We cannot avoid giving the following suggestions from the same quarter, respecting the means of facilitating the study of geology, particularly since they involve some personal allusions to the venerable author himself. He says

• “When geological researches were first undertaken, which was not till a very late period, it appeared to be necessary, for the purpose of rightly understanding the events which had taken place on the earth, to seek for monuments of those events in very distant regions ; on the chains of the highest mountains, in the courses of the largest rivers, and in the celebrated deltas formed at the mouths of the latter. Such great features of our continents ought undoubtedly to be studied, as belonging to one of the classes of monuments of the history of the earth; but when attention is wholly confined to these, as if all the knowledge necessary to geology could hence be acquired, the consequence is, not only that the number of those who can engage in this study by immediate observation must be very limited, but that those who do enter into it, being thus restricted to so small a portion of the facts, and of the connections subsisting between the different classes of phenomena, are inevitably divided among themselves with respect to the systems formed on the succession of effects, and on their causes: and that consequently, although, since the time these studies have begun to produce systems on the History of the Earth, they have become of great importance to all mankind, yet the generality of men, who consider the subject as above their capacity, feel little interest in it; and if they take any part in such controversies, it is only by chance that they are guided.

"" Such is the state of things which I have witnessed ever since I have myself been occupied with geological opinions; and I have also seen the effect produced in the world by these opinions; but, in studying the phenomena by which they ought to be determined, and which I have followed in all their various branches, from the highest mountains, down to countries of hills and plains; from the courses of large rivers, to those of brooks and rivulets; from the new lands added to the continents near the inouths of rivers, to those which have filled up bays, gulphs, and even the smallest creeks; lastly, from the highest cliffs, to the coasts which slope down insensibly to the sea ; I have clearly found the History of the Earth to be traced in the same manner, only with characters differing in magnitude, in all parts of the surface and of the coasts of the continents; and thus to be really within the reach of every person who will attentively pursue the study of its monuments.

6. On this account, I was induced, in the latest of my travels in countries of the most common character, to extend my notes to a greater number of objects, with all the details belonging to them, in order to give

us did not testify that knowledge is at all times man's safest guide, geology-which after having in its infancy supplied arms against the sacred writings, serves at this day to uphold the Mosaic cosmogony--would furnish a memorable instance of that great truth .. Where, in our times, shall we find the geologist, who, while admiring the great genius of Voltaire, could forbear smiling with pity at his elaborate attacks on the Book of Genesis ?”

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

examples of the multiplicity of important phenomena which every man may observe around his own habitation, or in his accidental journeys; and these I have published the first, with a hope that they may excite a taste for such studies, in themselves very amusing, and may thus every where increase the number of observers.

" " It is almost indifferent what places of observation are chosen, for the purpose of at least forming a clear idea of studies of this kind ; for in all countries interspersed with eminences and low spaces, the phenomena are the same as among mountains, only on a smaller scale; and with regard to the coasts, if attention be paid to the actions of natural causes on them, there are few of any extent, where examples of the real operations of the waters of the sea and land may not be found.”—“ Respecting geological observations, I can truly say from long experience, that no study can be more agreeable; for they beguile the weariness of journeys, and even of common walks, affording inexhaustible objects of attention and reflection.” Introductory Remarks, pp. 136—138.

We fear that the time has not yet arrived for De Luc to receive that ample measure of fame to which his labours, his ingenuity, and his admirable motives entitle him. By some of our modern writers on geology his name is all but omitted, whilst some of the profound in their own opinion, think proper to reproach the great philosopher with being too much of a saint. But the sneers of the men who are either too shallow to understand his philosophy, or too unprincipled to represent it with fidelity, are only of the nature of those characteristic tributes which exalted genius is always sure to extort from the ignoble herd of the dull. A consistent life, spent in the entire dedication of his great faculties to the most important questions that can possibly engage the thoughts of man, will, sooner or later, after the bad passions have been silenced, be rewarded by the justice of De Luc's fellow creatures. His case is now amply before the world. His researches and his opinions are placed before it : and now that he is dead, we do not know that we could compose a better epitaph for his tomb, than the eulogy which the Monthly Review once pronounced upon him when living—that he was a moralist, a citizen, and a friend of man, who spoke the language of wisdom to the peasant, the artist, the legislator, and the sovereign, and who appreciated with sensibility, truth, and precision, the genuine sources of human felicity.

ART. IX.The Prospect of Reform in Europe. 8vo. pp. 55. London:

Rich. 1831, Of all the political pamphlets to which the late revolutions upon the continent, or the discussions connected with the great question still pending in England, have given rise, there is not one, we ven. ture to assert, that can for a moment be compared with the publication now on our table, for the masterly comprehensivenessand solidity of its views; the sustained vigour and dispassionate dignity

VOL. III. (1831.) NO. I.


of language in which those views are unfolded, and the almost prophetic tone in which they grasp at the consequences of events that are now thickening every where around us. We had already perused the matter of these remarkable pages in the last number of the North American Review, and had intended, before it appeared in its present shape, to make our readers acquainted with it, feeling that a trans-Atlantic contemplatist alone could catch the magnie ficent and cheering prospect that is here disclosed. We Europeans are placed too near the point whence the rays of light emanate, and are ourselves too much mixed up with them, to collect them within a focus; whereas the American, taking his position at the distance of some four thousand miles, may, without much difficulty, gather them within the field of vision, and behold in regular and harmonious shapes, objects which, to us, are still uncombined and without form. Remoteness of locality serves also for many of the purposes of remoteness of time; it disarms the passions; it leaves the reason unclouded ; it mitigates the force of prejudice, and neutralizes the suggestions of self interest. Whilst we are fretting our busy hour upon the stage, and occupying all our thoughts with the parts that are assigned to us in the grand drama now in course of representation, the American people become, as it were, the audience before whom we act; they alone can feel a merely scenic interest in the plot; can criticise it with the requisite calmness, and award, with any degree of impartiality, the censure or the applause which is due to the performance.

Let us fearlessly look at ourselves, and at the nations that surround us, as we are pictured in this ample mirror ; reminding us, as it does, from the closeness with which it brings distant forms to our view, of that phenomenon which sometimes occurs at sea, and which, in consequence of a peculiarly refractive power in the atmosphere, raises up within our horizon the tops of mountains, and exhibits even the most minute shades of their natural

scenery, long before the eye, without such an extraordinary lens, could otherwise have seen them. The time has gone by for offering apologies on such occasions as that which is now presented to us. The subjects which are here discussed, are of too much importance to the well being of society, to be any longer concealed under those mantles of venerable dust, within those shrines of sacred delicacy, in which our fathers allowed them to sleep in undisturbed repose. It is not a time, when the temple is shaken to its foundations, and the earthquake is raging beneath us, to remain upon our knees worshipping those idols which a false respect, a superstitious attachment to usage, have multiplied upon our altars. We must up and be stirring, look abroad and watch the progress of the storm, lest when it come it may find us unprepared, and thus spread a wider ruin amongst our habitations.

M. Talleyrand, the reputed oracle of diplomacy, was supposed to have concentrated in one phrase the wisdom of a century, when

he pronounced the restoration of the Bourbons the “ commencement of the end” of the French Revolution. He has lived to acknowledge his mistake: for he must now be convinced that we are hardly as yet arrived at the middle of the grand movement of which he witnessed the revival, rather than the beginning for its origin may be traced, without any difficulty, to the period of the reformation. We may perceive it in the spirit of liberty which then, for the first time, threw off the restraints of authority; we may trace it through the events which marked the reign of our last Henry and our first Charles, which planted the American colonies, led to their independence, overthrew the monarchy in France, gave it a republic and an empire, and again repulsed the Bourbons, and again found its way to England. There is a unity of impulse in all this, of which it requires the intellect of a supernatural being to comprehend the ultimate object: we can do no more than take in a small segment of the circle through which this electric impulse is still destined to run. The Americans trace all the great changes that have occurred since 1775 to their revolution; the French to theirs; the English to theirs; all the great changes that are to occur, the French will ascribe to their three days," the Belgians to their little month.

“ Ask where's the North ? at York, 'tis on the Tweed ;

In Scotland, at the Orcades ; and there,

At Greenland, Zembla, or the Lord knows where.” We are but too apt to consider all great events as the consequences of those, with which we are ourselves best acquainted; it is not given to us to look much behind or before these, and we fabricate our little theories with reference rather to the narrowness of our intellect, than to the system of which we form a part, forgetting the maxims so well expressed by Pope, and so replete with truth in the political as well as in the natural world :

“ All nature is but art, unknown to thee ;

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;

All partial evil, universal good." No one comprehends more clearly than the writer of the pamphlet before us, the very small portion of certainty which attends such speculations as these. 'It is,' he admits, like gazing on the western sky at sun-set. We are amazed at the stupendous masses towering up from the horizon, and blazing in the light of the departed sun. We turn away for a moment, to call the attention of a friend to the spectacle; and when we look again, the unutterable splendors have faded, the cloudy battlements have toppled down, and nothing is to be seen but a sombre tract of deepening shadows.' Nevertheless one cannot revert to Mr. Canning's speech on the occasion of sending troops to Portugal in 1826, without feeling that one is listening to a superior intelligence, shadowing

of man;

out, though dimly, the coming events. “ It will be recollected," said that gifted statesman, in a speech which the present author truly designates as one of the boldest that ever dropped from the lips

that when, some years ago, I took the liberty of adverting to a topic of this nature, when it was referred to in this house, with respect to the position of this country at the present time, I then stated that our position was not merely one of neutrality between contending nations, but between contending principles and opinions ; that it was a position of neutrality which alone preserved the balance of power, the maintenance of which I believed necessary to the safety and welfare of Europe. Nearly four years, or rather three years and a half of experience, have confirmed and not altered the opinions then declared; and I still fear that the next war in Europe, if it should spread beyond the narrow compass of Portugal and Spain, will be a war of the most tremendous nature, because it will be a war of conflicting opinions; and I know that if the interests and honour of this country should oblige us to enter into it, -as I trust we shall always do with a firm desire to mitigate rather than exasperate, to contend with arms and not with opinions,--yet I know that this country could not avoid seeing ranked under her banners all the restless, and all the dissatisfied, whether with cause or without cause, of every nation with which she might be placed at variance.” In the first part of this bold denunciation, we behold the prophet; in the latter the erring intellect of the man, for he evidently spoke with reference to the disaffection which prevailed towards the throne in France; but which disaffection he conceived that throne sufficiently powerful to curb. It was a threat thrown out against the Bourbons, whose second, or rather whose third expulsion from France, he, with all his power of prognostication, could not then foresee. But with how much more of certainty might he not now, if his spirit still dwelt amongst us, expatiate upon the dangers of that coming war of opinion, when those who were then the disaffected, have become the predominant party in France, bave collected its thunderbolts in their hands, and are ready to hurl them upon that part of Europe which shall be the first to provoke their anger!

But what do we say? has not this war of opinion already begun? Did it not, in point of fact, begin on the very day that Charles X. signed the ordonnances? What was the resistance to those ordonnances, but a successful war of men who conceived that they ought to be free, against a despot who wished that they should be enslaved ? Has not the progress of this conflict between the two principles, already dissolved the union between Belgium and Holland, and raised the Poles in insurrection against the great military Juggernaut’ of the North? Do we not see and hear this war in our own country, carried on, indeed, as yet, by means of that ample latitude of discussion which our legislative constitution and habits sanction, but ready to be converted into a war of

« ElőzőTovább »