Pagina-afbeeldingen
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from conquest,— from the variety and the history which connect the chefs-d'æuvres of Raphael and Mi. chael Angelo with the victories of Italy and Napoleon,* that a sentiment is felt for the picture-gallery and the statue-room, which

attribute to the improvements and the refinements of peace. And it is again owing to the quick and vivid perceptions, to the enthusiastic and admiring character of the French themselves, that so strong an impulse has been given to the natural effect of the causes I have described. Some of you still think in your hearts, perhaps, that it is only to the press, to the Chamber, to the long number of republican laws and free constitutions which have succeeded with so much rapidity in France, that a mere man of letters became all of a sudden so proud a title. It is just the reverse : it was not because there was liberty, but because there was despotism ; it was not because there was a free press, but because there was no free press; it was not because there was a popular assembly, but because there was no popular assembly,—that literary men, as the only organs of enlightened opinion, became towards the latter days of the old “ régime" a second estate in the realm, and possessing extraordinary power, obtained an hereditary respect.

many

of
you

Such nonsense is it to embrace all advantages in * During the campaigns of Bonaparte, in addition to that knowledge which the views of other countries and the necessary study of other customs must have produced with the soldiers abroad-war contributed to the education of the peasant lest at home, and the conscript who wrote to his family on account of his exploits, stimulated the most ignorant of his village to acquire a knowledge necessary to give the key to so interesting a correspondence. And, in the same manner, from the successes of military despotism, the daily press acquired an interest, an influence, and a power which at a later period it used against that despotism itself.

+ I need hardly say that, in stating what have been the causes of a feeling in France, which I would wish to see introduced into England, I by no means think the same causes necessary to introduce it into one country that did originally introduce it into the other. On the contrary, we must look at the feeling by itself, ask whether it is good or bad, advantageous or disadvantageous to a state-and if we decide, not in favour of its advantage, turn our thoughts to the considera. tion, of what grafted it on the French character—but of what might graft it on ours.

one system and to exclude them from another; so necessary is it in looking at the present to refer to the past; so sure are we to be wrong, if we think oné effect is always produced by one cause ; or to believe that the same events, which confirm and extend a power have, as a matter of course, planted or produced it.

The authority of letters now extending and maintaining liberty in France, originated in despotism; and the class carried by the revolution of July into office, was encouraged under the ministry of Napoleon, and created by the policy of Richelieu. If you wish, as I wish, my readers, to encourage the arts, to raise in public estimation the character of men of leters in England, it is not by resigning yourselves to the belief that, because you find the one cultivated and the other respected where the people have power, the people having power will alone do this. Neither is it by imagining that ordinary education, which would be sufficient to spread and to increase a love for science and the arts where it already exists, is sufficient to generate that affection where it does not exist. Neither must you think that what has been produced by certain causes in one country requires the same causes to produce it

in yours.

If you wish to introduce a love of the arts and to elevate literary men in England, you must study the genius, the character, and the history of the English people. You must introduce the passion you wish to create, in the manner in which it can best blend with the dispositions that you find existing. If you wish to wake the attention of a cold and apathetic people to the arts, you must multiply statues and forms of beauty in your public walks—you must let your galleries and your collections stand with doors wide open to the public.* If you wish to inspire a manufacturing people with any just idea of the value of sculpture and of painting, you must not simply institute schools of painting and sculpture, but schools that shall connect painting and sculpture with manufactures. If you wish among an aristocratical people to raise the situation of men of science and men of letters, you must not merely in stitute universities and societies which shall keep men of letters and science apart from the rest of their fel low-citizens, you must confer such honours and dis tinctions upon literary and scientific labours, as are obtained in the army or at the bar, and not forbid the highest genius in literature to aspire to the same position and the same rank in society that even wealth and court favour are sufficient to give.

* There is no doubt that the best collections belonging-not to the state, but to individuals, and demanding for their exhibition rather on private courtesy than on public advantage-has kept that taste among the higher classes, where it is only a personal accomplishment-from the lower, where it is a source of national prosperity; instead of endeavouring to counteract this evil, the state seems to favour and to encourage it, and at the door of galleries called “public,” you are impertinently, for it is impertinently," requested to pay for your admission. Nor is this all. Whenever the question is agitated of how much you ought to do to encourage national taste, it is always discussed on the principle of how little you need do. Instead of seeing that, if we wish to rival France, we must do more than France, it is thought a most triumphant argument if we can show, that in any one instance, as in the opening of the museum, for example, we do as much as France. Nor are we at all sensible, that a taste important to the French, who are not a commercial and manufacturing people, would be of far more importance to the English, who are devoted to commerce and manufactures.

I do not, for my own part, see only evil in that species of aristocracy which has long existed in England. I may elsewhere have occasion to observe why I think the modified continuance of such an aristocracy still desirable. But if it continue, it will be by the enlargement and extension of that principle on which it has hitherto maintained itself—it will be by taking into its body all those who are formidable as its rivals. It will be by not considering itself apart from any set of men who confer public benefit or enjoy popular favour. Had I to choose between the two, I should certainly prefer the aristocracy of birth and of land to that which has bought its titles yesterday at the stock exchange. But the time is approaching when neither the one nor the other will be able to stand alone. The time is ap

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proaching when an hereditary aristocracy must receive support from an aristocracy that is not hereditaryand the alliance which it formerly made with talent in the House of Commons – be renewed under nobler and purer auspices in another assembly. But it is not here that I would pursue this subject.

And now let me give a striking instance of the value and of the pervading nature of that literary influence which extends over every thing in France, and which is so essentially wanting to decorate the industry, as well as to brighten and to cultivate the character in England.

Dr. Bowring, in his evidence before the Silk Committee in 1832, says, “I was exceedingly surprised (he is speaking of Lyons) at finding among weavers themselves, and among their children, and among everybody connected with the production of patterns, a perpetual attention to every thing which was in any way connected with beauty and colour. I have again and again seen weavers walking about gathering flowers, and arranging them in their most graceful and attractive shape;" and so,

he

says farther on, “I beg to state that the universal conviction in France is, that the French are wholly dependant on the superior beauty of their productions for their foreign sale, and the universal desire among the manufacturers is to do something which, in the regions of taste,' shall be better than that which is done by their neighbours.” I do not know any thing more worthy of remark than the whole of this part of Dr. Bowring's evidence. The Mayor of Lyons, aware of the pressure which

competition is likely to bring upon the trade of his town, and taking the best means to avert the calamity, doeswhat? Why, he supports and encourages a school, where the weaver may be taught painting, and sculpture, and botany; and begs Dr. Bowring to send him-copies of the Elgin marbles from England !

But it is not only a superiority of colour or of pattern which this study of the arts produces; the taste which it creates is not only present in the “ atelier,"

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and presiding over the loom—it is at the very seat and capital of fashionable empire, viz.-in the milliner's shop. If the French milliner knows what colours best assimilate, where to put in a little bit of pink, and where a little stripe of brown—if she has a peculiar taste in arranging the set of a gown and the fall of a sleeve,* it is the work of laws, customs, years, and not the work of chance; it is the effect of an influence cherished and created at the apex of society, and which has worked its way into the foundations of societyit is the effect of the causes which made Voltaire the idol of the court of Louis XV., which

David the great cordon of honour, which made Bonapartet boast of

gave

* So far has this taste for the arts penetrated into the nation, and mingled with all that is most national, that you find it enter into the occupations of the army, and many of the regiments amuse and occupy themselves by ornamentingwith statues, and fountains, and walks, the town in which they may happen to be stationed. But if I wished to give at once the most simple and striking instance of the influence of literature in France, I do not think I could give a better one than is to be found in the first newspaper on Galignani's table. Observe, whatever the paper is, whatever the subjects of the day it has to speak of-observe, that literature, either in the review of a play, or in the review of a novel, or in an account of the lectures of a professor, is sure to occupy one third of its sides. Here it is not the siterary journal separate from the political journal; the same person who takes an interest in politics is supposed to take an interest in literature; and that to which I wish todraw particular aitention, is the public, and popular, and general mo:le which science, in the weekly account of its proceedings-proceedings which appear with all the other news of the day, has of corresponding with the public, and interesting and perpetually informing the public by its inquiries. ! allude to the reports of the Institút, which appear in all the political newspapers, and carry to every extremity of France the daily and weekly discoveries of the metropolis. The savant appears before his brethren, he tells them what he has been doing during the week, and this information is in every body's hands almost as soon as it has passed the philosopher's lips. The circumstance of such reports finding their way into papers only professing to feed the public appetite, is no less extraordinary as a proof of the general taste for science, than valuable as a channel for its general diffusion.

t I never heard louder applause than I did at Franconi's (our Astley's, and filled with a Parisian populace), when the actor, who was Napoléon for the night, had gave to this painter the same decoration which he had just been giving to Massena the general. And such was the feeling which forinerly made the French bow to a despot whom they had seen boast of being a man of science! They had understood from that boast that their emperor placed the power of the mind above every other power, and the respect which they paid his tyranny sprang from the thought that it was governed by intelligence.

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