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does not contain much interesting matter in proportion to its size. It may be read with pleasure by those who have visited the countries described in it, as it will serve to recall ideas which are beginning to fade; but to those who have never been in Germany it will communicate very imperfect and vague notions. Had Mr. Jacob allowed more time to his journey in the first instance, and more time to the task of composition afterterwards, he would have made a much better book. He often displays considerable shrewdness; he is not backward at asking questions; and he is never peevish on account of little inconveniencies. In short, his book leaves upon us the impression, that he is an agreeable travelling companion. We must not omit to add, that he is not infected with the leprosy of fine writing. His style, however, though it escapes one fault, runs into others. Its general structure is heavy and disjointed : in its details it is incorrect. Thus he uses granite and porphyry as synonymous terms. He talks of chandeliers depending from the roof, and of post-horses with knees deranged, that is, broken-kneed. He informs us that the gloominess of Amsterdam arises from the height of the houses, and “ the short distance from one side of the street to the other ;” meaning thereby no more than what is called, in common English, narrowness of the streets. He uses the pronouns so 'vaguely, that it is only from the general meaning of the passage, not from the grammar of the sentence, that we can discover what they refer to. What he does say is often very different from what he intends to say. Thus, page 102, “ The surplus of the productions of the soil in the last years so little exceeds the consumption, that,” &c. For surplus substitute amount, and you will have the true sense. So at page 68:
The conquest, or ruin of England, to which the French were taught to look at as a certain event; and on the accomplishment of which the commerce and colonies of Holland, as well as France, were to be restored, obtained no credit in the latter country ;” he means in the former, namely, Holland. We have said, that Mr. Jacob is generally a plain writer: sometimes, however, ambition tempts him into metaphor. For example: There is undoubtedly a deficiency of capital in the countries between Germany and Russia. But capital, like water, if not as speedily, will, at least, as invariably, flow to the place where it is most productive.” The discovery that water flows to the place where it is most productive, is quite novel in hydrostatics. As connected with the subject of style, we may add, that the spelling of the few German words which occur is extremely inaccurate; whether by the fault of the printer, or of the writer, we cannot say: thus we have güte instead of gute, unterthaner instead of unterthanen.
The perusal of Mr. Jacob's book suggests some reflections, which are not without their application to our own circumstances. We complain of the depression of agriculture and the stagnation of commerce, but it appears that there is no part of Europe which is not suffering under similar evils. We ascribe qur distress wholly to taxation; yet our taxes have been diminished by a fourth below their war amount, while peace has only added to the burdens of most of our neighbours. Man must never judge of his situation absolutely; he can estimate his condition only by comparing it with that of others; and when we have recourse to this method of decision, we have no small cause to be satisfied; for we are still the most prosperous people in Europe.
Our labouring classes murmur; yet let them look to the circumstances of the lower orders on the Continent. A Prussian soldier has eighteen ounces of black bread and three pence in money per day. So inadequate is the nourishment he receives, that in one regiment 20 men have often fainted on parade from extreme inanition: * yet a soldier is generally better fed than a peasant. Throughout the whole north of Germany coarse rye bread, with potatoes, is the common food of the inhabitants, not of the hired labourers merely, but of the generality of the farmers too. A labouring man can earn little beyond his mere food. Besides his own coarse and scanty fare, he does not gain more than threepence per day in winter, and fourpence in summer; and out of this pittance he must provide clothing for himself, and food, apparel, and lodging for those whom nature has made dependent on him. His situation in France is little, if at all, better. Of all the provinces of that kingdom, Normandy presents to the eye the most evident appearances of comfort and improvement; yet a portion of bread, with a couple of roasted apples, and perhaps a glass of weak cyder, is the greatest luxury of which a Norman peasant partakes. We speak not of how he fares in seasons of extraordinary distress, but of the habitual tenor of his life. If, from the article of food, we proceed to consider lodging, clothing, furniture, and the other comforts of existence, no comparison can be instituted between the advantages of the English labourer and those of the common people in any part of the Continent. Yet no part of the Continent exceeds us in discontent.
It is consolatory to observe, that public affairs are everywhere better administered than in former times. Nowhere do we meet with instances of direct oppression; attention is everywhere paid to economy, and the means of instruction are every where provided for the people. It is scarcely possible to enter a town in Germany, where numerous gratuitous institutions for education do not exist. All this is an indubitable proof, that governments are in a course of gradual improvement. But gradual improvement comes too slowly for human impatience; and, accordingly, in every part of Europe, we find a faction loud in their clamours against the institutions of their country. The German reformers, it must be confessed, have the advantage of their English brethren in education, respectability, and perhaps honesty of intention; in point of wisdom they are both alike. Their only aim is to destroy; they have no distinct conception of the new fabric which they are to erect. They have only the vague principle, that more of republican forms and institutions must be introduced into government. They who will take the trouble to peruse Mr. Jacob's book, will see, that in Germany such plans must terminate in confirming and extending the powers of the aristocracy. The great requisite to improvement is, to lessen the dependance of the cultivators of the soil on the proprietors, and this object is now calmly but steadily pursued. By any considerable change in the government, it will be rendered more difficult of attainment; because the nobles will gain whatever the crown loses, unless the innovators, not satisfied with altering the political constitution, tear the whole frame of society to pieces, violate every right of property, and re-distribute the population into such classes as they, in the profoundness of their wisdom, shall think fit. What would be the ultimate result of so tremendous a change, no one can foretel; the first part of the way lies through bloodshed, misery, and crime; the termination is hid in darkness. We throw out these remarks, chiefly because the plans of the German reformers are sometimes spoken of, in too favourable terms, by men who would be most unwilling to permit, that, in their own country, wild and visionary theory should lay its hands on the ark of the constitution of their forefathers.
* This fact we give on ihe authority of a British officer in the Prussian service.
ART. IX.—The Life of William Lord Russell, with some Ac
count of the Times in which he lived. By Lord John Russell. Second Edition. 2 vols. 8vo. Longman and Co. London,
1820. THE reign of Charles the Second is one of the most curious and interesting periods of British, we might almost say of general, history. Never, perhaps, was there a time in which a good man, forced by his station to take a part in public measures, would find it more difficult to know how to act. As a loyal subject, he would feel inclined to side with the king, yet to do so was not only to encourage a profligate and venal government, but to strengthen the hands of tyranny, and to pave the way for the return of Popery. To throw his weight into the popular scale, was to incur the risk of another scene of bloodshed and confusion similar to that from which the nation had but just emerged. The parliament was so split into factions, that it was difficult to discover from that quarter what was the general wish and pulse of the people, except that it was violently in opposition to every measure of the court. The political elements were something in the state in which geologists represent certain strata of the earth, where the various particles held in solution, not having had time to crystallize by gradual subsidence, according to their regular attractions and specific gravities, have formed a confused and heterogeneous mass, requiring to be dissolved once more, and to polarize in regular symmetry by a more gradual process. Neither the Rebellion nor the Restoration had reduced these elements to their legitimate positions, or marshalled them in due order: the former had thrown every thing into the scale of democracy. It was enough for the people, groaning under oppression, to be freed from the prospect of Popery and arbitrary power; they asked for no curb to evils of an opposite kind. The virulence of the distemper which ensued soon led them to the contrary extreme; they felt the necessity of a regular government, and, in consequence, recalled the legitimate dynasty, but without those stipulations which were necessary to prevent the introduction of the ancient abuses. A third process, therefore, was necessary to strike the balance, and to reduce the constitution to that happy state of adjustment under which it at present exists. That process took place at the revolution of 1688, which finally settled the contending claims of the monarchical and democratical parts of our constitution, and gave us the benefits without the evils of either extreme.
In speaking of times like these, a narrator is almost unavoidably biassed by his political predilections, and among the contending parties it is not always easy to discover the real complexion of events. The noble author of the Life of Lord William Russell,* whose narrative now lies before us, is himself well known under the denomination of a decided Whig; and his party predilections, as well as his descent from the illustrious subject of his narrative, naturally give somewhat of a bias to his pages. We have no intention of saying, because we do not think, that his Lordship has misrepresented facts; but many of his arguments and conclusions are written with a party spirit,-a spirit from which an avowed systematic oppositionist cannot be expected to be free. Indeed, Lord John Russell expressly justifies it; for, in speaking of his patriotic ancestor's joining the opposition in parliament, he remarks,
* The work before us spells the name Russell; Hame and many other writers spell it Russel ; we shall follow the family orthography.
“ From this time we may date the origin of the party to which Lord Russell henceforward belonged. There are persons who think the name of Party implies blame; who, whilst they consider it natural and laudable that men should combine, for any other object of business or pleasure, and whilst they are lavish in bestowing their confidence on government, which must in its nature be a party, find something immoral and pernicious in every union of those who join together to save their country from unnecessary burdens or illegal oppression. To such persons Lord Russell's conduct must appear indefensible.
“ But to all those who allow that party may sometimes be useful, and opposition often even necessary, I may safely appeal for the justification of his conduct. To overthrow a scheme so formed as that of Charles and James, it was not sufficient to give honest, but unconnected votes in the House of Commons. It was necessary to oppose public discussion to secret intrigue, and persevering union to interested combination: it was necessary to overlook the indiscreet violence of partisans, to obtain the fruits of the zeal from which it. sprung: it was necessary to sink every little difference in the great cause of the Protestant religion, and our ancient freedom: in fine, it was the duty of the lovers of their country to counteract system by system, and numbers by numbers." (Vol. i. p. 63, 64.)
From much of this specious reasoning we dissent; and we should not scruple to affirm, that the case of Lord William Russell himself furnishes a strong argument against the whole system. For what brought that eminent man to the scaffold ? Certainly (or at least we are willing to believe,) not any treasonable practices of his own : he persisted in averring to the last, and we believe truly, that he wished only for legal and parliamentary measures. Hume himself, who was no great friend to the memory of Lord Russell, allows that he intended only the redress of grievances, and the legal exclusion of the Duke of York from the throne. But by "overlooking the indiscreet violence of partizans," with a view to “ obtain the fruits of the zeal from which it sprung,” he suffered himself to be connected with men who were ripe for, and who actually plotted, insurrection and rebellion. The evidence on his trial showed unequivocally that he was present at a meeting where conversation of the most treasonable nature took place, and which it