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 ]

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, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. (5 of 6) - With a Memoir and Index
Author: Macaulay, Thomas Babbington
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, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. (5 of 6) - With a Memoir and Index" ***

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


By Lord Macaulay

With a Memoir and Index

In Six Volumes

Vol. V.

New York: Published by Sheldon and Company.


[Illustration: 0011]



(_Edinburgh Review_), October, 1841.

We {1}are inclined to think that we shall best meet the wishes of our
readers, if, instead of minutely examining this book, we attempt to
give, in a way necessarily hasty and imperfect, our own view of the life
and character of Mr. Hastings. Our feeling towards him is not exactly
that of the House of Commons which impeached him in 1787; neither is it
that of the House of Commons which uncovered and stood up to receive him
in 1813. He had great qualities, and he rendered great services to the
state. But to represent him as a man of stainless virtue is to make him
ridiculous; and from regard for his memory, if from no other feeling,
his friends would have done well to lend no countenance to such
adulation. We believe that, if he were now living, he would have
sufficient judgment and sufficient greatness of mind to wish to be shown
as he was. He must have known that there were dark spots on his

     (1) _Memoirs of the Life of Warren Hastings, first Governor-
     General of Bengal_. Compiled from Original Papers, by the
     Rev. G. R. Glkio, M. A. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1841.

{2}fame. He might also have felt with pride that the splendour of his
fame would bear many spots. He would have wished posterity to have a
likeness of him, though an unfavourable likeness, rather than a daub
at once insipid and unnatural, resembling neither him nor anybody else.
\x93Paint me as I am,\x94 said Oliver Cromwell, while sitting to young
Lely. \x93If you leave out the scars and wrinkles, I will not pay you a
shilling.\x94 Even in such a trifle, the great Protector showed both
his good sense and his magnanimity. He did not wish all that was
characteristic in his countenance to be lost, in the vain attempt
to give him the regular features and smooth blooming cheeks of the
curl-pated minions of James the First. He was content that his face
should go forth marked with all the blemishes which had been put on it
by time, by war, by sleepless nights, by anxiety, perhaps by remorse;
but with valour, policy, authority, and public care written in all its
princely lines. If men truly great knew their own interest, it is thus
that they would wish their minds to be portrayed.

Warren Hastings sprang from an ancient and illustrious race. It has
been affirmed that his pedigree can be traced back to the great Danish
sea-king, whose sails were long the terror of both coasts of the British
Channel, and who, after many fierce and doubtful struggles, yielded at
last to the valour and genius of Alfred. But the undoubted splendour
of the line of Hastings needs no illustration from fable. One branch of
that line wore, in the fourteenth century, the coronet of Pembroke. From
another branch sprang the renowned Chamberlain, the faithful adherent
of the White Rose, whose fate has furnished so striking a theme both to
poets and to historians. His family received from the Tudors the earldom
of Huntingdon, which, after long {3}dispossession, was regained in our
time by a series of events scarcely paralleled in romance.

The lords of the manor of Daylesford, in Worcestershire, claimed to be
considered as the heads of this distinguished family. The main stock,
indeed, prospered less than some of the younger shoots. But the
Daylesford family, though not ennobled, was wealthy and highly
considered, till, about two hundred years ago, it was overwhelmed by
the great ruin of the civil war. The Hastings of that time was a zealous
cavalier. He raised money on his lands, sent his plate to the mint at
Oxford, joined the royal army, and, after spending half his property
in the cause of King Charles, was glad to ransom himself by making
over most of the remaining half to Speaker Lenthal. The old seat at
Daylesford still remained in the family; but it could no longer be kept
up; and in the following generation it was sold to a merchant of London.

Before this transfer took place, the last Hastings of Daylesford had
presented his second son to the rectory of the parish in which the
ancient residence of the family stood. The living was of little value;
and the situation of the poor clergyman, after the sale of the estate,
was deplorable. He was constantly engaged in lawsuits about his tithes
with the new lord of the manor, and was at length utterly ruined. His
eldest son, Howard, a well-conducted young man, obtained a place in
the customs. The second son, Pynaston, an idle, worthless boy, married
before he was sixteen, lost his wife in two years, and died in the West
Indies, leaving to the care of his unfortunate father a little orphan,
destined to strange and memorable vicissitudes of fortune.

Warren, the son of Pynaston, was born on the sixth {4}of December,
1732. His mother died a few days later, and he was left dependent on his
distressed grandfather. The child was early sent to the village school,
where he learned his letters on the same bench with the sons of the
peasantry; nor did any thing in his garb or fare indicate that his life
was to take a widely different course from that of the young rustics
with whom he studied and played. But no cloud could overcast the dawn
of so much genius and so much ambition. The very ploughmen observed, and
long remembered, how kindly little Warren took to his book. The daily
sight of the lands which his ancestors had possessed, and which had
passed into the hands of strangers, filled his young brain with wild
fancies and projects. He loved to hear stories of the wealth and
greatness of his progenitors, of their splendid housekeeping, their
loyalty, and their valour. On one bright, summer day, the boy, then just
seven years old, lay on the bank of the rivulet which flows through the
old domain of his house to join the Isis. There, as threescore and ten
years later he told the tale, rose in his mind a scheme which, through
all the turns of his eventful career, was never abandoned. He would
recover the estate which had belonged to his fathers. He would be
Hastings of Daylesford. This purpose, formed in infancy and poverty,
grew stronger as his intellect expanded and as his fortune rose. He
pursued his plan with that calm but indomitable force of will which was
the most striking peculiarity of his character. When, under a tropical
sun, he ruled fifty millions of Asiatics, his hopes, amidst all the
cares of war, finance, and legislation, still pointed to Daylesford. And
when his long public life, so singularly chequered with good and
evil, with glory and obloquy, had at length closed forever, it was to
Daylesford that he retired to die. {5}When he was eight years old, his
uncle Howard determined to take charge of him, and to give him a liberal
education. The boy went up to London, and was sent to a school at
Newington, where he was well taught but ill fed. He always attributed
the smallness of his stature to the hard and scanty fare of this
seminary. At ten he was removed to Westminster school, then
flourishing under the care of Dr. Nichols. Vinny Bourne, as his pupils
affectionately called him, was one of the masters. Churchill, Column,
Lloyd, Cumberland, Cowper, were among the students. With Cowper,
Hastings formed a friendship which neither the lapse of time, nor a wide
dissimilarity of opinions and pursuits, could wholly dissolve. It does
not appear that they ever met after they had grown to manhood. But
forty years later, when the voices of many great orators were crying
for vengeance on the oppressor of India, the shy and secluded poet could
image to himself Hastings the Governor-General only as the Hastings with
whom he had rowed on the Thames and played in the cloister, and refused
to believe that so good-tempered a fellow could have done any thing very
wrong. His own life had been spent in praying, musing, and rhyming among
the water-lilies of the Ouse. He had preserved in no common measure the
innocence of childhood. His spirit had indeed been severely tried, but
not by temptations which impelled him to any gross violation of the
rules of social morality. He had never been attacked by combinations
of powerful and deadly enemies. He had never been compelled to make a
choice between innocence and greatness, between crime and ruin. Firmly
as he held in theory the doctrine of human depravity, his habits were
such that he was unable to conceive how far from the path of right even
{6}kind and noble natures may be hurried by the rage of conflict and the
lust of dominion.

Hastings had another associate at Westminster of whom we shall have
occasion to make frequent mention, Elijah Impey. We know little about
their school days. But, we think, we may safely venture to guess that,
whenever Hastings wished to play any trick more than usually naughty, he
hired Impey with a tart or a ball to act as fag in the worst part of the

Warren was distinguished among his comrades as an excellent swimmer,
boatman, and scholar. At fourteen he was first in the examination for
the foundation. His name in gilded letters on the walls of the dormitory
still attests his victory over many older competitors. He stayed two
years longer at the school, and was looking forward to a studentship at
Christ Church, when an event happened which changed the whole course of
his life. Howard Hastings died, bequeathing has nephew to the care of a
friend and distant relation, named Chiswick. This gentleman, though he
did not absolutely refuse the charge, was desirous to rid himself of it
as soon as possible. Dr. Nichols made strong remonstrances against the
cruelty of interrupting the studies of a youth who seemed likely to
be one of the first scholars of the age. He even offered to bear the
expense of sending his favourite pupil to Oxford. But Mr. Chiswick
was inflexible. He thought the years which had already been wasted on
hexameters and pentameters quite sufficient. He had it in his power
to obtain for the lad a writership in the service of the East India
Company. Whether the young adventurer, when once shipped off, made a
fortune, or died of a liver complaint, he equally ceased to be a burden
to anybody. Warren was accordingly removed from Westminster {7}school,
and placed for a few months at a commercial academy, to study arithmetic
and book-keeping. In January 1750, a few days after he had completed his
seventeenth year, he sailed for Bengal, and arrived at his destination
in the October following.

He was immediately placed at a desk in the Secretary\x92s office at
Calcutta, and laboured there during two years. Fort William was then
purely a commercial settlement. In the south of India the encroaching
policy of Dupleix had transformed the servants of the English Company,
against their will, into diplomatists and generals. The war of the
succession was raging in the Carnatic; and the tide had been suddenly
turned against the French by the genius of young Robert Clive. But in
Bengal the European settlers, at peace with the natives and with each
other, were wholly occupied with ledgers and bills of lading.

After two years passed in keeping accounts at Calcutta, Hastings was
sent up the country to Cossimbazar, a town which lies on the Hoogley,
about a mile from Moorshedabad, and which then bore to Moorshedabad a
relation, if we may compare small things with great, such as the city
of London bears to Westminster. Moorshedabad was the abode of the prince
who, by an authority ostensibly derived from the Mogul, but really
independent, ruled the three great provinces of Bengal, Orissa, and
Bahar. At Moorshedabad were the court, the harem, and the public
offices. Cossimbazar was a port and a place of trade, renowned for the
quantity and excellence of the silks which were sold in its marts, and
constantly receiving and sending forth fleets of richly laden barges.
At this important point, the Company had established a small factory
subordinate to that of Fort William. {8}Here, during several years,
Hastings was employed in making bargains for stuff\x92s with native
brokers. While he was thus engaged, Surajah Dowlah succeeded to the
government, and declared war against the English. The defenceless
settlement of Cossimbazar, lying close to the tyrant\x92s capital, was
instantly seized. Hastings was sent a prisoner to Moorshedabad, but,
in consequence of the humane intervention of the servants of the Dutch
Company, was treated with indulgence. Meanwhile the Nabob marched on
Calcutta; the governor and the commandant fled; the town and citadel
were taken, and most of the English prisoners perished in the Black

In these events originated the greatness of Warren Hastings. The
fugitive governor and his companions had taken refuge on the dreary
islet of Fulda, near the mouth of the Hoogley. They were naturally
desirous to obtain full information respecting the proceedings of the
Nabob; and no person seemed so likely to furnish it as Hastings, who was
a prisoner at large in the immediate neighbourhood of the court. He thus
became a diplomatic agent, and soon established a high character for
ability and resolution. The treason which at a later period was fatal to
Surajah Dowlah was already in progress; and Hastings was admitted to
the deliberations of the conspirators. But the time for striking had not
arrived. It was necessary to postpone the execution of the design; and
Hastings, who was now in extreme peril, fled to Fulda.

Soon after his arrival at Fulda, the expedition from Madras, commanded
by Clive, appeared in the Hoogley. Warren, young, intrepid, and excited
probably by the example of the Commander of the Forces who, having like
himself been a mercantile agent of the {9}Company, had been turned by
public calamities into a soldier, determined to serve in the ranks.
During the early operations of the war he carried a musket. But the
quick eye of Clive soon perceived that the head of the young volunteer
would be more useful than his arm. When, after the battle of Plassey,
Meer Jaffier was proclaimed Nabob of Bengal, Hastings was appointed to
reside at the court of the new prince as agent for the Company.

He remained at Moorshedabad till the year 1761, when he became a member
of Council, and was consequently forced to reside at Calcutta. This was
during the interval between Clive\x92s first and second administration, an
interval which has left on the fame of the East India Company a stain
not wholly effaced by many years of just and humane government. Mr.
Vansittart, the Governor, was at the head of a new and anomalous empire.
On one side was a band of English functionaries, daring, intelligent,
eager to be rich. On the other side was a great native population,
helpless, timid, accustomed to crouch under oppression. To keep the
stronger race from preying on the weaker, was an undertaking which
tasked to the utmost the talents and energy of Clive. Vansittart, with
fair intentions, was a feeble and inefficient ruler. The master caste,
as was natural, broke loose from all restraint; and then was seen what
we believe to be the most frightful of all spectacles, the strength of
civilisation without its mercy. To all other despotism there is a cheek,
imperfect indeed, and liable to gross abuse, but still sufficient to
preserve society from the last extreme of misery. A time comes when the
evils of submission are obviously greater than those of resistance, when
fear itself begets a sort of courage, {10}when a convulsive burst of
popular rage and despair warns tyrants not to presume too far on the
patience of mankind. But against misgovernment such as then afflicted
Bengal, it was impossible to struggle. The superior intelligence and
energy of the dominant class made their power irresistible. A war of
Bengalees against Englishmen was like a war of sheep against wolves, of
men against daemons. The only protection which the conquered could find
was in the moderation, the clemency, and the enlarged policy of the
conquerors. That protection, at a later period, they found. But at first
English power came among them unaccompanied by English morality. There
was an interval between the time at which they became our subjects, and
the time at which we began to reflect that we were bound to discharge
towards them the duties of rulers.

During that interval the business of a servant of the Company was simply
to wring out of the natives a hundred or two hundred thousand pounds as
speedily as possible, that he might return home before his constitution
had suffered from the heat, to many a peer\x92s daughter, to buy rotten
boroughs in Cornwall, and to give balls in St. James\x92s Square. Of the
conduct of Hastings at this time little is known; but the little that is
known, and the circumstance that little is known, must be considered as
honourable to him. He could not protect the natives: all that he could
do was to abstain from plundering and oppressing them; and this he
appears to have done. It is certain that at this time he continued poor;
and it is equally certain that by cruelty and dishonesty he might easily
have become rich. It is certain that he was never charged with having
borne a share in the worst abuses which then prevailed; and it is almost
equally certain that, if he {11}had borne a share in those abuses, the
able and bitter enemies who afterwards persecuted him would not have
failed to discover and to proclaim his guilt. The keen, severe, and
even malevolent scrutiny to which his whole public life was subjected,
a scrutiny unparalleled, as we believe, in the history of mankind, is in
one respect advantageous to his reputation. It brought many lamentable
blemishes to light; but it entitles him to be considered pure from every
blemish which has not been brought to light.

The truth is that the temptations to which so many English functionaries
yielded in the time of Mr. Vansittart were not temptations addressed
to the ruling passions of Warren Hastings. He was not squeamish in
pecuniary transactions; but he was neither sordid nor rapacious. He
was far too enlightened a man to look on a great empire merely as a
buccanier would look on a galleon. Had his heart been much worse than it
was, his understanding would have preserved him from that extremity of
baseness. He was an unscrupulous, perhaps an unprincipled statesman; but
still he was a statesman, and not a freebooter.

In 1704 Hastings returned to England. He had realized only a very
moderate fortune; and that moderate fortune was soon reduced to nothing,
partly by his praiseworthy liberality, and partly by his mismanagement.
Towards his relations he appears to have acted very generously. The
greater part of his savings he left in Bengal, hoping probably to obtain
the high usury of India. But high usury and bad security generally go
together; and Hastings lost both interest and principal.

He remained four years in England. Of his life at this time very little
is known. But it has been asserted, {12}and is highly probable, that
liberal studies and the society of men of letters occupied a great part
of his time. It is to be remembered to his honour that, in days when
the languages of the East were regarded by other servants of the Company
merely as the means of communicating with weavers and money-changers,
his enlarged and accomplished mind sought in Asiatic learning for new
forms of intellectual enjoyment, and for new views of government and
society. Perhaps, like most persons who have paid much attention to
departments of knowledge which He out of the common track, he was
inclined to overrate the value of his favourite studies. He conceived
that the cultivation of Persian literature might with advantage be made
a part of the liberal education of an English gentleman; and He drew
up a plan with that view. It is said that the University of Oxford, in
which Oriental learning had never, since the revival of letters,
been wholly neglected, was to be the seat of the institution which he
contemplated. An endowment was expected from the munificence of the
Company: and professors thoroughly competent to interpret Hafiz and
Ferdusi were to be engaged in the East. Hastings called on Johnson, with
the hope, as it should seem, of interesting in this project a man
who enjoyed the highest literary reputation, and who was particularly
connected with Oxford. The interview appears to have left on Johnson\x92s
mind a most favourable impression of the talents and attainments of his
visiter. Long after, when Hastings was ruling the immense population
of British India, the old philosopher wrote to him, and referred in
the most courtly terms, though with great dignity, to their short but
agreeable intercourse.

Hastings soon began to look again towards India. {13}He had little to
attach him to England; and his pecuniary embarrassments were great. He
solicited his old masters the Directors for employment. They acceded
to his request, with high compliments both to his abilities and to his
integrity, and appointed him a Member of Council at Madras. It would
be unjust not to mention that, though forced to borrow money for
his outfit, he did not withdraw any portion of the sum which he had
appropriated to the relief of his distressed relations. In the spring of
1769 he embarked on board of the Duke of Grafton, and commenced a voyage
distinguished by incidents which might furnish matter for a novel.

Among the passengers in the Duke of Grafton was a German by the name
of Imhoff. He called himself a Baron; but he was in distressed
circumstances, and was going out to Madras as a portrait-painter, in the
hope of picking up some of the pagodas which were then lightly got and
as lightly spent by the English in India. The Baron was accompanied by
his wife, a native, we have somewhere read, of Archangel. This young
woman, who, born under the Arctic circle, was destined to play the
part of a Queen under the tropic of Cancer, had an agreeable person,
a cultivated mind, and manners in the highest decree engaging. She
despised her husband heartily, and, as the story which we have to tell
sufficiently proves, not without reason. She was interested by the
conversation and flattered by the attentions of Hastings. The situation
was indeed perilous. No place is so propitious to the formation either
of close friendships or of deadly enmities as an Indiaman. There are
very few people who do not find a voyage which lasts several months
insupportably dull. Any thing is welcome which may {14}break that
long monotony, a sail, a shark, an albatross, a man overboard. Most
passengers find some resource in eating twice as many meals as on land.
But the great devices for killing the time are quarrelling and flirting.
The facilities for both these exciting pursuits are great. The inmates
of the ship are thrown together far more than in any country-seat or
boarding-house. None can escape from the rest except by imprisoning
himself in a cell in which he can hardly turn. All food, all exercise,
is taken in company. Ceremony is to a great extent banished. It is
every day in the power of a mischievous person to inflict innumerable
annoyances. It is every day in the power of an amiable person to confer
little services. It not seldom happens that serious distress and danger
call forth, in genuine beauty and deformity, heroic virtues and abject
vices which, in the ordinary intercourse of good society, might remain
during many years unknown even to intimate associates. Under such
circumstances met Warren Hastings and the Baroness Imhoff, two persons
whose accomplishments would have attracted notice in any court of
Europe. The gentleman had no domestic ties. The lady was tied to a
husband for whom she had no regard, and who had no regard for his own
honour. An attachment sprang up, which was soon strengthened by events
such as could hardly have occurred on land. Hastings fell ill. The
Baroness nursed him with womanly tenderness, gave him his medicines with
her own hand, and even sat up in his cabin while he slept. Long before
the Duke of Grafton reached Madras, Hastings was in love. But his love
was of a most characteristic description. Like his hatred, like his
ambition, like all his passions, it was strong but not impetuous. It was
calm, deep, earnest, {15}patient of delay, unconquerable by time.
Imhoff was called into council by his wife and his wife\x92s lover. It was
arranged that the Baroness should institute a suit for a divorce in the
courts of Franconia, that the Baron should afford every facility to the
proceeding, and that, during the years which might elapse before the
sentence should be pronounced, they should continue to live together. It
was also agreed that Hastings should bestow some very substantial marks
of gratitude on the complaisant husband, and should, when the marriage
was dissolved, make the lady his wife, and adopt the children whom she
had already borne to Imhoff.

At Madras, Hastings found the trade of the Company in a very
disorganised state. His own tastes would have led him rather to
political than to commercial pursuits: but he knew that the favour
of his employers depended chiefly on their dividends, and that their
dividends depended chiefly on the investment. He, therefore, with great
judgment, determined to apply his vigorous mind for a time to this
department of business, which had been much neglected, since the
servants of the Company had ceased to be clerks, and had become warriors
and negotiators.

In a very few months he effected an important reform. The Directors
notified to him their high approbation, and were so much pleased
with his conduct that they determined to place him at the head of the
government of Bengal. Early in 1772 he quitted Fort St. George for his
new post. The Imhoffs, who were still man and wife, accompanied him,
and lived at Calcutta on the same plan which they had already followed
during more than two years.

When Hastings took his seat at the head of the council board, Bengal was
still governed according to {16}the system which Clive had devised,
a system which was, perhaps, skilfully contrived for the purpose of
facilitating and concealing a great revolution, but which, when that
revolution was complete and irrevocable, could produce nothing but
inconvenience. There were two governments, the real and the ostensible.
The supreme power belonged to the Company, and was in truth the most
despotic power that can be conceived. The only restraint on the English
masters of the country was that which their own justice and humanity
imposed on them. There was no constitutional check on their will, and
resistance to them was utterly hopeless.

But though thus absolute in reality, the English had not yet assumed
the style of sovereignty. They held their territories as vassals of the
throne of Delhi; they raised their revenues as collectors appointed by
the imperial commission; the public seal was inscribed with the imperial
titles; and their mint struck only the imperial coin.

There was still a nabob of Bengal, who stood to the English rulers of
his country in the same relation in which Augustulus stood to Odoacer,
or the last Merovingians to Charles Martel and Pepin. He lived at
Moorshedabad, surrounded by princely magnificence. He was approached
with outward marks of reverence, and his name was used in public
instruments. But in the government of the country he had less real share
than the youngest writer or cadet in the Company\x92s service.

The English Council which represented the Company at Calcutta was
constituted on a very different plan from that which has since been
adopted. At present the Governor is, as to all executive measures,
absolute. He {17}can declare war, conclude peace, appoint public
functionaries or remove them, in opposition to the unanimous sense of
those who sit with him in council. They are, indeed, entitled to
know all that is done, to discuss all that is done, to advise, to
remonstrate, to send protests to England. But it is with the Governor
that the supreme power resides, and on him that the whole responsibility
rests. This system, which was introduced by Mr. Pitt and Mr. Dundas in
spite of the strenuous opposition of Mr. Burke, we conceive to be on
the whole the best that was ever devised for the government of a country
where no materials can be found for a representative constitution. In
the time of Hastings the Governor had only one vote in council, and,
in case of an equal division a casting vote. It therefore happened not
unfrequently that he was overruled on the gravest questions; and it was
possible that he might be wholly excluded, for years together, from the
real direction of public affairs.

The English functionaries at Fort William had as yet paid little or
no attention to the internal government of Bengal. The only branch of
politics about which they much busied themselves was negotiation with
the native princes. The police, the administration of justice, the
details of the collection of revenue, were almost entirely neglected.
We may remark that the phraseology of the Company\x92s servants still bears
the traces of this state of things. To this day they always use the word
\x93political\x94 as synonymous with \x93diplomatic.\x94 We could name a gentleman
still living, who was described by the highest authority as an
invaluable public servant, eminently fit to be at the head of the
internal administration of a whole presidency, but unfortunately quite
ignorant of all political business. {18}The internal government of
Bengal the English rulers delegated to a great native minister, who was
stationed at Moorshedabad. All military affairs, and with the exception
of what pertains to mere ceremonial, all foreign affairs, were withdrawn
from his control; but the other departments of the administration were
entirely confided to him. His own stipend amounted to near a hundred
thousand pounds sterling a year. The personal allowance of the nabob,
amounting to more than three hundred thousand pounds a year, passed
through the minister\x92s hands, and was, to a great extent, at his
disposal. The collection of the revenue, the administration of justice,
the maintenance of order, were left to this high functionary; and for
the exercise of his immense power he was responsible to none but the
British masters of the country.

A situation so important, lucrative, and splendid, was naturally an
object of ambition to the ablest and most powerful natives. Clive
had found it difficult to decide between conflicting pretensions.
Two candidates stood out prominently from the crowd, each of them the
representative of a race and of a religion.

One of these was Mahommed Reza Khan, a Mussulman of Persian extraction,
able, active, religious after the fashion of his people, and highly
esteemed by them. In England he might perhaps have been regarded as
a corrupt and greedy politician. But, tried by the lower standard
of Indian morality, he might be considered as a man of integrity and

His competitor was a Hindoo Brahmin whose name has, by a terrible and
melancholy event, been inseparably associated with that of Warren
Hastings, the Maharajah Nuncomar. This man had played an important part
in all the revolutions which, since the {19}time of Surajah Dowlah,
had taken place in Bengal. To the consideration which in that country
belongs to high and pure caste, he added the weight which is derived
from wealth, talents, and experience. Of his moral character it is
difficult to give a notion to those who are acquainted with human nature
only as it appears in our island. What the Italian is to the Englishman,
what the Hindoo is to the Italian, what the Bengalee is to other
Hindoos, that was Nuncomar to other Bengalees. The physical organization
of the Bengalee is feeble even to effeminacy. He lives in a constant
vapour bath. His pursuits are sedentary, his limbs delicate, his
movements languid. During many ages he has been trampled upon by men
of bolder and more hardy breeds. Courage, independence, veracity,
are qualities to which his constitution and his situation are equally
unfavourable. His mind bears a singular analogy to his body. It is
weak even to helplessness for purposes of manly resistance; but its
suppleness and its tact move the children of sterner climates to
admiration not unmingled with contempt. All those arts which are the
natural defence of the weak are more familiar to this subtle race than
to the Ionian of the time of Juvenal, or to the Jew of the dark ages.
What the horns are to the buffalo, what the paw is to the tiger, what
the sting is to the bee, what beauty, according to the old Greek song,
is to woman, deceit is to the Bengalee. Large promises, smooth excuses,
elaborate tissues of circumstantial falsehood, chicanery, perjury,
forgery, are the weapons, offensive and defensive, of the people of the
Lower Ganges. All those millions do not furnish one sepoy to the armies
of the Company. But as usurers, as money-changers, as sharp legal
practitioners, no class of human beings can {20}bear a comparison with
them. With all his softness, the Bengalee is by no means placable in his
enmities or prone to pity. The pertinacity with which he adheres to his
purposes yields only to the immediate pressure of fear. Nor does he
lack a certain kind of courage which is often wanting to his masters.
To inevitable evils he is sometimes found to oppose a passive fortitude,
such as the Stoics attributed to their ideal sage. An European warrior
who rushes on a battery of cannon with a loud hurrah, will sometimes
shriek under the surgeon\x92s knife, and fall into an agony of despair
at the sentence of death. But the Bengalee, who would see his country
overrun, his house laid in ashes, his children murdered or dishonoured,
without having the spirit to strike one blow, has yet been known to
endure torture with the firmness of Mucins, and to mount the scaffold
with the steady step and even pulse of Algernon Sidney.

In Nuncomar, the national character was strongly and with exaggeration
personified. The Company\x92s servants had repeatedly detected him in
the most criminal intrigues. On one occasion he brought a false charge
against another Hindoo, and tried to substantiate it by producing forged
documents. On another occasion it was discovered that, while professing
the strongest attachment to the English, he was engaged in several
conspiracies against them, and in particular that he was the medium of a
correspondence between the court of Delhi and the French authorities in
the Carnatic. For these and similar practices he had been long detained
in confinement. But his talents and influence had not only procured his
liberation, but had obtained for him a certain degree of consideration
even amoung the British rulers of his country {21}Clive was extremely
unwilling to place a Mussulman at the head of the administration of
Bengal. On the other hand, he could not bring himself to confer immense
power on a man to whom every sort of villainy had repeatedly been
brought home. Therefore, though the nabob, over whom Nuncomar had by
intrigue acquired great influence, begged that the artful Hindoo might
be intrusted with the government, Clive, after some hesitation, decided
honestly and wisely in favour of Mahommed Reza Khan. When Hastings
became Governor, Mahommed Reza Khan had held power seven years. An
infant son of Meer Jaffier was now nabob; and the guardianship of the
young prince\x92s person had been confided to the minister.

Nuncomar, stimulated at once by cupidity and malice, had been constantly
attempting to hurt the reputation of his successful rival. This was not
difficult. The revenues of Bengal, under the administration established
by Clive, did not yield such a surplus as had been anticipated by the
Company; for, at that time, the most absurd notions were entertained in
England respecting the wealth of India. Palaces of porphyry, hung with
the richest brocade, heaps of pearls and diamonds, vaults from which
pagodas and gold mohurs were measured out by the bushel, filled the
imagination even of men of business. Nobody seemed to be aware of what
nevertheless was most undoubtedly the truth, that India was a poorer
country than countries which in Europe are reckoned poor, than Ireland,
for example, or than Portugal. It was confidently believed by Lords of
the Treasury, and members for the city that Bengal would not only
defray its own charges, but would a afford an increased dividend to the
proprietors of India stock, and large relief to the English finances.

{22}These absurd expectations were disappointed; and the Directors,
naturally enough, chose to attribute the disappointment rather to the
mismanagement of Mahommed Reza Kahn than to their own ignorance of the
country intrusted to their care. They were continued in their error
by the agents of Nuncomar; for Nuncomar had agents even in Leadenhall
Street. Soon after Hastings reached Calcutta, he received a letter
addressed by the Court of Directors, not to the council generally, but
to himself in particular. He was directed to remove Mahommed Reza Kahn,
to arrest him together with all his family and all his partisans, and
to institute a strict inquiry into the whole administration of the
province. It was added that the Governor would do well to avail himself
of the assistance of Nuncomar in the investigation. The vices of
Nuncomar were acknowledged. But even from his vices, it was said, much
advantage might at such a conjuncture be derived; and, though he could
not safely be trusted, it might still be proper to encourage him by
hopes of reward.

The Governor bore no good will to Nuncomar. Many years before they had
known each other at Moorshedabad; and then a quarrel had arisen between
them which all the authority of their superiors could hardly compose.
Widely as they differed in most points, they resembled each other in
this, that both were men of unforgiving natures. To Mahommed Reza Khan,
on the other hand, Hastings had no feelings of hostility. Nevertheless
he proceeded to execute the instructions of the Company with an
alacrity which he never showed, except when instructions were in perfect
conformity with his own views. He had, wisely as we think, determined to
get rid of the system of double {23}government in Bengal. The orders of
the Directors furnished him with the means of effecting his purpose,
and dispensed him from the necessity of discussing the matter with his
Council. He took his measures with his usual vigour and dexterity.
At midnight, the palace of Mahommed Reza Khan at Moorshedabad was
surrounded by a battalion of sepoys. The minister was roused from
his slumbers and informed that he was a prisoner. With the Mussulman
gravity, he bent his head and submitted himself to the will of God. He
fell not alone. A chief named Schitab Roy had been intrusted with the
government of Ballar. His valour and his attachment to the English had
more than once been signally proved. On that memorable day on which
the people of Patna saw from their walls the whole army of the Mogul
scattered by the little band of Captain Knox, the voice of the British
conquerors assigned the palm of gallantry to the brave Asiatic. \x93I
never,\x94 said Knox, when he introduced Schitab Roy, covered with blood
and dust, to the English functionaries assembled in the factory, \x93I
never saw a native fight so before.\x94 Schitab Roy was involved in the
ruin of Mahommed Reza Khan, was removed from office, and was placed
under arrest. The members of the Council received no intimation of these
measures till the prisoners were on their road to Calcutta.

The inquiry into the conduct of the minister was postponed on different
pretences. He was detained in an easy confinement during many months.
In the mean time, the great revolution which Hastings had planned was
carried into effect. The office of minister was abolished. The internal
administration was transferred to the servants of the Company. A system,
a very imperfect system, it is true, of civil and criminal {24}justice,
under English superintendence, was established. The nabob was no longer
to have even an ostensible share in the government; but he was still to
receive a considerable annual allowance, and to be surrounded with the
state of sovereignty. As he was an infant, it was necessary to provide
guardians for his person and property. His person was intrusted to a
lady of his father\x92s harem, known by the name of the Munny Begnin. The
office of treasurer of the household was bestowed on a son of Kuncomar,
named Goordas. Nuncomar\x92s services were wanted; yet he could not safely
be trusted with power; and Hastings thought it a masterstroke of policy
to reward the able and unprincipled parent by promoting the inoffensive

The revolution completed, the double government dissolved, the Company
installed in the full sovereignty of Bengal, Hastings had no motive to
treat the late ministers with rigour. Their trial had been put off on
various pleas till the new organization was complete. They were then
brought before a committee, over which the Governor presided. Schitab
Roy was speedily acquitted with honour. A formal apology was made to him
for the restraint to which he had been subjected. All the Eastern marks
of respect were bestowed on him. He was clothed in a robe of state,
presented with jewels and with a richly harnessed elephant, and sent
back to his government at Patna. But his health had suffered from
confinement; his high spirit had been cruelly wounded; and soon after
his liberation he died of a broken heart.

The innocence of Mahommed Reza Khan was not so clearly established. But
the Governor was not disposed to deal harshly. After a long hearing, in
which Nuncomar appeared as the accuser, and displayed {25}both the art
and the inveterate rancour which distinguished him, Hastings pronounced
that the charge had not been made out, and ordered the fallen minister
to be set at liberty.

Nuncomar had purposed to destroy the Mussulman administration, and
to rise on its ruin. Both his malevolence and his cupidity had been
disappointed. Hastings had made him a tool, had used him for the purpose
of accomplishing the transfer of the government from Moorshedabad to
Calcutta, from native to European hands. The rival, the enemy, so
long envied, so implacably persecuted, had been dismissed unhurt.
The situation so long and ardently desired had been abolished. It was
natural that the Governor should be from that time an object of the
most intense hatred to the vindictive Brahmin. As yet, however, it was
necessary to suppress such feelings. The time was coming when that long
animosity was to end in a desperate and deadly struggle.

In the mean time, Hastings was compelled to turn his attention to
foreign affairs. The object of his diplomacy was at this time simply to
get money. The finances of his government were in an embarrassed state,
and this embarrassment he was determined to relieve by some means,
fair or foul. The principle which directed all his dealings with his
neighbours is fully expressed by the old motto of one of the great
predatory families of Teviotdale, \x93Thou shalt want ere I want.\x94 He seems
to have laid it down, as a fundamental proposition which could not be
disputed, that, when he had not as many lacs of rupees as the public
service required, he was to take them from anybody who had. One thing,
indeed, is to be said in excuse for him. The pressure applied to him by
his {26}employers at home, was such that only the highest virtue could
have withstood, such as left him no choice except to commit great
wrongs, or to resign his high post, and with that post all his hopes of
fortune and distinction. The Directors, it is true, never enjoined or
applauded any crime. Far from it. Whoever examines their letters written
at that time will find there many just and humane sentiments, many
excellent precepts, in short, an admirable code of political ethics.
But every exhortation is modified or nullified by a demand for money.
\x93Govern leniently, and send more money; practise strict justice and
moderation towards neighbouring powers, and send more money;\x94 this is in
truth the sum of almost all the instructions that Hastings ever received
from home. Now these instructions, being interpreted, mean simply, \x93Be
the father and the oppressor of the people; be just and unjust, moderate
and rapacious.\x94 The Directors dealt with India, as the church, in the
good old times, dealt with a heretic. They delivered the victim over to
the executioners, with an earnest request that all possible tenderness
might be shown. We by no means accuse or suspect those who framed these
despatches of hypocrisy. It is probable that, writing fifteen thousand
miles from the place where their orders were to be carried into effect,
they never perceived the gross inconsistency of which they were guilty.
But the inconsistency was at once manifest to their vicegerent at
Calcutta, who, with an empty treasury, with an unpaid army, with his own
salary often in arrear, with deficient crops, with government tenants
daily running away, was called upon to remit home another half million
without fail. Hastings saw that it was absolutely necessary for him to
disregard either the moral discourses or the pecuniary {27}requisitions
of his employers. Being forced to disobey them in something, He had to
consider what kind of disobedience they would most readily pardon;
and he correctly judged that the safest course would be to neglect the
sermons and to find the rupees.

A mind so fertile as his, and so little restrained by conscientious
scruples, speedily discovered several modes of relieving; the financial
embarrassments of the government. The allowance of the Nabob of Bengal
was reduced at a stroke from three hundred and twenty thousand pounds
a year to half that sum. The Company had bound itself to pay near three
hundred thousand pounds a year to the Great Mogul, as a mark of homage
for the provinces which he had intrusted to their care; and they had
ceded to him the districts of Corali and Allahabad. On the plea that
the Mogul was not really independent, but merely a tool in the hands of
others, Hastings determined to retract these concessions. He accordingly
declared that the English would pay no more tribute, and sent troops to
occupy Allahabad and Corah. The situation of these places was such, that
there would be little advantage and great expense in retaining them.
Hastings, who wanted money and not territory, determined to sell them. A
purchaser was not wanting. The rich province of Oude had, in the general
dissolution of the Mogul Empire, fallen to the share of the great
Mussulman house by which it is still governed. About twenty years ago,
this house, by the permission of the British government, assumed the
royal title; but in the time of Warren Hastings such an assumption would
have been considered by the Mahommedans of India as a monstrous impiety.
The Prince of Oude, though he held the power, did not venture to use
the style of {28}sovereignty. To the appellation of Nabob or Viceroy, be
added that of Vizier of the monarchy of Hindustan, just as in the last
century the Electors of Saxony and Brandenburg, though independent
of the Emperor, and often in arms against him, were proud to style
themselves his Grand Chamberlain and Grand Marshal. Sujah Dowlah, then
Nabob Vizier, was on excellent terms with the English. He had a large
treasure. Allahabad and Corah were so situated that they might be of use
to him and could be of none to the Company. The buyer and seller soon
came to an understanding; and the provinces which had been torn from the
Mogul were made over to the government of Onde for about half a million

But there was another matter still more important to be settled by the
Vizier and the Governor. The fate of a brave people was to be decided.
It was decided in a manner which has left a lasting stain on the fame of
Hastings and of England.

The people of Central Asia had always been to the inhabitants of India
what the warriors of the German forests were to the subjects of the
decaying monarchy of Rome. The dark, slender, and timid Hindoo shrank
from a conflict with the strong muscle and resolute spirit of the fair
race, which dwelt beyond the passes. There is reason to believe that, at
a period anterior to the dawn of regular history, the people who spoke
the rich and flexible Sanscrit came from regions lying far beyond the
Hyphasis and the Hystaspes, and imposed their yoke on the children
of the soil. It is certain that, during the last ten centuries, a
succession of invaders descended from the west on Hindustan; nor was the
course of conquest ever turned back towards the setting sun, till that
memorable campaign in which {29}the cross of Saint George was planted on
the walls of Ghizni.

The Emperors of Hindostan themselves came from the other side of the
Great Mountain ridge; and it had always been their practice to recruit
their army from the hardy and valiant race from which their own
illustrious house sprang. Among the military adventurers who were
allured to the Mogul standards from the neighbourhood of Cabul and
Candahar, were conspicuous several gallant bands, known by the name
of the Rohillas. Their services had been rewarded with large tracts
of land, fiefs of the spear, if we may use an expression drawn from
an analogous state of things, in that fertile plain through which the
Ramgunga flows from the snowy heights of Kumaon to join the Ganges.
In the general confusion which followed the death of Aurungzebe,
the warlike colony became virtually independent. The Rohillas were
distinguished from the other inhabitants of India by a peculiarly fair
complexion. They were more honorably distinguished by courage in war,
and by skill in the arts of peace. While anarchy raged from Lahore to
Cape Comorin, their little territory enjoyed the blessings of repose
under the guardianship of valour. Agriculture and commerce flourished
among them; nor were they negligent of rhetoric and poetry. Many persons
now living have heard aged men talk with regret of the golden days when
the Afghan princes ruled in the vale of Rohilcund.

Sujah Dowlah had set his heart on adding this rich district to his own
principality. Right or show of right, he had absolutely none. His claim
was in no respect better founded than that of Catherine to Poland,
or that of the Bonaparte family to Spain. The Rohillas {30}held their
country by exactly the same title by which he held his, and had Governed
their country far better than his had ever been Governed. Nor were they
a people whom it was perfectly safe to attack. Their land was indeed an
open plain destitute of natural defences; but their veins were full of
the high blood of Afghanistan. As soldiers, they had not the steadiness
which is seldom found except in company with strict discipline; but
their impetuous valour had been proved on many fields of battle. It was
said that their chiefs, when united by common peril, could bring eighty
thousand men into the field. Sujah Dowlah had himself seen them fight,
and wisely shrank from a conflict with them. There was in India one
army, and only one, against which even those proud Caucasian tribes
could not stand. It had been abundantly proved that neither tenfold
odds, nor the martial ardour of the boldest Asiatic nations, could avail
aught against Eng-fish science and resolution. Was it possible to induce
the Governor of Bengal to let out to hire the irresistible energies
of the imperial people, the skill against which the ablest chiefs of
Hindostan were helpless as infants, the discipline which had so often
triumphed over the frantic struggles of fanaticism and despair, the
unconquerable British courage which is never so sedate and stubborn as
towards the close of a doubtful and murderous day?

This was what the Nabob Vizier asked, and what Hastings granted. A
bargain was soon struck. Each of the negotiators had what the other
wanted. Hastings was in need of funds to carry on the government of
Bengal, and to send remittances to London: and Sujah Dowlali had an
ample revenue. Sujah Dowlali was bent on subjugating the Rohillas; and
Hastings {31}had at his disposal the only force by which the Rohillas
could be subjugated. It was agreed that an English army should be lent
to the Nabob Vizier, and that, for the loan, he should pay four hundred
thousand pounds sterling, besides defraying all the charge of the troops
while employed in his service.

\x93I really cannot see,\x94 says Mr. Gleig, \x93upon what grounds, either of
political or moral justice, this proposition deserves to be stigmatized
as infamous.\x94 If we understand the meaning of words, it is infamous
to commit a wicked action for hire, and it is wicked to engage in war
without provocation. In this particular war, scarcely one aggravating
circumstance was wanting. The object of the Rohilla war was this, to
deprive a large population, who had never done us the least harm, of
a good government, and to place them, against their will, under an
execrably bad one. Nay, even this is not all. England now descended far
below the level even of those petty German princes who, about the same
time, sold us troops to fight the Americans. The hussar-mongers of Hesse
and Anspach had at least the assurance that the expeditions on which
their soldiers were to be employed would be conducted in conformity with
the humane rules of civilised warfare. Was the Rohilla war likely to be
so conducted? Did the Governor stipulate that it should be so conducted?
He well knew what Indian warfare was. He well knew that the power
which he covenanted to put into Sujah Dowlah\x92s hands would, in all
probability, be atrociously abused; and he required no guarantee, no
promise that it should not be so abused. He did not even reserve to
himself the right of withdrawing his aid in case of abuse, however
gross. We are almost ashamed to notice Major Scott\x92s plea, that Hastings
{32}was justified in letting out English troops to slaughter the
Rohillas, because the Rohillas were not of Indian race, but a colony
from a distant country. What were the English themselves? Was it for
them to proclaim a crusade for the expulsion of all intruders from the
countries watered by the Ganges? Did it lie in their mouths to contend
that a foreign settler who establishes an empire in India is a _caput
lupinum_? What would they have said if any other power had, on such a
ground, attacked Madras or Calcutta, without the slightest provocation?
Such a defence was wanting to make the infamy of the transaction
complete. The atrocity of the crime, and the hypocrisy of the apology,
are worthy of each other.

One of the three brigades of which the Bengal army consisted was sent
under Colonel Champion to join Sujah Dowlah\x92s forces. The Rohillas
expostulated, entreated, offered a large ransom, but in vain. They then
resolved to defend themselves to the last. A bloody battle was fought.
\x93The enemy,\x94 says Colonel Champion, \x93gave proof of a good share of
military knowledge; and it is impossible to describe a more obstinate
firmness of resolution than they displayed.\x94 The dastardly sovereign of
Onde fled from the field. The English were left unsupported; but their
fire and their charge were irresistible. It was not, however, till the
most distinguished chiefs had fallen, fighting bravely at the head of
their troops, that the Rohilla ranks gave way. Then the Nabob Vizier and
his rabble made their appearance, and hastened to plunder the camp of
the valiant enemies, whom they had never dared to look in the face. The
soldiers of the Company, trained in an exact discipline, kept unbroken
order, while the tents were pillaged by these worthless allies. But
{33}many voices were heard to exclaim, \x93We have had all the fighting,
and those rogues are to have all the profit.\x94

Then the horrors of Indian war were let loose on the fair valleys and
cities of Rohilcund. The whole country was in a blaze. More than a
hundred thousand people fled from their homes to pestilential jungles,
preferring famine, and fever, and the haunts of tigers, to the tyranny
of him, to whom an English and a Christian government had, for shameful
lucre, sold their substance, and their blood, and the honour of their
wives and daughters. Colonel Champion remonstrated with the Nabob
Vizier, and sent strong representations to Fort William; but the
Governor had made no conditions as to the mode in which the war was to
be carried on. He had troubled himself about nothing but his forty lacs;
and, though he might disapprove of Sujah Dowlah\x92s wanton barbarity, he
did not think himself entitled to interfere, except by offering advice.
This delicacy excites the admiration of the biographer. \x93Mr. Hastings,\x94
 he says, \x93could not himself dictate to the Nabob, nor permit the
commander of the Company\x92s troops to dictate how the war was to be
carried on.\x94 No, to be sure. Mr. Hastings had only to put down by main
force the brave struggles of innocent men fighting for their liberty.
Their military resistance crushed, his duties ended; and he had then
only to fold his arms and look on, while their villages were burned,
their children butchered, and their women violated. Will Mr. Gleig
seriously maintain this opinion? Is any rule more plain than this,
that whoever voluntarily gives to another irresistible power over human
beings is bound to take order that such power shall not be barbarously
{34}abused? But we beg pardon of our readers for arguing a point so

We hasten to the end of this sad and disgraceful story. The war ceased.
The finest population in India was subjected to a greedy, cowardly,
cruel tyrant. Commerce and agriculture languished. The rich province
which had tempted the cupidity of Sujah Dowlah became the most miserable
part even of his miserable dominions. Yet is the injured nation not
extinct. At long intervals gleams of its ancient spirit have flashed
forth; and even at this day, valour, and selfrespect, and a chivalrous
feeling rare among Asiatics, and a bitter remembrance of the great crime
of England, distinguish that noble Afghan race. To this day they are
regarded as the best of all sepoys at the cold steel; and it was
very recently remarked, by one who had enjoyed great opportunities of
observation, that the only natives of India to whom the word \x93gentleman\x94
 can with perfect, propriety be applied, are to be found among the

Whatever we may think of the morality of Hastings, it cannot be denied
that the financial results of his policy did honour to his talents. In
less than two years after he assumed the government, he had, without
imposing any additional burdens on the people subject to his authority,
added about four hundred and fifty thousand pounds to the annual income
of the Company, besides procuring about a million in ready money. He
had also relieved the finances of Bengal from military expenditure,
amounting to near a quarter of a million a year, and had thrown that
charge on the Nabob of Oude. There can be no doubt that this was a
result which, if it had been obtained by honest means, would have
entitled him to the warmest gratitude {35}of his country, and which,
by whatever means obtained, proved that he possessed great talents for

In the mean time, Parliament had been engaged in long and grave
discussions on Asiatic affairs. The ministry of Lord North, in the
session of 1773, introduced a measure which made a considerable change
in the constitution of the Indian government. This law known by the name
of the Regulating Act, provided that the presidency of Bengal should
exercise a control over the other possessions of the Company; that the
chief of that presidency should be styled Governor-General; that he
should be assisted by four Councillors; and that a supreme court of
judicature, consisting of a chief justice and three inferior judges,
should be established at Calcutta. This court was made independent of
the Governor-General and Council, and was intrusted with a civil and
criminal jurisdiction of immense and, at the same time, of undefined

The Governor-General and Councillors were named in the act, and were
to hold their situations for five years. Hastings was to be the first
Governor-General. One of the four new Councillors, Mr. Barwell, an
experienced servant of the Company, was then in India. The other three,
General Clavering, Mr. Monson, and Mr. Francis, were sent out from

The ablest of the new Councillors was, beyond all doubt, Philip Francis.
His acknowledged compositions prove that he possessed considerable
eloquence and information. Several years passed in the public offices
had formed him to habits of business. His enemies have never denied that
he had a fearless and manly spirit; and his friends, we are afraid, must
acknowledge {36}that his estimate of himself was extravagantly high,
that his temper was irritable, that his deportment was often rude
and petulant, and that his hatred was of intense bitterness and long

It is scarcely possible to mention this eminent man without adverting
for a moment to the question which his name at once suggests to every
mind. Was he the author of the Letters of Junius? Our own firm belief is
that he was. The evidence is, we think, such as would support a verdict
in a civil, nay, in a criminal proceeding. The handwriting of Junius is
the very peculiar handwriting of Francis, slightly disguised. As to the
position, pursuits, and connections of Junius, the following are the
most important facts which can be considered as clearly proved; first
that he was acquainted with the technical forms of the secretary of
state\x92s office; secondly, that he was intimately acquainted with the
business of the war-office; thirdly, that he, during the year 1770,
attended debates in the House of Lords, and took notes of speeches,
particularly of the speeches of Lord Chatham; fourthly, that he
bitterly resented the appointment of Mr. Chamier to the place of deputy
secretary-at-war; fifthly, that He was bound by some strong tie to the
first Lord Holland. Now, Francis passed some years in the secretary of
state\x92s office. He was subsequently chief clerk of the war-office. He
repeatedly mentioned that he had himself, in 1770, heard speeches of
Lord Chatham; and some of these speeches were actually printed from his
notes. He resigned his clerkship at the war-office from resentment at
the appointment of Mr. Chamier. It was by Lord Holland that he was first
introduced into the public service. Now, here are five marks, all
of which ought to be found in Junius. They are all five {37}found in
Francis. We do not believe that more than two of them can be found
in any other person whatever. If this argument does not settle the
question, there is an end of all reasoning on circumstantial evidence.

The internal evidence seems to us to point the same way. The style
of Francis bears a strong resemblance to that of Junius; nor are
we disposed to admit, what is generally taken for granted, that the
acknowledged compositions of Francis are very decidedly inferior to the
anonymous letters. The argument from inferiority, at all events, is one
which may be urged with at least equal force against every claimant
that has ever been mentioned, with the single exception of Burke; and
it would be a waste of time to prove that Burke was not Junius. And what
conclusion, after all, can be drawn from mere inferiority? Every writer
must produce his best work; and the interval between his best work and
his second best work may be very wide indeed. Nobody will say that the
best letters of Junius are more decidedly superior to the acknowledged
works of Francis than three or four of Corneille\x92s tragedies to the
rest, than three or four of Ben Jonson\x92s comedies to the rest, than the
Pilgrim\x92s Progress to the other works of Bunyan, than Don Quixote to the
other works of Cervantes. Nay, it is certain that Junius, whoever he may
have been, was a most unequal writer. To go no further than the letters
which bear the signature of Junius; the letter to the king, and the
letters to Horne. Tooke, have little in common, except the asperity; and
asperity was an ingredient seldom wanting either in the writings or in
the speeches of Francis.

Indeed one of the strongest reasons for believing that Francis was
Junius is the moral resemblance between {38}the two men. It is not
difficult, from the letters which, under various signatures, are known
to have been written by Junius, and from his dealings with Woodfall
and others, to form a tolerably correct notion of his character. He was
clearly a man not destitute of real patriotism and magnanimity, a man
whose vices were not of a sordid kind. But he must also have been a man
in the highest degree arrogant and insolent, a man prone to malevolence,
and prone to the error of mistaking his malevolence for public virtue.
\x93Doest thou well to be angry?\x94 was the question asked in old time of
the Hebrew prophet. And he answered, \x93I do well.\x94 This was evidently
the temper of Junius; and to this cause we attribute the savage cruelty
which disgraces several of his letters. No man is so merciless as he
who, under a strong self-delusion, confounds his antipathies with his
duties. It may be added that Junius, though allied with the democratic
party by common enmities, was the very opposite of a democratic
politician. While attacking individuals with a ferocity which
perpetually violated all the laws of literary warfare, he regarded the
most defective parts of old institutions with a respect amounting
to pedantry, pleaded the cause of Old Sarum with fervour, and
contemptuously told the capitalists of Manchester and Leeds that,
if they wanted votes, they might buy land and become freeholders of
Lancashire and Yorkshire. All this, we believe, might, stand, with
scarcely any change, for a character of Philip Francis.

It is not strange that the great anonymous writer should have been
willing at that time to leave the country which had been so powerfully
stirred by his eloquence. Every thing had gone against him. That party
which he clearly preferred to every other, the {30}party of George
Grenville, had been scattered by the death of its chief; and Lord
Suffolk had led the greater part of it over to the ministerial benches.
The ferment produced by the Middlesex election had gone down. Every
faction must have been alike an object of aversion to Junius. His
opinions on domestic affairs separated him from the ministry;
his opinions on colonial affairs from the opposition. Under such
circumstances, he had thrown down his pen in misanthropical despair. His
farewell letter to Woodfall bears date the nineteenth of January 1773.
In that letter, he declared that he must be an idiot to write again;
that he had meant well by the cause and the public; that both were given
up; that there were not ten men who would act steadily together on any
question. \x93But it is all alike,\x94 he added, \x93vile and contemptible. You
have never flinched that I know of; and I shall always rejoice to hear
of your prosperity.\x94 These were the last words of Junius. In a year from
that time, Philip Francis was on his voyage to Bengal.

With the three new Councillors came out the judges of the Supreme Court.
The chief justice was Sir Elijah Impey. He was an old acquaintance
of Hastings; and it is probable that the Governor-General, if he had
searched through all the inns of court, could not have found an equally
serviceable tool. But the members of Council were by no means in an
obsequious mood. Hastings greatly disliked the new form of government,
and had no very high opinion of his coadjutors. They had heard of this,
and were disposed to be suspicious and punctilious. When men are in such
a frame of mind, any trifle is sufficient to give occasion for dispute.
The members of Council expected a salute {40}of twenty-one guns from the
batteries of Fort William.

Hastings allowed them only seventeen. They landed in ill humour.
The first civilities were exchanged with cold reserve. On the morrow
commenced that long quarrel which, after distracting British India,
was renewed in England, and in which all the most eminent statesmen and
orators of the age took active part on one or the other side.

Hastings was supported by Barwell. They had not alwavs been friends. But
the arrival of the new members of Council from England naturally had the
effect of uniting the old servants of the Company. Clavering, Monson,
and Francis formed the majority. They instantly wrested the government
out of the hands of Hastings, condemned, certainly not without justice,
his late dealings with the Nabob Vizier, recalled the English agent
from Onde, and sent thither a creature of their own, ordered the brigade
which had conquered the unhappy Rohillas, to return to the Company\x92s
territories, and instituted a severe inquiry into the conduct of the
war. Next, in spite of the Governor-General\x92s remonstrances, they
proceeded to exercise, in the most indiscreet manner, their new
authority over the subordinate presidencies; threw all the affairs
of Bombay into confusion; and interfered, with an incredible union
of rashness and feebleness, in the intestine disputes of the Mahratta
government. At the same time, they fell on the internal administration
of Bengal, and attacked the whole fiscal and judicial system, a system
which was undoubtedly defective, but which it was very improbable that
gentlemen fresh from England would be competent to amend. The effect
of their reforms was that all protection to life and property was
withdrawn, and that gangs of robbers plundered and {41}slaughtered with
impunity in the very suburbs of Calcutta. Hastings continued to live
in the Government-house, and to draw the salary of Governor-General. He
continued even to take the lead at the council-board in the transaction
of ordinary business; for his opponents could not but feel that he knew
much of which they were ignorant, and that he decided, both surely
and speedily, many questions which to them would have been hopelessly
puzzling. But the higher powers of government and the most valuable
patronage had been taken from him.

The natives soon found this out. They considered him as a fallen man;
and they acted after their kind. Some of our readers may have seen, in
India, a cloud of crows pecking a sick vulture to death, no bad type of
what happens in that country, as often as fortune deserts one who has
been great and dreaded. In an instant, all the sycophants who had lately
been ready to lie for him, to forge for him, to pander for him, to
poison for him, hasten to purchase the favour of his victorious enemies
by accusing him. An Indian government has only to let it be understood
that it wishes a particular man to be ruined; and, in twenty-four hours,
it will be furnished with grave charges, supported by depositions
so full and circumstantial that any person unaccustomed to Asiatic
mendacity would regard them as decisive. It is well if the signature
of the destined victim is not counterfeited at the foot of some
illegal compact, and if some treasonable paper is not slipped into a
hiding-place in his house. Hastings was now regarded as helpless. The
power to make or mar the fortune of every man in Bengal had passed, as
it seemed, into the hands of the new Councillors. Immediately charges
against the Governor-General began to pour in {42}They were eagerly
welcomed by the majority, who, to do them justice, were men of too much
honour knowingly to countenance false accusations, but who were not
sufficiently acquainted with the East to be aware that, in that part of
the world, a very little encouragement from power will call forth, in a
week, more Oateses, and Bedloes, and Dangerfields, than Westminster Hall
sees in a century.

It would have been strange indeed if, at such a juncture, Nuncomar had
remained quiet. That bad man was stimulated at once by malignity, by
avarice, and by ambition. Now was the time to be avenged on his old
enemy, to wreak a grudge of seventeen years, to establish himself in the
favour of the majority of the Council, to become the greatest native in
Bengal. From the time of the arrival of the new Councillors, he had paid
the most marked court to them, and had in consequence been excluded,
with all indignity, from the Government-house. He now put into the hands
of Francis, with great ceremony, a paper, containing several charges of
the most serious description. By this document Hastings was accused
of putting offices up to sale, and of receiving bribes for suffering
offenders to escape. In particular, it was alleged that Mahommed Reza
Khan had been dismissed with impunity, in consideration of a great sum
paid to the Governor-General.

Francis read the paper in Council. A violent altercation followed.
Hastings complained in bitter terms of the way in which he was treated,
spoke with contempt of Nuncomar and of Nuncomar\x92s accusation, and denied
the right of the Council to sit in judgment on the Governor. At the next
meeting of the Board, another communication from Nuncomar was produced.
He requested that he might be permitted to attend the {43}Council, and
that he might be heard in support of his assertions. Another tempestuous
debate took place. The Governor-General maintained that the council-room
was not a proper place for such an investigation; that from persons who
were heated by daily conflict with him he could not expect the fairness
of judges; and that He could not, without betraying the dignity of his
post, submit to be confronted with such a man as Nuncomar. The majority,
however, resolved to go into the charges. Hastings rose, declared the
sitting at an end, and left the room, followed by Harwell. The other
members kept their seats, voted themselves a council, put Clavering
in the chair, and ordered Nuncomar to be called in. Nuncomar not only
adhered to the original charges, but, after the fashion of the East,
produced a large supplement. He stated that Hastings had received
a great sum for appointing Rajah Goordas treasurer of the Nabob\x92s
household, and for committing: the care of his Highness\x92s person to the
Munny Begum. He put in a letter purporting to bear the seal of the Munny
Begum, for the purpose of establishing the truth of his story. The
seal, whether forged, as Hastings affirmed, or genuine, as we are rather
inclined to believe, proved nothing. Nuncomar, as everybody knows, who
knows India, had only to tell the Munny Begum that such a letter would
give pleasure to the majority of the Council, in order to procure her
attestation. The majority, however, voted that the charge was made out;
that Hastings had corruptly received between thirty and forty thousand
pounds; and that he ought to be compelled to refund.

The general feeling amoung the English in Bengal was strongly in favour
of the Governor-General. In talents for business, in knowledge of the
country, in {44}general courtesy of demeanour, He was decidedly superior
to his persecutors. The servants of the Company were naturally disposed
to side with the most distinguished member of their own body against
a clerk from the war-office, who, profoundly ignorant of the native
languages and of the native character, took on himself to regulate every
department of the administration. Hastings, however, in spite of the
general sympathy of his countrymen, was in a most painful situation.
There was still an appeal to higher authority in England. If that
authority took part with his enemies, nothing was left to him but to
throw up his office. He accordingly placed his resignation in the hands
of his agent in London, Colonel Macleane. But Macleane was instructed
not to produce the resignation, unless it should be fully ascertained
that the feeling at the India House was adverse to the Governor-General.

The triumph of Nuncomar seemed to be complete, He held a daily levee, to
which his countrymen resorted in crowds, and to which, on one occasion,
the majority of the Council condescended to repair. His house was
an office for the purpose of receiving charges against the
Governor-General. It was said that, partly by threats, and partly by
wheedling, the villanous Brahmin had induced many of the wealthiest men
of the province to send in complaints. But he was playing a perilous
game. It was not safe to drive to despair a man of such resources and of
such determination as Hastings. Nuncomar, with all his acuteness, did
not understand the nature of the institutions under which he lived. He
saw that he had with him the majority of the body which made treaties,
gave places, raised taxes. The separation between political and judicial
functions was a thing of which he had no conception. {45}It had probably
never occurred to him that there was in Bengal an authority perfectly
independent of the Council, an authority which could protect one whom
the Council wished to destroy, and send to the gibbet one whom the
Council wished to protect. Yet such was the fact. The supreme Court
was, within the sphere of its own duties, altogether independent of
the Government. Hastings, with his usual sagacity, had seen how much
advantage he might derive from possessing himself of this stronghold:
and he had acted accordingly. The Judges, especially the Chief Justice,
were hostile to the majority of the Council. The time had now come for
putting this formidable machinery into action.

On a sudden, Calcutta was astounded by the news that Nuncomar had been
taken up on a charge of felony, committed, and thrown into the common
gaol. The crime imputed to him was that six years before he had forged a
bond. The ostensible prosecutor was a native. But it was then, and still
is, the opinion of every body, idiots and biographers excepted, that
Hastings was the real mover in the business.

The rage of the majority rose to the highest point. They protested
against the proceedings of the Supreme Court, and sent several urgent
messages to the Judges, demanding that Nuncomar should be admitted to
bail. The Judges returned haughty and resolute answers. All that the
Council could do was to heap honours and emoluments on the family of
Nuncomar; and this they did. In the mean time the assizes commenced; a
true bill was found; and Nuncomar was brought before Sir Elijah Impey
and a jury composed of Englishmen. A great quantity of contradictory
swearing, and the necessity of having every word of the evidence
interpreted, {46}protracted the trial to a most unusual length. At
last a verdict of guilty was returned, and the Chief Justice pronounced
sentence of death on the prisoner.

That Impey ought to have respited Nuncomar we hold to be perfectly
clear. Whether the whole proceeding was not illegal, is a question. But
it is certain, that whatever may have been, according to technical rules
of construction, the effect of the statute under which the tidal took
place, it was most unjust to hang a Hindoo for forgery. The law
which made forgery capital in England was passed without the smallest
reference to the state of society in India. It was unknown to the
natives of India. It had never been put in execution among them,
certainly not for want of delinquents. It was in the highest degree
shocking to all their notions. They were not accustomed to the
distinction which many circumstances, peculiar to our own state
of society, have led us to make between forgery and other kinds of
cheating. The counterfeiting of a seal was, in their estimation, a
common act of swindling; nor had it ever crossed their minds that it
was to be punished as severely as gang-robbery or assassination. A
just judge would, beyond all doubt, have reserved the case for the
consideration of the sovereign. But Impey would not hear of mercy or

The excitement among all classes was great. Francis and Francis\x92s few
English adherents described the Governor-General and the Chief Justice
as the worst of murderers. Clavering, it was said, swore that, even at
the foot of the gallows, Nuncomar should be rescued. The bulk of the
European society, though strongly attached to the Governor-General,
could not but feel compassion for a man who, with all his crimes, had so
{47}long filled so large a space in their sight, who had been great and
powerful before the British empire in India began to exist, and to whom,
in the old times, governors and members of council, then mere commercial
factors, had paid court for protection. The feeling of the Hindoos was
infinitely stronger. They were, indeed, not a people to strike one
blow for their countryman. But his sentence filled them with sorrow and
dismay. Tried even by their low standard of morality, He was a bad
man. But, bad as he was, he was the head of their race and religion, a
Brahmin of the Brahmins. He had inherited the purest and highest caste.
He had practised with the greatest punctuality all those ceremonies to
which the superstitious Bengalees ascribe far more importance than to
the correct discharge of the social duties. They felt, therefore, as a
devout Catholic in the dark ages would have felt, at seeing a prelate of
the highest dignity sent to the gallows by a secular tribunal. According
to their old national laws, a Brahmin could not be put to death for any
crime whatever. And the crime for which Nuncomar was about to die
was regarded by them in much the same light in which the selling of an
unsound horse, for a sound price, is regarded by a Yorkshire jockey.

The Mussulmans alone appear to have seen with exultation the fate of
the powerful Hindoo, who had attempted to rise by means of the ruin
of Mahommed Reza Khan. The Mahommedan historian of those times takes
delight in aggravating the charge. He assures us that in Nuncomar\x92s
house a casket was found containing counterfeits of the seals of all
the richest men of the province. We have never fallen in with any other
authority for this story, which in itself is by no means improbable.
{48}The day drew near; and Nuncomar prepared himself to die with that
quiet fortitude with which the Bengalee, so effeminately timid in
personal conflict, often encounters calamities for which there is no
remedy. The sheriff, with the humanity which is seldom wanting in an
English gentleman, visited the prisoner on the eve of the execution,
and assured him that no indulgence, consistent with the law, should be
refused to him. Nuncomar expressed his gratitude with great politeness
and unaltered composure. Not a muscle of his face moved. Not a sigh
broke from him. He put his finger to his forehead, and calmly said that
fate would have its way, and that there was no resisting the pleasure
of God. He sent his compliments to Francis, Clavering, and Monson, and
charged them to protect Rajah Goordas, who was about to become the head
of the Brahmins of Bengal. The sheriff withdrew, greatly agitated by
what had passed, and Nuncomar sat composedly down to write notes and
examine accounts.

The next morning, before the sun was in his power, an immense concourse
assembled round the place where the gallows had been set up. Grief and
horror were on every face; yet to the last the multitude could hardly
believe that the English really purposed to take the life of the great
Brahmin. At length the mournful procession came through the crowd.
Nuncomar sat up in his palanquin, and looked round him with unaltered
serenity. He had just parted from those who were most nearly connected
with him. Their cries and contortions had appalled the European
ministers of justice, but had not produced the smallest effect on the
iron stoicism of the prisoner. The only anxiety which he expressed was
that men of his own {49}priestly caste might be in attendance to take
charge of his corpse. He again desired to be remembered to his friends
in the Council, mounted the scaffold with firmness, and gave the signal
to the executioner. The moment that the drop fell, a howl of sorrow and
despair rose from the innumerable spectators. Hundreds turned away their
faces from the polluting sight, fled with loud wailings towards the
Hoogley, and plunged into its holy waters, as if to purify themselves
from the guilt of having looked on such a crime. These feel-incs were
not confined to Calcutta. The whole province was greatly excited; and
the population of Dacca, in particular, gave strong signs of grief and

Of Impey\x92s conduct it is impossible to speak too severely. We have
already said that, in our opinion, he acted unjustly in refusing to
respite Nuncomar. No rational man can doubt that he took this course in
order to gratify the Governor-General. If we had ever had any doubts on
that point, they would have been dispelled by a letter which Mr. Gleig
has published. Hastings, three or four years later, described Impey as
the man \x93to whose support he was at one time indebted for the safety of
his fortune, honour, and reputation.\x94 These strong words can refer only
to the case of Nuncomar; and they must mean that Impey hanged Nuncomar
in order to support Hastings. It is, therefore, our deliberate opinion
that Impey, sitting as a judge, put a man unjustly to death in order to
serve a political purpose.

But we look on the conduct of Hastings in a somewhat different light.
He was struggling for fortune, honour, liberty, all that makes life
valuable. He was beset by rancorous and unprincipled enemies. From
his colleagues he could expect no justice. He cannot {50}be blamed
for wishing to crush his accusers. He was indeed bound to use only
legitimate means for that end. But it was not strange that he should
have thought any means legitimate which were pronounced legitimate by
the sages of the law, by men whose peculiar duty it was to deal justly
between adversaries, and whose education might be supposed to have
peculiarly qualified them for the discharge of that duty. Nobody demands
from a party the unbending equity of a judge. The reason that judges are
appointed is, that even a good man cannot be trusted to decide a cause
in which he is himself concerned. Not a day passes on which an honest
prosecutor does not ask for what none but a dishonest tribunal would
grant. It is too much to expect that any man, when his dearest interests
are at stake, and his strongest passions excited, will, as against
himself, be more just than the sworn dispensers of justice. To take an
analogous case from the history of our own island; suppose that Lord
Stafford, when in the Tower on suspicion of being concerned in the
Popish plot, had been apprised that Titus Oates had done something which
might, by a questionable construction, be brought under the head of
felony. Should we severely blame Lord Stafford, in the supposed ease,
for causing a prosecution to be instituted, for furnishing funds, for
using all his influence to intercept the mercy of the Crown? We think
not. If a judge, indeed, from favour to the Catholic lords, were to
strain the law in order to hang Oates, such a judge would richly deserve
impeachment. But it does not appear to us that the Catholic lord,
by bringing the ease before the judge for decision, would materially
overstep the limits of a just self-defence.

While, therefore, we have not the least doubt that, this memorable
execution is to be attributed to Hastings, {51}we doubt whether it can
with justice be reckoned among his crimes. That his conduct was dictated
by a profound policy is evident. He was in a minority in Council. It
was possible that he might long be in a minority. He knew the native
character well. He knew in what abundance accusations are certain to
flow in against the most innocent inhabitant of India who is under the
frown of power. There was not in the whole black population of Bengal,
a place-holder, a place-hunter, a government tenant, who did not think
that he might better himself by sending up a deposition against the
Governor-General. Under these circumstances, the persecuted statesman
resolved to teach the whole crew of accusers and witnesses, that, though
in a minority at the council-board, he was still to be feared. The
lesson which he gave them was indeed a lesson not to be forgotten. The
head of the combination which had been formed against him, the richest,
the most powerful, the most artful of the Hindoos, distinguished by
the favour of those who then held the government, fenced round by the
superstitious reverence of millions, was hanged in broad day before many
thousands of people. Every thing that could make the warning impressive,
dignity in the sufferer, solemnity in the proceeding, was found in
this case. The helpless rage and vain struggles of the Council made the
triumph more signal. From that moment the conviction of every native was
that it was safer to take the part of Hastings in a minority than that
of Francis in a majority, and that he who was so venturous as to join
in running down the Governor-General might chance, in the phrase of the
Eastern poet, to find a tiger, while beating the jungle for a deer. The
voices of a thousand informers were silenced in an {52}instant. From
that time, whatever difficulties Hastings might have to encounter, He
was never molested by accusations from natives in India.

It is a remarkable circumstance that one of the letters of Hastings to
Dr. Johnson bears date a very few hours after the death of Nuncomar.
While the whole settlement was in commotion, while a mighty and ancient
priesthood were weeping over the remains of their chief, the conqueror
in that deadly grapple sat down, with characteristic self-possession, to
write about the Tour to the Hebrides, Jones\x92s Persian Grammar, and the
history, traditions, arts, and natural productions of India.

In the mean time, intelligence of the Rohilla war, and of the first
disputes between Hastings and his colleagues, had reached London. The
Directors took part with the majority, and sent out a letter filled with
severe reflections on the conduct of Hastings. They condemned, in strong
but just terms, the iniquity of undertaking offensive wars merely
for the sake of pecuniary advantage. But they utterly forgot that, if
Hastings had by illicit means obtained pecuniary advantages, he had
done so, not for his own benefit, but in order to meet their demands. To
enjoin honesty, and to insist on having what could not be honestly got,
was then the constant practice of the Company. As Lady Macbeth says of
her husband, they \x93would not play false, and yet would wrongly win.\x94

The Regulating Act, by which Hastings had been appointed
Governor-General for five years, empowered the Crown to remove him on
an address from the Company. Lord North was desirous to procure such
an address. The three members of Council who had been {53}sent out from
England were men of his own choice. General Chivering, in particular,
was supported by a large parliamentary connection, such as no cabinet
could be inclined to disoblige. The wish of the minister was to displace
Hastings, and to put Clavering at the head of the government. In the
Court of Directors parties were very nearly balanced. Eleven voted
against Hastings: ten for him. The Court of Proprietors was then
convened. The great sale-room presented a singular appearance. Letters
had been sent by the Secretary of the Treasury, exhorting all the
supporters of government who held India stock to be in attendance. Lord
Sandwich marshalled the friends of the administration with his usual
dexterity and alertness. Fifty peers and privy councillors, seldom
seen so far eastward, were counted in the crowd. The debate lasted
till midnight. The opponents of Hastings had a small superiority on
the division; but a ballot was demanded; and the result was that the
Governor-General triumphed by a majority of above a hundred votes over
the combined efforts of the Directors and the Cabinet. The ministers
were greatly exasperated by this defeat. Even Lord North lost his
temper, no ordinary occurrence with him, and threatened to convoke
parliament before Christmas, and to bring in a bill for depriving
the Company of all political power, and for restricting it to its old
business of trading in silks and teas.

Colonel Macleane, who through all this conflict had zealously supported
the cause of Hastings, now thought that his employer was in imminent
danger of being turned out, branded with parliamentary censure, perhaps
prosecuted. The opinion of the crown lawyers had already been taken
respecting some parts of the {54}Governor-General\x92s conduct. It seemed
to be high time to think of securing; an honourable retreat. Under
these circumstances, Macleane thought himself justified in producing the
resignation with which he had been intrusted. The instrument was not in
very accurate form; but the Directors were too eager to be scrupulous.
They accepted the resignation, fixed on Mr. Wilder, one of their own
body, to succeed Hastings, and sent out orders that General Clavering,
as senior member of Council, should exercise the functions of
Governor-General till Mr. Wilder should arrive.

But, while these things were passing in England, a great change had
taken place in Bengal. Monson was no more. Only four members of the
were left. Clavering and Francis were on one side, Barwell
and the Governor-General on the other; and the Governor-General had the
casting vote. Hastings, who had been during two years destitute of all
power and patronage, became at once absolute. He instantly proceeded
to retaliate on his adversaries. Their measures were reversed: their
creatures were displaced. A new valuation of the lands of Bengal, for
the purposes of taxation, was ordered: and it was provided that the
whole inquiry should be conducted by the Governor-General, and that all
the letters relating to it should run in his name. He began, at the same
time, to revolve vast plans of conquest and dominion, plans which he
lived to see realised, though not by himself. His project was to form
subsidiary alliances with the native princes, particularly with those of
Onde and Berar, and thus to make Britain the paramount power in India.
While he was meditating these great designs, arrived the intelligence
that he had ceased to be Governor-General, {55}that his resignation had
been accepted, that Wheler was coming out immediately, and that, till
Wheler arrived, the chair was to be filled by Clavering.

Had Hastings still been in a minority, he would probably have retired
without a struggle; but he was now the real master of British India,
and he was not disposed to quit his high place. He asserted that he
had never given any instructions which could warrant the steps taken at
home. What his instructions had been, he owned he had forgotten. If he
had kept a copy of them he had mislaid it. But he was certain that he
had repeatedly declared to the Directors that he would not resign. He
could not see how the court, possessed of that declaration from himself,
could receive his resignation from the doubtful hands of an agent. If
the resignation were invalid, all the proceedings which were founded on
that resignation were null, and Hastings was still Governor-General.

He afterwards affirmed that, though his agents had not acted in
conformity with his instructions, he would nevertheless have held
himself bound by their acts, if Clavering had not attempted to seize the
supreme power by violence. Whether this assertion were or were not true,
it cannot be doubted that the imprudence of Clavering gave Hastings
an advantage. The General sent for the keys of the fort and of the
treasury, took possession of the records, and held a council at which
Francis attended. Hastings took the chair in another apartment, and
Barwell sat with him. Each of the two parties had a plausible show of
right. There was no authority entitled to their obedience within fifteen
thousand miles. It seemed that there remained no way of settling the
dispute except an appeal to arms; {56}and from such an appeal Hastings,
confident of his influence over his countrymen in India, was not
inclined to shrink. He directed the officers of the garrison at Fort
William and of all the neighbouring; stations to obey no orders but his.
At the same time, with admirable judgment, he offered to submit the
case to the Supreme Court, and to abide by its decision. By making
this proposition he risked nothing; yet it was a proposition which his
opponents could hardly reject. Nobody could be treated as a criminal
for obeying what the judges should solemnly pronounce to be the lawful
government. The boldest man would shrink from taking arms in defence
of what the judges should pronounce to be usurpation. Clavering and
Francis, after some delay, unwillingly consented to abide by the award
of the court. The court pronounced that the resignation was invalid, and
that therefore Hastings was still Governor-General under the Regulating
Act; and the defeated members of the Council, finding that the sense of
the whole settlement was against them, acquiesced in the decision.

About this time arrived the news that, after a suit which had lasted
several years, the Franconian courts had decreed a divorce between
Imhoff and his wife. The Baron left Calcutta, carrying with him the
means of buying an estate in Saxony. The lady became Mrs. Hastings. The
event was celebrated by great festivities; and all the most conspicuous
persons at Calcutta, without distinction of parties, were invited to
the Government-house. Clavering, as the Mahommedan chronicler tells the
story, was sick in mind and body, and excused himself from joining the
splendid assembly. But Hastings, whom, as it should seem, success in
ambition and in love had put into high good-humour, {57}would take no
denial. He went himself to the General\x92s house, and at length brought
his vanquished rival in triumph to the gay circle which surrounded the
bride. The exertion was too much for a frame broken by mortification as
well as by disease. Clavering died a few days later.

Wheler, who came out expecting to be Governor-General, and was forced to
content himself with a seat at the council-board, generally voted with
Francis. But the Governor-General, with Barwell\x92s help and his own
casting; vote, was still the master. Some change took place at this time
in the feeling both of the Court of Directors and of the Ministers of
the Crown. All designs against Hastings were dropped; and, when his
original term of five years expired, he was quietly reappointed. The
truth is, that the fearful dangers to which the public interests in
every quarter were now exposed, made both Lord North and the Company
unwilling to part with a Governor whose talents, experience, and
resolution, enmity itself was compelled to acknowledge.

The crisis was indeed formidable. That great and victorious empire, on
the throne of which George the Third had taken his seat eighteen years
before, with brighter hopes than had attended the accession of any
of the long line of English sovereigns, had, by the most senseless
misgovernment, been brought to the verge of ruin. In America millions
of Englishmen were at war with the country from which their blood, their
language, their religion, and their institutions were derived, and to
which, but a short time before, they had been as strongly attached
as the inhabitants of Norfolk and Leicestershire. The great powers
of Europe, humbled to the dust by the vigour and genius {58}which had
guided the counsels of George the Second, now rejoiced in the prospect
of a signal revenge. The time was approaching when our island, while
struggling to keep down the United States of America, and pressed with
a still nearer danger by the too just discontents of Ireland, was to
be assailed by France, Spain, and Holland, and to be threatened by the
armed neutrality of the Baltic; when even our maritime supremacy was to
be in jeopardy; when hostile fleets were to command the Straits of Calpe
and the Mexican Sea: when the British flag was to be scarcely able to
protect the British Channel. Great as were the faults of Hastings, it
was happy for our country that at that conjuncture, the most terrible
through which she has ever passed, he was the ruler of her Indian

An attack by sea on Bengal was little to be apprehended. The danger was
that the European enemies of England might form an alliance with
some native power, might furnish that power with troops, arms, and
ammunition, and might thus assail our possessions on the side of the
land. It was chiefly from the Mahrattas that Hastings anticipated
danger. The original seat of that singular people was the wild range
of hills which runs along the western coast of India. In the reign of
Aurungzebe the inhabitants of those regions, led by the great Sevajee,
began to descend on the possessions of their wealthier and less warlike
neighbours. The energy, ferocity, and cunning of the Mahrattas, soon
made them the most conspicuous among the new powers which were generated
by the corruption of the decaying monarchy. At first they were only
robbers. They soon rose to the dignity of conquerors. Half the provinces
of the empire were turned into Mahratta {59}principalities. Freebooters,
sprung from low castes, and accustomed to menial employments, became
mighty Rajahs. The Bonsias, at the head of a hand of plunderers,
occupied the vast region of Berar. The Guico-war, which is, being
interpreted, the Herdsman, founded that dynasty which still reigns in
Guzerat. The houses of Scindia and Holkar waxed great in Malwa. One
adventurous captain made his nest on the impregnable rock of Good.
Another became the lord of the thousand villages which are scattered
among the green rice-fields of Tanjore.

That was the time, throughout India, of double government. The form and
the power were everywhere separated. The Mussulman nabobs who had become
sovereign princes, the Vizier in Glide, and the Nizam at Hyderabad,
still called themselves the viceroys of the house of Tamerlane. In
the same manner the Mahratta states, though really independent of each
other, pretended to be members of one empire. They all acknowledged,
by words and ceremonies, the supremacy of the heir of Sevajee, a _roi
fain\xE9ant_ who chewed bang and toyed with dancing girls in a state prison
at Sattara, and of his Peshwa or mayor of the palace, a great hereditary
magistrate, who kept a court with kingly state at Poonah, and whose
authority was obeyed in the spacious provinces of Aurungabad and

Some months before war was declared in Europe the government of Bengal
was alarmed by the news that a French adventurer, who passed for a man
of quality, had arrived at Poonah. It was said that he had been received
there with great distinction, that he had delivered to the Peshwa
letters and presents from Lewis the Sixteenth, and that a treaty,
hostile to England, {60}had been concluded between France and the

Hastings immediately resolved to strike the first blow. The title of
the Peshwa was not undisputed. A portion of the Mahratta nation was
favourable to a pretender. The Governor-General determined to espouse
this pretender\x92s interest, to move an army across the peninsula of
India, and to form a close alliance with the chief of the House of
Bonsla, who ruled Berar, and who, in power and dignity, was inferior to
none of the Mahratta princes.

The army had marched, and the negotiations with Berar were in progress,
when a letter from the English consul at Cairo, brought the news that
war had been proclaimed both in London and Paris. All the measures which
the crisis required were adopted by Hastings without a moment\x92s delay.
The French factories in Bengal were seized. Orders were sent to Madras
that Pondicherry should instantly be occupied. Near Calcutta, works were
thrown up which were thought to render the approach of a hostile force
impossible. A maritime establishment was formed for the defence of the
river. Nine new battalions of sepoys were raised, and a corps of native
artillery was formed out of the hardy Lascars of the Bay of Bengal.
Having made these arrangements, the Governor-General with calm
confidence pronounced his presidency secure from all attack, unless the
Mahrattas should march against it in conjunction with the French.

The expedition which Hastings had sent westward was not so speedily
or completely successful as most of his undertakings. The commanding
officer procrastinated. The authorities at Bombay blundered. But the
Governor-General persevered. A new commander {61}repaired the errors of
his predecessor. Several brilliant actions spread the military renown of
the English through regions where no European flag had ever been
seen. It is probable that, if a new and more formidable danger had not
compelled Hastings to change his whole policy, his plans respecting the
Mahratta empire would have been carried into complete effect.

The authorities in England had wisely sent out to Bengal, as commander
of the forces and member of the Council, one of the most distinguished
soldiers of that time. Sir Eyre Coote had, many years before, been
conspicuous among the founders of the British empire in the East. At
the council of war which preceded the battle of Plassey, he earnestly
recommended, in opposition to the majority, that daring course which,
after some hesitation, was adopted, and which was crowned with such
splendid success. He subsequently commanded in the south of India
against the brave and unfortunate Lally, gained the decisive battle of
Wandewash over the French and their native allies, took Pondicherry,
and made the English power supreme in the Carnatic. Since those great
exploits near twenty years had elapsed. Coote had no longer the bodily
activity which he had shown in earlier days; nor was the vigour of his
mind altogether unimpaired. He was capricious and fretful, and required
much coaxing to keep him in good humour. It must, we fear, be added that
the love of money had grown upon him, and that he thought more about
his allowances, and less about his duties, than might have been expected
from so eminent a member of so noble a profession. Still he was perhaps
the ablest officer that was then to be found in the British army. Among
the native soldiers his name was great and his influence unrivalled. Nor
is he yet {62}forgotten by them. Now and then a white-bearded old sepoy
may still be found, who loves to talk of Porto Movo and Polblore. It is
but a short time since one of those aged men came to present a memorial
to an English officer, who holds one of the highest employments in
India. A print of Coote hung in the room. The veteran recognised at once
that face and figure which He had not seen for more than half a century,
and, forgetting his salam to the living, halted, drew himself up, lifted
his hand, and with solemn reverence paid his military obeisance to the

Coote, though he did not, like Harwell, vote constantly with the
Governor-General, was by no means inclined to join in systematic
opposition, and on most questions concurred with Hastings, who did
his best, by assiduous courtship, and by readily granting the most
exorbitant allowances, to gratify the strongest passions of the old

It seemed likely at this time that a general reconciliation would put an
end to the quarrels which had, during some years, weakened and disgraced
the government of Bengal. The dangers of the empire might well induce
men of patriotic feeling,--and of patriotic feeling neither Hastings nor
Francis was destitute,--to forget private enmities, and to co-operate
heartily for the general good. Coote had never been concerned in
faction. Wheler was thoroughly tired of it. Barwell had made an ample
fortune, and, though he had promised that he would not leave Calcutta
while his help was needed in Council, was most desirous to return to
England, and exerted himself to promote an arrangement which would set
him at liberty.

A compact was made, by which Francis agreed to desist from opposition,
and Hastings engaged that the {63}friends of Francis should be admitted
to a fair share of the honours and emoluments of the service. During
a few months after this treaty there was apparent harmony at the

Harmony, indeed, was never more necessary; for at this moment internal
calamities, more formidable than war itself, menaced Bengal. The authors
of the Regulating Act of 1778 had established two independent powers,
the one judicial, the other political; and, with a carelessness
scandalously common in English legislation, had omitted to define the
limits of either. The judges took advantage of the indistinctness,
and attempted to draw to themselves supreme authority, not only within
Calcutta, but through the whole of the great territory subject to the
Presidency of Fort William. There are few Englishmen who will not admit
that the English law, in spite of modern improvements, is neither so
cheap nor so speedy as might be wished. Still, it is a system which
has grown up among us. In some points it has been fashioned to suit our
feelings; in others, it has gradually fashioned our feelings to suit
itself. Even to its worst evils we are accustomed; and therefore, though
we may complain of them, they do not strike us with the horror and
dismay which would be produced by a new grievance of smaller severity.
In India the case is widely different. English law, transplanted to that
country, has all the vices from which we suffer here; it has them all
in a far higher degree: and it has other vices, compared with which the
worst vices from which we suffer are trifles. Dilatory here, it is far
more dilatory in a land where the help of an interpreter is needed by
every judge and by every advocate. Costly here, it is far more costly in
a land into which the {64}legal practitioners must be imported from an
immense distance. All English labour in India, from the labour of the
Governor-General and the Commander-in-Chief, down to that of a groom
or a watchmaker, must be paid for at a higher rate than at home. No man
will be banished, and banished to the torrid zone, for nothing. The rule
holds good with respect to the legal profession. No English barrister
will work, fifteen thousand miles from all his friends, with the
thermometer at ninety-six in the shade, for the emoluments which will
content him in chambers that overlook the Thames. Accordingly, the fees
at Calcutta are about three times as great as the fees of Westminster
Hall; and this, though the people of India are, beyond all comparison,
poorer than the people of England. Yet the delay and the expense,
grievous as they are, form the smallest part of the evil which English
law, imported without modifications into India, could not fail to
produce. The strongest feelings of our nature, honour, religion, female
modesty, rose up against the innovation. Arrest on mesne process was the
first step in most civil proceedings; and to a native of rank arrest
was not merely a restraint, but a foul personal indignity. Oaths were
required in every stage of every suit; and the feeling of a Quaker about
an oath is hardly stronger than that of a respectable native. That the
apartments of a woman of quality should be entered by strange men,
or that her face should be seen by them, are in the East, intolerable
outrages, outrages which are more dreaded than death, and which can
be expiated only by the shedding of blood. To these outrages the most
distinguished families of Bengal, Bahar, and Orissa, were now exposed.
Imagine what the state of our own country would be, if a jurisprudence
were on a sudden introduced among us, which should be to us {65}what our
jurisprudence was to our Asiatic subjects. Imagine what the state of our
country would he, if it were enacted that any man, by merely swearing
that a debt was due to him, should acquire a right to insult the persons
of men of the most honourable and sacred callings and of women of the
most shrinking delicacy, to horsewhip a general officer, to put a bishop
in the stocks, to treat ladies in the way which called forth the blow of
Wat Tyler. Something like this was the effect of the attempt which the
Supreme Court made to extend its jurisdiction over the whole of the
Company\x92s territory.

A reign of terror began, of terror heightened by mystery; for even that
which was endured was less horrible than that which was anticipated.
No man knew what was next to be expected from this strange tribunal.
It came from beyond the black water, as the people of India, with
mysterious horror, call the sea. It consisted of judges not one of whom
was familiar with the usages of the millions over whom they claimed
boundless authority. Its records were kept in unknown characters; its
sentences were pronounced in unknown sounds. It had already collected
round itself an army of the worst part of the native population,
informers, and false witnesses, and common barrators, and agents of
chicane, and above all, a banditti of bailiffs\x92 followers, compared with
whom the retainers of the worst English spunging-houses, in the worst
times, might be considered as upright and tender-hearted. Many natives,
highly considered among their countrymen, were seized, hurried up to
Calcutta, flung into the common gaol, not for any crime even imputed,
not for any debt that had been proved, but merely as a precaution till
their cause should come to trial. There were instances in which men
{66}of the most, venerable dignity, persecuted without a cause by
extortioners, died of rage and shame in the gripe of the vile alguazils
of Impey. The harems of noble Mahommedans, sanctuaries respected in the
East by governments which respected nothing else, were burst open
by gangs of bailiff\x92s. The Mussulmans, braver and less accustomed to
submission than the Hindoos, sometimes stood on their defence; and there
were instances in which they shed their blood in the doorway, while
defending, sword in hand, the sacred apartments of their women. Nay, it
seemed as if even the faint-hearted Bengalee, who had crouched at the
feet of Surajah Dowlah, who had been mute during the administration
of Vansittart, would at length find courage in despair. No Mahratta
invasion had ever spread through the province such dismay as this inroad
of English lawyers. All the injustice of former oppressors, Asiatic and
European, appeared as a blessing when compared with the Justice of the
Supreme Court.

Every class of the population, English and native, with the exception
of the ravenous pettifoggers who fattened on the misery and terror of an
immense community, cried out loudly against this fearful oppression. But
the judges were immovable. If a bailiff was resisted, they ordered the
soldiers to be called out. If a servant of the Company, in conformity
with the orders of the government, withstood the miserable catchpoles
who, with Impey\x92s writs in their hands, exceeded the insolence and
rapacity of gang-robbers, he was flung into prison for a contempt. The
lapse of sixty years, the virtue and wisdom of many eminent magistrates
who have during that time administered justice in the Supreme Court,
have not effaced from the minds of the people of Bengal the recollection
of those evil days. {67}The members of the government were, on this
subject, united as one man. Hastings had courted the judges; He had
found them useful instruments; but he was not disposed to make them his
own masters, or the masters of India. His mind was large; his knowledge
of the native character most accurate. He saw that the system pursued
by the Supreme Court was degrading to the government and ruinous to the
people; and he resolved to oppose it manfully. The consequence was, that
the friendship, if that be the proper word for such a connection, which
had existed between him and Impey, was for a time completely dissolved.
The government placed itself firmly between the tyrannical tribunal and
the people. The Chief Justice proceeded to the wildest excesses. The
Governor-General and all the members of Council were served with writs,
calling on them to appear before the King\x92s justices, and to answer for
their public acts. This was too much. Hastings, with just scorn, refused
to obey the call, set at liberty the persons wrongfully detained by the
Court, and took measures for resisting the outrageous proceedings of
the sheriffs\x92 officers, if necessary, by the sword. But he had in view
another device, which might prevent the necessity of an appeal to arms.
He was seldom at a loss for an expedient; and he knew Impey well. The
expedient, in this case, was a very simple one, neither more nor less
than a bribe. Impey was, by act of parliament, a judge, independent of
the government of Bengal, and entitled to a salary of eight thousand
a year. Hastings proposed to make him also a judge in the Company\x92s
service, removable at the pleasure of the government of Bengal; and to
give him, in that capacity, about eight thousand a year more. It was
understood that, in consideration of this {68}new salary, Impey would
desist from urging the high pretensions of his court. If he did urge
these pretensions, the government could, at a moment\x92s notice, eject
him from the new place which had been created for him. The bargain was
struck; Bengal was saved; an appeal to force was averted; and the Chief
Justice was rich, quiet, and infamous.

Of Impey\x92s conduct it is unnecessary to speak. It was of a piece with
almost every part of his conduct that comes under the notice of history.
No other such judge has dishonoured the English ermine, since Jefferies
drank himself to death in the Tower. But we cannot agree with those
who have blamed Hastings for this transaction. The case stood thus. The
negligent manner in which the Regulating Act had been framed put it in
the power of the Chief Justice to throw a great country into the most
dreadful confusion. He was determined to use his power to the utmost,
unless he was paid to be still; and Hastings consented to pay him. The
necessity was to be deplored. It is also to be deplored that pirates
should be able to exact ransom, by threatening to make their captives
walk a plank. But to ransom a captive from pirates has always been held
a humane and Christian act; and it would be absurd to charge the payer
of the ransom with corrupting the virtue of the corsair. This, we
seriously think, is a not unfair illustration of the relative position
of Impey, Hastings, and the people of India. Whether it was right in
Impey to demand or to accept a price for powers which, if they really
belonged to him, he could not abdicate, which, if they did not belong to
him, he ought never to have usurped, and which in neither case he could
honestly sell, is one question. It is quite another question, whether
Hastings was not {69}right to give any sum, however large, to any man,
however worthless, rather than either surrender millions of human beings
to pillage, or rescue them by civil war.

Francis strongly opposed this arrangement. It may, indeed, be suspected
that personal aversion to Impey was as strong a motive with Francis
as regard for the welfare of the province. To a mind burning with
resentment, it might seem better to leave Bengal to the oppressors than
to redeem it by enriching them. It is not improbable, on the other hand,
that Hastings may have been the more willing to resort to an expedient
agreeable to the Chief Justice, because that high functionary had
already been so serviceable, and might, when existing dissensions were
composed, be serviceable again.

But it was not on this point alone that Francis was now opposed to
Hastings. The peace between them proved to be only a short and hollow
truce, during which their mutual aversion was constantly becoming
stronger. At length an explosion took place. Hastings publicly charged
Francis with having deceived him, and with having induced Harwell to
quit the service by insincere promises. Then came a dispute, such
as frequently arises even between honourable men, when they may
make important agreements by mere verbal communication. An impartial
historian will probably be of opinion that they had misunderstood each
other; but their minds were so much embittered that they imputed to each
other nothing less than deliberate villany.

\x93I do not,\x94 said Hastings, in a minute recorded on the Consultations
of the Government, \x93I do not trust to Mr. Francis\x92s promises of candor,
convinced that he is incapable of it. I judge of his public conduct
{70}by his private, which I have found to be void of truth and
honour.\x94 After the Council had risen, Francis put a challenge into the
Governor-General\x92s hand. It was instantly accepted. They met and fired.
Francis was shot through the body. He was carried to a neighbouring
house, where it appeared that the wound, though severe, was not mortal.
Hastings inquired repeatedly after his enemy\x92s health, and proposed
to call on him; but Francis coldly declined the visit. He had a proper
sense, he said, of the Governor-General\x92s politeness, but could
not consent to any private interview. They could meet only at the

In a very short time it was made signally manifest to how great a danger
the Governor-General had, on this occasion, exposed his country. A
crisis arrived with with which he, and he alone, was competent to deal.
It is not too much to say that, if he had been taken from the head of
affairs, the years 1780 and 1781 would have been as fatal to our power
in Asia as to our power in America.

The Mahrattas had been the chief objects of apprehension to Hastings.
The measures which he had adopted for the purpose of breaking their
power, had at first been frustrated by the errors of those whom he was
compelled to employ; but his perseverance and ability seemed likely to
be crowned with success, when a far more formidable danger showed itself
in another quarter.

About thirty years before this time, a Mahommedan soldier had begun to
distinguish himself in the wars of Southern India. His education had
been neglected; his extraction was humble. His father had been a petty
officer of revenue; his grandfather a wandering dervise. But though
thus meanly descended, {71}though ignorant even of the alphabet, the
adventurer had no sooner been placed at the head of a body, of troops
than he approved himself a man born for conquest and command. Among the
crowd of chiefs who were struggling for a share of India, none could
compare with him in the qualities of the captain and the statesman. He
became a general; he became a sovereign. Out of the fragments of old
principalities, which had gone to pieces in the general wreck, he formed
for himself a great, compact, and vigorous empire. That empire he
ruled with the ability, severity, and vigilance of Lewis the Eleventh.
Licentious in his pleasures, implacable in his revenge, he had yet
enlargement of mind enough to perceive how much the prosperity of
subjects adds to the strength of governments. He was an oppressor;
but he had at least the merit of protecting his people against all
oppression except his own. He was now in extreme old age; but his
intellect was as clear, and his spirit as high, as in the prime of
manhood. Such was the great Hyder Ali, the founder of the Mahommedan
kingdom of Mysore, and the most formidable enemy with whom the English
conquerors of India have ever had to contend.

Had Hastings been governor of Madras, Hyder would have been either made
a friend, or vigorously encountered as an enemy. Unhappily the English
authorities in the south provoked their powerful neighbour\x92s hostility,
without being prepared to repel it. On a sudden, an army of ninety
thousand men, far superior in discipline and efficiency to any other
native force that could be found in India, came pouring through those
wild passes which, worn by mountain torrents, and dark with jungle,
lead down from the table land of Mysore to the plains of the Carnatic.
{72}This great army was accompanied by a hundred pieces of cannon; and
its movements were guided by many French officers, trained in the best
military schools of Europe.

Hyder was everywhere triumphant. The sepoys in many British garrisons
flung down their arms. Some forts were surrendered by treachery, and
some by despair. In a few days the whole open country north of the
Coleroon had submitted. The English inhabitants of Madras could
already see by night, from the top of Mount St. Thomas, the eastern sky
reddened by a vast semicircle of blazing villages. The white villas, to
which our countrymen retire after the daily labours of government and
of trade, when the cool evening breeze springs up from the bay, were now
left without inhabitants; for bands of the fierce horsemen of Mysore
had already been seen prowling among the tulip-trees, and near the
gay verandas. Even the town was not thought secure, and the British
merchants and public functionaries made haste to crowd themselves behind
the cannon of Fort St. George.

There were the means, indeed, of assembling an army which might have
defended the presidency, and even driven the invader back to his
mountains. Sir Hector Munro was at the head of one considerable force;
Baillie was advancing with another. United, they might have presented
a formidable front even to such an enemy as Hyder. But the English
commanders, neglecting those fundamental rules of the military art of
which the propriety is obvious even to men who had never received
a military education, deferred their junction, and were separately
attacked. Baillie\x92s detachment was destroyed. Munro was forced to
abandon his baggage, to fling his guns into the tanks, and to {73}save
himself by a retreat which might be called a flight. In three weeks from
the commencement of the war, the British empire in Southern India had
been brought to the verge of ruin. Only a few fortified places remained
to us. The glory of our arms had departed. It was known that a great
French expedition might soon be expected on the coast of Coromandel.
England, beset by enemies on every side, was in no condition to protect
such remote dependencies.

Then it was that the fertile genius and serene courage of Hastings
achieved their most signal triumph. A swift ship, flying before the
south-west monsoon, brought the evil tidings in a few days to Calcutta.
In twenty-four hours the Governor-General had framed a complete plan of
policy adapted to the altered state of affairs. The struggle with Hyder
was a struggle for life and death. All minor objects must be sacrificed
to the preservation of the Carnatic. The disputes with the Mahrattas
must be accommodated. A large military force and a supply of money
must be instantly sent to Madras. But even these measures would be
insufficient, unless the war, hitherto so grossly mismanaged, were
placed under the direction of a vigorous mind. It was no time for
trifling. Hastings determined to resort to an extreme exercise of power,
to suspend the incapable governor of Fort St. George, to send Sir Eyre
Coote to oppose Hyder, and to intrust that distinguished general with
the whole administration of the war.

In spite of the sullen opposition of Francis, who had now recovered from
his wound, and had returned to the Council, the Governor-General\x92s
wise and firm policy was approved by the majority of the board. The
reinforcements were sent off with great expedition, {74}and readied
Madras before the French armament arrived in the Indian seas. Coote,
broken by age and disease, was no longer the oote of Wandewash; but he
was still a resolute and skilful commander. The progress of Hyder was
arrested; and in a few months the great victory of Porto Novo retrieved
the honour of the English arms.

In the mean time Francis had returned to England, and Hastings was now
left perfectly unfettered. Wheler had gradually been relaxing in his
opposition, and, after the departure of his vehement and implacable
colleague, co-operated heartily with the Governor-General, whose
influence over the British in India, always great, had, by the vigour
and success of his recent measures, been considerably increased.

But, though the difficulties arising from factions within the Council
were at an end, another class of difficulties had become more pressing
than ever. The financial embarrassment was extreme. Hastings had to
find the means, not only of carrying on the government of Bengal, but of
maintaining a most costly war against both Indian and European enemies
in the Carnatic, and of making remittances to England. A few years
before this time he had obtained relief by plundering the Mogul and
enslaving the Rohillias; nor were the resources of his fruitful mind by
any means exhausted.

His first design was on Benares, a city which in wealth, population,
dignity, and sanctity, was among the foremost in Asia. It was commonly
believed that half a million of human beings was crowded into that
labyrinth of lofty alleys, rich with shrines, and minarets, and
balconies, and carved oriels, to which the sacred apes clung by
hundreds. The traveller could {75}scarcely make his way through the
press of holy mendicants and not less holy bulls. The broad and stately
flights of steps which descended from these swarming haunts to the
bathing-places along the Ganges were worn every day by the footsteps of
an innumerable multitude of worshippers. The schools and temples drew
crowds of pious Hindoos from every province where the Brahminical faith
was known. Hundreds of devotees came thither every month to die: for
it was believed that a peculiarly happy fate awaited the man who should
pass from the sacred city into the sacred river. Nor was superstition
the only motive which allured strangers to that great metropolis.
Commerce had as many pilgrims as religion. All along the shores of
the venerable stream lay great fleets of vessels laden with rich
merchandise. From the looms of Benares went forth the most delicate
silks that adorned the balls of St. James\x92s and of Versailles; and in
the bazars, the muslins of Bengal and the sabres of Oude were mingled
with the jewels of Golconda and the shawls of Cashmere. This rich
capital, and the surrounding tract, had long been under the immediate
rule of a Hindoo prince, who rendered homage to the Mogul emperors.
During the great anarchy of India, the lords of Benares became
independent of the court of Delhi, but were compelled to submit to the
authority of the Nabob of Oude. Oppressed by this formidable neighbour,
they invoked the protection of the English. The English protection was
given; and at length the Nabob Vizier, by a solemn treaty ceded all his
rights over Benares to the Company. From that time the Rajah was the
vassal of the government of Bengal, acknowledged its supremacy, and
engaged to send an annual tribute to Fort William. This tribute Cheyte
Sing, the reigning prince, had paid with strict punctuality. {76}About
the precise nature of the legal relation between the Company and the
Rajah of Benares, there has been much warm and acute controversy. On
the one side it has been maintained that Cheyte Sing was merely a great
subject on whom the superior power had a right to call for aid in the
necessities of the empire. On the other side, it has been contended that
he was an independent prince, that the only claim which the Company had
upon him was for a fixed tribute, and that, while the fixed tribute was
regularly paid, as it assuredly was, the English had no more right to
exact any further contribution from him than to demand subsidies from
Holland or Denmark. Nothing is easier than to find precedents and
analogies in favour of either view.

Our own impression is that neither view is correct. It was too much the
habit of English politicians to take it for granted that there was in
India a known and definite constitution by which questions of this kind
were to be decided. The truth is that, during the interval which elapsed
between the fall of the house of Tamerlane and the establishment of the
British ascendency, there was no such constitution. The old order of
things had passed away; the new order of things was not yet formed. All
was transition, confusion, obscurity. Everybody kept his head as he best
might, and scrambled for whatever he could get. There have been similar
seasons in Europe. The time of the dissolution of the Carlovingian
empire is an instance. Who would think of seriously discussing the
question, what extent of pecuniary aid and of obedience Hugh Capet had a
constitutional right to demand from the Duke of Britanny or the Duke
of Normandy? The words \x93constitutional right\x94 had, in that state of
society, no meaning. If {77}Hugh Capet laid hands on all the possessions
of the Duke of Normandy, this might be unjust and immoral; but it would
not be illegal, in the sense in which the ordinances of Charles the
Tenth were illegal. If, on the other hand, the Duke of Normandy made
war on Hugh Capet, this might be unjust and immoral; but it would not be
illegal, in the sense in which the expedition of Prince Louis Bonaparte
was illegal.

Very similar to this was the state of India sixty years ago. Of the
existing governments not a single one could lay claim to legitimacy, or
could plead any other title than recent occupation. There was scarcely a
province in which the real sovereignty and the nominal sovereignty were
not disjoined. Titles and forms were still retained which implied that
the heir of Tamerlane was an absolute ruler, and that the Nabobs of the
provinces were his lieutenants. In reality, he was a captive. The Nabobs
were in some places independent princes. In other places, as in Bengal
and the Carnatic, they had, like their master, become mere phantoms, and
the Company was supreme. Among the Mahrattas, again, the heir of Sevajee
still kept the title of Rajah; but he was a prisoner, and his prime
minister, the Pesliwa, had become the hereditary chief of the state. The
Peshwa, in his turn, was fast sinking into the same degraded situation
into which he had reduced the Rajah. It was, we believe, impossible to
find, from the Himalayas to Mysore, a single government which was
at once a government _de facto_, and a government _de jure_, which
possessed the physical means of making itself feared by its neighbours
and subjects, and which had at the same time the authority derived from
law and long prescription.

Hastings clearly discerned what was hidden from {78}most of his
contemporaries, that such a state of things gave immense advantages to a
ruler of great talents and few scruples. In every international question
that could arise, he had his option between the _de facto_ ground and
the _de jure_ ground; and the probability was that one of those grounds
would sustain any claim that it might be convenient for him to make,
and enable him to resist any claim made by others. In every controversy,
accordingly, he resorted to the plea which suited his immediate purpose,
without troubling himself in the least about consistency; and thus he
scarcely ever failed to find what, to persons of short memories and
scanty information, seemed to be a justification for what he wanted
to do. Sometimes the Nabob of Bengal is a shadow, sometimes a monarch.
Sometimes the Vizier is a mere deputy, sometimes an independent
potentate. If it is expedient for the Company to show some legal title
to the revenues of Bengal, the grant under the seal of the Mogul is
brought forward as an instrument of the highest authority. When the
Mogul asks for the rents which were reserved to him by that very grant,
he is told that he is a mere pageant, that the English power rests on
a very different foundation from a charter given by him, that he is
welcome to play at royalty as long as he likes, but that he must expect
no tribute from the real masters of India.

It is true that it was in the power of others, as well as of Hastings,
to practise this legerdemain; but in the controversies of governments,
sophistry is of little use unless it be backed by power. There is a
principle which Hastings was fond of asserting in the strongest terms,
and on which he acted with undeviating steadiness. It is a principle
which, we must own, though it may be grossly abused, can hardly be
disputed in the {79}present state of public law. It is this, that where
an ambiguous question arises between two governments, there is, if they
cannot agree, no appeal except to force, and that the opinion of the
stronger must prevail. Almost every question was ambiguous in India.
The English government was the strongest in India. The consequences are
obvious. The English government might do exactly what it chose.

The English government now chose to wring money out of Cheyte Sing. It
had formerly been convenient to treat him as a sovereign prince; it was
now convenient to treat him as a subject. Dexterity inferior to that of
Hastings could easily find, in the general chaos of laws and customs,
arguments for either course. Hastings wanted a great supply. It was
known that Cheyte Sing had a large revenue, and it was suspected that he
had accumulated a treasure. Nor was he a favourite at Calcutta. He had.
when the Governor-General was in great difficulties, courted the favour
of Francis and Clavering. Hastings, who, less perhaps from evil passions
than from policy, seldom left an injury unpunished, was not sorry that
the fate of Cheyte Sing should teach neighbouring princes the same
lesson which the fate of Nuncomar had already impressed on the
inhabitants of Bengal.

In 1778, on the first breaking out of the war with France, Cheyte
Sing was called upon to pay, in addition to his fixed tribute, an
extraordinary contribution of fifty thousand pounds. In 1779, an equal
sum was exacted. In 1780, the demand was renewed. Cheyte Sing, in the
hope of obtaining some indulgence, secretly offered the Governor-General
a bribe of twenty thousand pounds. Hastings took the money, and his
enemies have maintained that he took it intending to {80}keep it. He
certainly concealed the transaction, for a time, both from the Council
in Bengal and from the Directors at home; nor did he ever give any
satisfactory reason for the concealment. Public spirit, or the fear of
detection, at last determined him to withstand the temptation. He paid
over the bribe to the Company\x92s treasury, and insisted that the Rajah
should instantly comply with the demands of the English government. The
Rajah, after the fashion of his countrymen, shuffled, solicited, and
pleaded poverty. The grasp of Hastings was not to be so eluded. He added
to the requisition another ten thousand pounds as a fine for delay, and
sent troops to exact the money.

The money was paid. But this was not enough. The late events in the
south of India had increased the financial embarrassments of the
Company. Hastings was determined to plunder Cheyte Sing, and, for that
end, to fasten a quarrel on him. Accordingly, the Rajah was now required
to keep a body of cavalry for the service of the British government. He
objected and evaded. This was exactly what the Governor-General wanted.
He had now a pretext for treating the wealthiest of his vassals as a
criminal. \x93I resolved,\x94--these are the words of Hastings himself,--\x93to
draw from his guilt the means of relief of the Company\x92s distresses, to
make him pay largely for his pardon, or to exact a severe vengeance for
past delinquency.\x94 The plan was simply this, to demand larger and larger
contributions till the Rajah should be driven to remonstrate, then to
call his remonstrance a crime, and to punish him by confiscating all his

Cheyte Sing was in the greatest dismay. He offered two hundred thousand
pounds to propitiate the British {81}government. But Hastings replied
that nothing less than half a million would be accepted. Nay, he began
to think of selling Benares to Oude, as he had formerly sold Allahabad
and Rohilcund. The matter was one which could not be well managed at a
distance; and Hastings resolved to visit Benares.

Cheyte Sing received his liege lord with every mark of reverence, came
near sixty miles, with his guards, to meet and escort the illustrious
visiter, and expressed his deep concern at the displeasure of the
English. He even took off his turban, and laid it in the lap of
Hastings, a gesture which in India marks the most profound submission
and devotion. Hastings behaved with cold and repulsive severity. Having
arrived at Benares, he sent to the Rajah a paper containing the demands
of the government of Bengal. The Rajah, in reply, attempted to clear
himself from the accusations brought against him. Hastings, who wanted
money and not excuses, was not to be put off by the ordinary artifices
of Eastern negotiation. He instantly ordered the Rajah to be arrested
and placed under the custody of two companies of sepoys.

In taking these strong measures, Hastings scarcely showed his usual
judgment. It is possible that, having had little opportunity of
personally observing any part of the population of India, except the
Bengalees, he was not fully aware of the difference between their
character and that of the tribes which inhabit the upper provinces. He
was now in a land far more favourable to the vigour of the human frame
than the Delta of the Ganges; in a land fruitful of soldiers, who have
been found worthy to follow English battalions to the charge and into
the breach. The Rajah was popular among his subjects. His administration
{82} had been mild; and the prosperity of the district which he governed
presented a striking contrast to the depressed state of Bahar under our
rule, and a still more striking contrast to the misery of the provinces
winch were cursed by the tyranny of the Nabob Vizier. The national and
religious prejudices with which the English were regarded throughout
India were peculiarly intense in the metropolis of the Brahamical
superstition. It can therefore scarcely be doubted that the
Governor-General, before he outraged the dignity of Cheyte Sing by an
arrest, ought to have assembled a force capable of bearing down all
opposition. This had not been done. The handful of Sepoys who attended
Hastings would probably have been sufficient to overawe Moorshedabad, or
the Black Town of Calcutta. But they were unequal to a conflict with the
hardy rabble of Benares. The streets surrounding the palace were filled
by an immense multitude, of whom a large proportion, as is usual in
Upper India, wore arms. The tumult became a fight, and the fight a
massacre. The English officers defended themselves with desperate
courage against overwhelming numbers, and fell, as became them, sword
in hand. The sepoys were butchered. The gates were forced. The captive
prince, neglected by his gaolers during the confusion, discovered, an
outlet which opened on the precipitous bank of the Gances, let himself
down to the water by a string made of the turbans of his attendants,
found a boat, and escaped to the opposite shore.

If Hastings had, by indiscreet violence, brought, himself into a
difficult and perilous situation, it is only just to acknowledge that he
extricated himself with even more than his usual ability and presence of
mind. He had only fifty men with him. The building in which {83}he had
taken up his residence was on every side blockaded by the insurgents.
But his fortitude remained unshaken. The Rajah from the other side
of the river sent apologies and liberal offers. They were not even
answered. Some subtle and enterprising men were found who undertook to
pass through the throng of enemies, and to convey the intelligence of
the late events to the English cantonments. It is the fashion of the
natives of India to wear large earrings of gold. When they travel, the
rings are laid aside, lest the precious metal should tempt some gang
of robbers; and, in place of the ring, a quill or a roll of paper is
inserted in the orifice to prevent it from closing. Hastings placed in
the ears of his messengers letters rolled up in the smallest compass.
Some of these letters were addressed to the commanders of English
troops. One was written to assure his wife of his safety. One was to the
envoy whom he had sent to negotiate with the Mahrattas. Instructions
for the negotiation were needed; and the Governor-General framed them
in that situation of extreme danger, with as much composure as if he had
been writing in his palace at Calcutta.

Things, however, were not yet at the worst. An English officer of more
spirit than judgment, eager to distinguish himself, made a premature
attack on the insurgents beyond the river. His troops were entangled in
narrow streets, and assailed by a furious population. He fell, with many
of his men; and the survivors were forced to retire.

This event produced the effect which has never failed to follow every
check, however slight, sustained in India by the English arms. For
hundreds of miles round, the whole country was in commotion. The entire
population {84}of the district of Benares took arms. The fields were
abandoned by the husbandmen, who thronged to defend their prince. The
infection spread to Oude. The oppressed people of that province rose
up against the Nabob Vizier, refused to pay their imposts, and put the
revenue officers to flight. Even Bahar was ripe for revolt. The hopes
of Cheyte Sing began to rise. Instead of imploring mercy in the humble
style of a vassal, he began to talk the language of a conqueror, and
threatened, it was said, to sweep the white usurpers out of the land.
But the English troops were now assembling fast. The officers, and
even the private men, regarded the Governor-General with enthusiastic
attachment, and flew to his aid with an alacrity which, as he boasted,
had never been shown on any other occasion. Major Popham, a brave and
skilful soldier, who had highly distinguished himself in the Maliratta
war, and in whom the Governor-General reposed the greatest confidence,
took the command. The tumultuary army of the Rajah was put to rout. His
fastnesses were stormed. In a few hours, above thirty thousand men left
his standard, and returned to their ordinary avocations. The unhappy
prince fled from his country for ever. His fair domain was added to the
British dominions. One of his relations indeed was appointed rajah; but
the Rajah of Benares was henceforth to be, like the Nabob of Bengal, a
mere pensioner.

By this revolution, an addition of two hundred thousand pounds a year
was made to the revenues of the Company. But the immediate relief was
not as great as had been expected. The treasure laid up by Cheyte Sing
had been popularly estimated at a million sterling. It turned out to be
about a fourth part of that sum; {85}and, such as it was, it was seized
by the array, and divided as prize-money.

Disappointed in his expectations from Benares, Hastings was more violent
than he would otherwise have been, in his dealings with Oude. Sujah
Dowlali had long been dead. His son and successor, Asaph-ul-Dowlah, was
one of the weakest and most vicious even of Eastern princes. His
life was divided between torpid repose and the most odious forms of
sensuality. In his court there was boundless waste, throughout his
dominions wretchedness and disorder. He had been, under the skilful
management of the English government, gradually sinking from the rank of
an independent prince to that of a vassal of the Company. It was only
by the help of a British brigade that he could be secure from the
aggressions of neighbours who despised his weakness, and from the
vengeance of subjects who detested his tyranny. A brigade was furnished;
and he engaged to defray the charge of paying and maintaining it. From
that time his independence was at an end. Hastings was not a man to lose
the advantage which he had thus gained. The Nabob soon began to complain
of the burden which he had undertaken to bear. His revenues, he said,
were falling off; his servants were unpaid; he could no longer support
the expense of the arrangement which he had sanctioned. Hastings would
not listen to these representations. The Vizier, he said, had invited
the government of Bengal to send him troops, and had promised to pay for
them. The troops had been sent. How long the troops were to remain in
Oude was a matter not settled by the treaty. It remained, therefore, to
be settled between the contracting parties. But the contracting parties
differed. Who then must decide? The stronger. {86}Hastings also argued
that, if the English force was withdrawn, Oude would certainly become a
prey to anarchy, and would probably be overrun by a Mahratta army.

That the finances of Oude were embarrassed he admitted. But he
contended, not without reason, that the embarrassment was to be
attributed to the incapacity and vices of Asaph-ul-Dowlah himself, and
that, if less were spent on the troops, the only effect would be that
more would be squandered on worthless favourites.

Hastings had intended, after settling the affairs of Benares, to visit
Lucknow, and there to confer with Asaph-il-Dowlah. But the obsequious
courtesy of the Nabob Vizier prevented this visit. With a small train
he hastened to meet the Governor-General. An interview took place in the
fortress which, from the crest of the precipitous rock of Chumar, looks
down on the waters of the Ganges.

At first sight it might appear impossible that the negotiation should
come to an amicable close. Hastings wanted an extraordinary supply of
money. Asaph-ul-Dowlah Avanted to obtain a remission of what he already
owed. Such a difference seemed to admit of no compromise. There was,
however, one course satisfactory to both sides, one course by which it
was possible to relieve the finances both of Oude and Beniial; and that
course was adopted. It was simply this, that the Governor-General and
the Nabob Vizier should join to rob a third party; and the third party
whom they determined to rob was the parent of one of the robbers.

The mother of the late Nabob, and his wife, who was the mother of the
present Nabob, were known as the Begums or Princesses of Oude. They had
possessed {87}great influence over Sujali Dowlah, and had, at his death,
been left in possession of a splendid dotation. The domains of which
they received the rents and administered the government were of wide
extent. The treasure hoarded by the late Nabob, a treasure which was
popularly estimated at near three millions sterling, was in their hands.
They continued to occupy his favourite palace at Fyzabad, the Beautiful
Dwelling; while Asaph-il-Dowlah held his court in the stately Lucknow,
which he had built for himself on the shores of the Goomti, and had
adorned with noble mosques and colleges.

Asaph-ul-Dowlah had already extorted considerable sums from his
mother. She had at length appealed to the English; and the English had
interfered. A solemn compact had been made, by which she consented to
give her son some pecuniary assistance, and he in his turn, promised
never to commit any further invasion of her rights. This compact was
formally guaranteed by the government of Bengal. But times had changed:
money was wanted; and the power which had given the guarantee was not
ashamed to instigate the spoiler to excesses such that even he shrank
from them.

It was necessary to find some pretext for a confiscation inconsistent,
not merely with plighted faith, not merely with the ordinary rules
of humanity and justice, but also with that great law of filial piety
which, even in the wildest tribes of savages, even in those more
degraded communities which wither under the influence of a corrupt
half-civilisation, retains a certain authority over the human mind.
A pretext was the last thing that Hastings was likely to want. The
insurrection at Benares had produced disturbances in Oude. These
disturbances it was convenient to impure to the Princesses. {88}Evidence
for the imputation there was scarcely any; unless reports wandering from
one mouth to another, and gaining something by every transmission, may
be called evidence. The accused were furnished with no charge; they were
permitted to make no defence; for the Governor-General wisely considered
that, if he tried them, he might not be able to find a ground for
plundering them. It was agreed between him and the Nabob Vizier that the
noble ladies should, by a sweeping act of confiscation, be stripped of
their domains and treasures for the benefit of the Company, and that
the sums thus obtained should be accepted by the government of Bengal in
satisfaction of its claims on the government of Onde.

While Asaph-ul-Dowlah was at Chunar, he was completely subjugated by the
clear and commanding intellect of the English statesman. But, when
they had separated, the Vizier began to reflect with uneasiness on
the engagements into which he had entered. His mother and grandmother
protested and implored. His heart, deeply corrupted by absolute power
and licentious pleasures, yet not naturally unfeeling, failed him in
this crisis. Even the English resident at Lucknow, though hitherto
devoted to Hastings, shrank from extreme measures. But the
Governor-General was inexorable. He wrote to the resident in terms of
the greatest severity, and declared that, if the spoliation which
had been agreed upon were not instantly carried into effect, he would
himself go to Lucknow, and do that from which feebler minds recoil with
dismay. The resident, thus menaced, waited on his Highness, and insisted
that the treaty of Clumar should be carried into full and immediate
effect. Asaph-ul-Dowlah yielded, making at the same time a solemn
protestation {89}that he yielded to compulsion. The lands were resumed;
but the treasure was not so easily obtained. It was necessary to use
violence. A body of the Company\x92s troops marched to Fyzabad, and forced
the gates of the palace. The Princesses were confined to their own
apartments. But still they refused to submit. Some more stringent mode
of coercion was to be found. A mode was found of which, even at this
distance of time, we cannot speak without shame and sorrow.

There were at Fyzabad two ancient men, belonging to that unhappy class
which a practice, of immemorial antiquity in the East, has excluded from
the pleasures of love and from the hope of posterity. It has always been
held in Asiatic courts that beings thus estranged from sympathy with
their kind are those whom princes may most safely trust. Sujah Dowlah
had been of this opinion. He had given his entire confidence to the two
eunuchs; and after his death they remained at the head of the household
of his widow.

These men were, by the orders of the British government, seized,
imprisoned, ironed, starved almost to death, in order to extort money
from the Princesses. After they had been two months in confinement,
their health gave way. They implored permission to take a little
exercise in the garden of their prison. The officer who was in charge
of them stated that, if they were allowed this indulgence, there was not
the smallest chance of their escaping, and that their irons really added
nothing to the security of the custody in which they were kept. He
did not understand the plan of his superiors. Their object in these
inflictions was not security but torture; and all mitigation was
refused. Yet this was not the worst. It was resolved by an English
government that these two infirm old men {90}should be delivered to the
tormentors. For that purpose they were removed to Lucknow. What horrors
their dungeon there witnessed can only be guessed. But there remains on
the records of Parliament, this letter, written by a British resident to
a British soldier.

\x93Sir, the Nabob having determined to inflict corporal punishment upon
the prisoners under your guard, this is to desire that his officers,
when they shall come, may have free access to the prisoners, and be
permitted to do with them as they shall see proper.\x94

While these barbarities were perpetrated at Lucknow, the Princesses
were still under duress at Fyzabad. Food was allowed to enter their
apartments only in such scanty quantities that their female attendants
were in danger of perishing with hunger. Month after month this cruelty
continued, till at length, after twelve hundred thousand pounds had been
wrung out of the Princesses, Hastings began to think that he had really
got to the bottom of their coffers, and that no rigour could extort
more. Then at length the wretched men who were detained at Lucknow
regained their liberty. When their irons were knocked off, and the doors
of their prison opened, their quivering lips, the tears which ran down
their cheeks, and the thanksgivings which they poured forth to the
common Father of Mussulmans and Christians, melted even the stout hearts
of the English warriors who stood by.

But must not forget to do justice to Sir Elijah Impey\x92s conduct on
this occasion. It was not indeed easy for him to intrude himself into a
business so entirely alien from all his official duties. But there
was something inexpressibly alluring, we must suppose, in the peculiar
rankness of the infamy which was then to be got at Lucknow. He hurried
thither as fast as {91}relays of palanquin-bearers could carry him.
A crowd of people came before him with affidavits against the Begums,
ready drawn in their hands. Those affidavits he did not read. Some
of them, indeed, he could not read; for they were in the dialects of
Northern India, and no interpreter was employed. He administered the
oath to the deponents with all possible expedition, and asked not a
single question, not even whether they had perused the statements to
which they swore. This work performed, he got again into his palanquin,
and posted back to Calcutta, to be in time for the opening of term. The
cause was one which, by his own confession, lay altogether out of his
jurisdiction. Under the charter of justice, he had no more right
to inquire into crimes committed by Asiatics in Oude, than the Lord
President of the Court of Sessions of Scotland to hold an assize at
Exeter. He had no right to try the Begums, nor did he pretend to try
them. With what object, then, did he undertake so long a journey?
Evidently in order that he might give, in an irregular manner, that
sanction which in a regular manner he could not give, to the crimes of
those who had recently hired him; and in order that a confused mass
of testimony which he did not sift, which he did not even read, might
acquire an authority not properly belonging to it, from the signature of
the highest judicial functionary in India.

The time was approaching, however, when he was to be stripped of that
robe which has never, since the Revolution, been disgraced so foully
as by him. The state of India had for some time occupied much of the
attention of the British Parliament. Towards the close of the American
war, two committees of the Commons sat on Eastern affairs. In one Edmund
Burke took {92}the lead. The other was under the presidency of the able
and versatile Henry Dundas, then Lord Advocate of Scotland. Great as are
the changes which during the last sixty years have taken place in our
Asiatic dominions, the reports which those committees laid on the table
of the House will still be found most interesting and instructive.

There was as yet no connection between the Company and either of the
great parties in the state. The ministers had no motive to defend Indian
abuses. On the contrary, it was for their interest to show, if possible,
that the government and patronage of our Oriental empire might, with
advantage, be transferred to themselves. The votes therefore, which, in
consequence of the reports made by the two committees, were passed by
the Commons, breathed the spirit of stern and indignant justice. The
severest epithets were applied to several of the measures of Hastings,
especially to the Rohilla war; and it was resolved, on the motion of
Mr. Dundas, that the Company ought to recall a Governor-General who had
brought such calamities on the Indian people, and such dishonour on the
British name. An act was passed for limiting the jurisdiction of the
Supreme Court. The bargain which Hastings had made with the Chief
Justice was condemned in the strongest terms; and an address was
presented to the king, praying that Impey might be summoned home to
answer for his misdeeds.

Impey was recalled by a letter from the Secretary of State. But the
proprietors of India Stock resolutely refused to dismiss Hastings from
their service, and passed a resolution, affirming, what was undeniably
true, that they were intrusted by law with the right of naming and
removing their Governor-General, and {93}that they were not bound to
obey the directions of a single branch of the legislature with respect
to such nomination or removal.

Thus supported by his employers, Hastings remained at the head of the
government of Bengal till the spring of 1785. His administration, so
eventful and stormy, closed in almost perfect quiet. In the Council
there was no regular opposition to his measures. Peace was restored to
India. The Mahratta war had ceased. Hyder was no more. A treaty had been
concluded with his son, Tippoo; and the Carnatic had been evacuated by
the armies of Mysore. Since the termination of the American war, England
had no European enemy or rival in the Eastern seas.

On a general review of the long administration of Hastings, it is
impossible to deny that, against the great crimes by which it is
blemished, we have to set off great public services. England had passed
through a perilous crisis. She still, indeed, maintained her place in
the foremost rank of European powers; and the manner in which she had
defended herself against fearful odds had inspired surrounding
nations with a high opinion both of her spirit and of her strength.
Nevertheless, in every part of the world, except one, she had been a
loser. Not only had she been compelled to acknowledge the independence
of thirteen colonies peopled by her children, and to conciliate the
Irish by giving up the right of legislating for them; but, in the
Mediterranean, in the Gulf of Mexico, on the coast of Africa, on the
continent of America, she had been compelled to cede the fruits of her
victories in former wars. Spain regained Minorca and Florida; France
regained Senegal, Goree, and several West Indian Islands. The only
quarter of the world in which {94}Britain had lost nothing was the
quarter in which her interests had been committed to the care of
Hastings. In spite of the utmost exertions both of European and
Asiatic enemies, the power of our country in the East had been greatly
augmented. Benares was subjected; the Nabob Vizier reduced to vassalage.
That our influence had been thus extended, nay, that Fort William and
Fort St. George had not been occupied by hostile armies, was owing, if
we may trust the general voice of the English in India, to the skill and
resolution of Hastings.

His internal administration, with all its blemishes, gives him a title
to be considered as one of the most remarkable men in our history. He
dissolved the double government. He transferred the direction of affairs
to English hands. Out of a frightful anarchy, he educed at least a
rude and imperfect order. The whole organization by which justice was
dispensed, revenue collected, peace maintained throughout a territory
not inferior in population to the dominions of Lewis the Sixteenth or of
the Emperor Joseph, was formed and superintended by him. He boasted
that every public office, without exception, which existed when he left
Bengal, was his creation. It is quite true that this system, after all
the improvements suggested by the experience of sixty years, still needs
improvement, and that it was at first far more defective than it now
is. But whoever seriously considers what it is to construct from the
beginning the whole of a machine so vast and complex as a government,
will allow that what Hastings effected deserves high admiration. To
compare the most celebrated European ministers to him seems to us as
unjust as it would be to compare the best baker in London with Robinson
Crusoe, who, {95}before he could bake a single loaf, had to make his
plough and his harrow, his fences and his scarecrows, his sickle and his
flail, his mill and his oven.

The just fame of Hastings rises still higher, when we reflect that
he was not bred a statesman; that he was sent from school to a
counting-house; and that he was employed during the prime of his manhood
as a commercial agent, far from all intellectual society.

Nor must we forget that all, or almost all, to whom, when placed at the
head of affairs, he could apply for assistance, were persons who owed
as little as himself, or less than himself, to education. A minister
in Europe finds himself, on the first day on which he commences his
functions, surrounded by experienced public servants, the depositaries
of official traditions. Hastings had no such help. His own reflection,
his own energy, were to supply the place of all Downing Street and
Somerset House. Having had no facilities for learning, he was forced to
teach. He had first to form himself, and then to form his instruments;
and this not in a single department, but in all the departments of the

It must be added that, while engaged in this most arduous task, he was
constantly trammelled by orders from home, and frequently borne down by
a majority in council. The preservation of an Empire from a formidable
combination of foreign enemies, the construction of a government in all
its parts, were accomplished by him, while every ship brought out
bales of censure from his employers, and while the records of every
consultation were filled with acrimonious minutes by his colleagues. We
believe that there never was a public man whose temper was so severely
tried; not Marlborough, when thwarted by the Dutch Deputies; {96}not
Wellington, when he had to deal at once with the Portuguese Regency, the
Spanish Juntas, and Mr. Percival. But the temper of Hastings was
equal to almost any trial. It was not sweet; but it was calm. Quick and
vigorous as his intellect was, the patience with which He endured
the most cruel vexations, till a remedy could be found, resembled the
patience of stupidity. He seems to have been capable of resentment,
bitter and long-enduring; yet his resentment so seldom hurried him into
any blunder, that it may be doubted whether what appeared to be revenge
was any thing but policy.

The effect of this singular equanimity was that he always had the full
command of all the resources of one of the most fertile minds that ever
existed. Accordingly no complication of perils and embarrassments could
perplex him. For every difficulty he had a contrivance ready; and,
whatever may be thought of the justice and humanity of some of his
contrivances, it is certain that they seldom failed to serve the purpose
for which they were designed.

Together with this extraordinary talent for devising expedients,
Hastings possessed, in a very high degree, another talent scarcely less
necessary to a man in his situation; we mean the talent for conducting
political controversy. It is as necessary to an English statesman in
the East that he should be able to write, as it is to a minister in this
country that he should be able to speak. It is chiefly by the oratory of
a public man here that the nation judges of his powers. It is from the
letters and reports of a public man in India that the dispensers of
patronage form their estimate of him. In each case, the talent which
receives peculiar encouragement is developed, perhaps at the expense of
the other powers. {97}In this country, we sometimes hear men speak above
their abilities. It is not very unusual to find gentlemen in the Indian
service who write above their abilities. The English politician is a
little too much of a debater; the Indian politician a little too much of
an essayist.

Of the numerous servants of the Company who have distinguished
themselves as framers of minutes and despatches, Hastings stands at the
head. He was indeed the person who gave to the official writing of the
Indian governments the character which it still retains. He was
matched against no common antagonist. But even Francis was forced
to acknowledge, with sullen and resentful candour, that there was
no contending against the pen of Hastings. And, in truth, the
Governor-General\x92s power of making out a case, of perplexing what it
was inconvenient that people should understand, and of setting in the
clearest point of view whatever would bear the light, was incomparable.
His style must be praised with some reservation. It was in general
forcible, pure, and polished; but it was sometimes, though not often,
turgid, and, on one or two occasions, even bombastic. Perhaps the
fondness of Hastings for Persian literature may have tended to corrupt
his taste.

And, since we have referred to his literary tastes, it would be most
unjust not to praise the judicious encouragement which, as a ruler,
he gave to liberal studies and curious researches. His patronage was
extended, with prudent generosity, to voyages, travels, experiments,
publications. He did little, it is true, towards introducing into India
the learning of the West. To make the young natives of Bengal familiar
with Milton and Adam Smith, to substitute the geography, {98}astronomy,
and surgery of Europe for the dotage of the Brahminical Superstition, or
for the imperfect science of ancient Greece transfused through Arabian
expositions, this was a scheme reserved to crown the beneficent
administration of a far more virtuous rider. Still it is impossible to
refuse high commendation to a man who, taken from a ledger to govern an
empire, overwhelmed by public business, surrounded by people as busy as
himself, and separated by thousands of leagues from almost all literary
society, gave, both by his example and by his munificence, a great
impulse to learning. In Persian and Arabic literature he was deeply
skilled. With the Sanscrit he was not himself acquainted; but those who
first brought that language to the knowledge of European students owed
much to his encouragement. It was under his protection that the Asiatic
Society commenced its honourable career. That distinguished body
selected him to be its first president; but, with excellent taste and
feeling, he declined the honour in favour of Sir William Jones. But the
chief advantage which the students of Oriental letters derived from
his patronage remains to be mentioned. The Pundits of Bengal had always
looked with great jealousy on the attempts of foreigners to pry
into those mysteries which were locked up in the sacred dialect. The
Brahminical religion had been persecuted by the Mahommedans. What the
Hindoos knew of the spirit of the Portuguese government might warrant
them in apprehending persecution from Christians. That apprehension,
the wisdom and moderation of Hastings removed. He was the first foreign
ruler who succeeded in gaining the confidence of the hereditary priests
of India, and who induced them to lay open to English scholars the
secrets of the old Brahminical theology and jurisprudence. {99}It is
indeed impossible to deny that, in the great art of inspiring large
masses of human beings with confidence and attachment, no ruler ever
surpassed Hastings. If he had made himself popular with the English by
giving up the Bengalees to extortion and oppression, or if, on the other
hand, he had conciliated the Bengalees and alienated the English, there
would have been no cause for wonder. What is peculiar to him is that,
being the chief of a small band of strangers, who exercised boundless
power over a great indigenous population, he made himself beloved both
by the subject many and by the dominant few. The affection felt for him
by the civil service was singularly ardent and constant. Through all his
disasters and perils, his brethren stood by him with steadfast loyalty.
The army, at the same time, loved him as armies have seldom loved
any but the greatest chiefs who have led them to victory. Even in his
disputes with distinguished military men, he could always count on the
support of the military profession. While such was his empire over the
hearts of his countrymen, he enjoyed among the natives a popularity,
such as other governors have perhaps better merited, but such as no
other governor has been able to attain, He spoke their vernacular
dialects with facility and precision. He was intimately acquainted with
their feelings and usages. On one or two occasions, for great ends, he
deliberately acted in defiance of their opinion; but on such occasions
he gained more in their respect than he lost in their love. In general,
he carefully avoided all that could shock their national or religious
prejudices. His administration was indeed in many respects faulty; but
the Bengalee standard of good government was not high. Under {100}the
Nabobs, the hurricane of Mahratta cavalry had passed annually over the
rich alluvial plain. But even the Mahratta shrank from a conflict with
the mighty children of the sea; and the immense rice harvests of the
Lower Ganges were safely withered in, under the protection of the
English sword. The first English conquerors had been more rapacious and
merciless even than the Mahrattas; but that generation had passed away.
Defective as was the police, heavy as were the public burdens, it is
probable that the oldest man in Bengal could not recollect a season of
equal security and prosperity. For the first time within living memory,
the province was placed under a government strong enough to prevent
others from robbing, and not inclined to play the robber itself. These
things inspired good-will. At the same time, the constant success
of Hastings and the manner in which he extricated himself from every
difficulty made him an object of superstitious admiration; and the more
than regal splendour which he sometimes displayed dazzled a people who
have much in common with children. Even now, alter the lapse of more
than fifty years, the natives of India still talk of him as the greatest
of the English: and nurses sing children to sleep with a jingling ballad
about the fleet horses and richly caparisoned elephants of Sahib Warren

The gravest offence of which Hastings was guilty did not affect his
popularity with the people of Bengal; for those offences were committed
against neighbouring states. Those offences, as our readers must have
perceived, we are not disposed to vindicate; yet, in order that the
censure may be justly apportioned to the transgression, it is fit that
the motive of the criminal should be taken into consideration. The
motive which {101}prompted the worst acts of Hastings was misdirected
and ill-regulated public spirit. The rules of justice, the sentiments of
humanity, the plighted faith of treaties, were in his view as nothing,
when opposed to the immediate interest of the state. This is no
justification, according to the principles either of morality, or of
what we believe to be identical with morality, namely, far-sighted
policy. Nevertheless the common sense of mankind, which in questions
of this sort seldom goes far wrong, will always recognize a distinction
between crimes which originate in an inordinate zeal for the
commonwealth, and crimes which originate in selfish cupidity. To the
benefit of this distinction Hastings is fairly entitled. There is, we
conceive, no reason to suspect that the Rohilla war, the revolution of
Benares, or the spoliation of the Princesses of Oude, added a rupee
to his fortune. We will not affirm that, in all pecuniary dealings, he
showed that punctilious integrity, that dread of the faintest appearance
of evil, which is now the glory of the Indian civil service. But when
the school in which he had been trained and the temptations to which he
was exposed are considered, we are more inclined to praise him for his
general uprightness with respect to money, than rigidly to blame him for
a few transactions which would now be called indelicate and irregular,
but which even now would hardly be designated as corrupt. A rapacious
man he certainly was not. Had he been so, he would infallibly have
returned to his country the richest subject in Europe. We speak within
compass, when we say that, without applying any extraordinary pressure
he might easily have obtained from the reminders of the Company\x92s
provinces and from neighbouring princes, in the course of thirteen
years, more than three millions {102}sterling, and might have outshone
the splendour of Carlton House and of the _Palais Royal_, He brought
home a fortune such as a Governor-General, fond of state, and careless
of thrift, might easily, during so long a tenure of office, save out of
his legal salary. Mrs. Hastings, we are afraid, was less scrupulous. It
was generally believed that she accepted presents with great alacrity,
and that she thus formed, without the connivance of her husband, a
private hoard amounting to several lacs of rupees. We are the more
inclined to give credit to this story, because Mr. Gleig, who cannot
but have heard it, does not, as far as we have observed, notice or
contradict it.

The influence of Mrs. Hastings over her husband was indeed such that she
might easily have obtained much larger sums than she was ever accused
of receiving. At length her health began to give way; and the
Governor-General, much against his mill, was compelled to send her to
England. He seems to have loved her with that love which is peculiar to
men of strong minds, to men whose affection is not easily won or widely
diffused. The talk of Calcutta ran for some time on the luxurious
manner in which he fitted up the round-house of an Indiaman for her
accommodation, on the profusion of sandal-wood and carved ivory which
adorned her cabin, and on the thousands of rupees which had been
expended in order to procure for her the society of an agreeable female
companion during the voyage. We may remark here that the letters of
Hastings to his wife are exceedingly characteristic. They are tender,
and full of indications of esteem and confidence; but, at the same time,
a little more ceremonious than is usual in so intimate a relation.
The solemn courtesy with which he compliments \x93his elegant Marian\x94
 {103}reminds us now and then of the dignified air with which Sir Charles
Grandison bowed over Miss Byron\x92s hand in the cedar parlour.

After some months, Hastings prepared to follow his wife to England. When
it was announced that he was about to quit his office, the feeling of
the society which he had so long governed manifested itself by many
signs. Addresses poured in from Europeans and Asiatics, from civil
functionaries, soldiers and traders. On the day on which he delivered up
the keys of office, a crowd of friends and admirers formed a lane to the
quay where He embarked. Several barges escorted him far down the river;
and some attached friends refused to quit him till the low coast of
Bengal was fading from the view, and till the pilot was leaving the

Of his voyage little is known except that he amused himself with books
and with his pen; and that, among the compositions by which he beguiled
the tediousness of that long leisure, was a pleasing imitation of
Horace\x92s _Otiam Divos rogat_. This little poem was inscribed to Mr.
Shore, afterwards Lord Teignmouth, a man of whose integrity, humanity,
and honour, it is impossible to speak too highly, but who, like some
other excellent members of the civil service, extended to the conduct of
his friend Hastings an indulgence of which his own conduct never stood
in need.

The voyage was, for those times, very speedy. Hastings was little more
than four months on the sea. In June, 1785, he landed at Plymouth,
posted to London, appeared at Court, paid his respects in Leadenhall
Street, and then retired with his wife to Cheltenham.

He was greatly pleased with his reception. The King treated him with
marked distinction. The Queen, who had already incurred much censure on
account {104}of the favour which, in spite of the ordinary severity of
her virtue, she had shown to the \x93elegant Marian,\x94 was not less gracious
to Hastings. The Directors received him in a solemn sitting; and their
chairman read to him a vote of thanks which they had passed without one
dissentient voice. \x93I find myself,\x94 said Hastings, in a letter written
about a quarter of a year after his arrival in England, \x93I find myself
everywhere, and universally, treated with evidences, apparent even to my
own observation, that I possess the good opinion of my country.\x94

The confident and exulting tone of his correspondence about this time is
the more remarkable, because he had already received ample notice of
the attack which was in preparation. Within a week after he landed
at Plymouth, Burke gave notice in the House of Commons of a motion
seriously affecting a gentleman lately returned from India. The session,
however, was then so far advanced, that it was impossible to enter on so
extensive and important a subject.

Hastings, it is clear, was not sensible of the danger of his position.
Indeed that sagacity, that judgment, that readiness in devising
expedients, which had distinguished him in the East, seemed now to have
forsaken him; not that his abilities were at all impaired; not that he
was not still the same man who had triumphed over Francis and Nuncomar,
who had made the Chief Justice and the Nabob Vizier his tools, who had
deposed Cheyte Sing, and repelled Hyder Ali. But an oak, as Mr. Grattan
finely said, should not be transplanted at fifty. A man who, having left
England when a boy, returns to it after thirty or forty years passed in
India, will find, be his talents what they may, that he has much both
to learn and to unlearn before {105}he can take a place among English
statesmen. The working of a representative system, the war of parties,
the arts of debate, the influence of the press, are startling novelties
to him. Surrounded on every side by new machines and new tactics, he
is as much bewildered as Hannibal would have been at Waterloo, or
Themistocles at Trafalgar. His very acuteness deludes him. His very
vigour causes him to stumble. The more correct his maxims, when applied
to the state of society to which he is accustomed, the more certain they
are to lead him astray. This was strikingly the case with Hastings. In
India he had a bad band; but he was master of the game, and he won every
stake. In England he held excellent cards, if he had known how to play
them; and it was chiefly by his own errors that he was brought to the
verge of ruin.

Of all his errors the most serious was perhaps the choice of a champion.
Clive, in similar circumstances, had made a singularly happy
selection. He put himself into the bands of Wedderburn, afterwards Lord
Loughborough, one of the few great advocates who have also been great
in the House of Commons. To the defence of Clive, therefore, nothing was
wanting, neither learning nor knowledge of the world, neither forensic
acuteness nor that eloquence which charms political assemblies. Hastings
intrusted his interests to a very different person, a major in the
Bengal army, named Scott. This gentleman had been sent over from India
some time before as the agent of the Governor-General. It was rumoured
that his services were rewarded with Oriental munificence; and we
believe that He received much more than Hastings could conveniently
spare. The Major obtained a seat in Parliament, and was there regarded
as the organ of {106}his employer. It was evidently impossible that a
gentleman so situated could speak with the authority which belongs to
an independent position. Nor had the agent of Hastings the talents
necessary for obtaining the ear of an assembly which, accustomed to
listen to great orators, had naturally become fastidious. He was always
on his legs; he was very tedious; and he had only one topic, the merits
and wrongs of Hastings. Everybody who knows the House of Commons
will easily guess what followed. The Major was soon considered as
the greatest bore of his time. His exertions were not confined to
Parliament. There was hardly a day on which the newspapers did not
contain some puff upon Hastings, signed _Asiaticus_ or _Bengalensis_,
but known to be written by the indefatigable Scott; and hardly a month
in which some bulky pamphlet on the same subject, and from the same
pen, did not pass to the trunkmakers and the pastrycooks. As to
this gentleman\x92s capacity for conducting a delicate question through
Parliament, our readers will want no evidence beyond that which they
will find in letters preserved in these volumes. We will give a single
specimen of his temper and judgment. He designated the greatest man then
living as \x93that reptile Mr. Burke.\x94

In spite, however, of this unfortunate choice, the general aspect
of affairs was favourable to Hastings. The King was on his side. The
Company and its servants were zealous in his cause. Among public men he
had many ardent friends. Such were Lord Mansfield, who had outlived the
vigour of his body, but not that of his mind; and Lord Lansdowne, who,
though unconnected with any party, retained the importance which belongs
to great talents and knowledge. {107}The ministers were generally
believed to be favourable to the late Governor-General. They owed their
power to the clamour which had been raised against Mr. Fox\x92s East India
Bill. The authors of that bill, when accused of invading vested rights,
and of setting up powers unknown to the constitution, had defended
themselves by pointing to the crimes of Hastings, and by arguing that
abuses so extraordinary justified extraordinary measures. Those who, by
opposing that bill, had raised themselves to the head of affairs, would
naturally be inclined to extenuate the evils which had been made the
plea for administering so violent a remedy; and such, in fact, was their
general disposition. The Lord Chancellor Thurlow, in particular, whose
great place and force of intellect gave him a weight in the government
inferior only to that of Mr. Pitt, espoused the cause of Hastings with
indecorous violence. Mr. Pitt, though he had censured many parts of the
Indian system, had studiously abstained from saying a word against the
late chief of the Indian government. To Major Scott, indeed, the young
minister had in private extolled Hastings as a great, a wonderful
man, who had the highest claims on the government. There was only one
objection to granting all that so eminent a servant of the public could
ask. The resolution of censure still remained on the journals of the
House of Commons. That resolution was, indeed, unjust; but, till it
was rescinded, could the minister advise the King to bestow any mark of
approbation on the person censured? If Major Scott is to be trusted, Mr.
Pitt declared that this was the only reason which prevented the advisers
of the Crown from conferring a peerage on the late Governor-General. Mr.
Dundas was the only important member of {108}the administration who was
deeply committed to a different view of the subject. He had moved the
resolution which created the difficulty; but even from him little was
to be apprehended. Since he had presided over the committee on Eastern
affairs, great changes had taken place. He was surrounded by new allies;
he had fixed his hopes on new objects; and whatever may have been his
good qualities,--and he had many,--flattery itself never reckoned rigid
consistency in the number.

From the Ministry, therefore, Hastings had every reason to expect
support; and the Ministry was very powerful. The Opposition was loud
and vehement against him. But the Opposition, though formidable from
the wealth and influence of some of its members, and from the admirable
talents and eloquence of others, was outnumbered in parliament, and
odious throughout the country. Nor, as far as we can judge, was the
Opposition generally desirous to engage in so serious an undertaking as
the impeachment of an Indian Governor. Such an impeachment must last
for years. It must impose on the chiefs of the party an immense load of
labour. Yet it could scarcely, in any manner, affect the event of the
great political game. The followers of the coalition were therefore
more inclined to revile Hastings than to prosecute him. They lost no
opportunity of coupling his name with the names of the most hateful
tyrants of whom history makes mention. The wits of Brooks\x92s aimed their
keenest sarcasms both at his public and at his domestic life. Some
fine diamonds which he had presented, as it was rumoured, to the royal
family, and a certain richly carved ivory bed which the Queen had done
him the honour to accept from him, were favourite {109}subjects of
ridicule. One lively poet proposed, that the great acts of the fair
Marian\x92s present husband should be immortalized by the pencil of his
predecessor; and that Imhoff should be employed to embellish the
House of Commons with paintings of the bleeding Rohillas, of Nuncomar
swinging, of Cheyte Sing letting himself down to the Ganges. Another, in
an exquisitely humorous parody of Virgil\x92s third eclogue, propounded the
question, what that mineral could be of which the rays had power to
make the most austere of princesses the friend of a wanton. A third
described, with gay malevolence, the gorgeous appearance of Mrs.
Hastings at St. James\x92s, the galaxy of jewels, torn from Indian Begums,
which adorned her head dress, her necklace gleaming with future votes,
and the depending questions that shone upon her ears. Satirical attacks
of this description, and perhaps a motion for a vote of censure, would
have satisfied the great body of the Opposition. But there were two men
whose indignation was not to be so appeased, Philip Francis and Edmund

Francis had recently entered the House of Commons, and had already
established a character there for industry and ability. He laboured
indeed under one most unfortunate defect, want of fluency. But he
occasionally expressed himself with a dignity and energy worthy of
the greatest orators. Before he had been many days in parliament, he
incurred the bitter dislike of Pitt, who constantly treated him with as
much asperity as the laws of debate would allow. Neither lapse of years
nor change of scene had mitigated the enmities which Francis had brought
back from the East. After his usual fashion, he mistook his malevolence
for virtue, nursed it, as preachers tell us that we {110}ought to
nurse our good dispositions, and paraded it, on all occasions, with
Pharisaical ostentation.

The zeal of Burke was still fiercer; but it was far purer. Men unable
to understand the elevation of his mind have tried to find out some
discreditable motive for the vehemence and pertinacity which he showed
on this occasion. But they have altogether failed. The idle story that
he had some private slight to revenge has long been given up, even by
the advocates of Hastings. Mr. Gleig supposes that Burke was actuated by
party spirit, that he retained a bitter remembrance of the fall of the
coalition, that he attributed that fall to the exertions of the East
India interest, and that he considered Hastings as the head and
the representative of that interest. This explanation seems to be
sufficiently refuted by a reference to dates. The hostility of Burke
to Hastings commenced long before the coalition; and lasted long after
Burke had become a strenuous supporter of those by whom the coalition
had been defeated. It began when Burke and Fox, closely allied together,
were attacking the influence of the crown, and calling for peace with
the American republic. It continued till Burke, alienated from Fox, and
loaded with the favours of the crown, died, preaching a crusade against
the French republic. We surely cannot attribute to the events of 1784 an
enmity which began in 1781, and which retained undiminished force long
after persons far more deeply implicated than Hastings in the events of
1784 had been cordially forgiven. And why should we look for any other
explanation of Burke\x92s conduct than that which we find on the surface?
The plain truth is that Hastings had committed some great crimes, and
that the thought of those crimes made the blood of Burke boil in his
veins. For Burke was a man {111}in whom compassion for suffering, and
hatred of injustice and tyranny, were as strong as in Las Casas or
Clarkson. And although in him, as in Las Casas and in Clarkson, these
noble feelings were alloyed with the infirmity which belongs to human
nature, he is, like them, entitled to this great praise, that he devoted
years of intense labour to the service of a people with whom he had
neither blood nor language neither religion nor manners in common, and
from whom no requital, no thanks, no applause could be expected.

His knowledge of India was such as few, even of those Europeans who have
passed many years in that country, have attained, and such as certainly
was never attained by any public man who had not quitted Europe. He
had studied the history, the laws, and the usages of the East with an
industry, such as is seldom found united to so much genius and so
much sensibility. Others have perhaps been equally laborious, and have
collected an equal mass of materials. But the manner in which Burke
brought his higher powers of intellect to work on statements of facts,
and on tables of figures, was peculiar to himself. In every part of
those huge bales of Indian information which repelled almost all other
readers, his mind, at once philosophical and poetical, found something
to instruct or to delight. His reason analysed and digested those vast
and shapeless masses: his imagination animated and coloured them. Out of
darkness and dulness, and confusion, he formed a multitude of ingenious
theories and vivid pictures. He had, in the highest degree, that noble
faculty whereby man is able to live in the past and in the future, in
the distant and in the unreal. India and its inhabitants were not to
him, as to most Englishmen, mere names and abstractions, but a real
country and a real people. {112}The burning sun, the strange vegetation
of the palm and the cocoa tree, the ricefield, the tank, the huge trees,
older than the Mogul empire, under which the village crowds assemble,
the thatched roof of the peasant\x92s but, the rich tracery of the mosque
where the imaum prays with his face to Mecca, the drums, and banners,
and gaudy idols, the devotee swinging in the air, the graceful maiden
with the pitcher on her head, descending the steps to the river-side,
the black faces, the long beards, the yellow streaks of sect, the
turbans and the flowing robes, the spears and the silver maces, the
elephants with their canopies of state, the gorgeous palanquin of the
prince, and the close litter of the noble lady, all these things were
to him as the objects amidst which his own life had been passed, as
the objects which lay on the road between Beaconsfield and St. James\x92s
Street. All India was present to the eye of his mind, from the halls
where suitors laid gold and perfumes at the feet of sovereigns to the
wild moor where the gipsy camp was pitched, from the bazar, humming like
a bee-hive with the crowd of buyers and sellers, to the jungle where the
lonely courier shakes his bunch of iron rings to scare away the hy\xE6nas.
He had just as lively an idea of the insurrection at Benares as of
Lord George Gordon\x92s riots, and of the execution of Nuncomar as of the
execution of Dr. Dodd. Oppression in Bengal was to him the same thing as
oppression in the streets of London.

He saw that Hastings had been guilty of some most unjustifiable acts.
All that followed was natural and necessary in a mind like Burke\x92s.
His imagination and his passions, once excited, hurried him beyond the
bounds of justice and good sense. His reason, powerful as it was,
became the slave of feelings which it should {113}have controlled. His
indignation, virtuous in its origin, acquired too much of the character
of personal aversion. He could see no mitigating circumstance, no
redeeming merit. His temper, which, though generous and affectionate,
had always been irritable, had now been made almost savage by bodily
infirmities and mental vexations. Conscious of great powers and great
virtues, he found himself, in age and poverty, a mark for the hatred of
a perfidious court and a deluded people. In Parliament his eloquence
was out of date. A young generation, which knew him not, had filled the
House. Whenever he rose to speak, his voice was drowned by the unseemly
interruption of lads who were in their cradles when his orations on the
Stamp Act called forth the applause of the great Earl of Chatham. These
things had produced on his proud and sensitive spirit an effect at which
we cannot wonder. He could no longer discuss any question with calmness,
or make allowance for honest differences of opinion. Those who think
that he was more violent and acrimonious in debates about India than on
other occasions are ill informed respecting the last years of his
life. In the discussions on the Commercial Treaty with the Court of
Versailles, on the Regency, on the French Revolution, he showed even
more virulence than in conducting the impeachment. Indeed it may be
remarked that the very persons who called him a mischievous maniac, for
condemning in burning words the Rohilla war and the spoliation of the
Begums, exalted him into a prophet as soon as he began to declaim, with
greater vehemence, and not with greater reason, against the taking
of the Bastile and the insults offered to Marie Antoinette. To us he
appears to have been neither a maniac in the former case, nor a prophet
in the latter, but {114}in both cases a great and good man, led into
extravagance by a sensibility which domineered over all his faculties.

It may be doubted whether the personal antipathy of Francis, or the
nobler indignation of Burke, would have led their party to adopt extreme
measures against Hastings, if his own conduct had been judicious. He
should have felt that, great as his public services had been, he was
not faultless, and should have been content to make his escape, without
aspiring to the honours of a triumph. He and his agent took a different
view. They were impatient for the rewards which, as they conceived,
were deferred only till Burke\x92s attack should be over. They accordingly
resolved to force on a decisive action with an enemy for whom, if they
had been wise, they would have made a bridge of gold. On the first day
of the session of 1780, Major Scott reminded Burke of the notice given
in the preceding year, and asked whether it was seriously intended to
bring any charge against the late Governor-General. This challenge left
no course open to the Opposition, except to come forward as accusers or
to acknowledge themselves calumniators. The administration of Hastings
had not been so blameless, nor was the great party of Fox and North so
feeble, that it could be prudent to venture on so bold a defiance. The
leaders of the Opposition instantly returned the only answer which they
could with honour return; and the whole party was irrevocably pledged to
a prosecution.

Burke began his operations by applying for Papers. Some of the documents
for which he asked were refused by the ministers, who, in the debate,
held language such as strongly confirmed the prevailing opinion, that
they intended to support Hastings. In April, the {115}charges were laid
on the table. They had been drawn by Burke with great ability, though
in a form too much resembling that of a pamphlet. Hastings was furnished
with a copy of the accusation; and it was intimated to him that he
might, if he thought fit, be heard in his own defence at the bar of the

Here again Hastings was pursued by the same fatality which had attended
him ever since the day when he set foot on English ground. It seemed
to be decreed that this man, so politic and so successful in the East,
should commit nothing but blunders in Europe. Any judicious adviser
would have told him that the best thing which he could do would be to
make an eloquent, forcible, and affecting oration at the bar of the
House; but that, if he could not trust himself to speak, and found it
necessary to read, he ought to be as concise as possible. Audiences
accustomed to extemporaneous debating of the highest excellence are
always impatient of long written compositions. Hastings, however,
sat down as he would have done at the Government-house in Bengal, and
prepared a paper of immense length. That paper, if recorded on the
consultations of an Indian administration, would have been justly
praised as a very able minute. But it was now out of place. It fell
flat, as the best written defence must have fallen flat, on an assembly
accustomed to the animated and strenuous conflicts of Pitt and Fox. The
members, as soon as their curiosity about the face and demeanour of
so eminent a stranger was satis-tied, walked away to dinner, and
left Hastings to tell his story till midnight to the clerks and the

All preliminary steps having been duly taken, Burke, in the beginning
of June, brought forward the charge {116}relating to the Rohilla war. He
acted discreetly in placing this accusation in the van; for Dundas had
formerly moved, and the House had adopted, a resolution condemning, in
the most severe terms, the policy followed by Hastings with regard to
Rohileund. Dun-das had little, or rather nothing, to say in defence of
his own consistency; but he put a bold face on the matter, and opposed
the motion. Among other things, he declared that, though he still
thought the Rohilla war unjustifiable, he considered the services which
Hastings had subsequently rendered to the state as sufficient to atone
even for so great an offence. Pitt did not speak, but voted with Dundas;
and Hastings was absolved by a hundred and nineteen votes against

Hastings was now confident of victory. It seemed, indeed, that he had
reason to be so. The Rohilla war was, of all his measures, that which
his accusers might with greatest advantage assail. It had been condemned
by the Court of Directors. It had been condemned by the House of
Commons. It had been condemned by Mr. Dundas, who had since become the
chief minister of the Crown for Indian affairs. Yet Burke, having chosen
this strong ground, had been completely defeated on it. That, having
failed here, he should succeed on any point, was generally thought
impossible. It was rumoured at the clubs and coffee-houses that one or
perhaps two more charges would be brought forward, that if, on
those charges, the sense of the House of Commons should be against
impeachment, the Opposition would let the matter drop, that Hastings
would be immediately raised to the peerage, decorated with the star of
the Bath, sworn of the privy council, and invited to lend the assistance
of his talents and experience {117}to the India board. Lord Thurlow,
indeed, some months before, had spoken with contempt of the scruples
which prevented Pitt from calling Hastings to the House of Lords; and
had even said that, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer was afraid of the
Commons, there was nothing to prevent the Keeper of the Great Seal from
taking the royal pleasure about a patent of peerage. The very title was
chosen. Hastings was to be Lord Daylesford. For, through all changes of
scene and changes of fortune, remained unchanged his attachment to the
spot which had witnessed the greatness and the fall of his family,
and which had borne so great a part in the first dreams of his young

But in a very few days these fair prospects were overcast. On the
thirteenth of June, Mr. Fox brought forward, with great ability and
eloquence, the charge respecting the treatment of Cheyte Sing. Francis
followed on the same side. The friends of Hastings were in high spirits
when Pitt rose. With his usual abundance and felicity of language,
the Minister gave his opinion on the case. He maintained that the
Governor-General was justified in calling on the Rajah of Benares for
pecuniary assistance, and in imposing a fine when that assistance
was contumaciously withheld. He also thought that the conduct of the
Governor-General during the insurrection had been distinguished by
ability and presence of mind. He censured, with great bitterness, the
conduct of Francis, both in India and in Parliament, as most dishonest
and malignant. The necessary inference from Pitt\x92s arguments seemed to
be that Hastings ought to be honourably acquitted; and both the friends
and the opponents of the Minister expected from him a declaration to
that effect. To the astonishment of all parties, he concluded by saying
{118}that, though he thought it right in Hastings to fine Cheyte
Sing for contumacy, yet the amount of the fine was too great for the
occasion. On this ground, and on this ground alone, did Mr. Pitt,
applauding every other part of the conduct of Hastings with regard to
Benares, declare that he should vote in favour of Mr. Fox\x92s motion.

The House was thunderstruck; and it well might be so. For the wrong
done to Cheyte Sing, even had it been as flagitious as Fox and Francis
contended, was a trifle when compared with the horrors which had been
inflicted on Rohileund. But if Mr. Pitt\x92s view of the case of Cheyte
Sing were correct, there was no ground for an impeachment, or even for
a vote of censure. If the offence of Hastings was really no more than
this, that, having a right to impose a mulct, the amount of which mulct
was not defined, but was left to be settled by his discretion, he had,
not for his own advantage, but for that of the state, demanded too much,
was this an offence which required a criminal proceeding of the highest
solemnity, a criminal proceeding, to which, during sixty years, no
public functionary had been subjected? We can see, we think, in what way
a man of sense and integrity might have been induced to take any course
respecting Hastings, except the course which Mr. Pitt took. Such a man
might have thought a great example necessary, for the preventing of
injustice, and for the vindicating of the national honour, and might, on
that ground, have voted for impeachment both on the Rohilla charge, and
on the Benares charge. Such a man might have thought that the offences
of Hastings had been atoned for by great services, and might, on that
ground, have voted against the impeachment on both charges. With great
{119}diffidence we give it as our opinion that the most correct course
would, on the whole, have been to impeach on the Rohilla charge, and to
acquit on the Benares charge. Had the Benares charge appeared to us
in the same light in which it appeared to Mr. Pitt, we should, without
hesitation, have voted for acquittal on that charge. The one course
which it is inconceivable that any man of a tenth part of Mr. Pitt\x92s
abilities can have honestly taken was the course which he took. He
acquitted Hastings on the Rohilla charge. He softened down the Benares
charge till it became no charge at all; and then he pronounced that it
contained matter for impeachment.

Nor must it be forgotten that the principal reason assigned by the
ministry for not impeaching Hastings on account of the Rohilla war was
this, that the delinquencies of the early part of his administration
had been atoned for by the excellence of the later part. Was it not most
extraordinary that men who had held this language could afterwards vote
that the later part of his administration furnished matter for no less
than twenty articles of impeachment? They first represented the conduct
of Hastings in 1780 and 1781 as so highly meritorious that, like works
of supererogation in the Catholic theology, it ought to be efficacious
for the cancelling of former offences; and they then prosecuted him for
his conduct in 1780 and 1781.

The general astonishment was the greater, because, only twenty-four
hours before, the members on whom the minister could depend had received
the usual notes from the Treasury, begging them to be in their places
and to vote against Mr. Fox\x92s motion. It was asserted by Mr. Hastings,
that, early in the morning of the very day on which the debate took
place, Dundas called on {120}Pitt, woke him, and was closeted with him
many hours. The result of this conference was a determination to give
up the late Governor-General to the vengeance of the Opposition. It was
impossible even for the most powerful minister to cany all his followers
with him in so strange a course. Several persons high in office, the
Attorney-General, Mr. Grenville, and Lord Mulgrave, divided against Mr.
Pitt. But the devoted adherents who stood by the head of the government
without asking questions were sufficiently numerous to turn the scale.
A hundred and nineteen members voted for Mr. Fox\x92s motion; seventy nine
against it. Dundas silently followed Pitt.

That good and great man, the late William Wilberforce, often related
the events of this remarkable night. He described the amazement of the
House, and the bitter reflections which were muttered against the Prime
Minister by some of the habitual supporters of government. Pitt himself
appeared to feel that his conduct required some explanation. He left
the treasury bench, sat for some time next to Mr. Wilberforce, and
very earnestly declared that he had found it impossible, as a man of
conscience, to stand any longer by Hastings. The business, he said, was
too bad. Mr. Wilberforce, we are bound to add, fully believed that his
friend was sincere, and that the suspicions to which this mysterious
affair gave rise were altogether unfounded.

Those suspicions, indeed, were such as it is painful to mention. The
friends of Hastings, most of whom, it is to be observed, generally
supported the administration, affirmed that the motive of Pitt and
Dundas was jealousy. Hastings was personally a favourite with the King.
He was the idol of the East India {121}Company and of its servants. If
he were absolved by the Commons, seated among the Lords, admitted to the
Board of Control, closely allied with the strong-minded and imperious
Thurlow, was it not almost certain that he would soon draw to himself
the entire management of Eastern affairs? Was it not possible that he
might become a formidable rival in the cabinet? It had probably got
abroad that very singular communications had taken place between Thurlow
and Major Scott, and that, if the First Lord of the Treasury was afraid
to recommend Hastings for a peerage, the Chancellor was ready to take
the responsibility of that step on himself. Of all ministers, Pitt was
the least likely to submit with patience to such an encroachment on his
functions. If the Commons impeached Hastings, all danger was at an end.
The proceeding, however it might terminate, would probably last some
years. In the mean time, the accused person would be excluded from
honours and public employments, and could scarcely venture even to pay
his duty at court. Such were the motives attributed by a great part of
the public to the young minister, whose ruling passion was generally
believed to be avarice of power.

The prorogation soon interrupted the discussions respecting Hastings. In
the following year, those discussions were resumed. The charge touching
the spoliation of the Begums was brought forward by Sheridan, in a
speech which was so imperfectly reported that it may be said to
be wholly lost, but which was, without doubt, the most elaborately
brilliant of all the productions of his ingenious mind. The impression
which it produced was such as has never been equalled. He sat down, not
merely amidst cheering, but amidst the loud clapping of hands, in which
the {122}Lords below the bar and the strangers in the gallery joined.
The excitement of the House was such that no other speaker could obtain
a hearing; and the debate was adjourned. The ferment spread fast through
the town. Within four and twenty hours, Sheridan was offered a thousand
pounds for the copyright of the speech, if he would himself correct
it for the press. The impression made by this remarkable display of
eloquence on severe and experienced critics, whose discernment may be
supposed to have been quickened by emulation, was deep and permanent.
Mr. Windham, twenty years later, said that the speech deserved all its
fame, and was, in spite of some faults of taste, such as were seldom
wanting either in the literary or in the parliamentary performances of
Sheridan, the finest that had been delivered within the memory of man.
Mr. Fox, about the same time, being asked by the late Lord Holland what
was the best speech ever made in the Home of Commons, assigned the first
place, without hesitation, to the great oration of Sheridan on the Oude

When the debate was resumed, the tide ran so strongly against the
accused that his friends were coughed and scraped down. Pitt declared
himself for Sheridan\x92s motion; and the question was carried by a hundred
and seventy-five votes against sixty-eight.

The Opposition, flushed with victory and strongly supported by the
public sympathy, proceeded to bring forward a succession of charges
relating chiefly to pecuniary transactions. The friends of Hastings
were discouraged, and, having now no hope of being able to avert an
impeachment, were not very strenuous in their exertions. At length the
House, having agreed to twenty articles of charge, directed Burke to go
{123}before the Lords, and to impeach the late Governor-General of High
Crimes and Misdemeanours. Hastings was at the same time arrested by the
Serjeant-at-arms and carried to the bar of the Peers.

The session was now within ten days of its close. It was, therefore,
impossible that any progress could be made in the trial till the next
year. Hastings was admitted to bail; and further proceedings were
postponed till the Houses should re-assemble.

When Parliament met in the following winter, the Commons proceeded to
elect a committee for managing the impeachment. Burke stood at the
head; and with him were associated most of the leading members of the
Opposition. But when the name of Francis was read a fierce contention
arose. It was said that Francis and Hastings were notoriously on
bad terms, that they had been at feud during many years, that on one
occasion their mutual aversion had impelled them to seek each other\x92s
lives, and that it would be improper and indelicate to select a private
enemy to be a public accuser. It was urged on the other side with great
force, particularly by Mr. Windham, that impartiality, though the first
duty of a judge, had never been reckoned among the qualities of an
advocate; that in the ordinary administration of criminal justice among
the English, the aggrieved party, the very last person who ought to be
admitted into the jury-box, is the prosecutor; that what was wanted in a
manager was, not that he should be free from bias, but that he should be
able, well informed, energetic, and active. The ability and information
of Francis were admitted; and the very animosity with which he was
reproached, whether a virtue or a vice, was at least a pledge for his
energy and activity. It seems difficult to refute these arguments.
{124}But the inveterate hatred borne by Francis to Hastings had excited
general disgust. The House decided that Francis should not be a manager.
Pitt voted with the majority, Dundas with the minority.

In the mean time, the preparations for the trial had proceeded rapidly;
and on the thirteenth of February, 1788, the sittings of the Court
commenced. There have been spectacles more dazzling to the eye, more
gorgeous with jewellery and cloth of gold, more attractive to grown-up
children, than that which was then exhibited at Westminster; but,
perhaps, there never was a spectacle so well calculated to strike a
highly cultivated, a reflecting, an imaginative mind. All the various
kinds of interest which belong to the near and to the distant, to the
present and to the past, were collected on one spot and in one hour. All
the talents and all the accomplishments which are developed by liberty
and civilisation were now displayed, with every advantage that could
be derived both from co-operation and from contrast. Every step in the
proceedings carried the mind either backward, through many troubled
centuries, to the days when the foundations of our constitution were
laid; or far away, over boundless seas and deserts, to dusky nations
living under strange stars, worshipping strange gods, and writing
strange characters from right to left. The High Court of Parliament
was to sit, according to forms handed down from the days of the
Plantagenets, on an Englishman accused of exercising tyranny over the
lord of the holy city of Benares, and over the ladies of the princely
house of Oude.

The place was worthy of such a trial. It was the great hall of
William Rufus, the hall which had resounded with acclamations at the
inauguration of thirty {125}kings, the hall which had witnessed the just
sentence of Bacon and the just absolution of Somers, the hall where the
eloquence of Strafford had for a moment awed and melted a victorious
party inflamed with just resentment, the hall where Charles had
confronted the High Court of Justice with the placid courage which has
half redeemed his fame. Neither military nor civil pomp was wanting.
The avenues were lined with grenadiers. The streets were kept clear by
cavalry. The peers, robed in gold and ermine, were marshalled by the
heralds under Garter King-at-arms. The judges in their vestments of
state attended to give advice on points of law. Near a hundred and
seventy lords, three fourths of the Upper House as the Upper House then
was, walked in solemn order from their usual place of assembling to
the tribunal. The junior Baron present led the way, George Eliott, Lord
Heathfield, recently ennobled for his memorable defence of Gibraltar
against the fleets and armies of France and Spain. The long procession
was closed by the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of the realm, by the
great dignitaries, and by the brothers and sons of the King. Last of
all came the Prince of Wales, conspicuous by his fine person and noble
bearing. The grey old walls were hung with scarlet. The long galleries
were crowded by an audience such as has rarely excited the fears or the
emulations of an orator. There were gathered together, from all parts
of a great, free, enlightened, and prosperous empire, grace and female
loveliness, wit and learning, the representatives of every science and
of every art. There were seated round the Queen the fairhaired young
daughters of the House of Brunswick. There the Ambassadors of great
Kings and Commonwealths gazed with admiration on a spectacle which no
{126}other country in the world could present. There Siddons, in the
prime of her majestic beauty, looked with emotion on a scene surpassing
all the imitations of the stage. There the historian of the Roman Empire
thought of the days when Cicero pleaded the cause of Sicily against
Verres, and when, before a senate which still ret ained some show of
freedom, Tacitus thundered against the oppressor of Africa. There were
seen side by side the greatest painter and the greatest scholar of
the age. The spectacle had allured Reynolds from that easel which
has preserved to us the thoughtful foreheads of so many writers and
statesmen, and the sweet smiles of so many noble matrons. It had induced
Parr to suspend his labours in that dark and profound mine from which he
had extracted a vast treasure of erudition, a treasure too often
bulled in the earth, too often paraded with injudicious and inelegant
ostentation, but still precious, massive, and splendid. There appeared
the voluptuous charms of her to whom the heir of the throne had in
secret plighted his faith. There too was she, the beautiful mother of a
beautiful race, the Saint Cecilia, whose delicate features, lighted up
by love and music, art has rescued from the common decay. There wore
the members of that brilliant society which quoted, criticized, and
exchanged repartees, under\x92 the rich peacock-hangings of Mrs. Montague.
And there the ladies whose lips, more persuasive than those of Fox
himself, had carried the Westminster election against palace and
treasury, shone around Georgi-ana Duchess of Devonshire.

The Serjeants made proclamation. Hastings advanced to the bar, and bent
his knee. The culprit was indeed not unworthy of that great presence.
He had ruled an extensive and populous country, had {127}made laws and
treaties, had sent forth armies, had set up and pulled down princes. And
in his high place he had so borne himself, that all had feared him, that
most had loved him, and that hatred itself could deny him no title to
glory, except virtue. He looked like a great man, and not like a bad
man. A person small and emaciated, yet deriving dignity from a carriage
which, while it indicated deference to the court, indicated also
habitual self-possession and self-respect, a high and intellectual
forehead, a brow pensive, but not gloomy, a mouth of inflexible
decision, a face pale and worn, but serene, on which was written, as
legibly as under the picture in the council-chamber at Calcutta, _Mens
aequa in arduis_; such was the aspect with which the great Proconsul
presented himself to his judges.

His counsel accompanied him, men all of whom were afterwards raised by
their talents and learning to the highest posts in their profession,
the bold and strong-minded Law, afterwards Chief Justice of the King\x92s
Bench; the more humane and eloquent Dallas, afterwards Chief Justice of
the Common Pleas; and Plomer who, near twenty years later, successfully
conducted in the same high court the defence of Lord Melville, and
subsequently became Vice-chancellor and Master of the Rolls.

But neither the culprit nor his advocates attracted so much notice as
the accusers. In the midst of the blaze of red drapery, a space had been
fitted up with green benches and tables for the Commons. The managers,
with Burke at their head, appeared in full dress. The collectors of
gossip did not fail to remark that even Fox, generally so regardless
of his appearance, had paid to the illustrious tribunal the compliment
{128}of wearing a bag and sword. Pitt had refused to be one of the
conductors of the impeachment; and his commanding, copious, and sonorous
eloquence was wanting to that great muster of various talents. Age and
blindness had unfitted Lord North for the duties of a public prosecutor;
and his friends were left without the help of his excellent sense,
his tact, and his urbanity. But, in spite of the absence of these two
distinguished members of the Lower House, the box in which the managers
stood contained an array of speakers such as perhaps had not appeared
together since the great age of Athenian eloquence. There were Fox and
Sheridan, the English Demosthenes and the English Hyperides. There
was Burke, ignorant, indeed, or negligent of the art of adapting his
reasonings and his style to the capacity and taste of his hearers, but
in amplitude of comprehension and richness of imagination superior to
every orator, ancient or modern. There, with eyes reverentially fixed on
Burke, appeared the finest gentleman of the age, his form developed by
every manly exercise, his face beaming with intelligence and spirit,
the ingenious, the chivalrous, the high-souled Windham. Nor, though
surrounded by such men, did the youngest manager pass unnoticed. At
an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still
contending for prizes and fellowships at college, He had won for himself
a conspicuous place in parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection
was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and
his unblemished honour. At twenty-three he had been thought worthy to be
ranked with the veteran statesmen who appeared as the delegates of the
British Commons, at the bar of the British nobility. {129}All who stood
at that bar, save him alone, are gone, culprit, advocates, accusers.
To the generation which is now in the vigour of life, he is the sole
representative of a great age which has passed away. But those who,
within the last ten years, have listened with delight, till the morning
sun shone on the tapestries of the House of Lords, to the lofty and
animated eloquence of Charles Earl Grey, are able to form some estimate
of the powers of a race of men among whom he was not the foremost.

The charges and the answers of Hastings were first read. The ceremony
occupied two whole days, and was rendered less tedious than it would
otherwise have been by the silver voice and just emphasis of Cowper, the
clerk of the court, a near relation of the amiable poet. On the third
day Burke rose. Four sittings were occupied by his opening speech, which
was intended to be a general introduction to all the charges. With
an exuberance of thought and a splendour of diction which more than
satisfied the highly raised expectation of the audience, he described
the character and institutions of the natives of India, recounted the
circumstances in which the Asiatic empire of Britain had originated,
and set forth the constitution of the Company and of the English
presidencies. Having thus attempted to communicate to his hearers an
idea of Eastern society, as vivid as that which existed in his own mind,
he proceeded to arraign the administration of Hastings as systematically
conducted in defiance of morality and public law. The energy and pathos
of the great orator extorted expressions of unwonted admiration from the
stern and hostile Chancellor, and, for a moment, seemed to pierce
even the resolute heart of the defendant. The ladies in the galleries,
unaccustomed {130}to such displays of eloquence, excited by the
solemnity on the occasion, and perhaps not unwilling to display their
taste and sensibility, were in a state of uncontrollable emotion.
Handkerchiefs were pulled out; smelling bottles were handed round;
hysterical sobs and screams were heard: and Mrs. Sheridan was carried
out in a fit. At length the orator concluded. Raising his voice till the
old arches of Irish oak resounded, \x93Therefore,\x94 said he, \x93hath it with
all confidence been ordered, by the Commons of Great Britain, that I
impeach Warren Hastings of high crimes and misdemeanours. I impeach
him in the name of the Commons\x92 House of Parliament, whose trust he has
betrayed. I impeach him in the name of the English nation, whose ancient
honour he has sullied. I impeach him in the name of the people of India,
whose rights he has trodden under foot, and whose country he has turned
into a desert. Lastly, in the name of human nature itself, in the name
of both sexes, in the name of every age, in the name of every rank, I
impeach the common enemy and oppressor of all!\x94

When the deep murmur of various emotions had subsided, Mr. Fox rose to
address the Lords respecting the course of proceeding to be followed.
The wish of the accusers was that the Court would bring to a close the
investigation of the first charge before the second was opened. The wish
of Hastings and of his counsel was that the managers should open all the
charges, and produce all the evidence for the prosecution, before the
defence began. The Lords retired to their own House to consider the
question. The Chancellor took the side of Hastings. Lord Loughborough,
who was now in opposition, supported the demand of the managers. The
division showed which wav the inclination {131}of the tribunal leaned.
A majority of near three to one decided in favour of the course for
which Hastings contended.

When the Court sat again, Mr. Fox, assisted by Mr. Grey, opened the
charge respecting Cheyte Sing, and several days were spent in reading
papers and hearing witnesses. The next article was that relating to the
Princesses of Onde. The conduct of this part of the case was intrusted
to Sheridan. The curiosity of the public to hear him was unbounded. His
sparkling and highly finished declamation lasted two days; but the Hall
was crowded to suffocation during the whole time. It was said that fifty
guineas had been paid for a single ticket. Sheridan, when he concluded,
contrived, with a knowledge of stage effect which his father might
have envied, to sink back, as if exhausted, into the arms of Burke, who
hugged him with the energy of generous admiration.

June was now far advanced. The session could not last much longer;
and the progress which had been made in the impeachment was not very
satisfactory. There were twenty charges. On two only of these had even
the case for the prosecution been heard; and it was now a year since
Hastings had been admitted to bail.

The interest taken by the public in the trial was great when the Court
began to sit, and rose to the height when Sheridan spoke on the charge
relating to the Begums. From that time the excitement went down fast.
The spectacle had lost the attraction of novelty. The great displays of
rhetoric were over. What was behind was not of a nature to entice men of
letters from their books in the morning, or to tempt ladies who had left
the masquerade at two to be out of {132}bed before eight. There remained
examinations and cross-examinations. There remained statements of
accounts. There remained the reading of papers, filled with words
unintelligible to English cars, with lacs and crores, zemindars and
aumils, sunnuds and perwannahs, jaghires and nuzzurs. There remained
bickerings, not always carried on with the best taste or with the best
temper, between the managers of the impeachment and the counsel for the
defence, particularly between Mr. Burke and Mr. Law. There remained the
endless marches and countermarches of the Peers between their House
and the Hall: for as often as a point of law was to be discussed, their
Lordships retired to discuss it apart; and the consequence was, as a
Peer wittily said, that the judges walked and the trial stood still.

It is to be added that, in the spring of 1788, when the trial commenced,
no important question, either of domestic or foreign policy, occupied
the public mind. The proceeding in Westminster Hall, therefore,
naturally attracted most of the attention of Parliament and of the
country. It was the one great event of that season. But in the following
year the King\x92s illness, the debates on the Regency, the expectation of
a change of ministry, completely diverted public attention from Indian
affairs; and within a fortnight after George the Third had returned
thanks in St. Paul\x92s for his recovery, the States-General of France met
at Versailles, In the midst of the agitation produced by these events,
the impeachment was for a time almost forgotten.

The trial in the Hall went on languidly. In the session of 1788, when
the proceedings had the interest of novelty, and when the Peers had
little other business before them, only thirty-five days were given to
{133}the impeachment. In 1789, the Regency Bill occupied the Upper House
till the session was far advanced. When the Kino; recovered the circuits
were beginning. The judges left town; the Lords waited for the return
of the oracles of jurisprudence; and the consequence was that during the
whole year only seventeen days were given to the case of Hastings. It
was clear that the matter would be protracted to a length unprecedented
in the annals of criminal law.

In truth, it is impossible to deny that impeachment, though it is a fine
ceremony, and though it may have been useful in the seventeenth century,
is not a proceeding from which much good can now be expected. Whatever
confidence may be placed in the decision of the Peers on an appeal
arising out of ordinary litigation, it is certain that no man has the
least confidence in their impartiality, when a great public functionary,
charged with a great state crime, is brought to their bar. They are all
politicians. There is hardly one among them whose vote on an impeachment
may not be confidently predicted before a witness has been examined;
and, even if it were possible to rely on their justice, they would still
be quite unfit to try such a cause as that of Hastings. They sit only
during half the year. They have to transact much legislative and much
judicial business. The law-lords, whose advice is required to guide
the unlearned majority, are employed daily in administering justice
elsewhere. It is impossible, therefore, that, during a busy session, the
Upper House should give more than a few days to an impeachment.

To expect that their Lordships would give up partridge-shooting, in
order to bring the greatest delinquent, to speedy justice, or to
relieve accused innocence by speedy acquittal, would be unreasonable
{134}indeed. A well constituted tribunal, sitting regularly six days
in the week, and nine hours in the day, would have brought the trial
of Hastings to a close in less than three months. The Lords had not
finished their work in seven years.

The result ceased to be matter of doubt, from the time when the Lords
resolved that they would be guided by the rules of evidence which are
received in the inferior courts of the realm. Those rules, it is well
known, exclude much information which would be quite sufficient to
determine the conduct of any reasonable man, in the most important
transactions of private life. These rules, at every assizes, save scores
of culprits whom judges, jury, and spectators, firmly believe to be
guilty. But when those rules were rigidly applied to offences committed
many years before, at the distance of many thousands of miles,
conviction was, of course, out of the question. We do not blame the
accused and his counsel for availing themselves of every legal advantage
in order to obtain an acquittal. But it is clear that an acquittal so
obtained cannot be pleaded in bar of the judgment of history.

Several attempts were made by the friends of Hastings to put a stop to
the trial. In 1780 they proposed a vote of censure upon Burke, for some
violent language which he had used respecting the death of Nuncomar and
the connection between Hastings and Impey. Burke was then unpopular in
the last degree both with the House and with the country. The asperity
and indecency of some expressions which he had used during the debates
on the Regency had annoyed even his warmest friends. The vote of censure
was carried; and those who had moved it hoped that the managers would
resign in disgust. Burke was deeply hurt. But {135}his zeal for what he
considered as the cause of justice and mercy triumphed over his
personal feelings. He received the censure of the House with dignity
and meekness, and declared that no personal mortification or humiliation
should induce him to flinch from the sacred duty which he had

In the following year the Parliament was dissolved; and the friends of
Hastings entertained a hope that the new House of Commons might not be
disposed to go on with the impeachment. They began by maintaining that
the whole proceeding was terminated by the dissolution. Defeated on
this point, they made a direct motion that the impeachment, should be
dropped; but they were defeated by the combined forces of the Government
and the Opposition. It was, however, resolved that, for the sake of
expedition, many of the articles should be withdrawn. In truth, had not
some such measure been adopted, the trial would have lasted till the
defendant was in his grave.

At length, in the spring of 1795, the decision was pronounced, near
eight years after Hastings had been brought by the Serjeant-at-arms
of the Commons to the bar of the Lords. On the last day of this great
procedure the public curiosity, long suspended, seemed to be revived.
Anxiety about the judgment there could be none; for it had been
fully ascertained that there was a great majority for the defendant.
Nevertheless many wished to see the pageant, and the Hall was as much
crowded as on the first day. But those who, having been present on the
first day, now bore a part in the proceedings of the last, were few; and
most of those few were altered men.

As Hastings himself said, the arraignment had taken place before
one generation, and the judgment was pronounced {136}by another. The
spectator could not look at the woolsack, or at the red benches of the
Peers, or at the green benches of the Commons, without seeing something
that reminded him of the instability of all human things, of the
instability of power and tame and life, of the more lamentable
instability of friendship. The great seal was borne before Lord
Loughborough, who, when the trial commenced, was a fierce opponent of
Mr. Pitt\x92s government, and who was now a member of that government,
while Thurlow, who presided in the Court when it first sat, estranged
from all his old allies, sat scowling among the junior barons. Of about
a hundred and sixty nobles who walked in the procession on the first
day, sixty had been laid in their family vaults. Still more affecting
must have been the sight of the managers\x92 box. What had become of that
fair fellowship, so closely bound together by public and private
ties, so resplendent with every talent and accomplishment? It had been
scattered by calamities more bitter than the bitterness of death. The
great chiefs were still living, and still in the full vigour of their
genius. But their friendship was at an end. It had been violently and
publicly dissolved, with tears and stormy reproaches. If those men, once
so dear to each other, were now compelled to meet for the purpose of
managing the impeachment, they met as strangers whom public business
had brought together, and behaved to each other with cold and distant
civility. Burke had in his vortex whirled away Windham. Fox had been
followed by Sheridan and Grey.

Only twenty-nine Peers voted. Of these only six found Hastings guilty on
the charges relating to Cheyte Sing and to the Begums. On other
charges, the majority in his favour was still greater. On some he was
{137}unanimously absolved. He was then called to the bar, was informed
from the woolsack that the Lords had acquitted him, and was solemnly
discharged. He bowed respectfully and retired.

We have said that the decision had been fully expected. It was also
generally approved. At the commencement of the trial there had been a
strong and indeed unreasonable feeling against Hastings. At the close of
the trial there was a feeling equally strong and equally unreasonable
in his favour. One cause of the change was, no doubt, what is commonly
called the fickleness of the multitude, but what seems to us to be
merely the general law of human nature. Both in individuals and in
masses violent excitement is always followed by remission, and often
by reaction. We are all inclined to depreciate whatever we have
overpraised, and, on the other hand, to show undue indulgence where we
have shown undue rigour. It was thus in the case of Hastings. The
length of his trial, moreover, made him an object of compassion. It was
thought, and not without reason, that, even if he was guilty, he was
still an ill-used man, and that an impeachment of eight years was more
than a sufficient punishment. It was also felt that, though, in the
ordinary course of criminal law, a defendant is not allowed to set off
his good actions against his crimes, a great political cause should be
tried on different principles, and that a man who had governed an empire
during thirteen years might have done some very reprehensible things,
and yet might be on the whole deserving of rewards and honours rather
than of fine and imprisonment. The press, an instrument neglected by
the prosecutors, was used by Hastings and his friends with great effect.
Every ship, too {138}that arrived from Madras or Bengal, brought a
cuddy full of his admirers. Every gentleman from India spoke of the
late Governor-General as having deserved better, and having been treated
worse, than any man living. The effect of this testimony unanimously
given by all persons who knew the East was naturally very great. Retired
members of the Indian services, civil and military, were settled in all
corners of the kingdom. Each of them was, of course, in his own little
circle, regarded as an oracle on an Indian question, and they were, with
scarcely one exception, the zealous advocates of Hastings. It is to be
added, that the numerous addresses to the late Governor-General, which
his friends in Bengal obtained from the natives and transmitted to
England, made a considerable impression. To these addresses we attach
little or no importance. That Hastings was beloved by the people whom
he governed is true; but the eulogies of pundits, zemindars, Mahommedan
doctors, do not prove it to be true. For an English collector or judge
would have found it easy to induce any native who could write to sign a
panegyric on the most odious ruler that ever was in India. It was said
that at Benares, the very place at which the acts set forth in the first
article of impeachment had been committed, the natives had erected
a temple to Hastings, and this story excited a strong sensation in
England. Burke\x92s observations on the apotheosis were admirable. He saw
no reason for astonishment, he said, in the incident which had been
represented as so striking. He knew something of the mythology of the
Brahmins. He knew that as they worshipped some gods from love, so they
worshipped others from fear. He knew that they erected shrines, not
only to the benignant deities of light and {139}plenty, but also to the
fiends who preside over smallpox and murder; nor did he at all dispute
the claim of Mr. Hastings to be admitted into such a Pantheon. This
reply has always struck us as one of the finest that ever was made in
Parliament. It is a grave and forcible argument, decorated by the most
brilliant wit and fancy.

Hastings was, however, safe. But in every thing except character, he
would have been far better off if, when first impeached, he had at
once pleaded guilty, and paid a fine of fifty thousand pounds. He was
a ruined man. The legal expenses of his defence had been enormous. The
expenses which did not appear in his attorney\x92s bill were perhaps larger
still. Great sums had been paid to Major Scott. Great sums had been
laid out in bribing newspapers, rewarding pamphleteers, and circulating
tracts. Burke, so early as 1790, declared in the House of Commons that
twenty thousand pounds had been employed in corrupting the press. It is
certain that no controversial weapon, from the gravest reasoning to
the coarsest ribaldry, was left unemployed. Logan defended the accused
Governor with great ability in prose. For the lovers of verse, the
speeches of the managers were burlesqued in Simpkin\x92s letters. It is,
we are afraid, indisputable that Hastings stooped so low as to court
the aid of that malignant and filthy baboon John Williams, who called
himself Anthony Pasquin. It was necessary to subsidise such allies
largely. The private hoards of Mrs. Hastings had disappeared. It is said
that the banker to whom they had been intrusted had failed. Still if
Hastings had practised strict economy, he would, after all his losses,
have had a moderate competence; but in the management of his private
affairs he was imprudent. {140}The clearest wish of his heart had always
been to regain Daylesford. At length, in the very year in which his
trial commenced, the wish was accomplished; and the domain, alienated
more than seventy years before, returned to the descendant of its old
lords. But the manor house was a ruin; and the grounds round it had,
during many years, been utterly neglected. Hastings proceeded to build,
to plant, to form a sheet of water, to excavate a grotto; and, before he
was dismissed from the bar of the House of Lords, he had expended more
than forty thousand pounds in adorning his seat.

The general feeling both of the Directors and of the proprietors of
the East India Company was that he had great claims on them, that his
services to them had been eminent, and that his misfortunes had been the
effect of his zeal for their interest. His friends in Leadenhall Street
proposed to reimburse him the costs of his trial, and to settle on him
an annuity of five thousand pounds a year. But the consent of the Board
of Control was necessary; and at the head of the Board of Control was
Mr. Dundas, who had himself been a party to the impeachment, who had,
on that account, been reviled with great bitterness by the adherents
of Hastings, and who, therefore, was not in a very complying mood.
He refused to consent to what the Directors suggested. The Directors
remonstrated. A long controversy followed. Hastings, in the mean time,
was reduced to such distress, that he could hardly pay his weekly bills.
At length a compromise was made. An annuity for life of four thousand
pounds was settled on Hastings; and in order to enable him to meet
pressing demands, he was to receive ten years\x92 annuity in advance. The
Company was also permitted {141}to lend him fifty thousand pounds, to be
repaid by instalments without interest. The relief, though given in the
most absurd manner, was sufficient to enable the retired Governor to
live in comfort, and even in luxury, if he had been a skilful manager.
But he was careless and profuse, and was more than once under the
necessity of applying to the Company for assistance, which was liberally

He had security and affluence, but not the power and dignity which,
when he landed from India, he had reason to expect. He had then looked
forward to a coronet, a red riband, a seat at the Council Board, an
office at Whitehall. He was then only fifty-two, and might hope for many
years of bodily and mental vigour. The case was widely different when he
left the bar of the Lords. He was now too old a man to turn his mind
to a new class of studies and duties. He had no chance of receiving any
mark of royal favour while Mr. Pitt remained in power; and, when Mr.
Pitt retired, Hastings was approaching his seventieth year.

Once, and only once, after his acquittal, he interfered in polities; and
that interference was not much to his honour. In 1804 he exerted himself
strenuously to prevent Mr. Addington, against whom Fox and Pitt had
combined, from resigning the Treasury. It is difficult to believe that
a man so able and energetic as Hastings can have thought that, when
Bonaparte was at Boulogne with a great army, the defence of our island
could safely be intrusted to a ministry which did not contain a single
person whom flattery could describe as a great statesman. It is also
certain that, on the important question which had raised Mr. Addington
to power, and on which he differed from both Fox and Pitt, Hastings,
as might have been expected, agreed {142}with Fox and Pitt, and was
decidedly opposed to Addington, Religious intolerance has never been the
vice of the Indian service, and certainly was not the vice of Hastings.
But Mr. Addington had treated him with marked favour. Fox had been a
principal manager of the impeachment. To Pitt it was owing that there
had been an impeachment; and Hastings, we fear, was on this occasion
guided by personal considerations, rather than by a regard to the public

The last twenty-four years of his life were chiefly passed at
Daylesford. He amused himself with embellishing his grounds, riding fine
Arab horses, fattening prize-cattle, and trying to rear Indian
animals and vegetables in England. He sent for seeds of a very fine
custard-apple, from the garden of what had once been his own villa,
among the green hedgerows of Allipore. He tried also to naturalise in
Worcestershire the delicious leechee, almost the only fruit of Bengal
which deserves to be regretted even amidst the plenty of Covent
Garden. The Mogul emperors, in the time of their greatness, had in vain
attempted to introduce into Hindustan the goat of the table-land of
Thibet, whose down supplies the looms of Cashmere with the materials
of the finest shawls. Hastings tried, with no better fortune, to rear a
breed at Daylesford; nor does he seem to have succeeded better with the
cattle of Bootan, whose tails are in high esteem as the best fans for
brushing away the mosquitoes.

Literature divided his attention with his conservatories and his
menagerie. He had always loved books, and they were now necessary to
him. Though not a poet, in any high sense of the word, he wrote neat and
polished lines with great facility, and was fond of exercising {143}this
talent. Indeed, if we must speak out, he seems to have been more of a
Trissotin than was to be expected from the powers of his mind, and from
the great part which he had played in life. We are assured in these
Memoirs that the first thing which he did in the morning was to write a
copy of verses. When the family and guests assembled, the poem made its
appearance as regularly as the eggs and rolls; and Mr. Gleig requires
us to believe that, if from any accident Hastings came to the
breakfast-table without one of his charming performances in his hand,
the omission was felt by all as a grievous disappointment. Tastes differ
widely. For ourselves, we must say that, however good the breakfasts at
Daylesford may have been,--and we are assured that the tea was of the
most aromatic flavour, and that neither tongue nor venison-pasty was
wanting,--we should have thought the reckoning high if we had been
forced to earn our repast by listening every day to a new madrigal or
sonnet composed by our host. We are glad, however, that Mr. Gleig has
preserved this little feature of character, though we think it by no
means a beauty. It is good to be often reminded of the inconsistency
of human nature, and to learn to look without wonder or disgust on the
weaknesses which are found in the strongest minds. Dionysius in old
times, Frederic in the last century, with capacity and vigour equal to
the conduct of the greatest affairs, united all the little vanities
and affectations of provincial blue-stockings. These great examples
may console the admirers of Hastings for the affliction of seeing him
reduced to the level of the Hayleys and Sewards.

When Hastings had passed many years in retirement, and had long outlived
the common age of men, he again {144}became for a short time an object
of general attention. In 1813 the charter of the East India Company
was renewed; and much discussion about Indian affairs took place in
Parliament. It was determined to examine witnesses at the bar of the
Commons; and Hastings was ordered to attend. He had appeared at that bar
once before. It was when he read his answer to charges which Burke
had laid on the table. Since that time twenty-seven years had elapsed;
public feeling had undergone a complete change; the nation had
now forgotten his faults, and remembered only his services. The
reappearance, too, of a man who had been among the most distinguished of
a generation that had passed away, who now belonged to history, and who
seemed to have risen from the dead, could not but produce a solemn and
pathetic effect. The Commons received him with acclamations, ordered a
chair to be set for him, and, when he retired, rose and uncovered. There
were, indeed, a few who did not sympathize with the general feeling. One
or two of the managers of the impeachment were present. They sate in the
same seats which they had occupied when they had been thanked for
the services which they had rendered in Westminster Hall: for, by the
courtesy of the House, a member who has been thanked in his place
is considered as having a right alwavs to occupy that place. These
gentlemen were not disposed to admit that they had employed several
of the best years of their lives in persecuting an innocent man. They
accordingly kept their seats, and pulled their hats over their brows;
but the exceptions only made the prevailing enthusiasm more remarkable.
The Lords received the old man with similar tokens of respect. The
University of Oxford conferred on him the degree {145}of\x92 Doctor of
Laws; and, in the Sheldonian Theatre, the undergraduates welcomed him
with tumultuous cheering.

These marks of public esteem were soon followed by marks of royal
favour. Hastings was sworn of the Privy Council, and was admitted to
a long private audience of the Prince Regent, who treated him very
graciously. When the Emperor of Russia and the King of Prussia visited
England, Hastings appeared in their train both at Oxford and in the
Guildhall of London, and, though surrounded by a crowd of princes
and great warriors, was everywhere received with marks of respect and
admiration. He was presented by the Prince Resent both to Alexander and
to Frederic William; and his Royal Highness went so far as to declare
in public that honours far higher than a seat in the Privy Council
were due, and would soon be paid, to the man who had saved the British
dominions in Asia. Hastings now confidently expected a peerage; but,
from some unexplained cause, he was again disappointed.

He lived about four years longer, in the enjoyment of good spirits, of
faculties not impaired to any painful or degrading extent, and of health
such as is rarely enjoyed by those who attain such an age. At length, on
the twenty-second of August, 1818, in the eighty-sixth year of his age,
he met death with the same tranquil and decorous fortitude which he had
opposed to all the trials of his various and eventful life.

With all his faults,--and they were neither few nor small,--only one
cemetery was worthy to contain his remains. In that temple of silence
and reconciliation where the enmities of twenty generations He buried,
in the Great Abbey which has during many ages afforded {146}a quiet
resting-place to those whose minds and bodies have been shattered by
the contentions of the Great Hall, the dust of the illustrious accused
should have mingled with the dust of the illustrious accusers. This was
not to be. Yet the place of interment was not ill-chosen. Behind the
chancel of the parish church of Daylesford, in earth which already held
the bones of many chiefs of the house of Hastings, was laid the coffin
of the Greatest man who has ever borne that ancient and widely extended
name. On that very spot, probably, fourscore years before, the little
Warren, meanly clad and scantily fed, had played with the children of
ploughmen. Even then his young mind had revolved plans which might be
called romantic. Yet, however romantic, it is not likely that they had
been so strange as the truth. Not only had the poor orphan retrieved the
fallen fortunes of his line. Not only had he repurchased the old lands,
and rebuilt the old dwelling. He had preserved and extended an empire.
He had founded a polity. He had administered government and war with
more than the capacity of Richelieu. He had patronised learning with
the judicious liberality of Cosmo. He had been attacked by the most
formidable combination of enemies that ever sought the destruction of a
single victim: and over that combination, after a struggle of ten years,
he had triumphed. He had at length gone down to his grave in the fulness
of age in peace, after so many troubles, in honour, after so much

Those who look on his character without favour or malevolence will
pronounce that, in the two great elements of all social virtue, in
respect for the rights of others, and in sympathy for the sufferings
of others, he was deficient. His principles were somewhat lax. {147}His
heart was somewhat hard. But though we cannot with truth describe him
either as a righteous or as a merciful ruler, we cannot regard without
admiration the amplitude and fertility of his intellect, his rare
talents for command, for administration, and for controversy, his
dauntless courage, his honourable poverty, his fervent zeal for the
interests of the state, his noble equanimity, tried by both extremes of
fortune, and never disturbed by either.


(_Edinburgh Review_, April, 1842.)

This {148}work, which has the high honour of being introduced to the
world by the author of Loehiel 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\x92 War, and therefore does not
comprise the most interesting portion of Frederic\x92s 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

     (1) _Frederic the Great and his Times_. Edited, with an
     Introduction, by Thomas Campbell., Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London:

{149}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,
from 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, {150}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 Moli\xE8re\x92s play regards Monsieur Jourdain, just
fresh from the mummery of being made a gentleman. Austria exacted
large sacrifices in return for her recognition, and at last gave it

Frederic was succeeded by his son, Frederic William, a prince who must
be allowed to have possessed some talents for administration, but whose
character was disfigured by odious vices, and whose eccentricities were
such as had never before been seen out of a madhouse. He was exact and
diligent in the transacting of business; and he was the first who formed
the design of obtaining for Prussia a place among the European powers,
altogether out of proportion to her extent and population, by means of
a strong military organization. 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\x92s would have appeared an awkward
squad. The master of such a force could not but be regarded by {151}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\x92s 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\x92s
administration was to have a great military {152}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\x92s
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
Dotheboy\x92s Hall, were petted children when compared with this wretched
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 {153}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, {154}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,
\x93the depraved nature of man, which of itself carrieth man to all
other sin, abhorreth them.\x94 But the offences of his youth were not
characterized by any degree of 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. {155}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\x92s part, was treated almost as ill as Mrs. Brownrigg\x92s

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. \x93Desertion,\x94 says this
royal theologian, in one of his half crazy letters, \x93is from hell. It is
a work of the children of the Devil. No child of God could possibly
be guilty of it.\x94 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 {156}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\x92s views, and submissively accepted a wife,
who was a wife only in name, from his father\x92s 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

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 inmates 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. {157}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 Moli\xE8re, 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. \x93My son,\x94 his Majesty wrote, \x93shall
not learn Latin; and, more than that, I will not suffer anybody even to
mention such a thing to me.\x94 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.

\x93Rascal, what are you at there?\x94

\x93Please your Majesty,\x94 answered the preceptor, \x93I was explaining the
Golden Bull to his Royal Highness.\x94

\x93I\x92ll Golden Bull you, you rascal!\x94 roared the {158}Majesty of Prussia.
Up went the King\x92s cane; away ran the terri lied instructor; and
Frederic\x92s classical studies ended for ever. He now and then affected to
quote Latin sentences, and produced such exquisitely Ciceronian
phrases as these:--\x93Stante pede morire,\x94--\x93De gustibus non est
disputandus,\x94--\x93Tot verbas tot spondera.\x94 Of Italian, he had not enough
to read a page of Metastasio with ease; and of the Spanish and English,
he did not, as for 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 his
heart was, that he might rank among the masters of French rhetoric and
poetry. He wrote prose and verse as indefetigably 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 labors 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 {159}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\x92s Iphig\xE9nie 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 bow or when, ana 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 for as we are aware, none of those poems, not even
Milton\x92s, 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\x92s collection.
In history, he succeeded better. We do not, indeed, find, in any part of
his voluminous Memoirs, either deep reflection {160}or vivid pointing.
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. \x93A man who has never seen the
sun,\x94 says Calderon, in one of his charming comedies, \x93cannot 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.\x94 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\x92s. 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, {161}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 practice 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\x92s performances was a refutation of
Machiavelli. Voltaire undertook to convey it to the press. It was
entitled {162}the Anti-Machiavel, and was an edifying homily against
rapacity, perfidy, arbitrary government, unjust war, in short, against
almost every thing 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 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
F\xE9n\xE9lon\x92s 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.
{163}The disappointment of Falstaff at his old boon-companion\x92s
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. \x93No more of these fooleries,\x94 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 sake of saving four or
five rixdollars in the year. Frederic was, we fear, as malevolent as
his {164}father; but Frederic\x92s 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\x92s. 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 Loraine, succeeded to the
dominions of her ancestors. {165}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 {166}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 {167}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 these
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.
{168}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\x92s 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: \x93Ambition, interest, the
desire of making people talk about me, carried the day; and I decided
for war.\x94

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\x92s 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. \x93We will not,\x94 they wrote, \x93we cannot, believe it.\x94

In the mean time 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 good-will, 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 {169}part of lier 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 {170}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, hound 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. {171}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\x92s 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\x92s 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, {172}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 {173}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 C\xE6sars unbroken.
Hungary was still hers by an unquestionable title; and although her
ancestors had found Hungary the most mutinous of all their kino-doms,
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
risen 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, {174}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
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, \x93Let us
die for our King, Maria Theresa!\x94

In the mean time, 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 Loraine, 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 {175}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 {176}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\x92s 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\x92s 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\x92s poems; and the King has left
on record his opinion of Voltaire\x92s diplomacy. \x93He had no credentials,\x94
 Says Frederic, \x93and the whole mission was a joke, a mere farce.\x94
 {177}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\x92s
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, inarched 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 Loraine 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 {178}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. Coud\xE9,
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 mean time, 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
Loraine, the husband of Maria Theresa, {179}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 1718, 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: {180}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 Torey. 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 lus 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\x92s answer signed by
Fredericks 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 {181}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 mean time 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 {182}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\x92s; 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\x92s 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
perform 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 {183}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 axletrees 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
{184}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

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 subjects, he merely asked, \x93How many
thousand men can he bring into the field?\x94 He once saw a crowd staring
at something on a wall. He rode up, and {185}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. \x93My people and I,\x94 he said,
\x93have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to sav what
they please, and I am to do what I please.\x94 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\x92s
orders. \x93Do not advertise it in an offensive manner,\x94 said the King,
\x93but sell it by all means. I hope it will pay you well.\x94 Even among
statesmen accustomed to the license 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\x92s 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. {186}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 his 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\x92s administration resolve themselves 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 {187}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 busy-body is more than human nature can bear.

The same passion for directing and regulating appeared in every part of
the King\x92s 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
{188}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 Sieves; 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 Kino; 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 {189}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 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, cautions, and servile of
Abb\xE9s. 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\x92Arnaud, a young poet, who was
thought to have given promise of great things, had been induced to quit
{190}his country, and to reside at the Prussian Court. The Marquess
D\x92Argens was amoung the King\x92s favourite companions, on account, as
it should seem, of the strong opposition between their characters. The
parts of D\x92Argens were good, and his manners those of a finished French
gentleman; but his whole soul was dissolved in sloth, timidity, and
self-indulgence. His 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\x92s 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\x92Argens was an excellent companion; when he waited to
vent his spleen and contempt, D\x92Argens 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 {191}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 religion 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, how ever, or real
affection, was in this brilliant society not to be found. Absolute kings
seldom have friends: and Frederic\x92s 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 {192}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 any thing 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, {193}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 new comer was received with eager
hospitality, intoxicated with battery, 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\x92s 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 {194}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 Fr\xE9ron and Desfontaines,
though the vengeance which he took on Fr\xE9ron 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 art 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 {195}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 Cr\xE9billon, 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 Pr\xE6tor Lentulus, and Tullia, the daughter of
Cicero. The theatre resounded with acclamations. The king pensioned the
successful poet; and the coffeehouses 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 Cr\xE9billon

The blow went to Voltaire\x92s heart. Had his wisdom and fortitude been in
proportion to the fertility of his {196}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 Ch\xE2telet 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 {197}the poet produced its natural
effect on the severe and frugal King. The answer was a dry refusal. \x93I
did not,\x94 said his Majesty, \x93solicit the honour of the lady\x92s society.\x94
 On this, Voltaire went off into a paroxysm of childish rage. \x93Was
there ever such avarice? He has hundreds of tubs full of dollars in his
vaults, and haggles with me about a poor thousand louis.\x94 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\x92Arnaud. His Majesty even wrote some bad verses, of which
the sense was, that Voltaire was a setting sun, and that D\x92Arnaud 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 {198}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\x92s
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. \x93The
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----\x94

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 impudence and knavery: and conceived that the
favourite of a monarch who had barrels full of gold and silver laid up
in cellars {199}ought to make a fortune which a receiver-general might
envy. They soon discovered each other\x92s 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\x92s 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\x92Arnaud and D\x92Argens,
Guichard and La Metric, 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 {200}the great scoffer,
might be addressed the caution which was given of old to the Archangel:

                        \x93I forewarn thee, shun

                   His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope

                   To be invulnerable in those bright arms

                   Though tempered heavenly; for that fatal dint,

                   Save Him who reigns above, none can resist.\x94

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
stockjobbing, 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 {201}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 marks and
corrections. \x93See,\x94 exclaimed Voltaire, \x93what a quantity of his dirty
linen the King has sent me to wash!\x94 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\x92s good will 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 {202}the jokes of 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\x92s 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\x92s kingdom, have consented to father
Frederic\x92s verses. {203}The King, however, who rated his own writings
much above their value, and who was inclined to see all Voltaire\x92s
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, Madam! 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\x92s 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\x92 War. Why should we believe that he would have been more
scrupulous with regard to Voltaire? {204}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 {205}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\x92s writings and conversation, and the frightful
rumours which were circulated {206}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 ascribes 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 Mycen\xE6, 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 {207}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 C\xE6sars. Common sentiments of
religion had been unable to mitigate this strong antipathy. The
rulers of France, even while clothed in the Roman purple, even while
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 {208}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, alter two hundred years of
murderous hostility or of hollow truce, the illustrious Houses whose
enmity had distracted the world sat down to count their Rains, 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\x92 War, or
of the War of the Enigmatic 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\x92 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 floods 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 {209}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 {210}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 coffeehouses of
Paris, and were espoused by every gay Marquis, and every facetious abb\xE9
who was admitted to see Madame de Pompadour\x92s 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 Coll\xE9, in a war of repartee with young
Cr\xE9billon at Pelletier\x92s 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 {211}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 low-born 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\x92Etioles, the kidnapper of young girls for the
harem 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 a 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. {212}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 Wurtemburg
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 abased 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 {213}loyalty, have
sometimes made head against great monarchies weakened by factions and
discontents. But small as was Frederic\x92s kingdom, it probably contained
a greater number of disaffected subjects than were to be found in
all the states of his enemies. Silesia formed the 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 any thing 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 had 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\x92s march
from the territory of the enemy. The capital itself, in the event of
war, would be constantly exposed to insult. In truth, there was hardly a
politician or a soldier in Europe who doubted that the conflict would
be terminated in a very few days by the prostration of the house of

Nor was Frederic\x92s 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 {214}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\x92s army was, when {215}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 longer 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 {216}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. {217}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. \x93I want,\x94 he said, \x93no
answer in the style of an oracle.\x94 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
lend 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,
the 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, {218}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

The Saxon camp at Pirna was in the mean time 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, \x93subjectos tanquam suos, viles tanquam
alienos.\x94 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 {219}still to come. It was easy to
foresee that the year 1757 would be a memorable era in the history of

The King\x92s scheme for the campaign was simple, bold, and judicious. The
Duke of Cumberland with an English and Hanoverian army 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\x92s 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 Evlau. 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, {220}led back his
regiment to the charge. Thus at seventy-two years of age he fell in the
thickest battle, still grasping the standard which bears the black eagle
on the field argent. The victory remained with the King; but it had been
dearly purchased. Whole columns of his bravest warriors had fallen.
He admitted that he had lost eighteen thousand men. Of the enemy,
twenty-four thousand had been killed wounded, or taken.

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

It was the eighteenth of June, a day which, if the Greek superstition
still retained its influence, would be held sacred to Nemesis, a day
on which the two greatest princes of modern times were taught, by
a terrible experience, that neither skill nor valour can fix the
inconstancy of fortune. The battle began before noon; and part of the
Prussian army maintained the contest till after the midsummer sun had
gone down. But at length the King found that his troops, having been
repeatedly driven back with frightful carnage, could no longer be led
to the charge. He was with difficulty persuaded to quit the field. The
officers of his personal staff were under the necessity of expostulating
with him, and one of them took the liberty to say, \x93Does your Majesty
mean to storm {221}the batteries alone?\x94 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\x92s 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 criticized. 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\x92s 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\x92s distress could hardly be increased. Yet at
this moment another blow not less {222}terrible than that of Kolin fell
upon him. The French under Marshal D\x92Estr\xE9es had invaded Germany. The
Duke of Cumberland had given them battle at Hastembeek, 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\x92s 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\x92s 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 {223}predominated in
the strange scene which was then acting. In the midst of all the great
King\x92s 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\x92s 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 C\xE6sar, 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\x92s, and a little worse than
Hay-ley\x92s. 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 {224}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 of 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 any thing brought
back to Frederic\x92s 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
any thing 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, \x93Remember how you behaved to me. For your
sake I have lost the favour of my native king. For your sake 1 am an
exile from my country. 1 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
{225}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.\x94 Then the King answers, with less heat but equal severity--\x93You
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.\x94

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 {226}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\x92Estrdes 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 Cordbillon the younger and La Clos with models for {227}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.
{228}But it was to very different means that Frederic was to owe is
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 Rosbaeh. 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 every thing seemed to be lost. Breslau had fallen; and
Charles of Loraine, with a mighty power, held the whole province! On
the fifth of December, exactly one month after the battle of Rosbaeh,
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. {229}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. \x93That battle,\x94 said Napoleon,
\x93was a masterpiece. Of itself it is sufficient to entitle Frederic to
a place in the first rank among generals.\x94 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 Loraine 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\x92s 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 {230}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 disorganized 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 Ros-bach 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 Loraine. 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 clear blue eye of
Germany. Never since the dissolution of the empire of Charlemagne, had
the Teutonic race won {231}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 varions 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 the
citizen of Nuremburg. 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 birth-day
{232}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 religions 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\x92s 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: \x93The 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!\x94 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 any thing
better than {233}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
to 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 plate, 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 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
{234}ready for the conflict. Prince Ferdinand kept the French in check.
The King in the mean time, after attempting against the Austrians some
operations which led to no very important results, 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 Frank fort 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 halfsavage 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. {235}Having vanquished the Russians, he hastened into Saxony
to oppose the troops of the Empress Queen, commanded by Daun, the
most cautious, and Landohn, 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 seemed 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
eventual 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:--\x93Go on with your operations against Neisse. Be quite at ease as
to the King. I will give a good account of him.\x94 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 {236}rapidity, passed Daun,
hastened into Silesia, raised the siege of Neisse, and drove Harsch into

Daun availed himself of the King\x92s 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 was 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 Hoehkirchen, 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, {237}and deserved to be, Frederic\x92s
favourite sister. He felt the loss as much as it was in his iron nature
to feel the loss of any thing 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\x92s 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 {238}velvet lined with ermine, and a dove of
pearl, 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\x92s generals on the Oder,
threatened Silesia, effected a junction with Laudolm, and intrenched
themselves strongly at Kunersdorf.

Frederic hastened to attack them. A great battle was fought. During the
earlier part of the day every thing 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 mean time, the
stubborn {239}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 Laudolm, 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 his first:--\x93Let the royal family
leave Berlin. Send the archives to Potsdam. The town may make terms with
the enemy.\x94

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:--\x93I have no resource
left\x94--such is {240}the language of one of his letters--\x93all is lost. I
will not survive the ruin of my country. Farewell for ever.\x94

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 1709 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
{241}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 were still rye-bread and potatoes; there were 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. \x93It is hard,\x94 he says in one of his letters, \x93for man to bear
what I bear. I begin to feel that, as the Italians sav, 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.\x94 {242}Borne up by such feelings He struggled with
various success, but constant glory, through the campaign of 1701. 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. Laudolm had surprised the important fortress of Sehweidnitz.
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\x92s 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 any thing
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 {243}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, and which
had given up 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\x92s
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
{244}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

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 Catharine the
Second, now assumed the supreme power, was, at the commencement of her
administration, by no means partial to Frederic, and refused to permit
her troops to remain under his command. But she observed the peace made
by her husband; and Prussia was no longer threatened by danger from the

England and France at the same time paired off together. They concluded
a treaty, by which they bound themselves to observe neutrality with
respect to the German war. Thus the coalitions on both sides {245}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

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
C\xE6sar, 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 \x93Long live my dear
people! Long live my children!\x94 Yet, even in the midst of that gay
spectacle, He could not but perceive {246}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, every thing that was not
military violence was anarchy. Even the army was disorganized.
{247}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\x92 War.


(_Edinburgh Review_, January, 1843.)

Though {248}the world saw and heard little of Madame D\x92Arblay during
the last forty years of her life, and though that little did not add to
her fame, there were thousands, we believe, who felt a singular emotion
when they learned that she was no longer among us. The news of her death
carried the minds of men back at one leap over two generations, to the
time when her first literary triumphs were won. All those whom we had
been accustomed to revere as intellectual patriarchs seemed children
when compared with her; for Burke had sate up all night to read her
writings, and Johnson had pronounced her superior to Fielding, when
Rogers was still a schoolboy, and Southey still in petticoats. Yet more
strange did it seem that we should just have lost one whose name had
been widely celebrated before anybody had heard of some illustrious men
who, twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, were, after a long and splendid
career, borne with honour to the grave. Yet so it was. Francis Burney
was at the height of fame and popularity before Cowper had published his
first volume, before Porson had gone up to college, before Pitt had

     (1) _Diary and Letters of Madame D\x92Arblay_. Five vols. 8vo.
     London: 1842.

{249}taken his seat in the House of Commons, before the voice of Erskine
had been once heard in Westminster Hall. Since the appearance of her
first work, sixty-two years had passed; and this interval had
been crowded, not only with political, but also with intellectual
revolutions. Thousands of reputations had, during that period, sprung
up, bloomed, withered, and disappeared. New kinds of composition had
come into fashion, had got ont of fashion, had been derided, had been
forgotten. The fooleries of Della Crusca, and the fooleries of Kotzebue,
had for a time bewitched the multitude, but had left no trace behind
them; nor had misdirected genius been able to save from decay the once
flourishing schools of Godwin, of Darwin, and of Radcliffe. Many books,
written for temporary effect, had run through six or seven editions, and
had then been gathered to the novels of Afra Behn, and the epic poems of
Sir Richard Blackmore. Yet the early works of Madame D\x92Arblay, in spite
of the lapse of years, in spite of the change of manners, in spite of
the popularity deservedly obtained by some of her rivals, continued to
hold a high place in the public esteem. She lived to be a classic. Time
set on her fame, before she went hence, that seal which is seldom set
except on the fame of the departed. Like Sir Condy Rackrent in the tale,
she survived her own wake, and overheard the judgment of posterity.

Having always felt a warm and sincere, though not a blind admiration for
her talents, we rejoiced to learn that her Diary was about to be made
public. Our hopes, it is true, were not unmixed with fears. We could not
forget the fate of the Memoirs of Dr. Burney, which were published ten
years ago. That unfortunate book contained much that was curious and
{250}interesting. Yet it was received with a cry of disgust, and was
speedily consigned to oblivion. The truth is, that it deserved its doom.
It was written in Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s later style, the worst style that
has ever been known among men. No genius, no information, could save
from proscription a book so written. We, therefore, opened the Diary
with no small anxiety, trembling lest we should light upon some of that
peculiar rhetoric which deforms almost every page of the Memoirs, and
which it is impossible to read without a sensation made up of mirth,
shame, and loathing. We soon, however, discovered to our great delight
that this Diary was kept before Madame D\x92Arblay became eloquent. It
is, for the most part, written in her earliest and best manner, in true
woman\x92s English, clear, natural, and lively. The two works are lying
side by side before us; and we never turn from the Memoirs to the Diary
without a sense of relief. The difference is as great as the difference
between the atmosphere of a perfumer\x92s shop, fetid with lavender water
and jasmine soap, and the air of a heath on a fine morning in May.
Both works ought to be consulted by every person who wishes to be well
acquainted with the history of our literature and our manners. But to
read the Diary is a pleasure; to read the Memoirs will always be a task.

We may, perhaps, afford some harmless amusement to our readers, if we
attempt, with the help of these two books, to give them an account of
the most important years of Madame D\x92arblay\x92s life.

She was descended from a family which bore the name of Macburney,
and which, though probably of Irish origin, had been long settled in
Shropshire, and was possessed of considerable estates in that county.
Unhappily, {251}many years before her birth, the Macburneys began, as
if of set purpose and in a spirit of determined rivalry, to expose and
ruin themselves. The heir apparent, Mr. James Macburney, offended his
father by making a runaway match with an actress from Goodman\x92s Fields.
The old gentleman could devise no more judicious mode of wreaking
vengeance on his undutiful boy than by marrying the cook. The cook
gave birth to a son named Joseph, who succeeded to all the lands of
the family, while James was cut off with a shilling. The favourite
son, however, was so extravagant, that he soon became as poor as his
disinherited brother. Both were forced to earn their bread by their
labour. Joseph turned dancing master, and settled in Norfolk. James
struck off the Mac from the beginning of his name, and set up as a
portrait painter at Chester. Here he had a son named Charles, well
known as the author of the History of Music, and as the father of
two remarkable children, of a son distinguished by learning, and of a
daughter still more honourably distinguished by genius.

Charles early showed a taste for that art, of which, at a later period,
he became the historian. He was apprenticed to a celebrated musician in
London, and applied himself to study with vigour and success. He soon
found a kind and munificent patron in Fulk Greville, a highborn
and highbred man, who seems to have had in large measure all the
accomplishments and all the follies, all the virtues and all the vices,
which, a hundred years ago, were considered as making up the character
of a fine gentleman. Under such protection, the young artist had every
prospect of a brilliant career in the capital. But his health failed. It
became necessary for him to retreat from the smoke and {252}river fog of
London, to the pure air of the coast. He accepted the place of organist,
at Lynn, and settled at that town with a young lady who had recently
become his wife.

At Lynn, in June, 1752, Frances Burney was born. Nothing in her
childhood indicated that she would, while still a young woman, have
secured for herself an honourable and permanent place among English
writers. She was shy and silent. Her brothers and sisters called her a
dunce, and not without some show of reason; for at eight years old she
did not know her letters.

In 1760, Mr. Burney quitted Lynn for London, and took a house in Poland
Street; a situation which had been fashionable in the reign of Queen
Anne, but which, since that time, had been deserted by most of its
wealthy and noble inhabitants. He afterwards resided in Saint Martin\x92s
Street, on the south, side of Leicester Square. His house there is still
well known, and will continue to be well known as long as our island
retains any trace of civilisation; for it was the dwelling of Newton,
and the square turret which distinguishes it from all the surrounding
buildings was Newton\x92s observatory.

Mr. Burney at once obtained as many pupils of the most respectable
description as he had time to attend, and was thus enabled to
support his family, modestly indeed, and frugally, but in comfort and
independence. His professional merit obtained for him the degree of
Doctor of Music from the University of Oxford; and his works on subjects
connected with his art gained for him a place, respectable, though
certainly not eminent, among men of letters.

The progress of the mind of Frances Burney, from her ninth to her
twenty-fifth year, well deserves to {253}be recorded. When her education
had proceeded no further than the hornbook, she lost her mother, and
thenceforward she educated herself. Her father appears to have been as
bad a father as a very honest, affectionate, and sweet tempered man
can well be. He loved his daughter dearly; but it never seems to have
occurred to him that a parent has other duties to perform to children
than that of fondling them. It would indeed have been impossible, for
him to superintend their education himself. His professional engagements
occupied him all day. At seven in the morning he began to attend his
pupils, and, when London was full, was sometimes employed in teaching
till eleven at night. He was often forced to carry in his pocket a tin
box of sandwiches, and a bottle of wine and water, on which he dined in
a hackney coach, while hurrying from one scholar to another. Two of his
daughters he sent to a seminary at Paris; but he imagined that Frances
would run some risk of being perverted from the Protestant faith if she
were educated in a Catholic country, and he therefore kept her at home.
No governess, no teacher of any art or of any language, was provided for
her. But one of her sisters showed her how to write; and, before she was
fourteen, she began to find pleasure in reading.

It was not, however, by reading that her intellect was formed. Indeed,
when her best novels were produced, her knowledge of books was very
small. When at the height of her fame, she was unacquainted with the
most celebrated works of Voltaire and Moliere; and, what seems still
more extraordinary, had never heard or seen a line of Churchill,
who, when she was a girl, was the most popular of living poets. It is
particularly deserving of observation that she appears {254}to have been
by no means a novel reader. Her father\x92s library was large; and he had
admitted into it so many books which rigid moralists generally exclude
that he felt uneasy, as he afterwards owned, when Johnson began to
examine the shelves. But in the whole collection there was only a single
novel, Fielding\x92s Amelia.

An education, however, which to most girls would have been useless, but
which suited Fanny\x92s mind better than elaborate culture, was in constant
progress during her passage from childhood to womanhood. The great book
of human nature was turned over before her. Her father\x92s social position
was very peculiar. He belonged in fortune and station to the middle
class. His daughters seemed to have been suffered to mix freely with
those whom butlers and waiting maids call vulgar. We are told that they
were in the habit of playing with the children of a wigmaker who lived
in the adjoining house. Yet few nobles could assemble in the most
stately mansions of Grosvenor Square or Saint James\x92s Square, a society
so various and so brilliant as was sometimes to be found in Dr. Burney\x92s
cabin. His mind, though not very powerful or capacious, was restlessly
active; and, in the intervals of his professional pursuits, he had
contrived to lay up much miscellaneous information. His attainments,
the suavity of his temper, and the gentle simplicity of his manners, had
obtained for him ready admission to the first literary circles. While
he was still at Lynn, he had won Johnson\x92s heart by sounding with honest
zeal the praises of the English Dictionary. In London the two friends
met frequently, and agreed most harmoniously. One tie, indeed,
was wanting to their mutual attachment. Burney loved his own art
passionately; and Johnson {255}just knew the bell of Saint Clement\x92s
church from the organ. They had, however, many topics in common; and on
winter nights their conversations were sometimes prolonged till the fire
had gone out, and the candles had burned away to the wicks. Burney\x92s
admiration of the powers which had produced Rasselas and The Rambler
bordered on idolatry. Johnson, on the other hand, condescended to growl
out that Burney was an honest fellow, a man whom it was impossible not
to like.

Garrick, too, was a frequent visiter in Poland Street and Saint Martin\x92s
Lane. That wonderful actor loved the society of children, partly from
good nature, and partly from vanity. The ecstasies of mirth and terror,
which his gestures and play of countenance never failed to produce in a
nursery, flattered him quite as much as the applause of mature critics.
He often exhibited all his powers of mimicry for the amusement of the
little Burneys, awed them by shuddering and crouching as if he saw a
ghost, scared them by raving like a maniac in Saint Luke\x92s, and then at
once became an auctioneer, a chimneysweeper, or an old woman, and made
them laugh till the tears ran down their cheeks.

But it would be tedious to recount the names of all the men of letters
and artists whom Frances Burney had an opportunity of seeing and
hearing. Colman, Twining, Harris, Baretti, Hawkesworth, Reynolds, Barry,
were among those who occasionally surrounded the tea table and supper
tray at her father\x92s modest dwelling. This was not all. The distinction
which Dr. Burney had acquired as a musician, and as the historian of
music, attracted to his house the most eminent musical performers of
that age. The greatest {256}Italian singers who visited England regarded
him as the dispenser of fame in their art, and exerted themselves
to obtain his suffrage. Pachierotti became his intimate friend. The
rapacious Agujari, who sang for nobody else under fifty pounds an air,
sang her best for Dr. Burney without a fee; and in the company of Dr.
Burney even the haughty and eccentric Gabrielli constrained herself to
behave with civility. It was thus in his power to give, with scarcely
any expense, concerts equal to those of the aristocracy. On such
occasions the quiet street in which he lived was blocked up by coroneted
chariots, and his little drawingroom was crowded with peers, peeresses,
ministers, and ambassadors. On one evening, of which we happen to have
a full account, there were present Lord Mulgrave, Lord Bruce, Lord and
Lady Edgecumbe, Lord Barrington from the War Office, Lord Sandwich from
the Admiralty, Lord Ashburnham, with his gold key dangling from his
pocket, and the French Ambassador, M. De Guignes, renowned for his fine
person and for his success in gallantry. But the great show of the night
was the Russian ambassador, Count Orloff, whose gigantic figure was all
in a blaze with jewels, and in whose demeanour the untamed ferocity
of the Scythian might be discerned through a thin varnish of French
politeness. As he stalked about the small parlour, brushing the ceiling
with his toupee, the girls whispered to each other, with mingled
admiration and horror, that he was the favoured lover of his august
mistress; that he had borne the chief part in the revolution to which
she owed her throne; and that his huge hands, now glittering with
diamond rings, had given the last squeeze to the windpipe of her
unfortunate husband.

With such illustrious guests as these were mingled {257}all the most
remarkable specimens of the race of lions, a kind of game which is
limited in London every spring with more than Meltonian ardour and
perseverance. Bruce, who had washed down steaks cut from living oxen
with water from the fountains of the Nile, came to swagger and talk
about his travels. Omai lisped broken English, and made all the
assembled musicians hold their ears by howling Otaheitean love songs,
such as those with which Oberea charmed her Opano.

With the literary and fashionable society, which occasionally met under
Dr. Burney\x92s roof, Frances can scarcely be said to have mingled. She was
not a musician, and could therefore bear no part in the concerts.
She was shy almost to awkwardness, and scarcely ever joined in the
conversation. The slightest remark from a stranger disconcerted her:
and even the old friends of her father who tried to draw her out could
seldom extract more than a Yes or a No. Her figure was small, her face
not distinguished by beauty. She was therefore suffered to withdraw
quietly to the background, and, unobserved herself, to observe all that
passed. Her nearest relations were aware that she had good sense,
but seem not to have suspected that, under her demure and bashful
deportment, were concealed a fertile invention and a keen sense of
the ridiculous. She had not, it is true, an eye for the fine shades of
character, but every marked peculiarity instantly caught her notice and
remained engraven on her imagination. Thus, while still a girl, she had
laid up such a store of materials for fiction as few of those who mix
much in the world are able to accumulate during a long life. She had
watched and listened to people of every class, from princes and great
officers of state down to artists {258}living in garrets, and poets
familiar with subterranean cookshops. Hundreds of remarkable persons had
passed in review before lier, English, French, German, Italian, lords
and fiddlers, deans of cathedrals and managers of theatres, travellers
leading about newly caught savages, and singing women escorted by deputy

So strong was the impression made on the mind of Frances by the society
which she was in the habit of seeing and hearing, that she began to
write little fictitious narratives as soon as she could use her pen
with ease, which, as we have said, was not very early. Her sisters were
amused by her stories: but Dr. Burney knew nothing of their existence;
and in another quarter her literary propensities met with serious
discouragement. When she was fifteen, her father took a second wife.
The new Mrs. Burney soon found out that her stepdaughter was fond of
scribbling, and delivered several goodnatured lectures on the subject.
The advice no doubt was well meant, and might have been given by the
most judicious friend; for at that time, from causes to which we may
hereafter advert, nothing could be more disadvantageous to a young lady
than to be known as a novel writer. Frances yielded, relinquished her
favourite pursuit, and made a bonfire of all her manuscripts. (1)

She now hemmed and stitched from breakfast to dinner with scrupulous
regularity. But the dinners of that time were early; and the afternoon
was her own. Though she had given up novelwriting, she was still

     (1) There is some difficulty here as to the chronology.
     \x93This sacrifice,\x94 says the editor of the Diary, \x93was made in
     the young authoress\x92s fifteenth year.\x94 This could not be;
     for the sacrifice was the effect, according to the editor\x92s
     own showing, of the remonstrances of the second Mrs. Burney:
     and Frances was in her sixteenth year when her father\x92s
     second marriage took place.

{259}fond of using her pen. She began to keep a diary, and she
corresponded largely with a person who seems to have had the chief share
in the formation of her mind. This was Samuel Crisp, an old friend
of her father. His name, well known, near a century ago, in the most
splendid circles of London, has long been forgotten. His history is,
however, so interesting and instructive, that it tempts us to venture on
a digression.

Long before Frances Burney was born, Mr. Crisp had made his entrance
into the world, with every advantage. He was well connected and well
educated. His face and figure were conspicuously handsome; his manners
were polished; his fortune was easy; his character was without stain; he
lived in the best society; he had read much; he talked well; his taste
in literature, music, painting, architecture, sculpture, was held in
high esteem. Nothing that the world can give seemed to be wanting to
his happiness and respectability, except that he should understand the
limits of his powers, and should not throw away distinctions which were
within his reach in the pursuit of distinctions which were unattainable.

\x93It is an uncontrolled truth,\x94 says Swift, \x93that no man ever made an ill
figure who understood his own talents, nor a good one who mistook them.\x94
 Every day brings with it fresh illustrations of this weighty saying; but
the best commentary that we remember is the history of Samuel Crisp. Men
like him have their proper place, and it is a most important one, in the
Commonwealth of Letters. It is by the judgment of such men that the rank
of authors is finally determined. It, is neither to the multitude, nor
to the few who are gifted with great creative genius, that we are to
look for sound critical decisions. The multitude, unacquainted {260}with
the best models, are captivated by whatever stuns and dazzles them. They
deserted Mrs. Siddons to run after Master Betty; and they now prefer, we
have no doubt, Jack Sheppard to Von Artevelde. A man of great original
genius, on the other hand, a man who has attained to mastery in some
high walk of art, is by no means to be implicitly trusted as a judge of
the performances of others. The erroneous decisions pronounced by such
men are without number.

It is commonly supposed that jealousy makes them unjust. But a more
creditable explanation may easily be found. The very excellence of a
work shows that some of the faculties of the author have been developed
at the expense of the rest; for it is not given to the human intellect
to expand itself widely in all directions at once, and to be at the
same time gigantic and well proportioned. Whoever becomes pre-eminent in
any art, nay, in any style of art, generally does so by devoting himself
with intense and exclusive enthusiasm to the pursuit of one kind of
excellence. His perception of other kinds of excellence is therefore
too often impaired. Out of Ins own department he praises and blames at
random, and is far less to be trusted than, the mere connoisseur, who
produces nothing, and whose business is only to judge and enjoy. One
painter is distinguished by his exquisite finishing. He toils day after
day to bring the veins of a cabbage leaf, the folds of a lace veil, the
wrinkles of an old woman\x92s face, nearer and nearer to perfection. In
the time which he employs on a square foot of canvass, a master of a
different order covers the walls of a palace with gods burying giants
under mountains, or makes the cupola of a church alive with seraphim and
martyrs. The more fervent the passion of each of these artists {261}for
his art, the higher the merit of each in his own line, the more unlikely
it is that they will justly appreciate each other. Many persons who
never handled a pencil probably do far more justice to Michael Angelo
than would have been done by Gerard Douw, and far more justice to Gerard
Douw than would have been done by Michael Angelo.

It is the same with literature. Thousands, who have no spark of the
genius of Dryden or Wordsworth, do to Dryden the justice which has
never been done by Wordsworth, and to Wordsworth the justice which,
we suspect, would never have been done by Dryden. Gray, Johnson,
Richardson, Fielding, are all highly esteemed by the great body of
intelligent and well informed men. But Gray could see no merit in
Rasselas; and Johnson could see no merit in the Bard. Fielding thought
Richardson a solemn prig; and Richardson perpetually expressed contempt
and disgust for Fielding\x92s lowness.

Mr. Crisp seems, as far as we can judge, to have been a man eminently
qualified for the useful office of a connoisseur. His talents and
knowledge fitted him to appreciate justly almost every species of
intellectual superiority. As an adviser he was inestimable. Nay, he
might probably have held a respectable rank as a writer, if he would
have confined himself to some department of literature in which nothing
more than sense, taste, and reading was required. Unhappily he set his
heart on being a great poet, wrote a tragedy in five acts on the death
of Virginia, and offered it to Garrick, who was his personal friend.
Garrick read, shook his head, and expressed a doubt whether it would
be wise in Mr. Crisp to stake a reputation, which stood high, on the
success of such a piece. But {262}the author, blinded by ambition, set
in motion a machinery such as none could long resist. His intercessors
were the most eloquent man and the most lovely woman of that veneration.
Pitt was induced to read Virginia, and to pronounce it excellent. Lady
Coventry, with fingers which might have furnished a model to sculptors,
forced the manuscript into the reluctant hand of the manager; and, in
the year 1754, the play was brought forward.

Nothing that skill or friendship could do was omitted. Garrick wrote
both prologue and epilogue. The zealous friends of the author filled
every box; and, by their strenuous exertions, the life of the play
was prolonged during ten nights. But, though there was no clamorous
reprobation, it was universally felt that the attempt had failed. When
Virginia was printed, the public disappointment was even greater than
at the representation. The critics, the Monthly Reviewers in particular,
fell on plot, characters, and diction without mercy, but, we fear, not
without justice. We have never met with a copy of the play; but, if we
may judge from the scene which is extracted in the Gentleman\x92s Magazine,
and which does not appear to have been malevolently selected, we should
say that nothing but the acting of Garrick, and the partiality of the
audience, could have saved so feeble and unnatural a drama from instant

The ambition of the poet was still unsubdued. When the London season
closed, he applied himself vigorously to the work of removing blemishes.
He does not seem to have suspected, what we are strongly inclined to
suspect, that the whole piece was one blemish, and that the passages
which were meant to be fine, were, in truth, bursts of that tame
extravagance into {263}which writers fall, when they set themselves
to be sublime and pathetic in spite of nature. He omitted, added,
retouched, and flattered himself with hopes of a complete success in the
following year; but in the following year, Garrick showed no disposition
to bring the amended tragedy on the stage. Solicitation and remonstrance
were tried in vain. Lady Coventry, drooping under that malady which
seems ever to select what is loveliest for its prey, could render
no assistance. The manager\x92s language was civilly evasive; but his
resolution was inflexible.

Crisp had committed a great error; but he had escaped with a very slight
penance. His play had not been hooted from the boards. It had, on the
contrary, been better received than many very estimable performances
have been, than Johnson\x92s Irene, for example, or Goldsmith\x92s Goodnatured
Man. Had Crisp been wise, he would have thought himself happy in having
purchased selfknowledge so cheap. He would have relinquished, without
vain repinings, the hope of poetical distinction, and would have turned
to the many sources of happiness which he still possessed. Had he been,
on the other hand, an unfeeling and unblushing dunce, he would have gone
on writing scores of bad tragedies in defiance of censure and derision.
But he had too much sense to risk a second defeat, yet too little sense
to bear his first defeat like a man. The fatal delusion that he was a
great dramatist, had taken firm possession of his mind. His failure he
attributed to every cause except the true one. He complained of the ill
will of Garrick, who appears to have done for the play every thing that
ability and zeal could do, and who, from selfish motives, would, of
course, have been well pleased if Virginia {264}had been as successful
as the Beggar\x92s Opera. Nay, Crisp complained of the languor of the
friends whose partiality had given him three benefit nights to which he
had no claim. He complained of the injustice of the spectators, when, in
truth, he ought to have been grateful for their unexampled patience. He
lost his temper and spirits, and became a cynic and a hater of mankind.
From London he retired to Hampton, and from Hampton to a solitary and
long deserted mansion, built on a common in one of the wildest tracts
of Surrey. No road, not even a sheepwalk, connected his lonely dwelling
with the abodes of men. The place of his retreat was strictly concealed
from his old associates. In the spring he sometimes emerged, and was
seen at exhibitions and concerts in London. But he soon disappeared, and
hid himself, with no society but his books, in his dreary hermitage.
He survived his failure about thirty years. A new generation sprang up
around him. No memory of his bad verses remained among men. His very
name was forgotten. How complete the world had lost sight of him,
will appear from a single circumstance. We looked for him in a copious
Dictionary of Dramatic Authors published while he was still alive, and
we found only that Mr. Henry Crisp, of the Custom House, had written a
play called Virginia, acted in 1754. To the last, however, the unhappy
man continued to brood over the injustice of the manager and the pit,
and tried to convince himself and others that he had missed the highest
literary honours, only because he had omitted some fine passages in
compliance with Garrick\x92s judgment. Alas, for human nature, that the
wounds of vanity should smart and bleed so much longer than the
wounds of affection! Few people, we believe, whose nearest friends and
relations died {265}in 1754, had any acute feeling of the loss in 1782.
Dear sisters, and favourite daughters, and brides snatched away before
the honeymoon was passed, had been forgotten, or were remembered only
with a tranquil regret. But Samuel Crisp was still mourning for
his tragedy, like Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be
comforted. \x93Never,\x94 such was his language twenty-eight years after his
disaster, \x93never give up or alter a tittle unless it perfectly coincides
with your own inward feelings. I can say this to my sorrow and my cost.
But mum!\x94 Soon after these words were written, his life, a life which
might have been eminently useful and happy, ended in the same gloom in
which, during more than a quarter of a century, it had been passed.
We have thought it worth while to rescue from oblivion this curious
fragment of literary history. It seems to us at once ludicrous,
melancholy, and full of instruction.

Crisp was an old and very intimate friend of the Burneys. To them alone
was confided the name of the desolate old hall in which he hid himself
like a wild beast in a den. For them were reserved such remains of his
humanity as had survived the failure of his play. Frances Burney he
regarded as his daughter. He called her his Fannikin; and she in return
called him her dear Daddy. In truth, he seems to have done much more
than her real parents for the development of her intellect; for though
he was a bad poet, he was a scholar, a thinker, and an excellent
counsellor. He was particularly fond of the Concerts in Poland Street.
They had, indeed, been commenced at his suggestion, and when he visited
London he constantly attended them. But when he grew old, and when gout,
brought on partly by mental irritation, confined him to his retreat, he
was desirous of having a glimpse of that gay {266}and brilliant world
from which he was exiled, and he pressed Fannikin to send him full
accounts of her father\x92s evening parties. A few of her letters to
him have been published; and it is impossible to read them without
discerning in them all the powers which afterwards produced Evelina and
Cecilia, the quickness in catching every odd peculiarity of character
and manner, the skill in grouping, the humour, often richly comic,
sometimes even farcical.

Fanny\x92s propensity to novel writing had for a time been kept down. It
now rose up stronger than ever. The heroes and heroines of the tales
which had perished in the flames, were still present to the eye of her
mind. One favourite story, in particular, haunted her imagination. It
was about a certain Caroline Evelyn, a beautiful damsel who made an
unfortunate love match, and died, leaving an infant daughter. Frances
began to image to herself the various scenes, tragic and comic, through
which the poor motherless girl, highly connected on one side, meanly
connected on the other, might have to pass. A crowd of unreal things,
good and bad, grave and ludicrous, surrounded the pretty, timid, young
orphan; a coarse sea captain; an ugly insolent fop, blazing in a superb
court dress; another fop, as ugly and as insolent, but lodged on Snow
Hill, and tricked out in secondhand finery for the Hampstead ball; an
old woman, all wrinkles and rouge, flirting her fan with the air of a
miss of seventeen, and screaming in a dialect made up of vulgar French
and vulgar English; a poet lean and ragged, with a broad Scotch accent.
By degrees these shadows acquired stronger and stronger consistence; the
impulse which urged Frances to write became irresistible; and the result
was the history of Evelina. {267}Then came, naturally enough, a wish,
mingled with many fears, to appear before the public; for, timid as
Frances was, and bashful, and altogether unaccustomed to hear her
own praises, it is clear that she wanted neither a strong passion for
distinction, nor a just confidence in her own powers. Her scheme was to
become, if possible, a candidate for fame without running any risk of
disgrace. She had not money to bear the expense of printing. It was
therefore necessary that some bookseller should be induced to take the
risk; and such a bookseller was not readily found. Dodsley refused even
to look at the manuscript unless he were intrusted with the name of
the author. A publisher in Fleet Street, named Lowndes, was more
complaisant. Some correspondence took place between this person and
Miss Burney, who took the name of Grafton, and desired that the letters
addressed to her might be left at the Orange Coffeehouse. But, before
the bargain was finally struck, Fanny thought it her duty to obtain her
father\x92s consent. She told him that she had written a book, that she
wished to have his permission to publish it anonymously, but that she
hoped that he would not insist upon seeing it. What followed may serve
to illustrate what we meant when we said that Dr. Burney was as bad a
father as so goodhearted a man could possibly be. It never seems to have
crossed his mind that Fanny was about to take a step on which the whole
happiness of her life might depend, a step which might raise her to an
honourable eminence, or cover her with ridicule and contempt. Several
people had already been trusted, and strict concealment was therefore
not to be expected. On so grave an occasion, it was surely his duty to
give his best counsel to his daughter, to win her confidence, to prevent
her from {268}exposing herself if her book were a bad one, and, if it
were a good one, to see that the terms which she made with the publisher
were likely to be beneficial to her. Instead of this, He only stared,
burst out a laughing, kissed her, gave her leave to do as she liked,
and never even asked the name of her work. The contract with Lowndes was
speedily concluded. Twenty pounds were given for the copyright, and were
accepted by Fanny with delight. Her father\x92s inexcusable neglect of his
duty happily caused her no worse evil than the loss of twelve or fifteen
hundred pounds.

After many delays Evelina appeared in January, 1778. Poor Fanny was sick
with terror, and durst hardly stir out of doors. Some days passed before
any thing was heard of the book. It had, indeed, nothing but its own
merits to push it into public favour. Its author was unknown. The house
by which it was published, was not, we believe, held in high estimation.
No body of partisans had been engaged to applaud. The better class of
readers expected little from a novel about a young lady\x92s entrance into
the world. There was, indeed, at that time a disposition among the most
respectable people to condemn novels generally: nor was this disposition
by any means without excuse; for works of that sort were then almost
always silly, and very frequently wicked.

Soon, however, the first faint accents of praise began to be heard. The
keepers of the circulating libraries reported that everybody was asking
for Evelina, and that some person had guessed Anstey to be the author.
Then came a favourable notice in the London Review; then another still
more favourable in the Monthly. And now the book found its way to tables
which had seldom been polluted by marble {269}covered volumes. Scholars
and statesmen, who contemptuously abandoned the crowd of romances to
Miss Lydia Languish and Miss Sukey Saunter, were not ashamed to own that
they could not tear themselves away from Evelina. Fine carriages and
rich liveries, not often seen east of Temple Bar, were attracted to the
publisher\x92s shop in Fleet Street. Lowndes was daily questioned about the
author, but was himself as much in the dark as any of the questioners.
The mystery, however, could not remain a mystery long. It was known to
brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins: and they were far too proud
and too happy to be discreet. Dr. Burney wept over the book in rapture.
Daddy Crisp shook his fist at his Fannikin in affectionate anger at not
having been admitted to her confidence. The truth was whispered to Mrs.
Thrale; and then it began to spread fast.

The book had been admired while it was ascribed to men of letters long
conversant with the world, and accustomed to composition. But when it
was known that a reserved, silent young woman had produced the best
work of fiction that had appeared since the death of Smollett,
the acclamations were redoubled. What she had done was, indeed,
extraordinary. But, as usual, various reports improved the story till
it became miraculous. Evelina, it is said, was the work of a girl of
seventeen. Incredible as this tale was, it continued to be repeated down
to our own time. Frances was too honest to confirm it. Probably she was
too much a woman to contradict it; and it was long before any of her
detractors thought of this mode of annoyance. Yet there was no want of
low minds and bad hearts in the generation which witnessed her first
appearance. There was the envious Kenrick {270}and the savage Wolcot,
the asp George Steevens, and the polecat John Williams. It did not,
however, occur to them to search the parish register of Lynn, in order
that they might be able to twit a lady with having concealed her age.
That truly chivalrous exploit was reserved for a bad writer of our own
time, whose spite she had provoked by not furnishing him with materials
for a worthless edition of Boswell\x92s Life of Johnson, some sheets of
which our readers have doubtless seen round parcels of better books.

But we must return to our story. The triumph was complete. The timid and
obscure girl found herself on the highest pinnacle of fame. Great men,
on whom she had gazed at a distance with humble reverence, addressed
her with admiration, tempered by the tenderness due to her sex and age.
Burke, Windham, Gibbon, Reynolds, Sheridan, were among her most ardent
eulogists. Cumberland acknowledged her merit, after his fashion,
by biting his lips and wriggling in his chair whenever her name was
mentioned. But it was at Streatham that she tasted, in the highest
perfection, the sweets of flattery, mingled with the sweets of
friendship. Mrs. Thrale, then at the height of prosperity and
popularity, with gay spirits, quick wit, showy though superficial
acquirements, pleasing though not refined manners, a singularly amiable
temper, and a loving heart, felt towards Fanny as towards a younger
sister. With the Thrales Johnson was domesticated. He was an old friend
of Dr. Burney; but he had probably taken little notice of Dr. Burney\x92s
daughters, and Fanny, we imagine, had never in her life dared to speak
to him, unless to ask whether he wanted a nineteenth or a twentieth cup
of tea. He was charmed by her tale, and preferred it to the novels of
Fielding, to {271}whom, indeed, he had always been grossly unjust. He
did not, indeed, carry his partiality so far as to place Evelina by the
side of Clarissa and Sir Charles Grandison; yet he said that his little
favourite had done enough to have made even Richardson feel uneasy. With
Johnson\x92s cordial approbation of the book was mingled a fondness, half
gallant half paternal, for the writer; and this fondness his age and
character entitled him to show without restraint. He began by putting
her hand to his lips. But he soon clasped her in his huge arms, and
implored her to be a good girl. She was his pet, his dear love, his dear
little Burney, his little character-monger. At one time, he broke forth
in praise of the good taste of her caps. At another time he insisted on
teaching her Latin. That, with all his coarseness and irritability, he
was a man of sterling benevolence, has long been acknowledged. But how
gentle and endearing his deportment could he, was not known till the
Recollections of Madame D\x92Arblay were published.

We have mentioned a few of the most eminent of those who paid their
homage to the author of Evelina. The crowd of inferior admirers would
require a catalogue as long as that in the second book of the Iliad. In
that catalogue would be Mrs. Cholmondeley, the sayer of odd things,
and Seward, much given to yawning, and Baretti, who slew the man in the
Haymarket, and Paoli, talking broken English, and Langton, taller by the
head than any other member of the club, and Lady Millar, who kept a vase
wherein fools were wont to put bad verses, and Jerningham, who wrote
verses fit to be put into the vase of Lady Millar, and Dr. Franklin,
not, as some have dreamed, the great Pennsylvanian Dr. Franklin, who
could not then have paid {272}his respects to Miss Burney without much
risk of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, but Dr. Franklin the less.

[Illustration: 0286]

It would not have been surprising if such success had turned even a
strong head, and corrupted even a generous and affectionate nature. But,
in the Diary, we can find no trace of any feeling inconsistent with a
truly modest and amiable disposition. There is, indeed, abundant proof
that Frances enjoyed with an intense, though a troubled, joy, the
honours which her genius had won; but it is equally clear that her
happiness sprang from the happiness of her father, her sister and her
dear Daddy Crisp. While flattered by the great, the opulent, and the
learned, while followed along the Steyne at Brighton, and the Pantiles
at Tunbridge Wells, by the gaze of admiring crowds, her heart seems
to have been still with the little domestic circle in Saint Martin\x92s
Street. If she recorded with minute diligence all the compliments,
delicate and coarse, which she heard wherever she turned, she recorded
them for the eyes of two or three persons who had loved her from
infancy, who had loved her in obscurity, and to whom her fame gave the
purest and most exquisite delight. Nothing can be more unjust than to
confound these outpourings of a kind heart, sure of perfect sympathy,
with the egotism of a bluestocking, who prates to all who come near her
about her own novel or her own volume of sonnets.

It was natural that the triumphant issue of Miss Burney\x92s first venture
should tempt her to try a second. Evelina, though it had raised her
fame, had added {273}nothing to her fortune. Some of her friends urged
her to write for the stage. Johnson promised to give her his advice as
to the composition. Murphy, who was supposed to understand the temper of
the pit as well as any man of his time, undertook to instruct her as
to stage effect. Sheridan declared that he would accept a play from her
without even reading it. Thus encouraged, she wrote a comedy named The
Witlings. Fortunately it was never acted or printed. We can, we think,
easily perceive, from the little which is said on the subject in the
Diary, that The Witlings would have been damned, and that. Murphy and
Sheridan thought so, though they were too polite to say so. Happily
Frances had a friend who was not afraid to give her pain. Crisp, wiser
for her than he had been for himself, read the manuscript in his lonely
retreat, and manfully told her that she had failed, that to remove
blemishes here and there would be useless, that the piece had abundance
of wit but no interest, that it was bad as a whole, that it would remind
every reader of the _Femmes Savantes_, which, strange to say, she had
never read, and that she could not sustain so close a comparison with
Moliere. This opinion, in which Dr. Burney concurred, was sent to
Frances, in what she called \x93a hissing, groaning, catcalling epistle.\x94
 But she had too much sense not to know that it was better to be hissed
and catcalled by her Daddy, than by a whole sea of heads in the pit of
Drury Lane Theatre: and she had too good a heart not to be grateful for
so rare an act of friendship. She returned an answer, which shows
how well she deserved to have a judicious, faithful, and affectionate
adviser. \x93I intend,\x94 she wrote, \x93to console myself for your censure by
this greatest proof I have ever received of {274}the sincerity, candour,
and, let me add, esteem, of my dear daddy. And as I happen to love
myself more than my play, this consolation is not a very trifling one.
This, however, seriously I do believe, that when my two daddies put
their heads together to concert that hissing, groaning, catcalling
epistle they sent me, they felt as sorry for poor little Miss Bayes as
she could possibly do for herself. You see I do not attempt to repay
your frankness with an air of pretended carelessness. But, though
somewhat disconcerted just now, I will promise not to let my vexation
live out another day. Adieu, my dear daddy, I won\x92t he mortified, and
I won\x92t be _downed_; but I will be proud to find I have, out of my own
family, as well as in it, a friend who loves me well enough to speak
plain truth to me.\x94

Frances now turned from her dramatic schemes to an undertaking far
better suited to her talents. She determined to write a new tale, on a
plan excellently contrived for the display of the powers in which her
superiority to other writers lay. It was in truth a grand and various
picture gallery, which presented to the eye a long series of men and
women, each marked by some strong peculiar feature. There were avarice
and prodigality, the pride of blood and the pride of money, morbid
restlessness and morbid apathy, frivolous garrulity, supercilious
silence, a Democritus to laugh at every thing, and a Heraclitus to
lament over every thing. The work proceeded fast, and in twelve months
was completed. It wanted something of the simplicity which had been
among the most attractive charms of Evelina; but it furnished ample
proof that the four years, which had elapsed since Evelina appeared, had
not been unprofitably spent. Those who {275}saw Cecilia in manuscript
pronounced it the best novel of the age. Mrs. Thrale laughed and wept
over it. Crisp was even vehement in applause, and offered to insure
the rapid and complete success of the book for half a crown. What Miss
Burney received for the copyright is not mentioned in the Diary; but we
have observed several expressions from which we infer that the sum
was considerable. That the sale would be great nobody could doubt; and
Frances now had shrewd and experienced advisers, who would not suffer
her to wrong herself. We have been told that the publishers gave her two
thousand pounds, and we have no doubt that they might have given a still
larger sum without being losers.

Cecilia was published in the summer of 1782. The curiosity of the town
was intense. We have been informed by persons who remember those days
that no romance of Sir Walter Scott was more impatiently awaited, or
more eagerly snatched from the counters of the booksellers. High as
public expectation was, it was amply satisfied; and Cecilia was placed,
by general acclamation, among the classical novels of England.

Miss Burney was now thirty. Her youth had been singularly prosperous;
but clouds soon began to gather over that clear and radiant dawn. Events
deeply painful to a heart so kind as that of Frances followed each other
in rapid succession. She was first called upon to attend the deathbed of
her best friend, Samuel Crisp. When she returned to St. Martin\x92s Street,
after performing this melancholy duty, she was appalled by hearing that
Johnson had been struck with paralysis; and, not many months later, she
parted from him for the last time with solemn tenderness. He wished to
look on her once more; and on the day before his {276}death she long
remained in tears on the stairs leading to his bedroom, in the hope
that she might be called in to receive his blessing. He was then sinking
last, and though he sent her an affectionate message, was unable to see
her. But this was not the worst. There are separations far more cruel
than those which are made by death. She might weep with proud affection
for Crisp and Johnson. She had to blush as well as to weep for Mrs.

Life, however, still smiled upon Frances. Domestic happiness,
friendship, independence, leisure, letters, all these things were hers;
and she flung them all away.

Among the distinguished persons to whom she had been introduced, none
appears to have stood higher in her regard than Mrs. Delany. This lady
was an interesting and venerable relic of a past age. She was the niece
of George Granville, Lord Lansdowne, who, in his youth, exchanged verses
and compliments with Edmund Waller, and who was among the first to
applaud the opening genius of Pope. She had married Dr. Delany, a
man known to his contemporaries as a profound scholar and an eloquent
preacher, but remembered in our time chiefly as one of that small circle
in which the fierce spirit of Swift, tortured by disappointed ambition,
by remorse, and by the approaches of madness, sought for amusement and
repose. Doctor Delany had long been dead. His widow, nobly descended,
eminently accomplished, and retaining, in spite of the infirmities
of advanced age, the vigour of her faculties and the serenity of her
temper, enjoyed and deserved the favour of the royal family. She had a
pension of three hundred a year; and a house at Windsor, belonging to
the crown, had been fitted up for her accommodation. At this house the
King and Queen sometimes {277}called, and found a very natural pleasure
in thus catching an occasional glimpse of the private life of English

In December, 1785, Miss Burney was on a visit to Mrs. Delany at Windsor.
The dinner was over. The old lady was taking a nap. Her grandniece,
a little girl of seven, was playing at some Christmas game with
the visitors, when the door opened, and a stout gentleman entered
unannounced, with a star on his breast, and \x93What? what? what?\x94 in his
mouth. A cry of \x93The King!\x94 was set up. A general scampering followed.
Miss Burney owns that she could not have been more terrified if she had
seen a ghost. But Mrs. Delany came forward to pay her duty to her royal
friend, and the disturbance was quieted. Frances was then presented, and
underwent a long examination and cross-examination about all that she
had written and all that she meant to write. The Queen soon made her
appearance, and his Majesty repeated, for the benefit of his consort,
the information which he had extracted from Miss Burney. The good
nature of the royal pair might have softened even the authors of the
Probationary Odes, and could not but be delightful to a young lady who
had been brought up a Tory. In a few days the visit was repeated. Miss
Burney was more at ease than before. His Majesty, instead of seeking
for information, condescended to impart it, and passed sentence on many
great writers, English and foreign. Voltaire he pronounced a monster.
Rousseau he liked rather better. \x93But was there ever,\x94 he cried, \x93such
stuff as great part of Shakspeare? Only one must not sav so. But what
think you? What? Is there not sad stuff? What? What?\x94

The next day Frances enjoyed the privilege of listening {278}to some
equally valuable criticism uttered by the Queen touching Goethe and
Klopstock, and might have learned an important lesson of economy from
the mode in which her Majesty\x92s library had been formed. \x93I picked the
book up on a stall,\x94 said the Queen. \x93Oh, it is amazing what good books
there are on stalls!\x94 Mrs. Delany, who seems to have understood from
these words that her Majesty was in the habit of exploring the booths
of Moorfields and Holywell Street in person, could not suppress an
exclamation of surprise. \x93Why,\x94 said the Queen, \x93I don\x92t pick them up
myself. But I have a servant very clever; and, if they are not to be
had at the booksellers, they are not for me more than for another.\x94 Miss
Burney describes this conversation as delightful; and, indeed we cannot
wonder that, with her literary tastes, she should be delighted at
hearing in how magnificent a manner the greatest lady in the land
encouraged literature.

The truth is, that Frances was fascinated by the condescending kindness
of the two great personages to whom she had been presented. Her father
was even more infatuated than herself. The result was a step of which we
cannot think with patience, but which, recorded as it is, with all its
consequences, in these volumes, deserves at least this praise, that it
has furnished a most impressive warning.

A German lady of the name of Haggerdorn, one of the keepers of the
Queen\x92s robes, retired about this time; and her Majesty offered the
vacant post to Miss Burney. When we consider that Miss Burney was
decidedly the most popular writer of fictitious narrative then living,
that competence, if not opulence, was within her reach, and that she
was more than usually happy in her domestic circle, and when we compare
{279}the sacrifice which she was invited to make with the remuneration
which was held out to her, we are divided between laughter and

What was demanded of her was that she should consent to be almost as
completely separated from her family and friends as if she had gone to
Calcutta, and almost as close a prisoner as if she had been sent to gaol
for a libel; that with talents which had instructed and delighted the
highest living minds, she should now be employed only in mixing snuff
and sticking pins; that she should be summoned by a waiting woman\x92s bell
to a waiting woman\x92s duties; that she should pass her whole life under
the restraints of a paltry etiquette, should sometimes fast till she was
ready to swoon with hunger, should sometimes stand till her knees gave
way with fatigue; that she should not dare to speak or move without
considering how her mistress might like her words and gestures. Instead
of those distinguished men and women, the flower of all political
parties, with whom she had been in the habit of mixing on terms of equal
friendship, she was to have for her perpetual companion the chief
keeper of the robes, an old hag from Germany, of mean understanding, of
insolent manners, and of temper which, naturally savage, had now been
exasperated by disease. Now and then, indeed, poor Frances might console
herself for the loss of Burke\x92s and Windham\x92s society, by joining in the
\x93celestial colloquy sublime\x94 of his Majesty\x92s Equerries.

And what was the consideration for which she was to sell herself to this
slavery? A peerage in her own right? A pension of two thousand a year
for life? A seventy-four for her brother in the navy? A deanery for her
brother in the church? Not so. The price at which she was valued was her
board, her lodging, the {280}attendance of a manservant, and two hundred
pounds a year.

The man who, even when hard pressed by hunger, sells his birthright for
a mess of pottage, is unwise. But what shall we say of him who parts
with his birthright, and does not get even the pottage in return? It is
not necessary to inquire whether opulence be an adequate compensation
for the sacrifice of bodily and mental freedom; for Frances Burney paid
for leave to be a prisoner and a menial. It was evidently understood as
one of the terms of her engagement, that, while she was a member of the
royal household, she was not to appear before the public as an author:
and, even had there been no such understanding, her avocations were such
as left her no leisure for any considerable intellectual effort. That
her place was incompatible with her literary pursuits was indeed frankly
acknowledged by the King when she resigned. \x93She has given up,\x94 he said,
\x93five years of her pen.\x94 That during those five years she might, without
painful exertion, without any exertion that would not have been a
pleasure, have earned enough to buy an annuity for life much larger than
the precarious salary which she received at court, is quite certain. The
same income, too, which in Saint Martin\x92s Street would have afforded her
every comfort, must have been found scanty at Saint James\x92s. We cannot
venture to speak confidently of the price of millinery and jewellery;
but we are greatly deceived if a lady who had to attend Queen Charlotte
on many public occasions, could possibly save a farthing out of a salary
of two hundred a year. The principle of the arrangement was, in short,
simply this, that Frances Burney should become a slave, and should be
rewarded by being made a beggar. {281}With what object their Majesties
brought her to their palace, we must own ourselves unable to conceive.
Their object could not be to encourage her literary exertions; for they
took her from a situation in which it was almost certain that she would
write, and put her into a situation in which it was impossible for her
to write. Their object could not be to promote her pecuniary interest;
for they took her from a situation where she was likely to become rich,
and put her into a situation in which she could not but continue poor.
Their object could not be to obtain an eminently useful waiting maid;
for it is clear that, though Miss Burney was the only woman of her time
who could have described the death of Harrel, thousands might have been
found more expert in tying ribands and filling snuff boxes. To grant
her a pension on the civil list would have been an act of judicious
liberality honourable to the court. If this was impracticable, the
next best thing was to let her alone. That the King and Queen meant her
nothing; but kindness, we do not in the least doubt. But their kindness
was the kindness of persons raised high above the mass of mankind,
accustomed to be addressed with profound deference, accustomed to see
all who approach them mortified by their coldness and elated by their
smiles. They fancied that to be noticed by them, to be near them, to
serve them, was in itself a kind of happiness; and that Frances Burney
ought to be full of gratitude for being permitted to purchase, by the
sacrifice of health, wealth, freedom, domestic affection, and literary
fame, the privilege of standing behind a royal chair, and holding a pair
of royal gloves.

And who can blame them? Who can wonder that princes should be under
such a delusion, when they are encouraged in it by the very persons who
suffer {282}from it most cruelly? Was it to be expected that George
the Third and Queen Charlotte should understand the interest of Frances
Burney better, or promote it with more zeal than herself and her father?
No deception was practised. The conditions of the house of bondage were
set forth with all simplicity. The hook was presented without a bait;
the net was spread in sight of the bird: and the naked hook was greedily
swallowed, and the silly bird made haste to entangle herself in the net.

It is not strange indeed that an invitation to court should have caused
a fluttering in the bosom of an inexperienced young woman. But it was
the duty of the parent to watch over the child, and to show her that on
one side were only infantine vanities and chimerical hopes, on the
other liberty, peace of mind, affluence, social enjoyments, honourable
distinctions. Strange to say, the only hesitation was on the part of
Frances. Dr. Burney was transported out of himself with delight. Not
such are the raptures of a Circassian father who has sold his pretty
daughter well to a Turkish slavemerchant. Yet Dr. Burney was an amiable
man, a man of good abilities, a man who had seen much of the world. But
he seems to have thought that going to court was like going to heaven;
that to see princes and princesses was a kind of beatific vision; that
the exquisite felicity enjoyed by royal persons was not confined to
themselves, but was communicated by some mysterious efflux or reflection
to all who were suffered to stand at their toilettes, or to bear their
trains. He overruled all his daughter\x92s objections, and himself escorted
her to her prison. The door closed. The key was turned. She, looking
back with tender regret on all that she had {283}left, and forward with
anxiety and terror to the new life on which she was entering, was unable
to speak or stand; and he went on his way homeward rejoicing in her
marvellous prosperity.

And now began a slavery of five years, of five years taken from the best
part of life, and wasted in menial drudgery or in recreations duller
than even menial drudgery, under galling restraints and amidst
unfriendly or uninteresting companions. The history of an ordinary day
was this. Miss Burney had to rise and dress herself early, that she
might be ready to answer the royal bell, which rang at half after seven.
Till about eight she attended in the Queen\x92s dressing room, and had
the honour of lacing her august mistress\x92s stays, and of putting on
the hoop, gown, and neckhandkerchief. The morning was chiefly spent in
rummaging drawers and laying fine clothes in their proper places. Then
the Queen was to be powdered and dressed for the day. Twice a week her
Majesty\x92s hair was curled and craped; and this operation appears to
have added a full hour to the business of the toilette. It was generally
three before Miss Burney was at liberty. Then she had two hours at her
own disposal. To these hours we owe great part of her Diary. At five
she had to attend her colleague, Madame Schwellenberg, a hateful old
toad-eater, as illiterate as a chambermaid, as proud as a whole German
Chapter, rude, peevish, unable to bear solitude, unable to conduct
herself with common decency in society. With this delightful associate,
Frances Burney had to dine, and pass the evening. The pair generally
remained together from five to eleven, and often had no other company
the whole time, except during the hour from eight to nine, when {284}the
equerries came to tea. If poor Frances attempted to escape to her own
apartment, and to forget her wretchedness over a hook, the execrable old
woman railed and stormed, and complained that she was neglected.
Yet, when Frances stayed, she was constantly assailed with insolent
reproaches. Literary fame was, in the eyes of the German crone, a
blemish, a proof that the person who enjoyed it was meanly born, and out
of the pale of good society. All her scanty stock of broken English was
employed to express the contempt with which she regarded the author of
Evelina and Cecilia. Frances detested cards, and indeed knew nothing
about them; but she soon found that the least miserable way of
passing an evening with Madame Schwellenberg was at the cardtable, and
consented, with patient sadness, to give hours, which might have called
forth the laughter and the tears of many generations, to the king of
clubs and the knave of spades. Between eleven and twelve the bell
rang again. Miss Burney had to pass twenty minutes or half an hour in
undressing the Queen, and was then at liberty to retire, and to dream
that she was chatting with her brother by the quiet hearth in Saint
Martin\x92s Street, that she was the centre of an admiring assemblage at
Mrs. Crewe\x92s, that Burke was calling her the first woman of the age, or
that Dilly was giving her a cheque for two thousand guineas.

Men, we must, suppose, are less patient than women; for we are utterly
at a loss to conceive how any human being could endure such a life,
while there remained a vacant garret in Grub Street, a crossing in want
of a sweeper, a parish workhouse, or a parish vault. And it was for
such a life that Frances Burney had given up liberty and peace, a
happy fireside, {285}attached friends, a wide and splendid circle of
acquaintance, intellectual pursuits in which she was qualified to excel,
and the sure hope of what to her would have been affluence.

There is nothing; new under the sun. The last great master of Attic
eloquence and Attic wit has left us a forcible and touching description
of the misery of a man of letters, who, lured by hopes similar to those
of Frances, had entered the service of one of the magnates of Rome.
\x93Unhappy that I am,\x94 cries the victim of his own childish ambition:
\x93would nothing content me but that I must leave mine old pursuits and
mine old companions, and the life which was without care, and the sleep
which had no limit save mine own pleasure, and the walks which I was
free to take where I listed, and fling myself into the lowest pit of
a dungeon like this? And, O God! for what? Was there no way by which I
might have enjoyed in freedom comforts even greater than those which I
now earn by servitude? Like a lion which has been made so tame that men
may lead him about by a thread, I am dragged up and down, with broken
and humbled spirit, at the heels of those to whom, in mine own domain, I
should have been an object of awe and wonder. And, worst of all, I feel
that here I gain no credit, that here I give no pleasure. The talents
and accomplishments, which charmed a far different circle, are here out
of place. I am rude in the arts of palaces, and can ill bear comparison
with those whose calling, from their youth up, has been to flatter and
to sue. Have I, then, two lives, that, after I have wasted one in the
service of others, there may yet remain to me a second, which I may live
unto myself?\x94

Now and then, indeed, events occurred which disturbed {286}the wretched
monotony of Frances Burney\x92s life. The court moved from Kew to Windsor,
and from Windsor back to Kew. One dull colonel went out of waiting, and
another dull colonel came into waiting. An impertinent servant made a
blunder about tea, and caused a misunderstanding: between the gentlemen
and the ladies. A half witted French Protestant minister talked oddly
about conjugal fidelity. An unlucky member of the household mentioned
a passage in the Morning Herald, reflecting on the Queen; and forthwith
Madame Schwellenberg began to storm in bad English, and told him that he
made her \x93what you call perspire!\x94

A more important occurrence was the King\x92s visit to Oxford. Miss Burney
went in the royal train to Nuneham, was utterly neglected there in the
crowd, and could with difficulty find a servant to show the way to her
bedroom, or a hairdresser to arrange her curls. She had the honour of
entering Oxford in the last of a long string of carriages which formed
the royal procession, of walking after the Queen all day through
refectories and chapels, and of standing, half dead with fatigue and
hunger, while her august mistress was seated at an excellent cold
collation. At Magdalene College, Frances was left for a moment in a
parlour, where she sank down on a chair. A goodnatured equerry saw that
she was exhausted, and shared with her some apricots and bread, which
he had wisely put into his pockets. At that moment the door opened; the
Queen entered; the wearied attendants sprang up; the bread and fruit
were hastily concealed. \x93I found,\x94 says poor Miss Burney, \x93that our
appetites were to be supposed annihilated, at the same moment that our
strength was to be invincible.\x94 {287}Yet Oxford, seen even under such
disadvantages, \x93revived in her,\x94 to use her own words, \x93a consciousness
to pleasure which had long lain nearly dormant.\x94 She forgot, during one
moment, that she was a waiting maid, and felt as a woman of true
genius might be expected to feel amidst venerable remains of antiquity,
beautiful works of art, vast repositories of knowledge, and memorials of
the illustrious dead. Had she still been what she was before her father
induced her to take the most fatal step of her life, we can easily
imagine what pleasure she would have derived from a visit to the noblest
of English cities. She might, indeed, have been forced to travel in a
hack chaise, and might not have worn so fine a gown of Chamb\xE9ry gauze as
that in which she tottered after the royal party; but with what delight
would she have then paced the cloisters of Magdalene, compared the
antique gloom of Merton with the splendour of Christ Church, and looked
down from the dome of Radcliffe Library on the magnificent sea of
turrets and battlements below! How gladly would learned men have laid
aside for a few hours Pindar\x92s Odes and Aristotle\x92s Ethics, to escort
the author of Cecilia from college to college! What neat little
banquets would she have found set out in their monastic cells! With
what eagerness would pictures, medals, and illuminated missals have been
brought forth from the most mysterious cabinets for her amusement! How
much she would have had to hear and to tell about Johnson, as she walked
over Pembroke, and about Reynolds in the antechapel of New College! But
these indulgences were not for one who had sold herself into bondage.

About eighteen months after the visit to Oxford, another event
diversified the wearisome life which Frances led {288}at court. Warren
Hastings was brought to the bar of the House of Peers. The Queen and
Princesses were present when the trial commenced, and Miss Burney was
permitted to attend. During the subsequent proceedings a day rule for
the same purpose was occasionally granted to her; for the Queen took the
strongest interest in the trial, and, when she could not go herself to
Westminster Hall, liked to receive a report of what had passed from a
person who had singular powers of observation, and who was, moreover,
acquainted with some of the most distinguished managers. The portion
of the Diary which relates to this celebrated proceeding is lively and
picturesque. Yet we read it, we own, with pain; for it seems to us to
prove that the fine understanding of Frances Burney was beginning to
feel the pernicious influence of a mode of life which is as incompatible
with health of mind as the air of the Pomptine marshes with health
of body. From the first day she espouses the cause of Hastings with a
presumptuous vehemence and acrimony quite inconsistent with the modesty
and suavity of her ordinary deportment. She shudders when Burke enters
the Hall at the head of the Commons. She pronounces him the cruel
oppressor of an innocent man. She is at a loss to conceive how the
managers can look at the defendant, and not blush. Windham comes to her
from the manager\x92s box, to offer her refreshment. \x93But,\x94 says she, \x931
could not break bread with him.\x94 Then, again, she exclaims, \x93All, Mr.
Windham, how came you ever engaged in so cruel, so unjust a cause?\x94

\x93Mr. Burke saw me,\x94 she says, \x93and he bowed with the most marked
civility of manner.\x94 This, be it observed, was just after his opening
speech, a speech which had produced a mighty effect, and which,
certainly, {289}no other orator that ever lived could have made. \x93My
curtsy,\x94 she continues, \x93was the most ungrateful, distant, and cold;
I could not do otherwise; so hurt I felt to see him the head of such a
cause.\x94 Now, not only had Burke treated her with constant kindness, but
the very last act which he performed on the day on which he was turned
out of the Pay Office, about four years before this trial, was to make
Doctor Burney organist of Chelsea Hospital. When, at the Westminster
election, Doctor Burney was divided between his gratitude for this
favour and his Tory opinions, Burke in the noblest manner disclaimed
all right to exact a sacrifice of principle. \x93You have little or no
obligations to me,\x94 he wrote; \x93but if you had as many as I really wish
it were in my power, as if is certainly in my desire, to lay on you, I
hope you do not think me capable of conferring them, in order to subject
your mind or your affairs to a painful and mischievous servitude.\x94
 Was this a man to be uncivilly treated by a daughter of Doctor Burney,
because she chose to differ from him respecting a vast and most
complicated question, which he had studied deeply during many years, and
which she had never studied at all? It is clear, from Miss Burney\x92s own
narrative, that when she behaved so unkindly to Mr. Burke, she did not
even know of what Hastings was accused. One thing, however, she must
have known, that Burke had been able to convince a House of Commons,
bitterly prejudiced against himself, that the charges were well founded,
and that Pitt and Dundas had concurred with Fox and Sheridan, in
supporting the impeachment. Surely a woman of far inferior abilities to
Miss Burney might have been expected to see that this never could have
happened unless there had been a strong case {290}against the late
Governor General. And there was, as all reasonable men now admit, a
strong case against him. That there were great public services to be set
off against his great crimes is perfectly true. But his services and his
crimes were equally unknown to the lady who so confidently asserted his
perfect innocence, and imputed to his accusers, that is to say, to all
the greatest men of all parties in the state, not merely error, but
gross injustice and barbarity.

She had, it is true, occasionally seen Mr. Hastings, and had found his
manners and conversation agreeable. But surely she could not be so weak
as to infer from the gentleness of his deportment in the drawing room,
that he was incapable of committing a great state crime, under the
influence of ambition and revenge. A silly Miss, fresh from a boarding
school, might fall into such a mistake; but the woman who had drawn the
character of Mr. Monckton should have known better.

The truth is that she had been too long at Court. She was sinking into
a slavery worse than that of the body. The iron was beginning to enter
into the soul. Accustomed during many months to watch the eye of a
mistress, to receive with boundless gratitude the slightest mark
of royal condescension, to feel wretched at every symptom of royal
displeasure, to associate only with spirits long tamed and broken in,
she was degenerating into something fit for her place. Queen Charlotte
was a violent partisan of Hastings, had received presents from him,
and had so far departed from the severity of her virtue as to lend
her countenance to his wife, whose conduct had certainly been as
reprehensible as that of any of the frail beauties who were then rigidly
excluded from the English Court. {291}The King, it was well known, took
the same side. To the King and Queen all the members ol the household
looked submissively for guidance. The impeachment, therefore, was an
atrocious persecution; the managers were rascals; the defendant was the
most deserving and the worst used man in the kingdom. This was the cant
of the whole palace, from Gold Stick in Waiting, down to the Table
Deckers and Yeomen of the Silver Scullery; and Miss Burney canted like
the rest, though in livelier tones, and with less bitter feelings.

The account which she has given of the King\x92s illness contains much
excellent narrative and description, and will, we think, be as much
valued by the historians of a future age as any equal portion of Pepys\x92
or Evelyn\x92s Diaries. That account shows also how affectionate and
compassionate her nature was. But it shows also, we must say, that her
way of life was rapidly impairing her powers of reasoning and her sense
of justice. We do not mean to discuss, in this place, the question,
whether the views of Mr. Pitt or those of Mr. Fox respecting the regency
were the more correct. It is, indeed, quite needless to discuss that
question: for the censure of Miss Burney falls alike on Pitt and Fox,
on majority and minority. She is angry with the House of Commons for
presuming to inquire whether the King was mad or not, and whether there
was a chance of his recovering his senses. \x93A melancholy day,\x94 she
writes; \x93news bad both at home and abroad. At home the dear unhappy
king still worse; abroad new examinations voted of the physicians. Good
heavens! what an insult does this seem from Parliamentary power, to
investigate and bring forth to the world every circumstance of such a
malady as is ever held sacred to secrecy in the most private families!
{292}How indignant we all feel here, no words can say.\x94 It is proper to
observe, that the motion which roused all this indignation at Kew was
made by Mr. Pitt himself. We see, therefore, that the loyalty of the
minister, who was then generally regarded as the most heroic champion
of his Prince, was lukewarm indeed when compared with the boiling
zeal which tilled the pages of the backstairs and the women of the
bedchamber. Of the Regency bill, Pitt\x92s own bill, Miss Burney speaks
with horror. \x93I shuddered,\x94 she says, \x93to hear it named.\x94 And again,
\x93Oh, how dreadful will be the day when that unhappy bill takes place! I
cannot approve the plan of it.\x94 The truth is, that Mr. Pitt, whether a
wise and upright statesman or not, was a statesman; and whatever motives
he might have for imposing restrictions on the regent, felt that in some
way or other there must be some provision made for the execution of some
part of the kingly office, or that no government would be left in the
country. But this was a matter of which the household never thought. It
never occurred, as far as we can see, to the Exons and Keepers of the
Robes, that it was necessary that there should be somewhere or other a
power in the state to pass laws, to preserve order, to pardon criminals,
to fill up offices, to negotiate with foreign governments, to command
the army and navy. Nay, these enlightened politicians, and Miss Burney
among the rest, seem to have thought that any person who considered the
subject with reference to the public interest, showed himself to be a
badhearted man. Nobody wonders at this in a gentleman usher; but it is
melancholy to see genius sinking into such debasement.

During more than two years after the King\x92s recovery, Frances dragged
on a miserable existence at {293}the palace. The consolations, which
had for a time mitigated the wretchedness of servitude, were one by one
withdrawn. Mrs. Delany, whose society had been a great resource when the
Court was at Windsor, was now dead. One of the gentlemen of the royal
establishment, Colonel Digby, appears to have been a man of sense,
of taste, of some reading, and of prepossessing manners. Agreeable
associates were scarce in the prison house, and he and Miss Burney
therefore naturally became attached to each other. She owns that she
valued him as a friend; and it would not have been, strange if his
attentions had led her to entertain for him a sentiment warmer than
friendship. He quitted the Court, and married in a way which astonished
Miss Burney greatly, and which evidently wounded her feelings, and
lowered him in her esteem. The palace grew duller and duller; Madame
Schwellenberg became more and more savage and insolent: and now the
health of poor Frances began to give way; and all who saw her pale face,
her emaciated figure, and her feeble walk, predicted that her sufferings
would soon be over.

Frances uniformly speaks of her royal mistress, and of the princesses,
with respect and affection. The princesses seem to have well deserved
all the praise which is bestowed on them in the Diary. They were,
we doubt not, most amiable women. But \x93the sweet queen,\x94 as she is
constantly called in these volumes, is not by any means an object of
admiration to us. She had undoubtedly sense enough to know what kind of
deportment suited her high station, and self-command enough to maintain
that deportment invariably. She was, in her intercourse with Miss
Burney, generally gracious and affable, sometimes when displeased, cold
and reserved, but never, under any circumstances, rude, {294}peevish,
or violent. She knew how to dispense, gracefully and skilfully, those
little civilities which, when paid by a sovereign, are prized at many
times their intrinsic value; how to pay a compliment; how to lend a
book; how to ask after a relation. But she seems to have been utterly
regardless of the comfort, the health, the life of her attendants, when
her own convenience was concerned. Weak, feverish, hardly able to stand,
Frances had still to rise before seven, in order to dress the sweet
Queen, and to sit up till midnight, in order to undress the sweet Queen.
The indisposition of the handmaid could not, and did not, escape the
notice of her royal mistress. But the established doctrine of the Court
was, that all sickness was to be considered as a pretence until it
proved fatal. The only way in which the invalid could clear herself from
the suspicion of malingering, as it is called in the army, was to go on
lacing and unlacing, till she fell down dead at the royal feet. \x93This,\x94
 Miss Burney wrote, when she was suffering cruelly from sickness,
watching, and labour, \x93is by no means from hardness of heart; for
otherwise. There is no hardness of heart in any one of them; but it is
prejudice and want of personal experience.\x94

Many strangers sympathized with the bodily and mental sufferings of this
distinguished woman. All who saw her saw that her frame was sinking,
that her heart was breaking. The last, it should seem, to observe the
change, was her father. At length, in spite of himself, his eyes were
opened. In May, 1790, his daughter had an interview of three hours with
him, the only long interview which they had had since he took her to
Windsor in 1786. She told him that she was miserable, that she was worn
with attendance and want of sleep, that she had no comfort in life,
nothing {295}to love, nothing to hope, that her family and friends
were to her as though they were not, and were remembered by her as men
remember the dead. From daybreak to midnight the same killing labour,
the same recreations, more hateful than labour itself, followed each
other without variety, without any interval of liberty and repose.

The Doctor was greatly dejected by this news; but was too goodnatured
a man not to say that, if she wished to resign, his house and arms were
open to her. Still, however, he could not bear to remove her from the
Court. His veneration for royalty amounted in truth to idolatry. It can
be compared only to the grovelling superstition of those Syrian devotees
who made their children pass through the fire to Moloch. When he induced
his daughter to accept the place of keeper of the robes, he entertained,
as she tells us, a hope that some worldly advantage or other, not set
down in the contract of service, would be the result of her connection
with the Court. What advantage he expected we do not know, nor did
he probably know himself. But, whatever he expected, he certainly got
nothing. Miss Burney had been hired for board, lodging, and two hundred
a year. Board, lodging, and two hundred a year, she had duly received.
We have looked carefully through the Diary, in the hope of finding some
trace of those extraordinary benefactions on which the Doctor reckoned.
But we can discover only a promise, never performed, of a gown: and for
this promise Miss Burney was expected to return thanks, such as might
have suited the beggar with whom Saint Martin in the legend, divided his
cloak. The experience of four years was, however, insufficient to dispel
the illusion which had taken possession of the {296}Doctor\x92s mind; and,
between the dear father and the sweet Queen, there seemed to be little
doubt that some day or other Frances would drop down a corpse. Six
months had elapsed since the interview between the parent and the
daughter. The resignation was not sent in. The sufferer grew worse and
worse. She took bark; but it soon ceased to produce a beneficial effect.
She was stimulated with wine; she was soothed with opium; but in vain.
Her breath began to fail. The whisper that she was in a decline spread
through the Court. The pains in her side became so severe that she
was forced to crawl from the cardtable of the old Fury to whom she was
tethered, three or four times in an evening, for the purpose of taking
hartshorn. Had she been a negro slave, a humane planter would have
excused her from work. But her Majesty showed no mercy. Thrice a day
the accursed bell still rang; the Queen was still to be dressed for
the morning at seven, and to be dressed for the day at noon, and to be
undressed at midnight.

But there had arisen, in literary and fashionable society, a general
feeling of compassion for Miss Burney, and of indignation against both
her father and the Queen. \x93Is it possible,\x94 said a great French lady
to the Doctor, \x93that your daughter is in a situation where she is never
allowed a holiday?\x94 Horace Walpole wrote to Frances, to express his
sympathy. Boswell, boiling over with goodnatured rage, almost forced an
entrance into the palace to see her. \x93My dear ma\x92am, why do you stay? It
won\x92t do, ma\x92am; you must resign. We can put up with it no longer. Some
very violent measures, I assure you, will be taken. We shall address Dr.
Burney in a body.\x94 Burke and Reynolds, though less noisy, were zealous
{297}in the same cause. Windham spoke to Dr. Burney; but found him still
irresolute. \x93I will set the club upon him,\x94 cried Windham; \x93Miss Burney
has some very true admirers there, and I am sure they will eagerly
assist.\x94 Indeed the Burney family seem to have been apprehensive that
some public affront, such as the Doctor\x92s unpardonable folly, to use the
mildest term, had richly deserved, would be put upon him. The medical
men spoke out, and plainly told him that his daughter must resign or

At last paternal affection, medical authority, and the voice of all
London crying shame, triumphed over Dr. Burney\x92s love of courts. He
determined that Frances should write a letter of resignation. It was
with difficulty that, though her life was at stake, she mustered spirit
to put the paper into the Queen\x92s hands. \x93I could not,\x94 so runs the
Diary, \x93summon courage to present my memorial: my heart always failed
me from seeing the Queen\x92s entire freedom from such an expectation.
For though I was frequently so ill in her presence that I could hardly
stand, I saw she concluded me, while life remained, inevitably hers.\x94

At last with a trembling hand the paper was delivered. Then came the
storm. Juno, as in the \xC6neid, delegated the work of vengeance to Alecto.
The Queen was calm and gentle; but Madame Schwellenberg raved like
a maniac in the incurable ward of Bedlam! Such insolence! Such
ingratitude! Such folly! Would Miss Burney bring utter distraction on
herself and her family? Would she throw away the inestimable advantage
of royal protection? Would she part with privileges which, once
relinquished, could never be regained? It was idle to talk of health and

If people could not live in the palace, the best thing {298}that could
befall them was to die in it. The resignation was not accepted. The
language of the medical men became stronger and stronger. Dr. Burney\x92s
parental fears were fully roused; and he explicitly declared, in a
letter meant to be shown to the Queen, that his daughter must retire.
The Schwellenberg raged like a wild cat. \x93A scene almost horrible
ensued,\x94 says Miss Burney. \x93She was too much enraged for disguise,
and uttered the most furious expressions of indignant contempt at our
proceedings. I am sure she would gladly have confined us both in the
Bastile, had England such a misery, as a fit place to bring us to
ourselves, from a daring so outrageous against imperial wishes.\x94 This
passage deserves notice, as being the only one in the Diary, so far as
we have observed, which shows Miss Burney to have been aware that she
was a native of a free country, that she could not be pressed for a
waiting maid against her will, and that she had just as good a right to
life, if she chose, in Saint Martin\x92s Street, as Queen Charlotte had to
live at Saint James\x92s.

The Queen promised that, after the next birthday, Miss Burney should
be set at liberty. But the promise was ill kept; and her Majesty
showed great displeasure at being reminded of it. At length Frances
was informed that in a fortnight her attendance should cease. I \x93heard
this,\x94 she says, \x93with a fearful presentiment I should surely never
go through another fortnight, in so weak and languishing and painful a
state of health.... As the time of separation approached, the Queen\x92s
cordiality rather diminished, and traces of internal displeasure
appeared sometimes, arising from an opinion I ought rather to have
struggled on, live or die, than to quit her. Yet I am sure she saw
how poor was my own {299}chance, except by a change in the mode of life,
and at least ceased to wonder, though she could not approve.\x94 Sweet
Queen! What noble candour, to admit that the undutifulness of people,
who did not think the honour of adjusting her tuckers worth the
sacrifice of their own lives, was, though highly criminal, not
altogether unnatural!

We perfectly understand her Majesty\x92s contempt for the lives of others
where her own pleasure was concerned. But what pleasure she can have
found in having Miss Burney about her, it is not so easy to comprehend.
That Miss Burney was an eminently skilful keeper of the robes is not
very probable. Few women, indeed, had paid less attention to dress. Now
and then, in the course of five years, she had been asked to read aloud
or to write a copy of verses. But better readers might easily have been
found: and her verses were worse than even the Poet Laureate\x92s
Birthday Odes. Perhaps that economy, which was among her Majesty\x92s
most conspicuous virtues, had something to do with her conduct on this
occasion. Miss Burney had never hinted that she expected a retiring
pension; and indeed would gladly have given the little that she had for
freedom. But her Majesty knew what the public thought, and what
became her own dignity. She could not for very shame suffer a woman of
distinguished genius, who had quitted a lucrative career to wait on
her, who had served her faithfully for a pittance during five years, and
whose constitution had been impaired by labour and watching, to leave
the court without some mark of royal liberality. George the Third, who,
on all occasions where Miss Burney was concerned, seems to have behaved
like an honest, goodnatured gentleman, felt this, and said plainly that
{300}she was entitled to a provision. At length, in return for all
the misery which she had undergone, and for the health which she
had sacrificed, an annuity of one hundred pounds was granted to her,
dependent on the Queen\x92s pleasure.

Then the prison was opened, and Frances was free once mere. Johnson,
as Burke observed, might have added a striking page to his poem on the
Vanity of Human Wishes, if he had lived to see his little Burney as she
went into the palace and as she came out of it.

The pleasures, so long untasted, of liberty, of friendship, of domestic
affection, were almost too acute for her shattered frame. But happy days
and tranquil nights soon restored the health which the Queen\x92s toilette
and Madame Schwellenberg\x92s cardtable had impaired. Kind and anxious
faces surrounded the invalid. Conversation the most polished and
brilliant revived her spirits. Travelling was recommended to her;
and she rambled by easy journeys from cathedral to cathedral, and
from watering place to watering place. She crossed the New Forest, and
visited Stonehenge and Wilton, the cliffs of Lyme, and the beautiful
valley of Sidmouth. Thence she journeyed by Powderham Castle, and by the
ruins of Glastonbury Abbey to Bath, and from Bath, when the winter was
approaching, returned well and cheerful to London. There she visited
her old dungeon, and found her successor already for on the way to
the grave, and kept to strict duty, from morning till midnight, with a
sprained ankle and a nervous fever.

At this time England swarmed with French exiles driven from their
country by the Revolution. A colony of these refugees settled at Juniper
Hall, in Surrey, not far from Norbury Park, where Mr. Locke, an intimate
{301}friend of the Burney family, resided. Frances visited Norbury and
was introduced to the strangers. She had strong prejudices against them;
for her Toryism was far beyond, we do not say that of Mr. Pitt, but that
of Mr. Reeves; and the inmates of Juniper Hall were all attached to the
constitution of 1791, and were therefore more detested by the royalists
of the first emigration than Petion or Marat. But such a woman as Miss
Burney could not long resist the fascination of that remarkable society.
She had lived with Johnson and Wyndham, with Mrs Montague and Mrs.
Thrale. Yet she was forced to own that she had never heard conversation
before. The most animated eloquence, the keenest observation, the most
sparkling wit, the most courtly grace, were united to charm her. For
Madame de Sta\xEBl was there, and M. de Talleyrand. There too was M. de
Narbonne, a noble representative of French aristocracy; and with M. de
Narbonne was his friend and follower General D\x92Arblay, an honourable and
amiable man, with a handsome person, frank soldierlike manners, and some
taste for letters.

The prejudices which Frances had conceived against the constitutional
royalists of France rapidly vanished. She listened with rapture to
Talleyrand and Madame de Sta\xEBl, joined with M. Arblay in execrating the
Jacobins and in weeping for the unhappy Bourbons, took French lessons
from him, fell in love with him, and married him on no better provision
than a precarious annuity of one hundred pounds.

Here the Diary stops for the present. We will, therefore, bring our
narrative to a speedy close, by rapidly recounting the most important
events which we know to have befallen Madame D\x92Arblay during the latter
part of her life. {302}M. D\x92Arblay\x92s fortune had perished in the general
wreck of the French Revolution: and in a foreign country his talents,
whatever they may have been, could scarcely make him rich. The task of
providing for the family devolved on his wife. In the year 1796, she
published by subscription her third novel, Camilla. It was impatiently
expected by the public; and the sum which she obtained for it was, we
believe, greater than had ever at that time been received for a novel.
We have heard that she cleared more than three thousand guineas. But
we give this merely as a rumour. Camilla, however, never attained
popularity like that which Evelina and Cecilia had enjoyed; and it
must be allowed that there was a perceptible falling off, not indeed in
humour or in power of portraying character, but in grace and in purity
of style.

We have heard that, about this time, a tragedy by Madame D\x92Arblay was
performed without success. We do not know whether it was ever printed;
nor indeed have we had time to make any researches into its history or

During the short truce which followed the treaty of Amiens, M. D\x92Arblay
visited France. Lauriston and La Fayette represented his claims to the
French government, and obtained a promise that he should be reinstated
in his military rank. M. D\x92Arblay, however, insisted that he should
never be required to serve against the countrymen of his wife. The First
Consul, of course, would not hear of such a condition, and ordered the
general\x92s commission to be instantly revoked.

Madame D\x92Arblay joined her husband at Paris, a short time before the war
of 1803 broke ont, and remained in France ten years, cut off from
almost all {303}intercourse with the land of her birth. At length, when
Napoleon was on his march to Moscow, she with great difficulty obtained
from his ministers permission to visit her own country, in company with
her son, who was a native of England. She returned in time to receive
the last blessing of her father, who died in his eighty-seventh year.
In 1814 she published her last novel, the Wanderer, a book which no
judicious friend to her memory will attempt to draw from the oblivion
into which it has justly fallen. In the same year, her son Alexander was
sent to Cambridge. He obtained an honourable place among the wranglers
of his year, and was elected a fellow of Christ\x92s College. But his
reputation at the University was higher than might be inferred from his
success in academical contests. His French education had not fitted him
for the examinations of the Senate House; but, in pure mathematics,
we have been assured by some of his competitors that he had very few
equals. He went into the church, and it was thought likely that he would
attain high eminence as a preacher; but he died before his mother. All
that we have heard of him leads us to believe that he was such a son as
such a mother deserved to have. In 1882, Madame D\x92Arblay published the
memoirs of her father; and on the sixth of January, 1840, she died in
her eighty-eighth year.

We now turn from the life of Madame D\x92Arblay to her writings. There can,
we apprehend, be little difference of opinion as to the nature of
her merit, whatever differences may exist as to its degree. She was
emphatically what Johnson called her, a character-monger. It was in the
exhibition of human passions and whims that her strength lay; and in
this department of art she had, we think, very distinguished skill.
{304}But in order that we may, according to our duty as kings at arms,
versed in the laws of literary precedence, marshal her to the exact
seat to which she is entitled, we must carry our examination somewhat

There is, in one respect, a remarkable analogy between the faces and
the minds of men. No two faces are alike; and yet very few faces
deviate very widely from the common standard. Among the eighteen hundred
thousand human beings who inhabit London, there is not one who could be
taken by his acquaintance for another; yet we may walk from Paddington
to Mile End without seeing one person in whom any feature is so
overcharged that we turn round to stare at it. An infinite number
of varieties lies between limits which are not very far asunder. The
specimens which pass those limits on either side, form a very small

It is the same with the characters of men. Here, too, the variety passes
all enumeration. But the cases in which the deviation from the common
standard is striking and grotesque, are very few. In one mind avarice
predominates; in another, pride; in a third, love of pleasure; just as
in one countenance the nose is the most marked feature, while in others
the chief expression lies in the brow, or in the lines of the mouth. But
there are very few countenances in which nose, brow, and mouth do not
contribute, though in unequal degrees, to the general effect; and so
there are very few characters in which one overgrown propensity makes
all others utterly insignificant.

It is evident that a portrait painter, who was able only to represent
faces and figures such as those which we pay money to see at fairs,
would not, however spirited {305}his execution might be, take rank among
the highest artists. He must always be placed below those who have skill
to seize peculiarities which do not amount to deformity. The slighter
those peculiarities, the greater is the merit of the limner who can
catch them and transfer them to his canvass. To paint Daniel Lambert
or the living skeleton, the pig faced lady or the Siamese twins so
that nobody can mistake them, is an exploit within the reach of a
signpainter. A thirdrate artist might give us the squint of Wilkes, and
the depressed nose and protuberant cheeks of Gibbon. It would require a
much higher degree of skill to paint two such men as Mr. Canning and
Sir Thomas Lawrence, so that nobody who had ever seen them could for a
moment hesitate to assign each picture to its original. Here the mere
caricaturist would be quite at fault. He would find in neither face
any thing on which he could lay hold for the purpose of making a
distinction. Two ample bald foreheads, two regular profiles, two full
faces of the same oval form, would baffle his art; and he would be
reduced to the miserable shift of writing their names at the foot of
his picture. Yet there was a great difference; and a person who had seen
them once would no more have mistaken one of them for the other, than
he would have mistaken Mr. Pitt for Mr. Fox. But the difference lay in
delicate lineaments and shades, reserved for pencils of a rare order.

This distinction runs through all the imitative arts. Foote\x92s mimicry
was exquisitely ludicrous, but it was all caricature. He could take off
only some strange peculiarity, a stammer or a lisp, a Northumbrian burr
or an Irish brogue, a stoop or a shuffle. \x93If a man,\x94 said Johnson,
\x93hops on one leg, Foote can hop on one leg.\x94 {306}Garrick, on the other
hand, could seize those differences of manner and pronunciation, which,
though highly characteristic, are yet too slight to be described. Foote,
we have no doubt, could have made the Haymarket theatre shake with
laughter by imitating a conversation between a Scotchman and a
Somersetshireman. But Garrick could have imitated a conversation
between two fashionable men, both models of the best breeding, Lord
Chesterfield, for example, and Lord Albemarle, so that no person could
doubt which was which, although no person could say that, in any point,
either Lord Chesterfield or Lord Albemarle spoke or moved otherwise than
in conformity with the usages of the best society.

The same distinction is found in the drama and in fictitious narrative.
Highest among those who have exhibited human nature by means of
dialogue, stands Shakspeare. His variety is like the variety of nature,
endless diversity, scarcely any monstrosity. The characters of which he
has given us an impression, as vivid as that which we receive from the
characters of our own associates, are to be reckoned by scores. Yet
in all these scores hardly one character is to be found which deviates
widely from the common standard, and which we should call very eccentric
if we met it in real life. The silly notion that every man has one
ruling passion, and that this clue, once known, unravels all the
mysteries of his conduct, finds no countenance in the plays of
Shakspeare. There man appears as he is, made up of a crowd of passions,
which contend for the mastery over him and govern him in turn. What
is Hamlet\x92s ruling passion? Or Othello\x92s? Or Harry the Fifth\x92s? Or
Wolsey\x92s? Or Lear\x92s? Or Shy-lock\x92s? Or Benedick\x92s? Or Macbeth\x92s? Or that
of Cassius? Or that of Falconbridge? But we might {307}go on for ever.
Take a single example, Shylock. Is he so eager for money as to be
indifferent to revenge? Or so eager for revenge as to be indifferent to
money? Or so bent on both together as to be indifferent to the honour of
his nation and the law of Moses? All his propensities are mingled with
each other, so that, in trying to apportion to each its proper part,
we find the same difficulty which constantly meets us in real life. A
superficial critic may say, that hatred is Shylock\x92s ruling passion. But
how many passions have amalgamated to form that hatred? It is partly the
result of wounded pride: Antonio has called him dog. It is partly the
result of covetousness: Antonio has hindered him of half a million; and,
when Antonio is gone, there will be no limit to the gains of usury. It
is partly the result of national and religious feeling: Antonio has spit
on the Jewish gaberdine; and the oath of revenge has been sworn by the
Jewish Sabbath. We might on through all the characters which we have
mentioned, and through fifty more in the same way; for it is the
constant manner of Shakspeare to represent the human mind as lying,
not under the absolute dominion of one despotic propensity, but under
a mixed government, in which a hundred powers balance each other.
Admirable as he was in all parts of his art, we most admire him for
this, that while he has left us a greater number of striking portraits
than all other dramatists put together, he has scarcely left us a single

Shakspeare has had neither equal nor second. But among the writers
who, in the point which we have noticed, have approached nearest to
the manner of the great master, we have no hesitation in placing Jane
Austen, a woman of whom England is justly proud. {308}She has given us a
multitude of characters, all, in a certain sense, commonplace, all such
as we meet every day. Yet they are all as perfectly discriminated from
each other as if they were the most eccentric of human beings. There
are, for instance, four clergymen, none of whom, we should be surprised
to find in any parsonage in the kingdom, Mr. Edward Ferrars, Mr. Henry
Tilney, Mr. Edmund Bertram, and Mr. Elton. They are all specimens of the
upper part of the middle class. They have all been liberally educated.
They all He under the restraints of the same sacred profession. They are
all young. They are all in love. Not one of them has any hobbyhorse, to
use the phrase of Sterne. Not one has a ruling passion, such as we read
of in Pope. Who would not have expected them to be insipid likenesses
of each other? No such thing. Harpagon is not more unlike to Jourdain,
Joseph Surface is not more unlike to Sir Lucius O\x92Trigger, than every
one of Miss Austen\x92s young divines to all his reverend brethren.
And almost all this is done by touches so delicate, that they elude
analysis, that they defy the powers of description, and that we know
them to exist only by the general effect to which they have contributed.

A line must be drawn, we conceive, between artists of this class, and
those poets and novelists whose skill lies in the exhibiting of what Ben
Jonson called humours. The words of Ben are so much to the purpose that
we will quote them:

                        \x93When some one peculiar quality

                        Doth so possess a man, that it doth draw

                        All his affects, his spirits, and his powers,

                        In their confluxions all to run one way.

                        This may be truly said to be a humour.\x94

There are undoubtedly persons, in whom humours {309}such as Ben
describes have attained a complete ascendency. The avarice of Elwes,
the insane desire of Sir Egerton Brydges for a barony to which he had
no more right than to the crown of Spain, the malevolence which
long meditation on imaginary wrongs venerated in the gloomy mind of
Bellingham, are instances. The feeling which animated Clarkson and other
virtuous men against the slave trade and slavery, is an instance of a
more honourable kind.

Seeing that such humours exist, we cannot deny that they are proper
subjects for the imitations of art. But we conceive that the imitation
of such humours, however skilful and amusing, is not an achievement
of the highest order; and, as such humours are rare in real life, they
ought, we conceive, to be sparingly introduced into works which profess
to be pictures of real life. Nevertheless, a writer may show so much
genius in the exhibition of these humours as to be fairly entitled to a
distinguished and permanent rank among classics. The chief seats of all,
however, the places on the dais and under the canopy, are reserved for
the few who have excelled in the difficult art of portraying characters
in which no single feature is extravagantly overcharged.

If we have expounded the law soundly, we can have no difficulty in
applying it to the particular case before us. Madame D\x92Arblay has left
us scarcely any thing but humours. Almost every one of her men and women
has some one propensity developed to a morbid degree. In Cecilia, for
example, Mr. Delvile never opens his lips without some allusion to
his own birth and station: or Mr. Briggs, without some allusion to the
hoarding of money; or Mr. Hobson, without betraying the selfindulgence
and selfimportance of a {310}purseproud upstart; or Mr. Simkins, without
uttering some sneaking remark for the purpose of currying favour with
his customers; or Mr. Meadows, without expressing apathy and weariness
of life; or Mr. Albany, without declaiming about the vices of the rich
and the misery of the poor; or Mrs. Belfield, without some indelicate
eulogy on her son; or Lady Margaret, without indicating jealousy of her
husband. Morrice is all skipping, officious impertinence, Mr. Gosport
all sarcasm, Lady Honoria all lively prattle, Miss Larolles all silly
prattle. If ever Madame D\x92Arblay aimed at more, we do not think that she
succeeded well.

We are, therefore, forced to refuse to Madame D\x92Arblay a place in the
highest rank of art; but we cannot deny that, in the rank to which she
belonged, she had few equals, and scarcely any superior. The variety of
humours which is to be found in her novels is immense: and though the
talk of each person separately is monotonous, the general effect is
not monotony, but a very lively and agreeable diversity. Her plots are
rudely constructed and improbable, if we consider them in themselves.
But they are admirably framed for the purpose of exhibiting striking
groups of eccentric characters, each governed by his own peculiar
whim, each talking his own peculiar jargon, and each bringing out by
opposition the oddities of all the rest. We will give one example out
of many which occur to us. All probability is violated in order to
bring Mr. Delvile, Mr. Briggs, Mr. Hobson, and Mr. Albany into a room
together. But when we have them there, we soon forget probability in the
exquisitely ludicrous effect which is produced by the conflict of four
old fools, each raging with a monomania of his own, each talking a
dialect of his own, and each {311}inflaming all the others anew every
time he opens his mouth.

Madame D\x92Arblay was most successful in comedy, and indeed in comedy
which bordered on farce. But we are inclined to infer from some
passages, both in Cecilia and Camilla, that she might have attained
equal distinction in the pathetic. We have formed this judgment, less
from those ambitious scenes of distress which He near the catastrophe
of each of those novels, than from some exquisite strokes of natural
tenderness which take us here and there by surprise. We would mention as
examples, Mrs. Hill\x92s account of her little boy\x92s death in Cecilia,
and the parting of Sir Hugh Tyrold and Camilla, when the honest baronet
thinks himself dying.

It is melancholy to think that the whole fame of Madame D\x92Arblay rests
on what she did during the earlier half of her life, and that every
thing which she published during the forty-three years which preceded
her death, lowered her reputation. Yet we have no reason to think that
at the time when her faculties ought to have been in their maturity,
they were smitten with any blight. In the Wanderer, we catch now and
then a gleam of her genius. Even in the Memoirs of her father, there is
no trace of dotage. They are very bad; but they are so, as it seems to
us, not from a decay of power, but from a total perversion of power.

The truth is, that Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s style underwent a gradual and most
pernicious change, a change which, in degree at least, we believe to be
unexampled in literary history, and of which it may be useful to trace
the progress.

When she wrote her letters to Mr. Crisp, her early journals, and her
first novel, her style was not indeed {312}brilliant or energetic; but
it was easy, clear, and free from all offensive faults. When she wrote
Cecilia she aimed higher. She had then lived much in a circle of which
Johnson was the centre; and she was herself one of his most submissive
worshippers. It seems never to have crossed her mind that the style even
of his best writings was by no means faultless, and that even had it
been faultless, it might not be wise in her to imitate it. Phraseology
which is proper in a disquisition on the Unities, or in a preface to a
Dictionary, may be quite out of place in a tale of fashionable life. Old
gentlemen do not criticize the reigning modes, nor do young gentlemen
make love, with the balanced epithets and sonorous cadences which, on
occasions of great dignity, a skilful writer may use with happy effect.

In an evil hour the author of Evelina took the Rambler for her model.
This would not have been wise even if she could have imitated her
pattern as well as Hawkesworth did. But such imitation was beyond her
power. She had her own style. It was a tolerably good one; and might,
without any violent change, have been improved into a very good one.
She determined to throw it away, and to adopt a style in which she could
attain excellence only by achieving an almost miraculous victory over
nature and over habit. She could cease to be Fanny Burney; it was not so
easy to become Samuel Johnson.

In Cecilia the change of manner began to appear. But in Cecilia the
imitation of Johnson, though not always in the best taste, is sometimes
eminently happy; and the passages which are so verbose as to be
positively offensive, are few. There were people who whispered that
Johnson had assisted his young friend, and that the novel owed all its
finest passages {313}to his hand. Tins was merely the fabrication of
envy. Miss Burney\x92s real excellences were as much beyond the reach of
Johnson, as his real excellences were beyond her reach. He could no more
have written the Masquerade scene, or the Vauxhall scene, than she could
have written the Life of Cowley or the Review of Soame Jenyns. But
we have not the smallest doubt that He revised Cecilia, and that he
retouched the style of many passages. We know that he was in the habit
of giving assistance of this kind most freely. Goldsmith, Hawkesworth,
Boswell, Lord Hailes, Mrs. Williams, were among those who obtained his
help. Nay, he even corrected the poetry of Mr. Crabbe, whom, we believe,
he had never seen. When Miss Burney thought of writing a comedy, he
promised to give her his best counsel, though he owned that he was not
particularly well qualified to advise on matters relating to the stage.
We therefore think it in the highest degree improbable that his little
Fanny, when living in habits of the most affectionate intercourse with
him, would have brought out an important work without consulting him;
and, when we look into Cecilia, we see such traces of his hand in the
grave and elevated passages as it is impossible to mistake. Before we
conclude this article, we will give two or three examples.

When next Madame D\x92Arblay appeared before the world as a writer, she was
in a very different situation. She would not content herself with the
simple English in which Evelina had been written. She had no longer the
friend who, we are confident, had polished and strengthened the style of
Cecilia. She had to write in Johnson\x92s manner without Johnson\x92s aid. The
consequence was, that in Camilla every passage {314}which she meant
to be fine is detestable; and that the book has been saved from
condemnation only by the admirable spirit and force of those scenes in
which she was content to be familiar.

But there was to be a still deeper descent. After the publication of
Camilla, Madame D\x92Arblay resided ten years at Paris. During those years
there was scarcely any intercourse between France and England. It was
with difficulty that a short letter could occasionally be transmitted.
All Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s companions were French. She must have written,
spoken, thought, in French. Ovid expressed his fear that a shorter exile
might have affected the purity of his Latin. During a shorter exile,
Gibbon unlearned his native English. Madame D\x92Arblay had carried a bad
style to France. She brought back a style which we are really at a loss
to describe. It is a sort of broken Johnsonese, a barbarous _patois_,
bearing the same relation to the language of Rasselas, which the
gibberish of the Negroes of Jamaica hears to the English of the House of
Lords. Sometimes it reminds us of the finest, that is to say, the vilest
parts, of Mr. Galt\x92s novels; sometimes of the perorations of Exeter
Hall; sometimes of the leading articles of the Morning Post. But it most
resembles the puffs of Mr. Rowland and Dr. Goss. It matters not what
ideas are clothed in such a style. The genius of Shakspeare and Bacon
united would not save a work so written from general derision.

It is only by means of specimens that we can enable our readers to judge
how widely Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s three styles differed from each other.

The following passage was written before she became intimate with
Johnson. It is from Evelina. {315}\x94_His son seems weaker in his
understanding, and more gay in his temper; but his gaiety is that of
a foolish overgrown schoolboy, whose mirth consists in noise and
disturbance. He disdains his father for his close attention to business
and love of money, though he seems himself to have no talents, spirit,
or generosity to make him superior to either. His chief delight appears
to be in tormenting and ridiculing his sisters, who in return most
cordially despise him. Miss Branghton, the eldest daughter, is by no
means ugly; but looks proud, ill-tempered, and conceited. She hates the
city, though without knowing why; for it is easy to discover she has
lived nowhere else. Miss Folly Branghton is rather pretty, very foolish,
very ignorant, very giddy, and, I believe, very goodnatured_.\x94

This is not a fine style, but simply perspicuous and agreeable. We now
come to Cecilia, written during Miss Burney\x92s intimacy with Johnson; and
we leave it to our readers to judge whether the following passage was
not at least corrected by his hand.

\x93_It is rather an imaginary than an actual evil, and though a deep wound
to pride, no offence to morality. Thus have I laid open to you my whole
heart, confessed my perplexities, acknowledged my vainglory, and exposed
with equal sincerity the sources of my doubts and the motives of my
decision. But now, indeed, how to proceed I know not. The difficulties
which are yet to encounter I fear to enumerate, and the petition I have
to urge I have scarce courage to mention. My family, mistaking
ambition for honour, and rank for dignity, have long planned a splendid
connection for me, to which, though my invariable repugnance has stopped
any advances, their wishes and their views immoveably adhere. I am but
too certain they will now listen to no other. I dread, therefore, to
make a trial where I despair of success. I know not how to risk a prayer
with those who may silence me by a command_.\x94

Take now a specimen of Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s later style. This is the way
in which she tells us that her father, on his journey back from the
Continent, caught the rheumatism.

\x93_He {316}was assaulted, during his precipitated return, by the
rudest fierceness of wintry elemental strife; through which, with
bad accommodations and innumerable accidents, he became a prey to
the merciless pangs of the acutest spasmodic rheumatism, which barely
suffered him to reach his home, ere, long and piteously, it confined
him, a tortured prisoner, to his bed. Such was the check that almost
instantly curbed, though it could not subdue, the rising pleasure of his
hopes of entering upon a new species of existence--that of an approved
man of letters; for it was on the bed of sickness, exchanging the light
wines of France, Italy, and Germany, for the black and loathsome potions
of the Apothecaries\x92 Hall, writhed by darting stitches, and burning with
fiery fever, that he felt the full force of that sublunary equipoise
that seemed evermore to hang suspended over the attainment of
long-sought and uncommon felicity, just as it is ripening to burst forth
with enjoyment!_\x94

Here is a second passage from Evelina.

\x93_Mrs. Selwvn is very kind and attentive to me. She is extremely clever.
Her understanding, indeed, may be called masculine; but unfortunately
her manners deserve the same epithet; for, in studying to acquire the
knowledge of the other sex, she has lost all the softness of her own. In
regard to myself, however, as I have neither courage nor inclination
to argue with her, I have never been personally hurt at her want of
gentleness, a virtue which nevertheless seems so essential a part of the
female character, that I find myself more awkward and less at ease with
a woman who wants it than I do with a man_.\x94

This is a good style of its kind; and the following passage front
Cecilia is also in a good style, though not in a faultless one. We say
with confidence either Sam Johnson or the Devil.

\x93_Even the imperious Mr. Delvile was more supportable here than in
London. Secure in his own castle, he looked round him with a pride
of power and possession whieh softened while it swelled him. His
superiority was undisputed: his will was without control. He was not,
as in the great capital of the kingdom, surrounded by competitors. No
rivalry disturbed his peace; no equality mortified his greatness. All
he saw were either vassals of {317}his power, or guests bending to his
pleasure. He abated, therefore, considerably the stern gloom of
his haughtiness, and soothed his proud mind by the courtesy of

We will stake our reputation for critical sagacity on this, that no
such paragraph as that which we have last quoted can be found in any of
Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s works except Cecilia. Compare with it the following
sample of her later style.

\x93_If beneficence be judged by the happiness which it diffuses, whose
claim, by that proof, shall stand higher than that of Mrs. Montagu, from
the munificence with which she celebrated her annual festival for those
hapless artificers who perform the most abject offices of any authorized
calling, in being the active guardians of our blazing hearths? Not
to vain glory, then, but to kindness of heart, should be adjudged the
publicity of that superb charity which made its jetty objects, for one
bright morning, cease to consider themselves as degraded outcasts from
all society._\x94

We add one or two shorter samples. Sheridan refused to permit his
lovely wife to sing in public, and was warmly praised on this account by

\x93The last of men,\x94 says Madame D\x92Arblay, \x93was Doctor Johnson to have
abetted squandering the delicacy of integrity by nullifying the labours
of talents.\x94

The Club, Johnson\x92s Club, did itself no honour by rejecting on political
grounds two distinguished men, one a Tory, the other a Whig. Madame
D\x92Arblay tells the story thus: \x93A similar ebullition of political
rancour with that which so difficultly had been conquered for Mr.
Canning foamed over the ballot box to the exclusion of Mr. Rogers.\x94

An offence punishable with imprisonment is, in this language, an offence
\x93which produces incarceration.\x94 To be starved to death is \x93to sink from
inanition into nonentity.\x94 Sir Isaac Newton is \x93the developer of the
skies in their embodied movements;\x94 and Mrs. {318}Thrale, when a party
of clever people sat silent, is said to have been \x93provoked by
the dulness of a taciturnity that, in the midst of such renowned
interlocutors, produced as narcotic a torpor as could have been caused
by a dearth the most barren of all human faculties.\x94 In truth, it is
impossible to look at any page of Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s later works without
finding flowers of rhetoric like these. Nothing in the language of
those jargonists at whom Mr. Gosport laughed, nothing in the language of
Sir Sedley Clarendel, approaches this new Euphuism.

It is from no unfriendly feeling to Madame D\x92Arblay\x92s memory that we
have expressed ourselves so strongly on the subject of her style. On
the contrary, we conceive that we have really rendered a service to her
reputation. That her later works were complete failures, is a fact
too notorious to be dissembled: and some persons, we believe, have
consequently taken up a notion that she was from the first an overrated
writer, and that she had not the powers which were necessary to maintain
her on the eminence on which good luck and fashion had placed her. We
believe, on the contrary, that her early popularity was no more than the
just reward of distinguished merit, and would never have undergone an
eclipse, if she had only been content to go on writing in her mother
tongue. If she failed when she quitted her own province, and attempted
to occupy one in which she had neither part nor lot, this reproach is
common to her with a crowd of distinguished men. Newton failed when he
turned from the courses of the stars, and the ebb and flow of the ocean,
to apocalyptic seals and vials. Bentley failed when he turned from
Homer and Aristophanes, to edite the Paradise Lost. Inigo failed when he
attempted to rival the {319}Gothic churches of the fourteenth century.
Wilkie failed when he took it into his head that, the Blind Fiddler and
the Rent Day were unworthy of his powers, and challenged competition
with Lawrence as a portrait painter. Such failures should be noted for
the instruction of posterity; but they detract little from the permanent
reputation of those who have really done great things.

Yet one word more. It is not only on account of the intrinsic merit
of Madame d\x92Arblay\x92s early works that she is entitled to honourable
mention. Her appearance is an important epoch in our literary history.
Evelina was the first tale written by a woman, and purporting to be a
picture of life and manners, that lived or deserved to live. The Female
Quixote is no exception. That work has undoubtedly great merit, when
considered as a wild satirical harlequinade; but, if we consider it as
a picture of life and manners, we must pronounce it more absurd than any
of the romances which it was designed to ridicule.

Indeed, most of the popular novels which preceded Evelina were such as
no lady would have written; and many of them were such as no lady could
without confusion own that she had read. The very name of novel was
held in horror among religious people. In decent families, which did not
profess extraordinary sanctity, there was a strong feeling against all
such works. Sir Anthony Absolute, two or three years before Evelina
appeared, spoke the sense of the great body of sober fathers and
husbands, when he pronounced the circulating library an evergreen tree
of diabolical knowledge. This feeling, on the part of the grave and
reflecting, increased the evil from which it had sprung. The novelist
having little character to {320}lose, and having few readers among
serious people, took without scruple liberties which in our generation
seem almost incredible.

Miss Burney did for the English novel what Jeremy Collier did for the
English drama; and she did it in a better way. She first showed that a
tale might be written in which both the fashionable and the vulgar life
of London might be exhibited with great force, and with broad comic
humour, and which yet should not contain a single line inconsistent with
rigid morality, or even with virgin delicacy. She took away the reproach
which lay on a most useful and delightful species of composition. She
vindicated the right of her sex to an equal share in a fair and noble
province of letters. Several accomplished women have followed in her
track. At present, the novels which we owe to English ladies form no
small part of the literary glory of our country. No class of works is
more honourably distinguished by fine observation, by grace, by delicate
wit, by pure moral feeling. Several among the successors of Madame
D\x92Arblay have equalled her; two, we think, have surpassed her. But the
fact that she has been surpassed gives her an additional claim to our
respect and gratitude; for, in truth, we owe to her not only Evelina,
Cecilia, and Camilla, but also Mansfield Park and the Absentee.


(_Edinburgh Review_, July, 1843.)

Some {321}reviewers are of opinion that a lady who dares to publish a
book renounces by that act the franchises appertaining to her sex, and
can claim no exemption from the utmost rigour of critical procedure.
From that opinion we dissent. We admit, indeed, that in a country which
boasts of many female writers, eminently qualified by their talents
and acquirements to influence the public mind, it would be of most
pernicious consequence that inaccurate history or unsound philosophy
should be suffered to pass uncensured, merely because the offender
chanced to be a lady. But we conceive that, on such occasions, a
critic would do well to imitate the courteous Knight who found himself
compelled by duty to keep the lists against Bradamante. He, we are told,
defended successfully the cause of which he was the champion; but before
the fight began, exchanged Balisarda for a less deadly sword, of which
he carefully blunted the point and edge. (2)

Nor are the immunities of sex the only immunities which Miss Aikin may
rightfully plead. Several of her works, and especially the very pleasing
Memoirs of the Reign of James the First, have fully entitled

     (1) _The, Life of Joseph Addison_. By Lucy Aikin. 2 vols.
     8vo. London* 1843.

     (2) Orlando Furioso, xlv. 68.

{322}her to the privileges enjoyed by good writers. One of those
privileges we hold to be this, that such writer\x92s, when, either from the
unlucky choice of a subject, or from the indolence too often produced
by success, they happen to fail, shall not be subjected to the severe
discipline which it is sometimes necessary to inflict upon dunces and
impostors, but shall merely be reminded by a gentle touch, like that
with which the Laputan flapper roused his dreaming lord, that it is high
time to wake.

Our readers will probably infer from what we have said that Miss Aikin\x92s
book has disappointed us. The truth is, that she is not well acquainted
with her subject. No person who is not familiar with the political and
literary history of England during the reigns of William the Third,
of Anne, and of George the First, can possibly write a good life of
Addison. Now, we mean no reproach to Miss Aikin, and many will think
that we pay her a compliment, when we say that her Studies have taken
a different direction. She is better acquainted with Shakspeare and
Raleigh, than with Congreve and Prior; and is far more at home among
the ruffs and peaked boards of Theobald\x92s than among the Steenkirks and
flowing periwigs which surrounded Queen Anne\x92s tea table at Hampton. She
seems to have written about the Elizabethan age, because she had read
much about it; she seems, on the other hand, to have read a little about
the age of Addison, because she had determined to write about it. The
consequence is that she has had to describe men and things without
having either a correct or a vivid idea of them, and that she has often
fallen into errors of a very serious kind. The reputation which Miss
Aikin has justly earned stands so high, and the charm of Addison\x92s
letters {323}is so great, that a second edition of this work may
probably be required. If so, we hope that every paragraph will be
revised, and that every date and fact about which there can be the
smallest doubt will be carefully verified.

To Addison himself we are bound by a sentiment as much like affection as
any sentiment can be, which is inspired by one who has been sleeping a
hundred and twenty years in Westminster Abbey. We trust, however, that
this feeling will not betray us into that abject idolatry which we have
often had occasion to reprehend in others, and which seldom fails to
make both the idolater and the idol ridiculous. A man of genius and
virtue is but a man. All his powers cannot be equally developed; nor
can we expect from him perfect self-knowledge. We need not, therefore,
hesitate to admit that Addison has left us some compositions which do
not rise above mediocrity, some heroic poems hardly equal to Parnell\x92s,
some criticism as superficial as Dr. Blair\x92s, and a tragedy not very
much better than Dr. Johnson\x92s. It is praise enough to say of a writer
that, in a high department of literature, in which many eminent writers
have distinguished themselves, he has had no equal; and this may with
strict justice be said of Addison.

As a man, he may not have deserved the adoration which he received from
those who, bewitched by his fascinating society, and indebted for all
the comforts of life to his generous and delicate friendship, worshipped
him nightly, in his favourite temple at Button\x92s. But, after full
inquiry and impartial reflection, we have long been convinced that he
deserved as much love and esteem as can be justly claimed by any of
our infirm and erring race. Some blemishes may undoubtedly be detected
{324}in his diameter; but the more carefully it is examined, the more
will it appear, to use the phrase of the old anatomists, sound in the
noble parts, free from all taint of perfidy, of cowardice, of cruelty,
of ingratitude, of envy. Men may easily he named, in whom some
particular good disposition has been more conspicuous than in Addison.
But the just harmony of qualities, the exact temper between the stern
and the humane virtues, the habitual observance of every law, not only
of moral rectitude, but of moral grace and dignity, distinguish him from
all men who have been tried by equally strong temptations, and about
whose conduct we possess equally full information.

His father was the Reverend Lancelot Addison, who, though eclipsed by
his more celebrated son, made some figure in the world, and occupies
with credit two folio pages in the Biographia Britannica. Lancelot
was sent up, as a poor scholar, from Westmoreland to Queen\x92s College,
Oxford, in the time of the Commonwealth, made some progress in
learning, became, like most of his fellow students, a violent Royalist,
lampooned the heads of the University, and was forced to ask pardon
on his bended knees. When he had left college, he earned a humble
subsistence by reading the liturgy of the fallen Church to the families
of those sturdy squires whose manor houses were scattered over the Wild
of Sussex. After the Restoration, his loyalty was rewarded with the post
of chaplain to the garrison of Dunkirk. When Dunkirk was sold to France,
he lost his employment. But Tangier had been ceded by Portugal to
England as part of the marriage portion of the Infanta Catharine; and to
Tangier Lancelot Addison was sent. A more miserable situation can hardly
be conceived. It was difficult to say whether {325}the unfortunate
settlers were more tormented by the heats or by the rains, by the
soldiers within the wall or by the Moors without it. One advantage
the chaplain had. He enjoyed an excellent opportunity of studying the
history and manners of Jews and Mahometans; and of this opportunity he
appears to have made excellent use. On his return to England, after some
years of banishment, he published an interesting volume on the Polity
and Religion of Barbary, and another on the Hebrew Customs and the
State of Rabbinical Learning. He rose to eminence in his profession, and
became one of the royal chaplains, a Doctor of Divinity, Archdeacon of
Salisbury, and Dean of Lichfield. It is said that he would have been
made a bishop after the Revolution, if he had not given offence to the
government by strenuously opposing, in the Convocation of 1689, the
liberal policy of William and Tillotson.

In 1672, not long after Dr. Addison\x92s return from Tangier, his son
Joseph was born. Of Joseph\x92s childhood we know little. He learned his
rudiments at schools in his father\x92s neighbourhood, and was then sent to
the Charter House. The anecdotes which are popularly related about his
boyish tricks do not harmonize very well with what we know of his riper

There remains a tradition that he was the ringleader in a barring out,
and another tradition that he ran away from school and hid himself in a
wood, where he fed on berries and slept in a hollow tree, till after
a long search he was discovered and brought home. If these stories be
true, it would be curious to know by what moral discipline so mutinous
and enterprising a lad was transformed into the gentlest and most modest
of men.

We have abundant proof that, whatever Joseph\x92s {326}pranks may have
been, he pursued his studies vigorously and successfully. At fifteen
he was not only fit for the university, but carried thither a classical
taste and a stock of learning which would have done honour to a Master
of Arts. He was entered at Queen\x92s College, Oxford; but he had not been
many months there, when some of his Latin verses fell by accident into
the hands of Dr. Lancaster, Dean of Magdalene College.

The young scholar\x92s diction and versification were already such as
veteran professors might envy. Dr. Lancaster was desirous to serve a boy
of such promise; nor was an opportunity long wanting. The Revolution had
just taken place; and nowhere had it been hailed with more delight
than at Magdalene Colleire. That great and opulent corporation had been
treated by James, and by his Chancellor, with an insolence and injustice
which, even in such a Prince and in such a Minister, may justly excite
amazement, and which had done more than even the prosecution of the
Bishops to alienate the Church of England from the throne. A president,
duly elected, had been violently expelled from his dwelling: a Papist
had been set over the society by a royal mandate: the Fellows who, in
conformity with their oaths, had refused to submit to this usurper, had
been driven forth from their quiet cloisters and gardens, to die of want
or to live on charity. But the day of redress and retribution speedily
came. The intruders were ejected: the venerable House was again
inhabited by its old inmates: learning flourished under the rule of the
wise and virtuous Hough; and with learning was united a mild and
liberal spirit too often wanting in the princely colleges of Oxford. In
consequence of the troubles through which the society had passed, there
had been no valid {327}election of new members during the year 1688. In
1689, therefore, there was twice the ordinary number of vacancies;
and thus Dr. Lancaster found it easy to procure for his young friend
admittance to the advantages of a foundation then generally esteemed the
wealthiest in Europe.

At Magdalene Addison resided during ten years. He was, at first, one
of those scholars who are called Demies, but was subsequently elected a
fellow. His college is still proud of his name: his portrait still hangs
in the hall: and strangers are still told that his favourite walk was
under the elms which fringe the meadow on the banks of the Cherwell.
It is said, and is highly probable, that he was distinguished among his
fellow students by the delicacy of his feelings, by the shyness of his
manners, and by the assiduity with which he often prolonged his studies
far into the night. It is certain that his reputation for ability and
learning stood high. Many years later, the ancient doctors of Magdalene
continued to talk in their common room of his boyish compositions, and
expressed their sorrow that no copy of exercises so remarkable had been

It is proper, however, to remark that Miss Aikin has committed the
error, very pardonable in a lady, of overrating Addison\x92s classical
attainments. In one department of learning, indeed, his proficiency was
such as it is hardly possible to overrate. His knowledge of the Latin
poets, from Lucretius and Catullus down to Claudian and Prudentius, was
singularly exact and profound. He understood them thoroughly, entered
into their spirit, and had the finest and most discriminating perception
of all their peculiarities of style and melody; nay, he copied their
manner with admirable skill, and {328}surpassed, we think, all their
British imitators who had preceded him, Buchanan and Milton alone
excepted. This is high praise; and beyond this we cannot with justice
go. It is clear that Addison\x92s serious attention during his residence
at the university, was almost entirely concentrated on Latin poetry,
and that, if he did not wholly neglect other provinces of ancient
literature, he vouchsafed to them only a cursory glance. He does not
appeal\x92 to have attained more than an ordinary acquaintance with the
political and moral writers of Rome; nor was his own Latin prose by any
means equal to his Latin verse. His knowledge of Greek, though doubtless
such as was, in his time, thought respectable at Oxford, was evidently
less than that which many lads now carry away every year from Eton and
Rugby. A minute examination of his works, if we had time to make such an
examination, would fully bear out these remarks. We will briefly advert
to a few of the facts on which our judgment is grounded.

Great praise is due to the Notes which Addison appended to his version
of the second and third books of the Metamorphoses. Yet those notes,
while they show him to have been, in his own domain, an accomplished
scholar, show also how confined that domain was. They are rich in
apposite references to Virgil, Statius, and Claudian; but they contain
not a single illustration drawn from the Greek poets. Now, if, in the
whole compass of Latin literature, there be a passage which stands in
need of illustration drawn from the Greek poets, it is the story of
Pentheus in the third book of the Metamorphoses. Ovid was indebted for
that story to Euripides and Theocritus, both of whom he has sometimes
followed minutely. But neither to Euripides nor to Theocritus does
Addison make the faintest {329}allusion; and we, therefore, believe that
we do not wrong him by supposing that he had little or no knowledge of
their works.

His travels in Italy, again, abound with classical quotations happily
introduced; but scarcely one of those quotations is in prose. He draws
more illustrations from Ausonius and Manilius than from Cicero. Even his
notions of the political and military affairs of the Romans seem to be
derived from poets and poetasters. Spots made memorable by events which
have changed the destinies of the world, and which have been worthily
recorded by great historians, bring to his mind only scraps of some
ancient versifier. In the gorge of the Apennines he naturally remembers
the hardships which Hannibal\x92s army endured, and proceeds to cite, not
the authentic narrative of Polybius, not the picturesque narrative of
Livy, but the languid hexameters of Silius Italicus. On the banks of
the Rubicon he never thinks of Plutarch\x92s lively description, or of the
stern conciseness of the Commentaries, or of those letters to Atticus
which so forcibly express the alternations of hope and fear in a
sensitive mind at a great crisis. His only authority for the events of
the civil war is Lucan.

All the best ancient works of art at Rome and Florence are Greek.
Addison saw them, however, without recalling one single verse of Pindar,
of Callimachus, or of the Attic dramatists; but they brought to his
recollection innumerable passages of Horace, Juvenal. Statius, and Ovid.

The same may be said of the Treatise on Medals. In that pleasing work we
find about three hundred passages extracted with great judgment from the
Roman poets; but we do not recollect a single passage {330}taken from
any Roman orator or historian; and we are confident that not a line
is quoted from any Greek writer. No person, who had derived all his
information on the subject of medals from Addison, would suspect that
the Greek coins were in historical interest equal, and in beauty of
execution far superior to those of Rome.

If it were necessary to find any further proof that Addison\x92s classical
knowledge was confined within narrow limits, that proof would be
furnished by his Essay on the Evidences of Christianity. The Roman poets
throw little or no light on the literary and historical questions which
he is under the necessity of examining in that Essay. He is, therefore,
left completely in the dark; and it is melancholy to see how helplessly
he gropes his way from blunder to blunder. He assigns, as grounds for
his religious belief, stories as absurd as that of the Cock-Lane ghost,
and forgeries as rank as Ireland\x92s Vortigern, puts faith in the He about
the Thundering; Lemon, is convinced that Tiberius moved the senate to
admit Jesus among the gods, and pronounces the letter of Agbarus King
of Edessa to be a record of great authority. Nor were these errors the
effects of superstition; for to superstition Addison was by no
means prone. The truth is that he was writing about what he did not

Miss Aikin has discovered a letter from which it appears that, while
Addison resided at Oxford, he was one of several writers whom the
booksellers engaged to make an English version of Herodotus; and she
infers that he must have been a good Greek scholar. We can allow
very little weight to this argument, when we consider that his
fellow-labourers were to have been Boyle and Blackmore. Boyle is
{331}remembered chiefly as the nominal author of the worst book on Greek
history and philology that ever was printed; and this book, bad as it
is, Boyle was unable to produce without help. Of Blackmore\x92s attainments
in the ancient tongues, it may be sufficient to say that, in his prose,
he has confounded an aphorism, with an apophthegm, and that when, in
his verse, he treats of classical subjects, his habit is to regale his
readers with four false quantities to a page.

It is probable that the classical acquirements of Addison were of
as much service to him as if they had been more extensive. The world
generally gives its admiration, not to the man who does what nobody else
even attempts to do, but to the man who does best what multitudes do
well. Bentley was so immeasurably superior to all the other scholars
of his time that few among them could discover his superiority. But the
accomplishment in which Addison excelled his contemporaries was then, as
it is now, highly valued and assiduously cultivated at all English seats
of learning. Everybody who had been at a public school had written Latin
verses; many had written such verses with tolerable success, and were
quite able to appreciate, though by no means able to rival, the skill
with which Addison imitated Virgil. His lines on the Barometer and the
Bowling Green were applauded by hundreds, to whom the Dissertation on
the Epistles of Phalaris was as unintelligible as the hieroglyphics on
an obelisk.

Purity of style, and an easy flow of numbers, are common to all
Addison\x92s Latin poems. Our favourite piece is the Battle of the Cranes
and Pygmies; for in that piece we discern a gleam of the fancy
and humour which many years later enlivened thousands of breakfast
{332}tables. Swift boasted that he was never known to steal a hint: and
He certainly owed as little to his predecessors as any modern writer.
Yet we cannot help suspecting that he borrowed, perhaps unconsciously,
one of the happiest touches in his Voyage to Lilliput from Addison\x92s
verses. Let our readers judge.

\x93The Emperor,\x94 says Gulliver, \x93is taller by about the breadth of my nail
than any of his court, wind: alone is enough to strike an awe into the

About thirty years before Gulliver\x92s Travels appeared,

Addison wrote these lines:

               \x93Jamque acies inter m\xE9dias sese arduus infert

               Pygmeadnm ductor, qui, inajestate verendus,

               Incessuque gravis, reliqius supereminet omnes

               Mole gigantea, mediumque exsurgit in ulnam.\x94

The Latin poems of Addison were greatly and justly admired both at
Oxford and Cambridge, before his name had ever been heard by the
wits who thronged the coffeehouses round Drnry-Lane theatre. In his
twenty-second year, he ventured to appear before the public as a writer
of English verse. He addressed some complimentary lines to Dryden, who,
after many triumphs and many reverses, had at length reached a secure
and lonely eminence among the literary men of that age. Dryden appears
to have been much gratified by the young scholar\x92s praise; and an
interchange of civilities and good offices followed. Addison was
probably introduced by Dryden to Congreve, and was certainly presented
by Congreve to Charles Montague, who was then Chancellor of the
Exchequer, and leader of the Whig party in the House of Commons.

At this time Addison seemed inclined to devote himself to poetry. He
published a translation of part {333}of the fourth Georgie, Lines to
King William, and other performances of equal value, that is to lay,
of no value at all. But in those days, the public was in the habit of
receiving with applause pieces which would now have little chance of
obtaining the Newdigate prize or the Seatonian prize. And the reason is
obvious. The heroic couplet was then the favourite measure. The art of
arraiminn; words in that measure, so that the lines may flow smoothly,
that the accents may fall correctly, that the rhymes may strike the ear
strongly, and that there may be a pause at the end of every distich, is
an art as mechanical as that of mend ing a kettle or shoeing a horse,
and may be learned by any human being who has sense enough to learn.
But, like other mechanical arts, it was gradually improved by means of
many experiments and many failures. It was reserved for Pope to discover
the trick, to make himself complete master of it, and to teach it
to everybody else. From the time when his Pastorals appeared, heroic
versification became matter of rule and compass; and, before long, all
artists were on a level. Hundreds of dunces who never blundered on one
happy thought or expression were able to write reams of couplets which,
as far as euphony was concerned, could not be distinguished from those
of Pope himself, and which very clever writers of the reign of Charles
the Second, Rochester, for example, or Marvel, or Oldham, would have
contemplated with admiring despair.

Ben Jonson was a great man, Hoole a very small man. But Hoole, coming
after Pope, had learned how to manufacture decasyllabic verses, and
poured them forth by thousands and tens of thousands, all as well
turned, as smooth, and as like each other as the blocks {334}which have
passed through Mr. Brunei\x92s mill in the dockyard at Portsmouth. Ben\x92s
heroic couplets resemble blocks rudely hewn out by an unpractised hand
with a blunt hatchet. Take as a specimen his translation of a celebrated
passage in the \xC6neid:

               This child our parent earth, stirred up with spite

               Of all the gods, brought forth, and, as some write,

               She was last sister of that giant race

               That sought to scale Jove\x92s court, right swift of pace,

               And swifter far of wing, a monster vast

               And dreadful. Look, how many plumes are placed

               On her huge corpse, so many waking eyes

               Stick underneath, and, which may stranger rise

               In the report, as many tongues she wears.\x94

Compare with these jagged misshapen distichs the neat fabric which
Hoole\x92s machine produces in unlimited abundance. We take the first lines
on which we open in his version of Tasso. They are neither better nor
worse than the rest:

               \x93O thou, whoe\x92er thou art, whose steps are led,

               By choice or fate, these lonely shores to tread,

               No greater wonders east or west can boast

               Than yon small island on the pleasing coast.

               If e\x92er thy sight would blissful scenes explore,

               The current pass, and seek the further shore.\x94

Ever since the time of Pope there has been a glut of lines of this sort,
and we are now as little disposed to admire a man for being able to
write them, as for being able to write his name. But in the days of
William the Third such versification was rare; and a rhymer who had any
skill in it passed for a great poet, just as in the dark ages a person
who could write his name passed for a great clerk. Accordingly, Duke,
Stepney, Granville, Walsh, and others, whose only title to fame was that
they said in tolerable metre what might have been as well said in prose,
or what was not worth saying {335}at all, were honoured with marks of
distinction which ought to be reserved for genius. With these Addison
must have ranked, if he had not earned true and lasting glory by
performances which very little resembled his juvenile poems.

Dryden was now busied with Virgil, and obtained from Addison a critical
preface to the Georgies. In return for this service, and for other
services of the same kind, the veteran poet, in the postscript to the
translation of the \xC6neid, complimented his young friend with great
liberality, and indeed with more liberality than sincerity. He affected
to be afraid that his own performance would not sustain a comparison
with the version of the fourth Georgie, by \x93the most ingenious Mr.
Addison of Oxford.\x94

\x93After his bees,\x94 added Dryden, \x93my latter swarm is scarcely worth the

The time had now arrived when it was necessary for Addison to choose
a calling. Every thing seemed to point his course towards the clerical
profession. His habits were regular, his opinions orthodox. His college
had large ecclesiastical preferment in its gift, and boasts that it has
given at least one bishop to almost every see in England. Dr. Lancelot
Addison held an honourable place in the Church, and had set his heart
on seeing his son a clergyman. It is clear, from some expressions in the
young man\x92s l\x92hymes, that his intention was to take orders. But Charles
Montague interfered. Montague had first brought himself into notice by
verses, well timed and not contemptibly written, but never, we think,
rising above mediocrity. Fortunately for himself and for his country,
he early quitted poetry, in which he could never have attained a rank as
high as that of Dorset or Rochester, and turned his mind to official and
parliamentary business. It is written that {336}the ingenious person
who undertook to instruct Rasselas, prince of Abyssinia, in the art of
flying, ascended an eminence, waved his wings, sprang into the air, and
instantly dropped into the lake. But it is added that the wings, which
were unable to support him through the sky, bore him up effectually as
soon as he was in the water. This is no bad type of the fate of Charles
Montague, and of men like him. When he attempted to soar into the
regions of poetical invention, he altogether failed; but, as soon as
he had descended from that ethereal elevation into a lower and grosser
element, his talents instantly raised him above the mass. He became a
distinguished financier, debater, courtier, and party leader. He still
retained his fondness for the pursuits of his early days; but he
showed that fondness not by wearying the public with his own feeble
performances, but by discovering and encouraging literary excellence in
others. A crowd of wits and poets, who would easily have vanquished him
as a competitor, revered him as a judge and a patron. In his plans for
the encouragement of learning, he was cordially supported by the ablest
and most virtuous of his colleagues, Lord Chancellor Somers. Though both
these great statesmen had a sincere love of letters, it was not solely
from a love of letters that they were desirous to enlist youths of high
intellectual qualifications in the public service. The Revolution had
altered the whole system of government. Before that event the press had
been controlled by censors, and the Parliament had sat only two months
in eight years. Now the press was free, and had begun to exercise
unprecedented influence on the public mind. Parliament met annually
and sat long. The chief power in the State had passed to the House of
Commons. At such a conjuncture, it was {337}natural that literary
and oratorical talents should rise in value. There was danger that a
Government which neglected such talents might be subverted by them. It
was, therefore, a profound and enlightened policy which led Montague and
Somers to attach such talents to the Whig party, by the strongest ties
both of interest and of gratitude.

It is remarkable that in a neighbouring country, we have recently seen
similar effects follow from similar causes. The revolution of July 1830
established representative government, in France. The men of letters
instantly rose to the highest importance in the state. At the present
moment most of the persons whom we see at the head both of the
Administration and of the Opposition, have been Professors, Historians,
Journalists, Poets. The influence of the literary class in England,
during the generation which followed the R\xE9volution, was great, but by
no means so great as it has lately been in France. For, in England,
the aristocracy of intellect had to contend with a powerful and deeply
rooted aristocracy of a very different kind. France had no Somersets and
Shrewsburies to keep down her Addisons and Priors.

It was in the year 1699, when Addison had just completed his
twenty-seventh year, that the course of his life was finally determined.
Both the great chiefs of the Ministry were kindly disposed towards him.
In political opinions he already was what he continued to be through
life, a firm, though a moderate Whig. He had addressed the most polished
and vigorous of his early English lines to Somers, and had dedicated to
Montague a Latin poem, truly Virgilian, both in style and rhythm, on
the peace of Ryswick. The wish of the young poet\x92s great friends was, it
should seem, to {338}employ him in the service of the crown abroad.
But an intimate knowledge of the French language was a qualification
indispensable to a diplomatist; and this qualification Addison had not
acquired. It was, therefore, thought desirable that he should pass some
time on the Continent in preparing himself for official employment. His
own means were not such as would enable him to travel: but a pension of
three hundred pounds a year was procured for him by the interest of the
Lord Chancellor. It seems to have been apprehended that some difficulty
might be started by the rulers of Magdalene College. But the Chancellor
of the Exchequer wrote in the strongest terms to Hough. The State--such
was the purport of Montague\x92s letter--could not, at that time, spare to
the Church such a man as Addison. Too many high civil posts were
already occupied by adventurers, who, destitute of every liberal art
and sentiment, at once pillaged and disgraced the country which they
pretended to serve. It had become necessary to recruit for the public
service from a very different class, from that class of which Addison
was the representative. The close of the Minister\x92s letter was
remarkable. \x93I am called,\x94 he said, \x93an enemy of the Church. But I will
never do it any other injury than keeping Mr. Addison out of it.\x94

This interference was successful; and, in the summer of 1699, Addison,
made a rich man by his pension, and still retaining his fellowship,
quitted his beloved Oxford, and set out on his travels. He crossed from
Dover to Calais, proceeded to Paris, and was received there with great
kindness and politeness by a kinsman of his friend Montague, Charles
Earl of Manchester, who had just been appointed Ambassador to the
Court of France. The Countess, a Whig and a toast, was probably as
{339}gracious as her lord; for Addison long retained an agreeable
recollection of the impression which she at this time made on him,
and, in some lively lines written on the glasses of the Kit Cat Club,
described the envy which her cheeks, glowing with the genuine bloom of
England, had excited among the painted beauties of Versailles.

Lewis the Fourteenth was at this time expiating the vices of his youth
by a devotion which had no root in reason, and bore no fruit of charity.
The servile literature of France had chanced its character to snit the
changed character of the prince. No book appeared that had not an air of
sanctity. Racine, who was just dead, had passed the close of his life
in writing sacred dramas: and Dacier was seeking for the Athanasian
mysteries in Plato. Addison described this state of things in a short
but lively and graceful letter to Montague. Another letter, written
about the same time to the Lord Chancellor, conveyed the strongest
assurances of gratitude and attachment. \x93The only return I can make to
your Lordship,\x94 said Addison, \x93will be to apply myself entirely to my
business.\x94 With this view he quitted Paris and repaired to Blois, a
place where it was supposed that the French language was spoken in its
highest purity, and where not a single Englishman could be found. Here
he passed some months pleasantly and profitably. Of his way of life at
Blois, one of his associates, an Abb\xE9 named Philippeaux, gave an account
to Joseph Spence. If this account is to be trusted, Addison studied
much, mused much, talked little, had fits of absence, and either had
no love affairs, or was too discreet to confide them to the Abb\xE9. A man
who, even when surrounded by fellow countrymen and fellow students,
had always been remarkably shy and {340}silent, was not likely to be
loquacious in a foreign tongue, and among foreign companions. But it is
clear from Addison\x92s letters, some of which were long after published
in the Guardian, that, while he appeared to be absorbed in his own
meditations, he was really observing French society with that keen and
sly, yet not ill-natured side glance, which was peculiarly his own.

From Blois he returned to Paris; and, having now mastered the French
language, found great pleasure in the society of French philosophers and
poets. He gave an account, in a letter to Bishop Hough, of two highly
interesting conversations, one with Malbranche, the other with Boileau.
Malbranche expressed great partiality for the English, and extolled the
genius of Newton, but shook his head when Hobbes was mentioned, and was
indeed so unjust as to call the author of the Leviathan a poor silly
creature. Addison\x92s modesty restrained him from fully relating, in
his letter, the circumstances of his introduction to Boileau. Boileau,
having survived the friends and rivals of his youth, old, deaf, and
melancholy, lived in retirement, seldom went either to Court or to the
Academy, and was almost inaccessible to strangers. Of the English and
of English literature he knew nothing. He had hardly heard the name of
Dryden. Some of our countrymen, in the warmth of their patriotism, have
asserted that this ignorance must have been affected. We own that we see
no ground for such a supposition. English literature was to the French
of the age of Lewis the Fourteenth what German literature was to our own
grandfathers. Very few, we suspect, of the accomplished men who, sixty
or seventy years ago, used to dine in Leicester Square with Sir Joshua,
or at Streatham with Mrs. Thrale, had the slightest notion {341}that
Wieland was one of the first wits and poets, and Lessing, beyond all
dispute, the first critic in Europe. Boileau knew just as little about
the Paradise Lost, and about Absalom and Ahitophel; but he had read
Addison\x92s Latin poems, and admired them greatly. They had given him, he
said, quite a new notion of the state of learning and taste among
the English. Johnson will have it that these praises were insincere.
\x93Nothing,\x94 says he, \x93is better known of Boileau than that He bad an
injudicious and peevish contempt of modern Latin; and therefore his
profession of regard was probably the effect of his civility rather than
approbation.\x94 Now, nothing is better known of Boileau than that he
was singularly sparing of compliments. We do not remember that either
friendship or fear ever induced him to bestow praise on any composition
which he did not approve. On literary questions, his caustic,
disdainful, and selfconfident spirit rebelled against that authority to
which every thing else in France bowed down. He had the spirit to tell
Lewis the Fourteenth firmly and even rudely, that his Majesty knew
nothing about poetry, and admired verses which were detestable. What was
there in Addison\x92s position that could induce the satirist, whose stern
and fastidious temper had been the dread of two generations, to turn
sycophant for the first and last time? Nor was Boileau\x92s contempt of
modern Latin either injudicious or peevish. He thought, indeed, that no
poem of the first order would ever be written in a dead language. And
did he think amiss? Has not the experience of centuries confirmed his
opinion? Boileau also thought it probable that, in the best modern
Latin, a writer of the Augustan age would have detected ludicrous
improprieties. {342}And who can think otherwise? That modern scholar
can honestly declare that he sees the smallest impurity in the style of
Livy? Yet is it not certain that, in the style of Livy, Pollio, whose
taste had been formed on the banks of the Tiber, detected the inelegant
idiom of the Po? Has any modern scholar understood Latin better than
Frederic the Great understood French? Yet is it not notorious that
Frederic the Great, after reading, speaking, writing French, and nothing
but French, during more than half a century, after unlearning his mother
tongue in order to learn French, after living familiarly during many
years with French associates, could not, to the last, compose in French,
without imminent, risk of committing some mistake which would have moved
a smile in the literary circles of Paris? Do we believe that Erasmus and
Fracastorius wrote Latin as well as Dr. Robertson and Sir Walter Scott
wrote English? And are there not in the Dissertation on India, the last
of Dr. Robertson\x92s works, in Waverley, in Marmion, Scotticisms at which
a London apprentice would laugh? But does it follow, because we think
thus, that we can find nothing to admire in the noble alcaics of Gray,
or in the playful elegiacs of Vincent Bourne? Surely not. Nor was
Boileau so ignorant or tasteless as to be incapable of appreciating
good modern Latin. In the very letter to which Johnson alludes, Boileau
says--\x93Ne croyez pas pourtant que je veuille par la bl\xE2mer les vers
Latins que vous m\x92avez envoy\xE9s d\x92un de vos illustres acad\xE9miciens. Je
les ai trouv\xE9s fort beaux, et dignes de Vida et de Sannazar, mais non
pas d\x92Horace et de Virgile.\x94 Several poems, in modern Latin, have been
praised by Boileau quite as liberally as it was his habit to praise
anything. He says, for example, of the {343}P\xE8re Fragnier\x92s epigrams,
that Catullus seems to have come to life again. But the best proof that
Boileau did not feel the undiscerning contempt for modern Latin verses
which has been imputed to him, is, that he wrote and published Latin
verses in several metres. Indeed it happens, curiously enough, that the
most severe censure ever pronounced by him on modern Latin is conveyed
in Latin hexameters. We allude to the fragment which begins--

               \x93Quid numeris iterum me balbutire Latinis,

               Longe Alpes citra uatum de p\xE2tre Sicambro,

               Rusa, jub\xE9s?\x94

For these reasons we feel assured that the praise which Boileau bestowed
on the _Machines Gesticulantes_, and the _Grerano-Pygmoomachia_, was
sincere. He certainly opened himself to Addison with a freedom which
was a sure indication of esteem. Literature was the chief subject of
conversation. The old man talked on his favourite theme much and well,
indeed, as his young hearer thought, incomparably well. Boileau
had undoubtedly some of the qualities of a great critic. He wanted
imagination; but he had strong sense. His literary code was formed
on narrow principles; but in applying it, he showed great judgment and
penetration. In mere style, abstracted from the ideas of which style is
the garb, his taste was excellent. He was well acquainted with the great
Greek writers; and, though unable fully to appreciate their creative
genius, admired the majestic simplicity of their manner, and had learned
from them to despise bombast and tinsel. It is easy, we think, lo
discover, in the Spectator and the Guardian, traces of the influence, in
part salutary and in part pernicious, which the mind of Boileau had
on the mind of Addison. {344}While Addison was at Paris, an event took
place which made that capital a disagreeable residence for an Englishman
and a Whig. Charles, second of the name, King of Spain, died; and
bequeathed his dominions to Philip, Duke of Anjou, a younger son of the
Dauphin. The King of France, in direct violation of his engagements both
with Great Britain and with the States General, accepted the bequest on
behalf of his grandson. The house of Bourbon was at the summit of human
grandeur. England had been outwitted, and found herself in a situation
at once degrading and perilous. The people of France, not presaging the
calamities by which they were destined to expiate the perfidy of their
sovereign, went mad with pride and delight. Every man looked as if a
great estate had just been left him. \x93The French conversation,\x94 said
Addison, \x93begins to grow insupportable; that which was before the
vainest nation in the world is now worse than ever.\x94 Sick of the
arrogant exultation of the Parisians, and probably foreseeing that the
peace between France and England could not be of long duration, he set
off for Italy.

In December 1700 (1) he embarked at Marseilles. As He glided along
the Ligurian coast, he was delighted by the sight of myrtles and olive
trees, which retained their verdure under the winter solstice. Soon,
however, he encountered one of the black storms of the Mediterranean.
The captain of the ship gave up all for lost, and confessed himself to a
capuchin who happened

     (1) It is strange that Addison should, in the first line of
     his travels, have misdated his departure from Marseilles by
     a whole year, and still more strange that this slip of the
     pen, which throws the whole narrative into inextricable
     confusion, should have been repeated in a succession of
     editions, and never detected by Tickell or by Hurd.

{345}to be on board. The English heretic, in the mean time, fortified
himself against the terrors of death with devotions of a very different
kind. How strong an impression this perilous voyage made on him, appears
from the ode, \x93How are thy servants blest, O Lord!\x94 which was long after
published in the Spectator. After some da vs of discomfort and danger,
Addison was glad to land at Savona, and to make his way, over mountains
where no road had yet been hewn out by art, to the city of Genoa.

At Genoa, still ruled by her own Doge, and by the nobles whose names
were inscribed on her Book of Gold, Addison made a short stay. He
admired the narrow streets overhung by long lines of towering palaces,
the walls rich with frescoes, the gorgeous temple of the Annunciation,
and the tapestries whereon were recorded the long glories of the house
of Doria. Thence he hastened to Milan, where he contemplated the Gothic
magnificence of the cathedral with more wonder than pleasure. He passed
Lake Benacus while a gale was blowing, and saw the waves raging as they
raged when Virgil looked upon them. At Venice, then the gayest spot in
Europe, the traveller spent the Carnival, the gayest season of the year,
in the midst of masques, dances, and serenades. Here he was at once
disputed and provoked, by the absurd dramatic pieces which then
disgraced the Italian stage. To one of those pieces, however, he was
indebted for a valuable hint. He was present when a ridiculous play
on the death of Cato was performed. Cato, it seems, was in love with a
daughter of Scipio. The lady had given her heart to C\xE6sar. The rejected
lover determined to destroy himself. He appeared seated in his library,
a dagger in his hand, a Plutarch and a Tasso before him; and, in this
{346}position, He pronounced a soliloquy before He struck the blow.
We are surprised that so remarkable a circumstance as this should
have escaped the notice of all Addison\x92s biographers. There cannot,
we conceive, be the smallest doubt that this scene, in spite of its
absurdities and anachronisms, struck the traveller\x92s imagination, and
suggested to him the thought of bringing Cato on the English stage. It
is well known that about this time he began his tragedy, and that he
finished the first four acts before he returned to England.

On his way from Venice to Rome, he was drawn some miles out of the
beaten road by a wish to see the smallest independent state in Europe.
On a rock where the snow still lay, though the Italian spring was now
far advanced, was perched the little fortress of San Marino. The roads
which led to the secluded town were so bad that few travellers had ever
visited it, and none had ever published an account of it. Addison could
not suppress a goodnatured smile at the simple manners and institutions
of this singular community. But he observed, with the exultation of a
Whig, that the rude mountain tract which formed the territory of the
republic swarmed with an honest, healthy, and contented peasantry, while
the rich plain which surrounded the metropolis of civil and spiritual
tyranny was scarcely less desolate than the uncleared wilds of America.

At Rome Addison remained on his first visit only long enough to catch
a glimpse of St. Peter\x92s and of the Pantheon. His haste is the more
extraordinary because the Holy Week was close at hand. He has given
no hint which can enable us to pronounce why he chose to fly from a
spectacle which every year allures from distant regions persons of far
less taste and {347}sensibility than his. Possibly, travelling, as He
did, at the charge of a Government distinguished by its enmity to the
Church of Rome, he may have thought that it would be imprudent in him to
assist at the most magnificent rite of that Church. Many eyes would be
upon him; and he might find it difficult to behave in such a manner as
to give offence neither to his patrons in England, nor to those among
whom he resided. Whatever his motives may have been, he turned his back
on the most august and affecting ceremony which is known among men, and
posted along the Appian way to Naples.

Naples was then destitute of what are now, perhaps, its chief
attractions. The lovely bay and the awful mountain were indeed there.
But a farmhouse stood on the theatre of Herculaneum, and rows of vines
grew over the streets of Pompeii. The temples of P\xE6stum had not indeed
been hidden from the eye of man by any great convulsion of nature;
but, strange to say, their existence was a secret even to artists and
antiquaries. Though situated within a few hours\x92 journey of a great
capital, where Salvator had not long before painted, and where Vico was
then lecturing, those noble remains were as little known to Europe as
the ruined cities overgrown by the forests of Yucatan. What was to be
seen at Naples, Addison saw. He climbed Vesuvius, explored the tunnel of
Posilipo, and wandered among the vines and almond trees of Capre\xE6. But
neither the wonders of nature, nor those of art, could so occupy his
attention as to prevent him from noticing, though cursorily, the abuses
of the government and the misery of the people. The great kingdom which
had just descended to Philip the Fifth, was in a state of paralytic
dotage. Even Castile and {348}Aragon were sunk in wretchedness. Yet,
compared with the Italian dependencies of the Spanish crown, Castile and
Aragon might be called prosperous. It is clear that all the observations
which Addison made in Italy tended to confirm him in the political
opinions which he had adopted at home. To the last, he always spoke of
foreign travel as the best cure for Jacobitism. In his Freeholder, the
Troy foxhunter asks what travelling is good for, except to teach a man
to jabber French, and to talk against passive obedience.

From Naples, Addison returned to Rome by sea, along the coast which his
favourite Virgil had celebrated. The felucca passed the headland where
the oar and trumpet were placed by the Trojan adventurers on the tomb
of Misenus, and anchored at night under the shelter of the fabled
promontory of Circe. The voyage ended in the Tiber, still overhung with
dark verdure, and still turbid with yellow sand, as when it met the eyes
of \xC6neas. From the ruined port of Ostia, the stranger hurried to Rome;
and at Rome he remained during those hot and sickly months when, even in
the Augustan age, all who could make their escape fled from mad dogs and
from streets black with funerals, to gather the first figs of the season
in the country. It is probable that, when he, long after, poured forth
in verse his gratitude to the Providence which had enabled him to
breathe unhurt in tainted air, he was thinking of the August and
September which he passed at Rome.

It was not till the latter end of October that he tore himself away from
the masterpieces of ancient and modern art which are collected in the
city so long the mistress of the world. He then journeyed northward,
passed through Sienna, and for a moment forgot his {349}prejudices
in favour of classic architecture as he looked on the magnificent
cathedral. At Florence he spent some days with the Duke of Shrewsbury,
who, cloyed with the pleasures of ambition, and impatient of its pains,
fearing both parties, and loving neither, had determined to hide in
an Italian retreat talents and accomplishments which, if they had been
united with fixed principles and civil courage, might have made him the
foremost man of his age. These days, we are told, passed pleasantly; and
we can easily believe it. For Addison was a delightful companion when
he was at his ease; and the Duke, though he seldom forgot that he was a
Talbot, had the invaluable art of putting at ease all who came near him.

Addison gave some time to Florence, and especially to the sculptures
in the Museum, which he preferred even to those of the Vatican. He then
pursued his journey through a country in which the ravages of the last
war were still discernible, and in which all men were looking forward
with a dread to a still fiercer conflict. Eugene had already descended
from the Rh\xE6tian Alps, to dispute with Catinat the rich plain of
Lombardy. The faithless ruler of Savoy was still reckoned amoung the
allies of Lewis. England had not yet actually declared war against
France: but Manchester had left Paris: and the negotiations which
produced the Grand Alliance against the House of Bourbon were in
progress. Under such circumstances, it was desirable for an English
traveller to reach neutral ground without delay. Addison resolved to
cross Mont Cenis. It was December; and the road was very different from
that which now reminds the stranger of the power and genius of Napoleon.
The winter, however, was mild; and the passage was, for {350}those
times, easy. To this journey Addison alluded when, in the ode which we
have already quoted, he said that for him the Divine goodness had warmed
the hoary Alpine hills.

It was in the midst of the eternal snow that he composed his Epistle
to his friend Montague, now Lord Halifax. That Epistle, once widely
renowned, is now known only to curious readers, and will hardly be
considered by those to whom it is known as in any perceptible degree
heightening Addison\x92s fame. It is, however, decidedly superior to any
English composition which he had previously published. Nay, we think
it quite as good as any poem in heroic metre which appeared during the
interval between the death of Dryden and the publication of the Essay on
Criticism. It contains passages as good as the second-rate passages of
Pope, and would have added to the reputation of Parnell or Prior.

But, whatever be the literary merits or defects of the Epistle, it
undoubtedly does honour to the principles and spirit of the author.
Halifax had now nothing to give. He had fallen from power, had been held
up to obloquy, had been impeached by the House of Commons, and, though
his Peers had dismissed the impeachment, had, as it seemed, little
chance of ever again filling high office. The Epistle, written at such a
time, is one among many proofs that there was no mixture of cowardice or
meanness in the suavity and moderation which distinguished Addison from
all the other public men of those stormy times.

At Geneva, the traveller learned that a partial change of ministry
had taken place in England, and that the Earl of Manchester had become
Secretary of State. Manchester exerted himself to serve his young
{351}friend. It was thought advisable that an English agent should
be near the person of Eugene in Italy; and Addison, whose diplomatic
education was now finished, was the man selected. He was preparing to
enter on his honourable functions, when all his prospects were for a
time darkened by the death of William the Third.

Anne had long felt a strong aversion, personal, political, and
religious, to the Whig party. That aversion appeared in the first
measures of her reign. Manchester was deprived of the seals, after he
had held them only a few weeks. Neither Somers nor Halifax was sworn
of the Privy Council. Addison shared the fate of his three patrons. His
hopes of employment in the public service were at an end; his pension
was stopped; and it was necessary for him to support himself by his own
exertions. He became tutor to a young English traveller, and appears to
have rambled with his pupil over great part of Switzerland and Germany.
At this time he wrote his pleasing treatise on Medals. It was not
published till after his death; but several distinguished scholars saw
the manuscript, and gave just praise to the grace of the style, and to
the learning and ingenuity evinced by the quotations.

From Germany Addison repaired to Holland, where he learned the
melancholy news of his father\x92s death. After passing some months in
the United Provinces, he returned about the close of the year 1703 to
England. He was there cordially received by his friends, and introduced
by them into the Kit Cat Club, a society in which were collected all the
various talents and accomplishments which then gave lustre to the Whig

Addison was, during some months after his return {352}from the
Continent, hard pressed by pecuniary difficulties. But it was soon in
the power of his noble patrons to serve him effectually. A political
change, silent and gradual, but of the highest importance, was in daily
progress. The accession of Anne had been hailed by the Tories with
transports of joy and hope; and for a time it seemed that the Whigs had
fallen never to rise again. The throne was surrounded by men supposed to
be attached to the prerogative and to the Church; and among these none
stood so high in the favour of the sovereign as the Lord Treasurer
Godolphin and the Captain General Marlborough.

The country gentlemen and country clergymen had fully expected that the
policy of these ministers would be directly opposed to that which had
been almost constantly followed by William; that the landed interest
would be favoured at the expense of trade; that no addition would be
made to the funded debt; that the privileges conceded to Dissenters by
the late King would be curtailed, if not withdrawn; that the war with
France, if there must, be such a war, would, on our part, be almost
entirely naval; and that the Government would avoid close connections
with foreign powers, and, above all, with Holland.

But the country gentlemen and country clergymen were fated to be
deceived, not For the last time. The prejudices and passions which
raged without control in vicarages, in cathedral closes, and in the
manor-houses of foxhunting squires, were not shared by the chiefs of the
ministry. Those statesmen saw that it was both for the public interest,
and for their own interest, to adopt a Whig policy, at least as
respected the alliances of the country and the conduct of the war.
But, if the foreign policy of the Whigs were adopted, it was
{353}impossible to abstain from adopting also their financial policy. The
natural consequences followed. The rigid Tories were alienated from the
Government. The votes of the Whigs became necessary to it. The votes
of the Whigs could be secured only by further concessions; and further
concessions the Queen was induced to make.

At the beginning of the year 1704, the state of parties bore a close
analogy to the state of parties in 1826. In 1826, as in 1704, there was
a Tory ministry divided into two hostile sections. The position of Mr.
Canning and his friends in 1826 corresponded to that which Marlborough
and Godolphin occupied in 1704. Nottingham and Jersey were, in 1704,
what Lord Eldon and Lord Westmoreland were in 1826. The Whigs of 1704
were in a situation resembling that in which the Whigs of 1826 stood. In
1704, Somers, Halifax, Sunderland, Cowper, were not in office. There was
no avowed coalition between them and the moderate Tories. It is probable
that no direct communication tending to such a coalition had yet taken
place; yet all men saw that such a coalition was inevitable, nay, that
it was already half formed. Such, or nearly such, was the state of
things when tidings arrived of the great battle fought at Blenheim on
the 13th Almost, 1704. By the Whigs the news was hailed with transports
of joy and pride. No fault, no cause of quarrel, could be remembered
by them against the Commander whose genius had, in one day, changed the
face of Europe, saved the Imperial throne, humbled the House of Bourbon,
and secured the Act of Settlement against foreign hostility. The
feeling of the Tories was very different. They could not indeed, without
imprudence, openly express regret at an event so glorious to their
{354}country: but their congratulations were so cold and sullen as to
give deep disgust to the victorious general and his friends.

Godolphin was not a reading man. Whatever time he could spare from
business he was in the habit of spending at Newmarket or at the card
table. But he was not absolutely indifferent to poetry; and he was too
intelligent an observer not to perceive that literature was a formidable
engine of political warfare, and that the great Whig leaders had
strengthened their party, and raised their character, by extending a
liberal and judicious patronage to good writers. He was mortified, and
not without reason, by the exceeding badness of the poems which appeared
in honour of the battle of Blenheim. One of these poems has been rescued
from oblivion by the exquisite absurdity of three lines.

               \x93Think of two thousand gentlemen at least,

               And each man mounted on his capering beast;

               Into the Danube they were pushed by shoals.\x94

Where to procure better verses the Treasurer did not know. He understood
how to negotiate a loan, or remit a subsidy: he was also well versed in
the history of running horses and fighting cocks; but his acquaintance
among the poets was very small. He consulted Halifax: but Halifax
affected to decline the office of adviser. He had, he said, done
his best, when he had power, to encourage men whose abilities and
acquirements might do honour to their country. Those times were over.
Other maxims had prevailed. Merit was suffered to pine in obscurity;
and the public money was squandered on the undeserving. \x93I do know,\x94 he
added, \x93a gentleman who would celebrate the battle in a manner worthy of
the subject; but I will not name {355}him.\x94 Godolphin, who was expert
at the soft answer which turneth away wrath, and who was under the
necessity of paying court to the Whigs, gently replied that there was
too much ground for Halifax\x92s complaints, but that what was amiss should
in time he rectified, and that in the mean time the services of a man
such as Halifax had described should be liberally rewarded. Halifax
then mentioned Addison, but, mindful of the dignity as well as of the
pecuniary interest of his friend, insisted that the Minister should
apply in the most courteous manner to Addison himself; and this
Godolphin promised to do.

Addison then occupied a garret up three pair of stairs, over a small
shop in the Haymarket. In this humble lodging he was surprised, on the
morning which followed the conversation between Godolphin and Halifax,
by a visit from no less a person than the Right Honourable Henry Boyle,
then Chancellor of the Exchequer, and afterwards Lord Carleton. This
high-born minister had been sent by the Lord Treasurer as ambassador
to the needy poet. Addison readily undertook the proposed task, a task
which, to so good at Whig, was probably a pleasure. When the poem was
little more than Half finished, he showed it to Godolphin, who was
delighted with it, and particularly with the famous similitude of the
Angel. Addison was instantly appointed to a Commissionership worth about
two hundred pounds a year, and was assured that this appointment was
only an earnest of greater favours.

The Campaign came forth, and was as much admired by the public as by the
Minister. It pleases us less on the whole than the Epistle to Halifax.
Yet it undoubtedly ranks high among the poems which appeared during the
interval between the death of Dryden {356}and the dawn of Pope\x92s genius.
The chief merit of the Campaign, we think, is that which was noticed by
Johnson, the manly and rational rejection of fiction. The first great
poet whose works have come down to us sang of war long before war became
a science or a trade. If, in his time, there was enmity between two
little Greek towns, each poured forth its crowd of citizens, ignorant
of discipline, and armed with implements of labour rudely turned into
weapons. On each side appeared conspicuous a few chiefs, whose wealth
had enabled them to procure good armour, horses, and chariots, and whose
leisure had enabled them to practise military exercises. One such chief,
if he were a man of great strength, agility, and courage, would probably
be more formidable than twenty common men; and the force and dexterity
with which he flung his spear might have no inconsiderable share in
deciding the event of the day.\x92 Such were probably the battles with
which Homer was familiar. But Homer related the actions of men of a
former generation, of men who sprang from the Gods, and communed with
the Gods face to face, of men, one of whom could with ease hurl rocks
which two sturdy hinds of a later period would be unable even to lift,
He therefore naturally represented their martial exploits as resembling
in kind, but far surpassing in magnitude, those of the stoutest ana most
expert combatants of his own age. Achilles, clad in celestial armour,
drawn by celestial coursers, grasping the spear which none but himself
could raise, driving all Troy and Lycia before him, and choking
Seamander with dead, was only a magnificent exaggeration of the real
hero, who, strong, fearless, accustomed to the use of weapons, guarded
by a shield and helmet of the best Sidonian fabric, and whirled along by
horses {357}of Thessalian breed, struck down with his own right arm foe
after foe. In all rude societies similar notions are found. There are at
this day countries where the Lifeguardsman Shaw would be considered as
a much greater warrior than the Duke of Wellington. Buonaparte loved
to describe the astonishment with which the Mamelukes looked at his
diminutive figure. Mourad Bey, distinguished above all his fellows by
his bodily strength, and by the skill with which he managed his horse
and his sabre, could not believe that a man who was scarcely five feet
high, and rode like a butcher, could be the greatest soldier in Europe.

Homer\x92s descriptions of war had therefore as much truth as poetry
requires. But truth was altogether wanting to the performances of those
who, writing about battles which had scarcely any thing in common with
the battles of his times, servilely imitated his manner. The folly of
Silius Italicus, in particular, is positively nauseous. He undertook to
record in verse the vicissitudes of a great struggle between generals
of the first order: and his narrative is made up of the hideous wounds
which these generals inflicted with their own hands. Asdrubal flings a
spear which grazes the shoulder of the consul Nero; but Nero sends his
spear into Asdrubal\x92s side. Fabius slays Thuris and Butes and Maris
and Arses, and the longhaired Adherbes, and the gigantic Thylis, and
Sapharus and Momesus, and the trumpeter Morinus. Hannibal runs Perusinus
through the groin with a stake, and breaks the backbone of Telesinus
with a huge stone. This detestable fashion was copied in modern times,
and continued to prevail down to the age of Addison. Several versifiers
had described William turning thousands to flight by his single prowess,
and dyeing the Boyne with Irish {358}blood. Nay, so estimable a writer
as John Philips, the author of the Splendid Shilling, represented
Marlborough as having won the battle of Blenheim merely by strength of
muscle and skill in fence. The following lines may serve as an example:

                        \x93Churchill, viewing where

               The violence of Tallard most prevailed,

               Came to oppose his slaughtering arm. With speed

               Precipitate he rode, urging his wav

               O\x92er hills of gasping heroes, and fallen steeds

               Rolling in death. Destruction, grim with blood,

               Attends his furious course. Around his head

               The glowing balls play innocent, while he

               With dire impetuous sway deals fatal blows

               Among the flying Gauls. In Gallic blood

               He dyes his reeking sword, and strews the ground

               With headless ranks. What can they do? Or how

               Withstand his wide-destroying sword?\x94

Addison, with excellent sense and taste, departed from this ridiculous
fashion. He reserved his praise for the qualities which made Marlborough
truly great, energy, sagacity, military science. But, above all,
the poet extolled the firmness of that mind which, in the midst of
confusion, uproar, and slaughter, examined and disposed every thing
with the serene wisdom of a higher intelligence.

Here it was that he introduced the famous comparison of Marlborough to
an Angel guiding the whirlwind we will not dispute the general
justice of Johnson\x92s remarks on this passage. But we must point out
one circumstance which appears to have escaped all the critics. The
extraordinary effect which this simile produced when it first appeared,
and which to the following generation seemed inexplicable, is doubtless
to be chiefly attributed to a line which most readers now regard as a
feeble parenthesis,

               \x93Such as, of late, o\x92er pale Britannia pass\x92d.\x94

{359}Addison spoke, not of a storm, but of the storm. The great tempest
of November 1703, the only tempest which in our latitude has equalled
the rage of a tropical hurricane, had left a dreadful recollection in
the minds of all men. No other tempest was ever in this country the
occasion of a parliamentary address or of a public fast. Whole fleets
had been cast away. Large mansions had been blown down. One Prelate
had been buried beneath the ruins of his palace. London and Bristol had
presented the appearance of cities just sacked. Hundreds of families
were still in mourning. The prostrate trunks of large trees, and the
ruins of houses, still attested, in all the southern counties, the fury
of the blast. The popularity which the simile of the angel enjoyed among
Addison\x92s contemporaries, has always seemed to us to be a remarkable
instance of the advantage which, in rhetoric and poetry, the particular
has over the general.

Soon after the Campaign, was published Addison\x92s Narrative of his
Travels in Italy. The first effect produced by this Narrative was
disappointment. The crowd of readers who expected politics and scandal,
speculations on the projects of Victor Amadeus, and anecdotes about
the jollities of convents and the amours of cardinals and nuns, were
confounded by finding that the writer\x92s mind was much more occupied by
the war between the Trojans and Rutulians than by the war between France
and Austria; and that he seemed to have heard no scandal of later date
than the gallantries of the Empress Faustina. In time, however, the
judgment of the many was overruled by that of the few; and, before the
book was reprinted, it was so eagerly sought that it sold for five times
the original price. It is still read with pleasure: the style is pure
and flowing; {360}the classical quotations and allusions are numerous
and happy; and we are now and then charmed by that singularly humane and
delicate humour in which Addison excelled all men. Yet this agreeable
work, even when considered merely as the history of a literary tour, may
justly be censured on account of its faults of omission. We have already
said that, though rich in extracts from the Latin poets, it contains
scarcely any references to the Latin orators and historians. We must
add, that it contains little, or rather no information, respecting the
history and literature of modern Italy. To the best of our remembrance,
Addison does not mention Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Boiardo, Berni,
Lorenzo de Medici, or Machiavelli. He coldly tells us that at Ferrara he
saw the tomb of Ariosto, and that at Venice he beard the gondoliers sing
verses of Tasso. But for Tasso and Ariosto he cared far less than for
Valerius Flaccus and Sidonius Apolinaris. The gentle flow of the Ticin
brings a line of Silius to his mind. The sulphurous steam of Albula
suggests to him several passages of Martial. But he has not a word
to say of the illustrious dead of Santa Croce; he crosses the wood of
Ravenna without recollecting the Spectre Huntsman, and wanders up and
down Rimini without one thought of Francesca. At Paris he had eagerly
sought an introduction to Boileau; but he seems not to have been at
all aware that at Florence he was in the vicinity of a poet with whom
Boileau could not sustain a comparison, of the greatest lyric poet of
modern times, Vincenzio Filicaja. This is the more remarkable, because
Filicaja was the favourite poet of the accomplished Somers, under whose
protection Addison travelled, and to whom the account of the Travels is
dedicated. The truth is, that Addison knew {361}little, and cared less,
about the literature of modern Italy. His favourite models were Latin.
His favourite critics were French. Half the Tuscan poetry that he had
read seemed to him monstrous, and the other half tawdry.

His Travels were followed by the lively Opera of Rosamond. This
piece was ill set to music, and therefore foiled on the stage, but it
completely succeeded in print, and is indeed excellent in its kind. The
smoothness with which the verses glide, and the elasticity with which
they hound, is, to our ears at least, very pleasing. We are inclined to
think that if Addison had left heroic couplets to Pope, and blank verse
to Rowe, and had employed himself in writing airy and spirited songs,
his reputation as a poet would have stood far higher than it now does.
Some years after his death, Rosamond was set to new music by Doctor
Arne; and was performed with complete success. Several passages long
retained their popularity, and were daily sung, during the latter part
of George the Second\x92s reign, at all the harpsichords in England.

While Addison thus amused himself, his prospects, and the prospects of
his party, were constantly becoming brighter and brighter. In the spring
of 1705 the ministers were freed from the restraint imposed by a
House of Commons in which Tories of the most perverse class had the
ascendency. The elections were favourable to the Whigs. The coalition
which had been tacitly and gradually formed was now openly avowed. The
Great Seal was given to Cowper. Somers and Halifax were sworn of the
Council. Halifax was sent in the following year to carry the decorations
of the order of the garter to the Electoral Prince of Hanover, and was
accompanied on this honourable mission by {362}Addison, who had just
been made Undersecretary of State. The Secretary of State under whom
Addison first served was Sir Charles Hedges, a Tory. But Hedges was soon
dismissed to make room for the most vehement of Whigs, Charles, Earl of
Sunderland. In every department of the state, indeed, the High Churchmen
were compelled to give place to their opponents. At the close of 1707,
the Tories who still remained in office strove to rally, with Harley
at their head. But the attempt, though favoured by the Queen, who had
always been a Tory at heart, and who had now quarrelled with the Duchess
of Marlborough, was unsuccessful. The time was not yet. The Captain
General was at the height of popularity and glory. The Low Church party
had a majority in Parliament. The country squires and rectors, though
occasionally uttering a savage growl, were for the most part in a state
of torpor, which lasted till they were roused into activity, and indeed
into madness, by the prosecution of Sacheverell.

Harley and his adherents were compelled to retire. The victory of the
Whigs was complete. At the general election of 1708, their strength in
the House of Commons became irresistible; and before the end of that
year. Somers was made Lord President of the Council, and Wharton Lord
Lieutenant of Ireland.

Addison sat for Malmsbury in the House of Commons which was elected
in 1708. But the House of Commons was not the field for him. The
bashfulness of his nature made his wit and eloquence useless in debate.
He once rose, but could not overcome his diffidence, and ever after
remained silent. Nobody can think it strange that a great writer should
fail as a speaker. But many, probably, will think it strange that
Addison\x92s failure as a speaker should have had {363}no unfavourable
effect on his success as a politician. In our time, a man of high rank
and great fortune might, though speaking very little and very ill,
hold a considerable post. But it would now be inconceivable that a mere
adventurer, a man who, when out of office, must live by his pen, should
in a few years become successively Undersecretary of State, chief
Secretary for Ireland, and Secretary of State, without some oratorical
talent. Addison, without high birth, and with little property, rose to a
post which Dukes, the heads of the great houses of Talbot, Russell, and
Bentinck, have thought it an honour to fill. Without opening his lips in
debate, he rose to a post, the highest that Chatham or Fox ever reached.
And this he did before he had been nine years in Parliament. We must
look for the explanation of this seeming miracle to the peculiar
circumstances in which that generation was placed. During the interval
which elapsed between the time when the Censorship of the Press ceased,
and the time when parliamentary proceedings began to be freely reported,
literary talents were, to a public man, of much more importance,
and oratorical talents of much less importance, than in our time. At
present, the best way of giving rapid and wide publicity to a fact or
an argument is to introduce that fact or argument into a speech made in
Parliament. If a political tract were to appear superior to the Conduct
of the Allies, or to the best numbers of the Freeholder, the circulation
of such a tract would be languid indeed when compared with the
circulation of every remarkable word uttered in the deliberations of
the legislature. A speech made in the House of Commons at four in the
morning is on thirty thousand tables before ten. A speech made on
the Monday is read on the Wednesday by multitudes {364}in Antrim and
Aberdeenshire. The orator, by the help of the shorthand writer, has to
a great extent superseded the pamphleteer. It was not so in the reign of
Anne. The best speech could then produce no effect except on those who
heard it. It was only by means of the press that the opinion of the
public without doors could be influenced; and the opinion of the public
without doors could not but be of the highest importance in a country
governed by parliaments, and indeed at that time governed by triennial
parliaments. The pen was therefore a more formidable political engine
than the tongue. Mr. Pitt and Mr. Fox contended only in Parliament. But
Walpole and Pulteney, the Pitt and Fox of an earlier period, had
not done half of what was necessary, when they sat down amidst the
acclamations of the House of Commons. They had still to plead their
cause before the country, and this they could only do by means of the
press. Their works are now forgotten. But it is certain that there
were in Grub Street few more assiduous scribblers of Thoughts, Letters,
Answers, Remarks, than these two great chiefs of parties. Pulteney,
when leader of the Opposition, and possessed of thirty thousand a year,
edited the Craftsman. Walpole, though not a man of literary habits, was
the author of at least ten pamphlets, and retouched and corrected many
more. These facts sufficiently show of how great importance literary
assistance then was to the contending parties. St. John was, certainly,
in Anne\x92s reign, the best Tory speaker; Cowper was probably the best
Whig speaker. But it may well be doubted whether St. John did so much
for the Tories as Swift, and whether Cowper did so much for the Whigs
as Addison. When these things are {365}July considered, it will not be
thought strange that Addison should have climbed higher in the state
than any other Englishman has ever, by means merely of literary talents,
been able to climb. Swift would, in all probability, have climbed as
high, if he had not been encumbered by his cassock and his pudding
sleeves. As far as the homage of the great went, Swift had as much of it
as if he had been Lord Treasurer.

To the influence which Addison derived from his literary talents was
added all the influence which arises from character. The world, always
ready to think the worst of needy political adventurers, was forced
to make one exception. Restlessness, violence, audacity, laxity of
principle, are the vices ordinarily attributed to that class of men. But
faction itself could not deny that Addison had, through all changes of
fortune, been strictly faithful to his early opinions, and to his early
friends; that his integrity was without stain; that his whole deportment
indicated a fine sense of the becoming; that, in the utmost heat of
controversy, his zeal was tempered by a regard for truth, humanity, and
social decorum; that no outrage could ever provoke him to retaliation
unworthy of a Christian and a gentleman; and that his only faults were a
too sensitive delicacy, and a modesty which amounted to bashfulness.

He was undoubtedly one of the most popular men of his time; and much
of his popularity he owed, we believe, to that very timidity which his
friends lamented. That timidity often prevented him from exhibiting his
talents to the best advantage. But it propitiated Nemesis. It averted
that envy which would otherwise have been excited by fame so splendid,
and by so rapid an elevation. No man is so great a favourite with the
public as he who is at once an object of admiration, of {366}respect,
and of pity; and such were the feelings which Addison inspired. Those
who enjoyed the privilege of hearing his familiar conversation, declared
with one voice that it was superior even to his writings. The brilliant
Mary Montague said, that she had known all the wits, and that Addison
was the best company in the world. The malignant Pope was forced to own,
that there was a charm in Addison\x92s talk, which could be found nowhere
else.. Swift, when burning with animosity against the Whigs, could not
but confess to Stella that, after all, he had never known any
associate so agreeable as Addison. Steele, an excellent judge of lively
conversation, said, that the conversation of Addison was at once the
most polite, and the most mirthful, that could be imagined; that it was
Terence and Catullus in one, heightened by an exquisite something which
was neither Terence nor Catullus, but Addison alone. Young, an excellent
judge of serious conversation, said, that when Addison was at his ease,
he went on in a noble strain of thought and language, so as to chain the
attention of every hearer. Bor were Addison\x92s great colloquial powers
more admirable than the courtesy and softness of heart which appeared in
his conversation. At the same time, it would be too much to say that he
was wholly devoid of the malice which is, perhaps, inseparable from
a keen sense of the ludicrous. He had one habit which both Swift and
Stella applauded, and which we hardly know how to blame. If his first
attempts to set a presuming dunce right were ill received, he changed
his tone, \x93assented with civil leer,\x94 and lured the flattered coxcomb
deeper and deeper into absurdity. That such was his practice we should,
we think, have guessed from his works. The Tatler\x92s criticisms on Mr.
Softly\x92s sonnet, and the {367}Spectator\x92s dialogue with the politician
who is so zealous for the honour of Lady Q--p--t--s, are excellent
specimens of this innocent mischief.

Such were Addison\x92s talents for conversation. But his rare gifts were
not exhibited to crowds or to strangers. As soon as he entered a large
company, as soon as he saw an unknown face, his lips were sealed,
and his manners became constrained. None who met him only in great
assemblies would have been able to believe that he was the same man who
had often kept a few friends listening and laughing round a table, from
the time when the play ended, till the clock of St. Paul\x92s in Covent
Garden struck four. Yet, even at such a table, he was not seen to the
best advantage. To enjoy his conversation in the highest perfection, it
was necessary to be alone with him, and to hear him, in his own
phrase, think aloud. \x93There is no such thing,\x94 he used to say, \x93as real
conversation, but between two persons.\x94

This timidity, a timidity surely neither ungraceful nor unamiable,
led Addison into the two most serious faults which can with justice be
imputed to him. He found that wine broke the spell which lay on his fine
intellect, and was therefore too easily seduced into convivial excess.
Such excess was in that age regarded, even by grave men, as the
most venial of all peccadilloes, and was so far from being a mark of
ill-breeding, that it was almost essential to the character of a fine
gentleman. But the smallest speck is seen on a white ground; and almost
all the biographers of Addison have said something about this failing.
Of any other statesman or writer of Queen Anne\x92s reign, we should no
more think of saying that he sometimes took too much wine, than that he
wore a long wig and a sword.

{368}To the excessive modesty of Addison\x92s nature we must ascribe
another fault which generally arises from a very different cause. He
became a little too fond of seeing himself surrounded by a small circle
of admirers to whom he was as a King or rather as a God. All these men
were far inferior to him in ability, and some of them had very serious
faults. Nor did those faults escape his observation; for, if ever there
was an eye which saw through and through men, it was the eve of
Addison. But with the keenest observation, and the finest sense of the
ridiculous, he had a large charity. The feeling with which he looked on
most of his humble companions was one of benevolence, slightly tinctured
with contempt. He was at perfect ease in their company; he was grateful
for their devoted attachment; and he loaded them with benefits. Their
veneration for him appears to have exceeded that with which Johnson was
regarded by Boswell, or Warburton by Hurd. It was not in the power of
adulation to turn such a head, or deprave such a heart, as Addison\x92s.
But it must in candour be admitted that he contracted some of the faults
which can scarcely be avoided by any person who is so unfortunate as to
be the oracle of a small literary coterie.

One member of this little society was Eustace Budgell, a young Templer
of some literature, and a distant relation of Addison. There was at this
time no stain on the character of Budgell, and it is not improbable that
his career would have been prosperous and honourable, if the life of his
cousin had been prolonged. But, when the master was laid in the grave,
the disciple broke loose from all restraint, descended rapidly from one
degree of vice and misery to another, ruined his fortune by follies,
attempted to repair it by crimes, and {369}at length closed a wicked and
unhappy life by selfmurder. Yet, to the last, the wretched man,
gambler, lampooner, cheat, forger, as he was, retained his affection and
veneration for Addison, and recorded those feelings in the last lines
which he traced before he hid himself from infamy under London Bridge.

Another of Addison\x92s favourite companions was Ambrose Phillipps, a good
Whig and a middling poet, who had the honour of bringing into fashion
a species of composition which has been called, after his name, Nam by
Pamby. But the most remarkable members of the little senate, as Pope
long afterwards called it, were Richard Steele and Thomas Tickell.

Steele had known Addison from childhood. They had been together at the
Charter House and at Oxford; but circumstances had then, for a time,
separated them widely. Steele had left college without taking a degree,
had been disinherited by a rich relation, had led a vagrant life, had
served in the army, had tried to find the philosopher\x92s stone, and had
written a religious treatise and several comedies. He was one of those
people whom it is impossible either to hate or to respect. His temper
was sweet, his affections warm, his spirits lively, his passions strong,
and his principles weak. His life was spent in sinning and repenting; in
inculcating what was right, and doing what was wrong. In speculation, he
was a man of piety and honour; in practice he was much of the rake and a
little of the swindler. He was, however, so goodnatured that it was not
easy to be seriously angry with him, and that even rigid moralists felt
more inclined to pity than to blame him, when he diced himself into a
sponging house or drank himself into a fever. Addison regarded Steele
with kindness {370}not unmingled with scorn, tried, with little success,
to keep him out of scrapes, introduced him to the great, procured a good
place for him, corrected his plays, and, though by no means rich, lent
him large sums of money. One of these loans appears, from a letter dated
in August 1708, to have amounted to a thousand pounds. These pecuniary
transactions probably led to frequent bickerings. It is said that, on
one occasion, Steele\x92s negligence, or dishonesty, provoked Addison to
repay himself by the help of a bailiff. We cannot join with Miss Aikin
in rejecting this story. Johnson heard it from Savage, who heard it from
Steele. Few private transactions which took place a hundred and twenty
years ago, are proved by stronger evidence than this. But we can by no
means agree with those who condemn Addison\x92s severity. The most amiable
of mankind may well be moved to indignation, when what he has earned
hardly, and lent with great inconvenience to himself, for the purpose of
relieving a friend in distress, is squandered with insane profusion. We
will illustrate our meaning by an example which is not the less striking
because it is taken from fiction. Dr. Harrison, in Fielding\x92s Amelia,
is represented as the most benevolent of human beings; yet he takes in
execution, not only the goods, but the person of his friend Booth. Dr.
Harrison resorts to this strong measure because he has been informed
that Booth, while pleading poverty as an excuse for not paying just
debts, has been buying fine jewellery, and setting up a coach. No person
who is well acquainted with Steele\x92s life and correspondence can doubt
that he behaved quite as ill to Addison as Booth was accused of behaving
to Dr. Harrison. The real history, we have little doubt, was something
like {371}this:--A letter comes to Achlison, imploring help
in pathetic terms, and promising reformation and speedy repayment. Poor
Dick declares that he has not an inch of candle, or a bushel of coals,
or credit with the butcher for a shoulder of mutton. Addison is moved.
He determines to deny himself some medals which are wanting to his
series of the Twelve C\xE6sars; to put off buying the new edition of
Boyle\x92s Dictionary; and to wear his old sword and buckles another year.
In this way he manages to send a hundred pounds to his friend. The
next day he calls on Steele, and finds scores of gentlemen and ladies
assembled. The fiddles are playing. The table is groaning under
Champagne, Burgundy, and pyramids of sweetmeats. Is it strange that a
man whose kindness is thus abused, should send sheriff\x92s officers to
reclaim what is due to him?

Tickell was a young man, fresh from Oxford, who had introduced himself
to public notice by writing a most ingenious and graceful little poem
in praise of the opera of Rosamond. He deserved, and at length attained,
the first place in Addison\x92s friendship. For a time Steele and Tickell
were on good terms. But they loved Addison too much to love each other,
and at length became as bitter enemies as the rival bulls in Virgil.

At the close of 1708 Wharton became Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, and
appointed Addison Chief Secretary. Addison was consequently under
the necessity of quitting London for Dublin. Besides the chief
secretaryship, which was then worth about two thousand pounds a year, he
obtained a patent appointing him keeper of the Irish Records for life,
with a salary of three or four hundred a year. Budgell accompanied his
cousin in the capacity of private Secretary.

Wharton and Addison had nothing in common but {372}Whiggism. The Lord
Lieutenant was not only licentious and corrupt, but was distinguished
from other libertines and jobbers by a callous impudence which presented
the strongest contrast to the Secretary\x92s gentleness and delicacy. Many
parts of the Irish administration at this time appear to have deserved
serious blame. But against Addison there was not a murmur. He long
afterwards asserted, what all the evidence which we have ever seen tends
to prove, that his diligence and integrity gained the friendship of all
the most considerable persons in Ireland.

The parliamentary career of Addison in Ireland has, we think, wholly
escaped the notice of all his biographers. He was elected member for
the borough of Cavan in the summer of 1709; and in the journals of
two sessions his name frequently occurs. Some of the entries appear to
indicate that he so far overcame his timidity as to make speeches. Nor
is this by any means improbable; for the Irish House of Commons was a
far less formidable audience than the English House; and many tongues
which were tied by fear in the greater assembly became fluent in the
smaller. Gerard Hamilton, for example, who, from fear of losing the fame
gained by his single speech, sat mute at Westminster during forty years,
spoke with great effect at Dublin when he was Secretary to Lord Halifax.

While Addison was in Ireland, an event occurred to which he owes his
high and permanent rank among British writers. As yet his fame rested
on performances which, though highly respectable, were not built for
duration, and which would, if he had produced nothing else, have now
been almost forgotten, on some excellent Latin verses, on some English
verses which occasionally rose above mediocrity, and on a book of
{373}travels, agreeably written, but not indicating any extraordinary
powers of mind. These works showed him to be a man of taste, sense,
and learning. The time had come when he was to prove himself a man of
genius, and to enrich our literature with compositions which will live
as long as the English language.

In the spring of 1709 Steele formed a literary project, of which he
was far indeed from foreseeing the consequences. Periodical papers
had during many years been published in London. Most of these were
political; but in some of them questions of morality, taste, and love
casuistry had been discussed. The literary merit of these works was
small indeed; and even their names are now known only to the curious.

Steele had been appointed Gazetteer by Sunderland, at the request, it
is said, of Addison, and thus had access to foreign intelligence earlier
and more authentic than was in those times within the reach of an
ordinary newswriter. This circumstance seems to have suggested to him
the scheme of publishing a periodical paper on a new plan. It was to
appear on the days on which the post left London for the country, which
were, in that generation, the Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. It was
to contain the foreign news, accounts of theatrical representations, and
the literary gossip of Will\x92s and of the Grecian. It was also to contain
remarks on the fashionable topics of the day, compliments to beauties,
pasquinades on noted sharpers, and criticisms on popular preachers. The
aim of Steele does not appear to have been at first higher than this.
He was not ill qualified to conduct the work which he had planned. His
public intelligence he drew from the best sources. He knew the town,
and had paid dear for his knowledge. He had read much more than the
{374}dissipated men of that time were in the habit of read-inf. He was
a rake among scholars, and a scholar among rakes. His style was easy and
not incorrect; and, though his wit and humour were of no high order, his
gay animal spirits imparted to his compositions an air of vivacity
which ordinary readers could hardly distinguish from comic genius. His
writings have been well compared to those light wines which, though
deficient in body and flavour, are yet a pleasant small drink, if not
kept too long, or carried too far.

Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire, Astrologer, was an imaginary person, almost
as well known in that age as Mr. Paul Pry or Mr. Samuel Pickwick in
ours. Swift had assumed the name of Bickerstaff\x92 in a satirical pamphlet
against Partridge, the maker of almanacks. Partridge had been fool
enough to publish a furious reply. Bickerstaff had rejoined in a second
pamphlet still more diverting than the first. All the wits had combined
to keep up the joke, and the town was long in convulsions of laughter.
Steele determined to employ the name which this controversy had made
popular; and, in 1709, it was announced that Isaac Bickerstaff, Esquire,
Astrologer, was about, to publish a paper called the Tatler.

Addison had not been consulted about this scheme: but as soon as he
heard of it he determined to give his assistance. The effect of that
assistance cannot be better described than in Steele\x92s own words. \x93I
fared,\x94 he said, \x93like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful
neighbour to his aid. I was undone by my auxiliary. When I had once
called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on him.\x94

\x93The paper,\x94 He says elsewhere, \x93was advanced indeed. It was raised to
a greater thing than I intended it.\x94 {375}It is probable that Addison,
when he sent across St. George\x92s Channel his first contributions to the
Tatler, had no notion of the extent and variety of his own powers. He
was the possessor of a vast mine, rich with a hundred ores. But he had
been acquainted only with the least precious part of his treasures,
and had hitherto contented himself with producing sometimes copper and
sometimes lead, intermingled with a little silver. All at once, and by
mere accident, He had lighted on an inexhaustible vein of the finest

The mere choice and arrangement of his words would have sufficed to make
his essays classical. For never, not even by Dryden, not even by Temple,
had the English language been written with such sweetness, grace, and
facility. But this was the smallest part of Addison\x92s praise. Had he
clothed his thoughts in the half French style of Horace Walpole, or in
the half Latin style of Dr. Johnson, or in the half German jargon of the
present day, his genius would have triumphed over all faults of manner.
As a moral satirist he stands unrivalled. If ever the best Tatlers and
Spectators were equalled in their own kind, we should be inclined to
guess that it must have been by the lost comedies of Menander.

In wit, properly so called, Addison was not inferior to Cowley or
Butler. No single ode of Cowley contains so many happy analogies as are
crowded into the lines to Sir Godfrey Kneller; and we would undertake to
collect from the Spectators as great a number of ingenious illustrations
as can be found in Hudibras. The still higher faculty of invention
Addison possessed in still larger measure. The numerous fictions,
generally original, often wild and grotesque, but always singularly
graceful and happy, which are {376}found in his essays, fully
entitle him to the rank of a great poet, a rank to which his metrical
compositions give him no claim. As an observer of life, of manner, of
all the shades of human character, he stands in the first class. And
what he observed he had the art of communicating in two widely different
ways. He could describe virtues, vices, habits, whims, as well as
Clarendon. But he could do something better. He could call human beings
into existence, and make them exhibit themselves. If we wish to find
any thing more vivid than Addison\x92s best portraits, we must go either to
Shakspeare or Cervantes.

But what shall we say of Addison\x92s humour, of his sense of the
ludicrous, of his power of awakening that sense in others, and of
drawing mirth from incidents which occur every day, and from little
peculiarities of temper and manner, such as may be found in every man?
We feel the charm: we give ourselves up to it: but we strive in vain to
analyse it.

Perhaps the best wav of describing Addison\x92s peculiar pleasantry is to
compare it with the pleasantry of some other great satirists. The
three most eminent masters of the art of ridicule during the eighteenth
century, were, we conceive, Addison, Swift, and Voltaire. Which of the
three had the greatest power of moving laughter may be questioned. But
each of them, within his own domain, was supreme.

Voltaire is the prince of buffoons. His merriment is without disguise
or restraint. He gambols; he grins; he shakes the sides; he points the
finger; he turns up the nose: he shoots out the tongue. The manner of
Swift is the very opposite to this. He moves laughter, but never joins
in it. He appears in his works such as he appeared in society. All the
company are convulsed {377}with merriment, while the Dean, the author
of all the mirth, preserves an invincible gravity, and even sourness of
aspect, and gives utterance to the most eccentric and ludicrous fancies,
with the air of a man reading the commination service.

The manner of Addison is as remote from that of Swift as from that of
Voltaire. He neither laughs out like the French wit, nor, like the Irish
wit, throws a double portion of severity into his countenance while
laughing inwardly; but preserves a look peculiarly his own, a look of
demure serenity, disturbed only by an arch sparkle of the eye, an almost
imperceptible elevation of the brow, an almost imperceptible curl of the
lip. His tone is never that either of a Jack Pudding or of a Cynic. It
is that of a gentleman, in whom the quickest sense of the ridiculous is
constantly tempered by good nature and good breeding.

We own that the humour of Addison is, in our opinion, of a more
delicious flavour than the humour of either Swift or Voltaire. Thus
much, at least, is certain, that both Swift and Voltaire have been
successfully mimicked, and that no man has yet been able to mimic
Addison. The letter of the Abb\xE9 Coyer to Pansophe is Voltaire all over,
and imposed, during a long time, on the Academicians of Paris. There
are passages in Arbuthnot\x92s satirical works which we, at least, cannot
distinguish from Swift\x92s best writing. But of the many eminent men
who have made Addison their model, though several have copied his mere
diction with happy effect, none have been able to catch the tone of
his pleasantry. In the World, in the Connoisseur, in the Mirror, in the
Lounger, there are numerous papers written in obvious imitation of his
Tatlers and Spectators. Most of these papers have some merit; {378}many
are very lively and amusing; but there is not a single one which could
be passed oft as Addison\x92s on a critic of the smallest perspicacity.

But that which chiefly distinguishes Addison from Swift, from Voltaire,
from almost all the other great masters of ridicule, is the grace,
the nobleness, the moral purity, which we find even in his merriment.
Severity, gradually hardening and darkening into misanthropy,
characterizes the works of Swift. The nature of Voltaire was, indeed,
not inhuman; but he venerated nothing. Neither in the masterpieces of
art nor in the purest examples of virtue, neither in the Great First
Cause nor in the awful enigma of the grave, could he see any thing but
subjects for drollery. The more solemn and august the theme, the more
monkeylike was his grimacing and chattering. The mirth of Swift is the
mirth of Mephistophiles; the mirth of Voltaire is the mirth of Puck. If,
as Soame Jenyns oddly imagined, a portion of the happiness of Seraphim
and just men made perfect he derived from an exquisite perception of
the ludicrous, their mirth must surely he none other than the mirth
of Addison; a mirth consistent with tender compassion for all that is
frail, and with profound reverence for all that is sublime. Nothing
great, nothing amiable, no moral duty, no doctrine of natural or
revealed religion, has ever been associated by Addison with any
degrading idea. His humanity is without a parallel in literary history.
The highest proof of virtue is to possess boundless power without
abusing it. No kind of power is more formidable than the power of making
men ridiculous; and that power Addison possessed in boundless measure.
How grossly that power was abused by Swift and by Voltaire is well
known. But of Addison it may be confidently affirmed {379}that he has
blackened no man\x92s character, nay, that it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to find in all the volumes which he has left us a single
taunt which can be called ungenerous or unkind. Yet he had detractors,
whose malignity might have seemed to justify as terrible a revenge as
that which men, not superior to him in senilis, wreaked on Bettesworth
and on Franc de Poinpignan. He was a politician; he was the best writer
of his party; he lived in times of fierce excitement, in times when
persons of high character and station stooped to scurrility such as is
now practised only by the basest of mankind. Yet no provocation and no
example could induce him to return railing for railing.

Of the service which his Essays rendered to morality it is difficult to
speak too highly. It is true, that, when the Tatler appeared, that
age of outrageous profaneness and licentiousness which followed the
Restoration had passed away. Jeremy Collier had shamed the theatres into
something which, compared with the excesses of Etherege and Wycherley,
might be called decency. Yet there still lingered in the public mind
a pernicious notion that there was some connection between genius and
profligacy, between the domestic virtues and the sullen formality of the
Puritans. That error it is the glory of Addison to have dispelled. He
taught the nation that the faith and the morality of Hale and Tillot-son
might be found in company with wit more sparkling than the wit of
Congreve, and with humour richer than the humour of Vanbrugh. So
effectually, indeed, did he retort on vice the mockery which had
recently been directed against virtue, that, since his time, the open
violation of decency has always been considered among us as the mark of
a fool. And this revolution, the {380}greatest and most salutary ever
effected by any satirist, be accomplished, be it remembered, without
writing one personal lampoon.

In the early contributions of Addison to the Tatler his peculiar powers
were not fully exhibited. Yet from the first, his superiority to all his
coadjutors was evident. Some of his later Tatlers are fully equal to
any thing that he ever wrote. Among the portraits, we most admire join
Folio, Ned Softly, and the Political Upholsterer. The proceedings of the
Court of Honour, the Thermometer of Zeal, the story of the Frozen Words,
the Memoirs of the Shilling, are excellent specimens of that ingenious
and lively species of fiction in which Addison excelled all men. There
is one still better paper of the same class. But though that paper, a
hundred and thirty-three years ago, was probably thought as edifying
as one of Smalridge\x92s sermons, we dare not indicate it to the squeamish
readers of the nineteenth century.

During the session of Parliament which commenced in November 1709, and
which the impeachment of Sacheverell has made memorable, Addison appears
to have resided in London. The Tatler was now more popular than any
periodical paper had ever been; and his connection with it was generally
known. It was not known, however, that almost every thing good in the
Tatler was his. The truth is, that the fifty or sixty numbers which we
owe to him were not merely the best, but so decidedly the best that any
five of them are more valuable than all the two hundred numbers in which
he had no share.

He required, at this time, all the solace which he could derive from
literary success. The Queen had always disliked the Whigs. She had
during some {381}years disliked the Marlborough family. But, reigning by
a disputed title, she could not venture directly to oppose herself to a
majority of both Houses of Parliament; and, engaged as she was in a war
on the event of which her own Crown was staked, she could not venture
to disgrace a great and successful general. But at length, in the year
1710, the causes which had restrained her from showing her aversion
to the Low Church party ceased to operate. The trial of Sacheverell
produced an outbreak of public feeling scarcely less violent than the
outbreaks which we can ourselves remember in 1820, and in 1831. The
country gentlemen, the country clergymen, the rabble of the towns, were
all for once, on the same side. It was clear that, if a general election
took place before the excitement abated, the Tories would have a
majority. The services of Marlborough had been so splendid that they
were no longer necessary. The Queen\x92s throne was secure from all attack
on the part of Lewis. Indeed, it seemed much more likely that the
English and German armies would divide the spoils of Versailles and
Marli than that a Marshal of France would bring back the Pretender to
St. James\x92s. The Queen, acting by the advice of Harley, determined to
dismiss her servants. In June the change commenced. Sunderland was
the first who fell. The Tories exulted over his fall. The Whigs tried,
during a few weeks, to persuade themselves that her Majesty had acted
only from personal dislike to the Secretary, and that she meditated no
further alteration. But, early in August, Godolphin was surprised by
a letter from Anne, which directed him to break his white staff. Even
after this event, the irresolution or dissimulation of Harley kept up
the hopes of the Whigs during another month; {382}and then the ruin
became rapid and violent. The Parliament was dissolved. The Ministers
were turned out. The Tories were called to office. The tide of
popularity ran violently in favour of the High Church party. That party,
feeble in the late House of Commons, was now irresistible. The power
which the Tories had thus suddenly acquired, they used with blind and
stupid ferocity. The howl which the whole pack set up for prey and for
blood appalled even him who had roused and unchained them. When, at
this distance of time, we calmly review the conduct of the discarded
ministers, we cannot but feel a movement of indignation at the injustice
with which they were treated. No body of men had ever administered the
government with more energy, ability, and moderation; and their success
had been proportioned to their wisdom. They had saved Holland and
Germany. They had humbled France. They had, as it seemed, all but torn
Spain from the House of Bourbon. They had made England the first power
in Europe. At home they had united England and Scotland. They had
respected the rights of conscience and the liberty of the subject. They
retired, leaving their country at the height of prosperity and glory.
And yet they were pursued to their retreat by such a roar of obloquy
as was never raised against the government which threw away thirteen
colonies, or against the government which sent a gallant army to perish
in the ditches of Walcheren.

None of the Whigs suffered more in the general wreck than Addison. He
had just sustained some heavy pecuniary losses, of the nature of which
we are imperfectly informed, when his Secretaryship was taken from him.
He had reason to believe that he {383}should also be deprived of the
small Irish office which he held by patent. He had just resigned his
Fellowship. It seems probable that he had already ventured to raise
his eyes to a great lady, and that, while his political friends were
in power, and while his own fortunes were rising, he had been, in the
phrase of the romances which were then fashionable, permitted to
hope. But Mr. Addison the ingenious writer, and Mr. Addison the chief
Secretary, were, in her ladyship\x92s opinion, two very different persons.
All these calamities united, however, could not disturb the serene
cheerfulness of a mind conscious of innocence, and rich in its own
wealth. He told his friends, with smiling resignation, that they ought
to admire his philosophy, that he had lost at once his fortune, his
place, his fellowship, and his mistress, that he must think of turning
tutor again, and yet that his spirits were as good as ever.

He had one consolation. Of the unpopularity which his friends had
incurred, he had no share. Such was the esteem with which he was
regarded that, while the most violent measures were taken for the
purpose of forcing Tory members on Whig corporations, he was returned to
Parliament without even a contest. Swift, who was now in London, and who
had already determined on quitting the Whigs, wrote to Stella in these
remarkable words: \x93The Tories carry it among the new members six to one.
Mr. Addison\x92s election has passed easy and undisputed; and I believe if
he had a mind to be king he would hardly be refused.\x94

The good will with which the Tories regarded Addison is the more
honourable to him, because it had not been purchased by any concession
his part. During the general election he published a political
{384}Journal, entitled the Whig Examiner. Of that Journal it may
be sufficient to say that Johnson, in spite of his strong political
prejudices, pronounced it to be superior in wit to any of Swift\x92s
writings on the other side. When it ceased to appear, Swift, in a letter
to Stella, expressed his exultation at the death of so formidable an
antagonist. \x93He might well rejoice,\x94 says Johnson, \x93at the death of that
which he could not have killed.\x94

\x93On no occasion,\x94 he adds, \x93was the genius of Addison more vigorously
exerted, and on none did the superiority of his powers more evidently

The only use which Addison appears to have made of the favour with which
he was regarded by the Tories was to save some of his friends from the
general ruin of the Whig party. He felt himself to be in a situation
which made it his duty to take a decided part in polities. But the case
of Steele and of Ambrose Phillipps was different. For Phillipps, Addison
even condescended to solicit, with what success we have not ascertained.
Steele held two places. He was Gazetteer, and he was also a Commissioner
of Stamps. The Gazette was taken from him. But he was suffered to retain
his place in the Stamp Office, on an implied understanding that he
should not be active against the new government; and he was, during
more than two years, induced by Addison to observe this armistice with
tolerable fidelity.

Isaac Bickerstaff accordingly became silent upon politics, and the
article of news which had once formed about one third of his paper,
altogether disappeared. The Tatler had completely changed its character.
It was now nothing but a series of essays on books, morals, and manners.
Steele therefore resolved to {385}bring it to a close, and to commence a
new work on an improved plan. It was announced that this new work would
be published daily. The undertaking was generally regarded as bold, or
rather rash; but the event amply justified the confidence with which
Steele relied on the fertility of Addison\x92s genius. On the second
of January 1711, appeared the last Tatler. At the beginning of March
following appeared the first of an incomparable series of papers,
containing observations on life and literature by an imaginary

The Spectator himself was conceived and drawn by Addison; and it is
not easy to doubt that the portrait was meant to be in some features a
likeness of the painter. The Spectator is a gentleman who, after passing
a studious youth at the university, has travelled on classic ground, and
has bestowed much attention on curious points of antiquity. He has,
on his return, fixed his residence in London, and has observed all
the forms of life which are to be found in that great city, has daily
listened to the wits of Will\x92s, has smoked with the philosophers of
the Grecian, and has mingled with the parsons at Child\x92s, and with the
politicians at the St. James\x92s. In the morning, he often listens to the
hum of the Exchange; in the evening, his face is constantly to be seen
in the pit of Drury Lane theatre. But an insurmountable bashfulness
prevents him from opening his mouth, except in a small circle of
intimate friends.

These friends were first sketched by Steele. Four of the club,
the templar, the clergyman, the soldier, and the merchant, were
uninteresting figures, fit only for a back ground. But the other two, an
old country baronet and an old town rake, though not delineated with a
very delicate pencil, had some good strokes. Addison {386}took the rude
outlines into his own hands, retouched them, coloured them, and is in
truth the creator of the Sir Roger de Coverley and the Will Honeycomb
with whom we are all familiar.

The plan of the Spectator must be allowed to be both original and
eminently happy. Every valuable essay in the series may be read with
pleasure separately; yet the five or six hundred essays form a whole,
and a whole which has the interest of a novel. It must be remembered,
too, that at that time no novel, giving a lively and powerful picture
of the common life and manners of England, had appeared. Richardson was
working as a compositor. Fielding was robbing birds\x92 nests. Smollett
was not yet born. The narrative, therefore, which connects together
the Spectator\x92s Essays, gave to our ancestors their first taste of an
exquisite and untried pleasure. That narrative was indeed constructed
with no art or labour. The events were such events as occur every day.
Sir Roger comes up to town to see Eugenio, as the worthy baronet always
calls Prince Eugene, goes with the Spectator on the water to Spring
Gardens, walks among the tombs in the Abbey, and is frightened by the
Mohawks, but conquers his apprehension so far as to go to the theatre
when the Distressed Mother is acted. The Spectator pays a visit in the
summer to Coverley Hall, is charmed with the old house, the old butler,
and the old chaplain, eats a jack caught by Will Wimble, rides to the
assizes, and hears a point of law discussed by Tom Touchy, At last a
letter from the honest butler brings to the club the news that Sir Roger
is dead. Will Honeycomb marries and reforms at sixty. The club breaks
up; and the Spectator resigns his functions. Such events can hardly be
said to form a plot; yet they are {387}related with such truth, such
grace, such wit, such humour, such pathos, such knowledge of the human
heart, such knowledge of the ways of the world, that they charm us on
the hundredth perusal. We have not the least doubt that if Addison had
written a novel, on an extensive plan, it would have been superior to
any that we possess. As it is, he is entitled to be considered not only
as the greatest of the English essayists, but as the forerunner of the
great English novelists.

We say this of Addison alone; for Addison is the Spectator. About three
sevenths of the work are his; and it is no exaggeration to say, that his
worst essay is as good as the best essay of any of his coadjutors.
His best essays approach near to absolute perfection; nor is their
excellence more wonderful than their variety. His invention never seems
to flag; nor is he ever under the necessity of repeating himself, or
of wearing out a subject. There are no dregs in his wine. He regales us
after the fashion of that prodigal nabob who held that there was
only one good glass in a bottle. As soon as we have tasted the first
sparkling foam of a jest, it is withdrawn, and a fresh draught of
nectar is at our lips. On the Monday we have an allegory as lively
and ingenious as Lucian\x92s Auction of Lives; on the Tuesday an Eastern
apologue, as richly coloured as the Tales of Scherezade; on the
Wednesday, a character described with the skill of La Bruyere; on the
Thursday, a scene from common life, equal to the best chapters in the
Vicar of Wakefield; on the Friday, some sly Horatian pleasantry on
fashionable follies, on hoops, patches, or puppet shows; and on the
Saturday a religious meditation, which will bear a comparison with the
finest passages in Massillon.

It is dangerous to select where there is so much that {388}deserves the
highest praise. We will venture, however, to say, that any person who
wishes to form a notion of the extent and variety of Addison\x92s powers,
will do well to read at one sitting the following papers, the two Visits
to the Abbey, the Visit to the Exchange, the Journal of the Retired
Citizen, the Vision of Mirza, the Transmigrations of Pug the Monkey, and
the Death of Sir Roger de Coverley. (1)

The least valuable of Addison\x92s contributions to the Spectator are, in
the judgment of our age, his critical papers. Yet his critical papers
are always luminous, and often ingenious. The very worst of them must be
regarded as creditable to him, when the character of the school in which
he had been trained is fairly considered. The best of them were much too
good for his readers. In truth, he was not so far behind our generation
as he was before his own. No essays in the Spectator were more censured
and derided than those in which he raised his voice against the contempt
with which our fine old ballads were regarded, and showed the scoffers
that the same gold which, burnished and polished, gives lustre to the
\xC6neid and the Odes of Horace, is mingled with the rude dross of Chevy

It is not strange that the success of the Spectator should have been
such as no similar work has ever obtained. The number of copies daily
distributed was at first three thousand. It subsequently increased, and
bad risen to near four thousand when the stamp tax was imposed. That
tax was fatal to a crowd of journals. The Spectator, however, stood its
ground, doubled its price, and, though its circulation fell off,

     (1) Nos. 26, 329, 69, 317, 159, 343, 517. These papers are
     all in the first seven volumes. The eighth must be
     considered as a separate work.

{389}still yielded a large revenue both to the state and to the authors.
For particular papers, the demand was immense; of some, it is said,
twenty thousand copies were required. But this was not all. To have the
Spectator served up every morning with the butter and rolls was a luxury
for the few. The majority were content to wait till essays enough had
appeared to form a volume. Ten thousand copies of each volume were
immediately taken off, and new editions were called for It must be
remembered, that the population of England was then hardly a third
of what it now is. The number of Englishmen who were in the habit of
reading, was probably not a sixth of what it now is. A shopkeeper or a
farmer who found any pleasure in literature, was a rarity. Nay, there
was doubtless more than one knight of the shire whose country seat did
not contain ten books, receipt books and books on farriery included.
In these circumstances, the sale of the Spectator must be considered as
indicating a popularity quite as great as that of the most successful
works of Sir Walter Scott and Mr. Dickens in our own time.

At the close of 1712 the Spectator ceased to appear. It was probably
felt that the shortfaced gentleman and his club had been long enough
before the town: and that it was time to withdraw them, and to replace
them by a new set of characters. In a few weeks the first number of the
Guardian was published. But the Guardian was unfortunate both in its
birth and in its death. It began in dulness and disappeared in a tempest
of faction. The original plan was bad. Addison contributed nothing till
sixty-six numbers had appeared; and it was then impossible to make
the Guardian what the Spectator had been. Nestor Ironside and the Miss
Lizards were people to whom even he could impart no {390}interest. He
could only furnish some excellent little essays, both serious and comic;
and this he did.

Why Addison gave no assistance to the Guardian, during the first two
months of its existence, is a question which has puzzled the editors and
biographers, but which seems to us to admit of a very easy solution. He
was then engaged in bringing his Cato on the stage.

The first four acts of this drama had been lying in his desk since his
return from Italy. His modest and sensitive nature shrank from the risk
of a public and shameful failure; and, though all who saw the manuscript
were loud in praise, some thought it possible that an audience might
become impatient even of very good rhetoric, and advised Addison to
print the play without hazarding a representation. At length, after many
fits of apprehension, the poet yielded to the urgency of his political
friends, who hoped that the public would discover some analogy between
the followers of C\xE6sar and the Tories, between Sempronius and the
apostate Whigs, between Cato, struggling to the last for the liberties
of Rome, and the band of patriots who still stood firm round Halifax and

Addison gave the play to the managers of Drury Lane theatre, without
stipulating for any advantage to himself. They, therefore, thought
themselves bound to spare no cost in scenery and dresses. The
decorations, it is true, would not have pleased the skilful eye of Mr.
Macready. Juba\x92s waistcoat blazed with gold lace: Marcia\x92s hoop was
worthy of a Duchess on the birthday; and Cato wore a wig worth fifty
guineas. The prologue was written by Pope, and is undoubtedly a
dignified and spirited composition. The part of the hero was excellently
played by Booth. Steele undertook {391}to pack a house. The boxes
were in a blaze with the stars of the Peers in Opposition. The pit was
crowded with attentive and friendly listeners from the Inns of Court and
the literary coffee-houses. Sir Gilbert Heathcote, Governor of the Bank
of England, was at the head of a powerful body of auxiliaries from
the city, warm men and true Whigs, but better known at Jonathan\x92s and
Garraway\x92s than in the haunts of wits and critics.

These precautions were quite superfluous. The Tories, as a body,
regarded Addison with no unkind feelings. Nor was it for their interest,
professing, as they did, profound reverence for law and prescription,
and abhorrence both of popular insurrections and of standing armies, to
appropriate to themselves reflections thrown on the great military chief
and demagogue, who, with the support of the legions and of the
common people, subverted all the ancient institutions of his country.
Accordingly, every shout that was raised by the members of the Kit Cat
was echoed by the High Churchmen of the October; and the curtain at
length fell amidst thunders of unanimous applause.

The delight and admiration of the town were de scribed by the Guardian
in terms which we might attribute to partiality, were it not that the
Examiner, the organ of the Ministry, held similar language. The Tories,
indeed, found much to sneer at in the conduct of their opponents.
Steele had on this, as on other occasions, shown more zeal than taste or
judgment. The honest citizens who marched under the orders of Sir Gibby,
as he was facetiously called, probably knew better when to buy and when
to sell stock than when to clap and when to hiss at a play, and
incurred some ridicule by making the hypocritical Sempronius their
{392}favourite, and by giving to his insincere rants louder plaudits
than they bestowed on the temperate eloquence of Cato. Wharton, too,
who had the incredible effrontery to applaud the lines about flying from
prosperous vice and from the power of impious men to a private station,
did not escape the sarcasms of those who justly thought that he could
fly from nothing more vicious or impious than himself. The epilogue,
which was written by Garth, a zealous Whig, was severely and not
unreasonably censured as ignoble and out of place. But Addison was
described, even by the bitterest Tory writers, as a gentleman of wit and
virtue, in whose friendship many persons of both parties were happy, and
whose name ought not to be mixed up with factious squabbles.

Of the jests by which the triumph of the Whig party was disturbed, the
most severe and happy was Boling-broke\x92s. Between two acts, he sent for
Booth to his box, and presented him, before the whole theatre, with
a purse of fifty guineas for defending the cause of liberty so well
against a perpetual Dictator. This was a pungent allusion to the attempt
which Marlborough had made, not long before his fall, to obtain a patent
creating him Captain General for life.

It was April; and in April, a hundred and thirty years ago, the London
season was thought to be far advanced. During a whole month, however,
Cato was performed to overflowing houses, and brought into the treasury
of the theatre twice the gains of an ordinary spring. In the summer the
Drury Lane company went down to the Act at Oxford, and there, before
an audience which retained an affectionate remembrance of Addison\x92s
accomplishments and virtues, his tragedy was enacted during several
days. The gownsmen began {393}to besiege the theatre in the forenoon,
and by one in the afternoon all the seats were filled.

About the merits of the piece which had so extraordinary an effect,
the public, we suppose, has made up its mind. To compare it with the
masterpieces of the Attic state, with the great English dramas of the
time of Elizabeth, or even with the productions of Schiller\x92s manhood,
would be absurd indeed. Yet it contains excellent dialogue and
declamation, and, among plays fashioned on the French model, must be
allowed to rank high; not indeed with Athalie or Saul; but, we think,
not below China, and certainly above any other English tragedy of the
same school, above many of the plays of Corneille, above many of the
plays of Voltaire and Alfieri, and above some plays of Racine. Be this
as it may, we have little doubt that Cato did as much as the Tatlers,
Spectators, and Freeholders united, to raise Addison\x92s fame among his

The modesty and good nature of the successful dramatist had tamed
even the malignity of faction. But literary envy, it should seem, is
a fiercer passion than party spirit. It was by a zealous Whig that the
fiercest attack on the Whig tragedy was made. John Dennis published
Remarks on Cato, which were written with some acuteness and with
much coarseness and asperity. Addison neither defended himself nor
retaliated. On many points he had an excellent defence; and nothing
would have been easier than to retaliate; for Dennis had written bad
odes, bad tragedies, bad comedies: he had, moreover, a larger share than
most men of those infirmities and eccentricities which excite laughter;
and Addison\x92s power of turning either an absurd book or an absurd man
into ridicule was unrivalled. Addison, however, serenely conscious of
his superiority, looked {394}with pity on his assailant, whose temper,
naturally irritable and gloomy, had been soured by want, by controversy,
and by literary failures.

But among the young candidates for Addison\x92s favour there was one
distinguished by talents from the rest, and distinguished, we fear, not
less by malignity and insincerity. Pope was only twenty-five. But his
powers had expanded to their full maturity; and his best poem, the Rape
of the Lock, had recently been published. Of his genius, Addison had
always expressed high admiration. But Addison had early discerned, what
might indeed have been discerned by an eye less penetrating than his,
that the diminutive, crooked, sickly boy was eager to revenge himself
on society for the unkindness of nature. In the Spectator, the Essay on
Criticism had been praised with cordial warmth; but a gentle hint had
been added, that the writer of so excellent a poem would have done well
to avoid illnatured personalities. Pope, though evidently more galled
by the censure than gratified by the praise, returned thanks for the
admonition, and promised to profit by it. The two writers continued to
exchange civilities, counsel, and small good offices. Addison publicly
extolled Pope\x92s miscellaneous pieces; and Pope furnished Addison with a
prologue. This did not last long. Pope hated Dennis, whom he had injured
without provocation. The appearance of the Remarks on Cato gave the
irritable poet an opportunity of venting his malice under the show
of friendship; and such an opportunity could not but be welcomed to a
nature which was implacable in enmity, and which always preferred the
tortuous to the straight path. He published, accordingly, the Narrative
of the Frenzy of John Dennis. But Pope had mistaken his powers. He was a
great master of invective and {395}sarcasm: he could dissect a character
in terse and sonorous couplets, brilliant with antithesis: but of
dramatic talent he was altogether destitute. If he had written a lampoon
on Dennis, such as that on Atticus, or that on Sporus, the old grumbler
would have been crushed. But Pope writing Dialogue resembled--to borrow
Horace\x92s imagery and his own--a wolf, which, instead of biting, should
take to kicking, or a monkey which should try to sting. The Narrative
is utterly contemptible. Of argument there is not even the show; and
the jests are such as, if they were introduced into a farce, would call
forth the hisses of the shilling gallery. Dennis raves about the drama;
and the nurse thinks that he is calling for a dram. \x93There is,\x94 he
cries, \x93no peripetia in the tragedy, no change of fortune, no change at

\x93Pray, good Sir, be not angry,\x94 says the old woman; \x93I\x92ll fetch change.\x94
 This is not exactly the pleasantry of Addison.

There can be no doubt that Addison saw through this officious zeal, and
felt himself deeply aggrieved by it. So foolish and spiteful a pamphlet
could do him no good, and, if he were thought to have any hand in it,
must do him harm. Gifted with incomparable powers of ridicule, he
had never, even in self defence, used those powers inhumanly or
uncourteously; and he was not disposed to let others make his fame and
his interests a pretext under which they might commit outrages from
which he had himself constantly abstained. He accordingly declared that
he had no concern in the Narrative, that he disapproved of it, and that
if he answered the Remarks, he would answer them like a gentleman; and
he took care to communicate this to Dennis. Pope was bitterly mortified;
and to this transaction we are inclined to ascribe the hatred with which
he ever after regarded Addison. {396}In September 1713 the Guardian
ceased to appear. Steele had gone mad about polities. A general election
had just taken place: he had been chosen member for Stockbridge; and he
fully expected to play a first part in Parliament. The immense success
of the Tatler and Spectator had turned his head. He had been the editor
of both those papers, and was not aware how entirely they owed their
influence and popularity to the genius of his friend. His spirits,
always violent, were now excited by vanity, ambition, and faction, to
such a pitch that he every day committed some offence against good sense
and good taste. All the discreet and moderate members of his own party
regretted and condemned his folly. \x93I am in a thousand troubles,\x94
 Addison wrote, \x93about poor Dick, and wish that his zeal for the public
may not be ruinous to himself. But he has sent me word that he is
determined to go on, and that any advice I may give him in this
particular will have no weight with him.\x94

Steele set up a political paper called the Englishman, which, as it was
not supported by contributions from Addison, completely failed. By this
work, by some other writings of the same kind, and by the airs which
he gave himself at the first meeting of the new Parliament, he made the
Tories so angry that they determined to expel him. The Whigs stood by
him gallantly, but were unable to save him. The vote of expulsion was
regarded by all dispassionate men as a tyrannical exercise of the power
of the majority. But Steele\x92s violence and folly, though they by
no means justified the steps which his enemies took, had completely
disgusted his friends; nor did he ever regain the place which he had
held in the public estimation.

Addison about this time conceived the design of {397}adding an eighth
volume to the Spectator. In June 1711, the first number of the new
series appeared, and during about six months three papers were published
weekly. Nothing can be more striking than the contrast between the
Englishman and the eighth volume of the Spectator, between Steele
without Addison and Addison without Steele. The Englishman is forgotten;
the eighth volume of the Spectator contains, perhaps, the finest essays,
both serious and playful, in the English language.

Before this volume was completed, the death of Anne produced an entire
change in the administration of public affairs. The blow fell suddenly.
It found the Tory party distracted by internal feuds, and unprepared for
any great effort. Harley had just been disgraced. Bolingbroke, it
was supposed, would be the chief minister. But the Queen was on her
death-bed before the white staff had been given, and her last public
act was to deliver it with a feeble hand to the Duke of Shrewsbury. The
emergency produced a coalition between all sections of public men
who were attached to the Protestant succession. George the First was
proclaimed without opposition. A Council, in which the leading Whigs had
seats, took the direction of affairs till the new King should arrive.
The first act of the Lords Justices was to appoint Addison their

There is an idle tradition that he was directed to prepare a letter
to the King, that he could not satisfy himself as to the style of this
composition, and that the Lords Justices called in a clerk who at once
did what was wanted. It is not strange that a story so flattering to
mediocrity should be popular; and we are sorry to deprive dunces of
their consolation. But the truth must be told. It was well observed
by Sir {398}James Mackintosh, whose knowledge of these times was
unequalled, that Addison never, in any official document, affected wit
or eloquence, and that his despatches are, without exception, remarkable
for unpretending simplicity. Everybody who knows with what ease
Addison\x92s finest essays were produced must be convinced that, if well
turned phrases had been wanted, he would have had no difficulty in
finding them.. We are, however, inclined to believe, that the story is
not absolutely without a foundation. It may well be that Addison did not
know, till he had consulted experienced clerks who remembered the times
when William the Third was absent on the continent, in what form a
letter from the Council of Regency to the King ought to be drawn. We
think it very likely that the ablest statesmen of our time, Lord John
Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Lord Palmerston, for example, would, in
similar circumstances, be found quite as ignorant. Every office has
some little mysteries which the dullest man may learn with a little
attention, and which the greatest man cannot possibly know by intuition.
One paper must be signed by the chief of the department; another by his
deputy: to a third the royal sign manual is necessary. One communication
is to be registered, and another is not. One sentence must be in black
ink, and another in red ink. If the ablest Secretary for Ireland were
moved to the India Board, if the ablest President of the India Board
were moved to the War Office, he would require instruction on points
like these; and we do not doubt that Addison required such instruction
when he became, for the first time, Secretary to the Lords Justices.

George the First took possession of his kingdom without opposition. A
new ministry was formed, and {399}a new Parliament favourable to the
Whigs chosen. Sunderland was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland; and
Addison again went to Dublin as Chief Secretary.

At Dublin Swift resided; and there was much speculation about the way
in which the Dean and the Secretary would behave towards each other. The
relations which existed between these remarkable men form an interesting
and pleasing portion of literary history. They had early attached
themselves to the same political party and to the same patrons. While
Anne\x92s Whig ministry was in power, the visits of Swift to London and the
official residence of Addison in Ireland had given them opportunities of
knowing each other. They were the two shrewdest observers of their
age. But their observations on each other had led them to favourable
conclusions. Swift did full justice to the rare powers of conversation
which were latent under the bashful deportment of Addison. Addison, on
the other hand, discerned much good nature under the severe look and
manner of Swift; and, indeed, the Swift of 1708 and the Swift of 1738
were two very different men.

But the paths of the two friends diverged widely. The Whig statesmen
loaded Addison with solid benefits. They praised Swift, asked him to
dinner, and did nothing more for him. His profession laid them under a
difficulty. In the state they could not promote him; and they had reason
to fear that, by bestowing preferment in the church on the author of the
Tale of a Tub, they might give scandal to the public, which had no
high opinion of their orthodoxy. He did not make fair allowance for
the difficulties which prevented Halifax and Somers from serving him,
thought himself an {400}ill used man, sacrificed honour and consistency
to revenge, joined the Tories, and became their most formidable
champion. He soon found, however, that his old friends were less to
blame than he had supposed. The dislike with which the Queen and the
heads of the Church regarded him was insurmountable; and it was with
the greatest difficulty that he obtained an ecclesiastical dignity of no
great value, on condition of fixing his residence in a country which he

Difference of political opinion had produced, not indeed a quarrel, but
a coolness between Swift and Addison. They at length ceased altogether
to see each other. Yet there was between them a tacit compact like that
between the hereditary guests in the Iliad.

[Illustration: 0414]

It is not strange that Addison, who calumniated and insulted nobody,
should not have calumniated or insulted Swift. But it is remarkable that
Swift, to whom neither genius nor virtue was sacred, and who generally
seemed to find, like most other renegades, a peculiar pleasure in
attacking old friends, should have shown so much respect and tenderness
to Addison.

Fortune had now changed. The accession of the House of Hanover had
secured in England the liberties of the people, and in Ireland the
dominion of the Protestant caste. To that caste Swift was more odious
than any other man. He was hooted and even pelted in the streets of
Dublin; and could not venture to ride along the strand for his health
without the attendance of armed servants. Many whom he had formerly
{401}served now libelled and insulted him. At this time Addison arrived.
He had been advised not to show the smallest civility to the Dean of
St. Patrick\x92s. He had answered, with admirable spirit, that it might be
necessary for men whose fidelity to their party was suspected, to hold
no intercourse with political opponents; but that one who had been a
steady Whig in the worst times might venture, when the good cause
was triumphant, to shake hands with an old friend who was one of the
vanquished Tories. His kindness was soothing to the proud and cruelly
wounded spirit of Swift; and the two great satirists resumed their
habits of friendly intercourse.

Those associates of Addison whose political opinions agreed with
his shared his good fortune. He took Tickell with him to Ireland. He
procured for Budgell a lucrative place in the same kingdom. Ambrose
Phillipps was provided for in England. Steele had injured himself so
much by his eccentricity and perverseness, that he obtained but a very
small part of what he thought his due. He was, however, knighted; he had
a place in the household; and he subsequently received other marks of
favour from the court.

Addison did not remain long in Ireland. In 1715 he quitted his
secretaryship for a seat at the Board of Trade. In the same year his
comedy of the Drummer was brought on the stage. The name of the author
was not announced; the piece was coldly received; and some critics have
expressed a doubt whether it were really Addison\x92s. To us the evidence,
both external and internal, seems decisive. It is not in Addison\x92s best
manner; but it contains numerous pas-rages which no other writer known
to us could have {402}produced. It was again performed after Addison\x92s
death, and, being known to be his, was loudly applauded.

Towards the close of the year 1715, while the Rebellion was still
raging in Scotland, Addison published the first number of a paper called
the Freeholder. Among his political works the Freeholder is entitled
to the first place. Even in the Spectator there are few serious papers
nobler than the character of his friend Lord Somers, and certainly
no satirical papers superior to those in whieh the Tory fox-hunter is
introduced. This character is the original of Squire Western, and is
drawn with all Fielding\x92s force, and with a delicacy of whieh Fielding
was altogether destitute. As none of Addison\x92s works exhibit stronger
marks of his genius than the Freeholder, so none does more honour to
his moral character. It is difficult to extol too highly the candour
and humanity of a political writer whom even the excitement of civil war
cannot give into unseemly violence. Oxford, it is well known, was then
the stronghold of Toryism. The High Street had been repeatedly lined
with bayonets in order to keep down the disaffected gownsmen; and
traitors pursued hy the messengers of the Government had been concealed
in the garrets of several colleges. Yet the admonition which, even under
such circumstances, Addison addressed to the University, is singularly
gentle, respectful, and even affectionate. Indeed, he could not find
it in his heart to deal harshly even with imaginary persons. His
foxhunter, though ignorant, stupid, and violent, is at heart a good
fellow, and is at last reclaimed by the clemency of the King. Steele was
dissatisfied with his friend\x92s moderation, and, though he acknowledged
that the Freeholder was excellently written. {403}complained that the
ministry played on a lute when it was necessary to blow the trumpet. He
accordingly determined to execute a flourish after his own fashion,
and tried to rouse the public spirit of the nation by means of a
paper called the Town Talk, which is now as utterly forgotten as his
Englishman, as his Crisis, as his Letter to the Bailiff of Stockbridge,
as his Reader, in short, as every thing that he wrote without the help
of Addison.

In the same year in which the Drummer was acted, and in which the first
numbers of the Freeholder appeared, the estrangement of Pope and Addison
became complete. Addison had from the first seen that Pope was false and
malevolent. Pope had discovered that Addison was jealous. The discovery
was made in a strange manner. Pope had written the Rape of the Lock, in
two cantos, without supernatural machinery. These two cantos had been
loudly applauded, and by none more loudly than by Addison. Then Pope
thought of the Sylphs and Gnomes, Ariel, Momentilla, Crispissa, and
Umbriel, and resolved to interweave the Rosicrucian mythology with the
original fabric. He asked Addison\x92s advice. Addison said that the poem
as it stood was a delicious little thing, and entreated Pope not to run
the risk of marring what was so excellent in trying to mend it. Pope
afterwards declared that this insidious counsel first opened his eyes to
the baseness of him who gave it.

Now there can be no doubt that Pope\x92s plan was most ingenious, and that
he afterwards executed it with great skill and success. But does it
necessarily follow that Addison\x92s advice was bad? And if Addison\x92s
advice was bad, does it necessarily follow that it was given from bad
motives? If a friend were to ask us whether {404}we would advise him to
risk his all in a lottery of which the chances were ten to one against
him, we should do our best to dissuade him from running such a risk Even
if he were so lucky as to get the thirty thousand pound prize, we should
not admit that we had counselled him ill; and we should certainly think
it the height of injustice in him to accuse us of having been actuated
by malice. We think Addison\x92s advice good advice. It rested on a sound
principle, the result of long and wide experience. The general rule
undoubtedlv is that, when a successful work of imagination has been
produced, it should not be recast. We cannot at this moment call to mind
a single instance in which this ride has been transgressed with happy
effect, except the instance of the Rape of the Lock. Tasso recast his
Jerusalem. Akenside recast his Pleasures of the Imagination, and his
Epistle to Curio. Pope himself, emboldened no doubt by the success with
which he had expanded and remodelled the Rape of the Lock, made the same
experiment on the Dunciad. All these attempts failed. Who was to foresee
that Pope would, once in his life, be able to do what he could not
himself do twice, and what nobody else has ever done?

Addison\x92s advice was good. But had it been bad, why should we pronounce
it dishonest? Scott tells us that one of his best friends predicted the
failure of Waverley. Herder adjured Goethe not to take so unpromising
a subject as Faust. Hume tried to dissuade Robertson from writing the
History of Charles the Fifth. Nay, Pope himself was one of those who
prophesied that Cato would never succeed on the stage, and advised
Addison to print it without risking a representation. But Scott, Goethe,
Robertson, Addison, had the good sense and generosity to give their
advisers {405}credit for the best intentions. Pope\x92s heart was not of
the same kind with theirs.

In 1715, while he was encased in translating the Iliad, he met Addison
at a coffeehouse. Phillipps and Budgell were there: but their sovereign
got rid of them, and asked Pope to dine with him alone. After dinner,
Addison said that he lay under a difficulty which he wished to explain.
\x93Tickell,\x94 he said, \x93translated some time ago the first book of
the Iliad. I have promised to look it over and correct it. I cannot
therefore ask to see yours; for that would be double dealing.\x94 Pope made
a civil reply, and begged that his second book might have the advantage
of Addison\x92s revision. Addison readily agreed, looked over the second
book, and sent it back with warm commendations.

Tickell\x92s version of the first book appeared soon after this
conversation. In the preface, all rivalry was earnestly disclaimed.
Tickell declared that he should not go on with the Iliad. That
enterprise he should leave to powers which he admitted to be superior
to his own. His only view, he said, in publishing this specimen was to
bespeak the favour of the public to a translation of the Odyssey, in
which he had made some progress.

Addison, and Addison\x92s devoted followers, pronounced both the versions
good, but maintained that Tickell\x92s had more of the original. The town
gave a decided preference to Pope\x92s. We do not think it worth while to
settle such a question of precedence. Neither of the rivals can be said
to have translated the Iliad, unless, indeed, the word translation be
used in the sense which it bears in the Midsummer Night\x92s Dream. When
Bottom makes his appearance with an ass\x92s head instead of his own, Peter
Quince exclaims, \x93Bless {406}thee! Bottom, bless thee! thou art
translated.\x94 In this sense, undoubtedly, the readers of either Homer or
Tickell may very properly exclaim, \x93Bless thee! Homer; thou art
translated indeed.\x94

Our readers will, we hope, agree with us in thinking that no man in
Addison\x92s situation could have acted more fairly and kindly, both
towards Pope, and towards Tickell, than he appears to have done. But an
odious suspicion had sprung up in the mind of Pope. He fancied, and he
soon firmly believed, that there was a deep conspiracy against his fame
and his fortunes. The work on which he had staked his reputation was
to be depreciated. The subscription, on which rested his hopes of a
competence, was to be defeated. With this view Addison had made a
rival translation: Tickell had consented to father it; and the wits of
Button\x92s had united to puff it.

Is there any external evidence to support this grave accusation? The
answer is short. There is absolutely none.

Was there any internal evidence which proved Addison to be the author
of this version? Was it a work which Tickell was incapable of producing?
Surely not. Tickell was a Fellow of a College at Oxford, and must be
supposed to have been able to construe the Iliad; and he was a better
versifier than his friend. We are not aware that Pope pretended to have
discovered any turns of expression peculiar to Addison. Had such turns
of expression been discovered, they would be sufficiently accounted for
by supposing Addison to have corrected his friend\x92s lines, as he owned
that he had done.

Is there any thing in the character of the accused persons which makes
the accusation probable? We {407}answer confidently--nothing. Tiekell
was long after this time described by Pope himself as a very fair and
worthy man. Addison had been, during many years, before the public.
Literary rivals, political opponents, had kept their eyes on him. But
neither envy nor faction, in their utmost rage, had ever imputed to him
a simple deviation from the laws of honour and of social morality. Had
he been indeed a man meanly jealous of fame, and capable of stooping to
base and wicked arts for the purpose of injuring his competitors, would
his vices have remained latent so long? He was a writer of tragedy: had
he ever injured Rowe? He was a writer of comedy: had he not done
ample justice to Congreve, and given valuable help to Steele? He was a
pamphleteer: have not his good nature and generosity been acknowledged
by Swift, his rival in fame and his adversary in politics?

That Tiekell should have been guilty of a villany seems to us highly
improbable. That Addison should have been guilty of a villany seems
to us highly improbable. But that these two men should have conspired
together to commit a villany seems to us improbable in a tenfold decree.
All that is known to us of their intercourse tends to prove, that it was
not the intercourse, of two accomplices in crime. These are some of
the lines in which Tiekell poured forth his sorrow over the coffin of

               \x93Or dost thou warn poor mortals left behind,

               A task well suited to thy gentle mind?

               Oh, if sometimes thy spotless form descend,

               To me thine aid, thou guardian genius, lend.

               When rage misguides me. or when fear alarms,

               When pain distresses, or when pleasure charms.

               In silent whisperings purer thoughts impart,

               And turn from ill a frail and feeble heart;

               Lead through the paths thy virtue trod before,

               Till bliss shall join, nor death can part us more.\x94

{408}In what words, we should like to know, did this guardian genius
invite his pupil to join in a plan such as the Editor of the Satirist
would hardly dare to propose to the Editor of the Age?

We do not accuse Pope of bringing an accusation which he knew to he
false. We have not the smallest doubt that he believed it to be true;
and the evidence on which he believed it he found in his own bad heart.
His own life was one long series of tricks, as mean and as malicious as
that of which he suspected Addison and Tickell. He was all stiletto and
mask. To injure, to insult, and to save himself from the consequences of
injury and insult by lying and equivocating, was the habit of his life.
He published a lampoon on the Duke of Chandos; he was taxed with it; and
he lied and equivocated. He published a lampoon on Aaron Hill; he was
taxed with it; and he lied and equivocated. He published a still fouler
lampoon on Lady Mary Wortley Montague; he was taxed with it; and he lied
with more than usual effrontery and vehemence. He puffed himself and
abused his enemies under feigned names. He robbed himself of his own
letters, and then raised the hue and cry after them. Besides his frauds
of malignity, of fear, of interest, and of vanity, there were frauds
which he seems to have committed from love of fraud alone. He had a
habit of stratagem, a pleasure in outwitting all who came near him.
Whatever his object might be, the indirect road to it was that which
he preferred. For Bolingbroke, Pope undoubtedly felt as much love and
veneration as it was in his nature to feel for any human being. Yet Pope
was scarcely dead when it was discovered that, from no motive except the
mere love of artifice, he had been guilty of an act of gross perfidy to
Bolingbroke. {409}Nothing was more natural than that such a man as this
should attribute to others that which he felt within himself. A plain,
probable, coherent explanation is frankly given to him. He is certain
that it is all a romance. A line of conduct scrupulously fair, and even
friendly, is pursued towards him. He is convinced that it is merely a
cover for a vile intrigue by which he is to be disgraced and ruined. It
is vain to ask him for proofs. He has none, and wants none, except those
which he carries in his own bosom.

Whether Pope\x92s malignity at length provoked Addison to retaliate for the
first and last time, cannot now be known with certainty. We have only
Pope\x92s story, which runs thus. A pamphlet appeared containing some
reflections which stung Pope to the quick. What those reflections were,
and whether they were reflections of which he had a right to complain,
we have now no means of deciding. The Earl of Warwick, a foolish and
vicious lad, who regarded Addison with the feelings with which such lads
generally regard their best friends, told Pope, truly or falsely, that
this pamphlet had been written by Addison\x92s direction. When we consider
what a tendency stories have to grow, in passing even from one honest
man to another honest man, and when we consider that to the name of
honest man neither Pope nor the Earl of Warwick had a claim, we are not
disposed to attach much importance to this anecdote.

It is certain, however, that Pope was furious. He had already sketched
the character of Atticus in prose. In his anger he turned this prose
into the brilliant and energetic lines which everybody knows by heart,
or ought to know by heart, and sent them to Addison. One charge
which Pope has enforced with great skill {410}is probably not without
foundation. Addison was, we are inclined to believe, too fond of
presiding over a circle of humble friends. Of the other imputations
which these famous lines are intended to convey, scarcely one has ever
been proved to be just, and some are certainly false. That Addison was
not in the habit of \x93damning with faint praise\x94 appears from innumerable
passages in his writings, and from none more than from those in which he
mentions Pope. And it is not merely unjust, but ridiculous, to describe
a man who made the fortune of almost every one of his intimate friends,
as \x93so obliging that he ne\x92er obliged.\x94 That Addison felt the sting of
Pope\x92s satire keenly, we cannot doubt. That he was conscious of one of
the weaknesses with which he was reproached is highly probable. Put
his heart, we firmly believe, acquitted him of the gravest part of the
accusation. He acted like himself. As a satirist he was, at his own
weapons, more than Pope\x92s match; and he would have been at no loss for
topics. A distorted and diseased body, tenanted by a yet more distorted
and diseased mind; spite and envy thinly disguised by sentiments as
benevolent and noble as those which Sir Peter Teazle admired in Mr.
Joseph Surface; a feeble sickly licentiousness; an odious love of filthy
and noisome images; these were things which a genius less powerful than
that to which we owe the Spectator could easily have held up to the
mirth and hatred of mankind. Addison had, moreover, at his command,
other means of vengeance which a bad man would not have scrupled to use.
He was powerful in the state. Pope was a Catholic; and, in those times,
a minister would have found it easy to harass the most innocent Catholic
by innumerable petty vexations. Pope, near twenty years {411}later,
said that \x93through the lenity of the government alone he could live with

\x93Consider,\x94 he exclaimed, \x93the injury that a man of high rank and
credit may do to a private person, under penal laws and many other
disadvantages.\x94 It is pleasing to reflect that, the only revenge which
Addison took was to insert in the Freeholder a warm encomium on the
translation of the Iliad, and to exhort all lovers of learning to put
down their names as subscribers. There could be no doubt, he said, from
the specimens already published, that the masterly hand of Pope would do
as much for Homer as Dryden had done for Virgil. From that time to the
end of his life, he always treated Pope, by Pope\x92s own acknowledgment,
with justice. Friendship was, of course, at an end.

One reason which induced the Earl of Warwick to play the ignominious
part of talebearer on this occasion, may have been his dislike of the
marriage which was about to take place between his mother and Addison.
The Countess Dowager, a daughter of the old and honourable family of the
Middletons of Chirk, a family which, in any country but ours, would be
called noble, resided at Holland House. Addison had, during some years,
occupied at Chelsea a small dwelling, once the abode of Nell Gwynn.
Chelsea is now a district of London, and Holland House may be called a
town residence. But, in the days of Anne and George the First, milkmaids
and sportsmen wandered between green hedges, and over fields bright with
daisies, from Kensington almost to the shore of the Thames. Addison and
Lady Warwick were country neighbours, and became intimate friends.
The great wit and scholar tried to allure the young Lord from the
fashionable amusements of beating watchmen, breaking {412}windows, and
rolling women in hogsheads down Holborn Hill, to the study of letters
and the practice of virtue. These well meant exertions did little good,
however, either to the disciple or to the master. Lord Warwick grew up
a rake; and Addison fell in love. The mature beauty of the Countess has
been celebrated by poets in language which, after a very large allowance
has been made for flattery, would lead us to believe that she was a
fine woman; and her rank doubt-, less heightened her attractions. The
courtship was long. The hopes of the lover appear to have risen and
fallen with the fortunes of his party. His attachment was at length
matter of such notoriety that, when he visited Ireland for the last
time, Rowe addressed some consolatory verses to the Chloe of Holland
House. It strikes us as a little strange that, in these verses, Addison
should be called Lycidas, a name of singularly evil omen for a swain
just about to cross St. George\x92s Channel.

At length Chloe capitulated. Addison was indeed able to treat with her
on equal terms. He had reason to expect preferment even higher than that
which he had attained. He had inherited the fortune of a brother who
died Governor of Madras. He had purchased an estate in Warwickshire, and
had been welcomed to his domain in very tolerable verse by one of the
neighbouring squires, the poetical foxhunter, William Somervile. In
August 1716, the newspapers announced that Joseph Addison, Esquire,
famous for many excellent works both in verse and prose, had espoused
the Countess Dowager of Warwick.

He now fixed his abode at Holland House, a house which can boast of
a greater number of inmates distinguished in political and literary
history than any other private dwelling in England. His portrait
still {413}hangs there. The features are pleasing; the complexion is
remarkably fair: but, in the expression we trace rather the gentleness
of his disposition than the force and keenness of his intellect.

Not long after his marriage he reached the height of civil greatness.
The Whig Government had, during some time, been torn by internal
dissensions. Lord Townshend led one section of the Cabinet, Lord
Sunderland the other. At length, in the spring of 1717, Sunderland
triumphed. Townshend retired from office, and was accompanied by Walpole
and Cowper. Sunderland proceeded to reconstruct the Ministry; and
Addison was appointed Secretary of State. It is certain that the Seals
were pressed upon him, and were at first declined by him. Men equally
versed in official business might easily have been found; and his
colleagues knew that they could not expect assistance from him in
debate. He owed his elevation to his popularity, to his stainless
probity, and to his literary fame.

But scarcely had Addison entered the Cabinet when his health began
to fail. From one serious attack he recovered in the autumn; and his
recovery was celebrated in Latin verses, worthy of his own pen, by
Vincent Bourne, who was then at Trinity College, Cambridge. A relapse
soon took place; and, in the following spring, Addison was prevented by
a severe asthma from discharging the duties of his post. He resigned it,
and was succeeded by his friend Craggs, a young man whose natural parts,
though little improved by cultivation, were quick and showy, whose
graceful person and winning manners had made him generally acceptable
in society, and who, if he had lived, would probably have been the most
formidable of all the rivals of Walpole. {414}As yet there was no
Joseph Hume. The Ministers, therefore, were able to bestow on Addison
a retiring pension of fifteen hundred pounds a year. In what form this
pension was given we are not told by the biographers, and have not time
to inquire, but it is certain that Addison did not vacate his seat in
the House of Commons.

Rest of mind and body seems to have re-established his health; and he
thanked God, with cheerful piety, for having set him free both from his
office and from his asthma. Many years seemed to be before him, and he
meditated many works, a tragedy on the death of Socrates, a translation
of the Psalms, a treatise on the evidences of Christianity. Of this last
performance, a part, which we could well spare, has come down to us.

But the fatal complaint soon returned, and gradually prevailed against
all the resources of medicine. It is melancholy to think that the last
months of such a life should have been overclouded both by domestic and
by political vexations. A tradition which began early, which has
been generally received, and to which we have nothing to oppose, has
represented his wife as an arrogant and imperious woman. It is said
that, till his health failed him, he was glad to escape from the
Countess Dowager and her magnificent dining-room, blazing with the
gilded devices of the House of Rich, to some tavern where he could enjoy
a laugh, a talk about Virgil and Boileau, and a bottle of claret, with
the friends of his happier days. All those friends, however, were not
left to him. Sir Richard Steele had been gradually estranged by various
causes. He considered himself as one who, in evil times, had braved
martyrdom for his political principles, and demanded, when the Whig
party was triumphant, a large compensation for {415}what he had suffered
when it was militant. The Whig leaders took a very different view of
his claims. They thought that he had, by his own petulance and folly,
brought them as well as himself into trouble, and though they did not
absolutely neglect him, doled out favours to him with a sparing hand. It
was natural that he should be angry with them, and especially angry with
Addison. But what above all seems to have disturbed Sir Richard, was the
elevation of Tickell, who, at thirty, was made by Addison Undersecretary
of State; while the Editor of the Tatler and Spectator, the author of
the Crisis, the member for Stockbridge who had been persecuted for firm
adherence to the House of Hanover, was, at near fifty, forced, after
many solicitations and complaints, to content himself with a share in
the patent of Drury Lane theatre. Steele himself says, in his celebrated
letter to Congreve, that Addison, by his preference of Tickell,
incurred the warmest resentment of other gentlemen and every thing
seems to indicate that, of those resentful gentlemen, Steele was himself

While poor Sir Richard was brooding over what he considered as Addison\x92s
unkindness, a new cause of quarrel arose. The Whig party, already
divided against itself, was rent by a new schism. The celebrated Bill
for limiting the number of Peers had been brought in.

The proud Duke of Somerset, first in rank of all the nobles whose origin
permitted them to sit in Parliament, was the ostensible author of the
measure. But it was supported, and, in truth, devised by the Prime

We are satisfied that the Bill was most pernicious; and we fear that the
motives which induced Sunderland to frame it were not honourable to him.
But we cannot deny that it was supported by many of the best {416}and
wisest men of that age. Nor was this strange. The royal prerogative had,
within the memory of the generation then in the vigour of life, been so
grossly abased, that it was still regarded with a jealousy which, when
the peculiar situation of the House of Brunswick is considered, may
perhaps be called immoderate. The particular prerogative of creating
peers had, in the opinion of the Whigs, been grossly abused by Queen
Anne\x92s last Ministry; and even the Tories admitted that her Majesty, in
swamping, as it has since been called, the Upper House, had done
what only an extreme case could justify. The theory of the English
constitution, according to many high authorities, was that three
independent powers, the sovereign, the nobility, and the commons, ought
constantly to act as checks on each other. If this theory were sound,
it seemed to follow that to put one of these powers under the absolute
control of the other two, was absurd. But if the number of peers were
unlimited, it could not well be denied that the Upper House was under
the absolute control of the Crown and the Commons, and was indebted only
to their moderation for any power which it might be suffered to retain.

Steele took part with the Opposition, Addison with the Ministers.
Steele, in a paper called the Plebeian, vehemently attacked the bill.
Sunderland called for help on Addison, and Addison obeyed the call. In
a paper called the Old Whig, he answered, and indeed refuted
Steele\x92s arguments. It seems to us that the premises of both the
controversialists were unsound, that, on those premises, Addison
reasoned well and Steele ill, and that consequently Addison brought out
a false conclusion while Steele blundered upon the truth. In style, in
wit, and in politeness, Addison {417}maintained his superiority, though
the Old Whig is by no means one of his happiest performances.

At first, both the anonymous opponents observed the laws of propriety.
But at length Steele so far forgot himself as to throw an odious
imputation on the morals of the chiefs of the administration. Addison
replied with severity, but, in our opinion, with less severity than was
due to so grave an offence against morality and decorum; nor did he,
in his just anger, forget for a moment the laws of good taste and good
breeding. One calumny which has been often repeated, and never yet
contradicted, it is our duty to expose. It is asserted in the Biographia
Britannica, that Addison designated Steele as \x93little Dicky.\x94 This
assertion was repeated by Johnson, who had never seen the Old Whig, and
was therefore excusable. It has also been repeated by Miss Aikin, who
has seen the Old Whig, and for whom therefore there is less excuse. Now,
it is true that the words \x93little Dicky\x94 occur in the Old Whig, and that
Steele\x92s name was Richard. It is equally true that the words \x93little
Isaac\x94 occur in the Duenna, and that Newton\x92s name was Isaac. But we
confidently affirm that Addison\x92s little Dicky had no more to do with
Steele, than Sheridan\x92s little Isaac with Newton. If we apply the
words \x93little Dicky\x94 to Steele, we deprive a very lively and ingenious
passage, not only of all its wit, but of all its meaning. Little Dicky
was the nickname of Henry Norris, an actor of remarkably small stature,
but of great humour, who played the usurer Gomez, then a most popular
part, in Dryden\x92s Spanish Friar. (1)

     (1) We will transcribe the whole paragraph. How it can ever
     have been misunderstood is unintelligible to us.

     \x93But our author\x92s chief concern is for the poor House of
     Commons, whom he represents as naked and defenceless, when
     the Crown, by losing this prerogative, would be less able to
     protect them against the power of a House of Lords. Who
     forbears laughing when the Spanish Friar represents little
     Dicky, under the person of Gomez, insulting the Colonel that
     was able to fright, him out of his wits with a single frown?
     This Gomez, says he, flew upon him like a dragon, got him
     down, the Devil being strong in him, and gave him bastinado
     on bastinado, and buffet on buffet, which the poor Colonel,
     being prostrate, suffered with a most Christian patience.
     The improbability of the fact never fails to raise mirth in
     the audience; and one may venture to answer for a British
     House of Commons, if we may guess, from its conduct
     hitherto, that it will scarce be either so tame or so weak
     as our author supposes.\x94

The {418}merited reproof which Steele had received, though softened by
some kind and courteous expressions, galled him bitterly. He replied
with little force and great acrimony; but no rejoinder appeared. Addison
was fast hastening to his grave; and had, we may well suppose, little
disposition to prosecute a quarrel with an old friend. His complaint
had terminated in dropsy. He bore up long and manfully. But at length
he abandoned all hope, dismissed his physicians, and calmly prepared
himself to die.

His works he intrusted to the care of Tickell, and dedicated them a very
few days before his death to Craggs, in a letter written with the sweet
and graceful eloquence of a Saturday\x92s Spectator. In this, his last
composition, he alluded to his approaching end in words so manly, so
cheerful, and so tender, that it is difficult to read them without
tears. At the same time he earnestly recommended the interests of
Tickell to the care of Craggs.

Within a few hours of the time at which this dedication was written,
Addison sent to beg Gay, who was then living by his wits about town, to
come to Holland House. Gay went, and was received with great kindness.
To his amazement his forgiveness was implored {419}by the dying man.
Poor Gay, the most good-natured and simple of mankind, could not imagine
what he had to forgive. There was, however, some wrong, the remembrance
of which weighed on Addison\x92s mind, and which he declared himself
anxious to repair. He was in a state of extreme exhaustion; and the
parting was doubtless a friendly one on both sides. Gay supposed that
some plan to serve him had been in agitation at Court, and had been
frustrated by Addison\x92s influence. Nor is this improbable. Gay had paid
assiduous court to the royal family. But in the Queen\x92s days he had been
the eulogist of Boling-broke, and was still connected with many Tories.
It is not strange that Addison, while heated by conflict, should have
thought himself justified in obstructing the preferment of one whom
he might regard as a political enemy. Neither is it strange that, when
reviewing his whole life, and earnestly scrutinising all his motives, he
should think that he had acted an unkind and ungenerous part, in using
his power against a distressed man of letters, who was as harmless and
as helpless as a child.

One inference may be drawn from this anecdote. It appears that Addison,
on his deathbed, called himself to a strict account, and was not at ease
till he had asked pardon for an injury which it was not even suspected
that he had committed, for an injury which would have caused disquiet
only to a very tender conscience. Is it not then reasonable to infer
that, if he had really been guilty of forming a base conspiracy against
the fame and fortunes of a rival, he would have expressed some remorse
for so serious a crime? But it is unnecessary to multiply arguments and
evidence for the defence, when there is neither argument nor evidence
for the accusation. {420}The last moments of Addison were perfectly
serene. His interview with his son-in-law is universally known.

\x93See,\x94 he said, \x93how a Christian can die.\x94 The piety of Addison was,
in truth, of a singularly cheerful character. The feeling which
predominates in all his devotional writings is gratitude. God was to him
the allwise and allpowerful friend who had watched over his cradle with
more than maternal tenderness; who had listened to his cries before they
could form themselves in prayer; who had preserved his youth from the
snares of vice; who had made his cup run over with worldly blessings;
who had doubled the value of those blessings, by bestowing a thankful
heart to enjoy them, and clear friends to partake them; who had rebuked
the waves of the Ligurian gulf, had purified the autumnal air of the
Campagna, and had restrained the avalanches of Mont Cenis. Of the
Psalms, his favourite was that which represents the Ruler of all things
under the endearing image of a shepherd, whose crook guides the flock
safe, through gloomy and desolate glens, to meadows well watered
and rich with herbage. On that goodness to which he ascribed all the
happiness of his life, he relied in the hour of death with the love
which casteth out fear. He died on the seventeenth of June 1719. He had
just entered on his forty-eighth year.

His body lay in state in the Jerusalem Chamber, and was borne thence
to the Abbey at dead of night. The choir sang a funeral hymn. Bishop
Atterbury, one of those Tories who had loved and honoured the most
accomplished of the Whigs, met the corpse, and led the procession by
torchlight, round the shrine of Saint Edward and the graves of the
Plantagenets, to the Chapel of Henry the Seventh. On the north side of
{421}that Chapel, in the vault of the House of Albemarle, the coffin of
Addison lies next to the coffin of Montague. Yet a few months; and the
same mourners passed again along the same aisle. The same sad anthem was
again chanted. The same vault was again opened; and the coffin of Craggs
was placed close to the coffin of Addison.

Many tributes were paid to the memory of Addison; but one alone is
now remembered. Tickell bewailed his friend in an elegy which would do
honour to the greatest name in our literature, and which, unites the
energy and magnificence of Dryden to the tenderness and purity of
Cowper. This fine poem was prefixed to a superb edition of Addison\x92s
works, which was published, in 1721, by subscription. The names of
the subscribers proved how widely his fame had been spread. That his
countrymen should be eager to possess his writings, even in a costly
form, is not wonderful. But it is wonderful that, though English
literature was then little studied on the continent, Spanish Grandees,
Italian Prelates, Marshals of France, should be found in the list. Among
the most remarkable names are those of the Queen of Sweden, of Prince
Eugene, of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, of the Dukes of Parma, Modena,
and Guastalla, of the Doge of Genoa, of the Regent Orleans, and of
Cardinal Dubois. We ought to add that this edition, though eminently
beautiful, is in some important points defective; nor, indeed, do we yet
possess a complete collection of Addison\x92s writings.

It is strange that neither his opulent and noble widow, nor any of his
powerful and attached friends, should have thought of placing even
a simple tablet, inscribed with his name, on the walls of the Abbey.
{422}It was not till three generations had laughed and wept over his
pages, that the omission was supplied by the public veneration. At
length, in our own time, his image, skilfully graven, appeared in Poet\x92s
Corner. It represents him, as we can conceive him, clad in his dressing
gown, and freed from his wig, stepping from his parlour at Chelsea into
his trim little garden, with the account of the Everlasting Club, or the
Loves of Hilpa and Shalum, just finished for the next day\x92s Spectator,
in his hand. Such a mark of national respect was due to the unsullied
statesman, to the accomplished scholar, to the master of pure English
eloquence, to the consummate painter of life and manners.

It was due, above all, to the great satirist, who alone knew how to use
ridicule without abusing it, who, without inflicting a wound, effected a
great social reform, and who reconciled wit and virtue, after a long
and disastrous separation, during which wit had been led astray by
profligacy, and virtue by fanaticism.

BAR\xC8RE (1)

(_Edinburgh Review_, April, 1844.)

THIS {423}book Has more than one title to our serious attention. It is
an appeal, solemnly made to posterity by a man who played a conspicuous
part in great events, and who represents himself as deeply aggrieved by
the rash and malevolent censure of his contemporaries. To such an appeal
we shall always give ready audience. We can perform no duty more useful
to society, or more agreeable to our own feelings, than that of making,
as far as our power extends, reparation to the slandered and
persecuted benefactors of mankind. We therefore promptly took into our
consideration this copious apology for the life of Bertrand Bar\xE8re. We
have made up our minds; and we now purpose to do him, by the blessing of
God, full and signal justice.

It is to be observed that the appellant in this case does not come
into court alone. He is attended to the bar of public opinion by two
compurgators, who occupy highly honourable stations. One of these is M.
David of Angers, Member of the Institute, an eminent sculptor, and, if
we have been rightly informed, a favourite pupil, though not a kinsman,
of the painter who bore the same name. The other, to whom we owe the

     (1) _M\xE9moires de Bertrand Bar\xE8re; publi\xE9s par MM. Hiippolyte
     Carnot. Membre de lu Chambre des D\xE9put\xE9s, et David d\x92Angers,
     Membre de l\x92Institut: pr\xE9c\xE9d\xE9s d\x92une Notice Historique par
     H. Carnot._ 4 tomes, Paris: 1843.

{424}preface, is M. Hippolyte Carnot, member of the Chamber of Deputies,
and son of the celebrated Director. In the judgment of M. David and of
M. Hippolyte Carnot, Bar\xE8re was a deserving and an ill-used man, a man
who, though by no means faultless, must yet, when due allowance is made
for the force of circumstances and the infirmity of human nature, be
considered as on the whole entitled to our esteem. It will be for the
public to determine, after a full hearing, whether the editors have, by
thus connecting their names with that of Bar\xE8re, raised his character or
lowered their own.

We are not conscious that, when we opened this book, we were under the
influence of any feeling likely to pervert our judgment. Undoubtedly, we
had long entertained a most unfavorable opinion of Bar\xE8re; but to this
opinion we were not tied by any passion or by any interest. Our dislike
was a reasonable dislike, and might have been removed by reason. Indeed
our expectation was, that these Memoirs would in some measure clear
Bar\xE8re\x92s fame. That he could vindicate himself from all the charges
which had been brought against him, we knew to be impossible; and his
editors admit that he has not done so. But we thought it highly probable
that some grave accusations would be refuted, and that many offences
to which he would have been forced to plead guilty would be greatly
extenuated. We were not disposed to be severe. We were fully aware that
temptations such as those to which the members of the Convention and
of the Committee of Public Safety were exposed must try severely the
strength of the firmest virtue. Indeed our inclination has always been
to regard with an indulgence, which to some rigid moralists appears
excessive, those faults into {425}which gentle and noble spirits are
sometimes hurried by the excitement of conflict, by the maddening
influence of sympathy, and by ill-regulated zeal for a public cause.

With such feelings we read this hook, and compared it with other
accounts of the events in which Bar\xE8re bore a part. It is now our duty
to express the opinion to which this investigation has led us.

Our opinion then is this: that Bar\xE8re approached nearer than any person
mentioned in history or fiction, whether man or devil, to the idea of
consummate and universal depravity. In him the qualities which are the
proper objects of hatred, and the qualities which are the proper objects
of contempt, preserve an exquisite and absolute harmony. In almost every
particular sort of wickedness he has had rivals. His sensuality was
immoderate; but this was a failing common to him with many great and
amiable men. There have been many men as cowardly as he, some as cruel,
a few as mean, a few as impudent. There may also have been as great
liars, though we never met with them or read of them. But when we put
every thing together, sensuality, poltroonery, baseness, effrontery,
mendacity, barbarity, the result is something which in a novel we should
condemn as caricature, and to which, we venture to say, no parallel can
be found in history.

It would be grossly unjust, we acknowledge, to try a man situated as
Bar\xE8re was by a severe standard. Nor have we done so. We have formed
our opinion of him by comparing him, not with politicians of stainless
character, not with Chancellor D\x92Aguesseau, or General Washington,
or Mr. Wilberforce, or Earl Grey, but with his own colleagues of the
Mountain. That party included a considerable number of the worst men
that {426}ever lived; but we see in it nothing like Bar\xE8re. Compared
with him, Fouch\xE9 seems honest; Billaud seems humane; H\xE9bert seems to
rise into dignity. Every other chief of a party, says M. Hippolyte
Carnot, has found apologists: one set of men exalts the Girondists;
another set justifies Danton; a third deifies Robespierre: but Bar\xE8re
has remained without a defender. We venture to suggest a very simple
solution of this phenomenon. All the other chiefs of parties had some
good qualities; and Bar\xE8re had none. The genius, courage, patriotism,
and humanity of the Girondist statesmen more than atoned for what was
culpable in their conduct, and should have protected them from the
insult of being compared with such a thing as Bar\xE8re. Danton and
Robespierre were indeed bad men; but in both of them some important
parts of the mind remained sound. Danton was brave and resolute, fond of
pleasure, of power, and of distinction, with vehement passions, with
lax principles, but with some kind and manly feelings, capable of great
crimes, but capable also of friendship and of compassion. He,
therefore, naturally finds admirers among persons of bold and sanguine
dispositions. Robespierre was a vain, envious, and suspicious man, with
a hard heart, weak nerves, and a gloomy temper. But we cannot with truth
deny that he was, in the vulgar sense of the word, disinterested, that
his private life was correct, or that he was sincerely zealous for
his own system of politics and morals. He, therefore, naturally finds
admirers among honest but moody and bitter democrats. If no class has
taken the reputation of Bar\xE8re under its patronage, the reason is plain:
Bar\xE8re had not a single virtue, nor even the semblance of one.

It is true that he was not, as far as we are able to {427}judge,
originally of a savage disposition; but this circumstance seems to ns
only to aggravate his guilt. There are some unhappy men constitutionally
prone to the darker passions, men all whose blood is gall, and to whom
bitter words and harsh actions are as natural as snarling: and biting;
to a ferocious dog. To come into the world with this wretched mental
disease is a greater calamity than to be born blind or deaf. A man who,
having such a temper, keeps it in subjection, and constrains himself to
behave habitually with justice and humanity towards those who are in
his power, seems to us worthy of the highest admiration. There have
been instances of this self-command; and they are among the most signal
triumphs of philosophy and religion. On the other hand, a man who,
having been blessed by nature with a bland disposition, gradually brings
himself to inflict misery on his fellow-creatures with indifference,
with satisfaction, and at length with a hideous rapture, deserves to
be regarded as a portent of wickedness; and such a man was Bar\xE8re.
The history of his downward progress is full of instruction. Weakness,
cowardice, and fickleness were born with him; the best quality which he
received from nature was a good temper. These, it is true, are not
very promising materials; yet, out of materials as unpromising, high
sentiments of piety and of honour have sometimes made martyrs and
heroes. Rigid principles often do for feeble minds what stays do for
feeble bodies. But Bar\xE8re had no principles at all. His character was
equally destitute of natural and of acquired strength. Neither in the
commerce of life, nor in books, did we ever become acquainted with
any mind so unstable, so utterly destitute of tone, so incapable of
independent thought and earnest preference, so ready to take impressions
{428}and so ready to lose them. He resembled those creepers which must
lean on something, and which, as soon as their prop is removed, fall
down in utter helplessness. He could no more stand up, erect and
self-supported, in any cause, than the ivy can rear itself like the oak,
or the wild vine shoot to heaven like the cedar of Lebanon. It is barely
possible that, under good guidance and in favourable circumstances,
such a man might have slipped through life without, discredit. But the
unseaworthy craft, which even in still water would have been in danger
of going down from its own rottenness, was launched on a raging ocean,
amidst a storm in which a whole armada of gallant ships was cast away.
The weakest and most servile of human beings found himself on a sudden
an actor in a Revolution which convulsed the whole civilised world. At
first he fell under the influence of humane and moderate men, and talked
the language of humanity and moderation. But he soon found himself
surrounded by fierce and resolute spirits, scared by no danger and
restrained by no scruple. He had to choose whether he would be their
victim or their accomplice. His choice was soon made. He tasted blood,
and felt no loathing: he tasted it again, and liked it well. Cruelty
became with him, first a habit, then a passion, at last a madness. So
complete and rapid was the degeneracy of his nature, that, within a very
few months after the time when he had passed for a good-natured man,
he had brought himself to look on the despair and misery of his
fellow-creatures with a glee resembling that of the fiends whom Dante
saw watching the pool of seething pitch in Malebolge. He had many
associates in guilt: but he distinguished himself from them all by the
Bacchanalian exultation {429}which he seemed to feel in the work of
death. He was drunk with innocent and noble blood, laughed and shouted
as he butchered, and howled strange songs and reeled in strange dances
amidst the carnage. Then came a sudden and violent turn of fortune. The
miserable man was hurled down from the height of power to hopeless ruin
and infamy. The shock sobered him at once. The fumes of his horrible
intoxication passed away. But he was now so irrecoverably depraved that
the discipline of adversity only drove him further into wickedness.
Ferocious vices, of which he had never been suspected, had been
developed in him by power. Another class of vices, less hateful perhaps,
but more despicable, was now developed in him by poverty and disgrace.
Having appalled the whole world by great crimes perpetrated under the
pretence of zeal for liberty, he became the meanest of all the tools of
despotism. It is not easy to settle the order of precedence among his
vices; but we are inclined to think that his baseness was, on the whole,
a rarer and more marvellous thing than his cruelty.

This is the view which we have long taken of Bar\xE8re\x92s character; but,
till we read these Memoirs, we held our opinion with the diffidence
which becomes a judge who has only heard one side. The case seemed
strong, and in parts unanswerable: yet we did not know what the accused
party might have to say for himself; and, not being much inclined to
take our fellow-creatures either for angels of light or for angels of
darkness, we could not but feel some suspicion that his offences had
been exaggerated. That suspicion is now at an end. The vindication is
before us. It occupies four volumes. It was the work of forty years. It
would be absurd to suppose that it does not refute every {430}serious
charge which admitted of refutation. How many serious charges, then, are
here refuted? Not a single one. Most of the imputations which have been
thrown on Bar\xE8re he does not even notice. In such cases, of course,
judgment must go against him by default. The fact is, that nothing can
be more meagre and uninteresting than his account of the great public
transactions in which he was engaged. He gives us hardly a word of
new information respecting the proceedings of the Committee of Public
Safety; and, by way of compensation, tells us long stories about things
which happened before he emerged from obscurity, and after He had again
sunk into it. Nor is this the worst. As soon as he ceases to write
trifles, he begins to write lies; and such lies! A man who has never
been within the tropics does not know what a thunderstorm means; a man
who has never looked on Niagara has but a faint idea of a cataract; and
he who has not read Bar\xE8re\x92s Memoirs may be said not to know what it
is to lie. Among the numerous classes which make up the great genus
_Mendacium, the Mendacium Vasconicum_, or Gascon He, has, during
some centuries, been highly esteemed as peculiarly circumstantial and
peculiarly impudent; and, among the _Mendacia Vasconica, the Mendacimn
Barerianum_ is, without doubt, the finest species. It is indeed a superb
variety, and quite throws into the shade some _Mendacia_ which we
are used to regard with admiration. The _Mendacium Wraxallianum_,
for example, though by no means to be despised, will not sustain the
comparison for a moment. Seriously, we think that M. Hippolyte Carnot is
much to blame in this matter. We can hardly suppose him to be worse read
than ourselves in the history of the Convention, a history which must
interest him deeply, not only as a {431}Frenchman, but also as a son.
He must, therefore, be perfectly aware that many of the most important
statements which these volumes contain are falsehoods, such as
Corneille\x92s Dorante, or Moli\xE8re\x92s Scapin, or Colin d\x92Harleville\x92s
Monsieur de Crac would have been ashamed to utter. We are far, indeed,
from holding M. Hippolyte Carnot answerable for Bar\xE8re\x92s want of
veracity; but M. Hippolyte Carnot has arranged these Memoirs, has
introduced them to the world by a laudatory preface, has described them
as documents of great historical value, and has illustrated them by
notes. We cannot but think that, by acting thus, he contracted some
obligations of which he does not seem to have been at all aware; and
that he ought not to have suffered any monstrous fiction to go forth
under the sanction of his name, without adding a line at the foot of the
page for the purpose of cautioning the reader.

We will content ourselves at present with pointing out two instances
of Bar\xE8re\x92s wilful and deliberate mendacity; namely, his account of
the death of Marie Antoinette, and his account of the death of
the Girondists. His account of the death of Marie Antoinette is as
follows:--\x93Robespierre in his turn proposed that the members of the
Capet family should be banished, and that Marie Antoinette should be
brought to trial before the Revolutionary Tribunal. He would have
been better employed in concerting military measures which might have
repaired our disasters in Belgium, and might have arrested the progress
of the enemies of the Revolution in the west.\x94--(Vol. ii. p. 312.)

Now, it is notorious that Marie Antoinette was sent before the
Revolutionary Tribunal, not at Robespierre\x92s instance, but in direct
opposition to Robespierre\x92s wishes. We will cite a single authority,
which is quite decisive. {432}Bonaparte, who had no conceivable motive
to disguise the truth, who had the best opportunities of knowing the
truth, and who, after his marriage with the Archduchess, naturally felt
an interest in the fate of his wife\x92s kinswoman, distinctly affirmed
that Robespierre opposed the trying of the Queen. (1) Who, then, was the
person who really did propose that the Capet family should he banished,
and that Marie Antoinette should be tried? Full information will be
found in the _moniteur_. (2) From that valuable record it appears that,
on the first of August 1793, an orator, deputed by the Committee
of Public Safety, addressed the Convention in a long and elaborate
discourse, He asked, in passionate language, how it happened that the
enemies of the republic still continued to hope for success. \x93Is it,\x94
 he cried, \x93because we have too long forgotten the crimes of the Austrian
woman? Is it because we have shown so strange an indulgence to the race
of our ancient tyrants? It is time that this unwise apathy should cease;
it is time to extirpate from the soil of the Republic the last roots of
royalty. As for the children of Louis the conspirator, they are hostages
for the Republic. The charge of their maintenance shall be reduced to
what is necessary for the food and keep of two individuals. The public
treasure shall no longer be lavished on creatures who have too long been
considered as privileged. But behind them lurks a woman who has been the
cause of all the disasters of France, and whose share in every project
adverse to the revolution has long been known. National justice claims
its rights over her. It is to the tribunal appointed for the trial of
conspirators that she ought to be sent. It is

     (1) O\x92Mehra.\x92s _Voice from Si. Helena_, ii. 170.

     (2) _Moniteur_, 2ml, 7th, and 9th of August, 1793.

{433}only by striking the Austrian woman that you can make Francis
and George, Charles and William, sensible of the crimes which their
ministers and their armies have committed.\x94 The speaker concluded by
moving that Marie Antoinette should be brought to judgment, and should,
for that end, he forthwith transferred to the Conciergerie: and that all
the members of the house of Capet, with the exception of those who were
under the sword of the law, and of the two children of Louis, should
be banished from the French territory. The motion was carried without

Now, who was the person who made this speech and this motion? It was
Bar\xE8re himself. It is clear, then, that Bar\xE8re attributed his own mean
insolence and barbarity to one who, whatever his crimes may have been,
was in this matter innocent. The only question remaining is, whether
Bar\xE8re was misled by his memory, or wrote a deliberate falsehood.

We are convinced that he wrote a deliberate falsehood. His memory is
described by his editors as remarkably good, and must have been bad
indeed if he could not remember such a fact as this. It is true that the
number of murders in which he subsequently bore a part was so great that
he might well confound one with another, that he might well forget what
part of the daily hecatomb was consigned to death by himself, and what
part by his colleagues. But two circumstances make it quite incredible
that the share which he took in the death of Marie Antoinette should
have escaped his recollection. She was one of his earliest victims.
She was one of his most illustrious victims. The most hardened assassin
remembers the first time that he shed blood; and the widow of Louis was
no ordinary sufferer. If the question had been {434}about some milliner,
butchered for biding in her garret her brother who had let drop a word
against the Jacobin club--if the question had been about some old nun,
dragged to death for having mumbled what were called fanatical words
over her beads--Bar\xE8re s memory might well have deceived him. It would
be as unreasonable to expect him to remember all the wretches whom
he slew as all the pinches of snuff that he took. But, though Bar\xE8re
murdered many hundreds of human beings, he murdered only one Queen. That
he, a small country lawyer, who, a few years before, would have thought
himself honoured by a glance or a word from the daughter of so many
C\xE6sars, should call her the Austrian woman, should send her from jail
to jail, should deliver her over to the executioner, was surely a great
event in his life. Whether he had reason to be proud of it or ashamed of
it, is a question on which we may perhaps differ from his editors; but
they will admit, we think, that he could not have forgotten it.

We, therefore, confidently charge Bar\xE8re with having written a
deliberate falsehood; and we have no hesitation in saying that we never,
in the course of any historical researches that we have happened to
make, fell in with a falsehood so audacious, except only the falsehood
which we are about to expose.

Of the proceeding against the Girondists, Bar\xE8re speaks with just
severity. He calls it an atrocious injustice perpetrated against the
legislators of the republic. He complains that distinguished deputies,
who ought to have been readmitted to their seats in the Convention, were
sent to the scaffold as conspirators. The day, he exclaims, was a day
of mourning for France. It mutilated the national representation; it
weakened the {435}sacred principle, that the delegates of the people
were inviolable. He protests that he had no share in the guilt. \x93I have
had,\x94 he says, \x93the patience to go through the _Moniteur_, extracting
all the charges brought against deputies, and all the decrees for
arresting and impeaching deputies. Nowhere will you find my name. I
never brought a charge against any of my colleagues, or made a report
against any, or drew up an impeachment against any.\x94 (1)

Now, we affirm that this is a lie. We affirm that Bar\xE8re himself took
the lead in the proceedings of the Convention against the Girondists. We
affirm that he, on the twenty-eighth of July 1793, proposed a decree
for bringing nine Girondist deputies to trial, and for putting to death
sixteen other Girondist deputies without any trial at all. We affirm
that, when the accused deputies had been brought to trial, and when some
apprehension arose that their eloquence might produce an effect even on
the Revolutionary Tribunal, Bar\xE8re did, on the 8th of Brumaire, second
a motion for a decree authorising the tribunal to decide without hearing
out the defence; and, for the truth of every one of these things so
affirmed by us, we appeal to that very _Moniteur_ to which Bar\xE8re has
dared to appeal. (2)

What M. Hippolyte Carnot, knowing, as he must know, that this book
contains such falsehoods as those which we have exposed, can have meant,
when he described it as a valuable addition to our stock of historical
information, passes our comprehension. When a man is not ashamed to tell
lies about events which took place before hundreds of witnesses, and
which are

     (1) Vol. II. 407.

     (2) _Moniteur_, 31st July, 1793, and Nonidi, first Decade of
     Brumaire, in the year 2.

recorded {436}in well-known and accessible books, what credit can we
give to his account of things done in corners? No historian who does not
wish to be laughed at will ever cite the unsupported authority of Bar\xE8re
as sufficient to prove any fact whatever. The only thing, as far as
we can see, on which these volumes throw any light, is the exceeding
baseness of the author.

So much for the veracity of the Memoirs. In a literary point of view,
they are beneath criticism. They are as shallow, flippant, and affected,
as Bar\xE8re\x92s oratory in the Convention. They are also, what his oratory
in the Convention was not, utterly insipid. In fact, they are the mere
dregs and rinsings of a bottle of which even the first froth was but of
very questionable flavour.

We will now try to present our readers with a sketch of this man\x92s life.
We shall, of course, make very sparing use indeed of his own Memoirs;
and never without distrust, except where they are confirmed by other

Bertrand Bar\xE8re was born in the year 1755, at Tarbes in Gascony. His
father was the proprietor of a small estate at Vieuzac, in the beautiful
vale of Angeles. Bertrand always loved to be called Bar\xE8re de Vieuzac,
and flattered himself with the hope that, by the help of this feudal
addition to his name, he might pass for a gentleman. He was educated for
the bar at Toulouse, the seat of one of the most celebrated parliaments
of the kingdom, practised as an advocate with considerable success,
and wrote some small pieces, which he sent to the principal literary
societies in the south of France. Among provincial towns, Toulouse seems
to have been remarkably rich in indifferent versifiers and critics. It
gloried especially in one venerable institution, called the Academy of
the Floral {437}Games. This body held every year a grand meeting,
which was a subject of intense interest to the whole city, and at which
flowers of gold and silver were given as prizes for odes, for idyls,
and for something that was called eloquence. These bounties produced of
course the ordinary effect of bounties, and turned people who might have
been thriving attorneys and useful apothecaries into small wits and bad
poets. Bar\xE8re does not appear to have been so lucky as to obtain any of
these precious flowers; but one of his performances was mentioned with
honour. At Montauban he was more fortunate. The Academy of that town
bestowed on him several prizes, one for a panegyric on Louis the
Twelfth, in which the blessings of monarchy and the loyalty of the
French nation were set forth; and another for a panegyric on poor Franc
de Pompignan, in which, as may easily be supposed, the philosophy of the
eighteenth century was sharply assailed. Then Bar\xE8re found an old stone
inscribed with three Latin words, and wrote a dissertation upon it,
which procured him a seat in a learned Assembly, called the Toulouse
Academy of Sciences, Inscriptions, and Polite Literature. At length the
doors of the Academy of the Floral Games were opened to so much
merit. Bar\xE8re, in his thirty-third year, took his seat as one of that
illustrious brotherhood, and made an inaugural oration which was greatly
admired. He apologises for recounting these triumphs of his youthful
genius. We own that we cannot blame him for dwelling long on the least
disgraceful portion of his existence, do send in declamations for prizes
offered by provincial academies is indeed no very useful or dignified
employment for a bearded man; but it would have been well if Bar\xE8re
had always been so employed. {438}In 1785 be married a young lady of
considerable fortune. Whether she was in other respects qualified
to make a home happy, is a point respecting which we are imperfectly
informed. In a little work, entitled _Melancholy Pages_, which was
written in 1797, Bar\xE8re avers that his marriage was one of mere
convenience, that at the altar his heart was heavy with sorrowful
forebodings, that he turned pale as he pronounced the solemn \x93Yes,\x94
 that unbidden tears rolled down his cheeks, that his mother shared his
presentiment, and that the evil omen was accomplished. \x93My marriage,\x94
 he says, \x93was one of the most unhappy of marriages.\x94 So romantic a
tale, told by so noted a liar, did not command our belief\x92. We were,
therefore, not much surprised to discover that, in his Memoirs, he calls
his wife a most amiable woman, and declares that, after he had been
united to her six years, he found her as amiable as ever. He complains,
indeed, that she was too much attached to royalty and to the old
superstition; but he assures us that his respect for her virtues induced
him to tolerate her prejudices. Now Bar\xE8re, at the time of his marriage
was himself a Royalist and a Catholic. He had gained one prize by
flattering the Throne, and another by defending the Church. It is hardly
possible, therefore, that disputes about politics or religion should
have embittered his domestic life till some time after he became a
husband. Our own guess is, that his wife was, as he says, a virtuous and
amiable woman, and that she did her best to make him happy during some
years. It seems clear that, when circumstances developed the latent
atrocity of his character, she could no longer endure him, refused to
see him, and sent back his letters unopened. Then it was, we imagine,
that he invented the fable about his distress on his wedding day.
{439}In 1788 Bar\xE8re paid his first visit to Paris, attended reviews,
heard Laharpe at the Lyc\xE6um, and Condorcet at the Academy of Sciences,
stared at the envoys of Tippoo Sahib, saw the Royal Family dine at
Versailles, and kept a journal in which he noted down adventures and
speculations. Some parts of this journal are printed in the first volume
of the work before us, and are certainly most characteristic. The worst
vices of the writer had not yet shown themselves; but the weakness which
was the parent of those vices appears in every line. His levity, his
inconsistency, his servility, were already what they were to the
last. All his opinions, all his feelings, spin round and round like a
weathercock in a whirlwind. Nay, the very impressions which he receives
through his senses are not the same two days together. He sees Louis
the Sixteenth, and is so much blinded by loyalty as to find his Majesty
handsome. \x93I fixed my eyes,\x94 he says, \x93with a lively curiosity on his
fine countenance, which I thought open and noble.\x94 The next time that
the king appears all is altered. His Majesty\x92s eyes are without the
smallest expression; he has a vulgar laugh which seems like idiocy, an
ignoble figure, an awkward gait, and the look of a big boy ill brought
up. It is the same with more important questions. Bar\xE8re is for the
parliaments on the Monday and against the parliaments on the Tuesday,
for feudality in the morning and against feudality in the afternoon. One
day he admires the English constitution: then he shudders to think
that, in the struggles by which that constitution had been obtained, the
barbarous islanders had murdered a king, and gives the preference to
the constitution of Bearn. Bearn, he says, has a sublime constitution, a
beautiful constitution. There the nobility and clergy meet in one house
and the Commons in an other. {440}If the houses differ, the King has
the casting vote. A few weeks later we find him raving against the
principles of this sublime and beautiful constitution. To admit deputies
of the nobility and clergy into the legislature, is, he says, neither
more nor less than to admit enemies of the nation into the legislature.

In this state of mind, without one settled purpose or opinion, the slave
of the last world, royalist, aristocrat, democrat, according to the
prevailing sentiment of the coffee-house or drawing-room into which he
had just looked, did Bar\xE8re enter into public life. The States-General
had been summoned. Bar\xE8re went down to his own province, was there
elected one of the representatives of the Third Estate, and returned to
Paris in May 1789.

A great crisis, often predicted, had at last arrived. In no country,
we conceive, have intellectual freedom and political servitude existed
together so long as in France, during the seventy or eighty years which
preceded the last convocation of the Orders. Ancient abuses and new
theories flourished in equal vigour side by side. The people, having no
constitutional means of checking even the most flagitious misgovernment,
were indemnified for oppression by being suffered to luxuriate in
anarchical speculation, and to deny or ridicule every principle on which
the institutions of the state reposed. Neither those who attribute the
downfall of the old French institutions to the public grievances, nor
those who attribute it to the doctrines of the philosophers, appear
to us to have taken into their view more than one half of the subject.
Grievances as heavy have often been endured without producing a
revolution; doctrines as bold have often been propounded without
producing a revolution. The question, whether {441}the French nation was
alienated from its old polity by the follies and vices of the Viziers
and Sultans who pillaged and disgraced it, or by the writings of
Voltaire and Rousseau, seems to us as idle as the question whether it
was fire or gunpowder that blew up the mills at Hounslow. Neither
cause would have sufficed alone. Tyranny may last through ages where
discussion is suppressed. Discussion may safely be left free by rulers
who act on popular principles. But combine a press like that of London
with a government like that of St. Petersburg; and the inevitable effect
will be an explosion that will shake the world. So it was in France.
Despotism and License, mingled in unblessed union, engendered that
mighty Revolution in which the lineaments of both parents were strangely
blended. The long gestation was accomplished; and Europe saw, with mixed
hope and terror, that agonising travail and that portentous birth.

Among the crowd of legislators which at this juncture poured from all
the provinces of France into Paris, Bar\xE8re made no contemptible figure.
The opinions which he for the moment professed were popular, yet not
extreme. His character was fair; his personal advantages are said to
have been considerable; and, from the portrait which is prefixed
to these Memoirs, and which represents him as he appeared in the
Convention, we should judge that his features must have been strikingly
handsome, though we think that we can read in them cowardice and
meanness very legibly written by the hand of God. His conversation was
lively and easy; his manners remarkably good for a country lawyer. Women
of rank and wit said that he was the only man who, on his first
arrival from a remote province, had that indescribable air which it was
{442}supposed that Paris alone could give. His eloquence, indeed, was by
no means so much admired in the capital as it had been by the ingenious
academicians of Montauban and Toulouse. His style was thought very bad;
and very bad, if a foreigner may venture to judge, it continued to the
last. It would, however, be unjust to deny that he had some talents for
speaking and writing. His rhetoric, though deformed by every imaginable
fault of taste, from bombast down to buffoonery, was not wholly without
force and vivacity. He had also one quality which, in active life, often
gives fourth-rate men an advantage over first-rate men. Whatever he
could do he could do without effort, at any moment, in any abundance,
and on any side of any question. There was, indeed, a perfect harmony
between his moral character and his intellectual character. His temper
was that of a slave; his abilities were exactly those which qualified
him to be a useful slave. Of thinking to purpose he was utterly
incapable; but he had wonderful readiness in arranging and expressing
thoughts furnished by others.

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

He at first ranked by no means among the violent reformers. He was not
friendly to that new division of the French territory, which was
among the most important changes introduced by the Revolution, and was
especially unwilling to see his native province dismembered. He was
entrusted with the task of framing {443}Reports on the Woods and
Forests. Louis was exceedingly anxious about this matter; for his
majesty was a keen sportsman, and would much rather have gone without
the Veto, or the prerogative of making peace and war, than without his
hunting and shooting. Gentlemen of the royal household were sent to
Bar\xE8re in order to intercede for the deer and pheasants. Nor was this
intercession unsuccessful. The reports were so drawn that Bar\xE8re was
afterwards accused of having dishonestly sacrificed the interests of the
public to the tastes of the court. To one of these reports he had the
inconceivable folly and bad taste to prefix a punning motto from Virgil,
fit only for such essays as he had been in the habit of composing for
the Floral Games:

               \x93Si canimus sylvas, svlv\xE6 sint Consule dign\xE6.\x94

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

As the monarchical party became weaker and weaker, Bar\xE8re gradually
estranged himself more and more from it, and drew closer and closer to
the republicans.

It would seem that, during this transition, he was for a time closely
connected with the family of Orleans. It is certain that he was
entrusted with the guardianship of the celebrated Pamela, afterwards
Lady Edward Fitzgerald: and it was asserted that he received during some
years a pension of twelve thousand francs from the Palais Royal.

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

It had been enacted that no member of the National Assembly should
sit in the Legislative Assembly; a {444}preposterous and mischievous
regulation, to which the disasters which followed must in part be
ascribed. In England, what would be thought of a Parliament which did
not contain one single person who had ever sat in parliament before?
Yet it may safely be affirmed that the number of Englishmen who, never
having taken any share in public affairs, are yet well qualified, by
knowledge and observation, to be members of the legislature, is at
least a hundred times as great as the number of Frenchmen who were
so qualified in 1791. How, indeed, should it have been otherwise? In
England, centuries of representative government have made all educated
people in some measure statesmen. In France the National Assembly had
probably been composed of as good materials as were then to be found. It
had undoubtedly removed a vast mass of abuses; some of its members had
read and thought much about theories of government; and others had shown
great oratorical talents. But that kind of skill which is required for
the constructing, launching, and steering of a polity was lamentably
wanting; for it is a kind of skill to which practice contributes more
than books. Books are indeed useful to the politician, as they are
useful to the navigator and to the surgeon. But the real navigator is
formed on the waves; the real surgeon is formed at bedsides; and
the conflicts of free states are the real school of constitutional
statesmen. The National Assembly had, however, now served an
apprenticeship of two laborious and eventful years. It had, indeed, by
no means finished its education; but it was no longer, as on the
day when it met, altogether rude to political functions. Its later
proceedings contain abundant proof that the members had profited by
their experience. Beyond all doubt, there was not in France {445}any
equal number of persons possessing in an equal degree the qualities
necessary for the judicious direction of public affairs; and, just at
this moment, these legislators, misled by a childish wish to display
their own disinterestedness, deserted the duties which they had half
learned, and which nobody else had learned at all, and left their
hall to a second crowd of novices, who had still to master the first
rudiments of political business. When Bar\xE8re wrote his Memoirs, the
absurdity of this self-denying ordinance had been proved by events, and
was, we believe, acknowledged by all parties. He accordingly, with his
usual mendacity, speaks of it in terms implying that he had opposed it.
There was, he tells us, no good citizen who did not regret this fatal
vote. Nay, all wise men, he says, wished the National Assembly to
continue its sittings as the first Legislative Assembly. But no
attention was paid to the wishes of the enlightened friends of liberty;
and the generous but fatal suicide was perpetrated. Now the fact is,
that Bar\xE8re, far from opposing this ill-advised measure, was one of
those who most eagerly supported it; that he described it from the
tribune as wise and magnanimous; that he assigned, as his reasons for
taking this view, some of those phrases in which orators of his class
delight, and which, on all men who have the smallest insight into
politics, produce an effect very similar to that of ipecacuanha.
\x93Those,\x94 he said, \x93who have framed a constitution for their country are,
so to speak, out of the pale of that social state of which they are the
authors; for creative power is not in the same sphere with that which it
has created.\x94

M. Hippolyte Carnot has noticed this untruth, and attributes it to
mere forgetfulness. We leave it to him to reconcile his very charitable
supposition with what {446}He elsewhere says of the remarkable
excellence of Bar\xE8re\x92s memory.

Many members of the National Assembly were indemnified for the sacrifice
of legislative power, by appointments in various departments of the
public service. Of these fortunate persons Bar\xE8re was one. A high Court
of Appeal had just been instituted. This court was to sit at Paris: but
its jurisdiction was to extend over the whole realm; and the departments
were to choose the judges. Bar\xE8re was nominated by the department of the
Upper Pyrenees, and took his seat in the Palace of Justice. He asserts,
and our readers may, if they choose, believe, that it was about this
time in contemplation to make him Minister of the Interior, and that, in
order to avoid so grave a responsibility, he obtained permission to pay
a visit to his native place. It is certain that he left Paris early in
the year 1792, and passed some months in the south of France.

In the mean time, it became clear that the constitution of 1791 would
not work. It was, indeed, not to be expected that a constitution new
both in its principles and its details would at first work easily. Had
the chief magistrate enjoyed the entire confidence of the people, had he
performed his part with the utmost zeal, fidelity, and ability, had the
representative body included all the wisest statesmen of France, the
difficulties might still have been found insuperable. But, in fact, the
experiment was made under every disadvantage. The King, very naturally,
hated the constitution. In the Legislative Assembly were men of
genius and men of good intentions, but not a single man of experience.
Nevertheless, if France had been suffered to settle her own affairs
without foreign interference, it is possible {447}that the calamities
which followed might have been averted. The King, who, with many good
qualities, was sluggish and sensual, might have found compensation for
his lost prerogatives in his immense civil list, in his palaces and
hunting grounds, in soups, P\xE9rigord pies, and Champagne. The people,
finding themselves secure in the enjoyment of the valuable reforms which
the National Assembly had, in the midst of all its errors, effected,
would not have been easily excited by demagogues to acts of atrocity;
or, if acts of atrocity had been committed, those acts would probably
have produced a speedy and violent reaction. Had tolerable quiet been
preserved during a few years, the constitution of 1791 might perhaps
have taken root, might have gradually acquired the strength which
time alone can give, and might, with some modifications which were
undoubtedly needed, have lasted down to the present time. The European
coalition against the Revolution extinguished all hope of such a result.
The deposition of Louis was, in our opinion, the necessary consequence
of that coalition. The question was now no longer, whether the King
should have an absolute Veto or a suspensive Veto, whether there
should be one chamber or two chambers, whether the members of the
representative body should be re-eligible or not; but whether France
should belong to the French. The independence of the nation, the
integrity of the territory, were at stake; and we must say plainly that
we cordially approve of the conduct of those Frenchmen who, at that
conjuncture, resolved, like our own Blake, to play the men for their
country, under whatever form of government their country might fall.

It seems to us clear that the war with the Continental coalition was, on
the side of France, at first a {448}defensive war, and therefore a just
war. It was not a war for small objects, or against despicable enemies.
On the event were staked all the dearest interests of the French people.
Foremost among the threatening powers appeared two great and martial
monarchies, either of which, situated as France then was, might be
regarded as a formidable assailant. It is evident that, under such
circumstances, the French could not, without extreme imprudence,
entrust the supreme administration of their affairs to any person
whose attachment to the national cause admitted of doubt. Now, it is no
reproach to the memory of Louis to say that he was not attached to the
national cause. Had he been so, he would have been something more than
man. He had held absolute power, not by usurpation, but by the accident
of birth and by the ancient polity of the kingdom. That power he had,
on the whole, used with lenity. He had meant well by his people. He had
been willing to make to them, of his own mere motion, concessions such
as scarcely any other sovereign has ever made except under duress.
He had paid the penalty of faults not his own, of the haughtiness and
ambition of some of his predecessors, of the dissoluteness and baseness
of others. He had been vanquished, taken captive, led in triumph, put in
ward. He had escaped; he had been caught; He had been dragged back like
a runaway galley-slave to the oar. He was still a state prisoner. His
quiet was broken by daily affronts and lampoons. Accustomed from the
cradle to be treated with profound reverence, he was now forced to
command his feelings, while men who, a few months before, had been
hackney writers or country attorneys sat in his presence with covered
heads, and addressed him in the easy tone of equality. Conscions {449}of
fair intentions, sensible of hard usage, he doubtless detested the
Revolution; and, while charged with the conduct of the war against the
confederates, pined in secret for the sight of the German eagles and
the sound of the German drums. We do not blame him for this. But can
we blame those who, being resolved to defend the work of the National
Assembly against the interference of strangers, were not disposed to
have him at their head in the fearful struggle which was approaching?
We have nothing to say in defence or extenuation of the insolence,
injustice, and cruelty with which, after the victory of the republicans,
he and his family were treated. But this we say, that the French had
only one alternative, to deprive him of the powers of first magistrate,
or to ground their arms and submit patiently to foreign dictation.
The events of the tenth of August sprang inevitably from the league of
Pilnitz. The King\x92s palace was stormed; his guards were slaughtered.
He was suspended from his regal functions; and the Legislative Assembly
invited the nation to elect an extraordinary Convention, with the full
powers which the conjuncture required. To this Convention the members
of the National Assembly were eligible; and Bar\xE8re was chosen by his own

The Convention met on the twenty-first of September 1792. The first
proceedings were unanimous. Royalty was abolished by acclamation. No
objections were made to this great change; and no reasons were assigned
for it. For certainly we cannot honour with the name of reasons such
apothegms, as that kings are in the moral world what monsters are in
the physical world; and that the history of kings is the martyrology
of nations. But, though the discussion was {450}worthy only of a
debating-club of schoolboys, the resolution to which the Convention came
seems to have been that which sound policy dictated. In saying this,
we do not mean to express an opinion that a republic is, either in
the abstract the best form of government, or is, under ordinary
circumstances, the form of government best suited to the French people.
Our own opinion is, that the best governments which have ever existed in
the world have been limited monarchies; and that France, in particular,
has never enjoyed so much prosperity and freedom as under a limited
monarchy. Nevertheless, we approve of the vote of the Convention which
abolished kingly government. The interference of foreign powers had
brought on a crisis which made extraordinary measures necessary.
Hereditary monarchy may be, and we believe that it is, a very useful
institution in a country like France. And masts are very useful parts of
a ship. But, if the ship is on her beam-ends, it may be necessary to cut
the masts away. When once she has righted, she may come safe into port
under jury rigging, and there be completely repaired. But, in the mean
time, she must be hacked with unsparing hand, lest that which, under
ordinary circumstances, is an essential part of her fabric should,
in her extreme distress, sink her to the bottom. Even so there are
political emergencies in which it is necessary that governments should
be mutilated of their fair proportions for a time, lest they be cast
away for ever; and with such an emergency the Convention had to deal.\x92
The first object of a good Frenchman should have been to save France
from the fate of Poland. The first requisite of a government was entire
devotion to the national cause. That requisite was wanting in Louis; and
such a want, at {451}such a moment, could not be supplied by any
public or private virtues. If the King were set aside, the abolition
of kingship necessarily followed. In the state in which the public mind
then was, it would have been idle to think of doing what our ancestors
did in 1688, and what the French Chamber of Deputies did in 1830. Such
an attempt would have failed amidst universal derision and execration.
It would have disgusted all zealous men of all opinions; and there were
then few men who were not zealous. Parties fatigued by long conflict,
and instructed by the severe discipline of that school in which alone
mankind will learn, are disposed to listen to the voice of a mediator.
But when they are in their first heady youth, devoid of experience,
fresh for exertion, flushed with hope, burning with animosity, they
agree only in spurning out of their way the daysman who strives to take
his stand between them and to lay his hand upon them both. Such was in
1792 the state of France. On one side was the great name of the heir of
Hugh Capet, the thirty-third king of the third race; on the other side
was the great name of the republic. There was no rallying point save
these two. It was necessary to make a choice; and those, in our opinion,
judged well who, waving for the moulent all subordinate questions,
preferred independence to subjugation, and the natal soil to the
emigrant camp.

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

On one side were those statesmen who are called, from the name of the
department which some of them {452}represented, the Girondists, and,
from the name of one of their most conspicuous leaders, the Brissotines.
In activity and practical ability, Brissot and Gensonn\xE9 were the most
conspicuous among them. In parliamentary eloquence, no Frenchman of that
time can be considered as equal to Vergniaud. In a foreign country, and
after the lapse of half a century, some parts of his speeches are still
read with mournful admiration. No man, we are inclined to believe, ever
rose so rapidly to such a height of oratorical excellence. His whole
public life lasted barely two years. This is a circumstance which
distinguishes him from our own greatest speakers, Fox, Burke, Pitt,
Sheridan, Windham, Canning. Which of these celebrated men would now be
remembered as an orator, if he had died two years after he first took
his seat in the House of Commons? Condorcet brought to the Girondist
party a different kind of strength. The public regarded him with justice
as an eminent mathematician, and, with less reason, as a great master of
ethical and political science; the philosophers considered him as their
chief, as the rightful heir, by intellectual descent and by solemn
adoption, of their deceased sovereign D\x92Alembert. In the same ranks were
found Gaudet, Isnard, Barbaroux, Buzot, Louvet, too well known as
the author of a very ingenious and very licentious romance, and more
honourably distinguished by the generosity with which he pleaded for the
unfortunate, and by the intrepidity with which he defied the wicked and
powerful. Two persons whose talents were not brilliant, but who enjoyed
a high reputation for probity and public spirit, Petion and Roland, lent
the whole weight of their names to the Girondist connection. The wife of
Roland brought to the deliberations of her husband\x92s friends masculine
courage and {453}force of thought, tempered by womanly grace and
vivacity. Nor was the splendour of a great military reputation wanting
to this celebrated party. Dumourier, then victorious over the foreign
invaders, and at the height of popular favour, must be reckoned among
the allies of the Gironde.

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

Thus far they went along with the revolutionary movement. At this point
they stopped; and, in our judgment, they were right in stopping, as
they had been right in moving. For great ends, and under extraordinary
circumstances, they had concurred in measures which, together with much
good, had necessarily produced {454}much evil; which had unsettled
the public mind; which had taken away from government the sanction of
prescription; which had loosened the very foundations of property
and law. They thought that it was now their duty to prop what it had
recently been their duty to batter. They loved liberty, but liberty
associated with order, with justice, with mercy, and with civilisation.
They were republicans; but they were desirous to adorn their republic
with all that had given grace and dignity to the fallen monarchy. They
hoped that the humanity, the courtesy, the taste, which had done much in
old times to mitigate the slavery of France, would now lend additional
charms to her freedom. They saw with horror crimes, exceeding in
atrocity those which had disgraced the infuriated religious factions
of the sixteenth century, perpetrated in the name of reason and
philanthropy. They demanded, with eloquent vehemence, that the
authors of the lawless massacre, which, just before the meeting of
the Convention, had been committed in the prisons of Paris, should be
brought, to condign punishment. They treated with just contempt the
pleas which have been set up for that great crime. They admitted that
the public danger was pressing; but they denied that it justified a
violation of those principles of morality on which all society rests.
The independence and honour of France were indeed to be vindicated, but
to be vindicated by triumphs and not by murders.

Opposed to the Girondists was a party which, having been long execrated
throughout the civilised world, has of late--such is the ebb and flow
of opinion--found not only apologists, but even eulogists. We are not
disposed to deny that some members of the Mountain were sincere and
public-spirited men. But even {455}the best of them, Carnot for example
and Cambon, were far too unscrupulous as to the means which they
employed for the purpose of attaining great ends. In the train of these
enthusiasts followed a crowd, composed of all who, from sensual, sordid,
or malignant motives, wished for a period of boundless license.

When the Convention met, the majority was with the Girondists, and
Bar\xE8re was with the majority. On the King\x92s trial, indeed, he quitted
the party with which he ordinarily acted, voted with the Mountain, and
spoke against the prisoner with a violence such as few members even of
the Mountain showed.

The conduct of the leading Girondists on that occasion was little
to their honour. Of cruelty, indeed, we fully acquit them; but it is
impossible to acquit them of criminal irresolution and disingenuousness.
They were far, indeed, from thirsting for the blood of Louis; on the
contrary, they were most desirous to protect him. But, they were afraid
that, if they went straight forward to their object, the sincerity of
their attachment to republican institutions would be suspected. They
wished to save the King\x92s life, and yet to obtain all the credit of
having been regicides. Accordingly, they traced out for themselves a
crooked course, by which they hoped to attain both their objects. They
first voted the King guilty. They then voted for referring the question
respecting his fate to the whole body of the people. Defeated in this
attempt to rescue him, they reluctantly, and with ill suppressed shame
and concern, voted for the capital sentence. Then they made a last
attempt in his favour, and voted for respiting the execution. These
zigzag politics produced the effect which any man conversant with public
affairs might have foreseen. The Girondists, instead of attaining both
{456}their ends, failed of both. The Mountain justly charged them
with having attempted to save the King by underhand means. Their own
consciences told them, with equal justice, that their hands had been
dipped in the blood of the most inoffensive and most unfortunate of men.
The direct path was here, as usual, the path not only of honour but of
safety. The principle on which the Girondists stood as a party was, that
the season for revolutionary violence was over, and that the reign of
law and order ought now to commence. But the proceeding against the King
was clearly revolutionary in its nature. It was not in conformity
with the laws. The only plea for it was, that all ordinary rules of
jurisprudence and morality were suspended by the extreme public danger.
This was the very plea which the Mountain urged in defence of the
massacre of September, and to which, when so urged, the Girondists
refused to listen. They therefore, by voting for the death of the
King, conceded to the Mountain the chief point at issue between the two
parties. Had they given a manful vote against the capital sentence, the
regicides would have been in a minority. It is probable that there would
have been an immediate appeal to force. The Girondists might have been
victorious. In the worst event, they would have fallen with unblemished
honour. Thus much is certain, that their boldness and honesty could
not possibly have produced a worse effect than was actually produced by
their timidity and their stratagems.

Bar\xE8re, as we have said, sided with the Mountain on this occasion. He
voted against the appeal to the people, and against the respite. His
demeanour and his language also were widely different from those of the
Girondists. Their hearts were heavy, and their deportment {457}was that
of men oppressed by sorrow. It was Vergniaud\x92s duty to proclaim the
result of the roll-call. His face was pale, and he trembled with
emotion, as in a low and broken voice he announced that Louis was
condemned to death. Bar\xE8re had not, it is true, yet attained to full
perfection in the art of mingling jests and conceits with words of
death; but he already gave promise of his future excellence in this high
department of Jacobin oratory. He concluded his speech with a sentence
worthy of his head and heart. \x93The tree of liberty,\x94 he said, \x93as an
ancient author remarks, flourishes when it is watered with the blood of
all classes of tyrants.\x94 M. Hippolyte Carnot has quoted this passage in
order, as we suppose, to do honour to his hero. We wish that a note had
been added to inform us from what ancient author Bar\xE8re quoted. In the
course of our own small reading among the Greek and Latin writers, we
have not happened to fall in with trees of liberty and watering pots
full of blood; nor can we, such is our ignorance of classical antiquity,
even imagine an Attic or Roman orator employing imagery of that sort. In
plain words, when Bar\xE8re talked about an ancient author he was lying, as
he generally was when he asserted any fact, great or small. Why he lied
on this occasion we cannot guess, unless indeed it was to keep his hand

It is not improbable that, but for one circumstance, Bar\xE8re would, like
most of those with whom he ordinarily acted, have voted for the appeal
to the people and for the respite. But, just before the commencement of
the trial, papers had been discovered which proved that, while a member
of the National Assembly, he had been in communication with the Court
respecting his Reports on the Woods and Forests. He was acquitted
{458}of all criminality by the Convention; but the fiercer Republicans
considered him as a tool of the fallen monarch; and this reproach
was long repeated in the journal of Marat, and in the speeches at the
Jacobin club. It was natural that a man like Bar\xE8re should, under such
circumstances, try to distinguish himself among the crowd of regicides
by peculiar ferocity. It was because he had been a royalist that he was
one of the foremost in shedding blood.

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

The policy of the Jacobins, in this situation, was to subject France
to an aristocracy infinitely worse than that aristocracy which had
emigrated with the Count of Artois--to an aristocracy not of birth, not
of wealth, not of education, but of mere locality. They would not hear
of privileged orders; but they wished to have a {459}privileged city.
That twenty-five millions of Frenchmen should be ruled by a hundred
thousand gentlemen and clergymen was insufferable; but that twenty-five
millions of Frenchmen should be ruled by a hundred thousand Parisians
was as it should be. The qualification of a member of the new oligarchy
was simply that he should live near the hall where the Convention met,
and should be able to squeeze himself daily into the gallery during
a debate, and now and then to attend with a pike for the purpose of
blockading the doors. It was quite agreeable to the maxims of the
Mountain that a score of draymen from Santerre\x92s brewery, or of devils
from Hebert\x92s planting house, should be permitted to drown the voices
of men commissioned to speak the sense of such cities as Marseilles,
Bordeaux, and Lyons; and that a rabble of half-naked porters from the
Faubourg St. Antoine should have power to annul decrees for which
the representatives of fifty or sixty departments had voted. It was
necessary to find some pretext for so odious and absurd a tyranny. Such
a pretext was found. To the old phrases of liberty and equality were
added the sonorous watchwords, unity and indivisibility. A new crime
was invented, and called by the name of federalism. The object of the
Girondists, it was asserted, was to break up the great nation into
little independent commonwealths, bound together only by a league like
that which connects the Swiss cantons or the United States of America.
The great obstacle in the way of this pernicious design was the
influence of Paris. To strengthen the influence of Paris ought therefore
to be the chief object of every patriot.

The accusation brought against the leaders of the Girondist party was a
mere calumny. They were undoubtedly desirous to prevent the capital
from domineering {460}over the republic, and would gladly have seen the
Convention removed for a time to some provincial town, or placed under
the protection of a trusty guard, which might have overawed the Parisian
mob; but there is not the slightest reason to suspect them of any
design against the unity of the state. Bar\xE8re, however, really was a
federalist, and, we are inclined to believe, the only federalist in the
Convention. As far as a man so unstable and servile can be said to have
felt any preference for any form of government, he felt a preference for
federal government. He was born under the Pyrenees; he was a Gascon of
the Gascons, one of a people strongly distinguished by intellectual
and moral character, by manners, by modes of speech, by accent, and by
physiognomy, from the French of the Seine and of the Loire; and he had
many of the peculiarities of the race to which, he belonged. When he
first left his own province he had attained his thirty-fourth year, and
had acquired a high local reputation for eloquence and literature. He
had then visited Paris for the first time. He had found himself in a new
world. His feelings were those of a banished man. It is clear also that
he had been by no means without his share of the small disappointments
and humiliations so often experienced by men of letters who, elated
by provincial applause, venture to display their powers before the
fastidious critics of a capital. On the other hand, whenever he
revisited the mountains among which he had been born, he found
himself an object of general admiration. His dislike of Paris, and his
partiality to his native district, were therefore as strong and durable
as any sentiments of a mind like his could be. He long continued to
maintain that the ascendency of one great city was the bane of France;
{461}that the superiority of taste and intelligence which it was
the fashion to ascribe to the inhabitants of that city were wholly
imaginary; and that the nation would never enjoy a really good
government till the Alsatian people, the Breton people, the people
of Bearn, the people of Provence, should have each an independent
existence, and laws suited to its own tastes and habits. These
communities he proposed to unite by a tie similar to that which
binds together the grave Puritans of Connecticut and the dissolute
slave-drivers of New Orleans. To Paris he was unwilling to grant even
the rank which Washington holds in the United States. He thought it
desirable that the congress of the French federation should have no
fixed place of meeting, but should sit sometimes at Rouen, sometimes at
Bordeaux, sometimes at his own Toulouse.

Animated by such feelings, he was, till the close of May 1793, a
Girondist, if not an ultra-Girondist. He exclaimed against those impure
and bloodthirsty men who wished to make the public danger a pretext for
cruelty and rapine. \x93Peril,\x94 he said, \x93could be no excuse for crime. It
is when the wind blows hard, and the waves run high, that the anchor is
most needed; it is when a revolution is raging, that the great laws of
morality are most necessary to the safety of a state.\x94 Of Marat he spoke
with abhorrence and contempt; of the municipal authorities of Paris with
just severity. He loudly complained that there were Frenchmen who paid
to the Mountain that homage which was due to the Convention alone. When
the establishment of the Revolutionary Tribunal was first proposed, he
joined himself to Vergniaud and Buzot, who strongly objected to that
odious measure. \x93It cannot be,\x94 exclaimed Bar\xE8re, \x93that men really
attached to liberty will imitate {462}the most frightful excesses of
despotism!\x94 He proved to the Convention, after his fashion, out of
Sallust, that such arbitrary courts may indeed, for a time, be severe
only on real criminals, but must inevitably degenerate into instruments
of private cupidity and revenge. When, on the tenth of March, the worst
part, of the population of Paris made the first unsuccessful attempt to
destroy the Girondists, Bar\xE8re eagerly called for vigorous measures of
repression and punishment. On the second of April, another attempt of
the Jacobins of Paris to usurp supreme dominion over the republic was
brought to the knowledge of the Convention; and again Bar\xE8re spoke with
warmth against the new tyranny which afflicted France, and declared that
the people of the departments would never crouch beneath the tyranny of
one ambitious city. He even proposed a resolution to the effect that the
Convention would exert against the demagogues of the capital the same
energy which had been exerted against the tyrant Louis. We are assured
that, in private as in public, he at this time uniformly spoke with
strong aversion of the Mountain.

His apparent zeal for the cause of humanity and order had its reward.
Early in April came the tidings of Dumourier\x92s defection. This was a
heavy blow to the Girondists. Dumourier was their general. His victories
had thrown a lustre on the whole party; his army, it had been hoped,
would, in the worst event, protect the deputies of the nation against
the ragged pikemen of the garrets of Paris. He was now a deserter and
an exile; and those who had lately placed their chief reliance on
his support were compelled to join with their deadliest enemies in
execrating his treason. At this perilous conjuncture, it was resolved
to {463}appoint a Committee of Publie Safety, and to arm that committee
with powers, small indeed when compared with those which it afterwards
drew to itself, but still great and formidable. The moderate party,
regarding Bar\xE8re as a representative of their feelings and opinions,
elected him a member. In his new situation he soon began to make himself
useful. He brought to the deliberations of the Committee, not indeed the
knowledge or the ability of a great statesman, but a tongue and a pen
which, if others would only supply ideas, never paused for want of
words. His mind was a mere organ of communication between other minds.
It originated nothing; it retained nothing: but it transmitted every
thing. The post assigned to him by his colleagues was not really of the
highest importance; but it was prominent, and drew the attention of all
Europe. When a great measure was to be brought forward, when an
account was to be rendered of an important event, he was generally
the mouthpiece of the administration. He was therefore not unnaturally
considered, by persons who lived at a distance from the seat of
government, and above all by foreigners who, while the war raged, knew
France only from journals, as the head of that administration of which,
in truth, he was only the secretary and the spokesman. The author of
the History of Europe, in our own Annual Registers, appears to have been
completely under this delusion.

The conflict between the hostile parties was meanwhile fast approaching
to a crisis. The temper of Paris grew daily fiercer and fiercer.
Delegates appointed by thirty-five of the forty-eight wards of the city
appeared at the bar of the Convention, and demanded that Vergniaud,
Brissot, Guadet, Gensonn\xE9, Barbaroux, Buzot, P\xE9tion, Louvet, and many
other deputies, should {464}be expelled. This demand was disapproved
by at least three-fourths of the Assembly, and, when known in the
departments, called forth a general cry of indignation. Bordeaux
declared that it would stand by its representatives, and would, if
necessary, defend them by the sword against the tyranny of Paris. Lyons
and Marseilles were animated by a similar spirit. These manifestations
of public opinion gave courage to the majority of the Convention. Thanks
were voted to the people of Bordeaux for their patriotic declaration;
and a commission consisting of twelve members was appointed for the
purpose of investigating the conduct of the municipal authorities of
Paris, and was empowered to place under arrest such persons as should
appear to have been concerned in any plot against the authority of the
Convention. This measure was adopted on the motion of Bar\xE8re.

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

During the contest Bar\xE8re had been tossed backwards and forwards between
the two raging factions. His feelings, languid and unsteady as they
always were, drew him to the Girondists; but he was awed by the vigour
and determination of the Mountain. At one moment he held high and firm
language, complained that the Convention was not free, and protested
against the validity of any vote passed under coercion. At {465}another
moment he proposed to conciliate the Parisians by abolishing that
commission of twelve which he had himself proposed only a few days
before; and himself drew up a paper condemning the very measures which
had been adopted at his own instance, and eulogising the public spirit
of the insurgents. To do him justice, it was not without some symptoms
of shame that he read this document from the tribune, where he had so
often expressed very different sentiments. It is said that, at some
passages, he was even seen to blush. It may have been so; he was still
in his novitiate of infamy.

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

This was the great crisis of his life. Hitherto he had done nothing
inexpiable, nothing which marked him out as a much worse man than most
of his colleagues in the Convention. His voice had generally been on
the side of moderate measures. Had he bravely cast in his lot with the
Girondists, and suffered with them, he would, like them, have had a not
dishonourable place in history. Had he, like the great body of deputies
who meant well, but who had not the courage to expose themselves
to martyrdom, crouched quietly under the dominion of the triumphant
minority, and suffered every motion of Robespierre and Billaud to pass
unopposed, he would have incurred no peculiar ignominy. {466}But it is
probable that this course was not open to him. He had been too prominent
among the adversaries of the Mountain to be admitted to quarter without
making some atonement. It was necessary that, if he hoped to find pardon
from his new lords, he should not be merely a silent and passive
slave. What passed in private between him and them cannot be accurately
related; but the result was soon apparent. The Committee of Public
Safety was renewed. Several of the fiercest of the dominant faction,
Couthon for example, and St. Just, were substituted for more moderate
politicians; but Bar\xE8re was suffered to retain his seat at the Board.

The indulgence with which he was treated excited the murmurs of some
stern and ardent zealots. Marat, in the very last words that he wrote,
words not published till the dagger of Charlotte Corday had avenged
France and mankind, complained that a man who had no principles, who was
always on the side of the strongest, who had been a royalist, and who
was ready, in case of a turn of fortune, to be a royalist again, should
be entrusted with an important share in the administration. (1) But the
chiefs of the Mountain judged more correctly. They knew indeed, as well
as Marat, that Bar\xE8re was a man utterly without faith or steadiness;
that, if he could be said to have any political leaning, his leaning was
not towards them; that he felt for the Girondist party that faint and
wavering sort of preference of which alone his nature was susceptible;
and that, if he had been at liberty to make his choice, he would rather
have murdered Robespierre and Danton than Vergniaud and Gensonn\xE9.

     (1) See the _Publiciste_ of the 14th July, 1793.

Marat was stabbed on the evening of the 13th. {467}But they justly
appreciated that levity which made him incapable alike of earnest love
and of earnest hatred, and that meanness which made it necessary to him
to have a master. In truth, what the planters of Carolina and Louisiana
say of black men with flat noses and woolly hair was strictly true of
Bar\xE8re. The curse of Canaan was upon him. He was born a slave. Baseness
was an instinct in him. The impulse which drove him from a party in
adversity to a party in prosperity was as irresistible as that which
drives the cuckoo and the swallow towards the sun when the dark and
cold months are approaching. The law which doomed him to be the
humble attendant of stronger spirits resembled the law which binds the
pilot-fish to the shark. \x93Ken ye,\x94 said a shrewd Scotch lord, who was
asked his opinion of James the First, \x93Ken ye a John Ape? If I have
Jacko by the collar, I can make him bite you; but if you have Jacko, you
can make him bite me.\x94 Just such a creature was Bar\xE8re. In the hands of
the Girondists he would have been eager to proscribe the Jacobins;
he was just as ready, in the gripe of the Jacobins, to proscribe the
Girondists. On the fidelity of such a man the heads of the Mountain
could not, of course, reckon; but they valued their conquest as the very
easy and not very delicate lover in Congreve\x92s lively song valued the
conquest of a prostitute of a different kind. Bar\xE8re was, like Chloe,
false and common; but he was, like Chloe, constant while possessed;
and they asked no more. They needed a service which he was perfectly
competent to perform. Destitute as he was of all the talents both of an
active and of a speculative statesman, he could with great facility draw
up a report, or make a speech on any subject and on any side. If other
{468}people would furnish facts and thoughts, he could always furnish
phrases; and this talent was absolutely at the command of his owners for
the time being. Nor had he excited any angry passion among those to whom
he had hitherto been opposed. They felt no more hatred to him than they
felt to the horses which dragged the cannon of the Duke of Brunswick
and of the Prince of Saxe-Coburg. The horses had only done according to
their kind, and would, if they fell into the hands of the French, drag
with equal vigour and equal docility the guns of the republic, and
therefore ought not merely to be spared, but to be well fed and curried.
So was it with Bar\xE8re. He was of a nature so low, that it might be
doubted whether he could properly be an object of the hostility of
reasonable beings. He had not been an enemy; he was not now a friend.
But he had been an annoyance; and he would now be a help.

But, though the heads of the Mountain pardoned this man, and admitted
him into partnership with themselves, it was not without exacting
pledges such as made it impossible for him, false and fickle as he was,
ever again to find admission into the ranks which he had deserted. That
was truly a terrible sacrament by which they admitted the apostate into
their communion. They demanded of him that he should himself take the
most prominent part in murdering his old friends. To refuse was as much
as his life was worth. But what is life worth when it is only one long
agony of remorse and shame? These, however, are feelings of which it
is idle to talk, when we are considering the conduct of such a man
as Bar\xE9re. He undertook the task, mounted the tribune, and told the
Convention that the time was come for taking the stern attitude of
justice, and {469}for shaking at all conspirators without distinction.
He then moved that Buzot, Barbaroux, P\xE9tion, and thirteen other deputies
should be placed out of the pale of the law, or, in other words,
beheaded without a trial; and that Vergniaud, Guadet, Gensonn\xE8, and six
others, should be impeached. The motion was carried without debate.

We have already seen with what effrontery Bar\xE8re has denied, in these
Memoirs, that he took any part against the Girondists. This denial, we
think, was the only thing wanting to make his infamy complete. The most
impudent of all lies was a fit companion for the foulest of all murders.

Bar\xE8re, however, had not yet earned his pardon. The Jacobin party
contained one gang which, even in that party was pre-eminent in every
mean and every savage vice, a gang so low-minded and so inhuman
that, compared with them, Robespierre might be called magnanimous and
merciful. Of these wretches, H\xE9bert was perhaps the best representative.
His favourite amusement was to torment and insult the miserable remains
of that great family which, having ruled France during eight hundred
years, had now become an object of pity to the humblest artisan or
peasant. The influence of this man, and of men like him, induced the
Committee of Public Safety to determine that Marie Antoinette should be
sent to the scaffold. Bar\xE8re was again summoned to his duty. Only four
days after he had proposed the decrees against the Girondist deputies
he again mounted the tribune, in order to move that the Queen should be
brought before the Revolutionary Tribunal. He was improving fast in the
society of his new allies. When he asked for the heads of Vergniaud and
P\xE9tion he had spoken like a man who had some {470}slight sense of his
own guilt and d\xE9gradation: He had said little; and that little had not
been violent. The office of expatiating on the guilt of his old friends
he had left to Saint Just. Very different was Bar\xE8re\x92s second appearance
in the character of an accuser. He now cried out for blood in the eager
tones of the true and burning thirst, and raved against the Austrian
woman with the virulence natural to a coward who finds himself at
liberty to outrage that which he has feared and envied. We have already
exposed the shameless mendacity with which, in these Memoirs, he
attempts to throw the blame of his own guilt on the guiltless.

On the day on which the fallen Queen was dragged, already more than half
dead, to her doom, Bar\xE8re regaled Robespierre and some other Jacobins
at a tavern. Robespierre\x92s acceptance of the invitation caused some
surprise to those who knew how long and how bitterly it was his nature
to hate. \x93Robespierre of the party!\x94 muttered Saint Just. \x93Bar\xE8re is
the only man whom Robespierre has forgiven.\x94 We have an account of
this singular repast from one of the guests. Robespierre condemned the
senseless brutality with which Hebert had conducted the proceedings
against the Austrian woman, and, in talking on that subject, became
so much excited that he broke his plate in the violence of his
gesticulation. Bar\xE8re exclaimed that the guillotine had cut a diplomatic
knot which it might have been difficult to untie. In the intervals
between the Beaune and the Champagne, between the ragout of thrushes
and the partridge with truffles, he fervently preached his new political
creed. \x93The vessel of the revolution,\x94 he said, \x93can float into
port only on waves of blood. We must begin with the members of the
{471}National Assembly and of the Legislative Assembly. That rubbish
must be swept away.\x94

As he talked at table he talked in the Convention. His peculiar style
of oratory was now formed. It was not altogether without ingenuity and
liveliness. But in any other age or country it would have been thought
unfit for the deliberations of a grave assembly and still more unfit for
state papers. It might, per haps, succeed at a meeting of a Protestant
Association in Exeter Hall, at a Repeal dinner in Ireland, after men
had well drunk, or in an American oration on the Fourth of July. No
legislative body would now endure it. But in France, during the reign
of the Convention, the old laws of composition were held in as much
contempt as the old government or the old creed. Correct and noble
diction belonged, like the etiquette of Versailles and the solemnities
of Notre Dame, to an age which had passed away. Just as a swarm of
ephemeral constitutions, democratic, directorial, and consular,
sprang from the decay of the ancient monarchy; just as a swarm of new
superstitions, the worship of the Goddess of Reason, and the fooleries
of the Theo-philanthropists, sprang from the decay of the ancient
Church; even so out of the decay of the ancient French eloquence sprang
new fashions of eloquence, for the understanding of which new grammars
and dictionaries were necessary. The same innovating spirit which
altered the common phrases of salutation, which turned hundreds of Johns
and Peters into Se\xE6volas and Aristogitons, and which expelled Sunday and
Monday, January and February, Lady-day and Christmas, from the calendar,
in order to substitute Decadi and Primidi, Nivose and Pluviose, Feasts
of Opinion and Feasts of the Supreme Being, changed all the forms
{472}of official correspondence. For the calm, guarded, and sternly
courteous language which governments had long been accustomed to employ,
were substituted puns, interjections, Ossianic rants, rhetoric worthy
only of a schoolboy, scurrility worthy only of a fishwife. Of the
phraseology which was now thought to be peculiarly well suited to a
report or a manifesto Bar\xE8re had a greater command than any man of his
time, and, during the short and sharp paroxysm of the revolutionary
delirium, passed for a great orator. When the fit was over, he was
considered as what he really was, a man of quick apprehension and fluent
elocution, with no originality, with little information, and with
a taste as bad as his heart. His Reports were popularly called
Carmagnoles. A few months ago we should have had some difficulty in
conveying to an English reader an exact notion of the state papers to
which this appellation was given. Fortunately a noble and distinguished
person, whom her Majesty\x92s Ministers have thought qualified to fill the
most important post in the empire, has made our task easy. Whoever has
read Lord Ellenborough\x92s proclamations is able to form a complete idea
of a Carmagnole.

The effect which Bar\xE8re\x92s discourses at one time produced is not to be
wholly attributed to the perversion of the national taste. The occasions
on which he rose were frequently such as would have secured to the worst
speaker a favourable hearing. When any military advantage had been
gained, he was generally deputed by the Committee of Public Safety to
announce the good news. The hall resounded with applause as he mounted
the tribune, holding the despatches in his hand. Deputies and strangers
listened with delight while he told them that victory was the {473}order
of the day; that the guineas of Pitt had been vainly lavished to hire
machines six feet high, carrying-guns; that the flight of the English
leopard deserved to be celebrated by Tyrt\xE6us; and that the saltpetre dug
out of the cellars of Paris had been turned into thunder, which would
crush the Titan brethren, George and Francis.

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

The proceedings lasted some days. Gensonn\xE8 and Brissot defended
themselves with great ability and presence of mind against the vile
H\xE9bert and Chaumette, who appeared as accusers. The eloquent voice of
Vergniaud was heard for the last time. He pleaded his own cause and that
of his friends, with such force of reason and elevation of sentiment
that a murmur of pity and admiration rose from the audience. Nay, the
court itself, not yet accustomed to riot in daily carnage, showed signs
of emotion. The sitting was adjourned; and a rumour went forth that
there would be an acquittal. The Jacobins met, breathing vengeance.
Robespierre undertook to be their organ. He rose on the following day
in the Convention, and proposed a {474}decree of such atrocity that even
among the acts of that year it can hardly be paralleled. By this decree
the tribunal was empowered to cut short the defence of the prisoners,
to pronounce the case clear, and to pass immediate judgment. One
deputy made a faint opposition. Bar\xE8re instantly sprang up to support
Robespierre--Bar\xE8re, the federalist; Bar\xE8re, the author of that
Commission of Twelve which was amoung the chief causes of the hatred
borne by Paris to the Girondists; Bar\xE8re, who in these Memoirs denies
that he ever took any part against the Girondists; Bar\xE8re, who has the
effrontery to declare that he greatly loved and esteemed Vergniaud. The
decree was passed; and the tribunal, without suffering the prisoners to
conclude what they had to say, pronounced them guilty.

The following day was the saddest in the sad history of the Revolution.
The sufferers were so innocent, so brave, so eloquent, so accomplished,
so young. Some of them were graceful and handsome youths of six or seven
and twenty. Vergniaud and Gensonn\xE8 were little more than thirty. They
had been only a few months engaged in public affairs. In a few months
the fame of their genius had filled Europe; and they were to die for
no crime but this, that they had wished to combine order, justice, and
mercy with freedom. Their great fault was want of courage. We mean want
of political courage--of that courage which is proof to clamour and
obloquy, and which meets great emergencies by daring and decisive
measures. Alas! they had but too good an opportunity of proving that
they did not want courage to endure with manly cheerfulness the worst
that could be inflicted by such tyrants as St. Just, and such slaves as
Bar\xE8re. {475}They were not the only victims of the noble cause. Madame
Roland followed them to the scaffold with a spirit as heroic as their
own. Her husband was in a safe hiding-place, but could not bear to
survive her. His body was found on the high road near Rouen. He had
fallen on his sword. Condorcet swallowed opium. At Bordeaux the steel
fell on the necks of the bold and quick-witted Guadet and of Barbaroux,
the chief of those enthusiasts from the Rhone whose valour, in the great
crisis of the tenth of August, had turned back the tide of battle from
the Louvre to the Tuileries. In a held near the Garonne was found all
that the wolves had left of P\xE9tion, once honoured, greatly indeed
beyond his deserts, as the model of republican virtue. We are far from
regarding even the best of the Girondists with unmixed admiration; but
history owes to them this honourable testimony, that, being free to
choose whether they would be oppressors or victims, they deliberately
and firmly resolved rather to suffer injustice than to inflict it.

And now began that strange period known by the name of the Reign of
Terror. The Jacobins had prevailed. This was their hour, and the power
of darkness. The Convention was subjugated and reduced to profound
silence on the highest questions of state. The sovereignty passed to the
Committee of Public Safety. To the edicts framed by that Committee the
representative assembly did not venture to offer even the species of
opposition which the ancient parliament had frequently offered to the
mandates of the ancient kings. Six persons held the chief power in the
small cabinet which now domineered over France--Robespierre, St. Just,
Couthon, Collot, Billaud, and Bar\xE8re. {476}To some of these men, and of
those who adhered to them, it is due to say that the fanaticism which
had emancipated them from the restraints of justice and compassion had
emancipated them also from the dominion of vulgar cupidity and of vulgar
fear; that, while hardly knowing where to find an assignat of a few
francs to pay for a dinner, they expended with strict integrity the
immense revenue which they collected by every art of rapine; and that
they were ready, in support of their cause, to mount the scaffold with
as much indifference as they showed when they signed the death-warrants
of aristocrats and priests. But no great party can be composed of such
materials as these. It is the inevitable law that such zealots as we
have described shall collect around them a multitude of slaves,
of cowards, and of libertines, whose savage tempers and licentious
appetites, withheld only by the dread of law and magistracy from the
worst excesses, are called into full activity by the hope of impunity. A
faction which, from whatever motive, relaxes the great laws of morality,
is certain to be joined by the most immoral part of the community.
This has been repeatedly proved in religious wars. The war of the Holy
Sepulchre, the Albigensian war, the Huguenot war, the Thirty Years\x92 war,
all originated in pious zeal. That zeal inflamed the champions of
the church to such a point that they regarded all generosity to the
vanquished as a sinful weakness. The infidel, the heretic, was to be run
down like a mad dog. No outrage committed by the Catholic warrior on the
miscreant enemy could deserve punishment. As soon as it was known
that boundless license was thus given to barbarity and dissoluteness,
thousands of wretches who cared nothing for the sacred cause, but who
were eager to be exempted from the {477}police of peaceful cities, and
the discipline of well-governed camps, flocked to the standard of the
faith. The men who had set up that standard were sincere-, chaste,
regardless of lucre, and, perhaps, where only themselves were concerned,
not unforgiving: but round that standard were assembled such gangs of
rogues, ravishers, plunderers, and ferocious bravoes, as were scarcely
ever found under the flag of any state engaged in a mere temporal
quarrel. In a very similar way was the Jacobin party composed. There was
a small nucleus of enthusiasts; round that nucleus was gathered a vast
mass of ignoble depravity; and in all that mass there was nothing so
depraved and so ignoble as Bar\xE8re.

Then came those days when the most barbarous of all codes was
administered by the most barbarous of all tribunals; when no man could
greet his neighbours, or say his prayers, or dress his hair, without
danger of committing a capital crime; when spies lurked in every corner;
when the guillotine was long and hard at work every morning; when the
jails were filled as close as the hold of a slave-ship; when the
gutters ran foaming with blood into the Seine; when it was death to be
great-niece of a captain of the royal guards, or halfbrother of a doctor
of the Sorbonne, to express a doubt whether assignats would not fall, to
hint that the English had been victorious in the action of the first of
June, to have a copy of one of Burke\x92s pamphlets locked up in a desk,
to laugh at a Jacobin for taking the name of Cassius or Timoleon, or
to call the Fifth Sans-culottide by its old superstitious name of St.
Matthew\x92s Day. While the daily waggon-loads of victims were carried
to their doom through the streets of Paris, the Proconsuls whom the
sovereign Committee had sent forth to the departments revelled in an
extravagance of {478}cruelty unknown even in the capital. The knife of
the deadly machine rose and fell too slow for their work of slaughter.
Long rows of captives were mowed down with grape shot. Holes were made
in the bottom of crowded barges. Lyons was turned into a desert.
At Arras even the cruel mercy of a speedy death was denied to the
prisoners. All down the Loire, from Sauur to the sea, great flocks of
crows and kites feasted on naked corpses, twined together in hideous
embraces. No mercy was shown to sex or age. The number of young lads and
of girls of seventeen who were murdered by that execrable government is
to be reckoned by hundreds. Babies torn from the breast were tossed from
pike to pike along the Jacobin ranks. One champion of liberty had his
pockets well stuffed with ears. Another swaggered about with the finger
of a little child in his hat. A few months had sufficed to degrade
France below the level of New Zealand.

It is absurd to say that any amount of public danger can justify a
system like this, we do not say on Christian principles, we do not
say on the principles of a high morality, but even on principles
of Machiavellian policy. It is true that great emergencies call for
activity and vigilance; it is true that they justify severity which, in
ordinary times, would deserve the name of cruelty. But indiscriminate
severity can never, under any circumstances, be useful. It is plain
that the whole efficacy of punishment depends on the care with which the
guilty are distinguished. Punishment which strikes the guilty and the
innocent promiscuously operates merely like a pestilence or a great
convulsion of nature, and has no more tendency to prevent offences
than the cholera, or an earthquake like that of Lisbon, would have. The
energy for which the Jacobin administration {479}is praised was merely
the energy of the Malay who maddens himself with opium, draws his knife,
and runs a-muck through the streets, slashing right and left at friends
and foes. Such has never been the energy of truly great rulers; of
Elizabeth, for example, of Oliver, or of Frederick. They were not,
indeed, scrupulous. But, had they been less scrupulous than they were,
the strength and amplitude of their minds would have preserved them
from crimes such as those which the small men of the Committee of Public
Safety took for daring strokes of policy. The great Queen who so long
held her own against foreign and domestic enemies, against temporal and
spiritual arms; the great Protector who governed with more than regal
power, in despite both of royalists and republicans; the great King
who, with a beaten army and an exhausted treasury, defended his little
dominions to the last against the united efforts of Russia, Austria and
France; with what scorn would they have heard that it was impossible for
them to strike a salutary terror into the disaffected without sending
school-boys and school-girls to death by cart-loads and boat-loads!

The popular notion is, we believe, that the leading Terrorists were
wicked men, but, at the same time, great men. We can see nothing great
about them but their wickedness. That their policy was daringly original
is a vulgar error. Their policy is as old as the oldest accounts which
we have of human misgovernment. It seemed new in France and in the
eighteenth century only because it had been long disused, for excellent
reasons, by the enlightened part of mankind. But it has always
prevailed, and still prevails, in savage and half savage nations, and
is the chief cause which prevents such nations from making advances
{480}towards civilisation. Thousands of deys, of beys, of pachas, of
rajahs, of nabobs, have shown themselves as great masters of statecraft
as the members of the Committee of Public Safety. Djezzar, we imagine,
was superior to any of them in their new line. In fact, there is not
a petty tyrant in Asia or Africa so dull or so unlearned as not to be
fully qualified for the business of Jacobin police and Jacobin finance.
To behead people by scores without caring whether they are guilty or
innocent; to wring money out of the rich by the help of jailers and
executioners; to rob the public creditor, and to put him to death if
he remonstrates; to take loaves by force out of the bakers\x92 shops; to
clothe and mount soldiers by seizing on one man\x92s wool and linen, and on
another man\x92s horses and saddles, without compensation; is of all
modes of governing the simplest and most obvious. Of its morality we at
present say nothing. But surely it requires no capacity beyond that of
a barbarian or a child. By means like those which we have described, the
Committee of Public Safety undoubtedly succeeded, for a short time,
in enforcing profound submission, and in raising immense funds. But to
enforce submission by butchery, and to raise funds by spoliation, is not
statesmanship. The real statesman is he who, in trembled times, keeps
down the turbulent without unnecessarily harassing the well-affected;
and who, when great pecuniary resources are needed, provides for the
public exigencies without violating the security of property and drying
up the sources of future prosperity. Such a statesman, we are confident,
might, in 1793, have preserved the independence of France without
shedding a drop of innocent blood, without plundering a single
warehouse. Unhappily, the Republic was {481}subject to men who were mere
demagogues and in no sense statesmen. They could declaim at a club. They
could lead a rabble to mischief. But they had no skill to conduct the
affairs of an empire. The want of skill they supplied for a time by
atrocity and blind violence. For legislative ability, fiscal ability,
military ability, diplomatic ability, they had one substitute, the
guillotine. Indeed their exceeding ignorance, and the barrenness of
their invention, are the best excuse for their murders and robberies. We
really believe that they would not have cut so many throats, and picked
so many pockets, if they had known how to govern in any other way.

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

We have not time to tell how the leaders of the savage faction at length
began to avenge mankind on each other; hoe the craven H\xE9bert was dragged
wailing and trembling to his doom; how the nobler Danton, moved by a
late repentance, strove in vain to repair the evil which he had
wrought, and half redeemed the great {482}crime of September by manfully
encountering death in the cause of mercy.

Our business is with Bar\xE8re. In all those things he was not only
consenting, but eagerly and joyously forward. Not merely was he one
of the guilty administration. He was the man to whom was especially
assigned the office of proposing and defending outrages on justice and
humanity, and of furnishing to atrocious schemes an appropriate garb of
atrocious rodomontade. Bar\xE8re first proclaimed from the tribune of the
Convention that terror must be the order of the day. It was by Bar\xE8re
that the Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris was provided with the aid of a
public accuser worthy of such a court, the infamous Fouquier Tinville.
It was Bar\xE8re who, when one of the old members of the National Assembly
had been absolved by the Revolutionary Tribunal, gave orders that a
fresh jury should be summoned. \x93Acquit one of the National Assembly!\x94
 he cried. \x93The Tribunal is turning against the Revolution.\x94 It is
unnecessary to say that the prisoner\x92s head was soon in the basket. It
was Bar\xE8re who moved that the city of Lyons should be destroyed. \x93Let
the plough,\x94 he cried from the tribune, \x93pass over her. Let her name
cease to exist. The rebels are conquered; but are they all exterminated?
No weakness. No mercy. Let every one be smitten. Two words will suffice
to tell the whole. Lyons made war on liberty; Lyons is no more.\x94 When
Toulon was taken Bar\xE8re came forward to announce the event.

\x93The conquest,\x94 said the apostate Brissotine, \x93won by the Mountain over
the Brissotines must be commemorated by a mark set on the place where
Toulon once stood. The national thunder must crush the house of every
trader in the town.\x94 When Camille {483}Desmoulins, long distinguished
among the republicans by zeal and ability, dared to raise his eloquent
voice against the Reign of Terror, and to point out the close analogy
between the government which then oppressed France and the government of
the worst of the C\xE6sars, Bar\xE8re rose to complain of the weak compassion
which tried to revive the hopes of the aristocracy. \x93Whoever,\x94 he said,
\x93is nobly born is a man to be suspected. Every priest, every frequenter
of the old court, every lawyer, every banker, is a man to be suspected.
Every person who grumbles at the course which the Revolution takes is a
man to be suspected. There are whole castes already tried and condemned.
There are callings which carry their doom with them. There are relations
of blood which the law regards with an evil eye. Republicans of
France!\x94 yelled the renegade Girondist, the old enemy of the
Mountain--\x93Republicans of France! the Brissotines led you by gentle
means to slavery. The Mountain leads you by strong measures to freedom.
Oh! who can count the evils which a false compassion may produce?\x94
 When the friends of Danton mustered courage to express a wish that the
Convention would at least hear him in his own defence before it sent him
to certain death, the voice of Bar\xE8re was the loudest in opposition to
their prayer. When the crimes of Lebon, one of the worst, if not the
very worst, of the vicegerents of the Committee of Public Safety, had so
maddened the people of the Department of the North that they resorted to
the desperate expedient of imploring the protection of the Convention,
Bar\xE8re pleaded the cause of the accused tyrant, and threatened the
petitioners with the utmost vengeance of the government. \x93These
charges,\x94 he said, \x93have been suggested by wily aristocrats. The man who
{484}crushes the enemies of the people, though he may be hurried by his
zeal into some excesses, can never be a proper object of censure. The
proceedings of Lebon may have been a little harsh as to form.\x94 One of
the small irregularities thus gently censured was this: Lebon kept a
wretched man a quarter of an hour under the knife of the guillotine,
in order to torment him, by reading to him, before he was despatched,
a letter, the contents of which were supposed to be such as would
aggravate even the bitterness of death. \x93But what,\x94 proceeded Bar\xE8re,
\x93is not permitted to the hatred of a republican against aristocracy? How
many generous sentiments atone for what may perhaps seem acrimonious in
the prosecution of public enemies? Revolutionary measures are always
to be spoken of with respect. Liberty is a virgin whose veil it is not
lawful to lift.\x94

After this, it would be idle to dwell on facts which would indeed,
of themselves, suffice to render a name infamous, but which make no
perceptible addition to the great infamy of Bar\xE8re. It would be idle,
for example, to relate how he, a man of letters, a member of an Academy
of Inscriptions, was foremost in that war against learning, art, and
history which disgraced the Jacobin government; how he recommended a
general conflagration of libraries; how he proclaimed that all records
of events anterior to the Revolution ought to be destroyed; how he laid
waste the Abbey of St. Denis, pulled down monuments consecrated by the
veneration of ages, and scattered on the wind the dust of ancient kings.
He was, in truth, seldom so well employed as when he turned for a moment
from making war on the living to make war on the dead.

Equally idle would it be to dilate on his sensual {485}excesses. That in
Bar\xE8re, as in the whole breed of Neros, Caligulas, and Domitians whom
He resembled, voluptuousness was mingled with cruelty; that he withdrew,
twice in every decade, from the work of blood to the smiling gardens of
Clichy, and there forgot public cares in the madness of wine and in the
arms of courtesans, has often been repeated. M. Hippolyte Carnot does
not altogether deny the truth of these stories, but justly observes that
Bar\xE8re\x92s dissipation was not carried to such a point as to interfere
with his industry. Nothing can be more true. Bar\xE8re was by no means so
much addicted to debauchery as to neglect the work of murder. It was his
boast that, even during his hours of recreation, he cut out work for the
Revolutionary Tribunal. To those who expressed a fear that his exertions
would hurt his health, he gaily answered that he was less busy than they
thought. \x93The guillotine,\x94 He said, \x93does all; the guillotine governs.\x94
 For ourselves, we are much more disposed to look indulgently on
the pleasures which he allowed to himself than on the pain which he
inflicted on his neighbours.

               \x93Atque utinam his potius nugis tota ilia dedisset

               Tempore, s\xE6viti\xE6, clarus quibus abstulit urbi

               Illustresque animas, impune ac vindice nullo.\x94

An immoderate appetite for sensual gratifications is undoubtedly a
blemish on the fame of Henry the Fourth, of Lord Somers, of Mr. Fox. But
the vices of honest men are the virtues of Bar\xE8re.

And now Bar\xE8re had become a really cruel man. It was from mere
pusillanimity that he had perpetrated nis first great crimes. But the
whole history of our race proves that the taste for the misery of
others is a taste which minds not naturally ferocious may too easily
{486}acquire, and which, when once acquired, is as strong as any of the
propensities with which we are born. A very few months had sufficed to
bring this man into a state of mind in which images of despair, wailing,
and death had an exhilarating effect on him, and inspired him as wine
and love inspire men of free and joyous natures. The cart creaking
under its daily freight of victims, ancient men and lads, and fair young
girls, the binding of the hands, the thrusting of the head out of the
little national sash-window, the crash of the axe, the pool of blood
beneath the scaffold, the heads rolling by scores in the panier--these
things were to him what Lalage and a cask of Falernian were to Horace,
what Rosette and a bottle of iced champagne are to De B\xE9ranger. As soon
as he began to speak of slaughter his heart seemed to be enlarged,
and his fancy to become unusually fertile of conceits and gasconades.
Robespierre, St. Just, and Billaud, whose barbarity was the effect of
earnest and gloomy hatred, were, in his view, men who made a toil of a
pleasure. Cruelty was no such melancholy business, to be gone about
with an austere brow and a whining tone; it was a recreation, fitly
accompanied by singing and laughing. In truth, Robespierre and Bar\xE8re
might be well compared to the two renowned hangmen of Louis the
Eleventh. They were alike insensible of pity, alike bent on havock. But,
while they murdered, one of them frowned and canted, the other grinned
and joked. For our own part, we prefer _Jean qui pleure_ to _Jean qui

In the midst of the funeral gloom which overhung Paris, a gaiety
stranger and more ghastly than the horrors of the prison and the
scaffold, distinguished the dwelling of Bar\xE8re. Every morning a crowd of
suitors assembled to implore his protection. He came forth {487}in his
rich dressing-gown, went round the antechamber, dispensed smiles and
promises among the obsequious crowd, addressed himself with peculiar
animation to every handsome woman who appeared in the circle and
complimented her in the florid style of Gascony on the bloom of her
cheeks and the lustre of her eyes. When he had enjoyed the fear and
anxiety of his suppliants he dismissed them, and flung all their
memorials unread into the fire. This was the best way, he conceived,
to prevent arrears of business from accumulating. Here he was only an
imitator. Cardinal Dubois had been in the habit of clearing his table
of papers in the same way. Nor was this the only point in which we could
point out a resemblance between the worst statesman of the monarchy and
the worst statesman of the republic.

Of Bar\xE8re\x92s peculiar vein of pleasantry, a notion may be formed from
an anecdote which one of his intimate associates, a juror of the
revolutionary tribunal, has related. A courtesan who bore a conspicuous
part in the orgies of Clichy implored Bar\xE8re to use his power against
a head-dress which did not suit her style of face, and which a rival
beauty was trying to bring into fashion. One of the magistrates of the
capital was summoned, and received the necessary orders. Aristocracy,
Bar\xE8re said, was again rearing its front. These new wigs were
counter-revolutionary. He had reason to know that they were made out of
the long fair hair of handsome aristocrats who had died by the national
chopper. Every lady who adorned herself with the relics of criminals
might justly be suspected of incivism. This ridiculous lie imposed on
the authorities of Paris. Female citizens were solemnly warned against
the obnoxious ringlets, and were left to choose {488}between their
head-dresses and their heads. Bar\xE8re\x92s delight at the success of this
facetious fiction was quite extravagant: he could not tell the story
without going: into such convulsions of laughter as made his hearers
hope that he was about to choke. There was something peculiarly tickling
and exhilarating to his mind in this grotesque combination of the
frivolous with the horrible, of false locks and curling-irons with
spouting arteries and reeking hatchets.

But, though Bar\xE8re succeeded in earning the honourable nicknames of the
Witling of Terror, and the Anacreon of the guillotine, there was one
place where it was long; remembered to his disadvantage that he had, for
a time, talked the language of humanity and moderation. That place was
the Jacobin Club. Even after he had borne the chief part in the massacre
of the Girondists, in the murder of the Queen, in the destruction of
Lyons, he durst not show himself within that sacred precinct. At one
meeting of the society a member complained that the committee to which
the supreme direction of affairs was entrusted, after all the changes
which had been made, still contained one man who was not trustworthy.
Robespierre, whose influence over the Jacobins was boundless, undertook
the defence of his colleague, owned there was some ground for what
had been said, but spoke highly of Bar\xE8re\x92s industry and aptitude for
business. This seasonable interposition silenced the accuser; but it was
long before the neophyte could venture to appear at the club.

At length a masterpiece of wickedness, unique, we think, even among
Bar\xE8re\x92s great achievements, obtained his full pardon even from that
rigid conclave. The insupportable tyranny of the Committee of Public
Safety had at length brought the minds of men, and {489}even of women,
into a fierce and hard temper, which defied or welcomed death. The life
which might be any morning taken away, in consequence of the whisper of
a private enemy, seemed of little value. It was something to die after
smiting one of the oppressors; it was something to bequeath to
the surviving tyrants a terror not inferior to that which they had
themselves inspired. Human nature, hunted and worried to the utmost,
now turned furiously to bay. Fouquier Tinville was afraid to walk
the streets; a pistol was snapped at Collot D\x92Herbois; a young girl,
animated apparently by the spirit of Charlotte Corday, attempted
to obtain an interview with Robespierre. Suspicions arose; she was
searched; and two knives were found about her. She was questioned, and
spoke of the Jacobin domination with resolute scorn and aversion. It is
unnecessary to say that she was sent to the guillotine. Bar\xE8re declared
from the tribune that the cause of these attempts was evident. Pitt and
his guineas had done the whole.

The English Government had organised a vast system of murder, had armed
the hand of Charlotte Corday, and had now, by similar means, attacked
two of the most eminent friends of liberty in France. It is needless to
say that these imputations were, not only false, but destitute of all
show of truth. Nay, they were demonstrably absurd: for the assassins
to whom Barcre referred rushed on certain death, a sure proof that they
were not hirelings. The whole wealth of England would not have bribed
any sane person to do what Charlotte Corday did. But, when we consider
her as an enthusiast, her conduct is perfectly natural. Even those
French writers who are childish enough to believe that the English
Government contrived the infernal machine and strangled the Emperor Paul
have fully {490}acquitted Mr. Pitt of all share in the death of Marat
and in the attempt on Robespierre. Yet on calumnies so futile as
those which we have mentioned did Bar\xE8re ground a motion at which all
Christendom stood aghast. He proposed a decree that no quarter should
be given to any English or Hanoverian soldier. (1) His Carmagnole was
worthy of the proposition with which it concluded. \x93That one Englishman
should be spared, that for the slaves of George, for the human machines
of York, the vocabulary of our armies should contain such a word as
generosity, this is what the National Convention cannot endure. War
to the death against every English soldier. If last year, at Dunkirk,
quarter had been refused to them when they asked it on their knees,
if our troops had exterminated them all, instead of suffering them to
infest our fortresses by their presence, the English Government would
not have renewed its attack on our frontiers this year. It is only the
dead man who never comes back. What is this moral pestilence which has
introduced into our armies false ideas of humanity? That the English
were to be treated with indulgence was the philanthropic notion of the
Brissotines; it was the patriotic practice of Dumourier. But

     (1) Hippolyte does his best to excuse this decree. His
     abuse of England is merely laughable. England has managed to
     deal with enemies of a very different sort from either
     himself or his hero. One disgraceful blunder, however, we
     think it right to notice.

M. Hippolyte Carnot asserts that a motion similar to that of Bar\xE8re
was made in the English Parliament by the late Lord Fitzwilliam. This
assertion is false. We defy M. Hippolyte Carnot to state the date
and terms of the motion of which he speaks. We do not accuse him of
intentional misrepresentation; but we confidently accuse him of extreme
ignorance and temerity. Our readers will be amused to learn on what
authority he has ventured to publish such a fable. He quotes, not the
journals of the Lords, not the Parliamentary Debates, but a ranting
message of the Executive Directory to the Five Hundred, a message, too,
the whole meaning ol which he has utterly misunderstood. {491}humanity
consists in exterminating our enemies. No mercy to the execrable
Englishman. Such are the sentiments of the true Frenchman; for he
knows that he belongs to a nation revolutionary as nature, powerful
as freedom, ardent as the saltpetre which she has just torn from
the entrails of the earth. Soldiers of liberty, when victory places
Englishmen at your mercy, strike! None of them must return to the
servile soil of Great Britain; none must pollute the free soil of

The Convention, thoroughly tamed and silenced, acquiesced in Bar\xE8re\x92s
motion without debate. And now at last the doors of the Jacobin Club
were thrown open to the disciple who had surpassed his masters. He was
admitted a member by acclamation, and was soon selected to preside.

For a time he was not without hope that his decree would be carried
into full effect. Intelligence arrived from the seat of war of a sharp
contest between some French and English troops, in which the Republicans
had the advantage, and in which no prisoners had been made. Such
things happen occasionally in all wars. Bar\xE8re, however, attributed
the ferocity of this combat to his darling decree, and entertained the
Convention with another Carmagnole.

\x93The Republicans,\x94 he said, \x93saw a division in red uniform at a
distance. The red-coats are attacked with the bayonet. Not one of
them escapes the blows of the Republicans. All the red-coats have been
killed. No mercy, no indulgence, has been shown towards the villains.
Not an Englishman whom the Republicans could reach is now living. How
many prisoners should you guess that we have made? One single prisoner
is the result of the day.\x94

And now this bad man\x92s craving for blood had became {492}insatiable. The
more he quaffed, the more He thirsted. He had begun with the English;
but soon he came down with a proposition for new massacres. \x93All the
troops,\x94 he said, \x93of the coalesced tyrants in garrison at Coud\xE9,
Valenciennes, Le Quesnoy, and Landrecies, ought to be put to the sword
unless they surrender at discretion in twenty-four hours. The English,
of course, will be admitted to no capitulation whatever. With the
English we have no treaty but death. As to the rest, surrender at
discretion in twenty-four hours, or death, these are our conditions.
If the slaves resist, let them feel the edge of the sword.\x94 And then he
waxed facetious. \x93On these terms the Republic is willing to give them a
lesson in the art of war.\x94 At that jest, some hearers, worthy of such
a speaker, set up a laugh. Then he became serious again. \x93Let the enemy
perish,\x94 he cried; \x93I have already said it from this tribune. It is only
the dead man who never comes back. Kings will not conspire against us in
the grave. Armies will not fight against us when they are annihilated.
Let our war with them be a war of extermination. What pity is due to
slaves whom the Emperor leads to war under the cane; whom the King of
Prussia heats to the shambles with the flat of the sword; and whom the
Duke of York makes drunk with rum and gin?\x94 And at the rum and gin the
Mountain and the galleries laughed again.

If Bar\xE8re had been able to effect his purpose, it is difficult to
estimate the extent of the calamity which he would have brought on the
human race. No government, however averse to cruelty, could, in justice
to its own subjects, have given quarter to enemies who gave none.
Retaliation would have been, not merely justifiable, but a sacred duty.
It would have been {493}necessary for Howe and Nelson to make every
French sailor whom they took walk the plank. England has no peculiar
reason to dread the introduction of such a system. On the contrary, the
operation of Bar\xE8re\x92s new law of war would have been more unfavourable
to his countrymen than to ours; for we believe that, from the beginning
to the end of the war there never was a time at which the number of
French prisoners in England was not greater than the number of English
prisoners in France; and so, we apprehend, it will be in all wars while
England retains her maritime superiority. Had the murderous decree of
the Convention been in force from 1794 to 1815, we are satisfied that,
for every Englishman slain by the French, at least three Frenchmen would
have been put to the sword by the English. It is, therefore, not as
Englishmen, but as members of the great society of mankind, that we
speak with indignation and horror of the change which Bar\xE8re attempted
to introduce. The mere slaughter would have been the smallest part of
the evil. The butchering of a single unarmed man in cold blood, under an
act of the legislature, would have produced more evil than the carnage
of ten such fields as Albuera. Public law would have been subverted from
the foundations; national enmities would have been inflamed to a degree
of rage which happily it is not easy for us to conceive; cordial peace
would have been impossible. The moral character of the European nations
would have been rapidly and deeply corrupted; for in all countries those
men whose calling is to put their lives in jeopardy for the defence of
the public weal enjoy high consideration, and are considered as the best
arbitrators on points of honour and manly bearing. With the standard
of morality {494}established in the military profession the general
standard of morality must to a great extent sink or rise. It is,
therefore, a fortunate circumstance that, during a long course of years,
respect for the weak and clemency towards the vanquished have been
considered as qualities not less essential to the accomplished soldier
than personal courage. How long would this continue to be the case, if
the slaying of prisoners were a part of the daily duty of the warrior?
What man of kind and generous nature would, under such a system,
willingly bear arms? Who, that was compelled to bear arms, would long
continue kind and generous? And is it not certain that, if barbarity
towards the helpless became the characteristic of military men, the
taint must rapidly spread to civil and to domestic life, and must show
itself in all the dealings of the strong with the weak, of husbands with
wives, of employers with workmen, of creditors with debtors?

But, thank God, Bar\xE8re\x92s decree was a mere dead letter. It was to
be executed by men very different from those who, in the interior of
France, were the instruments of the Committee of Public Safety, who
prated at Jacobin Clubs, and ran to Fouquier Tinville with charges of
incivism against women whom they could not seduce, and bankers from whom
they could not extort money. The warriors who, under Hoche, had guarded
the walls of Dunkirk, and who, under Kl\xE9ber, had made good the defence
of the wood of Monceaux, shrank with horror from an office more
degrading than that of the hangman. \x93The Convention,\x94 said an officer to
his men, \x93has sent orders that all the English prisoners shall be shot.\x94

\x93We will not shoot them,\x94 answered a stout-hearted sergeant. \x93Send them
to the Convention. If the deputies take pleasure {495}in killing a
prisoner, they may kill him themselves, and eat him too, like savages
as they are.\x94 This was the sentiment of the whole army. Bonaparte, who
thoroughly understood war, who at Jaffa and elsewhere gave ample proof
that he was not unwilling to strain the laws of war to their utmost
rigour, and whose hatred of England amounted to a folly, always spoke of
Bar\xE8re\x92s decree with loathing, and boasted that the army had refused to
obey the Convention.

Such disobedience on the part of any other class of citizens would have
been instantly punished by wholesale massacre; but the Committee
of Public Safety was aware that the discipline which had tamed the
unwarlike population of the fields and cities might not answer in camps.
To fling people by scores out of a boat, and, when they catch hold of
it, to chop off their fingers with a hatchet, is undoubtedly a very
agreeable pastime for a thorough-bred Jacobin, when the sufferers are,
as at Nantes, old confessors, young girls, or women with child. But
such sport might prove a little dangerous if tried upon grim ranks of
grenadiers, marked with the scars of Hondschoote, and singed by the
smoke of Fleurus.

Bar\xE8re, however, found some consolation. If he could not succeed in
murdering the English and the Hanoverians, he was amply indemnified by
a new and vast slaughter of his own countrymen and countrywomen. If the
defence which has been set up for the members of the Committee of Public
Safety had been well founded, if it had been true that they governed
with extreme severity only because the republic was in extreme peril,
it is clear that the severity would have diminished as the peril
diminished. But the fact is, that those cruelties for which the public
danger is made {496}a plea became more and more enormous as the danger
became less and less, and reached the full height when there was no
longer any danger at all. In the autumn of 1794, there was undoubtedly
reason to apprehend that France might be unable to maintain the
struggle against the European coalition. The enemy was triumphant on the
frontiers. More than half the departments disowned the authority of the
Convention. But at that time eight or ten necks a day were thought an
ample allowance for the guillotine of the capital. In the summer of
1794, Bordeaux, Toulon, Caen, Lyons, Marseilles, had submitted to the
ascendency of Paris. The French arms were victorious under the Pyrenees
and on the Sambre. Brussels had fallen. Prussia had announced her
intention of withdrawing from the contest. The Republic, no longer
content with defending her own independence, was beginning to meditate
conquest beyond the Alps and the Rhine. She was now more formidable
to her neighbours than ever Louis the Fourteenth had been. And now the
Revolutionary Tribunal of Paris was not content with forty, fifty,
sixty heads in a morning. It was just after a series of victories, which
destroyed the whole force of the single argument which has been urged
in defence of the system of terror, that the Committee of Public Safety
resolved to infuse into that system an energy hitherto unknown. It was
proposed to reconstruct the Revolutionary Tribunal, and to collect in
the space of two pages the whole revolutionary jurisprudence. Lists of
twelve judges and fifty jurors were made out from among the fiercest
Jacobins. The substantive law was simply this, that whatever the
tribunal should think pernicious to the republic was a capital crime.
The law of evidence was simply this, crime. {497}that whatever satisfied
the jurors was sufficient proof. The law of procedure was of a piece
with every thing else. There was to be an advocate against the prisoner,
and no advocate for him. It was expressly declared that, if the jurors
were in any manner convinced of the guilt of the prisoner, they might
convict him without hearing a single witness. The only punishment which
the court could inflict was death.

Robespierre proposed this decree. When he had read it, a murmur rose
from the Convention. The fear which had long restrained the deputies
from opposing the Committee was overcome by a stronger fear. Every
man felt the knife at his throat. \x93The decree,\x94 said one, \x93is of grave
importance. I move that it be printed, and that the debate be adjourned.
If, such a measure were adopted without time for consideration, I would
blow my brains out at once.\x94 The motion for adjournment was seconded.
Then Bar\xE8re sprang up. \x93It is impossible,\x94 he said, \x93that there can
be any difference of opinion among us as to a law like this, a law so
favourable in all respects to patriots; a law which insures the speedy
punishment of conspirators. If there is to be an adjournment, I must
insist that it shall not be for more than three days.\x94 The opposition
was overawed; the decree was passed; and, during the six weeks which
followed, the havock was such as had never been known before.

And now the evil was beyond endurance. That timid majority which had
for a time supported the Girondists, and which had, after their
fall, contented itself with registering in silence the decrees of the
Committee of Public Safety, at length drew courage from despair. Leaders
of bold and firm character were not wanting, men such as Fouch\xE9 and
Tallien, who, having been {498}long conspicuous amoung the chiefs of the
Mountain, now found that their own lives or lives still dearer to them
than their own, were in extreme peril. Nor could it be longer kept
secret that there was a schism in the despotic, committee. On one
side were Robespierre, St. Just, and Couthon; on the other, Collot and
Billaud. Bar\xE8re leaned towards these last, but only leaned towards
them. As was ever his fashion when a great crisis was at hand, he
fawned alternately on both parties, struck alternately at both, and held
himself in readiness to chant the praises or to sign the death-warrant
of either. In any event his Carmagnole was ready. The tree of liberty,
the blood of traitors, the dagger of Brutus, the guineas of Perfidious
Albion, would do equally well for Billaud and for Robespierre.

The first, attack which was made on Robespierre was indirect. An old
woman named Catherine Th\xE9ot, half maniac, half impostor, was protected
by him, and exercised a strange influence over his mind; for he was
naturally prone to superstition, and, having abjured the faith in which
he had been brought up, was looking about for something to believe.
Bar\xE8re drew up a report against Catherine, which contained many
facetious conceits, and ended, as might be expected, with a motion
for sending her and some other wretched creatures of both sexes to
the Revolutionary Tribunal, or, in other words, to death. This report,
however, he did not dare to read to the Convention himself. Another
member, less timid, was induced to father the cruel buffoonery; and the
real author enjoyed in security the dismay and vexation of Robespierre.

Bar\xE8re now thought that he had done enough on one side, and that it was
time to make his peace with the other. On the seventh of Thermidor,
he pronounced {499}in the Convention a panegyric on Robespierre.
\x93That representative of the people,\x94 he said, \x93enjoys a reputation
for patriotism, earned by five years of exertion, and by unalterable
fidelity to the principles of independence and liberty.\x94 On the eighth
of Thermidor, it became clear that a decisive struggle was at hand.
Robespierre struck the first blow. He mounted the tribune and uttered a
long invective on his opponents. It was moved that his discourse
should be printed; and Bar\xE8re spoke for the printing. The sense of the
Convention soon appeared to be the other way; and Bar\xE8re apologised for
his former speech, and implored his colleagues to abstain from disputes
which could be agreeable only to Pitt and York. On the next day, the
ever-memorable ninth of Thermidor, came the real tug of war. Tallien,
bravely taking his life in his hand, led the onset. Billaud followed;
and then all that infinite hatred which had long been kept down by
terror burst forth and swept every barrier before it. When at length the
voice of Robespierre, drowned by the president\x92s bell, and by shouts of
\x93Down with the tyrant!\x94 had died away in hoarse gasping, Bar\xE8re rose. He
began with timid and doubtful phrases, watched the effect of every word
he uttered, and, when the feeling of the Assembly had been unequivocally
manifested, declared against Robespierre. But it was not till the people
ont of doors, and especially the gunners of Paris, had espoused the
cause of the Convention that Bar\xE8re felt quite at ease. Then he
sprang to the tribune, poured forth a Carmagnole about Pisistratus and
Catiline, and concluded by moving that the heads of Robespierre and
Robespierre\x92s accomplices should be cut off without a trial. The motion
was carried. On the following morning the vanquished members of the
Committee {500}of Public Safety and their principal adherents suffered
death. It was exactly one year since Bar\xE8re had commenced his career of
slaughter by moving the proscription of his old allies the Girondists.
We greatly doubt whether any human being has ever succeeded in packing
more wickedness into the space of three Hundred and sixty-five days.

The ninth of Thermidor is one of the great epochs in the history of
Europe. It is true that the three members of the Committee of Public
Safety who triumphed were by no means better men than the three who
fell. Indeed, we are inclined to think that of these six statesmen the
least bad were Robespierre and Saint Just, whose cruelty was the effect
of sincere fanaticism operating on narrow understandings and acrimonious
tempers. The worst of the six was, beyond all doubt, Barcre, who had
no faith in any part of the system which he upheld by persecution; who,
while he sent his fellow-creatures to death for being the third cousins
of royalists, had not in the least made up his mind that a republic
was better than a monarchy; who, while he slew his old friends for
federalism, was himself far more a federalist than any of them; who
had become a murderer merely for his safety, and who continued to be a
murderer merely for his pleasure.

The tendency of the vulgar is to embody every thing. Some individual is
selected, and often selected very injudiciously, as the representative
of every great movement of the public mind, of every great revolution in
human affairs; and on this individual are concentrated all the love and
all the hatred, all the admiration and all the contempt which he ought
rightfully to share with a whole party, a whole sect, a whole nation, a
whole generation. Perhaps no human being has suffered {501}so much from
this propensity of the multitude as Robespierre. He is regarded,
not merely as what he was, an envious, malevolent zealot, but as the
incarnation of Terror, as Jacobinism personified. The truth is, that
it was not by him that the system of terror was carried to the last
extreme. The most horrible days in the history of the revolutionary
tribunal of Paris were those which immediately preceded the ninth of
Thermidor. Robespierre had then ceased to attend the meetings of the
sovereign Committee: and the direction of affairs was really in the
hands of Billaud, of Collot, and of Bar\xE8re.

It had never occurred to those three tyrants that, in overthrowing
Robespierre, they were overthrowing that system of Terror to which they
were more attached than he had ever been. Their object was to go on
slaying even more mercilessly than before. But they had misunderstood
the nature of the great crisis which had at last arrived. The yoke
of the Committee way broken for ever. The Convention had regained
its liberty, had tried its strength, had vanquished and punished
its enemies. A great reaction had commenced. Twenty-four hours after
Robespierre had ceased to live, it was moved and carried, amidst loud
bursts of applause, that the sittings of the Revolutionary Tribunal
should be suspended. Billaud was not at that moment present. He entered
the hall soon after, learned with indignation what had passed, and moved
that the vote should be rescinded. But loud cries of \x93No, no!\x94 rose
from those benches which had lately paid mute obedience to his commands.
Bar\xE8re came forward on the same day, and adjured the Convention not to
relax the system of terror. \x93Beware, above all things,\x94 he cried, \x93of
that fatal moderation which talks of peace {502}and of clemency. Let
aristocracy know, that here she will find only enemies sternly bent on
vengeance, and judges who have no pity.\x94 But the day of the Carmagnoles
was over: the restraint of fear had been relaxed; and the hatred
with which the nation regarded the Jacobin dominion broke forth with
ungovernable violence. Not more strongly did the tide of public opinion
run against the old monarchy and aristocracy, at the time of the taking
of the Bastile, than it now ran against the tyranny of the Mountain.
From every dungeon the prisoners came forth, as they had gone in, by
hundreds. The decree which forbade the soldiers of the republic to give
quarter to the English was repealed by an unanimous vote, amidst loud
acclamations; nor, passed as it was, disobeyed as it was, and rescinded
as it was, can it be with justice considered as a blemish on the fame
of the French nation. The Jacobin Club was refractory. It was suppressed
without resistance. The surviving Girondist deputies, who had concealed
themselves from the vengeance of their enemies in caverns and garrets,
were readmitted to their seats in the Convention. No day passed without
some signal reparation of injustice; no street in Paris was without some
trace of the recent change. In the theatre, the bust of Marat was pulled
down from its pedestal and broken in pieces, amidst the applause of
the audience. His carcass was ejected from the Pantheon. The celebrated
picture of his death, which had hung in the hall of the Convention, was
removed. The savage inscriptions with which the walls of the city had
been covered disappeared; and, in place of death and terror, humanity,
the watchword of the new rulers, was everywhere to be seen. In the
mean time, the gay spirit of France recently subdued by oppression,
and {503}now elated by the joy of a great deliverance, wantoned in a
thousand forms. Art, taste, luxury, revived. Female beauty regained its
empire--an empire strengthened by the remembrance of all the tender
and all the sublime virtues which women, delicately bred and reputed
frivolous, had displayed during the evil days. Refined manners,
chivalrous sentiments, followed in the train of love. The dawn of the
Arctic summer day after the Arctic winter night, the great unsealing
of the waters, the awakening of animal and vegetable life, the sudden
softening of the air, the sudden blooming of the flowers, the sudden
bursting of old forests into verdure, is but a feeble type of that
happiest and most genial of revolutions, the revolution of the ninth of

But, in the midst of the revival of all kind and generous sentiments,
there was one portion of the community against which mercy itself seemed
to cry out for vengeance. The chiefs of the late government and their
tools were now never named but as the men of blood, the drinkers of
blood, the cannibals. In some parts of France, where the creatures of
the Mountain had acted with peculiar barbarity, the populace took the
law into its own hands and meted out justice to the Jacobins with the
true Jacobin measure; but at Paris the punishments were inflicted with
order and decency, and were few when compared with the number, and
lenient when compared with the enormity, of the crimes. Soon after the
ninth of Thermidor, two of the vilest of mankind, Fouquier Tinville,
whom Bar\xE8re had placed at the Revolutionary Tribunal, and Lebon, whom
Bar\xE8re had defended in the Convention, were placed under arrest. A third
miscreant soon shared their fate, Carrier, the tyrant of Nantes. The
trials of these men brought to light horrors surpassing {504}any thing
that Suetonius and Lampridius have related of the worst C\xE6sars. But it
was impossible to punish subordinate agents, who, had as they were, had
only acted in accordance with the spirit of the government which they
served, and, at the same time, to grant impunity to the heads of the
wicked administration. A cay was raised, both within and without the
Convention, for justice on Collot, Billaud, and Bar\xE8re.

Collot and Billaud, with all their vices, appear to have been men of
resolute natures. They made no submission; but opposed to the hatred of
mankind, at first a force resistance, and afterwards a dogged and sullen
endurance. Bar\xE8re, on the other hand, as soon as he began to understand
the real nature of the revolution of Thermidor, attempted to abandon the
Mountain, and to obtain admission among his old friends of the moderate
party. He declared everywhere that he had never been in favour of severe
measures; that he was a Girondist; that he had always condemned and
lamented the manner in which the Brissotine deputies had been treated.
He now preached mercy from that tribune from which he had recently
preached extermination. \x93The time,\x94 he said, \x93has come at which our
clemency may be indulged without danger. We may now safely consider
temporary imprisonment as an adequate punishment for political
misdemeanours.\x94 It was only a fortnight since, from the same place,
he had declaimed against the moderation which dared even to talk of
clemency; it was only a fortnight since he had ceased to send men and
women to the guillotine of Paris, at the rate of three hundred a week.
He now wished to make his peace with the moderate party at the expense
of the Terrorists, as he had, a year before, made his peace with the
Terrorists, at the expense of {505}the moderate party. But he was
disappointed. He had left himself no retreat. His face, his voice, his
rants, his jokes, had become hateful to the Convention. When he spoke
he was interrupted by murmurs. Bitter reflections were daily cast on his
cowardice and perfidy. On one occasion Carnot rose to give an account of
a victory, and so far forgot the gravity of his character as to indulge
in the sort of oratory which Bar\xE8re had affected on similar occasions.
He was interrupted by cries of \x93No more Carmagnoles!\x94 \x93No more of
Bar\xE8re\x92s puns!\x94

At length, five months after the revolution of Thermidor, the Convention
resolved that a committee of twenty-one members should be appointed to
examine into the conduct of Billaud, Collot, and Bar\xE8re. In some weeks
the report was made. From that report we learn that a paper had been
discovered, signed by Bar\xE8re, and containing a proposition for adding
the last improvement to the system of terror. France was to be divided
into circuits; itinerant revolutionary tribunals, composed of trusty
Jacobins, were to move from department to department; and the guillotine
was to travel in their train.

Bar\xE8re, in his defence, insisted that no speech or motion which he had
made in the Convention could, without a violation of the freedom of
debate, be treated as a crime. He was asked how he could resort to such
a mode of defence, after putting to death so many deputies on account of
opinions expressed in the Convention. He had nothing to say, but that
it was much to be regretted that the sound principle had ever been

He arrogated to himself a large share of the merit of the revolution
in Thermidor. The men who had {506}risked their lives to effect that
revolution, and who knew that, if they had failed, Bar\xE8re would, in all
probability, have moved the decree for beheading them without a trial,
and have drawn up a proclamation announcing their guilt and their
punishment to all France, were by no means disposed to acquiesce in his
claims. He was reminded that, only forty-eight hours before the
decisive conflict, he had, in the tribune, been profuse of adulation to
Robespierre. His answer to this reproach is worthy of himself. \x93It
was necessary,\x94 he said, \x93to dissemble.\x94 It was necessary to flatter
Robespierre\x92s vanity, and, by panegyric, to impel him to the attack.
This was the motive which induced me to load him with those praises of
which you complain. Who ever blamed Brutus for dissembling with Tarquin?

The accused triumvirs had only one chance of escaping punishment. There
was severe distress at that moment among the working people of the
capital. This distress the Jacobins attributed to the reaction of
Thermidor, to the lenity with which the aristocrats were now treated,
and to the measures which had been adopted against the chiefs of the
late administration. Nothing is too absurd to be believed by a populace
which has not breakfasted, and which does not know how it is to dine.
The rabble of the Faubourg St. Antoine rose, menaced the deputies, and
demanded with loud cries the liberation of the persecuted patriots. But
the Convention was no longer such as it had been, when similar means
were employed too successfully against the Girondists. Its spirit
was roused. Its strength had been proved. Military means were at its
command. The tumult was suppressed: and it was decreed that same evening
that Collot, Billaud, {507}and Bar\xE8re should instantly he removed to a
distant place of confinement.

The next day the order of the Convention was executed. The account which
Bar\xE8re has given of his journey is the most interesting and the most
trustworthy part of these Memoirs. There is no witness so infamous that
a court of justice will not take his word against himself; and even
Bar\xE8re may be believed when he tells us how much he was hated and

The carriage in which he was to travel passed, surrounded by armed
men, along the street of St. Honor\xE9. A crowd soon gathered round it and
increased every moment. On the long flight of steps before the church of
St. Roch stood rows of eager spectators. It was with difficulty that
the coach could make its way through those who hung upon it, hooting,
cursing, and striving to burst the doors. Bar\xE8re thought his life in
danger, and was conducted at his own request to a public office, where
he hoped that he might find shelter till the crowd should disperse.
In the mean time, another discussion on his fate took place in the
Convention. It was proposed to deal with him as he had dealt with better
men, to put him out of the pale of the law, and to deliver him at once
without any trial to the headsman. But the humanity which, since
the ninth of Thermidor, had generally directed the public counsels,
restrained the deputies from taking this course.

It was now night; and the streets gradually became quiet. The clock
struck twelve; and Bar\xE8re, under a strong guard, again set forth on his
journey. He was conducted over the river to the place where the Orleans
road branches off from the southern boulevard. Two travelling carriages
stood there. In one of them was {508}Billaud, attended by two officers:
in the other two more officers were waiting to receive Bar\xE8re. Collot
was already on the road.

At Orleans, a city which had suffered cruelly from the Jacobin tyranny,
the three deputies were surrounded by a mob bent on tearing them to
pieces. All the national guards of the neighbourhood were assembled;
and this force was not greater than the emergency required; for the
multitude pursued the carriages far on the road to Blois.

At Amboise the prisoners learned that Tours was ready to receive them.
The stately bridge was occupied by a throng of people, who swore that
the men under whose rule the Loire had been choked with corpses
should have full personal experience of the nature of a _noyade_. In
consequence of this news, the officers who had charge of the criminals
made such arrangements that the carriages reached Tours at two in
the morning, and drove straight to the post-house. Fresh horses were
instantly ordered; and the travellers started again at full gallop. They
had in truth not a moment to lose; for the alarm had been given; lights
were seen in motion; and the yells of a great multitude, disappointed of
its revenge, mingled with the sound of the departing wheels.

At Poitiers there was another narrow escape. As the prisoners quitted
the post-house, they saw the whole population pouring in fury down the
steep declivity on which the city is built. They passed near Niort,
but could not venture to enter it. The inhabitants came forth with
threatening aspect, and vehemently cried to the postillions to stop; but
the postillions urged the horses to full speed, and soon left the town
behind. Through such dangers the men of blood were brought in safety
to Rochelle. {509}Ol\xE9ron was the place of their destination, a dreary
island beaten by the raging waves of the Bay of Biscay. The prisoners
were confined in the castle; each had a single chamber, at the door of
which a guard was placed; and each was allowed the ration of a single
soldier. They were not allowed to communicate either with the garrison
or with the population of the island; and soon after their arrival they
were denied the indulgence of walking on the ramparts. The only place
where they were suffered to take exercise was the esplanade where the
troops were drilled.

They had not been long in this situation when news came that the
Jacobins of Paris had made a last attempt to regain ascendency in the
state, that the hall of the Convention had been forced by a furious
crowd, that one of the deputies had been murdered and his head fixed on
a pike, that the life of the President had been for a time in imminent
danger, and that some members of the legislature had not been ashamed to
join the rioters. But troops had arrived in time to prevent a
massacre. The insurgents had been put to flight; the inhabitants of
the disaffected quarters of the capital had been disarmed; the guilty
deputies had suffered the just punishment of their treason; and the
power of the Mountain was broken for ever. These events strengthened the
aversion with which the system of Terror and the authors of that system
were regarded. One member of the Convention had moved that the three
prisoners of Ol\xE9ron should be put to death; another, that they should be
brought back to Paris, and tried by a council of war. These propositions
were rejected. But something was conceded to the party which called for
severity. A vessel which had been fitted out with great expedition at
Rochefort touched at Ol\xE9ron; and {510}it was announced to Collot and
Billaud that they must instantly go on board. They were forthwith
conveyed to Guiana, where Collot soon drank himself to death with
brandy. Billaud lived many years, shunning his fellow-creatures and
shunned by them; and diverted his lonely hours by teaching parrots to
talk. Why a distinction was made between Bar\xE8re and his companions
in guilt, neither he nor any other writer, as far as we know, has
explained. It does not appear that the distinction was meant to be at
all in his favour; for orders soon arrived from Paris, that he should
be brought to trial for his crimes before the criminal court of the
department of the Upper Charente. He was accordingly brought back to the
continent, and confined during some months at Saintes, in an old convent
which had lately been turned into a jail.

While he lingered here the reaction which had followed the great crisis
of Thermidor met with a temporary check. The friends of the house of
Bourbon presuming on the indulgence with which they had been treated
after the fall of Robespierre, not only ventured to avow their opinions
with little disguise, but at length took arms against the Convention,
and were not put down till much blood had been shed in the streets
of Paris. The vigilance of the public authorities was therefore now
directed chiefly against the Royalists; and the rigour with which the
Jacobins had lately been treated was somewhat relaxed. The Convention,
indeed, again resolved that Bar\xE8re should be sent to Guiana. But this
decree was not carried into effect. The prisoner, probably with the
connivance of some powerful persons, made his escape from Saintes and
fled to Bordeaux, where he remained in concealment during some years.
There seems to have been a kind of understanding {511}between him and
the government, that, as long as he hid himself, He should not be found,
but that, if he obtruded himself on the public eye, he must take the
consequences of his rashness.

While the constitution of 1795, with its Executive Directory, its
Council of Elders, and its Council of Five Hundred was in operation,
he continued to live under the ban of the law. It was in vain that he
solicited, even at moments when the politics of the Mountain seemed to
be again in the ascendant, a remission of the sentence pronounced by the
Convention. Even his fellow-regicides, even the authors of the slaughter
of Vend\xE9miaire and of the arrests of Fructidor, were ashamed of him.

About eighteen months after his escape from prison, his name was again
brought before the world. In his own province He still retained some of
his early popularity. He had, indeed, never been in that province since
the downfall of the monarchy. The mountaineers of Gascony were far
removed from the seat of government, and were but imperfectly informed
of what passed there. They knew that their countryman had played an
important part, and that he had on some occasions promoted their local
interests; and they stood by him in his adversity and in his disgrace
with a constancy which presents a singular contrast to his own abject
fickleness. All France was amazed to learn that the department of the
Upper Pyrenees had chosen the proscribed tyrant a member of the Council
of Five Hundred. The council, which, like our House of Commons, was the
judge of the election of its own members, refused to admit him. When his
name was read from the roll, a cry of indignation rose from the benches.
\x93Which of you,\x94 exclaimed one of the members, \x93would {512}sit by the
side of such a monster?\x94

\x93Not I, not I!\x94 answered a crowd of voices. One deputy declared that he
would vacate his seat if the hall were polluted by the presence of such
a wretch. The election was declared null on the ground that the
person elected was a criminal skulking from justice; and many severe
reflections were thrown on the lenity which suffered him to be still at

He tried to make his peace with the Directory, by writing a bulky
libel on England, entitled, The Liberty of the Seas. He seems to have
confidently expected that this work would produce a great effect. He
printed three thousand copies, and, in order to defray the expense of
publication, sold one of his farms for the sum of ten thousand francs.
The book came out; but nobody bought it, in consequence, if Bar\xE8re is
to be believed, of the villainy of Mr. Pitt, who bribed the Directory
to order the Reviewers not to notice so formidable an attack on the
maritime greatness of perfidious Albion.

Bar\xE8re had been about three years at Bordeaux when he received
intelligence that the mob of the town designed him the honour of a visit
on the ninth of Thermidor, and would probably administer to him what
he had, in his defence of his friend Lebon, described as substantial
justice under forms a little harsh. It was necessary for him to disguise
himself in clothes such as were worn by the carpenters of the dock. In
this garb, with a bundle of wood shavings under his arm, he made his
escape into the vineyards which surround the city, lurked during some
days in a peasant\x92s but, and, when the dreaded anniversary was over,
stole back into the city. A few months later he was again in danger.
He now thought that he should be nowhere so safe as in the
{513}neighbourhood of Paris. He quitted Bordeaux, hastened undetected
through those towns where four years before his life had been in extreme
danger, passed through the capital in the morning twilight, when none
were in the streets except shop-boys taking down the shutters, and
arrived safe at the pleasant village of St. Ouen on the Seine. Here he
remained in seclusion during some months. In the mean time Bonaparte
returned from Egypt, placed himself at the head of a coalition of
discontented parties, covered his designs with the authority of the
Elders, drove the Five Hundred out of their hall at the point of the
bayonet, and became absolute monarch of France under the name of First

Bar\xE8re assures us that these events almost broke his heart; that he
could not bear to see France again subject to a master; and that, if the
representatives had been worthy of that honourable name, they would have
arrested the ambitious general who insulted them.

These feelings, however, did not prevent him from soliciting the
protection of the new government, and from sending to the First Consul a
handsome copy of the essay on The Liberty of the Seas.

The policy of Bonaparte was to cover all the past with a general
oblivion. He belonged half to the Revolution and half to the reaction.
He was an upstart and a sovereign; and had therefore something in
common with the Jacobin, and something in common with the Royalist.
All, whether Jacobins or Royalists, who were disposed to support his
government, were readily received--all, whether Jacobins or Royalists,
who showed hostility to his government, were put down and punished. Men
who had borne a part in the worst crimes in the Reign of Terror, and men
who had fought in the army of Coud\xE9, were to be found close together,
{514}both in his antechambers and in his dungeons. He decorated Louch\xE9
and Maury with the same cross. He sent Arena and George Cadoudal to the
same scaffold. From a Government acting on such principles Bar\xE8re easily
obtained the indulgence which the Directory had constantly refused to
grant. The sentence passed by the Convention was remitted; and he was
allowed to reside in Paris. His pardon, it is true, was not granted in
the most honourable form; and he remained, during some time, under the
special supervision of the police. He hastened, however, to pay his
court at the Luxemburg palace, where Bonaparte then resided, and was
honoured with a few dry and careless words by the master of France.

Here begins a new chapter of Bar\xE8re\x92s history. What passed between him
and the Consular government cannot, of course, be so accurately known to
us as the speeches and reports which he made in the Convention. It is,
however, not difficult, from notorious facts, and from the admissions
scattered over these lying Memoirs, to form a tolerably accurate notion
of what took place. Bonaparte wanted to buy Bar\xE8re: Bar\xE8re wanted to
sell himself to Bonaparte. The only question was one of price; and there
was an immense interval between what was offered and what was demanded.

Bonaparte, whose vehemence of will, fixedness of purpose, and reliance
on his own genius were not only great but extravagant, looked with
scorn on the most effeminate and dependent of human minds. He was quite
capable of perpetrating crimes under the influence either of ambition or
of revenge: but he had no touch of that accursed monomania, that craving
for blood and tears, which raged in some of the Jacobin chiefs. To
{515}proscribe the Terrorists would have been wholly inconsistent with
his policy; but, of all the classes of men whom his comprehensive system
included, he liked them the least; and Bar\xE8re was the worst of them.
This wretch had been branded with infamy, first by the Convention, and
then by the Council of Five Hundred. The inhabitants of four or five
great cities had attempted to tear him limb from limb. Nor were his
vices redeemed by eminent talents for administration or legislation. It
would be unwise to place in any honourable or important post a man so
wicked, so odious, and so little qualified to discharge high political
duties. At the same time, there was a way in which it seemed likely that
he might be of use to the government. The First Consul, as he afterwards
acknowledged, greatly overrated Bar\xE8re\x92s powers as a writer. The effect
which the Reports of the Committee of Public Safety had produced by the
camp fires of the Republican armies had been great. Napoleon himself,
when a young soldier, had been delighted by those compositions,
which had much in common with the rhapsodies of his favourite poet,
Macpherson. The taste, indeed, of the great warrior and statesman
was never very pure. His bulletins, his general orders, and his
proclamations, are sometimes, it is true, masterpieces in their kind;
but we too often detect, even in his best writing, traces of Fingal, and
of the Carmagnoles. It is not strange, therefore, that he should have
been desirous to secure the aid of Bar\xE8re\x92s pen. Nor was this the only
kind of assistance which the old member of the Committee of Public
Safety might render to the Consular government. He was likely to find
admission into the gloomy dens in which those Jacobins whose constancy
was to be overcome by no reverse, or {516}whose crimes admitted of no
expiation, hid themselves from the curses of mankind. No enterprise was
too bold or too atrocious for minds crazed by fanaticism, and familiar
with misery and death. The government was anxious to have information of
what passed in their secret councils; and no man was better qualified to
furnish such information than Bar\xE8re.

For these reasons the First Consul was disposed to employ Bar\xE8re as a
writer and as a spy. But Bar\xE8re--was it possible that he would submit
to such a degradation? Bad as he was, he had played a great part. He had
belonged to that class of criminals who filled the world with the renown
of their crimes; he had been one of a cabinet which had ruled France
with absolute power, and made war on all Europe with signal success.
Nay, he had been, though not the most powerful, yet, with the single
exception of Robespierre, the most conspicuous member of that cabinet.
His name had been a household word at Moscow and at Philadelphia, at
Edinburgh and at Cadiz. The blood of the queen of France, the blood of
the greatest orators and philosophers of France was on his hands. He
had spoken; and it had been decreed that the plough should pass over the
great city of Lyons. He had spoken again; and it had been decreed that
the streets of Toulon should be razed to the ground. When depravity is
placed so high as his, the hatred which it inspires is mingled with awe.
His place was with great tyrants, with Critias and Sylla, with Eccelino
and Borgia; not with hirelings, scribblers, and police runners.

                   \x93Virtue, I grant you, is an empty boast;

                   But shall the dignity of vice he lost?\x94

So sang Pope; and so felt Bar\xE8re. When it was proposed {517}to him to
publish a journal in defence of the Consular government, rage and shame
inspired him for the first and last time with something like courage.
He had filled as large a space in the eyes of mankind as Mr. Pitt or
General Washington; and he was coolly invited to descend at once to the
level of Mr. Lewis Goldsmith. He saw, too, with agonies of envy, that a
wide distinction was made between himself and the other statesmen of
the Revolution who were summoned to the aid of the government. Those
statesmen were required, indeed, to make large sacrifices of principle;
but they were not called on to sacrifice what, in the opinion of the
vulgar, constitutes personal dignity. They were made tribunes and
legislators, ambassadors and counsellors of state, ministers, senators,
and consuls. They might reasonably expect to rise with the rising
fortunes of their master; and, in truth, many of them were destined
to wear the badge of his Legion of Honour and of his order of the Iron
Crown; to be archchancellors and arch-treasurers, counts, dukes, and
princes. Bar\xE8re, only six years before, had been far more powerful, far
more widely renowned, than any of them; and now, while they were thought
worthy to represent the majesty of France at foreign courts, while they
received crowds of suitors in gilded ante-chambers, he was to pass his
life in measuring paragraphs, and scolding correctors of the press. It
was too much. Those lips which had never before been able to fashion
themselves to a No, now murmured expostulation and refusal. \x93I could
not\x94--these are his own words--\x93abase myself to such a point as to serve
the First Consul merely in the capacity of a journalist, while so many
insignificant, low, and servile people, such as the Treilhards,
the Roderers, the Lebruns, the Marets, and {518}others whom it is
superfluous to name, held the first place in this government of

This outbreak of spirit was of short duration. Napoleon was inexorable.
It is said indeed that he was, for a moment, half inclined to admit
Bar\xE8re into the Council of State; but the members of that body
remonstrated in the strongest terms, and declared that such a nomination
would be a disgrace to them all. This plan was therefore relinquished.
Thenceforth Bar\xE8re\x92s only chance of obtaining the patronage of the
government was to subdue his pride, to forget that there had been a time
when, with three words he might have had the heads of the three
consuls, and to betake himself, humbly and industriously, to the task of
composing lampoons on England and panegyrics on Bonaparte.

It has been often asserted, we know not on what grounds, that Bar\xE8re was
employed by the government not only as a writer, but as a censor of
the writings of other men. This imputation he vehemently denies in his
Memoirs; but our readers will probably agree with us in thinking that
his denial leaves the question exactly where it was.

Thus much is certain, that he was not restrained from exercising the
office of censor by any scruple of conscience or honour; for he did
accept an office, compared with which that of censor, odious as it is,
may be called an august and beneficent magistracy. He began to have what
are delicately called relations with the police. We are not sure that
we have formed, or that we can convey an exact notion of the nature of
Bar\xE8re\x92s new calling. It is a calling unknown in our country. It has
indeed often happened in England that a plot has been revealed to the
government by one of the {519}conspirators. The informer has sometimes
been directed to carry it fair towards his accomplices, and to let the
evil design come to full maturity. As soon as his work is done, he
is generally snatched from the public gaze, and sent to some obscure
village or to some remote colony. The use of spies, even to this extent,
is in the highest degree unpopular in England; but a political spy by
profession is a creature from which our island is as free as it is from
wolves. In France the race is well known, and was never more numerous,
more greedy, more cunning, or more savage, than under the government of

Our idea of a gentleman in relations with the Consular and Imperial
police may perhaps be incorrect. Such as it is, we will try to convey it
to our readers. We image to ourselves a well-dressed person, with a
soft voice and affable manners. His opinions are those of the society
in which he finds himself, but a little stronger. He often complains,
in the language of honest indignation, that what passes in private
conversation finds its way strangely to the government, and cautions his
associates to take care what they say when they are not sure of their
company. As for himself, he owns that he is indiscreet. He can never
refrain from speaking his mind; and that is the reason that he is not
prefect of a department.

In a gallery of the Palais Royal he overhears two friends talking
earnestly about the king and the Count of Artois. He follows them into a
coffee-house, sits at the table next to them, calls for his half-dish,
and his small glass of cognac, takes up a journal, and seems occupied
with the news. His neighbours go on talking without restraint, and in
the style of persons warmly attached to the exiled family. They depart;
and he, {520}follows them half round the boulevards till he fairly
tracks them to their apartments, and learns their names from the
porters. From that day every letter addressed to either of them is sent
from the post-office to the police, and opened. Their correspondents
become known to the government, and are carefully watched. Six or eight
honest families, in different parts of France, find themselves at once
under the frown of power without being able to guess what offence they
have given. One person is dismissed from a public office; another
learns with dismay that his promising son has been turned out of the
Polytechnic school.

Next, the indefatigable servant of the state falls in with an old
republican, who has not changed with the times, who regrets the red cap
and the tree of liberty, who has not unlearned the Thee and Thou, and
who still subscribes his letters with \x93Health and Fraternity.\x94 Into the
ears of this sturdy politician our friend pours forth a long series
of complaints. What evil times! What a change since the days when the
Mountain governed France! What is the First Consul but a king under a
new name? What is this Legion of Honour but a new aristocracy? The old
superstition is reviving with the old tyranny. There is a treaty with
the Pope, and a provision for the clergy. Emigrant nobles are returning
in crowds, and are better received at the Tuileries than the men of the
10th of August. This cannot last. What is life without liberty? What
terrors has death to the true patriot? The old Jacobin catches fire,
bestows and receives the fraternal hug, and hints that there will soon
be great news, and that the breed of Harmodius and Brutus is not quite
extinct. The next day he is close prisoner, and all his papers are in
the hands of the government. {521}To this vocation, a vocation compared
with which the life of a beggar, of a pickpocket, of a pimp, is
honourable, did Bar\xE8re now descend. It was his constant practice, as
often as he enrolled himself in a new party, to pay his footing with the
heads of old friends. He was at first a Royalist; and he made atonement
by watering the tree of liberty with the blood of Louis. He was then a
Girondist; and he made atonement by murdering Vergniaud and Gensonn\xF4.
He fawned on Robespierre up to the eighth of Thermidor; and he made
atonement by moving, on the ninth, that Robespierre should be beheaded
without a trial. He was now enlisted in the service of the new monarchy;
and he proceeded to atone for his republican heresies by sending
republican throats to the guillotine.

Among his most intimate associates was a Gascon named Demerville, who
had been employed in an office of high trust under the Committee of
Public Safety. This man was fanatically attached to the Jacobin system
of politics, and, in conjunction with other enthusiasts of the same
class, formed a design against the First Consul. A hint of this design
escaped him in conversation with Bar\xE8re. Bar\xE8re carried the intelligence
to Lannes, who commanded the Consular Guards. Demerville was arrested,
tried, and beheaded; and among the witnesses who appeared against him
was his friend Bar\xE8re.

The account which Bar\xE8re has given of these transactions is studiously
confused and grossly dishonest. We think, however, that we can discern,
through much falsehood and much artful obscurity, some truths which he
labours to conceal. It is clear to us that the government suspected him
of what the Italians call a double treason. It was natural that such a
suspicion {522}should attach to him. He had, in times not very remote,
zealously preached the Jacobin doctrine, that He who smites a tyrant
deserves higher praise than he who saves a citizen. Was it possible
that the member of the Committee of Public Safety, the king-killer, the
queen-killer, could in earnest mean to deliver his old confederates, his
bosom friends, to the executioner, solely because they had planned an
act which, if there were any truth in his own Carmagnoles, was in the
highest decree virtuous and glorious? Was it not more probable that he
was really concerned in the plot, and that the information which he gave
was merely intended to lull or to mislead the police? Accordingly,
spies were set on the spy. He was ordered to quit Paris, and not to come
within twenty leagues till he received further orders. Nay, he ran no
small risk of being sent, with some of his old friends, to Madagascar.

He made his peace, however, with the government so far, that he was not
only permitted, during some years, to live unmolested, but was employed
in the lowest sort of political drudgery. In the summer of 1803, while
he was preparing to visit the south of France, he received a letter
which deserves to be inserted. It was from Duroc, who is well known to
have enjoyed a large share of Napoleon\x92s confidence and favour.

\x93_The First Consul having been informed that Citizen Bar\xE8re is about to
set out for the country, desires that He will stay at Paris.

\x93Citizen Bar\xE8re will every week draw up a report on the state of publie
opinion on the proceedings of the government, and generally on every
thing which, in his judgment, it will be interesting to the First Consul
to learn.

\x93He may write with perfect freedom.

\x93He will deliver his reports under seal into General Duroc\x92s own hand,
and General Duroc will deliver them to the First Consul. {523}But it
is absolutely necessary that nobody should suspect that this species of
communication takes place; and, should any such suspicion get abroad,
the First Consul will cease to receive the reports of Citizen Bar\xE8re.

\x93It will also be proper that Citizen Bar\xE8re should frequently insert in
the journals articles tending to animate the public mind, particularly
against the English._\x94

During some years Bar\xE8re continued to discharge the functions
assigned to him by his master. Secret reports, filled with the talk
of coffee-houses, were carried by him every week to the Tuileries. His
friends assure us that he took especial pains to do all the harm in his
power to the returned emigrants. It was not his fault if Napoleon was
not apprised of every murmur and every sarcasm which old marquesses who
had lost their estates, and old clergymen who had lost their benefices,
uttered against the imperial system. M. Hippolyte Carnot, we grieve to
say, is so much blinded by party spirit that he seems to reckon this
dirty wickedness among his hero\x92s titles to public esteem.

Bar\xE8re was, at the same time, an indefatigable journalist and
pamphleteer. He set up a paper directed against England, and called the
_Memorial Antibritannique_.

He planned a work entitled, \x93France made great and illustrious by
Napoleon.\x94 When the Imperial government was established, the old
regicide made himself conspicuous even among the crowd of flatterers by
the peculiar fulsomeness of his adulation. He translated into French
a contemptible volume of Italian verses, entitled, \x93The Poetic Crown,
composed on the glorious accession of Napoleon the First, by the
Shepherds of Arcadia.\x94 He commenced a new series of Carmagnoles very
different from those which had charmed the Mountain. The title of
Emperor of the {524}French, he said, was mean; Napoleon ought to
be Emperor of Europe. King of Italy was too humble an appellation;
Napoleon\x92s style ought to be King of Kings.

But Bar\xE8re laboured to small purpose in both his vocations. Neither as
a writer nor as a spy was he of much use. He complains bitterly that
his paper did not sell. While the _Journal des D\xE9bats_, then flourishing
under the able management of Geoffroy, had a circulation of at least
twenty thousand copies, the _M\xE9morial Antibritanuique_ never, in its
most prosperous times, had more than fifteen hundred subscribers; and
these subscribers were, with scarcely an exception, persons residing far
from Paris, probably Gascons, among whom the name of Bar\xE8re had not yet
lost its influence.

A writer who cannot find readers generally attributes the public neglect
to any cause rather than to the true one; and Bar\xE8re was no exception to
the general rule. His old hatred to Paris revived in all its fury.
That city, he says, has no sympathy with France. No Parisian cares to
subscribe to a journal which dwells on the real wants and interests of
the country. To a Parisian nothing is so ridiculous as patriotism. The
higher classes of the capital have always been devoted to England.
A corporal from London is better received among them than a French
general. A journal, therefore, which attacks England has no chance of
their support.

A much better explanation of the failure of the _M\xE9morial_ was given by
Bonaparte at St. Helena. \x93Bar\xE8re,\x94 said he to Barry O\x92Meara, \x93had
the reputation of being a man of talent: but I did not find him so. I
employed him to write; but he did not display ability. {525}He used many
flowers of rhetoric, but no solid argument; nothing but _coglionere_
wrapped up in high-sounding language.\x94

The truth is that, though Bar\xE8re was a man of quick parts, and could do
with ease what he could do at all, he had never been a good writer. In
the day of his power he had been in the habit of haranguing an excitable
audience on exciting topics. The faults of his style passed uncensured;
for it was a time of literary as well as of civil lawlessness, and a
patriot was licensed to violate the ordinary rules of composition as
well as the ordinary rules of jurisprudence and of social morality. But
there had now been a literary as well as a civil reaction. As there was
again a throne and a court, a magistracy, a chivalry, and a hierarchy,
so was there a revival of classical taste. Honour was again paid to
the prose of Pascal and Massillon, and to the verse of Racine and
La Fontaine. The oratory which had delighted the galleries of the
Convention was not only as much out of date as the language of
Villehardouin and Joinville, but was associated in the public mind
with images of horror. All the peculiarities of the Anacreon of the
guillotine, his words unknown to the Dictionary of the Academy, his
conceits and his jokes, his Gascon idioms and his Gascon hyperboles, had
become as odious as the cant of the Puritans was in England after the

Bonaparte, who had never loved the men of the Reign of Terror, had now
ceased to fear them. He was allpowerful and at the height of glory;
they were weak and universally abhorred. He was a sovereign; and it
is probable that he already meditated a matrimonial alliance with
sovereigns. He was naturally unwilling, in his new position, to hold any
intercourse with the worst {526}class of Jacobins. Had Bar\xE8re\x92s literary
assistance been important to the government, personal aversion might
have yielded to considerations of policy; but there was no motive for
keeping terms with a worthless man who had also proved a worthless
writer. Bonaparte, therefore, gave loose to his feelings. Bar\xE8re was not
gently dropped, not sent into an honourable retirement, but spurned
and scourged away like a troublesome dog. He had been in the habit of
sending six copies of his journal on fine paper daily to the Tuileries.
Instead of receiving the thanks and praises which he expected, He was
dryly told that the great man had ordered five copies to be sent back.
Still he toiled on; still he cherished a hope that at last Napoleon
would relent, and that at last some share in the honours of the state
would reward so much assiduity and so much obsequiousness. He was
utterly undeceived. Under the Imperial constitution the electoral
colleges of the departments did not possess the right of choosing
senators or deputies, but merely that of presenting candidates. From
among these candidates the Emperor named members of the senate, and the
senate named members of the legislative body. The inhabitants of the
Upper Pyrenees were still strangely partial to Bar\xE8re. In the year 1805,
they were disposed to present him as a candidate for the senate. On this
Napoleon expressed the highest displeasure; and the president of the
electoral college was directed to tell the voters, in plain terms, that
such a choice would be disgraceful to the department. All thought of
naming Bar\xE8re a candidate for the senate was consequently dropped.
But the people of Argel\xE8s ventured to name him a candidate for the
legislative body. That body was altogether destitute of weight and
dignity: it was not permitted to debate; its only function was to
{527}vote in silence for whatever the government proposed. It is
not easy to understand how any man, who had sat in free and powerful
deliberative assemblies, could condescend to bear a part in such a
mummery. Bar\xE8re, however, was desirous of a place even in this mock
legislature; and a place even in this mock legislature was refused to
him. In the whole senate he had not a single vote.

Such treatment was sufficient, it might have been thought, to move the
most abject of mankind to resentment. Still, however, Bar\xE8re cringed and
fawned on. His Letters came weekly to the Tuileries till the year
1807. At length, while he was actually writing the two hundred and
twenty-third of the series, a note was put into his hands. It was from
Duroc, and was much more perspicuous than polite. Bar\xE8re was requested
to send no more of his Reports to the palace, as the Emperor was too
busy to read them.

Contempt, says the Indian proverb, pierces even the shell of the
tortoise; and the contempt of the Court was felt to the quick even by
the callous heart of Bar\xE8re. He had humbled himself to the dust; and he
had humbled himself in vain. Having been eminent among the rulers of a
great and victorious state.

He had stooped to serve a master in the vilest capacities; and he had
been told that, even in those capacities, he was not worthy of the
pittance which had been disdainfully flung to him. He was now degraded
below the level even of the hirelings whom the government employed
in the most infamous offices. He stood idle in the market-place, not
because he thought any office too infamous, but because none would hire

Yet he had reason to think himself fortunate; for, {528}had all that
is avowed in these Memoirs been known, he would have received very
different tokens of the Imperial displeasure. We learn from himself
that, while publishing daily columns of flattery on Bonaparte, and while
carrying weekly budgets of calumny to the Tuileries, he was in close
connection with the agents whom the Emperor Alexander, then by no means
favourably disposed towards France, employed to watch all that passed at
Paris; was permitted to read their secret despatches; was consulted by
them as to the temper of the public mind and the character of Napoleon;
and did his best to persuade them that the government was in a tottering
condition, and that the new sovereign was not, as the world supposed,
a great statesman and soldier. Next, Bar\xE8re, still the flatterer and
talebearer of the Imperial Court, connected himself in the same manner
with the Spanish envoy. He owns that with that envoy he had relations
which he took the greatest pains to conceal from his own government;
that they met twice a day; and that their conversation chiefly turned
on the vices of Napoleon, on his designs against Spain, and on the best
mode of rendering those designs abortive. In truth, Bar\xE8re\x92s baseness
was unfathomable. In the lowest deeps of shame he found out lower deeps.
It is bad to be a sycophant; it is bad to be a spy. But even among
sycophants and spies there are degrees of meanness. The vilest sycophant
is he who privily slanders the master on whom he fawns; the vilest spy
is he who serves foreigners against the government of his native land.

From 1807 to 1811 Bar\xE8re lived in obscurity, railing as bitterly as his
craven cowardice would permit against the Imperial administration,
and coming sometimes {529}unpleasantly across the police. When the
Bourbons returned, he, as might have been expected, became a royalist,
and wrote a pamphlet setting forth the horrors of the system from which
the Restoration had delivered France, and magnifying the wisdom and
goodness which had dictated the charter. He who had voted for the death
of Louis, he who had moved the decree for the trial of Marie Antoinette,
he whose hatred of monarchy had led him to make war even upon the
sepulchres of ancient monarchs, assures us, with great complacency,
that \x93in this work monarchial principles and attachment to the House of
Bourbon are nobly expressed.\x94 By this apostasy he got nothing, not even
any additional infamy; for his character was already too black to be

During the hundred days he again emerged for a very short time into
public life; he was chosen by his native district a member of the
Chamber of Representatives. But, though that assembly was composed in
a great measure of men who regarded the excesses of the Jacobins with
indulgence, he found himself an object of general aversion. When the
President first informed the Chamber that M. Bar\xE8re requested a hearing,
a deep and indignant murmur ran round the benches. After the battle of
Waterloo, Bar\xE8re proposed that the Chamber should save France from the
victorious enemy, by putting forth a proclamation about the pass of
Thermopylae and the Lacedaemonian custom of wearing flowers in times of
extreme danger. Whether this composition, if it had then appeared, would
have stopped the English and Prussian armies, is a question respecting
which we are left to conjecture. The Chamber refused to adopt this
last of the Carmagnoles. {530}The Emperor had abdicated. The Bourbons
returned. The Chamber of Representatives, after burlesquing during a
few weeks the proceedings of the National Convention, retired with the
well-earned character of having been the silliest political assembly
that had met in France. Those dreaming pedants and praters never for
a moment comprehended their position. They could never understand that
Europe must be either conciliated or vanquished; that Europe could be
conciliated only by the restoration of Louis, and vanquished only by
means of a dictatorial power entrusted to Napoleon. They would not hear
of Louis; yet they would not hear of the only measures which could
keep him out. They incurred the enmity of all foreign powers by putting
Napoleon at their head; yet they shackled him, thwarted him, quarrelled
with him about every trifle, abandoned him on the first reverse. They
then opposed declamations and disquisitions to eight hundred thousand
bayonets; played at making a constitution for their country, when it
depended on the indulgence of the victor whether they should have a
country; and were at last interrupted, in the midst of their babble
about the rights of man and the sovereignty of the people, by the
soldiers of Wellington and Blucher.

A new Chamber of Deputies was elected, so bitterly hostile to the
Revolution that there was no small risk of a new Reign of Terror. It
is just, however, to say that the king, his ministers, and his allies
exerted themselves to restrain the violence of the fanatical royalists,
and that the punishments inflicted, though in our opinion unjustifiable,
were few and lenient when compared with those which were demanded by M.
de Labourdonnave and M. Hyde de Neuville. We have always {531}heard, and
are inclined to believe, that the government was not disposed to treat
even the regicides with severity. But on this point the feeling of the
Chamber of Deputies was so strong that it was thought necessary to make
some concession. It was enacted, therefore, that whoever, having voted
in January 1793 for the death of Louis the Sixteenth, had in any manner
given in an adhesion to the government of Bonaparte during the hundred
days should be banished for life from France. Bar\xE8re fell within this
description. He had voted for the death of Louis; and he had sat in the
Chamber of Representatives during the hundred days.

He accordingly retired to Belgium, and resided there, forgotten by all
mankind, till the year 1880. After the revolution of July he was at
liberty to return to France; and he fixed his residence in his native
province. But he was soon involved, in a succession of lawsuits with his
nearest relations--\x93three fatal sisters and an ungrateful brother,\x94 to
use his own words. Who was in the right is a question about which we
have no means of judging, and certainly shall not take Bar\xE8re\x92s word.
The Courts appear to have decided some points in his favour and some
against him. The natural inference is, that there were faults on all
sides. The result of this litigation was that the old man was reduced to
extreme poverty, and was forced to sell his paternal house.

As far as we can judge from the few facts which remain to be mentioned,
Bar\xE8re continued Bar\xE8re to the last. After his exile he turned Jacobin
again, and, when he came back to France, joined the party of the
extreme left in railing at Louis Philippe, and at all Louis Philippe\x92s
ministers. M. Casimir P\xE9rier, M. De Broglie, M. Guizot, and M. Thiers,
in particular, are {532}honoured with his abuse; and the King himself is
held up to execration as a hypocritical tyrant. Nevertheless, Bar\xE8re had
no scruple about accepting a charitable donation of a thousand francs
a year from the privy purse of the sovereign whom he hated and reviled.
This pension, together with some small sums occasionally doled out
to him by the department of the Interior, on the ground that he was
a distressed man of letters, and by the department of Justice, on the
ground that he had formerly held a high judicial office, saved him from
the necessity of begging his bread. Having survived all his colleagues
of the renowned Committee of Public Safety, and almost all his
colleagues of the Convention, he died in January 1841. He had attained
his eighty-sixth year.

We have now laid before our readers what we believe to be a just account
of this man\x92s life. Can it be necessary for us to add any thing for the
purpose of assisting their judgment of his character? If we were writing
about any of his colleagues in the Committee of Public Safety, about
Carnot, about Robespierre, or St. Just, nay, even about Couthon. Collot,
or Billaud, we might feel it necessary to go into a full examination
of the arguments which have been employed to vindicate or to excuse the
system of Terror. We could, we think, show that France was saved from
her foreign enemies, not by the system of Terror, but in spite of it;
and that the perils which were made the plea of the violent policy of
the Mountain were to a great extent created by that very policy. We
could, we think, also show that the evils produced by the Jacobin
administration did not terminate when it fell; that it bequeathed a long
series of calamities to France and to Europe; that public opinion, which
had during two {533}generations been constantly becoming more and more
favourable to civil and religious freedom, underwent, during the days
of Terror, a change of which the traces are still to be distinctly
perceived. It was natural that there should be such a change, when men
saw that those who called themselves the champions of popular rights had
compressed into the space of twelve months more crimes than the Kings
of France, Merovingian, Carlovingian, and Capetian, had perpetrated in
twelve centuries. Freedom was regarded as a great delusion. Men were
willing to submit to the government of hereditary princes, of fortunate
soldiers, of nobles, of priests; to any government but that of
philosophers and philanthropists. Hence the imperial despotism, with its
enslaved press and its silent tribune, its dungeons stronger than
the old Bastile, and its tribunais more obsequious than the old
parliaments. Hence the restoration of the Bourbons and of the Jesuits,
the Chamber of 1815 with its categories of proscription, the revival of
the feudal spirit, the encroachments of the clergy, the persecution
of the Protestants, the appearance of a new breed of De Montforts
and Dominies in the full light of the nineteenth century. Hence the
admission of France into the Holy Alliance, and the war waged by the old
soldiers of the tricolor against the liberties of Spain. Hence, too, the
apprehensions with which, even at the present day, the most temperate
plans for widening the narrow basis of the French representation are
regarded by those who are especially interested in the security of
property and the maintenance of order. Half a century has not sufficed
to obliterate the stain which one year of depravity and madness has left
on the noblest of causes.

Nothing is more ridiculous than the manner in which {534}writers like
M. Hippolyte Carnot defend or excuse the Jacobin administration, while
they declaim against the reaction which followed. That the reaction has
produced and is still producing much evil, is perfectly true. But what
produced the reaction? The spring flies up with a force proportioned to
that with which it has been pressed down. The pendulum which is drawn
far in one direction swings as far in the other. The joyous madness of
intoxication in the evening is followed by languor and nausea on the
morrow. And so, in politics, it is the sure law that every excess shall
generate its opposite; nor does he deserve the name of a statesman
who strikes a great blow without fully calculating the effect of the
rebound. But such calculation was infinitely beyond the reach of the
authors of the Reign of Terror. Violence, and more violence, blood,
and more blood, made up their whole policy. In a few months these poor
creatures succeeded in bringing about a reaction, of which none of them
saw, and of which none of us may see, the close; and, having brought it
about, they marvelled at it; they bewailed it; they execrated it; they
ascribed it to every thing but the real cause--their own immorality and
their own profound incapacity for the conduct of great affairs.

These, however, are considerations to which, on the present occasion, it
is hardly necessary for us to advert; for, be the defence which has been
set up for the Jacobin policy good or bad, it is a defence which cannot
avail Bar\xE8re. From his own life, from his own pen, from his own month,
we can prove that the part which he took in the work of blood is to be
attributed, not even to sincere fanaticism, not even to misdirected
and ill-regulated patriotism, but either to cowardice, or to delight in
human misery. Will it be pretended that {535}it was from public spirit
that he murdered the Girondists? In these very Memoirs he tells us
that He always regarded their death as the greatest calamity that could
befall France. Will it be pretended that it was from public spirit that
he raved for the head of the Austrian woman? In these very memoirs he
tells us that the time spent in attacking her was ill spent, and ought
to have been employed in concerting measures of national defence. Will
it be pretended that he was induced by sincere and earnest abhorrence of
kingly government to butcher the living and to outrage the dead; he who
invited Napoleon to take the title of King of Kings, he who assures us
that after the Restoration he expressed in noble language his attachment
to monarchy, and to the house of Bourbon? Had he been less mean,
something might have been said in extenuation of his cruelty. Had he
been less cruel, something might have been said in extenuation of his
meanness. But for him, regicide and court-spy, for him who patronised
Lebon and betrayed Demerville, for him who wantoned alternately in
gasconades of Jacobinism and gasconades of servility, what excuse has
the largest charity to offer?

We cannot conclude without saying something about two parts of his
character, which his biographer appears to consider as deserving of
high admiration. Bar\xE8re, it is admitted, was somewhat fickle; but in two
things he was consistent, in his love of Christianity, and in his hatred
to England. If this were so, we must say that England is much more
beholden to him than Christianity.

It is possible that our inclinations may bias our judgment; but we think
that we do not flatter ourselves when we say that Bar\xE8re\x92s aversion to
our {536}country was a sentiment as deep and constant as his mind was
capable of entertaining. The value of this compliment is indeed somewhat
diminished by the circumstance that He knew very little about us.
His ignorance of our institutions, manners, and history is the less
excusable, because, according to his own account, he consorted much,
during the peace of Amiens, with Englishmen of note, such as that
eminent nobleman Lord Greaten, and that not less eminent philosopher
Mr. Mackensie Cofhis. In spite, however, of his connection with these
well-known ornaments of our country, he was so ill-informed about us as
to fancy that our government was always laying plans to torment him.
If he was hooted at Saintes, probably by people whose relations he had
murdered, it was because the cabinet of St. James\x92s had hired the mob.
If nobody would read his bad books, it was because the cabinet of St.
James\x92s had secured the Reviewers. His accounts of Mr. Fox, of Mr.
Pitt, of the Duke of Wellington, of Mr. Canning, swarm with blunders
surpassing even the ordinary blunders committed by Frenchmen who write
about England. Mr. Fox and Mr. Pitt, he tells us, were ministers in two
different reigns. Mr. Pitt\x92s sinking fund was instituted in order to
enable England to pay subsidies to the powers allied against the French
republic. The Duke of Wellington\x92s house in Hyde Park was built by the
nation, which twice voted the sum of 200,000l. for the purpose. This,
however, is exclusive of the cost of the frescoes, which were also paid
for out of the public purse. Mr. Canning was the first Englishman
whose death Europe had reason to lament; for the death of Lord Ward,
a relation, we presume, of Lord Greaten and Mr. Cofhis, had been an
immense benefit to mankind. {537}Ignorant, however, as Bar\xE8re was, He
knew enough of us to hate us; and we persuade ourselves that, had
he known us better he would have hated us more. The nation which has
combined, beyond all example and all hope, the blessings of liberty with
those of order, might well be an object of aversion to one who had been
false alike to the cause of order and to the cause of liberty. We have
had amongst us intemperate zeal for popular rights; we have had amongst
us also the intemperance of loyalty. But we have never been shocked
by such a spectacle as the Bar\xE8re of 1794, or as the Bar\xE8re of 1804.
Compared with him our fiercest demagogues have been gentle; compared
with him, our meanest courtiers have been manly. Mix together
Thistlewood and Bubb Dodington; and you are still far from having
Bar\xE8re. The antipathy between him and us is such, that neither for the
crimes of his earlier nor for those of his later life does our language,
rich as it is, furnish us with adequate names. We have found it
difficult to relate his history without having perpetual recourse to the
French vocabulary of horror, and to the French vocabulary of baseness.
It is not easy to give a notion of his conduct in the Convention,
without using those emphatic terms, _guillotinade, noyade, fusillade,
mitraillade_. It is not easy to give a notion of his conduct under the
Consulate and the Empire, without borrowing such words as _mouchard_ and

We therefore like his invectives against us much better than any
thing else that he has written; and dwell on them, not merely with
complacency, but with a feeling akin to gratitude. It was but little
that he could do to promote the honor of our country; but that little he
did strenuously and constantly. Renegade, traitor, slave, coward, liar,
slanderer, murderer, hack writer, {538}police-spy--the one small service
which he could render to England was to hate her: and such as he was may
all who hate her be!

We cannot say that we contemplate with equal satisfaction that fervent
and constant zeal for religion which, according to M. Hippolyte Carnot,
distinguished Bar\xE8re; for, as we think that whatever brings dishonour on
religion is a serious evil, we had, we own, indulged a hope that Bar\xE8re
was an Atheist. We now learn, however, that he was at no time even a
sceptic, that he adhered to his faith through the whole Revolution, and
that he has left several manuscript works on divinity. One of these is
a pious treatise, entitled \x93of Christianity, and of its Influence.\x94
 Another consists of meditations on the Psalms, which will doubtless
greatly console and edify the Church.

This makes the character complete. Whatsoever things are false,
whatsoever things are dishonest, whatsoever things are unjust,
whatsoever things are impure, whatsoever things are hateful, whatsoever
things are of evil report, if there be any vice, and if there be any
infamy, all these things, we knew, were blended in Bar\xE8re. But one thing
was still wanting: and that M. Hippolyte Carnot has supplied. When to
such an assemblage of qualities a high profession of piety is added,
the effect becomes overpowering. We sink under the contemplation of such
exquisite and manifold perfection; and feel, with deep humility, how
presumptuous it was in us to think of composing the legend of this
beatified athlete of the faith, St. Bertrand of the Carmagnoles.

Something more we had to say about him. But let him go. We did not seek
him out and will not keep him longer. If those who call themselves
his friends {539}had not forced him on our notice we should never have
vouchsafed to him more than a passing word of scorn and abhorrence, such
as we might fling at his brethren, H\xE9bert and Fouquier Tinville, and
Carrier and Lebon. We have no pleasure in seeing human nature thus
degraded. We turn with disgust from the filthy and spiteful Yahoos of
the fiction; and the filthiest and most spiteful Yahoo of the fiction
was a noble creature when compared with the Bar\xE8re of history. But what
is no pleasure M. Hippolyte Carnot has made a duty. It is no light thing
that a man in high and honourable public trust, a man who, from his
connections and position, may not unnaturally be supposed to speak the
sentiments of a large class of his countrymen, should come forward to
demand approbation for a life black with every sort of wickedness, and
unredeemed by a single virtue. This M. Hippolyte Carnot has done. By
attempting to enshrine this Jacobin carrion, he has forced us to gibbet
it; and we venture to say that, from the eminence of infamy on which we
have placed it, he will not easily take it down.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Critical, Historical, and Miscellaneous Essays; Vol. (5 of 6) - With a Memoir and Index" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.