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connexions, all preclude the charge of her writing under the bias of party spirit.
• Religion being one of the great springs of all government, the conduct proper to be observed in this respect should seriously occupy the altention of ministers; and the principle of the charter to which they ought the most scrupulously to have adhered, was that of universal toleration. But because there exists still in the south of France, some traces of the fanaticism which had so long devastated its provinces, because the ignorance of sonie portions of the people is equal to their vivacity, was it right to permit them to insult the Protestants on the public places, by sanguinary songs, which announced the assassinations that have since been committed ? The holders of the church lands, must they not tremble in their turn, when they see the Protestants of the south given up to massacre? The agriculturists also, who no longer pay either tithes or feudal duties, must they not consider their interests as involved in the cause of the Protestants, and, in a word in those principles of the revolution which were recognised by the King himself, but constantly eluded by the ministers? The irreligion of the people is a just cause of regret in France; but if it is attempted to bring back the old order of things by the influence of the clergy, infidelity will inevitably be aggravated by irritation.'
This subject is again introduced in a subsequent chapter.
..... A hundred and eighty Protestants have been massacred in the department of the Gard, while the terror inspired by the assassins has deterred the tribunals from condemning the guilty, not one of whom has suffered death as the punishment of his crimes. It has been eagerly said, that those who perished were Bonapartists; as if no apology were required for sufiering men to be massacred because, forsooth, they are Bonapartists. But this charge was as false as those charges usually are, with which rictims are loaded. That man is innocent who has not been judged; still more, the man who has been assassinated; still more, women who have perished in these bloody scenes. The murderers in their atrocious songs devoted to the poignard those who professed the same faith as the English and the more enlightened half of Europe. The English ministry, which has restored the papal throne, saw ihe Protestants menaced in France, and far from interposing on their behalf, takes up against them those political pretexts which parties have made use of against each other since the commencement of the revolution. It was requisite to terminate the argument of force, which, changing only some proper names, might be applied by turns to both of the opposing factions. Would the English government now profess as great an antipathy to the reformed faith as it has for republics ? Bonaparte in many respects had the same feeling. The heritage of his principles has become the portion of certain diplomatists, in the same way as the conquests of Alexander fell to his generals. But conquests, however reprehensible they may be, are less so than the doctrine which is founded upon the degradation of the human species. Shall the English ministry still be allowed to say, that it is a point of conscience with them not to meddle with the interior affairs of France? Ought
not such an excuse to be forbidden them? In the name of the Enge lish people, whose sincerity is their first virtue, and who are misled, unconsciously, in the path of political perfidics--in the name of this nation I ask, if one can refrain from a bitter scoff in hearing men who have twice disposed of the fate of France, advance this hypocritical pretext, only for declining a beneficent interposition, only for refusing to render to the Protestants their rightful security, and to claim on their behalf the sincere execution of the constitutional charter? For the friends of liberty are also the brethren in religion of the English people. What! Lord Wellington is authentically charged by the powers of Europe to watch over France, since he is become responsible for its tranquillity. The note which invested bim with this power has been published. In this same note, the allied powers have made a declaration which does them honour, that they consider the principles of the constitutional charter as those by which France should be governed. A hundred and fifty thousand men are under the orders of him to whom such a dictatorship is granted, and the English ministry come forward and declare that they cannot interfere in our affairs !!
Having followed the course of events as far as the period of the second restoration, Mad. de Staël closes her work with the discussion of some general political questions. In these concluding chapters, there are positions advanced relative to the history and causes of English liberties, which seein to us liable to considerable objections: these objections could not, however, be stated and defended without trespassing much too far beyond our limits. Mad, de Staël's aim, whether her reasoning be just or pot, is worthy of her enlightened, liberal, and patriotic character; and the general political tendency of her work is unquestionably beneficial. In her picture of England there are also some details and descriptions which will, perhaps, excite a smile among ourselves, or at least appear scarcely worthy of the dignity of her general subject. It should, however, be stated, that the third volume is published without alteration (as the editors assure us) from the Author's unrevised copy : this is jodeed evidenced by the more frequent involution and complication of sentences, and by an occasional want of continuity of thought. The secret of an author's method of composition is betrayed in a rough copy. A fine thought--a profound thought flashes upon Mad. de Staël; she seizes and presents it, and then sets to work to connect it, to the thought that goes before, and the thought that is to follow, with some plausible air of coherence. But these thoughts are in themselves almost always striking and beautiful, and very often just and profound.
The ultra-royalists are fond of saying, that the French people are not made to be free; and that despotism is their inberitance, by the irreversible grant of nature or Providence.
• This absurd assertion signifies nothing but this, that it suits certain
privileged persons to be looked upon as the only men who can govern France wisely, and to consider all the rest of the nation as factious. It is under a point of view more philosophical and more impartial, that we shall examine what is meant by the phrase, a people made to be free.” I would simply reply, It is a people who desire to be free. Nor do I believe that history presents an example of a national will, that has not been accomplished. The institutions of a country, whenever they are below the knowledge diffused among the people, tend inevitably to rise towards that level. Now, since the latter years of Louis XIV. up to the period of the revolution, both mind and force have been on the side of the people, and decay on that of the government. But it will be said, that the French, during the revolution, have not ceased to wander between absurdities and crimes. If this were true, the blame masi fall, I cannot too often repeat it, upon the ancient political institutions ; for it is these which have formed the nation. And if they had the tendency to en. lighten only a small number, and to deprave the mass, assuredly they were worth but little. But the sophistry of the 'enemies of human reason is this, that they would have a people possess the virtues of liberty, before they had obtained it · while, in truth, they cannot possess these virtues till after they have enjoyed liberty, since the effect cannot precede the cause. The first quality of a nation which begins to be impatient of an arbitrary and exclusive government, is energy. The other virtues can only be the gradual result of institutions which have lasted long enough to forin the public mind. The French, it is said, are frivolous, the English are serious: the French are lively, the English are grave : the former, then, must be governed despotically, while the latter may be free. It may be observed, that if these English were now struggling for liberty, there would not be wanting those who would discover defects in the national character, which would be alleged as being incompatible with liberty: but now the fact refutes the argument. In our France commotions are apparent, while the true causes of these commotions are understood only by those who think. The French are frivolous, because they have been condemned to a species of government which could sustain itself only by encouraging frivolity; and as to vivacity, they have much more of it in their intellect, than in their temper. There is among the English a much more violent impetuosity, of which their history presents a multitude of examples. Who could have believed, two centuries ago, that a regular government would ever be established among these factious islanders ? On the continent they were, at that time, declared to be incapable of it. They have deposed, killed, overthrown, more kings, more princes, more governmenis, than all the rest of Europe put together : nevertheless, they have at length obtained the most noble, the must brilliant, the most religious system of social order which is to be found on this side the Atlantic. All countries, all people, all men are capable of liberty by their different qualities; all obtain, or will obtain it, in their own way.'
There then follows a review of English history, upon which much might be remarked. Mad. de Staëls object is to prove, that there is as fair a promise for liberty in France at present, as there was in England before the revolution of 1688.
* I know indeed, that the English will pretend, that they have in all ages had more of the spirit of liberty than the French ; that, from the invasion of Cæsar they resisted the Roman yoke; and that the Roman code, digested under the emperors, was never introduced into the English laws. It is also true, that in adopting the Reformation, the English have established, at once, in the firmest manner, morality and liberty. The clergy having always sat in Parliament with the temporal lords, have had no distinct power in the state ; and the English nobility has been more factious, but less courrier-like, than the same order in France. These differences, it cannot be denied, are so many advantages in favour of England. In France, the fineness of the climate, the taste for the pleasures of society—all that which embellishes life, has served to support arbitrary power, as is the case in all southern climates, where the pleasures of existence suffice to man. But when once the desire of liberty has taken possession of the public mind, even the faults with which the French are reproached—their vivacity-their self-love, will attach them the more strongly to that which they have resolved to conquer for themselves.'
There are causes of the differences between England and France, still more grave and radical than those here alluded to. But we must now wave these complicated topics, and present yet a few miscellaneous quotations. The justness of some assertions in the following representation of English manners, depends upon their being considered only as comparative statements.
'In all countries, the pretensions of the young people of fashion are allied to the national defect: they exhibit, as it were, a caricature of this defect, but a caricature has always some traces of the original. The fashionables in France seek to produce effect, and strive to dazzle by all means, good or bad. In England, this same class of persons would distinguish themselves by the affectation of disdain, and by the most complete and immoveable indifference. This is disagreeable enough: but in what country of the world is not affectation the resource resorted to by self love, to hide natural mediocrity. Among a people with whom every thing is marked and decided, as in England, all contrasts are so much the more striking. Fashion has a singular empire over the habits of life ; nevertheless, there is no country where one finds so many examples of what is called eccentricity; that is to say, a manner of being altogether original, and which takes no account of the opinions of others. The difference between men who live under the empire of others, and those who exist within themselves, is every where apparent: but this opposition of characters presents itself more forcibly from the strange mixture of timidity and independence, which is observable among the English. They do nothing by halves, and pass all at once from subjection to the most minute usages, to the utmost indifference to opinion. Yet the dread of ridicule is one of the principal causes of the stiffness which reigns in English society. No one is accused of insipidity because he is silent ; and as no one requires of you to animate the conversation, thic hazards
to which one is exposed in speaking, are more thought of than the awkwardness of silence. In the country where there is the highest regard to the liberty of the press, and where but little concern is felt from the attacks of the public journals, the pleasantries of society are very formidable. The papers are considered as the volunteers of the different po. litical parties, and the English take delight in this, as in other modes of warfare. But scandal and irony, of which society is the theatre, peculiarly alarm the delicacy of the women, and the pride of the men. For this reason, every one coinmits himself as little as possible in the presence of others : sprightliness and grace of manner necessarily suffer from this feeling. In no country in the world, I believe, have reserve and taciturnity been carried to such an extreme, as in certain societies of England; and in becoming acquainted with such circles, one may readily understand how those who are enchained within them, may become disgusted with life. But out of these icy enclosures, what gratifications of the soul and the intellect may one not find in English society, when once advantageously admitted to it! The favours or the frowns of ministers, or of the court, are not felt in the ordinary relations of life : an Englishman would blush, if, in conversing with him, you appeared to be occupied with the place he may fill, or the political credit he may enjoy. A high-toned sentiment makes him always suppose, that these circumstances can neither augment nor diminish his personal merit. Po. litical disgraces cannot disturb the pleasures enjoyed in the higher circles. The society formed by the members of the opposition, is as brilliant as that of the ministerial party. Fortune, rank, mind, talent, virtue, are found alike on both sides; and never would an individual of either party be courted or avoided, from those calculations of ambition which have always ruled in France. To abandon one's friends because they are no longer in power, and then to court acquaintance with those who are, is a species of tactics almost unknown in England, and if shining talents in society do not conduct those who possess them, to places under government, neither is the liberty of society at all impaired by any considerations foreign to its proper pleasures. Security and truth, which form the basis, because they are the guarantees, of all enjoyments, are almost invariably found in it. You have nothing to fear from those perpetual broils and intrigues which, in other countries, fill life with inquietudes. What you possess in connexions and in friendships, you can lose only by your own fault; and you have never reason to suspect the expressions of good will that are addressed to you, for they will be surpassed by actions, and consecrated by duration. Sincerity, especially, is one of the most eminent qualities of the English character. The publicity to which state affairs are subjected, and those discussions in which the real nature of all questions is exposed, have unquestionably contributed to form this habit of perfect truth, which can exist only in a country where dissimulation leads to nothing but to the awkwardness of discovery.'
Mad. de Staël treats the question, whether the English will < not in time lose their political liberty.'
• The danger which most imminently threatens the English constitution, is the military spirit. The English, in injuring France, in directing Vol. XI. N.S.