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none is so much the slave of his sensations as the Frenchman ; and it would be presenting a mutilated account of his mode of judging, if we did not duly allow for their influence upon his mind.
A Frenchman, then, upon arriving in England, is assailed by the want of many enjoyments to which he is familiarized by the more agreeable climate of his own country; and his first impres sions are received, while his physical feelings are in a state of indisposition to all that surrounds him. Our cloudy sky makes him fretful. The damp and variations of our atmosphere, unchanging only in perpetual fogs, are uncongenial with his vivacity; and every thing he sees at first, depresses his constitutional buoyancy. The first inn he enters presents him with a coal fire, which is neither so lively nor so sparkling as the wood one which he left at Calais; though the hearth be somewhat cleaner. He sits down generally without silver forks, or napkins, so common in every filthy inn in France, to a dinner of the simplest fare, without ragouts, or entremets or desserts; and the only substitute which he can obtain for the wines of Burgundy is some execrable black or yellow brandy, sold under the insidious names of Port and Sherry. The same misery pursues him throughout every scene of the eventful day and night after his landing. For this bad fare and hard lodging too, he is the next morning presented with a bill of costs, the amount of which would have maintained him at home, on soups and consommé and Champagne, for several days. All that his sensations can perceive are unpleasing to him; and as to moral reflections, he is not inclined to pursue any such.
When an Englishman arrives upon the continent, the first wound he receives is in his comforts; and the chiefest of these is cleanliness. A long time elapses before he can overcome his disgust, but habit at length dulls the edge of his perception. He is courted too by a livelier climate, and amused by the contortions of a populace grinning in misery. He meets with many things to charm away his ennui; and he discovers, that, with a hempen harness in lieu of a leathern one, and horses quite unlike all he had ever seen before, he can travel at the rate of nearly five English miles, or one French post per hour. He is accosted with more apparent civility, more specious varnishings of complacency on the countenances of men; and he jogs on, tickled into a mingled smile of pity, and contempt, and ridicule, and dislike, and curiosity, and gratification, and conscious superiority, the sum total of which however is most assuredly good humour; and the pleasurable impression prevails over the unsocial.
No sooner has the English traveller reached Paris, than the gratification of his long-expectant curiosity spreads a day of
VOL. XXIII. NO. XLV.
cheerfulness around him. There is in his mind a stimulus, which to a Frenchman is not so powerful-the desire of acquiring knowledge, of seeing with his own eyes what other nations are; of learning by his own experience what good or evil exists in foreign countries; and of collecting materials for future thought and meditation. The sight of unknown objects is a satisfaction to him; and his intellect is soothed by the admission of any new truth. The gaudy capital of France has collected within its walls, whatever can excite and gratify the sensual tastes of men; and the very motleyness of the scenes, so new to all who are accustomed to regularity, excites a curiosity which is indescribable. Every thing which can please-except upon reflection-is united there; and even the abundant filth is not without its interest, when opposed to the splendour it contains. The loftiness of the houses contrasted with the narrowness of the streets, which gives them the appearance of lanes cut in quarries of freestone, where some sprite or demon has alternately hewn out a palace and a pigstye; the magnificent residence of the Bourbons, the work of many monarchs, extending along the meagre banks of the Seine, till at length it is lost in the crowds of stalls, and booths, and slop-shops, and shoeblacks' stands which bound the prospect towards the Place de Grève,—that scene of many massacres, both old and new,-create an emotion in the mind of an Englishman, which he would in vain attempt to repay in kind, by any sight which London can afford a foreigner. The great characteristic of England is uniformity, with but few striking exceptions, few contrasts, few wretched hovels interspersed among the few palaces she possesses; few beggars imploring alms, and acting as a foil to luxury at the side of gaudy equipages. Paris is replete with lively contrasts, and wretched extremes; and London with tranquil monotony and happy order. We once heard a Frenchman, who certainly did not intend to pay a compliment to the country, say, that 'l'Angleterre étoit uniformement et ennuyeusement belle.'
It is a speculation among the French, both in finances and vanity, to make their capital the abode and the admiration of strangers; and when any thing offers, which promises a harvest for either, they do the honours of it with peculiar effect, except, indeed, when they have been out-gloried into a fit of ill humour. The whole country becomes a theatre, in which foreigners are the audience; and Frenchmen laugh, dance, and tumble, to put them in good spirits. It is a part of this system, that all public establishments, and all the institutions of the arts and sciences are of such easy access; that all their learned men are so eager to show politeness to those whose opinion they hope to captivate, either for themselves or their nation. An Englishman has an elevation
of mind which makes him reluctant to attract, by petty artifices, the passing plaudits of a mob of persons with whom he is unacquainted; and London is perhaps the capital of Europe in which a short residence is the least likely to captivate. The least engaging moments which strangers spend in the society of the English, are the first; for we require time to feel, and great occasion to show an attachment. We have no petty interests or passions which induce us to pay court to a stranger. We seek not the money he spends to increase our national prosperity. To speculate upon vanity we do not condescend. We scorn to caress any person whom we do not esteem; we cannot esteem any whom we do not know; and, when we do esteem, we think it beneath us to flatter. The first impressions then which Paris produces upon an Englishman are, upon the whole, more pleasing than those produced by London upon a Frenchman.
The account we have given of English travellers in France does not, we know, suit the whole nation; while the picture of Frenchmen in England is of more general application. The inhabitants of France, both in their minds and manners, compose a very homogeneous mass; and there is hardly any distinction but that of rank. Whoever has seen one militaire, or one robin of the ancient régime, has seen them all. The different epochs of the revolution, indeed, have introduced some shades of education, and persons who have paid attention to them, can distinguish a pupil of the Robespierrian from one of the Directorial, or Buonapartean school of ruffians. But we now speak of France not at any particular moment, but in the long era of her historical existence; and we assert that the contrasts she contains are not dependant upon a diversity of thoughts and opinions, but upon the extremes of want and luxury, with but little that is intermediate, and the impervious barrier which separates nobility from plebeians. England on the contrary, more uniform in some respects, presents a very varied picture of thoughts and opinions; and, to give a description of the nation at large would be impossible, except by saying it is infinitely varied. The most numerous class of English travellers, however, is, we fear, that which we have described. As to the pure John Bull, who is discontented with every thing abroad, he is very much changed both as to the intensity and the quality of his feelings; and we see but too many of our grumbling countrymen softened down, by the epicurean luxuries and elegant frivolities of France, into her very devoted humble servants and admirers. Bullism is a worthy honest sentiment; one which we would not see effaced. It is a prejudice of the heart, and honours him who owns it; and, since international relations among imperfect beings promise
eternal duration to prejudices, may this too be eternal! May no particle of it ever be exchanged for aught that can be found in that country, from which no Englishman ever yet returned with the addition of a single virtue.
So much, then, for the prepossessions induced by the physical impressions. We shall now proceed to some other inquiries, which we hope are more refined and more intellectual.
A Frenchman, on account of his natural levity, is more disposed to pronounce sentence without connaissance de an Englishman. Very slight information satisfies his curiosity; and he finds that he advances more rapidly by imagining consequences from doubtful premises, than by deducing them from laborious investigations. He has one prodigious advantage over Englishmen in the art of making impromptu observations. He has been taught to dance. He glissees en avant to explore, and chassees back again into his place, to ruminate. To stop him by facts would be as easy as to entangle St. Vitus in a cobweb; and he shuffles right and left through a chain of ratiocination, with as much dexterity as if it had been the chaine Anglaise. A pirouette is to him a fund of ineffable knowledge; for, while performing a revolution on his axis, his eyes are successively turned to all the corners of the land, and he has learned every recondite good it holds. But an Englishman has none of these advantages. He moves more slowly, and, if you will, more heavily. He does not slide along and determine all things at a glance. In short, the Frenchman surely beats him at the outset, ma, chi va piano, va sano.
In addition to his having learned to dance, a Frenchman possesses another advantage, equally conducive to the nimble processes of reasoning: he has not learned logic. Nothing is so cumbrous to an agile mind as gradations in disputation. He who can jump or stride across a river, disdains the aid of stepping stones, and he who can skip from the premises to the conclusion of an argument, will never stop to syllogize. Of all things on earth logic would be the most troublesome to a Frenchman; we do not mean the heavy formulas, the Barbara celarent darii ferio baralipton of the schools, but the natural progressions and paths which lead from one truth to another. It would make a new being of him. It would impede the volatility and the versatility of his perceptions. It would trammel up his consequences; and chain him, like Prometheus, to a rock, with impatience gnawing at his liver. But an Englishman is encumbered with a certain goutiness of mind, which makes him lean on every syllogistic staff; and he hobbles on, generally however to tolerably
tolerably sound results, wrapped up in the dialectic flannels of Aristotle and Bacon.
But if an Englishman, as many there are, has not studied logic, still the laxity of his inferences is straitened by a strong affection for truth, both intellectual and moral. When he travels (we except the class to which Major-General Lord Blaney belongs, he looks for knowledge; and he holds that error is still worse than ignorance. He is fearful of drawing conclusions hastily; and the principal reproach that can be made to him is that too often under the influence of party feelings, he allows them to interfere where they should not be admitted. He has an intellectual conscience which he endeavours to satisfy, an interest which is more than curiosity, an end in view the uniform tendency of which is utility. All these considerations have but little weight with a Frenchman; and he is habituated to consider truth merely as an idol, old, antiquated, and awkward, which may be figured and disguised in a thousand sophistical shapes; nay, which it sometimes becomes a duty to deform. To own that any thing out of France can be superior to any thing that is in it, would be derogatory to the honour of his country and the glory of his sovereign.
It is not then surprizing that the first labour of a Frenchman is directed to mislead foreigners, and to give them too favourable ideas of France. He acts upon this principle: say all the good you can of yourself, there is always some one among the crowd who will believe you;' and by his plausible loquacity he often succeeds in gaining credit from a guileless Englishman. An Englishman, on the contrary, descants to the full as largely on the vices as upon the virtues of his country, and is too well aware that weakness is the lot of human nature to be shocked when some slight imperfections are laid to his account; though, in his mind, more than in the mind of a Frenchman, vice forms the exception not the rule of human conduct. But a Frenchman is not contented with dubbing himself the first of human creatures; he considers himself as a privileged being upon earth, exempt from all the defects of his species; a demigod, for whose pleasure the world was created, and who does its author infinite honour in appearing to be satisfied.
The intellectual endowments of the two nations are also of a different complexion, and we do not hesitate to advance that the average is very much in favour of England. The French have a quick and lively perception of all that immediately strikes the senses; and of the modifications of society which are taken in by the eye, and caught, as it were, by a glance of the mind. But, when sound conclusions are to be drawn, their understand