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sesses a talent for observation. He gives his remarks in correct and easy language; and, upon the whole, though the British public may see little to interest them in the account of circumstances with which they are familiar, he has opened a source of light and utility to his countrymen-by which they are not likely to profit.
This volume is divided into letters. The first is Upon the precautions necessary to be taken by all who would study and observe this country:" and the subject gives opportunity for many useful hints to the Parisians-which they will not take; but in his second letter he hazards a series of heresies for which he must sooner or later expect lapidation. He begins thus:
'L'on ne sauroit observer l'Angleterre avec un esprit denué de prévention, sans être forcé de reconnaître que la civilisation y est plus avancée que dans aucun pays du continent; que les lumières y sont plus répandues, la science du gouvernement mieux comprise, tous les mouvemens de la machine sociale plus rapides et plus habilement combinés. C'est un fait qui pourrait s'établir a priori,' &c.
Now how true soever this may be, it is so little to the taste of any class of Frenchmen, that all the proofs which M. de Staël adduces in support of it will only irritate them more profoundly. Whether M. de Staël drew this conclusion himself from history, or whether he found it ready drawn to his hand in the Quarterly Review, it is equally new and intrusive in France. The facts however are incontestable, and are irrefragable proofs of what he asserts, that civilization is more advanced in England than in any country of the continent. Her Magna Charta did precede the capitulations wrung by the states-general from the French King John during his captivity in England, by 141 yearsbut how much more did it precede them in value than in time! The age of Elizabeth did precede that of Lewis XIV. by about 150 years; but how much richer was it in true splendour and glory, in conquests and in letters, in the arts of war and of peace, in universal progress! The parliament did begin its struggle with Charles I. 149 years before the convocation of the states-general at Versailles; 141 years did separate the murders of Charles I. and Lewis XVI., and the English restoration was 154 years prior to the French. But with how many more mischiefs, with how much less good, did all these occurrences teem, in the hands of the imitating nation! Although the time which separates these corresponding events in the two countries, be about a century and a half, yet, in consideration of the value of the events themselves, we cannot help thinking that our superiority in political wisdom and virtue, measured in years, is equal to double that period. Neither can we subscribe
subscribe to the salvo which M. de Staël has introduced into his remarks, that the civilization of England, in other respects, is not in proportion to that of her polity. If, by civilization, he understands luxurious and sensual enjoyment, he may be right; but if the word comprises intellectual progress, the development of mind in all its branches, philosophy, letters, industry, and their diffusion through every rank of society, he is utterly mistaken. As the greatest part of these things prospered more in this island, and as her wealth and power were greater in proportion to her original means than those of France, we cannot help concluding, in contradiction to M. de Staël, that, at least since the date of our Magna Charta, Britain has had the start of her rival in civilization properly so called, by much more than one century and a half, time and value included.
A circumstance which strikes the author now before us, and which -though he does not seem to think so--affords no small proof of the superiority of our progress, is this-that the French, in discussing political subjects, launch out into general principles, of which we hardly make any mention. The march of human improvement is first to practise an art, imperfectly perhaps, and merely in relation to our feeble wants. Then comes an observer who examines the instruments, a speculator who inquires into the causes, a philosopher who explains the general principles. This indeed is great improvement, but the greatest is behind.' The acme of civilization in this art—at least the world has hitherto seen no higheris when its instruments, causes and principles, after undergoing the ordeal of philosophy, re-act upon its practice and make that philosophical. Then the recital of generalities is cast into its ancient history as rudely as a speculator bestows upon its infant and untutored practice the epithet of empiricism. To use a great and noble quotation, which M. de Staël makes from one of the first of mortals, Bacon, the earliest condition is that of the axiomata infima,' which are those of mere manual exercise, and belong to uncultivated man. These may be found in every infant state, and wherever human beings have continued rude and ignorant, from the sands of the desert to the steppes of the north. • Suprema vero ac generalissima rationalia sunt et abstracta, et nil habent solidi.' The vague and abstract axioms, even when so profound as to be unintelligible, are a nobler exercise of mind than the axiomata infima,' and belong to nations in the middle condition of social progress, or to those whom rigorous necessity has not compelled to be practical. Among the latter, France claims the highest rank: for her best enlightenment-beside luxury -is empty speculation. The axiomata media,' then, which are vera et solida et viva, in quibus humanæ res et fortunæ sitæ sunt,'
are the property of the highest civilization, and England alone→ or England and her descendants-can be said to possess them at this hour. They who say that the general reasonings of the French are superior, forget that the period of abstraction is gone by with us; that, when we argue upon a particular point with a view to its application, we no more return to discuss and prove its general principles, than we repeat the letters of the alphabet when we are preparing an oration for parliament. When we contemplate the statue of Apollo, we do not descant on the chisel. But those letters and that chisel must have been known and used, or words could not have existed, and the statue would still have slumbered in its block. Well indeed might Sir James M'Intosh reply, In England we take all this for granted,' when M. de Staël showed him one of the strongest and profoundest of the French political pamphlets. To dwell upon such productions as these, would be to return to infancy; yet the French imagine that we proceed without any general principles, and upon the mere selfish and empirical impulse of the occasion, because we have ceased to refer, in every instance, to the elements of our actions. Thus they imagine themselves to have invented the science of political economy, and say that Adam Smith took all his ideas on the subject from Turgot, and the other French economists. But where did Turgot himself and his followers first see the science and acquire their knowledge, but in the country where, having been put in practice, its principles had ceased to be discussed? Political economy was in full exercise in England long before it was reasoned upon in France; and had the theoricians of that country not found it here, they never could have philosophised it at home. While we had left the suprema ac generalissima rationalia' far behind us, they were only systematising; but, in all the concerns of real life, where the superstructure is, there too must be the foundation.
The four letters which follow are devoted to the discussion of the division of property; and are a singular specimen of ratiocination. The practice of England in this respect is to concentrate property by entails, &c. that of France (modern) is to disperse it, by an equal distribution among all the children of the testator, with the exception of one single share. The author discusses both these systems; but his own inclination is decidedly in favour of the French. 6 Prejudice,' he says, has so blinded men upon this subject in England, that few can reason upon it,' and he adduces arguments to support his opinion, to not one of which we can subscribe. But what is the most extraordinary of allafter reasoning thus during nearly eighty pages, he comes to this unexpected conclusion, that as he deprecates the intervention
of legislation in the direction of capital and the management of private fortune, he is much of the same opinion as the English. In these letters he refutes many of the errors current in France with regard to England, as, for instance, one reproach which we should hardly expect to find made to us by that nation under any of its forms of government: to wit, that all the wealth of this country is in the hands of a few, while the people are in a state of complete suffering. He says, however, that our writers are equally mistaken as to the effect of division in France; neither can he find, in the reasonings of Malthus and Mill on this subject, the firmness and solidity which they have displayed on other points of political economy. In our minds, the perpetual division of property is the scourge which the revolution has fastened upon France, and in less than half a century, will be the avenger of Europe for all the injuries which she has suffered. Beside the disputes which it creates in families and the ill-will which it breeds in co-heirs, it prevents exertion and leaves no disposable masses for industrious ends. It creates dependants on power; and already, says M. de Staël (its advocate and a liberal) public employments-that is to say, the favours of the crown-are the principal sources of wealth to the upper ranks of society.
One assertion made by M. de Staël we cannot pass in silence, 'La seule relation de famille qui soit en Angleterre dans toute sa beauté, c'est le lien conjugal; and he proceeds to descant on the merit and affection of English matrons. In this we perfectly agree with him; but we differ entirely when he says that all other family connections are defective. He particularly instances the word Sir, as used by a son to his father, and considers it as a token of constrained respect, and a want of mutual affection. La mort d'un père, celle d'un frère aîné dont on attend l'héritage, sont, sur la scène Anglaise, l'objet de plaisanteries que l'on tolère, que l'on applaudit même, et qui, chez nous, révolteroient le public le moins délicat.' But since the stage is the source whence M. de Staël draws his conclusions, how came our wives and mothers to escape his rebuke? Has he forgotten Wycherley, Congreve, Farquhar, and the time when no female entered a theatre unmasked? To all inductions from this source we will answer by a citation of which our author will not deny the validity. It is from his own eloquent mother, who certainly was right on the present occasion; we quote from memory, but the substance is, Rien ne ressemble moins aux Anglais que leur comédie.'
M. de Staël seems further to imply that family affection is stronger in France than in England; and that, in the latter country, the sentiment which, in the former, is affection de famille,' is only 'esprit de famille.' We think that facts will prove exactly the
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; or is 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 quem nuptiæ demonstrant, and that this chance is greater in England, M. de Staël allows, since he admits that there le lien conjugal est dans toute sa beauté.
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 a dignitary of the church? Not even the study of the law could be followed by him without a blush; no he could not deign to be chancellor of France. Now