Page images

When we


the hands of the Chinese may have wrought such signal effects, we cannot see why · Bibles,' deposited in their hands, may not also have had similar results; since the Bible is at least as plain a book as the writing of any Jesuit with whom we have the pleasure of being acquainted. Thirdly: that if there be a country in the world in which books, whether. Jesuit manuals,' or “Protestant Bibles, can be expected to produce effect, it is assuredly China, which has so profound a reverence for

books,' that the whole social and political edifice may be said to depend on it; where education depends less on oral instruction than in any other community under heaven.* reflect on this, we do not wonder that the mere diffusion of the Scriptures should do more in China than any where else, even when unenforced by the living voice of the missionary; nor at the wise solicitude of our Protestant Missions to send it forth on its way. Fourthly : that the closing statement of M. Huc is unworthy of him; the Protestant missionaries have not simply deposited the Bible on the sea-shore,' but have zealously availed themselves of every opportunity of coming into contact with the Chinese mind, and constantly sought to add oral instruction to the silent teaching of the Scriptures and other religious books.

But we will not dwell on this little pardonable ebullition of spleen. Our worthy author, in spite of his doubts about the revolution, admits its prodigious significance, and that it is an • immense step.' He says, “The new Faith proclaimed by the • insurrectional government, though vague and ill-defined, does • nevertheless, it must be acknowledged, indicate great pro

gress; it is an immense step in the path that leads to the • truth.' (Vol. i. Preface, p. xvi.)

In such a political and social condition as that in which M. Huc everywhere depicts the empire, we need not be surprised that the maintenance of the crazy fabric for a protracted period should have become impossible. If it could endure, when thus rotten, it would be in yet more wonderful contrast

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

* M. Huc himself gives some most entertaining accounts of the reverence of the Chinese for anything written, which, in fact, hecomes with them an abject superstition. He tells us that public functionaries are employed carefully to collect from the roadside, and every heap of rubbish, any scrap that has been written on or printed. It is carefully raked out of the less dignified dirt with which it has been polluted, and honoured by being burnt. Imagine an inspector, for such a purpose, appointed to superintend the labour of London dustmen and scavengers ! (See vol. ii. p. 208, 209.)

with all other institutions of man than it is in virtue of any of its other singular characteristics.

Revolution has occurred, and the ultimate auguries are assuredly bright, whether its immediate course be prosperous or adverse; whether it lead to the quiet establishment, at a comparatively early period, of a new and renovated empire, in which Christian and European ideas shall be predominant, or whether an epoch of political anarchy and religious fanaticism be destined first to intervene. One thing is tolerably certain ; the exclusive and jealously-barred system of the ancient empire is effectually broken up; China is at length open, in the most effectual sense of the word; into it the elements of light, civilisation, and Christianity will continue to flow. Though they may have long to struggle for the mastery, they will at length obtain it, and this great country, covering a territory larger than all Europe, and containing a population equal to a third of the human race, will be launched on its way of gradual but indefinite progress. Nor are they only internal causes, or such as foreigners introduce into China, which are tending to crumble the ancient system of apparently impregnable jealousy and prejudice. The Chinese themselves are no longer the inveterately incurious stay-at-home' folks they once were; vast numbers of them are emigrating to other countries, especially to California and Australia, and cannot fail on their return to re-act on their countrymen, and bind closer the incipient ties between them and the rest of the world. Other causes, commercial and political, -among the latter, the recent war with the English, --have done much to destroy the fond notions of celestial' superiority, and to make an inroad on Chinese prejudices. On this subject the translator of these volumes makes some judicious remarks at the close of his modest preface, as also on the vast importance to the world at large of the changes which seem so imminent. He justly assigns that influence which can alone render the revolution radically and permanently beneficial.

• Christianity alone, we conscientiously believe, can heal this inward corruption, and arrest the downward progress of this mighty nation, now no longer separated from us by almost impassable distance. Not merely the statesman and the merchant, but the humblest among us, are now often connected by strong and tender ties with countries equally remote. A breach, too, has been made in the hitherto impenetrable barrier surrounding these distant Asiatic empires. The United States have obtained important commercial privileges in Japan ; Russia is striving for the same, and the secluded population of China have come forth to mingle (in California and Australia) in some of the busiest haunts of men, and take part in the newest movements of the time. (Translator's Preface, p. viii.) We cordially recommend these volumes to general perusal

. We must add, in justice to the translator, that he has admirably executed his task : his version is perfectly free from all stiffness; it is sufficiently literal, yet easy and elegant; and reflects very vividly the easy flow of narrative and the peculiar vein of humour which characterise the original.

Art. VI.-1. Corsica in its Picturesque, Social, and Historical

Aspects. The Record of a · Tour in the Summer of 1852.' By FERDINAND GREGOROVIUS. Translated from the Ger

man by RUSSELL MARTINEAU. London : 1855. 2. Corsica. Von FERDINAND GREGOROVIUS. 2 vols. 8vo.

. Stuttgart and Tübingen: 1854. 3. Leben Paskal Paolis, Oberhauptes der Korsen. Von KARL

LUDWIG KLOSE. 8vo. Brunswick : 1853. THE AERE is a peculiar kind of zest, as Walter Scott observes in

the introduction to Rob Roy, attaching to narratives ' which bring the highest pitch of civilisation closely in con

trast with the half-savage state of society. It was his perception of the artistic value of this element of contrast which led the great novelist to linger with such obvious pleasure over the creations of his fancy which brought his poetical highlanders into contact with the eccentric products of civilised and peaceful life in the two last centuries; Fergus with Waverley, Rob Roy with the immortal Baillie of Glasgow, the savage children of the Mist with the pedant-soldier Dalgetty. Something of this special interest has always attached in our minds to a name for a moment the most popular in Europe, long borne up by the echoes of that temporary fame, now nearly forgotten, save in his own native glens, where it is to this day religiously cherished — that of the celebrated General Paoli. The sober, staid, gentlemanly soldier-philosopher, whose figure was well known in the London drawingrooms of our grandfathers' days, the favourite of blue stockings and the welcome associate of literary people, was the same man who had passed years of life in the fierce vicissitudes of guerilla warfare, and whose dreams, after a day of well-conditioned civic existence, were ever recurring to his mountain glens, his own wild and faithful followers, and their hopes of a desperate revenge. Outwardly, a man of placid manners, and engaging, though not forward conversation, and calculated to command respect, whether met in a Corsican macchia or a tea-party at Mrs. Thrale's. But under this quiet exterior there lurked a singularly vivid imagination, a restless, contriving mind, and a youthfulness of feeling which survived equally the disenchantment of political supremacy at home, and twenty years of exile abroad. Such were a few of the traits which characterised one of the ablest and most virtuous men of his own or any time: a hero and a patriot in the truest acceptation of both words; one who needed but a larger stage, and more propitious fortune, to rank in sober reality with the ideal great of classical renown. We believe that any reader, whom mere literary curiosity, either to complete his gallery of Johnsonian cotemporaries, or to study the most remarkable facts in the history of a secluded and singular people, may induce to take up the life of Paoli, will rise from it possessed of a much higher appreciation of human nature, and fortified for the time against a common infection of our day—the cant of sneering at mere virtue, and professing to respect nothing but energetic and successful selfishness.

We have referred Herr Klose's Memoir of the Corsican • Chief, rather as the newest compilation on the subject than for any other special value which it possesses. He is a conscientious writer, and free from prejudice; but there, we fear, our commendation must end. He is confused and dull, with little of the spirit of searching German analysis which sometimes counterbalances these formidable defects. His knowledge of his subject seems to be chiefly derived from ordinary sources, and with many of these his acquaintance is very imperfect. In his Preface he tells us that no special biography of Paoli had been written before his own; and does not mention, or appear to have seen, the circumstantial life of his hero by Arrighi, superintendant of the Paoli College at Corte, published in two volumes in 1843: a work far more complete than Klose's, although too full of particulars of Corsican feuds and intrigues to be attractive to the general reader. Much better also than Klose's memoir are the incidental notices of Paoli in Gregorovius's entertaining volumes of personal travels in Corsica, — the best hand-book which we as yet possess for this rarely visited island, which has just been faithfully and elegantly translated and illustrated with notes by Mr. Russell Martineau.

There are few contrasts more striking than that which forces itself on the notice of the traveller, who is transported in a few hours from the populous shores of Southern France to the coast of Corsica, especially that of the country di la de Monti, the

western and wilder half of the island. At first sight, a range of dark and solemn mountains, rising for three-fourths of the year far above the limit of snow, appears to occupy the whole horizon, and leave no room for cultivation or inhabitants. Gradually the lower ranges become visible; vast land-locked basins appear, in which fleets might ride; with shores of beautiful mountain form, softening into rich undulations of plain and valley ; but all is desolate: for miles and miles of brown arid looking coast, neither house nor tree seems visible, and the scenery will remind him of a Highland or Irish loch, tinged with the colouring of a southern climate. The hill sides are bright with every variety of the Mediterranean flora of the waste, and the air absolutely heavy with its aromatic perfume (* l'odeur du sol,' which the home-sick Napoleon described at St. Helena as sufficient pour faire reconnaître, les yeux fermés,

la terre foulée par les premiers pas de son enfance') — but the hand of man seems almost wanting there. If the visitor inquires the reason, he will be vaguely told of want of population, and neglect by Government; a strange confusion of effects and causes, but the only method of accounting for the fact which suits the native philosophy. By and by he will become acquainted with the few towns, with their distinct population of continental origin; with the hamlets embosomed in chesnut groves, which lie scattered on the mountain slopes; and with the productive valleys occurring here and there amidst the wilderness of macchie,' (Frenchified into makis'), --spots or patches of green cistus and other brushwood, said to cover threefourths of the soil, the favourite resort of the numerous outlaws and enemies of justice. Further inland, he will find mountain scenery on a very grand scale, and all but virgin forests, often many hours' journey in extent; and, after crossing these, great open plains, abandoned to wild fowl and wild boars from the prevailing malaria. The northern parts, indeed, comprise one or two narrow tracts of densely peopled country, where much labour is bestowed on the cultivation of the vine and orange, resembling the best parts of the opposite coast of Italy; but these are mere exceptions to the general aspect of the island, which, to judge by the representations both of casual tourists and familiar acquaintances, is of a singularly austere and even melancholy character.

As is the country, so the people— simili a se gl' abitator produce. There is so much of the rude and primitive about them, that it is difficult to remember that their country is one of the most anciently inhabited portions of Europe, and that their forefathers were those warlike savages whom the Carthaginian

« PreviousContinue »