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Art. I.—Des Classes dangereuses de la Population dans les
Grandes Villes, et des Moyens de les rendre meilleures. Ouvrage récompensé en 1838, par l'Institut de France (Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques). Par H. A. Frégier, Chef de Bureau à la Préfecture de la Seine. Paris.
1840. 2 vols. 8vo., pp. 985. THE HE modern French press has sent forth few works more
interesting than this, or better calculated to do good service, not to France alone, but to the countries around her. To none does it offer more useful instruction than to England, similarly situated as she is in the progress of civilization and in many of the leading features of national character. Despite the difficulties and annoyances, nay the dangers, which surrounded the subject he had to investigate, M. Frégier appears to have made himself accurately master of it in many of its ramifications. To mere literary merit his volumes have little claim : occasionally we meet with passages extremely well expressed; but in general the style is somewhat complicated and redundant; and it is deformed by the perpetual introduction of 'termes de Palais,' in places where the subject in no degree requires their use. We should say, too, that the pages are tinged with some vulgarisms, were it not that, in the rapid strides which modern French is taking to emancipate itself from the shackles of the Dictionary of the Academy, and the way in which year by year, nay almost day by day, it is separating itself from the language of Pascal, Molière, and Massillon, we may very probably be mistaking elegancies for barbarisms. A more important fault is, that our author, carried away by his great anxiety to conquer all objections to his favourite system of solitary confinement, has been led to falsify all the proportions of his book, by devoting a very undue number of pages to this one branch of his subject.
We cannot but suspect also that M. Frégier's essay in 400 pages, which obtained the prize, may have been a more perfect treatise with reference to its proper nd specific theme than the present expanded work. Seventy-fours, cut asunder and lengthVOL. LXX. NO. CXXXIX.