Page images

and are thus in a measure guarded against that vague and languid tone of thought which must of necessity prevail wherever the development of mind is sacrificed to the monotonous labors of routine. It is not uncommon to meet with men who preserve a taste for literature amid all the engrossing cares of professional life, and know how, without pedantry or affectation, to interweave its embellishments with their most arid discussions. They mix, too, in the world, see things as they are, study man in his actions, and look for his motives, where alone they are to be found, in his interests and his passions. And thus they arrive at a thorough knowledge of their true field of action, the human heart, and of the means of acting upon it judiciously and with effect.

Their position in society naturally depends to a certain degree upon their personal qualities; for although their profession may gain them a place there, yet nothing but the power of making themselves useful and agreeable can preserve it. In all good society you will be sure to meet some members of the clergy; and if you see them taking a part in diversions which Protestants look upon as unbecoming to their profession, you should remember that there is nothing in their views to condemn it. Enter into conversation with them, and you will find them often intelligent, not unfrequently highly cultivated, and always firm upon questions of duty. If you try to engage them in discussion, they are generally too well prepared to decline it, but are not more given than their brethren of other countries to force their doctrines on unwilling ears. The relation which they bear to their parishioners naturally brings them into a more or less intimate intercourse with them, not unfrequently imposing upon them the difficult task of being counsellors and guides in temporal as well as in spiritual concerns; and if this trust is sometimes abused, it is full as often exercised with scrupulous integrity. Their interest in general events and the political questions of the day, of course, depends in a great measure upon the original diversities of individual character. But whatever touches upon the interests of their religion they follow up assiduously, and their opinion upon public occurrences is always to a certain extent affected by the probable bearing of these upon the welfare of the church. And this is the way in which they will be brought to take a decided part in the struggle for independence; for they feel that Italy is Catholic

both by its associations and its convictions, and that the church can never be free until the nation becomes independent.

We would not hazard too broad a generalization from particular facts; but whatever may be the case in other countries, in Italy the science of medicine is far more apt to form liberal minds than that of law. How far this may depend upon individual character, and how far upon the peculiar character of each study, we will not now pause to inquire. There is something in the practice of medicine which frequently sets the physician at variance with established authority, and throws him altogether upon his own observation and judgment. The nature of law, on the contrary, confines the practitioner strictly to his text, leaving him, at the utmost, room for displaying more or less ingenuity in his interpretation of it. Thus the former are led to form habits of close and accurate observation, while the latter are taught to look up to some acknowledged authority, and submissively abide by its decision. And in all but those who ascend to the real sources of their science in the common principles of our nature, the result must be a ready subservience to authority, and an uncompromising rigidity of system, different in kind, but in degree perfectly similar to that of the man who devotes himself too exclusively to the exact sciences. Thus, when at the diet of Roncaglia, Frederic Barbarossa called upon the law school of Bologna to examine the question of his regalian rights, that learned body of native Italians decided unanimously in favor of the emperor, and against their countrymen.

But besides the common practitioners, there are profound jurists, men who study hard and think deeply. Romagnosi's works are an admirable example of what the study of legal science may do for the science of humanity; and no one can study Gioja without taking broader views of his duties as a man and as a member of society. The young lawyers of Italy are formed in the logical school of the civil law, that collection of written reason; but their minds are enlarged, and a higher impulse is given to them, by the writings of their own great jurists. Many, when the day of trial comes, may

It was probably this Italian view of the subject which suggested the remarks in the first book of Botta's Storia della Guerra dell' Independenza.

be found wanting, benumbed by routine, and enchained by their personal interests; but there will also be many to whom the struggle will be all the more welcome for all the sacrifices it may impose.

We believe, therefore, that the hopes of Italy are definite and substantial, for they are founded on her territorial division, which is better adapted for union and defence than it ever was before; on the increased communication between independent states, which is awakening a livelier sense of their common interests as a nation, without effacing those distinctive characteristics to which each and all have owed so much of their glory; on the character of her literature, which is pure, energetic, and national; on the progress which the Italians themselves have made towards a knowledge of their real position, which is the only security of their being qualified to improve it; on the existence of a middle class, uniting the aristocracy and the people by the accessions which it receives from each, and endowed with the activity and energy which fit it for efficient and appropriate action; and in that progress of moral and social character which alone can give the energy that wins, and the constancy that preserves and forms, the surest trust of those who accept with earnest conviction the great lesson of history, that liberty is the reward of virtue.

ART. II. - Political Economy, and the Philosophy of Government; a Series of Essays selected from the Works of M. DE SISMONDI. With an Historical Notice of his Life and Writings, by M. MIGNET. Translated from the French, and illustrated by Extracts from an unpublished Memoir, and from M. de Sismondi's Private Journals and Letters; with a Preliminary Essay by the Translator. London: John Chapman. 1847. 8vo. 8vo. pp. 459.

THIS book is very unskilfully made up. Its contents are selected with little judgment from the miscellaneous writings of Sismondi, and are baldly and inaccurately translated. The biographical materials which are annexed are meagre and fragmentary; but they add something to our previous knowl

edge of the labors and character of this excellent historian and sincere philanthropist, and increase our desire for further information. His unpublished papers and correspondence, if one may judge from the brief extracts given in this volume, must be entertaining and instructive, and we hope they may soon be given to the world in connection with a full account of his life and literary undertakings. Meanwhile, from materials already in print, we may form a brief sketch of his opinions and of the chief incidents in his career.

John Charles Leonard Simonde de Sismondi was descended from a noble family of that name which flourished for a long time at Pisa, while that city was conspicuous among the Italian republics of the Middle Ages. When Pisa lost its independence in the early part of the sixteenth century, the family removed to France, and finally settled in Dauphiny, where in the course of generations their name was Gallicized into Simonde. The historian himself, led by the resemblance of the two names and by the preservation of the family arms, resumed the name of his Pisan ancestors. Having become Protestants, the revocation of the edict of Nantes drove the family again into exile, and they found a home at Geneva, then a city of refuge for the sufferers from religious persecution throughout Europe.

In a country house, called Châtelaine, near the gates of this city, Sismondi was born, on the 9th of May, 1773. His character, as is so frequently the case with distinguished men, appears to have been chiefly formed by the tender and judicious care of an excellent mother, whose counsels he continued to seek and rely upon long after he attained the age of manhood, and whose devotion he repaid by an almost romantic filial attachment. Educated by her till he was ten years old, he was then sent to school, where he studied Latin and Greek, while he practised music and drawing under private instructors, and subsequently attended lectures at Geneva to perfect his knowledge of the sciences. At school he was remarkable for conscientiousness and docility, and he gained prizes enough to attest his diligence and aptness to learn. Circumstances soon gave him a taste for political science, the theory of which he ever afterwards studied with ardor, though the gentleness of his character and his literary ambition prevented him from becoming an active politician. Rousseau and Necker were his countrymen; new constitu

tions were soon to be rife at Paris, and the minds of most Europeans were excited to fever by the hope of an approaching political millennium. Children imitated their parents in playing at politics and forming ideal republics; their boyish schemes of government reform were perhaps as wise, were certainly as practicable, as most of those afterwards formed by graybeards and members of constituent assemblies. Sismondi, then hardly ten years old, amused himself by playing statesman with his young friends, among whom was a brother of Benjamin Constant. The young legislators met in a grove, where they erected a monument to Rousseau, and decreed by a unanimous vote that in their republic every person should be virtuous and happy. Sismondi, their elected chief, supported this decree in a written discourse of considerable length. The liberal and philanthropic spirit displayed in all his subsequent writings shows that this childish enthusiasm left a permanent impression on his character.

The elder Sismondi was a man of some property, but his esteem for Necker having led him to make an injudicious investment in the French funds, his fortune was so much diminished that he thought it necessary for his son to be educated for commercial pursuits. The young man was therefore sent to Lyons, where he remained for some time in the countinghouse of an eminent Genevese firm. The business was distasteful to him, but he submitted to it with cheerfulness, labored assiduously, and became an excellent clerk. The practical knowledge thus acquired was afterwards of much service to him in his researches in political economy; indeed, habits of trade and familiarity with accounts, when not carried too far, are not unfrequently among the most useful preparations for scientific inquiries and even for a literary life. Methodical industry, watchfulness, and great sagacity are as necessary for the merchant's prosperity as for success in scientific investigations, historical research, and political studies.

The easy tenor of Sismondi's life at Lyons was soon interrupted by the political disturbances of the times; the young liberal was to experience in all their severity the terrible consequences of too rashly reducing to practice those theoretical notions of liberty and equality which had captivated his boyish mind. The tumults at Lyons compelled him, in 1792, to return to Geneva; but even here he was not long to have a resting-place. French principles were

« PreviousContinue »