« AnteriorContinuar »
coercive kind: but we apprehend no country has been more attentive to provide for the fecurity of life and property than our own the laws may fometimes be negligently executed; and all just laws will allow of felf-defence: but to fay, as in the above account, that the ftriker would have had no reafon to fear a profecution had the man been killed, is a mittake, which a little obfervation of what paffes among us will fufficiently expofe *.
However defective our police may be, this Author, himself, foon afterward obferves, that London is the only great city in Europe where neither murders nor affaffinations happen :-deftitute, he adds, of troops, guards, and a patrole of any fort, peopled by unarmed men (for few wear fwords except phyficians, and officers when they are in their regimentals) reduced in the night to the fuperintendancy of old men without arms, it is guarded only by the divine commandment, non occides, thou shalt not kill, and by laws enacted against murder, fevere and rigidly observed, without diftinction of rank or perfons, whether it be that the law has had fome influence upon the character of the people, or that the national character facilitates the observance of the law.'
We will here infert another paffage connected with the above account, which is very and we hope justly favourable to the English.
Even in the most violent disturbances, fays our Author, when I was in the midst of the mob, I have feen them threaten weakly, plunder fome houfes obnoxious to them, throw a few stones, and, though furrounded by troops, remain in a kind of awe, as well as the foldiers, through mutual fear of the effufion of blood.
In a word, the people of London, though haughty and ungovernable, are in themfelves good-natured and humane: this holds even amongit thofe of the lowest rank. This appears from the great care which they take to prevent the frays almost unavoidable, amidst the eternal paffing and repaffing of carriages in the most frequented ftreets, fome of which are exceeding narrow. If, notwithstanding the great care of the coachmen and carmen to avoid them, there arifes fome confufion and perplexity, their readiness to turn afide, to retire, to open, to lend each other a hand, if there be occafion, prevents this confufion from degenerating into one of those bloody frays which fo often happen at Paris. Let us even add, to the honour of English coachmen, that I have feen four hundred coaches together at Ranelagh, which placed themfelves in a file, paffed each other, and were always ready at the firit word, without either guards or directors to keep them to order.
At public festivals, and all ceremonies which attract a crowd, let it be ever fo great, children, and perfons low in flature, are feen to meet with tender treatment; all are eager to make room for
Poffibly the Author only meant to fay that the gentleman would have had nothing to fear from a profecution, had the man died of the blow; if fo, we have only his tranflator to blame; but we have not Mr. Grofley's original at hand to confuit,
them, and even to lift them up in their arms, that they may have an opportunity of fecing. The paffages and doors of the place where the feftival is celebrated are guarded by perfons, who have no guns, partifans, or halberts for their arms, but long hollow ftaves, which, when they make ufe of them, a cafe that happens very rarely, make a great noife, and do but little hurt.'
But after honeftly paying this tribute to English humanity, he elsewhere enlarges upon the rudeness and incivility in the behaviour of the lower people towards foreigners, especially to the French, from which, he fays, even the better fort of Londoners are not exempt. The porters, failors, chairmen, and the day-labourers who work in the streets, he defcribes to be as infolent a rabble as can be met with in countries without law or police. He relates feveral occurrences of this kind, and obferves that the English themselves are not fecure from the infolence of the London mob. We wish we could entirely defend the lower claffes of our countrymen from the charge, which is here, and has been frequently on other occafions, brought against them. However, we muft fay in their behalf, that, though rough, they are commonly honeft in their intentions; and while they defpife what is cringing and fervile, we generally find them difpofed to do a good-natured action, even when first appearances are very unpromifing. Some there are, no doubt, among our common people, both in town and country, of an infenfible and brutal difpofition, in whofe defence nothing can be offered; but it would be unjuft, from a few fuch inftances, to characterize the whole. The London rabble may fometimes divert themselves very improperly in remarking upon perfons or things, while they intend nothing that is really injurious to any one. We often fee foreigners walking in our streets without receiving the leaft incivility, and even without attracting any particular notice, notwithstanding any peculiar fashion of their drefs: yet we think it not unlikely that ftrangers, unacquainted with our language and manners, may have imagined themselves the fubjects of ridicule and diverfion to fome of our English mobility, who, nevertheless, have intended nothing of the kind; and poffibly by fome improper tokens of refentment fuch foreigners may have expofed themfelves to the very infults they wished to avoid. When M. de la Condamine traverfed the streets of London with a great tin tube at his ear, and an unfolded map of the city in his hand, paufing at every turning, and gazing at every new object, it is not very wonderful if curiofity and impertinence should draw fome idle people about him (which might, perhaps, as naturally be the cafe at Paris, or any other city): but as the fight became more familiar, he walked about, Mr. Grosley confeffes, without any interruption.
But however offended Monf. Grofley might be, by the beha viour of the very loweft of the people, he freely acknowledges the different and more pleafing manners which he obferved among thofe of fuperior rank. The politeness, the civility, and the officioufnefs, he fays, of people of good breeding, whom we meet in the ftreets, as well as the obliging readiness of the citizens and fhopkeepers, even of the inferior fort, fufficiently indemnify and confole us for the infolence of the mob, as I have often experienced.' He relates many agreeable inftances of this kind which occurred to him during his ftay in London: among other things he obferves, that at any public places those who did not understand his language were eager to look for fomebody that did. And here he gives us a proof how cafily ftrangers in any country might mistake for incivility or rudeness what is indeed a teftimony of refpect: It muft, fays he, be obferved, that this obliging behaviour is not accompanied with all thofe external demonftrations of civility, which are cuftomary upon fuch occafions in France. If an Englishman, who did not understand me, went in queft of an interpreter, he rofe, and quitted me with an air, which feemed rather to be that of a whimfical humourift, than of a gentleman going to do a polite action: and I faw no more of him.' In another place he remarks that, many particulars connected with the English manners and cuftoms might be mistaken for the effects of rudeness and animofity though they are quite foreign to it, however obfervers may be impofed upon by firft appearances. • Of this nature, he adds, was the abrupt manner in which people rofe and quitted me, to feek for a person that fpoke French: this was the heighth of politeness; but before I became ufed to it, I confidered it only as an inftance of furlinefs and ill-humour, arifing from the antipathy between the two nations.'
Mr. Grolley does not appear to have greatly relished the provifions for the table in England. The bread he acknowledges is very good, and very fine. He had heard much of the excellence of the meat in England; but after having used it, he fays, in all the different fhapes in which it is ferved up to tables, he could find in it neither the confiftence, the juice, nor the exquifitenefs of that of France. Our fowls, we are told, are foft and flabby; the veal has all the imperfections of flesh not compleatly formed; the mutton has nothing to recommend it but its fat, which is fo much the more difgufting, as the butchers do not take off the tallow*; and the beef is a lefs compact flesh, and more eafily divided than that of
This is a mistake. The butchers never refufe to take off the tallow, and fuperfluous fat, when required.
France, and of confequence more easily chewed and digested; and it is only by that circumftance, and its exceffive fatnefs, he adds, that it could deceive thofe Frenchmen who prefer it to that of their own country. He was foon reconciled, it is faid, to the use of milk, beer, and tea, but could never accuftom himself to the wine of London. Our garden-stuff, he thinks, not much better than other commodities: All that grow about London being impregnated with the fmoke of feacoal, which fills the atmosphere of that town, have a very difagreeable taste.—I ate nothing good of this fort, he fays; in London, but fome afparagus, which doubtless grew at a good distance from the capital. It is farther to be remarked, that the conftant mild nefs of the climate of England fuperfedes moft of those precautions which the French gardeners are obliged to obferve. They fow almost every thing in unprepared ground, more or less covered with rich mould. I faw no hot-beds, except at the country-feats of gentlemen, whofe gardens are kept in the most elegant manner.'
The English reader will make allowance for the different tafte as to food and vegetables which prevails in different climates and countries, but he will find it difficult to acquit this Writer of prejudice in the above account as well as others, and will certainly charge him with a great miftake in his intimation that there are no hot-beds ufed in England, except in gentlemen's gardens: a mistake like that which led him to aver that English paviours make but little ufe of the rammer; that the ftatue of Queen Anne, in St. Paul's church-yard represents her in a hoop petticoat; and that Mr. Pope has no monument in Weftminster-abbey because he was a Papift.
We may not improperly infert here, as a farther specimen of his too hafty conclufions concerning the temper and manners of the inhabitants of this country, the following paragraph:
Every Englishman almoft, whether artifan, merchant, or farmer, that has raised a fortune by his induitry, or lives upon his paternal eftate, takes a pride in dying rich, in having a pompous
If Monf. G did not know that the afparagus grew at a confiderable distance from the metropolis, the word doubtless is here but of very doubtful import; fince the London markets are fupplied with great quantities of that vegetable from the fame neighbouring grounds which produce the other kinds of fmoaky garden stuff, of which our Author fo much complains. We imagine that Monf. Grofley's palate may be rather nicer than ordinary, as we have never obferved that his countrymen, or other foreigners, are apt to lofe their appetites on their coming to England; but, on the contrary, that they can make a tolerable shift to dine among us, notwithstand ing our fowls are fo flabby, our mutton is fo fat, and our vegetables. have fo difagreeable a tafte.'
funeral, and in making a will, which, by the extraordinary manner of bequeathing his fortune, may fpread far and wide, in the public papers, the fame of his opulence this is their way of enjoying it. During my ftay in England, the whole kingdom rung with the report of a legacy of a very confiderable amount, left to Mr. Pitt, by a country gentleman, Sir Robert Pinfent, who, though no way related to that minifter, gave this mark of regard for his political
How ridiculous is this! To infer that, becaufe Sir Robert Pinfent's legacy to Mr. Pitt, which was attended with feveral remarkable circumftances, was much talked of in England, it is the general turn of its inhabitants to bequeath their fortunes if they have any, in fuch a manner as may spread far and wide, the fame of their opulence!
Monf. Grofley employs fome pages in accounting for the prejudice which he conceives the English generally entertain, to the difadvantage of the French. Some vifionary people, fays he, maintain, that this antipathy runs in the blood of the English Littora littoribus contraria, fluctibus undas; but it is eafy to difcover other causes of it, which, though they do not juftify, render it, in fome meafure, fupportable to the French.' The principal caufes which this Author affigns are, the obftinate wars which have been maintained between the two nations, religious difputes, together with the perfecutions to which they have given rife, and the refuge which French bankrupts, criminals, and contumacious perfons flying from punishment in their native country, have found in England: befide which he imagines that a crowd of French fharpers and adventurers have helped to compleat the difguft; the English having, from fuch fpecimens, been difpofed to form their judgment of the nation in general: to these reafons he adds two others; viz. the ridicule of the French which our dramatic authors fometimes infert in their performances, and the several public monuments intended to perpetuate the memory of our victories over that people. The ancients, fays this Writer, notwithftanding all their pride and haughtiness, thought and acted very differently in this refpect: fuch was their regard to humanity, that the trophies of their victories were only tranfient monuments; it was not till the civil wars that they used marble and, brafs in them. England abounds with monuments of the latter fort.' Monf. Grofley feems to complain of the English in this respect; but it is to be confidered that thefe monuments are erected, not fo much to difgrace his nation, as with a view to honour our own it is natural for all countries to establish some memorials of great and important events, and to raise trophies in honour of commanders who have fignalized themfelves in particular engagements and expeditions. Our Traveller fays