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duction exclaimed_“Eh bien ! Monsieur, vous conviendrez qu'il n'y a rien de si magnifique à Londres.” Now, as I saw that this unexpected acquaintance meant to compliment his own sagacity by his instant discovery that I was an Englishman, and his nationality by vaunting the superiority of his building, I retorted in the usual way; that is to say, by exhibiting the same feeling in myself which I condemned in him: so I replied, with something like a sneer—“ O yes, it must be confessed that Paris has a fine Exchange and no trade: we have nothing at London but the wealth and the commerce.” So far from being hurt at this division, my colloquist received it as a compliment, made me a smiling bow, and exclaimed complacently,
Oui, c'est ça !” and, as I really felt somewhat ashamed of my speech, I determined to listen to him patiently in the future remarks with which he threatened to favour me.“ It is not altogether Corinthian, , nor yet Ionic,” continued he, looking up at the capitals of the pillars; and then, with a conclusive nod of his head, he pronounced—“ in fact, it is in the very best French style.” This reminded me of the worthy Friar who, being asked, after having vaunted the architecture of his monastery, in what order it was built, replied—“ In the order of St. Dominic:"" but I seemed to assent to the position of my informant, who proceeded to declare that the ancient statuary and painting assembled in the Louvre in the time of the Emperor was the finest collection that the world had ever witnessed, and did more honour than all his victories to the name of that
- (here he
looked round, and observing that no one was near, concluded)
to the name of that truly great man. “ And yet," I observed, “ though you retained all these masterpieces of art for so many years, not the smallest traces of their influence are perceptible in the modern French school either of sculpture or painting.”
“ That may very well be; for, though they were invaluable as specimens of what antiquity could do, you will certainly admit” (this is the invariable phrase of a Frenchman when he is making a monstrous assertion) “ that we already possessed, among our own artists, modern works of an infinitely superior standard :” and then he twanged through his nose a long list of the illustrious obscure among his
compatriots; recapitulated a catalogue of sprawling, theatrical, operatical figures, which, in his estimation, eclipsed the Venus, Apollo, and Laocoon; and triumphantly referred to David's pictures in the Luxembourg, as the ne plus ultra of the art. O! said I to myself, if this man is to be taken as a sample of his nation, I see clearly enough why their spirit has never been imbued with one single emanation from the fountains of ancient light: enveloped in a cloud of national vanity through which nothing can penetrate, they talk perpetually of the fine age of Louis the Fourteenth; and though their whole literature and art be but a succession of imitations from the models of that period, each balder and more vapid than the last, they imagine that they are advancing upon all the world, when in fact they are even receding from
themselves. Instead of crossing and invigorating the race by an admission from any classical or foreign stock, they have been breeding in and in, as the farmers say, and the consequences are the same in the world of Art as in that of Nature,-exhaustion, deterioration, and decay.
Mistaking my silence for acquiescence, my loquacious friend continued, with a nod of still greater satisfaction—" In fact, you must admit that all the recent discoveries, whether useful or ornamental, all that contributes to the instruction, health, comfort, or civilization of mankind, has originated in France." This was somewhat too swingeing a mouthful to be gulped down.
“We, too,” said I, “may claim some little merit of this sort in the last few years; and though I cannot, thus suddenly, recollect a tithe of the benefits we have conferred upon the world, I do remember that, during a war of unexampled extent and severity, we translated the Scriptures, at an immense expense, into almost all the languages of the earth, distributing annually many millions of copies (some thousands of which were bestowed
France herself), as the most effectual means of promoting human happiness and civilization." Hereupon my auditor arched up his eye-brows until his forehead became thickly engraved with consecutive wrinkles, raised the corners of his nose in bitter scorn, gave a loud tap upon his snuff-box, and delivered himself of a most contemptuous “ Bah!”
Perhaps I should have previously mentioned," continued I, “ that by the system of our countrymen
Bell and Lancaster, for the explanation and adoption of which we dispersed emissaries throughout Europe, the blessings of education have been almost universally diffused ; and we may flatter ourselves to have done more, by this single discovery, towards the amelioration of human destiny, than has been hitherto achieved by all the philanthropists that ever existed.”
“Ah, oui, sans doute !-C'est l'enseignement mutuel; mais nous autres, nous avons cela aussi ; vous en verrez des écoles partout.”
“Very likely, but you borrowed them all from us. Then, without minutely adverting to our innumerable discoveries and improvements in mechanics, particularly in the steam-engine, by which the painful employment of human and animal muscles, as a means of power, promises to be almost superseded, and by whose superior economy the comforts and even luxuries of life are placed within the reach and enjoyment of the humblest classes, I would submit that the highest combinations of science were never blended with more practical and beneficial results, than by Sir Humphrey Davy in the invention of the safety-lamp." " A la bonne heure ! Parbleu!” exclaimed
my panion ; “if we had had as many mines and as much bad air as you, we should have invented this long
“ Having noticed,” said I, one or two of the benefits we have conferred upon European society, let me not omit to mention, that whatever may have been the motives for extending our empire in Asia, its result has brought sixty millions of natives under a mild and
equitable system of government, that forms a striking contrast to the barbarous and ferocious dynasties of its predecessors, and is rapidly advancing the civilization of its subjects :—while in Africa we have, as far as our power extended, blessed, pacified, and humanized the whole country by the suppression of the slavetrade-a voluntary sacrifice which can only be duly appreciated by recollecting that we were the greatest Colonial power in the world. Nay, we even purchased or negotiated its abolition by other Governments; though I have understood, Sir, that your countrymen have not yet entirely relinquished the traffic."
“ The Emperor, on his return from Elba, pledged himself to its suppression ; but as to these" -here my companion again looked suspiciously round, and observing a marchand de coco at a little distance, he shrugged up his shoulders, gave me a significant look, and took a pinch of snuff.
“It may be doubted,” I resumed, “ whether we have done more for the minds or bodies, for the intellectual or physical health of our contemporaries ; for, while we have been widely diffusing moral improvement, we have, by the introduction of vaccination, laid a basis for speedily extirpating the greatest foe to beauty and life with which humanity was ever afflicted. This discovery, too, with an indefatigable philanthropy, we gratuitously disseminated through the world, without distinction of friend or foe; and the striking diminution of mortality among children, wherever it has been practised, is the best proof of its importance."