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same language, and forming, in fact, but one people, they ought to bave a most extensive commerce.'-Hoogskin, vol. ii. p. 201.
One of the worst effects of the late war, is the altercation which its pressure has occasioned between princes and people respecting the extent of promises made in the hour of ditfi. culty and danger : ease soon recauts, we are told, vows made in pain ;' and while we allow some weight to the change of feeling which may be produced by an alteration in the tone of the higher powers, we do not doubt that their subjects have much exaggerated the expectations which were originally held out to them, and risen in their pretensions from the hope of concession. Against the King of Prussia, the charge of bad faith has more frequently and more pointedly been brought than the rest, and we refer our readers for His Majesty's statement, on this subject, to a circular letter to Count Bernstorff, in which the several points in dispute are separately noticed. The king certainly intends to give his people a constitution. It will probably not be so democratic in its form as they would desire, and it may be so long delayed as to lose much of the grace and favour which would have accompanied its promulgation at an earlier period; in the mean time discontent pervades his dominions. It is not likely to shew itself in any more formidable shape, for the Germans grumble much without coming to blows; and they have few opportunities of conferring together on their grievances real or imaginary, or of collecting mobs for the purpose of intimidation. The whole system of the Prussian government, although carried on with a strict attention to the principles of jus. tice, is extremely severe in its mode of operation. Their fiscal regulations are, in many respects, arbitrary and vexatious in the extreme, especially where their newly acquired provinces are concerned. These have as yet derived no benefit from the protection of their new masters ; and the stop to all the manufactories, which has taken place since the peace, creates a disadvantageous comparison with the times when these establishments flourished under the decrees of Buonaparte. The army, meanwhile, is kept up on a scale very disproportionate to the size of the country, (as may be said indeed of the military force of every state in Germany.) It is true this is done at little cost to the revenue, as the soldiers, for the most part, live at free quarters. The people, however, complain, and not without reason, whilst the want of employment makes malcontents of those whose services are no longer required.
The youth of Prussia, after the war was over, had no point to which their ambition could be directed; no occupations for those energies which the course of events had called forth in so unusual a 'manner. The barrier which still separates different ranks in
Germany Germany prevented their admission into the higher circles, whilst their superiority in education naturally rendered them unwilling to mix with the low and illiterate. The church, the law, physic, all are, with them, professions of little estimation; and thus a large portion of valuable subjects remain without the support of one party, or sufficient influence to restrain the excesses of the other.
• lo the company of those men of letters who have assumed the appellation of Liberals, I heard much complaint of the want of a constitution, and many ceosures on the king, who having, as they say. promised one, had not fulblled bis engagement. Among these gentlemen, I heard the acknowledgment cheerfully made that their own gorernment was the most economical in Europe ; that it was regular in all its details, faithful to all its engagements, and more desirous of preventing than of punishing crimes. I could never understand from such persons, whose acuteness, talent, and intelligence was considerable, what kind of a constitution they desired, nor what materials they had in the country, either for erecting or maintaining such a fabric as they imagined to be necessary. I asked frequently if it was possible to form in Prussia a representative body, which while it asserted its own independence would define and maintain the necessary prerogatives of the monarch. The answers I received were such as convinced me that those who were most vehement for a change had the least contemplated the nature of the one they required.'-Jacob, p. 222.
In general, when popular discontents have been widely dispersed, some ostensible cause of complaint has been assigned for their existence; some grievance, whose removal might tranquillize the storm. The feudal rights, the exactions of the clergy, the weight of taxes, have each, in their turn, been put forward as justifications of the sacred right of insurrection on the part of the people. In these days, however, the general diffusion of knowledge seems to be among the chief causes of commotion, and as all cannot occupy the front ranks in society, the remedy to be applied is less easily discovered.
Amongst the German reformers, as with their brethren on this side of the water, a great diversity of opinion prevails as to the means of ameliorating their present condition. With some, as with the Carbonari of Italy, the union of their country, under one head, forms the object which they profess to have mostly at beart. Others, with more reasonable, and practicable views, demand a more equal representation of the people : but all, in their eager zeal for fancied amendment, overlook the obvious fact that the progress of improvement is necessarily slow; and forget that when they hold out the English constitution as a model for imitation, they propose to create, as by a magical wand, a fabric which time and experience can alone bring to maturity and perfection. With that confusion of intellect respecting English affairs,
for for which foreigners of all classes are generally distinguished, we find them expressing a blind admiration of those parts of our political system which are rather considered as necessary defects, than as at all conducive to the advantage of the whole. Thus, because the popular form of our government gives a wide scope for license at the public meetings and assemblies of the people, in ordinary times, and the utmost freedom of debate in the Commons House of Parliament, our imitators seem to imagine that li. berty cannot thrive without tumult and disorder; and, whilst anxious to establish a free press amongst themselves, they shut their eyes to the evils which may arise from the abuse of this free. dom. They read our debates with avidity, and watch with im. patience every popular movement which takes place in this country; but the secret springs which bring order out of the chaos of conflicting opinions are beyond their comprehension, and they attribute our security, amidst so much apparent danger, to causes very widely removed from the truth.
The increase of public journals in Germany has, of late years, been very considerable. Those newly established are, for the most part, in opposition to the government of the states in which they appear. The best, such as · Rhenische Mercur,' • Oppositions Blatt,' • Bremer Zeitung,' and Neckar Zeitung,' are written with spirit and ability ; but to shew how little they are to be depended upon in regard to English affairs, and how small a chance our national character has of being fairly represented in their hands, we extract a few paragraphs, taken at random, from the last named paper, and containing the account of events which are supposed to have happened during the autumn of last year.
• The last accounts from London andounce that a most dangerous ipsurrection has broken out there on the 23d October. Already the King of England's throne is considered to be overthrown ; and on its ruin will be raised the President's chair of the Brewer Hunt. Lord Castlereagh is assassinated, and the funds are fallen. . . . . . . It is clear that the revolution is complete. It appears, however, somewhat astonishing that the accounts from London of the 27th do not make the least mention of the revolution which broke out on the 23d! To shew how fearful such an event would be, we have only to give a picture of the state of the country.
• The poor are so numerous, that no remedy can be found ; for John Bull will not die quietly with bunger, as the East India Company have allowed some millions of Hindoos to do at the door of magazioes overflowing with rice. .......
• The plague cannot well be introduced as a means of diminishing population, because the avarice of the merchants would induce them to reject such a proposal, as it would lead the destruction of their
trade with other nations : but to suppose such a heartless plan to have entered the heads of English speculators, is by no means preposterous, when we kouw that, in the West Indies, they have trained thousands of dogs to h'int down the natives; and that between 1795 and 1799, above 100,000 men came in Ireland to a violent end. ... .
• The roads swarm with robbers, and the cruelty towards beasts is carried to such an extent, that (what will scarcely be believed) it is the practice to cut pieces of flesh from oxen, whilst alive, in order that the meat may be more tender for the table. . . . .
• The cold blooded cruelty of the children is also peculiarly worthy of remark; and the brutal conduct of the men towards their wires is gone so far that the courts of justice no longer punish for it.'
We presume that this will satisfy our readers; it is not, however, unworthy of remark, that it is from such impure sources as the journal we have quoted, (whose chief resource, we observe, is the Monthly Magazine) that the lower orders abroad derive almost their whole knowledge of Euglishmen and of English affairs.
Though in these vehicles for public information the supposed grievances of Germany are dwelt upon at large, little or no notice is taken of the concessions made by the higher powers to the wishes of their subjects, or of the various circumstances which promise a general amelioration in the condition of that country. Besides Bavaria, Wurtemburg, Hanover and Nassau, there are at least half a dozen states of minor importance to which constitutions have been either granted or renewed by their present rulers. Mr. Hodgskin will say, perhaps, that is the semblance only of liberty which is offered ; but at all events he will not dispute that they are strong marks of a readiness on the part of the German princes to attend to the just complaints of their subjects; and if he will take the trouble of perusing some of the proceedings of the states, as of Wurtemburg for instance, he will find that the rights and privileges which have been conceded, are not by any means so nugatory as he appears, in his ignorance, to imagine.
Slavery has been abolished in Prussia, and in Mecklenburgh. The example will no doubt be followed by Austria, as indeed it has already been to a limited extent; and it is a fact which ought not to be lost sight of at a time when it is the fashion to extol the purity and liberality of new governments at the expense of the old, that in despotic Russia the emperor is gradually emancipating the peasants on the crown lands, and recommending the same course to the rich proprietors of the empire, whilst in America, that last sacred asylum of freedom and virtue,' the bill for abolishing slavery in the Missouri country (a measure which involves the question as to every other part of the United States) has been thrown out by a majority of the Congress.
ART. VII.-Fables from La Fontaine, in English Verse. 8vo.
pp. 368. London. 1820. THE best part of beauty,' says Bacon, in one of his maxims, is
I that which a picture cannot express.' Something like this may be said of La Fontaine. The charm of his style is of so subtle à quality, consisting as much in curious felicity of expression as in justness of thought or tenderness of sentiment, that it seems almost a hopeless task to attempt transfusing into another language his careless and unstudied graces, and especially that naïveté and bon. hommie, which are so peculiarly his own.
The characteristic quality of La Fontaine is simplicity ;-not that childishness of thought and guiltlessness of meaning which have often passed current under this title—but that fascinating singleness of expression, which is not inconsistent with the bighest refinement of wit, and which communicates a charm to whatever it relates, by saying the oldest and commonest things in so interesting a manner as to give them all the zest of novelty; that air, in short, of unconcern so exquisite,' by which the effect of all the various embellishments of his poetry is heightened and improved. There is indeed throughout his writings an apparent unconsciousness of his own perfections; and (to use a trite expression) he never cackles over the egg that he has laid. His wit seems to escape from him as it were involuntarily, and is poured forth, without parade or display, in careless profusion. But it is not by bis wit alone that La Fontaine exerts so powerful an influence over us, for while he delights to amuse the imagination, he knows how to touch the heart. This is the secret of poetry, and this, after all, is the true criterion of a poet.
Though verse seems to be the natural language of a poet, yet La · Fontaine would have been equally deserving of that title if he had written in prose. Rhyme is the dress which fashion and custom have made it almost necessary for poetry now to wear,—but it is only the dress ; and it adds little to the genuine offspring of the Muses, though it may often serve to assist the imposition of a counterfeit; for it is not prose, but prosing that is destructive of poetry, and this is a fault which is by no means excluded from rhyme. But Fontaine never proses ; he is, as he describes himself, the Butterfly of Parnassus, 'volage en vers comme en fleurs,' passing lightly from flower to flower, extracting the sweets of each, and never dwelling on any subject long enough to be tiresome.
No one ever understood more completely the art of narration ; the secret of which perhaps consists less in what is directly told than in what is suggested by those incidental hints and passing reflecmons, which awaken a train of associations in the mind of the reader, VOL. XXIII. NO. 46.-Q. R.