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and Customs of its Inhabitants, and its productive
Capabilities. With a Sketch of its History, and a
Narrative of Recent Events. By T. Postans, Captain,
2. Correspondence relative to Scinde, 1838-1843.
Presented to both Houses of Parliament by com-
mand of her Majesty.
Presented to Parliament, 1844.
Arr. I.-Histoire de France. Par M. Michelet, Membre de l'Institut, Professeur d'Histoire au Collège Royal de France, Chef de la Section Historique aux Archives du Royaume. 8vo. Vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Paris : 1835–42.
T has of late been a frequent remark among Continental
thinkers, that the tendencies of the age set strongly in the direction of historical enquiry, and that history is destined to assume a new aspect from the genius and labours of the minds now devoted to its improvement. The anticipation must appear at least premature to an observer in England, confining his observation to his own country. Whatever may be the merits, in some subordinate respects, of such histories as the last twenty years have produced among us, they are in general distinguished by no essential character from the historical writings of the last century. No signs of a new school have been manifested in them; they will be affirmed by no one to constitute an era, or even prefigure the era which is to come: save that the shadow of its coming' rested for an instant on the lamented Dr Arnold, at the close of his career; while Mr Carlyle has shown a signal example, in his “ French Revolution,' of the epic tone and pictorial colouring which may be given to literal
VOL. LXXIX, NO. CLIX.
truth, when materials are copious, and when the writer combines the laborious accuracy of a chronicler, with the vivid imagination of a poet.
But whoever desires to know either the best which has been accomplished, or what the most advanced minds think it possible to accomplish, for the renovation of historical studies, must look to the Continent; and by the Continent we mean of course, in an intellectual sense, Germany and France. That there are historians in Germany, our countrymen have at last discovered. The first two volumes of Niebuhr's unfinished work, though the least attractive part to ordinary tastes, are said to have had more readers, or at least more purchasers, in English than in their native language. Of the remaining volume, a translation has lately appeared, by a different, but a highly competent hand. Schlosser, if not read, has at least been heard of in England; and one of Ranke's works has been twice translated : we would rather that two of them had been translated once. But, though French books are supposed to be sufliciently legible in England without translation, the English public is not aware, that both in historical speculations, and in the importance of her historical writings, France, in the present day, far surpasses Germany. What reason induces the educated part of our countrymen to ignore, in so determined a manner, the more solid productions of the most active national mind in Europe, and to limit their French readings to M. de Balzac and M. Eugène Sue, there would be some difficulty in precisely determining. Perhaps it is the ancient dread of French infidelity ; perhaps the ancient contempt of French frivolity and superficiality. If it be the former, we can assure them that there is no longer ground for such a feeling ; if the latter, we must be permitted to doubt that there
It is unnecessary to discuss whether, as some affirm, a strong religious revival' is taking place in France, and whether such a phenomenon, if real, is likely to be permanent. There is at least a decided reaction against the infidelity of the last age. The Voltairian philosophy is looked upon as a thing of the past ; one of its most celebrated assailants has been heard to lament, that it has no living representative sufficiently considerable to perform the functions of a constitutional opposition' against the reigning philosophic doctrines. The present French thinkers, whether receiving Christianity or not as a divine revelation, in no way feel themselves called upon to be unjust to it as a fact in history. There are men who, not disguising their own unbelief, have written deeper and finer things in vindication of what religion has done for mankind, than have sufficed to found the reputation of some of its most admired defenders. If they have