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EDINBURGH: W. OLIPHANT AND CO.
CONTENTS OF NO. LXXIII.
JANUARY 1, 1863.
ART. I.--Histoire du Consulat et de l'Empire.
Tome XX. Bruxelles. 1862.
Par A. THIERS.
SURROUNDED by the applause of his countrymen, and subsidised from Imperial resources, M. Thiers has doubtless laid down his pen with the conviction that The Consulate and the Empire' is one of the masterpieces of history. We would acquiesce in this estimate, could brilliant narrative, lucid arrangement, and a style as easy as that of Livy, entitle a work to a rank so illustrious. Unfortunately, however, honesty and insight are the first requisites of a great historian, and M. Thiers is so wanting in these that, notwithstanding his rhetorical gifts, he is really like one of those 'talebearing sophists' who earned the lofty scorn of Thucydides, as colouring their facts to suit their thesis. Instead of being a faithful description of the grand drama of 1799–1815, combined with a calm and deep analysis of its causes, tendencies, and principal actors, and a candid judgment on its general results, these twenty volumes are a glittering misrepresentation of the history of Europe throughout that period, a shallow and superficial estimate of all that requires criticism within the time, and a thoroughly immoral and pernicious tribute to national vanity and military despotism, so long, that is, as it is successful. Indeed, setting other demerits aside, M. Thiers's avowed political ethics, and his tone with respect to everything French, are enough to stamp his great work as bad in tendency and false in its conclusions.
The 'first philosophy' of this history, for instance, is, that all that tends to the aggrandizement of France, consistently with her safety at least, is in harmony with the nature of things, and