Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

replied the haughty conqueror. They trembled and retired.

GIBBON, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

BIOGRAPHY.

Though we allowl that biography is in dignity inferior to history and annals, in pleasure and instruction it equals, or even excels, both of them. It is not only commended 3 by ancient practice to celebrate the memory of great and worthy men, as the best thanks4 which posterity can pay them, but also the examples of virtue are of more vigours when they are thus contracted into individuals. As7 the sunbeams, united into a burning-glass to a point,& have greater force than when they are darted from a plain superficies, so the virtues and actions of one man, drawn together into a single story, strike 10 upon our minds a stronger and more lively impression than the scattered relations of many men and many actions; and by the same means that they give us pleasure, they afford us profit too. For when the understanding is intent and fixed ll on a single thing, 12 it carries closer to the mark ; 13 every part of the object sinks into it,14 and the soul receives it unmixed and whole. For this reason 15 Aristotle commends the unity of action in a poem ; because the

.8

1 We allow, nous admettions—2 both of to be left out3 it is not only commended, elle ne se recommande pas seulement—4 thanks, tribut de reconnaissance—5 of more vigour, plus puissants—contracted, resserrés (or : résumés) — 7 as, de même que-* united ......to a point, concentrés......en une simple pointe— drawn together, rapprochées _10 strike, font-11 intent and fixed, attentivement fixé—12 thing, objet—13 it carries closer to the mark, il porte plus près du but14 sinks into it, y pénètre—15 for this reason, c'est pour cette raison que.

1

mind is not capable of digesting many things at once, nor of conceiving fully any more than one idea at a time. Whatsoever distracts the pleasure lessens it; and as the reader is more concerned at 3 one man's fortunes than those of many, so likewise the writer is more capable of making a perfect work if he confine himself to this narrow compass.

DRYDEN.

MARIE ANTOINETTE, QUEEN OF FRANCE. It is now sixteen or seventeen years since I saw the Queen of France, then the dauphiness, at Versailles ; and surely never lighted on this orb, which she hardly seemed to touch, a more delightful vision. I saw her just above the horizon, decorating and cheering the elevated sphere she just began to move in-glittering like the morning star, full of life, and splendour, and joy. Oh! what a revolution! And what a heart must I have, to contemplate without emotion that elevation and that fall ! Little did I

! dream,” when she added titles of veneration to that enthusiastic, distant, respectful love, that she should ever be obliged to carry the sharp antidote against disgrace concealed in that bosom; little did I dream that I should have lived to see 6 such disasters fallen? upon her in 8 a nation of men of honour and of cavaliers. I thought ten thousand swords must have leaped from their scabbards to avenge even a look

1 Any to be left out—2 at a time, à la fois-—3 is more concerned at, prend plus d'intérêt à.

4 Since, que—5 little did I dream, j'étais loin de songer—6 that I should have lived to see, que jamais de ma vie je verrais—7 fallen, tomber—8 in, chez_9 must have leaped, auraient bondi.

6

that threatened her with insult. But the

But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded ; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever. Never, never more shall we beholds that generous loyalty to* rank and sex, that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom. The unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise is gone! It is gone, that sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour, which felt a stain like a wound, which inspired courage whilst it mitigated ferocity, which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which6 vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness.

EDMUND BURKE.

CHIVALRY AND MODERN MANNERS.

The collision of armed multitudes terminated in unforeseen excesses and execrable crimes. In the eyes of Mr. Burke, however, these crimes and excesses assume an aspect far more important than can be communicated to them by their own insulated guilt. They form, in his opinion, the crisis of a revolution far more important than any change of government—a revolution in which the sentiments and opinions that have formed the manners of the

9

| Threatened, menaçat— gone, passé_3 never more shall we behold, jamais plus nous ne verrons—4 to, envers—5 is gone, a disparu— under which, sous l'influence de laquelle.

7 Terminated in, aboutit à—8 in the eye, aux yeux-than, etc..... guilt, que celui que peut leur donner leur caractère, pris isolément.

3

European nations are to perish.' “ The age of chivalry is gone, and the glory of Europe extinguished for ever.” He follows this exclamation by 3 an eloquent eulogium on chivalry, and by gloomy predictions of 4 the future state of Europe, when the nation that has been so long accustomed to give her the tone in arts and manners is thus debased and corrupted. A caviller might remark that ages much

. more near the meridian fervour of chivalry than ours have witnessed a treatment of queens as little gallant and generous as that of 5 the Parisian mob. He might remind Mr. Burke that in the age and country of Sir Philip Sydney, a queen of France, whom no blindness to accomplishments, no malignity of detraction, could reduce to? the level of Maria Antoinette, was, by a 8 “nation of men of honour and cavaliers," permitted too languish in captivity, and expire on a scaffold; and he might add, that the manners of a country are more surely indicated by the systematic cruelty of a sovereign, than by the licentious frenzy of a mob. He might remark, that the mild system of modern manners which survived the massacres with which fanaticism had for a century desolated and almost barbarized Europe, 10 might perhaps resist the shock of one day's excesses committed by a delirious populace.

SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH,“ Vindiciæ Gallicæ."

1 In which......are to perish, dans laquelle doivent périr...... - he follows, il fait suivre by, de- of, sur—o have witnessed, etc...... that of, ont vu traiter des reines avec aussi peu de galanterie et de générosité que l'a faitmo no blindness to accomplishments

, ni une injustice aveugle pour ses qualités– could reduce to, ne sauraient faire descendre à — by a, au milieu d'une –9 permitted to, condamnée à10 with which, etc...... Europe, par lesquels le fanatisme avait durant un siècle ensanglanté et presque abruti l'Europe.

CHARACTER OF MAHOMET.

If we are far from considering Mahomet the gross and impious impostor that some have represented him, so also are we indisposed to give him credit for? vast forecast, and for that deeply-concerted scheme of universal conquest which has been ascribed to him. He wag3 undoubtedly a man of great genius and a suggestive imagination ; but it appears to us that he was, in a great degree, the creature of impulse and excitement, and very much at the mercy of circumstances. His schemes grew out of his fortunes, and not his fortunes out of his schemes. He was forty years of age before5 he first broached his doctrines. He suffered year after year to steal away before he promulgated them out of his own family. When he fled from Mecca, thirteen years had elapsed from the announcement of his mission, and, from being a wealthy merchant, he had sunk to be a 8 ruined fugitive. When he reachedo Medina he had no idea of the worldly power that awaited him; his only thought was to build a humble mosque where he might preach; and his only hope that he might be suffered to 10 preach with impunity. When power suddenly broke upon him, 11 he used it for a time in petty forays and local feuds. His military plans

2

5

6

| That some have represented him, que quelques uns ont vu en lui80 also, etc...... for, nous ne sommes guère disposé non plus à lui accorder le mérite de—3 he was, c'était- + his, etc......schemes, ce fut sa fortune qui suscita ses plans et non ses plans qui fondèrent sa fortune ~5 before, lorsque—6 he, etc......to steal away, il laissa s'écouler de nombreuses années— Mecca, la Mecque-8 and from, ete......to be a, du rang de riche négociant il était tombé à l'état de— when he reached, à son arrivée à_io that he might be suffered to, qu'on le laisserait _11 when power suddenly broke upon him, quand le pouvoir lui tomba tout-à-coup dans les mains.

« AnteriorContinuar »