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according to its own conclusions. Fashion is the result of the mind's passive conformity to others, influenced by accidental
There is, therefore, a character belonging to society, which is as distinct as possible from that of the individuals composing it, and which is not to be defined by the same terms, or examined by the same rules. The former has infinitely less relation to the latter than it seems to have. It is usually supposed to be derived from it, to be, in fact, a vast accumulation of personal opinion, under all their various forms and combinations. But the character of society, and even that of a nation, is not derived from the people, but given to the people. It is not formed by their association, but consists of qualities added to it after its formation. It is the uniform colouring of an heterogeneous mass, or the varnishing of a picture, giving the same tone of shade, or brightness, to all its parts. From this national character, as at a common fountain, the individuals composing the society take those habits of thinking, those likings for particular modes of living, which give the appearance of a brotherhood, or one large family, to a nation. Did the state of society, or the national character, arise from the assemblage of a multitude of persons of various ages, habits, and dispositions, there could be none of this uniformity, for no bond but that of a common destiny, and that felt continually pressing and tightening, could insure it. But held together by this, being influenced and affected by the same general causes of prosperity or evil, the whole mass or assemblage of men is impressed with the same character, and made a community by the similarity of habits, as well as fears and hopes.
But while it is thus the colouring of the mass, and not of individuals, in which national character consists, the subject by no means loses any of its interest, as it respects the consideration of individual happiness or virtue. It is the general state and character of the people among which a man is born, that make his first chances of a good or evil condition. It is in incomparably the greater number of individuals the entire ground-work of their mental and moral constitution, for in nothing is the passiveness of the human intellect more evinced, than in its susception of these general impressions. But there is, in the investigation of this subject throughout, an essential distinction to be made, which cannot too constantly be borne in mind. National character is never to be confounded with the particular state of society at different periods. The former of these is of a fixed and permanent nature, being only gradually and slowly formed; and changing or receiving new modifications, only from the action of very powerful causes. The other is continually varying, yielding to the slightest impulse of circumstance, changing with every change of political system, modified by the genius of a few individuals, and becoming good or bad according to the occurrence of unforeseen
events. An Englishman, in the time of Cromwell, was the same in his national characteristics as an Englishman in the reign of Elizabeth, or in that of the second Charles. But manners and the state of society were as different as possible in those periods, the former being as it were the fixed centre of a continually moving circle.
The comparison which is instituted in the comparative view of the social life of England and France, between the state of manners in the one and the other country, during a certain period, presents us with many curious illustrations of this interesting subject. The period chosen by our author, is perhaps the most interesting that could have been fixed on, in the annals of the two countries, comprehending a view of the one nation as its manners settled after a great revolution, and of the other as it gradually approached the great catastrophe of its history. The writer expresses in his preface, some surprise that the countries, being so contiguous, should have so long been distinguished by the greatest dissimilarity of manners. We can see not the slightest cause for such a remark, had there been a much wider difference than we believe to have existed in the manners of the two people. At many times there is no doubt they have made great approaches to similarity, and the only real difference between them consisted in the radical and enduring qualities of a national character. But no difference has for many hundred years past existed between the state of society in England and France, so great as that in the social condition of the internal parts of the United Kingdom. The examination, consequently, of this subject becomes a much nicer and more difficult one than we think is apprehended. It is easy to say much on the difference of French and English fashions, but we imagine it is in the more evanescent, in the less palpable and more subtle differences of sentiment, that the same classes of people in the two nations have been most distinguished, or rather in regard to which it is more interesting to consider them. Thus in the time of Charles the Second, and in the corresponding reign of Louis XIV., there were some gross differences of manners, which are at once visible and known to every reader of history; but little profit can be derived from the knowledge; while by the examination of the less evident distinctions which then prevailed in the sentiments of the principal characters which figured on the two great stages, we have a wide field for interesting observation. The most convenient passage which occurs for our notice, in our author's observations on this period, is the following:
• Except within the circle of Whitehall, no habitual intercourse of society seems to have taken place in London, even among those whom similarity of taste or disposition might have made agreeable to each other. Persons formally visited and received visits from their own family and connections only. No women frequented the court, or formed any part of its society, except those attached to the household of the royal family, or whose parents
or connections were employed by them; indeed, the Court and Country soon began to form two separate parties, which had very little in common with each other. The differences observable in their manners, and habits of life, were most decided in every thing that related to female society. There can hardly be a stronger proof that women have never obtained any considerable influence on the national manners of England, than that even during the first popularity of a reign distinguished for its gallantry and devotion to women, the sex in general seem to have gained little or nothing on the score of social enjoyment. The mistresses of Charles acquired none of the consideration which he lost in their society: their venality made them despicable even to those who profited by it, and their example harmless to the rest of their sex. Lord Clarendon had forbidden his wife from visiting Lady Castlemain immediately after the Restoration, although her father Lord Grandison had been his friend. Pique, at this neglect, was supposed to have made her active among his enemies at the time of his dismissal from office.
Many families of high rank and opulent fortunes continued living exclusively in the country; satisfied with the advantages of their restored possessions, and with the amusements that their hounds, their horses, and their neighbours, afforded. To such persons, London exhibited few inducements to draw them from their dignified residences in the country; and the metropolis and its society could derive little brilliancy from their occasional presence.
All the old comedies are filled with the complaints of women against the dullness of their lives. Mrs. Hutchinson says, "her husband's design was to draw her into his owne country, but he would not set upon it too roughly, and, therefore, lett her rest awhile, when he had drawne her ten miles nearer it (to Richmond), out of the city, where she had her birth and education, and where all her rela ions were most conversant, and which she could not resolve to quitt, for altogether, to betake herself to the north, which was a formidable name among the London ladies."
'On the other hand, a journey to London was considered in times subsequent to those of which we are now speaking, as often involving in ruin, as well as ridicule, a country gentleman's family. The characters and the adventures of the Wrongheads, as first written by Sir John Vanburgh, in 1673, exhibit probably no very exaggerated picture. The pert conceit of Miss Jenny, and the low pursuits of Squire Richard, were to be found in many a mansion-house, in the distant counties, to the very end of the 18th century; and it may be doubted if the Lady Wrongheads, who believed that by imitating the vices of their superiors they assimilated themselves to their graces, are yet quite extinct.
The respectable part of the sex in general, even those of the highest rank, were unknown out of the circle of their own families and relations; where they were occupied entirely with the concerns of their household, the management of their affairs, and the establishment of their daughters. This last object was, indeed, pursued by very different means from those which have been deemed expedient by the no less attached mothers of later days. The marriages of the young nobility were then contracted much in the same manner that they continued to be, long after, in France. The proposal was first made, and agreed to by the parents, before the parties had any opportunities of becoming acquainted, or making themselves
agreeable to each other. Sometimes, as may be supposed, this proposal was anticipated by the sentiments of the young people; and sometimes, again, as in France, recourse was had to royal favour and protection, to reconcile these sentiments to the interested views of prudent parents. In the diary of Lady Burlington, already cited, we find Laurence Hyde, the Chancellor Clarendon's second son, availing himself of the interest of his sister, the Duchess of York, and of his dawning favour with Charles the Second, to persuade Lady Burlington to permit his hitherto rejected addresses to the Lady Henrietta Boyle, her fifth daughter, under a promise from the King of especial favour and advancement. In cases of large fortune, and great connections, marriages were often contracted before the persons so disposed of could have any opinion or choice in the matter. Lady Arlington's only child, Lady Isabella Bennett, was formally married to the Duke of Grafton (son of Charles the Second by the Duchess of Cleveland) when she was only five, and he eight years old. The Archbishop of Canterbury performed the ceremony, and the King and all the court were present. This wedding must have been meant merely as a sort of fête, for the amusement of the King; as it was thought proper to re-marry them, when she was twelve, and he sixteen years old. Mr. Evelyn, who was present at both the meetings, tells us, "the ceremony was performed in my Lord Chamberlain's (Lord Arlington's) lodgings at Whitehall, by the Bishop of Rochester, his Majesty being present. A sudden and unexpected thing, when every body thought the first marriage would come to nothing. But the measure being determined, I was privately invited by my Lady her mother to be present. I confess I could give her little joy, and so I plainly told her; but she said the King would have it so, and there was no going back. I staid supper, where his Majesty sat between the Duchess of Cleveland (mother of the Duke of Grafton) and the sweet Duchess the bride: there were several great persons and ladies without pomp."
'The Lady Elizabeth Percy, daughter and heiress of Joceline Percy, the last Earl of Northumberland, was contracted, when only twelve years old, to the Earl of Ogle, only son of the Duke of Newcastle, and he dying the next year, she was again married to Mr. Thynne, the same person murdered by Count Koningsmarck before their cohabitation. The year after she married Charles, the sixth Duke of Somerset, and was thus twice a widow, and a third time married at the age of fifteen.
'These instances however were rare, and when we see, in the Life of Mrs. Hutchinson, her account of her courtship and marriage, the admirable detail she gives of her husband's sentiments and conduct towards her, and her own appreciation of her happiness; we shall acknowledge with pride, as well as pleasure, that domestic felicity, founded on mutual and voluntary preference, was already domiciliated in England.
'It might seem that the accomplishments, and the various modes of occupying time, universally taught to our young women now, would have been more usefully and necessarily bestowed at a period when the whole female sex lived so much more in seclusion, both from the interruptions, and the improvement arising from worldly society. Certain it is, that, generally speaking, they possessed few of the means of self-amusement, now in the hands of almost all the world. Music was cultivated by none but those whose strong natural taste, and talent for it, made them overcome
all obstacles in its pursuit. Drawing, or any taste for the fine arts, seems never to have been thought of, either as an employment of the hands, or as a cultivation of the mind; although such a taste is perhaps the more peculiarly desirable for women, because it furnishes a source of conversation free from scandal, and from all idle and vulgar inquiries into the affairs of others. No woman really possessing such a taste will ever be a gossip. Reading, except for some express purpose, was hardly esteemed an amusement among the young men of the world, far less among the young women. The romances of the day, unlike the modern furniture of a circulating library, were serious voluminous works; whose perusal was scarcely undertaken except by those who had a turn for study, and solitary occupation, in the long leisure of a country life.'-vol. i. pp. 98-107.
It is impossible not to be struck with many curious reflections at the difference of female character at this period, and in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. The English women were also during this reign, far below the French in intellectual accomplishments, and it may be added, in the state of their manners. The whole character, indeed, of society in England, during the time of Charles II. was degraded by a reckless profligacy, while that of France was concealed, and tempered, first by the ambition of the monarch, and secondly, and principally, by the wealth and prosperity of the nation itself. The one was the debauchery of a lewd drunkard; the other, of a rich, accomplished, and secure libertine. But, notwithstanding this difference, it is not impossible to discover a resemblance in all but the mere outward manners, in the moral state of English and French society, and we recommend the subject to our readers, as in this respect offering some interesting points for consideration. It is probable, we think, that if Charles had been succeeded by a monarch of the same character as himself, there would have been less outward difference between the courts of the two nations. Immediately after the restoration, the English nobility were so Gallicised, that it wanted but time, and the greater stability of affairs, to assimilate them entirely to the French aristocracy. The rudeness of their revels, and the grossness of their manners, in many other respects, are directly attributable to the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed. Their exile and misfortunes were bad tutors for men about to return to their homes in companionship with a prosperous monarch. Had not the agitation of political events which followed, turned the minds of all classes of men, from the revelry of Charles's reign to the determined defence of their rights, there is great reason to suppose that English manners would have retained the strong tincture they had received from the importation of French licentiousness, and that time would only have had the effect of removing the outward grossness which the thoughtlessness of sudden prosperity had suffered.
The change of manners which took place in this country, almost immediately after the revolution in 1668, was very great, but it was