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it. They must be dazzled and amused, or they will not consent to be instructed.
But, besides the qualities we have alluded to as characterizing these volumes, in common with some other works of the same class, there is to be found in them what is much more rarely met with-a masterly power of generalization, combined with patient analysis and picturesque detail, an impartiality which is never attained by the sacrifice of sympathy, a keen exposure of many popular sophisms, a solemn conviction of the responsibilities of human action, and an ever-present sense of that overruling Providence which shapes our ends, rough-hew them
how we will.' Yet, although even crimes have been over-ruled' for good, the author does not therefore designate them as
useful or ' necessary. Nor does he, on the other hand, allow his indignant reprobation of violence and bloodshed to distort his perception of the great results which were obtained, not in consequence, but in despite, of them. He sees that there are seasons when it becomes a nation rather to appreciate its victory than to count its slain. Undoubtedly,' he says
Undoubtedly a nation should weep for its dead, and should not make light of a single life unjustly and hatefully sacrificed; but it ought not to grudge the blood which has been spilt for the growth of eternal truths. . . . Let us, then, forgive one another, whether we be the children of the combatants or of the victims. Let us be reconciled over their tombs, in order that we may resume their interrupted task. . : . Let us snatch crime from the people's cause as a weapon which pierced its hand and transformed liberty into despotism. Let us not seek to justify the scaffold by the love of country, or proscription by the love of liberty. Let us not make the spirit of the age callous by the sophism of revolutionary energy. :::
• . The history of the revolution is both glorious and mournful, like the morrow of a victory and the eve of another battle. But, if that history be full of grief, it is, above all, full of faith. It is like the antique drama, in which, while the speaker carries on the recital, the chorus of people chants the triumph, bewails the victims, and lifts up to Heaven its hymn of consolation and of hope.'
In no part of his work, perhaps, is M. de Lamartine's desire to hold an even balance more evident than in his delineation of the character of Robespierre, at the very sound of whose name many writers are wont to affect (for with many it is but a trick of the craft) that sort of shuddering alarm which Monti, in his Mascheroniad, attributes to the angelic host :
• Un Robespiero!
Al nome crudel su l'auree teste
But even a Robespierre is put to much better use when made the object of close investigation, than when turned into a goblin or a bugbear. That strange compound of integrity and cunning, of pertinacity and cowardice, of sensitiveness and cruelty, may well deserve some thoughtful study. We are far from concurring in the whole of M. de Lamartine's estimate of this
man, but can only glance at the reasons of our dissent after making a very brief and fragmentary extract:
... Righteous aspirations, vain Utopias, atrocious instruments, were the elements that made up the social polity of the Convention, which was placed between two civilizations, to exterminate the one and usher in the other. Robespierre, more than any of his colleagues, personified these tendencies. His plans, religious in purpose, chimerical in detail, became sanguinary when they came into collision with practical impossibility. . . . . He held to his chimeras as to truths. Had he been more enlightened, he would have been more tolerant. His anger arose from his delusions. He wished to be a social regenerator; society resisted: he took the sword, as though it were permitted to a mortal to make himself God's executioner. Half through fanaticism and half through terror, he communicated this spirit to the Jacobins, to the people, and to the Convention.'-(Book xxxi. § 21.)
• Robespierre's death was the date, but not the cause of the cessation of the Terror. The executions would have ceased had he triumphed, as they ceased when he fell. It thus pleased Divine Justice to reject his repentance, and to foil his good intentions. It made of his tomb a closed gulf. It made of his name an enigma, of which history shudders to utter the solution, alike fearing to commit an injustice if it pronounce Crime, and to excite horror should it say Virtue. To be just and to be instructive, it must boldly associate these two words to which union is repugnant, and must form them into a compound epithet. Or rather, it must refrain altogether from designating what it must despair of defining. This man is and will remain indefinable.
. There is a design in his life, and that design is great: the reign of reason by democracy—truth and justice carried into legislation; . . . there is a means, and that means is by turns legitimate and execrable -it is popularity. He caresses the people through its ignoble qualities. He exaggerates suspicion. He stirs up envy. He fans anger. He envenoms revenge. He opens the veins of the body politic to eradicate disease, but he lets out life, pure or impure, with indifference, never throwing himself between the victims and their butchers. He accepts the evil he does not seek. He sacrifices to what he deems the requirements of his position, the heads of the king, the queen, and their innocent sister. He yields, to pretended necessity, the head of Vergniaud, to fear and lust of power, the head of Danton. He allows his name to serve during eighteen months as a pennon to the scaffold, as a justification of murder. He hopes, by the purity of future institutions to redeem present crime, which is never redeemed; and while France palpitates under the hand of the executioner, he intoxicates himself with visions of public felicity in the distance.'.
In this view of Robespierre's character, there is, we think, very great truth, but it is only part of the truth. The man, doubtless, was in many respects abstinent, self-denying, sincere, incorruptible, and inflexible, but he was thoroughly irreligious-not in conduct only, but in sentiment-and intensely vain. To him there was nothing in the universe higher or holier than himself and his ' good intentions. The ' Supreme Being' was something about which he could make fine speeches, to the discomfiture of his opponents, and to his own glorification. Perhaps no man ever more strikingly exemplified the trite remark, that unchecked failings become incorrigible vices. Faults that in some men remain comparatively venial, in him turned to atrocious crimes. To wound his vanity was to make a malicious adversary; to awaken his fears was to create an inveterate foe, whom nothing short of death could placate. But if, in some respects, M. de Lamartine has depicted his character too favourably, he has but erred, we think, as an upright judge might err, who, conscious of a personal and innate repugnance to the accused, should constrain himself to do him something more than justice, fearing least his prepossessions might make him do less.
Of the substantial accuracy and truthfulness of M. de Lamartine's history, we have no doubt. Nevertheless, we cannot but regret the absence of references and authorities, especially in regard to matters which have been the subject of controversy. We hope that, in future editions, this want will be supplied.
In the strictly narrative portion of the work, there is very much which is both new and profoundly interesting. Our restricted limits, however, interdict even a single extract. An observation or two on the English translation, or what professes to be such, which has recently appeared, must close our brief notice.
This translation, the title of which stands second in the list prefixed to this article, has had, we understand, an extensive sale, probably on the faith of the title-page, and the credit of the series of which it forms a part. Since the 'Memoirs of Goethe,'—which a London bookseller, many years ago, palmed on the public as the celebrated Autobiography, while it was in fact a worse translation of a bad French abridgment, and executed apparently by a writer ignorant alike of German, French, and English,--no literary fabrication so disreputable as that before us has come under our notice. It resembles Lamartine's work much as the Memoirs of Goethe' resembled the ‘Aus meinem Leben; Dichtung und Wahrheit.' The groundwork of it, indeed, is the 'Histoire des Girondins — but blundered, garbled, and mutilated, so as to be scarcely recognisable.
It is never an agreeable duty thus to characterize any book. In the present instance it is the less so, inasmuch as this translation appears in Mr. Bohn's 'Standard Library,' a collection which has heretofore contained many excellent books, some of which have been noticed with commendation in this Review.
After the opinion we have expressed of M. de Lamartine's History, it is almost superfluous to add that it eminently deserved a painstaking and faithful translation. No part of it can be suppressed without great injury to the whole. But the present translator has not only suppressed large portions, and grossly misrendered others, but has mangled much of what he has left by an extraordinary practice of joining part of one sentence with part of another, so as to produce a sort of grotesque patch-work.
The result of a careful estimate is, that on the whole, considerably more than one-sixth of the Histoire des Girondins is eliminated, in the so-called - translation,' although we find, prefixed to its last volume, a Prospectus of Bohn's Standard Library, the first paragraph of which begins as follows:
* This series has been undertaken with the view of presenting 'to the educated public, works of a deservedly established . character, accurately printed in an elegant form, without abridgment.
Speaking of the position of Louis XVI. in 1791, M. de Lamartine has said, 'He was no longer a power, for power 'must have volition; he was not a functionary, for the functionary acts and is responsible for his action; the king was not
responsible.'-(Book vii. § 4.) This is rendered :—He was ' no longer will, for to will is to do. He was not a functionary, ' for the functionary acts and replies. The king did not reply.' —(Trans. vol. i. p. 260.) Four commissaries of the Convention, mentioned in Book xliii.,— Romme, Prieur de la Côte d'Or, Ruhl, et Prieur de la Marne,' are converted into two monks, 'Romme, prior of the Côte d'Or, and Ruhl, prior of Marne.'(Trans. vol. iii. p. 45.) Vergniaud, in one of his speeches in the Convention, having exclaimed-In short, would you make
the French people a merely agricultural and mercantile people, and apply to them the pastoral institutions of Penn?'—is made by the translator to say— Lastly, would you make the French
people neither agricultural nor merchants, and apply to them
the pastoral institutions of William Penn?'-(Vol. ii. 497.) A passage from a speech of Barère's :-('I have seen')—a council-general of the Commune, in which figures a man, named Chaumette, of whose civism I know nothing, but who was not long since a monk; I have seen a Commune inter'preting and executing the laws according to its caprice, &c.;'is thus rendered:-( I have seen')—a general council of the Commune, in which there is Chaumette, whose civism I know, but who denies having been a monk; I have seen a Commune interpreting and executing the laws according to his caprice,' &c.—(Vol. ii. 506.) The conclusion of a speech of Danton's in a subsequent debate :-There are men,' he added, in a cruelly bitter tone, and looking at Vergniaud and Gaudet,
—There are men who cannot divest themselves of a resentment. For my own part, Nature made me impetuous, but exempted me from 'malice;''-is thus given :-“It is from men,' added he, with an
accent of fierce bitterness, regarding Vergniaud and Gaudet, 'it is from men who cannot divest themselves of resentment ! For myself, though naturally impetuous, I am free from hatred.'' (Vol. ii. 519.) — Fearing that a division would give victory to the Girondists, the Mountain and the patriots of the tribunes burst forth into imprecations against Vergniaud. Adjourn ! cry the
' 'moderates,' is translated Trembling lest they should bestow
victory upon the Girondists, La Montagne and the patriots of the tribunes broke out into imprecations against Vergniaud.' · Raise the Assembly,' cried out the modérés.' (Vol. ii. 516.) The reader will probably think that any further justification of our strictures on the translation would be superfluous; but it would be easy to add scores of passages similar to those we have cited.
We cannot quit the subject without a word or two on the lessons in practical politics with which, we think, the revolutionary history of France is teeming.
Undoubtedly, on looking back over sixty years of almost incessant convulsion, the first impression is a gloomy and despondent one. Bút much of the gloom will be dispelled if the retrospect be carried still farther back. The history of France under Louis XIV. and his immediate successor is a history of kings and courtiers. The People we see but dimly, as a toiling and suffering multitude,-now performing their corvées in gangs, like convicts;-anon, dying of famine by thousands, or dragooned into exile for reading their Bibles, and daring to worship their God according to its dictates. Let any man, too prone to the exclusive denunciation of mob violence'