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tions are rare and remarkable among the bourgeoisie, we believe, the case is different,—they are too busy for a life of dissipation and intrigue. That, in the vast majority of instances, these liaisons have their origin—not, as among the Italians, in genuine and absorbing passion, nor, as among the Germans, in blended sentimentality and sense, but—in vanity, want of occupation, and love of excitement on the part of the men, and in love of admiration, and (what is worse) mere love of luxury, on the part of the women,—whose suitors furnish those means of extravagance which their husbands refuse ; and that this distinction is to be traced to the peculiar character and temperament of the nation. That into these liaisons the men appear habitually to import a coarseness and a cruelty, as well as an unchivalric and ungenerous roughness, indicating, not so much that they do not appreciate the sacrifice which the woman makes in giving herself to them, as that they do not believe it is any sacrifice at all. In fine, so little respect does
. there seem to be left for the feelings of women, so little belief in their virtue, so little trust in their sincerity or disinterestedness,--so completely have calculation, luxury, mutual contempt, and mutual mistrust, poisoned the tenderest relation of life and its purest passion—that the fitting epithet to apply to this phase of French society is not so much “immorality," as hideous and cancerous corruption.
We are little disposed to indulge in trite moralities, or rigid censoriousness, or stern condemnations in which is no tenderness for frailty and no mercy for repentance. But surely those who incline to think lightly of sacred ties and leniently of voluptuous indulgence and unlicensed attachments, may find a warning in these pictures of a social life where this lenience and levity are universal. They may see there how surely and how rapidly want of feeling follows want of principle; how disbelief in virtue grows out of experience in frailty; how scanty is the joy to be derived from the emotions of love when those emotions are reduced to their mere beggarly material elements, divorced from the redeeming spirit, and stripped of the concealing and mysterious drapery of fancy and of grace; and at what a fearful cost to heart and soul these feverish and wandering gratifications are purchased-how poor the article and how terrible the price,-a disenchanted world, a paralysed and threadbare soul, a past with no sweet and gentle memories, a future with no yearnings and no hopes.
It cannot be denied that the prevalence and wide circulation of such a popular literature as that of which we have endeavoured to portray the more characteristic features, is a fact
both fearful and momentous, whether we regard it as an indication or as an influence-as a faithful reflection of the moral condition of the people among whom it flourishes, or as the most powerful determining cause of that condition. The more inherent and universally diffused excellencies and defects of national character may, we believe, be discerned more truly in the favourite dramas and novels than in any other productions of the national mind. They show the sort of recreation which is instinctively recurred to when the tension of pursuit and effort is relaxed - the natural tendency of the unbent bow. They also show the food which is habitually presented to the people by those who are familiar with their appetites and tastes, in their most impressible and passively recipient moods. And what justifies us in drawing the most condemnatory and melancholy conclusions from the multiplication and success of the works we have been considering is, that they are characteristic, and not exceptional. They are not the repast provided by an inferior class of writers for the interest and amusement of an inferior class of readers. They form the light reading, the belleslettres of the vast majority-of the generality, in fact-of educated men and women. They indicate the order of thoughts and fancies to which these habitually and by preference turn, the plots which interest them most, the characters which seem to them most piquant or most familiar, the reflections which stir their feelings the most deeply, the principles or sentiments by which their actions are most usually guided, the virtues they most admire, the vices they most tolerate;—they reflect, in a word, the daily life and features of themselves, and of the circles in which they live and move.
These productions, too, for the most part, are written with great power and beauty, often with as much elevation of sentiment as is compatible with the absence of all strict principle and all definite morality. There is plenty of religion, and much even that is simple, touching, and true; but it is religion as affection and emotion-never as guide, governance, or creed. There is some reverence and much gratitude towards God; but little idea of obedience, sacrifice, or devotion. There is adulation and expectation, rather than worship or service. Then, again, there is vast sympathy with the suffering and the poor,—deep and genuine, if often irrational and extravagant; but it commonly degenerates into senseless animosity towards the rich, lawless hatred of settled institutions, and frantic rebellion against the righteous chain of cause and effect which governs social well-being. There are delineations of 'raptúrous, irreproachable, almost angelic, love; but some unhallowed memory,
or some disordered association, almost always steps in to stain the idol and to desecrate the shrine. There are eloquence, pathos, and fancy in rich profusion; characters of high endowment and noble aspiration; scenes of exquisite tenderness and chaste affection; pictures of saintly purity, heroic daring, and martyr-like devotion ;-but something theatrical, morbid, and meretricious mingles with and mars the whole. There is every flower of Paradise,
“ But the trail of the serpent is over them all." The grandest gifts placed at the service of the lowest passions ; -the holiest sentiments and the fondest moments painted in the richest colours of the fancy, only to be withered by cynical doubt or soiled by cynical indecency ;—the most secret and sacred recesses of the soul explored and mastered, not for reverential contemplation of their beauties and their mysteries, but in order to expose them, with a hideous grin-naked, sensitive, and shrinking-to the desecrating sneers of a misbelieving and mocking world :—such is the work which genius must stoop to do, when faith in what is good, reverence for what is pure, and relish for what is natural, have died out from a nation's heart!
ART. VIII.-BARON RICASOLI AND HIS POLITICAL
Atti e Documenti editi e inediti del Governo della Toscana dal 27
Aprile in poi. Firenze, 1860. 3 vols. fcap. 8vo. Į Contemporanei Italiani. Bettino Ricasoli. Per F. Dall'Ongaro.
Torino, 1860. Pp. 74. The remarkable collection of state-papers recently published by order of the Tuscan government, and comprising not only the various laws, decrees, and proclamations which appeared successively in the columns of the official gazette, and on the walls of the cities of Tuscany, but also a large number of the before unpublished and more private papers of the administration, extends to the last day of the year 1859. Rarely have the governing powers of any country been so much in a hurry to lay before the world an account of their stewardship. Similar matters are ordinarily permitted to pass into the domain of the historian only when the actors in them and their immediate descendants have long since gone beyond the reach of praise or blame,—when there is no longer any danger of "wounding personal susceptibilities.” And truly it has rarely, if ever, happened that any discoverer of diplomatic secrets has revealed them to the world without revealing what is eminently calculated to wound the susceptibilities of all connected with them. But the Tuscan government,-or governments rather, for the administration of the province has already passed through several phases,—seem to be less susceptible. Here is the complete account of their doings printed at the press of the official gazette, while the matters referred to are yet absolutely passing; and that too at a time of historical crisis, when prejudices and passions are inflamed, and the line of policy which appears wise, honourable, and upright to one portion of the nation, is certain of being deemed the exact reverse of this by another. No future historian of the passages in the national life of Italy now being enacted before our eyes need fatigue himself by peering into yellow and musty archives in search of the true facts of the story he has to tell. He will discover in them nothing more than the publication now prepared by the actors of it for his use can tell him. The materials of history are here at least unadulterated and ungarbled.
The period of eight months and three days comprised in the three volumes of which we have been speaking falls naturally into five divisions, following the successive modifications in the form of the Tuscan government necessitated by the abrupt and unanticipated conclusion of the previous régime. To one looking back over that far bygone time, sixteen months ago, it seems now a marvel almost unaccountable that these phases of government should have been able to succeed each other in due and orderly process of development, each from its predecessor, under the circumstances of the case. No man in the country, including the late Grand-Duke himself, could, at noon of the 27th of April 1859, have calculated with any certainty on his abandoning it at six p.m. that same evening. No sort of provision or preparation had been made for such a cataclysm of the whole governmental machine. James II. left at least a parliament behind him. Tuscany, when abandoned by the Duke, was reduced to a state of social dissolution. But the old civilisation came in aid to the cradle of the new. Florence, if nothing else, was still a municipality. The members of the municipality betook themselves to the old “Palazzo Municipale” as naturally as if it had been the fourteenth instead of the eighteenth century; and “at half-past seven p.m.,"—just
an hour and a half after the Duke had left the city,-signed the appointment of a provisional government.
This was the first phase. And its duration was as short as the most sincere desire on the part of those on whom power was thus conferred, to return to a more normal state of things, could make it. On the 28th of April, the day after the sudden revolution, the triumvirate, in whose hands the powers of government had been placed, addressed a communication to Count Cavour, begging him to request the King of Sardinia to assume the dictatorship of Tuscany during the war of Italian independence. No arrangement, or even proposition, is put forward respecting the ultimate destiny of the country. “Tuscany would wish," they write, “to preserve meanwhile, even during this transitory period, its autonomy, and an administration independent of that of Sardinia. And the definitive settlement of the country will be arranged when the war is ended, and when the general constitution of Italy shall be determined on.” On the 30th of April Count Cavour, in a despatch communicated to the provisional government by Signor Boncompagni, who had been the Sardinian minister at the court of the GrandDuke, on the 4th of May, replies, that for reasons of state, which will be readily comprehended, the King cannot accept the dictatorship proposed to him; but that his Majesty is willing to undertake the supreme command of the Tuscan forces for the assistance and forwarding of the great object they all had in view, and to assume a protectorate of Tuscany, delegating the necessary powers to his ambassador Boncompagni, with the title of Commissary-Extraordinary for the War of Independence. On the 11th of May the triumvirate, who had held the provisional government, formally resigned their powers into the hands of the king's commissary, in the Palazzo Vecchio ; and thus commenced the second phase of the revolutionary period.
The third was marked by the cessation of the protectorate assumed by Victor Emanuel, and of the powers intrusted to the Commissary - Extraordinary; and by the transmission of all the powers of government to a council composed of the existing Tuscan ministers. This change took place at that moment of bitter disappointment, and of all but despair, which followed the peace of Villafranca. “Grave considerations of political expediency,” the Tuscans were told, prevented the sovereign of their choice from consenting to their desire that he should continue his connection with them, slight and abnormal as the conditions of that connection had been. A royal letter of the 21st of July had enjoined the CommissaryExtraordinary to hand over the government of Tuscany “to one