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been sickly, like any body else, had I not re- , other trammels, those which had circumscribDet solved to vanquish all physical weaknesses." ed the liberty of thinking in that great coun
But Nature would not be defied !--- and she try. The genius of Madame de Staël co-ope2. lied, while contemplating still greater under- rated, no doubt, with the spirit of the times,
akings than any she had achieved. On her and assisted its effects—but it was also acted zick-bed, none of her great or good qualities upon, and in part created, by that spirit-and > abandoned her. To the last she was kind, her works are rather, perhaps, to be considerpatient, devout, and intellectual. Among other ed as the first fruits of a new order of things, things, she said—“ J'ai toujours été la même that had already struck root in Europe, than -vive et triste.—J'ai aimé Dieu, mon père, as the harbinger of changes that still remain et la liberté !” She left life with regret-but to be effected.* felt no weak terrors at the approach of death In looking back to what she has said, with and died at last in the utmost composure so much emphasis of the injustice she had to and tranquillity.
suffer from Napoleon, it is impossible not to We would rather not make any summary be struck with the aggravation which that inat present of the true character and probable justice is made to receive from the quality effects of her writings. But we must say, of the victim, and the degree in which those we are not quite satisfied with that of her sufferings are exaggerated, because they were biographer. It is too flattering, and too elo- her own. We think the hostility of that great quent and ingenious. She is quite right in commander towards a person of her sex, charextolling the great fertility of thought which acter, and talents, was in the highest degree characterises the writings of her friends ;- paltry, and unworthy even of a high-minded and, with relation to some of these writings, tyrant. But we really cannot say that it seems she is not perhaps very far wrong in saying to have had any thing very savage or ferocious that, if any
in them at in the manner of it. He did not touch, nor random, the chance is, that you meet with even menace her life, nor her liberty, nor her more new and striking thoughts than in an fortune. No daggers, nor chains, nor dungeons, equal space in any other author. But we nor confiscations, are among the instruments cannot at all agree with her, when, in a very of torture of this worse than Russian despot. imposing passage, she endeavours to show that He banished her, indeed, first from Paris, and she ought to be considered as the foundress then from France; suppressed her publicaof a new school of literature and philosophy tions; separated her from some of her friends; —or at least as the first who clearly revealed and obstructed her passage into England ;to the world that a new and a grander era was very vexatious treatment certainly,—but not now opening to their gaze.
quite of the sort which we should have guessed In so far as regards France, and those coun- at, from the tone either of her complaints or tries which derive their literature from her lamentations. Her main grief undoubtedly fountains, there may be some foundation for was the loss of the society and brilliant talk this remark; but we cannot admit it as at all of Paris; and if that had been spared to her, applicable to the other parts of Europe ; which we cannot help thinking that she would have have always drawn their wisdom, wit, and felt less horror and detestation at the inroads fancy, from native sources. The truth is, that of Bonaparte on the liberty and independence previous to her Revolution, there was no civil- of mankind. She avows this indeed pretty ised country where there' had been so little honestly, where she says, that, if she had been originality for fifty years as in France. In aware of the privations of this sort which a Literature, their standards had been fixed certain liberal speech of M. Constant was nearly a century before: and to alter, or even ultimately to bring upon herself, she would to advance them, was reckoned equally im- have taken care that it should not have been pious and impossible. In politics, they were spoken! The truth is, that, like many other restrained, by the state of their government, celebrated persons of her country, she could from any free or bold speculations; and in not live happily without the excitements and metaphysics, and all the branches of the novelties that Paris alone could supply; and higher philosophy that depend on it
, they had that, when these were withdrawn, all the vi. done nothing since the days of Pascal and vacity of her genius, and all the warmth of Descartes. In England, however, and in her heart, proved insufficient to protect her Germany, the national intellect had not been from the benumbing influence of ennui. Here thus stagnated and subdued—and a great deal are her own confessions on the record :of what startled the Parisians by its novelty, in the writings of Madame de Staël
, had long Montaigne a dit jadis : Je suis François par Paris;
“ J'étois vulnérable par mon goût pour la société. been familiar to the thinkers of these two et s'il pensoit ainsi, il y a trois siècles, que seroii-ce countries. Some of it she confessedly borrowed depuis que l'on a vu réunies tant de personnes from those neighbouring sources; and some d'esprit dans une même ville, et tant de personnes she undoubtedly invented over again for her- accoutumées à se servir de cet esprit pour les plaisirs self. In both departments, however, it would de la conversation ? Le fantôme de l'ennui m'a be erroneous, we think, to ascribe the greater
toujours poursuivie ! C'est par la terreur qu'il me part of this improvement to the talents of this extraordinary woman. The Revolution had
* A great deal of citation and remark, relating
chiefly to the character and conduct of Bonaparte, thrown down, among other things, the barriers and especially 10 his persecution of the fair author, by which literary enterprise had been so long is here omitted-she object of this reprint being restrained in France and broken, among / solely to illustrate her Personal character.
cause que j'aurois été capable de plier devant la, tion; and that nothing but a little perseverano tyraunie-sí l'exemple de mon père, et son sang qui is required to restore the plastic frame of our coule dans mes veines, ne l'emportoient pas sur cette foiblesse."-Vol. iü. p. 8.
nature, to its natural appetite and relish to
the new pleasures and occupations that may We think this rather a curious trait, and not yet await it, beyond the precincts of Pans c. very easily explained. We can quite well London. We remember a signal testimony understand how the feeble and passive spirits to this effect, in one of the later publications who have been accustomed to the stir and we think of Volney, the celebrated traveller variety of a town life, and have had their in- —who describes, in a very amusing way, the anity supplied by the superabundant intellect misery he suffered when he first changed 18and gaiety that overflows in these great re- society of Paris for that of Syria and Egyp: positories, should feel helpless and wretched and the recurrence of the same misery w her. when these extrinsic supports are withdrawn: after years of absence, he was again restore: But why the active and energetic members to the importunate bustle and idle chatter oi of those vast assemblages, who draw their Paris, from the tranquil taciturnity of his was. resources from within, and enliven not only like Mussulmans!-his second access of hunte themselves, but the inert mass around them, sickness, when he left Paris for the Unitec by the radiation of their genius, should suffer States of America, -and the discomfort be in a similar way, it certainly is not so easy to experienced, for the fourth time, when, after comprehend. În France, however, the people being reconciled to the free and substantia. of the most wit and vivacity seem to have talk of these stout republicans, he finally realways been the most subject to ennui. The turned to the amiable trifling of his own faletters of Mad. du Deffand, we remember, are mous metropolis. full of complaints of it; and those of De Bussy It is an affliction, certainly, to be at the end also. It is but a humiliating view of our frail of the works of such a writer-and to thick human nature, if the most exquisite arrange that she was cut off at a period when her enments for social enjoyment should be found larged experience and matured talents were thus inevitably to generate a distaste for what likely to be exerted with the greatest utility: is ordinarily within our reach; and the habit and the state of the world was such as to hold of a little elegant amusement, not coming very out the fairest prospect of their not being erclose either to our hearts or understandings, erted in vain. " It is a consolation, however, should render all the other parts of life, with that she has done so much ;-And her works its duties, affections, and achievements, dis- will remain not only as a brilliant memorial tasteful and burdensome. We are inclined, of her own unrivalled genius, but as a proof however, we confess, both to question the that sound and comprehensive views were perfection of the arrangements and the system entertained, kind affections cultivated, and of amusement that led to such results; and elegant pursuits followed out, through a period also to doubt of the permanency of the dis- which posterity may be apt to regard as one comfort that may arise on its first disturbance. of universal delirium and crime ;-that the We are persuaded, in short, that at least as principles of genuine freedom, taste, and momuch enjoyment may be obtained, with less rality, were not altogether extinct, even under of the extreme variety, and less of the over- the reign of terror and violence—and that one excitement which belongs to the life of Paris, who lived through the whole of that agitating and is the immediate cause of the depression scene, was the first luminously to explain, and that follows their cessation; and also, that, in temperately and powerfully to impress the minds of any considerable strength and re- great moral and political Lessons, which it source, this depression will be of no long dura- I should have taught to mankind.
(October, 1835.) Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Sir James Mackintosh. Edited by his Son,
ROBERT JAMES Mackintosh, Esq. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1835.* There cannot be, we think, a more delight- , attraction of the Character it brings so pleasful book than this: whether we consider the ingly before us—or the infinite variety of ori
* This was my last considerable contribution to that memory. At all events, if it was an improthe Edinburgh Review; and, indeed, (with the ex. priety, it was one for which I cannot now submit to ception of a slight notice of Mr. Wilberforce's Me- 'seek the shelter of concealment : And therefore I moirs,) the only thing I wrote for ii, after my ad here reprint the greater part of it: and think I can. vancement to ihe place I now hold. If there was not berier conclude the present collection, than with any impropriety in my so contributing at all, some This tribute to the meriis of one of the most distiopalliation I hope may be found in the nature of the guished of my Assoeiates in the work out of which feelings by which I was led to it, and the tenor of it has been gathered. what these feelings prompted me to say: I wrote A considerable part of the original is omitted in it solely out of affection to the memory of the friend this publication; but consisting almost entirely in I had lost; and I think I said nothing which was citations from the book reviewed, and incidental renot dictated by a desire to vindicate and to honour | marks on these citations.
ginal thoughts and fine observations with, of Diaries and journals-autobiographers who, which it abounds. As a mere narrative there without having themselves done any thing is not so much to be said for it. There are memorable, have yet had the good luck to live but few incidents; and the account which we through long and interesting periods; and have of them is neither very luminous nor who, in chronicling the events of their own very complete. If it be true, therefore, that unimportant lives, have incidentally preservthe only legitimate business of biography is ed invaluable memorials of contemporary with incidents and narrative, it will not be manners and events. The Memoirs of Eveeasy to deny that there is something amiss, lyn and Pepys are the most obvious instances either in the title or the substance of this of works which derive their chief value from work. But we are humbly of opinion that there this source; and which are read, not for any is no good ground for so severe a limitation. great interest we take in the fortunes of the
Biographies, it appears to us, are naturally writers, but for the sake of the anecdotes and of three kinds--and please or instruct us in at notices of far more important personages and least as many different ways. One sort seeks transactions with which they so lavishly preto interest us by an account of what the indi- sent us; and there are many others, written vidual in question actually did or suffered in with far inferior talent, and where the design his own person : another by an account of is more palpably egotistical, which are perused what he saw done or suffered by others; and with an eager curiosity, on the strength of the a third by an account of what he himself same recommendation. thought, judged, or imagined—for these too, The last class is for Philosophers and men we apprehend, are acts of a rational being of Genius and speculation-men, in short, who and acts frequently quite as memorable, and were, or ought to have been, Authors; and as fruitful of consequences, as any others he whose biographies are truly to be regarded can either witness or perform.
either as supplements to the works they have Different readers will put a different value given to the world, or substitutes for those on each of these sorts of biography. But at which they might have given. These are all events they will be in no danger of con- histories, not of men, but of Minds; and their founding them. The character and position value must of course depend on the reach and of the individual will generally settle, with capacity of the mind they serve to develope, sufficient precision, to which class his me- and in the relative magnitude of their contrimoirs should be referred ; and no man of com- butions to its history. When the individual mon sense will expect to meet in one with the has already poured himself out in a long series kind of interest which properly belongs to of publications, on which all the moods and another. To complain that the life of a war- aspects of his mind have been engraven (as in rior is but barren in literary speculations, or the cases of Voltaire or Sir Walter Scott), there that of a man of letters in surprising personal may be less occasion for such a biographical adventures, is about as reasonable as it would supplement. But when an author (as in the be to complain that a song is not a sermon, or case of Gray) has been more chary in his comthat there is but little pathos is a treatise on munications with the public, and it is yet posgeometry.
sible to recover the precious, though immaThe first class, in its higher or public de- ture, fruits of his genius or his studies,partment, should deal chiefly with the lives of thoughts, and speculations, which no intellileaders in great and momentous transactions gent posterity would willingly let die,—it is -men who, by their force of character, or the due both to his fame and to the best interests advantage of their position, have been enabled of mankind, that they should be preserved, to leave their mark on the age and country to and reverently presented to after times, in which they belonged, and to impress more such a posthumous portraiture as it is the buthan one generation with the traces of their siness of biography to supply. transitory existence. Of this kind are many The best and most satisfactory memorials of the lives in Plutarch ; and of this kind, still of this sort are those which are substantially more eminently, should be the lives of such made up of private letters, journals, or writmen as Mahomet, Alfred, Washington, Napo- ten fragments of any kind, by the party himleon. There is an inferior and more private self; as these, however scanty or imperfect, department under this head, in which the in- are at all events genuine Relics of the indiviterest, though less elevated, is often quite as dual, and generally bearing, even more auintense, and rests on the same general basis, thentically than his publications, the stamp of of sympathy with personal feats and endow- his intellectual and personal character. We ments-we mean the history of individuals cannot refer to better examples than the lives whom the ardour of their temperament, or the of Gray and of Cowper, as these have been caprices of fortune, have involved in strange finally completed. Next to these, if not upon adventures, or conducted through a series of the same level, we should place such admiraextraordinary and complicated perils. The ble records of particular conversations, and memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini, or Lord Her- memorable sayings gathered from the lips of bert of Cherbury, are good examples of this the wise, as we find in the inimitable pages romantic sort of biography; and many more of Boswell,—a work which, by the general might be added, from the chronicles of an- consent of this generation, has not only made cient paladins, or the confessions of modern us a thousand times better acquainted with malefactors.
Johnson than all his publications put together, The second class is chiefly for the compilers I but has raised the standard of his intellectual character, and actually made discovery of , do by being caught in undress : but all who large provinces in his understanding, of which are really worth knowing about, will, on the scarcely an indication was to be found in his whole, be gainers; and we should be well writings. In the last and lowest place—in so content to have no biographies but of those far, at least, as relates to the proper business who would profit, as well as their readers, by of this branch of biography, the enlargement being shown in new or in nearer lights. of our knowledge of the genius and character The value of the insight which may thos of individuals we must reckon that most be obtained into the mind and the meaning common form of the memoirs of literary men, of truly great authors, can scarcely be overwhich consists of little more than the biogra- rated by any one who knows how to tam pher's own (generally most partial) descrip- such communications to account; and we do tion and estimate of his author's merits, or of not think we exaggerate when we say, that elucidations and critical summaries of his in many cases more light may be gained from most remarkable productions. In this divi. the private letters, notes, or recorded talk of sion, though in other respects of great value, such persons, than from the most finished of must be ranked those admirable dissertations their publications; and not only upon the which Mr. Stewart has given to the world un- many new topics which are sure to be started der the title of the Lives of Reid, Smith, and in such memorials, but as to the true charasRobertson,—the real interest of which con- ter, and the merits and defects, of such pubsists almost entirely in the luminous exposi- lications themselves. It is from such sources tion we there meet with of the leading specu- alone that we can learn with certainty by lations of those eminent writers, and in the what road the author arrived at the conclucandid and acute investigation of their origi- sions which we see established in his works; nality or truth.
against what perplexities he had to struggle. We know it has been said, that after a man and after what failures he was at last enabled has himself given to the public all that he to succeed. It is thus only that we are often thought worthy of its acceptance, it is not fair enabled to detect the prejudice or hostility for a posthumous biographer to endanger his which may be skilfully and mischievously reputation by bringing forward what he had disguised in the published book-to find out withheld as unworthy,-either by exhibiting the doubts ultimately entertained by the authe mere dregs and refuse of his lucubrations, thor himself, of what may appear to most or by exposing to the general gaze those crude readers to be triumphantly established,—or conceptions, or rash and careless opinions, to gain glimpses of those grand ulterior specuwhich he may have noted down in the pri- lations, to which what seemed to common vacy of his study, or thrown out in the confi- eyes a complete and finished system, was, in dence of private conversation. And no doubt truth, intended by the author to serve only as there may be (as there have been) cases of a vestibule or introduction. Where such such abuse. Confidence is in no case to be documents are in abundance, and the mind violated; nor are mere trifles, which bear no which has produced them is truly of the highmark of the writer's intellect
, to be recorded est order, we do not hesitate to say, that more to his prejudice. But wherever there is power will generally be found in them, in the way and native genius, we cannot but grudge the at least of hints to kindred minds, and as suppression of the least of its revelations; and scattering the seeds of grand and original are persuaded, that with those who can judge conceptions, than in any finished works which of such intellects, they will never lose any the indolence, the modesty, or the avocations thing by the most lavish and indiscriminate of such persons will have generally permitted disclosures. Which of Swift's most elaborate them to give to the world. So far, therefore, productions is at this day half so interesting from thinking the biography of men of genius as that most confidential Journal to Stella ? Or barren or unprofitable, because presenting few which of them, with all its utter carelessness events or personal adventures, we cannot but of expression, its manifold contradictions, its regard it, when constructed in substance of infantine fondness, and all its quick-shifting such materials as we have now mentioned, moods, of kindness, selfishness, anger, and as the most instructive and interesting of all ambition, gives us half so strong an impres- writing-embodying truth and wisdom in the sion either of his amiableness or his vigour ? vivid distinctness of a personal presentment, How much, in like manner, is Johnson raised -enabling us to look on genius in its first in our estimation, not only as to intellect but elementary stirrings, and in its weakness as personal character, by the industrious eaves- well as its strength, -and teaching as at the droppings of Boswell, setting down, day by same time great moral lessons, both as to the day, in his note-book, the fragments of his value of labour and industry, and the neces. most loose and unweighed conversations? Or sity of virtues, as well as intellectual endowwhat, in fact, is there so precious in the works, ments, for the attainment of lasting excellence. or the histories, of eminent men, from Cicero In these general remarks our readers will to Horace Walpole, as collections of their pri- easily perceive that we mean to shadow forth vate and familiar letters? What would we our conceptions of the character and peculiar not give for such a journal-such notes of merits of ihe work before us. It is the history conversations, or such letters, of Shakespeare, not of a man of action, but of a student, a Chaucer, or Spenser? The mere drudges or philosopher, and a statesman; and its value coxcombs of literature may indeed suffer by consists not in the slight and imperfect acsuch disclosures—as made-up beauties might I count of what was done by, or happened to,
the individual, but in the vestiges it has lections of all who had most familiar access to fortunately preserved of the thoughts, senti- him in society. It was owing perhaps to this ments, and opinions of one of the most power- vigour and rapidity of intellectual digestion sul thinkers, most conscientious inquirers, and that, though all his life a great talker, there most learned reasoners, that the world has never was a man that talked half so much ever seen. It is almost entirely made up of who said so little that was either foolish or journals and letters of the auihor himself; frivolous; nor any one perhaps who knew and impresses us quite as strongly as any of so well how to give as much liveliness and his publications with a sense of the richness poignancy just and even profound observaof his knowledge and the fineness of his un- tions, as others could ever impart to startling derstanding-and with a far stronger sense extravagance, and ludicrous exaggeration. The of his promptitude, versatility, and vigour.* vast extent of his information, and the natural
His intellectual character, generally, can- gaiety of his temper, made him independent not be unknown to any one acquainted with of such devices for producing effect; and, his works, or who has even read many pages joined to the inherent kindness and gentleof the Memoirs now before us; and it is need-ness of his disposition, made his conversation less, therefore, to speak here of his great at once the most instructive and the most knowledge, the singular union of ingenuity generally pleasing that could be imagined. and soundness in his speculations-his per- Of his intellectual endowments we shall fect candour and temper in discussion-the say no more. But we must add, that the pure and lofty morality to which he strove to | Tenderness of his domestic affections, and elevate the minds of others, and in his own the deep Humility of his character, were as conduct to conform, or the wise and humane inadequately known, even among his friends, allowance which he was ready, in every case till the publication of those private records: but his own, to make for the infirmities which For his manners, though gentle, were cold; must always draw down so many from the and, though uniformly courteous and candid higher paths of their duty.
in society, it was natural to suppose that he These merits, we believe, will no longer be was not unconscious of his superiority. It is, denied by any who have heard of his name, therefore, but justice to bring into view some or looked at his writings. But there were of the proofs that are now before us of both other traits of his intellect which could only these endearing traits of character. The be known to those who were of his acquaint- beautiful letter which he addressed to Dr. ance, and which it is still desirable that the Parr on the death of his first wife, in 1797, readers of these Memoirs should bear in breathes the full spirit of both. We regret mind. One of these was, that ready and pro- that we can only afford room for a part of it. digious Memory, by which all that he learned seemed to be at once engraved on the proper
“ Allow me, in justice to her memory, to tell compartment of his mind, and to present you what she was, and what I owed her. I was itself at the moment it was required ; another, my youth. I found an intelligent companion, and still more remarkable, was the singular Ma- a tender friend ; a prudent monitress, the most turity and completeness of all his views and faithful of wives, and a mother as tender as children opinions, even upon the most abstruse and ever had the misfortune to lose. I found a woman complicated questions, though raised, without who, by the tender management of my weaknesses, design or preparation, in the casual course of gradually corrected the most pernicious of them. conversation. In this way it happened that the most generous nature, she was taught economy
She became prudent from affection; and though of the sentiments he delivered had generally and frugality by her love for me. During the most the air of recollections—and that few of those critical period of my life, she preserved order in my with whom he most associated in mature life, affairs, from the care of which she relieved me. She could recollect of ever catching him in the gently reclaimed me from dissipation; she propped act of making up his mind, in the course of dolence to all the exertions that have been useful the discussions in which it was his delight to or creditable to me, and she was perpetually at hand engage them. His conclusions, and the grounds to admonish my heedlessness and improvidence. of them, seemed always to have been pre- To her I owe whatever I am; to her whatever ! viously considered and digested; and though shall be. . Such was she whom I have lost! And he willingly developed his reasons, to secure
I have lost her after eight years of struggle and disthe assent of his hearers, he uniformly
seemed tress had bound us fast together, and moulded our
tempers to each other,—when a knowledge of her to have been perfectly ready, before the cause worth had refined my youthful love into friendship, was called or, to have delivered the opinion and before age had deprived it of much of its origiof the court, with a full summary of the argu-nal ardour, -I lost her, alas! (the choice of my ments and evidence on both sides. In the youth, and the partner of my misfortunes) at a mowork before us, we have more peeps into the ment when I had the prospect of her sharing my
better days! preparatory deliberations of his great intellect
“The philosophy which I have learnt only teaches --that scrupulous estimate of the grounds of me that virtue and friendship are the greatest of decision, and that jealous questioning of first human blessings, and that their loss is irreparable. impressions, which necessarily precede the It aggravates my calamity, instead of consoling me formation of all firm and wise opinions.-than under i: But my wounded heart seeks another
consolation, Governed by those feelings, which could probably be collected from the recol- have in every age and region of the world
the human mind, I seek relief, and I find it, in * A short account of Sir James' parentage, edu. the soothing hope and consolatory opinion, that a cation, and personal history is here omitted. Benevolent Wisdom inflicts the chastisement, as