« PreviousContinue »
but seldom predominated over, his judgment. So' vigorous was his spirit, that it rose in rebellion against the sedentary and monotonous labors of his younger days. He continually longed for bodily or mental excitement, and on one occasion he wrote to a near friend, “ The desire for strong emotions becomes irresistible, and my mind preys upon itself if it is not satisfied.” Throughout his early correspondence the same restless disposition is discernible. He was continually complaining of want of excitement, and yearning for a life of intense activity. He thought that “life has no period of rest; man is a traveller toward a colder and colder region, and the higher his latitude, the faster ought to be his walk!” Although lapse of years and a large harvest of experience cooled his fervid temper, he continued through life to labor with energy and intensity. Graceful in his manners, firm in opinion, susceptible in feeling, quick and true in judgment, versatile in accomplishments, he was a delightful companion, a wise counsellor, a faithful friend, and an affectionate son, brother, and husband.
He fulfilled his moral and religious duties with promptness and zeal. Appreciating the inestimable value of order, he preserved complete method in all his transactions. While he has instructed the world by the depth and accuracy of his researches in political science, he has also left an enviable reputation for many exalted virtues, which appear to have adorned his career from his first entrance upon the duties of life.
It is a noticeable feature of his works, that his mind was continually directed to a specific object; and that he never indulges in that theoretical speculation which either rejects facts or is incapable of practical application. He always looked forward to a direct result. Rejecting all assistance from the perusal of other writers, and disdaining to lay the basis of his own productions on materials derived from libraries, he endeavored to strike out on untrodden paths, which, being discovered by actual observation and experience, might lead directly to the consequences sought. He did not regard with favor the intricate disputes of mental science, in which he took no pains to be well versed. His mind being morbidly restless, he was absorbed in harassing thought, mingled with doubt, despondency, and gloom. But in none of his dark moods did a doubt arise as to the truth of religion and the sacredness of moral obligation. It was the great political themes on which he so constantly meditated that led him to those painful reveries.
His oratory toward the close of his parliamentary career was serious, and often brilliant. He spoke with composure, and yet with feeling, when he attempted to address the Chamber, which was seldom. Careless about arranging his thoughts and expressions so that they might be comprehended, he used few words, and avoided repetition and expansion. He never could have made a popular orator, for he had not the faculty of so combining commonplace with solid thought that his audience could sympathize with what he was saying. At the same time, his weak voice and feeble constitution were perpetual restraints upon his oratory.
He seems to have far transcended the French standard of character in the soberness and depth of his speculations, and in his insight into the mysteries of political science. But his restlessness, his warm temper, his impetuous vehemence, and his affability, mark him as a true Frenchman.
When we look upon him as the philosopher, witnessing, not without emotion, indeed, but calmly and thoughtfully, the great convulsions through which his age was passing, noticing the operation of every cause and the influence of every result, treasuring up the painful experience thus acquired for the future service of the nation, and searching, while the facts were new, for some remedy for the disorder, it must be confessed that few Frenchmen have exhibited to the world such rare proofs of judgment, profound reflection, and substantial good sense.
In his personal appearance he was small and thin, with a remarkably pale countenance, which was lighted up with a pair of highly intelligent and fiery black eyes. His face was intellectual, and its expression betokened the restless mind within.
Besides “Democracy in America,” by which his fame as a writer will mainly live, he undertook several other works, which, as far as he carried them, evince the same vigorous intellect. “L'Ancien Régime et la Révolution,” which has already been noticed, was a philosophical survey of the old dynasty, and the events which placed the first Napoleon on the imperial throne. The success of the first volume, which was all that he completed, was equalled only by that of “ Democracy in America.” It was at once translated into many languages. Congratulatory letters reached him from the most eminent men of the age, and the appreciation of its merits doubtless procured for him a more cordial reception in England.
The first volume of De Beaumont's Memoir contains two articles from De Tocqueville's unfinished works, which are especially worthy of perusal. The first is “France before the
“ Revolution,” in which the author reverts to the position and influence of the noblesse, in the early part of the eighteenth century; their gradual decline, caused by the subdivisions of property, the growing importance of the middle classes, and the jealousy of every other rank of society; the gradual union of crown and people, and thence the centralizing tendency of democratic ideas; and the final extinction of the nobles as a power in the state, followed by a direct antagonism between regal and popular power. The other is “ France before the Consulate," in which are set forth the wretched administration of the Directory that succeeded the “ Reign of Terror”; the relapse of the people into a cowardly apathy, their indifference to republicanism, their hatred of the ancient régime, and equally of Jacobin anarchy; and their final acquiescence in the orderly and stringent government of the Consulate and Empire.
De Tocqueville had formerly undertaken a work, which was never matured, concerning the establishment of England in India, a subject which deeply interested him. In 1836, he wrote an article for the Westminster Review, which was translated by the able editor, Mr. J. S. Mill. In 1847 he furnished an historical account of Cherbourg, for Guilbert's “Histoire des Villes de France.” Still later, he sent to the London Times his impressions of the coup d'état of the 2d of December, which may be found in the second volume of the translation of De Beaumont's Memoir. Other labors he commenced, but never submitted to the public. Many of his letters (none of which were written for publication) have not been printed; some of them, because of the restrictions on the French press; but the greater part, because those to whom they were addressed were unwilling to expose the confidential testimonies of private friendship.
In closing, we are glad to announce that the American edition - we might almost say translation of the “Democracy in America,” will shortly appear. Mr. Reeve's version is, indeed, the basis for this issue; but it needed so many corrections and improvements as to have made Professor Bowen's task hardly less arduous than a first-hand translation would have been. His fidelity and accuracy leave nothing to be desired. His notes, too, form an important and valuable feature of this edition, which bears, withal, in typography and mechanical execution, ample testimony to the liberal enterprise of the publisher.
ART. VII. – Outlines of the Philosophy of Universal History.
BY CHRISTIAN CHARLES Josias BUNSEN, D. C. L. London. 1854. 2 vols.
The philosophy which thinks of history in relation to all humanity is a modern conception. We propose to sketch some of the most prominent theories to which this conception has given birth. They can, we think, be reduced to threethe Theistic, the Idealistic, and the Realistic.
The Theistic theory has for its special principle belief in a living, supreme, personal, perfect, one, infinite, eternal God, by whose power the universe exists, by whose providence its events are ordered or overruled. This is the idea which comes nearest to our religious nature, - the idea which, as the most spontaneous and the most lasting, enlivens our childhood and comforts our age. This was the idea which Bossuet had for his inspiration, when in lofty argument he reasoned on what is transient in its relation to what is immortal. one of the first to look comprehensively at the historic life of humanity; and he grandly expounds the Theistic system in
his immortal “ Discourse on Universal History.” Like many other immortal works, that of Bossuet was incidental. A simple priest, he was called from his provincial retirement to preach the Lent sermons for 1662 before Louis XIV. The preacher, then about thirty-four years old, was in the prime of his life and the prime of his power. He excited in the King the highest admiration. He was made preceptor to the Dauphin, and for the instruction of the Dauphin he wrote his magnificent “Discourse.” The method is synthetic, and the spirit ecclesiastical. The essay consists of three parts. In the first part, the author resolves historic time into certain great divisions, marked by great events, as epochs. He begins with Adam, or the creation; goes on thence to Noah, or the deluge; thence to the calling of Abraham; thence to Moses, or the written law; thence to the capture of Troy; thence to Solomon, or the completion of the temple; thence to Romulus, or the foundation of Rome; thence to Cyrus, or the reestablishment of the Jews; thence to Scipio, or the conquest of Carthage; thence to the birth of Jesus Christ; thence to Constantine and the Peace of the Church"; thence to Charlemagne, or the establishment of the new empire. These timemarks are twelve in number, and introduce the historic development of humanity into its course of modern espansion. With pregnant brerity and felicitous distinctness, the author, as he advances, brings out the leading points and personages in the course of ages, as they can be determined by records sacred and profane; and, though he abides by the accepted learning of his own day, he occasionally anticipates the results of later criticism. It is to be regretted that he did not carry out his idea, as he intended, into a review of Mohammedanism and of the French nationality.
The course of events, as narrated in the first part, is only a chronological guide to a view of the course of religion in the second. The author connects the course of religion with the course of events, and subordinates wide reading and research to the unity of his subject. Master of all the erudition kuown to the scholars of his age, he brought it fully to bear in the unfolding of his theme, with the comprehensive grasp of an imperial imagination, and with the grand espression of a com