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20 The whole system is under the super- themselves, Poland, from its geograintendance of a direction generale des phical position (the bulwark of Gerpostes. Those who do not wish to many,) was continually subject to the travel post, may find in every place invasions of the Turks, the Tartars, voituriers in great numbers, among the Swedes, the Cossacks, &c. Thus whom are many Jews, who will con- repose and tranquillity, so necessary tract to convey them, at a small ex. for purposes of improvement, if obpense, distances of 20 or 30 miles, or tained at all, were necessarily employfarther, travelling at the rate of 10 ored in repairing the ravages of war. 12 miles a day.* When arrived at the But a few years of peace have shewn end of the stipulated journey, the voi that the spirit of improvement is not turier is sure to meet with a fare back wanting, if the means are afforded. again, and the traveller with the means The Soil in general is fertile, and of further conveyance. The probity produces a great variety of different of these voituriers is well established, kinds of grain. Wine, bread, and cofand they may be safely entrusted with fee, are universally allowed to be of valuable effects, or money, to be con- surpassing excellence. “ If you want veyed to distant places. These advan- your coffee strong, ask for Polish coftages in travelling will be further in- fee; if weak, call for German.” Farcreased by the rapid improvement of merly, the Hungarian wines were conthe roads, which proceeds with activity sumed in great quantity, and they are under the superintendance of govern- still to be met with of ancient vintages ment.
at the tables of rich proprietors, and, The Forests are of great extent, above all, of ecclesiastics, who have particularly those in the north. Not- kept them more than a century in withstanding this, the roads are safe; their cellars. Of late years the French and accidents of robbery or murder have introduced a taste for their own committed, are almost unheard of in wines, which are now to be met with, Poland.
in variety and good, in all the small The Villages are of great length, towns and private houses. English and consist of thatched wooden houses. ale and porter are now a common beThose of the better order of peasants verage ; and champagne, mixed with contain spacious and commodious a- a profusion of seltzer water, is the partments. Of late years, houses of usual cooling drink in the hottest seastone are often met with. In many son. places there are as it were colonies of The Peasantry, who are declared gentlemen farmers. They are the de- free by the constitutions of 1791, 1807, scendants and worthy rivals of those and 1815, though not very far advannobles who, under the name of pos- ced in civilization, are laborious, and polite, have
given such proofs of devo- abound in good qualities. They are tion and fidelity to their native land, devoted to their landlords, and are and from whom also the most celebra- easily guided to improvement. They ted individuals, and the most distin- are not in general proprietors of the guished families, take their origin. soil, but possessors of portions allotted
The richest inhabitants of the cities, them by their landlord, (Seigneur,) as well as the nobles, have all their who receives his rent in labour, the Chateaus, or country houses, with peasant working for him so many days parks and gardens, which rival in beau- in the week, called by the French ty, and in the works of art which adorn corvée; † this practice is restrained by them, those of France and Germany. laws preventing its abuse. Every pea. These mighty improvements are only sant may quit his landlord if injured the work of later years. While all or dissatisfied. In some districts the other nations were making exertions peasants rise to be farmers, both hereto extend their commerce and their ditary and for terms of years; and it territory, to build new cities, and ge- is hoped that the condition of this nerally to improve and to beautify class will improve from day to day.
The Polish mile is nearly six English miles. + A practice of this sort prevailed a few years ago, and perhaps still prevails, in Northumberland, where the cottagers were obliged to do bondage work, as they called it, for the landlord,
og 6 THE Jews, more numerous in Po- reign relative to them. He wishes to arm ( land than in any other country, multiply his prudence with experience. Their chief
every day, and already form a very import abuses, however, have been in some degree ant part of the population of the country. repressed by placing checks upon the maSober, economical, and industrious, they nufacture and sale of spirits by the Jews, would have all the qualities essential in who made this traffic a terrible engine in mercantile traffic, were their character free the corruption and ruin of the peasantry, of from the tarnish of craftiness, a want of whose property they thus obtained the disgood faith, and the trickery which they em- posal. They have also, in general, been ploy in their transactions. Having inte- ejected by the country gentlemen, from the rest only for their guide, they are as yet inns which they formerly tenanted, and far from meriting that consideration and which they kept in the state of desolation confidence which is usually granted in com- and discomfort we have already described, merce; and yet they have contrived to get and which rendered it necessary to carry possession of the principal share of the in- beds, kitchen utensils, and provisions on ternal traffic, that great branch of national every journey. In this state of things, riches. They might thereby come to con- (which is now in a great measure done stitute one of the chief links of society, if away,) it is pleasing to know that the detheir religion, their laws, and their customs, ficiencies of the inns were counterbalanced did not prescribe to them interests abso- by the hospitality of the gentry, where the lutely ecxlusive in their nature. It is this traveller was sought for, and met with that absolute insulation, spiritual and personal, welcome and attention, that affability and if I may so speak, that makes them a se- politeness, which have ever characterized parate people in the very heart of Poland. the nation of Poland.” Probably this is the source of that hatred and contempt with which they are treated,
We take leave of this little work by and which, instead of modifying
by degrees saying, that it is elegantly got up, both all that is pernicious to society in their si in typography and embellishments ; tuation, only serves to concentrate them still that it is usefully and neatly put tomore.+ The Jews have hitherto proved a gether, and that it contains ten times stumbling-block to our legislators, and no- as much information as is generally to thing has been done by the present sove. be found in such publications.
both of which have been produced thy of his admiration.* In our own coun. within the last thirty years, conse- try, almost every thing that any sensible quently long subsequent to the date of man would wish to hear said about Don the last and best English LIFE--that Quixote has been said over and over again written by Smollett. The author by writers, whose sentiments I should be concludes his disquisition in these sorry to repeat without their words and
whose words I should scarcely be pardoned terms:
for repeating. « Even had Cervantes died without wri- “ Mr Spence, the author of a late ingeting Don Quixote, his plays, (above all, nious tour
in Spain, seems to believe, what his Interludes and his Numancia ;) his I should have supposed was entirely exGalatea, the beautiful dream of his youth; ploded, that Cervantes wrote his books for his Persiles, the last effort of his chastened the purpose of ridiculing knight-errantry : and purified taste ; and his fine poem of and that, unfortunately for his country, his the Voyage of Parnassus, must have given satire put out of fashion, not merely the him at least the second place in the most
absurd misdirection of the spirit of heroism, productive age of Spanish genius. In re
but that sacred spirit itself. But the pracgard to all the graces of Castilian compo. tiçe of knight-errantry, if ever there was sition, even these must have left him with such a thing, had, it is well known, been out a rival, either in that, or in any other out of date long before the age in which age of the literature of his country. For, Don Quixote appeared ; and as for the while all the other great Spanish authors spirit of heroism, I think few will sympa of the brilliant CENTURY of Spain, (from thize with the critic who deems it possible 1560 to 1656,) either deformed their wri. that an individual, to say nothing of a natings by utter carelessness, or weakened tion, should have imbibed any contempt, them by a too studious imitation of foreign either for that or any other elevating prin. models, Cervantes alone seized the happy ciple of our nature, from the manly page medium, and was almost from the begin. of Cervantes. One of the greatest triumphs ning of his career, Spanish without rude of his skill is the success with which he ness, and graceful without stiffness or af- continually prevents us from confounding fectation. As a master of Spanish style, the absurdities of the knight-errant with he is now, both in and out of Spain, ac- the generous aspirations of the cavalier. knowledged to be first without a second; For the last, even in the midst of madness, but this, which might have secured the im- we respect Don Quixote himself. We pity mortality and satisfied the ambition of any the delusion, we laugh at the situation, but man, is, after all, scarcely worthy of being we revere, in spite of every ludicrous acmentioned in regard to the great creator of companiment, and of every insane exertion, the only species of writing which can be the noble spirit of the Castillian gentle. considered as the peculiar property of mo. man; and we feel in every page, that we dern genius. In that spacious field, of are perusing the work, not of a heartless which Cervantes must be honoured as the scoffer, a cold-blooded satirist, but of a first discoverer, the finest spirits of his own, calm and enlightened mind, in which true and of every other European country, have wisdom had grown up by the side of true since been happily and successfully em experience,—of one whose genius moved ployed. The whole body of modern ro. in a sphere too lofty for mere derision of mance and novel writers must be consider- one who knew human nature too well not ed as his followers and imitators ; but to respect it-of one, finally, who, beneath among them all, so varied and so splendid a mask of apparent lenity, aspired to comsoever as have been their merits, it is, per. mune with the noblest principles of huhaps, not going too far to say, that, as yet, manity; and, above all, to give form and Cervantes has found but one rival.
expression to the noblest feelings of the 66 The learned editor of the Spanish national character of Spain. The idea of Academy's edition of 1781 has thought fit giving a ludicrous picture of an imaginary to occupy the space of a very considerable personage, conceiving himself to be called volume with an inquiry into the particular upon, in the midst of modern manners and merits of Don Quixote. I refer to his la- institutions, to exercise the perilous vocaborious dissertation all those who are un- tion of an Amadis or a Belianis, might willing to admire any thing without know- perhaps have occurred to a hundred men ing why they admire it or rather, why an as easily as to Cervantes. The same geerudite Doctor of Madrid deemed it wor- neral idea has been at the root of many
As a specimen of the style of his criticisms take this: he approves of the introduc*tion of a Roque Guinart in Don Quixote, because in the Odyssey there is a Polypher mus, and in the Æneid there is a Cacus. And yet this man must have at least read Cervantes' own preface to his work, in which that pedantic species of criticism is so powerfully ridiculed, “ If thou namest any giant in the book, forget not Goliah of Gath,” &c.
ca subsequent works, written in derision of of pelf that has drawn him from his vil. real or imaginary follies; but Cervantes lage the insula which has been promised is distinguished from the authors of all by his master to him-and which he does these works, not merely by the originality not think of the less, because he does not of his general corception and plan, but as know what it is, and because he does know strongly, and far more admirably, by the that it has been promised by a madman. nature of the superstructure he has reared The contrasts perpetually afforded by the upon the basis of his initiatory fiction. characters of Quixote and Sancho,--the
“ Others have been content with the dis- contrasts not less remarkable between the play of wit, satire, eloquence—and some secondary objects and individuals intro, of them have displayed all these with the duced as these are in reality, and as they most admirable skill and power ; but he appear to the hero,—all the contrasts in a who rises from the perusal of Don Quixote, work where, more successfully than in any thinks of the wit, the satire, the eloquence other, the art of contrast has been exhibit of Cervantes, but as the accessories and ed, --would be comparatively feeble and lesser ornaments of a picture of national ineffectual, but for the never failing conlife and manners, by far the most perfect trast between the idea of the book, and the and glowing that was ever embodied in one style in which it is written. Never was the piece of composition,--a picture, the pos- fleeting essence of wit so richly embalmed session of which alone will be sufficient to for eternity. preserve, in freshness and honour, the Spa. " In our time, it is certain, almost all nish name and character, even after the last readers must be contented to lose a great traces of that once noble character may part of the delight with which Don Quixote have been obliterated, and perhaps that was read on its first appearance. The class name itself forgotten among the fantastic of works, to parody and ridicule which it innovations of a degenerated people. Don was Cervantes' first and most evident pur. Quixote is thus the peculiar property, as pose, has long since passed into almost towell as the peculiar pride of the Spaniards. tal oblivion ; and therefore a thousand traits In another, and in a yet larger point of of felicitous satire must needs escape the view, it is the property and pride of the notice even of those best able to seize the whole of the cultivated world--for Don general scope, and appreciate the general Quixote is not merely to be regarded as a merits of the history of The Ingenious Hi. Spanish cavalier, filled with a Spanish dalgo, Mr Southey's admirable editions madness, and exhibiting that madness in of Amadis de Gaul, and Palmerin of Engthe eyes of Spaniards of every condition land, have indeed revived among us someand rank of life, from the peasant to the thing of the once universal taste for the old grandee,he is also the type of a more and stately prose romance of chivalry ;universal madness he is the symbol of but it must be had in mind that Cervantes Imagination, continually struggling and wrote his book for the purpose not of saticontrasted with Reality-he represents the rizing these works—which are among the eternal warfare between Enthusiasm and most interesting relics of the rich, fanciful, Necessity--the eternal discrepancy between and lofty genius of the middle ages—but the aspirations and the occupations of man of extirpating the race of slavish imitators, -the omnipotence and the vanity of hu- who, in his day, were deluging all Europe, man dreams. And thus, perhaps, it is not and more particularly Spain, with eternal too much to say, that Don Quixote, the caricatures of the venerable old romance. wittiest and the most laughable of all books Of the Amadis, (the plan and outline of a book which has made many a one, he, which he for the most part parodied mere. sides the young student on the banks of ly because it was the best known work of the Manzanares, look as if he were out of its order,) Cervantes has been especially kimself—is a book, upon the whole, cal- careful to record his own high admiration ; culated to produce something very differ, and if the Canon of Toledo be introduced, ent from a merely mirthful impression. as is generally supposed, to express the
“ The serious style of Don Quixote, in opinions of Cervantes himself, the author the original language, preserves the most of Don Quixote had certainly, at one pe. perfect harmony with this seriousness of riod of his life, entertained some thoughts purpose. The solemn, eloquent, impas- of writing, not a humorous parody, but a sioned Don Quixote, the shrewd, earth. serious imitation, of the Amadis. seeking, yet affectionate Sancho, do not “ I shall conclude what I have to say of fill us with mirth, because they seem to be the author of Don Quixote with one re. mirthful themselves. From the beginning mark-namely, that Cervantes was an old of the book to the end, they are both in man when he wrote șis masterpiece of cotensely serious characters the one never mic romance; that nobody has ever writ. loses sight of the high destinies to which ten successful novels, when young, but he has devoted himself-the other wanders Smollett ; and that Humphrey Clinket, amidst sierras and moonlight forests, and written in the last year of Smollett's life, glides on the beautiful stream of the Ebro, is, in every particular of conception, exewithout forgetting for a moment the hope cution, and purpose, as much superior to