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The Emperor Nicholas, therefore, judged too hastily when he condemned all free countries and constitutional monarchies as necessarily the seats of corruption. It is no wonder he thought so from the experience he had of them, and that which the greater part of such governments, in his time, had afforded. If we had judged of constitutional monarchy and the cause of freedom from the history of England from 1688 to 1763, we should have said the same. But the subsequent history of the British empire has revealed the real cause of these general and widespread abuses. It has shown that they arose not necessarily from the triumph of freedom, but accidentally from government, in consequence of that triumph, having for a long period been established on a wrong basis. The contending powers, whose opposition produces equilibrium, had been brought to draw in the same direction, and thence the spring-tide of corruption. A constitutional monarchy is not necessarily based on patronage ; it is so only when the popular party are in power. That party, having, as a whole, little or no interest in the property of the state, can be retained in obedience, and hindered from urging on the revolutionary movement, only by being well supplied with offices. It is like a beast of prey, which must be constantly gorged to be kept quiet. But the holders of property need no such degrading motive to keep them steady to the cause of order. They are retained there by their own private interest; by their deep stake in the maintenance of tranquillity ; by their desire to transmit their estates unimpaired to their descendants. They are as certain, in the general case, of supporting the cause of order, and its guardians at the helm of a state, as the passengers in a ship are of standing by the pilot and crew who are to save them from the waves. The true, the legitimate, the honourable support of a Conservative government, is to be found in that numerous class of men who have no favours to ask, who would disdain to accept any gratification, who adhere to the cause of order because it is that of peace, of religion, of themselves, and of their children. It is a sense of the strength of these bonds, a knowledge of the independent and disinterested support which they are certain of receiving, which enables a Conservative Administration so often to neglect its supporters in the distribution of the public patronage, and seek for merit and worth in the ranks of its opponents. A democratic government can never do this, because the passions and interests of the great bulk of its supporters are adverse to the preservation of property ; and therefore they can be kept to their colours, and hindered from clamouring for those measures which its leaders feel to be destructive, only by the exclusive enjoyment and entire monopoly of all the patronage of the state.
Without undervaluing, then, the effects of the Revolution of 1688; without discrediting the motives of many of the patriots who combined to shake off the oppressive tyranny and Romish bigotry of James II., it may safely by affirmed, that it was George III., Lord Bute, and Mr Pitt, who put the British constitution upon its right, and the only durable and beneficial basis, and worked out the Revolution itself to its appropriate and beneficent effects. This is the great and important moral of English history during the eighteenth century ; this is the conclusion forced on the mind by the perusal of Walpole's Memoirs, and his vehement abuse of Lord Bute and George III. for their dismissal of the Whigs from power.
Doubtless, they acted from selfish motives in doing so. The king wanted to regain his prerogative, the minister to secure his power; but still it was, on the part of both, a step in the right direction. But for the resolute stand which they made against the Whig oligarchy --but for their wisdom in throwing themselves on the property of the nation to withstand its debasement, a domineering party would have become omnipotent, the people would have been irrecoverably plunged in the slough of corruption, and the liberties of England lost for ever, according to all former experience, in the firmly established despotism consequent on a successful revolution. George III. said, on the first decisive parliamentary division which gave a majority to the Tories in 1761—“At length, then, we have a king on the throne in England.” Posterity will add-At length the foundations of a free constitution were laid on a durable and practicable basis.
MADAME DE STAEL
(BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, JUNE 1837]
Amidst the deluge of new and ephemeral publications under which the press both in France and England is groaning, and the woful depravity of public taste, in all branches of literature, which in the former country has followed the Revolution of the Three Glorious Days, it is not the least important part of the duty of all those who have any share, however inconsiderable, in the direction of the objects to which public thought is to be applied, to recur from time to time to the great and standard works of a former age; and from amidst the dazzling light of passing meteors in the lower regions of the atmosphere, to endeavour to direct the public gaze to those fixed luminaries whose radiance in the higher heavens shines, and ever will shine, in imperishable lustre. From our sense of the importance and utility of this attempt, we are not to be deterred by the common remark, that these authors are in everybody's hands; that their works are read at school, and their names have become as household sounds. We know that many things are read at school which are forgotten at college; and many things learned at college which are unhappily and permanently discarded in later years; and that there are many authors whose names are as household sounds, whose works for that very reason are as a strange and unknown tongue. Every one has heard of Racine and Molière, of Bossuet and Fénélon, of Voltaire and Rousseau, of Chateaubriand and Madame de Stael, of Pascal and Rabelais. We would beg to ask even our best informed and most learned readers, with how many of their works they are really familiar ; how many of their felicitous expressions have sunk into their recollections ; how many of their ideas are engraven on their memory? Others may possess more retentive memories, or more extensive reading than we do ; but we confess, when we apply such a question, even to the constant study of thirty years, we feel not a little mortified at the time which has been misapplied, and the brilliant ideas once obtained from others which have now faded from the recollection, and should rejoice much to obtain from others that retrospect of past greatness which we propose ourselves to lay before our readers.
Every one now is so constantly in the habit of reading the new publications, of devouring the fresh productions of the press, that we forget the extraordinary superiority of standard works ; and are obliged to go back to the studies of our youth for that superlative enjoyment which arises from the perusal of authors, where every sentence is thought and often every word conception; where new trains of contemplation or emotion are awakened in every page, and the volume is closed almost every minute to meditate on the novelty or justice of the reflections which arise from its study. And it is not on the first perusal of these authors that this exquisite pleasure is obtained. In the heyday of youth and strength, when imagination is ardent, and the world unknown, it is the romance of the story, or the general strain of the argument which carries the reader on, and many of the finest and most spiritual reflections are overlooked or unappreciated. But in later years, when life has been experienced, and joy and sorrow felt, when the memory is stored with recollections, and the imagination with images, it is reflection and observation which constitute the chief attraction in composition.
The two great eras of French prose literature are those of Louis XIV. and the Revolution. If the former can boast of Bossuet, the latter can appeal to Chateaubriand ; if the former still shines in the purest lustre in Fénélon, the latter may boast the more fervent pages and varied genius of De Stael ; if the former is supreme in the tragic and comic muse, and can array Racine, Corneille, and Molière, against the transient Lilliputians of the romantic school, the latter can show in the poetry and even the prose of Lamartine a condensation of feeling, a depth of pathos and energy of thought, which can never be reached but in an age which has undergone the animating episodes, the heart-stirring feelings, consequent on social convulsion. In the branches of literature which depend on the relations of men to each other-history, politics, historical philosophy and historical romance, the superiority of the modern school is so prodigious, that it is impossible to find a parallel to it in former days; and even the dignified language and eagle glance of the Bishop of Meaux sink into insignificance, compared to the vast ability which, in inferior minds, experience and actual suffering have brought to bear on the investigation of public affairs
. Modern writers were for long at a loss to understand the cause which had given such superior pathos, energy, and practical wisdom to the historians of antiquity ; but the French Revolution at once explained the mystery. When modern times were brought into collision with the passions and the suffering consequent on democratic ascendency and social convulsion, they were not long of feeling the truths which experience had taught to ancient times, and acquiring the power of vivid description and condensed yet fervent narrative by which the great historians of antiquity are characterised.
At the head of the modern prose writers of France, we place Madame de Stael, Chateaubriand, and Guizot. The general style of the two first and the most imaginative of these writers--- De Stael and Chateaubriand—is essentially different from that of Bossuet, Fénélon, and Massillon. We have no longer either the thoughts, the language, or the images of these great and dignified writers. With the pompous grandeur of the Grande Monarque ; with the awful splendour of the palace, and the irresistible power of the throne; with the superb magnificence of Versailles, its marbles, halls, and forests of statues, lave passed away the train of thought by which the vices and corruption then chiefly prevalent in society were combated by these worthy soldiers of the militia of Christ. Strange to say, the ideas of that despotic age are more condemnatory of princes, more eulogistic of the people, more confirmatory of the principles which, if pushed to their legitimate consequences,
lead to democracy, than those of the age when the sovereignty of the people was actually established. In their eloquent