Зображення сторінки

village half-way down Lake St. Francis, to preach there on certain Sundays. Next day being one of the stated periods of his ministry, he asked permission from an aide-de-camp to take a passage-- the boat always touching at Lancaster to drop the mail. Leave was courteously given, but Mr. McNaughten was cautioned to keep out of his Exo cellency's sight. During the voyage Lord Durham discovered that the minister was on board, and got into a great passion-rebuking the captain of the boat, and the clergyman himself, in no measured terms, for this intrusion on his privacy. When the boat approached Lancaster the captain wished to stop for five minutes, as usual, to drop his mailbag, but was sternly forbidden by the great little man, who, as a punishment, carried off Mr. McNaughten to Côteau, at the lower end of the lake, some forty miles out of his way; ard, as no boat returned till Monday, altogether defeating his object.'-—vol. ii. pp. 214-217.

We really do not think a more perfect picture ever was drawn of your Noble Radical. How good it would be to have close by the Doctor's note a similarly faithful view of His Excellency's bearing when at St. Petersburg! · Dr. Henry, after a full and particular account of his own final courtship and fortunate wedding, winds up with a strong and yet temperate address to all classes of the Canadians, urging pro virili the wisdom and necessity of giving a fair trial to the plan recommended by the present Governor-general, and now sanctioned by Parliament. We must not go again into these serious topics, at the end of such a gossiping paper as this; but we willingly copy what the Staff-Surgeon says of the first appearance of Lord Sydenham at Quebec in October, 1839 :

. His Excellency landed, proceeded to the old château, and took the usual oaths, in the presence of the executive council, a large number of military officers, with Sir J. Colborne, Sir R. Jackson, and Sir J. Macdonnell at their head, and a great concourse of respectable civilians. The new Governor's appearance and demeanour on this occasion made a favourable impression. His physiognomy evinced benevolence and intelligence;—and he went through the inaugural ceremonies in a quiet gentlemanly manner, in pleasing contrast with the pompous harlequinades of one of his immediate predecessors, whose scowl at the abjuration oath, and the indignant toss of the book that followed, are not yet forgotten.'—vol. ii. p. 229.

On the whole we fancy our readers will not regret the extent to which we have drawn on this production of the Quebec press. The author is evidently a worthy as well as a clever man, and we rather think that, with some omissions, his work might be advantageously reprinted in England.


Art. VII.-La Révolution telle qu'elle est ; ou Correspondance inédite du Comité de Salut public avec les Généraux et les Représentans du Peuple en Mission près les armées et dans

les départements pendant les années 1793, 4, et 5. Mis en

ordre par M. Legros. 2 vols. Paris. 1837. W E are always so glad to meet with anything concerning the

n French Revolution that looks like truth, that we shall dedicate a few pages to the examination of this work, because—though its title is an impudent exaggeration of the value of its contentsthe contents themselves are, we are satisfied, genuine. The editor's preface complains very justly of the way in which what are 'complaisantly called Histories of the Revolution’ have been hitherto manufactured by authors who, taking the broad facts from public notoriety, deduce the causes and motives-not from a careful and critical examination of the contemporary evidence, but~from their own inferences and conjectures, always uncertain, and generally prejudiced. We had already made a similar complaint in our article on Robespierre,* in which we showed that many, even the most, important circumstances of his career-and, consequently, of the interesting period which he influenced- have been by successive historians left wholly unexplained, or flippantly accounted for by contradictory and often impossible suppositions. The same observation may be made of almost every other remarkable personage or event of that great drama :-the part played on the public stage is generally (though not always) sufficiently toldbut as to what was done behind the scenes little inquiry was made, and little insight has been given.

Much of this superficial style of history has arisen from an opinion which has of late prevailed, that the public Journals, and especially the Moniteur, supply not merely copious, but all-sufficient sources of historical information; and a gentleman, who is said to possess the best library of revolutionary publications in the world-M. Deschiens, of Versailles--has, in a published catalogue of his collection, incidentally given additional weight to this, we think, very erroneous opinion, by the great and almost exclusive importance which he appears to assign to his Journals. M. Deschiens' collection being peculiarly rich in journals, it is natural that he should be disposed to think them the most valuable class of públications; and so undoubtedly they are as to dates and generally as to facts, but by no means so as to causes and motives; which, after all, are the soul of history, while the naked facts are, as it were, but the skeleton.

* Quarterly Review, No. CVIJI., Art. II.

2 1 2

But But moreover; from 10th August, 1792, till the autumn of 1795, the three most interesting years in French history-we might almost say in the annals of mankind-the journals were either paralysed by terror, or gagged by force, and tell nothing more than the Jacobin Club, or the Committee of Public Safety were pleased to permit, or “thought it expedient to direct.'* One may read the best newspapers of the day without finding a trace of the most important and exciting events. Let us give one or two instances. The Journal de Paris of the 7th October, 1789, took no notice whatsoever of the formidable and fatal insurrection of the 5th and 6th; but filled its pages with a critique on the annual Exhibition of pictures;—and when-three days after the eventit ventured to give a short and slight account of it, it introduced it by this apologetical preface :— The circumspection and prudence which have been our constant guides have not allowed us to give an account of the various popular movements, which have lately succeeded each other so rapidly in this capital. The Moniteur of the 22d January, 1793—the day after the King's murderdoes not even allude to that event, and ekes out its columns with a critique on Ambroise-a comic opera-words by Moncel music by Daleyrac.' The 10th of Augustthe Massacres of September--and other great events are scarcely mentioned in the newspapers ; never on the day, nor even on the day after they happened; nor until the victorious party had decided what colour to give to the affair: and on the whole, therefore, we confess that we attach very little historical importance to the mere series of daily Journals. We do not, however, include under these observations several literary and political journals, or rather periodical pamphlets, such as those of Brissot, Condorcet, Robespierre, Marat, Hébert, Carra, Desmoulins, and, above all, Les Révolutions de Paris par Prudhomme ; which, for as long as they were permitted to exist, are curious evidences of the spirit of the men, the parties, and the times; but these all vanished before the Reign of Terror. The press had a kind of freedom in the early days of the Directory, but on the 18 Fructidor V. (4th September, 1797), forty-two journals were actually suppressed without form of trial, and their proprietors, directors, authors, contributors, and editors' were condemned by a decree of the Councils, to transportation for life and confiscation of property, while twenty-four others were denounced, and only reprieved during good behaviour. But even in the days of the least restraint the newspaper press was never allowed to criticise

* La liberté de la presse'-said Robespierre with almost Hibernian naïveté, wheni, after the fall of the Girondins, he had got the upper hand' La liberté de la presse doit étre ENTIERE sans doute ; MAIS ne pas élre employée à perdre la liberté.'

of daily. Jou several literans those of smo


the Revolution; and even the actors of the Théâtre Francais were once (3rd September, 1793) all put into prison for acting a play in which there was this revolutionary truism

· Le parti qui triomphe est le seul légitime!' Judge in what a state of freedom the press must then have been!

The preface to the work before us also observes that another cause by which the secret motives of action are concealed is, that : governments are not communicative. This is true enough—but the real difficulty on this point lies deeper. The Public Offices themselves, even if open to inquirers, have frequently, and on the most important subjects, nothing to communicate.' The weightiest measures are often adopted on verbal consultations of which no record remains-often on the advice of those who do not assign their real motives—and often again, the measures, though proposed in one sense, take, by accident or design, a different, or even an opposite turn. If this be, as it certainly is, true, even as to regular governments, how much more so must it be of an anarchy composed of bad men who had no habits of business --whose principle it was to act on the sudden, and by impulseswhose real motives and objects were such as even the most audacious amongst them would not have dared to confess even to an accomplice, much less to commit to paper--and who, amidst the constant struggles and frequent vicissitudes of faction, were always careful to leave no record that could compromise them on a turn of fortune! No one who has not looked closely into the matter can have any idea of the mixture of temerity and terror-of bravado and cowardice-by which almost all the actors in the revolution were guided. Danton—the loud, the audacious, the brazen Danton-lost himself, as he was told on the verge of the scaffold by one of his fellow-sufferers-lost himself and them by indolence and poltroonery. These men were all giants in. pulling down, but pigmies when they came to rebuild; and, in either case, had probably very vague and very wavering conceptions even of their own motives. We, therefore, doubt that a full or even tolerable history of the convulsive periods of the Revolution can ever be written; many of the main-springs of action are, we fear, irrevocably lost, or rather we should say, never had a material existence; having been only the thoughts and counsels of the actors and having perished with them. Can we ever hope to know the real history of the immolation of the Hébertistes, or of the Danton, istes, or the secret counsels of Robespierre, Couthon, and St. Just in that awful and purgatorial period between the 22d Prairial and the 9th Thermidor (10th July, 1794)? Robespierre himself, if he had, like Carnot, survived that bloody intoxication, would have been as much puzzled as Carnot was, or affected to be,


to account for all the extravagant and almost incredible atrocities to which they had given their imperative signatures. They were all drunk or mad—with vanity and ambition at first, and after wards with blood and personal terror!

But there are still two large fields of information which have been very imperfectly explored. The Revolution produced a most enormous quantity of pamphlet publication-of party controversy—of personal attack and apology, crimination and recrimination. From an extensive and diligent collation and comparison of these ephemeral and now forgotten productions, there might be derived a great deal of information relative to individual character, and not a little with respect to public events. We know of no historian who has so much as looked through one of these collections; of which, however, several have been made : that of M. Deschiens is, as we have said, supposed to be the most valuable extant, but there is also one-or rather a combination of two very extensive collections in the British Museum, which, however, when we last visited the Museum, was wholly useless for want of a catalogue, or even arrangement. They might as well be sold to a cheesemonger as kept in the state in which we last endeavoured to consult them. M. Thiers is the only historian of the Revolution who seems to have even thought of these temporary publications as a source of information-and he, though he has made a ready, and even too confident use of some that happened to fall in his way, seems not to have taken much trouble in working the veins of ore thus accidentally opened to him.

We will give an example, and merely as an example. The 10th of August was, take it for all in all, the most important day of the whole Revolution; and the immediate causes of that explosion have been the subject of the most contradictory assertions and the most general controversy. It was at first charged upon the Court as an attempt at a counter-Revolution; when the abolition of royalty and the death of the King had rendered that calumny no longer serviceable, the truth came out that it was the result of a patriot conspiracy-a more decisive repetition of the 20th June; and the revolutionary factions, by this time divided into Jacobins and Girondins, began to squabble for the honour of having each exclusively planned and executed an event which constituted one of the articles of charge on which they had condemned the King. Neither Lacretelle, Pagès, nor Alison take any notice of this part of the case. Mignet alludes slightly (and without naming him) to Barbaroux' revelations of the preparatory meetings at Charenton ; but some documents of infinitely greater consequence-a printed speech, and a letter of Petion's to the Jacobins (Nov. 1792), and the clever and important answer by Robespierre,

« НазадПродовжити »