« ZurückWeiter »
cataract, and all other things in nature, are endowed by him with their peculiar genii, and become, as it were, the talismanic keys which awaken their appropriate tones, and melodies, and strains, within his breast. And thus he grows in knowledge and wisdom, and in moral character, and erects an immortality of thought; and makes all material substances and forms and qualities inservient to mind.
He lifts his eye to the heavens, and beholds the sun and moon and myriads of stars, whose light descends upon him like an informing spirit; and he diligently contemplates them till he learns to weigh them in his balance, and measure their dimensions and their farsweeping orbits; and ascertains their laws and their relations; and finds the universe to be a vast fraternity of material forms, and feels himself to be the percipient and intelligent centre of material things, gathering their influences and converting them to mind, which he exerts upon them, and by which he investigates their nature, qualities, laws, relations, purposes and ultimate designs.
Thus man becomes a part of the vast world in which he lives, and every thing becomes a part of him; and hence it may with propriety be said that man is the soul of the world. Nor is he only thus intellectually and morally associated with material things: his wonderfully constructed body, the organic tenement and engine of his mind, partakes in its elements of their common nature, and is subject to those common laws of matter which bind all forms together in inseparable relations.
Whatever, therefore, may be the interest connected with material things, man is the centre of that interest; and consequently man, in his nature and faculties, and capabilities, and condition, and in his relations to the world in which he exists, is one of the most interesting and important subjects which the human mind has power and compass to investigate.
Genius studies the casual thought, and, far ack in the womb of things, sees the rays part
ing from one orb, that diverge ere they fall by
ENGLAND'S WEAKNESS AND
BECAUSE social and political changes
think that knowledge and righteousness exalt a nation.
Doubtless, any one who views the character and condition of England, may see many things which wring his heart, and make it bleed with pity. He may see thousands in rags and wretchedness he may see men and women, who would work and gain an honest livelihood if they could, but they cannot, as they have no work to do--he may see young men behind the counter, or the desk, working from early morn till late at night, tired, exhausted, and prostrated, physically and mentally he may see women-yes, tender, beautiful women, who deserve a better destiny, plying the needle for sixteen, eighteen, and twenty hours a day, and that for the most paltry pittance-and, he may see, on the other hand, a proud and pampered aristocracy, rolling in riches, and faring sumptuously every day, and who expend enough in extra vagance to feed starving myriads-he may see a huge national debt, which too significantly forebodes national bankruptcy-he may see taxes indirectly wrung from the working and commercial classes, and recklessly appropriated to unwarrantable purposes-he may see game-laws which exist for the privileged few, and to which the comfort and happiness of innumerable families have been sacrificed-he may see a church, many of whose bishops and dignitaries live in wealth and splendour, and many of whose hard-working curates almost starve for the bread that perisheth-he may see immense tracts of unpurchaseable waste lands, and thousands of famishing men remaining idle--he may see rich and extensive landowners dying, and leaving their entailed estates to their eldest sons, while the other members of their families are left almost wholly unprovided for, and who cannot dig, and to beg are ashamed, but, who by political influences and corruption, are lifted into places to be maintained in affluence from the public purse-he may see intemperance with its million palaces, where no other God but Bacchus is worshipped, and whose worshippers have desolation written on their countenances and their homes-he may see
untold numbers of England's fairest women brought to shame and infamy, and who pass through life plucking flowers, which only grow on the paths of iniquity and around the margin of the grave-he may see gibbets to which women, in all the glow and freshness of youth, are forcibly carried to be publicly executed, when their shrieks pierce the skies, and rend the hearts of congregated thousands-he may see Smithfields and their gory appurtenances, where cruelties are perpetrated on dumb, unoffending animals, which would stain the annals of the barbarous ages
he may see towns undrained, houses unventilated, and their inhabitants correspondingly dirty; localities where diseases breed, and death rots--he may see the spirit of selfishness pervading the commercial transactions of the people, and competition in its pitiless sway, trampling on the weak and unfortunate, reckless of benevolence and many other considerations which should nourish and gladden life-he may see ignorance enthroned in the minds, and wrapping its gloomy mantle around the prospects of millions: and deeper than any of these evils which are observable on the surface, may be seen vice and moral degradation in countless shapes, holding captive the bodies and minds of multitudes.
If any thing will eat into the vitals of England's national life, and hinder the development of its capabilities, it is error, ignorance, and unrighteousness. What we have to fear is not enemies from without, but enemies from withinnot the French or the Russians, but wrongs and habits which we have created and which we may destroy. But there is a bright as well as dark side to the picture. We have not only national vices, but national virtues. Doubtless, there has always been a great deal of active benevolence, and sterling worth among our population; but never, I trow, as much as at the present time. There is not only just now a great deal of individual excellence and individual exertion for the public good; but men, actuated by the noblest motives, associate together, so that they may put down wrongs and vices by instrumentalities which could not be so easily de
misdeeds-that her colonial possessions are sadly mismanaged, and that she is, even at the present moment, depositing the germs of evil habits and bad institutions in the hearts of young empires; but, while admitting this, let us not forget that our ships ride on every sea, and are driven by every breezethat our commerce is linking all the nations of the earth together in the bonds of interest and peace. Though we permit political and social abuses to continue in our midst, we may boast of institutions which wisdom erected, and which time has honoured. England with her omnipotent public opinion, her liberties and hospitalities, stands like a beacon amongst the nations of the earth. She is the home of the refugee and exile, and the centre to which men of letters and commercial princes resort. Yes, "England, with all thy faults, I love thee still." Glorious has been thy past with all its crimes, and more glorious will be thy future. Thou has shaken the world and desolated nations with war; and thou wilt, in years to come, devote thy matchless strength and inexhaustible resources to consolidating the peace and promoting the prosperity of all peoples. Though errors fester in thy bosom-though injustice and suffering impair thy mightiness-thou shalt weather the storm, and gradually grow stronger, holier, and happier. EDITOR.
stroyed by individual efforts.-If we have organized wrongs, we have also men organised into societies to put down such wrongs.-We have societies for reclaiming the waste lands-redemption societies-societies for the relief and benefit of oppressed needlewomen and benevolent societies in abundance. We have missionary societies for home and abroad we have penitentiaries, infirmaries, and hospitals supported by voluntary contributions. We have peace societies trying to remove war systems and the war spirit from the world-temperance societies battling with intemperance—educational institutions subjugating ignorance-parliamentary and financial reform associations, labouring for the political elevation of the people-sanitary commissions and boards of health sweeping our streets and closing reeking graveyards-benefit societies, building societies, insurance companies-associations to build washing-houses, model lodging houses; and a thousand other associations, for a thousand other purposes. I do not mean to say that all these associations fulfil all they promise, and that associations and the principle of cooperation may not be abused. I have merely to deal with the fact, that the people are beginning to see the potency and practicability of co-operating together, for the multiplication of means for comfort and elevation. I see in this fact one of the grand characteristics of the age, and it tells where England is going, and what she will be, as significantly as any feature or circumNAPOLEON BONAPARTE.* stance of the nineteenth century. There HE is dead!-We may now pause beis not a single great national wrong fore that splendid prodigy, which towbut what is met by a right, wielded ered amongst us like some ancient ruin, by truehearted, energetic men. It whose frown terrified the glance its would be difficult to find a bad institu- magnificence attracted. Grand, gloomy, tion, or an extensively spread vice that and peculiar, he sat upon the throne, is not resisted by an organized effort a sceptered hermit, wrapt in the soliaiming at its overthrow. And there tude of his awful originality. A mind are many recorded instances of the bold, independent, and decisive; a will complete success of righteous associa- despotic in its dictates; an energy tions. Slaves have been emancipated, that distances expedition, and a conreligious liberty obtained, corn laws science pliable to every touch of inrepealed, and other evils subjugated terest, marked the outlines of this exby similar means. Admitted, that traordinary character, the most extraEngland perpetuates injustices and wrongs-that Ireland stands before her, like a ghost warning her of her past
HISTORICAL CHARACTER OF
written soon after the death of the grea This eloquent historical dissertation wa warrior.
HISTORICAL CHARACTER OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE.
ordinary, perhaps, that, in the annals of this world, ever rose, or reigned, or fell. Flung into life in the midst of a revolution that quickened every energy of a people who acknowledged no superior, he commenced his course, a stranger by birth, and a scholar by charity. With no friend but his sword, and no fortune but his talents, he rushed into the lists where rank, and wealth, and genius had arrayed themselves: competition fled from him as from the glance of destiny. He knew no motive but interest he acknowledged no criterion but success-he worshipped no God but ambition; and with an eastern devotion, he knelt at the shrine of his idolatry. Subsidiary to this, there was no creed that he did not professthere was no opinion that he did not promulgate. In the hope of a dynasty, he upheld the Crescent; for the sake of a divorce, he bowed before the Cross. The orphan of St. Louis, he became the child of the Republic; and, with a parricidal ingratitude, on the ruins, both of the throne and the tribune, he reared the tower of his despotism. A professed Catholic, he imprisoned the Pope; a pretended patriot, he impoverished the country; and in the name of Brutus he grasped without remorse, and wore without shame, the diadem of the Cæsars!
Through this pantomime of his policy, fortune played the clown to his caprices. At his touch crowns crumbled, beggars reigned, systems vanished; the wildest theories took the colour of his whim, and all that was venerable, and all that was novel, changed places with the rapidity of a drama. Even apparent defeat assumed the operations of victory. His flight from Egypt confirmed his destiny; ruin itself only elevated him to empire. But if his fortune was great, his genius was transcendent; decision flashed upon his councils, and it was the same to decide and to perform. To inferior intellects, his combinations appeared utterly impossible-his plans perfectly impracticable; but in his hands, simplicity marked their development, and success vindicated their adoption. His person partook of the character of his mindif the one never yielded in the cabinet,
the other never bent in the field. Nature had no obstacles that he did not sur mount-space no opposition that he did not spurn; and, whether amid Alpine rocks, Arabian sands, or Polar snows, he seemed proof against peril, and endowed with ubiquity! The whole continent of Europe trembled at beholding the audacity of his designs and the miracle of their execution. Scepticism bowed to the prodigies of his performances- -romance assumed the air of history; nor was there ought too incredible for belief, when the world saw a subaltern of Corsica waving his flag over her most ancient capitals. All the visions of antiquity became common places in his contemplation; kings were his people; nations were his outposts; and he disposed of courts, and crowns, and camps, and churches, and cabinets, as if they were the titular dignitaries of the chess-board!
Amid all these changes, he stood as immutable as adamant. It mattered little whether in the field or in the drawing room; with the mob or at the levee; wearing the Jacobine bonnet or the iron crown; banishing a Braganza,. or espousing a Lorraine ; dictating peace on a raft to the Czar of Russia, or con-templating a defeat and the gallows at Leipsic;-he was still the same military despot.
Cradled in the camp, he was, to the last hour, the darling of the army.. Of all his soldiers, not one forsook him, till affection was useless, and their first stipulation was for the safety of their favourite. They knew well if he was lavish of them, he was prodigal of himself; and that if he exposed them to peril, he paid them with plunder. For the soldiers he subdued every people-to the people he even made pride pay tribute. The victorious veteran glittered with his gains, and the capital, gorgeous with the spoils of art, became the miniature metropolis of the universe. In this wonderful combination, his affectation of literature must not be omitted. The gaoler of the press, he affected the patronage of letters; the proscriber of books, he encouraged philosophy; the persecutor of authors, and the murderer of printers, he yet pretended to the protection of learning! The as
sassin of Palen, the silencer of De Stael, and the denouncer of Kotzebue-he was the friend of David, the benefactor of De Lille, and sent his academic prize to the philosopher of England.*
Such a medley of contradictions, and at the same time such an individual consistency, were never united in the same character.-A Royalist, a Republican, and an Emperor; a Mahometan, Catholic, and a patron of the Synagogue; a subaltern and a Sovereign; a traitor and a tyrant; a Christian and an Infidel -he was through all his vicissitudes the same stern, potent, inflexible original-the same mysterious, incomprehensible self-the man without a model, and without a shadow.
His fall, like his life, baffled all speculation. In short, his whole history was like a dream to the world, and no man can tell how or why he was awakened from the reverie. Such is a faint and feeble picture of Napoleon Bonaparte, the first, and, it is to be hoped, the last Emperor of the French. That he has done much evil there is little doubt; and that he has been the origin of much good, there is just as little. Through his means, intentional or not, Spain, Portugal, and France have risen to the blessing of a free constitution; Superstition has found her grave in the ruins of the Inquisition; and the feudal system, with its whole train of tyrannic satellites, has fled for ever. Kings may learn from him, that their safest study, as well as their noblest, is the interest of the people; the people are taught by him, that there is no despotism so stupendous against which they have not resource; and to all those who would rise upon the ruins of both, he is a living lesson, that if ambition can raise them from the lowest station, it can also prostrate them from the highest.
THE BLIGHTED ONE.
ABOUT fifteen years since, James Baynard and I graduated at the same university. He was my superior in every thing but Latin. The poets and orators
Sir Humphrey Davy had the first prize of the Academy of Science transmitted to him.
of Greece and Rome were his favourite companions. Often have we walked. under the shadows of ancient edifices and tall umbrageous trees, contrasting the breadth and depths of our acquirements and speculations on the future. Often have I stood breathless to listen to him picturing in glowing colourings the successes and triumphs which would crown his after-life. He could scarcely have been said to have lived in the present. He was either brooding over the treasures of the past, or soaring on the wings of imagination into the untrodden future. Time passed on, and I had not seen my friend for several years. I had occasionally heard of him, but the intelligence was far from an encouraging character.
One beautiful star-lit evening, while crossing London-bridge, a man with stooping mien, his hat over his eyes, and his dirty, torn coat, buttoned around him, asked me for some coppers. I thought I remembered the voice; I looked at the man, and started back, and stood for a moment speechless, as if I had encountered a ghost. I was almost certain that the wretched being who stood before me was the one whom I once rejoiced to call my friend, and of whose success in life I had once such high expectations. I dared not for a short time speak to him and call him by his name, fearing that he would answer and confirm my suspicions. But I did so, and his answer sent a cold thrill through my frame. It was he, or what was left of him. He was no other than a mean-looking, soul-broken, drunkard. I no sooner told him my name, than he looked still more ghastly, and appeared for a moment as if annihilation would be a comfort to him. As we both partially collected ourselves, he tried to shun me, by saying "I beg pardon, Sir, I took you for some one else!" That did not satisfy me. I followed him, and compelled him to share a part of my purse. He took it tremb lingly, and said, "I am a miserable, that I could only take his address, and guilty, lost man." My heart was so full, tell him that I would call on him. I went on my way in deep, deep sorrow. I had seen the friend of my earlier years, one in whom I had reposed much con