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satisfied with an acquisition of booty, he was desirous of breaking a lance in contact with the knights of that city, and dispatched his squire with a letter to the Moorish King to that effect. This letter was read aloud to the court; the challenge was received with joy; and so eager were the surrounding warriors to engage the Christian chief, that it was necessary to decide the question by lot. Muça was the fortunate man. The combatants then took the field, each superbly equipped; and the Queen and the court-ladies contemplated the scene from gilded balconies. The fight began; the knights rushed against each other, and broke their lances. On a second shock, the horse of the Moorish warrior fell; they then fought on foot; the Christian knight was slightly wounded in the arm; and soon afterward the Moor was severely wounded in the thigh. His life was now at the mercy of the Christian, who generously proposed to terminate the combat, and offered the Moor his friendship; which was accepted with great admiration of his magnanimity, and both chiefs retired from the field.
Such is the substance of a story which, by the aid of long speeches and minute particulars, is spun out through twenty pages. The other narratives embrace a great variety of subjects, but are similar in style and arrangement to the one which we have quoted. We have here no rich imagery, no pathetic description; and the diffuse character of the language makes the work barren even of those incidents which convey an idea of the national manners. The notes, or, as they are termed in the title-page, notes historical and literary,' are passages avowedly copied from Chénier and other writers. In short, we consider M.SANE's translation as a trading speculation, suggested by the momentary interest of Spanish affairs; and we do not judge so meanly of the taste of the French public as to augur it
ART. XVIII. Tableau Historique des Nations, &c. i. e. An Historical View of all Nations; or a Concatenation of the principal contemporaneous Events on the Surface of the Earth; with a general Sketch of the Progress of Arts, Sciences, and Literature, from the Beginning of the World to the present Time. By M. E. JONDOT. 4 vols. 8vo. Paris. 1808. Imported by De Boffe. Price zl. 89.
THE HE nature of this production would have been more clearly comprehended by the reader, had it been intitled " An Abridgment of Universal History from the Creation of the World to the present Time, in a series of chapters, each containing the contemporaneous Events in all Countries during the period expressed in its Title." These chapters are called Synchronisms,
and amount in all to the number of eighty-six. The plan of them will be best understood by selecting a particular example. If, for instance, we turn to the beginning of the third volume, we enter on the forty-fifth synchronism, which relates the events of the world from 741 to 775 of the Christian æra. After having given, in the first place, the history of the Greek Empire during this interval, M. JONDOT proceeds to describe the revolutions among the Arabs, the end of the dynasty of Omar, and the removal of the seat of empire from Damascus to Bagdad. He then directs his attention to Europe, where, in Spain, the progress of the elegant arts under the Saracens`; in Italy, the overthrow of the kingdom of the Lombards by Charlemagne; in France, the glory of that sovereign; in Germany, intestine commotions; and in England, the progress of the heptarchy towards incorporation into one kingdom; are successively described. A notice is added of those who filled the papal chair, and of the ecclesiastical councils holden during this interval; and the chapter is brought to a close by a few general remarks on the condition of society, and on the most remarkable characters of the age.
Those abridgments of universal history which have been formerly published,-such, for example, as that of Lenglet Dufresnoy,—were generally chronological, and, without ascending to the elevated tone of history, professed only to give brief notices of remarkable events. Bossuet's eloquent treatise on Universal History, and the ingenious disquisitions of Voltaire, belong to a very different class, and rank among the foremost of literary compositions: but M. JONDOT seems to have thought that the plan of these works was incomplete, and that the field was still open for a chronological history of the world from the earliest times to the memorable æra of Bonaparte. He has given his work a mixed character, and has sought to blend the elevation of historical narrative with the precision of chronological distinctions but his method is liable to several objections; the principal of which is the frequent distraction of the reader's attention to a variety of subjects. In the short chapters into which the writer has divided his book, the reader no sooner becomes interested in one nation, than he is hurried off to another in a very different stage of civilization, and from that other to a third; so that, for the sake of preserving the chain of contemporaneous occurrences unbroken, we are deprived of that fund of instruction which arises from the progressive influence of events in the formation of national character. This objection might have been lessened by lengthening the chapters, or rather by dividing the narrative into as many books as we have remarkable epochs in history: but the desire of novelty seems
to have outweighed all other considerations. Such a defect in the plan is the more to be regretted, because M. JONDOT gives evidence of considerable ability in historical composition; and he appears to the most advantage in those passages in which he sums up, at the conclusion of a chapter, the general characteristics of a particular æra. We present our readers with his reflections on the Empires of Rome and Constantinople, after the death of Constantine the Great :
The Roman empire, restored to unity under Constantine, now discovered some signs of energy; the barbarians were defeated in the East and West, and respected the power of this Emperor: but his sons did not inherit his talents; the degeneracy of the idolatrous Romans went on increasing; and the public calamities were renewed. Theodosius the Great accelerated their progress by following the policy of Claudius II. and Dioclesian, in incorporating the barbarians into the Roman legions. This gave the finishing blow to the Empire of the West, and extinguished the antient valour of the Romans. Theodosius, placed in difficult circumstances, had a fair excuse, but Claudius and Dioclesian had none. As soon as the Romans consented to purchase exemption from military service, and to trust strangers with the defence of the state, there was an end of public spirit; government lost its regularity, and the citizens lost their country. It was then that the disciplined barbarians, awakened to a sense of their strength, precipitated themselves on this colossal empire, overthrew it, broke it into pieces, appropriated it to themselves, disputed among each other for its vast ruins, and erected the monarchies of modern Europe.
Never did an empire, on the brink of destruction, find so many resources which might have accomplished its re-establishment, if a certain fatality, or rather a decree of Heaven, had not decided otherwise. Able Generals appeared, and succeeded each other in crowds: but they were almost all of barbarian origin, and were Romans only in ambition;-such were Stilico the Vandal, Etius the Mosian, and Ricimer the Suevian, who were the most famous military characters of this æra. The last would suffer only the shadows of Emperors to exist; yet, notwithstanding this base policy, he became unconsciously the instrument of raising great men to the empire. It was he who, by cutting them off in their career, proved himself the real subverter of the Western Empire.
Almost all the barbarous nations, who assailed the Roman Empire, began by ravaging both sides of the Danube. According to ordinary calculation, and according to those rules which make us consider Asia as the seat of effeminacy and cowardice, and Europe the seat of courage and discipline, we should be led to expect in the first instance the fall of the Eastern Empire. The contrary, however, was the case. The Western Emperors, devoid of policy, wished to impose on the barbarians by the antient majesty of the Roman name, and irritated them by assassinating their chiefs; while they themselves, a prey to traitors, were only the phantoms of sovereigns. Besides, the ablest Generals, such as those whom we have already named, while they propped the empire with one hand, applied the other to sap its foundations.
The Eastern Emperors, equally weak but more artful, and, above all, more compliant than their colleagues, were at least sensible of their own inefficiency, and disarmed the Goths and Huns, by submitting to the momentary humiliation of a tribute. Intent on sowing dissension among the barbarians, they diminished by these means their power of doing mischief to other nations; and the whole of their government bore greater indications of secrecy and concert than that of Rome.'
M. JONDOT gives evident marks of his being a Frenchman, both in partiality to his ancestors and in the general style of his composition. Exaggeration is a prominent characteristic of his work, and it is scarcely necessary to add that this is productive of frequent inaccuracies and misrepresentations. His lofty encomium on the morals of the Chinese, (vol. i. p. 154.,) and his inference that an adherence to antient usages increases political strength, are striking examples also of his want of judgment. In regard to his credulity, it will be sufficient to state his belief of the vulgar report that Homer was reduced to beg his bread throughout Greece; and that the Phoenicians (vol. i. p. 56.) not only doubled the Cape of Good Hope, but extended their westward voyages to the continent of America. Of his partiality to his ancestors the Gauls, the first instance occurs in the capture of Rome by Brennus, vol. i. p. 231. It will be in the recollection of most of our readers that, after these invaders had destroyed the city, they besieged the capitol, the obstinate defence of which gave time to Camillus to assemble an army, and to overpower them. According to M. JONDOT, however, the Gauls withdrew by treaty, and Camillus's victory seems an invention of the Roman historians to disguise the shame of their ancestors.' In the concluding summary of the chapter, he describes the Gauls as a people who had come forwards on the stage of history with the greatest éclat.' In the age of Alexander, it is amusing to find. the author explaining the incursions of these savages (vol. i. p. 268.) into Greece and Asia in such terms as the following:
The Gauls, warlike and proud, wished also to obtain renown, and to conquer nations not so good as themselves? Ptolemy Ceraunus, having by means of assassination (vol. ii. p. 6.) usurped the throne of Macedon, the Gauls invade his kingdom, as if sent from heaven to punish this monster.' When Cæsar had accomplished the conquest of Gaul, M. JONDOT modestly remarks, (vol. ii. p. 98.) Never would Gaul have become subject to the Roman empire, had its inhabitants been united: but it was the policy of Casar to conquer one part of the nation by the arms of another part.' For the Franks, the more imme diate predecessors of his present countrymen, the author has
yet higher encomiums in reserve., Still braver than the Gauls, their prominent characteristic was impetuosity; they were a nation of hunters.-If a warrior lost an arm in battle, he continued to fight resolutely with the arm that remained.'
As a proper finish to these extravagancies of national conceit, we shall give the author's account of the modern battle of Aboukir. It has been generally thought that the position of the French fleet was very advantageous, and their Admiral wrote that "it was such as to bid defiance to all the navies of the universe" but M. JONDOT has no hesitation in dissenting from general opinion, and in ascribing to this position the loss of the battle. The French fleet,' he says, (vol. iv. p. 490.) had gone too far into Aboukir-bay; the English Admiral, Nelson, came up; a furious combat ensued; and the enemy,taking advantage of the wind, as well as of our bad position, obtained a great victory.'
We must admit, however, that M. JONDOT's style is always serious, and sufficiently elevated even for the dignity of history. It would be unsuited to familiar illustrations, and accords best with a momentous and impressive subject. His description of the pestilence, which desolated the civilized world in the middle of the fourteenth century, is thus given:
What a disastrous epoch for humanity was this: no refuge could be found on earth for the inoffensive inhabitants: but war, pestilence, and famine followed each other throughout the world. Swarms of locusts scattered desolation during three successive years, and were in France, as well as in Germany, the forerunners of farther calamities to the people. Repeated earthquakes preceded the pes tilence; and the noxious vapours exhaled from these concussions conduced, in the opinion of some persons, to the infection, though the more general belief is that it was brought to Europe by merchant vessels. This terrible scourge traversed the whole civilized world, and swept off in its progress a third of the population both in town and country; brute animals as well as men were attacked by it great cities resembled sepulchres; and the dead were carried to the grave by the dying. Throughout Asia, the fields remained uncultivated and desert, and famine destroyed those whom the contagion had spared. In the city and neighbourhood of London, the number of victims were reckoned at 50,000; in Florence, 60,coo; ia Lubeck, 60 oco; and in Paris, above 500 dead bodies were daily carried out of the Hôtel Dieu. Venice was almost stript of its inhabitants, and the nobles of the great council were reduced from 1250 to 380. Andrea Dandolo, the Doge, attracted new inhabitants by granting them advantageous privileges: but the sick almost all died through neglect.
A religious terror overcame the minds of men. These scourges were considered as the forerunners of the destruction of the world; and a passage in the Apocalypse, erroneouly translated, gave a