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report sent by Marshal Villars to the French ministry upon the insurrection he is thus described:
'He is a peasant of the lowest class; he is not twenty, and looks only eighteen; he is short and not striking in his appearance, qualities necessary for the people, but he has surprising firmness and good sense. It is certain that, to keep his men under command, he often punished them capitally. I said to him yesterday, "Is it possible "that, at your age, and without a long habit of command, you found no "difficulty in frequently executing your own men?""No, sir," said he, "when it seemed to me just."" But of whom did you make use to inflict the punishment?"-"Any one to whom I gave the order. "Nobody ever hesitated to obey my commands." I think you will be surprised at this. He has made also many arrangements for his subsistence, and draws up his forces for action as well as well-educated officers could. I shall be fortunate if I can detach such a man from them.'
Villars was not the only person who bore witness to Cavallier's genius. I confess,' says Malesherbes, that this warrior 'who, never having served, found himself a great general by the 'gift of nature alone; this Camisard, who on one occasion 'dared to punish crime, in the presence of a ferocious troop, 'which subsisted only by means of similar crimes; this rude 'peasant, who, admitted into good society at the age of twenty, 'assumed its manners, and gained its love and esteem; this man 'who, accustomed to a life of excitement, might have been naturally intoxicated by his success, and yet had enough philo'sophy to enjoy, for thirty-five years, a tranquil private life,'appears to me one of the rarest characters transmitted to us 'by history.'
The remarks of Villars are the result of his personal observation, and as such are curious, and probably just, but we cannot agree with the panegyric of Malesherbes. Cavallier's reputation rests entirely on a single exploit achieved in very early youth. Most other persons of whom the same could be said died whilst their reputation was still fresh, and before it had been tested by their subsequent career. Such was the case with Gaston de Foix, Joan of Arc, and Chatterton. Cavallier lived to be upwards of fifty years of age, and passed the last thirty years of his life in almost unbroken obscurity. It is true that circumstances did not favour his subsequent rise, as they had favoured his early distinction. He was a man of low birth, of few connexions, a refugee, and a soldier of fortune, in an age eminently aristocratic. It may seem strange at first sight that
* Quoted in the Biographie Universelle, art. Cavallier.
these circumstances should have overpowered the energies of one who had overcome difficulties so much more formidable. The qualities, however, which he displayed in his youth were remarkable rather for their intensity than for their rarity. The problems which a general, especially a guerilla chief, has to solve, are not usually above the capacity of very ordinary minds. The circumstances under which they are to be solved make the real difficulty of the solution. If all the facts which were before Wellington at Salamanca were laid before any ordinary person, and if he had ample time to consider the question, he might very possibly arrive at Wellington's conclusions; but not one man in a million would have arrived at them in a moment, in the midst of killed and wounded, under the fire of two armies, and oppressed by the consciousness of all the importance of the decision. It is like a sum, which any one can work out on paper, but hardly any one in his head. The coolness, self-possession, and decision necessary for such a purpose are often found in connexion with the highest intellectual capacity, but they by no means imply it. They are quite consistent with a narrow understanding, great ignorance, and the absence, not only of ambition, but of capacity for high and generous aims in life.
It is clear from his memoirs, if indeed he is responsible for more than their form, that Cavallier never supplied the deficiencies of his education. It is probable that he remained to the end of his life what the revolt of the Cevennes left him, a keen ready-witted, not over-scrupulous soldier of fortune. His character is not one to be loved. It does not even command admiration by extraordinary power. It affords an almost unique example of the precocious development of some elements of greatness. At nineteen Cavallier possessed a greater power of command, and more of the knowledge of human nature which that power implies, than most men acquire in a lifetime of authority. The war of La Vendée, in many respects analogous to that of the Cevennes, affords no parallel to his career. rochejaquelin and Lescure were supported by the feudal reverence of the peasantry, and the superiority of their education. The Camisards had no gentry to head them. They were men of a fiercer and more intractable temper than the Vendeans, and yet they obeyed their leaders so devotedly, that with far smaller forces, and opposed to much more disciplined enemies, they supported the war for a longer time, and brought it to a more favourable issue. Cavallier, in common with the other Camisards, was charged by the Catholics with cruelty. And, so far as the most bloody reprisals against person and property
will justify the charge, it is no doubt true. But the government was quite as cruel as the rebels, and in one respect more cruel, for they tortured their prisoners, which the Camisards did not. It is to be remembered, however, that at this time, and long after, burning, breaking on the wheel, and quartering were recognised modes of execution in France; and that the application of torture, for purposes of evidence, was universal. Indeed, in capital causes, it was in some degree favourable to the prisoner, as it gave a man possessed of sufficient fortitude an additional chance of saving his life.
In some respects the Camisard discipline was very strict. Murder, robbing, and pillage were punished with death. Madame de Miramand, a Catholic lady well known for her charities, having been murdered, by persons calling themselves Camisards, the neighbouring villages sent to Cavallier to justify themselves from participation in the crime. He sent out a party to arrest the murderers, who seem however to have expected to be rewarded. Four men were brought to him, of whom three were found guilty, and one acquitted. The three who were found guilty were shot, and their bodies were exposed on the road with a notification of the reason. Cavallier says that he would have punished them far more severely if he had had a single one of Bâville's army of executioners.
Cavallier's career is more interesting than his character; but the important position which he held in the revolt of the Cevennes, is a landmark in the history of French Protestantism. In the beginning of the eighteenth century the traditions of the great Huguenot wars were not extinct. The tradition of the effective administration of the Edict of Nantes was still fresh. Men remembered the time when the Huguenots had been the most important party in the State, and yet in the last struggle of that party for existence, it could find no better champions than a baker's apprentice and a vine-dresser. The proximate cause of the failure of the revolt was the desertion of Protestantism by the aristocracy. In devotion to their principles, in military talent, in courage, the Camisards might bear a comparison with any of their predecessors in the history of their religion. The foundations of a great party were there, but none of the materials for the superstructure. Their success, and their failure, are amongst the most remarkable of all illustrations of the strength and weakness of fanaticism. The question why the aristocracy deserted Protestantism would lead us far from our present subject. The causes lie deep in the character of the nation, and are, in all probability, only a part of the generic differences by which one type of character is distinguished from another.
ART. VI. — Numismata Hellenica. A Catalogue of Greek Coins collected by WILLIAM MARTIN LEAKE, F.R.S., one of the Vice-Presidents of the Royal Society of Literature. With Notes, a Map, and Index. London: 1854.
ET it be supposed that an inquiring Chinese philosopher, imperfectly acquainted with the productions and history of any country except his own, but having at the same time a shrewd suspicion that there is more in such matters than his own philosophy has hitherto dreamt of, falls in with a parcel of ancient silver Greek coins, through the intervention, it may be, of some trader in the Eastern seas. After the first movement of admiration excited by the handsome appearance of the coin, -for, although these pieces are very different from the sapecks, or flat perforated circlets of mingled brass and pewter which his countrymen string up by the thousand for ordinary circulation, he knows enough of the modern currency of other nations to satisfy him that they were intended for coin or money,he examines the legend, and finds that it consists of letters not dissimilar in some respects to the letters used by most of the nations of modern Europe, and yet by no means the same. From some friendly missionary he learns that these letters are Greek, and that the Greeks were a mighty nation among the 'outer barbarians,' about the time of the great Confucius. Already, then, this parcel of coins has imparted to his mind a great fact of which he was previously ignorant, and he is led to speculate upon the character of the nation from which they emanated. They are the almost indestructible memorials of other races, other powers, other societies, other arts.
He will conclude, from the variety of smaller coin in the parcel, that silver was used by the Greeks where most other nations have used copper, and that it was very plentiful among them. Although he never heard of the mines of Laurium, or the argentiferous properties of the soil of Thrace, he will presume that some such mineral wealth existed. And having ascertained that the silver of which these coins are composed is of a high degree of purity, he concludes that the people who produced them possessed a competent knowledge of the art of assaying. He takes out his scales,-used by his countrymen to test the weight of their own currency of uncoined silver and gold, and he observes that these Greek coins are for the most part either the multiples of one another, or of exactly the same weight. From this he infers that this ancient people had fixed
VOL. CIV. NO. CCXI.
for themselves a standard of weight as well as a standard of purity. He sees that they studied to afford every facility for ensuring correctness in the operations of trade, and he infers that they trafficked extensively. The dolphin which he finds on one coin, and the crab upon another, will give him an idea that they lived near the sea, while the ear of barley and the bunch of grapes and the oil-jar will satisfy him that they cultivated a productive soil, and not without success,
Our philosopher examines the types and devices a little farther. He observes upon one, an Athenian coin, — that the head which it bears is surmounted by what must evidently have been intended as a protection from hard blows,-in other words, a helmet. Upon another he finds a figure in a menacing attitude, holding a shield in front, and a spear brandished aloft. These Greeks, he says, must have been not only merchants, but warriors also. His friend, the missionary, tells him that they conquered the world: and with the proviso that by the world must be understood only that insignificant portion of it which lies on the other side of the globe, he sees no reason to doubt it.
Pleased with his progress, therefore, and delighting to muse upon these memorials of the past as they lie before him, our Chinese inquirer finds himself captivated by imperceptible degrees with the grace and proportions of some of the figures upon these coins. The longer he looks, the more he admires them. He perceives in them something which he never found even in the most approved compositions of his own countrymen, and he is constrained to acknowledge the evidence of an inventive genius and a refined taste such as he had never before known or imagined to exist. The mechanical process, too, by which these elegant devices were transferred to a metallic surface with as much apparent ease as if it had been wax,—the accuracy and exquisite minuteness of the workmanship,-excite both surprise and admiration. And if perchance with the aid of a lens he detect some unlooked-for inscription, -on the rim of a helmet for instance, or on the lower side of a dolphin, giving the name of the artist who executed the work, he perceives that the artists of the celestial empire are out-done even in that minute nicety of touch which has been regarded as their own peculiar province.
Such would probably be the reflections and discoveries suggested to an intelligent inquirer, even among the remote Chinese, by the accidental view of a small number of the coins of ancient Greece. Perhaps it would be too bold a stretch of imagination to go further. Yet we may safely say that other reflections besides these, reflections upon the political relations of the