Ir is now very nearly four years ago,―at that memorable time when the great Bourbon dynasty went once more into exile-that I first contemplated a work on France. Not altogether a work such as many which have appeared, skimming lightly over the surface of things, and pretending merely to be the result of a six weeks' residence at Paris-but a work which in describing the present, would connect it with the past-which in speaking of what is daily and accidental, would separate it from what ages have sanctioned, and distant ages are likely to see;-a work which in showing the effect which time, and laws, and accident produce upon the character of a people, would also show the manner in which the character of a people traverses time, enters into laws, dominates over accident. I thought such a work might be useful, in England: because it might at once teach us where we could or could not imitate our neighbours; and at the same time convince us that a wise imitation does not consist in copying the laws, or the customs

of another nation, but in adapting those laws and customs that we wish to imitate, to our own dispositions.

I thought such a work might be useful; I thought too such a work might be interesting; and that in order to make it useful and interesting, it would be necessary to make it amusing. The English writer of the present century is placed in many respects in the same situation as the French writer of the last. I do not say that he has the same instruction to give, but he has in the same manner to render instruction popular: and this I trust will be my excuse for having sometimes adopted a lighter tone, and introduced lighter matter into the following volumes than the gravity and importance of their subject might seem to require.

Thus, it is some time since I first conceived the project of this work-but I had not long proceeded to collect materials for my undertaking before I abandoned the pursuit. Carried along in the active rush of passing events-called upon to consider, and to take a humble part in, advancing a great revolution, far greater than many of its originators supposed-a revolution therefore before which it was wise to pause ere you began it— as it is wise to complete it now that it is commenced-a member of two reforming parliaments, and one reformed parliament-obliged to give eight or nine hours at the very least to daily at

tendance in the House of Commons-where the public affairs of the week, like the fabled islands of the Mediterranean, for ever flit before you, and for ever vanish at your approach-I soon resigned an idea which I had only imperfectly formed, or rather reserved it for some moment of golden leisure— such as we never cease to hope will one day arrive to us. In a visit, however, that I paid to Paris last year I recurred to a design so long meditated, and pursued with some diligence my former researches. As far as the materials with which those researches furnished me are concerned, I feel almost convinced that I obtained what in the hands of most writers must have imparted entertainment and information-but no one can be more sensible than I am, that I have not profited as I ought to have done by this advantage. The greater part of these pages was written during the heat and fever of a London existence;

* There was also, let me add, another difficulty thrown in my way by the late publication (" England and the English") of a near and dear relation, in whose literary success no one more deeply sympathizes than myself. For as the nature of our several works in some degree assimilated, so where I differed from him I might appear-to censure, and where I agreed with him-to imitate. This feeling damped at first my inclination to an enterprise, which afterwards his own kind wishes and my secret predilections induced me to hazard; with the hope, indeed, that I might steer through the obstacles I have referred to, as well as those even still greater, which I had also to encounter.

many of them, begun before the ordinary pursuits of the day were commenced; have been finished on returning home, after a late parliamentary division; and thus, independently of those faults, into which my inability would have involuntarily led me, there are others for which I am deeply sensible that I have to request the consideration of the reader, and the indulgence of the critic.

It is also true that I have not been able to comprize within the compass of two volumes all that I have written. I have here shown something of the character, something of the habits, something of the history-of the state of parties, of the predominant influences, and the literature of Francebut many great questions which relate to the government, and industry of the country-to the state of the daily press, to the state of property, (now only glanced at,)—much that must govern the foreign and domestic prospects of the French, I have been obliged to defer to the volumes by which those I am now publishing will be succeeded. Still, I venture to hope that the curious and good-natured reader will find even in the following pages sufficient to repay him.

I have endeavoured to paint France-France as France is not only France serious, but France gay. I have endeavoured to paint France in her studies, in her crimes, in her pleasures, whether the latter might be found in the guinguette and the ball-room, or the former might be tracked from the ball-room to the prison. In political as in do

mestic life, happiness depends as well on little things as on great things. And so saith the scripture most sublimely of the wisest of men 166 his heart was as the sands of the sea;" "one of the largest bodies," observes Bacon, "consisting of the smallest proportions."

In passing from one subject to another I have written with a feeling which I have long entertained, viz., that ideas are most naturally introduced into the minds of others, in the form and order in which they most naturally introduce themselves into our own minds;-in endeavouring to cut and to square, and to press and to clip, our thoughts into exact forms and proportions, we most frequently injure every part of a work, on the false idea of improving the whole, and make our book on the plan which presided over that royal palace, where all the pictures of Italy were systematically mutilated to the form and size of an apartment.

The plan I have adopted, then, is not without its method; but, however in some respects I might deem it desirable, I have not attempted to throw the colouring of one particular idea over the whole of my work, or to connect every effect that I have observed with one particular cause. Indeed I confess, for my own part, that when I pursue speculations of this kind, I advance on my way with considerable hesitation and doubt.

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