« AnteriorContinuar »
the same to-day as yesterday; those graces, which are not so much in the objects themselves, as in the eye of the spectator, who has often found it difficult to discover them.'
Monf. Grosley seems to apprehend (and we heartily accord with him in his observation) that England is indebted for its prosperity and grandeur to its separation from the church of Rome.
• If, says he, de la Fontaine had seen England and Italy, he would doubtless have rectified the memoirs, which he has left us concerning the countries of Papefigue and Papimanie: Papefigue is called, says he;
L'isle & province, ou les gens autrefois
A Lucifer; c'est la maison des champs. “ The isle and province, the inhabitants of which formerly made mouths at his Holiness's picture: they are punished for it: nothing succeeds or prospers with them.-The island was then given to Lucifer as an estate ; his country-house stands upon it.
• By means of memoirs more authentic, Molza, who was at the fountain-head of information, has made the panegyric of excommunication. According to him, God, to hew his contempt of worldly things, gives them to the excommunicated. It in fact appears, that England has found, in the excommunication under which it lives, and the interdict which it has observed but too well, the source of that opulence, splendor, and power, to which it has attained by degrees, as well as of that liberty which is its most firm support.'
From among other, observ ons which this Traveller makes concerning the church of England, we may select the few fol. lowing:
After having spoken of Bishop Burnet, whom he appears greatly to dislike, he proceeds, “The church of England is, at present; very far from being actuated by those narrow principles which self-intereft dictated to Dr. Burnet. If we except a few Bithops, who sometimes, but to very little purpose, affect qualms of conscience, the Eng. lish clergy behave to the Diflenters with that nobie confidence, with which every rational body of men is inspired by acknowledged superiority: they would, however, be glad that all Protestant Diisenters would be satisfied to say their prayers in private ; they esteem some individuals among the Catholics ; but they have very little regard for the body in general.---The station of ministers in London, in the country-towns, and in the country itself, is, in proportion to their rank, very honourable. The Universities are the ordinary seminaries of clergymen. Youth, instructed in these places by public authority, imbibe no principles and prejudices but such as suit with the English government.--A college life, continued by those who intend for orders, generally gives them that self-sufficient, assuming, and almost insolent air, which, in some measure, gains úpon the the inferior clergy of France.--The Bishops, under the denominae tion of Spiritual Lords, have preserved the right of fitting in the upper house of parliament, where they are placed on the right side of the throne; but scarce is their opinion asked: they always vote with the court; whether it be that the lives which some of them have led at the universities, at schools, and in libraries, have made them but little acquainted with affairs of state and political discussions, or that they are apprehensive of risking the dignity of their characters, by entering into these debates, which are often carried on with great warmth. The English clergy are not in their own country either aliens or the Naves of a foreign power : the ties which bind them to their children, unite them at the same time to the state. Hence the clergy, as well as the Bishops, are always devoted to the prevailing party in the government: thus we find that in all the revolutions by which England has been agitated since the Reformation, the eltablished church has never taken the lead, but has quietly followed the impulse given by the directing power.—The English clergy are very tractable with regard to several articles in which all Christian communions are agreed ; if, when the liturgy was compiled, they had thought as they now do for the most part, it seems doubtful whether the Athanafian Creed would hold the place, which it has at present, in the body of that liturgy. With regard to the punishments of a future state, whilst, with Zuinglius, they limit their duration, they have nothing left but the fame purgatory which furdibed the first reformers with their principal topics of declamation against the church of Rome. Who ever went to the other world to fee? was the answer made by a grave divine, whom I questioned concerning the present state of that question.'
Our Traveller proceeds to offer various obfervations concerning the foundations in favour of the sciences, and other public establishments for the benefit of the nation, all of which he with great truth speaks of as honourable to this kingdom. He confiders our civil wars, and the changes which they introduced, as having been very beneficial to the culture and im. provement of arts and literature.
• Cromwell, he remarks, did not reign upon principles capable of forming a numerous or brilliant court. The nobility, condemned to occupations which could not give the vigilant eye of the Usurper any umbrage, had no resource but in philosophy and the cultivation of the intellectual faculties : such had been the resource of the first men of Rome, in the combustion of the civil wars of Sylla, Cæsar, and Auguftus. The English genius electrified, if I may be allowed the expression, by the shock of revolutions, attached itself to science and literature, and that with an ardour of application which foon produced matter-pieces in all the different species of compofition.'
In a comparative view of the measures taken in France and England for the promotion of learning, our Author makes the following observation :
• The condition of men of letters, either scattered up and down among the citizens, or enrolled in learned societies, has not the leaft resemblance in the two nations. The societies established in England on the principles of independency, acknowledge no laws but those under which they have laid themielves : in the eye of an Enge lifhman, the academies which Paris so much boaits, are, with respect
to men of learning, what coops are to birds, and ponds to fishes, The English consider our penfions and court gratifications of learned men in no other light but as the wages of dependency to those who receive them, and as shackles to the liberty of speaking and writing
--If we consider men of letters in the light of citizens : in France, fequeftered from society, and as it were, in exile, they pass their lives in a manner to all appearance usclefs both to the state and them. felves ; whilst in England they are scattered among the clergy, in the army, and the law; and, to the advantage of their country, dilcharge all the fanctions which it requires of those several profefions they support literature and science upon a ground, which would be ufurped by ignorance were they to forsake iti
The progress of the English, in the polite arts, has not, is the opinion of this Writer, been extraordinary.
· Among the travellers of that kingdom, says he (that is, among the greater part of the gentry and nobilit) there are numbers of connoisseurs who indulge this taite with all the impetuofity of their national genius. They have not, however, been as yet succeistul in forming artits capable of vying with those who fprung up so falt in Greece, Italy, and even in France, at the command of a Pericles; of the house of Medici, or of Colbert.'
In examining the pages which treat on the state of the arts, in this country, the Reader will no doubt discover, as upon other occasions, that truth is sometimes intermixed with mistake; the remarks are indeed too general and imperfect to lead to any fair and satisfactory conclufion. The English are said to have a kind of rambling taste, and, as the result of this Writer's investigation, (which could not be sufficiently accurate to allow him to determine fairly on the subject) to have no taste of their own.
• But, he adds, what nation in Europe ever had a taste of its own? The love of change and novelty throws our tastes into a fluctuation and uncertainty, and into those inconsistencies which torment a child in the midit of its play-things and babies. Each nation thus tormented, often ridiculous in the eyes of its neighbours, periodically fo even in its own eyes, is neither less happy nor content, nor less filled with an exclusive admiration for its own productions and fancies. The fixed and invariable talles are established
· Ultra Sauromatas; That is to say, in the most remote parts of Asia, in those countries, whose inhabitants, not so much through choice as indolence, dress, build, furnish their houses, fing, paint, and write in the same manner at present as they did 3000 years ago.'
Under the article eloquence, he represents our pulpit declamation, as a tedious monotony; that of the bar, as not fixed, being rather, he says, a long dialogue between the counsellors, than a continued discussion of the point of law, or matter of fact; but real eloquence he allows is displayed in the parliament. He speaks highly of our sovereign in this view, having heard him more than once deliver his speech in the House of Lords; it was then the English language was pronounced with all its graces,
it seemed to him to have a cadence and harmony quite new to his ear, and it appeared to him no less barmonious and agreeable in the mouth of Lord Mansfield: The Monarch, he adds, speaks to the soul, the Lord Chief Justice to the understanding.'
An account of the English laws, courts of justice, form of government, and other subjects immediately connected with these, constitutes a great part of the second volume of this work; intermixed with some sensible remarks and disquisitions, together with historical relations and amusing anecdotes : but these are commonly so interwoven with the topics directly under consideration that we could not properly offer many extracts from them, even if we had not already exceeded the limits to which the na. ture of our work usually confines us. Let us however give a brief view of what this traveller says under article, The King.
After having observed that the variety of passions constantly in play among the English, requires the utmost dexterity in the hand which undertakes to direct them, he adds,
• The advice which Phæbus gave his son, before he put the reins of his chariot into his hand, seems to be addressed to a prince who ascends the throne of England :
Parce, puer, flimulis ; fed fortiùs utere loris :
Sponte fuâ properant : labor eft inhibere volentes. ' In the present itate of things, proceeds our Author, whatever be the merit, however courteous the behaviour, of a King of England, he will find his people actuated by the sentiments which God observed in the Jewish nation: This people draweth near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.-If, note withstanding, any King ever deserved the love of his people, it is George III. he leads, at his rural feat near Richmond (a seat much inferior in magnificence and luftre to that of many noblemen) a life of the most regular fimplicity ; which he divides entirely between the Queen and his books. It is true he comes every week to hold a levee and a drawing-room at St. James's; but the court is by no means brilliant; he comes with the Queen in a very plain equipage, escorted by a few light horse. I have
already observed that coachmen and carmen, never stop at his approach, and that they take a pride in not bowing to him: “ Why should we bow to George? fay the insolent rabble: he lould bow to us : he lives at our expence.”—This is a gross misrepresentation. The roads are wide enough ; and every body gives way to the King and his attendants.
• At his court he is affability itself. All those he speaks to, he accosts in the most polite manner, and never opens his lips except to fay the most obliging things. His palace, which has no guard except at the gate, is open to every Englishman, as well as to every foreigner who is attracted thither by curiosity.
• The fame fimplicity accompanies the King when he repairs to parliament, to fhew himself in all the luftre of majesty: his hair, which is very thick, and of the finest light colour, tied behind with a ribband, and dressed by the hand of the Queen, is one of his most friking ornaments : he eats in public only when it is unavoidable, Riv. Sept. 1772.
and on these occasions he is served upon the knee, according to the cuftom of the house of Austria, adopted by Henry VIII. This prac. tice would have prevailed in France about the same period; but Lewis XII. and Francis l. that is to say, goodness and affability tbemfelves, then sat upon the throne : in the opinion of two princes of that character, the greatness of a King of France does not depend upon a vain ceremony.'
However acceptable to many English Readers the above passage may be, there are some who will certainly object to the former part of it. It is well known that the English are well disposed to love their King, and be strongly attached to him, whatever complaints they may fee reason to make concerning some measures of the administration. The honour of a Grand -Monarque, or a blind submission to arbitrary dictates, as if the inhabitants of a country were wholly formed to support the splendour and luxury of one man, is a principle which they justly abhor; but mild and reasonable methods will commonly secure their fidelity and affection : and it has indeed been remarked, that nothing is more likely than fuch means, artfully employed, to reduce them into a kind of lavish subjection. As to the merry, though coarse, expressions which some of the rabble might use, little more is'to be inferred from thence than a disposition to jocularity, which they will sometimes venture to indulge, in opposition to Mons. Grofley's account of the melancholy so constantly prevailing among every rank in this na. tion; a subject which he seems carefully to have kept in view throughout his work,
It is hardly worth while to take notice of the intimation he seems to intend in the latter part of the extract, concerning the fuperiority of the French to ceremonious customs, &c. or to recriminate by any obfervations upon what has been so repeatedly said of the oftentation, Aattery, and fervility, prevalent among that people. Nor need we wonder that this Gentleman, beside a general prepossession in favour of his own country, discovers a stronger attachment to royalty and despotism, chan we should think a mind improved by learning and philosophy could readily admit. He speaks with horror of the unhappy catastrophe of Charles I. and, at the same time, does not attend to those causes which serve greatly to extenuate, if they do not entirely justify, the procedure of those who found, or thought, themselves under the fatal necesity of bringing that unfortunate prince to the scaffold. And we observe that he mentions the are dour which Milton discovered in the cause of liberty under the depreciating terms of a blind zeal. At the same time he acknowledges that, for its Aourishing state, the preponderancy it has acquired in the balance of Europe, and its naval force in confequence of the Navigation Act, Great Britain is indebted to