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I can no longer brook thy vanities. --Shakspeare. France is the chosen land of the of Paris is to him every thing, and Arts !–Paris is the modern Athens! the whole universe besides, nothing. The French are the bravest people in Iu his opinion, a man might be born the world! – The French are the and live and die there, nor regret most warlike people in the world !- having seen nothing beyond its barThe French are the most civilized riers. He is an ultra Chinese in his people in the world! – The French are notions of the extent of the world of the politest people in the world!—The art, civilization, and refinement, for superiority, in short, of the French, in he cannot conceive its existence beall things, over all the nations of the yond the walls of the mere capital of earth, is universally acknowledged ! his own country: All nations, the - Make the tour of Europe, and visit French and Chinese excepted, are every land where art and civilization willing to admit their inferiority to exist, or ever have existed, and you others in some particular respect: will be stunned with these exclama- they alone thrust themselves forward tions in every corner of - Paris. as models of universal perfection. They have become proverbial—in Now the Chinese, though an ingeniParis. They are received and un- ous, are an ignorant people, and we doubted truths-in Paris. People talk make no scruple of at once attributthem at each other, and of each other, ing their pretensions to their ignoand to each other-in Paris. They rance; but the French, who in the are household phrases in Paris. They general diffusion of useful instrucare the very baby's lullaby-in Paris. tion among them are second only

The French are a people super. to the English, are in no danger of the eminently Cockney, each individual application of a similar solution to relatively to his own particular birth- theirs. Many deep and close obtown. A native of Beauvais might servers, many intelligent and discribe induced to admit that Paris is a minating travellers, from different place very well to visit; but for a quarters of the world, have, after a residence, a spot where a man mature study of the French characwould desire to establish himself for ter, unceremoniously, and with some life, in the full enjoyment of ease appearance of justice, placed their and luxury, he is persuaded that pretensions to the score of insolence; Beauvais is the only town in Chris- but out of pure regard for a people tendom. The Parisian is a cockney so kind, so amiable, and so amusing on a grander scale ; that is, he al. as they are, one is unwilling to adopt lows of no exceptions: his own city so harsh an explanation of the pheno

By useful instruction is not meant dancing and playing tunes upon a fiddle ; or, rather, these qualifications do not come within the English notion of useful instruction. Here we are lamentably deficient. Vol. VI.

Z

menon, while a milder one is to be this, that, and the other. The eterfound. Vanity then, vanity, which nal song of La gloire Française, la from time immemorial has been consi- politesse Française, &c. &c. is dinned dered as the peculiar characteristic of in one's ears “ from morn till noon, the French, is the great source of the “from noon till dewy eve;" it is evil. Insolence, indeed, is so little shouted from their stage, and the to be assigned as its true cause, that echo is repeated from their very sewhen they put forth their preten- nate and a dozen little authors scribsions to universal pre-eminence, as ble a little journal full about it seven they do every day in the week, and days in every week. Now it may every hour in the day, it is under not be amiss to examine the basis on the intimate and innocent persua- which these pretensions are foundsion that they are merited, and will ed. Schlegel has observed, that the readily be admitted; and with a hap- French always demand so much that py unconsciousness that the rest of one is almost inclined to allow them the world (too much amused to be less than they are really entitled to: angry with them) are enjoying a this is the necessary consequence of sly laugh at their expense.

an exorbitant claim; but in the folThe English are a proud people; lowing hasty, though candid examitheir superiority over others, where nation, it is intended to concede all it really does exist, they feel intense- that in strict and severe justice ought ly, and assert with firmness and de- to be conceded to certain French cision; but, happily for them, they PretenSIONS. are not vain; and a notion of univer- The noisiest, and not the least obsal superiority is a delusion to which trusive of their pretensions is to sunone but their vulgar and their very premacy in valour, patriotism, and ignorant are subject. There is ex- military glory; nothing else is heard tant among them a stock of good of at their theatres, nothing else is sense, and it is seldom that good seen but illustrations of it at their picsense is unaccompanied by modesty; ture galleries and printshops. Now, and when, by the examination of no one is inclined to dispute their themselves, or a comparison with claims to military renown; nor does others, they detect their own errors it at all detract from their reputation and deficiencies, they steadily set for valour, that their armies were about the task of correcting and sup- destroyed in Russia, beaten out of plying them: they endeavour really Spain, and compelled to negotiate a to attain excellence before they boast peace at the very gates of their own of its attainment. Now the French capital: this is the mere fortune of consider themselves as arrived at the war, and to these reverses all nations · very acmé of perfection in all things are liable, who make war their chief accomplishable by human effort: occupation. But it is impossible to they entertained precisely the same suppress a smile, when one hears opinion two or three centuries ago; them misname all their battles, Vicand it will be impossible for them to tories, and difficult to forbear rethink better of themselves a century minding them, in the midst of their hence, when, probably, they will empty boasts of invincibility, that have improved in many respects they have been vanquished, upon wherein they are, at present, greatly their own ground top, upon French wanting. This is a real and serious ground, and (to say nothing of many evil ; iť retards the march of their other reverses) that the two most improvement; and, so far, their va- signal defeats ever sustaincd in pernity is a crime which carries its pu- son by their greatest general were nishment along with it. But even inflicted upon him by English comthe assertion of universal excellence manders.' Why will they not hodoes not satisfy them: no, all Eu, nestly acknowledge their defeats ? rope, the whole world, must bend Their valour would suffer no imthe knee and acknowledge the su- peachment by it. French soldiers premacy of French valour, French are composed of the same materials glory, French patriotism, French po- as others, and are equally vulnerable liteness, French literature, French to bullets and bayonets; and there

* Sir Sydney Smith, at Acre, and the Duke of Wellington.

is nothing marvellous in their losing with him foot to foot, knowing that he a battle against equal numbers of must “ either do or die.” The battroops, as well disciplined as them- tle of Waterloo was, at many periods selves, any more than in their obtain- of it, a contest somewhat of this lating victories over twice or thrice their ter nature. To the French its result number of raw Prussian recruits, or was, utter, total, irretrievable de undrilled Portuguese peasants. feat! This, though it adds a bright

Nor is any one disposed to deny ray to English glory, casts no shade that the French are as brave a peo- on the courage of the French. They ple as any in the universe ; on the were vanquisbed, not because they contrary, their claim to a character were wanting in courage, but befor courage is freely admitted, and cause they had to contend against they have, in many instances, nobly courage fully equal to their own, asproved it. But it is their pretension sisted by superior bodily strength. to pre-eminence in valour, and al. Their prowess in that fight is genemost to the exclusive possession of rously recorded by the nation who it, that is rejected. Personal courage were then their enemies, who, attriis not the exclusive growth of France, buting somewhat of the failure of the it is not the peculiar inheritance of French to the common chances of war, a Frenchman ; indeed no quality is arrogate to themselves nothing bemore common : as occasion requires, yond the glory of having been victors in it can be procured any where for a a battle, which brought for the first shilling a day. It is seldom that the and last time NAPOLEON into pervictories of the French have been ob- sonal opposition with WELLINGTONtained either through a deficiency of a battle which, considered whether as courage in those they have had to to the numbers engaged in it, the contend with, or a super-abundance obstinacy with which it was contestof it in themselves; and it is singular ed, or the deep importance of its conthat they do not perceive how much sequences, is unparalleled in the histhey detract from the value of their tory of Europe. Why will the French own boasted exploits by impeach- not exercise a similar modesty in reing the bravery of their opponents: cording their victories? there is but little glory in vanquish- Patriotism- Patriotism is a noble ing a cowardly foe. Were they, in- feeling, and the French boast much deed, to boast of the superiority of and eternally of theirs; but, like French discipline and French tactics, courage, it is considered as natural that superiority might be conceded to man, and the less talked about, to them; and even with respect to the readier is the possession of it bethat, it seems to be generally con- lieved. Every man is presumed to sidereil, among those best enabled to love his native land. The savage, judge in military matters, that most who fights to the death in defence of of their successes, under Napoleon his habitation in the wild wood, is a particularly, were obtained by the patriot. The Arab, who protects his system of bringing (so to express it) desart-tent from aggression, is a indestructible numbers of men into patriot. William Tell was a patriot. the field. But the truth is, that in Hampden and Sidney were patriots. modern warfare, where so much is The Spaniards, who (aided by the done by the mere pulling of a trigger, English) drove the French invaders or the pointing of a match, where of their country back beyond their no man sees the bullet aimed di- own frontiers, were patriots. These rectly at himself, personal prowess are instances of real patriotism, which is less essentially necessary in the implies, not the trespassing upon common soldier,--at least, there is the rights of other nations, not the less opportunity for its display,--than invasion of other countries, but the in ancient times, when a battle was determined and uncompromising dea series of single combats, and each fence of one's own !. Verbum sat. man, selecting an opponent, fought To excellence in Poetry and the

• The following is given as an extraordinary instance of absence of mind what the French term distraction. At the time when their strong places, and their very capital, were occupied by foreign troops, a piece called the Battle of Denain, was performing at one of the Paris theatres, in which one of the characters terminates a flaming compliment to French valour and French patriotism by saying, that the last Frenchman

Fine Arts their pretensions are un- mirable for the purity of his lanbounded and overwhelming. To be- guage, for its smoothness, and its gin with their Poetry. It is agreed, polish, but he has no imagination, by all the literary nations of Europe, no fancy, no power of creation. that the French possess no poetry; Compare him with Shakspeare, Beauor so little as not to entitle them mout and Fletcher, or any of the to claim rank as a poetical people. elder English dramatists.

They They are the only nation who are lay the universe under contribudestitute of a great epic poem; for tion; with them nothing is mute ; their Henriade, which, for want of they give to all nature thoughts and something better, they set up as a a tongue; things inanimate speak; candidate for that title, is, by com- a leaf, a flower, a cloud, proclaims a mon consent, pronounced to be, not moral lesson. They are full of illusonly the worst production upon trations and images, which they which a national reputation was ever pour forth from the irresistible imattempted to be founded, but, in ito pulse of Poetry within them. Shakself, so very bad a poem as to be speare, for instance, is profuse; the utterly unreadable every where ex. pearls of poesy drop from him uncept in France. So inadequate in awares. Racine says just what it is subject, so weak in conception, so absolutely necessary he should say, cold in invention-in its machinery but no more; he expresses his at once so s0

clumsy and so trivial-so thoughts closely, correctly, eletame and unsatisfactory in execu- gantly, if you will, but drily; he tion !-so lamentably beneath the writes with a rule and compass at mark is the Henriade, that the French his side. Throw a passage from have yet to produce an epic poem Shakspeare into what form or lanif they can.

In the sixteenth cen guage you will, and it will still contury, indeed, when all Europe was tinue to be poetry : turn a scene of tuneful, France produced some pretty Racine out of verse, and it would madrigal writers, who now are un- become downright prose.

From appreciated, and almost unknown. reading a play of shakspeare one In them some gleams of true poetry derives the same kind of pleasure, may be found, and that may account though in a higher degree, as from for their present neglect: for the the contemplation of a beautiful picpeople who can admire the senseless ture, in which the charms of nature and extravagant vagaries of Ossian, are reproduced with force and freewho consider those nonsensical rhap- dom, yet with truth: a play of Rasodies as fine poetry, must neces- cine's is like a neatly executed drawsarily be insensible to the natural ing of certain mathematical figures charms of Ronsard, Jodelle, and the eye is coldly satisfied with its others of their time. In satire, in correctness and precision. The laws deed, they are successful; they turn which the French have imposed upon an epigram admirably; and Boileau themselves for verse-making are may be justly placed at the side of severe and unyielding, and to Dryden and Pope: but Boileau is a these they implicitly subunit: hence satirist in verse, and no poet, and they are excellent versifiers.* But there the aproximation of him with mere verse is not poetry, and the Dryden fails.--Their tragic Drama- great error of the French lies in suptists, with the exception of Corneille, posing that it is; what they call who emits occasional sparkles, are poetry, therefore, is poetry no where destitute of poetry.

Racine, the re- but in France. It is rarely that the viver of classical subjects for the coinciding opinions of different nations theatre, is a mere prose-writer in are incorrect, and if there were no verse: he is a fine declaimer, ad- other proof that the French are not would dic rather than suffer the hostile foot of a foreigner on French ground. This illtimed piece of self-compliment-transformed by existing circumstances into a biting satire-was vehemently applauded by the audience. “ Britons are always victorious, is a sentiment highly relished by an English mob ; but if it were presented to them im mediately after some signal defeat, their good sense would revolt at it.

* That is, with reference to their own rules. But, from its regularity, French verse is exceedingly monotonous and fatiguing to the ear. Theirs is indeed, as Lord Byron has termed it, a “ creaking lyre."

poets, this one would be sufficient: the Barbiere or the Otello of Rossini? that while the poetry of England and it is not too much to say, that she Italy passes into all the modern lan- has hardly produced one Score that guages, the poetry of the French re- would be listened to by any but mains fast bound in the iron fetters French ears, or obtain a reputation far of their own verse.

beyond the walls of Paris. The In Music and Painting they rate French will bring forward their Grand their pretensions so highlythey so Opera, their Academie Royale de Muabsolutely deny the existence of these sique, (or, as, in strictness, it ought arts in å tolerable state elsewhere to be called, their academy for dancthan in France,--they treat so con- ing), but alas ! that will not assist temptuously the very supposition of them, for what have they done there? a successful rivalry by any other Nothing, positively nothing! With the country, that it is proper their real poor exception of two or three operas merits should be determined by a by Gretry, remarkable for nothing but comparison with the highest stan- a pretty Romance or two, and a few dards--with the acknowledged mo- mediocre compositions by Catel and dels of attainable perfection in art. Kreutzer, there is not one of the operas A test of criticism less exalted would upon which the French would found their be below the level of the rank they reputation us a musical nation that is claim; to this, severe as it is, do not the work of foreign composers ! their overwhelming pretensions ex- Gluck was a German; Piccini, Salieri, pose them, and by its result must Sacchini, and Spontini, Italians; and they be content to stand or fall. as well might the French claim the

In Music, the only two nations in works of Rossini as their own bethe world who can boast of names cause they are occasionally performed become classical are Italy and Ger- in Paris, as attempt to arrogate to many. England is not to be taken themselves a musical fame on the into consideration, simply because she strength of the Iphigenias, Armida, Diputs forth no pretensions to musical do, Edipus, and the Vestal, composed fame; France is, simply because by foreign authors upon French words. she does. And what pretensions? And to this is reduced the nationality Such as give us the right to expect of the Grand Opera Français. † that she will support them by the At their Comic Opera they have, production of master-pieces, of works indeed, produced some very pretty become famous, and, as it were, na- music; but even here, so far as naturalized throughout Europe, like the tionality is concerned, they will be music of the Italians and the Germans. found to be in almost as naked a Where are they? Will it be believed plight as at their Grand Opera. It is that she has not one, not a single one, painful to enter into such minute not a bar, nor a vote to produce scrutinies in a mere question of art, What has she that will bear a com- but the demands of the French upon parison with any of the works of Mom our admiration are so exorbitant, zart? Whom dare she venture to that one is compelled to a rigid explace by the side of Haydn? Where amination of their validity. It has are her Cimarosas ? Her Paesiel- already been shown that the great and los ? What has she comparable to established works, at the great French

* This is to be understood as relative only to dramatic music. With the exception of Arne, Arnold, Shield, and Bishop, we have scarcely a name to quote, for the operas performed at the English theatres are chiefly compilations from Italian and German composers. Again : by dramatic is not intended what is usually understood by thea. trical music, mere sing-song used at the theatres ; but music illustrative of the pas. sions, strictly appropriate to the situations of the characters, and productive of dramatic effect. We are deficient in what may be called musical interpreters of the passions, as Mozart, Gluck, and (now and then) Rossini. For canons, glees, and catches, and what may be generally classed under the name of chamber music, England is unrivalled.

+ If the music here be not national, the style of singing is ; and pray Heaven its nationality may prevent its ever wandering into foreign parts ! “ The screams, the howls, and the infernal din! The witty Carraccioli-he that discovered that English women have two left arms-said of the French, for their taste in music and singing, that their ears are made of hoin.

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