Page images

order and happiness of the whole community become the object of consideration, it is then that a disposition to secure these important interests enlarges the sphere of its activity, both according to the conjuncture that calls for it, and the power and influence that each individual may be possessed of. On such occasions, a regard to the public safety, and a sense of our common happiness, should render us attentive to the very beginnings of strife; should not only dispose us, after the example of the holy Psalmist, to pray for the peace of our Jerusalem, but, for our brethren and companions' sake, to promote its prosperity; yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, to seek to do it good.'

On the subject of immortality,-as illustrated and confirmed by the divine mission of Jesus Christ, the right reverend preacher, as if elevated to an unusual pitch of devotional ardour, thus sublimely expresses his just conceptions of that most comfortable doctrine :

• That God should effect an end so beneficial to us by means so condescending on his part, is a lesson of humility and thankfulness to men and angels. Immortality, or a passing from pain or death into a state of endless felicity, has ever been the ardent wish, the inextinguishable desire of the human mind: it is that fountain of liv ing water, which the thirsty soul ever gasped after, and which alone can satisfy the laudable ambition of a generous and exalted nature; but which was never clearly revealed until Christ himself brought it to light. To be continually advancing in our progress towards a glorious eternity; to be able to enlarge our prospects beyond the scanty bounds of sense; to behold, with the eye of faith, the inexhaustible source of endless and improving happiness; to have all our mistaken notions corrected, our knowledge enlarged, the ways of Providence unfolded, the infinite perfections of the divine nature displayed, and every thing prompting us to join with angels and archangels in songs of praise and thanksgiving, are blessings devoutly to be wished, a hope stedfastly to be cherished, a promise gratefully to be received: the most capacious mind can conceive nothing greater, nothing equal; and can only adore the goodness of God, who, by the birth of his Son, gave birth likewise to this most comfortable hope and expectation, of being begotten again to an inheritance incorruptible, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us.”

The conclusion of the sermon, which is an illustration of the human resurrection by the changes and renovations of vegetable bodies, we deem a happy instance of the didactic manner of the preacher:


Upon the whole, every part of the natural world furnisheth us with the most ample proofs of wisdom in the design, and of power and goodness in the execution; as the beauty that is spread over the face of the earth, and the bountiful provisions that are drawn from it, are alike maintained by a continual round of the production and dissolution of vegetable bodies; and as the seed which we sow is not quickened except it die; but, when quickened, is changed and



springeth up into quite another form-we may, therefore appeal both to the reason of the philosopher, and the experience of the peasant, whether the same divine power and wisdom, which are so clearly manifested in the changes that are necessary for the renovation of vegetable bodies, is not likewise able to produce such changes as are proper for the resurrection-body?-The care of Providence will assuredly be proportioned to the excellence of the object: and our Saviour's argument may be applied to this case also-that "if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; shall he not much more clothe us, and cause this mortal to put on immortality ?”— In the mean time, let us be careful to perform our part; and to profit even from the example which Nature sets us, by a progressive growth in grace, and virtue, and every learned and moral accomplishment; bringing forth from the good ground of religion, first the blade, then the ear, and after that the full corn in the ear. Nor let us drop this instructive allusion, till we have brought our minds to a serious contemplation of that universal harvest at the last day; when, whatsoever a man hath sown, that shall he also reap.-For, he that soweth to the flesh, shall, of the flesh, reap corruption: but he that soreth to the spirit, thall of the spirit, reap life everlasting.' Gal vi. 7, 8.

The extracts which we have thus impartially made will, we presume, be deemed a sufficient recommendation of these discourses; which, in our judgment, seem to possess all the requisites for the arduous purpose of moral instruction ;-and we hope that they will be received by many with an impression, that will ensure unprejudiced attention to the salutary admonitions of a preacher who professed only what he believed, and practised what he taught. Nor can we doubt that his surviving friends, who witnessed his mild and useful instructions exemplified in his life and manners, or heard them flow with unaffected ardour from his tongue, will prize them as consecrated relics of one whom they loved and revered; and who, after having shone with distinguished lustre in a conspicuous station, has not departed without bequeathing them a valuable legacy, and a precious memorial.

To these volumes are prefixed some memoirs of their author, which are strongly characterised by an exuberance of imagina tion. They seem to be written with affection and veneration for the subject of them, but at the same time with occasional asperity towards others, which provocation might excite, but cannot fully justify. Should a future edition be demanded, we hope that the biographical part of this publication will be considerably compressed.

The notes which are added to many of the sermons are, in general, well calculated to elucidate and familiarise important and abstract truths.

[ocr errors]

ART. III. Memoirs relating to the French Revolution; by the Marquis de Bouillé. Translated from the French Manuscript. pp. 564. 8s. Boards. Cadell jun. and Davies. 1797


N° o foreigner can be better entitled to a hearing at the bar of the English public, than the Marquis de Bouillé. His humanity and generosity in the West Indies, during the preceding war, gained for him more honour than the most brilliant conquests could have conferred, and excited the warmest gratitude of our fellow-subjects in that part of the world. In the scenes of history which he displays in the present memoirs, he was also a conspicuous actor. In obedience to Lewis XVI. he accepted the French constitution; at his Majesty's desire, he was the main instrument in endeavouring to effectuate the king's escape; and when that measure was defeated, M. de Bouillé, to save the king and the royal family from the resentment of the National Assembly, took the whole blame of the imprudent enterprise on himself, and stood forth as the adviser of an undertaking in which he was barely an agent; and of the success of which he never entertained any sanguine hopes.

These memoirs afford a faithful picture of their author: they betray nothing of that self-sufficiency and conceit which too often disgust us in the works of his countrymen: Bouillé is not the perpetual hero of his own tale: he freely acknowleges his errors; and his memoirs breathe that air of frankness and probity which have so long and so honourably distinguished his life and character.

The work commences with the immediate causes of the French revolution, and concludes with the campaign in 1792, after which M. de B. ceased to have any concern in public affairs. A few short extracts will justify our opinion of a publication which, we are persuaded, will be regarded among the most authentic materials of history.

In describing the condition of France immediately before the revolution, the author observes,

All the humours of this vast political body were in a fermenta tion. The magistracy was ambitious, the clergy jealous of their privileges, a spirit of insurrection prevailed among the nobility, whilst there was a total want of subordination in the army, particularly among the chiefs licentiousness and insolence pervaded the middle ranks of society, whilst the lower class experienced the extreme of misery, and the rich indulged themselves in the most unbounded luxury. The government was without energy, the court despised, and the great were sunk into a state of degradation; irreligion and immorality were diffused among the first orders, restlessness and dis content among all: the treasury was exhausted, the public credit ruined, and all the ordinary resources were worn out. The states


general, soon become a popular assembly, brought things to a crisis, but it was not they who were the cause of it; it was the natural and unavoidable effect of the corruption of the people, and the weakness of the monarch. It is difficult to imagine that France, like England after the revolution which she experienced in the last century, and from the time of the restoration, will emerge with greater vigour than she possessed before. The English had preserved their morals and their religion, whilst the French have abandoned both. Without these necessary restraints men can never live in a state of society, much less can a great nation be governed or govern itself."

'M. de B. gives a clear and full account of what is called the Massacre of Nancy in 1790. His narrative is justified both by the strongest internal evidence, and by the most satisfactory documents: but, as our limits will not allow us to enter into so complicated a subject, we shall only observe that the impu tations thrown on M. de B.'s conduct, in this business, appear to be the effect of the basest calumny.

A part of these memoirs, which will probably interest many readers, is the author's long correspondence with his cousin La Fayette. His transactions with Mirabeau are also worthy of attention. The following short paragraph illustrates the characters of those two men, better than has been done in many long discourses:

It will appear astonishing, without doubt, that I should act with so much confidence towards Mirabeau, when my conduct towards La Fayette was marked with such distrust. The reason is obvious; avarice and ambition were the reigning passions of the former, and these the king could amply gratify when re-seated on his throne: now, I very well knew that Mirabeau possessed too much discernment not to perceive that the gratitude and favours of a prince, whom he should have contributed to restore to his power and authority, were much to be preferred to popular favour, and the temporary situation of leader of a party: La Fayette, on the contrary, was an enthusiast, and intoxicated with self-love, whose price could neither be known nor reached; a description of men at all times dangerous, but particularly so during a revolution!'

The king's flight is the great act in M. de Bouillé's drama. This event is related fully, clearly, and with a variety of interesting circumstances which are not to be found in any preceding publication:-but the memorable history does not admit of abridgment, and we must refer to the work itself, where the reader will find his time and attention amply rewarded. shall conclude with the following extract, which is a summary both of the author's conduct and of his work, ending with an apostrophe which may perhaps serve as a lesson;


My attachment then to the king and the monarchy was the result of reasoning, and was founded upon principles which I may REV. Nov. 1797.



venture to call rational; and they formed the basis of my conduct during the whole time that I took an active part in the revolution. However, though justified from the crimes which have been imputed to me, I have committed errors which I now recognise, with which I have not been reproached, yet which had a considerable influence on events. For a short time I had at my disposal a large military force; in the provinces of which I was commandant in 1790, I possessed real influence. Had I then followed my first impulse, had I felt less repugnance for a civil war, I might perhaps have saved the monarchy. The scruples, the facility, the humanity of the king subdued me, even at the time when I was most apprehensive of his want of firmness. I ought to have opposed it by decisive considerations; perhaps even it was my duty to disobey his orders. Too great a deference to the aristocratical party perhaps restrained me from putting myself at the head of those who wished for a change in the constitution, the only thing that could preserve in France a monarchical government. For, this terrible revolution once begun, I never was of the opinion of those who imagined that things might be re-established on the former footing; or that any thing remained, except to modify and make a compromise with it. On this head at least I have always been consistent. I was at first an enemy to all innovation; but when these innovations were actually made, and in compliance with the king's request I had sworn to obey the new laws, I then directed my efforts solely against the factions, and the Jacobins, who, not contended with the mischief already occasioned by their constitution, aimed at the total subversion of the monrachy, and of all social order. As then France was governed entirely by these men, from the year 1792 till the death of Robespierre, I desired nothing more than to be able to extirpate them. Since this period, however, the hope of still succeeding by conciliatory means has come again to cheer my heart, and has influenced my conduct in the little connection I have maintained with our princes, with foreign powers, their generals, and their ministers. Whatever faults I have committed, may they prove a useful lesson to those who, having preserved equal fidelity to their sovereign, and attachment to their country, shall, in circumstances nearly similar, (and these may happen elsewhere than in France,) possess the same inclination to serve both! May they, superior to me in fortune and abilities, succeed in their generous undertaking!

Of the motives by which I have been actuated in giving my opinion of the men who ruled in France immediately preceding the revolution, and those who had an active part in that event, it is for the enlightened readers of these Memoirs to judge. I have endeavoured to avoid all personality, harbouring in my heart none of those emotions of hatred or jealousy, which, fostered by ambition, become extinguished together with it. Many who were concerned in these great events are dead; consequently the judgment of their political conduct belongs to posterity; and it must be the more just and impartial, as they can no longer either repair their faults, or destroy the good they have done. With respect to those who are still living, the case is not the same; their conduct and principles may change. How many instances do we meet with in history, of men truly great and



« EelmineJätka »