Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

throughout London and the neighbourhood, other, to that sentiment of liberty which contemplated in silence the passage of his makes all feel the desire of defending them. hearse. The multitude were silent, the selves mutually against oppression ; for it is multitude evinced as much respect in the in that respect especially that, in politics, we expression of its grief as might have been should treat our neighbour as ourselves. expected from the most polished society. “ The state of information, and the enerNelson had given as a signal, on the day of gy of public spirit, is more than a sufficient Trafalgar, England expects every man to answer to the arguments of those men who do his duty;' he had accomplished that pretend that the army would overpower the duty, and when expiring on board his ves- liberty of England, if England were a consél, the honourable obsequies which his tinental state. It is, without doubt, an ad. country would grant him presented them vantage to England, that her strength conselves to his thoughts as the beginning of a sists rather in her marine than in her land new life.

forces. It requires more knowledge to be a “ Nor yet let'us be silent on Lord Welling. captain of a ship than a colonel ; and none ton, although in France we cannot but suffer of the habits acquired at sea lead one to de. by the recollection of his glory. With what sire to interfere in the interior affairs of the transport was he not received by the repre, country. But were nature, in a lavish sentatives of the nation, by the Peers and mood, to create ten Lord Wellingtons, and by the Commons. No ceremony was re- were the world again to witness ten battles quired to convey this homage rendered to a of Waterloo, it would never enter the heads living man; but the transports of the Eng- of those who so readily give their lives for lish people burst forth on all sides. The their country, to turn their force against it; acclamations of the crowd resounded in the

or, if so, they would encounter an invincible lobby before he entered the House ; when obstacle among men as brave as themselves, he appeared, all the members rose with a and more enlightened, who detest the mili. spontaneous motion, unrequired by any tary spirit, although they know how to ad. formality. The homage which is dictated mire and practise warlike virtues. elsewhere was here inspired by emotion. Yet nothing could be more simple than the “ That sort of prejudice which persuaded reception of Lord Wellington : there were the French nobility that they could serve no guards, no military pomp, to do honour their country only in the career of arms, to the greatest general of the age in which exists not at all in England. Many sons of Bonaparte lived: but the day was celebrat- lords are counsellors; the bar participates ed by the voice of the people, and nothing in the respect that is felt for the law; and like it could be seen in any other country in every career civil occupations are held in

esteem. In such a country there is nothing " Ah! what a fascinating enjoyment is as yet to be feared from military power : that of popularity! I know all that can be ignorant nations only have a blind admirasaid on the inconstancy, and even the ca- tion for the sword. Bravery is an admirable price of popular favour ; but those reproaches quality when we expose a life dear to our are more applicable to ancient republics, family, and when, with a mind filled with where the democratic forms of government virtue and knowledge, a citizen becomes a led to the most rapid vicissitudes. In a soldier to maintain his rights as a citizen. country governed like England, and, more- But when men fight only because they will over, enlightened by that torch, without

not take the trouble to employ their minds which all is darkness, the liberty of the and their time in some steady pursuit, they press, men and things, are judged with the cannot be long admired by a nation where greatest equity. Truth is submitted to the industry and reflection hold the first rank." observation of every one, while the various constraints that are employed elsewhere, pro- Manners, above all in the eyes of duce necessarily great uncertainty in judg- a Frenchwoman, are matters of imA libel, that glides across the com

portance enough to entitle them to be pulsory silence to which the press is con

considered in immediate connexion demned, may change public opinion in re

with subjects of more apparent dig. gard to any man, for the praise or the cen. sure ordered by government is always sus

nity. Our readers will be delighted picious. Nothing can be clearly and solid. to see what kind of impression our ly settled in the minds of men, but by free manners, so little understood among discussion.”

the Continental nations, made upon

the mind of one who had travelled so “ If any thing can seduce the English much, and with such opportunities nation from equity, it is misfortune. An and faculties of observation. individual, persecuted by any power what'ever, might inspire an undeserved, and con- “ The science of liberty (if we may use sequently a fleeting interest. But this noble that expression), at the point at which it is error belongs, on the one hand, to the gene- cultivated in England, supposes in itself a rosity of the English character, and, on the very high degree of information. Nothing

upon earth.

ments.

can be more simple than that doctrine, with the different writings which appeared when once the principles on which it re- under the arbitrary reign of Charles II. and poses have been adopted ; but it is never- under the Regent, or Louis XV. in France. theless certain, that, on the Continent, we The licentiousness of published works was seldom meet with any person who, in the carried among the French in the last cenheart and mind, understands England. It tury to a degree that excites horror. The would seem as if there were moral truths, case is the same in Italy, where, however, the amidst which we must be born, and which press has at all times been subjected to the the beating of the heart inculcates better most galling restrictions. Ignorance in the than all the discussions of theory. Never- bulk of the poeple, and the most lawless intheless, to enjoy and practise that liberty, dependence in men of superior parts, is alwhich unites all the advantages of republi- ways the result of constraint.” can virtues, of philosophical knowledge, of religious sentiments, and monarchial dignity, a great share of understanding is requi. “ In every country the pleasures of sosite in the people, and a high degree of ciety concern only the first class, that is, the study and virtue in men of the first class. unoccupied class; who, having a great deal An English minister must unite with the of leisure for amusement, attach much im. qualities of a statesman the art of expressing portance to it. But in England, where himself with eloquence. It thence follows, every one has his career and his employthat literature and philosophy are much ment, it is natural for men of rank, as for more appreciated, because they contribute men of business in other countries, to prefer efficaciously to the success of the highest physical relaxation-walks, the country ; ambition. We hear incessantly of the cm- in short, pleasure of any kind, in which the pire of rank and of wealth among the Eng- mind is at rest ; to conversation, in which lish ; but we must also acknowledge the ad- one must think and speak with almost as miration which is granted to real talents. It much care as in the most serious business. is possible that, among the lowest class of so- Besides, the happiness of the English being ciety, a peerage and a fortune produce more founded on domestic life, it would not suit effect than the name of a great writer ; this them that their wives should, as in France, must be so; but if the question regards the make a kind of family selection of a certain enjoyments of good coinpany, and conse- number of persons constantly brought to. quently of public opinion, I know no coun- gether. try in the world where it is more advanta- “ We must not, however, deny, that with geous to be a man of superiority. Not only all these honourable motives are mixed cerevery employment, every rank may be the tain defects, the natural results of all large recompence of talent; but public esteem is associations of men. In the first place, alexpressed in so flattering a manner, as to though in England there is much more pride confer enjoyments more keenly felt than than vanity, a good deal of stress is laid on

marking by manners the ranks which most The emulation which such a prospect of the institutions tend to bring on a level. naturally excites, is one of the principal There prevails a certain degree of egotism causes of the incredible extent of informa in the habits, and sometimes in the charaction diffused in England. Were it possible ter. Wealth, and the tastes created by to make a statistical report of knowledge, wealth, are the cause of it: people are not in no country should we find so great a pro- disposed to submit to inconvenience in any portion of persons conversant in the study of thing ; so great is their power of being comancient languages, a study, unfortunately, fortable in every thing: Family ties, so intoo much neglected in France. Private li- timate as regards marriage, are far from inbraries without number, collections of every timate in other relations, because the entails kind, subscriptions in abundance for all li- on property render the eldest sons too indeterary undertakings, establishments for pub- pendent of their parents, and separate also lic education, exist in all directions, in the interest of the younger brothers from every county, at the extremity as in the cen- those of the inheritor of the fortune. The tre of the kingdom : in short, we find at entails necessary to the support of the peereach step altars erected to understanding, age ought not, perhaps, to be extended to and these altars serve as a support to those other classes of proprietors; it is a remnant of religion and virtue.

of the feudal system, of which one ought, “ Thanks to toleration, to political insti. if possible, to lessen the vexatious consetutions, and the liberty of the press, there is quences. From this it happens likewise a greater respect for religion and for morals that most of the women are without porin England than in any other country in tions, and that in a country where the inEurope. In France people take a pleasure stitution of convents cannot exist, there are in saying, that it is precisely for the sake of a number of young ladies, whom their religion and morals that censors have been mothers have a great desire to get married, at all times employed ; but let them com- and who may, with reason, be uneasy as to pare the spirit of literature in England since their prospects. This inconvenience, prothe liberty of the press is established there, duced by the unequal partition of fortunes,

any other.

is sensibly felt in society : for the unmar- is the reason that people come as little forried men take up too much of the attention ward as possible in the presence of others. of the women, and wealth in general, far Animation and grace necessarily lose great. from conducing to the pleasure of social in- ly by this. In no country of the world tercourse, is necessarily hurtful to it. A have reserve and taciturnity ever, I believe, very considerable fortune is requisite to re- been carried so far as in certain societies in ceive one's friends in the country, which is, England ; and if one falls into such comhowever, the most agreeable mode of living panies, it is easy to conceive how a disrelish in England : fortune is necessary for all the of life may take possession of those who find relations of society ; not that people are vain themselves confined to them. But one of of a sumptuous mode of life ; but the im- these frozen circles, what satisfaction of portance attached by every body to the kind mind and heart may not be found in Engof enjoyment termed comfortable, would lish society, when one is happily placed prevent any person from venturing, as was there? The favour or dislike of ministers formerly the case in the most agreeable so- and the court are absolutely of no account cieties in Paris, to make up for a bad dinner in the relations of life ; and you would by amusing anecdotes.

make an Englishman blush, were you to “ In all countries the pretensions of appear to think of the office which he holds, young persons of fashion are engrafted on or of the influence he may possess. A sennational defects ; they exhibit a caricature timent of pride always makes him think of these defects, but a caricature has always that these circumstances neither add to nor some traits of an original. In France the deduct in the slightest degree from his perpretenders to elegance endeavoured to strike, sonal merit. Political disappointments canand tried to dazzle by all possible means, not have any influence on the pleasures engood or bad. In England this same class joyed in fashionable society ; the party of of persons wish to be distinguished as dis- opposition are as brilliant there as the midainful, indifferent, and completely satiat- nisterialists : fortune, rank, intellect, taed of every thing. This is disagreeable lents, virtues, are shared among them; and enough ; but in what country of the world never do either of the two think of drawing is not foppery a resource of vanity to con- near to or keeping at a distance from a perceal natural mediocrity ? Among a people son by those calculations of ambition which where every thing bears a decided aspect, have always prevailed in France. To quit as in England, contrasts are the more strik one's friends because they are out of power, ing. Fashion has remarkable influence on and to draw near to thein because they pos. the habits of life, and yet there is no nation sess it, is a kind of tactics almost unknown in which one finds so many examples of in England ; and if the applause of society what is called eccentricity, that is, a mode does not lead to public employment, at least of life altogether original, and which makes the liberty of society is not impaired by comno account of the opinion of others. The binations foreign to the pleasures which may difference between the men who live under be tasted there. One finds there almost in. the control of others, and those who live to variably the security and the truth which themselves, is recognized every where; but form the bases of all enjoyment, because this opposition of character is rendered more they form their security. You have not to conspicuous by the singular mixture of timi. dread those perpetual broils which, in other dity and independence remarkable among countries, fill life with disquietude. What the English. They do nothing by halves, you possess in point of connexion and friendand they pass all at once from a slavish ad- ship, you can lose only by your own fault, herence to the most minute usages, to the and you never have reason to doubt the exmost complete indifference as to what the pressions of benevolence addressed to you, world may say of them. Yet the dread of for they will be surpassed by the actual perridicule is one of the principal causes of the formance, and consecrated by duration. coldness that prevails in English society : Truth, above all, is one of the most distinpeople are never accused of insipidity for guished qualities of the English character. keeping silence ; and as they do not require The publicity that prevails in business, the of you to animate the conversation, one is discussions by which people arrive at the more impressed by the risks to which one bottom of every thing, have doubtless conexposes one's self by speaking, than by the tributed to this habit of strict truth which awkwardness of silence. In the country

cannot exist but in a country where dissiwhere people have the greatest attachment mulation deads to nothing but the mortifi. to the liberty of the press, and where they cation of being exposed. care the least for the attacks of the news- “ It has been much repeated on the Conpapers, the sarcasms of society are much tinent, that the English are unpolite, and a dreaded. Newspapers are considered the certain habit of independence, a great avervolunteers of political parties, and, in this, sion to restraint, may have given rise to this as in other respects, the English are very opinion.

But I know no politeness, no fond of keeping up a conflict; but slander protection, so delicate as that of the English and irony, when they take place in com- towards women in every circumstance of pany, irritate highly the delicacy of the life. Is there question of danger, of trouwomen, and the pride of the men. This ble, of a service to be rendered, there is noVOL. III.

4 N

[ocr errors]

sex.

es.

" Are sprung,

thing that they neglect to aid the weaker ideas and principles, which have been

From the seamen who, amidst the proved capable of producing, every storm, support your tottering steps, to Eng. thing that is great and good in human lish gentlemen of the highest rank, never does a woman find herself exposed to any endured that we should part with our

intellect and action, and it is not to be difficulty whatever, without being supported; and every where do we find that happy heritage. Let those whose reason is mixture which is characteristic of England, too refined to bear with our Gothic a republican austerity in domestic life, and prejudices, fly to the shores of another a chivalrous spirit in the relations of society. continent, where they may have in

“ A quality not less amiable in the Eng. abundance all physical accommodalish, is their disposition to enthusiasm. This tions, and all that they are pleased to people can see nothing remarkable without consider as freedom, in the midst of encouraging it by the most flattering prais. uncut forests and untilled savannahs,

One acts then very rightly in going to England, in whatever state of misfortune -in a land where there are neither one is placed, if conscious of possessing in castles nor cathedrals,-among men one's self any thing that is truly distinguish- that, puffed up with an ignorant and ed. But if one arrives there, like most of contemptible vanity, are contented the rich idlers of Europe, who travel to pass to consider themselves as the aborigia carnival in Italy, and a spring in London, nal titizyopogon of a new land, rather there is no country that more disappoints than to glory in the recollection that expectation ; and we shall certainly quit it without suspecting that we have seen the they speak the language of England,

and finest model of social order, and the only one which for a long time supported our hopes of human nature."

From earth's first blood." Upon the whole, we close the work Let such depart, and let us bid God of Madame de Stael with increased speed to their journey. But let us admiration for her talents, with not be deceived into any participation greatly increased regret, that she of their paltry phrenzy. Let us reshould have been cut off at a period joice in the memory of great and virof life when the direction of these ta- tuous ages ; let us not separate ourlents had begun to be more strictly selves from our fathers, or be the robuseful than ever,--when, if her ima bers of our children. agination and enthusiasm might be We cannot close our paper more apsupposed likely to decline, there might propriately, than with the following have lain before her so large a pros- pathetic and sublime sonnet of the pect of strengthening reason, and im- most meditative and English of our proving wisdom. The impression living poets. which her work is calculated to pro

“Now that all hearts are glad, all faces bright, duce in her own country, is a sober Our aged Sovereign sits;-to the ebb and How and salutary one of hope and patience. Of states and kingdoms, to their joy or woe, In ours, we trust it will be read and And lamentably wrapped in twofold night,

Insensible;-he sits deprived of sight, studied by those whose ignorance ren- Whom no weak hopes deceived,--whose ders them 'unconscious,

or whose

mind ensued, meanness renders them unthankful Through perilous war, with regal fortitude, observers of the blessings they enjoy. Peace, that should claim respect from law. The progress and results of the

less Might. French Revolution should produce on

Dread King of Kings! vouchsafe a ray divine us no other effect than that of a firm To his forlorn condition ! let thy grace and tranquil joy in the contemplation Permit his heart

to kindle, and embrace

Upon his inner soul in mercy shine; of our own condition at home. The (Though were it only for a moment's space) idea of establishing in modern Europe The triumphs of this hour ; for they are a system of polity upon any thing like THINE." the model or principles of the commonwealths of antiquity, however fase cinating the first idea of such a thing might have appeared, has been proved, by the experience of France, to be essentially unprofitable and absurd. It Some have thought that, in modern is too late to change the nature of works of fiction, there should be no Christendom. We have lived for gratuitous introduction of the pretera more than a sixth of the whole age of natural, and that superstitious tales the world in the cultivation of a set of are only to be tolerated when they

SOME REMARKS ON THE USE OF THE

PRETERNATURAL IN WORKS OF
FICTION.

man nature.

form a part of some picture of past works excite the feelings of supersti. ages, during which such things were tious fear and traditional awe in a deuniversally believed. But, even in gree that has never been surpassed. the most enlightened ages, so desirous Wordsworth’s fictions in this line have is the human mind of an outlet by exquisite beauty, and may be said to which to escape from the narrow cir- represent the spontaneous and creative cle of visible things into the unknown superstition of the human mind, when and unlimited world, that surely poets acted upon by impressive circumshould be permitted to feign all won- stances. The poems of the Thorn, ders which cannot be proved to be im- Lucy Gray, and Hartleap Well, are possible, and which are not contradic. instances of this. The poem of the tory to the spirit of our religion. Danish Boy is a beautiful superfluity

To this class belong the re-appeare of fancy, but is too entirely poetical ance of the dead, and the struggle of to please common readers. Lord Byevil beings for an ascendancy over hu- ron's strength lies in a different direc

The eastern talismanic tion; and the spectres which appear theory of sorcery supposed that super- in his poetry are not the product of human powers were acquired by dis- imagination working upon what is uncovering and taking advantage of the known and invisible, but are created occult laws of nature to compel the by the passions of the heart striving service of spirits ; but the notion of a to embody their own objects. The voluntary assistance lent by wicked world of spirits is not an object of inangels to wicked men is much more terest to him for its own sake, and sublime, and agrees better with the when he resorts to it, he does so only spirit of modern thought. The one is for the images of what he loved or a childish idea founded on the me- hated on earth. Mr Coleridge has chanical operation of causes which perhaps the finest superstitious vein of have never been proved to exist; but any person alive. The poem of Christhe other has a moral interest, being tabel is the best model extant of the conformable to our knowledge of char- language fit to be employed for such acter and passion.

subjects. It was the greatest attempt, That there exists in this country that before Walter Scott's poems, to turn strength of imagination which delights the language of our ancient ballads to in the feeling of superstitious horror, is account in a modern composition, and proved by the practice of our ancient is perhaps more successful in that redramatists ; and of all those authors spect than the Lay of the Last Minwho wrote in the original English spirit strel itself. Indeed Christabel may down to the end of last century, when, be considered as a test by which to partly from the revival of old ballads, try men's feeling of superstition, and and partly from the importation of whoever does not perceive the beauty German books, there sprung up an of it, may rest assured that the world immense number of romances and fic- of spectres is shut against him, and tions, the interest of which was found- that he will never see

any thing ed almost entirely upon apparitions worse than himself.” and the mysteries of haunted castles, To make the marvellous a means of or prophecies, dreams, and presente producing the ludicrous; that is to ments.

say, to arrive at new and diverting siEvery sort of machinery of this tuations, by feigning a suspension of kind was put in requisition ; till, by the laws of nature, has not been much the unskilfulness of the artists, and attempted in English literature, and the unsparing manner in which their is perhaps rather a cheap species of wit, resources were employed, the super- since it supposes more fancy than stitious branch of romance writing fell knowledge or penetration. At the gradually into disrepute ; and proba- same time it has its attractions; for bly among the immense number of it gives the mind a pleasing respite novels published, there are now six from the inexorable tyranny of facts, that represent modern manners, for and flatters us for a time with the apone that resorts to the old machinery pearance of vivid and immoveable naof spectres and mysteries. The great- ture relaxing from its severity, and est poets of the present tiine, however, ceasing to present the usual barriers have not disdained to continue the use, to our wishes. The tale of l’athek, of it; and indeed some of Scott's in which these things are well exem

« НазадПродовжити »