Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

opportunity treacherously to occupy the city, and to reduce prince and people alike to bondage. Later in the century, the Dauphiny, or county of Vienne, was bequeathed by its last prince to the eldest son for the time being of the king of France, to be held as a separate sovereignty with the title of Dauphin. This of course soon sunk into actual annexation. Lewis XI., in the next century, seized upon the county of Provence by a pretended hereditary right. The way to this acquisition was doubtless considerably smoothed by the fact that the sovereign counts had for some generations been princes of the blood-royal of France. Bresse and Bugey, part of the dominions of Savoy, were acquired by Henry IV. in exchange for the French claims on the marquisate of Saluzzo. The little state of Orange was obtained in 1732 by exchange with Prussia. The county of Burgundy was first acquired in the fourteenth century, like Navarre, by a hereditary claim; but, like Navarre, or like llanover in the case of our own kings, it was separated again before it had been really incorporated with the French monarchy. It was not till the days of Lewis XIV. that, after many vicissitudes, the once sovereign county-palatine of Burgundy, and the once free imperial city of Besançon, were finally engulfed in the Charybdis of French domination. At the breaking out of the French Revolution all that had escaped of the Burgundian kingdom was the duchy of Savoy, the western cantons of Switzerland, the bishopric of Basel, the republic of Geneva, and the papal possessions of Avignon and Venaissin, long surrounded by earlier annexations. All these were swallowed up by the revolutionary torrent; but all save the Papal territory recovered their independence by the settlement of 1814-15. The last act as yet of the drama, one surpassed in perfidious baseness by none which have gone before it, has been just performed beneath our own eyes.

It is, we think, not only curious as a piece of past history, but really important as a matter of present politics, to trace the gradual stages of French aggression in this quarter. A steady course of aggrandisement has been carried out for five hundred years, and the policy of the Capet has been continued by the Buonaparte. The first step was taken by Philip the Fair, the father of the old royal tyranny; the last step as yet has fallen to the lot of the kindred genius of Louis Napoléon ;-we say the last step as yet, because it is impossible to believe that a voluntary check will be put on a settled scheme which is now all but accomplished. There is no difference in principle between the absorption of Savoy and Nizza and the absorption of Vaud and Neufchâtel. Whatever arguments justify the one would with an equally “irresistible logic” justify the other. We are told that Nizza and Savoy are provinces “essentially French ;" they can be so only in a sense in which Geneva and Lausanne, we might add Brussels and St. Helier's, are essentially French also. Those obligations of treaties which guarantee the independence and neutrality of Switzerland are not more sacred than those which guarantee that neutrality of northern Savoy, without which the independence of Switzerland is a name. That this scheme of aggrandisement, that all schemes of aggrandisement, are solemnly denied, proves about as much as was proved some months ago by the no less solemn denial of all designs upon Savoy. We have long learned how to trust the man whose lips uttered the words “ Je le jure," and who kept the oath by a December massacre.

In short, among a crowd of ancient and independent states which have been gradually swallowed up, one alone remains. Switzerland, the very home and cradle of freedom, is the last remnant of the many centres of political life which once existed between the Rhone and the Alps. Marseilles, Lyons, Besançon, were once as free as Bern and Geneva. The imperial Rabshakeh may stand before the still unattacked citadel of freedom, and point to the lands which he has destroyed utterly, and ask in his pride if the remnant which is left shall venture to hope for deliverance. French cannon bristling on the shores of the Lake of Geneva can be pointed in one direction only,—that direction which French aggression has been constantly taking since the banner of the fleur-de-lys first showed itself east of the Rhone. It remains for Europe to determine whether it will sit by and see the perpetration of a wrong before which the annexations of Provence and Lorraine, and of Savoy itself, would sink into insignificance.

We have thus traced out the long history of Parisian aggression; but, in common justice, we must make one remark on the other side. We said at the outset that, except for the monstrous deceptions by which it is always defended, the aggressions of France are in no way more guilty than the aggressions of other powers; in one important respect France has much less to answer for than other conquering states. To be conquered by France has been at all times a less immediate evil than to be conquered by Spain, Austria, or Turkey. A province conquered by France has always been really incorporated with France: no French conquests have ever been kept in the condition of subject dependencies; their inhabitants have at once been admitted to the rights and the wrongs, the good and the evil fortune of Frenchmen, and have had every career offered by the French monarchy at once opened to them. No French acquisition has ever been kept in the state in which Spain kept the Netherlands, in which Austria has kept Hungary and Lom

а

geogra

bardy, in which the whole Ottoman empire is kept to this day. Savoy will lose much by its transfer from the rule of constitutional Sardinia to that of despotic France, but there is no fear of its being reduced to the condition of Venetia. The phical position of all the French conquests, except Corsica, has of course tended to this complete incorporation, as well as that inherent spirit of French centralisation which tends to obliterate all local distinctions. One must allow that, if conquests are to be made, this is a generous and liberal as well as a prudent way of conquering. But it has its bad side also. The inhabitants of a French conquest become Frenchmen, and swell the ranks of the aggressors. The subtle process of denationalisation cuts off that hope of undoing the evil work which always exists when a country is kept down under an avowed foreign tyranny. One cannot doubt that, when a portion of the Spanish Netherlands was seized by Lewis XIV., the inhabitants found an immediate gain in becoming an integral part of France, instead of a distant dependency of Spain. But the immediate gain has been an ultimate loss; had those provinces then remained to the house of Austria, they would now swell the strength of independent Belgium. So Elsass has not suffered at the hands of France as Hungary has suffered at the hands of Austria ; but the hope of seeing an independent Hungary is a hope far less wild than that of seeing Elsass once more a member of a German confederation or empire. The very best side of French aggression makes us feel the more sadly that there are vestigia nulla retrorsum.

We have thus done our best to show that Parisian France in no way represents ancient Gaul or Carolingian Francia. France and the French are a modern power and a modern nation, of which we see the first glimmerings in the ninth century, and which attain something like a definite and lasting position in the tenth. France is essentially an artificial, advancing state, just like Sardinia and Prussia in more recent times. When mayors and bishops hail Louis Napoléon as the “successor of Pepin and Charlemagne,” they are asserting a palpable untruth. Modern Europe contains no real 'successor of either; but least of all is the successor of the elected King of Aachen, the crowned Cæsar of Rome, to be looked for in the upstart usurper of Paris. The work of Charles was to make Italy and Gaul alike subject to a German monarch. No work could less call forth our sympathies at the present moment; but no work could be more alien to the process of extending the frontiers of the Celt of Paris over Italian, Burgundian, and Teutonic lands. Italy, in the eighth century and in the tenth, invoked a German king as her deliverer from her intestine troubles. No such

a

remedy now is needed. She can now work her deliverance for herself, and she no more heeds the hypocritical friendship of the Gaul than the open enmity of the Austrian. Before our eyes is growing up an Italian kingdom truer and freer than that of Charles and Otto, than that of Berenger and Hugh of Provence; and, with a slight change of name and style, we may apply to its first and chosen sovereign the words of the papal benediction to Charles himself. Not altogether for his own sake, not forgetting the tortuous and faithless policy which bartered away the old cradle of his house, still, as to the representative of Italian unity, we may say with heart and voice, Victori Emmanueli, a Deo coronato, magno et pacifico Italoruin Regi, Romanorum Imperatori futuro, vita et victoria !”

ART. II.-THE ENGLISH TRANSLATORS OF HOMER.

The Iliad of Homer, faithfully translated into unrhymed English metre.

By F. W. Newman. London: Walton and Måberly, 1856. The Iliad of Homer, translated into blank verse. By Ichabod Charles

Wright, M.A., translator of Dante, late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. Books I.-VI. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co.

1859. We have been told, on no less authority than that of Lemuel Gulliver, that, when the Laputan necromancer gratified him by summoning from the shades Homer, at the head of all his commentators, " it was soon discovered that he was a perfect stranger to all that numerous company, and had never seen or heard of them before;” and it was whispered, “ that these commentators always kept in the most distant quarters from their principals in the lower world, through a consciousness of shame and guilt, because they had so horribly misrepresented their authors' meaning to posterity.”*

Had the great satirist been gifted with prophetic vision to reach to our own time, he might have seen much to make him modify this judgment, much on the other hand to steep his pen in yet deeper gall. Buttmann, Passow, and Nitsch need not perhaps have shrunk from looking their author in the face, as did Eustathius and Didymus; but the whole lower world would be scarce wide enough to find a lurking-place for those German critics who denied his individuality altogether, and deemed him the mere name for an imaginary compiler of a patchwork poem. What would Swift have said of the translators, especially

Voyage to Laputa, ch. viii.

a

1

those of his own language? Little enough, we fear, and that little the reverse of complimentary; yet there existed then English versions which even now hold their own, and may probably never be wholly superseded; though no translator, either then or since, seems to have forced upon his successors the belief that it was either a hopeless or a needless task to attempt to tread again over the same well-worn ground. Even Chapman had his predecessor; but he improved him off the face of the earth: his own archaic quaintness and Elizabethan conceits shocked the ears of the age of Dryden and Pope; their conceits, in turn, so far more false and frigid, their purpurei panni of laboured antithetical rhetoric, offended the simpler taste of Cowper; and Cowper in our own day has found his rivals, urged by the consciousness of a sounder scholarship or a more vigorous spirit, to strive to reproduce in stronger or more faithful colours the picture which seemed, despite all its merits, to be so feeble a copy of its great original. How far the last competitors in this field of fame have succeeded, it will be the object of the present article to show; but it may be well to preface the inquiry by a short historical sketch of the labours of past generations.

It would seem, as we have already said, that the honour of having been the first introducer of Ilomer to the English reader is not claimed by Chapman, as a translation of ten books of the Iliad from the French of M. Salel, by A. H. (Arthur Hall, Esq.), of Grantham, appeared in 1581. The author compliments the distinguished translators of the day,—Golding, Phaier, and others, -and states that he began the work about 1563, under the advice of Roger Ascham. We have never seen the book, which is exceedingly rare; and we are indebted for these facts to the introduction to the last new edition of Chapman, whence we also learn that Chapman himself published parts of the Iliad in 1598, and the complete version probably in 1611; the first twelve books of the Odyssey in 1614, and the whole Iliad and Odyssey collected into one volume in 1616. His work, once also rare, is now again within reach of all, having been twice lately republished, -the Iliad by Dr. Taylor, in 1813, and the whole by Mr. Hooper in 1858. We intend to bring before our readers several specimens, which will give the reader a far better idea of his merits than any cut-and-dried criticism that we could offer. Indeed, it would be hard to improve on the well-known judgment of Charles Lamb: “He would have made a great epic poet, if, indeed, he had not abundantly shown himself to be one; for his Homer is not so properly a translation as the stories of Achilles and Ulysses re-written. The earnestness and passion which he has put into every part of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »