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opened to you with a much more cautious air--and I am quite sure it would not be opened to you wholly and solely because you had written.
To be known as a writer is certainly to your prejudice. First-people presume you are not what they call a “gentleman,” and the grandfather who, if you were a banker, or a butcher, or of any other calling or profession, would be left quiet in his tomb, is evoked against you. If this exhumation take place in vain, if a gentle genealogy be established, and the fact of
your being, in vulgar parlance, “a gentleman,” placed beyond denial, then your good blood is made the reservoir of all evil passions ; you are obligingly painted as the incarnation of envy, of malice, and all uncharitableness; your picture is drawn in some friendly magazine, twisted into contortions that would terrify all the witches of the Hebrides. You have got a horrid nose, red hair, and a heart blacker than all Valpy's, and Whittingham's, and Bentley's printing devils could paint it. At last your banker's book is looked into, and it is found out or presumed that you are poor, or if you are not poor, it is quite clear that you are penurious. You refused ten guineas to a dozen poorer authors than yourself, and did not give 1001., as you ought to have done, to the Literary Fund.
How many gentlemen have refused, and how many gentlemen would refuse their purse to a poetical impostor, without being pelted with every species of abuse, as Horace Walpole was on that story of Chatterton, and simply because Horace Walpole, though a gentleman, and a moderately rich man, was also, unfortunately for him, an author! How many people does one meet quite as be-mummified and twice as illnatured and disagreeable as poor Mr. R-s, and who yet are neither called dead men nor such very odious and disagreeable men, as everybody, chuckling, calls poor Mr. R-, because--he is an author ! A thousand husbands are as bad as Lord Byron ever was, and yet they are not cut, nor called diabolical, and satanic, as poor Lord Byron was cut and called all
this, because Lord Byron was an author. It is a most singular thing, but hardly is a man pointed out in England as having wielded a pen' with tolerable success, than everybody spits upon him every kind of
Some--many of the reasons for this difference between France and England—I have stated. They belong to history; they belong to the past; they belong to the fact, that a monarchy governed in France which sought to humble the aristocracy, while an aristocracy governed in England which sought to abase the Com
But there are three causes which more especially operate at the present time to maintain the distinction originated by former laws, and customs, and intentions.
First-The influence of women in France, and the higher cast of their thoughts and their pursuits. Secondly— The “esprit de corps,” which in France, as connected with the natural vanity of the French, I have already noticed. And lastly, the state of property in France-the state of property, which enters more than people imagine, into every relation of life, into every production of human intelligence, into every law passed for social happiness, and which, when we consider the present state of France, it is most especially our duty to keep before us.
The greater frivolity of English women, and consequently the greater frivolity of English society, necessarily create a kind of fear and horror among that body for a being who, having been guilty of writing, is supposed, oftentimes very fallaciously, to have been guilty of thinking, and who is therefore considered what a sober man would be by a set of drunken associates, viz.--a bore and a critic. The esteem which every man sets upon himself in England—so different from the vanity which makes every man in France connect himself, wherever he can, with all that is greater than himself, induces persons to view with jealousy instead of with pride, any man who, employing no more pens ink, and paper than he does, contrives to make a greater reputation.
His first saying is, “ that man cannot be cleverer than I am.” Then he says, " Why should he be more successful ?" Then he hates and abhors him because he is more successful; and then he very naturally abuses him because he abhors him. No men in France hang more together than literary men ; no men defend their order with more tenacity. M. Thiers, as “ ministre,” does not forget that he is “ homme de lettres.” No men in England pull one another so much to pieces. When Mr. Brougham, when Mr. Macaulay first appeared as politicians, all the papers, and all the newspaper writers, poured forth their ridicule and their abuse on these literary young men who presumed to make speeches. It was utterly impossible, shouted forth all these gentlemen,-employed themselves every day, by-the-by, in writing and deciding upon the politics of Europe, for any man who had also written, to have any notion of these politics. It was indignation, it was scorn, it was vituperation, that these two gentlemen excited, just among those very persons who in France would have been most proud and most happy to say: “ We are delighted at Mr. Brougham's or Mr. Macaulay's eloquence; it shows the advantages of a cultivated taste; the position which literary men might and ought to aspire to”-secretly whispering to themselves, “and we too are literary men.”
As for property and its division in France, that subject is one too vast for me here to do more than glance at. But it is easily seen that where fortunes are not of themselves sufficient to make great and important distinctions; where every person is more or less in the situation of the basket-maker and the nobleman among the savages, and chiefly dependant for what he receives on what he is able to do : it is easy to see, that where the pen easily procures an income, which not three thousand persons possess from land, the profession of writing must hold a different rank from that which it
occupies in a country where fortunes are sufficiently great to overbalance every other distinction.
There are many things to say in disparagement and in favour of this, which, as I said before, I should wish to say more amply and satisfactorily, if I have the opportunity, elsewhere--which I should wish to sayafter having more fully explained the various effects for good and evil which the great division of property in France has produced; effects which I shall presently attempt to trace in some matters which many would suppose they could hardly reach.
But I cannot conclude this chapter without observing, that even in France people do not seem sufficiently aware of the end to which the influence of intelligence and the insignificance of fortune must necessarily lead them. They do not seem sufficiently aware of the necessity of recognising, and more fully establishing that aristocracy--for aristocracy in every country there must be--that aristocracy which time and taste have already recognised ; an aristocracy which would be powerful because it is national ; which would be safe because it is peaceably created; and which when peaceably created and historically established in a nation, is the most rational, because the best calculated to combine change with conservation, and moderation with improvement.
Yet may we see a new Chamber of Peers taken from the category of the Academy and the Institût ;* yet may we see the concentration and the representation of the intelligence of the kingdom more fully recog. nised as the proper mediator between the throne, which its political science would teach it to preserve, and the people, whom its natural affections would
* The Institût, even at present, opens to the French a double am-, bition, and a double career. It is there that the national character is represented, and that the national distinctions blend and meet. M. Thiers seeks the title of academician with an ardour at least equal to that which has carried him so far in the Chamber of Deputies. The Duc de Raguse was as proud of the title of “ Membre de l'Institût,” as that of “Maréchal de France.” In that society the statesman is brought into honourable connection with the poet; the philosopher with the soldier. In that society the passionate man, the literary man, the active man, the studious man, are blended together; a praca tical energy is given to speculation, a nobility to ambition. The warrior, the orator, ennoble their conceptions by science; the his. torian, the professor, correct their theories by experience—the one learns to act with dignity, the other to think with truth.
provent it from betraying.
Literature-Society in a transitory state-Every epoch in civilization
bears its certain fruit-Afterward, that society wears out, or must be invigorated by a new soil-A new stratum for society produced in France a new era—The genius of this era first visible in the Army-Now in Literature-What I intend to do in speaking of French literature.
The three influences most popular in society, and most consulted with the character and the history of France, are then the influence of arms, the influence of women, and the influence of letters--and the government that is wise will not endeavour to destroy, but will endeavour so to mould and employ these influences as to invigorate and embellish the institutions -to improve and to elevate the social existence of the French. But there is another influence, an influence to which I have just been alluding—an influence of more modern growth, twining itself in with the history, incorporating itself with the character of the nation-an influence which, while other influences descend from the past, is now creating a future—an influence which, as I have just been speaking of the influence of literature, I will trace through the labours of literature itself.
“We are not, as it seems to many, in the epoch of any peculiar revolution, but in an era of general transformation. All society is on the change. What period will see this movement cease, God alone can say.”