Sivut kuvina
PDF
ePub

Monsieur de Villette's, are principally the shops of booksellers, but they are much less frequented than formerly, for people never read so little, I am told, as they do at present. The whole key takes its name from Voltaire, it was formerly the Key Mulag. nest. It was somewhere in this neighbourhood that I first saw a stereotype printing-office; this mode of printing is costly in the first instance, but in the 'casc of books which are likely to command a permanent sale, it is by far the cheapest in the end; the process is simple and very easily explained a leaf having been printed in the usual way, it is carefully examined and every fault corrected in the arrangement of the letters from which it was struck off: and these letters thus arranged are then made use of for forming a cast of the whole page and the pages of a book may be afterwards printed so as to form any number of editions at a very small expense of manual labour. I was glad to see Goldsinith's Vicar of Wakefield among the stereotype editions, and I was told that there are several other English books, for one solitary vestige of republicanism in France is a fondness for the language spoken by ihe English and Americans. I have mentioned something in a former letter of the continued improvements and embellishments which are going on in Paris, and nowhere does the good sense which directs them appear more conspicuously than along the united galleries of the Louvre and the Thuilleries, which have been pierced in a variety of places, so as to open a communication for carriages with the rue St Honore and the environs of the Palais Royale. The Emperor indeed seems desirous of conciliating the affections, as well as of commanding the admi. ration of his good people of Paris; he pays them the sort of compliment which Alexander did the Athenians; his efforts are all however, I believe to no purpose. I have mixed with the people upon great occasions, when their partiality in his favour, if it had existed, must certainly have shown itself, and I saw nothing of it; they admire his good fortune, and think highly of his talents, but they have not even the affectation of attachment to his person ; this is contrary to what usually characterizes the Parisians, and can only be attributed to the number of poor and obscure individuals whom he has raised to be princes and rich men over them. But we will return to this subject hereafter, and continue our walk homewards through the Thuilleries. If the accounts which I have seen of these gardens before the revolution be true, the Parisians who are so devoted to walking are under obligations to the present government; they are kept in perfect order and not the smallest indecorum is permitted. It was here and in the midst of the convention, assembled at a respectful distance round his person, that Robespierre solemnized the festival he had proposed in honour of the Supreme Being: an immense multitude had crowded the gardens, and the hope was, that a new order of things would take place, and the cruel operation of the guillotine be suspended; but the tyrant who might upon these terms, and with a victorious army at his orders, have established bimself in power for life perhaps, was impelled by his sanguinary temper to disclose further views of destruction, nor did he sufficiently conceal upon this, as he had done upon former occasions, the extent of his ambition—he acted as high priest in the ridiculous ceremony, and suffered a considerable space to intervene as he walked in the procession between himself and the rest of the convention. There are always chairs to be hired in the gardens, with the new.spapers of the day, and I have often rested myself in this manner after a walk of several miles through very obscure places, which seemed as remote from the splendour of the surrounding scene at the Thuilleries, as the grossness of the middle ages. was from the refinement of the present day. A French newspaper is in general less worth reading than you can possibly imagine. The criticisms it contains are influenced by the only species of party, spirit which dares show itself. The accounts of public events are such as the agent of the police approves, and when the editor is left a little more to himself, as in speaking of America for instance, his information is very far from correct. His ignorance of our laws and manners, and his misconception of our public proceedings, leads him into the most ridiculous mistakes. The report of a committee, for instance, is frequently given as a law, and a motion in congress for regulating and putting an end to the slave-trade, is represented to the world as a bill for the emancipation of negroes That the editor of a newspaper who is so circumscribed in point of time, and obliged frequently to: employ very ignorant people, should be led into such mistakes and misrepresentations, does not surprise me ;-but I am astonished that a man of Volney's literary celebrity should have known us so little, or should have had so little respect for himself, as to lend his name to the foolish and scandalous observations which disgrace his otherwise accurate account of the United States: we

are, according to him, a lazy, avaricious, corrupt, rude, ignorant, and tea-drinking set of barbarians.* Our meals, which are confined to one or two coarse ingredients, are rendered still more unwholesome by bad cookery. Our attachment to the laws and constitution of our country, in all those at least who are called federalists, is mere pretence, the secret object in view is to reestablish the British empire in America, or some monarchy of our own, and if we are preserved from such evils, it can only be (God help us) by the friendship of France, and the virtues of Mr. J— . From having scarcely any newspapers, the French pation passed suddenly at one period of the revolution to the opposite extreme, and had too many. Every leader of a party either conducted a paper or had one in his pay, and the tyrant of the day whatever his measures might be, was sure of seeing them applauded every morning in twenty or thirty different papers, which were sent all over the republic. It was by these means that the public credulity and good faith were abused and imposed upon ; that which should have been the food of the human understanding, was converted into poison, and one of the best of God's good gifts most villainously abused. A file of the Moniteurs might afford an interesting chapter in the history of the human mind. It would exhibit the same people, and with very short intervening intervals, in very different points of view; holding out one day the expressions of a graceful nation to the Supreme Being for the safety of Ro. bespierre, and committing him the next to the execration of future ages, as the greatest, bloodiest, and meanest of all tyrants. Of the effect of these daily productions upon the language and literature of France we will speak hereafter; they were very much restrained under the directory, and the subsequent change of government has entirely restored them to their former insipidity. They are now tameness itself in all political discussions, except where their exertions are animated by a sentiment of hatred against Russia or Sweden, and particularly against England, which is the great obstacle to every project of ambition, and consequently the great mark for the arrows of invective. This is a

• A Journalist of some reputation expresses his surprize in a review of Volney's book, that Congress had not employed French bakers to travel into the different States in order to instruct the Americans in the art of making bread.

miserable sort of warfare, and fit only for a set of hirelings: but. the Emperor himself disdains not, in imitation of his great predecessor Commodus, to put on occasionally the armour of a common gladiator, and to descend into the arena. He either dictates or contributes to whatever is most bitter and malignant in the Moniteur; and were he not known by that circumstance, he might yet be easily distinguished by his style, for singular as it may appear, though he speaks it pretty well, he has never learnt to write correctly the language of the people among whom he was brought up, and over whom he reigns.

BIOGRAPHY,

It has been observed that one of the greatest advantages in Biography is the display of the formation and progress of character. This exhibition is, perhaps, still more useful in professional, than in general subjects. The young divine, physician, counsellor, lawyer, merchant, and soldier, though he may receive entertainment, information, and instruction from

the history of men, in all conditions, yet will derive lessons more beneficial to him from · viewing him in such a state and circumstances as he is himself likely to be.

A SKETCH OF THE LIFE AND CHARACTER

OF JOHN BLAIR LINN.

(Continued from page 29.) The succeeding two years of his life passed in diligent and successful application to the duties of his pastoral office. The increasing infirmities of his venerable colleague made these duties in no small degree heavy to a young man, who was just beginning his career, and who, as yet, had not acquired the benefits of preparation and experience. Heavy though they were, and punctual and meritorious as was his diligence in their performance, his active spirit found leisure to compose two poems, the last of which was of considerable length, during this interval.

The first was a poem on the death of Washington, written in imitation of the style of Ossian, whom Mr. Linn held in higher estimation than any other poet. This performance was a happy specimen of this style, and the author's success was the more remarkable, on account of the disparity between the theme he had

chosen, and those topics to which the Caledonian poet had conse.crated his song

His second attempt was more grave and arduous. It was a didactic essay on those powers from which poetry itself derives its spirit and existence. The subject of this poem is explained by its title, « The Powers of Genius.” It is a rapid and pleasing descant upon the nature and operations of genius, and a general view of its origin and progress. It is accompanied with notes, by which doubtful passages are explained, and the reasonings of the poet amplified, confirmed, and illustrated, by new and apposite examples.

Mr. Linn has justified himself, in bestowing some of his leisure on subjects of this kind, by observing, in his preface to this work, that “ literature, next to religion, is the fountain of our greatest consolation and delight. Though it be a solemn truth that the deepest erudition, disconnected with religion, cannot enlighten the regions beyond the grave, or afford consolation on the bed of death, yet, when united with religion, literature renders men more emi. nently useful, opens wider their intellect to the reception of divine light, banishes religious superstition, and bows the knee, with purer adoration, before the throne of God. Literature on the rugged journey of life scatters flowers, it overshadows the path of the weary, and refreshes the desert with its streams. He who is prone to sensual pursuits may seek his joy in the acquirement of silver and gold, and bury his affections with the treasure in his coffers. The nobler soul, enlightened by genius and taste, looks far above these possessions. His riches are the bounty of knowledge, his joys are those which wealth cannot purchase. He contemplates Nature in her endless forms, and finds companions, where men of different pursuits would experience the deepest solitude."

Those phantoms which genius produces, and taste embellishes, had a powerful influence over the imagination of Mr. Linn. Ex. ternal objects were habitually viewed by him through a poetical medium, and seldom through any other. Their attractions, in his eyes, and their merit, consisted almost wholly in their power to inspire emotion, and exalt the fancy. The deductions of pure science, whether mathematical, physical, or moral, he held in very slender estimation: their simplicity was to him naked and insipid, dreary and cold. His natural temper, and all his habits of meditation, eminently fitted bim for a poet; the subject of this work had been fá

« EdellinenJatka »