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the supply of gold and silver does not fail, moral corruption and physical degradation, lawless tyranny and boundless oppression, in fine, a chaos of moral disorder, will not by its direct working bring about the utter overthrow of any nation or people; that the very riches which men have misused, the very powers of nature to which they have yielded a crouching and terrified submission, would not themselves be made the instruments of their destruction. This is indeed but the first opening up of one leading and grand idea of the paramount influence of the precious metals over the happiness and well-doing of mankind, which seems well-nigh, to the exclusion of any other, to occupy the writer's mind.

Into the questions of political economy, which the discussion of this subject involves, we do not propose to enter,-not, however, from any disposition to undervalue their importance, or to understate the influence which they exercise on the conduct of human affairs; but because there are higher points, affecting our judgment on things of far greater moment, in which Sir A. Alison has pronounced a verdict yet further removed from the standard of a true and correct decision. His verdict is indeed on all subjects enunciated with the most absolute authority-but it may be questioned, whether many minds could be found to harmonize with the mind of the writer from whom these despotic declarations proceed. Failing such harmony, this parade of authority is fruitless. Undoubtedly, many could be found to sympathise with some portion of the author's opinions and theories; but then these same would as certainly be completely at variance with other notions and dogmas to which he adheres with equal pertinacity. Doubtless he might find in far too great abundance men who would go along with him in his application of a theory of persecution, a theory by no means modified like that which Dr. Arnold was prepared to advocate, but extending to very summary arguments of fire and sword. The theory is very old, and its sway has been a very wide one-far too wide, far too prevailing still. Unfortunately it has this inconvenience attached to it, that it affords as much justification to the terrific career of Mahommed as to the more orthodox bombardment of Algiers by Lord Exmouth. Men are willing enough to receive the major premise, that the truth may sometimes require to be propagated by the sword; they are still more willing to supply, as the second step, My convictions are true:' failing the existence of any court recognised by all mankind as having power to decide onthese momentous assertions, it is difficult to grant to one persuasion the right of employing an argument which is peremptorily refused. to others.

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'Christianity, indeed,' says Sir A. Alison, in his exulting peroration on the theological importance of the victory of Algiers, 'is destined to spread mainly by its winning the hearts of men; but in a world of selfishness and violence, it is not thus alone that mankind are to be converted, even to their own blessing. The first entrance must be sometimes won by conquest; and he who bears even the olive-branch and cross in one hand, may often despair of success, if he is not prepared, when necessary, to grasp the naked sword in another.'-P. 155.

It is not customary to employ troops for such a purpose; but the passage suggests the propriety of attaching a battalion or two to our most important scenes of missionary operations. The physical argument, not dimly looming, but fearfully visible behind, might give spurs to sluggishness in the apprehension of the truth. But the subject is one far too solemn for raillery ;-we may well mourn that the historian has so lowered his own office, that he has so witnessed against the truth with which his words should ever sound in unison, so outraged the upbraiding voice of the heart for the sake of a sounding sentence, or a majestic climax. We never remember meeting with a writer whose expressed opinions so frequently clash with each other, so nearly approach to a contradiction in terms, even when he is speaking of entirely different topics. His theory of persecution, mutatis mutandis, would have found him wonderful favour with the founder of the false faith of Islam; it was precisely his idea that his religion was to be spread mainly by persuasion-failing this, by the strong arm, and the sharp sword. Yet, strange to tell, with this kind of argument in religion, we find him as strenuous in asserting, that purely political offences should not be punished with death.'

'Death,' he says, 'should be reserved for great moral crimes, concerning which all mankind are agreed, as murder, fire-raising, or violent robbery; and not extended to acts such as those of treason, which originate not in moral wrong, but in difference of political opinion, and are sometimes justified by necessity, or rewarded by the highest fortune or lasting admiration of mankind.'-P. 305.

Without controversy, or maintaining the proposition ourselves, we may say that few subjects assume such different aspects when viewed in the details of particular cases. In all practical conclusions, indeed, these Tà kal' exaσтa must guide and control the judgment; and on the question of purely political offences, they do exercise an especial and extraordinary influence. The crime of treason, indeed, is one which we may stigmatise as the execrable wickedness of a murderer or a ruffian, the selfish schemes of a wily and ambitious plotter, meeting with its most just reward, if overtaken by the most sigual overthrow; or we may extol it as the brave and uncalculating sacrifice of temporal interest or public reputation to a

heroic sense of right and duty. The actor in it may come before us invested with all the dignity of a sufferer in a righteous cause, his career may be illuminated in our eyes with the halo of old associations, with the magic of a time-honoured name, and the memories of fallen greatness-with the sanction of ancient jurisdiction, repudiated by those over whom it was exercised, never abandoned by those who possessed it. It may be thus; or the act may appear to us simply the struggle of violence, to overthrow order, and reap a harvest of unholy gain from the wreck of law and justice; our hearts may now bleed with an agony of sympathy for the high-souled warrior, who has grasped his sword to fight for the descendant of a line of kings, to do battle for him whom he deems the anointed of Heaven, the sovereign to whom alone his fealty is owing,-or with a sense of horror, and yet with unquestioning acquiescence, we may contemplate the doom of one who, for his own gain, or his own lust of pride and power, has overthrown kingdoms, made the father childless, and the child an orphan. Sir A. Alison, in enunciating this principle, was contemplating instances which belong to the latter class rather than to the former. He is speaking of Ney and Labedoyere, and of the few others who suffered (to use his own words), for a rebellion which dethroned the king, caused the conquest of the country, and fixed a debt ' of 64,000,000l. on its inhabitants.' And yet, in the calm solemnity of the judicial chamber, Marshal Ney ought not to be visited with a penalty, which may be inflicted indiscriminately on thousands in battles to be fought for the spread of Christianity. But Sir A. Alison, in the conclusion of his third chapter, has happily furnished a sufficient antidote for the strange principle which we have already quoted from the termination of the second. To shed the blood of such purely political offenders on the scaffold is' (he tells us), the same injustice and the same 'error as to burn for heresy. Opinion is not the proper object ' of punishment; it is acts only that are; and the appropriate 'punishment for acts tending to dispossess the government is 'to dispossess the person attempting it.'-(P. 506.)

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We will gladly assume this to be the more real expression of the author's mind; and certainly to be charged with careless and rambling writing, is a less matter than to be guilty of tampering with the high standard of Christian practice. But it is not here only that the writer shows himself not very sensitive on the subject of a just and righteous legislation. Except on this supposition, it seems difficult to account for his opinion, that the ostracism of Athens, the banishment of Rome, were 'wise and humane institutions, had they not been often abused by a tyrant majority.' (P. 330.) Is it not in itself an evil

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thing to inflict any penalty, however slight, on a man who has undergone no trial either present or absent? Would it not be an argument especially against ostracism—not that it may be abused, but that it must be?

It is no part of our purpose to inflict on our readers a review of the whole of this volume. Such an examination would certainly run to a greater length than the volume itself, if it were really our desire to analyse and to refute all the mistakes and fallacies to be found throughout it. The fact, therefore, that we have lightly touched on some, must by no means convey the impression that none remain unmentioned, or even that those which we have not space to notice are of a less serious nature than the few which may come under examination. His strange judgments on the subject of education,-his marvellous inference that the injunction of our Lord to preach the Gospel to all nations' was not a command to educate all nations,-his heedless assertion that the growth of crime has been in direct ratio to the increase of education (an assertion false from its very heedlessness, resting as it does entirely on the equivocal use of the word);-all this might appear to call for a lengthened refutation, were it not that the obvous falsity and strangeness of such talk will be the best remedy for the mischief which the spread of such ideas would involve.

6

Common-place reflections and trite observations are especially acceptable to a certain class of writers; they furnish their natural element of thought. Whatever be the subject on which they desire to speak, they find it equally easy to string together what may seem to them very pertinent and appropriate reflections, which yet, in the judgment of others, are either irrelevant or unnecessary. In this mould Sir A. Alison's mind seems to be cast,-we will not say because he is one of those, the utter dulness of whose thoughts proceed from their inability to perceive any difficulty, or measure the depth of any subject; although such a conclusion might appear to be justified by his proneness to garnish his pages with maxims and reflections long since worn threadbare, and to enunciate at every favourable opportunity certain cherished theories of his own. These constantly recurring notions lead him often into a questionable morality, and not unfrequently (as in the assertion respecting the fall of the Roman Empire) to falsify the teaching of history. But if he sometimes falls greatly short of the rightful standard of the historian's office, he has not less signally erred in his estimate of its extent. Ne sutor ultra crepidam,' is a maxim which (if there be any truth in it at all) must apply as much to the historian as to any one else. Sir A. Alison has, of his own free will, greatly widened the field of

history, and cannot therefore complain if he is weighed in a different balance, and met by a more scrutinising criticism. It is undoubtedly the rightful task of the historian to draw an accurate and faithful picture of the particular time about which he has undertaken to write;-his work would be as imperfect if he were altogether silent on the subjects of science, art, and manners, as if he confined himself wholly to the delineation of a nation's internal policy, without any reference to its relations with the world beyond itself. Accordingly, we have no reason to be surprised, at finding one of his chapters entitled the 'Progress of Literature, Science, the Arts and Manners, in Great Britain after the Peace.' But it may well be questioned, whether the particular method of treatment adopted in this instance, has ever been considered incumbent on a writer of a history not exclusively devoted to this topic. If this mode of handling it be right in principle, then the historian's work in this province is to enumerate carefully every single invention, and describe every form of manufacture,-to give a sketch and criticise all the works of every single author, whether of poetry or of fiction, of history or philosophy, throwing in as much personal description as possible,-to delineate the various schemes set forth by all political economists, the progress of inquiry throughout the wide range of physical science, to describe at length every species of current literature, reviews, newspapers, &c., with something like a memoir of every famous critic, essayist and historian, of writers of novels and writers of satire, of biographers and travellers, of painters and architects, with a disquisition on the principles of the arts of architecture, painting, and sculpture, and the important works wrought in each kind, -to exhibit the state of the drama, and the characteristics of the celebrated actors and actresses, with the tone of society in general, and the various influences at work within it. Nay, if all this be necessary, surely much more is necessary. Many items must be added, before the catalogue can be considered complete. And here we have a very gigantic and herculean task indeed, a perfect pyramid of labours, by the side of which the physical exploits of the Son of Alcmena almost dwindle into nothing. All these topics, so wide in their range, so multifarious in their subjects, are to be discussed within the limits of a single chapter of ninety-eight by no means closely printed octavo pages, a single paragraph being required to do the duty almost of a volume. If this be indeed but an incidental portion of the historian's work, no wonder that the writer has fallen very far short of the mark. Our hearts would be hard indeed, if we imputed blame because his shoulders refused to bear the intolerable burden, which long-established usage sought to impose on them. If such a performance were expected, the

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