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"Mr. Owen is perhaps injudicious in attempting to connect with his economical improvements, a complete reform in religion and government," &c.
The "complete reform in religion" here alluded to, consists in the utter abandonment and reprobation of the whole system of the Christian faith—in a contemptuous rejection of the Bible, Old and New, as a tissue of fables and falsehoods; and in the denial of the providence of God and a state of future retribution. The doctrines of this reformer, with respect to private property, are hardly less mischievous. Such are the projects which our author thinks are "perhaps injudicious;" and respecting the framer of which, he remarks:—
"It is but justice to this gentleman to add, that his intentions are evidently of the most benevolent character".'
We have thus given a pretty full, and, we believe, fair abstract of the Citizen's volume; and we shall venture to add a few detached and cursory remarks, which, on looking over the work again, our critical duties seem to require.
We have had occasion more than once to observe upon the tenderness of the author's sentiments towards Mr. Canning, and the facility with which he appears to have yielded his entire confidence to the declarations of that ingenious politician, when he has done this country the honour of a civil speech. It strikes us, that the author has erred as widely from the true line in hie views of lord Castlereagh's character, as in his unqualified commendation of Mr. Canning. No one can deny to the latter the possession of ample and richly endowed intellect, great political sagacity, and a lofty personal character. But it must not be forgotten, at the same time—at least by writers of other countries— that Mr. Canning is exclusively and avowedly a British statesman, and that he takes care to manifest his devotion to what he considers the peculiar interests of England, on all occasions, legitimate and illegitimate, and his contempt or aversion for the institutions or policy of other countries, by pungent sarcasms and bold egotistical bravadoes. Our state papers teem with evidence of his actual feelings towards this country, more conclusive, we think, than any set speech at a Liverpool dinner. The flippancy of the tone of some of his diplomatic letters, and the poorly disguised sneer in others, should, it seems to us, serve to moderate the anxiety of an American writer to domesticate him among our well-wishers. On the other hand, lord Castlereagl), "whatever were his faults, was not justly chargeable with rudeness towards foreign nations. The suavity of his address, and the general mildness of his tone, gained friends every where for his country. Towards the United States, especially, he was always amicable and obliging; and, we believe, few of our diplomatic agents had occasion to complain of his spirit or manner. Hi professed, it is true, no extraordinary attachment to liberal institutions, but then he never outraged them by heartless witticisms. As a statesman, he possessed some eminent qualifications. In the House of Commons he was an excellent manager, and occasionally treated the political situation and history of Europe with almost unrivalled ability. Until lately, Mr. Canning has made a point of avowing, on all occasions, that he did no more than tread in the footsteps of his predecessor. The merits of lord Castlereagh are, we think, greatly underrated by the author of " America." Certainly the allusion to the mode of his death is in the last degree unseemly. We are greatly mistaken, too, if it be not found hereafter, that this country has gained nothing by the elevation of the present premier.
In Chapter X. (p. 337,) we find the opinion advanced with considerable earnestness, that Russia is destined to ingulf the whole continent of Europe. We have no great confidence in our own prophetic vision, but we see nothing to warrant this belief; at all events, the author's reasons are by no means conclusive. Truly, we cannot agree with him in the doctrine so strenuously maintained in his first work, (" Europe,") that the domination of Russia would be a benefit to the continent and mankind! The theory of our author, in this respect, is of the same pattern with that touching the validity and value of the union between church and state, to which we have adverted in a former page.
In a note to page 312, the author takes occasion to refer to a work entitled "New Ideas on Population, with remarks on the theories of Godwin and Malthus, by A. H. Everett," which appears, in fact, to give little support to its title-page, since it is acknowledged to be no more than "a defence of the old and common opinion against a modern paradox." The theory of Malthus, we think, remains unshaken. Some of the "New Ideas" in the present work, are, we believe, also of respectable antiquity. Two or three of them, as we have already suggested, have been put under ground by the common consent of the age; and we see no reason why they should be allowed to "revisit the glimpses of the moon," to the alarm of well-disposed politicians.
Among the results of the general progress of this country in improvement, the author introduces the subject of religion. We hardly know how to understand him on this point . His singular remark respecting the avowed infidelity of Owen, has already been noticed. In page 354, he professes to believe that the "veneration now so universally entertained for our faith will probably increase rather than diminish;" but, he is pleased to add, that "as all the forms under which it is professed, are in a greater or less degree mixed up with error, they may be expected to undergo various alterations." He then takes up the principal sects seriatim:—
"Will the Roman Catholics," he asks, "who are now very active in many parts of the country, who have lately made proselytes, even in the heart of orthodox New-England, who have their College of Jesuits at Washington, and at times their deputies in congress, continue to advance, as they fondly expect, until they have reclaimed us all from our wanderings, and gathered us into the folds of holy mother church?"
Now, we take upon ourselves to say, that it never has happened to any sane Roman Catholic, to believe in the practicability of making proselytes of all the inhabitants of this country. The exertions of that communion, in this respect, bear no comparison with those of other societies. They have no college of "Jesuits," properly so called, at Washington, as is stated in this
Sassage, nor have they, as a sect, any ."deputies in congress." lany Protestant clergymen have held seats in this body; and we can perceive no valid reason why a minister of the Roman Catholic faith should be excluded, or the appearance of one in it so specially noted.
Next comes the "Church of England," or, to use its proper name, "the Protestant Episcopal Church," which the author, with surprising ignorance of its history and condition, appears to consider as "hardly at home on this soil." If he had taken proper pains to inform himself, he would have learnt that no society of Christians has given stronger evidence of entire adaptation to our soil, institutions, and manners; and no one has increased more rapidly, or manifests more unequivocal signs of prosperity. We need not refer to evidence in support of this position, which must be familiar to all our readers.
"Finally," he says, "is it possible, that from the midst of the chaos of conflicting sects, some new form of the common faith may ultimately spring up, more consonant to the real sense of scripture, and better accommodated to practical uses than any now existing?"
We do not profess to have discovered his meaning in this passage, but leave it to our readers to decypher, if the task be. pos
The style of this work is generally easy and not inelegant . There are, however, some instances of flippancy, which, though tolerable in a newspaper or review, do not become a solemn book from a grave diplomatist: examples may be found in pages 54, 116, and 357. There is a good deal, too, of commonplace pamphleteering, and much mere declamation on well-established truths, which, whether the book was written for Europe or America, might very well have been spared. To the soundness and value of some of the opinions advanced, we have borne willing testimony. Upon the whole, if the author will condense a little more, and write from Europe and not at Europe, we shall be glad to see an additional work of his pen.
Art. X.—Memoires ou Souvenirs el Anecdotes par M. Le Compte de Stgur, de UAcudkmie Francaise, Pair de France, &c. 3 vols. Paris et Londres, 1827. Memoirs, liecollections, and Anecdotes, by Count de Stgur, of the French Academy, Peer of France, &c. 3 vols. London and Paris, 1827.
There is, perhaps, no individual of the age, from whom more entertaining and instructive Memoirs might be expected, than the Count de Stgur; to whose prolific vein the world is indebted for the three volumes upon which we are about to bestow some attention. We could not indicate a man that has seen the loftiest society, and the most brilliant and imposing business of life, under better auspices, or a greater variety of forms; or who, from the nature of his literary habits and tastes, and the vivacity of his character, would be deemed more able to describe all that he had observed, and to furnish a rich stock of anecdotes and reflections. Born in France, in 1753, in the reign of Louis XV., and sprung from an illustrious race, he has passed through the most interesting and splendid scenes of the old and new regime; associated with the rulers, warriors, and philosophers of the old and new schools respectively; and intimately known several of the crowned heads, the plumed generals, and the exalted ministers, whose names filled the trumpet of fame, and whose operations swayed the destinies of Europe, during the last half of the eighteenth century. He includes in the list of his acquaintance, Washington, Kosciusko, Lafayette, Napoleon, Catherine II., Frederick the Great, Joseph II., Gustavus III., Mirabeau, and indeed almost every cotemporary politician or author of chief notoriety and influence. The variety of pursuits into which he has been successively cast, is as remarkable in itself, as it is propitious to his present scheme of publication.—"Fate decreed," says he, in his introductory chapter, "that I should be a colonel, a general officer, a traveller by land and sea, a courtier, the son of a minister of state, an ambassador, a negotiator of treaties, a prisoner, a farmer, a soldier, a poet, a dramatic author, an historian, a writer for the journals, a deputy, a counsellor of state, a senator, a member of the French Academy, and a peer of France." He was educated like all the higher French noblesse of his day; first taught the classics in reverend colleges; introduced too soon into the fashionable circles; invested with a commission in the army; indulged in every freak of levity and extravagance; involved in foolish duels, and accomplished in intrigues of all kinds. They studied the most liberal or latitudinarian doctrines, in both religion and politics; affected English fashions and opinions; ridiculed ancient prejudices and customs, while they cherished fa
mily pride and hereditary vices; and believed themselves, notwithstanding the tendency of the theories which they patronised and the abuses of which their privileges made a part, secure in their peculiar advantages and enjoyments. The Count exhibits their situation in vivid terms.
"Pour nous, jeune noblesse francaise, sans regret pour le passe, sans inquiétude pour l'avenir, nousmarchions gaiment sur un tapis de fleurs qui nouscacliait un abime. Rians frondeura des modes ancienncs, de l'orgueil fcoda] de nos peres et de leurs graves Etiquettes, tout ce qui etait antique nous paraissait genant ct ridicule. La gravité des anciennes doctrines nous pesait. La philosophic riante de Voltaire nous entrainait en nous amusant. Sans approfondir celle des ecrivains plus graves, nous l'admirions comme empreintc de courage et de résistance au pouvoir arbitraire.
L'usage nouveau des cabriolets, des fracs, la simplicity des contunw s anglaiscs nous charmaient, en nous permcttant de derober a un Eclat genant toils lea détails de notrc vie privee. Consacrant tout notre temps a la socicté, aux fetes, atix plaisirs, aux devoirs peu assujettissans de la cour et des garnisons, nous jouissions a la fois avec incurie et des avantages que nous avaient transmis les anciennes institutions, et de la liberte que nous apportaient les nouvelles mcciuv ainsi ces deux regimes flattaient egalcmcnt l'un notre vanite, l'autrc nos penchans pour les plaisirs."
It was the mode among those of his order, who possessed any literary talents, to attempt compositions of the lighter cast, and particularly vers de aocieti, verses which were adapted to flatter a mistress, amuse a coterie, or sting a rival, an enemy, or a court favourite. This, however, was not always a safe exercise of their wit and knack of rhyme. Maurepas,—afterwards one of Louis the Sixteenth's ministers,—suffered an exile of twenty-five years for a song; and the Chevalier de Boufflers for a long time marred his fortune by similar effusions. Our author, in a sportive mood, devised some pungent couplets against the minister of marine, in 1779. Being, soon after, at a hunt with the king—Louis XVI.—this monarch observed to him, with a very severe countenance, "I have been told that you have suffered yourself to make certain verses, very lively and wicked, and hardly fit to be acknowledged." The culprit,endeavouring to hide his embarrassment, replied that he had indeed amused himself in camp by writing a song, and forthwith he warbled, in a low tone, into the ear of the sovereign, a few stanzas of a different piece of his own, rather licentious, upon the deception of jealous husbands. Louis laughed heartily, and said no more on the subject: but the affair might have been widely different from a joke.
Segur became celebrated for his poetical and dramatic bagatelles, and has published a number of them in an octavo, entitled Melanges. He is, besides, a voluminous author in prose; advantageously known as such in the republic of letters. His "Politique de Tous Les Cabinets de l'Europe,"—to which Burke has referred with so much respect in the Letters on a Regicide Peace,—is a valuable and curious contribution to political and diplomatic history: Yds Historical and Political View of Ew