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Des oiseaux réveillés le concert matinal,
de la nuit, son cours filencieux,
O charme de mon coeur ! que feroient-ils fans toi?' p. 52-3. If we had not already exceeded the limits prescribed to a criticism of this nature, it was our intention to have pointed out several extraordinary instances of Mr De Lille's use of the note of interrogation, and of the periphrasis. The latter, indeed, is so frequent, that we believe there are few instances throughout the whole poem,
where he has translated such nouns as the sun, moon, or even man, by a single word. We had also wished to have commented on several passages, where he has descended so infinitely below the dignity of epic poetry, as almost to burlesque the original ; such, for instance, as when, in the beginning of the Fifth Book, after Such whispering waked her,' he interpolates, Eve les
troublés en sursaut se releve ;' or where he transa lates
Meanwhile, at table, Eve
- Eve chartement nue Satisfaisant ensemble et le gout et la vue.' We trust, however, that from the extracts we have made, our readers will be able to form an accurate idea of the real merits of this work. They cannot, we think, fail to perceive, that of all authors, Mr de Lille has departed the farthest from the rule he laid down on a former occasion, viz. ' that the translator of a whole work was bound to preserve the thoughts and expressions of his prototype, and to attend even to his costume.' In the case before us, it is in vain that we search for the original ; neither the person, the dress, nor the manners, are the same. Presented in this form, Milton can only appear, even to those who are most intimately acquainted with him, as the excess of glory obscured,' or
• As when the sun new risen
Book I. l. 593. We will not apologize to our readers for the length of the extracts we have made. Our object has been, rather to lay before them passages which would of themselves suggest matter for criti- / cism, than to criticize, ourselves. Accordingly, we have chiefly
selected those which must be familiar to every one who is at all versed in English literature. Those who know how to feel and appreciate their excellences, cannot but experience delight whenever they are recalled to their recollection; those (if any such there be) who are not yet acquainted with them, cannot but rejoice at their discovery.
ART. XV. An Inquiry into the State of the Nation at the Com
mencement of the present Administration. pp. 238. 8vo. London. Ridgeway 1806. Third Edition.
THE. 'He sudden dissolution of the last ministry prevented the Par
liament from inquiring into the measures which produced the late continental war, and led to the present calamitous situation of affairs. The object of the tract now before us, is to supply this defect, and to exhibit such an account of the state of the nation as might have been derived from the parliamentary discussion of the subject, and may lead, not only to a fair estimate of our present prospects, but to the remedies, if any yet remain, for our past errors. The work has obtained a very unusual share of the public attention ; and we are now reviewing a third edition, though the first has not been published a week. It is understood, indeed, to speak the sentiments of the Government upon some of the most important subjects of discussion; its merits are, in our opinion, of the very highest order ; and we hasten to lay an account of its contents before our readers, with some specimens of its execution, that the sound and wholesome principles which it appears to us to inculcate, may have a new chance of becoming as extensively known as they deserve.
The subject of the tract is, an Inquiry into the State of the Nation with respect to its Foreign Affairs; it is intended to exhibit a full view of the causes which have led to the late disasters of the Continent, and of the present state of Europe. There remain two other branches of the subject to be discussed—the State of our Colonial, and of our Domestic Policy. These points are omitted, for the present, as of less urgent importance, and only alluded to in the relation which they bear to the immediate object of the inquiry.
This inquiry is divided into three branches. In the first, the causes of the late disasters on the Continent are investigated at great length, and the errors of the allied powers, especially of England, are fully detailed. In the second part, a sketch is given of the consequences of that impolicy, and its effects upon
the state view
state of Europe. In the third, a view is taken of the other parti-culars in the state of Europe, which cannot be directly referred to the late coalition against France. The work concludes with the general inferences to which the previous discussion had led, respecting the line of policy to be adopted by this country in her foreign relations.
I. In reviewing the history of the late continental league, as detailed by the documents laid before Parliament, our attention is arrested by so many capital errors of primary importance committed by the allies, particularly by England, the mover of the confederacy, that it is only difficult to choose where we shall begin, and to say when our exposition shall end. It may be proper just to notice the heads under which the work before us arranges those errors, and to present a summary of the argument upon. the most striking of them.
The league was arranged in a manner altogether hostile to France, from the very beginning. No attempts were made at pacific overtures, although France had lately shewn a desire to negotiate, and the Government of England, had some time before pledged itself to seek the mediation of Russia. was the grand object from the first ; and then this war was entered upon without any precise or definite object. The treaties enumerate, indeed, several purposes which the combined powers affect to have in view, such as the independence of Holland, the liberation of Italy, the freedom of Switzerland and others. But the work before us enters into a minute examination of all these proposed objects, and clearly proves that they are mere words of no meaning ; that nothing short of the conquest of France could secure the real independence of countries necessarily exposed to her power, like Holland and Piedmont; that the removal of French troops from these provinces is a nugatory demand, since France would withdraw them at any rate during peace, and must retain the power of replacing them as soon as war is renewed, i, e. as soon as it is her interest to replace them that the liberation of the Continent from French influence or tyranny, was not to be attempted by plunging it in war, but must result from changes which no hostilities can bring about. For the illustration of these and other positions of the same tendency, we must refer our readers to the work itself; on this part of the question, it abounds in argument and in details, which are extremely instructive. Having thus exposed the groundwork of the late system, this division of the reasoning is summed up as follows.
• A league, then, of unparalleled expense and vast risk is concerted, without any precise object but that of beginning a war; without any
view more specific than a vague defire of curbing the power of France; without a plan more comprehenfive than that of freeing from momentary oppression, a few detached parts of the French dependencies; with no preconcerted scheme for securing their independence, or for carrying in. to effect the general wish that has been formed to check French usurpaa tion.-But, it may be asked; is the fituation of Europe so hopeless that no means can be devised for accomplishing the grand objects which we have been rapidly surveying? Must Holland be united in fate with Belgium, and the Cifalpine decide the destinies of the South _The confideration of these matters belongs to a future ftage of this inquiry, : : At present it is enough to have thewn that those objects bear no relation to the mere act of commencing a hostile coalition; that the fortune of war might drive the French troops out of Holland and Naples, with. out rendering those ftate: less dependent on France ; that the emancipation of Europe could only be obtained from a war of this description, in the most improbable event of its leading to the entire conquest of France ; and that the choice of inftant hoftilities, without giving any reasonable prospect of success, in profecuting the general scheme, precluded all chance of paving the way to better times, by a gradual and peaceable arrangement. The only specific object of the coalition, then, was to make war upon France, and try the event. Let us next inquire, whether this obje&t was prosecuted with such a degree of wisdom, as bestowed any title to expect that the event would be prosperous. p. 21-23
We cannot follow this important part of the question as minutely as its discussion deserves ; it consists chiefly of reasonings from facts and circumstances contained in the official papers, and enters necessarily into much detail. The whole substance of the argument against the late alliance, drawn from a view of the state of Europe at the time, is given with great force and correctness in the following sketch of the relative situation of France and Austria at the breaking out of the war.
Such, then, was the unwillingness of Auftria, and such the means employed to bring her into the late ruinous conteft.-And, truly, when we reflect on the exhausted state in which the last war had left her ; when we consider the loss of her ancient provinces, best situated for of fenfive operations, and the various difficulties which opposed themselves to any attempt at calling forth the resources of her new acquisitions ; when we survey her finances, involved in unexampled embarrassinent, and her cumbrous adminiftration checking in every quarter the development of her natural strength ; when, above all, we think of the universal dread of a new war, which prevailed through every rank of her people, dispirited by a recolle&tion of the latt, and impressed with a firm belief in the ascendant of France ; when, to all this, we oppose the fignal advantages of her enemy in every particular ;-a compact and powerful territory, impregnable to attack, and commanding its neighbours from the excellence of its offensive positions ; an army inured to war and to
constant victory; an armed people intoxicated with natural vanity, and the recollection of unparalleled triumphs ; a government, uniting the vigour of military despotism, with the energies of a new dynasty ; an administration commanding in its service all the talents of the state ; fi. nances, unburthened by the debts of old monarchies, and unfettered by the good faith of wiser rulers ; finally, a military expedition of vast magnitude, at the very moment prepared, and applicable to any destination which the change of circumstances might require :-when we contrast these mighty resources with the remnant of her strength which Austria had to meet them, we shall marvel but little at her backwardness to seize the present juncture for beginning a war, which, if unprosperous, muft be her last. In a prudent delay The saw that every advantage might be expected ; an improvement in her domestic economy; a gradual amelioration of her political constitution ; the correction of those evils in her military system, which had formerly proved fatal; the change of conduct towards her frontier provinces, which the experience of last war prescribed ; the progress of her rich dominions, and numerous and vari. ous population in civility and wealth ; the confirmation and extension of her foreign alliances. On the other hand, most of the enemy's advantages were likely to be impaired by delay ; many of them were peculiar to the present crisis ; almost all of them were of a temporary nature. The pursuits of commerce might temper his warlike and turbulent fpirit ; the formidable energy of a new government might yield to the corruption which time never fails to engender, and, though kept quite pure, could not but relax during the interval of quiet : The conftitution was likely to become either more defpotic and weaker for offenfive measures, or more popular and less inclined to adopt them ; for a nation always becomes a wiser and better neighbour in proportion as its affairs are inAuenced by the voice of the community: The arts of peace
must modify that system of military conscription which made every Frenchman a warrior : The remembrance of recent victories would gradually wear away, both in the army and the nation : Allies might desert from better views of their intereft ; dependent ftates might throw off the yoke, when they recovered from the panic that made them bend to it; neutral powers might be roused to a juft sense of their duty, when a successful refiftance seemed practicable, and the reestablishment of the Auftrian affairs furnished a centre round which to rally: The army destined to invade England would probably fail in the attempt, or at any rate might be occupied in making it : Factions were more likely to disturb the vigour of the government when the continent was at peace ; nay, the chance was worth confidering, which every delay gave, of some finifter accident be. falling the chief, whose destinies involved thofe of, France herself, and whose power had not yet received its lait consolidation.-Every thing then rendered a delay as hurtful to the enemy as it was desirable to Austria and her allies. If France had been called upon to choose the juncture of her affairs, at which a new continental league should be formed against her, not only with safety, but with eminent advantage VOL. VIII. NO. 15.