« AnteriorContinuar »
reverse. It is indeed almost impossible that, in a state of morals where conjugal relations are perfect, the other ties of family feeling should be so relaxed as the stage has led our author to suppose. The heart cannot be warm between parents, and chilled to their common offspring; and the example of such affection must awaken congenial tenderness in children. In a country indeed where every adult belongs so much to the public as in England, youth sooner attains emancipation than in states where despotism is disguised under the name of paternal government; and a father is obliged to yield up his son to the commonwealth at an early age. But does he for this give up his affection; oris filial love less strong because the public claim the time and talents of the rising generation? The early manliness of our youth, so completely contrasting with the long subjection in which others live, may make a foreigner suppose that their affections are as independent as their manners and their minds. The French require unbroken deference from their children; neither does any event of life—as the marriage of those children, their becoming parents in their turn—diminish filial bondage. British fathers (on the contrary) hasten to give their sons that independence which fits them for a free state; and never are more satisfied than when they see them assert their rights as British subjects. Besides, might we not add, paternal affection and filial return are stronger in proportion to the certainty which a parent has, that he is not merely the father quern nuptite demonstrant, and that this chance is greater in England, M. de Stael allows, since he admits that there le lien conjugal est dans toute sa beaute.
One consequence indeed of family connexion is more powerful in France than in England; but we deny that it is founded on affection —quite the reverse. It springs entirely from the sentiment which our author rightly terms,but sadly misapplies,' esprit de famille,' and which is little more than vanity. Every person bearing the same name, particularly if that name be one of the highest of the privileged class, is more or less considered as of the same blood, and all are in duty bound to maintain the rest in that condition of society which is worthy of it. In England the chief of the Howards or of the Percys would feel no mortification at beholding his arms engraved upon the seal of a man of very inferior rank and fortune; nay, would not blush to read his name upon the signboard of some very humble trader. But what humiliation would not a Montmorency feel if a Montmorency had not the means of living in the highest circles, or were to embrace any profession but that of a courtier, a man of the sword, or adignitary of the church? Not even the study of the law could be followed by him without a blush 4 no—he could not deign to be chancellor of France.
D 2 Now Now the only proofs which we can find of the' affection de famille,' which M.de. Stael supposes to exist exclusively in that country, are the subjection to their parents in which aged children live, and this vanity which makes it derogatory for any high born Frenchman to adopt an useful and honest, if it be an humble profession, and prompts all those who call themselves alike to rescue the name, if not the man, from the shame of subsisting by industry. We should indeed have been surprized if the assertion of our author had been correct; for we cannot grant that any feeling of the heart is so strong in France as in England. Where levity is great, and reflection rare,'the affections may be prompt and flashy, but they are not either deep or lasting.
Another opinion which we were sorry, for his sake, to find in M. de StaePs work is, that England has not been the protector of the liberties of other nations. This is the common cry of the French liberals; while that of the opposite party is that she has overthrown all the ancient institutions of the world, and protected the illegitimate emancipation of subjects. From this double reproach we should suspect that she has kept the proper medium, and done exactly what was requisite to promote freedom, and to oppose licentiousness. But, in fact, we think that if any reproach can be made upon this head, it is that England has been too officious, too sanguine in her endeavours to make other nations participate in the blessings which she enjoys; and that she has communicated the desire to men incapable of putting it in practice. The popular error in this country is, rather, that all men are equally fit for freedom, than that any nation can be disqualified. Hence every crude abettor of revolution expects to find assistance from this classic source of constitutional government, and many of them must of course be disappointed. But we defy M. de Stael, backed by all the liberals and all the doctrinaires of the French school, to prove her guilty, before a jury of men who really know what rational freedom is, of ever having opposed its introduction into any country upon earth; while her conduct in Sicily testifies her strong—even her rash desire to give every opportunity of establishing at least as much of it as men can bear, wherever she had any influence.
The remaining letters'of this work are upon many practica. points, through which we shall not follow our author, having other matters to consider. So great is his desire to be useful to his country—and we heartily wish that he may be so—that he enters into minute particulars upon the mode of debating in our House of Commons; and gives a frontispiece, representing the place of meeting, the speaker's chair, the ministerial and the opposition benches, the gallery, &c. Upon the whole we are far from joining in the general sentiments of our author, or of adopting the tenets of his school; yet we think that his views are benevolent; and though we cannot approve of his modes of reasoning, we give him full credit for his perceptive faculties. Notwithstanding the evident utility of the hints contained in this work, it is not likely that many of them will be adopted by the French, who feel excessive tenderness about openly imitating any thing from England. Though their constitution is the same in all its leading features, as our own, yet they would be very much irritated if they were told that it was but a copy. Nay, so jealous are they upon this head, that, in order to have some claim to originality, they have purposely introduced deviations, and put themselves to great inconvenience, as well as run a risk of adopting less expedient forms. The shifts which they made to escape the septenniality of our parliament were quite ludicrous; and their election laws were pitiful subterfuges to avoid our mode of choosing representatives. They prefer doing worse, to doing well with us; and, though the least original or inventive of nations, they have not greatness of mind to avow that the best modes of rule have been practised by a rival, long before they thought of any thing but despotism. Such narrowness of views has already been prejudicial to them; and, until they can enlarge their minds and feelings, it ever must be so. We have often thought that the first indication of improving morality in France will be her acknowledging that we are an honester nation than she is; and the first symptom of increasing wisdom, her perceiving our superiority in that matter also—as the first dawn of her liberty was her Anglomania,
We have selected the volume of M. de Stae'I as a favourable specimen of the opinions entertained in France respecting our political conduct: we shall now turn to another question, and examine the estimation in which our industry is held there. This is a subject upon which doubt cannot so easily hang; for, while there is no positive general standard of liberty, there is a very accurate measure of labour: produce. As long as the quantity of things produced can be measured in length, breadth and thickness, and their value expressed in francs, pounds sterling, or any other article of barter, reasoning will be less vague upon industry than upon constitutions. For this reason, juster notions of our superiority in the former than in the latter are current among the French; and, while they say that our elections exceed in corruption all that they could ever know—we suppose because, with them, ministers only have the means of influencing votes—they cannot deny the number of pounds of wool, cotton, or silk, which we spin and weave. Still,
p 3 however, however, they have a subterfuge for holding us wonderfully cheap, even for this very superiority: they ''clepe us pedlars,' despise us for having recourse to labour, and load us with all the opprobrious epithets due to rusty knaves and mechanics. Some few of them, indeed, begin to perceive that, notwithstanding the disgrace attached to trade and manufactures, industry is an essential means of national prosperity; and that even their great empire,'la belle France,' with he-r plains and her forests, her vines and her olives, runs considerable risk of being thrown, farther than ever, behind the shopkeeping nation, whose late successes in arms delivered and abashed her, and whose present prosperity quite stupifies her.
That this class, however, is not very numerous or enlightened, the French press demonstrates. The works which appear upon industry are lamentably few, and still more lamentably deficient in originality. Large views are therefore not to be expected; neither must the world look for much improvement from that quarter. The ' Societe $ Encouragement' publishes little of any value, except what is taken from England; and nothing is more completely jejune and characteristic than its bulletins. We could not, indeed, quote any work, periodical or not, worthy to be compared to the very worst production of these islands, relating to the subject now before us.
A weekly journal has lately been undertaken, ' Le Journal Hepdomadaire des Arts et Metiers,' for the express purpose of making known, upon the continent, the state of arts and manufactures in England; and, of all the presents which could be made to the French people, this is the richest. But it is an ungrateful task to teach a nation that thinks it has nothing more to learn: and the author is reduced to the necessity of apologizing for his temerity. As it is impossible to relate the wonders of British labour without eulogizing them, as to mention is to praise them, he has found it necessary to intimate that he is not an Anglomane; but that he does all this in order that the eyes of the whole world may be opened to see and imitate us. He tells his countrymen, however, some hard truths, and indirectly cautions them against one of their principal weaknesses:—
'Avant de tracer quelques routes, avant de signaler quelques points remarquables dans l'immense tableau industriel que j'offre h. mes lecteurs, je dois combattre ce honteux prejuge, cette pitoyable vanite, ces sentimem funestes de rivalite nationale, qui causent tant de dommage a ceux qui s'y livrent, et qui sont le signe special de la sottise et de l'ignorance; assertion dure, niais justifiee par les stupides detains qu'ont pour les autres peuples, pour leur intelligence et pour tout ce qui vient d eux, les esolaves brats de la Turquie et de la Moscovie; les faineans, les ignorans, les mendians, les superstitieux de la grande peninsule.'—' Vainement les petites bouffisures locales ou iudividuelles chercheroieut-elles h, nier les
superioritcs superiorites industrielles de l'Angleterrc. Les faits sont trop nombrcux, trap accumules; ils parlent trop haut pour qu'il n'y ait pas de la mauvaise foi a les nier.'
In a preface, containing sounder views than are usual in France, the author gives a rapid sketch of the present prospects of the world, in the branch of which he treats. After briefly considering the vicissitudes of trade and manufactures in Venice, Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and England, he concludes:—
* I. Le monde social a totalement change de sphere, et ne sortira plus de celle de l'industrie, dans laquelle l'anciennc propriete territorial*; n'a desormais qu'une importance extremement secondaire, au nioins quant an vieux continent. 2. L'Angleterre est seule, jusqu'k present, dans l'esprit de ce nouveau systeme. 3. Les deux Ameriques s'uniront a elle; et, si l'Europe demeure plus long-tems engourdie, etrangere aux grandes entreprises commerciales, a l'usage general des machines,—e'est a dire principalement a celui de la machine a vapeur—elle toinbera necessairenieut dans l'etat de pauvrete industrielle ou se trouvoient l'Espagne et le Portugal il y a 35 ans.'
The compiler of this journal, or, as he is termed in French, 'le principal redacteur,' was at first supposed to be M. Dupin; but there are evident marks that this is a mistake. M. Dupin is a better writer than the present, and is moreover much more familiar with scientific subjects; but what chiefly distinguishes them is, that the compiler of the ' Journal Hepdomadaire' appears to have sounder and more liberal (liberal in the good sense) views of general policy than M. Dupin. Besides, the compiler, in praising us, shows as little envy as a Frenchman can have, while the author of the ' Voyages dans la Grande Bretagne' gives too many proofs of that baleful sentiment. The former is, indeed, grossly mistaken respecting the conduct of England to Ireland, and also in some other points of her political bearings; but, at the same time, he seems to feel that a nation which makes so noble a use of intellect as she does—which, in all her relations of industry, has constantly shown such just and comprehensive views—cannot be guilty of the petty duplicity of which she is often accused. The latter has not elevated his mind to such a height as this; and, being compelled to acknowledge the wonders which he beheld, he solaces his jealousy in harping upon charges which a very little knowledge of the human heart would at once reject. It is impossible for such large and enlightened industry as that of England not to perceive that in every thing honesty is the best policy. Pettifoggers alone may thrive by nefarious practices.
The great authority upon the subject of British industry, ever since his work was published in France, is M. Dupin. Although we have already spoken of his volumes, we must revert to them again; particularly as our object in the remainder of this article