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suspended rancour of Tiberius, (Tacit. Annal. i. 69,) for display in proper time and place. But this practice, which has in its favour the high recommendation of Lord Brougham, however useful to public speakers, as the loci communes were to the old rhetoricians, or introductory to a general literary subject, is wholly irreconcileable with the termination of a great work, retrospective in its purpose and contents to a foregone relation, which supplied its materials and formed its basis. Conclusions should not forestall premises; and to no mind or habit was so preposterous and illogical a proceeding less congenial than to Gibbon's.
We may, truly, yield implicit credence to Gibbon's assurance, that his disclaimer was not dictated by flattery; for the ill-fated Louis was then a prisoner in the Temple, whence he was shortly after led to execution; the advertence to the monarch's situation being obviously referable to that period. And we may, likewise, easily believe, that the similitude to the imperial incapacities of the successors of Theodosius rather embraced the junior or more southern branches of his race than Louis himself, or applied retrospectively to his predecessor Louis XV. and this ground of disavowal would have been quite plain and sufficient. Sympathy, however, for fallen greatness urged Gibbon to go further, and to prove, not only that the offence was not meditated, but that it was impossible in relation to Louis, who had not then ascended, and consequently could not have slumbered on the throne. With this view, he probably overlooked the opposing dates, and committed an error of memory-a μvημovíкov aμáρтημа—as Cicero (ad Atticum, xiv. 5) accuses himself of; for I do not arraign him, like Goldsmith, (Gentleman's Magazine for July 1837,) of fabrication, but oblivion. But if, in this respect, the advantage is on the side of Gibbon, he, on the other hand, is far, indeed, from possessing the clearness and simplicity of my countryman's style "liquidus, puroque similimus am
ni," (Hor. Epist. ii. 2,) as the ambiguity of this disavowal, which he substantially makes, while declaring that he will not do so, amply shews, and as it would be easy to illustrate by abundant quotations. Thus, in his Memoirs, p. 48, the love of antithesis betrays him into something bordering on a blunder, when he says, "I have never possessed or abused the insolence of health; "—but how he could abuse what he did not possess, is not very intelligible. The opening paragraph of his History presents, 1 observe, the same thought, but free in construction from the hibernian point involved in the former phrase. "Their (the subject nations) peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury; " and, in his Memoirs, p. 303, he repeats that he never knew "the madness of superfluous health.”
No English writer, at the same time, abounds with more pregnant evidence of the power and copiousness of our tongue-none more eloquent, more condensed or energetic in its use. He is peculiarly felicitous in his translations; for there, as has been said of the Italian interpreters of the classics, his imagination is coerced, without impairing the riches and command of his language. His occasional versions of Tacitus are admirable, as may be seen in chapter 9 of the "Decline and Fall;" and it would be difficult, indeed, to produce anything superior to his translation of Montesquieu's beautiful illustration of the power of religion"Un prince, qui aime la religion, et qui la craint, est un lion qui céde à la main qui le flatte, et à la voix qui l'appaise." (Esprit des Lois, liv. 24, ch. 2.) This passage, which forms part of a more extended parallel, has been applied by Gibbon (chapter 28) to Theodosius, bowed in submission to St. Ambrose's repulse, after the massacre of Thessalonica, and is thus exquisitely rendered. Prince who is actuated by the hopes and fears of religion may be compared to a lion, docile only to the voice and tractable to the hand of his keeper.'
*The Italians, and other nations of the South, have, for the reason I have indicated, excelled in translations, A polyglott and pictorial edition of Gray's Elegy has, I per
In truth, it may be asserted of Gibbon, as Johnson does of Pope's Homer, and encomium can scarcely proceed further, that there exists not a happy combination of words in the compass of the English tongue, none of which it is susceptible, that will not be found exemplified in the Decline and Fall. And, though habitually magniloquent and lofty, that he could unbend, as the occasion demanded, is sufficiently testified by the easy, playful, and familiar diction of his correspondence; while his superior command of the French language, in which his style is perspicuous, racy, and idiomatic, cannot be contested. Bolingbroke, Chesterfield, or Walpole can bear no comparison to him, nor indeed, any other Britishborn writer, with the exception of my countryman Hamilton, the author of Grammont, and one of the most graceful of the minor poets of his adopted country, where, however, he was educated from his childhood. And I feel warranted in stating that, had Gibbon
ceive, been recently published, comprising the French, Italian, German, Greek, and Latin versions, but deficient, to the regret of the editor, in the Spanish and Portugueze, which, it would appear, he could not discover. Both, however, exist, and I have now before me the latter, beginning
"Do lume o sino ao dia moribundo
Bate o sinal. Vai tarda a grey muginte:
A escuriadão e a mim deixando o mundo," &c.
Voltaire says somewhere,
"Peut-être qu'un Virgile, un Cicéron sauvage,
corresponding to Gray's fifteenth stanza-"Some village Hampden," &c. Which, it may be asked, of the two poets, English and French, is here the plagiarist?
The singular coincidence, and, in some degree, identity of the Portuguese and Latin has been often remarked, and will be manifest from the following hymn in honour of St. Ursula and companions, (See Butler's Saints, under 21 October,) every word of which is equally Latin and Portuguese.
"Canto tuas palmas, famosos canto triumphos;
Subjectas, sacra Nympha! feros animosa tyrannos,
Illustres, generosa, choros das Ursula! bellas
Das, Rosabella, rosas; fortes das, sancta, columnas !
Devotos cantando hymnos, vos invoco sanctas!
Per vos, innumeros de Christo spero favores.
*Of Cuvier, the first of modern naturalists, and whose lectures I have attended with delight, his universal fame has left little new to say; but of the great mathematician, a circumstance extraneous to his professed studies may not be unworthy of
cannot refrain from some observations suggested by Lord Brougham's recent second volume of Statesmen, where, at page 218, he maintains, that, save his Confessions, the citizen of Geneva wrote in inferior French. With all due respect for his lordship, I cannot hesitate to express my surprize at such an opinion, or to qualify it as one utterly unwarranted by any native authority, and hazardous, indeed, on the part of a foreigner, whose opportunities of acquiring a right to pronounce so depreciatory a judgment on, with the single exception of Voltaire, the most popular author in France, must have been very limited. No one can deplore, more than I do, Rousseau's abuse of his power of language; but his possession of it, in the highest degree and purest style, is undeniable. A few provincialisms may be traced, with some antiquated idioms from Montaigne and Amyot, which were the adoptions of his choice, as more infusive of strength, and surely not the indications of an inferior or exhausted vocabulary. And, when his lordship appeals to the Nouvelle Heloise, in support of his sentiments, he forgets that the personages of this romance are made to use the language suited to their position; for Rousseau anticipates the objection, in express 'Quiconque," says he, in the preface, "veut se résoudre à lire ces lettres, doit s'armer d'avance de patience sur les fautes de langue: il doit se dire que ceux qui les écrivent ne sont pas des François, des beaux esprits, des académiciens
des provinciaux, des étrangers.' He claims indulgence for simple, unsophisticated inhabitants of remote Switzerland, though the book still teems with passages of splendid eloquence. But has the learned Peer never read Rousseau's "Discours sur l'Inégalité des Conditions," with its unrivalled dedication; or "L'Emile ;" or again, "Le Devin du Village ;" all, in their kind, compositions which place him in the foremost rank of French writers, and forbid the pretension to superiority by any other? I might challenge the concurrent eulogies of almost every French critic, even of La Harpe, his bitter enemy, in disproof of Lord Brougham's undervaluing opinion; but it would be a superfluous appeal; and I need only add the pre-eminence attributed to Rousseau by Buffon-" ce que nous recommendons, Rousseau commande." And Buffon's own majestic style authorised him to pronounce decisively on the subject, which, singularly enough for a great naturalist, he chose for his discourse of admission into the French Academy, and to which he assigned such power as to make it the criterion of the human character-"Le style, c'est l'homme," was his definition. “Ἕκαστος δὲ κρίνει καλῶς ὁ γίνωσκει, (Aristot. Eth. Nic. 11-31,) I am emboldened, on such an occasion, to observe to his lordship, who well knows, "how dangerous a thing it is for the artist most expert in his own line to pronounce an opinion on matters beyond it." The text is in his lordship's Statesmen, first se
notice. M. Geoffroy de St. Hilaire, the colleague and successor of Cuvier, relates that La Grange was so disgusted with the cruel experiments on living animals, or vivasection, by Majendie and others, that he declared his resolution to absent himself from the academy during these operations. He contended, that physical truth could no more be discovered in the palpitating fibres and convulsed members of those tortured animals, than moral evidence could be elicited by the application of the rack to the human frame. Existing lusus naturæ presented already, as if prepared by nature, the required results, he thought, without such outrages on her more perfect creatures; and she thus might be interrogated from her own works with equal physiological effect. A few years since, at the request of my benevolent friend, the late Mr. Richard Martin of Galway, I addressed a letter to M. Majendie, in accord of feeling and argument with M. la Grange, and maintaining with him-" que les palpitations et contractions des chairs vivantes, ou se promène le fer scrutateur, n'ont pour effet que de fausser les résultats des expériences." Yet these atrocities are exercised under the banner and assume the badge of humanity, for the benefit, forsooth, of man, as his conscience was a field of torture for the Inquisition or Star Chamber; or, as liberty was outraged by the usurpation of her tutelary name during the massacres of revolutionary France, and is, at this day, insulted by the Lynch-law practices of the United States. "Kai Thu ἐιωθυῖαν ἀξίωσιν τὸν ὀνομάτων ἐς τα ἔργα ἀντήλλαξαν τέ δικαιώσει, (Thucyd.Γ.πβ.)
ries, page 404; and he can best tell where, as Junius (letter 25) expresses it, to look for the commentary.
Resuming my observations on Gibbon's French style, I have to add, that his long disuse of the language, while resident in England, did not impair his mastery of the idiom, as his "Mémoire Justificatif," or manifesto on the war with France, and his correspondence with his friend Deyverdun, demonstrate; and he was well warranted in maintaining, (Life, page 147,) that, after a long and laborious exercise of his own language, he was conscious that his French style had been ripened and matured. It was thus that the Jesuit Mariana wrote, with equal purity, in Latin and Spanish, the history of his country.
Gibbon passingly adverts to the few Englishmen who had attempted both languages, to whom Mr. Milman annexes the names of Mr. Beckford and Mr. Hope, whose Vathek and Anastasius were originally written in French; but I am always rather suspicious, I confess, of the potency and appliance of wealth in the acquirement of literary laurels. When, however, the Rev. Editor represents the translation of Hudibras by Mr. Townley as the most extraordinary effort of composition in a foreign language by an Englishman, I am bound to say, that he metes its value more by the difficulty than the merit of the performance. It never answered its purpose, for it was seldom read, and was little calculated to convey a competent impression of the original to our neighbours. (See Gentleman's Magazine for April 1838.) Mr. Townley, who died in 1782, had long served in the French Army. (Burke's Cómmoners, vol. ii. p. 265.) It was similarly that the proscribed Huguenots, under Louis XIV. adopted the language of the land that gave them refuge. "La patrie est aux lieux où l'âme est enchainée," and amongst them we may name Boyer, the author of the Dictionary-the Life of King William III. (which contains a fair narrative of the massacre of Glencoe,) &c. with Des Maiseaux, one of the compilers of the General Historical Dictionary, and many others: Psalmanazzar, though no Huguenot, was
a Frenchman by birth, who acquired the perfect use of our language; and, of more recent times, we have the Count de Noé, Peer of France, but educated, as the companion of his father's emigration, in England, and author of the History of the Expedition under Sir David Baird, to join our army in Egypt, in 1801. He speaks and writes the English, as I can from personal knowledge assert, with equal purity. I might add the Spaniard Trueba, and several more.
But great as, doubtless, was the command in composition of Gibbon over a foreign tongue, and it was not less so in colloquial use, the first intonation of his voice betrayed his alien accent, as I had an opportunity of witnessing in an accidental meeting at Schaffhausen in 1793, on his return to England under the terrors of the French Revolution. I was, indeed, rather surprised at the circumstance, as he had been removed to Lausanne at so early an age; but it has been remarked, that the English organs of speech are by no means so pliant, or prompt in appropriating the native pronounciation of other people, as the Irish. The late George the Fourth, however, was a signal exception; for he was perfectly undistinguishable from a Frenchman, as I have heard several French noblemen observe; one of whom related to me a little anecdote, which shewed the point and elegance of the Prince's expression in the language. Among the guests whom, on a particular occasion, he entertained at his table when Prince of Wales, was the emigrant archbishop of Narbonne, Dillon, of Irish origin, but little acquainted with our tongue. The late King William, then Duke of Clarence, was also there, and, regardless of the presence, as might be supposed in a blunt sailor, of the prelate, as well of the art which can veil and array in delicacy of form and decorum of words almost any topic of conversation, indulged in language unsuited, it would appear, to ecclesiastical ears, until gently checked by his royal elder. trop, mon frère, sur la surdité de M. l'archevêque," was the elegant and appropriate reproof, not unworthy, it must be allowed, of the first gentleman in Europe." The Count de Dur
fort, of the ducal house of Duras, from whom I heard this creditable fact, was wont to boast, that his family was the only foreign one, not of royal blood, that had furnished two companions to our Order of the Garter one almost contemporaneously with its institution, when Guienne belonged to England; and the other was the Earl of Faversham, the friend of James II, and commander of his army at the Revolution of 1688. Froissard makes honourable mention of the first; and the latter did not forget the gratitude due by himself and co-refugees to James, on their expulsion from France.* Of the almost faultless pronunciation in French of the Duke of Sussex, at least in former days, I can bear witness; for I heard him, in April 1791, when passing through Bordeaux on his way to Rome, address in brief, but terse and suitable words, a large company, whom he honoured with his presence at din
ner; and I had a similar opportunity the following day at the table of my neighbour, Mr. John Barton.† On both occasions, the affability of the royal youth, then not more than eighteen, made the most favourable impression; and the extent of his information was not less a source of pleasure and surprise. The promise was great, and the high anticipation has been fufilled.
“ Μοῦσαι γάρ ὅσσυς ἴδον ομματί παῖδες, ̔Αχρι βίον πολιοὺς ουκ ἀπέθεντο φίλους.”
Formerly Mr. Fox, I well recollect, was reputed one of our best French scholars and correct speakers; but Napoleon's representation by no means confirms that superiority; for, in reporting their conversation, during the short peace of Amiens in 1802, relative to the infernal machine, any participation in which by the English ministry Fox repelled with honourable indignation, Napoleon characterised his language as bad French.
* The family of Durfort presided at the assembly of the noblesse of the province of Guienne, when Charles, brother of Louis XI. took possession of it, as his appanage, in 1471. See "Chronique Bourdelois, par Gabriel de Lube," 1619, 4to. I find in that curious old Chronicle, p. 42 (recto), under date of 1571, a resolution of the commercial body of Bordeaux, anticipating, by two centuries, the glorious achievement of Granville Sharpe, and boast of Great Britain, that, to tread her soil was to be free. "Au mesme mois et an, il y a arrest donné, par lequel il est ordonné que tous les négres et mores qu'un marchand Normand avoit conduits en ceste ville pour vendre, seroyent mis en liberté : la France, mère de liberté, ne permet aucuns esclaves." the ensuing page and year succeeds the appalling paragraph, without comment, as a matter of course. "Le troisiéme Octobre (1572) le massacre des Huguenots se fait à Bourdeaus, estant le Seigneur de Montferrand gouverneur de Bourdelois, assisté de plusieurs estrangers.' The massacre had begun in Paris on the 23rd of August; so that it continued its fearful progression for several weeks. Fruitful, indeed, of reflection is the equiposition of these two paragraphs, so adverse in their source, and too true an index are they of human inconsistency, nor referable solely to the imperfect civilisation of that æra; for it is to be feared that even now the southern United States would perpetrate the massacre, rather than adopt the resolution of the Commercial Court of Bordeaux.
This gentleman married the niece of the justly celebrated Dr. Black, one of the originators of modern chemistry, and his daughter is the wife of my friend, Mr. David Johnston, now mayor of Bordeaux; who is likewise the kinsman, in the same degree, of the great chymist, being the son of Mrs. Barton's sister-a noble parentage, to which Mr. Johnston does credit, and of which Ireland may boast the origin. Dr. Black's father, and common ancestor of the estimable persons whom I have named, was honoured by the particular friendship of Montesquieu, as I have heard from Mrs. Barton, who related to me many little particulars of the great legist, which she had, when very young, opportunities of learning or witnessing at his Château de la Bréde, where I, too, had the happiness of not being unfavourably noticed by his excellent and amiable son, M. de Secondat, in my early youth. The château has, I find, been very recently purchased by the Duke of Orleans at the price of 80,000 francs, or 3,2001. and the possession is honourable to the heir of the French monarchy. Dr. Black was a native of Bordeaux; and his services in the promotion of general science are justly appreciated by M. Arago, also a native of the south, in his "Eloge Historique de James Watts," whom he cheered and seconded in the process of his memorable discovery.
GENT. MAG. VOL. XII.