Imagens das páginas

We cannot refrain from giving a slight sketch of the subsequent proceedings of the Erigone. Leaving Chusan she followed in the wake of the British squadron to Shang-hai; occasionally showing off and playing all manner of pranks to convince our jolly tars how little her crew understood of nautical affairs. Her mission, however, was political; she had instructions from home. "After our gallant admiral and his compeers," says an eye-witness, in a document in our possession," had proceeded up the river, and after his Excellency Sir Henry Pottinger had issued that noble proclamation, off the mouth of Woosungy river, which opened the eyes of the Chinese government to the occasion of the quarrel, and to the just and honest demands of Great Britain, the French commodore sent ashore a proclamation, generously offering his aid to act as umpire between China and England! On Mr. Morrison's return to Shang-hai, I put a copy of this into his hands, for he had not seen it, and it excited his surprise not a little. I asked an intelligent Chinese, who was then on the spot, to give me his impression of it. He replied: The French are evidently jealous that England will reap all the benefits of future trade with our country.'

[ocr errors]

The monstrous piece of impertinence we have related was passed over with the scorn it deserved. But the French commodore was neither rebuffed nor offended. It entered into his plan, the plan we mean that had been laid down for him, to expose the name of France to obloquy, in the desperate attempt to do injury to the British. Her reputation was not so tender and unspotted that a little exposure could do it much material damage. Like an old battered coquette, her character could not be much the worse for a little rough handling. Accordingly, the worthy commodore, insensible to affront, impervious to the shafts of ridicule, resolved to follow us up the river. That his presence was not indispensable, he had previously received an intimation, which he managed to extract by a piece of sang-froid unparalleled, actually sending to H. E. Sir W. Parker, to know if he might count on the assistance of his steamers, in case the amateur Erigone should run on any the sandbanks in the Yang-tse-Kiang. He was politely informed in reply, that he could count on no such assistance. However, up he determined to go, conscious that no French ship of war would ever dare again to venture on the same enterprise; up we say he ventured to proceed under the protection of the British fleet, carefully keeping back until the fighting was over, and then following to perform the only things we had left undone to insult the unfortunate Chinese, to rob and to plunder. The Erigone at last reached the neighbourhood of Nankin, where she was received with cool indifference by the British, which provoked Commodore


Exploits of Commodore Cecile.


Cecile exceedingly. He did not think that his achievement was received with the laudation it merited; and, certainly, if we measure his capacity with his deeds, we must acknowledge that he had performed something wonderful. It was not given to every Frenchman to sneak up at the tail of our squadron to the renowned city of Nankin. Few also among that nation can boast of the audacity which induced Commodore Cecile, unexpected, unbidden, to pull, in spite of remonstrance, past the sentinels, who yielded to his obstinacy from mere courtesy, and to climb up the side of H. M. S. Cornwallis, where the treaty-convocation was being held, into the midst of which he actually thrust himself, to the astonishment of Sir Henry Pottinger and the wonder of the grave Elipoo.

All this, however, would have been comparatively harmless, but for what succeeded. When the negotiations had been concluded, when the treaty had been signed, when the British ships, one by one, had dropped down the river, still the Erigone tarried. Her gallant commodore was endeavouring to discover some mode of distinguishing himself before he left. But at Nankin this could not be found. Accordingly, he was compelled at length to weigh anchor. It would not have been prudent to stay too long behind his guardians. Well, he arrived at Golden Island' off Chin-kean-fu. Here was a superb Chinese library, over which his Excellency Sir W. Parker had set a guard of marines, and the gate of which he had sealed up, ordering it not to be touched unless terms were not come to, in which case the volumes would have been removed to England. By this time, however, the guard had been withdrawn, and accordingly the French commodore, actuated by the love of science, and committing a dishonest act in the interest of philology, went with a party to the island and meanly stole the contents of the library. To this they may have been impelled by another motive, besides those we have named-a desire, namely, to injure our character; as the Chinese of those parts, never having heard of France, would naturally attribute the robbery to us. The subsequent doings of the French in China it is unnecessary here to record. They have taken care to establish a consul at Canton, in the person of M. Ratti Menton, notorious for his quarrelsome disposition; and they have sent out an embassy, whose performances it is not worth while to chronicle. What we have related will be sufficient to characterise their proceedings. We have noticed them simply for the purpose of letting the public know what kind of obstructions may be thrown in the way of our continued peaceful intercourse with the Chinese.

ART. XI-1. Niebuhr's Lectures on the History of Rome, from the first Punic War to the Death of Constantine. Edited by LEONHARD SCHMITZ. Ph. D. 2 vols. London. 1844. 2. Michelet: Histoire Romaine. lère partie: République. 3 vols. Bruxelles. 1840.

3. Prosper Mérimée: Etudes sur l'Histoire Romaine. 2 vols. Paris. 1844.

4. Gallus; or, Roman Scenes of the Time of Augustus; with Notes and Excursus illustrative of the Manners and Customs of the Romans. Translated from the German of Professor BECKER. By F. METCALFE, B.A. London. 1844.

THE history of Rome is eternally new and universally interesting. Veil after veil may be withdrawn, mystery after mystery may be explored, yet there it stands, a problem endless in its variety of aspects, inexhaustible in its interest. Generations after generations exhaust their science and their learning, and leave the subject as a legacy to the science and learning of successors. As the world grows wiser, it derives deeper lessons from Roman experience; as history itself approaches nearer to the character of science, it penetrates more clearly into the mysteries of that prodigious empire. Mark Antony said, that the grandeur of Rome was seen less in what she took from, than in what she gave to the world; and he spoke truly. Every thing Rome has given to the world has been of the same stamp of greatness. Her law, her roads, her experience, political and moral, her examples of heroism and her examples of baseness. For good or for evil she has had no equal. Her greatness is of a higher cast, her profligacy of a deeper hue, than that of any nation in history. was rightly named the Eternal City: rightly was she named Paun, force for even now, when her empire has crumbled to dust, when her city is little better than a heap of ruins, even now her history holds its sway over the imaginations of men, her experience is questioned with avidity by the wise. And what a history! what experience!


A contemporary has recently raised his voice against the study of Roman and Grecian History in our colleges and schools, as tending to foster that warlike propensity which Christianity reprobates. An idle fear. Not only does Christianity, but all the tendencies of modern society, reprobate war; and when this is the case we might as well express our fear of Roman and Grecian History inculcating polytheism, as of their fostering a tendency so distinctly at variance with the peaceful fabric of society. Our youth will not learn to have a greater propensity for

Character and Value of Roman History.


war by reading Roman History; but they will learn many other things so desirable as to outweigh that objection, if indeed it were valid. They will read there the virtues of manliness: virtues so much needed and so little cultivated in modern society. They will learn to estimate patriotism. They will read, perhaps, with more dispassionate minds, the struggles which are now going on in the world, and be better able to judge of our poor laws, and corn laws, our reform bills and votes by ballot, when they see the same struggles reflected in the history of an ancient nation. They will see there every form of political error, and the tyranny which results from error; and this may open their eyes to the magnitude and nature of the political dangers of their own state. We are on a vast and stormy sea, steering towards some dim and unknown shore; others have sailed upon that sea before us, and perished miserably; but, on the rocks on which they split, beacons are now erected to warn us of the danger: beacons not less useful than the stars which guide us. Rome is a blaze of beacons.

The history of Rome is a strange story, and one profoundly tragic. There is great significance in the symbol of the wolf, which gave the Roman nursling suck, and so nourished a great, brawny, brutal race: a brutal, but a great race; a race which mastered the world because it deserved to master it; a race which first mastered the world by the sword, and afterwards by the law, conquering its conquerors and taming the savage hordes. Like the wolf, their nurse, the Romans were nourished with the blood of the human race. In the poetry of their early history, as in the terrible prosaism of the empire, we see alike the fierceness and brutality of the wolf's nursling. The very foundation stones of the city are stained with fratricidal blood. The city itself is peopled by means of the rape of the Sabines; and dishonoured by a Tullia and a Tarquin: fit preparations for the proscriptions of a Sylla, and the infinite debaucheries of the empire! And side by side with these dark pictures are the grand portraits of a Scævola, Horatius Cocles, Brutus, Cincinnatus, the Scipios, the Gracchi, Cæsar, and Marcus Antoninus; and, greater than all these, the grand figure of the Roman people. Yes, it is as Niebuhr eloquently says:

"The history of all nations of the ancient world ends in that of Rome, and that of all modern nations has grown out of that of Rome. Thus, if we compare history with history, that of Rome has the highest claims to our attention. It shows us a nation, which was in its origin small, like a grain of corn; but this originally small population waxed great, transferred its character to hundreds of thousands, and became the sovereign of nations from the rising to the setting of the sun. The whole of Western Europe adopted the language of the Romans, and its inhabitants looked upon themselves as Romans. The laws and in

stitutions of the Romans acquired such a power and durability, that
even at the present moment they still continue to maintain their in-
fluence upon millions of men. Such a development is without a pa-
rallel in history. Before this star all others fade and vanish. In ad-
dition to this, we have to consider the extraordinary greatness of the
individuals and their achievements, the extraordinary character of the
institutions which formed the groundwork of Rome's grandeur, and
those events which, in greatness surpass, all others: all this gives to
Roman history importance and durability."— Lectures,' vol. i., p. 92.
All books that treat of Rome are welcome; every man's view
of so great a subject is worthy of attention. Considering, how-
ever, the abundance of the materials, we may express our surprise
at the little that has been done to initiate us into the life of the
Romans. One of the greatest defects in Roman histories is that
they do not make Rome present to us, as an actual city, peopled
with living men.
No doubt the institutions were important; but
not less so was the character of the men who made those institu-
tions. Above all things we need a graphic picture of Rome and
its inhabitants. Both under the republic and the empire what
materials for a skilful artist, and how strangely neglected by his-
torians! Who, in reading the voluminous accounts of Rome, ever
realises to himself a precise image of the eternal city? We think
of the Forum and its noisy debates; we think of the baths and
their gossiping loungers; but do we picture the Jews lying hud-
dled on their beds of straw-the vociferating pork butchers, and
other shopkeepers, in the vicinity of the Forum-the bookstalls,
with pillars covered with placards announcing new works, a mode
of advertising still largely carried on in Paris-the public schools,
to one of which Virginia was hurrying when Appius Claudius
leered upon her-the slave-dealers the gladiators, with whom
the young nobles associated to learn from them, and practise with
them, the rules of sword exercise, useless in war, as our young nobles
formerly patronised the equally brutal members of The Fancy'—
the improvisatore, of whom Statius was the most illustrious-the
plebs, roaring out the rude satire of the Fescennine ribaldries—
the vinedressers, singing snatches of Saturnian ballads,

And troops of sun-burned husbandmen
With reaping-hooks and staves-

[ocr errors]

the assemblage of almost all the nations of the earth, from the bronze faced Numidian to the blue-eyed, fair-haired Gaul-the magnificent spectacles and gladiator fights given by the wealthy and ambitious-the bribery both of money and flattery with which the men aspiring to the honours of quæstor, or tribune, like our modern M. P's., unblushingly purchased the 'sweet voices' of the

« AnteriorContinuar »