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verse more readily upon most subjects (though his knowledge of them may not be very profound) than the Englishman, whose time at college has probably been either more occupied by his classical studies, to the neglect of other more available knowledge, or by more practical occupations.
It must, however, be confessed, that the introduction of the more easy manners, and the greater colloquial powers of the French, would go far towards removing the insipidity attendant on some crowded meetings where the company is exclusively English, and the conversation not the most spirituelle. Thus, as may supposed from their greater disposition to enjoy the present, and effleurer les choses de la vie, the French are more agreeable as acquaintances than the English, who, however, are generally more to be depended upon as friends, or where any service is required.
The influence of religion is almost null among the largest proportion of the population of most parts of France, and that of the moral principle is not very powerful; both good and bad actions being more frequently performed from impulse, or in accordance with the dictates of interest or pleasure, than from reflection, or from a due regard to what is right or wrong, which, from being inculcated at an early age, is more universal in England. Personal courage, and an exaggerated idea of the superiority of France and Frenchmen over all other nations, as well as a great susceptibility to any thing which is considered to affect the national or individual honour, are universal among all classes ; hence the readiness to have recourse to arms, and the greater frequency of duels to settle disputes and misdeeds affecting society, which in England (where the dread of moral responsibility and of the law operates as a salutary restraint upon personal conflicts) are frequently arranged by apology, or are submitted to the decision of the judicial tribunals. Even among common soldiers in France, when disputes cannot be arranged, a duel with the sword is a frequent consequence.
The love of pleasure, which pervades all classes in France to a much greater extent than in England, is not always of the most refined nature: hence a morbid craving for excitement and novelty is engendered, and a vitiated taste is acquired, to which writers and dramatists of considerable talent have not scrupled to pander, and to keep alive, by the reiterated narration of crimes and horrors, which, from the novel and outré combinations in which they were presented to the public, must have called forth not a little inventive power. It must not, however, be supposed that all were thus infected; for there is a large proportion of the upper and middle orders among the French population, as estimable as could be found in any country, whom these productions inspired with disgust and pity; and the writings of Chateaubriand, Lamartine, and De Vigny, were eagerly perused, even by many of those who delighted in the creations of Victor Hugo or Georges Sand. It is, however, gratifying to perceive that this taste has of late greatly subsided : the dramas of Lucrèce Borgia, Marion de L'Orme, the Tour de Nesle, and similar performances, having been but seldom exhibited on the stage, being superseded by the historical plays and comedies of Delavigne, Scribe, and others of the same school.
A thirst for military renown, and acquisition by force of arms, is strong in the minds of a large section of the population of France (independently of the army), who have the recollection of the brilliant career of Napoleon, and of individuals raised from obscure stations to the rank of colonels, generals, and field-marshals, without the accompanying reflection of the devastation and misery inflicted upon other nations, and which the conscription and occupation by foreign armies subsequently entailed upon their own country. Such persons, many of whom may be likened to the conspirators against Augustus, referred to by Corneille, who,
“Si tout n'est renversé ne sauraient subsister,”
dazzled by their ideas of national superiority, are led to entertain the supposition of a successful career of conquest as heretofore: a circumstance not likely to happen in the present day, even were another Napoleon to arise and take the command of their armies.
With respect to climate, the chief advantage which Paris has over London consists in the greater purity and dryness of the atmosphere, its freedom from smoke and fog, and in the weather being less variable from day to day. The summers are hotter, and the winters equally cold, if not colder. The average quantity of rain which falls throughout the year, is about as great in the one as in the other capital. It would not therefore, be advisable to select Paris as a winter residence for delicate invalids, or those whose cases require attention to climate. It agrees, however, very well with many dyspeptics, to whom the light cookery of the French cuisine is better suited than the more sub
stantial fare usually met with in Britain, which requires greater powers of digestion, provided always that this class of invalids abstain from ragouts, rich sauces, indigestible vegetables, as truffles, and from partaking of a variety of wines. The valetudinarian who labours under depression of spirits, combined with disordered digestion, would likewise frequently find himself better after a few weeks' sojourn in Paris, which offers more resources for mental relaxation and amusement than any other city. Baths are also more general, which is a great advantage; for there can be no doubt that the neglect of this means of keeping the functions of the skin in a proper state, is the occasion of many of the complaints most frequently met with in England.
Among the most prevalent diseases of Paris may be enumerated inflammations of the respiratory organs, consumption, typhoid fevers, intermittents, rheumatism, scrofula, and various forms of dyspepsia. Apoplexy, paralysis, and nervous diseases in general, appear to me to be less frequent than in England. As the treatment of disease presents considerable differences (into the consideration of which I have fully entered in another work*) in England and on the continent, the English abroad usually prefer being attended by medical men of their own country, and at almost all the continental towns of resort, one, two, or more practitioners reside. Some, however, who take the name of English physicians, have but little claim to the confidence of the public, as every body is not aware that the title of doctor of medicine (which does not confer the right to practise) may be obtained with very little trouble from certain foreign universities, requiring little else than the payment of the fees. Travellers, therefore, when they hear speak of Doctor So-and-So, will do well to ascertain, before entrusting themselves to their care, how far they are qualified to support the title they assume.
* Observations on the Medical Institutions and Practice of France, Italy, and Germany.
It must be admitted that in England, where the habit of energetic medication prevails more than elsewhere, drugs are often prescribed when not indicated, and much injury is thus done in many chronic diseases, especially in the dyspeptic and nervous complaints with which so great a proportion of the inhabitants of large towns are afflicted. Continental practitioners frequently manage these cases better by means of mild remedies, baths, mineral waters, &c., which, however, have been latterly more universally employed in England than heretofore.