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words which breathe the very devotion of the female heart, she seems to be all that she sings of -in Wordsworth's words, (for I am in a quoting humour,)
“A creature not too bright, or good,
For human nature's daily food." In short, no siren, or goddess, or supra-mundane creature, but a woman, ready to share sorrow as well as joy with him, whom she should bless with her love, to make his fire-side happy, and his home home indeed. I said that soul was the characteristic of Miss Tree's singing,-I should have said sense, as well as soul. She sings sensibly-a rare perfection. One never hears an important word slurred over, or a subordinate word dwelt upon with emphasis, merely because it suits the sound. Her singing is beautiful elocution. The tone of her yoice is delicious. There is a peculiar reediness in its low notes, (one is really obliged to coin words in describing such indescribable things,) which would enable my ear to distinguish it among a thousand others. But the most remarkable part of Miss Tree's singing is its perfect nature ; there is nothing professional about it. It seems as natural to her to sing as to speak. There is no distortion of face, no slightest effort perceivable; she has only to open her mouth, and, like the princess in the fairy tale, the flowers and precious gems of sweet song drop from her lips. I can imagine that the first syllables to which her infant lips were framed, were song. Her manners are perfectly simple, and distinguished by a sort of modest confidence, if I may use the expression. When she sings, she seems to think of nothing else, and not to bestow a thought on others, or what others will think of her. Poor girl! it makes me quite unhappy to hear that she has a consumptive tendency, and that her exertions for the support of her family have almost proved fatal to her health.
Now, Lady Mary, may I ask you, who comes next on
your list ?
LADY M. I have not time to tell you now. Positively it is five o'clock, and I have a dozen cards to leave before the dinner hour. As for you, I advise you to go home as fast as you can, and to write down the substance of our dialogue, before it escapes your memory. Perhaps we may talk on the subject at another opportunity. At present, good morning,
ED. BR. I have the honour to wish your lądyship good morning
REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH CHARACTER.
Addressed by a Foreigner to his Friend in Italy. MY DEAR GIULIO,
Since my return to this country, you have repeatedly invited me to impart to you my remarks upon the character and manners of the English. You are sufficiently acquainted, you say, with the outline, but wish to look a little farther into the expression of the moral countenance of this people. You have given me a delicate task to perform. With regard to this nation in particular, I think a foreigner may live half a century in England, and yet know very little about it. The character, manners, and feelings of the English are so closely connected with their institutions, their history, their local and traditional customs, that a man ought to be thoroughly acquainted with all these, before he can expect to decipher their moral qualities as a people. I think the English are more strongly moulded by their laws and institutions than any other nation with which I am acquainted ; and as this country has not undergone any of those violent and sweeping changes that have occursed in our time in the rest of Europe, the various impressions which the national character has successively received, for centuries past, are still perceptible, and their lines sometimes cross each other, so as to render some of the particular features confused and incongruous. This I believe to be the cause of many peculiarities and apparent contradictions in the English character, which renders them the most eccentric people in Europe. I shall endeavour hastily to sketch and comment upon some of these peculiarities as they occur to me, without any regular plan or
You recollect my early partiality for this nation, long before I became acquainted with it. To this day I cannot explain to myself this singularity of my character, upon any other principle than that of hidden sympathy, called forth, perhaps, by political predilections. This partiality, however, being opposed by my friends, and by the circumstances of the times, grew into a real passion, enthusiastic like all youthful feelings. An opportunity at last presented itself for visiting this land of my dreams. I shall not describe to you my feelings during the voyage. I arrived here ; I saw with my own eyes, and brought my ideas to the test of my senses ; was I disappointed, or did reality fulfil my expectations? In other cases of a similar nature, the chances would have been against me; as it was, I felt surprised and puzzled, delighted and grieved, at the same time. My first residence in England was short. Years elapsed-circumstances were altered-still I felt a wish to see this country once more; at last I unexpectedly returned to it. If I have no longer, for this country, the headlong affection of a lover, I feel still, after repeated trials, the calmer but more lasting attachment of a friend. The transition, however, has not been easy, or unaccompanied by struggles. I felt at particular times ready to abjure my former sentiments, to cast them off as the offspring of boyish fancy and inexperience ; I was disappointed,-sick at heart; but, thanks to my good genius, I discovered new merits by the side of those very failings which had destroyed my former illusions; my views became more extensive, and I felt, if not quite pleased, at least reconciled.
Foreigners are apt to accuse the English of coldness, selfishness, and pride. The first two charges I take to be false. The English have warm hearts, but little enthusiasm ; their passions and their imagination are early trained into subjection. In a country of industry and activity, where comparative wealth is indispensable to keep up the appearance and character of a gentleman, a young man soon learns that the unchecked indulgence of his fancies and passions will lead him into extravagance, waste of time, and subsequent distress. Opinion is here all-powerful, and very rigid in its judgments; the character of a person once lost, every avenue to wealth or honour is shut to him. An idle man is disliked as much as a coward. In the streets of London, and other large towns, every body looks thoughtful and stirring ; people run rather than walk. A man who happens to be unoccupied, and loitering about, is soon remarked, and stared at; he finds himself ill at ease ; the busy crowd jostle him to the right or left; he is elbowed without ceremony; and he must, at last, effect his re, treat. In Italy or France, a young man with a very small income may spend his time in doing nothing, and yet frequent good society and live agreeably. Thousands of young men of good families in your Italian cities live in utter idleness; and if they have but a civil address, tolerable looks, and no patches on their coats, they are liked, well received, and nobody finds fault with their mode of existence. But such a life cannot be led in England, except by a man of independent fortune, and of these there are some as idle as any of your Italian Contini and Marchesini ; but, generally speaking, the number even of privileged idlers is infinitely smaller than abroad.
Every thing beyond the mere absolute necessaries of life, is, in this country, enormously dear ; and in addition to this, the established habits of comfort and luxury lay you under many obligations which are unknown abroad. Lodgings, furniture, dress, are three or four times more expensive than with you ; and without a proper attention to these, a man cannot expect to keep up his rank in society. Amusements, such as theatres, concerts, balls, excursions, 8c., are dear in proportion. An income of a thousand pounds a-year, upon which I have known an Italian family live in a palace, and keep their carriage and livery servants, is here no more than sufficient for the comfortable though modest support of a genteel family of the middling class.
From all I have stated, it follows naturally that an Englishman must look forward to the possession of wealth as a great object of life, and restrain every propensity that might put an obstacle to its attainment. He acquires, therefore, habits of calculation, which give him that reserved and cold appearance that distinguishes him from the natives of other countries. But, as the character of man is never shaped by one single cause, other reasons contribute also to produce one common effect. The notions of decorum and propriety are very strict in England. Appearances of either bodily or mental uncleanliness are carefully shunned ; the language is extremely guarded; even looks are subject to a sober discipline. In this the English ladies exert a most powerful, and, I think, a most beneficial influence. Theirs is not a prudish affectation, but a proper sense of the respect which is due to them. I have had several discussions on this subject with people here, and, although I know that virtue is often found in other countries, allied to considerable relaxation in manners, language, and appearance ; yet I firmly believe that a strict attention to decency, even in trifles, is its most complete safeguard. This is more particularly true of this country, where a person who disregards public opinion soon loses the esteem of others, and consequently self-respect; the other steps to degradation are then very smooth and slippery. So far I have accounted to you, and I hope satisfactorily, for the supposed coldness and selfishness of which you have so often heard the English accused. I will now proceed to the third charge.
The trait of the English character which is least agreeable to foreigners, is that which Zimmermann has called national pride, but which I would rather define as national vanity ; for I think the English are individually proud, but nationally vain. That eternal repetition of encomiums, many of them deserved, on their own country and institutions,—that scarce disguised contempt of foreigners in a mass, the absurd, and often indecent, manner in which the newspapers talk about foreign nations and states, wounding all our feelings of self-love and
Vol. I. Part II.
respect, treating us all as so many herds of slaves and beggars ; all these, and similar notions, which are manifested daily and in a thousand ways, become at times really disgusting.
A man does not like to be continually reminded of his inferi. he likes to do it spontaneously, and not to be forced into it.
ority; although he may feel willing to bow to superior merit, of enemies on the continent. It is a lamentable instance of
It is this weak side of the English that has created them hosts the system of moral compensation that this nation, so truly tact and liberality. I know that this prejudice is, in some estimable and great, should, in this particular, be deficient in degree, akin to a sentiment of patriotism, which has enabled this country to perform wonders; I know that the failing itself is not allied to any malignant feeling, and I willingly overlook it; but I can easily understand how, in other breasts, it has created sentiments of dislike, and even hatred. This affords, perhaps, an explanation of a singular phenomenon, which has often struck me both here and abroad, viz., the little attachment and gratitude that many foreigners feel for this country, even after they have been benefited by it. L'Angleterre n'a fait que des ingrats, is a saying that I have often heard repeated; and the truth of which I have been obliged to acknowledge with grief. Man cannot brook contempt; he could sometimes endure more easily the wounds inflicted on his own personal self-love, than tamely submit to hear the country of his birth under-rated and abused. As I have already observed, this disposition of the English to look down upon foreign nations is more national than personal, the very people who indulge most in it will show kindness to the individual stranger; but it sometimes happens that their kindness falls upon an ulcerated heart, and its milk turns to gall. There are, it is true, many Englishmen, who, by means of a liberal education, and by the experience acquired in their travels, have risen above this excessive national prejudice; yet, generally speaking, I am afraid that contempt for the rest of the world is but too much an habitual sentiment of this people. I have observed, and examined, and doubted; and yet I must come to this painful conclusion. You will ask me, how this sentiment is manifested ? In different ways according to the difference of education and disposition. The lower classes show it often coarsely, and without disguise; the lower ranks of the middling class by their manner and looks; travellers and other writers by their journals and dissertations; and in persons of good breeding it often peeps out from under a veil of constrained politeness, very different from the manner in which they address one of their own countrymen.
An Englishman may be obviously vain of belonging to this