monks conceive of love, as cockneys conceive of
the happiness and innocence of rural life, as novel-reading sempstresses
conceive of Almack's and Grosvenor Square, accomplished Marquesses and
handsome Colonels of the Guards. In the relation of events, and the
delineation of characters, they have paid little attention to facts,
to the costume of the times of which they pretend to treat, or to the
general principles of human nature. They have been faithful only to
their own puerile and extravagant doctrines. Generals and statesmen are
metamorphosed into magnanimous coxcombs, from whose fulsome virtues we
turn away with disgust. The fine sayings and exploits of their heroes
remind us of the insufferable perfections of Sir Charles Grandison, and
affect us with a nausea similar to that which we feel when an actor,
in one of Morton's or Kotzebue's plays, lays his hand on his heart,
advances to the ground-lights, and mouths a moral sentence for the
edification of the gods.

These writers, men who knew not what it was to have a country, men who
had never enjoyed political rights, brought into fashion an offensive
cant about patriotism and zeal for freedom. What the English Puritans
did for the language of Christianity, what Scuderi did for the language
of love, they did for the language of public spirit. By habitual
exaggeration they made it mean. By monotonous emphasis they made it
feeble. They abused it till it became scarcely possible to use it with
effect.

Their ordinary rules of morality are deduced from extreme cases. The
common regimen which they prescribe for society is made up of those
desperate remedies which only its most desperate distempers require.
They look with peculiar complacency on actions which even those
who approve them consider as exceptions to laws of almost universal
application--which bear so close an affinity to the most atrocious
crimes that, even where it may be unjust to censure them, it is unsafe
to praise them. It is not strange, therefore, that some flagitious
instances of perfidy and cruelty should have been passed unchallenged in
such company, that grave moralists, with no personal interest at stake,
should have extolled, in the highest terms, deeds of which the
atrocity appalled even the infuriated factions in whose cause they were
perpetrated. The part which Timoleon took in the assassination of his
brother shocked many of his own partisans. The recollection of it preyed
long on his own mind. But it was reserved for historians who lived some
centuries later to discover that his conduct was a glorious display of
virtue, and to lament that, from the frailty of human nature, a man who
could perform so great an exploit could repent of it.

The writings of these men, and of their modern imitators, have produced
effects which deserve some notice. The English have been so long
accustomed to political speculation, and have enjoyed so large a measure
of practical liberty, that such works have produced little effect on
their minds. We have classical associations and great names of our own
which we can confidently oppose to the most splendid of ancient times.
Senate has not to our ears a sound so venerable as Parliament. We
respect to the Great Charter more than the laws of Solon. The Capitol
and the Forum impress us with less awe than our own Westminster Hall and
Westminster Abbey, the place where the great men of twenty generations
have contended, the place where they sleep together! The list of
warriors and statesmen by whom our constitution was founded or
preserved, from De Montfort down to Fox, may well stand a comparison
with the Fasti of Rome. The dying thanksgiving of Sidney is as noble as
the libation which Thrasea poured to Liberating Jove: and we think
with far less pleasure of Cato tearing out his entrails than of Russell
saying, as he turned away from his wife, that the bitterness of death
was past. Even those parts of our history over which, on some accounts,
we would gladly throw a veil may be proudly opposed to those on which
the moralists of antiquity loved most to dwell. The enemy of English
liberty was not murdered by men whom he had pardoned and loaded with
benefits. He was not stabbed in the back by those who smiled and cringed
before his face. He was vanquished on fields of stricken battle; he was
arraigned, sentenced, and executed in the face of heaven and earth. Our
liberty is neither Greek nor Roman; but essentially English. It has
a character of its own,--a character which has taken a tinge from
the sentiments of the chivalrous ages, and which accords with the
peculiarities of our manners and of our insular situation. It has a
language, too, of its own, and a language singularly idiomatic, full of
meaning to ourselves, scarcely intelligible to strangers.

Here, therefore, the effect of books such as those which we have been
considering has been harmless. They have, indeed, given currency to
many very erroneous opinions with respect to ancient history. They
have heated the imaginations of boys. They have misled the judgment and
corrupted the taste of some men of letters, such as Akenside and Sir
William Jones. But on persons engaged in public affairs they have had
very little influence. The foundations of our constitution were laid
by men who knew nothing of the Greeks but that they denied the orthodox
procession and cheated the Crusaders; and nothing of Rome, but that
the Pope lived there. Those who followed, contented themselves with
improving on the original plan. They found models at home and therefore
they did not look for them abroad. But, when enlightened men on the
Continent began to think about political reformation, having no patterns
before their eyes in their domestic history, they naturally had
recourse to those remains of antiquity, the study of which is considered
throughout Europe as an important part of education. The historians of
whom we have been speaking had been members of large communities, and
subjects of absolute sovereigns. Hence it is, as we have already said,
that they commit such gross errors in speaking of the little republics
of antiquity. Their works were now read in the spirit in which they
had been written. They were read by men placed in circumstances closely
resembling their own, unacquainted with the real nature of liberty, but
inclined to believe everything good which could be told respecting it.
How powerfully these books impressed these speculative reformers, is
well known to all who have paid any attention to the French literature
of the last century. But, perhaps, the writer on whom they produced the
greatest effect was Vittorio Alfieri. In some of his plays, particularly
in Virginia, Timoleon, and Brutus the Younger, he has even caricatured
the extravagance of his masters.

It was not strange that the blind, thus led by the blind, should
stumble. The transactions of the French Revolution, in some measure,
took their character from these works. Without the assistance of these
works, indeed, a revolution would have taken place,--a revolution
productive of much good and much evil, tremendous but shortlived, evil
dearly purchased, but durable good. But it would not have been exactly
such a revolution. The style, the accessories, would have been in many
respects different. There would have been less of bombast in language,
less of affectation in manner, less of solemn trifling and ostentatious
simplicity. The acts of legislative assemblies, and the correspondence
of diplomatists, would not have been disgraced by rants worthy only of a
college declamation. The government of a great and polished nation would
not have rendered itself ridiculous by attempting to revive the usages
of a world which had long passed away, or rather of a world which
had never existed except in the description of a fantastic school of
writers. These second-hand imitations resembled the originals about as
much as the classical feast with which the Doctor in Peregrine Pickle
turned the stomachs of all his guests resembled one of the suppers of
Lucullus in the Hall of Apollo.

These were mere follies. But the spirit excited by these writers
produced more serious effects. The greater part of the crimes which
disgraced the revolution sprung indeed from the relaxation of law, from
popular ignorance, from the remembrance of past oppression, from
the fear of foreign conquest, from rapacity, from ambition, from
party-spirit. But many atrocious proceedings must, doubtless, be
ascribed to heated imagination, to perverted principle, to a distaste
for what was vulgar in morals, and a passion for what was startling and
dubious. Mr Burke has touched on this subject with great felicity of
expression: "The gradation of their republic," says he, "is laid in
moral paradoxes. All those instances to be found in history, whether
real or fabulous, of a doubtful public spirit, at which morality
is perplexed, reason is staggered, and from which affrighted nature
recoils, are their chosen and almost sole examples for the instruction
of their youth." This evil, we believe, is to be directly ascribed to
the influence of the historians whom we have mentioned, and their modern
imitators.

Livy had some faults in common with these writers. But on the whole he
must be considered as forming a class by himself: no historian with whom
we are acquainted has shown so complete an indifference to truth. He
seems to have cared only about the picturesque effect of his book, and
the honour of his country. On the other hand, we do not know, in the
whole range of literature, an instance of a bad thing so well done. The
painting of the narrative is beyond description vivid and graceful. The
abundance of interesting sentiments and splendid imagery in the speeches
is almost miraculous. His mind is a soil which is never over-teemed, a
fountain which never seems to trickle. It pours forth profusely; yet
it gives no sign of exhaustion. It was probably to this exuberance of
thought and language, always fresh, always sweet, always pure, no sooner
yielded than repaired, that the critics applied that expression which
has been so much discussed lactea ubertas.

All the merits and all the defects of Livy take a colouring from the
character of his nation. He was a writer peculiarly Roman; the proud
citizen of a commonwealth which had indeed lost the reality of liberty,
but which still sacredly preserved its forms--in fact, the subject of
an arbitrary prince, but in his own estimation one of the masters of the
world, with a hundred kings below him, and only the gods above him. He,
therefore, looked back on former times with feelings far different from
those which were naturally entertained by his Greek contemporaries, and
which at a later period became general among men of letters throughout
the Roman Empire. He contemplated the past with interest and delight,
not because it furnished a contrast to the present, but because it
had led to the present. He recurred to it, not to lose in proud
recollections the sense of national degradation, but to trace the
progress of national glory. It is true that his veneration for antiquity
produced on him some of the effects which it produced on those who
arrived at it by a very different road. He has something of their
exaggeration, something of their cant, something of their fondness for
anomalies and lusus naturae in morality. Yet even here we perceive
a difference. They talk rapturously of patriotism and liberty in the
abstract. He does not seem to think any country but Rome deserving of
love; nor is it for liberty as liberty, but for liberty as a part of the
Roman institutions, that he is zealous.

Of the concise and elegant accounts of the campaigns of Caesar little
can be said. They are incomparable models for military despatches. But
histories they are not, and do not pretend to be.

The ancient critics placed Sallust in the same rank with Livy; and
unquestionably the small portion of his works which has come down to us
is calculated to give a high opinion of his talents. But his style
is not very pleasant: and his most powerful work, the account of the
Conspiracy of Catiline, has rather the air of a clever party pamphlet
than that of a history. It abounds with strange inconsistencies, which,
unexplained as they are, necessarily excite doubts as to the fairness
of the narrative. It is true, that many circumstances now forgotten may
have been familiar to his contemporaries, and may have rendered passages
clear to them which to us appear dubious and perplexing. But a great
historian should remember that he writes for distant generations, for
men who will perceive the apparent contradictions, and will possess no
means of reconciling them. We can only vindicate the fidelity of Sallust
at the expense of his skill. But in fact all the information which we
have from contemporaries respecting this famous plot is liable to the
same objection, and is read by discerning men with the same incredulity.
It is all on one side. No answer has reached our times. Yet on the
showing of the accusers the accused seem entitled to acquittal.
Catiline, we are told, intrigued with a Vestal virgin, and murdered his
own son. His house was a den of gamblers and debauchees. No young man
could cross his threshold without danger to his fortune and reputation.
Yet this is the man with whom Cicero was willing to coalesce in a
contest for the first magistracy of the republic; and whom he described,
long after the fatal termination of the conspiracy, as an accomplished
hypocrite, by whom he had himself been deceived, and who had acted with
consummate skill the character of a good citizen and a good friend. We
are told that the plot was the most wicked and desperate ever known,
and, almost in the same breath, that the great body of the people, and
many of the nobles, favoured it; that the richest citizens of Rome were
eager for the spoliation of all property, and its highest functionaries
for the destruction of all order; that Crassus, Caesar, the Praetor
Lentulus, one of the consuls of the year, one of the consuls elect,
were proved or suspected to be engaged in a scheme for subverting
institutions to which they owed the highest honours, and introducing
universal anarchy. We are told that a government, which knew all this,
suffered the conspirator, whose rank, talents, and courage rendered
him most dangerous, to quit Rome without molestation. We are told that
bondmen and gladiators were to be armed against the citizens. Yet we
find that Catiline rejected the slaves who crowded to enlist in his
army, lest, as Sallust himself expresses it, "he should seem to identify
their cause with that of the citizens." Finally, we are told that the
magistrate, who was universally allowed to have saved all classes of
his countrymen from conflagration and massacre, rendered himself so
unpopular by his conduct that a marked insult was offered to him at
the expiration of his office, and a severe punishment inflicted on him
shortly after.

Sallust tells us, what, indeed, the letters and speeches of Cicero
sufficiently prove, that some persons consider the shocking, and
atrocious parts of the plot as mere inventions of the government,
designed to excuse its unconstitutional measures. We must confess
ourselves to be of that opinion. There was, undoubtedly, a strong party
desirous to change the administration. While Pompey held the command of
an army, they could not effect their purpose without preparing means for
repelling force, if necessary, by force. In all this there is nothing
different from the ordinary practice of Roman factions. The other
charges brought against the conspirators are so inconsistent and
improbable, that we give no credit whatever to them. If our readers
think this scepticism unreasonable, let them turn to the contemporary
accounts of the Popish plot. Let them look over the votes of Parliament,
and the speeches of the king; the charges of Scroggs, and the harangues
of the managers employed against Strafford. A person who should form his
judgment from these pieces alone would believe that London was set on
fire by the Papists, and that Sir Edmondbury Godfrey was murdered for
his religion. Yet these stories are now altogether exploded. They have
been abandoned by statesmen to aldermen, by aldermen to clergymen, by
clergymen to old women, and by old women to Sir Harcourt Lees.

Of the Latin historians, Tacitus was certainly the greatest. His
style, indeed, is not only faulty in itself, but is, in some respects,
peculiarly unfit for historical composition. He carries his love of
effect far beyond the limits of moderation. He tells a fine story
finely, but he cannot tell a plain story plainly. He stimulates till
stimulants lose their power. Thucydides, as we have already observed,
relates ordinary transactions with the unpretending clearness and
succinctness of a gazette. His great powers of painting he reserves for
events of which the slightest details are interesting. The simplicity
of the setting gives additional lustre to the brilliants. There are
passages in the narrative of Tacitus superior to the best which can be
quoted from Thucydides. But they are not enchased and relieved with the
same skill. They are far more striking when extracted from the body of
the work to which they belong than when they occur in their place, and
are read in connection with what precedes and follows.

In the delineation of character, Tacitus is unrivalled among historians,
and has very few superiors among dramatists and novelists. By the
delineation of character, we do not mean the practice of drawing up
epigrammatic catalogues of good and bad qualities, and appending them
to the names of eminent men. No writer, indeed, has done this more
skilfully than Tacitus; but this is not his peculiar glory. All the
persons who occupy a large space in his works have an individuality of
character which seems to pervade all their words and actions. We know
them as if we had lived with them. Claudius, Nero, Otho, both the
Agrippinas, are masterpieces. But Tiberius is a still higher miracle of
art. The historian undertook to make us intimately acquainted with a man
singularly dark and inscrutable,--with a man whose real disposition long
remained swathed up in intricate folds of factitious virtues, and over
whose actions the hypocrisy of his youth, and the seclusion of his old
age, threw a singular mystery. He was to exhibit the specious qualities
of the tyrant in a light which might render them transparent, and enable
us at once to perceive the covering and the vices which it concealed. He
was to trace the gradations by which the first magistrate of a republic,
a senator mingling freely in debate, a noble associating with his
brother nobles, was transformed into an Asiatic sultan; he was to
exhibit a character, distinguished by courage, self-command, and
profound policy, yet defiled by all

     "th' extravagancy
     And crazy ribaldry of fancy."

He was to mark the gradual effect of advancing age and approaching death
on this strange compound of strength and weakness; to exhibit the old
sovereign of the world sinking into a dotage which, though it rendered
his appetites eccentric, and his temper savage, never impaired the
powers of his stern and penetrating mind--conscious of failing strength,
raging with capricious sensuality, yet to the last the keenest of
observers, the most artful of dissemblers, and the most terrible of
masters. The task was one of extreme difficulty. The execution is almost
perfect.

The talent which is required to write history thus bears a considerable
affinity to the talent of a great dramatist. There is one obvious
distinction. The dramatist creates; the historian only disposes.
The difference is not in the mode of execution, but in the mode
of conception. Shakspeare is guided by a model which exists in his
imagination; Tacitus, by a model furnished from without. Hamlet is to
Tiberius what the Laocoon is to the Newton of Roubilliac.

In this part of his art Tacitus certainly had neither equal nor second
among the ancient historians. Herodotus, though he wrote in a dramatic
form, had little of dramatic genius. The frequent dialogues which he
introduces give vivacity and movement to the narrative, but are not
strikingly characteristic. Xenophon is fond of telling his readers, at
considerable length, what he thought of the persons whose adventures he
relates. But he does not show them the men, and enable them to judge for
themselves. The heroes of Livy are the most insipid of all beings, real
or imaginary, the heroes of Plutarch always excepted. Indeed, the
manner of Plutarch in this respect reminds us of the cookery of those
continental inns, the horror of English travellers, in which a certain
nondescript broth is kept constantly boiling, and copiously poured,
without distinction, over every dish as it comes up to table.
Thucydides, though at a wide interval, comes next to Tacitus.
His Pericles, his Nicias, his Cleon, his Brasidas, are happily
discriminated. The lines are few, the colouring faint: but the general
air and expression is caught.

We begin, like the priest in Don Quixote's library, to be tired with
taking down books one after another for separate judgment, and feel
inclined to pass sentence on them in masses. We shall therefore,
instead of pointing out the defects and merits of the different modern
historians, state generally in what particulars they have surpassed
their predecessors, and in what we conceive them to have failed.

They have certainly been, in one sense, far more strict in their
adherence to truth than most of the Greek and Roman writers. They do
not think themselves entitled to render their narrative interesting by
introducing descriptions, conversations, and harangues which have no
existence but in their own imagination. This improvement was gradually
introduced. History commenced among the modern nations of Europe, as it
had commenced among the Greeks, in romance. Froissart was our Herodotus.
Italy was to Europe what Athens was to Greece. In Italy, therefore,
a more accurate and manly mode of narration was early introduced.
Machiavelli and Guicciardini, in imitation of Livy and Thucydides,
composed speeches for their historical personages. But, as the classical
enthusiasm which distinguished the age of Lorenzo and Leo gradually
subsided, this absurd practice was abandoned. In France, we fear, it
still, in some degree, keeps its ground. In our own country, a writer
who should venture on it would be laughed to scorn. Whether the
historians of the last two centuries tell more truth than those of
antiquity, may perhaps be doubted. But it is quite certain that they
tell fewer falsehoods.

In the philosophy of history, the moderns have very far surpassed the
ancients. It is not, indeed, strange that the Greeks and Romans should
not have carried the science of government, or any other experimental
science, so far as it has been carried in our time; for the experimental
sciences are generally in a state of progression. They were better
understood in the seventeenth century than in the sixteenth, and in
the eighteenth century than in the seventeenth. But this constant
improvement, this natural growth of knowledge, will not altogether
account for the immense superiority of the modern writers. The
difference is a difference not in degree, but of kind. It is not merely
that new principles have been discovered, but that new faculties seem to
be exerted. It is not that at one time the human intellect should have
made but small progress, and at another time have advanced far: but
that at one time it should have been stationary, and at another time
constantly proceeding. In taste and imagination, in the graces of style,
in the arts of persuasion, in the magnificence of public works, the
ancients were at least our equals. They reasoned as justly as ourselves
on subjects which required pure demonstration. But in the moral sciences
they made scarcely any advance. During the long period which elapsed
between the fifth century before the Christian era and the fifth century
after it little perceptible progress was made. All the metaphysical
discoveries of all the philosophers, from the time of Socrates to the
northern invasion, are not to be compared in importance with those which
have been made in England every fifty years since the time of Elizabeth.
There is not the least reason to believe that the principles of
government, legislation, and political economy, were better understood
in the time of Augustus Caesar than in the time of Pericles. In our
own country, the sound doctrines of trade and jurisprudence have
been, within the lifetime of a single generation, dimly hinted, boldly
propounded, defended, systematised, adopted by all reflecting men of all
parties, quoted in legislative assemblies, incorporated into laws and
treaties.

To what is this change to be attributed? Partly, no doubt, to the
discovery of printing, a discovery which has not only diffused knowledge
widely, but, as we have already observed, has also introduced into
reasoning a precision unknown in those ancient communities, in which
information, was, for the most part, conveyed orally. There was, we
suspect, another cause, less obvious, but still more powerful.

The spirit of the two most famous nations of antiquity was remarkably
exclusive. In the time of Homer the Greeks had not begun to consider
themselves as a distinct race. They still looked with something of
childish wonder and awe on the riches and wisdom of Sidon and Egypt.
From what causes, and by what gradations, their feelings underwent a
change, it is not easy to determine. Their history, from the Trojan to
the Persian war, is covered with an obscurity broken only by dim and
scattered gleams of truth. But it is certain that a great alteration
took place. They regarded themselves as a separate people. They had
common religious rites, and common principles of public law, in which
foreigners had no part. In all their political systems, monarchical,
aristocratical, and democratical, there was a strong family likeness.
After the retreat of Xerxes and the fall of Mardonius, national pride
rendered the separation between the Greeks and the barbarians complete.
The conquerors considered themselves men of a superior breed, men who,
in their intercourse with neighbouring nations, were to teach, and
not to learn. They looked for nothing out of themselves. They borrowed
nothing. They translated nothing. We cannot call to mind a single
expression of any Greek writer earlier than the age of Augustus,
indicating an opinion that anything worth reading could be written in
any language except his own. The feelings which sprung from national
glory were not altogether extinguished by national degradation. They
were fondly cherished through ages of slavery and shame. The literature
of Rome herself was regarded with contempt by those who had fled before
her arms, and who bowed beneath her fasces. Voltaire says, in one of his
six thousand pamphlets, that he was the first person who told the French
that England had produced eminent men besides the Duke of Marlborough.
Down to a very late period, the Greeks seem to have stood in need of
similar information with respect to their masters. With Paulus Aemilius,
Sylla, and Caesar, they were well acquainted. But the notions which
they entertained respecting Cicero and Virgil were, probably, not unlike
those which Boileau may have formed about Shakspeare. Dionysius lived
in the most splendid age of Latin poetry and eloquence. He was a
critic, and, after the manner of his age, an able critic. He studied
the language of Rome, associated with its learned men, and compiled its
history. Yet he seems to have thought its literature valuable only for
the purpose of illustrating its antiquities. His reading appears to have
been confined to its public records, and to a few old annalists. Once,
and but once, if we remember rightly, he quotes Ennius, to solve a
question of etymology. He has written much on the art of oratory: yet he
has not mentioned the name of Cicero.

The Romans submitted to the pretensions of a race which they despised.
Their epic poet, while he claimed for them pre-eminence in the arts of
government and war, acknowledged their inferiority in taste, eloquence,
and science. Men of letters affected to understand the Greek language
better than their own. Pomponius preferred the honour of becoming an
Athenian, by intellectual naturalisation, to all the distinctions which
were to be acquired in the political contests of Rome. His great
friend composed Greek poems and memoirs. It is well-known that Petrarch
considered that beautiful language in which his sonnets are written,
as a barbarous jargon, and intrusted his fame to those wretched Latin
hexameters which, during the last four centuries, have scarcely found
four readers. Many eminent Romans appear to have felt the same contempt
for their native tongue as compared with the Greek. The prejudice
continued to a very late period. Julian was as partial to the Greek
language as Frederic the Great to the French: and it seems that he could
not express himself with elegance in the dialect of the state which he
ruled.

Even those Latin writers who did not carry this affectation so far
looked on Greece as the only fount of knowledge. From Greece they
derived the measures of their poetry, and, indeed, all of poetry that
can be imported. From Greece they borrowed the principles and the
vocabulary of their philosophy. To the literature of other nations they
do not seem to have paid the slightest attention. The sacred books
of the Hebrews, for example, books which, considered merely as human
compositions, are invaluable to the critic, the antiquarian, and
the philosopher, seem to have been utterly unnoticed by them. The
peculiarities of Judaism, and the rapid growth of Christianity,
attracted their notice. They made war against the Jews. They made
laws against the Christians. But they never opened the books of Moses.
Juvenal quotes the Pentateuch with censure. The author of the treatise
on "the Sublime" quotes it with praise: but both of them quote it
erroneously. When we consider what sublime poetry, what curious history,
what striking and peculiar views of the Divine nature and of the
social duties of men, are to be found in the Jewish scriptures, when
we consider that two sects on which the attention of the government was
constantly fixed appealed to those scriptures as the rule of their faith
and practice, this indifference is astonishing. The fact seems to be,
that the Greeks admired only themselves, and that the Romans admired
only themselves and the Greeks. Literary men turned away with disgust
from modes of thought and expression so widely different from all
that they had been accustomed to admire. The effect was narrowness and
sameness of thought. Their minds, if we may so express ourselves, bred
in and in, and were accordingly cursed with barrenness and degeneracy.
No extraneous beauty or vigour was engrafted on the decaying stock. By
an exclusive attention to one class of phenomena, by an exclusive
taste for one species of excellence, the human intellect was stunted.
Occasional coincidences were turned into general rules. Prejudices were
confounded with instincts. On man, as he was found in a particular state
of society--on government, as it had existed in a particular corner
of the world, many just observations were made; but of man as man,
or government as government, little was known. Philosophy remained
stationary. Slight changes, sometimes for the worse and sometimes for
the better, were made in the superstructure. But nobody thought of
examining the foundations.

The vast despotism of the Caesars, gradually effacing all national
peculiarities, and assimilating the remotest provinces of the empire to
each other, augmented the evil. At the close of the third century after
Christ, the prospects of mankind were fearfully dreary. A system of
etiquette, as pompously frivolous as that of the Escurial, had been
established. A sovereign almost invisible; a crowd of dignitaries
minutely distinguished by badges and titles; rhetoricians who said
nothing but what had been said ten thousand times; schools in which
nothing was taught but what had been known for ages: such was the
machinery provided for the government and instruction of the most
enlightened part of the human race. That great community was then in
danger of experiencing a calamity far more terrible than any of
the quick, inflammatory, destroying maladies, to which nations are
liable,--a tottering, drivelling, paralytic longevity, the immortality
of the Struldbrugs, a Chinese civilisation. It would be easy to indicate
many points of resemblance between the subjects of Diocletian and the
people of that Celestial Empire, where, during many centuries, nothing
has been learned or unlearned; where government, where education, where
the whole system of life, is a ceremony; where knowledge forgets to
increase and multiply, and, like the talent buried in the earth, or
the pound wrapped up in the napkin, experiences neither waste no
augmentation.

The torpor was broken by two great revolutions, the one moral, the other
political, the one from within, the other from without. The victory of
Christianity over Paganism, considered with relation to this subject
only, was of great importance. It overthrew the old system of morals;
and with it much of the old system of metaphysics. It furnished the
orator with new topics of declamation, and the logician with new points
of controversy. Above all, it introduced a new principle, of which the
operation was constantly felt in every part of society. It stirred the
stagnant mass from the inmost depths. It excited all the passions of a
stormy democracy in the quiet and listless population of an overgrown
empire. The fear of heresy did what the sense of oppression could not
do; it changed men, accustomed to be turned over like sheep from tyrant
to tyrant, into devoted partisans and obstinate rebels. The tones of an
eloquence which had been silent for ages resounded from the pulpit of
Gregory. A spirit which had been extinguished on the plains of Philippi
revived in Athanasius and Ambrose.

Yet even this remedy was not sufficiently violent for the disease. It
did not prevent the empire of Constantinople from relapsing, after a
short paroxysm of excitement, into a state of stupefaction, to which
history furnishes scarcely any parallel. We there find that a polished
society, a society in which a most intricate and elaborate system of
jurisprudence was established, in which the arts of luxury were well
understood, in which the works of the great ancient writers were
preserved and studied, existed for nearly a thousand years without
making one great discovery in science, or producing one book which
is read by any but curious inquirers. There were tumults, too, and
controversies, and wars in abundance: and these things, bad as they are
in themselves, have generally been favourable to the progress of the
intellect. But here they tormented without stimulating. The waters were
troubled; but no healing influence descended. The agitations resembled
the grinnings and writhings of a galvanised corpse, not the struggles of
an athletic man.

From this miserable state the Western Empire was saved by the fiercest
and most destroying visitation with which God has ever chastened
his creatures--the invasion of the Northern nations. Such a cure was
required for such a distemper. The fire of London, it has been observed
was a blessing. It burned down the city; but it burned out the plague.
The same may be said of the tremendous devastation of the Roman
dominions. It annihilated the noisome recesses in which lurked the seeds
of great moral maladies; it cleared an atmosphere fatal to the health
and vigour of the human mind. It cost Europe a thousand years of
barbarism to escape the fate of China.

At length the terrible purification was accomplished; and the second
civilisation of mankind commenced, under circumstances which afforded a
strong security that it would never retrograde and never pause. Europe
was now a great federal community. Her numerous states were united
by the easy ties of international law and a common religion. Their
institutions, their languages, their manners, their tastes in
literature, their modes of education, were widely different. Their
connection was close enough to allow of mutual observation and
improvement, yet not so close as to destroy the idioms of national
opinion and feeling.

The balance of moral and intellectual influence thus established
between the nations of Europe is far more important than the balance
of political power. Indeed, we are inclined to think that the latter
is valuable principally because it tends to maintain the former. The
civilised world has thus been preserved from a uniformity of character
fatal to all improvement. Every part of it has been illuminated with
light reflected from every other. Competition has produced activity
where monopoly would have produced sluggishness. The number of
experiments in moral science which the speculator has an opportunity of
witnessing has been increased beyond all calculation. Society and human
nature, instead of being seen in a single point of view, are presented
to him under ten thousand different aspects. By observing the manners of
surrounding nations, by studying their literature, by comparing it with
that of his own country and of the ancient republics, he is enabled to
correct those errors into which the most acute men must fall when they
reason from a single species to a genus. He learns to distinguish
what is local from what is universal: what is transitory from what is
eternal; to discriminate between exceptions and rules; to trace the
operation of disturbing causes; to separate those general principles
which are always true and everywhere applicable from the accidental
circumstances with which, in every community, they are blended, and
with which, in an isolated community, they are confounded by the most
philosophical mind.

Hence it is that, in generalisation, the writers of modern times have
far surpassed those of antiquity. The historians of our own country are
unequalled in depth and precision of reason; and, even in the works of
our mere compilers, we often meet with speculations beyond the reach of
Thucydides or Tacitus.

But it must, at the same time, be admitted that they have characteristic
faults, so closely connected with their characteristic merits, and of
such magnitude, that it may well be doubted whether, on the whole,
this department of literature has gained or lost during the last
two-and-twenty centuries.

The best historians of later times have been seduced from truth, not
by their imagination, but by their reason. They far excel their
predecessors in the art of deducing general principles from facts. But
unhappily they have fallen into the error of distorting facts to suit
general principles. They arrive at a theory from looking at some of the
phenomena; and the remaining phenomena they strain or curtail to suit
the theory. For this purpose it is not necessary that they should assert
what is absolutely false; for all questions in morals and politics
are questions of comparison and degree. Any proposition which does not
involve a contradiction in terms may by possibility be true; and, if all
the circumstances which raise a probability in its favour, be stated and
enforced, and those which lead to an opposite conclusion be omitted or
lightly passed over, it may appear to be demonstrated. In every human
character and transaction there is a mixture of good and evil: a little
exaggeration, a little suppression, a judicious use of epithets, a
watchful and searching scepticism with respect to the evidence on one
side, a convenient credulity with respect to every report or tradition
on the other, may easily make a saint of Laud, or a tyrant of Henry the
Fourth.

This species of misrepresentation abounds in the most valuable works of
modern historians. Herodotus tells his story like a slovenly witness,
who, heated by partialities and prejudices, unacquainted with the
established rules of evidence, and uninstructed as to the obligations
of his oath, confounds what he imagines with what he has seen and heard,
and brings out facts, reports, conjectures, and fancies, in one mass.
Hume is an accomplished advocate. Without positively asserting much more
than he can prove, he gives prominence to all the circumstances which
support his case; he glides lightly over those which are unfavourable to
it; his own witnesses are applauded and encouraged; the statements which
seem to throw discredit on them are controverted; the contradictions
into which they fall are explained away; a clear and connected abstract
of their evidence is given. Everything that is offered on the other side
is scrutinised with the utmost severity; every suspicious circumstance
is a ground for comment and invective; what cannot be denied is
extenuated, or passed by without notice; concessions even are sometimes
made: but this insidious candour only increases the effect of the vast
mass of sophistry.

We have mentioned Hume as the ablest and most popular writer of his
class; but the charge which we have brought against him is one to which
all our most distinguished historians are in some degree obnoxious.
Gibbon, in particular, deserves very severe censure. Of all the numerous
culprits, however, none is more deeply guilty than Mr Mitford. We
willingly acknowledge the obligations which are due to his talents
and industry. The modern historians of Greece had been in the habit of
writing as if the world had learned nothing new during the last sixteen
hundred years. Instead of illustrating the events which they narrated
by the philosophy of a more enlightened age, they judged of antiquity by
itself alone. They seemed to think that notions, long driven from every
other corner of literature, had a prescriptive right to occupy this
last fastness. They considered all the ancient historians as equally
authentic. They scarcely made any distinction between him who related
events at which he had himself been present and him who five hundred
years after composed a philosophic romance for a society which had in
the interval undergone a complete change. It was all Greek, and all
true! The centuries which separated Plutarch from Thucydides seemed
as nothing to men who lived in an age so remote. The distance of
time produced an error similar to that which is sometimes produced by
distance of place. There are many good ladies who think that all the
people in India live together, and who charge a friend setting out for
Calcutta with kind messages to Bombay. To Rollin and Barthelemi, in the
same manner, all the classics were contemporaries.

Mr Mitford certainly introduced great improvements; he showed us that
men who wrote in Greek and Latin sometimes told lies; he showed us that
ancient history might be related in such a manner as to furnish not only
allusions to schoolboys, but important lessons to statesmen. From that
love of theatrical effect and high-flown sentiment which had poisoned
almost every other work on the same subject his book is perfectly free.
But his passion for a theory as false, and far more ungenerous, led him
substantially to violate truth in every page. Statements unfavourable
to democracy are made with unhesitating confidence, and with the utmost
bitterness of language. Every charge brought against a monarch or an
aristocracy is sifted with the utmost care. If it cannot be denied, some
palliating supposition is suggested; or we are at least reminded that
some circumstances now unknown MAY have justified what at present
appears unjustifiable. Two events are reported by the same author in
the same sentence; their truth rests on the same testimony; but the one
supports the darling hypothesis, and the other seems inconsistent with
it. The one is taken and the other is left.

The practice of distorting narrative into a conformity with theory is
a vice not so unfavourable as at first sight it may appear to the
interests of political science. We have compared the writers who indulge
in it to advocates; and we may add, that their conflicting fallacies,
like those of advocates, correct each other. It has always been held,
in the most enlightened nations, that a tribunal will decide a judicial
question most fairly when it has heard two able men argue, as unfairly
as possible, on the two opposite sides of it; and we are inclined
to think that this opinion is just. Sometimes, it is true, superior
eloquence and dexterity will make the worse appear the better reason;
but it is at least certain that the judge will be compelled to
contemplate the case under two different aspects. It is certain that no
important consideration will altogether escape notice.

This is at present the state of history. The poet laureate appears for
the Church of England, Lingard for the Church of Rome. Brodie has moved
to set aside the verdicts obtained by Hume; and the cause in which
Mitford succeeded is, we understand, about to be reheard. In the midst
of these disputes, however, history proper, if we may use the term, is
disappearing. The high, grave, impartial summing up of Thucydides is
nowhere to be found.

While our historians are practising all the arts of controversy, they
miserably neglect the art of narration, the art of interesting the
affections and presenting pictures to the imagination. That a writer may
produce these effects without violating truth is sufficiently proved
by many excellent biographical works. The immense popularity which
well-written books of this kind have acquired deserves the serious
consideration of historians. Voltaire's Charles the Twelfth, Marmontel's
Memoirs, Boswell's Life of Johnson, Southey's account of Nelson, are
perused with delight by the most frivolous and indolent. Whenever
any tolerable book of the same description makes its appearance, the
circulating libraries are mobbed; the book societies are in commotion;
the new novel lies uncut; the magazines and newspapers fill their
columns with extracts. In the meantime histories of great empires,
written by men of eminent ability, lie unread on the shelves of
ostentatious libraries.

The writers of history seem to entertain an aristocratical contempt for
the writers of memoirs. They think it beneath the dignity of men who
describe the revolutions of nations to dwell on the details which
constitute the charm of biography. They have imposed on themselves a
code of conventional decencies as absurd as that which has been the
bane of the French drama. The most characteristic and interesting
circumstances are omitted or softened down, because, as we are told,
they are too trivial for the majesty of history. The majesty of history
seems to resemble the majesty of the poor King of Spain, who died a
martyr to ceremony because the proper dignitaries were not at hand to
render him assistance.

That history would be more amusing if this etiquette were relaxed will,
we suppose, be acknowledged. But would it be less dignified or less
useful? What do we mean when we say that one past event is important and
another insignificant? No past event has any intrinsic importance.
The knowledge of it is valuable only as it leads us to form just
calculations with respect to the future. A history which does not
serve this purpose, though it may be filled with battles, treaties, and
commotions, is as useless as the series of turnpike tickets collected by
Sir Matthew Mite.

Let us suppose that Lord Clarendon, instead of filling hundreds of folio
pages with copies of state papers, in which the same assertions
and contradictions are repeated till the reader is overpowered with
weariness, had condescended to be the Boswell of the Long Parliament.
Let us suppose that he had exhibited to us the wise and lofty
self-government of Hampden, leading while he seemed to follow, and
propounding unanswerable arguments in the strongest forms with the
modest air of an inquirer anxious for information; the delusions which
misled the noble spirit of Vane; the coarse fanaticism which concealed
the yet loftier genius of Cromwell, destined to control a motionless
army and a factious people, to abase the flag of Holland, to arrest
the victorious arms of Sweden, and to hold the balance firm between the
rival monarchies of France and Spain. Let us suppose that he had made
his Cavaliers and Roundheads talk in their own style; that he had
reported some of the ribaldry of Rupert's pages, and some of the cant of
Harrison and Fleetwood. Would not his work in that case have been more
interesting? Would it not have been more accurate?

A history in which every particular incident may be true may on the
whole be false. The circumstances which have most influence on the
happiness of mankind, the changes of manners and morals, the transition
of communities from poverty to wealth, from knowledge to ignorance,
from ferocity to humanity--these are, for the most part, noiseless
revolutions. Their progress is rarely indicated by what historians are
pleased to call important events. They are not achieved by armies, or
enacted by senates. They are sanctioned by no treaties, and recorded
in no archives. They are carried on in every school, in every church,
behind ten thousand counters, at ten thousand firesides. The upper
current of society presents no certain criterion by which we can judge
of the direction in which the under current flows. We read of defeats
and victories. But we know that nations may be miserable amidst
victories and prosperous amidst defeats. We read of the fall of wise
ministers and of the rise of profligate favourites. But we must remember
how small a proportion the good or evil effected by a single statesman
can bear to the good or evil of a great social system.

Bishop Watson compares a geologist to a gnat mounted on an elephant,
and laying down theories as to the whole internal structure of the vast
animal, from the phenomena of the hide. The comparison is unjust to the
geologists; but is very applicable to those historians who write as
if the body politic were homogeneous, who look only on the surface of
affairs, and never think of the mighty and various organisation which
lies deep below.

In the works of such writers as these, England, at the close of the
Seven Years' War, is in the highest state of prosperity: at the close of
the American war she is in a miserable and degraded condition; as if
the people were not on the whole as rich, as well governed, and as
well educated at the latter period as at the former. We have read books
called Histories of England, under the reign of George the Second, in
which the rise of Methodism is not even mentioned. A hundred years hence
this breed of authors will, we hope, be extinct. If it should still
exist, the late ministerial interregnum will be described in terms which
will seem to imply that all government was at an end; that the social
contract was annulled; and that the hand of every man was against his
neighbour, until the wisdom and virtue of the new cabinet educed order
out of the chaos of anarchy. We are quite certain that misconceptions
as gross prevail at this moment respecting many important parts of our
annals.

The effect of historical reading is analogous, in many respects, to
that produced by foreign travel. The student, like the tourist, is
transported into a new state of society. He sees new fashions. He hears
new modes of expression. His mind is enlarged by contemplating the wide
diversities of laws, of morals, and of manners. But men may travel far,
and return with minds as contracted as if they had never stirred from
their own market-town. In the same manner, men may know the dates of
many battles and the genealogies of many royal houses, and yet be
no wiser. Most people look at past times as princes look at foreign
countries. More than one illustrious stranger has landed on our island
amidst the shouts of a mob, has dined with the king, has hunted with the
master of the stag-hounds, has seen the guards reviewed, and a knight
of the garter installed, has cantered along Regent Street, has visited
Saint Paul's, and noted down its dimensions; and has then departed,
thinking that he has seen England. He has, in fact, seen a few public
buildings, public men, and public ceremonies. But of the vast and
complex system of society, of the fine shades of national character, of
the practical operation of government and laws, he knows nothing. He who
would understand these things rightly must not confine his observations
to palaces and solemn days. He must see ordinary men as they appear in
their ordinary business and in their ordinary pleasures. He must mingle
in the crowds of the exchange and the coffee-house. He must obtain
admittance to the convivial table and the domestic hearth. He must bear
with vulgar expressions. He must not shrink from exploring even the
retreats of misery. He who wishes to understand the condition of mankind
in former ages must proceed on the same principle. If he attends only to
public transactions, to wars, congresses, and debates, his studies will
be as unprofitable as the travels of those imperial, royal, and serene
sovereigns who form their judgment of our island from having gone in
state to a few fine sights, and from having held formal conferences with
a few great officers.

The perfect historian is he in whose work the character and spirit of
an age is exhibited in miniature. He relates no fact, he attributes no
expression to his characters, which is not authenticated by sufficient
testimony. But, by judicious selection, rejection, and arrangement, he
gives to truth those attractions which have been usurped by fiction.
In his narrative a due subordination is observed: some transactions are
prominent; others retire. But the scale on which he represents them is
increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of the persons
concerned in them, but according to the degree in which they elucidate
the condition of society and the nature of man. He shows us the court,
the camp, and the senate. But he shows us also the nation. He considers
no anecdote, no peculiarity of manner, no familiar saying, as too
insignificant for his notice which is not too insignificant to
illustrate the operation of laws, of religion, and of education, and to
mark the progress of the human mind. Men will not merely be described,
but will be made intimately known to us. The changes of manners will be
indicated, not merely by a few general phrases or a few extracts from
statistical documents, but by appropriate images presented in every
line.

If a man, such as we are supposing, should write the history of England,
he would assuredly not omit the battles, the sieges, the negotiations,
the seditions, the ministerial changes. But with these he would
intersperse the details which are the charm of historical romances. At
Lincoln Cathedral there is a beautiful painted window, which was made by
an apprentice out of the pieces of glass which had been rejected by
his master. It is so far superior to every other in the church, that,
according to the tradition, the vanquished artist killed himself from
mortification. Sir Walter Scott, in the same manner, has used those
fragments of truth which historians have scornfully thrown behind them
in a manner which may well excite their envy. He has constructed out of
their gleanings works which, even considered as histories, are scarcely
less valuable than theirs. But a truly great historian would reclaim
those materials which the novelist has appropriated. The history of the
government, and the history of the people, would be exhibited in
that mode in which alone they can be exhibited justly, in inseparable
conjunction and intermixture. We should not then have to look for the
wars and votes of the Puritans in Clarendon, and for their phraseology
in Old Mortality; for one half of King James in Hume, and for the other
half in the Fortunes of Nigel.

The early part of our imaginary history would be rich with colouring
from romance, ballad, and chronicle. We should find ourselves in the
company of knights such as those of Froissart, and of pilgrims such as
those who rode with Chaucer from the Tabard. Society would be shown from
the highest to the lowest,--from the royal cloth of state to the den of
the outlaw; from the throne of the legate to the chimney-corner where
the begging friar regaled himself. Palmers, minstrels, crusaders,--the
stately monastery, with the good cheer in its refectory and the
high-mass in its chapel,--the manor-house, with its hunting and
hawking,--the tournament, with the heralds and ladies, the trumpets and
the cloth of gold,--would give truth and life to the representation.
We should perceive, in a thousand slight touches, the importance of
the privileged burgher, and the fierce and haughty spirit which swelled
under the collar of the degraded villain. The revival of letters would
not merely be described in a few magnificent periods. We should discern,
in innumerable particulars, the fermentation of mind, the eager appetite
for knowledge, which distinguished the sixteenth from the fifteenth
century. In the Reformation we should see, not merely a schism which
changed the ecclesiastical constitution of England and the mutual
relations of the European powers, but a moral war which raged in every
family, which set the father against the son, and the son against the
father, the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the
mother. Henry would be painted with the skill of Tacitus. We should have
the change of his character from his profuse and joyous youth to his
savage and imperious old age. We should perceive the gradual progress
of selfish and tyrannical passions in a mind not naturally insensible or
ungenerous; and to the last we should detect some remains of that open
and noble temper which endeared him to a people whom he oppressed,
struggling with the hardness of despotism and the irritability of
disease. We should see Elizabeth in all her weakness and in all her
strength, surrounded by the handsome favourites whom she never trusted,
and the wise old statesmen whom she never dismissed, uniting in herself
the most contradictory qualities of both her parents,--the coquetry, the
caprice, the petty malice of Anne,--the haughty and resolute spirit of
Henry. We have no hesitation in saying that a great artist might produce
a portrait of this remarkable woman at least as striking as that in the
novel of Kenilworth, without employing a single trait not authenticated
by ample testimony. In the meantime, we should see arts cultivated,
wealth accumulated, the conveniences of life improved. We should see the
keeps, where nobles, insecure themselves, spread insecurity around them,
gradually giving place to the halls of peaceful opulence, to the oriels
of Longleat, and the stately pinnacles of Burleigh. We should see towns
extended, deserts cultivated, the hamlets of fishermen turned into
wealthy havens, the meal of the peasant improved, and his hut more
commodiously furnished. We should see those opinions and feelings which
produced the great struggle against the House of Stuart slowly growing
up in the bosom of private families, before they manifested themselves
in parliamentary debates. Then would come the civil war. Those
skirmishes on which Clarendon dwells so minutely would be told, as
Thucydides would have told them, with perspicuous conciseness. They are
merely connecting links. But the great characteristics of the age, the
loyal enthusiasm of the brave English gentry, the fierce licentiousness
of the swearing, dicing, drunken reprobates, whose excesses disgraced
the royal cause,--the austerity of the Presbyterian Sabbaths in the
city, the extravagance of the independent preachers in the camp, the
precise garb, the severe countenance, the petty scruples, the affected
accent, the absurd names and phrases which marked the Puritans,--the
valour, the policy, the public spirit, which lurked beneath these
ungraceful disguises,--the dreams of the raving Fifth-monarchy-man, the
dreams, scarcely less wild, of the philosophic republican, all these
would enter into the representation, and render it at once more exact
and more striking.

The instruction derived from history thus written would be of a vivid
and practical character. It would be received by the imagination as well
as by the reason. It would be not merely traced on the mind, but branded
into it. Many truths, too, would be learned, which can be learned in
no other manner. As the history of states is generally written, the
greatest and most momentous revolutions seem to come upon them like
supernatural inflictions, without warning or cause. But the fact is,
that such revolutions are almost always the consequences of moral
changes, which have gradually passed on the mass of the community, and
which originally proceed far before their progress is indicated by any
public measure. An intimate knowledge of the domestic history of nations
is therefore absolutely necessary to the prognosis of political events.
A narrative, defective in this respect, is as useless as a medical
treatise which should pass by all the symptoms attendant on the early
stage of a disease and mention only what occurs when the patient is
beyond the reach of remedies.

A historian, such as we have been attempting to describe, would indeed
be an intellectual prodigy. In his mind, powers scarcely compatible with
each other must be tempered into an exquisite harmony. We shall sooner
see another Shakspeare or another Homer. The highest excellence to which
any single faculty can be brought would be less surprising than such a
happy and delicate combination of qualities. Yet the contemplation of
imaginary models is not an unpleasant or useless employment of the mind.
It cannot indeed produce perfection; but it produces improvement
and nourishes that generous and liberal fastidiousness which is not
inconsistent with the strongest sensibility to merit, and which, while
it exalts our conceptions of the art, does not render us unjust to the
artist.

*****



MILL ON GOVERNMENT. (March 1829.)

     "Essays on Government, Jurisprudence, the Liberty of the
     Press, Prisons, and Prison Discipline, Colonies, the Law of
     Nations, and Education."  By James Mill, Esq., author of the
     History of British India.  Reprinted by permission from the
     Supplement to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.  (Not for sale.)
     London, 1828.

Of those philosophers who call themselves Utilitarians, and whom others
generally call Benthamites, Mr Mill is, with the exception of the
illustrious founder of the sect, by far the most distinguished. The
little work now before us contains a summary of the opinions held by
this gentleman and his brethren on several subjects most important to
society. All the seven essays of which it consists abound in curious
matter. But at present we intend to confine our remarks to the Treatise
on Government, which stands first in the volume. On some future
occasion, we may perhaps attempt to do justice to the rest.

It must be owned that to do justice to any composition of Mr Mill is
not, in the opinion of his admirers, a very easy task. They do not,
indeed, place him in the same rank with Mr Bentham; but the terms in
which they extol the disciple, though feeble when compared with the
hyperboles of adoration employed by them in speaking of the master, are
as strong as any sober man would allow himself to use concerning Locke
or Bacon. The essay before us is perhaps the most remarkable of the
works to which Mr Mill owes his fame. By the members of his sect, it is
considered as perfect and unanswerable. Every part of it is an article
of their faith; and the damnatory clauses, in which their creed abounds
far beyond any theological symbol with which we are acquainted, are
strong and full against all who reject any portion of what is so
irrefragably established. No man, they maintain, who has understanding
sufficient to carry him through the first proposition of Euclid, can
read this masterpiece of demonstration and honestly declare that he
remains unconvinced.

We have formed a very different opinion of this work. We think that the
theory of Mr Mill rests altogether on false principles, and that even on
those false principles he does not reason logically. Nevertheless, we
do not think it strange that his speculations should have filled the
Utilitarians with admiration. We have been for some time past inclined
to suspect that these people, whom some regard as the lights of the
world and others as incarnate demons, are in general ordinary men, with
narrow understandings and little information. The contempt which they
express for elegant literature is evidently the contempt of ignorance.
We apprehend that many of them are persons who, having read little
or nothing, are delighted to be rescued from the sense of their own
inferiority by some teacher who assures them that the studies which
they have neglected are of no value, puts five or six phrases into their
mouths, lends them an old number of the Westminster Review, and in a
month transforms them into philosophers. Mingled with these smatterers,
whose attainments just suffice to elevate them from the insignificance
of dunces to the dignity of bores, and to spread dismay among their
pious aunts and grandmothers, there are, we well know, many well-meaning
men who have really read and thought much; but whose reading and
meditation have been almost exclusively confined to one class of
subjects; and who, consequently, though they possess much valuable
knowledge respecting those subjects, are by no means so well qualified
to judge of a great system as if they had taken a more enlarged view of
literature and society.

Nothing is more amusing or instructive than to observe the manner in
which people who think themselves wiser than all the rest of the world
fall into snares which the simple good sense of their neighbours detects
and avoids. It is one of the principle tenets of the Utilitarians that
sentiment and eloquence serve only to impede the pursuit of truth. They
therefore affect a quakerly plainness, or rather a cynical negligence
and impurity, of style. The strongest arguments, when clothed in
brilliant language, seem to them so much wordy nonsense. In the meantime
they surrender their understandings, with a facility found in no other
party, to the meanest and most abject sophisms, provided those sophisms
come before them disguised with the externals of demonstration. They do
not seem to know that logic has its illusions as well as rhetoric,--that
a fallacy may lurk in a syllogism as well as in a metaphor.

Mr Mill is exactly the writer to please people of this description.
His arguments are stated with the utmost affectation of precision; his
divisions are awfully formal; and his style is generally as dry as that
of Euclid's Elements. Whether this be a merit, we must be permitted to
doubt. Thus much is certain: that the ages in which the true principles
of philosophy were least understood were those in which the ceremonial
of logic was most strictly observed, and that the time from which we
date the rapid progress of the experimental sciences was also the time
at which a less exact and formal way of writing came into use.

The style which the Utilitarians admire suits only those subjects on
which it is possible to reason a priori. It grew up with the verbal
sophistry which flourished during the dark ages. With that sophistry it
fell before the Baconian philosopher in the day of the great deliverance
of the human mind. The inductive method not only endured but required
greater freedom of diction. It was impossible to reason from phenomena
up to principles, to mark slight shades of difference in quality, or to
estimate the comparative effect of two opposite considerations between
which there was no common measure, by means of the naked and meagre
jargon of the schoolmen. Of those schoolmen Mr Mill has inherited
both the spirit and the style. He is an Aristotelian of the fifteenth
century, born out of due season. We have here an elaborate treatise on
Government, from which, but for two or three passing allusions, it
would not appear that the author was aware that any governments actually
existed among men. Certain propensities of human nature are assumed;
and from these premises the whole science of politics is synthetically
deduced! We can scarcely persuade ourselves that we are not reading a
book written before the time of Bacon and Galileo,--a book written in
those days in which physicians reasoned from the nature of heat to the
treatment of fever, and astronomers proved syllogistically that the
planets could have no independent motion,--because the heavens were
incorruptible, and nature abhorred a vacuum!

The reason, too, which Mr Mill has assigned for taking this course
strikes us as most extraordinary.

"Experience," says he, "if we look only at the outside of the facts,
appears to be DIVIDED on this subject. Absolute monarchy, under Neros
and Caligulas, under such men as the Emperors of Morocco and Sultans of
Turkey, is the scourge of human nature. On the other side, the people of
Denmark, tired out with the oppression of an aristocracy, resolved that
their king should be absolute; and, under their absolute monarch, are as
well governed as any people in Europe."

This Mr Mill actually gives as a reason for pursuing the a priori
method. But, in our judgment, the very circumstances which he mentions
irresistibly prove that the a priori method is altogether unfit for
investigations of this kind, and that the only way to arrive at the
truth is by induction. EXPERIENCE can never be divided, or even appear
to be divided, except with reference to some hypothesis. When we say
that one fact is inconsistent with another fact, we mean only that it is
inconsistent with THE THEORY which we have founded on that other fact.
But, if the fact be certain, the unavoidable conclusion is that our
theory is false; and, in order to correct it, we must reason back from
an enlarged collection of facts to principles.

Now here we have two governments which, by Mr Mill's own account, come
under the same head in his THEORETICAL classification. It is evident,
therefore, that, by reasoning on that theoretical classification, we
shall be brought to the conclusion that these two forms of government
must produce the same effects. But Mr Mill himself tells us that they do
not produce the same effects. Hence he infers that the only way to get
at truth is to place implicit confidence in that chain of proof a
priori from which it appears that they must produce the same effects!
To believe at once in a theory and in a fact which contradicts it is an
exercise of faith sufficiently hard: but to believe in a theory BECAUSE
a fact contradicts it is what neither philosopher nor pope ever before
required. This, however, is what Mr Mill demands of us. He seems to
think that, if all despots, without exception, governed ill, it would
be unnecessary to prove, by a synthetical argument, what would then
be sufficiently clear from experience. But, as some despots will be
so perverse as to govern well, he finds himself compelled to prove the
impossibility of their governing well by that synthetical argument
which would have been superfluous had not the facts contradicted it.
He reasons a priori, because the phenomena are not what, by reasoning a
priori, he will prove them to be. In other words, he reasons a priori,
because, by so reasoning, he is certain to arrive at a false conclusion!

In the course of the examination to which we propose to subject the
speculations of Mr Mill we shall have to notice many other curious
instances of that turn of mind which the passage above quoted indicates.

The first chapter of his Essay relates to the ends of government. The
conception on this subject, he tells us, which exists in the minds of
most men is vague and undistinguishing. He first assumes, justly enough,
that the end of government is "to increase to the utmost the pleasures,
and diminish to the utmost the pains, which men derive from each other."
He then proceeds to show, with great form, that "the greatest possible
happiness of society is attained by insuring to every man the greatest
possible quantity of the produce of his labour." To effect this is, in
his opinion, the end of government. It is remarkable that Mr Mill, with
all his affected display of precision, has here given a description of
the ends of government far less precise than that which is in the mouths
of the vulgar. The first man with whom Mr Mill may travel in a stage
coach will tell him that government exists for the protection of
the PERSONS and property of men. But Mr Mill seems to think that the
preservation of property is the first and only object. It is true,
doubtless, that many of the injuries which are offered to the persons of
men proceed from a desire to possess their property. But the practice of
vindictive assassination as it has existed in some parts of Europe--the
practice of fighting wanton and sanguinary duels, like those of the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, in which bands of seconds risked
their lives as well as the principals;--these practices, and many others
which might be named, are evidently injurious to society; and we do not
see how a government which tolerated them could be said "to diminish
to the utmost the pains which men derive from each other." Therefore,
according to Mr Mill's very correct assumption, such a government
would not perfectly accomplish the end of its institution. Yet such a
government might, as far as we can perceive, "insure to every man the
greatest possible quantity of the produce of his labour." Therefore
such a government might, according to Mr Mill's subsequent doctrine,
perfectly accomplish the end of its institution. The matter is not of
much consequence, except as an instance of that slovenliness of thinking
which is often concealed beneath a peculiar ostentation of logical
neatness.

Having determined the ends, Mr Mill proceeds to consider the means.
For the preservation of property some portion of the community must be
intrusted with power. This is government; and the question is, how are
those to whom the necessary power is intrusted to be prevented from
abusing it?

Mr Mill first passes in review the simple forms of government. He allows
that it would be inconvenient, if not physically impossible, that the
whole community should meet in a mass; it follows, therefore, that the
powers of government cannot be directly exercised by the people. But he
sees no objection to pure and direct Democracy, except the difficulty
which we have mentioned.

"The community," says he, "cannot have an interest opposite to its
interests. To affirm this would be a contradiction in terms. The
community within itself, and with respect to itself, can have no
sinister interest. One community may intend the evil of another;
never its own. This is an indubitable proposition, and one of great
importance."

Mr Mill then proceeds to demonstrate that a purely aristocratical form
of government is necessarily bad.

"The reason for which government exists is, that one man, if stronger
than another, will take from him whatever that other possesses and he
desires. But if one man will do this, so will several. And if powers
are put into the hands of a comparatively small number, called an
aristocracy,--powers which make them stronger than the rest of the
community, they will take from the rest of the community as much as they
please of the objects of desire. They will thus defeat the very end
for which government was instituted. The unfitness, therefore, of an
aristocracy to be intrusted with the powers of government, rests on
demonstration."

In exactly the same manner Mr Mill proves absolute monarchy to be a bad
form of government.

"If government is founded upon this as a law of human nature, that a
man, if able, will take from others anything which they have and he
desires, it is sufficiently evident, that when a man is called a king he
does not change his nature; so that when he has got power to enable
him to take from every man what he pleases, he will take whatever he
pleases. To suppose that he will not, is to affirm that government
is unnecessary, and that human beings will abstain from injuring one
another of their own accord."

"It is very evident that this reasoning extends to every modification of
the smaller number. Whenever the powers of government are placed in any
hands other than those of the community, whether those of one man, of
a few, or of several, those principles of human nature which imply that
government is at all necessary, imply that those persons will make use
of them to defeat the very end for which government exists."

But is it not possible that a king or an aristocracy may soon be
saturated with the objects of their desires, and may then protect the
community in the enjoyment of the rest? Mr Mill answers in the negative.
He proves, with great pomp, that every man desires to have the actions
of every other correspondent to his will. Others can be induced to
conform to our will only by motives derived from pleasure or from pain.
The infliction of pain is of course direct injury; and, even if it take
the milder course, in order to produce obedience by motives derived from
pleasure, the government must confer favours. But, as there is no limit
to its desire of obedience, there will be no limit to its disposition
to confer favours; and, as it can confer favours only by plundering the
people, there will be no limit to its disposition to plunder the people.
It is therefore not true that there is in the mind of a king, or in the
minds of an aristocracy, any point of saturation with the objects of
desire.

Mr Mill then proceeds to show that, as monarchical and oligarchical
governments can influence men by motives drawn from pain, as well as by
motives drawn from pleasure, they will carry their cruelty, as well as
their rapacity, to a frightful extent. As he seems greatly to admire his
own reasonings on this subject, we think it but fair to let him speak
for himself.

"The chain of inference in this case is close and strong to a most
unusual degree. A man desires that the actions of other men shall be
instantly and accurately correspondent to his will. He desires that the
actions of the greatest possible number shall be so. Terror is the grand
instrument. Terror can work only through assurance that evil will follow
any failure of conformity between the will and the actions willed. Every
failure must therefore be punished. As there are no bounds to the mind's
desire of its pleasure, there are, of course, no bounds to its desire of
perfection in the instruments of that pleasure. There are, therefore, no
bounds to its desire of exactness in the conformity between its will and
the actions willed; and by consequence to the strength of that terror
which is its procuring cause. Even the most minute failure must
be visited with the heaviest infliction; and as failure in extreme
exactness must frequently happen, the occasions of cruelty must be
incessant.

"We have thus arrived at several conclusions of the highest possible
importance. We have seen that the principle of human nature, upon which
the necessity of government is founded, the propensity of one man to
possess himself of the objects of desire at the cost of another, leads
on, by infallible sequence, where power over a community is attained,
and nothing checks, not only to that degree of plunder which leaves the
members (excepting always the recipients and instruments of the plunder)
the bare means of subsistence, but to that degree of cruelty which is
necessary to keep in existence the most intense terrors."

Now, no man who has the least knowledge of the real state of the
world, either in former ages or at the present moment, can possibly be
convinced, though he may perhaps be bewildered, by arguments like these.
During the last two centuries, some hundreds of absolute princes have
reigned in Europe. Is it true, that their cruelty has kept in existence
the most intense degree of terror; that their rapacity has left no
more than the bare means of subsistence to any of their subjects, their
ministers and soldiers excepted? Is this true of all of them? Of one
half of them? Of one tenth part of them? Of a single one? Is it true, in
the full extent, even of Philip the Second, of Louis the Fifteenth, or
of the Emperor Paul? But it is scarcely necessary to quote history. No
man of common sense, however ignorant he may be of books, can be imposed
on by Mr Mill's argument; because no man of common sense can live among
his fellow-creatures for a day without seeing innumerable facts which
contradict it. It is our business, however, to point out its fallacy;
and happily the fallacy is not very recondite.

We grant that rulers will take as much as they can of the objects of
their desires; and that, when the agency of other men is necessary to
that end, they will attempt by all means in their power to enforce the
prompt obedience of such men. But what are the objects of human desire?
Physical pleasure, no doubt, in part. But the mere appetites which we
have in common with the animals would be gratified almost as cheaply and
easily as those of the animals are gratified, if nothing were given to
taste, to ostentation, or to the affections. How small a portion of the
income of a gentleman in easy circumstances is laid out merely in giving
pleasurable sensations to the body of the possessor! The greater
part even of what is spent on his kitchen and his cellar goes, not to
titillate his palate, but to keep up his character for hospitality, to
save him from the reproach of meanness in housekeeping, and to
cement the ties of good neighbourhood. It is clear that a king or an
aristocracy may be supplied to satiety with mere corporal pleasures, at
an expense which the rudest and poorest community would scarcely feel.

Those tastes and propensities which belong to us as reasoning and
imaginative beings are not indeed so easily gratified. There is, we
admit, no point of saturation with objects of desire which come under
this head. And therefore the argument of Mr Mill will be just, unless
there be something in the nature of the objects of desire themselves
which is inconsistent with it. Now, of these objects there is none which
men in general seem to desire more than the good opinion of others. The
hatred and contempt of the public are generally felt to be
intolerable. It is probable that our regard for the sentiments of our
fellow-creatures springs, by association, from a sense of their ability
to hurt or to serve us. But, be this as it may, it is notorious that,
when the habit of mind of which we speak has once been formed, men feel
extremely solicitous about the opinions of those by whom it is most
improbable, nay, absolutely impossible, that they should ever be in the
slightest degree injured or benefited. The desire of posthumous fame and
the dread of posthumous reproach and execration are feelings from the
influence of which scarcely any man is perfectly free, and which in many
men are powerful and constant motives of action. As we are afraid that,
if we handle this part of the argument after our own manner, we shall
incur the reproach of sentimentality, a word which, in the sacred
language of the Benthamites, is synonymous with idiocy, we will
quote what Mr Mill himself says on the subject, in his Treatise on
Jurisprudence.

"Pains from the moral source are the pains derived from the unfavourable
sentiments of mankind...These pains are capable of rising to a height
with which hardly any other pains incident to our nature can be
compared. There is a certain degree of unfavourableness in the
sentiments of his fellow-creatures, under which hardly any man, not
below the standard of humanity, can endure to live.

"The importance of this powerful agency, for the prevention of injurious
acts, is too obvious to need to be illustrated. If sufficiently at
command, it would almost supersede the use of other means...

"To know how to direct the unfavourable sentiments of mankind, it is
necessary to know in as complete, that is, in as comprehensive, a way as
possible, what it is which gives them birth. Without entering into the
metaphysics of the question, it is a sufficient practical answer, for
the present purpose, to say that the unfavourable sentiments of man are
excited by everything which hurts them."

It is strange that a writer who considers the pain derived from the
unfavourable sentiments of others as so acute that, if sufficiently at
command, it would supersede the use of the gallows and the tread-mill,
should take no notice of this most important restraint when discussing
the question of government. We will attempt to deduce a theory of
politics in the mathematical form, in which Mr Mill delights, from the
premises with which he has himself furnished us.


PROPOSITION I. THEOREM.

No rulers will do anything which may hurt the people.

This is the thesis to be maintained; and the following we humbly offer
to Mr Mill, as its syllogistic demonstration.

No rulers will do that which produces pain to themselves.

But the unfavourable sentiments of the people will give pain to them.

Therefore no rulers will do anything which may excite the unfavourable
sentiments of the people.

But the unfavourable sentiments of the people are excited by everything
which hurts them.

Therefore no rulers will do anything which may hurt the people. Which
was the thing to be proved.

Having thus, as we think, not unsuccessfully imitated Mr Mill's logic,
we do not see why we should not imitate, what is at least equally
perfect in its kind, its self-complacency, and proclaim our Eureka
in his own words: "The chain of inference, in this case, is close and
strong to a most unusual degree."

The fact is, that, when men, in treating of things which cannot be
circumscribed by precise definitions, adopt this mode of reasoning, when
once they begin to talk of power, happiness, misery, pain, pleasure,
motives, objects of desire, as they talk of lines and numbers, there is
no end to the contradictions and absurdities into which they fall. There
is no proposition so monstrously untrue in morals or politics that we
will not undertake to prove it, by something which shall sound like a
logical demonstration from admitted principles.

Mr Mill argues that, if men are not inclined to plunder each other,
government is unnecessary; and that, if they are so inclined, the
powers of government, when entrusted to a small number of them, will
necessarily be abused. Surely it is not by propounding dilemmas of this
sort that we are likely to arrive at sound conclusions in any moral
science. The whole question is a question of degree. If all men
preferred the moderate approbation of their neighbours to any degree
of wealth or grandeur, or sensual pleasure, government would be
unnecessary. If all men desired wealth so intensely as to be willing
to brave the hatred of their fellow-creatures for sixpence, Mr Mill's
argument against monarchies and aristocracies would be true to the full
extent. But the fact is, that all men have some desires which impel them
to injure their neighbours, and some desires which impel them to benefit
their neighbours. Now, if there were a community consisting of two
classes of men, one of which should be principally influenced by the one
set of motives and the other by the other, government would clearly be
necessary to restrain the class which was eager for plunder and
careless of reputation: and yet the powers of government might be
safely intrusted to the class which was chiefly actuated by the love
of approbation. Now, it might with no small plausibility be maintained
that, in many countries, THERE ARE two classes which, in some degree,
answer to this description; that the poor compose the class which
government is established to restrain, and the people of some property
the class to which the powers of government may without danger be
confided. It might be said that a man who can barely earn a livelihood
by severe labour is under stronger temptations to pillage others than a
man who enjoys many luxuries. It might be said that a man who is lost in
the crowd is less likely to have the fear of public opinion before his
eyes than a man whose station and mode of living render him conspicuous.
We do not assert all this. We only say that it was Mr Mill's business to
prove the contrary; and that, not having proved the contrary, he is not
entitled to say, "that those principles which imply that government is
at all necessary, imply that an aristocracy will make use of its power
to defeat the end for which governments exist." This is not true,
unless it be true that a rich man is as likely to covet the goods of
his neighbours as a poor man, and that a poor man is as likely to be
solicitous about the opinions of his neighbours as a rich man.

But we do not see that, by reasoning a priori on such subjects as these,
it is possible to advance one single step. We know that every man has
some desires which he can gratify only by hurting his neighbours, and
some which he can gratify only by pleasing them. Mr Mill has chosen
to look only at one-half of human nature, and to reason on the motives
which impel men to oppress and despoil others, as if they were the only
motives by which men could possibly be influenced. We have already shown
that, by taking the other half of the human character, and reasoning
on it as if it were the whole, we can bring out a result diametrically
opposite to that at which Mr Mill has arrived. We can, by such a
process, easily prove that any form of government is good, or that all
government is superfluous.

We must now accompany Mr Mill on the next stage of his argument.

Does any combination of the three simple forms of government afford the
requisite securities against the abuse of power? Mr Mill complains
that those who maintain the affirmative generally beg the question;
and proceeds to settle the point by proving, after his fashion, that
no combination of the three simple forms, or of any two of them, can
possibly exist.

"From the principles which we have already laid down it follows that, of
the objects of human desire, and, speaking more definitely, of the means
to the ends of human desire, namely, wealth and power, each party will
endeavour to obtain as much as possible.

"If any expedient presents itself to any of the supposed parties
effectual to this end, and not opposed to any preferred object of
pursuit, we may infer with certainty that it will be adopted. One
effectual expedient is not more effectual than obvious. Any two of the
parties, by combining, may swallow up the third. That such combination
will take place appears to be as certain as anything which depends upon
human will; because there are strong motives in favour of it, and none
that can be conceived in opposition to it...The mixture of three of the
kinds of government, it is thus evident, cannot possibly exist...It
may be proper to enquire whether an union may not be possible of two of
them...

"Let us first suppose, that monarchy is united with aristocracy. Their
power is equal or not equal. If it is not equal, it follows, as a
necessary consequence, from the principles which we have already
established, that the stronger will take from the weaker till it
engrosses the whole. The only question therefore is, What will happen
when the power is equal?

"In the first place, it seems impossible that such equality should ever
exist. How is it to be established? or, by what criterion is it to be
ascertained? If there is no such criterion, it must, in all cases, be
the result of chance. If so, the chances against it are as infinity to
one. The idea, therefore, is wholly chimerical and absurd...

"In this doctrine of the mixture of the simple forms of government is
included the celebrated theory of the balance among the component parts
of a government. By this it is supposed that, when a government is
composed of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy, they balance one
another, and by mutual checks produce good government. A few words will
suffice to show that, if any theory deserves the epithets of 'wild,
visionary, and chimerical,' it is that of the balance. If there are
three powers, how is it possible to prevent two of them from combining
to swallow up the third?

"The analysis which we have already performed will enable us to trace
rapidly the concatenation of causes and effects in this imagined case.

"We have already seen that the interests of the community, considered
in the aggregate, or in the democratical point of view, is, that each
individual should receive protection; and that the powers which are
constituted for that purpose should be employed exclusively for that
purpose...We have also seen that the interest of the king and of the
governing aristocracy is directly the reverse. It is to have unlimited
power over the rest of the community, and to use it for their own
advantage. In the supposed case of the balance of the monarchical,
aristocratical, and democratical powers, it cannot be for the interest
of either the monarchy or the aristocracy to combine with the democracy;
because it is the interest of the democracy, or community at large, that
neither the king nor the aristocracy should have one particle of power,
or one particle of the wealth of the community, for their own advantage.

"The democracy or community have all possible motives to endeavour to
prevent the monarchy and aristocracy from exercising power, or obtaining
the wealth of the community for their own advantage. The monarchy
and aristocracy have all possible motives for endeavouring to obtain
unlimited power over the persons and property of the community. The
consequence is inevitable: they have all possible motives for combining
to obtain that power."

If any part of this passage be more eminently absurd than another, it
is, we think, the argument by which Mr Mill proves that there cannot
be an union of monarchy and aristocracy. Their power, he says, must be
equal or not equal. But of equality there is no criterion. Therefore the
chances against its existence are as infinity to one. If the power be
not equal, then it follows, from the principles of human nature, that
the stronger will take from the weaker, till it has engrossed the whole.

Now, if there be no criterion of equality between two portions of power
there can be no common measure of portions of power. Therefore it is
utterly impossible to compare them together. But where two portions
of power are of the same kind, there is no difficulty in ascertaining,
sufficiently for all practical purposes, whether they are equal or
unequal. It is easy to judge whether two men run equally fast, or can
lift equal weights. Two arbitrators, whose joint decision is to be
final, and neither of whom can do anything without the assent of the
other, possess equal power. Two electors, each of whom has a vote for
a borough, possess, in that respect, equal power. If not, all Mr Mill's
political theories fall to the ground at once. For, if it be impossible
to ascertain whether two portions of power are equal, he never can show
that even under a system of universal suffrage, a minority might not
carry every thing their own way, against the wishes and interests of the
majority.

Where there are two portions of power differing in kind, there is, we
admit, no criterion of equality. But then, in such a case, it is absurd
to talk, as Mr Mill does, about the stronger and the weaker. Popularly,
indeed, and with reference to some particular objects, these words
may very fairly be used. But to use them mathematically is altogether
improper. If we are speaking of a boxing-match, we may say that some
famous bruiser has greater bodily power than any man in England. If
we are speaking of a pantomime, we may say the same of some very agile
harlequin. But it would be talking nonsense to say, in general, that the
power of Harlequin either exceeded that of the pugilist or fell short of
it.

If Mr Mill's argument be good as between different branches of a
legislature, it is equally good as between sovereign powers. Every
government, it may be said, will, if it can, take the objects of its
desires from every other. If the French government can subdue England it
will do so. If the English government can subdue France it will do so.
But the power of England and France is either equal or not equal. The
chance that it is not exactly equal is as infinity to one, and may
safely be left out of the account; and then the stronger will infallibly
take from the weaker till the weaker is altogether enslaved.

Surely the answer to all this hubbub of unmeaning words is the plainest
possible. For some purposes France is stronger than England. For some
purposes England is stronger than France. For some, neither has any
power at all. France has the greater population, England the greater
capital; France has the greater army, England the greater fleet. For an
expedition to Rio Janeiro or the Philippines, England has the greater
power. For a war on the Po or the Danube, France has the greater power.
But neither has power sufficient to keep the other in quiet subjection
for a month. Invasion would be very perilous; the idea of complete
conquest on either side utterly ridiculous. This is the manly and
sensible way of discussing such questions. The ergo, or rather the
argal, of Mr Mill cannot impose on a child. Yet we ought scarcely to say
this; for we remember to have heard A CHILD ask whether Bonaparte was
stronger than an elephant!

Mr Mill reminds us of those philosophers of the sixteenth century who,
having satisfied themselves a priori that the rapidity with which bodies
descended to the earth varied exactly as their weights, refused to
believe the contrary on the evidence of their own eyes and ears. The
British constitution, according to Mr Mill's classification, is a
mixture of monarchy and aristocracy; one House of Parliament being
composed of hereditary nobles, and the other almost entirely chosen by a
privileged class who possess the elective franchise on account of their
property, or their connection with certain corporations. Mr Mill's
argument proves that, from the time that these two powers were mingled
in our government, that is, from the very first dawn of our history, one
or the other must have been constantly encroaching. According to him,
moreover, all the encroachments must have been on one side. For the
first encroachment could only have been made by the stronger; and that
first encroachment would have made the stronger stronger still. It is,
therefore, matter of absolute demonstration, that either the Parliament
was stronger than the Crown in the reign of Henry VIII., or that the
Crown was stronger than the Parliament in 1641. "Hippocrate dira ce que
lui plaira," says the girl in Moliere; "mais le cocher est mort." Mr
Mill may say what he pleases; but the English constitution is still
alive. That since the Revolution the Parliament has possessed great
power in the State, is what nobody will dispute. The King, on the
other hand, can create new peers, and can dissolve Parliaments. William
sustained severe mortifications from the House of Commons, and was,
indeed, unjustifiably oppressed. Anne was desirous to change a ministry
which had a majority in both Houses. She watched her moment for a
dissolution, created twelve Tory peers, and succeeded. Thirty years
later, the House of Commons drove Walpole from his seat. In 1784, George
III. was able to keep Mr Pitt in office in the face of a majority of the
House of Commons. In 1804, the apprehension of a defeat in Parliament
compelled the same King to part from his most favoured minister. But,
in 1807, he was able to do exactly what Anne had done nearly a hundred
years before. Now, had the power of the King increased during the
intervening century, or had it remained stationary? Is it possible that
the one lot among the infinite number should have fallen to us? If not,
Mr Mill has proved that one of the two parties must have been constantly
taking from the other. Many of the ablest men in England think that the
influence of the Crown has, on the whole, increased since the reign of
Anne. Others think that the Parliament has been growing in strength. But
of this there is no doubt, that both sides possessed great power then,
and possess great power now. Surely, if there were the least truth in
the argument of Mr Mill, it could not possibly be a matter of doubt, at
the end of a hundred and twenty years, whether the one side or the other
had been the gainer.

But we ask pardon. We forgot that a fact, irreconcilable with Mr Mill's
theory, furnishes, in his opinion, the strongest reason for adhering to
the theory. To take up the question in another manner, is it not plain
that there may be two bodies, each possessing a perfect and entire
power, which cannot be taken from it without its own concurrence? What
is the meaning of the words stronger and weaker, when applied to such
bodies as these? The one may, indeed, by physical force, altogether
destroy the other. But this is not the question. A third party, a
general of their own, for example, may, by physical force, subjugate
them both. Nor is there any form of government, Mr Mill's utopian
democracy not excepted, secure from such an occurrence. We are speaking
of the powers with which the constitution invests the two branches of
the legislature; and we ask Mr Mill how, on his own principles, he can
maintain that one of them will be able to encroach on the other, if the
consent of the other be necessary to such encroachment?

Mr Mill tells us that, if a government be composed of the three simple
forms, which he will not admit the British constitution to be, two of
the component parts will inevitably join against the third. Now, if two
of them combine and act as one, this case evidently resolves itself into
the last: and all the observations which we have just made will fully
apply to it. Mr Mill says, that "any two of the parties, by combining,
may swallow up the third;" and afterwards asks, "How is it possible to
prevent two of them from combining to swallow up the third?" Surely Mr
Mill must be aware that in politics two is not always the double of
one. If the concurrence of all the three branches of the legislature be
necessary to every law, each branch will possess constitutional power
sufficient to protect it against anything but that physical force
from which no form of government is secure. Mr Mill reminds us of the
Irishman, who could not be brought to understand how one juryman could
possibly starve out eleven others.

But is it certain that two of the branches of the legislature will
combine against the third? "It appears to be as certain," says Mr Mill,
"as anything which depends upon human will; because there are strong
motives in favour of it, and none that can be conceived in opposition to
it." He subsequently sets forth what these motives are. The interest
of the democracy is that each individual should receive protection. The
interest of the King and the aristocracy is to have all the power that
they can obtain, and to use it for their own ends. Therefore the King
and the aristocracy have all possible motives for combining against the
people. If our readers will look back to the passage quoted above, they
will see that we represent Mr Mill's argument quite fairly.

Now we should have thought that, without the help of either history
or experience, Mr Mill would have discovered, by the light of his own
logic, the fallacy which lurks, and indeed scarcely lurks, under this
pretended demonstration. The interest of the King may be opposed to that
of the people. But is it identical with that of the aristocracy? In the
very page which contains this argument, intended to prove that the King
and the aristocracy will coalesce against the people, Mr Mill attempts
to show that there is so strong an opposition of interest between the
King and the aristocracy that if the powers of government are divided
between them the one will inevitably usurp the power of the other. If
so, he is not entitled to conclude that they will combine to destroy the
power of the people merely because their interests may be at variance
with those of the people. He is bound to show, not merely that in
all communities the interest of a king must be opposed to that of the
people, but also that, in all communities, it must be more directly
opposed to the interest of the people than to the interest of the
aristocracy. But he has not shown this. Therefore he has not proved
his proposition on his own principles. To quote history would be a mere
waste of time. Every schoolboy, whose studies have gone so far as the
Abridgments of Goldsmith, can mention instances in which sovereigns have
allied themselves with the people against the aristocracy, and in which
the nobles have allied themselves with the people against the sovereign.
In general, when there are three parties, every one of which has much
to fear from the others, it is not found that two of them combine to
plunder the third. If such a combination be formed, it scarcely ever
effects its purpose. It soon becomes evident which member of the
coalition is likely to be the greater gainer by the transaction. He
becomes an object of jealousy to his ally, who, in all probability,
changes sides, and compels him to restore what he has taken. Everybody
knows how Henry VIII. trimmed between Francis and the Emperor Charles.
But it is idle to cite examples of the operation of a principle which is
illustrated in almost every page of history, ancient or modern, and to
which almost every state in Europe has, at one time or another, been
indebted for its independence.

Mr Mill has now, as he conceives, demonstrated that the simple forms
of government are bad, and that the mixed forms cannot possibly exist.
There is still, however, it seems, a hope for mankind.

"In the grand discovery of modern times, the system of representation,
the solution of all the difficulties, both speculative and practical,
will perhaps be found. If it cannot, we seem to be forced upon the
extraordinary conclusion, that good government is impossible. For,
as there is no individual or combination of individuals, except the
community itself, who would not have an interest in bad government if
intrusted with its powers, and as the community itself is incapable of
exercising those powers, and must intrust them to certain individuals,
the conclusion is obvious: the community itself must check those
individuals; else they will follow their interest, and produce bad
government. But how is it the community can check? The community can act
only when assembled; and when assembled, it is incapable of acting. The
community, however, can choose representatives."

The next question is--How must the representative body be constituted?
Mr Mill lays down two principles, about which, he says, "it is unlikely
that there will be any dispute."

"First, The checking body must have a degree of power sufficient for the
business of checking."

"Secondly, It must have an identity of interest with the community.
Otherwise, it will make a mischievous use of its power."

The first of these propositions certainly admits of no dispute. As to
the second, we shall hereafter take occasion to make some remarks on
the sense in which Mr Mill understands the words "interest of the
community."

It does not appear very easy, on Mr Mill's principles, to find out any
mode of making the interest of the representative body identical with
that of the constituent body. The plan proposed by Mr Mill is simply
that of very frequent election. "As it appears," says he, "that limiting
the duration of their power is a security against the sinister interest
of the people's representatives, so it appears that it is the only
security of which the nature of the case admits." But all the arguments
by which Mr Mill has proved monarchy and aristocracy to be pernicious
will, as it appears to us, equally prove this security to be no security
at all. Is it not clear that the representatives, as soon as they are
elected, are an aristocracy, with an interest opposed to the interest of
the community? Why should they not pass a law for extending the term of
their power from one year to ten years, or declare themselves senators
for life? If the whole legislative power is given to them, they will be
constitutionally competent to do this. If part of the legislative power
is withheld from them, to whom is that part given? Is the people to
retain it, and to express its assent or dissent in primary assemblies?
Mr Mill himself tells us that the community can only act when assembled,
and that, when assembled, it is incapable of acting. Or is it to be
provided, as in some of the American republics, that no change in the
fundamental laws shall be made without the consent of a convention,
specially elected for the purpose? Still the difficulty recurs: Why may
not the members of the convention betray their trust, as well as the
members of the ordinary legislature? When private men, they may have
been zealous for the interests of the community. When candidates, they
may have pledged themselves to the cause of the constitution. But, as
soon as they are a convention, as soon as they are separated from the
people, as soon as the supreme power is put into their hands, commences
that interest opposite to the interest of the community which must,
according to Mr Mill, produce measures opposite to the interests of the
community. We must find some other means, therefore, of checking this
check upon a check; some other prop to carry the tortoise, that carries
the elephant, that carries the world.

We know well that there is no real danger in such a case. But there is
no danger only because there is no truth in Mr Mill's principles. If men
were what he represents them to be, the letter of the very constitution
which he recommends would afford no safeguard against bad government.
The real security is this, that legislators will be deterred by the
fear of resistance and of infamy from acting in the manner which we have
described. But restraints, exactly the same in kind, and differing
only in degree, exist in all forms of government. That broad line of
distinction which Mr Mill tries to point out between monarchies and
aristocracies on the one side, and democracies on the other, has in fact
no existence. In no form of government is there an absolute identity
of interest between the people and their rulers. In every form of
government, the rulers stand in some awe of the people. The fear of
resistance and the sense of shame operate in a certain degree, on the
most absolute kings and the most illiberal oligarchies. And nothing but
the fear of resistance and the sense of shame preserves the freedom of
the most democratic communities from the encroachments of their annual
and biennial delegates.

We have seen how Mr Mill proposes to render the interest of the
representative body identical with that of the constituent body. The
next question is, in what manner the interest of the constituent body is
to be rendered identical with that of the community. Mr Mill shows that
a minority of the community, consisting even of many thousands, would be
a bad constituent body, and, indeed, merely a numerous aristocracy.

"The benefits of the representative system," says he, "are lost in all
cases in which the interests of the choosing body are not the same with
those of the community. It is very evident, that if the community itself
were the choosing body, the interests of the community and that of the
choosing body would be the same."

On these grounds Mr Mill recommends that all males of mature age, rich
and poor, educated and ignorant, shall have votes. But why not the women
too? This question has often been asked in parliamentary debate, and has
never, to our knowledge, received a plausible answer. Mr Mill escapes
from it as fast as he can. But we shall take the liberty to dwell a
little on the words of the oracle. "One thing," says he, "is pretty
clear, that all those individuals whose interests are involved in those
of other individuals, may be struck off without inconvenience...In
this light women may be regarded, the interest of almost all of whom is
involved either in that of their fathers, or in that of their husbands."

If we were to content ourselves with saying, in answer to all the
arguments in Mr Mill's essay, that the interest of a king is involved
in that of the community, we should be accused, and justly, of talking
nonsense. Yet such an assertion would not, as far as we can perceive,
be more unreasonable than that which Mr Mill has here ventured to make.
Without adducing one fact, without taking the trouble to perplex the
question by one sophism, he placidly dogmatises away the interest of one
half of the human race. If there be a word of truth in history, women
have always been, and still are, over the greater part of the globe,
humble companions, play things, captives, menials, beasts of burden.
Except in a few happy and highly civilised communities, they are
strictly in a state of personal slavery. Even in those countries where
they are best treated, the laws are generally unfavourable to them,
with respect to almost all the points in which they are most deeply
interested.

Mr Mill is not legislating for England or the United States, but for
mankind. Is then the interest of a Turk the same with that of the girls
who compose his harem? Is the interest of a Chinese the same with that
of the woman whom he harnesses to his plough? Is the interest of an
Italian the same with that of the daughter whom he devotes to God?
The interest of a respectable Englishman may be said, without any
impropriety, to be identical with that of his wife. But why is it so?
Because human nature is NOT what Mr Mill conceives it to be; because
civilised men, pursuing their own happiness in a social state, are not
Yahoos fighting for carrion; because there is a pleasure in being loved
and esteemed, as well as in being feared and servilely obeyed. Why does
not a gentleman restrict his wife to the bare maintenance which the law
would compel him to allow her, that he may have more to spend on his
personal pleasures? Because, if he loves her, he has pleasure in seeing
her pleased; and because, even if he dislikes her, he is unwilling that
the whole neighbourhood should cry shame on his meanness and ill-nature.
Why does not the legislature, altogether composed of males, pass a law
to deprive women of all civil privileges whatever, and reduce them to
the state of slaves? By passing such a law, they would gratify what
Mr Mill tells us is an inseparable part of human nature, the desire to
possess unlimited power of inflicting pain upon others. That they do not
pass such a law, though they have the power to pass it, and that no man
in England wishes to see such a law passed, proves that the desire to
possess unlimited power of inflicting pain is not inseparable from human
nature.

If there be in this country an identity of interest between the two
sexes, it cannot possibly arise from anything but the pleasure of being
loved, and of communicating happiness. For, that it does not spring from
the mere instinct of sex, the treatment which women experience over the
greater part of the world abundantly proves. And, if it be said that our
laws of marriage have produced it, this only removes the argument a
step further; for those laws have been made by males. Now, if the kind
feelings of one half of the species be a sufficient security for the
happiness of the other, why may not the kind feelings of a monarch or
an aristocracy be sufficient at least to prevent them from grinding the
people to the very utmost of their power?

If Mr Mill will examine why it is that women are better treated in
England than in Persia, he may perhaps find out, in the course of
his inquiries, why it is that the Danes are better governed than the
subjects of Caligula.

We now come to the most important practical question in the whole essay.
Is it desirable that all males arrived at years of discretion should
vote for representatives, or should a pecuniary qualification be
required? Mr Mill's opinion is, that the lower the qualification the
better; and that the best system is that in which there is none at all.

"The qualification," says he, "must either be such as to embrace
the majority of the population, or something less than the majority.
Suppose, in the first place, that it embraces the majority, the question
is, whether the majority would have an interest in oppressing those
who, upon this supposition, would be deprived of political power? If we
reduce the calculation to its elements, we shall see that the interest
which they would have of this deplorable kind, though it would be
something, would not be very great. Each man of the majority, if the
majority were constituted the governing body, would have something less
than the benefit of oppressing a single man. If the majority were twice
as great as the minority, each man of the majority would only have one
half the benefit of oppressing a single man...Suppose in the second
place, that the qualification did not admit a body of electors so large
as the majority, in that case, taking again the calculation in its
elements, we shall see that each man would have a benefit equal to
that derived from the oppression of more than one man; and that, in
proportion as the elective body constituted a smaller and smaller
minority, the benefit of misrule to the elective body would be
increased, and bad government would be insured."

The first remark which we have to make on this argument is, that, by Mr
Mill's own account, even a government in which every human being
should vote would still be defective. For, under a system of universal
suffrage, the majority of the electors return the representative, and
the majority of the representatives make the law. The whole people may
vote, therefore; but only the majority govern. So that, by Mr Mill's own
confession, the most perfect system of government conceivable is one in
which the interest of the ruling body to oppress, though not great, is
something.

But is Mr Mill in the right when he says that such an interest could
not be very great? We think not. If, indeed, every man in the community
possessed an equal share of what Mr Mill calls the objects of desire,
the majority would probably abstain from plundering the minority. A
large minority would offer a vigorous resistance; and the property of
a small minority would not repay the other members of the community
for the trouble of dividing it. But it happens that in all civilised
communities there is a small minority of rich men, and a great majority
of poor men. If there were a thousand men with ten pounds apiece, it
would not be worth while for nine hundred and ninety of them to rob
ten, and it would be a bold attempt for six hundred of them to rob four
hundred. But, if ten of them had a hundred thousand pounds apiece, the
case would be very different. There would then be much to be got, and
nothing to be feared.

"That one human being will desire to render the person and property of
another subservient to his pleasures, notwithstanding the pain or
loss of pleasure which it may occasion to that other individual, is,"
according to Mr Mill, "the foundation of government." That the property
of the rich minority can be made subservient to the pleasures of the
poor majority will scarcely be denied. But Mr Mill proposes to give the
poor majority power over the rich minority. Is it possible to doubt to
what, on his own principles, such an arrangement must lead?

It may perhaps be said that, in the long run, it is for the interest of
the people that property should be secure, and that therefore they will
respect it. We answer thus:--It cannot be pretended that it is not for
the immediate interest of the people to plunder the rich. Therefore,
even if it were quite certain that, in the long run, the people would,
as a body, lose by doing so, it would not necessarily follow that the
fear of remote ill consequences would overcome the desire of immediate
acquisitions. Every individual might flatter himself that the punishment
would not fall on him. Mr Mill himself tells us, in his Essay on
Jurisprudence, that no quantity of evil which is remote and uncertain
will suffice to prevent crime.

But we are rather inclined to think that it would, on the whole, be
for the interest of the majority to plunder the rich. If so, the
Utilitarians will say, that the rich OUGHT to be plundered. We deny the
inference. For, in the first place, if the object of government be
the greatest happiness of the greatest number, the intensity of the
suffering which a measure inflicts must be taken into consideration,
as well as the number of the sufferers. In the next place, we have
to notice one most important distinction which Mr Mill has altogether
overlooked. Throughout his essay, he confounds the community with the
species. He talks of the greatest happiness of the greatest number:
but, when we examine his reasonings, we find that he thinks only of the
greatest number of a single generation.

Therefore, even if we were to concede that all those arguments of which
we have exposed the fallacy are unanswerable, we might still deny the
conclusion at which the essayist arrives. Even if we were to grant that
he had found out the form of government which is best for the majority
of the people now living on the face of the earth, we might still
without inconsistency maintain that form of government to be pernicious
to mankind. It would still be incumbent on Mr Mill to prove that the
interest of every generation is identical with the interest of all
succeeding generations. And how on his own principles he could do this
we are at a loss to conceive.

The case, indeed, is strictly analogous to that of an aristocratic
government. In an aristocracy, says Mr Mill, the few being invested with
the powers of government, can take the objects of their desires from the
people. In the same manner, every generation in turn can gratify itself
at the expense of posterity,--priority of time, in the latter case,
giving an advantage exactly corresponding to that which superiority
of station gives in the former. That an aristocracy will abuse its
advantage, is, according to Mr Mill, matter of demonstration. Is it not
equally certain that the whole people will do the same: that, if they
have the power, they will commit waste of every sort on the estate of
mankind, and transmit it to posterity impoverished and desolated?

How is it possible for any person who holds the doctrines of Mr Mill to
doubt that the rich, in a democracy such as that which he recommends,
would be pillaged as unmercifully as under a Turkish Pacha? It is no
doubt for the interest of the next generation, and it may be for the
remote interest of the present generation, that property should be held
sacred. And so no doubt it will be for the interest of the next Pacha,
and even for that of the present Pacha, if he should hold office long,
that the inhabitants of his Pachalik should be encouraged to accumulate
wealth. Scarcely any despotic sovereign has plundered his subjects to a
large extent without having reason before the end of his reign to regret
it. Everybody knows how bitterly Louis the Fourteenth, towards the
close of his life, lamented his former extravagance. If that magnificent
prince had not expended millions on Marli and Versailles, and tens of
millions on the aggrandisement of his grandson, he would not have been
compelled at last to pay servile court to low-born money-lenders, to
humble himself before men on whom, in the days of his pride, he would
not have vouchsafed to look, for the means of supporting even his own
household. Examples to the same effect might easily be multiplied.
But despots, we see, do plunder their subjects, though history and
experience tell them that, by prematurely exacting the means of
profusion, they are in fact devouring the seed-corn from which the
future harvest of revenue is to spring. Why then should we suppose
that the people will be deterred from procuring immediate relief and
enjoyment by the fear of distant calamities, of calamities which perhaps
may not be fully felt till the times of their grandchildren?

These conclusions are strictly drawn from Mr Mill's own principles: and,
unlike most of the conclusions which he has himself drawn from those
principles, they are not as far as we know contradicted by facts.
The case of the United States is not in point. In a country where the
necessaries of life are cheap and the wages of labour high, where a man
who has no capital but his legs and arms may expect to become rich by
industry and frugality, it is not very decidedly even for the immediate
advantage of the poor to plunder the rich; and the punishment of doing
so would very speedily follow the offence. But in countries in which
the great majority live from hand to mouth, and in which vast masses of
wealth have been accumulated by a comparatively small number, the case
is widely different. The immediate want is, at particular seasons,
craving, imperious, irresistible. In our own time it has steeled men
to the fear of the gallows, and urged them on the point of the bayonet.
And, if these men had at their command that gallows and those bayonets
which now scarcely restrain them, what is to be expected? Nor is this
state of things one which can exist only under a bad government. If
there be the least truth in the doctrines of the school to which Mr
Mill belongs, the increase of population will necessarily produce it
everywhere. The increase of population is accelerated by good and cheap
government. Therefore, the better the government, the greater is the
inequality of conditions: and the greater the inequality of conditions,
the stronger are the motives which impel the populace to spoliation. As
for America, we appeal to the twentieth century.

It is scarcely necessary to discuss the effects which a general
spoliation of the rich would produce. It may indeed happen that, where
a legal and political system full of abuses is inseparably bound up with
the institution of property, a nation may gain by a single convulsion,
in which both perish together. The price is fearful. But if, when the
shock is over, a new order of things should arise under which property
may enjoy security, the industry of individuals will soon repair the
devastation. Thus we entertain no doubt that the Revolution was, on the
whole, a most salutary event for France. But would France have gained
if, ever since the year 1793, she had been governed by a democratic
convention? If Mr Mill's principles be sound, we say that almost her
whole capital would by this time have been annihilated. As soon as the
first explosion was beginning to be forgotten, as soon as wealth again
began to germinate, as soon as the poor again began to compare their
cottages and salads with the hotels and banquets of the rich, there
would have been another scramble for property, another maximum, another
general confiscation, another reign of terror. Four or five such
convulsions following each other, at intervals of ten or twelve years,
would reduce the most flourishing countries of Europe to the state of
Barbary or the Morea.

The civilised part of the world has now nothing to fear from the
hostility of savage nations. Once the deluge of barbarism has passed
over it, to destroy and to fertilise; and in the present state of
mankind we enjoy a full security against that calamity. That flood will
no more return to cover the earth. But is it possible that in the bosom
of civilisation itself may be engendered the malady which shall destroy
it? Is it possible that institutions may be established which, without
the help of earthquake, of famine, of pestilence, or of the foreign
sword, may undo the work of so many ages of wisdom and glory, and
gradually sweep away taste, literature, science, commerce, manufactures,
everything but the rude arts necessary to the support of animal life?
Is it possible that, in two or three hundred years, a few lean and
half-naked fishermen may divide with owls and foxes the ruins of the
greatest European cities--may wash their nets amidst the relics of her
gigantic docks, and build their huts out of the capitals of her stately
cathedrals? If the principles of Mr Mill be sound, we say, without
hesitation, that the form of government which he recommends will
assuredly produce all this. But, if these principles be unsound, if
the reasonings by which we have opposed them be just, the higher and
middling orders are the natural representatives of the human race.
Their interest may be opposed in some things to that of their poorer
contemporaries; but it is identical with that of the innumerable
generations which are to follow.

Mr Mill concludes his essay, by answering an objection often made to the
project of universal suffrage--that the people do not understand their
own interests. We shall not go through his arguments on this subject,
because, till he has proved that it is for the interest of the people
to respect property, he only makes matters worse by proving that they
understand their interests. But we cannot refrain from treating our
readers with a delicious bonne bouche of wisdom, which he has kept for
the last moment.

"The opinions of that class of the people who are below the middle rank
are formed, and their minds are directed, by that intelligent, that
virtuous rank, who come the most immediately in contact with them, who
are in the constant habit of intimate communication with them, to whom
they fly for advice and assistance in all their numerous difficulties,
upon whom they feel an immediate and daily dependence in health and in
sickness, in infancy and in old age, to whom their children look up as
models for their imitation, whose opinions they hear daily repeated, and
account it their honour to adopt. There can be no doubt that the middle
rank, which gives to science, to art, and to legislation itself their
most distinguished ornaments, and is the chief source of all that has
exalted and refined human nature, is that portion of the community, of
which, if the basis of representation were ever so far extended, the
opinion would ultimately decide. Of the people beneath them, a vast
majority would be sure to be guided by their advice and example."

This single paragraph is sufficient to upset Mr Mill's theory. Will
the people act against their own interest? Or will the middle rank
act against its own interest? Or is the interest of the middle rank
identical with the interest of the people? If the people act according
to the directions of the middle rank, as Mr Mill says that they
assuredly will, one of these three questions must be answered in
the affirmative. But, if any one of the three be answered in the
affirmative, his whole system falls to the ground. If the interest of
the middle rank be identical with that of the people, why should not
the powers of government be intrusted to that rank? If the powers of
government were intrusted to that rank, there would evidently be an
aristocracy of wealth; and "to constitute an aristocracy of wealth,
though it were a very numerous one, would," according to Mr Mill,
"leave the community without protection, and exposed to all the evils
of unbridled power." Will not the same motives which induce the middle
classes to abuse one kind of power induce them to abuse another? If
their interest be the same with that of the people they will govern the
people well. If it be opposite to that of the people they will advise
the people ill. The system of universal suffrage, therefore, according
to Mr Mill's own account, is only a device for doing circuitously what
a representative system, with a pretty high qualification, would do
directly.

So ends this celebrated Essay. And such is this philosophy for which the
experience of three thousand years is to be discarded; this philosophy,
the professors of which speak as if it had guided the world to the
knowledge of navigation and alphabetical writing; as if, before its
dawn, the inhabitants of Europe had lived in caverns and eaten each
other! We are sick, it seems, like the children of Israel, of the
objects of our old and legitimate worship. We pine for a new idolatry.
All that is costly and all that is ornamental in our intellectual
treasures must be delivered up, and cast into the furnace--and there
comes out this Calf!

Our readers can scarcely mistake our object in writing this article.
They will not suspect us of any disposition to advocate the cause of
absolute monarchy, or of any narrow form of oligarchy, or to exaggerate
the evils of popular government. Our object at present is, not so much
to attack or defend any particular system of polity, as to expose the
vices of a kind of reasoning utterly unfit for moral and political
discussions; of a kind of reasoning which may so readily be turned to
purposes of falsehood that it ought to receive no quarter, even when by
accident it may be employed on the side of truth.

Our objection to the essay of Mr Mill is fundamental. We believe that
it is utterly impossible to deduce the science of government from the
principles of human nature.

What proposition is there respecting human nature which is absolutely
and universally true? We know of only one: and that is not only true,
but identical; that men always act from self-interest. This truism the
Utilitarians proclaim with as much pride as if it were new, and as much
zeal as if it were important. But in fact, when explained, it means only
that men, if they can, will do as they choose. When we see the actions
of a man we know with certainty what he thinks his interest to be. But
it is impossible to reason with certainty from what WE take to be his
interest to his actions. One man goes without a dinner that he may add
a shilling to a hundred thousand pounds: another runs in debt to
give balls and masquerades. One man cuts his father's throat to get
possession of his old clothes: another hazards his own life to save that
of an enemy. One man volunteers on a forlorn hope: another is drummed
out of a regiment for cowardice. Each of these men has, no doubt, acted
from self-interest. But we gain nothing by knowing this, except the
pleasure, if it be one, of multiplying useless words. In fact, this
principle is just as recondite and just as important as the great truth
that whatever is, is. If a philosopher were always to state facts in
the following form--"There is a shower: but whatever is, is; therefore,
there is a shower,"--his reasoning would be perfectly sound; but we
do not apprehend that it would materially enlarge the circle of human
knowledge. And it is equally idle to attribute any importance to a
proposition, which, when interpreted means only that a man had rather do
what he had rather do.

If the doctrine, that men always act from self-interest, be laid down in
any other sense than this--if the meaning of the word self-interest
be narrowed so as to exclude any one of the motives which may by
possibility act on any human being, the proposition ceases to be
identical: but at the same time it ceases to be true.

What we have said of the word "self-interest" applies to all the
synonymes and circumlocutions which are employed to convey the same
meaning; pain and pleasure, happiness and misery, objects of desire, and
so forth.

The whole art of Mr Mill's essay consists in one simple trick of
legerdemain. It consists in using words of the sort which we have been
describing first in one sense and then in another. Men will take the
objects of their desire if they can. Unquestionably:--but this is an
identical proposition: for an object of desire means merely a thing
which a man will procure if he can. Nothing can possibly be inferred
from a maxim of this kind. When we see a man take something we shall
know that it was an object of his desire. But till then we have no means
of judging with certainty what he desires or what he will take. The
general proposition, however, having been admitted, Mr Mill proceeds to
reason as if men had no desires but those which can be gratified only by
spoliation and oppression. It then becomes easy to deduce doctrines of
vast importance from the original axiom. The only misfortune is, that by
thus narrowing the meaning of the word desire the axiom becomes false,
and all the doctrines consequent upon it are false likewise.

When we pass beyond those maxims which it is impossible to deny without
a contradiction in terms, and which, therefore, do not enable us to
advance a single step in practical knowledge, we do not believe that
it is possible to lay down a single general rule respecting the motives
which influence human actions. There is nothing which may not, by
association or by comparison, become an object either of desire or
of aversion. The fear of death is generally considered as one of the
strongest of our feelings. It is the most formidable sanction which
legislators have been able to devise. Yet it is notorious that, as Lord
Bacon has observed, there is no passion by which that fear has not been
often overcome. Physical pain is indisputably an evil; yet it has been
often endured and even welcomed. Innumerable martyrs have exulted in
torments which made the spectators shudder: and to use a more homely
illustration, there are few wives who do not long to be mothers.

Is the love of approbation a stronger motive than the love of wealth? It
is impossible to answer this question generally even in the case of an
individual with whom we are very intimate. We often say, indeed, that
a man loves fame more than money, or money more than fame. But this is
said in a loose and popular sense; for there is scarcely a man who
would not endure a few sneers for a great sum of money, if he were in
pecuniary distress; and scarcely a man, on the other hand, who, if he
were in flourishing circumstances, would expose himself to the hatred
and contempt of the public for a trifle. In order, therefore, to return
a precise answer even about a single human being, we must know what is
the amount of the sacrifice of reputation demanded and of the pecuniary
advantage offered, and in what situation the person to whom the
temptation is proposed stands at the time. But, when the question is
propounded generally about the whole species, the impossibility of
answering is still more evident. Man differs from man; generation from
generation; nation from nation. Education, station, sex, age, accidental
associations, produce infinite shades of variety.

Now, the only mode in which we can conceive it possible to deduce a
theory of government from the principles of human nature is this.
We must find out what are the motives which, in a particular form of
government, impel rulers to bad measures, and what are those which
impel them to good measures. We must then compare the effect of the two
classes of motives; and according as we find the one or the other to
prevail, we must pronounce the form of government in question good or
bad.

Now let it be supposed that, in aristocratical and monarchical states,
the desire of wealth and other desires of the same class always tend
to produce misgovernment, and that the love of approbation and other
kindred feelings always tend to produce good government. Then, if it be
impossible, as we have shown that it is, to pronounce generally which of
the two classes of motives is the more influential, it is impossible
to find out, a priori, whether a monarchical or aristocratical form of
government be good or bad.

Mr Mill has avoided the difficulty of making the comparison, by very
coolly putting all the weights into one of the scales,--by reasoning as
if no human being had ever sympathised with the feelings, been gratified
by the thanks, or been galled by the execrations, of another.

The case, as we have put it, is decisive against Mr Mill, and yet we
have put it in a manner far too favourable to him. For, in fact, it is
impossible to lay it down as a general rule that the love of wealth in a
sovereign always produces misgovernment, or the love of approbation good
government. A patient and far-sighted ruler, for example, who is
less desirous of raising a great sum immediately than of securing an
unencumbered and progressive revenue, will, by taking off restraints
from trade and giving perfect security to property, encourage
accumulation and entice capital from foreign countries. The commercial
policy of Prussia, which is perhaps superior to that of any country in
the world, and which puts to shame the absurdities of our republican
brethren on the other side of the Atlantic, has probably sprung from the
desire of an absolute ruler to enrich himself. On the other hand, when
the popular estimate of virtues and vices is erroneous, which is too
often the case, the love of approbation leads sovereigns to spend
the wealth of the nation on useless shows, or to engage in wanton and
destructive wars. If then we can neither compare the strength of two
motives, nor determine with certainty to what description of actions
either motive will lead, how can we possibly deduce a theory of
government from the nature of man?

How, then, are we to arrive at just conclusions on a subject so
important to the happiness of mankind? Surely by that method which, in
every experimental science to which it has been applied, has signally
increased the power and knowledge of our species,--by that method for
which our new philosophers would substitute quibbles scarcely worthy
of the barbarous respondents and opponents of the middle ages,--by the
method of Induction;--by observing the present state of the world,--by
assiduously studying the history of past ages,--by sifting the evidence
of facts,--by carefully combining and contrasting those which
are authentic,--by generalising with judgment and diffidence,--by
perpetually bringing the theory which we have constructed to the test
of new facts,--by correcting, or altogether abandoning it, according
as those new facts prove it to be partially or fundamentally unsound.
Proceeding thus,--patiently,--diligently,--candidly,--we may hope to
form a system as far inferior in pretension to that which we have been
examining and as far superior to it in real utility as the prescriptions
of a great physician, varying with every stage of every malady and with
the constitution of every patient, to the pill of the advertising quack
which is to cure all human beings, in all climates, of all diseases.

This is that noble Science of Politics, which is equally removed from
the barren theories of the Utilitarian sophists, and from the petty
craft, so often mistaken for statesmanship by minds grown narrow in
habits of intrigue, jobbing, and official etiquette;--which of all
sciences is the most important to the welfare of nations,--which of
all sciences most tends to expand and invigorate the mind,--which draws
nutriment and ornament from every part of philosophy and literature,
and dispenses in return nutriment and ornament to all. We are sorry and
surprised when we see men of good intentions and good natural abilities
abandon this healthful and generous study to pore over speculations like
those which we have been examining. And we should heartily rejoice to
find that our remarks had induced any person of this description to
employ, in researches of real utility, the talents and industry which
are now wasted on verbal sophisms, wretched of their wretched kind.

As to the greater part of the sect, it is, we apprehend, of little
consequence what they study or under whom. It would be more amusing, to
be sure, and more reputable, if they would take up the old republican
cant and declaim about Brutus and Timoleon, the duty of killing tyrants
and the blessedness of dying for liberty. But, on the whole, they
might have chosen worse. They may as well be Utilitarians as jockeys
or dandies. And, though quibbling about self-interest and motives, and
objects of desire, and the greatest happiness of the greatest number,
is but a poor employment for a grown man, it certainly hurts the health
less than hard drinking, and the fortune less than high play; it is not
much more laughable than phrenology, and is immeasurably more humane
than cock-fighting.

*****



WESTMINSTER REVIEWER'S DEFENCE OF MILL. (June 1829.)

     "Westminster Review" Number XXI., Article XVI.  "Edinburgh
     Review" Number XCVII., Article on Mill's Essays on
     Government, etc.

We have had great reason, we think, to be gratified by the success of
our late attack on the Utilitarians. We could publish a long list of the
cures which it has wrought in cases previously considered as hopeless.
Delicacy forbids us to divulge names; but we cannot refrain from
alluding to two remarkable instances. A respectable lady writes to
inform us that her son, who was plucked at Cambridge last January, has
not been heard to call Sir James Mackintosh a poor ignorant fool
more than twice since the appearance of our article. A distinguished
political writer in the Westminster and Parliamentary Reviews has
borrowed Hume's History, and has actually got as far as the battle of
Agincourt. He assures us that he takes great pleasure in his new study,
and that he is very impatient to learn how Scotland and England became
one kingdom. But the greatest compliment that we have received is that
Mr Bentham himself should have condescended to take the field in defence
of Mr Mill. We have not been in the habit of reviewing reviews: but, as
Mr Bentham is a truly great man, and as his party have thought fit to
announce in puffs and placards that this article is written by him, and
contains not only an answer to our attacks, but a development of the
"greatest happiness principle," with the latest improvements of the
author, we shall for once depart from our general rule. However the
conflict may terminate, we shall at least not have been vanquished by an
ignoble hand.

Of Mr Bentham himself we shall endeavour, even while defending ourselves
against his reproaches, to speak with the respect to which his venerable
age, his genius, and his public services entitle him. If any harsh
expression should escape us, we trust that he will attribute it to
inadvertence, to the momentary warmth of controversy,--to anything, in
short, rather than to a design of affronting him. Though we have
nothing in common with the crew of Hurds and Boswells, who, either from
interested motives, or from the habit of intellectual servility and
dependence, pamper and vitiate his appetite with the noxious sweetness
of their undiscerning praise, we are not perhaps less competent than
they to appreciate his merit, or less sincerely disposed to acknowledge
it. Though we may sometimes think his reasonings on moral and political
questions feeble and sophistical--though we may sometimes smile at his
extraordinary language--we can never be weary of admiring the amplitude
of his comprehension, the keenness of his penetration, the exuberant
fertility with which his mind pours forth arguments and illustrations.
However sharply he may speak of us, we can never cease to revere in him
the father of the philosophy of Jurisprudence. He has a full right to
all the privileges of a great inventor: and, in our court of criticism,
those privileges will never be pleaded in vain. But they are limited
in the same manner in which, fortunately for the ends of justice, the
privileges of the peerage are now limited. The advantage is personal and
incommunicable. A nobleman can now no longer cover with his protection
every lackey who follows his heels, or every bully who draws in his
quarrel: and, highly as we respect the exalted rank which Mr Bentham
holds among the writers of our time, yet when, for the due maintenance
of literary police, we shall think it necessary to confute sophists,
or to bring pretenders to shame, we shall not depart from the ordinary
course of our proceedings because the offenders call themselves
Benthamites.

Whether Mr Mill has much reason to thank Mr Bentham for undertaking his
defence, our readers, when they have finished this article, will perhaps
be inclined to doubt. Great as Mr Bentham's talents are, he has, we
think, shown an undue confidence in them. He should have considered how
dangerous it is for any man, however eloquent and ingenious he may
be, to attack or defend a book without reading it: and we feel quite
convinced that Mr Bentham would never have written the article before
us if he had, before he began, perused our review with attention, and
compared it with Mr Mill's Essay.

He has utterly mistaken our object and meaning. He seems to think that
we have undertaken to set up some theory of government in opposition to
that of Mr Mill. But we distinctly disclaimed any such design. From
the beginning to the end of our article, there is not, as far as
we remember, a single sentence which, when fairly construed, can be
considered as indicating any such design. If such an expression can be
found, it has been dropped by inadvertence. Our object was to prove, not
that monarchy and aristocracy are good, but that Mr Mill had not proved
them to be bad; not that democracy is bad, but that Mr Mill had not
proved it to be good. The points in issue are these: whether the famous
Essay on Government be, as it has been called, a perfect solution of
the great political problem, or a series of sophisms and blunders; and
whether the sect which, while it glories in the precision of its logic,
extols this Essay as a masterpiece of demonstration be a sect deserving
of the respect or of the derision of mankind. These, we say, are the
issues; and on these we with full confidence put ourselves on the
country.

It is not necessary, for the purposes of this investigation, that
we should state what our political creed is, or whether we have any
political creed at all. A man who cannot act the most trivial part in a
farce has a right to hiss Romeo Coates: a man who does not know a vein
from an artery may caution a simple neighbour against the advertisements
of Dr Eady. A complete theory of government would indeed be a noble
present to mankind; but it is a present which we do not hope and do not
pretend that we can offer. If, however, we cannot lay the foundation, it
is something to clear away the rubbish; if we cannot set up truth, it
is something to pull down error. Even if the subjects of which the
Utilitarians treat were subjects of less fearful importance, we should
think it no small service to the cause of good sense and good taste to
point out the contrast between their magnificent pretensions and their
miserable performances. Some of them have, however, thought fit to
display their ingenuity on questions of the most momentous kind, and on
questions concerning which men cannot reason ill with impunity. We think
it, under these circumstances, an absolute duty to expose the fallacy of
their arguments. It is no matter of pride or of pleasure. To read their
works is the most soporific employment that we know; and a man ought no
more to be proud of refuting them than of having two legs. We must now
come to close quarters with Mr Bentham, whom, we need not say, we do not
mean to include in this observation. He charges us with maintaining,--

"First, 'That it is not true that all despots govern ill;'--whereon the
world is in a mistake, and the Whigs have the true light. And for proof,
principally,--that the King of Denmark is not Caligula. To which the
answer is, that the King of Denmark is not a despot. He was put in his
present situation by the people turning the scale in his favour in a
balanced contest between himself and the nobility. And it is quite clear
that the same power would turn the scale the other way the moment a King
of Denmark should take into his head to be Caligula. It is of little
consequence by what congeries of letters the Majesty of Denmark is
typified in the royal press of Copenhagen, while the real fact is
that the sword of the people is suspended over his head, in case of
ill-behaviour, as effectually as in other countries where more noise is
made upon the subject. Everybody believes the sovereign of Denmark to be
a good and virtuous gentleman; but there is no more superhuman merit in
his being so than in the case of a rural squire who does not shoot his
land-steward or quarter his wife with his yeomanry sabre.

"It is true that there are partial exceptions to the rule, that all
men use power as badly as they dare. There may have been such things as
amiable negro-drivers and sentimental masters of press-gangs; and here
and there, among the odd freaks of human nature, there may have been
specimens of men who were 'No tyrants, though bred up to tyranny.' But
it would be as wise to recommend wolves for nurses at the Foundling on
the credit of Romulus and Remus as to substitute the exception for the
general fact, and advise mankind to take to trusting to arbitrary power
on the credit of these specimens."

Now, in the first place, we never cited the case of Denmark to prove
that all despots do not govern ill. We cited it to prove that Mr Mill
did not know how to reason. Mr Mill gave it as a reason for deducing the
theory of government from the general laws of human nature that the King
of Denmark was not Caligula. This we said, and we still say, was absurd.

In the second place, it was not we, but Mr Mill, who said that the King
of Denmark was a despot. His words are these:--"The people of Denmark,
tired out with the oppression of an aristocracy, resolved that their
king should be absolute; and under their absolute monarch are as well
governed as any people in Europe." We leave Mr Bentham to settle with Mr
Mill the distinction between a despot and an absolute king.

In the third place, Mr Bentham says that there was in Denmark a balanced
contest between the king and the nobility. We find some difficulty in
believing that Mr Bentham seriously means to say this, when we consider
that Mr Mill has demonstrated the chance to be as infinity to one
against the existence of such a balanced contest.

Fourthly, Mr Bentham says that in this balanced contest the people
turned the scale in favour of the king against the aristocracy. But Mr
Mill has demonstrated that it cannot possibly be for the interest of
the monarchy and democracy to join against the aristocracy; and that
wherever the three parties exist, the king and the aristocracy will
combine against the people. This, Mr Mill assures us, is as certain as
anything which depends upon human will.

Fifthly, Mr Bentham says that, if the King of Denmark were to oppress
his people, the people and nobles would combine against the king. But Mr
Mill has proved that it can never be for the interest of the aristocracy
to combine with the democracy against the king. It is evidently Mr
Bentham's opinion, that "monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy may
balance each other, and by mutual checks produce good government." But
this is the very theory which Mr Mill pronounces to be the wildest,
the most visionary, the most chimerical ever broached on the subject of
government.

We have no dispute on these heads with Mr Bentham. On the contrary, we
think his explanation true--or at least, true in part; and we heartily
thank him for lending us his assistance to demolish the essay of his
follower. His wit and his sarcasm are sport to us; but they are death to
his unhappy disciple.

Mr Bentham seems to imagine that we have said something implying an
opinion favourable to despotism. We can scarcely suppose that, as he has
not condescended to read that portion of our work which he undertook to
answer, he can have bestowed much attention on its general character.
Had he done so he would, we think, scarcely have entertained such
a suspicion. Mr Mill asserts, and pretends to prove, that under no
despotic government does any human being, except the tools of the
sovereign, possess more than the necessaries of life, and that the most
intense degree of terror is kept up by constant cruelty. This, we say,
is untrue. It is not merely a rule to which there are exceptions: but it
is not the rule. Despotism is bad; but it is scarcely anywhere so bad
as Mr Mill says that it is everywhere. This we are sure Mr Bentham will
allow. If a man were to say that five hundred thousand people die every
year in London of dram-drinking, he would not assert a proposition more
monstrously false than Mr Mill's. Would it be just to charge us with
defending intoxication because we might say that such a man was grossly
in the wrong?

We say with Mr Bentham that despotism is a bad thing. We say with Mr
Bentham that the exceptions do not destroy the authority of the rule.
But this we say--that a single exception overthrows an argument which
either does not prove the rule at all, or else proves the rule to be
TRUE WITHOUT EXCEPTIONS; and such an argument is Mr Mill's argument
against despotism. In this respect there is a great difference between
rules drawn from experience and rules deduced a priori. We might believe
that there had been a fall of snow last August, and yet not think it
likely that there would be snow next August. A single occurrence opposed
to our general experience would tell for very little in our calculation
of the chances. But, if we could once satisfy ourselves that in ANY
single right-angled triangle the square of the hypothenuse might be
less than the squares of the sides, we must reject the forty-seventh
proposition of Euclid altogether. We willingly adopt Mr Bentham's lively
illustration about the wolf; and we will say in passing that it gives
us real pleasure to see how little old age has diminished the gaiety of
this eminent man. We can assure him that his merriment gives us far more
pleasure on his account than pain on our own. We say with him, Keep the
wolf out of the nursery, in spite of the story of Romulus and Remus.
But, if the shepherd who saw the wolf licking and suckling those famous
twins were, after telling this story to his companions, to assert that
it was an infallible rule that no wolf ever had spared, or ever would
spare, any living thing which might fall in its way--that its nature was
carnivorous--and that it could not possibly disobey its nature, we think
that the hearers might have been excused for staring. It may be strange,
but is not inconsistent, that a wolf which has eaten ninety-nine
children should spare the hundredth. But the fact that a wolf has once
spared a child is sufficient to show that there must be some flaw in the
chain of reasoning purporting to prove that wolves cannot possibly spare
children.

Mr Bentham proceeds to attack another position which he conceives us to
maintain:--

"Secondly, That a government not under the control of the community (for
there is no question upon any other) 'MAY SOON BE SATURATED.' Tell it
not in Bow Street, whisper it not in Hatton Garden,--that there is
a plan for preventing injustice by 'saturation.' With what peals of
unearthly merriment would Minos, Aeacus, and Rhadamanthus be aroused
upon their benches, if the 'light wings of saffron and of blue' should
bear this theory into their grim domains! Why do not the owners of
pocket-handkerchiefs try to 'saturate?' Why does not the cheated
publican beg leave to check the gulosity of his defrauder with a
repetatur haustus, and the pummelled plaintiff neutralise the malice of
his adversary, by requesting to have the rest of the beating in presence
of the court,--if it is not that such conduct would run counter to all
the conclusions of experience, and be the procreation of the mischief it
affected to destroy? Woful is the man whose wealth depends on his having
more than somebody else can be persuaded to take from him; and woful
also is the people that is in such a case!"

Now this is certainly very pleasant writing: but there is no great
difficulty in answering the argument. The real reason which makes it
absurd to think of preventing theft by pensioning off thieves is this,
that there is no limit to the number of thieves. If there were only a
hundred thieves in a place, and we were quite sure that no person not
already addicted to theft would take to it, it might become a question
whether to keep the thieves from dishonesty by raising them above
distress would not be a better course than to employ officers against
them. But the actual cases are not parallel. Every man who chooses
can become a thief; but a man cannot become a king or a member of
the aristocracy whenever he chooses. The number of the depredators is
limited; and therefore the amount of depredation, so far as physical
pleasures are concerned, must be limited also. Now, we made the remark
which Mr Bentham censures with reference to physical pleasures only. The
pleasures of ostentation, of taste, of revenge, and other pleasures of
the same description, have, we distinctly allowed, no limit. Our words
are these:--"a king or an aristocracy may be supplied to satiety with
CORPORAL PLEASURES, at an expense which the rudest and poorest community
would scarcely feel." Does Mr Bentham deny this? If he does, we
leave him to Mr Mill. "What," says that philosopher, in his Essay on
Education, "what are the ordinary pursuits of wealth and power, which
kindle to such a height the ardour of mankind? Not the mere love of
eating and of drinking, or all the physical objects together which
wealth can purchase or power command. With these every man is in the
long run speedily satisfied." What the difference is between being
speedily satisfied and being soon saturated, we leave Mr Bentham and Mr
Mill to settle together.

The word "saturation," however, seems to provoke Mr Bentham's mirth. It
certainly did not strike us as very pure English; but, as Mr Mill used
it, we supposed it to be good Benthamese. With the latter language we
are not critically acquainted, though, as it has many roots in common
with our mother tongue, we can contrive, by the help of a converted
Utilitarian, who attends us in the capacity of Moonshee, to make out a
little. But Mr Bentham's authority is of course decisive; and we bow to
it.

Mr Bentham next represents us as maintaining:--

"Thirdly, That 'though there may be some tastes and propensities that
have no point of saturation, there exists a sufficient check in the
desire of the good opinion of others.' The misfortune of this argument
is, that no man cares for the good opinion of those he has been
accustomed to wrong, If oysters have opinions, it is probable they think
very ill of those who eat them in August; but small is the effect upon
the autumnal glutton that engulfs their gentle substances within his
own. The planter and the slave-driver care just as much about negro
opinion, as the epicure about the sentiments of oysters. M. Ude throwing
live eels into the fire as a kindly method of divesting them of the
unsavoury oil that lodges beneath their skins, is not more convinced of
the immense aggregate of good which arises to the lordlier parts of the
creation, than is the gentle peer who strips his fellow man of country
and of family for a wild-fowl slain. The goodly landowner, who lives by
morsels squeezed indiscriminately from the waxy hands of the cobbler and
the polluted ones of the nightman, is in no small degree the object of
both hatred and contempt; but it is to be feared that he is a long way
from feeling them to be intolerable. The principle of 'At mihi plaudo
ipse domi, simul ac nummos contemplor in arca,' is sufficient to make
a wide interval between the opinions of the plaintiff and defendant in
such cases. In short, to banish law and leave all plaintiffs to trust
to the desire of reputation on the opposite side, would only be
transporting the theory of the Whigs from the House of Commons to
Westminster Hall."

Now, in the first place, we never maintained the proposition which Mr
Bentham puts into our mouths. We said, and say, that there is a CERTAIN
check to the rapacity and cruelty of men, in their desire of the good
opinion of others. We never said that it was sufficient. Let Mr Mill
show it to be insufficient. It is enough for us to prove that there is
a set-off against the principle from which Mr Mill deduces the whole
theory of government. The balance may be, and, we believe, will be,
against despotism and the narrower forms of aristocracy. But what is
this to the correctness or incorrectness of Mr Mill's accounts? The
question is not, whether the motives which lead rulers to behave ill
are stronger than those which lead them to behave well;--but, whether
we ought to form a theory of government by looking ONLY at the motives
which lead rulers to behave ill and never noticing those which lead them
to behave well.

Absolute rulers, says Mr Bentham, do not care for the good opinion of
their subjects; for no man cares for the good opinion of those whom he
has been accustomed to wrong. By Mr Bentham's leave, this is a plain
begging of the question. The point at issue is this:--Will kings and
nobles wrong the people? The argument in favour of kings and nobles is
this:--they will not wrong the people, because they care for the good
opinion of the people. But this argument Mr Bentham meets thus:--they
will not care for the good opinion of the people, because they are
accustomed to wrong the people.

Here Mr Mill differs, as usual, from Mr Bentham. "The greatest princes,"
says he, in his Essay on Education, "the most despotical masters of
human destiny, when asked what they aim at by their wars and conquests,
would answer, if sincere, as Frederick of Prussia answered, pour faire
parler de soi;--to occupy a large space in the admiration of mankind."
Putting Mr Mill's and Mr Bentham's principles together, we might make
out very easily that "the greatest princes, the most despotical masters
of human destiny," would never abuse their power.

A man who has been long accustomed to injure people must also have been
long accustomed to do without their love, and to endure their aversion.
Such a man may not miss the pleasure of popularity; for men seldom miss
a pleasure which they have long denied themselves. An old tyrant does
without popularity just as an old water-drinker does without wine. But,
though it is perfectly true that men who for the good of their health
have long abstained from wine feel the want of it very little, it would
be absurd to infer that men will always abstain from wine when their
health requires that they should do so. And it would be equally absurd
to say, because men who have been accustomed to oppress care little for
popularity, that men will therefore necessarily prefer the pleasure of
oppression to those of popularity.

Then, again, a man may be accustomed to wrong people in one point and
not in another. He may care for their good opinion with regard to one
point and not with regard to another. The Regent Orleans laughed at
charges of impiety, libertinism, extravagance, idleness, disgraceful
promotions. But the slightest allusion to the charge of poisoning threw
him into convulsions. Louis the Fifteenth braved the hatred and contempt
of his subjects during many years of the most odious and imbecile
misgovernment. But, when a report was spread that he used human blood
for his baths, he was almost driven mad by it. Surely Mr Bentham's
position "that no man cares for the good opinion of those whom he has
been accustomed to wrong" would be objectionable, as far too sweeping
and indiscriminate, even if it did not involve, as in the present case
we have shown that it does, a direct begging of the question at issue.

Mr Bentham proceeds:--

"Fourthly, The Edinburgh Reviewers are of opinion, that 'it might, with
no small plausibility, be maintained, that in many countries, there are
two classes which, in some degree, answer to this description;' [viz.]
'that the poor compose the class which government is established to
restrain; and the people of some property the class to which the powers
of government may without danger be confided.'

"They take great pains, it is true, to say this and not to say it. They
shuffle and creep about, to secure a hole to escape at, if 'what they
do not assert' should be found in any degree inconvenient. A man
might waste his life in trying to find out whether the Misses of the
'Edinburgh' mean to say Yes or No in their political coquetry. But
whichever way the lovely spinsters may decide, it is diametrically
opposed to history and the evidence of facts, that the poor ARE the
class whom there is any difficulty in restraining. It is not the poor
but the rich that have a propensity to take the property of other
people. There is no instance upon earth of the poor having combined to
take away the property of the rich; and all the instances habitually
brought forward in support of it are gross misrepresentations, founded
upon the most necessary acts of self-defence on the part of the most
numerous classes. Such a misrepresentation is the common one of the
Agrarian law; which was nothing but an attempt on the part of the
Roman people to get back some part of what had been taken from them by
undisguised robbery. Such another is the stock example of the French
Revolution, appealed to by the 'Edinburgh Review' in the actual case.
It is utterly untrue that the French Revolution took place because 'the
poor began to compare their cottages and salads with the hotels and
banquets of the rich;' it took place because they were robbed of
their cottages and salads to support the hotels and banquets of their
oppressors. It is utterly untrue that there was either a scramble for
property or a general confiscation; the classes who took part with the
foreign invaders lost their property, as they would have done here, and
ought to do everywhere. All these are the vulgar errors of the man on
the lion's back,--which the lion will set to rights when he can tell his
own story. History is nothing but the relation of the sufferings of the
poor from the rich; except precisely so far as the numerous classes of
the community have contrived to keep the virtual power in their hands,
or, in other words, to establish free governments. If a poor man injures
the rich, the law is instantly at his heels; the injuries of the rich
towards the poor are always inflicted BY the law. And to enable the rich
to do this to any extent that may be practicable or prudent, there is
clearly one postulate required, which is, that the rich shall make the
law."

This passage is alone sufficient to prove that Mr Bentham has not taken
the trouble to read our article from beginning to end. We are quite sure
that he would not stoop to misrepresent it. And, if he had read it with
any attention, he would have perceived that all this coquetry, this
hesitation, this Yes and No, this saying and not saying, is simply an
exercise of the undeniable right which in controversy belongs to the
defensive side--to the side which proposes to establish nothing. The
affirmative of the issue and the burden of the proof are with Mr Mill,
not with us. We are not bound, perhaps we are not able, to show that the
form of government which he recommends is bad. It is quite enough if we
can show that he does not prove it to be good. In his proof, among many
other flaws, is this--He says, that if men are not inclined to plunder
each other, government is unnecessary, and that, if men are so inclined,
kings and aristocracies will plunder the people. Now, this we say, is a
fallacy. That SOME men will plunder their neighbours if they can, is
a sufficient reason for the existence of governments. But it is not
demonstrated that kings and aristocracies will plunder the people,
unless it be true that ALL men will plunder their neighbours, if they
can. Men are placed in very different situations. Some have all the
bodily pleasures that they desire, and many other pleasures besides,
without plundering anybody. Others can scarcely obtain their daily bread
without plundering. It may be true, but surely it is not self-evident,
that the former class is under as strong temptations to plunder as the
latter. Mr Mill was therefore bound to prove it. That he has not proved
it is one of thirty or forty fatal errors in his argument. It is not
necessary that we should express an opinion or even have an opinion on
the subject. Perhaps we are in a state of perfect scepticism: but what
then? Are we the theorymakers? When we bring before the world a theory
of government, it will be time to call upon us to offer proof at every
step. At present we stand on our undoubted logical right. We concede
nothing; and we deny nothing. We say to the Utilitarian theorists:--When
you prove your doctrine, we will believe it; and, till you prove it, we
will not believe it.

Mr Bentham has quite misunderstood what we said about the French
Revolution. We never alluded to that event for the purpose of proving
that the poor were inclined to rob the rich. Mr Mill's principles of
human nature furnished us with that part of our argument ready-made.
We alluded to the French Revolution for the purpose of illustrating
the effects which general spoliation produces on society, not for the
purpose of showing that general spoliation will take place under a
democracy. We allowed distinctly that, in the peculiar circumstances of
the French monarchy, the Revolution, though accompanied by a great shock
to the institution of property, was a blessing. Surely Mr Bentham will
not maintain that the injury produced by the deluge of assignats and
by the maximum fell only on the emigrants,--or that there were not many
emigrants who would have stayed and lived peaceably under any government
if their persons and property had been secure.

We never said that the French Revolution took place because the poor
began to compare their cottages and salads with the hotels and banquets
of the rich. We were not speaking about THE CAUSES of the Revolution,
or thinking about them. This we said, and say, that, if a democratic
government had been established in France, the poor, when they began to
compare their cottages and salads with the hotels and banquets of the
rich, would, on the supposition that Mr Mill's principles are sound,
have plundered the rich, and repeated without provocation all the
severities and confiscations which at the time of the Revolution, were
committed with provocation. We say that Mr Mill's favourite form of
government would, if his own views of human nature be just, make those
violent convulsions and transfers of property which now rarely happen,
except, as in the case of the French Revolution, when the people are
maddened by oppression, events of annual or biennial occurrence. We gave
no opinion of our own. We give none now. We say that this proposition
may be proved from Mr Mill's own premises, by steps strictly analogous
to those by which he proves monarchy and aristocracy to be bad forms of
government. To say this, is not to say that the proposition is true.
For we hold both Mr Mill's premises and his deduction to be unsound
throughout.

Mr Bentham challenges us to prove from history that the people will
plunder the rich. What does history say to Mr Mill's doctrine, that
absolute kings will always plunder their subjects so unmercifully as to
leave nothing but a bare subsistence to any except their own creatures?
If experience is to be the test, Mr Mill's theory is unsound. If Mr
Mill's reasoning a priori be sound, the people in a democracy will
plunder the rich. Let us use one weight and one measure. Let us not
throw history aside when we are proving a theory, and take it up again
when we have to refute an objection founded on the principles of that
theory.

We have not done, however, with Mr Bentham's charges against us.

"Among other specimens of their ingenuity, they think they embarrass the
subject by asking why, on the principles in question, women should not
have votes as well as men. AND WHY NOT?

     'Gentle shepherd, tell me why?'--

If the mode of election was what it ought to be, there would be no more
difficulty in women voting for a representative in Parliament than for
a director at the India House. The world will find out at some time
that the readiest way to secure justice on some points is to be just on
all:--that the whole is easier to accomplish than the part; and that,
whenever the camel is driven through the eye of the needle, it would be
simple folly and debility that would leave a hoof behind."

Why, says or sings Mr Bentham, should not women vote? It may seem
uncivil in us to turn a deaf ear to his Arcadian warblings. But we
submit, with great deference, that it is not OUR business to tell him
why. We fully agree with him that the principle of female suffrage is
not so palpably absurd that a chain of reasoning ought to be pronounced
unsound merely because it leads to female suffrage. We say that every
argument which tells in favour of the universal suffrage of the males
tells equally in favour of female suffrage. Mr Mill, however, wishes
to see all men vote, but says that it is unnecessary that women should
vote; and for making this distinction HE gives as a reason an assertion
which, in the first place, is not true, and which, in the next place,
would, if true, overset his whole theory of human nature; namely, that
the interest of the women is identical with that of the men. We side
with Mr Bentham, so far, at least, as this: that, when we join to drive
the camel through the needle, he shall go through hoof and all. We at
present desire to be excused from driving the camel. It is Mr Mill who
leaves the hoof behind. But we should think it uncourteous to reproach
him in the language which Mr Bentham, in the exercise of his paternal
authority over the sect, thinks himself entitled to employ.

"Another of their perverted ingenuities is, that 'they are rather
inclined to think,' that it would, on the whole, be for the interest of
the majority to plunder the rich; and if so, the Utilitarians will say
that the rich OUGHT to be plundered. On which it is sufficient to reply,
that for the majority to plunder the rich would amount to a declaration
that nobody should be rich; which, as all men wish to be rich, would
involve a suicide of hope. And as nobody has shown a fragment of reason
why such a proceeding should be for the general happiness, it does
not follow that the 'Utilitarians' would recommend it. The Edinburgh
Reviewers have a waiting gentlewoman's ideas of 'Utilitarianism.' It
is unsupported by anything but the pitiable 'We are rather inclined to
think'--and is utterly contradicted by the whole course of history and
human experience besides,--that there is either danger or possibility of
such a consummation as the majority agreeing on the plunder of the rich.
There have been instances in human memory, of their agreeing to plunder
rich oppressors, rich traitors, rich enemies,--but the rich simpliciter
never. It is as true now as in the days of Harrington that 'a people
never will, nor ever can, never did, nor ever shall, take up arms for
levelling.' All the commotions in the world have been for something
else; and 'levelling' is brought forward as the blind to conceal what
the other was."

We say, again and again, that we are on the defensive. We do not think
it necessary to prove that a quack medicine is poison. Let the vendor
prove it to be sanative. We do not pretend to show that universal
suffrage is an evil. Let its advocates show it to be a good. Mr Mill
tells us that, if power be given for short terms to representatives
elected by all the males of mature age, it will then be for the interest
of those representatives to promote the greatest happiness of the
greatest number. To prove this, it is necessary that he should prove
three propositions: first, that the interest of such a representative
body will be identical with the interest of the constituent body;
secondly, that the interest of the constituent body will be identical
with that of the community; thirdly, that the interest of one generation
of a community is identical with that of all succeeding generations. The
two first propositions Mr Mill attempts to prove and fails. The last he
does not even attempt to prove. We therefore refuse our assent to his
conclusions. Is this unreasonable?

We never even dreamed, what Mr Bentham conceives us to have maintained,
that it could be for the greatest happiness of MANKIND to plunder the
rich. But we are "rather inclined to think," though doubtingly and with
a disposition to yield to conviction, that it may be for the pecuniary
interest of the majority of a single generation in a thickly-peopled
country to plunder the rich. Why we are inclined to think so we will
explain, whenever we send a theory of government to an Encyclopaedia.
At present we are bound to say only that we think so, and shall think so
till somebody shows us a reason for thinking otherwise.

Mr Bentham's answer to us is simple assertion. He must not think that
we mean any discourtesy by meeting it with a simple denial. The fact is,
that almost all the governments that have ever existed in the civilised
world have been, in part at least, monarchical and aristocratical. The
first government constituted on principles approaching to those which
the Utilitarians hold was, we think, that of the United States. That the
poor have never combined to plunder the rich in the governments of the
old world, no more proves that they might not combine to plunder the
rich under a system of universal suffrage, than the fact that the
English kings of the House of Brunswick have not been Neros and
Domitians proves that sovereigns may safely be intrusted with absolute
power. Of what the people would do in a state of perfect sovereignty we
can judge only by indications, which, though rarely of much moment in
themselves, and though always suppressed with little difficulty, are yet
of great significance, and resemble those by which our domestic animals
sometimes remind us that they are of kin with the fiercest monsters of
the forest. It would not be wise to reason from the behaviour of a dog
crouching under the lash, which is the case of the Italian people,
or from the behaviour of a dog pampered with the best morsels of a
plentiful kitchen, which is the case of the purpose of America, to the
behaviour of a wolf, which is nothing but a dog run wild, after a week's
fast among the snows of the Pyrenees. No commotion, says Mr Bentham,
was ever really produced by the wish of levelling; the wish has been put
forward as a blind; but something else has been the real object. Grant
all this. But why has levelling been put forward as a blind in times
of commotion to conceal the real objects of the agitators? Is it with
declarations which involve "a suicide of hope" that man attempt to
allure others? Was famine, pestilence, slavery, ever held out to attract
the people? If levelling has been made a pretence for disturbances, the
argument against Mr Bentham's doctrine is as strong as if it had been
the real object of disturbances.

But the great objection which Mr Bentham makes to our review, still
remains to be noticed:--

"The pith of the charge against the author of the Essays is, that he has
written 'an elaborate Treatise on Government,' and 'deduced the whole
science from the assumption of certain propensities of human nature.'
Now, in the name of Sir Richard Birnie and all saints, from what else
SHOULD it be deduced? What did ever anybody imagine to be the end,
object, and design of government AS IT OUGHT TO BE but the same
operation, on an extended scale, which that meritorious chief magistrate
conducts on a limited one at Bow Street; to wit, the preventing one man
from injuring another? Imagine, then, that the Whiggery of Bow Street
were to rise up against the proposition that their science was to be
deduced from 'certain propensities of human nature,' and thereon were to
ratiocinate as follows:--

"'How then are we to arrive at just conclusions on a subject so
important to the happiness of mankind? Surely by that method, which, in
every experimental science to which it has been applied, has signally
increased the power and knowledge of our species,--by that method for
which our new philosophers would substitute quibbles scarcely worthy
of the barbarous respondents and opponents of the middle ages,--by the
method of induction,--by observing the present state of the world,--by
assiduously studying the history of past ages,--by sifting the evidence
of facts,--by carefully combining and contrasting those which
are authentic,--by generalising with judgment and diffidence,--by
perpetually bringing the theory which we have constructed to the test
of new facts,--by correcting, or altogether abandoning it, according
as those new facts prove it to be partially or fundamentally unsound.
Proceeding thus,--patiently, diligently, candidly, we may hope to form
a system as far inferior in pretension to that which we have
been examining, and as far superior to it in real utility, as the
prescriptions of a great physician, varying with every stage of every
malady, and with the constitution of every patient, to the pill of the
advertising quack, which is to cure all human beings, in all climates,
of all diseases.'

"Fancy now,--only fancy,--the delivery of these wise words at Bow
Street; and think how speedily the practical catchpolls would reply,
that all this might be very fine, but, as far as they had studied
history, the naked story was, after all, that numbers of men had a
propensity to thieving, and their business was to catch them; that they,
too, had been sifters of facts; and, to say the truth, their simple
opinion was, that their brethren of the red waistcoat--though they
should be sorry to think ill of any man--had somehow contracted a
leaning to the other side, and were more bent on puzzling the case for
the benefit of the defendants, than on doing the duty of good officers
and true. Such would, beyond all doubt, be the sentence passed on such
trimmers in the microcosm of Bow Street. It might not absolutely follow
that they were in a plot to rob the goldsmiths' shops, or to set fire
to the House of Commons; but it would be quite clear that they had got
A FEELING,--that they were in process of siding with the thieves,--and
that it was not to them that any man must look who was anxious that
pantries should be safe."

This is all very witty; but it does not touch us. On the present
occasion, we cannot but flatter ourselves that we bear a much greater
resemblance to a practical catchpoll than either Mr Mill or Mr Bentham.
It would, to be sure, be very absurd in a magistrate discussing the
arrangements of a police-office, to spout in the style either of our
article or Mr Bentham's; but, in substance, he would proceed, if he were
a man of sense, exactly as WE recommend. He would, on being appointed
to provide for the security of property in a town, study attentively
the state of the town. He would learn at what places, at what times, and
under what circumstances, theft and outrage were most frequent. Are
the streets, he would ask, most infested with thieves at sunset or at
midnight? Are there any public places of resort which give peculiar
facilities to pickpockets? Are there any districts completely inhabited
by a lawless population? Which are the flash houses, and which the shops
of receivers? Having made himself master of the facts, he would act
accordingly. A strong detachment of officers might be necessary for
Petticoat Lane; another for the pit entrance of Covent Garden Theatre.
Grosvenor Square and Hamilton Place would require little or no
protection. Exactly thus should we reason about government. Lombardy
is oppressed by tyrants; and constitutional checks, such as may produce
security to the people, are required. It is, so to speak, one of the
resorts of thieves; and there is great need of police-officers. Denmark
resembles one of those respectable streets in which it is scarcely
necessary to station a catchpoll, because the inhabitants would at once
join to seize a thief. Yet, even in such a street, we should wish to
see an officer appear now and then, as his occasional superintence would
render the security more complete. And even Denmark, we think, would be
better off under a constitutional form of government.

Mr Mill proceeds like a director of police, who, without asking a
single question about the state of his district, should give his orders
thus:--"My maxim is, that every man will take what he can. Every man in
London would be a thief, but for the thieftakers. This is an undeniable
principle of human nature. Some of my predecessors have wasted
their time in enquiring about particular pawnbrokers, and particular
alehouses. Experience is altogether divided. Of people placed in exactly
the same situation, I see that one steals, and that another would sooner
burn his hand off. THEREFORE I trust to the laws of human nature alone,
and pronounce all men thieves alike. Let everybody, high and low, be
watched. Let Townsend take particular care that the Duke of Wellington
does not steal the silk handkerchief of the lord in waiting at the
levee. A person has lost a watch. Go to Lord Fitzwilliam and search
him for it; he is as great a receiver of stolen goods as Ikey Solomons
himself. Don't tell me about his rank, and character, and fortune. He
is a man; and a man does not change his nature when he is called a lord.
("If Government is founded upon this, as a law of human nature, that
a man, if able, will take from others anything which they have and he
desires, it is sufficiently evident that when a man is called a king, he
does not change his nature, so that, when he has power to take what he
pleases, he will take what he pleases. To suppose that he will not,
is to affirm that government is unnecessary and that human beings
will abstain from injuring one another of their own accord."--"Mill on
Government".) Either men will steal or they will not steal. If they will
not, why do I sit here? If they will, his lordship must be a thief." The
Whiggery of Bow Street would perhaps rise up against this wisdom. Would
Mr Bentham think that the Whiggery of Bow Street was in the wrong?

We blamed Mr Mill for deducing his theory of government from the
principles of human nature. "In the name of Sir Richard Birnie and all
saints," cries Mr Bentham, "from what else should it be deduced?"
In spite of this solemn adjuration, with shall venture to answer Mr
Bentham's question by another. How does he arrive at those principles of
human nature from which he proposes to deduce the science of government?
We think that we may venture to put an answer into his mouth; for in
truth there is but one possible answer. He will say--By experience.
But what is the extent of this experience? Is it an experience which
includes experience of the conduct of men intrusted with the powers
of government; or is it exclusive of that experience? If it includes
experience of the manner in which men act when intrusted with the powers
of government, then those principles of human nature from which the
science of government is to be deduced can only be known after going
through that inductive process by which we propose to arrive at the
science of government. Our knowledge of human nature, instead of being
prior in order to our knowledge of the science of government, will be
posterior to it. And it would be correct to say, that by means of the
science of government, and of other kindred sciences--the science of
education, for example, which falls under exactly the same principle--we
arrive at the science of human nature.

If, on the other hand, we are to deduce the theory of government from
principles of human nature, in arriving at which principles we have not
taken into the account the manner in which men act when invested with
the powers of government, then those principles must be defective.
They have not been formed by a sufficiently copious induction. We are
reasoning, from what a man does in one situation, to what he will do in
another. Sometimes we may be quite justified in reasoning thus. When we
have no means of acquiring information about the particular case before
us, we are compelled to resort to cases which bear some resemblance to
it. But the more satisfactory course is to obtain information about
the particular case; and, whenever this can be obtained, it ought to be
obtained. When first the yellow fever broke out, a physician might
be justified in treating it as he had been accustomed to treat those
complaints which, on the whole, had the most symptoms in common with it.
But what should we think of a physician who should now tell us that
he deduced his treatment of yellow fever from the general theory of
pathology? Surely we should ask him, Whether, in constructing his theory
of pathology, he had or had not taken into the account the facts which
had been ascertained respecting the yellow fever? If he had, then it
would be more correct to say that he had arrived at the principles of
pathology partly by his experience of cases of yellow fever than that
he had deduced his treatment of yellow fever from the principles of
pathology. If he had not, he should not prescribe for us. If we had the
yellow fever, we should prefer a man who had never treated any cases but
cases of yellow fever to a man who had walked the hospitals of London
and Paris for years, but who knew nothing of our particular disease.

Let Lord Bacon speak for us: "Inductionem censemus eam esse demonstrandi
formam, quae sensum tuetur, et naturam premit, et operibus imminet, ac
fere immiscetur. Itaque ordo quoque demonstrandi plane invertitur. Adhuc
enim res ita geri consuevit, ut a sensu et particularibus primo loco
ad maxime generalia advoletur, tanquam ad polos fixos, circa quos
disputationes vertantur; ab illis caetera, per media, deriventur;
via certe compendiaria, sed praecipiti, et ad naturam impervia, ad
disputationes proclivi et accommodata. At, secundum nos, axiomata
continenter et gradatim excitantur, ut non, nisi postremo loco, ad
maxime generalia veniatur." Can any words more exactly describe the
political reasonings of Mr Mill than those in which Lord Bacon thus
describes the logomachies of the schoolmen? Mr Mill springs at once to a
general principle of the widest extent, and from that general principle
deduces syllogistically every thing which is included in it. We say with
Bacon--"non, nisi postremo loco, ad maxime generalia veniatur." In the
present inquiry, the science of human nature is the "maxime generale."
To this the Utilitarian rushes at once, and from this he deduces a
hundred sciences. But the true philosopher, the inductive reasoner,
travels up to it slowly, through those hundred sciences, of which the
science of government is one.

As we have lying before us that incomparable volume, the noblest and
most useful of all the works of the human reason, the Novum Organum,
we will transcribe a few lines, in which the Utilitarian philosophy is
portrayed to the life.

"Syllogismus ad 'Principia' scientiarum non adhibetur, ad media axiomata
frustra adhibetur, cum sit subtilitati naturae longe impar. Assensum
itaque constringit, non res. Syllogismus ex propositionibus constat,
propositiones ex verbis, verba notionum tesserae sunt. Itaque si
notiones ipsae, id quod basis rei est, confusae sint, et tenere a rebus
abstractae, nihil in iis quae superstruuntur est firmitudinis. Itaque
spes est una in Inductione vera. In notionibus nil sani est, nec in
Logicis nec in physicis. Non substantia, non qualitas, agere, pati,
ipsum esse, bonae notiones sunt; multo minus grave, leve, densum, tenue,
humidum, siccum, generatio, corruptio, attrahere, fugare, elementum,
materia, forma, et id genus, sed omnes phantasticae et male terminatae."

Substitute for the "substantia," the "generatio," the "corruptio,"
the "elementum," the "materia," of the old schoolmen, Mr Mill's pain,
pleasure, interest, power, objects of desire,--and the words of Bacon
will seem to suit the current year as well as the beginning of the
seventeenth century.

We have now gone through the objections that Mr Bentham makes to our
article: and we submit ourselves on all the charges to the judgment of
the public.

The rest of Mr Bentham's article consists of an exposition of the
Utilitarian principle, or, as he decrees that it shall be called, the
"greatest happiness principle." He seems to think that we have been
assailing it. We never said a syllable against it. We spoke slightingly
of the Utilitarian sect, as we thought of them, and think of them; but
it was not for holding this doctrine that we blamed them. In attacking
them we no more meant to attack the "greatest happiness principle" than
when we say that Mahometanism is a false religion we mean to deny the
unity of God, which is the first article of the Mahometan creed;--no
more than Mr Bentham, when he sneers at the Whigs means to blame them
for denying the divine right of kings. We reasoned throughout our
article on the supposition that the end of government was to produce the
greatest happiness to mankind.

Mr Bentham gives an account of the manner in which he arrived at the
discovery of the "greatest happiness principle." He then proceeds to
describe the effects which, as he conceives, that discovery is producing
in language so rhetorical and ardent that, if it had been written by any
other person, a genuine Utilitarian would certainly have thrown down the
book in disgust.

"The only rivals of any note to the new principle which were brought
forward, were those known by the names of the 'moral sense,' and the
'original contract.' The new principle superseded the first of these, by
presenting it with a guide for its decisions; and the other, by making
it unnecessary to resort to a remote and imaginary contract for what was
clearly the business of every man and every hour. Throughout the whole
horizon of morals and of politics, the consequences were glorious and
vast. It might be said without danger of exaggeration, that they who
sat in darkness had seen a great light. The mists in which mankind
had jousted against each other were swept away, as when the sun of
astronomical science arose in the full development of the principle of
gravitation. If the object of legislation was the greatest happiness,
MORALITY was the promotion of the same end by the conduct of the
individual; and by analogy, the happiness of the world was the morality
of nations.

"...All the sublime obscurities, which had haunted the mind of man from
the first formation of society,--the phantoms whose steps had been on
earth, and their heads among the clouds--marshalled themselves at the
sound of this new principle of connection and of union, and stood a
regulated band, where all was order, symmetry, and force. What men had
struggled for and bled, while they saw it but as through a glass darkly,
was made the object of substantial knowledge and lively apprehension.
The bones of sages and of patriots stirred within their tombs, that what
they dimly saw and followed had become the world's common heritage. And
the great result was wrought by no supernatural means, nor produced
by any unparallelable concatenation of events. It was foretold by no
oracles, and ushered by no portents; but was brought about by the quiet
and reiterated exercise of God's first gift of common sense."

Mr Bentham's discovery does not, as we think we shall be able to show,
approach in importance to that of gravitation, to which he compares it.
At all events, Mr Bentham seems to us to act much as Sir Isaac Newton
would have done if he had gone about boasting that he was the first
person who taught bricklayers not to jump off scaffolds and break their
legs.

Does Mr Bentham profess to hold out any new motive which may induce men
to promote the happiness of the species to which they belong? Not at
all. He distinctly admits that, if he is asked why government should
attempt to produce the greatest possible happiness, he can give no
answer.

"The real answer," says he, "appeared to be, that men at large OUGHT not
to allow a government to afflict them with more evil or less good
than they can help. What A GOVERNMENT ought to do is a mysterious and
searching question, which those may answer who know what it means; but
what other men ought to do is a question of no mystery at all. The
word OUGHT, if it means anything, must have reference to some kind of
interest or motives; and what interest a government has in doing right,
when it happens to be interested in doing wrong, is a question for
the schoolmen. The fact appears to be, that OUGHT is not predicable of
governments. The question is not why governments are bound not to do
this or that, but why OTHER MEN should let them if they can help it. The
point is not to determine why the lion should not eat sheep, but why men
should not eat their own mutton if they can."

The principle of Mr Bentham, if we understand it, is this, that mankind
ought to act so as to produce their greatest happiness. The word OUGHT,
he tells us, has no meaning, unless it be used with reference to some
interest. But the interest of a man is synonymous with his greatest
happiness:--and therefore to say that a man ought to do a thing, is
to say that it is for his greatest happiness to do it. And to say that
mankind OUGHT to act so as to produce their greatest happiness, is to
say that the greatest happiness is the greatest happiness--and this is
all!

Does Mr Bentham's principle tend to make any man wish for anything for
which he would not have wished, or do anything which he would not have
done, if the principle had never been heard of? If not, it is an
utterly useless principle. Now, every man pursues his own happiness or
interest--call it which you will. If his happiness coincides with the
happiness of the species, then, whether he ever heard of the "greatest
happiness principle" or not, he will, to the best of his knowledge and
ability, attempt to produce the greatest happiness of the species.
But, if what he thinks his happiness be inconsistent with the greatest
happiness of mankind, will this new principle convert him to another
frame of mind? Mr Bentham himself allows, as we have seen, that he can
give no reason why a man should promote the greatest happiness of others
if their greatest happiness be inconsistent with what he thinks his own.
We should very much like to know how the Utilitarian principle would
run when reduced to one plain imperative proposition? Will it run
thus--pursue your own happiness? This is superfluous. Every man pursues
it, according to his light, and always has pursued it, and always
must pursue it. To say that a man has done anything, is to say that
he thought it for his happiness to do it. Will the principle run
thus--pursue the greatest happiness of mankind, whether it be your own
greatest happiness or not? This is absurd and impossible; and Bentham
himself allows it to be so. But, if the principle be not stated in one
of these two ways, we cannot imagine how it is to be stated at all.
Stated in one of these ways, it is an identical proposition,--true,
but utterly barren of consequences. Stated in the other way, it is
a contradiction in terms. Mr Bentham has distinctly declined the
absurdity. Are we then to suppose that he adopts the truism?

There are thus, it seems, two great truths which the Utilitarian
philosophy is to communicate to mankind--two truths which are to produce
a revolution in morals, in laws, in governments, in literature, in the
whole system of life. The first of these is speculative; the second is
practical. The speculative truth is, that the greatest happiness is the
greatest happiness. The practical rule is very simple; for it imports
merely that men should never omit, when they wish for anything, to wish
for it, or when they do anything, to do it! It is a great comfort to us
to think that we readily assented to the former of these great doctrines
as soon as it was stated to us; and that we have long endeavoured,
as far as human frailty would permit, to conform to the latter in our
practice. We are, however, inclined to suspect that the calamities of
the human race have been owing, less to their not knowing that happiness
was happiness, than to their not knowing how to obtain it--less to their
neglecting to do what they did, than to their not being able to do what
they wished, or not wishing to do what they ought.

Thus frivolous, thus useless is this philosophy,--"controversiarum
ferax, operum effoeta, ad garriendum prompta, ad generandum invalida."
(Bacon, "Novum Organum".) The humble mechanic who discovers some slight
improvement in the construction of safety lamps or steam-vessels does
more for the happiness of mankind than the "magnificent principle," as
Mr Bentham calls it, will do in ten thousand years. The mechanic
teaches us how we may in a small degree be better off than we were. The
Utilitarian advises us with great pomp to be as well off as we can.

The doctrine of a moral sense may be very unphilosophical; but we do
not think that it can be proved to be pernicious. Men did not entertain
certain desires and aversions because they believed in a moral sense,
but they gave the name of moral sense to a feeling which they found in
their minds, however it came there. If they had given it no name at all
it would still have influenced their actions; and it will not be very
easy to demonstrate that it has influenced their actions the more
because they have called it the moral sense. The theory of the original
contract is a fiction, and a very absurd fiction; but in practice it
meant, what the "greatest happiness principle," if ever it becomes a
watchword of political warfare, will mean--that is to say, whatever
served the turn of those who used it. Both the one expression and the
other sound very well in debating clubs; but in the real conflicts of
life our passions and interests bid them stand aside and know their
place. The "greatest happiness principle" has always been latent under
the words, social contract, justice, benevolence, patriotism, liberty,
and so forth, just as far as it was for the happiness, real or imagined,
of those who used these words to promote the greatest happiness of
mankind. And of this we may be sure, that the words "greatest happiness"
will never, in any man's mouth, mean more than the greatest happiness of
others which is consistent with what he thinks his own. The project of
mending a bad world by teaching people to give new names to old things
reminds us of Walter Shandy's scheme for compensating the loss of his
son's nose by christening him Trismegistus. What society wants is a
new motive--not a new cant. If Mr Bentham can find out any argument yet
undiscovered which may induce men to pursue the general happiness,
he will indeed be a great benefactor to our species. But those whose
happiness is identical with the general happiness are even now promoting
the general happiness to the very best of their power and knowledge; and
Mr Bentham himself confesses that he has no means of persuading those
whose happiness is not identical with the general happiness to act upon
his principle. Is not this, then, darkening counsel by words without
knowledge? If the only fruit of the "magnificent principle" is to be,
that the oppressors and pilferers of the next generation are to talk of
seeking the greatest happiness of the greatest number, just as the same
class of men have talked in our time of seeking to uphold the Protestant
constitution--just as they talked under Anne of seeking the good of the
Church, and under Cromwell of seeking the Lord--where is the gain? Is
not every great question already enveloped in a sufficiently dark cloud
of unmeaning words? Is it so difficult for a man to cant some one or
more of the good old English cants which his father and grandfather
canted before him, that he must learn, in the schools of the
Utilitarians, a new sleight of tongue, to make fools clap and wise men
sneer? Let our countrymen keep their eyes on the neophytes of this sect,
and see whether we turn out to be mistaken in the prediction which we
now hazard. It will before long be found, we prophesy, that, as the
corruption of a dunce is the generation of an Utilitarian, so is the
corruption of an Utilitarian the generation of a jobber.

The most elevated station that the "greatest happiness principle" is
ever likely to attain is this, that it may be a fashionable phrase among
newspaper writers and members of parliament--that it may succeed to
the dignity which has been enjoyed by the "original contract," by the
"constitution of 1688," and other expressions of the same kind. We do
not apprehend that it is a less flexible cant than those which have
preceded it, or that it will less easily furnish a pretext for any
design for which a pretext may be required. The "original contract"
meant in the Convention Parliament the co-ordinate authority of the
Three Estates. If there were to be a radical insurrection tomorrow, the
"original contract" would stand just as well for annual parliaments
and universal suffrage. The "Glorious Constitution," again, has meant
everything in turn: the Habeas Corpus Act, the Suspension of the Habeas
Corpus Act, the Test Act, the Repeal of the Test Act. There has not
been for many years a single important measure which has not been
unconstitutional with its opponents, and which its supporters have not
maintained to be agreeable to the true spirit of the constitution. Is it
easier to ascertain what is for the greatest happiness of the human
race than what is the constitution of England? If not, the "greatest
happiness principle" will be what the "principles of the constitution"
are, a thing to be appealed to by everybody, and understood by everybody
in the sense which suits him best. It will mean cheap bread, dear
bread, free trade, protecting duties, annual parliaments, septennial
parliaments, universal suffrage, Old Sarum, trial by jury, martial
law--everything, in short, good, bad, or indifferent, of which any
person, from rapacity or from benevolence, chooses to undertake the
defence. It will mean six-and-eightpence with the attorney, tithes at
the rectory, and game-laws at the manor-house. The Statute of Uses, in
appearance the most sweeping legislative reform in our history, was said
to have produced no other effect than that of adding three words to
a conveyance. The universal admission of Mr Bentham's great principle
would, as far as we can see, produce no other effect than that those
orators who, while waiting for a meaning, gain time (like bankers paying
in sixpences during a run) by uttering words that mean nothing would
substitute "the greatest happiness," or rather, as the longer phrase,
"the greatest happiness of the greatest number," for "under existing
circumstances,"--"now that I am on my legs,"--and "Mr Speaker, I, for
one, am free to say." In fact, principles of this sort resemble those
forms which are sold by law-stationers, with blanks for the names of
parties, and for the special circumstances of every case--mere customary
headings and conclusions, which are equally at the command of the most
honest and of the most unrighteous claimant. It is on the filling up
that everything depends.

The "greatest happiness principle" of Mr Bentham is included in the
Christian morality; and, to our thinking, it is there exhibited in an
infinitely more sound and philosophical form than in the Utilitarian
speculations. For in the New Testament it is neither an identical
proposition, nor a contradiction in terms; and, as laid down by Mr
Bentham, it must be either the one or the other. "Do as you would be
done by: Love your neighbour as yourself:" these are the precepts of
Jesus Christ. Understood in an enlarged sense, these precepts are, in
fact, a direction to every man to promote the greatest happiness of the
greatest number. But this direction would be utterly unmeaning, as it
actually is in Mr Bentham's philosophy, unless it were accompanied by a
sanction. In the Christian scheme, accordingly, it is accompanied by
a sanction of immense force. To a man whose greatest happiness in this
world is inconsistent with the greatest happiness of the greatest number
is held out the prospect of an infinite happiness hereafter, from which
he excludes himself by wronging his fellow-creatures here.

This is practical philosophy, as practical as that on which penal
legislation is founded. A man is told to do something which otherwise
he would not do, and is furnished with a new motive for doing it. Mr
Bentham has no new motive to furnish his disciples with. He has talents
sufficient to effect anything that can be effected. But to induce men to
act without an inducement is too much, even for him. He should reflect
that the whole vast world of morals cannot be moved unless the mover can
obtain some stand for his engines beyond it. He acts as Archimedes would
have done, if he had attempted to move the earth by a lever fixed on
the earth. The action and reaction neutralise each other. The artist
labours, and the world remains at rest. Mr Bentham can only tell us
to do something which we have always been doing, and should still
have continued to do, if we had never heard of the "greatest happiness
principle"--or else to do something which we have no conceivable motive
for doing, and therefore shall not do. Mr Bentham's principle is at
best no more than the golden rule of the Gospel without its sanction.
Whatever evils, therefore, have existed in societies in which the
authority of the Gospel is recognised may, a fortiori, as it appears to
us, exist in societies in which the Utilitarian principle is recognised.
We do not apprehend that it is more difficult for a tyrant or a
persecutor to persuade himself and others that in putting to death those
who oppose his power or differ from his opinions he is pursuing "the
greatest happiness," than that he is doing as he would be done by. But
religion gives him a motive for doing as he would be done by: and Mr
Bentham furnishes him no motive to induce him to promote the general
happiness. If, on the other hand, Mr Bentham's principle mean only that
every man should pursue his own greatest happiness, he merely asserts
what everybody knows, and recommends what everybody does.

It is not upon this "greatest happiness principle" that the fame of
Mr Bentham will rest. He has not taught people to pursue their own
happiness; for that they always did. He has not taught them to promote
the happiness of others, at the expense of their own; for that they will
not and cannot do. But he has taught them HOW, in some most important
points, to promote their own happiness; and, if his school had emulated
him as successfully in this respect as in the trick of passing off
truisms for discoveries, the name of Benthamite would have been no word
for the scoffer. But few of those who consider themselves as in a more
especial manner his followers have anything in common with him but his
faults. The whole science of Jurisprudence is his. He has done much for
political economy; but we are not aware that in either department any
improvement has been made by members of his sect. He discovered truths;
all that THEY have done has been to make those truths unpopular. He
investigated the philosophy of law; he could teach them only to snarl at
lawyers.

We entertain no apprehensions of danger to the institutions of this
country from the Utilitarians. Our fears are of a different kind. We
dread the odium and discredit of their alliance. We wish to see a broad
and clear line drawn between the judicious friends of practical reform
and a sect which, having derived all its influence from the countenance
which they have imprudently bestowed upon it, hates them with the deadly
hatred of ingratitude. There is not, and we firmly believe that there
never was, in this country a party so unpopular. They have already made
the science of political economy--a science of vast importance to
the welfare of nations--an object of disgust to the majority of the
community. The question of parliamentary reform will share the same fate
if once an association be formed in the public mind between Reform and
Utilitarianism.

We bear no enmity to any member of the sect; and for Mr Bentham we
entertain very high admiration. We know that among his followers there
are some well-intentioned men, and some men of talents; but we cannot
say that we think the logic on which they pride themselves likely to
improve their heads, or the scheme of morality which they have adopted
likely to improve their hearts. Their theory of morals, however, well
deserves an article to itself; and perhaps, on some future occasion, we
may discuss it more fully than time and space at present allow.

The preceding article was written, and was actually in types, when
a letter from Mr Bentham appeared in the newspapers, importing that,
"though he had furnished the Westminster Review with some memoranda
respecting 'the greatest happiness principle,' he had nothing to do with
the remarks on our former article." We are truly happy to find that this
illustrious man had so small a share in a performance which, for his
sake, we have treated with far greater lenity than it deserved.
The mistake, however, does not in the least affect any part of our
arguments; and we have therefore thought it unnecessary to cancel or
cast anew any of the foregoing pages. Indeed, we are not sorry that the
world should see how respectfully we were disposed to treat a great man,
even when we considered him as the author of a very weak and very unfair
attack on ourselves. We wish, however, to intimate to the actual writer
of that attack that our civilities were intended for the author of the
"Preuves Judiciaires," and the "Defence of Usury"--and not for him. We
cannot conclude, indeed, without expressing a wish--though we fear it
has but little chance of reaching Mr Bentham--that he would endeavour
to find better editors for his compositions. If M. Dumont had not been
a redacteur of a different description from some of his successors, Mr
Bentham would never have attained the distinction of even giving his
name to a sect.

*****



UTILITARIAN THEORY OF GOVERNMENT. (October 1829.)

     Westminster Review (XXII., Article 16), on the Strictures
     of the Edinburgh Review (XCVIII., Article 1), on the
     Utilitarian Theory of Government, and the "Greatest
     Happiness Principle."

We have long been of opinion that the Utilitarians have owed all their
influence to a mere delusion--that, while professing to have submitted
their minds to an intellectual discipline of peculiar severity, to have
discarded all sentimentality, and to have acquired consummate skill
in the art of reasoning, they are decidedly inferior to the mass of
educated men in the very qualities in which they conceive themselves to
excel. They have undoubtedly freed themselves from the dominion of some
absurd notions. But their struggle for intellectual emancipation has
ended, as injudicious and violent struggles for political emancipation
too often end, in a mere change of tyrants. Indeed, we are not sure that
we do not prefer the venerable nonsense which holds prescriptive sway
over the ultra-Tory to the upstart dynasty of prejudices and sophisms by
which the revolutionists of the moral world have suffered themselves to
be enslaved.

The Utilitarians have sometimes been abused as intolerant, arrogant,
irreligious,--as enemies of literature, of the fine arts, and of the
domestic charities. They have been reviled for some things of which
they were guilty, and for some of which they were innocent. But scarcely
anybody seems to have perceived that almost all their peculiar faults
arise from the utter want both of comprehensiveness and of precision
in their mode of reasoning. We have, for some time past, been convinced
that this was really the case; and that, whenever their philosophy
should be boldly and unsparingly scrutinised, the world would see that
it had been under a mistake respecting them.

We have made the experiment; and it has succeeded far beyond our most
sanguine expectations. A chosen champion of the School has come forth
against us. A specimen of his logical abilities now lies before us;
and we pledge ourselves to show that no prebendary at an anti-Catholic
meeting, no true-blue baronet after the third bottle at a Pitt Club,
ever displayed such utter incapacity of comprehending or answering an
argument as appears in the speculations of this Utilitarian apostle;
that he does not understand our meaning, or Mr Mill's meaning, or Mr
Bentham's meaning, or his own meaning; and that the various parts of his
system--if the name of system can be so misapplied--directly contradict
each other.

Having shown this, we intend to leave him in undisputed possession of
whatever advantage he may derive from the last word. We propose only to
convince the public that there is nothing in the far-framed logic of the
Utilitarians of which any plain man has reason to be afraid; that this
logic will impose on no man who dares to look it in the face.

The Westminster Reviewer begins by charging us with having
misrepresented an important part of Mr Mill's argument.

"The first extract given by the Edinburgh Reviewers from the Essay was
an insulated passage, purposely despoiled of what had preceded and
what followed. The author had been observing, that 'some profound and
benevolent investigators of human affairs had adopted the conclusion
that, of all the possible forms of government, absolute monarchy is the
best.' This is what the reviewers have omitted at the beginning. He
then adds, as in the extract, that 'Experience, IF WE LOOK ONLY AT THE
OUTSIDE OF THE FACTS, appears to be divided on this subject;' there are
Caligulas in one place, and kings of Denmark in another. 'As the surface
of history affords, therefore, no certain principle of decision, WE MUST
GO BEYOND THE SURFACE, and penetrate to the springs within.' This is
what the reviewers have omitted at the end."

It is perfectly true that our quotation from Mr Mill's essay was, like
most other quotations, preceded and followed by something which we did
not quote. But, if the Westminster Reviewer means to say that either
what preceded or what followed would, if quoted, have shown that we put
a wrong interpretation on the passage which was extracted, he does not
understand Mr Mill rightly.

Mr Mill undoubtedly says that, "as the surface of history affords
no certain principle of decision, we must go beyond the surface, and
penetrate to the springs within." But these expressions will admit of
several interpretations. In what sense, then, does Mr Mill use them?
If he means that we ought to inspect the facts with close attention,
he means what is rational. But, if he means that we ought to leave the
facts, with all their apparent inconsistencies, unexplained--to lay down
a general principle of the widest extent, and to deduce doctrines from
that principle by syllogistic argument, without pausing to consider
whether those doctrines be or be not consistent with the facts,--then he
means what is irrational; and this is clearly what he does mean: for
he immediately begins, without offering the least explanation of the
contradictory appearances which he has himself described, to go beyond
the surface in the following manner:--"That one human being will
desire to render the person and property of another subservient to his
pleasures, notwithstanding the pain or loss of pleasure which it may
occasion to that other individual, is the foundation of government.
The desire of the object implies the desire of the power necessary to
accomplish the object." And thus he proceeds to deduce consequences
directly inconsistent with what he has himself stated respecting the
situation of the Danish people.

If we assume that the object of government is the preservation of the
persons and property of men, then we must hold that, wherever that
object is attained, there the principle of good government exists. If
that object be attained both in Denmark and in the United States
of America, then that which makes government good must exist, under
whatever disguise of title or name, both in Denmark and in the United
States. If men lived in fear for their lives and their possessions under
Nero and under the National Convention, it follows that the causes from
which misgovernment proceeds existed both in the despotism of Rome and
in the democracy of France. What, then, is that which, being found
in Denmark and in the United States, and not being found in the Roman
Empire or under the administration of Robespierre, renders governments,
widely differing in their external form, practically good? Be it what it
may, it certainly is not that which Mr Mill proves a priori that it must
be,--a democratic representative assembly. For the Danes have no such
assembly.

The latent principle of good government ought to be tracked, as it
appears to us, in the same manner in which Lord Bacon proposed to track
the principle of Heat. Make as large a list as possible, said that great
man, of those bodies in which, however widely they differ from each
other in appearance, we perceive heat; and as large a list as possible
of those which, while they bear a general resemblance to hot bodies, are
nevertheless not hot. Observe the different degrees of heat in different
hot bodies; and then, if there be something which is found in all hot
bodies, and of which the increase or diminution is always accompanied
by an increase or diminution of heat, we may hope that we have really
discovered the object of our search. In the same manner we ought to
examine the constitution of all those communities in which, under
whatever form, the blessings of good government are enjoyed; and to
discover, if possible, in what they resemble each other, and in what
they all differ from those societies in which the object of government
is not attained. By proceeding thus we shall arrive, not indeed at a
perfect theory of government, but at a theory which will be of great
practical use, and which the experience of every successive generation
will probably bring nearer and nearer to perfection.

The inconsistencies into which Mr Mill has been betrayed by taking a
different course ought to serve as a warning to all speculators. Because
Denmark is well governed by a monarch who, in appearance at least, is
absolute, Mr Mill thinks that the only mode of arriving at the true
principles of government is to deduce them a priori from the laws of
human nature. And what conclusion does he bring out by this deduction?
We will give it in his own words:--"In the grand discovery of
modern times, the system of representation, the solution of all the
difficulties, both speculative and practical, will perhaps be found. If
it cannot, we seem to be forced upon the extraordinary conclusion that
good government is impossible." That the Danes are well governed without
a representation is a reason for deducing the theory of government
from a general principle from which it necessarily follows that good
government is impossible without a representation! We have done our
best to put this question plainly; and we think that, if the Westminster
Reviewer will read over what we have written twice or thrice with
patience and attention, some glimpse of our meaning will break in even
on his mind.

Some objections follow, so frivolous and unfair, that we are almost
ashamed to notice them.

"When it was said that there was in Denmark a balanced contest between
the king and the nobility, what was said was, that there was a balanced
contest, but it did not last. It was balanced till something put an end
to the balance; and so is everything else. That such a balance will not
last, is precisely what Mr Mill had demonstrated."

Mr Mill, we positively affirm, pretends to demonstrate, not merely that
a balanced contest between the king and the aristocracy will not last,
but that the chances are as infinity to one against the existence of
such a balanced contest. This is a mere question of fact. We quote the
words of the essay, and defy the Westminster Reviewer to impeach our
accuracy:--

"It seems impossible that such equality should ever exist. How is it to
be established? Or by what criterion is it to be ascertained? If there
is no such criterion, it must, in all cases, be the result of chance. If
so, the chances against it are as infinity to one."

The Reviewer has confounded the division of power with the balance or
equal division of power. Mr Mill says that the division of power can
never exist long, because it is next to impossible that the equal
division of power should ever exist at all.

"When Mr Mill asserted that it cannot be for the interest of either the
monarchy or the aristocracy to combine with the democracy, it is plain
he did not assert that if the monarchy and aristocracy were in doubtful
contest with each other, they would not, either of them, accept of the
assistance of the democracy. He spoke of their taking the side of
the democracy; not of their allowing the democracy to take side with
themselves."

If Mr Mill meant anything, he must have meant this--that the monarchy
and the aristocracy will never forget their enmity to the democracy in
their enmity to each other.

"The monarchy and aristocracy," says he, "have all possible motives for
endeavouring to obtain unlimited power over the persons and property
of the community. The consequence is inevitable. They have all possible
motives for combining to obtain that power, and unless the people
have power enough to be a match for both they have no protection. The
balance, therefore, is a thing the existence of which upon the best
possible evidence is to be regarded as impossible."

If Mr Mill meant only what the Westminster Reviewer conceives him to
have meant, his argument would leave the popular theory of the balance
quite untouched. For it is the very theory of the balance that the help
of the people will be solicited by the nobles when hard pressed by the
king, and by the king when hard pressed by the nobles; and that, as the
price of giving alternate support to the crown and the aristocracy, they
will obtain something for themselves, as the Reviewer admits that they
have done in Denmark. If Mr Mill admits this, he admits the only theory
of the balance of which we ever heard--that very theory which he has
declared to be wild and chimerical. If he denies it, he is at issue with
the Westminster Reviewer as to the phenomena of the Danish government.

We now come to a more important passage. Our opponent has discovered, as
he conceives, a radical error which runs through our whole argument, and
vitiates every part of it. We suspect that we shall spoil his triumph.

"Mr Mill never asserted 'THAT UNDER NO DESPOTIC GOVERNMENT DOES ANY
HUMAN BEING, EXCEPT THE TOOLS OF THE SOVEREIGN, POSSESS MORE THAN THE
NECESSARIES OF LIFE, AND THAT THE MOST INTENSE DEGREE OF TERROR IS
KEPT UP BY CONSTANT CRUELTY.' He said that absolute power leads to
such results 'by infallible sequence, where power over a community is
attained, AND NOTHING CHECKS.' The critic on the Mount never made a more
palpable misquotation.

"The spirit of this misquotation runs through every part of the reply
of the Edinburgh Review that relates to the Essay on Government; and is
repeated in as many shapes as the Roman pork. The whole description of
'Mr Mill's argument against despotism,'--including the illustration from
right-angled triangles and the square of the hypothenuse,--is founded on
this invention of saying what an author has not said, and leaving unsaid
what he has."

We thought, and still think, for reasons which our readers will soon
understand, that we represented Mr Mill's principle quite fairly, and
according to the rule of law and common sense, ut res magis valeat quam
pereat. Let us, however, give him all the advantage of the explanation
tendered by his advocate, and see what he will gain by it.

The Utilitarian doctrine then is, not that despots and aristocracies
will always plunder and oppress the people to the last point, but that
they will do so if nothing checks them.

In the first place, it is quite clear that the doctrine thus stated is
of no use at all, unless the force of the checks be estimated. The first
law of motion is, that a ball once projected will fly on to all eternity
with undiminished velocity, unless something checks. The fact is, that
a ball stops in a few seconds after proceeding a few yards with very
variable motion. Every man would wring his child's neck and pick his
friend's pocket if nothing checked him. In fact, the principle thus
stated means only that governments will oppress unless they abstain
from oppressing. This is quite true, we own. But we might with equal
propriety turn the maxim round, and lay it down, as the fundamental
principle of government, that all rulers will govern well, unless some
motive interferes to keep them from doing so.

If there be, as the Westminster Reviewer acknowledges, certain checks
which, under political institutions the most arbitrary in seeming,
sometimes produce good government, and almost always place some
restraint on the rapacity and cruelty of the powerful, surely the
knowledge of those checks, of their nature, and of their effect, must
be a most important part of the science of government. Does Mr Mill say
anything upon this part of the subject? Not one word.

The line of defence now taken by the Utilitarians evidently degrades Mr
Mill's theory of government from the rank which, till within the last
few months, was claimed for it by the whole sect. It is no longer a
practical system, fit to guide statesmen, but merely a barren exercise
of the intellect, like those propositions in mechanics in which the
effect of friction and of the resistance of the air is left out of
the question; and which, therefore, though correctly deduced from the
premises, are in practice utterly false. For, if Mr Mill professes to
prove only that absolute monarchy and aristocracy are pernicious
without checks,--if he allows that there are checks which produce good
government even under absolute monarchs and aristocracies,--and if he
omits to tell us what those checks are, and what effects they produce
under different circumstances,--he surely gives us no information which
can be of real utility.

But the fact is,--and it is most extraordinary that the Westminster
Reviewer should not have perceived it--that if once the existence
of checks on the abuse of power in monarchies and aristocracies be
admitted, the whole of Mr Mill's theory falls to the ground at once.
This is so palpable, that in spite of the opinion of the Westminster
Reviewer, we must acquit Mr Mill of having intended to make such an
admission. We still think that the words, "where power over a community
is attained, and nothing checks," must not be understood to mean that
under a monarchical or aristocratical form of government there can
really be any check which can in any degree mitigate the wretchedness of
the people.

For all possible checks may be classed under two general heads,--want
of will, and want of power. Now, if a king or an aristocracy, having
the power to plunder and oppress the people, can want the will, all Mr
Mill's principles of human nature must be pronounced unsound. He tells
us, "that the desire to possess unlimited power of inflicting pain upon
others, is an inseparable part of human nature;" and that "a chain of
inference, close and strong to a most unusual degree," leads to the
conclusion that those who possess this power will always desire to use
it. It is plain, therefore, that, if Mr Mill's principles be sound, the
check on a monarchical or an aristocratical government will not be the
want of will to oppress.

If a king or an aristocracy, having, as Mr Mill tells us that they
always must have, the will to oppress the people with the utmost
severity, want the power, then the government, by whatever name it may
be called, must be virtually a mixed government or a pure democracy: for
it is quite clear that the people possess some power in the state--some
means of influencing the nominal rulers. But Mr Mill has demonstrated
that no mixed government can possibly exist, or at least that such a
government must come to a very speedy end: therefore, every country in
which people not in the service of the government have, for any length
of time, been permitted to accumulate more than the bare means of
subsistence must be a pure democracy. That is to say, France before the
revolution, and Ireland during the last century, were pure democracies.
Prussia, Austria, Russia, all the governments of the civilised world,
are pure democracies. If this be not a reductio ad absurdum, we do not
know what is.

The errors of Mr Mill proceed principally from that radical vice in his
reasoning which, in our last number we described in the words of Lord
Bacon. The Westminster Reviewer is unable to discover the meaning of our
extracts from the "Novum Organum", and expresses himself as follows:

"The quotations from Lord Bacon are misapplications, such as anybody may
make to anything he dislikes. There is no more resemblance between
pain, pleasure, motives, etc., and substantia, generatio, corruptio,
elementum, materia,--than between lines angles, magnitudes, etc., and
the same."

It would perhaps be unreasonable to expect that a writer who cannot
understand his own English should understand Lord Bacon's Latin. We will
therefore attempt to make our meaning clearer.

What Lord Bacon blames in the schoolmen of his time is this,--that
they reasoned syllogistically on words which had not been defined with
precision; such as moist, dry, generation, corruption, and so forth.
Mr Mill's error is exactly of the same kind. He reasons syllogistically
about power, pleasure, and pain, without attaching any definite notion
to any one of those words. There is no more resemblance, says the
Westminster Reviewer, between pain and substantia than between pain and
a line or an angle. By his permission, in the very point to which
Lord Bacon's observation applies, Mr Mill's subjects do resemble the
substantia and elementum of the schoolmen and differ from the lines and
magnitudes of Euclid. We can reason a priori on mathematics, because
we can define with an exactitude which precludes all possibility of
confusion. If a mathematician were to admit the least laxity into his
notions, if he were to allow himself to be deluded by the vague sense
which words bear in popular use, or by the aspect of an ill-drawn
diagram, if he were to forget in his reasonings that a point was
indivisible, or that the definition of a line excluded breadth,
there would be no end to his blunders. The schoolmen tried to reason
mathematically about things which had not been, and perhaps could not
be, defined with mathematical accuracy. We know the result. Mr Mill has
in our time attempted to do the same. He talks of power, for example, as
if the meaning of the word power were as determinate as the meaning of
the word circle. But, when we analyse his speculations, we find that
his notion of power is, in the words of Bacon, "phantiastica et male
terminata."

There are two senses in which we may use the word "power," and those
words which denote the various distributions of power, as, for example,
"monarchy":--the one sense popular and superficial, the other more
scientific and accurate. Mr Mill, since he chose to reason a priori,
ought to have clearly pointed out in which sense he intended to use
words of this kind, and to have adhered inflexibly to the sense on which
he fixed. Instead of doing this, he flies backwards and forwards from
the one sense to the other, and brings out conclusions at last which
suit neither.

The state of those two communities to which he has himself referred--the
kingdom of Denmark and the empire of Rome--may serve to illustrate our
meaning. Looking merely at the surface of things, we should call Denmark
a despotic monarchy, and the Roman world, in the first century after
Christ, an aristocratical republic. Caligula was, in theory, nothing
more than a magistrate elected by the senate, and subject to the senate.
That irresponsible dignity which, in the most limited monarchies of our
time, is ascribed to the person of the sovereign never belonged to the
earlier Caesars. The sentence of death which the great council of the
commonwealth passed on Nero was strictly according to the theory of the
constitution. Yet, in fact, the power of the Roman emperors approached
nearer to absolute dominion than that of any prince in modern Europe.
On the other hand, the King of Denmark, in theory the most despotic of
princes, would in practice find it most perilous to indulge in cruelty
and licentiousness. Nor is there, we believe, at the present moment a
single sovereign in our part of the world who has so much real power
over the lives of his subjects as Robespierre, while he lodged at a
chandler's and dined at a restaurateur's, exercised over the lives of
those whom he called his fellow citizens.

Mr Mill and the Westminster Reviewer seem to agree that there cannot
long exist in any society a division of power between a monarch, an
aristocracy, and the people, or between any two of them. However the
power be distributed, one of the three parties will, according to them,
inevitably monopolise the whole. Now, what is here meant by power? If Mr
Mill speaks of the external semblance of power,--of power recognised by
the theory of the constitution,--he is palpably wrong. In England, for
example, we have had for ages the name and form of a mixed government,
if nothing more. Indeed, Mr Mill himself owns that there are appearances
which have given colour to the theory of the balance, though he
maintains that these appearances are delusive. But, if he uses the word
power in a deeper and philosophical sense, he is, if possible, still
more in the wrong than on the former supposition. For, if he had
considered in what the power of one human being over other human beings
must ultimately consist, he would have perceived, not only that there
are mixed governments in the world, but that all the governments in the
world, and all the governments which can even be conceived as existing
in the world, are virtually mixed.

If a king possessed the lamp of Aladdin,--if he governed by the help
of a genius who carried away the daughters and wives of his subjects
through the air to the royal Parc-aux-cerfs, and turned into stone every
man who wagged a finger against his majesty's government, there would
indeed be an unmixed despotism. But, fortunately, a ruler can be
gratified only by means of his subjects. His power depends on their
obedience; and, as any three or four of them are more than a match for
him by himself, he can only enforce the unwilling obedience of some by
means of the willing obedience of others.

Take any of those who are popularly called absolute princes--Napoleon
for example. Could Napoleon have walked through Paris, cutting off the
head of one person in every house which he passed? Certainly not without
the assistance of an army. If not, why not? Because the people had
sufficient physical power to resist him, and would have put forth that
power in defence of their lives and of the lives of their children.
In other words, there was a portion of power in the democracy under
Napoleon. Napoleon might probably have indulged himself in such an
atrocious freak of power if his army would have seconded him. But, if
his army had taken part with the people, he would have found himself
utterly helpless; and, even if they had obeyed his orders against the
people, they would not have suffered him to decimate their own body. In
other words, there was a portion of power in the hands of a minority of
the people, that is to say, in the hands of an aristocracy, under the
reign of Napoleon.

To come nearer home,--Mr Mill tells us that it is a mistake to imagine
that the English government is mixed. He holds, we suppose, with all the
politicians of the Utilitarian school, that it is purely aristocratical.
There certainly is an aristocracy in England; and we are afraid that
their power is greater than it ought to be. They have power enough to
keep up the game-laws and corn-laws; but they have not power enough to
subject the bodies of men of the lowest class to wanton outrage at their
pleasure. Suppose that they were to make a law that any gentleman of
two thousand a-year might have a day-labourer or a pauper flogged with
a cat-of-nine-tails whenever the whim might take him. It is quite clear
that the first day on which such flagellation should be administered
would be the last day of the English aristocracy. In this point, and
in many other points which might be named, the commonalty in our island
enjoy a security quite as complete as if they exercised the right of
universal suffrage. We say, therefore, that the English people have
in their own hands a sufficient guarantee that in some points the
aristocracy will conform to their wishes;--in other words, they have
a certain portion of power over the aristocracy. Therefore the English
government is mixed.

Wherever a king or an oligarchy refrains from the last extremity of
rapacity and tyranny through fear of the resistance of the people,
there the constitution, whatever it may be called, is in some measure
democratical. The admixture of democratic power may be slight. It may be
much slighter than it ought to be; but some admixture there is. Wherever
a numerical minority, by means of superior wealth or intelligence,
of political concert, or of military discipline, exercises a greater
influence on the society than any other equal number of persons,--there,
whatever the form of government may be called, a mixture of aristocracy
does in fact exist. And, wherever a single man, from whatever cause,
is so necessary to the community, or to any portion of it, that he
possesses more power than any other man, there is a mixture of monarchy.
This is the philosophical classification of governments: and if we
use this classification we shall find, not only that there are mixed
governments, but that all governments are, and must always be, mixed.
But we may safely challenge Mr Mill to give any definition of power, or
to make any classification of governments, which shall bear him out in
his assertion that a lasting division of authority is impracticable.

It is evidently on the real distribution of power, and not on names and
badges, that the happiness of nations must depend. The representative
system, though doubtless a great and precious discovery in politics, is
only one of the many modes in which the democratic part of the community
can efficiently check the governing few. That certain men have been
chosen as deputies of the people,--that there is a piece of paper
stating such deputies to possess certain powers,--these circumstances
in themselves constitute no security for good government. Such a
constitution nominally existed in France; while, in fact, an oligarchy
of committees and clubs trampled at once on the electors and the
elected. Representation is a very happy contrivance for enabling large
bodies of men to exert their power with less risk of disorder than there
would otherwise be. But, assuredly, it does not of itself give power.
Unless a representative assembly is sure of being supported in the
last resort by the physical strength of large masses who have spirit to
defend the constitution and sense to defend it in concert, the mob of
the town in which it meets may overawe it;--the howls of the listeners
in its glory may silence its deliberations;--an able and daring
individual may dissolve it. And, if that sense and that spirit of
which we speak be diffused through a society, then, even without a
representative assembly, that society will enjoy many of the blessings
of good government.

Which is the better able to defend himself;--a strong man with nothing
but his fists, or a paralytic cripple encumbered with a sword which he
cannot lift? Such, we believe, is the difference between Denmark and
some new republics in which the constitutional forms of the United
States have been most sedulously imitated.

Look at the Long Parliament on the day on which Charles came to seize
the five members: and look at it again on the day when Cromwell stamped
with his foot on its floor. On which day was its apparent power the
greater? On which day was its real power the less? Nominally subject, it
was able to defy the sovereign. Nominally sovereign, it was turned out
of doors by its servant.

Constitutions are in politics what paper money is in commerce. They
afford great facilities and conveniences. But we must not attribute to
them that value which really belongs to what they represent. They
are not power, but symbols of power, and will, in an emergency, prove
altogether useless unless the power for which they stand be forthcoming.
The real power by which the community is governed is made up of all the
means which all its members possess of giving pleasure or pain to each
other.

Great light may be thrown on the nature of a circulating medium by the
phenomena of a state of barter. And in the same manner it may be useful
to those who wish to comprehend the nature and operation of the outward
signs of power to look at communities in which no such signs exist;
for example, at the great community of nations. There we find nothing
analogous to a constitution; but do we not find a government? We do in
fact find government in its purest, and simplest, and most intelligible
form. We see one portion of power acting directly on another portion
of power. We see a certain police kept up; the weak to a certain
degree protected; the strong to a certain degree restrained. We see the
principle of the balance in constant operation. We see the whole system
sometimes undisturbed by any attempt at encroachment for twenty or
thirty years at a time; and all this is produced without a legislative
assembly, or an executive magistracy--without tribunals--without any
code which deserves the name; solely by the mutual hopes and fears of
the various members of the federation. In the community of nations,
the first appeal is to physical force. In communities of men, forms
of government serve to put off that appeal, and often render it
unnecessary. But it is still open to the oppressed or the ambitious.

Of course, we do not mean to deny that a form of government will, after
it has existed for a long time, materially affect the real distribution
of power throughout the community. This is because those who administer
a government, with their dependants, form a compact and disciplined
body, which, acting methodically and in concert, is more powerful than
any other equally numerous body which is inferior in organisation.
The power of rulers is not, as superficial observers sometimes seem
to think, a thing sui generis. It is exactly similar in kind, though
generally superior in amount, to that of any set of conspirators who
plot to overthrow it. We have seen in our time the most extensive and
the best organised conspiracy that ever existed--a conspiracy which
possessed all the elements of real power in so great a degree that it
was able to cope with a strong government, and to triumph over it--the
Catholic Association. An Utilitarian would tell us, we suppose, that the
Irish Catholics had no portion of political power whatever on the first
day of the late Session of Parliament.

Let us really go beyond the surface of facts: let us, in the sound sense
of the words, penetrate to the springs within; and the deeper we go the
more reason shall we find to smile at those theorists who hold that the
sole hope of the human race is in a rule-of-three sum and a ballot-box.

We must now return to the Westminster Reviewer. The following paragraph
is an excellent specimen of his peculiar mode of understanding and
answering arguments.

"The reply to the argument against 'saturation,' supplies its own
answer. The reason why it is of no use to try to 'saturate' is precisely
what the Edinburgh Reviewers have suggested,--'THAT THERE IS NO LIMIT
TO THE NUMBER OF THIEVES.' There are the thieves, and the thieves'
cousins,--with their men-servants, their maid-servants, and their little
ones, to the fortieth generation. It is true, that 'a man cannot become
a king or a member of the aristocracy whenever he chooses;' but if there
is to be no limit to the depredators except their own inclination to
increase and multiply, the situation of those who are to suffer is as
wretched as it needs be. It is impossible to define what ARE 'corporal
pleasures.' A Duchess of Cleveland was 'a corporal pleasure.' The
most disgraceful period in the history of any nation--that of the
Restoration--presents an instance of the length to which it is possible
to go in an attempt to 'saturate' with pleasures of this kind."

To reason with such a writer is like talking to a deaf man who catches
at a stray word, makes answer beside the mark, and is led further and
further into error by every attempt to explain. Yet, that our readers
may fully appreciate the abilities of the new philosophers, we shall
take the trouble to go over some of our ground again.

Mr Mill attempts to prove that there is no point of saturation with the
objects of human desire. He then takes it for granted that men have no
objects of desire but those which can be obtained only at the expense
of the happiness of others. Hence he infers that absolute monarchs
and aristocracies will necessarily oppress and pillage the people to a
frightful extent.

We answered in substance thus. There are two kinds of objects of desire;
those which give mere bodily pleasure, and those which please through
the medium of associations. Objects of the former class, it is true, a
man cannot obtain without depriving somebody else of a share. But then
with these every man is soon satisfied. A king or an aristocracy
cannot spend any very large portion of the national wealth on the mere
pleasures of sense. With the pleasures which belong to us as reasoning
and imaginative beings we are never satiated, it is true; but then, on
the other hand, many of those pleasures can be obtained without injury
to any person, and some of them can be obtained only by doing good to
others.

The Westminster Reviewer, in his former attack on us, laughed at us for
saying that a king or an aristocracy could not be easily satiated with
the pleasures of sense, and asked why the same course was not tried with
thieves. We were not a little surprised at so silly an objection from
the pen, as we imagined, of Mr Bentham. We returned, however, a very
simple answer. There is no limit to the number of thieves. Any man who
chooses can steal: but a man cannot become a member of the aristocracy
or a king whenever he chooses. To satiate one thief, is to tempt twenty
other people to steal. But by satiating one king or five hundred nobles
with bodily pleasures we do not produce more kings or more nobles. The
answer of the Westminster Reviewer we have quoted above; and it will
amply repay our readers for the trouble of examining it. We never read
any passage which indicated notions so vague and confused. The number
of the thieves, says our Utilitarian, is not limited. For there are the
dependants and friends of the king and of the nobles. Is it possible
that he should not perceive that this comes under a different head? The
bodily pleasures which a man in power dispenses among his creatures are
bodily pleasures as respects his creatures, no doubt. But the pleasure
which he derives from bestowing them is not a bodily pleasure. It is one
of those pleasures which belong to him as a reasoning and imaginative
being. No man of common understanding can have failed to perceive that,
when we said that a king or an aristocracy might easily be supplied to
satiety with sensual pleasures, we were speaking of sensual pleasures
directly enjoyed by themselves. But "it is impossible," says the
Reviewer, "to define what are corporal pleasures." Our brother would
indeed, we suspect, find it a difficult task; nor, if we are to judge
of his genius for classification from the specimen which immediately
follows, would we advise him to make the attempt. "A Duchess of
Cleveland was a corporal pleasure." And to this wise remark is appended
a note, setting forth that Charles the Second gave to the Duchess
of Cleveland the money which he ought to have spent on the war with
Holland. We scarcely know how to answer a man who unites so much
pretension to so much ignorance. There are, among the many Utilitarians
who talk about Hume, Condillac, and Hartley, a few who have read
those writers. Let the Reviewer ask one of these what he thinks on the
subject. We shall not undertake to whip a pupil of so little promise
through his first course of metaphysics. We shall, therefore, only
say--leaving him to guess and wonder what we can mean--that, in
our opinion, the Duchess of Cleveland was not a merely corporal
pleasure,--that the feeling which leads a prince to prefer one woman to
all others, and to lavish the wealth of kingdoms on her, is a feeling
which can only be explained by the law of association.

But we are tired, and even more ashamed than tired, of exposing these
blunders. The whole article is of a piece. One passage, however, we must
select, because it contains a very gross misrepresentation.

"'THEY NEVER ALLUDED TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVING
THAT THE POOR WERE INCLINED TO ROB THE RICH.' They only said, 'as soon
as the poor AGAIN began to compare their cottages and salads with the
hotels and banquets of the rich, there would have been another scramble
for property, another general confiscation,' etc."

We said that, IF MR MILL'S PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN NATURE WERE CORRECT,
there would have been another scramble for property, and another
confiscation. We particularly pointed this out in our last article. We
showed the Westminster Reviewer that he had misunderstood us. We dwelt
particularly on the condition which was introduced into our statement.
We said that we had not given, and did not mean to give, any opinion
of our own. And, after this, the Westminster Reviewer thinks proper to
repeat his former misrepresentation, without taking the least notice of
that qualification to which we, in the most marked manner, called his
attention.

We hasten on to the most curious part of the article under our
consideration--the defence of the "greatest happiness principle." The
Reviewer charges us with having quite mistaken its nature.

"All that they have established is, that they do not understand it.
Instead of the truism of the Whigs, 'that the greatest happiness is the
greatest happiness,' what Mr Bentham had demonstrated, or at all events
had laid such foundations that there was no trouble in demonstrating,
was, that the greatest happiness of the individual was in the long run
to be obtained by pursuing the greatest happiness of the aggregate."

It was distinctly admitted by the Westminster Reviewer, as we remarked
in our last article, that he could give no answer to the question,--why
governments should attempt to produce the greatest possible happiness?
The Reviewer replies thus:--

"Nothing of the kind will be admitted at all. In the passage thus
selected to be tacked to the other, the question started was, concerning
'the object of government;' in which government was spoken of as an
operation, not as anything that is capable of feeling pleasure or
pain. In this sense it is true enough, that OUGHT is not predicable of
governments."

We will quote, once again, the passage which we quoted in our last
Number; and we really hope that our brother critic will feel something
like shame while he peruses it.

"The real answer appeared to be, that men at large OUGHT not to allow
a government to afflict them with more evil or less good, than they
can help. What a GOVERNMENT ought to do is a mysterious and searching
question which those may answer who know what it means; but what other
men ought to do is a question of no mystery at all. The word OUGHT,
if it means anything, must have reference to some kind of interest or
motives; and what interest a government has in doing right, when
it happens to be interested in doing wrong, is a question for the
schoolmen. The fact appears to be that OUGHT is not predicable of
governments. The question is not, why governments are bound not to do
this or that, but why other men should let them if they can help it. The
point is not to determine why the lion should not eat sheep, but why men
should not eat their own mutton if they can."

We defy the Westminster Reviewer to reconcile this passage with the
"general happiness principle" as he now states it. He tells us that
he meant by government, not the people invested with the powers of
government, but a mere OPERATION incapable of feeling pleasure or pain.
We say, that he meant the people invested with the powers of government,
and nothing else. It is true that OUGHT is not predicable of an
operation. But who would ever dream of raising any question about the
DUTIES of an operation? What did the Reviewer mean by saying, that
a government could not be interested in doing right because it was
interested in doing wrong? Can an operation be interested in either?
And what did he mean by his comparison about the lion? Is a lion an
operation incapable of pain or pleasure? And what did he mean by the
expression, "other men," so obviously opposed to the word "government?"
But let the public judge between us. It is superfluous to argue a point
so clear.

The Reviewer does indeed seem to feel that his expressions cannot be
explained away, and attempts to shuffle out of the difficulty by owning,
that "the double meaning of the word government was not got clear of
without confusion." He has now, at all events, he assures us, made
himself master of Mr Bentham's philosophy. The real and genuine
"greatest happiness principle" is, that the greatest happiness of every
individual is identical with the greatest happiness of society; and all
other "greatest happiness principles" whatever are counterfeits. "This,"
says he, "is the spirit of Mr Bentham's principle; and if there is
anything opposed to it in any former statement it may be corrected by
the present."

Assuredly, if a fair and honourable opponent had, in discussing a
question so abstruse as that concerning the origin of moral obligation,
made some unguarded admission inconsistent with the spirit of his
doctrines, we should not be inclined to triumph over him. But no
tenderness is due to a writer who, in the very act of confessing his
blunders, insults those by whom his blunders have been detected,
and accuses them of misunderstanding what, in fact, he has himself
mis-stated.

The whole of this transaction illustrates excellently the real character
of this sect. A paper comes forth, professing to contain a full
development of the "greatest happiness principle," with the latest
improvements of Mr Bentham. The writer boasts that his article has
the honour of being the announcement and the organ of this wonderful
discovery, which is to make "the bones of sages and patriots stir within
their tombs."

This "magnificent principle" is then stated thus: Mankind ought to
pursue their greatest happiness. But there are persons whose interest is
opposed to the greatest happiness of mankind. OUGHT is not predicable of
such persons. For the word OUGHT has no meaning unless it be used with
reference to some interest.

We answered, with much more lenity than we should have shown to such
nonsense, had it not proceeded, as we supposed, from Mr Bentham, that
interest was synonymous with greatest happiness; and that, therefore, if
the word OUGHT has no meaning, unless used with reference to interest,
then, to say that mankind ought to pursue their greatest happiness, is
simply to say, that the greatest happiness is the greatest happiness;
that every individual pursues his own happiness; that either what
he thinks his happiness must coincide with the greatest happiness of
society or not; that, if what he thinks his happiness coincides with the
greatest happiness of society, he will attempt to promote the greatest
happiness of society whether he ever heard of the "greatest happiness
principle" or not; and that, by the admission of the Westminster
Reviewer, if his happiness is inconsistent with the greatest happiness
of society, there is no reason why he should promote the greatest
happiness of society. Now, that there are individuals who think that for
their happiness which is not for the greatest happiness of society is
evident. The Westminster Reviewer allowed that some of these individuals
were in the right; and did not pretend to give any reason which could
induce any one of them to think himself in the wrong. So that the
"magnificent principle" turned out to be, either a truism or a
contradiction in terms; either this maxim--"Do what you do;" or this
maxim, "Do what you cannot do."

The Westminster Reviewer had the wit to see that he could not defend
this palpable nonsense; but, instead of manfully owning that he had
misunderstood the whole nature of the "greatest happiness principle" in
the summer, and had obtained new light during the autumn, he attempts
to withdraw the former principle unobserved, and to substitute another,
directly opposed to it, in its place; clamouring all the time against
our unfairness, like one who, while changing the cards, diverts the
attention of the table from his sleight of hand by vociferating charges
of foul play against other people.

The "greatest happiness principle" for the present quarter is then
this,--that every individual will best promote his own happiness in
this world, religious considerations being left out of the question,
by promoting the greatest happiness of the whole species. And
this principle, we are told, holds good with respect to kings and
aristocracies as well as with other people.

"It is certain that the individual operators in any government, if they
were thoroughly intelligent and entered into a perfect calculation
of all existing chances, would seek for their own happiness in the
promotion of the general; which brings them, if they knew it, under
Mr Bentham's rule. The mistake of supposing the contrary, lies in
confounding criminals who have had the luck to escape punishment with
those who have the risk still before them. Suppose, for instance, a
member of the House of Commons were at this moment to debate within
himself, whether it would be for his ultimate happiness to begin,
according to his ability, to misgovern. If he could be sure of being
as lucky as some that are dead and gone, there might be difficulty in
finding him an answer. But he is NOT sure; and never can be, till he
is dead. He does not know that he is not close upon the moment when
misgovernment such as he is tempted to contemplate, will be made a
terrible example of. It is not fair to pick out the instance of the
thief that has died unhanged. The question is, whether thieving is at
this moment an advisable trade to begin with all the possibilities of
hanging not got over? This is the spirit of Mr Bentham's principle; and
if there is anything opposed to it in any former statement, it may be
corrected by the present."

We hope that we have now at last got to the real "magnificent
principle,"--to the principle which is really to make "the bones of the
sages and patriots stir." What effect it may produce on the bones of
the dead we shall not pretend to decide; but we are sure that it will do
very little for the happiness of the living.

In the first place, nothing is more certain than this, that the
Utilitarian theory of government, as developed in Mr Mill's Essay and
in all the other works on the subject which have been put forth by the
sect, rests on those two principles,--that men follow their interest,
and that the interest of individuals may be, and in fact perpetually
is, opposed to the interest of society. Unless these two principles be
granted, Mr Mill's Essay does not contain one sound sentence. All his
arguments against monarchy and aristocracy, all his arguments in favour
of democracy, nay, the very argument by which he shows that there is
any necessity for having government at all, must be rejected as utterly
worthless.

This is so palpable that even the Westminster Reviewer, though not the
most clear-sighted of men, could not help seeing it. Accordingly, he
attempts to guard himself against the objection, after the manner of
such reasoners, by committing two blunders instead of one. "All this,"
says he, "only shows that the members of a government would do well if
they were all-wise," and he proceeds to tell us that, as rulers are not
all-wise, they will invariably act against this principle wherever they
can, so that the democratical checks will still be necessary to produce
good government.

No form which human folly takes is so richly and exquisitely laughable
as the spectacle of an Utilitarian in a dilemma. What earthly good can
there be in a principle upon which no man will act until he is all-wise?
A certain most important doctrine, we are told, has been demonstrated so
clearly that it ought to be the foundation of the science of government.
And yet the whole frame of government is to be constituted exactly as
if this fundamental doctrine were false, and on the supposition that no
human being will ever act as if he believed it to be true!

The whole argument of the Utilitarians in favour of universal suffrage
proceeds on the supposition that even the rudest and most uneducated men
cannot, for any length of time, be deluded into acting against their
own true interest. Yet now they tell us that, in all aristocratical
communities, the higher and more educated class will, not occasionally,
but invariably, act against its own interest. Now, the only use of
proving anything, as far as we can see, is that people may believe it.
To say that a man does what he believes to be against his happiness is
a contradiction in terms. If, therefore, government and laws are to be
constituted on the supposition on which Mr Mill's Essay is founded,
that all individuals will, whenever they have power over others put into
their hands, act in opposition to the general happiness, then government
and laws must be constituted on the supposition that no individual
believes, or ever will believe, his own happiness to be identical with
the happiness of society. That is to say, government and laws are to
be constituted on the supposition that no human being will ever
be satisfied by Mr Bentham's proof of his "greatest happiness
principle,"--a supposition which may be true enough, but which says
little, we think, for the principle in question.

But where has this principle been demonstrated? We are curious, we
confess, to see this demonstration which is to change the face of the
world and yet is to convince nobody. The most amusing circumstance is
that the Westminster Reviewer himself does not seem to know whether
the principle has been demonstrated or not. "Mr Bentham," he says, "has
demonstrated it, or at all events has laid such foundations that there
is no trouble in demonstrating it." Surely it is rather strange that
such a matter should be left in doubt. The Reviewer proposed, in his
former article, a slight verbal emendation in the statement of the
principle; he then announced that the principle had received its last
improvement; and gloried in the circumstance that the Westminster Review
had been selected as the organ of that improvement. Did it never occur
to him that one slight improvement to a doctrine is to prove it?

Mr Bentham has not demonstrated the "greatest happiness principle," as
now stated. He is far too wise a man to think of demonstrating any
such thing. In those sections of his "Introduction to the Principles of
Morals and Legislation", to which the Reviewer refers us in his note,
there is not a word of the kind. Mr Bentham says, most truly, that there
are no occasions in which a man has not SOME motives for consulting the
happiness of other men; and he proceeds to set forth what those motives
are--sympathy on all occasions, and the love of reputation on most
occasions. This is the very doctrine which we have been maintaining
against Mr Mill and the Westminster Reviewer. The principal charge which
we brought against Mr Mill was, that those motives to which Mr Bentham
ascribes so much influence were quite left out of consideration in his
theory. The Westminster Reviewer, in the very article now before us,
abuses us for saying, in the spirit, and almost in the words of Mr
Bentham, that "there is a certain check to the rapacity and cruelty
of men in their desire of the good opinion of others." But does this
principle, in which we fully agree with Mr Bentham, go the length of
the new "greatest happiness principle?" The question is, not whether men
have SOME motives for promoting the greatest happiness, but whether
the STRONGER motives be those which impel them to promote the greatest
happiness. That this would always be the case if men knew their own
worldly interests is the assertion of the Reviewer. As he expresses some
doubt whether Mr Bentham has demonstrated this or not, we would advise
him to set the point at rest by giving his own demonstration.

The Reviewer has not attempted to give a general confirmation of the
"greatest happiness principle;" but he has tried to prove that it holds
good in one or two particular cases. And even in those particular cases
he has utterly failed. A man, says he, who calculated the chances fairly
would perceive that it would be for his greatest happiness to abstain
from stealing; for a thief runs a greater risk of being hanged than an
honest man.

It would have been wise, we think, in the Westminster Reviewer, before
he entered on a discussion of this sort, to settle in what human
happiness consists. Each of the ancient sects of philosophy held some
tenet on this subject which served for a distinguishing badge. The
summum bonum of the Utilitarians, as far as we can judge from the
passage which we are now considering, is the not being hanged.

That it is an unpleasant thing to be hanged, we most willingly concede
to our brother. But that the whole question of happiness or misery
resolves itself into this single point, we cannot so easily admit. We
must look at the thing purchased as well as the price paid for it. A
thief, assuredly, runs a greater risk of being hanged than a labourer;
and so an officer in the army runs a greater risk of being shot than a
banker's clerk; and a governor of India runs a greater risk of dying of
cholera than a lord of the bedchamber. But does it therefore follow that
every man, whatever his habits or feelings may be, would, if he knew
his own happiness, become a clerk rather than a cornet, or goldstick in
waiting rather than governor of India?

Nothing can be more absurd than to suppose, like the Westminster
Reviewer, that thieves steal only because they do not calculate the
chances of being hanged as correctly as honest men. It never seems to
have occurred to him as possible that a man may so greatly prefer the
life of a thief to the life of a labourer that he may determine to brave
the risk of detection and punishment, though he may even think that risk
greater than it really is. And how, on Utilitarian principles, is such
a man to be convinced that he is in the wrong? "You will be found
out."--"Undoubtedly."--"You will be hanged within two years."--"I expect
to be hanged within one year."--"Then why do you pursue this lawless
mode of life?"--"Because I would rather live for one year with plenty
of money, dressed like a gentleman, eating and drinking of the best,
frequenting public places, and visiting a dashing mistress, than break
stones on the road, or sit down to the loom, with the certainty of
attaining a good old age. It is my humour. Are you answered?"

A king, says the Reviewer again, would govern well, if he were wise,
for fear of provoking his subjects to insurrection. Therefore the true
happiness of a king is identical with the greatest happiness of society.
Tell Charles II. that, if he will be constant to his queen, sober
at table, regular at prayers, frugal in his expenses, active in the
transaction of business, if he will drive the herd of slaves, buffoons,
and procurers from Whitehall, and make the happiness of his people the
rule of his conduct, he will have a much greater chance of reigning
in comfort to an advanced age; that his profusion and tyranny have
exasperated his subjects, and may, perhaps, bring him to an end as
terrible as his father's. He might answer, that he saw the danger, but
that life was not worth having without ease and vicious pleasures. And
what has our philosopher to say? Does he not see that it is no more
possible to reason a man out of liking a short life and a merry one more
than a long life and a dull one than to reason a Greenlander out of his
train oil? We may say that the tastes of the thief and the tyrant differ
from ours; but what right have we to say, looking at this world alone,
that they do not pursue their greatest happiness very judiciously?

It is the grossest ignorance of human nature to suppose that another man
calculates the chances differently from us, merely because he does what,
in his place, we should not do. Every man has tastes and propensities,
which he is disposed to gratify at a risk and expense which people of
different temperaments and habits think extravagant. "Why," says Horace,
"does one brother like to lounge in the forum, to play in the Campus,
and to anoint himself in the baths, so well, that he would not put
himself out of his way for all the wealth of the richest plantations of
the East; while the other toils from sunrise to sunset for the purpose
of increasing his fortune?" Horace attributes the diversity to the
influence of the Genius and the natal star: and eighteen hundred
years have taught us only to disguise our ignorance beneath a more
philosophical language.

We think, therefore, that the Westminster Reviewer, even if we admit his
calculation of the chances to be right, does not make out his case. But
he appears to us to miscalculate chances more grossly than any person
who ever acted or speculated in this world. "It is for the happiness,"
says he, "of a member of the House of Commons to govern well; for he
never can tell that he is not close on the moment when misgovernment
will be terribly punished: if he was sure that he should be as lucky as
his predecessors, it might be for his happiness to misgovern; but he is
not sure." Certainly a member of Parliament is not sure that he shall
not be torn in pieces by a mob, or guillotined by a revolutionary
tribunal for his opposition to reform. Nor is the Westminster Reviewer
sure that he shall not be hanged for writing in favour of universal
suffrage. We may have democratical massacres. We may also have
aristocratical proscriptions. It is not very likely, thank God, that we
should see either. But the radical, we think, runs as much danger as the
aristocrat. As to our friend the Westminster Reviewer, he, it must
be owned, has as good a right as any man on his side, "Antoni gladios
contemnere." But take the man whose votes, ever since he has sate in
Parliament, have been the most uniformly bad, and oppose him to the man
whose votes have been the most uniformly good. The Westminster Reviewer
would probably select Mr Sadler and Mr Hume. Now, does any rational man
think,--will the Westminster Reviewer himself say,--that Mr Sadler runs
more risk of coming to a miserable end on account of his public conduct
than Mr Hume? Mr Sadler does not know that he is not close on the moment
when he will be made an example of; for Mr Sadler knows, if possible,
less about the future than about the past. But he has no more reason to
expect that he shall be made an example of than to expect that London
will be swallowed up by an earthquake next spring; and it would be as
foolish in him to act on the former supposition as on the latter. There
is a risk; for there is a risk of everything which does not involve a
contradiction; but it is a risk from which no man in his wits would give
a shilling to be insured. Yet our Westminster Reviewer tells us that
this risk alone, apart from all considerations of religion, honour
or benevolence, would, as a matter of mere calculation, induce a wise
member of the House of Commons to refuse any emoluments which might be
offered him as the price of his support to pernicious measures.

We have hitherto been examining cases proposed by our opponent. It is
now our turn to propose one; and we beg that he will spare no wisdom in
solving it.

A thief is condemned to be hanged. On the eve of the day fixed for the
execution a turnkey enters his cell and tells him that all is safe,
that he has only to slip out, that his friends are waiting in the
neighbourhood with disguises, and that a passage is taken for him in
an American packet. Now, it is clearly for the greatest happiness of
society that the thief should be hanged and the corrupt turnkey exposed
and punished. Will the Westminster Reviewer tell us that it is for the
greatest happiness of the thief to summon the head jailer and tell the
whole story? Now, either it is for the greatest happiness of a thief
to be hanged or it is not. If it is, then the argument, by which the
Westminster Reviewer attempts to prove that men do not promote their own
happiness by thieving, falls to the ground. If it is not, then there are
men whose greatest happiness is at variance with the greatest happiness
of the community.

To sum up our arguments shortly, we say that the "greatest happiness
principle," as now stated, is diametrically opposed to the principle
stated in the Westminster Review three months ago.

We say that, if the "greatest happiness principle," as now stated, be
sound, Mr Mill's Essay, and all other works concerning Government which,
like that Essay, proceed on the supposition that individuals may have an
interest opposed to the greatest happiness of society, are fundamentally
erroneous.

We say that those who hold this principle to be sound must be prepared
to maintain, either that monarchs and aristocracies may be trusted to
govern the community, or else that men cannot be trusted to follow their
own interest when that interest is demonstrated to them.

We say that, if men cannot be trusted to follow their own interest
when that interest has been demonstrated to them, then the Utilitarian
arguments in favour of universal suffrage are good for nothing.

We say that the "greatest happiness principle" has not been proved;
that it cannot be generally proved; that even in the particular cases
selected by the Reviewer it is not clear that the principle is true;
and that many cases might be stated in which the common sense of mankind
would at once pronounce it to be false.

We now leave the Westminster Reviewer to alter and amend his
"magnificent principle" as he thinks best. Unlimited, it is false.
Properly limited, it will be barren. The "greatest happiness principle"
of the 1st of July, as far as we could discern its meaning through
a cloud of rodomontade, was an idle truism. The "greatest happiness
principle" of the 1st of October is, in the phrase of the American
newspapers, "important if true." But unhappily it is not true. It is not
our business to conjecture what new maxim is to make the bones of sages
and patriots stir on the 1st of December. We can only say that, unless
it be something infinitely more ingenious than its two predecessors, we
shall leave it unmolested. The Westminster Reviewer may, if he pleases,
indulge himself like Sultan Schahriar with espousing a rapid succession
of virgin theories. But we must beg to be excused from playing the part
of the vizier who regularly attended on the day after the wedding to
strangle the new Sultana.

The Westminster Reviewer charges us with urging it as an objection to
the "greatest happiness principle" that "it is included in the Christian
morality." This is a mere fiction of his own. We never attacked the
morality of the Gospel. We blamed the Utilitarians for claiming the
credit of a discovery, when they had merely stolen that morality, and
spoiled it in the stealing. They have taken the precept of Christ and
left the motive; and they demand the praise of a most wonderful and
beneficial invention, when all that they have done has been to make
a most useful maxim useless by separating it from its sanction. On
religious principles it is true that every individual will best promote
his own happiness by promoting the happiness of others. But if religious
considerations be left out of the question it is not true. If we do not
reason on the supposition of a future state, where is the motive? If we
do reason on that supposition, where is the discovery?

The Westminster Reviewer tells us that "we wish to see the science of
Government unsettled because we see no prospect of a settlement which
accords with our interests." His angry eagerness to have questions
settled resembles that of a judge in one of Dryden's plays--the
Amphitryon, we think--who wishes to decide a cause after hearing only
one party, and, when he has been at last compelled to listen to the
statement of the defendant, flies into a passion, and exclaims, "There
now, sir! See what you have done. The case was quite clear a minute ago;
and you must come and puzzle it!" He is the zealot of a sect. We are
searchers after truth. He wishes to have the question settled. We wish
to have it sifted first. The querulous manner in which we have been
blamed for attacking Mr Mill's system, and propounding no system of
our own, reminds us of the horror with which that shallow dogmatist,
Epicurus, the worst parts of whose nonsense the Utilitarians have
attempted to revive, shrank from the keen and searching scepticism of
the second Academy.

It is not our fault that an experimental science of vast extent does not
admit of being settled by a short demonstration; that the subtilty
of nature, in the moral as in the physical world, triumphs over the
subtilty of syllogism. The quack, who declares on affidavit that, by
using his pills and attending to his printed directions, hundreds who
had been dismissed incurable from the hospitals have renewed their youth
like the eagles, may, perhaps, think that Sir Henry Halford, when
he feels the pulses of patients, inquires about their symptoms, and
prescribes a different remedy to each, is unsettling the science of
medicine for the sake of a fee.

If, in the course of this controversy, we have refrained from expressing
any opinion respecting the political institutions of England, it is not
because we have not an opinion, or because we shrink from avowing
it. The Utilitarians, indeed, conscious that their boasted theory of
government would not bear investigation, were desirous to turn the
dispute about Mr Mill's Essay into a dispute about the Whig party,
rotten boroughs, unpaid magistrates, and ex-officio informations. When
we blamed them for talking nonsense, they cried out that they were
insulted for being reformers,--just as poor Ancient Pistol swore that
the scars which he had received from the cudgel of Fluellen were got
in the Gallia wars. We, however, did not think it desirable to mix up
political questions, about which the public mind is violently agitated,
with a great problem in moral philosophy.

Our notions about Government are not, however, altogether unsettled. We
have an opinion about parliamentary reform, though we have not arrived
at that opinion by the royal road which Mr Mill has opened for the
explorers of political science. As we are taking leave, probably for the
last time, of this controversy, we will state very concisely what our
doctrines are. On some future occasion we may, perhaps, explain and
defend them at length.

Our fervent wish, and we will add our sanguine hope, is that we may
see such a reform of the House of Commons as may render its votes
the express image of the opinion of the middle orders of Britain. A
pecuniary qualification we think absolutely necessary; and in settling
its amount, our object would be to draw the line in such a manner that
every decent farmer and shopkeeper might possess the elective franchise.
We should wish to see an end put to all the advantages which particular
forms of property possess over other forms, and particular portions of
property over other equal portions. And this would content us. Such a
reform would, according to Mr Mill, establish an aristocracy of wealth,
and leave the community without protection and exposed to all the evils
of unbridled power. Most willingly would we stake the whole controversy
between us on the success of the experiment which we propose.

*****



SADLER'S LAW OF POPULATION. (July 1830.)

     "The Law of Population; a Treatise in Six Books, in Disproof
     of the Superfecundity of Human Beings, and developing the
     real Principle of their Increase".  By Michael Thomas
     Sadler, M.P. 2 volumes 8vo. London: 1830.

We did not expect a good book from Mr Sadler: and it is well that we did
not; for he has given us a very bad one. The matter of his treatise is
extraordinary; the manner more extraordinary still. His arrangement is
confused, his repetitions endless, his style everything which it ought
not to be. Instead of saying what he has to say with the perspicuity,
the precision, and the simplicity in which consists the eloquence proper
to scientific writing, he indulges without measure in vague, bombastic
declamation, made up of those fine things which boys of fifteen admire,
and which everybody, who is not destined to be a boy all his life, weeds
vigorously out of his compositions after five-and-twenty. That portion
of his two thick volumes which is not made up of statistical tables,
consists principally of ejaculations, apostrophes, metaphors,
similes,--all the worst of their respective kinds. His thoughts are
dressed up in this shabby finery with so much profusion and so little
discrimination, that they remind us of a company of wretched strolling
players, who have huddled on suits of ragged and faded tinsel, taken
from a common wardrobe, and fitting neither their persons nor their
parts; and who then exhibit themselves to the laughing and pitying
spectators, in a state of strutting, ranting, painted, gilded beggary.
"Oh, rare Daniels!" "Political economist, go and do thou likewise!"
"Hear, ye political economists and anti-populationists!" "Population, if
not proscribed and worried down by the Cerberean dogs of this wretched
and cruel system, really does press against the level of the means of
subsistence, and still elevating that level, it continues thus to
urge society through advancing stages, till at length the strong
and resistless hand of necessity presses the secret spring of human
prosperity, and the portals of Providence fly open, and disclose to the
enraptured gaze the promised land of contented and rewarded labour."
These are specimens, taken at random, of Mr Sadler's eloquence. We could
easily multiply them; but our readers, we fear, are already inclined to
cry for mercy.

Much blank verse and much rhyme is also scattered through these volumes,
sometimes rightly quoted, sometimes wrongly,--sometimes good, sometimes
insufferable,--sometimes taken from Shakspeare, and sometimes, for aught
we know, Mr Sadler's own. "Let man," cries the philosopher, "take heed
how he rashly violates his trust;" and thereupon he breaks forth into
singing as follows:

     "What myriads wait in destiny's dark womb,
     Doubtful of life or an eternal tomb!
     'Tis his to blot them from the book of fate,
     Or, like a second Deity, create;
     To dry the stream of being in its source,
     Or bid it, widening, win its restless course;
     While, earth and heaven replenishing, the flood
     Rolls to its Ocean fount, and rests in God."

If these lines are not Mr Sadler's, we heartily beg his pardon for our
suspicion--a suspicion which, we acknowledge, ought not to be lightly
entertained of any human being. We can only say that we never met with
them before, and that we do not much care how long it may be before we
meet with them, or with any others like them, again.

The spirit of this work is as bad as its style. We never met with a book
which so strongly indicated that the writer was in a good humour with
himself, and in a bad humour with everybody else; which contained so
much of that kind of reproach which is vulgarly said to be no slander,
and of that kind of praise which is vulgarly said to be no commendation.
Mr Malthus is attacked in language which it would be scarcely decent to
employ respecting Titus Oates. "Atrocious," "execrable," "blasphemous,"
and other epithets of the same kind, are poured forth against that able,
excellent, and honourable man, with a profusion which in the early part
of the work excites indignation, but after the first hundred pages,
produces mere weariness and nausea. In the preface, Mr Sadler excuses
himself on the plea of haste. Two-thirds of his book, he tells us, were
written in a few months. If any terms have escaped him which can be
construed into personal disrespect, he shall deeply regret that he had
not more time to revise them. We must inform him that the tone of his
book required a very different apology; and that a quarter of a year,
though it is a short time for a man to be engaged in writing a book, is
a very long time for a man to be in a passion.

The imputation of being in a passion Mr Sadler will not disclaim. His
is a theme, he tells us, on which "it were impious to be calm;" and he
boasts that, "instead of conforming to the candour of the present age,
he has imitated the honesty of preceding ones, in expressing himself
with the utmost plainness and freedom throughout." If Mr Sadler really
wishes that the controversy about his new principle of population should
be carried on with all the license of the seventeenth century, we can
have no personal objections. We are quite as little afraid of a contest
in which quarter shall be neither given nor taken as he can be. But we
would advise him seriously to consider, before he publishes the promised
continuation of his work, whether he be not one of that class of writers
who stand peculiarly in need of the candour which he insults, and who
would have most to fear from that unsparing severity which he practises
and recommends.

There is only one excuse for the extreme acrimony with which this book
is written; and that excuse is but a bad one. Mr Sadler imagines that
the theory of Mr Malthus is inconsistent with Christianity, and even
with the purer forms of Deism. Now, even had this been the case, a
greater degree of mildness and self-command than Mr Sadler has shown
would have been becoming in a writer who had undertaken to defend the
religion of charity. But, in fact, the imputation which has been thrown
on Mr Malthus and his followers is so absurd as scarcely to deserve
an answer. As it appears, however, in almost every page of Mr Sadler's
book, we will say a few words respecting it.

Mr Sadler describes Mr Malthus's principle in the following words:--

"It pronounces that there exists an evil in the principle of population;
an evil, not accidental, but inherent; not of occasional occurrence,
but in perpetual operation; not light, transient, or mitigated, but
productive of miseries, compared with which all those inflicted by human
institutions, that is to say, by the weakness and wickedness of man,
however instigated, are 'light;' an evil, finally, for which there is
no remedy save one, which had been long overlooked, and which is now
enunciated in terms which evince anything rather than confidence. It is
a principle, moreover, pre-eminently bold, as well as 'clear.' With a
presumption, to call it by no fitter name, of which it may be doubted
whether literature, heathen or Christian, furnishes a parallel, it
professes to trace this supposed evil to its source, 'the laws of
nature, which are those of God;' thereby implying, and indeed asserting,
that the law by which the Deity multiplies his offspring, and that by
which he makes provision for their sustentation, are different, and,
indeed, irreconcilable."

"This theory," he adds, "in the plain apprehension of the many, lowers
the character of the Deity in that attribute, which, as Rousseau has
well observed, is the most essential to him, his goodness; or otherwise,
impugns his wisdom."

Now nothing is more certain than that there is physical and moral
evil in the world. Whoever, therefore, believes, as we do most
firmly believe, in the goodness of God, must believe that there is
no incompatibility between the goodness of God and the existence
of physical and moral evil. If, then, the goodness of God be not
incompatible with the existence of physical and moral evil, on what
grounds does Mr Sadler maintain that the goodness of God is incompatible
with the law of population laid down by Mr Malthus?

Is there any difference between the particular form of evil which would
be produced by over-population, and other forms of evil which we know
to exist in the world? It is, says Mr Sadler, not a light or transient
evil, but a great and permanent evil. What then? The question of the
origin of evil is a question of ay or no,--not a question of more
or less. If any explanation can be found by which the slightest
inconvenience ever sustained by any sentient being can be reconciled
with the divine attribute of benevolence, that explanation will equally
apply to the most dreadful and extensive calamities that can ever
afflict the human race. The difficulty arises from an apparent
contradiction in terms; and that difficulty is as complete in the case
of a headache which lasts for an hour as in the case of a pestilence
which unpeoples an empire,--in the case of the gust which makes us
shiver for a moment as in the case of the hurricane in which an Armada
is cast away.

It is, according to Mr Sadler, an instance of presumption unparalleled
in literature, heathen or Christian, to trace an evil to "the laws of
nature, which are those of God," as its source. Is not hydrophobia
an evil? And is it not a law of nature that hydrophobia should be
communicated by the bite of a mad dog? Is not malaria an evil? And is it
not a law of nature that in particular situations the human frame should
be liable to malaria? We know that there is evil in the world. If it is
not to be traced to the laws of nature, how did it come into the world?
Is it supernatural? And, if we suppose it to be supernatural, is not the
difficulty of reconciling it with the divine attributes as great as if
we suppose it to be natural? Or, rather, what do the words natural and
supernatural mean when applied to the operations of the Supreme Mind?

Mr Sadler has attempted, in another part of his work, to meet these
obvious arguments, by a distinction without a difference.

"The scourges of human existence, as necessary regulators of the numbers
of mankind, it is also agreed by some, are not inconsistent with the
wisdom or benevolence of the Governor of the universe; though such think
that it is a mere after-concern to 'reconcile the undeniable state of
the fact to the attributes we assign to the Deity.' 'The purpose of the
earthquake,' say they, 'the hurricane, the drought, or the famine, by
which thousands, and sometimes almost millions, of the human race, are
at once overwhelmed, or left the victims of lingering want, is certainly
inscrutable.' How singular is it that a sophism like this, so false, as
a mere illustration, should pass for an argument, as it has long done!
The principle of population is declared to be naturally productive of
evils to mankind, and as having that constant and manifest tendency to
increase their numbers beyond the means of their subsistence, which has
produced the unhappy and disgusting consequences so often enumerated.
This is, then, its universal tendency or rule. But is there in Nature
the same constant tendency to these earthquakes, hurricanes, droughts,
and famines by which so many myriads, if not millions, are overwhelmed
or reduced at once to ruin? No; these awful events are strange
exceptions to the ordinary course of things; their visitations are
partial, and they occur at distant intervals of time. While Religion has
assigned to them a very solemn office, Philosophy readily refers them to
those great and benevolent principles of Nature by which the universe
is regulated. But were there a constantly operating tendency to these
calamitous occurrences; did we feel the earth beneath us tremulous, and
giving ceaseless and certain tokens of the coming catastrophe of
Nature; were the hurricane heard mustering its devastating powers, and
perpetually muttering around us; were the skies 'like brass,' without
a cloud to produce one genial drop to refresh the thirsty earth, and
famine, consequently, visibly on the approach; I say, would such a
state of things, as resulting from the constant laws of Nature, be
'reconcilable with the attributes we assign to the Deity,' or with any
attributes which in these inventive days could be assigned to him, so
as to represent him as anything but the tormenter, rather than the kind
benefactor, of his creatures? Life, in such a condition, would be like
the unceasingly threatened and miserable existence of Damocles at the
table of Dionysius, and the tyrant himself the worthy image of the Deity
of the anti-populationists."

Surely this is wretched trifling. Is it on the number of bad harvests,
or of volcanic eruptions, that this great question depends? Mr Sadler's
piety, it seems, would be proof against one rainy summer, but would
be overcome by three or four in succession. On the coasts of the
Mediterranean, where earthquakes are rare, he would be an optimist.
South America would make him a sceptic, and Java a decided Manichean.
To say that religion assigns a solemn office to these visitations is
nothing to the purpose. Why was man so constituted as to need such
warnings? It is equally unmeaning to say that philosophy refers these
events to benevolent general laws of nature. In so far as the laws of
nature produce evil, they are clearly not benevolent. They may produce
much good. But why is this good mixed with evil? The most subtle and
powerful intellects have been labouring for centuries to solve these
difficulties. The true solution, we are inclined to think, is that which
has been rather suggested, than developed, by Paley and Butler. But
there is not one solution which will not apply quite as well to the
evils of over-population as to any other evil. Many excellent people
think that it is presumptuous to meddle with such high questions at all,
and that, though there doubtless is an explanation, our faculties are
not sufficiently enlarged to comprehend that explanation. This mode of
getting rid of the difficulty, again, will apply quite as well to the
evils of over-population as to any other evils. We are sure that those
who humbly confess their inability to expound the great enigma act more
rationally and more decorously than Mr Sadler, who tells us, with the
utmost confidence, which are the means and which the ends,--which the
exceptions and which the rules, in the government of the universe;--who
consents to bear a little evil without denying the divine benevolence,
but distinctly announces that a certain quantity of dry weather or
stormy weather would force him to regard the Deity as the tyrant of his
creatures.

The great discovery by which Mr Sadler has, as he conceives, vindicated
the ways of Providence is enounced with all the pomp of capital letters.
We must particularly beg that our readers will peruse it with attention.

"No one fact relative to the human species is more clearly ascertained,
whether by general observation or actual proof, than that their
fecundity varies in different communities and countries. The principle
which effects this variation, without the necessity of those cruel
and unnatural expedients so frequently adverted to, constitutes what I
presume to call THE LAW OF POPULATION; and that law may be thus briefly
enunciated:--


"THE PROLIFICNESS OF HUMAN BEINGS, OTHERWISE SIMILARLY CIRCUMSTANCED,
VARIES INVERSELY AS THEIR NUMBERS.

"The preceding definition may be thus amplified and explained.
Premising, as a mere truism, that marriages under precisely similar
circumstances will, on the average, be equally fruitful everywhere,
I proceed to state, first, that the prolificness of a given number
of marriages will, all other circumstances being the same, vary
in proportion to the condensation of the population, so that that
prolificness shall be greatest where the numbers on an equal space are
the fewest, and, on the contrary, the smallest where those numbers are
the largest."

Mr Sadler, at setting out, abuses Mr Malthus for enouncing his theory
in terms taken from the exact sciences. "Applied to the mensuration of
human fecundity," he tells us, "the most fallacious of all things is
geometrical demonstration;" and he again informs us that those "act an
irrational and irrelevant part who affect to measure the mighty depth
of God's mercies by their arithmetic, and to demonstrate, by their
geometrical ratios, that it is inadequate to receive and contain the
efflux of that fountain of life which is in Him."

It appears, however, that it is not to the use of mathematical words,
but only to the use of those words in their right senses that Mr Sadler
objects. The law of inverse variation, or inverse proportion, is as much
a part of mathematical science as the law of geometric progression. The
only difference in this respect between Mr Malthus and Mr Sadler is,
that Mr Malthus knows what is meant by geometric progression, and
that Mr Sadler has not the faintest notion of what is meant by inverse
variation. Had he understood the proposition which he has enounced with
so much pomp, its ludicrous absurdity must at once have flashed on his
mind.

Let it be supposed that there is a tract in the back settlements of
America, or in New South Wales, equal in size to London, with only a
single couple, a man and his wife, living upon it. The population of
London, with its immediate suburbs, is now probably about a million and
a half. The average fecundity of a marriage in London is, as Mr Sadler
tells us 2.35. How many children will the woman in the back settlements
bear according to Mr Sadler's theory? The solution of the problem is
easy. As the population in this tract in the back settlements is to
the population of London, so will be the number of children born from a
marriage in London to the number of children born from the marriage of
this couple in the back settlements. That is to say--

      2 : 1,500,000 :: 2.35 : 1,762,500.

The lady will have 1,762,500 children: a large "efflux of the fountain
of life," to borrow Mr Sadler's sonorous rhetoric, as the most
philoprogenitive parent could possibly desire.

But let us, instead of putting cases of our own, look at some of those
which Mr Sadler has brought forward in support of his theory. The
following table, he tells us, exhibits a striking proof of the truth of
his main position. It seems to us to prove only that Mr Sadler does not
know what inverse proportion means.

     Countries          Inhabitants on a       Children to a
                        Square Mile, about     Marriage

     Cape of Good Hope         1                 5.48
     North America             4                 5.22
     Russia in Europe         23                 4.94
     Denmark                  73                 4.89
     Prussia                 100                 4.70
     France                  140                 4.22
     England                 160                 3.66

Is 1 to 160 as 3.66 to 5.48? If Mr Sadler's principle were just, the
number of children produced by a marriage at the Cape would be, not
5.48, but very near 600. Or take America and France. Is 4 to 140 as
4.22 to 5.22? The number of births to a marriage in North America ought,
according to this proportion, to be about 150.

Mr Sadler states the law of population in England thus:--

"Where the inhabitants are found to be on the square mile,

     From      To      Counties   Number of births to 100 marriages

       50      100        2             420
      100      150        9             396
      150      200       16             390
      200      250        4             388
      250      300        5             378
      300      350        3             353
      500      600        2             331
     4000 and upwards     1             246

"Now, I think it quite reasonable to conclude, that, were there not
another document in existence relative to this subject, the facts thus
deduced from the census of England are fully sufficient to demonstrate
the position, that the fecundity of human beings varies inversely as
their numbers. How, I ask, can it be evaded?"

What, we ask, is there to evade? Is 246 to 420 as 50 to 4000? Is 331 to
396 as 100 to 500? If the law propounded by Mr Sadler were correct, the
births to a hundred marriages in the least populous part of England,
would be 246 x 4000 / 50, that is 19,680,--nearly two hundred children
to every mother. But we will not carry on these calculations. The
absurdity of Mr Sadler's proposition is so palpable that it is
unnecessary to select particular instances. Let us see what are the
extremes of population and fecundity in well-known countries. The space
which Mr Sadler generally takes is a square mile. The population at the
Cape of Good Hope is, according to him, one to the square mile. That
of London is two hundred thousand to the square mile. The number of
children at the Cape, Mr Sadler informs us, is 5.48 to a marriage. In
London, he states it at 2.35 to a marriage. Now how can that of which
all the variations lie between 2.35 and 5.48 vary, either directly or
inversely, as that which admits of all the variations between one and
two hundred thousand? Mr Sadler evidently does not know the meaning of
the word proportion. A million is a larger quantity than ten. A hundred
is a larger quantity than five. Mr Sadler thinks, therefore, that there
is no impropriety in saying that a hundred is to five as a million is to
ten, or in the inverse ratio of ten to a million. He proposes to prove
that the fecundity of marriages varies in inverse proportion to the
density of the population. But all that he attempts to prove is that,
while the population increases from one to a hundred and sixty on the
square mile, the fecundity will diminish from 5.48 to 3.66; and that
again, while the population increases from one hundred and sixty to two
hundred thousand on the square mile, the fecundity will diminish from
3.66 to 2.35.

The proposition which Mr Sadler enounces, without understanding the
words which he uses, would indeed, if it could be proved, set us at ease
as to the dangers of over-population. But it is, as we have shown, a
proposition so grossly absurd that it is difficult for any man to keep
his countenance while he repeats it. The utmost that Mr Sadler has
ever attempted to prove is this,--that the fecundity of the human
race diminishes as population becomes more condensed,--but that the
diminution of fecundity bears a very small ratio to the increase
of population,--so that, while the population on a square mile is
multiplied two hundred-thousand-fold, the fecundity decreases by little
more than one half.

Does this principle vindicate the honour of God? Does it hold out any
new hope or comfort to man? Not at all. We pledge ourselves to
show, with the utmost strictness of reasoning, from Mr Sadler's own
principles, and from facts of the most notorious description, that every
consequence which follows from the law of geometrical progression, laid
down by Mr Malthus, will follow from the law, miscalled a law of inverse
variation, which has been laid down by Mr Sadler.

London is the most thickly peopled spot of its size in the known world.
Therefore the fecundity of the population of London must, according
to Mr Sadler, be less than the fecundity of human beings living on
any other spot of equal size. Mr Sadler tells us, that "the ratios
of mortality are influenced by the different degrees in which the
population is condensated; and that, other circumstances being similar,
the relative number of deaths in a thinly-populated, or country
district, is less than that which takes place in towns, and in towns of
a moderate size less again than that which exists in large and populous
cities." Therefore the mortality in London must, according to him, be
greater than in other places. But, though, according to Mr Sadler, the
fecundity is less in London than elsewhere, and though the mortality is
greater there than elsewhere, we find that even in London the number of
births greatly exceeds the number of deaths. During the ten years which
ended with 1820, there were fifty thousand more baptisms than burials
within the bills of mortality. It follows, therefore, that, even within
London itself, an increase of the population is taking place by internal
propagation.

Now, if the population of a place in which the fecundity is less and
the mortality greater than in other places still goes on increasing
by propagation, it follows that in other places the population will
increase, and increase still faster. There is clearly nothing in Mr
Sadler's boasted law of fecundity which will keep the population from
multiplying till the whole earth is as thick with human beings as St
Giles's parish. If Mr Sadler denies this, he must hold that, in places
less thickly peopled than London, marriages may be less fruitful than
in London, which is directly contrary to his own principles; or that in
places less thickly peopled than London, and similarly situated, people
will die faster than in London, which is again directly contrary to his
own principles. Now, if it follows, as it clearly does follow, from Mr
Sadler's own doctrines, that the human race might be stowed together
by three or four hundred to the acre, and might still, as far as the
principle of propagation is concerned, go on increasing, what advantage,
in a religious or moral point of view, has his theory over that of
Mr Malthus? The principle of Mr Malthus, says Mr Sadler, leads to
consequences of the most frightful description. Be it so. But do not
all these consequences spring equally from his own principle? Revealed
religion condemns Mr Malthus. Be it so. But Mr Sadler must share in the
reproach of heresy. The theory of Mr Malthus represents the Deity as a
Dionysius hanging the sword over the heads of his trembling slaves. Be
it so. But under what rhetorical figure are we to represent the Deity of
Mr Sadler?

A man who wishes to serve the cause of religion ought to hesitate long
before he stakes the truth of religion on the event of a controversy
respecting facts in the physical world. For a time he may succeed in
making a theory which he dislikes unpopular by persuading the public
that it contradicts the Scriptures and is inconsistent with the
attributes of the Deity. But, if at last an overwhelming force of
evidence proves this maligned theory to be true, what is the effect of
the arguments by which the objector has attempted to prove that it is
irreconcilable with natural and revealed religion? Merely this, to make
men infidels. Like the Israelites, in their battle with the Philistines,
he has presumptuously and without warrant brought down the ark of God
into the camp as a means of ensuring victory:--and the consequence of
this profanation is that, when the battle is lost, the ark is taken.

In every age the Church has been cautioned against this fatal and
impious rashness by its most illustrious members,--by the fervid
Augustin, by the subtle Aquinas, by the all-accomplished Pascal. The
warning has been given in vain. That close alliance which, under
the disguise of the most deadly enmity, has always subsisted between
fanaticism and atheism is still unbroken. At one time, the cry was,--"If
you hold that the earth moves round the sun, you deny the truth of the
Bible." Popes, conclaves, and religious orders, rose up against the
Copernican heresy. But, as Pascal said, they could not prevent the
earth from moving, or themselves from moving along with it. One thing,
however, they could do, and they did. They could teach numbers to
consider the Bible as a collection of old women's stories which the
progress of civilisation and knowledge was refuting one by one. They
had attempted to show that the Ptolemaic system was as much a part of
Christianity as the resurrection of the dead. Was it strange, then, that
when the Ptolemaic system became an object of ridicule to every man of
education in Catholic countries, the doctrine of the resurrection should
be in peril? In the present generation, and in our own country, the
prevailing system of geology has been, with equal folly, attacked on the
ground that it is inconsistent with the Mosaic dates. And here we have
Mr Sadler, out of his especial zeal for religion, first proving that the
doctrine of superfecundity is irreconcilable with the goodness of God,
and then laying down principles, and stating facts, from which the
doctrine of superfecundity necessarily follows. This blundering piety
reminds us of the adventures of a certain missionary who went to convert
the inhabitants of Madagascar. The good father had an audience of the
king, and began to instruct his majesty in the history of the human race
as given in the Scriptures. "Thus, sir," said he, "was woman made out
of the rib of man, and ever since that time a woman has had one rib
more than a man." "Surely, father, you must be mistaken there," said the
king. "Mistaken!" said the missionary. "It is an indisputable fact.
My faith upon it! My life upon it!" The good man had heard the fact
asserted by his nurse when he was a child,--had always considered it as
a strong confirmation of the Scriptures, and fully believed it without
having ever thought of verifying it. The king ordered a man and woman,
the leanest that could be found, to be brought before him, and desired
his spiritual instructor to count their ribs. The father counted over
and over, upward and downward, and still found the same number in both.
He then cleared his throat, stammered, stuttered, and began to assure
the king that though he had committed a little error in saying that a
woman had more ribs than a man, he was quite right in saying that the
first woman was made out of the rib of the first man. "How can I tell
that?" said the king. "You come to me with a strange story which you say
is revealed to you from heaven. I have already made you confess that
one half of it is a lie: and how can you have the face to expect that I
shall believe the other half?"

We have shown that Mr Sadler's theory, if it be true, is as much a
theory of superfecundity as that of Mr Malthus. But it is not true. And
from Mr Sadler's own tables we will prove that it is not true.

The fecundity of the human race in England Mr Sadler rates as follows:--

"Where the inhabitants are found to be on the square mile--

     From    To      Counties    Number of births per 100 marriages

       50    100         2           420
      100    150         9           396
      150    200        16           390
      200    250         4           388
      250    300         5           378
      300    350         3           353
      500    600         2           331
     4000 and upwards    1           246

Having given this table, he begins, as usual, to boast and triumph.
"Were there not another document on the subject in existence," says he,
"the facts thus deduced from the census of England are sufficient to
demonstrate the position, that the fecundity of human beings varies
inversely as their numbers." In no case would these facts demonstrate
that the fecundity of human beings varies inversely as their numbers
in the right sense of the words inverse variation. But certainly
they would, "if there were no other document in existence," appear
to indicate something like what Mr Sadler means by inverse variation.
Unhappily for him, however, there are other documents in existence; and
he has himself furnished us with them. We will extract another of his
tables:--


TABLE LXIV.

Showing the Operation of the Law of Population in the different Hundreds
of the County of Lancaster.

(In the following table the name of the Hundred is followed in order by:

     Population on each Square Mile.
     Square Miles.
     Population in 1821, exclusive of Towns of separate Jurisdiction.
     Marriages from 1811 to 1821.
     Baptisms from 1811 to 1821.
     Baptisms to 100 Marriages.)

     Lonsdale   :  96 : 441 :  42,486 :  3,651 :  16,129 : 442
     Almondness : 267 : 228 :  60,930 :  3,670 :  15,228 : 415
     Leyland    : 354 : 126 :  44,583 :  2,858 :  11,182 : 391
     West Derby : 409 : 377 : 154,040 : 24,182 :  86,407 : 357
     Blackburn  : 513 : 286 : 146,608 : 10,814 :  31,463 : 291
     Salford    : 869 : 373 : 322,592 : 40,143 : 114,941 : 286

Mr Sadler rejoices much over this table. The results, he says, have
surprised himself; and, indeed, as we shall show, they might well have
done so.

The result of his inquiries with respect to France he presents in the
following table:

"In those departments where there are to each inhabitant--

     Hectares     Departments   Legitimate births to
                                every 1000 marriages

     4    to 5         2               5130
     3    to 4         3               4372
     2    to 3        30               4250
     1    to 2        44               4234
      .06 to 1         5               4146
      .06              1               2557

Then comes the shout of exaltation as regularly as the Gloria Patri
at the end of a Psalm. "Is there any possibility of gainsaying the
conclusions these facts force upon us; namely that the fecundity of
marriages is regulated by the density of the population, and inversely
to it?"

Certainly these tables, taken separately, look well for Mr Sadler's
theory. He must be a bungling gamester who cannot win when he is
suffered to pack the cards his own way. We must beg leave to shuffle
them a little; and we will venture to promise our readers that some
curious results will follow from the operation. In nine counties of
England, says Mr Sadler, in which the population is from 100 to 150
on the square mile, the births to 100 marriages are 396. He afterwards
expresses some doubt as to the accuracy of the documents from which this
estimate has been formed, and rates the number of births as high as 414.
Let him take his choice. We will allow him every advantage.

In the table which we have quoted, numbered lxiv., he tells us that in
Almondness, where the population is 267 to the square mile, there are
415 births to 100 marriages. The population of Almondness is twice as
thick as the population of the nine counties referred to in the other
table. Yet the number of births to a marriage is greater in Almondness
than in those counties.

Once more, he tells us that in three counties, in which the population
was from 300 to 350 on the square mile, the births to 100 marriages were
353. He afterwards rates them at 375. Again we say, let him take his
choice. But from his table of the population of Lancashire it appears
that, in the hundred of Leyland, where the population is 354 to the
square mile, the number of births to 100 marriages is 391. Here again
we have the marriages becoming more fruitful as the population becomes
denser.

Let us now shuffle the censuses of England and France together. In two
English counties which contain from 50 to 100 inhabitants on the square
mile, the births to 100 marriages are, according to Mr Sadler, 420. But
in forty-four departments of France, in which there are from one to two
hecatares to each inhabitant, that is to say, in which the population is
from 125 to 250 or rather more, to the square mile, the number of births
to 100 marriages is 423 and a fraction.

Again, in five departments of France in which there is less than one
hecatare to each inhabitant, that is to say, in which the population is
more than 250 to the square mile, the number of births to 100 marriages
is 414 and a fraction. But in the four counties of England in which the
population is from 200 to 250 on the square mile, the number of births
to 100 marriages is, according to one of Mr Sadler's tables, only 388,
and by his very highest estimate no more than 402.

Mr Sadler gives us a long table of all the towns of England and Ireland,
which, he tells us, irrefragably demonstrates his principle. We assert,
and will prove, that these tables are alone sufficient to upset his
whole theory.

It is very true that, in the great towns the number of births to a
marriage appears to be smaller than in the less populous towns. But we
learn some other facts from these tables which we should be glad to know
how Mr Sadler will explain. We find that the fecundity in towns of
fewer than 3000 inhabitants is actually much greater than the average
fecundity of the kingdom, and that the fecundity in towns of between
3000 and 4000 inhabitants is at least as great as the average fecundity
of the kingdom. The average fecundity of a marriage in towns of fewer
than 3000 inhabitants is about four; in towns of between 3000 and 4000
inhabitants it is 3.60. Now, the average fecundity of England, when it
contained only 160 inhabitants to a square mile, and when, therefore,
according to the new law of population, the fecundity must have been
greater than it now is, was only, according to Mr Sadler, 3.66 to a
marriage. To proceed,--the fecundity of a marriage in the English towns
of between 4000 and 5000 inhabitants is stated at 3.56. But, when
we turn to Mr Sadler's table of counties, we find the fecundity of a
marriage in Warwickshire and Staffordshire rated at only 3.48, and in
Lancashire and Surrey at only 3.41.

These facts disprove Mr Sadler's principle; and the fact on which he
lays so much stress--that the fecundity is less in the great towns than
in the small towns--does not tend in any degree to prove his principle.
There is not the least reason to believe that the population is more
dense, ON A GIVEN SPACE, in London or Manchester than in a town of 4000
inhabitants. But it is quite certain that the population is more dense
in a town of 4000 inhabitants than in Warwickshire or Lancashire. That
the fecundity of Manchester is less than the fecundity of Sandwich or
Guildford is a circumstance which has nothing whatever to do with Mr
Sadler's theory. But that the fecundity of Sandwich is greater than the
average fecundity of Kent,--that the fecundity of Guildford is greater
than the average fecundity of Surrey,--as from his own tables appears to
be the case,--these are facts utterly inconsistent with his theory.

We need not here examine why it is that the human race is less fruitful
in great cities than in small towns or in the open country. The fact has
long been notorious. We are inclined to attribute it to the same causes
which tend to abridge human life in great cities,--to general sickliness
and want of tone, produced by close air and sedentary employments. Thus
far, and thus far only, we agree with Mr Sadler, that, when population
is crowded together in such masses that the general health and energy of
the frame are impaired by the condensation, and by the habits attending
on the condensation, then the fecundity of the race diminishes. But this
is evidently a check of the same class with war, pestilence, and famine.
It is a check for the operation of which Mr Malthus has allowed.

That any condensation which does not affect the general health will
affect fecundity, is not only not proved--it is disproved--by Mr
Sadler's own tables.

Mr Sadler passes on to Prussia, and sums up his information respecting
that country as follows:--

(In the following table numbers appear in the order: Inhabitants on a
Square Mile, German.

     Number of Provinces.
     Births to 100 Marriages, 1754.
     Births to 100 Marriages, 1784.
     Births to 100 Marriages, Busching.)

     Under 1000   : 2 : 434 : 472 : 503
     1000 to 2000 : 4 : 414 : 455 : 454
     2000 to 3000 : 6 : 384 : 424 : 426
     3000 to 4000 : 2 : 365 : 408 : 394

After the table comes the boast as usual:

"Thus is the law of population deduced from the registers of Prussia
also: and were the argument to pause here, it is conclusive. The
results obtained from the registers of this and the preceding countries,
exhibiting, as they do most clearly, the principle of human increase,
it is utterly impossible should have been the work of chance; on the
contrary, the regularity with which the facts class themselves in
conformity with that principle, and the striking analogy which the whole
of them bear to each other, demonstrate equally the design of Nature,
and the certainty of its accomplishment."

We are sorry to disturb Mr Sadler's complacency. But, in our opinion,
this table completely disproves his whole principle. If we read the
columns perpendicularly, indeed, they seem to be in his favour. But how
stands the case if we read horizontally? Does Mr Sadler believe that,
during the thirty years which elapsed between 1754 and 1784, the
population of Prussia had been diminishing? No fact in history is better
ascertained than that, during the long peace which followed the seven
years' war, it increased with great rapidity. Indeed, if the fecundity
were what Mr Sadler states it to have been, it must have increased with
great rapidity. Yet, the ratio of births to marriages is greater in 1784
than in 1754, and that in every province. It is, therefore, perfectly
clear that the fecundity does not diminish whenever the density of the
population increases.

We will try another of Mr Sadler's tables:


TABLE LXXXI.

Showing the Estimated Prolificness of Marriages in England at the close
of the Seventeenth Century.

(In the following table the name of the Place is followed in order by:

    Number of Inhabitants.
    One Annual Marriage, to.
    Number of Marriages.
    Children to one Marriage.
    Total Number of Births.

    London          :   530,000 : 106 :  5,000 : 4.   :  20,000
    Large Towns     :   870,000 : 128 :  6,800 : 4.5  :  30,000
    Small Towns and
    Country Places  : 4,100,000 : 141 : 29,200 : 4.8  : 140,160
                    -------------------------------------------
                    : 5,500,000 : 134 : 41,000 : 4.65 : 190,760

Standing by itself, this table, like most of the others, seems to
support Mr Sadler's theory. But surely London, at the close of the
seventeenth century, was far more thickly peopled than the kingdom
of England now is. Yet the fecundity in London at the close of the
seventeenth century was 4; and the average fecundity of the whole
kingdom now is not more, according to Mr Sadler, than 3 1/2. Then again,
the large towns in 1700 were far more thickly peopled than Westmoreland
and the North Riding of Yorkshire now are. Yet the fecundity in those
large towns was then 4.5. And Mr Sadler tells us that it is now only 4.2
in Westmoreland and the North Riding.

It is scarcely necessary to say anything about the censuses of
the Netherlands, as Mr Sadler himself confesses that there is some
difficulty in reconciling them with his theory, and helps out his
awkward explanation by supposing, quite gratuitously, as it seems to us,
that the official documents are inaccurate. The argument which he has
drawn from the United States will detain us but for a very short time.
He has not told us,--perhaps he had not the means of telling us,--what
proportion the number of births in the different parts of that country
bears to the number of marriages. He shows that in the thinly peopled
states the number of children bears a greater proportion to the number
of grown-up people than in the old states; and this, he conceives, is a
sufficient proof that the condensation of the population is unfavourable
to fecundity. We deny the inference altogether. Nothing can be more
obvious than the explanation of the phenomenon. The back settlements
are for the most part peopled by emigration from the old states; and
emigrants are almost always breeders. They are almost always vigorous
people in the prime of life. Mr Sadler himself, in another part of
his book, in which he tries very unsuccessfully to show that the
rapid multiplication of the people of America is principally owing to
emigration from Europe, states this fact in the plainest manner:

"Nothing is more certain, than that emigration is almost universally
supplied by 'single persons in the beginning of mature life;' nor,
secondly, that such persons, as Dr Franklin long ago asserted, 'marry
and raise families.'

"Nor is this all. It is not more true, that emigrants, generally
speaking, consist of individuals in the prime of life, than that 'they
are the most active and vigorous' of that age, as Dr Seybert describes
them to be. They are, as it respects the principle at issue, a select
class, even compared with that of their own age, generally considered.
Their very object in leaving their native countries is to settle in
life, a phrase that needs no explanation; and they do so. No equal
number of human beings, therefore, have ever given so large or rapid an
increase to a community as 'settlers' have invariably done."

It is perfectly clear that children are more numerous in the back
settlements of America than in the maritime states, not because
unoccupied land makes people prolific, but because the most prolific
people go to the unoccupied land.

Mr Sadler having, as he conceives, fully established his theory of
population by statistical evidence, proceeds to prove, "that it is
in unison, or rather required by the principles of physiology." The
difference between himself and his opponents he states as follows:--

"In pursuing this part of my subject, I must begin by reminding the
reader of the difference between those who hold the superfecundity of
mankind and myself, in regard to those principles which will form the
basis of the present argument. They contend, that production precedes
population; I, on the contrary, maintain that population precedes, and
is indeed the cause of, production. They teach that man breeds up to the
capital, or in proportion to the abundance of the food, he possesses: I
assert, that he is comparatively sterile when he is wealthy, and that
he breeds in proportion to his poverty; not meaning, however, by that
poverty, a state of privation approaching to actual starvation, any more
than, I suppose, they would contend, that extreme and culpable excess
is the grand patron of population. In a word, they hold that a state
of ease and affluence is the great promoter of prolificness. I maintain
that a considerable degree of labour, and even privation, is a more
efficient cause of an increased degree of human fecundity."

To prove this point, he quotes Aristotle, Hippocrates, Dr Short, Dr
Gregory, Dr Perceval, M. Villermi, Lord Bacon, and Rousseau. We will not
dispute about it; for it seems quite clear to us that if he succeeds in
establishing it he overturns his own theory. If men breed in proportion
to their poverty, as he tells us here,--and at the same time breed
in inverse proportion to their numbers, as he told us before,--it
necessarily follows that the poverty of men must be in inverse
proportion to their numbers. Inverse proportion, indeed, as we have
shown, is not the phrase which expresses Mr Sadler's meaning. To
speak more correctly, it follows, from his own positions, that, if one
population be thinner than another, it will also be poorer. Is this the
fact? Mr Sadler tells us, in one of those tables which we have already
quoted, that in the United States the population is four to a square
mile, and the fecundity 5.22 to a marriage, and that in Russia the
population is twenty-three to a square mile, and the fecundity 4.94 to
a marriage. Is the North American labourer poorer than the Russian boor?
If not, what becomes of Mr Sadler's argument?

The most decisive proof of Mr Sadler's theory, according to him, is that
which he has kept for the last. It is derived from the registers of the
English Peerage. The peers, he says, and says truly, are the class with
respect to whom we possess the most accurate statistical information.

"Touching their NUMBER, this has been accurately known and recorded ever
since the order has existed in the country. For several centuries past,
the addition to it of a single individual has been a matter of public
interest and notoriety: this hereditary honour conferring not personal
dignity merely, but important privileges, and being almost always
identified with great wealth and influence. The records relating to
it are kept with the most scrupulous attention, not only by heirs and
expectants, but they are appealed to by more distant connections, as
conferring distinction on all who can claim such affinity. Hence there
are few disputes concerning successions to this rank, but such as go
back to very remote periods. In later times, the marriages, births, and
deaths, of the nobility, have not only been registered by and known to
those personally interested, but have been published periodically, and,
consequently, subject to perpetual correction and revision; while many
of the most powerful motives which can influence the human mind conspire
to preserve these records from the slightest falsification. Compared
with these, therefore, all other registers, or reports, whether of sworn
searchers or others, are incorrectness itself."

Mr Sadler goes on to tell us that the peers are a marrying class, and
that their general longevity proves them to be a healthy class. Still
peerages often become extinct;--and from this fact he infers that they
are a sterile class. So far, says he, from increasing in geometrical
progression, they do not even keep up their numbers. "Nature interdicts
their increase."

"Thus," says he, "in all ages of the world, and in every nation of it,
have the highest ranks of the community been the most sterile, and
the lowest the most prolific. As it respects our own country, from the
lowest grade of society, the Irish peasant, to the highest, the British
peer, this remains a conspicuous truth; and the regulation of the degree
of fecundity conformably to this principle, through the intermediate
gradations of society, constitutes one of the features of the system
developed in these pages."

We take the issue which Mr Sadler has himself offered. We agree with
him, that the registers of the English Peerage are of far higher
authority than any other statistical documents. We are content that
by those registers his principle should be judged. And we meet him by
positively denying his facts. We assert that the English nobles are not
only not a sterile, but an eminently prolific, part of the community.
Mr Sadler concludes that they are sterile, merely because peerages often
become extinct. Is this the proper way of ascertaining the point? Is
it thus that he avails himself of those registers on the accuracy and
fulness of which he descants so largely? Surely his right course would
have been to count the marriages, and the number of births in the
Peerage. This he has not done;--but we have done it. And what is the
result?

It appears from the last edition of Debrett's "Peerage", published in
1828, that there were at that time 287 peers of the United Kingdom,
who had been married once or oftener. The whole number of marriages
contracted by these 287 peers was 333. The number of children by these
marriages was 1437,--more than five to a peer,--more than 4.3 to a
marriage,--more, that is to say, than the average number in those
counties of England in which, according to Mr Sadler's own statement,
the fecundity is the greatest.

But this is not all. These marriages had not, in 1828, produced their
full effect. Some of them had been very lately contracted. In a very
large proportion of them there was every probability of additional
issue. To allow for this probability, we may safely add one to the
average which we have already obtained, and rate the fecundity of a
noble marriage in England at 5.3;--higher than the fecundity which Mr
Sadler assigns to the people of the United States. Even if we do not
make this allowance, the average fecundity of marriages of peers is
higher by one-fifth than the average fecundity of marriages throughout
the kingdom. And this is the sterile class! This is the class which
"Nature has interdicted from increasing!" The evidence to which Mr
Sadler has himself appealed proves that his principle is false,--utterly
false,--wildly and extravagantly false. It proves that a class, living
during half of every year in the most crowded population in the world,
breeds faster than those who live in the country;--that the class which
enjoys the greatest degree of luxury and ease breeds faster than the
class which undergoes labour and privation. To talk a little in Mr
Sadler's style, we must own that we are ourselves surprised at the
results which our examination of the peerage has brought out. We
certainly should have thought that the habits of fashionable life, and
long residence even in the most airy parts of so great a city as London,
would have been more unfavourable to the fecundity of the higher orders
than they appear to be.

Peerages, it is true, often become extinct. But it is quite clear, from
what we have stated, that this is not because peeresses are barren.
There is no difficulty in discovering what the causes really are. In the
first place, most of the titles of our nobles are limited to heirs male;
so that, though the average fecundity of a noble marriage is upwards
of five, yet, for the purpose of keeping up a peerage, it cannot be
reckoned at much more than two and a half. Secondly, though the peers
are, as Mr Sadler says, a marrying class, the younger sons of peers are
decidedly not a marrying class; so that a peer, though he has at least
as great a chance of having a son as his neighbours, has less chance
than they of having a collateral heir.

We have now disposed, we think, of Mr Sadler's principle of population.
Our readers must, by this time, be pretty well satisfied as to his
qualifications for setting up theories of his own. We will, therefore,
present them with a few instances of the skill and fairness which he
shows when he undertakes to pull down the theories of other men. The
doctrine of Mr Malthus, that population, if not checked by want,
by vice, by excessive mortality, or by the prudent self-denial of
individuals, would increase in a geometric progression, is, in Mr
Sadler's opinion, at once false and atrocious.

"It may at once be denied," says he, "that human increase proceeds
geometrically; and for this simple but decisive reason, that the
existence of a geometrical ratio of increase in the works of nature
is neither true nor possible. It would fling into utter confusion all
order, time, magnitude, and space."

This is as curious a specimen of reasoning as any that has been offered
to the world since the days when theories were founded on the principle
that nature abhors a vacuum. We proceed a few pages further, however;
and we then find that geometric progression is unnatural only in those
cases in which Mr Malthus conceives that it exists; and that, in all
cases in which Mr Malthus denies the existence of a geometric ratio,
nature changes sides, and adopts that ratio as the rule of increase.

Mr Malthus holds that subsistence will increase only in an arithmetical
ratio. "As far as nature has to do with the question," says Mr Sadler,
"men might, for instance, plant twice the number of peas, and breed
from a double number of the same animals, with equal prospect of their
multiplication." Now, if Mr Sadler thinks that, as far as nature is
concerned, four sheep will double as fast as two, and eight as fast as
four, how can he deny that the geometrical ratio of increase does
exist in the works of nature? Or has he a definition of his own for
geometrical progression, as well as for inverse proportion?

Mr Malthus, and those who agree with him, have generally referred to
the United States, as a country in which the human race increases in a
geometrical ratio, and have fixed on thirty-five years as the term in
which the population of that country doubles itself. Mr Sadler contends
that it is physically impossible for a people to double in twenty-five
years; nay, that thirty-five years is far too short a period,--that
the Americans do not double by procreation in less than forty-seven
years,--and that the rapid increase of their numbers is produced by
emigration from Europe.

Emigration has certainly had some effect in increasing the population of
the United States. But so great has the rate of that increase been that,
after making full allowance for the effect of emigration, there will be
a residue, attributable to procreation alone, amply sufficient to double
the population in twenty-five years.

Mr Sadler states the results of the four censuses as follows:--

"There were, of white inhabitants, in the whole of the United States in
1790, 3,093,111; in 1800, 4,309,656; in 1810, 5,862,093; and in 1820,
7,861,710. The increase, in the first term, being 39 per cent.; that in
the second, 36 per cent.; and that in the third and last, 33 per cent.
It is superfluous to say, that it is utterly impossible to deduce
the geometric theory of human increase, whatever be the period of
duplication, from such terms as these."

Mr Sadler is a bad arithmetician. The increase in the last term is
not as he states it, 33 per cent., but more than 34 per cent. Now, an
increase of 32 per cent. in ten years, is more than sufficient to double
the population in twenty-five years. And there is, we think, very strong
reason to believe that the white population of the United States does
increase by 32 per cent. every ten years.

Our reason is this. There is in the United States a class of persons
whose numbers are not increased by emigration,--the negro slaves. During
the interval which elapsed between the census of 1810 and the census
of 1820, the change in their numbers must have been produced by
procreation, and by procreation alone. Their situation, though much
happier than that of the wretched beings who cultivate the sugar
plantations of Trinidad and Demerara, cannot be supposed to be more
favourable to health and fecundity than that of free labourers. In
1810, the slave-trade had been but recently abolished; and there were
in consequence many more male than female slaves,--a circumstance, of
course, very unfavourable to procreation. Slaves are perpetually passing
into the class of freemen; but no freeman ever descends into servitude;
so that the census will not exhibit the whole effect of the procreation
which really takes place.

We find, by the census of 1810, that the number of slaves in the Union
was then 1,191,000. In 1820, they had increased to 1,538,000. That is
to say, in ten years, they had increased 29 per cent.--within three
per cent. of that rate of increase which would double their numbers
in twenty-five years. We may, we think, fairly calculate that, if the
female slaves had been as numerous as the males, and if no manumissions
had taken place, the census of the slave population would have exhibited
an increase of 32 per cent. in ten years.

If we are right in fixing on 32 per cent. as the rate at which the white
population of America increases by procreation in ten years, it will
follow that, during the last ten years of the eighteenth century, nearly
one-sixth of the increase was the effect of emigration; from 1800 to
1810, about one-ninth; and from 1810 to 1820, about one-seventeenth.
This is what we should have expected; for it is clear that, unless the
number of emigrants be constantly increasing, it must, as compared with
the resident population, be relatively decreasing. The number of persons
added to the population of the United States by emigration, between 1810
and 1820, would be nearly 120,000. From the data furnished by Mr Sadler
himself, we should be inclined to think that this would be a fair
estimate.

"Dr Seybert says, that the passengers to ten of the principal ports of
the United States, in the year 1817, amounted to 22,235; of whom 11,977
were from Great Britain and Ireland; 4164 from Germany and Holland; 1245
from France; 58 from Italy, 2901 from the British possessions in North
America; 1569 from the West Indies; and from all other countries, 321.
These, however, we may conclude, with the editor of Styles's Register,
were far short of the number that arrived."

We have not the honour of knowing either Dr Seybert or the editor of
Styles's Register. We cannot, therefore, decide on their respective
claims to our confidence so peremptorily as Mr Sadler thinks fit to do.
Nor can we agree to what Mr Sadler very gravely assigns as a reason for
disbelieving Dr Seyberts's testimony. "Such accounts," he says, "if not
wilfully exaggerated, must always fall short of the truth." It would be
a curious question of casuistry to determine what a man ought to do in a
case in which he cannot tell the truth except by being guilty of
wilful exaggeration. We will, however, suppose, with Mr Sadler, that Dr
Seybert, finding himself compelled to choose between two sins, preferred
telling a falsehood to exaggerating; and that he has consequently
underrated the number of emigrants. We will take it at double of the
Doctor's estimate, and suppose that, in 1817, 45,000 Europeans crossed
to the United States. Now, it must be remembered that the year 1817 was
a year of the severest and most general distress all over Europe,--a
year of scarcity everywhere, and of cruel famine in some places. There
can, therefore, be no doubt that the emigration of 1817 was very far
above the average, probably more than three times that of an ordinary
year. Till the year 1815, the war rendered it almost impossible to
emigrate to the United States either from England or from the Continent.
If we suppose the average emigration of the remaining years to have been
16,000, we shall probably not be much mistaken. In 1818 and 1819,
the number was certainly much beyond that average; in 1815 and 1816,
probably much below it. But, even if we were to suppose that, in every
year from the peace to 1820, the number of emigrants had been as high as
we have supposed it to be in 1817, the increase by procreation among the
white inhabitants of the United States would still appear to be about 30
per cent. in ten years.

Mr Sadler acknowledges that Cobbett exaggerates the number of emigrants
when he states it at 150,000 a year. Yet even this estimate, absurdly
great as it is, would not be sufficient to explain the increase of the
population of the United States on Mr Sadler's principles. He is, he
tells us, "convinced that doubling in 35 years is a far more rapid
duplication than ever has taken place in that country from procreation
only." An increase of 20 per cent. in ten years, by procreation, would
therefore be the very utmost that he would allow to be possible. We have
already shown, by reference to the census of the slave population, that
this doctrine is quite absurd. And, if we suppose it to be sound, we
shall be driven to the conclusion that above eight hundred thousand
people emigrated from Europe to the United States in a space of little
more than five years. The whole increase of the white population from
1810 to 1820 was within a few hundreds of 2,000,000. If we are to
attribute to procreation only 20 per cent. on the number returned by the
census of 1810, we shall have about 830,000 persons to account for in
some other way;--and to suppose that the emigrants who went to America
between the peace of 1815 and the census of 1820, with the children who
were born to them there, would make up that number, would be the height
of absurdity.

We could say much more; but we think it quite unnecessary at present. We
have shown that Mr Sadler is careless in the collection of facts,--that
he is incapable of reasoning on facts when he has collected them,--that
he does not understand the simplest terms of science,--that he has
enounced a proposition of which he does not know the meaning,--that
the proposition which he means to enounce, and which he tries to prove,
leads directly to all those consequences which he represents as impious
and immoral,--and that, from the very documents to which he has himself
appealed, it may be demonstrated that his theory is false. We may,
perhaps, resume the subject when his next volume appears. Meanwhile, we
hope that he will delay its publication until he has learned a little
arithmetic, and unlearned a great deal of eloquence.

*****



SADLER'S REFUTATION REFUTED. (January 1831.)

     "A Refutation of an Article in the Edinburgh Review (No.
     CII.) entitled, 'Sadler's Law of Population, and disproof of
     Human Superfecundity;' containing also Additional Proofs of
     the Principle enunciated in that Treatise, founded on the
     Censuses of different Countries recently published."  By
     Michael Thomas Sadler, M.P.  8vo.  London:  1830.

"Before anything came out against my Essay, I was told I must prepare
myself for a storm coming against it, it being resolved by some men
that it was necessary that book of mine should, as it is phrased, be run
down."--John Locke.

We have, in violation of our usual practice, transcribed Mr Sadler's
title-page from top to bottom, motto and all. The parallel implied
between the Essay on the Human Understanding and the Essay on
Superfecundity is exquisitely laughable. We can match it, however, with
mottoes as ludicrous. We remember to have heard of a dramatic piece,
entitled "News from Camperdown," written soon after Lord Duncan's
victory, by a man once as much in his own good graces as Mr Sadler is,
and now as much forgotten as Mr Sadler will soon be, Robert Heron. His
piece was brought upon the stage, and damned, "as it is phrased," in
the second act; but the author, thinking that it had been unfairly and
unjustly "run down," published it, in order to put his critics to shame,
with this motto from Swift: "When a true genius appears in the world,
you may know him by this mark--that the dunces are all in confederacy
against him." We remember another anecdote, which may perhaps be
acceptable to so zealous a churchman as Mr Sadler. A certain Antinomian
preacher, the oracle of a barn, in a county of which we do not think it
proper to mention the name, finding that divinity was not by itself a
sufficiently lucrative profession, resolved to combine with it that of
dog-stealing. He was, by ill-fortune, detected in several offences of
this description, and was in consequence brought before two justices,
who, in virtue of the powers given them by an act of parliament,
sentenced him to a whipping for each theft. The degrading punishment
inflicted on the pastor naturally thinned the flock; and the poor man
was in danger of wanting bread. He accordingly put forth a handbill
solemnly protesting his innocence, describing his sufferings, and
appealing to the Christian charity of the public; and to his pathetic
address he prefixed this most appropriate text: "Thrice was I beaten
with rods.--St Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians." He did not perceive
that, though St Paul had been scourged, no number of whippings, however
severe, will of themselves entitle a man to be considered as an apostle.
Mr Sadler seems to us to have fallen into a somewhat similar error. He
should remember that, though Locke may have been laughed at, so has Sir
Claudius Hunter; and that it takes something more than the laughter of
all the world to make a Locke.

The body of this pamphlet by no means justifies the parallel so modestly
insinuated on the title-page. Yet we must own that, though Mr Sadler
has not risen to the level of Locke, he has done what was almost as
difficult, if not as honourable--he has fallen below his own. He is at
best a bad writer. His arrangement is an elaborate confusion. His style
has been constructed, with great care, in such a manner as to produce
the least possible effect by means of the greatest possible number of
words. Aspiring to the exalted character of a Christian philosopher, he
can never preserve through a single paragraph either the calmness of a
philosopher or the meekness of a Christian. His ill-nature would make a
very little wit formidable. But, happily, his efforts to wound resemble
those of a juggler's snake. The bags of poison are full, but the fang is
wanting. In this foolish pamphlet, all the unpleasant peculiarities of
his style and temper are brought out in the strongest manner. He is from
the beginning to the end in a paroxysm of rage, and would certainly do
us some mischief if he knew how. We will give a single instance for the
present. Others will present themselves as we proceed. We laughed at
some doggerel verses which he cited, and which we, never having seen
them before, suspected to be his own. We are now sure that if the
principle on which Solomon decided a famous case of filiation were
correct, there can be no doubt as to the justice of our suspicion. Mr
Sadler, who, whatever elements of the poetical character he may lack,
possesses the poetical irritability in an abundance which might have
sufficed for Homer himself, resolved to retaliate on the person, who,
as he supposed, had reviewed him. He has, accordingly, ransacked
some collection of college verses, in the hope of finding, among the
performances of his supposed antagonist, something as bad as his own.
And we must in fairness admit that he has succeeded pretty well. We must
admit that the gentleman in question sometimes put into his exercises,
at seventeen, almost as great nonsense as Mr Sadler is in the habit of
putting into his books at sixty.

Mr Sadler complains that we have devoted whole pages to mere abuse of
him. We deny the charge. We have, indeed, characterised, in terms of
just reprehension, that spirit which shows itself in every part of his
prolix work. Those terms of reprehension we are by no means inclined
to retract; and we conceive that we might have used much stronger
expressions, without the least offence either to truth or to decorum.
There is a limit prescribed to us by our sense of what is due to
ourselves. But we think that no indulgence is due to Mr Sadler. A writer
who distinctly announces that he has not conformed to the candour of the
age--who makes it his boast that he expresses himself throughout with
the greatest plainness and freedom--and whose constant practice proves
that by plainness and freedom he means coarseness and rancour--has
no right to expect that others shall remember courtesies which he has
forgotten, or shall respect one who has ceased to respect himself.

Mr Sadler declares that he has never vilified Mr Malthus personally,
and has confined himself to attacking the doctrines which that gentleman
maintains. We should wish to leave that point to the decision of all
who have read Mr Sadler's book, or any twenty pages of it. To quote
particular instances of a temper which penetrates and inspires the whole
work, is to weaken our charge. Yet, that we may not be suspected of
flinching, we will give two specimens,--the two first which occur to our
recollection. "Whose minister is it that speaks thus?" says Mr Sadler,
after misrepresenting in a most extraordinary manner, though, we are
willing to believe, unintentionally, one of the positions of Mr Malthus.
"Whose minister is it that speaks thus? That of the lover and avenger of
little children?" Again, Mr Malthus recommends, erroneously perhaps, but
assuredly from humane motives, that alms, when given, should be given
very sparingly. Mr Sadler quotes the recommendation, and adds the
following courteous comment:--"The tender mercies of the wicked are
cruel." We cannot think that a writer who indulges in these indecent and
unjust attacks on professional and personal character has any right to
complain of our sarcasms on his metaphors and rhymes.

We will now proceed to examine the reply which Mr Sadler has thought
fit to make to our arguments. He begins by attacking our remarks on the
origin of evil. They are, says he, too profound for common apprehension;
and he hopes that they are too profound for our own. That they seem
profound to him we can well believe. Profundity, in its secondary as in
its primary sense, is a relative term. When Grildrig was nearly drowned
in the Brobdingnagian cream-jug he doubtless thought it very deep. But
to common apprehension our reasoning would, we are persuaded, appear
perfectly simple.

The theory of Mr Malthus, says Mr Sadler, cannot be true, because it
asserts the existence of a great and terrible evil, and is therefore
inconsistent with the goodness of God. We answer thus. We know that
there are in the world great and terrible evils. In spite of these
evils, we believe in the goodness of God. Why may we not then continue
to believe in his goodness, though another evil should be added to the
list?

How does Mr Sadler answer this? Merely by telling us, that we are too
wicked to be reasoned with. He completely shrinks from the question; a
question, be it remembered, not raised by us--a question which we should
have felt strong objections to raising unnecessarily--a question put
forward by himself, as intimately connected with the subject of his
two ponderous volumes. He attempts to carp at detached parts of our
reasoning on the subject. With what success he carries on this guerilla
war after declining a general action with the main body of our argument
our readers shall see.

"The Reviewer sends me to Paley, who is, I confess, rather more
intelligible on the subject, and who, fortunately, has decided the very
point in dispute. I will first give the words of the Reviewer, who, when
speaking of my general argument regarding the magnitude of the evils,
moral and physical, implied in the theory I oppose, sums up his ideas
thus:--'Mr Sadler says, that it is not a light or transient evil, but a
great and permanent evil. What then? The question of the origin of evil
is a question of aye or no,--not a question of MORE or LESS.' But what
says Paley? His express rule is this, that 'when we cannot resolve all
appearances into benevolence of design, we make the FEW give place to
the MANY, the LITTLE to the GREAT; that we take our judgment from a
large and decided preponderancy.' Now in weighing these two authorities,
directly at issue on this point, I think there will be little trouble
in determining which we shall make 'to give place;' or, if we 'look to
a large and decided preponderancy' of either talent, learning, or
benevolence, from whom we shall 'take our judgment.' The effrontery, or,
to speak more charitably, the ignorance of a reference to Paley on this
subject, and in this instance, is really marvellous."

Now, does not Mr Sadler see that the very words which he quotes from
Paley contain in themselves a refutation of his whole argument? Paley
says, indeed, as every man in his senses would say, that in a certain
case, which he has specified, the more and the less come into question.
But in what case? "When we CANNOT resolve all appearances into the
benevolence of design." It is better that there should be a little
evil than a great deal of evil. This is self-evident. But it is also
self-evident, that no evil is better than a little evil. Why, then, is
there any evil? It is a mystery which we cannot solve. It is a mystery
which Paley, by the very words which Mr Sadler has quoted, acknowledges
himself unable to solve; and it is because he cannot solve that mystery
that he proceeds to take into consideration the more and the less.
Believing in the divine goodness, we must necessarily believe that the
evils which exist are necessary to avert greater evils. But what those
greater evils are, we do not know. How the happiness of any part of the
sentient creation would be in any respect diminished if, for example,
children cut their teeth without pain, we cannot understand. The case
is exactly the same with the principle of Mr Malthus. If superfecundity
exists, it exists, no doubt, because it is a less evil than some other
evil which otherwise would exist. Can Mr Sadler prove that this is an
impossibility?

One single expression which Mr Sadler employs on this subject is
sufficient to show how utterly incompetent he is to discuss it. "On the
Christian hypothesis," says he, "no doubt exists as to the origin of
evil." He does not, we think, understand what is meant by the origin
of evil. The Christian Scriptures profess to give no solution of that
mystery. They relate facts: but they leave the metaphysical question
undetermined. They tell us that man fell; but why he was not so
constituted as to be incapable of falling, or why the Supreme Being has
not mitigated the consequences of the Fall more than they actually have
been mitigated, the Scriptures did not tell us, and, it may without
presumption be said, could not tell us, unless we had been creatures
different from what we are. There is something, either in the nature of
our faculties or in the nature of the machinery employed by us for the
purpose of reasoning, which condemns us, on this and similar subjects,
to hopeless ignorance. Man can understand these high matters only by
ceasing to be man, just as a fly can understand a lemma of Newton only
by ceasing to be a fly. To make it an objection to the Christian system
that it gives us no solution of these difficulties, is to make it an
objection to the Christian system that it is a system formed for human
beings. Of the puzzles of the Academy, there is not one which does not
apply as strongly to Deism as to Christianity, and to Atheism as to
Deism. There are difficulties in everything. Yet we are sure that
something must be true.

If revelation speaks on the subject of the origin of evil it speaks
only to discourage dogmatism and temerity. In the most ancient, the most
beautiful, and the most profound of all works on the subject, the Book
of Job, both the sufferer who complains of the divine government, and
the injudicious advisers who attempt to defend it on wrong principles,
are silenced by the voice of supreme wisdom, and reminded that the
question is beyond the reach of the human intellect. St Paul silences
the supposed objector, who strives to force him into controversy, in
the same manner. The church has been, ever since the apostolic times,
agitated by this question, and by a question which is inseparable from
it, the question of fate and free-will. The greatest theologians and
philosophers have acknowledged that these things were too high for them,
and have contended themselves with hinting at what seemed to be the most
probable solution. What says Johnson? "All our effort ends in belief
that for the evils of life there is some good reason, and in confession
that the reason cannot be found." What says Paley? "Of the origin of
evil no universal solution has been discovered. I mean no solution which
reaches to all cases of complaint.--The consideration of general laws,
although it may concern the question of the origin of evil very nearly,
which I think it does, rests in views disproportionate to our faculties,
and in a knowledge which we do not possess. It serves rather to account
for the obscurity of the subject, than to supply us with distinct
answers to our difficulties." What says presumptuous ignorance? "No
doubt whatever exists as to the origin of evil." It is remarkable that
Mr Sadler does not tell us what his solution is. The world, we suspect,
will lose little by his silence.

He falls on the reviewer again.

"Though I have shown," says he, "and on authorities from which none can
lightly differ, not only the cruelty and immorality which this system
necessarily involves, but its most revolting feature, its gross
partiality, he has wholly suppressed this, the most important part of my
argument; as even the bare notice of it would have instantly exposed
the sophistry to which he has had recourse. If, however, he would fairly
meet the whole question, let him show me that 'hydrophobia,' which he
gives as an example of the laws of God and nature, is a calamity to
which the poor alone are liable; or that 'malaria,' which, with singular
infelicity, he has chosen as an illustration of the fancied evils of
population, is a respecter of persons."

We said nothing about this argument, as Mr Sadler calls it, merely
because we did not think it worth while: and we are half ashamed to say
anything about it now. But, since Mr Sadler is so urgent for an answer,
he shall have one. If there is evil, it must be either partial or
universal. Which is the better of the two? Hydrophobia, says this great
philosopher, is no argument against the divine goodness, because mad
dogs bite rich and poor alike; but if the rich were exempted, and
only nine people suffered for ten who suffer now, hydrophobia would
forthwith, simply because it would produce less evil than at present,
become an argument against the divine goodness! To state such a
proposition, is to refute it. And is not the malaria a respecter of
persons? It infests Rome. Does it infest London? There are complaints
peculiar to the tropical countries. There are others which are found
only in mountainous districts; others which are confined to marshy
regions; others again which run in particular families. Is not this
partiality? Why is it more inconsistent with the divine goodness that
poor men should suffer an evil from which rich men are exempt, than that
a particular portion of the community should inherit gout, scrofula,
insanity, and other maladies? And are there no miseries under which, in
fact, the poor alone are suffering? Mr Sadler himself acknowledges, in
this very paragraph, that there are such; but he tells us that these
calamities are the effects of misgovernment, and that this misgovernment
is the effect of political economy. Be it so. But does he not see that
he is only removing the difficulty one step further? Why does Providence
suffer men, whose minds are filled with false and pernicious notions, to
have power in the state? For good ends, we doubt not, if the fact be so;
but for ends inscrutable to us, who see only a small part of the vast
scheme, and who see that small part only for a short period. Does Mr
Sadler doubt that the Supreme Being has power as absolute over the
revolutions of political as over the organisation of natural bodies?
Surely not: and, if not, we do not see that he vindicates the ways
of Providence by attributing the distresses, which the poor, as he
confesses, endure, to an error in legislation rather than to a law of
physiology. Turn the question as we may, disguise it as we may, we shall
find that it at last resolves itself into the same great enigma,--the
origin of physical and moral evil: an enigma which the highest human
intellects have given up in despair, but which Mr Sadler thinks himself
perfectly able to solve.

He next accuses us of having paused long on verbal criticism. We
certainly did object to his improper use of the words "inverse
variation." Mr Sadler complains of this with his usual bitterness.

"Now what is the Reviewer's quarrel with me on this occasion? That he
does not understand the meaning of my terms? No. He acknowledges the
contrary. That I have not fully explained the sense in which I have used
them? No. An explanation, he knows, is immediately subjoined, though
he has carefully suppressed it. That I have varied the sense in which I
have applied them? No. I challenge him to show it. But he nevertheless
goes on for many pages together in arguing against what he knows, and,
in fact, acknowledges, I did not mean; and then turns round and argues
again, though much more feebly, indeed, against what he says I did mean!
Now, even had I been in error as to the use of a word, I appeal to the
reader whether such an unworthy and disingenuous course would not, if
generally pursued, make controversy on all subjects, however important,
that into which, in such hands, it always degenerates--a dispute about
words."

The best way to avoid controversies about words is to use words in their
proper senses. Mr Sadler may think our objection captious; but how
he can think it disingenuous we do not well understand. If we had
represented him as meaning what we knew that he did not mean, we should
have acted in a disgraceful manner. But we did not represent him, and he
allows that we did not represent him, as meaning what he did not mean.
We blamed him, and with perfect justice and propriety, for saying what
he did not mean. Every man has in one sense a right to define his own
terms; that is to say, if he chooses to call one two, and two seven,
it would be absurd to charge him with false arithmetic for saying that
seven is the double of one. But it would be perfectly fair to blame
him for changing the established sense of words. The words, "inverse
variation," in matters not purely scientific, have often been used
in the loose way in which Mr Sadler has used them. But we shall be
surprised if he can find a single instance of their having been so used
in a matter of pure arithmetic.

We will illustrate our meaning thus. Lord Thurlow, in one of his
speeches about Indian affairs, said that one Hastings was worth twenty
Macartneys. He might, with equal propriety, have said ten Macartneys, or
a hundred Macartneys. Nor would there have been the least inconsistency
in his using all the three expressions in one speech. But would this be
an excuse for a financier who, in a matter of account, should reason as
if ten, twenty, and a hundred were the same number?

Mr Sadler tells us that he purposely avoided the use of the word
proportion in stating his principle. He seems, therefore, to allow that
the word proportion would have been improper. Yet he did in fact employ
it in explaining his principle, accompanied with an awkward explanation
intended to signify that, though he said proportion, he meant something
quite different from proportion. We should not have said so much on this
subject either in our former article, or at present, but that there is
in all Mr Sadler's writings an air of scientific pedantry, which renders
his errors fair game. We will now let the matter rest; and, instead
of assailing Mr Sadler with our verbal criticism, proceed to defend
ourselves against his literal criticism.

"The Reviewer promised his readers that some curious results should
follow from his shuffling. We will enable him to keep his word.

"'In two English counties,' says he, 'which contain from 50 to 100
inhabitants on the square mile, the births to 100 marriages are,
according to Mr Sadler, 420; but in 44 departments of France, in which
there are from one to two hecatares [hectares] to each inhabitant, that
is to say, in which the population is from 125 to 250, or rather more,
to the square mile, the number of births to one hundred marriages is 423
and a fraction.'

"The first curious result is, that our Reviewer is ignorant, not only of
the name, but of the extent, of a French hectare; otherwise he is guilty
of a practice which, even if transferred to the gambling-table, would,
I presume, prevent him from being allowed ever to shuffle, even there,
again. He was most ready to pronounce upon a mistake of one per cent. in
a calculation of mine, the difference in no wise affecting the argument
in hand; but here I must inform him, that his error, whether wilfully or
ignorantly put forth, involves his entire argument.

"The French hectare I had calculated to contain 107,708 67/100 English
square feet, or 2 47265/100000 acres; Dr Kelly takes it, on authority
which he gives, at 107,644 143923/1000000 English square feet, or 2
471169/1000000 acres. The last French "Annuaires", however, state it,
I perceive, as being equal to 2 473614/1000000 acres. The difference is
very trifling, and will not in the slightest degree cover our critic's
error. The first calculation gives about 258 83/100 hectares to an
English square mile; the second, 258 73/100; the last, or French
calculation 258 98/100. When, therefore, the Reviewer calculates the
population of the departments of France thus: 'from one to two hectares
to each inhabitant, that is to say, in which the population is from 125
to 250, or rather more, to the square mile; his 'that is to say,' is
that which he ought not to have said--no rare case with him, as we shall
show throughout."

We must inform Mr Sadler, in the first place, that we inserted the vowel
which amuses him so much, not from ignorance or from carelessness, but
advisedly, and in conformity with the practice of several respectable
writers. He will find the word hecatare in Ree's Cyclopaedia. He will
find it also in Dr Young. We prefer the form which we have employed,
because it is etymologically correct. Mr Sadler seems not to know that a
hecatare is so-called, because it contains a hundred ares.

We were perfectly acquainted with the extent as well as with the name of
a hecatare. Is it at all strange that we should use the words "250,
or rather more," in speaking of 258 and a fraction? Do not people
constantly employ round numbers with still greater looseness, in
translating foreign distances and foreign money? If indeed, as Mr Sadler
says, the difference which he chooses to call an error involved the
entire argument, or any part of the argument, we should have been guilty
of gross unfairness. But it is not so. The difference between 258 and
250, as even Mr Sadler would see if he were not blind with fury, was
a difference to his advantage. Our point was this. The fecundity of a
dense population in certain departments of France is greater than that
of a thinly scattered population in certain counties of England. The
more dense, therefore, the population in those departments of
France, the stronger was our case. By putting 250, instead of 258, we
understated our case. Mr Sadler's correction of our orthography leads us
to suspect that he knows very little of Greek; and his correction of our
calculation quite satisfies us that he knows very little of logic.

But, to come to the gist of the controversy. Our argument, drawn from
Mr Sadler's own tables, remains absolutely untouched. He makes excuses
indeed; for an excuse is the last thing that Mr Sadler will ever want.
There is something half laughable and half provoking in the facility
with which he asserts and retracts, says and unsays, exactly as suits
his argument. Sometimes the register of baptisms is imperfect, and
sometimes the register of burials. Then again these registers become all
at once exact almost to an unit. He brings forward a census of Prussia
in proof of his theory. We show that it directly confutes his theory;
and it forthwith becomes "notoriously and grossly defective." The census
of the Netherlands is not to be easily dealt with; and the census of the
Netherlands is therefore pronounced inaccurate. In his book on the Law
of Population, he tells us that "in the slave-holding States of America,
the male slaves constitute a decided majority of that unfortunate
class." This fact we turned against him; and, forgetting that he had
himself stated it, he tells us that "it is as erroneous as many other
ideas which we entertain," and that "he will venture to assert that the
female slaves were, at the nubile age, as numerous as the males." The
increase of the negroes in the United States puzzles him; and he creates
a vast slave-trade to solve it. He confounds together things perfectly
different; the slave-trade carried on under the American flag, and
the slave-trade carried on for the supply of the American soil,--the
slave-trade with Africa, and the internal slave-trade between the
different States. He exaggerates a few occasional acts of smuggling into
an immense and regular importation, and makes his escape as well as he
can under cover of this hubbub of words. Documents are authentic and
facts true precisely in proportion to the support which they afford
to his theory. This is one way, undoubtedly, of making books; but we
question much whether it be the way to make discoveries.

As to the inconsistencies which we pointed out between his theory and
his own tables, he finds no difficulty in explaining them away or facing
them out. In one case there would have been no contradiction if, instead
of taking one of his tables, we had multiplied the number of three
tables together, and taken the average. Another would never have existed
if there had not been a great migration of people into Lancashire.
Another is not to be got over by any device. But then it is very small,
and of no consequence to the argument.

Here, indeed, he is perhaps right. The inconsistencies which we noticed,
were, in themselves, of little moment. We give them as samples,--as
mere hints, to caution those of our readers who might also happen to be
readers of Mr Sadler against being deceived by his packing. He complains
of the word packing. We repeat it; and, since he has defied us to the
proof, we will go fully into the question which, in our last article, we
only glanced at, and prove, in such a manner as shall not leave even to
Mr Sadler any shadow of excuse, that his theory owes its speciousness to
packing, and to packing alone.

That our readers may fully understand our reasoning, we will again state
what Mr Sadler's proposition is. He asserts that, on a given space, the
number of children to a marriage becomes less and less as the population
becomes more and more numerous.

We will begin with the census of France given by Mr Sadler. By joining
the departments together in combinations which suit his purpose, he has
contrived to produce three tables, which he presents as decisive proofs
of his theory.

The first is as follows:--

"The legitimate births are, in those departments where there are to each
inhabitant--

     Hectares       Departments   To every 1000 marriages

     4    to 5           2               130
     3    to 4           3              4372
     2    to 3          30              4250
     1    to 2          44              4234
      .06 to 1           5              4146
      .06                1              2657

The two other computations he has given in one table. We subjoin it.

     Hect. to each  Number of    Legit. Births to   Legit. Births to
     Inhabitant     Departments   100 Marriages      100 Mar. (1826)

     4 to 5             2              497                397
     3 to 4             3              439                389
     2 to 3            30              424                379
     1 to 2            44              420                375
     under 1            5              415                372
     and .06            1              263                253

These tables, as we said in our former article, certainly look well
for Mr Sadler's theory. "Do they?" says he. "Assuredly they do; and in
admitting this, the Reviewer has admitted the theory to be proved." We
cannot absolutely agree to this. A theory is not proved, we must tell
Mr Sadler, merely because the evidence in its favour looks well at first
sight. There is an old proverb, very homely in expression, but well
deserving to be had in constant remembrance by all men, engaged either
in action or in speculation--"One story is good till another is told!"

We affirm, then, that the results which these tables present, and which
seem so favourable to Mr Sadler's theory, are produced by packing, and
by packing alone.

In the first place, if we look at the departments singly, the whole is
in disorder. About the department in which Paris is situated there is
no dispute: Mr Malthus distinctly admits that great cities prevent
propagation. There remain eighty-four departments; and of these there
is not, we believe, a single one in the place which, according to Mr
Sadler's principle, it ought to occupy.

That which ought to be highest in fecundity is tenth in one table,
fourteenth in another, and only thirty-first according to the third.
That which ought to be third is twenty-second by the table, which places
it highest. That which ought to be fourth is fortieth by the table,
which places it highest. That which ought to be eighth is fiftieth or
sixtieth. That which ought to be tenth from the top is at about the same
distance from the bottom. On the other hand, that which, according to Mr
Sadler's principle, ought to be last but two of all the eighty-four is
third in two of the tables, and seventh in that which places it lowest;
and that which ought to be last is, in one of Mr Sadler's tables, above
that which ought to be first, in two of them, above that which ought to
be third, and, in all of them, above that which ought to be fourth.

By dividing the departments in a particular manner, Mr Sadler has
produced results which he contemplates with great satisfaction. But, if
we draw the lines a little higher up or a little lower down, we shall
find that all his calculations are thrown into utter confusion; and
that the phenomena, if they indicate anything, indicate a law the very
reverse of that which he has propounded.

Let us take, for example, the thirty-two departments, as they stand in
Mr Sadler's table, from Lozere to Meuse inclusive, and divide them into
two sets of sixteen departments each. The set from Lozere and Loiret
inclusive consists of those departments in which the space to each
inhabitant is from 3.8 hecatares to 2.42. The set from Cantal to Meuse
inclusive consists of those departments in which the space to each
inhabitant is from 2.42 hecatares to 2.07. That is to say, in the
former set the inhabitants are from 68 to 107 on the square mile, or
thereabouts. In the latter they are from 107 to 125. Therefore, on Mr
Sadler's principle, the fecundity ought to be smaller in the latter set
than in the former. It is, however, greater, and that in every one of Mr
Sadler's three tables.

Let us now go a little lower down, and take another set of sixteen
departments--those which lie together in Mr Sadler's tables, from
Herault to Jura inclusive. Here the population is still thicker than
in the second of those sets which we before compared. The fecundity,
therefore, ought, on Mr Sadler's principle, to be less than in that set.
But it is again greater, and that in all Mr Sadler's three tables. We
have a regularly ascending series, where, if his theory had any truth
in it, we ought to have a regularly descending series. We will give the
results of our calculation.

The number of children to 1000 marriages is--

                                      1st Table  2nd Table  3rd Table

     In the sixteen departments where
     there are from 68 to 107 people
     on a square mile................   4188        4226       3780

     In the sixteen departments where
     there are from 107 to 125 people
     on a square mile................   4374        4332       3855

     In the sixteen departments where
     there are from 134 to 155 people
     on a square mile................   4484        4416       3914

We will give another instance, if possible still more decisive. We
will take the three departments of France which ought, on Mr Sadler's
principle, to be the lowest in fecundity of all the eighty-five, saving
only that in which Paris stands; and we will compare them with the
three departments in which the fecundity ought, according to him, to be
greater than in any other department of France, two only excepted. We
will compare Bas Rhin, Rhone, and Nord, with Lozere, Landes, and Indre.
In Lozere, Landes, and Indre, the population is from 68 to 84 on the
square mile or nearly so. In Bas Rhin, Rhone, and Nord, it is from 300
to 417 on the square mile. There cannot be a more overwhelming answer to
Mr Sadler's theory than the table which we subjoin:

The number of births to 1000 marriages is--

                                      1st Table  2nd Table  3rd Table

     In the three departments in which
     there are from 68 to 84 people
     on the square mile...............  4372        4390       3890

     In the three departments in which
     there are from 300 to 417 people
     on the square mile...............  4457        4510       4060

These are strong cases. But we have a still stronger case. Take the
whole of the third, fourth, and fifth divisions into which Mr Sadler
has portioned out the French departments. These three divisions make up
almost the whole kingdom of France. They contain seventy-nine out of the
eighty-five departments. Mr Sadler has contrived to divide them in
such a manner that, to a person who looks merely at his averages, the
fecundity seems to diminish as the population thickens. We will separate
them into two parts instead of three. We will draw the line between
the department of Gironde and that of Herault. On the one side are the
thirty-two departments from Cher to Gironde inclusive. On the other side
are the forty-six departments from Herault to Nord inclusive. In all the
departments of the former set, the population is under 132 on the square
mile. In all the departments of the latter set, it is above 132 on
the square mile. It is clear that, if there be one word of truth in Mr
Sadler's theory, the fecundity in the latter of these divisions must
be very decidedly smaller than in the former. Is it so? It is, on the
contrary, greater in all the three tables. We give the result.

The number of births to 1000 marriages is--

                                      1st Table  2nd Table  3rd Table

     In the thirty-two departments in
     which there are from 86 to 132
     people on the square mile.......   4210        4199       3760

     In the forty-seven departments in
     which there are from 132 to 417
     people on the square mile........  4250        4224       3766

This fact is alone enough to decide the question. Yet it is only one
of a crowd of similar facts. If the line between Mr Sadler's second and
third division be drawn six departments lower down, the third and fourth
divisions will, in all the tables, be above the second. If the line
between the third and fourth divisions be drawn two departments lower
down, the fourth division will be above the third in all the tables. If
the line between the fourth and fifth division be drawn two departments
lower down, the fifth will, in all the tables, be above the fourth,
above the third, and even above the second. How, then, has Mr Sadler
obtained his results? By packing solely. By placing in one compartment
a district no larger than the Isle of Wight; in another, a district
somewhat less than Yorkshire; in the third, a territory much larger than
the island of Great Britain.

By the same artifice it is that he has obtained from the census of
England those delusive averages which he brings forward with the
utmost ostentation in proof of his principle. We will examine the facts
relating to England, as we have examined those relating to France.

If we look at the counties one by one, Mr Sadler's principle utterly
fails. Hertfordshire with 251 on the square mile; Worcester with 258;
and Kent with 282, exhibit a far greater fecundity than the East Riding
of York, which has 151 on the square mile; Monmouthshire, which has 145;
or Northumberland, which has 108. The fecundity of Staffordshire,
which has more than 300 on the square mile, is as high as the average
fecundity of the counties which have from 150 to 200 on the square mile.
But, instead of confining ourselves to particular instances, we will try
masses.

Take the eight counties of England which stand together in Mr Sadler's
list, from Cumberland to Dorset inclusive. In these the population
is from 107 to 150 on the square mile. Compare with these the eight
counties from Berks to Durham inclusive, in which the population is from
175 to 200 on the square mile. Is the fecundity in the latter counties
smaller than in the former? On the contrary, the result stands thus:

The number of children to 100 marriages is--

     In the eight counties of England, in which there are
     from 107 to 146 people on the square mile............. 388

     In the eight counties of England, in which there are
     from 175 to 200 people on the square mile..............402

Take the six districts from the East Riding of York to the County of
Norfolk inclusive. Here the population is from 150 to 170 on the
square mile. To these oppose the six counties from Derby to Worcester
inclusive. The population is from 200 to 260. Here again we find that a
law, directly the reverse of that which Mr Sadler has laid down, appears
to regulate the fecundity of the inhabitants.

The number of children to 100 marriages is--

     In the six counties in which there are from 150 to 170
     people on the square mile................................392

     In the six counties in which there are from 200 to 260
     people on the square mile................................399

But we will make another experiment on Mr Sadler's tables, if possible
more decisive than any of those which we have hitherto made. We will
take the four largest divisions into which he has distributed the
English counties, and which follow each other in regular order. That
our readers may fully comprehend the nature of that packing by which his
theory is supported, we will set before them this part of his table.

(Here follows a table showing for population on a square mile the
proportion of births to 100 marriages, based on figures for the years
1810 to 1821.

     100 to 150...396
     150 to 200...390
     200 to 250...388
     250 to 300...378)

These averages look well, undoubtedly, for Mr Sadler's theory. The
numbers 396, 390, 388, 378, follow each other very speciously in a
descending order. But let our readers divide these thirty-four counties
into two equal sets of seventeen counties each, and try whether the
principle will then hold good. We have made this calculation, and we
present them with the following result.

The number of children to 100 marriages is--

     In the seventeen counties of England in which there
     are from 100 to 177 people on the square mile..........387

     In the seventeen counties in which there
     are from 177 to 282 people on the square mile..........389

The difference is small, but not smaller than differences which Mr
Sadler has brought forward as proofs of his theory. We say that
these English tables no more prove that fecundity increases with the
population than that it diminishes with the population. The thirty-four
counties which we have taken make up, at least four-fifths of the
kingdom: and we see that, through those thirty-four counties, the
phenomena are directly opposed to Mr Sadler's principle. That in the
capital, and in great manufacturing towns, marriages are less prolific
than in the open country, we admit, and Mr Malthus admits. But that any
condensation of the population, short of that which injures all physical
energies, will diminish the prolific powers of man, is, from these very
tables of Mr Sadler, completely disproved.

It is scarcely worth while to proceed with instances, after proofs so
overwhelming as those which we have given. Yet we will show that Mr
Sadler has formed his averages on the census of Prussia by an artifice
exactly similar to that which we have already exposed.

Demonstrating the Law of Population from the Censuses of Prussia at two
several Periods.

(Here follows a table showing for inhabitants on a square league the
average number of births to each marriage from two different censuses.)

                    1756     1784

      832 to  928...4.34 and 4.72
     1175 to 1909...4.14 and 4.45 (including East Prussia at 1175)
     2083 to 2700...3.84 and 4.24
     3142 to 3461...3.65 and 4.08

Of the census of 1756 we will say nothing, as Mr Sadler, finding himself
hard pressed by the argument which we drew from it, now declares it to
be grossly defective. We confine ourselves to the census of 1784: and we
will draw our lines at points somewhat different from those at which Mr
Sadler has drawn his. Let the first compartment remain as it stands.
Let East Prussia, which contains a much larger population than his last
compartment, stand alone in the second division. Let the third
consist of the New Mark, the Mark of Brandenburg, East Friesland and
Guelderland, and the fourth of the remaining provinces. Our readers
will find that, on this arrangement, the division which, on Mr Sadler's
principle, ought to be second in fecundity stands higher than that which
ought to be first; and that the division which ought to be fourth stands
higher than that which ought to be third. We will give the result in one
view.

The number of births to a marriage is--

     In those provinces of Prussia where there are fewer than
     1000 people on the square league.......................4.72

     In the province in which there are 1175 people on the
     square league..........................................5.10

     In the provinces in which there are from 1190 to 2083
     people on the square league............................4.10

     In the provinces in which there are from 2314 to 3461
     people on the square league............................4.27

We will go no further with this examination. In fact, we have nothing
more to examine. The tables which we have scrutinised constitute the
whole strength of Mr Sadler's case; and we confidently leave it to our
readers to say, whether we have not shown that the strength of his case
is weakness.

Be it remembered too that we are reasoning on data furnished by Mr
Sadler himself. We have not made collections of facts to set against
his, as we easily might have done. It is on his own showing, it is out
of his own mouth, that his theory stands condemned.

That packing which we have exposed is not the only sort of packing which
Mr Sadler has practised. We mentioned in our review some facts relating
to the towns of England, which appear from Mr Sadler's tables, and which
it seems impossible to explain if his principles be sound. The average
fecundity of a marriage in towns of fewer than 3000 inhabitants is
greater than the average fecundity of the kingdom. The average fecundity
in towns of from 4000 to 5000 inhabitants is greater than the average
fecundity of Warwickshire, Lancashire, or Surrey. How is it, we asked,
if Mr Sadler's principle be correct, that the fecundity of Guildford
should be greater than the average fecundity of the county in which it
stands?

Mr Sadler, in reply, talks about "the absurdity of comparing the
fecundity in the small towns alluded to with that in the counties of
Warwick and Stafford, or in those of Lancaster and Surrey." He proceeds
thus--

"In Warwickshire, far above half the population is comprised in large
towns, including, of course, the immense metropolis of one great branch
of our manufactures, Birmingham. In the county of Stafford, besides
the large and populous towns in its iron districts, situated so close
together as almost to form, for considerable distances, a continuous
street; there is, in its potteries, a great population, recently
accumulated, not included, indeed, in the towns distinctly enumerated in
the censuses, but vastly exceeding in its condensation that found in the
places to which the Reviewer alludes. In Lancashire, again, to which
he also appeals, one-fourth of the entire population is made up of the
inhabitants of two only of the towns of that county; far above half of
it is contained in towns, compared with which those he refers to are
villages: even the hamlets of the manufacturing parts of Lancashire are
often far more populous than the places he mentions. But he presents
us with a climax of absurdity in appealing lastly to the population of
Surrey as quite rural compared with that of the twelve towns having
less than 5000 inhabitants in their respective jurisdictions, such as
Saffron-Walden, Monmouth, etc. Now, in the last census, Surrey numbered
398,658 inhabitants, and to say not a word about the other towns of the
county, much above two hundred thousands of these are WITHIN THE BILLS
OF MORTALITY! 'We should, therefore, be glad to know' how it is utterly
inconsistent with my principle that the fecundity of Guildford, which
numbers about 3000 inhabitants, should be greater than the average
fecundity of Surrey, made up, as the bulk of the population of Surrey
is, of the inhabitants of some of the worst parts of the metropolis? Or
why the fecundity of a given number of marriages in the eleven little
rural towns he alludes to, being somewhat higher than that of an equal
number, half taken, for instance, from the heart of Birmingham or
Manchester, and half from the populous districts by which they are
surrounded, is inconsistent with my theory?

"Had the Reviewer's object, in this instance, been to discover the
truth, or had he known how to pursue it, it is perfectly clear, at
first sight, that he would not have instituted a comparison between the
prolificness which exists in the small towns he has alluded to, and
that in certain districts, the population of which is made up, partly
of rural inhabitants and partly of accumulations of people in immense
masses, the prolificness of which, if he will allow me still the use of
the phrase, is inversely as their magnitude; but he would have compared
these small towns with the country places properly so called, and then
again the different classes of towns with each other; this method would
have led him to certain conclusions on the subject."

Now, this reply shows that Mr Sadler does not in the least understand
the principle which he has himself laid down. What is that principle?
It is this, that the fecundity of human beings ON GIVEN SPACES, varies
inversely as their numbers. We know what he means by inverse variation.
But we must suppose that he uses the words, "given spaces," in the
proper sense. Given spaces are equal spaces. Is there any reason to
believe, that in those parts of Surrey which lie within the bills
of mortality, there is any space equal in area to the space on which
Guildford stands, which is more thickly peopled than the space on which
Guildford stands? We do not know that there is any such. We are sure
that there are not many. Why, therefore, on Mr Sadler's principle,
should the people of Guildford be more prolific than the people who live
within the bills of mortality? And, if the people of Guildford ought, as
on Mr Sadler's principle they unquestionably ought, to stand as low in
the scale of fecundity as the people of Southwark itself, it follows,
most clearly, that they ought to stand far lower than the average
obtained by taking all the people of Surrey together.

The same remark applies to the case of Birmingham, and to all the other
cases which Mr Sadler mentions. Towns of 5000 inhabitants may be, and
often are, as thickly peopled "on a given space," as Birmingham. They
are, in other words, as thickly peopled as a portion of Birmingham,
equal to them in area. If so, on Mr Sadler's principle, they ought to be
as low in the scale of fecundity as Birmingham. But they are not so. On
the contrary, they stand higher than the average obtained by taking the
fecundity of Birmingham in combination with the fecundity of the rural
districts of Warwickshire.

The plain fact is, that Mr Sadler has confounded the population of a
city with its population "on a given space,"--a mistake which, in a
gentleman who assures us that mathematical science was one of his early
and favourite studies, is somewhat curious. It is as absurd, on his
principle, to say that the fecundity of London ought to be less than
the fecundity of Edinburgh, because London has a greater population than
Edinburgh, as to say that the fecundity of Russia ought to be greater
than that of England, because Russia has a greater population than
England. He cannot say that the spaces on which towns stand are too
small to exemplify the truth of his principle. For he has himself
brought forward the scale of fecundity in towns, as a proof of his
principle. And, in the very passage which we quoted above, he tells us
that, if we knew how to pursue truth or wished to find it, we "should
have compared these small towns with country places, and the different
classes of towns with each other." That is to say, we ought to compare
together such unequal spaces as give results favourable to his theory,
and never to compare such equal spaces as give results opposed to it.
Does he mean anything by "a given space?" Or does he mean merely such
a space as suits his argument? It is perfectly clear that, if he is
allowed to take this course, he may prove anything. No fact can come
amiss to him. Suppose, for example, that the fecundity of New York
should prove to be smaller than the fecundity of Liverpool. "That," says
Mr Sadler, "makes for my theory. For there are more people within two
miles of the Broadway of New York, than within two miles of the Exchange
of Liverpool." Suppose, on the other hand, that the fecundity of New
York should be greater than the fecundity of Liverpool. "This," says Mr
Sadler again, "is an unanswerable proof of my theory. For there are many
more people within forty miles of Liverpool than within forty miles
of New York." In order to obtain his numbers, he takes spaces in any
combinations which may suit him. In order to obtain his averages, he
takes numbers in any combinations which may suit him. And then he tells
us that, because his tables, at the first glance, look well for his
theory, his theory is irrefragably proved.

We will add a few words respecting the argument which we drew from the
peerage. Mr Sadler asserted that the peers were a class condemned by
nature to sterility. We denied this, and showed from the last edition
of Debrett, that the peers of the United Kingdom have considerably more
than the average number of children to a marriage. Mr Sadler's answer
has amused us much. He denies the accuracy of our counting, and, by
reckoning all the Scotch and Irish peers as peers of the United Kingdom,
certainly makes very different numbers from those which we gave. A
member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom might have been expected,
we think, to know better what a peer of the United Kingdom is.

By taking the Scotch and Irish peers, Mr Sadler has altered the average.
But it is considerably higher than the average fecundity of England,
and still, therefore, constitutes an unanswerable argument against his
theory.

The shifts to which, in this difficulty, he has recourse, are
exceedingly diverting. "The average fecundity of the marriages of
peers," said we, "is higher by one-fifth than the average fecundity of
marriages throughout the kingdom."

"Where, or by whom did the Reviewer find it supposed," answers Mr
Sadler, "that the registered baptisms expressed the full fecundity of
the marriages of England?"

Assuredly, if the registers of England are so defective as to explain
the difference which, on our calculation, exists between the fecundity
of the peers and the fecundity of the people, no argument against Mr
Sadler's theory can be drawn from that difference. But what becomes
of all the other arguments which Mr Sadler has founded on these very
registers? Above all, what becomes of his comparison between the
censuses of England and France? In the pamphlet before us, he dwells
with great complacency on a coincidence which seems to him to support
his theory, and which to us seems, of itself, sufficient to overthrow
it.

"In my table of the population of France in the forty-four departments
in which there are from one to two hectares to each inhabitant, the
fecundity of 100 marriages, calculated on the average of the results of
the three computations relating to different periods given in my table,
is 406 7/10. In the twenty-two counties of England in which there is
from one to two hectares to each inhabitant, or from 129 to 259 on the
square mile,--beginning, therefore, with Huntingdonshire, and ending
with Worcestershire,--the whole number of marriages during ten years
will be found to amount to 379,624, and the whole number of the births
during the same term to 1,545,549--or 407 1/10 births to 100 marriages!
A difference of one in one thousand only, compared with the French
proportion!"

Does not Mr Sadler see that, if the registers of England, which are
notoriously very defective, give a result exactly corresponding almost
to an unit with that obtained from the registers of France, which are
notoriously very full and accurate, this proves the very reverse of what
he employs it to prove? The correspondence of the registers proves that
there is no correspondence in the facts. In order to raise the average
fecundity of England even to the level of the average fecundity of
the peers of the three kingdoms, which is 3.81 to a marriage, it is
necessary to add nearly six per cent. to the number of births given in
the English registers. But, if this addition be made, we shall have,
in the counties of England, from Huntingdonshire to Worcestershire
inclusive, 4.30 births to a marriage or thereabouts: and the boasted
coincidence between the phenomena of propagation in France and
England disappears at once. This is a curious specimen of Mr Sadler's
proficiency in the art of making excuses. In the same pamphlet he
reasons as if the same registers were accurate to one in a thousand, and
as if they were wrong at the very least by one in eighteen.

He tries to show that we have not taken a fair criterion of the
fecundity of the peers. We are not quite sure that we understand his
reasoning on this subject. The order of his observations is more than
usually confused, and the cloud of words more than usually thick. We
will give the argument on which he seems to lay most stress in his own
words:--

"But I shall first notice a far more obvious and important blunder
into which the Reviewer has fallen; or into which, I rather fear, he
knowingly wishes to precipitate his readers, since I have distinctly
pointed out what ought to have preserved him from it in the very chapter
he is criticising and contradicting. It is this:--he has entirely
omitted 'counting' the sterile marriages of all those peerages which
have become extinct during the very period his counting embraces. He
counts, for instance, Earl Fitzwilliam, his marriages, and heir; but has
he not omitted to enumerate the marriages of those branches of the same
noble house, which have become extinct since that venerable individual
possessed his title? He talks of my having appealed merely to the
extinction of peerages in my argument; but, on his plan of computation,
extinctions are perpetually and wholly lost sight of. In computing
the average prolificness of the marriages of the nobles, he positively
counts from a select class of them only, one from which the unprolific
are constantly weeded, and regularly disappear; and he thus comes to the
conclusion, that the peers are 'an eminently prolific class!' Just
as though a farmer should compute the rate of increase; not from the
quantity of seed sown, but from that part of it only which comes to
perfection, entirely omitting all which had failed to spring up or come
to maturity. Upon this principle the most scanty crop ever obtained, in
which the husbandman should fail to receive 'seed again,' as the phrase
is, might be so 'counted' as to appear 'eminently prolific' indeed."

If we understand this passage rightly, it decisively proves that Mr
Sadler is incompetent to perform even the lowest offices of statistical
research. What shadow of reason is there to believe that the peers who
were alive in the year 1828 differed as to their prolificness from any
other equally numerous set of peers taken at random? In what sense were
the peers who were alive in 1828 analogous to that part of the seed
which comes to perfection? Did we entirely omit all that failed? On the
contrary, we counted the sterile as well as the fruitful marriages of
all the peers of the United Kingdom living at one time. In what way were
the peers who were alive in 1828 a select class? In what way were the
sterile weeded from among them? Did every peer who had been married
without having issue die in 1827? What shadow of reason is there to
suppose that there was not the ordinary proportion of barren marriages
among the marriages contracted by the noblemen whose names are in
Debrett's last edition? But we ought, says Mr Sadler, to have counted
all the sterile marriages of all the peers "whose titles had become
extinct during the period which our counting embraced;" that is to say,
since the earliest marriage contracted by any peer living in 1828. Was
such a proposition ever heard of before? Surely we were bound to do no
such thing, unless at the same time we had counted also the children
born from all the fruitful marriages contracted by peers during the same
period. Mr Sadler would have us divide the number of children born to
peers living in 1828, not by the number of marriages which those peers
contracted, but by the number of marriages which those peers contracted
added to a crowd of marriages selected, on account of their sterility,
from among the noble marriages which have taken place during the last
fifty years. Is this the way to obtain fair averages? We might as well
require that all the noble marriages which during the last fifty years
have produced ten children apiece should be added to those of the peers
living in 1828. The proper way to ascertain whether a set of people be
prolific or sterile is, not to take marriages selected from the
mass either on account of their fruitfulness or on account of their
sterility, but to take a collection of marriages which there is no
reason to think either more or less fruitful than others. What reason is
there to think that the marriages contracted by the peers who were alive
in 1828 were more fruitful than those contracted by the peers who were
alive in 1800 or in 1750?

We will add another passage from Mr Sadler's pamphlet on this subject.
We attributed the extinction of peerages partly to the fact that those
honours are for the most part limited to heirs male.

"This is a discovery indeed! Peeresses 'eminently prolific,' do not,
as Macbeth conjured his spouse, 'bring forth men-children only;' they
actually produce daughters as well as sons!! Why, does not the Reviewer
see, that so long as the rule of nature, which proportions the sexes so
accurately to each other, continues to exist, a tendency to a diminution
in one sex proves, as certainly as the demonstration of any mathematical
problem, a tendency to a diminution in both; but to talk of 'eminently
prolific' peeresses, and still maintain that the rapid extinction in
peerages is owing to their not bearing male children exclusively, is
arrant nonsense."

Now, if there be any proposition on the face of the earth which we
should not have expected to hear characterised as arrant nonsense, it
is this,--that an honour limited to males alone is more likely to
become extinct than an honour which, like the crown of England, descends
indifferently to sons and daughters. We have heard, nay, we actually
know families, in which, much as Mr Sadler may marvel at it, there are
daughters and no sons. Nay, we know many such families. We are as much
inclined as Mr Sadler to trace the benevolent and wise arrangements of
Providence in the physical world, when once we are satisfied as to
the facts on which we proceed. And we have always considered it as
an arrangement deserving of the highest admiration, that, though in
families the number of males and females differs widely, yet in great
collections of human beings the disparity almost disappears. The chance
undoubtedly is, that in a thousand marriages the number of daughters
will not very much exceed the number of sons. But the chance also is,
that several of those marriages will produce daughters, and daughters
only. In every generation of the peerage there are several such cases.
When a peer whose title is limited to male heirs dies, leaving
only daughters, his peerage must expire, unless he have, not only
a collateral heir, but a collateral heir descended through an
uninterrupted line of males from the first possessor of the honour. If
the deceased peer was the first nobleman of his family, then, by the
supposition, his peerage will become extinct. If he was the second, it
will become extinct, unless he leaves a brother or a brother's son. If
the second peer had a brother, the first peer must have had at least two
sons; and this is more than the average number of sons to a marriage in
England. When, therefore, it is considered how many peerages are in the
first and second generation, it will not appear strange that extinctions
should frequently take place. There are peerages which descend to
females as well as males. But, in such cases, if a peer dies, leaving
only daughters, the very fecundity of the marriage is a cause of the
extinction of the peerage. If there were only one daughter, the honour
would descend. If there are several, it falls into abeyance.

But it is needless to multiply words in a case so clear; and, indeed it
is needless to say anything more about Mr Sadler's book. We have, if we
do not deceive ourselves, completely exposed the calculations on which
his theory rests; and we do not think that we should either amuse our
readers or serve the cause of science if we were to rebut in succession
a series of futile charges brought in the most angry spirit against
ourselves; ignorant imputations of ignorance, and unfair complaints of
unfairness,--conveyed in long, dreary, declamations, so prolix that we
cannot find space to quote them, and so confused that we cannot venture
to abridge them.

There is much indeed in this foolish pamphlet to laugh at, from the
motto in the first page down to some wisdom about cows in the last. One
part of it indeed is solemn enough, we mean a certain jeu d'esprit of
Mr Sadler's touching a tract of Dr Arbuthnot's. This is indeed "very
tragical mirth," as Peter Quince's playbill has it; and we would not
advise any person who reads for amusement to venture on it as long as he
can procure a volume of the Statutes at Large. This, however, to do
Mr Sadler justice, is an exception. His witticisms, and his tables of
figures, constitute the only parts of his work which can be perused with
perfect gravity. His blunders are diverting, his excuses exquisitely
comic. But his anger is the most grotesque exhibition that we ever saw.
He foams at the mouth with the love of truth, and vindicates the Divine
benevolence with a most edifying heartiness of hatred. On this subject
we will give him one word of parting advice. If he raves in this way to
ease his mind, or because he thinks that he does himself credit by it,
or from a sense of religious duty, far be it from us to interfere. His
peace, his reputation, and his religion are his own concern; and he,
like the nobleman to whom his treatise is dedicated, has a right to do
what he will with his own. But, if he has adopted his abusive style from
a notion that it would hurt our feelings, we must inform him that he is
altogether mistaken; and that he would do well in future to give us his
arguments, if he has any, and to keep his anger for those who fear it.

*****



MIRABEAU. (July 1832.)

     "Souvenirs sur Mirabeau, et sur les deux Premieres
     Assemblees Legislatives".  Par Etienne Dumont, de Geneve:
     ouvrage posthume publie par M.J.L. Duval, Membre du Conseil
     Representatif du Canton du Geneve.  8vo.  Paris:  1832.

This is a very amusing and a very instructive book: but even if it were
less amusing and less instructive, it would still be interesting as a
relic of a wise and virtuous man. M. Dumont was one of those persons,
the care of whose fame belongs in an especial manner to mankind. For he
was one of those persons who have, for the sake of mankind, neglected
the care of their own fame. In his walk through life there was no
obtrusiveness, no pushing, no elbowing, none of the little arts which
bring forward little men. With every right to the head of the board, he
took the lowest room, and well deserved to be greeted with--Friend, go
up higher. Though no man was more capable of achieving for himself
a separate and independent renown, he attached himself to others; he
laboured to raise their fame; he was content to receive as his share of
the reward the mere overflowings which redounded from the full measure
of their glory. Not that he was of a servile and idolatrous habit of
mind:--not that he was one of the tribe of Boswells,--those literary
Gibeonites, born to be hewers of wood and drawers of water to the higher
intellectual castes. Possessed of talents and acquirements which made
him great, he wished only to be useful. In the prime of manhood, at the
very time of life at which ambitious men are most ambitious, he was not
solicitous to proclaim that he furnished information, arguments, and
eloquence to Mirabeau. In his later years he was perfectly willing that
his renown should merge in that of Mr Bentham.

The services which M. Dumont has rendered to society can be fully
appreciated only by those who have studied Mr Bentham's works, both in
their rude and in their finished state. The difference both for show and
for use is as great as the difference between a lump of golden ore and a
rouleau of sovereigns fresh from the mint. Of Mr Bentham we would at all
times speak with the reverence which is due to a great original
thinker, and to a sincere and ardent friend of the human race. If a
few weaknesses were mingled with his eminent virtues,--if a few
errors insinuated themselves among the many valuable truths which he
taught,--this is assuredly no time for noticing those weaknesses or
those errors in an unkind or sarcastic spirit. A great man has gone from
among us, full of years, of good works, and of deserved honours. In some
of the highest departments in which the human intellect can exert
itself he has not left his equal or his second behind him. From his
contemporaries he has had, according to the usual lot, more or less than
justice. He has had blind flatterers and blind detractors--flatterers
who could see nothing but perfection in his style, detractors who
could see nothing but nonsense in his matter. He will now have judges.
Posterity will pronounce its calm and impartial decision; and that
decision will, we firmly believe, place in the same rank with Galileo,
and with Locke, the man who found jurisprudence a gibberish and left it
a science. Never was there a literary partnership so fortunate as that
of Mr Bentham and M. Dumont. The raw material which Mr Bentham furnished
was most precious; but it was unmarketable. He was, assuredly, at once a
great logician and a great rhetorician. But the effect of his logic was
injured by a vicious arrangement, and the effect of his rhetoric by a
vicious style. His mind was vigorous, comprehensive, subtile, fertile of
arguments, fertile of illustrations. But he spoke in an unknown tongue;
and, that the congregation might be edified, it was necessary that some
brother having the gift of interpretation should expound the invaluable
jargon. His oracles were of high import; but they were traced on
leaves and flung loose to the wind. So negligent was he of the arts of
selection, distribution, and compression, that to persons who formed
their judgment of him from his works in their undigested state he seemed
to be the least systematic of all philosophers. The truth is, that
his opinions formed a system, which, whether sound or unsound, is more
exact, more entire, and more consistent with itself than any other. Yet
to superficial readers of his works in their original form, and indeed
to all readers of those works who did not bring great industry and great
acuteness to the study, he seemed to be a man of a quick and ingenious
but ill-regulated mind,--who saw truth only by glimpses,--who threw
out many striking hints, but who had never thought of combining his
doctrines in one harmonious whole.

M. Dumont was admirably qualified to supply what was wanting in Mr
Bentham. In the qualities in which the French writers surpass those
of all other nations--neatness, clearness, precision, condensation--he
surpassed all French writers. If M. Dumont had never been born, Mr
Bentham would still have been a very great man. But he would have been
great to himself alone. The fertility of his mind would have resembled
the fertility of those vast American wildernesses in which blossoms and
decays a rich but unprofitable vegetation, "wherewith the reaper filleth
not his hand, neither he that bindeth up the sheaves his bosom." It
would have been with his discoveries as it has been with the "Century
of Inventions." His speculations on laws would have been of no more
practical use than Lord Worcester's speculations on steam-engines. Some
generations hence, perhaps, when legislation had found its Watt, an
antiquarian might have published to the world the curious fact that, in
the reign of George the Third, there had been a man called Bentham, who
had given hints of many discoveries made since his time, and who had
really, for his age, taken a most philosophical view of the principles
of jurisprudence.

Many persons have attempted to interpret between this powerful mind and
the public. But, in our opinion, M. Dumont alone has succeeded. It is
remarkable that, in foreign countries, where Mr Bentham's works are
known solely through the medium of the French version, his merit is
almost universally acknowledged. Even those who are most decidedly
opposed to his political opinions--the very chiefs of the Holy
Alliance--have publicly testified their respect for him. In England,
on the contrary, many persons who certainly entertained no prejudice
against him on political grounds were long in the habit of mentioning
him contemptuously. Indeed, what was said of Bacon's philosophy may be
said of Bentham's. It was in little repute among us, till judgments in
its favour came from beyond sea, and convinced us, to our shame, that we
had been abusing and laughing at one of the greatest men of the age.

M. Dumont might easily have found employments more gratifying to
personal vanity than that of arranging works not his own. But he could
have found no employment more useful or more truly honourable. The book
before us, hastily written as it is, contains abundant proof, if proof
were needed, that he did not become an editor because he wanted the
talents which would have made him eminent as a writer.

Persons who hold democratical opinions, and who have been accustomed
to consider M. Dumont as one of their party, have been surprised and
mortified to learn that he speaks with very little respect of the
French Revolution and of its authors. Some zealous Tories have naturally
expressed great satisfaction at finding their doctrines, in some
respects, confirmed by the testimony of an unwilling witness. The date
of the work, we think, explains everything. If it had been written ten
years earlier, or twenty years later, it would have been very different
from what it is. It was written, neither during the first excitement
of the Revolution, nor at that later period when the practical good
produced by the Revolution had become manifest to the most prejudiced
observers; but in those wretched times when the enthusiasm had abated,
and the solid advantages were not yet fully seen. It was written in the
year 1799,--a year in which the most sanguine friend of liberty might
well feel some misgivings as to the effects of what the National
Assembly had done. The evils which attend every great change had
been severely felt. The benefit was still to come. The price--a heavy
price--had been paid. The thing purchased had not yet been delivered.
Europe was swarming with French exiles. The fleets and armies of the
second coalition were victorious. Within France, the reign of terror was
over; but the reign of law had not commenced. There had been, indeed,
during three or four years, a written Constitution, by which rights
were defined and checks provided. But these rights had been repeatedly
violated; and those checks had proved utterly inefficient. The laws
which had been framed to secure the distinct authority of the
executive magistrates and of the legislative assemblies--the freedom of
election--the freedom of debate--the freedom of the press--the personal
freedom of citizens--were a dead letter. The ordinary mode in which
the Republic was governed was by coups d'etat. On one occasion, the
legislative councils were placed under military restraint by the
directors. Then, again, directors were deposed by the legislative
councils. Elections were set aside by the executive authority.
Ship-loads of writers and speakers were sent, without a legal trial,
to die of fever in Guiana. France, in short, was in that state in which
revolutions, effected by violence, almost always leave a nation. The
habit of obedience had been lost. The spell of prescription had been
broken. Those associations on which, far more than on any arguments
about property and order, the authority of magistrates rests, had
completely passed away. The power of the government consisted merely in
the physical force which it could bring to its support. Moral force it
had none. It was itself a government sprung from a recent convulsion.
Its own fundamental maxim was, that rebellion might be justifiable. Its
own existence proved that rebellion might be successful. The people
had been accustomed, during several years, to offer resistance to the
constituted authorities on the slightest provocation, and to see the
constituted authorities yield to that resistance. The whole political
world was "without form and void"--an incessant whirl of hostile atoms,
which, every moment, formed some new combination. The only man who could
fix the agitated elements of society in a stable form was following a
wild vision of glory and empire through the Syrian deserts. The time was
not yet come, when

     "Confusion heard his voice; and wild uproar
     Stood ruled:"

when, out of the chaos into which the old society had been resolved,
were to rise a new dynasty, a new peerage, a new church, and a new code.

The dying words of Madame Roland, "Oh, Liberty! how many crimes are
committed in thy name!" were at that time echoed by many of the
most upright and benevolent of mankind. M. Guizot has, in one of his
admirable pamphlets, happily and justly described M. Laine as "an honest
and liberal man, discouraged by the Revolution." This description, at
the time when M. Dumont's Memoirs were written, would have applied to
almost every honest and liberal man in Europe; and would, beyond all
doubt, have applied to M. Dumont himself. To that fanatical worship
of the all-wise and all-good people, which had been common a few years
before, had succeeded an uneasy suspicion that the follies and vices
of the people would frustrate all attempts to serve them. The wild and
joyous exaltation, with which the meeting of the States-General and the
fall of the Bastile had been hailed, had passed away. In its place
was dejection, and a gloomy distrust of suspicious appearances. The
philosophers and philanthropists had reigned. And what had their reign
produced? Philosophy had brought with it mummeries as absurd as any
which had been practised by the most superstitious zealot of the darkest
age. Philanthropy had brought with it crimes as horrible as the massacre
of Saint Bartholomew. This was the emancipation of the human mind. These
were the fruits of the great victory of reason over prejudice. France
had rejected the faith of Pascal and Descartes as a nursery fable, that
a courtezan might be her idol, and a madman her priest. She had asserted
her freedom against Louis, that she might bow down before Robespierre.
For a time men thought that all the boasted wisdom of the eighteenth
century was folly; and that those hopes of great political and social
ameliorations which had been cherished by Voltaire and Condorcet were
utterly delusive.

Under the influence of these feelings, M. Dumont has gone so far as
to say that the writings of Mr Burke on the French Revolution, though
disfigured by exaggeration, and though containing doctrines subversive
of all public liberty, had been, on the whole, justified by events, and
had probably saved Europe from great disasters. That such a man as the
friend and fellow-labourer of Mr Bentham should have expressed such
an opinion is a circumstance which well deserves the consideration of
uncharitable politicians. These Memoirs have not convinced us that the
French Revolution was not a great blessing to mankind. But they have
convinced us that very great indulgence is due to those who, while the
Revolution was actually taking place, regarded it with unmixed aversion
and horror. We can perceive where their error lay. We can perceive that
the evil was temporary, and the good durable. But we cannot be sure
that, if our lot had been cast in their times, we should not, like them,
have been discouraged and disgusted--that we should not, like them,
have seen, in that great victory of the French people, only insanity and
crime.

It is curious to observe how some men are applauded, and others reviled,
for merely being what all their neighbours are,--for merely going
passively down the stream of events,--for merely representing the
opinions and passions of a whole generation. The friends of popular
government ordinarily speak with extreme severity of Mr Pitt, and with
respect and tenderness of Mr Canning. Yet the whole difference, we
suspect, consisted merely in this,--that Mr Pitt died in 1806, and Mr
Canning in 1827. During the years which were common to the public life
of both, Mr Canning was assuredly not a more liberal statesman than his
patron. The truth is that Mr Pitt began his political life at the end
of the American War, when the nation was suffering from the effects of
corruption. He closed it in the midst of the calamities produced by the
French Revolution, when the nation was still strongly impressed with the
horrors of anarchy. He changed, undoubtedly. In his youth he had brought
in reform bills. In his manhood he brought in gagging bills. But the
change, though lamentable, was, in our opinion, perfectly natural, and
might have been perfectly honest. He changed with the great body of his
countrymen. Mr Canning on the other hand, entered into public life when
Europe was in dread of the Jacobins. He closed his public life when
Europe was suffering under the tyranny of the Holy Alliance. He, too,
changed with the nation. As the crimes of the Jacobins had turned the
master into something very like a Tory, the events which followed the
Congress of Vienna turned the pupil into something very like a Whig.

So much are men the creatures of circumstances. We see that, if M.
Dumont had died in 1799, he would have died, to use the new cant word,
a decided "Conservative." If Mr Pitt had lived in 1832, it is our firm
belief that he would have been a decided Reformer.

The judgment passed by M. Dumont in this work on the French Revolution
must be taken with considerable allowances. It resembles a criticism on
a play of which only the first act has been performed, or on a building
from which the scaffolding has not yet been taken down. We have no doubt
that, if the excellent author had revised these Memoirs thirty years
after the time at which they were written, he would have seen reason to
omit a few passages, and to add many qualifications and explanations.

He would not probably have been inclined to retract the censures, just,
though severe, which he has passed on the ignorance, the presumption,
and the pedantry, of the National Assembly. But he would have admitted
that, in spite of those faults, perhaps even by reason of those faults,
that Assembly had conferred inestimable benefits on mankind. It is clear
that, among the French of that day, political knowledge was absolutely
in its infancy. It would indeed have been strange if it had attained
maturity in the time of censors, of lettres-de-cachet, and of beds of
justice. The electors did not know how to elect. The representatives
did not know how to deliberate. M. Dumont taught the constituent body of
Montreuil how to perform their functions, and found them apt to learn.
He afterwards tried, in concert with Mirabeau, to instruct the National
Assembly in that admirable system of Parliamentary tactics which has
been long established in the English House of Commons, and which
has made the House of Commons, in spite of all the defects in its
composition, the best and fairest debating society in the world. But
these accomplished legislators, though quite as ignorant as the mob of
Montreuil, proved much less docile, and cried out that they did not
want to go to school to the English. Their debates consisted of endless
successions of trashy pamphlets, all beginning with something about the
original compact of society, man in the hunting state, and other such
foolery. They sometimes diversified and enlivened these long readings by
a little rioting. They bawled; they hooted; they shook their fists. They
kept no order among themselves. They were insulted with impunity by
the crowd which filled their galleries. They gave long and solemn
consideration to trifles. They hurried through the most important
resolutions with fearful expedition. They wasted months in quibbling
about the words of that false and childish Declaration of Rights on
which they professed to found their new constitution, and which was at
irreconcilable variance with every clause of that constitution. They
annihilated in a single night privileges, many of which partook of the
nature of property, and ought therefore to have been most delicately
handled.

They are called the Constituent Assembly. Never was a name less
appropriate. They were not constituent, but the very reverse of
constituent. They constituted nothing that stood or that deserved to
last. They had not, and they could not possibly have, the information
or the habits of mind which are necessary for the framing of that most
exquisite of all machines--a government. The metaphysical cant with
which they prefaced their constitution has long been the scoff of
all parties. Their constitution itself,--that constitution which
they described as absolutely perfect, and to which they predicted
immortality,--disappeared in a few months, and left no trace behind it.
They were great only in the work of destruction.

The glory of the National Assembly is this, that they were in truth,
what Mr Burke called them in austere irony, the ablest architects of
ruin that ever the world saw. They were utterly incompetent to perform
any work which required a discriminating eye and a skilful hand. But the
work which was then to be done was a work of devastation. They had
to deal with abuses so horrible and so deeply rooted that the highest
political wisdom could scarcely have produced greater good to mankind
than was produced by their fierce and senseless temerity. Demolition
is undoubtedly a vulgar task; the highest glory of the statesman is to
construct. But there is a time for everything,--a time to set up, and a
time to pull down. The talents of revolutionary leaders and those of the
legislator have equally their use and their season. It is the
natural, the almost universal, law, that the age of insurrections and
proscriptions shall precede the age of good government, of temperate
liberty, and liberal order.

And how should it be otherwise? It is not in swaddling-bands that
we learn to walk. It is not in the dark that we learn to distinguish
colours. It is not under oppression that we learn how to use freedom.
The ordinary sophism by which misrule is defended is, when truly
stated, this:--The people must continue in slavery, because slavery has
generated in them all the vices of slaves. Because they are ignorant,
they must remain under a power which has made and which keeps them
ignorant. Because they have been made ferocious by misgovernment, they
must be misgoverned for ever. If the system under which they live were
so mild and liberal that under its operation they had become humane
and enlightened, it would be safe to venture on a change. But, as this
system has destroyed morality, and prevented the development of the
intellect,--as it has turned men, who might under different training
have formed a virtuous and happy community, into savage and stupid wild
beasts,--therefore it ought to last for ever. The English Revolution,
it is said, was truly a glorious Revolution. Practical evils were
redressed; no excesses were committed; no sweeping confiscations took
place; the authority of the laws was scarcely for a moment suspended;
the fullest and freest discussion was tolerated in Parliament; the
nation showed, by the calm and temperate manner in which it asserted its
liberty, that it was fit to enjoy liberty. The French Revolution was,
on the other hand, the most horrible event recorded in history,--all
madness and wickedness,--absurdity in theory, and atrocity in practice.
What folly and injustice in the revolutionary laws! What grotesque
affectation in the revolutionary ceremonies! What fanaticism! What
licentiousness! What cruelty! Anacharsis Clootz and Marat,--feasts of
the Supreme Being, and marriages of the Loire--trees of liberty, and
heads dancing on pikes--the whole forms a kind of infernal farce, made
up of everything ridiculous, and everything frightful. This it is to
give freedom to those who have neither wisdom nor virtue.

It is not only by bad men interested in the defence of abuses that
arguments like these have been urged against all schemes of political
improvement. Some of the highest and purest of human beings conceived
such scorn and aversion for the follies and crimes of the French
Revolution that they recanted, in the moment of triumph, those liberal
opinions to which they had clung in defiance of persecution. And, if
we inquire why it was that they began to doubt whether liberty were a
blessing, we shall find that it was only because events had proved, in
the clearest manner, that liberty is the parent of virtue and of order.
They ceased to abhor tyranny merely because it had been signally shown
that the effect of tyranny on the hearts and understandings of men is
more demoralising and more stupifying than had ever been imagined by
the most zealous friend of popular rights. The truth is, that a stronger
argument against the old monarchy of France may be drawn from the
noyades and the fusillades than from the Bastile and the Parc-aux-cerfs.
We believe it to be a rule without an exception, that the violence of a
revolution corresponds to the degree of misgovernment which has
produced that revolution. Why was the French Revolution so bloody and
destructive? Why was our revolution of 1641 comparatively mild? Why was
our revolution of 1688 milder still? Why was the American Revolution,
considered as an internal movement, the mildest of all? There is an
obvious and complete solution of the problem. The English under James
the First and Charles the First were less oppressed than the French
under Louis the Fifteenth and Louis the Sixteenth. The English were less
oppressed after the Restoration than before the great Rebellion. And
America under George the Third was less oppressed than England under
the Stuarts. The reaction was exactly proportioned to the pressure,--the
vengeance to the provocation.

When Mr Burke was reminded in his later years of the zeal which he had
displayed in the cause of the Americans, he vindicated himself from the
charge of inconsistency, by contrasting the wisdom and moderation of the
Colonial insurgents of 1776 with the fanaticism and wickedness of the
Jacobins of 1792. He was in fact bringing an argument a fortiori against
himself. The circumstances on which he rested his vindication fully
proved that the old government of France stood in far more need of
a complete change than the old government of America. The difference
between Washington and Robespierre,--the difference between Franklin and
Barere,--the difference between the destruction of a few barrels of
tea and the confiscation of thousands of square miles,--the difference
between the tarring and feathering of a tax-gatherer and the massacres
of September,--measure the difference between the government of America
under the rule of England and the government of France under the rule of
the Bourbons.

Louis the Sixteenth made great voluntary concessions to his people;
and they sent him to the scaffold. Charles the Tenth violated the
fundamental laws of the state, established a despotism, and butchered
his subjects for not submitting quietly to that despotism. He failed in
his wicked attempt. He was at the mercy of those whom he had injured.
The pavements of Paris were still heaped up in barricades;--the
hospitals were still full of the wounded;--the dead were still
unburied;--a thousand families were in mourning;--a hundred thousand
citizens were in arms. The crime was recent;--the life of the criminal
was in the hands of the sufferers;--and they touched not one hair of his
head. In the first revolution, victims were sent to death by scores for
the most trifling acts proved by the lowest testimony, before the most
partial tribunals. After the second revolution, those ministers who had
signed the ordinances, those ministers, whose guilt, as it was of the
foulest kind, was proved by the clearest evidence,--were punished only
with imprisonment. In the first revolution, property was attacked. In
the second, it was held sacred. Both revolutions, it is true, left
the public mind of France in an unsettled state. Both revolutions were
followed by insurrectionary movements. But, after the first revolution,
the insurgents were almost always stronger than the law; and, since the
second revolution, the law has invariably been found stronger than the
insurgents. There is, indeed, much in the present state of France which
may well excite the uneasiness of those who desire to see her free,
happy, powerful, and secure. Yet, if we compare the present state of
France with the state in which she was forty years ago, how vast a
change for the better has taken place! How little effect, for example,
during the first revolution, would the sentence of a judicial body
have produced on an armed and victorious partty! If, after the 10th of
August, or after the proscription of the Gironde, or after the 9th of
Thermidor, or after the carnage of Vendemiaire, or after the arrests of
Fructidor, any tribunal had decided against the conquerors in favour of
the conquered, with what contempt, with what derision, would its award
have been received! The judges would have lost their heads, or would
have been sent to die in some unwholesome colony. The fate of the victim
whom they had endeavoured to save would only have been made darker and
more hopeless by their interference. We have lately seen a signal proof
that, in France, the law is now stronger than the sword. We have seen a
government, in the very moment of triumph and revenge, submitting itself
to the authority of a court of law. A just and independent sentence
has been pronounced--a sentence worthy of the ancient renown of
that magistracy to which belong the noblest recollections of French
history--which, in an age of persecutors, produced L'Hopital,--which,
in an age of courtiers, produced D'Aguesseau,--which, in an age of
wickedness and madness, exhibited to mankind a pattern of every virtue
in the life and in the death of Malesherbes. The respectful manner in
which that sentence has been received is alone sufficient to show how
widely the French of this generation differ from their fathers. And how
is the difference to be explained? The race, the soil, the climate, are
the same. If those dull, honest Englishmen, who explain the events of
1793 and 1794 by saying that the French are naturally frivolous and
cruel, were in the right, why is the guillotine now standing idle?
Not surely for want of Carlists, of aristocrats, of people guilty of
incivism, of people suspected of being suspicious characters. Is not the
true explanation this, that the Frenchman of 1832 has been far better
governed than the Frenchman of 1789,--that his soul has never been
galled by the oppressive privileges of a separate caste,--that he has
been in some degree accustomed to discuss political questions, and
to perform political functions,--that he has lived for seventeen or
eighteen years under institutions which, however defective, have yet
been far superior to any institutions that had before existed in France?

As the second French Revolution has been far milder than the first,
so that great change which has just been effected in England has
been milder even than the second French Revolution,--milder than any
revolution recorded in history. Some orators have described the
reform of the House of Commons as a revolution. Others have denied the
propriety of the term. The question, though in seeming merely a
question of definition, suggests much curious and interesting matter for
reflection. If we look at the magnitude of the reform, it may well
be called a revolution. If we look at the means by which it has been
effected, it is merely an Act of Parliament, regularly brought in, read,
committed, and passed. In the whole history of England, there is no
prouder circumstance than this,--that a change, which could not, in any
other age, or in any other country, have been effected without physical
violence, should here have been effected by the force of reason,
and under the forms of law. The work of three civil wars has been
accomplished by three sessions of Parliament. An ancient and deeply
rooted system of abuses has been fiercely attacked and stubbornly
defended. It has fallen; and not one sword has been drawn; not one
estate has been confiscated; not one family has been forced to emigrate.
The bank has kept its credit. The funds have kept their price. Every man
has gone forth to his work and to his labour till the evening. During
the fiercest excitement of the contest,--during the first fortnight of
that immortal May,--there was not one moment at which any sanguinary
act committed on the person of any of the most unpopular men in England
would not have filled the country with horror and indignation.

And now that the victory is won, has it been abused? An immense mass
of power has been transferred from an oligarchy to the nation. Are
the members of the vanquished oligarchy insecure? Does the nation seem
disposed to play the tyrant? Are not those who, in any other state of
society, would have been visited with the severest vengeance of the
triumphant party,--would have been pining in dungeons, or flying to
foreign countries,--still enjoying their possessions and their honours,
still taking part as freely as ever in public affairs? Two years ago
they were dominant. They are now vanquished. Yet the whole people would
regard with horror any man who should dare to propose any vindictive
measure. So common is this feeling,--so much is it a matter of course
among us,--that many of our readers will scarcely understand what we see
to admire in it.

To what are we to attribute the unparalleled moderation and humanity
which the English people had displayed at this great conjuncture? The
answer is plain. This moderation, this humanity, are the fruits of a
hundred and fifty years of liberty. During many generations we have had
legislative assemblies which, however defective their constitution might
be, have always contained many members chosen by the people, and many
others eager to obtain the approbation of the people:--assemblies in
which perfect freedom of debate was allowed;--assemblies in which the
smallest minority had a fair hearing; assemblies in which abuses,
even when they were not redressed, were at least exposed. For many
generations we have had the trial by jury, the Habeas Corpus Act, the
freedom of the press, the right of meeting to discuss public affairs,
the right of petitioning the legislature. A vast portion of the
population has long been accustomed to the exercise of political
functions, and has been thoroughly seasoned to political excitement.
In most other countries there is no middle course between absolute
submission and open rebellion. In England there has always been for
centuries a constitutional opposition. Thus our institutions had been so
good that they had educated us into a capacity for better institutions.
There is not a large town in the kingdom which does not contain better
materials for a legislature than all France could furnish in 1789. There
is not a spouting-club at any pot-house in London in which the rules of
debate are not better understood, and more strictly observed, than in
the Constituent Assembly. There is scarcely a Political Union which
could not frame in half an hour a declaration of rights superior to that
which occupied the collective wisdom of France for several months.

It would be impossible even to glance at all the causes of the French
Revolution within the limits to which we must confine ourselves. One
thing is clear. The government, the aristocracy, and the church were
rewarded after their works. They reaped that which they had sown. They
found the nation such as they had made it. That the people had become
possessed of irresistible power before they had attained the slightest
knowledge of the art of government--that practical questions of vast
moment were left to be solved by men to whom politics had been only
matter of theory--that a legislature was composed of persons who were
scarcely fit to compose a debating society--that the whole nation was
ready to lend an ear to any flatterer who appealed to its cupidity, to
its fears, or to its thirst for vengeance--all this was the effect of
misrule, obstinately continued in defiance of solemn warnings, and of
the visible signs of an approaching retribution.

Even while the monarchy seemed to be in its highest and most palmy
state, the causes of that great destruction had already begun to
operate. They may be distinctly traced even under the reign of Louis the
Fourteenth. That reign is the time to which the Ultra-Royalists refer
as the Golden Age of France. It was in truth one of those periods which
shine with an unnatural and delusive splendour, and which are rapidly
followed by gloom and decay.

Concerning Louis the Fourteenth himself, the world seems at last to
have formed a correct judgment. He was not a great general; he was not
a great statesman; but he was, in one sense of the words, a great king.
Never was there so consummate a master of what our James the First would
have called kingcraft,--of all those arts which most advantageously
display the merits of a prince, and most completely hide his defects.
Though his internal administration was bad,--though the military
triumphs which gave splendour to the early part of his reign were not
achieved by himself,--though his later years were crowded with defeats
and humiliations,--though he was so ignorant that he scarcely understood
the Latin of his mass-book,--though he fell under the control of a
cunning Jesuit and of a more cunning old woman,--he succeeded in passing
himself off on his people as a being above humanity. And this is the
more extraordinary because he did not seclude himself from the public
gaze like those Oriental despots whose faces are never seen, and whose
very names it is a crime to pronounce lightly. It has been said that no
man is a hero to his valet;--and all the world saw as much of Louis the
Fourteenth as his valet could see. Five hundred people assembled to see
him shave and put on his breeches in the morning. He then kneeled down
at the side of his bed, and said his prayer while the whole assembly
awaited the end in solemn silence--the ecclesiastics on their knees,
and the laymen with their hats before their faces. He walked about
his gardens with a train of two hundred courtiers at his heels. All
Versailles came to see him dine and sup. He was put to bed at night in
the midst of a crowd as great as that which had met to see him rise in
the morning. He took his very emetics in state, and vomited majestically
in the presence of all the grandes and petites entrees. Yet, though he
constantly exposed himself to the public gaze in situations in which it
is scarcely possible for any man to preserve much personal dignity, he
to the last impressed those who surrounded him with the deepest awe
and reverence. The illusion which he produced on his worshippers can
be compared only to those illusions to which lovers are proverbially
subject during the season of courtship. It was an illusion which
affected even the senses. The contemporaries of Louis thought him tall.
Voltaire, who might have seen him, and who had lived with some of
the most distinguished members of his court, speaks repeatedly of his
majestic stature. Yet it is as certain as any fact can be, that he was
rather below than above the middle size. He had, it seems, a way of
holding himself, a way of walking, a way of swelling his chest and
rearing his head, which deceived the eyes of the multitude. Eighty years
after his death, the royal cemetery was violated by the revolutionists,
his coffin was opened; his body was dragged out; and it appeared that
the prince, whose majestic figure had been so long and loudly extolled,
was in truth a little man. (Even M. de Chateaubriand, to whom we should
have thought all the Bourbons would have seemed at least six feet high,
admits this fact. "C'est une erreur," says he in his strange memoirs of
the Duke of Berri, "de croire que Louis XIV. etait d'une haute stature.
Une cuirasse qui nous reste de lui, et les exhumations de St Denys,
n'ont laisse sur certain point aucun doute.") That fine expression
of Juvenal is singularly applicable, both in its literal and in its
metaphorical sense, to Louis the Fourteenth:

     "Mors sola fatetur
     Quantula sint hominum corpuscula."

His person and his government have had the same fate. He had the art of
making both appear grand and august, in spite of the clearest evidence
that both were below the ordinary standard. Death and time have exposed
both the deceptions. The body of the great king has been measured more
justly than it was measured by the courtiers who were afraid to look
above his shoe-tie. His public character has been scrutinized by men
free from the hopes and fears of Boileau and Moliere. In the grave, the
most majestic of princes is only five feet eight. In history, the hero
and the politician dwindles into a vain and feeble tyrant,--the slave
of priests and women--little in war,--little in government,--little in
everything but the art of simulating greatness.

He left to his infant successor a famished and miserable people, a
beaten and humbled army, provinces turned into deserts by misgovernment
and persecution, factions dividing the court, a schism raging in the
church, an immense debt, an empty treasury, immeasurable palaces, an
innumerable household, inestimable jewels and furniture. All the sap and
nutriment of the state seemed to have been drawn to feed one bloated and
unwholesome excrescence. The nation was withered. The court was morbidly
flourishing. Yet it does not appear that the associations which attached
the people to the monarchy had lost strength during his reign. He had
neglected or sacrificed their dearest interests; but he had struck
their imaginations. The very things which ought to have made him most
unpopular,--the prodigies of luxury and magnificence with which his
person was surrounded, while, beyond the inclosure of his parks, nothing
was to be seen but starvation and despair,--seemed to increase the
respectful attachment which his subjects felt for him. That governments
exist only for the good of the people, appears to be the most obvious
and simple of all truths. Yet history proves that it is one of the most
recondite. We can scarcely wonder that it should be so seldom present
to the minds of rulers, when we see how slowly, and through how much
suffering, nations arrive at the knowledge of it.

There was indeed one Frenchman who had discovered those principles which
it now seems impossible to miss,--that the many are not made for the use
of one,--that the truly good government is not that which concentrates
magnificence in a court, but that which diffuses happiness among a
people,--that a king who gains victory after victory, and adds province
to province, may deserve, not the admiration, but the abhorrence and
contempt of mankind. These were the doctrines which Fenelon taught.
Considered as an epic poem, Telemachus can scarcely be placed above
Glover's Leonidas or Wilkie's Epigoniad. Considered as a treatise on
politics and morals, it abounds with errors of detail; and the truths
which it inculcates seem trite to a modern reader. But, if we compare
the spirit in which it is written with the spirit which pervades the
rest of the French literature of that age, we shall perceive that,
though in appearance trite, it was in truth one of the most original
works that have ever appeared. The fundamental principles of Fenelon's
political morality, the test by which he judged of institutions and of
men, were absolutely new to his countrymen. He had taught them indeed,
with the happiest effect, to his royal pupil. But how incomprehensible
they were to most people, we learn from Saint Simon. That amusing
writer tells us, as a thing almost incredible, that the Duke of Burgundy
declared it to be his opinion that kings existed for the good of
the people, and not the people for the good of kings. Saint Simon is
delighted with the benevolence of this saying; but startled by its
novelty and terrified by its boldness. Indeed he distinctly says that it
was not safe to repeat the sentiment in the court of Louis. Saint Simon
was, of all the members of that court, the least courtly. He was as
nearly an oppositionist as any man of his time. His disposition was
proud, bitter, and cynical. In religion he was a Jansenist; in politics,
a less hearty royalist than most of his neighbours. His opinions and his
temper had preserved him from the illusions which the demeanour of Louis
produced on others. He neither loved nor respected the king. Yet even
this man,--one of the most liberal men in France,--was struck dumb
with astonishment at hearing the fundamental axiom of all government
propounded,--an axiom which, in our time, nobody in England or France
would dispute,--which the stoutest Tory takes for granted as much as the
fiercest Radical, and concerning which the Carlist would agree with the
most republican deputy of the "extreme left." No person will do justice
to Fenelon, who does not constantly keep in mind that Telemachus was
written in an age and nation in which bold and independent thinkers
stared to hear that twenty millions of human beings did not exist
for the gratification of one. That work is commonly considered as a
schoolbook, very fit for children, because its style is easy and its
morality blameless, but unworthy of the attention of statesmen and
philosophers. We can distinguish in it, if we are not greatly mistaken,
the first faint dawn of a long and splendid day of intellectual
light,--the dim promise of a great deliverance,--the undeveloped germ of
the charter and of the code.

What mighty interests were staked on the life of the Duke of Burgundy!
and how different an aspect might the history of France have borne if he
had attained the age of his grandfather or of his son;--if he had been
permitted to show how much could be done for humanity by the highest
virtue in the highest fortune! There is scarcely anything in history
more remarkable than the descriptions which remain to us of that
extraordinary man. The fierce and impetuous temper which he showed in
early youth,--the complete change which a judicious education produced
in his character,--his fervid piety,--his large benevolence,--the
strictness with which he judged himself,--the liberality with which he
judged others,--the fortitude with which alone, in the whole court, he
stood up against the commands of Louis, when a religious scruple
was concerned,--the charity with which alone, in the whole court,
he defended the profligate Orleans against calumniators,--his great
projects for the good of the people,--his activity in business,--his
taste for letters,--his strong domestic attachments,--even the
ungraceful person and the shy and awkward manner which concealed from
the eyes of the sneering courtiers of his grandfather so many rare
endowments,--make his character the most interesting that is to be found
in the annals of his house. He had resolved, if he came to the throne,
to disperse that ostentatious court, which was supported at an expense
ruinous to the nation,--to preserve peace,--to correct the abuses which
were found in every part of the system of revenue,--to abolish or modify
oppressive privileges,--to reform the administration of justice,--to
revive the institution of the States-General. If he had ruled over
France during forty or fifty years, that great movement of the human
mind, which no government could have arrested, which bad government
only rendered more violent, would, we are inclined to think, have been
conducted, by peaceable means to a happy termination.

Disease and sorrow removed from the world that wisdom and virtue of
which it was not worthy. During two generations France was ruled by men
who, with all the vices of Louis the Fourteenth, had none of the art
by which that magnificent prince passed off his vices for virtues. The
people had now to see tyranny naked. That foul Duessa was stripped
of her gorgeous ornaments. She had always been hideous; but a strange
enchantment had made her seem fair and glorious in the eyes of her
willing slaves. The spell was now broken; the deformity was made
manifest; and the lovers, lately so happy and so proud, turned away
loathing and horror-struck.

First came the Regency. The strictness with which Louis had, towards the
close of his life, exacted from those around him an outward attention to
religious duties, produced an effect similar to that which the rigour
of the Puritans had produced in England. It was the boast of Madame de
Maintenon, in the time of her greatness, that devotion had become the
fashion. A fashion indeed it was; and, like a fashion, it passed away.
The austerity of the tyrant's old age had injured the morality of the
higher orders more than even the licentiousness of his youth. Not only
had he not reformed their vices, but, by forcing them to be hypocrites,
he had shaken their belief in virtue. They had found it so easy to
perform the grimace of piety, that it was natural for them to consider
all piety as grimace. The times were changed. Pensions, regiments, and
abbeys, were no longer to be obtained by regular confession and severe
penance: and the obsequious courtiers, who had kept Lent like monks
of La Trappe, and who had turned up the whites of their eyes at the
edifying parts of sermons preached before the king, aspired to the title
of roue as ardently as they had aspired to that of devot; and went,
during Passion Week, to the revels of the Palais Royal as readily as
they had formerly repaired to the sermons of Massillon.

The Regent was in many respects the fac-simile of our Charles the
Second. Like Charles, he was a good-natured man, uttl destitute
of sensibility. Like Charles, he had good natural talents, which a
deplorable indolence rendered useless to the state. Like Charles, he
thought all men corrupted and interested, and yet did not dislike them
for being so. His opinion of human nature was Gulliver's; but he did not
regard human nature with Gulliver's horror. He thought that he and his
fellow-creatures were Yahoos; and he thought a Yahoo a very agreeable
kind of animal. No princes were ever more social than Charles and Philip
of Orleans: yet no princes ever had less capacity for friendship. The
tempers of these clever cynics were so easy, and their minds so languid,
that habit supplied in them the place of affection, and made them the
tools of people for whom they cared not one straw. In love, both were
mere sensualists without delicacy or tenderness. In politics, both were
utterly careless of faith and of national honour. Charles shut up the
Exchequer. Philip patronised the System. The councils of Charles were
swayed by the gold of Barillon; the councils of Philip by the gold of
Walpole. Charles for private objects made war on Holland, the natural
ally of England. Philip for private objects made war on the Spanish
branch of the house of Bourbon, the natural ally, indeed the creature of
France. Even in trifling circumstances the parallel might be carried on.
Both these princes were fond of experimental philosophy, and passed
in the laboratory much time which would have been more advantageously
passed at the council-table. Both were more strongly attached to their
female relatives than to any other human being; and in both cases it was
suspected that this attachment was not perfectly innocent. In personal
courage, and in all the virtues which are connected with personal
courage, the Regent was indisputably superior to Charles. Indeed Charles
but narrowly escaped the stain of cowardice. Philip was eminently brave,
and, like most brave men, was generally open and sincere. Charles added
dissimulation to his other vices.

The administration of the Regent was scarcely less pernicious, and
infinitely more scandalous, than that of the deceased monarch. It was
by magnificent public works, and by wars conducted on a gigantic scale,
that Louis had brought distress on his people. The Regent aggravated
that distress by frauds of which a lame duck on the stock-exchange would
have been ashamed. France, even while suffering under the most severe
calamities, had reverenced the conqueror. She despised the swindler.

When Orleans and the wretched Dubois had disappeared, the power passed
to the Duke of Bourbon; a prince degraded in the public eye by the
infamously lucrative part which he had taken in the juggles of the
System, and by the humility with which he bore the caprices of a loose
and imperious woman. It seemed to be decreed that every branch of the
royal family should successively incur the abhorrence and contempt of
the nation.

Between the fall of the Duke of Bourbon and the death of Fleury, a few
years of frugal and moderate government intervened. Then recommenced the
downward progress of the monarchy. Profligacy in the court, extravagance
in the finances, schism in the church, faction in the Parliaments,
unjust war terminated by ignominious peace,--all that indicates and all
that produces the ruin of great empires, make up the history of that
miserable period. Abroad, the French were beaten and humbled everywhere,
by land and by sea, on the Elbe and on the Rhine, in Asia and in
America. At home, they were turned over from vizier to vizier, and from
sultana to sultana, till they had reached that point beneath which there
was no lower abyss of infamy,--till the yoke of Maupeou had made them
pine for Choiseul,--till Madame du Barri had taught them to regret
Madame de Pompadour.

But unpopular as the monarchy had become, the aristocracy was more
unpopular still; and not without reason. The tyranny of an individual
is far more supportable than the tyranny of a caste. The old privileges
were galling and hateful to the new wealth and the new knowledge.
Everything indicated the approach of no common revolution,--of a
revolution destined to change, not merely the form of government,
but the distribution of property and the whole social system,--of a
revolution the effects of which were to be felt at every fireside in
France,--of a new Jaquerie, in which the victory was to remain with
Jaques bonhomme. In the van of the movement were the moneyed men and the
men of letters,--the wounded pride of wealth, and the wounded pride of
intellect. An immense multitude, made ignorant and cruel by oppression,
was raging in the rear.

We greatly doubt whether any course which could have been pursued by
Louis the Sixteenth could have averted a great convulsion. But we are
sure that, if there was such a course, it was the course recommended
by M. Turgot. The church and the aristocracy, with that blindness to
danger, that incapacity of believing that anything can be except what
has been, which the long possession of power seldom fails to generate,
mocked at the counsel which might have saved them. They would not have
reform; and they had revolution. They would not pay a small contribution
in place of the odious corvees; and they lived to see their castles
demolished, and their lands sold to strangers. They would not endure
Turgot; and they were forced to endure Robespierre.

Then the rulers of France, as if smitten with judicial blindness,
plunged headlong into the American war. They thus committed at once two
great errors. They encouraged the spirit of revolution. They augmented
at the same time those public burdens, the pressure of which is
generally the immediate cause of revolutions. The event of the war
carried to the height the enthusiasm of speculative democrats. The
financial difficulties produced by the war carried to the height
the discontent of that larger body of people who cared little about
theories, and much about taxes.

The meeting of the States-General was the signal for the explosion of
all the hoarded passions of a century. In that assembly, there were
undoubtedly very able men. But they had no practical knowledge of the
art of government. All the great English revolutions have been conducted
by practical statesmen. The French Revolution was conducted by mere
speculators. Our constitution has never been so far behind the age as to
have become an object of aversion to the people. The English revolutions
have therefore been undertaken for the purpose of defending, correcting,
and restoring,--never for the mere purpose of destroying. Our countrymen
have always, even in times of the greatest excitement, spoken reverently
of the form of government under which they lived, and attacked only what
they regarded as its corruptions. In the very act of innovating they
have constantly appealed to ancient prescription; they have seldom
looked abroad for models; they have seldom troubled themselves with
Utopian theories; they have not been anxious to prove that liberty is a
natural right of men; they have been content to regard it as the lawful
birthright of Englishmen. Their social contract is no fiction. It
is still extant on the original parchment, sealed with wax which was
affixed at Runnymede, and attested by the lordly names of the Marischals
and Fitzherberts. No general arguments about the original equality of
men, no fine stories out of Plutarch and Cornelius Nepos, have
ever affected them so much as their own familiar words,--Magna
Charta,--Habeas Corpus,--Trial by Jury,--Bill of Rights. This part of
our national character has undoubtedly its disadvantages. An Englishman
too often reasons on politics in the spirit rather of a lawyer than of
a philosopher. There is too often something narrow, something exclusive,
something Jewish, if we may use the word, in his love of freedom. He
is disposed to consider popular rights as the special heritage of the
chosen race to which he belongs. He is inclined rather to repel than to
encourage the alien proselyte who aspires to a share of his privileges.
Very different was the spirit of the Constituent Assembly. They had
none of our narrowness; but they had none of our practical skill in the
management of affairs. They did not understand how to regulate the order
of their own debates; and they thought themselves able to legislate for
the whole world. All the past was loathsome to them. All their agreeable
associations were connected with the future. Hopes were to them all that
recollections are to us. In the institutions of their country they found
nothing to love or to admire. As far back as they could look, they saw
only the tyranny of one class and the degradation of another,--Frank
and Gaul, knight and villein, gentleman and roturier. They hated the
monarchy, the church, the nobility. They cared nothing for the States or
the Parliament. It was long the fashion to ascribe all the follies which
they committed to the writings of the philosophers. We believe that
it was misrule, and nothing but misrule, that put the sting into those
writings. It is not true that the French abandoned experience for
theories. They took up with theories because they had no experience of
good government. It was because they had no charter that they ranted
about the original contract. As soon as tolerable institutions were
given to them, they began to look to those institutions. In 1830 their
rallying cry was "Vive la Charte". In 1789 they had nothing but theories
round which to rally. They had seen social distinctions only in a
bad form; and it was therefore natural that they should be deluded by
sophisms about the equality of men. They had experienced so much evil
from the sovereignty of kings that they might be excused for lending a
ready ear to those who preached, in an exaggerated form, the doctrine of
the sovereignty of the people.

The English, content with their own national recollections and names,
have never sought for models in the institutions of Greece or Rome. The
French, having nothing in their own history to which they could look
back with pleasure, had recourse to the history of the great ancient
commonwealths: they drew their notions of those commonwealths, not from
contemporary writers, but from romances written by pedantic moralists
long after the extinction of public liberty. They neglected Thucydides
for Plutarch. Blind themselves, they took blind guides. They had no
experience of freedom; and they took their opinions concerning it
from men who had no more experience of it than themselves, and whose
imaginations, inflamed by mystery and privation, exaggerated the unknown
enjoyment;--from men who raved about patriotism without having ever had
a country, and eulogised tyrannicide while crouching before tyrants.
The maxim which the French legislators learned in this school was, that
political liberty is an end, and not a means; that it is not merely
valuable as the great safeguard of order, of property, and of morality,
but that it is in itself a high and exquisite happiness to which order,
property, and morality ought without one scruple to be sacrificed. The
lessons which may be learned from ancient history are indeed most useful
and important; but they were not likely to be learned by men who, in all
their rhapsodies about the Athenian democracy, seemed utterly to forget
that in that democracy there were ten slaves to one citizen; and who
constantly decorated their invectives against the aristocrats with
panegyrics on Brutus and Cato,--two aristocrats, fiercer, prouder, and
more exclusive, than any that emigrated with the Count of Artois.

We have never met with so vivid and interesting a picture of the
National Assembly as that which M. Dumont has set before us. His
Mirabeau, in particular, is incomparable. All the former Mirabeaus
were daubs in comparison. Some were merely painted from the
imagination--others were gross caricatures: this is the very individual,
neither god nor demon, but a man--a Frenchman--a Frenchman of the
eighteenth century, with great talents, with strong passions, depraved
by bad education, surrounded by temptations of every kind,--made
desperate at one time by disgrace, and then again intoxicated by fame.
All his opposite and seemingly inconsistent qualities are in this
representation so blended together as to make up a harmonious and
natural whole. Till now, Mirabeau was to us, and, we believe, to most
readers of history, not a man, but a string of antitheses. Henceforth he
will be a real human being, a remarkable and eccentric being indeed, but
perfectly conceivable.

He was fond, M. Dumont tells us, of giving odd compound nicknames.
Thus, M. de Lafayette was Grandison-Cromwell; the King of Prussia was
Alaric-Cottin; D'Espremenil was Crispin-Catiline. We think that Mirabeau
himself might be described, after his own fashion, as a Wilkes-Chatham.
He had Wilkes's sensuality, Wilkes's levity, Wilkes's insensibility to
shame. Like Wilkes, he had brought on himself the censure even of men
of pleasure by the peculiar grossness of his immorality, and by the
obscenity of his writings. Like Wilkes, he was heedless, not only of
the laws of morality, but of the laws of honour. Yet he affected, like
Wilkes, to unite the character of the demagogue to that of the fine
gentleman. Like Wilkes, he conciliated, by his good-humour and his high
spirits, the regard of many who despised his character. Like Wilkes,
he was hideously ugly; like Wilkes, he made a jest of his own ugliness;
and, like Wilkes, he was, in spite of his ugliness, very attentive to
his dress, and very successful in affairs of gallantry.

Resembling Wilkes in the lower and grosser parts of his character, he
had, in his higher qualities, some affinity to Chatham. His eloquence,
as far as we can judge of it, bore no inconsiderable resemblance to that
of the great English minister. He was not eminently successful in long
set speeches. He was not, on the other hand, a close and ready debater.
Sudden bursts, which seemed to be the effect of inspiration--short
sentences which came like lightning, dazzling, burning, striking down
everything before them--sentences which, spoken at critical moments,
decided the fate of great questions--sentences which at once became
proverbs--sentences which everybody still knows by heart--in these
chiefly lay the oratorical power both of Chatham and of Mirabeau. There
have been far greater speakers, and far greater statesmen, than either
of them; but we doubt whether any men have, in modern times, exercised
such vast personal influence over stormy and divided assemblies. The
power of both was as much moral as intellectual. In true dignity of
character, in private and public virtue, it may seem absurd to institute
any comparison between them; but they had the same haughtiness and
vehemence of temper. In their language and manner there was a disdainful
self-confidence, an imperiousness, a fierceness of passion, before which
all common minds quailed. Even Murray and Charles Townshend, though
intellectually not inferior to Chatham, were always cowed by him.
Barnave, in the same manner, though the best debater in the National
Assembly, flinched before the energy of Mirabeau. Men, except in bad
novels, are not all good or all evil. It can scarcely be denied that the
virtue of Lord Chatham was a little theatrical. On the other hand there
was in Mirabeau, not indeed anything deserving the name of virtue,
but that imperfect substitute for virtue which is found in almost all
superior minds,--a sensibility to the beautiful and the good, which
sometimes amounted to sincere enthusiasm; and which, mingled with
the desire of admiration, sometimes gave to his character a lustre
resembling the lustre of true goodness,--as the "faded splendour wan"
which lingered round the fallen archangel resembled the exceeding
brightness of those spirits who had kept their first estate.

There are several other admirable portraits of eminent men in these
Memoirs. That of Sieyes in particular, and that of Talleyrand, are
master-pieces, full of life and expression. But nothing in the book has
interested us more than the view which M. Dumont has presented to us,
unostentatiously, and, we may say, unconsciously, of his own character.
The sturdy rectitude, the large charity, the good-nature, the modesty,
the independent spirit, the ardent philanthropy, the unaffected
indifference to money and to fame, make up a character which, while it
has nothing unnatural, seems to us to approach nearer to perfection than
any of the Grandisons and Allworthys of fiction. The work is not indeed
precisely such a work as we had anticipated--it is more lively, more
picturesque, more amusing than we had promised ourselves; and it is, on
the other hand, less profound and philosophic. But, if it is not, in
all respects, such as might have been expected from the intellect of M.
Dumont, it is assuredly such as might have been expected from his heart.

*****



BARERE. (April 1844.)

     "Memoires de Bertrand Barere":  publies par MM. Hippolyte
     Carnot, Membre de la Chambre des Deputes, et David d'Angers,
     Membre de l'Institut:  precedes d'une Notice Historique par
     H. Carnot. 4 tomes.  Paris:  1843.

This book has more than one title to our serious attention. It is an
appeal, solemnly made to posterity by a man who played a conspicuous
part in great events, and who represents himself as deeply aggrieved by
the rash and malevolent censure of his contemporaries. To such an appeal
we shall always give ready audience. We can perform no duty more useful
to society, or more agreeable to our own feelings, than that of making,
as far as our power extends, reparation to the slandered and
persecuted benefactors of mankind. We therefore promptly took into our
consideration this copious apology for the life of Bertrand Barere. We
have made up our minds; and we now purpose to do him, by the blessing of
God, full and signal justice. It is to be observed that the appellant in
this case does not come into court alone. He is attended to the bar
of public opinion by two compurgators who occupy highly honourable
stations. One of these is M. David of Angers, member of the institute,
an eminent sculptor, and, if we have been rightly informed, a favourite
pupil, though not a kinsman, of the painter who bore the same name. The
other, to whom we owe the biographical preface, is M. Hippolyte Carnot,
member of the Chamber of Deputies, and son of the celebrated Director.
In the judgment of M. David and of M. Hippolyte Carnot, Barere was a
deserving and an ill-used man--a man who, though by no means faultless,
must yet, when due allowance is made for the force of circumstances and
the infirmity of human nature, be considered as on the whole entitled
to our esteem. It will be for the public to determine, after a full
hearing, whether the editors have, by thus connecting their names with
that of Barere, raised his character or lowered their own.

We are not conscious that, when we opened this book, we were under the
influence of any feeling likely to pervert our judgment. Undoubtedly we
had long entertained a most unfavourable opinion of Barere: but to this
opinion we were not tied by any passion or by any interest. Our dislike
was a reasonable dislike, and might have been removed by reason. Indeed
our expectation was, that these Memoirs would in some measure clear
Barere's fame. That he could vindicate himself from all the charges
which had been brought against him, we knew to be impossible; and his
editors admit that he has not done so. But we thought it highly probable
that some grave accusations would be refuted, and that many offences
to which he would have been forced to plead guilty would be greatly
extenuated. We were not disposed to be severe. We were fully aware that
temptations such as those to which the members of the Convention and
of the Committee of Public Safety were exposed must try severely the
strength of the firmest virtue. Indeed our inclination has always been
to regard with an indulgence, which to some rigid moralists appears
excessive, those faults into which gentle and noble spirits are
sometimes hurried by the excitement of conflict, by the maddening
influence of sympathy, and by ill-regulated zeal for a public cause.

With such feelings we read this book, and compared it with other
accounts of the events in which Barere bore a part. It is now our duty
to express the opinion to which this investigation has led us.

Our opinion then is this: that Barere approached nearer than any person
mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or devil, to the idea of
consummate and universal depravity. In him the qualities which are the
proper objects of hatred, and the qualities which are the proper objects
of contempt, preserve an exquisite and absolute harmony. In almost every
particular sort of wickedness he has had rivals. His sensuality was
immoderate; but this was a failing common to him with many great and
amiable men. There have been many men as cowardly as he, some as cruel,
a few as mean, a few as impudent. There may also have been as great
liars, though we never met with them or read of them. But when we put
everything together, sensuality, poltroonery, baseness, effrontery,
mendacity, barbarity, the result is something which in a novel we should
condemn as caricature, and to which, we venture to say, no parallel can
be found in history.

It would be grossly unjust, we acknowledge, to try a man situated as
Barere was by a severe standard. Nor have we done so. We have formed
our opinion of him, by comparing him, not with politicians of stainless
character, not with Chancellor D'Aguesseau, or General Washington, or Mr
Wilberforce, or Earl Grey, but with his own colleagues of the Mountain.
That party included a considerable number of the worst men that ever
lived; but we see in it nothing like Barere. Compared with him, Fouche
seems honest; Billaud seems humane; Hebert seems to rise into dignity.
Every other chief of a party, says M. Hippolyte Carnot, has found
apologists: one set of men exalts the Girondists; another set justifies
Danton; a third deifies Robespierre: but Barere has remained without
a defender. We venture to suggest a very simple solution of this
phenomenon. All the other chiefs of parties had some good qualities; and
Barere had none. The genius, courage, patriotism, and humanity of the
Girondist statesmen more than atoned for what was culpable in their
conduct, and should have protected them from the insult of being
compared with such a thing as Barere. Danton and Robespierre were indeed
bad men; but in both of them some important parts of the mind remained
sound. Danton was brave and resolute, fond of pleasure, of power, and of
distinction, with vehement passions, with lax principles, but with some
kind and manly feelings, capable of great crimes, but capable also of
friendship and of compassion. He, therefore, naturally finds admirers
among persons of bold and sanguine dispositions. Robespierre was a
vain, envious, and suspicious man, with a hard heart, weak nerves, and a
gloomy temper. But we cannot with truth deny that he was, in the vulgar
sense of the word, disinterested, that his private life was correct, or
that he was sincerely zealous for his own system of politics and morals.
He, therefore, naturally finds admirers among honest but moody and
bitter democrats. If no class has taken the reputation of Barere under
its patronage, the reason is plain: Barere had not a single virtue, nor
even the semblance of one.

It is true that he was not, as far as we are able to judge, originally
of a savage disposition; but this circumstance seems to us only to
aggravate his guilt. There are some unhappy men constitutionally prone
to the darker passions, men all whose blood is gall, and to whom bitter
words and harsh actions are as natural as snarling and biting to a
ferocious dog. To come into the world with this wretched mental disease
is a greater calamity than to be born blind or deaf. A man who, having
such a temper, keeps it in subjection, and constrains himself to behave
habitually with justice and humanity towards those who are in his power,
seems to us worthy of the highest admiration. There have been instances
of this self-command; and they are among the most signal triumphs of
philosophy and religion. On the other hand, a man who, having been
blessed by nature with a bland disposition, gradually brings himself
to inflict misery on his fellow-creatures with indifference, with
satisfaction, and at length with a hideous rapture, deserves to be
regarded as a portent of wickedness; and such a man was Barere. The
history of his downward progress is full of instruction. Weakness,
cowardice, and fickleness were born with him; the best quality which he
received from nature was a good temper. These, it is true, are not
very promising materials; yet, out of materials as unpromising, high
sentiments of piety and of honour have sometimes made martyrs and
heroes. Rigid principles often do for feeble minds what stays do for
feeble bodies. But Barere had no principles at all. His character was
equally destitute of natural and of acquired strength. Neither in the
commerce of life, nor in books, did we ever become acquainted with
any mind so unstable, so utterly destitute of tone, so incapable of
independent thought and earnest preference, so ready to take impressions
and so ready to lose them. He resembled those creepers which must lean
on something, and which, as soon as their prop is removed, fall down in
utter helplessness. He could no more stand up, erect and self-supported,
in any cause, than the ivy can rear itself like the oak, or the wild
vine shoot to heaven like the cedar of Lebanon. It is barely possible
that, under good guidance and in favourable circumstances, such a man
might have slipped through life without discredit. But the unseaworthy
craft, which even in still water would have been in danger of going down
from its own rottenness, was launched on a raging ocean, amidst a storm
in which a whole armada of gallant ships was cast away. The weakest and
most servile of human beings found himself on a sudden an actor in a
Revolution which convulsed the whole civilised world. At first he fell
under the influence of humane and moderate men, and talked the language
of humanity and moderation. But he soon found himself surrounded by
fierce and resolute spirits, scared by no danger and restrained by no
scruple. He had to choose whether he would be their victim or their
accomplice. His choice was soon made. He tasted blood, and felt no
loathing; he tasted it again, and liked it well. Cruelty became with
him, first a habit, then a passion, at last a madness. So complete and
rapid was the degeneracy of his nature, that within a very few months
after the time when he had passed for a good-natured man, he had brought
himself to look on the despair and misery of his fellow-creatures with
a glee resembling that of the fiends whom Dante saw watching the pool
of seething pitch in Malebolge. He had many associates in guilt; but he
distinguished himself from them all by the Bacchanalian exaltation which
he seemed to feel in the work of death. He was drunk with innocent and
noble blood, laughed and shouted as he butchered, and howled strange
songs and reeled in strange dances amidst the carnage. Then came a
sudden and violent turn of fortune. The miserable man was hurled down
from the height of power to hopeless ruin and infamy. The shock sobered
him at once. The fumes of his horrible intoxication passed away. But he
was now so irrecoverably depraved that the discipline of adversity only
drove him further into wickedness. Ferocious vices, of which he had
never been suspected, had been developed in him by power. Another class
of vices, less hateful perhaps, but more despicable, was now developed
in him by poverty and disgrace. Having appalled the whole world by great
crimes perpetrated under the pretence of zeal for liberty, he became
the meanest of all the tools of despotism. It is not easy to settle the
order of precedence among his vices, but we are inclined to think that
his baseness was, on the whole, a rarer and more marvellous thing than
his cruelty.

This is the view which we have long taken of Barere's character; but,
till we read these Memoirs, we held our opinion with the diffidence
which becomes a judge who has only heard one side. The case seemed
strong, and in parts unanswerable; yet we did not know what the accused
party might have to say for himself; and, not being much inclined to
take our fellow-creatures either for angels of light or for angels of
darkness, we could not but feel some suspicion that his offences had
been exaggerated. That suspicion is now at an end. The vindication is
before us. It occupies four volumes. It was the work of forty years. It
would be absurd to suppose that it does not refute every serious charge
which admitted of refutation. How many serious charges, then, are here
refuted? Not a single one. Most of the imputations which have been
thrown on Barere he does not even notice. In such cases, of course,
judgment must go against him by default. The fact is, that nothing can
be more meagre and uninteresting than his account of the great public
transactions in which he was engaged. He gives us hardly a word of
new information respecting the proceedings of the Committee of Public
Safety; and, by way of compensation, tells us long stories about things
which happened before he emerged from obscurity, and after he had again
sunk into it. Nor is this the worst. As soon as he ceases to write
trifles, he begins to write lies; and such lies! A man who has never
been within the tropics does not know what a thunderstorm means; a man
who has never looked on Niagara has but a faint idea of a cataract; and
he who has not read Barere's Memoirs may be said not to know what it
is to lie. Among the numerous classes which make up the great genus
Mendacium, the Mendacium Vasconicum, or Gascon lie, has, during some
centuries, been highly esteemed as peculiarly circumstantial and
peculiarly impudent; and, among the Mendacia Vasconica, the Mendacium
Barerianum is, without doubt, the finest species. It is indeed a superb
variety, and quite throws into the shade some Mendacia which we were
used to regard with admiration. The Mendacium Wraxallianum, for example,
though by no means to be despised, will not sustain the comparison for a
moment. Seriously, we think that M. Hippolyte Carnot is much to blame in
this matter. We can hardly suppose him to be worse read than ourselves
in the history of the Convention, a history which must interest him
deeply, not only as a Frenchman, but also as a son. He must, therefore,
be perfectly aware that many of the most important statements which
these volumes contain are falsehoods, such as Corneille's Dorante, or
Moliere's Scapin, or Colin d'Harleville's Monsieur de Crac would have
been ashamed to utter. We are far, indeed, from holding M. Hippolyte
Carnot answerable for Barere's want of veracity; but M. Hippolyte
Carnot has arranged these Memoirs, has introduced them to the world by
a laudatory preface, has described them as documents of great historical
value, and has illustrated them by notes. We cannot but think that, by
acting thus, he contracted some obligations of which he does not seem
to have been at all aware; and that he ought not to have suffered any
monstrous fiction to go forth under the sanction of his name, without
adding a line at the foot of the page for the purpose of cautioning the
reader.

We will content ourselves at present with pointing out two instances
of Barere's wilful and deliberate mendacity; namely, his account of
the death of Marie Antoinette, and his account of the death of
the Girondists. His account of the death of Marie Antoinette is as
follows:--"Robespierre in his turn proposed that the members of the
Capet family should be banished, and that Marie Antoinette should be
brought to trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal. He would have
been better employed in concerting military measures which might have
repaired our disasters in Belgium, and might have arrested the progress
of the enemies of the Revolution in the west."--(Volume ii. page 312.)

Now, it is notorious that Marie Antoinette was sent before the
Revolutionary Tribunal, not at Robespierre's instance, but in direct
opposition to Robespierre's wishes. We will cite a single authority,
which is quite decisive. Bonaparte, who had no conceivable motive to
disguise the truth, who had the best opportunities of knowing the truth,
and who, after his marriage with the Archduchess, naturally felt an
interest in the fate of his wife's kinswomen, distinctly affirmed that
Robespierre opposed the trying of the Queen. (O'Meara's "Voice from St
Helena", ii. 170.) Who, then, was the person who really did propose that
the Capet family should be banished, and that Marie Antoinette should
be tried? Full information will be found in the "Moniteur". ("Moniteur",
2d, 7th and 9th of August, 1793.) From that valuable record it appears
that, on the first of August 1793, an orator, deputed by the Committee
of Public Safety, addressed the Convention in a long and elaborate
discourse. He asked, in passionate language, how it happened that the
enemies of the Republic still continued to hope for success. "Is it,"
he cried, "because we have too long forgotten the crimes of the Austrian
woman? Is it because we have shown so strange an indulgence to the race
of our ancient tyrants? It is time that this unwise apathy should cease;
it is time to extirpate from the soil of the Republic the last roots of
royalty. As for the children of Louis the conspirator, they are hostages
for the Republic. The charge of their maintenance shall be reduced to
what is necessary for the food and keep of two individuals. The public
treasure shall no longer be lavished on creatures who have too long been
considered as privileged. But behind them lurks a woman who has been the
cause of all the disasters of France, and whose share in every project
adverse to the revolution has long been known. National justice claims
its rights over her. It is to the tribunal appointed for the trial
of conspirators that she ought to be sent. It is only by striking
the Austrian woman that you can make Francis and George, Charles and
William, sensible of the crimes which their ministers and their armies
have committed." The speaker concluded by moving that Marie Antoinette
should be brought to judgment, and should, for that end, be forthwith
transferred to the Conciergerie; and that all the members of the house
of Capet, with the exception of those who were under the sword of the
law, and of the two children of Louis, should be banished from the
French territory. The motion was carried without debate.

Now, who was the person who made this speech and this motion? It was
Barere himself. It is clear, then, that Barere attributed his own mean
insolence and barbarity to one who, whatever his crimes may have been,
was in this matter innocent. The only question remaining is, whether
Barere was misled by his memory, or wrote a deliberate falsehood.

We are convinced that he wrote a deliberate falsehood. His memory is
described by his editors as remarkably good, and must have been bad
indeed if he could not remember such a fact as this. It is true that the
number of murders in which he subsequently bore a part was so great that
he might well confound one with another, that he might well forget what
part of the daily hecatomb was consigned to death by himself, and what
part by his colleagues. But two circumstances make it quite incredible
that the share which he took in the death of Marie Antoinette should
have escaped his recollection. She was one of his earliest victims.
She was one of his most illustrious victims. The most hardened assassin
remembers the first time that he shed blood; and the widow of Louis
was no ordinary sufferer. If the question had been about some milliner,
butchered for hiding in her garret her brother who had let drop a word
against the Jacobin Club--if the question had been about some old nun,
dragged to death for having mumbled what were called fanatical words
over her beads--Barere's memory might well have deceived him. It would
be as unreasonable to expect him to remember all the wretches whom
he slew as all the pinches of snuff that he took. But, though Barere
murdered many hundreds of human beings, he murdered only one Queen. That
he, a small country lawyer, who, a few years before, would have thought
himself honoured by a glance or a word from the daughter of so many
Caesars, should call her the Austrian woman, should send her from jail
to jail, should deliver her over to the executioner, was surely a great
event in his life. Whether he had reason to be proud of it or ashamed of
it, is a question on which we may perhaps differ from his editors; but
they will admit, we think, that he could not have forgotten it.

We, therefore, confidently charge Barere with having written a
deliberate falsehood; and we have no hesitation in saying that we never,
in the course of any historical researches that we have happened to
make, fell in with a falsehood so audacious, except only the falsehood
which we are about to expose.

Of the proceeding against the Girondists, Barere speaks with just
severity. He calls it an atrocious injustice perpetrated against the
legislators of the republic. He complains that distinguished deputies,
who ought to have been readmitted to their seats in the Convention, were
sent to the scaffold as conspirators. The day, he exclaims, was a day
of mourning for France. It mutilated the national representation; it
weakened the sacred principle, that the delegates of the people were
inviolable. He protests that he had no share in the guilt. "I have had,"
he says, "the patience to go through the 'Moniteur', extracting all the
charges brought against deputies, and all the decrees for arresting and
impeaching deputies. Nowhere will you find my name. I never brought a
charge against any of my colleagues, or made a report against any, or
drew up an impeachment against any." (Volume ii. 407.)

Now, we affirm that this is a lie. We affirm that Barere himself took
the lead in the proceedings of the Convention against the Girondists. We
affirm that he, on the twenty-eighth of July 1793, proposed a decree
for bringing nine Girondist deputies to trial, and for putting to death
sixteen other Girondist deputies without any trial at all. We affirm
that, when the accused deputies had been brought to trial, and when some
apprehension arose that their eloquence might produce an effect even on
the Revolutionary Tribunal, Barere did, on the 8th of Brumaire, second
a motion for a decree authorising the tribunal to decide without hearing
out the defence; and, for the truth of every one of these things so
affirmed by us, we appeal to the very "Moniteur" to which Barere has
dared to appeal. ("Moniteur", 31st of July 1793, and Nonidi, first
Decade of Brumaire, in the year 2(?).)

What M. Hippolyte Carnot, knowing, as he must know, that this book
contains such falsehoods as those which we have exposed, can have meant,
when he described it as a valuable addition to our stock of historical
information, passes our comprehension. When a man is not ashamed to tell
lies about events which took place before hundreds of witnesses, and
which are recorded in well-known and accessible books, what credit can
we give to his account of things done in corners? No historian who does
not wish to be laughed at will ever cite the unsupported authority of
Barere as sufficient to prove any fact whatever. The only thing, as far
as we can see, on which these volumes throw any light, is the exceeding
baseness of the author.

So much for the veracity of the Memoirs. In a literary point of view,
they are beneath criticism. They are as shallow, flippant, and affected,
as Barere's oratory in the Convention. They are also, what his oratory
in the Convention was not, utterly insipid. In fact, they are the mere
dregs and rinsings of a bottle of which even the first froth was but of
very questionable flavour.

We will now try to present our readers with a sketch of this man's life.
We shall, of course, make very sparing use indeed of his own Memoirs;
and never without distrust, except where they are confirmed by other
evidence.

Bertrand Barere was born in the year 1755, at Tarbes in Gascony. His
father was the proprietor of a small estate at Vieuzac, in the beautiful
vale of Argeles. Bertrand always loved to be called Barere de Vieuzac,
and flattered himself with the hope that, by the help of this feudal
addition to his name, he might pass for a gentleman. He was educated for
the bar at Toulouse, the seat of one of the most celebrated parliaments
of the kingdom, practised as an advocate with considerable success,
and wrote some small pieces, which he sent to the principal literary
societies in the south of France. Among provincial towns, Toulouse seems
to have been remarkably rich in indifferent versifiers and critics. It
gloried especially in one venerable institution, called the Academy of
the Floral Games. This body held every year a grand meeting which was a
subject of intense interest to the whole city, and at which flowers
of gold and silver were given as prizes for odes, for idyls, and for
something that was called eloquence. These bounties produced of course
the ordinary effect of bounties, and turned people who might have been
thriving attorneys and useful apothecaries into small wits and bad
poets. Barere does not appear to have been so lucky as to obtain any of
these precious flowers; but one of his performances was mentioned with
honour. At Montauban he was more fortunate. The academy of that town
bestowed on him several prizes, one for a panegyric on Louis the
Twelfth, in which the blessings of monarchy and the loyalty of the
French nation were set forth; and another for a panegyric on poor Franc
de Pompignan, in which, as may easily be supposed, the philosophy of the
eighteenth century was sharply assailed. Then Barere found an old stone
inscribed with three Latin words, and wrote a dissertation upon it,
which procured him a seat in a learned Assembly, called the Toulouse
Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions, and Polite Literature. At length the
doors of the Academy of the Floral Games were opened to so much
merit. Barere, in his thirty-third year, took his seat as one of that
illustrious brotherhood, and made an inaugural oration which was greatly
admired. He apologises for recounting these triumphs of his youthful
genius. We own that we cannot blame him for dwelling long on the least
disgraceful portion of his existence. To send in declamations for prizes
offered by provincial academies is indeed no very useful or dignified
employment for a bearded man; but it would have been well if Barere had
always been so employed.

In 1785 he married a young lady of considerable fortune. Whether she was
in other respects qualified to make a home happy, is a point respecting
which we are imperfectly informed. In a little work, entitled
"Melancholy Pages", which was written in 1797, Barere avers that his
marriage was one of mere convenience, that at the altar his heart was
heavy with sorrowful forebodings, that he turned pale as he pronounced
the solemn "Yes," that unbidden tears rolled down his cheeks, that his
mother shared his presentiment, and that the evil omen was accomplished.
"My marriage," he says, "was one of the most unhappy of marriages." So
romantic a tale, told by so noted a liar, did not command our belief. We
were, therefore, not much surprised to discover that, in his Memoirs,
he calls his wife a most amiable woman, and declares that, after he
had been united to her six years, he found her as amiable as ever. He
complains, indeed, that she was too much attached to royalty and to the
old superstition; but he assures us that his respect for her virtues
induced him to tolerate her prejudices. Now Barere, at the time of his
marriage, was himself a Royalist and a Catholic. He had gained one prize
by flattering the Throne, and another by defending the Church. It is
hardly possible, therefore, that disputes about politics or religion
should have embittered his domestic life till some time after he became
a husband. Our own guess is, that his wife was, as he says, a virtuous
and amiable woman, and that she did her best to make him happy during
some years. It seems clear that, when circumstances developed the latent
atrocity of his character, she could no longer endure him, refused to
see him, and sent back his letters unopened. Then it was, we imagine,
that he invented the fable about his distress on his wedding day.

In 1788 Barere paid his first visit to Paris, attended reviews, heard
Laharpe at the Lycaeum, and Condorcet at the Academy of Sciences, stared
at the envoys of Tippoo Sahib, saw the Royal Family dine at Versailles,
and kept a journal in which he noted down adventures and speculations.
Some parts of this journal are printed in the first volume of the work
before us, and are certainly most characteristic. The worst vices of
the writer had not yet shown themselves; but the weakness which was
the parent of those vices appears in every line. His levity, his
inconsistency, his servility, were already what they were to the
last. All his opinions, all his feelings, spin round and round like a
weathercock in a whirlwind. Nay, the very impressions which he receives
through his senses are not the same two days together. He sees Louis
the Sixteenth, and is so much blinded by loyalty as to find his Majesty
handsome. "I fixed my eyes," he says, "with a lively curiosity on his
fine countenance, which I thought open and noble." The next time that
the king appears all is altered. His Majesty's eyes are without the
smallest expression; he has a vulgar laugh which seems like idiocy, an
ignoble figure, an awkward gait, and the look of a big boy ill brought
up. It is the same with more important questions. Barere is for the
parliaments on the Monday and against the parliaments on the Tuesday,
for feudality in the morning and against feudality in the afternoon. One
day he admires the English constitution; then he shudders to think
that, in the struggles by which that constitution had been obtained, the
barbarous islanders had murdered a king, and gives the preference to
the constitution of Bearn. Bearn, he says, has a sublime constitution, a
beautiful constitution. There the nobility and clergy meet in one house,
and the Commons in another. If the houses differ, the King has
the casting vote. A few weeks later we find him raving against the
principles of this sublime and beautiful constitution. To admit deputies
of the nobility and clergy into the legislature is, he says, neither
more nor less than to admit enemies of the nation into the legislature.

In this state of mind, without one settled purpose or opinion, the
slave of the last word, royalist, aristocrat, democrat, according to the
prevailing sentiment of the coffee-house or drawing-room into which he
had just looked, did Barere enter into public life. The States-General
had been summoned. Barere went down to his own province, was there
elected one of the representatives of the Third Estate, and returned to
Paris in May 1789.

A great crisis, often predicted, had at last arrived. In no country,
we conceive, have intellectual freedom and political servitude existed
together so long as in France, during the seventy or eighty years which
preceded the last convocation of the Orders. Ancient abuses and new
theories flourished in equal vigour side by side. The people, having no
constitutional means of checking even the most flagitious misgovernment,
were indemnified for oppression by being suffered to luxuriate in
anarchical speculation, and to deny or ridicule every principle on which
the institutions of the State reposed. Neither those who attribute the
downfall of the old French institutions to the public grievances, nor
those who attribute it to the doctrines of the philosophers, appear
to us to have taken into their view more than one half of the subject.
Grievances as heavy have often been endured without producing a
revolution; doctrines as bold have often been propounded without
producing a revolution. The question, whether the French nation was
alienated from its old polity by the follies and vices of the Viziers
and Sultanas who pillaged and disgraced it, or by the writings of
Voltaire and Rousseau, seems to us as idle as the question whether it
was fire or gunpowder that blew up the mills at Hounslow. Neither
cause would have sufficed alone. Tyranny may last through ages where
discussion is suppressed. Discussion may safely be left free by rulers
who act on popular principles. But combine a press like that of London
with a government like that of St Petersburg; and the inevitable effect
will be an explosion that will shake the world. So it was in France.
Despotism and License, mingling in unblessed union, engendered that
mighty Revolution in which the lineaments of both parents were strangely
blended. The long gestation was accomplished; and Europe saw, with mixed
hope and terror, that agonising travail and that portentous birth.

Among the crowd of legislators which at this conjuncture poured from all
the provinces of France into Paris, Barere made no contemptible figure.
The opinions which he for the moment professed were popular, yet not
extreme. His character was fair; his personal advantages are said to
have been considerable; and, from the portrait which is prefixed
to these Memoirs, and which represents him as he appeared in the
Convention, we would judge that his features must have been strikingly
handsome, though we think that we can read in them cowardice and
meanness very legibly written by the hand of God. His conversation was
lively and easy; his manners remarkably good for a country lawyer. Women
of rank and wit said that he was the only man who, on his first arrival
from a remote province, had that indescribable air which it was supposed
that Paris alone could give. His eloquence, indeed, was by no means so
much admired in the capital as it had been by the ingenious academicians
of Montauban and Toulouse. His style was thought very bad; and very bad,
if a foreigner may venture to judge, it continued to the last. It would,
however, be unjust to deny that he had some talents for speaking and
writing. His rhetoric, though deformed by every imaginable fault of
taste, from bombast down to buffoonery, was not wholly without force
and vivacity. He had also one quality which, in active life, often gives
fourth-rate men an advantage over first-rate men. Whatever he could do,
he could do without effort, at any moment, in any abundance, and on any
side of any question. There was, indeed, a perfect harmony between his
moral character and his intellectual character. His temper was that of
a slave; his abilities were exactly those which qualified him to be a
useful slave. Of thinking to purpose, he was utterly incapable; but he
had wonderful readiness in arranging and expressing thoughts furnished
by others.

In the National Assembly he had no opportunity of displaying the full
extent either of his talents or of his vices. He was indeed eclipsed
by much abler men. He went, as was his habit, with the stream, spoke
occasionally with some success, and edited a journal called the "Point
du Jour", in which the debates of the Assembly were reported.

He at first ranked by no means among the violent reformers. He was not
friendly to that new division of the French territory which was among
the most important changes introduced by the Revolution, and was
especially unwilling to see his native province dismembered. He was
entrusted with the task of framing Reports on the Woods and Forests.
Louis was exceedingly anxious about this matter; for his majesty was a
keen sportsman, and would much rather have gone without the Veto, or
the prerogative of making peace and war, than without his hunting and
shooting. Gentlemen of the royal household were sent to Barere, in
order to intercede for the deer and pheasants. Nor was this intercession
unsuccessful. The reports were so drawn that Barere was afterwards
accused of having dishonestly sacrificed the interests of the public
to the tastes of the court. To one of these reports he had the
inconceivable folly and bad taste to prefix a punning motto from Virgil,
fit only for such essays as he had been in the habit of composing for
the Floral Games--

"Si canimus sylvas, sylvae sint Consule dignae."

This literary foppery was one of the few things in which he was
consistent. Royalist or Girondist, Jacobin or Imperialist, he was always
a Trissotin.

As the monarchical party became weaker and weaker, Barere gradually
estranged himself more and more from it, and drew closer and closer to
the republicans. It would seem that, during this transition, he was for
a time closely connected with the family of Orleans. It is certain
that he was entrusted with the guardianship of the celebrated Pamela,
afterwards Lady Edward Fitzgerald; and it was asserted that he received
during some years a pension of twelve thousand francs from the Palais
Royal.

At the end of September 1791, the labours of the National Assembly
terminated, and those of the first and last Legislative Assembly
commenced.

It had been enacted that no member of the National Assembly should sit
in the Legislative Assembly; a preposterous and mischievous regulation,
to which the disasters which followed must in part be ascribed. In
England, what would be thought of a Parliament which did not contain one
single person who had ever sat in parliament before? Yet it may safely
be affirmed that the number of Englishmen who, never having taken
any share in public affairs, are yet well qualified, by knowledge and
observation, to be members of the legislature is at least a hundred
times as great as the number of Frenchmen who were so qualified in 1791.
How, indeed, should it have been otherwise? In England, centuries of
representative government have made all educated people in some measure
statesmen. In France the National Assembly had probably been composed of
as good materials as were then to be found. It had undoubtedly removed a
vast mass of abuses; some of its members had read and thought much about
theories of government; and others had shown great oratorical talents.
But that kind of skill which is required for the constructing,
launching, and steering of a polity was lamentably wanting; for it is a
kind of skill to which practice contributes more than books. Books are
indeed useful to the politician, as they are useful to the navigator and
to the surgeon. But the real navigator is formed on the waves; the real
surgeon is formed at bedsides; and the conflicts of free states are
the real school of constitutional statesmen. The National Assembly had,
however, now served an apprenticeship of two laborious and eventful
years. It had, indeed, by no means finished its education; but it was
no longer, as on the day when it met, altogether rude to political
functions. Its later proceedings contain abundant proof that the members
had profited by their experience. Beyond all doubt there was not in
France any equal number of persons possessing in an equal degree the
qualities necessary for the judicious direction of public affairs; and,
just at this moment, these legislators, misled by a childish wish to
display their own disinterestedness, deserted the duties which they had
half learned, and which nobody else had learned at all, and left their
hall to a second crowd of novices, who had still to master the first
rudiments of political business. When Barere wrote his Memoirs, the
absurdity of this self-denying ordinance had been proved by events, and
was, we believe, acknowledged by all parties. He accordingly, with his
usual mendacity, speaks of it in terms implying that he had opposed it.
There was, he tells us, no good citizen who did not regret this fatal
vote. Nay, all wise men, he says, wished the National Assembly to
continue its sittings as the first Legislative Assembly. But no
attention was paid to the wishes of the enlightened friends of liberty;
and the generous but fatal suicide was perpetrated. Now the fact is,
that Barere, far from opposing this ill-advised measure, was one of
those who most eagerly supported it; that he described it from the
tribune as wise and magnanimous; that he assigned, as his reasons for
taking this view, some of those phrases in which orators of his class
delight, and which, on all men who have the smallest insight into
politics, produce an effect very similar to that of ipecacuanha.
"Those," he said, "who have framed a constitution for their country are,
so to speak, out of the pale of that social state of which they are the
authors; for creative power is not in the same sphere with that which it
has created."

M. Hippolyte Carnot has noticed this untruth, and attributes it to
mere forgetfulness. We leave it to him to reconcile his very charitable
supposition with what he elsewhere says of the remarkable excellence of
Barere's memory.

Many members of the National Assembly were indemnified for the sacrifice
of legislative power by appointments in various departments of the
public service. Of these fortunate persons Barere was one. A high Court
of Appeal had just been instituted. This court was to sit at Paris: but
its jurisdiction was to extend over the whole realm; and the departments
were to choose the judges. Barere was nominated by the department of the
Upper Pyrenees, and took his seat in the Palace of Justice. He asserts,
and our readers may, if they choose, believe, that it was about this
time in contemplation to make him Minister of the Interior, and that in
order to avoid so grave a responsibility, he obtained permission to pay
a visit to his native place. It is certain that he left Paris early in
the year 1792, and passed some months in the south of France.

In the mean time, it became clear that the constitution of 1791 would
not work. It was, indeed, not to be expected that a constitution new
both in its principles and its details would at first work easily. Had
the chief magistrate enjoyed the entire confidence of the people, had he
performed his part with the utmost zeal, fidelity, and ability--had the
representative body included all the wisest statesmen of France, the
difficulties might still have been found insuperable. But, in fact, the
experiment was made under every disadvantage. The King, very naturally,
hated the constitution. In the Legislative Assembly were men of
genius and men of good intentions, but not a single man of experience.
Nevertheless, if France had been suffered to settle her own affairs
without foreign interference, it is possible that the calamities
which followed might have been averted. The King, who, with many good
qualities, was sluggish and sensual, might have found compensation for
his lost prerogatives in his immense civil list, in his palaces and
hunting grounds, in soups, Perigord pies, and champagne. The people,
finding themselves secure in the enjoyment of the valuable reforms which
the National Assembly had, in the midst of all its errors, effected,
would not have been easily excited by demagogues to acts of atrocity;
or, if acts of atrocity had been committed, those acts would probably
have produced a speedy and violent reaction. Had tolerable quiet been
preserved during a few years, the constitution of 1791 might perhaps
have taken root, might have gradually acquired the strength which
time alone can give, and might, with some modifications which were
undoubtedly needed, have lasted down to the present time. The European
coalition against the Revolution extinguished all hope of such a result.
The deposition of Louis was, in our opinion, the necessary consequence
of that coalition. The question was now no longer, whether the King
should have an absolute Veto or a suspensive Veto, whether there
should be one chamber or two chambers, whether the members of the
representative body should be re-eligible or not; but whether France
should belong to the French. The independence of the nation, the
integrity of the territory, were at stake; and we must say plainly that
we cordially approve of the conduct of those Frenchmen who, at that
conjuncture, resolved, like our own Blake, to play the men for their
country, under whatever form of government their country might fall.

It seems to us clear that the war with the Continental coalition was, on
the side of France, at first a defensive war, and therefore a just war.
It was not a war for small objects, or against despicable enemies. On
the event were staked all the dearest interests of the French people.
Foremost among the threatening powers appeared two great and martial
monarchies, either of which, situated as France then was, might be
regarded as a formidable assailant. It is evident that, under such
circumstances, the French could not, without extreme imprudence,
entrust the supreme administration of their affairs to any person
whose attachment to the national cause admitted of doubt. Now, it is no
reproach to the memory of Louis to say that he was not attached to the
national cause. Had he been so, he would have been something more than
man. He had held absolute power, not by usurpation, but by the accident
of birth, and by the ancient polity of the kingdom. That power he had,
on the whole, used with lenity. He had meant well by his people. He had
been willing to make to them, of his own mere motion, concessions such
as scarcely any other sovereign has ever made except under duress.
He had paid the penalty of faults not his own, of the haughtiness and
ambition of some of his predecessors, of the dissoluteness and baseness
of others. He had been vanquished, taken captive, led in triumph, put in
ward. He had escaped; he had been caught; he had been dragged back like
a runaway galley-slave to the oar. He was still a state prisoner. His
quiet was broken by daily affronts and lampoons. Accustomed from the
cradle to be treated with profound reverence, he was now forced to
command his feelings, while men who, a few months before, had been
hackney writers or country attorneys, sat in his presence with covered
heads, and addressed him in the easy tone of equality. Conscious of
fair intentions, sensible of hard usage, he doubtless detested the
Revolution; and, while charged with the conduct of the war against the
confederates, pined in secret for the sight of the German eagles and
the sound of the German drums. We do not blame him for this. But can
we blame those who, being resolved to defend the work of the National
Assembly against the interference of strangers, were not disposed to
have him at their head in the fearful struggle which was approaching?
We have nothing to say in defence or extenuation of the insolence,
injustice, and cruelty with which, after the victory of the republicans,
he and his family were treated. But this we say, that the French had
only one alternative, to deprive him of the powers of first magistrate,
or to ground their arms and submit patiently to foreign dictation.
The events of the tenth of August sprang inevitably from the league of
Pilnitz. The King's palace was stormed; his guards were slaughtered.
He was suspended from his regal functions; and the Legislative Assembly
invited the nation to elect an extraordinary Convention, with the full
powers which the conjuncture required. To this Convention the members
of the National Assembly were eligible; and Barere was chosen by his own
department.

The Convention met on the 21st of September 1792. The first proceedings
were unanimous. Royalty was abolished by acclamation. No objections
were made to this great change; and no reasons were assigned for it. For
certainly we cannot honour with the name of reasons such apophthegms,
as that kings are in the moral world what monsters are in the physical
world; and that the history of kings is the martyrology of nations. But,
though the discussion was worthy only of a debating club of schoolboys,
the resolution to which the Convention came seems to have been that
which sound policy dictated. In saying this, we do not mean to express
an opinion that a republic is, either in the abstract the best form of
government, or is, under ordinary circumstances, the form of government
best suited to the French people. Our own opinion is, that the best
governments which have ever existed in the world have been limited
monarchies; and that France, in particular, has never enjoyed so much
prosperity and freedom as under a limited monarchy. Nevertheless, we
approve of the vote of the Convention which abolished kingly government.
The interference of foreign powers had brought on a crisis which made
extraordinary measures necessary. Hereditary monarchy may be, and we
believe that it is, a very useful institution in a country like France.
And masts are very useful parts of a ship. But, if the ship is on her
beam-ends, it may be necessary to cut the masts away. When once she has
righted, she may come safe into port under jury rigging, and there
be completely repaired. But, in the meantime, she must be hacked with
unsparing hand, lest that which, under ordinary circumstances, is an
essential part of her fabric should, in her extreme distress, sink her
to the bottom. Even so there are political emergencies in which it is
necessary that governments should be mutilated of their fair proportions
for a time, lest they be cast away forever; and with such an emergency
the Convention had to deal. The first object of a good Frenchman should
have been to save France from the fate of Poland. The first requisite of
a government was entire devotion to the national cause. That requisite
was wanting in Louis; and such a want, at such a moment, could not be
supplied by any public or private virtues. If the king were set aside,
the abolition of kingship necessarily followed. In the state in which
the public mind then was, it would have been idle to think of doing what
our ancestors did in 1688, and what the French Chamber of Deputies did
in 1830. Such an attempt would have failed amidst universal derision and
execration. It would have disgusted all zealous men of all opinions; and
there were then few men who were not zealous. Parties fatigued by long
conflict, and instructed by the severe discipline of that school in
which alone mankind will learn, are disposed to listen to the voice of
a mediator. But when they are in their first heady youth, devoid
of experience, fresh for exertion, flushed with hope, burning with
animosity, they agree only in spurning out of their way the daysman who
strives to take his stand between them and to lay his hand upon them
both. Such was in 1792 the state of France. On one side was the great
name of the heir of Hugh Capet, the thirty-third king of the third
race; on the other side was the great name of the republic. There was
no rallying point save these two. It was necessary to make a choice;
and those, in our opinion, judged well who, waving for the moment all
subordinate questions, preferred independence to subjugation, and the
natal soil to the emigrant camp.

As to the abolition of royalty, and as to the vigorous prosecution of
the war, the whole Convention seemed to be united as one man. But a deep
and broad gulf separated the representative body into two great parties.

On one side were those statesmen who are called, from the name of the
department which some of them represented, the Girondists, and, from
the name of one of their most conspicuous leaders, the Brissotines.
In activity and practical ability, Brissot and Gensonne were the most
conspicuous among them. In parliamentary eloquence, no Frenchman of that
time can be considered as equal to Vergniaud. In a foreign country, and
after the lapse of half a century, some parts of his speeches are still
read with mournful admiration. No man, we are inclined to believe, ever
rose so rapidly to such a height of oratorical excellence. His whole
public life lasted barely two years. This is a circumstance which
distinguishes him from our own greatest speakers, Fox, Burke, Pitt,
Sheridan, Windham, Canning. Which of these celebrated men would now be
remembered as an orator, if he had died two years after he first took
his seat in the House of Commons? Condorcet brought to the Girondist
party a different kind of strength. The public regarded him with justice
as an eminent mathematician, and, with less reason, as a great master of
ethical and political science; the philosophers considered him as their
chief, as the rightful heir, by intellectual descent and by solemn
adoption, of their deceased sovereign D'Alembert. In the same ranks were
found Guadet, Isnard, Barbaroux, Buzot, Louvet, too well known as
the author of a very ingenious and very licentious romance, and more
honourably distinguished by the generosity with which he pleaded for the
unfortunate, and by the intrepidity with which he defied the wicked and
powerful. Two persons whose talents were not brilliant, but who enjoyed
a high reputation for probity and public spirit, Petion and Roland, lent
the whole weight of their names to the Girondist connection. The wife of
Roland brought to the deliberations of her husband's friends masculine
courage and force of thought, tempered by womanly grace and vivacity.
Nor was the splendour of a great military reputation wanting to this
celebrated party. Dumourier, then victorious over the foreign invaders,
and at the height of popular favour, must be reckoned among the allies
of the Gironde.

The errors of the Brissotines were undoubtedly neither few nor small;
but, when we fairly compare their conduct with the conduct of any other
party which acted or suffered during the French Revolution, we are
forced to admit their superiority in every quality except that single
quality which in such times prevails over every other, decision. They
were zealous for the great social reform which had been effected by the
National Assembly; and they were right. For, though that reform was, in
some respects, carried too far, it was a blessing well worth even the
fearful price which has been paid for it. They were resolved to maintain
the independence of their country against foreign invaders; and they
were right. For the heaviest of all yokes is the yoke of the stranger.
They thought that, if Louis remained at their head, they could not
carry on with the requisite energy the conflict against the European
coalition. They therefore concurred in establishing a republican
government; and here, again, they were right. For, in that struggle for
life and death, it would have been madness to trust a hostile or even a
half hearted leader.

Thus far they went along with the revolutionary movement. At this point
they stopped; and, in our judgment, they were right in stopping, as
they had been right in moving. For great ends, and under extraordinary
circumstances, they had concurred in measures which, together with much
good, had necessarily produced much evil; which had unsettled the public
mind; which had taken away from government the sanction of prescription;
which had loosened the very foundations of property and law. They
thought that it was now their duty to prop what it had recently been
their duty to batter. They loved liberty, but liberty associated with
order, with justice, with mercy, and with civilisation. They were
republicans; but they were desirous to adorn their republic with all
that had given grace and dignity to the fallen monarchy. They hoped that
the humanity, the courtesy, the taste, which had done much in old times
to mitigate the slavery of France, would now lend additional charms to
her freedom. They saw with horror crimes exceeding in atrocity those
which had disgraced the infuriated religious factions of the sixteenth
century, perpetrated in the name of reason and philanthropy. They
demanded, with eloquent vehemence, that the authors of the lawless
massacre, which, just before the meeting of the Convention, had
been committed in the prisons of Paris, should be brought to condign
punishment. They treated with just contempt the pleas which have been
set up for that great crime. They admitted that the public danger
was pressing; but they denied that it justified a violation of those
principles of morality on which all society rests. The independence and
honour of France were indeed to be vindicated, but to be vindicated by
triumphs and not by murders.

Opposed to the Girondists was a party which, having been long execrated
throughout the civilised world, has of late--such is the ebb and flow
of opinion--found not only apologists, but even eulogists. We are not
disposed to deny that some members of the Mountain were sincere and
public spirited men. But even the best of them, Carnot, for example, and
Cambon, were far too unscrupulous as to the means which they employed
for the purpose of attaining great ends. In the train of these
enthusiasts followed a crowd, composed of all who, from sensual, sordid,
or malignant motives, wished for a period of boundless license.

When the Convention met, the majority were with the Girondists, and
Barere was with the majority. On the King's trial, indeed, he quitted
the party with which he ordinarily acted, voted with the Mountain, and
spoke against the prisoner with a violence such as few members even of
the Mountain showed.

The conduct of the leading Girondists on that occasion was little
to their honour. Of cruelty, indeed, we fully acquit them; but it is
impossible to acquit them of criminal irresolution and disingenuousness.
They were far, indeed, from thirsting for the blood of Louis: on the
contrary, they were most desirous to protect him. But they were afraid
that, if they went straight forward to their object, the sincerity of
their attachment to republican institutions would be suspected. They
wished to save the King's life, and yet to obtain all the credit of
having been regicides. Accordingly, they traced out for themselves a
crooked course, by which they hoped to attain both their objects. They
first voted the King guilty. They then voted for referring the question
respecting his fate to the whole body of the people. Defeated in this
attempt to rescue him, they reluctantly, and with ill-suppressed shame
and concern, voted for the capital sentence. Then they made a last
attempt in his favour, and voted for respiting the execution. These
zigzag politics produced the effect which any man conversant with public
affairs might have foreseen. The Girondists, instead of attaining both
their ends, failed of both. The Mountain justly charged them with having
attempted to save the King by underhand means. Their own consciences
told them, with equal justice, that their hands had been dipped in the
blood of the most inoffensive and most unfortunate of men. The direct
path was here, as usual, the path not only of honour, but of safety. The
principle on which the Girondists stood as a party was, that the season
for revolutionary violence was over, and that the reign of law and order
ought now to commence. But the proceeding against the King was clearly
revolutionary in its nature. It was not in conformity with the laws.
The only plea for it was, that all ordinary rules of jurisprudence and
morality were suspended by the extreme public danger. This was the very
plea which the Mountain urged in defence of the massacre of September,
and to which, when so urged, the Girondists refused to listen. They
therefore, by voting for the death of the King, conceded to the Mountain
the chief point at issue between the two parties. Had they given a
manful vote against the capital sentence, the regicides would have been
in a minority. It is probable that there would have been an immediate
appeal to force. The Girondists might have been victorious. In the worst
event, they would have fallen with unblemished honour. Thus much
is certain, that their boldness and honesty could not possibly have
produced a worse effect than was actually produced by their timidity and
their stratagems.

Barere, as we have said, sided with the Mountain on this occasion. He
voted against the appeal to the people and against the respite. His
demeanour and his language also were widely different from those of the
Girondists. Their hearts were heavy, and their deportment was that of
men oppressed by sorrow. It was Vergniaud's duty to proclaim the result
of the roll-call. His face was pale, and he trembled with emotion, as in
a low and broken voice he announced that Louis was condemned to death.
Barere had not, it is true, yet attained to full perfection in the art
of mingling jests and conceits with words of death; but he already gave
promise of his future excellence in this high department of Jacobin
oratory. He concluded his speech with a sentence worthy of his head and
heart. "The tree of liberty," he said, "as an ancient author remarks,
flourishes when it is watered with the blood of all classes of tyrants."
M. Hippolyte Carnot has quoted this passage in order, as we suppose, to
do honour to his hero. We wish that a note had been added to inform us
from what ancient author Barere quoted. In the course of our own small
reading among the Greek and Latin writers, we have not happened to fall
in with trees of liberty and watering-pots full of blood; nor can we,
such is our ignorance of classical antiquity, even imagine an Attic or
Roman orator employing imagery of that sort. In plain words, when Barere
talked about an ancient author, he was lying, as he generally was when
he asserted any fact, great or small. Why he lied on this occasion we
cannot guess, unless indeed it was to keep his hand in.

It is not improbable that, but for the one circumstance, Barere would,
like most of those with whom he ordinarily acted, have voted for
the appeal to the people and for the respite. But, just before the
commencement of the trial, papers had been discovered which proved that,
while a member of the National Assembly, he had been in communication
with the Court respecting his Reports on the Woods and Forests. He
was acquitted of all criminality by the Convention; but the fiercer
Republicans considered him as a tool of the fallen monarch; and this
reproach was long repeated in the journal of Marat, and in the speeches
at the Jacobin club. It was natural that a man like Barere should,
under such circumstances, try to distinguish himself among the crowd of
regicides by peculiar ferocity. It was because he had been a royalist
that he was one of the foremost in shedding blood.

The King was no more. The leading Girondists had, by their conduct
towards him, lowered their character in the eyes both of friends and
foes. They still, however, maintained the contest against the Mountain,
called for vengeance on the assassins of September, and protested
against the anarchical and sanguinary doctrines of Marat. For a time
they seemed likely to prevail. As publicists and orators, they had no
rivals in the Convention. They had with them, beyond all doubt, the
great majority both of the deputies and of the French nation. These
advantages, it should seem, ought to have decided the event of the
struggle. But the opposite party had compensating advantages of a
different kind. The chiefs of the Mountain, though not eminently
distinguished by eloquence or knowledge, had great audacity, activity,
and determination. The Convention and France were against them; but the
mob of Paris, the clubs of Paris, and the municipal government of Paris,
were on their side.

The policy of the Jacobins, in this situation, was to subject France
to an aristocracy infinitely worse than that aristocracy which had
emigrated with the count of Artois--to an aristocracy not of birth, not
of wealth, not of education, but of mere locality. They would not hear
of privileged orders; but they wished to have a privileged city. That
twenty-five millions of Frenchmen should be ruled by a hundred thousand
gentlemen and clergymen was insufferable; but that twenty-five millions
of Frenchmen should be ruled by a hundred thousand Parisians was as it
should be. The qualification of a member of the new oligarchy was simply
that he should live near the hall where the Convention met, and should
be able to squeeze himself daily into the gallery during a debate, and
now and then to attend with a pike for the purpose of blockading the
doors. It was quite agreeable to the maxims of the Mountain that a
score of draymen from Santerre's brewery, or of devils from Hebert's
printing-house, should be permitted to drown the voices of men
commissioned to speak the sense of such cities as Marseilles, Bordeaux,
and Lyons; and that a rabble of half-naked porters from the Faubourg St
Antoine should have power to annul decrees for which the representatives
of fifty or sixty departments had voted. It was necessary to find some
pretext for so odious and absurd a tyranny. Such a pretext was found.
To the old phrases of liberty and equality were added the sonorous
watchwords, unity and indivisability. A new crime was invented, and
called by the name of federalism. The object of the Girondists, it
was asserted, was to break up the great nation into little independent
commonwealths, bound together only by a league like that which connects
the Swiss Cantons or the United States of America. The great obstacle
in the way of this pernicious design was the influence of Paris. To
strengthen the influence of Paris ought therefore to be the chief object
of every patriot.

The accusation brought against the leaders of the Girondist party was a
mere calumny. They were undoubtedly desirous to prevent the capital from
domineering over the republic, and would gladly have seen the Convention
removed for a time to some provincial town, or placed under the
protection of a trusty guard, which might have overawed the Parisian
mob; but there is not the slightest reason to suspect them of any
design against the unity of the state. Barere, however, really was a
federalist, and, we are inclined to believe, the only federalist in the
Convention. As far as a man so unstable and servile can be said to have
felt any preference for any form of government, he felt a preference for
federal government. He was born under the Pyrenees; he was a Gascon of
the Gascons, one of a people strongly distinguished by intellectual
and moral character, by manners, by modes of speech, by accent, and by
physiognomy, from the French of the Seine and of the Loire; and he had
many of the peculiarities of the race to which he belonged. When he
first left his own province he had attained his thirty-fourth year, and
had acquired a high local reputation for eloquence and literature. He
had then visited Paris for the first time. He had found himself in a new
world. His feelings were those of a banished man. It is clear also that
he had been by no means without his share of the small disappointments
and humiliations so often experienced by men of letters who, elated
by provincial applause, venture to display their powers before the
fastidious critics of a capital. On the other hand, whenever he
revisited the mountains among which he had been born, he found
himself an object of general admiration. His dislike of Paris, and his
partiality to his native district, were therefore as strong and durable
as any sentiments of a mind like his could be. He long continued to
maintain that the ascendency of one great city was the bane of France;
that the superiority of taste and intelligence which it was the fashion
to ascribe to the inhabitants of that city were wholly imaginary; and
that the nation would never enjoy a really good government till the
Alsatian people, the Breton people, the people of Bearn, the people of
Provence, should have each an independent existence, and laws suited to
its own tastes and habits. These communities he proposed to unite by
a tie similar to that which binds together the grave Puritans of
Connecticut and the dissolute slave-drivers of New Orleans. To Paris
he was unwilling to grant even the rank which Washington holds in the
United States. He thought it desirable that the congress of the French
federation should have no fixed place of meeting, but should sit
sometimes at Rouen, sometimes at Bordeaux, sometimes at his own
Toulouse.

Animated by such feelings, he was, till the close of May 1793, a
Girondist, if not an ultra-Girondist. He exclaimed against those impure
and bloodthirsty men who wished to make the public danger a pretext for
cruelty and rapine. "Peril," he said, "could be no excuse for crime. It
is when the wind blows hard, and the waves run high, that the anchor is
most needed; it is when a revolution is raging, that the great laws of
morality are most necessary to the safety of a state." Of Marat he spoke
with abhorrence and contempt; of the municipal authorities of Paris with
just severity. He loudly complained that there were Frenchmen who paid
to the Mountain that homage which was due to the Convention alone. When
the establishment of the Revolutionary Tribunal was first proposed, he
joined himself to Vergniaud and Buzot, who strongly objected to that
odious measure. "It cannot be," exclaimed Barere, "that men really
attached to liberty will imitate the most frightful excesses of
despotism!" He proved to the Convention, after his fashion, out of
Sallust, that such arbitrary courts may indeed, for a time, be severe
only on real criminals, but must inevitably degenerate into instruments
of private cupidity and revenge. When, on the tenth of March, the worst
part of the population of Paris made the first unsuccessful attempt to
destroy the Girondists, Barere eagerly called for vigorous measures of
repression and punishment. On the second of April, another attempt of
the Jacobins of Paris to usurp supreme dominion over the republic was
brought to the knowledge of the Convention; and again Barere spoke with
warmth against the new tyranny which afflicted France, and declared that
the people of the departments would never crouch beneath the tyranny of
one ambitious city. He even proposed a resolution to the effect that the
Convention would exert against the demagogues of the capital the same
energy which had been exerted against the tyrant Louis. We are assured
that, in private as in public, he at this time uniformly spoke with
strong aversion of the Mountain.

His apparent zeal for the cause of humanity and order had its reward.
Early in April came the tidings of Dumourier's defection. This was a
heavy blow to the Girondists. Dumourier was their general. His victories
had thrown a lustre on the whole party; his army, it had been hoped,
would, in the worst event, protect the deputies of the nation against
the ragged pikemen of the garrets of Paris. He was now a deserter and
an exile; and those who had lately placed their chief reliance on
his support were compelled to join with their deadliest enemies in
execrating his treason. At this perilous conjuncture, it was resolved
to appoint a Committee of Public Safety, and to arm that committee with
powers, small indeed when compared with those which it afterwards drew
to itself, but still great and formidable. The moderate party, regarding
Barere as a representative of their feelings and opinions, elected him
a member. In his new situation he soon began to make himself useful. He
brought to the deliberations of the Committee, not indeed the knowledge
or the ability of a great statesman, but a tongue and a pen which, if
others would only supply ideas, never paused for want of words. His mind
was a mere organ of communication between other minds. It originated
nothing; it retained nothing; but it transmitted everything. The
post assigned to him by his colleagues was not really of the highest
importance; but it was prominent, and drew the attention of all Europe.
When a great measure was to be brought forward, when an account was to
be rendered of an important event, he was generally the mouthpiece of
the administration. He was therefore not unnaturally considered, by
persons who lived at a distance from the seat of government, and above
all by foreigners, who, while the war raged, knew France only from
journals, as the head of that administration of which, in truth, he
was only the secretary and the spokesman. The author of the History of
Europe, in our own Annual Registers, appears to have been completely
under this delusion.

The conflict between the hostile parties was meanwhile fast approaching
to a crisis. The temper of Paris grew daily fiercer and fiercer.
Delegates appointed by thirty-five of the forty-eight wards of the city
appeared at the bar of the Convention, and demanded that Vergniaud,
Brissot, Guadet, Gensonne, Barbaroux, Buzot, Petion, Louvet, and many
other deputies, should be expelled. This demand was disapproved by at
least three-fourths of the Assembly, and, when known in the departments,
called forth a general cry of indignation. Bordeaux declared that it
would stand by its representatives, and would, if necessary, defend them
by the sword against the tyranny of Paris. Lyons and Marseilles were
animated by a similar spirit. These manifestations of public opinion
gave courage to the majority of the Convention. Thanks were voted to
the people of Bordeaux for their patriotic declaration; and a
commission consisting of twelve members was appointed for the purpose of
investigating the conduct of the municipal authorities of Paris, and was
empowered to place under arrest such persons as should appear to have
been concerned in any plot against the authority of the Convention. This
measure was adopted on the motion of Barere.

A few days of stormy excitement and profound anxiety followed; and then
came the crash. On the thirty-first of May the mob of Paris rose; the
palace of the Tuileries was besieged by a vast array of pikes; the
majority of the deputies, after vain struggles and remonstrances,
yielded to violence, and suffered the Mountain to carry a decree for the
suspension and arrest of the deputies whom the wards of the capital had
accused.

During this contest, Barere had been tossed backwards and forwards
between the two raging factions. His feelings, languid and unsteady as
they always were, drew him to the Girondists; but he was awed by the
vigour and determination of the Mountain. At one moment he held high
and firm language, complained that the Convention was not free, and
protested against the validity of any vote passed under coercion. At
another moment he proposed to conciliate the Parisians by abolishing
that commission of twelve which he had himself proposed only a few days
before; and himself drew up a paper condemning the very measures which
had been adopted at his own instance, and eulogising the public spirit
of the insurgents. To do him justice, it was not without some symptoms
of shame that he read his document from the tribune, where he had so
often expressed very different sentiments. It is said that, at some
passages, he was even seen to blush. It may have been so; he was still
in his novitiate of infamy.

Some days later he proposed that hostages for the personal safety of the
accused deputies should be sent to the departments, and offered to be
himself one of those hostages. Nor do we in the least doubt that the
offer was sincere. He would, we firmly believe, have thought himself far
safer at Bordeaux or Marseilles than at Paris. His proposition, however,
was not carried into effect; and he remained in the power of the
victorious Mountain.

This was the great crisis of his life. Hitherto he had done nothing
inexpiable, nothing which marked him out as a much worse man than most
of his colleagues in the Convention. His voice had generally been on
the side of moderate measures. Had he bravely cast in his lot with the
Girondists, and suffered with them, he would, like them, have had a not
dishonourable place in history. Had he, like the great body of deputies
who meant well, but who had not the courage to expose themselves
to martyrdom, crouched quietly under the dominion of the triumphant
minority, and suffered every motion of Robespierre and Billaud to
pass unopposed, he would have incurred no peculiar ignominy. But it is
probable that this course was not open to him. He had been too prominent
among the adversaries of the Mountain to be admitted to quarter without
making some atonement. It was necessary that, if he hoped to find pardon
from his new lords, he should not be merely a silent and passive
slave. What passed in private between him and them cannot be accurately
related; but the result was soon apparent. The Committee of Public
Safety was renewed. Several of the fiercest of the dominant faction,
Couthon for example, and Saint Just, were substituted for more moderate
politicians; but Barere was suffered to retain his seat at the Board.

The indulgence with which he was treated excited the murmurs of some
stern and ardent zealots. Marat, in the very last words that he wrote,
words not published till the dagger of Charlotte Corday had avenged
France and mankind, complained that a man who had no principles, who was
always on the side of the strongest, who had been a royalist, and who
was ready, in case of a turn of fortune, to be a royalist again, should
be entrusted with an important share in the administration. (See the
"Publiciste" of the 14th July, 1793. Marat was stabbed on the evening
of the 13th.) But the chiefs of the Mountain judged more correctly. They
knew, indeed, as well as Marat, that Barere was a man utterly without
faith or steadiness; that, if he could be said to have any political
leaning, his leaning was not towards them; that he felt for the
Girondist party that faint and wavering sort of preference of which
alone his nature was susceptible; and that, if he had been at liberty
to make his choice, he would rather have murdered Robespierre and Danton
than Vergniaud and Gensonne. But they justly appreciated that levity
which made him incapable alike of earnest love and of earnest hatred,
and that meanness which made it necessary to him to have a master. In
truth, what the planters of Carolina and Louisiana say of black men with
flat noses and woolly hair was strictly true of Barere. The curse of
Canaan was upon him. He was born a slave. Baseness was an instinct in
him. The impulse which drove him from a party in adversity to a party in
prosperity was as irresistible as that which drives the cuckoo and the
swallow towards the sun when the dark and cold months are approaching.
The law which doomed him to be the humble attendant of stronger spirits
resembled the law which binds the pilot fish to the shark. "Ken ye,"
said a shrewd Scotch lord, who was asked his opinion of James the
First--"Ken ye a John Ape? If I have Jacko by the collar, I can make him
bite you; but, if you have Jacko, you can make him bite me." Just such
a creature was Barere. In the hands of the Girondists he would have been
eager to proscribe the Jacobins; he was just as ready, in the gripe of
the Jacobins, to proscribe the Girondists. On the fidelity of such a man
the heads of the Mountain could not, of course, reckon; but they
valued their conquest as the very easy and not very delicate lover
in Congreve's lively song valued the conquest of a prostitute of a
different kind. Barere was, like Chloe, false and common; but he was,
like Chloe, constant while possessed; and they asked no more. They
needed a service which he was perfectly competent to perform. Destitute
as he was of all the talents both of an active and of a speculative
statesman, he could with great facility draw up a report, or make a
speech on any subject and on any side. If other people would furnish
facts and thoughts, he could always furnish phrases; and this talent was
absolutely at the command of his owners for the time being. Nor had
he excited any angry passion among those to whom he had hitherto been
opposed. They felt no more hatred to him than they felt to the horses
which dragged the cannon of the Duke of Brunswick and of the Prince
of Saxe-Coburg. The horses had only done according to their kind, and
would, if they fell into the hands of the French, drag with equal vigour
and equal docility the guns of the republic, and therefore ought not
merely to be spared, but to be well fed and curried. So was it with
Barere. He was of a nature so low, that it might be doubted whether he
could properly be an object of the hostility of reasonable beings.
He had not been an enemy; he was not now a friend. But he had been an
annoyance; and he would now be a help.

But, though the heads of the Mountain pardoned this man, and admitted
him into partnership with themselves, it was not without exacting
pledges such as made it impossible for him, false and fickle as he was,
ever again to find admission into the ranks which he had deserted. That
was truly a terrible sacrament by which they admitted the apostate into
their communion. They demanded of him that he should himself take the
most prominent part in murdering his old friends. To refuse was as much
as his life was worth. But what is life worth when it is only one long
agony of remorse and shame? These, however, are feelings of which it
is idle to talk, when we are considering the conduct of such a man
as Barere. He undertook the task, mounted the tribune, and told the
Convention that the time was come for taking the stern attitude of
justice, and for striking at all conspirators without distinction. He
then moved that Buzot, Barbaroux, Petion, and thirteen other deputies,
should be placed out of the pale of the law, or, in other words,
beheaded without a trial; and that Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonne, and six
others, should be impeached. The motion was carried without debate.

We have already seen with what effrontery Barere has denied, in these
Memoirs, that he took any part against the Girondists. This denial, we
think, was the only thing wanting to make his infamy complete. The most
impudent of all lies was a fit companion for the foulest of all murders.

Barere, however, had not yet earned his pardon. The Jacobin party
contained one gang which, even in that party, was pre-eminent in every
mean and every savage vice; a gang so low-minded and so inhuman
that, compared with them, Robespierre might be called magnanimous and
merciful. Of these wretches Hebert was perhaps the best representative.
His favourite amusement was to torment and insult the miserable remains
of that great family which, having ruled France during eight hundred
years, had now become an object of pity to the humblest artisan or
peasant. The influence of this man, and of men like him, induced the
Committee of Public Safety to determine that Marie Antoinette should be
sent to the scaffold. Barere was again summoned to his duty. Only four
days after he had proposed the decrees against the Girondist deputies
he again mounted the tribune, in order to move that the Queen should be
brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal. He was improving fast in the
society of his new allies. When he asked for the heads of Vergniaud and
Petion he had spoken like a man who had some slight sense of his own
guilt and degradation: he had said little; and that little had not been
violent. The office of expatiating on the guilt of his old friends he
had left to Saint Just. Very different was Barere's second appearance
in the character of an accuser. He now cried out for blood in the eager
tones of the true and burning thirst, and raved against the Austrian
woman with the virulence natural to a coward who finds himself at
liberty to outrage that which he has feared and envied. We have already
exposed the shameless mendacity with which, in these Memoirs, he
attempts to throw the blame of his own guilt on the guiltless.

On the day on which the fallen Queen was dragged, already more than half
dead, to her doom, Barere regaled Robespierre and some other Jacobins
at a tavern. Robespierre's acceptance of the invitation caused some
surprise to those who knew how long and how bitterly it was his nature
to hate. "Robespierre of the party!" muttered Saint Just. "Barere is
the only man whom Robespierre has forgiven." We have an account of
this singular repast from one of the guests. Robespierre condemned the
senseless brutality with which Hebert had conducted the proceedings
against the Austrian woman, and, in talking on that subject, became
so much excited that he broke his plate in the violence of his
gesticulation. Barere exclaimed that the guillotine had cut a diplomatic
knot which it might have been difficult to untie. In the intervals
between the Beaune and the Champagne, between the ragout of thrushes
and the partridge with truffles, he fervently preached his new political
creed. "The vessel of the revolution," he said, "can float into port
only on waves of blood. We must begin with the members of the National
Assembly and of the Legislative Assembly. That rubbish must be swept
away."

As he talked at table he talked in the Convention. His peculiar style
of oratory was now formed. It was not altogether without ingenuity and
liveliness. But in any other age or country it would have been thought
unfit for the deliberations of a grave assembly, and still more
unfit for state papers. It might, perhaps, succeed at a meeting of a
Protestant Association in Exeter Hall, at a Repeal dinner in Ireland,
after men had well drunk, or in an American oration on the fourth of
July. No legislative body would now endure it. But in France, during
the reign of the Convention, the old laws of composition were held in as
much contempt as the old government or the old creed. Correct and noble
diction belonged, like the etiquette of Versailles and the solemnities
of Notre Dame, to an age which had passed away. Just as a swarm of
ephemeral constitutions, democratic, directorial, and consular,
sprang from the decay of the ancient monarchy; just as a swarm of new
superstitions, the worship of the Goddess of Reason, and the fooleries
of the Theo-philanthropists, sprang from the decay of the ancient
Church; even so, out of the decay of the ancient French eloquence sprang
new fashions of eloquence, for the understanding of which new grammars
and dictionaries were necessary. The same innovating spirit which
altered the common phrases of salutation, which turned hundreds of Johns
and Peters into Scaevolas and Aristogitons, and which expelled Sunday
and Monday, January and February, Lady-day and Christmas, from the
calendar, in order to substitute Decadi and Primidi, Nivose and
Pluviose, Feasts of Opinion and Feasts of the Supreme Being, changed all
the forms of official correspondence. For the calm, guarded, and sternly
courteous language which governments had long been accustomed to employ,
were substituted puns, interjections, Ossianic rants, rhetoric worthy
only of a schoolboy, scurrility worthy only of a fishwife. Of the
phraseology which was now thought to be peculiarly well suited to a
report or a manifesto Barere had a greater command than any man of his
time, and, during the short and sharp paroxysm of the revolutionary
delirium, passed for a great orator. When the fit was over, he was
considered as what he really was, a man of quick apprehension and fluent
elocution, with no originality, with little information, and with
a taste as bad as his heart. His Reports were popularly called
Carmagnoles. A few months ago we should have had some difficulty in
conveying to an English reader an exact notion of the state papers to
which this appellation was given. Fortunately a noble and distinguished
person, whom her Majesty's Ministers have thought qualified to fill the
most important post in the empire, has made our task easy. Whoever has
read Lord Ellenborough's proclamations is able to form a complete idea
of a Carmagnole.

The effect which Barere's discourses at one time produced is not to be
wholly attributed to the perversion of the national taste. The occasions
on which he rose were frequently such as would have secured to the
worst speaker a favourable hearing. When any military advantage had been
gained, he was generally deputed by the Committee of Public Safety to
announce the good news. The hall resounded with applause as he mounted
the tribune, holding the despatches in his hand. Deputies and strangers
listened with delight while he told them that victory was the order
of the day; that the guineas of Pitt had been vainly lavished to hire
machines six feet high, carrying guns; that the flight of the English
leopard deserved to be celebrated by Tyrtaeus; and that the saltpetre
dug out of the cellars of Paris had been turned into thunder, which
would crush the Titan brethren, George and Francis.

Meanwhile the trial of the accused Girondists, who were under arrest in
Paris, came on. They flattered themselves with a vain hope of escape.
They placed some reliance on their innocence, and some reliance on their
eloquence. They thought that shame would suffice to restrain any
man, however violent and cruel, from publicly committing the flagrant
iniquity of condemning them to death. The Revolutionary Tribunal was new
to its functions. No member of the Convention had yet been executed;
and it was probable that the boldest Jacobin would shrink from being
the first to violate the sanctity which was supposed to belong to the
representatives of the people.

The proceedings lasted some days. Gensonne and Brissot defended
themselves with great ability and presence of mind against the vile
Hebert and Chaumette, who appeared as accusers. The eloquent voice of
Vergniaud was heard for the last time. He pleaded his own cause and that
of his friends, with such force of reason and elevation of sentiment
that a murmur of pity and admiration rose from the audience. Nay, the
court itself, not yet accustomed to riot in daily carnage, showed signs
of emotion. The sitting was adjourned; and a rumour went forth that
there would be an acquittal. The Jacobins met, breathing vengeance.
Robespierre undertook to be their organ. He rose on the following day in
the Convention, and proposed a decree of such atrocity that even among
the acts of that year it can hardly be paralleled. By this decree the
tribunal was empowered to cut short the defence of the prisoners, to
pronounce the case clear, and to pass immediate judgment. One deputy
made a faint opposition. Barere instantly sprang up to support
Robespierre--Barere, the federalist; Barere, the author of that
Commission of Twelve which was among the chief causes of the hatred
borne by Paris to the Girondists; Barere, who in these Memoirs denies
that he ever took any part against the Girondists; Barere, who has the
effrontery to declare that he greatly loved and esteemed Vergniaud. The
decree was passed; and the tribunal, without suffering the prisoners to
conclude what they had to say, pronounced them guilty.

The following day was the saddest in the sad history of the Revolution.
The sufferers were so innocent, so brave, so eloquent, so accomplished,
so young. Some of them were graceful and handsome youths of six or seven
and twenty. Vergniaud and Gensonne were little more than thirty. They
had been only a few months engaged in public affairs. In a few months
the fame of their genius had filled Europe; and they were to die for
no crime but this, that they had wished to combine order, justice, and
mercy with freedom. Their great fault was want of courage. We mean want
of political courage--of that courage which is proof to clamour and
obloquy, and which meets great emergencies by daring and decisive
measures. Alas! they had but too good an opportunity of proving that
they did not want courage to endure with manly cheerfulness the worst
that could be inflicted by such tyrants as Saint Just, and such slaves
as Barere.

They were not the only victims of the noble cause. Madame Roland
followed them to the scaffold with a spirit as heroic as their own. Her
husband was in a safe hiding-place, but could not bear to survive her.
His body was found on the high road near Rouen. He had fallen on his
sword. Condorcet swallowed opium. At Bordeaux the steel fell on the
necks of the bold and quick-witted Guadet and of Barbaroux, the chief
of those enthusiasts from the Rhone whose valour, in the great crisis of
the tenth of August, had turned back the tide of battle from the Louvre
to the Tuileries. In a field near the Garonne was found all that the
wolves had left of Petion, once honoured, greatly indeed beyond his
deserts, as the model of republican virtue. We are far from regarding
even the best of the Girondists with unmixed admiration; but history
owes to them this honourable testimony, that, being free to choose
whether they would be oppressors or victims, they deliberately and
firmly resolved rather to suffer injustice than to inflict it.

And now began that strange period known by the name of the Reign of
Terror. The Jacobins had prevailed. This was their hour, and the power
of darkness. The Convention was subjugated and reduced to profound
silence on the highest questions of state. The sovereignty passed to the
Committee of Public Safety. To the edicts framed by that Committee the
representative assembly did not venture to offer even the species of
opposition which the ancient parliament had frequently offered to the
mandates of the ancient kings. Six persons held the chief power in the
small cabinet which now domineered over France--Robespierre, Saint Just,
Couthon, Collot, Billaud, and Barere.

To some of these men, and of those who adhered to them, it is due to say
that the fanaticism which had emancipated them from the restraints of
justice and compassion had emancipated them also from the dominion of
vulgar cupidity and of vulgar fear; that, while hardly knowing where to
find an assignat of a few francs to pay for a dinner, they expended with
strict integrity the immense revenue which they collected by every art
of rapine; and that they were ready, in support of their cause, to mount
the scaffold with as much indifference as they showed when they signed
the death-warrants of aristocrats and priests. But no great party can be
composed of such materials as these. It is the inevitable law that such
zealots as we have described shall collect around them a multitude
of slaves, of cowards, and of libertines, whose savage tempers and
licentious appetites, withheld only by the dread of law and magistracy
from the worst excesses, are called into full activity by the hope of
immunity. A faction which, from whatever motive, relaxes the great laws
of morality is certain to be joined by the most immoral part of the
community. This has been repeatedly proved in religious wars. The war
of the Holy Sepulchre, the Albigensian war, the Huguenot war, the
Thirty Years' war, all originated in pious zeal. That zeal inflamed
the champions of the Church to such a point that they regarded all
generosity to the vanquished as a sinful weakness. The infidel, the
heretic, was to be run down like a mad dog. No outrage committed by the
Catholic warrior on the miscreant enemy could deserve punishment. As
soon as it was known that boundless license was thus given to barbarity
and dissoluteness, thousands of wretches who cared nothing for the
sacred cause, but who were eager to be exempted from the police of
peaceful cities, and the discipline of well-governed camps, flocked
to the standard of the faith. The men who had set up that statute were
sincere, chaste, regardless of lucre, and perhaps, where only themselves
were concerned, not unforgiving; but round that standard were assembled
such gangs of rogues, ravishers, plunderers, and ferocious bravoes, as
were scarcely ever found under the flag of any state engaged in a mere
temporal quarrel. In a very similar way was the Jacobin party composed.
There was a small nucleus of enthusiasts; round that nucleus was
gathered a vast mass of ignoble depravity; and in all that mass there
was nothing so depraved and so ignoble as Barere.

Then came those days when the most barbarous of all codes was
administered by the most barbarous of all tribunals; when no man could
greet his neighbours, or say his prayers, or dress his hair, without
danger of committing a capital crime; when spies lurked in every corner;
when the guillotine was long and hard at work every morning; when the
jails were filled as close as the hold of a slave-ship; when the
gutters ran foaming with blood into the Seine; when it was death to
be great-niece of a captain of the royal guards, or half-brother of a
doctor of the Sorbonne, to express a doubt whether assignats would not
fall, to hint that the English had been victorious in the action of the
first of June, to have a copy of one of Burke's pamphlets locked up in a
desk, to laugh at a Jacobin for taking the name of Cassius or Timoleon,
or to call the Fifth Sansculottide by its old superstitious name of St
Matthew's Day. While the daily waggon-loads of victims were carried
to their doom through the streets of Paris, the Proconsuls whom the
sovereign Committee had sent forth to the departments revelled in an
extravagance of cruelty unknown even in the capital. The knife of the
deadly machine rose and fell too slow for their work of slaughter. Long
rows of captives were mowed down with grapeshot. Holes were made in the
bottom of crowded barges. Lyons was turned into a desert. At Arras even
the cruel mercy of a speedy death was denied to the prisoners. All
down the Loire, from Saumur to the sea, great flocks of crows and kites
feasted on naked corpses, twined together in hideous embraces. No
mercy was shown to sex or age. The number of young lads and of girls
of seventeen who were murdered by that execrable government is to be
reckoned by hundreds. Babies torn from the breast were tossed from pike
to pike along the Jacobin ranks. One champion of liberty had his pockets
well stuffed with ears. Another swaggered about with the finger of a
little child in his hat. A few months had sufficed to degrade France
below the level of New Zealand.

It is absurd to say that any amount of public danger can justify a
system like this, we do not say on Christian principles, we do not
say on the principles of a high morality, but even on principles
of Machiavellian policy. It is true that great emergencies call for
activity and vigilance; it is true that they justify severity which, in
ordinary times, would deserve the name of cruelty. But indiscriminate
severity can never, under any circumstances, be useful. It is plain
that the whole efficacy of punishment depends on the care with which the
guilty are distinguished. Punishment which strikes the guilty and the
innocent promiscuously, operates merely like a pestilence or a great
convulsion of nature, and has no more tendency to prevent offences
than the cholera, or an earthquake like that of Lisbon, would have. The
energy for which the Jacobin administration is praised was merely the
energy of the Malay who maddens himself with opium, draws his knife, and
runs amuck through the streets, slashing right and left at friends
and foes. Such has never been the energy of truly great rulers; of
Elizabeth, for example, of Oliver, or of Frederick. They were not,
indeed, scrupulous. But, had they been less scrupulous than they were,
the strength and amplitude of their minds would have preserved them
from crimes such as those which the small men of the Committee of Public
Safety took for daring strokes of policy. The great Queen who so long
held her own against foreign and domestic enemies, against temporal and
spiritual arms; the great Protector who governed with more than regal
power, in despite both of royalists and republicans; the great King
who, with a beaten army and an exhausted treasury, defended his little
dominions to the last against the united efforts of Russia, Austria, and
France; with what scorn would they have heard that it was impossible for
them to strike a salutary terror into the disaffected without sending
school-boys and school-girls to death by cart-loads and boat-loads!

The popular notion is, we believe, that the leading Terrorists were
wicked men, but, at the same time, great men. We can see nothing great
about them but their wickedness. That their policy was daringly original
is a vulgar error. Their policy is as old as the oldest accounts which
we have of human misgovernment. It seemed new in France and in the
eighteenth century only because it had been long disused, for excellent
reasons, by the enlightened part of mankind. But it has always
prevailed, and still prevails, in savage and half-savage nations, and is
the chief cause which prevents such nations from making advances towards
civilisation. Thousands of deys, of beys, of pachas, of rajahs, of
nabobs, have shown themselves as great masters of statecraft as the
members of the Committee of Public Safety. Djezzar, we imagine, was
superior to any of them in their new line. In fact, there is not a petty
tyrant in Asia or Africa so dull or so unlearned as not to be fully
qualified for the business of Jacobin police and Jacobin finance.
To behead people by scores without caring whether they are guilty or
innocent; to wring money out of the rich by the help of jailers and
executioners; to rob the public creditor, and to put him to death if
he remonstrates; to take loaves by force out of the bakers' shops; to
clothe and mount soldiers by seizing on one man's wool and linen, and on
another man's horses and saddles, without compensation; is of all
modes of governing the simplest and most obvious. Of its morality we at
present say nothing. But surely it requires no capacity beyond that of
a barbarian or a child. By means like those which we have described, the
Committee of Public Safety undoubtedly succeeded, for a short time, in
enforcing profound submission, and in raising immense funds. But to en
force submission by butchery, and to raise funds by spoliation, is not
statesmanship. The real statesman is he who, in troubled times, keeps
down the turbulent without unnecessarily harrassing the well-affected;
and who, when great pecuniary resources are needed, provides for the
public exigencies without violating the security of property and drying
up the sources of future prosperity. Such a statesman, we are confident,
might, in 1793, have preserved the independence of France without
shedding a drop of innocent blood, without plundering a single
warehouse. Unhappily, the Republic was subject to men who were mere
demagogues and in no sense statesmen. They could declaim at a club. They
could lead a rabble to mischief. But they had no skill to conduct the
affairs of an empire. The want of skill they supplied for a time by
atrocity and blind violence. For legislative ability, fiscal ability,
military ability, diplomatic ability, they had one substitute, the
guillotine. Indeed their exceeding ignorance, and the barrenness of
their invention, are the best excuse for their murders and robberies. We
really believe that they would not have cut so many throats, and picked
so many pockets, if they had known how to govern in any other way.

That under their administration the war against the European Coalition
was successfully conducted is true. But that war had been successfully
conducted before their elevation, and continued to be successfully
conducted after their fall. Terror was not the order of the day when
Brussels opened its gates to Dumourier. Terror had ceased to be the
order of the day when Piedmont and Lombardy were conquered by Bonaparte.
The truth is, that France was saved, not by the Committee of Public
Safety, but by the energy, patriotism, and valour of the French people.
Those high qualities were victorious in spite of the incapacity of
rulers whose administration was a tissue, not merely of crimes, but of
blunders.

We have not time to tell how the leaders of the savage faction at length
began to avenge mankind on each other: how the craven Hebert was dragged
wailing and trembling to his doom; how the nobler Danton, moved by a
late repentance, strove in vain to repair the evil which he had wrought,
and half redeemed the great crime of September by man fully encountering
death in the cause of mercy.

Our business is with Barere. In all those things he was not only
consenting, but eagerly and joyously forward. Not merely was he one
of the guilty administration. He was the man to whom was especially
assigned the office of proposing and defending outrages on justice and
humanity, and of furnishing to atrocious schemes an appropriate garb of
atrocious rodomontade. Barere first proclaimed from the tribune of the
Convention that terror must be the order of the day. It was by Barere
that the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris was provided with the aid of a
public accuser worthy of such a court, the infamous Fouquier Tinville.
It was Barere who, when one of the old members of the National Assembly
had been absolved by the Revolutionary Tribunal, gave orders that a
fresh jury should be summoned. "Acquit one of the National Assembly!"
he cried. "The Tribunal is turning against the Revolution." It is
unnecessary to say that the prisoner's head was soon in the basket. It
was Barere who moved that the city of Lyons should be destroyed. "Let
the plough," he cried from the tribune, "pass over her. Let her name
cease to exist. The rebels are conquered; but are they all exterminated?
No weakness. No mercy. Let every one be smitten. Two words will suffice
to tell the whole. Lyons made war on liberty; Lyons is no more."
When Toulon was taken Barere came forward to announce the event. "The
conquest," said the apostate Brissotine, "won by the Mountain over the
Brissotines must be commemorated by a mark set on the place where Toulon
once stood." The national thunder must crush the house of every trader
in the town. When Camille Desmoulins, long distinguished among the
republicans by zeal and ability, dared to raise his eloquent voice
against the Reign of Terror, and to point out the close analogy between
the government which then oppressed France and the government of the
worst of the Caesars, Barere rose to complain of the weak compassion
which tried to revive the hopes of the aristocracy. "Whoever," he said,
"is nobly born is a man to be suspected. Every priest, every frequenter
of the old court, every lawyer, every banker, is a man to be suspected.
Every person who grumbles at the course which the Revolution takes is a
man to be suspected. There are whole castes already tried and condemned.
There are callings which carry their doom with them. There are relations
of blood which the law regards with an evil eye. Republicans of
France!" yelled the renegade Girondist, the old enemy of the
Mountain--"Republicans of France! the Brissotines led you by gentle
means to slavery. The Mountain leads you by strong measures to freedom.
Oh! who can count the evils which a false compassion may produce?"
When the friends of Danton mustered courage to express a wish that the
Convention would at least hear him in his own defence before it sent him
to certain death, the voice of Barere was the loudest in opposition to
their prayer. When the crimes of Lebon, one of the worst, if not the
very worst, of the viceregents of the Committee of Public Safety, had so
maddened the people of the Department of the North that they resorted to
the desperate expedient of imploring the protection of the Convention,
Barere pleaded the cause of the accused tyrant, and threatened the
petitioners with the utmost vengeance of the government. "These
charges," he said, "have been suggested by wily aristocrats. The man who
crushes the enemies of the people, though he may be hurried by his
zeal into some excesses, can never be a proper object of censure. The
proceedings of Lebon may have been a little harsh as to form." One of
the small irregularities thus gently censured was this: Lebon kept a
wretched man a quarter of an hour under the knife of the guillotine,
in order to torment him, by reading to him, before he was despatched,
a letter, the contents of which were supposed to be such as would
aggravate even the bitterness of death. "But what," proceeded Barere,
"is not permitted to the hatred of a republican against aristocracy? How
many generous sentiments atone for what may perhaps seem acrimonious in
the prosecution of public enemies? Revolutionary measures are always
to be spoken of with respect. Liberty is a virgin whose veil it is not
lawful to lift."

After this, it would be idle to dwell on facts which would indeed,
of themselves, suffice to render a name infamous, but which make no
perceptible addition to the great infamy of Barere. It would be idle,
for example, to relate how he, a man of letters, a member of an Academy
of Inscriptions, was foremost in that war against learning, art, and
history which disgraced the Jacobin government; how he recommended a
general conflagration of libraries; how he proclaimed that all records
of events anterior to the Revolution ought to be destroyed; how he laid
waste the Abbey of St Denis, pulled down monuments consecrated by the
veneration of ages, and scattered on the wind the dust of ancient kings.
He was, in truth, seldom so well employed as when he turned for a moment
from making war on the living to make war on the dead.

Equally idle would it be to dilate on his sensual excesses. That in
Barere as in the whole breed of Neros, Caligulas, and Domitians whom he
resembled, voluptuousness was mingled with cruelty; that he withdrew,
twice in every decade, from the work of blood, to the smiling gardens of
Clichy, and there forgot public cares in the madness of wine and in the
arms of courtesans, has often been repeated. M. Hippolyte Carnot does
not altogether deny the truth of these stories, but justly observes that
Barere's dissipation was not carried to such a point as to interfere
with his industry. Nothing can be more true. Barere was by no means so
much addicted to debauchery as to neglect the work of murder. It was his
boast that, even during his hours of recreation, he cut out work for the
Revolutionary Tribunal. To those who expressed a fear that his exertions
would hurt his health, he gaily answered that he was less busy than they
thought. "The guillotine," he said, "does all; the guillotine governs."
For ourselves, we are much more disposed to look indulgently on
the pleasures which he allowed to himself than on the pain which he
inflicted on his neighbours.

     "Atque utinam his potius nugis tota illa dedisset
     Tempora saevitiae, claras quibus abstulit urbi
     Illustresque animas, impune ac vindice nullo."

An immoderate appetite for sensual gratifications is undoubtedly a
blemish on the fame of Henry the Fourth, of Lord Somers, of Mr Fox. But
the vices of honest men are the virtues of Barere.

And now Barere had become a really cruel man. It was from mere
pusillanimity that he had perpetrated his first great crimes. But the
whole history of our race proves that the taste for the misery of others
is a taste which minds not naturally ferocious may too easily acquire,
and which, when once acquired, is as strong as any of the propensities
with which we are born. A very few months had sufficed to bring this man
into a state of mind in which images of despair, wailing, and death had
an exhilarating effect on him, and inspired him as wine and love inspire
men of free and joyous natures. The cart creaking under its daily
freight of victims, ancient men and lads, and fair young girls, the
binding of the hands, the thrusting of the head out of the little
national sash-window, the crash of the axe, the pool of blood beneath
the scaffold, the heads rolling by scores in the panier--these things
were to him what Lalage and a cask of Falernian were to Horace, what
Rosette and a bottle of iced champagne are to De Beranger. As soon as
he began to speak of slaughter his heart seemed to be enlarged, and
his fancy to become unusually fertile of conceits and gasconades.
Robespierre, Saint Just, and Billaud, whose barbarity was the effect of
earnest and gloomy hatred, were, in his view, men who made a toil of a
pleasure. Cruelty was no such melancholy business, to be gone about
with an austere brow and a whining tone; it was a recreation, fitly
accompanied by singing and laughing. In truth, Robespierre and Barere
might be well compared to the two renowned hangmen of Louis the
Eleventh. They were alike insensible of pity, alike bent on havoc. But,
while they murdered, one of them frowned and canted, the other grinned
and joked. For our own part, we prefer Jean qui pleure to Jean qui rit.

In the midst of the funeral gloom which overhung Paris, a gaiety
stranger and more ghastly than the horrors of the prison and the
scaffold distinguished the dwelling of Barere. Every morning a crowd of
suitors assembled to implore his protection. He came forth in his rich
dressing-gown, went round the antechamber, dispensed smiles and promises
among the obsequious crowd, addressed himself with peculiar animation to
every handsome woman who appeared in the circle, and complimented her in
the florid style of Gascony on the bloom of her cheeks and the lustre of
her eyes. When he had enjoyed the fear and anxiety of his suppliants he
dismissed them, and flung all their memorials unread into the fire.
This was the best way, he conceived, to prevent arrears of business from
accumulating. Here he was only an imitator. Cardinal Dubois had been in
the habit of clearing his table of papers in the same way. Nor was this
the only point in which we could point out a resemblance between the
worst statesman of the monarchy and the worst statesman of the republic.

Of Barere's peculiar vein of pleasantry a notion may be formed from
an anecdote which one of his intimate associates, a juror of the
revolutionary tribunal, has related. A courtesan who bore a conspicuous
part in the orgies of Clichy implored Barere to use his power against
a head-dress which did not suit her style of face, and which a rival
beauty was trying to bring into fashion. One of the magistrates of the
capital was summoned and received the necessary orders. Aristocracy,
Barere said, was again rearing its front. These new wigs were
counter-revolutionary. He had reason to know that they were made out of
the long fair hair of handsome aristocrats who had died by the national
chopper. Every lady who adorned herself with the relics of criminals
might justly be suspected of incivism. This ridiculous lie imposed on
the authorities of Paris. Female citizens were solemnly warned
against the obnoxious ringlets, and were left to choose between their
head-dresses and their heads. Barere's delight at the success of this
facetious fiction was quite extravagant: he could not tell the story
without going into such convulsions of laughter as made his hearers hope
that he was about to choke. There was something peculiarly tickling and
exhilarating to his mind in this grotesque combination of the frivolous
with the horrible, of false locks and curling-irons with spouting
arteries and reeking hatchets.

But, though Barere succeeded in earning the honourable nicknames of the
Witling of Terror, and the Anacreon of the Guillotine, there was one
place where it was long remembered to his disadvantage that he had, for
a time, talked the language of humanity and moderation. That place was
the Jacobin club. Even after he had borne the chief part in the massacre
of the Girondists, in the murder of the Queen, in the destruction of
Lyons, he durst not show himself within that sacred precinct. At one
meeting of the society, a member complained that the committee to which
the supreme direction of affairs was entrusted, after all the changes
which had been made, still contained one man who was not trustworthy.
Robespierre, whose influence over the Jacobins was boundless, undertook
the defence of his colleague, owned there was some ground for what
had been said, but spoke highly of Barere's industry and aptitude for
business. This seasonable interposition silenced the accuser; but it was
long before the neophyte could venture to appear at the club.

At length a masterpiece of wickedness, unique, we think, even among
Barere's great achievements, obtained his full pardon even from that
rigid conclave. The insupportable tyranny of the Committee of Public
Safety had at length brought the minds of men, and even of women, into
a fierce and hard temper, which defied or welcomed death. The life which
might be any morning taken away, in consequence of the whisper of a
private enemy, seemed of little value. It was something to die after
smiting one of the oppressors; it was something to bequeath to
the surviving tyrants a terror not inferior to that which they had
themselves inspired. Human nature, hunted and worried to the utmost,
now turned furiously to bay. Fouquier Tinville was afraid to walk
the streets; a pistol was snapped at Collot D'Herbois; a young girl,
animated apparently by the spirit of Charlotte Corday, attempted
to obtain an interview with Robespierre. Suspicions arose; she was
searched; and two knives were found about her. She was questioned, and
spoke of the Jacobin domination with resolute scorn and aversion. It is
unnecessary to say that she was sent to the guillotine. Barere declared
from the tribune that the cause of these attempts was evident. Pitt and
his guineas had done the whole. The English Government had organised a
vast system of murder, had armed the hand of Charlotte Corday, and
had now, by similar means, attacked two of the most eminent friends of
liberty in France. It is needless to say that these imputations were,
not only false, but destitute of all show of truth. Nay, they were
demonstrably absurd: for the assassins to whom Barere referred rushed
on certain death, a sure proof that they were not hirelings. The whole
wealth of England would not have bribed any sane person to do what
Charlotte Corday did. But, when we consider her as an enthusiast, her
conduct is perfectly natural. Even those French writers who are childish
enough to believe that the English Government contrived the infernal
machine and strangled the Emperor Paul have fully acquitted Mr Pitt of
all share in the death of Marat and in the attempt on Robespierre.
Yet on calumnies so futile as those which we have mentioned did Barere
ground a motion at which all Christendom stood aghast. He proposed a
decree that no quarter should be given to any English or Hanoverian
soldier. (M. Hippolyte Carnot does his best to excuse this decree. His
abuse of England is merely laughable. England has managed to deal with
enemies of a very different sort from either himself or his hero. One
disgraceful blunder, however, we think it right to notice. M. Hippolyte
Carnot asserts that a motion similar to that of Barere was made in
the English Parliament by the late Lord Fitzwilliam. This assertion is
false. We defy M. Hippolyte Carnot to state the date and terms of
the motion of which he speaks. We do not accuse him of intentional
misrepresentation; but we confidently accuse him of extreme ignorance
and temerity. Our readers will be amused to learn on what authority he
has ventured to publish such a fable. He quotes, not the journals of
the Lords, not the Parliamentary Debates, but a ranting message of
the Executive Directory to the Five Hundred, a message, too, the whole
meaning of which he has utterly misunderstood.) His Carmagnole was
worthy of the proposition with which it concluded. "That one Englishman
should be spared, that for the slaves of George, for the human machines
of York, the vocabulary of our armies should contain such a word as
generosity, this is what the National Convention cannot endure. War
to the death against every English soldier. If last year, at Dunkirk,
quarter had been refused to them when they asked it on their knees,
if our troops had exterminated them all, instead of suffering them to
infest our fortresses by their presence, the English government would
not have renewed its attack on our frontiers this year. It is only the
dead man who never comes back. What is this moral pestilence which has
introduced into our armies false ideas of humanity? That the English
were to be treated with indulgence was the philanthropic notion of the
Brissotines; it was the patriotic practice of Dumourier. But humanity
consists in exterminating our enemies. No mercy to the execrable
Englishman. Such are the sentiments of the true Frenchman; for he
knows that he belongs to a nation revolutionary as nature, powerful
as freedom, ardent as the saltpetre which she has just torn from
the entrails of the earth. Soldiers of liberty, when victory places
Englishmen at your mercy, strike! None of them must return to the
servile soil of Great Britain; none must pollute the free soil of
France."

The Convention, thoroughly tamed and silenced, acquiesced in Barere's
motion without debate. And now at last the doors of the Jacobin Club
were thrown open to the disciple who had surpassed his masters. He was
admitted a member by acclamation, and was soon selected to preside.

For a time he was not without hope that his decree would be carried
into full effect. Intelligence arrived from the seat of war of a sharp
contest between some French and English troops, in which the Republicans
had the advantage, and in which no prisoners had been made. Such
things happen occasionally in all wars. Barere, however, attributed
the ferocity of this combat to his darling decree, and entertained the
Convention with another Carmagnole.

"The Republicans," he said, "saw a division in red uniform at a
distance. The red-coats are attacked with the bayonet. Not one of
them escapes the blows of the Republicans. All the red-coats have been
killed. No mercy, no indulgence, has been shown towards the villains.
Not an Englishman whom the Republicans could reach is now living. How
many prisoners should you guess that we have made? One single prisoner
is the result of this great day."

And now this bad man's craving for blood had become insatiable. The more
he quaffed, the more he thirsted. He had begun with the English;
but soon he came down with a proposition for new massacres. "All the
troops," he said, "of the coalesced tyrants in garrison at Conde,
Valenciennes, Le Quesnoy, and Landrecies, ought to be put to the sword
unless they surrender at discretion in twenty-four hours. The English,
of course, will be admitted to no capitulation whatever. With the
English we have no treaty but death. As to the rest, surrender at
discretion in twenty-four hours, or death, these are our conditions.
If the slaves resist, let them feel the edge of the sword." And then he
waxed facetious. "On these terms the Republic is willing to give them a
lesson in the art of war." At that jest, some hearers, worthy of such
a speaker, set up a laugh. Then he became serious again. "Let the enemy
perish," he cried, "I have already said it from this tribune. It is only
the dead man who never comes back. Kings will not conspire against us in
the grave. Armies will not fight against us when they are annihilated.
Let our war with them be a war of extermination. What pity is due to
slaves whom the Emperor leads to war under the cane; whom the King of
Prussia beats to the shambles with the flat of the sword; and whom the
Duke of York makes drunk with rum and gin?" And at the rum and gin the
Mountain and the galleries laughed again.

If Barere had been able to effect his purpose, it is difficult to
estimate the extent of the calamity which he would have brought on the
human race. No government, however averse to cruelty, could, in justice
to its own subjects, have given quarter to enemies who gave none.
Retaliation would have been, not merely justifiable, but a sacred duty.
It would have been necessary for Howe and Nelson to make every French
sailor whom they took walk the plank. England has no peculiar reason to
dread the introduction of such a system. On the contrary, the operation
of Barere's new law of war would have been more unfavourable to his
countrymen than to ours; for we believe that, from the beginning to the
end of the war, there never was a time at which the number of French
prisoners in England was not greater than the number of English
prisoners in France; and so, we apprehend, it will be in all wars while
England retains her maritime superiority. Had the murderous decree of
the Convention been in force from 1794 to 1815, we are satisfied that,
for every Englishman slain by the French, at least three Frenchmen would
have been put to the sword by the English. It is, therefore, not as
Englishmen, but as members of the great society of mankind, that we
speak with indignation and horror of the change which Barere attempted
to introduce. The mere slaughter would have been the smallest part of
the evil. The butchering of a single unarmed man in cold blood, under an
act of the legislature, would have produced more evil than the carnage
of ten such fields as Albuera. Public law would have been subverted from
the foundations; national enmities would have been inflamed to a degree
of rage which happily it is not easy for us to conceive; cordial peace
would have been impossible. The moral character of the European nations
would have been rapidly and deeply corrupted; for in all countries those
men whose calling is to put their lives in jeopardy for the defence of
the public weal enjoy high consideration, and are considered as the best
arbitrators on points of honour and manly bearing. With the standard of
morality established in the military profession the general standard
of morality must to a great extent sink or rise. It is, therefore, a
fortunate circumstance that, during a long course of years, respect for
the weak and clemency towards the vanquished have been considered as
qualities not less essential to the accomplished soldier than personal
courage. How long would this continue to be the case, if the slaying of
prisoners were a part of the daily duty of the warrior? What man of kind
and generous nature would, under such a system, willingly bear arms?
Who, that was compelled to bear arms, would long continue kind and
generous? And is it not certain that, if barbarity towards the helpless
became the characteristic of military men, the taint must rapidly spread
to civil and to domestic life, and must show itself in all the dealings
of the strong with the weak, of husbands with wives, of employers with
work men, of creditors with debtors?

But, thank God, Barere's decree was a mere dead letter. It was to
be executed by men very different from those who, in the interior of
France, were the instruments of the Committee of Public Safety, who
prated at Jacobin Clubs, and ran to Fouquier Tinville with charges of
incivism against women whom they could not seduce, and bankers from whom
they could not extort money. The warriors who, under Hoche, had guarded
the walls of Dunkirk, and who, under Kleber, had made good the defence
of the wood of Monceaux, shrank with horror from an office more
degrading than that of the hangman. "The Convention," said an officer to
his men, "has sent orders that all the English prisoners shall be shot."
"We will not shoot them" answered a stout-hearted sergeant. "Send them
to the Convention. If the deputies take pleasure in killing a prisoner,
they may kill him themselves, and eat him too, like savages as
they are." This was the sentiment of the whole army. Bonaparte, who
thoroughly understood war, who at Jaffa and elsewhere gave ample proof
that he was not unwilling to strain the laws of war to their utmost
rigour, and whose hatred of England amounted to a folly, always spoke of
Barere's decree with loathing, and boasted that the army had refused to
obey the Convention.

Such disobedience on the part of any other class of citizens would have
been instantly punished by wholesale massacre; but the Committee
of Public Safety was aware that the discipline which had tamed the
unwarlike population of the fields and cities might not answer in camps.
To fling people by scores out of a boat, and, when they catch hold of
it, to chop off their fingers with a hatchet, is undoubtedly a very
agreeable pastime for a thoroughbred Jacobin, when the sufferers are,
as at Nantes, old confessors, young girls, or women with child. But
such sport might prove a little dangerous if tried upon grim ranks of
grenadiers, marked with the scars of Hondschoote, and singed by the
smoke of Fleurus.

Barere, however, found some consolation. If he could not succeed in
murdering the English and the Hanoverians, he was amply indemnified by
a new and vast slaughter of his own countrymen and countrywomen. If the
defence which has been set up for the members of the Committee of Public
Safety had been well founded, if it had been true that they governed
with extreme severity only because the republic was in extreme peril,
it is clear that the severity would have diminished as the peril
diminished. But the fact is, that those cruelties for which the public
danger is made a plea became more and more enormous as the danger became
less and less, and reached the full height when there was no longer any
danger at all. In the autumn of 1793, there was undoubtedly reason to
apprehend that France might be unable to maintain the struggle against
the European coalition. The enemy was triumphant on the frontiers. More
than half the departments disowned the authority of the Convention. But
at that time eight or ten necks a day were thought an ample allowance
for the guillotine of the capital. In the summer of 1794, Bordeaux,
Toulon, Caen, Lyons, Marseilles, had submitted to the ascendency of
Paris. The French arms were victorious under the Pyrenees and on
the Sambre. Brussels had fallen. Prussia announced her intention of
withdrawing from the contest. The Republic, no longer content with
defending her own independence, was beginning to meditate conquest
beyond the Alps and the Rhine. She was now more formidable to her
neighbours than ever Louis the Fourteenth had been. And now the
Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris was not content with forty, fifty,
sixty heads in a morning. It was just after a series of victories, which
destroyed the whole force of the single argument which has been urged
in defence of the system of terror, that the Committee of Public Safety
resolved to infuse into that system an energy hitherto unknown. It was
proposed to reconstruct the Revolutionary Tribunal, and to collect in
the space of two pages the whole revolutionary jurisprudence. Lists of
twelve judges and fifty jurors were made out from among the fiercest
Jacobins. The substantive law was simply this, that whatever the
tribunal should think pernicious to the republic was a capital crime.
The law of evidence was simply this, that whatever satisfied the
jurors was sufficient proof. The law of procedure was of a piece with
everything else. There was to be an advocate against the prisoner, and
no advocate for him. It was expressly declared that, if the jurors were
in any manner convinced of the guilt of the prisoner, they might convict
him without hearing a single witness. The only punishment which the
court could inflict was death.

Robespierre proposed this decree. When he had read it, a murmur rose
from the Convention. The fear which had long restrained the deputies
from opposing the Committee was overcome by a stronger fear. Every
man felt the knife at his throat. "The decree," said one, "is of grave
importance. I move that it be printed and the debate be adjourned. If
such a measure were adopted without time for consideration, I would blow
my brains out at once." The motion for adjournment was seconded. Then
Barere sprang up. "It is impossible," he said, "that there can be
any difference of opinion among us as to a law like this, a law so
favourable in all respects to patriots; a law which insures the speedy
punishment of conspirators. If there is to be an adjournment, I must
insist that it shall not be for more than three days." The opposition
was overawed; the decree was passed; and, during the six weeks which
followed, the havoc was such as has never been known before.

And now the evil was beyond endurance. That timid majority which had
for a time supported the Girondists, and which had, after their
fall, contented itself with registering in silence the decrees of the
Committee of Public Safety, at length drew courage from despair. Leaders
of bold and firm character were not wanting, men such as Fouche and
Tallien, who, having been long conspicuous among the chiefs of the
Mountain, now found that their own lives, or lives still dearer to
them than their own, were in extreme peril. Nor could it be longer kept
secret that there was a schism in the despotic committee. On one side
were Robespierre, Saint Just, and Couthon; on the other, Collot and
Billaud. Barere leaned towards these last, but only leaned towards
them. As was ever his fashion when a great crisis was at hand, he
fawned alternately on both parties, struck alternately at both, and held
himself in readiness to chant the praises or to sign the death-warrant
of either. In any event his Carmagnole was ready. The tree of liberty,
the blood of traitors, the dagger of Brutus, the guineas of perfidious
Albion, would do equally well for Billaud and for Robespierre.

The first attack which was made on Robespierre was indirect. An old
woman named Catherine Theot, half maniac, half impostor, was protected
by him, and exercised a strange influence over his mind; for he was
naturally prone to superstition, and, having abjured the faith in which
he had been brought up, was looking about for something to believe.
Barere drew up a report against Catherine, which contained many
facetious conceits, and ended, as might be expected, with a motion
for sending her and some other wretched creatures of both sexes to
the Revolutionary Tribunal, or, in other words, to death. This report,
however, he did not dare to read to the Convention himself. Another
member, less timid, was induced to farther the cruel buffoonery; and the
real author enjoyed in security the dismay and vexation of Robespierre.

Barere now thought that he had done enough on one side, and that it was
time to make his peace with the other. On the seventh of Thermidor,
he pronounced in the Convention a panegyric on Robespierre. "That
representative of the people," he said, "enjoys a reputation for
patriotism, earned by five years of exertion, and by unalterable
fidelity to the principles of independence and liberty." On the eighth
of Thermidor, it became clear that a decisive struggle was at hand.
Robespierre struck the first blow. He mounted the tribune, and uttered a
long invective on his opponents. It was moved that his discourse
should be printed; and Barere spoke for the printing. The sense of the
Convention soon appeared to be the other way; and Barere apologised for
his former speech, and implored his colleagues to abstain from disputes
which could be agreeable only to Pitt and York. On the next day, the
ever-memorable ninth of Thermidor, came the real tug of war. Tallien,
bravely taking his life in his hand, led the onset. Billaud followed;
and then all that infinite hatred which had long been kept down by
terror burst forth, and swept every barrier before it. When at length
the voice of Robespierre, drowned by the President's bell, and by shouts
of "Down with the tyrant!" had died away in hoarse gasping, Barere rose.
He began with timid and doubtful phrases, watched the effect of
every word he uttered, and, when the feeling of the Assembly had been
unequivocally manifested, declared against Robespierre. But it was not
till the people out of doors, and especially the gunners of Paris, had
espoused the cause of the Convention, that Barere felt quite at
ease. Then he sprang to the tribune, poured forth a Carmagnole about
Pisistratus and Catiline, and concluded by moving that the heads of
Robespierre and Robespierre's accomplices should be cut off without a
trial. The motion was carried. On the following morning the vanquished
members of the Committee of Public Safety and their principal adherents
suffered death. It was exactly one year since Barere had commenced his
career of slaughter by moving the proscription of his old allies the
Girondists. We greatly doubt whether any human being has ever succeeded
in packing more wickedness into the space of three hundred and
sixty-five days.

The ninth of Thermidor is one of the great epochs in the history of
Europe. It is true that the three members of the Committee of Public
Safety who triumphed were by no means better men than the three who
fell. Indeed, we are inclined to think that of these six statesmen the
least bad were Robespierre and Saint Just, whose cruelty was the effect
of sincere fanaticism operating on narrow understandings and acrimonious
tempers. The worst of the six was, beyond all doubt, Barere, who had
no faith in any part of the system which he upheld by persecution; who,
while he sent his fellow-creatures to death for being the third cousins
of royalists, had not in the least made up his mind that a republic
was better than a monarchy; who, while he slew his old friends for
federalism, was himself far more a federalist than any of them; who
had become a murderer merely for his safety, and who continued to be a
murderer merely for his pleasure.

The tendency of the vulgar is to embody everything. Some individual is
selected, and often selected very injudicially, as the representative
of every great movement of the public mind, of every great revolution in
human affairs; and on this individual are concentrated all the love and
all the hatred, all the admiration and all the contempt, which he ought
rightfully to share with a whole party, a whole sect, a whole nation, a
whole generation. Perhaps no human being has suffered so much from this
propensity of the multitude as Robespierre. He is regarded, not merely
as what he was, an envious, malevolent zealot, but as the incarnation of
Terror, as Jacobinism personified. The truth is, that it was not by
him that the system of terror was carried to the last extreme. The most
horrible days in the history of the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris were
those which immediately preceded the ninth of Thermidor. Robespierre had
then ceased to attend the meetings of the sovereign Committee; and the
direction of affairs was really in the hands of Billaud, of Collot, and
of Barere.

It had never occurred to those three tyrants that, in overthrowing
Robespierre, they were overthrowing that system of terror to which they
were more attached than he had ever been. Their object was to go on
slaying even more mercilessly than before. But they had misunderstood
the nature of the great crisis which had at last arrived. The yoke
of the Committee was broken for ever. The Convention had regained
its liberty, had tried its strength, had vanquished and punished
its enemies. A great reaction had commenced. Twenty-four hours after
Robespierre had ceased to live, it was moved and carried, amidst loud
bursts of applause, that the sittings of the Revolutionary Tribunal
should be suspended. Billaud was not at that moment present. He entered
the hall soon after, learned with indignation what had passed, and moved
that the vote should be rescinded. But loud cries of "No, no!" rose
from those benches which had lately paid mute obedience to his commands.
Barere came forward on the same day, and abjured the Convention not to
relax the system of terror. "Beware, above all things," he cried,
"of that fatal moderation which talks of peace and of clemency. Let
aristocracy know that here she will find only enemies sternly bent on
vengeance, and judges who have no pity." But the day of the Carmagnoles
was over: the restraint of fear had been relaxed; and the hatred
with which the nation regarded the Jacobin dominion broke forth with
ungovernable violence. Not more strongly did the tide of public opinion
run against the old monarchy and aristocracy, at the time of the taking
of the Bastile, than it now ran against the tyranny of the Mountain.
From every dungeon the prisoners came forth as they had gone in, by
hundreds. The decree which forbade the soldiers of the republic to give
quarter to the English was repealed by an unanimous vote, amidst loud
acclamations; nor, passed as it was, disobeyed as it was, and rescinded
as it was, can it be with justice considered as a blemish on the fame
of the French nation. The Jacobin Club was refractory. It was suppressed
without resistance. The surviving Girondist deputies, who had concealed
themselves from the vengeance of their enemies in caverns and garrets,
were readmitted to their seats in the Convention. No day passed without
some signal reparation of injustice; no street in Paris was without some
trace of the recent change. In the theatre, the bust of Marat was pulled
down from its pedestal and broken in pieces, amidst the applause of
the audience. His carcass was ejected from the Pantheon. The celebrated
picture of his death, which had hung in the hall of the Convention, was
removed. The savage inscriptions with which the walls of the city had
been covered disappeared; and, in place of death and terror, humanity,
the watchword of the new rulers, was everywhere to be seen. In the
meantime, the gay spirit of France, recently subdued by oppression, and
now elated by the joy of a great deliverance, wantoned in a thousand
forms. Art, taste, luxury, revived. Female beauty regained its
empire--an empire strengthened by the remembrance of all the tender
and all the sublime virtues which women, delicately bred and reputed
frivolous, had displayed during the evil days. Refined manners,
chivalrous sentiments, followed in the train of love. The dawn of the
Arctic summer day after the Arctic winter night, the great unsealing
of the waters, the awakening of animal and vegetable life, the sudden
softening of the air, the sudden blooming of the flowers, the sudden
bursting of old forests into verdure, is but a feeble type of that
happiest and most genial of revolutions, the revolution of the ninth of
Thermidor.

But, in the midst of the revival of all kind and generous sentiments,
there was one portion of the community against which mercy itself seemed
to cry out for vengeance. The chiefs of the late government and their
tools were now never named but as the men of blood, the drinkers of
blood, the cannibals. In some parts of France, where the creatures of
the Mountain had acted with peculiar barbarity, the populace took the
law into its own hands and meted out justice to the Jacobins with the
true Jacobin measure, but at Paris the punishments were inflicted with
order and decency, and were few when compared with the number, and
lenient when compared with the enormity, of the crimes. Soon after the
ninth of Thermidor, two of the vilest of mankind, Fouquier Tinville,
whom Barere had placed at the Revolutionary Tribunal, and Lebon, whom
Barere had defended in the Convention, were placed under arrest. A third
miscreant soon shared their fate, Carrier, the tyrant of Nantes. The
trials of these men brought to light horrors surpassing anything that
Suetonius and Lampridius have related of the worst Caesars. But it was
impossible to punish subordinate agents, who, bad as they were, had only
acted in accordance with the spirit of the government which they served,
and, at the same time, to grant impunity to the heads of the wicked
administration. A cry was raised, both within and without the Convention
for justice on Collot, Billaud, and Barere.

Collot and Billaud, with all their vices, appear to have been men of
resolute natures. They made no submission; but opposed to the hatred
of mankind, at first a fierce resistance, and afterwards a dogged and
sullen endurance. Barere, on the other hand, as soon as he began to
understand the real nature of the revolution of Thermidor, attempted to
abandon the Mountain, and to obtain admission among his old friends of
the moderate party. He declared everywhere that he had never been in
favour of severe measures; that he was a Girondist; that he had always
condemned and lamented the manner in which the Brissotine deputies had
been treated. He now preached mercy from that tribune from which he had
recently preached extermination. "The time," he said, "has come at which
our clemency may be indulged without danger. We may now safely
consider temporary imprisonment as an adequate punishment for political
misdemeanours." It was only a fortnight since, from the same place,
he had declaimed against the moderation which dared even to talk of
clemency; it was only a fortnight since he had ceased to send men and
women to the guillotine of Paris, at the rate of three hundred a week.
He now wished to make his peace with the moderate party at the expense
of the Terrorists, as he had, a year before, made his peace with
the Terrorists at the expense of the moderate party. But he was
disappointed. He had left himself no retreat. His face, his voice, his
rants, his jokes, had become hateful to the Convention. When he spoke
he was interrupted by murmurs. Bitter reflections were daily cast on his
cowardice and perfidy. On one occasion Carnot rose to give an account
of a victory, and so far forgot the gravity of his own character as
to indulge in the sort of oratory which Barere had affected on similar
occasions. He was interrupted by cries of "No more Carmagnoles!" "No
more of Barere's puns!"

At length, five months after the revolution of Thermidor, the Convention
resolved that a committee of twenty-one members should be appointed to
examine into the conduct of Billaud, Collot, and Barere. In some weeks
the report was made. From that report we learn that a paper had been
discovered, signed by Barere, and containing a proposition for adding
the last improvement to the system of terror. France was to be divided
into circuits; itinerant revolutionary tribunals, composed of trusty
Jacobins, were to move from department to department; and the guillotine
was to travel in their train.

Barere, in his defence, insisted that no speech or motion which he had
made in the Convention could, without a violation of the freedom of
debate, be treated as a crime. He was asked how he could resort to such
a mode of defence, after putting to death so many deputies on account of
opinions expressed in the Convention. He had nothing to say, but that
it was much to be regretted that the sound principle had ever been
violated.

He arrogated to himself a large share of the merit of the revolution in
Thermidor. The men who had risked their lives to effect that revolution,
and who knew that, if they had failed, Barere would, in all probability,
have moved the decree for beheading them without a trial, and have drawn
up a proclamation announcing their guilt and their punishment to all
France, were by no means disposed to acquiesce in his claims. He was
reminded that, only forty-eight hours before the decisive conflict,
he had, in the tribune, been profuse of adulation to Robespierre. His
answer to this reproach is worthy of himself. "It was necessary," he
said, "to dissemble. It was necessary to flatter Robespierre's vanity,
and, by panegyric, to impel him to the attack. This was the motive which
induced me to load him with those praises of which you complain. Who
ever blamed Brutus for dissembling with Tarquin?"

The accused triumvirs had only one chance of escaping punishment. There
was severe distress at that moment among the working people of the
capital. This distress the Jacobins attributed to the reaction of
Thermidor, to the lenity with which the aristocrats were now treated,
and to the measures which had been adopted against the chiefs of the
late administration. Nothing is too absurd to be believed by a populace
which has not breakfasted, and which does not know how it is to dine.
The rabble of the Faubourg St Antoine rose, menaced the deputies, and
demanded with loud cries the liberation of the persecuted patriots. But
the Convention was no longer such as it had been, when similar means
were employed too successfully against the Girondists. Its spirit
was roused. Its strength had been proved. Military means were at its
command. The tumult was suppressed: and it was decreed that same evening
that Collot, Billaud, and Barere should instantly be removed to a
distant place of confinement.

The next day the order of the Convention was executed. The account which
Barere has given of his journey is the most interesting and the most
trustworthy part of these Memoirs. There is no witness so infamous that
a court of justice will not take his word against himself; and even
Barere may be believed when he tells us how much he was hated and
despised.

The carriage in which he was to travel passed, surrounded by armed
men, along the street of St Honore. A crowd soon gathered round it and
increased every moment. On the long flight of steps before the church of
St Roch stood rows of eager spectators. It was with difficulty that
the coach could make its way through those who hung upon it, hooting,
cursing, and striving to burst the doors. Barere thought his life in
danger, and was conducted at his own request to a public office, where
he hoped that he might find shelter till the crowd should disperse.
In the meantime, another discussion on his fate took place in the
Convention. It was proposed to deal with him as he had dealt with better
men, to put him out of the pale of the law, and to deliver him at once
without any trial to the headsman. But the humanity which, since
the ninth of Thermidor, had generally directed the public councils
restrained the deputies from taking this course.

It was now night; and the streets gradually became quiet. The clock
struck twelve; and Barere, under a strong guard, again set forth on his
journey. He was conducted over the river to the place where the Orleans
road branches off from the southern boulevard. Two travelling carriages
stood there. In one of them was Billaud, attended by two officers; in
the other two more officers were waiting to receive Barere. Collot was
already on the road.

At Orleans, a city which had suffered cruelly from the Jacobin tyranny,
the three deputies were surrounded by a mob bent on tearing them to
pieces. All the national guards of the neighbourhood were assembled;
and this force was not greater than the emergency required; for the
multitude pursued the carriages far on the road to Blois.

At Amboise the prisoners learned that Tours was ready to receive them.
The stately bridge was occupied by a throng of people, who swore that
the men under whose rule the Loire had been choked with corpses should
have full personal experience of the nature of a noyade. In consequence
of this news, the officers who had charge of the criminals made such
arrangements that the carriages reached Tours at two in the morning, and
drove straight to the post-house. Fresh horses were instantly ordered;
and the travellers started again at full gallop. They had, in truth,
not a moment to lose; for the alarm had been given; lights were seen in
motion; and the yells of a great multitude, disappointed of its revenge,
mingled with the sound of the departing wheels.

At Poitiers there was another narrow escape. As the prisoners quitted
the post-house, they saw the whole population pouring in fury down the
steep declivity on which the city is built. They passed near Niort,
but could not venture to enter it. The inhabitants came forth with
threatening aspect, and vehemently cried to the postillions to stop; but
the postillions urged the horses to full speed, and soon left the town
behind. Through such dangers the men of blood were brought in safety to
Rochelle.

Oleron was the place of their destination, a dreary island beaten by the
raging waves of the Bay of Biscay. The prisoners were confined in the
castle; each had a single chamber, at the door of which a guard was
placed; and each was allowed the ration of a single soldier. They
were not allowed to communicate either with the garrison or with the
population of the island; and soon after their arrival they were denied
the indulgence of walking on the ramparts. The only place where they
were suffered to take exercise was the esplanade where the troops were
drilled.

They had not been long in this situation when news came that the
Jacobins of Paris had made a last attempt to regain ascendency in the
state, that the hall of the Convention had been forced by a furious
crowd, that one of the deputies had been murdered and his head fixed on
a pike, that the life of the President had been for a time in imminent
danger, and that some members of the legislature had not been ashamed to
join the rioters. But troops had arrived in time to prevent a
massacre. The insurgents had been put to flight; the inhabitants of
the disaffected quarters of the capital had been disarmed; the guilty
deputies had suffered the just punishment of their treason; and the
power of the Mountain was broken for ever. These events strengthened the
aversion with which the system of terror and the authors of that system
were regarded. One member of the Convention had moved that the three
prisoners of Oleron should be put to death; another, that they should be
brought back to Paris, and tried by a council of war. These propositions
were rejected. But something was conceded to the party which called for
severity. A vessel which had been fitted out with great expedition at
Rochefort touched at Oleron; and it was announced to Collot and Billaud
that they must instantly go on board. They were forthwith conveyed to
Guiana, where Collot soon drank himself to death with brandy. Billaud
lived many years, shunning his fellow-creatures and shunned by them; and
diverted his lonely hours by teaching parrots to talk. Why a distinction
was made between Barere and his companions in guilt, neither he nor any
other writer, as far as we know, has explained. It does not appear that
the distinction was meant to be at all in his favour; for orders soon
arrived from Paris, that he should be brought to trial for his crimes
before the criminal court of the department of the Upper Charente. He
was accordingly brought back to the continent, and confined during some
months at Saintes, in an old convent which had lately been turned into a
jail.

While he lingered here, the reaction which had followed the great crisis
of Thermidor met with a temporary check. The friends of the House of
Bourbon, presuming on the indulgence with which they had been treated
after the fall of Robespierre, not only ventured to avow their opinions
with little disguise, but at length took arms against the Convention,
and were not put down till much blood had been shed in the streets
of Paris. The vigilance of the public authorities was therefore now
directed chiefly against the Royalists; and the rigour with which the
Jacobins had lately been treated was somewhat relaxed. The Convention,
indeed, again resolved that Barere should be sent to Guiana. But this
decree was not carried into effect. The prisoner, probably with the
connivance of some powerful persons, made his escape from Saintes and
fled to Bordeaux, where he remained in concealment during some years.
There seems to have been a kind of understanding between him and the
government, that, as long as he hid himself, he should not be found,
but that, if he obtruded himself on the public eye, he must take the
consequences of his rashness.

While the constitution of 1795, with its Executive Directory, its
Council of Elders, and its Council of Five Hundred, was in operation,
he continued to live under the ban of the law. It was in vain that he
solicited, even at moments when the politics of the Mountain seemed to
be again in the ascendant, a remission of the sentence pronounced by the
Convention. Even his fellow-regicides, even the authors of the slaughter
of Vendemiaire and of the arrests of Fructidor, were ashamed of him.

About eighteen months after his escape from prison, his name was again
brought before the world. In his own province he still retained some of
his early popularity. He had, indeed, never been in that province since
the downfall of the monarchy. The mountaineers of Gascony were far
removed from the seat of government, and were but imperfectly informed
of what passed there. They knew that their countryman had played an
important part, and that he had on some occasions promoted their local
interests; and they stood by him in his adversity and in his disgrace
with a constancy which presents a singular contrast to his own abject
fickleness. All France was amazed to learn that the department of the
Upper Pyrenees had chosen the proscribed tyrant a member of the Council
of Five Hundred. The council which, like our House of Commons, was the
judge of the election of its own members, refused to admit him. When his
name was read from the roll, a cry of indignation rose from the benches.
"Which of you," exclaimed one of the members, "would sit by the side of
such a monster?" "Not I, not I!" answered a crowd of voices. One deputy
declared that he would vacate his seat if the hall were polluted by the
presence of such a wretch. The election was declared null on the ground
that the person elected was a criminal skulking from justice; and many
severe reflections were thrown on the lenity which suffered him to be
still at large.

He tried to make his peace with the Directory, by writing a bulky
libel on England, entitled, the Liberty of the Seas. He seems to have
confidently expected that this work would produce a great effect. He
printed three thousand copies, and in order to defray the expense of
publication, sold one of his farms for the sum of ten thousand francs.
The book came out; but nobody bought it, in consequence, if Barere is
to be believed, of the villainy of Mr Pitt, who bribed the Directory
to order the Reviewers not to notice so formidable an attack on the
maritime greatness of perfidious Albion.

Barere had been about three years at Bordeaux when he received
intelligence that the mob of the town designed him the honour of a visit
on the ninth of Thermidor, and would probably administer to him what
he had, in his defence of his friend Lebon, described as substantial
justice under forms a little harsh. It was necessary for him to disguise
himself in clothes such as were worn by the carpenters of the dock. In
this garb, with a bundle of wood shavings under his arm, he made his
escape into the vineyards which surrounded the city, lurked during some
days in a peasant's hut, and, when the dreaded anniversary was over,
stole back into the city. A few months later he was again in danger. He
now thought that he should be nowhere so safe as in the neighbourhood
of Paris. He quitted Bordeaux, hastened undetected through those towns
where four years before his life had been in extreme danger, passed
through the capital in the morning twilight, when none were in the
streets except shop-boys taking down the shutters, and arrived safe
at the pleasant village of St Ouen on the Seine. Here he remained in
seclusion during some months. In the meantime Bonaparte returned from
Egypt, placed himself at the head of a coalition of discontented parties,
covered his designs with the authority of the Elders, drove the Five
Hundred out of their hall at the point of the bayonet, and became
absolute monarch of France under the name of First Consul.

Barere assures us that these events almost broke his heart; that he
could not bear to see France again subject to a master; and that if the
representatives had been worthy of that honourable name, they would
have arrested the ambitious general who insulted them. These feelings,
however, did not prevent him from soliciting the protection of the new
government, and from sending to the First Consul a handsome copy of the
essay on the Liberty of the Seas.

The policy of Bonaparte was to cover all the past with a general
oblivion. He belonged half to the Revolution and half to the reaction.
He was an upstart and a sovereign; and had therefore something in
common with the Jacobin, and something in common with the Royalist.
All, whether Jacobins or Royalists, who were disposed to support his
government, were readily received--all, whether Jacobins or Royalists,
who showed hostility to his government, were put down and punished. Men
who had borne a part in the worst crimes of the Reign of Terror, and men
who had fought in the army of Conde, were to be found close together,
both in his antechambers and in his dungeons. He decorated Fouche and
Maury with the same cross. He sent Arena and Georges Cadoudal to the
same scaffold. From a government acting on such principles Barere easily
obtained the indulgence which the Directory had constantly refused to
grant. The sentence passed by the Convention was remitted; and he was
allowed to reside at Paris. His pardon, it is true, was not granted in
the most honourable form; and he remained, during some time, under the
special supervision of the police. He hastened, however, to pay his
court at the Luxembourg palace, where Bonaparte then resided, and was
honoured with a few dry and careless words by the master of France.

Here begins a new chapter of Barere's history. What passed between him
and the Consular government cannot, of course, be so accurately known to
us as the speeches and reports which he made in the Convention. It is,
however, not difficult, from notorious facts, and from the admissions
scattered over these lying Memoirs, to form a tolerably accurate notion
of what took place. Bonaparte wanted to buy Barere: Barere wanted to
sell himself to Bonaparte. The only question was one of price; and there
was an immense interval between what was offered and what was demanded.

Bonaparte, whose vehemence of will, fixedness of purpose, and reliance
on his own genius were not only great but extravagant, looked with
scorn on the most effeminate and dependent of human minds. He was quite
capable of perpetrating crimes under the influence either of ambition or
of revenge: but he had no touch of that accursed monomania, that craving
for blood and tears, which raged in some of the Jacobin chiefs. To
proscribe the Terrorists would have been wholly inconsistent with his
policy; but, of all the classes of men whom his comprehensive system
included, he liked them the least; and Barere was the worst of them.
This wretch had been branded with infamy, first by the Convention, and
then by the Council of Five Hundred. The inhabitants of four or five
great cities had attempted to tear him limb from limb. Nor were his
vices redeemed by eminent talents for administration or legislation. It
would be unwise to place in any honourable or important post a man so
wicked, so odious, and so little qualified to discharge high political
duties. At the same time there was a way in which it seemed likely that
he might be of use to the government. The First Consul, as he afterwards
acknowledged, greatly overrated Barere's powers as a writer. The effect
which the Reports of the Committee of Public Safety had produced by the
camp fires of the Republican armies had been great. Napoleon himself,
when a young soldier, had been delighted by those compositions,
which had much in common with the rhapsodies of his favourite poet,
Macpherson. The taste, indeed, of the great warrior and statesman
was never very pure. His bulletins, his general orders, and his
proclamations, are sometimes, it is true, masterpieces in their kind;
but we too often detect, even in his best writing, traces of Fingal, and
of the Carmagnoles. It is not strange, therefore, that he should have
been desirous to secure the aid of Barere's pen. Nor was this the only
kind of assistance which the old member of the Committee of Public
Safety might render to the Consular government. He was likely to find
admission into the gloomy dens in which those Jacobins whose constancy
was to be overcome by no reverse, or whose crimes admitted of no
expiation, hid themselves from the curses of mankind. No enterprise was
too bold or too atrocious for minds crazed by fanatacism, and familiar
with misery and death. The government was anxious to have information of
what passed in their secret councils; and no man was better qualified to
furnish such information than Barere.

For these reasons the First Consul was disposed to employ Barere as a
writer and as a spy. But Barere--was it possible that he would submit
to such a degradation? Bad as he was, he had played a great part. He had
belonged to that class of criminals who filled the world with the renown
of their crimes; he had been one of a cabinet which had ruled France
with absolute power, and made war on all Europe with signal success.
Nay, he had been, though not the most powerful, yet, with the single
exception of Robespierre, the most conspicuous member of that cabinet.
His name had been a household word at Moscow and at Philadelphia, at
Edinburgh and at Cadiz. The blood of the Queen of France, the blood of
the greatest orators and philosophers of France, was on his hands. He
had spoken; and it had been decreed that the plough should pass over the
great city of Lyons. He had spoken again; and it had been decreed that
the streets of Toulon should be razed to the ground. When depravity is
placed so high as his, the hatred which it inspires is mingled with awe.
His place was with great tyrants, with Critias and Sylla, with Eccelino
and Borgia; not with hireling scribblers and police runners.

     "Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boast;
     But shall the dignity of vice be lost?"

So sang Pope; and so felt Barere. When it was proposed to him to publish
a journal in defence of the Consular government, rage and shame inspired
him for the first and last time with something like courage. He had
filled as large a space in the eyes of mankind as Mr Pitt or General
Washington; and he was coolly invited to descend at once to the level
of Mr Lewis Goldsmith. He saw, too, with agonies of envy, that a wide
distinction was made between himself and the other statesmen of the
Revolution who were summoned to the aid of the government. Those
statesmen were required, indeed, to make large sacrifices of principle;
but they were not called on to sacrifice what, in the opinion of the
vulgar, constitutes personal dignity. They were made tribunes and
legislators, ambassadors and counsellors of state, ministers, senators,
and consuls. They might reasonably expect to rise with the rising
fortunes of their master; and, in truth, many of them were destined
to wear the badge of his Legion of Honour and of his order of the Iron
Crown; to be arch-chancellors and arch-treasurers, counts, dukes, and
princes. Barere, only six years before, had been far more powerful, far
more widely renowned, than any of them; and now, while they were thought
worthy to represent the majesty of France at foreign courts, while they
received crowds of suitors in gilded antechambers, he was to pass his
life in measuring paragraphs, and scolding correctors of the press. It
was too much. Those lips which had never before been able to fashion
themselves to a No, now murmured expostulation and refusal. "I could
not"--these are his own words--"abase myself to such a point as to serve
the First Consul merely in the capacity of a journalist, while so many
insignificant, low, and servile people, such as the Treilhards, the
Roederers, the Lebruns, the Marets, and others whom it is superfluous to
name, held the first place in this government of upstarts."

This outbreak of spirit was of short duration. Napoleon was inexorable.
It is said indeed that he was, for a moment, half inclined to admit
Barere into the Council of State; but the members of that body
remonstrated in the strongest terms, and declared that such a nomination
would be a disgrace to them all. This plan was therefore relinquished.
Thenceforth Barere's only chance of obtaining the patronage of the
government was to subdue his pride, to forget that there had been a
time when, with three words, he might have had the heads of the three
consuls, and to betake himself, humbly and industriously, to the task of
composing lampoons on England and panegyrics on Bonaparte.

It has been often asserted, we know not on what grounds, that Barere was
employed by the government not only as a writer, but as a censor of
the writings of other men. This imputation he vehemently denies in his
Memoirs; but our readers will probably agree with us in thinking that
his denial leaves the question exactly where it was.

Thus much is certain, that he was not restrained from exercising the
office of censor by any scruple of conscience or honour; for he did
accept an office, compared with which that of censor, odious as it is,
may be called an august and beneficent magistracy. He began to have what
are delicately called relations with the police. We are not sure that
we have formed, or that we can convey, an exact notion of the nature
of Barere's new calling. It is a calling unknown in our country. It has
indeed often happened in England that a plot has been revealed to the
government by one of the conspirators. The informer has sometimes been
directed to carry it fair towards his accomplices, and to let the
evil design come to full maturity. As soon as his work is done, he
is generally snatched from the public gaze, and sent to some obscure
village or to some remote colony. The use of spies, even to this extent,
is in the highest degree unpopular in England; but a political spy by
profession is a creature from which our island is as free as it is from
wolves. In France the race is well-known, and was never more numerous,
more greedy, more cunning, or more savage, than under the government of
Bonaparte.

Our idea of a gentleman in relations with the Consular and Imperial
police may perhaps be incorrect. Such as it is, we will try to convey it
to our readers. We image to ourselves a well-dressed person, with a
soft voice and affable manners. His opinions are those of the society
in which he finds himself, but a little stronger. He often complains,
in the language of honest indignation, that what passes in private
conversation finds its way strangely to the government, and cautions his
associates to take care what they say when they are not sure of their
company. As for himself, he owns that he is indiscreet. He can never
refrain from speaking his mind; and that is the reason that he is not
prefect of a department.

In a gallery of the Palais Royal he overhears two friends talking
earnestly about the King and the Count of Artois. He follows them into
a coffee-house, sits at the table next to them, calls for his half-dish
and his small glass of cognac, takes up a journal, and seems occupied
with the news. His neighbours go on talking without restraint, and in
the style of persons warmly attached to the exiled family. They depart;
and he follows them half round the boulevards till he fairly tracks them
to their apartments, and learns their names from the porters. From
that day every letter addressed to either of them is sent from the
post-office to the police, and opened. Their correspondents become
known to the government, and are carefully watched. Six or eight honest
families, in different parts of France, find themselves at once under
the frown of power without being able to guess what offence they have
given. One person is dismissed from a public office; another learns with
dismay that his promising son has been turned out of the Polytechnic
school.

Next, the indefatigable servant of the state falls in with an old
republican, who has not changed with the times, who regrets the red cap
and the tree of liberty, who has not unlearned the Thee and Thou, and
who still subscribes his letters with "Health and Fraternity." Into the
ears of this sturdy politician our friend pours forth a long series
of complaints. What evil times! What a change since the days when the
Mountain governed France! What is the First Consul but a king under a
new name? What is this Legion of Honour but a new aristocracy? The old
superstition is reviving with the old tyranny. There is a treaty with
the Pope, and a provision for the clergy. Emigrant nobles are returning
in crowds, and are better received at the Tuileries than the men of the
10th of August. This cannot last. What is life without liberty? What
terrors has death to the true patriot? The old Jacobin catches fire,
bestows and receives the fraternal hug, and hints that there will soon
be great news, and that the breed of Harmodius and Brutus is not quite
extinct. The next day he is close prisoner, and all his papers are in
the hands of the government.

To this vocation, a vocation compared with which the life of a beggar,
of a pickpocket, of a pimp, is honourable, did Barere now descend. It
was his constant practice, as often as he enrolled himself in a new
party, to pay his footing with the heads of old friends. He was at first
a Royalist; and he made atonement by watering the tree of liberty with
the blood of Louis. He was then a Girondist; and he made atonement by
murdering Vergniaud and Gensonne. He fawned on Robespierre up to the
eighth of Thermidor; and he made atonement by moving, on the ninth, that
Robespierre should be beheaded without a trial. He was now enlisted
in the service of the new monarchy; and he proceeded to atone for his
republican heresies by sending republican throats to the guillotine.

Among his most intimate associates was a Gascon named Demerville, who
had been employed in an office of high trust under the Committee of
Public Safety. This man was fanatically attached to the Jacobin system
of politics, and, in conjunction with other enthusiasts of the same
class, formed a design against the First Consul. A hint of this design
escaped him in conversation with Barere. Barere carried the intelligence
to Lannes, who commanded the Consular Guards. Demerville was arrested,
tried, and beheaded; and among the witnesses who appeared against him
was his friend Barere.

The account which Barere has given of these transactions is studiously
confused and grossly dishonest. We think, however, that we can discern,
through much falsehood and much artful obscurity, some truths which he
labours to conceal. It is clear to us that the government suspected him
of what the Italians call a double treason. It was natural that such
a suspicion should attach to him. He had, in times not very remote,
zealously preached the Jacobin doctrine, that he who smites a tyrant
deserves higher praise than he who saves a citizen. Was it possible
that the member of the Committee of Public Safety, the king-killer, the
queen-killer, could in earnest mean to deliver his old confederates, his
bosom friends, to the executioner, solely because they had planned an
act which, if there were any truth in his own Carmagnoles, was in the
highest degree virtuous and glorious? Was it not more probable that he
was really concerned in the plot, and that the information which he gave
was merely intended to lull or to mislead the police? Accordingly,
spies were set on the spy. He was ordered to quit Paris, and not to come
within twenty leagues till he received further orders. Nay, he ran no
small risk of being sent, with some of his old friends, to Madagascar.

He made his peace, however, with the government so far, that he was not
only permitted, during some years, to live unmolested, but was employed
in the lowest sort of political drudgery. In the summer of 1803, while
he was preparing to visit the south of France, he received a letter
which deserves to be inserted. It was from Duroc, who is well known to
have enjoyed a large share of Napoleon's confidence and favour.

"The First Consul, having been informed that Citizen Barere is about to
set out for the country, desires that he will stay at Paris.

"Citizen Barere will every week draw up a report on the state of
public opinion on the proceedings of the government, and generally on
everything which, in his judgment, it will be interesting to the First
Consul to learn.

"He may write with perfect freedom.

"He will deliver his reports under seal into General Duroc's own hand,
and General Duroc will deliver them to the First Consul. But it is
absolutely necessary that nobody should suspect that this species of
communication takes place; and, should any such suspicion get abroad,
the First Consul will cease to receive the reports of Citizen Barere.

"It will also be proper that Citizen Barere should frequently insert in
the journals articles tending to animate the public mind, particularly
against the English."

During some years Barere continued to discharge the functions
assigned to him by his master. Secret reports, filled with the talk
of coffee-houses, were carried by him every week to the Tuileries. His
friends assure us that he took especial pains to do all the harm in his
power to the returned emigrants. It was not his fault if Napoleon was
not apprised of every murmur and every sarcasm which old marquesses who
had lost their estates, and old clergymen who had lost their benefices,
uttered against the imperial system. M. Hippolyte Carnot, we grieve to
say, is so much blinded by party spirit that he seems to reckon this
dirty wickedness among his hero's titles to public esteem.

Barere was, at the same time, an indefatigable journalist and
pamphleteer. He set up a paper directed against England, and called the
"Memorial Antibritannique". He planned a work entitled, "France made
great and illustrious by Napoleon." When the Imperial government was
established, the old regicide made himself conspicuous even among the
crowd of flatterers by the peculiar fulsomeness of his adulation.
He translated into French a contemptible volume of Italian verses,
entitled, "The Poetic Crown, composed on the glorious accession of
Napoleon the First, by the Shepherds of Arcadia." He commenced a new
series of Carmagnoles very different from those which had charmed
the Mountain. The title of Emperor of the French, he said, was mean;
Napoleon ought to be Emperor of Europe. King of Italy was too humble an
appellation; Napoleon's style ought to be King of Kings.

But Barere laboured to small purpose in both his vocations. Neither as
a writer nor as a spy was he of much use. He complains bitterly that
his paper did not sell. While the "Journal des Debats", then flourishing
under the able management of Geoffroy, had a circulation of at least
twenty thousand copies, the "Memorial Antibritannique" never, in its
most prosperous times, had more than fifteen hundred subscribers; and
these subscribers were, with scarcely an exception, persons residing far
from Paris, probably Gascons, among whom the name of Barere had not yet
lost its influence.

A writer who cannot find readers generally attributes the public neglect
to any cause rather than to the true one; and Barere was no exception to
the general rule. His old hatred to Paris revived in all its fury.
That city, he says, has no sympathy with France. No Parisian cares to
subscribe to a journal which dwells on the real wants and interests of
the country. To a Parisian nothing is so ridiculous as patriotism. The
higher classes of the capital have always been devoted to England.
A corporal from London is better received among them than a French
general. A journal, therefore, which attacks England has no chance of
their support.

A much better explanation of the failure of the "Memorial" was given
by Bonaparte at St Helena. "Barere," said he to Barry O'Meara, "had
the reputation of being a man of talent: but I did not find him so.
I employed him to write; but he did not display ability. He used many
flowers of rhetoric, but no solid argument; nothing but coglionerie
wrapped up in high-sounding language."

The truth is that, though Barere was a man of quick parts, and could do
with ease what he could do at all, he had never been a good writer. In
the day of his power he had been in the habit of haranguing an excitable
audience on exciting topics. The faults of his style passed uncensured;
for it was a time of literary as well as of civil lawlessness, and a
patriot was licensed to violate the ordinary rules of composition as
well as the ordinary rules of jurisprudence and of social morality. But
there had now been a literary as well as a civil reaction. As there was
again a throne and a court, a magistracy, a chivalry, and a hierarchy,
so was there a revival of classical taste. Honour was again paid to
the prose of Pascal and Massillon, and to the verse of Racine and
La Fontaine. The oratory which had delighted the galleries of the
Convention was not only as much out of date as the language of
Villehardouin and Joinville, but was associated in the public mind
with images of horror. All the peculiarities of the Anacreon of the
guillotine, his words unknown to the Dictionary of the Academy, his
conceits and his jokes, his Gascon idioms and his Gascon hyperboles, had
become as odious as the cant of the Puritans was in England after the
Restoration.

Bonaparte, who had never loved the men of the Reign of Terror, had now
ceased to fear them. He was all-powerful and at the height of glory;
they were weak and universally abhorred. He was a sovereign; and it
is probable that he already meditated a matrimonial alliance with
sovereigns. He was naturally unwilling, in his new position, to hold
any intercourse with the worst class of Jacobins. Had Barere's literary
assistance been important to the government, personal aversion might
have yielded to considerations of policy; but there was no motive for
keeping terms with a worthless man who had also proved a worthless
writer. Bonaparte, therefore, gave loose to his feelings. Barere was not
gently dropped, not sent into an honourable retirement, but spurned
and scourged away like a troublesome dog. He had been in the habit of
sending six copies of his journal on fine paper daily to the Tuileries.
Instead of receiving the thanks and praises which he expected, he was
drily told that the great man had ordered five copies to be sent back.
Still he toiled on; still he cherished a hope that at last Napoleon
would relent, and that at last some share in the honours of the state
would reward so much assiduity and so much obsequiousness. He was
bitterly undeceived. Under the Imperial constitution the electoral
colleges of the departments did not possess the right of choosing
senators or deputies, but merely that of presenting candidates. From
among these candidates the emperor named members of the senate, and the
senate named members of the legislative body. The inhabitants of the
Upper Pyrenees were still strangely partial to Barere. In the year 1805,
they were disposed to present him as a candidate for the senate. On this
Napoleon expressed the highest displeasure; and the president of the
electoral college was directed to tell the voters, in plain terms, that
such a choice would be disgraceful to the department. All thought of
naming Barere a candidate for the senate was consequently dropped.
But the people of Argeles ventured to name him a candidate for the
legislative body. That body was altogether destitute of weight and
dignity; it was not permitted to debate; its only function was to vote
in silence for whatever the government proposed. It is not easy to
understand how any man who had sat in free and powerful deliberative
assemblies could condescend to bear a part in such a mummery. Barere,
however, was desirous of a place even in this mock legislature; and a
place even in this mock legislature was refused to him. In the whole
senate he had not a single vote.

Such treatment was sufficient, it might have been thought, to move the
most abject of mankind to resentment. Still, however, Barere cringed and
fawned on. His letters came weekly to the Tuileries till the year
1807. At length, while he was actually writing the two hundred and
twenty-third of the series, a note was put into his hands. It was from
Duroc, and was much more perspicuous than polite. Barere was requested
to send no more of his Reports to the palace, as the Emperor was too
busy to read them.

Contempt, says the Indian proverb, pierces even the shell of the
tortoise; and the contempt of the Court was felt to the quick even by
the callous heart of Barere. He had humbled himself to the dust; and he
had humbled himself in vain. Having been eminent among the rulers of
a great and victorious state, he had stooped to serve a master in the
vilest capacities; and he had been told that, even in those capacities,
he was not worthy of the pittance which had been disdainfully flung to
him. He was now degraded below the level even of the hirelings whom the
government employed in the most infamous offices. He stood idle in
the market-place, not because he thought any office too infamous, but
because none would hire him.

Yet he had reason to think himself fortunate; for, had all that
is avowed in these Memoirs been known, he would have received very
different tokens of the Imperial displeasure. We learn from himself
that, while publishing daily columns of flattery on Bonaparte, and while
carrying weekly budgets of calumny to the Tuileries, he was in close
connection with the agents whom the Emperor Alexander, then by no means
favourably disposed towards France, employed to watch all that passed at
Paris; was permitted to read their secret despatches; was consulted by
them as to the temper of the public mind and the character of Napoleon;
and did his best to persuade them that the government was in a tottering
condition, and that the new sovereign was not, as the world supposed,
a great statesman and soldier. Next, Barere, still the flatterer and
talebearer of the Imperial Court, connected himself in the same manner
with the Spanish envoy. He owns that with that envoy he had relations
which he took the greatest pains to conceal from his own government;
that they met twice a day; and that their conversation chiefly turned
on the vices of Napoleon; on his designs against Spain, and on the best
mode of rendering those designs abortive. In truth, Barere's baseness
was unfathomable. In the lowest deeps of shame he found out lower deeps.
It is bad to be a sycophant; it is bad to be a spy. But even among
sycophants and spies there are degrees of meanness. The vilest sycophant
is he who privily slanders the master on whom he fawns; and the vilest
spy is he who serves foreigners against the government of his native
land.

From 1807 to 1814 Barere lived in obscurity, railing as bitterly as his
craven cowardice would permit against the Imperial administration,
and coming sometimes unpleasantly across the police. When the Bourbons
returned, he, as might have been expected, became a royalist, and
wrote a pamphlet setting forth the horrors of the system from which the
Restoration had delivered France, and magnifying the wisdom and goodness
which had dictated the charter. He who had voted for the death of Louis,
he who had moved the decree for the trial of Marie Antoinette, he whose
hatred of monarchy had led him to make war even upon the sepulchres of
ancient monarchs, assures us, with great complacency, that "in this work
monarchical principles and attachment to the House of Bourbon are nobly
expressed." By this apostasy he got nothing, not even any additional
infamy; for his character was already too black to be blackened.

During the hundred days he again emerged for a very short time into
public life; he was chosen by his native district a member of the
Chamber of Representatives. But, though that assembly was composed in
a great measure of men who regarded the excesses of the Jacobins with
indulgence, he found himself an object of general aversion. When the
President first informed the Chamber that M. Barere requested a hearing,
a deep and indignant murmur ran round the benches. After the battle of
Waterloo, Barere proposed that the Chamber should save France from the
victorious enemy, by putting forth a proclamation about the pass of
Thermopylae and the Lacedaemonian custom of wearing flowers in times of
extreme danger. Whether this composition, if it had then appeared, would
have stopped the English and Prussian armies, is a question respecting
which we are left to conjecture. The Chamber refused to adopt this last
of the Carmagnoles.

The Emperor had abdicated. The Bourbons returned. The Chamber of
Representatives, after burlesquing during a few weeks the proceedings
of the National Convention, retired with the well-earned character of
having been the silliest political assembly that had met in France.
Those dreaming pedants and praters never for a moment comprehended
their position. They could never understand that Europe must be either
conciliated or vanquished; that Europe could be conciliated only by
the restoration of Louis, and vanquished only by means of a dictatorial
power entrusted to Napoleon. They would not hear of Louis; yet they
would not hear of the only measures which could keep him out. They
incurred the enmity of all foreign powers by putting Napoleon at their
head; yet they shackled him, thwarted him, quarrelled with him about
every trifle, abandoned him on the first reverse. They then opposed
declamations and disquisitions to eight hundred thousand bayonets;
played at making a constitution for their country, when it depended on
the indulgence of the victor whether they should have a country; and
were at last interrupted, in the midst of their babble about the rights
of man and the sovereignty of the people, by the soldiers of Wellington
and Blucher.

A new Chamber of Deputies was elected, so bitterly hostile to the
Revolution that there was no small risk of a new Reign of Terror. It
is just, however, to say that the king, his ministers, and his allies
exerted themselves to restrain the violence of the fanatical royalists,
and that the punishments inflicted, though in our opinion unjustifiable,
were few and lenient when compared with those which were demanded by M.
de Labourdonnaye and M. Hyde de Neuville. We have always heard, and are
inclined to believe, that the government was not disposed to treat
even the regicides with severity. But on this point the feeling of the
Chamber of Deputies was so strong that it was thought necessary to make
some concession. It was enacted, therefore, that whoever, having voted
in January 1793 for the death of Louis the Sixteenth, had in any manner
given in an adhesion to the government of Bonaparte during the hundred
days should be banished for life from France. Barere fell within this
description. He had voted for the death of Louis; and he had sat in the
Chamber of Representatives during the hundred days.

He accordingly retired to Belgium, and resided there, forgotten by all
mankind, till the year 1830. After the revolution of July he was at
liberty to return to France; and he fixed his residence in his native
province. But he was soon involved in a succession of lawsuits with his
nearest relations--"three fatal sisters and an ungrateful brother," to
use his own words. Who was in the right is a question about which we
have no means of judging, and certainly shall not take Barere's word.
The Courts appear to have decided some points in his favour and some
against him. The natural inference is, that there were faults on all
sides. The result of this litigation was that the old man was reduced to
extreme poverty, and was forced to sell his paternal house.

As far as we can judge from the few facts which remain to be mentioned,
Barere continued Barere to the last. After his exile he turned Jacobin
again, and, when he came back to France, joined the party of the
extreme left in railing at Louis Philippe, and at all Louis Philippe's
ministers. M. Casimir Perier, M. De Broglie, M. Guizot, and M. Thiers,
in particular, are honoured with his abuse; and the King himself is held
up to execration as a hypocritical tyrant. Nevertheless, Barere had no
scruple about accepting a charitable donation of a thousand francs a
year from the privy purse of the sovereign whom he hated and reviled.
This pension, together with some small sums occasionally doled out
to him by the department of the Interior, on the ground that he was
a distressed man of letters, and by the department of Justice, on the
ground that he had formerly held a high judicial office, saved him from
the necessity of begging his bread. Having survived all his colleagues
of the renowned Committee of Public Safety, and almost all his
colleagues of the Convention, he died in January 1841. He had attained
his eighty-sixth year.

We have now laid before our readers what we believe to be a just account
of this man's life. Can it be necessary for us to add anything for the
purpose of assisting their judgment of his character? If we were writing
about any of his colleagues in the Committee of Public Safety, about
Carnot, about Robespierre, or Saint Just, nay, even about Couthon,
Collot, or Billaud, we might feel it necessary to go into a full
examination of the arguments which have been employed to vindicate or
to excuse the system of Terror. We could, we think, show that France
was saved from her foreign enemies, not by the system of Terror, but in
spite of it; and that the perils which were made the plea of the violent
policy of the Mountain were to a great extent created by that very
policy. We could, we think, also show that the evils produced by
the Jacobin administration did not terminate when it fell; that it
bequeathed a long series of calamities to France and to Europe; that
public opinion, which had during two generations been constantly
becoming more and more favourable to civil and religious freedom,
underwent, during the days of Terror, a change of which the traces are
still to be distinctly perceived. It was natural that there should
be such a change, when men saw that those who called themselves the
champions of popular rights had compressed into the space of twelve
months more crimes than the Kings of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian,
and Capetian, had perpetrated in twelve centuries. Freedom was regarded
as a great delusion. Men were willing to submit to the government of
hereditary princes, of fortunate soldiers, of nobles, of priests; to
any government but that of philosophers and philanthropists. Hence the
imperial despotism, with its enslaved press and its silent tribune,
its dungeons stronger than the old Bastile, and its tribunals more
obsequious than the old parliaments. Hence the restoration of the
Bourbons and of the Jesuits, the Chamber of 1815 with its categories of
proscription, the revival of the feudal spirit, the encroachments of
the clergy, the persecution of the Protestants, the appearance of a new
breed of De Montforts and Dominics in the full light of the nineteenth
century. Hence the admission of France into the Holy Alliance, and the
war waged by the old soldiers of the tricolor against the liberties of
Spain. Hence, too, the apprehensions with which, even at the present
day, the most temperate plans for widening the narrow basis of
the French representation are regarded by those who are especially
interested in the security of property and maintenance of order. Half
a century has not sufficed to obliterate the stain which one year of
depravity and madness has left on the noblest of causes.

Nothing is more ridiculous than the manner in which writers like M.
Hippolyte Carnot defend or excuse the Jacobin administration, while
they declaim against the reaction which followed. That the reaction has
produced and is still producing much evil, is perfectly true. But what
produced the reaction? The spring flies up with a force proportioned to
that with which it has been pressed down. The pendulum which is drawn
far in one direction swings as far in the other. The joyous madness of
intoxication in the evening is followed by languor and nausea on the
morrow. And so, in politics, it is the sure law that every excess shall
generate its opposite; nor does he deserve the name of a statesman
who strikes a great blow without fully calculating the effect of the
rebound. But such calculation was infinitely beyond the reach of the
authors of the Reign of Terror. Violence, and more violence, blood,
and more blood, made up their whole policy. In a few months these poor
creatures succeeded in bringing about a reaction, of which none of them
saw, and of which none of us may see the close; and, having brought it
about, they marvelled at it; they bewailed it; they execrated it; they
ascribed it to everything but the real cause--their own immortality and
their own profound incapacity for the conduct of great affairs.

These, however, are considerations to which, on the present occasion, it
is hardly necessary for us to advert; for, be the defence which has been
set up for the Jacobin policy good or bad, it is a defence which cannot
avail Barere. From his own life, from his own pen, from his own mouth,
we can prove that the part which he took in the work of blood is to be
attributed, not even to sincere fanaticism, not even to misdirected
and ill-regulated patriotism, but either to cowardice, or to delight in
human misery. Will it be pretended that it was from public spirit that
he murdered the Girondists? In these very Memoirs he tells us that he
always regarded their death as the greatest calamity that could befall
France. Will it be pretended that it was from public spirit that he
raved for the head of the Austrian woman? In these very Memoirs he tells
us that the time spent in attacking her was ill spent, and ought to have
been employed in concerting measures of national defence. Will it be
pretended that he was induced by sincere and earnest abhorrence of
kingly government to butcher the living and to outrage the dead; he who
invited Napoleon to take the title of King of Kings, he who assures us
that after the Restoration he expressed in noble language his attachment
to monarchy, and to the house of Bourbon? Had he been less mean,
something might have been said in extenuation of his cruelty. Had he
been less cruel, something might have been said in extenuation of his
meanness. But for him, regicide and court-spy, for him who patronised
Lebon and betrayed Demerville, for him who wantoned alternately in
gasconades of Jacobinism and gasconades of servility, what excuse has
the largest charity to offer?

We cannot conclude without saying something about two parts of his
character, which his biographer appears to consider as deserving of
high admiration. Barere, it is admitted, was somewhat fickle; but in two
things he was consistent, in his love of Christianity, and in his hatred
to England. If this were so, we must say that England is much more
beholden to him than Christianity.

It is possible that our inclinations may bias our judgment; but we think
that we do not flatter ourselves when we say that Barere's aversion to
our country was a sentiment as deep and constant as his mind was
capable of entertaining. The value of this compliment is indeed somewhat
diminished by the circumstance that he knew very little about us.
His ignorance of our institutions, manners, and history is the less
excusable, because, according to his own account, he consorted much,
during the peace of Amiens, with Englishmen of note, such as that
eminent nobleman Lord Greaten, and that not less eminent philosopher
Mr Mackensie Coefhis. In spite, however, of his connection with these
well-known ornaments of our country, he was so ill-informed about us as
to fancy that our government was always laying plans to torment him.
If he was hooted at Saintes, probably by people whose relations he had
murdered, it was because the cabinet of St James's had hired the mob. If
nobody would read his bad books it was because the cabinet of St James's
had secured the Reviewers. His accounts of Mr Fox, of Mr Pitt, of the
Duke of Wellington, of Mr Canning, swarm with blunders surpassing even
the ordinary blunders committed by Frenchmen who write about England. Mr
Fox and Mr Pitt, he tells us, were ministers in two different reigns.
Mr Pitt's sinking fund was instituted in order to enable England to pay
subsidies to the powers allied against the French republic. The Duke
of Wellington's house in Hyde Park was built by the nation, which twice
voted the sum of 200,000 pounds for the purpose. This, however, is
exclusive of the cost of the frescoes, which were also paid for out of
the public purse. Mr Canning was the first Englishman whose death
Europe had reason to lament; for the death of Lord Ward, a relation, we
presume, of Lord Greaten and Mr Coefhis, had been an immense benefit to
mankind.

Ignorant, however, as Barere was, he knew enough of us to hate us; and
we persuade ourselves that, had he known us better, he would have hated
us more. The nation which has combined, beyond all example and all hope,
the blessings of liberty with those of order, might well be an object
of aversion to one who had been false alike to the cause of order and
to the cause of liberty. We have had amongst us intemperate zeal for
popular rights; we have had amongst us also the intemperance of loyalty.
But we have never been shocked by such a spectacle as the Barere
of 1794, or as the Barere of 1804. Compared with him, our fiercest
demagogues have been gentle; compared with him, our meanest courtiers
have been manly. Mix together Thistlewood and Bubb Doddington; and you
are still far from having Barere. The antipathy between him and us is
such, that neither for the crimes of his earlier nor for those of his
later life does our language, rich as it is, furnish us with adequate
names. We have found it difficult to relate his history without having
perpetual recourse to the French vocabulary of horror, and to the French
vocabulary of baseness. It is not easy to give a notion of his conduct
in the Convention, without using those emphatic terms, guillotinade,
noyade, fusillade, mitraillade. It is not easy to give a notion of his
conduct under the Consulate and the Empire without borrowing such words
as mouchard and mouton.

We therefore like his invectives against us much better than
anything else that he has written; and dwell on them, not merely with
complacency, but with a feeling akin to gratitude. It was but little
that he could do to promote the honour of our country; but that little
he did strenuously and constantly. Renegade, traitor, slave, coward,
liar, slanderer, murderer, hack writer, police-spy--the one small
service which he could render to England was to hate her: and such as he
was may all who hate her be!

We cannot say that we contemplate with equal satisfaction that fervent
and constant zeal for religion which, according to M. Hippolyte Carnot,
distinguished Barere; for, as we think that whatever brings dishonour on
religion is a serious evil, we had, we own, indulged a hope that Barere
was an atheist. We now learn, however, that he was at no time even a
sceptic, that he adhered to his faith through the whole Revolution, and
that he has left several manuscript works on divinity. One of these is
a pious treatise, entitled "Of Christianity, and of its Influence."
Another consists of meditations on the Psalms, which will doubtless
greatly console and edify the Church.

This makes the character complete. Whatsoever things are false,
whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are unjust,
whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever
things are of evil report, if there be any vice, and if there be any
infamy, all these things, we knew, were blended in Barere. But one thing
was still wanting; and that M. Hippolyte Carnot has supplied. When to
such an assemblage of qualities a high profession of piety is added,
the effect becomes overpowering. We sink under the contemplation of such
exquisite and manifold perfection; and feel, with deep humility, how
presumptuous it was in us to think of composing the legend of this
beatified athlete of the faith, St Bertrand of the Carmagnoles.

Something more we had to say about him. But let him go. We did not seek
him out, and will not keep him longer. If those who call themselves his
friends had not forced him on our notice we should never have vouchsafed
to him more than a passing word of scorn and abhorrence, such as we
might fling at his brethren, Hebert and Fouquier Tinville, and Carrier
and Lebon. We have no pleasure in seeing human nature thus degraded. We
turn with disgust from the filthy and spiteful Yahoos of the fiction;
and the filthiest and most spiteful Yahoo of the fiction was a noble
creature when compared with the Barere of history. But what is no
pleasure M. Hippolyte Carnot has made a duty. It is no light thing
that a man in high and honourable public trust, a man who, from his
connections and position, may not unnaturally be supposed to speak the
sentiments of a large class of his countrymen, should come forward to
demand approbation for a life black with every sort of wickedness, and
unredeemed by a single virtue. This M. Hippolyte Carnot has done. By
attempting to enshrine this Jacobin carrion, he has forced us to gibbet
it; and we venture to say that, from the eminence of infamy on which we
have placed it, he will not easily take it down.





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