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Title: Critical and Historical Essays — Volume 2
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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(March 1827)

Oeuvres completes de MACHIAVEL, traduites par J. V. PERIER Paris:

Those who have attended to the practice of our literary tribunal
are well aware that, by means of certain legal fictions similar
to those of Westminster Hall, we are frequently enabled to take
cognisance of cases lying beyond the sphere of our original
jurisdiction. We need hardly say, therefore, that in the present
instance M. Perier is merely a Richard Roe, who will not be
mentioned in any subsequent stage of the proceedings, and whose
name is used for the sole purpose of bringing Machiavelli into

We doubt whether any name in literary history be so generally
odious as that of the man whose character and writings we now
propose to consider. The terms in which he is commonly described
would seem to import that he was the Tempter, the Evil Principle,
the discoverer of ambition and revenge, the original inventor of
perjury, and that, before the publication of his fatal Prince,
there had never been a hypocrite, a tyrant, or a traitor, a
simulated virtue, or a convenient crime. One writer gravely
assures us that Maurice of Saxony learned all his fraudulent
policy from that execrable volume. Another remarks that since it
was translated into Turkish, the Sultans have been more addicted
than formerly to the custom of strangling their brothers. Lord
Lyttelton charges the poor Florentine with the manifold treasons
of the house of Guise, and with the massacre of St. Bartholomew.
Several authors have hinted that the Gunpowder Plot is to be
primarily attributed to his doctrines, and seem to think that his
effigy ought to be substituted for that of Guy Faux, in those
processions by which the ingenious youth of England annually
commemorate the preservation of the Three Estates. The Church of
Rome has pronounced his works accursed things. Nor have our own
countrymen been backward in testifying their opinion of his
merits. Out of his surname they have coined an epithet for a
knave, and out of his Christian name a synonym for the Devil.

[Nick Machiavel had ne'er a trick,
Tho' he gave his name to our old Nick.

Hudibras, Part iii. Canto i.

But, we believe, there is a schism on this subject among the

It is indeed scarcely possible for any person, not well
acquainted with the history and literature of Italy, to read
without horror and amazement the celebrated treatise which has
brought so much obloquy on the name of Machiavelli. Such a
display of wickedness, naked yet not ashamed, such cool,
judicious, scientific atrocity, seemed rather to belong to a
fiend than to the most depraved of men. Principles which the most
hardened ruffian would scarcely hint to his most trusted
accomplice, or avow, without the disguise of some palliating
sophism, even to his own mind, are professed without the
slightest circumlocution, and assumed as the fundamental axioms
of all political science.

It is not strange that ordinary readers should regard the author
of such a book as the most depraved and shameless of human
beings. Wise men, however, have always been inclined to look with
great suspicion on the angels and daemons of the multitude: and
in the present instance, several circumstances have led even
superficial observers to question the justice of the vulgar
decision. It is notorious that Machiavelli was, through life, a
zealous republican. In the same year in which he composed his
manual of King-craft, he suffered imprisonment and torture in the
cause of public liberty. It seems inconceivable that the martyr
of freedom should have designedly acted as the apostle of
tyranny. Several eminent writers have, therefore, endeavoured to
detect in this unfortunate performance some concealed meaning,
more consistent with the character and conduct of the author than
that which appears at the first glance.

One hypothesis is that Machiavelli intended to practise on the
young Lorenzo de Medici a fraud similar to that which Sunderland
is said to have employed against our James the Second, and that
he urged his pupil to violent and perfidious measures, as the
surest means of accelerating the moment of deliverance and
revenge. Another supposition which Lord Bacon seems to
countenance, is that the treatise was merely a piece of grave
irony, intended to warn nations against the arts of ambitious
men. It would be easy to show that neither of these solutions is
consistent with many passages in The Prince itself. But the most
decisive refutation is that which is furnished by the other works
of Machiavelli. In all the writings which he gave to the public,
and in all those which the research of editors has, in the course
of three centuries, discovered, in his Comedies, designed for the
entertainment of the multitude, in his Comments on Livy, intended
for the perusal of the most enthusiastic patriots of Florence, in
his History, inscribed to one of the most amiable and estimable
of the Popes, in his public despatches, in his private memoranda,
the same obliquity of moral principle for which The Prince is so
severely censured is more or less discernible. We doubt whether
it would be possible to find, in all the many volumes of his
compositions, a single expression indicating that dissimulation
and treachery had ever struck him as discreditable.

After this, it may seem ridiculous to say that we are acquainted
with few writings which exhibit so much elevation of sentiment,
so pure and warm a zeal for the public good, or so just a view of
the duties and rights of citizens, as those of Machiavelli. Yet
so it is. And even from The Prince itself we could select many
passages in support of this remark. To a reader of our age and
country this inconsistency is, at first, perfectly bewildering.
The whole man seems to be an enigma, a grotesque assemblage of
incongruous qualities, selfishness and generosity, cruelty and
benevolence, craft and simplicity, abject villainy and romantic
heroism. One sentence is such as a veteran diplomatist would
scarcely write in cipher for the direction of his most
confidential spy; the next seems to be extracted from a theme
composed by an ardent schoolboy on the death of Leonidas. An act
of dexterous perfidy, and an act of patriotic self-devotion, call
forth the same kind and the same degree of respectful admiration.
The moral sensibility of the writer seems at once to be morbidly
obtuse and morbidly acute. Two characters altogether dissimilar
are united in him. They are not merely joined, but interwoven.
They are the warp and the woof of his mind; and their
combination, like that of the variegated threads in shot silk,
gives to the whole texture a glancing and ever-changing
appearance. The explanation might have been easy, if he had been
a very weak or a very affected man. But he was evidently neither
the one nor the other. His works prove, beyond all contradiction,
that his understanding was strong, his taste pure, and his sense
of the ridiculous exquisitely keen.

This is strange: and yet the strangest is behind. There is no
reason whatever to think, that those amongst whom he lived saw
anything shocking or incongruous in his writings. Abundant proofs
remain of the high estimation in which both his works and his
person were held by the most respectable among his
contemporaries. Clement the Seventh patronised the publication of
those very books which the Council of Trent, in the following
generation, pronounced unfit for the perusal of Christians. Some
members of the democratical party censured the Secretary for
dedicating The Prince to a patron who bore the unpopular name of
Medici. But to those immoral doctrines which have since called
forth such severe reprehensions no exception appears to have been
taken. The cry against them was first raised beyond the Alps, and
seems to have been heard with amazement in Italy. The earliest
assailant, as far as we are aware, was a countryman of our own,
Cardinal Pole. The author of the Anti-Machiavelli was a French

It is, therefore, in the state of moral feeling among the
Italians of those times that we must seek for the real
explanation of what seems most mysterious in the life and
writings of this remarkable man. As this is a subject which
suggests many interesting considerations, both political and
metaphysical, we shall make no apology for discussing it at some

During the gloomy and disastrous centuries which followed the
downfall of the Roman Empire, Italy had preserved, in a far
greater degree than any other part of Western Europe, the traces
of ancient civilisation. The night which descended upon her was
the night of an Arctic summer. The dawn began to reappear before
the last reflection of the preceding sunset had faded from the
horizon. It was in the time of the French Merovingians and of the
Saxon Heptarchy that ignorance and ferocity seemed to have done
their worst. Yet even then the Neapolitan provinces, recognising
the authority of the Eastern Empire, preserved something of
Eastern knowledge and refinement. Rome, protected by the sacred
character of her Pontiffs, enjoyed at least comparative security
and repose, Even in those regions where the sanguinary Lombards
had fixed their monarchy, there was incomparably more of wealth,
of information, of physical comfort, and of social order, than
could be found in Gaul, Britain, or Germany.

That which most distinguished Italy from the neighbouring
countries was the importance which the population of the towns,
at a very early period, began to acquire. Some cities had been
founded in wild and remote situations, by fugitives who had
escaped from the rage of the barbarians. Such were Venice and
Genoa, which preserved their freedom by their obscurity, till
they became able to preserve it by their power. Other cities seem
to have retained, under all the changing dynasties of invaders,
under Odoacer and Theodoric, Narses and Alboin, the municipal
institutions which had been conferred on them by the liberal
policy of the Great Republic. In provinces which the central
government was too feeble either to protect or to oppress, these
institutions gradually acquired stability and vigour. The
citizens, defended by their walls, and governed by their own
magistrates and their own by-laws, enjoyed a considerable share
of republican independence. Thus a strong democratic spirit was
called into action. The Carlovingian sovereigns were too imbecile
to subdue it. The generous policy of Otho encouraged it. It might
perhaps have been suppressed by a close coalition between the
Church and the Empire. It was fostered and invigorated by their
disputes. In the twelfth century it attained its full vigour,
and, after a long and doubtful conflict, triumphed over the
abilities and courage of the Swabian princes.

The assistance of the Ecclesiastical power had greatly
contributed to the success of the Guelfs. That success would,
however, have been a doubtful good, if its only effect had been
to substitute a moral for a political servitude, and to exalt the
Popes at the expense of the Caesars. Happily the public mind of
Italy had long contained the seeds of free opinions, which were
now rapidly developed by the genial influence of free
institutions. The people of that country had observed the whole
machinery of the Church, its saints and its miracles, its lofty
pretensions and its splendid ceremonial, its worthless blessings
and its harmless curses, too long and too closely to be duped.
They stood behind the scenes on which others were gazing with
childish awe and interest. They witnessed the arrangement of the
pulleys, and the manufacture of the thunders. They saw the
natural faces and heard the natural voices of the actors. Distant
nations looked on the Pope as the Vicegerent of the Almighty, the
oracle of the All-wise, the umpire from whose decisions, in the
disputes either of theologians or of kings, no Christian ought to
appeal. The Italians were acquainted with all the follies of his
youth, and with all the dishonest arts by which he had attained
power. They knew how often he had employed the keys of the Church
to release himself from the most sacred engagements, and its
wealth to pamper his mistresses and nephews. The doctrines and
rites of the established religion they treated with decent
reverence. But though they still called themselves Catholics,
they had ceased to be Papists. Those spiritual arms which carried
terror into the palaces and camps of the proudest sovereigns
excited only contempt in the immediate neighbourhood of the
Vatican. Alexander, when he commanded our Henry the Second to
submit to the lash before the tomb of a rebellious subject, was
himself an exile. The Romans apprehending that he entertained
designs against their liberties, had driven him from their city;
and though he solemnly promised to confine himself for the future
to his spiritual functions, they still refused to readmit him.

In every other part of Europe, a large and powerful privileged
class trampled on the people and defied the Government. But in
the most flourishing parts of Italy, the feudal nobles were
reduced to comparative insignificance. In some districts they
took shelter under the protection of the powerful commonwealths
which they were unable to oppose, and gradually sank into the
mass of burghers. In other places they possessed great influence;
but it was an influence widely different from that which was
exercised by the aristocracy of any Transalpine kingdom. They
were not petty princes, but eminent citizens. Instead of
strengthening their fastnesses among the mountains, they
embellished their palaces in the market-place. The state of
society in the Neapolitan dominions, and in some parts of the
Ecclesiastical State, more nearly resembled that which existed in
the great monarchies of Europe. But the Governments of Lombardy
and Tuscany, through all their revolutions, preserved a different
character. A people, when assembled in a town, is far more
formidable to its rulers than when dispersed over a wide extent
of country. The most arbitrary of the Caesars found it necessary
to feed and divert the inhabitants of their unwieldy capital at
the expense of the provinces. The citizens of Madrid have more
than once besieged their sovereign in his own palace, and
extorted from him the most humiliating concessions. The Sultans
have often been compelled to propitiate the furious rabble of
Constantinople with the head of an unpopular Vizier. From the
same cause there was a certain tinge of democracy in the
monarchies and aristocracies of Northern Italy.

Thus liberty, partially indeed and transiently, revisited Italy;
and with liberty came commerce and empire, science and taste, all
the comforts and all the ornaments of life. The Crusades, from
which the inhabitants of other countries gained nothing but
relics and wounds, brought to the rising commonwealths of the
Adriatic and Tyrrhene seas a large increase of wealth, dominion,
and knowledge. The moral and geographical position of those
commonwealths enabled them to profit alike by the barbarism of
the West and by the civilisation of the East. Italian ships
covered every sea. Italian factories rose on every shore. The
tables of Italian moneychangers were set in every city.
Manufactures flourished. Banks were established. The operations
of the commercial machine were facilitated by many useful and
beautiful inventions. We doubt whether any country of Europe, our
own excepted, have at the present time reached so high a point
of wealth and civilisation as some parts of Italy had attained
four hundred years ago. Historians rarely descend to those
details from which alone the real state of a community can be
collected. Hence posterity is too often deceived by the vague
hyperboles of poets and rhetoricians, who mistake the splendour
of a court for the happiness of a people. Fortunately, John
Villani has given us an ample and precise account of the state of
Florence in the early part of the fourteenth century. The revenue
of the Republic amounted to three hundred thousand florins; a sum
which, allowing for the depreciation of the precious metals, was
at least equivalent to six hundred thousand pounds sterling; a
larger sum than England and Ireland, two centuries ago, yielded
annually to Elizabeth. The manufacture of wool alone employed two
hundred factories and thirty thousand workmen. The cloth annually
produced sold, at an average, for twelve hundred thousand
florins; a sum fully equal in exchangeable value to two millions
and a half of our money. Four hundred thousand florins were
annually coined. Eighty banks conducted the commercial
operations, not of Florence only but of all Europe. The
transactions of these establishments were sometimes of a
magnitude which may surprise even the contemporaries of the
Barings and the Rothschilds. Two houses advanced to Edward the
Third of England upwards of three hundred thousand marks, at a
time when the mark contained more silver than fifty shillings of
the present day, and when the value of silver was more than
quadruple of what it now is. The city and its environs contained
a hundred and seventy thousand inhabitants. In the various
schools about ten thousand children were taught to read; twelve
hundred studied arithmetic; six hundred received a learned

The progress of elegant literature and of the fine arts was
proportioned to that of the public prosperity. Under the despotic
successors of Augustus, all the fields of intellect had been
turned into arid wastes, still marked out by formal
boundaries, still retaining the traces of old cultivation, but
yielding neither flowers nor fruit. The deluge of barbarism came.
It swept away all the landmarks. It obliterated all the signs of
former tillage. But it fertilised while it devastated. When it
receded, the wilderness was as the garden of God, rejoicing on
every side, laughing, clapping its hands, pouring forth, in
spontaneous abundance, everything brilliant, or fragrant, or
nourishing. A new language, characterised by simple sweetness and
simple energy, had attained perfection. No tongue ever furnished
more gorgeous and vivid tints to poetry; nor was it long before a
poet appeared who knew how to employ them. Early in the
fourteenth century came forth the Divine Comedy, beyond
comparison the greatest work of imagination which had appeared
since the poems of Homer. The following generation produced
indeed no second Dante: but it was eminently distinguished by
general intellectual activity. The study of the Latin writers had
never been wholly neglected in Italy. But Petrarch introduced a
more profound, liberal, and elegant scholarship, and communicated
to his countrymen that enthusiasm for the literature, the
history, and the antiquities of Rome, which divided his own heart
with a frigid mistress and a more frigid Muse. Boccaccio turned
their attention to the more sublime and graceful models of

From this time, the admiration of learning and genius became
almost an idolatry among the people of Italy. Kings and
republics, cardinals and doges, vied with each other in honouring
and flattering Petrarch. Embassies from rival States solicited
the honour of his instructions. His coronation agitated the Court
of Naples and the people of Rome as much as the most important
political transaction could have done. To collect books and
antiques, to found professorships, to patronise men of learning,
became almost universal fashions among the great. The spirit of
literary research allied itself to that of commercial enterprise.
Every place to which the merchant princes of Florence extended
their gigantic traffic, from the bazars of the Tigris to the
monasteries of the Clyde, was ransacked for medals and
manuscripts. Architecture, painting, and sculpture, were
munificently encouraged. Indeed it would be difficult to name an
Italian of eminence, during the period of which we speak, who,
whatever may have been his general character, did not at least
affect a love of letters and of the arts.

Knowledge and public prosperity continued to advance together.
Both attained their meridian in the age of Lorenzo the
Magnificent. We cannot refrain from quoting the splendid passage,
in which the Tuscan Thucydides describes the state of Italy at
that period. "Ridotta tutta in somma pace e tranquillita,
coltivata non meno ne' luoghi piu montuosi e piu sterili che
nelle pianure e regioni piu fertili, ne sottoposta ad altro
imperio che de' suoi medesimi, non solo era abbondantissima d'
abitatori e di ricchezze; ma illustrata sommamente dalla
magnificenza di molti principi, dallo splendore di molte
nobilissime e bellissime citta, dalla sedia e maesta della
religione, fioriva d' uomini prestantissimi nell' amministrazione
delle cose pubbliche, e d'ingegni molto nobili in tutte le
scienze, ed in qualunque arte preclara ed industriosa." When we
peruse this just and splendid description, we can scarcely
persuade ourselves that we are reading of times in which the
annals of England and France present us only with a frightful
spectacle of poverty, barbarity, and ignorance. From the
oppressions of illiterate masters, and the sufferings of a
degraded peasantry, it is delightful to turn to the opulent and
enlightened States of Italy, to the vast and magnificent cities,
the ports, the arsenals, the villas, the museums, the libraries,
the marts filled with every article of comfort or luxury, the
factories swarming with artisans, the Apennines covered with rich
cultivation up to their very summits, the Po wafting the harvests
of Lombardy to the granaries of Venice, and carrying back the
silks of Bengal and the furs of Siberia to the palaces of Milan.
With peculiar pleasure, every cultivated mind must repose on the
fair, the happy, the glorious Florence, the halls which rang with
the mirth of Pulci, the cell where twinkled the midnight lamp of
Politian, the statues on which the young eye of Michael Angelo
glared with the frenzy of a kindred inspiration, the gardens in
which Lorenzo meditated some sparkling song for the May-day dance
of the Etrurian virgins. Alas for the beautiful city! Alas for
the wit and the learning, the genius and the love!

"Le donne, e i cavalier, gli affanni, e gli agi,
Che ne 'nvogliava amore e cortesia
La dove i cuor son fatti si malvagi."

A time was at hand, when all the seven vials of the Apocalypse
were to be poured forth and shaken out over those pleasant
countries, a time of slaughter, famine, beggary, infamy, slavery,

In the Italian States, as in many natural bodies, untimely
decrepitude was the penalty of precocious maturity. Their early
greatness, and their early decline, are principally to be
attributed to the same cause, the preponderance which the towns
acquired in the political system.

In a community of hunters or of shepherds, every man easily and
necessarily becomes a soldier. His ordinary avocations are
perfectly compatible with all the duties of military service.
However remote may be the expedition on which he is bound, he
finds it easy to transport with him the stock from which he
derives his subsistence. The whole people is an army; the whole
year a march. Such was the state of society which facilitated the
gigantic conquests of Attila and Tamerlane.

But a people which subsists by the cultivation of the earth is in
a very different situation. The husbandman is bound to the soil
on which he labours. A long campaign would be ruinous to him.
Still his pursuits are such as give to his frame both the active
and the passive strength necessary to a soldier. Nor do they, at
least in the infancy of agricultural science, demand his
uninterrupted attention. At particular times of the year he is
almost wholly unemployed, and can, without injury to himself,
afford the time necessary for a short expedition. Thus the
legions of Rome were supplied during its earlier wars. The season
during which the fields did not require the presence of the
cultivators sufficed for a short inroad and a battle. These
operations, too frequently interrupted to produce decisive
results, yet served to keep up among the people a degree of
discipline and courage which rendered them, not only secure, but
formidable. The archers and billmen of the middle ages, who, with
provisions for forty days at their backs, left the fields for the
camp, were troops of the same description.

But when commerce and manufactures begin to flourish a great
change takes place. The sedentary habits of the desk and the loom
render the exertions and hardships of war insupportable. The
business of traders and artisans requires their constant presence
and attention. In such a community there is little superfluous
time; but there is generally much superfluous money. Some members
of the society are, therefore, hired to relieve the rest from a
task inconsistent with their habits and engagements.

The history of Greece is, in this, as in many other respects, the
best commentary on the history of Italy. Five hundred years
before the Christian era, the citizens of the republics round the
Aegean Sea formed perhaps the finest militia that ever existed.
As wealth and refinement advanced, the system underwent a gradual
alteration. The Ionian States were the first in which commerce
and the arts were cultivated, and the first in which the ancient
discipline decayed. Within eighty years after the battle of
Plataea, mercenary troops were everywhere plying for battles and
sieges. In the time of Demosthenes, it was scarcely possible to
persuade or compel the Athenians to enlist for foreign service.
The laws of Lycurgus prohibited trade and manufactures. The
Spartans, therefore, continued to form a national force long
after their neighbours had begun to hire soldiers. But their
military spirit declined with their singular institutions. In the
second century before Christ, Greece contained only one nation of
warriors, the savage highlanders of Aetolia, who were some
generations behind their countrymen in civilisation and

All the causes which produced these effects among the Greeks
acted still more strongly on the modern Italians. Instead of a
power like Sparta, in its nature warlike, they had amongst them
an ecclesiastical state, in its nature pacific. Where there are
numerous slaves, every freeman is induced by the strongest
motives to familiarise himself with the use of arms. The
commonwealths of Italy did not, like those of Greece, swarm with
thousands of these household enemies. Lastly, the mode in which
military operations were conducted during the prosperous times of
Italy was peculiarly unfavourable to the formation of an
efficient militia. Men covered with iron from head to foot, armed
with ponderous lances, and mounted on horses of the largest
breed, were considered as composing the strength of an army. The
infantry was regarded as comparatively worthless, and was
neglected till it became really so. These tactics maintained
their ground for centuries in most parts of Europe. That foot-
soldiers could withstand the charge of heavy cavalry was thought
utterly impossible, till, towards the close of the fifteenth
century, the rude mountaineers of Switzerland dissolved the
spell, and astounded the most experienced generals by receiving
the dreaded shock on an impenetrable forest of pikes.

The use of the Grecian spear, the Roman sword, or the modern
bayonet, might be acquired with comparative ease. But nothing
short of the daily exercise of years could train the man-at-arms
to support his ponderous panoply, and manage his unwieldy weapon.
Throughout Europe this most important branch of war became a
separate profession. Beyond the Alps, indeed, though a
profession, it was not generally a trade. It was the duty and the
amusement of a large class of country gentlemen. It was the
service by which they held their lands, and the diversion by
which, in the absence of mental resources, they beguiled their
leisure. But in the Northern States of Italy, as we have already
remarked, the growing power of the cities, where it had not
exterminated this order of men, had completely changed their
habits. Here, therefore, the practice of employing mercenaries
became universal, at a time when it was almost unknown in other

When war becomes the trade of a separate class, the least
dangerous course left to a government is to force that class into
a standing army. It is scarcely possible, that men can pass their
lives in the service of one State, without feeling some interest
in its greatness. Its victories are their victories. Its defeats
are their defeats. The contract loses something of its mercantile
character. The services of the soldier are considered as the
effects of patriotic zeal, his pay as the tribute of national
gratitude. To betray the power which employs him, to be even
remiss in its service, are in his eyes the most atrocious and
degrading of crimes.

When the princes and commonwealths of Italy began to use hired
troops, their wisest course would have been to form separate
military establishments. Unhappily this was not done. The
mercenary warriors of the Peninsula, instead of being attached to
the service of different powers, were regarded as the common
property of all. The connection between the State and its
defenders was reduced to the most simple and naked traffic. The
adventurer brought his horse, his weapons, his strength, and his
experience, into the market. Whether the King of Naples or the
Duke of Milan, the Pope or the Signory of Florence, struck the
bargain, was to him a matter of perfect indifference. He was for
the highest wages and the longest term. When the campaign for
which he had contracted was finished, there was neither law nor
punctilio to prevent him from instantly turning his arms against
his late masters. The soldier was altogether disjoined from the
citizen and from the subject.

The natural consequences followed. Left to the conduct of men who
neither loved those whom they defended, nor hated those whom they
opposed, who were often bound by stronger ties to the army
against which they fought than to the State which they served,
who lost by the termination of the conflict, and gained by its
prolongation, war completely changed its character. Every man
came into the field of battle impressed with the knowledge that,
in a few days, he might be taking the pay of the power against
which he was then employed, and, fighting by the side of his
enemies against his associates. The strongest interests and the
strongest feelings concurred to mitigate the hostility of those
who had lately been brethren in arms, and who might soon be
brethren in arms once more. Their common profession was a bond of
union not to be forgotten even when they were engaged in the
service of contending parties. Hence it was that operations,
languid and indecisive beyond any recorded in history, marches
and counter-marches, pillaging expeditions and blockades,
bloodless capitulations and equally bloodless combats, make up
the military history of Italy during the course of nearly two
centuries. Mighty armies fight from sunrise to sunset. A great
victory is won. Thousands of prisoners are taken; and hardly a
life is lost. A pitched battle seems to have been really less
dangerous than an ordinary civil tumult.

Courage was now no longer necessary even to the military
character. Men grew old in camps, and acquired the highest renown
by their warlike achievements, without being once required to
face serious danger. The political consequences are too well
known. The richest and most enlightened part of the world was
left undefended to the assaults of every barbarous invader, to
the brutality of Switzerland, the insolence of France, and the
fierce rapacity of Arragon. The moral effects which followed from
this state of things were still more remarkable.

Among the rude nations which lay beyond the Alps, valour was
absolutely indispensable. Without it none could be eminent; few
could be secure. Cowardice was, therefore, naturally considered
as the foulest reproach. Among the polished Italians, enriched by
commerce, governed by law, and passionately attached to
literature, everything was done by superiority and intelligence.
Their very wars, more pacific than the peace of their neighbours,
required rather civil than military qualifications. Hence, while
courage was the point of honour in other countries, ingenuity
became the point of honour in Italy.

From these principles were deduced, by processes strictly
analogous, two opposite systems of fashionable morality. Through
the greater part of Europe, the vices which peculiarly belong to
timid dispositions, and which are the natural defence Of
weakness, fraud, and hypocrisy, have always been most
disreputable. On the other hand, the excesses of haughty and
daring spirits have been treated with indulgence, and even with
respect. The Italians regarded with corresponding lenity those
crimes which require self-command, address, quick observation,
fertile invention, and profound knowledge of human nature.

Such a prince as our Henry the Fifth would have been the idol of
the North. The follies of his youth, the selfish ambition of his
manhood, the Lollards roasted at slow fires the prisoners
massacred on the field of battle, the expiring lease of
priestcraft renewed for another century, the dreadful legacy of a
causeless and hopeless war bequeathed to a people who had no
interest in its event, everything is forgotten but the victory of
Agincourt. Francis Sforza, on the other hand, was the model of
Italian heroes. He made his employers and his rivals alike his
tools. He first overpowered his open enemies by the help of
faithless allies; he then armed himself against his allies with
the spoils taken from his enemies. By his incomparable dexterity,
he raised himself from the precarious and dependent situation of
a military adventurer to the first throne of Italy. To such a man
much was forgiven, hollow friendship, ungenerous enmity, violated
faith. Such are the opposite errors which men commit, when their
morality is not a science but a taste, when they abandon eternal
principles for accidental associations.

We have illustrated our meaning by an instance taken from
history. We will select another from fiction. Othello murders his
wife; he gives orders for the murder of his lieutenant; he ends
by murdering himself. Yet he never loses the esteem and affection
of Northern readers. His intrepid and ardent spirit redeems
everything. The unsuspecting confidence with which he listens to
his adviser, the agony with which he shrinks from the thought of
shame, the tempest of passion with which he commits his crimes,
and the haughty fearlessness with which he avows them, give an
extraordinary interest to his character. Iago, on the contrary,
is the object of universal loathing. Many are inclined to suspect
that Shakspeare has been seduced into an exaggeration unusual
with him, and has drawn a monster who has no archetype in human
nature. Now we suspect that an Italian audience in the fifteenth
century would have felt very differently. Othello would have
inspired nothing but detestation and contempt. The folly with
which he trusts the friendly professions of a man whose promotion
he had obstructed, the credulity with which he takes unsupported
assertions, and trivial circumstances, for unanswerable proofs,
the violence with which he silences the exculpation till the
exculpation can only aggravate his misery, would have excited the
abhorrence and disgust of the spectators. The conduct of Iago
they would assuredly have condemned; but they would have
condemned it as we condemn that of his victim. Something of
interest and respect would have mingled with their
disapprobation. The readiness of the traitor's wit, the clearness
of his judgment, the skill with which he penetrates the
dispositions of others and conceals his own, would have ensured
to him a certain portion of their esteem.

So wide was the difference between the Italians and their
neighbours. A similar difference existed between the Greeks of
the second century before Christ, and their masters the Romans.
The conquerors, brave and resolute, faithful to their
engagements, and strongly influenced by religious feelings, were,
at the same time, ignorant, arbitrary, and cruel. With the
vanquished people were deposited all the art, the science, and
the literature of the Western world. In poetry, in philosophy, in
painting, in architecture, in sculpture, they had no rivals.
Their manners were polished, their perceptions acute, their
invention ready; they were tolerant, affable, humane; but of
courage and sincerity they were almost utterly destitute. Every
rude centurion consoled himself for his intellectual inferiority,
by remarking that knowledge and taste seemed only to make men
atheists, cowards, and slaves. The distinction long continued to
be strongly marked, and furnished an admirable subject for the
fierce sarcasms of Juvenal.

The citizen of an Italian commonwealth was the Greek of the time
of Juvenal and the Greek of the time of Pericles, joined in one.
Like the former, he was timid and pliable, artful and mean. But,
like the latter, he had a country. Its independence and
prosperity were dear to him. If his character were degraded by
some base crimes, it was, on the other hand, ennobled by public
spirit and by an honourable ambition,

A vice sanctioned by the general opinion is merely a vice. The
evil terminates in itself. A vice condemned by the general
opinion produces a pernicious effect on the whole character. The
former is a local malady, the latter a constitutional taint. When
the reputation of the offender is lost, he too often flings the
remains of his virtue after it in despair. The Highland gentleman
who, a century ago, lived by taking blackmail from his
neighbours, committed the same crime for which Wild was
accompanied to Tyburn by the huzzas of two hundred thousand
people. But there can be no doubt that he was a much less
depraved man than Wild. The deed for which Mrs.Brownrigg was
hanged sinks into nothing, when compared with theconduct of
the Roman who treated the public to a hundred pair of
gladiators. Yet we should greatly wrong such a Roman if we
supposed that his disposition was as cruel as that of Mrs.
Brownrigg. In our own country, a woman forfeits her place in
society by what, in a man, is too commonly considered as an
honourable distinction, and, at worst, as a venial error. The
consequence is notorious. The moral principle of a woman is
frequently more impaired by a single lapse from virtue than that
of a man by twenty years of intrigues. Classical antiquity would
furnish us with instances stronger, if possible, than those to
which we have referred.

We must apply this principle to the case before us. Habits of
dissimulation and falsehood, no doubt, mark a man of our age and
country as utterly worthless and abandoned. But it by no means
follows that a similar judgment would be just in the case of an
Italian of the middle ages. On the contrary, we frequently find
those faults which we are accustomed to consider as certain
indications of a mind altogether depraved, in company with great
and good qualities, with generosity, with benevolence, with
disinterestedness. From such a state of society, Palamedes, in
the admirable dialogue of Hume, might have drawn illustrations of
his theory as striking as any of those with which Fourli
furnished him. These are not, we well know, the lessons which
historians are generally most careful to teach, or readers most
willing to learn. But they are not therefore useless. How Philip
disposed his troops at Chaeronea, where Hannibal crossed the
Alps, whether Mary blew up Darnley, or Siquier shot Charles the
Twelfth, and ten thousand other questions of the same
description, are in themselves unimportant. The inquiry may amuse
us, but the decision leaves us no wiser. He alone reads history
aright who, observing how powerfully circumstances influence the
feelings and opinions of men, how often vices pass into virtues
and paradoxes into axioms, learns to distinguish what is
accidental and transitory in human nature from what is essential
and immutable.

In this respect no history suggests more important reflections
than that of the Tuscan and Lombard commonwealths. The character
of the Italian statesman seems, at first sight, a collection of
contradictions, a phantom as monstrous as the portress of hell in
Milton, half divinity, half snake, majestic and beautiful above,
grovelling and poisonous below, We see a man whose thoughts and
words have no connection with each other, who never hesitates at
an oath when he wishes to seduce, who never wants a pretext when
he is inclined to betray. His cruelties spring, not from the heat
of blood, or the insanity of uncontrolled power, but from deep
and cool meditation. His passions, like well-trained troops, are
impetuous by rule, and in their most headstrong fury never forget
the discipline to which they have been accustomed. His whole soul
is occupied with vast and complicated schemes of ambition: yet
his aspect and language exhibit nothing but philosophical
moderation. Hatred and revenge eat into his heart: yet every look
is a cordial smile, every gesture a familiar caress. He never
excites the suspicion of his adversaries by petty provocations.
His purpose is disclosed only when it is accomplished. His face
is unruffled, his speech is courteous, till vigilance is laid
asleep, till a vital point is exposed, till a sure aim is taken;
and then he strikes for the first and last time. Military
courage, the boast of the sottish German, of the frivolous and
prating Frenchman, of the romantic and arrogant Spaniard, he
neither possesses nor values. He shuns danger, not because he is
insensible to shame, but because, in the society in which he
lives, timidity has ceased to be shameful. To do an injury openly
is, in his estimation, as wicked as to do it secretly, and far
less profitable. With him the most honourable means are those
which are the surest, the speediest, and the darkest. He cannot
comprehend how a man should scruple to deceive those whom he does
not scruple to destroy. He would think it madness to declare open
hostilities against rivals whom he might stab in a friendly
embrace, or poison in a consecrated wafer.

Yet this man, black with the vices which we consider as most
loathsome, traitor, hypocrite, coward, assassin, was by no means
destitute even of those virtues which we generally consider as
indicating superior elevation of character. In civil courage, in
perseverance, in presence of mind, those barbarous warriors, who
were foremost in the battle or the breach, were far his
inferiors. Even the dangers which he avoided with a caution
almost pusillanimous never confused his perceptions, never
paralysed his inventive faculties, never wrung out one secret
from his smooth tongue, and his inscrutable brow. Though a
dangerous enemy, and a still more dangerous accomplice, he could
be a just and beneficent ruler. With so much unfairness in his
policy, there was an extraordinary degree of fairness in his
intellect. Indifferent to truth in the transactions of life, he
was honestly devoted to truth in the researches of speculation.
Wanton cruelty was not in his nature. On the contrary, where no
political object was at stake, his disposition was soft and
humane. The susceptibility of his nerves and the activity of his
imagination inclined him, to sympathise with the feelings of
others, and to delight in the charities and courtesies of social
life. Perpetually descending to actions which might seem to mark
a mind diseased through all its faculties, he had nevertheless an
exquisite sensibility, both for the natural and the moral
sublime, for every graceful and every lofty conception. Habits of
petty intrigue and dissimulation might have rendered him
incapable of great general views, but that the expanding effect
of his philosophical studies counteracted the narrowing tendency.
He had the keenest enjoyment of wit, eloquence, and poetry. The
fine arts profited alike by the severity of his judgment, and by
the liberality of his patronage. The portraits of some of the
remarkable Italians of those times are perfectly in harmony with
this description. Ample and majestic foreheads, brows strong and
dark, but not frowning, eyes of which the calm full gaze, while
it expresses nothing, seems to discern everything, cheeks pale
with thought and sedentary habits, lips formed with feminine
delicacy, but compressed with more than masculine decision, mark
out men at once enterprising and timid, men equally skilled in
detecting the purposes of others, and in concealing their own,
men who must have been formidable enemies and unsafe allies,
but men, at the same time, whose tempers were mild and equable,
and who possessed an amplitude and subtlety of intellect which
would have rendered them eminent either in active or in
contemplative life, and fitted them either to govern or to
instruct mankind.

Every age and every nation has certain characteristic vices,
which prevail almost universally, which scarcely any person
scruples to avow, and which even rigid moralists but faintly
censure. Succeeding generations change the fashion of their
morals, with the fashion of their hats and their coaches; take
some other kind of wickedness under their patronage, and wonder
at the depravity of their ancestors. Nor is this all. Posterity,
that high court of appeal which is never tired of eulogising its
own justice and discernment, acts on such occasions like a Roman
dictator after a general mutiny. Finding the delinquents too
numerous to be all punished, it selects some of them at hazard,
to bear the whole penalty of an offence in which they are not
more deeply implicated than those who escape, Whether decimation
be a convenient mode of military execution, we know not; but we
solemnly protest against the introduction of such a principle
into the philosophy of history.

In the present instance, the lot has fallen on Machiavelli, a man
whose public conduct was upright and honourable, whose views of
morality, where they differed from those of the persons around
him, seemed to have differed for the better, and whose only fault
was, that, having adopted some of the maxims then generally
received, he arranged them more luminously, and expressed them
more forcibiy, than any other writer.

Having now, we hope, in some degree cleared the personal
character of Machiavelli, we come to the consideration of his
works. As a poet he is not entitled to a high place; but his
comedies deserve attention.

The Mandragola, in particular, is superior to the best of
Goldoni, and inferior only to the best of Moliere. It is the work
of a man who, if he had devoted himself to the drama, would
probably have attained the highest eminence, and produced a
permanent and salutary effect on the national taste. This we
infer, not so much from the degree, as from the kind of its
excellence. There are compositions which indicate still greater
talent, and which are perused with still greater delight, from
which we should have drawn very different conclusions. Books
quite worthless are quite harmless. The sure sign of the general
decline of an art is the frequent occurrence, not of deformity,
but of misplaced beauty. In general, Tragedy is corrupted by
eloquence, and Comedy by wit.

The real object of the drama is the exhibition of human
character. This, we conceive, is no arbitrary canon, originating
in local and temporary associations, like those canons which
regulate the number of acts in a play, or of syllables in a line.
To this fundamental law every other regulation is subordinate.
The situations which most signally develop character form the
best plot. The mother tongue of the passions is the best style.

This principle rightly understood, does not debar the poet from
any grace of composition. There is no style in which some man may
not under some circumstances express himself. There is therefore
no style which the drama rejects, none which it does not
occasionally require. It is in the discernment of place, of time,
and of person, that the inferior artists fail. The fantastic
rhapsody of Mercutio, the elaborate declamation of Antony, are,
where Shakspeare has placed them, natural and pleasing. But
Dryden would have made Mercutio challenge Tybalt in hyperboles
as fanciful as those in which he describes the chariot of Mab.
Corneille would have represented Antony as scolding and coaxing
Cleopatra with all the measured rhetoric of a funeral oration.

No writers have injured the Comedy of England so deeply as
Congreve and Sheridan. Both were men of splendid wit and polished
taste. Unhappily, they made all their characters in their own
likeness. Their works bear the same relation to the legitimate
drama which a transparency bears to a painting. There are no
delicate touches, no hues imperceptibly fading into each other:
the whole is lighted up with an universal glare. Outlines and
tints are forgotten in the common blaze which illuminates all.
The flowers and fruits of the intellect abound; but it is the
abundance of a jungle, not of a garden, unwholesome, bewildering,
unprofitable from its very plenty rank from its very fragrance.
Every fop, every boor, every valet, is a man of wit. The very
butts and dupes, Tattle, Witwould, Puff, Acres, outshine the
whole Hotel of Rambouillet. To prove the whole system of this
school erroneous, it is only necessary to apply the test which
dissolved the enchanted Florimel, to place the true by the false
Thalia, to contrast the most celebrated characters which have
been drawn by the writers of whom we speak with the Bastard in
King John or the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet. It was not surely
from want of wit that Shakspeare adopted so different a manner.
Benedick and Beatrice throw Mirabel and Millamant into the shade.
All the good sayings of the facetious houses of Absolute and
Surface might have been clipped from the single character of
Falstaff, without being missed. It would have been easy for that
fertile mind to have given Bardolph and Shallow as much wit as
Prince Hal, and to have made Dogberry and Verges retort on each
other in sparkling epigrams. But he knew that such indiscriminate
prodigality was, to use his own admirable language, "from the
purpose of playing, whose end, both at the first and now, was,
and is, to hold, as it were, the mirror up to Nature."

This digression will enable our readers to understand what we
mean when we say that in the Mandragola, Machiavelli has proved
that he completely understood the nature of the dramatic art, and
possessed talents which would have enabled him to excel in it. By
the correct and vigorous delineation of human nature, it produces
interest without a pleasing or skilful plot, and laughter without
the least ambition of wit. The lover, not a very delicate or
generous lover, and his adviser the parasite, are drawn with
spirit. The hypocritical confessor is an admirable portrait. He
is, if we mistake not, the original of Father Dominic, the best
comic character of Dryden. But old Nicias is the glory of the
piece. We cannot call to mind anything that resembles him. The
follies which Moliere ridicules are those of affection, not those
of fatuity. Coxcombs and pedants, not absolute simpletons, are
his game. Shakspeare has indeed a vast assortment of fools; but
the precise species of which we speak is not, if we remember
right, to be found there. Shallow is a fool. But his animal
spirits supply, to a certain degree, the place of cleverness. His
talk is to that of Sir John what soda water is to champagne. It
has the effervescence though not the body or the flavour. Slender
and Sir Andrew Aguecheek are fools, troubled with an uneasy
consciousness of their folly, which in the latter produces
meekness and docility, and in the former, awkwardness, obstinacy,
and confusion. Cloten is an arrogant fool, Osric a foppish fool,
Ajax a savage fool; but Nicias is, as Thersites says of
Patroclus, a fool positive. His mind is occupied by no strong
feeling; it takes every character, and retains none; its aspect
is diversified, not by passions, but by faint and transitory
semblances of passion, a mock joy, a mock fear, a mock love, a
mock pride, which chase each other like shadows over its surface,
and vanish as soon as they appear. He is just idiot enough to be
an object, not of pity or horror, but of ridicule. He bears some
resemblance to poor Calandrino, whose mishaps, as recounted by
Boccaccio, have made all Europe merry for more than four
centuries. He perhaps resembles still more closely Simon da
Villa, to whom Bruno and Buffalmacco promised the love of the
Countess Civillari. Nicias is, like Simon, of a learned
profession; and the dignity with which he wears the doctoral
fur, renders his absurdities infinitely more grotesque. The old
Tuscan is the very language for such a being. Its peculiar
simplicity gives even to the most forcible reasoning and the most
brilliant wit an infantine air, generally delightful, but to a
foreign reader sometimes a little ludicrous. Heroes and statesmen
seem to lisp when they use it. It becomes Nicias incomparably,
and renders all his silliness infinitely more silly.
We may add, that the verses with which the Mandragola is
interspersed, appear to us to be the most spirited and correct of
all that Machiavelli has written in metre. He seems to have
entertained the same opinion; for he has introduced some of them
in other places. The contemporaries of the author were not blind
to the merits of this striking piece. It was acted at Florence
with the greatest success. Leo the Tenth was among its admirers,
and by his order it was represented at Rome.

[Nothing can be more evident than that Paulus Jovius designates
the Mandragola under the name of the Nicias. We should not have
noticed what is so perfectly obvious. were it not that this
natural and palpable misnomer has led the sagacious and
industrious Bayle into a gross error.]

The Clizia is an imitation of the Casina of Plautus, which is
itself an imitation of the lost kleroumenoi of Diphilus. Plautus
was, unquestionably, one of the best Latin writers; but the
Casina is by no means one of his best plays; nor is it one which
offers great facilities to an imitator. The story is as alien
from modern habits of life, as the manner in which it is
developed from the modern fashion of composition. The lover
remains in the country and the heroine in her chamber during the
whole action, leaving their fate to be decided by a foolish
father, a cunning mother, and two knavish servants. Machiavelli
has executed his task with judgment and taste. He has
accommodated the plot to a different state of society, and has
very dexterously connected it with the history of his own times.
The relation of the trick put on the doting old lover is
exquisitely humorous. It is far superior to the corresponding
passage in the Latin comedy, and scarcely yields to the account
which Falstaff gives of his ducking.

Two other comedies without titles, the one in prose, the other in
verse, appear among the works of Machiavelli. The former is very
short, lively enough, but of no great value. The latter we can
scarcely believe to be genuine. Neither its merits nor its
defects remind us of the reputed author. It was first printed in
1796, from a manuscript discovered in the celebrated library of
the Strozzi. Its genuineness, if we have been rightly informed,
is established solely by the comparison of hands. Our suspicions
are strengthened by the circumstance, that the same manuscript
contained a description of the plague of 1527, which has also, in
consequence, been added to the works of Machiavelli. Of this last
composition the strongest external evidence would scarcely induce
us to believe him guilty. Nothing was ever written more
detestable in matter and manner. The narrations, the reflections,
the jokes, the lamentations, are all the very worst of their
respective kinds, at once trite and affected, threadbare tinsel
from the Rag Fairs and Monmouth Streets of literature. A foolish
schoolboy might write such a piece, and, after he had written it,
think it much finer than the incomparable introduction of the
Decameron. But that a shrewd statesman, whose earliest works are
characterised by manliness of thought and language, should, at
near sixty years of age, descend to such puerility, is utterly

The little novel of Belphegor is pleasantly conceived and
pleasantly told. But the extravagance of the satire in some
measure injures its effect. Machiavelli was unhappily married;
and his wish to avenge his own cause and that of his brethren in
misfortune, carried him beyond even the licence of fiction.
Jonson seems to have combined some hints taken from this tale,
with others from Boccaccio, in the plot of The Devil is an Ass, a
play which, though not the most highly finished of his
compositions, is perhaps that which exhibits the strongest proofs
of genius.

The Political Correspondence of Machiavelli, first published in
1767, is unquestionably genuine, and highly valuable. The unhappy
circumstances in which his country was placed during the greater
part of his public life gave extraordinary encouragement to
diplomatic talents. From the moment that Charles the Eighth
descended from the Alps, the whole character of Italian politics
was changed. The governments of the Peninsula ceased to form an
independent system. Drawn from their old orbit by the attraction
of the larger bodies which now approached them, they became mere
satellites of France and Spain. All their disputes, internal and
external, were decided by foreign influence. The contests of
opposite factions were carried on, not as formerly in the senate-
house or in the marketplace, but in the antechambers of Louis and
Ferdinand. Under these circumstances, the prosperity of the
Italian States depended far more on the ability of their foreign
agents, than on the conduct of those who were intrusted with the
domestic administration. The ambassador had to discharge
functions far more delicate than transmitting orders of
knighthood, introducing tourists, or presenting his brethren with
the homage of his high consideration. He was an advocate to whose
management the dearest interests of his clients were intrusted, a
spy clothed with an inviolable character. Instead of consulting,
by a reserved manner and ambiguous style, the dignity of those
whom he represented, he was to plunge into all the intrigues of
the Court at which he resided, to discover and flatter every
weakness of the prince, and of the favourite
who governed the prince, and of the lacquey who governed the
favourite. He was to compliment the mistress and bribe the
confessor, to panegyrise or supplicate, to laugh or weep, to
accommodate himself to every caprice, to lull every suspicion, to
treasure every hint, to be everything, to observe everything, to
endure everything. High as the art of political intrigue had been
carried in Italy, these were times which required it all.

On these arduous errands Machiavelli was frequently employed. He
was sent to treat with the King of the Romans and with the Duke
of Valentinois. He was twice ambassador of the Court of Rome, and
thrice at that of France. In these missions, and in several
others of inferior importance, he acquitted himself with great
dexterity. His despatches form one of the most amusing and
instructive collections extant. The narratives are clear and
agreeably written; the remarks on men and things clever and
judicious. The conversations are reported in a spirited and
characteristic manner. We find ourselves introduced into the
presence of the men who, during twenty eventful years, swayed the
destinies of Europe. Their wit and their folly, their fretfulness
and their merriment, are exposed to us. We are admitted to
overhear their chat, and to watch their familiar gestures. It is
interesting and curious to recognise, in circumstances which
elude the notice of historians, the feeble violence and shallow
cunning of Louis the Twelfth; the bustling insignificance of
Maximilian, cursed with an impotent pruriency for renown, rash
yet timid, obstinate yet fickle, always in a hurry, yet always
too late; the fierce and haughty energy which gave dignity to the
eccentricities of Julius; the soft and graceful manners which
masked the insatiable ambition and the implacable hatred of
Caesar Borgia.

We have mentioned Caesar Borgia. It is impossible not to pause
for a moment on the name of a man in whom the political morality
of Italy was so strongly personified, partially blended with the
sterner lineaments of the Spanish character. On two important
occasions Machiavelli was admitted to his society; once, at the
moment when Caesar's splendid villainy achieved its most signal
triumph, when he caught in one snare and crushed at one blow all
his most formidable rivals; and again when, exhausted by disease
and overwhelmed by misfortunes, which no human prudence could
have averted, he was the prisoner of the deadliest enemy of his
house. These interviews between the greatest speculative and the
greatest practical statesman of the age are fully described in
the Correspondence, and form perhaps the most interesting part of

From some passages in The Prince, and perhaps also from some
indistinct traditions, several writers have supposed a connection
between those remarkable men much closer than ever existed. The
Envoy has even been accused of prompting the crimes of the artful
and merciless tyrant. But from the official documents it is clear
that their intercourse, though ostensibly amicable, was in
reality hostile. It cannot be doubted, however, that the
imagination of Machiavelli was strongly impressed, and his
speculations on government coloured, by the observations which he
made on the singular character and equally singular fortunes of a
man who under such disadvantages had achieved such exploits; who,
when sensuality, varied through innumerable forms, could no
longer stimulate his sated mind, found a more powerful and
durable excitement in the intense thirst of empire and revenge;
who emerged from the sloth and luxury of the Roman purple the
first prince and general of the age; who, trained in an unwarlike
profession, formed a gallant army out of the dregs of an
unwarlike people; who, after acquiring sovereignty by destroying
his enemies, acquired popularity by destroying his tools; who had
begun to employ for the most salutary ends the power which he had
attained by the most atrocious means; who tolerated within the
sphere of his iron despotism no plunderer or oppressor but
himself; and who fell at last amidst the mingled curses and
regrets of a people of whom his genius had been the wonder, and
might have been the salvation. Some of those crimes of Borgia
which to us appear the most odious would not, from causes which
we have already considered, have struck an Italian of the
fifteenth century with equal horror. Patriotic feeling also might
induce Machiavelli to look with some indulgence and regret on the
memory of the only leader who could have defended the
independence of Italy against the confederate spoilers of

On this subject Machiavelli felt most strongly. Indeed the
expulsion of the foreign tyrants, and the restoration of that
golden age which had preceded the irruption of Charles the
Eighth, were projects which, at that time, fascinated all the
master-spirits of Italy. The magnificent vision delighted the
great but ill-regulated mind of Julius. It divided with
manuscripts and sauces, painters, and falcons, the attention of
the frivolous Leo. It prompted the generous treason of Morone. It
imparted a transient energy to the feeble mind and body of the
last Sforza. It excited for one moment an honest ambition in the
false heart of Pescara. Ferocity and insolence were not among the
vices of the national character. To the discriminating cruelties
of politicians, committed for great ends on select victims, the
moral code of the Italians was too indulgent. But though they
might have recourse to barbarity as an expedient, they did not
require it as a stimulant. They turned with loathing from the
atrocity of the strangers who seemed to love blood for its own
sake, who, not content with subjugating, were impatient to
destroy, who found a fiendish pleasure in razing magnificent
cities, cutting the throats of enemies who cried for quarter, or
suffocating an unarmed population by thousands in the caverns to
which it had fled for safety. Such were the cruelties which daily
excited the terror and disgust of a people among whom, till
lately, the worst that a soldier had to fear in a pitched battle
was the loss of his horse and the expense of his ransom. The
swinish intemperance of Switzerland, the wolfish avarice of
Spain, the gross licentiousness of the French, indulged in
violation of hospitality, of decency, of love itself, the wanton
inhumanity which was common to all the invaders, had made them
objects of deadly hatred to the inhabitants of the Peninsula. The
wealth which had been accumulated during centuries of prosperity
and repose was rapidly melting away. The intellectual superiority
of the oppressed people only rendered them more keenly sensible
of their political degradation. Literature and taste, indeed,
still disguised with a flush of hectic loveliness and brilliancy
the ravages of an incurable decay. The iron had not yet entered
into the soul. The time was not yet come when eloquence was to be
gagged, and reason to be hoodwinked, when the harp of the poet
was to be hung on the willows of Arno, and the right hand of the
painter to forget its cunning. Yet a discerning eye might even
then have seen that genius and learning would not long survive
the state of things from which they had sprung, and that the
great men whose talents gave lustre to that melancholy period had
been formed under the influence of happier days, and would leave
no successors behind them. The times which shine with the
greatest splendour in literary history are not always those to
which the human mind is most indebted. Of this we may be
convinced, by comparing the generation which follows them with
that which had preceded them. The first fruits which are reaped
under a bad system often spring from seed sown under a good one.
Thus it was, in some measure, with the Augustan age. Thus it was
with the age of Raphael and Ariosto, of Aldus and Vida.

Machiavelli deeply regretted the misfortunes of his country, and
clearly discerned the cause and the remedy. It was the military
system of the Italian people which had extinguished their value
and discipline, and left their wealth an easy prey to every
foreign plunderer. The Secretary projected a scheme alike
honourable to his heart and to his intellect, for abolishing the
use of mercenary troops, and for organising a national militia.

The exertions which he made to effect this great object ought
alone to rescue his name from obloquy. Though his situation and
his habits were pacific, he studied with intense assiduity the
theory of war. He made himself master of all its details. The
Florentine Government entered into his views. A council of war
was appointed. Levies were decreed. The indefatigable minister
flew from place to place in order to superintend the execution of
his design. The times were, in some respects, favourable to the
experiment. The system of military tactics had undergone a great
revolution. The cavalry was no longer considered as forming the
strength of an army. The hours which a citizen could spare from
his ordinary employments, though by no means sufficient to
familiarise him with the exercise of a man-at-arms, might render
him an useful foot-soldier. The dread of a foreign yoke, of
plunder, massacre, and conflagration, might have conquered that
repugnance to military pursuits which both the industry and the
idleness of great towns commonly generate. For a time the scheme
promised well. The new troops acquitted themselves respectably in
the field. Machiavelli looked with parental rapture on the
success of his plan, and began to hope that the arms of Italy
might once more be formidable to the barbarians of the Tagus and
the Rhine. But the tide of misfortune came on before the barriers
which should have withstood it were prepared. For a time, indeed,
Florence might be considered as peculiarly fortunate. Famine and
sword and pestilence had devastated the fertile plains and
stately cities of the Po. All the curses denounced of old against
Tyre seemed to have fallen on Venice. Her merchants already stood
afar off, lamenting for their great city. The time seemed near
when the sea-weed should overgrow her silent Rialto, and the
fisherman wash his nets in her deserted arsenal. Naples had been
four times conquered and reconquered by tyrants equally
indifferent to its welfare and equally greedy for its spoils.
Florence, as yet, had only to endure degradation and extortion,
to submit to the mandates of foreign powers, to buy over and over
again, at an enormous price, what was already justly her own, to
return thanks for being wronged, and to ask pardon for being in
the right. She was at length deprived of the blessings even of
this infamous and servile repose. Her military and political
institutions were swept away together. The Medici returned, in
the train of foreign invaders, from their long exile. The policy
of Machiavelli was abandoned; and his public services were
requited with poverty, imprisonment, and torture.

The fallen statesman still clung to his project with unabated
ardour. With the view of vindicating it from some popular
objections and of refuting some prevailing errors on the subject
of military science, he wrote his seven books on The Art of War.
This excellent work is in the form of a dialogue. The opinions of
the writer are put into the mouth of Fabrizio Colonna, a powerful
nobleman of the Ecclesiastical State, and an officer of
distinguished merit in the service of the King of Spain. Colonna
visits Florence on his way from Lombardy to his own domains. He
is invited to meet some friends at the house of Cosimo Rucellai,
an amiable and accomplished young man, whose early death
Machiavelli feelingly deplores. After partaking of an elegant
entertainment, they retire from the heat into the most shady
recesses of the garden. Fabrizio is struck by the sight of some
uncommon plants. Cosimo says that, though rare, in modern days,
they are frequently mentioned by the classical authors, and that
his grandfather, like many other Italians, amused himself with
practising the ancient methods of gardening. Fabrizio expresses
his regret that those who, in later times, affected the manners
of the old Romans should select for imitation the most trifling
pursuits. This leads to a conversation on the decline of military
discipline and on the best means of restoring it. The institution
of the Florentine militia is ably defended; and several
improvements are suggested in the details.

The Swiss and the Spaniards were, at that time, regarded as the
best soldiers in Europe. The Swiss battalion consisted of
pikemen, and bore a close resemblance to the Greek phalanx. The
Spaniards, like the soldiers of Rome, were armed with the sword
and the shield. The victories of Flamininus and Aemilius over the
Macedonian kings seem to prove the superiority of the weapons
used by the legions. The same experiment had been recently tried
with the same result at the battle of Ravenna, one of those
tremendous days into which human folly and wickedness compress
the whole devastation of a famine or a plague. In that memorable
conflict, the infantry of Arragon, the old companions of
Gonsalvo, deserted by all their allies, hewed a passage through
the thickest of the imperial pikes, and effected an unbroken
retreat, in the face of the gendarmerie of De Foix, and the
renowned artillery of Este. Fabrizio, or rather Machiavelli,
proposes to combine the two systems, to arm the foremost lines
with the pike for the purpose of repulsing cavalry, and those in
the rear with the sword, as being a weapon better adapted for
every other purpose. Throughout the work, the author expresses
the highest admiration of the military science of the ancient
Romans, and the greatest contempt for the maxims which had been
in vogue amongst the Italian commanders of the preceding
generation. He prefers infantry to cavalry, and fortified camps
to fortified towns. He is inclined to substitute rapid movements
and decisive engagements for the languid and dilatory operations
of his countrymen. He attaches very little importance to the
invention of gunpowder. Indeed he seems to think that it ought
scarcely to produce any change in the mode of arming or of
disposing troops. The general testimony of historians, it must be
allowed, seems to prove that the ill-constructed and ill-served
artillery of those times, though useful in a siege, was of little
value on the field of battle.

Of the tactics of Machiavelli we will not venture to give an
opinion: but we are certain that his book is most able and
interesting. As a commentary on the history of his times, it is
invaluable. The ingenuity, the grace, and the perspicuity of the
style, and the eloquence and animation of particular passages,
must give pleasure even to readers who take no interest in the

The Prince and the Discourses on Livy were written after the fall
of the Republican Government. The former was dedicated to the
young Lorenzo di Medici. This circumstance seems to have
disgusted the contemporaries of the writer far more than the
doctrines which have rendered the name of the work odious in
later times. It was considered as an indication of political
apostasy. The fact however seems to have been that Machiavelli,
despairing of the liberty of Florence, was inclined to support
any government which might preserve her independence. The
interval which separated a democracy and a despotism, Soderini
and Lorenzo, seemed to vanish when compared with the difference
between the former and the present state of Italy, between the
security, the opulence, and the repose which she had enjoyed
under her native rulers, and the misery in which she had been
plunged since the fatal year in which the first foreign tyrant
had descended from the Alps. The noble and pathetic exhortation
with which The Prince concludes shows how strongly the writer
felt upon this subject.

The Prince traces the progress of an ambitious man, the
Discourses the progress of an ambitious people. The same
principles on which, in the former work, the elevation of an
individual is explained, are applied in the latter, to the longer
duration and more complex interest of a society. To a modern
statesman the form of the Discourses may appear to be puerile. In
truth Livy is not an historian on whom implicit reliance can be
placed, even in cases where he must have possessed considerable
means of information. And the first Decade, to which Machiavelli
has confined himself, is scarcely entitled to more credit than
our Chronicle of British Kings who reigned before the Roman
invasion. But the commentator is indebted to Livy for little more
than a few texts which he might as easily have extracted from the
Vulgate or the Decameron. The whole train of thought is original.

On the peculiar immorality which has rendered The Prince
unpopular, and which is almost equally discernible in the
Discourses, we have already given our opinion at length. We have
attempted to show that it belonged rather to the age than to the
man, that it was a partial taint, and by no means implied general
depravity. We cannot, however, deny that it is a great blemish,
and that it considerably diminishes the pleasure which, in other
respects, those works must afford to every intelligent mind.

It is, indeed, impossible to conceive a more healthful and
vigorous constitution of the understanding than that which these
works indicate. The qualities of the active and the contemplative
statesman appear to have been blended in the mind of the writer
into a rare and exquisite harmony. His skill in the details of
business had not been acquired at the expense of his general
powers. It had not rendered his mind less comprehensive; but it
had served to correct his speculations and to impart to them that
vivid and practical character which so widely distinguishes them
from the vague theories of most political philosophers.

Every man who has seen the world knows that nothing is so useless
as a general maxim. If it be very moral and very true, it may
serve for a copy to a charity-boy. If, like those of
Rochefoucault, it be sparkling and whimsical, it may make an
excellent motto for an essay. But few indeed of the many wise
apophthegms which have been uttered, from the time of the Seven
Sages of Greece to that of Poor Richard, have prevented a single
foolish action. We give the highest and the most peculiar praise
to the precepts of Machiavelli when we say that they may
frequently be of real use in regulating conduct, not so much
because they are more just or more profound than those which
might be culled from other authors, as because they can be more
readily applied to the problems of real life.

There are errors in these works. But they are errors which a
writer, situated like Machiavelli, could scarcely avoid. They
arise, for the most part, from a single defect which appears to
us to pervade his whole system. In his political scheme, the
means had been more deeply considered than the ends. The great
principle, that societies and laws exist only for the purpose of
increasing the sum of private happiness, is not recognised with
sufficient clearness. The good of the body, distinct from the
good of the members, and sometimes hardly compatible with the
good of the members, seems to be the object which he proposes to
himself. Of all political fallacies, this has perhaps had the
widest and the most mischievous operation. The state of society
in the little commonwealths of Greece, the close connection and
mutual dependence of the citizens, and the severity of the laws
of war, tended to encourage an opinion which, under such
circumstances, could hardly be called erroneous. The interests of
every individual were inseparably bound up with those of the
State. An invasion destroyed his corn-fields and vineyards, drove
him from his home, and compelled him to encounter all the
hardships of a military life. A treaty of peace restored him to
security and comfort. A victory doubled the number of his slaves.
A defeat perhaps made him a slave himself. When Pericles, in the
Peloponnesian war, told the Athenians, that, if their country
triumphed, their private losses would speedily be repaired, but,
that, if their arms failed of success, every individual amongst
them would probably be ruined, he spoke no more than the truth,
He spoke to men whom the tribute of vanquished cities supplied
with food and clothing, with the luxury of the bath and the
amusements of the theatre, on whom the greatness of their Country
conferred rank, and before whom the members of less prosperous
communities trembled; to men who, in case of a change in the
public fortunes, would, at least, be deprived of every comfort
and every distinction which they enjoyed. To be butchered on the
smoking ruins of their city, to be dragged in chains to a slave-
market. to see one child torn from them to dig in the quarries of
Sicily, and another to guard the harams of Persepolis, these were
the frequent and probable consequences of national calamities.
Hence, among the Greeks, patriotism became a governing principle,
or rather an ungovernable passion. Their legislators and their
philosophers took it for granted that, in providing for the
strength and greatness of the state, they sufficiently provided
for the happiness of the people. The writers of the Roman empire
lived under despots, into whose dominion a hundred nations were
melted down, and whose gardens would have covered the little
commonwealths of Phlius and Plataea. Yet they continued to employ
the same language, and to cant about the duty of sacrificing
everything to a country to which they owed nothing.

Causes similar to those which had influenced the disposition of
the Greeks operated powerfully on the less vigorous and daring
character of the Italians. The Italians, like the Greeks, were
members of small communities. Every man was deeply interested in
the welfare of the society to which he belonged, a partaker in
its wealth and its poverty, in its glory and its shame. In the
age of Machiavelli this was peculiarly the case. Public events
had produced an immense sum of misery to private citizens. The
Northern invaders had brought want to their boards, infamy to
their beds, fire to their roofs, and the knife to their throats.
It was natural that a man who lived in times like these should
overrate the importance of those measures by which a nation is
rendered formidable to its neighbours, and undervalue those which
make it prosperous within itself.

Nothing is more remarkable in the political treatises of
Machiavelli than the fairness of mind which they indicate. It
appears where the author is in the wrong, almost as strongly as
where he is in the right. He never advances a false opinion
because it is new or splendid, because he can clothe it in a
happy phrase, or defend it by an ingenious sophism. His errors
are at once explained by a reference to the circumstances in
which he was placed. They evidently were not sought out; they lay
in his way, and could scarcely be avoided. Such mistakes must
necessarily be committed by early speculators in every science.

In this respect it is amusing to compare The Prince and the
Discourses with the Spirit of Laws. Montesquieu enjoys, perhaps,
a wider celebrity than any political writer of modern Europe.
Something he doubtless owes to his merit, but much more to his
fortune. He had the good luck of a Valentine.

He caught the eye of the French nation, at the moment when it was
waking from the long sleep of political and religious bigotry;
and, in consequence, he became a favourite. The English, at that
time, considered a Frenchman who talked about constitutional
checks and fundamental laws as a prodigy not less astonishing
than the learned pig or the musical infant. Specious but shallow,
studious of effect, indifferent to truth, eager to build a
system, but careless of collecting those materials out of which
alone a sound and durable system can be built, the lively
President constructed theories as rapidly and as slightly as
card-houses, no sooner projected than completed, no sooner
completed than blown away, no sooner blown away than forgotten.
Machiavelli errs only because his experience, acquired in a very
peculiar state of society, could not always enable him to
calculate the effect of institutions differing from those of
which he had observed the operation. Montesquieu errs, because he
has a fine thing to say, and is resolved to say it. If the
phaenomena which lie before him will not suit his purpose, all
history must be ransacked. If nothing established by authentic
testimony can be racked or chipped to suit his Procrustean
hypothesis, he puts up with some monstrous fable about Siam, or
Bantam, or Japan, told by writers compared with whom Lucian and
Gulliver were veracious, liars by a double right, as travellers
and as Jesuits.

Propriety of thought, and propriety of diction, are commonly
found together. Obscurity and affectation are the two greatest
faults of style. Obscurity of expression generally springs from
confusion of ideas; and the same wish to dazzle at any cost which
produces affectation in the manner of a writer, is likely to
produce sophistry in his reasonings. The judicious and candid
mind of Machiavelli shows itself in his luminous, manly, and
polished language. The style of Montesquieu, on the other hand,
indicates in every page a lively and ingenious, but an unsound
mind. Every trick of expression, from the mysterious conciseness
of an oracle to the flippancy of a Parisian coxcomb, is employed
to disguise the fallacy of some positions, and the triteness of
others. Absurdities are brightened into epigrams; truisms are
darkened into enigmas. It is with difficulty that the strongest
eye can sustain the glare with which some parts are illuminated,
or penetrate the shade in which others are concealed.

The political works of Machiavelli derive a peculiar interest
from the mournful earnestness which he manifests whenever he
touches on topics connected with the calamities of his native
land. It is difficult to conceive any situation more painful than
that of a great man, condemned to watch the lingering agony of an
exhausted country, to tend it during the alternate fits of
stupefaction and raving which precede its dissolution, and to see
the symptoms of vitality disappear one by one, till nothing is
left but coldness, darkness, and corruption. To this joyless and
thankless duty was Machiavelli called. In the energetic language
of the prophet, he was "mad for the sight of his eye which he
saw," disunion in the council, effeminacy in the camp, liberty
extinguished, commerce decaying, national honour sullied, an
enlightened and flourishing people given over to the ferocity of
ignorant savages. Though his opinions had no escaped the
contagion of that political immorality which was common among his
countrymen, his natural disposition seem to have been rather
stern and impetuous than pliant and artful When the misery and
degradation of Florence and the foul outrage which he had himself
sustained recur to his mind, the smooth craft of his profession
and his nation is exchanged for the honest bitterness of scorn
and anger. He speaks like one sick of the calamitous times and
abject people among whom his lot is cast. He pines for the
strength and glory of ancient Rome, for the fasces of Brutus, and
the sword of Scipio, the gravity of the curule chair, and the
bloody pomp of the triumphal sacrifice. He seems to be
transported back to the days when eight hundred thousand Italian
warriors sprung to arms at the rumour of a Gallic invasion. He
breathes all the spirit of those intrepid and haughty senators
who forgot the dearest ties of nature in the claims of public
duty, who looked with disdain on the elephants and on the gold of
Pyrrhus, and listened with unaltered composure to the tremendous
tidings of Cannae. Like an ancient temple deformed by the
barbarous architecture of a later age, his character acquires an
interest from the very circumstances which debase it. The
original proportions are rendered more striking by the contrast
which they present to the mean and incongruous additions.

The influence of the sentiments which we have described was not
apparent in his writings alone. His enthusiasm, barred from the
career which it would have selected for itself, seems to have
found a vent in desperate levity. He enjoyed a vindictive
pleasure in outraging the opinions of a society which he
despised. He became careless of the decencies which were expected
from a man so highly distinguished in the literary and political
world. The sarcastic bitterness of his conversation disgusted
those who were more inclined to accuse his licentiousness than
their own degeneracy, and who were unable to conceive the
strength of those emotions which are concealed by the jests of
the wretched, and by the follies of the wise.

The historical works of Machiavelli still remain to be
considered. The Life of Castruccio Castracani will occupy us for
a very short time, and would scarcely have demanded our notice,
had it not attracted a much greater share of public attention
than it deserves. Few books, indeed, could be more interesting
than a careful and judicious account, from such a pen, of the
illustrious Prince of Lucca, the most eminent of those Italian
chiefs who, like Pisistratus and Gelon, acquired a power felt
rather than seen, and resting, not on law or on prescription, but
on the public favour and on their great personal qualities. Such
a work would exhibit to us the real nature of that species of
sovereignty, so singular and so often misunderstood, which the
Greeks denominated tyranny, and which, modified in some degree by
the feudal system, reappeared in the commonwealths of Lombardy
and Tuscany. But this little composition of Machiavelli is in no
sense a history. It has no pretensions to fidelity. It is a
trifle, and not a very successful trifle. It is scarcely more
authentic than the novel of Belphegor, and is very much duller.

The last great work of this illustrious man was the history of
his native city. It was written by command of the Pope, who, as
chief of the house of Medici, was at that time sovereign of
Florence. The characters of Cosmo, of Piero, and of Lorenzo, are,
however, treated with a freedom and impartiality equally
honourable to the writer and to the patron. The miseries and
humiliations of dependence, the bread which is more bitter than
every other food, the stairs which are more painful than every
other ascent, had not broken the spirit of Machiavelli. The most
corrupting post in a corrupting profession had not depraved the
generous heart of Clement.

The History does not appear to be the fruit of much industry or
research. It is unquestionably inaccurate. But it is elegant,
lively, and picturesque, beyond any other in the Italian
language. The reader, we believe, carries away from it a more
vivid and a more faithful impression of the national character
and manners than from more correct accounts. The truth is, that
the book belongs rather to ancient than to modern literature. It
is in the style, not of Davila and Clarendon, but of Herodotus
and Tacitus. The classical histories may almost be called
romances founded in fact. The relation is, no doubt, in all its
principal points, strictly true. But the numerous little
incidents which heighten the interest, the words, the gestures,
the looks, are evidently furnished by the imagination of the
author. The fashion of later times is different. A more exact
narrative is given by the writer. It may be doubted whether more
exact notions are conveyed to the reader. The best portraits are
perhaps those in which there is a slight mixture of caricature,
and we are not certain that the best histories are not those in
which a little of the exaggeration of fictitious narrative is
judiciously employed. Something is lost in accuracy; but much is
gained in effect. The fainter lines are neglected but the great
characteristic features are imprinted on the mind for ever.

The History terminates with the death of Lorenzo de' Medici.
Machiavelli had, it seems, intended to continue his narrative to
a later period. But his death prevented the execution of his
design; and the melancholy task of recording the desolation and
shame of Italy devolved on Guicciardini.

Machiavelli lived long enough to see the commencement of the last
struggle for Florentine liberty. Soon after his death monarchy
was finally established, not such a monarchy as that of which
Cosmo had laid the foundations deep in the institution and
feelings of his countryman, and which Lorenzo had embellished
with the trophies of every science and every art; but a loathsome
tyranny, proud and mean, cruel and feeble, bigoted and
lascivious. The character of Machiavelli was hateful to the new
masters of Italy; and those parts of his theory which were in
strict accordance with their own daily practice afforded a
pretext for blackening his memory. His works were misrepresented
by the learned, misconstrued by the ignorant, censured by the
Church, abused with all the rancour of simulated virtue by the
tools of a base government, and the priests of a baser
superstition. The name of the man whose genius had illuminated
all the dark places of policy, and to whose patriotic wisdom an
oppressed people had owed their last chance of emancipation and
revenge, passed into a proverb of infamy. For more than two
hundred years his bones lay undistinguished. At length, an
English nobleman paid the as honours to the greatest statesman of
Florence. In the church of Santa Croce a monument was erected to
his memory, which is contemplated with reverence by all who can
distinguish the virtues of a great mind through the corruptions
of a degenerate age, and which will be approached with still
deeper homage when the object to which his public life was
devoted shall be attained, when the foreign yoke shall be broken,
when a second Procida shall avenge the wrongs of Naples, when a
happier Rienzi shall restore the good estate of Rome, when the
streets of Florence and Bologna shall again resound with their
ancient war-cry, Popolo; popolo; muoiano i tiranni!


(October 1840)

The Ecclesiastical and political History of the Popes of Rome,
during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. By LEOPOLD RANKE,
Professor in the University of Berlin: Translated from the
German, by SARAH AUSTIN. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1840.

It is hardly necessary for us to say that this is an excellent
book excellently translated. The original work of Professor Ranke
is known and esteemed wherever German literature is studied, and
has been found interesting even in a most inaccurate and
dishonest French version. It is, indeed, the work of a mind
fitted both for minute researches and for large speculations. It
is written also in an admirable spirit, equally remote from
levity and bigotry, serious and earnest, yet tolerant and
impartial. It is, therefore, with the greatest pleasure that we
now see this book take its place among the English classics. Of
the translation we need only say that it is such as might be
expected from the skill, the taste, and the scrupulous integrity
of the accomplished lady who, as an interpreter between the mind
of Germany and the mind of Britain, has already deserved so well
of both countries.

The subject of this book has always appeared to us singularly
interesting. How it was that Protestantism did so much, yet did
no more, how it was that the Church of Rome, having lost a large
part of Europe, not only ceased to lose, but actually regained
nearly half of what she had lost, is certainly a most curious and
important question; and on this question Professor Ranke has
thrown far more light than any other person who has written on

There is not, and there never was on this earth, a work of human
policy so well deserving of examination as the Roman Catholic
Church. The history of that Church joins together the two great
ages of human civilisation. No other institution is left standing
which carries the mind back to the times when the smoke of
sacrifice rose from the Pantheon, and when camelopards and tigers
bounded in the Flavian amphitheatre. The proudest royal houses
are but of yesterday, when compared with the line of the Supreme
Pontiffs. That line we trace back in an unbroken series, from the
Pope who crowned Napoleon in the nineteenth century to the Pope
who crowned Pepin in the eighth; and far beyond the time of Pepin
the august dynasty extends, till it is lost in the twilight of
fable. The republic of Venice came next in antiquity. But the
republic of Venice was modern when compared with the Papacy; and
the republic of Venice is gone, and the Papacy remains. The
Papacy remains, not in decay, not a mere antique, but full of
life and youthful vigour. The Catholic Church is still sending
forth to the farthest ends of the world missionaries as zealous
as those who landed in Kent with Augustin, and still confronting
hostile kings with the same spirit with which she confronted
Attila. The number of her children is greater than in any former
age. Her acquisitions in the New World have more than compensated
for what she has lost in the Old. Her spiritual ascendency
extends over the vast countries which lie between the plains of
the Missouri and Cape Horn, countries which a century hence, may
not improbably contain a population as large as that which now
inhabits Europe. The members of her communion are certainly not
fewer than a hundred and fifty millions; and it will be difficult
to show that all other Christian sects united amount to a hundred
and twenty millions. Nor do we see any sign which indicates that
the term of her long dominion is approaching. She saw the
commencement of all the governments and of all the ecclesiastical
establishments that now exist in the world; and we feel no
assurance that she is not destined to see the end of them all.
She was great and respected before the Saxon had set foot on
Britain, before the Frank had passed the Rhine, when Grecian
eloquence still flourished at Antioch, when idols were still
worshipped in the temple of Mecca. And she may still exist in
undiminished vigour when some traveller from New Zealand shall,
in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch
of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul's.

We often hear it said that the world is constantly becoming more
and more enlightened, and that this enlightening must be
favourable to Protestantism, and unfavourable to Catholicism. We
wish that we could think so. But we see great reason to doubt
whether this be a well-founded expectation. We see that during
the last two hundred and fifty years the human mind has been in
the highest degree active, that it has made great advances in
every branch of natural philosophy, that it has produced
innumerable inventions tending to promote the convenience of
life, that medicine, surgery, chemistry, engineering, have been
very greatly improved, that government, police, and law have been
improved, though not to so great an extent as the physical
sciences. Yet we see that, during these two hundred and fifty
years, Protestantism has made no conquests worth speaking of.
Nay, we believe that, as far as there has been a change, that
change has, on the whole, been in favour of the Church of Rome.
We cannot, therefore, feel confident that the progress of
knowledge will necessarily be fatal to a system which has, to say
the least, stood its ground in spite of the immense progress made
by the human race in knowledge since the days of Queen Elizabeth.

Indeed the argument which we are considering, seems to us to be
founded on an entire mistake. There are branches of knowledge
with respect to which the law of the human mind is progress. In
mathematics, when once a proposition has been demonstrated, it is
never afterwards contested. Every fresh story is as solid a basis
for a new superstructure as the original foundation was. Here,
therefore, there is a constant addition to the stock of truth. In
the inductive sciences again, the law is progress. Every day
furnishes new facts, and thus brings theory nearer and nearer to
perfection. There is no chance that, either in the purely
demonstrative, or in the purely experimental sciences, the world
will ever go back or even remain stationary. Nobody ever heard of
a reaction against Taylor's theorem, or of a reaction against
Harvey's doctrine of the circulation of the blood.

But with theology the case is very different. As respects natural
religion,--revelation being for the present altogether left out
of the question,--it is not easy to see that a philosopher of the
present day is more favourably situated than Thales or Simonides.
He has before him just the same evidences of design in the
structure of the universe which the early Greeks had. We say just
the same; for the discoveries of modern astronomers and
anatomists have really added nothing to the force of that
argument which a reflecting mind finds in every beast, bird,
insect, fish, leaf, flower and shell. The reasoning by which
Socrates, in Xenophon's hearing, confuted the little atheist
Aristodemus, is exactly the reasoning of Paley's Natural
Theology. Socrates makes precisely the same use of the statues of
Polycletus and the pictures of Zeuxis which Paley makes of the
watch. As to the other great question, the question, what becomes
of man after death, we do not see that a highly educated
European, left to his unassisted reason, is more likely to be in
the right than a Blackfoot Indian. Not a single one of the many
sciences in which we surpass the Blackfoot Indians throws the
smallest light on the state of the soul after the animal life is
extinct. In truth all the philosophers, ancient and modern, who
have attempted, without the help of revelation to prove the
immortality of man, from Plato down to Franklin, appear to us to
have failed deplorably.

Then, again, all the great enigmas which perplex the natural
theologian are the same in all ages. The ingenuity of a people
just emerging from barbarism is quite sufficient to propound
those enigmas. The genius of Locke or Clarke is quite unable to
solve them. It is a mistake to imagine that subtle speculations
touching the Divine attributes, the origin of evil, the necessity
of human actions, the foundation of moral obligation, imply any
high degree of intellectual culture. Such speculations, on the
contrary, are in a peculiar manner the delight of intelligent
children and of half civilised men. The number of boys is not
small who, at fourteen, have thought enough on these questions to
be fully entitled to the praise which Voltaire gives to Zadig.
"Il en savait ce qu'on en a su dans tous les ages; c'est-a-dire,
fort peu de chose." The book of Job shows that, long before
letters and arts were known to Ionia, these vexing questions were
debated with no common skill and eloquence, under the tents of
the Idumean Emirs; nor has human reason, in the course of three
thousand years, discovered any satisfactory solution of the
riddles which perplexed Eliphaz and Zophar.

Natural theology, then, is not a progressive science. That
knowledge of our origin and of our destiny which we derive from
revelation is indeed of very different clearness, and of very
different importance. But neither is revealed religion of the
nature of a progressive science. All Divine truth is, according
to the doctrine of the Protestant Churches, recorded in certain
books. It is equally open to all who, in any age, can read those
books; nor can all the discoveries of all the philosophers in the
world add a single verse to any of those books. It is plain,
therefore, that in divinity there cannot be a progress analogous
to that which is constantly taking place in pharmacy, geology,
and navigation. A Christian of the fifth Century with a Bible is
neither better nor worse situated than a Christian of the
nineteenth century with a Bible, candour and natural acuteness
being, of course, supposed equal. It matters not at all that the
compass, printing, gunpowder, steam, gas, vaccination, and a
thousand other discoveries and inventions, which were unknown in
the fifth century, are familiar to the nineteenth. None of these
discoveries and inventions has the smallest bearing on the
question whether man is justified by faith alone, or whether the
invocation of saints is an orthodox practice. It seems to us,
therefore, that we have no security for the future against the
prevalence of any theological error that ever has prevailed in
time past among Christian men. We are confident that the world
will never go back to the solar system of Ptolemy; nor is our
confidence in the least shaken by the circumstance, that even so
great a man as Bacon rejected the theory of Galileo with scorn;
for Bacon had not all the means of arriving at a sound conclusion
which are within our reach, and which secure people who would not
have been worthy to mend his pens from falling into his mistakes.
But when we reflect that Sir Thomas More was ready to die for the
doctrine of transubstantiation, we cannot but feel some doubt
whether the doctrine of transubstantiation may not triumph over
all opposition. More was a man of eminent talents. He had all the
information on the subject that we have, or that, while the world
lasts, any human being will have. The text, "This is my body,"
was in his New Testament as it is in ours. The absurdity of the
literal interpretation was as great and as obvious in the
sixteenth century as it is now. No progress that science has
made, or will make, can add to what seems to us the overwhelming
force of the argument against the real presence. We are,
therefore, unable to understand why what Sir Thomas More believed
respecting transubstantiation may not be believed to the end of
time by men equal in abilities and honesty to Sir Thomas More.
But Sir Thomas More is one of the choice specimens of human
wisdom and virtue; and the doctrine of transubstantiation is a
kind of proof charge. A faith which stands that test will stand
any test. The prophecies of Brothers and the miracles of Prince
Hohenlohe sink to trifles in the comparison.

One reservation, indeed, must be made. The books and traditions
of a sect may contain, mingled with propositions strictly
theological, other propositions, purporting to rest on the same
authority, which relate to physics. If new discoveries should
throw discredit on the physical propositions, the theological
propositions, unless they can be separated from the physical
propositions, will share in that discredit. In this way,
undoubtedly, the progress of science may indirectly serve the
cause of religious truth. The Hindoo mythology, for example, is
bound up with a most absurd geography. Every young Brahmin,
therefore, who learns geography in our colleges learns to smile
at the Hindoo mythology. If Catholicism has not suffered to an
equal degree from the Papal decision that the sun goes round the
earth, this is because all intelligent Catholics now hold, with
Pascal, that, in deciding the point at all, the Church exceeded
her powers, and was, therefore, justly left destitute of that
supernatural assistance which, in the exercise of her legitimate
functions, the promise of her Founder authorised her to expect.

This reservation affects not at all the truth of our proposition,
that divinity, properly so called, is not a progressive science.
A very common knowledge of history, a very little observation of
life, will suffice to prove that no learning, no sagacity,
affords a security against the greatest errors on subjects
relating to the invisible world. Bayle and Chillingworth, two of
the most sceptical of mankind, turned Catholics from sincere
conviction. Johnson, incredulous on all other points, was a ready
believer in miracles and apparitions. He would not believe in
Ossian; but he was willing to believe in the second sight. He
would not believe in the earthquake of Lisbon; but he was willing
to believe in the Cock Lane ghost.

For these reasons we have ceased to wonder at any vagaries of
superstition. We have seen men, not of mean intellect or
neglected education, but qualified by their talents and
acquirements to attain eminence either in active or speculative
pursuits, well-read scholars, expert logicians, keen observers of
life and manners, prophesying, interpreting, talking unknown
tongues, working miraculous cures, coming down with messages from
God to the House of Commons. We have seen an old woman, with no
talents beyond the cunning of a fortune-teller, and with the
education of a scullion, exalted into a prophetess, and
surrounded by tens of thousands of devoted followers, many of
whom were, in station and knowledge, immeasurably her superiors;
and all this in the nineteenth century; and all this in London.
Yet why not? For of the dealings of God with man no more has been
revealed to the nineteenth century than to the first, or to
London than to the wildest parish in the Hebrides. It is true
that, in those things which concern this life and this world, man
constantly becomes wiser and wiser. But it is no less true that,
as respects a higher power and a future state, man, in the
language of Goethe's scoffing friend,

          "bleibt stets von gleichem Schlag,
Und ist so wunderlich als wie am ersten Tag."

The history of Catholicism strikingly illustrates these
observations. During the last seven centuries the public mind of
Europe has made constant progress in every department of secular
knowledge. But in religion we can trace no constant progress. The
ecclesiastical history of that long period is a history of
movement to and fro. Four times, since the authority of the
Church of Rome was established in Western Christendom, has the
human intellect risen up against her yoke. Twice that Church
remained completely victorious. Twice she came forth from the
conflict bearing the marks of cruel wounds, but with the
principle of life still strong within her. When we reflect on the
tremendous assaults which she has survived, we find it difficult
to conceive in what way she is to perish.

The first of these insurrections broke out in the region where
the beautiful language of Oc was spoken. That country, singularly
favoured by nature, was, in the twelfth century, the most
flourishing and civilised portion of Western Europe. It was in
no wise a part of France. It had a distinct political existence,
distinct national character, distinct usages, and a distinct
speech. The soil was fruitful and well cultivated; and amidst the
cornfields and vineyards arose many rich cities each of which was
a little republic, and many stately castles: each of which
contained a miniature of an imperial court. It was there that the
spirit of chivalry first laid aside its terrors, first took a
humane and graceful form, first appeared as the inseparable
associate of art and literature, of courtesy and love. The other
vernacular dialects which, since the fifth century, had sprung up
in the ancient provinces of the Roman empire, were still rude and
imperfect. The sweet Tuscan, the rich and energetic English, were
abandoned to artisans and shepherds. No clerk had ever
condescended to use such barbarous jargon for the teaching of
science, for the recording of great events, or for the painting
of life and manners. But the language of Provence was already the
language of the learned and polite, and was employed by numerous
writers, studious of all the arts of composition and
versification. A literature rich in ballads, in war-songs, in
satire, and, above all, in amatory poetry amused the leisure of
the knights and ladies whose fortified mansions adorned the banks
of the Rhone and Garonne. With civilisation had come freedom of
thought. Use had taken away the horror with which misbelievers
were elsewhere regarded. No Norman or Breton ever saw a
Mussulman, except to give and receive blows on some Syrian field
of battle. But the people of the rich countries which lay under
the Pyrenees lived in habits of courteous and profitable
intercourse with the Moorish kingdoms of Spain, and gave a
hospitable welcome to skilful leeches and mathematicians who, in
the schools of Cordova and Granada, had become versed in all the
learning of the Arabians. The Greek, still preserving, in the
midst of political degradation, the ready wit and the inquiring
spirit of his fathers, still able to read the most perfect of
human compositions, still speaking the most powerful and flexible
of human languages, brought to the marts of Narbonne and
Toulouse, together with the drugs and silks of remote climates,
bold and subtle theories long unknown to the ignorant and
credulous West. The Paulician theology, a theology in which, as
it should seem, many of the doctrines of the modern Calvinists
were mingled with some doctrines derived from the ancient
Manichees, spread rapidly through Provence and Languedoc. The
clergy of the Catholic Church were regarded with loathing and
contempt. "Viler than a priest," "I would as soon be a priest,"
became proverbial expressions. The Papacy had lost all authority
with all classes, from the great feudal princes down to the
cultivators of the soil.

The danger to the hierarchy was indeed formidable. Only one
transalpine nation had emerged from barbarism; and that nation
had thrown off all respect for Rome. Only one of the vernacular
languages of Europe had yet been extensively employed for
literary purposes; and that language was a machine in the hands
of heretics. The geographical position of the sectaries made the
danger peculiarly formidable. They occupied a central region
communicating directly with France, with Italy, and with Spain.
The provinces which were still untainted were separated from each
other by this infected district. Under these circumstances, it
seemed probable that a single generation would suffice to spread
the reformed doctrine to Lisbon, to London, and to Naples. But
this was not to be. Rome cried for help to the warriors of
northern France. She appealed at once to their superstition and
to their cupidity. To the devout believer she promised pardons as
ample as those with which she had rewarded the deliverers of the
Holy Sepulchre. To the rapacious and profligate she offered the
plunder of fertile plains and wealthy cities. Unhappily, the
ingenious and polished inhabitants of the Languedocian provinces
were far better qualified to enrich and embellish their country
than to defend it. Eminent in the arts of peace, unrivalled in
the "gay science," elevated above many vulgar superstitions, they
wanted that iron courage, and that skill in martial exercises,
which distinguished the chivalry of the region beyond the Loire,
and were ill fitted to face enemies who, in every country from
Ireland to Palestine, had been victorious against tenfold odds. A
war, distinguished even among wars of religion by merciless
atrocity, destroyed the Albigensian heresy, and with that heresy
the prosperity the civilisation, the literature, the national
existence, of what was once the most opulent and enlightened part
of the great European family. Rome, in the meantime, warned by
that fearful danger from which the exterminating swords of her
crusaders had narrowly saved her, proceeded to revise and to
strengthen her whole system of polity. At this period were
instituted the Order of Francis, the Order of Dominic, the
Tribunal of the Inquisition. The new spiritual police was
everywhere. No alley in a great city, no hamlet on a remote
mountain, was unvisited by the begging friar. The simple
Catholic, who was content to be no wiser than his fathers, found,
wherever he turned, a friendly voice to encourage him. The path
of the heretic was beset by innumerable spies; and the Church,
lately in danger of utter subversion, now appeared to be
impregnably fortified by the love, the reverence, and the terror
of mankind.

A century and a half passed away; and then came the second great
rising up of the human intellect against the spiritual domination
of Rome. During the two generations which followed the
Albigensian crusade, the power of the Papacy had been at the
height. Frederic the Second, the ablest and most accomplished of
the long line of German Caesars, had in vain exhausted all the
resources of military and political skill in the attempt to
defend the rights of the civil power against the encroachments of
the Church. The vengeance of the priesthood had pursued his house
to the third generation. Manfred had perished on the field of
battle, Conradin on the scaffold. Then a turn took place. The
secular authority, long unduly depressed, regained the ascendant
with startling rapidity. The change is doubtless to be ascribed
chiefly to the general disgust excited by the way in which the
Church had abused its power and its success. But something must
be attributed to the character and situation of individuals. The
man who bore the chief part in effecting this revolution was
Philip the Fourth of France, surnamed the Beautiful, a despot by
position, a despot by temperament, stern, implacable, and
unscrupulous, equally prepared for violence and for chicanery,
and surrounded by a devoted band of men of the sword and of men
of law. The fiercest and most high minded of the Roman Pontiffs,
while bestowing kingdoms and citing great princes to his
judgment-seat, was seized in his palace by armed men, and so
foully outraged that he died mad with rage and terror. "Thus,"
sang the great Florentine poet, "was Christ, in the person of his
vicar, a second time seized by ruffians, a second time mocked, a
second time drenched with the vinegar and the gall." The seat of
the Papal court was carried beyond the Alps, and the Bishops of
Rome became dependants of France. Then came the great schism of
the West. Two Popes, each with a doubtful title, made all Europe
ring with their mutual invectives and anathemas. Rome cried out
against the corruptions of Avignon; and Avignon, with equal
justice, recriminated on Rome. The plain Christian people,
brought up in the belief that it was a sacred duty to be in
communion with the head of the Church, were unable to discover,
amidst conflicting testimonies and conflicting arguments, to
which of the two worthless priests who were cursing and reviling
each other, the headship of the Church rightfully belonged. It
was nearly at this juncture that the voice of John Wickliffe
began to make itself heard. The public mind of England was soon
stirred to its inmost depths: and the influence of the new
doctrines was soon felt, even in the distant kingdom of Bohemia.
In Bohemia, indeed, there had long been a predisposition to
heresy. Merchants from the Lower Danube were often seen in the
fairs of Prague; and the Lower Danube was peculiarly the seat of
the Paulician theology. The Church, torn by schism, and fiercely
assailed at once in England and in the German Empire, was in a
situation scarcely less perilous than at the crisis which
preceded the Albigensian crusade.

But this danger also passed by. The civil power gave its
strenuous support to the Church; and the Church made some show of
reforming itself. The Council of Constance put an end to the
schism. The whole Catholic world was again united under a single
chief; and rules were laid down which seemed to make it
improbable that the power of that chief would be grossly abused.
The most distinguished teachers of the new doctrine were
slaughtered. The English Government put down the Lollards with
merciless rigour; and in the next generation, scarcely one trace
of the second great revolt against the Papacy could be found,
except among the rude population of the mountains of Bohemia.

Another century went by; and then began the third and the most
memorable struggle for spiritual freedom. The times were changed.
The great remains of Athenian and Roman genius were studied by
thousands. The Church had no longer a monopoly of learning. The
powers of the modern languages had at length been developed. The
invention of printing had given new facilities to the intercourse
of mind with mind. With such auspices commenced the great

We will attempt to lay before our readers, in a short compass,
what appears to us to be the real history of the contest which
began with the preaching of Luther against the Indulgences, and
which may, in one sense, be said, to have been terminated, a
hundred and thirty years later, by the treaty of Westphalia.

In the northern parts of Europe the victory of Protestantism was
rapid and decisive. The dominion of the Papacy was felt by the
nations of Teutonic blood as the dominion of Italians, of
foreigners, of men who were aliens in language, manners, and
intellectual constitution. The large jurisdiction exercised by
the spiritual tribunals of Rome seemed to be a degrading badge of
servitude. The sums which, under a thousand pretexts, were
exacted by a distant court, were regarded both as a humiliating
and as a ruinous tribute. The character of that court excited the
scorn and disgust of a grave, earnest, sincere, and devout
people. The new theology spread with a rapidity never known
before. All ranks, all varieties of character, joined the ranks
of the innovators. Sovereigns impatient to appropriate to
themselves the prerogatives of the Pope, nobles desirous to share
the plunder of abbeys, suitors exasperated by the extortions of
the Roman Camera, patriots impatient of a foreign rule, good men
scandalised by the corruptions of the Church, bad men desirous of
the licence inseparable from great moral revolutions, wise men
eager in the pursuit of truth, weak men allured by the glitter of
novelty, all were found on one side. Alone among the northern
nations the Irish adhered to the ancient faith: and the cause of
this seems to have been that the national feeling which, in
happier countries, was directed against Rome, was in Ireland
directed against England. Within fifty years from the day on
which Luther publicly renounced communion with the Papacy, and
burned the bull of Leo before the gates of Wittenberg,
Protestantism attained its highest ascendency, an ascendency
which it soon lost, and which it has never regained. Hundreds,
who could well remember Brother Martin a devout Catholic, lived
to see the revolution of which he was the chief author,
victorious in half the states of Europe. In England, Scotland,
Denmark, Sweden, Livonia, Prussia, Saxony, Hesse, Wurtemburg, the
Palatinate, in several cantons of Switzerland, in the Northern
Netherlands, the Reformation had completely triumphed; and in all
the other countries on this side of the Alps and the Pyrenees, it
seemed on the point of triumphing.

But while this mighty work was proceeding in the north of Europe,
a revolution of a very different kind had taken place in the
south. The temper of Italy and Spain was widely different from
that of Germany and England. As the national feeling of the
Teutonic nations impelled them to throw off the Italian
supremacy, so the national feeling of the Italians impelled them
to resist any change which might deprive their country of the
honours and advantages which she enjoyed as the seat of the
government of the Universal Church. It was in Italy that the
tributes were spent of which foreign nations so bitterly
complained. It was to adorn Italy that the traffic in Indulgences
had been carried to that scandalous excess which had roused the
indignation of Luther. There was among the Italians both much
piety and much impiety; but, with very few exceptions, neither
the piety nor the impiety took the turn of Protestantism. The
religious Italians desired a reform of morals and discipline, but
not a reform of doctrine, and least of all a schism. The
irreligious Italians simply disbelieved Christianity, without
hating it. They looked at it as artists or as statesmen; and, so
looking at it, they liked it better in the established form than
in any other. It was to them what the old Pagan worship was to
Trajan and Pliny. Neither the spirit of Savonarola nor the spirit
of Machiavelli had anything in common with the spirit of the
religious or political Protestants of the North.

Spain again was, with respect to the Catholic Church, in a
situation very different from that of the Teutonic nations. Italy
was, in truth, a part of the empire of Charles the Fifth; and the
Court of Rome was, on many important occasions, his tool. He had
not, therefore, like the distant princes of the North, a strong
selfish motive for attacking the Papacy. In fact, the very
measures which provoked the Sovereign of England to renounce all
connection with Rome were dictated by the Sovereign of Spain. The
feeling of the Spanish people concurred with the interest of the
Spanish Government. The attachment of the Castilian to the faith
of his ancestors was peculiarly strong and ardent. With that
faith were inseparably bound up the institutions, the
independence, and the glory of his country. Between the day when
the last Gothic king was vanquished on the banks of the Xeres,
and the day when Ferdinand and Isabella entered Granada in
triumph, near eight hundred years had elapsed; and during those
years the Spanish nation had been engaged in a desperate struggle
against misbelievers. The Crusades had been merely an episode in
the history of other nations. The existence of Spain had been one
long Crusade. After fighting Mussulmans in the Old World, she
began to fight heathens in the New. It was under the authority of
a Papal bull that her children steered into unknown seas. It was
under the standard of the cross that they marched fearlessly into
the heart of great kingdoms. It was with the cry of "St. James
for Spain," that they charged armies which outnumbered them a
hundredfold. And men said that the Saint had heard the call, and
had himself, in arms, on a grey war-horse, led the onset before
which the worshippers of false gods had given way. After the
battle, every excess of rapacity or cruelty was sufficiently
vindicated by the plea that the sufferers were unbaptized.
Avarice stimulated zeal. Zeal consecrated avarice. Proselytes and
gold mines were sought with equal ardour. In the very year in
which the Saxons, maddened by the exactions of Rome, broke loose
from her yoke, the Spaniards, under the authority of Rome, made
themselves masters of the empire and of the treasures of
Montezuma. Thus Catholicism which, in the public mind of Northern
Europe, was associated with spoliation and oppression, was in the
public mind of Spain associated with liberty, victory, dominion,
wealth, and glory.

It is not, therefore, strange that the effect of the great
outbreak of Protestantism in one part of Christendom should have
been to produce an equally violent outbreak of Catholic zeal in
another. Two reformations were pushed on at once with equal
energy and effect, a reformation of doctrine in the North, a
reformation of manners and discipline in the South. In the course
of a single generation, the whole spirit of the Church of Rome
underwent a change. From the halls of the Vatican to the most
secluded hermitage of the Apennines, the great revival was
everywhere felt and seen. All the institutions anciently devised
for the propagation and defence of the faith were furbished up
and made efficient. Fresh engines of still more formidable power
were constructed. Everywhere old religious communities were
remodelled and new religious communities called into existence.
Within a year after the death of Leo, the order of Camaldoli was
purified. The Capuchins restored the old Franciscan discipline,
the midnight prayer and the life of silence. The Barnabites and
the society of Somasca devoted themselves to the relief and
education of the poor. To the Theatine order a still higher
interest belongs. Its great object was the same with that of our
early Methodists, namely to supply the deficiencies of the
parochial clergy. The Church of Rome, wiser than the Church of
England, gave every countenance to the good work. The members of
the new brotherhood preached to great multitudes in the streets
and in the fields, prayed by the beds of the sick, and
administered the last sacraments to the dying. Foremost among
them in zeal and devotion was Gian Pietro Caraffa, afterwards
Pope Paul the Fourth. In the convent of the Theatines at Venice,
under the eye of Caraffa, a Spanish gentleman took up his abode,
tended the poor in the hospitals, went about in rags, starved
himself almost to death, and often sallied into the streets,
mounted on stones, and, waving his hat to invite the passers-by,
began to preach in a strange jargon of mingled Castilian and
Tuscan. The Theatines were among the most zealous and rigid of
men; but to this enthusiastic neophyte their discipline seemed
lax, and their movements sluggish; for his own mind, naturally
passionate and imaginative, had passed through a training which
had given to all its peculiarities a morbid intensity and energy.
In his early life he had been the very prototype of the hero of
Cervantes. The single study of the young Hidalgo had been
chivalrous romance; and his existence had been one gorgeous day-
dream of princesses rescued and infidels subdued. He had chosen a
Dulcinea, "no countess, no duchess,"--these are his own words,--
"but one of far higher station"; and he flattered himself with
the hope of laying at her feet the keys of Moorish castles and
the jewelled turbans of Asiatic kings. In the midst of these
visions of martial glory and prosperous love, a severe wound
stretched him on a bed of sickness. His constitution was
shattered and he was doomed to be a cripple for life. The palm of
strength, grace, and skill in knightly exercises, was no longer
for him. He could no longer hope to strike down gigantic soldans,
or to find favour in the sight of beautiful women. A new vision
then arose in his mind, and mingled itself with his old delusions
in a manner which to most Englishmen must seem singular, but
which those who know how close was the union between religion and
chivalry in Spain will be at no loss to understand. He would
still be a soldier; he would still be a knight errant; but the
soldier and knight errant of the spouse of Christ. He would smite
the Great Red Dragon. He would be the champion of the Woman
clothed with the Sun. He would break the charm under which false
prophets held the souls of men in bondage. His restless spirit
led him to the Syrian deserts, and to the chapel of the Holy
Sepulchre. Thence he wandered back to the farthest West,
and astonished the convents of Spain and the schools of France
by his penances and vigils. The same lively imagination which
had been employed in picturing the tumult of unreal battles,
and the charms of unreal queens, now peopled his solitude
with saints and angels. The Holy Virgin descended to commune
with him. He saw the Saviour face to face with the eye of
flesh. Even those mysteries of religion which are the hardest
trial of faith were in his case palpable to sight. It is
difficult to relate without a pitying smile that, in the
sacrifice of the mass, he saw transubstantiation take place, and
that, as he stood praying on the steps of the Church of St.
Dominic, he saw the Trinity in Unity, and wept aloud with joy and
wonder. Such was the celebrated Ignatius Loyola, who, in the
great Catholic reaction, bore the same part which Luther bore in
the great Protestant movement.

Dissatisfied with the system of the Theatines, the enthusiastic
Spaniard turned his face towards Rome. Poor, obscure, without a
patron, without recommendations, he entered the city where now
two princely temples, rich with painting and many-coloured
marble, commemorate his great services to the Church; where his
form stands sculptured in massive silver; where his bones,
enshrined amidst jewels, are placed beneath the altar of God. His
activity and zeal bore down all opposition; and under his rule
the order of Jesuits began to exist, and grew rapidly to the full
measure of his gigantic powers. With what vehemence, with what
policy, with what exact discipline, with what dauntless courage,
with what self-denial, with what forgetfulness of the dearest
private ties, with what intense and stubborn devotion to a single
end, with what unscrupulous laxity and versatility in the choice
of means, the Jesuits fought the battle of their Church, is
written in every page of the annals of Europe during several
generations. In the order of Jesus was concentrated the
quintessence of the Catholic spirit; and the history of the order
of Jesus is the history of the great Catholic reaction. That
order possessed itself at once of all the strongholds which
command the public mind, of the pulpit, of the press, of the
confessional, of the academies. Wherever the Jesuit preached, the
church was too small for the audience. The name of Jesuit on a
title-page secured the circulation of a book. It was in the ears
of the Jesuit that the powerful, the noble, and the beautiful,
breathed the secret history of their lives. It was at the feet of
the Jesuit that the youth of the higher and middle classes were
brought up from childhood to manhood, from the first rudiments to
the courses of rhetoric and philosophy. Literature and science,
lately associated with infidelity or with heresy, now became the
allies of orthodoxy. Dominant in the South of Europe, the great
order soon went forth conquering and to conquer. In spite of
oceans and deserts, of hunger and pestilence, of spies and penal
laws, of dungeons and racks, of gibbets and quartering-blocks,
Jesuits were to be found under every disguise, and in every
country; scholars, physicians, merchants, serving-men; in the
hostile Court of Sweden, in the old manor-houses of Cheshire,
among the hovels of Connaught; arguing, instructing, consoling,
stealing away the hearts of the young, animating the courage of
the timid, holding up the crucifix before the eyes of the dying.
Nor was it less their office to plot against the thrones and
lives of apostate kings, to spread evil rumours, to raise
tumults, to inflame civil wars, to arm the hand of the assassin.
Inflexible in nothing but in their fidelity to the Church, they
were equally ready to appeal in her cause to the spirit of
loyalty and to the spirit of freedom. Extreme doctrines of
obedience and extreme doctrines of liberty, the right of rulers
to misgovern the people, the right of every one of the people to
plunge his knife in the heart of a bad ruler, were inculcated by
the same man, according as he addressed himself to the subject of
Philip or to the subject of Elizabeth. Some described these
divines as the most rigid, others as the most indulgent of
spiritual directors; and both descriptions were correct. The
truly devout listened with awe to the high and saintly morality
of the Jesuit. The gay cavalier who had run his rival through the
body, the frail beauty who had forgotten her marriage-vow, found
in the Jesuit an easy well-bred man of the world, who knew how to
make allowance for the little irregularities of people of
fashion. The confessor was strict or lax, according to the temper
of the penitent. The first object was to drive no person out of
the pale of the Church. Since there were bad people, it was
better that they should be bad Catholics than bad Protestants. If
a person was so unfortunate as to be a bravo, a libertine, or a
gambler, that was no reason for making him a heretic too.

The Old World was not wide enough for this strange activity. The
Jesuits invaded all the countries which the great maritime
discoveries of the preceding age had laid open to European
enterprise. They were to be found in the depths of the Peruvian
mines, at the marts of the African slave-caravans, on the shores
of the Spice Islands, in the observatories of China. They made
converts in regions which neither avarice nor curiosity had
tempted any of their countrymen to enter; and preached and
disputed in tongues of which no other native of the West
understood a word.

The spirit which appeared so eminently in this order animated the
whole Catholic world. The Court of Rome itself was purified.
During the generation which preceded the Reformation, that Court
had been a scandal to the Christian name. Its annals are black
with treason, murder, and incest. Even its more respectable
members were utterly unfit to be ministers of religion. They were
men like Leo the Tenth; men who, with the Latinity of the
Augustan age, had acquired its atheistical and scoffing spirit.
They regarded those Christian mysteries, of which they were
stewards, just as the Augur Cicero and the high Pontiff Caesar
regarded the Sibylline books and the pecking of the sacred
chickens. Among themselves, they spoke of the Incarnation, the
Eucharist, and the Trinity, in the same tone in which Cotta and
Velleius talked of the oracle of Delphi or the voice of Faunus in
the mountains. Their years glided by in a soft dream of sensual
and intellectual voluptuousness. Choice cookery, delicious wines,
lovely women, hounds, falcons, horses, newly-discovered
manuscripts of the classics, sonnets, and burlesque romances in
the sweetest Tuscan, just as licentious as a fine sense of the
graceful would permit, plate from the hand of Benvenuto, designs
for palaces by Michael Angelo, frescoes by Raphael, busts,
mosaics, and gems just dug up from among the ruins of ancient
temples and villas, these things were the delight and even the
serious business of their lives. Letters and the fine arts
undoubtedly owe much to this not inelegant sloth. But when the
great stirring of the mind of Europe began, when doctrine after
doctrine was assailed, when nation after nation withdrew from
communion with the successor of St. Peter, it was felt that the
Church could not be safely confided to chiefs whose highest
praise was that they were good judges of Latin compositions, of
paintings, and of statues, whose severest studies had a pagan
character, and who were suspected of laughing in secret at the
sacraments which they administered, and of believing no more of
the Gospel than of the Morgante Maggiore. Men of a very different
class now rose to the direction of ecclesiastical affairs, men
whose spirit resembled that of Dunstan and of Becket. The Roman
Pontiffs exhibited in their own persons all the austerity of the
early anchorites of Syria. Paul the Fourth brought to the Papal
throne the same fervent zeal which had carried him into the
Theatine convent. Pius the Fifth, under his gorgeous vestments,
wore day and night the hair shirt of a simple friar, walked
barefoot in the streets at the head of processions, found, even
in the midst of his most pressing avocations, time for private
prayer, often regretted that the public duties of his station
were unfavourable to growth in holiness, and edified his flock by
innumerable instances of humility, charity, and forgiveness of
personal injuries, while at the same time he upheld the authority
of his see, and the unadulterated doctrines of his Church, with
all the stubbornness and vehemence of Hildebrand. Gregory the
Thirteenth exerted himself not only to imitate but to surpass
Pius in the severe virtues of his sacred profession. As was the
head, such were the members. The change in the spirit of the
Catholic world may be traced in every walk of literature and of
art. It will be at once perceived by every person who compares
the poem of Tasso with that of Ariosto, or the monuments Of
Sixtus the Fifth with those of Leo the Tenth.

But it was not on moral influence alone that the Catholic Church
relied. The civil sword in Spain and Italy was unsparingly
employed in her support. The Inquisition was armed with new
powers and inspired with a new energy. If Protestantism, or the
semblance of Protestantism, showed itself in any quarter, it was
instantly met, not by petty, teasing persecution, but by
persecution of that sort which bows down and crushes all but a
very few select spirits. Whoever was suspected of heresy,
whatever his rank, his learning, or his reputation, knew that he
must purge himself to the satisfaction of a severe and vigilant
tribunal, or die by fire. Heretical books were sought out and
destroyed with similar rigour. Works which were once in every
house were so effectually suppressed that no copy of them is now
to be found in the most extensive libraries. One book in
particular, entitled Of the Benefits of the Death of Christ, had
this fate. It was written in Tuscan, was many times reprinted,
and was eagerly read in every part of Italy. But the inquisitors
detected in it the Lutheran doctrine of justification by faith
alone. They proscribed it; and it is now as hopelessly lost as
the second decade of Livy.

Thus, while the Protestant reformation proceeded rapidly at one
extremity of Europe, the Catholic revival went on as rapidly at
the other. About half a century after the great separation, there
were, throughout the North, Protestant governments and Protestant
nations. In the South were governments and nations actuated by
the most intense zeal for the ancient Church. Between these
two hostile regions lay, morally as well as geographically,
a great debatable land. In France, Belgium, Southern Germany,
Hungary, and Poland, the contest was still undecided. The
governments of those countries had not renounced their
connection with Rome; but the Protestants were numerous,
bold, and active. In France, they formed a commonwealth
within the realm, held fortresses, were able to bring great
armies into the field, and had treated with their sovereign on
terms of equality. In Poland, the King was still a Catholic; but
the Protestants had the upper hand in the Diet, filled the chief
offices in the administration, and, in the large towns, took
possession of the parish churches. "It appeared," says the Papal
nuncio, "that in Poland, Protestantism would completely supersede
Catholicism." In Bavaria, the state of things was nearly the
same. The Protestants had a majority in the Assembly of the
States, and demanded from the duke concessions in favour of their
religion, as the price of their subsidies. In Transylvania, the
House of Austria was unable to prevent the Diet from
confiscating, by one sweeping decree, the estates of the Church.
In Austria Proper it was generally said that only one-thirtieth
part of the population could be counted on as good Catholics. In
Belgium the adherents of the new opinions were reckoned by
hundreds of thousands.

The history of the two succeeding generations is the history of
the struggle between Protestantism possessed of the North of
Europe, and Catholicism possessed of the South, for the doubtful
territory which lay between. All the weapons of carnal and of
spiritual warfare were employed. Both sides may boast of great
talents and of great virtues. Both have to blush for many follies
and crimes. At first, the chances seemed to be decidedly in
favour of Protestantism; but the victory remained with the Church
of Rome. On every point she was successful. If we overleap,
another half century, we find her victorious and dominant in
France, Belgium, Bavaria, Bohemia, Austria, Poland, and Hungary.
Nor has Protestantism, in the course of two hundred years, been
able to reconquer any portion of what was then lost.

It is, moreover, not to be dissembled that this triumph of the
Papacy is to be chiefly attributed, not to the force of arms,
but to a great reflux in public opinion. During the first half
century after the commencement of the Reformation, the current of
feeling, in the countries on this side of the Alps and of the
Pyrenees, ran impetuously towards the new doctrines. Then the
tide turned, and rushed as fiercely in the opposite direction.
Neither during the one period, nor during the other, did much
depend upon the event of battles or sieges. The Protestant
movement was hardly checked for an instant by the defeat at
Muhlberg. The Catholic reaction went on at full speed in spite of
the destruction of the Armada. It is difficult to say whether the
violence of the first blow or of the recoil was the greater.
Fifty years after the Lutheran separation, Catholicism could
scarcely maintain itself on the shores of the Mediterranean. A
hundred years after the separation, Protestantism could scarcely
maintain itself on the shores of the Baltic. The causes of this
memorable turn in human affairs well deserve to be investigated.

The contest between the two parties bore some resemblance to the
fencing-match in Shakspeare; "Laertes wounds Hamlet; then, in
scuffling, they change rapiers, and Hamlet wounds Laertes." The
war between Luther and Leo was a war between firm faith and
unbelief, between zeal and apathy, between energy and indolence,
between seriousness and frivolity, between a pure morality and
vice. Very different was the war which degenerate Protestantism
had to wage against regenerate Catholicism. To the debauchees,
the poisoners, the atheists, who had worn the tiara during the
generation which preceded the Reformation, had succeeded Popes
who, in religious fervour and severe sanctity of manners, might
bear a comparison with Cyprian or Ambrose. The order of Jesuits
alone could show many men not inferior in sincerity, constancy,
courage, and austerity of life, to the apostles of the
Reformation. But while danger had thus called forth in the bosom
of the Church of Rome many of the highest qualities of the
Reformers, the Reformers had contracted some of the corruptions
which had been justly censured in the Church of Rome. They had
become lukewarm and worldly. Their great old leaders had been
borne to the grave, and had left no successors. Among the
Protestant princes there was little or no hearty Protestant
feeling. Elizabeth herself was a Protestant rather from policy
than from firm conviction. James the First, in order to effect
his favourite object of marrying his son into one of the great
continental houses, was ready to make immense concessions to
Rome, and even to admit a modified primacy in the Pope. Henry the
Fourth twice abjured the reformed doctrines from interested
motives. The Elector of Saxony, the natural head Of the
Protestant party in Germany, submitted to become, at the most
important crisis of the struggle, a tool in the hands of the
Papists. Among the Catholic sovereigns, on the other hand, we
find a religious zeal often amounting to fanaticism. Philip the
Second was a Papist in a very different sense from that in which
Elizabeth was a Protestant. Maximilian of Bavaria, brought up
under the teaching of the Jesuits, was a fervent missionary
wielding the powers of a prince. The Emperor Ferdinand the Second
deliberately put his throne to hazard over and over again, rather
than make the smallest concession to the spirit of religious
innovation. Sigismund of Sweden lost a crown which he might have
preserved if he would have renounced the Catholic faith. In
short, everywhere on the Protestant side we see languor;
everywhere on the Catholic side we see ardour and devotion.

Not only was there, at this time, a much more intense zeal among
the Catholics than among the Protestants; but the whole zeal of
the Catholics was directed against the Protestants, while almost
the whole zeal of the Protestants was directed against each
other. Within the Catholic Church there were no serious disputes
on points of doctrine. The decisions of the Council of Trent were
received; and the Jansenian controversy had not yet arisen. The
whole force of Rome was, therefore, effective for the purpose of
carrying on the war against the Reformation. On the other hand,
the force which ought to have fought the battle of the
Reformation was exhausted in civil conflict. While Jesuit
preachers, Jesuit confessors, Jesuit teachers of youth,
overspread Europe, eager to expend every faculty of their minds
and every drop of their blood in the cause of their Church,
Protestant doctors were confuting, and Protestant rulers were
punishing, sectaries who were just as good Protestants as

"Cumque superba foret BABYLON spolianda tropaeis,
Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos."

In the Palatinate, a Calvinistic prince persecuted the Lutherans.
In Saxony, a Lutheran prince persecuted the Calvinists. Everybody
who objected to any of the articles of the Confession of Augsburg
was banished from Sweden. In Scotland, Melville was disputing
with other Protestants on questions of ecclesiastical government.
In England the gaols were filled with men, who, though zealous
for the Reformation, did not exactly agree with the Court on all
points of discipline and doctrine. Some were persecuted for
denying the tenet of reprobation; some for not wearing surplices.
The Irish people might at that time have been, in all
probability, reclaimed from Popery, at the expense of half the
zeal and activity which Whitgift employed in oppressing Puritans,
and Martin Marprelate in reviling bishops.

As the Catholics in zeal and in union had a great advantage over
the Protestants, so had they also an infinitely superior
organisation. In truth, Protestantism, for aggressive purposes,
had no organisation at all. The Reformed Churches were mere
national Churches. The Church of England existed for England
alone. It was an institution as purely local as the Court of
Common Pleas, and was utterly without any machinery for foreign
operations. The Church of Scotland, in the same manner, existed
for Scotland alone. The operations of the Catholic Church, on the
other hand, took in the whole world. Nobody at Lambeth or at
Edinburgh troubled himself about what was doing in Poland or
Bavaria. But Cracow and Munich were at Rome objects of as much
interest as the purlieus of St. John Lateran. Our island, the
head of the Protestant interest, did not send out a single
missionary or a single instructor of youth to the scene of the
great spiritual war. Not a single seminary was established here
for the purpose of furnishing a supply of such persons to foreign
countries. On the other hand, Germany, Hungary, and Poland were
filled with able and active Catholic emissaries of Spanish or
Italian birth; and colleges for the instruction of the northern
youth were founded at Rome. The spiritual force of Protestantism
was a mere local militia, which might be useful in case of an
invasion, but could not be sent abroad, and could therefore make
no conquests. Rome had such a local militia; but she had also a
force disposable at a moment's notice for foreign service,
however dangerous or disagreeable. If it was thought at head-
quarters that a Jesuit at Palermo was qualified by his talents
and character to withstand the Reformers in Lithuania, the order
was instantly given and instantly obeyed. In a month, the
faithful servant of the Church was preaching, catechising,
confessing, beyond the Niemen.

It is impossible to deny that the polity of the Church of Rome is
the very master-piece of human wisdom. In truth, nothing but such
a polity could, against such assaults, have borne up such
doctrines. The experience of twelve hundred eventful years, the
ingenuity and patient care of forty generations of statesmen,
have improved that polity to such perfection that, among the
contrivances which have been devised for deceiving and oppressing
mankind, it occupies the highest place. The stronger our
conviction that reason and scripture were decidedly on the side
of Protestantism, the greater is the reluctant admiration with
which we regard that system of tactics against which reason and
scripture were employed in vain.

If we went at large into this most interesting subject we should
fill volumes. We will, therefore, at present, advert to only one
important part of the policy of the Church of Rome. She
thoroughly understands, what no other Church has ever understood,
how to deal with enthusiasts. In some sects, particularly in
infant sects, enthusiasm is suffered to be rampant. In other
sects, particularly in sects long established and richly endowed,
it is regarded with aversion. The Catholic Church neither submits
to enthusiasm nor proscribes it, but uses it. She considers it as
a great moving force which in itself, like the muscular power of
a fine horse, is neither good nor evil, but which may be so
directed as to produce great good or great evil; and she assumes
the direction to herself. It would be absurd to run down a horse
like a wolf. It would be still more absurd to let him run wild,
breaking fences, and trampling down passengers. The rational
course is to subjugate his will without impairing his vigour, to
teach him to obey the rein, and then to urge him to full speed.
When once he knows his master, he is valuable in proportion to
his strength and spirit. Just such has been the system of the
Church of Rome with regard to enthusiasts. She knows that, when
religious feelings have obtained the complete empire of the mind,
they impart a strange energy, that they raise men above the
dominion of pain and pleasure, that obloquy becomes glory, that
death itself is contemplated only as the beginning of a higher
and happier life. She knows that a person in this state is no
object of contempt. He may be vulgar, ignorant, visionary,
extravagant; but he will do and suffer things which it is for her
interest that somebody should do and suffer, yet from which calm
and sober-minded men would shrink. She accordingly enlists him in
her service, assigns to him some forlorn hope, in which
intrepidity and impetuosity are more wanted than judgment and
self-command, and sends him forth with her benedictions and her

In England it not unfrequently happens that a tinker or coal-
heaver hears a sermon or falls in with a tract which alarms him
about the state of his soul. If he be a man of excitable nerves
and strong imagination, he thinks himself given over to the Evil
Power. He doubts whether he has not committed the unpardonable
sin. He imputes every wild fancy that springs up in his mind to
the whisper of a fiend. His sleep is broken by dreams of the
great judgment-seat, the open books, and the unquenchable fire.
If, in order to escape from these vexing thoughts, he flies to
amusement or to licentious indulgence, the delusive relief only
makes his misery darker and more hopeless. At length a turn takes
place. He is reconciled to his offended Maker. To borrow the fine
imagery of one who had himself been thus tried, he emerges from
the Valley of the Shadow of Death, from the dark land of gins and
snares, of quagmires and precipices, of evil spirits and ravenous
beasts. The sunshine is on his path. He ascends the Delectable
Mountains, and catches from their summit a distant view of the
shining city which is the end of his pilgrimage. Then arises in
his mind a natural and surely not a censurable desire, to impart
to others the thoughts of which his own heart is full, to warn
the careless, to comfort those who are troubled in spirit. The
impulse which urges him to devote his whole life to the teaching
of religion is a strong passion in the guise of a duty. He
exhorts his neighbours; and, if he be a man of strong parts, he
often does so with great effect. He pleads as if he were pleading
for his life, with tears, and pathetic gestures, and burning
words; and he soon finds with delight, not perhaps wholly unmixed
with the alloy of human infirmity, that his rude eloquence rouses
and melts hearers who sleep very composedly while the rector
preaches on the apostolical succession. Zeal for God, love for
his fellow-creatures, pleasure in the exercise of his newly
discovered powers, impel him to become a preacher. He has no
quarrel with the establishment, no objection to its formularies,
its government, or its vestments. He would gladly be admitted
among its humblest ministers, but, admitted or rejected, he feels
that his vocation is determined. His orders have come down to
him, not through a long and doubtful series of Arian and Popish
bishops, but direct from on high. His commission is the same that
on the Mountain of Ascension was given to the Eleven. Nor will
he, for lack of human credentials, spare to deliver the glorious
message with which he is charged by the true Head of the Church.
For a man thus minded, there is within the pale of the
establishment no place. He has been at no college; he cannot
construe a Greek author or write a Latin theme; and he is told
that, if he remains in the communion of the Church, he must do so
as a hearer, and that, if he is resolved to be a teacher, he must
begin by being a schismatic. His choice is soon made. He
harangues on Tower Hill or in Smithfield. A congregation is
formed. A licence is obtained. A plain brick building, with a
desk and benches, is run up, and named Ebenezer or Bethel. In a
few weeks the Church has lost for ever a hundred families, not
one of which entertained the least scruple about her articles,
her liturgy, her government, or her ceremonies.

Far different is the policy of Rome. The ignorant enthusiast whom
the Anglican Church makes an enemy, and whatever the polite and
learned may think, a most dangerous enemy, the Catholic Church
makes a champion. She bids him nurse his beard, covers him with a
gown and hood of coarse dark stuff, ties a rope round his waist,
and sends him forth to teach in her name. He costs her nothing.
He takes not a ducat away from the revenues of her beneficed
clergy. He lives by the alms of those who respect his spiritual
character, and are grateful for his instructions. He preaches,
not exactly in the style of Massillon, but in a way which moves
the passions of uneducated hearers; and all his influence is
employed to strengthen the Church of which he is a minister. To
that Church he becomes as strongly attached as any of the
cardinals whose scarlet carriages and liveries crowd the entrance
of the palace on the Quirinal. In this way the Church of Rome
unites in herself all the strength of establishment, and all the
strength of dissent. With the utmost pomp of a dominant hierarchy
above, she has all the energy of the voluntary system below. It
would be easy to mention very recent instances in which the
hearts of hundreds of thousands, estranged from her by the
selfishness, sloth, and cowardice of the beneficed clergy, have
been brought back by the zeal of the begging friars.

Even for female agency there is a place in her system. To devout
women she assigns spiritual functions, dignities, and
magistracies. In our country, if a noble lady is moved by more
than ordinary zeal for the propagation of religion, the chance is
that, though she may disapprove of no doctrine or ceremony of the
Established Church, she will end by giving her name to a new
schism. If a pious and benevolent woman enters the cells of a
prison to pray with the most unhappy and degraded of her own sex,
she does so without any authority from the Church. No line of
action is traced out for her; and it is well if the Ordinary does
not complain of her intrusion, and if the Bishop does not shake
his head at such irregular benevolence. At Rome, the Countess of
Huntingdon would have a place in the calendar as St. Selina, and
Mrs. Fry would be foundress and first Superior of the Blessed
Order of Sisters of the Gaols.

Place Ignatius Loyola at Oxford. He is certain to become the head
of a formidable secession. Place John Wesley at Rome. He is
certain to be the first General of a new society devoted to the
interests and honour of the Church. Place St. Theresa in London.
Her restless enthusiasm ferments into madness, not untinctured
with craft. She becomes the prophetess, the mother of the
faithful, holds disputations with the devil, issues sealed
pardons to her adorers, and lies in of the Shiloh. Place Joanna
Southcote at Rome. She founds an order of barefooted Carmelites,
every one of whom is ready to suffer martyrdom for the Church; a
solemn service is consecrated to her memory; and her statue,
placed over the holy water, strikes the eye of every stranger who
enters St. Peter's.

We have dwelt long on this subject, because we believe that of
the many causes to which the Church of Rome owed her safety and
her triumph at the close of the sixteenth century, the chief was
the profound policy with which she used the fanaticism of such
persons as St. Ignatius and St. Theresa.

The Protestant party was now indeed vanquished and humbled. In
France, so strong had been the Catholic reaction that Henry the
Fourth found it necessary to choose between his religion and his
crown. In spite of his clear hereditary right, in spite of his
eminent personal qualities, he saw that, unless he reconciled
himself to the Church of Rome, he could not count on the fidelity
even of those gallant gentlemen whose impetuous valour had turned
the tide of battle at Ivry. In Belgium, Poland, and Southern
Germany, Catholicism had obtained complete ascendency. The
resistance of Bohemia was put down. The Palatinate was conquered.
Upper and Lower Saxony were overflowed by Catholic invaders. The
King of Denmark stood forth as the Protector of the Reformed
Churches: he was defeated, driven out of the empire, and attacked
in his own possessions. The armies of the House of Austria
pressed on, subjugated Pomerania, and were stopped in their
progress only by the ramparts of Stralsund.

And now again the tide turned. Two violent outbreaks of religious
feeling in opposite directions had given a character to the whole
history of a whole century. Protestantism had at first driven
back Catholicism to the Alps and the Pyrenees. Catholicism had
rallied, and had driven back Protestantism even to the German
Ocean. Then the great southern reaction began to slacken, as the
great northern movement had slackened before. The zeal of the
Catholics waxed cool. Their union was dissolved. The paroxysm of
religious excitement was over on both sides. One party had
degenerated as far from the spirit of Loyola as the other from
the spirit of Luther. During three generations religion had been
the mainspring of politics. The revolutions and civil wars of
France, Scotland, Holland, Sweden, the long struggle between
Philip and Elizabeth, the bloody competition for the Bohemian
crown, had all originated in theological disputes. But a great
change now took place. The contest which was raging in Germany
lost its religious character. It was now, on one side, less a
contest for the spiritual ascendency of the Church of Rome than
for the temporal ascendency of the House of Austria. On the other
side, it was less a contest for the reformed doctrines than for
national independence. Governments began to form themselves into
new combinations, in which community of political interest was
far more regarded than community of religious belief. Even at
Rome the progress of the Catholic arms was observed with mixed
feelings. The Supreme Pontiff was a sovereign prince of the
second rank, and was anxious about the balance of power as well
as about the propagation of truth. It was known that he dreaded
the rise of an universal monarchy even more than he desired the
prosperity of the Universal Church. At length a great event
announced to the world that the war of sects had ceased, and that
the war of states had succeeded. A coalition, including
Calvinists, Lutherans, and Catholics, was formed against the
House of Austria. At the head of that coalition were the first
statesman and the first warrior of the age; the former a prince
of the Catholic Church, distinguished by the vigour and success
with which he had put down the Huguenots; the latter a Protestant
king who owed his throne to a revolution caused by hatred of
Popery. The alliance of Richelieu and Gustavus marks the time at
which the great religious struggle terminated. The war which
followed was a war for the equilibrium of Europe. When, at
length, the peace of Westphalia was concluded, it appeared that
the Church of Rome remained in full possession of a vast dominion
which in the middle of the preceding century she seemed to be on
the point of losing. No part of Europe remained Protestant,
except that part which had become thoroughly Protestant before
the generation which heard Luther preach had passed away.

Since that time there has been no religious war between Catholics
and Protestants as such. In the time of Cromwell, Protestant
England was united with Catholic France, then governed by a
priest, against Catholic Spain. William the Third, the eminently
Protestant hero, was at the head of a coalition which included
many Catholic powers, and which was secretly favoured even by
Rome, against the Catholic Lewis. In the time of Anne, Protestant
England and Protestant Holland joined with Catholic Savoy and
Catholic Portugal, for the purpose of transferring the crown of
Spain from one bigoted Catholic to another.

The geographical frontier between the two religions has continued
to run almost precisely where it ran at the close of the Thirty
Years' War; nor has Protestantism given any proofs of that
"expansive power" which has been ascribed to it. But the
Protestant boasts, and boasts most justly, that wealth,
civilisation, and intelligence, have increased far more on the
northern than on the southern side of the boundary, and that
countries so little favoured by nature as Scotland and Prussia
are now among the most flourishing and best governed portions of
the world, while the marble palaces of Genoa are deserted, while
banditti infest the beautiful shores of Campania, while the
fertile sea-coast of the Pontifical State is abandoned to
buffaloes and wild boars. It cannot be doubted that, since the
sixteenth century, the Protestant nations have made decidedly
greater progress than their neighbours. The progress made by
those nations in which Protestantism, though not finally
successful, yet maintained a long struggle, and left permanent
traces, has generally been considerable. But when we come to the
Catholic Land, to the part of Europe in which the first spark of
reformation was trodden out as soon as it appeared, and from
which proceeded the impulse which drove Protestantism back, we
find, at best, a very slow progress, and on the whole a
retrogression. Compare Denmark and Portugal. When Luther began to
preach, the superiority of the Portuguese was unquestionable. At
present, the superiority of the Danes is no less so. Compare
Edinburgh and Florence. Edinburgh has owed less to climate, to
soil, and to the fostering care of rulers than any capital,
Protestant or Catholic. In all these respects, Florence has been
singularly happy. Yet whoever knows what Florence and Edinburgh
were in the generation preceding the Reformation, and what they
are now, will acknowledge that some great cause has, during the
last three Centuries, operated to raise one part of the European
family, and to depress the other. Compare the history of England
and that of Spain during the last century. In arms, arts,
sciences, letters, commerce, agriculture, the contrast is most
striking. The distinction is not confined to this side of the
Atlantic. The colonies planted by England in America have
immeasurably outgrown in power those planted by Spain. Yet we
have no reason to believe that, at the beginning of the sixteenth
century, the Castilian was in any respect inferior to the
Englishman. Our firm belief is, that the North owes its great
civilisation and prosperity chiefly to the moral effect of the
Protestant Reformation, and that the decay of the southern
countries of Europe is to be mainly ascribed to the great
Catholic revival.

About a hundred years after the final settlement of the boundary
line between Protestantism and Catholicism, began to appear the
signs of the fourth great peril of the Church of Rome. The storm
which was now rising against her was of a very different kind
from those which had preceded it. Those who had formerly attacked
her had questioned only a part of her doctrines. A school was now
growing up which rejected the whole. The Albigenses, the
Lollards, the Lutherans, the Calvinists, had a positive religious
system, and were strongly attached to it. The creed of the new
sectaries was altogether negative. They took one of their
premises from the Protestants, and one from the Catholics. From
the latter they borrowed the principle, that Catholicism was the
only pure and genuine Christianity. With the former, they held
that some parts of the Catholic system were contrary to reason.
The conclusion was obvious. Two propositions, each of which
separately is compatible with the most exalted piety, formed,
when held in conjunction, the ground-work of a system of
irreligion. The doctrine of Bossuet, that transubstantiation is
affirmed in the Gospel, and the doctrine of Tillotson, that
transubstantiation is an absurdity, when put together, produced
by logical necessity, the inferences of Voltaire.

Had the sect which was rising at Paris been a sect of mere
scoffers, it is very improbable that it would have left deep
traces of its existence in the institutions and manners of
Europe. Mere negation, mere Epicurean infidelity, as Lord Bacon
most justly observes, has never disturbed the peace of the world.
It furnishes no motive for action. It inspires no enthusiasm. It
has no missionaries, no crusaders, no martyrs. If the Patriarch
of the Holy Philosophical Church had contented himself with
making jokes about Saul's asses and David's wives, and with
criticising the poetry of Ezekiel in the same narrow spirit in
which he criticised that of Shakspeare, Rome would have had
little to fear. But it is due to him and to his compeers to say
that the real secret of their strength lay in the truth which was
mingled with their errors, and in the generous enthusiasm which
was hidden under their flippancy. They were men who, with all
their faults, moral and intellectual, sincerely and earnestly
desired the improvement of the condition of the human race, whose
blood boiled at the sight of cruelty and injustice, who made
manful war, with every faculty which they possessed, on what they
considered as abuses, and who on many signal occasions placed
themselves gallantly between the powerful and the oppressed.
While they assailed Christianity with a rancour and an unfairness
disgraceful to men who called themselves philosophers, they yet
had, in far greater measure than their opponents, that charity
towards men of all classes and races which Christianity enjoins.
Religious persecution, judicial torture, arbitrary imprisonment,
the unnecessary multiplication of capital punishments, the delay
and chicanery of tribunals, the exactions of farmers of the
revenue, slavery, the slave trade, were the constant subjects of
their lively satire and eloquent disquisitions. When an innocent
man was broken on the wheel at Toulouse, when a youth, guilty
only of an indiscretion, was beheaded at Abbeville, when a brave
officer, borne down by public injustice, was dragged, with a gag
in his mouth, to die on the Place de Greve, a voice instantly
went forth from the banks of Lake Leman, which made itself heard
from Moscow to Cadiz, and which sentenced the unjust judges to
the contempt and detestation of all Europe. The really efficient
weapons with which the philosophers assailed the evangelical
faith were borrowed from the evangelical morality. The ethical
and dogmatical parts of the Gospel were unhappily turned against
each other. On one side was a Church boasting of the purity of a
doctrine derived from the Apostles, but disgraced by the massacre
of St. Bartholomew, by the murder of the best of kings, by the
war of Cevennes, by the destruction of Port-Royal. On the other
side was a sect laughing at the Scriptures, shooting out the
tongue at the sacraments, but ready to encounter principalities
and powers in the cause of justice, mercy and toleration.

Irreligion, accidentally associated with philanthropy, triumphed
for a time over religion accidentally associated with political
and social abuses. Everything gave way to the zeal and activity
of the new reformers. In France, every man distinguished in
letters was found in their ranks. Every year gave birth to works
in which the fundamental principles of the Church were attacked
with argument, invective, and ridicule. The Church made no
defence, except by acts of power. Censures were pronounced: books
were seized: insults were offered  to the remains of infidel
writers; but no Bossuet, no Pascal, came forth to encounter
Voltaire. There appeared not a single defence of the Catholic
doctrine which produced any considerable effect, or which is
now even remembered. A bloody and unsparing persecution, like
that which put down the Albigenses, might have put down the
philosophers. But the time for De Montforts and Dominics had
gone by. The punishments which the priests were still able
to inflict were suffficient to irritate, but not sufficient to
destroy. The war was between power on one side, and wit on
the other; and the power was under far more restraint than
the wit. Orthodoxy soon became a synonyme for ignorance and
stupidity. It was as necessary to the character of an
accomplished man that he should despise the religion of his
country, as that he should know his letters. The new doctrines
spread rapidly through Christendom. Paris was the capital of the
whole Continent. French was everywhere the language of polite
circles. The literary glory of Italy and Spain had departed. That
of Germany had not dawned. That of England shone, as yet, for the
English alone. The teachers of France were the teachers of
Europe. The Parisian opinions spread fast among the educated
classes beyond the Alps: nor could the vigilance of the
Inquisition prevent the contraband importation of the new heresy
into Castile and Portugal. Governments, even arbitrary
governments, saw with pleasure the progress of this philosophy.
Numerous reforms, generally laudable, sometimes hurried on
without sufficient regard to time, to place, and to public
feeling, showed the extent of its influence. The rulers of
Prussia, of Russia, of Austria, and of many smaller states, were
supposed to be among the initiated.

The Church of Rome was still, in outward show, as stately and
splendid as ever; but her foundation was undermined. No state had
quitted her communion or confiscated her revenues; but the
reverence of the people was everywhere departing from her.

The first great warning-stroke was the fall of that society
which, in the conflict with Protestantism, had saved the Catholic
Church from destruction. The Order of Jesus had never recovered
from the injury received in the struggle with Port-Royal. It was
now still more rudely assailed by the philosophers. Its spirit
was broken; its reputation was tainted. Insulted by all the men
of genius in Europe, condemned by the civil magistrate, feebly
defended by the chiefs of the hierarchy, it fell: and great was
the fall of it.

The movement went on with increasing speed. The first generation
of the new sect passed away. The doctrines of Voltaire were
inherited and exaggerated by successors, who bore to him the same
relation which the Anabaptists bore to Luther, or the Fifth-
Monarchy men to Pym. At length the Revolution came. Down went the
old Church of France, with all its pomp and wealth. Some of its
priests purchased a maintenance by separating themselves from
Rome, and by becoming the authors of a fresh schism. Some,
rejoicing in the new licence, flung away their sacred vestments,
proclaimed that their whole life had been an imposture, insulted
and persecuted the religion of which they had been ministers, and
distinguished themselves, even in the Jacobin Club and the
Commune of Paris, by the excess of their impudence and ferocity.
Others, more faithful to their principles, were butchered by
scores without a trial, drowned, shot, hung on lamp-posts.
Thousands fled from their country to take sanctuary under the
shade of hostile altars. The churches were closed; the bells were
silent; the shrines were plundered; the silver crucifixes were
melted down. Buffoons, dressed in copes and surplices, came
dancing the carmagnole even to the bar of the Convention. The
bust of Marat was substituted for the statues of the martyrs of
Christianity. A prostitute, seated on a chair of state in the
chancel of Notre Dame, received the adoration of thousands, who
exclaimed that at length, for the first time, those ancient
Gothic arches had resounded with the accents of truth. The new
unbelief was as intolerant as the old superstition. To show
reverence for religion was to incur the suspicion of
disaffection. It was not without imminent danger that the priest
baptized the infant, joined the hands of lovers, or listened to
the confession of the dying. The absurd worship of the Goddess of
Reason was, indeed, of short duration; but the deism of
Robespierre and Lepaux was not less hostile to the Catholic faith
than the atheism of Clootz and Chaumette.

Nor were the calamities of the Church confined to France. The
revolutionary spirit, attacked by all Europe, beat all Europe
back, became conqueror in its turn, and, not satisfied with the
Belgian cities and the rich domains of the spiritual electors,
went raging over the Rhine and through the passes of the Alps.
Throughout the whole of the great war against Protestantism,
Italy and Spain had been the base of the Catholic operations.
Spain was now the obsequious vassal of the infidels. Italy was
subjugated by them. To her ancient principalities succeeded
the Cisalpine republic, and the Ligurian republic, and the
Parthenopean republic. The shrine of Loretto was stripped
of the treasures piled up by the devotion of six hundred
years. The convents of Rome were pillaged. The tricoloured
flag floated on the top of the Castle of St. Angelo. The
successor of St. Peter was carried away captive by the
unbelievers. He died a prisoner in their hands; and even the
honours of sepulture were long withheld from his remains.

It is not strange that in the year 1799, even sagacious observers
should have thought that, at length, the hour of the Church of
Rome was come. An infidel power ascendant, the Pope dying in
captivity, the most illustrious prelates of France living in a
foreign country on Protestant alms, the noblest edifices which
the munificence of former ages had consecrated to the worship of
God turned into temples of Victory, or into banqueting-houses for
political societies, or into Theophilanthropic chapels, such
signs might well be supposed to indicate the approaching end of
that long domination.

But the end was not yet. Again doomed to death, the milk-white
hind was still fated not to die. Even before the funeral rites
had been performed over the ashes of Pius the Sixth, a great
reaction had commenced, which, after the lapse of more than forty
years, appears to be still in progress. Anarchy had had its day.
A new order of things rose out of the confusion, new dynasties,
new laws, new titles; and amidst them emerged the ancient
religion. The Arabs have a fable that the Great Pyramid was built
by antediluvian kings, and alone, of all the works of men, bore
the weight of the flood. Such as this was the fate of the Papacy.
It had been buried under the great inundation; but its deep
foundations had remained unshaken; and when the waters abated, it
appeared alone amidst the ruins of a world which had passed away.
The republic of Holland was gone, and the empire of Germany, and
the great Council of Venice, and the old Helvetian League, and
the House of Bourbon, and the parliaments and aristocracy of
France. Europe was full of young creations, a French empire, a
kingdom of Italy, a Confederation of the Rhine. Nor had the late
events affected only territorial limits and political
institutions. The distribution of property, the composition and
spirit of society, had, through great part of Catholic Europe,
undergone a complete change. But the unchangeable Church was
still there.

Some future historian, as able and temperate as Professor Ranke,
will, we hope, trace the progress of the Catholic revival of the
nineteenth century. We feel that we are drawing too near our own
time, and that, if we go on, we shall be in danger of saying much
which may be supposed to indicate, and which will certainly
excite, angry feelings. We will, therefore, make only one more
observation, which, in our opinion, is deserving of serious

During the eighteenth century, the influence of the Church of
Rome was constantly on the decline. Unbelief made extensive
conquests in all the Catholic countries of Europe, and in some
countries obtained a complete ascendency. The Papacy was at
length brought so low as to be an object of derision to infidels,
and of pity rather than of hatred to Protestants. During the
nineteenth century, this fallen Church has been gradually rising
from her depressed state and reconquering her old dominion. No
person who calmly reflects on what, within the last few years,
has passed in Spain, in Italy, in South America, in Ireland, in
the Netherlands, in Prussia, even in France, can doubt that the
power of this Church over the hearts and minds of men, is now
greater far than it was when the Encyclopaedia and the
Philosophical Dictionary appeared. It is surely remarkable, that
neither the moral revolution of the eighteenth century, nor the
moral counter-revolution of the nineteenth, should, in any
perceptible degree, have added to the domain of Protestantism.
During the former period, whatever was lost to Catholicism was
lost also to Christianity; during the latter, whatever was
regained by Christianity in Catholic countries was regained also
by Catholicism. We should naturally have expected that many
minds, on the way from superstition to infidelity, or on the way
back from infidelity to superstition, would have stopped at an
intermediate point. Between the doctrines taught in the schools
of the Jesuits, and those which were maintained at the little
supper parties of the Baron Holbach, there is a vast interval, in
which the human mind, it should seem, might find for itself some
resting-place more satisfactory than either of the two extremes.
And at the time of the Reformation, millions found such a
resting-place. Whole nations then renounced Popery without
ceasing to believe in a first cause, in a future life, or in the
Divine mission of Jesus. In the last century, on the other hand,
when a Catholic renounced his belief in the real Presence, it was
a thousand to one that he renounced his belief in the Gospel too;
and, when the reaction took place, with belief in the Gospel came
back belief in the real presence.

We by no means venture to deduce from these phenomena any general
law; but we think it a most remarkable fact, that no Christian
nation, which did not adopt the principles of the Reformation
before the end of the sixteenth century, should ever have adopted
them. Catholic communities have, since that time, become infidel
and become Catholic again; but none has become Protestant.

Here we close this hasty sketch of one of the most important
portions of the history of mankind. Our readers will have great
reason to feel obliged to us if we have interested them
sufficiently to induce them to peruse Professor Ranke's book. We
will only caution them against the French translation, a
performance which, in our opinion, is just as discreditable to
the moral character of the person from whom it proceeds as a
false affidavit or a forged bill of exchange would have been, and
advise them to study either the original, or the English version,
in which the sense and spirit of the original are admirably

(January 1833)

History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By LORD MAHON.
8vo. London: 1832.

The days when Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by a Person of
Honour, and Romances of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person
of Quality, were attractive to readers and profitable to
booksellers, have long gone by. The literary privileges once
enjoyed by lords are as obsolete as their right to kill the
king's deer on their way to Parliament, or as their old remedy of
scandalum magnatum. Yet we must acknowledge that, though our
political opinions are by no means aristocratical, we always feel
kindly disposed towards noble authors. Industry, and a taste for
intellectual pleasures, are peculiarly respectable in those who
can afford to be idle and who have every temptation to be
dissipated. It is impossible not to wish success to a man who,
finding himself placed, without any exertion or any merit on his
part, above the mass of society, voluntarily descends from his
eminence in search of distinctions which he may justly call his

This is, we think, the second appearance of Lord Mahon in the
character of an author. His first book was creditable to him, but
was in every respect inferior to the work which now lies before
us. He has undoubtedly some of the most valuable qualities of a
historian, great diligence in examining authorities, great
judgment in weighing testimony, and great impartiality in
estimating characters. We are not aware that he has in any
instance forgotten the duties belonging to his literary functions
in the feelings of a kinsman. He does no more than justice to his
ancestor Stanhope; he does full justice to Stanhope's enemies and
rivals. His narrative is very perspicuous, and is also entitled
to the praise, seldom, we grieve to say, deserved by modern
writers, of being very concise. It must be admitted, however,
that, with many of the best qualities of a literary veteran, he
has some of the faults of a literary novice. He has not yet
acquired a great command of words. His style is seldom easy, and
is now and then unpleasantly stiff. He is so bigoted a purist
that he transforms the Abbe d'Estrees into an Abbot. We do not
like to see French words introduced into English composition;
but, after all, the first law of writing, that law to which all
other laws are subordinate, is this, that the words employed
shall be such as convey to the reader the meaning of the writer.
Now an Abbot is the head of a religious house; an Abbe is quite a
different sort of person. It is better undoubtedly to use an
English word than a French word; but it is better to use a French
word than to misuse an English word.

Lord Mahon is also a little too fond of uttering moral
reflections in a style too sententious and oracular. We shall
give one instance: "Strange as it seems, experience shows that we
usually feel far more animosity against those whom we have
injured than against those who injure us: and this remark holds
good with every degree of intellect, with every class of fortune,
with a prince or a peasant, a stripling or an elder, a hero or a
prince." This remark might have seemed strange at the Court of
Nimrod or Chedorlaomer; but it has now been for many generations
considered as a truism rather than a paradox. Every boy has
written on the thesis "Odisse quem loeseris." Scarcely any lines
in English poetry are better known than that vigorous couplet,

"Forgiveness to the injured does belong;
But they ne'er pardon who have done the wrong."

The historians and philosophers have quite done with this maxim,
and have abandoned it, like other maxims which have lost their
gloss, to bad novelists, by whom it will very soon be worn to

It is no more than justice to say that the faults of Lord Mahon's
book are precisely the faults which time seldom fails to cure,
and that the book, in spite of those faults, is a valuable
addition to our historical literature.

Whoever wishes to be well acquainted with the morbid anatomy of
governments, whoever wishes to know how great states may be made
feeble and wretched, should study the history of Spain. The
empire of Philip the Second was undoubtedly one of the most
powerful and splendid that ever existed in the world. In Europe,
he ruled Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands on both sides of the
Rhine, Franche Comte, Roussillon, the Milanese, and the Two
Sicilies. Tuscany, Parma, and the other small states of Italy,
were as completely dependent on him as the Nizam and the Rajah of
Berar now are on the East India Company. In Asia, the King of
Spain was master of the Philippines and of all those rich
settlements which the Portuguese had made on the coast of Malabar
and Coromandel, in the Peninsula of Malacca, and in the Spice-
islands of the Eastern Archipelago. In America his dominions
extended on each side of the equator into the temperate zone.
There is reason to believe that his annual revenue amounted, in
the season of his greatest power, to a sum near ten times as
large as that which England yielded to Elizabeth. He had a
standing army of fifty thousand excellent troops, at a time when
England had not a single battalion in constant pay. His ordinary
naval force consisted of a hundred and forty galleys. He held,
what no other prince in modern times has held, the dominion both
of the land and of the sea. During the greater part of his reign,
he was supreme on both elements. His soldiers marched up to the
capital of France; his ships menaced the shores of England.

It is no exaggeration to say that, during several years, his
power over Europe was greater than even that of Napoleon. The
influence of the French conqueror never extended beyond low-water
mark. The narrowest strait was to his power what it was of old
believed that a running stream was to the sorceries of a witch.
While his army entered every metropolis from Moscow to Lisbon,
the English fleets blockaded every port from Dantzic to Trieste.
Sicily, Sardinia, Majorca, Guernsey, enjoyed security through the
whole course of a war which endangered every throne on the
Continent. The victorious and imperial nation which had filled
its museums with the spoils of Antwerp, of Florence, and of Rome,
was suffering painfully from the want of luxuries which use had
made necessaries. While pillars and arches were rising to
commemorate the French conquests, the conquerors were trying to
manufacture coffee out of succory and sugar out of beet-root. The
influence of Philip on the Continent was as great as that of
Napoleon. The Emperor of Germany was his kinsman. France, torn by
religious dissensions, was never a formidable opponent, and was
sometimes a dependent ally. At the same time, Spain had what
Napoleon desired in vain, ships, colonies, and commerce. She long
monopolised the trade of America and of the Indian Ocean. All the
gold of the West, and all the spices of the East, were received
and distributed by her. During many years of war, her commerce
was interrupted only by the predatory enterprises of a few roving
privateers. Even after the defeat of the Armada, English
statesmen continued to look with great dread on the maritime
power of Philip. "The King of Spain," said the Lord Keeper to the
two Houses in 1593, "since he hath usurped upon the Kingdom of
Portugal, hath thereby grown mighty, by gaining the East Indies:
so as, how great soever he was before, he is now thereby
manifestly more great: . . . He keepeth a navy armed to impeach
all trade of merchandise from England to Gascoigne and Guienne
which he attempted to do this last vintage; so as he is now
become as a frontier enemy to all the west of England, as well as
all the south parts, as Sussex, Hampshire, and the Isle of Wight.
Yea, by means of his interest in St. Maloes, a port full of
shipping for the war, he is a dangerous neighbour to the Queen's
isles of Jersey and Guernsey, ancient possessions of this Crown,
and never conquered in the greatest wars with France."

The ascendency which Spain then had in Europe was, in one sense,
well deserved. It was an ascendency which had been gained by
unquestioned superiority in all the arts of policy and of war. In
the sixteenth century, Italy was not more decidedly the land of
the fine arts, Germany was not more decidedly the land of bold
theological speculation, than Spain was the land of statesmen and
of soldiers. The character which Virgil has ascribed to his
countrymen might have been claimed by the grave and haughty
chiefs, who surrounded the throne of Ferdinand the Catholic, and
of his immediate successors. That majestic art, "regere imperio
populos," was not better understood by the Romans in the proudest
days of their republic, than by Gonsalvo and Ximenes, Cortes and
Alva. The skill of the Spanish diplomatists was renowned
throughout Europe. In England the name of Gondomar is still
remembered.  The sovereign nation was unrivalled both in regular
and irregular warfare. The impetuous chivalry of France, the
serried phalanx of Switzerland, were alike found wanting when
brought face to face with the Spanish infantry. In the wars of
the New World, where something different from ordinary strategy
was required in the general and something different from ordinary
discipline in the soldier, where it was every day necessary to
meet by some new expedient the varying tactics of a barbarous
enemy, the Spanish adventurers, sprung from the common people,
displayed a fertility of resource, and a talent for negotiation
and command, to which history scarcely affords a parallel.

The Castilian of those times was to the Italian what the Roman,
in the days of the greatness of Rome, was to the Greek. The
conqueror had less ingenuity, less taste, less delicacy of
perception than the conquered; but far more pride, firmness, and
courage, a more solemn demeanour, a stronger sense of honour. The
subject had more subtlety in speculation, the ruler more energy
in action. The vices of the former were those of a coward; the
vices of the latter were those of a tyrant. It may be added, that
the Spaniard, like the Roman, did not disdain to study the arts
and the language of those whom he oppressed. A revolution took
place in the literature of Spain, not unlike that revolution
which, as Horace tells us, took place in the poetry of Latium:
"Capta ferum victorem cepit." The slave took prisoner the
enslaver. The old Castilian ballads gave place to sonnets in the
style of Petrarch, and to heroic poems in the stanza of Ariosto,
as the national songs of Rome were driven out by imitations of
Theocritus, and translations from Menander.

In no modern society, not even in England during the reign of
Elizabeth, has there been so great a number of men eminent at
once in literature and in the pursuits of active life, as Spain
produced during the sixteenth century. Almost every distinguished
writer was also distinguished as a soldier or a politician.
Boscan bore arms with high reputation. Garcilaso de Vega, the
author of the sweetest and most graceful pastoral poem of modern
times, after a short but splendid military career, fell sword in
hand at the head of a storming party. Alonzo de Ercilla bore a
conspicuous part in that war of Arauco, which he afterwards
celebrated in one of the best heroic poems that Spain has
produced. Hurtado de Mendoza, whose poems have been compared to
those of Horace, and whose charming little novel is evidently the
model of Gil-Blas, has been handed down to us by history as one
of the sternest of those iron proconsuls who were employed by the
House of Austria to crush the lingering public spirit of Italy.
Lope sailed in the Armada; Cervantes was wounded at Lepanto.

It is curious to consider with how much awe our ancestors in
those times regarded a Spaniard. He was, in their apprehension, a
kind of daemon, horribly malevolent, but withal most sagacious
and powerful. "They be verye wyse and politicke," says an honest
Englishman, in a memorial addressed to Mary, "and can, thorowe
ther wysdome, reform and brydell theyr owne natures for a tyme,
and applye their conditions to the maners of those men with whom
they meddell gladlye by friendshippe; whose mischievous maners a
man shall never knowe untyll he come under ther subjection: but
then shall he parfectlye parceyve and fele them: which thynge I
praye God England never do: for in dissimulations untyll they
have ther purposes, and afterwards in oppression and tyrarnnye,
when they can obtayne them, they do exceed all other nations upon
the earthe." This is just such language as Arminius would have
used about the Romans, or as an Indian statesman of our times
might use about the English. It is the language of a man burning
with hatred, but cowed by those whom he hates; and painfully
sensible of their superiority, not only in power, but in

But how art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the
morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, that didst weaken
the nations! If we overleap a hundred years, and look at Spain
towards the close of the seventeenth century, what a change do we
find! The contrast is as great as that which the Rome of
Gallienus and Honorius presents to the Rome of Marius and Caesar.
Foreign conquest had begun to eat into every part of that
gigantic monarchy on which the sun never set. Holland was gone,
and Portugal, and Artois, and Roussillon, and Franche Comte. In
the East, the empire founded by the Dutch far surpassed in wealth
and splendour that which their old tyrants still retained. In the
West, England had seized, and still held, settlements in the
midst of the Mexican sea.

The mere loss of territory was, however, of little moment. The
reluctant obedience of distant provinces generally costs more
than it is worth. Empires which branch out widely are often more
flourishing for a little timely pruning. Adrian acted judiciously
when he abandoned the conquests of Trajan; and England was never
so rich, so great, so formidable to foreign princes, so
absolutely mistress of the sea, as since the loss of her American
colonies. The Spanish Empire was still, in outward appearance,
great and magnificent. The European dominions subject to the last
feeble Prince of the House of Austria were far more extensive
than those of Lewis the Fourteenth. The American dependencies of
the Castilian Crown still extended far to the North of Cancer and
far to the South of Capricorn. But within this immense body there
was an incurable decay, an utter want of tone, an utter
prostration of strength. An ingenious and diligent population,
eminently skilled in arts and manufactures, had been driven into
exile by stupid and remorseless bigots. The glory of the Spanish
pencil had departed with Velasquez and Murillo. The splendid age
of Spanish literature had closed with Solis and Calderon. During
the seventeenth century many states had formed great military
establishments. But the Spanish army, so formidable under the
command of Alva and Farnese, had dwindled away to a few thousand
men, ill paid and ill disciplined. England, Holland, and France
had great navies. But the Spanish navy was scarcely equal to the
tenth part of that mighty force which, in the time of Philip the
Second, had been the terror of the Atlantic and the
Mediterranean. The arsenals were deserted. The magazines were
unprovided. The frontier fortresses were ungarrisoned. The police
was utterly inefficient for the protection of the people. Murders
were committed in the face of day with perfect impunity. Bravoes
and discarded serving-men, with swords at their sides,. swaggered
every day through the most public streets and squares of the
capital, disturbing the public peace, and setting at defiance the
ministers of justice. The finances were in frightful disorder.
The people paid much. The Government received little. The
American viceroys and the farmers of the revenue became rich,
while the merchants broke, while the peasantry starved, while the
body-servants of the sovereign remained unpaid, while the
soldiers of the royal guard repaired daily to the doors of
convents, and battled there with the crowd of beggars for a
porringer of broth and a morsel of bread. Every remedy which was
tried aggravated the disease. The currency was altered; and this
frantic measure produced its never-failing effects. It destroyed
all credit, and increased the misery which it was intended to
relieve. The American gold, to use the words of Ortiz, was to the
necessities of the State but as a drop of water to the lips of a
man raging with thirst. Heaps of unopened despatches accumulated
in the offices, while the ministers were concerting with
bedchamber-women and Jesuits the means of tripping up each other.
Every foreign power could plunder and insult with impunity the
heir of Charles the Fifth. Into such a state had the mighty
kingdom of Spain fallen, while one of its smallest dependencies,
a country not so large as the province of Estremadura or
Andalusia, situated under an inclement sky, and preserved only by
artificial means from the inroads of the ocean, had become a
power of the first class, and treated on terms of equality with
the Courts of London and Versailles.

The manner in which Lord Mahon explains the financial situation
of Spain by no means satisfies us. "It will be found," says he,
"that those individuals deriving their chief income from mines,
whose yearly produce is uncertain and varying, and seems rather
to spring from fortune than to follow industry, are usually
careless, unthrifty, and irregular in their expenditure. The
example of Spain might tempt us to apply the same remark to
states." Lord Mahon would find it difficult, we suspect, to make
out his analogy. Nothing could be more uncertain and varying than
the gains and losses of those who were in the habit of putting
into the State lotteries. But no part of the public income was
more certain than that which was derived from the lotteries. We
believe that this case is very similar to that of the American
mines. Some veins of ore exceeded expectation; some fell below
it. Some of the private speculators drew blanks, and others
gained prizes. But the revenue of the State depended, not on any
particular vein, but on the whole annual produce of two great
continents. This annual produce seems to have been almost
constantly on the increase during the seventeenth century. The
Mexican mines were, through the reigns of Philip the Fourth and
Charles the Second, in a steady course of improvement; and in
South America, though the district of Potosi was not so
productive as formerly, other places more than made up for the
deficiency. We very much doubt whether Lord Mahon can prove that
the income which the Spanish Government derived from the mines of
America fluctuated more than the income derived from the internal
taxes of Spain itself.

All the causes of the decay of Spain resolve themselves into one
cause, bad government. The valour, the intelligence, the energy
which, at the close of the fifteenth and the beginning of the
sixteenth century, had made the Spaniards the first nation in the
world, were the fruits of the old institutions of Castile and
Arragon, institutions eminently favourable to public liberty.
These institutions the first Princes of the House of Austria
attacked and almost wholly destroyed. Their successors expiated
the crime. The effects of a change from good government to bad
government are not fully felt for some time after the change has
taken place. The talents and the virtues which a good
constitution generates may for a time survive that constitution.
Thus the reigns of princes, who have established absolute
monarchy on the ruins of popular forms of government often shine
in history with a peculiar brilliancy. But when a generation or
two has passed away, then comes signally to pass that which was
written by Montesquieu, that despotic governments resemble those
savages who cut down the tree in order to get at the fruit.
During the first years of tyranny, is reaped the harvest sown
during the last years of liberty. Thus the Augustan age was rich
in great minds formed in the generation of Cicero and Caesar. The
fruits of the policy of Augustus were reserved for posterity.
Philip the Second was the heir of the Cortes and of the Justiza
Mayor; and they left him a nation which seemed able to conquer
all the world. What Philip left to his successors is well known.

The shock which the great religious schism of the sixteenth
century gave to Europe, was scarcely felt in Spain. In England,
Germany, Holland, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, that
shock had produced, with some temporary evil, much durable good.
The principles of the Reformation had triumphed in some of those
countries. The Catholic Church had maintained its ascendency in
others. But though the event had not been the same in all, all
had been agitated by the conflict. Even in France, in Southern
Germany, and in the Catholic cantons of Switzerland, the public
mind had been stirred to its inmost depths. The hold of ancient
prejudice had been somewhat loosened. The Church of Rome, warned
by the danger which she had narrowly escaped, had, in those parts
of her dominion, assumed a milder and more liberal character. She
sometimes condescended to submit her high pretensions to the
scrutiny of reason, and availed herself more sparingly than in
former times of the aid of the secular arm. Even when persecution
was employed, it was not persecution in the worst and most
frightful shape. The severities of Lewis the Fourteenth, odious
as they were, cannot be compared with those which, at the first
dawn of the Reformation, had been inflicted on the heretics in
many parts of Europe.

The only effect which the Reformation had produced in Spain had
been to make the Inquisition more vigilant and the commonalty
more bigoted. The times of refreshing came to all neighbouring
countries. One people alone remained, like the fleece of the
Hebrew warrior, dry in the midst of that benignant and
fertilising dew. While other nations were putting away childish
things, the Spaniard still thought as a child and understood as a
child. Among the men of the seventeenth century, he was the man
of the fifteenth century or of a still darker period, delighted
to behold an Auto da fe, and ready to volunteer on a Crusade.

The evils produced by a bad government and a bad religion, seemed
to have attained their greatest height during the last years of
the seventeenth century. While the kingdom was in this deplorable
state, the King, Charles, second of the name, was hastening to an
early grave. His days had been few and evil. He had been
unfortunate in all his wars, in every part of his internal
administration, and in all his domestic relations. His first
wife, whom he tenderly loved, died very young. His second wife
exercised great influence over him, but seems to have been
regarded by him rather with fear than with love. He was
childless; and his constitution was so completely shattered that,
at little more than thirty years of age, he had given up all
hopes of posterity. His mind was even more distempered than his
body. He was sometimes sunk in listless melancholy, and
sometimes harassed by the wildest and most extravagant fancies.
He was not, however, wholly destitute of the feelings which
became his station. His sufferings were aggravated by the thought
that his own dissolution might not improbably be followed by the
dissolution of his empire.

Several princes laid claim to the succession. The King's eldest
sister had married Lewis the Fourteenth. The Dauphin would,
therefore, in the common course of inheritance, have succeeded to
the crown. But the Infanta had, at the time of her espousals,
solemnly renounced, in her own name, and in that of her
posterity, all claim to the succession. This renunciation had
been confirmed in due form by the Cortes. A younger sister of the
King had been the first wife of Leopold, Emperor of Germany. She
too had at her marriage renounced her claims to the Spanish
crown; but the Cortes had not sanctioned the renunciation, and it
was therefore considered as invalid by the Spanish jurists. The
fruit of this marriage was a daughter, who had espoused the
Elector of Bavaria. The Electoral Prince of Bavaria inherited her
claim to the throne of Spain. The Emperor Leopold was son of a
daughter of Philip the Third, and was therefore first cousin to
Charles. No renunciation whatever had been exacted from his
mother at the time of her marriage.

The question was certainly very complicated. That claim which,
according to the ordinary rules of inheritance, was the
strongest, had been barred by a contract executed in the most
binding form. The claim of the Electoral Prince of Bavaria was
weaker. But so also was the contract which bound him not to
prosecute his claim. The only party against whom no instrument of
renunciation could be produced was the party who, in respect of
blood, had the weakest claim of all.

As it was clear that great alarm would be excited throughout
Europe if either the Emperor or the Dauphin should become King of
Spain, each of those Princes offered to waive his pretensions in
favour of his second son, the Emperor, in favour of the Archduke
Charles, the Dauphin, in favour of Philip Duke of Anjou.

Soon after the peace of Ryswick, William the Third and Lewis the
Fourteenth determined to settle the question of the succession
without consulting either Charles or the Emperor. France,
England, and Holland, became parties to a treaty by which it was
stipulated that the Electoral Prince of Bavaria should succeed to
Spain, the Indies, and the Netherlands. The Imperial family were
to be bought off with the Milanese; and the Dauphin was to have
the Two Sicilies.

The great object of the King of Spain and of all his counsellors
was to avert the dismemberment of the monarchy. In the hope of
attaining this end, Charles determined to name a successor. A
will was accordingly framed by which the crown was bequeathed to
the Bavarian Prince. Unhappily, this will had scarcely been
signed when the Prince died. The question was again unsettled,
and presented greater difficulties than before.

A new Treaty of Partition was concluded between France, England,
and Holland. It was agreed that Spain, the Indies, and the
Netherlands, should descend to the Archduke Charles. In return
for this great concession made by the Bourbons to a rival house,
it was agreed that France should have the Milanese, or an
equivalent in a more commodious situation, The equivalent in view
was the province of Lorraine.

Arbuthnot, some years later, ridiculed the Partition Treaty with
exquisite humour and ingenuity. Everybody must remember his
description of the paroxysm of rage into which poor old Lord
Strutt fell, on hearing that his runaway servant Nick Frog, his
clothier John Bull, and his old enemy Lewis Baboon, had come with
quadrants, poles, and inkhorns, to survey his estate, and to draw
his will for him. Lord Mahon speaks of the arrangement with grave
severity. He calls it "an iniquitous compact, concluded without
the slightest reference to the welfare of the states so readily
parcelled and allotted; insulting to the pride of Spain, and
tending to strip that country of its hard-won conquests." The
most serious part of this charge would apply to half the treaties
which have been concluded in Europe quite as strongly as to the
Partition Treaty. What regard was shown in the Treaty of the
Pyrenees to the welfare of the people of Dunkirk and Roussillon,
in the Treaty of Nimeguen to the welfare of the people of Franche
Comte, in the Treaty of Utrecht to the welfare of the people of
Flanders, in the treaty of 1735 to the welfare of the people of
Tuscany? All Europe remembers, and our latest posterity will, we
fear, have reason to remember how coolly, at the last great
pacification of Christendom, the people of Poland, of Norway, of
Belgium, and of Lombardy, were allotted to masters whom they
abhorred. The statesmen who negotiated the Partition Treaty were
not so far beyond their age and ours in wisdom and virtue as to
trouble themselves much about the happiness of the people whom
they were apportioning among foreign rulers. But it will be
difficult to prove that the stipulations which Lord Mahon
condemns were in any respect unfavourable to the happiness of
those who were to be transferred to new sovereigns. The
Neapolitans would certainly have lost nothing by being given to
the Dauphin, or to the Great Turk. Addison, who visited Naples
about the time at which the Partition Treaty was signed, has left
us a frightful description of the misgovernment under which that
part of the Spanish Empire groaned. As to the people of Lorraine,
an union with France would have been the happiest event which
could have befallen them. Lewis was already their sovereign for
all purposes of cruelty and exaction. He had kept their country
during many years in his own hands. At the peace of Ryswick,
indeed, their Duke had been allowed to return. But the conditions
which had been imposed on him made him a mere vassal of France.

We cannot admit that the Treaty of Partition was objectionable
because it "tended to strip Spain of hard-won conquests." The
inheritance was so vast, and the claimants so mighty, that
without some dismemberment it was scarcely possible to make a
peaceable arrangement. If any dismemberment was to take place,
the best way of effecting it surely was to separate from the
monarchy those provinces which were at a great distance from
Spain, which were not Spanish in manners, in language, or in
feelings, which were both worse governed and less valuable than
the old kingdoms of Castile and Arragon, and which, having always
been governed by foreigners, would not be likely to feel acutely
the humiliation of being turned over from one master to another.

That England and Holland had a right to interfere is plain. The
question of the Spanish succession was not an internal question,
but an European question. And this Lord Mahon admits. He thinks
that when the evil had been done, and a French prince was
reigning at the Escurial, England and Holland were justified in
attempting, not merely to strip Spain of its remote dependencies,
but to conquer Spain itself; that they were justified in
attempting to put, not merely the passive Flemings and Italians,
but the reluctant Castilians and Asturians, under the dominion of
a stranger. The danger against which the Partition Treaty was
intended to guard was precisely the same danger which afterwards
was made the ground of war. It will be difficult to prove that a
danger which was sufficient to justify the war was insufficient
to justify the provisions of the treaty. If, as Lord Mahon
contends, it was better that Spain should be subjugated by main
force than that she should be governed by a Bourbon, it was
surely better that she should be deprived of Sicily and the
Milanese than that she should be governed by a Bourbon.

Whether the treaty was judiciously framed is quite another
question. We disapprove of the stipulations. But we disapprove of
them, not because we think them bad, but because we think that
there was no chance of their being executed. Lewis was the most
faithless of politicians. He hated the Dutch. He hated the
Government which the Revolution had established in England. He
had every disposition to quarrel with his new allies. It was
quite certain that he would not observe his engagements, if it
should be for his interest to violate them. Even if it should be
for his interest to observe them, it might well be doubted
whether the strongest and clearest interest would induce a man so
haughty and self-willed to co-operate heartily with two
governments which had always been the objects of his scorn and

When intelligence of the second Partition Treaty arrived at
Madrid, it roused to momentary energy the languishing ruler of a
languishing state. The Spanish ambassador at the Court of London
was directed to remonstrate with the Government of William; and
his remonstrances were so insolent that he was commanded to leave
England. Charles retaliated by dismissing the English and Dutch
ambassadors. The French King, though the chief author of the
Partition Treaty, succeeded in turning the whole wrath of Charles
and of the Spanish people from himself, and in directing it
against the two maritime powers. Those powers had now no agent at
Madrid. Their perfidious ally was at liberty to carry on his
intrigues unchecked; and he fully availed himself of this

A long contest was maintained with varying success by the
factions which surrounded the miserable King. On the side of the
Imperial family was the Queen, herself a Princess of that family.
With her were allied the confessor of the King, and most of the
ministers. On the other side were two of the most dexterous
politicians of that age, Cardinal Porto Carrero, Archbishop of
Toledo, and Harcourt, the ambassador of Lewis.

Harcourt was a noble specimen of the French aristocracy in the
days of its highest splendour, a finished gentleman, a brave
soldier, and a skilful diplomatist. His courteous and insinuating
manners, his Parisian vivacity tempered with Castilian gravity,
made him the favourite of the whole Court. He became intimate
with the grandees. He caressed the clergy. He dazzled the
multitude by his magnificent style of living. The prejudices
which the people of Madrid had conceived against the French
character, the vindictive feelings generated during centuries of
national rivalry, gradually yielded to his arts; while the
Austrian ambassador, a surly, pompous, niggardly German, made
himself and his country more and more unpopular every day.

Harcourt won over the Court and the city: Porto Carrero managed
the King. Never were knave and dupe better suited to each other.
Charles was sick, nervous, and extravagantly superstitious. Porto
Carrero had learned in the exercise of his profession the art of
exciting and soothing such minds; and he employed that art with
the calm and demure cruelty which is the characteristic of wicked
and ambitious priests.

He first supplanted the confessor. The state of the poor King,
during the conflict between his two spiritual advisers, was
horrible. At one time he was induced to believe that his malady
was the same with that of the wretches described in the New
Testament, who dwelt among the tombs, whom no chains could bind,
and whom no man dared to approach. At another time a sorceress
who lived in the mountains of the Asturias was consulted about
his malady. Several persons were accused of having bewitched him.
Porto Carrero recommended the appalling rite of exorcism, which
was actually performed. The ceremony made the poor King more
nervous and miserable than ever. But it served the turn of the
Cardinal, who, after much secret trickery, succeeded in casting
out, not the devil, but the confessor.

The next object was to get rid of the ministers. Madrid was
supplied with provisions by a monopoly. The Government looked
after this most delicate concern as it looked after everything
else. The partisans of the House of Bourbon took advantage of the
negligence of the administration. On a sudden the supply of food
failed. Exorbitant prices were demanded. The people rose. The
royal residence was surrounded by an immense multitude. The Queen
harangued them. The priests exhibited the host. All was in vain.
It was necessary to awaken the King from his uneasy sleep, and to
carry him to the balcony. There a solemn promise was given that
the unpopular advisers of the Crown should be forthwith
dismissed. The mob left the palace and proceeded to pull down the
houses of the ministers. The adherents of the Austrian line were
thus driven from power, and the government was intrusted to the
creatures of Porto Carrero. The King left the city in which he
had suffered so cruel an insult for the magnificent retreat of
the Escurial. Here his hypochondriac fancy took a new turn. Like
his ancestor Charles the Fifth, he was haunted by the strange
curiosity to pry into the secrets of that grave to which he was
hastening. In the cemetery which Philip the Second had formed
beneath the pavement of the church of St. Lawrence, reposed three
generations of Castilian princes. Into these dark vaults the
unhappy monarch descended by torchlight, and penetrated to that
superb and gloomy chamber where, round the great black crucifix,
were ranged the coffins of the kings and queens of Spain. There
he commanded his attendants to open the massy chests of bronze in
which the relics of his predecessors decayed. He looked on the
ghastly spectacle with little emotion till the coffin of his
first wife was unclosed, and she appeared before him--such was
the skill of the embalmer--in all her well-remembered beauty. He
cast one glance on those beloved features, unseen for eighteen
years, those features over which corruption seemed to have no
power, and rushed from the vault, exclaiming, "She is with God;
and I shall soon be with her." The awful sight completed the ruin
of his body and mind. The Escurial became hateful to him; and he
hastened to Aranjuez. But the shades and waters of that delicious
island-garden, so fondly celebrated in the sparkling verse of
Calderon, brought no solace to their unfortunate master. Having
tried medicine, exercise, and amusement in, vain, he returned to
Madrid to die.

He was now beset on every side by the bold and skilful agents of
the House of Bourbon. The leading politicians of his Court
assured him that Lewis, and Lewis alone, was sufficiently
powerful to preserve the Spanish monarchy undivided, and that
Austria would be utterly unable to prevent the Treaty of
Partition from being carried into effect. Some celebrated lawyers
gave it as their opinion that the act of renunciation executed
by the late Queen of France ought to be construed according to
the spirit, and not according to the letter. The letter
undoubtedly excluded the French princes. The spirit was merely
this, that ample security should be taken against the union of
the French and Spanish Crowns on one head.

In all probability, neither political nor legal reasonings would
have sufficed to overcome the partiality which Charles felt for
the House of Austria. There had always been a close connection
between the two great royal lines which sprang from the marriage
of Philip and Juana. Both had always regarded the French as their
natural enemies. It was necessary to have recourse to religious
terrors; and Porto Carrero employed those terrors with true
professional skill. The King's life was drawing to a close. Would
the most Catholic prince commit a great sin on the brink of the
grave? And what could be a greater sin than, from an unreasonable
attachment to a family name, from an unchristian antipathy to a
rival house, to set aside the rightful heir of an immense
monarchy? The tender conscience and the feeble intellect of
Charles were strongly wrought upon by these appeals. At length
Porto Carrero ventured on a master-stroke. He advised Charles to
apply for counsel to the Pope. The King, who, in the simplicity
of his heart, considered the successor of St. Peter as an
infallible guide in spiritual matters, adopted the suggestion;
and Porto Carrero, who knew that his Holiness was a mere tool of
France, awaited with perfect confidence the result of the
application. In the answer which arrived from Rome, the King was
solemnly reminded of the great account which he was soon to
render, and cautioned against the flagrant injustice which he was
tempted to commit. He was assured that the right was with the
House of Bourbon, and reminded that his own salvation ought to be
dearer to him than the House of Austria. Yet he still continued
irresolute. His attachment to his family, his aversion to France,
were not to be overcome even by Papal authority. At length he
thought himself actually dying. Then the cardinal redoubled his
efforts. Divine after divine, well tutored for the occasion, was
brought to the bed of the trembling penitent. He was dying in the
commission of known sin. He was defrauding his relatives. He was
bequeathing civil war to his people. He yielded, and signed that
memorable testament, the cause of many calamities to Europe. As
he affixed his name to the instrument, he burst into tears.
"God," he said, "gives kingdoms and takes them away. I am already
one of the dead."

The will was kept secret during the short remainder of his life.
On the third of November 1700 he expired. All Madrid crowded to
the palace. The gates were thronged. The antechamber was filled
with ambassadors and grandees, eager to learn what dispositions
the deceased sovereign had made. At length the folding doors were
flung open. The Duke of Abrantes came forth, and announced that
the whole Spanish monarchy was bequeathed to Philip, Duke of
Anjou. Charles had directed that, during the interval which might
elapse between his death and the arrival of his successor, the
government should be administered by a council, of which Porto
Carrero was the chief member.

Lewis acted, as the English ministers might have guessed that he
would act. With scarcely the show of hesitation, he broke through
all the obligations of the Partition Treaty, and accepted for his
grandson the splendid legacy of Charles. The new sovereign
hastened to take possession of his dominions. The whole Court of
France accompanied him to Sceaux. His brothers escorted him to
that frontier which, as they weakly imagined, was to be a
frontier no longer. "The Pyrenees," said Lewis, "have ceased to
exist." Those very Pyrenees, a few years later, were the theatre
of a war between the heir of Lewis and the prince whom France was
now sending to govern Spain.

If Charles had ransacked Europe to find a successor whose moral
and intellectual character resembled his own, he could not have
chosen better. Philip was not so sickly as his predecessor, but
he was quite as weak, as indolent, and as superstitious; he very
soon became quite as hypochondriacal and eccentric; and he was
even more uxorious. He was indeed a husband of ten thousand. His
first object, when he became King of Spain, was to procure a
wife. From the day of his marriage to the day of her death, his
first object was to have her near him, and to do what she wished.
As soon as his wife died, his first object was to procure
another. Another was found, as unlike the former as possible. But
she was a wife; and Philip was content. Neither by day nor by
night, neither in sickness nor in health, neither in time of
business nor in time of relaxation, did he ever suffer her to be
absent from him for half an hour. His mind was naturally feeble;
and he had received an enfeebling education. He had been brought
up amidst the dull magnificence of Versailles. His grandfather
was as imperious and as ostentatious in his intercourse with the
royal family as in public acts. All those who grew up immediately
under the eye of Lewis had the manners of persons who had never
known what it was to be at ease. They were all taciturn, shy, and
awkward. In all of them, except the Duke of Burgundy, the evil
went further than the manners. The Dauphin, the Duke Of Berri,
Philip of Anjou, were men of insignificant characters.

They had no energy, no force of will. They had been so little
accustomed to judge or to act for themselves that implicit
dependence had become necessary to their comfort. The new King of
Spain, emancipated from control, resembled that wretched German
captive who, when the irons which he had worn for years were
knocked off, fell prostrate on the floor of his prison. The
restraints which had enfeebled the mind of the young Prince were
required to support it. Till he had a wife he could do nothing;
and when he had a wife he did whatever she chose.

While this lounging, moping boy was on his way to Madrid, his
grandfather was all activity. Lewis had no reason to fear a
contest with the Empire single-handed. He made vigorous
preparations to encounter Leopold. He overawed the States-General
by means of a great army. He attempted to soothe the English
Government by fair professions. William was not deceived. He
fully returned the hatred of Lewis; and, if he had been free to
act according to his own inclinations, he would have declared war
as soon as the contents of the will were known. But he was bound
by constitutional restraints. Both his person and his measures
were unpopular in England. His secluded life and his cold manners
disgusted a people accustomed to the graceful affability of
Charles the Second. His foreign accent and his foreign
attachments were offensive to the national prejudices. His reign
had been a season of distress, following a season of rapidly
increasing prosperity. The burdens of the late war and the
expense of restoring the currency had been severely felt. Nine
clergymen out of ten were Jacobites at heart, and had sworn
allegiance to the new dynasty, only in order to save their
benefices. A large proportion of the country gentlemen belonged
to the same party. The whole body of agricultural proprietors was
hostile to that interest which the creation of the national debt
had brought into notice, and which was believed to be peculiarly
favoured by the Court, the monied interest. The middle classes
were fully determined to keep out James and his family. But they
regarded William only as the less of two evils; and, as long as
there was no imminent danger of a counter-revolution, were
disposed to thwart and mortify the sovereign by whom they were,
nevertheless, ready to stand, in case of necessity, with their
lives and fortunes. They were sullen and dissatisfied. "There
was," as Somers expressed it in a remarkable letter to William,
"a deadness and want of spirit in the nation universally."

Everything in England was going on as Lewis could have wished.
The leaders of the Whig party had retired from power, and were
extremely unpopular on account of the unfortunate issue of the
Partition Treaty. The Tories, some of whom still cast a lingering
look towards St. Germains, were in office, and had a decided
majority in the House of Commons. William was so much embarrassed
by the state of parties in England that he could not venture to
make war on the House of Bourbon. He was suffering under a
complication of severe and incurable diseases. There was every
reason to believe that a few months would dissolve the fragile
tie which bound up that feeble body with that ardent and
unconquerable soul. If Lewis could succeed in preserving peace
for a short time, it was probable that all his vast designs would
be securely accomplished. Just at this crisis, the most important
crisis of his life, his pride and his passions hurried him into
an error, which undid all that forty years of victory and
intrigue had done, which produced the dismemberment of the
kingdom of his grandson, and brought invasion, bankruptcy, and
famine on his own.

James the Second died at St. Germains. Lewis paid him a farewell
visit, and was so much moved by the solemn parting, and by the
grief of the exiled queen, that, losing sight of all
considerations of policy, and actuated, as it should seem, merely
by compassion and by a not ungenerous vanity, he acknowledged the
Prince of Wales as King of England.

The indignation which the Castilians had felt when they heard
that three foreign powers had undertaken to regulate the Spanish
succession was nothing to the rage with which the English learned
that their good neighbour had taken the trouble to provide them
with a king. Whigs and Tories joined in condemning the
proceedings of the French Court. The cry for war was raised by
the city of London, and echoed and re-echoed from every corner of
the realm. William saw that his time was come. Though his wasted
and suffering body could hardly move without support, his spirit
was as energetic and resolute as when, at twenty-three, he bade
defiance to the combined forces of England and France. He left
the Hague, where he had been engaged in negotiating with the
States and the Emperor a defensive treaty against the ambitious
designs of the Bourbons. He flew to London. He remodelled the
Ministry. He dissolved the Parliament. The majority of the new
House of Commons was with the King; and the most vigorous
preparations were made for war.

Before the commencement of active hostilities William was no
more. But the Grand Alliance of the European Princes against the
Bourbons was already constructed. "The master workman died," says
Mr. Burke; "but the work was formed on true mechanical
principles, and it was as truly wrought." On the fifteenth of
May, 1702, war was proclaimed by concert at Vienna, at London,
and at the Hague.

Thus commenced that great struggle by which Europe, from the
Vistula to the Atlantic Ocean, was agitated during twelve years.
The two hostile coalitions were, in respect of territory, wealth,
and population, not unequally matched. On the one side were
France, Spain, and Bavaria; on the other, England, Holland, the
Empire, and a crowd of inferior Powers.

That part of the war which Lord Mahon has undertaken to relate,
though not the least important, is certainly the least
attractive. In Italy, in Germany, and in the Netherlands, great
means were at the disposal of great generals. Mighty battles were
fought. Fortress after fortress was subdued. The iron chain of
the Belgian strongholds was broken. By a regular and connected
series of operations extending through several years, the French
were driven back from the Danube and the Po into their own
provinces. The war in Spain, on the contrary, is made up of
events which seem to have no dependence on each other. The turns
of fortune resemble those which take place in a dream. Victory
and defeat are not followed by their usual consequences. Armies
spring out of nothing, and melt into nothing. Yet, to judicious
readers of history, the Spanish conflict is perhaps more
interesting than the campaigns of Marlborough and Eugene. The
fate of the Milanese and of the Low Countries was decided by
military skill. The fate of Spain was decided by the
peculiarities of the national character.

When the war commenced, the young King was in a most deplorable
situation. On his arrival at Madrid, he found Porto Carrero at
the head of affairs, and he did not think fit to displace the man
to whom he owed his crown. The Cardinal was a mere intriguer, and
in no sense a statesman. He had acquired, in the Court and in the
confessional, a rare degree of skill in all the tricks by which.
weak minds are managed. But of the noble science of government,
of the sources of national prosperity, of the causes of national
decay, he knew no more than his master. It is curious to observe
the contrast between the dexterity with which he ruled the
conscience of a foolish valetudinarian, and the imbecility which
he showed when placed at the head of an empire. On what grounds
Lord Mahon represents the Cardinal as a man "of splendid genius,"
"of vast abilities," we are unable to discover. Lewis was of a
very different opinion, and Lewis was very seldom mistaken in his
judgment of character. "Everybody," says he, in a letter to his
ambassador, "knows how incapable the Cardinal is. He is an object
of contempt to his countrymen."

A few miserable savings were made, which ruined individuals
without producing any perceptible benefit to the State. The
police became more and more inefficient. The disorders of the
capital were increased by the arrival of French adventurers, the
refuse of Parisian brothels and gaming-houses. These wretches
considered the Spaniards as a subjugated race whom the countrymen
of the new sovereign might cheat and insult with impunity. The
King sate eating and drinking all night, lay in bed all day,
yawned at the council table, and suffered the most important
papers to lie unopened for weeks. At length he was roused by the
only excitement of which his sluggish nature was susceptible. His
grandfather consented to let him have a wife. The choice was
fortunate. Maria Louisa, Princess of Savoy, a beautiful and
graceful girl of thirteen, already a woman in person and mind at
an age when the females of colder climates are still children,
was the person selected. The King resolved to give her the
meeting in Catalonia. He left his capital, of which he was
already thoroughly tired. At setting out he was mobbed by a gang
of beggars. He, however, made his way through them, and repaired
to Barcelona.

Lewis was perfectly aware that the Queen would govern Philip. He,
accordingly, looked about for somebody to govern the Queen. He
selected the Princess Orsini to be first lady of the bedchamber,
no insignificant post in the household of a very young wife, and
a very uxorious husband. The Princess was the daughter of a
French peer, and the widow of a Spanish grandee. She was,
therefore, admirably fitted by her position to be the instrument
of the Court of Versailles at the Court of Madrid. The Duke of
Orleans called her, in words too coarse for translation, the
Lieutenant of Captain Maintenon: and the appellation was well
deserved. She aspired to play in Spain the part which Madame de
Maintenon had played in France. But, though at least equal to her
model in wit, information, and talents for intrigue, she had not
that self-command, that patience, that imperturbable evenness of
temper, which had raised the widow of a buffoon to be the consort
of the proudest of kings. The Princess was more than fifty years
old, but was still vain of her fine eyes, and her fine shape;
she still dressed in the style of a girl; and she still carried
her flirtations so far as to give occasion for scandal. She was,
however, polite, eloquent, and not deficient in strength of mind.
The bitter Saint Simon owns that no person whom she wished to
attach could long resist the graces of her manners and of her

We have not time to relate how she obtained, and how she
preserved, her empire over the young couple in whose household
she was placed, how she became so powerful, that neither minister
of Spain nor ambassador from France could stand against her, how
Lewis himself was compelled to court her, how she received orders
from Versailles to retire, how the Queen took part with her
favourite attendant, how the King took part with the Queen, and
how, after much squabbling, lying, shuffling, bullying, and
coaxing, the dispute was adjusted. We turn to the events of the

When hostilities were proclaimed at London, Vienna, and the
Hague, Philip was at Naples. He had been with great difficulty
prevailed upon, by the most urgent representations from
Versailles, to separate himself from his wife, and to repair
without her to his Italian dominions, which were then menaced by
the Emperor. The Queen acted as Regent, and, child as she was,
seems to have been quite as competent to govern the kingdom as
her husband or any of his ministers.

In August 1702, an armament, under the command of the Duke of
Ormond, appeared off Cadiz. The Spanish authorities had no funds
and no regular troops. The national spirit, however, supplied, in
some degree, what was wanting. The nobles and farmers advanced
money. The peasantry were formed into what the Spanish writers
call bands of heroic patriots, and what General Stanhope calls "a
rascally foot militia." If the invaders had acted with vigour and
judgment, Cadiz would probably have fallen. But the chiefs of the
expedition were divided by national and professional feelings,
Dutch against English, and land against sea. Sparre, the Dutch
general, was sulky and perverse. Bellasys, the English general,
embezzled the stores. Lord Mahon imputes the ill-temper of Sparre
to the influence of the republican institutions of Holland. By
parity of reason, we suppose that he would impute the peculations
of Bellasys to the influence of the monarchical and
aristocratical institutions of England. The Duke of Ormond, who
had the command of the whole expedition, proved on this occasion,
as on every other, destitute of the qualities which great
emergencies require. No discipline was kept; the soldiers were
suffered to rob and insult those whom it was most desirable to
conciliate. Churches were robbed, images were pulled down; nuns
were violated. The officers shared the spoil instead of punishing
the spoilers; and at last the armament, loaded, to use the words
of Stanhope, "with a great deal of plunder and infamy," quitted
the scene of Essex's glory, leaving the only Spaniard of note who
had declared for them to be hanged by his countrymen. The fleet
was off the coast of Portugal, on the way back to England, when
the Duke of Ormond received intelligence that the treasure-ships
from America had just arrived in Europe, and had, in order to
avoid his armament, repaired to the harbour of Vigo. The cargo
consisted, it was said, of more than three millions sterling in
gold and silver, besides much valuable merchandise. The prospect
of plunder reconciled all disputes. Dutch and English admirals
and generals, were equally eager for action. The Spaniards might
with the greatest ease have secured the treasure by simply
landing it; but it was a fundamental law of Spanish trade that
the galleons should unload at Cadiz, and at Cadiz only. The
Chamber of Commerce at Cadiz, in the true spirit of monopoly,
refused, even at this conjuncture, to bate one jot of its
privilege. The matter was referred to the Council of the Indies.
That body deliberated and hesitated just a day too long. Some
feeble preparations for defence were made. Two ruined towers at
the mouth of the bay of Vigo were garrisoned by a few ill-armed
and untrained rustics; a boom was thrown across the entrance of
the basin; and a few French ships of war, which had convoyed the
galleons from America, were moored within. But all was to no
purpose. The English ships broke the boom; Ormond and his
soldiers scaled the forts; the French burned their ships, and
escaped to the shore. The conquerors shared some millions of
dollars; some millions more were sunk. When all the galleons had
been captured or destroyed came an order in due form allowing
them to unload.

When Philip returned to Madrid in the beginning of 1703, he found
the finances more embarrassed, the people more discontented and
the hostile coalition more formidable than ever. The loss of the
galleons had occasioned a great deficiency in the revenue. The
Admiral of Castile, one of the greatest subjects in Europe, had
fled to Lisbon and sworn allegiance to the Archduke. The King of
Portugal soon after acknowledged Charles as King of Spain, and
prepared to support the title of the House of Austria by arms.

On the other side, Lewis sent to the assistance of his grandson
an army of 12,000 men, commanded by the Duke of Berwick. Berwick
was the son of James the Second and Arabella Churchill. He had
been brought up to expect the highest honours which an English
subject could enjoy; but the whole course of his life was changed
by the revolution which overthrew his infatuated father. Berwick
became an exile, a man without a country; and from that time
forward his camp was to him in the place of a country, and
professional honour was his patriotism. He ennobled his wretched
calling. There was a stern, cold, Brutus-like virtue in the
manner in which he discharged the duties of a soldier of fortune.
His military fidelity was tried by the strongest temptations, and
was found invincible. At one time he fought against his uncle; at
another time he fought against the cause of his brother; yet he
was never suspected of treachery or even of slackness.

Early in 1704 an army, composed of English, Dutch, and
Portuguese, was assembled on the western frontier of Spain. The
Archduke Charles had arrived at Lisbon, and appeared in person at
the head of his troops. The military skill of Berwick held the
Allies, who were commanded by Lord Galway, in check through the
whole campaign. On the south, however, a great blow was struck.
An English fleet, under Sir George Rooke, having on board several
regiments commanded by the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, appeared
before the rock of Gibraltar. That celebrated stronghold, which
nature has made all but impregnable, and against which all the
resources of the military art have been employed in vain, was
taken as easily as if it had been an open village in a plain. The
garrison went to say their prayers instead of standing on their
guard. A few English sailors climbed the rock. The Spaniards
capitulated; and the British flag was placed on those ramparts
from which the combined armies and navies of France and Spain
have never been able to pull it down. Rooke proceeded to Malaga,
gave battle in the neighbourhood of that port to a French
squadron, and after a doubtful action returned to England.

But greater events were at hand. The English Government had
determined to send an expedition to Spain, under the command of
Charles Mordaunt, Earl of Peterborough. This man was, if not the
greatest, yet assuredly the most extraordinary character of that
age, the King of Sweden himself not excepted. Indeed,
Peterborough may be described as a polite, learned, and amorous
Charles the Twelfth. His courage had all the French impetuosity,
and all the English steadiness. His fertility and activity of
mind were almost beyond belief. They appeared in everything that
he did, in his campaigns, in his negotiations, in his familiar
correspondence, in his lightest and most unstudied conversation.
He was a kind friend, a generous enemy, and in deportment a
thorough gentleman. But his splendid talents and virtues were
rendered almost useless to his country, by his levity, his
restlessness, his irritability, his morbid craving for novelty
and for excitement. His weaknesses had not only brought him, on
more than one occasion, into serious trouble; but had impelled
him to some actions altogether unworthy of his humane and noble
nature. Repose was insupportable to him. He loved to fly round
Europe faster than a travelling courier. He was at the Hague one
week, at Vienna the next. Then he took a fancy to see Madrid; and
he had scarcely reached Madrid, when he ordered horses and set
off for Copenhagen. No attendants could keep up with his speed.
No bodily infirmities could confine him. Old age, disease,
imminent death, produced scarcely any effect on his intrepid
spirit. Just before he underwent the most horrible of surgical
operations, his conversation was as sprightly as that of a young
man in the full vigour of health. On the day after the operation,
in spite of the entreaties of his medical advisers, he would set
out on a journey. His figure was that of a skeleton. But his
elastic mind supported him under fatigues and sufferings which
seemed sufficient to bring the most robust man to the grave.
Change of employment was as necessary to him as change of place.
He loved to dictate six or seven letters at once. Those who had
to transact business with him complained that though he talked
with great ability on every subject, he could never be kept to
the point. "Lord Peterborough," said Pope, "would say very pretty
and lively things in his letters, but they would be rather too
gay and wandering; whereas, were Lord Bolingbroke to write to an
emperor, or to a statesman, he would fix on that point which was
the most material, would set it in the strongest and fiercest
light, and manage it so as to make it the most serviceable to his
purpose." What Peterborough was to Bolingbroke as a writer, he
was to Marlborough as a general. He was, in truth, the last of
the knights-errant, brave to temerity, liberal to profusion,
courteous in his dealings with enemies, the Protector of the
oppressed, the adorer of women. His virtues and vices were those
of the Round Table. Indeed, his character can hardly be better
summed up, than in the lines in which the author of that clever
little poem, Monks and Giants, has described Sir Tristram.

"His birth, it seems, by Merlin's calculation,
Was under Venus, Mercury, and Mars;
His mind with all their attributes was mixed,
And, like those planets, wandering and unfixed.

"From realm to realm he ran, and never staid:
Kingdoms and crowns he won, and gave away:
It seemed as if his labours were repaid
By the mere noise and movement of the fray:
No conquests or acquirements had he made;
His chief delight was, on some festive day
To ride triumphant, prodigal, and proud,
And shower his wealth amidst the shouting crowd.

"His schemes of war were sudden, unforeseen,
Inexplicable both to friend and foe;
It seemed as if some momentary spleen
Inspired the project, and impelled the blow;
And most his fortune and success were seen
With means the most inadequate and low;
Most master of himself, and least encumbered,
When overmatched, entangled, and outnumbered."

In June 1705, this remarkable man arrived in Lisbon with five
thousand Dutch and English soldiers. There the Archduke embarked
with a large train of attendants, whom Peterborough entertained
magnificently during the voyage at his own expense. From Lisbon
the armament proceeded to Gibraltar, and, having taken the Prince
of Hesse Darmstadt on board, steered towards the north-east along
the coast of Spain.

The first place at which the expedition touched, after leaving
Gibraltar, was Altea in Valencia. The wretched misgovernment of
Philip had excited great discontent throughout this province. The
invaders were eagerly welcomed. The peasantry flocked to the
shore, bearing provisions, and shouting, "Long live Charles the
Third." The neighbouring fortress of Denia surrendered without a

The imagination of Peterborough took fire. He conceived the hope
of finishing the war at one blow. Madrid was but a hundred and
fifty miles distant. There was scarcely one fortified place on
the road. The troops of Philip were either on the frontiers of
Portugal or on the coast of Catalonia. At the capital there was
no military force, except a few horse who formed a guard of
honour round the person of Philip. But the scheme of pushing into
the heart of a great kingdom with an army of only seven thousand
men, was too daring to please the Archduke.

The Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, who, in the reign of the late King
of Spain, had been Governor of Catalonia, and who overrated his
own influence in that province, was of opinion that they ought
instantly to proceed thither, and to attack Barcelona,
Peterborough was hampered by his instructions, and found it
necessary to submit.

On the sixteenth of August the fleet arrived before Barcelona;
and Peterborough found that the task assigned to him by the
Archduke and the Prince was one of almost insuperable difficulty.
One side of the city was protected by the sea; the other by the
strong fortifications of Monjuich. The walls were so extensive,
that thirty thousand men would scarcely have been sufficient to
invest them. The garrison was as numerous as the besieging army.
The best officers in the Spanish service were in the town. The
hopes which the Prince of Darmstadt had formed of a general
rising in Catalonia were grievously disappointed. The invaders
were joined only by about fifteen hundred armed peasants, whose
services cost more than they were worth.

No general was ever in a more deplorable situation than that in
which Peterborough was now placed. He had always objected to the
scheme of besieging Barcelona. His objections had been overruled.
He had to execute a project which he had constantly represented
as impracticable. His camp was divided into hostile factions and
he was censured by all. The Archduke and the Prince blamed him
for not proceeding instantly to take the town; but suggested no
plan by which seven thousand men could be enabled to do the work
of thirty thousand. Others blamed their general for giving up his
own opinion to the childish whims of Charles, and for sacrificing
his men in an attempt to perform what was impossible. The Dutch
commander positively declared that his soldiers should not stir:
Lord Peterborough might give what orders he chose; but to engage
in such a siege was madness; and the men should not be sent to
certain death when there was no chance of obtaining any

At length, after three weeks of inaction, Peterborough announced
his fixed determination to raise the siege. The heavy cannon were
sent on board. Preparations were made for re-embarking the
troops. Charles and the Prince of Hesse were furious, but most of
the officers blamed their general for having delayed so long the
measure which he had at last found it necessary to take. On the
twelfth of September there were rejoicings and public
entertainments in Barcelona for this great deliverance. On the
following morning the English flag was flying on the ramparts of
Monjuich. The genius and energy of one man had supplied the place
of forty battalions.

At midnight Peterborough had called out the Prince of Hesse, with
whom he had not for some time been on speaking terms, "I have
resolved, sir," said the Earl, "to attempt an assault; you may
accompany us, if you think fit, and see whether I and my men
deserve what you have been pleased to say of us." The Prince was
startled. The attempt, he said, was hopeless; but he was ready to
take his share; and, without further discussion, he called for
his horse.

Fifteen hundred English soldiers were assembled under the Earl. A
thousand more had been posted as a body of reserve, at a
neighbouring convent, under the command of Stanhope. After a
winding march along the foot of the hills, Peterborough and his
little army reached the walls of Monjuich. There they halted till
daybreak. As soon as they were descried, the enemy advanced into
the outer ditch to meet them. This was the event on which
Peterborough had reckoned, and for which his men were prepared.
The English received the fire, rushed forward, leaped into the
ditch, put the Spaniards to flight, and entered the works
together with the fugitives. Before the garrison had recovered
from their first surprise, the Earl was master of the outworks,
had taken several pieces of cannon, and had thrown up a
breastwork to defend his men. He then sent off for Stanhope's
reserve. While he was waiting for this reinforcement, news
arrived that three thousand men were marching from Barcelona
towards Monjuich. He instantly rode out to take a view of them;
but no sooner had he left his troops than they were seized with a
panic. Their situation was indeed full of danger; they had been
brought into Monjuich, they scarcely knew how; their numbers were
small; their general was gone: their hearts failed them, and they
were proceeding to evacuate the fort. Peterborough received
information of these occurrences in time to stop the retreat. He
galloped up to the fugitives, addressed a few words to them, and
put himself at their head. The sound of his voice and the sight
of his face restored all their courage, and they marched back to
their former position.

The Prince of Hesse had fallen in the confusion of the assault;
but everything else went well. Stanhope arrived; the detachment
which had marched out of Barcelona retreated; the heavy cannon
were disembarked, and brought to bear on the inner
fortifications of Monjuich, which speedily fell. Peterborough,
with his usual generosity, rescued the Spanish soldiers from the
ferocity of his victorious army, and paid the last honours with
great pomp to his rival the Prince of Hesse.

The reduction of Monjuich was the first of a series of brilliant
exploits. Barcelona fell; and Peterborough had the glory of
taking, with a handful of men, one of the largest and strongest
towns of Europe. He had also the glory, not less dear to his
chivalrous temper, of saving the life and honour of the beautiful
Duchess of Popoli, whom he met flying with dishevelled hair from
the fury of the soldiers. He availed himself dexterously of the
jealousy with which the Catalonians regarded the inhabitants of
Castile. He guaranteed to the province in the capital of which he
was now quartered all its ancient rights and liberties, and thus
succeeded in attaching the population to the Austrian cause.

The open country now declared in favour of Charles. Tarragona,
Tortosa, Gerona, Lerida, San Mateo, threw open their gates. The
Spanish Government sent the Count of Las Torres with seven
thousand men to reduce San Mateo. The Earl of Peterborough, with
only twelve hundred men, raised the siege. His officers advised
him to be content with this extraordinary success. Charles urged
him to return to Barcelona; but no remonstrances could stop such
a spirit in the midst of such a career. It was the depth of
winter. The country was mountainous. The roads were almost
impassable. The men were ill-clothed. The horses were knocked up.
The retreating army was far more numerous than the pursuing army.
But difficulties and dangers vanished before the energy of
Peterborough. He pushed on, driving Las Torres before him. Nules
surrendered to the mere terror of his name; and, on the fourth of
February, 1706 he arrived in triumph at Valencia. There he
learned that a body of four thousand men was on the march to join
Las Torres. He set out at dead of night from Valencia, passed the
Xucar, came unexpectedly on the encampment of the enemy, and
slaughtered, dispersed, or took the whole reinforcement. The
Valencians could scarcely believe their eyes when they saw the
prisoners brought in.

In the meantime the Courts of Madrid and Versailles, exasperated
and alarmed by the fall of Barcelona and by the revolt of the
surrounding country, determined to make a great effort. A large
army, nominally commanded by Philip, but really under the orders
of Marshal Tesse, entered Catalonia. A fleet under the Count of
Toulouse, one of the natural children of Lewis the Fourteenth,
appeared before the port of Barcelona, The city was attacked at
once by sea and land. The person of the Archduke was in
considerable danger. Peterborough, at the head of about three
thousand men, marched with great rapidity from Valencia. To give
battle, with so small a force, to a great regular army under the
conduct of a Marshal of France, would have been madness. The Earl
therefore made war after the fashion of the Minas and Empecinados
of our own time. He took his post on the neighbouring mountains,
harassed the enemy with incessant alarms, cut off their
stragglers, intercepted their communications with the interior,
and introduced supplies, both of men and provisions, into the
town. He saw, however, that the only hope of the besieged was on
the side of the sea. His commission from the British Government
gave him supreme power, not only over the army, but, whenever he
should be actually on board, over the navy also. He put out to
sea at night in an open boat, without communicating his design to
any person. He was picked up several leagues from the shore, by
one of the ships of the English squadron. As soon as he was on
board, he announced himself as first in command, and sent a
pinnace with his orders to the Admiral. Had these orders been
given a few hours earlier, it is probable that the whole French
fleet would have been taken. As it was, the Count of Toulouse put
out to sea. The port was open. The town was relieved. On the
following night the enemy raised the siege and retreated to
Roussillon. Peterborough returned to Valencia, a place which he
preferred to every other in Spain; and Philip, who had been some
weeks absent from his wife, could endure the misery of separation
no longer, and flew to rejoin her at Madrid.

At Madrid, however, it was impossible for him or for her to
remain. The splendid success which Peterborough had obtained on
the eastern coast of the Peninsula had inspired the sluggish
Galway with emulation. He advanced into the heart of Spain.
Berwick retreated. Alcantara, Ciudad Rodrigo, and Salamanca fell,
and the conquerors marched towards the capital.

Philip was earnestly pressed by his advisers to remove the seat
of government to Burgos. The advance guard of the allied army was
already seen on the heights above Madrid. It was known that the
main body was at hand. The unfortunate Prince fled with his Queen
and his household. The royal wanderers, after travelling eight
days on bad roads, under a burning sun, and sleeping eight nights
in miserable hovels, one of which fell down and nearly crushed
them both to death, reached the metropolis of Old Castile. In the
meantime the invaders had entered Madrid in triumph, and had
proclaimed the Archduke in the streets of the imperial city.
Arragon, ever jealous of the Castilian ascendency, followed the
example of Catalonia. Saragossa revolted without seeing an enemy.
The governor whom Philip had set over Carthagena betrayed his
trust, and surrendered to the Allies the best arsenal and the
last ships which Spain possessed.

Toledo had been for some time the retreat of two ambitious,
turbulent and vindicative intriguers, the Queen Dowager and
Cardinal Porto Carrero. They had long been deadly enemies. They
had led the adverse factions of Austria and France. Each had in
turn domineered over the weak and disordered mind of the late
King. At length the impostures of the priest had triumphed over
the blandishments of the woman; Porto Carrero had remained
victorious; and the Queen had fled in shame and mortification,
from the Court where she had once been supreme. In her retirement
she was soon joined by him whose arts had destroyed her
influence. The Cardinal, having held power just long enough to
convince all parties of his incompetency, had been dismissed to
his See, cursing his own folly and the ingratitude of the House
which he had served too well. Common interests and common
enmities reconciled the fallen rivals. The Austrian troops were
admitted into Toledo without opposition. The Queen Dowager flung
off that mournful garb which the widow of a King of Spain wears
through her whole life, and blazed forth in jewels. The Cardinal
blessed the standards of the invaders in his magnificent
cathedral, and lighted up his palace in honour of the great
deliverance. It seemed that the struggle had terminated in favour
of the Archduke, and that nothing remained for Philip but a
prompt flight into the dominions of his grandfather.

So judged those who were ignorant of the character and habits of
the Spanish people. There is no country in Europe which it is so
easy to overrun as Spain, there is no country in Europe which it
is more difficult to conquer. Nothing can be more contemptible
than the regular military resistance which Spain offers to an
invader; nothing more formidable than the energy which she puts
forth when her regular military resistance has been beaten down.
Her armies have long borne too much resemblance to mobs; but her
mobs have had, in an unusual degree, the spirit of armies. The
soldier, as compared with other soldiers, is deficient in
military qualities; but the peasant has as much of those
qualities as the soldier. In no country have such strong
fortresses been taken by surprise: in no country have unfortified
towns made so furious and obstinate a resistance to great armies.
War in Spain has, from the days of the Romans, had a character
of its own; it is a fire which cannot be raked out; it burns
fiercely under the embers; and long after it has, to all
seeming, been extinguished, bursts forth more violently than
ever. This was seen in the last war. Spain had no army which
could have looked in the face an equal number of
French or Prussian soldiers; but one day laid the Prussian
monarchy in the dust; one day put the crown of France at the
disposal of invaders. No Jena, no Waterloo, would have enabled
Joseph to reign in quiet at Madrid.

The conduct of the Castilians throughout the War of the
Succession was most characteristic. With all the odds of number
and situation on their side, they had been ignominiously beaten.
All the European dependencies of the Spanish crown were lost.
Catalonia, Arragon, and Valencia had acknowledged the Austrian
Prince. Gibraltar had been taken by a few sailors; Barcelona
stormed by a few dismounted dragoons. The invaders had penetrated
into the centre of the Peninsula, and were quartered at Madrid
and Toledo. While these events had been in progress, the nation
had scarcely given a sign of life. The rich could hardly be
prevailed on to give or to lend for the support of war; the
troops had shown neither discipline nor courage; and now at last,
when it seemed that all was lost, when it seemed that the most
sanguine must relinquish all hope, the national spirit awoke,
fierce, proud, and unconquerable. The people had been sluggish
when the circumstances might well have inspired hope; they
reserved all their energy for what appeared to be a season of
despair. Castile, Leon, Andalusia, Estremadura, rose at once;
every peasant procured a firelock or a pike; the Allies were
masters only of the ground on which they trod. No soldier could
wander a hundred yards from the main body of the invading army
without imminent risk of being poniarded. The country through
which the conquerors had passed to Madrid, and which, as they
thought, they had subdued, was all in arms behind them. Their
communications with Portugal were cut off. In the meantime, money
began, for the first time, to flow rapidly into the treasury of
the fugitive King. "The day before yesterday," says the Princess
Orsini, in a letter written at this time, "the priest of a
village which contains only a hundred and twenty houses brought a
hundred and twenty pistoles to the Queen. 'My flock,' said he,
'are ashamed to send you so little; but they beg you to believe
that in this purse there are a hundred and twenty hearts faithful
even to the death.' The good man wept as he spoke; and indeed we
wept too. Yesterday another small village, in which there are
only twenty houses, sent us fifty pistoles."

While the Castilians were everywhere arming in the cause of
Philip, the Allies were serving that cause as effectually by
their mismanagement. Galway staid at Madrid, where his soldiers
indulged in such boundless licentiousness that one half of them
were in the hospitals. Charles remained dawdling in Catalonia.
Peterborough had taken Requena, and wished to march from Valencia
towards Madrid, and to effect a junction with Galway; but the
Archduke refused his consent to the plan. The indignant general
remained accordingly in his favourite city, on the beautiful
shores of the Mediterranean, reading Don Quixote, giving balls
and suppers, trying in vain to get some good sport out of the
Valencia bulls, and making love, not in vain, to the Valencian

At length the Archduke advanced into Castile, and ordered
Peterborough to join him. But it was too late. Berwick had
already compelled Galway to evacuate Madrid; and, when the whole
force of the Allies was collected at Guadalaxara, it was found to
be decidedly inferior in numbers to that of the enemy.

Peterborough formed a plan for regaining possession of the
capital. His plan was rejected by Charles. The patience of the
sensitive and vainglorious hero was worn out. He had none of that
serenity of temper which enabled Marlborough to act in perfect
harmony with Eugene, and to endure the vexatious interference of
the Dutch deputies. He demanded permission to leave the army.
Permission was readily granted; and he set out for Italy. That
there might be some pretext for his departure, he was
commissioned by the Archduke to raise a loan in Genoa, on the
credit of the revenues of Spain.

From that moment to the end of the campaign the tide of fortune
ran strong against the Austrian cause. Berwick had placed his
army between the Allies and the frontiers of Portugal. They
retreated on Valencia, and arrived in that Province, leaving
about ten thousand prisoners in the hands of the enemy.

In January 1707, Peterborough arrived at Valencia from Italy, no
longer bearing a public character, but merely as a volunteer. His
advice was asked, and it seems to have been most judicious. He
gave it as his decided opinion that no offensive operations
against Castile ought to be undertaken. It would be easy, he
said, to defend Arragon, Catalonia, and Valencia, against Philip.
The inhabitants of those parts of Spain were attached to the
cause of the Archduke; and the armies of the House of Bourbon
would be resisted by the whole population. In a short time the
enthusiasm of the Castilians might abate. The government of
Philip might commit unpopular acts. Defeats in the Netherlands
might compel Lewis to withdraw the succours which he had
furnished to his grandson. Then would be the time to strike a
decisive blow. This excellent advice was rejected. Peterborough,
who had now received formal letters of recall from England,
departed before the opening of the campaign; and with him
departed the good fortune of the Allies. Scarcely any general had
ever done so much with means so small. Scarcely any general had
ever displayed equal originality and boldness. He possessed, in
the highest degree, the art of conciliating those whom he had
subdued. But he was not equally successful in winning the
attachment of those with whom he acted. He was adored by the
Catalonians and Valencians; but he was hated by the prince whom
he had all but made a great king, and by the generals whose
fortune and reputation were staked on the same venture with his
own. The English Government could not understand him. He was so
eccentric that they gave him no credit for the judgment which he
really possessed. One day he took towns with horse-soldiers; then
again he turned some hundreds of infantry into cavalry at a
minute's notice. He obtained his political intelligence chiefly
by means of love affairs, and filled his despatches with
epigrams. The ministers thought that it would be highly impolitic
to intrust the conduct of the Spanish war to so volatile and
romantic a person. They therefore gave the command to Lord
Galway, an experienced veteran, a man who was in war what
Moliere's doctors were in medicine, who thought it much more
honourable to fail according to rule, than to succeed by
innovation, and who would have been very much ashamed of himself
if he had taken Monjuich by means so strange as those which
Peterborough employed. This great commander conducted the
campaign of 1707 in the most scientific manner. On the plain of
Almanza he encountered the army of the Bourbons. He drew up his
troops according to the methods prescribed by the best writers,
and in a few hours lost eighteen thousand men, a hundred and
twenty standards, all his baggage and all his artillery. Valencia
and Arragon were instantly conquered by the French, and, at the
close of the year, the mountainous province of Catalonia was the
only part of Spain which still adhered to Charles.

"Do you remember, child," says the foolish woman in the Spectator
to her husband, "that the pigeon-house fell the very afternoon
that our careless wench spilt the salt upon the table?" "Yes, my
dear," replies the gentleman, "and the next post brought us an
account of the battle of Almanza." The approach of disaster in
Spain had been for some time indicated by omens much clearer than
the mishap of the salt-cellar; an ungrateful prince, an
undisciplined army, a divided council, envy triumphant over
merit, a man of genius recalled, a pedant and a sluggard
intrusted with supreme command. The battle of Almanza decided the
fate of Spain. The loss was such as Marlborough or Eugene could
scarcely have retrieved, and was certainly not to be retrieved by
Stanhope and Staremberg.

Stanhope, who took the command of the English army in Catalonia,
was a man of respectable abilities, both in military and civil
affairs, but fitter, we conceive, for a second than for a first
place. Lord Mahon, with his usual candour, tells us, what we
believe was not known before, that his ancestor's most
distinguished exploit, the conquest of Minorca, was suggested by
Marlborough. Staremberg, a methodical tactician of the German
school, was sent by the emperor to command in Spain. Two languid
campaigns followed, during which neither of the hostile armies
did anything memorable, but during which both were nearly

At length, in 1710, the chiefs of the Allied forces resolved to
venture on bolder measures. They began the campaign with a daring
move, pushed into Arragon, defeated the troops of Philip at
Almenara, defeated them again at Saragossa, and advanced to
Madrid. The King was again a fugitive. The Castilians sprang to
arms with the same enthusiasm which they had displayed in 1706.
The conquerors found the capital a desert. The people shut
themselves up in their houses, and refused to pay any mark of
respect to the Austrian prince. It was necessary to hire a few
children to shout before him in the streets. Meanwhile, the Court
of Philip at Valladolid was thronged by nobles and prelates.
Thirty thousand people followed their King from Madrid to his new
residence. Women of rank, rather than remain behind, performed
the journey on foot. The peasants enlisted by thousands. Money,
arms, and provisions, were supplied in abundance by the zeal of
the people. The country round Madrid was infested by small
parties of irregular horse. The Allies could not send off a
despatch to Arragon, or introduce a supply of provisions into the
capital. It was unsafe for the Archduke to hunt in the immediate
vicinity of the palace which he occupied.

The wish of Stanhope was to winter in Castile. But he stood alone
in the council of war; and, indeed it is not easy to understand
how the Allies could have maintained themselves, through so
unpropitious a season, in the midst of so hostile a population.
Charles, whose personal safety was the first object of the
generals, was sent with an escort of cavalry to Catalonia in
November; and in December the army commenced its retreat towards

But the Allies had to do with a master-spirit. The King of France
had lately sent the Duke of Vendome to command in Spain. This man
was distinguished by the filthiness of his person, by the
brutality of his demeanour, by the gross buffoonery of his
conversation, and by the impudence with which he abandoned
himself to the most nauseous of all vices. His sluggishness was
almost incredible. Even when engaged in a campaign, he often
passed whole days in his bed. His strange torpidity had been the
cause of some of the most serious disasters which the armies of
the House of Bourbon had sustained. But when he was roused by any
great emergency, his resources, his energy, and his presence of
mind, were such as had been found in no French general since the
death of Luxembourg.

At this crisis, Vendome was all himself. He set out from Talavera
with his troops, and pursued the retreating army of the Allies
with a speed perhaps never equalled, in such a season, and in
such a country. He marched night and day. He swam, at the head of
his cavalry, the flooded stream of Henares, and, in a few days,
overtook Stanhope, who was at Brihuega with the left wing of the
Allied army. "Nobody with me," says the English general, imagined
that they had any foot within some days' march of us and our
misfortune is owing to the incredible diligence which their army
made." Stanhope had but just time to send off a messenger to the
centre of the army, which was some leagues from Brihuega, before
Vendome was upon him. The town was invested on every side. The
walls were battered with cannon. A mine was sprung under one of
the gates. The English kept up a terrible fire till their powder
was spent. They then fought desperately with the bayonet against
overwhelming odds. They burned the houses which the assailants
had taken. But all was to no purpose. The British general saw
that resistance could produce only a useless carnage. He
concluded a capitulation; and his gallant little army became
prisoners of war on honourable terms.

Scarcely had Vendome signed the capitulation, when he learned
that Staremberg was marching to the relief of Stanhope.
Preparations were instantly made for a general action. On the day
following that on which the English had delivered up their arms,
was fought the obstinate and bloody fight of Villa Viciosa.
Staremberg remained master of the field. Vendome reaped all the
fruits of the battle. The Allies spiked their cannon, and retired
towards Arragon. But even in Arragon they found no place to rest.
Vendome was behind them. The guerilla parties were around them.
They fled to Catalonia; but Catalonia was invaded by a French
army from Roussillon. At length the Austrian general, with six
thousand harassed and dispirited men, the remains of a great and
victorious army, took refuge in Barcelona, almost the only place
in Spain which still recognised the authority of Charles.

Philip was now much safer at Madrid than his grandfather at
Paris. All hope of conquering Spain in Spain was at an end. But
in other quarters the House of Bourbon was reduced to the last
extremity. The French armies had undergone a series of defeats in
Germany, in Italy, and in the Netherlands. An immense force,
flushed with victory, and commanded by the greatest generals of
the age, was on the borders of France. Lewis had been forced to
humble himself before the conquerors. He had even offered to
abandon the cause of his grandson; and his offer had been
rejected. But a great turn in affairs was approaching.

The English administration which had commenced the war against
the House of Bourbon was an administration composed of Tories.
But the war was a Whig war. It was the favourite scheme of
William, the Whig King. Lewis had provoked it by recognising, as
sovereign of England, a prince peculiarly hateful to the Whigs.
It had placed England in a position of marked hostility to that
power from which alone the Pretender could expect efficient
succour. It had joined England in the closest union to a
Protestant and republican State, to a State which had assisted in
bringing about the Revolution, and which was willing to guarantee
the execution of the Act of Settlement. Marlborough and Godolphin
found that they were more zealously supported by their old
opponents than by their old associates. Those ministers who were
zealous for the war were gradually converted to Whiggism. The
rest dropped off, and were succeeded by Whigs. Cowper became
Chancellor. Sunderland, in spite of the very just antipathy of
Anne, was made Secretary of State. On the death of the Prince of
Denmark a more extensive change took place. Wharton became Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland, and Somers, President of the Council. At
length the administration was wholly in the hands of the Low
Church party.

In the year 1710 a violent change took place. The Queen had
always been a Tory at heart. Her religious feelings were all on
the side of the Established Church. Her family feelings pleaded
in favour of her exiled brother. Her selfish feelings disposed
her to favour the zealots of prerogative. The affection which she
felt for the Duchess of Marlborough was the great security of the
Whigs. That affection had at length turned to deadly aversion.
While the great party which had long swayed the destinies of
Europe was undermined by bedchamber women at St. James's, a
violent storm gathered in the country. A foolish parson had
preached a foolish sermon against the principles of the
Revolution. The wisest members of the Government were for letting
the man alone. But Godolphin, inflamed with all the zeal of a
new-made Whig, and exasperated by a nickname which was applied to
him in this unfortunate discourse, insisted that the preacher
should be impeached. The exhortations of the mild and sagacious
Somers were disregarded. The impeachment was brought; the doctor
was convicted; and the accusers were ruined. The clergy came to
the rescue of the persecuted clergyman. The country gentlemen
came to the rescue of the clergy. A display of Tory feelings,
such as England had not witnessed since the closing years of
Charles the Second's reign, appalled the ministers and gave
boldness to the Queen. She turned out the Whigs, called Harley
and St. John to power, and dissolved the Parliament. The
elections went strongly against the late Government. Stanhope,
who had in his absence, been put in nomination for Westminster,
was defeated by a Tory candidate. The new ministers, finding
themselves masters of the new Parliament, were induced by the
strongest motives to conclude a peace with France. The whole
system of alliance in which the country was engaged was a Whig
system. The general by whom the English armies had constantly
been led to victory, and for whom it was impossible to find a
substitute, was now whatever he might formerly have been, a Whig
general. If Marlborough were discarded it was probable that some
great disaster would follow. Yet if he were to retain his
command, every great action which he might perform would raise
the credit of the party in opposition.

A peace was therefore concluded between England and the Princes
of the House of Bourbon. Of that peace Lord Mahon speaks in terms
of the severest reprehension. He is, indeed, an excellent Whig of
the time of the first Lord Stanhope. "I cannot but pause for a
moment," says he, "to observe how much the course of a century
has inverted the meaning of our party nicknames, how much a
modern Tory resembles a Whig of Queen Anne's reign, and a Tory of
Queen Anne's reign a modern Whig."

We grant one half of Lord Mahon's proposition: from the other
half we altogether dissent. We allow that a modern Tory
resembles, in many things, a Whig of Queen Anne's reign. It is
natural that such should be the case. The worst things of one age
often resemble the best things of another. A modern shopkeeper's
house is as well furnished as the house of a considerable
merchant in Anne's reign. Very plain people now wear finer cloth
than Beau Fielding or Beau Edgeworth could have procured in Queen
Anne's reign. We would rather trust to the apothecary of a modern
village than to the physician of a large town in Anne's reign. A
modern boarding-school miss could tell the most learned professor
of Anne's reign some things in geography, astronomy, and
chemistry, which would surprise him.

The science of government is an experimental science; and
therefore it is, like all other experimental sciences, a
progressive science. Lord Mahon would have been a very good Whig
in the days of Harley. But Harley, whom Lord Mahon censures so
severely, was very Whiggish when compared even with Clarendon;
and Clarendon was quite a democrat when compared with Lord
Burleigh. If Lord Mahon lives, as we hope he will, fifty years
longer, we have no doubt that, as he now boasts of the
resemblance which the Tories of our time bear to the Whigs of the
Revolution, he will then boast of the resemblance borne by the
Tories of 1882 to those immortal patriots, the Whigs of the
Reform Bill.

Society, we believe, is constantly advancing in knowledge. The
tail is now where the head was some generations ago. But the head
and the tail still keep their distance. A nurse of this century
is as wise as a justice of the quorum and custalorum in Shallow's
time. The wooden spoon of this year would puzzle a senior
wrangler of the reign of George the Second. A boy from the
National School reads and spells better than half the knights of
the shire in the October Club. But there is still as wide a
difference as ever between justices and nurses, senior wranglers
and wooden spoons, members of Parliament and children at charity
schools. In the same way, though a Tory may now be very like what
a Whig was a hundred and twenty years ago, the Whig is as much in
advance of the Tory as ever. The stag, in the Treatise on the
Bathos, who "feared his hind feet would o'ertake the fore," was
not more mistaken than Lord Mahon, if he thinks that he has
really come up with the Whigs. The absolute position of the
parties has been altered; the relative position remains
unchanged. Through the whole of that great movement, which began
before these party-names existed, and which will continue after
they have become obsolete, through the whole of that great
movement of which the Charter of John, the institution of the
House of Commons, the extinction of Villanage, the separation
from the see of Rome, the expulsion of the Stuarts, the reform of
the Representative System, are successive stages, there have
been, under some name or other, two sets of men, those who were
before their age, and those who were behind it, those who were
the wisest among their contemporaries, and those who gloried in
being no wiser than their great-grandfathers. It is dreadful to
think, that, in due time, the last of those who straggle in the
rear of the great march will occupy the place now occupied by the
advanced guard. The Tory Parliament of 1710 would have passed for
a most liberal Parliament in the days of Elizabeth; and there are
at present few members of the Conservative Club who would not
have been fully qualified to sit with Halifax and Somers at the

Though, therefore, we admit that a modern Tory bears some
resemblance to a Whig of Queen Anne's reign, we can by no means
admit that a Tory of Anne's reign resembled a modern Whig. Have
the modern Whigs passed laws for the purpose of closing the
entrance of the House of Commons against the new interests
created by trade? Do the modern Whigs hold the doctrine of divine
right? Have the modern Whigs laboured to exclude all Dissenters
from office and power? The modern Whigs are, indeed, at the
present moment, like the Tories of 1712, desirous of peace, and
of close union with France. But is there no difference between
the France of 1712 and the France of 1832? Is France now the
stronghold of the "Popish tyranny" and the "arbitrary power"
against which our ancestors fought and prayed? Lord Mahon will
find, we think, that his parallel is, in all essential
circumstances, as incorrect as that which Fluellen drew between
Macedon and Monmouth, or as that which an ingenious Tory lately
discovered between Archbishop Williams and Archbishop Vernon.

We agree with Lord Mahon in thinking highly of the Whigs of Queen
Anne's reign. But that part of their conduct which he selects for
especial praise is precisely the part which we think most
objectionable. We revere them as the great champions of political
and of intellectual liberty. It is true that, when raised to
power, they were not exempt from the faults which power naturally
engenders. It is true that they were men born in the seventeenth
century, and that they were therefore ignorant of many truths
which are familiar to the men of the nineteenth century. But they
were, what the reformers of the Church were before them, and what
the reformers of the House of Commons have been since, the
leaders of their species in a right direction. It is true that
they did not allow to political discussion that latitude which to
us appears reasonable and safe; but to them we owe the removal of
the Censorship. It is true that they did not carry the principle
of religious liberty to its full extent; but to them we owe the
Toleration Act.

Though, however, we think that the Whigs of Anne's reign were, as
a body, far superior in wisdom and public virtue to their
contemporaries the Tories, we by no means hold ourselves bound to
defend all the measures of our favourite party. A life of action,
if it is to be useful, must be a life of compromise. But
speculation admits of no compromise. A public man is often under
the necessity of consenting to measures which he dislikes, lest
he should endanger the success of measures which he thinks of
vital importance. But the historian lies under no such necessity.
On the contrary, it is one of his most sacred duties to point out
clearly the errors of those whose general conduct he admires.

It seems to us, then, that, on the great question which divided
England during the last four years of Anne's reign, the Tories
were in the right, and the Whigs in the wrong. That question was,
whether England ought to conclude peace without exacting from
Philip a resignation of the Spanish crown?

No parliamentary struggle, from the time of the Exclusion Bill to
the time of the Reform Bill, has been so violent as that which
took place between the authors of the Treaty of Utrecht and the
War Party. The Commons were for peace; the Lords were for
vigorous hostilities. The Queen was compelled to choose which of
her two highest prerogatives she would exercise, whether she
would create Peers, or dissolve the Parliament.

The ties of party superseded the ties of neighbourhood and of
blood. The members of the hostile factions would scarcely speak
to each other, or bow to each other. The women appeared at the
theatres bearing the badges of their political sect. The schism
extended to the most remote counties of England. Talents, such as
had seldom before been displayed in political controversy, were
enlisted in the service of the hostile parties. On one side was
Steele, gay, lively, drunk with animal spirits and with factious
animosity, and Addison, with his polished satire, his
inexhaustible fertility of fancy, and his graceful simplicity of
style. In the front of the opposite ranks appeared a darker and
fiercer spirit, the apostate politician, the ribald priest, the
perjured lover, a heart burning with hatred against the whole
human race, a mind richly stored with images from the dung-hill
and the lazar-house. The ministers triumphed, and the peace was
concluded. Then came the reaction. A new sovereign ascended the
throne. The Whigs enjoyed the confidence of the King and of the
Parliament. The unjust severity with which the Tories had treated
Marlborough and Walpole was more than retaliated. Harley and
Prior were thrown into prison; Bolingbroke and Ormond were
compelled to take refuge in a foreign land. The wounds inflicted
in this desperate conflict continued to rankle for many years. It
was long before the members of either party could discuss the
question of the peace of Utrecht with calmness and impartiality.
That the Whig ministers had sold us to the Dutch; that the Tory
ministers had sold us to the French; that the war had been
carried on only to fill the pockets of Marlborough; that the
peace had been concluded only to facilitate the return of the
Pretender; these imputations and many others, utterly ungrounded,
or grossly exaggerated, were hurled backward and forward by the
political disputants of the last century. In our time the
question may be discussed without irritation. We will state, as
concisely as possible, the reasons which have led us to the
conclusion at which we have arrived.

The dangers which were to be apprehended from the peace were two;
first, the danger that Philip might be induced, by feelings of
private affection, to act in strict concert with the elder branch
of his house, to favour the French trade at the expense of
England, and to side with the French Government in future wars;
secondly, the danger that the posterity of the Duke of Burgundy
might become extinct, that Philip might become heir by blood to
the French crown, and that thus two great monarchies might be
united under one sovereign.

The first danger appears to us altogether chimerical. Family
affection has seldom produced much effect on the policy of
princes. The state of Europe at the time of the peace of Utrecht
proved that in politics the ties of interest are much stronger
than those of consanguinity or affinity. The Elector of Bavaria
had been driven from his dominions by his father-in-law; Victor
Amadeus was in arms against his sons-in-law; Anne was seated on a
throne from which she had assisted to push a most indulgent
father. It is true that Philip had been accustomed from childhood
to regard his grandfather with profound veneration. It was
probable, therefore, that the influence of Lewis at Madrid would
be very great. But Lewis was more than seventy years old; he
could not live long; his heir was an infant in the cradle. There
was surely no reason to think that the policy of the King of
Spain would be swayed by his regard for a nephew whom he had
never seen.

In fact, soon after the peace, the two branches of the House of
Bourbon began to quarrel. A close alliance was formed between
Philip and Charles, lately competitors for the Castilian crown. A
Spanish princess, betrothed to the King of France, was sent back
in the most insulting manner to her native country; and a decree
was put forth by the Court of Madrid commanding every Frenchman
to leave Spain. It is true that, fifty years after the peace of
Utrecht, an alliance of peculiar strictness was formed between
the French and Spanish Governments. But both Governments were
actuated on that occasion, not by domestic affection, but by
common interests and common enmities. Their compact, though
called the Family Compact, was as purely a political compact as
the league of Cambrai or the league of Pilnitz.

The second danger was that Philip might have succeeded to the
crown of his native country. This did not happen; but it might
have happened; and at one time it seemed very likely to happen. A
sickly child alone stood between the King of Spain and the
heritage of Lewis the Fourteenth. Philip, it is true, solemnly
renounced his claim to the French crown. But the manner in which
he had obtained possession of the Spanish crown had proved the
inefficacy of such renunciations. The French lawyers declared
Philip's renunciation null, as being inconsistent with the
fundamental law of the realm. The French people would probably
have sided with him whom they would have considered as the
rightful heir. Saint Simon, though much less zealous for
hereditary monarchy than most of his countrymen, and though
strongly attached to the Regent, declared, in the presence of
that prince, that he never would support the claims of the House
of Orleans against those of the King of Spain. "If such," he
said, "be my feelings, what must be the feelings of others?"
Bolingbroke, it is certain, was fully convinced that the
renunciation was worth no more than the paper on which it was
written, and demanded it only for the purpose of blinding the
English Parliament and people.

Yet, though it was at one time probable that the posterity of the
Duke of Burgundy would become extinct, and though it is almost
certain that, if the posterity of the Duke of Burgundy had become
extinct, Philip would have successfully preferred his claim to
the crown of France, we still defend the principle of the Treaty
of Utrecht. In the first place, Charles had, soon after the
battle of Villa-Viciosa, inherited, by the death of his elder
brother, all the dominions of the House of Austria. Surely, if to
these dominions he had added the whole monarchy of Spain, the
balance of power would have been seriously endangered. The union
of the Austrian dominions and Spain would not, it is true, have
been so alarming an event as the union of France and Spain. But
Charles was actually Emperor. Philip was not, and never might be,
King of France. The certainty of the less evil might well be set
against the chance of the greater evil.

But, in fact, we do not believe that Spain would long have
remained under the government either of an Emperor or of a King
of France. The character of the Spanish people was a better
security to the nations of Europe than any will, any instrument
of renunciation, or any treaty. The same energy which the people
of Castile had put forth when Madrid was occupied by the Allied
armies, they would have again put forth as soon as it appeared
that their country was about to become a French province. Though
they were no longer masters abroad, they were by no means
disposed to see foreigners set over them at home. If Philip had
attempted to govern Spain by mandates from Versailles, a second
Grand Alliance would easily have effected what the first had
failed to accomplish. The Spanish nation would have rallied
against him as zealously as it had before rallied round him. And
of this he seems to have been fully aware. For many years the
favourite hope of his heart was that he might ascend the throne
of his grandfather; but he seems never to have thought it
possible that he could reign at once in the country of his
adoption and in the country of his birth.

These were the dangers of the peace; and they seem to us to be of
no very formidable kind. Against these dangers are to be set off
the evils of war and the risk of failure. The evils of the war,
the waste of life, the suspension of trade, the expenditure of
wealth, the accumulation of debt, require no illustration. The
chances of failure it is difficult at this distance of time to
calculate with accuracy. But we think that an estimate
approximating to the truth may, without much difficulty, be
formed. The Allies had been victorious in Germany, Italy, and
Flanders. It was by no means improbable that they might fight
their way into the very heart of France. But at no time since the
commencement of the war had their prospects been so dark in that
country which was the very object of the struggle. In Spain they
held only a few square leagues. The temper of the great majority
of the nation was decidedly hostile to them. If they had
persisted, if they had obtained success equal to their highest
expectations, if they had gained a series of victories as
splendid as those of Blenheim and Ramilies, if Paris had fallen,
if Lewis had been a prisoner, we still doubt whether they would
have accomplished their object. They would still have had to
carry on interminable hostilities against the whole population of
a country which affords peculiar facilities to irregular warfare,
and in which invading armies suffer more from famine than from
the sword.

We are, therefore, for the peace of Utrecht. We are indeed no
admirers of the statesmen who concluded that peace. Harley, we
believe, was a solemn trifler, St. John a brilliant knave. The
great body of their followers consisted of the country clergy and
the country gentry; two classes of men who were then inferior in
intelligence to decent shopkeepers or farmers of our time. Parson
Barnabas, Parson Trulliber, Sir Wilful Witwould, Sir Francis
Wronghead, Squire Western, Squire Sullen, such were the people
who composed the main strength of the Tory party during the sixty
years which followed the Revolution. It is true that the means by
which the Tories came into power in 1710 were most disreputable.
It is true that the manner in which they used their power was
often unjust and cruel. It is true that, in order to bring about
their favourite project of peace, they resorted to slander and
deception, without the slightest scruple. It is true that they
passed off on the British nation a renunciation which they knew
to be invalid. It is true that they gave up the Catalans to the
vengeance of Philip, in a manner inconsistent with humanity and
national honour. But on the great question of Peace or War, we
cannot but think that, though their motives may have been selfish
and malevolent, their decision was beneficial to the State.

But we have already exceeded our limits. It remains only for us
to bid Lord Mahon heartily farewell, and to assure him that,
whatever dislike we may feel for his political opinions, we shall
always meet him with pleasure on the neutral ground of


(April 1842)

Frederic the Great and his Times. Edited, with an Introduction,
By THOMAS CAMPBELL, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1842.

THIS work, which has the high honour of being introduced to the
world by the author of Lochiel and Hohenlinden, is not wholly
unworthy of so distinguished a chaperon. It professes, indeed, to
be no more than a compilation; but it is an exceedingly amusing
compilation, and we shall be glad to have more of it. The
narrative comes down at present only to the commencement of the
Seven Years' War, and therefore does not comprise the most
interesting portion of Frederic's reign.

It may not be unacceptable to our readers that we should take
this opportunity of presenting them with a slight sketch of the
life of the greatest king that has, in modern times, succeeded by
right of birth to a throne. It may, we fear, be impossible to
compress so long and eventful a story within the limits which we
must prescribe to ourselves. Should we be compelled to break off,
we may perhaps, when the continuation of this work appears,
return to the subject.

The Prussian monarchy, the youngest of the great European,
states, but in population and revenue the fifth among them, and
in art, science, and civilisation entitled to the third, if not
to the second place, sprang from a humble origin. About the
beginning of the fifteenth century, the marquisate of Brandenburg
was bestowed by the Emperor Sigismund on the noble family of
Hohenzollern. In the sixteenth century that family embraced the
Lutheran doctrines. It obtained from the King of Poland, early in
the seventeenth century, the investiture of the duchy of Prussia.
Even after this accession of territory, the chiefs of the house
of Hohenzollern hardly ranked with the Electors of Saxony and
Bavaria. The soil of Brandenburg was for the most part sterile.
Even round Berlin, the capital of the province, and round
Potsdam, the favourite residence of the Margraves, the country
was a desert. In some places, the deep sand could with difficulty
be forced by assiduous tillage to yield thin crops of rye and
oats. In other places, the ancient forests, which the conquerors
of the Roman Empire had descended on the Danube, remained
untouched by the hand of man. Where the soil was rich it was
generally marshy, and its insalubrity repelled the cultivators
whom its fertility attracted. Frederic William, called the Great
Elector, was the prince to whose policy his successors have
agreed to ascribe their greatness. He acquired by the peace of
Westphalia several valuable possessions, and among them the rich
city and district of Magdeburg; and he left to his son Frederic a
principality as considerable as any which was not called a

Frederic aspired to the style of royalty. Ostentatious and
profuse, negligent of his true interests and of his high duties,
insatiably eager for frivolous distinctions, he added nothing to
the real weight of the state which he governed; perhaps he
transmitted his inheritance to his children impaired rather than
augmented in value; but he succeeded in gaining the great object
of his life, the title of King. In the year 1700 he assumed this
new dignity. He had on that occasion to undergo all the
mortifications which fall to the lot of ambitious upstarts.
Compared with the other crowned heads of Europe, he made a figure
resembling that which a Nabob or a Commissary, who had bought a
title, would make in the Company of Peers whose ancestors had
been attainted for treason against the Plantagenets. The envy of
the class which Frederic quitted, and the civil scorn of the
class into which he intruded himself, were marked in very
significant ways. The Elector of Saxony at first refused to
acknowledge the new Majesty. Lewis the Fourteenth looked down on
his brother King with an air not unlike that with which the Count
in Moliere's play regards Monsieur Jourdain, just fresh from the
mummery of being made a gentleman. Austria exacted large
sacrifices in return for her recognition, and at last gave it

Frederic was succeeded by his son, Frederic William, a prince who
must be allowed to have possessed some talents for
administration, but whose character was disfigured by odious
vices, and whose eccentricities were such as had never before
been seen out of a madhouse. He was exact and diligent in the
transacting of business; and he was the first who formed the
design of obtaining for Prussia a place among the European
powers, altogether out of proportion to her extent and population
by means of a strong military organisation. Strict economy
enabled him to keep up a peace establishment of sixty thousand
troops. These troops were disciplined in such a manner, that,
placed beside them, the household regiments of Versailles and St.
James's would have appeared an awkward squad. The master of such
a force could not but be regarded by all his neighbours as a
formidable enemy and a valuable ally.

But the mind of Frederic William was so ill regulated, that all
his inclinations became passions, and all his passions partook of
the character of moral and intellectual disease. His parsimony
degenerated into sordid avarice. His taste for military pomp and
order became a mania, like that of a Dutch burgomaster for
tulips, or that of a member of the Roxburghe Club for Caxtons.
While the envoys of the Court of Berlin were in a state of such
squalid poverty as moved the laughter of foreign capitals, while
the food placed before the princes and princesses of the blood-
royal of Prussia was too scanty to appease hunger, and so bad
that even hunger loathed it, no price was thought too extravagant
for tall recruits. The ambition of the King was to form a brigade
of giants, and every country was ransacked by his agents for men
above the ordinary stature. These researches were not confined to
Europe. No head that towered above the crowd in the bazaars of
Aleppo, of Cairo, or of Surat, could escape the crimps of
Frederic William. One Irishman more than seven feet high, who was
picked up in London by the Prussian ambassador, received a bounty
of near thirteen hundred pounds sterling, very much more than the
ambassador's salary. This extravagance was the more absurd,
because a stout youth of five feet eight, who might have been
procured for a few dollars, would in all probability have been a
much more valuable soldier. But to Frederic William, this huge
Irishman was what a brass Otho, or a Vinegar Bible, is to a
collector of a different kind.

It is remarkable, that though the main end of Frederic William's
administration was to have a great military force, though his
reign forms an important epoch in the history of military
discipline, and though his dominant passion was the love of
military display he was yet one of the most pacific of princes.
We are afraid that his aversion to war was not the effect of
humanity, but was merely one of his thousand whims. His feeling
about his troops seems to have resembled a miser's feeling about
his money. He loved to collect them, to count them, to see them
increase; but he could not find it in his heart to break in upon
the precious hoard. He looked forward to some future time when
his Patagonian battalions were to drive hostile infantry before
them like sheep; but this future time was always receding; and it
is probable that, if his life had been prolonged thirty years,
his superb army would never have seen any harder service than a
sham fight in the fields near Berlin. But the great military
means which he had collected were destined to be employed by a
spirit far more daring and inventive than his own.

Frederic, surnamed the Great, son of Frederic William, was born
in January 1712. It may safely be pronounced that he had received
from nature a strong and sharp understanding, and a rare firmness
of temper and intensity of will. As to the other parts of his
character, it is difficult to say whether they are to be ascribed
to nature, or to the strange training which he underwent. The
history of his boyhood is painfully interesting. Oliver Twist in
the parish workhouse, Smike at Dotheboys Hall, were petted
children when compared with this heir apparent of a crown. The
nature of Frederic William was hard and bad, and the habit of
exercising arbitrary power had made him frightfully savage. His
rage constantly vented itself to right and left in curses and
blows. When his Majesty took a walk, every human being fled
before him, as if a tiger had broken loose from a menagerie. If
he met a lady in the street, he gave her a kick, and told her to
go home and mind her brats. If he saw a clergyman staring at the
soldiers, he admonished the reverend gentleman to betake himself
to study and prayer, and enforced this pious advice by a sound
caning, administered on the spot. But it was in his own house
that he was most unreasonable and ferocious. His palace was hell,
and he the most execrable of fiends, a cross between Moloch and
Puck. His son Frederic and his daughter Wilhelmina, afterwards
Margravine of Bareuth, were in an especial manner objects of his
aversion. His own mind was uncultivated. He despised literature.
He hated infidels, papists, and metaphysicians, and did not very
well understand in what they differed from each other. The
business of life, according to him, was to drill and to be
drilled. The recreations suited to a prince, were to sit in a
cloud of tobacco smoke, to sip Swedish beer between the puffs of
the pipe, to play backgammon for three halfpence a rubber, to
kill wild hogs, and to shoot partridges by the thousand. The
Prince Royal showed little inclination either for the serious
employments or for the amusements of his father. He shirked the
duties of the parade; he detested the fume of tobacco; he had no
taste either for backgammon or for field sports. He had an
exquisite ear, and performed skilfully on the flute. His earliest
instructors had been French refugees, and they had awakened in
him a strong passion for French literature and French society.
Frederic William regarded these tastes as effeminate and
contemptible, and, by abuse and persecution, made them still
stronger. Things became worse when the Prince Royal attained that
time of life at which the great revolution in the human mind and
body takes place. He was guilty of some youthful indiscretions,
which no good and wise parent would regard with severity. At a
later period he was accused, truly or falsely, of vices from
which History averts her eyes, and which even Satire blushes to
name, vices such that, to borrow the energetic language of Lord
Keeper Coventry, "the depraved nature of man, which of itself
carrieth man to all other sin, abhorreth them." But the offences
of his youth were not characterised by any peculiar turpitude.
They excited, however, transports of rage in the King, who hated
all faults except those to which he was himself inclined, and who
conceived that he made ample atonement to Heaven for his
brutality, by holding the softer passions in detestation. The
Prince Royal, too, was not one of those who are content to take
their religion on trust. He asked puzzling questions, and brought
forward arguments which seemed to savour of something different
from pure Lutheranism. The King suspected that his son was
inclined to be a heretic of some sort or other, whether Calvinist
or Atheist his Majesty did not very well know. The ordinary
malignity of Frederic William was bad enough. He now thought
malignity a part of his duty as a Christian man, and all the
conscience that he had stimulated his hatred. The flute was
broken: the French books were sent out of the palace: the Prince
was kicked and cudgelled, and pulled by the hair. At dinner the
plates were hurled at his head: sometimes he was restricted to
bread and water: sometimes he was forced to swallow food so
nauseous that he could not keep it on his stomach. Once his
father knocked him down, dragged him along the floor to a window,
and was with difficulty prevented from strangling him with the
cord of the curtain. The Queen, for the crime of not wishing to
see her son murdered, was subjected to the grossest indignities.
The Princess Wilhelmina, who took her brother's part, was treated
almost as ill as Mrs. Brownrigg's apprentices. Driven to despair,
the unhappy youth tried to run away. Then the fury of the old
tyrant rose to madness. The Prince was an officer in the army:
his flight was therefore desertion; and, in the moral code of
Frederic William, desertion was the highest of all crimes.
"Desertion," says this royal theologian, in one of his half-crazy
letters, "is from hell. It is a work of the children of the
Devil. No child of God could possibly be guilty of it." An
accomplice of the Prince, in spite of the recommendation of a
court martial, was mercilessly put to death. It seemed probable
that the Prince himself would suffer the same fate. It was with
difficulty that the intercession of the States of Holland, of the
Kings of Sweden and Poland, and of the Emperor of Germany, saved
the House of Brandenburg from the stain of an unnatural murder.
After months of cruel suspense, Frederic learned that his life
would be spared. He remained, however, long a prisoner; but he
was not on that account to be pitied. He found in his gaolers a
tenderness which he had never found in his father; his table was
not sumptuous, but he had wholesome food in sufficient quantity
to appease hunger: he could read the Henriade without being
kicked, and could play on his flute without having it broken over
his head.

When his confinement terminated he was a man. He had nearly
completed his twenty-first year, and could scarcely be kept much
longer under the restraints which had made his boyhood miserable.
Suffering had matured his understanding, while it had hardened
his heart and soured his temper. He had learnt self-command and
dissimulation; he affected to conform to some of his father's
views, and submissively accepted a wife, who was a wife only in
name, from his father's hand. He also served with credit, though
without any opportunity of acquiring brilliant distinction, under
the command of Prince Eugene, during a campaign marked by no
extraordinary events. He was now permitted to keep a separate
establishment, and was therefore able to indulge with caution his
own tastes. Partly in order to conciliate the King, and partly,
no doubt, from inclination, he gave up a portion of his time to
military and political business, and thus gradually acquired
such an aptitude for affairs as his most intimate associates were
not aware that he possessed.

His favourite abode was at Rheinsberg, near the frontier which
separates the Prussian dominions from the Duchy of Mecklenburg.
Rheinsberg, is a fertile and smiling spot, in the midst of the
sandy waste of the Marquisate. The mansion, surrounded by woods
of oak and beech, looks out upon a spacious lake. There Frederic
amused himself by laying out gardens in regular alleys and
intricate mazes, by building obelisks, temples, and
conservatories, and by collecting rare fruits and flowers. His
retirement was enlivened by a few companions, among whom he seems
to have preferred those who, by birth or extraction, were French.
With these intimates he dined and supped well, drank freely, and
amused himself sometimes with concerts, and sometimes with
holding chapters of a fraternity which he called the Order of
Bayard; but literature was his chief resource.

His education had been entirely French. The long ascendency which
Lewis the Fourteenth had enjoyed, and the eminent merit of the
tragic and comic dramatists, of the satirists, and of the
preachers who had flourished under that magnificent prince, had
made the French language predominant in Europe. Even in countries
which had a national literature, and which could boast of names
greater than those of Racine, of Moliere, and of Massillon, in
the country of Dante, in the country of Cervantes, in the country
of Shakspeare and Milton, the intellectual fashions of Paris had
been to a great extent adopted. Germany had not yet produced a
single masterpiece of poetry or eloquence. In Germany, therefore,
the French taste reigned without rival and without limit. Every
youth of rank was taught to speak and write French. That he
should speak and write his own tongue with politeness, or even
with accuracy and facility, was regarded as comparatively an
unimportant object. Even Frederic William, with all his rugged
Saxon prejudices, thought it necessary that his children should
know French, and quite unnecessary that they should be well
versed in German. The Latin was positively interdicted. "My son,"
his Majesty wrote, "shall not learn Latin; and, more than that, I
will not suffer anybody even to mention such a thing to me." One
of the preceptors ventured to read the Golden Bull in the
original with the Prince Royal. Frederic William entered the
room, and broke out in his usual kingly style.

"Rascal, what are you at there?"

"Please your Majesty," answered the preceptor, "I was explaining
the Golden Bull to his Royal Highness."

"I'll Golden Bull you, you rascal! roared the Majesty of Prussia.
Up went the King's cane away ran the terrified instructor; and
Frederic's classical studies ended for ever. He now and then
affected to quote Latin sentences, and produced such exquisitely
Ciceronian phrases as these: "Stante pede morire"--"De gustibus
non est disputandus,"--"Tot verbas tot spondera." Of Italian, he
had not enough to read a page of Metastasio with ease; and of the
Spanish and English, he did not, as far as we are aware,
understand a single word.

As the highest human compositions to which he had access were
those of the French writers, it is not strange that his
admiration for those writers should have been unbounded. His
ambitious and eager temper early prompted him to imitate what he
admired. The wish, perhaps, dearest to his heart was, that he
might rank among the masters of French rhetoric and poetry. He
wrote prose and verse as indefatigably as if he had been a
starving hack of Cave or Osborn; but Nature, which had bestowed
on him, in a large measure, the talents of a captain and of an
administrator, had withheld from him those higher and rarer
gifts, without which industry labours in vain to produce immortal
eloquence and song. And, indeed, had he been blessed with more
imagination, wit, and fertility of thought, than he appears to
have had, he would still have been subject to one great
disadvantage, which would, in all probability, have for ever
prevented him from taking a high place among men of letters. He
had not the full command of any language. There was no machine of
thought which he could employ with perfect ease, confidence, and
freedom. He had German enough to scold his servants, or to give
the word of command to his grenadiers; but his grammar and
pronunciation were extremely bad. He found it difficult to make
out the meaning even of the simplest German poetry. On one
occasion a version of Racine's Iphigenie was read to him. He
held the French original in his hand; but was forced to own that,
even with such help, he could not understand the translation.
Yet, though he had neglected his mother tongue in order to bestow
all his attention on French, his French was, after all, the
French of a foreigner. It was necessary for him to have always at
his beck some men of letters from Paris to point out the
solecisms and false rhymes of which, to the last, he was
frequently guilty. Even had he possessed the poetic faculty, of
which, as far as we can judge, he was utterly destitute, the want
of a language would have prevented him from being a great poet.
No noble work of imagination, as far as we recollect, was ever
composed by any man, except in a dialect which he had learned
without remembering how or when, and which he had spoken with
perfect ease before he had ever analysed its structure. Romans of
great abilities wrote Greek verses; but how many of those verses
have deserved to live? Many men of eminent genius have, in modern
times, written Latin poems; but, as far as we are aware, none of
those poems, not even Milton's, can be ranked in the first class
of art, or even very high in the second. It is not strange,
therefore, that, in the French verses of Frederic, we can find
nothing beyond the reach of any man of good parts and industry,
nothing above the level of Newdigate and Seatonian poetry. His
best pieces may perhaps rank with the worst in Dodsley's
collection. In history, he succeeded better. We do not, indeed,
find, in any of his voluminous Memoirs, either deep reflection or
vivid painting. But the narrative is distinguished by clearness,
conciseness, good sense, and a certain air of truth and
simplicity, which is singularly graceful in a man who, having
done great things, sits down to relate them. On the whole,
however, none of his writings are so agreeable to us as his
Letters, particularly those which are written with earnestness,
and are not embroidered with verses.

It is not strange that a young man devoted to literature, and
acquainted only with the literature of France, should have looked
with profound veneration on the genius of Voltaire. "A man who
has never seen the sun," says Calderon, in one of his charming
comedies, "cannot be blamed for thinking that no glory can exceed
that of the moon. A man who has seen neither moon nor sun, cannot
be blamed for talking of the unrivalled brightness of the morning
star." Had Frederic been able to read Homer and Milton or even
Virgil and Tasso, his admiration of the Henriade would prove that
he was utterly destitute of the power of discerning what is
excellent in art. Had he been familiar with Sophocles or
Shakspeare, we should have expected him to appreciate Zaire more
justly. Had he been able to study Thucydides and Tacitus in the
original Greek and Latin, he would have known that there were
heights in the eloquence of history far beyond the reach of the
author of the Life of Charles the Twelfth. But the finest heroic
poem, several of the most powerful tragedies, and the most
brilliant and picturesque historical work that Frederic had ever
read, were Voltaire's. Such high and various excellence moved the
young Prince almost to adoration. The opinions of Voltaire on
religious and philosophical questions had not yet been fully
exhibited to the public. At a later period, when an exile from
his country, and at open war with the Church, he spoke out. But
when Frederic was at Rheinsberg, Voltaire was still a courtier;
and, though he could not always curb his petulant wit, he had as
yet published nothing that could exclude him from Versailles, and
little that a divine of the mild and generous school of Grotius
and Tillotson might not read with pleasure. In the Henriade, in
Zaire, and in Alzire, Christian piety is exhibited in the most
amiable form; and, some years after the period of which we are
writing, a Pope condescended to accept the dedication of Mahomet.
The real sentiments of the poet, however, might be clearly
perceived by a keen eye through the decent disguise with which he
veiled them, and could not escape the sagacity of Frederic, who
held similar opinions, and had been accustomed to practise
similar dissimulation.

The Prince wrote to his idol in the style of a worshipper; and
Voltaire replied with exquisite grace and address. A
correspondence followed, which may be studied with advantage by
those who wish to become proficients in the ignoble art of
flattery. No man ever paid compliments better than Voltaire. His
sweetest confectionery had always a delicate, yet stimulating
flavour, which was delightful to palates wearied by the coarse
preparations of inferior artists. It was only from his hand that
so much sugar could be swallowed without making the swallower
sick. Copies of verses, writing-desks, trinkets of amber, were
exchanged between the friends. Frederic confided his writings to
Voltaire; and Voltaire applauded, as if Frederic had been Racine
and Bossuet in one. One of his Royal Highness's performances was
a refutation of Machiavelli. Voltaire undertook to convey it to
the press. It was entitled the Anti-Machiavel, and was an
edifying homily against rapacity, perfidy, arbitrary government,
unjust war, in short, against almost everything for which its
author is now remembered among men.

The old King uttered now and then a ferocious growl at the
diversions of Rheinsberg. But his health was broken; his end was
approaching; and his vigour was impaired. He had only one
pleasure left, that of seeing tall soldiers. He could always be
propitiated by a present of a grenadier of six feet four or six
feet five; and such presents were from time to time judiciously
offered by his son.

Early in the year 1740, Frederic William met death with a
firmness and dignity worthy of a better and wiser man; and
Frederic, who had just completed his twenty-eighth year, became
King of Prussia. His character was little understood. That he had
good abilities, indeed, no person who had talked with him, or
corresponded with him, could doubt. But the easy Epicurean life
which he had led, his love of good cookery and good wine, of
music, of conversation, of light literature, led many to regard
him as a sensual and intellectual voluptuary. His habit of
canting about moderation, peace, liberty, and the happiness which
a good mind derives from the happiness of others, had imposed on
some who should have known better. Those who thought best of him,
expected a Telemachus after Fenelon's pattern. Others predicted
the approach of a Medicean age, an age propitious to learning and
art, and not unpropitious to pleasure. Nobody had the least
suspicion that a tyrant of extraordinary military and political
talents, of industry more extraordinary still, without fear,
without faith, and without mercy, had ascended the throne.

The disappointment of Falstaff at his old boon-companion's
coronation was not more bitter than that which awaited some of
the inmates of Rheinsberg. They had long looked forward to the
accession of their patron, as to the event from which their own
prosperity and greatness was to date. They had at last reached
the promised land, the land which they had figured to themselves
as flowing with milk and honey; and they found it a desert. "No
more of these fooleries," was the short, sharp admonition given
by Frederic to one of them. It soon became plain that, in the
most important points, the new sovereign bore a strong family
likeness to his predecessor. There was indeed a wide difference
between the father and the son as respected extent and vigour of
intellect, speculative opinions, amusements, studies, outward
demeanour. But the groundwork of the character was the same in
both. To both were common the love of order, the love of
business, the military taste, the parsimony, the imperious
spirit, the temper irritable even to ferocity, the pleasure in
the pain and humiliation of others. But these propensities had in
Frederic William partaken of the general unsoundness of his mind,
and wore a very different aspect when found in company with the
strong and cultivated understanding of his successor. Thus, for
example, Frederic was as anxious as any prince could be about the
efficiency of his army. But this anxiety never degenerated into a
monomania, like that which led his father to pay fancy prices for
giants. Frederic was as thrifty about money as any prince or any
private man ought to be. But he did not conceive, like his
father, that it was worth while to eat unwholesome cabbages for
the purpose of saving four or five rixdollars in the year.
Frederic was, we fear, as malevolent as his father; but
Frederic's wit enabled him often to show his malevolence in ways
more decent than those to which his father resorted, and to
inflict misery and degradation by a taunt instead of a blow.
Frederic, it is true, by no means relinquished his hereditary
privilege of kicking and cudgelling. His practice, however, as to
that matter, differed in some important respects from his
father's. To Frederic William, the mere circumstance that any
persons whatever, men, women, or children, Prussians or
foreigners, were within reach of his toes and of his cane,
appeared to be a sufficient reason for proceeding to belabour
them. Frederic required provocation as well as vicinity; nor was
he ever known to inflict this paternal species of correction on
any but his born subjects; though on one occasion M. Thiebault
had reason, during a few seconds, to anticipate the high honour
of being an exception to this general rule.

The character of Frederic was still very imperfectly understood
either by his subjects or by his neighbours, when events occurred
which exhibited it in a strong light. A few months after his
accession died Charles the Sixth, Emperor of Germany, the last
descendant, in the male line, of the House of Austria.

Charles left no son, and had, long before his death, relinquished
all hopes of male issue. During the latter part of his life, his
principal object had been to secure to his descendants in the
female line the many crowns of the House of Hapsburg. With this
view, he had promulgated a new law of succession, widely
celebrated throughout Europe under the name of the Pragmatic
Sanction. By virtue of this law, his daughter, the Archduchess
Maria Theresa, wife of Francis of Lorraine, succeeded to the
dominions of her ancestors.

No sovereign has ever taken possession of a throne by a clearer
title. All the politics of the Austrian cabinet had, during
twenty years, been directed to one single end, the settlement of
the succession. From every person whose rights could be
considered as injuriously affected, renunciations in the most
solemn form had been obtained. The new law had been ratified by
the Estates of all the kingdoms and principalities which made up
the great Austrian monarchy. England, France, Spain, Russia,
Poland, Prussia, Sweden, Denmark, the Germanic body, had bound
themselves by treaty to maintain the Pragmatic Sanction. That
instrument was placed under the protection of the public faith of
the whole civilised world.

Even if no positive stipulations on this subject had existed, the
arrangement was one which no good man would have been willing to
disturb. It was a peaceable arrangement. It was an arrangement
acceptable to the great population whose happiness was chiefly
concerned. It was an arrangement which made no change in the
distribution of power among the states of Christendom. It was an
arrangement which could be set aside only by means of a general
war; and, if it were set aside, the effect would be, that the
equilibrium of Europe would be deranged, that the loyal and
patriotic feelings of millions would be cruelly outraged, and
that great provinces which had been united for centuries would be
torn from each other by main force.

The sovereigns of Europe were, therefore, bound by every
obligation which those who are intrusted with power over their
fellow-creatures ought to hold most sacred, to respect and defend
the rights of the Archduchess. Her situation and her personal
qualities were such as might be expected to move the mind of any
generous man to pity, admiration, and chivalrous tenderness. She
was in her twenty-fourth year. Her form was majestic, her
features beautiful, her countenance sweet and animated, her voice
musical, her deportment gracious and dignified, In all domestic
relations she was without reproach. She was married to a husband
whom she loved, and was on the point of giving birth to a child,
when death deprived her of her father. The loss of a parent, and
the new cares of empire, were too much for her in the delicate
state of her health. Her spirits were depressed, and her cheek
lost its bloom. Yet it seemed that she had little cause for
anxiety. It seemed that justice, humanity, and the faith of
treaties would have their due weight, and that the settlement so
solemnly guaranteed would be quietly carried into effect.
England, Russia, Poland, and Holland, declared in form their
intention to adhere to their engagements. The French ministers
made a verbal declaration to the same effect. But from no quarter
did the young Queen of Hungary receive stronger assurances of
friendship and support than from the King of Prussia.

Yet the King of Prussia, the Anti-Machiavel, had already fully
determined to commit the great crime of violating his plighted
faith, of robbing the ally whom he was bound to defend, and of
plunging all Europe into a long, bloody, and desolating war; and
all this for no end whatever, except that he might extend his
dominions, and see his name in the gazettes. He determined to
assemble a great army with speed and secrecy, to invade Silesia
before Maria Theresa should be apprised of his design, and to add
that rich province to his kingdom.

We will not condescend to refute at length the pleas which the
compiler of the Memoirs before us has copied from Doctor Preuss.
They amount to this, that the House of Brandenburg had some
ancient pretensions to Silesia, and had in the previous century
been compelled, by hard usage on the part of the Court of Vienna,
to waive those pretensions. It is certain that, whoever might
originally have been in the right, Prussia had submitted. Prince
after prince of the House of Brandenburg had acquiesced in the
existing arrangement. Nay, the Court of Berlin had recently been
allied with that of Vienna, and had guaranteed the integrity of
the Austrian states. Is it not perfectly clear that, if
antiquated claims are to be set up against recent treaties and
long possession, the world can never be at peace for a day? The
laws of all nations have wisely established a time of limitation,
after which titles, however illegitimate in their origin, cannot
be questioned. It is felt by everybody, that to eject a person
from his estate on the ground of some injustice committed in the
time of the Tudors would produce all the evils which result from
arbitrary confiscation, and would make all property insecure. It
concerns the commonwealth--so runs the legal maxim--that there be
an end of litigation. And surely this maxim is at least equally
applicable to the great commonwealth of states; for in that
commonwealth litigation means the devastation of provinces, the
suspension of trade and industry, sieges like those of Badajoz
and St. Sebastian, pitched fields like those of Eylau and
Borodino. We hold that the transfer of Norway from Denmark to
Sweden was an unjustifiable proceeding; but would the King of
Denmark be therefore justified in landing, without any new
provocation in Norway, and commencing military operations there?
The King of Holland thinks, no doubt, that he was unjustly
deprived of the Belgian provinces. Grant that it were so. Would
he, therefore, be justified in marching with an army on Brussels?
The case against Frederic was still stronger, inasmuch as the
injustice of which he complained had been committed more than a
century before. Nor must it be forgotten that he owed the highest
personal obligations to the House of Austria. It may be doubted
whether his life had not been preserved by the intercession of
the prince whose daughter he was about to plunder.

To do the King justice, he pretended to no more virtue than he
had. In manifestoes he might, for form's sake, insert some idle
stories about his antiquated claim on Silesia; but in his
conversations and Memoirs he took a very different tone. His own
words are: "Ambition, interest, the desire of making people talk
about me, carried the day; and I decided for war."

Having resolved on his course, he acted with ability and vigour.
It was impossible wholly to conceal his preparations; for
throughout the Prussian territories regiments, guns, and baggage
were in motion. The Austrian envoy at Berlin apprised his court
of these facts, and expressed a suspicion of Frederic's designs;
but the ministers of Maria Theresa refused to give credit to so
black an imputation on a young prince, who was known chiefly by
his high professions of integrity and philanthropy. "We will
not," they wrote, "we cannot, believe it."

In the meantime the Prussian forces had been assembled. Without
any declaration of war, without any demand for reparation, in the
very act of pouring forth compliments and assurances of goodwill,
Frederic commenced hostilities. Many thousands of his troops were
actually in Silesia before the Queen of Hungary knew that he had
set up any claim to any part of her territories. At length he
sent her a message which could be regarded only as an insult. If
she would but let him have Silesia, he would, he said, stand by
her against any power which should try to deprive her of her
other dominions; as if he was not already bound to stand by her,
or as if his new promise could be of more value than the old one.

It was the depth of winter. The cold was severe, and the roads
heavy with mire. But the Prussians pressed on. Resistance was
impossible. The Austrian army was then neither numerous nor
efficient. The small portion of that army which lay in Silesia
was unprepared for hostilities. Glogau was blockaded; Breslau
opened its gates; Ohlau was evacuated. A few scattered garrisons
still held out; but the whole open country was subjugated: no
enemy ventured to encounter the King in the field; and, before
the end of January 1741, he returned to receive the
congratulations of his subjects at Berlin.

Had the Silesian question been merely a question between Frederic
and Maria Theresa, it would be impossible to acquit the Prussian
King of gross perfidy. But when we consider the effects which his
policy produced, and could not fail to produce, on the whole
community of civilised nations, we are compelled to pronounce a
condemnation still more severe. Till he began the war, it seemed
possible, even probable, that the peace of the world would be
preserved. The plunder of the great Austrian heritage was indeed
a strong temptation; and in more than one cabinet ambitious
schemes were already meditated. But the treaties by which the
Pragmatic Sanction had been guaranteed were express and recent.
To throw all Europe into confusion for a purpose clearly unjust,
was no light matter. England was true to her engagements. The
voice of Fleury had always been for peace. He had a conscience.
He was now in extreme old age, and was unwilling, after a life
which, when his situation was considered, must be pronounced
singularly pure, to carry the fresh stain of a great crime before
the tribunal of his God. Even the vain and unprincipled Belle-
Isle, whose whole life was one wild day-dream of conquest and
spoliation, felt that France, bound as she was by solemn
stipulations, could not, without disgrace, make a direct attack
on the Austrian dominions. Charles, Elector of Bavaria, pretended
that he had a right to a large part of the inheritance which the
Pragmatic Sanction gave to the Queen of Hungary; but he was not
sufficiently powerful to move without support. It might,
therefore, not unreasonably be expected that, after a short
period of restlessness, all the potentates of Christendom would
acquiesce in the arrangements made by the late Emperor. But the
selfish rapacity of the King of Prussia gave the signal to his
neighbours. His example quieted their sense of shame. His success
led them to underrate the difficulty of dismembering the Austrian
monarchy. The whole world sprang to arms. On the head of Frederic
is all the blood which was shed in a war which raged during many
years and in every quarter of the globe, the blood of the column
of Fontenoy, the blood of the mountaineers who were slaughtered
at Culloden. The evils produced by his wickedness were felt in
lands where the name of Prussia was unknown; and, in order that
he might rob a neighbour whom he had promised to defend, black
men fought on the coast of Coromandel, and red men scalped each
other by the Great Lakes of North America.

Silesia had been occupied without a battle; but the Austrian
troops were advancing to the relief of the fortresses which still
held out. In the spring Frederic rejoined his army. He had seen
little of war, and had never commanded any great body of men in
the field. It is not, therefore, strange that his first military
operations showed little of that skill which, at a later period,
was the admiration of Europe. What connoisseurs say of some
pictures painted by Raphael in his youth, may be said of this
campaign. It was in Frederic's early bad manner. Fortunately for
him, the generals to whom he was opposed were men of small
capacity. The discipline of his own troops, particularly of the
infantry, was unequalled in that age; and some able and
experienced officers were at hand to assist him with their
advice. Of these, the most distinguished was Field-Marshal
Schwerin, a brave adventurer of Pomeranian extraction, who had
served half the governments in Europe, had borne the commissions
of the States-General of Holland and of the Duke of Mecklenburg,
had fought under Marlborough at Blenheim, and had been with
Charles the Twelfth at Bender.

Frederic's first battle was fought at Molwitz; and never did the
career of a great commander open in a more inauspicious manner.
His army was victorious. Not only, however, did he not establish
his title to the character of an able general; but he was so
unfortunate as to make it doubtful whether he possessed the
vulgar courage of a soldier. The cavalry, which he commanded in
person, was put to flight. Unaccustomed to the tumult and carnage
of a field of battle, he lost his self-possession, and listened
too readily to those who urged him to save himself. His English
grey carried him many miles from the field, while Schwerin,
though wounded in two places, manfully upheld the day. The skill
of the old Field-Marshal and the steadiness of the Prussian
battalions prevailed; and the Austrian army was driven from the
field with the loss of eight thousand men.

The news was carried late at night to a mill in which the King
had taken shelter. It gave him a bitter pang. He was successful;
but he owed his success to dispositions which others had made,
and to the valour of men who had fought while he was flying. So
unpromising was the first appearance of the greatest warrior of
that age.

The battle of Molwitz was the signal for a general explosion
throughout Europe. Bavaria took up arms. France, not yet
declaring herself a principal in the war, took part in it as an
ally of Bavaria. The two great statesmen to whom mankind had owed
many years of tranquillity, disappeared about this time from the
scene, but not till they had both been guilty of the weakness of
sacrificing their sense of justice and their love of peace to the
vain hope of preserving their power. Fleury, sinking under age
and infirmity, was borne down by the impetuosity of Belle-Isle.
Walpole retired from the service of his ungrateful country to his
woods and paintings at Houghton; and his power devolved on the
daring and eccentric Carteret. As were the ministers, so were the
nations. Thirty years during which Europe had, with few
interruptions, enjoyed repose, had prepared the public mind for
great military efforts. A new generation had grown up, which
could not remember the siege of Turin or the slaughter of
Malplaquet; which knew war by nothing but its trophies; and
which, while it looked with pride on the tapestries at Blenheim,
or the statue in the Place of Victories, little thought by what
privations, by what waste of private fortunes, by how many bitter
tears, conquests must be purchased.

For a time fortune seemed adverse to the Queen of Hungary.
Frederic invaded Moravia. The French and Bavarians penetrated
into Bohemia, and were there joined by the Saxons. Prague was
taken. The Elector of Bavaria was raised by the suffrages of his
colleagues to the Imperial throne, a throne which the practice of
centuries had almost entitled the House of Austria to regard as a
hereditary possession.

Yet was the spirit of the haughty daughter of the Caesars
unbroken. Hungary was still hers by an unquestionable title; and
although her ancestors had found Hungary the most mutinous of all
their kingdoms, she resolved to trust herself to the fidelity of
a people, rude indeed, turbulent, and impatient of oppression,
but brave, generous, and simple-hearted. In the midst of distress
and peril she had given birth to a son, afterwards the Emperor
Joseph the Second. Scarcely had she arisen from her couch, when
she hastened to Presburg. There, in the sight of an innumerable
multitude, she was crowned with the crown and robed with the robe
of St. Stephen. No spectator could restrain his tears when the
beautiful young mother, still weak from child-bearing, rode,
after the fashion of her fathers, up the Mount of Defiance,
unsheathed the ancient sword of state, shook it towards north and
south, east and west, and, with a glow on her pale face,
challenged the four corners of the world to dispute her rights
and those of her boy. At the first sitting of the Diet she
appeared clad in deep mourning for her father, and in pathetic
and dignified words implored her people to support her just
cause. Magnates and deputies sprang up, half drew their sabres,
and with eager voices vowed to stand by her with their lives and
fortunes. Till then, her firmness had never once forsaken her
before the public eye; but at that shout she sank down upon her
throne, and wept aloud. Still more touching was the sight when, a
few days later, she came again before the Estates of her realm,
and held up before them the little Archduke in her arms. Then it
was that the enthusiasm of Hungary broke forth into that war-cry
which soon resounded throughout Europe, "Let us die for our King,
Maria Theresa!"

In the meantime, Frederic was meditating a change of policy. He
had no wish to raise France to supreme power on the Continent, at
the expense of the House of Hapsburg. His first object was to rob
the Queen of Hungary. His second object was that, if possible,
nobody should rob her but himself. He had entered into
engagements with the powers leagued against Austria; but these
engagements were in his estimation of no more force than the
guarantee formerly given to the Pragmatic Sanction. His plan now
was to secure his share of the plunder by betraying his
accomplices. Maria Theresa was little inclined to listen to any
such compromise; but the English Government represented to her so
strongly the necessity of buying off Frederic, that she agreed to
negotiate. The negotiation would not, however, have ended in a
treaty, had not the arms of Frederic been crowned with a second
victory. Prince Charles of Lorraine, brother-in-law to Maria
Theresa, a bold and active, though unfortunate general, gave
battle to the Prussians at Chotusitz, and was defeated. The King
was still only a learner of the military art. He acknowledged, at
a later period, that his success on this occasion was to be
attributed, not at all to his own generalship, but solely to the
valour and steadiness of his troops. He completely effaced,
however, by his personal courage and energy, the stain which
Molwitz had left on his reputation.

A peace, concluded under the English mediation, was the fruit of
this battle. Maria Theresa ceded Silesia: Frederic abandoned his
allies: Saxony followed his example; and the Queen was left at
liberty to turn her whole force against France and Bavaria. She
was everywhere triumphant. The French were compelled to evacuate
Bohemia, and with difficulty effected their escape. The whole
line of their retreat might be tracked by the corpses of
thousands who had died of cold, fatigue, and hunger. Many of
those who reached their country carried with them the seeds of
death. Bavaria was overrun by bands of ferocious warriors from
that bloody debatable land which lies on the frontier between
Christendom and Islam. The terrible names of the Pandoor, the
Croat, and the Hussar, then first became familiar to Western
Europe. The unfortunate Charles of Bavaria, vanquished by
Austria, betrayed by Prussia, driven from his hereditary states,
and neglected by his allies, was hurried by shame and remorse to
an untimely end. An English army appeared in the heart of
Germany, and defeated the French at Dettingen. The Austrian
captains already began to talk of completing the work of
Marlborough and Eugene, and of compelling France to relinquish
Alsace and the three Bishoprics.

The Court of Versailles, in this peril, looked to Frederic for
help. He had been guilty of two great treasons: perhaps he might
be induced to commit a third. The Duchess of Chateauroux then
held the chief influence over the feeble Lewis. She, determined
to send an agent to Berlin; and Voltaire was selected for the
mission. He eagerly undertook the task; for, while his literary
fame filled all Europe, he was troubled with a childish craving
for political distinction. He was vain, and not without reason,
of his address, and of his insinuating eloquence: and he
himself that he possessed boundless influence over the King of
Prussia. The truth was that he knew, as yet, only one corner of
Frederic's character. He was well acquainted with all the petty
vanities and affectations of the poetaster; but was not aware
that these foibles were united with all the talents and vices
which lead to success in active life, and that the unlucky
versifier who pestered him with reams of middling Alexandrines,
was the most vigilant, suspicious, and severe of politicians.

Voltaire was received with every mark of respect and friendship,
was lodged in the palace, and had a seat daily at the royal
table. The negotiation was of an extraordinary description.
Nothing can be conceived more whimsical than the conferences
which took place between the first literary man and the first
practical man of the age, whom a strange weakness had induced to
exchange their parts. The great poet would talk of nothing but
treaties and guarantees, and the great King of nothing but
metaphors and rhymes. On one occasion Voltaire put into his
Majesty's hands a paper on the state of Europe, and received it
back with verses scrawled on the margin. In secret they both
laughed at each other. Voltaire did not spare the King's poems;
and the King has left on record his opinion of Voltaire's
diplomacy. "He had no credentials," says Frederic, "and the whole
mission was a joke, a mere farce."

But what the influence of Voltaire could not effect, the rapid
progress of the Austrian arms effected. If it should be in the
power of Maria Theresa and George the Second to dictate terms of
peace to France, what chance was there that Prussia would long
retain Silesia? Frederic's conscience told him that he had acted
perfidiously and inhumanly towards the Queen of Hungary. That her
resentment was strong she had given ample proof; and of her
respect for treaties he judged by his own. Guarantees, he said,
were mere filigree, pretty to look at, but too brittle to bear
the slightest pressure. He thought it his safest course to ally
himself closely to France, and again to attack the Empress Queen.
Accordingly, in the autumn of 1744, without notice, without any
decent pretext, he recommenced hostilities, marched through the
electorate of Saxony without troubling himself about the
permission of the Elector, invaded Bohemia, took Prague, and even
menaced Vienna.

It was now that, for the first time, he experienced the
inconstancy of fortune. An Austrian army under Charles of
Lorraine threatened his communications with Silesia. Saxony was
all in arms behind him. He found it necessary to save himself by
a retreat. He afterwards owned that his failure was the natural
effect of his own blunders. No general, he said, had ever
committed greater faults. It must be added, that to the reverses
of this campaign he always ascribed his subsequent successes. It
was in the midst of difficulty and disgrace that he caught the
first clear glimpse of the principles of the military art.

The memorable year 1745 followed. The war raged by sea and land,
in Italy, in Germany, and in Flanders; and even England, after
many years of profound internal quiet, saw, for the last time,
hostile armies set in battle array against each other. This year
is memorable in the life of Frederic, as the date at which his
noviciate in the art of war may be said to have terminated. There
have been great captains whose precocious and self-taught
military skill resembled intuition. Conde, Clive, and Napoleon
are examples. But Frederic was not one of these brilliant
portents. His proficiency in military science was simply the
proficiency which a man of vigorous faculties makes in any
science to which he applies his mind with earnestness and
industry. It was at Hohenfriedberg that he first proved how much
he had profited by his errors, and by their consequences. His
victory on that day was chiefly due to his skilful dispositions,
and convinced Europe that the prince who, a few years before, had
stood aghast in the rout of Molwitz, had attained in the military
art a mastery equalled by none of his contemporaries, or equalled
by Saxe alone. The victory of Hohenfriedberg was speedily
followed by that of Sorr.

In the meantime, the arms of France had been victorious in the
Low Countries. Frederic had no longer reason to fear that Maria
Theresa would be able to give law to Europe, and he began to
meditate a fourth breach of his engagements. The Court of
Versailles was alarmed and mortified. A letter of earnest
expostulation, in the handwriting of Lewis, was sent to Berlin;
but in vain. In the autumn of 1745, Frederic made Peace with
England, and, before the close of the year, with Austria also.
The pretensions of Charles of Bavaria could present no obstacle
to an accommodation. That unhappy Prince was no more; and Francis
of Lorraine, the husband of Maria Theresa, was raised, with the
general assent of the Germanic body, to the Imperial throne.

Prussia was again at peace; but the European war lasted till, in
the year 1748, it was terminated by the treaty of Aix-la
Chapelle. Of all the powers that had taken part in it, the only
gainer was Frederic. Not only had he added to his patrimony the
fine province of Silesia: he had, by his unprincipled dexterity,
succeeded so well in alternately depressing the scale of Austria
and that of France, that he was generally regarded as holding the
balance of Europe, a high dignity for one who ranked lowest among
kings, and whose great-grandfather had been no more than a
Margrave. By the public, the King of Prussia was considered as a
politician destitute alike of morality and decency, insatiably
rapacious, and shamelessly false; nor was the public much in the
wrong. He was at the same time, allowed to be a man of parts, a
rising general, a shrewd negotiator and administrator. Those
qualities wherein he surpassed all mankind, were as yet unknown
to others or to himself; for they were qualities which shine out
only on a dark ground. His career had hitherto, with little
interruption, been prosperous; and it was only in adversity, in
adversity which seemed without hope or resource, in adversity
which would have overwhelmed even men celebrated for strength of
mind, that his real greatness could be shown.

He had, from the commencement of his reign, applied himself to
public business after a fashion unknown among kings. Lewis the
Fourteenth, indeed, had been his own prime minister, and had
exercised a general superintendence over all the departments of
the Government; but this was not sufficient for Frederic. He was
not content with being his own prime minister: he would be his
own sole minister. Under him there was no room, not merely for a
Richelieu or a Mazarin, but for a Colbert, a Louvois, or a Torcy.
A love of labour for its own sake, a restless and insatiable
longing to dictate, to intermeddle, to make his power felt, a
profound scorn and distrust of his fellow-creatures, made him
unwilling to ask counsel, to confide important secrets, to
delegate ample powers. The highest functionaries under his
government were mere clerks, and were not so much trusted by him
as valuable clerks are often trusted by the heads of departments.
He was his own treasurer, his own commander-in-chief, his own
intendant of public works, his own minister for trade and
justice, for home affairs and foreign affairs, his own master of
the horse, steward, and chamberlain. Matters of which no chief of
an office in any other government would ever hear, were, in this
singular monarchy, decided by the King in person. If a traveller
wished for a good place to see a review, he had to write to
Frederic, and received next day, from a royal messenger,
Frederic's answer signed by Frederic's own hand. This was an
extravagant, a morbid activity. The public business would
assuredly have been better done if each department had been put
under a man of talents and integrity, and if the King had
contented himself with a general control. In this manner the
advantages which belong to unity of design, and the advantages
which belong to the division of labour, would have been to a
great extent combined. But such a system would not have suited
the peculiar temper of Frederic. He could tolerate no will, no
reason, in the State, save his own. He wished for no abler
assistance than that of penmen who had just understanding enough
to translate and transcribe, to make out his scrawls, and to put
his concise Yes and No into an official form. Of the higher
intellectual faculties, there is as much in a copying machine, or
a lithographic press, as he required from a secretary of the

His own exertions were such as were hardly to be expected from a
human body or a human mind. At Potsdam, his ordinary residence,
he rose at three in summer and four in winter. A page soon
appeared, with a large basket full of all the letters which had
arrived for the King by the last courier, despatches from
ambassadors, reports from officers of revenue, plans of
buildings, proposals for draining marshes, complaints from
persons who thought themselves aggrieved, applications from
persons who wanted titles, military commissions, and civil
situations. He examined the seals with a keen eye; for he was
never for a moment free from the suspicion that some fraud might
be practised on him. Then he read the letters, divided them into
several packets, and signified his pleasure, generally by a mark,
often by two or three words, now and then by some cutting
epigram. By eight he had generally finished this part of his
task. The adjutant-general was then in attendance, and received
instructions for the day as to all the military arrangements of
the kingdom. Then the King went to review his guards, not as
kings ordinarily review their guards, but with the minute
attention and severity of an old drill-sergeant. In the meantime
the four cabinet secretaries had been employed in answering the
letters on which the King had that morning signified his will.
These unhappy men were forced to work all the year round like
negro slaves in the time of the sugar-crop. They never had a
holiday. They never knew what it was to dine. It was necessary
that, before they stirred, they should finish the whole of their
work. The King, always on his guard against treachery, took from
the heap a handful of letters at random, and looked into them to
see whether his instructions had been exactly followed. This was
no bad security against foul play on the part of the secretaries;
for if one of them were detected in a trick, he might think
himself fortunate if he escaped with five years of imprisonment
in a dungeon. Frederic then signed the replies, and all were sent
off the same evening.

The general principles on which this strange government was
conducted, deserve attention. The policy of Frederic was
essentially the same as his father's; but Frederic, while he
carried that policy to lengths to which his father never thought
of carrying it, cleared it at the same time from the absurdities
with which his father had encumbered it. The King's first object
was to have a great, efficient, and well-trained army. He had a
kingdom which in extent and population was hardly in the second
rank of European powers; and yet he aspired to a place not
inferior to that of the sovereigns of England, France, and
Austria. For that end it was necessary that Prussia should be all
sting. Lewis the Fifteenth, with five times as many subjects as
Frederic, and more than five times as large a revenue, had not a
more formidable army. The proportion which the soldiers in
Prussia bore to the people seems hardly credible. Of the males in
the vigour of life, a seventh part were probably under arms; and
this great force had, by drilling, by reviewing, and by the
unsparing use of cane and scourge, been taught to form all
evolutions with a rapidity and a precision which would have
astonished Villars or Eugene. The elevated feelings which are
necessary to the best kind of army were then wanting to the
Prussian service. In those ranks were not found the religious and
political enthusiasm which inspired the pikemen of Cromwell, the
patriotic ardour, the thirst of glory, the devotion to a great
leader, which inflamed the Old Guard of Napoleon. But in all the
mechanical parts of the military calling, the Prussians were as
superior to the English and French troops of that day as the
English and French troops to a rustic militia.

Though the pay of the Prussian soldier was small, though every
rixdollar of extraordinary charge was scrutinised by Frederic
with a vigilance and suspicion such as Mr. Joseph Hume never
brought to the examination of an army estimate, the expense of
such an establishment was, for the means of the country,
enormous. In order that it might not be utterly ruinous, it was
necessary that every other expense should be cut down to the
lowest possible point. Accordingly Frederic, though his dominions
bordered on the sea, had no navy. He neither had nor wished to
have colonies. His judges, his fiscal officers, were meanly paid.
His ministers at foreign courts walked on foot, or drove shabby
old carriages till the axle-trees gave way. Even to his highest
diplomatic agents, who resided at London and Paris, he allowed
less than a thousand pounds sterling a year. The royal household
was managed with a frugality unusual in the establishments of
opulent subjects, unexampled in any other palace. The King loved
good eating and drinking, and during great part of his life took
pleasure in seeing his table surrounded by guests; yet the whole
charge of his kitchen was brought within the sum of two thousand
pounds sterling a year. He examined every extraordinary item with
a care which might be thought to suit the mistress of a boarding-
house better than a great prince. When more than four rixdollars
were asked of him for a hundred oysters, he stormed as if he had
heard that one of his generals had sold a fortress to the Empress
Queen. Not a bottle of champagne was uncorked without his express
order. The game of the royal parks and forests, a serious head of
expenditure in most kingdoms, was to him a source of profit. The
whole was farmed out; and though the farmers were almost ruined
by their contract, the King would grant them no remission. His
wardrobe consisted of one fine gala dress, which lasted him all
his life; of two or three old coats fit for Monmouth Street, of
yellow waistcoats soiled with snuff, and of huge boots embrowned
by time. One taste alone sometimes allured him beyond the limits
of parsimony, nay, even beyond the limits of prudence, the taste
for building. In all other things his economy was such as we
might call by a harsher name, if we did not reflect that his
funds were drawn from a heavily taxed people, and that it was
impossible for him, without excessive tyranny, to keep up at once
a formidable army and a splendid court.

Considered as an administrator, Frederic had undoubtedly many
titles to praise. Order was strictly maintained throughout his
dominions. Property was secure. A great liberty of speaking and
of writing was allowed. Confident in the irresistible strength
derived from a great army, the King looked down on malcontents
and libellers with a wise disdain; and gave little encouragement
to spies and informers. When he was told of the disaffection of
one of his subject, he merely asked, "How many thousand men can
he bring into the field?" He once saw a crowd staring at
something on a wall. He rode up and found that the object of
curiosity was a scurrilous placard against himself. The placard
had been posted up so high that it was not easy to read it.
Frederic ordered his attendants to take it down and put it lower.
"My people and I," he said, "have come to an agreement which
satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to
do what I please." No person would have dared to publish in
London satires on George the Second approaching to the atrocity
of those satires on Frederic, which the booksellers at Berlin
sold with impunity. One bookseller sent to the palace a copy of
the most stinging lampoon that perhaps was ever written in the
world, the Memoirs of Voltaire, published by Beaumarchais, and
asked for his Majesty's orders. "Do not advertise it in an
offensive manner," said the King; "but sell it by all means. I
hope it will pay you well." Even among statesmen accustomed to
the licence of a free press, such steadfastness of mind as this
is not very common.

It is due also to the memory of Frederic to say that he earnestly
laboured to secure to his people the great blessing of cheap and
speedy Justice. He was one of the first rulers who abolished the
cruel and absurd practice of torture. No sentence of death,
pronounced by the ordinary tribunals, was executed without his
sanction; and his sanction, except in cases of murder, was rarely
given. Towards his troops he acted in a very different manner.
Military offences were punished with such barbarous scourging
that to be shot was considered by the Prussian soldier as a
secondary punishment. Indeed, the principle which pervaded
Frederic's whole policy was this, that the more severely the army
is governed, the safer it is to treat the rest of the community
with lenity.

Religious persecution was unknown under his government, unless
some foolish and unjust restrictions which lay upon the Jews may
be regarded as forming an exception. His policy with respect to
the Catholics of Silesia presented an honourable contrast to the
policy which, under very similar circumstances, England long
followed with respect to the Catholics of Ireland. Every form of
religion and irreligion found an asylum in the States. The
scoffer whom the parliaments of France had sentenced to a cruel
death, was consoled by a commission in the Prussian service. The
Jesuit who could show his face nowhere else, who in Britain was
still subject to penal laws, who was proscribed by France, Spain,
Portugal, and Naples, who had been given up even by the Vatican,
found safety and the means of subsistence in the Prussian

Most of the vices of Frederic's administration resolve selves
into one vice, the spirit of meddling. The indefatigable activity
of his intellect, his dictatorial temper, his military habits,
all inclined him to this great fault. He drilled his people as he
drilled his grenadiers. Capital and industry were diverted from
their natural direction by a crowd of preposterous regulations.
There was a monopoly of coffee, a monopoly of tobacco, a monopoly
of refined sugar. The public money, of which the King was
generally so sparing, was lavishly spent in ploughing bogs, in
planting mulberry trees amidst the sand, in bringing sheep from
Spain to improve the Saxon wool, in bestowing prizes for fine
yarn, in building manufactories of porcelain, manufactories of
carpets, manufactories of hardware, manufactories of lace.
Neither the experience of other rulers, nor his own, could ever
teach him that something more than an edict and a grant of public
money was required to create a Lyons, a Brussels, or a

For his commercial policy, however, there was some excuse. He had
on his side illustrious examples and popular prejudice.
Grievously as he erred, he erred in company with his age. In
other departments his meddling was altogether without apology. He
interfered with the course of justice as well as with the course
of trade; and set up his own crude notions of equity against the
law as expounded by the unanimous voice of the gravest
magistrates. It never occurred to him that men whose lives were
passed in adjudicating on questions of civil right were more
likely to form correct opinions on such questions than a prince
whose attention was divided among a thousand objects, and who had
never read a law-book through. The resistance opposed to him by
the tribunals inflamed him to fury. He reviled his Chancellor. He
kicked the shins of his judges. He did not, it is true, intend to
act unjustly. He firmly believed that he was doing right, and
defending the cause of the poor against the wealthy. Yet this
well-meant meddling probably did far more harm than all the
explosions of his evil passions during the whole of his long
reign. We could make shift to live under a debauchee or a tyrant;
but to be ruled by a busybody is more than human nature can bear.

The same passion for directing and regulating appeared in every
part of the King's policy. Every lad of a certain station in life
was forced to go to certain schools within the Prussian
dominions. If a young Prussian repaired, though but for a few
weeks, to Leyden or Gottingen for the purpose of study, the
offence was punished with civil disabilities, and sometimes with
the confiscation of property. Nobody was to travel without the
royal permission. If the permission were granted, the pocket-
money of the tourist was fixed by royal ordinance. A merchant
might take with him two hundred and fifty rixdollars in gold,
a noble was allowed to take four hundred; for it may be observed,
in passing, that Frederic studiously kept up the old distinction
between the nobles and the community. In speculation, he was
a French philosopher, but in action, a German prince. He talked
and wrote about the privileges of blood in the style of Sieyes;
but in practice no chapter in the empire looked with a keener
eye to genealogies and quarterings.

Such was Frederic the Ruler. But there was another Frederic, the
Frederic of Rheinsberg, the fiddler and flute-player, the
poetaster and metaphysician. Amidst the cares of State the King
had retained his passion for music, for reading, for writing, for
literary society. To these amusements he devoted all the time
that he could snatch from the business of war and government; and
perhaps more light is thrown on his character by what passed
during his hours of relaxation, than by his battles or his laws.

It was the just boast of Schiller that, in his country, no
Augustus, no Lorenzo, had watched over the infancy of poetry. The
rich and energetic language of Luther, driven by the Latin from
the schools of pedants, and by the French from the palaces of
kings, had taken refuge among the people. Of the powers of that
language Frederic had no notion. He generally spoke of it, and of
those who used it, with the contempt of ignorance. His library
consisted of French books; at his table nothing was heard but
French conversation. The associates of his hours of relaxation
were, for the most part, foreigners. Britain furnished to the
royal circle two distinguished men, born in the highest rank, and
driven by civil dissensions from the land to which, under happier
circumstances, their talents and virtues might have been a source
of strength and glory. George Keith, Earl Marischal of Scotland,
had taken arms for the House of Stuart in 1715; and his younger
brother James, then only seventeen years old, had fought
gallantly by his side. When all was lost they retired together to
the Continent, roved from country to country, served under
various standards, and so bore themselves as to win the respect
and good-will of many who had no love for the Jacobite cause.
Their long wanderings terminated at Potsdam; nor had Frederic any
associates who deserved or obtained so large a share of his
esteem. They were not only accomplished men, but nobles and
warriors, capable of serving him in war and diplomacy, as well as
of amusing him at supper. Alone of all his companions, they
appear never to have had reason to complain of his demeanour
towards them. Some of those who knew the palace best pronounced
that the Lord Marischal was the only human being whom Frederic
ever really loved.

Italy sent to the parties at Potsdam the ingenious and amiable
Algarotti, and Bastiani, the most crafty, cautious, and servile
of Abbes. But the greater part of the society which Frederic had
assembled round him, was drawn from France. Maupertuis had
acquired some celebrity by the journey which he had made to
Lapland, for the purpose of ascertaining, by actual measurement,
the shape of our planet. He was placed in the chair of the
Academy of Berlin, a humble imitation of the renowned academy of
Paris. Baculard D'Arnaud, a young poet, who was thought to have
given promise of great things, had been induced to quit his
country, and to reside at the Prussian Court. The Marquess
D'Argens was among the King's favourite companions, on account,
as it should seem, of the strong opposition between their
characters. The parts of D'Argens were good, and his manners
those of a finished French gentleman; but his whole soul was
dissolved in sloth, timidity, and self-indulgence. He was one of
that abject class of minds which are superstitious without being
religious. Hating Christianity with a rancour which made him
incapable of rational inquiry, unable to see in the harmony and
beauty of the universe the traces of divine power and wisdom, he
was the slave of dreams and omens, would not sit down to table
with thirteen in company, turned pale if the salt fell towards
him, begged his guests not to cross their knives and forks on
their plates, and would not for the world commence a journey on
Friday. His health was a subject of constant anxiety to him.
Whenever his head ached, or his pulse beat quick, his dastardly
fears and effeminate precautions were the jest of all Berlin. All
this suited the King's purpose admirably. He wanted somebody by
whom he might be amused, and whom he might despise. When he
wished to pass half an hour in easy polished conversation,
D'Argens was an excellent companion; when he wanted to vent his
spleen and contempt, D'Argens was an excellent butt.

With these associates, and others of the same class, Frederic
loved to spend the time which he could steal from public cares.
He wished his supper parties to be gay and easy. He invited his
guests to lay aside all restraint, and to forget that he was at
the head of a hundred and sixty thousand soldiers, and was
absolute master of the life and liberty of ail who sat at meat
with him. There was, therefore, at these parties the outward show
of ease. The wit and learning of the company were ostentatiously
displayed. The discussions on history and literature were often
highly interesting. But the absurdity of all the religions known
among men was the chief topic of conversation; and the audacity
with which doctrines and names venerated throughout Christendom
were treated on these occasions startled even persons accustomed
to the society of French and English freethinkers. Real liberty,
however, or real affection, was in this brilliant society not to
be found. Absolute kings seldom have friends: and Frederic's
faults were such as, even where perfect equality exists, make
friendship exceedingly precarious. He had indeed many qualities
which, on a first acquaintance were captivating. His conversation
was lively; his manners, to those whom he desired to please, were
even caressing. No man could flatter with more delicacy. No man
succeeded more completely in inspiring those who approached him
with vague hopes of some great advantage from his kindness. But
under this fair exterior he was a tyrant, suspicious, disdainful,
and malevolent. He had one taste which may be pardoned in a boy,
but which, when habitually and deliberately indulged by a man of
mature age and strong understanding, is almost invariably the
sign of a bad heart--a taste for severe practical jokes. If a
courtier was fond of dress, oil was flung over his richest suit.
If he was fond of money, some prank was invented to make him
disburse more than he could spare. If he was hypochondriacal, he
was made to believe that he had the dropsy. If he had
particularly set his heart on visiting a place, a letter was
forged to frighten him from going thither. These things, it may
be said, are trifles. They are so; but they are indications, not
to be mistaken, of a nature to which the sight of human suffering
and human degradation is an agreeable excitement.

Frederic had a keen eye for the foibles of others, and loved to
communicate his discoveries. He had some talent for sarcasm, and
considerable skill in detecting the sore places where sarcasm
would be most acutely felt. His vanity, as well as his malignity,
found gratification in the vexation and confusion of those who
smarted under his caustic jests. Yet in truth his success on
these occasions belonged quite as much to the king as to the wit.
We read that Commodus descended, sword in hand, into the arena,
against a wretched gladiator, armed only with a foil of lead,
and, after shedding the blood of the helpless victim, struck
medals to commemorate the inglorious victory. The triumphs of
Frederic in the war of repartee were of much the same kind. How
to deal with him was the most puzzling of questions. To appear
constrained in his presence was to disobey his commands, and to
spoil his amusement. Yet if his associates were enticed by his
graciousness to indulge in the familiarity of a cordial
intimacy, he was certain to make them repent of their presumption
by some cruel humiliation. To resent his affronts was perilous;
yet not to resent them was to deserve and to invite them. In his
view, those who mutinied were insolent and ungrateful; those who
submitted were curs made to receive bones and kickings with the
same fawning patience. It is, indeed, difficult to conceive how
anything short of the rage of hunger should have induced men to
bear the misery of being the associates of the Great King. It was
no lucrative post. His Majesty was as severe and economical in
his friendships as in the other charges of his establishment, and
as unlikely to give a rixdollar too much for his guests as for
his dinners. The sum which he allowed to a poet or a philosopher
was the very smallest sum for which such poet or philosopher
could be induced to sell himself into slavery; and the bondsman
might think himself fortunate, if what had been so grudgingly
given was not, after years of suffering, rudely and arbitrarily

Potsdam was, in truth, what it was called by one of its most
illustrious inmates, the Palace of Alcina, At the first glance it
seemed to be a delightful spot, where every intellectual and
physical enjoyment awaited the happy adventurer. Every newcomer
was received with eager hospitality, intoxicated with flattery,
encouraged to expect prosperity and greatness. It was in vain
that a long succession of favourites who had entered that abode
with delight and hope, and who, after a short term of delusive
happiness, had been doomed to expiate their folly by years of
wretchedness and degradation, raised their voices to warn the
aspirant who approached the charmed threshold. Some had wisdom
enough to discover the truth early, and spirit enough to fly
without looking back; others lingered on to a cheerless and
unhonoured old age. We have no hesitation in saying that the
poorest author of that time in London, sleeping on a bulk, dining
in a cellar, with a cravat of paper, and a skewer for a shirt-
pin, was a happier man than any of the literary inmates of
Frederic's Court.

But of all who entered the enchanted garden in the inebriation of
delight, and quitted it in agonies of rage and shame, the most
remarkable was Voltaire. Many circumstances had made him desirous
of finding a home at a distance from his country. His fame had
raised him up enemies. His sensibility gave them a formidable
advantage over him. They were, indeed, contemptible assailants.
Of all that they wrote against him, nothing has survived except
what he has himself preserved. But the constitution of his mind
resembled the constitution of those bodies in which the slightest
scratch of a bramble, or the bite of a gnat, never fails to
fester. Though his reputation was rather raised than lowered by
the abuse of such writers as Freron and Desfontaines, though the
vengeance which he took on Freron and Desfontaines was such, that
scourging, branding, pillorying, would have been a trifle to it,
there is reason to believe that they gave him far more pain than
he ever gave them. Though he enjoyed during his own lifetime the
reputation of a classic, though he was extolled by his
contemporaries above all poets, philosophers, and historians,
though his works were read with as much delight and admiration at
Moscow and Westminster, at Florence and Stockholm, as at Paris
itself, he was yet tormented by that restless jealousy which
should seem to belong only to minds burning with the desire of
fame, and yet conscious of impotence. To men of letters who could
by no possibility be his rivals, he was, if they behaved well to
him, not merely just, not merely courteous, but often a hearty
friend and a munificent benefactor. But to every writer who rose
to a celebrity approaching his own, he became either a disguised
or an avowed enemy. He slily depreciated Montesquieu and Buffon.
He publicly, and with violent outrage, made war on Rousseau. Nor
had he the heart of hiding his feelings under the semblance of
good humour or of contempt. With all his great talents, and all
his long experience of the world, he had no more self-command
than a petted child, or a hysterical woman. Whenever he was
mortified, he exhausted the whole rhetoric of anger and sorrow to
express his mortification. His torrents of bitter words, his
stamping and cursing, his grimaces and his tears of rage, were a
rich feast to those abject natures, whose delight is in the
agonies of powerful spirits and in the abasement of immortal
names. These creatures had now found out a way of galling him to
the very quick. In one walk, at least, it had been admitted by
envy itself that he was without a living competitor. Since Racine
had been laid among the great men whose dust made the holy
precinct of Port-Royal holier, no tragic poet had appeared who
could contest the palm with the author of Zaire, of Alzire, and
of Merope. At length a rival was announced. Old Crebillon, who,
many years before, had obtained some theatrical success, and who
had long been forgotten, came forth from his garret in one of the
meanest lanes near the Rue St. Antoine, and was welcomed by the
acclamations of envious men of letters, and of a capricious
populace. A thing called Catiline, which he had written in his
retirement, was acted with boundless applause. Of this execrable
piece it is sufficient to say, that the plot turns on a love
affair, carried on in all the forms of Scudery, between Catiline,
whose confidant is the Praetor Lentulus, and Tullia, the daughter
of Cicero. The theatre resounded with acclamations. The King
pensioned the successful poet; and the coffee-houses pronounced
that Voltaire was a clever man, but that the real tragic
inspiration, the celestial fire which had glowed in Corneille and
Racine, was to be found in Crebillon alone.

The blow went to Voltaire's heart. Had his wisdom and fortitude
been in proportion to the fertility of his intellect, and to the
brilliancy of his wit, he would have seen that it was out of the
power of all the puffers and detractors in Europe to put Catiline
above Zaire; but he had none of the magnanimous patience with
which Milton and Bentley left their claims to the unerring
judgment of time. He eagerly engaged in an undignified
competition with Crebillon, and produced a series of plays on the
same subjects which his rival had treated. These pieces were
coolly received. Angry with the court, angry with the capital,
Voltaire began to find pleasure in the prospect of exile. His
attachment for Madame du Chatelet long prevented him from
executing his purpose. Her death set him at liberty; and he
determined to take refuge at Berlin.

To Berlin he was invited by a series of letters, couched in terms
of the most enthusiastic friendship and admiration. For once the
rigid parsimony of Frederic seemed to have relaxed. Orders,
honourable offices, a liberal pension, a well-served table,
stately apartments under a royal roof, were offered in return for
the pleasure and honour which were expected from the society of
the first wit of the age. A thousand louis were remitted for the
charges of the journey. No ambassador setting out from Berlin for
a court of the first rank, had ever been more amply supplied. But
Voltaire was not satisfied. At a later period, when he possessed
an ample fortune, he was one of the most liberal of men; but till
his means had become equal to his wishes, his greediness for
lucre was unrestrained either by justice or by shame. He had the
effrontery to ask for a thousand louis more, in order to enable
him to bring his niece, Madame Denis, the ugliest of coquettes,
in his company. The indelicate rapacity of the poet produced its
natural effect on the severe and frugal King. The answer was a
dry refusal. "I did not," said his Majesty, "solicit the honour
of the lady's society." On this, Voltaire went off into a
paroxysm of childish rage. "Was there ever such avarice? He has
hundreds of tubs full of dollars in his vaults, and haggles with
me about a poor thousand louis." It seemed that the negotiation
would be broken off; but Frederic, with great dexterity, affected
indifference, and seemed inclined to transfer his idolatry to
Baculard D'Arnaud. His Majesty even wrote some bad verses, of
which the sense was, that Voltaire was a setting sun, and that
D'Arnaud was rising. Good-natured friends soon carried the lines
to Voltaire. He was in his bed. He jumped out in his shirt,
danced about the room with rage, and sent for his passport and
his post-horses. It was not difficult to foresee the end of a
connection which had such a beginning.

It was in the year 1750 that Voltaire left the great capital,
which he was not to see again till, after the lapse of near
thirty years, he returned bowed down by extreme old age, to die
in the midst of a splendid and ghastly triumph. His reception in
Prussia was such as might well have elated a less vain and
excitable mind. He wrote to his friends at Paris, that the
kindness and the attention with which he had been welcomed
surpassed description, that the King was the most amiable of men,
that Potsdam was the paradise of philosophers. He was created
chamberlain, and received, together with his gold key, the cross
of an order, and a patent ensuring to him a pension of eight
hundred pounds sterling a year for life. A hundred and sixty
pounds a year were promised to his niece if she survived him. The
royal cooks and coachmen were put at his disposal. He was lodged
in the same apartments in which Saxe had lived, when, at the
height of power and glory, he visited Prussia. Frederic, indeed,
stooped for a time even to use the language of adulation. He
pressed to his lips the meagre hand of the little grinning
skeleton, whom he regarded as the dispenser of immortal renown.
He would add, he said, to the titles which he owed to his
ancestors and his sword, another title, derived from his last and
proudest acquisition. His style should run thus: Frederic, King
of Prussia, Margrave of Brandenburg, Sovereign Duke of Silesia,
Possessor of Voltaire. But even amidst the delights of the
honeymoon, Voltaire's sensitive vanity began to take alarm. A few
days after his arrival, he could not help telling his niece that
the amiable King had a trick of giving a sly scratch with one
hand while patting and stroking with the other. Soon came hints
not the less alarming, because mysterious. "The supper parties
are delicious. The King is the life of the company. But--I have
operas and comedies, reviews and concerts, my studies and books.
But--but--Berlin is fine, the princesses charming, the maids of
honour handsome. But--"

This eccentric friendship was fast cooling. Never had there met
two persons so exquisitely fitted to plague each other. Each of
them had exactly the fault of which the other was most impatient;
and they were, in different ways, the most impatient of mankind.
Frederic was frugal, almost niggardly. When he had secured his
plaything he began to think that he had bought it too dear.
Voltaire, on the other hand, was greedy, even to the extent of
imprudence and knavery; and conceived that the favourite of a
monarch who had barrels full of gold and silver laid up in
cellars ought to make a fortune which a receiver-general might
envy. They soon discovered each other's feelings. Both were
angry; and a war began, in which Frederic stooped to the part of
Harpagon, and Voltaire to that of Scapin. It is humiliating to
relate, that the great warrior and statesman gave orders that his
guest's allowance of sugar and chocolate should be curtailed. It
is, if possible, a still more humiliating fact, that Voltaire
indemnified himself by pocketing the wax candles in the royal
antechamber. Disputes about money, however, were not the most
serious disputes of these extraordinary associates. The sarcasms
of the King soon galled the sensitive temper of the poet.
D'Arnaud and D'Argens, Guichard and La Metrie, might, for the
sake of a morsel of bread, be willing to bear the insolence of a
master; but Voltaire was of another order. He knew that he was a
potentate as well as Frederic, that his European reputation, and
his incomparable power of covering whatever he hated with
ridicule, made him an object of dread even to the leaders of
armies and the rulers of nations. In truth, of all the
intellectual weapons which have ever been wielded by man, the
most terrible was the mockery of Voltaire. Bigots and tyrants,
who had never been moved by the wailing and cursing of millions,
turned pale at his name. Principles unassailable by reason,
principles which had withstood the fiercest attacks of power, the
most valuable truths, the most generous sentiments, the noblest
and most graceful images, the purest reputations, the most august
institutions, began to look mean and loathsome as soon as that
withering smile was turned upon them. To every opponent, however
strong in his cause and his talents, in his station and his
character, who ventured to encounter the great scoffer, might be
addressed the caution which was given of old to the Archangel:

             "I forewarn thee, shun
His deadly arrow: neither vainly hope
To be invulnerable in those bright arms,
Though temper'd heavenly; for that fatal dint,
Save Him who reigns above, none can resist."

We cannot pause to recount how often that rare talent was
exercised against rivals worthy of esteem; how often it was used
to crush and torture enemies worthy only of silent disdain; how
often it was perverted to the more noxious purpose of destroying
the last solace of earthly misery, and the last restraint on
earthly power. Neither can we pause to tell how often it was used
to vindicate justice, humanity, and toleration, the principles of
sound philosophy, the principles of free government. This is not
the place for a full character of Voltaire.

Causes of quarrel multiplied fast. Voltaire, who, partly from
love of money, and partly from love of excitement, was always
fond of stock-jobbing, became implicated in transactions of at
least a dubious character. The King was delighted at having such
an opportunity to humble his guest; and bitter reproaches and
complaints were exchanged. Voltaire, too, was soon at war with
the other men of letters who surrounded the King; and this
irritated Frederic, who, however, had himself chiefly to blame:
for, from that love of tormenting which was in him a ruling
passion, he perpetually lavished extravagant praises on small men
and bad books, merely in order that he might enjoy the
mortification and rage which on such occasions Voltaire took no
pains to conceal. His Majesty, however, soon had reason to regret
the pains which he had taken to kindle jealousy among the members
of his household. The whole palace was in a ferment with literary
intrigues and cabals. It was to no purpose that the imperial
voice, which kept a hundred and sixty thousand soldiers in order,
was raised to quiet the contention of the exasperated wits. It
was far easier to stir up such a storm than to lull it. Nor was
Frederic, in his capacity of wit, by any means without his own
share of vexations. He had sent a large quantity of verses to
Voltaire, and requested that they might be returned, with remarks
and corrections. "See," exclaimed Voltaire, "what a quantity of
his dirty linen the King has sent me to wash!" Talebearers were
not wanting to carry the sarcasm to the royal ear; and Frederic
was as much incensed as a Grub Street writer who had found his
name in the Dunciad.

This could not last. A circumstance which, when the mutual regard
of the friends was in its first glow, would merely have been
matter for laughter, produced a violent explosion. Maupertuis
enjoyed as much of Frederic's goodwill as any man of letters. He
was President of the Academy of Berlin; and he stood second to
Voltaire, though at an immense distance, in the literary society
which had been assembled at the Prussian Court. Frederic had, by
playing for his own amusement on the feelings of the two jealous
and vainglorious Frenchmen, succeeded in producing a bitter
enmity between them. Voltaire resolved to set his mark, a mark
never to be effaced, on the forehead of Maupertuis, and wrote the
exquisitely ludicrous Diatribe of Doctor Akakia. He showed this
little piece to Frederic, who had too much taste and too much
malice not to relish such delicious pleasantry. In truth, even at
this time of day, it is not easy for any person who has the least
perception of the ridiculous to read the jokes on the Latin city,
the Patagonians, and the hole to the centre of the earth, without
laughing till he cries. But though Frederic was diverted by this
charming pasquinade, he was unwilling that it should get abroad.
His self-love was interested. He had selected Maupertuis to fill
the chair of his Academy. If all Europe were taught to laugh at
Maupertuis, would not the reputation of the Academy, would not
even the dignity of its royal patron, be in some degree
compromised? The King, therefore, begged Voltaire to suppress
this performance. Voltaire promised to do so, and broke his word.
The Diatribe was published, and received with shouts of merriment
and applause by all who could read the French language. The King
stormed. Voltaire, with his usual disregard of truth, asserted
his innocence, and made up some lie about a printer or an
amanuensis. The King was not to be so imposed upon. He ordered
the pamphlet to be burned by the common hangman, and insisted
upon having an apology from Voltaire, couched in the most abject
terms. Voltaire sent back to the King his cross, his key, and the
patent of his pension. After this burst of rage, the strange pair
began to be ashamed of their violence, and went through the forms
of reconciliation. But the breach was irreparable; and Voltaire
took his leave of Frederic for ever. They parted with cold
civility; but their hearts were big with resentment. Voltaire had
in his keeping a volume of the King's poetry, and forgot to
return it. This was, we believe, merely one of the oversights
which men setting out upon a journey often commit. That Voltaire
could have meditated plagiarism is quite incredible. He would
not, we are confident, for the half of Frederic's kingdom, have
consented to father Frederic's verses. The King, however, who
rated his own writings much above their value, and who was
inclined to see all Voltaire's actions in the worst light, was
enraged to think that his favourite compositions were in the
hands of an enemy, as thievish as a daw and as mischievous as a
monkey. In the anger excited by this thought, he lost sight of
reason and decency, and determined on committing an outrage at
once odious and ridiculous.

Voltaire had reached Frankfort. His niece, Madame Denis, came
thither to meet him. He conceived himself secure from the power
of his late master, when he was arrested by order of the Prussian
resident. The precious volume was delivered up. But the Prussian
agents had, no doubt, been instructed not to let Voltaire escape
without some gross indignity. He was confined twelve days in a
wretched hovel. Sentinels with fixed bayonets kept guard over
him. His niece was dragged through the mire by the soldiers.
Sixteen hundred dollars were extorted from him by his insolent
gaolers. It is absurd to say that this outrage is not to be
attributed to the King. Was anybody punished for it? Was anybody
called in question for it? Was it not consistent with Frederic's
character? Was it not of a piece with his conduct on other
similar occasions? Is it not notorious that he repeatedly gave
private directions to his officers to pillage and demolish the
houses of persons against whom he had a grudge, charging them at
the same time to take their measures in such a way that his name
might not be compromised? He acted thus towards Count Bruhl in
the Seven Years' War. Why should we believe that he would have
been more scrupulous with regard to Voltaire?

When at length the illustrious prisoner regained his liberty, the
prospect before him was but dreary. He was an exile both from the
country of his birth and from the country of his adoption. The
French Government had taken offence at his journey to Prussia,
and would not permit him to return to Paris; and in the vicinity
of Prussia it was not safe for him to remain.

He took refuge on the beautiful shores of Lake Leman. There,
loosed from every tie which had hitherto restrained him, and
having little to hope, or to fear from courts and churches, he
began his long war against all that, whether for good or evil,
had authority over man; for what Burke said of the Constituent
Assembly, was eminently true of this its great forerunner:
Voltaire could not build: he could only pull down: he was the
very Vitruvius of ruin. He has bequeathed to us not a single
doctrine to be called by his name, not a single addition to the
stock of our positive knowledge. But no human teacher ever left
behind him so vast and terrible a wreck of truths and falsehoods,
of things noble and things base, of things useful and things
pernicious. From the time when his sojourn beneath the Alps
commenced, the dramatist, the wit, the historian, was merged in a
more important character. He was now the patriarch, the founder
of a sect, the chief of a conspiracy, the prince of a wide
intellectual commonwealth. He often enjoyed a pleasure dear to
the better part of his nature, the pleasure of vindicating
innocence which had no other helper, of repairing cruel wrongs,
of punishing tyranny in high places. He had also the
satisfaction, not less acceptable to his ravenous vanity, of
hearing terrified Capuchins call him the Antichrist. But whether
employed in works of benevolence, or in works of mischief, he
never forgot Potsdam and Frankfort; and he listened anxiously to
every murmur which indicated that a tempest was gathering in
Europe, and that his vengeance was at hand.

He soon had his wish. Maria Theresa had never for a moment
forgotten the great wrong which she had received at the hand of
Frederic. Young and delicate, just left an orphan, just about to
be a mother, she had been compelled to fly from the ancient
capital of her race; she had seen her fair inheritance
dismembered by robbers, and of those robbers he had been the
foremost. Without a pretext, without a provocation, in defiance
of the most sacred engagements, he had attacked the helpless ally
whom he was bound to defend. The Empress Queen had the faults as
well as the virtues which are connected with quick sensibility
and a high spirit. There was no peril which she was not ready to
brave, no calamity which she was not ready to bring on her
subjects, or on the whole human race, if only she might once
taste the sweetness of a complete revenge. Revenge, too,
presented itself, to her narrow and superstitious mind, in the
guise of duty. Silesia had been wrested not only from the House
of Austria, but from the Church of Rome. The conqueror had indeed
permitted his new subjects to worship God after their own
fashion; but this was not enough. To bigotry it seemed an
intolerable hardship that the Catholic Church, having long
enjoyed ascendency, should be compelled to content itself with
equality. Nor was this the only circumstance which led Maria
Theresa to regard her enemy as the enemy of God. The profaneness
of Frederic's writings and conversation, and the frightful
rumours which were circulated respecting the immorality of his
private life, naturally shocked a woman who believed with the
firmest faith all that her confessor told her, and who, though
surrounded by temptations, though young and beautiful, though
ardent in all her passions, though possessed of absolute power,
had preserved her fame unsullied even by the breath of slander.

To recover Silesia, to humble the dynasty of Hohenzollern to the
dust, was the great object of her life. She toiled during many
years for this end, with zeal as indefatigable as that which the
poet ascribed to the stately goddess who tired out her immortal
horses in the work of raising the nations against Troy, and who
offered to give up to destruction her darling Sparta and Mycenae,
if only she might once see the smoke going up from the palace of
Priam. With even such a spirit did the proud Austrian Juno strive
to array against her foe a coalition such as Europe had never
seen. Nothing would content her but that the whole civilised
world, from the White Sea to the Adriatic, from the Bay of Biscay
to the pastures of the wild horses of the Tanais, should be
combined in arms against one petty State.

She early succeeded by various arts in obtaining the adhesion of
Russia. An ample share of spoil was promised to the King of
Poland; and that prince, governed by his favourite, Count Bruhl,
readily promised the assistance of the Saxon forces. The great
difficulty was with France. That the Houses of Bourbon and of
Hapsburg should ever cordially co-operate in any great scheme of
European policy, had long been thought, to use the strong
expression of Frederic, just as impossible as that fire and water
should amalgamate. The whole history of the Continent, during two
centuries and a half, had been the history of the mutual
jealousies and enmities of France and Austria. Since the
administration of Richelieu, above all, it had been considered as
the plain policy of the Most Christian King to thwart on all
occasions the Court of Vienna, and to protect every member of the
Germanic body who stood up against the dictation of the Caesars.
Common sentiments of religion had been unable to mitigate this
strong antipathy. The rulers of France, even while clothed in the
Roman purple, even persecuting the heretics of Rochelle and
Auvergne, had still looked with favour on the Lutheran and
Calvinistic princes who were struggling against the chief of the
empire. If the French ministers paid any respect to the
traditional rules handed down to them through many generations,
they would have acted towards Frederic as the greatest of their
predecessors acted towards Gustavus Adolphus. That there was
deadly enmity between Prussia and Austria was of itself a
sufficient reason for close friendship between Prussia and
France. With France Frederic could never have any serious
controversy. His territories were so situated that his ambition,
greedy and unscrupulous as it was, could never impel him to
attack her of his own accord. He was more than half a Frenchman:
he wrote, spoke, read nothing but French: he delighted in French
society: the admiration of the French he proposed to himself as
the best reward of all his exploits. It seemed incredible that
any French Government, however notorious for levity or stupidity,
could spurn away such an ally.

The Court of Vienna, however, did not despair. The Austrian
diplomatists propounded a new scheme of politics, which, it must
be owned, was not altogether without plausibility. The great
powers, according to this theory, had long been under a delusion.
They had looked on each other as natural enemies, while in truth
they were natural allies. A succession of cruel wars had
devastated Europe, had thinned the population, had exhausted the
public resources, had loaded governments with an immense burden
of debt; and when, after two hundred years of murderous hostility
or of hollow truce, the illustrious Houses whose enmity had
distracted the world sat down to count their gains, to what did
the real advantage on either side amount? Simply to this, that
they had kept each other from thriving. It was not the King of
France, it was not the Emperor, who had reaped the fruits of the
Thirty Years' War, or of the War of the Pragmatic Sanction. Those
fruits had been pilfered by states of the second and third rank,
which, secured against jealousy by their insignificance, had
dexterously aggrandised themselves while pretending to serve the
animosity of the great chiefs of Christendom. While the lion and
tiger were tearing each other, the jackal had run off into the
jungle with the prey. The real gainer by the Thirty Years' War
had been neither France nor Austria, but Sweden. The real gainer
by the War of the Pragmatic Sanction had been neither France nor
Austria, but the upstart of Brandenburg. France had made great
efforts, had added largely to her military glory, and largely to
her public burdens; and for what end? Merely that Frederic might
rule Silesia. For this and this alone one French army, wasted
by sword and famine, had perished in Bohemia; and another had
purchased with flood of the noblest blood, the barren glory of
Fontenoy. And this prince, for whom France had suffered so much,
was he a grateful, was he even an honest ally? Had he not been
as false to the Court of Versailles as to the Court of Vienna?

Had he not played, on a large scale, the same part which, in
private life, is played by the vile agent of chicane who sets his
neighbours quarrelling, involves them in costly and interminable
litigation, and betrays them to each other all round, certain
that, whoever may be ruined, he shall be enriched? Surely the
true wisdom of the great powers was to attack, not each other,
but this common barrator, who, by inflaming the passions of both,
by pretending to serve both, and by deserting both, had raised
himself above the station to which he was born. The great object
of Austria was to regain Silesia; the great object of France was
to obtain an accession of territory on the side of Flanders. If
they took opposite sides, the result would probably be that,
after a war of many years, after the slaughter of many thousands
of brave men, after the waste of many millions of crowns, they
would lay down their arms without having achieved either object;
but, if they came to an understanding, there would be no risk,
and no difficulty. Austria would willingly make in Belgium such
cessions as France could not expect to obtain by ten pitched
battles. Silesia would easily be annexed to the monarchy of which
it had long been a part. The union of two such powerful
governments would at once overawe the King of Prussia. If he
resisted, one short campaign would settle his fate. France and
Austria, long accustomed to rise from the game of war both
losers, would, for the first time, both be gainers. There could
be no room for jealousy between them. The power of both would be
increased at once; the equilibrium between them would be
preserved; and the only sufferer would be a mischievous and
unprincipled buccaneer, who deserved no tenderness from either.

These doctrines, attractive from their novelty and ingenuity,
soon became fashionable at the supper-parties and in the coffee-
houses of Paris, and were espoused by every gay marquis and every
facetious abbe who was admitted to see Madame de Pompadour's hair
curled and powdered. It was not, however, to any political theory
that the strange coalition between France and Austria owed its
origin. The real motive which induced the great continental
powers to forget their old animosities and their old state maxims
was personal aversion to the King of Prussia. This feeling was
strongest in Maria Theresa; but it was by no means confined to
her. Frederic, in some respects a good master, was emphatically a
bad neighbour. That he was hard in all dealings, and quick to
take all advantages, was not his most odious fault. His bitter
and scoffing speech had inflicted keener wounds than his
ambition. In his character of wit he was under less restraint
than even in his character of ruler. Satirical verses against all
the princes and ministers of Europe were ascribed to his pen. In
his letters and conversation he alluded to the greatest
potentates of the age in terms which would have better suited
Colle, in a war of repartee with young Crebillon at Pelletier's
table, than a great sovereign speaking of great sovereigns. About
women he was in the habit of expressing himself in a manner which
it was impossible for the meekest of women to forgive; and,
unfortunately for him, almost the whole Continent was then
governed by women who were by no means conspicuous for meekness.
Maria Theresa herself had not escaped his scurrilous jests. The
Empress Elizabeth of Russia knew that her gallantries afforded
him a favourite theme for ribaldry and invective. Madame de
Pompadour, who was really the head of the French Government, had
been even more keenly galled. She had attempted, by the most
delicate flattery, to propitiate the King of Prussia; but her
messages had drawn from him only dry and sarcastic replies. The
Empress Queen took a very different course. Though the haughtiest
of princesses, though the most austere of matrons, she forgot in
her thirst for revenge both the dignity of her race and the
purity of her character, and condescended to flatter the lowborn
and low-minded concubine, who, having acquired influence by
prostituting herself, retained it by prostituting others. Maria
Theresa actually wrote with her own hand a note, full of
expressions of esteem and friendship to her dear cousin, the
daughter of the butcher Poisson, the wife of the publican
D'Etioles, the kidnapper of young girls for the haram of an old
rake, a strange cousin for the descendant of so many Emperors of
the West! The mistress was completely gained over, and easily
carried her point with Lewis, who had, indeed, wrongs of his own
to resent. His feelings were not quick, but contempt, says the
Eastern proverb, pierces even through the shell of the tortoise;
and neither prudence nor decorum had ever restrained Frederic
from expressing his measureless contempt for the sloth, the
imbecility, and the baseness of Lewis. France was thus induced to
join the coalition; and the example of France determined the
conduct of Sweden, then completely subject to French influence.

The enemies of Frederic were surely strong enough to attack him
openly; but they were desirous to add to all their other
advantages the advantage of a surprise. He was not, however, a
man to be taken off his guard. He had tools in every Court; and
he now received from Vienna, from Dresden, and from Paris,
accounts so circumstantial and so consistent, that he could not
doubt of his danger. He learnt, that he was to be assailed at
once by France, Austria, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the Germanic
body; that the greater part of his dominions was to be portioned
out among his enemies; that France, which from her geographical
position could not directly share in his spoils, was to receive
an equivalent in the Netherlands; that Austria was to have
Silesia, and the Czarina East Prussia; that Augustus of Saxony
expected Magdeburg; and that Sweden would be rewarded with part
of Pomerania. If these designs succeeded, the House of
Brandenburg would at once sink in the European system to a place
lower than that of the Duke of Wurtemberg or the Margrave of

And what hope was there that these designs would fail? No such
union of the continental powers had been seen for ages. A less
formidable confederacy had in a week conquered, all the provinces
of Venice, when Venice was at the height, of power, wealth, and
glory. A less formidable confederacy had compelled Lewis the
Fourteenth to bow down his haughty head to the very earth. A less
formidable confederacy has, within our own memory, subjugated a
still mightier empire, and abused a still prouder name. Such odds
had never been heard of in war. The people whom Frederic ruled
were not five millions. The population of the countries which
were leagued against him amounted to a hundred millions, The
disproportion in wealth was at least equally great. Small
communities, actuated by strong sentiments of patriotism or
loyalty, have sometimes made head against great monarchies
weakened by factions and discontents. But small as was Frederic's
kingdom, it probably contained a greater number of disaffected
subjects than were to be found in all the states of his enemies.
Silesia formed a fourth part of his dominions; and from the
Silesians, born under Austrian princes, the utmost that he could
expect was apathy. From the Silesian Catholics he could hardly
expect anything but resistance.

Some states have been enabled, by their geographical position, to
defend themselves with advantage against immense force. The sea
has repeatedly protected England against the fury of the whole
Continent. The Venetian Government, driven from its possessions
on the land, could still bid defiance to the confederates of
Cambray from the arsenal amidst the lagoons. More than one great
and well appointed army, which regarded the shepherds of
Switzerland as an easy prey, has perished in the passes of the
Alps. Frederic hid no such advantage. The form of his states,
their situation, the nature of the ground, all were against him.
His long, scattered, straggling territory seemed to have been
shaped with an express view to the convenience of invaders, and
was protected by no sea, by no chain of hills. Scarcely any
corner of it was a week's march from the territory of the enemy.
The capital itself, in the event of war, would be constantly
exposed to insult. In truth there was hardly a politician or a
soldier in Europe who doubted that the conflict would be
terminated in a very few days by the prostration of the House of

Nor was Frederic's own opinion very different. He anticipated
nothing short of his own ruin, and of the ruin of his family. Yet
there was still a chance, a slender chance, of escape. His states
had at least the advantage of a central position; his enemies
were widely separated from each other, and could not conveniently
unite their overwhelming forces on one point. They inhabited
different climates, and it was probable that the season of the
year which would be best suited to the military operations of one
portion of the League, would be unfavourable to those of another
portion. The Prussian monarchy, too, was free from some
infirmities which were found in empires far more extensive and
magnificent. Its effective strength for a desperate struggle was
not to be measured merely by the number of square miles or the
number of people. In that spare but well-knit and well-exercised
body, there was nothing but sinew, and muscle and bone. No public
creditors looked for dividends. No distant colonies required
defence. No Court, filled with flatterers and mistresses,
devoured the pay of fifty battalions. The Prussian army, though
far inferior in number to the troops which were about to be
opposed to it, was yet strong out of all proportion to the extent
of the Prussian dominions. It was also admirably trained and
admirably officered, accustomed to obey and accustomed to
conquer. The revenue was not only unincumbered by debt, but
exceeded the ordinary outlay in time of peace. Alone of all the
European princes, Frederic had a treasure laid up for a day of
difficulty. Above all, he was one, and his enemies were many. In
their camps would certainly be found the jealousy, the
dissension, the slackness inseparable from coalitions; on his
side was the energy, the unity, the secrecy of a strong
dictatorship. To a certain extent the deficiency of military
means might be supplied by the resources of military art. Small
as the King's army was, when compared with the six hundred
thousand men whom the confederates could bring into the field,
celerity of movement might in some degree compensate for
deficiency of bulk. It was thus just possible that genius,
judgment, resolution, and good luck united, might protract the
struggle during a campaign or two; and to gain even a month was
of importance. It could not be long before the vices which are
found in all extensive confederacies would begin to show
themselves. Every member of the League would think his own share
of the war too large, and his own share of the spoils too small.
Complaints and recriminations would abound. The Turk might stir
on the Danube; the statesmen of France might discover the error
which they had committed in abandoning the fundamental principles
of their national policy. Above all, death might rid Prussia of
its most formidable enemies. The war was the effect of the
personal aversion with which three or four sovereigns regarded
Frederic; and the decease of any one of those sovereigns might
produce a complete revolution in the state of Europe.

In the midst of a horizon generally dark and stormy, Frederic
could discern one bright spot. The peace which had been concluded
between England and France in 1748, had been in Europe no more
than an armistice; and had not even been an armistice in the
other quarters of the globe. In India the sovereignty of the
Carnatic was disputed between two great Mussulman houses; Fort
Saint George had taken one side, Pondicherry the other; and in a
series of battles and sieges the troops of Lawrence and Clive had
been opposed to those of Dupleix. A struggle less important in
its consequences, but not less likely to produce irritation, was
carried on between those French and English adventurers, who
kidnapped negroes and collected gold dust on the coast of Guinea.
But it was in North America that the emulation and mutual
aversion of the two nations were most conspicuous. The French
attempted to hem in the English colonists by a chain of military
posts, extending from the Great Lakes to the mouth of the
Mississippi. The English took arms. The wild aboriginal tribes
appeared on each side mingled with the Pale-Faces. Battles were
fought; forts were stormed; and hideous stories about stakes,
scalpings, and death-songs reached Europe, and inflamed that
national animosity which the rivalry of ages had produced. The
disputes between France and England came to a crisis at the very
time when the tempest which had been gathering was about to burst
on Prussia. The tastes and interests of Frederic would have led
him, if he had been allowed an option, to side with the House of
Bourbon. But the folly of the Court of Versailles left him no
choice. France became the tool of Austria; and Frederic was
forced to become the ally of England. He could not, indeed,
expect that a power which covered the sea with its fleets, and
which had to make war at once on the Ohio and the Ganges, would
be able to spare a large number of troops for operations in
Germany. But England, though poor compared with the England of
our time, was far richer than any country on the Continent. The
amount of her revenue, and the resources which she found in her
credit, though they may be thought small by a generation which
has seen her raise a hundred and thirty millions in a single
year, appeared miraculous to the politicians of that age. A very
moderate portion of her wealth, expended by an able and
economical prince, in a country where prices were low, would be
sufficient to equip and maintain a formidable army.

Such was the situation in which Frederic found himself. He saw
the whole extent of his peril. He saw that there was still a
faint possibility of escape; and, with prudent temerity, he
determined to strike the first blow. It was in the month of
August 1756, that the great war of the Seven Years commenced. The
King demanded of the Empress Queen a distinct explanation of her
intentions, and plainly told her that he should consider a
refusal as a declaration of war. "I want," he said, "no answer
in the style of an oracle." He received an answer at once haughty
and evasive. In an instant the rich electorate of Saxony was
overflowed by sixty thousand Prussian troops. Augustus with his
army occupied a strong position at Pirna. The Queen of Poland was
at Dresden. In a few days Pirna was blockaded and Dresden was
taken. The first object of Frederic was to obtain possession of
the Saxon State papers; for those papers, he well knew, contained
ample proofs that, though apparently an aggressor, he was really
acting in self-defence. The Queen of Poland, as well acquainted
as Frederic with the importance of those documents, had packed
them up, had concealed them in her bed-chamber, and was about to
send them off to Warsaw, when a Prussian officer made his
appearance. In the hope that no soldier would venture to outrage
a lady, a queen, a daughter of an emperor, the mother-in-law of a
dauphin, she placed herself before the trunk, and at length sat
down on it. But all resistance was vain. The papers were carried
to Frederic, who found in them, as he expected, abundant evidence
of the designs of the coalition. The most important documents
were instantly published, and the effect of the publication was
great. It was clear that, of whatever sins the King of Prussia
might formerly have been guilty, he was now the injured party,
and had merely anticipated a blow intended to destroy him.

The Saxon camp at Pirna was in the meantime closely invested; but
the besieged were not without hopes of succour. A great Austrian
army under Marshal Brown was about to pour through the passes
which separate Bohemia from Saxony. Frederic left at Pirna a
force sufficient to deal with the Saxons, hastened into Bohemia,
encountered Brown at Lowositz, and defeated him. This battle
decided the fate of Saxony. Augustus and his favourite Bruhl fled
to Poland. The whole army of the Electorate capitulated. From
that time till the end of the war, Frederic treated Saxony as a
part of his dominions, or, rather, he acted towards the Saxons in
a manner which may serve to illustrate the whole meaning of that
tremendous sentence, "subjectos tanquam suos, viles tanquam
alienos." Saxony was as much in his power as Brandenburg; and he
had no such interest in the welfare of Saxony as he had in the
welfare of Brandenburg. He accordingly levied troops and exacted
contributions throughout the enslaved province, with far more
rigour than in any part of his own dominions. Seventeen thousand
men who had been in the camp at Pirna were half compelled, half
persuaded to enlist under their conqueror. Thus, within a few
weeks from the commencement of hostilities, one of the
confederates had been disarmed, and his weapons were now pointed
against the rest.

The winter put a stop to military operations. All had hitherto
gone well. But the real tug of war was still to come. It was easy
to foresee that the year 1757 would be a memorable era in the
history of Europe.

The King's scheme for the campaign was simple, bold, and
judicious. The Duke of Cumberland with an English and Hanoverian
array was in Western Germany, and might be able to prevent the
French troops from attacking Prussia. The Russians, confined by
their snows, would probably not stir till the spring was far
advanced. Saxony was prostrated. Sweden could do nothing very
important. During a few months Frederic would have to deal with
Austria alone. Even thus the odds were against him. But ability
and courage have often triumphed against odds still more

Early in 1757 the Prussian army in Saxony began to move. Through
four defiles in the mountains they came pouring into Bohemia.
Prague was the King's first mark; but the ulterior object was
probably Vienna. At Prague lay Marshal Brown with one great army.
Daun, the most cautious and fortunate of the Austrian captains,
was advancing with another. Frederic determined to overwhelm
Brown before Daun should arrive. On the sixth of May was fought,
under those walls which, a hundred and thirty years before, had
witnessed the victory of the Catholic league and the flight of
the unhappy Palatine, a battle more bloody than any which Europe
saw during the long interval between Malplaquet and Eylau. The
King and Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick were distinguished on that
day by their valour and exertions. But the chief glory was with
Schwerin. When the Prussian infantry wavered, the stout old
marshal snatched the colours from an ensign, and, waving them in
the air, led back his regiment to the charge. Thus at seventy-two
years of age he fell in the thickest battle, still grasping the
standard which bears the black eagle on the field argent. The
victory remained with the King; but it had been dearly purchased.
Whole columns of his bravest warriors had fallen. He admitted
that he had lost eighteen thousand men. Of the enemy, twenty-four
thousand had been killed, wounded, or taken.

Part of the defeated army was shut up in Prague. Part fled to
join the troops which, under the command of Daun, were now close
at hand. Frederic determined to play over the same game which had
succeeded at Lowositz. He left a large force to besiege Prague,
and at the head of thirty thousand men he marched against Daun.
The cautious Marshal, though he had a great superiority in
numbers, would risk nothing. He occupied at Kolin a position
almost impregnable, and awaited the attack of the King.

It was the eighteenth of June, a day which, if the Greek
superstition still retained its influence, would be held sacred
to Nemesis, a day on which the two greatest princes of modern
times were taught, by a terrible experience, that neither skill
nor valour can fix the inconstancy of fortune. The battle began
before noon; and part of the Prussian army maintained the contest
till after the midsummer sun had gone down. But at length the
King found that his troops, having been repeatedly driven back
with frightful carnage, could no longer be led to the charge. He
was with difficulty persuaded to quit the field. The officers of
his personal staff were under the necessity of expostulating with
him, and one of them took the liberty to say, "Does your Majesty
mean to storm the batteries alone?" Thirteen thousand of his
bravest followers had perished. Nothing remained for him but to
retreat in good order, to raise the siege of Prague, and to hurry
his army by different routes out of Bohemia.

This stroke seemed to be final. Frederic's situation had at best
been such, that only an uninterrupted run of good luck could save
him, as it seemed, from ruin. And now, almost in the outset of
the contest he had met with a check which, even in a war between
equal powers, would have been felt as serious. He had owed much
to the opinion which all Europe entertained of his army. Since
his accession, his soldiers had in many successive battles been
victorious over the Austrians. But the glory had departed from
his arms. All whom his malevolent sarcasms had wounded, made
haste to avenge themselves by scoffing at the scoffer. His
soldiers had ceased to confide in his star. In every part of his
camp his dispositions were severely criticised. Even in his own
family he had detractors. His next brother, William, heir-
presumptive, or rather, in truth, heir-apparent to the throne,
and great-grandfather of the present King, could not refrain from
lamenting his own fate and that of the House of Hohenzollern,
once so great and so prosperous, but now, by the rash ambition of
its chief, made a by-word to all nations. These complaints, and
some blunders which William committed during the retreat from
Bohemia, called forth the bitter displeasure of the inexorable
King. The prince's heart was broken by the cutting reproaches of
his brother; he quitted the army, retired to a country seat, and
in a short time died of shame and vexation.

It seemed that the King's distress could hardly be increased. Yet
at this moment another blow not less terrible than that of Kolin
fell upon him. The French under Marshal D'Estrees had invaded
Germany. The Duke of Cumberland had given them battle at
Hastembeck, and had been defeated. In order to save the
Electorate of Hanover from entire subjugation, he had made, at
Closter Seven, an arrangement with the French Generals, which
left them at liberty to turn their arms against the Prussian

That nothing might be wanting to Frederic's distress, he lost his
mother just at this time; and he appears to have felt the loss
more than was to be expected from the hardness and severity of
his character. In truth, his misfortunes had now cut to the
quick. The mocker, the tyrant, the most rigorous, the most
imperious, the most cynical of men, was very unhappy. His face
was so haggard, and his form so thin, that when on his return
from Bohemia he passed through Leipsic, the people hardly knew
him again. His sleep was broken; the tears, in spite of himself,
often started into his eyes; and the grave began to present
itself to his agitated mind as the best refuge from misery and
dishonour. His resolution was fixed never to be taken alive, and
never to make peace on condition of descending from his place
among the powers of Europe. He saw nothing left for him except to
die; and he deliberately chose his mode of death. He always
carried about with him a sure and speedy poison in a small glass
case; and to the few in whom he placed confidence, he made no
mystery of his resolution.

But we should very imperfectly describe the state of Frederic's
mind, if we left out of view the laughable peculiarities which
contrasted so singularly with the gravity, energy, and harshness
of his character. It is difficult to say whether the tragic or
the comic predominated in the strange scene which was then
acting. In the midst of all the great King's calamities, his
passion for writing indifferent poetry grew stronger and
stronger. Enemies all round him, despair in his heart, pills of
corrosive sublimate hidden in his clothes, he poured forth
hundreds upon hundreds of lines, hateful to gods and men, the
insipid dregs of Voltaire's Hippocrene, the faint echo of the
lyre of Chaulieu. It is amusing to compare what he did during the
last months of 1757, with what he wrote during the same time. It
may be doubted whether any equal portion of the life of Hannibal,
of Caesar, or of Napoleon, will bear a comparison with that short
period, the most brilliant in the history of Prussia and of
Frederic. Yet at this very time the scanty leisure of the
illustrious warrior was employed in producing odes and epistles,
a little better than Cibber's, and a little worse than Hayley's.
Here and there a manly sentiment which deserves to be in prose
makes its appearance in company with Prometheus and Orpheus,
Elysium and Acheron, the Plaintive Philomel, the poppies of
Morpheus, and all the other frippery which, like a robe tossed by
a proud beauty to her waiting woman, has long been contemptuously
abandoned by genius to mediocrity. We hardly know any instance of
the strength and weakness of human nature so striking, and so
grotesque, as the character of this haughty, vigilant, resolute,
sagacious blue-stocking, half Mithridates and half Trissotin,
bearing up against a world in arms, with an ounce of poison in
one pocket and a quire of bad verses in the other.

Frederic had some time before made advances towards a
reconciliation with Voltaire; and some civil letters had passed
between them. After the battle of Kolin their epistolary
intercourse became, at least in seeming, friendly and
confidential. We do not know any collection of Letters which
throws so much light on the darkest and most intricate parts of
human nature, as the correspondence of these strange beings after
they had exchanged forgiveness. Both felt that the quarrel had
lowered them in the public estimation. They admired each other.
They stood in need of each other. The great King wished to be
handed down to posterity by the great Writer. The great Writer
felt himself exalted by the homage or the great King. Yet the
wounds which they had inflicted on each other were too deep to be
effaced, or even perfectly healed. Not only did the scars remain;
the sore places often festered and bled afresh. The letters
consisted for the most part of compliments, thanks, offers of
service, assurances of attachment. But if anything brought back
to Frederic's recollection the cunning and mischievous pranks by
which Voltaire had provoked him, some expression of contempt and
displeasure broke forth in the midst of eulogy. It was much worse
when anything recalled to the mind of Voltaire the outrages which
he and his kinswoman had suffered at Frankfort. All at once his
flowing panegyric was turned into invective. "Remember how you
behaved to me. For your sake I have lost the favour of my native
King. For your sake I am an exile from my country. I loved you. I
trusted myself to you. I had no wish but to end my life in your
service. And what was my reward? Stripped of all that you had
bestowed on me, the key, the order, the pension, I was forced to
fly from your territories. I was hunted as if I had been a
deserter from your grenadiers. I was arrested, insulted,
plundered. My niece was dragged through the mud of Frankfort by
your soldiers, as if she had been some wretched follower of your
camp. You have great talents. You have good qualities. But you
have one odious vice. You delight in the abasement of your
fellow-creatures. You have brought disgrace on the name of
philosopher. You have given some colour to the slanders of the
bigots, who say that no confidence can be placed in the justice
or humanity of those who reject the Christian faith." Then the
King answers, with less heat but equal severity--"You know that
you behaved shamefully in Prussia. It was well for you that you
had to deal with a man so indulgent to the infirmities of genius
as I am. You richly deserved to see the inside of a dungeon. Your
talents are not more widely known than your faithlessness and
your malevolence. The grave itself is no asylum from your spite.
Maupertuis is dead; but you still go on calumniating and deriding
him, as if you had not made him miserable enough while he was
living. Let us have no more of this. And, above all, let me hear
no more of your niece. I am sick to death of her name. I can bear
with your faults for the sake of your merits; but she has not
written Mahomet or Merope."

An explosion of this kind, it might be supposed, would
necessarily put an end to all amicable communication. But it was
not so. After every outbreak of ill humour this extraordinary
pair became more loving than before, and exchanged compliments
and assurances of mutual regard with a wonderful air of

It may well be supposed that men who wrote thus to each other,
were not very guarded in what they said of each other. The
English ambassador, Mitchell, who knew that the King of Prussia
was constantly writing to Voltaire with the greatest freedom on
the most important subjects, was amazed to hear his Majesty
designate this highly favoured correspondent as a bad-hearted
fellow, the greatest rascal on the face of the earth. And the
language which the poet held about the King was not much more

It would probably have puzzled Voltaire himself to say what was
his real feeling towards Frederic. It was compounded of all
sentiments, from enmity to friendship, and from scorn to
admiration; and the proportions in which these elements were
mixed, changed every moment. The old patriarch resembled the
spoiled child who screams, stamps, cuffs, laughs, kisses, and
cuddles within one quarter of an hour. His resentment was not
extinguished; yet he was not without sympathy for his old friend.
As a Frenchman, he wished success to the arms of his country. As
a philosopher, he was anxious for the stability of a throne on
which a philosopher sat. He longed both to save and to humble
Frederic. There was one way, and only one, in which all his
conflicting feelings could at once be gratified. If Frederic were
preserved by the interference of France, if it were known that
for that interference he was indebted to the mediation of
Voltaire, this would indeed be delicious revenge; this would
indeed be to heap coals of fire on that haughty head. Nor did the
vain and restless poet think it impossible that he might, from
his hermitage near the Alps, dictate peace to Europe. D'Estrees
had quitted Hanover, and the command of the French army had been
intrusted to the Duke of Richelieu, a man whose chief distinction
was derived from his success in gallantry. Richelieu was in truth
the most eminent of that race of seducers by profession, who
furnished Crebillon the younger and La Clos with models for their
heroes. In his earlier days the royal house itself had not been
secure from his presumptuous love. He was believed to have
carried his conquests into the family of Orleans; and some
suspected that he was not unconcerned in the mysterious remorse
which embittered the last hours of the charming mother of Lewis
the Fifteenth. But the Duke was now sixty years old. With a heart
deeply corrupted by vice, a head long accustomed to think only on
trifles, an impaired constitution, an impaired fortune, and,
worst of all, a very red nose, he was entering on a dull,
frivolous, and unrespected old age. Without one qualification for
military command, except that personal courage which was common
between him and the whole nobility of France, he had been placed
at the head of the army of Hanover; and in that situation he did
his best to repair, by extortion and corruption, the injury which
he had done to his property by a life of dissolute profusion.

The Duke of Richelieu to the end of his life hated the
philosophers as a sect, not for those parts of their system which
a good and wise man would have condemned, but for their virtues,
for their spirit of free inquiry, and for their hatred of those
social abuses of which he was himself the personification. But
he, like many of those who thought with him, excepted Voltaire
from the list of proscribed writers. He frequently sent
flattering letters to Ferney. He did the patriarch the honour to
borrow money of him, and even carried this condescending
friendship so far as to forget to pay the interest. Voltaire
thought that it might be in his power to bring the Duke and the
King of Prussia into communication with each other. He wrote
earnestly to both; and he so far succeeded that a correspondence
between them was commenced.

But it was to very different means that Frederic was to owe his
deliverance. At the beginning of November, the net seemed to have
closed completely round him. The Russians were in the field, and
were spreading devastation through his eastern provinces. Silesia
was overrun by the Austrians. A great French army was advancing
from the west under the command of Marshal Soubise, a prince of
the great Armorican house of Rohan. Berlin itself had been taken
and plundered by the Croatians. Such was the situation from which
Frederic extricated himself, with dazzling glory, in the short
space of thirty days.

He marched first against Soubise. On the fifth of November the
armies met at Rosbach. The French were two to one; but they were
ill-disciplined, and their general was a dunce. The tactics of
Frederic, and the well-regulated valour of the Prussian troops
obtained a complete victory. Seven thousand of the invaders were
made prisoners. Their guns, their colours, their baggage, fell
into the hands of the conquerors. Those who escaped fled as
confusedly as a mob scattered by cavalry. Victorious in the West,
the King turned his arms towards Silesia. In that quarter
everything seemed to be lost. Breslau had fallen; and Charles of
Lorraine, with a mighty power, held the whole province. On the
fifth of December, exactly one month after the battle of Rosbach,
Frederic, with forty thousand men, and Prince Charles, at the
head of not less than sixty thousand, met at Leuthen, hard by
Breslau. The King, who was, in general, perhaps too much inclined
to consider the common soldier as a mere machine, resorted, on
this great day, to means resembling those which Bonaparte
afterwards employed with such signal success for the purpose of
stimulating military enthusiasm. The principal officers were
convoked. Frederic addressed them with great force and pathos;
and directed them to speak to their men as he had spoken to
them. When the armies were set in battle array, the Prussian
troops were in a state of fierce excitement; but their excitement
showed itself after the fashion of a grave people. The columns
advanced to the attack chanting, to the sound of drums and fifes,
the rude hymns of the old Saxon Sternholds. They had never fought
so well; nor had the genius of their chief ever been so
conspicuous. "That battle," said Napoleon, "was a masterpiece. Of
itself it is sufficient to entitle Frederic to a place in the
first rank among generals." The victory was complete.
thousand Austrians were killed, wounded, or taken; fifty stand
of colours, a hundred guns, four thousand waggons, fell into
the hands of the Prussians. Breslau opened its gates; Silesia
was reconquered; Charles of Lorraine retired to hide his shame
and sorrow at Brussels; and Frederic allowed his troops to
take some repose in winter quarters, after a campaign, to the
vicissitudes of which it will be difficult to find any parallel
in ancient or modern history.

The King's fame filled all the world. He had during the last
year, maintained a contest, on terms of advantage, against three
powers, the weakest of which had more than three times his
resources. He had fought four great pitched battles against
superior forces. Three of these battles he had gained: and the
defeat of Kolin, repaired as it had been, rather raised than
lowered his military renown. The victory of Leuthen is, to this
day, the proudest on the roll of Prussian fame. Leipsic indeed,
and Waterloo, produced consequences more important to mankind.
But the glory of Leipsic must be shared by the Prussians with the
Austrians and Russians; and at Waterloo the British infantry bore
the burden and heat of the day. The victory of Rosbach was, in a
military point of view, less honourable than that of Leuthen; for
it was gained over an incapable general, and a disorganised army;
but the moral effect which it produced was immense. All the
preceding triumphs of Frederic had been triumphs over Germans,
and could excite no emotions of national pride among the German
people. It was impossible that a Hessian or a Hanoverian could
feel any patriotic exultation at hearing that Pomeranians had
slaughtered Moravians, or that Saxon banners had been hung in the
churches of Berlin. Indeed, though the military character of the
Germans justly stood high throughout the world, they could boast
of no great day which belonged to them as a people; of no
Agincourt, of no Bannockburn. Most of their victories had been
gained over each other; and their most splendid exploits against
foreigners had been achieved under the command of Eugene, who was
himself a foreigner. The news of the battle of Rosbach stirred
the blood of the whole of the mighty population from the Alps to
the Baltic, and from the borders of Courland to those of
Lorraine. Westphalia and Lower Saxony had been deluged by a great
host of strangers, whose speech was unintelligible, and whose
petulant and licentious manners had excited the strongest
feelings of disgust and hatred. That great host had been put to
flight by a small band of German warriors, led by a prince of
German blood on the side of father and mother, and marked by the
fair hair and the clear blue eye of Germany. Never since the
dissolution of the empire of Charlemagne, had the Teutonic race
won such a field against the French. The tidings called forth a
general burst of delight and pride from the whole of the great
family which spoke the various dialects of the ancient language
of Arminius. The fame of Frederic began to supply, in some
degree, the place of a common government and of a common capital.
It became a rallying point for all true Germans, a subject of
mutual congratulation to the Bavarian and the Westphalian, to the
citizen of Frankfort, and to the citizen of Nuremberg. Then first
it was manifest that the Germans were truly a nation. Then first
was discernible that patriotic spirit which, in 1813, achieved
the great deliverance of central Europe, and which still guards,
and long will guard, against foreign ambition the old freedom of
the Rhine.

Nor were the effects produced by that celebrated day merely
political. The greatest masters of German poetry and eloquence
have admitted that, though the great King neither valued nor
understood his native language, though he looked on France as the
only seat of taste and philosophy, yet, in his own despite, he
did much to emancipate the genius of his countrymen from the
foreign yoke; and that, in the act of vanquishing Soubise, he
was, unintentionally, rousing the spirit which soon began to
question the literary precedence of Boileau and Voltaire. So
strangely do events confound all the plans of man. A prince who
read only French, who wrote only French, who aspired to rank as a
French classic, became, quite unconsciously, the means of
liberating half the Continent from the dominion of that French
criticism of which he was himself, to the end of his life, a
slave. Yet even the enthusiasm of Germany in favour of Frederic
hardly equalled the enthusiasm of England. The birthday of our
ally was celebrated with as much enthusiasm as that of our own
sovereign; and at night the streets of London were in a blaze
with illuminations. Portraits of the Hero of Rosbach, with his
cocked hat and long pigtail, were in every house. An attentive
observer will, at this day, find in the parlours of old-fashioned
inns, and in the portfolios of print-sellers, twenty portraits of
Frederic for one of George the Second. The sign-painters were
everywhere employed in touching up Admiral Vernon into the King
of Prussia. This enthusiasm was strong among religious people,
and especially among the Methodists, who knew that the French and
Austrians were Papists, and supposed Frederic to be the Joshua or
Gideon of the Reformed Faith. One of Whitfield's hearers, on the
On which thanks for the battle of Leuthen were returned at the
Tabernacle, made the following exquisitely ludicrous entry in a
diary, part of which has come down to us: "The Lord stirred up
the King of Prussia and his soldiers to pray. They kept three
fast days, and spent about an hour praying and singing psalms
before they engaged the enemy.  O! how good it is to pray and
fight!" Some young Englishmen of rank proposed to visit Germany
as volunteers, for the purpose of learning the art of war under
the greatest of commanders. This last proof of British attachment
and admiration, Frederic politely but firmly declined. His camp
was no place for amateur students of military science. The
Prussian discipline was rigorous even to cruelty. The officers,
while in the field, were expected to practise an abstemiousness
and self-denial such as was hardly surpassed by the most rigid
monastic orders. However noble their birth, however high their
rank in the service, they were not permitted to eat from anything
better than pewter. It was a high crime even in a count and
field-marshal to have a single silver spoon among his baggage.
Gay young Englishmen of twenty thousand a year, accustomed to
liberty and luxury, would not easily submit to these Spartan
restraints. The King could not venture to keep them in order as
he kept his own subjects in order. Situated as he was with
respect to England, he could not well imprison or shoot
refractory Howards and Cavendishes. On the other hand, the
example of a few fine gentlemen, attended by chariots and livery
servants, eating in plates, and drinking champagne and Tokay, was
enough to corrupt his whole army. He thought it best to make a
stand at first, and civilly refused to admit such dangerous
companions among his troops.

The help of England was bestowed in a manner far more useful and
more acceptable. An annual subsidy of near seven hundred thousand
pounds enabled the King to add probably more than fifty thousand
men to his army. Pitt, now at the height of power and popularity,
undertook the task of defending Western Germany against France,
and asked Frederic only for the loan of a general. The general
selected was Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, who had attained high
distinction in the Prussian service. He was put at the head of an
army, partly English, partly Hanoverian, partly composed of
mercenaries hired from the petty princes of the empire. He soon
vindicated the choice of the two allied Courts, and proved
himself the second general of the age.

Frederic passed the winter at Breslau, in reading, writing, and
preparing for the next campaign. The havoc which the war had made
among his troops was rapidly repaired; and in the spring of 1758
he was again ready for the conflict. Prince Ferdinand kept the
French in check. The King in the meantime, after attempting
against the Austrians some operations which led to no very
important result, marched to encounter the Russians, who,
slaying, burning, and wasting wherever they turned, had
penetrated into the heart of his realm. He gave them battle at
Zorndorf, near Frankfort on the Oder. The fight was long and
bloody. Quarter was neither given nor taken; for the Germans and
Scythians regarded each other with bitter aversion, and the sight
of the ravages committed by the half savage invaders, had
incensed the King and his army. The Russians were overthrown with
great slaughter; and for a few months no further danger was to be
apprehended from the east.

A day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by the King, and was
celebrated with pride and delight by his people. The rejoicings
in England were not less enthusiastic or less sincere. This may
be selected as the point of time at which the military glory of
Frederic reached the zenith. In the short space of three quarters
of a year he had won three great battles over the armies of three
mighty and warlike monarchies, France, Austria, and Russia.

But it was decreed that the temper of that strong mind should be
tried by both extremes of fortune in rapid succession. Close upon
this series of triumphs came a series of disasters, such as would
have blighted the fame and broken the heart of almost any other
commander. Yet Frederic, in the midst of his calamities, was
still an object of admiration to his subjects, his allies, and
his enemies. Overwhelmed by adversity, sick of life, he still
maintained the contest, greater in defeat, in, flight, and in
what seemed hopeless ruin, than on the fields of his proudest

Having vanquished the Russians, he hastened into Saxony to oppose
the troops of the Empress Queen, commanded by Daun, the most
cautious, and Laudohn, the most inventive and enterprising of her
generals. These two celebrated commanders agreed on a scheme, in
which the prudence of the one and the vigour of the other seem to
have been happily combined. At dead of night they surprised the
King in his, camp at Hochkirchen. His presence of mind saved his
troops from destruction; but nothing could save them from defeat
and severe loss. Marshal Keith was among the slain. The first
roar of the guns roused the noble exile from his rest, and he was
instantly in the front of the battle. He received a dangerous
wound, but refused to quit the field, and was in the act of
rallying his broken troops, when an Austrian bullet terminated
his chequered and eventful life.

The misfortune was serious. But of all generals Frederic
understood best how to repair defeat, and Daun understood least
how to improve victory. In a few days the Prussian army was as
formidable as before the battle. The prospect was, however,
gloomy. An Austrian army under General Harsch had invaded
Silesia, and invested the fortress of Neisse. Daun, after his
success at Hochkirchen, had written to Harsch in very confident
terms:--"Go on with your operations against Neisse. Be quite at
ease as to the King. I will give a good account of him." In
truth, the position of the Prussians was full of difficulties.
Between them and Silesia, lay the victorious army of Daun. It was
not easy for them to reach Silesia at all. If they did reach it,
they left Saxony exposed to the Austrians. But the vigour and
activity of Frederic surmounted every obstacle. He made a
circuitous march of extraordinary rapidity, passed Daun, hastened
into Silesia, raised the siege of Niesse, and drove Harsch into
Bohemia. Daun availed himself of the King's absence to attack
Dresden. The Prussians defended it desperately. The inhabitants
of that wealthy and polished capital begged in vain for mercy
from the garrison within, and from the besiegers without. The
beautiful suburbs were burned to the ground. It was clear that
the town, if won at all, would be won street by street by the
bayonet. At this conjuncture came news, that Frederic, having
cleared Silesia of his enemies, was returning by forced marches
into Saxony. Daun retired from before Dresden, and fell back into
the Austrian territories. The King, over heaps of ruins, made his
triumphant entry into the unhappy metropolis, which had so
cruelly expiated the weak and perfidious policy of its sovereign.
It was now the twentieth of November. The cold weather suspended
military operations; and the King again took up his winter
quarters at Breslau.

The third of the seven terrible years were over; and Frederic
still stood his ground. He had been recently tried by domestic as
well as by military disasters. On the fourteenth of October, the
day on which he was defeated at Hochkirchen, the day on the
anniversary of which, forty-eight years later, a defeat far more
tremendous laid the Prussian monarchy in the dust, died
Wilhelmina, Margravine of Bareuth. From the accounts which we
have of her, by her own hand, and by the hands of the most
discerning of her contemporaries, we should pronounce her to have
been coarse, indelicate, and a good hater, but not destitute of
kind and generous feelings. Her mind, naturally strong and
observant, had been highly cultivated; and she was, and deserved
to be, Frederic's favourite sister. He felt the loss as much as
it was in his iron nature to feel the loss of anything but a
province or a battle.

At Breslau, during the winter, he was indefatigable in his
poetical labours. The most spirited lines, perhaps, that he ever
wrote, are, to be found in a bitter lampoon on Lewis and Madame
de Pompadour, which he composed at this time, and sent to
Voltaire. The verses were, indeed, so good, that Voltaire was
afraid that he might himself be suspected of having written
them, or at least of having corrected them; and partly from
fright, partly, we fear, from love of mischief, sent them to the
Duke of Choiseul, then prime minister of France. Choiseul very
wisely determined to encounter Frederic at Frederic's own
weapons, and applied for assistance to Palissot, who had some
skill as a versifier, and some little talent for satire. Palissot
produced some very stinging lines on the moral and literary
character of Frederic, and these lines the Duke sent to Voltaire.
This war of couplets, following close on the carnage of Zorndorf
and the conflagration of Dresden, illustrates well the strangely
compounded character of the King of Prussia.

At this moment he was assailed by a new enemy. Benedict the
Fourteenth, the best and wisest of the two hundred and fifty
successors of St. Peter, was no more. During the short interval
between his reign and that of his disciple Ganganelli, the chief
seat in the Church of Rome was filled by Rezzonico, who took the
name of Clement the Thirteenth. This absurd priest determined to
try what the weight of his authority could effect in favour of
the orthodox Maria Theresa against a heretic king. At the high
mass on Christmas-day, a sword with a rich belt and scabbard, a
hat of crimson velvet lined with ermine, and a dove of pearls,
the mystic symbol of the Divine Comforter, were solemnly blessed
by the supreme pontiff, and were sent with great ceremony to
Marshal Daun, the conqueror of Kolin and Hochkirchen. This mark
of favour had more than once been bestowed by the Popes on the
great champions of the faith. Similar honours had been paid, more
than six centuries earlier, by Urban the Second to Godfrey of
Bouillon. Similar honours had been conferred on Alba for
destroying the liberties of the Low Countries, and on John
Sobiesky after the deliverance of Vienna. But the presents which
were received with profound reverence by the Baron of the Holy
Sepulchre in the eleventh century, and which had not wholly lost
their value even in the seventeenth century, appeared
inexpressibly ridiculous to a generation which read Montesquieu
and Voltaire. Frederic wrote sarcastic verses on the gifts, the
giver, and the receiver. But the public wanted no prompter; and
an universal roar of laughter from Petersburg to Lisbon reminded
the Vatican that the age of crusades was over.

The fourth campaign, the most disastrous of all the campaigns of
this fearful war, had now opened. The Austrians filled Saxony and
menaced Berlin. The Russians defeated the King's generals on the
Oder, threatened Silesia, effected a junction with Laudohn, and
intrenched themselves strongly at Kunersdorf. Frederic hastened
to attack them. A great battle was fought. During the earlier
part of the day everything yielded to the impetuosity of the
Prussians, and to the skill of their chief. The lines were
forced. Half the Russian guns were taken. The King sent off a
courier to Berlin with two lines, announcing a complete victory.
But, in the meantime, the stubborn Russians, defeated yet
unbroken, had taken up their stand in an almost impregnable
position, on an eminence where the Jews of Frankfort were wont to
bury their dead. Here the battle recommenced. The Prussian
infantry, exhausted by six hours of hard fighting under a sun
which equalled the tropical heat, were yet brought up repeatedly
to the attack, but in vain. The King led three charges in person.
Two horses were killed under him. The officers of his staff fell
all round him. His coat was pierced by several bullets. All was
in vain. His infantry was driven back with frightful slaughter.
Terror began to spread fast from man to man. At that moment, the
fiery cavalry of Laudohn, still fresh, rushed on the wavering
ranks. Then followed an universal rout. Frederic himself was on
the point of falling into the hands of the conquerors, and was
with difficulty saved by a gallant officer, who, at the head of a
handful of Hussars, made good a diversion of a few minutes.
Shattered in body, shattered in mind, the King reached that night
a village which the Cossacks had plundered; and there, in a
ruined and deserted farm-house, flung himself on a heap of straw.
He had sent to Berlin a second despatch very different from the
first:--"Let the royal family leave Berlin. Send the archives to
Potsdam. The town may make terms with the enemy."

The defeat was, in truth, overwhelming. Of fifty thousand men who
had that morning marched under the black eagles, not three
thousand remained together. The King bethought him again of his
corrosive sublimate, and wrote to bid adieu to his friends, and
to give directions as to the measures to be taken in the event of
his death:-"I have no resource left"--such is the language of one
of his letters--"all is lost. I will not survive the ruin of my
country.--Farewell for ever."

But the mutual jealousies of the confederates prevented them from
following up their victory. They lost a few days in loitering and
squabbling; and a few days, improved by Frederic, were worth more
than the years of other men. On the morning after the battle, he
had got together eighteen thousand of his troops. Very soon his
force amounted to thirty thousand. Guns were procured from the
neighbouring fortresses; and there was again an army. Berlin was
for the present safe; but calamities came pouring on the King in
uninterrupted succession. One of his generals, with a large body
of troops, was taken at Maxen; another was defeated at Meissen;
and when at length the campaign of 1759 closed, in the midst of a
rigorous winter, the situation of Prussia appeared desperate. The
only consoling circumstance was, that, in the West, Ferdinand of
Brunswick had been more fortunate than his master; and by a
series of exploits, of which the battle of Minden was the most
glorious, had removed all apprehension of danger on the side of

The fifth year was now about to commence. It seemed impossible
that the Prussian territories, repeatedly devastated by hundreds
of thousands of invaders, could longer support the contest. But
the King carried on war as no European power has ever carried on
war, except the Committee of Public Safety during the great agony
of the French Revolution. He governed his kingdom as he would
have governed a besieged town, not caring to what extent property
was destroyed, or the pursuits of civil life suspended, so that
he did but make head against the enemy. As long as there was a
man left in Prussia, that man might carry a musket; as long as
there was a horse left, that horse might draw artillery. The coin
was debased, the civil functionaries were left unpaid; in some
provinces civil government altogether ceased to exist. But there
was still rye-bread and potatoes; there was still lead and
gunpowder; and, while the means of sustaining and destroying life
remained, Frederic was determined to fight it out to the very

The earlier part of the campaign of 1760 was unfavourable to him.
Berlin was again occupied by the enemy. Great contributions were
levied on the inhabitants, and the royal palace was plundered.
But at length, after two years of calamity, victory came back to
his arms. At Lignitz he gained a great battle over Laudohn; at
Torgau, after a day of horrible carnage, he triumphed over Daun.
The fifth year closed, and still the event was in suspense. In
the countries where the war had raged, the misery and exhaustion
were more appalling than ever; but still there were left men and
beasts, arms and food, and still Frederic fought on. In truth he
had now been baited into savageness. His heart was ulcerated with
hatred. The implacable resentment with which his enemies
persecuted him, though originally provoked by his own
unprincipled ambition, excited in him a thirst for vengeance
which he did not even attempt to conceal. "It is hard," he says
in one of his letters, "for a man to bear what I bear. I begin to
feel that, as the Italians say, revenge is a pleasure for the
gods. My philosophy is worn out by suffering. I am no saint, like
those of whom we read in the legends; and I will own that I
should die content if only I could first inflict a portion of the
misery which I endure."

Borne up by such feelings, he struggled with various success, but
constant glory, through the campaign of 1761. On the whole the
result of this campaign was disastrous to Prussia. No great
battle was gained by the enemy; but, in spite of the desperate
bounds of the hunted tiger, the circle of pursuers was fast
closing round him. Laudohn had surprised the important fortress
of Schweidnitz. With that fortress half of Silesia, and the
command of the most important defiles through the mountains had
been transferred to the Austrians. The Russians had overpowered
the King's generals in Pomerania. The country was so completely
desolated that he began, by his own confession, to look round him
with blank despair, unable to imagine where recruits, horses, or
provisions were to be found.

Just at this time, two great events brought on a complete change
in the relations of almost all the powers of Europe. One of those
events was the retirement of Mr. Pitt from office; the other was
the death of the Empress Elizabeth of Russia.

The retirement of Pitt seemed to be an omen of utter ruin to the
House of Brandenburg. His proud and vehement nature was incapable
of anything that looked like either fear or treachery. He had
often declared that, while he was in power, England should never
make a peace of Utrecht, should never, for any selfish object,
abandon an ally even in the last extremity of distress. The
Continental war was his own war. He had been bold enough, he who
in former times had attacked, with irresistible powers of
oratory, the Hanoverian policy of Carteret, and the German
subsidies of Newcastle, to declare that Hanover ought to be as
dear to us as Hampshire, and that he would conquer America in
Germany. He had fallen; and the power which he had exercised, not
always with discretion, but always with vigour and genius, had
devolved on a favourite who was the representative of the Tory
party, of the party which had thwarted William, which had
persecuted Marlborough, which had given tip the Catalans to the
vengeance of Philip of Anjou. To make peace with France, to shake
off, with all, or more than all, the speed compatible with
decency, every Continental connection, these were among the chief
objects of the new Minister. The policy then followed inspired
Frederic with an unjust, but deep and bitter aversion to the
English name, and produced effects which are still felt
throughout the civilised world. To that policy it was owing that,
some years later, England could not find on the whole Continent a
single ally to stand by her, in her extreme need against the
House of Bourbon. To that policy it was owing that Frederic,
alienated from England, was compelled to connect himself closely,
during his later years, with Russia, and was induced to assist in
that great crime, the fruitful parent of other great crimes, the
first partition of Poland.

Scarcely had the retreat of Mr. Pitt deprived Prussia of her only
friend, when the death of Elizabeth produced an entire revolution
in the politics of the North. The Grand Duke Peter, her nephew,
who now ascended the Russian throne, was not merely free from the
prejudices which his aunt had entertained against Frederic, but
was a worshipper, a servile imitator of the great King. The days
of the new Czar's government were few and evil, but sufficient to
produce a change in the whole state of Christendom. He set the
Prussian prisoners at liberty, fitted them out decently, and sent
them back to their master; he withdrew his troops from the
provinces which Elizabeth had decided on incorporating with her
dominions; and he absolved all those Prussian subjects, who had
been compelled to swear fealty to Russia, from their engagements.

Not content with concluding peace on terms favourable to Prussia,
he solicited rank in the Prussian service, dressed himself in a
Prussian uniform, wore the Black Eagle of Prussia on his breast,
made preparations for visiting Prussia, in order to have an
interview with the object of his idolatry, and actually sent
fifteen thousand excellent troops to reinforce the shattered army
of Frederic. Thus strengthened, the King speedily repaired the
losses of the preceding year, reconquered Silesia, defeated Daun
at Buckersdorf, invested and retook Schweidnitz, and, at the
close of the year, presented to the forces of Maria Theresa a
front as formidable as before the great reverses of 1759. Before
the end of the campaign, his friend, the Emperor Peter, having,
by a series of absurd insults to the institutions, manners, and
feelings of his people, united them in hostility to his person
and government, was deposed and murdered. The Empress, who, under
the title of Catherine the Second, now assumed the supreme power,
was, at the commencement of her administration, by no means
partial to Frederic, and refused to permit her troops to remain
under his command. But she observed the peace made by her
husband; and Prussia was no longer threatened by danger from the

England and France at the same time paired off together. They
concluded a treaty, by which they bound themselves to observe
neutrality with respect to the German war. Thus the coalitions on
both sides were dissolved; and the original enemies, Austria and
Prussia, remained alone confronting each other.

Austria had undoubtedly far greater means than Prussia, and was
less exhausted by hostilities; yet it seemed hardly possible that
Austria could effect alone what she had in vain attempted to
effect when supported by France on the one side, and by Russia on
the other. Danger also began to menace the Imperial house from
another quarter. The Ottoman Porte held threatening language, and
a hundred thousand Turks were mustered on the frontiers of
Hungary. The proud and revengeful spirit of the Empress Queen at
length gave way; and, in February 1763, the peace of Hubertsburg
put an end to the conflict which had, during seven years,
devastated Germany. The King ceded nothing. The whole Continent
in arms had proved unable to tear Silesia from that iron grasp.

The war was over. Frederic was safe. His glory was beyond the
reach of envy. If he had not made conquests as vast as those of
Alexander, of Caesar, and of Napoleon, if he had not, on fields
of battle, enjoyed the constant success of Marlborough and
Wellington, he had yet given an example unrivalled in history of
what capacity and resolution can effect against the greatest
superiority of power, and the utmost spite of fortune. He entered
Berlin in triumph, after an absence of more than six years. The
streets were brilliantly lighted up; and, as he passed along in
an open carriage, with Ferdinand of Brunswick at his side, the
multitude saluted him with loud praises and blessings. He was
moved by those marks of attachment, and repeatedly exclaimed
"Long live my dear people! Long live my children!" Yet, even in
the midst of that gay spectacle, he could not but perceive
everywhere the traces of destruction and decay. The city had been
more than once plundered. The population had considerably
diminished. Berlin, however, had suffered little when compared
with most parts of the kingdom. The ruin of private fortunes, the
distress of all ranks, was such as might appal the firmest mind.
Almost every province had been the seat of war, and of war
conducted with merciless ferocity. Clouds of Croatians had
descended on Silesia. Tens of thousands of Cossacks had been let
loose on Pomerania and Brandenburg. The mere contributions levied
by the invaders amounted, it was said, to more than a hundred
millions of dollars; and the value of what they extorted was
probably much less than the value of what they destroyed. The
fields lay uncultivated. The very seed-corn had been devoured in
the madness of hunger. Famine, and contagious maladies produced
by famine, had swept away the herds and flocks; and there was
reason to fear that a great pestilence among the human race was
likely to follow in the train of that tremendous war. Near
fifteen thousand houses had been burned to the ground. The
population of the kingdom had in seven years decreased to the
frightful extent of ten per cent. A sixth of the males capable of
bearing arms had actually perished on the field of battle. In
some districts, no labourers, except women, were seen in the
fields at harvest-time. In others, the traveller passed
shuddering through a succession of silent villages, in which not
a single inhabitant remained. The currency had been debased; the
authority of laws and magistrates had been suspended; the whole
social system was deranged. For, during that convulsive struggle,
everything that was not military violence was anarchy. Even the
army was disorganised. Some great generals, and a crowd of
excellent officers, had fallen, and it had been impossible to
supply their place. The difficulty of finding recruits had,
towards the close of the war, been so great, that selection and
rejection were impossible. Whole battalions were composed of
deserters or of prisoners. It was hardly to be hoped that thirty
years of repose and industry would repair the ruin produced by
seven years of havoc. One consolatory circumstance, indeed, there
was. No debt had been incurred. The burdens of the war had been
terrible, almost insupportable; but no arrear was left to
embarrass the finances in time of peace.

Here, for the present, we must pause. We have accompanied
Frederic to the close of his career as a warrior. Possibly, when
these Memoirs are completed, we may resume the consideration of
his character, and give some account of his domestic and foreign
policy, and of his private habits, during the many years of
tranquillity which followed the Seven Years' War.

(Jan, 1830)

Sir Thomas More; or, colloquies on the Progress and Prospects of
Society. By ROBERT SOUTHEY Esq., LL.D., Poet Laureate. 2 vols.
London: 1829.

IT would be scarcely possible for a man of Mr. Southey's talents
and acquirements to write two volumes so large as those before
us, which should be wholly destitute of information and
amusement. Yet we do not remember to have read with so little
satisfaction any equal quantity of matter, written by any man of
real abilities. We have, for some time past, observed with great
regret the strange infatuation which leads the Poet Laureate to
abandon those departments of literature in which he might excel,
and to lecture the public on sciences of which he has still the
very alphabet to learn. He has now, we think, done his worst. The
subject which he has at last undertaken to treat, is one which
demands all the highest intellectual and moral qualities of a
philosophical statesman, an understanding at once comprehensive
and acute, a heart at once upright and charitable. Mr. Southey
brings to the task two faculties which were never, we believe,
vouchsafed in measure so copious to any human being, the faculty
of believing without a reason, and the faculty of hating without
a provocation.

It is, indeed, most extraordinary, that a mind like Mr.
Southey's, a mind richly endowed in many respects by nature, and
highly cultivated by study, a mind which has exercised
considerable influence on the most enlightened generation of the
most enlightened people that ever existed, should be utterly
destitute of the power of discerning truth from falsehood. Yet
such is the fact. Government is to Mr. Southey one of the fine
arts. He judges of a theory, of a public measure, of a religion
or a political party, of a peace or a war, as men judge of a
picture or a statue, by the effect produced on his imagination. A
chain of associations is to him what a chain of reasoning is to
other men; and what he calls his opinions are in fact merely his

Part of this description might perhaps apply to a much greater
man, Mr. Burke. But Mr. Burke assuredly possessed an
understanding admirably fitted for the investigation of truth, an
understanding stronger than that of any statesman, active or
speculative, of the eighteenth century, stronger than everything,
except his own fierce and ungovernable sensibility. Hence he
generally chose his side like a fanatic, and defended it like a
philosopher. His conduct on the most important occasions of his
life, at the time of the impeachment of Hastings for example, and
at the time of the French Revolution, seems to have been prompted
by those feelings and motives which Mr. Coleridge has so happily

"Stormy pity, and the cherish'd lure
Of pomp, and proud precipitance of soul."

Hindostan, with its vast cities, its gorgeous pagodas, its
infinite swarms of dusky population, its long-descended
dynasties, its stately etiquette, excited in a mind so capacious,
so imaginative, and so susceptible, the most intense interest.
The peculiarities of the costume, of the manners, and of the
laws, the very mystery which hung over the language and origin of
the people, seized his imagination. To plead under the ancient
arches of Westminster Hall, in the name of the English people, at
the bar of the English nobles for great nations and kings
separated from him by half the world, seemed to him the height of
human glory. Again, it is not difficult to perceive that his
hostility to the French Revolution principally arose from the
vexation which he felt at having all his old political
associations disturbed, at seeing the well-known landmarks of
states obliterated, and the names and distinctions with which the
history of Europe had been filled for ages at once swept away. He
felt like an antiquary whose shield had been scoured, or a
connoisseur who found his Titian retouched. But, however he came
by an opinion, he had no sooner got it than he did his best to
make out a legitimate title to it. His reason, like a spirit in
the service of an enchanter, though spell-bound, was still
mighty. It did whatever work his passions and his imagination
might impose. But it did that work, however arduous, with
marvellous dexterity and vigour. His course was not determined by
argument; but he could defend the wildest course by arguments
more plausible than those by which common men support opinions
which they have adopted after the fullest deliberation. Reason
has scarcely ever displayed, even in those well-constituted minds
of which she occupies the throne, so much power and energy as in
the lowest offices of that imperial servitude.

Now in the mind of Mr. Southey reason has no place at all, as
either leader or follower, as either sovereign or slave. He does
not seem to know what an argument is. He never uses arguments
himself. He never troubles himself to answer the arguments of his
opponents. It has never occurred to him, that a man ought to be
able to give some better account of the way in which he has
arrived at his opinions than merely that it is his will and
pleasure to hold them. It has never occurred to him that there is
a difference between assertion and demonstration, that a rumour
does not always prove a fact, that a single fact, when proved, is
hardly foundation enough for a theory, that two contradictory
propositions cannot be undeniable truths, that to beg the
question is not the way to settle it, or that when an objection
is raised, it ought to be met with something more convincing than
"scoundrel" and "blockhead."

It would be absurd to read the works of such a writer for
political instruction. The utmost that can be expected from any
system promulgated by him is that it may be splendid and
affecting, that it may suggest sublime and pleasing images. His
scheme of philosophy is a mere day-dream, a poetical creation,
like the Doindaniel cavern, the Swerga, or Padalon; and indeed it
bears no inconsiderable resemblance to those gorgeous visions.
Like them, it has something, of invention, grandeur, and
brilliancy. But, like them, it is grotesque and extravagant, and
perpetually violates even that conventional probability which is
essential to the effect of works of art.

The warmest admirers of Mr. Southey will scarcely, we think, deny
that his success has almost always borne an inverse proportion to
the degree in which his undertakings have required a logical
head. His poems, taken in the mass, stand far higher than his
prose works. His official Odes indeed, among which the Vision of
Judgement must be classed, are, for the most part, worse than
Pye's and as bad as Cibber's; nor do we think him generally happy
in short pieces. But his longer poems, though full of faults, are
nevertheless very extraordinary productions. We doubt greatly
whether they will be read fifty years hence; but that, if they
are read, they will be admired, we have no doubt whatever.

But, though in general we prefer Mr. Southey's poetry to his
prose, we must make one exception. The Life of Nelson is, beyond
all doubt, the most perfect and the most delightful of his works.
The fact is, as his poems most abundantly prove, that he is by no
means so skilful in designing as in filling up. It was therefore
an advantage to him to be furnished with an outline of characters
and events, and to have no other task to perform than that of
touching the cold sketch into life. No writer, perhaps, ever
lived, whose talents so precisely qualified him to write the
history of the great naval warrior. There were no fine riddles of
the human heart to read, no theories to propound, no hidden
causes to develop, no remote consequences to predict. The
character of the hero lay on the surface. The exploits were
brilliant and picturesque. The necessity of adhering to the real
course of events saved Mr, Southey from those faults which deform
the original plan of almost every one of his poems, and which
even his innumerable beauties of detail scarcely redeem. The
subject did not require the exercise of those reasoning powers
the want of which is the blemish of his prose. It would not be
easy to find, in all literary history, an instance of a more
exact hit between wind and water. John Wesley and the Peninsular
War were subjects of a very different kind, subjects which
required all the qualities of a philosophic historian. In Mr.
Southey's works on these subjects, he has, on the whole, failed.
Yet there are charming specimens of the art of narration in both
of them. The Life of Wesley will probably live. Defective as it
is, it contains the only popular account of a most remarkable
moral revolution, and of a man whose eloquence and logical
acuteness might have made him eminent in literature, whose genius
for government was not inferior to that of Richelieu, and who,
whatever his errors may have been, devoted all his powers, in
defiance of obloquy and derision, to what he sincerely considered
as the highest good of his species. The History of the Peninsular
War is already dead; indeed, the second volume was dead-born. The
glory of producing an imperishable record of that great conflict
seems to be reserved for Colonel Napier.

The Book of the Church contains some stories very prettily told.
The rest is mere rubbish. The adventure was manifestly one which
could be achieved only by a profound thinker, and one in which
even a profound thinker might have failed, unless his passions
had been kept under strict control. But in all those works in
which Mr. Southey has completely abandoned narration, and has
undertaken to argue moral and political questions, his failure
has been complete and ignominious. On such occasions his writings
are rescued from utter contempt and derision solely by the beauty
and purity of the English. We find, we confess, so great a charm
in Mr. Southey's style, that, even when be writes nonsense, we
generally read it with pleasure except indeed when he tries to be
droll. A more insufferable jester never existed. He very often
attempts to be humorous, and yet we do not remember a single
occasion on which he has succeeded further than to be quaintly
and flippantly dull. In one of his works he tells us that Bishop
Sprat was very properly so called, inasmuch as he was a very
small poet. And in the book now before us he cannot quote Francis
Bugg, the renegade Quaker, without a remark on his unsavoury
name. A wise man might talk folly like this by his own fireside;
but that any human being, after having made such a joke, should
write it down, and copy it out, and transmit it to the printer,
and correct the proof-sheets, and send it forth into the world,
is enough to make us ashamed of our species.

The extraordinary bitterness of spirit which Mr. Southey
manifests towards his opponents is, no doubt, in a great measure
to be attributed to the manner in which he forms his opinions.
Differences of taste, it has often been remarked, produce greater
exasperation than differences on points of science. But this is
not all. A peculiar austerity marks almost all Mr. Southey's
judgments of men and actions. We are far from blaming him for
fixing on a high standard of morals, and for applying that
standard to every case. But rigour ought to be accompanied by
discernment; and of discernment Mr. Southey seems to be utterly
destitute. His mode of judging is monkish. It is exactly what we
should expect from a stern old Benedictine, who had been
preserved from many ordinary frailties by the restraints of his
situation. No man out of a cloister ever wrote about love, for
example, so coldly and at the same time me so grossly. His
descriptions of it are just what we should hear from a recluse
who knew the passion only from the details of the confessional.
Almost all his heroes make love either like Seraphim or like
cattle. He seems to have no notion of anything between the
Platonic passion of the Glendoveer who gazes with rapture on his
mistress's leprosy, and the brutal appetite of Arvalan and
Roderick. In Roderick, indeed, the two characters are united. He
is first all clay, and then all spirit. He goes forth a Tarquin,
and comes back too ethereal to be married. The only love scene,
as far as we can recollect, in Madoc, consists of the delicate
attentions which a savage, who has drunk too much of the Prince's
excellent metheglin, offers to Goervyl. It would be the labour of
a week to find, in all the vast mass of Mr. Southey's poetry, a
single passage indicating any sympathy with those feelings which
have consecrated the shades of Vaucluse and the rocks of

Indeed, if we except some very pleasing images of paternal
tenderness and filial duty, there is scarcely anything soft or
humane in Mr. Southey's poetry. What theologians call the
spiritual sins are his cardinal virtues, hatred, pride, and the
insatiable thirst of vengeance. These passions he disguises under
the name of duties; he purifies them from the alloy of vulgar
interests; he ennobles them by uniting them with energy,
fortitude, and a severe sanctity of manners; and he then holds
them up to the admiration of mankind. This is the spirit of
Thalaba, of Ladurlad, of Adosinda, of Roderick after his
conversion. It is the spirit which, in all his writings, Mr.
Southey appears to affect. "I do well to be angry," seems to be
the predominant feeling of his mind. Almost the only mark of
charity which he vouchsafes to his opponents is to pray for their
reformation; and this he does in terms not unlike those in which
we can imagine a Portuguese priest interceding with Heaven for a
Jew, delivered over to the secular arm after a relapse.

We have always heard, and fully believe, that Mr. Southey is a
very amiable and humane man; nor do we intend to apply to him
personally any of the remarks which we have made on the spirit of
his writings. Such are the caprices of human nature. Even Uncle
Toby troubled himself very little about the French grenadiers who
fell on the glacis of Namur. And Mr. Southey, when he takes up
his pen, changes his nature as much as Captain Shandy when he
girt on his sword. The only opponents to whom the Laureate gives
quarter are those in whom he finds something of his own character
reflected. He seems to have an instinctive antipathy for calm,
moderate men, for men who shun extremes, and who render reasons.
He has treated Mr. Owen of Lanark, for example, with infinitely
more respect than he has shown to Mr. Hallam or to Dr. Lingard;
and this for no reason that we can discover, except that Mr. Owen
is more unreasonably and hopelessly in the wrong than any
speculator of our time.

Mr. Southey's political system is just what we might expect from
a man who regards politics, not as matter of science, but as
matter of taste and feeling. All his schemes of government have
been inconsistent with themselves. In his youth he was a
republican; yet, as he tells us in his preface to these
Colloquies, he was even then opposed to the Catholic Claims. He
is now a violent Ultra-Tory. Yet, while he maintains, with
vehemence approaching to ferocity, all the sterner and harsher
parts of the Ultra-Tory theory of government, the baser and
dirtier part of that theory disgusts him. Exclusion, persecution,
severe punishments for libellers and demagogues, proscriptions,
massacres, civil war, if necessary, rather than any concession to
a discontented people; these are the measures which he seems
inclined to recommend. A severe and gloomy tyranny, crushing
opposition, silencing remonstrance, drilling the minds of the
people into unreasoning obedience, has in it something of
grandeur which delights his imagination. But there is nothing
fine in the shabby tricks and jobs of office; and Mr. Southey,
accordingly, has no toleration for them. When a Jacobin, he did
not perceive that his system led logically, and would have led
practically, to the removal of religious distinctions. He now
commits a similar error. He renounces the abject and paltry part
of the creed of his party, without perceiving that it is also an
essential part of that creed. He would have tyranny and purity
together; though the most superficial observation might have
shown him that there can be no tyranny without corruption.

It is high time, however, that we should proceed to the
consideration of the work which is our more immediate subject,
and which, indeed, illustrates in almost every page our general
remarks on Mr. Southey's writings. In the preface, we are
informed that the author, notwithstanding some statements to the
contrary, was always opposed to the Catholic Claims. We fully
believe this; both because we are sure that Mr. Southey is
incapable of publishing a deliberate falsehood, and because his
assertion is in itself probable. We should have expected that,
even in his wildest paroxysms of democratic enthusiasm, Mr.
Southey would have felt no wish to see a simple remedy applied to
a great practical evil. We should have expected that the only
measure which all the great statesmen of two generations have
agreed with each other in supporting would be the only measure
which Mr. Southey would have agreed with himself in opposing. He
has passed from one extreme of political opinion to another, as
Satan in Milton went round the globe, contriving constantly to
"ride with darkness." Wherever the thickest shadow of the night
may at any moment chance to fall, there is Mr. Southey. It is not
everybody who could have so dexterously avoided blundering on the
daylight in the course of a journey to the antipodes.

Mr. Southey has not been fortunate in the plan of any of his
fictitious narratives. But he has never failed so conspicuously
as in the work before us; except, indeed, in the wretched Vision
of Judgement. In November 1817, it seems the Laureate was sitting
over his newspaper, and meditating about the death of the
Princess Charlotte. An elderly person of very dignified aspect
makes his appearance, announces himself as a stranger from a
distant country, and apologises very politely for not having
provided himself with letters of introduction. Mr. Southey
supposes his visitor to be some American gentleman who has come
to see the lakes and the lake-poets, and accordingly proceeds to
perform, with that grace, which only long practice can give, all
the duties which authors owe to starers. He assures his guest
that some of the most agreeable visits which he has received have
been from Americans, and that he knows men among them whose
talents and virtues would do honour to any country. In passing we
may observe, to the honour of Mr. Southey, that, though he
evidently has no liking for the American institutions, he never
speaks of the people of the United States with that pitiful
affectation of contempt by which some members of his party have
done more than wars or tariffs can do to excite mutual enmity
between two communities formed for mutual fellowship. Great as
the faults of his mind are, paltry spite like this has no place
in it. Indeed it is scarcely conceivable that a man of his
sensibility and his imagination should look without pleasure and
national pride on the vigorous and splendid youth of a great
people, whose veins are filled with our blood, whose minds are
nourished with our literature, and on whom is entailed the rich
inheritance of our civilisation, our freedom, and our glory.

But we must return to Mr. Southey's study at Keswick. The visitor
informs the hospitable poet that he is not an American but a
spirit. Mr. Southey, with more frankness than civility, tells him
that he is a very queer one. The stranger holds out his hand. It
has neither weight nor substance. Mr. Southey upon this becomes
more serious; his hair stands on end; and he adjures the spectre
to tell him what he is, and why he comes. The ghost turns out to
be Sir Thomas More. The traces of martyrdom, it seems, are worn
in the other world, as stars and ribands are worn in this. Sir
Thomas shows the poet a red streak round his neck, brighter than
a ruby, and informs him that Cranmer wears a suit of flames in
Paradise, the right hand glove, we suppose, of peculiar

Sir Thomas pays but a short visit on this occasion, but promises
to cultivate the new acquaintance which he has formed, and, after
begging that his visit may be kept secret from Mrs. Southey,
vanishes into air.

The rest of the book consists of conversations between Mr.
Southey and the spirit about trade, currency, Catholic
emancipation, periodical literature, female nunneries, butchers,
snuff, bookstalls, and a hundred other subjects. Mr. Southey very
hospitably takes an opportunity to escort the ghost round the
lakes, and directs his attention to the most beautiful points of
view. Why a spirit was to be evoked for the purpose of talking
over such matters and seeing such sights, why the vicar of the
parish, a blue-stocking from London, or an American, such as Mr.
Southey at first supposed the aerial visitor to be, might not
have done as well, we are unable to conceive. Sir Thomas tells
Mr. Southey nothing about future events, and indeed absolutely
disclaims the gifts of prescience. He has learned to talk modern
English. He has read all the new publications, and loves a jest
as well as when he jested with the executioner, though we cannot
say that the quality of his wit has materially improved in
Paradise. His powers of reasoning, too, are by no means in as
great vigour as when he sate on the woolsack; and though he
boasts that he is "divested of all those passions which cloud the
intellects and warp the understandings of men," we think him, we
must confess, far less stoical than formerly. As to revelations,
he tells Mr. Southey at the outset to expect none from him. The
Laureate expresses some doubts, which assuredly will not raise
him in the opinion of our modern millennarians, as to the divine
authority of the Apocalypse. But the ghost preserves an
impenetrable silence. As far as we remember, only one hint about
the employment of disembodied spirits escapes him. He encourages
Mr. Southey to hope that there is a Paradise Press, at which all
the valuable publications of Mr. Murray and Mr. Colburn are
reprinted as regularly as at Philadelphia; and delicately
insinuates that Thalaba and the Curse of Kehama are among the
number. What a contrast does this absurd fiction present to those
charming narratives which Plato and Cicero prefixed to their
dialogues! What cost in machinery, yet what poverty of effect! A
ghost brought in to say what any man might have said! The
glorified spirit of a great statesman and philosopher dawdling,
like a bilious old nabob at a watering-place, over quarterly
reviews and novels, dropping in to pay long calls, making
excursions in search of the picturesque! The scene of St. George
and St. Dennis in the Pucelle is hardly more ridiculous. We know
what Voltaire meant. Nobody, however, can suppose that Mr.
Southey means to make game of the mysteries of a higher state of
existence. The fact is that, in the work before us, in the Vision
of Judgement, and in some of his other pieces, his mode of
treating the most solemn subjects differs from that of open
scoffers only as the extravagant representations of sacred
and things in some grotesque Italian paintings differ from the
caricatures which Carlile exposes in the front of his shop. We
interpret the particular act by the general character. What in
the window of a convicted blasphemer we call blasphemous, we call
only absurd and ill-judged in an altar-piece.

We now come to the conversations which pass between Mr. Southey
and Sir Thomas More, or rather between two Southeys, equally
eloquent, equally angry, equally unreasonable, and equally given
to talking about what they do not understand. [A passage in which
some expressions used by Mr. Southey were misrepresented,
certainly without any unfair intention, has been here omitted.]
Perhaps we could not select a better instance of the spirit which
pervades the whole book than the passages in which Mr. Southey
gives his opinion of the manufacturing system. There is nothing
which he hates so bitterly. It is, according to him, a system
more tyrannical than that of the feudal ages, a system of actual
servitude, a system which destroys the bodies and degrades the
minds of those who are engaged in it. He expresses a hope that
the competition of other nations may drive us out of the field;
that our foreign trade may decline; and that we may thus enjoy a
restoration of national sanity and strength. But he seems to
think that the extermination of the whole manufacturing
population would be a blessing, if the evil could be removed in
no other way.

Mr. Southey does not bring forward a single fact in support of
these views; and, as it seems to us, there are facts which lead
to a very different conclusion. In the first place, the poor-rate
is very decidedly lower in the manufacturing than in the
agricultural districts. If Mr. Southey will look over the
Parliamentary returns on this subject, he will find that the
amount of parochial relief required by the labourers in the
different counties of England is almost exactly in inverse
proportion to the degree in which the manufacturing system has
been introduced into those counties. The returns for the years
ending in March 1825, and in March 1828, are now before us. In
the former year we find the poor-rate highest in Sussex, about
twenty shillings to every inhabitant. Then come Buckinghamshire,
Essex, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, and Norfolk.
In all these the rate is above fifteen shillings a head. We will
not go through the whole. Even in Westmoreland and the North
Riding of Yorkshire, the rate is at more than eight shillings. In
Cumberland and Monmouthshire, the most fortunate of all the
agricultural districts, it is at six shillings. But in the West
Riding of Yorkshire, it is as low as five shillings. and when we
come to Lancashire, we find it at four shillings, one-fifth of
what it is in Sussex. The returns of the year ending in March
1828 are a little, and but a little, more unfavourable to the
manufacturing districts. Lancashire, even in that season of
distress, required a smaller poor-rate than any other district,
and little more than one-fourth of the poor-rate raised in
Sussex. Cumberland alone, of the agricultural districts, was as
well off as the West Riding of Yorkshire. These facts seem to
indicate that the manufacturer is both in a more comfortable and
in a less dependent situation than the agricultural labourer.

As to the effect of the manufacturing system on the bodily
health, we must beg leave to estimate it by a standard far too
low and vulgar for a mind so imaginative as that of Mr. Southey,
the proportion of births and deaths. We know that, during the
growth of this atrocious system, this new misery, to use the
phrases of Mr. Southey, this new enormity, this birth of a
portentous age, this pest which no man can approve whose heart is
not scared or whose understanding has not been darkened, there
has been a great diminution of mortality, and that this
diminution has been greater in the manufacturing towns than
anywhere else. The mortality still is, as it always was, greater
in towns than in the country. But the difference has diminished
in an extraordinary degree. There is the best reason to believe
that the annual mortality of Manchester, about the middle of the
last century, was one in twenty-eight. It is now reckoned at one
in forty-five. In Glasgow and Leeds a similar improvement has
taken place. Nay, the rate of mortality in those three great
capitals of the manufacturing districts is now considerably less
than it was, fifty years ago, over England and Wales, taken
together, open country and all. We might with some plausibility
maintain that the people live longer because they are better fed,
better lodged, better clothed, and better attended in sickness,
and that these improvements are owing to that increase of
national wealth which the manufacturing system has produced.

Much more might be said on this subject. But to what end? It is
not from bills of mortality and statistical tables that Mr.
Southey has learned his political creed. He cannot stoop to study
the history of the system which he abuses, to strike the balance
between the good and evil which it has produced, to compare
district with district, or generation with generation.  We will
give his own reason for his opinion, the only reason which he
gives for it, in his own words:--

"We remained a while in silence looking upon the assemblage of
dwellings below. Here, and in the adjoining hamlet of Millbeck,
the effects of manufactures and of agriculture may be seen and
compared. The old cottages are such as the poet and the painter
equally delight in beholding. Substantially built of the native
stone without mortar, dirtied with no white lime, and their long
low roofs covered with slate, if they had been raised by the
magic of some indigenous Amphion's music, the materials could not
have adjusted themselves more beautifully in accord with the
surrounding scene; and time has still further harmonized them
with weather stains, lichens, and moss, short grasses, and short
fern, and stone-plants of various kinds. The ornamented chimneys,
round or square, less adorned than those which, like little
turrets, crest the houses of the Portuguese peasantry; and yet
not less happily suited to their place, the hedge of clipt box
beneath the windows, the rose-bushes beside the door, the little
patch of flower-ground, with its tall hollyhocks in front; the
garden beside, the bee-hives, and the orchard with its bank of
daffodils and snow-drops, the earliest and the profusest in these
parts, indicate in the owners some portion of ease and leisure,
some regard to neatness and comfort, some sense of natural, and
innocent, and healthful enjoyment. The new cottages of the
manufacturers are upon the manufacturing pattern--naked, and in a

"'How is it,' said I, 'that everything which is connected with
manufactures presents such features of unqualified deformity?
From the largest of Mammon's temples down to the poorest hovel in
which his helotry are stalled, these edifices have all one
character. Time will not mellow them; nature will neither clothe
nor conceal them; and they will remain always as offensive to the
eye as to the mind.'"

Here is wisdom. Here are the principles on which nations are to
be governed. Rose-bushes and poor-rates, rather than steam-
engines and independence. Mortality and cottages with weather-
stains, rather than health and long life with edifices which time
cannot mellow. We are told, that our age has invented atrocities
beyond the imagination of our fathers; that society has been
brought into a state compared with which extermination would be a
blessing; and all because the dwellings of cotton-spinners are
naked and rectangular. Mr. Southey has found out a way, he tells
us, in which the effects of manufactures and agriculture may be
compared. And what is this way? To stand on a hill, to look at a
cottage and a factory, and to see which is the prettier. Does Mr.
Southey think that the body of the English peasantry live, or
ever lived, in substantial or ornamented cottages, with box-
hedges, flower-gardens, beehives, and orchards? If not, what is
his parallel worth? We despise those mock philosophers, who think
that they serve the cause of science by depreciating literature
and the fine arts. But if anything could excuse their narrowness
of mind, it would be such a book as this. It is not strange that,
when one enthusiast makes the picturesque the test of political
good, another should feel inclined to proscribe altogether the
pleasures of taste and imagination.

Thus it is that Mr. Southey reasons about matters with which he
thinks himself perfectly conversant. We cannot, therefore, be
surprised to find that he commits extraordinary blunders when he
writes on points of which he acknowledges himself to be ignorant.
He confesses that he is not versed in political economy, and that
he has neither liking nor aptitude for it; and he then proceeds
to read the public a lecture concerning it which fully bears out
his confession.

"All wealth," says Sir Thomas More, "in former times was
tangible. It consisted in land, money, or chattels, which were
either of real or conventional value."

Montesinos, as Mr. Southey somewhat affectedly calls himself,
answers thus:--

"Jewels, for example, and pictures, as in Holland, where indeed
at one time tulip bulbs answered the same purpose."

"That bubble," says Sir Thomas, "was one of those contagious
insanities to which communities are subject. All wealth was real,
till the extent of commerce rendered a paper currency necessary;
which differed from precious stones and pictures in this
important point, that there was no limit to its production."

"We regard it," says Montesinos, "as the representative of real
wealth; and, therefore, limited always to the amount of what it

"Pursue that notion," answers the ghost, "and you will be in the
dark presently. Your provincial banknotes, which constitute
almost wholly the circulating medium of certain districts, pass
current to-day. Tomorrow tidings may come that the house which
issued them has stopt payment, and what do they represent then?
You will find them the shadow of a shade."

We scarcely know at which end to begin to disentangle this knot
of absurdities. We might ask, why it should be a greater proof of
insanity in men to set a high value on rare tulips than on rare
stones, which are neither more useful nor more beautiful? We
might ask how it can be said that there is no limit to the
production of paper money, when a man is hanged if he issues any
in the name of another, and is forced to cash what he issues in
his own? But Mr. Southey's error lies deeper still. "All wealth,"
says he, "was tangible and real till paper currency was
introduced." Now, was there ever, since men emerged from a state
of utter barbarism, an age in which there were no debts? Is not a
debt, while the solvency of the debtor is undoubted, always
reckoned as part of the wealth of the creditor? Yet is it
tangible and real wealth? Does it cease to be wealth, because
there is the security of a written acknowledgment for it? And
what else is paper currency? Did Mr. Southey ever read a
banknote? If he did, he would see that it is a written
acknowledgment of a debt, and a promise to pay that debt. The
promise may be violated, the debt may remain unpaid: those to
whom it was due may suffer: but this is a risk not confined to
cases of paper currency: it is a risk inseparable from the
relation of debtor and creditor. Every man who sells goods for
anything but ready money runs the risk of finding that what he
considered as part of his wealth one day is nothing at all the
next day. Mr. Southey refers to the picture-galleries of Holland.
The pictures were undoubtedly real and tangible possessions. But
surely it might happen that a burgomaster might owe a picture-
dealer a thousand guilders for a Teniers. What in this case
corresponds to our paper money is not the picture, which is
tangible, but the claim of the picture-dealer on his customer for
the price of the picture; and this claim is not tangible. Now,
would not the picture-dealer consider this claim as part of his
wealth? Would not a tradesman who knew of the claim give credit
to the picture-dealer the more readily on account of the claim?
The burgomaster might be ruined. If so, would not those
consequences follow which, as Mr. Southey tells us, were never
heard of till paper money came into use? Yesterday this claim was
worth a thousand guilders. To-day what is it? The shadow of a

It is true that, the more readily claims of this sort are
transferred from hand to hand, the more extensive will be the
injury produced by a single failure. The laws of all nations
sanction, in certain cases, the transfer of rights not yet
reduced into possession. Mr. Southey would scarcely wish, we
should think, that all indorsements of bills and notes should be
declared invalid. Yet even if this were done, the transfer of
claims would imperceptibly take place, to a very great extent.
When the baker trusts the butcher, for example, he is in fact,
though not in form, trusting the butcher's customers. A man who
owes large bills to tradesmen, and fails to pay them, almost
always produces distress through a very wide circle of people
with whom he never dealt.

In short, what Mr. Southey takes for a difference in kind is only
a difference of form and degree. In every society men have claims
on the property of others. In every society there is a
possibility that some debtors may not be able to fulfil their
obligations. In every society, therefore, there is wealth which
is not tangible, and which may become the shadow of a shade.

Mr. Southey then proceeds to a dissertation on the national debt,
which he considers in a new and most consolatory light, as a
clear addition to the income of the country.

"You can understand," says Sir Thomas, "that it constitutes a
great part of the national wealth."

"So large a part," answers Montesinos, "that the interest
amounted, during the prosperous times of agriculture, to as much
as the rental of all the land in Great Britain; and at present to
the rental of all lands, all houses, and all other fixed property
put together."

The Ghost and Laureate agree that it is very desirable that there
should be so secure and advantageous a deposit for wealth as the
funds afford. Sir Thomas then proceeds:

"Another and far more momentous benefit must not be overlooked;
the expenditure of an annual interest, equalling, as you have
stated, the present rental of all fixed property."

"That expenditure," quoth Montesinos, "gives employment to half
the industry in the kingdom, and feeds half the mouths. Take,
indeed, the weight of the national debt from this great and
complicated social machine, and the wheels must stop."

From this passage we should have been inclined to think that Mr.
Southey supposes the dividends to be a free gift periodically
sent down from heaven to the fundholders, as quails and manna
were sent to the Israelites; were it not that he has vouchsafed,
in the following question and answer, to give the public some
information which, we believe, was very little needed.

"Whence comes the interest?" says Sir Thomas.

"It is raised," answers Montesinos, "by taxation."

Now, has Mr. Southey ever considered what would be done with this
sum if it were not paid as interest to the national creditor? If
he would think over this matter for a short time, we suspect that
the "momentous benefit" of which he talks would appear to him to
shrink strangely in amount. A fundholder, we will suppose, spends
dividends amounting to five hundred pounds a year; and his ten
nearest neighbours pay fifty pounds each to the tax-gatherer, for
the purpose of discharging the interest of the national debt. If
the debt were wiped out, a measure, be it understood, which we by
no means recommend, the fundholder would cease to spend his five
hundred pounds a year. He would no longer give employment to
industry, or put food into the mouths of labourers. This Mr.
Southey thinks a fearful evil. But is there no mitigating
circumstance? Each of the ten neighbours of our fundholder has
fifty pounds a year more than formerly. Each of them will, as it
seems to our feeble understandings, employ more industry and feed
more mouths than formerly. The sum is exactly the same. It is in
different hands. But on what grounds does Mr. Southey call upon
us to believe that it is in the hands of men who will spend it
less liberally or less judiciously? He seems to think that nobody
but a fundholder can employ the poor; that, if a tax is remitted,
those who formerly used to pay it proceed immediately to dig
holes in the earth, and to bury the sum which the Government had
been accustomed to take; that no money can set industry in motion
till such money has been taken by the tax-gatherer out of one
man's pocket and put into another man's pocket. We really wish
that Mr. Southey would try to prove this principle, which is
indeed the foundation of his whole theory of finance: for we
think it right to hint to him that our hard-hearted and
unimaginative generation will expect some more satisfactory
reason than the only one with which he has yet favoured it,
namely, a similitude touching evaporation and dew.

Both the theory and the illustration, indeed, are old friends of
ours. In every season of distress which we can remember, Mr.
Southey has been proclaiming that it is not from economy, but
from increased taxation, that the country must expect relief; and
he still, we find, places the undoubting faith of a political
Diafoirus, in his

"Resaignare, repurgare, et reclysterizare."

"A people," he tells us, "may be too rich, but a government
cannot be so."

"A state," says he, "cannot have more wealth at its command than
may be employed for the general good, a liberal expenditure in
national works being one of the surest means of promoting
national prosperity; and the benefit being still more obvious, of
an expenditure directed to the purposes of national improvement.
But a people may be too rich."

We fully admit that a state cannot have at its command more
wealth than may be employed for the general good. But neither can
individuals, or bodies of individuals, have at their command more
wealth than may be employed for the general good. If there be no
limit to the sum which may be usefully laid out in public works
and national improvement, then wealth, whether in the hands of
private men or of the Government, may always, if the possessors
choose to spend it usefully, be usefully spent. The only ground,
therefore, on which Mr. Southey can possibly maintain that a
government cannot be too rich, but that a people may be too rich,
must be this, that governments are more likely to spend their
money on good objects than private individuals.

But what is useful expenditure? "A liberal expenditure in
national works," says Mr. Southey, "is one of the surest means
for promoting national prosperity." What does he mean by national
prosperity? Does he mean the wealth of the State? If so, his
reasoning runs thus: The more wealth a state has the better; for
the more wealth a state has the more wealth it will have. This is
surely something like that fallacy, which is ungallantly termed a
lady's reason. If by national prosperity he means the wealth of
the people, of how gross a contradiction is Mr. Southey guilty. A
people, he tells us, may be too rich: a government cannot: for a
government can employ its riches in making the people richer. The
wealth of the people is to be taken from them, because they have
too much, and laid out in works, which will yield them more.

We are really at a loss to determine whether Mr. Southey's reason
for recommending large taxation is that it will make the people
rich, or that it will make them poor. But we are sure that, if
his object is to make them rich, he takes the wrong course. There
are two or three principles respecting public works, which, as an
experience of vast extent proves, may be trusted in almost every

It scarcely ever happens that any private man or body of men will
invest property in a canal, a tunnel, or a bridge, but from an
expectation that the outlay will be profitable to them. No work
of this sort can be profitable to private speculators, unless the
public be willing to pay for the use of it. The public will not
pay of their own accord for what yields no profit or convenience
to them. There is thus a direct and obvious connection between
the motive which induces individuals to undertake such a work,
and the utility of the work.

Can we find any such connection in the case of a public work
executed by a government? If it is useful, are the individuals
who rule the country richer? If it is useless, are they poorer? A
public man may be solicitous for his credit. But is not he likely
to gain more credit by an useless display of ostentatious
architecture in a great town than by the best road or the best
canal in some remote province? The fame of public works is a
much less certain test of their utility than the amount of toll
collected at them. In a corrupt age, there will be direct
embezzlement. In the purest age, there will be abundance of
jobbing. Never were the statesmen of any country more sensitive
to public opinion, and more spotless in pecuniary transactions,
than those who have of late governed England. Yet we have only to
look at the buildings recently erected in London for a proof of
our rule. In a bad age, the fate of the public is to be robbed
outright. In a good age, it is merely to have the dearest and the
worst of everything.

Buildings for State purposes the State must erect. And here we
think that, in general, the State ought to stop. We firmly
believe that five hundred thousand pounds subscribed by
individuals for rail-roads or canals would produce more advantage
to the public than five millions voted by Parliament for the same
purpose. There are certain old saws about the master's eye and
about everybody's business, in which we place very great faith.

There is, we have said, no consistency in Mr. Southey's political
system. But if there be in his political system any leading
principle, any one error which diverges more widely and variously
than any other, it is that of which his theory about national
works is a ramification. He conceives that the business of the
magistrate is, not merely to see that the persons and property of
the people are secure from attack, but that he ought to be a
jack-of-all-trades, architect, engineer, schoolmaster, merchant,
theologian, a Lady Bountiful in every parish, a Paul Pry in every
house, spying, eaves-dropping, relieving, admonishing, spending
our money for us, and choosing our opinions for us. His principle
is, if we understand it rightly, that no man can do anything so
well for himself as his rulers, be they who they may, can do it
for him, and that a government approaches nearer and nearer to
perfection, in proportion as it interferes more and more with the
habits and notions of individuals.

He seems to be fully convinced that it is in the power of
government to relieve all the distresses under which the lower
orders labour. Nay, he considers doubt on this subject as
impious. We cannot refrain from quoting his argument on this
subject. It is a perfect jewel of logic:

"'Many thousands in your metropolis,' says Sir Thomas More, 'rise
every morning without knowing how they are to subsist during the
day; as many of them, where they are to lay their heads at night.
All men, even the vicious themselves, know that wickedness leads
to misery: but many, even among the good and the wise, have yet
to learn that misery is almost as often the cause of wickedness.'

"'There are many,' says Montesinos, 'who know this, but believe
that it is not in the power of human institutions to prevent this
misery. They see the effect, but regard the causes as inseparable
from the condition of human nature.'

"'As surely as God is good,' replies Sir Thomas, 'so surely there
is no such thing as necessary evil. For, by the religious mind,
sickness, and pain, and death, are not to be accounted evils.'"

Now if sickness, pain, and death, are not evils, we cannot
understand why it should be an evil that thousands should rise
without knowing how they are to subsist. The only evil of hunger
is that it produces first pain, then sickness, and finally death.
If it did not produce these, it would be no calamity. If these
are not evils, it is no calamity. We will propose a very plain
dilemma: either physical pain is an evil, or it is not an evil.
If it is an evil, then there is necessary evil in the universe:
if it is not, why should the poor be delivered from it?

Mr. Southey entertains as exaggerated a notion of the wisdom of
governments as of their power. He speaks with the greatest
disgust of the respect now paid to public opinion. That opinion
is, according to him, to be distrusted and dreaded; its
usurpation ought to be vigorously resisted; and the practice of
yielding to it is likely to ruin the country. To maintain police
is, according to him, only one of the ends of government. The
duties of a ruler are patriarchal and paternal. He ought to
consider the moral discipline of the people as his first object,
to establish a religion, to train the whole community in that
religion, and to consider all dissenters as his own enemies.

"'Nothing,' says Sir Thomas, 'is more certain, than that religion
is the basis upon which civil government rests; that from
religion power derives its authority, laws their efficacy, and
both their zeal and sanction; and it is necessary that this
religion be established as for the security of the state, and for
the welfare of the people, who would otherwise be moved to and
fro with every wind of doctrine. A state is secure in proportion
as the people are attached to its institutions; it is, therefore,
the first and plainest rule of sound policy, that the people be
trained up in the way they should go. The state that neglects
this prepares its own destruction; and they who train them in any
other way are undermining it. Nothing in abstract science can be
more certain than these positions are.'

"'All of which,' answers Montesinos, 'are nevertheless denied by
our professors of the arts Babblative and Scribblative: some in
the audacity of evil designs, and others in the glorious
assurance of impenetrable ignorance.'

The greater part of the two volumes before us is merely an
amplification of these paragraphs. What does Mr. Southey mean by
saying that religion is demonstrably the basis of civil
government? He cannot surely mean that men have no motives except
those derived from religion for establishing and supporting civil
government, that no temporal advantage is derived from civil
government, that men would experience no temporal inconvenience
from living in a state of anarchy? If he allows, as we think he
must allow, that it is for the good of mankind in this world to
have civil government, and that the great majority of mankind
have always thought it for their good in this world to have civil
government, we then have a basis for government quite distinct
from religion. It is true that the Christian religion sanctions
government, as it sanctions everything which promotes the
happiness and virtue of our species. But we are at a loss to
conceive in what sense religion can be said to be the basis of
government, in which religion is not also the basis of the
practices of eating, drinking, and lighting fires in cold
weather. Nothing in history is more certain than that government
has existed, has received some obedience, and has given some
protection, in times in which it derived no support from
religion, in times in which there was no religion that influenced
the hearts and lives of men. It was not from dread of Tartarus,
or from belief in the Elysian fields, that an Athenian wished to
have some institutions which might keep Orestes from filching his
cloak, or Midias from breaking his head. "It is from religion,"
says Mr. Southey, "that power derives its authority, and laws
their efficacy." From what religion does our power over the
Hindoos derive its authority, or the law in virtue of which we
hang Brahmins its efficacy? For thousands of years civil
government has existed in almost every corner of the world, in
ages of priestcraft, in ages of fanaticism, in ages of Epicurean
indifference, in ages of enlightened piety. However pure or
impure the faith of the people might be, whether they adored a
beneficent or a malignant power, whether they thought the soul
mortal or immortal, they have, as soon as they ceased to be
absolute savages, found out their need of civil government, and
instituted it accordingly. It is as universal as the practice of
cookery. Yet, it is as certain, says Mr. Southey, as anything in
abstract science, that government is founded on religion. We
should like to know what notion Mr. Southey has of the
demonstrations of abstract science. A very vague one, we suspect.

The proof proceeds. As religion is the basis of government, and
as the State is secure in proportion as the people are attached
to public institutions, it is therefore, says Mr. Southey, the
first rule of policy, that the government should train the people
in the way in which they should go; and it is plain that those
who train them in any other way are undermining the State.

Now it does not appear to us to be the first object that people
should always believe in the established religion and be attached
to the established government. A religion may be false. A
government may be oppressive. And whatever support government
gives to false religions, or religion to oppressive governments,
we consider as a clear evil.

The maxim, that governments ought to train the people in the way
in which they should go, sounds well. But is there any reason for
believing that a government is more likely to lead the people in
the right way than the people to fall into the right way of
themselves? Have there not been governments which were blind
leaders of the blind? Are there not still such governments? Can
it be laid down as a general rule that the movement of political
and religious truth is rather downwards from the government to
the people than upwards from the people to the government? These
are questions which it is of importance to have clearly resolved.
Mr. Southey declaims against public opinion, which is now, he
tells us, usurping supreme power. Formerly, according to him, the
laws governed; now public opinion governs. What are laws but
expressions of the opinion of some class which has power over the
rest of the community? By what was the world ever governed but by
the opinion of some person or persons? By what else can it ever
be governed? What are all systems, religious, political, or
scientific, but opinions resting on evidence more or less
satisfactory? The question is not between human opinion and some
higher and more certain mode of arriving at truth, but between
opinion and opinion, between the opinions of one man and another,
or of one class and another, or of one generation and another.
Public opinion is not infallible; but can Mr. Southey construct
any institutions which shall secure to us the guidance of an
infallible opinion? Can Mr. Southey select any family, any
profession, any class, in short, distinguished by any plain
badge from the rest of the community, whose opinion is more
likely to be just than this much abused public opinion? Would
he choose the peers, for example? Or the two hundred tallest
men in the country? Or the poor Knights of Windsor? Or children
who are born with cauls? Or the seventh sons of seventh sons?
We cannot suppose that he would recommend popular election; for
that is merely an appeal to public opinion. And to say that
society ought to be governed by the opinion of the wisest and
best, though true, is useless. Whose opinion is to decide who are
the wisest and best?

Mr. Southey and many other respectable people seem to think that,
when they have once proved the moral and religious training of
the people to be a most important object, it follows, of course,
that it is an object which the government ought to pursue. They
forget that we have to consider, not merely the goodness of the
end, but also the fitness of the means. Neither in the natural
nor in the political body have all members the same office. There
is surely no contradiction in saying that a certain section of
the community may be quite competent to protect the persons and
property of the rest, yet quite unfit to direct our opinions, or
to superintend our private habits.

So strong is the interest of a ruler to protect his subjects
against all depredations and outrages except his own, so clear
and simple are the means by which this end is to be effected,
that men are probably better off under the worst governments in
the world than they would be in a state of anarchy. Even when the
appointment of magistrates has been left to chance, as in the
Italian Republics, things have gone on far better than if there
had been no magistrates at all, and if every man had done what
seemed right in his own eyes. But we see no reason for thinking
that the opinions of the magistrate on speculative questions are
more likely to be right than those of any other man. None of the
modes by which a magistrate is appointed, popular election, the
accident of the lot, or the accident of birth, affords, as far as
we can perceive, much security for his being wiser than any of
his neighbours. The chance of his being wiser than all his
neighbours together is still smaller. Now we cannot understand
how it can be laid down that it is the duty and the right of one
class to direct the opinions of another, unless it can be proved
that the former class is more likely to form just opinions than
the latter.

The duties of government would be, as Mr. Southey says that they
are, paternal, if a government were necessarily as much superior
in wisdom to a people as the most foolish father, for a time, is
to the most intelligent child, and if a government loved a people
as fathers generally love their children. But there is no reason
to believe that a government will have either the paternal warmth
of affection or the paternal superiority of intellect. Mr.
Southey might as well say that the duties of the shoemaker are
paternal, and that it is an usurpation in any man not of the
craft to say that his shoes are bad and to insist on having
better. The division of labour would be no blessing, if those by
whom a thing is done were to pay no attention to the opinion of
those for whom it is done. The shoemaker, in the Relapse, tells
Lord Foppington that his Lordship is mistaken in supposing that
his shoe pinches. "It does not pinch; it cannot pinch; I know my
business; and I never made a better shoe." This is the way in
which Mr. Southey would have a government treat a people who
usurp the privilege of thinking. Nay, the shoemaker of Vanbrugh
has the advantage in the comparison. He contented himself with
regulating his customer's shoes, about which he had peculiar
means of information, and did not presume to dictate about the
coat and hat. But Mr. Southey would have the rulers of a country
prescribe opinions to the people, not only about politics, but
about matters concerning which a government has no peculiar
sources of information, and concerning which any man in the
streets may know as much and think as justly as the King, namely
religion and morals.

Men are never so likely to settle a question rightly as when they
discuss it freely. A government can interfere in discussion only
by making it less free than it would otherwise be. Men are most
likely to form just opinions when they have no other wish than to
know the truth, and are exempt from all influence, either of hope
or fear. Government, as government, can bring nothing but the
influence of hopes and fears to support its doctrines. It carries
on controversy, not with reasons, but with threats and bribes. If
it employs reasons, it does so, not in virtue of any powers which
belong to it as a government. Thus, instead of a contest between
argument and argument, we have a contest between argument and
force. Instead of a contest in which truth, from the natural
constitution of the human mind, has a decided advantage over
falsehood, we have a contest in which truth can be victorious
only by accident.

And what, after all, is the security which this training gives to
governments? Mr. Southey would scarcely propose that discussion
should be more effectually shackled, that public opinion should
be more strictly disciplined into conformity with established
institutions, than in Spain and Italy. Yet we know that the
restraints which exist in Spain and Italy have not prevented
atheism from spreading among the educated classes, and especially
among those whose office it is to minister at the altars of God.
All our readers know how, at the time of the French Revolution,
priest after priest came forward to declare that his doctrine,
his ministry, his whole life, had been a lie, a mummery during
which he could scarcely compose his countenance sufficiently to
carry on the imposture. This was the case of a false, or at least
of a grossly corrupted religion. Let us take then the case of all
others most favourable to Mr. Southey's argument. Let us take
that form of religion which he holds to be the purest, the system
of the Arminian part of the Church of England. Let us take the
form of government which he most admires and regrets, the
government of England in the time of Charles the First. Would he
wish to see a closer connection between Church and State than
then existed? Would he wish for more powerful ecclesiastical
tribunals? for a more zealous King? for a more active primate?
Would he wish to see a more complete monopoly of public
instruction given to the Established Church? Could any government
do more to train the people in the way in which he would have
them go? And in what did all this training end? The Report of the
state of the Province of Canterbury, delivered by Laud to his
master at the close of 1639, represents the Church of England as
in the highest and most palmy state. So effectually had the
Government pursued that policy which Mr. Southey wishes to see
revived that there was scarcely the least appearance of dissent.
Most of the bishops stated that all was well among their flocks.
Seven or eight persons in the diocese of Peterborough had seemed
refractory to the Church, but had made ample submission. In
Norfolk and Suffolk all whom there had been reason to suspect had
made profession of conformity, and appeared to observe it
strictly. It is confessed that there was a little difficulty in
bringing some of the vulgar in Suffolk to take the sacrament at
the rails in the chancel. This was the only open instance of
nonconformity which the vigilant eye of Laud could detect in all
the dioceses of his twenty-one suffragans, on the very eve of a
revolution in which primate, and Church, and monarch, and
monarchy were to perish together.

At which time would Mr. Southey pronounce the constitution more
secure: in 1639, when Laud presented this Report to Charles; or
now, when thousands of meetings openly collect millions of
dissenters, when designs against the tithes are openly avowed,
when books attacking not only the Establishment, but the first
principles of Christianity, are openly sold in the streets? The
signs of discontent, he tells us, are stronger in England now
than in France when the States-General met: and hence he would
have us infer that a revolution like that of France may be at
hand. Does he not know that the danger of states is to be
estimated, not by what breaks out of the public mind, but by what
stays in it? Can he conceive anything more terrible than the
situation of a government which rules without apprehension over a
people of hypocrites, which is flattered by the press and cursed
in the inner chambers, which exults in the attachment and
obedience of its subjects, and knows not that those subjects are
leagued against it in a free-masonry of hatred, the sign of which
is every day conveyed in the glance of ten thousand eyes, the
pressure of ten thousand hands, and the tone of ten thousand
voices? Profound and ingenious policy! Instead of curing the
disease, to remove those symptoms by which alone its nature can
be known! To leave the serpent his deadly sting, and deprive him
only of his warning rattle!

When the people whom Charles had so assiduously trained in the
good way had rewarded his paternal care by cutting off his head,
a new kind of training came into fashion. Another government
arose which, like the former, considered religion as its surest
basis, and the religious discipline of the people as its first
duty. Sanguinary laws were enacted against libertinism; profane
pictures were burned; drapery was put on indecorous statues; the
theatres were shut up; fast-days were numerous; and the
Parliament resolved that no person should be admitted into any
public employment, unless the House should be first satisfied of
his vital godliness. We know what was the end of this training.
We know that it ended in impiety in filthy and heartless
sensuality, in the dissolution of all ties of honour and
morality. We know that at this very day scriptural phrases,
scriptural names, perhaps some scriptural doctrines excite
disgust and ridicule, solely because they are associated with the
austerity of that period.

Thus has the experiment of training the people in established
forms of religion been twice tried in England on a large scale,
once by Charles and Laud, and once by the Puritans. The High
Tories of our time still entertain many of the feelings and
opinions of Charles and Laud, though in a mitigated form; nor is
it difficult to see that the heirs of the Puritans are still
amongst us. It would be desirable that each of these parties
should remember how little advantage or honour it formerly
derived from the closest alliance with power, that it fall by the
support of rulers and rose by their opposition, that of the two
systems that in which the people were at any time drilled was
always at that time the unpopular system, that the training of
the High Church ended in the reign of the Puritans, and that the
training of the Puritans ended in the reign of the harlots.

This was quite natural. Nothing is so galling to a people not
broken in from the birth as a paternal, or, in other words, a
meddling government, a government which tells them what to read,
and say, and eat, and drink, and wear. Our fathers could not bear
it two hundred year ago; and we are not more patient than they.
Mr. Southey thinks that the yoke of the Church is dropping off
because it is loose. We feel convinced that it is borne only
because it is easy, and that, in the instant in which an attempt
is made to tighten it, it will be flung away. It will be neither
the first nor the strongest yoke that has been broken asunder and
trampled under foot in the day of the vengeance of England.

How far Mr. Southey would have the Government carry its measures
for training the people in the doctrines of the Church, we are
unable to discover. In one passage Sir Thomas More asks with
great vehemence,

"Is it possible that your laws should suffer the unbelievers to
exist as a party? Vetitum est adeo sceleris nihil?"

Montesinos answers: "They avow themselves in defiance of the
laws. The fashionable doctrine which the press at this time
maintains is, that this is a matter in which the laws ought not
to interfere, every man having a right, both to form what opinion
he pleases upon religious subjects, and to promulgate that

It is clear, therefore, that Mr. Southey would not give full and
perfect toleration to infidelity. In another passage, however, he
observes with some truth, though too sweepingly, that "any degree
of intolerance short of that full extent which the Papal Church
exercises where it has the power, acts upon the opinions which it
is intended to suppress, like pruning upon vigorous plants; they
grow the stronger for it." These two passages, put together,
would lead us to the conclusion that, in Mr. Southey's opinion,
the utmost severity ever employed by the Roman Catholic Church in
the days of its greatest power ought to be employed against
unbelievers in England; in plain words, that Carlile and his
shopmen ought to be burned in Smithfield, and that every person
who, when called upon, should decline to make a solemn profession
of Christianity ought to suffer the same fate. We do not,
however, believe that Mr. Southey would recommend such a course,
though his language would, according to all the rules of logic,
justify us in supposing this to be his meaning. His opinions form
no system at all. He never sees, at one glance, more of a
question than will furnish matter for one flowing and well-turned
sentence; so that it would be the height of unfairness to charge
him personally with holding a doctrine merely because that
doctrine is deducible, though by the closest and most accurate
reasoning, from the premises which he has laid down. We are,
therefore, left completely in the dark as to Mr. Southey's
opinions about toleration. Immediately after censuring the
Government for not punishing infidels, he proceeds to discuss the
question of the Catholic disabilities, now, thank God, removed,
and defends them on the ground that the Catholic doctrines tend
to persecution, and that the Catholics persecuted when they had

"They must persecute," says he, "if they believe their own creed,
for conscience-sake; and if they do not believe it, they must
persecute for policy; because it is only by intolerance that so
corrupt and injurious a system can be upheld."

That unbelievers should not be persecuted is an instance of
national depravity at which the glorified spirits stand aghast.
Yet a sect of Christians is to be excluded from power, because
those who formerly held the same opinions were guilty of
persecution. We have said that we do not very well know what Mr.
Southey's opinion about toleration is. But, on the whole, we take
it to be this, that everybody is to tolerate him, and that he is
to tolerate nobody.

We will not be deterred by any fear of misrepresentation from
expressing our hearty approbation of the mild, wise, and
eminently Christian manner in which the Church and the Government
have lately acted with respect to blasphemous publications. We
praise them for not having thought it necessary to encircle a
religion pure, merciful, and philosophical, a religion to the
evidence of which the highest intellects have yielded, with the
defences of a false and bloody superstition. The ark of God was
never taken till it was surrounded by the arms of earthly
defenders. In captivity, its sanctity was sufficient to vindicate
it from insult, and to lay the hostile fiend prostrate on the
threshold of his own temple. The real security of Christianity is
to be found in its benevolent morality, in its exquisite
adaptation to the human heart, in the facility with which its
scheme accommodates itself to the capacity of every human
intellect, in the consolation which it bears to the house of
mourning, in the light with which it brightens the great mystery
of the grave. To such a system it can bring no addition of
dignity or of strength, that it is part and parcel of the common
law. It is not now for the first time left to rely on the force
of its own evidences and the attractions of its own beauty. Its
sublime theology confounded the Grecian schools in the fair
conflict of reason with reason. The bravest and wisest of the
Caesars found their arms and their policy unavailing, when
opposed to the weapons that were not carnal and the kingdom that
was not of this world. The victory which Porphyry and Diocletian
failed to gain is not, to all appearance, reserved for any of
those who have in this age, directed their attacks against the
last restraint of the powerful and the last hope of the wretched.
The whole history of Christianity shows, that she is in far
greater danger of being corrupted by the alliance of power, than
of being crushed by its opposition. Those who thrust temporal
sovereignty upon her treat her as their prototypes treated her
author. They bow the knee, and spit upon her; they cry "Hail!"
and smite her on the cheek; they put a sceptre in her hand, but
it is a fragile reed; they crown her, but it is with thorns; they
cover with purple the wounds which their own hands have inflicted
on her; and inscribe magnificent titles over the cross on which
they have fixed her to perish in ignominy and pain.

The general view which Mr. Southey takes of the prospects of
society is very gloomy; but we comfort ourselves with the
consideration that Mr. Southey is no prophet. He foretold, we
remember, on the very eve of the abolition of the Test and
Corporation Acts, that these hateful laws were immortal, and that
pious minds would long be gratified by seeing the most solemn
religious rite of the Church profaned for the purpose of
upholding her political supremacy. In the book before us, he says
that Catholics cannot possibly be admitted into Parliament until
those whom Johnson called "the bottomless Whigs" come into power.
While the book was in the press, the prophecy was falsified; and
a Tory of the Tories, Mr. Southey's own favourite hero, won and
wore that noblest wreath, "Ob cives servatos."

The signs of the times, Mr. Southey tells us, are very
threatening. His fears for the country would decidedly
preponderate over his hopes, but for a firm reliance on the mercy
of God. Now, as we know that God has once suffered the civilised
world to be overrun by savages, and the Christian religion to be
corrupted by doctrines which made it, for some ages, almost as
bad as Paganism, we cannot think it inconsistent with his
attributes that similar calamities should again befal mankind.

We look, however, on the state of the world, and of this kingdom
in particular, with much greater satisfaction and with better
hopes. Mr. Southey speaks with contempt of those who think the
savage state happier than the social. On this subject, he says,
Rousseau never imposed on him even in his youth. But he conceives
that a community which has advanced a little way in civilisation
is happier than one which has made greater progress. The Britons
in the time of Caesar were happier, he suspects, than the English
of the nineteenth century. On the whole, he selects the
generation which preceded the Reformation as that in which the
people of this country were better off than at any time before or

This opinion rests on nothing, as far as we can see, except his
own individual associations. He is a man of letters; and a life
destitute of literary pleasures seems insipid to him. He abhors
the spirit of the present generation, the severity of its
studies, the boldness of its inquiries, and the disdain with
which it regards some old prejudices by which his own mind is
held in bondage. He dislikes an utterly unenlightened age; he
dislikes an investigating and reforming age. The first twenty
years of the sixteenth century would have exactly suited him.
They furnished just the quantity of intellectual excitement which
he requires. The learned few read and wrote largely. A scholar
was held in high estimation. But the rabble did not presume to
think; and even the most inquiring and independent of the
educated classes paid more reverence to authority, and less to
reason, than is usual in our time. This is a state of things in
which Mr. Southey would have found himself quite comfortable;
and, accordingly, he pronounces it the happiest state of things
ever known in the world.

The savages were wretched, says Mr. Southey; but the people in
the time of Sir Thomas More were happier than either they or we.
Now we think it quite certain that we have the advantage over the
contemporaries of Sir Thomas More, in every point in which they
had any advantage over savages.

Mr. Southey does not even pretend to maintain that the people in
the sixteenth century were better lodged or clothed than at
present. He seems to admit that in these respects there has been
some little improvement. It is indeed a matter about which
scarcely any doubt can exist in the most perverse mind that the
improvements of machinery have lowered the price of manufactured
articles, and have brought within the reach of the poorest some
conveniences which Sir Thomas More or his master could not have
obtained at any price.

The labouring classes, however, were, according to Mr. Southey,
better fed three hundred years ago than at present. We believe
that he is completely in error on this point. The condition of
servants in noble and wealthy families, and of scholars at the
Universities, must surely have been better in those times than
that of day-labourers; and we are sure that it was not better
than that of our workhouse paupers. From the household book of
the Northumberland family, we find that in one of the greatest
establishments of the kingdom the servants lived very much as
common sailors live now. In the reign of Edward the Sixth the
state of the students at Cambridge is described to us, on the
very best authority, as most wretched. Many of them dined on
pottage made of a farthing's worth of beef with a little salt and
oatmeal, and literally nothing else. This account we have from a
contemporary master of St. John's. Our parish poor now eat
wheaten bread. In the sixteenth century the labourer was glad to
get barley, and was often forced to content himself with poorer
fare. In Harrison's introduction to Holinshed we have an account
of the state of our working population in the "golden days," as
Mr. Southey calls them, "of good Queen Bess." "The gentilitie,
"says he, "commonly provide themselves sufficiently of wheat for
their own tables, whylest their household and poore neighbours in
some shires are inforced to content themselves with rye or
barleie; yea, and in time of dearth, many with bread made eyther
of beanes, peason, or otes, or of altogether, and some accrues
among. I will not say that this extremity is oft so well to be
seen in time of plentie as of dearth; but if I should I could
easily bring my trial: for albeit there be much more grounde
cared nowe almost in everye place then bathe beene of late
yeares, yet such a price of corne continueth in eache towne and
markete, without any just cause, that the artificer and poore
labouring man is not able to reach unto it, but is driven to
content him self with horse-corne." We should like to see what
the effect would be of putting any parish in England now on
allowance of "horse-corne." The helotry of Mammon are not, in our
day, so easily enforced to content themselves as the peasantry of
that happy period, as Mr. Southey considers it, which elapsed
between the fall of the feudal and the rise of the commercial

"The people," says Mr. Southey, "are worse fed than when they
were fishers." And yet in another place he complains that they
will not eat fish. "They have contracted," says he, "I know not
how, some obstinate prejudice against a kind of food at once
wholesome and delicate, and everywhere to be obtained cheaply and
in abundance, were the demand for it as general as it ought to
be." It is true that the lower orders have an obstinate prejudice
against fish. But hunger has no such obstinate prejudices. If
what was formerly a common diet is now eaten only in times of
severe pressure, the inference is plain. The people must be fed
with what they at least think better food than that of their

The advice and medicine which the poorest labourer can now
obtain, in disease, or after an accident, is far superior to what
Henry the Eighth could have commanded. Scarcely any part of the
country is out of the reach of practitioners, who are probably
not so far inferior to Sir Henry Halford as they are superior to
Dr. Butts. That there has been a great improvement in this
respect, Mr. Southey allows. Indeed he could not well have denied
it. "But," says he, "the evils for which these sciences are the
palliative, have increased since the time of the Druids, in a
proportion that heavily overweighs the benefit of improved
therapeutics." We know nothing either of the diseases or the
remedies of the Druids. But we are quite sure that the
improvement of medicine has far more than kept pace with the
increase of disease during the last three centuries. This is
proved by the best possible evidence. The term of human life is
decidedly longer in England than in any former age, respecting
which we possess any information on which we can rely. All the
rants in the world about picturesque cottages and temples of
Mammon will not shake this argument. No test of the physical
well-being of society can be named so decisive as that which is
furnished by bills of mortality. That the lives of the people of
this country have been gradually lengthening during the course of
several generations, is as certain as any fact in statistics; and
that the lives of men should become longer and longer, while
their bodily condition during life is becoming worse and worse,
is utterly incredible.

Let our readers think over these circumstances. Let them take
into the account the sweating sickness and the plague. Let them
take into the account that fearful disease which first made its
appearance in the generation to which Mr. Southey assigns the
palm of felicity, and raged through Europe with a fury at which
the physician stood aghast, and before which the people were
swept away by myriads. Let them consider the state of the
northern counties, constantly the scene of robberies, rapes,
massacres, and conflagrations. Let them add to all this the fact
that seventy-two thousand persons suffered death by the hands of
the executioner during the reign of Henry the Eighth, and judge
between the nineteenth and the sixteenth century.

We do not say that the lower orders in England do not suffer
severe hardships. But, in spite of Mr. Southey's assertions, and
in spite of the assertions of a class of politicians, who,
differing from Mr. Southey in every other point, agree with him
in this, we are inclined to doubt whether the labouring classes
here really suffer greater physical distress than the labouring
classes of the most flourishing countries of the Continent.

It will scarcely be maintained that the lazzaroni who sleep under
the porticoes of Naples, or the beggars who besiege the convents
of Spain, are in a happier situation than the English commonalty.
The distress which has lately been experienced in the northern
part of Germany, one of the best governed and most prosperous
regions of Europe, surpasses, if we have been correctly informed,
anything which has of late years been known among us. In Norway
and Sweden the peasantry are constantly compelled to mix bark.
with their bread; and even this expedient has not always
preserved whole families and neighbourhoods from perishing
together of famine. An experiment has lately been tried in the
kingdom of the Netherlands, which has been cited to prove the
possibility of establishing agricultural colonies on the waste
lands of England, but which proves to our minds nothing so
clearly as this, that the rate of subsistence to which the
labouring classes are reduced in the Netherlands is miserably
low, and very far inferior to that of the English paupers. No
distress which the people here have endured for centuries
approaches to that which has been felt by the French in our own
time. The beginning of the year 1817 was a time of great distress
in this island. But the state of the lowest classes here was
luxury compared with that of the people of France. We find in
Magendie's Journal de Physiologie Experimentale a paper on a
point of physiology connected with the distress of that season.
It appears that the inhabitants of six departments, Aix, Jura,
Doubs, Haute Saone, Vosges, and Saone-et-Loire, were reduced
first to oatmeal and potatoes, and at last to nettles,
beanstalks, and other kinds of herbage fit only for cattle; that
when the next harvest enabled them to eat barley-bread, many of
them died from intemperate indulgence in what they thought an
exquisite repast; and that a dropsy of a peculiar description was
produced by the hard fare of the year. Dead bodies were found on
the roads and in the fields. A single surgeon dissected six of
these, and found the stomach shrunk, and filled with the
unwholesome aliments which hunger had driven men to share with
beasts. Such extremity of distress as this is never heard of in
England, or even in Ireland. We are, on the whole, inclined to
think, though we would speak with diffidence on a point on which
it would be rash to pronounce a positive judgment without a much
longer and closer investigation than we have bestowed upon it,
that the labouring classes of this island, though they have their
grievances and distresses, some produced by their own
improvidence, some by the errors of their rulers, are on the
whole better off as to physical comforts than the inhabitants of
an equally extensive district of the old world. For this very
reason, suffering is more acutely felt and more loudly bewailed
here than elsewhere. We must take into the account the liberty of
discussion, and the strong interest which the opponents of a
ministry always have, to exaggerate the extent of the public
disasters. There are countries in which the people quietly endure
distress that here would shake the foundations of the State,
countries in which the inhabitants of a whole province turn out
to eat grass with less clamour than one Spitalfields weaver would
make here, if the overseers were to put him on barley-bread. In
those new commonwealths in which a civilised population has at
its command a boundless extent of the richest soil, the condition
of the labourer is probably happier than in any society which has
lasted for many centuries. But in the old world we must confess
ourselves unable to find any satisfactory record of any great
nation, past or present, in which the working classes have been
in a more comfortable situation than in England during the last
thirty years. When this island was thinly peopled, it was
barbarous: there was little capital; and that little was
insecure. It is now the richest and most highly civilised spot in
the world; but the population is dense. Thus we have never known
that golden age which the lower orders in the United States are
now enjoying. We have never known an age of liberty, of order,
and of education, an age in which the mechanical sciences were
carried to a great height, yet in which the people were not
sufficiently numerous to cultivate even the most fertile valleys.
But, when we compare our own condition with that of our
ancestors, we think it clear that the advantages arising from the
progress of civilisation have far more than counterbalanced the
disadvantages arising from the progress of population. While our
numbers have increased tenfold, our wealth has increased a
hundredfold. Though there are so many more people to share the
wealth now existing in the country than there were in the
sixteenth century, it seems certain that a greater share falls to
almost every individual than fell to the share of any of the
corresponding class in the sixteenth century. The King keeps a
more splendid court. The establishments of the nobles are more
magnificent. The esquires are richer; the merchants are richer;
the shopkeepers are richer. The serving-man, the artisan, and the
husbandman, have a more copious and palatable supply of food,
better clothing, and better furniture. This is no reason for
tolerating abuses, or for neglecting any means of ameliorating
the condition of our poorer countrymen. But it is a reason
against telling them, as some of our philosophers are constantly
telling them, that they are the most wretched people who ever
existed on the face of the earth.

We have already adverted to Mr. Southey's amusing doctrine about
national wealth. A state, says he, cannot be too rich; but a
people may be too rich. His reason for thinking this is extremely

"A people may be too rich, because it is the tendency of the
commercial, and more especially of the manufacturing system, to
collect wealth rather than to diffuse it. Where wealth is
necessarily employed in any of the speculations of trade, its
increase is in proportion to its amount. Great capitalists become
like pikes in a fish-pond who devour the weaker fish; and it is
but too certain, that the poverty of one part of the people seems
to increase in the same ratio as the riches of another. There are
examples of this in history. In Portugal, when the high tide of
wealth flowed in from the conquests in Africa and the East, the
effect of that great influx was not more visible in the augmented
splendour of the court, and the luxury of the higher ranks, than
in the distress of the people."

Mr. Southey's instance is not a very fortunate one. The wealth
which did so little for the Portuguese was not the fruit either
of manufactures or of commerce carried on by private individuals.
It was the wealth, not of the people, but of the Government and
its creatures, of those who, as Mr. Southey thinks, can never be
too rich. The fact is, that Mr. Southey's proposition is opposed
to all history, and to the phaenomena which surround us on every
side. England is the richest country in Europe, the most
commercial country, and the country in which manufactures
flourish most. Russia and Poland are the poorest countries in
Europe. They have scarcely any trade, and none but the rudest
manufactures. Is wealth more diffused in Russia and Poland than
in England? There are individuals in Russia and Poland whose
incomes are probably equal to those of our richest countrymen. It
may be doubted whether there are not, in those countries, as many
fortunes of eighty thousand a year as here. But are there as many
fortunes of two thousand a year, or of one thousand a year? There
are parishes in England which contain more people of between
three hundred and three thousand pounds a year than could be
found in all the dominions of the Emperor Nicholas. The neat and
commodious houses which have been built in London and its
vicinity, for people of this class, within the last thirty years,
would of themselves form a city larger than the capitals of some
European kingdoms. And this is the state of society in which the
great proprietors have devoured a smaller!

The cure which Mr. Southey thinks that he has discovered is
worthy of the sagacity which he has shown in detecting the evil.
The calamities arising from the collection of wealth in the hands
of a few capitalists are to be remedied by collecting it in the
hands of one great capitalist, who has no conceivable motive to
use it better than other capitalists, the all-devouring State.

It is not strange that, differing so widely from Mr. Southey as
to the past progress of society, we should differ from him also
as to its probable destiny. He thinks, that to all outward
appearance, the country is hastening to destruction; but he
relies firmly on the goodness of God. We do not see either the
piety or the rationality of thus confidently expecting that the
Supreme Being will interfere to disturb the common succession of
causes and effects. We, too, rely on his goodness, on his
goodness as manifested, not in extraordinary interpositions, but
in those general laws which it has pleased him to establish in
the physical and in the moral world. We rely on the natural
tendency of the human intellect to truth, and on the natural
tendency of society to improvement. We know no well-authenticated
instance of a people which has decidedly retrograded in
civilisation and prosperity, except from the influence of violent
and terrible calamities, such as those which laid the Roman
Empire in ruins, or those which, about the beginning of the
sixteenth century, desolated Italy. We know of no country which,
at the end of fifty years of peace and tolerably good government,
has been less prosperous than at the beginning of that period.
The political importance of a state may decline, as the balance
of power is disturbed by the introduction of new forces. Thus the
influence of Holland and of Spain is much diminished. But are
Holland and Spain poorer than formerly? We doubt it. Other
countries have outrun them. But we suspect that they have been
positively, though not relatively, advancing. We suspect that
Holland is richer than when she sent her navies up the Thames,
that Spain is richer than when a French king was brought captive
to the footstool of Charles the Fifth.

History is full of the signs of this natural progress of society.
We see in almost every part of the annals of mankind how the
industry of individuals, struggling up against wars, taxes,
famines, conflagrations, mischievous prohibitions, and more
mischievous protections, creates faster than governments can
squander, and repairs whatever invaders can destroy. We see the
wealth of nations increasing, and all the arts of life
approaching nearer and nearer to perfection, in spite of the
grossest corruption and the wildest profusion on the part of

The present moment is one of great distress. But how small will
that distress appear when we think over the history of the last
forty years; a war, compared with which all other wars sink into
insignificance; taxation, such as the most heavily taxed people
of former times could not have conceived; a debt larger than all
the public debts that ever existed in the world added together;
the food of the people studiously rendered dear; the currency
imprudently debased, and imprudently restored. Yet is the country
poorer than in 1790? We firmly believe that, in spite of all the
misgovernment of her rulers, she has been almost constantly
becoming richer and richer. Now and then there has been a
stoppage, now and then a short retrogression; but as to the
general tendency there can be no doubt. A single breaker may
recede; but the tide is evidently coming in.

If we were to prophesy that in the year 1930 a population of
fifty millions, better fed, clad, and lodged than the English of
our time, will cover these islands, that Sussex and
Huntingdonshire will be wealthier than the wealthiest parts of
the West Riding of Yorkshire now are, that cultivation, rich as
that of a flower-garden, will be carried up to the very tops of
Ben Nevis and Helvellyn, that machines constructed on principles
yet undiscovered will be in every house, that there will be no
highways but railroads, no travelling but by steam, that our
debt, vast as it seems to us, will appear to our great-
grandchildren a trifling encumbrance, which might easily be paid
off in a year or two, many people would think us insane. We
prophesy nothing; but this we say: If any person had told the
Parliament which met in perplexity and terror after the crash in
1720 that in 1830 the wealth of England would surpass all their
wildest dreams, that the annual revenue would equal the principal
of that debt which they considered as an intolerable burden, that
for one man of ten thousand pounds then living there would be
five men of fifty thousand pounds, that London would be twice as
large and twice as populous, and that nevertheless the rate of
mortality would have diminished to one-half of what it then was,
that the post-office would bring more into the exchequer than the
excise and customs had brought in together under Charles the
Second, that stage coaches would run from London to York in
twenty-four hours, that men would be in the habit of sailing
without wind, and would be beginning to ride without horses, our
ancestors would have given as much credit to the prediction as
they gave to Gulliver's Travels. Yet the prediction would have
been true; and they would have perceived that it was not
altogether absurd, if they had considered that the country was
then raising every year a sum which would have purchased the fee-
simple of the revenue of the Plantagenets, ten times what
supported the Government of Elizabeth, three times what, in the
time of Cromwell, had been thought intolerably oppressive. To
almost all men the state of things under which they have been
used to live seems to be the necessary state of things. We have
heard it said that five per cent. is the natural interest of
money, that twelve is the natural number of a jury, that forty
shillings is the natural qualification of a county voter. Hence
it is that, though in every age everybody knows that up to his
own time progressive improvement has been taking place, nobody
seems to reckon on any improvement during the next generation. We
cannot absolutely prove that those are in error who tell us that
society has reached a turning point, that we have seen our best
days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much
apparent reason.

"A million a year will beggar us," said the patriots of 1640.
"Two millions a year will grind the country to powder," was the
cry in 1660. "Six millions a year, and a debt of fifty millions!"
exclaimed Swift, "the high allies have been the ruin of us." "A
hundred and forty millions of debt!" said Junius; "well may we
say that we owe Lord Chatham more than we shall ever pay, if we
owe him such a load as this." "Two hundred and forty millions of
debt!" cried all the statesmen of 1783 in chorus; "what
abilities, or what economy on the part of a minister, can save a
country so burdened?"  We know that if, since 1783, no fresh debt
had been incurred, the increased resources of the country would
have enabled us to defray that debt at which Pitt, Fox, and Burke
stood aghast, nay, to defray it over and over again, and that
with much lighter taxation than what we have actually borne. On
what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement
behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?

It is not by the intermeddling of Mr. Southey's idol, the
omniscient and omnipotent State, but by the prudence and energy
of the people, that England has hitherto been carried forward in
civilisation; and it is to the same prudence and the same energy
that we now look with comfort and good hope. Our rulers will best
promote the improvement of the nation by strictly confining
themselves to their own legitimate duties, by leaving capital to
find its most lucrative course, commodities their fair price,
industry and intelligence their natural reward, idleness and
folly their natural punishment, by maintaining peace, by
defending property, by diminishing the price of law, and by
observing strict economy in every department of the State. Let
the Government do this: the People will assuredly do the rest.

(January 1831)

Statement of the Civil Disabilities and Privations affecting Jews
in England. 8vo. London: 1829.

THE distinguished member of the House of Commons, who, towards
the close of the late Parliament, brought forward a proposition
for the relief of the Jews, has given notice of his intention to
renew it. The force of reason, in the last session, carried the
measure through one stage in spite of the opposition of power.
Reason and power are now on the same side; and we have little
doubt that they will conjointly achieve a decisive victory. In
order to contribute our share to the success of just principles,
we propose to pass in review, as rapidly as possible, some of the
arguments, or phrases claiming to be arguments, which have been
employed to vindicate a system full of absurdity and injustice.

The constitution, it is said, is essentially Christian; and
therefore to admit Jews to office is to destroy the constitution.
Nor is the Jew injured by being excluded from political power.
For no man has any right to power. A man has a right to his
property; a man has a right to be protected from personal injury.
These rights the law allows to the Jew; and with these rights it
would be atrocious to interfere. But it is a mere matter of
favour to admit any man to political power; and no man can justly
complain that he is shut out from it.

We cannot but admire the ingenuity of this contrivance for
shifting the burden of the proof from those to whom it properly
belongs, and who would, we suspect, find it rather cumbersome.
Surely no Christian can deny that every human being has a right
to be allowed every gratification. which produces no harm to
others, and to be spared every mortification which produces no
good to others. Is it not a source of mortification to a class of
men that they are excluded from political power? If it be, they
have, on Christian principles, a right to be freed from that
mortification, unless it can be shown that their exclusion is
necessary for the averting of some greater evil. The presumption
is evidently in favour of toleration. It is for the prosecutor to
make out his case.

The strange argument which we are considering would prove too
much even for those who advance it. If no man has a right to
political power, then neither Jew nor Gentile has such a right.
The whole foundation of government is taken away. But if
government be taken away, the property and the persons of men are
insecure; and it is acknowledged that men have a right to their
property and to personal security. If it be right that the
property of men should be protected, and if this can only be done
by means of government, then it must be right that government
should exist. Now there cannot be government unless some person
or persons possess political power. Therefore it is right that
some person or persons should possess political power. That is to
say, some person or persons must have a right to political power.

It is because men are not in the habit of considering what the
end of government is, that Catholic disabilities and Jewish
disabilities have been suffered to exist so long. We hear of
essentially Protestant governments and essentially Christian
governments, words which mean just as much as essentially
Protestant cookery, or essentially Christian horsemanship.
Government exists for the purpose of keeping the peace, for the
purpose of compelling us to settle our disputes by arbitration
instead of settling them by blows, for the purpose of compelling
us to supply our wants by industry instead of supplying them by
rapine. This is the only operation for which the machinery of
government is peculiarly adapted, the only operation which wise
governments ever propose to themselves as their chief object. If
there is any class of people who are not interested, or who do
not think themselves interested, in the security of property and
the maintenance of order, that class ought to have no share of
the powers which exist for the purpose of securing property and
maintaining order. But why a man should be less fit to exercise
those powers because he wears a beard, because he does not eat
ham, because he goes to the synagogue on Saturdays instead of
going to the church on Sundays, we cannot conceive.

The points of difference between Christianity and Judaism have
very much to do with a man's fitness to be a bishop or a rabbi.
But they have no more to do with his fitness to be a magistrate,
a legislator, or a minister of finance, than with his fitness to
be a cobbler. Nobody has ever thought of compelling cobblers to
make any declaration on the true faith of a Christian. Any man
would rather have his shoes mended by a heretical cobbler than by
a person who had subscribed all the thirty-nine articles, but had
never handled an awl. Men act thus, not because they are
indifferent to religion, but because they do not see what
religion has to do with the mending of their shoes. Yet religion
has as much to do with the mending of shoes as with the budget
and the army estimates. We have surely had several signal proofs
within the last twenty years that a very good Christian may be a
very bad Chancellor of the Exchequer.

But it would be monstrous, says the persecutors, that Jews should
legislate for a Christian community. This is a palpable
misrepresentation. What is proposed is, not that the Jews should
legislate for a Christian community, but that a legislature
composed of Christians and Jews should legislate for a community
composed of Christians and Jews. On nine hundred and ninety-nine
questions out of a thousand, on all questions of police, of
finance, of civil and criminal law, of foreign policy, the Jew,
as a Jew, has no interest hostile to that of the Christian, or
even to that of the Churchman. On questions relating to the
ecclesiastical establishment, the Jew and the Churchman may
differ. But they cannot differ more widely than the Catholic and
the Churchman, or the Independent and the Churchman. The
principle that Churchmen ought to monopolise the whole power of
the State would at least have an intelligible meaning. The
principle that Christians ought to monopolise it has no meaning
at all. For no question connected with the ecclesiastical
institutions of the country can possibly come before Parliament,
with respect to which there will not be as wide a difference
between Christians as there can be between any Christian and any

In fact the Jews are not now excluded from political power. They
possess it; and as long as they are allowed to accumulate large
fortunes, they must possess it. The distinction which is
sometimes made between civil privileges and political power is a
distinction without a difference. Privileges are power. Civil and
political are synonymous words, the one derived from the Latin,
the other from the Greek. Nor is this mere verbal quibbling. If
we look for a moment at the facts of the case, we shall see that
the things are inseparable, or rather identical.

That a Jew should be a judge in a Christian country would be most
shocking. But he may be a juryman. He may try issues of fact; and
no harm is done. But if he should be suffered to try issues of
law, there is an end of the constitution. He may sit in a box
plainly dressed, and return verdicts. But that he should sit on
the bench in a black gown and white wig, and grant new trials,
would be an abomination not to be thought of among baptized
people. The distinction is certainly most philosophical.

What power in civilised society is so great as that of the
creditor over the debtor? If we take this away from the Jew, we
take away from him the security of his property. If we leave it
to him, we leave to him a power more despotic by far than that of
the King and all his Cabinet.

It would be impious to let a Jew sit in Parliament. But a Jew may
make money; and money may make members of Parliament. Gatton and
Old Sarum may be the property of a Hebrew. An elector of Penryn
will take ten pounds from Shylock rather than nine pounds
nineteen shillings and eleven-pence three farthings from Antonio.
To this no objection is made. That a Jew should possess the
substance of legislative power, that he should command eight
votes on every division as if he were the great Duke of Newcastle
himself, is exactly as it should be. But that he should pass the
bar and sit down on those mysterious, cushions of green leather,
that he should cry "hear" and "order," and talk about being on
his legs, and being, for one, free to say this and to say that,
would be a profanation sufficient to bring ruin on the country.

That a Jew should be privy-councillor to a Christian king would
be an eternal disgrace to the nation. But the Jew may govern the
money-market, and the money-market may govern the world. The
Minister may be in doubt as to his scheme of finance till he has
been closeted with the Jew. A congress of sovereigns may be
forced to summon the Jew to their assistance. The scrawl of the
Jew on the back of a piece of paper may be worth more than the
royal word of three kings, or the national faith of three new
American republics. But that he should put Right Honourable
before his name would be the most frightful of national

It was in this way that some of our politicians reasoned about
the Irish Catholics. The Catholics ought to have no political
power. The sun of England is set for ever if the Catholics
exercise political power. Give the Catholics everything else; but
keep political power from them. These wise men did not see that,
when everything else had been given, political power had been
given. They continued to repeat their cuckoo song, when it was no
longer a question whether Catholics should have political power
or not, when a Catholic association bearded the Parliament, when
a Catholic agitator exercised infinitely more authority than the
Lord Lieutenant.

If it is our duty as Christians to exclude the Jews from
political power, it must be our duty to treat them as our
ancestors treated them, to murder them, and banish them, and rob
them. For in that way, and in that way alone, can we really
deprive them of political power. If we do not adopt this course,
we may take away the shadow, but we must leave them the
substance. We may do enough to pain and irritate them; but we
shall not do enough to secure ourselves from danger, if danger
really exists. Where wealth is, there power must inevitably be.

The English Jews, we are told, are not Englishmen. They are a
separate people, living locally in this island, but living
morally and politically in communion with their brethren who are
scattered over all the world. An English Jew looks on a Dutch or
a Portuguese Jew as his countryman, and on an English Christian
as a stranger. This want of patriotic feeling, it is said,
renders a Jew unfit to exercise political functions.

The argument has in it something plausible; but a close
examination shows it to be quite unsound. Even if the alleged
facts are admitted, still the Jews are not the only people who
have preferred their sect to their country. The feeling of
patriotism, when society is in a healthful state springs up, by a
natural and inevitable association, in the minds of citizens who
know that they owe all their comforts and pleasures to the bond
which unites them in one community. But, under a partial and
oppressive Government, these associations cannot acquire that
strength which they have in a better state of things. Men are
compelled to seek from their party that protection which they
ought to receive from their country, and they, by a natural
consequence, transfer to their party that affection which they
would otherwise have felt for their country. The Huguenots of
France called in the help of England against their Catholic
kings. The Catholics of France called in the help of Spain
against a Huguenot king. Would it be fair to infer, that at
present the French Protestants would wish to see their religion
made dominant by the help of a Prussian or an English army?
Surely not, and why is it that they are not willing, as they
formerly were willing, to sacrifice the interests of their
country to the interests of their religious persuasion? The
reason is obvious: they were persecuted then, and are not
persecuted now. The English Puritans, under Charles the First,
prevailed on the Scotch to invade England. Do the Protestant
Dissenters of our time wish to see the Church put down by an
invasion of foreign Calvinists? If not, to what cause are we to
attribute the change? Surely to this, that the Protestant
Dissenters are far better treated now than in the seventeenth
century. Some of the most illustrious public men that England
ever produced were inclined to take refuge from the tyranny of
Laud in North America. Was this because Presbyterians and
Independents are incapable of loving their country? But it is
idle to multiply instances. Nothing is so offensive to a man who
knows anything of history or of human nature as to hear those who
exercise the powers of government accuse any sect of foreign
attachments. If there be any proposition universally true in
politics it is this, that foreign attachments are the fruit of
domestic misrule. It has always been the trick of bigots to make
their subjects miserable at home, and then to complain that they
look for relief abroad; to divide society, and to wonder that it
is not united; to govern as if a section of the State were the
whole, and to censure the other sections of the State for their
want of patriotic spirit. If the Jews have not felt towards
England like children, it is because she has treated them like a
step-mother. There is no feeling which more certainly develops
itself in the minds of men living under tolerably good government
than the feeling of patriotism. Since the beginning of the world,
there never was any nation, or any large portion of any nation,
not cruelly oppressed, which was wholly destitute of that
feeling. To make it therefore ground of accusation against a
class of men, that they are not patriotic, is the most vulgar
legerdemain of sophistry. It is the logic which the wolf employs
against the lamb. It is to accuse the mouth of the stream of
poisoning the source.

If the English Jews really felt a deadly hatred to England, if
the weekly prayer of their synagogues were that all the curses
denounced by Ezekiel on Tyre and Egypt might fall on London, if,
in their solemn feasts, they called down blessings on those who
should dash their children to pieces on the stones, still, we
say, their hatred to their countrymen would not be more intense
than that which sects of Christians have often borne to each
other. But in fact the feeling of the Jews is not such. It is
precisely what, in the situation in which they are placed, we
should expect it to be. They are treated far better than the
French Protestants were treated in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, or than our Puritans were treated in the time of Laud.
They, therefore, have no rancour against the Government or
against their countrymen. It will not be denied that they are far
better affected to the State than the followers of Coligni or
Vane. But they are not so well treated as the dissecting sects of
Christians are now treated in England; and on this account, and,
we firmly believe, on this account alone, they have a more
exclusive spirit. Till we have carried the experiment further, we
are not entitled to conclude that they cannot be made Englishmen
altogether. The statesman who treats them as aliens, and then
abuses them for not entertaining all the feelings of natives, is
as unreasonable as the tyrant who punished their fathers for not
making bricks without straw.

Rulers must not be suffered thus to absolve themselves of their
solemn responsibility. It does not lie in their mouths to say
that a sect is not patriotic. It is their business to make it
patriotic. History and reason clearly indicate the means. The
English Jews are, as far as we can see, precisely what our
Government has made them. They are precisely what any sect, what
any class of men, treated as they have been treated, would have
been. If all the red-haired people in Europe had, during
centuries, been outraged and oppressed, banished from this place,
imprisoned in that, deprived of their money, deprived of their
teeth, convicted of the most improbable crimes on the feeblest
evidence, dragged at horses' tails, hanged, tortured, burned
alive, if, when manners became milder, they had still been
subject to debasing restrictions and exposed to vulgar insults,
locked up in particular streets in some countries, pelted and
ducked by the rabble in others, excluded everywhere from
magistracies and honours, what would be the patriotism of
gentlemen with red hair? And if, under such circumstances, a
proposition were made for admitting red-haired men to office, how
striking a speech might an eloquent admirer of our old
institutions deliver against so revolutionary a measure! "These
men," he might say, "scarcely consider themselves as Englishmen.
They think a red-haired Frenchman or a red-haired German more
closely connected with them than a man with brown hair born in
their own parish. If a foreign sovereign patronises red hair,
they love him better than their own native king. They are not
Englishmen: they cannot be Englishmen: nature has forbidden it:
experience proves it to be impossible. Right to political power
they have none; for no man has a right to political power. Let
them enjoy personal security; let their property be under the
protection of the law. But if they ask for leave to exercise
power over a community of which they are only half members, a
community the constitution of which is essentially dark-haired,
let us answer them in the words of our wise ancestors, Nolumus
leges Angliae mutari."

But, it is said, the Scriptures declare that the Jews are to be
restored to their own country; and the whole nation looks forward
to that restoration. They are, therefore, not so deeply
interested as others in the prosperity of England. It is not
their home, but merely the place of their sojourn, the house of
their bondage. This argument, which first appeared in the Times
newspaper, and which has attracted a degree of attention
proportioned not so much to its own intrinsic force as to the
general talent with which that journal is conducted, belongs to a
class of sophisms by which the most hateful persecutions may
easily be justified. To charge men with practical consequences
which they themselves deny is disingenuous in controversy; it is
atrocious in government. The doctrine of predestination, in the
opinion of many people, tends to make those who hold it utterly
immoral. And certainly it would seem that a man who believes his
eternal destiny to be already irrevocably fixed is likely to
indulge his passions without restraint and to neglect his
religious duties. If he is an heir of wrath, his exertions must
be unavailing. If he is preordained to life, they must be
superfluous. But would it be wise to punish every man who holds
the higher doctrines of Calvinism, as if he had actually
committed all those crimes which we know some Antinomians to have
committed? Assuredly not. The fact notoriously is that there are
many Calvinists as moral in their conduct as any Arminian, and
many Arminians as loose as any Calvinist.

It is altogether impossible to reason from the opinions which a
man professes to his feelings and his actions; and in fact no
person is ever such a fool as to reason thus, except when he
wants a pretext for persecuting his neighbours. A Christian is
commanded, under the strongest sanctions, to be just in all his
dealings. Yet to how many of the twenty-four millions of
professing Christians in these islands would any man in his
senses lend a thousand pounds without security? A man who should
act, for one day, on the supposition that all the people about
him were influenced by the religion which they professed, would
find himself ruined before night; and no man ever does act on
that supposition in any of the ordinary concerns of life, in
borrowing, in lending, in buying, or in selling. But when any of
our fellow-creatures are to be oppressed, the case is different.
Then we represent those motives which we know to be so feeble for
good as omnipotent for evil. Then we lay to the charge of our
victims all the vices and follies to which their doctrines,
however remotely, seem to tend. We forget that the same weakness,
the same laxity, the same disposition to prefer the present to
the future, which make men worse than a good religion, make them
better than a bad one.

It was in this way that our ancestors reasoned, and that some
people in our time still reason, about the Catholics. A Papist
believes himself bound to obey the Pope. The Pope has issued a
bull deposing Queen Elizabeth. Therefore every Papist will treat
her grace as an usurper. Therefore every Papist is a traitor.
Therefore every Papist ought to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.
To this logic we owe some of the most hateful laws that ever
disgraced our history. Surely the answer lies on the surface. The
Church of Rome may have commanded these men to treat the queen as
an usurper. But she has commanded them to do many other things
which they have never done. She enjoins her priests to observe
strict purity. You are always taunting them with their
licentiousness. She commands all her followers to fast often, to
be charitable to the poor, to take no interest for money, to
fight no duels, to see no plays. Do they obey these injunctions?
If it be the fact that very few of them strictly observe her
precepts, when her precepts are opposed to their passions and
interests, may not loyalty, may not humanity, may not the love of
ease, may not the fear of death, be sufficient to prevent them
from executing those wicked orders which the Church of Rome has
issued against the sovereign of England? When we know that many
of these people do not care enough for their religion to go
without beef on a Friday for it, why should we think that they
will run the risk of being racked and hanged for it?

People are now reasoning about the Jews as our fathers reasoned
about the Papists. The law which is inscribed on the walls of the
synagogues prohibits covetousness. But if we were to say that a
Jew mortgagee would not foreclose because God had commanded him
not to covet his neighbour's house, everybody would think us out
of our wits. Yet it passes for an argument to say that a Jew will
take no interest in the prosperity of the country in which he
lives, that he will not care how bad its laws and police may be,
how heavily it may be taxed, how often it may be conquered and
given up to spoil, because God has promised that, by some unknown
means, and at some undetermined time, perhaps ten thousand years
hence, the Jews shall migrate to Palestine. Is not this the most
profound ignorance of human nature? Do we not know that what is
remote and indefinite affects men far less than what is near and
certain? The argument too applies to Christians as strongly as to
Jews. The Christian believes as well as the Jew, that at some
future period the present order of things will come to an end.
Nay, many Christians believe that the Messiah will shortly
establish a kingdom on the earth, and reign visibly over all its
inhabitants. Whether this doctrine be orthodox or not we shall
not here inquire. The number of people who hold it is very much
greater than the number of Jews residing in England. Many of
those who hold it are distinguished by rank, wealth, and ability.
It is preached from pulpits, both of the Scottish and of the
English Church. Noblemen and members of Parliament have written
in defence of it. Now wherein does this doctrine differ, as far
as its political tendency is concerned, from the doctrine of the
Jews? If a Jew is unfit to legislate for us because he believes
that he or his remote descendants will be removed to Palestine,
can we safely open the House of Commons to a fifth-monarchy man,
who expects that before this generation shall pass away, all the
kingdoms of the earth will be swallowed up in one divine empire?

Does a Jew engage less eagerly than a Christian in any
competition which the law leaves open to him? Is he less active
and regular in his business than his neighbours? Does he furnish
his house meanly, because he is a pilgrim and sojourner in the
land? Does the expectation of being restored to the country of
his fathers make him insensible to the fluctuations of the stock-
exchange? Does he, in arranging his private affairs, ever take
into the account the chance of his migrating to Palestine? If
not, why are we to suppose that feelings which never influence
his dealings as a merchant, or his dispositions as a testator,
will acquire a boundless influence over him as soon as he becomes
a magistrate or a legislator? There is another argument which we
would not willingly treat with levity, and which yet we scarcely
know how to treat seriously. Scripture, it is said, is full of
terrible denunciations against the Jews. It is foretold that they
are to be wanderers. Is it then right to give them a home? It is
foretold they are to be oppressed. Can we with propriety suffer
them to be rulers? To admit them to the rights of citizens is
manifestly to insult the Divine oracles.

We allow that to falsify a prophecy inspired by Divine Wisdom
would be a most atrocious crime. It is, therefore, a happy
circumstance for our frail species, that it is a crime which no
man can possibly commit. If we admit the Jews to seats in
Parliament, we shall, by so doing, prove that the prophecies in
question, whatever they may mean, do not mean that the Jews shall
be excluded from Parliament.

In fact it is already clear that the prophecies do not bear the
meaning put upon them by the respectable persons whom we are now
answering. In France and in the United States the Jews are
already admitted to all the rights of citizens. A prophecy,
therefore, which should mean that the Jews would never, during
the course of their wanderings, be admitted to all the rights of
citizens in the places of their sojourn, would be a false
prophecy. This, therefore, is not the meaning of the prophecies
of Scripture.

But we protest altogether against the practice of confounding
prophecy with precept, of setting up predictions which are often
obscure against a morality which is always clear. If actions are
to be considered as just and good merely because they have been
predicted, what action was ever more laudable than that crime
which our bigots are now, at the end of eighteen centuries,
urging us to avenge on the Jews, that crime which made the earth
shake and blotted out the sun from heaven? The same reasoning
which is now employed to vindicate the disabilities imposed on
our Hebrew countrymen will equally vindicate the kiss of Judas
and the judgment of Pilate. "The Son of man goeth, as it is
written of him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is
betrayed." And woe to those who, in any age, or in any country,
disobey His benevolent commands under pretence of accomplishing
His predictions. If this argument justifies the laws now existing
against the Jews, it justifies equally all the cruelties which
have ever been committed against them, the sweeping edicts of
banishment and confiscation, the dungeon, the rack, and the slow
fire. How can we excuse ourselves for leaving property to people
who are to "serve their enemies in hunger, and in thirst, and in
nakedness, and in want of all things"; for giving protection to
the persons of those who are to "fear day and night, and to have
none assurance of their life"; for not seizing on the children of
a race whose "sons and daughters are to be given unto another

We have not so learned the doctrines of Him who commanded us to
love our neighbour as ourselves, and who, when He was called upon
to explain what He meant by a neighbour, selected as an example a
heretic and an alien. Last year, we remember, it was represented
by a pious writer in the John Bull newspaper, and by some other
equally fervid Christians, as a monstrous indecency, that the
measure for the relief of the Jews should be brought forward in
Passion week. One of these humorists ironically recommended that
it should be read a second time on Good Friday. We should have
had no objection; nor do we believe that the day could be
commemorated in a more worthy manner. We know of no day fitter
for terminating long hostilities, and repairing cruel wrongs,
than the day on which the religion of mercy was founded. We know
of no day fitter for blotting out from the statute-book the last
traces of intolerance than the day on which the spirit of
intolerance produced the foulest of all judicial murders, the day
on which the list of the victims of intolerance, that noble list
wherein Socrates and More are enrolled, was glorified by a yet
greater and holier name.

(April 1839)

The state in its Relations with the church. By W. E. GLADSTONE,
Esq. Student of Christ Church, and M.P. for Newark. 8vo. Second
Edition. London: 1839.

THE author of this volume is a young man of unblemished
character, and of distinguished parliamentary talents, the rising
hope of those stern and unbending Tories who follow, reluctantly
and mutinously, a leader whose experience and eloquence are
indispensable to them, but whose cautious temper and moderate
opinions they abhor. It would not be at all strange if Mr.
Gladstone were one of the most unpopular men in England. But we
believe that we do him no more than justice when we say that his
abilities and his demeanour have obtained for him the respect and
goodwill of all parties. His first appearance in the character of
an author is therefore an interesting event; and it is natural
that the gentle wishes of the public should go with him to his

We are much pleased, without any reference to the soundness or
unsoundness of Mr. Gladstone's theories, to see a grave and
elaborate treatise on an important part of the Philosophy of
Government proceed from the pen of a young man who is rising to
eminence in the House of Commons. There is little danger that
people engaged in the conflicts of active life will be too much
addicted to general speculation. The opposite vice is that which
most easily besets them. The times and tides of business and
debate tarry for no man. A politician must often talk and act
before he has thought and read. He may be very ill informed
respecting a question; all his notions about it may be vague and
inaccurate; but speak he must; and if he is a man of ability, of
tact, and of intrepidity, he soon finds that, even under such
circumstances, it is possible to speak successfully. He finds
that there is a great difference between the effect of written
words, which are perused and reperused in the stillness of the
closet, and the effect of spoken words which, set off by the
graces of utterance and gesture, vibrate for a single moment on
the ear. He finds that he may blunder without much chance of
being detected, that he may reason sophistically, and escape
unrefuted. He finds that, even on knotty questions of trade and
legislation, he can, without reading ten pages, or thinking ten
minutes, draw forth loud plaudits, and sit down with the credit
of having made an excellent speech. Lysias, says Plutarch, wrote
a defence for a man who was to be tried before one of the
Athenian tribunals. Long before the defendant had learned the
speech by heart, he became so much dissatisfied with it that he
went in great distress to the author. "I was delighted with your
speech the first time I read it; but 1 liked it less the second
time, and still less the third time; and now it seems to me to be
no defence at all." "My good friend," says Lysias, "you quite
forget that the judges are to hear it only once." The case is the
same in the English Parliament. It would be as idle in an orator
to waste deep meditation and long research on his speeches, as it
would be in the manager of a theatre to adorn all the crowd of
courtiers and ladies who cross over the stage in a procession
with real pearls and diamonds. It is not by accuracy or
profundity that men become the masters of great assemblies. And
why be at the charge of providing logic of the best quality, when
a very inferior article will be equally acceptable? Why go as
deep into a question as Burke, only in order to be, like Burke,
coughed down, or left speaking to green benches and red boxes?
This has long appeared to us to be the most serious of the evils
which are to be set off against the many blessings of popular
government. It is a fine and true saying of Bacon, that reading
makes a full man, talking a ready man, and writing an exact man.
The tendency of institutions like those of England is to
encourage readiness in public men, at the expense both of fulness
and of exactness. The keenest and most vigorous minds of every
generation, minds often admirably fitted for the investigation of
truth, are habitually employed in producing arguments such as no
man of sense would ever put into a treatise intended for
publication, arguments which are just good enough to be used
once, when aided by fluent delivery and pointed language. The
habit of discussing questions in this way necessarily reacts on
the intellects of our ablest men, particularly of those who are
introduced into Parliament at a very early age, before their
minds have expanded to full maturity. The talent for debate is
developed in such men to a degree which, to the multitude, seems
as marvellous as the performance of an Italian Improvisatore. But
they are fortunate indeed if they retain unimpaired the faculties
which are required for close reasoning or for enlarged
speculation. Indeed we should sooner expect a great original work
on political science, such a work, for example, as the Wealth of
Nations, from an apothecary in a country town, or from a minister
in the Hebrides, than from a statesman who, ever since he was
one-and-twenty, had been a distinguished debater in the House of

We therefore hail with pleasure, though assuredly not with
unmixed pleasure, the appearance of this work. That a young
politician should, in the intervals afforded by his parliamentary
avocations, have constructed and propounded, with much study and
mental toil, an original theory on a great problem in politics,
is a circumstance which, abstracted from all consideration of the
soundness or unsoundness of his opinions, must be considered as
highly creditable to him. We certainly cannot wish that Mr.
Gladstone's doctrines may become fashionable among public men.
But we heartily wish that his laudable desire to penetrate
beneath the surface of questions, and to arrive, by long and
intent meditation, at the knowledge of great general laws, were
much more fashionable than we at all expect it to become.

Mr. Gladstone seems to us to be, in many respects, exceedingly
well qualified for philosophical investigation. His mind is of
large grasp; nor is he deficient in dialectical skill. But he
does not give his intellect fair play. There is no want of light,
but a great want of what Bacon would have called dry light.
Whatever Mr. Gladstone sees is refracted and distorted by a false
medium of passions and prejudices. His style bears a remarkable
analogy to his mode of thinking, and indeed exercises great
influence on his mode of thinking. His rhetoric, though often
good of its kind, darkens and perplexes the logic which it should
illustrate. Half his acuteness and diligence, with a barren
imagination and a scanty vocabulary, would have saved him from
almost all his mistakes. He has one gift most dangerous to a
speculator, a vast command of a kind of language, grave and
majestic, but of vague and uncertain import; of a kind of
language which affects us much in the same way in which the lofty
diction of the Chorus of Clouds affected the simple-hearted

O ge ton phthegmatos os ieron, kai semnon, kai teratodes.

When propositions have been established, and nothing remains but
to amplify and decorate them, this dim magnificence may be in
place. But if it is admitted into a demonstration, it is very
much worse than absolute nonsense; just as that transparent haze,
through which the sailor sees capes and mountains of false sizes
and in false bearings, is more dangerous than utter darkness.
Now, Mr. Gladstone is fond of employing the phraseology of which
we speak in those parts of his works which require the utmost
perspicuity and precision of which human language is capable; and
in this way he deludes first himself, and then his readers. The
foundations of his theory, which ought to be buttresses of
adamant, are made out of the flimsy materials which are fit only
for perorations. This fault is one which no subsequent care or
industry can correct. The more strictly Mr. Gladstone reasons on
his premises, the more absurd are the conclusions which he brings
out; and, when at last his good sense and good nature recoil from
the horrible practical inferences to which this theory leads, he
is reduced sometimes to take refuge in arguments inconsistent
with his fundamental doctrines, and sometimes to escape from the
legitimate consequences of his false principles, under cover of
equally false history.

It would be unjust not to say that this book, though not a good
book, shows more talent than many good books. It abounds with
eloquent and ingenious passages. It bears the signs of much
patient thought. It is written throughout with excellent taste
and excellent temper; nor does it, so far as we have observed,
contain one expression unworthy of a gentleman, a scholar, or a
Christian. But the doctrines which are put forth in it appear to
us, after full and calm consideration, to be false, to be in the
highest degree pernicious, and to be such as, if followed out in
practice to their legitimate consequences, would inevitably
produce the dissolution of society; and for this opinion we shall
proceed to give our reasons with that freedom which the
importance of the subject requires, and which Mr. Gladstone, both
by precept and by example, invites us to use, but, we hope,
without rudeness, and, we are sure, without malevolence.

Before we enter on an examination of this theory, we wish to
guard ourselves against one misconception. It is possible that
some persons who have read Mr. Gladstone's book carelessly, and
others who have merely heard in conversation, or seen in a
newspaper, that the member for Newark has written in defence of
the Church of England against the supporters of the voluntary
system, may imagine that we are writing in defence of the
voluntary system, and that we desire the abolition of the
Established Church. This is not the case. It would be as unjust
to accuse us of attacking the Church, because we attack Mr.
Gladstone's doctrines, as it would be to accuse Locke of wishing
for anarchy, because he refuted Filmer's patriarchal theory of
government, or to accuse Blackstone of recommending the
confiscation of ecclesiastical property, because he denied that
the right of the rector to tithe was derived from the Levitical
law. It is to be observed, that Mr. Gladstone rests his case on
entirely new grounds, and does not differ more widely from us
than from some of those who have hitherto been considered as the
most illustrious champions of the Church. He is not content with
the Ecclesiastical Polity, and rejoices that the latter part of
that celebrated work "does not carry with it the weight of
Hooker's plenary authority." He is not content with Bishop
Warburton's Alliance of Church and State. "The propositions of
that work generally," he says, "are to be received with
qualification"; and he agrees with Bolingbroke in thinking that
Warburton's whole theory rests on a fiction. He is still less
satisfied with Paley's defence of the Church, which he pronounces
to be "tainted by the original vice of false ethical principles,
and full of the seeds of evil." He conceives that Dr. Chalmers
has taken a partial view of the subject, and "put forth much
questionable matter." In truth, on almost every point on which we
are opposed to Mr. Gladstone, we have on our side the authority
of some divine, eminent as a defender of existing establishments.

Mr. Gladstone's whole theory rests on this great fundamental
proposition, that the propagation of religious truth is one of
the principal ends of government, as government. If Mr. Gladstone
has not proved this proposition, his system vanishes at once.

We are desirous, before we enter on the discussion of this
important question, to point out clearly a distinction which,
though very obvious, seems to be overlooked by many excellent
people. In their opinion, to say that the ends of government are
temporal and not spiritual is tantamount to saying that the
temporal welfare of man is of more importance than his spiritual
welfare. But this is an entire mistake. The question is not
whether spiritual interests be or be not superior in importance
to temporal interests; but whether the machinery which happens at
any moment to be employed for the purpose of protecting certain
temporal interests of a society be necessarily such a machinery
as is fitted to promote the spiritual interests of that society.
Without a division of labour the world could not go on. It is of
very much more importance that men should have food than that
they should have pianofortes. Yet it by no means follows that
every pianoforte maker ought to add the business of a baker to
his own; for, if he did so, we should have both much worse music
and much worse bread. It is of much more importance that the
knowledge of religious truth should be wisely diffused than that
the art of sculpture should flourish among us. Yet it by no means
follows that the Royal Academy ought to unite with its present
functions those of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge,
to distribute theological tracts, to send forth missionaries, to
turn out Nollekens for being a Catholic, Bacon for being a
Methodist, and Flaxman for being a Swedenborgian. For the effect
of such folly would be that we should have the worst possible
Academy of Arts, and the worst possible Society for the Promotion
of Christian Knowledge. The community, it is plain, would be
thrown into universal confusion, if it were supposed to be the
duty of every association which is formed for one good object to
promote every other good object.

As to some of the ends of civil government, all people are
agreed. That it is designed to protect our persons and our
property; that it is designed to compel us to satisfy our wants,
not by rapine, but by industry; that it is designed to compel us
to decide our differences, not by the strong hand, but by
arbitration; that it is designed to direct our whole force, as
that of one man, against any other society which may offer us
injury; these are propositions which will hardly be disputed.

Now these are matters in which man, without any reference to any
higher being, or to any future state, is very deeply interested.
Every human being, be he idolater, Mahometan, Jew, Papist,
Socinian, Deist, or Atheist, naturally loves life, shrinks from
pain, desires comforts which can be enjoyed only in communities
where property is secure. To be murdered, to be tortured, to be
robbed, to be sold into slavery, these are evidently evils from
which men of every religion, and men of no religion, wish to be
protected; and therefore it will hardly be disputed that men of
every religion, and of no religion, have thus far a common
interest in being well governed.

But the hopes and fears of man are not limited to this short life
and to this visible world. He finds himself surrounded by the
signs of a power and wisdom higher than his own; and, in all ages
and nations, men of all orders of intellect, from Bacon and
Newton, down to the rudest tribes of cannibals, have believed in
the existence of some superior mind. Thus far the voice of
mankind is almost unanimous. But whether there be one God, or
many, what may be God's natural and what His moral attributes, in
what relation His creatures stand to Him, whether He have ever
disclosed Himself to us by any other revelation than that which
is written in all the parts of the glorious and well-ordered
world which He has made, whether His revelation be contained in
any permanent record, how that record should be interpreted, and
whether it have pleased Him to appoint any unerring interpreter
on earth, these are questions respecting which there exists the
widest diversity of opinion, and respecting some of which a large
part of our race has, ever since the dawn of regular history,
been deplorably in error.

Now here are two great objects: one is the protection of the
persons and estates of citizens from injury; the other is the
propagation of religious truth. No two objects more entirely
distinct can well be imagined.

The former belongs wholly to the visible and tangible world in
which we live; the latter belongs to that higher world which is
beyond the reach of our senses. The former belongs to this life;
the latter to that which is to come. Men who are perfectly agreed
as to the importance of the former object, and as to the way of
obtaining it, differ as widely as possible respecting the latter
object. We must, therefore, pause before we admit that the
persons, be they who they may, who are intrusted with power for
the promotion of the former object, ought always to use that
power for the promotion of the latter object.

Mr. Gladstone conceives that the duties of governments are
paternal; a doctrine which we shall not believe till he can show
us some government which loves its subjects as a father loves a
child, and which is as superior in intelligence to its subjects
as a father is to a child. He tells us in lofty though somewhat
indistinct language, that "Government occupies in moral the
place of to pan in physical science." If government be indeed to
pan in moral science, we do not understand why rulers should not
assume all the functions which Plato assigned to them. Why should
they not take away the child from the mother, select the nurse,
regulate the school, overlook the playground, fix the hours of
labour and of recreation, prescribe what ballads shall be sung,
what tunes shall be played, what books shall be read, what physic
shall be swallowed? Why should not they choose our wives, limit
our expenses, and stint us to a certain number of dishes of meat,
of glasses of wine, and of cups of tea? Plato, whose hardihood in
speculation was perhaps more wonderful than any other peculiarity
of his extraordinary mind, and who shrank from nothing to which
his principles led, went this whole length. Mr. Gladstone is not
so intrepid. He contents himself with laying down this
proposition, that whatever be the body which in any community is
employed to protect the persons and property of men, that body
ought also, in its corporate capacity, to profess a religion, to
employ its power for the propagation of that religion, and to
require conformity to that religion, as an indispensable
qualification for all civil office. He distinctly declares that
he does not in this proposition confine his view to orthodox
governments or even to Christian governments. The circumstance
that a religion is false does not, he tells us, diminish the
obligation of governors, as such, to uphold it. If they neglect
to do so, "we cannot," he says, "but regard the fact as
aggravating the case of the holders of such creed." "I do not
scruple to affirm," he adds, "that if a Mahometan conscientiously
believes his religion to come from God, and to teach divine
truth, he must believe that truth to be beneficial, and
beneficial beyond all other things to the soul of man; and he
must therefore, and ought to desire its extension, and to use for
its extension all proper and legitimate means; and that, if such
Mahometan be a prince, he ought to count among those means the
application of whatever influence or funds he may lawfully have
at his disposal for such purposes."

Surely this is a hard saying. Before we admit that the Emperor
Julian, in employing the influence and the funds at his disposal
for the extinction of Christianity, was doing no more than his
duty, before we admit that the Arian Theodoric would have
committed a crime if he had suffered a single believer in the
divinity of Christ to hold any civil employment in Italy, before
we admit that the Dutch Government is bound to exclude from
office all members of the Church of England, the King of Bavaria
to exclude from office all Protestants, the Great Turk to exclude
from office all Christians, the King of Ava to exclude from
office all who hold the unity of God, we think ourselves entitled
to demand very full and accurate demonstration. When the
consequences of a doctrine are so startling, we may well require
that its foundations shall be very solid.

The following paragraph is a specimen of the arguments by which
Mr. Gladstone has, as he conceives, established his great
fundamental proposition:

We may state the same proposition in a more general form, in
which it surely must command universal assent. Wherever there is
power in the universe, that power is the property of God, the
King of that universe--his property of right, however for a time
withholden or abused. Now this property is, as it were, realised,
is used according to the will of the owner, when it is used for
the purposes he has ordained, and in the temper of mercy,
justice, truth, and faith which he has taught us. But those
principles never can be truly, never can be permanently
entertained in the human breast, except by a continual reference
to their source, and the supply of the Divine grace. The powers,
therefore, that dwell in individuals acting as a government as
well as those that dwell in individuals acting for themselves,
can only he secured for right uses by applying to them a

Here are propositions of vast and indefinite extent, conveyed in
language which has a certain obscure dignity and sagacity,
attractive, we doubt not, to many minds. But the moment that we
examine these propositions closely, the moment that we bring them
to the test by running over but a very few of the particulars
which are included in them, we find them to be false and
extravagant. The doctrine which "must surely command universal
assent" is this, that every association of human beings which
exercises any power whatever, that is to say, every association
of human beings, is bound, as such association, to profess a
religion. Imagine the effect which would follow if this principle
were really in force during four-and-twenty hours. Take one
instance out of a million. A stage-coach company has power over
its horses. This power is the property of God. It is used
according to the will of God when it is used with mercy. But the
principle of mercy can never be truly or permanently entertained
in the human breast without continual reference to God. The
powers, therefore, that dwell in individuals, acting as a stage-
coach company, can only be secured for right uses by applying to
them a religion. Every stage coach company ought, therefore, in
its collective capacity, to profess some one faith, to have its
articles, and its public worship, and its tests. That this
conclusion, and an infinite number of other conclusions equally
strange, follow of necessity from Mr. Gladstone's principle, is
as certain as it is that two and two make four. And, if the
legitimate conclusions be so absurd, there must be something
unsound in the principle.

We will quote another passage of the same sort:

"Why, then, we now come to ask, should the governing body in a
state profess a religion? First, because it is composed of
individual men; and they, being appointed to act in a definite
moral capacity, must sanctify their acts done in that capacity by
the offices of religion; inasmuch as the acts cannot otherwise be
acceptable to God, or anything but sinful and punishable in
themselves. And whenever we turn our face away from God in our
conduct, we are living atheistically. . . . In fulfilment, then,
of his obligations as an individual, the statesman must be a
worshipping man. But his acts are public--the powers and
instruments with which he works are public--acting under and by
the authority of the law, he moves at his word ten thousand
subject arms; and because such energies are thus essentially
public, and wholly out of the range of mere individual agency,
they must be sanctified not only by the private personal prayers
and piety of those who fill public situations, but also by public
acts of the men composing the public body. They must offer prayer
and praise in their public and collective character--in that
character wherein they constitute the organ of the nation, and
wield its collective force. Wherever there is a reasoning agency
there is a moral duty and responsibility involved in it. The
governors are reasoning agents for the nation, in their conjoint
acts as such. And therefore there must be attached to this
agency, as that without which none of our responsibilities can be
met, a religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience
of the governor, or none."

Here again we find propositions of vast sweep, and of sound so
orthodox and solemn that many good people, we doubt not, have
been greatly edified by it. But let us examine the words closely;
and it will immediately become plain that, if these principles be
once admitted, there is an end of all society. No combination can
be formed for any purpose of mutual help, for trade, for public
works, for the relief of the sick or the poor, for the promotion
of art or science, unless the members of the combination agree in
their theological opinions. Take any such combination at random,
the London and Birmingham Railway Company for example, and
observe to what consequences Mr. Gladstone's arguments inevitably
lead. Why should the Directors of the Railway Company, in their
collective capacity, profess a religion? First, because the
direction is composed of individual men appointed to act in a
definite moral capacity, bound to look carefully to the property,
the limbs, and the lives of their fellow-creatures, bound to act
diligently for their constituents, bound to govern their servants
with humanity and justice, bound to fulfil with fidelity many
important contracts. They must, therefore, sanctify their acts by
the offices of religion, or these acts will be sinful and
punishable in themselves. In fulfilment, then, of his obligations
as an individual, the Director of the London and Birmingham
Railway Company must be a worshipping man, But his acts are
public. He acts for a body. He moves at his word ten thousand
subject arms. And because these energies are out of the range of
his mere individual agency, they must be sanctified by public
acts of devotion. The Railway Directors must offer prayer and
praise in their public and collective character, in that
character wherewith they constitute the organ of the Company, and
wield its collective power. Wherever there is reasoning agency,
there is moral responsibility. The Directors are reasoning agents
for the Company, and therefore there must be attached to this
as that without which none of our responsibilities can be met, a
religion. And this religion must be that of the conscience of the
Director himself, or none. There must be public worship and a
test. No Jew, no Socinian, no Presbyterian, no Catholic, no
Quaker, must, be permitted to be the organ of the Company, and to
wield its collected force." Would Mr. Gladstone really defend
this proposition? We are sure that he would not; but we are sure
that to this proposition, and to innumerable similar
propositions, his reasoning inevitably leads.


"National will and agency are indisputably one, binding either a
dissentient minority or the subject body, in a manner that
nothing but the recognition of the doctrine of national
personality can justify. National honour and good faith are words
in every one's mouth. How do they less imply a personality in
nations than the duty towards God, for which we now contend? They
are strictly and essentially distinct from the honour and good
faith of the individuals composing the nation. France is a person
to us, and we to her. A wilful injury done to her is a moral act,
and a moral act quite distinct from the acts of all the
individuals composing the nation. Upon broad facts like these we
may rest, without resorting to the more technical proof which the
laws afford in their manner of dealing with corporations. If,
then, a nation have unity of will, have pervading sympathies,
have capability of reward and suffering contingent upon its acts,
shall we deny its responsibility; its need of a religion to meet
that responsibility? . . A nation, then, having a personality,
lies under the obligation, like the individuals composing its
governing body, of sanctifying the acts of that personality by
the offices of religion, and thus we have a new and imperative
ground for the existence of a state religion."

A new ground we have here, certainly, but whether very imperative
may be doubted. Is it not perfectly clear, that this argument
applies with exactly as much force to every combination of human
beings for a common purpose, as to governments? Is there any such
combination in the world, whether technically a corporation or
not, which has not this collective personality, from which Mr.
Gladstone deduces such extraordinary consequences? Look at banks,
insurance offices, dock companies, canal companies, gas
companies, hospitals, dispensaries, associations for the relief
of the poor, associations for apprehending malefactors,
associations of medical pupils for procuring subjects,
associations of country gentlemen for keeping fox-hounds, book
societies, benefit societies, clubs of all ranks, from those
which have lined Pall-Mall and St. James's Street with their
palaces, down to the Free-and-easy which meets in the shabby
parlour of a village inn. Is there a single one of these
combinations to which Mr. Gladstone's argument will not apply as
well as to the State? In all these combinations, in the Bank of
England, for example, or in the Athenaeum club, the will and
agency of the society are one, and bind the dissentient minority.
The Bank and the Athenaeum have a good faith and a justice
different from the good faith and justice of the individual
members. The Bank is a person to those who deposit bullion with
it. The Athenaeum is a person to the butcher and the wine-
merchant. If the Athenaeum keeps money at the Bank, the two
societies are as much persons to each other as England and
France. Either society may pay its debts honestly; either may try
to defraud its creditors; either may increase in prosperity;
either may fall into difficulties. If, then, they have this unity
of will; if they are capable of doing and suffering good and
evil, can we to use Mr. Gladstone's words, "deny their
responsibility, or their need of a religion to meet that
responsibility?"  Joint-stock banks, therefore, and clubs,
a personality, lie under the necessity of sanctifying that
personality by the offices of religion;" and thus we have "a new
and imperative ground" for requiring all the directors and clerks
of joint-stock banks, and all the members of clubs, to qualify by
taking the sacrament.

The truth is, that Mr. Gladstone has fallen into an error very
common among men of less talents than his own. It is not unusual
for a person who is eager to prove a particular proposition to
assume a major of huge extent, which includes that particular
proposition, without ever reflecting that it includes a great
deal more. The fatal facility with which Mr. Gladstone multiplies
expressions stately and sonorous, but of indeterminate meaning,
eminently qualifies him to practise this sleight on himself and
on his readers. He lays down broad general doctrines about power,
when the only power of which he is thinking is the power of
governments, and about conjoint action when the only conjoint
action of which he is thinking is the conjoint action of citizens
in a state. He first resolves on his conclusion. He then makes a
major of most comprehensive dimensions, and having satisfied
himself that it contains his conclusion, never troubles himself
about what else it may contain: and as soon as we examine it we
find that it contains an infinite number of conclusions, every
one of which is a monstrous absurdity.

It is perfectly true that it would be a very good thing if all
the members of all the associations in the world were men of
sound religious views. We have no doubt that a good Christian
will be under the guidance of Christian principles, in his
conduct as director of a canal company or steward of a charity
dinner. If he were, to recur to a case which we have before put,
a member of a stage-coach company, he would, in that capacity,
remember that "a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast."
But it does not follow that every association of men must,
therefore, as such association, profess a religion. It is evident
that many great and useful objects can be attained in this world
only by co-operation. It is equally evident that there cannot be
efficient co-operation, if men proceed on the principle that they
must not co-operate for one object unless they agree about other
objects. Nothing seems to us more beautiful or admirable in our
social system than the facility with which thousands of people,
who perhaps agree only on a single point, can combine their
energies for the purpose of carrying that single point. We see
daily instances of this. Two men, one of them obstinately
prejudiced against missions, the other president of a missionary
society, sit together at the board of a hospital, and heartily
concur in measures for the health and comfort of the patients.
Two men, one of whom is a zealous supporter and the other a
zealous opponent of the system pursued in Lancaster's schools,
meet at the Mendicity Society, and act together with the utmost
cordiality. The general rule we take to be undoubtedly this, that
it is lawful and expedient for men to unite in an association for
the promotion of a good object, though they may differ with
respect to other objects of still higher importance.

It will hardly be denied that the security of the persons and
property of men is a good object, and that the best way, indeed
the only way, of promoting that object, is to combine men
together in certain great corporations which are called States.
These corporations are very variously, and, for the most part
very imperfectly organised. Many of them abound with frightful
abuses. But it seems reasonable to believe that the worst that
ever existed was, on the whole, preferable to complete anarchy.

Now, reasoning from analogy, we should say that these great
corporations would, like all other associations, be likely to
attain their end most perfectly if that end were kept singly in
view: and that to refuse the services of those who are admirably
qualified to promote that end, because they are not also
qualified to promote some other end, however excellent, seems at
first sight as unreasonable as it would be to provide that nobody
who was not a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries should be a
governor of the Eye Infirmary; or that nobody who was not a
member of the Society for Promoting Christianity among the Jews
should be a trustee of the Literary Fund.

It is impossible to name any collection of human beings to which
Mr. Gladstone's reasonings would apply more strongly than to an
army. Where shall we find more complete unity of action than in
an army? Where else do so many human beings implicitly obey one
ruling mind? What other mass is there which moves so much like
one man? Where is such tremendous power intrusted to those who
command? Where is so awful a responsibility laid upon them? If
Mr. Gladstone has made out, as he conceives, an imperative
necessity for a State Religion, much more has he made it out to
be imperatively necessary that every army should, in its
collective capacity, profess a religion. Is he prepared to adopt
this consequence?

On the morning of the thirteenth of August, in the year 1704, two
great captains, equal in authority, united by close private and
public ties, but of different creeds, prepared for a battle, on
the event of which were staked the liberties of Europe.
Marlborough had passed a part of the night in prayer, and before
daybreak received the sacrament according to the rites of the
Church of England. He then hastened to join Eugene, who had
probably just confessed himself to a Popish priest. The generals
consulted together, formed their plan in concert, and repaired
each to his own post. Marlborough gave orders for public prayers.
The English chaplains read the service at the head of the English
regiments. The Calvinistic chaplains of the Dutch army, with
heads on which hand of Bishop had never been laid, poured forth
their supplications in front of their countrymen. In the
meantime, the Danes might listen to their Lutheran ministers and
Capuchins might encourage the Austrian squadrons, and pray to the
Virgin for a blessing on the arms of the Holy Roman Empire. The
battle commences. These men of various religions all act like
members of one body. The Catholic and the Protestant general
exert themselves to assist and to surpass each other. Before
sunset the Empire is saved: France has lost in a day the fruits
of eighty years of intrigue and of victory: and the allies, after
conquering together, return thanks to God separately, each after
his own form of worship. Now, is this practical atheism? Would
any man in his senses say that, because the allied army had unity
of action and a common interest, and because a heavy
responsibility lay on its Chiefs, it was therefore imperatively
necessary that the Army should, as an Army, have one established
religion, that Eugene should be deprived of his command for being
a Catholic, that all the Dutch and Austrian colonels should be
broken for not subscribing the Thirty-nine Articles? Certainly
not. The most ignorant grenadier on the field of battle would
have seen the absurdity of such a proposition. "I know," he would
have said, "that the Prince of Savoy goes to mass, and that our
Corporal John cannot abide it; but what has the mass to do with
the taking of the village of Blenheim? The Prince wants to beat
the French, and so does Corporal John. If we stand by each other
we shall most likely beat them. If we send all the Papists and
Dutch away, Tallard will have every man of us." Mr. Gladstone
himself, we imagine, would admit that our honest grenadier would
have the best of the argument; and if so, what follows? Even
this; that all Mr. Gladstone's general principles about power,
and responsibility, and personality, and conjoint action, must be
given up, and that, if his theory is to stand at all, it must
stand on some other foundation.

We have now, we conceive, shown that it may be proper to form men
into combinations for important purposes, which combinations
shall have unity and common interests, and shall be under the
direction of rulers intrusted with great power and lying under
solemn responsibility, and yet that it may be highly improper
that these combinations should, as such, profess any one system
of religious belief, or perform any joint act of religious
worship. How, then, is it proved that this may not be the case
with some of those great combinations which we call States? We
firmly believe that it is the case with some States. We firmly
believe that there are communities in which it would be as absurd
to mix up theology with government, as it would have been in the
right wing of the allied army at Blenheim to commence a
controversy with the left wing, in the middle of the battle,
about purgatory and the worship of images.

It is the duty, Mr. Gladstone tells us, of the persons, be they
who they may, who hold supreme power in the State, to employ that
power in order to promote whatever they may deem to be
theological truth. Now, surely, before he can call on us to admit
this proposition, he is bound to prove that those persons are
likely to do more good than harm by so employing their power. The
first question is, whether a government, proposing to itself the
propagation of religious truth as one of its principal ends, is
more likely to lead the people right than to lead them wrong? Mr.
Gladstone evades this question; and perhaps it was his wisest
course to do so.

"If," says he, "the government be good, let it have its natural
duties and powers at its command; but, if not good, let it be
made so. . . . We follow, therefore, the true course in looking
first for the true idea, or abstract conception of a government,
of course with allowance for the evil and frailty that are in
man, and then in examining whether there be comprised in that
idea a capacity and consequent duty on the part of a government
to lay down any laws or devote any means for the purposes of
religion,--in short, to exercise a choice upon religion."

Of course, Mr. Gladstone has a perfect right to argue any
abstract question, provided that he will constantly bear in mind
that it is only an abstract question that he is arguing. Whether
a perfect government would or would not be a good machinery for
the propagation of religious truth is certainly a harmless, and
may, for aught we know, be an edifying subject of inquiry. But it
is very important that we should remember that there is not, and
never has been, any such government in the world. There is no
harm at all in inquiring what course a stone thrown into the air
would take, if the law of gravitation did not operate. But the
consequences would be unpleasant, if the inquirer, as soon as he
had finished his calculation, were to begin to throw stones about
in all directions, without considering that his conclusion rests
on a false hypothesis, and that his projectiles, instead of
flying away through infinite space, will speedily return in
parabolas, and break the windows and heads of his neighbours.

It is very easy to say that governments are good, or if not good,
ought to be made so. But what is meant by good government? And
how are all the bad governments in the world to be made good? And
of what value is a theory which is true only on a supposition in
the highest degree extravagant?

We do not, however, admit that, if a government were, for all its
temporal ends, as perfect as human frailty allows, such a
government would, therefore, be necessarily qualified to
propagate true religion. For we see that the fitness of
governments to propagate true religion is by no means
proportioned to their fitness for the temporal end of their
institution. Looking at individuals, we see that the princes
under whose rule nations have been most ably protected from
foreign and domestic disturbance, and have made the most rapid
advances in civilisation, have been by no means good teachers of
divinity. Take for example, the best French sovereign, Henry the
Fourth, a king who restored order, terminated a terrible civil
war, brought the finances into an excellent condition, made his
country respected throughout Europe, and endeared himself to the
great body of the people whom he ruled. Yet this man was twice a
Huguenot and twice a Papist. He was, as Davila hints, strongly
suspected of having no religion at all in theory, and was
certainly not much under religious restraints in his practice.
Take the Czar Peter, the Empress Catharine, Frederick the Great.
It will surely not be disputed that these sovereigns, with all
their faults, were, if we consider them with reference merely to
the temporal ends of government, above the average of merit.
Considered as theological guides, Mr. Gladstone would probably
put them below the most abject drivellers of the Spanish branch
of the House of Bourbon. Again, when we pass from individuals to
systems, we by no means find that the aptitude of governments for
propagating religious truth is proportioned to their aptitude for
secular functions. Without being blind admirers either of the
French or of the American institutions, we think it clear that
the persons and property of citizens are better protected in
France and in New England than in almost any society that now
exists, or that has ever existed; very much better, certainly,
than in the Roman Empire under the orthodox rule of Constantine
and Theodosius. But neither the Government of France, nor that of
New England, is so organised as to be fit for the propagation of
theological doctrines. Nor do we think it improbable that the
most serious religious errors might prevail in a state which,
considered merely with reference to temporal objects, might
approach far nearer than any that has ever been known to the idea
of what a state should be.

But we shall leave this abstract question, and look at the world
as we find it. Does, then, the way in which governments generally
obtain their power make it at all probable that they will be more
favourable to orthodoxy than to heterodoxy? A nation of
barbarians pours down on a rich and unwarlike empire, enslaves
the people, portions out the land, and blends the institutions
which it finds in the cities with those which it has brought from
the woods. A handful of daring adventurers from a civilised
nation wander to some savage country, and reduce the aboriginal
race to bondage. A successful general turns his arms against the
State which he serves. A society made brutal by oppression, rises
madly on its masters, sweeps away all old laws and usages, and
when its first paroxysm of rage is over, sinks down passively
under any form of polity which may spring out of the chaos. A
chief of a party, as at Florence, becomes imperceptibly a
sovereign, and the founder of a dynasty. A captain of
mercenaries, as at Milan, seizes on a city, and by the sword
makes himself its ruler. An elective senate, as at Venice, usurps
permanent and hereditary power. It is in events such as these
that governments have generally originated; and we can see
nothing in such events to warrant us in believing that the
governments thus called into existence will be peculiarly well
fitted to distinguish between religious truth and heresy.

When, again, we look at the constitutions of governments which
have become settled, we find no great security for the orthodoxy
of rulers. One magistrate holds power because his name was drawn
out of a purse; another, because his father held it before him.
There are representative systems of all sorts, large constituent
bodies, small constituent bodies, universal suffrage, high
pecuniary qualifications. We see that, for the temporal ends of
government, some of these constitutions are very skilfully
constructed, and that the very worst of them is preferable to
anarchy. We see some sort of connection between the very worst of
them and the temporal well-being of society. But it passes our
understanding to comprehend what connection any one of them has
with theological truth.

And how stands the fact? Have not almost all the governments in
the world always been in the wrong on religious subjects? Mr.
Gladstone, we imagine, would say that, except in the time of
Constantine, of Jovian, and of a very few of their successors,
and occasionally in England since the Reformation, no government
has ever been sincerely friendly to the pure and apostolical
Church of Christ. If, therefore, it be true that every ruler is
bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of his
own religion, it will follow that, for one ruler who has been
bound in conscience to use his power for the propagation of
truth, a thousand have been bound in conscience to use their
power for the propagation of falsehood. Surely this is a
conclusion from which common sense recoils. Surely, if experience
shows that a certain machine, when used to produce a certain
effect, does not produce that effect once in a thousand times,
but produces, in the vast majority of cases, an effect directly
contrary, we cannot be wrong in saying that it is not a machine
of which the principal end is to be so used.

If, indeed, the magistrate would content himself with laying his
opinions and reasons before the people, and would leave the
people, uncorrupted by hope or fear, to judge for themselves, we
should see little reason to apprehend that his interference in
favour of error would be seriously prejudicial to the interests
of truth. Nor do we, as will hereafter be seen, object to his
taking this course, when it is compatible with the efficient
discharge of his more especial duties. But this will not satisfy
Mr. Gladstone. He would have the magistrate resort to means which
have a great tendency to make malcontents, to make hypocrites, to
make careless nominal conformists, but no tendency whatever to
produce honest and rational conviction. It seems to us quite
clear that an inquirer who has no wish except to know the truth
is more likely to arrive at the truth than an inquirer who knows
that, if he decides one way, he shall be rewarded, and that, if
he decides the other way, he shall be punished. Now, Mr.
Gladstone would have governments propagate their opinions by
excluding all Dissenters from all civil offices. That is to say,
he would have governments propagate their opinions by a process
which has no reference whatever to the truth or falsehood of
those opinions, by arbitrarily uniting certain worldly advantages
with one set of doctrines, and certain worldly inconveniences
with another set. It is of the very nature of argument to serve
the interests of truth; but if rewards and punishments serve the
interests of truth, it is by mere accident. It is very much
easier to find arguments for the divine authority of the Gospel
than for the divine authority of the Koran. But it is just as
easy to bribe or rack a Jew into Mahometanism as into

From racks, indeed, and from all penalties directed against the
persons, the property, and the liberty of heretics, the humane
spirit of Mr. Gladstone shrinks with horror. He only maintains
that conformity to the religion of the State ought to be an
indispensable qualification for office; and he would, unless we
have greatly misunderstood him, think it his duty, if he had the
power, to revive the Test Act, to enforce it rigorously, and to
extend it to important classes who were formerly exempt from its

This is indeed a legitimate consequence of his principles. But
why stop here? Why not roast Dissenters at slow fires? All the
general reasonings on which this theory rests evidently lead to
sanguinary persecution. If the propagation of religious truth be
a principal end of government, as government; if it be the duty
of a government to employ for that end its constitutional Power;
if the constitutional power of governments extends, as
it most unquestionably does, to the making of laws for the
burning of heretics; if burning be, as it most assuredly is, in
many cases, a most effectual mode of suppressing opinions; why
should we not burn? If the relation in which government ought to
stand to the people be, as Mr. Gladstone tells us, a paternal
relation, we are irresistibly led to the conclusion that
persecution is justifiable. For the right of propagating opinions
by punishment is one which belongs to parents as clearly as the
right to give instruction. A boy is compelled to attend family
worship: he is forbidden to read irreligious books: if he will
not learn his catechism, he is sent to bed without his supper: if
he plays truant at church-time a task is set him. If he should
display the precocity of his talents by expressing impious
opinions before his brothers and sisters, we should not much
blame his father for cutting short the controversy with a horse-
whip. All the reasons which lead us to think that parents are
peculiarly fitted to conduct the education of their children, and
that education is the principal end of a parental relation, lead
us also to think that parents ought to be allowed to use
punishment, if necessary, for the purpose of forcing children,
who are incapable of judging for themselves, to receive religious
instruction and to attend religious worship. Why, then, is this
prerogative of punishment, so eminently paternal, to be withheld
from a paternal government? It seems to us, also, to be the
height of absurdity to employ civil disabilities for the
propagation of an opinion, and then to shrink from employing
other punishments for the same purpose. For nothing can be
clearer than that, if you punish at all, you ought to punish
enough. The pain caused by punishment is pure unmixed evil, and
never ought to be inflicted, except for the sake of some good. It
is mere foolish cruelty to provide penalties which torment the
criminal without preventing the crime. Now it is possible, by
sanguinary persecution unrelentingly inflicted, to suppress
opinions. In this way the Albigenses were put down. In this way
the Lollards were put down. In this way the fair promise of the
Reformation was blighted in Italy and Spain. But we may safely
defy Mr. Gladstone to point out a single instance in which the
system which he recommends has succeeded.

And why should he be so tender-hearted? What reason can he give
for hanging a murderer, and suffering a heresiarch to escape
without even a pecuniary mulct? Is the heresiarch a less
pernicious member of society than the murderer? Is not the loss
of one soul a greater evil than the extinction of many lives? And
the number of murders committed by the most profligate bravo that
ever let out his poniard to hire in Italy, or by the most savage
buccaneer that ever prowled on the Windward Station, is small
indeed, when compared with the number of souls which have been
caught in the snares of one dexterous heresiarch. If, then, the
heresiarch causes infinitely greater evils than the murderer, why
is he not as proper an object of penal legislation as the
murderer? We can give a reason, a reason, short, simple,
decisive, and consistent. We do not extenuate the evil which the
heresiarch produces; but we say that it is not evil of that sort
the sort against which it is the end of government to guard. But
how Mr. Gladstone, who considers the evil which the heresiarch
produces as evil of the sort against which it is the end of
government to guard, can escape from the obvious consequence of
his doctrine, we do not understand. The world is full of parallel
cases. An orange-woman stops up the pavement with her
wheelbarrow; and a policeman takes her into custody. A miser who
has amassed a million suffers an old friend and benefactor to die
in a workhouse, and cannot be questioned before any tribunal for
his baseness and ingratitude. Is this because legislators think
the orange-woman's conduct worse than the miser's? Not at all. It
is because the stopping up of the pathway is one of the evils
against which it is the business of the public authorities to
protect society, and heartlessness is not one of those evils. It
would be the height of folly to say that the miser ought, indeed,
to be punished, but that he ought to be punished less severely
than the orange-woman.

The heretical Constantius persecutes Athanasius; and why not?
Shall Caesar punish the robber who has taken one purse, and spare
the wretch who has taught millions to rob the Creator of His
honour, and to bestow it on the creature? The orthodox Theodosius
persecutes the Arians, and with equal reason. Shall an insult
offered to the Caesarean majesty be expiated by death; and shall
there be no penalty for him who degrades to the rank of a
creature the almighty, the infinite Creator? We have a short
answer for both: "To Caesar the things which are Caesar's. Caesar
is appointed for the punishment of robbers and rebels. He is not
appointed for the purpose of either propagating or exterminating
the doctrine of the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son."
"Not so," says Mr. Gladstone, "Caesar is bound in conscience to
propagate whatever he thinks to be the truth as to this question.
Constantius is bound to establish the Arian worship throughout
the empire, and to displace the bravest captains of his legions,
and the ablest ministers of his treasury, if they hold the Nicene
faith. Theodosius is equally bound to turn out every public
servant whom his Arian predecessors have put in. But if
Constantius lays on Athanasius a fine of a single aureus, if
Theodosius imprisons an Arian presbyter for a week, this is most
unjustifiable oppression." Our readers will be curious to know
how this distinction is made out.

The reasons which Mr. Gladstone gives against persecution
affecting life, limb, and property, may be divided into two
classes; first, reasons which can be called reasons only by
extreme courtesy, and which nothing but the most deplorable
necessity would ever have induced a man of his abilities to use;
and, secondly, reasons which are really reasons, and which have
so much force that they not only completely prove his exception,
but completely upset his general rule. His artillery on this
occasion is composed of two sorts of pieces, pieces which will
not go off at all, and pieces which go off with a vengeance, and
recoil with most crushing effect upon himself.

"We, as fallible creatures," says Mr. Gladstone, "have no right,
from any bare speculations of our own to administer pains and
penalties to our fellow-creatures, whether on social or religious
grounds. We have the right to enforce the laws of the land by
such pains and penalties, because it is expressly given by Him
who has declared that the civil rulers are to bear the sword for
the punishment of evil-doers, and for the encouragement of them
that do well. And so, in things spiritual, had it pleased God to
give to the Church or the State this power, to be permanently
exercised over their members, or mankind at large, we should have
the right to use it; but it does not appear to have been so
received, and consequently, it should not be exercised."

We should be sorry to think that the security of our lives and
property from persecution rested on no better ground than this.
Is not a teacher of heresy an evil-doer? Has not heresy been
condemned in many countries, and in our own among them, by the
laws of the land, which, as Mr. Gladstone says, it is justifiable
to enforce by penal sanctions? If a heretic is not specially
mentioned in the text to which Mr. Gladstone refers, neither is
an assassin, a kidnapper, or a highwayman: and if the silence of
the New Testament as to all interference of governments to stop
the progress of heresy be a reason for not fining or imprisoning
heretics, it is surely just as good a reason for not excluding
them from office.

"God," says Mr. Gladstone, "has seen fit to authorize the
employment of force in the one case and not in the other; for it
was with regard to chastisement inflicted by the sword for an
insult offered to himself that the Redeemer declared his kingdom
not to be of this world:-- meaning, apparently in an especial
manner, that it should be otherwise than after this world's
fashion, in respect to the sanctions by which its laws should be

Now here Mr. Gladstone, quoting from memory, has fallen into an
error. The very remarkable words which he cites do not appear to
have had any reference to the wound inflicted by Peter on
Malchus. They were addressed to Pilate, in answer to the
question, "Art thou the King of the Jews?" We can not help saying
that we are surprised that Mr. Gladstone should not have more
accurately verified a quotation on which, according to him,
principally depends the right of a hundred millions of his
fellow-subjects, idolaters, Mussulmans, Catholics, and
dissenters, to their property, their liberty, and their lives.

Mr. Gladstone's humane interpretations of Scripture are
lamentably destitute of one recommendation, which he considers as
of the highest value: they are by no means in accordance with the
general precepts or practice of the Church, from the time when
the Christians became strong enough to persecute down to a very
recent period. A dogma favourable to toleration is certainly not
a dogma quod semper, quod ubique, quod omnibus. Bossuet was able
to say, we fear with too much truth, that on one point all
Christians had long been unanimous, the right of the civil
magistrate to propagate truth by the sword; that even heretics
had been orthodox as to this right, and that the Anabaptists and
Socinians were the first who called it in question. We will not
pretend to say what is the best explanation of the text under
consideration; but we are sure that Mr. Gladstone's is the worst.
According to him, Government ought to exclude Dissenters from
office, but not to fine them, because Christ's kingdom is not of
this world. We do not see why the line may not be drawn at a
hundred other places as well as that which he has chosen. We do
not see why Lord Clarendon, in recommending the act of 1664
against conventicles, might not have said, "It hath been thought
by some that this classis of men might with advantage be not only
imprisoned but pilloried. But methinks, my Lords, we are
inhibited from the punishment of the pillory by that Scripture,
'My kingdom is not of this world."' Archbishop Laud, when he sate
on Burton in the Star-Chamber, might have said, "I pronounce for
the pillory; and, indeed, I could wish that all such wretches
were delivered to the fire, but that our Lord hath said that His
kingdom is not of this world." And Gardiner might have written to
the Sheriff of Oxfordshire "See that execution be done without
fall on Master Ridley and Master Latimer, as you will answer the
same to the Queen's grace at your peril. But if they shall desire
to have some gunpowder for the shortening of their torment, I see
not but you may grant it, as it is written, Regnum meum non est
de hoc mundo; that is to say, My kingdom is not of this world."

But Mr. Gladstone has other arguments against persecution,
arguments which are of so much weight, that they are decisive not
only against persecution but against his whole theory. "The
Government," he says, "is incompetent to exercise minute and
constant supervision over religious opinion." And hence he
infers, that "a Government exceeds its province when it comes
to adapt a scale of punishments to variations in religious
opinion, according to their respective degrees of variation from
the established creed. To decline affording countenance to sects
is a single and simple rule. To punish their professors,
according to their several errors, even were there no other
objection, is one for which the State must assume functions
wholly ecclesiastical, and for which it is not intrinsically

This is, in our opinion, quite true. But how does it agree with
Mr. Gladstone's theory? What! the Government incompetent to
exercise even such a degree of supervision over religious opinion
as is implied by the punishment of the most deadly heresy! The
Government incompetent to measure even the grossest deviations
from the standard of truth! The Government not intrinsically
qualified to judge of the comparative enormity of any theological
errors! The Government so ignorant on these subjects that it is
compelled to leave, not merely subtle heresies, discernible only
by the eye of a Cyril or a Bucer, but Socinianism, Deism,
Mahometanism, Idolatry, Atheism, unpunished! To whom does Mr.
Gladstone assign the office of selecting a religion for the
State, from among hundreds of religions, every one of which lays
claim to truth? Even to this same Government, which is now
pronounced to be so unfit for theological investigations that it
cannot venture to punish a man for worshipping a lump of stone
with a score of heads and hands. We do not remember ever to have
fallen in with a more extraordinary instance of inconsistency.
When Mr. Gladstone wishes to prove that the Government ought to
establish and endow a religion, and to fence it with a Test Act,
Government is _to pan_ in the moral world. Those who would
it to secular ends take a low view of its nature. A religion must
be attached to its agency; and this religion must be that of the
conscience of the governor, or none. It is for the Governor to
decide between Papists and Protestants, Jansenists and Molinists,
Arminians and Calvinists, Episcopalians and Presbyterians,
Sabellians and Tritheists, Homoousians and Homoiousians,
Nestorians and Eutychians, Monothelites and Monophysites,
Paedobaptists and Anabaptists. It is for him to rejudge the Acts
of Nice and Rimini, of Ephesus and Chalcedon, of Constantinople
and St. John Lateran, of Trent and Dort. It is for him to
arbitrate between the Greek and the Latin procession, and to
determine whether that mysterious filioque shall or shall not
have a place in the national creed. When he has made up his mind,
he is to tax the whole community in order to pay people to teach
his opinion, what ever it may be. He is to rely on his own
judgment, though it may be opposed to that of nine-tenths of the
society. He is to act on his own judgment, at the risk of
exciting the most formidable discontents. He is to inflict,
perhaps on a great majority of the population, what, whether we
choose to call it persecution or not, will always be felt as
persecution by those who suffer it. He is, on account of
differences often too slight for vulgar comprehension, to deprive
the State of the services of the ablest men. He is to debase and
enfeeble the community which he governs, from a nation into a
sect. In our own country, for example, millions of Catholics,
millions of Protestant Dissenters, are to be excluded from all
power and honours. A great hostile fleet is on the sea; but
Nelson is not to command in the Channel if in the mystery of the
Trinity he confounds the persons. An invading army has landed in
Kent; but the Duke of Wellington is not to be at the head of our
forces if he divides the substance. And after all this, Mr.
Gladstone tells us, that it would be wrong to imprison a Jew, a
Mussulman, or a Buddhist, for a day; because really a Government
cannot understand these matters, and ought not to meddle with
questions which belong to the Church. A singular theologian,
indeed, this Government! So learned, that it is competent to
exclude Grotius from office for being a Semi-Pelagian, so
unlearned that it is incompetent to fine a Hindoo peasant a rupee
for going on a pilgrimage to Juggernaut.

"To solicit and persuade one another," says Mr. Gladstone, "are
privileges which belong to us all; and the wiser and better man
is bound to advise the less wise and good; but he is not only not
bound, he is not allowed, speaking generally, to coerce him. It
is untrue, then, that the same considerations which bind a
Government to submit a religion to the free choice of the people
would therefore justify their enforcing its adoption."

Granted. But it is true that all the same considerations which
would justify a Government in propagating a religion by means of
civil disabilities would justify the propagating of that religion
by penal laws. To solicit! Is it solicitation to tell a Catholic
Duke, that he must abjure his religion or walk out of the House
of Lords? To persuade! Is it persuasion to tell a barrister of
distinguished eloquence and learning that he shall grow old in
his stuff gown, while his pupils are seated above him in ermine,
because he cannot digest the damnatory clauses of the Athanasian
Creed? Would Mr. Gladstone think that a religious system which he
considers as false, Socinianism for example, was submitted to his
free choice, if it were submitted in these terms?--"If you
obstinately adhere to the faith of the Nicene fathers, you shall
not be burned in Smithfield; you shall not be sent to Dorchester
gaol; you shall not even pay double land-tax. But you shall be
shut out from all situations in which you might exercise your
talents with honour to yourself and advantage to the country. The
House of Commons, the bench of magistracy, are not for such as
you. You shall see younger men, your inferiors in station and
talents, rise to the highest dignities and attract the gaze of
nations, while you are doomed to neglect and obscurity. If you
have a son of the highest promise, a son such as other fathers
would contemplate with delight, the development of his fine
talents and of his generous ambition shall be a torture to you.
You shall look on him as a being doomed to lead, as you have led,
the abject life of a Roman or a Neapolitan in the midst of a
great English people. All those high honours, so much more
precious than the most costly gifts of despots, with which a free
country decorates its illustrious citizens, shall be to him, as
they have been to you, objects not of hope and virtuous
emulation, but of hopeless, envious pining. Educate him, if you
wish him to feel his degradation. Educate him, if you wish to
stimulate his craving for what he never must enjoy. Educate him,
if you would imitate the barbarity of that Celtic tyrant who fed
his prisoners on salted food till they called eagerly for drink,
and then let down an empty cup into the dungeon and left them to
die of thirst." Is this to solicit, to persuade, to submit
religion to the free choice of man? Would a fine of a thousand
pounds, would imprisonment in Newgate for six months, under
circumstances not disgraceful, give Mr Gladstone the pain which
he would feel, if he were to be told that he was to be dealt with
in the way in which he would himself deal with more than one half
of his countrymen?

We are not at all surprised to find such inconsistency even in a
man of Mr. Gladstone's talents. The truth is, that every man is,
to a great extent, the creature of the age. It is to no purpose
that he resists the influence which the vast mass, in which he is
but an atom, must exercise on him. He may try to be a man of the
tenth century: but he cannot. Whether he will or not, he must be
a man of the nineteenth century. He shares in the motion of the
moral as well as in that of the physical world. He can no more be
as intolerant as he would have been in the days of the Tudors
than he can stand in the evening exactly where he stood in the
morning. The globe goes round from west to east; and he must go
round with it. When he says that he is where he was, he means
only that he has moved at the same rate with all around him. When
he says that he has gone a good way to the westward, he means
only that he has not gone to the eastward quite so rapidly as his
neighbours. Mr. Gladstone's book is, in this respect, a very
gratifying performance. It is the measure of what a man can do to
be left behind by the world. It is the strenuous effort of a very
vigorous mind to keep as far in the rear of the general progress
as possible. And yet, with the most intense exertion Mr.
Gladstone cannot help being, on some important points, greatly in
advance of Locke himself; and, with whatever admiration he may
regard Laud, it is well for him, we can tell him, that he did not
write in the days of that zealous primate, who would certainly
have refuted the expositions of Scripture which we have quoted,
by one of the keenest arguments that can be addressed to human

This is not the only instance in which Mr. Gladstone has shrunk
in a very remarkable manner from the consequences of his own
theory. If there be in the whole world a state to which this
theory is applicable, that state is the British Empire in India.
Even we, who detest paternal governments in general, shall admit
that the duties of the Government of India are, to a considerable
extent, paternal. There, the superiority of the governors to the
governed in moral science is unquestionable. The conversion of
the whole people to the worst form that Christianity ever wore in
the darkest ages would be a most happy event. It is not necessary
that a man should be a Christian to wish for the propagation of
Christianity in India. It is sufficient that he should be an
European not much below the ordinary European level of good sense
and humanity. Compared with the importance of the interests at
stake, all those Scotch and Irish questions which occupy so large
a portion of Mr. Gladstone's book, sink into insignificance. In
no part of the world since the days of Theodosius has so large a
heathen population been subject to a Christian government. In no
part of the world is heathenism more cruel, more licentious, more
fruitful of absurd rites and pernicious laws. Surely, if it be
the duty of Government to use its power and its revenue in order
to bring seven millions of Irish Catholics over to the Protestant
Church, it is a fortiori the duty of the Government to use its
power and its revenue in order to make seventy millions of
idolaters Christians. If it be a sin to suffer John Howard or
William Penn to hold any office in England because they are not
in communion with the Established Church, it must be a crying sin
indeed to admit to high situations men who bow down, in temples
covered with emblems of vice, to the hideous images of sensual or
malevolent gods.

But no. Orthodoxy, it seems, is more shocked by the priests of
Rome than by the priests of Kalee. The plain red brick building,
the Cave of Adullam, or Ebenezer Chapel, where uneducated men
hear a half-educated man talk of the Christian law of love and
the Christian hope of glory, is unworthy of the indulgence which
is reserved for the shrine where the Thug suspends a portion of
the spoils of murdered travellers, and for the car which grinds
its way through the bones of self-immolated pilgrims. "It would
be," says Mr. Gladstone, "an absurd exaggeration to maintain it
as the part of such a Government as that of the British in India
to bring home to the door of every subject at once the
ministrations of a new and totally unknown religion." The
Government ought indeed to desire to propagate Christianity. But
the extent to which they must do so must be "limited by the
degree in which the people are found willing to receive it." He
proposes no such limitation in the case of Ireland. He would give
the Irish a Protestant Church whether they like it or not. "We
believe," says he, "that that which we place before them is,
whether they know it or not, calculated to be beneficial to them;
and that, if they know it not now, they will know it when it is
presented to them fairly. Shall we, then, purchase their applause
at the expense of their substantial, nay, their spiritual

And why does Mr. Gladstone allow to the Hindoo a privilege which
he denies to the Irishman? Why does he reserve his greatest
liberality for the most monstrous errors? Why does he pay most
respect to the opinion of the least enlightened people? Why does
he withhold the right to exercise paternal authority from that
one Government which is fitter to exercise paternal authority
than any Government that ever existed in the world? We will give
the reason in his own words.

"In British India," he says, "a small number of persons advanced
to a higher grade of civilisation, exercise the powers of
government over an immensely greater number of less cultivated
persons, not by coercion, but under free stipulation with the
governed. Now, the rights of a Government, in circumstances thus
peculiar, obviously depend neither upon the unrestricted theory
of paternal principles, nor upon any primordial or fictitious
contract of indefinite powers, but upon an express and known
treaty, matter of positive agreement, not of natural ordinance."

Where Mr. Gladstone has seen this treaty we cannot guess for,
though he calls it a "known treaty," we will stake our credit
that it is quite unknown both at Calcutta and Madras, both in
Leadenhall Street and Cannon Row, that it is not to be found in
any of the enormous folios of papers relating to India which fill
the bookcases of members of Parliament, that it has utterly
escaped the researches of all the historians of our Eastern
empire, that, in the long and interesting debates of 1813 on the
admission of missionaries to India, debates of which the most
valuable part has been excellently preserved by the care of the
speakers, no allusion to this important instrument is to be
found. The truth is that this treaty is a nonentity. It is by
coercion, it is by the sword, and not by free stipulation with
the governed, that England rule India; nor is England bound by
any contract whatever not to deal with Bengal as she deals with
Ireland. She may set up a Bishop of Patna, and a Dean of Hoogley;
she may grant away the public revenue for the maintenance of
prebendaries of Benares and canons of Moorshedabad; she may
divide the country into parishes, and place, a rector with a
stipend in every one of them; and all this without infringing any
positive agreement. If there be such a treaty, Mr. Gladstone can
have no difficulty in making known its date, its terms, and,
above all the precise extent of the territory within which we
have sinfully bound ourselves to be guilty of practical atheism.
The last point is of great importance. For, as the provinces of
our Indian empire were acquired at different times, and in very
different ways, no single treaty, indeed no ten treaties, will
justify the system pursued by our Government there.

The plain state of the case is this. No man in his senses would
dream of applying Mr. Gladstone's theory to India; because, if so
applied, it would inevitably destroy our empire, and, with our
empire, the best chance of spreading Christianity among the
natives. This Mr. Gladstone felt. In some way or other his theory
was to be saved, and the monstrous consequences avoided. Of
intentional misrepresentation we are quite sure that he is
incapable. But we cannot acquit him of that unconscious
disingenuousness from which the most upright man, when strongly
attached to an opinion, is seldom wholly free. We believe that he
recoiled from the ruinous consequences which his system would
produce, if tried in India; but that he did not like to say so,
lest he should lay himself open to the charge of sacrificing
principle to expediency, a word which is held in the utmost
abhorrence by all his school. Accordingly, he caught at the
notion of a treaty, a notion which must, we think, have
originated in some rhetorical expression which he has imperfectly
understood. There is one excellent way of avoiding the drawing of
a false conclusion from a false major; and that is by having a
false minor. Inaccurate history is an admirable corrective of
unreasonable theory. And thus it is in the present case. A bad
general rule is laid down, and obstinately maintained, wherever
the consequences are not too monstrous for human bigotry. But
when they become so horrible that even Christ Church shrinks,
that even Oriel stands aghast, the rule is evaded by means of a
fictitious contract. One imaginary obligation is set up against
another. Mr. Gladstone first preaches to Governments the duty of
undertaking an enterprise just as rational as the Crusades, and
then dispenses them from it on the ground of a treaty which is
just as authentic as the donation of Constantine to Pope
Sylvester. His system resembles nothing so much as a forged bond
with a forged release indorsed on the back of it.

With more show of reason he rests the claims of the Scotch Church
on a contract. He considers that contract, however, as most
unjustifiable, and speaks of the setting up of the Kirk as a
disgraceful blot on the reign of William the Third. Surely it
would be amusing, if it were not melancholy, to see a man of
virtue and abilities unsatisfied with the calamities which one
Church, constituted on false principles, has brought upon the
empire, and repining that Scotland is not in the same state with
Ireland, that no Scottish agitator is raising rent and putting
county members in and out, that no Presbyterian association is
dividing supreme power with the Government, that no meetings of
procursors and repealers are covering the side of the Calton
Hill, that twenty-five thousand troops are not required to
maintain order on the north of the Tweed, that the anniversary of
the Battle of Bothwell Bridge is not regularly celebrated by
insult, riot, and murder. We could hardly find a stronger
argument against Mr. Gladstone's system than that which Scotland
furnishes. The policy which has been followed in that country has
been directly opposed to the policy which he recommends. And the
consequence is that Scotland, having been one of the rudest, one
of the poorest, one of the most turbulent countries in Europe,
has become one of the most highly civilised, one of the most
flourishing, one of the most tranquil. The atrocities which were
of common occurrence: while an unpopular Church was dominant are
unknown, In spite of a mutual aversion as bitter as ever
separated one people from another, the two kingdoms which compose
our island have been indissolubly joined together. Of the ancient
national feeling there remains just enough to be ornamental and
useful; just enough to inspire the poet, and to kindle a generous
and friendly emulation in the bosom of the soldier. But for all
the ends of government the nations are one. And why are they so?
The answer is simple. The nations are one for all the ends of
government, because in their union the true ends of government
alone were kept in sight. The nations are one because the
Churches are two.

Such is the union of England with Scotland, an union which
resembles the union of the limbs of one healthful and vigorous
body, all moved by one will, all co-operating for common ends.
The system of Mr. Gladstone would have produced an union which
can be compared only to that which is the subject of a wild
Persian fable. King Zohak--we tell the story as Mr. Southey tells
it to us--gave the devil leave to kiss his shoulders. Instantly
two serpents sprang out, who, in the fury of hunger, attacked his
head, and attempted to get at his brain. Zohak pulled them away,
and tore them with his nails. But he found that they were
inseparable parts of himself, and that what he was lacerating was
his own flesh. Perhaps we might be able to find, if we looked
round the world, some political union like this, some hideous
monster of a state, cursed with one principle of sensation and
two principles of volition, self-loathing and self-torturing,
made up of parts which are driven by a frantic impulse to inflict
mutual pain, yet are doomed to feel whatever they inflict, which
are divided by an irreconcileable hatred, Yet are blended in an
indissoluble identity. Mr. Gladstone, from his tender concern for
Zohak, is unsatisfied because the devil has as yet kissed only
one shoulder, because there is not a snake mangling and mangled
on the left to keep in countenance his brother on the right.

But we must proceed in our examination of his theory. Having, as
he conceives, proved that is the duty of every Government to
profess some religion or other, right or wrong, and to establish
that religion, he then comes to the question what religion a
Government ought to prefer; and he decides this question in
favour of the form of Christianity established in England. The
Church of England is, according to him, the pure Catholic Church
of Christ, which possesses the apostolical succession of
ministers, and within whose pale is to be found that unity which
is essential to truth. For her decisions he claims a degree of
reverence far beyond what she has ever, in any of her
formularies, claimed for herself; far beyond what the moderate
school of Bossuet demands for the Pope; and scarcely short of
what that school would ascribe to Pope and General Council
together. To separate from her communion is schism. To reject her
traditions or interpretations of Scripture is sinful presumption.

Mr. Gladstone pronounces the right of private judgment, as it is
generally understood throughout Protestant Europe, to be a
monstrous abuse. He declares himself favourable, indeed, to the
exercise of private judgment, after a fashion of his own. We
have, according to him, a right to judge all the doctrines of the
Church of England to be sound, but not to judge any of them to be
unsound. He has no objection, he assures us, to active inquiry
into religious questions. On the contrary, he thinks such inquiry
highly desirable, as long as it does not lead to diversity of
opinion; which is much the same thing as if he were to recommend
the use of fire that will not burn down houses, or of brandy that
will not make men drunk. He conceives it to be perfectly possible
for mankind to exercise their intellects vigorously and freely on
theological subjects, and yet to come to exactly the same
conclusions with each other and with the Church of England. And
for this opinion he gives, as far as we have been able to
discover, no reason whatever, except that everybody who
vigorously and freely exercises his understanding on Euclid's
Theorems assents to them. "The activity of private judgment," he
truly observes, "and the unity and strength of conviction in
mathematics vary directly as each other." On this unquestionable
fact he constructs a somewhat questionable argument. Everybody
who freely inquires agrees, he says, with Euclid. But the Church
is as much in the right as Euclid. Why, then, should not every
free inquirer agree with the Church? We could put many similar
questions. Either the affirmative or the negative of the
proposition that King Charles wrote the Icon Basilike is as true
as that two sides of a triangle are greater than the third side.
Why, then, do Dr. Wordsworth and Mr. Hallam agree in thinking two
sides of a triangle greater than the third side, and yet differ
about the genuineness of the Icon Basilike? The state of the
exact sciences proves, says Mr. Gladstone, that, as respects
religion, "the association of these two ideas, activity of
inquiry, and variety of conclusion, is a fallacious one." We
might just as well turn the argument the other way, and infer
from the variety of religious opinions that there must
necessarily be hostile mathematical sects, some affirming, and
some denying, that the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the
squares of the sides. But we do not think either the one analogy
or the other of the smallest value. Our way of ascertaining the
tendency of free inquiry is simply to open our eyes and look at
the world in which we live; and there we see that free inquiry on
mathematical subjects produces unity, and that free inquiry on
moral subjects produces discrepancy. There would undoubtedly be
less discrepancy if inquiries were more diligent and candid. But
discrepancy there will be among the most diligent and candid, as
long as the constitution of the human mind, and the nature of
moral evidence, continue unchanged. That we have not freedom and
unity together is a very sad thing; and so it is that we have not
wings. But we are just as likely to see the one defect removed as
the other. It is not only in religion that this discrepancy is
found. It is the same with all matters which depend on moral
evidence, with judicial questions, for example, and with
political questions. All the judges will work a sum in the rule
of three on the same principle, and bring out the same
conclusion. But it does not follow that, however honest and
laborious they may be, they will all be of one mind on the
Douglas case. So it is vain to hope that there may be a free
constitution under which every representative will be unanimously
elected, and every law unanimously passed; and it would be
ridiculous for a statesman to stand wondering and bemoaning
himself because people who agree in thinking that two and two
make four cannot agree about the new poor law, or the
administration of Canada.

There are two intelligible and consistent courses which may be
followed with respect to the exercise of private judgment; the
course of the Romanist, who interdicts private judgment because
of its inevitable inconveniences; and the course of the
Protestant, who permits private judgment in spite of its
inevitable inconveniences. Both are more reasonable than Mr.
Gladstone, who would have private judgment without its inevitable
inconveniences. The Romanist produces repose by means of
stupefaction. The Protestant encourages activity, though he knows
that where there is much activity there will be some aberration.
Mr. Gladstone wishes for the unity of the fifteenth century with
the active and searching spirit of the sixteenth. He might as
well wish to be in two places at once.

When Mr. Gladstone says that we "actually require discrepancy of
opinion--require and demand error, falsehood, blindness, and
ourselves on such discrepancy as attesting a freedom which is
only valuable when used for unity in the truth," he expresses
himself with more energy than precision. Nobody loves discrepancy
for the sake of discrepancy. But a person who conscientiously
believes that free inquiry is, on the whole, beneficial to the
interests of truth, and that, from the imperfection of the human
faculties, wherever there is much free inquiry there will be some
discrepancy, may, without impropriety, consider such discrepancy,
though in itself an evil, as a sign of good. That there are ten
thousand thieves in London is a very melancholy fact. But, looked
at in one point of view, it is a reason for exultation. For what
other city could maintain ten thousand thieves? What must be the
mass of wealth, where the fragments gleaned by lawless pilfering
rise to so large an amount? St. Kilda would not support a single
pickpocket. The quantity of theft is, to a certain extent, an
index of the quantity of useful industry and judicious
speculation. And just as we may, from the great number of rogues
in a town, infer that much honest gain is made there; so may we
often, from the quantity of error in a community, draw a cheering
inference as to the degree in which the public mind is turned to
those inquiries which alone can lead to rational convictions of

Mr. Gladstone seems to imagine that most Protestants think it
possible for the same doctrine to be at once true and false; or
that they think it immaterial whether, on a religious question, a
man comes to a true or a false conclusion. If there be any
Protestants who hold notions so absurd, we abandon them to his

The Protestant doctrine touching the right of private judgment,
that doctrine which is the common foundation of the Anglican, the
Lutheran, and the Calvinistic Churches, that doctrine by which
every sect of Dissenters vindicates its separation, we conceive
not to be this, that opposite opinions rue; nor this, that truth
and falsehood are both may both be true; equally good; nor yet
this, that all speculative error is necessarily innocent; but
this, that there is on the face of the earth no visible body to
whose decrees men are bound to submit their private judgment on
points of faith.

Is there always such a visible body? Was there such a visible
body in the year 1500? If not, why are we to believe that there
is such a body in the year 1839? If there was such a body in the
year 1500, what was it? Was it the Church of Rome? And how can
the Church of England be orthodox now, if the Church of Rome was
orthodox then?

"In England," says Mr. Gladstone, "the case was widely different
from that of the Continent. Her reformation did not destroy, but
successfully maintained, the unity and succession of the Church
in her apostolical ministry. We have, therefore, still among us
the ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, conveying it to
us through an unbroken series from our Lord Jesus Christ and His
Apostles. This is to us the ordinary voice of authority; of
authority equally reasonable and equally true, whether we will
hear, or whether we will forbear."

Mr. Gladstone's reasoning is not so clear as might be desired. We
have among us, he says, ordained hereditary witnesses of the
truth, and their voice is to us the voice of authority.
Undoubtedly, if they are witness of the truth, their voice is the
voice of authority. But this is little more than saying that the
truth is the truth. Nor is truth more true because it comes in an
unbroken series from the Apostles. The Nicene faith is not more
true in the mouth of the Archbishop of Canterbury, than in that
of a Moderator of the General Assembly. If our respect for the
authority of the Church is to be only consequent upon our
conviction of the truth of her doctrines, we come at once to that
monstrous abuse, the Protestant exercise of private judgment. But
if Mr. Gladstone means that we ought to believe that the Church
of England speaks the truth because she has the apostolical
succession, we greatly doubt whether such a doctrine can be
maintained. In the first place, what proof have we of the fact?
We have, indeed, heard it said that Providence would certainly
have interfered to preserve the apostolical succession in the
true Church. But this is an argument fitted for understandings of
a different kind from Mr. Gladstone's. He will hardly tell us
that the Church of England is the true Church because she has the
succession; and that she has the succession because she is the
true Church.

What evidence, then, have we for the fact of the apostolical
succession? And here we may easily defend the truth against
Oxford with the same arguments with which, in old times, the
truth was defended by Oxford against Rome. In this stage of our
combat with Mr. Gladstone, we need few weapons except those which
we find in the well-furnished and well-ordered armoury of

The transmission of orders from the Apostles to an English
clergyman of the present day must have been through a very great
number of intermediate persons. Now, it is probable that no
clergyman in the Church of England can trace up his spiritual
genealogy from bishop to bishop so far back as the time of the
Conquest. There remain many centuries during which the history of
the transmission of his orders is buried in utter darkness. And
whether he be a priest by succession from the Apostles depends on
the question, whether during that long period, some thousands of
events took place, any one of which may, without any gross
improbability, be supposed not to have taken place. We have not a
tittle of evidence for any one of these events. We do not even
know the names or countries of the men to whom it is taken for
granted that these events happened. We do not know whether the
spiritual ancestors of any one of our contemporaries were Spanish
or Armenian, Arian or Orthodox. In the utter absence of all
particular evidence, we are surely entitled to require that there
should be very strong evidence indeed that the strictest
regularity was observed in every generation, and that episcopal
functions were exercised by none who were not bishops by
succession from the Apostles. But we have no such evidence. In
the first place, we have not full and accurate information
touching the polity of the Church during the century which
followed the persecution of Nero. That, during this period, the
overseers of all the little Christian societies scattered through
the Roman empire held their spiritual authority by virtue of holy
orders derived from the Apostles, cannot be proved by
contemporary testimony, or by any testimony which can be regarded
as decisive. The question, whether the primitive ecclesiastical
constitution bore a greater resemblance to the Anglican or to the
Calvinistic model, has been fiercely disputed. It is a question
on which men of eminent parts, learning, and piety have differed,
and do to this day differ very widely. It is a question on which
at least a full half of the ability and erudition of Protestant
Europe has ever since the Reformation, been opposed to the
Anglican pretensions. Mr. Gladstone himself, we are persuaded,
would have the candour to allow that, if no evidence were
admitted but that which is furnished by the genuine Christian
literature of the first two centuries, judgment would not go in
favour of prelacy. And if he looked at the subject as calmly as
he would look at a controversy respecting the Roman Comitia or
the Anglo-Saxon Witenagemote, he would probably think that the
absence of contemporary evidence during so long a period was a
defect which later attestations, however numerous, could but very
imperfectly supply. It is surely impolitic to rest the doctrines
of the English Church on a historical theory which, to ninety-
nine Protestants out of a hundred, would seem much more
questionable than any of those doctrines. Nor is this all.
Extreme obscurity overhangs the history of the middle ages; and
the facts which are discernible through that obscurity prove that
the Church was exceedingly ill regulated. We read of sees of the
highest dignity openly sold, transferred backwards and forwards
by popular tumult, bestowed sometimes by a profligate woman on
her paramour, sometimes by a warlike baron on a kinsman still a
stripling. We read of bishops of ten years old, of bishops of
five years old, of many popes who were mere boys, and who
rivalled the frantic dissoluteness of Caligula, nay, of a female
pope. And though this last story, once believed throughout all
Europe, has been disproved by the strict researches of modern
criticism, the most discerning of those who reject it have
admitted that it is not intrinsically improbable. In our own
island, it was the complaint of Alfred that not a single priest
south of the Thames, and very few on the north, could read either
Latin or English. And this illiterate clergy exercised their
ministry amidst a rude and half-heathen population, in which
Danish pirates, unchristened, or christened by the hundred on a
field of battle, were mingled with a Saxon peasantry scarcely
better instructed in religion. The state of Ireland was still
worse. "Tota illa per universam Hiberniam dissolutio,
ecclesiasticae disciplinae, illa ubique pro consuetudine
Christiana saeva subintroducta barbaries," are the expressions of
St. Bernard. We are, therefore, at a loss to conceive how any
clergyman can feel confident that his orders have come down
correctly. Whether he be really a successor of the Apostles
depends on an immense number of such contingencies as these;
whether, under King Ethelwolf, a stupid priest might not, while
baptizing several scores of Danish prisoners who had just made
their option between the font and the gallows, inadvertently omit
to perform the rite on one of these graceless proselytes;
whether, in the seventh century, an impostor, who had never
received consecration, might not have passed himself off as a
bishop on a rude tribe of Scots; whether a lad of twelve did
really, by a ceremony huddled over when he was too drunk to know
what he was about, convey the episcopal character to a lad of

Since the first century, not less, in all probability, than a
hundred thousand persons have exercised the functions of bishops.
That many of these have not been bishops by apostolical
succession is quite certain. Hooker admits that deviations from
the general rule have been frequent, and with a boldness worthy
of his high and statesmanlike intellect, pronounces them to have
been often justifiable. "There may be," says he, "sometimes very
just and sufficient reason to allow ordination made without a
bishop. Where the Church must needs have some ordained, and
neither hath nor can have possibly a bishop to ordain, in case of
such necessity the ordinary institution of God hath given
oftentimes, and may give place. And therefore we are not simply
without exception to urge a lineal descent of power from the
Apostles by continued succession of bishops in every effectual
ordination." There can be little doubt, we think, that the
succession, if it ever existed, has often been interrupted in
ways much less respectable. For example, let us suppose, and we
are sure that no well-informed person will think the supposition
by any means improbable, that, in the third century, a man of no
principle and some parts, who has, in the course of a roving and
discreditable life, been a catechumen at Antioch, and has there
become familiar with Christian usages and doctrines afterwards
rambles to Marseilles, where he finds a Christian society, rich,
liberal, and simple-hearted. He pretends to be a Christian,
attracts notice by his abilities and affected zeal, and is raised
to the episcopal dignity without having ever been baptized. That
such an event might happen, nay, was very likely to happen,
cannot well be disputed by any one who has read the Life of
Peregrinus. The very virtues, indeed, which distinguished the
early Christians, seem to have laid them open to those arts which

"Uriel, though Regent of the Sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in Heaven."

Now this unbaptized impostor is evidently no successor of the
Apostles. He is not even a Christian; and all orders derived
through such a pretended bishop are altogether invalid. Do we
know enough of the state of the world and of the Church in the
third century to be able to say with confidence that there were
not at that time twenty such pretended bishops? Every such case
makes a break in the apostolical succession.

Now, suppose that a break, such as Hooker admits to have been
both common and justifiable, or such as we have supposed to be
produced by hypocrisy and cupidity, were found in the chain which
connected the Apostles with any of the missionaries who first
spread Christianity in the wilder parts of Europe, who can say
how extensive the effect of this single break may be? Suppose
that St. Patrick, for example, if ever there was such a man, or
Theodore of Tarsus, who is said to have consecrated in the
seventh century the first bishops of many English sees, had not
the true apostolical orders, is it not conceivable that such a
circumstance may affect the orders of many clergymen now living?
Even if it were possible, which it assuredly is not, to prove
that the Church had the apostolical orders in the third century,
it would be impossible to prove that those orders were not in the
twelfth century so far lost that no ecclesiastic could be certain
of the legitimate descent of his own spiritual character. And if
this were so, no subsequent precautions could repair the evil.

Chillingworth states the conclusion at which he had arrived on
this subject in these very remarkable words: "That of ten
thousand probables no one should be false; that of ten thousand
requisites, whereof any one may fail, not one should be wanting,
this to me is extremely improbable, and even cousin-german to
impossible. So that the assurance hereof is like a machine
composed of an innumerable multitude of pieces, of which it is
strangely unlikely but some will be out of order; and yet, if any
one be so, the whole fabric falls of necessity to the ground: and
he that shall put them together, and maturely consider all the
possible ways of lapsing and nullifying a priesthood in the
Church of Rome, will be very inclinable to think that it is a
hundred to one, that among a hundred seeming priests, there is
not one true one; nay, that it is not a thing very improbable
that, amongst those many millions which make up the Romish
hierarchy, there are not twenty true." We do not pretend to know
to what precise extent the canonists of Oxford agree with those
of Rome as to the circumstances which nullify orders. We will
not, therefore, go so far as Chillingworth. We only say that we
see no satisfactory proof of the fact, that the Church of England
possesses the apostolical succession. And, after all, if Mr.
Gladstone could prove the apostolical succession, what would the
apostolical succession prove? He says that "we have among us the
ordained hereditary witnesses of the truth, conveying it to us
through an unbroken series from our Lord Jesus Christ and his
Apostles." Is this the fact? Is there any doubt that the orders
of the Church of England are generally derived from the Church of
Rome? Does not the Church of England declare, does not Mr.
Gladstone himself admit, that the Church of Rome teaches much
error and condemns much truth? And is it not quite clear, that as
far as the doctrines of the Church of England differ from those
of the Church of Rome, so far the Church of England conveys the
truth through a broken series?

That the founders, lay and clerical, of the Church of England,
corrected all that required correction in the doctrines of the
Church of Rome, and nothing more, may be quite true. But we never
can admit the circumstance that the Church of England possesses
the apostolical succession as a proof that she is thus perfect.
No stream can rise higher than its fountain. The succession of
ministers in the Church of England, derived as it is through the
Church of Rome, can never prove more for the Church of England
than it proves for the Church of Rome. But this is not all. The
Arian Churches which once predominated in the kingdoms of the
Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, the Burgundians, the Vandals, and the
Lombards, were all episcopal Churches, and all had a fairer claim
than that of England to the apostolical succession, as being much
nearer to the apostolical times. In the East, the Greek Church,
which is at variance on points of faith with all the Western
Churches, has an equal claim to this succession. The Nestorian,
the Eutychian, the Jacobite Churches, all heretical, all
condemned by councils, of which even Protestant divines have
generally spoken with respect, had an equal claim to the
apostolical succession. Now if, of teachers having apostolical
orders, a vast majority have taught much error, if a large
proportion have taught deadly heresy, if on the other hand, as
Mr. Gladstone himself admits, Churches not having apostolical
orders, that of Scotland for example, have been nearer to the
standard of orthodoxy than the majority of teachers who have had
apostolical orders, how can he possibly call upon us to submit
our private judgment to the authority of a Church on the ground
that she has these orders?

Mr. Gladstone dwells much on the importance of unity in doctrine.
Unity he tells us, is essential to truth. And this is most
unquestionable. But when he goes on to tell us that this unity is
the characteristic of the Church of England, that she is one in
body and in spirit, we are compelled to differ from him widely.
The apostolical succession she may or may not have. But unity she
most certainly has not, and never has had. It is a matter of
perfect notoriety, that her formularies are framed in such a
manner as to admit to her highest offices men who differ from
each other more widely than a very high Churchman differs from a
Catholic, or a very low Churchman from a Presbyterian; and that
the general leaning of the Church, with respect to some important
questions, has been sometimes one way and sometimes another.
Take, for example, the questions agitated between the Calvinists
and the Arminians. Do we find in the Church of England, with
respect to those questions, that unity which is essential to
truth? Was it ever found in the Church? Is it not certain that,
at the end of the sixteenth century, the rulers of the Church
held doctrines as Calvinistic as ever were held by any
Cameronian, and not only held them, but persecuted every body who
did not hold them? And is it not equally certain, that the rulers
of the Church have, in very recent times, considered Calvinism as
a disqualification for high preferment, if not for holy orders?
Look at the questions which Archbishop Whitgift propounded to
Barret, questions framed in the very spirit of William
Huntington, S. S. [One question was, whether God had from
eternity reprobated certain persons; and why? The answer which
contented the Archbishop was "Affirmative, et quia voluit."] And
then look at the eighty-seven questions which Bishop Marsh,
within our own memory, propounded to candidates for ordination.
We should be loth to say that either of these celebrated prelates
had intruded himself into a Church whose doctrines he abhorred,
and that he deserved to be stripped of his gown. Yet it is quite
certain that one or other of them must have been very greatly in
error. John Wesley again, and Cowper's friend, John Newton, were
both Presbyters of this Church. Both were men of ability. Both we
believe to have been men of rigid integrity, men who would not
have subscribed a Confession of Faith which they disbelieved for
the richest bishopric in the empire. Yet, on the subject of
predestination, Newton was strongly attached to doctrines which
Wesley designated as "blasphemy, which might make the ears of a
Christian to tingle." Indeed it will not be disputed that the
clergy of the Established Church are divided as to these
questions, and that her formularies are not found practically to
exclude even scrupulously honest men of both sides from her
altars. It is notorious that some of her most distinguished
rulers think this latitude a good thing, and would be sorry to
see it restricted in favour of either opinion. And herein we most
cordially agree with them. But what becomes of the unity of the
Church, and of that truth to which unity is essential? Mr.
Gladstone tells us that the Regium Donum was given originally to
orthodox Presbyterian ministers, but that part of it is now
received by their heterodox successors. "This," he says, "serves
to illustrate the difficulty in which governments entangle
themselves, when they covenant with arbitrary systems of
opinions, and not with the Church alone. The opinion passes away,
but the gift remains." But is it not clear, that if a strong
Supralapsarian had, under Whitgift's primacy, left a large estate
at the disposal of the bishops for ecclesiastical purposes, in
the hope that the rulers of the Church would abide by Whitgift's
theology, he would really have been giving his substance for the
support of doctrines which he detested? The opinion would have
passed away, and the gift would have remained.

This is only a single instance. What wide differences of opinion
respecting the operation of the sacraments are held by bishops,
doctors, presbyters of the Church of England, all men who have
conscientiously declared their assent to her articles, all men
who are, according to Mr. Gladstone, ordained hereditary
witnesses of the truth, all men whose voices make up what, he
tells us, is the voice of true and reasonable authority! Here,
again, the Church has not unity; and as unity is the essential
condition of truth, the Church has not the truth.

Nay, take the very question which we are discussing with Mr.
Gladstone. To what extent does the Church of England allow of the
right of private judgment? What degree of authority does she
claim for herself in virtue of the apostolical succession of her
ministers? Mr. Gladstone, a very able and a very honest man,
takes a view of this matter widely differing from the view taken
by others whom he will admit to be as able and as honest as
himself. People who altogether dissent from him on this subject
eat the bread of the Church, preach in her pulpits, dispense her
sacraments, confer her orders, and carry on that apostolical
succession, the nature and importance of which, according to him,
they do not comprehend. Is this unity? Is this truth?

It will be observed that we are not putting cases of dishonest
men who, for the sake of lucre, falsely pretend to believe in the
doctrines of an establishment.  We are putting cases of men as
upright as ever lived, differing on theological questions of the
highest importance and avowing that difference, are yet priests
and prelates of the same church. We therefore say, that on some
points which Mr. Gladstone himself thinks of vital importance,
the Church has either not spoken at all, or, what is for all
practical purposes the same thing, has not spoken in language to
be understood even by honest and sagacious divines. The religion
of the Church of England is so far from exhibiting that unity of
doctrine which Mr. Gladstone represents as her distinguishing
glory, that it is, in fact, a bundle of religious systems without
number. It comprises the religious system of Bishop Tomline, and
the religious system of John Newton, and all the religious
systems which lie between them. It comprises the religious system
of Mr. Newman, and the religious system of the Archbishop of
Dublin, and all the religious systems which lie between them. All
these different opinions are held, avowed, preached, printed,
within the pale of the Church, by men of unquestioned integrity
and understanding.

Do we make this diversity a topic of reproach to the Church of
England? Far from it. We would oppose with all our power every
attempt to narrow her basis? Would to God that, a hundred and
fifty years ago, a good king and a good primate had possessed the
power as well as the will to widen it! It was a noble
enterprise, worthy of William and of Tillotson. But what becomes
of all Mr. Gladstone's eloquent exhortations to unity? Is it not
mere mockery to attach so much importance to unity in form and
name, where there is so little in substance, to shudder at the
thought of two Churches in alliance with one State, and to endure
with patience the spectacle of a hundred sects battling within
one Church? And is it not clear that Mr. Gladstone is bound, on
all his own principles, to abandon the defence of a Church in
which unity is not found? Is it not clear that he is bound to
divide the House of Commons against every grant of money which
may be proposed for the clergy of the Established Church in the
colonies? He objects to the vote for Maynooth, because it is
monstrous to pay one man to teach truth, and another to denounce
that truth as falsehood. But it is a mere chance whether any sum
which he votes for the English Church in any colony will go to
the maintenance of an Arminian or a Calvinist, of a man like Mr.
Froude, or of a man like Dr. Arnold. It is a mere chance,
therefore, whether it will go to support a teacher of truth, or
one who will denounce that truth as falsehood.

This argument seems to us at once to dispose of all that part of
Mr. Gladstone's book which respects grants of public money to
dissenting bodies. All such grants he condemns. But surely, if it
be wrong to give the money of the public for the support of those
who teach any false doctrine, it is wrong to give that money for
the support of the ministers of the Established Church. For it is
quite certain that, whether Calvin or Arminius be in the right,
whether Laud or Burnet be in the right, a great deal of false
doctrine is taught by the ministers of the Established Church. If
it be said that the points on which the clergy of the Church of
England differ ought to be passed over, for the sake of the many
important points on which they agree, why may not the same
argument be maintained with respect to the other sects which
hold, in common with the Church of England, the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity? The principle that a ruler is bound in
conscience to propagate religious truth, and to propagate no
religious doctrine which is untrue, is abandoned as soon as it is
admitted that a gentleman of Mr. Gladstone's opinions may
lawfully vote the public money to a chaplain whose opinions are
those of Paley or of Simeon. The whole question then becomes one
of degree. Of course no individual and no government can
justifiably propagate error for the sake of propagating error.
But both individuals and governments must work with such
machinery as they have; and no human machinery is to be found
which will impart truth without some alloy of error. We have
shown irrefragably, as we think, that the Church of England does
not afford such a machinery. The question then is this; with what
degree of imperfection in our machinery must we put up? And to
this question we do not see how any general answer can be given.
We must be guided by circumstances. It would, for example, be
very criminal in a Protestant to contribute to the sending of
Jesuit missionaries among a Protestant population. But we do not
conceive that a Protestant would be to blame for giving
assistance to Jesuit missionaries who might be engaged in
converting the Siamese to Christianity. That tares are mixed with
the wheat is matter of regret; but it is better that wheat and
tares should grow together than that the promise of the year
should be blighted.

Mr. Gladstone, we see with deep regret, censures the British
Government in India for distributing a small sum among the
Catholic priests who minister to the spiritual wants of our Irish
soldiers. Now, let us put a case to him. A Protestant gentleman
is attended by a Catholic servant, in a part of the country where
there is no Catholic congregation within many miles. The servant
is taken ill, and is given over. He desires, in great trouble of
mind, to receive the last sacraments of his Church. His master
sends off a messenger in a chaise and four, with orders to bring
a confessor from a town at a considerable distance. Here a
Protestant lays out money for the purpose of causing religious
instruction and consolation to be given by a Catholic priest. Has
he committed a sin? Has he not acted like a good master and a
good Christian? Would Mr. Gladstone accuse him of "laxity of
religious principle," of "confounding truth with falsehood," of
"considering the support of religion as a boon to an individual,
not as a homage to truth?" But how if this servant had, for the
sake of his master, undertaken a journey which removed him from
the place where he might easily have obtained religious
attendance? How if his death were occasioned by a wound received
in defending his master? Should we not then say that the master
had only fulfilled a sacred obligation of duty? Now, Mr.
Gladstone himself owns that "nobody can think that the
personality of the State is more stringent, or entails stronger
obligations, than that of the individual." How then stands the
case of the Indian Government? Here is a poor fellow enlisted in
Clare or Kerry, sent over fifteen thousand miles of sea,
quartered in a depressing and pestilential climate. He fights for
the Government; he conquers for it; he is wounded; he is laid on
his pallet, withering away with fever, under that terrible sun,
without a friend near him. He pines for the consolations of that
religion which, neglected perhaps in the season of health and
vigour, now comes back to his mind, associated with all the
overpowering recollections of his earlier days, and of the home
which he is never to see again. And because the State for which
he dies sends a priest of his own faith to stand at his bedside,
and to tell him, in language which at once commands his love and
confidence, of the common Father, of the common Redeemer, of the
common hope of immortality, because the State for which he dies
does not abandon him in his last moments to the care of heathen
attendants, or employ a chaplain of a different creed to vex his
departing spirit with a controversy about the Council of Trent,
Mr. Gladstone finds that India presents "a melancholy picture,"
and that there is "a large allowance of false principle" in the
system pursued there. Most earnestly do we hope that our remarks
may induce Mr. Gladstone to reconsider this part of his work, and
may prevent him from expressing in that high assembly, in which
he must always be heard with attention, opinions so unworthy of
his character.

We have now said almost all that we think it necessary to say
respecting Mr. Gladstone's theory. And perhaps it would be safest
for us to stop here. It is much easier to pull down than to build
up. Yet, that we may give Mr. Gladstone his revenge, we will
state concisely our own views respecting the alliance of Church
and State.

We set out in company with Warburton, and remain with him pretty
sociably till we come to his contract; a contract which Mr.
Gladstone very properly designates as a fiction. We consider the
primary end of Government as a purely temporal end, the
protection of the persons and property of men.

We think that Government, like every other contrivance of human
wisdom, from the highest to the lowest, is likely to answer its
main end best when it is constructed with a single view to that
end. Mr. Gladstone, who loves Plato, will not quarrel with us for
illustrating our proposition, after Plato's fashion, from the
most familiar objects. Take cutlery, for example. A blade which
is designed both to shave and to carve, will certainly not shave
so well as a razor, or carve so well as a carving-knife. An
academy of painting, which should also be a bank, would, in all
probability, exhibit very bad pictures and discount very bad
bills. A gas company, which should also be an infant school
society, would, we apprehend, light the streets ill, and teach
the children ill. On this principle, we think that Government
should be organised solely with a view to its main end; and that
no part of its efficiency for that end should be sacrificed in
order to promote any other end however excellent.

But does it follow from hence that Governments ought never to
pursue any end other than their main end? In no wise. Though it
is desirable that every institution should have a main end, and
should be so formed as to be in the highest degree efficient for
that main end; yet if, without any sacrifice of its efficiency
for that end, it can pursue any other good end, it ought to do
so. Thus, the end for which a hospital is built is the relief of
the sick, not the beautifying of the street. To sacrifice the
health of the sick to splendour of architectural effect, to place
the building in a bad air only that it may present a more
commanding front to a great public place, to make the wards
hotter or cooler than they ought to be, in order that the columns
and windows of the exterior may please the passers-by would be
monstrous. But if, without any sacrifice of the chief object, the
hospital can be made an ornament to the metropolis, it would be
absurd not to make it so.

In the same manner, if a Government can, without any sacrifice of
its main end, promote any other good work, it ought to do so. The
encouragement of the fine arts, for example, is by no means the
main end of Government; and it would be absurd, in constituting a
Government, to bestow a thought on the question, whether it would
be a Government likely to train Raphaels or Domenichinos. But it
by no means follows that it is improper for a Government to form
a national gallery of pictures. The same may be said of patronage
bestowed on learned men, of the publication of archives, of the
collecting of libraries, menageries, plants, fossils, antiques,
of journeys and voyages for purposes of geographical discovery or
astronomical observation. It is not for these ends that
Government is constituted. But it may well happen that a
Government may have at its command resources which will enable
it, without any injury to its main end, to pursue these
collateral ends far more effectually than any individual or any
voluntary association could do. If so, Government ought to pursue
these collateral ends.

It is still more evidently the duty of Government to promote,
always in subordination to its main end, everything which is
useful as a means for the attaining of that main end. The
improvement of steam navigation, for example, is by no means a
primary object of Government. But as steam vessels are useful for
the purpose of national defence, and for the purpose of
facilitating intercourse between distant provinces, and of
thereby consolidating the force of the empire, it may be the
bounden duty of Government to encourage ingenious men to perfect
an invention which so directly tends to make the State more
efficient for its great primary end.

Now on both these grounds, the instruction of the people may with
propriety engage the care of the Government. That the people
should be well educated, is in itself a good thing; and the State
ought therefore to promote this object, if it can do so without
any sacrifice of its primary object. The education of the people,
conducted on those principles of morality which are common to all
the forms of Christianity, is highly valuable as a means of
promoting the main object for which Government exists, and is on
this ground well deserving the attention of rulers. We will not
at present go into the general question of education; but will
confine our remarks to the subject which is more immediately
before us, namely, the religious instruction of the people.

We may illustrate our view of the policy which Governments ought
to pursue with respect to religious instruction, by recurring to
the analogy of a hospital. Religious instruction is not the main
end for which a hospital is built; and to introduce into a
hospital any regulations prejudicial to the health of the
patients, on the plea of promoting their spiritual improvement,
to send a ranting preacher to a man who has just been ordered by
the physician to lie quiet and try to get a little sleep, to
impose a strict observance of Lent on a convalescent who has been
advised to eat heartily of nourishing food, to direct, as the
bigoted Pius the Fifth actually did, that no medical assistance
should be given to any person who declined spiritual attendance,
would be the most extravagant folly. Yet it by no means follows
that it would not be right to have a chaplain to attend the sick,
and to pay such a chaplain out of the hospital funds. Whether it
will be proper to have such a chaplain at all, and of what
religious persuasion such a chaplain ought to be, must depend on
circumstances. There may be a town in which it would be
impossible to set up a good hospital without the help of people
of different opinions: and religious parties may run so high
that, though people of different opinions are willing to
contribute for the relief of the sick, they will not concur in
the choice of any one chaplain. The High Churchmen insist that,
if there is a paid chaplain, he shall be a High Churchman. The
Evangelicals stickle for an Evangelical. Here it would evidently
be absurd and cruel to let an useful and humane design, about
which we are all agreed, fall to the ground, because all cannot
agree about something else. The governors must either appoint two
chaplains and pay them both; or they must appoint none; and every
one of them must, in his individual capacity, do what he can for
the purpose of providing the sick with such religious instruction
and consolation as will, in his opinion, be most useful to them.

We should say the same of Government. Government is not an
institution for the propagation of religion, any more than St.
George's Hospital is an institution for the propagation of
religion: and the most absurd and pernicious consequences would
follow, if Government should pursue, as its primary end, that
which can never be more than its secondary end, though
intrinsically more important than its primary end. But a
Government which considers the religious instruction of the
people as a secondary end, and follows out that principle
faithfully, will, we think, be likely to do much good and little

We will rapidly run over some of the consequences to which this
principle leads, and point out how it solves some problems which,
on Mr. Gladstone's hypothesis, admit of no satisfactory solution.

All persecution directed against the persons or property of men
is, on our principle, obviously indefensible. For, the protection
of the persons and property of men being the primary end of
Government and religious instruction only a secondary end, to
secure the people from heresy by making their lives, their limbs,
or their estates insecure, would be to sacrifice the primary end
to the secondary end. It would be as absurd as it would be in the
governors of a hospital to direct that the wounds of all Arian
and Socinian patients should be dressed in such a way as to make
them fester.

Again, on our principles, all civil disabilities on account of
religious opinions are indefensible. For all such disabilities
make Government less efficient for its main end: they limit its
choice of able men for the administration and defence of the
State; they alienate from it the hearts of the sufferers; they
deprive it of a part of its effective strength in all contests
with foreign nations. Such a course is as absurd as it would be
in the governors of a hospital to reject an able surgeon because
he is an Universal Restitutionist, and to send a bungler to
operate because he is perfectly orthodox.

Again, on our principles, no Government ought to press on the
people religious instruction, however sound, in such a manner as
to excite among them discontents dangerous to public order. For
here again Government would sacrifice its primary end to an end
intrinsically indeed of the highest importance, but still only a
secondary end of Government, as Government. This rule at once
disposes of the difficulty about India, a difficulty of which Mr.
Gladstone can get rid only by putting in an imaginary discharge
in order to set aside an imaginary obligation. There is assuredly
no country where it is more desirable that Christianity should be
propagated. But there is no country in which the Government is so
completely disqualified for the task. By using our power in order
to make proselytes, we should produce the dissolution of society,
and bring utter ruin on all those interests for the protection of
which Government exists. Here the secondary end is, at present,
inconsistent with the primary end, and must therefore be
abandoned. Christian instruction given by individuals and
voluntary societies may do much good. Given by the Government it
would do unmixed harm. At the same time, we quite agree with Mr.
Gladstone in thinking that the English authorities in India ought
not to participate in any idolatrous rite; and indeed we are
fully satisfied that all such participation is not only
unchristian, but also unwise and most undignified.

Supposing the circumstances of a country to be such, that the
Government may with propriety, on our principles, give religious
instruction to a people; we have next to inquire, what religion
shall be taught. Bishop Warburton answers, the religion of the
majority. And we so far agree with him, that we can scarcely
conceive any circumstances in which it would be proper to
establish, as the one exclusive religion of the State, the
religion of the minority. Such a preference could hardly be given
without exciting most serious discontent, and endangering those
interests, the protection of which is the first object of
Government. But we never can admit that a ruler can be justified
in helping to spread a system of opinions solely because that
system is pleasing to the majority. On the other hand, we cannot
agree with Mr. Gladstone, who would of course answer that the
only religion which a ruler ought to propagate is the religion of
his own conscience. In truth, this is an impossibility. And as we
have shown, Mr. Gladstone himself, whenever he supports a grant
of money to the Church of England, is really assisting to
propagate not the precise religion of his own conscience, but
some one or more, he knows not how many or which, of the
innumerable religions which lie between the confines of
Pelagianism and those of Antinomianism, and between the confines
of Popery and those of Presbyterianism. In our opinion, that
religious instruction which the ruler ought, in his public
capacity, to patronise, is the instruction from which he, in his
conscience, believes that the people will learn most good with
the smallest mixture of evil. And thus it is not necessarily his
own religion that he will select. He will, of course, believe
that his own religion is unmixedly good. But the question which
he has to consider is, not how much good his religion contains,
but how much good the people will learn, if instruction is given
them in that religion. He may prefer the doctrines and government
of the Church of England to those of the Church of Scotland. But
if he knows that a Scotch congregation will listen with deep
attention and respect while an Erskine or a Chalmers sets before
them the fundamental doctrines of Christianity, and that a
glimpse of a surplice or a single line of a liturgy would be the
signal for hooting and riot and would probably bring stools and
brickbats about the ears of the minister, he acts wisely if he
conveys religious knowledge to the Scotch rather by means of that
imperfect Church, as he may think it, from which they will learn
much, than by means of that perfect Church from which they will
learn nothing. The only end of teaching is, that men may learn;
and it is idle to talk of the duty of teaching truth in ways
which only cause men to cling more firmly to falsehood.

On these principles we conceive that a statesman, who might be
far indeed from regarding the Church of England with the
reverence which Mr. Gladstone feels for her, might yet firmly
oppose all attempts to destroy her. Such a statesman may be too
well acquainted with her origin to look upon her with
superstitious awe. He may know that she sprang from a compromise
huddled up between the eager zeal of reformers and the
selfishness of greedy, ambitious, and time-serving politicians.
He may find in every page of her annals ample cause for censure.
He may feel that he could not, with ease to his conscience,
subscribe all her articles. He may regret that all the attempts
which have been made to open her gates to large classes of
nonconformists should have failed. Her episcopal polity he may
consider as of purely human institution. He cannot defend her on
the ground that she possesses the apostolical succession; for he
does not know whether that succession may not be altogether a
fable. He cannot defend her on the ground of her unity; for he
knows that her frontier sects are much more remote from each
other, than one frontier is from the Church of Rome, or the other
from the Church of Geneva. But he may think that she teaches more
truth with less alloy of error than would be taught by those who,
if she were swept away, would occupy the vacant space. He may
think that the effect produced by her beautiful services and by
her pulpits on the national mind, is, on the whole, highly
beneficial. He may think that her civilising influence is
usefully felt in remote districts. He may think that, if she were
destroyed, a large portion of those who now compose her
congregations would neglect all religious duties, and that a
still larger portion would fall under the influence of spiritual
mountebanks, hungry for gain, or drunk with fanaticism. While he
would with pleasure admit that all the qualities of Christian
pastors are to be found in large measure within the existing body
of Dissenting ministers, he would perhaps be inclined to think
that the standard of intellectual and moral character among that
exemplary class of men may have been raised to its present high
point and maintained there by the indirect influence of the
Establishment. And he may be by no means satisfied that, if the
Church were at once swept away, the place of our Sumners and
Whatelys would be supplied by Doddridges and Halls. He may think
that the advantages which we have described are obtained, or
might, if the existing system were slightly modified, be
obtained, without any sacrifice of the paramount objects which
all Governments ought to have chiefly in view. Nay, he may be of
opinion that an institution, so deeply fixed in the hearts and
minds of millions, could not be subverted without loosening and
shaking all the foundations of civil society. With at least equal
ease he would find reasons for supporting the Church of Scotland.
Nor would he be under the necessity of resorting to any contract
to justify the connection of two religious establishments with
one Government. He would think scruples on that head frivolous in
any person who is zealous for a Church, of which both Dr. Herbert
Marsh and Dr. Daniel Wilson have been bishops. Indeed he would
gladly follow out his principles much further. He would have been
willing to vote in 1825 for Lord Francis Egerton's resolution,
that it is expedient to give a public maintenance to the Catholic
clergy of Ireland: and he would deeply regret that no such
measure was adopted in 1829.

In this way, we conceive, a statesman might on our principles
satisfy himself that it would be in the highest degree
inexpedient to abolish the Church, either of England or of

But if there were, in any part of the world, a national Church
regarded as heretical by four-fifths of the nation committed to
its care, a Church established and maintained by the sword, a
Church producing twice as many riots as conversions, a Church
which, though possessing great wealth and power, and though long
backed by persecuting laws, had, in the course of many
generations, been found unable to propagate its doctrines, and
barely able to maintain its ground, a Church so odious, that
fraud and violence, when used against its clear rights of
property, were generally regarded as fair play, a Church, whose
ministers were preaching to desolate walls, and with difficulty
obtaining their lawful subsistence by the help of bayonets, such
a Church, on our principles, could not, we must own, be defended.
We should say that the State which allied itself with such a
Church postponed the primary end of Government to the secondary:
and that the consequences had been such as any sagacious observer
would have predicted. Neither the primary nor the secondary end
is attained. The temporal and spiritual interests of the people
suffer alike. The minds of men, instead of being drawn to the
Church, are alienated from the State. The magistrate, after
sacrificing order, peace, union, all the interests which it is
his first duty to protect, for the purpose of promoting pure
religion, is forced, after the experience of centuries, to admit
that he has really been promoting error. The sounder the
doctrines of such a Church, the more absurd and noxious the
superstition by which those doctrines are opposed, the stronger
are the arguments against the policy which has deprived a good
cause of its natural advantages. Those who preach to rulers the
duty of employing power to propagate truth would do well to
remember that falsehood, though no match for truth alone, has
often been found more than a match for truth and power together.

A statesman, judging on our principles, would pronounce without
hesitation that a Church, such as we have last described, never
ought to have been set up. Further than this we will not venture
to speak for him. He would doubtless remember that the world is
full of institutions which, though they never ought to have been
set up, yet, having been set up, ought not to be rudely pulled
down; and that it is often wise in practice to be content with
the mitigation of an abuse which, looking at it in the abstract,
we might feel impatient to destroy.

We have done; and nothing remains but that we part from Mr.
Gladstone with the courtesy of antagonists who bear no malice. We
dissent from his opinions, but we admire his talents; we respect
his integrity and benevolence; and we hope that he will not
suffer political avocations so entirely to engross him, as to
leave him no leisure for literature and philosophy.


(July 1837)

The Works of Francis Bacon, Lord Chancellor of England. A new
Edition. By BASIL MONTAGU, Esq., 16 vols. 8vo. London: 1825-1834.

WE return our hearty thanks to Mr. Montagu. for this truly
valuable work. From the opinions which he expresses as a
biographer we often dissent. But about his merit as a collector
of the materials out of which opinions are formed, there can be
no dispute; and we readily acknowledge that we are in a great
measure indebted to his minute and accurate researches for the
means of refuting what we cannot but consider as his errors.

The labour which has been bestowed on this volume has been a
labour of love. The writer is evidently enamoured of the subject.
It fills his heart. It constantly overflows from his lips and his
pen. Those who are acquainted with the Courts in which Mr.
Montagu practises with so much ability and success well know how
often he enlivens the discussion of a point of law by citing some
weighty aphorism, or some brilliant illustration, from the De
Augmentis or the Novum Organum. The Life before us doubtless owes
much of its value to the honest and generous enthusiasm of the
writer. This feeling has stimulated his activity, has sustained
his perseverance, has called forth all his ingenuity and
eloquence; but, on the other hand, we must frankly say that it
has, to a great extent, perverted his judgment.

We are by no means without sympathy for Mr. Montagu even in what
we consider as his weakness. There is scarcely any delusion which
has a better claim to be indulgently treated than that under the
influence of which a man ascribes every moral excellence to those
who have left imperishable monuments of their genius. The causes
of this error lie deep in the inmost recesses of human nature. We
are all inclined to judge of others as we find them. Our estimate
of a character always depends much on the manner in which that
character affects our own interests and passions. We find it
difficult to think well of those by whom we are thwarted or
depressed; and we are ready to admit every excuse for the vices
of those who are useful or agreeable to us. This is, we believe,
one of those illusions to which the whole human race is subject,
and which experience and reflection can only partially remove, It
is, in the phraseology of Bacon, one of the idola tribus. Hence
it is that the moral character of a man eminent in letters or in
the fine arts is treated, often by contemporaries, almost always
by posterity, with extraordinary tenderness. The world derives
pleasure and advantage from the performances of such a man. The
number of those who suffer by his personal vices is small, even
in his own time, when compared with the number of those to whom
his talents are a source of gratification. In a few years all
those whom he has injured disappear. But his works remain, and
are a source of delight to millions. The genius of Sallust is
still with us. But the Numidians whom he plundered, and the
unfortunate husbands who caught him in their houses at
unseasonable hours, are forgotten. We suffer ourselves to be
delighted by the keenness of Clarendon's observation, and by the
sober majesty of his style, till we forget the oppressor and the
bigot in the historian. Falstaff and Tom Jones have survived the
gamekeepers whom Shakspeare cudgelled and the landladies whom
Fielding bilked. A great writer is the friend and benefactor of
his readers; and they cannot but judge of him under the deluding
influence of friendship and gratitude. We all know how unwilling
we are to admit the truth of any disgraceful story about a person
whose society we like, and from whom we have received favours;
how long we struggle against evidence, how fondly, when the facts
cannot be disputed, we cling to the hope that there may be some
explanation or some extenuating circumstance with which we are
unacquainted. Just such is the feeling which a man of liberal
education naturally entertains towards the great minds of former
ages. The debt which he owes to them is incalculable. They have
guided him to truth. They have filled his mind with noble and
graceful images. They have stood by him in all vicissitudes,
comforters in sorrow, nurses in sickness, companions in solitude.
These friendships are exposed to no danger from the occurrences
by which other attachments are weakened or dissolved. Time glides
on; fortune is inconstant; tempers are soured; bonds which seemed
indissoluble are daily sundered by interest, by emulation, or by
caprice. But no such cause can affect the silent converse which
we hold with the highest of human intellects. That placid
intercourse is disturbed by no jealousies or resentments. These
are the old friends who are never seen with new faces, who axe
the same in wealth and in poverty, in glory and in obscurity.
With the dead there is no rivalry. In the dead there is no
change. Plato is never sullen. Cervantes is never petulant.
Demosthenes never comes unseasonably. Dante never stays too long.
No difference of political opinion can alienate Cicero. No heresy
can excite the horror of Bossuet.

Nothing, then, can be more natural than that a person endowed
with sensibility and imagination should entertain a respectful
and affectionate feeling towards those great men with whose minds
he holds daily communion. Yet nothing can be more certain than
that such men have not always deserved to be regarded with
respect or affection. Some writers, whose works will continue to
instruct and delight mankind to the remotest ages, have been
placed in such situations that their actions and motives are as
well known to us as the actions and motives of one human being
can be known to another; and unhappily their conduct has not
always been such as an impartial judge can contemplate with
approbation. But the fanaticism of the devout worshipper of
genius is proof against all evidence and all argument. The
character of his idol is matter of faith; and the province of
faith is not to be invaded by reason. He maintains his
superstition with a credulity as boundless, and a zeal as
unscrupulous, as can be found in the most ardent partisans of
religious or political factions. The most decisive proofs are
rejected; the plainest rules of morality are explained away;
extensive and important portions of history are completely
distorted. The enthusiast misrepresents facts with all the
effrontery of an advocate, and confounds right and wrong with all
the dexterity of a Jesuit; and all this only in order that some
man who has been in his grave during many ages may have a fairer
character than he deserves.

Middleton's Life of Cicero is a striking instance of the
influence of this sort of partiality. Never was there a character
which it was easier to read than that of Cicero. Never was there
a mind keener or more critical than that of Middleton. Had the
biographer brought to the examination of his favourite
statesman's conduct but a very small part of the acuteness and
severity which he displayed when he was engaged in investigating
the high pretensions of Epiphanius and Justin Martyr, he could
not have failed to produce a most valuable history of a most
interesting portion of time. But this most ingenious and learned
man, though

               "So wary held and wise
That, as 'twas said, he scarce received
For gospel what the church believed,"

had a superstition of his own. The great Iconoclast was himself
an idolater. The great Avvocato del Diavolo, while he disputed,
with no small ability, the claims of Cyprian and Athanasius to a
place in the Calendar, was himself composing a lying legend in
honour of St. Tully. He was holding up as a model of every virtue
a man whose talents and acquirements, indeed, can never be too
highly extolled, and who was by no means destitute of amiable
qualities, but whose whole soul was under the dominion of a
girlish vanity and a craven fear. Actions for which Cicero
himself, the most eloquent and skilful of advocates, could
contrive no excuse, actions which in his confidential
correspondence he mentioned with remorse and shame, are
represented by his biographer as wise, virtuous, heroic. The
whole history of that great revolution which overthrew the Roman
aristocracy, the whole state of parties, the character of every
public man, is elaborately misrepresented, in order to make out
something which may look like a defence of one most eloquent and
accomplished trimmer.

The volume before us reminds us now and then of the Life of
Cicero. But there is this marked difference. Dr. Middleton
evidently had an uneasy consciousness of the weakness of his
cause, and therefore resorted to the most disingenuous shifts, to
unpardonable distortions and suppressions of facts. Mr. Montagu's
faith is sincere and implicit. He practises no trickery. He
conceals nothing. He puts the facts before us in the full
confidence that they will produce on our minds the effect which
they have produced on his own. It is not till he comes to reason
from facts to motives that his partiality shows itself; and then
he leaves Middleton himself far behind. His work proceeds on the
assumption that Bacon was an eminently virtuous man. From the
tree Mr. Montagu judges of the fruit. He is forced to relate many
actions which, if any man but Bacon had committed them, nobody
would have dreamed of defending, actions which are readily and
completely explained by supposing Bacon to have been a man whose
principles were not strict, and whose spirit was not high,
actions which can be explained in no other way without resorting
to some grotesque hypothesis for which there is not a tittle of
evidence. But any hypothesis is, in Mr. Montagu's opinion, more
probable than that his hero should ever have done anything very

This mode of defending Bacon seems to us by no means Baconian. To
take a man's character for granted, and then from his character
to infer the moral quality of all his actions, is surely a
process the very reverse of that which is recommended in the
Novum Organum. Nothing, we are sure, could have led Mr. Montagu
to depart so far from his master's precepts, except zeal for his
master's honour. We shall follow a different course. We shall
attempt, with the valuable assistance which Mr. Montagu has
afforded us, to frame such an account of Bacon's life as may
enable our readers correctly to estimate his character.

It is hardly necessary to say that Francis Bacon was the son of
Sir Nicholas Bacon, who held the great seal of England during the
first twenty years of the reign of Elizabeth. The fame of the
father has been thrown into shade by that of the son. But Sir
Nicholas was no ordinary man. He belonged to a set of men whom it
is easier to describe collectively than separately, whose minds
were formed by one system of discipline, who belonged to one rank
in society, to one university, to one party, to one sect, to one
administration, and who resembled each other so much in talents,
in opinions, in habits, in fortunes, that one character, we had
almost said one life, may, to a considerable extent, serve for
them all.

They were the first generation of statesmen by profession that
England produced. Before their time the division of labour had,
in this respect, been very imperfect. Those who had directed
public affairs had been, with few exceptions, warriors or
priests; warriors whose rude courage was neither guided by
science nor softened by humanity, priests whose learning and
abilities were habitually devoted to the defence of tyranny and
imposture. The Hotspurs, the Nevilles, the Cliffords, rough,
illiterate, and unreflecting, brought to the council-board the
fierce and imperious disposition which they had acquired amidst
the tumult of predatory war, or in the gloomy repose of the
garrisoned and moated castle. On the other side was the calm and
subtle prelate, versed in all that was then considered as
learning, trained in the Schools to manage words, and in the
confessional to manage hearts, seldom superstitious, but skilful
in practising on the superstition of others; false, as it was
natural that a man should be whose profession imposed on all who
were not saints the necessity of being hypocrites; selfish, as it
was natural that a man should be who could form no domestic ties
and cherish no hope of legitimate posterity, more attached to his
order than to his country, and guiding the politics of England
with a constant side-glance at Rome.

But the increase of wealth, the progress of knowledge, and the
reformation of religion produced a great change. The nobles
ceased to be military chieftains; the priests ceased to possess a
monopoly of learning; and a new and remarkable species of
politicians appeared.

These men came from neither of the classes which had, till then,
almost exclusively furnished ministers of state. They were all
laymen; yet they were all men of learning; and they were all men
of peace. They were not members of the aristocracy. They
inherited no titles, no large domains, no armies of retainers, no
fortified castles. Yet they were not low men, such as those whom
princes, jealous of the power of a nobility, have sometimes
raised from forges and cobblers' stalls to the highest
situations. They were all gentlemen by birth. They had all
received a liberal education. It is a remarkable fact that they
were all members of the same university. The two great national
seats of learning had even then acquired the characters which
they still retain. In intellectual activity, and in readiness to
admit improvements, the superiority was then, as it has ever
since been, on the side of the less ancient and splendid
institution. Cambridge had the honour of educating those
celebrated Protestant Bishops whom Oxford had the honour of
burning; and at Cambridge were formed the minds of all those
statesmen to whom chiefly is to be attributed the secure
establishment of the reformed religion in the north of Europe.

The statesmen of whom we speak passed their youth surrounded by
the incessant din of theological controversy. Opinions were still
in a state of chaotic anarchy, intermingling, separating,
advancing, receding. Sometimes the stubborn bigotry of the
Conservatives seemed likely to prevail. Then the impetuous onset
of the Reformers for a moment carried all before it. Then again
the resisting mass made a desperate stand, arrested the movement,
and forced it slowly back. The vacillation which at that time
appeared in English legislation, and which it has been the
fashion to attribute to the caprice and to the power of one or
two individuals, was truly a national vacillation. It was not
only in the mind of Henry that the new theology obtained the
ascendant one day, and that the lessons of the nurse and of the
priest regained their influence on the morrow. It was not only in
the House of Tudor that the husband was exasperated by the
opposition of the wife, that the son dissented from the opinions
of the father, that the brother persecuted the sister, that one
sister persecuted another. The principles of Conservation and
Reform carried on their warfare in every part of society, in
every congregation, in every school of learning, round the hearth
of every private family, in the recesses of every reflecting

It was in the midst of this ferment that the minds of the persons
whom we are describing were developed. They were born Reformers.
They belonged by nature to that order of men who always form the
front ranks in the great intellectual progress. They were
therefore, one and all, Protestants. In religious matters,
however, though there is no reason to doubt that they were
sincere, they were by no means zealous. None of them chose to run
the smallest personal risk during the reign of Mary. None of them
favoured the unhappy attempt of Northumberland in favour of his
daughter-in-law. None of them shared in the desperate councils of
Wyatt. They contrived to have business on the Continent; or, if
they staid in England, they heard mass and kept Lent with great
decorum. When those dark and perilous years had gone by, and when
the Crown had descended to a new sovereign, they took the lead in
the reformation of the Church. But they proceeded, not with the
impetuosity of theologians, but with the calm determination of
statesmen. They acted, not like men who considered the Romish
worship as a system too offensive to God, and too destructive of
souls, to be tolerated for an hour, but like men who regarded the
points in dispute among Christians as in themselves unimportant,
and who were not restrained by any scruple of conscience from
professing, as they had before professed, the Catholic faith of
Mary, the Protestant faith of Edward, or any of the numerous
intermediate combinations which the caprice of Henry and the
servile policy of Cranmer had formed out of the doctrines of both
the hostile parties. They took a deliberate view of the state of
their own country and of the Continent: they satisfied themselves
as to the leaning of the public mind; and they chose their side.
They placed themselves at the head of the Protestants of Europe,
and staked all their fame and fortunes on the success of their

It is needless to relate how dexterously, how resolutely, how
gloriously they directed the politics of England during the
eventful years which followed, how they succeeded in uniting
their friends and separating their enemies, how they humbled the
pride of Philip, how they backed the unconquerable spirit of
Coligny, how they rescued Holland from tyranny, how they founded
the maritime greatness of their country, how they outwitted the
artful politicians of Italy, and tamed the ferocious chieftains
of Scotland. It is impossible to deny that they committed many
acts which would justly bring on a statesman of our time censures
of the most serious kind. But, when we consider the state of
morality in their age, and the unscrupulous character of the
adversaries against whom they had to contend, we are forced to
admit that it is not without reason that their names are still
held in veneration by their countrymen.

There were, doubtless, many diversities in their intellectual and
moral character. But there was a strong family likeness. The
constitution of their minds was remarkably sound. No particular
faculty was pre-eminently developed; but manly health and vigour
were equally diffused through the whole. They were men of
letters. Their minds were by nature and by exercise well
fashioned for speculative pursuits. It was by circumstances,
rather than by any strong bias of inclination, that they were
led to take a prominent part in active life. In active life,
however, no men could be more perfectly free from the faults of
mere theorists and pedants. No men observed more accurately the
signs of the times. No men had a greater practical acquaintance
with human nature. Their policy was generally characterised
rather by vigilance, by moderation, and by firmness, than by
invention, or by the spirit of enterprise.

They spoke and wrote in a manner worthy of their excellent sense.
Their eloquence was less copious and less ingenious, but far
purer and more manly than that of the succeeding generation. It
was the eloquence of men who had lived with the first translators
of the Bible, and with the authors of the Book of Common Prayer.
It was luminous, dignified, solid, and very slightly tainted with
that affectation which deformed the style of the ablest men of
the next age. If, as sometimes chanced, these politicians were
under the necessity of taking a part in the theological
controversies on which the dearest interests of kingdoms were
then staked, they acquitted themselves as if their whole lives
had been passed in the Schools and the Convocation.

There was something in the temper of these celebrated men which
secured them against the proverbial inconstancy both of the Court
and of the multitude. No intrigue, no combination of rivals,
could deprive them of the confidence of their Sovereign. No
parliament attacked their influence. No mob coupled their names
with any odious grievance. Their power ended only with their
lives. In this respect, their fate presents a most remarkable
contrast to that of the enterprising and brilliant politicians of
the preceding and of the succeeding generation. Burleigh was
Minister during forty years. Sir Nicholas Bacon held the great
seal more than twenty years. Sir Walter Mildmay was Chancellor
of the Exchequer twenty-three years. Sir Thomas Smith was
Secretary of State eighteen years; Sir Francis Walsingham about
as long. They all died in office, and in the enjoyment of public
respect and royal favour. Far different had been the fate of
Wolsey, Cromwell, Norfolk, Somerset, and Northumberland. Far
different also was the fate of Essex, of Raleigh, and of the
still more illustrious man whose life we propose to consider.

The explanation of this circumstance is perhaps contained in the
motto which Sir Nicholas Bacon inscribed over the entrance of his
hall at Gorhambury, Mediocria firma. This maxim was constantly
borne in mind by himself and his colleagues. They were more
solicitous to lay the foundations of their power deep than to
raise the structure to a conspicuous but insecure height. None of
them aspired to be sole Minister. None of them provoked envy by
an ostentatious display of wealth and influence. None of them
affected to outshine the ancient aristocracy of the kingdom. They
were free from that childish love of titles which characterised
the successful courtiers of the generation which preceded them
and of that which followed them. Only one of those whom we have
named was made a peer; and he was content with the lowest degree
of the peerage. As to money, none of them could, in that age,
justly be considered as rapacious. Some of them would, even in
our time, deserve the praise of eminent disinterestedness. Their
fidelity to the State was incorruptible. Their private morals
were without stain. Their households were sober and well

Among these statesmen Sir Nicholas Bacon was generally considered
as ranking next to Burleigh. He was called by Camden "Sacris
conciliis alterum columen"; and by George Buchanan,

        "diu Britannici
Regni secundum columen."

The second wife of Sir Nicholas and mother of Francis Bacon was
Anne, one of the daughters of Sir Anthony Cooke, a man of
distinguished learning who had been tutor to Edward the Sixth.
Sir Anthony had paid considerable attention to the education of
his daughters, and lived to see them all splendidly and happily
married. Their classical acquirements made them conspicuous even
among the women of fashion of that age. Katherine, who became
Lady Killigrew, wrote Latin Hexameters and Pentameters which
would appear with credit in the Musae Etonenses. Mildred, the
wife of Lord Burleigh, was described by Roger Ascham as the best
Greek scholar among the young women of England, Lady Jane Grey
always excepted. Anne, the mother of Francis Bacon, was
distinguished both as a linguist and as a theologian. She
corresponded in Greek with Bishop Jewel, and translated his
Apologia from the Latin, so correctly that neither he nor
Archbishop Parker could suggest a single alteration. She also
translated a series of sermons on fate and free-will from the
Tuscan of Bernardo Ochino. This fact is the more curious, because
Ochino was one of that small and audacious band of Italian
reformers, anathematised alike by Wittenberg, by Geneva, by
Zurich, and by Rome, from which the Socinian sect deduces its

Lady Bacon was doubtless a lady of highly cultivated mind after
the fashion of her age. But we must not suffer ourselves to be
deluded into the belief that she and her sisters were more
accomplished women than many who are now living. On this subject
there is, we think, much misapprehension. We have often heard men
who wish, as almost all men of sense wish, that women should be
highly educated, speak with rapture of the English ladies of the
sixteenth century, and lament that they can find no modern damsel
resembling those fair pupils of Ascham and Aylmer who compared,
over their embroidery, the styles of Isocrates and Lysias, and
who, while the horns were sounding, and the dogs in full cry, sat
in the lonely oriel, with eyes riveted to that immortal page
which tells how meekly and bravely the first great martyr of
intellectual liberty took the cup from his weeping gaoler. But
surely these complaints have very little foundation. We would by
no means disparage the ladies of the sixteenth century or their
pursuits. But we conceive that those who extol them at the
expense of the women of our time forget one very obvious and very
important circumstance. In the time of Henry the Eighth and
Edward the Sixth, a person who did not read Greek and Latin could
read nothing, or next to nothing. The Italian was the only modern
language which possessed anything that could be called a
literature. All the valuable books then extant in all the
vernacular dialects of Europe would hardly have filled a single
shelf, England did not yet possess Shakspeare's plays and the
Fairy Queen, nor France Montaigne's Essays, nor Spain Don
Quixote. In looking round a well-furnished library, how many
English or French books can we find which were extant when Lady
Jane Grey and Queen Elizabeth received their education? Chaucer,
Gower, Froissart, Commines, Rabelais, nearly complete the list.
It was therefore absolutely necessary that a woman should be
uneducated or classically educated. Indeed, without a knowledge
of one of the ancient languages no person could then have any
clear notion of what was passing in the political, the literary,
or the religious world. The Latin was in the sixteenth century
all and more than all that the French was in the eighteenth. It
was the language of courts as well as of the schools. It was the
language of diplomacy; it was the language of theological and
political controversy. Being a fixed language, while the living
languages were in a state of fluctuation, and being universally
known to the learned and the polite, it was employed by almost
every writer who aspired to a wide and durable reputation. A
person who was ignorant of it was shut out from all acquaintance,
not merely with Cicero and Virgil, not merely with heavy
treatises on canon-law and school divinity, but with the most
interesting memoirs, state papers, and pamphlets of his own time,
nay even with the most admired poetry and the most popular squibs
which appeared on the fleeting topics of the day, with Buchanan's
complimentary verses, with Erasmus's dialogues, with Hutten's

This is no longer the case. All political and religious
controversy is now conducted in the modern languages. The ancient
tongues are used only in comments on the ancient writers. The
great productions of Athenian and Roman genius are indeed still
what they were. But though their positive value is unchanged,
their relative value, when compared with the whole mass of mental
wealth possessed by mankind, has been constantly falling. They
were the intellectual all of our ancestors. They are but a part
of our treasures. Over what tragedy could Lady Jane Grey have
wept, over what comedy could she have smiled, if the ancient
dramatists had not been in her library? A modern reader can make
shift without Oedipus and Medea, while he possesses Othello and
Hamlet. If he knows nothing of Pyrgopolynices and Thraso, he is
familiar with Bobadil, and Bessus, and Pistol, and Parolles. If
he cannot enjoy the delicious irony of Plato, he may find some
compensation in that of Pascal. If he is shut out from
Nephelococcygia, he may take refuge in Lilliput. We are guilty,
we hope, of no irreverence towards those great nations to which
the human race owes art, science, taste, civil and intellectual
freedom, when we say, that the stock bequeathed by them to us has
been so carefully improved that the accumulated interest now
exceeds the principal. We believe that the books which have been
written in the languages of western Europe, during the last two
hundred and fifty years,--translations from the ancient languages
of course included,--are of greater value than all the books
which at the beginning of that period were extant in the world.
With the modern languages of Europe English women are at least as
well acquainted as English men. When, therefore, we compare the
acquirements of Lady Jane Grey. with those of an accomplished
young woman of our own time, we have no hesitation in awarding
the superiority  to the latter. We hope that our readers will
pardon up this digression. It is long; but it can hardly be
called unseasonable, if it tends to convince them that they are
mistaken in thinking that the great-great-grandmothers of their
great-great-grandmothers were superior women to their sisters and
their wives.

Francis Bacon, the youngest son of Sir Nicholas, was born at York
House, his father's residence in the Strand, on the twenty-second
of January 1561. The health of Francis was very delicate; and to
this circumstance may be partly attributed that gravity of
carriage, and that love of sedentary pursuits which distinguished
him from other boys. Everybody knows how much sobriety of
deportment and his premature readiness of wit amused the Queen,
and how she used to call him her young Lord Keeper. We are told
that, while still a mere child, he stole away from his
playfellows to a vault in St. James's Fields, for the purpose of
investigating the cause of a singular echo which he had observed
there. It is certain that, at only twelve, he busied himself with
very ingenious speculations on the art of legerdemain; a subject
which, as Professor Dugald Stewart has most justly observed,
merits much more attention from philosophers than it has ever
received. These are trifles. But the eminence which Bacon
afterwards attained makes them interesting.

In the thirteenth year of his age he was entered at Trinity
College, Cambridge. That celebrated school of learning enjoyed
the peculiar favour of the Lord Treasurer and the Lord Keeper,
and acknowledged the advantages which it derived from their
patronage in a public letter which bears date just a month after
the admission of Francis Bacon. The master was Whitgift,
afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, a narrow minded, mean, and
tyrannical priest, who gained power by servility and adulation,
and employed it in persecuting both those who agreed with Calvin
about church-government, and those who differed from Calvin
touching the doctrine of Reprobation. He was now in a chrysalis
state, putting off the worm, and putting on the dragon-fly, a
kind of intermediate grub between sycophant and oppressor. He was
indemnifying himself for the court which he found it expedient to
pay to the Ministers by exercising much petty tyranny within his
own college. It would be unjust, however, to deny him the praise
of having rendered about this time one important service to
letters. He stood up manfully against those who wished to make
Trinity College a mere appendage to Westminster school; and by
this act, the only good act, as far as we remember, of his long
public life, he saved the noblest place of education in England
from the degrading fate of King's College and New College.

It has often been said that Bacon, while still at college,
planned that great intellectual revolution with which his name is
inseparably connected. The evidence on this subject, however, is
hardly sufficient to prove what is in itself so improbable as
that any definite scheme of that kind should have been so early
formed, even by so powerful and active a mind. But it is certain
that, after a residence of three years at Cambridge, Bacon
departed, carrying with him a profound contempt for the course of
study pursued there, a fixed conviction that the system of
academic education in England was radically vicious, a just scorn
for the trifles on which the followers of Aristotle had wasted
their powers, and no great reverence for Aristotle himself.

In his sixteenth year he visited Paris, and resided there for
some time, under the care of Sir Amias Paulet, Elizabeth's
Minister at the French Court, and one of the ablest and most
upright of the many valuable servants whom she employed. France
was at that time in a deplorable state of agitation. The
Huguenots and the Catholics were mustering all their force for
the fiercest and most protracted of their many struggles; while
the prince, whose duty it was to protect and to restrain both,
had by his vices and follies degraded himself so deeply that he
had no authority over either. Bacon, however, made a tour through
several provinces, and appears to have passed some time at
Poitiers. We have abundant proof that during his stay on the
Continent he did not neglect literary and scientific pursuits.
But his attention seems to have been chiefly directed to
statistics and diplomacy. It was at this time that he wrote those
Notes on the State of Europe which are printed in his works. He
studied the principles of the art of deciphering with great
interest, and invented one cipher so ingenious, that, many years
later, he thought it deserving of a place in the De Augmentis. In
February 1580, while engaged in these pursuits, he received
intelligence of the almost sudden death of his father, and
instantly returned to England.

His prospects were greatly overcast by this event. He was most
desirous to obtain a provision which might enable him to devote
himself to literature and politics. He applied to the
Government; and it seems strange that he should have applied in
vain. His wishes were moderate. His hereditary claims on the
administration were great. He had himself been favourably noticed
by the Queen. His uncle was Prime Minister. His own talents were
such as any Minister might have been eager to enlist in the
public service. But his solicitations were unsuccessful. The
truth is that the Cecils disliked him, and did all that they
could decently do to keep him down. It has never been alleged
that Bacon had done anything to merit this dislike; nor is it at
all probable that a man whose temper was naturally mild, whose
manners were courteous, who, through life, nursed his fortunes
with the utmost care, and who was fearful even to a fault of
offending the powerful, would have given any just cause of
displeasure to a kinsman who had the means of rendering him
essential service and of doing him irreparable injury. The real
explanation, we believe, is this. Robert Cecil, the Treasurer's
second son, was younger by a few months than Bacon. He had been
educated with the utmost care, had been initiated, while still a
boy, in the mysteries of diplomacy and court-intrigue, and was
just at this time about to be produced on the stage of public
life. The wish nearest to Burleigh's heart was that his own
greatness might descend to this favourite child. But even
Burleigh's fatherly partiality could hardly prevent him from
perceiving that Robert, with all his abilities and acquirements,
was no match for his cousin Francis. This seems to us the only
rational explanation of the Treasurer's conduct. Mr. Montagu is
more charitable. He supposes that Burleigh was influenced merely
by affection for his nephew, and was "little disposed to
encourage him to rely on others rather than on himself, and to
venture on the quicksands of politics, instead of the certain
profession of the law." If such were Burleigh's feelings, it
seems strange that he should have suffered his son to venture
on those quicksands from which he so carefully preserved his
nephew. But the truth is that, if Burleigh had been so disposed,
he might easily have secured to Bacon a comfortable provision
which should have been exposed to no risk. And it is certain
that he showed as little disposition to enable his nephew to
live by a profession as to enable him to live without a

That Bacon himself attributed the conduct of his relatives to
jealousy of his superior talents, we have not the smallest doubt.
In a letter written many years later to Villiers, he expresses
himself thus: "Countenance, encourage, and advance able men in
all kinds, degrees, and professions. For in the time of the
Cecils, the father and the son, able men were by design and of
purpose suppressed."

Whatever Burleigh's motives might be, his purpose was
unalterable. The supplications which Francis addressed to his
uncle and aunt were earnest, humble, and almost servile. He was
the most promising and accomplished young man of his time. His
father had been the brother-in-law, the most useful colleague,
the nearest friend of the Minister. But all this availed poor
Francis nothing. He was forced, much against his will, to betake
himself to the study of the law. He was admitted at Gray's Inn;
and during some years, he laboured there in obscurity.

What the extent of his legal attainments may have been it is
difficult to say. It was not hard for a man of his powers to
acquire that very moderate portion of technical knowledge which,
when joined to quickness, tact, wit, ingenuity, eloquence, and
knowledge of the world, is sufficient to raise an advocate to the
highest professional eminence. The general opinion appears to
have been that which was on one occasion expressed by Elizabeth.
"Bacon," said she, "hath a great wit and much learning; but in
law showeth to the utmost of his knowledge, and is not deep." The
Cecils, we suspect, did their best to spread this opinion by
whispers and insinuations. Coke openly proclaimed it with that
rancorous insolence which was habitual to him. No reports are
more readily believed than those which disparage genius, and
soothe the envy of conscious mediocrity. It must have been
inexpressibly consoling to a stupid sergeant, the forerunner of
him who, a hundred and fifty years later, "shook his head at
Murray as a wit," to know that the most profound thinker and the
most accomplished orator of the age was very imperfectly
acquainted with the law touching bastard eigne and mulier puisne,
and confounded the right of free fishery with that of common

It is certain that no man in that age, or indeed during the
century and a half which followed, was better acquainted than
Bacon with the philosophy of law. His technical knowledge was
quite sufficient, with the help of his admirable talents and of
his insinuating address, to procure clients. He rose very rapidly
into business, and soon entertained hopes of being called within
the bar. He applied to Lord Burleigh for that purpose, but
received a testy refusal. Of the grounds of that refusal we can,
in some measure, judge by Bacon's answer, which is still extant.
It seems that the old Lord, whose temper, age and gout had by no
means altered for the better, and who loved to mark his dislike
of the showy, quick-witted young men of the rising generation,
took this opportunity to read Francis a very sharp lecture on his
vanity and want of respect for his betters. Francis returned a
most submissive reply, thanked the Treasurer for the admonition,
and promised to profit by it. Strangers meanwhile were less
unjust to the young barrister than his nearest kinsman had been.
In his twenty-sixth year he became a bencher of his Inn; and two
years later he was appointed Lent reader. At length, in 1590, he
obtained for the first time some show of favour from the Court.
He was sworn in Queen's Counsel extraordinary.    But this mark
honour was not accompanied by any pecuniary emolument.

He continued, therefore, to solicit his powerful relatives for
some provision which might enable him to live without drudging at
his profession. He bore, with a patience and serenity which, we
fear, bordered on meanness, the morose humours of his uncle, and
the sneering reflections which his cousin cast on speculative
men, lost in philosophical dreams, and too wise to be capable of
transacting public business. At length the Cecils were generous
enough to procure for him the reversion of the Registrarship of
the Star-Chamber. This was a lucrative place; but, as many years
elapsed before it fell in, he was still under the necessity of
labouring for his daily bread.

In the Parliament which was called in 1593 he sat as member for
the county of Middlesex, and soon attained eminence as a debater.
It is easy to perceive from the scanty remains of his oratory
that the same compactness of expression and richness of fancy
which appear in his writings characterised his speeches; and that
his extensive acquaintance with literature and history enabled
him to entertain his audience with a vast variety of
illustrations and allusions which were generally happy and
apposite, but which were probably not least pleasing to the taste
of that age when they were such as would now be thought childish
or pedantic. It is evident also that he was, as indeed might have
been expected, perfectly free from those faults which are
generally found in an advocate who, after having risen to
eminence at the bar, enters the House of Commons; that it was his
habit to deal with every great question, not in small detached
portions, but as a whole; that he refined little, and that his
reasonings were those of a capacious rather than a subtle mind.
Ben Jonson, a most unexceptionable judge, has described Bacon's
eloquence in words, which, though often quoted, will bear to be
quoted again. "There happened in my time one noble speaker who
was full of gravity in his speaking. His language, where he could
spare or pass by a jest, was nobly censorious. No man ever spoke
more neatly, more pressly, more weightily, or suffered less
emptiness, less idleness, in what he uttered. No member of his
speech but consisted of his own graces. His hearers could not
cough or look aside from him without loss. He commanded where he
spoke, and had his judges angry and pleased at his devotion. No
man had their affections more in his power. The fear of every man
that heard him was lest he should make an end." From the mention
which is made of judges, it would seem that Jonson had heard
Bacon only at the Bar. Indeed we imagine that the House of
Commons was then almost inaccessible to strangers. It is not
probable that a man of Bacon's nice observation would speak in
Parliament exactly as he spoke in the Court of Queen's Bench. But
the graces of manner and language must, to a great extent, have
been common between the Queen's Counsel and the Knight of the

Bacon tried to play a very difficult game in politics. He wished
to be at once a favourite at Court and popular with the
multitude. If any man could have succeeded in this attempt, a man
of talents so rare, of judgment so prematurely ripe, of temper so
calm, and of manners so plausible, might have been expected to
succeed. Nor indeed did he wholly fail. Once, however, he
indulged in a burst of patriotism which cost him a long and
bitter remorse, and which he never ventured to repeat. The Court
asked for large subsidies and for speedy payment. The remains of
Bacon's speech breathe all the spirit of the Long Parliament.
"The gentlemen," said he, "must sell their plate, and the farmers
their brass pots, ere this will be paid; and for us, we are here
to search the wounds of the realm, and not to skim them over. The
dangers are these. First, we shall breed discontent and endanger
her Majesty's safety, which must consist more in the love of the
people than their wealth. Secondly, this being granted in this
sort, other princes hereafter will look for the like; so that we
shall put an evil precedent on ourselves and our posterity; and
in histories, it is to be observed, of all nations the English
are not to be subject, base, or taxable." The Queen and her
Ministers resented this outbreak of public spirit in the highest
manner. Indeed, many an honest member of the House of Commons
had, for a much smaller matter, been sent to the Tower by the
proud and hot-blooded Tudors. The young patriot condescended to
make the most abject apologies. He adjured the Lord Treasurer to
show some favour to his poor servant and ally. He bemoaned
himself to the Lord Keeper, in a letter which may keep in
countenance the most unmanly of the epistles which Cicero wrote
during his banishment. The lesson was not thrown away. Bacon
never offended in the same manner again.

He was now satisfied that he had little to hope from the
patronage of those powerful kinsmen whom he had solicited during
twelve years with such meek pertinacity; and he began to look
towards a different quarter. Among the courtiers of Elizabeth had
lately appeared a new favourite, young, noble, wealthy,
accomplished, eloquent brave, generous, aspiring; a favourite who
had obtained from the grey-headed Queen such marks of regard as
she had scarce vouchsafed to Leicester in the season of the
passions; who was at once the ornament of the palace and the idol
of the city. who was the common patron of men of letters and of
men of the sword; who was the common refuge of the persecuted
Catholic and of the persecuted Puritan. The calm prudence which
had enabled Burleigh to shape his course through so many dangers,
and the vast experience which he had acquired in dealing with two
generations of colleagues and rivals, seemed scarcely sufficient
to support him in this new competition; and Robert Cecil sickened
with fear and envy as he contemplated the rising fame and
influence of Essex.

The history of the factions which, towards the close of the reign
of Elizabeth, divided her court and her council, though pregnant
with instruction, is by no means interesting or pleasing. Both
parties employed the means which are familiar to unscrupulous
statesmen; and neither had, or even pretended to have, any
important end in view. The public mind was then reposing from one
great effort, and collecting strength for another. That impetuous
and appalling rush with which the human intellect had moved
forward in the career of truth and liberty, during the fifty
years which followed the separation of Luther from the communion
of the Church of Rome, was now over. The boundary between
Protestantism and Popery had been fixed very nearly where it
still remains. England, Scotland, the Northern kingdoms were on
one side; Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Italy, on the other. The line
of demarcation ran, as it still runs, through the midst of the
Netherlands, of Germany, and of Switzerland, dividing province
from province, electorate from electorate, and canton from
canton. France might be considered as a debatable land, in which
the contest was still undecided. Since that time, the two
religions have done little more than maintain their ground. A few
occasional incursions have been made. But the general frontier
remains the same. During two hundred and fifty years no great
society has risen up like one man, and emancipated itself by one
mighty effort from the superstition of ages. This spectacle was
common in the sixteenth century. Why has it ceased to be so? Why
has so violent a movement been followed by so long a repose? The
doctrines of the Reformers are not less agreeable to reason or to
revelation now than formerly. The public mind is assuredly not
less enlightened now than formerly. Why is it that Protestantism,
after carrying everything before it in a time of comparatively
little knowledge and little freedom, should make no perceptible
progress in a reasoning and tolerant age; that the Luthers, the
Calvins, the Knoxes, the Zwingles, should have left no
successors; that during two centuries and a half fewer converts
should have been brought over from the Church of Rome than at the
time of the Reformation were sometimes gained in a year? This has
always appeared to us one of the most curious and interesting
problems in history. On some future occasion we may perhaps
attempt to solve it. At present it is enough to say that, at the
close of Elizabeth's reign, the Protestant party, to borrow the
language of the Apocalypse, had left its first love and had
ceased to do its first works.

The great struggle of the sixteenth century was over. The great
struggle of the seventeenth century had not commenced. The
confessors of Mary's reign were dead. The members of the Long
Parliament were still in their cradles. The Papists had been
deprived of all power in the State. The Puritans had not yet
attained any formidable extent of power. True it is that a
student, well acquainted with the history of the next generation,
can easily discern in the proceedings of the last Parliaments of
Elizabeth the germ of great and ever memorable events. But to the
eye of a contemporary nothing of this appeared. The two sections
of ambitious men who were struggling for power differed from each
other on no important public question. Both belonged to the
Established Church. Both professed boundless loyalty to the
Queen. Both approved the war with Spain. There is not, as far as
we are aware, any reason to believe that they entertained
different views concerning the succession to the Crown. Certainly
neither faction had any great measure of reform in view. Neither
attempted to redress any public grievance. The most odious and
pernicious grievance under which the nation then suffered was a
source of profit to both, and was defended by both with equal
zeal. Raleigh held a monopoly of cards, Essex a monopoly of sweet
wines. In fact, the only ground of quarrel between the parties
was that they could not agree as to their respective shares of
power and patronage.

Nothing in the political conduct of Essex entitles him to esteem;
and the pity with which we regard his early and terrible end is
diminished by the consideration, that he put to hazard the lives
and fortunes of his most attached friends, and endeavoured to
throw the whole country into confusion, for objects purely
personal. Still, it is impossible not to be deeply interested for
a man so brave, high-spirited, and generous; for a man who, while
he conducted himself towards his sovereign with a boldness such
as was then found in no other subject, conducted himself towards
his dependants with a delicacy such as has rarely been found in
any other patron. Unlike the vulgar herd of benefactors, he
desired to inspire, not gratitude, but affection. He tried to
make those whom he befriended feel towards him as towards an
equal. His mind, ardent, susceptible, naturally disposed to
admiration of all that is great and beautiful, was fascinated by
the genius and the accomplishments of Bacon. A close friendship
was soon formed between them, a friendship destined to have a
dark, a mournful, a shameful end.

In 1594 the office of Attorney-General became vacant, and Bacon
hoped to obtain it. Essex made his friend's cause his own, sued,
expostulated, promised, threatened, but all in vain. It is
probable that the dislike felt by the Cecils for Bacon had been
increased by the connection which he had lately formed with the
Earl. Robert was then on the point of being made Secretary of
State. He happened one day to be in the same coach with Essex,
and a remarkable conversation took place between them. "My Lord,"
said Sir Robert, "the Queen has determined to appoint an
Attorney-General without more delay. I pray your Lordship to let
me know whom you will favour." "I wonder at your question,"
replied the Earl. "You cannot but know that resolutely, against
all the world, I stand for your cousin, Francis Bacon."
"Good Lord!" cried Cecil, unable to bridle his temper,
"I wonder your Lordship should spend your strength on so
unlikely a matter. Can you name one precedent of so raw a
youth promoted to so great a place?" This objection came with
a singularly bad grace from a man who, though younger than Bacon,
was in daily expectation of being made Secretary of State. The
was too obvious to be missed by Essex, who seldom forbore to
speak his mind. "I have made no search," said he, "for precedents
of young men who have filled the office of Attorney-General.
But I could name to you, Sir Robert, a man younger than Francis,
less learned, and equally inexperienced, who is suing and
striving with all his might for an office of far greater
weight." Sir Robert had nothing to say but that he thought his
own abilities equal to the place which he hoped to obtain, and
that his father's long services deserved such a mark of gratitude
from the Queen; as if his abilities were comparable to his
cousin's, or as if Sir Nicholas Bacon had done no service to the
State. Cecil then hinted that, if Bacon would be satisfied with
the Solicitorship, that might be of easier digestion to the
Queen. "Digest me no digestions," said the generous and ardent
Earl. "The Attorneyship for Francis is that I must have; and in
that I will spend all my power, might, authority, and amity; and
with tooth and nail procure the same for him against whomsoever;
and whosoever getteth this office out of my hands for any other,
before he have it, it shall cost him the coming by. And this be
you assured of, Sir Robert, for now I fully declare myself; and
for my own part, Sir Robert, I think strange both of my Lord
Treasurer and you, that can have the mind to seek the preference
of a stranger before so near a kinsman; for if you weigh in a
balance the parts every way of his competitor and him, only
excepting five poor years of admitting to a house of court before
Francis, you shall find in all other respects whatsoever no
comparison between them."

When the office of Attorney-General was filled up, the Earl
pressed the Queen to make Bacon Solicitor-General, and, on this
occasion, the old Lord Treasurer professed himself not
unfavourable to his nephew's pretensions. But after a contest
which lasted more than a year and a half, and in which Essex, to
use his own words, "spent all his power, might, authority, and
amity," the place was given to another. Essex felt this
disappointment keenly, but found consolation in the most
munificent and delicate liberality. He presented Bacon with an
estate worth near two thousand pounds, situated at Twickenham;
and this, as Bacon owned many years after, "with so kind and
noble circumstances as the manner was worth more than the

It was soon after these events that Bacon first appeared before
the public as a writer. Early in 1597 he published a small volume
of Essays, which was afterwards enlarged by successive additions
to many times its original bulk. This little work was, as it well
deserved to be, exceedingly popular. It was reprinted in a few
months; it was translated into Latin, French, and Italian; and it
seems to have at once established the literary reputation of its
author. But, though Bacon's reputation rose, his fortunes were
still depressed. He was in great pecuniary difficulties; and, on
one occasion, was arrested in the street at the suit of a
goldsmith for a debt of three hundred pounds, and was carried to
a spunging-house in Coleman Street.

The kindness of Essex was in the meantime indefatigable. In 1596
he sailed on his memorable expedition to the coast of Spain. At
the very moment of his embarkation, he wrote to several of his
friends, commending, to them, during his own absence, the
interests of Bacon. He returned, after performing the most
brilliant military exploit that was achieved on the Continent by
English arms during the long interval which elapsed between the
battle of Agincourt and that of Blenheim. His valour, his
talents, his humane and generous disposition, had made him the
idol of his countrymen, and had extorted praise from the enemies
whom he had conquered. [See Cervantes's Novela de la Espanola
Inglesa.] He had always been proud and headstrong; and his
splendid success seems to have rendered his faults more offensive
than ever. But to his friend Francis he was still the same. Bacon
had some thoughts of making his fortune by marriage, and had
begun to pay court to a widow of the name of Hatton. The
eccentric manners and violent temper of this woman made her a
disgrace and a torment to her connections. But Bacon was not
aware of her faults, or was disposed to overlook them for the
sake of her ample fortune. Essex pleaded his friend's cause with
his usual ardour. The letters which the Earl addressed to Lady
Hatton and to her mother are still extant, and are highly
honourable to him. "If," he wrote, "she were my sister or my
daughter, I protest I would as confidently resolve to further it
as I now persuade you"; and again, "If my faith be anything, I
protest, if I had one as near me as  she is to you, I had rather
match her with him, than with men of far greater titles." The
suit, happily for Bacon, was unsuccessful. The lady indeed was
kind to him in more ways than one. She rejected him; and she
accepted his enemy. She married that narrow-minded, bad-hearted
pedant, Sir Edward Coke, and did her best to make him as
miserable as he deserved to be.

The fortunes of Essex had now reached their height, and began to
decline. He possessed indeed all the qualities which raise men to
greatness rapidly. But he had neither the virtues nor the vices
which enable men to retain greatness long. His frankness, his
keen sensibility to insult and injustice, were by no means
agreeable to a sovereign naturally impatient of opposition, and
accustomed, during forty years, to the most extravagant flattery
and the most abject submission. The daring and contemptuous
manner in which he bade defiance to his enemies excited their
deadly hatred. His administration in Ireland was unfortunate, and
in many respects highly blamable. Though his brilliant courage
and his impetuous activity fitted him admirably for such
enterprises as that of Cadiz, he did not possess the caution,
patience, and resolution necessary for the conduct of a
protracted war, in which difficulties were to be gradually
surmounted, in which much discomfort was to be endured, and in
which few splendid exploits could be achieved. For the civil
duties of his high place he was still less qualified. Though
eloquent and accomplished, he was in no sense a statesman. The
multitude indeed still continued to regard even his faults with
fondness. But the Court had ceased to give him credit, even for
the merit which he really possessed. The person on whom, during
the decline of his influence, he chiefly depended, to whom he
confided his perplexities, whose advice he solicited, whose
intercession he employed, was his friend Bacon. The lamentable
truth must be told. This friend, so loved, so trusted, bore a
principal part in ruining the Earl's fortunes, in shedding his
blood, and in blackening his memory.

But let us be just to Bacon. We believe that, to the last, he had
no wish to injure Essex. Nay, we believe that he sincerely
exerted himself to serve Essex, as long as he thought that he
could serve Essex without injuring himself. The advice which he
gave to his noble benefactor was generally most judicious. He
did all in his power to dissuade the Earl from accepting the
Government of Ireland. "For," says he, "I did as plainly see, his
overthrow chained as it were by destiny to that journey, as it is
possible for a man to ground a judgment upon future contingents."
The prediction was accomplished. Essex returned in disgrace.
Bacon attempted to mediate between his friend and the Queen; and,
we believe, honestly employed all his address for that purpose.
But the task which he had undertaken was too difficult, delicate,
and perilous, even for so wary and dexterous an agent. He had to
manage two spirits equally proud, resentful) and ungovernable. At
Essex House, he had to calm the rage of a young hero incensed by
multiplied wrongs and humiliations) and then to pass to Whitehall
for the purpose of soothing the peevishness of a sovereign, whose
temper, never very gentle, had been rendered morbidly irritable
by age, by declining health, and by the long habit of listening
to flattery and exacting implicit obedience. It is hard to serve
two masters. Situated as Bacon was, it was scarcely possible for
him to shape his course so as not to give one or both of his
employers reason to complain. For a time he acted as fairly as,
in circumstances so embarrassing, could reasonably be expected.
At length he found that, while he was trying to prop the fortunes
of another, he was in danger of shaking his own. He had
disobliged both the parties whom he wished to reconcile. Essex
thought him wanting in zeal as a friend: Elizabeth thought him
wanting in duty as a subject. The Earl looked on him as a spy of
the Queen; the Queen as a creature of the Earl. The
reconciliation which he had laboured to effect appeared utterly
hopeless. A thousand signs, legible to eyes far less keen than
his, announced that the fall of his patron was at hand. He shaped
his course accordingly. When Essex was brought before the council
to answer for his conduct in Ireland, Bacon, after a faint
attempt to excuse himself from taking part against his friend,
submitted himself to the Queen's pleasure, and appeared at the
bar in support of the charges. But a darker scene was behind. The
unhappy young nobleman, made reckless by despair ventured on a
rash and criminal enterprise, which rendered him liable to the
highest penalties of the law. What course was Bacon to take? This
was one of those conjunctures which show what men are. To a high-
minded man, wealth, power, court-favour, even personal safety,
would have appeared of no account, when opposed to friendship,
gratitude, and honour. Such a man would have stood by the side of
Essex at the trial, would have "spent all his power, might,
authority, and amity" in soliciting a mitigation of the sentence,
would have been a daily visitor at the cell, would have received
the last injunctions and the last embrace on the scaffold, would
have employed all the powers of his intellect to guard from
insult the fame of his generous though erring friend. An ordinary
man would neither have incurred the danger of succouring Essex,
nor the disgrace of assailing him. Bacon did not even preserve
neutrality. He appeared as counsel for the prosecution. In that
situation, he did not confine himself to what would have been
amply sufficient to procure a verdict. He employed all his wit,
his rhetoric, and his learning, not to ensure a conviction,--for
the circumstances were such that a conviction was inevitable,--
but to deprive the unhappy prisoner of all those excuses which,
though legally of no value, yet tended to diminish the moral
guilt of the crime, and which, therefore, though they could not
justify the peers in pronouncing an acquittal, might incline the
Queen to grant a pardon. The Earl urged as a palliation of his
frantic acts that he was surrounded by powerful and inveterate
enemies, that they had ruined his fortunes, that they sought his
life, and that their persecutions had driven him to despair. This
was true; and Bacon well knew it to be true. But he affected to
treat it as an idle pretence. He compared Essex to Pisistratus,
who, by pretending to be in imminent danger of assassination, and
by exhibiting self-inflicted wounds, succeeded in establishing
tyranny at Athens. This was too much for the prisoner to bear. He
interrupted his ungrateful friend by calling on him to quit the
part of an advocate, to come forward as a witness, and to tell
the Lords whether, in old times, he, Francis Bacon, had not,
under his own hand, repeatedly asserted the truth of what he now
represented as idle pretexts. It is painful to go on with this
lamentable story. Bacon returned a shuffling answer to the Earl's
question, and, as if the allusion to Pisistratus were not
sufficiently offensive, made another allusion still more
unjustifiable. He compared Essex to Henry Duke of Guise, and the
rash attempt in the city to the day of the barricades at Paris.
Why Bacon had recourse to such a topic it is difficult to say, It
was quite unnecessary for the purpose of obtaining a verdict. It
was certain to produce a strong impression on the mind of the
haughty and jealous princess on whose pleasure the Earl's fate
depended. The faintest allusion to the degrading tutelage in
which the last Valois had been held by the House of Lorraine was
sufficient to harden her heart against a man who in rank, in
military reputation, in popularity among the citizens of the
capital, bore some resemblance to the Captain of the League.

Essex was convicted. Bacon made no effort to save him, though the
Queen's feelings were such that he might have pleaded his
benefactor's cause, possibly with success, certainly without any
serious danger to himself. The unhappy nobleman was executed. His
fate excited strong, perhaps unreasonable feelings of compassion
and indignation. The Queen was received by the citizens of London
with gloomy looks and faint acclamations. She thought it
expedient to publish a vindication of her late proceedings. The
faithless friend who had assisted in taking the Earl's life was
now employed to murder the Earl's fame. The Queen had seen some
of Bacon's writings, and had been pleased with them. He was
accordingly selected to write A Declaration of the Practices and
Treasons attempted and committed by Robert Earl of Essex, which
was printed by authority. In the succeeding reign, Bacon had not
a word to say in defence of this performance, a performance
abounding in expressions which no generous enemy would have
employed respecting a man who had so dearly expiated his
offences. His only excuse was, that he wrote it by command, that
he considered himself as a mere secretary, that he had particular
instructions as to the way in which he was to treat every part of
the subject, and that, in fact, he had furnished only the
arrangement and the style.

We regret to say that the whole conduct of Bacon through the
course of these transactions appears to Mr. Montagu not merely
excusable, but deserving of high admiration. The integrity and
benevolence of this gentleman are so well known that our readers
will probably be at a loss to conceive by what steps he can have
arrived at so extraordinary a conclusion: and we are half afraid
that they will suspect us of practising some artifice upon them
when we report the principal arguments which he employs.

In order to get rid of the charge of ingratitude, Mr. Montagu
attempts to show that Bacon lay under greater obligations to the
Queen than to Essex. What these obligations were it is not easy
discover. The situation of Queen's Counsel, and a remote
reversion, were surely favours very far below Bacon's personal
and hereditary claims. They were favours which had not cost the
Queen a groat, nor had they put a groat into Bacon's purse. It
was necessary to rest Elizabeth's claims to gratitude on some
other ground; and this Mr. Montagu felt. "What perhaps was her
greatest kindness," says he, "instead of having hastily advanced
Bacon, she had, with a continuance of her friendship, made him
bear the yoke in his youth. Such were his obligations to
Elizabeth." Such indeed they were.

Being the son of one of her oldest and most faithful Ministers,
being himself the ablest and most accomplished young man of his
time, he had been condemned by her to drudgery, to obscurity, to
poverty. She had depreciated his acquirements. She had checked
him in the most imperious manner, when in Parliament he ventured
to act an independent part. She had refused to him the
professional advancement to which he had a just claim. To her it
was owing that, while younger men, not superior to him in
extraction, and far inferior to him in every kind of personal
merit, were filling the highest offices of the State, adding
manor to manor, rearing palace after palace, he was lying at a
spunging-house for a debt of three hundred pounds. Assuredly if
Bacon owed gratitude to Elizabeth, he owed none to Essex. If the
Queen really was his best friend, the Earl was his worst enemy.
We wonder that Mr. Montagu did not press this argument a little
further. He might have maintained that Bacon was excusable in
revenging himself on a man who had attempted to rescue his youth
from the salutary yoke imposed on it by the Queen, who had wished
to advance him hastily, who, not content with attempting to
inflict the Attorney-Generalship upon him, had been so cruel as
to present him with a landed estate.

Again, we can hardly think Mr. Montagu serious when he tells us
that Bacon was bound for the sake of the public not to destroy
his own hopes of advancement, and that he took part against Essex
from a wish to obtain power which might enable him to be useful
to his country. We really do not know how to refute such
arguments except by stating them. Nothing is impossible which
does not involve a contradiction. It is barely possible that
Bacon's motives for acting as he did on this occasion may have
been gratitude to the Queen for keeping him poor, and a desire to
benefit his fellow-creatures in some high situation. And there
is a possibility that Bonner may have been a good Protestant who,
being convinced that the blood of martyrs is the seed of the
Church, heroically went through all the drudgery and infamy of
persecution, in order that he might inspire the English people
with an intense and lasting hatred of Popery. There is a
possibility that Jeffreys may have been an ardent lover of
liberty, and that he may have beheaded Algernon Sydney, and
burned Elizabeth Gaunt, only in order to produce a reaction which
might lead to the limitation of the prerogative. There is a
possibility that Thurtell may have killed Weare only in order to
give the youth of England an impressive warning against gaming
and bad company. There is a possibility that Fauntleroy may have
forged powers of attorney, only in order that his fate might turn
the attention of the public to the defects of the penal law.
These things, we say, are possible. But they are so extravagantly
improbable that a man who should act on such suppositions would
be fit only for Saint Luke's. And we do not see why suppositions
on which no rational man would act in ordinary life should be
admitted into history.

Mr. Montagu's notion that Bacon desired power only in order to do
good to mankind appears somewhat strange to us, when we consider
how Bacon afterwards used power, and how he lost it. Surely the
service which he rendered to mankind by taking Lady Wharton's
broad pieces and Sir John Kennedy's cabinet was not of such vast
importance as to sanctify all the means which might conduce to
that end. If the case were fairly stated, it would, we much fear,
stand thus: Bacon was a servile advocate, that he might be a
corrupt judge.

Mr. Montagu maintains that none but the ignorant and unreflecting
can think Bacon censurable for anything that he did as counsel
for the Crown, and that no advocate can justifiably use any
discretion as to the party for whom he appears. We will not at
present inquire whether the doctrine which is held on this
subject by English lawyers be or be not agreeable to reason and
morality; whether it be right that a man should, with a wig on
his head, and a band round his neck, do for a guinea what,
without those appendages, he would think it wicked and infamous
to do for an empire; whether it be right that, not merely
believing but knowing a statement to be true, he should do all
that can be done by sophistry, by rhetoric, by solemn
asseveration, by indignant exclamation, by gesture, by play of
features, by terrifying one honest witness, by perplexing
another, to cause a jury to think that statement false. It is not
necessary on the present occasion to decide these questions. The
professional rules, be they good or bad, are rules to which many
wise and virtuous men have conformed, and are daily conforming.
If, therefore, Bacon did no more than these rules required of
him, we shall readily admit that he was blameless, or, at least,
excusable. But we conceive that his conduct was not justifiable
according to any professional rules that now exist, or that ever
existed in England. It has always been held that, in criminal
cases in which the prisoner was denied the help of counsel, and
above all, in capital cases, advocates were both entitled and
bound to exercise a discretion. It is true that after the
Revolution, when the Parliament began to make inquisition for the
innocent blood which had been shed by the last Stuarts, a feeble
attempt was made to defend the lawyers who had been accomplices
in the murder of Sir Thomas Armstrong, on the ground that they
had only acted professionally. The wretched sophism was silenced
by the execrations of the House of Commons. "Things will never be
well done," said Mr. Foley, "till some of that profession be made
examples." "We have a new sort of monsters in the world," said
the younger Hampden, "haranguing a man to death. These I call
bloodhounds. Sawyer is very criminal and guilty of this murder."
"I speak to discharge my conscience," said Mr. Garroway. "I will
not have the blood of this man at my door. Sawyer demanded
judgment against him and execution. I believe him guilty of the
death of this man. Do what you will with him." "If the profession
of the law," said the elder Hampden, "gives a man authority to
murder at this rate, it is the interest of all men to rise and
exterminate that profession." Nor was this language held only by
unlearned country gentlemen. Sir William Williams, one of the
ablest and most unscrupulous lawyers of the age, took the same
view of the case. He had not hesitated, he said, to take part in
the prosecution of the Bishops, because they were allowed
counsel. But he maintained that, where the prisoner was not
allowed counsel the Counsel for the Crown was bound to exercise a
discretion, and that every lawyer who neglected this distinction
was a betrayer of the law. But it is unnecessary to cite
authority. It is known to everybody who has ever looked into a
court of quarter-sessions that lawyers do exercise a discretion
in criminal cases; and it is plain to every man of common sense
that, if they did not exercise such a discretion, they would be a
more hateful body of men than those bravoes who used to hire out
their stilettoes in Italy.

Bacon appeared against a man who was indeed guilty of a great
offence, but who had been his benefactor and friend. He did more
than this. Nay, he did more than a person who had never seen
Essex would have been justified in doing. He employed all the art
of an advocate in order to make the prisoner's conduct appear
more inexcusable and more dangerous to the State than it really
had been. All that professional duty could, in any case, have
required of him would have been to conduct the cause so as to
ensure a conviction. But from the nature of the circumstances
there could not be the smallest doubt that the Earl would be
found guilty. The character of the crime was unequivocal. It had
been committed recently, in broad daylight, in the streets of the
capital, in the presence of thousands. If ever there was an
occasion on which an advocate had no temptation to resort to
extraneous topics, for the purpose of blinding the judgment and
inflaming the passions of a tribunal, this was that occasion.

Why then resort to arguments which, while they could add nothing
to the strength of the case, considered in a legal point of view,
tended to aggravate the moral guilt of the fatal enterprise, and
to excite fear and resentment in that quarter from which alone
the Earl could now expect mercy? Why remind the audience of the
arts of the ancient tyrants? Why deny what everybody knew to be
the truth, that: a powerful faction at Court had long sought to
effect the ruin of the prisoner? Why above all, institute a
parallel between the unhappy culprit and the most wicked and most
successful rebel of the age? Was it absolutely impossible to do
all that professional duty required without reminding a jealous
sovereign of the League, of the barricades, and of all the
humiliations which a too powerful subject had heaped on Henry the

But if we admit the plea which Mr. Montagu urges in defence of
what Bacon did as an advocate, what shall we say of the
Declaration of the Treasons of Robert, Earl of Essex? Here at
least there was no pretence of professional obligation. Even
those who may think it the duty of a lawyer to hang, draw, and
quarter his benefactors, for a proper consideration, will hardly
say that it is his duty to write abusive pamphlets against them,
after they are in their graves. Bacon excused himself by saying
that he was not answerable for the matter of the book, and that
he furnished only the language. But why did he endow such
purposes with words? Could no hack writer, without virtue or
shame, be found to exaggerate the errors, already so dearly
expiated, of a gentle and noble spirit? Every age produces those
links between the man and the baboon. Every age is fertile of
Oldmixons, of Kenricks, and of Antony Pasquins. But was it for
Bacon so to prostitute his intellect? Could he not feel that,
while he rounded and pointed some period dictated by the envy of
Cecil, or gave a plausible form to some slander invented by the
dastardly malignity of Cobham; he was not sinning merely against
his friend's honour and his own? Could he not feel that letters,
eloquence, philosophy, were all degraded in his degradation?

The real explanation of all this is perfectly obvious; and
nothing but a partiality amounting to a ruling passion could
cause anybody to miss it. The moral qualities of Bacon were not
of a high order. We do not say that he was a bad man. He was not
inhuman or tyrannical. He bore with meekness his high civil
honours, and the far higher honours gained by his intellect. He
was very seldom, if ever, provoked into treating any person with
malignity and insolence. No man more readily held up the left
cheek to those who had smitten the right. No man was more expert
at the soft answer which turneth away wrath. He was never
charged, by any accuser entitled to the smallest credit, with
licentious habits. His even temper, his flowing courtesy, the
general respectability of his demeanour, made a favourable
impression on those who saw him in situations which do not
severely try the principles. His faults were--we write it with
pain--coldness of heart, and meanness of spirit. He seems to have
been incapable of feeling strong affection, of facing great
dangers, of making great sacrifices. His desires were set on
things below wealth, precedence, titles, patronage, the mace, the
seals, the coronet, large houses, fair gardens, rich manors,
massy services of plate, gay hangings, curious cabinets, had as
great attractions for him as for any of the courtiers who dropped
on their knees in the dirt when Elizabeth passed by, and then
hastened home to write to the King of Scots that her Grace seemed
to be breaking fast. For these objects he had stooped to
everything and endured everything. For these he had sued in the
humblest manner, and, when unjustly and ungraciously repulsed,
had thanked those who had repulsed him, and had begun to sue
again. For these objects, as soon as he found that the smallest
show of independence in Parliament was offensive to the Queen, he
had abased himself to the dust before her, and implored
forgiveness in terms better suited to a convicted thief than to a
knight of the shire. For these he joined, and for these he
forsook, Lord Essex. He continued to plead his patron's cause
with the Queen as long as he thought that by pleading that cause
he might serve himself. Nay, he went further; for his feelings,
though not warm, were kind; he pleaded that cause as long as he
thought that he could plead it without injury to himself. But
when it became evident that Essex was going headlong to his ruin,
Bacon began to tremble for his own fortunes. What he had to fear
would not indeed have been very alarming to a man of lofty
character. It was not death. It was not imprisonment. It was the
loss of Court favour. It was the being left behind by others in
the career of ambition. It was the having leisure to finish the
Instauratio Magna. The Queen looked coldly on him. The courtiers
began to consider him as a marked man. He determined to change
his line of conduct, and to proceed in a new course with so much
vigour as to make up for lost time. When once he had determined
to act against his friend, knowing himself to be suspected, he
acted with more zeal than would have been necessary or
justifiable if he had been employed against a stranger. He
exerted his professional talents to shed the Earl's blood, and
his literary talents to blacken the Earl's memory.

It is certain that his conduct excited at the time great and
general disapprobation. While Elizabeth lived, indeed, this
disapprobation, though deeply felt, was not loudly expressed. But
a great change was at hand. The health of the Queen had long been
decaying; and the operation of age and disease was now assisted
by acute mental suffering. The pitiable melancholy of her last
days has generally been ascribed to her fond regret for Essex.
But we are disposed to attribute her dejection partly to physical
causes, and partly to the conduct of her courtiers and ministers.
They did all in their power to conceal from her the intrigues
which they were carrying on at the Court of Scotland. But her
keen sagacity was not to be so deceived. She did not know the
whole. But she knew that she was surrounded by men who were
impatient for that new world which was to begin at her death, who
had never been attached to her by affection, and who were now but
very slightly attached to her by interest. Prostration and
flattery could not conceal from her the cruel truth, that those
whom she had trusted, and promoted had never loved her, and were
fast ceasing to fear her. Unable to avenge herself, and too proud
to complain, she suffered sorrow and resentment to prey on her
heart till, after a long  career of power, prosperity, and glory,
she died sick and weary of the world.

James mounted the throne: and Bacon employed all his address to
obtain for himself a share of the favour of his new master. This
was no difficult task. The faults of James, both as a man and as
a prince, were numerous; but insensibility to the claims of
genius and learning was not among them. He was indeed made up of
two men, a witty, well-read scholar, who wrote, disputed, and
harangued, and a nervous, drivelling idiot, who acted. If he had
been a Canon of Christ Church or a Prebendary of Westminster, it
is not improbable that he would have left a highly respectable
name to posterity; that he would have distinguished himself among
the translators of the Bible, and among the Divines who attended
the Synod of Dort; and that he would have been regarded by the
literary world as no contemptible rival of Vossius and Casaubon.
But fortune placed him in a situation in which his weakness
covered him with disgrace, and in which his accomplishments
brought him no honour. In a college, much eccentricity and
childishness would have been readily pardoned in so learned a
man. But all that learning could do for him on the throne was to
make people think him a pedant as well as a fool.

Bacon was favourably received at Court; and soon found that his
chance of promotion was not diminished by the death of the Queen.
He was solicitous to be knighted, for two reasons which are
somewhat amusing. The King had already dubbed half London, and
Bacon found himself the only untitled person in his mess at
Gray's Inn. This was not very agreeable to him. He had also, to
quote his own words, "found an Alderman's daughter, a handsome
maiden, to his liking." On both these grounds, he begged his
cousin Robert Cecil, "if it might please his good Lordship," to
use his interest in his behalf. The application was successful.
Bacon was one of three hundred gentlemen who, on the coronation-
day, received the honour, if it is to be so called, of
knighthood. The handsome maiden, a daughter of Alderman Barnham,
soon after consented to become Sir Francis's lady.

The death of Elizabeth, though on the whole it improved Bacon's
prospects, was in one respect an unfortunate event for him. The
new King had always felt kindly towards Lord Essex, and, as soon
as he came to the throne, began to show favour to the House of
Devereux, and to those who had stood by that house in its
adversity. Everybody was now at liberty to speak out respecting
those lamentable events in which Bacon had borne so large a
share. Elizabeth was scarcely cold when the public feeling began
to manifest itself by marks of respect towards Lord Southampton.
That accomplished nobleman, who will be remembered to the latest
ages as the generous and discerning patron of Shakspeare, was
held in honour by his contemporaries chiefly on account of the
devoted affection which he had borne to Essex. He had been tried
and convicted together with his friend; but the Queen had spared
his life, and, at the time of her death, he was still a prisoner.
A crowd of visitors hastened to the Tower to congratulate him on
his approaching deliverance. With that crowd Bacon could not
venture to mingle. The multitude loudly condemned him; and his
conscience told him that the multitude had but too much reason.
He excused himself to Southampton by letter, in terms which, if
he had, as Mr. Montagu conceives, done only what as a subject and
an advocate he was bound to do, must be considered as shamefully
servile. He owns his fear that his attendance would give
offence, and that his professions of regard would obtain no
credit. "Yet," says he, "it is as true as a thing that God
knoweth, that this great change hath wrought in me no other
change towards your Lordship than this, that I may safely be that
to you now which I was truly before."

How Southampton received these apologies we are not informed. But
it is certain that the general opinion was pronounced against
Bacon in a manner not to be misunderstood. Soon after his
marriage he put forth a defence of his conduct, in the form of a
Letter to the Earl of Devon. This tract seems to us to prove only
the exceeding badness of a cause for which such talents could do
so little.

It is not probable that Bacon's Defence had much effect on his
contemporaries. But the unfavourable impression which his conduct
had made appears to have been gradually effaced. Indeed it must
be some very peculiar cause that can make a man like him long
unpopular. His talents secured him from contempt, his temper and
his manners from hatred. There is scarcely any story so black
that it may not be got over by a man of great abilities, whose
abilities are united with caution, good humour, patience, and
affability, who pays daily sacrifice to Nemesis, who is a
delightful companion, a serviceable though not an ardent friend,
and a dangerous yet a placable enemy. Waller in the next
generation was an eminent instance of this. Indeed Waller had
much more than may at first sight appear in common with Bacon. To
the higher intellectual qualities of the great English
philosopher, to the genius which has made an immortal epoch in
the history of science, Waller had indeed no pretensions. But the
mind of Waller, as far as it extended, coincided with that of
Bacon, and might, so to, speak, have been cut out of that of
Bacon. In the qualities which make a man an object of interest
and veneration to posterity, they cannot be compared together.
But in the qualities by which chiefly a man is known to his
contemporaries there was a striking similarity between them.
Considered as men of the world, as courtiers, as politicians, as
associates, as allies, as enemies, they had nearly the same
merits, and the same defects. They were not malignant. They were
not tyrannical. But they wanted warmth of affection and elevation
of sentiment. There were many things which they loved better than
virtue, and which they feared more than guilt. Yet, even after
they had stooped to acts of which it is impossible to read the
account in the most partial narratives without strong
disapprobation and contempt, the public still continued to
regard them with a feeling not easily to be distinguished from
esteem. The hyperbole of Juliet seemed to be verified with
respect to them. "Upon their brows shame was ashamed to sit."
Everybody seemed as desirous to throw a veil over their
misconduct as if it had been his own. Clarendon, who felt, and
who had reason to feel, strong personal dislike towards
Waller, speaks of him thus: "There needs no more to be said to
extol the excellence and power of his wit and pleasantness of his
conversation, than that it was of magnitude enough to cover a
world of very great faults, that is, so to cover them that they
were not taken notice of to his reproach, viz., a narrowness in
his nature to the lowest degree, an abjectness and want of
courage to support him in any virtuous undertaking, an
insinuation and servile flattery to the height the vainest and
most imperious nature could be contented with. . . . It had power
to reconcile him to those whom he had most offended and provoked,
and continued to his age with that rare felicity, that his
company was acceptable where his spirit was odious, and he was at
least pitied where he was most detested." Much of this, with some
softening, might, we fear, be applied to Bacon. The influence of
Waller's talents, manners, and accomplishments, died with him;
and the world has pronounced an unbiassed sentence on his
character. A few flowing lines are not bribe sufficient to
pervert the judgment of posterity. But the influence of Bacon is
felt and will long be felt over the whole civilised world.
Leniently as he was treated by his contemporaries, posterity has
treated him more leniently still. Turn where we may, the trophies
of that mighty intellect are full in few. We are judging Manlius
in sight of the Capitol.

Under the reign of James, Bacon grew rapidly in fortune and
favour. In 1604 he was appointed King's Counsel, with a fee of
forty pounds a year; and a pension of sixty pounds a year was
settled upon him. In 1607 he became Solicitor-General, in 1612
Attorney-General. He continued to distinguish himself in
Parliament, particularly by his exertions in favour of one
excellent measure on which the King's heart was set, the union of
England and Scotland. It was not difficult for such an intellect
to discover many irresistible arguments in favour of such a
scheme. He conducted the great case of the Post Nati in the
Exchequer Chamber; and the decision of the judges, a decision the
legality of which may be questioned, but the beneficial effect of
which must be acknowledged, was in a great measure attributed to
his dexterous management. While actively engaged in the House of
Commons and in the courts of law, he still found leisure for
letters and philosophy. The noble treatise on the Advancement of
Learning, which at a later period was expanded into the De
Augmentis, appeared in 1605. The Wisdom of the Ancients, a work
which, if it had proceeded from any other writer, would have been
considered as a masterpiece of wit and learning, but which adds
little to the fame of Bacon, was printed in 1609. In the meantime
the Novum Organum was slowly proceeding. Several distinguished
men of learning had been permitted to see sketches or detached
portions of that extraordinary book; and, though they were not
generally disposed to admit the soundness of the author's views,
they spoke with the greatest admiration of his genius. Sir Thomas
Bodley, the founder of one of the most magnificent of English
libraries, was among those stubborn Conservatives who considered
the hopes with which Bacon looked forward, to the future
destinies of the human race as utterly chimerical, and who
regarded with distrust and aversion the innovating spirit of the
new schismatics in philosophy. Yet even Bodley, after perusing
the Cogitata et Visa, one of the most precious of those scattered
leaves out of which the great oracular volume was afterwards made
up, acknowledged that in "those very points, and in all proposals
and plots in that book, Bacon showed himself a master-workman";
and that "it could not be gainsaid but all the treatise over did
abound with choice conceits of the present state of learning, and
with worthy contemplations of the means to procure it." In 1612 a
new edition of the Essays appeared, with additions surpassing the
original collection both in bulk and quality. Nor did these
pursuits distract Bacon's attention from a work the most arduous,
the most glorious, and the most useful that even his mighty
powers could have achieved, "the reducing and recompiling," to
use his own phrase, "of the laws of England."

Unhappily he was at that very time employed in perverting those
laws to the vilest purposes of tyranny. When Oliver St. John was
brought before the Star Chamber for maintaining that the King had
no right to levy Benevolences, and was for his manly and
constitutional conduct sentenced to imprisonment during the royal
pleasure and to a fine of five thousand pounds, Bacon appeared as
counsel for the prosecution. About the same time he was deeply
engaged in a still more disgraceful transaction. An aged
clergyman, of the name of Peacham, was accused of treason on
account of some passages of a sermon which was found in his
study. The sermon, whether written by him or not, had never been
preached. It did not appear that he had any intention of
preaching it. The most servile lawyers of those servile times
were forced to admit that there were great difficulties both as
to the facts and as to the law. Bacon was employed to remove
those difficulties. He was employed to settle the question of law
by tampering with the judges, and the question of fact by
torturing the prisoner.

Three judges of the Court of King's Bench were tractable. But
Coke was made of different stuff. Pedant, bigot, and brute as he
was, he had qualities which bore a strong, though a very
disagreeable resemblance to some of the highest virtues which a
public man can possess. He was an exception to a maxim which we
believe to be generally true, that those who trample on the
helpless are disposed to cringe to the powerful. He behaved with
gross rudeness to his juniors at the bar, and with execrable
cruelty to prisoners on trial for their lives. But he stood up
manfully against the King and the King's favourites. No man of
that age appeared to so little advantage when he was opposed to
an inferior, and was in the wrong. But, on the other hand, it is
but fair to admit that no man of that age made so creditable a
figure when he was opposed to a superior, and happened to be in
the right. On such occasions, his half-suppressed insolence and
his impracticable obstinacy had a respectable and interesting
appearance, when compared with the abject servility of the bar
and of the bench. On the present occasion he was stubborn and
surly. He declared that it was a new and highly improper practice
in the judges to confer with a law-officer of the Crown about
capital cases which they were afterwards to try; and for some
time he resolutely kept aloof. But Bacon was equally artful and
persevering. "I am not wholly out of hope," said he in a letter
to the King, "that my Lord Coke himself, when I have in some dark
manner put him in doubt that he shall be left alone, will not be
singular." After some time Bacon's dexterity was successful; and
Coke, sullenly and reluctantly, followed the example of his
brethren. But in order to convict Peacham it was necessary to
find facts as well as law. Accordingly, this wretched old man was
put to the rack, and, while undergoing the horrible infliction,
was examined by Bacon, but in vain. No confession could be wrung
out of him; and Bacon wrote to the King, complaining that Peacham
had a dumb devil. At length the trial came on. A conviction was
obtained; but the charges were so obviously futile, that the
Government could not, for very shame, carry the sentence into
execution; and Peacham, was suffered to languish away the short
remainder of his life in a prison.

All this frightful story Mr. Montagu relates fairly. He neither
conceals nor distorts any material fact. But he can see nothing
deserving of condemnation in Bacon's conduct. He tells us most
truly that we ought not to try the men of one age by the standard
of another; that Sir Matthew Hale is not to be pronounced a bad
man because he left a woman to be executed for witchcraft; that
posterity will not be justified in censuring judges of our time,
for selling offices in their courts, according to the established
practice, bad as that practice was; and that Bacon is entitled to
similar indulgence. "To persecute the lover of truth," says Mr.
Montagu, "for opposing established customs, and to censure him in
after ages for not having been more strenuous in opposition, are
errors which will never cease until the pleasure of self-
elevation from the depression of superiority is no more."

We have no dispute with Mr. Montagu about the general
proposition. We assent to every word of it. But does it apply to
the present case? Is it true that in the time of James the First
it was the established practice for the law-officers of the Crown
to hold private consultations with the judges, touching capital
cases which those judges were afterwards to try? Certainly not.
In the very page in which Mr. Montagu asserts that "the
influencing a judge out of court seems at that period scarcely to
have been considered as improper," he give the very words of Sir
Edward Coke on the subject. "I will not thus declare what may
be my judgment by these auricular confessions of new and
pernicious tendency, and not according to the customs of the
realm." Is it possible to imagine that Coke, who had himself been
Attorney-General during thirteen years, who had conducted a far
greater number of important State prosecutions than any other
lawyer named in English history, and who had passed with scarcely
any interval from the Attorney-Generalship to the first seat in
the first criminal court in the realm, could have been startled
at an invitation to confer with the Crown-lawyers, and could have
pronounced the practice new, if it had really been an
established usage? We well know that, where property only was at
stake, it was then a common, though a most culpable practice, in
the judges, to listen to private solicitation. But the practice
of tampering with judges in order to procure capita; convictions
we believe to have been new, first, because Coke, who understood
those matters better than any man of his time, asserted it to be
new; and secondly, because neither Bacon nor Mr. Montagu has
shown a single precedent.

How then stands the case? Even thus: Bacon was not conforming to
an usage then generally admitted to be proper. He was not even
the last lingering adherent of an old abuse. It would have been
sufficiently disgraceful to such a man to be in this last
situation. Yet this last situation would have been honourable
compared with that in which he stood. He was guilty of attempting
to introduce into the courts of law an odious abuse for which no
precedent could be found. Intellectually, he was better fitted
than any man that England has ever produced for the work of
improving her institutions. But, unhappily, we see that he did
not scruple to exert his great powers for the purpose of
introducing into those institutions new corruptions of the
foulest kind.

The same, or nearly the same, may be said of the torturing of
Peacham. If it be true that in the time of James the First the
propriety of torturing prisoners was generally allowed, we should
admit this as an excuse, though we should admit it less readily
in the case of such a man as Bacon than in the case of an
ordinary lawyer or politician. But the fact is, that the practice
of torturing prisoners was then generally acknowledged by lawyers
to be illegal, and was execrated by the public as barbarous. More
than thirty years before Peacham's trial, that practice was so
loudly condemned by the voice of the nation that Lord Burleigh
found it necessary to publish an apology for having occasionally
resorted to it. But, though the dangers which then threatened the
Government were of a very different kind from those which were to
be apprehended from anything that Peacham could write, though the
life of the Queen and the dearest interests of the State were in
jeopardy, though the circumstances were such that all ordinary
laws might seem to be superseded by that highest law, the public
safety, the apology did not satisfy the country; and the Queen
found it expedient to issue an order positively forbidding the
torturing of State-prisoners on any pretence whatever. From that
time, the practice of torturing, which had always been unpopular,
which had always been illegal, had also been unusual. It is well
known that in 1628, only fourteen years after the time when Bacon
went to the Tower to listen to the yells of Peacham, the judges
decided that Felton, a criminal who neither deserved nor was
likely to obtain any extraordinary indulgence, could not lawfully
be put to the question. We therefore say that Bacon stands in a
very different situation from that in which Mr. Montagu tries to
place him. Bacon was here distinctly behind his age. He was one
of the last of the tools of power who persisted in a practice the
most barbarous and the most absurd that has ever disgraced
jurisprudence, in a practice of which, in the preceding
generation, Elizabeth and her Ministers had been ashamed, in a
practice which, a few years later, no sycophant in all the Inns
of Court had the heart or the forehead to defend. [Since this
Review was written, Mr. Jardine has published a very learned and
ingenious Reading on the use of torture in England. It has not,
however, been thought necessary to make any change in the
observations on Peacham's case.

It is impossible to discuss within the limits of a note, the
extensive question raised by Mr. Jardine. It is sufficient here
to say that every argument by which he attempts to show that the
use of the rack was anciently a lawful exertion of royal
prerogative may be urged with equal force, nay, with far greater
force, to prove the lawfulness of benevolences, of ship-money, of
Mompesson's patent, of Eliot's imprisonment, of every abuse,
without exception, which is condemned by the Petition of Right
and the Declaration of Right.]

Bacon far behind his age! Bacon far behind Sir Edward Coke! Bacon
clinging to exploded abuses! Bacon withstanding the progress of
improvement! Bacon struggling to push back the human mind! The
words seem strange. They sound like a contradiction in terms. Yet
the fact is even so: and the explanation may be readily found by
any person who is not blinded by prejudice. Mr. Montagu cannot
believe that so extraordinary a man as Bacon could be guilty of a
bad action; as if history were not made up of the bad actions of
extraordinary men, as if all the most noted destroyers and
deceivers of our species, all the founders of arbitrary
governments and false religions, had not been extraordinary men,
as if nine-tenths of the calamities which have befallen the human
race had any other origin than the union of high intelligence
with low desires.

Bacon knew this well. He has told us that there are persons
"scientia tanquam angeli alati, cupiditatibus vero tanquam
serpentes qui humi reptant"; [De Augmentis, Lib. v. Cap. I.] and
it did not require his admirable sagacity and his extensive
converse with mankind to make the discovery. Indeed, he had only
look within. The difference between the soaring angel and the
snake was but a type of the difference between Bacon the
philosopher and Bacon the Attorney-General, Bacon seeking for
truth, and Bacon seeking for the Seals. Those who survey only
one-half of his character may speak of him with unmixed
admiration or with unmixed contempt. But those only judge of him
correctly who take in at one view Bacon in speculation and Bacon
in action. They will have no difficulty in comprehending how one
and the same man should have been far above his age and far
behind it, in one line the boldest and most useful of innovators,
in another one the most obstinate champion of the foulest abuses.
In his library, all his rare powers were under the guidance of an
honest ambition, of all enlarged philanthropy, of a sincere love
of truth. There, no temptation drew him away from the right
course. Thomas Aquinas could pay no fees. Duns Scotus could
confer no peerages. The Master of the Sentences had no rich
reversions in his gift. Far different was the situation of the
great philosopher when he came forth from his study and his
laboratory to mingle with the crowd which filled the galleries of
Whitehall. In all that crowd there was no man equally qualified
to render great and lasting services to mankind. But in all that
crowd there was not a heart more set on things which no man ought
to suffer to be necessary to his happiness, on things which can
often be obtained only by the sacrifice of integrity and honour.
To be the leader of the human race in the career of improvement,
to found on the ruins of ancient intellectual dynasties a more
prosperous and a more enduring empire, to be revered by the
latest generations as the most illustrious among the benefactors
of mankind, all this was within his reach, But all this availed
him nothing, while some quibbling special pleader was promoted
before him to the bench, while some heavy country gentleman took
precedence of him by virtue of a purchased coronet, while some
pandar, happy in a fair wife, could obtain a more cordial salute
from Buckingham, while some buffoon, versed in all the latest
scandal of the Court, could draw a louder laugh from James.

During a long course of years, Bacon's unworthy ambition was
crowned with success. His sagacity early enabled him to perceive
who was likely to become the most powerful man in the kingdom. He
probably knew the King's mind before it was known to the King
himself, and attached himself to Villiers, while the less
discerning crowd of courtiers still continued to fawn on
Somerset, The influence of the younger favourite became greater
daily. The contest between the rivals might, however, have lasted
long, but for that frightful crime which, in spite of all that
could be effected by the research and ingenuity of historians, is
still covered with so mysterious an obscurity. The descent of
Somerset had been a gradual and almost imperceptible lapse. It
now became a headlong fall; and Villiers, left without a
competitor, rapidly rose to a height of power such as no subject
since Wolsey had attained.

There were many points of resemblance between the two celebrated
courtiers who, at different times, extended their patronage to
Bacon. It is difficult to say whether Essex or Villiers was more
eminently distinguished by those graces of person and manner
which have always been rated in courts at much more than their
real value. Both were constitutionally brave; and both, like most
men who are constitutionally brave, were open and unreserved.
Both were rash and head-strong. Both were destitute of the
abilities and of the information which are necessary to
statesmen. Yet both, trusting to the accomplishments which had
made them conspicuous in tilt-yards and ball-rooms, aspired to
rule the State. Both owed their elevation to the personal
attachment of the sovereign; and in both cases this attachment
was of so eccentric a kind, that it perplexed observers, that it
still continues to perplex historians, and that it gave rise to
much scandal which we are inclined to think unfounded. Each of
them treated the sovereign whose favour he enjoyed with a
rudeness which approached to insolence. This petulance ruined
Essex, who had to deal with a spirit naturally as proud as his
own, and accustomed, during near half a century, to the most
respectful observance. But there was a wide difference between
the haughty daughter of Henry and her successor. James was timid
from the cradle. His nerves, naturally weak, had not been
fortified by reflection or by habit. His life, till he came to
England, had been a series of mortifications and humiliations.
With all his high notions of the origin and extent of his
prerogatives, he was never his own master for a day. In spite of
his kingly title, in spite of his despotic theories, he was to
the last a slave at heart. Villiers treated him like one; and
this course, though adopted, we believe, merely from temper,
succeeded as well as if it had been a system of policy formed
after mature deliberation.

In generosity, in sensibility, in capacity for friendship, Essex
far surpassed Buckingham. Indeed, Buckingham can scarcely be said
to have had any friend, with the exception of the two princes
over whom successively he exercised so wonderful an influence.
Essex was to the last adored by the people. Buckingham was always
a most unpopular man, except perhaps for a very short time after
his return from the childish visit to Spain. Essex fell a victim
to the rigour of the Government amidst the lamentations of the
people. Buckingham, execrated by the people, and solemnly
declared a public enemy by the representatives of the people,
fell by the hand of one of the people, and was lamented by none
but his master.

The way in which the two favourites acted towards Bacon was
highly characteristic, and may serve to illustrate the old and
true saying, that a man is generally more inclined to feel kindly
towards one on whom he has conferred favours than towards one
from whom he has received them. Essex loaded Bacon with benefits,
and never thought that he had done enough. It seems never to have
crossed the mind of the powerful and wealthy noble that the poor
barrister whom he treated with such munificent kindness was not
his equal. It was, we have no doubt, with perfect sincerity that
the Earl declared that he would willingly give his sister or
daughter in marriage to his friend. He was in general more than
sufficiently sensible of his own merits; but he did not seem to
know that he had ever deserved well of Bacon. On that cruel day
when they saw each other for the last time at the bar of the
Lords, Essex taxed his perfidious friend with unkindness and
insincerity, but never with ingratitude. Even in such a moment,
more bitter than the bitterness of death, that noble heart was
too great to vent itself in such a reproach.

Villiers, on the other hand, owed much to Bacon. When their
acquaintance began, Sir Francis was a man of mature age, of high
station, and of established fame as a politician, an advocate,
and a writer. Villiers was little more than a boy, a younger son
of a house then of no great note. He was but just entering on the
career of court favour; and none but the most discerning
observers could as yet perceive that he was likely to distance
all his competitors. The countenance and advice of a man so
highly distinguished as the Attorney-General, must have been an
object of the highest importance to the young adventurer. But
though Villiers was the obliged party, he was far less warmly
attached to Bacon, and far less delicate in his conduct towards
Bacon, than Essex had been.

To do the new favourite justice, he early exerted his influence
in behalf of his illustrious friend. In 1616 Sir Francis was
of the Privy Council, and in March 1617, on the retirement of
Lord Brackley, was appointed Keeper of the Great Seal.

On the seventh of May, the first day of term, he rode in state to
Westminster Hall, with the Lord Treasurer on his right hand, the
Lord Privy Seal on his left, a long procession of students and
ushers before him, and a crowd of peers, privy-councillors, and
judges following in his train. Having entered his court, he
addressed the splendid auditory in a grave and dignified speech,
which proves how well he understood those judicial duties which
he afterwards performed so ill. Even at that moment, the proudest
moment of his life in the estimation of the vulgar, and, it may
be, even in his own, he cast back a look of lingering affection
towards those noble pursuits from which, as it seemed, he was
about to be estranged. "The depth of the three long vacations,"
said he, "I would reserve in some measure free from business of
estate, and for studies, arts, and sciences, to which of my own
nature I am most inclined."

The years during which Bacon held the Great Seal were among the
darkest and most shameful in English history. Everything at home
and abroad was mismanaged. First came the execution of Raleigh,
an act which, if done in a proper manner, might have been
defensible, but which, under all the circumstances, must be
considered as a dastardly murder. Worse was behind: the war of
Bohemia, the successes of Tilly and Spinola, the Palatinate
conquered, the King's son-in-law an exile, the House of Austria
dominant on the Continent, the Protestant religion and the
liberties of the Germanic body trodden under foot. Meanwhile, the
wavering and cowardly policy of England furnished matter of
ridicule to all the nations of Europe. The love of peace which
James professed would, even when indulged to an impolitic excess,
have been respectable, if it had proceeded from tenderness for
his people. But the truth is, that, while he had nothing to spare
for the defence of the natural allies of England, he resorted
without scruple to the most illegal and oppressive devices, for
the purpose of enabling Buckingham and Buckingham's relations to
outshine the ancient aristocracy of the realm. Benevolences were
exacted. Patents of monopoly were multiplied. All the resources
which could have been employed to replenish a beggared exchequer,
at the close of a ruinous war, were put in motion during this
season of ignominious peace.

The vices of the administration must be chiefly ascribed to the
weakness of the King and to the levity and violence of the
favourite. But it is impossible to acquit the Lord Keeper of all
share in the guilt. For those odious patents, in particular,
which passed the Great Seal while it was in his charge, he must
be held answerable. In the speech which he made on first taking
his seat in his court, he had pledged himself to discharge this
important part of his functions with the greatest caution and
impartiality. He had declared that he "would walk in the light,"
"that men should see that no particular turn or end led him, but
a general rule." Mr. Montagu would have us believe that Bacon
acted up to these professions, and says that "the power of the
favourite did not deter the Lord Keeper from staying grants and
patents when his public duty demanded this interposition." Does
Mr. Montagu consider patents of monopoly as good things? or does
he mean to say that Bacon staid every patent of monopoly that
came before him? Of all patents in our history, the most
disgraceful was that which was granted to Sir Giles Mompesson,
supposed to be the original of Massinger's Overreach, and to Sir
Francis Michell, from whom justice Greedy is supposed to have
been drawn, for the exclusive manufacturing of gold and silver
lace. The effect of this monopoly was of course that the metal
employed in the manufacture was adulterated, to the great loss of
the public. But this was a trifle. The patentees were armed with
powers as great as have ever been given to farmers of the revenue
in the worst governed countries. They were authorised to search
houses and to arrest interlopers; and these formidable powers
were used for purposes viler than even those for which they were
given, for the wreaking of old grudges, and for the corrupting of
female chastity. Was not this a case in which public duty
demanded the interposition of the Lord Keeper? And did the Lord
Keeper interpose? He did. He wrote to inform the King, that he
"had considered of the fitness and conveniency of the gold and
silver thread business," "that it was convenient that it should
be settled," that he "did conceive apparent likelihood that it
would redound much to his Majesty's profit," that, therefore, "it
were good it were settled with all convenient speed." The meaning
of all this was, that certain of the House of Villiers were to go
shares with Overreach and Greedy in the plunder of the public.
This was the way in which, when the favourite pressed for
patents, lucrative to his relations and to his creatures, ruinous
and vexatious to the body of the people, the chief guardian of
the laws interposed. Having assisted the patentees to obtain
this monopoly, Bacon assisted them also in the steps which they
took for the purpose of guarding it. He committed several people
to close confinement for disobeying his tyrannical edict. It is
needless to say more. Our readers are now able to judge whether,
in the matter of patents, Bacon acted conformably to his
professions, or deserved the praise which his biographer has
bestowed on him.

In his judicial capacity his conduct was not less reprehensible.
He suffered Buckingham to dictate many of his decisions. Bacon
knew as well as any man that a judge who listens to private
solicitations is a disgrace to his post. He himself, before he
was raised to the woolsack, represented this strongly to
Villiers, then just entering on his career. "By no means," said
Sir Francis, in a letter of advice addressed to the young
courtier, "by no means be you persuaded to interpose yourself,
either by word or letter, in any cause depending in any court of
justice, nor suffer any great man to do it where you can hinder
it. If it should prevail, it perverts justice; but if the judge
be so just, and of such courage as he ought to be, as not to be
inclined thereby, yet it always leaves a taint of suspicion
behind it." Yet he had not been Lord Keeper a month when
Buckingham began to interfere in Chancery suits; and Buckingham's
interference was, as might have been expected, successful.

Mr. Montagu's reflections on the excellent passage which we have
quoted above are exceedingly amusing. "No man," says he, "more
deeply felt the evils which then existed of the interference of
the Crown and of statesmen to influence judges. How beautifully
did he admonish Buckingham, regardless as he proved of all
admonition!" We should be glad to know how it can be expected
that admonition will be regarded by him who receives it, when it
is altogether neglected by him who gives it. We do not defend
Buckingham; but what was his guilt to Bacon's? Buckingham was
young, ignorant, thoughtless, dizzy with the rapidity of his
ascent and the height of his position. That he should be eager to
serve his relations, his flatterers, his mistresses, that he
should not fully apprehend the immense importance of a pure
administration of justice, that he should think more about those
who were bound to him by private ties than about the public
interest, all this was perfectly natural, and not altogether
unpardonable. Those who intrust a petulant, hot-blooded, ill-
informed lad with power, are more to blame than he for the
mischief which he may do with it. How could it be expected of a
lively page, raised by a wild freak of fortune to the first
influence in the empire, that he should have bestowed any serious
thought on the principles which ought to guide judicial
decisions? Bacon was the ablest public man then living in
Europe. He was near sixty years old. He had thought much, and to
good purpose, on the general principles of law. He had for many
years borne a part daily in the administration of justice. It was
impossible that a man with a tithe of his sagacity and experience
should not have known that a judge who suffers friends or patrons
to dictate his decrees violates the plainest rules of duty. In
fact, as we have seen, he knew this well: he expressed it
admirably. Neither on this occasion nor on any other could his
bad actions be attributed to any defect of the head. They sprang
from quite a different cause.

A man who stooped to render such services to others was not
likely to be scrupulous as to the means by which he enriched
himself. He and his dependants accepted large presents from
persons who were engaged in Chancery suits. The amount of the
plunder which he collected in this way it is impossible to
estimate. There can be no doubt that he received very much more
than was proved on his trial, though, it may be, less than was
suspected by the public. His enemies stated his illicit gains at
a hundred thousand pounds. But this was probably an exaggeration.

It was long before the day of reckoning arrived. During the
interval between the second and third Parliaments of James, the
nation was absolutely governed by the Crown. The prospects of the
Lord Keeper were bright and serene. His great place rendered the
splendour of his talents even more conspicuous, and gave an
additional charm to the serenity of his temper, the courtesy of
his manners, and the eloquence of his conversation. The pillaged
suitor might mutter. The austere Puritan patriot might, in his
retreat, grieve that one on whom God had bestowed without measure
all the abilities which qualify men to take the lead in great
reforms should be found among the adherents of the worst abuses.
But the murmurs of the suitor and the lamentations of the patriot
had scarcely any avenue to the ears of the powerful. The King,
and the Minister who was the King's master, smiled on their
illustrious flatterer. The whole crowd of courtiers and nobles
sought his favour with emulous eagerness. Men of wit and learning
hailed with delight the elevation of one who had so signally
shown that a man of profound learning and of brilliant wit might
understand, far better than any plodding dunce, the art of
thriving in the world.

Once, and but once, this course of prosperity was for a moment
interrupted. It would seem that even Bacon's brain was not strong
enough to bear without some discomposure the inebriating effect
of so much good fortune. For some time after his elevation, he
showed himself a little wanting in that wariness and self-command
to which, more than even to his transcendent talents, his
elevation was to be ascribed. He was by no means a good hater.
The temperature of his revenge, like that of his gratitude, was
scarcely ever more than lukewarm. But there was one person whom
he had long regarded with an animosity which, though studiously
suppressed, was perhaps the stronger for the suppression. The
insults and injuries which, when a young man struggling into note
and professional practice, he had received from Sir Edward Coke,
were such as might move the most placable nature to resentment.
About the time at which Bacon received the Seals, Coke had, on
account of his contumacious resistance to the royal pleasure,
been deprived of his seat in the Court of King's Bench, and had
ever since languished in retirement. But Coke's opposition to the
Court, we fear, was the effect not of good principles, but of a
bad temper. Perverse and testy as he was, he wanted true
fortitude and dignity of character. His obstinacy, unsupported by
virtuous motives, was not proof against disgrace. He solicited a
reconciliation with the favourite, and his solicitations were
successful. Sir John Villiers, the brother of Buckingham, was
looking out for a rich wife. Coke had a large fortune and an
unmarried daughter. A bargain was struck. But Lady Coke, the lady
whom twenty years before Essex had wooed on behalf of Bacon,
would not hear of the match. A violent and scandalous family
quarrel followed. The mother carried the girl away by stealth.
The father pursued them, and regained possession of his daughter
by force. The King was then in Scotland, and Buckingham had
attended him thither. Bacon was during their absence at the head
of affairs in England. He felt towards Coke as much malevolence
as it was in his nature to feel towards anybody. His wisdom had
been laid to sleep by prosperity. In an evil hour he determined
to interfere in the disputes which agitated his enemy's
household. He declared for the wife, countenanced the Attorney-
General in the filing an information in the Star-Chamber against
the husband, and wrote letters to the King and the favourite
against the proposed marriage. The strong language which he
used in those letters shows that, sagacious as he was, he did
not quite know his place, and that he was not fully acquainted
with the extent either of Buckingham's power, or of the change
which the possession of that power had produced in Buckingham's
character. He soon had a lesson which he never forgot. The
favourite received the news of the Lord Keeper's interference
feelings of the most violent resentment, and made the King even
more angry than himself. Bacon's eyes were at once opened to
his error, and to all its possible consequences. He had been
elated, if not intoxicated, by greatness. The shock sobered him
in an instant. He was all himself again. He apologised
for his interference. He directed the Attorney-General to stop
the proceedings against Coke. He sent to tell Lady Coke that
he could do nothing for her. He announced to both the families
that he was desirous to promote the connection. Having given
these proofs of contrition, he ventured to present himself
before Buckingham. But the young upstart did not think that he
had yet sufficiently humbled an old man who had been his friend
and his benefactor, who was the highest civil functionary
in the realm, and the most eminent man of letters of the world.
It is said that on two successive days Bacon repaired to
Buckingham's house, that on two successive days he was suffered
to remain in an antechamber among footboys, seated on an old
wooden box, with the Great Seal of England at his side; and that
when at length he was admitted, he flung himself on the floor,
kissed the favourite's feet, and vowed never to rise till he was
forgiven. Sir Anthony Weldon, on whose authority this story
rests, is likely enough to have exaggerated the meanness of Bacon
and the insolence of Buckingham. But it is difficult to imagine
that so circumstantial a narrative, written by a person who avers
that he was present on the occasion, can be wholly without
foundation; and, unhappily, there is little in the character
either of the favourite or of the Lord Keeper to make the
narrative improbable. It is certain that a reconciliation took
place on terms humiliating to Bacon, who never more ventured to
cross any purpose of anybody who bore the name of Villiers. He
put a strong curb on those angry passions which had for the first
time in his life mastered his prudence. He went through the forms
of a reconciliation with Coke, and did his best, by seeking
opportunities of paying little civilities, and by avoiding all
that could produce collision, to tame the untameable ferocity of
his old enemy.

In the main, however, Bacon's life, while he held the Great Seal,
was, in outward appearance, most enviable. In London he lived
with great dignity at York House, the venerable mansion of his
father. Here it was that, in January 1620, he celebrated his
entrance into his sixtieth year amidst a splendid circle of
friends. He had then exchanged the appellation of Keeper for the
higher title of Chancellor. Ben Jonson was one of the party, and
wrote on the occasion some of the happiest of his rugged rhymes.
All things, he tells us, seemed to smile about the old house,
"the fire, the wine, the men." The spectacle of the accomplished
host, after a life marked by no great disaster, entered on a
green old age, in the enjoyment of riches, power, high honours,
undiminished mental activity, and vast literary reputation, made
a strong impression on the poet, if we may judge from those well-
known lines:

"England's high Chancellor, the destined heir,
In his soft cradle, to his father's chair,
Whose even thread the Fates spin round and full
Out of their choicest and their whitest wool."

In the intervals of rest which Bacon's political and judicial
functions afforded, he was in the habit of retiring to
Gorhambury. At that place his business was literature, and his
favourite amusement gardening, which in one of his most
interesting Essays he calls "the purest of human pleasures." In
his magnificent grounds he erected, at a cost of ten thousand
pounds, a retreat to which he repaired when he wished to avoid
all visitors, and to devote himself wholly to study. On such
occasions, a few young men of distinguished talents were
sometimes the companions of his retirement; and among them his
quick eye soon discerned the superior abilities of Thomas Hobbes.
It is not probable, however, that he fully appreciated the powers
of his disciple, or foresaw the vast influence, both for good and
for evil, which that most vigorous and acute of human intellects
was destined to exercise on the two succeeding generations.

In January 1621, Bacon had reached the zenith of his fortunes. He
had just published the Novum Organum; and that extraordinary book
had drawn forth the warmest expressions of admiration from the
ablest men in Europe. He had obtained honours of a widely
different kind, but perhaps not less valued by him. He had been
created Baron Verulam. He had subsequently been raised to the
higher dignity of Viscount St. Albans. His patent was drawn in
the most flattering terms, and the Prince of Wales signed it as a
witness. The ceremony of investiture was performed with great
state at Theobalds, and Buckingham condescended to be one of the
chief actors. Posterity has felt that the greatest of English
philosophers could derive no accession of dignity from any title
which James could bestow, and, in defiance of the royal letters
patent, has obstinately refused to degrade Francis Bacon into
Viscount St. Albans.

In a few weeks was signally brought to the test the value of
those objects for which Bacon had sullied his integrity, had
resigned his independence, had violated the most sacred
obligations of friendship and gratitude, had flattered the
worthless, had persecuted the innocent, had tampered with judges,
had tortured prisoners, had plundered suitors, had wasted on
paltry intrigues all the powers of the most exquisitely
constructed intellect that has ever been bestowed on any of the
children of men. A sudden and terrible reverse was at hand. A
Parliament had been summoned. After six years of silence the
voice of the nation was again to be heard. Only three days after
the pageant which was performed at Theobalds in honour of Bacon,
the Houses met.

Want of money had, as usual, induced the King to convoke his
Parliament. It may be doubted, however, whether, if he or his
Ministers had been at all aware of the state of public feeling,
they would not have tried any expedient, or borne with any
inconvenience, rather than have ventured to face the deputies of
a justly exasperated nation. But they did not discern those
times. Indeed almost all the political blunders of James, and of
his more unfortunate son, arose from one great error. During the
fifty years which preceded the Long Parliament a great and
progressive change was taking place in the public mind. The
nature and extent of this change was not in the least understood
by either of the first two Kings of the House of Stuart, or by
any of their advisers. That the nation became more and more
discontented every year, that every House of Commons was more
unmanageable than that which had preceded it, were facts which it
was impossible not to perceive. But the Court could not
understand why these things were so. The Court could not see that
the English people and the English Government, though they might
once have been well suited to each other, were suited to each
other no longer; that the nation had outgrown its old
institutions, was every day more uneasy under them, was pressing
against them, and would soon burst through them. The alarming
phaenomena, the existence of which no sycophant could deny, were
ascribed to every cause except the true one. "In my first
Parliament," said James, "I was a novice. In my next, there was a
kind of beasts called undertakers" and so forth. In the third
Parliament he could hardly be called a novice, and those beasts,
the undertakers, did not exist. Yet his third Parliament gave
him more trouble than either the first or the second.

The Parliament had no sooner met than the House of Commons
proceeded, in a temperate and respectful, but most determined
manner, to discuss the public grievances. Their first attacks
were directed against those odious patents, under cover of which
Buckingham and his creatures had pillaged and oppressed the
nation. The vigour with which these proceedings were conducted
spread dismay through the Court. Buckingham thought himself in
danger, and, in his alarm, had recourse to an adviser who had
lately acquired considerable influence over him, Williams, Dean
of Westminster. This person had already been of great use to the
favourite in a very delicate matter. Buckingham had set his heart
on marrying Lady Catherine Manners, daughter and heiress of the
Earl of Rutland. But the difficulties were great. The Earl was
haughty and impracticable, and the young lady was a Catholic.
Williams soothed the pride of the father, and found arguments
which, for a time at least, quieted the conscience of the
daughter. For these services he had been rewarded with
considerable preferment in the Church; and he was now rapidly
rising to the same place in the regard of Buckingham which had
formerly been occupied by Bacon.

Williams was one of those who are wiser for others than for
themselves. His own public life was unfortunate, and was made
unfortunate by his strange want of judgment and self-command at
several important conjunctures. But the counsel which he gave on
this occasion showed no want of worldly wisdom. He advised the
favourite to abandon all thoughts of defending the monopolies, to
find some foreign embassy for his brother Sir Edward, who was
deeply implicated in the villanies of Mompesson, and to leave the
other offenders to the justice of Parliament. Buckingham received
this advice with the warmest expressions of gratitude, and
declared that a load had been lifted from his heart. He then
repaired with Williams to the royal presence. They found the King
engaged in earnest consultation with Prince Charles. The plan of
operations proposed by the Dean was fully discussed, and approved
in all its parts.

The first victims whom the Court abandoned to the vengeance of
the Commons were Sir Giles Mompesson and Sir Francis Michell. It
was some time before Bacon began to entertain any apprehensions.
His talents and his address gave him great influence in the House
of which he had lately become a member, as indeed they must have
done in any assembly. In the House of Commons he had many
personal friends and many warm admirers. But at length, about six
weeks after the meeting of Parliament, the storm burst.

A committee of the lower House had been appointed to inquire into
the state of the Courts of Justice. On the fifteenth of March the
chairman of that committee, Sir Robert Philips, member for Bath,
reported that great abuses had been discovered. "The person,"
said he, "against whom these things are alleged is no less than
the Lord Chancellor, a man so endued with all parts, both of
nature and art, as that I will say no more of him, being not able
to say enough." Sir Robert then proceeded to state, in the most
temperate manner, the nature of the charges. A person of the name
of Aubrey had a case depending in Chancery. He had been almost
ruined by law expenses, and his patience had been exhausted by
the delays of the court. He received a hint from some of the
hangers-on of the Chancellor that a present of one hundred pounds
would expedite matters. The poor man had not the sum required.
However, having found out an usurer who accommodated him with it
at high interest, he carried it to York House. The Chancellor
took the money, and his dependants assured the suitor that all
would go right. Aubrey was, however, disappointed; for, after
considerable delay, "a killing decree" was pronounced against
him. Another suitor of the name of Egerton complained that he had
been induced by two of the Chancellor's jackals to make his
Lordship a present of four hundred pounds, and that,
nevertheless, he had not been able to obtain a decree in his
favour. The evidence to these facts was overwhelming. Bacon's
friends could only entreat the House to suspend its judgment, and
to send up the case to the Lords, in a form less offensive than
an impeachment.

On the nineteenth of March the King sent a message to the
Commons, expressing his deep regret that so eminent a person as
the Chancellor should be suspected of misconduct. His Majesty
declared that he had no wish to screen the guilty from justice,
and proposed to appoint a new kind of tribunal consisting of
eighteen commissioners, who might be chosen from among the
members of the two Houses, to investigate the matter. The Commons
were not disposed to depart from their regular course of
proceeding. On the same day they held a conference with the
Lords, and delivered in the heads of the accusation against the
Chancellor. At this conference Bacon was not present. Overwhelmed
with shame and remorse, and abandoned by all those in whom he had
weakly put his trust, he had shut himself up in his chamber from
the eyes of men. The dejection of his mind soon disordered his
body. Buckingham, who visited him by the King's order, "found his
Lordship very sick and heavy." It appears, from a pathetic letter
which the unhappy man addressed to the Peers on the day of the
conference, that he neither expected nor wished to survive his
disgrace. During several days he remained in his bed, refusing to
see any human being. He passionately told his attendants to leave
him, to forget him, never again to name his name, never to
remember that there had been such a man in the world. In the
meantime, fresh instances of corruption were every day brought to
the knowledge of his accusers. The number of charges rapidly
increased from two to twenty-three. The Lords entered on the
investigation of the case with laudable alacrity. Some witnesses
were examined at the bar of the House. A select committee was
appointed to take the depositions of others; and the inquiry was
rapidly proceeding, when on the twenty-sixth of March, the King
adjourned the Parliament for three weeks.

This measure revived Bacon's hopes. He made the most of his short
respite. He attempted to work on the feeble mind of the King. He
appealed to all the strongest feelings of James, to his fears, to
his vanity, to his high notions of prerogative. Would the Solomon
of the age commit so gross an error as to encourage the
encroaching spirit of Parliaments? Would God's anointed,
accountable to God alone, pay homage to the clamorous multitude?
"Those," exclaimed Bacon, "who now strike at the Chancellor will
soon strike at the Crown. I am the first sacrifice. I wish I may
be the last." But all his eloquence and address were employed in
vain. Indeed, whatever Mr. Montagu may say, we are firmly
convinced that it was not in the King's power to save Bacon,
without having recourse to measures which would have convulsed
the realm. The Crown had not sufficient influence over the
Parliament to procure an acquittal in so clear a case of guilt.
And to dissolve a Parliament which is universally allowed to have
been one of the best Parliaments that ever sat, which had acted
liberally and respectfully towards the Sovereign, and which
enjoyed in the highest degree the favour of the people, only in
order to stop a grave, temperate, and constitutional inquiry into
the personal integrity of the first judge in the kingdom, would
have been a measure more scandalous and absurd than any of those
which were the ruin of the House of Stuart. Such a measure, while
it would have been as fatal to the Chancellor's honour as a
conviction, would have endangered the very existence of the
monarchy. The King, acting by the advice of Williams, very
properly refused to engage in a dangerous struggle with his
people, for the purpose of saving from legal condemnation a
Minister whom it was impossible to save from dishonour. He
advised Bacon to plead guilty, and promised to do all in his
power to mitigate the punishment. Mr. Montagu is exceedingly
angry with James on this account. But though we are, in general,
very little inclined to admire that Prince's conduct, we really
think that his advice was, under all the circumstances, the best
advice that could have been given.

On the seventeenth of April the Houses reassembled, and the Lords
resumed their inquiries into the abuses of the Court of Chancery.
On the twenty-second, Bacon addressed to the Peers a letter,
which the Prince of Wales condescended to deliver. In this artful
and pathetic composition, the Chancellor acknowledged his guilt
in guarded and general terms, and, while acknowledging,
endeavoured to palliate it. This, however, was not thought
sufficient by his judges. They required a more particular
confession, and sent him a copy of the charges. On the thirtieth,
he delivered a paper in which he admitted, with few and
unimportant reservations, the truth of the accusations brought
against him, and threw himself entirely on the mercy of his
peers. "Upon advised consideration of the charges," said he,
"descending into my own conscience, and calling my memory to
account so far as I am able, I do plainly and ingenuously confess
that I am guilty of corruption, and do renounce all defence."

The Lords came to a resolution that the Chancellor's confession
appeared to be full and ingenuous, and sent a committee to
inquire of him whether it was really subscribed by himself. The
deputies, among whom was Southampton, the common friend, many
years before, of Bacon and Essex, performed their duty with great
delicacy. Indeed, the agonies of such a mind and the degradation
of such a name might well have softened the most obdurate
natures. "My Lords," said Bacon, "it is my act, my hand, my
heart. I beseech your Lordships to be merciful to a broken reed."
They withdrew; and he again retired to his chamber in the deepest
dejection. The next day, the sergeant-at-arms and the usher of
the House of Lords came to conduct him to Westminster Hall, where
sentence was to be pronounced. But they found him so unwell that
he could not leave his bed; and this excuse for his absence was
readily accepted. In no quarter does there appear to have been
the smallest desire to add to his humiliation.

The sentence was, however, severe--the more severe, no doubt,
because the Lords knew that it would not be executed, and that
they had an excellent opportunity of exhibiting, at small cost,
the inflexibility of their justice, and their abhorrence of
corruption. Bacon was condemned to pay a fine of forty thousand
pounds, and to be imprisoned in the Tower during the King's
pleasure. He was declared incapable of holding any office in the
State or of sitting in Parliament: and he was banished for life
from the verge of the court. In such misery and shame ended that
long career of worldly wisdom and worldly prosperity.

Even at this pass Mr. Montagu does not desert his hero. He seems
indeed to think that the attachment of an editor ought to be as
devoted as that of Mr. Moore's lovers; and cannot conceive what
biography was made for,

                                   "if 'tis not the same
Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame."

He assures us that Bacon was innocent, that he had the means of
making a perfectly satisfactory defence, that when "he plainly
and ingenuously confessed that he was guilty of corruption," and
when he afterwards solemnly affirmed that his confession was "his
act, his hand, his heart," he was telling a great lie, and that
he refrained from bringing forward proofs of his innocence,
because he durst not disobey the King and the favourite, who, for
their own selfish objects, pressed him to plead guilty.

Now, in the first place, there is not the smallest reason to
believe that, if James and Buckingham had thought that Bacon had
a good defence, they would have prevented him from making it.
What conceivable motive had they for doing so? Mr. Montagu
perpetually repeats that it was their interest to sacrifice
Bacon. But he overlooks an obvious distinction. It was their
interest to sacrifice Bacon on the supposition of his guilt; but
not on the supposition of his innocence. James was very properly
unwilling to run the risk of protecting his Chancellor against
the Parliament. But if the Chancellor had been able, by force of
argument, to obtain an acquittal from the Parliament, we have no
doubt that both the King and Villiers would have heartily
rejoiced. They would have rejoiced, not merely on account of
their friendship for Bacon, which seems, however, to have been as
sincere as most friendships of that sort, but on selfish grounds.
Nothing could have strengthened the Government more than such a
victory. The King and the favourite abandoned the Chancellor
because they were unable to avert his disgrace, and unwilling to
share it. Mr. Montagu mistakes effect for cause. He thinks that
Bacon did not prove his innocence, because he was not supported
by the Court. The truth evidently is that the Court did not
venture to support Bacon, because he could not prove his

Again, it seems strange that Mr. Montagu should not perceive
that, while attempting to vindicate Bacon's reputation, he is
really casting on it the foulest of all aspersions. He imputes to
his idol a degree of meanness and depravity more loathsome than
judicial corruption itself. A corrupt judge may have many good
qualities. But a man who, to please a powerful patron, solemnly
declares himself guilty of corruption when he knows himself to be
innocent, must be a monster of servility and impudence. Bacon
was, to say nothing of his highest claims to respect, a
gentleman, a nobleman, a scholar, a statesman, a man of the first
consideration in society, a man far advanced in years. Is it
possible to believe that such a man would, to gratify any human
being, irreparably ruin his own character by his own act? Imagine
a grey-headed judge, full of years and honours, owning with
tears, with pathetic assurances of his penitence and of his
sincerity, that he has been guilty of shameful malpractices,
repeatedly asseverating the truth of his confession, subscribing
it with his own hand, submitting to conviction, receiving a
humiliating sentence and acknowledging its justice, and all this
when he has it in his power to show that his conduct has been
irreproachable! The thing is incredible. But if we admit it to be
true, what must we think of such a man, if indeed he deserves the
name of man, who thinks anything that kings and minions can
bestow more precious than honour, or anything that they can
inflict more terrible than infamy?

Of this most disgraceful imputation we fully acquit Bacon. He had
no defence; and Mr. Montagu's affectionate attempt to make a
defence for him has altogether failed.

The grounds on which Mr. Montagu rests the case are two: the
first, that the taking of presents was usual, and, what he seems
to consider as the same thing, not discreditable; the second,
that these presents were not taken as bribes.

Mr Montagu brings forward many facts in support of his first
proposition. He is not content with showing that many English
judges formerly received gifts from suitors, but collects similar
instances from foreign nations and ancient times. He goes back to
the commonwealths of Greece, and attempts to press into his
service a line of Homer and a sentence of Plutarch, which, we
fear, will hardly serve his turn. The gold of which Homer speaks
was not intended to fee the judges, but was paid into court for
the benefit of the successful litigant; and the gratuities which
Pericles, as Plutarch states, distributed among the members of
the Athenian tribunals, were legal wages paid out of the public
revenue. We can supply Mr. Montagu with passages much more in
point. Hesiod, who, like poor Aubrey, had a "killing decree "
made against him in the Chancery of Ascra, forgot decorum so far
that he ventured to designate the learned persons who presided in
that court, as Basileas dorophagous. Plutarch and Diodorus have
handed down to the latest ages the respectable name of Anytus,
the son of Anthemion, the first defendant who, eluding all the
safeguards which the ingenuity of Solon could devise, succeeded
in corrupting a bench of Athenian judges. We are indeed so far
from grudging Mr. Montagu the aid of Greece, that we will give
him Rome into the bargain. We acknowledge that the honourable
senators who tried Verres received presents which were worth more
than the fee-simple of York House and Gorhambury together, and
that the no less honourable senators and knights who professed to
believe in the alibi of Clodius obtained marks still more
extraordinary of the esteem and gratitude of the defendant. In
short, we are ready to admit that, before Bacon's time, and in
Bacon's time, judges were in the habit of receiving gifts from

But is this a defence? We think not. The robberies of Cacus and
Barabbas are no apology for those of Turpin. The conduct of the
two men of Belial who swore away the life of Naboth has never
been cited as an excuse for the perjuries of Oates and
Dangerfield. Mr. Montagu has confounded two things which it is
necessary carefully to distinguish from each other, if we wish to
form a correct judgment of the characters of men of other
countries and other times. That an immoral action is in a
particular society, generally considered as innocent, is a good
plea for an individual who, being one of that society, and having
adopted the notions which prevail among his neighbours, commits
that action. But the circumstance that a great many people are in
the habit of committing immoral actions is no plea at all. We
should think it unjust to call St. Louis a wicked man, because in
an age in which toleration was generally regarded as a sin, he
persecuted heretics. We should think it unjust to call Cowper's
friend, John Newton, a hypocrite and monster, because at a time
when the slave-trade was commonly considered by the most
respectable people as an innocent and beneficial traffic, he
went, largely provided with hymn-books and handcuffs, on a Guinea
voyage. But the circumstance that there are twenty thousand
thieves in London is no excuse for a fellow who is caught
breaking into a shop. No man is to be blamed for not making
discoveries in morality, for not finding out that something which
everybody else thinks to be good is really bad. But, if a man
does that which he and all around him know to be bad, it is no
excuse for him that many others have done the same. We should be
ashamed of spending so much time in pointing out so clear a
distinction, but that Mr. Montagu seems altogether to overlook

Now, to apply these principles to the case before us; let Mr.
Montagu prove that, in Bacon's age, the practices for which Bacon
was punished were generally considered as innocent, and we admit
that he has made out his point. But this we defy him to do. That
these practices were common we admit; but they were common just
as all wickedness to which there is strong temptation always was
and always will be common. They were common just as theft,
cheating, perjury, adultery have always been common. They were
common, not because people did not know what was right, but
because people liked to do what was wrong. They were common,
though prohibited by law. They were common, though condemned by
public opinion. They were common, because in that age law and
public opinion united had not sufficient force to restrain the
greediness of powerful and unprincipled magistrates. They were
common, as every crime will be common when the gain to which it
leads is great, and the chance of punishment small. But, though
common, they were universally allowed to be altogether
unjustifiable; they were in the highest degree odious; and,
though many were guilty of them, none had the audacity publicly
to avow and defend them.

We could give a thousand proofs that the opinion then entertained
concerning these practices was such as we have described. But we
will content ourselves with calling a single witness, honest Hugh
Latimer. His sermons, preached more than seventy years before the
inquiry into Bacon's conduct, abound with the sharpest invectives
against those very practices of which Bacon was guilty, and
which, as Mr. Montagu seems to think, nobody ever considered as
blamable till Bacon was punished for them. We could easily fill
twenty pages with the homely, but just and forcible rhetoric of
the brave old bishop. We shall select a few passages as fair
specimens, and no more than fair specimens, of the rest. "Omnes
diligunt munera. They all love bribes. Bribery is a princely kind
of thieving. They will be waged by the rich, either to give
sentence against the poor, or to put off the poor man's cause.
This is the noble theft of princes and magistrates. They are
bribe-takers. Nowadays they call them gentle rewards. Let them
leave their colouring, and call them by their Christian name--
bribes." And again. "Cambyses was a great emperor, such another
as our master is. He had many lord-deputies, lord-presidents, and
lieutenants under him. It is a great while ago since I read the
history. It chanced he had under him, in one of his dominions, a
briber, a gift-taker, a gratifier of rich men; he followed gifts
as fast as he that followed the pudding, a hand-maker in his
office to make his son a great man, as the old saying is: Happy
is the child whose father goeth to the devil. The cry of the poor
widow came to the emperor's ear, and caused him to flay the judge
quick, and laid his skin in the chair of judgment, that all
judges that should give judgment afterwards should sit in the
same skin. Surely it was a goodly sign, a goodly monument, the
sign of the judge's skin. I pray God we may once see the skin in
England." "I am sure," says he, in another sermon, "this is scala
inferni, the right way to hell, to be covetous, to take bribes,
and pervert justice. If a judge should ask me the way to hell, I
would show him this way. First, let him be a covetous man; let
his heart be poisoned with covetousness. Then let him go a little
further, and take bribes; and, lastly, pervert judgment. Lo, here
is the mother, and the daughter, and the daughter's daughter.
Avarice is the mother: she brings forth bribe-taking, and bribe-
taking perverting of judgment. There lacks a fourth thing to make
up the mess, which, so help me God, if I were judge, should be
hangum tuum, a Tyburn tippet to take with him; an it were the
judge of the King's Bench, my Lord Chief Judge of England, yea,
an it were my Lord Chancellor himself, to Tyburn with him." We
will quote but one more passage. "He that took the silver basin
and ewer for a bribe, thinketh that it will never come out.
But he may now know that I know it, and I know it not alone;
there be more beside me that know it. Oh, briber and bribery!
He was never a good man that will so take bribes. Nor can I
believe that he that is a briber will be a good justice. It
will never be merry in England till we have the skins of such.
For what needeth bribing where men do their things uprightly?"

This was not the language of a great philosopher who had made new
discoveries in moral and political science. It was the plain talk
of a plain man, who sprang from the body of the people, who
sympathised strongly with their wants and their feelings, and who
boldly uttered their opinions. It was on account of the fearless
way in which stout-hearted old Hugh exposed the misdeeds of men
in ermine tippets and gold collars, that the Londoners cheered
him, as he walked down the Strand to preach at Whitehall,
struggled for a touch of his gown, and bawled, "Have at them,
Father Latimer!" It is plain, from the passages which we have
quoted, and from fifty others which we might quote, that, long
before Bacon was born, the accepting of presents by a judge was
known to be a wicked and shameful act, that the fine words under
which it was the fashion to veil such corrupt practices were even
then seen through by the common people, that the distinction on
which Mr. Montagu insists between compliments and bribes was even
then laughed at as a mere colouring. There may be some oratorical
exaggeration in what Latimer says about the Tyburn tippet and the
sign of the judge's skin; but the fact that he ventured to use
such expressions is amply sufficient to prove that the gift-
taking judges, the receivers of silver basins and ewers, were
regarded as such pests of the commonwealth that a venerable
divine might, without any breach of Christian charity, publicly
pray to God for their detection and their condign punishment.

Mr. Montagu tells us, most justly, that we ought not to transfer
the opinions of our age to a former age. But he has himself
committed a greater error than that against which he has
cautioned his readers. Without any evidence, nay, in the face of
the strongest evidence, he ascribes to the people of a former age
a set of opinions which no people ever held. But any hypothesis
is in his view more probable than that Bacon should have been a
dishonest man. We firmly believe that, if papers were to be
discovered which should irresistibly prove that Bacon was
concerned in the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury, Mr. Montagu
would tell us that, at the beginning of the seventeenth century,
it was not thought improper in a man to put arsenic into the
broth of his friends, and that we ought to blame, not Bacon, but
the age in which he lived.

But why should we have recourse to any other evidence, when the
proceeding against Lord Bacon is itself the best evidence on the
subject? When Mr. Montagu tells us that we ought not to transfer
the opinions of our age to Bacon's age, he appears altogether to
forget that it was by men of Bacon's own age, that Bacon was
prosecuted, tried, convicted, and sentenced. Did not they know
what their own opinions were? Did not they know whether they
thought the taking of gifts by a judge a crime or not? Mr.
Montagu complains bitterly that Bacon was induced to abstain from
making a defence. But, if Bacon's defence resembled that which is
made for him in the volume before us, it would have been
unnecessary to trouble the Houses with it. The Lords and Commons
did not want Bacon to tell them the thoughts of their own hearts,
to inform them that they did not consider such practices as those
in which they had detected him as at all culpable. Mr. Montagu's
proposition may indeed be fairly stated thus:--It was very hard
that Bacon's contemporaries should think it wrong in him to do
what they did not think it wrong in him to do. Hard indeed; and
withal somewhat improbable. Will any person say that the Commons
who impeached Bacon for taking presents, and the Lords who
sentenced him to fine, imprisonment, and degradation for taking
presents, did not know that the taking of presents was a crime?
Or, will any person say that Bacon did not know what the whole
House of Commons and the whole House of Lords knew? Nobody who is
not prepared to maintain one of these absurd propositions can
deny that Bacon committed what he knew to be a crime.

It cannot be pretended that the Houses were seeking occasion to
ruin Bacon, and that they therefore brought him to punishment on
charges which they themselves knew to be frivolous. In no quarter
was there the faintest indication of a disposition to treat him
harshly. Through the whole proceeding there was no symptom of
personal animosity or of factious violence in either House.
Indeed, we will venture to say that no State-Trial in our History
is more creditable to all who took part in it, either as
prosecutors or judges. The decency, the gravity, the public
spirit, the justice moderated but not unnerved by compassion,
which appeared in every part of the transaction, would do honour
to the most respectable public men of our own times. The
accusers, while they discharged their duty to their constituents
by bringing the misdeeds of the Chancellor to light, spoke with
admiration of his many eminent qualities. The Lords, while
condemning him, complimented him on the ingenuousness of his
confession, and spared him the humiliation of a public appearance
at their bar. So strong was the contagion of good feeling that
even Sir Edward Coke, for the first time in his life, behaved
like a gentleman. No criminal ever had more temperate prosecutors
than Bacon. No criminal ever had more favourable judges. If he
was convicted, it was because it was impossible to acquit him
without offering the grossest outrage to justice and common

Mr. Montagu's other argument, namely, that Bacon, though he took
gifts, did not take bribes, seems to us as futile as that which
we have considered. Indeed, we might be content to leave it to be
answered by the plainest man among our readers. Demosthenes
noticed it with contempt more than two thousand years ago.
Latimer, we have seen, treated this sophistry with similar
disdain. "Leave colouring," said he, "and call these things by
their Christian name, bribes." Mr. Montagu attempts, somewhat
unfairly, we must say, to represent the presents which Bacon
received as similar to the perquisites which suitors paid to the
members of the Parliaments of France. The French magistrate had a
legal right to his fee; and the amount of the fee was regulated
by law. Whether this be a good mode of remunerating judges is not
the question. But what analogy is there between payments of this
sort, and the presents which Bacon received, presents which were
not sanctioned by the law, which were not made under the public
eye, and of which the amount was regulated only by private
bargain between the magistrate and the suitor?

Again, it is mere trifling to say that Bacon could not have meant
to act corruptly, because he employed the agency of men of rank,
of bishops, privy councillors, and members of Parliament; as if
the whole history of that generation was not full of the low
actions of high people; as if it was not notorious that men, as
exalted in rank as any of the decoys that Bacon employed, had
pimped for Somerset, and poisoned Overbury.

But, says Mr. Montagu, these presents "were made openly and with
the greatest publicity." This would indeed be a strong argument
in favour of Bacon. But we deny the fact. In one, and one only,
of the cases in which Bacon was accused of corruptly receiving
gifts, does he appear to have received a gift publicly. This was
in a matter depending between the Company of Apothecaries and the
Company of Grocers. Bacon, in his Confession, insisted strongly
on the circumstance that he had on this occasion taken a present
publicly, as a proof that he had not taken it corruptly. Is it
not clear that, if he had taken the presents mentioned in the
other charges in the same public manner, he would have dwelt on
this point in his answer to those charges? The fact that he
insists so strongly on the publicity of one particular present is
of itself sufficient to prove that the other presents were not
publicly taken. Why he took this present publicly and the rest
secretly, is evident. He on that occasion acted openly, because
he was acting honestly. He was not on that occasion sitting
judicially. He was called in to effect an amicable arrangement
between two parties. Both were satisfied with his decision. Both
joined in making him a present in return for his trouble. Whether
it was quite delicate in a man of his rank to accept a present
under such circumstances, may be questioned. But there is no
ground in this case for accusing him of corruption.

Unhappily, the very circumstances which prove him to have been
innocent in this case prove him to have been guilty on the other
charges. Once, and once only, he alleges that he received a
present publicly. The natural inference is that in all the other
cases mentioned in the articles against him he received presents
secretly. When we examine the single case in which he alleges
that he received a present publicly, we find that it is also the
single case in which there was no gross impropriety in his
receiving a present. Is it then possible to doubt that his reason
for not receiving other presents in as public a manner was that
he knew that it was wrong to receive them?

One argument still remains, plausible in appearance, but
admitting of easy and complete refutation. The two chief
complainants, Aubrey and Egerton, had both made presents to the
Chancellor. But he had decided against them both. Therefore, he
had not received those presents as bribes. "The complaints of his
accusers were," says Mr. Montagu, "not that the gratuities had,
but that they had not influenced Bacon's judgment, as he had
decided against them."

The truth is, that it is precisely in this way that an extensive
system of corruption is generally detected. A person who, by a
bribe, has procured a decree in his favour, is by no means likely
to come forward of his own accord as an accuser. He is content.
He has his quid pro quo. He is not impelled either by interested
or by vindictive motives to bring the transaction before the
public. On the contrary, he has almost as strong motives for
holding his tongue as the judge himself can have. But when a
judge practises corruption, as we fear that Bacon practised it,
on a large scale, and has many agents looking out in different
quarters for prey, it will sometimes happen that he will be
bribed on both sides. It will sometimes happen that he will
receive money from suitors who are so obviously in the wrong that
he cannot with decency do anything to serve them. Thus he will
now and then be forced to pronounce against a person from whom he
has received a present; and he makes that person a deadly enemy.
The hundreds who have got what they paid for remain quiet. It is
the two or three who have paid, and have nothing to show for
their money, who are noisy.

The memorable case of the Goezmans is an example of this.
Beaumarchais had an important suit depending before the
Parliament of Paris. M. Goezman was the judge on whom chiefly the
decision depended. It was hinted to Beaumarchais that Madame
Goezman might be propitiated by a present. He accordingly offered
a purse of gold to the lady, who received it graciously. There
can be no doubt that, if the decision of the court had been
favourable to him, these things would never have been known to
the world. But he lost his cause. Almost the whole sum which he
had expended in bribery was immediately refunded; and those who
had disappointed him probably thought that he would not, for the
mere gratification of his malevolence, make public a transaction
which was discreditable to himself as well as to them. They knew
little of him. He soon taught them to curse the day in which they
had dared to trifle with a man of so revengeful and turbulent a
spirit, of such dauntless effrontery, and of such eminent talents
for controversy and satire. He compelled the Parliament to put a
degrading stigma on M. Goezman. He drove Madame Goezman to a
convent. Till it was too late to pause, his excited passions did
not suffer him to remember that he could effect their ruin only
by disclosures ruinous to himself. We could give other instances.
But it is needless. No person well acquainted with human nature
can fail to perceive that, if the doctrine for which Mr. Montagu
contends were admitted, society would be deprived of almost the
only chance which it has of detecting the corrupt practices of

We return to our narrative. The sentence of Bacon had scarcely
been pronounced when it was mitigated. He was indeed sent to the
Tower. But this was merely a form. In two days he was set at
liberty, and soon after he retired to Gorhambury. His fine was
speedily released by the Crown.

He was next suffered to present himself at Court; and at length,
in 1624, the rest of his punishment was remitted. He was now at
liberty to resume his seat in the House of Lords, and he was
actually summoned to the next Parliament. But age, infirmity, and
perhaps shame, prevented him from attending. The Government
allowed him a pension of twelve hundred pounds a year; and his
whole annual income is estimated by Mr. Montagu at two thousand
five hundred pounds, a sum which. was probably above the average
income of a nobleman of that generation, and which was certainly
sufficient for comfort and even for splendour. Unhappily, Bacon
was fond of display, and unused to pay minute attention to
domestic affairs. He was not easily persuaded to give up any part
of the magnificence to which he had been accustomed in the time
of his power and prosperity. No pressure of distress could induce
him to part with the woods of Gorhambury. "I will not," he said,
"be stripped of my feathers." He travelled with so splendid an
equipage and so large a retinue that Prince Charles, who once
fell in with him on the road, exclaimed with surprise, "Well; do
what we can, this man scorns to go out in snuff." This
carelessness and ostentation reduced Bacon to frequent distress.
He was under the necessity of parting with York House, and of
taking up his residence, during his visits to London, at his old
chambers in Gray's Inn. He had other vexations, the exact nature
of which is unknown. It is evident from his will that some part
of his wife's conduct had greatly disturbed and irritated him.

But, whatever might be his pecuniary difficulties or his conjugal
discomforts, the powers of his intellect still remained
undiminished. Those noble studies for which he had found leisure
in the midst of professional drudgery and of courtly intrigues
gave to this last sad stage of his life a dignity beyond what
power or titles could bestow. Impeached, convicted, sentenced,
driven with ignominy from the presence of his Sovereign, shut out
from the deliberations of his fellow nobles, loaded with debt,
branded with dishonour, sinking under the weight of years,
sorrows, and diseases, Bacon was Bacon still. "My conceit of his
person," says Ben Jonson very finely, "was never increased
towards him by his place or honours; but I have and do reverence
him for the greatness that was only proper to himself; in that he
seemed to me ever, by his work, one of the greatest men and most
worthy of admiration, that had been in many ages. In his
adversity I ever prayed that God would give him strength; for
greatness he could not want."

The services which Bacon rendered to letters during the last five
years of his life, amidst ten thousand distractions and
vexations, increase the regret with which we think on the many
years which he had wasted, to use the words of Sir Thomas Bodley,
"on such study as was not worthy of such a student." He commenced
a Digest of the Laws of England, a History of England under the
Princes of the House of Tudor, a body of Natural History, a
Philosophical Romance. He made extensive and valuable additions
to his Essays. He published the inestimable Treatise De Augmentis
Scientiarum. The very trifles with which he amused himself in
hours of pain and languor bore the mark of his mind. The best
collection of jests in the world is that which he dictated from
memory, without referring to any book, on a day on which illness
had rendered him incapable of serious study.

The great apostle of experimental philosophy was destined to be
its martyr. It had occurred to him that snow might be used with
advantage for the purpose of preventing animal substances from
putrefying. On a very cold day, early in the spring of the year
1626, he alighted from his coach near Highgate, in order to try
the experiment. He went into a cottage, bought a fowl, and with
his own hands stuffed it with snow. While thus engaged he felt a
sudden chill, and was soon so much indisposed that it was
impossible for him to return to Gray's Inn. The Earl of Arundel,
with whom he was well acquainted, had a house at Highgate. To
that house Bacon was carried. The Earl was absent; but the
servants who were in charge of the place showed great respect and
attention to the illustrious guest. Here, after an illness of
about a week, he expired early on the morning of Easter-day,
1626. His mind appears to have retained its strength and
liveliness to the end. He did not forget the fowl which had
caused his death. In the last letter that he ever wrote, with
fingers which, as he said, could not steadily hold a pen, he did
not omit to mention that the experiment of the snow had succeeded
"excellently well."

Our opinion of the moral character of this great man has already
been sufficiently explained. Had his life been passed in literary
retirement, he would, in all probability, have deserved to be
considered, not only as a great philosopher, but as a worthy and
good-natured member of society. But neither his principles nor
his spirit were such as could be trusted, when strong temptations
were to be resisted, and serious dangers to be braved.

In his will he expressed with singular brevity, energy, dignity,
and pathos, a mournful consciousness that his actions had not
been such as to entitle him to the esteem of those under whose
observation his life had been passed, and, at the same time, a
proud confidence that his writings had secured for him a high and
permanent place among the benefactors of mankind. So at least we
understand those striking words which have been often quoted, but
which we must quote once more. "For my name and memory, I leave
it to men's charitable speeches, and to foreign nations, and to
the next age."

His confidence was just. From the day of his death his fame has
been constantly and steadily progressive; and we have no doubt
that his name will be named with reverence to the latest ages,
and to the remotest ends of the civilised world.

The chief peculiarity of Bacon's philosophy seems to us to have
been this, that it aimed at things altogether different from
those which his predecessors had proposed to themselves. This was
his own opinion. " Finis scientiarum," says he, "a nemine adhuc
bene positus est."[Novum Organum, Lib. i. Aph. 81.] And again,
"Omnium gravissimus error in deviatione ab ultimo doctrinarum
fine consistit." [De Augmentis, Lib. i.] " Nec ipsa meta," says
he elsewhere, "adhuc ulli, quod sciam, mortalium posita est et
defixa."[Cogitata et visa.] The more carefully his works are
examined, the more clearly, we think, it will appear that this is
the real clue to his whole system, and that he used means
different from those used by other philosophers, because he
wished to arrive at an end altogether different from theirs.

What then was the end which Bacon proposed to himself? It was, to
use his own emphatic expression, "fruit." It was the multiplying
of human enjoyments and the mitigating of human sufferings. It
was "the relief of man's estate." [Advancement of Learning, Book
i.] It was "commodis humanis inservire." [De Augmentis, Lib. vii.
Cap. i.] It was "efficaciter operari ad sublevanda vitae humanae
incommoda." [Ib., Lib. ii. Cap. ii.] It was "dotare vitam humanam
novis inventis et copiis." [Novum Organum, Lib. i., Aph. 81.] It
was "genus humanum novis operibus et potestatibus continuo
dotare." [Cogitata et visa.] This was the object of all his
speculations in every department of science, in natural
philosophy, in legislation, in politics, in morals.

Two words form the key of the Baconian doctrine, Utility and
Progress. The ancient philosophy disdained to be useful, and was
content to be stationary. It dealt largely in theories of moral
perfection, which were so sublime that they never could be more
than theories; in attempts to solve insoluble enigmas; in
exhortations to the attainment of unattainable frames of mind. It
could not condescend to the humble office of ministering to the
comfort of human beings. All the schools contemned that office as
degrading; some censured it as immoral. Once indeed Posidonius, a
distinguished writer of the age of Cicero and Caesar, so far
forgot himself as to enumerate, among the humbler blessings which
mankind owed to philosophy, the discovery of the principle of the
arch, and the introduction of the use of metals. This eulogy was
considered as an affront, and was taken up with proper spirit.
Seneca vehemently disclaims these insulting compliments. [Seneca,
Epist. 90.] Philosophy, according to him, has nothing to do with
teaching men to rear arched roofs over their heads. The true
philosopher does not care whether he has an arched roof or any
roof, Philosophy has nothing to do with teaching men the uses of
metals. She teaches us to be independent of all material
substances, of all mechanical contrivances. The wise man lives
according to nature. Instead of attempting to add to the physical
comforts of his species, he regrets that his lot was not cast in
that golden age when the human race had no protection against the
cold but the skins of wild beasts, no screen from the sun but a
cavern. To impute to such a man any share in the invention or
improvement of a plough, a ship, or a mill is an insult. "In my
own time," says Seneca, "there have been inventions of this sort,
transparent windows, tubes for diffusing warmth equally through
all parts of a building, shorthand, which has been carried to
such a perfection that a writer can keep pace with the most rapid
speaker. But the inventing of such things is drudgery for the
lowest slaves; philosophy lies deeper. It is not her office to
teach men how to use their hands. The object of her lessons is to
form the soul. Non est, inquam, instrumentorum ad usus
necessarios opifex." If the non were left out, this last sentence
would be no bad description of the Baconian philosophy, and
would, indeed, very much resemble several expressions in the
Novum Organum. "We shall next be told," exclaims Seneca, "that
the first shoemaker was a philosopher." For our own part, if we
are forced to make our choice between the first shoemaker and the
author of the three books "On Anger," we pronounce for the
shoemaker. It may be worse to be angry than to be wet. But shoes
have kept millions from being wet; and we doubt whether Seneca
ever kept anybody from being angry.

It is very reluctantly that Seneca can be brought to confess that
any philosopher had ever paid the smallest attention to anything
that could possibly promote what vulgar people would consider as
the well-being of mankind. He labours to clear Democritus from
the disgraceful imputation of having made the first arch, and
Anacharsis from the charge of having contrived the potter's
wheel. He is forced to own that such a thing might happen; and it
may also happen, he tells us, that a philosopher may be swift of
foot. But it is not in his character of philosopher that he
either wins a race or invents a machine. No, to be sure. The
business of a philosopher was to declaim in praise of poverty
with two millions sterling out at usury, to meditate epigrammatic
conceits about the evils of luxury, in gardens which moved the
envy of sovereigns, to rant about liberty, while fawning on the
insolent and pampered freedmen of a tyrant, to celebrate the
divine beauty of virtue with the same pen which had just before
written a defence of the murder of a mother by a son.

From the cant of this philosophy, a philosophy meanly proud of
its own unprofitableness, it is delightful to turn to the lessons
of the great English teacher. We can almost forgive all the
faults of Bacon's life when we read that singularly graceful and
dignified passage: "Ego certe, ut de me ipso, quod res est,
loquar, et in iis quae nunc edo, et in iis quae in posterum
meditor, dignitatem ingenii et nominis mei, si qua sit, saepius
sciens et volens projicio, dum commodis humanis inserviam; quique
architectus fortasse in philosophia et scientiis esse debeam,
etiam operarius, et bajulus, et quidvis demum fio, cum haud pauca
quae omnino fieri necesse sit, alii autem ob innatum superbiam
subterfugiant, ipsi sustineam et exsequar." [De Augmentis, Lib.
vii. Cap. i.] This philanthropia, which, as he said in one of the
most remarkable of his early letters, "was so fixed in his mind,
as it could not be removed," this majestic humility, this
persuasion that nothing can be too insignificant for the
attention of the wisest, which is not too insignificant to give
pleasure or pain to the meanest, is the great characteristic
distinction, the essential spirit of the Baconian philosophy. We
trace it in all that Bacon has written on Physics, on Laws, on
Morals. And we conceive that from this peculiarity all the other
peculiarities of his system directly and almost necessarily

The spirit which appears in the passage of Seneca to which we
have referred tainted the whole body of the ancient philosophy
from the time of Socrates downwards, and took possession of
intellects with which that of Seneca cannot for a moment be
compared. It pervades the dialogues of Plato. It may be
distinctly traced in many parts of the works of Aristotle. Bacon
has dropped hints from which it may be inferred that, in his
opinion, the prevalence of this feeling was in a great measure to
be attributed to the influence of Socrates. Our great countryman
evidently did not consider the revolution which Socrates effected
in philosophy as a happy event, and constantly maintained that
the earlier Greek speculators, Democritus in particular, were, on
the whole, superior to their more celebrated successors. [Novum
Organum, Lib. i. Aph. 71, 79. De Augmentis, Lib. iii. Cap. iv. De
principiis, atque originibus. Cogitata et visa. Redargutio

Assuredly if the tree which Socrates planted and Plato watered is
to be judged of by its flowers and leaves, it is the noblest of
trees. But if we take the homely test of Bacon, if we judge of
the tree by its fruits, our opinion of it may perhaps be less
favourable. When we sum up all the useful truths which we owe to
that philosophy, to what do they amount? We find, indeed,
abundant proofs that some of those who cultivated it were men of
the first order of intellect. We find among their writings
incomparable specimens both of dialectical and rhetorical art. We
have no doubt that the ancient controversies were of use, in so
far as they served to exercise the faculties of the disputants;
for there is no controversy so idle that it may not be of use in
this way. But, when we look for something more, for something
which adds to the comforts or alleviates the calamities of the
human race, we are forced to own ourselves disappointed. We are
forced to say with Bacon that this celebrated philosophy ended in
nothing but disputation, that it was neither a vineyard nor an
olive-ground, but an intricate wood of briars and thistles, from
which those who lost themselves in it brought back many scratches
and no food. [Novum Organum, Lib. i. Aph. 73.]

We readily acknowledge that some of the teachers of this
unfruitful wisdom were among the greatest men that the world has
ever seen. If we admit the justice of Bacon's censure, we admit
it with regret, similar to that which Dante felt when he learned
the fate of those illustrious heathens who were doomed to the
first circle of Hell:

"Gran duol mi prese al cuor quando lo 'ntesi,
Perocche gente di molto valore
Conobbi che 'n quel limbo eran sospesi."

But in truth the very admiration which we feel for the eminent
philosophers of antiquity forces us to adopt the opinion that
their powers were systematically misdirected. For how else could
it be that such powers should effect so little for mankind? A
pedestrian may show as much muscular vigour on a treadmill as on
the highway road. But on the road his vigour will assuredly carry
him forward; and on the treadmill he will not advance an inch.
The ancient philosophy was a treadmill, not a path. It was made
up of revolving questions, of controversies which were always
beginning again. It was a contrivance for having much exertion
and no progress. We must acknowledge that more than once, while
contemplating the doctrines of the Academy and the Portico, even
as they appear in the transparent splendour of Cicero's
incomparable diction, we have been tempted to mutter with the
surly centurion in Persius, "Cur quis non prandeat hoc est?"
What is the highest good, whether pain be an evil, whether all
things be fated, whether we can be certain of anything, whether
we can be certain that we are certain of nothing, whether a wise
man can be unhappy, whether all departures from right be equally
reprehensible; these, and other questions of the same sort,
occupied the brains, the tongues, and the pens of the ablest men
in the civilised world during several centuries. This sort of
philosophy, it is evident, could not be progressive. It might
indeed sharpen and invigorate the minds of those who devoted
themselves to it; and so might the disputes of the orthodox
Lilliputians and the heretical Blefuscudians about the big ends
and the little ends of eggs. But such disputes could add nothing
to the stock of knowledge. The human mind accordingly, instead of
marching, merely marked time. It took as much trouble as would
have sufficed to carry it forward; and yet remained on the same
spot. There was no accumulation of truth, no heritage of truth
acquired by the labour of one generation and bequeathed to
another, to be again transmitted with large additions to a third.
Where this philosophy was in the time of Cicero, there it
continued to be in the time of Seneca, and there it continued to
be in the time of Favorinus. The same sects were still battling
with the same unsatisfactory arguments, about the same
interminable questions. There had been no want of ingenuity, of
zeal, of industry. Every trace of intellectual cultivation was
there, except a harvest. There had been plenty of ploughing,
harrowing, reaping, threshing. But the garners contained only
smut and stubble.

The ancient philosophers did not neglect natural science but they
did not cultivate it for the purpose of increasing the power and
ameliorating the condition of man. The taint of barrenness had
spread from ethical to physical speculations. Seneca wrote
largely on natural philosophy, and magnified the importance of
that study. But why? Not because it tended to assuage suffering,
to multiply the conveniences of life, to extend the empire of man
over the material world; but solely because it tended to raise
the mind above low cares, to separate it from the body, to
exercise its subtilty in the solution of very obscure
questions.[Seneca, Nat. Quaest. praef. Lib. iii.] Thus natural
philosophy was considered in the light merely of a mental
exercise. It was made subsidiary to the art of disputation; and
it consequently proved altogether barren of useful discoveries.

There was one sect which, however absurd and pernicious some of
its doctrines may have been, ought, it should seem, to have
merited an exception from the general censure which Bacon has
pronounced on the ancient schools of wisdom. The Epicurean, who
referred all happiness to bodily pleasure, and all evil to bodily
pain, might have been expected to exert himself for the purpose
of bettering his own physical condition and that of his
neighbours. But the thought seems never to have occurred to any
member of that school. Indeed their notion, as reported by their
great poet, was, that no more improvements were to be expected in
the arts which conduce to the comfort of life.

        "Ad victum quae flagitat usus
Omnia jam ferme mortalibus esse parata."

This contented despondency, this disposition to admire what has
been done, and to expect that nothing more will be done, is
strongly characteristic of all the schools which preceded the
school of Fruit and Progress. Widely as the Epicurean and the
Stoic differed on most points, they seem to have quite agreed in
their contempt for pursuits so vulgar as to be useful. The
philosophy of both was a garrulous, declaiming, canting,
wrangling philosophy. Century after century they continued to
repeat their hostile war-cries, Virtue and Pleasure; and in the
end it appeared that the Epicurean had added as little to the
quantity of pleasure as the Stoic to the quantity of virtue.

It is on the pedestal of Bacon, not on that of Epicurus, that
those noble lines ought to be inscribed

"0 tenebris tantis tam clarum extollere lumen
Qui primus potuisti, illustrans commoda vitae."

In the fifth century Christianity had conquered Paganism, and
Paganism had infected Christianity. The Church was now victorious
and corrupt. The rites of the Pantheon had passed into her
worship, the subtilties of the Academy into her creed. In an evil
day, though with great pomp and solemnity,--we quote the language
of Bacon,--was the ill-starred alliance stricken between the old
philosophy and the new faith. [Cogitata et visa.] Questions
different from those which had employed the ingenuity of Pyrrho
and Carneades, but just as subtle, just as interminable, and just
as unprofitable, exercised the minds of the lively and voluble
Greeks. When learning began to revive in the West, similar
trifles occupied the sharp and vigorous intellects of the
Schoolmen. There was another sowing of the wind, and another
reaping of the whirlwind. The great work of improving the
condition of the human race was still considered as unworthy of a
man of learning. Those who undertook that task, if what they
effected could be readily comprehended, were despised as
mechanics; if not, they were in danger of being burned as

There cannot be a stronger proof of the degree in which the human
mind had been misdirected than the history of the two greatest
events which took place during the middle ages. We speak of the
invention of Gunpowder and of the invention of Printing. The
dates of both are unknown. The authors of both are unknown. Nor
was this because men were too rude and ignorant to value
intellectual superiority. The inventor of gunpowder appears to
have been contemporary with Petrarch and Boccaccio. The inventor
of printing was certainly contemporary with Nicholas the Fifth,
with Cosmo de' Medici, and with a crowd of distinguished
scholars. But the human mind still retained that fatal bent which
it had received two thousand years earlier. George of Trebisond
and Marsilio Ficino would not easily have been brought to believe
that the inventor of the printing-press had done more for mankind
than themselves, or than those ancient writers of whom they were
the enthusiastic votaries.

At length the time arrived when the barren philosophy which had,
during so many ages, employed the faculties of the ablest of men,
was destined to fall. It had worn many shapes. It had mingled
itself with many creeds. It had survived revolutions in which
empires, religions, languages, races, had perished. Driven from
its ancient haunts, it had taken sanctuary in that Church which
it had persecuted, and had, like the daring fiends of the poet,
placed its seat

                       "next the seat of God,
And with its darkness dared affront his light."

Words, and more words, and nothing but words, had been all the
fruit of all the toil of all the most renowned sages of sixty
generations. But the days of this sterile exuberance were

Many causes predisposed the public mind to a change. The study of
a great variety of ancient writers, though it did not give a
right direction to philosophical research, did much towards
destroying that blind reverence for authority which had prevailed
when Aristotle ruled alone. The rise of the Florentine sect of
Platonists, a sect to which belonged some of the finest minds of
the fifteenth century, was not an unimportant event. The mere
substitution of the Academic for the Peripatetic philosophy would
indeed have done little good. But anything was better than the
old habit of unreasoning servility. It was something to have a
choice of tyrants. "A spark of freedom," as Gibbon has justly
remarked, "was produced by this collision of adverse servitude."

Other causes might be mentioned. But it is chiefly to the great
reformation of religion that we owe the great reformation of
philosophy. The alliance between the Schools and the Vatican had
for ages been so close that those who threw off the dominion of
the Vatican could not continue to recognise the authority of the
Schools. Most of the chiefs of the schism treated the Peripatetic
philosophy with contempt, and spoke of Aristotle as if Aristotle
had been answerable for all the dogmas of Thomas Aquinas. "Nullo
apud Lutheranos philosophiam esse in pretio," was a reproach
which the defenders of the Church of Rome loudly repeated, and
which many of the Protestant leaders considered as a compliment.
Scarcely any text was more frequently cited by the reformers than
that in which St. Paul cautions the Colossians not to let any man
spoil them by philosophy. Luther, almost at the outset of his
career, went so far as to declare that no man could be at once a
proficient in the school of Aristotle and in that of Christ.
Zwingle, Bucer, Peter Martyr, Calvin, held similar language. In
some of the Scotch universities, the Aristotelian system was
discarded for that of Ramus. Thus, before the birth of Bacon, the
empire of the scholastic philosophy had been shaken to its
foundations. There was in the intellectual world an anarchy
resembling that which in the political world often follows the
overthrow of an old and deeply rooted Government. Antiquity,
prescription, the sound of great names, have ceased to awe
mankind. The dynasty which had reigned for ages was at an end;
and the vacant throne was left to be struggled for by pretenders.

The first effect of this great revolution was, as Bacon most
justly observed, [De Augmentis, Lib. i.] to give for a time an
undue importance to the mere graces of style. The new breed of
scholars, the Aschams and Buchanans, nourished with the finest
compositions of the Augustan age, regarded with loathing the dry,
crabbed, and barbarous diction of respondents and opponents. They
were far less studious about the matter of their writing than
about the manner. They succeeded in reforming Latinity; but they
never even aspired to effect a reform in Philosophy.

At this time Bacon appeared. It is altogether incorrect to say,
as has often been said, that he was the first man who rose up
against the Aristotelian philosophy when in the height of his
power. The authority of that philosophy had, as we have shown,
received a fatal blow long before he was born. Several
speculators, among whom Ramus is the best known, had recently
attempted to form new sects. Bacon's own expressions about the
state of public opinion in the time of Luther are clear and
strong: "Accedebat," says he, "odium et contemptus, illis ipsis
temporibus ortus erga Scholasticos." And again, "Scholasticorum
doctrina despectui prorsus haberi coepit tanquam aspera et
barbara." [Both these passages are in the first book of the De
Augmentis.] The part which Bacon played in this great change was
the part, not of Robespierre, but of Bonaparte. The ancient order
of things had been subverted. Some bigots still cherished with
devoted loyalty the remembrance of the fallen monarchy, and
exerted themselves to effect a restoration. But the majority had
no such feeling. Freed, yet not knowing how to use their freedom,
they pursued no determinate course, and had found no leader
capable of conducting them.

That leader at length arose. The philosophy which he taught was
essentially new. It differed from that of the celebrated ancient
teachers, not merely in method, but also in object. Its object
was the good of mankind, in the sense in which the mass of
mankind always have understood and always will understand the
word good. "Meditor," said Bacon, "instaurationem philosophiae
ejusmodi quae nihil inanis aut abstracti habeat, quaeque vitae
humanae conditiones in melius provehat." [Redargutio

The difference between the philosophy of Bacon and that of his
predecessors cannot, we think, be better illustrated than by
comparing his views on some important subjects with those of
Plato. We select Plato, because we conceive that he did more than
any other person towards giving to the minds of speculative men
that bent which they retained till they received from Bacon a new
impulse in a diametrically opposite direction.

It is curious to observe how differently these great men
estimated the value of every kind of knowledge. Take Arithmetic
for example. Plato, after speaking slightly of the convenience of
being able to reckon and compute in the ordinary transactions of
life, passes to what he considers as a far more important
advantage. The study of the properties of numbers, he tells us,
habituates the mind to the contemplation of pure truth, and
raises us above the material universe. He would have his
disciples apply themselves to this study, not that they may be
able to buy or sell, not that they may qualify themselves to be
shopkeepers or travelling merchants, but that they may learn to
withdraw their minds from the ever-shifting spectacle of this
visible and tangible world, and to fix them on the immutable
essences of things. [Plato's Republic, Book vii.]

Bacon, on the other hand, valued this branch of knowledge, only
on account of its uses with reference to that visible and
tangible world which Plato so much despised. He speaks with scorn
of the mystical arithmetic of the later Platonists, and laments
the propensity of mankind to employ, on mere matters of
curiosity, powers the whole exertion of which is required for
purposes of solid advantage. He advises arithmeticians to leave
these trifles, and to employ themselves in framing convenient
expressions, which may be of use in physical researches. [De
Augmentis, Lib. iii. Cap. 6.]

The same reasons which led Plato to recommend the study of
arithmetic led him to recommend also the study of mathematics.
The vulgar crowd of geometricians, he says, will not understand
him. They have practice always in view. They do not know that the
real use of the science is to lead men to the knowledge of
abstract, essential, eternal truth. [Plato's Republic, Book vii.]
Indeed, if we are to believe Plutarch, Plato carried this feeling
so far that he considered geometry as degraded by being applied
to any purpose of vulgar utility. Archytas, it seems, had framed
machines of extraordinary power on mathematical principles.
[Plutarch, Sympos. viii. and Life of Marcellus. The machines of
Archytas are also mentioned by Aulus Gellius and Diogenes
Laertius.] Plato remonstrated with his friend, and declared that
this was to degrade a noble intellectual exercise into a low
craft, fit only for carpenters and wheelwrights. The office of
geometry, he said, was to discipline the mind, not to minister to
the base wants of the body. His interference was successful; and
from that time, according to Plutarch, the science of mechanics
was considered as unworthy of the attention of a philosopher.

Archimedes in a later age imitated and surpassed Archytas. But
even Archimedes was not free from the prevailing notion that
geometry was degraded by being employed to produce anything
useful. It was with difficulty that he was induced to stoop from
speculation to practice. He was half ashamed of those inventions
which were the wonder of hostile nations, and always spoke of
them slightingly as mere amusements, as trifles in which a
mathematician might be suffered to relax his mind after intense
application to the higher parts of his science.

The opinion of Bacon on this subject was diametrically opposed to
that of the ancient philosophers. He valued geometry chiefly, if
not solely, on account of those uses, which to Plato appeared so
base. And it is remarkable that the longer Bacon lived the
stronger this feeling became. When in 1605 he wrote the two books
on the Advancement of Learning, he dwelt on the advantages which
mankind derived from mixed mathematics; but he at the same time
admitted that the beneficial effect produced by mathematical
study on the intellect, though a collateral advantage, was "no
less worthy than that which was principal and intended." But it
is evident that his views underwent a change. When, near twenty
years later, he published the De Augmentis, which is the Treatise
on the Advancement of Learning, greatly expanded and carefully
corrected, he made important alterations in the part which
related to mathematics. He condemned with severity the high,
pretensions of the mathematicians, "delicias et fastum
mathematicorum." Assuming the well-being of the human race to be
the end of knowledge, [Usui et commodis hominum consulimus.] he
pronounced that mathematical science could claim no higher rank
than that of an appendage or auxiliary to other sciences.
Mathematical science, he says, is the handmaid of natural
philosophy; she ought to demean herself as such; and he declares
that he cannot conceive by what ill chance it has happened that
she presumes to claim precedence over her mistress. He predicts--
a prediction which would have made Plato shudder--that as more
and more discoveries are made in physics, there will be more and
more branches of mixed mathematics. Of that collateral advantage
the value of which, twenty years before, he rated so highly, he
says not one word. This omission cannot have been the effect of
mere inadvertence. His own treatise was before him. From that
treatise he deliberately expunged whatever was favourable to the
study of pure mathematics, and inserted several keen reflections
on the ardent votaries of that study. This fact, in our opinion,
admits of only one explanation. Bacon's love of those pursuits
which directly tend to improve the condition of mankind, and his
jealousy of all pursuits merely curious, had grown upon him, and
had, it may be, become immoderate. He was afraid of using any
expression which might have the effect of inducing any man of
talents to employ in speculations, useful only to the mind of the
speculator, a single hour which might be employed in extending
the empire of man over matter. [Compare the passage relating to
mathematics in the Second Book of the Advancement of Learning
with the De Augmentis Lib. iii. Cap. 6.] If Bacon erred here,
we must acknowledge that we greatly prefer his error to the
opposite error of Plato. We have no patience with a philosophy
which, like those Roman matrons who swallowed abortives in
order to preserve their shapes, takes pains to be barren for
fear of being homely.

Let us pass to astronomy. This was one of the sciences which
Plato exhorted his disciples to learn, but for reasons far
removed from common habits of thinking. "Shall we set down
astronomy," says Socrates, "among the subjects of study?"
[Plato's Republic, Book vii.] "I think so," answers his young
friend Glaucon: "to know something about the seasons, the months,
and the years is of use for military purposes, as well as for
agriculture and navigation." "It amuses me," says Socrates, "to
see how afraid you are, lest the common herd of people should
accuse you of recommending useless studies." He then proceeds, in
that pure and magnificent diction which, as Cicero said, Jupiter
would use if Jupiter spoke Greek, to explain, that the use of
astronomy is not to add to the vulgar comforts of life, but to
assist in raising the mind to the contemplation of things which
are to be perceived by the pure intellect alone. The knowledge of
the actual motions of the heavenly bodies Socrates considers as
of little value. The appearances which make the sky beautiful at
night are, he tells us, like the figures which a geometrician
draws on the sand, mere examples, mere helps to feeble minds. We
must get beyond them; we must neglect them; we must attain to an
astronomy which is as independent of the actual stars as
geometrical truth is independent of the lines of an ill-drawn
diagram. This is, we imagine, very nearly if not exactly, the
astronomy which Bacon compared to the ox of Prometheus, [De
Augmentis, Lib. iii. Cap. 4] a sleek, well-shaped hide, stuffed
with rubbish, goodly to look at, but containing nothing to eat.
He complained that astronomy had, to its great injury, been
separated from natural philosophy, of which it was one of the
noblest provinces, and annexed to the domain of mathematics. The
world stood in need, he said, of a very different astronomy, of a
living astronomy, [Astronomia viva.] of an astronomy which should
set forth the nature, the motion, and the influences of the
heavenly bodies, as they really are. [Quae substantiam et motum
et influxum ecelestium, prout re vera sunt proponat." Compare
this language with Plato's "ta d'en to ourano easomen."]

On the greatest and most useful of all human inventions, the
invention of alphabetical writing, Plato did not look with much
complacency. He seems to have thought that the use of letters had
operated on the human mind as the use of the go-cart in learning
to walk, or of corks in learning to swim, is said to operate on
the human body. It was a support which, in his opinion, soon
became indispensable to those who used it, which made vigorous
exertion first unnecessary and then impossible. The powers of the
intellect would, he conceived, have been more fully developed
without this delusive aid. Men would have been compelled to
exercise the understanding and the memory, and, by deep and
assiduous meditation, to make truth thoroughly their own. Now, on
the contrary, much knowledge is traced on paper, but little is
engraved in the soul. A man is certain that he can find
information at a moment's notice when he wants it. He therefore
suffers it to fade from his mind. Such a man cannot in strictness
be said to know anything. He has the show without the reality of
wisdom. These opinions Plato has put into the mouth of an ancient
king of Egypt. [Plato's Phaedrus.] But it is evident from the
context that they were his own; and so they were understood to be
by Quinctilian. [Quinctilian, xi.] Indeed they are in perfect
accordance with the whole Platonic system.

Bacon's views, as may easily be supposed, were widely
different. [De Augmentis, Lib. v. Cap. 5.] The powers of the
memory, he observes, without the help of writing, can do little
towards the advancement of any useful science. He acknowledges
that the memory may be disciplined to such a point as to be able
to perform very extraordinary feats. But on such feats he sets
little value. The habits of his mind, he tells us, are such that
he is not disposed to rate highly any accomplishment, however
rare, which is of no practical use to mankind. As to these
prodigious achievements of the memory, he ranks them with the
exhibitions of rope-dancers and tumblers. "These two
performances," he says, "are much of the same sort. The one is an
abuse of the powers of the body; the other is an abuse of the
powers of the mind. Both may perhaps excite our wonder; but
neither is entitled to our respect."

To Plato, the science of medicine appeared to be of very
disputable advantages. [Plato's Republic, Book iii.] He did not
indeed object to quick cures for acute disorders, or for injuries
produced by accidents. But the art which resists the slow sap of
a chronic disease, which repairs frames enervated by lust,
swollen by gluttony, or inflamed by wine, which encourages
sensuality by mitigating the natural punishment of the
sensualist, and prolongs existence when the intellect has ceased
to retain its entire energy, had no share of his esteem. A life
protracted by medical skill he pronounced to be a long death. The
exercise of the art of medicine ought, he said, to be tolerated,
so far as that art may serve to cure the occasional distempers of
men whose constitutions are good. As to those who have bad
constitutions, let them die; and the sooner the better. Such men
are unfit for war, for magistracy, for the management of their
domestic affairs, for severe study and speculation. If they
engage in any vigorous mental exercise, they are troubled with
giddiness and fulness of the head, all which they lay to the
account of philosophy. The best thing that can happen to such
wretches is to have done with life at once. He quotes mythical
authority in support of this doctrine; and reminds his disciples
that the practice of the sons of Aeculapius, as described by
Homer, extended only to the cure of external injuries.

Far different was the philosophy of Bacon. Of all the sciences,
that which he seems to have regarded with the greatest interest
was the science which, in Plato's opinion, would not be tolerated
in a well-regulated community. To make men perfect was no part of
Bacon's plan. His humble aim was to make imperfect men
comfortable. The beneficence of his philosophy resembled the
beneficence of the common Father, whose sun rises on the evil and
the good, whose rain descends for the just and the unjust. In
Plato's opinion man was made for philosophy; in Bacon's opinion
philosophy was made for man; it was a means to an end; and that
end was to increase the pleasures and to mitigate the pains of
millions who are not and cannot be philosophers. That a
valetudinarian who took great pleasure in being wheeled along his
terrace, who relished his boiled chicken, and his weak wine and
water, and who enjoyed a hearty laugh over the Queen of Navarre's
tales, should be treated as a caput lupinum because he could not
read the Timaeus without a headache, was a notion which the
humane spirit of the English school of wisdom altogether
rejected. Bacon would not have thought it beneath the dignity of
a philosopher to contrive an improved garden chair for such a
valetudinarian, to devise some way of rendering his medicines
more palatable, to invent repasts which he might enjoy, and
pillows on which he might sleep soundly; and this though there
might not be the smallest hope that the mind of the poor invalid
would ever rise to the contemplation of the ideal beautiful and
the ideal good. As Plato had cited the religious legends of
Greece to justify his contempt for the more recondite parts of
the heart of healing, Bacon vindicated the dignity of that art by
appealing to the example of Christ, and reminded men that the
great physician of the soul did not disdain to be also the
physician of the body. [De Augmentis, Lib, iv. Cap.2]

When we pass from the science of medicine to that of legislation,
we find the same difference between the systems of these two
great men. Plato, at the commencement of the Dialogue on Laws,
lays it down as a fundamental principle that the end of
legislation is to make men virtuous. It is unnecessary to point
out the extravagant conclusions to which such a proposition
leads. Bacon well knew to how great an extent the happiness of
every society must depend on the virtue of its members; and he
also knew what legislators can and what they cannot do for the
purpose of promoting virtue. The view which he has given of the
end of legislation, and of the principal means for the attainment
of that end, has always seemed to us eminently happy, even among
the many happy passages of the same kind with which his works
abound. "Finis et scopus quem leges intueri atque ad quem
jussiones et sanctiones suas dirigere debent, non alius est quam
ut cives feliciter degant. Id fiet si pietate et religione recte
instituti, moribus honesti, armis adversus hostes externos tuti,
legum auxilio adversus seditiones et privatas injurias muniti,
imperio et magistratibus obsequentes, copiis et opibus locupletes
et florentes fuerint." [De Augmentis, Lib. viii. Cap. 3, Aph. 5.]
The end is the well-being of the people. The means are the
imparting of moral and religious education; the providing of
everything necessary for defence against foreign enemies; the
maintaining of internal order; the establishing of a judicial,
financial, and commercial system, under which wealth may be
rapidly accumulated and securely enjoyed.

Even with respect to the form in which laws ought to be drawn,
there is a remarkable difference of opinion between the Greek and
the Englishman. Plato thought a preamble essential; Bacon thought
it mischievous. Each was consistent with himself. Plato,
considering the moral improvement of the people as the end of
legislation, justly inferred that a law which commanded and
threatened, but which neither convinced the reason, nor touched
the heart, must be a most imperfect law. He was not content with
deterring from theft a man who still continued to be a thief at
heart, with restraining a son who hated his mother from beating
his mother. The only obedience on which he set much value was the
obedience which an enlightened understanding yields to reason,
and which a virtuous disposition yields to precepts of virtue. He
really seems to have believed that, by prefixing to every law an
eloquent and pathetic exhortation, he should, to a great extent,
render penal enactments superfluous. Bacon entertained no such
romantic hopes; and he well knew the practical inconveniences of
the course which Plato recommended. "Neque nobis," says he,
"prologi legum qui inepti olim habiti sunt, et leges introducunt
disputantes non jubentes, utique placerent, si priscos mores
ferre possemus. . . . Quantum fieri potest prologi evitentur, et
lex incipiat a jussione." [Ibid., Lib. viii. Cap. 3, Aph. 69.]

Each of the great men whom we have compared intended to
illustrate his system by a philosophical romance; and each left
his romance imperfect. Had Plato lived to finish the Critias, a
comparison between that noble fiction and the new Atlantis would
probably have furnished us with still more striking instances
than any which we have given. It is amusing to think with what
horror he would have seen such an institution as Solomon's House
rising in his republic: with what vehemence he would have ordered
the brew-houses, the perfume-houses, and the dispensatories to be
pulled down--and with what inexorable rigour he would have driven
beyond the frontier all the Fellows of the College, Merchants of
Light and Depredators, Lamps and Pioneers.

To sum up the whole, we should say that the aim of the Platonic
philosophy was to exalt man into a god. The aim of the Baconian
philosophy was to provide man with what he requires while he
continues to be man. The aim of the Platonic philosophy was to
raise us far above vulgar wants. The aim of the Baconian
philosophy was to supply our vulgar wants. The former aim was
noble; but the latter was attainable. Plato drew a good bow; but,
like Acestes in Virgil, he aimed at the stars; and therefore,
though there was no want of strength or skill, the shot was
thrown away. His arrow was indeed followed by a track of dazzling
radiance, but it struck nothing.

"Volans liquidis in nubibus arsit arundo
Signavitque viam flammis, tenuisque recessit
Consumta in ventos."

Bacon fixed his eye on a mark which was placed on the earth, and
within bow-shot, and hit it in the white. The philosophy of Plato
began in words and ended in words, noble words indeed, words such
as were to be expected from the finest of human intellects
exercising boundless dominion over the finest of human languages.
The philosophy of Bacon began in observations and ended in arts.

The boast of the ancient philosophers was that their doctrine
formed the minds of men to a high degree of wisdom and virtue.
This was indeed the only practical good which the most celebrated
of those teachers even pretended to effect; and undoubtedly, if
they had effected this, they would have deserved far higher
praise than if they had discovered the most salutary medicines or
constructed the most powerful machines. But the truth is that, in
those very matters in which alone they professed to do any good
to mankind, in those very matters for the sake of which they
neglected all the vulgar interests of mankind, they did nothing,
or worse than nothing. They promised what was impracticable; they
despised what was practicable; they filled the world with long
words and long beards; and they left it as wicked and as ignorant
as they found it.

An acre in Middlesex is better than a principality in Utopia. The
smallest actual good is better than the most magnificent promises
of impossibilities. The wise man of the Stoics would, no doubt,
be a grander object than a steam-engine. But there are steam-
engines. And the wise man of the Stoics is yet to be born. A
philosophy which should enable a man to feel perfectly happy
while in agonies of pain would be better than a philosophy which
assuages pain. But we know that there are remedies which will
assuage pain; and we know that the ancient sages liked the
toothache just as little as their neighbours. A philosophy which
should extinguish cupidity would be better than a philosophy
which should devise laws for the security of property. But it is
possible to make laws which shall, to a very great extent, secure
property. And we do not understand how any motives which the
ancient philosophy furnished could extinguish cupidity. We know
indeed that the philosophers were no better than other men. From
the testimony of friends as well as of foes, from the confessions
of Epictetus and Seneca, as well as from the sneers of Lucian and
the fierce invectives of Juvenal, it is plain that these teachers
of virtue had all the vices of their neighbours, with the
additional vice of hypocrisy. Some people may think the object of
the Baconian philosophy a low object, but they cannot deny that,
high or low, it has been attained. They cannot deny that every
year makes an addition to what Bacon called "fruit." They cannot
deny that mankind have made, and are making, great and constant
progress in the road which he pointed out to them. Was there any
such progressive movement among the ancient philosophers? After
they had been declaiming eight hundred years, had they made the
world better than when they began? Our belief is that, among the
philosophers themselves, instead of a progressive improvement
there was a progressive degeneracy. An abject superstition which
Democritus or Anaxagoras would have rejected with scorn, added
the last disgrace to the long dotage of the Stoic and Platonic
schools. Those unsuccessful attempts to articulate which are so
delightful and interesting in a child shock and disgust in an
aged paralytic; and in the same way, those wild and mythological
fictions which charm us, when we hear them lisped by Greek poetry
in its infancy, excite a mixed sensation of pity and loathing,
when mumbled by Greek philosophy in its old age. We know that
guns, cutlery, spy-glasses, clocks, are better in our time than
they were in the time of our fathers, and were better in the time
of our fathers than they were in the time of our grandfathers. We
might, therefore, be inclined to think that, when a philosophy
which boasted that its object was the elevation and purification
of the mind, and which for this object neglected the sordid
office of ministering to the comforts of the body, had flourished
in the highest honour during many hundreds of years, a vast moral
amelioration must have taken place. Was it so? Look at the
schools of this wisdom four centuries before the Christian era
and four centuries after that era. Compare the men whom those
schools formed at those two periods. Compare Plato and Libanius.
Compare Pericles and Julian. This philosophy confessed, nay
boasted, that for every end but one it was useless. Had it
attained that one end?

Suppose that Justinian, when he closed the schools of Athens, had
called on the last few sages who still haunted the Portico, and
lingered round the ancient plane-trees, to show their title to
public veneration: suppose that he had said:  "A thousand years
have elapsed since, in this famous city, Socrates posed
Protagoras and Hippias; during those thousand years a large
proportion of the ablest men of every generation has been
employed in constant efforts to bring to perfection the
philosophy which you teach, that philosophy has been munificently
patronised by the powerful; its professors have been held in the
highest esteem by the public; it has drawn to itself almost all
the sap and vigour of the human intellect: and what has it
effected? What profitable truth has it taught us which we should
not equally have known without it? What has it enabled us to do
which we should not have been equally able to do without it?"
Such questions, we suspect, would have puzzled Simplicius and
Isidore. Ask a follower of Bacon what the new philosophy, as it
was called in the time of Charles the Second, has effected for
mankind, and his answer is ready; "It has lengthened life; it has
mitigated pain; it has extinguished diseases; it has increased
the fertility of the soil; it has given new securities to the
mariner; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned
great rivers and estuaries with bridges of form unknown to our
fathers; it has guided the thunderbolt innocuously from heaven to
earth; it has lighted up the night with the splendour of the day;
it has extended the range of the human vision; it has multiplied
the power of the human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it has
annihilated distance; it has facilitated intercourse,
correspondence, all friendly offices, all despatch of business;
it has enabled man to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar
into the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious recesses of
the earth, to traverse the land in cars which whirl along without
horses, and the ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour
against the wind. These are but a part of its fruits, and of its
first fruits. For it is a philosophy which never rests, which has
never attained, which is never perfect. Its law is progress. A
point which yesterday was invisible is its goal to-day, and will
be its starting-post to-morrow."

Great and various as the powers of Bacon were, he owes his wide
and durable fame chiefly to this, that all those powers received
their direction from common sense. His love of the vulgar useful,
his strong sympathy with the popular notions of good and evil,
and the openness with which he avowed that sympathy, are the
secret of his influence. There was in his system no cant, no
illusion. He had no anointing for broken bones, no fine theories
de finibus, no arguments to persuade men out of their senses. He
knew that men, and philosophers as well as other men, do actually
love life, health, comfort, honour, security, the society of
friends, and do actually dislike death, sickness, pain, poverty,
disgrace, danger, separation from those to whom they are
attached. He knew that religion, though it often regulates and
moderates these feelings, seldom eradicates them; nor did he
think it desirable for mankind that they should be eradicated.
The plan of eradicating them by conceits like those of Seneca, or
syllogisms like those of Chrysippus, was too preposterous to be
for a moment entertained by a mind like his. He did not
understand what wisdom there could be in changing names where it
was impossible to change things; in denying that blindness,
hunger, the gout, the rack, were evils, and calling them
apoproegmena in refusing to acknowledge that health, safety,
plenty, were good things, and dubbing them by the name of
adiaphora. In his opinions on all these subjects, he was not a
Stoic, nor an Epicurean, nor an Academic, but what would have
been called by Stoics, Epicureans, and Academics a mere idiotes,
a mere common man. And it was precisely because he was so that
his name makes so great an era in the history of the world. It
was because he dug deep that he was able to pile high. It was
because, in order to lay his foundations, he went down into those
parts of human nature which lie low, but which are not liable to
change, that the fabric which he reared has risen to so stately
an elevation, and stands with such immovable strength.

We have sometimes thought that an amusing fiction might be
written, in which a disciple of Epictetus and a disciple of Bacon
should be introduced as fellow-travellers. They come to a village
where the smallpox has just begun to rage, and find houses shut
up, intercourse suspended, the sick abandoned, mothers weeping
in terror over their children. The Stoic assures the dismayed
population that there is nothing bad in the smallpox, and that
to a wise man disease, deformity, death, the loss of friends,
are not evils. The Baconian takes out a lancet and begins to
vaccinate. They find a body of miners in great dismay. An
explosion of noisome vapours has just killed many of those who
were at work; and the survivors are afraid to venture into the
cavern. The Stoic assures them that such an accident is nothing
but a mere apoproegmenon. The Baconian, who has no such fine word
at his command, contents himself with devising a safety-lamp.
They find a shipwrecked merchant wringing his hands on the shore.
His vessel with an inestimable cargo has just gone down, and he
is reduced in a moment from opulence to beggary. The Stoic
exhorts him not to seek happiness in things which lie without
himself, and repeats the whole chapter of Epictetus pros tous ten
aporian dediokotas. The Baconian constructs a diving-bell, goes
down in it, and returns with the most precious effects from the
wreck. It would be easy to multiply illustrations of the
difference between the philosophy of thorns and the philosophy of
fruit, the philosophy of words and the philosophy of works.

Bacon has been accused of overrating the importance of those
sciences which minister to the physical well-being of man, and of
underrating the importance of moral philosophy; and it cannot be
denied that persons who read the Novum Organum and the De
Augmentis, without adverting to the circumstances under which
those works were written, will find much that may seem to
countenance the accusation. It is certain, however, that, though
in practice he often went very wrong, and though, as his
historical work and his essays prove, he did not hold, even in
theory, very strict opinions on points of political morality, he
was far too wise a man not to know how much our well-being
depends on the regulation of our minds. The world for which he
wished was not, as some people seem to imagine, a world of water-
wheels, power-looms, steam-carriages, sensualists, and knaves. He
would have been as ready as Zeno himself to maintain that no
bodily comforts which could be devised by the skill and labour of
a hundred generations would give happiness to a man whose mind
was under the tyranny of licentious appetite, of envy, of hatred,
or of fear. If he sometimes appeared to ascribe importance too
exclusively to the arts which increase the outward comforts of
our species, the reason is plain. Those arts had been most unduly
depreciated. They had been represented as unworthy of the
of a man of liberal education. " Cogitavit," says Bacon of
"eam esse opinionem sive aestimationem humidam et damnosam, minui
nempe majestatem mentis humanae, si in experimentis et rebus
particularibus, sensui subjectis, et in materia terminatis, diu
ac multum versetur: praesertim cum hujusmodi res ad inquirendum
laboriosae, ad meditandum ignobiles, ad discendum asperae, ad
practicam illiberales, numero infinitae, et subtilitate pusillae
videri soleant, et ob hujusmodi conditiones, gloriae artium minus
sint accommodatae." [Cogitata et visa. The expression opinio
humida may surprise a reader not accustomed to Bacon's style. The
allusion is to the maxim of Heraclitus the obscure: "Dry light is
the best." By dry light, Bacon understood the light of the
intellect, not obscured by the mists of passion, interest, or
prejudice.] This opinion seemed to him "omnia in familia humana
turbasse." It had undoubtedly caused many arts which were of the
greatest utility, and which were susceptible of the greatest
improvements, to be neglected by speculators, and abandoned to
joiners, masons, smiths, weavers, apothecaries. It was necessary
to assert the dignity of those arts, to bring them prominently
forward, to proclaim that, as they have a most serious effect on
human happiness, they are not unworthy of the attention of the
highest human intellects. Again, it was by illustrations drawn
from these arts that Bacon could most easily illustrate his
principles. It was by improvements effected in these arts that
the soundness of his principles could be most speedily and
decisively brought to the test, and made manifest to common
understandings. He acted like a wise commander who thins every
other part of his line to strengthen a point where the enemy is
attacking with peculiar fury, and on the fate of which the event
of the battle seems likely to depend. In the Novum Organum,
however, he distinctly and most truly declares that his
philosophy is no less a Moral than a Natural Philosophy, that,
though his illustrations are drawn from physical science, the
principles which those illustrations are intended to explain are
just as applicable to ethical and political inquiries as to
inquiries into the nature of heat and vegetation. [Novum Organum,
Lib, I. Aph 127.]

He frequently treated of moral subjects; and he brought to those
subjects that spirit which was the essence of his whole system.
He has left us many admirable practicable observations on what he
somewhat quaintly called the Georgics of the mind, on the mental
culture which tends to produce good dispositions. Some persons,
he said, might accuse him of spending labour on a matter so
simple that his predecessors had passed it by with contempt. He
desired such persons to remember that he had from the first
announced the objects of his search to be not the splendid and
the surprising, but the useful and the true, not the deluding
dreams which go forth through the shining portal of ivory, but
the humbler realities of the gate of horn. [De Augmentis, Lib.
vii. Cap. 3.]

True to this principle, he indulged in no rants about the fitness
of things, the all-sufficiency of virtue, and the dignity of
human nature. He dealt not at all in resounding nothings, such as
those with which Bolingbroke pretended to comfort himself in
exile, and in which Cicero vainly sought consolation after the
loss of Tullia. The casuistical subtilties which occupied the
attention of the keenest spirits of his age had, it should seem,
no attractions for him. The doctors whom Escobar afterwards
compared to the four beasts and the four-and-twenty elders in the
Apocalypse Bacon dismissed with most contemptuous brevity.
"Inanes plerumque evadunt et futiles." [Ibid. Lib. vii. Cap. 2.]
Nor did he ever meddle with those enigmas which have puzzled
hundreds of generations, and will puzzle hundreds more. He said
nothing about the grounds of moral obligation, or the freedom of
the human will. He had no inclination to employ himself in
labours resembling those of the damned in the Grecian Tartarus,
to spin for ever on the same wheel round the same pivot, to gape
for ever after the same deluding clusters, to pour water for ever
into the same bottomless buckets, to pace for ever to and fro on
the same wearisome path after the same recoiling stone. He
exhorted his disciples to prosecute researches of a very
different description, to consider moral science as a practical
science, a science of which the object was to cure the diseases
and perturbations of the mind, and which could be improved only
by a method analogous to that which has improved medicine and
surgery. Moral philosophers ought, he said, to set themselves
vigorously to work for the purpose of discovering what are the
actual effects produced on the human character by particular
modes of education, by the indulgence of particular habits, by
the study of particular books, by society, by emulation, by
imitation. Then we might hope to find out what mode of training
was most likely to preserve and restore moral health. [Ibid.:
Lib. vii. Cap. 3.]

What he was as a natural philosopher and a moral philosopher,
that he was also as a theologian. He was, we are convinced,
a sincere believer in the divine authority of the Christian
revelation. Nothing can be found in his writings, or in any
other writings, more eloquent and pathetic than some passages
which were apparently written under the influence of strong
devotional feeling. He loved to dwell on the power of the
Christian religion to effect much that the ancient philosophers
could only promise. He loved to consider that religion as the
bond of charity, the curb of evil passions, the consolation of
the wretched, the support of the timid, the hope of the dying.
But controversies on speculative points of theology seem to have
engaged scarcely any portion of his attention. In what he wrote
on Church Government he showed, as far as he dared, a tolerant
and charitable spirit. He troubled himself not at all about
Homoousians and Homoiousians, Monothelites and Nestorians. He
lived in an age in which disputes on the most subtle points of
divinity excited an intense interest throughout Europe, and
nowhere more than in England. He was placed in the very thick of
the conflict. He was in power at the time of the Synod of Dort,
and must for months have been daily deafened with talk about
election, reprobation, and final perseverance. Yet we do not
remember a line in his works from which it can be inferred that
he was either a Calvinist or an Arminian. While the world was
resounding with the noise of a disputatious philosophy and a
disputatious theology, the Baconian school, like Allworthy seated
between Square and Thwackum, preserved a calm neutrality, half
scornful, half benevolent, and content with adding to the sum of
practical good, left the war of words to those who liked it.

We have dwelt long on the end of the Baconian philosophy, because
from this peculiarity all the other peculiarities of that
philosophy necessary arose. Indeed, scarcely any person who
proposed to himself the same end with Bacon could fail to hit
upon the same means.

The vulgar notion about Bacon we take to be this, that he
invented a new method of arriving at truth, which method is
called Induction, and that he detected some fallacy in the
syllogistic reasoning which had been in vogue before his time.
This notion is about as well founded as that of the people who,
in the middle ages, imagined that Virgil was a great conjurer.
Many who are far too well-informed to talk such extravagant
nonsense entertain what we think incorrect notions as to what
Bacon really effected in this matter.

The inductive method has been practised ever since the beginning
of the world by every human being. It is constantly practised by
the most ignorant clown, by the most thoughtless schoolboy, by
the very child at the breast. That method leads the clown to the
conclusion that if he sows barley he shall not reap wheat. By
that method the schoolboy learns that a cloudy day is the best
for catching trout. The very infant, we imagine, is led by
induction to expect milk from his mother or nurse, and none from
his father.

Not only is it not true that Bacon invented the inductive method;
but it is not true that he was the first person who correctly
analysed that method and explained its uses. Aristotle had long
before pointed out the absurdity of supposing that syllogistic
reasoning could ever conduct men to the discovery of any new
principle, had shown that such discoveries must be made by
induction, and by induction alone, and had given the history of
the inductive process, concisely indeed, but with great
perspicuity and precision.

Again, we are not inclined to ascribe much practical value to
that analysis of the inductive method which Bacon has given, in
the second book of the Novum Organum. It is indeed an elaborate
and correct analysis. But it is an analysis of that which we are
all doing from morning to night, and which we continue to do
even in our dreams. A plain man finds his stomach out of order.
He never heard Lord Bacon's name. But he proceeds in the
strictest conformity with the rules laid down in the second book
of the Novum Organum, and satisfies himself that minced pies have
done the mischief. "I ate minced pies on Monday and Wednesday,
and I was kept awake by indigestion all night." This is the
comparentia ad intellectum instantiarum convenientium. "I did not
eat any on Tuesday and Friday, and I was quite well." This is the
comparentia instantiarum in proximo quae natura data privantur.
"I ate very sparingly of them on Sunday, and was very slightly
indisposed in the evening. But on Christmas-day I almost dined on
them, and was so ill that I was in great danger." This is the
comparentia instantiarum secundum magis et minus. "It cannot
have been the brandy which I took with them. For I have drunk
brandy daily for years without being the worse for it." This is
the rejectio naturarum. Our invalid then proceeds to what is
termed by Bacon the Vindemiatio, and pronounces that minced pies
do not agree with him.

We repeat that we dispute neither the ingenuity nor the accuracy
of the theory contained in the second book of the Novum Organum;
but we think that Bacon greatly overrated its utility. We
conceive that the inductive process, like many other processes,
is not likely to be better performed merely because men know how
they perform it. William Tell would not have been one whit more
likely to cleave the apple if he had known that his arrow would
describe a parabola under the influence of the attraction of the
earth. Captain Barclay would not have been more likely to walk a
thousand miles in a thousand hours, if he had known the place and
name of every muscle in his legs. Monsieur Jourdain probably did
not pronounce D and F more correctly after he had been apprised
that D is pronounced by touching the teeth with the end of the
tongue, and F by putting the upper teeth on the lower lip. We
cannot perceive that the study of grammar makes the smallest
difference in the speech of people who have always lived in good
society. Not one Londoner in ten thousand can lay down the rules
for the proper use of will and shall. Yet not one Londoner in a
million ever misplaces his will and shall. Dr. Robertson could,
undoubtedly, have written a luminous dissertation on the use of
those words. Yet, even in his latest work, he sometimes misplaced
them ludicrously. No man uses figures of speech with more
propriety because he knows that one figure is called a metonymy
and another a synecdoche. A drayman in a passion calls out, "You
are a pretty fellow.", without suspecting that he is uttering
irony, and that irony is one of the four primary tropes. The old
systems of rhetoric were never regarded by the most experienced
and discerning judges as of any use for the purpose of forming an
orator. "Ego hanc vim intelligo," said Cicero, "esse in
praeceptis omnibus, non ut ea secuti oratores eloquentiae laudem
sint adepti, sed quae sua sponte homines eloquentes facerent, ea
quosdam observasse, atque id egisse; sic esse non eloquentiam ex
artificio, sed artificium ex eloquentia natum." We must own that
we entertain the same opinion concerning the study of Logic which
Cicero entertained concerning the study of Rhetoric. A man of
sense syllogises in celarent and cesare all day long without
suspecting it; and, though he may not know what an ignoratio
elenchi is, has no difficulty in exposing it whenever he falls in
with it; which is likely to be as often as he falls in with a
Reverend Master of Arts nourished on mode and figure in the
cloisters of Oxford. Considered merely as an intellectual feat,
the Organum of Aristotle can scarcely be admired too highly. But
the more we compare individual with individual, school with
school, nation with nation, generation with generation, the more
do we lean to the opinion that the knowledge of the theory of
logic has no tendency whatever to make men good reasoners.

What Aristotle did for the syllogistic process Bacon has, in the
second book of the Novum Organum, done for the inductive process;
that is to say, he has analysed it well. His rules are quite
proper, but we do not need them, because they are drawn from our
own constant practice.

But, though everybody is constantly performing the process
described in the second book of the Novum Organum, some men
perform it well and some perform it ill. Some are led by it to
truth, and some to error. It led Franklin to discover the nature
of lightning. It led thousands, who had less brains than
Franklin, to believe in animal magnetism. But this was not
because Franklin went through the process described by Bacon, and
the dupes of Mesmer through a different process. The comparentiae
and rejectiones of which we have given examples will be found in
the most unsound inductions. We have heard that an eminent judge
of the last generation was in the habit of jocosely propounding
after dinner a theory, that the cause of the prevalence of
Jacobinism was the practice of bearing three names. He quoted on
the one side Charles James Fox, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, John
Horne Tooke, John Philpot Curran, Samuel Taylor Coleridge,
Theobald Wolfe Tone. These were instantiae convenientes. He then
proceeded to cite instances absentiae in proximo, William Pitt,
John Scott, William Windham, Samuel Horsley, Henry Dundas, Edmund
Burke. He might have gone on to instances secundum magis et
minus. The practice of giving children three names has been for
some time a growing practice, and Jacobinism has also been
growing. The practice of giving children three names is more
common in America than in England. In England we still have a
King and a House of Lords; but the Americans are Republicans. The
rejectiones are obvious. Burke and Theobald Wolfe Tone are both
Irishmen: therefore the being an Irishman is not the cause of
Jacobinism. Horsley and Horne Tooke are both clergymen; therefore
the being a clergyman is not the cause of Jacobinism. Fox and
Windham were both educated at Oxford; therefore the being
educated at Oxford is not the cause of Jacobinism. Pitt and Horne
Tooke were both educated at Cambridge; therefore the being
educated at Cambridge is not the cause of Jacobinism. In this
way, our inductive philosopher arrives at what Bacon calls the
Vintage, and pronounces that the having three names is the cause
of Jacobinism.

Here is an induction corresponding with Bacon's analysis and
ending in a monstrous absurdity. In what then does this induction
differ from the induction which leads us to the conclusion that
the presence of the sun is the cause of our having more light by
day than by night? The difference evidently is not in the kind of
instances, but in the number of instances; that is to say, the
difference is not in that part of the process for which Bacon has
given precise rules, but in a circumstance for which no precise
rule can possibly be given. If the learned author of the theory
about Jacobinism had enlarged either of his tables a little, his
system would have been destroyed. The names of Tom Paine and
William Wyndham Grenville would have been sufficient to do the

It appears to us, then, that the difference between a sound and
unsound induction does not lie in this, that the author of the
sound induction goes through the process analysed in the second
book of the Novum Organum, and the author of the unsound
induction through a different process. They both perform the same
process. But one performs it foolishly or carelessly; the other
performs it with patience, attention, sagacity, and judgment. Now
precepts can do little towards making men patient and attentive,
and still less towards making them sagacious and judicious. It is
very well to tell men to be on their guard against prejudices,
not to believe facts on slight evidence, not to be content with a
scanty collection of facts, to put out of their minds the idola
which Bacon has so finely described. But these rules are too
general to be of much practical use. The question is, What is a
prejudice? How long does the incredulity with which I hear a new
theory propounded continue to be a wise and salutary incredulity?
When does it become an idolum specus, the unreasonable
pertinacity of a too sceptical mind? What is slight evidence?
What collection of facts is scanty? Will ten instances do, or
fifty, or a hundred? In how many months would the first human
beings who settled on the shores of the ocean have been justified
in believing that the moon had an influence on the tides? After
how many experiments would Jenner have been justified in
believing that he had discovered a safeguard against the small-
pox? These are questions to which it would be most desirable to
have a precise answer; but, unhappily, they are questions to
which no precise answer can be returned.

We think, then, that it is possible to lay down accurate rules,
as Bacon has done, for the performing of that part of the
inductive process which all men perform alike; but that these
rules, though accurate, are not wanted, because in truth they
only tell us to do what we are all doing. We think that it is
impossible to lay down any precise rule for the performing of
that part of the inductive process which a great experimental
philosopher performs in one way, and a superstitious old woman in

On this subject, we think, Bacon was in an error. He certainly
attributed to his rules a value which did not belong to them. He
went so far as to say, that, if his method of making discoveries
were adopted, little would depend on the degree of force or
acuteness of any intellect; that all minds would be reduced to
one level, that his philosophy resembled a compass or a rule
which equalises all hands, and enables the most unpractised
person to draw a more correct circle or line than the best
draftsmen can produce without such aid. [Novum 0rganum, Praef.
and Lib. I Aph. 122.] This really seems to us as extravagant as
it would have been in Lindley Murray to announce that everybody
who should learn his Grammar would write as good English as
Dryden, or in that very able writer, the Archbishop of Dublin, to
promise that all the readers of his Logic would reason like
Chillingworth, and that all the readers of his Rhetoric would
speak like Burke. That Bacon was altogether mistaken as to this
point will now hardly be disputed. His philosophy has flourished
during two hundred years, and has produced none of this
levelling. The interval between a man of talents and a dunce is
as wide as ever; and is never more clearly discernible than when
they engage in researches which require the constant use of

It will be seen that we do not consider Bacon's ingenious
analysis of the inductive method as a very useful performance.
Bacon was not, as we have already said, the inventor of the
inductive method. He was not even the person who first analysed
the inductive method correctly, though he undoubtedly analysed it
more minutely than any who preceded him. He was not the person
who first showed that by the inductive method alone new truth
could be discovered. But he was the person who first turned the
minds of speculative men, long occupied in verbal disputes, to
the discovery of new and useful truth; and, by doing so, he at
once gave to the inductive method an importance and dignity which
had never before belonged to it. He was not the maker of that
road; he was not the discoverer of that road; he was not the
person who first surveyed and mapped that road. But he was the
person who first called the public attention to an inexhaustible
mine of wealth, which had been utterly neglected, and which was
accessible by that road alone. By doing so he caused that road,
which had previously been trodden only by peasants and higglers,
to be frequented by a higher class of travellers.

That which was eminently his own in his system was the end which
he proposed to himself. The end being given, the means, as it
appears to us, could not well be mistaken. If others had aimed at
the same object with Bacon, we hold it to be certain that they
would have employed the same method with Bacon. It would have
been hard to convince Seneca that the inventing of a safety-lamp
was an employment worthy of a philosopher. It would have been
hard to persuade Thomas Aquinas to descend from the making of
syllogisms to the making of gunpowder. But Seneca would never
have doubted for a moment that it was only by means of a series
of experiments that a safety-lamp could be invented. Thomas
Aquinas would never have thought that his barbara and baralipton
would enable him to ascertain the proportion which charcoal ought
to bear to saltpetre in a pound of gunpowder. Neither common
sense nor Aristotle would have suffered him to fall into such an

By stimulating men to the discovery of new truth, Bacon
stimulated them to employ the inductive method, the only method,
even the ancient philosophers and the schoolmen themselves being
judges, by which new truth can be discovered. By stimulating men
to the discovery of useful truth, he furnished them with a motive
to perform the inductive process well and carefully. His
predecessors had been, in his phrase, not interpreters, but
anticipators of nature. They had been content with the first
principles at which they had arrived by the most scanty and
slovenly induction. And why was this? It was, we conceive,
because their philosophy proposed to itself no practical end,
because it was merely an exercise of the mind. A man who wants to
contrive a new machine or a new medicine has a strong motive to
observe accurately and patiently, and to try experiment after
experiment. But a man who merely wants a theme for disputation or
declamation has no such motive. He is therefore content with
premises grounded on assumption, or on the most scanty and hasty
induction. Thus, we conceive, the schoolmen acted. On their
foolish premises they often argued with great ability; and as
their object was "assensum subjugare, non res," [Novum Organum,
Lib. i. Aph. 29.] to be victorious in controversy not to be
victorious over nature, they were consistent. For just as much
logical skill could be shown in reasoning on false as on true
premises. But the followers of the new philosophy, proposing to
themselves the discovery of useful truth as their object, must
have altogether failed of attaining that object if they had been
content to build theories on superficial induction.

Bacon has remarked [De Augmentis, Lib. i.] that, in ages when
philosophy was stationary, the mechanical arts went on improving.
Why was this? Evidently because the mechanic was not content with
so careless a mode of induction as served the purpose of the
philosopher. And why was the philosopher more easily satisfied
than the mechanic? Evidently because the object of the mechanic
was to mould things, whilst the object of the philosopher was
only to mould words. Careful induction is not at all necessary to
the making of a good syllogism. But it is indispensable to the
making of a good shoe. Mechanics, therefore, have always been, as
far as the range of their humble but useful callings extended,
not anticipators but interpreters of nature. And when a
philosophy arose, the object of which was to do on a large scale
what the mechanic does on a small scale, to extend the power and
to supply the wants of man, the truth of the premises, which
logically is a matter altogether unimportant, became a matter of
the highest importance; and the careless induction with which men
of learning had previously been satisfied gave place, of
necessity, to an induction far more accurate and satisfactory.

What Bacon did for inductive philosophy may, we think, be fairly
stated thus. The objects of preceding speculators were objects
which could be attained without careful induction. Those
speculators, therefore, did not perform the inductive process
carefully. Bacon stirred up men to pursue an object which could
be attained only by induction, and by induction carefully
performed; and consequently induction was more carefully
performed. We do not think that the importance of what Bacon did
for inductive philosophy has ever been overrated. But we think
that the nature of his services is often mistaken, and was not
fully understood even by himself. It was not by furnishing
philosophers with rules for performing the inductive process
well, but by furnishing them with a motive for performing it
well, that he conferred so vast a benefit on society.

To give to the human mind a direction which it shall retain for
ages is the rare prerogative of a few imperial spirits. It
cannot, therefore, be uninteresting to inquire what was the moral
and intellectual constitution which enabled Bacon to exercise so
vast an influence on the world.

In the temper of Bacon,--we speak of Bacon the philosopher, not
of Bacon the lawyer and politician,--there was a singular union
of audacity and sobriety. The promises which he made to mankind
might, to a superficial reader, seem to resemble the rants which
a great dramatist has put into the mouth of ail Oriental
conqueror half-crazed by good fortune and by violent passions:

"He shall have chariots easier than air,
Which I will have invented; and thyself
That art the messenger shall ride before him,
On a horse cut out of an entire diamond,
That shall be made to go with golden wheels,
I know not how yet."

But Bacon performed what he promised. In truth, Fletcher would
not have dared to make Arbaces promise, in his wildest fits of
excitement, the tithe of what the Baconian philosophy has

The true philosophical temperament may, we think, be described in
four words, much hope, little faith; a disposition to believe
that anything, however extraordinary, may be done; an
indisposition to believe that anything extraordinary has been
done. In these points the constitution of Bacon's mind seems to
us to have been absolutely perfect. He was at once the Mammon and
the Surly of his friend Ben. Sir Epicure did not indulge in
visions more magnificent and gigantic, Surly did not sift
evidence with keener and more sagacious incredulity.

Closely connected with this peculiarity of Bacon's temper was a
striking peculiarity of his understanding. With great minuteness
of observation, he had an amplitude of comprehension such as has
never yet been vouchsafed to any other human being. The small
fine mind of Labruyere had not a more delicate tact than the
large intellect of Bacon. The Essays contain abundant proofs that
no nice feature of character, no peculiarity in the ordering of a
house, a garden, or a court-masque, would escape the notice of
one whose mind was capable of taking in the whole world of
knowledge. His understanding resembled the tent which the fairy
Paribanou gave to Prince Ahmed. Fold it; and it seemed a toy for
the hand of a lady. Spread it; and the armies of powerful Sultans
might repose beneath its shade.

In keenness of observation he has been equalled, though perhaps
never surpassed. But the largeness of his mind was all his own.
The glance with which he surveyed the intellectual universe
resembled that which the Archangel, from the golden threshold of
heaven, darted down into the new creation:

"Round he surveyed,--and well might, where he stood
So high above the circling canopy
Of night's extended shade,--from eastern point
Of Libra, to the fleecy star which bears
Andromeda far off Atlantic seas
Beyond the horizon."

His knowledge differed from that of other men, as a terrestrial
globe differs from an Atlas which contains a different country on
every leaf. The towns and roads of England, France, and Germany
are better laid down in the Atlas than on the globe. But while we
are looking at England we see nothing of France; and while we are
looking at France we see nothing of Germany. We may go to the
Atlas to learn the bearings and distances of York and Bristol, or
of Dresden and Prague. But it is useless if we want to know the
bearings and distances of France and Martinique, or of England
and Canada. On the globe we shall not find all the market towns
in our own neighbourhood; but we shall learn from it the
comparative extent and the relative position of all the kingdoms
of the earth. "I have taken," said Bacon, in a letter written
when he was only thirty-one, to his uncle Lord Burleigh, "I have
taken all knowledge to be my province." In any other young man,
indeed in any other man, this would have been a ridiculous flight
of presumption. There have been thousands of better
mathematicians, astronomers, chemists, physicians, botanists,
mineralogists, than Bacon. No man would go to Bacon's works to
learn any particular science or art, any more than he would go to
a twelve-inch globe in order to find his way from Kennington
turnpike to Clapham Common. The art which Bacon taught was the
art of inventing arts. The knowledge in which Bacon excelled all
men was a knowledge of the mutual relations of all departments of

The mode in which he communicated his thoughts was peculiar to
him. He had no touch of that disputatious temper which he often
censured in his predecessors. He effected a vast intellectual
revolution in opposition to a vast mass of prejudices; yet he
never engaged in any controversy, nay, we cannot at present
recollect, in all his philosophical works, a single passage of a
controversial character. All those works might with propriety
have been put into the form which he adopted in the work entitled
Cogitata et visa: "Franciscus Baconus sic cogitavit." These are
thoughts which have occurred to me: weigh them well: and take
them or leave them.

Borgia said of the famous expedition of Charles the Eighth, that
the French had conquered Italy, not with steel, but with chalk
for that the only exploit which they had found necessary for the
purpose of taking military occupation of any place had been to
mark the doors of the houses where they meant to quarter. Bacon
often quoted this saying, and loved to apply it to the victories
of his own intellect. [Novum Organum, Lib. i. Aph. 35 and
elsewhere.] His philosophy, he said, came as a guest, not as an
enemy. She found no difficulty in gaining admittance, without a
contest, into every understanding fitted, by its structure and by
its capacity, to receive her. In all this we think that he acted
most judiciously; first, because, as he has himself remarked, the
difference between his school and other schools was a difference
so fundamental that there was hardly any common ground on which a
controversial battle could be fought; and, secondly, because his
mind, eminently observant, preeminently discursive and capacious,
was, we conceive, neither formed by nature nor disciplined by
habit for dialectical combat.

Though Bacon did not arm his philosophy with the weapons of
logic, he adorned her profusely with all the decorations of
rhetoric. His eloquence, though not untainted with the vicious
taste of his age, would alone have entitled him to a high rank in
literature. He had a wonderful talent for packing thought close,
and rendering it portable. In wit, if by wit be meant the power
of perceiving analogies between things which appear to have
nothing in common, he never had an equal, not even Cowley, not
even the author of Hudibras. Indeed, he possessed this faculty,
or rather this faculty possessed him, to a morbid degree. When he
abandoned himself to it without reserve, as he did in the
Sapientia Veterum, and at the end of the second book of the De
Augmentis, the feats which he performed were not merely
admirable, but portentous, and almost shocking. On those
occasions we marvel at him as clowns on a fair-day marvel at a
juggler, and can hardly help thinking that the devil must be in

These, however, were freaks in which his ingenuity now and then
wantoned, with scarcely any other object than to astonish and
amuse. But it occasionally happened that, when he was engaged in
grave and profound investigations, his wit obtained the mastery
over all his other faculties, and led him into absurdities into
which no dull man could possibly have fallen. We will give the
most striking instance which at present occurs to us. In the
third book of the De Augmentis he tells us that there are some
principles which are not peculiar to one science, but are common
to several. That part of philosophy which concerns itself with
these principles is, in his nomenclature, designated as
philosophia prima. He then proceeds to mention some of the
principles with which this philosophia prima is conversant. One
of them is this. An infectious disease is more likely to be
communicated while it is in progress than when it has reached its
height. This, says he, is true in medicine. It is also true in
morals; for we see that the example of very abandoned men injures
public morality less than the example of men in whom vice has not
yet extinguished all good qualities. Again, he tells us that in
music a discord ending in a concord is agreeable, and that the
same thing may be noted in the affections. Once more, he tells
us, that in physics the energy with which a principle acts is
often increased by the antiperistasis of its opposite; and that
it is the same in the contests of factions. If the making of
ingenious and sparkling similitudes like these be indeed the
philosophia prima, we are quite sure that the greatest
philosophical work of the nineteenth century is Mr. Moore's Lalla
Rookh. The similitudes which we have cited are very happy
similitudes. But that a man like Bacon should have taken them for
more, that he should have thought the discovery of such
resemblances as these an important part of philosophy, has always
appeared to us one of the most singular facts in the history of

The truth is that his mind was wonderfully quick in perceiving
analogies of all sorts. But, like several eminent men whom we
could name, both living and dead, he sometimes appeared strangely
deficient in the power of distinguishing rational from fanciful
analogies, analogies which are arguments from analogies which are
mere illustrations, analogies like that which Bishop Butler so
ably pointed out, between natural and revealed religion, from
analogies like that which Addison discovered, between the series
of Grecian gods carved by Phidias and the series of English kings
painted by Kneller. This want of discrimination has led to many
strange political speculations. Sir William Temple deduced a
theory of government from the properties of the pyramid. Mr.
Southey's whole system of finance is grounded on the phaenomena
of evaporation and rain. In theology, this perverted ingenuity
has made still wilder work. From the time of Irenaeus and Origen
down to the present day, there has not been a single generation
in which great divines have not been led into the most absurd
expositions of Scripture, by mere incapacity to distinguish
analogies proper, to use the scholastic phrase, from analogies
metaphorical. [See some interesting remarks on this subject in
Bishop Berkeley's Minute Philosopher, Dialogue iv.] It is curious
that Bacon has himself mentioned this very kind of delusion among
the idola specus; and has mentioned it in language which, we are
inclined to think, shows that he knew himself to be subject to
it. It is the vice, he tells us, of subtle minds to attach too
much importance to slight distinctions; it is the vice, on the
other hand, of high and discursive intellects to attach too much
importance to slight resemblances; and he adds that, when this
last propensity is indulged to excess, it leads men to catch at
shadows instead of substances. [Novum Organum, Lib. i. Aph. 55.]

Yet we cannot wish that Bacon's wit had been less luxuriant. For,
to say nothing of the pleasure which it affords, it was in the
vast majority of cases employed for the purpose of making obscure
truth plain, of making repulsive truth attractive, of fixing in
the mind for ever truth which might otherwise have left but a
transient impression.

The poetical faculty was powerful in Bacon's mind, but not, like
his wit, so powerful as occasionally to usurp the place of his
reason, and to tyrannise over the whole man. No imagination was
ever at once so strong and so thoroughly subjugated. It never
stirred but at a signal from good sense. It stopped at the first
check from good sense. Yet, though disciplined to such obedience,
it gave noble proofs of its vigour. In truth, much of Bacon's
life was passed in a visionary world, amidst things as strange as
any that are described in the Arabian Tales, or in those romances
on which the curate and barber of Don Quixote's village performed
so cruel an auto-de-fe, amidst buildings more sumptuous than the
palace of Aladdin, fountains more wonderful than the golden water
of Parizade, conveyances more rapid than the hippogryph of
Ruggiero, arms more formidable than the lance of Astolfo,
remedies more efficacious than the balsam of Fierabras. Yet in
his magnificent daydreams there was nothing wild, nothing but
what sober reason sanctioned. He knew that all the secrets
feigned by poets to have been written in the books of enchanters
are worthless when compared with the mighty secrets which are
really written in the book of nature, and which, with time and
patience, will be read there. He knew that all the wonders
wrought by all the talismans in fable were trifles when compared
to the wonders which might reasonably be expected from the
philosophy of fruit, and that, if his words sank deep into the
minds of men, they would produce effects such as superstition had
never ascribed to the incantations of Merlin and Michael Scott.
It was here that he loved to let his imagination loose. He loved
to picture to himself the world as it would be when his
philosophy should, in his own noble phrase, "have enlarged the
bounds of human empire." [New Atlantis.] We might refer to many
instances. But we will content ourselves with the strongest, the
description of the House of Solomon in the New Atlantis. By most
of Bacon's contemporaries, and by some people of our time, this
remarkable passage would, we doubt not, be considered as an
ingenious rodomontade, a counterpart to the adventures of Sinbad
or Baron Munchausen. The truth is, that there is not to be found
in any human composition a passage more eminently distinguished
by profound and serene wisdom. The boldness and originality of
the fiction is far less wonderful than the nice discernment which
carefully excluded from that long list of prodigies everything
that can be pronounced impossible, everything that can be proved
to lie beyond the mighty magic of induction and time. Already
some parts, and not the least startling parts, of this glorious
prophecy have been accomplished, even according to the letter;
and the whole, construed according to the spirit, is daily
accomplishing all around us.

One of the most remarkable circumstances in the history of
Bacon's mind is the order in which its powers expanded
themselves. With him the fruit came first and remained till the
last; the blossoms did not appear till late. In general, the
development of the fancy is to the development of the judgment
what the growth of a girl is to the growth of a boy. The fancy
attains at an earlier period to the perfection of its beauty, its
power, and its fruitfulness; and, as it is first to ripen, it is
also first to fade. It has generally lost something of its bloom
and freshness before the sterner faculties have reached maturity;
and is commonly withered and barren while those faculties still
retain all their energy. It rarely happens that the fancy and the
judgment grow together. It happens still more rarely that the
judgment grows faster than the fancy. This seems, however, to
have been the case with Bacon. His boyhood and youth appear to
have been singularly sedate. His gigantic scheme of philosophical
reform is said by some writers to have been planned before he was
fifteen, and was undoubtedly planned while he was still young. He
observed as vigilantly, meditated as deeply, and judged as
temperately when he gave his first work to the world as at the
close of his long career. But in eloquence, in sweetness and
variety of expression, and in richness of illustration, his later
writings are far superior to those of his youth. In this respect
the history of his mind bears some resemblance to the history of
the mind of Burke. The treatise on the Sublime and Beautiful,
though written on a subject which the coldest metaphysician could
hardly treat without being occasionally betrayed into florid
writing, is the most unadorned of all Burke's works. It appeared
when he was twenty-five or twenty-six. When, at forty, he wrote
the Thoughts on the Causes of the existing Discontents, his
reason and his judgment had reached their full maturity; but his
eloquence was still in its splendid dawn. At fifty, his rhetoric
was quite as rich as good taste would permit; and when he died,
at almost seventy, it had become ungracefully gorgeous. In his
youth he wrote on the emotions produced by mountains and
cascades, by the master-pieces of painting and sculpture, by the
faces and necks of beautiful women, in the style of a
Parliamentary report. In his old age he discussed treaties and
tariffs in the most fervid and brilliant language of romance. It
is strange that the Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful, and the
Letter to a Noble Lord, should be the productions of one man. But
it is far more strange that the Essay should have been a
production of his youth, and the Letter of his old age.

We will give very short specimens of Bacon's two styles. In 1597,
he wrote thus: "Crafty men contemn studies; simple men admire
them; and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use:
that is a wisdom without them, and won by observation. Read not
to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider. Some
books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to
be chewed and digested. Reading maketh a full man, conference a
ready man, and writing an exact man. And therefore if a man write
little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little,
have a present wit; and if he read little, have much cunning to
seem to know that he doth not. Histories make men wise, poets
witty, the mathematics subtle, natural philosophy deep, morals
grave, logic and rhetoric able to contend." It will hardly be
disputed that this is a passage to be "chewed and digested." We
do not believe that Thucydides himself has anywhere compressed so
much thought into so small a space.

In the additions which Bacon afterwards made to the Essays, there
is nothing superior in truth or weight to what we have quoted.
But his style was constantly becoming richer and softer. The
following passage, first published in 1625, will show the extent
of the change: "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament;
adversity is the blessing of the New, which carrieth the greater
benediction and the clearer evidence of God's favour. Yet, even
in the Old Testament, if you listen to David's harp you shall
hear as many hearse-like airs as carols; and the pencil of the
Holy Ghost hath laboured more in describing the afflictions of
Job than the felicities of Solomon. Prosperity is not without
many fears and distastes; and adversity is not without comforts
and hopes. We see in needleworks and embroideries it is more
pleasing to have a lively work upon a sad and solemn ground, than
to have a dark and melancholy work upon a lightsome ground. Judge
therefore of the pleasure of the heart by the pleasure of the
eye. Certainly virtue is like precious odours, most fragrant when
they are incensed or crushed; for prosperity doth best discover
vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue."

It is by the Essays that Bacon is best known to the multitude.
The Novum Organum and the De Augmentis are much talked of, but
little read. They have produced indeed a vast effect on the
opinions of mankind; but they have produced it through the
operation of intermediate agents. They have moved the intellects
which have moved the world. It is in the Essays alone that the
mind of Bacon is brought into immediate contact with the minds of
ordinary readers. There he opens an exoteric school, and talks to
plain men, in language which everybody understands, about things
in which everybody is interested. He has thus enabled those who
must otherwise have taken his merits on trust to judge for
themselves; and the great body of readers have, during several
generations, acknowledged that the man who has treated with such
consummate ability questions with which they are familiar may
well be supposed to deserve all the praise bestowed on him by
those who have sat in his inner-school.

Without any disparagement to the admirable treatise De
Augmentis, we must say that, in our judgment, Bacon's greatest
performance is the first book of the Novum Organum. All the
peculiarities of his extraordinary mind are found there in the
highest perfection. Many of the aphorisms, but particularly those
in which he gives examples of the influence of the idola, show a
nicety of observation that has never been surpassed. Every part
of the book blazes with wit, but with wit which is employed only
to illustrate and decorate truth. No book ever made so great a
revolution in the mode of thinking, overthrew so many prejudices,
introduced so many new opinions. Yet no book was ever written in
a less contentious spirit. It truly conquers with chalk and not
with steel. Proposition after proposition enters into the mind,
is received not as an invader, but as a welcome friend, and,
though previously unknown, becomes at once domesticated. But what
we most admire is the vast capacity of that intellect which,
without effort, takes in at once all the domains of science, all
the past, the present, and the future, all the errors of two
thousand years, all the encouraging signs of the passing times,
all the bright hopes of the coming age. Cowley, who was among the
most ardent, and not among the least discerning followers of the
new philosophy, has, in one of his finest poems, compared Bacon
to Moses standing on Mount Pisgah. It is to Bacon, we think, as
he appears in the first book of the Novum Organum, that the
comparison applies with peculiar felicity. There we see the great
Lawgiver looking round from his lonely elevation on an infinite
expanse; behind him a wilderness of dreary sands and bitter
waters in which successive generations have sojourned, always
moving, yet never advancing, reaping no harvest, and building no
abiding city; before him a goodly land, a land of promise, a land
flowing with milk and honey. While the multitude below saw only
the flat sterile desert in which they had so long wandered,
bounded on every side by a near horizon, or diversified only by
some deceitful mirage, he was gazing from a far higher stand on a
far lovelier country, following with his eye the long course of
fertilising rivers, through ample pastures, and under the
bridges of great capitals, measuring the distances of marts and
havens, and portioning out all those wealthy regions from Dan to

It is painful to turn back from contemplating Bacon's philosophy
to contemplate his life. Yet without so turning back it is
impossible fairly to estimate his powers. He left the University
at an earlier age than that at which most people repair thither.
While yet a boy he was plunged into the midst of diplomatic
business. Thence he passed to the study of a vast technical
system of law, and worked his way up through a succession of
laborious offices to the highest post in his profession. In the
meantime he took an active part in every Parliament; he was an
adviser of the Crown: he paid court with the greatest assiduity
and address to all whose favour was likely to be of use to him;
he lived much in society; he noted the slightest peculiarities of
character and the slightest changes of fashion. Scarcely any man
has led a more stirring life than that which Bacon led from
sixteen to sixty. Scarcely any man has been better entitled to be
called a thorough man of the world. The founding of a new
philosophy, the imparting of a new direction to the minds of
speculators, this was the amusement of his leisure, the work of
hours occasionally stolen from the Woolsack and the Council
Board. This consideration, while it increases the admiration with
which we regard his intellect, increases also our regret that
such an intellect should so often have been unworthily employed.
He well knew the better course  and had, at one time, resolved to
pursue it. "I confess," said he in a letter written when he was
still young, "that I have as vast contemplative ends as I have
moderate civil ends." Had his civil ends continued to be
moderate, he would have been, not only the Moses, but the Joshua
of philosophy. He would have fulfilled a large part of his own
magnificent predictions. He would have led his followers, not
only to the verge, but into the heart of the promised land. He
would not merely have pointed out, but would have divided the
spoil. Above all, he would have left, not only a great, but a
spotless name. Mankind would then have been able to esteem their
illustrious benefactor. We should not then be compelled to regard
his character with mingled contempt and admiration, with mingled
aversion and gratitude. We should not then regret that there
should be so many proofs of the narrowness and selfishness of a
heart, the benevolence of which was large enough to take in all
races and all ages. We should not then have to blush for the
disingenuousness of the most devoted worshipper of speculative
truth, for the servility of the boldest champion of intellectual
freedom. We should not then have seen the same man at one time
far in the van, and at another time far in the rear of his
generation. We should not then be forced to own that he who first
treated legislation as a science was among the last Englishmen
who used the rack, that he who first summoned philosophers to the
great work of interpreting nature was among the last Englishmen
who sold justice. And we should conclude our survey of a life
placidly, honourably, beneficently passed, "in industrious
observations, grounded conclusions, and profitable inventions
and discoveries," [From a Letter of Bacon to Lord Burleigh.]
with feelings very different from those with which we now turn
away from the checkered spectacle of so much glory and so much


(December 1831)
The Pilgrim's Progress, with a Life of John Bunyan. By ROBERT
SOUTHEY, Esq., LL. D., Poet Laureate. Illustrated with
Engravings. 8vo. London: 1831.

THIS is an eminently beautiful and splendid edition of a book
which well deserves all that the printer and the engraver can do
for it. The Life of Bunyan is, of course, not a performance which
can add much to the literary reputation of such a writer as Mr.
Southey. But it is written in excellent English, and, for the
most part, in an excellent spirit. Mr. Southey propounds, we need
not say, many opinions from which we altogether dissent; and his
attempts to excuse the odious persecution to which Bunyan was
subjected have sometimes moved our indignation. But we will avoid
this topic. We are at present much more inclined to join in
paying homage to, the genius of a great man than to engage in a
controversy concerning church-government and toleration.

We must not pass without notice the engravings with which this
volume is decorated. Some of Mr. Harvey's woodcuts are admirably
designed and executed. Mr. Martin's illustrations do not please
us quite so well. His Valley of the Shadow of Death is not that
Valley of the Shadow of Death which Bunyan imagined. At all
events, it is not that dark and horrible glen which has from
childhood been in our mind's eye. The valley is a cave