תמונות בעמוד

two generals of division, Bourmont a stanch royalist, and Lecourbe a stanch republican. Even they agreed with him that the cause of the Bourbons was too forlorn to warrant a battle with their former companions in arms. Ney at length pronounced against the Bourbons, and answered the expostulations of the remaining royalist officers in his camp, ' And what would 'you have me do? Can I stop the tide of the sea with my • hands?'

We readily acquit the Marshal of deliberate insincerity to the King, and acknowledge that if the Count d'Artois failed to keep the rendezvous on which the campaign depended, tant 'pis pour lui.' But we are slow to believe the rest of the story. Surely Ney, who came from the capital, must have felt himself a better judge of the disposition of the army, and the alleged conspiracy of the military authorities, than officers who had just returned from banishment in Elba, and his own previous impressions more trustworthy than the story of men so keenly interested in its acceptance. The merchants of Lyons could have known still less than the envoys of Bertrand. No one blames Ney for refusing to begin civil war by fighting a battle in which the obedience of his troops was doubtful, and his own defeat certain. But he had no more reason to believe in a European conspiracy against the House of Bourbon than Macdonald afterwards had, when placed in a like difficulty. There has been a question of political conspiracy, as well as a question of personal honour, involved in the conduct of Ney. From the former charge he may fairly be exonerated. M. Thiers endeavours to redeem his personal honour also, by ascribing his defection to an illusive discovery that the sovereign whom he had sworn to serve lay under the secret ban of Europe. In this we think the historian fails. From these incidents of a revolution, of which every

detail impresses upon it an almost purely military character, we turn to M. Thiers' picture of the administrative ability of Napoleon, which tends more clearly than before to evince the personal nature of his tenure of the throne of France. He set to work, from the moment of his re-establishment at the Tuileries, to restore the military credit of France with equal energy and discretion. He found an effective army of no

more than 160,000 men, the artillery nearly exhausted by the successive losses of the Russian and German campaigns, the magazines empty, and the matériel of war in every department unable to satisfy the requirements of the shortest campaign.

The only advantage of his situation then over his situation when he abdicated in the previous year, was that the release of the

prisoners taken by the Allies during previous campaigns gave him disciplined recruits; and that the Bourbonist Minister of Finance had replenished the treasury, which a change of masters now placed at the disposition of Napoleon. He had, on the one hand, a gigantic confederacy to defeat, and, on the other hand, so to reorganise an exhausted army that the French people, above all things solicitous of peace, should be unaware of the extent of his preparations. Yet his whole plan of military reconstruction was drawn out within a week of his arrival at Paris. He began by putting into active operation those measures only which did not require publicity. He recalled 50,000 men whom the Bourbon Government had put upon furlough. He then developed and mobilised the National Guard. In the frontier departments obnoxious to invasion, he excited the civil inhabitants to arm in order to prevent a renewal of the horrors which they had a year before experienced at the hands of Russians, Austrians, and Prussians. Though unable to renew the conscription, he obtained the re-enlistment of a majority of the great army which the prisons of the Allies had just disgorged. He then reorganised the Imperial Guard. He succeeded also in doubling the number of his cavalry, in spite of a great dearth of horses in the army. He created new parks of artillery. With such rapidity his plans were arranged that before summer had advanced, he expected to have 400,000 men in the field, and 200,000 national guards. The National Guard were to be thrown into garrison, in order that the whole of the regular army should be available for field operations.

Napoleon showed himself hardly less able in dealing with secret enemies, and in counterplotting domestic and foreign conspiracies. A better instance cannot be taken than the device by which he outmaneuvred Fouché and Metternich at once. M. Thiers describes the Austrian Cabinet anxious to profit by internal dissensions in France, and to raise up an active party of liberals and revolutionists against Napoleon. With this view Prince Metternich put himself into communication with the notorious French Minister of Police. He despatched a letter to him at Paris by an agent of a banking-house, who was going thither on commercial business. In this letter he informed the Duke of Otranto that he had sent one M. Werner, a discreet though not conspicuous negotiator, to Bâle. To that place Fouché was requested by the Austrian Premier to send à delegate of his own to confer with Werner. The mission of the bank agent, however, reached the ears of Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza, who at once told the secret to Napoleon. The Emperor sent for the bank agent, and learned the terms of the overture. He temporarily dissembled with Fouché, and despatched immediately to Bảle one Fleury de Chabonlon, a faithful adherent, whom Maret, Duke of Bassano, had before sent to Elba, to inform Napoleon of the state of public opinion in France. Fleury de Chaboulon presented himself immediately before Werner at Bâle, as the envoy of Fouché. He insisted with Werner, in the name of the Duke of Otranto, that parties had wholly changed since the first restoration took place, that all classes were agreed in deeming Napoleon necessary to France, that the nation was arming en masse, that 400,000 national guards were added to 400,000 regulars, that it were better to come to terms than slaughter tens of thousands in hope of restoring a dynasty which France would accept no more, and that his principal, the Duke of Otranto, would be happy to be the mediator of such an understanding between France and Austria! Werner, not detecting the ruse, was astonished at the support lent to Napoleon by the first malcontent in France, and of course relieved his own government from the fallacy that the French people were disunited. Finally, indeed, the negotiation fell through. The Austrian Minister was perhaps more astute than his envoy. But the Monk of St. Gall could hardly have told a better story of the talent and the jest of Charlemagne.

The counterpart of this picture is clearly drawn in the misgovernment of the Bourbons when they were at peace, and in their vacillation when they were in danger. But the contrast between the two dynasties, broad as it is, is hardly greater than the contrast between the two Imperial Governments. What, then, does M. Thiers think of the present Empire? Does he regard Napoleon the Third as now rebuilding by degrees that fabric of Constitutional Imperialism, as it is termed, which he declares that the Allied Despots so ruthlessly threw down? Does he suppose that Napoleon I., even under the most favourable circumstances, would have given to Europe more peace, or to France more freedom, than they have obtained from Napoleon III.? If he seeks for a living example of the spirit of the institutions of the Empire, he has only to look around him. Yet by a singular contradiction, M. Thiers is at once the great apologist of the Empire in his books, and its antagonist in his political life; so that the consistency of his conduct is the condemnation of his opinions.


4th ed. 3 vols. London: 1856. 2. Aurora Leigh. By ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING.

London : 1856. 3. Poems before Congress. By ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWN

ING. London : 1860. ONE NE of the most peculiar characteristics of modern literary

taste is the interest which readers find, not so much in the positive beauty and attractiveness of the works of a poet, as in the study of the character from which they spring. This feeling is excited not only by that love of psychological and individual analysis which is a growth of modern times, but also by the spectacle of an enthusiastic nature remaining courageously and unweariedly true to its own aspirations; and these, if they are worshipped with the entire energy of a highly gifted and imaginative temperament, can hardly be other than of a lofty character. They may contain much that is chimerical and impossible of application, either by the individual or by society at large, but they acquire dignity from the height of endeavour to which they are exalted, and attract attention from the rarity of their existence and the poetic dress in which they are embodied. Such minds are like the extraordinary visitants among the celestial luminaries; which though they fulfil none of the everyday functions of our planetary attendants, yet have a peculiar grace of their own, and remind us of those remote regions in which even the imagination barely ever permits itself to wander. The works of such writers will never arrive at universal popularity. Few can find pleasure in breathing in that attenuated atmosphere to which they love especially to soar. The chords they strike are usually too fine for ordinary ears ; they seldom aim at calling forth those deep central tones of human feeling which find echoes in the universal heart; and it is rarely or ever that they admit of due appreciation till the whole life of the poet lies extended before us.

The gifted person, whose recent death calls forth this notice from us, was in truth more fortunate than might be expected from the nature of her productions. In looking over the three volumes of her collected writings anterior to the publication of Aurora Leigh,' the number of poems which are sufficiently simple, tasteful, and interesting to catch the general ear, is very small ; and yet for some years, even before the appearance

of · Aurora Leigh,' they enjoyed considerable popularity, which was wonderfully increased by the appearance of that extraordinary and extravagant work of fiction; so that some time before her decease, the authoress may be said to have enjoyed all the honours due to her genius, her uncommon accomplishments, and her courageous and generous nature. Our admiration for the undeviating resolution with which Mrs. Browning pursued her literary career is heightened by the knowledge that nature had endowed her with a frame so frail and a constitution so delicate, that it seemed barely equal to the necessities of existence; and that her spiritual energy remained undiminished by intense mental and physical suffering, and was proof against years of trial and the confinement of a sick chamber.

Her father was a gentleman of some opulence, and we believe her youth was past at his country residence in the county of Herefordshire, in sight of the Malvern Hills. At least, in one of her poems


says :
•Green the land is where my daily

Steps in jocund childhood played;
Dimpled close with hill and valley,

Dappled very close with shade :
Summer snow of apple blossoms running up from glade to glade.'

She appears from earliest youth to have shown extreme precocity,- to have written largely at ten, to have been in print at fifteen, and a contributor to periodicals while under twenty. Her earliest studies, which included Greek and Latin, were carried on in concert with a favourite brother; and when he left home she addressed to him a copy of verses which afford some glimpse of the authoress of · Aurora Leigh' in her girlhood:

Together have we past our infant bours ;

Together sported Childhood's spring away;
Together culi’d young Hope's just budding flow’rs,

To wreathe the forehead of the coming day:

For then the present's sun made e'en the future gay.
. And when the laughing mood was nearly o'er,

Together many a minute did we wile,
On Horace' page and Maro's sweeter lore :

While one young critic in the classic style,

Would sagely try to frown and make the other smile. * And now alone thou con'st the ancient tome;

And sometimes thy dear studies, it may be,
Are cross’d by dearer dreams of me and home.

Alone I muse on Homer, thoughts are free,
And if mine often stray, they go in search of thee.'

[ocr errors]


« הקודםהמשך »