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ferred to the upper house, his political career will be at an end.
An erroneous opinion is entertained by the French as to the influence of the party, in England, called the opposition, which is completely fallen in the opinion of the public. It possesses neither great talents, nor real patriotism. Mr. Fox himself is no longer of any use to it, having lost all his eloquence from age and excesses of the table. It is certain that his wounded vanity, rather than any other motive, induced him, for so long a time, to discontinue his attendance in Parliament.
The bill, which excludes from the House of Commons every person in holy orders, has been also misinter. preted at Paris. It is not known that the only object of this measure was to expel Horne Tooke, a man of genius, and a violent enemy of government, who had formerly been in orders, but had abandoned his cloth; who had also been a supporter of power even to the extent of drawing upon himself an attack from the pen of Junius; and finally became a proselyte of liberty, like many others.
Parliament lost in Mr. Burke one of its most distinguished members. He detested the French Revolution, but to do him justice, no Englishman ever more sincerely loved the French as individuals, or more applauded their valour and their genius. Though he was not rich, he had founded a school for the expatriated youth of our nation, where he passed whole days in admiring the genius and vivacity of these children. He used often to relate an anecdote on the subject. Having introduced the son of an English nobleman to be educated at this school, the young orphans proposed to play with him, but the lord did not chuse to join in their sports. “I don't like the French,” said he frequently with a degree of sarcasm. A little boy, who could never, •draw from him any other answer, said, “ That is impos
sible.' You have too good a heart to hate us. Should not your Lordship substitute your fear for your hatred ?"
It would be right to speak here of English literature, and the men of letters, but they demand a separate article. I will, therefore, content myself, for the present, with recording some critical decisions, which have much astonished me, because they are in direct contradiction to our received opinions.
Richardson is little read, being accused of insupportable tediousness and lowness of style. It is said of Hume and Gibbon that they have lost the genius of the English language, and filled their writings with a crowd of Gallicisms; the former is also accused of being dull and immoral. Pope merely passes for an exact and. elegant versifier ; Johnson contends that his Essay on Man is only a collection of common passages rendered into pleasant metre. Dryden and Milton are the two authors, to whom the title of author is exclusively applied. The Spectator is almost forgotten, and Locke is seldom mentioned, being thought a feeble visionary. None but professed philosophers read Bacon. Shakspeare alone preserves his imperial influence, which is easily accounted for by the following fact.
I was one night at Covent Garden Theatre, which takes its name, as is generally known, from an ancient convent, on the scite of which it is built. A well dressed man, seated himself near me, and asked soon afterwards where he was. I looked at him with astonishment, and answered, “In Covent Garden." “A pretty garden indeed !” exclaimed he, bursting into a fit of laughter, and presenting to me a bottle of rum. It was a sailor, who had accidentally passed this way as he came from the city, just at the time the performance was commencing ; and having observed the pressure of the crowd at the
entrance of the theatre, had paid his money, and entered the house without knowing what he was to see.
How should the English have a theatre to be termed supportable, when the pit is composed of judges recently arrived from Bengal, and the coast of Guinea, who do not even know where they are ? Shakspeare may reign eternally in such a nation. It is thought that every thing is justified by saying that the follies of English tragedy are faithful pictures of nature. If this were true, the most natural situations are not those, which produce the greatest effect. It is natural to fear death, and yet a victim, who laments its approach, dries the tears before excited by commiseration. The human heart wishes for more than it is capable of sustaining, and above all, wishes for objects of admiration. There is implanted in it an impulse towards some indescribable unknown beauty, for which it was perhaps created at its origin.
A graver observation arises also from this subject. A nation, which has always been nearly barbarous with respect to the arts, may continue to admire barbarous productions, without its being of any consequence ; but I do not know to what point a nation, possessing chef d'æuvres in every pursuit, can resume its love of the monstrous, without detracting from its character. For this reason, the inclination to admire Shakspeare is more dangerous in France than England. In the latter country this results from ignorance-in ours it would be the effect of depravity. In an enlightened age, the manners of a truly polished people contribute more towards good taste than is generally imagined. Bad taste, therefore, which has so many means of regaining its influence, must depend on false ideas, or a natural bias. The mind incessantly works on the heart, and it is difficult for the road, taken by the heart, to be straight, when that of the imagination is crooked. He, who likes deformity, is
not far from liking vice, and he, who is insensible to beauty, may easily form a false conception of virtue. Bad taste and vice almost always move together ; for the former is only the expression of the latter, in the same way as words convey our ideas to others.
I will close this article with some brief observations on the soil, the atmosphere and public buildings of England.
The country is almost without birds, and the rivers are small, but the banks of these have, nevertheless, a pleasing effect from the solitude which prevails there. The verdure of the fields is of a most lively description. There are few, indeed hardly any woods; but every person's small property being enclosed by a hedge, you might fancy when you take a survey from the top
of a i hill, that you were in the middle of a forest, England,
at the first glance, resembles Britany, the heaths and plains being surrounded with trees. As to the sky of this country, its azure is brighter than our's, but less transparent. The variations of light are more striking from the multitude of clouds. In summer, when the sun sets at London, beyond Kensington Gardens, it sometimes affords a very picturesque spectacle. The immense volume of coal-smoke, hanging over the city, represents those black rocks, tinged with purple, which are adopted in our representations of Tartarus, while the ancient towers of Westminster Abbey, crowned with vapour, and reddened with the last rays of the sun, raise their heads above the city, the palace, and St. James's Park, like a great monument of death, appearing to command all the other handyworks of man.
Saint Paul's church is the most beautiful modern, and Westminster Abbey the most beautiful Gothic edifice in England. I shall, perhaps, speak more at large respecting the latter on some future occasion. I have often, when returning from my excursions round London, passed behind Whitehall
, through the court in which Charles the First was beheaded. It is in an abandoned state, and the grass grows among the stones. I have sometimes stopped and listened to the wind, moaning round the statue of Charles the Second, which points to the spot where his father perished. I never found any person in this place but workmen cutting stone, whistling as they pursued their labours. Having asked one day what this statue meant, some of them could hardly give me any answer, and others were entirely ignorant of the subject. Nothing ever afforded a more just idea of human events, and our littleness. What is become of persons who made so much noise ? Time has taken a stride, and the face of the earth has been renewed. To generations, then divided by political animosity, have succeeded generations indifferent to the past, but filling the present times with new animosities, which succeeding generations will in their turn forget.