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destiny, suffered to aid its popular ambition. Europe never teemed with more illustrious discoveries: the whole range of the sciences, from the simplest application of human ingenuity up to the most sublime trials of the intellect, found enthusiastic and successful votaries: the whole circle was a circle of living flame. The French philosophers collected the contributions of all Europe, and, by embodying them in one magnificent work, claimed for themselves the peculiar guardianship and supremacy of human genius. Law, policy, and religion, had long possessed their codes: the French philosophers boasted that in the Encyclopédie" they had first given the code of science. With all our hatred of the evil purposes of Diderot and D'Alembert, and all our present scorn of the delusions which their fierce malignity was devised to inflict upon mankind, it is impossible to look upon their labours without wonder. France had within a few years outstripped all competition in the higher branches of mathematical learning, a pursuit eminently fitted to the fine subtlety of the national genius: but she now invaded the more stubborn precincts of English and German research; seized upon chemistry and natural history; and, by the success of Lavoisier and Buffon, gave science a new and eloquent power of appeal to the reason and imagination of
A multitude of minor triumphs, in the various provinces of invention, sustained the general glow of the scientific world; but all were to be extinguished, or rather raised into new lustre, by three almost contemporaneous discoveries, which to this hour excite astonishment, and which, at some future time decreed for the sudden advancement of the human mind to its full capacity of knowledge, may be among the noblest instruments of our mastery of nature. Those three were, Franklin's conductors, Mongolfier's balloon, and Herschel's Georgium sidus. Never was there an invention so completely adapted to inflame the most fantastic spirit of a fantastic people as the balloon. It absolutely crazed all France-king, philosophers, and populace. The palpable powers of this fine machine, its beauty as an object, the theatrical nature of the spectacle presented at the ascents, the brilliant temerity of the aerial navigators, soliciting the perils of an untried element, and rising to make the conquest of an unexplored region in a floating "argosie" of silk and gold, rich as the pavilions of a Persian king, filled the quick fancy of France with dreams. A march to the moon, or a settlement among the stars, was scarcely too high for the national hope. The secrets of the atmosphere were only lingering for French discovery; but the immediate propagation of the French name and power through the earth was regarded less as a probable achievement than as
an inevitable result of this most dazzling of all inventions.*
Among the innumerable observations to which those discoveries gave rise, it was remarked that there was something of curious appropriateness in their respective countries.-That the young audacity of America claimed the seizure of the lightning; a sentiment not forgotten in Franklin's motto:
"Eripuit cælo fulmen, sceptrumque tyrannis."
That the balloon was an emblem of the showy volatility and ambitious restlessness of France : - while the discovery of a new planet, the revelation of a new throne of brightness and beauty in the firmament, was not unsuited to the solemn thought and religious dignity of the people of England.
But to England was given the substantial triumph: Cook's southern discoveries were made in this era; and the nation justly hailed them, less as cheering proofs of British intelligence and enterprise, than as a great providential donative
The topic superseded all others for the time. The answer of one of the city members to Lord Mansfield was a long-standing jest against the city. The earl, meeting him immediately on his return from France, asked, "Was the Anglomanie as prevalent as ever?" The honest citizen not recognising the word, and conceiving that France could furnish but one theme, answered, "that Anglomanies were to be seen every day in some part of Paris, and that he had seen a prodigious one go up on the day he left it."
of empire-dominion over realms without limit, and nations without number, a new and superb portion of the universe, unveiled by science, and given into the tutelar hand of the British people, for the propagation of British arts and arms through the world, and for an eternal repository of our laws, our literature, and our religion.
The peace of 1782 threw open the continent; and it was scarcely proclaimed, when France was crowded with the English nobility. Versailles was the centre of all that was sumptuous in Europe. The graces of the young queen, then in the pride of youth and beauty; the pomp of the royal family and the noblesse; and the costliness of the fêtes and celebrations, for which France has been always famous, rendered the court the dictator of manners, morals, and politics, to all the higher ranks of the civilised world. But the Revolution was now hastening with the strides of a giant upon France: the torch was already waving over the chambers of this morbid and guilty luxury. The corrective was terrible: history has no more stinging retrospect than the contrast of that brilliant time with the days of shame and agony that followed-the untimely fate of beauty, birth, and heroism,—the more than serpent-brood that started up in the path which France once emulously covered with flowers for the step of her rulers, the hideous suspense of the dungeon, -the heart-broken farewell to life
and royalty upon the scaffold. But France was the grand corruptor; and its supremacy must in a few years have spread incurable disease through the moral frame of Europe.
The English men of rank brought back with them its dissipation and its infidelity. The immediate circle of the English court was clear. The grave virtue of the king held the courtiers in awe; and the queen, with a pious wisdom, for which her name should long be held in honour, indignantly repulsed every attempt of female levity to approach her presence. But beyond this sacred circle the influence of foreign association was felt through every class of society. The great body of the writers of England, the men of whom the indiscretions of the higher ranks stand most in awe, had become less the guardians than the seducers of the public mind. The "Encyclopédie," the code of rebellion and irreligion still more than of science, had enlisted the majority
in open scorn of all that the heart should practise or the head revere; and the Parisian atheists scarcely exceeded the truth, when they boasted of erecting a temple that was to be frequented by worshippers of every tongue. A cosmopolite, infidel republic of letters was already lifting its front above the old sovereignties, gathering under its banners a race of mankind new to public struggle, the whole secluded, yet jealous and vexed race of labourers in the intellectual field,