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had been propelled with convulsive move- | in the decision by which the court of France ments toward the South and West. Since was allowed to head the coalition of 1741.
When the one object of expelling Walpole was attained, the very pretence of any public interest had been so completely thrown aside, that the treaties of Aix la Chapelle never once made mention of the right of search, nor contained any provision for regulating the contraband trade-though these alone had been the assigned causes of the war. It was not till Sir Benjamin Keene's Convention of 1750 that the chance of future embarrassments was obviated, by the abrogation of their fruitful-and, we may well add, shameless-parent, the Assiento Contract of 1713.
his death, in each of the three European wars that followed the peace of Utrecht-in the war of the Polish Succession, in that of the Austrian Succession, and in the Seven Years' War-Russia attempted to take part in the contest; she was, however, invariably and systematically excluded from a share in the final treaties which reunited the recognized members of the international commonwealth. Her assistance, indeed, was eagerly desired by all parties: but our ancestors regarded it with much the same jealousy and discredit which they would have attached to a league with the Turk against Christian powers, or with which an English govern- France was, if possible, still more entirely ment would have sought help from Abdel- without excuse for her share in the struggle; Kader against France. It was not till the and she never recovered the wounds she rewars of the Bavarian Succession, in 1779, ceived in it. By the party which supported that Frederic the Great, sinning grievously Belleisle in clamoring for war, the attack on against German interests, introduced Russian Maria Theresa had been proclaimed the natdiplomatists as guarantees of the Peace of ural consummation of the policy of Henry Teschen-treaties, renewing those of West- IV. and Richelieu. But there was never a phalia, with the guarantee of which, Russia more signal instance of the short-sighted has in consequence considered herself charg- haste which is incapable of distinguishing beed. In the present instance, ever since the tween the letter of a principle and its spirit death of Charles VI., the French and Eng- and application. When the House of Auslish ambassadors at Petersburgh had been tria was threatening to crush the developstruggling against each other's influence. ment of every weaker state in Christendom, At last, through the help of the Grand Chan- and was supported by the whole force of cellor Bestufcheff, the latter prevailed; and spiritual despotism, Henry IV.'s resistance agreeably to the Subsidy Treaties of 1747, to its usurpations was the cause, not of 67,000 Russians were ready to act against France only, but of Europe. Farther on, if France upon the Rhine. It would have been we except the advance of the French fronimpossible for the latter power to resist the tier and the extension of dynastic alliances, accession of strength which this contingent as reasonable objects for a wise ruler to purwould have given to Maria Theresa. But sue, the vaulting ambition of Louis XIV. tendthe presence of these dangerous allies quick-ed to aims which were strictly practical, and ened, perhaps on both sides, the negotiations it was ratified by the enthusiastic applause of Aix la Chapelle; and this tedious war of the whole nation. But, after the peace finally closed in 1748, without the accom- of Utrecht, the House of Austria had beplishment of any one of the objects for which come forever incapable of giving serious ofit had been begun. fence; her richest provinces had been annexed to France, and the ties which bound up with them the inviolate unity of the Holy Roman Empire had been rudely broken. The Austrian finances were exhausted; the remnant of Eugene's heroic life was passed in struggles with Charles II.'s ambitious flatterers, and the solemn triflers of the Aulic Council; the various leagues and alliances of the Rhine had abased the head of the empire to be the president of a rebellious and disorganized confederacy; and with the empire, the national spirit of Germany, so formidable to France, and so much dreaded by her, had lost all its terrors. Without some extraordinary impulse to force them back upon
England, indeed, lost little in this contest, except by the waste of troops and money, and from the discredit of having originally engaged in the Spanish War in obedience to an ignorant and interested clamor. Against our support of Maria Theresa nothing can be said. When no single continental court was found honest enough to refuse a share in the plunder of the House of Austria, England alone acted honorably up to her engagements. But the party which precipitated the original war with Spain is not therefore absolved from legitimate blame. It is impossible to doubt that our subsisting broil with that country was an important element
themselves and startle them into independent | affiliation) from that unjust war of the Ausaction, it seemed as if the nations between trian Succession. the Rhine and the Vistula would scarcely require even a passing notice from the vigilant diplomacy of France. Frederic William of Prussia (though in many respects a most undoubted and honorable exception to his brother kings) was absorbed in his passion for playing at soldiers. Saxony was involved in the endless squabbles of the Polish Diet. Hanover, after plundering Mecklenburgh, under pretence of pacifying it, was quarreling with Prussia over the booty.
But to French statesmen the House of Austria continued to be the same bugbearas if Tilly and Wallenstein still headed her armies; as if the imperial race still drew strength from Alsace and Franche Comté; as if its younger branches still ruled in Spain, and the Sicilies, and Milan, and Peru. To weaken this vanishing phantom, France plunged madly into the war, the diplomatic character of which we have briefly traced. She was rewarded by the creation of a new kingdom, which was destined to take the lead in Germany; and which may even yet be found the fittest element to regenerate the fallen empire. Frederic owed Silesia and Glatz to the co-operation of France, and to her inability to cope with his great capacity. The appearance of another first-class power in the European lists; the strength which carried Prussia through her subsequent struggle with Austria; the intense enthusiasm of German nationality which hailed the triumphs of Minden and Rosbach; the self-relying vigor which this nationality has since communicated to German society and German literature; the movement of the whole German race in the War of Independence; the growth of that doctrinaire school of modern Germany, whose most rooted prejudice is an antipathy to the very name of France-all these effects have followed (and we believe may be deduced by no indirect
Internally the consequences to France were as deplorable, and far more immediately disastrous. The national expenditure, which Fleury had succeeded in equalizing with the income, rose above it, never to be reduced. The royal navy, which, on the interruption of Fleury's conventions with Walpole, Maurepas had labored to revive, was so absolutely destroyed, that M. de Tocqueville assures us, at the peace* of Aix la Chapelle, France only possessed two ships of war! In the collisions between the French and English colonists were sown the seeds of the misunderstanding which, in the war of 1756, deprived France of Canada, and prepared the ruin of her flourishing establishments in Hindostan.
We have now sketched the two first of the three periods into which we divide the diplomatic history of France during the reign of Louis XV. The third period commences with the Peace of Aix la Chapelle, and the Austrian Alliance that followed. But the attitude which Europe then assumed was preserved, with some modifications, long after the death of Louis XV., and down to the Congress of Reichenbach, in 1790. It would be impossible for us (consistently with reasonable limits) now to give the events of these years, even in the merest outline. We can only hope that we may soon have an opportunity of doing so, by the appearance of a history of this later period, as candid and intelligent as M. de Tocqueville's "History of the Reign of Louis XV."
*The April supplement of the Revue des Deux Mondes contains a very able paper on the "French Marine of 1849;" and annexed to it is a table of the maritime armaments of France from 1675 to 1743; by which it appears that in 1717 (two years after the death of Louis XIV.) the maritime forces of France only numbered four vessels and 460 men. There are considerable fluctuations. But in 1736 the vessels were only 5; the men 280.
TO A LARK.
SOAR and sing, soar and sing,
With a light and rosy shroud: With thy flight my eye grows dimSoar, and sing thy morning hymn!
Would my soul, like thee, could rise,
VOL. XVIII. NO. IV.
From Hogg's Instructor.
BY THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
THE flight of our human hours, not really more rapid at any one moment than another, yet oftentimes to our feelings seems more rapid, and this flight startles us like guilty things with a more affecting sense of its rapidity, when a distant church-clock strikes in the night-time, or when, upon some solemn summer evening, the sun's disk, after settling for a minute with farewell horizontal rays, suddenly drops out of sight. The record of our loss in such a case seems to us the first intimation of its possibility; as if we could not be made sensible that the hours were perishable until it is announced to us that already they have perished. We feel a perplexity of distress when that which seems to us the cruelest of injuries, a robbery committed upon our dearest possession by the conspiracy of the world outside, seems also as in part a robbery sanctioned by our own collusion. The world, and the customs of the world, never cease to levy taxes upon our time that is true, and so far the blame is not ours; but the particular degree in which we suffer by this robbery depends much upon the weakness with which we ourselves become parties to the wrong, or the energy with which we resist it. Resisting or not, however, we are doomed to suffer a bitter pang as often as the irrecoverable flight of our time is brought home with keenness to our hearts. The spectacle of a lady floating over the sea in a boat, and waking suddenly from sleep to find her magnificent ropes of pearl-necklace, by some accident, detached at one end from its fastenings, the loose string hanging down into the water, and pearl after pearl slipping off for ever into the abyss, brings before us the sadness of the case. That particular pearl, which at the very moment is rolling off into the unsearchable deeps, carries its own separate reproach to the lady's heart. But it is more deeply re
proachful as the representative of so many others, uncounted pearls, that have already been swallowed up irrecoverably whilst she was yet sleeping, and of many besides that must follow, before any remedy can be applied to what we may call this jewelly hæmorrhage. A constant hæmorrhage of the same kind is wasting our jewelly hours. A day has perished from our brief calendar of days: and that we could endure; but this day is no more than the reiteration of many other days, days counted by thousands, that have perished to the same extent and by the same unhappy means, viz., the evil usages of the world made effectual and ratified by our own lacheté. Bitter is the upbraiding which we seem to hear from a secret monitor"My friend, you make very free with your days: pray, how many do you expect to have? What is your rental, as regards the total harvest of days which this life is likely to yield?" Let us consider. Threescore years and ten produce a total sum of 25,550 days; to say nothing of some seventeen or eighteen more that will be payable to you as a bonus on account of leap years. Now, out of this total, one-third must be deducted at a blow for a single item, viz., sleep. Next, on account of illness, of recreation, and the serious occupations spread over the surface of life, it will be little enough to deduct another third. Recollect also that twenty years will have gone from the earlier end of your life (viz., above 7000 days) before you can have attained any skill or system, or any definite purpose in the distribution of your time. Lastly, for that single item which, amongst the Roman armies, was indicated by the technical phrase corpus curare," tendance on the animal necessities, viz., eating, drinking, washing, bathing and exercise, deduct the smallest allowance consistent with propriety, and, upon summing up all these
appropriations, you will not find so much as four thousand days left disposable for direct intellectual culture. Four thousand, or forty hundreds, will be a hundred forties; that is, according to the lax Hebrew method of indicating six weeks by the phrase of "forty days," you will have a hundred bills or drafts on Father Time, value six weeks each, as the whole period available for intellectual labor. A solid block of about eleven and a half continuous years is all that a long life will furnish for the development of what is most august in man's nature. After that, the night comes when no man can work; brain and arm will be alike unserviceable; or, if the life should be unusually extended, the vital powers will be drooping as regards all motions in advance.
Limited thus severely in his direct approaches to knowledge, and in his approaches to that which is a thousand times more important than knowledge, viz, the conduct and discipline of the knowing faculty, the more clamorous is the necessity that a wise man should turn to account any INDIRECT and supplementary means toward the same ends; and amongst these means a chief one by right and potentially is CONVERSATION. Even the primary means, books, study, and meditation, through errors from without and errors from within, are not that which they might be made. Too constantly, when reToo constantly, when reviewing his own efforts for improvement, a man has reason to say (indignantly, as one injured by others; penitentially, as contributing to this injury himself), "Much of my studies have been thrown away; many books which were useless, or worse than useless, I have read; many books which ought to have been read, I have left unread; such is the sad necessity under the absence of all preconceived plan; and the proper road is first ascertained when the journey is drawing to its close." In a wilderness so vast as that of books, to go astray often and widely is pardonable, because it is inevitable; and in proportion as the errors on this primary field of study have been great, it is important to have reaped some compensatory benefits on the secondary field of conversation. Books teach by one machinery, conversation by another; and, if these resources were trained into correspondence to their own separate ideals, they might become reciprocally the complements of each other. The false selection of books, for instance, might often be rectified at once by the frank collation of experiences which takes place in miscellaneous colloquial intercourse. But other and greater
advantages belong to conversation for the effectual promotion of intellectual culture. Social discussion supplies the natural integration for the deficiencies of private and sequestered study. Simply to rehearse, simply to express in words amongst familiar friends, one's own intellectual perplexities, is oftentimes to clear them up. It is well known that the best means of learning is by teaching; the effort that is made for others is made eventually for ourselves; and the readiest method of illuminating obscure conceptions, or maturing such as are crude, lies in an earnest effort to make them apprehensible by others. Even this is but one amongst the functions fulfilled by conversation. Each separate individual in a company is likely to see any problem or idea under some difference of angle. Each may have some difference of views to contribute, derived either from a different course of reading, or a different tenor of reflection, or perhaps a different train of experience. The advantages of colloquial discussion are not only often commensurate in degree to those of study, but they recommend themselves also as being different in kind; they are special and sui generis. It must, therefore, be important that so great an organ of intellectual development should not be neutralized by mismanagement, as generally it is, or neglected through insensibility to its latent capacities. The importance of the subject should be measured by its relation to the interests of the intellect; and on this principle we do not scruple to think that, in reviewing our own experience of the causes most commonly at war with the free movement of conversation as it ought to be, we are in effect contributing hints for a new chapter in any future" Essay on the Improvement of the Mind." Watts's book under that title is really of little practical use, nor would it ever have been thought so had it not been patronized, in a spirit of partisanship, by a particular section of religious dissenters. Wherever that happens, the fortune of a book is made; for the sectarian impulse creates a sensible current in favor of the book; and the general or neutral reader yields passively to the motion of the current, without knowing or caring to know whence it is derived.
Our remarks must of necessity be cursory here, so that they will not need or permit much preparation; but one distinction, which is likely to strike on some minds, as to the two different purposes of conversation, ought to be noticed, since otherwise it will seem
to be the select conversation of the day, and we have heard many of those who figured at the moment as effective talkers; yet in mere sincerity, and without a vestige of misanthropic retrospect, we must say, that never once has it happened to us to come away from any display of that nature withintense disappointment; and it always appeared to us that this failure (which soon ceased to be a disappointment) was inevitable by a necessity of the case. For here lay the stress of the difficulty: almost all depends, in most trials of skill, upon the parity of those who are matched against each other.. An ignorant person supposes that, to an able disputant, it must be an advantage to have a feeble opponent; whereas, on the contrary, it is ruin to him; for he cannot display his own powers but through something of a corresponding power in the resistance of his antagonist. A brilliant fencer is lost and confounded in playing with a novice; and the same thing takes place in playing at ball; or battledore, or in dancing, where a powerless partner does not enable you to shine the more, but reduces you to mere helplessness, and takes the wind altogether out of your sails. Now, if by some rare good luck the great talker-the protagonist
doubtful whether we have not confounded | we have heard much of what was reputed them; or, secondly, if we have not confounded them, which of the two it is that our remarks contemplate. In speaking above of conversation, we have fixed our view on those uses of conversation which are ministerial to intellectual culture; but, in relation to the majority of men, conversation is far less valuable as an organ of intellectual cul-out ture than of social enjoyment. For one man interested in conversation as a means of advancing his studies, there are fifty men whose interest in conversation points exclusively to convivial pleasure. This, as being a more extensive function of conversation, is so far the more dignified function; whilst, on the other hand, such a purpose as direct mental improvement seems by its superior gravity to challenge the higher rank. Yet, in fact, even here the more general purpose of conversation takes precedency; for when dedicated to the objects of festal delight, conversation rises by its tendency to the rank of a fine art. It is true that not one man in a million rises to any distinction in this art; nor, whatever France may conceit of herself, has any one nation, amongst other nations, a real precedency in this art. The artists are rare indeed; but still the art, as distinguished from the artist, may, by its difficulties, by the quality of its graces, and by the range of its possible brilliances, take rank as a fine art; or, at all events, according to its powers of execution, it tends to that rank; whereas the best order of conversation that is simply ministerial to a purpose of use, cannot pretend to a higher name than that of a mechanic art. But these distinctions, though they would form the grounds of a separate treatment in a regular treatise on conversation, may be practically neglected on this occasion, because the hints offered, by the generality of the terms in which they express themselves, may be applied indifferently to either class of conversation. The main diseases, indeed, which obstruct the healthy movement of conversation, recur everywhere; and alike whether the object be pleasure or profit in the free interchange of thought, almost universally that free interchange is obstructed in the very same way, by the very same defect of any controlling principle for sustaining the general rights and interests of the company, and by the same vices of self-indulgent indolence, or of callous selfishness, or of insolent vanity, in the individual talkers.
Let us fall back on the recollections of our own experience. In the course of our life
of the evening has been provided with a commensurate second, it is just possible that something like a brilliant" passage of arms" may be the result, though much, even in that case, will depend on the chances of the moment for furnishing a fortunate theme; and even then, amongst the superior part of the company, a feeling of deep vulgarity and of mountebank display is inseparable from such an ostentatious duel of wit. On the other hand, supposing your great talker to be received like any other visitor, and turned loose upon the company, then he must do one of two things: either he will talk upon outré subjects specially tabooed to his own private use, in which case the great man has the air of a quack-doctor addressing a mob from a street stage; or else he will talk like ordinary people upon popular topics; in which case the company, out of natural politeness, that they may not seem to be staring at him as a lion, will hasten to meet him in the same style; the conversation will become general; the great man will seem reasonable and well-bred; but at the same time, we grieve to say it, the great man will have been extinguished by being drawn off from his exclusive ground. The dilemma, in short, is this: if the great talker attempts