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In the portrait which we have now endeavoured to draw of Frederick's private character in old age and his system of administration in peace, we are conscious that many of the features may appear scarcely consistent with each other, or as appertaining to one and the same mind. As in the giant figure of Dante's vision :
• Dentro dal monte sta dritto un gran veglio:
La sua testa è di fin' oro formata,
Ciascuna parte, fuor che l'oro, è rotta !!
Mr. Macaulay, in a most able sketch of Frederick's early life and campaigns—a sketch which first appeared in the pages of a contemporary journal, but since among his own collected Essays
-calls his Prussian Majesty 'the greatest King that has in modern times succeeded by right of birth to a throne.' With very sincere respect for Mr. Macaulay's critical authority, we must here however dissent from his conclusion. Several Royal and legitimate names occur to us as deserving to stand higher on the rolls of fame. Thus, upon the whole, and not without a consciousness of many blemishes and errors in our hero, we should prefer to Frederick, the Fourth Henry of France. But without any doubt or hesitation we should assign the palm over both to Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. As with Frederick, his grandfather was the first King of his race; to that King, like Frederick, he was lineal and peaceful heir. Succeeding to the throne at a far earlier age than the Prussian monarch, he fell in the field of glory when only thirty-seven-that age so often fatal to geniusyet within that narrow space, during those few and youthful years, how much had he already achieved for immortality ! statesman he
may be held to have surpassed ; as a warrior to have equalled, Frederick. And if lofty principles and a thought of things beyond this earth be admitted as an element of greatness (as undoubtedly they should be), how much will the balance then incline to the side of Gustavus! The victory gained by the Prussian King at Rosbach was, we allow, fully equal to the victory gained by the Swedish King at Leipsick on nearly the same
ground one hundred and twenty-seven years before. The two Monarchs were alike in the action; but how striking the contrast between them in the evening of the well-fought day! Gustavus kneeling down at the head of all his troops to give God the glory! Frederick seated alone in his tent, and composing his loathsome Ode!
The character of Frederick is now, we rejoice to think, viewed by his own countrymen in a fair and discriminating spirit. On the one hand there is, and there ought to be, the greatest admiration for his military genius and renown; on the other hand there is no leaning to his infidel philosophy, or to his iron despotism, or to his fantastic notions of finance. The French language is not now preferred to the German by the Germans themselves, nor is the literature of Berlin any longer the pale reflex of that of Paris. On the contrary, there appears to grow on the banks of the Elbe and the Rhine the inclination to a careful study of the kindred tongue-to a generous emulation with the kindred race, of England. Even now such names as Humboldt and Hallam, as Eastlake and Cornelius, may worthily stand side by side. Nor, we hope, is the day far distant when the progress of Prussia in her constitutional rights shall enable her statesmen to vie with ours in the principles of free institutions, and in that manly and unpremeditated eloquence which free institutions alone can produce or preserve.
Art. II. - The Lives of the Chancellors and Keepers of the Great
Seal of England. By John, Lord Campbell, A.M., F.R.S. E. Second Series, Vols. IV. and V., 1846. Third Series, Vols.
VI. and VII., 1847. London. 8vo. HAVING, unluckily for ourselves, omitted to review the second
series of this work at the time of its appearance, we now find four bulky volumes all at once on our table; and how to deal with such a mass of matter, comprehending in fact not only the biography of a dozen of the most distinguished of Englishmen, but a historical review of our jurisprudence and our politics from the Revolution of 1688 to that of 1832, we must confess is puzzling. To do justice to four such volumes in one of our articles is evidently impossible. We must throw aside any notion of examining even one of these Lives in a regular manner; we inust also, we think, make up our mind to dwell with comparative brevity on the greatest names, because, as might have been anticipated, the world had already been in possession of comparatively satisfactory statements in connection with them; and finally, not
doubting doubting that the whole work is to maintain a permanent place, we suppose there will be no harm if we endeavour at present to select points and passages likely to be particularly interesting to our own contemporaries, as bringing before them the views of the author in respect to recent occurrences and questions still undetermined. This is the performance of an ex-Chancellor, who now holds a Cabinet office; and obiter dicta—although presented not unfrequently in a light colloquial form, occasionally perhaps even in a somewhat over-jocular familiarity of phrase—may be hardly less deserving of consideration than his lordship's most elaborate specimen of biographical narrative, legal criticisin, or political disquisition.
There is indeed one feature which must attract everybody's notice, and may be smiled at by many—the perpetual recurrence, we mean, of foot-notes in which the noble and learned author's own personal history is expressly quoted or alluded to. We too, it must be owned, have now and then smiled; and Lord Campbell will readily pardon us when he finds (as he will do on examination) that such ebullitions often occur at the bottom of the very page in which he has been rebuking the egotism or some kindred weakness of an ex-chancellor long since hearsed in marble. But, on the other hand, while several of these references to his own experience are valuable to the history of manners in his profession—and others are honourable to him as unaffected effusions of warm feeling towards old friends of obscurer days—we must say that we, as mere critics, are well pleased to have the evidence which this prevailing indulgence affords of its being ever in his mind who it is that is addressing the public, whether in solemn text or sportive or pensive annotation. He never, it is clear, forgets either his own past or his own present, or is unmindful of what things may be in store for him. He never dallies with the business of the Law or the State ; if he cracks a jest in his robe-de-chambre, the ermine at least hangs within view; we are never tempted to listen as if he were ainusing himself with a pococurante speculation of human affairs, contemplating the working world like some placid sophist of Ancient (or Modern) Athens from a basket in the clouds.
It follows that Lord Campbell is always before his reader in the avowed character and attitude of a Whig; and this is by no means a disagreeable circumstance. We entirely acquit him now, as we did when dealing with his first series, of any design to exalt and purify one dead man merely because he was a Whig, or to depress or blacken another merely because he was a Tory. There are few historical critics, of whatever political sect, that stand more clear of such an imputation. But the party-prejudice was so worked into him long years before he thought of chronicling chancellors, that he could no more get rid of it now, even if he were aware of its existence, than he could of his veneration for John Knox or his pride in the Macallammore. It is a part of the man--and he is probably as unconscious of its operation on his judgment as he is of the machinery that circulates his blood. Every reader before he has gone through half a dozen pages perceives this: it is not like a mark distinguishable here and there at the turning of a fold, but a thread interwoven throughout the whole web; therefore we all know how the case stands, and there is no more chance of our being de. ceived than there had been intention to deceive us.
There is another thread, a finer and less obtrusive one, and which occurs less regularly-yet we think it may be so often traced, especially as we reach modern dates, that it deserves mention. Lord Campbell tells, and we believe quite truly, that David, Earl of Buchan, brother to Lord Erskine, regarded the Lords of Buchan from the beginning of their peerage, as constituting a sort of corporation, or rather as a real undying essence per se, insomuch that he, the then visible and tangible Peer, not only represented in an heraldic sense, but continued, carried on, and embodied, as a human creature, the very physical and intellectual being of the antecedent Earls of Buchan one and all-to this literal extent, that he had no more hesitation in talking about what I'dared or suffered in the cause of the Queen of Scots, than about what 'I' spouted or scribbled in glorification of General Washington. That old gentleman seems to have been a caricature of every harmless eccentricity; but in this particular he perhaps merely exhibited in magnified and monstrous development a sort of feeling that pervades every body of hereditary nobility; and it is of trite observation how soon all the habitual feelings of such a class are imbibed by those who once find themselves admitted within its pale. We think we perceive its influence in Lord Campbell's book. He seems to have before his eyes either a suspicion that the present heir will consider himself as to a certain extent damaged by any aspersion that may be thrown upon his remotest ancestor-or that other living men, peers or commoners, will be apt to take some such view of the matter. He writes now and then of a doubtful character, who has been dust and ashes for a hundred years, with the same cautious politeness as if he were to flank or face himself in the flesh the next time he goes down to help Lord Cottenham with the appeals. For the effect is occasionally as observable when the actual wearer of the coronet is a political heretic, as we may naturally expect when he happens to have been nurtured among or
adopted adopted by the orthodox. Lord Campbell could not indeed help feeling himself involved in additional difficulty in cases (and these were not few) where Tory families had at his request intrusted him with the private diaries and correspondence of their ancestors -in all likelihood but slightly pre-examined. Such courtesy and confidence could not but bring fresh embarrassment to a position already sufficiently complicated.
Some notion of the delicacy of his task may be drawn from certain statistics of the postscript to vol. vii. The first • law lord' ever created was Scrope, under Richard II., but his peerage is in abeyance. Probably other Cancellarian peerages are also in abeyance, and very many are extinct. Yet he enumerates seventeen peers, his contemporaries, who are descended in the direct male line from Chancellors of England—namely, two Marquises, Winchester and Camden; two Barons, Montfort and Erskine; and no less than thirteen Earls, viz. Fortescue, Bradford, Coventry, Shaftesbury, Winchelsea and Nottingham, Guilford, Cowper, Macclesfield, Lovelace, Hardwicke, Talbot, Bathurst, Eldon. It signifies nothing that some of these houses did not actually owe their nobility to the Marble Chair—as Winchester, Shaftesbury, Bathurst: from the Chancellors they are sprung,-in almost all the cases to the Woolsack they owe their highest titles—in all a large proportion of their hereditary wealth. Several other Chancellors are represented in the House of Lords through females and fresh creations :-for example, Littleton, Clarendon, Trevor, Somers, Thurlow, Loughborough.
In all, the Chancellors and Lords Keepers, beginning with Augmendus in A.D. 605, and ending with Lord Eldon, who died in 1838, are in number one hundred and sixty-seven. Of these high magistrates only one appears to have come to a violent end while in office, viz. Simon de Sudbury, murdered by the mob in · Wat Tyler's riots'—to borrow the gentle phrase of an ex-Attorney-General; but More and several others were beheaded after resigning the Great Seal. During the last 300 years six have been impeached-Wolsey, Bacon, Finch, Clarendon, Macclesfield, and Somers—which last alone was acquitted.
Down to the time of Edward I. it was nothing uncommon to sce a Chancellor who could not speak a word of English; but since then they have all been born subjects of the British crown --and only one of them born in a colony, Lord Lyndhurst. Our author says
'When the English and Irish bars are amalgamated, as they are soon likely to be, Irishmen, it may be hoped, will often be Chancellors of England.' As yet the rule has been, as in London advertisements for house