페이지 이미지

20th of June, 1792, was, on the following 3d of August, accused in the Chamber of having sold himself to the English cabinet. Now, let any one consider for a moment what would be the defence of an Englishman in a similar case. He would bring testimony-he would allege his own previous character-he would retort on his assailants—in short, he would regularly plead his cause. What is the defence of the Frenchman ? He unbuttons his waistcoat! He lays bare his breast ! · Malheureur, ouvre mon cæur et tu verras s'il est Français !' And this defence is admitted !

Such scenes might appear only ridiculous. But it is a source of danger in every country, that men seldom believe that what is ridiculous may also be formidable. People laughed at the follies of the National Assembly. They laughed at the clenched fists, furious interruptions, frothy declamations, and turbulent galleries of that noisy mob. They laughed at its shallow ideas of politics, which knew of no better security against despotic power than a feeble government. But those days of laughter were only the first acts of the piece, and France had not yet reached the consummation of the revolutionary drama, which, unlike other theatrical representations, begins in farce and ends in tragedy.

We have perhaps tilled already more of our pages than any work bearing a name intrinsically so humble as that of Lord John Russell may seem to warrant; yet we must not conclude without calling attention to the tone which bis Lordship has thought fit to adopt when treating of religious subjects. We should doubt, for instance, whether all the pious dissenters who have of late taken so warm an interest in his Lordship's political successes, will quite approve of the patronizing air with which he sums up a long and serious, we need not add a dull, parallel between Voltaire and our Saviour, or, as the Noble Paymaster prefers to say, the Founder of the Christian Religion :

Christ, whatever might be his doctrines, had given the example of a pure life; and had laid down that life for mankind. But what was the example afforded by the leader of a new sect, and the subverter of an ancient faith? Since he chose to lead,'--[ecrasez l'infame!"]— he was bound to give an example which might be fit to follow: Epicurus himself was a man of a pure and a virtuous life. But not only was the moral conduct of Voltaire censurable, and his conversation licentious,-his writings were replete with gross indecency, and insulting outrage to all that is modest and uncorrupted. . . . . That he had a general desire for the improvement of mankind cannot, indeed, be doubted: but what was he ready to sacrifice, or even risk, for their welfare? By the course he took he gained more power, riches, and fame than he could possibly have acquired in any other way. As for any serious danger to his life or liberty, there was none;-[observe this from the author who traces the French Revolution principally to royal tyranny and


174 Lord J. Russell on the Causes of the French Revolution.

oppression !]— but when the smallest danger appeared, even of his having to encounter the pointless weapons of the church, what was his conduct? He fled from the danger, made the most hypocritical submissions, feigned what he did not believe, and professed himself a member of that religion which he daily insulted. The persecution of opinions'—[Lord John has just admitted that in his case there was no real danger either to life or liberty!]— might justify his prudence; but, we may ask, is such a man to be followed and admired, like Him who is ready to LAY DOWN HIS LIFE POR HIS FRIEND ? "-p. 136.

The manner in which this last quotation from St. John's Gospel, chap. xv., ver. 12, is introduced, appears to us quite worthy of the sense and taste of Lord John Russell.

This ridiculous Essay contains, however, a few passages which may be quoted to his Lordship's credit. We thank this wholesale vituperator of the French nobility and clergy for the following honest and correct statement respecting the Philosophers, whom he in fifty places extols as the prime movers of their overthrow :

* These reformers adopted all the vices of the court and clergy which they sought to supplant, omitting only the refinement by which they were partially disguised, and the fear of God by which they were sometimes restrained.'-p. 221.

We are also particularly obliged, whatever some of his colleagues may be, to the author of the English Reform Bill, for the following just and sensible observations :

• The raw material, man, must be manufactured into something artificial before he is fit for the purposes of government; he must be " through certain strainers well refined" before he can assume the direction of his species. It is for this reason that all the most applauded governments-Sparta-Rome-England ! !-Holland -have been formed upon the principle of mutual control. It is by dividing power among different orders and classes ; by multiplying forms and privileges; by giving the people an attachment to settled rules of proceeding; by FilTERING THE TURBID CURRENT OF POPULAR OPINION through VARIOUS MODES

AND OF COUNSEL; and, finally, by opposing a check to every act of passion, whether in chief, nobles, or people, that the whole society is protected against the abuse of those faculties of government, the right use of which produces some of the greatest of human blessings.

It has, therefore, been the object of wise legislators!! to bind down the monstrous giant of power, like Gulliver in the fable, with a thousand minute cords and unseen hinderances. For this reason it is, that a people exercised in liberty have numerous securities in their ancient maxims and habits, which it would be impossible for any LAWGIVER OF THE hour to insert in a new written constitution.'(!!!)-p. 197.

Ipse dixit !- And all this is from Lord John Russell-writing a grave Essay on the Causes of a Revolution !


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ART. IX.-Essays and Orations, read and delivered at the Royal

College of Physicians; to which is added an Account of the
Opening of the Tomb of King Charles I. By Sir Henry Hal-

ford, Bart. M.D., G.C.B. London. 12mo. 1832.
THE President of the College of Physicians has produced in

these Essays a delightful compound of professional knowledge and literary taste. Handled with skill and feeling such as his, subjects of medical research have not only nothing dry or repulsive about them, but are of deep and universal interest and attraction. His points of view and illustrations are, in general, those of a man of the world, as familiar with men and manners as with books; his language is that of a graceful scholar—and the reflections interspersed are not more remarkable for sagacity, than agreeable for the benevolent and humane spirit which they reflect.

Sir Henry's remarks on the phenomena of the death-bed will be read with particular interest :—Whatever be the causes of dissolution, whether sudden violence, or lingering malady, the immediate modes by which death is brought about appear to be but two. In the one, the nervous system is primarily attacked, and there is a sinking, sometimes an instantaneous extinction, of the powers of life; in the other, dissolution is effected by the circulation of black venous blood in the arteries of the body, instead of the red arterial blood. The former is termed death by syncope, or fainting, the latter, death by asphyxia. In the last-mentioned manner of death, when it is the result of disease, the struggle is long protracted, and accompanied by all the visible marks of agony which the imagination associates with the closing scene) of life, -the pinched and pallid features, the cold clammy skin, the upturned eye, and the heaving, laborious, rattling respiration. Death does not strike all the organs of the body at the same time; some may be said to survive others; and the lungs are among the last to give up the performance of their function and die. As death approaches, they become gradually more and more oppressed; the air-cells are loaded with an increased quantity of the fluid, which naturally lubricates their surfaces; the atmosphere can now no longer come into contact with the minute blood vessels spread over the air-cells, without first permeating this viscid fluid,-hence the rattle; nor is the contact sufficiently perfect to change the black venous into the red arterial blood; an unprepared fluid consequently issues from the lungs into the heart, and is thence transmitted to every other organ of the body. The brain receives it, and its energies appear to be lulled thereby into sleep-generally tranquil sleep-filled with dreams which impel the dying lip to murmur out the names of friends and the occupations and recollections of past life: the


[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

peasant babbles o' green fields,' and Napoleon expires amid visions of battle, uttering with his last breath tête d'armée.'

The contrast between the state of the body and that of the mind is often very striking; the struggles of the former are no measure of the emotion of the latter. Indeed, the laborious and convulsive heavings of the chest are wholly automatic, independent of the will,-a part of the mechanism of the body, contrived for its safety, which continues to act when the mind is unconscious of the sufferings of the frame, or is occupied by soothing illusions. No one has described this better than Abernethy.

• Delirium often takes place in consequence of an accident of no very momentous kind,—it may occur without fever, or it may be aca companied with that irritative sympathetic which is often the last stage of all, that closes the sad eventful history" of a compound fracture. Delirium seems to be a very curious affection; in this state a man is quite unconscious of his disease; he will give rational answers to any questions you put to him, when you rouse him, but he relapses into a state of wandering, and his actions correspond with his dreaming. I remember a man with compound fracture in this hospital, whose leg was in a horrible state of sloughing. I have roused him, and said, “ Thomas, what is the matter with you ? how do you do?” He would reply, “Pretty hearty, thank ye; nothing is the matter with me; how do you do?" He would then go on dreaming of one thing or another; I have listened at his bedside, and I am sure his dreams were often of a pleasant kind. He met old acquaintances in his dreams,-people whom he remembered lang syne, liis former companions, his kindred and relations, and he expressed his delight at seeing them. He would exclaim every now and then,—" That's a good one; well, I never heard a better joke," and so on. It is a curious circumstance that all consciousness of suffering is thus cut off, as it were, from the body; and it cannot but be regarded as a very benevolent effect of nature's operations that extremity of suffering should thus bring with it its antidote.'

Occasionally the last dreams of existence are of a more painful nature ;-guilt is delirious with dread,-remorse peoples the fancy with terrific visions—but even these are chequered with scenes of a tranquil, not to say trivial character. The death-bed of Cardinal Beaufort, terribly true, is rare; the mixed feelings and shadowings of past life, exhibited in that of Falstaff, are much more frequent.

The second mode of dissolution is marked by the absence of all corporeal struggle. The mind is left free and unclouded, to the very verge of the grave, save by the influence which the particular malady itself exercises on the current of ideas and feelings. The sufferings of the patient are incidental to the progress of the disease ; but the end of all' is placid, painless, and ge


nerally sudden. Death, in these cases, attacks the sentient principle, through the nervous system, as it were, directly. It surprises the sufferer sometimes when sighing for the consummation of life, but believing the term yet distant; sometimes in the midst of plans and scheines which are destined never to be realized. In consumption, and, in general, in diseases which are slow in their progress, this sudden termination of life is as common as that more protracted form, already noticed. It is best exemplified by death produced by lightning, in which the visible alterations in the frame afford a striking contrast to the ordinary ravages of what is termed disease. The machinery of the body appears nearly perfect, and unscathed, and yet in none of the multitudinous forms of death is the living principle so summarily annihilated. Certain poisons appear to act in a similar manner; and, occasionally, the more important operations of surgery are followed by the like result; for which the genius of John Hunter could find no better explanation than the figurative hypothesis, that the vis medicatrix, conscious that the injury is irreparable, gives up the contest in despair.

Severe injuries inflicted on the great centres of the nervous system, the brain, spine, and stomach, are followed by instantaneous death : of which, pithing or wounding the uppermost part of the spinal-marrow of the bull, in the arena, and the coup de grace, or blow on the stomach of the criminal, whose limbs have been previously broken on the wheel, are well-known examples. Emotions of the mind, especially such as, by their depressing character, exhaust the energies of life, often terminate in this mode of death. The slightest causes, a mere fainting fit, trivial in every other state of the frame, in this may be fatal. It is the euthanasia of a healthy old age, and the termination assigned by nature to a life in which the passions have been controlled and the energies regulated by the authority of reason and a sense of duty.

Whether we look at the one mode of dissolution or the other, the sting of death is certainly not contained in the physical act of dying. Sir Henry Halford, after forty years' experience, says

• Of the great number to whom it has been my painful professional duty to have administered in the last hours of their lives, I have sometimes felt surprised that so few have appeared reluctant to go to the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveller returns." Many, we may easily suppose, have manifested this willingness to die, from an impatience of suffering, or from that passive indifference which is sometimes the result of debility and extreme bodily exhaustion. But I have seen those who have arrived at a fearless contemplation of the future, from faith in the doctrine which our religion VOL. XLIX, NO, XCVII.



« 이전계속 »