Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

slaughter by some delay that happily took place in marching out the cavalry. Apprized of the disorder in the city, and suspecting treachery, they hastily left their tents and their cattle, and fed for protection to the neighbouring mountains. The Bey, at the head of his cavalry, invested their encampment, where were collected their women and children, and such as had not time to save themselves by flight. The men and boys were instantly cut in pieces ; and the women left to the ferocious brutality of the soldiers. . · Some of the unfortunate tribe of Zoasi, who, out of curiosity, had followed their chiefs into the city, finding it impossible to rejoin their countryinen, had fled for safety to the tomb of a Maraboot. The Bey, not daring to violate this sanctuary, ordered that none should afford them any subsistence; and, having surrounded it with troops, made himself certain that famine or the sword would finally dispatch thein. The whole city was tacitly interested in the fate of these unhappy men. On the third day there burst from the tomb a fine spring of water, and on the surrounding ground were strewed dates, and other provisions, of which these famished people partook. The whole population of Bengazi, and the adjacent country, assembled to wituess this portentous event; and the Maraboot, who inhabited the tomb, gained by this artifice of humanity as niuch glory as the Bey shame and disgrace from his ineffectual efforts to complete bis diabolical work of externiination : he consoled himself, however, with the spoils ainassed' in this glorious expedition; amounting, it is said, to 4,000 camels, 10,000 sheep, 6,000 head of cattle, and niany slaves, besides a good deal of money. .

A few days after this scene of slaughter, the twenty-two hostages arrived by sea from Tripoli; the vessel had scarcely entered the port, when it was boarded by the executioners; the unhappy passengers were successively driven upon deck, where their throats were instantly cut, and their bodies thrown into the sea. The bodies of two boys, one of five, the other seven years of age, were cast by the waves upon the beach, close to the city, and devoured by the dogs, no one daring to give them burial,

Not to dismiss the reader with the full impression of this horrible transaction on his mind, we shall just take the opportunity of adding, that since the journey of Della-Cella, Mr. Warrington, our consul at Tripoli, desirous of procuring further information regarding the Cyrenaica, and availing himself of the liberality of the present bashaw, who (notwithstanding his apparent participation in the events we have recorded, and a few other peccadilloes, appertaining, as Borachia says, to a true Turk) is looked upon as a mighty good sort of a man, sent, under his sanction, an Italian

gentleman, gentleinan, as his vice-consul to Derna. On his arrival this person visited the ruins of Cyrene; found fragments of sculpture in abundance, a great number of brass coins, a female head quite perfect, and a beautiful marble whole-length statue of Hebe, as he conceives it to be, perfect in every respect except the arms, which had been broken off the preceding year by the barbarians who inhabit those parts, at the instigation of a Maraboot, who persuaded then that the deficiency in the last crop had been owing to the idol's appearance above-ground. Something, therefore, may be expected fron researches in the Cyrenaica superior to those rude blocks, beetles, mummy-pots, and other odd - pots of Egypt, with which we have lately been somewhat too profusely favoured: such things are of little or no' value as works of art, though specimens of them are so far desirable as they instruct us in the state of the arts at a period of very remote antiquity; but they must not be permitted to encroach upon others far more appropriate to the apartments of a National Museum,

ART. XI.-Mémoires de l'Abbé Morellet, de l'Académie Fran

çaise, sur le 18me Siècle, et sur la Révolution, précédés de l Eloge de l'Abbé Morellet, par M. Lémontey, Membre de l'Institut, et de l'Académie Française. Paris. 1821. 2 vols.

8vo. pp. 584. 444. JT would seem from this title-page as if M. Lémontey were the

author or editor of these Memoirs, whereas he is only the author of the éloge' on M. Morellet.—Those of our readers who may have heard of M. Lémontey as a member of the French Academy, chiefly known in literature as an editor of memoirs, may be disappointed at this discovery ; but we have a consolation at hand for them; this same M. Lémontey is the egregious savant who, in his edition of Dangeau, showed himself to be unacquainted with the Mémoires de St. Simon; which is worse than if the editor of Lord Waldegrave's Memoirs had never heard of Horace Walpole. Our regret, therefore, is, not that these volumes contain so little of Lémontey, but that thirty-two pages are wasted on his verbose and idle éloge; in which (soit dit en passant) he celebrates the

doux accens of the obscene and blasphemous Parny,—which also, as our readers will recollect, excited the particular admiration of that model of female taste and delicacy, Lady Morgan.

The Memoirs of the Abbé Morellet are written by himself, but, unhappily, as we read in the first lines and see in every subsequent page, were not begun before his seventieth year : this circumstance accounts for the want of interest in all the early part of these volumes, The old man proses miserably through sixty years of his life, and almost all, either of value or amusement, which the work may contain, is to be found in a few pages of the second volume, which relate to the events of the period between 1789 and 1800; these events were recent, and fresh in the author's recollection; and though he adds little or nothing to general history, the descriptions of one or two transactions in which he was implicated, are neither interesting nor uninstructive. The catch-penny title-page calls the work Memoirs of the 18th century and of the revolution,--this, they are not, nor (except in the title-page) do they pretend to be ; they are merely the history of an individual, written froni recollections, Joose and vague as to the earlier periods, and minute and narrow as to the latter parts of his life. · It is, we think, much to be regretted that the Abbé did not begin his Memoirs earlier, or, at least, that he had not the advantage of compiling them from notes, made contemporaneously with the transactions,—he was in a situation to give us an accurate and instructive view of the internal workings of that literary machine of which Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, d'Alembert, Raynal, Buffon, Bailly, Duclos, Grimm, Marmontel and Morellet himself, were the principal wheels of different sizes and forces, indeed, and moving in different planes and with different velocities, but all tending, more or less, to the great object of Philosophy that is, of overthrowing the established religion and government of their country. All these men did not see this object with equal clearness or certainty, and some of them, when at last they did see to what their labours tended, were struck with alarm or repentance, and were anxious, when too late, to make such reparation as was in their power :-- their repentance could not stop the impulse of the terrible machine which they had contributed to set in motion; but it has, at least, had the good effect of vindicating, in some measure, their own character, and of giving an instructive lesson to those, whom a youthful and generous ardour might incline to similar errors. This is the most useful, though not the most entertaining part of the delightful Memoirs of Marmontel, and this is almost the only merit of those of his uncle the Abbé Morellet. .

Andrew Morellet was born at Lyons, in 1727;—his father was a paper-manufacturer, whose means would not have sufficed to give his children a liberal education, but there were in old Francé abundant opportunities of instruction, nearly gratuitous; and indeed it may be observed, that the numerous and splendid instances of persons rising from the humblest classes to the highest literary honours and emoluments in France, seem to prove that the ancient system of public education in that country (though now so much decried) had the double merit of providing instruction for those who showed a determined taste for literature, and of supplying to

society

society a quantity of educated talent equal to the demands of . religious, civil, and political life ;-in fact, the numerous class called hommes de lettres may be considered as the superfluous talent and learning, which the professions and business of ordinary life could not absorb.

Young Morellet, in the course of his collegiate education, became the companion of two men, both afterwards ministers of state, but of very different characters, and with very different reputations :-Turgot and M. de Brienne, Cardinal de Loménie.

Turgot was in youth what he was in age, grave, industrious, argumentative, and undecided ;-a theorist, who could with difficulty descend to practice, and who passed his time out of office, and lost it when in, in a vain search after perfection, and in the Quixotic folly of attempting to subject human affairs to the precision of mathematical problems. The plausibility of reducing the art of administration to a system raised Turgot to office, and its impracticability drove him from it. He was generally right in his conception, but he did not know how to execute it;—and he brought into the cabinet an immense stock of knowledge on every subject, except man,—that, perhaps, of which a minister, and, above all, a reforming minister, has more need than of any other.

De Brienne, on the other hand, as industrious as Turgot, and not behind him in the power of acquiring knowledge, seemed to have taken an early resolution to utilize his acquirements ; he studied men as well as books, and he has afforded us the extraordinary instance of a youth, of no high prospects, setting out in his college with the resolution of being an archbishop and prime minister, and of accomplishing his resolution and that too with the ap. probation of all mankind — ni imperasset.'

The connection with these friends, and particularly with Turgot, directed Morellet's mind to political subjects, and chietly to, what is called-heaven knows why-political economy; and as, in afterlife, Turgot became the chief of the party called Economistes, Morellet was one of its most active partizans.

Morellet mentions that at the conclusion of their academical course, in 1751, De Brienne gave a festival dinner to him, Turgot, and about a dozen of their companions, at which, in a moment of gaiety, they agreed to meet on the same day, in the year 1800, to play a match of handball against one of the walls of the Sorbonne.--Alas! - when the day arrived, Morellet found that he had not only survived all the company,-' but what,” he adds, 'no one had thought of, the very place of rendezvous !—for the Sorbonne had ceased to exist, and the nation had seized upon property,

P4

which

which no more belonged to it than the universities of Oxford and Cambridge could belong to the British nation.'-p. 21. : Fortunately for us, Oxford and Cambridge do still afford a just illustration of the Abbé's argument : but we have no doubt that if our reformers should succeed in revolutionizing England, they would act as their elder brothers did; and that the Sorbonne would, instead of a contrast, be a precedent for the spoliation of our venerable establishments. Nay, without a revolution, a certain education scheme, which we take the credit to ourselves of having materially helped to defeat, might have produced the same philosophical and philanthropical effect !— I have never, the Abbé adds with some pathos,had the courage to re-visit the Sorbonne since the barbarians robbed it of the monument of Cardinal Richelieu,

Morellet now became the preceptor, and, afterwards, travelling tutor of a young Abbé de Galaizière. After having, in this latter capacity, visited Italy, (of which visit there is a tedious account,) he fixed himself in Paris, on a small annuity settled on him by the father of his pupil; this income, too scanty for existence, was subsequently increased by one or two pensions from the Crown, bestowed by the Economiste-ministry for some works which the Abbé wrote, and for others which he intended to write, in favour of their system. We beg leave to observe, with what consistency these Economical patriots, on becoming ministers, grapted their partizan a pension for the works which he was to write. Verily this equals the Scotch professor of medical jurisprudence of 1806.

The Economists were nearly allied to the philosophers; the former were often political lords of the ascendant, and the latter were always the dispensers of literary reputation; it is not therefore surprizing that Morellet should have become a philosopher, though it exhibits, no doubt, a whimsical union of characters,-a pensioned economiste and a philosophe-Abbé!

Morellet was soon enlisted in the service of the Encyclopédie, and contributed to that work, the Articles Fatalité, Figures, Fils de Dieu, Foi, Fondamentaux (articles), Gomeristes, &c. He also defended the Encyclopédistes, and attacked their enemies in several jeux d'esprit, in imitation of Voltaire ; for one of which he was sent for a short time to the Bastile. He also now and then published an economical pamphlet, and made translations from the Italian and the English ; of these the most remarkable was Beccaria's Essay on Crimes and Punishments, which he probably undertook by way of advancing the cause of philosophy, and which made some noise; the rest of his translations, and particularly those of his lạtter years, were made for a livelihood; for he lost

« PoprzedniaDalej »