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Refugee Chambers's Edinburgh Journal,
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Piozzi, Mrs. See Inedited Letters.
Post Office, Mechanism of-Qarterly Review,
Euvres de Condorcet completées sur les MSS. originaux: enrichies d'un grand nombre de Lettres inedites de Voltaire, de Turgot, &c.: précedées de l'Eloge de Condorcet, par M. F. ARAGO: publiees par A. Condorcet O'Connor, Lieutenant-Général, et M. F. Arago, Secretaire perpetuel de l'Academie des Sciences. 12 tomes 8vo. Paris, 1847-1849.
Or these twelve volumes the slenderest | plied the inedited materials of the collection, has 600 pages the most corpulent reaches and it is, no doubt, published at their exto 823 Of that first and monster tome 180 pense. pages are given to a biographical preface by Arago; 65 pages to letters between Condorcet and Voltaire; 170 to correspondence with Turgot and others; the rest to academical discourses and other minor pieces considered as illustrating important steps in Condorcet's personal career. The second and third volumes consist of his Eloges on Academicians. There succeed three of "Melanges de Littérature et de Philosophie;" one of them wholly occupied with the Life of Voltaire and Notes on his works-another with the historical Essays composed after Condorcet's proscription. The remaining six volumes are" Economie-Politique et Politique." The arrangement and editorship are, we presume, wholly M. Arago's. Condorcet's daughter and her husband, the wellknown General Arthur O'Connor, have supVOL. XXI. NO. I.
Bulky as it is more bulky, in fact, than the one of 1804, in twenty-one ordinary volumes-we miss here again several tracts which made noise enough in their day, and of which we possess the original editions, with the author's name to them. Several others, which M. Arago labels as now for the first time printed, are also on our shelves as yellow tea-paper pamphlets of the revolutionary period-and it is probable that their text, as given from Condorcet's MS., may be distinguished only by wanting his final correction-but that is a point which we lack zeal to investigate. What is certainly new comprises almost all Condorcet's letters to Voltaire-perhaps half of Voltaire's to him-and the far greater part of the correspondence with Turgot. The prefatory narrative was printed a few years ago in the
Journal des Savans-but those quartos have, | we suppose, very little circulation beyond the learned brotherhood; and M. Arago has now added an entertaining Epilogue, of which more anon. On the whole, it seems very improbable that the cost of these huge octavos will ever be repaid; but the really novel and popular materials entombed in the ponderous cenotaph will soon be reproduced in a couple of handy duodecimos-at Brussels, if Paris be not on the alert. At all events, there can be no doubt as to what concerns Voltaire.
For M. de Condorcet we cannot affect the enthusiasm which M. Arago proclaims. He seems to have been amiable-for his time and country exemplary-in his domestic relations; he was a man of vigorous talents and very extensive accomplishments; but why M. Arago should speak of the nom glorieux de Condorcet we are at a loss to comprehend. He was in no walk truly original-not in any sense of the word a genius--nor, as to mere acquisition, had he studied any one subject or science so profoundly as to merit a place among its first-rate masters. He was (to parody Johnson's phrase) a man of letters among the savants, a savant among the men of letters the best possible Secretary and Eloge-maker for the Academy-vix amplius. The cleverest of the lighter pieces, viz., the "Lettres d'un Théologien," are such close copies of Voltaire's controversial tracts-of his peculiar style of sarcasm and insolencethat, to the Patriarch's annoyance, they passed at the moment for his own. Condorcet's Political Economy is, first and last, an elaborate expansion of Turgot-of his political writings prior to 1788, we may say the same thing. His conduct from the commencement of the revolution to the fall of the Girondists seems to us very unworthy of Arago's lofty eulogies. The history of his closing months brings out some striking features of resolution and self-command; but on the whole, his public career was that of an uninteresting variety of the mischief-maker, -a sort of frigid fanatic, who calmly inculcated on the multitude lessons that they were sure to carry out into atrocity, and who, though he might not have foreseen the extreme plication of his own doctrines, was at least ready enough to exert all the resources of his literary skill in apologizing for the practical results. When an Arago could extol such a man in the face of the Academicians of 1845, as a model of philosophic and patriotic virtue, the Guizots who listened to him might have suspected that they were
yet to witness more fruits of the science of 1789.
Though M. Arago spends several pages in explaining why he gives not an Eloge but a Biographie, his bookseller's title-page speaks the truth, and his preliminary essay is in fact much more of a Panegyric than a Life. He has, in truth, very little feeling for anything connected with his hero except the mathematics and the politics; but of his studied contempt of mere practical information, we need give no other instance than that you read the Biographie on till within a few pages of its close, without once finding the man designated as a Marquis and the circumstance is then alluded to only because it was necessary to exalt the merit of Condorcet in moving a resolution of the Legislative Assembly that all patents of nobility, heraldic pedigrees, and other similar records and documents, should be collected and burnt by the public executioner.
If we may put any trust in earlier and less worshipful biographers, Condorcet, down to the dawn of the revolution, was rather noted for the importance he attached to the advantages of his birth. The family name was Caritat. They were said to have been of Italian origin, but had been classed for many generations with the gentry of Dauphiny, and took their title from the little town and chateau of Condorcet. His father, however, was a younger brother and captain of horse, and from him the philosopher appears to have inherited little or no fortune.* He was born at Ribemont, in Picardy, A. D. 1743. The Captain died early, and he was left to the guardianship of his mother, whom Arago describes as a devotee of the weakest credulity, and his father's elder brother, the Bishop of Lisieux, a prelate of considerable distinction, and notable not least for his
*The utter laxity, under the later reigns at least of the old régime, as to the assumption of all titles below that of Duke, is so notorious that we
ther the Terre of Condorcet had ever been erected
been able to examine.
may be contented with barely alluding to it. Wheformally into a Marquisat, we cannot say we only know that no such Marquisate is to be found in the index to Anselme, or any other old Nobiliaire we have We are equally uninformed how, if there was a real Marquisate, the son of a younger brother came to be the titulaire. It is probable that the head of the family, being an Ecclesiastic, may have obtained leave to resign the secular honor to his cadet. Whenever M. Arago mentions that gentleman, he calls him merely Captain Caritat-but this may be a bit of republican affectation. With our own radical newspapers, the Bishops of London and Exeter are rarely more than Dr. Blomfield and Dr. Philpotts.