Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

kind of warfare against all that he called superstition, might become the founder of some other system of faith, and assume the honours of a teacher or a prophet. Bonaparte had not only meditated on this subject, bui had made reformation the secret order of the day, in a committee of his council of sưate ithout having plunged deeply into religious controversy, or having probably carried his studies beyond the lucubrations of modern infidelitv, he had the sagacity to discern that the prevalent religion of his empire held little relation with the primitive doctrines of Christianity, and that the state of knowledge in France was such, that reformation would be welcomed. Orders were given at the literary police to permit the publication of all works against popery; and coercive measures were in meditation against the person of the Pope, who had resisted his anti-canonical measures respecting the institution of bishops This was a power which interfered too much with his own, and he wished to annex the title of Head of the Church to that of Emperor of the French.

• Bonaparte had distinguished himself at all times for his principles of toleration, which benefited only the dissenters from the Catholic church. These were favoured; while the episcopal chiefs of the church avoided any open hostilities, only by becoming the instruments of his edicts of conscription, or flatterers of his power. Their charges, or mandemens, to the clergy and people of their dioceses, were filled with scriptural allusions to Cyrus; and one bishop so far forgot his allegiance to the Pope as to name Bonaparte the representative of God on earth. The clergy of inferior rank, whose salaries were by no means adequate to their services, or who had clearer views of Bonaparte's ultimate designs, were unwilling to compliment away their faith, and made scriptural allusions, in their turn, in answer to the mandemens of their bishops.

• History teaches us that arbitrary power and the sword are not always unfitted to promote a reform of ancient errors. Wahomet proposed the great doctrine of the Unity of the Divine Being, and purified the Christian, and what yet remained of the heathen world, of its polytheistic and idolatrous abuses; and Henry VIII shook off with violence the chains of the papal government. Of these two creeds, a warlike nation of the east, the Mahometan Wechabites, appear to have undertaken a further reform. The papal superstition would not, perhaps, have survived Bonaparte's examination. He had found too many points of opposition in the tenets of this church to fashion it to his rule of government, and bring it within the pale of his system of unity. He had, indeed, observed in Egypt the policy of ancient Rome in adopting the reli. gion of the conquered country. “Glory to Allah!" says he to the chief priests of Cairo. “ There is no other God, bu: God; Mahomet is his prophet, and I am his friend. The divine Koran is the delight of my soul, and the object of my meditation.” A di:cussion which he held with those eastern doctors led to some doubts respecting the strength of faith in their proselyte. Bunaparte would not admit that the magnetical needle, the invention of gunpowder, the art of printing, or the Newtonian system of the universa,

[ocr errors]

were to be found in the Koran. But whatever might be the doctrines which Bonaparte would have instituted, and for the belief of which all latitude would have been given, the discipline of his church would no doubt have been military. He had already rendered the instruction at the Lyceums, and even private schools, as soldier-like as the nature of the lessons permitted, and every movement was ordered by beat of drum. A right reverend bench of generals, well organized staffs of deans and vicars, and a handsomely drilled clergy, with their acolytes, would, in his estimation, have given energy to the church-militant. As a sedentary guard, or militia, they would have replaced the regular troops stationed in the interior, and with which he could have augmented his ranks for foreign service. The teachers of virtue might thus have become the quellers of sedition, and their eloquent discourses against immorality be accompanied, if necessary, by the stronger arguments of military persuasion. As his system had been that of fusion in his secular concerns, so he would have followed the same rule in his ecclesiastical administration, and this he would have called toleration. He had not been able, however, to bring the Pope, when in Paris, into union with the president of the Protestant church, M. Marron, whom he usually addressed at court by the title of “ Monsieur le Pape Protestant.” Pius VII. declared, with some pleasantry, that he had no hopes “ de tirer le Marron du feu.” But Napoleon effected what was no less difficult, that of engaging the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris, and the Protestant president, to join in the same religious ceremony, in the presence of the empress, and part of the court. It was the celebration of, the marriage of a Catholic and a Protestant person of the court; and the man being a Protestant, the Protestant president, in right of the husband's prerogative, took the lead in the ceremony, and was seated in the place of honour, at the right band of the empress, at the vuptial banquet, and the cardinal was placed on the left.' pp. 127-131.

It is of no consequence, what modification of religion our Author may have adopted; this representation certainly throws some light on the toleration of the Bonapartean government, and would lead us to believe, that it is by other means than that of infidel policy, that the papal superstition is finally to be overthrown. “And yet, we may hope, that the blow which Popery received from Bonaparte, and which made the throne of his Holiness' totter to its foundations, is one from which it will never wholly recover, although England herself should be doomed to the disgrace of becoming the temporal ally of the spiritual usurper.

Miss Williams speaks with a sort of respect of the unfortunate adventurer who has been replaced by the worthless Ferdinand of Naples.

• Murat had borne his faculties, at Naples, as meekly as could þare been expected from the possessor of a throne so equivocal.

[ocr errors]

He had obtained the good opinion of the country in general, whose well-being he seemed to have at heart, and which he had, in va. rious instances, effected.' But, she adds, Though Murat might have made a tolerably decent kind of king, (this from a royalist, from a loyal subject of Louis XVIII!!) he was endowed with no extraordinary intelligence.'_'In an evil hour he listened to the wily seducer, who, meditating his march from his place of exile to Paris, persuaded this foolish king, that the active employment of his troops against their common enemies, was the most effectual method of not only securing the possession of his own crown, but of rendering Italy independent.' p. 142–3.

The volume contains a mass of amusing anecdotes in reference to minor subjects of interest. There is a very well told instance of noble retaliation in a Prussian officer, and some exquisite instances of Parisian absurdity of feeling displayed on the occasion of the removal of their sculptured divinities by the allied troops. For these we must refer our readers to the volume itself

. The least satisfactory portion of the volume, to readers in general, will be that in which the Author lauds the house of Bourbon ; but we cannot avoid considering the very tone of the work in this respect, as a strong presumption that the restored family possesses a much more general popularity, than some persons on this side of the water have been willing to admit. Miss Williams maintains, that the sacred principle of toleration has never been violated by Louis the XVIII, and adduces a single anecdote in proof of this assertion! It must however be remembered, that the restoration of the Bourbon dynasty, involves much more than the re-enthronement of Louis the Eighteenth, and that the personal character of a monarch is too often found to constitute an insufficient security for the spirit of his government, and the acts of his ministry: still less can it form any pledge for the conduct of his successor,

We must refrain from further remarks, and will only express in conclusion, our earnest hope, that the expectation expressed in the following passage, may be justified by the future principles and conduct of the French people.

• We have passed through the tempest, to use the words of M. de Boufflers, sous la même parapluie." How should I have lived so many years among the French without loving that amiable people, to apply the term in their own sense, who so well know the art of shedding a peculiar charm over social life ! How much better than others they understand the secret of being happy ! happy at a cheap rate, and without being too difficult, and too disdainful as we are in Engliud about the conditions; while they bear misfortunes with a cheerful equanimity, which, if it does not deserve the proud name of philosophy, is of far more general use; the former being common property, belonging to all, and not, like the latter, the partial for. wne of an enlightened few.

• I am persuaded that the experience acquired by the French nation during their long and stormy Revolution, will not be lost. Their political vanity and presumption required a tremendous lesson. They have passed through many phases, from the wildest anarchy to the most

. oppressive despotism ; and they now really know what is not freedom. They seek repose, but it must be repose under the safe shelter of liberty. “ They pretend not,'' to use the language of the Duke d'Otrante, in his letter to the Duke of Wellington, “They pretend not to more liberty than that of England, but they seek to be as free.” You will not, I am sure, answer, as I have heard some of our countrymen, “ Liberty for England, but arbi-. trary government for the continent.” England needs not fear the rivalship of France in its constitutional freedom. It will be some time before the French reach your practical science on this subject. They have indeed already lost some of that vanity of knowledge, which is only found in the first steps of its acquirement, because we look back on the time when we knew nothing. The French were too proud of their A B C liberty: they feel now that the alphabet is only the rudiment of science. They have learnt the table of contents of liberal principles, and they will at last comprehend the whole volume.

• The Revolution, amidst all its abuses and its crimes, has shed a new ray of light upon France, and it were vain to expect that the French will shut their minds against it, and prefer the darkness of ignorance. The eternal principles of liberty are independent of the purposes to which they have been made subservient. What is good in those principles is unperishable, and what has been evil in their application will be transitory. But time has no spunge that can wipe from the memory of the French the great event of the Revolution, and restore prejudices that are swept away, ideas that are eradicated, manners that are changed, and affections that are extinct. The spirit of constitutional representation is abroad, and will walk the world. Lewis XVIII. has no reason to fear its energies, for he will be strong only in its strength.' pp. 504--307.

[ocr errors]

Art. VII. A Second Ode to Napoleon Buonaparte, partly a Parody on that of Lord Byron. Svo. pp. 15.

Price Is. Gale and Co. 1915. THIS second Ode, written in imitation of many imitators,

on the model of Lord Byron's, is well designed, but the Author does not appear much accustomed to clothe his thoughts in the diotion of poetry: Imitations, in general, only serve to reflect the faults of the original. The abruptness of style, the boldness of ellipsis, and the intensity of expression, which give a somewhat too prominent manner to Lord Byron's poems, infallibly betray the parodist into obscurity and incorrectness. Authors of bad imitations might frequently have succeeded

a

better in the natural expression of their feelings. Such a production as the present, lowever, may plead exemption from the severity of criticism. The reader shall judge of its merits, from the following stanzas.

• 'Tis donea Felon yesterday,

And pacing round his cage ;
And now he bursts the bars away,

And dares the battle's rage !
Again the foe of thousand thrones,
To build his own with hostile bones

He rushes to engagem
No human madness ever fell
So fatal'tis a fire of hell!
• Ill-coupled Fiend-go seek thy kind,

What inore can man bestow ?
Thy withering name has filled the wind,

And blasted all below.
And wouldst thou still unsated rave,
A mightier pander of the grave?

Can guilt so gorged yet grow?
Alas! for life of wandering man
When more of thee must curse his span !
• And must the brave blood flow for him

Who calls no drop his own?
A calx of hate each recreant limb,

His heart a central stone!
Wake Freedom !-all to manhood dear!
A wretch without a human tear,

Save for a sinking throne,
Comes scattering to the burden'd wind

Each sympathy that links mankind !'-Stanzas I. II. X. We must confess that the last stanza of the Ode is to us unintelligible.

Art. VIII. The History of Little Davy's New Hat. With En- .

gravings. 18mo. pp. 64. price 2s. Darton and Co. 1815. A SIMPLE story adapted to village children, to teach

those whose parents are wealthy, to be kind and charitable, and those who are poor, to bear disappointments with patience. There are touches of nature in this rural tale, an artlessness of expression, and an air of intimacy with the short and simple annals of the poor,' which sufficiently designate the author, whose initials, R. B. are atfixed to the Preface: but the reader, to be pleased with it, must descend in feeling to the level of childhood and poverty, and fancy he is listening to the tones which bad power in infancy to fix his attention to the most humble incidents of real life. Children, in these cases, are

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »