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one for which the English character was prepared, by all the previous circumstances of the nation. It had, and has still, a greater tendency to the plain and liberal virtues of social life, than to the polish and ornament of courtly refinement; and when the revolution introduced a settled code of behaviour, and domestic conduct, the nation seemed to have returned to its proper and natural state. This is well worthy of attention, as it shows in a very powerful way, the strong alliance there is between political events, and the state of morality among a people. The former may not be able for centuries perhaps to shake the national character, but there are very few, even slight, changes taking place, without a corresponding change in external manners, and with that a change in the moral sentiments of the people. Our author has given a good view of several of the particulars which confirmed the alteration.
The religious education and sober habits in which both William and Mary had been brought up, made their court immediately assume an appearance of much decency and regularity of conduct. The short and distracted reign of James could hardly be separated, either in manners or morals, from the twenty licentious years which had preceded it. The stage, we find, had neither reformed its language nor its precepts; for some of our most defective comedies in these particulars, as has been before observed, date from the first ten years after the Revolution. This became a sufficient reason, why, when more refined manners and a better taste in morals prevailed, the theatres ceased to be a popular amusement in the upper ranks of society, and justified the neglect of them which continued during the early part of the last century. Several distinguished singers having visited this country during the reigns of Charles and James, a taste had been acquired for Italian music: it was now about to be established in a theatre exclusively dedicated to it, and patronised by the nobility and the good company of London, as a less exceptionable entertainment than the national theatre. It certainly had no chance of corrupting either the heart or the understanding, neither of which were at all called into action at these exhibitions.
"Mrs. Tofts, a mere Englishwoman, in the part of Camilla, courted by Nicolini, an Italian, without understanding a syllable each other said; Mrs. Tofts chanting her recitative in English, in answer to his Italian ; and, on the other hand, Valentini courting amorously in the same language a Dutchwoman, who could neither speak English nor Italian, and committing murder on our good old English with as little understanding as a parrot, could interest nothing but the eyes and ears."
These particulars may give us some idea of the strange incongruities which accompanied the infancy of the establishment of the opera in London. No wonder that, in the beginning of the next reign, Steele and Addison exerted themselves to recal the public taste to the English stage. They had both of them endeavoured, by example as well as precept, to purify it from that alloy of coarseness of sentiment, and of expression, which debased the otherwise sterling and incomparable comedies of Congreve, Vanburgh, and Farquhar. In the Tatler and Spectator, they strove to lead the public taste towards admiring such pieces as the "Haunted
House," "The Conscious Lovers," "Grief à la Mode," &c., &c. coarse thread is still sometimes found traversing the tissue of their dialogue, we feel sure that it was a compromise between the yet unsettled taste of the day, and the purity of that of the authors.
'During most part of the reign of King William, the young and active in the upper orders of society, those who must always give the tone to it, were so occupied, either directly or indirectly, with the political and religious parties, which still existed in the country, that they had little time for the quiet amusements of literature, and no need of fictitious excitements. Whig and Tory, Papist and Protestant, were then designations which struck so home to the interests, to the honour, and even to the life of those distinguished by them; so much depended on their triumph or defeat, and their ulterior success was yet so uncertain, that every lively feeling of the gay and thoughtless, and every serious speculation of the cautious and wise, must have been concentrated on these subjects. They pervaded the whole mass of society. Every thing connected with literature or the arts, and every trifling incident, received a colour from the party that was supposed to favour or to oppose it.
"Of the strong impression permanently made by the circumstances of this period of our history, we may best judge by observing that even now, when Whig and Tory are become mere names for two modifications of political opinion, both admissible in our well-poised government; when Papist and Protestant are become mere differences of creed, unconnected with any political inferences; when the whole bearings of these questions are so entirely changed, that the protection of religious toleration, now claimed by the Whigs, was then exclusively the doctrine of the Tories; that even now, the former ideas respecting religious differences still remain engraved so forcibly on a great portion of the public mind.
Taverns and coffee-houses were then the rendezvous of the men, for the discussion of business, as well as convivial motives. A house had been opened for making and selling coffee as early as the year 1652, by a Greek servant of Sir Nicholas Crisp, a Turkey merchant, whom he had brought to England with him. During the Protectorate, and probably till the Restoration, coffee-houses, if they were much increased in number, were merely places in which coffee was to be found by those who happened to like this new beverage. Immediately after the Restoration, however, they rapidly multiplied, and soon became the separate resort of societies of persons united in the same pursuits, or sentiments, or pleasures.'-pp. 269-273.
But while the manners of a people are thus continually fluctuating in seasons of political trouble, a comparison between the state of society in two different countries, is only of use as leading to a just estimate of the value of the various political systems which have prevailed. It is hence that the comparative view of the social life of England and France, which the volume before us affords, derives its chief interest. If the two nations were farther apart; had they been less involved together in contests for superiority; had there never existed the close intercourse between the higher classes of society in each country, or had they been separated by antipathies to their respective manners, as by political
jealousies, it is very certain the state of society in the country would have been different in many periods of our history. But though every thing at several times conduced to assimilate the manners of the most influential classes of society in England to the same in France, these have never passed a certain boundary. But of what, then, is this boundary formed? Has it not all along consisted of the differences of government and policy, of political security and national interests? If this be the case, the manners of two countries, under two forms of government, or having separate interests, can never become entirely similar, for England and France have had a closer intercommunication than ever existed between two other countries. We have, therefore, only to gain clear and distinct notions of the actual state of society in these nations, during corresponding periods, to acquire one of the most useful manuals of moral and political philosophy that could be put into our hands.
From the above considerations, it appears that the distinction which prevails in manners, is mainly attributable to difference of political condition. The near approach which a close view of the subject leads us to believe has been sometimes made between the society of the two countries, contradicts any idea of impossibility in their still nearer similarity. But the following remarks open the subject in a new point of view.
'It is not meant here to recal to the fatigued remembrance the horrors that accompanied the political agitations of the first twelve years of the French Revolution, when crime became familiar, and almost ridiculous, from the egregious folly that often accompanied it; and folly became odious, from the atrocious crimes it often dictated. It is our business only to observe on the remarkable differences in the conduct and feelings of England and France under similar circumstances of popular excitation, and its effects on the social life and character of the two nations.
During the whole period which elapsed in England from the meeting of the long parliament in 1642, to the Restoration of the house of Stuart in 1660, while the political discontents of the nation were increased by the strong excitement of religious differences--while it was agitated by two sects equally enemies to each other, and to the established worship of the country, but one solitary instance can be adduced of assassination from political or religious motives,-that of Sharpe, Archbishop of St. Andrew's in Scotland,--nor of the people forcing the arm of power, and taking punishment into their own hands. The occasional rencontres of the military with the conventiclers and religious enthusiasts of that nation, collected in arms to support their covenant, and defend themselves from the establishment of episcopacy, cannot be called individual murder or private revenge. The national character of England suffered much more from the abuse of juridical power and of the forms of law under the re-establishment of the house of Stuart, that it did during the most agitated moments of civil dissension.
'Charles the First, while yet in possession of undisputed power, when he made his fatal attempt on the individual liberty of his subjects, in the
person of five members of the House of Commons, came himself, and openly demanded them of the body of which they formed a part: when they were as openly withdrawn from his indignation, he found no power to further its effects, nor no individuals to espouse its cause.
When religious fanaticism at its height in Edinburgh, forcibly rejected in a popular tumult the form of worship which the government had dictated, joint stools and benches were the missile weapons which served the wrath of the triumphant party; but the dagger was as little thought of as the lamp-post by either side. When their fanatical associates in England defaced the magnificent Gothic cathedrals, which, having been constructed for the Roman Catholic religion, recalled to them all its abuses, the ministers who officiated in these cathedrals, although suspected of wishing to recal such abuses, were left unmolested.
When the infatuated James the Second had abandoned his metrópolis, and it was known that no accommodation was on foot between him and the Prince of Orange, already in the heart of the kingdom—while a habit of obedience to the laws was in fact the only executive government in London-a rabble of apprentices and populace assembled in crowds, and broke the windows of such houses as they believed harboured priests or papists, not sparing even those of foreign ministers; but no one was killed except by accident, few houses were burnt, and still fewer robberies committed.
Even Jefferies, the hated Jefferies, who was known to have been the ready and unrelenting engine of the misgovernment of his master, and had outraged the laws committed to his administration, when he was discovered in Wapping, under the disguise of a sailor, endeavouring to make his escape from a justly-irritated people, even he was only kicked and cuffed about by the mob, and carried by them immediately before the Lord Mayor (Sir John Chapman), who they insisted should commit him
to the Tower.
In France, at the first tumultuous meetings at the Hôtel de Ville, the lamp-iron was unhesitatingly resorted to, to inflict summary punishment on those who had fallen under the displeasure of the mob; and the first proof of their having always within their reach so ready an engine to execute the dictates of their savage vengeance, was received with universal acclamation. The lamp-iron yet remains at the corner of the Place de Grêve, to which Foulon (one of the first who thus perished), was suspended in July, 1790. He had been joint Secretary at War after the first exile of Neckar. He knew himself to be so unpopular, both from a reputation of avarice, and from professing despotic sentiments, that he had circulated a report of his own death by apoplexy, and had concealed himself in a country-house at Viry, about four leagues from Paris. The syndic of the village arrested him, and sent him under an escort of the inhabitants to Paris. They obliged him to walk on foot the whole way during the night. He had been reputed to say, that " un royaume bien administré étoit celui où le peuple broute l'herbe des champs, and that if he were minister, il feroit manger de foin aux François : his tormentors, therefore, put a collar of nettles round his neck, gave him a nosegay of thistles, and loaded him with hay on his back. Thus accoutred he was conducted to the Hôtel de Ville, where every effort was made in vain by the magistrates to save him from the popular fury. In vain La Fayette harangued, in
vain the wretched man showed himself at the windows in the power of the police, and willing to be conducted to prison. The mob overpowered, all resistance, broke into the Hôtel de Ville, and dragged their victim to the lamp-iron. Here his sufferings were prolonged by the rope twice breaking; and while a new rope was sought, he lay near a quarter of an hour on the pavement where he had fallen, overwhelmed with blows and outrages from the infuriate populace, who, after at last hanging him, cut off his head, and paraded it through the streets of Paris.'-pp. 408-413. This remarkable opposition in the demonstration of excited popular feeling in the two nations, is a much stronger, and more evident proof of an essential difference in the state of their manners, than any other. There may be variations in the form of social intercourse, while the spirit of society is the same. And, again, the fashions of two countries, both in dress, and in the favourite sentiments of polished life, may be similar, while whatever lies beneath the outward garb, is perfectly different. Both these cases appear to have existed in the relations of France and England. The truth is, the state of society is incessantly varying, as one set of men gain the ascendant, or various circumstances give a temporary charm to certain objects. There is, however, a limit to these changes, and every nation in a certain state of civilization, experiences them all by turn. The difference which exists in their manners at the same period, is owing to the causes which at one time or the other operate on both not operating on both at the same time, or with the same force. In the passage, however, which we have just quoted, it is clearly proved, that, to whatever degree similar circumstances may assimilate the manners of two nations, in the slighter matters of social life, the operation of like causes, when those causes are great and powerful, serves in a remarkable degree to show the distinctions of national character. In courtly manners and sentiments; in the luxuries of dress and the table, English manners have frequently tended to a close imitation of those of France. They have so tended whenever the circumstances which introduced luxury and its corresponding vices into the latter country, have operated on the former; but when the causes to which the revolutions and breakings-up of society are attributable, have affected both nations in the same degree, very different results have been the consequence, and the national characters of the two countries have been seen distinctly apart.
The style of the Comparative View,' will be understood by the passages we have given from its contents. The author has evidently not over-rated his ability, or the opportunities he possessed of observation, in presenting his work to the public. Judiciously avoiding the example of the writers who, in treating of such subjects, fill their pages with inapplicable or trite stories, he has selected from the records of the period he describes the most striking and the least known facts that could be found. The style of the work is clear, and the sentiments temperate, and it well