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and of morality, but that it is in itself a high and exquisite happiness to which order, property, and morality ought without one scruple to be sacrificed. The lessons which may be learned from ancient history are indeed most useful and important; but they were not likely to be learned by men who, in all their rhapsodies about the Athenian democracy, seemed utterly to forget that in that democracy there were ten slaves to one citizen ; and who constantly decorated their invectives against the aristocrats with panegyrics on Brutus and Cato, - two aristocrats, fiercer, prouder, and more exclusive, than any that emigrated with the Count of Artois.
We have never met with so vivid and interesting a picture of the National Assembly as that which M. Dumont has set before us. His Mirabeau, in particular, is incomparable. All the former Mirabeaus were daubs in comparison. Some were merely painted from the imagination - others were gross caricatures : this is the very
individual, neither god nor demon, but a man a Frenchman, - a Frenchman of the eighteenth cen
tury, with great talents, with strong passions, depraved by bad education, surrounded by temptations of every kind, — made desperate at one time by disgrace, and then again intoxicated by fame. All his opposite and seemingly inconsistent qualities are in this representation so blended together as to make up a harmonious and natural whole. Till now, Mirabeau was to us, and, we believe, to most readers of history, not a man, but a string of antitheses. Henceforth he will be a real human being, a remarkable and eccentric being indeed, but perfectly conceivable.
He was fond, M. Dumont tells us, of giving odd compound nicknames. Thus, M. de Lafayette was
Grandison-Cromwell; the king of Prussia was AlaricCottin ; D’Espremenil was Crispin-Catiline. We think that Mirabeau himself might be described, after his own fashion, as a Wilkes-Chatham. He had Wilkes's sensuality, Wilkes's levity, Wilkes's insensibility to shame. Like Wilkes, he had brought on himself the censure even of men of pleasure by the pe: . culiar grossness of his immorality, and by the obscenity of his writings. Like Wilkes, he was heedless, not only of the laws of morality, but of the laws of honour. Yet he affected, like Wilkes, to unite the character of the demagogue to that of the fine gentleman. Like Wilkes, he conciliated, by his good humour and his high spirits, the regard of many who despised his character. Like Wilkes, he was hideously ugly ; like Wilkes, he made a jest of his own ugliness; and, like Wilkes, he was, in spite of his ugliness, very attentive to his dress, and very successful in affairs of gallantry.
Resembling Wilkes in the lower and grosser parts of his character, he had, in his higher qualities, some affinity to Chatham. His eloquence, as far as we can judge of it, bore no inconsiderable resemblance to that of the great English minister. He was not eminently successful in long set speeches. He was not, on the other hand, a close and ready debater. Sudden bursts, which seemed to be the effect of inspiration – short sentences which came like lightning, dazzling, burning, striking down every thing before them — sentences which, spoken at critical moments, decided the fate of great questions — sentences which at once became proverbs — sentences which everybody still knows by heart — in these chiefly lay the oratorical power both of Chatham and of Mirabeau. There have been far greater speakers, and far greater statesmen, than either
of them, but we doubt whether any men have, in niodern times, exercised such vast personal influence over stormy and divided assemblies. The power of both was as much moral as intellectual.
In true dignity of character, in private and public virtue, it may seem absurd to institute any comparison between them; but they had the same haughtiness and vehemence of temper. In their language and manner there was a disdainful self-confidence, an imperiousness, a fierceness of passion, before which all common minds quailed. Even Murray and Charles Townshend, though intellectually not inferior to Chatham, were always cowed by him. Barnave, in the same manner, though the best debater in the National Assembly, Ainched before the energy of Mirabeau Men, except in bad novels, are not all good or all evil. It can scarcely be denied that the virtue of Lord Chatham was a little theatrical. On the other hand there was in Mirabeau, not indeed any thing deserving the name of virtue, but that imperfect substitute for virtue which is found in almost all superior minds, -- a sensibility to the beautiful and the good, which sometimes amounted to sincere enthusiasm ; and which, mingled with the desire of admiration, sometimes gave to his character a lustre resembling the lustre of true goodness, — as the “ faded splendour wan” which lingered round the fallen archangel resembled the exceeling brightness of those spirits who had kept their first estate.
There are several other admirable portraits of eminent men in these Memoirs. That of Sieyes a particular, and that of Talleyrand, are masterpieces, Gull of life and expression. But nothing in the book has interested us more than the view which M. Dunont has presented to us, unostentatiously, and, we
may say, unconsciously, of his own character. The sturdy rectitude, the large charity, the good-nature, the modesty, the independent spirit, the ardent philanthropy, the unaffected indifference to money and to fame, make up a character which, while it has nothing unnatural, seems to us to approach nearer to perfection than any of the Grandisons and Allworthys of fiction. The work is not indeed precisely such a work as we had anticipated — it is more lively, more picturesque, more amusing than we had promised ourselves ; and it is, on the other hand, less profound and philosophic. But, if it is not, in all respects, such as might have been expected from the intellect of M. Dumont, it is assuredly such as might have been expected from hia heart.
WAR OF THE SUCCESSION IN SPAIN."
(Edinburgh Review, January, 1888.)
The days when Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by a Person of Honour, and Romances of M. Scuderi, done into English by a Person of Quality, were attractive to readers and profitable to booksellers, have long gone by. The literary privileges once enjoyed by lords are as obsolete as their right to kill the King's deer on their
to Parliament, or as their old remedy of scandalum magnatum. Yet we must acknowledge that, though our political opinions are by no means aristocratical, we always feel kindly disposed towards noble authors. Industry and a taste for intellectual pleasures are peculiarly respectable in those who can afford to be idle and who have every temptation to be dissipated. It is impossible not to wish success to a man who, finding himself placed, without any exertion
merit on his part, above the mass of society, voluntarily descends from his eminence in search of distinctions which he may justly call his
This is, we think, the second appearance of Lord Mahon in the character of an author. His first book was creditable to him, but was in every respect inferior to the work which now lies before us. He has
· History of the War of the Succession in Spain. By LORD Manon. 8vo ondon : 1882.