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Britain are held in complete thraldom and subjection by a few English Radicals, with that most gross and contemptible person, Mr Joseph Hume, at their head, and between fifty and sixty members of the House of Commons sent there through the influence of the Roman Catholic priests of Ireland. These are not Irish gentlemen, the best of whom make rather imprudent legislators, but the coarsest, least respectable herd, that ever left the Irish shore, whether on four legs or on two. The chaff of wild corn, the froth of puddle, the dross of base metal, are similies too good for them, yet the influence of such as these affects, nay rules, the destinies of the British empire! Is it not such oppression as this that maketh the wise man mad? It is not too late to rid ourselves of the destroying evil of such a Government, and the pestilent swarm of their supporters; but it must be done by an exercise of loftier energies, and more powerful feelings, than have as yet displayed themselves upon the public scene, though we know they are not extinct, and the spark is but wanting to light them up to glories, and in the end to triumphant action. If there ever were a time when men were called upon to stand forth bravely and boldly in defence of the faith and principles of their fathers, this is that time. The period for a parley has gone by; it is in vain to stand chaffering upon trifles; the ALTAR and the THRONE the sacredness of religion -the respectability of virtue-the order and gradation in society-the security of property, are all in imminent jeopardy, through the tampering of multitudinous quacks, and the weakness of sentiment among those who ought to arise and crush them. There are who pretend to see the danger, but love their ease and their wealth too well to peril either in the great good cause. They may, too late, find that that ease will be disturbed, and that wealth be taken away wholly, which, if now sacrificed in part, would overcome the enemy. It is no ordinary political contest that is before us; it is a struggle between the Monarchy, the Church, and the Aristocracy of England, and a disgraceful Revolution, in
which men, equally coarse and paltry, will be in the uppermost places.
But to return to the Government professions of their own excellent and improving character-they are merely laughed at in London, even by those who, in their communications to the public, affect to treat them with most gravity. It is not true, that any declaration, favourable to the Reform Bill of the Grey Ministry, has been obtained from those noblemen who declared themselves in favour of some measure of Reform, in the discussion of last session. The declaration of Lord Grey at the Mansion House is sufficiently vague to mean anything or nothing, and even if it were not so, we have seen and heard enough of Lord Grey lately to be perfectly well satisfied that no dependence whatever is to be placed upon his statements in political matters. Whether his memory fail him-as when he could not call to mind his menace addressed to the Bishops; or he has not attended to the matter-as in the case of his assertion of a surplus revenue; or his expressions convey a meaning different from that which he intended-as in his statement regarding Irish Tithes-certain it is, that all Lord Grey now says must be received with more than a few grains of allowance.
No very sudden change of the Ministry is to be looked for, nor would any mere change of Ministers suffice for what is at present wanting. The heart and the mind of the nation require to be roused up to a sense of the wickedness, the worthlessness, and the littleness of the buzzing busy bodies who are flyblowing the body of the State, and causing it to stink in the nostrils of men of sense and feeling. They must be shaken off by a strong and manly enthusiasm, or we shall do no good. Between the huckstering economy of our domestic system, and the prodigal concession to foreign countries, we are become no more than feeble disputants, when we should be bold and energetic actors. Would that the soul of an Edmund Burke would break forth amongst us!
London, Feb. 20, 1832.
Printed by Ballantyne and Company, Paul's Work, Edinburghą
Ir is recorded by Josephus, that the night before the Roman armies entered Jerusalem, there were heard flying overhead, and calling to each other through the upper spaces of the Temple, angels and spiritual watchers; and the words which could be distinguished, were μstaßaívæμsv ivrede -Let us depart hence! It seems the Religio loci adhered too closely to its shrine to be torn away without some human throes, some protestation that it suffered violence, and something like the language of farewell:-Even in Christian realities, as in the fables of old romance,
“The parting genius was with sighing
The Ρωμαϊκων ταίματων αλαλαίμος, the dire alalagmos, or war-cry of the Roman legions,-that herald of tears and blood, and forerunner of the last profanations, and in this case the accomplisher of the prophetic "abomination of desolation," even that was necessary to quicken the angelic motions; and this savage hurraing had already begun to load the air with its denunciations of carnage, whilst the heavenly cohorts were yet marshalling their shadowy ranks for flight.
To Mr Douglas, as to many others, there are signs and portents abroad, which seem to indicate the same sullen and reluctant departure of its ancient tutelary virtues from this long favoured land. The foundations, in their eyes, are manifestly giving way, of that massy system on which so much of our happiness has repo
sed for ages. Morals, public and domestic, political integrity in the senate, and "pure religion breathing household laws," have seemed for some time preparing for flight. The old faith, and the old obligations of conscience, have seemed to sit loosely upon all men. Ancient landmarks have disappeared-new names are heard, and new hopes are daily avowed, such as once would have been held pollution to any cause. And it is not any longer the sullen cynicism of a recluse, but the general instincts of the world, which begin to apprehend, in the changes at this time travelling forward on every side, some deeper and more awful disorganization of our ancient social system, than was designed by its first movers, or suspected, until lately, by the most jealous and apprehensive observer.
These anticipations are not limited by Mr Douglas to Great Britain; they are coextensive with Europe, and exclude nothing that we know of, unless, perhaps, the New World. That region is not at least superannuated, and may be supposed still moving onward upon the original impulse which projected its orbit, and determined the elements of its paths. But on this side the Atlantic, all is given over in his calculations to interminable revolution. If we understand him rightly, which in a very desultory, though eloquent writer, is not always easy to do, Europe is now hurried forward by internal causes, leagued with irresistible pressure from without, into a
* By James Douglas, Esq. of Cavers. 8vo. Black, Edinburgh, 1831. 20
VOL. XXXI. NO. CXCIII.
maelstrom of chaotic change: the hideous roar is already heard, the fatal suction is already felt; and escape is even already impossible. For England, indeed, there is still a reserve of hope. Chiefly from her greater moral resources, she has still a choice before her of two paths; or if she cannot wholly avert the blow which, as a member of European Christendom, must reach her in many of its consequences, at any rate she has it in her power to modify its action, and to reduce within the bounds of a providential chastisement, what to some will be absolute destruction.
Such we collect to be Mr Douglas's view. And thus far we go along with him, that most assuredly we believe ourselves to stand at the portals of mighty and far-stretching convulsions. The first French Revolution was but the beginning of woes. It was an earthquake; and Europe has too easily flattered herself that its effects had spent themselves in the overthrow of Napoleon. But one earthquake is often no more than the herald of another. And signs innumerable convince us that Europe, in every kingdom and province of her populous regions, is ripe for a long series of changes, to which no prince, or league of princes-no nation, or confederacy of nationscan now fix a limit. Influence from without, coming in the shape of war, has visited every part of her territory, and manured whatever seeds of change might pre-exist, into a ranker and a hastier growth. Will any man maintain that Spain, Italy, Greece, in the South-or, for the middle of Europe, France, Germany, the Low Countries-could now resume that station of quiet and inert repose which possessed them before the era of 1788? Every nook of these lands has been inundated for forty years with revolutionary incitements. Not a peasant's cottage, not an individual shed, but has been separately appealed to-tempted-provoked to change for its own sake, and change as the means of every other improvement; to change as the end, and change as the indispensable instrument. Agitation has run its course, and completed its work: the apostles of insurrection and revolution have fulfilled their mission, and closed their labours: all now stands eady for the reaper's sickle.
Yes! Sorrow is at hand for Europe, and calamity to which the ruthless wars of Napoleon have been but as a prelude. So much we believe, thus far we assent unwillingly to Mr Douglas. But what shape will this calamity put on? To what issue will it tend? What will be its probable period, or course of revolution? How far will it involve ourselves?
These are questions depending chiefly on the particular theory adopted as to the nature and causes of the present condition of Europe. The author before us insinuates a sort of hypothesis on this subject, somewhat too fine-spun for practical use, or for "An unseen his own conclusions. power," says he, " is smiting the idol of human dominion at its base. The feet on which it rests are broken; the iron and clay are literally separating. The composite governments, which resulted from the union of barbarian conquerors and Roman subjects, have lost the cement that bound them, and are crumbling into dust." That is to say, whatsoever ruin or decay now threatens the states of Europe, is to be considered a mere process of decomposition, by which the ancient substratum of Vandalism is parting asunder from its uncongenial ally of Roman civilisation, and the heterogeneous elements betraying themselves in the ruins of that compound edifice which they had coalesced to form.
But this hypothesis will hardly sustain itself against the examination of history. Structures that endure the wear and tear of fourteen hundred years, cannot be taxed with any radical vice either of materials or of workmanship. Spite of names and words, the materials must virtually have been homogeneous, and fitted by nature for union; or, which is the sole alternative, the overpowering excellence of the material on one side must have neutralized the mortal tendencies on the other. One or other conclusion is inevitable on Mr Douglas's premises. On this fugitive earth of ours, it is past all doubt, that a duration of one thousand years and upwards bears a testimony, such as cannot be gainsaid, to the essential and radical excellence of any institution.
On a point of this nature, it is history only which is entitled to speak authentically. Let us therefore ra
pidly review the spirit of European annals, and the main stream of European revolutions, from the period at which Rome came into a position of substantial influence upon the movements of the northern nations, or upon the character of their institutions; and still more attentively from the period at which these northern nations reacted upon the Roman south.
Whilst the Western Empire flourished, and original Rome maintained her mighty supremacy, it was a matter of necessity that her arts, her policy, and her institutions, should make joint progress with her arms. We know by the testimony of contemporary historians, that in different degrees, varying with the state of her military influence, this was in fact the case. Elegance in the habits of life, and the arts which ministered to it, prevailed to a great extent in Gaul, in Britain, and in Spain. Elsewhere, as in Germany, where Rome maintained only an uneasy frontier, her influences of this nature were less; they were less at any one time; and they fluctuated. The reason was apparent. Gaul, Britain, and Spain, from the peculiar figure and situation of their territory, admitted of a perfect military possession; but in Germany a belt of variable breadth was all that Rome could be said to possess; beyond this was a savage country, overshadowed by forests, and bristling with indignation-vindictive remembrances-and all the repulsive passions, wheresoever it was not desolate of men. Anti-Roman passions effectually precluded an efficient Roman influence. And even for that age, there was no universal mirror held up to Roman manners, Roman usages, or Roman maxims of jurisprudence. Amongst the aboriginal Gauls, Britons, and Spaniards, such a diffusion of education might be found, and such a civilisation, during the Roman domination in their several territories, as would naturally correspond to the influence of the victors, and the ambition or interest of the conquered.
These relations, however, between Rome and her European provinces, in process of time perished. Rome was gradually bridled in her career of conquest and offensive warfare;
next was thrown upon the defensive; and finally, even for defensive warfare, was obliged to concentrate her entire efforts upon her domestic territory. Her legions were gradually withdrawn to her own gates; and the alumni of Roman civilisation in all European provinces, whether many or few, were now at length thrown upon their own unassisted energies.
What followed is too memorable, and too monotonous in its dark tissue of calamity, to leave much room for question or for distinction. The same chapter, with very slight varieties, occurs about the same era in the annals of almost every European province. Mutatis mutandis, the same tale of a helpless and ineffective resistance to successive hosts of barbarous invaders, saddens the page of history for the whole of Western Europe. The Gaul crouched before the Frank, the Briton before the Saxon and the Angle, the aboriginal Spaniard before the Visigoth and the Vandal. Each, in his turn, was abandoned by his Roman master; each was resigned to his native powers of self-defence; and each sank miserably in the contest which followed. Roman culture had availed for little else than to prepare them for a foreign conquest, by weaning them from those martial habits which had once proved so potent a bulwark against the sword of Rome herself under her first Cæsars, and her then all-conquering legions. All fell; and fell perhaps chiefly by the emascu lation consequent upon their Roman connexion. Finally, even the Roman himself, after many a separate prostration under many a different conqueror, was finally, and for ever, absorbed into the dominion of the Goth and the Lombard.
During the progress of these great revolutions, which upon the whole were the greatest that our western world has undergone, it is probable that a more awful amount of human misery was suffered, a more baleful eclipse and a shadow of deeper providential wrath was passed through, than in any other equal section of time. The great convulsions which attended the dying pangs of the Western Empire, if we include the sepa rate fates of the mother state, and her several provinces, lasted through
nearly two centuries; for it was not until the sixth century that the absolute extinction of the Roman name in the west was accomplished. And as though war pursued in the spirit of extermination were not sufficient, it has been noticed that famine and pestilence prevailed during the same period with a fury not paralleled by any other examples before or since. Indeed, so marvellous is the spectacle of desolation which the Europe of those days presents, so uninterrupted is the tragedy, and precisely in those regions which have since become the most flourishing on this planet, that the eyes of many writers, from the Christian fathers downwards to the most eminent of modern historians, have been arrested by the mere fascination of the miserable spectacle, and, without concert, have separately come to the very same conclusion-that, in this period, the condition of our forefathers had reached the very lowest point of depression. "If," says a celebrated reviewer of history, a man were called to fix upon the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most calamitous and afflicted, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed, from the death of Theodosius the Great, to the establishment of the Lombards in Italy," that is, from the year of our Lord 395 to 571. "The contemporary authors," he goes on, "who beheld the scene of desolation, labour and are at a loss to describe the horror of it."
Readily it may be imagined, that such a condition of suffering was no fit matrix for the reception or developement of arts and polished institutions. So far from it, we have the best reasons for knowing that every thing of that nature went to wreck very early in the struggle. Even in this island, it is certain that the Roman arts and the habits of polished life, luxury, and the many indirect results or props of luxury, had struck root pretty deeply by the third century. And as to Gaul, it is evident enough from the Commentaries of Cæsar, that already in his day civilisation was little in arrear of that which prevailed in Italy. Towns of regular architecture, and a pretty ela
borate organization for purposes of war and civil police, evidently were multiplied in no inconsiderable extent through the more refined regions of Gaul, and marked an advanced stage of civilisation. The leafy and silvan encampments of the Britons, in the very neighbourhood of the Thames, and what were probably the most civilized (because the most fertile) parts of the island, shew a state of things so little beyond mere savage life-that it is difficult to reconcile with this great and conspicuous inferiority to Gaul, the well known facts of a mercantile intercourse, recorded by Cæsar himself, between Britain and the continent, and still more of a supreme college of the Druids seated in this island. However, let the differences have been what they might in the early period of the first Cæsar, (differences which we notice only as matter of curiosity)—it is pretty certain that in the two succeeding centuries they were completely cancelled, both Gaul and Britain having by that time very probably advanced to the level of Italy. Equally certain it is, and evidenced in our own case by the Anglo-Saxon literature, by the writings of Bede, and other documents, that the hurricane of misery which swept over the land during the Saxon invasions, utterly abolished all traces of whatever had been won in these centuries of intercourse with Roman masters. There is no doubt that at the end of that conflict which issued in the establishment of the Saxon Polyarchy, Britain was to all intents and purposes a rasa tabula as regarded the effects or memorials of its Roman connexion. The sole monuments which then survived of the Roman power, were those imperishable military causeways which traversed the marshes and forests, and here and there a tesselated pavement of some Prætorian tent. Granite, marble, and cement, remained, as to this day in some proportions they still do remain. But for moral or political influence, influence of any kind which acts through the mind, the condition of Britain, within perhaps two generations after the earliest appearance of the Anglo-Saxons, was precisely what it would have been, had a Roman foot never trod upon our soil.