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nation because it belongs to himself;* the Frenchman is proud of himself because he belongs to his nation." This is true and this is true, because a Frenchman's vanity induces him to prefer to himself the association which connects him with something greater than himself;--so merit is more honoured in France than in England—because the Frenchman at once connects his own fame with the fame of the sage or the warrior of his land, and loves and cherishes his countryman's reputation as a part of himself. “ It was not from a massive bar of iron, but from a small and tiny needle," as my Lord Bacon observes, " that we discovered the great mystery of nature:” and thus is it often by marking carefully those passions, which, looked at superficially, appear the smallest and the meanest—that we trace the causes of a nation's principal distinctions.
Let me also remark that things which appear the most incomprehensible, as we regard the institutions of a country, explain themselves frequently as we inform ourselves of the character of its people. A fierce republican asked a friend of mine the other day, to procure him the order of St. Anne from the Emperor of Russia. How do you account for, and how do you reconcile, that passion for equality, and that avidity for distinction which burn at the same moment in a French bosom? Do you believe in the one, and doubt the other? They both in reality exist—and they both exist–because the Frenchman is-vain. France is republican, because France is, as Madame de Stael said, toute marquise--a general desire for honours forbids a privilege to exist.
I have said that merit is more honoured in France than in England, because the Frenchman at once associates himself with the greatest glory to which he can possibly claim affinity. For this reason—a government strong and lucky will find little difficulty in doing what it pleases. Instead of being afraid or jealous of its power, the French will be vain of it. The greater and more terrible such a government is, the greater and more terrible they will think themselves to be.—“I was stopping one night at a country inn," says an English traveller, whose journey took place about sixty years ago; “ the court-yard was filled with the equipage, and the kitchen with the retinue, of a 'grand
* England and the English.
seigneur,' who was proceeding to his government in the south. My room was not very distant from the French nobleman's, and just as I was going to bed, I heard a tremendous noise in the passage, and the mingled ejaculations of threatening and supplication. What is the cause of this ?-thought I-with the nervousness of a traveller in a strange country-and wrapping a cloak around me, I sallied forth into the dimly-lit corridor, which ran from one end of the auberge to the other. I was not long in as tate of suspense: before me, in a brocaded dressing gown, was my illustrious neighbour for the night, laying a light cane—which actually clung to the form it curled round -on the back of his unfortunate valet. At my appearance the 'grand seigneur' ended his operations with one tremendous kick, and retired into his apartment.
I could not refrain from going up to the miserable wretch who stood whining and shivering before me. • Be comforted,' said I, my good fellow, your master has used you most shamefully, and I have no doubt the law will give you redress for his brutality. “My master, sir,' said the valet, immediately drawing himself up with dignity, is far too great a man for the law to reach; and indeed for the matter of that, all the masters whom I have ever served, could get a lettre-de-cachet for the asking.' D-n the fellow, if he was not proud of his master's being able to beat him with impunity!” Just so—he was much more alive to the vanity of having for a master a gentleman, who could beat his servants with impunity, than he was to the disgrace of being one of the servants beaten. A successful prince then may always, in France, be a despotic one; but wo to the unfortunate prince who would imitate his example.
In England there is usually a sympathy with the sinking cause and after it has reached a certain mark there is almost sure to be an ebb in our displeasure. In France it is quite the reverse-the grand homme'-if you succeed :-you are a • scélérat,’a.coquin,' a' parjure,' every thing that is atrocious, if you are guilty of misfortune. It is not that the French are in private an ill-natured or an upgrateful people, but their vanity cannot endure being on the losing side, and they take all pains to convince themselves that they are called upon to quit it. The reign and career of Bonaparte was perhaps the strongest exemplification ever known of the force of a national passion. The French gazed upon bis bridges, his barbours, his canals, his triumphal arches, his temples, and every individual said, “What a great person I am, to have an emperor who has done all this.' Harassed, decimated, oppressed as the nation was,-faint and exhausted, it followed him on to the verge of his fortune, and left him at the first defeat; and now that the statue of their ancient idol is again put up, was it justice that put it up ? Ask those who are still in exile! Ask Lucien or Louis Bonaparte!—they could tell you that justice refuses a home to the citizen,' while vanity restores the monument of the hero.' We have wondered at the successes of the hundred days. If the marshal whose punishment remains a blot on our national escutcheon, had simply read in his defence that marvellous proclamation which made him an involuntary perjurer, not even the Chamber of Peers could have pronounced his condemnation. " Ceux que nous avons yus pendant vingtcinq ans parcourir toute l'Europe pour nous susciter des ennemis, qui ont passé leur vie à combattre contre nous dans les rangs des armées étrangères, en maudissant notre belle France , prétendraient-ils commander et enchaîner nos aigles ? souffrirons-nous qu'ils héritent du fruit de nos glorieux travaux? Soldats, dans mon exil j'ai entendu votre voix, je suis arrivé à travers tous les obstacles et tous les périls. Votre général, appelé au trône par le choix du peuple, et élevé sur vos pavois, vous est rendu : venez le joindre! Arrachez ces couleurs que la nation a proscrites, et qui pendant vingt-cinq ans servirent de ralliement à tous les ennemis de la France : arborez cette cocarde tricolore, vous la portiez dans vos grandes journées. Les vétérans des armées de Sambre et Meuse, du Rhin, d'Italie, d'Egypte et de l'Ouest sont humiliés, leurs honorables cicatrices sont flétries! Soldats, venez vous ranger sous les drapeaux de votre chef; la victoire marchera au pas de charge; l'aigle, avec les couleurs nationales, volera de clocher en clocher jusqu'aux tours de Notre-Dame.” * I know nothing in history so
* Frenchmen! shall they who for twenty-five years traversed Europe to find enemies against us--shall they who have passed their lives in foreign ranks, execrating our beautiful France—shall these men command and enchain our eagles ? Shall we suffer these men to inherit the fruit of our glorious labours ? Soldiers ! in my exile I heard your voice. I am here in spite of a thousand obstacles, and a thousand perils ! Your general, called to the throne by the
eloquent as this proclamation for the army and the people it was addressed to. Not an expression is omitted that could touch the nation in its most sensible part; for nobody knew
better than Napoleon that a great man must embody a "great passion : He presented himself to France as the vision of her vanity and her glory: we know how he was received.
But as a Frenchman will connect himself when he can with any thing greater than himself, so he will endeavour to make magnificent the meanest objects that he belongs to. In no country do ordinary things write themselves in such fine names as in France. Your miserable circulating library is a Salon littéraire; your blockless barber un artiste; your poor apothecary a pharmacien; your kitchen a laboratoire; your common copyist, “a man of letters.” Every class in France has an extraordinary respect for itself. J'ai l'honneur de vous présenter” mes respects,” says one scavenger; “ Et comment se porte madame?” replies the other. So the garçons of the café take off their hats to one another; the lowest of the working classés do the same.
This gives any body or order of men, once called into existence in France, such consistency and strength-bhis gives to all associations in France a force which it would be vain to calculate upon elsewhere-- this is what contributed to give the ancient magistracy, the old corporations, and the old nobility of France, the inmense power they possessed--this gives the literary institutions of France, and not only the literary institutions, but the men of France, such an immense power at the present day—and above all, this gives, as I have said, that spirit of combination and concentration to the French as a nation, which it is so important for a military people to possess. Applied to France then, French vanity is not ridiculous. Applied to the French
choice of the people, and educated under your banners, is restored to you. Come and join him! Tear down those colours, which the nation has proscribed, and which during twenty-five years served to rally all the enemies of France! Hoist that tri-coloured banner which you bore aloft on our great days! The veterans of the armies of the Sambre and Meuse, of the Rhine, of Italy, or Egypt, and of the west, are humiliated: their honourable wounds are disgraced. Soldiers, range yourselves under the banners of your chief. La victoire marchera au pas de charge : L'aigle avec les couleurs nationales volera de clocher en clocher jusqu'aux tours de Notre-Dame.
individually, it does, 1 confess, very frequently become so. Just see that old man with a bald head, one dark tooth, and a light limp from the gout! That old gentleman said to a lady of my acquaintance the other day, “I am very unhappy, madam; what is to be done in society I am sure I do not know! I am a man of honour. I see those young creatures,” (pointing out two or three of the prettiest women in the room,) “I see those young creatures, the tears in their eyes,--pierced to the heart by a gentle glance — I say to myself, si je me lance.... the mischief is done: but I retire; I can't help pitying those beautiful flowers which a soft indiscretion might for ever tarnish; I can't help feeling pity for them, madam; I am a man of honour; but wbat distresses me is to find that every body has not the same pity that I have.” The old gentleman spoke with perfect sincerity: by a kind of mutual sympathy for each other's weaknesses, both sexes in France cheerfully accord that old
age is no impediment to the tender passion : nor is it so indeed, if the aged lady or the aged gentleman have any thing beyond their personal charms to gratify the self-love of an admirer.
That the infamous Duc de Richelieu at seventy desolated a province with his intrigues is perfectly conceivable to any one, who has seen the cold and disgusting manner with which French women even now prostitute themselves to a reputation. Nor is this all: where no such inducement exists--on Sawney's simple maxim, “I'll scratch you if you scratch me," you will frequently find, billing and cooing in some retired corner of a salon, two sexagenarian lovers, who with all the skill of old practitioners, go through the forms of a courtship which it is not to be presumed they can carry further than the form:—might not one have fancied oneself in that island of Mr. Moore's,
“ Where lips till sixty shed no honey,
A good trait of French self confidence may be found in this anecdote :Sir S. Romilly and Gen. S. . . . were discussing some point of English law. Sir S. Romilly stated his conviction. "Pardonnez-moi,” said the French general, vous vous trompez étrangement, mon cher Romilly, je lo sais-car-j'ai lu Blackstone ce matin.