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the country was placed by the convocation | Parliament, after it was purged by the Indeof the States-General; but it was materially pendents, and the assemblies that met under aggravated by the presumption and improvi- that name, during the Protectorate of Cromdence of those enthusiastic legislators, and well, held the place, and enjoyed all the form tended powerfully to produce those disasters of power that had belonged to their predecesby which they were ultimately overwhelmed. sors: But as they no longer contained those
No representative legislature, it appears to individuals who were able to sway and influus, can ever be respectable or secure, unless ence the opinion of the body of the people, it contain within itself a great proportion of they were without respect or authority, and those who form the natural aristocracy of the speedily came to be the objects of public dericountry, and are able, as individuals, io influ- sion and contempt. ence the conduct and opinions of the greater As the power and authority of a legislature part of its inhabitants. Unless the power and thus constituted, is perfectly secure and inweight and authority of the assembly, in alienable, on the one hand, so, on the other, the short, be really made up of the power and moderation of its proceedings is guaranteed weight and authority of the individuals who by a consciousness of the basis upon which compose it, the factitious dignity they may this authority is founded. Every individual derive from their situation can never be of being aware of the extent to which his own long endurance; and the dangerous power influence is likely to reach among his constitwith which they may be invested, will be- uents and dependants, is anxious that the come the subject of scrambling and conten- mandates of the body shall never pass beyond tion among the factions of the metropolis, and that limit, within which obedience may be be employed for any purpose but the general easily secured. He will not hazard the loss good of the community.
of his own power, therefore, by any attempt In England, the House of Commons is made to enlarge that of the legislature; and feelup of the individuals who, by birth, by for- ing, at every step, the weight and resistance tune, or by talents, possess singly the greatest of the people, the whole assembly proceeds influence over the rest of the people. The with a due regard to their opinions and premost certain and the most permanent influ- judices, and can never do any thing very inence, is that of rank and of riches; and these jurious or very distasteful to the majority:--are the qualifications, accordingly, which re- From the very nature of the authority with tum the greatest number of members. Men which they are invested, they are in fact consubmit to be governed by the united will of substantiated with the people for whom they those, to whose will, as individuals, the greater are to legislate. They do not sit loose upon part of them bave been previously accustomed them, like riders on inferior animals; nor to submit themselves; and an act of parlia. speculate nor project experiments upon their ment is reverenced and obeyed, not because welfare, like operators upon a foreign subthe people are impressed with a constitutional stance.' They are the natural organs, in fact, veneration for an institution called a parlia- of a great living body; and are not only ment, but because it has been passed by the warned, by their own feelings, of any injury authority of those who are recognised as their which they may be tempted to inflict on ii, natural superiors, and by whose influence, as but would become incapable of performing individuals, the same measures might have their functions, if they were to proceed far in been enforced over the greater part of the debilitating the general system. kingdom. Scarcely any new power is ac- Such, it appears to us, though delivered quired, therefore, by the combination of those perhaps in too abstract and elementary a form, persons into a legislature: They carry each is the just conception of a free representative their share of influence and authority into the legislature. Neither the English House of senate along with them; and it is by adding Commons, indeed, nor any assembly of any the items of it together, that the influence other nation, ever realized it in all its perfecand authority of the senate itself is made up. tion : But it is in their approximation to such From such a senate, therefore, it is obvious a standard, we conceive, that their excellence that their power can never be wrested, and and utility will be found to consist; and where that it would not even attach to those who the conditions upon which we have insisted might succeed in supplanting them in the are absolutely wanting, the sudden institution legislature, by violence or intrigue ; or by any of a representative legislature will only be a other means than those by which they them- step to the most frightful disorders. Where selves had originally secured their nomination. it has grown up in a country in which perIn such a state of representation, in short, the sonal liberty and property are tolerably secure, influence of the representatives is not borrow- it naturally assumes that form which is most ed from their office, but the influence of the favourable to its beneficial influence, and has office is supported by that which is personal a tendency to perpetual improvement, and to to its members; and parliament is chiefly the constant amelioration of the condition of regarded as the great depository of all the the whole society. The difference between authority which formerly existed, in a scat- a free government and a tyrannical one, contered state, among its members. This author- sists entirely in the different proportions of ity, therefore, belonging to the men, and not the people ihat are influenced by their opinto their places, can neither be lost by them, ions, or subjugated by intimidation or force. if they are forced from their places, nor found In a large society, opinions can only be reby those who may supplant them. The Long united by means of representations; and the natural representative is the individual whose that has existed in modern times, it is not to example and authority can influence the opin- be wondered at if they forgot the slender ties ions of the greater part of those in whose by which they were bound to their constitubehalf he is delegated. This is the natural ents. The powers to which they had sucaristocracy of a civilized nation; and its legis- ceeded were so infinitely beyond any thing lature is then upon the best possible footing, that they had enjoyed in their individual when it is in the hands of those who answer capacity, that it is not surprising if they never to that description. The whole people are thought of exerting them with the same conthen governed by the laws, exactly as each sideration and caution. Instead of the great clan or district of them would have been by bases of rank and property, which cannot be the patriarchal authority of an elective and transferred by the clamours of the factious, unarmed chieftain ; and the lawgivers are not or the caprice of the inconstant, and which only secure of their places while they can serve to ballast and steady the vessel of the maintain their individual influence over the state in all its wanderings and perils, the people, but are withheld from any rash or assembly possessed only the basis of talent injurious measure by the consciousness and or reputation ; qualities which depend upon feeling of their dependence on this voluntary opinion and opportunity, and which may be deference and submission.
attributed in the same proportion to an inconIf this be at all a just representation of the venient multitude at once. The whole legisconditions upon which the respectability and lature may be considered, therefore, as comsecurity of a representative legislature must posed of adventurers, who had already attained always depend, it will not be difficult to ex- à situation incalculably above their original plain how the experiment miscarried so com- pretensions, and were now tempted to push pletely, in the case of the French Constituent their fortune by every means that held out Assembly. That assembly, which the enthu- the promise of immediate success. They siasm of the public, and the misconduct of had nothing, comparatively speaking, to lose, the privileged orders, soon enabled to engross but their places in that assembly, or the influthe whole power of the country, consisted ence which they possessed within its walls; almost entirely of persons without name or and as the authority of the assembly itself individual influence; who owed the whole of depended altogether upon the popularity of their consequence io the situation to which its measures, and not upon the intrinsic authey had been elevated, and were not able, thority of its members, so it was only to be as individuals, to have influenced the opinions maintained by a succession of brilliant and of one-fiftieth_part of their countrymen.- imposing resolutions, and by satisfying or outThere was in France, indeed, at this time, no doing the extravagant wishes and expectations legitimate, wholesome, or real aristocracy.-- of the most extravagant and sanguine populace The noblesse, who were persecuted for bear that ever existed. For a man to get a lead in ing that name, were quite disconnected from such an assembly, it was by no means necesthe people. Their habits of perpetual resi- sary that he should have previously possessed dence in the capital, and their total independ- any influence or authority in the community; ence of the good opinion of their vassals, that he should be connected with powerful had deprived them of any real influence over families, or supported by great and extensive the minds of the lower orders; and the or- associations. If he could dazzle and overawe ganization of society had not yet enabled the in debate ; if he could obtain the acclamations rich manufacturers or proprietors to assume of the mob of Versailles, and make himself such an influence. The persons sent as de- familiar to the eyes and the ears of the as. puties to the States-General, therefore, were sembly and its galleries, he was in a fair train ihose chiefly who, by intrigue and boldness, for having a great share in the direction of an and by professions of uncommon zeal for what assembly exercising absolute sovereignty over were then the great objects of popular pursuit, thirty millions of men. The prize was too had been enabled to carry the votes of the tempting not to attract a multitude of comelectors. A notion of talent, and an opinion petitors; and the assembly for many
months that they would be loud and vehement in was governed by those who outvied their supporting those requests upon which the associates in the impracticable extravagance people had already come to a decision, were of their patriotism, and sacrificed most protheir passports into that assembly. They fusely the real interests of the people at the were sent there to express the particular shrine of a precarious popularity. demands of the people, and not to give a In this way, the assembly, from the inherent general pledge of their acquiescence in what vices of its constitution, ceased to he respectmight there be enacted. They were not the able or useful. The same causes speedily hereditary patrons of the people, but their put an end to its security, and converted it hired advocates for a particular pleading.– into an instrument of destruction. They had no general trust or authority over Mere popularity was at first the instrument them, but were chosen as their special mes. by which this unsteady legislature was govsengers, out of a multitude whose influence erned : But when it became apparent, that an. A pretensions were equally powerful. whoever could obtain the direction or com
When these men found themselves, as it mand of it, must possess the whole authority were by accident, in possession of the whole of the state, parties became lees scrupulous power of the state, and invested with the about the means they employed for that purabsolute government of the greatest nation pose, and soon found out that violence and
terror were infinitely more effectual and ex- was attached, from their fortune, their age, or peditious than persuasion and eloquence. The their official station ; if, in short, instead of people at large, who had no atiachment to grasping presumptuously at the exclusive diany families or individuals among their dele- rection of the national councils, and arrogating gates, and who contented themselves with every thing on the credit of their zealous idolizing the assembly in general, so long as patriotism and inexperienced abilities, they it passed decrees to their liking, were passive had sought to strengthen themselves by an and indifferent spectators of the transference alliance with what was respectable in the of power which was effected by the pikes of existing establishments, and attached themthe Parisian multitude; and looked with equal selves at first as disciples to those whom they affection upon every successive junto which might fairly expect speedily to outgrow and assumed the management of its deliberations. eclipse. Having no natural representatives, they felt Upon a review of the whole matter, it themselves equally connected with all who seems impossible to acquit those of the revoexercised the legislative function; and, being lutionary patriots, whose intentions are aildestitute of a real aristocracy, were without mitted to be pure, of great precipitation, prethe means of giving effectual support even to sumption, and imprudence. Apologies may those who might appear to deserve it. En be found for them, perhaps, in the inexpecouraged by this situation of affairs, the most rience which was incident to their situation; daring, unprincipled, and profligate, proceeded in their constant apprehension of being sepato seize upon the defenceless legislature, and, rated before their task was accomplished; in driving all their antagonists before them by the exasperation which was excited by the violence or intimidation, entered without op- insidious proceedings of the cabinet; and in position upon the supreme functions of gov- the intoxication which naturally resulted from ernment. They soon found, however, that the magnitude of their early triumph, and the the arms by which they had been victorious, noise and resounding of their popularity. But were capable of being turned against them- the errors into which they fell were inexselves; and those who were envious of their cusable, we think, in politicians of the eightsuccess, or ambitious of their distinction, easily eenth century; and while we pity their suffound means to excite discontent among the ferings, and admire their genius, we cannot multitude, now inured to insurrection, and to feel much respect for their wisdom, or any employ them in pulling down those very in- surprise at their miscarriage. dividuals whom they had so recently exalted. The preceding train of reflection was irreThe disposal of the legislature thus became a sistibly
suggested to us by the title and the conprize to be fought for in the clubs and contents of the volumes now before us. Among spiracies and insurrections of a corrupted the virtuous members of the first Assembly, metropolis; and the institution of a national there was no one who stood higher than Bailly. representative had no other effect, than that As a scholar and a man of science, he had of laying the government open to lawless long stood in the very first rank of celebrity: force and Nagitious audacity.
His private morals were not only irreproachIt is in this manner, it appears to us, that able, but exemplary; and his character and from the want of a natural and efficient aris- dispositions had always been remarkable for tocracy to exercise the functions of represent- gentleness, moderation, and philanthropy. ative legislators, the National Assembly of Drawn unconsciously, if we may believe hi France was betrayed into extravagance, and own account, into public life, rather than imfell a prey to faction; that the institution pelled into it by any movement of ambition, itself became a source of public misery and he participated in the enthusiasm, and in the disorder, and converted a civilized monarchy, imprudence, from which no one seemed at first into a sanguinary democracy, and then that time to be exempted; and in spite of an into a military despotism.
early retreat, speedily suffered that fate by It would be the excess of injustice, we which all the well nieaning were then deshave already said, to impute those disastrous tined to expiate their errors. His popularity consequences to the moderate and virtuous was at one time equal to that of any
of the individuals who sat in the Constituent As- idols of the day; and if it was gained by sembly: But if it be admitted that they mighị some degree of blameable indulgence and have been easily foreseen, it will not be easy unjustifiable zeal, it was forfeited at last (and to exculpate them from the charge of very along with his life) by a resolute opposition blameable imprudence. It would be difficult, to disorder, and a meritorious perseverance indeed, to point out any course of conduct by in the discharge of his duty. which those dangers might have been entirely avoided : But they would undoubtedly have The sequel of this article, containing a full been less formidable, if the enlightened mem- abstract of ine learned author's recollections bers of the Third Estate had endeavoured to of the first six months only of his mayoralty, form a party with the more liberal and popu- is now omitted; both as too minute to retain lar among the nobility; if they had associated any interest at this day, and as superseded to themselves a greater number of those to by the more comprehensive details which whose persons a certain degree of influence will be found in the succeeding article.
(September, 1818.) Considérations sur les Principaux Evènemens de la Révolution Françoise. Ouvrage Posthume
de Madame la Baronne de Staël. Publié par M. le Duc De Broglie et M. le Baron A. DE STAËL. En trois tomes. 8vo. pp. 1285. Londres: 1818.
No book can possibly possess a higher like this, we have not yet facts enough for so interest than this which is now before us. much philosophy; and must be contented, It is the last, dying bequest of the most bril- we fear, for a long time to come, to call many liant writer that has appeared in our days;- things accidental, which it would be more and it treats of a period of history which we satisfactory to reser to determinate causes. already know to be the most important that In her estimate of the happiness, and her has occurred for centuries; and which those notions of the wisdom of private life, we who look back on it, after other centuries think her both unfortunate and erroneous. have elapsed, will probably consider as still She makes passions and high sensibilities a more important.
great deal too indispensable; and vamishes We cannot stop now to say all that we think over all her pictures too uniformly with the of Madame de Staël :-and yet we must say, glare of an extravagant or affected enthuthat we think her the most powerful writer siasm. She represents men, in short, as a that her country has produced since the time great deal more unhappy, more depraved, of Voltaire and Rousseau—and the greatest and more energetic, ihan they are-- and writer, of a woman, that any time or any seems to respect them the more for it. In country has produced. Her taste, perhaps, her politics she is far more unexceptionable. is not quite pure; and her style is too irregu- She is everywhere the warm friend and anilar and ambitious. These faults may even mated advocate of liberty—and of liberal, go deeper. Her passion for effect, and the practical, and philanthropic principles. On tone of exaggeration which it naturally pro- ihose subjects we cannot blame her enthuduces, have probably interfered occasionally siasm, which has nothing in it vindictive or with the soundness of her judgment, and provoking; and are far more inclined to envy given a suspicious colouring to some of her than to reprove that sanguine and buoyant representations of fact. At all events, they temper of mind which, after all she has seen have rendered her impatient of the humbler and suffered, still leads her to overrate, in our task of completing her explanatory details, apprehension, both the merit of past attempts or stating in their order all the premises of at political amelioration, and the chances of her reasonings. She gives her history in their success hereafter. 'It is in that futurity, abstracts, and her theories in aphorisms :- we fear, and in the hopes that make it preand the greater part of her works, instead of sent, that the lovers of mankind must yet, presenting that systematic unity from which for a while, console themselves for the disapthe highest degrees of strength and beauty pointments which still seem to beset them. and clearness must ever be derived, may be if Madame de Staël, however, predicts with fairly described as a collection of striking 100 much confidence, it must be admitted fragments—in which a great deal of repe that her labours have a powerful tendency to tition does by no means diminish the eflect realize her predictions. Her writings are all of a good deal of inconsistency. In those full of the most animating views of the im. same works, however, whether we consider provement of our social condition, and the them as fragments or as systems, we do not means by which it may be effected—the most hesitate to say that there are more original striking refutations of prevailing errors on and profound observations—more new images these great subjects—and the most persuasive -greater sagacity combined with higher im- expostulations with those who may think their agination and more of the true philosophy interest or their honour concerned in mainof the passions, the politics, and the literature taining them. Even they who are the least of her contemporaries—than in any other inclined to agree with her, must admit that author we can now remember. She has great there is much to be learned from her writings; eloquence on all subjects; and a singular and we can give them no higher praise than pathos in representing those bitterest agonies to say, that their tendency is not only to proof the spirit
, in which wretchedness is aggra- mote the interests of philanthropy and indevated by remorse, or by regrets that partake pendence, but to soften, rather than exasperate, of its character. Though it is difficult to re- ihe prejudices to which they are opposed. sist her when she is in earnest, we cannot say of the work before us, we do not know that we agree in all her opinions, or approve very well what to say. It contains a multiof all her sentiments. She overrates the im- tude of admirable remarks-and a still greater portance of literature, either in determining number of curious details; for Madame de ihe character or affecting the happiness of Staël was not only a contemporary, but an eye. mankind; and she theorises too confidently witness of much that she describes, and had on its past and its future bistory. On subjects the very best access to learn what did not fall
under her immediate observation. Few per- giant outline which it traces on the sky. A sons certainly could be better qualified to ap- traveller who wanders through a rugged and preciate the relative importance of the sub- picturesque district, though struck with the jects that fell under her review; and no one, beauty of every new valley, or the grandeur we really think, so little likely to colour and of every cliff that he passes, has no notion at distort them, from any personal or party feel all of the general configuration of the country, ings. With all those rare qualifications, how- or even of the relative situation of the objecis ever, and inestimable advantages for perform- he has been admiring; and will understand ing the task of an historian, we cannot say all those things, and his own route among that she has made a good history. It is too them, a thousand times better, from a smal] much broken into fragments. The narrative map on a scale of half an inch to a mile, is too much interrupted by reflections: and which represents neither thickets or hamlets, the reflections too much subdivided, to suit than from the most painful efforts to combiné the subdivisions of the narrative. There are the indications of the strongest memory. The too many events omitted, or but cursorily case is the same with those who live through noticed, to give the work the interest of a full periods of great historical interest. They are and flowing history; and a great deal too too near the scene—too much interested in many detailed and analyzed, to let it pass for each successive event—and too much agi. an essay on the philosophy, or greater results tated with their rapid succession, to form any of these memorable transactions. We are just estimate of the character or result of the the most struck with this last fault--which whole. They are like private soldiers in the perhaps is inseparable from the condition of middle of a great battle, or rather of a busy a contemporary writer ;-for, though the ob- and complicated campaign-hardly knowing servation may sound at first like a paradox, whether they have lost or won, and having we are rather inclined to think that the best but the most obscure and imperfect concephistorical compositions not only the most tion of the general movements in which their pleasing to read, but the most just and in- own fate has been involved. The foreigner structive in themselves—must be written at who reads of them in the Gazette, or the a very considerable distance from the times peasant who sees them from the top of a disto which they relate. When we read an elo. tant hill or a steeple, has in fact a far better quent and judicious account of great events idea of them. transacted in other ages, our first sentiment Of the thousand or fifteen hundred names is that of regret at not being able to learn that have been connected in contemporary more of them. We wish anxiously for a fuller fame with the great events of the last twentydetail of particulars—we envy those who had five years, how many will go down to posthe good fortune to live in the time of such terity? In all probability not more than interesting occurrences, and blame them for twenty: And who shall yet venture to say having left us so brief and imperfect a me- which twenty it will be ? But it is the same morial of them. But the truth is, if we may with the events as with the actors. How judge from our own experience, that the often, during that period, have we mourned greater part of those who were present to or exulted, with exaggerated emotions, over those mighty operations, were but very im- occurrences that we already discover to have perfectly aware of their importance, and con- been of no permanent importance !—how cerjectured but little of the influence they were tain is that the far greater proportion of io exert on future generations. Their atten- those to which we still attach an interest, will tion was successively engaged by each sepa- be viewed with the same indifference by the rate act of the great drama that was passing very next generation !—and how probable, before them; but did not extend to the con- thai the whole train and tissue of the history nected effect of the whole, in which alone will appear, to a remoter posterity, under a posterity was to find the grandeur and inter- totally different character and colour from any est of the scene. The connection indeed of that the most penetrating observer of the prethose different acts is very often not then sent day has thought of ascribing to it! Was discernible. The series often stretches on, there any contemporary, do we think, of Mabeyond the reach of the generation which homet, of Gregory VII., of Faust, or Columwitnessed its beginning, and makes it impos- bus, who formed ihe same estimate of their sible for them to integrate what had not yet achievements that we do at this day? Were attained its completion; while, from similar the great and wise men who brought about causes, many of the terms that at first ap- the Reformation, as much aware of its impeared most important are unavoidably dis- portance as the whole world is at present? or carded, to bring the problem within a manage- does any one imagine, that, even in the later able compass. Time, in short, performs the and more domestic events of the establishsame services to events, which distance does ment of the English Commonwealth in 1648, to visible objects. It obscures and gradually or the English Revolution in 1688, the large annihilates the small, but renders those that and energetic spirits by whom those great are very great much more distinct and con- events were conducted were fully sensible of ceivable. If we would know the true form their true character and bearings, or at all and bearings of an Alpine ridge, we must not foresaw the mighty consequences of which grovel among the irregularities of its surface, they have since been prolific ? but observe, from the distance of leagues, the But though it may thus require the lipse direction of its ranges and peaks, and the of ages to develope the true character of a