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creatures, and make society a necessity. The man who has none of either, would soon sink beneath his proper level ; and he who has too much of them would aspire to rise above it.' Vol. I. p. 22.
We have promised to refrain from discussion, and will therefore merely intimate, that we cannot subscribe to this use of terms, or to the ethical principles laid down. We do not understand how the sentiment or feeling of self-approbation so differs from the fundamental faculty of self-esteem,' as to depend upon it; nor how self-complacent vanity can be properly represented as a modification of self-approbation ; nor how the desire of self-approbation and the desire of the approbation of others, can be said to be the elements of the innate sentiments of pride and vanity. We should have imagined that a just feeling of self-approbation, resulting from the faculty of conscience, must have had some intimate relation to a sense of the Divine approbation; and that a just desire of the approbation of others, must have been connected with a desire to merit, their esteem and love, and consequently with the social affections. We should have thought it unwise to adopt the names of vices, in a philosophical work, as the designation of such just and laudable feelings; and we might also have deemed it scarcely philosophical to represent those vices as only modifications of virtues. But we grant the Author his system for the sake of his facts, and proceed with our analysis.
Chapter III. treats of the Causes which develop and modify the pride and vanity of nations; exemplifies the development and progress of those national sentiments; and shews how they re-act upon the national character. Chapter IV. treats, in the same manner, of the causes, the progress, and the re-action of Social Improvement. Chapter V. treats of the causes, &c. of Religion. Chapter VI. of Morality. Chapter VII. of Government. Chapter VIII. of Intellect. This concludes the first volume. In the second volume, the same plan of inquiry is applied to, I. Industry. II. The Arts of War. III. Social Habits. IV. Patriotism. The Vth and last chapter is on the Mutability of National Character.
We select as our first specimen, the following extract from the Chapter on Morality, both on account of the importance of the facts it discloses, and because, in such comparisons, the Author seems peculiarly at home.
· From a comparative statement of the crimes committed in England and France, and still more of the punishments inflicted, it would almost appear that morality was less pure and absolute in the Protestant, than in the Catholic country; but such an inference would be altogether erroneous.
In the first place, the laws of England and France do not weigh equally upon all offences. Many actions are considered in the former VOL. VII.-N.S. .
as deserving the highest punishment, which, in the latter, are hardly cognizable to justice. In the Code Napoleon, unnatural crimes are not even mentioned, unless committed with violence. Capital executions are less frequent in France ; theft, and even murder, have many means of evading death, as well by the letter as by the spirit of the law; while in England they can hope to escape it but by some attenuating circumstances, which may induce the mercy of the sovereign to commute the penalty. The legal import assigned to what is construed premeditation in either country, may put this in a clearer light. In England, the slightest indication of thought is sufficient to destroy the plea of sudden impulse. In France, unless a murderer is proved to have brooded over his crime for an almost infinite period, he is acquitted of premeditation, and condemned to reclusion, not to death. It is remarkable, that the nation whose habitual reflection is the least, should allow the longest time for criminals to meditate with impunity upon the perpetration of evil.
• Another reason for not placing confidence in French lists of crimes and punishments, is the establishment of an institution for which the public mind is not yet fitted - the trial by jury. The reasons which, in France, destroy the value of this great engine of security and justice, are too numerous to be quoted, but they may be reduced to three principal causes.
• Ist. The want of independence in the middle class, and their want of instruction and practical sense. 2d. The absurd mode in which juries are formed. Whoever has paid attention to criminal processes in that country, must agree that the proceedings and the decisions are often such as could hardly be expected in a civilized nation. A third reason is, that the most official documents there do not command implicit confidence. Public feeling does not yet require a faithful statement of existing evils; and though any member of the legislature may demand the communication of documents, a minister may refuse them. The mass of the French population is not yet convinced that, in a monarchy, where ministers, questioned upon the lives and properties of subjects, dare refuse to answer, the loss of liberty is more injurious to the state, than the publication of any crimes not quite unpunished.
A fourth reason is, the participation of the French in an opinion which, as previously remarked, is shared by every vain nation,—that it is better to leave crimes unpunished, than to punish them too publicis. Nay, so far do they carry this principle, that they generally hold themselves less dishonoured when they swear to the innocence of a guilty relation, than when they give him up to chastisement. This prejudice was equally prevalent in the old as in the new government, for it is inherent in vanity.
"Whatever be the number of great crimes committed by the French, the few attempts made to purify the mass of society, the puerile pretension of endeavouring to appear better than they really are, and of sacrificing solid virtue for reputation, very much lower the standard of public morals. But none of these causes operate among the British, and the pride of this nation produces effects precisely the reverse of all that has now been stated respecting the inhabitants of France.
• Ist. The laws of England, as before observed, are, in many cases,
more severe than those of France. There is a crime on which public opinion, in the former country, pronounces itself with horror, which, by the law, is death, and of which nothing can wipe away the obloquy, but which, in the latter, is not considered as worthy of animadversion. There, the man who commits it, is not even pointed at as a profligate; the Code of Napoleon takes no cognizance of him. To those who have no means of judging national morals by closer inspection than the reports of trials, it would seem that France is more moral than England; but this apparent superiority is, in fact, due to indifference toward vice.
• 2dly. The chances of escaping punishment are less in England; consequently, the lists of crimes and punishments come more near to the truth. This may appear incredible to those who are in the habit of admiring the police of France, which could forestall intentions, and frustrate evil designs, at the precise moment necessary to procure conviction. In England, an institution which could ask of any man what he was going to do, could not subsist one hour. It is incompatible with political liberty, which Britons wisely prefer to a small addition to their individual repose. Yet the detection of crimes is more certain here, than in France, as innumerable instances might prove.
• Another reason for a small chance of impunity in England is, the superiority of British juries, more accustomed to discuss truth, more enlightened, more conscientious, more devoutly weighing the evils of unjust condemnation and of impunity. Englishmen turn the entire powers of their mind to such investigations, and, as little as is possible for human beings, allow themselves to be swayed by personal considerations. In the hands of such men, the lives of their fellow-citizens are safe, and the guilty can seldom escape their penetration.
• 3dly. Official concealment of crime is neither the practice nor the theory of British functionaries, and entire reliance may be placed in the reports submitted to the public. Ministers too well know the impossibility of withholding communications demanded by public opinion. The government, no less than the nation, is convinced of the advantage of publicity, and both know that more danger would accrue from impunity or concealment, than from imparting the documents of national depravity.
. 4thly. The English are a proud nation, and their ambition is to be moral, rather than to seem so. They know that, whatever be the nature or the number of national crimes, the only way to keep the mass of society pure, is to take cognizance of them, and, at the expense of a little reputation, to extirpate corruption wherever it be found.
"A further reason why the general morality of the two countries cannot be appreciated by lists of crimes and punishments, is, that many circumstances in the situation of England contribute to create extraordinary instances of great offences, which the law severely chastises. But those very circumstances are among the principal contributors to the general morality of the country in other respects. A nation, for instance, engaged in such extensive commercial relations as England, cannot but derive as much advantage from them in morals as in wealth. Commerce, on such a comprehensive scale, can have no basis but confidence, and contidence no foundation but honesty. Yet, the hope of rapid gain must naturally tempt a few to speculate beyond their means; and among the victims of adventurous industry, some will yield to the suggestions of dishonest hope, till, at the last, the law overtakes them. Thus the catalogue of crime is swollen, while the immense additions which universal probity, the basis of commercial confidence, must make to national morality, is overlooked in the list of virtues.
• But, notwithstanding official lists and documents, it may still be doubted, whether the number of crimes really is proportionably greater in England than in France. But what cannot be questioned, and what is of much greater national importance, is, that the remaining mass of society is much more pure; and not only this general superiority has existed in every period of the history of both countries, but examples of French depravity have frequently occurred, to which no parallel could be found in this island.
• The reputation of being addicted to suicide is attached to the Eng. lish, more than to any other nation. .... The fact, however, is the reverse.
From a French document for the years 1815 and 1816, it appears that, in the former, the number of suicides committed in Paris, was one hundred and seventy-five ; in the latter, one hundred and eighty. eight. In another part of the same document, it is stated that, in 1816, the bodies of two hundred and seventy-eight persons were exposed at the Morgue, the mode of whose death was unknown; but as these persons must have died by accidental death, by assassination, or by suicide, and, as it will afterwards appear, positive want of subsist. ence being a frequent cause of voluntary death in Paris, and these bodies being generally those of the lower orders, it is not too much to assume that one-third of this number had perished by suicide. The sum total, therefore, is two hundred and eighty, in a population largely estimated at seven hundred thousand.
From an official document of the suicides committed in London during the same year, and which must be considered as much nearer to the truth than the French report, the number was seventy-two, in a population which, upon the lowest computation, amounts to one million. Hence the proportion of suicides, in equal populations of England and France, is as one to five and a fraction. It is true the year 1816 was one of foreign invasion ; but many other epochs confirm one to five as the lowest ratio of suicides in both countries. The French assert that the British lists of suicides contain only those whom a coroner's verdict has returped as such, and that the coroner's inquest always mitigates the sentence; but this assertion is unfounded, for the legal report is made according to fact, independent of causes.
· Thus, although the incitements to suicide are greater in England than in France, the proportion deduced from the capital of either country is, at least, as five to one in favour of that nation in which religion, not honour, operates as the check. But the publicity of all the concerns of this country--the effect produced upon the public mind by so desperate an act as self-destruction--the importance at. tached to every thing which relates to national morals, hold up the
rarer instances of British suicide to more general notice, than the indifference of the French, and their silence upon all that can diminish public admiration.
• The motives of suicide in France are far from being so dignified as in England ; and if, in so criminal an act, the less important consideration of the cause and the manner can have any weight, the balance would lean very much in favour of the prouder people. Sui. cide in Britain is never committed with levity. The cause, too, is moral, more than physical necessity ; while the proportion of the latter, as stated, in an official French document, to be among the motives of suicide, is truly afflicting.
That want of food, the hopelessness of procuring subsistence, should be so prevailing a cause of suicide in so luxuriant a country as France, must give rise to many sad reflections, were it not that they may all be summed up in this truth, which seems to pervade the globe, and to be the universal rule of human exertion :- Wherever nature has done the most for man, man does the least for himself.'
Vol. I. pp. 150–173.
The contrast between the two nations is still less to the advantage of our neighbours, in respect to another trait, which could hardly have been supposed to exist in so prominent a degree in the politest nation of Europe, - ferocity. The nation that has re
tained the largest share of ferocity, which once was common * among its barbarous ancestors, is that whose vanity is the most ' active,-France.' We have neither room nor inclination to extract the horrible details which form the historic proofs of this remarkable fact; nor are we satisfied with the Author's explanation of it. There is, however, too much foundation for the charge. French cruelty has hitherto not been diminished by the progress of social improvement. Yet, the late Revolution must be admitted to have exhibited much less of this national ferocity; and whatever be the causes, it may be hoped that they are not such as * cannot change'.
Mr. Chenevix is no enthusiastic or unbounded admirer of the Italian Republics, which have found in M. Sismondi, so eloquent an historian. The following remarks occur in the chapter on Government.
• Not one of these republics, however admirable they may be in some respects, however superior to the ancient states of Greece and Rome, by the better kind of happiness which existed in them, and by the more equal right of every man to the protection of the law, deserves to be held up as a model of government in the present times. Experience has shewn, that the same extent of territory, united into one empire, is more prosperous than when subdivided into little states. Wars, which are frequent rather in proportion to boundaries than to surface, are more rare; and the central provinces which, when intersected, are exposed to perpetual hostility, are sheltered from attacks.