« VorigeDoorgaan »
say, that the former is to be found in the celebrated 24th chapter of the Life of Lord George Bentinck, and that the latter will be found in the Preface to "Coningsby."
We have spoken at some length of Mr. Disraeli's faith in the influence of individual character, and of the interest with which he has always regarded the character of youth. And now let us, in a few sentences, indicate the greatness, and sometimes the exaggeration, of that importance which he attaches to persons generally. Every thing in his eye reduces itself to a question of persons and personalities. He admits that no man is great, unless he be the exponent of a great principle; but, in his view, principles are unavailing without an apostle to enforce them. Parliamentary government is impossible without party: party is impossible without leaders. Every thing depends on individual genius; individual genius depends on race. All is race. Some people never think of persons cannot, indeed, do so; they can discuss measures, but not men. He, on the contrary, almost invariably treats a man and his proposition as identical, which indeed they are, to a certain extent; but he sometimes pushes this view to an extreme, identifying principles with persons, and persons with principles, in a very arbitrary manner. For example, he sees no reason to prevent the Jews from embracing Christianity, but much inducing them to do so; and how? it may be asked. Not because Christianity is the true religion, but because the fact of the Incarnation is flattering to the race. On the other hand, he cannot see why the Jews should be at present debarred from Parliament, and why in the middle ages they were looked upon as an accursed race, the enemies of God and man, the especial foes of Christianity; and how? Because Christianity was founded by the Jews, because its Divine Author, in his human capacity, was a descendant of King David, and because his doctrines were avowedly the completion, not the change, of Juda-ality of others, and in the keen sense which ism. These statements will be almost in- he has ever displayed of his own personality. credible without a reference to the places It has been asserted that egotism forms the where they occur; and we have therefore to basis of his character, the foundation of all
It may be added, that this identifying of policy with party, and principle with person, is to be classed amongst the Hebraisms of his character. If to the true Christian there is, in a spiritual point of view, neither Jew nor Gentile, neither Greek nor Barbarian, neither bond nor free, it was never so, in any point of view, to the true Hebrew. In his eye, every thing was race, personality was every thing. It is, indeed, a very prominent characteristic of the Semitic mind generally, and most prominent of all in the Hebrew. The Hebrew belonged to a peculiar people, that in a very remarkable manner recognized its own individuality, not only as a whole, by a complete separation of itself from all the nations of the earth, but also in all its divisions and subdivisions, by preserving every tribe apart, every family apart, almost every soul apart. The priesthood must be confined to a single clan, every priest to his course, the hight-priest to a particular family; salvation must spring out of the tribe of Judah, and out of the house of David; Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? And so, as this principle of favoritism was more and more developed in the Hebrew mind, the Maker of us all being continually represented as regarding the Israelites with particular kindness for the sake of Abraham, İsaac, and Jacob, and as showing mercy to this or that individual, not because of his own merits, but because of a father, three or four generations removed, whose righteous deeds were still treasured in God's book of memory, salvation became in their eyes a matter entirely of personal favor; the Most High appeared to them as preeminently a respecter of persons; they revelled in the pride of birth, as no other people ever did; the poorest and most despised, the very Pariahs of the nation, could trace a pedigree up to the pri
eval mud, telling through what noble veins it had filtered in coming to theirs; and, when the chosen race was scattered over the world, they walked forth robed, as in the purple of a king, with a superb egotism that has not often been assumed even by royalty. And of this, the tendency of all his kindred, Mr. Disraeli affords a remarkable example, in the firm hold which he takes of the person
nothing I will not do for you. Not because I
he thinks, and says, and does; and, if we admit the truth of such a statement, we do so, however, not in the sense which it was intended to bear. It was intended to signify that Mr. Disraeli is a mere adventurer, with notoriety and self-aggrandizement for his only aim-a view of his character that is the result of malignant intention, not less than of shallow thinking. It is one of those shallow plausibilities which are the very opposite of truth. An adventurer is a single individual pushing himself forward, unbidden, and for his own private advantage. If Mr. Disraeli has pushed himself forward, and fought single-handed, he has not been fighting merely his own battle; he has stood forward as the representative of a race, and the champion of a creed. Like all public men, he has doubtless been actuated by the honorable ambition of distinguishing himself; but this in subordination to noble ends, to which we must hastily refer.
they be sea-pieces? In brief, has the urging of these views been of any service, or were they intended to have any practical effect?
For one thing, it has placed him before the public very much in the light of a foreigner; and the opinions of a foreigner occupy, in some respects, a high vantageground, as coming from a spectator who, if at all mingling in the strife of faction, is supposed to do so as a disinterested volunteer. And this position, this impartiality of tone, this bird's-eye view, he has in various ways endeavored to attain, chiefly these two, however; namely, by assuming the manner of some future historian, and by assuming the air of some foreign visitor. The former situation he of course adopts openly, and with the knowledge of those whom he addresses; as in his political novels, and in that political biography, where his intention avowedly is to treat of contemporaneous history from the elevation of the future. When he assumes the distant tones of a stranger, he is himself, we believe, but half-conscious of it-his auhardly so much; its effect however, is not less powerful. But upon this we do not dwell.
From a very early period, he recognized in his writings that he is at once an Englishman and a foreigner. In "Contarini Flem-dience ing," for instance, he gave expression to this feeling, in the exultation with which the young hero of that novel so constantly dwells upon his Venetian origin-an origin which Mr. Disraeli also claims; and afterwards, when speaking in his own proper person, he expressed it in "The Young Duke," or, rather, he implied it in the assertion of his claims to be treated as other Englishmen, and in the iteration of his pride in England, and of the hope that his name might yet hereafter be in some measure identified with its history and its language. As years passed on, he gave utterance to his feeling with less reserve; boldly presented himself to the public as a Jew of the purest Sephardim; wrote his last novel, "Tancred," mainly about the Jews; and in his latest work, the Memoirs of Lord George Bentinck, went out of his way to introduce a long chapter on the same subject, the only connection of which with the biography was expressed in the strange sentence at the commencement of the following chapter-These were not the views of Lord George Bentinck. Why, then, did he so unceremoniously drag them into that biography? Why has he made a point of enforcing them on every practicable occasion? Are they mere crotchets, hatched in the brain of an enthusiast, and, like flies, not to be got rid of? Is he like the artist mentioned by Horace, who could paint an excellent cypress-tree, and took care to introduce one into all his pictures, even should
- a very
It is more important to observe, that he not only in this way assumed the attitude of a foreigner, but also put himself forward as the representative of his race; so that his egotism has been a pride, not so much in himself, an individual, as in himself, the member of an illustrious familydifferent kind of egotism. And his taking up the cause of the Jews, and pleading it so earnestly and assiduously, in a country where they are too much despised, effectually clears him from the charge of being a mere adventurer. He has been the most zealous advocate of that persecuted race; he has done more than any other man in Britain to invest their claims with interest; in the midst of ridicule and opposition, he has never bated a jot of heart or hope; his latest writings show how keenly he has felt the wrongs of his kindred, and how ardently he longs to see them redressed; it is still, we verily believe, the dearest wish of his heart to raise the Jews from their low estate; and, while such aims and such deeds are his, it is the merest drivelling of imbecile malice to speak of him as an adventurer and a place-hunter. Beyond this, he has an idea that the emancipation of the Jews and the recognition of their presence as a great fact in the commonwealth of nations, would not only be a boon to the race, but would also redound to the advantage of these nations. What particular ad
vantage would thus accrue from an infusion | of the Semitic element, we do not stay to inquire; let us say that the nations would then become possessed of the Asian mystery. Enough that in his opinion the Jews at present lead the foremost van of civilization; that, while they are the leaders of revolution in every European capital, they are at the same time a race essentially monarchal, essentially Tories; and that, if music be the art carried to greatest perfection in these modern times,then are the Jews the greatest of ern artists, musical Europe being at this moment theirs almost every great composer, musician, and singer, belonging to the Hebrew family. Holding these opinions with the pro
foundest conviction, and ever urging them on the attention of his countrymen, his opponents might surely have spared Mr. Disraeli the indignity of classing him with unprincipled adventurers and vulgar egotists. But here we must conclude. It was our intention to have shown how Mr. Disraeli's doctrine of personality and personal influence, the central idea of his political and social philosophy, is wrought out, and successively mod-illustrated, in his various novels; but we bave perhaps already exhausted the patience of our readers, and we know better than, like some of the old Puritan preachers, to give the hour-glass another turn.
From Blackwood's Magazine.
ANCIENT AND MODERN FORTRESSES.
HAVING been moved to put together some ideas on ancient fortresses, with a slight unprofessional glance at modern fortifications, we feel at a loss to say whether the subject was suggested by the prospect of a European war, or by finding, on turning up page 52 of the second volume of Edward King's Munimenta Antiqua, the curious statement about famous Conisborough Castle, "that, if a person chances to stand in the least degree nearly opposite to any one of the buttresses, the whole building appears, notwithstanding its perfect rotundity, to be a square tower instead of a round one.
If we led the reader to suppose, that any thing he finds in this article will indicate the probable result of the coming European struggle, we should grossly deceive him; and it is but fair to say, that if the opening sentences have induced him to expect a succinct digest of the history of fortified places from the era of the Flood, he will have to complain that his anticipations are by no means fulfilled. We intend to take advantage of that happy vagrant eclecticism, which nothing in this world but a magazine admits of, and which, in truth, is a blessing too often forgotten and betrayed by its proper guardian, when he consents to be
nothing but the expounder of opinion for a polemical or a civic conclave, or the recorder of the pother of local antiquaries. Our remarks on fortresses will follow no specific line, logical, or otherwise-will supply no desideratum-prove no problem, and exhaust no subject of inquiry; and, with these preliminary indications, we now offer them.
Be it a question which, among ancient nations, was most illustrious in deed and thought-the Jewish, the Assyrian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Hellenic, or the Roman-there can be no doubt that the most illustrious race acting within the sphere of modern history is the Norman. And when we give them this local name, we do not mean to confine its comprehension to the descendants of the Rollo who bullied the King of France out of a province, or to those of the band of adventurous men who came over" with the Conqueror. The real Norman who founded the institutions which still live to attest his greatness, was a mixed being, possessed of the hardy, enduring energy of the North, and the fire and versatility of the South. Most European countries have enjoyed his presence. France has largely partaken of it, so has Spain
though the spirit of the old greatness it produced has died, and the faded lustre of its memory only remains. Italy, Sicily, and portions of Germany, have had their share of these high-spirited wanderers; and indeed often, in the history of European states, might it be traced that, as if by an injection of fresh blood, the Norman element has saved them from immediate dissolution, if it has failed to confer on them a prolonged and invigorated existence.
Greatest, however, of all the obligations to this race are those which we of the British empire owe; for the illustrious ad venturers whose spirit and energy sometimes seemed to consume and destroy the feebler qualities of the people on whom they were ingrafted-found among their Saxon brethren only a reinforcement of those steady and enduring powers, which had not yet acquired a sufficient preponderance in the composition of the Norman. To the character and tendencies of this race we owe the centralizing influence which has given power to our democratic institutions. We owe to them the principle of honor, courtesy to women, social disinterestedness, and the many virtues which have grown out of the system of chivalry. In art, we owe to them the great system of ecclesiastical architecture, which, after slumbering for a couple of centuries, is now flourishing in so remarkable a revival, that every genuine vestige of it is preserved with pious care; and even a worshipful municipality, if it design to destroy a remnant of the art, as it would have almost been thanked for doing fifty years ago, is restrained from the act by a feeling of public indignation.
The magnificent system which goes commonly by the name of Gothic architecture, is essentially the work of the Norman race, taking both the character of the architecture and the name of the race in a comprehensive
which are necessarily connected with these in architectural arrangement, are all peculiarities of the Norman fortalice. To find what there is in this, inquire how The Old English Baron, The Castle of Otranto, Mrs. Radcliffe's or Victor Hugo's novels, could have been written without this element of poetic romance. Go higher up, and see how much of the glorious interest of Scott's novels has been created out of this element; and whether it is presented at Torquelstone or Tilly tudlem, all comes of Norman origin. But go still higher, and see how such a tragedy as Macbeth could have existed, if Shakespeare had been a contemporary of the Scottish monarch, and had been bound to describe him living in an extensive craal of wicker or turf huts, instead of placing the whole tragic history in one of those mysterious Norman castles which did not exist until centuries after Macbeth's day, and were beginning to add to their other interest, that of a mellow age in Shakespeare's.
If it be an inferior achievement, yet it is something to say that to the same race we owe the fortalice of the middle ages-the parent of the modern fortress. The castle as we know it in romance and history, is essentially a Norman creation. The symmetrical external strength, and the gloomy mysteries of the interior, necessary to make a castle be a castle in poetry or romance, are features entirely belonging to the Norman edifice. The vaulted form of internal roofing, with all its grandeur and gloomthe dungeons beneath the battlements above -the secret passages-and other mysteries
Besides these elements of associative interest, there is the external beauty involved in a marvellous development of strength and symmetry. Take the Norman castle in its most perfect development--the stern square mass in the centre-the flanking round towers at the angles, widening with a graceful sweep towards the earth, after the manner in which the oak stem widens to its root-the varied crest of battlements, turrets, and machicolations which crown all, adjusting their outline to the graceful variations of the square and circular works below,—all make a combination, the grandeur and beauty of which has been attested by its eternal repetition in landscape painting, since landscape painting began.
Nor were the beauty and grandeur all that the Norman fortalice could boast of. It was a great achievement in science. Of all the steps taken onwards in fortification, from the primitive earthwork on the steppes of Tartary down to the fortification of Paris, the greatest was taken by that one which combined together the dwelling-house and the fortress, and made that organization of main editice and flanking protections of which the great works of Vauban were but a further development, as we shall have occasion more fully to show.
But we must stop here. External beauty and grandeur, engineering skill, we attribute to the Norman castle; but we cannot award the same praise to its moral objects, which were ever those of subjugation and regal or lordly despotism. In fact, the castle was
the embodiment of the feudal system, and, and Jeremiah speaks of the people being hunted "from every mountain, and from every hill." On the approach of the Assyrians, we hear that the Israelites possessed themselves of all the tops of the high mountains. They are found all over the Easton the steppes of the Russian provinceson the German and Scandinavian hills-in all parts of the British empire: while those which have been discovered in the valley of the Mississippi, and other parts of America, are said to have a precise resemblance to the specimens in the county of Angus. Often, of course, efforts have been made to connect them with early historical eventsas when the fortified camp of Caractacus has been found in England, and that of Galgacus, in fifty different places of Scotland: while the Germans are naturally anxious to find the circle within which their national hero, Arminius, or Hermann, assembled the tribes who punished the presumption of Varus. But these are all vain speculations; and when or how these forts were made, we shall probably find out when we get the working-plans and the engineers' contract for Stonehenge.
ripened into the Parisian Bastile, the largest and most perfect Norman fortress ever built. As one of our kings said of a border keep, the man who built that was a thief in his heart; and they who reared the stately dwellings of the Norman kings and nobles had subjugation and tyranny in their hearts, and, indeed, embodied these qualities in mason-work; for, after all, these gloomy edifices owe a mighty portion of their influence to that overawing quality which Burke made out to be the source of sublimity. If all admiration of artistic achievement in architecture must depend on the honorableness, the faithfulness, the humaneness of those who were the designers, we fear we would need to abandon our favorite edifices as structural lies and architectural shams, only fit to be cast into oblivion, and there obtain Christian burial. But so callous are we in the matter of the faith and morality of designers, that we can even confess that the exterior structure so well fitted for defence against an oppressed peasantry, and the dreary dungeons so well fitted for feudal vengeance, when these were driven desperate, only raise our interest by a contemplation of their objects; while the assurance that some murder has been committed within the gloomy recesses the baser and more brutal the better-simply affords additional zest to the tragic interest of the whole.
Among the English hill-forts, there is the Herefordshire beacon, on the highest point of the Malvern hills, commanding the main pass through the chain. It is an irregular oblong, one hundred and seventy-five feet by one hundred and ten; and the inner wall is a strong work of stones and turf. Three exterior walls encompass it, and an eccentric work lops out at either side, on some engineering principle, which, doubtless, was highly approved of in its day, but is sunk in as deep oblivion as the name of the people who awaited anxiously within the inner ring to see the heads of the enemy, as they strove to mount the steep acclivity, in the year of the world in which the defence was completed. Wales claims the chief specimens
England, for the reason we have already stated that Wales has hills. have Moel y Gaer in Flintshire, and a great work close to the Castle of Montgomery, where, King says, it was certainly needless, "unless it had been long prior to the erection of that castle." There are, besides these, Carn Madryn, Trer Caeri in Carnarvonshire, and Caer Caradoc, which tradition associates with Caractacus. One of the oddest of these forts is Penman Mawr, of which Pennant says, After climbing for some space among the loose stones, the fronts of three, if not four walls presented themselves very distinctly, one above the other. In most
Let us cast a glance back to the condition of the art of fortification, at the time when it was taken up by these Normans. The most truly primitive forts are naturally decided by antiquaries to be those which are found constructed solely out of the native materials which the site may have afforded. In this matter time has been by no means impartial to the handiwork of man; since, in some places it remains, and is likely to remain, so long as the crust of the earth keeps together while in others, the strong-in hold of the dwellers in vast watery wastes and swamps has melted away with the mud of which it may have been originally formed. So, in the swamps of Friesland, defended in the dawn of bistory as they were in the seventeenth century, and in the flats of Lincoln, defended against the Normans, many a place of strength has departed; but on the tops of barren hills the rude stone circles remain, the relics of some utterly unknown antiquity.
There is scarcely to be named that part of the world where there are hills, and no hill-forts. They occur in the Holy Land;
VOL. XXXIV.-NO. IL