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have the 9ky for their roof, earth for their carpet, war for their business, and the chase for their food and pastimes. ! We believe that we are indebted to Mr. Upham for the next tale on our list: it is a brief, but elaborate picture of Arabic manners. Karmath was the founder of a numerous and powerful sect of Ismaelites, in Arabia. A spirit of revenge, and the impulse of ambition, drove him to rebel against the Caliphate, during the prosperous and happy reign of Harun-Al-Raschid. The reformer possessed all the abilities, conduct and address, necessary to gain and keep command. But the genuine cause of the astonishing ascendancy which he held over his followers, was his reputed perfection in ,the mysteries of the occult arts. All the secret practisers of magic, with which Arabia abounded, and whom it was the policy of the government to endeavour to destroy by fire and sword, gathered from all quarters to the standard of Karmath: they made the dark forest and the inaccessible mountain their home, whence they issued only to murder and lay waste. The details of the slow, but skilful plan, by which that adventurer raised himself to empire, form the materials of the present narrative. But, to our apprehension, they are disfigured and lost in the homely garb of prose.
The character of Karmath, half sorcerer, half demagogue; the supernatural agency, which is the great mover of the events here received; the very scenery, amidst which they appear to run their course, constitute together a description of subject, which can only be seen with pleasure, when it is presented to us half concealed, or thinly disguised and set off, by the raiment with which poetry can artfully clothe it. In its present shape the tale is altogether too profound, if not complicated, for the purposes of general entertainment.
The style is affectedly formal, with the view perhaps of making it consistent with the character of the subject—but the effect is, to obscure the meaning in particular passages, and to throw over the whole course of the narrative a mystical air, by which it is not a little confused. Magic being one of the governing principles of the story, details of its operations form no inconsiderable portion of the volume. The principal personage also, is forced to give way too long, and too often, to a subordinate agent, with whom we feel no corresponding disposition to protract our communion. The great fault of the work indeed, appears to us to be a total want of those elements of sympathy and interest, to which we, with our European habits and notions, would be ready to respond.
But the reader, who is curious about oriental story, and desires to be better acquainted than historians will enable him, generally speaking, to be, with the fortunes of one of the most extraordinary people that ever existed, will find in this little volume much more than is sufficient to repay him for the trouble of perusing it. It is evidently the production of an enthusiast in Eastern lore—of one, who has subdued the powers of a vigorous mind, and a fancy of no ordinary reach, we think, too tamely to the guidance of a reigning passion. 2 F 2
Our notice of' The Busy-Bodies' must be short, and not very favourable. It is, in our opinion, unworthy the various abilities displayed in the "Odd Volume." It is deficient in the degree of invention, the discrimination of character, the genuine humour, and that general sustaining power, which marked the latter production. The chief incidents of this work scarcely rise superior to some of the most common accidents of daily life; they exhibit nothing that is calculated to touch the passions, to excite interest or gratify curiosity. The scene is laid in Scotland—not indeed in the midst of its "brown heaths," or "shaggy woods," or in the halls of its ancient castles;—for aught of advantage that is taken of national and local associations, the authors might as well have chosen for the theatre of their labours, the spot of the empire which was most barren of recollections. The history, personal and collective, of the members of a Scotch baronet's family, supplies whatever of plot and business may be discovered in this novel. Two young ladies, the one a daughter, the other a niece to the baronet, contend for the dignity of heroine. The latter is mild, unobtrusive and virtuous: the daughter is distinguished from her cousin bv an opposite set of qualities. Her brother, a common-place person,' becomes the husband of an English lady, whose dislike of every thing Scotch directs all the acts, and almost every expression, of her life.
In the concerns—the foibles and the merits—the feelings and conduct of personages, such as these are, it is that we are invited to take an interest. The course which they pursue, the accidents which befal them, are of a stamp as common-place as themselves. The annals of a boarding-house, in any of the frequented towns upon our coasts, would yield matter for a history of far superior importance and attraction. We cannot believe that genteel society in Scotland is so degenerate, as to be faithfully represented in a work consisting of a succession of scenes, in which the incessant bickering of relations, and the ill-breeding of ladies of respectable rank, form some of the most prominent features.
This novel is evidently intended as a satire on a certain class of society in Scotland; and, unless the extravagance of the caricature becomes, as in all probability it will, a complete antidote to its influence, the work, if it be read at all, will have the effect of depressing the character of Scotch domestic society in the general opinion.
Art. XIII. Histoire de la Fronde. Par M. le Comte de Sainte-Aulaire. 3 vols. 8vo. Paris. 1827.
The levity and inconstancy of the French national character were never more conspicuously displayed, than during the civil troubles which attended the minority of Louis XIV. The impotent efforts of faction to remove an unpopular minister, the paltry intrigues of a corrupt and feeble government, the pride and vanity of a few
princes of the blood, and the restless machinations of others, were each causes, sufficiently powerful in their turn, to plunge a whole kingdom into bloodshed and anarchy. That an air of the ridiculous might not be wanting, to throw a mockery over the worst horrors of civil war, the frivolities of love were also mingled with the graver business of treachery and sedition; women were the real leaders and most active instruments of party; and political cabals were formed and broken, with the same facility as the amours upon which they were regulated. The heartless intercourse of dissolute pleasure was pursued amidst the unbridled license of rapine and slaughter; jests were broken, and throats cut, with the same easy gaiety; and sobriquets and murders, alternately marked the revolutions of popular feeling. Nick-names, epigrams, and witticisms, were, indeed, among the favourite weapons of the times: weapons often more popular than the arms of Turenne and Cond6, who figured, little to their mutual honour, on the scene, as if it were necessary for the completion of this extraordinary picture of national burlesque, that the great masters of the art of war should be the rival heroes of the undignified contest. The objects for which the opposite parties contended, were often scarcely known to themselves. The civil war ended and commenced anew several times; nor was there a single person of distinction engaged in it, who did not repeatedly change his faction. In the midst of the public disorder, the French nobility called an assembly of their body, chose a committee of management, and held many sittings. It might be imagined, that the purpose of these formal proceedings was to reform the abuses of the state, to obtain the convocation of the disused states-general, and to settle the distraction of the monarchy: it was only to protest against the assignment of the tabouret, or privilege of being seated on a stool in the royal presence, to a lady to whom, without a sufficient title, the queenregent had imprudently granted that marvellous distinction! "Peut 6tre n'y a-t-il jamais," says Voltaire, very justly, "eu une preuve plus sensible de la legerete' d'esprit qu on reprochait aux Francois."
The history of these discords and wars of the Fronde, has usually been written in a strain as volatile and reckless as the spirit in which its events were provoked. To the eye of sound philosophy, or generous patriotism, the spectacle of a vain contest, which was conducted in wantonness and caprice, and ended in rivetting the yoke of a despotism to the necks of successive generations, should excite only the graver emotions of compassion, contempt, or indignation. But to a true Frenchman, of the old school at least, life itself passed but for a jest; and a jest more or less brilliant and pleasant, according to the measure of the absurd and extravagant which should chance to be infused into it. The original story of the Fronde is to be found, as all the world knows, in the contemporary narratives of some of the actors; and the epigrammatic causticity of De Retz, or the feminine sallies of Madame de Motteville, and the Duchess of Montpensier, have served to heighten the ridicule of the particular vices and follies which they celebrate. The genuine impulses of French national temperament, are there exhibited alike in the subjects and manner of their treatment; the beau ideal of memoir writing is to be found in those lively records of factious chicanery and amorous intrigue.
Such pictures of society were materials congenial to the mordacious and heartless humour of Voltaire; and he has painted the wars of the Fronde in all that spirit of contemptuous and satirical levity, which was never so much delighted as in exhibiting the foibles and baseness of his species. Keeping out of view the fact, that some principles of regard for the public weal were mixed up with the irregular opposition of the parliament of Paris to the court, he has represented the whole struggle as no more than one great farcical drama. Habituated to view with complacency the splendid tyranny of Louis XIV., and incapable of generous sympathy with the cause of public freedom, he has neither found any thing to applaud in the resistance of the national magistracy to absolute power, nor any thing to lament in the insolent despotism which finally extinguished the very breath of remonstrance. He has exposed all the absurdities which attended these civil commotions, much more sedulously than he has explained the serious points of dissention: he has passed lightly over the conduct and motives of parties, but has carefully accumulated all the good sayings and witticisms of the period.
In place of all the sarcastic levity which belongs to Voltaire's sketch of the subject, the volumes before us are composed in a widely different, and certainly, in a far worthier spirit. M. de SainteAulaire has endeavoured to trace, in the history of the Fronde, higher and more consistent motives of action than former writers have succeeding in discovering. He has set out with the conviction, that 'the troubles in the minority of Louis XIV. were not devoid of analogy with those which have agitated France in this age; and that in the chartered institutions which were bestowed upon his countrymen in 1814, may be recognised those for which their forefathers struggled in 1648.' He claims for the magistracy and the commons of that epoch, the honour of having made both enlightened and courageous efforts to reconcile the liberties of the nation with the rights of the throne; and he accounts for their failure, by the ordinary transition of civil contests into that despotism, which is the sure and invariable punishment of anarchy.
We are certainly ourselves very far from admitting altogether the justice of these views, though they are not without a considerable portion of truth. M. de Sainte-Aulaire, in eager desire of vindicating his nation from the long reproach of an unresisting submission to despotism, has here been carried beyond the conclusions which .historical evidence can possibly justify. Still less is there any reason or foundation for his extraordinary boast (Preface, p. viii.) that 'Frenchmen have been free for fourteen hundred years.' But we scarcely know how to censure an error, which has its origin in an elevated and laudable spirit of patriotism. For even this error is not one of the least curious and gratifying signs of the novel influence of free institutions, upon the national mind of his country; and the attempt to discover some prescriptive claim to constitutional rights, at least marks the price which is set upon the imaginary inheritance. But the fact is, that the French people,—the mass of the French population,—can scarcely be said, in any age of the monarchy until the present, to have possessed the slightest constitutional rights. The feudal system, so rigorously established in that kingdom, had, even as early as the beginning of the tenth century, and before the accession of the Capetian race to the crown, placed the whole class of the roturiers in subjection and servitude to the aristocracy; the successive lapse of all the great fiefs to the crown, next broke the power of the feudal nobility; and thus was the whole kingdom finally laid prostrate before the royal authority. The absence of all those fortunate accidents, by which the foundations of our own glorious constitution were securely and slowly planted, left, in France, no sufficient impediments to the consolidation of an absolute monarchy; and before the close of the fifteenth century, when Louis XI. levied taxes by the mere force of royal edicts, and without the consent of the states-general, the whole of the legislative, judicial and financial power of the state, had silently merged into the despotic sovereignty of the crown. The nobility and clergy had still, it is true, been permitted to preserve their feudal and ecclesiastical immunities and privileges, by sufferance and by custom ; but the commons were totally destitute, either of prescriptive or chartered rights. Their property, their persons, and their lives, were at the mercy, so far as the want of all constitutional provisions could leave them, of the simple enactments of the royal will; nor was there a single recognised check upon the universal prerogative of the crown, which might shield the roturier from the oppression, or vindictive displeasure, of the king's government. The 'freedom of Frenchmen during fourteen centuries,' is, therefore, at best, but an idle and unfounded boast. Even the fundamental principle of our Great Charter, which guarded the personal liberty of all men, was unrecognised in the law courts of France: the nobleman himself had properly no legal security against the incroachments or the vengeance of royal tyranny; no protection except in his sword, no charter or bond but in conspiracy and insurrection; the roturier was still more hopelessly and helplessly subject, at the pleasure of the crown, alike to arbitrary imprisonment and arbitrary spoliation.
So far then, as M. de Sainte-Aulaire's assertions would seem to imply the possibility of deducing the regular and uninterrupted transmission of any constitutional rights, from the earlier ages of the French monarchy, to the epoch of the Fronde, no pretension could possibly be more futile and unwarranted. Nor has he sue