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Any other person than General Gourgaud would have remarked that the author does not speak of the country beyond Moscow. That is a territory which the Grand Army did not
Segur says that when Marshal Bessieres on one occasion told the Emperor that a certain position was unassailable he violently, and clasping his hands,' exclaimed, "Heavens! are you sure you are right? Is it really so? Can you answer for it?" Even this trifling incident Gourgaud affects to doubt. He remarks: That theatrical grief, those clasped hands appealing to Heaven, form a striking contrast with the real character of Napoleon. The author departs,' he adds, ⚫ more particularly in this place, from the rule prescribed to historians as well as to poets, of making their personages act and speak according to their received character.'
Would the reader credit that after such observations, in which it is peremptorily denied that violence of passion was a trait in the temper of Napoleon, he might peruse the following from the pen of General Gourgaud himself?
Marshal Lefebvre announced to him (Napoleon) that some Polish officers had just arrived in the town, and had applied for assistance on the part of Marshal Ney, who was at a few leagues' distance. The Emperor immediately rose, and seizing the officer by both arms ejaculated, with the liveliest emotion, "Is that really true? Are you sure of it?" The officer having assured him that he was certain of the fact, his Majesty exclaimed, "I have two hundred millions in my cellars at the Tuileries, and I would have given them all to ensure Ney's safety."'
Had Count de Segur been the relater of this anecdote there can be little doubt but that his acrimonious critic would have pronounced it a poetical fiction. It is notorious that Napoleon was subject to sudden bursts of passion, of joy as well as anger but probably it was presumption in the "Maréchaldes-logis" to allude to them. It was a trait in the Emperor's character which his "Principal Orderly Officer" alone was competent to portray.
Gourgaud's work consists chiefly of objections such as these, and the most important of which are supported by the ipse dixit of the writer alone. The excitation which the work has produced in Paris is not surprizing: but, upon the whole, it contains very little to invalidate the testimony of M. de Segur, or detract from his merit as an able and accomplished writer.
ART. XIV. Absenteeism. By Lady Morgan. Post 8vo. 5s. 6d. pp. 160. Colburn. 1825.
hope we shall not be set down among Lady Morgan's detractors, if we presume to say of this brochure that it is by no means worthy of her pen. With the exception of some half-dozen pages towards the conclusion, the work is any thing but what it professes to be, an essay on the evils of Absenteeism. The phrase "absentee," says Dr. Johnson, "is used with regard to Irishmen living out of their country," and accordingly Lady Morgan thinks that she is bound to class under this definition every Hibernian of note, who has ever left his native shores, willingly or unwillingly, though but for a single day. She begins with the famous Dermot Mac Murrogh O'Kavenagh, King of Leinster, who pillaged his people, wasted his revenue, ran away with his neighbour's wife, and sold his country for a mess of pottage. This illustrious sovereign, according to her Ladyship, won the title of the Founder of Absenteeism,' by taking a trip to Bristol in order to engage the famous Strongbow to assist him in recovering his kingdom, from which he happened to be expelled. With submission it may be observed, that her Ladyship ought to have conferred the title of Founder' on the Prince of Breffny, whose absenteeism' was the cause of that which happened to Dermot. For if his Highness had not though fit to make an excursion from home, leaving his Princess perfectly secure, as he supposed, in an island surrounded by a bog,' Dermot never would have succeeded in carrying her off, and never would have been an absentee.' The great Earl of Kildare is the next of this amphibious class, for he, it seems, was called over to England by Henry VII. for a few months.' His son succeeded not only to his rank, but his absenteeism;' for Henry VIII., being overtaken with vehement suspicion of sundry treasons,' thought it politic to draw him away from Ireland. This nobleman was the father of the more than celestial Geraldine,' and Lady Morgan takes occasion from this circumstance to deviate, by way of episode, into the history of the Earl of Surrey's romantic passion for that celebrated beauty. This is not sufficient. Upwards of twenty pages are devoted to the history of Kildare's sufferings in this country, and to his 'mock trial;' circumstances which are, no doubt, closely connected with the subject of absenteeism.' The wild and ridiculous tradition concerning O'Rourke, Prince of Breffny, was too tempting to be passed over. He, it is said, was invited over by the "virgin Queen" on account of his manly beauty, and was ranked among her secret favorites.' He,
however, imprudently disclosed his good fortune, and was assassinated!, Unfortunately for this romance the public execution of O'Rourke is matter of record. Thus it is that Lady Morgan ingeniously contrives to treat of every thing, but the subject on which we expected to find some information in her book. Seeing the course which her fancy led her, we were rather surprized that she did not introduce the stories of the "Irish rogues and rapparees," who occasionally exhibited the effects of absenteeism' on the coasts of England and Scotland. It was also a serious omission to pass over those industrious ladies and gentlemen, whom the government has been in the habit of occasionally inviting' as 'absentees' to New South Wales.
If Lady Morgan's facts be in general unconnected with the real evils of 'absenteeism,' her reflections are still more so. It is impossible to doubt that she loves her country, but she certainly does not serve its interest by her writings. She is too prone to attack men rather than systems; to encourage discord rather than conciliation; and she often betrays symptoms of an irritable disposition, which, to say the least of it, is not very graceful. Her invective against the licentious presses of the day is natural enough, considering that her publications have passed through a severe ordeal of criticism, over which a spirit of unmanly persecution not unfrequently presided. Nevertheless, the language of reproach seems to be the last which a woman ought to use; and to take upon herself the task of public censor, is only to invite fresh insults.
It is stated in a note, as if it had no appropriate place in the text, that 350,000l. are at this day taken annually from the county of Kilkenny alone, by absentees.' In 1779, Arthur Young, in an appendix to his Tour in Ireland, compiled a list of absentees,' whose receipts from that kingdom amounted to 732,000l. annually. We have before us a later account printed in 1782, and which makes the total amount of income, drawn annually by absentees' from Ireland, amount to nearly two millions! This amount must have increased in a formidable proportion since the Union. The real malady of absenteeism' was not felt in Ireland until that measure made it a part of the law of the land, by rendering it necessary for the principal persons among the Irish nobility and gentry, to spend the greater portion of every year in London in attendance on their parliamentary duties. London has in consequence become the metropolis of Ireland, and Dublin has been degraded into a provincial city. The evil of all this is, that though absenteeism' is not only justifiable but in
evitable on the part of most of those who are involved in it, nothing can prevent it from exhausting the resources of Ireland, so long as her vital interests are rooted to the soil. Nothing but the spread of manufactures and an abundant commerce can ever produce permanent wealth in that country, and to this result the Union with England is unquestionably destined to lead. Lady Morgan seems to coincide with Mr. Ensor in deprecating the Union, and praying for its dissolution. This is great folly. If the question of incorporating the two legislatures were at this day to be agitated for the first time, it may be doubted whether, under all the circumstances, such a measure would be advisable. But now that a quarter of a century has ratified the connection; that new interests have sprung up inseparable from its continuance; that its disastrous effects are yielding day by day before the benefits which it is preparing for Ireland; it would be madness to think of plunging her into a new career, doubtful in its prospects at best, and divested of the support of England. On the other hand, not less is the folly of those legislators and ministers, who imagine that manufactures will repair to the interior, and commerce visit the harbours, of Ireland, until that unequal system of laws which at present deranges her whole social system shall be completely removed.
The following observations are pertinent and sensible. We regret that they form the only passages in the work worth extracting.
In England at the present day, if all the landed proprietors were to export themselves to the Continent, and to spend their rents in its various capitals, their absence would scarcely be felt, amidst the multiplied resources of commercial activity. Whereever the lord of the soil abandoned his dwelling, an East India nabob, a money-broker, or a merchant, would stand forth ready to occupy his station, and rule over his domains; and the sums expended abroad would rapidly find their way home, in increased demands for the products of English industry. On the other hand, the nouveaux riches, divested of hereditary pretensions and feudal prejudices, and more deeply instructed in the true principles of political economy, would afford less opposition to the reception and diffusion of the lessons of experience; and would therefore be the more acceptable to the labouring classes, than those who, trammelled in the prejudices of hereditary consequence, obstinately stand still in knowledge, while all around them is moving in advance. In Ireland, however, it has always been otherwise. Land has been ever the only instrument of industry, and rent the only source of accumulated capital. The landed proprietors, together with their immediate dependants, the members of the learned professions, have long formed exclusively the educated classes; and their expenditure has produced the only stimulus
which existed, to excite the petty commerce and circumscribed industry, which in the country towns of Ireland support half-adozen shopkeepers; who, dignified with the name of merchants, fill the municipal offices and send representatives to Parliament. When, therefore, these favourites of fortune, the landed proprietors, expatriate themselves, their mansions are left silent and desolate; and none remains behind to employ the tenantry, to spread illumination, or to distribute justice, but agents, middle men, and the clergy, whose ex parte notions of right and wrong, whose different creed and opposed pecuniary interests wholly unfit them for the civil duties which are thus devolved upon them.
With such reasons for the unpopularity of absenteeism, the interests of government in the prevalence of such a prejudice strongly conspire. When the wretched condition of the country is made matter of general declamation, the minister calls for specific abuses; and when a specific abuse is dragged to daylight, and remedies are loudly demanded, absenteeism is made a ready skreen to conceal the incapacity or unwillingness to redress of the governing faction. Tithe abuses are met by the charge of excessive rents and absentee consumption; corruption of the magistracy is defended by the absence of independent justices of the peace; and whatever is the evil to be averted, whatever the malpractice to be reformed, the absentees are the ready scapegoats for every delinquent, and the plausible pretext for every forbearance.
Absenteeship, however, always founded in bad government, becomes ruinous only as it co-operates with other and mightier evils proceeding from the same cause. In a well-ordered community the number and influence of those who eat the bread of idleness, and enjoy the means of expatriation, can never bear an overwhelming proportion to that of the industrious citizens chained down to a spot by the habits and the necessities of their laborious lives. Wherever this relative proportion is materially deranged, there will be found much to alter in existing institutions. In such a condition of things, a restraining tax is as futile as it is unjust. Government exists but to protect property; and any law which restrains the owner's right of spending his money where he pleases, operates a violence, which the most urgent necessity alone could justify. On the other hand, to expect that a pecuniary mulct, of any amount short of an absolute seizure of the entire rental, would keep those at home, whom a sense of injustice, of insecurity, and of the absence of educated and liberal intercourse (of all that makes life endurable and wealth enjoyable), drives into exile, is to be utterly ignorant of human nature, and of the habits and feelings of the aristocratical part of the community.'
ART. XV. The Arabs; a Tale: in Four Cantos. By Henry Austen Driver. 8vo. pp. 99. Longman and Co. 1825. ASTERN tales are dangerous themes for young poets. They have, in themselves, a tendency to heat the glowing mind of inexperienced essayists beyond a due temperature. Mr.