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gar mortals tremble to look; he has not passed marshes like the Serbonian bog, “where armies whole have sunk;" he has not forded rivers where the current roared like the Lodore, nor has he ventured himself on bridges that trembled under him, and from which he looked down on foaming whirlpools or dreadful abysses; but there is enough that is extraordinary and interesting in the countries he visited, and whatever amusement and instruction the representation of such matters will impart has not been withheld.
The opening at the title-page is somewhat alarming : on one side we have a plate describing the palaces in ruin at Moscow, from the terrible effects of confiagration ; on the other, all the horrors of cold across the frozen sea, where are exposed the most dreary snow-prospects that can be imagined. The other plates are numerous; all of them from drawings by the author, some in mezzotinto, by Clark, and others etched by the Hon Heneage Legge, the former with the patience and skill of a professor, and the latter with taste and spirit, but with the deficiency of precision that is usually detected in the productions of an aniateur.
The associate of our traveller at the commencement of the journey was Sir James Milles Riddell, and in the sequel Mr. Macmichael, both of them collegiate acquaintance; and the latter travelling fellow of the University of Oxford. From the title of the book it will have been seen that Mr. James is a young student of Christ Church, and we certainly do find, here and there, a few juvenile peculiarities in the style of the work indicative of those scholastic trammels, with which we are amused in some of the characters of Moliere. On approaching Stralsund, the author says, “ we were challenged in our own vernacular, and the gates of the garrison were speedily opened.” But these singularities are not frequent or obtrusive, and diminish very little the merit of the production. On the arrival of Mr. James at the Prussian capital, he gives us the subsequent particulars.
“ The old German mode of building had for some time disappeared from our road, giving way to an elegant ornamental style, formed with peculiar taste on the lialian models. In the first streets of Berlin we were particularly struck with some of the chastest and most elegant specimens of this character: each house was a model. Still as we proceeded, at every step we gazed with fresh delight, when the first opening of the Linden Strasse burst upon the view, eclipsing whatever we had hitherto seen, and presenting one of the finest architectural vistas in the world. On the rigbt we looked down a splendid street, shaded with a double avenue of lime trees, to the majestic portals of Brandebourg; on the left to the royal palace, along a line of lofty façades, ornamented with porticos, statues, and every variety of sculptural decoration. No imagination can conceive a scene, in the strict sense of the word, more beautiful than what is here presented.
“ The old town lies in the centre of the place, encircled by the branches of the Spree, that in earlier times formed the fosse of - its fortifications. This part however possesses no great interest, ex
cept as giving specimens of the style previous to the æra of Frederic II, in the palace and the arsenal; but they are far outslione by the elegant edifices erected in his, or in the succeeding reigns, particularly the Italian Opera-house, the theatre and churches in the Place de Gens d'armes, the Brandenbourg gate, and the library built after a design by Frederic bimself. This monarch indeed seems to have infused a new feeling of taste into the nation, and to have given not only a different face to the condition of the state, but to have produced a perfect revolution in the minds of his people; and well indeed would it have been if bis spirit of theoretical improvement had been confined within these limits. An elegant and refined taste may be held, by some superficialists, to be of an exotic growth in a country situated in so northerly a latitude. However this be, it has attained here a degree of practical perfection, which, in some respects, is perhaps unrivalled.” (p. 32.)
The circumstances of the death of a French officer of high distinction, who had joined the allied armies before Dresden, will excite much painful interest. We refer to the following particulars related of General Moreau, some of which we believe are new to the public.
“ Having ventured with the Emperor of Russia, and some of the staff, in front of one of the batteries of the allies, against which the fire of the enemy was directed, and being about half his horse's length in advance of the party, he was struck on the thigh; the ball passed through the body of his horse, and dreadfully slattered the other leg, driving him with violence to the ground. From the heavy rains that were falling, he was taken up so covered with mud, that one could scarce distinguish the blood issuing from his limb, which only appeared attached by a few lacerated sinews to his body. Immediate assistance was given, and four Cossacks of the imperial guard made a litter with their pikes, and conveyed him in this miserable plight to Dippoldiswalde; thence, as the French troops were advancing, he was carried to Laun, where Sir J. Wylie (of the emperor's houschold) proceeded to the amputation of the thigh. Moreau called for a cigare, and submitted, without a word. This done, the surgeon informed hiin it would be also necessary to take off the remaining leg. He was silent for a minute-Well,' said he, · De
your duty; had you told me before that this would be absolutely requisite, I would not have submitted to the former operation. I hope, however, I have too much sense of religion still left to permit me to think of what would amount to an act of suicide. The issue of this disastrous event is tog fresh in the recollection of all to make it necessary to enter into its details.” (p. 70.)
It seems that Mr. Clark and other travellers, are thought by our author more severe on the subjects of Alexander than they deserve, and he introduces some brief apologetic observations.
“ Having here, he says, alluded to the progress of civilisation, I must add, that it is not intended to convey any undue satire upon the Russian people, who have been already calumniated more than enough, both by English and French writers. General conclusions bave been drawn from particular instances of misconduct or meanness; habits common to all the continent have been quoted as pe. culiar to them alone; and manners and usages that really were their own, and from that circumstance deserved a milder judgment, have been exaggerated into heinous crimes, with the most indecent acri. mony. In other instances different ranks have been confounded, and sketches of high life given by those who appear seldom to have mixed with even the better classes of society; while facts which only appeared in a bad light from the temporary irritation of the traveller's mind have been misquoted and applied as evidences of the real Russian character; although nothing could be more out of place than the idea of generalising on the subject.” (p. 236.)
We are told by our author of the generosity of the present Emperor of Russia, who has been brought up by his preceptor in the principles of Swiss independence, and who would gladly therefore, set free the class of peasantry, and even forget, in his zeal, those necessary precautions which would render such a bold innovation substantially beneficial to his country. But if such an extensive project of improvement cannot be successful, at least some mat. ters of inferior regulation should not be neglected by this patriotic prince.
“ The police,” observes our author, “from its inquisitorial nature, bas infinite sources of gain; they sell the liberty of the press, defraud the stranger, plunder robbers of their stolen goods, and receive fees alike of the accuser and the accused. Provincial officers favour the wealthy merchant with the permission to introduce contraband goods; and again, out of the number of slaves sent by the Seigneur for the imperial levies, they select the empty-handed peasant for military service: in the former case, the agents of the custom-house step in also for their due share of pillage; in the latter, the surgeons and procureurs follow pari passu the example of their superiors. It would be endless to attempt a catalogue of these enormities, all of which, nevertheless, custom has sanctioned with, as it were, a prescriptive right. The sums paid are regarded only as regular fees or perquisites of office : the functionaries themselves have been bred up with the knowledge of no other system, are sur. prised to hear a foreigner say, that acts which are done openly every day, can savor of illegality or injustice; in fact, they do but follow the principle and common basis of every branch of the Russian government.” (p. 257.)
The organization of society, as it subsisted in Poland, was of a peculiar character to modern times, so large a portion of the aristocracy of the feudal system, with its ancient incumbrances, being rigorously preserved. The present situation of the higher orders in that country is thus described.
“ With regard to the Polish nobility, the extent of their power as individuals, as well as politically speaking, has been much diminished since the annihilation of the semi-republican form of government. In the parts uuder the government of Austria and Prussia, the inordinate authority of the seigneur over his vassals has been restrained by law. They do not now enjoy the right of inflicting corporeal punishment; nor, indeed, are slaves now, as formerly the case, attached to the glebe, so that their condition, in some respects, assimilates to that of the German peasant. Besides this, the manners of the nobles themselves are greatly changed and improved (as was before remarked) by intercourse with their veighbours. There are those, it is true, who confine themselves almost entirely to their country residences; but a great proportion are to be found in society, at the respective capitals of their sovereigns, particularly at Petersburg and Vienua. They are many of them also employed in official situations, for which they are made equally eligible with the rest of their fellow subjects. ..“ Those who have fallen under the domination of Prussia are excluded from any share in public employments ; but notwithstanding this unjust exception, the mild nature and excellent regulations of the Prussian government have succeeded in making it more generally popular and acceptable, among all classes in Poland, than either the Russian or Austrian administrations.” (p. 520.)
The reader of this work will not fail to receive entertainment during his progress through it, but we do not see any extraordinary talent displayed, and the political observations, where they are correct, are trite. There is, it is said, in some minds a propensity to draw inferences from every occurrence in life, and to suggest fresh matter of contemplation at every step. To persons of this disposition, foreign travel is abundantly instructive, and when such men narrate to us what they have seen and heard, they gratify our curiosity, and instruct our understanding. Mr. James was certainly not thoroughly prepared for the large field of observation on which he entered, and amid the variety of subjects on which he touched, a few of them have received some injury from the collision.
ART. VII.- Report from the Select Committee on the Insol
dent Debtors' Acts, 53 and 54 Geo. III. with the Minutes of Evidence taken before the Committee. Ordered by the House of Commons to be printed. London, Clement, 1816.
8vo. Pp. 251. In our last number, under the division of Political Economy, we noticed a publication on the Insolvent Debtors' Bill. The present report was printed by the direction of Parliament at the close of the last session, and on account of its general utility, it now makes its appearance in the form of a pamphlet for public examination. It consists of the minutes of evidence taken before the Select Committee of the House of Commons, and comprizes the testimony of persons who, from their official situations, were summoned by the Committee to give information, and of others who, feeling the pressure of the Insolvent Acts, and anxious for an alteration of the law, voluntarily offered their evidence. In the extracts that we supply, we shall confine ourselves to the opinion expressed before the Committee by Mr. Serjeant Runnington, his Majesty's Commissioner under the late Act, one of the most learned professors of English law, and one who, both from the sensibility of his nature, and the duty of his situation, would be disposed to suggest every thing that could conduce to the security of the fair trader, and the relief of his unfortunate debtor.
The Commissioner was requested by the Committee to suggest any defects which he had observed in the late act, and any amendments that might be made in it. The fol. lowing is the substance of the learned Serjeant's reply, and as nearly as possible in such a compendium, we employ his own words :
An official oath should be taken by the Commissioner, which is not now prescribed.
The office of Commissioner should be declared to be CRIT, Røv. VOL. IV. August, 1816.