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if, after so enchanting a festival, they complained because they had not got enough bread to eat.”
This last sentence is a type of the whole work. After we have been amused, if not edified, by the description of the religious festival, we are gently and indirectly led to remark that the upshot of all this superstitious folly is, that the government starves its subjects. There is no ambiguity in the conclusion to which M. About brings himself and his readers. He states plainly, what he proves by every variety of proof, that "the caste of ecclesiastics reigns in a conquered country.” The inhabitants are at war with the priests, and the priests with the inhabitants. M. About, indeed, would have us believe that the priests do not do the people any good, either as regards this world or the next. At any rate, in the cities the people are made positively irreligious by the religious system to which they are exposed. M. About tells a striking story to illustrate what the priests have made the people think of God. A boy from Rimini was driving him during his travels, and they began talking on a subject which led the boy to express his religious belief. “Dieu ? Je crois bien que, en a un, c'est un prêtre comme les autres.” Of course such stories never do any religious system full justice. A hundred stories could be brought on the other side, telling how the sick and penitent have been aided by the proximity of religious assistance. But this story of the boy of Rimini does not stand alone, and there are numberless other proofs adduced to show that the government of the priests is a source not only of suffering but of demoralisation. As the book proceeds, we quite sympathise with the contempt M. About feels for his enemies, and are prepared for the careless indifference with which at the end he discusses the difficult question, What is to be done with the Pope? He comes to the conclusion arrived at in the Emperor's famous pamphlet. The Pope might, he thinks, keep the city of Rome, and retain his palaces, temples, cardinals, priests, princes, and lackeys; Europe would provide sustenance for this little colony, “Rome,” he
goes say with lively irony,“ would then be encircled with the respect of the universe as with a Chinese wall, and would be, so to speak, a foreign body in the midst of free and living Italy. The country would not suffer from it more or less than a veteran suffers from a ball that his surgeon has forgotten to extract.” Good-humoured contempt can scarcely go further than this.
So far as the style of such a work can be separated from the matter, the style is as nearly like the style of Voltaire as 2 modern style, free from direct imitation, can be like the style of an author who wrote a century ago. There are many pass
ages in La Question Romaine which have at once the ease, the sparkle, and the malice of Voltaire-passages in which the style is every thing, and yet where the effect goes beyond any thing that style alone can produce, because the matter lends weight to the style. There is, for instance, a description of the Roman lottery system, which is somewhat tinged perhaps with the misrepresentation and irreverence of Voltaire, but is as striking and as effective as if Voltaire had written it. The evils of lotteries, when patronised by the government, have been exposed over and over again. It is also very obvious that these evils seem more glaring when the government that patronises the lottery is composed of the teachers of the Gospel. To have said that, in spite of this, the lotteries are maintained because they feed the papal treasury, would have been true, but commonplace. The wit and the animosity of M. About suggested to him a much more telling way of attacking the patronage which the pontifical authorities bestow on lotteries. He assumes that this patronage is bestowed because lotteries have such good religious effects, and exemplify with such curious felicity the doctrines preached by the priests. The lottery, he says, is not only a consolation for the poor, but in the States of the Church it forms a very appropriate part of public education. “It habituates the people to believe in miracles, by showing how beggars may be enriched as if by magic. A good ticket is like a present from Heaven; it is so much money fallen from the sky. The people know that no human effort can ensure three particular numbers being drawn; so they count only on the Divine goodness: they apply to the Capuchins to get them good numbers; they undertake solemn acts of devotion; they humbly ask for the inspiration of Heaven before going to bed; they see in dreams the Madonna all covered with figures. Certainly it is a great and wholesome lesson for all. Those who gain learn to praise God for his bounties; those who lose are punished for having coveted temporal blessings. Thus all the world is benefited, and especially the government; for this game brings it in two millions a year, without reckoning the satisfaction of having discharged a duty” M. About writes in French, and not in English, and his neat sentences are rather flat when translated; but even a translation shows how much can be done by putting such a point in a telling way. We may suspect that the follies of the ticket-buyers are exaggerated, and we feel some uneasiness at religion being handled so lightly; but, at any rate, the main object of the writer is fully attained, and we pass away from the subject with a general impression that, in encouraging lotteries, the priests are even worse than we supposed.
This spring, M. About has published another political work
of a much slighter and more ephemeral character. It is called La Nouvelle Carte d'Europe, and contains a comic account of the mode in which he thinks the territory of Europe ought to be distributed among those who have claims on it. It is a pleasantry, or an extravagance, rather than a serious contribution to practical politics. A number of persons, each representing one of the chief European nations, are gathered together at the Hôtel du Louvre, and after dinner is over they agree to speak in the name of their several countries, and to say what each is prepared to give up and accept. A French captain is president, and every one else makes sacrifices and receives indemnities. The lady who represents England cedes Malta, Gibraltar, and Corfu, and gets Egypt. “I can promise you,” she says, “that henceforth there shall be no opposition to the construction of the canal. The great and generous English nation is incapable of hindering any work of general usefulness, when it would be to its own advantage to carry it out." France alone will take nothing. The captain explains that he does not want any more territory, but will devote himself to make his country happy and prosperous, to restoring the independence of the Assemblies and the liberty of the press. M. About asks us in his preface not to take his jokes for more than they are meant to be. He never intended this to be regarded as a serious work. The thoughts were passing through his mind, and he amused himself with fancying what he should like, and what he thought might be arranged, if every one was different from what they are and Europe
was an Utopia. Some of the thoughts lying at the bottom of this jocose distribution of the map of Europe are undoubtedly his real convictions. He thinks it true, and worth impressing on the European public, that if a general war is to be averted, there are nations which must make considerable sacrifices. He is also one of those persons who believe, or try to believe, that the present despotic and arbitrary character of the Empire is merely temporary, and that the time will soon come, if it is not come already, for the Emperor to change his part, and rule over a free people. But all in the pamphlet beyond these elementary thoughts is not entitled to be classed among the expressions of political opinion. It is written for the pleasure of writing it; and probably the hope of mystifying his readers was not among the least of the inducements which led M. About to compose it. The whole point of the thing, so far as it has a point, lies in the absence of any serious meaning, and in the license of fun which is taken with the subjects spoken of. The Pope, who in the more serious pages of La Question Romaine was merely confined to the walls of Rome, is now sent to Jerusalem, where he takes a cottage, and has Antonelli to live in the floor above him; as, he says, he should not feel quite comfortable unless he was under his old friend and counsellor. This is pure burlesque, and is meant to be so.
La Nouvelle Carte d'Europe bears the same relation to La Question Romaine that Germaine and the other stories of Paris life bear to Tolla and Le Roi des Montagnes. M. About is never himself when he gets away from the basis of facts which he has observed and collected. There is the same emptiness in this new pamphlet as there is in those of his novels where M. About only exhibits the amount of experience of life which is necessary for the composition of light comedy. The wit that is intended to compensate for this emptiness is generally lively, but it is sometimes strained. Perhaps the difference between the smart vagueness of this account of an imaginary party at the Hôtel du Louvre and the effective definiteness of M. About's account of the Papal States is worth studying on this side the water. English novelists are very fond of taking up political subjects and alluding to them more or less fully. But vague opinions on politics, however neatly put, are very worthless things; it is only when a novelist works as hard as ordinary dry politicians work that his book is instructive and valuable. Brilliancy of style and a ready sense of the comic are most admirable adjuncts when they accompany such an amount of honest investigation and shrewdness of perception as are displayed in works like M. About's Question Romaine and Mr. Trollope’s volume on the West Indies. But vague speculations on politics are generally worse when they proceed from a novelist than when they come from more prosaic men; for they are aided by the story and the style, and a needless degree of suspicion is engendered lest they should possibly have more in them than they appear to have. We must do M. About the jistice to say that he is well aware of this, and that he seems to see as distinctly as could be wished that when he is embodying the floating dreams or opinions of the day in funny or epigrammatic sentences, he is not doing a very great or useful thing. Without saying any thing severe of fugitive productions like his last, we may express a hope that when he next takes up his pen he may employ it to a better purpose. The pamphlet on Prussia, which has recently appeared with his name, has so evidently been written to order, that we need not criticise it further than to regret that he has abandoned the position of an independent writer; and to remark that he does not seem to have placed much brilliancy of style at the command of the government in return for the thoughts that were communicated to him.
ART. II.-THE NATURAL HISTORY OF THE ANCIENTS.
The History of Herodotus. A new English version, edited with
copious Notes and Appendices, illustrating the History and Geography of Herodotus, from the most recent sources of information, and embodying the chief results, historical and ethnographical, which have been obtained in the progress of Cuneiform and Hieroglyphical discovery. By George Rawlinson, M.A., late Fellow and Tutor of Exeter College, Oxford ; assisted by Col. Sir Henry Rawlinson, K.C.B., and Sir J. G. Wilkinson, F.R.S. In four
volumes. Vol. II. London: John Murray, 1858. A History of the Literature of Ancient Greece. By K. O. Müller,
late Professor in the University of Göttingen; continued, after the Author's death, by John William Donaldson, D.D., Classical Examiner in the University of London, and late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 3 vols. London, 1858. Chapter xl. :
“ Aristotle.” Aristotelis Opera omnia quæ extant uno volumine comprehensa,
sejunctis quantum potuit ab genuinis suppositiciis, genuinia autem rectius quam antehac factum ordinatis, præmissa introductione cum argumentorum conspectu, adjectoque rerum indice. Edidit Carolus Hermannus Weise. Lips. 1843.
The history of the physical sciences exhibits something of that periodic character, that tendency to come back to the sane point, which marks so many human affairs, from the merest trifles of dress and fashion to the deepest thoughts and feelings of mankind. A comparison of the earliest youth and the present mature age of these sciences might almost make us think that we have made little advance; at any rate, it might be suf. ficient to check that inordinate self-satisfaction with which men ignorant of all time and all knowledge that is past are too apt to regard the time and the knowledge that is present.
The physical sciences begin, as they end, in the widest generalities; they begin, not as the sciences, but as science. The thoughts of the ancient naturalists may have been inaccurate or false, but they were thoughts about the prima philosophia, which is the highest and ultimate development of all knowledge. If science seems thus to spring up as a single and unbroken stream, it is destined, after many and wide separations, after many stagnant shallows and dangerous rapids, at last to form again one single stream, and to flow in one undivided channel. The connection of the sciences is only another phrase for the