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will, I believe, be prompt to acknowledge their superiority to all other European writers, and especially to our own, in the art, or the power, of perspicuity. Compare, for example, the language of Montaigne, of Pascal, of Bossuet, or of Montesquieu, with the style of Hooker, or Milton, or Jeremy Taylor, or Clarendon. How limpid the flow, how clear and logical the sequences, of the French,-how involved, inverted, parenthetical, and obscure, the stately march of the English composition. In the Ecclesiastical Polity, in the Areopagitica, in the Liberty of Prophesying, or in the History of the Rebellion, how few are the periods which fully convey their meaning, until they have been broken up by the student into their elementary sentences. In the Essays of Montaigne, or in the Provincial Letters, or in the Histoire des Variations, or in the Esprit des Lois, how laboriously must the reader search for so much as a single example of involution, inversion, or parenthesis? I express no opinion on the comparative excellence either of the two schools or of their respective canons of criticism. I confine myself to the remark, that, in this competition of the giants, the palm of habitually expressing the most profound thoughts in the most simple and intelligible forms of speech, must be awarded, not to England, but to France.

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And such as are the giants in either host, such also, in their measure, are the innumerable dwarfs in each. In later times, indeed, the common herd of writers in both nations have affected a sort of chiaroscuro; the convenient shelter for meagreness of thought and poverty of invention. For this degeneracy we however are, I fear, far more deeply responsible than our neighbours. Darkened as the literary language of France has so often been by the fumes of undigested metaphysics, there is no author, and scarcely any reader there, who would not stand aghast at the introduction into his native tongue of that inorganic language which even Samuel Taylor Coleridge himself tumbled out in some of his more elaborate speculations, and with which the imitators of that great man are at this day distorting and Germanising the speech of our progenitors.

'Now, as we are to infer from the style peculiar to France some of the distinguishing characteristics of the national mind, what are those distinctive qualities of the French people which have prescribed clearness and precision as the first and fundamental law of all good or tolerable composition among them? I answer, first, that, in that law, we have a proof of the genial, sympathetic, and communicative spirit which is their inalienable birthright. The cloud-compelling Jupiter shrouded himself in darkness, because he dwelt in an abstracted and silent solitude. But the god of day rejoiced in the light, because he was also the god of eloquence. Even so a German will so often write obscurely, because his pleasure is in secluded rumination. A Frenchman always writes clearly, because his happiness is in social and intellectual intercourse. The first calls up shadowy dreams not less with his pen than with his pipe. The other is engaged in the commerce of thought in his study, not less than in the salon. And hence the

immeasurable superiority of the French to all other nations in social literature. What can be compared with the ease, the grace, the fascinating flow of their familiar letters? except, perhaps, their historical memoirs, which are, indeed, but another kind of familiar letters, addressed to society at large, by actors in the scene of public life, who have gladly escaped from its caution and reserve to enjoy the freedom of colloquial intercourse.'-pp. 211-213.

There is, however, something more to be included, if this comparison is to make an approach towards completeness:

'But such advantages are purchased at a price. The propensity and the power thus to render literature subservient to the embellishment of life, are continually tending to a fatal abuse. Recall the long series of men of genius, from Rabelais to Voltaire, who, becoming the victims of their own arts of fascination, have so often debased history, philosophy, and religion itself, to a frivolous pastime; the idle resource of the habitually idle. Remember how Bayle postpones everything else to the amusement of his readers; how Montesquieu strews the Esprit des Lois with epigrams; and how even the illustrious Pascal illuminates the most awful of all discussions with the charms of his inimitable irony. Conjecture (for it is hopeless to measure) the dimensions of those pyramids of contes, novels, romances, fictitious memoirs, comedies, and vaudevilles, which the pens of French men and women have piled up with such a prodigality of labour and of talent; and then confess that, if the passion to captivate, and to be captivated, has rendered the style of France pellucid, it has also contributed not a little to render much of her literature frivolous.'—p. 213.

Sir James greatly admires-as every man of intelligence must -the exquisite perspicuity of the French written language, and regards it as indicating the predominance of the reasoning faculty in the French mind. No one acquainted with the best writers in France on metaphysical subjects can have been insensible to the delicacy and skill with which they express their ideas, and give you the finest shade of their meaning. We are disposed to suspect, however, that their logic is much more acute than comprehensive-much more refined within certain limits, than safe as a whole. Our own Locke is singularly wanting in that ready and adroit structure of sentences, and use of terms, in which the French are such proficients. But let any man become master of the Essay on the Human Understanding,' and then read Cousin's course of lectures upon it, and we should marvel much if he does not admit that the Englishman, if not the more brilliant guide of the two, is greatly the more safe. He may be less clever at points, but he has more real perspicacity. If he does less to startle and astonish, he does less also to throw you off your guard, and to mislead. We are aware that statements to this effect are



not likely to find favour at Cambridge, where even such men as Whewell and Sedgwick have dishonoured themselves by speaking contemptuously of our great Englishman. That these gentlemen have so done without having taken the pains really to understand the author whom they have so grossly misrepresented, is a point about which we have no sort of doubt. But this by the way. Even Sir James Stephen, with all his admiration of the logic-loving power of the French, does not conceal his impression that it is a power to which we should not surrender ourselves without a good deal of caution and forethought. Somehow or other, it is found to be marvellously apt at leading people into mischief.

'But this logical structure of the understanding of our neighbours, while at once generating their characteristic perspicuity of style, and attested by it, has also given birth to that remorseless Ergoisme (no language but their own could have found place for such a word), by which they are no less distinguished. The helpless slaves of syllogism, they advance with unflinching intrepidity to any consequence, however startling, which seems to them legitimately to emerge from whatever they regard as well-established premises; while they reject, with equal hardihood, any doctrine, however invaluable, which cannot be so demonstrated. They are rationalists in the correct sense of that much misused expression; that is, they are more than sceptical of all conclusions which unaided reason cannot reach, even though they may be reached by the aid of those guides, of which reason herself has taught the need, and the authority. They condemn, as unmeaning or superstitious, every opinion which cannot be enounced in terms perfectly unambiguous, even when such opinions are conversant with topics beyond the range of human observation and of man's experience. He who would estimate the extent to which such Pyrrhonism infects and degrades much of the literature of France, must pass a large part of his life in reading books, the knowledge of which a good man would regret, and a wise and humble man avoid.'-p. 215.

We submit, there must be something radically defective in a logic that does not better know where to stop. It may, as we have said, be acute, but it must be lacking in comprehensiveness. A duly comprehensive logic not only assists you to move, it gives you the requisite caution when you should proceed no further. One of the latest acquisitions of the wise is to know that.

Even in respect to clearness and freedom of style, the distance between the French and ourselves has been constantly diminishing since the Restoration, and especially since the days of Dryden and Goldsmith. It may be that talent of this kind should be admitted, even now, to be more natural, upon the

average, to the Frenchman than to the Englishman. But what we have not so commonly by nature, we are daily realizing upon a large scale by study and practice; and as we say of our logic, so we may perhaps say of our style-that what it wants in point and vivacity, it more than compensates in substance, and in the sort of power that produces and sustains conviction.

Sir James is fond of placing his great characteristic spirits in triads. First we have Gerbert, Abélard, and St. Bernard; next we have Joinville, Froissart, and De Comines; and next comes the same number, more strangely assorted-viz., Rabelais, Calvin, and Montaigne. The delineation of all these masterspirits is achieved with great truthfulness and power. We scarcely need say, that Rabelais, Calvin, and Montaigne cannot be any one of them accepted as an expression of the spirit of the French people taken as a whole. The plants in this case are so widely different in their nature, that the atmosphere in which they alike found sustenance must have been widely different. Had Montaigne been the contrast of his times to the degree alleged by our author, the times would have given little heed to his utterances, and the proofs of his genius would probably never have reached us. He was antagonist to some of its developments-in harmony with others. In the France of that day the jovial sensuousness of Rabelais, the devout logic of Calvin, and the easy scepticism of Montaigne, found a fitting auditory. Religion, whether as proceeding from Rome or Geneva, had come to breathe the spirit, and take the form, of a stern dogmatism; and in the rising scepticism-of which Montaigne was the representative-we see the natural revolt against that tendency. Rabelais saw the weaknesses of both these parties, but added to this weakness a large stock of his own. The gravity of the divines would have been to him as a perpetual funeral: and even the comparative playfulness of Montaigne would have been an insipid affair, sadly wanting in the zest and lustiness necessary to all real enjoyment. Calvin, Montaigne, and Rabelais played the parts respectively of the Franciscan, the Courtier, and Silenus:-and as it was with these men, so was it with the French people. Each had his admirers. The national character embraced them all. In some, all these temperaments were largely blended; in a greater number, the one or the other was predominant.

Rabelais became the father of the mocking school in French literature. From him the gifted men of that country learnt the power of ridicule. It was a perilous discovery to make. In France, everything true, noble, and devout, has been prostrated lamentably by the force of that weapon. Montaigne did not

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wield it in the manner of Rabelais: but together they formed the school of the doubters, and their disciples having learned, like themselves, to turn away from all grave subjects with a smile or a shrug, have sunk naturally into that form of tolerated selfishness so common among men of the world, ever giving themselves to the immediate, to the neglect of the future, to the personal, to the neglect of the public. It is not to this school, however, that we must look for the persecutors in French history. These men were not sufficiently men of convictions or earnestness in anything, to give themselves to such employment. It is not in the Pyrrhonists, whose history is traced from the rationalist speculations of Abélard, that our author finds the persecuting element, but rather in the Ideologists, whose history is traced from St. Bernard. In this latter school the force of logic, of quietism, and of mysticism, all strangely combined to form a school so filled with self-confidence and dogmatism, as to be prepared to regard all departures from their own opinions as necessarily sinful, and to regard the guilt so contracted as justly exposing the delinquents to punishment. According to our author, we have a continuation of this school in our modern Spiritualists. The infallible oracle with such men is the subjective; with the Romanist it is also the subjective, but the subjective bearing witness to the objective. In both cases there is the same pretence to a scientific exactness and certainty; and from this fact, the same inference follows in favour of persecution. The following is our author's account of the sceptical school of France, and of what it was fitted to do, and has done, for that country :—

'By scepticism, as I at present employ that word, I do not mean the suspension of the judgment on each successive subject of inquiry, nor that freedom of mind which, in the result of any such inquiry, can lay aside the most cherished preconceptions, and embrace truth, even if she at length presents herself in a form the most unexpected and unwelcome. Without such scepticism as this, the search for truth is but a mockery; and the inquirer, however much he may vaunt his freedom, is, in fact, a bondsman. The scepticism which I impute to so many of the great French writers, is a very different state of mind from this. They were opinionless, and were content to be so. They were destitute of settled convictions, and acquiesced in the want of them. Even so far as they could attain to any definite creed, they held by it faintly and irresolutely. They had no faith which they were ready to attest by any considerable sacrifice; none to which they clung as an indestructible part of their portion in this life, or of their inheritance beyond the grave.

If, as I am constrained to infer, Abélard, and Rabelais, and Montaigne, and Bayle, and so many others of their illustrious lineage in France, were in this sense of the word sceptics, it seems to me to

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