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his age, and the maturity of his genius, stoops to servile imitation, he must not be surprized if he be condemned to the dull oblivion which he courts. The author, who would attempt to persuade the world that his parodies are original poems, must either inflict a deep wound on his moral character, or obtain refuge for it in the delusions of inordinate vanity.

ART. III. Lettres sur L'Angleterre. Par A. DE STAËL-HOLSTEIN. A Paris, chez Treuttel et Würtz. 1825.

THE glory of ancestry, says Marius, in Sallust, is a light to their descendants, which will not permit either their good or evil deeds to be veiled in darkness. If this be true, in the great world, concerning which the Consul spoke, it is equally true in the world of letters. The volume before us is a case in point. A work on England, by the son of Madame de Staël, cannot fail of attracting many readers. But if they expect either the merits or defects of that singular writer, who possessed the most masculine mind, beyond all question, that ever was bestowed on woman, they will be mistaken. In the severe and apophthegmatic sentences of the Baron, there is no pretension to the glowing and impassioned eloquence of his mother. On the other hand, he does not possess the dangerous faculty of imagining facts, and drawing convenient deductions from them, which her warmest admirers must confess formed very distinctive marks of all her compositions. The Baroness, even in her staid and calculating works, could never forget that she was a novelist; the original sin of Delphine and Corinna was never entirely redeemed in her; while her son, who, we believe, never has been guilty of works of imagination, has had the good sense to perceive, that the exercise of that faculty in writing statistics would be altogether out of place.

Since the peace France has been supplied with numerous works on England, written in every tone. Pillet libelled our women; - Blanqui our beef-steaks and plum-puddings; — Nodier has scandalized the Scotch ladies by proclaiming them barefooted; -- and Pichot lately has talked of our literature, a great part of which he affected to admire without very well understanding it. Out of the whole crowd two only appear to have travelled amongst us with any thing like sensible motives, Dupin and DE STAËL. The former of these has bent his attention to our commerce, our docks, bridges, steam-engines, rail-roads, manufactories, tunnels,


machinery, canals, and all the other physical objects in which he conceives us superior to the continental nations. DE STAËL's task has been to examine with equal minuteness the intellectual and political engines which appear to him to set us morally above our neighbours, and to have been the cause of that physical power which it has been the self-imposed duty of his countrymen to examine. Both have labored for the same honorable end, the improvement of their native land, by introducing into it what they deem praiseworthy in another country. This is the true object of foreign travelling. Compared with it even inquiries into fine arts, antiquities, and literature, interesting and delightful as they are, sink into insignificance.

Baron DE STAËL begins by admitting and describing the difficulties of giving an account of the system of English society, in all its ramifications, to foreigners. He recounts many absurd theories, which have been broached to account for certain phænomena among us, and pithily refutes them. It is gratifying to our national vanity, if to no more honorable feeling, to find that by almost all classes of reasoners our general prosperity is admitted, and that the puzzle consists in forming a theory to account for it.

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We have seen how necessary it is, in studying the present state of England, to avoid drawing hastily the most legitimate conclusions from a few partial data. We must not be less cautious in tracing effects to their causes; or precipitately account for a phenomenon by deriving it from some simple source, without examining whether it be not the result of several different causes, foreign, or perhaps opposite, to that to which it is ascribed.

It is through neglect of this precaution, that so many persons commit such gross errors in their judgments respecting England. One asserts, that the commercial and maritime superiority of Great Britain is owing to its colonial system. But why has Spain, so long in possession of colonies, more extensive and more favoured by climate than those of England, remained poor, and without trade? The commercial prosperity of England, then, must have other sources than colonial possessions.

Another boldly ascribes to prohibitory laws the prosperity of English manufactures, without reflecting, that in most countries of Europe prohibitory laws have produced effects the very reverse; and equally without reflecting, that all the well-informed men in England, all the enlightened manufacturers themselves, exclaim against the absurdity of this system, and have surmounted its inconveniences only by extraordinary efforts of activity and intelligence, till a new administration, opening its eyes to the real interests of its country, has begun to demolish the whole of this Gothic edifice.


I i

A third

A third will say, without hesitation, the real strength of Eng. land, the palladium of its liberty, consists in that wealthy, powerful aristocracy, ever ready to defend the rights of the people against the encroachments of the crown; in those hereditary fortunes, which entails and the laws of primogeniture preserve in the same family, and thus secure its salutary influence. -I am far from disputing the services that the English aristocracy has rendered to the liberties of its country, but still it is worth while to inquire, why these entails, to which such happy effects are ascribed in England, have produced in Spain and Italy only a deterioration of estates, and the brutalization of their possessors. And if in most countries of Europe the nobility has become frivolous, ignorant, and servile, is it not evident, that we must seek for peculiar reasons to explain, why the English aristocracy has maintained itself at the head of the progress of society towards liberty and knowledge?'

To give the Baron's own solution of these and many similar difficulties is the object of his book. He very properly scouts as ridiculous the idea of generalizing on such a subject, and decides, that in order to come to any just conclusion on the state of things in England, they must be individually and minutely examined. He almost takes for granted the superior civilization of England over the Continent. What an alteration! It is not a hundred years ago since the greatest wit of France, Voltaire, thought proper to call us the savages of Europe, it is not twenty since Bonaparte determined that we should be the "penitus toto divisi orbe Britanni" again, as in the days of our painted and naked predecessors. And here a gentleman of the same nation gravely opens his work, by laying it down almost as an axiom, that the very country of the wit and the soldier are not so civilized as the land which they put out of the pale of civilization. But such is the difference between a satirist bent on saying smart things, as well as a conqueror intent on doing passionate ones, and a calm philosophical inquirer who will not let his reason be deluded by a jest, or thwarted by politics. In discussing this part of his subject he notices one remarkable parallelism which has more than once occurred to us, founded on a striking similarity in the leading events which have marked the political career of the two


In 1215 the barons imposed on John, surnamed Lackland, that Great Charter, which the people of England still revere as the foundation of their liberties. A hundred and forty-one years after, the States-General of 1356, availing themselves of the captivity of John, King of France, demanded national securities as the price of the subsidies which they granted to his son.


After the wars of the two roses, the superior nobility were in a deficient and exhausted state; and of this Henry VII. and VIII. availed themselves, to establish despotism by favouring the advancement of the Commons. A hundred and fifty years afterward, the wars of the League having terminated, Richelieu obtained by a similar policy a success of the same kind, though to a far greater extent.

The age of Elizabeth offers a striking analogy to that of Louis XIV. In both reigns the greatness of the monarch, more real however in that of Elizabeth, victory abroad, and the splendour of the court and lustre of literature at home, consoled the people for the absence of liberty. A century and a half separate the period of Elizabeth from that of the greatest power of Louis.

The long parliament began in 1640 the contest of the people of England against Charles I. A hundred and forty-nine years after the States-General were convoked at Versailles.

A hundred and forty-four years supervened between the death of Charles I. and that of Louis XVI.

Finally, the restoration of Charles II. preceded by a hundred and fifty-four years that of the house of Bourbon. And if we read the history of the two revolutions together, how many astonishing resemblances in the progress of events, in the order of ideas, and even in the most trifling circumstances, strike our eyes.!

The first object in the examination of the resources of a country which must strike a philosophical inquirer, is the division of property. Baron DE STAËL justly observes, that very erroneous ideas are afloat as to the inequality of this division in England. To prove his assertion he makes use of a work which we should not think of for such a purpose.

Fortunes are less unequally distributed in England than is commonly supposed. The appearance of the capital is a certain indication of this, which the general aspect of the country confirms. That London Directory, which is known by the title of the Court-Guide, furnishes a datum, in this respect, which may appear superficial, yet notwithstanding deserves consideration. This Directory, which includes about eight thousand addresses, contains no names but those of persons inhabiting the western part of the metropolis, or what is called the fashionable quarter; a term to which the English attech more importance than might be supposed from the natural gravity of their character, and the serious beauty of their institutions. To inhabit this quarter, and see their names inscribed in the Court-Guide, is a mark of distinction, which is an habitual object of emulation to the middle class, and presents to the imagination of some the pleasures of frivolity, to others the liberal enjoyments of study, and of the conversation of men of talent. Now it is generally acknowledged, that the lowest fortune enabling a person to reside at the west end of the town, and adopt its manners, is an income of 3000%. Ii 2

(75,000 fr.)

(75,000 fr.) a year. Supposing, then, that of the eight thousand names figuring in this Directory, only half are masters of families, we find in the city of London alone, without taking into account the capitals of the other two kingdoms, or reckoning the many wealthy persons who reside in the country the whole year, four thousand persons of fortune, the poorest of whom would be deemed opulent in most of the countries of Europe.

But in proceeding ever so little downward in the scale, the number of those in easy circumstances increases with extreme rapidity. The tax on income, property-tax, which was established by Mr. Pitt, in 1798, and finished with the war, furnishes us with remarkable data on this point. In his original plan the Minister exempted from the new tax all persons whose income was below two hundred pounds sterling. He estimated at ten millions sterling the produce of the tax; but he soon perceived, that he had deceived himself greatly in his calculation, and that he must necessarily lower the limit considerably. In fact, he descended gradually to the minimum of fifty pounds a year, and then the produce of the tax considerably exceeded fourteen millions and a half; a certain proof, that wealth was distributed among a much greater number of persons than was generally supposed.

It is particularly in fortunes derived from trade and manufactures that the division is observable. The accounts of the incometax for 1812 afford us some very curious information in this respect. Among the number of persons occupied in lucrative employments, we find there were then no less than a hundred and twenty-seven thousand, whose incomes were between fifty and two hundred pounds a year; twenty-two thousand, from two hundred to a thousand; three thousand, from one thousand to five thousand; and six hundred, from five thousand upwards. Such a result is striking in itself: but it must be remarked, that the calculation is no doubt below the reality; for, if a certain number of individuals gave a faithful declaration of their income, and a few may have found it their interest to make it appear more than it really was, the great majority of contributors would endeavour to reduce the estimate of their income as low as possible.'

The Baron, it will be seen by his London readers, here falls into a mistake as to the sort of persons recorded in the Court-Guide, which is' not confined to the west end only. The inmate of every house not actually employed in shopkeeping, we believe, may have his name inserted by the ingenious compilers of that work: but in DE STAËL'S general position he is right, as might be proved from other documents. The thirty or forty enormous fortunes at the head of the list occasion the mistake of believing so great a disproportion existing; just as the great prizes of the lottery are used to make the uninitiated believe that they form the vast proportion of the tickets.


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