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stances which favored or hindered their work, and the various events by which its progress was marked, are all brought into clear view, and exhibited in their just relations. The next essay, on the territorial and political formation of France, from the end of the eleventh century to the end of the fifteenth, is even more worthy of praise, and will lose nothing by comparison with the best pages of Thierry's “ Lettres sur l'Histoire de France." Like the first and third papers in the Folume, it was originally read before the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques; and its design was to trace the history of the transformation of France from a feudal state to a monarchy, to indicate the various phases which society assumed during this transitional period of four centuries, and to exhibit in one view the results which had been attained at the end of the fifteenth century. The chief causes of this immense revolution Mignet finds in the creation of an urban class, the establishment of a standing army, the centralization of justice, the introduction of a financial system which brought all parts of the country into direct relation with the sovereign, the extinction of the provincial dynasties which had issued from Hugh Capet, and the subjection of the clergy to the crown; and nowhere else is the gradual but sure operation of these causes exhibited with greater clearness and precision, or illustrated with a wider learning. The third memoir is on the establishment of Calvinism in Geneva. It comprises some good character-painting, as in the portraits of Farel, Calvin, and Servetus, and there are some graphic descriptions of the popular disturbances in Geneva; but, on the whole, the treatment is less vigorous and satisfactory than the reader would be justified in anticipating from an acquaintance with any other of Mignet's works. The last paper in the volume is the excellent introduction to the “ History of the War of the Spanish Succession," to which reference has already been made.
The first three papers in the “ Notices et Portraits” consist of the discourse pronounced by Mignet on his admission to the French Academy, and his replies to M. Flourens and Baron Pasquier, when they were also admitted to the same
distinction. Neither of these addresses has any special importance; and they do not rise above the usual level of academic discourses. Following them are sixteen biographical and critical sketches, read before the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, from 1836 to 1852. Among the emi. nent men whose lives and works are thus passed in review are Sieyès, our countryman Edward Livingston, Talleyrand, the physiologist Broussais, Destutt de Tracy, Daunou, Sismondi, Charles Comte, Cabanis, Rossi, and Droz. If none of these notices is of a character to add to Mignet's reputation,
and some, like that of Talleyrand, which is the longest, are quite unworthy of both the author and his subject, — they all exhibit familiarity with the lives and characters of the men described, and all contain passages of appreciative criticism. Mignet is a man of far too great learning and ability not to make his remarks on his contemporaries worthy of attentive consideration ; but he needed a broader field for the best, exercise of his powers, which are better adapted to historical composition than to biography. The last article in the collection is a "Life of Franklin," written in 1848, at the request of the French Academy, to counteract the dangerous tendency of the socialist theories then prevalent. This practical aim gives a special character and coloring to the memoir, which is composed in a style of great simplicity and directness, and with a constant reference to the lessons of homely wisdom to be drawn from the life and writings of Franklin. For this purpose, nothing could be better than Mignet's sketch; and, as an exposition of Franklin's opinions and an account of his public and private life, the memoir is worthy of high praise.
The last volume on our list contains eight notices read before the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques, subsequently to the publication of the “Notices et Portraits," and brings the series down to 1863. The subjects of these later discourses are Jouffroy, De Gerando, Laromiguière, Lakanal, Schelling, Comte Portalis, Hallam, and Lord Macaulay. Of these the last is much the best; and it is certainly the most genial and appreciative paper of its class which Mignet has ever written. The sketches of De Gerando, Por
talis, and Hallam are also worthy of special notice; and altogether the volume must be pronounced superior to either of the volumes of the “ Notices et Portraits,” except perhaps in regard to style. Here there is no improvement, if there is not indeed a steady decline in ease and flexibility. The interminable sentences of his latest writings are but a poor substitute for the sharp, crisp periods of the “Histoire de la Révolution.” That Mignet's style should not have improved with practice, is one of the most curious and striking facts in his literary career; but no one who is familiar with his works can fail to notice the fact.
In this rapid survey of Mignet's various works, it is impossible not to be impressed by the good judgment uniformly shown in his choice of a subject. There is not one of his subjects, except in the case of his official discourses before the Academy, which does not possess an intrinsic and enduring interest; and there is not one which he has not treated in a manner to justify his selection of it. In each instance he had something new and instructive to communicate; and each of his works, except the “ History of the French Revolution,” is mainly founded on inedited documents, or on documents of which little use had been previously made. Though three of them were first printed in a fragmentary form, they have now a unity and compactness which show how carefully he had meditated on his theme, and how thoroughly he had digested his materials before he began to write. The interest and importance of the events to which his several works relate, and the freshness of his materials, have doubt. less contributed to Mignet's success as an historian: but they do not constitute the solid basis of a lasting reputation; and all of his works, as we have seen, exhibit qualities of a high order.
As an historian, he has not only been fortunate in his choice of subjects, but he has also been diligent and successful in research. He has shown, at all times, consummate skill in the arrangement and distribution of his materials, and great candor and fairness of statement. With strong convictions and but few prejudices, he has never lapsed into the partisan ;
and, if his readers may sometimes dissent from his opinions, they can never doubt that those opinions have been honestly formed, and that the facts adduced in support of them are correctly stated. In this respect he must take high rank among French historians; and it must be conceded, that his artistic taste is never indulged at the expense of truthfulness of effect, and never misleads either author or reader.
To diligence in research, skill in the arrangement of details, and impartiality of judgment, must be added great breadth and comprehensiveness of view. Mignet never confines himself to a single aspect of his subject, but, having made himself acquainted with all the facts which can affect his judgment of men or of systems of policy, he looks at it as a whole, and presents a finished picture of it to his readers. Hence, among his minor productions, those are the best which relate to the most important personages, or to the most memorable transactions; and the greater the demand on his powers, the greater is the breadth of learning and aptness of quotation which he shows, and the firmer is his grasp of his subject.
His most striking characteristic, however, is his fondness for historical generalization. Here his chief strength lies, and here too we may trace the chief source of his faults. In his desire to bring all historical events under the operation of general laws, he is too apt to overlook the disturbing elements to be found in personal character and the freedom of personal action. At the same time, the soundness of most of his generalizations cannot be denied, and the relations of events are marked with great acuteness and precision. Indeed, in this respect, Augustin Thierry and Guizot alone among French historians are his superiors.
It is mainly to these qualities that we must trace the popularity which his writings have so largely enjoyed among his countrymen; and it is on them that his reputation must rest. That his life may be protracted until the completion of his long-promised “ History of the Reformation," is much to be desired; but, when we remember that he is now upward of seventy years of age, there is too little reason for such a hope.
ART. IV. - OUR COLLEGES.
Inaugural Address delivered to the University of St. Andrew's, Feb. 1,
1867. By John STUART Mill, Rector of the University. Lon
don : Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer. 1867. 8vo, pp. 99. On the Principles of English University Education. By Rev. Wil
LIAM WHEWELL, M.A. London: John W. Parker, West Strand.
1838. 12mo, pp. 189. The Atlantic Monthly. September, 1866. University Reform. Report of the Committee on Organization. Presented to the Trustees
of Cornell University, Oct. 21, 1866. Albany: C. Van Benthuysen
& Sons. 8vo, pp. 48. Proceedings of the Third Anniversary of the University Convocation
of the State of New York. Held Aug. 7, 8, and 9, 1866. Albany:
Charles Van Benthuysen Sons, Printers. 1866. 8vo, pp. 152. The Atlantic Monthly. April, 1867. Considerations on University
The quickening which every form of social and educational discussion has experienced since the close of the war, has been nowhere more marked than in regard to collegiate education. There is a very wide-spread conviction, that our colleges, as at present organized, are not accomplishing all that this generation has a right to demand of them; and the academical year that is now closing has been distinguished for earnest and profound discussions as to the best method of bringing them fully into sympathy with the spirit of the age. Nor have these institutions themselves been backward or ungracious in recognizing their own shortcomings. While in different parts of the country new universities are springing up, upon broader, or at any rate different, bases, to keep pace with the growth of population and the changed demands of the times, our Harvards and Yales are adapting themselves to the new order of things, with a promptness and cheerfulness which must seem marvellous to those who have been accustomed to regard them as a mere embodiment of conservatism.