Изображения страниц

and civilisation. It may seem strange that a cordial friendship between the two nations should be most safe and most firmly cemented under the heir of France's most warlike monarch and England's most unrelenting enemy; but such we believe to be the case. We have had ample experience how precarious was that alliance under other dynasties; we can well understand that ministries and governments dependent on popular favour must be easily swayed to war and evil by the gusts of popular jealousy and passion, and that only a strong government can afford to be wise and conscientious; we conceive Louis Napoleon to be far too sagacious not to perceive that his own interests and those of France equally dictate the most faithful and resolute adherence to a union which has already done so much for both; we think that his views have grown far soberer and wider since he had to deal with the grand realities of empire; and we are satisfied that he values the political character and moral rank he has attained by his honourable and straightforward conduct towards this country, and by the brilliant reception which it won for him last spring, far too much to risk it by any deviation from his recent course. As to one thing the testimony of every British statesman is consentaneous and unhesitating that the diplomatic intercourse of the Emperor has throughout been frank and loyal in the extreme, and that they cannot say as much for any minister who ever previously managed the foreign policy of France.

It may be expected that we should say something as to the prospects of duration of the imperial dynasty in France. Even if we had any decided opinions on the matter, however, we should hesitate to express them; for to speak positively of the probable course of events is rarely seemly, and would be especially rash in the case of any foreign country; how much more in the case of a land where the "chapter of accidents" is always so rich as it is in France! All we can venture to do is to state a few of the considerations pro and con, gathered from the much we have heard, and the little we have been able to observe. On the one hand, people still repeat, as they have done for four years, que cela ne durera pas; but they repeat it with a less air of conviction, and more as if it were a wish than a belief. Then some symptoms of opposition have begun to appear from time to time, in the Corps Législatif, in the Académie, and in the Collège, as during the lectures of Saint Beuve; though they have not come to any serious demonstrations. Still, as we heard remarked by one observer, though few distinct facts can be alleged to indicate that the house is in danger of falling, the chinks are wider and more perceptible. Then, again, the dread of the Rouges, which

was for long one of the greatest sources of his power, is dying away, more in consequence of the length of time which has elapsed without any fresh indication of their activity, than from any rational ground for believing that they have ceased to be dangerous. Three causes especially have increased the alienation of the upper classes from Louis Napoleon, and go far to warrant the deep hatred felt towards him by the educated and self-respecting of all the old parties. One is the minute and omnipresent interference by which he has reduced to insignificance men and families who formerly had much local and provincial influence. A second is his alleged meddling with the regular course of both civil and criminal justice; an allegation which we fear cannot be wholly denied, and to which the dependence of the judges upon his good pleasure gives a primâ facie support. But what has most of all roused against his government the bitter animosity both of the haute société and of the real respectability and integrity of France, is the affluent display of the parvenus about the court, coupled with the notoriety of the low arts by which their wealth has been acquired. Scarcely any of the ministers, or men connected with the Emperor, are free from the reproach of stock-jobbing; their fortunes have been made, either by gross favouritism, or by speculations in the funds, which, in men placed as they are, and with sinister and secret means of information, is little short of swindling; and the riches thus questionably won are spent in a style of lavish and somewhat vulgar luxury, peculiarly offensive both to the taste and the poverty of the cultivated and the noble.

The character and conduct of his cousin and heir-presumptive are also a source of considerable embarrassment and of some danger to the Emperor. Plon-Plon, as he is usually called, is a man of low tastes and dangerous tendencies; clever enough, but utterly without principle or reputation; and he is so universally hated and despised (except by the republicans, who hope to use him), that the idea of his succeeding to the imperial throne is absolutely insupportable. He heads, moreover, a sort of subterranean and intriguing opposition to Louis Napoleon, who dare not leave him behind him in Paris, and yet cannot succeed in removing him for any time. Add to these causes for an unfavourable prognostication the uneasiness excited by the enormous expenditure of the Emperor's government, and the chances of disasters, or an inglorious termination to the war (which might at once be fatal); and we have elements enough to form a gloomy and uncertain future.

On the other hand, a succession of brilliant victories, crowned by a profitable and honourable peace, would do much to consolidate the Emperor's power, by gratifying both the army and

the nation. Indeed, many among that section of politicians in France who approve of the war-policy of Louis Napoleon almost dread his success for this very reason. Then, again, habit is gradually accustoming the people to his rule: the neck is fitting to the yoke. The bourgeoisie fancy that, war once ended, his strong repressive arm, by insuring order and tranquillity, will promote that material prosperity which is the very god of their idolatry; the peasantry are still his adherents, as much from ignorance as from enthusiasm; the ouvriers will be on his side as long as he can manage to find them constant and lucrative employment; and the priests will stand zealously by him as long as they can secure his support to their order. These are powerful allies; and the numbers of his agents, tools, and adherents scattered through the country will fight vigorously and labour hard to avert a catastrophe which they would share. But his principal reliance must ever be, as it ever has been, on his own character and talents. These have never been justly estimated: it was the fashion to underrate him formerly; it is the fashion to overrate him now. Personally we have had no means of judging, though we have gazed with intensest scrutiny on that hard, mean, sinister, impassive countenance, without one noble lineament or one genial expression; but we have had opportunities of ascertaining the judgments of several who have known him intimately and watched him long; and their opinions are neither doubtful nor discrepant. His forte lies in meditative habits and a strong volition. He has no genius; his education has been imperfect, and his knowledge is not great. His views are usually narrow, but sometimes singularly sagacious; and when he is on the right tack, his courage, coolness, deliberation, and unscrupulous resolution, give him enormous advantages. He seldom sees more than one thing at a time, and he never sees both sides of a question; but often gets hold of the right one, and then clings to it with bull-dog tenacity. Here, however, we must note a singularity which seems inconsistent with this feature in his character. He is tenacious, resolute, and vehemently imperious in carrying out the purpose of the hour, but this purpose often changes. One project or fancy succeeds another with strange and almost infantine rapidity. Hence, though any thing but vacillating, he is very changeable. He learns little from others; for he rarely listens to reasoning or exposition, though he is silent with an appearance of attention, while in reality he is thinking, not hearing; but whatever he can get at by reflection continuous and profound, whatever he can think out for himself by the patient elaboration of his own mind, that he will arrive at and make his own. In one point he is singularly at fault. He has slight insight into cha

racter, and is apt to choose his men ill. In this he is a striking contrast to his uncle, of whom Chateaubriand said, "C'est un bien grand découvreur d'hommes." His field of selection, to be sure, is deplorably limited by the alienation from him of all the notabilities of France; but he has been unfortunate or unskilful in nearly all the chief appointments he has made. If his natural capacity were greater, he would be a far safer man, and his course far more predictable. He has made the most of the faculties with which he was originally endowed; but these were both limited in range and incomplete in number, and it is impossible to say when they will fail him, or whither they may lead him. He is shrewd rather than sound; being, in fact, one of what the French call "special" men; he is an extraordinary man, in the sense of being unusual rather than being wonderful; he differs from other men far more than he surpasses them. It is impossible, therefore, to feel confident or at ease in reference either to his proceedings or his fate.


Phoenicia. By John Kenrick, M.A. London, B. Fellowes. 1855. Ir sounds paradoxical, but it is nevertheless perfectly true, that the further we recede from any given section in the wide field of the past-provided we still possess sources of information respecting it, and these continue to be diligently and critically usedthe more qualified we often become to understand it; the clearer the light we can throw on its obscurities; and the more sense we are able to extract out of statements which once baffled us as hopeless enigmas. No page in the great book of human history, which has any thing legible written on it, is turned over finally and for ever. Though again and again recurred to, it continues to yield fresh knowledge, proportionate to the intellectual resources of the mind which consults it. The reason of modern times is more sagacious and more exact in the interpretation of evidence than that of antiquity; and the critical faculty, from longer exercise, has acquired a more exquisite tact. Those contrasts and parallels which are indispensable to a distinct apprehension of the true import of any group of circumstances, are supplied in richer abundance from the wide and varied experience of former ages on which we can now look back; and the laws of social combination which have been deduced from a more extensive survey of social phenomena, place a new instrument of discovery in the hands of the philosophic inquirer, enabling him many times from

mere fragmentary indications to reconstruct an ancient fact-to infer, for example, the latent presence of an institution from the clear traces of effects which are known always to accompany it, or vice versâ to assume the effects from a passing notice of the institution. Direct and contemporary witnesses of past events possess of course a peculiar value; but they must be subjected to the cross-examining of a critical judgment not less than circumstantial evidence; and the latter may at times exist in such abundance, come from so many sources, and be stamped with so authentic a character, as almost to compensate the absence of the former.

In the whole compass of antiquity there is no people of whose interior life and social economy it would be more interesting to obtain a view, than the Phoenicians. The effect of their energy and enterprise on the future condition of the world is still perceptible. They first of the civilised people of the East applied a stimulus to the dormant susceptibilities of Hellenic culture, and furnished the conditions of its independent growth and rapid selfdevelopment. In their daring navigation and wide-extended commerce, in the resources and activity of their manufacturing industry, in the wealth and intelligence and political ascendency of their great mercantile aristocracy, they present many similitudes and suggest many affinities of the deepest interest to the form of society which exists among ourselves, and which is distinguished so broadly in the most striking of its features from the intervening civilisation of the Greeks and Romans. Egypt, Northern India and Ariana, from the vast antiquity into which their traditions run back, the impenetrable obscurity which invests the commencement of their social existence, and the monuments of dateless origin on which they have recorded the awakening consciousness of their nationality, carry with them an impression of the wonderful and mysterious which more powerfully affects the imagination; but they seem to belong to a primeval world with which we have no longer any concern; all that yet subsists of their wisdom and their industry does not come so home to us, does not stand in so intimate a relation to the still-enduring interests of our race, as the arts, the voyages, and the policy of the merchant-princes who anticipated by more than two thousand years, in the confederation of free cities which they founded at the foot of Lebanon, the commercial republics of Venice, Pisa, Genoa and Holland in the Christian period and the western world.

Of this remarkable nation we possess no native monuments, or next to none, to illustrate its origin and history. For our principal information we are indebted to the Greeks-Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus and Strabo-and to the Latins, Pomponius Mela and Justin, who have followed in their track. These wri

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »