JAMES'S GREAT COMMANDERS.
Tars is the second biographical publication of military men we have been called on to notice within a fortnight. Mr. GLEm con- fined himself to British Generals: Mr. JAMES has joined British and foreign together, and made a small; and we must say poor, selection of the Great Modern CommAn.ders of Europe, in three volumes. The work has greatly disappointed us. Military science we did not expect ; a moderate portion of philosophy would have contented us; but we looked for great familiarity with the history of the times, and a picturesque style, which would set the age before us in all its characteristics. Instead of this, we find the tone of the work very tame, the infor- mation very ordinary, the philosophy confined to phrases banales, such as each succeeding writer borrows from his predecessor. The political opinions are as shallow as is possible ; and the military events are merely abridged from the most obvious sources. In summing up the character of OLIVER CROMWELL, he calls him a "hypocrite, a knave, a villain;'—by which it would appear, that he considers biography the art of calling names, for there is no other art in heaping such language upon OLIVER CROMWELL, or any other great man. It is our opinion that Mr. JAMES is quite incapable of appreciating the qualities of that extraordinary per- son; he is not, we suspect, in the habit of looking with any political sharpsightedness upon the plans and views of the great movers of the social machine. It is in these words that he describes the policy of RICHELIEU; which, as far as it has any meaning at all, is erroneous : meaning, however, is not intended—it is a repetition of the sounding commonplaces constantly employed by the authors of the last century, and which still survive in many of the French historical writers—
The state of France at this moment [under Richelieu] is worthy of some consi- deration. By a number of ill-directed enterprises, which were terminated in loss and defeat, however splendid might be their first success—by long civil wars and religious disunion—France had for several centuries been losing her political im- portance amongst the nations of Europe; while the house of Austria, uniting Spain, Flanders, Germany, and great part of Italy, under its domination, had acquired an apparent power which made the rest of Europe tremble. The eyes of the Cardinal de Richelieu, however, saw deeper than the surface ; and the moment he was called to the head of the French government—strong in his own powers of mind, seeing vast resources unemployed and even unknown in the country which he ruled, and a thousand points of real weakness under all the apparent vigour of Austria, he determined to raise France to her proper level, by de- pressing her rivals to their true station amongst the nations of Europe. War was then his policy, as far as regarded France ; and war was also his policy as far as regarded himself, for—feeling certain that if he could once launch the vessel of the state upon that wide and stormy sea which intervened between her and greatness, no one would be able to hold the helm, and no one possess the chart but himself—he hesitated not to put from the shore, secure that the pilotage must rest for ever in his own hands.
We had no reason to applaud the spirit in which Mr. GLEIG'S work was written; but in the ability of the authors there is no room for comparison. And yet, in the critical works of the day, we see this work harmoniously eulogized, as though all the re- views had been written to order. Because Mr. JAMES had written romances, it was supposed that his lives must be romantic, and so it is set down.