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pressed by a peculiar distemper which, though not the effect of debauchery, probably reduced him to the state here described, it is impossible not to acknowledge the penetration, it is difficult to blame the spite by which this just and cutting rebuke was dictated.
But the ultimate cause of the evil lay still deeper; principles and practice, operating alternately as cause and effect, are generally observed to corrupt each other. The understanding of Mr. Gibbon was first perverted—his imagination was next debauched-and, lastly, his respect for himself and for mankind was destroyed. There is an ancient Greek writer, whose works, had they found a place in Mr. Gibbon's library, might possibly have directed bim to the following passage : Διοι γνούλες τον θεον εχ ως Θεον εδοξασαν, η ευχαριςησαν, αλλ' εμαθαιωθησαν εν τοις διαλογισμοις αυλων, και εσκόλισθη ή ασυνείος αυτων καρδια-Διο και παρεδωκεν αυθες ο Θεος εν ταις επιθυμιαις αυλων εις ακαθαρσιαν. .
Though the infidelity of Gibbon was, doubtless, in a great degree, a creature of the heart, yet a single defect, in a poble understanding, may have contributed to produce it. With taste, invention, imagination, and memory, in greater perfection than those qualities are for the most part singly bestowed upon men, Mr. Gibbon’s reasoning powers were not of the first order. Quick in apprehending, and eager in exposing single flaws and defects in evidence, he appears to have been incapable of comprehending a great and complicated body of proofs, external and internal, such as must have been weighed with care and candour before a man is entitled to reject the Gospel, and much more so before he is justi-. fied in attempting to unsettle the faith of others. But his offences have been visited upon his own liead by a partial privation, at least, of those posthumous honours, to which, in despair of a better immortality, he eagerly aspired; and it is to the honour of the English nation, that genius and erudition, such as those of Gibbon, have not been able to preserve his memory from reproach, or, what to him would have been more galling, from compassion. For a season, indeed, like his neglected or forgotten predecessors, he might subvert the faith of the shallow, and the morals of the young; but he is an English classic who now begius to sleep upon the shelf, and Paley has more readers than the infidel historian. On the whole, as a champion who sallied forth to the destruction of what he deemed the equal bigotry and fanaticism of all religions, his arm was unquestionably powerful, his lance sharp and glittering; he may have successfully transpierced many pernicious superstitions; he may have chased before him many dark and hideous phantoms of the middle ages; but when he attacks the basis of Christianity, he tilts against a rock, and his bruised and pointless weapon recoils upon himself.
To the noble and highly respectable editor of these volumes we have in the last place to express our obligations for a collection na less pure and inoffensive, than it is, in its different parts, learned, acute and elegant. But perhaps we are not acquainted with the full extent of these obligations. Perhaps, (and the character of Gibbon entitles his memory to no exemption from such a suspicion,) perhaps we have to be grateful alike for what has been withheld and for what has been bestowed. It is not improbable that in this edition his friend may have exercised towards his remains a kind severity, which he wanted the virtue to exercise upon himself. It is scarcely to be believed that all his stores of poison, moral and intellectual, had been exhausted on his great work. After a discharge however copious, an understanding and imagination like his, had the power of reproducing such secretions with great rapidity: should this conjecture have any foundation, we entreat, we adjure Lord Sheffield, as a lover of the best interests of mankind, not to think his duty discharged by the suppresion of such evils, without their extinction. After his decease, his bureaus may be rified by some needy and unprincipled wretch, who, with ostentatious and interested impiety, may draw forth the last dregs of Gibbon, which are now perchance quietly settled upon their lees. In Italy, where the nudities of ancient statuary are endured by both sexes, there are however some groups of the most exquisite workmanship, on subjects so abominable, that even the lax morality of that country has condemned them to a strict concealment—had they been the work of Praxiteles himself, they ought to have been broken to pieces.
ART. IV. Marie; ou, Les Hollandaises. A Paris. 1814. 3
vols. pp. 705. THIS 'HIS is, we are inclined to think, the worst novel we have ever
read; we are sure it is the worst we have been obliged to review. Others may be found more indelicate, a few more tiresome, half a dozen more absurd, and one or two more trite and childish: but it would not be possible, we believe, to name any single work which possesses within itself so great an aggregate share of all these bad qualities as · Marie. Why then do we condescend to waste our own and our readers' time upon it? only, we confess, for the sake of its author's name or rather names : this farrago of dulness, folly and bad taste being the work of that polyonomous personage the Count de St. Leu, alias the Ex-Constable of France, alias the ci-devant King of Holland, alias Louis Bonaparte, alias Luigi Buonaparte.
We had always heard that this poor man (and he has now one title more to the epithet of poor) possessed little of the ferocious abilities of his brother, but we gave him credit for talents and tastes of a more amiable kind; and we confess that we felt all the interest and respect which we expressed in our last number* for his
person and character. We had not attributed his moderation to the meanness of his talents ; nor did we consider his love of private life as a proof of his imbecility, but were charitably inclined to believe that Luigi was an anomaly in the Buonaparte tribe; and, as the French song says that his mother
à vingt ans
Avait un mari et dix amans,' we were speculating on the theory of his being really the sori of old Carlo, who had the character of being a worthy and not un informed man.
But this unhappy work has destroyed all prestige' about Luigi, as Elba has done that of Napoleone :-the author of Marie must be a person of indelicate mind, of false morals, of bad taste, and of the meanest abilities. Nor can it be pleaded for him that this is a hasty and inconsiderate production, for the edition before us purports to be the second ; and to contain, even to scrupulosity, all the aniendments which the ingenious author has been able to make, since the first publication of his work in 1812.
• The first edition of “ Mary, or the Pains of Love,” which was printed at Gratz in 1812, having reached France, I authorize Mr. Arthur Bertrand to publish a second edition under the title of Mary, or the Dutchwomen,' on the express condition that he shall follow scrupulously all the alterations which I have lately made, and of which the original manuscript has been transmitted to him: and I disavow any other edition than that of Mr. Arthur Bertrand.--Signed L. DE ST. LEU (Advertisement.)
We have not had the good fortune of seeing the edition of Gratz, but we can easily imagine what kind of alterations the royal author has made in his immortal work, when we find that one of them, in so important a part as the title, has been to change the gentle description of the Pains of Love, into the more melodious and moving title of the Dutchwomen!
The plot of this delectable tale may be collected from the following summary.
A widow lady, who is still young and handsome, but who is also inconceivably virtuous and prudent, has educated her own brother Julius, and a female cousin Mary, whom she intends in due time to unite.--Julius, on the occasion of the approaching nuptials, is
* Vol. XII, No. XXIII. Art. XI. p. 253.
obliged to proceed from his sister's house (which is, we are told, delightfully situated between two dykes on the marsh which divides the Leck and Waal) to Lille en Flandre,' as Julius carefully and geographically describes it, to perform some formalities relative to his and Mary's fortune, which happens, we know not how, to be in certain funds at Lille -on his arrival there, about the commencement of the French revolution, he is laid hold of, though a Dutchman, by the military requisition, and sent to the French army of Italy. This well imagined and probable incident is followed by another almost as likely ;-his sister and his cousin proceed to Paris to solicit his discharge; he in the meanwhile is wounded, taken, and sent into Poland as a prisoner of war, where he is made a prisoner of love by a Polish countess, who invites or rather forces him to an illicit intercourse: in the meanwhile Hermacinthe, the inconceivable sister, and Mary, suffer all the danger of the reign of terror at Paris. Hermacinthe is sent to Nantes to be déportée' to Cayenne, and Mary is obliged to marry a certain Duke of Ast, to extricate herself from the effects of a revoluc. tionary law, which obliged all young women of family to marry either soldiers or good citizens. We are not told how, at that critical time, the duke contrived not only to escape himself, but to be able to protect a wife under the law; but no sooner is the marriage consummated and the plot thus thickened, than the reign of terror passes, and Julius escapes from his Polish countess and prison, and returns to witness Mary's pining misery, and the Duke's husband-like indifference. After a train of absurd incidents and everlasting arguments between the three virtuous persons, Julius, Mary, and Hermacinthe, (the latter acting as duenna to the others,)
after slender hopes, strong wishes, and finally deep despair, the duke is so obliging as to go off, one fine morning, with a woman of the town, and shortly after to unravel all the perplexities of Julius, Mary, Hermacinthe and the author, by shooting himself out of mere gaieté de cæur,' and thus enable M. de St. Leu to finish his novel, according to the old formula, with the wedding of the true lovers.
As this excellent work is in that most lively and entertaining form, a series of letters, a few other characters were necessary to maintain the correspondence, and accordingly we are brought acquainted with a young gentleman called Adolphus, a great friend of Julius ; these youths mutually confide to each other the stories of their innocent loves, and sometimes, ' pour égayer la matière,' of some little adventures which happen not to be quite so innocent. Adolphus, however, quits his loose way of life,-casts off his mistresses, and marries a certain Dutch Adelaide, from the province of East Friesland, with whom he lives very happily in a VOL. XII. NO. XXIV.
close intimacy with Julius and Mary, who, besides a fine rising family of their own, bring up with great care and affection a little child which Mary had by the Duke of Ast.
Such is the story with which the King of Holland has ornamented modern literature, and we hope our readers are already satisfied with the profound knowledge of human nature, and the vivid force and originality which characterize every circumstance of this agreeable invention : but if we descend a little into the details of expres, sion, incident, and character, they will be still more astonished and delighted.
Julius, to most readers, would appear to be little better than what is vulgarly called a nincumpoop-his incomparable sister has him in complete subjection, and he does not dare take a walk without her permission; yet to our great surprize and comfort we find that he is, at a very early period of the story, an admired author! a circumstance, however, which was quite as surprizing to his sweetheart and his guardian-sister as to us, when the ingenious Julius contrived to make them select from a great packet of books his · Essai sur le Bonheur, deux petits volumes in-12. At this excellent little work Herniacinthe is quite émue,' Mary is quite enchantée,' and the old Swiss governess cried out, avec sa naïveté Suisse, J'ai éprouvée tout cela.'—Julius could no longer keep his secret—'il était aux anges,' and throwing himself at his cousin's feet, made her an offer of his book and his heart.--' Quel tableau!' he exclaims; and we are ready to admit that the whole scene, in M. de St. Leu's own words, exceeds any thing we have ever before stared at. We cannot refuse to our readers the satisfaction of knowing the immediate consequence to Julius of this great discovery-bis own sister,-in whose house he had lived all his life, actually invites him to breakfast ! 'tis literally so.
Since then,' he writes, “Hermacinthe pays me more respect, and seems to think seriously about me; every thing announces it to me.To-morrow she will give us a breakfast : strange and wonderful event I shall be in the company of those ladies !'~p. 19.
Of Hermacinthe, who is the goddess of wisdom in human shape, qur readers will be glad to know a little more. The account she gives of herself and her husband is so natural, so reasonable, and so delightfully expressed, that we shall make a few extracts. We almost tremble at undertaking the task of translating these exquisite passages, as our readers will suspect that we do injustice to the inimitable original ; all that we can say is, that we shall endeavour . to be as faithful as possible. *
We beg our readers to observe, that it is to her brother and her cousin, who never have been out of her house, that she thinks it. necessary to explain the followiug interesting particularse