Imágenes de páginas

Coalition. The highest admiration is due to the genius and heroism which wrought these wonders; nor is it any detraction to point out that, but for the Allies' numerous blunders, the result could never have trembled in the balance. But the arms and counsels of the Coalition were paralysed by mistrust and division; and the following passage, which discloses the spirit in which they opened this memorable campaign, explains the opportunities they afforded to the great soldier who lay in their path, and accounts in part for his splendid exploits:

For the moment, all plans are at a standstill. The army, which has marched nearly to Basle, may have to come back again ; in short, all is confusion. Schwarzenberg will write to you as soon as the plans are settled. God knows when that may be. His army is still moving, and in a very short time will be placed in échelon between Stockach and Basle. It is impossible for him, however, to enter France from thence, threading the needle between the fortresses of Hunningen, New Brisach, and Strasburg on one side, and the doubtful neutrality of Switzerland on the other. I cannot write more at this moment; you shall hear from me by the first opportunity.

You may guess how things are here by the contradictions in this letter. The Emperor Alexander three weeks ago was the most anxious for the occupation of Switzerland. The plan was formed upon that basis ; the army was moved. He has now tacked about, and God knows what will be undertaken.' (Vol. viii. p. 409.)

Such facts as these confirm our belief that the independent command of Wellington, and his occupation of the South of France, were amongst the main causes of the success of the Allies. Had he been merely a general of the Coalition, placed somewhere in Belgium or Lorraine, –a subordinate of Frederic William or Alexander,—his army might have been idly wasted in false manœuvres and disastrous operations, while Soult and Suchet must have been set free to act on the flank or rear of the Austrians. What would have been the probable result, had both these marshals been disengaged, and thrown upon the army of Schwarzenberg, while Napoleon was crushing' Blücher on the Marne, in a series of overwhelming victories ?

Before we close these interesting volumes, we would say a word of the evidence they afford of the Duke's capacity as a military administrator. When the British army came under his command, it was ill-organised for extensive operations, and antiquated in its structure and equipments; its commissariat arrangements were bad, a cumbrous material retarded its movements, and its general officers, though personally brave, were not habituated to active service. The following passage describes one of the chief of these deficiencies:

• I declare that I do not understand the principles on which our military establishments are formed, if, when large corps of troops are sent out to perform important and difficult services, they are not to have with them those means of equipment which they require and which the establishment can afford, such as horses to draw artillery, and drivers attached to the commissariat, when these means are not wanted at home; and what is more, considering that the number of horses and drivers in England, all of whom the public could command in case of emergency, never can be wanted excepting for foreign service.

ARTHUR WELLESLEY.' (Vol. vi. p. 87.)

And this is a somewhat humorous account of the value of some of the general officers who were to encounter Ney and Massena:

* Really when I reflect upon the characters and attainments of some of the general officers of this army, and consider that these are the persons on whom I am to rely to lead columns against the French generals, and who are to carry my instructions into execution, I tremble; and, as Lord Chesterfield said of the generals of his day, " I only hope that when the enemy reads the list of their names he “trembles as I do." and will be a very nice addition to this list! However, I pray God and the Horse Guards to deliver me from General and Colonel —' (Vol. vi. p. 482.)

By degrees, however, these ill-ordered elements were moulded into a structure, beyond comparison, for its size, the finest and most efficient in Europe. This great change was due, in part, to the general experience acquired by all, in part to the confidence derived from success, in part to the habit of perfect subordination which has always distinguished the British service, and in part to the stringent rules against pillage, which are a feature of our military system; but the main causes, beyond all dispute, were the ascendancy gained by Wellington over his troops and the active attention with which he regulated the numerous details of military administration. A full third of these volumes is taken up by orders and directions providing for the wants and improvement of the soldier, inculcating discipline and exercise in drill, and giving hints for the better arrangement of the various departments connected with the army. No just idea can be formed of the greatness of Wellington as a commander without consulting such records as these; and in this respect, as well as in judgment and forethought, he was not surpassed by any general of ancient or modern times. It would not, however, be possible to convey a notion of these great qualities by quoting extracts; and for full information upon the subject, our readers must search these important volumes.


ART. III. – 1. An Historical Survey of the Astronomy of the

Ancients. By the Right Honorable Sir GEORGE CORNE

WALL LEWIS. London: 1862. 2. Egypt's Place in Universal History. An Historical Inves

tigation, in five books. By CHRISTIAN C. J. BUNSEN, D. Ph. & D.C.L. Translated from the German by CHARLES

H. COTTRELL, Esq. M.A. Vols. III. and IV. London: 1859. THE He attempt to construct a Science of Astronomy appeared

to Socrates both impious and absurd. It involved an intrusion into things which the gods had veiled in impenetrable mystery; and the curiosity of man was rightly recompensed by a Babel of conflicting theories worthy only of a society of mad

For every problem each man had his own solution; and the utter want of agreement was itself the evidence that the end proposed was beyond the reach of human intellect. In the field of ethics it was possible to trace the connexion of cause and effect. Men might learn to know something of themselves and of others, and so to determine, in some degree, the principles of human action : to look for similar results in astronomy was a sign of the extremest folly. Time has curiously changed the terms of controversy. Metaphysical schools, which hold that a knowledge of motives would enable us to foretell the acts of men, yet admit that this knowledge is scarcely greater now than it was in the days of Socrates. The movements of the heavenly bodies are predicted with an exactness which has not been attained in any other branch of science; and the very completeness of the result has awakened in some a feeling not altogether unlike that of the Greek philosopher. Sir Cornewall Lewis does not look upon astronomical research as impious; but he regards the science as one of pure curiosity, directed exclusively to the extension of knowledge in a field which « human interests can never enter.'

The objection is partly answered in his own pages. be possible, on the Ptolemæan theory of the universe, to demonstrate a certain order in the outward world, and so to counteract those superstitious fears, the extinction of which he holds to be one of the chief uses or ends of all the physical sciences. But as long as the scientific hypothesis rested on a foundation which might fairly be regarded with some suspicion, even this end was not sufficiently attained. In accomplishing this, the Copernican system, as completed by Newton's theory of gravitation, would not have been without practical influence

It may

on the affairs of mankind, even if it had done no more; but the science which is the mother of the art of Navigation, and on which, consequently, the intercourse of man with man may be said to depend, cannot be dismissed with so curt a sentence of condemnation. The defence of modern astronomy is not, however, confined to its bearing on material interests. The direct education of the mind and spirit is a practical end well worth all the toil which can be bestowed upon it.* Whatever may be its future results, the past history of the science is connected with questions which, important at all times, have in our own day become questions of paramount interest. The history of almost every ancient people or nation professes to explain the origin and application of astronomical science. Roman tradition has its stories on the growth and changes of the calendar. With similar traditions, the history of Greece brings before us the theories of successive philosophers, and points to foreign lands as the sources of their scientific knowledge. We find the admission eagerly welcomed by the Egyptian priests, who boasted of observations extended over more than six hundred thousand years, and claimed to have unlocked the secrets of heaven to the star-gazers of Chaldæa. We find these in their turn vaunting the possession of observations taken during nearly fifteen thousand centuries; and, both in Egypt and in Syria, we have a history based upon these computations, running back to a time compared with which the remoteness of the Homeric or the Vedic age would be but as yesterday. The different versions of these chronicles, agreeing in little else, agree in extending the past existence of man over myriads of years. Their assertions may be inconsistent, but they are undeniably distinct. The lifetime of Menes may be dated three, or four, or five thousand years before the Christian era; but the unqualified assertion remains, that he was the first human king of Egypt, and that his successors can be severally named. Lists of these Egyptian and Assyrian dynasties have come down to us in the pages of old chroniclers or historians; and it has been reserved for the scholars of the last and the present century to compare these notices with national records and monuments long buried or forgotten. Their language was dead; the tradition of them had been lost for ages; but, in spite of overwhelming difficulties, the patience of modern research has recovered materials for reconstructing the old Egyptian history. By their aid the errors

For the method and results of modern practical Astronomy see an Article in a previous number of this Journal, vol. xci., on National Observatories.



of foreign writers and the deficiencies of their priestly teachers have been satisfactorily corrected; and scarcely a gap remains to be filled up between the Macedonian Ptolemies and the founder of the first Egyptian dynasty. Nay, the same data which have enabled French and German scholars to determine the course of history up to the time of Menes, have led Baron Bungen back to a period preceding that of Menes by more than 5,000 years, and have revealed to him the duration, not merely of the Egyptian people, but of the whole human race. The first place of human sojourn, the physical causes which drove men from their first abode, the origin of language and mythology, of religion and civil government, are among the discoveries which have solved for him the great problem of human existence, and furnished the reasons for which alone history is worth studying.

The field is vast, and, doubtless, it has great attractions. It is something to be able to connect the dim traditions of distant ages

with the conclusions of geology and the results of philological research. It is something to show how long man has lived upon the earth, what he has done during the several stages of his sojourn, and to what goal the human family is tending. Still, it is perfectly clear that no one thing can be proved on evidence which applies only to another. The building, which Baron Bunsen has ingeniously raised on the foundations laid by Champollion and his followers, is astonishing enough. We gaze with wonder, if not with awe, at the colossal walls for which Menes and Sesostris furnish bricks not less sound and solid than Amasis or Psammenitus. It is hard to withhold some admiration from a philosophy of history in which Semempsis and Miebaes become as real as Themistocles or Cleon, and in which the date of Nimrod, some ten thousand years before our era, can be fixed with scarcely less certainty than that of the Peloponnesian war. But the doubt yet remains whether history is really a fit subject for the happy exercise of divination and combination*, and whether we are justified in accepting the necessity of throwing ourselves without reserve into the mind and feelings of others on so slight a chain of evidence. If, in place of all other convictions and all other facts, we can substitute Bunsen's ideas on history generally and on Egypt's place in that history,—if we can accept a method which from several dates assigned to a king selects one, and then, finding the name of that king on a monument, assigns the latter to the date so obtained, then we may resign ourselves to Bunsen's guidance, and meekly believe that the Egyptians migrated into the land of the Nile thirteen thousand years ago, and that in the forma

* Egypt's Place, vol. i. p. 264.; vol. iii. p. 155.

« AnteriorContinuar »