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with the blood of its rightful possessor! I see it dragging hoary and trembling religion from a distant region, and forcing it to the guilt and basebess of consecrating this foul usurpation! I see, of surrounding nations, some chained to its footstool, and ground to the very dust in its pillage and rapacity; some compelled to wield their energies in support of its crimes; some still permitted to breathe by its insulting forbearance ; and in the midst of all this I hear it inocking the understanding and feeling of mankind, by the specious accents of peace and philanthropy.'
It was our intention to point out these errors to our readers, by the contrast of passages in our older and purer writers; but recalled by our author's admonitory horror of all the musty folios the groaning shelves of polemic divinity ever bore,' we are unwilling to pursue him in death, with a discipline at which he so much revolted in life. It is however our opinion, that if he had condescended to the study of such models, his claim to notice as a writer would have rested on a more durable foundation ; though, as a preacher, he might possibly have forfeited some of his attractions for an audience, who so much delight in the extravagance of eloquence. We know that by prescribing the mould in which the thought is to be cast, and the rule which is to measure the expression, we shall be accused of endeavouring to reinstate art on the throne of originality. But originality implies, not the passion for irregularity which ransacks creation in search of new modes, and is reduced for the effect it produces to fantastic eccentricity, but that force of genius which bends to its purpose the most stubborn materials, clothes in form and propriety appearances almost beyond the confines of nature, and produces a uniformity and an elegance surpassing even the conception of inferior capacity. We will illustrate our meaning by a reference to Bishop Horsley. In his exposition of the fortyfifth Psalm, he has ranged through every variety of conjectural criticism.With truth for the basis of his general argument, he has laboured to give to every part a co-operating tendency; from a presumption he infers certainty, from a shadow of allusion he extorts probability, and builds his most refined speculation upon the slender variations of verbal meaning: Yet to the flights of an imagination so excursive, be our conviction what it máy, we readily concede the praise of combining for our instruction the most seeming incongruities, without disgust to our taste, without offence to our judgment. We cannot be suspected (for this would be unjust) of wishing to draw an unqualified comparison between writers of such different attainments: our sole object has been to convince the admirers of Dean Kirwan (amongst whom we ourselves are not the least) how differently he would have appeared before the public with the same talents under the regula
tion of sober reason. We particularly hold out this consideration to such as being gifted with a ready flow of language and idea, rely upon these specious endowments. If their ambition, too impatient to wait for the slow maturity of expanding faculties, glows with renovated ardour at contemplating the career of Dr. Kirwan, if with loftier projects and livelier hopes they are eager for the same course, let them pause
in this foretaste of their glory, and acknowledge from bis example, that the impetuosity which overbears the hearer is not irresistible in the perusal, and that ultimate success must ever depend upon actual desert.
ART. XI.-Histoire de France, pendant le Dix-huitième Siècle,
par Charles Lacretelle. 6 vols. Svo. Paris. London, De Boffe.
T is evidently the object of the work before us, to trace the
causes which produced the French Revolution, from the latter years of the reign of Lewis XIV. to the dreadful moment of its explosion; and it is curious to observe how tbe vices and blanders of succeeding governments contributed to raise that tremendous storm, which burst over the head of an unfortunate prince, whose chief defect was weakness of character. Such an investigation must have been at all times an object of interesting research, but it now affords a subject of triumph. The volcano is exhausted; and we may approach the crater in perfect security. M. Lacretelle commences his history with a lively picture of
: the court of Versailles, when the vainest and most voluptuous monarchs had abandoned those pleasures, which he could no longer enjoy, for the gloomy discussions of controversial tbeology, An antiquated prude, the widow of a buffoon, by consummate art, had supplanted, in the affections of a worn-out debauchee, the most lovely and accomplished of women, and had subjugated her admirer to such a degree, as to obtain a legal title to his bed. Possessing talents, which were calculated only for the superintendance of a convent, she aspired to govern a mighty empire, and exercised her authority in caballing with the Jesuit Le Tellier for the ruin of the virtuous and enlightend Fenelon, the honour and ornament of religion.
Eager as the people must have been to be delivered from a sovereign odious to them by the weight of taxation, by a series of humiliating defeats, * and by a systematic disregard of the dictates
The Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene had instructed the world that Franoe was vulnerable in spite of her fortifications; and even in the quarter where
humanity in all bis transactions, --yet they had little to hope from the cbaracter of the Dauphin, who had been so long accustomed to implicit obedience, as scarcely to retain any will of his own. The Duke of Burgundy, on the contrary, was deservedly dear to the nation. Bitter therefore was their disappointment, when that amiable youth was suddenly snatched away in the prime of life, by a pulmonary complaint, which popular prejudice attributed to poison, administered by the Duke of Orleans. The atrocity of the deed appeared to augment in a tenfold degree, when directed against a prince who had defended him from the horrible charge of having hastened the death of the Dauphin, when the King was inclined to believe the report, and Madame de Maintenon forbore to contradict it, because she beheld in the Duke of Orleans a dangerous rival to her favourite pupil the Duke of Maine. The affliction of Lewis at the danger which threatened the life of his grandson, and the fortitude displayed by that excellent young man, are well described,
• Le Dauphin vint ensuite se mêler aux seigneurs qui attendaient le roi. Nul n'osait le consoler, tous gardaient un morne silence, il se tenait debout au milieu d'eux. Son air avait quelque chose d'égaré; son visage était couvert de marques rougeâtres. Il répondait au salut douloureux de ceux dont il connoissait le plus d'attachment, par des regards qui percaient l'ame. Il entra au milieu d'eux au lever du roi. Quel pouveau coup pour l'auguste vieillard, que la vue de son petit-fils qui portait sur tois les traits l'empreinte de la mort! Louis s'avance vers lui, il le serre dans ses bras avec tendresse; il l'observe, il détaille tous les funestes symptômes, qu'avaient déjà remarqués les courtisans.--Re tirez vous, mon fils, lui disait-il, pendant qu'un médecin tâtait le pouls au princé, et regardait le roi avec des yeux effraiés, au nom de Dieu, retirez vous ; veillez sur vous-même; j'attends tout du courage de mon fils. Que le ciel vous donne de la force ; il en faut, mon fils, dans ces temps malheureux.'-i. 22.
A more impressive scene of domestic affliction can hardly be conceived than that which clouded the end of a reign so frequently eulogised by the historians of France as the proudest era of national prosperity, though agriculture languished
for want of hands, and commerce stagnated for want of capital. It is impossible to deny that, at one period of his government, Lewis appeared sur-rounded with glory; but for those splendid achievements by wbich he acquired the appellation of GREAT, he was far more indebted to extraneous causes, over which he had little controul, than to
those boasted bulwarks were thickest. And had it not been for the intrigues of Harley, and St. John, and the inconstancy of the queen, (we purposely employ the inildest language when speaking of a female and a sovereign,) there can be little doubt that another campaign would have enabled the allies to dietate peace in the splendid apartments of the Louvre.
of an age
military talent or judicious discrimination. The ministers, generals, and authors, who contributed to exalt his reputation, were forined at an earlier period; their genius partook of the vigour
when the mind was less enervated by luxury and less fettered by despotism: and witb these illustrious models of valourand taste, all the splendour which attended them disappeared.
The treaty of Utrecht, which might have irrecoverably crippled the resources of France, was attended with little humiliation. Though compelled to descend from that lofty eminence from which he oppressed or insulted all the nations of Europe, Lewis's fall had not been precipitate. Less powerful than formerly, he had still the consolation to think that there existed no potentate in the Christian republic more powerful than himself. But while saved from the precipice into which he was sinking, it is difficult to conceive a more miserable being than the haughty founder of Versailles. The untimely loss of those who, according to the common course of nature, should have propped and consoled his declining years, left a dreadful solitude around him. All his schemes of ambition were frustrated; from external objects he could derive no consolation, and all within was gloomy and cheerless.
The following passage is too descriptive of fallen greatness to be omitted. om
dévotion trop universelle à la cour pour n'être pas suspecte d'hypocrisie ; un faste consacré par habitude mais qui n'était plus animé par les plaisirs, ni par la gloire, et que la détresse des finances rendait pénible au monarque, insupportable à ses sujets; des craintes pressantes pour l'avenir, des projets vagues et incohérens, des controverses assez semblables à celles qui agitaient misérablement l'empire Grec; voilà tout ce qui restait du grand règne; mais Louis restait, et continuait d'imposer aux ames, qu'il avoit autrefois enivrées de ses triomphes. La tristesse se laissait voir partout, mais ne s'exprimait que par de faibles plaintes. On sentait que le temps des grandes choses était passé, mais on conservait de la vénération pour celui qui les avait long-temps dirigé.
::. La nation ne voyait rien qui lui promit du bonheur, mais chacun se proposait de ne point manquer les occasions de gaieté, qui pourraient s'offrir sous un nouveau règne.-;. 87.
If pleasure were the leading object of their wishes, they had an opportunity of gratifying them to the fullest extent during the licentious administration of the Duke of Orleans, the gayest and most profligate of mortals. No sooner bad Lewis closed his eyes, than the gloomy austerities of a Carthusian convent made way for the triumph of dissoluteness. Vice no longer deigned to wear a mask when it became a recommendation to favour. All the
of conversation suddenly disappeared, and were replaced by the voluptuous descriptions of libertinism, or the revolting intrepidity of
atheism. Such was the ardour of the courtiers in pursuit of pleasure, or such their eagerness to flatter the regent, that many persons of distinction who, during the late reign, had vied with each other in demonstrations of piety, now affected to take the lead in dissipation, and even boasted of vices to which from age and constitution they were little inclined.
The regent's suppers may fairly be termed academies for the corruption of the rising generation. With delight he beheld the hour arrive, when delivered from the toils of government and the ennui of a court, he could indulge, amid the society of his intimate friends, in every
sensual excess. Nocé, D'Ediat, Brancas, La Fare, Broglie, et beaucoup d'autres faisaient assaut de dissolution pour justifier cette odieuse et absurde denomination de roués, inventée par leur maître.' In these abominable orgies not only morality and decency were ostentatiously banished, but even religion was insulted with blasphemous mockery, as if licentiousness were a proof of good taste, and impiety the criterion of wit. The Dutchess of Berri, his favourite daughter, who was universally suspected of having poisoned her husband, and whose gallantries had rendered her conspicuous in a country wbere no ties were respected except those of inclination, frequently presided at these scandalous scenes, * in company with some of her father's numerous mistresses, a selection of prostitutes from the different theatres, the whole cohort of roués, together with a few men of inferior rank, whom the Duke of Orleans admired for their wit or courted for their profligacy.
The violent controversies between the Jesuits and Jansenists upon subjects too abstruse for buman comprebension, had produced an effect upon the public mind unfavourable to religion itsell; but it was reserved for the impiety of this dissolute prince to strip the highest ecclesiastical dignities of every thing digaified and imposing. A person of mean extraction, remarkable only for his vices, had been employed in correcting the regent's tasks, and by a servile complaisance for all his inclinations had acquired an ascendancy over his pupil, which he abused for the
purpose of currupting bis morals, debasing his character, and ultimately rendering bis administration an object of universal indignation. Soon after his patron's accession to power, Dubois, for whom no occupation was too infamous, no employment too servile, was admitted into the council of state. His figure is described as mean and contemptible, and the vices of his mind were so legibly imprinted upon his disgusting countenance, that it was impossible
* This princess has been frequently compared to Lucretia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI, and the parallel unfortunately holds good in every respeet.