Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

tis

my life

up with surprise and kindness, her lips bloom- proof of that marriage of my father and mother ing in a smile, the sun making a golden halo though my poor lord, on his death bed, told me round her hair.... There seemed, as the that Father Holt had brought sach a proof to boy thought, in every look or gesture of this Castlewood. I would not seek it when I was fair creature, an angelical softness and bright abroad. I went and looked at ov poor mother's pity-in motion or repose she seemed gracious grave in her convent. What matter to her alike ; the tone of her voice, though she ut- now? No court of law on earth, upon my tered words ever so trivial, gave him

a pleasure mere word, would deprive my Lord Viscount that amounted almost to anguish. It cannot be and set me up. I am the head of the house, called love, that a lad of twelve years of age, dear lady; but Frank is Viscount of Castle little more than a menial, felt for an exalted wood still, And rather than disturb him, I lady, his mistress ; but it was worship." + would turn monk, or disappear in America.'

“As he spoke so to his dearest mistress, fer This noble and pure feeling is expand- whom he would have been willing to give up ed by a series of devoted actions, re

his life, or to make any sacrifice any day, the lated with extreme simplicity; in the fond creature flung herself down on her knee: least words, in the turn of a phrase, in outbreak of passionato love and gratitude, such

before him, and kissed both his hands ir an a chance conversation, we perceive a as could not but melt his heart, and make him great heart, passionately grateful, never

feel very proud and thankful that God had tiring of doing a kindness, or a service, given him the power to show his love for her,

and to

prove it by some little sacrifice on his sympathizing, friendly, giving advice, own part. To be able to bestow benefits of defending the honor of the family and happiness on those one loves is sure the great. the fortune of the children. Twice Es- est blessing conferred upon a man-and

what mond interposed between Lord Castle vanity, could compare with the pleasure Es

wealth or name, or gratification of ambition or wood and Mohun the duellist; it was mond now had of being able to confer some not his fault that the murderer's weapon kindness upon his best and dearest friends? did not reach his own breast. When

“Dearest saint,' says he, purest soul, that Lord Castlewood on his deathleed re

has had so much to suffer, that has blest the

poor lonely orphan with such a treasure of vealed that Esmond was not a bastard, love. 'Tis for me to kneel, not for

you: but that the title and fortune of Castle for me to be thankful that I can make you wood were lawfully his, the young man, be God that I can serve you!"" *

happy. Hath

any other aim? Blessed without a word, burned the confession which would have rescued him from This noble tenderness seems still more the poverty and humiliation in which touching when contrasted with the

Esmond he had so long pined. Insulted by the surrounding circumstances. Lady Castlewood, sick of a wound re- goes to the wars, serves a political ceived by his kinsman's side, accused party, lives amidst dangers and bustle, of ingratitude and cowardice, he per

judging revolutions and politics from sisted in his silence with the justifica a lofty point of view; he becomes a tion in his hand : “And when the man of experience, well informed, learn struggle was over in Harry's mind, a ed, far-sighted, capable of great enterglow of righteous happiness filled it; prises, possessing prudence and cour and it was with grateful tears in his age, harassed by his own thoughts and eyes that he returned thanks to God griefs, ever sad and ever strong. He for that decision which he had been ends by, accompanying to England the enabled to make.” | Later, being in Pretender, half-brother of Queen

Anne love, but sure not to marry if his birth and keeps him disguised at Castie remained under a cloud in the eyes of wood, awaiting the moment when the the world, having repaid his benefac- queen, dying and won over to the Tory tress, whose son he had saved, entreated cause, should declare him her heir. by her to resume the name which be- This young prince, a true Stuart, paye longed to him, he smiled sweetly, and court to Lord Castlewcod's daughter gravely replied :

Beatrix, whom Esmond 'oves, and gets

out at night to join her. Esmond, “! It was settled twelve years since, by my who waits for him, sees the crown lost dear lord's bedside,' says Colonel Esmond. and his house dishonored. His insulted "The children must know nothing of this. Frank and his hein after him must bear our honor and outraged love break forth ir name. 'Tis his rightfully; I have not even a a proud and terrible rage. Pale, with • The History of Henry Esmond, bk. i. sleepless nights of anxiety, he keeps

set teeth, his brain on fire by four ch. i. 1 Ibid. bk. i ch. vii. Ibich bk. ii. ch. i.

# Ibid. bk. ü.ch. ï.

and 4

ܙ

his mind clear, and his voice calm ; he nessed certificate of my father's mairiage to my explains to the prince with perfect mother, and of my birth and christening ; etiquette, and with the respectful cold- sainted sire gave ali through life so shining er,

was christened of that religion of which you: ness of an official messenger, the folly ample. These are my titles, dear Frank, and which the prince has committed, and this what I do with them: here go Baptism tne, villany which the prince contem

and Marriage, and here the Marquisate and

the August Sign-Manual, with which your preplated. The scene must be read to

decessor was pleased to honour our race. And see how much superiority and passion as Esmond spoke he set the papers burning in this calmness and bitterness imply:

the brazier. • You will please, sir, to remem

ber,' he continued, that our family sath ruined What moan you, my lord?' says the itself by fidelity to yours; that my grandfather Prince, and muttered something about a gueto spent his estate, and gave his blood and his son is penis, which Esmond caught up.

to die for your service ; that my dear lord's "The snare, Sir,' said he was not of our grandfather (for lord you are now, Frank, by aying; it is not we that invited you. We right and title too) died for the same cause; came to avenge, and not to compass, the dis- that my poor kinswoman, my father's second bonvur of our family.'

wife, after giving away her honour to your "Dishonour! Morbleu ! there has been no wicked perjured race, sent all her wealth to the dishonour,' says the Prince, turning scarlet, King, and got in return that precious title that only a little harmless playing.'

lies in ashes, and this inestimable yard of blue "That was meant to end seriously.'.

riband. I lay this at your feet, and stamp upon "I swear, the Prince broke out impetu- it: I draw this sword, and break it and deny ously, ' upon the honour of a gentleman, my

you; and had you completed the wrong you lords

designed us, by Heaven I would have driven "That we arrived in time. No wrong hath it through your heart, and no more pardoned been done, Frank,' says Colonel Esmond, you than your father pardoned Monmouth.""* turning round to young Castlewood, who stood at the door as the talk was going on. " See !

Two

pages later he speaks thus of his here is a paper whereon his Majesty hath marriage to Lady Castlewood : deigned to commence some verses in honour, or dishonour, of Beatrix. Here is, Madame

“That happiness which hath subsequently Flamme, " “Cruelle” and “Rebelle,”

crowned it, cannot be written in words ; ' 'tis of and “ Amour and " Jour,” ir the Royal its nature sacred and secret, and not to be writing and spelling. Had the Gracious lover spoken of, though the heart be ever so full of been happy, he had not passed his time in thankfulness, save to Heaven and the One ear sighing.' 'In fact, and actually as he was

alone-to one fond being, the truest and tenspeaking, Esmond cast his eyes down towards

derest and purest wife ever man was blessed the table, and saw a paper on which my young

with. As think of the immense happiness Prince had been scrawling a madrigal, that

which was in store for me, and of the depth was to finish his charmer on the morrow.

and intensity of that love which, for so many “Sir,' says the Prince, burning with rage

years, hath blessed me, I own to a transport of (he had assumed his Royal coat unassisted by wonder and gratitude for such a boon-nay, am this time), did I come here to receive insults ?'

thankful to have been endowed with a heart “ To confer them, may it please your Maj- capable of feeling and knowing the immense esty,' says the Colonel, with a very low bow, I beauty and value of the gift which God hath and the gentlemen of our family are come to

bestowed upon me. Sure, love vincit omnia: thank you.'

is immeasurably above all ambition, more preiso Malédiction!' says the young man, tears

cious than wealth, more noble than name. He starting into his eyes with helpless rage and knows not life who knows not that: he hatr mortification. What will you with me, gen.

pot felt the highest faculty of the soul who ! !men?'

hath not enjoyed it. In the name of my wife 1 “. If your Majesty will please to enter the write the completion of hope, and the summit next azartment,' says Esmond, preserving his

of happiness. "To have such a love is the one grave ise, 'I have some papers there which I blessing, in comparison of which all earthly would gladly submit to you, and by your per- joy is of no value ; and to think of her, is to mission I will lead the way;' and taking the praise God.” taper up, and backing before the Prince with very great ceremony, Mr. Esmond passed hinte is a lofty work; it is to be remembered

A character capable of such contrasts room, through which we bad just entered into the house : Please to that Thackeray has produced no other; set - chair for his Majesty, Frank,' says the we regret that moral intentions have Colonel to his companion, who wondered almos: as much at this scene, and was as much perverted these fine literary faculties, puzzled by it, as the other actor in it. Then and we deplore that satire has robhed going to the crypt over the mantel-piece, the art of such talent. Colonel opened it, and drew thence the papers which so long had lain there.

X «• Here, may it please your Majesty,' says he, 'is the Patent of Marquis sent over by Who is he; and what is the value of your Royal Father at St. Germain's to Vis- * The History of Henry Esmondi, bike. ii. Gwint Castlewood, my father : here is the wit- ch. xiii.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

this literature of which he is one of the man, stingy and narrow-minded, into a princes ? At bottom, like every litera- shop; he will be an exemplary trades ture, it is a definition of man; and to man. This public man, of inflexible judge it, we must compare it with man. probity, is in his drawing-room an in. We can do so now; we have just stud- tolerable coxcomb. This father of a ied a mind, Thackeray himself; we family, so humane, is an idiotic politi. have considered his faculties, their con- cian. Change a virtue in its circumstannections, results, their different degrees; ces, and it becomes a vice; change a we have before our eyes a model of vice in its circumstances, and it becomes human naturc. We have a right to a virtue. Regard the same quality from fudge of the copy by the model, and to two sides; on one it is a fault, on the control the definition which his novels other a merit. The essential man is lay down by the definition which his found concealed far below these moral character furnishes.

badges ; they only point out the usefa The two definitions are contrary, or noxious effect of our inner constitu. and his portrait is a criticism on his tion : they do not reveal our inner con. talent. We have seen that in him the stitution. They are safety or advertiz. same faculties produce the beautiful ing lights attached to our names, to and the ugly, force and weakness, warn the passer-by to avoid or approach success and failure ; that moral reflec- us ; they are not the explanatory chart tion, after having provided him with of our being. Our true essence consists every satirical power, debases him in in the causes of our good or bad qualart; that, after having spread over his ities, and these causes are discovered contemporary novels a tone of vulgar. in the temperanient, the species and ity and falseness, it raises his historical degree of imagination, the amount and novel to the level of the finest produc- velocity of attention, the magnitude tions; that the same constitution of and direction of primitive passions. mind teaches him the sarcastic and A character is a force, like gravity, or violent, as well as the modulated and steam, capable, as it may happen, of simple style, the bitterness and harsh- pernicious or profitable effects, and ness of hate with the effusion and which must be defined otherwise than delicacy of love. The evil and the by the amount of the weight it can lift good, the beautiful and the ugly, the re- or the havoc it can cause. It is there pulsive and the agreeable, are in him fore to ignore man, to reduce him, as then but remoter effects, of slight im- Thackeray and English literature genportance, born of changing circum- erally do, to an aggregate of virtues stances, acquired and fortuitous quals and vices; it is to lose sight in him of ities, not essential and primitive, dif- all but the exterior and social side ; it ferent forms which different streams is to neglect the inner and natural ele. present in the same current. So it is ment. We will find the same fault in with other men. Doubtless moral qual. English criticism, always moral, never ities are of the first rank; they are psychological, bent on exactly measur. the motive power of civilization, and ing the degree of human honesty, igno. constitute the nobleness of the indi- rant of the mechanism of our senti. sidual ; society exists by them alone, ments and faculties; we will find the and by them alone man is great. But same fault in English religion, which if they are the finest fruit of the hu- is but an emotion or a discipline; in man plant, they are not its root; they their philosophy, destitute of metaphys give us our value, but do not constitute ics ; and if we ascend to the source, sur elements. Neither the vices nor the according to the rule which derives virtues of man are his nature; to praise vices from virtues, and virtues from or to blame him is not to know him ; vices, we will see all these weaknesses approbation or disapprobation does not derived from their native energy, their define him ; the names of good or bad practical education, and that kind of tell us nothing of what he is. Put the severe and religious poetic ir stinct robber Cartouche in an Italian court of which has in time past made then the fifteenth century; he would be a Protestant and Puritan. great statesman. Transport this noble

CHAPTER III.

a mind. In the second place, it is mis.

cellaneous; in turning over a page, we Criticism and History. pass from the Renaissance to the nineMacaulay.

teenth century, from England to India :

this diversity surprises and pleases. I.

Lastly, involuntarily, the author is in

discreet; he displays himself to us, I SHALL not here attempt to write the keeping back nothing ; it is a familiar life of Lord Macaulay. It can only be conversation, and no conversation is related twenty years hence, when his worth so much as that of Englan !'s friends shall have put together all their greatest historian. We are pleased to recollections of him. As to what is mark the origin of this generous and public now, it seems to me useless powerful mind, to discover what faculo recall it: every one knows that his ties have nourished his talent, what cather was an abolitionist and a phil. researches have shaped his knowledge, anthropist ; that Macaulay passed what opinions he formed on philos through a most brilliant and complete ophy, religion, the state, literature ; classical education ; that at twenty-five what he was, and what he has become; his essay on Milton made him famous; what he wishes, and what he believes. har at thirty he entered parliament,

Seated in an arm-chair, with cur feet and took his standing there amongst on the fender, we see little by little, as the first orators; that he went to India we turn over the leaves of the book, an to reform the lav, and that on his re- animated and thoughtful face arise beturn he was appointed to high offices; fore us; the countenance assumes exthat on one occasion his liberal opin. pression and clearness; the different ions in religious matters lost him his features are mutually explained and seat in parliament; that he was re- lightened up; presently the author elected amidst universal congratula- lives again for us, and before us; we tion; that he continued to be the most perceive the causes and birth of all his celebrated publicist and the most ac- thoughts, we foresee what he is going complished writer of the Whig party; to say; his bearing and mode of speech and that on this ground, towards the are as familiar to us as those of a man close of his life, the gratitude of his whom we see every day; his opinions party and the public admiration, made correct and affect our own; he enters him a British peer. It will be a fine partly into our thoughts and our life; biography to write-a life of honor he is two hundred leagues away,

and and happiness, devoted to noble ideas, his book stamps his image on us, as and occupied by manly enterprizes; the reflected light paints on the horizon literary in the first place, but suffi- the object from which it is emitted. ciently charged with action and im- Such is the charm of books, which deal mersed in business to furnish sub with all kinds of subjects, which give stance and solidity to his eloquence the author's opinions on all sorts of and style, to form the observer side by things, whịch lead us in all directions side with the artist, and the thinker of his thoughts, and make us, so to side by side with the writer. On the speak, walk around his mind, present occasion I will only describe

Macaulay treats philosophy in the the thinker and writer : I leave the English fashion, as a practical man "life, I take his works; and first his He is a disciple of Bacon, and sets him Essays.

above all philosophers; he decides II.

that genuine science dates from him ; His Essays are a collection of articles that the speculations of old thinkers from reviews : I confess to a fondness are only witticisms ; that for two thoufor books of this kind. In the first sand years the human mind was on a place, we can throw down the volume wrong, tack; that only since Bacon it after a score of pages, begin at the end, has discovered the goal to which it or in the middle; we are not its slave, must turn, and the method by which it but its master we can treat it like a must arrive there. This goal is utility. newspaper : in fact, it is the journal of The object of knowledge is not theory,

but application. The object of math- | The first was consumed in solving un ematicians is not the satisfaction of an solvable enigmas, fabricating portraits idle curiosity, but the invention of of an imaginary sage, mounting from machines calculated to alleviate human hypothesis to hypothesis, tumbling labor, to increase the power of subdu- from absurdity to absurdity; it de ing nature, to render life more secure, spised what was practicable, promised commodious, and happy. The object what was impracticable ; and because of astronomy is not to furnish matter it disregarded the limits of the human for vast calculations and poetical cos- mind, ignored its power. The other mogonies, but to subserve geography measuring our force and weakness, end to guide navigation. The object diverted us from roads that were closed of anatomy and the zoological sciences to us, to start us on roads that were is not to suggest eloquent systems on open to us; it recognized facts and laws, The nature of organization, or to set because it resigned itself to remain ig. before the eyes the orders of the animal norant of their essence and principles ; kingdom by an ingenious classification, it rendered man more happy, because but to conduct the surgeon's hand and it has not pretended to render him the physician's prognosis. The object perfect; it discovered great truths and nf every research and every study is to produced great effects, because it had avgment comfort, to ameliorate the the courage and good sense to study condition of man ; theoretical laws are small things, and to keep for a long serviceable only in their practical use ; time to petty vulgar experiments ; it the labors of the laboratory and the has become glorious and powerful, cabinet receive their sanction and value because it deigned to become humble only through the use made of them by and useful. Formerly, science fur. workshops and mills; the tree of nished only vain pretensions and chi. knowledge must be estimated only by merical conceptions, whilst it held it. its fruits. If we wish to judge of a self far aloof from practical existence, philosophy, we must observe its ef- and styled itself the sovereign of man. fects; its works are not its books, but Now, science possesses acquired truths, its acts. The philosophy of the an- the hope of loftier discoveries, an evercients produced fine writings, sublime increasing authority, because it has phrases, infinite disputes, hollow entered upon active existence, and has dreams, systems displaced by systems, declared itself the servant of man. and left the world as ignorant, as un- Let it keep to its new functions ; let it happy, and as wicked as it found it. not try to penetrate the region of the That of Bacon produced observations, invisible ; let it renounce what must experiments, discoveries, machines, en- remain unknown; it does not contain tire arts and industries :

its own issue, it is but a medium ; nan “ It has lengthened life ; it has mitigated was not made for it, but science was pain ; it has extinguished diseases; it has in- made for man; it is like the thermom creased the fertility of the soi]; it has given eters and piles which it constructs for new securities to the mariner ; it has furnished new arms to the warrior; it has spanned great its own experiments ; its whole glory, rivers ard estuaries with bridges of form un- merit, and office, is to be an instruknown to our fathers; it has guided the thun- ment: derboit innocuously from heaven to earth ; it has lighted up the night with the splendour of

“ We have sometimes thought that an amn:us. the day; it has extended the range of the hu- ing fiction might be written, in which a disciple pan vision ; it has multiplied the power of the of Epictetus and a disciple of Bacon should be human muscles; it has accelerated motion; it introduced as fellow-travellers. They come to has annihilated distance ; it has facilitated in

a village where the small-pox has just begun to tercourse, correspondence, ail friendly offices, rage, and

find houses shut up, intercourse susall despatch of business ; it has enabled man pended, the sick abandoned, mothers weeping to descend to the depths of the sea, to soar into

in terror over their children. The Stoic assures the air, to penetrate securely into the noxious the dismayed population that there is nothing recesses of the earth, to traverse the land in bad in the small-pox, and that to a wise man cars which whirl along without horses, and the disease, deformity, death, the loss of friends ocean in ships which run ten knots an hour are not evils. The Baconian takes out a lanagainst the wind."

cet and begins to vaccinate. They find a body

of miners in great dismay. An explosion of * Macaulay's Works, ed. Lady Trevelyan, 8 noisome vapours has just killed many of thou vo!s. 1866; Essay on Bacon, vi. 232.

who were at work and the survivors are afraid

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »