16 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 9



The Cambridge Modern History. Planned by the late Lord Acton, Professor of Modern History. Vol. X., " The Restoration." (Cambridge University Press. 16s. net.)—If this instalment of tho Acton Modern History is less interesting and instructive than the previous "Napoleon" volume of the series, the fault does not altogether lie with the syndicate of foreign and English scholars responsible for its contents : after the marvellous splendours of the epoch 1796-1815, pictures of the subsequent period must always have the gloom of a Gotterddiumerung or "Twilight of the Gods." The syndics had "with extended view" to "survey mankind from China to Porte " (the latter country has . a chapter to itself). Ranging from Ypsilanti to Bolivar, from Louis Philippe to Mehemet Ali, they show how, after Waterloo, the political situation was upset in fourteen countries by riots, rebellions, revolutions, wars of independence, rulers being expelled and constitutional progress effected. This volcanic condition of things has been docketed by editorial ukase with the obviously in- applicable title, " The Restoration," an expression which, when our Charles IL is not in question, means the return o7 the Bourbons to France after Elba and Waterloo. The book opens with a long chapter by Mr. Alison Phillips on the four Congresses that followed the settlement of Vienna, which is a short, desiccated version of his brilliant contribution on that topic to the " Periods of Modern History " Series. Excellent, if dry, is our well-known author's narrative of Alexander's dream of a Holy Alliance for the preservation of peace, based, as the Czar put it, on "the sublime truths of the religion of God our Saviour," Metternich's opinion being that this Cossack mystery was mere verbiage, while " carotid-artery-cutting " Castlereagh called it "a piece of sublime mysticism and nonsense." The attempts of the Monarchs and statesmen who met at Aix-la-Chapelle, Laibach, Troppau, and Verona to tune up for a concert of Europe resulted in failure ; their "music of the future" proved to be as inharmonious as the discordant sounds lately emitted by the diplomatic instrumentalists of the Hague. Devotees of the new "scientific" criticism will read with reverence the sketch of German literature from Lessing to " Young Germany." by Professor Robertson, who profoundly compares the theoretical objectivity of "classicism" with the realistic individuality of romanticism, which, it seems, aimed at reconstructing the imaginative world on the basis of the ego. The relation of Schiller and Goethe to the new movement is strictly diagnosed ; but to vulgarian details, like the merits of Wallenstein's speech in the Council Chamber, or Faust's soliloquy in his study, considered not as emanations of the " time-spirit," but as gems of artistic beauty, the writer does not descend. Mr. Courthope's combined verve, elegance of style, and correct judgment appear to perfection in his chapter on English literature, which treats poems and novels as books, not as "documents." His estimates of Moore, Byron, Shelley, and Wordsworth are finely drawn. Not concealing his love for the Peri disconsolate at the gate of Eden, ho boldly asserts that Scott "invented a new species of epic poem" which, though not without its defects, "possessed the swiftness of the Homeric narrative." Surveying the revolution effected by Sir Walter in romantic fiction, Mr. Courthope maintains that "so complete a fusion of the ideal and the real is not to be found outside the plays of Shakespeare " ; and analysing the influence of the " Waverley Novels " on Continental literature, he compares them with the works of Alexandre Dumas, laying down that tales like "Les Trois Mousquetaires," however groat as the creations of an amuseur, are wanting in Scott's elements of ethical and ideal truth.