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Thus doctrines favourable to public liberty were inculcated alike by those who were in power, and by those who were in opposition. It was by means of these doctrines alone that the former could prove that they had a King de jure. The servile theories of the latter did not prevent them from offering every molestation to one whom they considered as merely a King de facto. The attachment of the one party to the House of Hanover, of the other to that of Stuart, induced both to talk a language much more favourable to popular rights than to monarchical power. What took place at the first representation of “ Cato” is no bad illustration of the way in which the two great sections of the community almost invariably acted. A play, the whole merit of which consists in its stately rhetoric,a rhetoric sometimes not unworthy of Lucan,-about hating tyrants and dying for freedom, is brought on the stage in a time of great political excitement. Both parties crowd to the theatre. Each affects to consider
line as a compliment to itself, and an attack on its opponents. The curtain falls amidst an unanimous roar of applause. The Whigs of the “Kit Cat" embrace the author, and assure him that he has rendered an inestimable service to liberty. The Tory secretary of state presents a purse to the chief actor for defending the cause of liberty so well. The history of that night was, in miniature, the history of two generations.
We well know how much sophistry there was in the reasonings, and how much exaggeration in the declamations of both parties. But when we compare the state in which political science was at the close of the reign of George the Second, with the state in which it had been when James the second came to the throne, it is impossible not to admit that a prodigious improvement had taken place. We are no admirers of the political doctrines laid down in Blackstone's Commentaries. But if we consider that those Commentaries were read with great applause in the very
schools where, within the memory of some persons then living, books had been publicly burned by order of the university of Oxford, for containing the “damnable doctrine,” that the English monarchy is limited and mixed, we cannot deny that a salutary change had taken place.
“The Jesuits,” says Pascal, in the last of his incomparable letters, “ have obtained a papal decree condemning Galileo's doctrine about the motion of the earth. It is all in vain. If the world is really turning round, all mankind together will not be able to keep it from turning, or to keep themselves from turning with it.” The decrees of Oxford were as ineffectual to stay the great moral and political revolution, as those of the Vatican to stay the motion of our globe. That learned University found itself not only unable to keep the mass from moving, but unable to keep itself from moving along with the mass. Nor was the effect of the discussions and speculations of that period confined to our own country. While the Jacobite party was in the last dotage and weakness of its paralytic old age, the political philosophy of England began to produce a mighty effect on France, and, through France, on Europe.
Here another vast field opens itself before us. must resolutely turn away from it. We will conclude, by earnestly advising all our readers to study Sir James Mackintosh's invaluable Fragment: and by expressing the satisfaction we have received from learning, since this article was written, that the intelligent publishers of the volume before us have resolved to reprint the Fragment in a separate form, without those accompaniments which have hitherto impeded its circulation. The resolution is as creditable to them as the publication is sure to be acceptable to the lovers of English History.
SIR JOHN MALCOLM'S LIFE OF LORD CLIVE.*
[Edinburgh Review for January, 1840.]
We have always thought it strange, that, while the history of the Spanish empire in America is so familiarly known to all the nations of Europe, the great actions of our countrymen in the East should, even among ourselves, excite little interest. Every schoolboy knows who imprisoned Montezuma, and who strangled Atabalipa. But we doubt whether one in ten, even among English gentlemen of highly cultivated minds, can tell who won the battle of Buxar, who perpetrated the massacre of Patna, whether Surajah Dowlah ruled in Oude or in Travancore, or whether Holkar was a Hindoo or a Mussul
Yet the victories of Cortes were gained over savages who had no letters, who were ignorant of the use of metals, who had not broken in a single animal to labour, who wielded no better weapons than those which could be made out of sticks, flints, and fish-bones, who regarded a horse-soldier as a monster, half man and half beast, who took a harquebusier for a sorcerer, able to scatter the thunder and lightning of the skies. The people of India, when we subdued them, were ten times as numerous as the vanquished Americans, and were at the same time quite as highly civilized as the victorious Spaniards. They had reared cities larger and fairer than Saragossa or Toledo, and buildings more beautiful and costly than the cathedral of Seville. They could show bankers richer than the richest firms of Barcelona or Cadiz,
* The Life of Robert Lord Clive; collected from the Family Papers, communicated by the Earl of Powis. By Major-General Sir John Malcolm, K.C. B. 3 vols. 8vo. London: 1836.
viceroys whose splendour far surpassed that of Ferdinand the Catholic, myriads of cavalry and long trains of artillery which would have astonished the Great Captain. It might have been expected that every Englishman who takes any interest in any part of history would be curious to know how a handful of his countrymen, separated from their home by an immense ocean, subjugated, in the course of a few years, one of the greatest empires in the world. Yet unless we greatly err, this subject is, to most readers, not only insipid, but positively distasteful.
Perhaps the fault lies partly with the historians. Mr. Mill's book, though it has undoubtedly great and rare merit, is not sufficiently animated and picturesque to attract those who read for amusement. Orme, inferior to no English historian in style and power of painting, is minute even to tediousness. In one volume he allots, on an average, a closely printed quarto page to the events of every forty-eight hours. The consequence is, that his narrative, though one of the most authentic, and one of the most finely written in our language, has never been very popular, and is now scarcely ever read.
We fear that Sir John Malcolm's volumes will not much attract those readers whom Orme and Mill have repelled. The materials placed at his disposal by the late Lord Powis, were indeed of great value. But we cannot say that they have been very skilfully worked up. It would, however, be unjust to criticise with severity a work which, if the author had lived to complete and revise it, would probably have been improved by condensation, and by a better arrangement. We are more disposed to perform the pleasing duty of expressing our gratitude to the noble family to which the public owes so much useful and curious information.
The effect of the book, even when we make the largest allowance for the partiality of those who have furnished, and of those who have digested the materials, is, on the whole, greatly to raise the character of Lord Clive. We are far indeed from sympathizing with Sir James Malcolm, whose love passes the love of biographers, and who can see nothing but wisdom and justice in the actions of his idol. But we are at least equally far from concurring in the severe
judgment of Mr. Mill, who seems to us to show less dis, crimination in his aceount of Clive, than in any other part of his valuable work. Clive, like most men who are born with strong passions, and tried by strong temptations, committed great faults. But every person who takes a fair and enlightened view of his whole career must admit, that our island, so fertile in heroes and statesmen, has scarcely. ever produced a man more truly great either in arms or in council.
The Clives had been settled, ever since the twelfth century, on an estate of no great value, near Market-Drayton, in Shropshire. In the reign of George the First, this moderate but ancient inheritance was possessed by Mr. Richard Clive, who seems to have been a plain man of no great tact or capacity. He had been bred to the law, and divided his time between professional business, and the avocations of a small proprietor. He married a lady from Manchester, of the name of Gaskill, and became the father of a very numerous family. His eldest son Robert, the founder of the British empire in India, was born at the old seat of his ancestors on the 29th of September, 1725.
Some lineaments of the character of the man were early discerned in the child. There remain letters written by his relations when he was in his seventh year; and from these it appears that, even at that early age, his strong will, and his fiery passions, sustained by a constitutional intrepidity, which sometimes seemed hardly compatible with soundness of mind, had begun to cause great uneasiness to his family. “Fighting,” says one of his uncles, " to which he is out of measure addicted, gives his temper such a fierceness and imperiousness, that he flies out on every trifling occasion.” The old people of the neighbourhood still remember to have heard from their parents how Bob Clive climbed to the top of the lofty steeple of Market-Drayton, and with what terror the inhabitants saw him seated on a stone spout near the summit. They also relate how he formed all the good-for-nothing lads of the town into a kind of a predatory army, and compelled the shopkeepers to submit to a tribute of apples and halfpence, in consideration of which he guaranteed the security of their windows. He was sent from school to school,