« ElőzőTovább »
make the requesting it to himself is later (in 181058
commanding that his name should be erased from the list of the Institute; but this did not prevent him, some years later (in 1810), from offering him a pension, leaving it to himself to fix the amount, if he would but make the request. His answer was characteristic: " that having done the imperial government no service, he had no claim to its favours.”—“ I would rather,” added he, grasping the hand of the friend who was the organ of the imperial offer, “ educate my son and portion my daughter with the fruits of my privations, than with those of my dishonour.”
From that epoch, Revellière continued to lead an undisturbed and peaceful life in retirement, until the second invasion of France, during which, being obliged to abandon his residence to the allied troops, he lost the letters of Buonaparte and other interesting papers. Not having filled any office during the Hundred Days, he was not excepted from the law of amnesty ; but nevertheless, whilst staying in Paris in the following year, he received a visit from a police-agent, who hinted to him that his appearance in the capital excited surprise. He drily replied, that he knew of no law which obliged him to quit Paris ; and he remained unmolested. This was his last struggle with power; and he closed his days tranquilly, but not before, as his biographer informs us, he had dictated to his son memoirs of his public and private life, of which he sent a duplicate copy to a friend in America, giving strict injunctions that neither should be published until a remote period. Of some of the peculiar opinions of Revellière-Lépeaux, we shall best give an idea in the words of the following passage from the article before us :
• At the period of the creation of the Institute Revellière-Lépeaux had been named a member of the class of moral and political science, by the first-third of that learned body. Some time before the 18th of Fructidor, he read to his colleagues a paper, entitled “ Reflexions sur le Culte, les Cérémonies Civiles, et les Fêtes Nationales.” In this he evinced a decided aversion for the doctrines of the old established hierarchy, which he considered as totally incompatible with the republican system. But in overturning the church, the demagogue government had set up nothing in its place. Persuaded that the absence of religious ideas must plunge the people again, by the oblivion of moral laws, into excesses of superstition, Revellière-Lépeaux thought that a simple worship, admitting no other dogmas than the existence of God and the immortality of the soul, must bring back to these fundamental principles of morality those who had been carried away by the excitement and license of the Revolution, without excluding others, who, attached to more complicated religious systems, could not disown in this the common source of their faith. He would have desired that the acts which gave birth to the ties of kindred should be celebrated with a solemnity rejected by the habits of the demagogues, and that, in the same spirit, public festivals should complete the consistency of the moral institutions of the nation. These ideas made some impression upon the public, but suited neither the royalists nor the anarchists. They produced an association known under the name of Théophilanthropie, and of which the brother of the celebrated mineralogist Haüy
appears to have been the real founder. This sect was embraced by men of different shades of opinion, such as Dupont de Nemours, Lecoulteux de Canteleu, Goupil de Préfeln, &c. Revellière-Lépeaux considered it a laudable enterprise, but contented himself with approving of it, feeling that any co-operation of government would be injurious to it.'p. 260.
In the lives of the two remaining conventionalists numbered in the obituary of 1824, Cambacérès and Lebrun, there was a curious coincidence. Their course was parallel; and it is a little singular, that they should have terminated their earthly career within a few months of each other. Both had been originally bred to the law; both, after escaping the perils of the Revolution by their address and good fortune, rose into consideration as the times became calmer; and on the last brief and delusive settlement of the republican government, they were chosen together by Buonaparte for his associates in the consular dignity. Napoleon declares, in the Mémorial de St. Hélène,) that “ he had chosen in Cambacérès and Lebrun two men of merit, two distinguished individuals, both prudent, moderate, and able, but yet of widely opposite shades of character. The one, Cambacérès, the advocate of abuses, of prejudices, of old institutions, of the revival of honours and titles, &c.; the other, cold, severe, phlegmatic, and the stern opponent of all these objects.” Madame de Stael had pronounced an earlier and similar judgment on them. “ With singular sagacity,” says she, “ Buonaparte chose for his coadjutors in the consulship two men who served only to disguise his solitary despotism : the one, Cambacérès, a lawyer of great attainments, but who had learnt in the Convention to bend habitually before the reign of terror; the other, Lebrun, a man of very cultivated mind and polished manners, but who had been formed under the Chancellor Maupeou, and had been taught to consider not even the forms of the old monarchy sufficiently despotic. Cambacérès was the interpreter of Buonaparte with the revolutionists, Lebrun with the royalists: both translated the same text in a different language.”
The parity of these two men's fortunes advanced equally under the imperial system. Both were raised to the princely dignity : Cambacérès became Arch-chancellor of the empire, with the title of Prince and Duke of Parma ; Lebrun Arch-treasurer, and Duke of Placentia. Both were placed in the House of Peers on the first restoration of the Bourbons, and both renewed their obedience to Napoleon during the Hundred Days. On the second restoration of the Bourbons they were disgraced together, and they were alike recalled to their dignities, and died peaceably in their country.
The sketch of the life of Cambacérès, which is given in this volume, affords, in all its accurate and interesting details, a complete justification of Madame de Stael's reproach that he had learnt from long habit to bow his neck before the reign of terror. There never was, in a season of tremendous convulsions, so perfect an
example of successful time-serving. Descended from an ancient famille-de-robe, he had received an hereditary education for the law; and he successively accommodated the principles of his science with wonderful versatility to the wildest theories of a democracy, to the forms of a constitutional republic, which were only less flagrantly prostituted, and to the rigour of an imperial despotism. He was a principal instrument in the composition of every code which, during the whole course of the Revolution, was employed for the violation of liberty and justice. Yet his nature was any thing but cruel ; nor were his intentions otherwise culpable than as he meanly sacrificed every consideration to his personal safety. In the Convention he was led by his natural moderation to resist violent and iniquitous measures, as far as he dared; and he certainly endeavoured, indirectly, to save the life of Louis XVI., though his conduct on the trial of the unhappy monarch was, after the second restoration of the Bourbons, very unjustly wrested into a pretext for excepting him from the law of amnesty. After the death of the King, finding that his moderation had provoked the suspicion of the ferocious Jacobins, his timidity induced him to court their favour; and as his biographer, over indulgently, excuses his cowardice, he too often voted with them. He was employed by that party in all the visionary legislation of the period, and was a passive sharer in their atrocities. Thus it was that he glided in secure infamy through all the massacres of Robespierre's reign, and yet contrived to escape the retribution, which doomed that monster and his associates to close their existence on the same scaffolds which they had saturated with blood. Cambacérès is the only instance with which we are acquainted of an individual who succeeded in passsing through the whole course of the Revolution without incurring imprisonment or imminent danger. After the fall of Robespierre, his credit continued to augment; and he rode on the surface of every subsequent storm. It appears that in his last years he became a devotee, and applied himself earnestly to all kinds of religious observances. He bequeathed large legacies to various charitable endowments; and his testament, in the name of the Holy Trinity, implored the pardon of Heaven for “ the innumerable offences which he had committed,” but without specifying their nature.
The character of Lebrun was gifted with more dignity, and his career was less objectionable than that of Cambacérès. He began his public life, however, as the secretary of the Chancellor Maupeou, and the organ of his arbitrary administration. He shared in his master's disgrace, and had passed the prime of his life in retirement, when the Revolution commenced. He then re-appeared as a deputy to the first Assembly, and showed himself active, patriotic, and moderate. He spoke frequently on financial questions, in which he was intimately versed; and he was one of the few who, in his writings, at that early epoch, foretold the lapse of the Revolution into anarchy, and the final establishment of a despotism. After the massacre at the Thuileries, on the 10th of August, 1792, he seceded from the Assembly, and prudently resigned all public functions. He did not, however, escape imprisonment in the reign of terror, and was only saved by the fall of Robespierre. After that event he came forward again on the political stage, and thenceforth, like Cambacérès, rose quickly into credit and important employments. Under the empire he increased his reputation as a financier; and he preserved, in the government of Genoa, and, afterwards, of Holland, a fair character for moderation and equity. He was, as Madame de Stael has borne evidence, a man of considerable intellectual taste and attainments; and his elegant translations of Homer and Tasso still maintain their place in French literature. Under the Bourbon government he constantly voted in the House of Peers with the moderate constitutional party; and he died tranquilly, at the great age of eighty-seven years.
We may here, by the way, observe, that this volume of the French obituary exhibits a surprising number of cases of longevity. It is as if, by a whimsical privilege, the men who had outlived the perils of the Revolution were enfranchised of the ordinary laws of mortality, and had become invulnerable, beyond their natural term, to the shafts of the destroyer. We have not forgotten in our critical office to extract tables of longevity from this obituary ; but it might surprise the curious in such matters to reckon up the very large proportion, among a hundred and twenty individuals in this collection, who passed the fatal climax of the threescore and ten years of humanity. No inconsiderable number of them reached ages of from eighty to ninety years. Another sittle circumstance in this mass of biography deserves notice as illustrative of the unhappy and turbulent condition of French society during the last third of a century: there are very few individuals in the crowd of names before us, of whom it is not recorded that some portion of their career was spent in the military service.
After having noticed at some length the memoirs of these remarkable revolutionary characters which figure in the collection, we can do little more than run over the catalogue to point out a few of the remaining persons of any celebrity who are included in the volume. There is a long, and not an uninteresting, article on Louis XVIII., written at once with more good humour, impartiality, and bold candour, than is usually found in royal biography. We have also an aniinated memoir of Prince Eugene Beauharnois, the step-son of Bonaparte, which appears to us to describe justly his respectable though not very eminent qualities. Among the notices of men of letters and science, we are presented with accounts of the elder Lacretelle: — of Cuvelier the dramatist, the creator, as his countrymen will insist, of the melo-drama, and whose facility of composition is at least remarkable, since he has left behind him more than a hundred and ten pieces of the kind: -- of Langlès and Ruffin, the orientalists, the latter of whom was also, for above sixty years, employed, with little intermission, in French diplomacy at the Porte, and was assuredly a person both of great learning and political talents : — of Duvaucel the naturalist, who died while on a scientific mission in India:- of Sage, the chemist, and Thouin, the botanist ; — and of Levaillant, the amusing and eccentric traveller, the veracity of whose statements has, perhaps, not always been disputed with reason. To this enumeration we may add the names of the painters, Géricault, Girodet, and Lemonnier.
In the portion of the volume devoted to foreign biography, the article on the late Pope, Pius VII., is the only one which deserves commendation or notice. It is very well written, ample, and correct in its details; but the biography of Chiaramonti is principally interesting, as his life was only remarkable for the unworthy treatment which he suffered at Buonaparte's hands, and for the inflexible constancy with which, in the last extremity, he resisted the violence and brutality of the tyrant. There might be many acts of more enormous guilt in the despotism of Napoleon, but there is no transaction in his whole history which exhibits his character so disgracefully, and even ridiculously, for mingled cruelty and littleness of mind, us this relentless persecution of an inoffensive and defenceless old man.
Art. VI. Anne Boleyn; a Dramatic Poem. By the Rev. H. H. Mil
man. 8vo. pp. 168. 8s. 6d. London. Murray. 1826. Our poetry has followed the common laws of trade. A few years ago, it came into the market a novelty, rose rapidly into demand, brought high competition, and, as the result, the commodity soon overstocked the dealers. To follow up the commercial phraseology, the market is now at its lowest depression, flat to a proverb, and until some sudden revolution in public feeling shall take us by surprise again, flat it is likely to remain.
We leave the discovery of the causes which may give birth to this not undesirable revolution to the reader's own way of viewing the subject, and come to the present poem.
Mr. Milman has been now a habitual writer for many years: he has received a fair allowance of public attention, and, in the spirit of becoming gratitude, he has descended into the solitary field, and here thrown down his glove, to assert the abandoned cause of “ peerless poetry.” Whether he is altogether the champion that in her more palmy days she would have chosen, whether his vigour be equal to his zeal, or his dexterity in the use of his weapons be of a rank to ensure triumph, we shall not now pause to determine. Let him enjoy at least the praise of doing that which nobody else seems inclined to do; and if he is not destined to exult in his success, let him have the full honours of a “ desperate fidelity.”
beine. Let hier eed to do full honours