Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Critical and Historical Essays — Volume 2
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Critical and Historical Essays — Volume 2" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



CRITICAL AND HISTORICAL ESSAYS, VOLUME II

By Thomas Babington Macaulay



FOREIGN HISTORY

MACHIAVELLI

RANKE’S HISTORY OF THE POPES

WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION

FREDERIC THE GREAT

POLITICAL CONTROVERSY

SOUTHEY’S COLLOQUIES

CIVIL DISABILITIES OF THE JEWS

GLADSTONE ON CHURCH AND STATE

LITERARY CRITICISMS

BACON

JOHN BUNYAN

DRAMATISTS OF THE RESTORATION

ADDISON

SAMUEL JOHNSON

MADAME D’ARBLAY

BYRON

MONTGOMERY

INDEX



MACHIAVELLI


(March 1827) _Oeuvres completes de MACHIAVEL, traduites par J. V. PERIER
Paris: 1825._


|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 court.

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
antiquarians.]

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 Protestant.

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 length.

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 education.

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 Greece.

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, despair.

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 intelligence.

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 countries.

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 the conduct 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 forcibly, 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 inconceivable.

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 it.

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 Cambray.

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 subject.

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!



VON RANKE


(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 it.

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, a 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 Reformation.

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, powerful, 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 themselves.=

```“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 applause.

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 sufficient 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 attention.

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 preserved.



WAR OF THE SUCCESSION IN SPAIN


(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 own.

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 rags.

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 intelligence.

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 aversion.

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 advantage.

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
conversation.

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 war.

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 blow.

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 advantage.

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 women.

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 starved.

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 Arragon.

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 Kit-cat.

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 literature.



FREDERIC THE GREAT


(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 kingdom.

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 ungraciously.

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
flattered 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 cabinet.

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 dominions.

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 Birmingham.

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 all 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 withdrawn.

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 Baden.

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
Brandenburg.

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 formidable.

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.

Some 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
dominions.

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 sincerity.

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
respectful.

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.
Twenty-seven 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 day 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
victories.

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 France.

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 last.

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
East.

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.



SOUTHEY’S COLLOQUIES


(Jan, 1830) _Sir Thomas More; or, colloquies on the Progress and
Prospects of Society. By ROBERT SOUTHEY Esq., LL.D., Poet Laureate. 2
vols. 8vo. 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 tastes.

Some 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 described,=

```“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 he 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
Meillerie.

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
brilliancy.

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
persons 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 row.

“‘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 represents.”

“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 shade.

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 case.

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 opinion.”

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 power.

“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 since.

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
tyranny.

“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 ancestors.

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 curious.

“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 rulers.

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.



CIVIL DISABILITIES OF THE JEWS


(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 Jew.

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 calamities.

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 people”?

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.



GLADSTONE ON CHURCH AND STATE


(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 trial.

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 I 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 Commons.

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 Athenian:

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 religion.

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
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
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.

Again:

“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, “having 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 Christianity.

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 operation.

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 maintained.”

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 fitted.”

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 confine
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 ears.

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 interests?”

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 plume
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
truth.

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 censure.

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 Chillingworth.

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 ten.

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 deceived=

```“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 harm.

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 Scotland.

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.



FRANCIS BACON


(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 wrong.

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 mind.

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 party.

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 governed.

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 origin.

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 epistles.

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 profession.

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
piscary.

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
of 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 Shire.

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 blot 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 matter.”

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 to 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 Third?

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 to look within. The difference between
the soaring angel and the creeping 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 sworn 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 with 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 submissively 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 innocence.

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 suitors.

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 it.

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 sense.

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 judges.

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
sprang.

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 philosophiarum.]

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,=

```“O 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 widely 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 conjurers.

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 numbered.

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 Philosophiarum.]

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 attention of a man of liberal
education. “Cogitavit,” says Bacon of himself, “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 work.

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 another.

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
Organum, 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 induction.

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 absurdity.

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 all 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 performed.

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 knowledge.

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 him.

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 letters.

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 Beersheba.

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
shame.



JOHN BUNYAN


(December 1831) _The Pilgrim’s Progress, with a Life of John Bunyan.
By