Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

House of Austria was threatening to crush the development of every weaker state in Christendom, and was supported by the whole force of spiritual despotism, Henry IV.'s resistance to its usurpations was the cause, not of France only, but of Europe. Farther on, if we accept the advance of the French frontier and the extension of dynastic alliances, as reasonable objects for a wise ruler to pursue, the vaulting ambition of Louis XIV. tended to aims which were strictly practical, and it was ratified by the enthusiastic applause of the whole nation. But, after the peace of Utrecht, the House of Austria had become for ever incapable of giving serious offence; her richest provinces had been annexed to France, and the ties which bound up with them the inviolate unity of the Holy Roman Empire had been rudely broken. The Austrian finances were exhausted; the remnant of Eugene's heroic life was passed in struggles with Charles II.'s ambitious flatterers, and the solemn triflers of the Aulic Council; the various Leagues and Alliances of the Rhine had abased the head of the Empire to be the president of a rebellious and disorganised confederacy; and with the Empire, the national spirit of Germany, so formidable to France and so much dreaded by her, had lost all its terrors. Without some extraordinary impulse to force them back upon themselves and startle them into independent action, it seemed as if the nations between the Rhine and the Vistula would scarcely require even a passing notice from the vigilant diplomacy of France. Frederic William of Prussia (though in many respects a most undoubted and honourable exception to his brother Kings,) was absorbed in his passion for playing at soldiers. Saxony was involved in the endless squabbles of the Polish Diet.' Hanover, after plundering Mecklenburgh, under pretence of pacifying it, was quarrelling with Prussia over the booty.

But to French statesmen the House of Austria continued to be the same bugbear — as if Tilly and Wallenstein still headed her armies; as if the Imperial race still drew strength from Alsace and Franche Comté; as if its younger branches still ruled in Spain, and the Sicilies, and Milan, and Peru. To weaken this vanishing phantom, France plunged madly into the war, the diplomatic character of which we have briefly traced. She was rewarded by the creation of a new Kingdom, which was destined to take the lead in Germany; and which may even yet be found the fittest element to regenerate the fallen Empire. Frederic owed Silesia and Glatz to the co-operation of France, and to her inability to cope with his great capacity. The appearance of another first-class power in the European lists; the strength which carried Prussia through her subsequent struggle with Austria; the intense enthusiasm of German nationality which hailed the triumphs of Minden and Rosbach ; the self-relying vigour which this nationality has since communicated to German society and German literature; the movement of the whole German race in the War of Independence; the growth of that doctrinaire school of modern Germany, whose most rooted prejudice is an antipathy to the very name of France--all these effects have followed (and we believe may be deduced by no indirect affiliation) from that unjust war of the Austrian Succession.

Internally the consequences to France were as deplorable, and far more immediately disastrous. The national expenditure, which Fleury had succeeded in equalising with the income, rose above it, never to be reduced. The royal navy, which, on the interruption of Fleury's conventions with Walpole, Maurepas had laboured to revive, was so absolutely destroyed, that M. de Tocqueville assures us, at the peace* of Aix la Chapelle, France only possessed two ships of war! In the collisions between the French and English colonists were sown the seeds of the misunderstanding which, in the war of 1756, deprived France of Canada, and prepared the ruin of her flourishing establishments in Hindostan.

We have now sketched the two first of the three periods into which we divided the diplomatic history of France during the reign of Louis XV. The third period commences with the Peace of Aix la Chapelle, and the Austrian Alliance that followed. But the attitude which Europe then assumed was preserved, with some modifications, long after the death of Louis XV., and down to the Congress of Reichenbach in 1790. It would be impossible for us (consistently with reasonable limits) now to give the events of these years, even in the merest outline. We can only hope that we may soon have an opportunity of doing so, by the appearance of a history of this later period, as candid and intelligent as M. de Tocqueville's · History of the Reign of • Louis XV.

* The April supplement of the Revue des Deux Mondes contains a very able paper on the French Marine of 1849;' and annexed to it is a table of the maritime armaments of France from 1675 to 1743 ; by which it appears that in 1717 (two years after the death of Louis XIV.) the maritime forces of France only numbered four vessels and 460 men. There are considerable fluctuations. But in 1736 the vessels were only 5; the men 820.

the philoson the world, must the national.ch of the religiotinies of

ART. IV. - The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria. By GEORGE

DENNIS. 2 vols. London: 1848. W e welcome, with great satisfaction, the appearance of Mr.

Dennis's long-promised work upon the remains of ancient Etruria. It cannot, indeed, boast of the same startling novelty as the researches by Mr. Layard, which have so lately opened to us the marvels of ancient Nineveh : nor has the author the advantage of finding himself, like Sir Charles Fellows in Lycia, on ground previously untrodden. But the records of the greatness and civilisation of the Etruscan people - of that nation which exercised a most important influence upon the rising destinies of Rome, and from which was derived much of the religious faith, and something at least of the national character of the future masters of the world, must always be an object of interest to the philosophical student of antiquity.

The subject, nevertheless, until very recently, has been a singularly unfortunate one. Disfigured at a very early period by the literary impostures of Annius of Viterbo, it was abandoned during three centuries almost exclusively to the perverted patriotism of uncritical native antiquaries. Niebuhr has even ventured to assert that no other subject connected with ancient history has given rise to so much hasty, irrational, and unprofitable speculation. Without pausing to inquire whether the Celtic antiquaries of our own and the sister island might not claim at least an equality in this respect with their Tuscan brethren, it must be admitted that the earlier works on Etruscan history and antiquities are in the highest degree unsatisfactory; nor have the comparatively recent labours of Inghirami and Micali done much more than prepare materials for a more critical inquirer. The latter author, indeed, attempted a general review of the history and civilisation of ancient Italy. But his efforts were rendered almost wholly abortive by the strength of those national prejudices which led him to reject with scorn the theories of all Transalpine authors, and to repudiate with indignation any system which would derive his Etruscan forefathers -- according to him, as pure Autochthones as ever wore golden grasshoppers in their hair - from a Pelasgic or other foreign source.

Mrs. Hamilton Gray, whose lively and amusing work on the sepulchres of Etruria had the merit of first attracting the attention of the English public to the subject, had the misfortune on beginning her Etruscan studies to fall into the hands of Italian Letterati of the ultra-national school: and she appears to have

imbibed their prejudices so deeply, as to have been unable subsequently to extricate herself from their dominion, or listen to the dictates of more sober and impartial criticism. These defects have rendered her work of comparatively little value to the scholar; and we certainly cannot congratulate the traveller who should put himself under its guidance. Many of the most interesting sites she did not visit at all; while her descriptions of those she saw were derived as much from her memory as from notes made on the spot, and could not therefore but present many inaccuracies as well as omissions.

On the other hand the masterly work of the lamented Karl Otfried Müller, though containing an excellent summary of all that can be learned from ancient authors concerning Etruscan history and antiquities, made its appearance, by a singular accident, almost at the very moment when that long series of discoveries, which within the last twenty years have thrown so much light upon the subject, had just begun. In 1828 when the • Etrusker' of that highly-gifted scholar were first given to the world, the vast necropolis of Vulci, which has since yielded so many thousands of painted vases, was still virgin ground. As yet, a few only of the curious painted tombs of Tarquinii had been laid open: and none of those which have been more recently found at Veii, Cære, or Chiusi. If hundreds of sepulchral urns had been previously exhumed at Volterra and at Chiusi, hundreds more have been since added to the series. All competent judges, we are certain, will agree with us, when we assert that the last twenty years have contributed more to our knowledge of the arts, the manners, and customs of ancient Etruria than the three preceding centuries.

These discoveries have been for the most part recorded, and the most interesting of the monuments described and figured, in the valuable publications of the Archaeological Society, founded at Rome in 1829, under the auspices of Chevalier Bunsen. But the voluminous and expensive character of these publications renders them difficult of access to the scholar, and wholly unsuited to the general reader. Hence the want has been long felt of some work which should answer the purpose both of the traveller and the student, — affording trustworthy instructions to the one, at the same time that it communicated to the other, within a moderate compass, the successful results of these late inquiries.

To the fulfilment of this task Mr. Dennis has brought no ordinary qualifications. His scholarship, at once accurate and extensive, is enlightened by a sound and rational spirit of criticism; and the natural enthusiasm with which he regards the

with Hose the But that not uponal asside before made

subject of his long-continued researches is rarely permitted to mislead the calmness of his judgment. Favourably known to the antiquarian world as a contributor to the publications of the Archæological Institute of Rome, he was already familiar with the stores of information which they contain, as well as with the works of the earlier Italian writers on Etruscan antiquities. Nor has he neglected to avail himself of the important labours of the great scholars of Germany, Niebuhr, Müller, and Lepsius. But that which constitutes, in our eyes at least, his greatest merit, is not so much the amount of learning which he has brought to bear upon the objects of his researches, as the untiring zeal and personal assiduity with which those researches were prosecuted. The work before us is the fruit (as he tells us in his preface) of several tours made in Etruria between the years 1842 and 1847. In the course of these tours he has visited every site within the confines of that country on which ancient remains were known to exist; and has left few unvisited on which there was any probability that such remains could be discovered. Neither time nor labour have been spared in verifying his descriptions. Thus we find him at Corneto spending whole weeks, day after day, from

sunrise to sunset' among the tombs of Tarquinii, - copying their paintings with the camera lucida, and encountering no little personal risk in making accurate copies of half-effaced inscriptions on the rock-tombs of Castel d'Asso and Sovana :

Often,' says he, have I reclined on the top of a tomb, with 'my body hanging half over its face, clinging for support to * some projection of the rock or some friendly bough, while I * endeavoured, too frequently in vain, to feel my way through an inscription or bas-relief; and often, as at Sovana, have I been forced to assume a more perilous position, standing on ' tip-toe, spread-eagled against the front of the monument, with 'nothing to save me from the yawning pit at my feet some 'thirty or forty feet deep, but the ledge of rock on which I

stood, only two or three inches wide, and ever slippery with moisture, and the grasp of one hand on the angle of the façade, or in some shallow hole in the smooth-hewn tufo.'

We have dwelt upon this point, not from any desire to magnify toils or trials, for which every true lover of antiquity will always be prepared; but because Mr. Dennis's conduct in this respect unfortunately forms a striking contrast to that of the great majority of travellers in Italy. It has long been an anomaly, and almost a reproach, that while the domain of geographical science over the remotest quarters of the globe has been extended by British enterprise, — while the comparatively inac

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »