« السابقةمتابعة »
behind at the dearly-bought grandeur that has passed away? There are signs that he who runs may read. Their recently revived call for free institutions is owing far less to the love of liberty than to the loss of military prestige. Personal government, rudely shaken by the Mexican expedition, received its death-blow at Sadowa, which threw Magenta and Solferino into the shade. France is kept awake by thinking of the trophies of Prussia, and cannot rest under the thought that she is no longer indisputably the first military nation in the world. If the Continent is to be again turned into one huge battlefield, it will be to satisfy this fantastic point of honour.1
By way of striking a congenial chord, the founder of the Second Empire, whose head is never turned like his uncle's, wrote thus :
Palace of the Tuileries, April 12, 1869. · MONSIEUR LE MINISTRE,—On the 15th of August next a hundred years will have elapsed since the Emperor Napoleon was born. During that long period many ruins have been accumulated, but the grand figure of Napoleon has remained, upstanding. It is that which still guides and protects usit is that which, out of nothing, has made me what I am.
To celebrate the centenary date of the birth of the man who called France the great nation, because he had developed in her those manly virtues which found empires, is for me a sacred duty, in which the entire country will desire to join. ...
My desire is that from the 15th of August next every soldier of the Republic and of the First Empire should receive an annual pension of 250 francs. ...
To awaken grand historical recollections, is to encourage faith in the future; and to do honour to the memory of great men is to recognise one of the most striking manifestations of the Divine will.'
1 Four months after this was written, France declared war against Germany, for no intelligible cause except that her military or national honour was fancied to be at stake.
To what does the grand figure point? In what sense does it guide and protect? What are the manly virtues that found empires on cannon-balls and bayonets? How is it a pious duty to do honour to such manifestations of the Divine will ?
• If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
If we recognise the hand of Providence in these scourges of our race, are we also bound to praise, honour, and worship them ? To do so would be to imitate the barbarians who select for their fondest adoration the fetish or idol they think most capable of working evil. This tendency of the human mind to form for itself malevolent and maleficent deities to be propitiated by blood and pain, has led an eminent writer and thinker to contend that natural religion has done more harm than good, has proved, in fact, little better than a curse. Whatever may be objected to his argument, we deem it quite conclusive against that popular faith, or superstition, which erects a temple to imperialism and places the grand figure' of Napoleon on the shrine.
i Napoleon the Third has done his best to perpetuate this superstition, which is far from dying out. In his last will, after recommending his son, the Prince Imperial, to penetrate himself' with the writings of the prisoner of St. Helena, he says: "You must reflect that, from the Heavens on high, those whom you have loved look down on you and protect you. It is the soul of my Great Uncle that has always inspired and sustained me. It will be the same with my son, for he will be always worthy of his name.' To apply a familiar distinction—if they are now looking at all, they are more likely to be looking up than down, although the confident expectation of the adoring nephew seemed to be that he should be seated in Heaven alongside of the Great Uncle, like The Son on the right hand of The Father.
VICISSITUDES OF FAMILIES: ENGLISH, SCOTCH,
IRISH, AND CONTINENTAL NOBILITY.
(FROM THE QUARTERLY REVIEW FOR APRIL, 1860.)
Vicissitudes of Families and other Essays. By Sir BERNARD BURKE, Ulster King of Arms, author of The Peerage.' Third edition. London, 1859.
ALTHOUGH the primary moral inculcated by this book may be familiar enough, the incidental trains of thought and inquiry suggested by it are by no means equally trite, and we incline to rank them amongst the most curious and important it is well possible to pursue. When we read of the rise and fall of illustrious houses, of the elevation and extinction of historic names, of the different sources and varying fortunes of nobility, we are insensibly led on to speculate on the political, social, and moral uses of the institution, on the nature and tendency of blood and race, on the genuine meaning and philosophy of what is called Birth, and on the comparative force of the distinction in the leading communities that have more or less adopted it. Is its influence increasing or on the wane? Is it a blessing or a curse to humanity ? Should it be encouraged in old countries or discredited in new? Is it essential to constitutional monarchy? Is it incompatible with republican freedom? What have inherited honours and ancient lineage done for civilisation, for science and learning, for politeness and the fine arts ? Or, admitting what can hardly be denied, that privileged classes have been eminently useful in certain stages of progress, has their vocation, like that of the monastic
orders in the dark ages, passed away, become a dead letter, or grown absolutely mischievous, since the discovery of representative assemblies and a free press ? When, again, is or has been the pride of ancestry carried furthest, and where does it rest on the most solid foundation as regards either purity of lineage, public services, or popular esteem?
Looking at the number of family histories recently printed,' we feel we are no longer called upon to defend genealogical studies from the imputation of dulness, dryness, or barrenness. One thing, at least, may be confidently predicated concerning them. The sentiment, instinct, or prejudice on which they mainly rely, would seem to be implanted in mankind, and to be elicited and fostered instead of deadened by intellectual progress. We may trace its influence on the most thoughtful, self-relying, and comprehensive minds, including Bishop Watson, Franklin, Gibbon, and Burke. It is all very well to disclaim the 'avos, et proavos, et quæ non fecimus ipsi,' or to repeat complacently the
i One of the most remarkable, a handsome quarto of 400 pages, is entitled 'Stemmata Botevilliana : Memorials of the Families of de Boteville, Thynne, and Botfield. By Beriuh Botfield. London, 1860.' In this work the founder of the noble family of Thyone is stated to be John de Boteville, or de Botefelet, who, temp. Edward IV., became popularly known successively as of the Inn,' th' Inn,' Thynn.'
Scotch family history has been enriched by The Stirlings of Keir, and their Family Papers. By William Fraser' (not published): and • The Montgomeries Earls of Eglinton,' by the same learned and accurate writer. Sir George Stirling of Keir, the lineal ancestor of Sir William Stirling Maxwell, Bart., was the friend and companion in arms of the great Marquis of Montrose ; and a Montgomery is said to have held high command under the Conqueror at Hastings. The multiplication of family histories is not confined to the Old World. Pedigree-hunting has become quite a mania in the United States, where it would seem that the best English blood, as well as the purest English accent, has been preserved. As one instance amongst many, we may cite. The Brights of Suffolk, England: by J. B. Bright, of Boston'-a royal octavo of 345 pages. The English branches are described as extinct, and the author tacitly repudiates any relationship with the most distinguished bearer of the name, whose opinions might have been expected to endear him to his American cousins.
familiar couplet in which Howards' rhymes to · cowards, or to congratulate a millionaire, whether he relishes the compliment or not, on his being the architect of his own fortune. The odds are that he is already in treaty with the Heralds' College for a coatof-arms, and looking about for proofs of his descent paternally or maternally from some extinct family in the class of gentry.
Nor should we be disposed to set down this tendency as altogether a sign of weakness or poverty of mind, when we find Byron prouder of his pedigree than of his poems, and the author of · Waverley' risking absolute ruin in the hope of being the founder of a new line of lairds. Yet how tottering and precarious, in the great majority of instances, are these ideal edifices ! how misplaced the ambition, how illusory the hope! Newstead has been in the market twice within living memory; and the Scotts of Abbotsford, in the true feudal acceptation of the term, exist no longer. Their fate is far from singular. Indeed, it is quite startling, on going over the beadroll of English worthies, to find how few are directly represented in the male line. Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Raleigh, Sidney, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Addison, Bacon, Coke, Hale, Holt, Locke, Milton, Newton, Cromwell, Hampden, Blake, Marlborough, Peterborough, Nelson, Wolfe, Clarendon, Hume, Gibbon, Johnson, Burke, Goldsmith, Pitt, Fox, are obvious instances, and the list might be indefinitely prolonged. As the most eminent have left no issue, the problem, how far female descent may be admitted to supply the failure of male, might safely be left unsolved. But much of what we are about to say would appear confused or unintelligible unless we came to a clear preliminary understanding as to the precise meaning of lineage, ancestry, and birth.
We submit, then, that the distinction itself—a purely conventional creation—cannot exist at all, except