« PreviousContinue »
preserved unpolluted, have endowed us with almost the exclusive privilege of Music; that science of harmonious sounds which the ancients recognised as most divine, and deified in the person of their most beautiful creation. I speak not of the past, though, were I to enter into the history of the lords of melody, you would find it the annals of Hebrew genius. But at this moment even, musical Europe is ours.
There is not a company of singers, not an orchestra in a single capital, that is not crowded
with our children, under the feigned names which they adopt to conciliate the dark aversion which your posterity will some day disclaim with shame and disgust. Almost every great composer, skilled musician, almost every voice that ravishes you with its transporting strains, spring from our tribes. The catalogue is too vast to enumerate; too illustrious to dwell for a moment on secondary names, however eminent. Enough for us that the three great creative minds to whose exquisite inventions all nations at this moment yield; Rossini, Meyerbeer, Mendelssohn, are of Hebrew race; and little do your men of fashion, your muscadins' of Paris, and your dandies of London, as they thrill into raptures at the notes of a Pasta or a Grisi, little do they suspect that they are offering their homage to the sweet singers of Israel.'
This plaidoyer in favour of his race, and, by implication, in favour of his own pretensions to be minister, has excited so much laughter, not on account of its shallowness as a theory of races, as of its amusing personal pretension. Of this we are assured, that if the Jewish race is the finest in the world, Vivian Grey is a poor specimen of his race; and if Europe is to be governed by Jews, we would rather see another specimen governing England. For although we will say in his favour that he would not govern us upon those parish principles which assume that ' Bills' are the things needful, we confess that such is our invincible distrust in his capacity for anything like serious, sustained thought, that we would rather submit to the experiments of the Socialists than to his.
Besides his Caucasian qualification he has another, and, according to him, indispensable qualification-youth. Plato, somewhere in the Republic,' says that great works are only accomplished in youth: νέων δε πάντες οι μεγάλοι και οι πολλοί scovou ; but he did not write his Republic or his · Laws' in youth, and Sophocles was ninety when he produced the master-piece of Athenian tragedy. There is, however, a good deal of truth in what D’Israeli says:
"Nay,' said the stranger; for life in general there is but one decree. Youth is a blunder; manhood a struggle; old age a regret. Do not suppose,' he added, smiling, that I hold that youth is genius; all that I say is, that genius, when young, is divine. Why the greatest captains of ancient and modern times both conquered Italy at five-andtwenty! Youth, extreme youth, overthrew the Persian empire. Don John of Austria won Lepanto at twenty-five—the greatest battle of modern times; had it not been for the jealousy of Philip, the next year he would have been Emperor of Mauritania. Gaston de Foix was only twenty-two when he stood a victor on the plain of Ravenna. Every one remembers Condé and Rocroy at the same age. Gustavus Adolphus died at thirty-eight. Look at his captains; that wonderful Duke of Weimar; only thirty-six when he died. Banier himself, after all his miracles, died at forty-five. Cortes was little more than thirty when he gazed upon the golden cupolas of Mexico. When Maurice of Saxony died at thirty-two, all Europe acknowledged the loss of the greatest captain and the profoundest statesman of the age. Then there is Nelson, Clive-but these are warriors, and perhaps you may think there are greater things than war- do not: I worship the Lord of Hosts. But take the most illustrious achievements of civil 'prudence. Innocent III., the greatest of the popes, was the despot of Christendom at thirty-seven. John de Medici was a cardinal at fifteen, and, Guicciardini tells us, baffled with his statecraft Ferdinand of Arragon himself. He was pope, as Leo X., at thirty-seven. Luther robbed even him of his richest province at thirty-five. Take Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley, they worked with young brains. Ignatius was only thirty when he made his pilgrimage, and wrote the
Spiritual Exercises.'' Pascal wrote a great work at sixteen, the greatest of Frenchmen, and died at thirty-seven!
* Ah! that fatal thirty-seven, which reminds me of Byron, greater even as a man than a writer. Was it experience that guided the pencil of Raphael when he painted the palaces of Rome? He died, too, at thirty-seven. Richelieu was secretary of state at thirty-one. Well, then, there are Bolingbroke and Pitt, both ministers before other men leave off cricket. Grotius was in great practice at seventeen, and attorney-general at twenty-four. And Acquaviva-Acqua. viva was general of the Jesuits, ruled every cabinet in Europe, and colonized America, before he was thirty-seven. What a career! exclaimed the stranger, rising from his chair, and walking up and down the room; the secret sway of Europe! That was indeed a position ! But it is needless to multiply instances. The history of heroes is the history of youth.'
Youth is then a great qualification for a political leader. True, 'Vivian Grey' is no longer at that divine period; but if not youthful himself he has youthful followers-he leads the New Generation! Besides, Genius is always young. Let the
old fogies' sneer at me, and call me an adventurer if they will; I am of an unmixed race, I am a genius, I am the leader of youthful ardent spirits who believe me to be a profound and imaginative (oh! above all imaginative !) statesman; I will show the humdrums that it is not Reason but Imagination which rules the world!
We have been speaking hitherto in general terms because it is rather embarrassing to descend to particulars in a case where the particulars do not in any way seem to bear out the general result. Notoriety has been gained—a position has been gained. The general causes of this are not recondite ; but if you look closely to examine the basis of this success you are astonished at its apparent discrepancy. If there is one quality which everyone would at once award D’Israeli, it is, perhaps, wit; yet we defy the most ardent admirer to bring good specimens. In his writings and in his speeches there is great vivacity, occasional felicity of expression, and some happy illustrations; but wit there is scarcely any.
In the house it is notorious that his 'hits' produce an effect which no one who reads the speech can form an idea of; and this because there is more manner than wit. The wittiest thing, to our apprehension, he ever uttered, was his speaking of the American language. His famous joke about Peel having caught the whigs bathing, and stolen their clothes, is really a very feeble effort; though it amused the house more perhaps than a better joke would have amused it. From his forgotten pamphlet, “The Crisis Examined,' we extract an illustration which created great mirth at the time, and is really humorous :
· The truth is, that this famous reform ministry, this great united cabinet had degenerated into a grotesque and Hudibrastic faction, the very lees of ministerial existence, the offal of official life. They were a ragged regiment compared with which Falstaff's crew was a band of regulars. The king would not march with them through Coventrythat was flat. The reform ministry, indeed! Why scarcely an original member of that celebrated cabinet remained. I dare say now some of you have heard of Mr. Ducrow, that celebrated gentleman who rides upon six horses. What a prodigious achievement! It seems impossible, but you have confidence in Ducrow! You iy to witness it. Unfortunately one of the horses is ill, and a donkey is substituted in its place. But Ducrow is still admirable; there he is, bounding along in a spangled jacket and cork slippers. The whole town is mad to see Ducrow riding at the same time on six horses. But now two more of the steeds are seized with the staggers, and lo! three jackasses in their stead! Still Ducrow persists, and still announces to the public that he will ride round his circus every night on six horses. At last all the horses are knocked up, and now there are half a dozen donkeys, while Mr. Merryman, who like the Chancellor (Brougham), was once the very life of the ring, now lies in despairing length in the middle of the stage with his jokes exhausted and his bottle empty.'
As to his literary pretensions we have before intimated that we think them frivolous. He has a certain artistic tendency,
which makes him give to everything he handles whether literary or political, a symmetry and artistic effect; but he has none of the deeper qualities of an artist. We express his deficiency in one phrase when we say that his eloquence is grandiloquence. He does not work from inwards, but contents himself with externals; and as splendid words are the externals of eloquence, they suffice him. This gives a disagreeable hollowness to all his serious and more particularly to his impassioned passages; and it not unfrequently leads him into bathos. Of this bathos the reader may see samples in the passages previously quoted from his two prefaces. We have just opened Coningsby,' and this strikes our eye:
‘At school, friendship is a passion. It entrances the being; it tears the soul. All loves of after-life can never bring its rapture, or its wretchedness; no bliss so absorbing, no pangs of jealousy or despair so crushing and so keen! What tenderness and what devotion; what illimitable confidence; infinite revelations of inmost thoughts; what ecstatic present and romantic future; what bitter estrangements and what melting reconciliations; what scenes of wild recrimination, agitating explanations, passionate corrrespondence; what insane sensitiveness and what
frantic sensibility; what earthquakes of the heart and whirlwinds of the soul are confined in that simple phrase—a schoolboy's friendship!
Does the Minerva Press groan under the weight of trash more intolerable than these earthquakes of the heart and whirlwinds of the soul? Is this the sort of language which we are to hear from a minister, the serious reflections which are to adorn a work? The man who could write such sentences, not staggering under two bottles of champagne, must be pronounced either dead to all sense of the true meaning of words, or reckless and shameless in his use of them; either he has no just sense of expression, or he thinks that any fine words will serve his turn if they gull the indolent reader. Nor is this by any means an exceptional passage. His writings abound with similar instances of tawdry falsehood. They are thrown in
probably out of that love of ornament, which is characteristic of his race: they are the mosaic chains and rings with which the young gentlemen of the Hebrew persuasionadorn their persons, to give a faux air de gentilhomme to that which no adornment can disguise. We may seem to insist upon a trifle in thus insisting on such false eloquence; but trifles like these reveal a trivial mind, and when characteristic of a serious defect should not escape criticism.' It shows that his eloquence like his imagination, like his poetry, like his philosophy, like his statesmanship, is the Prospectus, not the Work!
ART. VI. (1.) The Philosophy of Religion. By J. D. MORELL, A.M.
8vo, pp. 427. Longmans, 1849. (2.) The Soul, her Sorrows and Aspirations. By Francis NEWMAN,
formerly Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford. Fcap., pp. 202.
Chapman: London, 1849. (3.) The Nemesis of Faith. By, G. A. FROUDE, M.A., Fellow of
Exeter College, Oxford. Fcap., pp. 227. Chapman: London, 1849.
We learn from Mr. Morell that Professor Tholuck has distinctly and advisedly declared,' that the sort of discussion attempted in this volume is absolutely necessary, ere a new vigour can be diffused into the religious literature of our country'* Among all our author's critics, it seems, no one has known how to regard the whole subject of Religion and Philosophy from a truly elevated point of view. To make plain to us the new course of thinking on this subject which is necessary-absolutely necessary, if we would not remain in our present feeble state, compared with our German neighbours, is the object of the present publication. We have heard and read much to this effect from various quarters, and we are not a little gratified to find at length that the things deemed so necessary in our case, if our reproach in this particular is to be wiped away, are fully and clearly before us, in a substantial and elaboratelyprepared treatise. It is fair to presume that the improvements to be expected in our English modes of thought are well stated in this volume, and that the merely English theologian may now form his own judgment on this somewhat vexed question. We feel much indebted to Mr. Morell for bringing matters to this issue. We promise him, also, that the question as to whence he has derived his speculations, shall not at all affect our judgment in relation to them. How much he may have learnt from Kant, how much from Hegel or Schelling, or how much more from Schleiermacher—not to mention our own Coleridge—than from any one or all of these, are questions with which we shall not meddle. Here is a book in the English language, addressed to English thinkers, and our business shall be to test it by such homely English intelligence as our readers generally may be fully competent to appreciate.
Our judgment will not be favourable. But we know not of anything that should have given us a shade of prejudice against
* In our extracts from Mr. Morell, the italics are his own.