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furiously. Amidst the most frightful riot of a sitting, I have seen him in the tribune, dark, hideous, and motionless; he reminded me of the Chaos of Milton, impassible and shapeless-the centre of his own confusion.
"Twice did I meet Mirabeau at an entertainment; on one occasion at the house of Voltaire's niece, the Marchioness de Villette; on another, at the Palais Royal, with deputies of the opposition, with whom Chapelain had made me acquainted. Chapelain was conveyed to the scaffold on the same tumbrel with M. de Malesherbes and my own brother.
"Our discussion after dinner turned upon the subject of Mirabeau's enemies; I happened to be next to him; and, with the timidity of a young man, unknown to all, had not uttered a word. He looked me full in the face with his eyes of wickedness and genius, and, laying his broad hand upon my shoulder, said, 'They will never forgive me my superiority.' Methinks I still feel the impression of that hand, as if Satan had touched me with his fiery claw.
"Too soon for his own sake, too late for that of the court, Mirabeau sold himself to the latter, and the court bought him over. He hazarded the stake of his fame for the prospect of a pension and an embassy; Cromwell was at the point of exchanging his future prospects for a title and the order of the garter. Notwithstanding his pride, he did not set a sufficient value upon himself; the superabundance of money and of places has since raised the price of men's consciences.
"Death released Mirabeau from his promises, and rescued him from dangers which he would probably have been unable to overcome: his life would have demonstrated his incapacity for good; by his death he was left in the height of his power for evil." Vol. II. pp. 158–161.
A portrait of a Vendean is equally striking.
"Whilst residing in London in 1798, I once met, at the residence of the chargé d'affaires of the French princes, a crowd of dealers in counterrevolutions. There stood in the corner a man, who appeared to be from thirty to thirty-five years of age, unnoticed by all, and whose whole attention was fixed upon an engraving of the death of General Wolfe. Struck with his appearance, I enquired who he was. One of my neighbours replied, 'He is nobody-a Vendean peasant; the bearer of a letter from his chiefs.'
"This man, who was nobody, had witnessed the death of Cathelineau, the first general of La Vendée, and a peasant like himself; of Bonchamp, in whom Bayard seemed to have revived; of Lescure, armed with a hair-cloth, which was not proof against a ball; of Elbée, shot in an armchair, his wounds preventing him from encountering death standing; of La Rochejaquelin, whose dead body was ordered by the patriots to be verified, with a view to tranquillize the convention in the midst of its victories over Europe. This man, who was nobody, had assisted at the two hundred captures and recaptures of towns, villages, and redoubts; at the seven hundred partial actions and the seventeen general engagements; he had taken part in the struggles against three hundred thousand regulars, and six or seven hundred thousand forced levies and national guards; had helped to carry off five hundred pieces of cannon, and a hundred and fifty thousand muskets; had forced his way through the infernal columns, companies of incendiaries headed by conventionalists; had found himself in the midst of the ocean of fire, which thrice rolled its waves over the woods of La Vendée; lastly, he had witnessed the destruction of three hundred thousand Hercules of the plough, companions of his labours, and had seen a hundred square leagues of country converted into a wilderness of ashes.
"The two Frances met on this soil which they had thus leveled. Whatever remained of old blood and of recollections in the France of the Crusades, struggled against the new blood and the hopes put forth by revolutionary France. The victor was sensible of the dignity of the conquered: Thurot, the general of the republicans, declared that history would assign to the Vendeans the first rank among military populations.' Another general wrote to Merlin, of Thionville; Troops that have defeated Frenchmen, such as these, may well hope to conquer all other nations.' The legions of Probus said as much, in their songs, respecting our forefathers. The battles of La Vendée were called by Bonaparte 'Battles of Giants.'
"I was the only one of the crowd in the apartments who looked with admiration and respect upon the representative of those boors of old who, whilst breaking the yoke of their lords, repelled, under Charles V., the invasion of foreigners; I fancied I beheld in him an inhabitant of those communes which, aided by the petty provincial nobility, in the days of Charles VII., reconquered, furrow by furrow, inch by inch, the territory of France. He had that air of indifference which marks the savage; his eye was gray and inflexible as an iron rod; his lower lip trembled under his clenched teeth; his hair fell from his head like snakes, benumbed but ready to rear themselves; his arms, hanging by his side, gave a nervous shock to enormous fists slashed with sabre cuts; he might have been taken for a sawyer. His physiognomy expressed a plebeian rustic nature, brought by a moral force into the service of interests and ideas at variance with that nature; the unaffected fidelity of the vassal, the simple faith of the Christian, were blended in him with rude plebeian independence, accustomed to value itself, and to revenge its own wrongs. His sense of liberty seemed to spring from the consciousness of the strength of his arm and of the intrepidity of his heart. He was as silent as a lion, scratched himself like a lion, yawned like a lion, stretched on his side like a wearied lion, and appeared to dre of blood and forests; his intelligence was akin to that of death. What men were the French of those days, be their party what it might, and what a race have we become at the present day! But the republicans had their principle in them, in the very midst of them, whereas the principle of the royalists was out of France. The Vendeans sent deputations to the emigrants; the giants sent to solicit leaders from the pigmies. The rustic messenger I was contemplating had taken the revolution by the throat; he had exclaimed 'Come in; pass behind me; it will not hurt you; it shall not stir; I have a strong hold of it.' No one was willing to pass; Jacques Bonhomme then released the revolution from his gripe, and Charette shivered his sword." Vol. II. pp. 179–182.
But for the space we have consumed, we should extract the whole of what Chateaubriand says about himself and Lord Byron. It is one of the most amusing specimens of restless vanity we recollect ever to have encountered. He admires Byron much; and is somewhat afraid that the admiration was not reciprocal. Lord Byron never mentioned or even alluded to him in his writings. That so distinguished a man, as the viscount regards himself to be, should have been passed by unnoticed, without some very good reason, is incredible. What, then, was the reason? Perhaps he had unintentionally offended the English bard. He never acknowledged the receipt of a
copy of his early poems, and perhaps Byron was hurt at the neglect. Perhaps his works furnished too many ideas and sentiments to his contemporary, who, having pilfered from his rich stores, was ashamed to acknowledge him as an acquaintance. Perhaps Byron never heard of him; or dreaded his superior genius. None of these "perhaps" seem completely to satisfy even Chateaubriand himself, and as Byron is dead, the poor viscount is likely never to have his mind put at ease upon this deeply interesting portion of English literature. We pity him much--for "a wounded spirit who can bear?"
ART. IV.―Astoria; or, Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky mountains. By WASHINGTON IRVING. 2 vols. 12mo. Philadelphia: 1836.
We hail with great pleasure the appearance of a work, recommended at once by the general favour of the author, by the novelty and romantic interest of its incidents and details, and by the congeniality of the great enterprise which is its general subject, to the genius and tendencies of the age-for commerce is the visible body in which the spirit of the age, so constantly talked about, is most often manifested; commerce, which enriches nations, strengthens defence, averts war, and fertilizes peace; commerce, which stimulates the inertness of man's nature through his wants, till he reaches out his hand over half the world to his brother; commerce is the dominant principle of the time. The fame of the conqueror is a song, and happily now dying away, with the shrieks and groans that were its burden; and the craft of the diplomatist is become an evil savour; but the merchant is merciful and he inherits the earth, going forth with benefit and reciprocity, and reaping where he has not sowed by the glad consent of those who have. The armed combinations of miscalled merchants, in reality, pirates, have passed away they ravaged India and South America, they had plunder abroad to sustain them, and taxation and monopoly at home, but their military vices and diplomatic pride wasted their resources and laid their prosperity in the dust. Individual enterprise will step into their places and repair the mischief they have done; it will introduce instruction where monopolies cherished ignorance, and raise up
industry and prosperity where tyranny brooded over barbarism. Commerce can never appear to the world in its own dimensions, efficiency and beauty, till it is completely emancipated from all subjection to power, and completely dissevered from all connection with it. It is so here, or nearly so; more nearly than any where else in the world; and here, accordingly, it is held in honour and reputation, it ennobles and liberalizes and elevates its professors, and fills every man's hand with blessings, which he distributes gladly, with the sower's confidence that they will spring up to his hand again. But widely different is the state of things existing where trade is made the slave of military force, or the thrall of aristocratic stagnation, rendering toilsomely an unthanked service, and only suffered to drag on a despised and precarious existence. So it is in Russia, Germany and Italy, so it was in France and Belgium, and though its fetters are now deemed to be knocked off, their brands still remain, and the iron has entered into its soul. Under arbitrary power, however, there is still the apology of constraint; but there is a worse light in which commerce may stand before the world, and in which, to those who have not seen its better face, it seems like the impersonation of the destroying angel. This is when it becomes the ally of power, and the two principles corrupt each other; neutralizing each other's benefits, and aggravating to the utmost each other's tendencies to evil. Commerce then becomes the tempter, and power the spoiler ; the trader's avidity is the fiery eye of the fiend, and the rulers force is his iron claw, and no heart of man possessing both ever did or ever can restrain them from robbery and oppression. The worst form, because the most energetic, in which these combinations can appear, is that of a royal monopoly in an arbitrary government. Of the effects of this all the Spanish American colonies can tell; and long, very long will it be, freed as they now are, before its traces disappear from among them. The next form is that of chartered companies, with political powers and functions, of which the most conspicuous examples are the British and Dutch East India Companies: for the proceedings of the former of which, those who wish to sup full of horrors may look into Burke and Sheridan, and the evidence on the trial of Warren Hastings. Chartered companies, with simple privilege of exclusion, come next in the scale of dishonesty and mischief; institutions of which an old saw says wisely, that they are exempt from the responsibilities of soul and body; and it leaves you to infer that they do what none would dare to do that had either. In the progress of the narrative under consideration, we shall encounter such a company, and we shall have occasion to contrast their conduct with that of an individual with whom they come, in
the course of trade, into competition and collision, and we shall find it no exception to the rule. The individual merchant is frank, liberal, and above board: he depends on his own skill and resources, and the fair principles of trade, for his success; and is willing his rivals should succeed too, if they can. Their spirit, on the contrary, is grasping and crushing; they importune their governments to turn the storm of war upon his colony; they stimulate the zeal of the naval heroes sent to destroy it by illusory tales of plunder to be obtained, and at the same time they hustle the property which was to supply that plunder by a legerdemain treaty, by bribery and fraud, into their own pockets; thus balking the legalised piracy of its prey, after using its terrors to aid their underhand proceedings. And the result is, that an enterprise fails in which many interests of this country, and vast schemes of ambition, and honour of its projector, were bound up together; an enterprise which ought to have succeeded upon all the rules by which human foresight and opinion are usually guided, which was wisely planned, and vigorously sustained, but was met, time after time, by fresh and various calamities, and only betrayed and crushed at last by the treachery of a trusted agent, when success was within its reach. Mr. Irving says:
"It is painful, at all times, to see a grand and beneficial stroke of genius fail of its aim: but we regret the failure of this enterprise in a national point of view; for, had it been crowned with success, it would have redounded greatly to the advantage nnd extension of our commerce. The profits drawn from the country in question by the British Fur Company, though of ample amount, form no criterion by which to judge of the advantages that would have arisen had it been entirely in the hands of citizens of the United States. That company, as has been shown, is limited in the nature and scope of its operations, and can make but little use of the maritime facilities held out by an emporium and a harbour on that coast. In our hands, beside the roving bands of trappers and traders, the country would have been explored and settled by industrious husbandmen; and the fertile valleys bordering its rivers, and shut up among its mountains, would have been made to pour forth their agricultural treasures to contribute to the general wealth.
"In respect to commerce, we should have had a line of trading posts. from the Mississippi and the Missouri across the Rocky mountains. forming a high road from the great regions of the west to the shores of the Pacific. We should have had a fortified post and port at the mouth of the Columbia, commanding the trade of that river and its tributaries, and of a wide extent of country and sea-coast; carrying on an active and profitable commerce with the Sandwich islands, and a direct and frequent communication with China. In a word, Ástoria might have realized the anticipation of Mr. Astor, so well understood and appreciated by Mr. Jefferson, in gradually becoming a commercial empire beyond the mountains, peopled by free and independent Americans, and linked with us by ties of blood and interest."" Vol. II. p. 261.
Many of our readers, probably, know something in general