Page images
PDF
EPUB

—а

which gives it a peculiar interest. A well. , ous occasions. Falling on his knees, he dressed lady enters a shop, followed by a implores, with an eloquence almost irresistnursery-maid with a baby in long and flow- ible, the pardon, the compassion, of the ing robes : the lady requires all manner of benevolent man whom he frankly admits he smart things to be shown her, lays them has so deeply injured-it is his first, his aside with the usual fastidiousness of fe- only offence-the fatal love of play has led male taste, and demands others. In the him to it-to decide upon his fate will be to midst of her purchases she is seized with decide also upon the fate of as respectable a sudden paroxysm of tenderness for her a father as ever breathed—a father who baby; the good-humoured smiling bonne would die were he to know of his son's sets the darling on the counter, that its lit- dishonour! This frequently succeeds : the tle face may be close to mamma's; and, proprietor contents himself with kicking when the caresses are concluded, takes it the penitent down stairs; who, well aware again upon her arm, and with it, under that his honour is of that description that cover of its long robe, two or three selected knows no stain, considers this mode of repieces of silk.

treat equivalent to a victory. The system of several distinct families Every crowded street, every theatre, has living in one house, with a common stair its contingent of pickpockets, between case, affords the Parisian robber facilities whom and the police there is one unceasing unknown in London. Bonjouriers, Vo- conflict. As a specimen of our author's leurs au bonjour, Chevaliers grimpans, are style, we will give his lively sketch of this the happily significant names given to the warfare :numerous class of whom we are now speak. ing. They disdain the use of false keys,

Les inspecteurs de police sont attirés dans break open no doors, scale no walls ; their les groupes par les motifs même qui y conduisent

les filous. Ils ont, les uns comme les autres, only preparation is ascertaining the name les yeux fixés sur les poches des curieux, mais of two of the residents, and this the printed les premiers veiller à leur défense quand les Directories enable them to do. Well seconds songent à les dépouiller. De là, cette dressed, shod with noiseless pumps, and animosité mutuelle, et pour ainsi dire instinctive, relying on his self-possession and ease of qui existe entre eux. Quel est celui d'entre manner, one of these thieves boldly de nous qui appréhende les entreprises des filous à mands of the porter whether M. B_ is la promenade ou ailleurs ? combien peu qui

savent gré à la police de sa sollicitude, qui se at home, M. A being the person he in

doutent même de cette sollicitude ? Il est pourtends to rob. No sooner is he upon the tant vrai que dans un grand nombre de circonstairs than he is all eyes to detect an un- stances les agens de police et les filous luttent fastened door. He sees one with a key in entre eux sur le terrain d'observations, de préit; he knocks again and again; if no one cautions, et d'addresse, précisément à l'occasion appears he steps in as far as the dining- du sujet qui nous occupe le moins. Ce sont les room, makes straight for the buffet, fills his seuls qui ne soient pas attentifs aux spectacles

ou aux divertissemens qui fixent les regards de pockets and hat with silver, and glides out

Cette inattention doit être pour chacun again. Should the owner of the apart. d'eux une cause de défiance et de crainte, un ment, M. A-, make his appearance, the signe d'hostilité, excepté quand l'inspecteur et robber with a courteous and smiling air de- le filou se connaissent, ce qui arrive assez mands whether he has not the honour to souvent. Alors les rôles deviennent plus simaddress M. B_ ? he is told that M. ples, l'évènement de la lutte ne tient plus qu'à B-lives on the next floor, and the un

une question de fait, au flagrant délit. "Le pubsuspected villain, uttering a thousand apo- que la rumeur porte à sa connaissance, tandis

lic n'aperçoit qu'un accident imprévu dans ce fait logies, departs with the best grace imagina- qu'il y a eu un drame, un dénoûment, des ble or suspicion may be half aroused, acteurs, le tout enveloppé d'un mystère profond,'

:the

party may be a matter-of-fact Englishman, or a slow-witted German, who looks The pickpockets of the highest class are grave and dangerous, and the Frenchman enabled, by the elegance of their dress and perceives that his safety hangs upon a manners, to insinuate themselves into all thread. Nothing daunted, the rogue reite- public assemblies, even the most select. rates his rapid apologies, and performs a Splendidly dressed foreigners are the grand semicircle of active bows until he gets in objects of their attention. · Ils rechera straight line with the door, and then chent avidement les Anglais, et s'attachent à vanishes with the rapidity of lightning leurs pas comme à une proie riche et facile,' Nay, should he be seized, and the stolen the outside and well-filled pockets of our plate actually found upon him, he is not countrymen being greatly to their taste. without his resources. He has a tale of Exploiter les positions sociales is the prowoe, ready cut and dried for all such peril. I fessed occupation of a numerous class of

3

tous.

6

VOL. LXX.

ever.

swindlers. Many an industrious family, that he should also have omitted in his ca. who bear a fair reputation in the world, talogue of crime the frequent and murderhave some fatal secret connected with them, ous duels which disgrace the French capiwhich, if divulged, would crush them for tal, as well as those vastly moving and ro

A liberated convict, for example, mantic police-historiettes which perpetually has become a reformed man, has married a adorn the journals, half murder and half respectable woman, and has set up in bu- suicide, and in which young ladies and gensiness, neither his wife nor his neighbours tlemen, to prove the ardour of their love, having the slightest idea of his former blow out each other's brains, or poison habits of life. One of his companions in themselves in pairs. With regard to suiprison finds him out, or the fact becomes cide, in fact, we see reason to suspect that known, by hazard, to some of the wretches our author looks upon it with favourable who are constantly on the look-out for their eyes.* prey. They open a correspondence with Looking at the general mass of crime in the wife; mysterious dangers are hinted to the two cities, we are inclined to doubt her; she becomes suspicious and alarmed; whether in intensity of guilt London may the husband is compelled to divulge his se- not claim a bad pre-eminence over Paris. eret to her; and the dread of exposure in- The gay, good-humoured, and buoyant disduces them to accede to the demands of position of the French, so amiable and the robbers, in whose power they feel pleasing among the good, may, though themselves to be. These demands for faintly, be still traced among the depraved; money are again and again repeated; and and renders their pickpockets, their swinthe unhappy couple may consider them-dlers, and their thieves, some shades less reselves fortunate if the scoundrel, after he voltingly wicked than our own. The chief has carried on his exactions for months, difference is in style and manner of procedoes not hand them over to some other of dure, not in the extent of talent and genius. his tribe, to be subjected to a new series of In elegance of person, and dress, easy selfthreats and extortions. The prevalence in possession, agility of limb, abundance of Paris of an offence of a hideous nature expedient, and cheerful submission to regives scope to a still darker species of con- verses of fortune, we believe that a Parisian spiracy, unknown in England. We cannot scoundrel beats a Londoner hollow; but stain our pages by explaining the machina- for steady, calculating villany, for deeptions of these infamous gangs, who, with settled and well-combined plans of fraud an audacity scarcely to be believed, fre- and violence, we doubt whether the suquently assume the garb and functions of periority be not with us : and, despite all the police.

the vapouring of M. Vidocq, and all the In Paris, as elsewhere, each separate miracles of skill which he records, let us class of villains has within itself a certain take an individual from some of our northnumber, generally very limited, of ferocious ern counties, let us give him the advantage spirits, who, with a reckless indifference, of a couple of London seasons, and we are are willing, for any cause, or none, to dye afraid that he might brag the world. their hands in blood. The Parisian rob- The preservatives from vice form the bers affect to consider that these sanguinary third division of the work. They are and brutal propensities are to be found only discussed with sense and feeling, and many among the rustics who join their ranks; but important subjects are brought forward this is not the case. Many of the most forcibly and well. There is, however, a merciless ruffiavs are town-bred, and have good deal of amplification, and needless reached the pinnacle through a long grada-labour of demonstration; and many points tion of crime. Even among their com- of political economy which have long ago panions these men are feared and shunned, been fixed, are analysed and argued as if and they in return affect to despise and do- they were new ground. He well says :mineer over all those who are less bloodthirsty than themselves.

· Let public institutions or private philanthroIn enumerating the different species of py exert themselves as they may, the fate of the crime, M. Frégier abstains entirely from child and of the future man mainly depends on any mention of those offences which are all

, the most powerful school to teach what is

the example of his parents. Our home is, after connected with political movements : he good or what is evil. In the large majority of does so on the ground that, as the causes families of every rank the anxious desire of the which lead to them are transitory and of parents is to lead their children into the paths rare occurrence, they form no part of the general elements of society. His view in this may be correct--but we are surprised

• Vide vol. i., page 207.

are

of virtue; and it is this holy feeling which keeps l 'deign to look at them whilst one paragraph down and limits crime. Labour is natural to on the more exciting subjects of politics, man; his moral happiness, however little he police and playhouses, remained unread.* may be disposed to think so, depends upon

it as much as his bodily sustenance. This is one of the

In many parts of France, as in Germany most important lessons that can be taught; and and Switzerland, the labouring population it is best taught by the example of industrious change their vocation from the field to the parents. But to render a life of unremitted la- city according to the demand for their serbour endurable, to control and neutralise the vice; and this with a facility, and to an exevil propensities of our nature, to check idle tent, quite unknown among us.

The freness and discontent, demands wisdom and ben-quent periods of inactivity, both in agriculevolence on the part of the masters.'

ture and manufactures-époques de chomage We with sorrow confess our belief that

by this means rendered much less inthere is in France more paternal watchful-jurious to the operative class than they ness, more kindly feeling on the part of the

would otherwise be. It is this facility of manufacturer and master-workman towards turning their hands to different occupations, those whom they employ than there is in ters' bench, that brings into Paris at cer

from the plough to the loom or the carpenEngland. M. Frégier gives noble exam- tain seasons a large body of operatives, who, ples of liberality and goodness exhibited by during the rest of the year, live with their provincial manufacturers; but it is not to families in the country. These form, M. these that we advert : they might be met, Frégier says, the élite of the labouring popwe well know, by instances of equal wis-ulation of Paris. In London we have no dom and virtue in our own country.

We found our opinion upon the numberless cir- periodical movement of this sort : the great cumstances which prove that there is, on

mass of country people who flock to Lonthe whole, more unison of feeling, more their fixed residence, and of these a large

don do so for the purpose of making it sympathy, more mutual dependence and support between the different ranks of in- proportion are the lowest class of Irish, dustry, between the employers and the em- element of our metropolitan population,

who, if they do not form the most vicious ployed, in France than with us.

The national advantages resulting from this are least submissive to the laws. Paris has

undoubtedly are the most turbulent and the most important; and it is to this cause, we conceive, in a great degree, that the com

evidently the advantage over us in this

At the same time we doubt wheth. binations among workmen to enforce an

respect. increase of wages, which have at different er the rural population in either kingdom times been carried to such a fearful extent above the inhabitants of towns as our au

possesses so great a superiority of virtue in England, are in France, comparatively thor claims for it. The criminal tables of speaking, unknown. We are well aware both prove, indeed, that the numerical prothat there are other operating causes; but we believe that the one we have adverted portion of crime is much higher in towns to is the most effective of all.

than in the country. A peasant has fewer M. Frégier is energetic in his appeal to

opportunities to commit crime, fower the newspaper press to devote a portion of temptations, and less chance of escaping the vast power which it wields to the en- fer the same individual to the city, place

detection, than the townsman. But translightening, controlling, and rendering con- him on the same footing of opportunity and tented and tranquil

, the national industry, safety as the townsman, and it will too often taking that term in its most extensive sense, be found that he is to the full as apt and as embracing agriculture, manufactures, and commerce. He asks indignantly,' Why

* It is a circumstance not unworthy of notice, they have not done this ? The answer is that the English newspaper supposed to be patronobvious. Disquisitions on political econo- ised most largely, and almost exclusively, by the my, however elementary and familiar-highest classes of our society, is the only one that treatises on agriculture and commerce

ventures to place before its readers in regular or

nearly regular succession, a series of Essays treatmoral essays, however well meant and welling on high and important questions of moralily, written, will not make any newspaper in social arrangement, and the merits of established France sell; and were the editors of all works of literature. We can hardly believe that the journals in Paris, moved by a simul- such

a writer as the amiable and pure-hearted Ta

ble-Talker of the Morning Post would find extentaneous fervour of benevolence, to devote sive favour with the mass of those who take in any a portion of their columns to such matters, other morning paper in London. What a vast inwe are quite convinced that little or no terval between the scope and tone of his elegant es. good would result from it: the classes for says (two volumes of which are now collected) and

the literary feuilletons of the fashionable journals of whom they were intended would never the French capital!

a

[ocr errors]

ready to fall into evil courses as those good order and economy, children are not around him.

admitted into the factories until the age of M. Frégier prefaces his remarks on the twelve ; and at Nantes and Mulhouse there effects of religion as a preservative from are schools especially established for apvice, by a long exposition of the present prentices, in which instruction is carried to a state of Christianity in France. This ac- considerable extent, and the master's claim count goes to the startling length of assert- upon the time of the young people coming that religious faith has in effect ceased mences only after the breakfast-hour. to exist throughout the nation, and that There are no such specific institutions in Christianity has no longer any hold on the Paris ; but the more respectable operatives public mind, as a revelation from Heaven. are in the habit, when they bind a child to France was the well-spring from which a trade, to stipulate that he shall be allowed nearly a century ago bold infidelity, nay, a portion of each day for completing his avowed atheism, flowed far and wide over education, and in return for this indulgence many of the continental nations. Our own they either pay the master an equivalent happy country, strong in its pure and firm in money for the time which he gives up, Protestantism, was one of the few which, or the period of apprenticeship is lengthafter a brief period of agitation, withstood ened. It is evident that in France educathe shock unharmed. We had believed tion is carried further among the lower that of late years this pernicious tide had classes, both in the extent of time devoted been flowing back upon France in waves to it and in the range of the things taught, of fearful and still augmenting violence ; than it is with us; and we are compelled but if M. Frégier be correct, she has no to say that on this most important subject cause to fear the contagious impiety of any there is much which we might learn from other country:

our neighbours.

The greatest danger to which school“The religious crisis,' he says, 'which is now children are exposed is that of contaminain progress in Germany, was brought to a con- tion by intercourse with the worthless clusion in France half a century ago.'

vagabonds who crowd the streets. To We most firmly believe that our author check this as much as possible, M. Fréspeaks too broadly-even if, as we suppose, gier strongly urges that each school should he speaks of Paris rather than of France; have its own separate and enclosed playbut if we were to take him literally, we ground, and that the holidays should be as could not be surprised when he goes on to few as possible. In poor families, where tell us that in France, even among the the parents are constantly employed at a highest orders of the church, what we in distance from home, and are unable to England should call gross infidelity is coun- watch their children, these intervals of idletenanced; or to find that, in treating of ness are periods of great danger. To sureligion as one of the pillars of order, he persede them, and introduce in their stead looks at it only as a system of moral disci- a system of daily school recreation under pline, and gravely places singing classes' in the eye of the master or his assistant, the very foremost rank of the means which would, he says, be an improvement, the the Roman Catholic Church possesses for importance of which can scarcely be calrecovering its hold on the minds of the peo- culated. Our anthor is also of opinion that ple. Even this division of religious duty

the abundant diffusión among the labouris to be indulged in, it appears, only by ing classes of well selected books, moral, children or adult males, being too exciting scientific, and entertaining, might be renfor grown-up females !

dered a powerful instrument of social imA large portion of our author's second provement. He warmly advocates the volume is devoted to the subject of educa- establishment of public libraries for the tion.

Among the points of difference be- poor, which at present are unknown in tween the two countries, those which Paris; and alludes in terms of high praise chiefly strike us as offering matter worthy to the plan, at once ingenious and econoof our consideratio!l

, and if possible of our mical, on which such libraries are conductadoption, are the anxiety shown in France ed in some parts of Scotland. * to postpone to as late an age as possible the period at which children are permitted * A central library is established, with a certain to enter the factories, and the system of number of dependent libraries attached to it. Supcontinuing their education after their work- posing the number of these to be five, each of them ing life has commenced, At Sedan, where is furnished with a sixth part of the entire collection

of books; retains them during half a year; and then the operative classes are remarkable for transfers them to the next station ; and so they are

*

In discussing the important subject of measure of reformation on this head is, we the residences of the poor, M. Frégier, conceive, a matter of urgent duty, nay of whilst he admits the extreme difficulty necessity. As our population becomes which must attend their improvement on a more and more dense, the present state of general scale, urges in the strongest terms things leads to deeper and deeper shades the duty of making the attempt. It is the of depravity; and each year the danger to government only, he says, that can do it the health of the metropolis becomes more with any prospect of success, as the ex- | imminent. Each year also, as the lower penses attendant on the erection of build-orders become more intelligent and more ings of the nature required are so great in sensibly alive to the advantages of social comparison with the rents to be obtained order, the discomfort of such abodes is from them, that it never could become a more acutely felt by them.

We are aware profitable investment of capital ; and be that the subject has of late been much uninstances some speculations of this kind der discussion; and we sincerely hope that which were made in 1823–4–5, and which the difficulties, great as they are, which for that reason failed entirely. The ac- surround it, will not dishearten the patriotic count which he gives of the inferior classes members of parliament who have directed of lodging-houses, and more especially of their attention towards it. the lodgings that are let out for the night, The number of persons living together are shocking; l'imagination, malgré sa in illicit connexion would appear to be fecondité et sa hardiesse, ne saurait attein- proportionately much greater in Paris than dre, en cette matière, à la hauteur de la in London. One especial cause of the exréalité;' yet we fear that still more fright- tent of this evil is stated by M. Frégier to ful pictures might be drawn by any indivi- be the great expense of the formal instrudual who, with energy and courage equal ments which the law requires prior to marto his, should penetrate into the lowest riage. It is true that in Paris itself these abysses of London. Some widely extended are delivered gratuitously, but only to

those persons who are inscribed as indi.

gent ; and when it is necessary to obtain moved on, half yearly, from station to station, until the documents from a distant part of the they return to the central depôt. Thus every division of the library completes its circuit in three years, country, the expense

becomes so great, and each locality has the use of six times as many and the process so difficult, as frequently books as its own separate outlay could command.

among

the poorer classes to render marWe should rejoice to see this plan adopted upon a Liberal scale throughout England. Under judicious riage almost impossible. The disadvantage management, and with a careful but not too severe

of this state of things became so apparent, selection of books, it might at the present time, when that a society was established under the the intellectual activity of the lower orders is rapidly title of · La Sociéte charitable de Saint augmenting, do the State incalculable good.

Buring the last three years barrack libraries have François Régis, for the express purpose of been established for the use of our army, both at remedying it. The members meet every home and abroad, and liberal funds to maintain Sunday evening to aid and assist all the them have been voted by parliament. These libra: well-disposed and poverty-stricken lovers ries are open from two o'clock to eight, and the sol. in Paris, as well as those who have already diers who wish to avail themselves of the arrangement pay a subscription of one penny a month. illicitly united themselves. The applicants Strict regulations are established for the due pre- on each day amount to nearly 300; and servation of the books, which, under certain condi- from the institution of the Society in 1826, tions, are allowed to be taken by the men to their quarters. The system has worked admirably; the to the 1st January, 1837, it had, with an number of subscribers rapidly increases; and the annual

not exceeding 10,000 library and the benches its entrance are crowded francs, afforded assistance to the celebrawith attentive readers. Very many are the instances tion of the marriages, civil and religious, in which young men, the whole of whose vacant time was formerly spent in the alehouse, have shaken of nearly 8000 indigent persons, and to of their habits of intemperance and become zealous the legitimating of many thousands of and regular students. Great judgment has been natural children, of whom the greater part shown by our military authorities in the selection had been removed by their parents from of the books. Some are of a grave and religious nature, many are historical, many scientific; those the Hospice des Enfans Trouvés. The sorelating to travels and voyages are numerous, and ciety has had the great satisfaction of a large proportion are works of imagination, both knowing that in nearly all the marriages of prose and verse. This is wise, whether homilies and theological treatises are or are not the best of this nature the first object of solicitude on works is not the question : books such as these will the part of the parents was to reunite their but rarely be read by young soldiers. We believe children to themselves; and that they have that in another department of government, where subsequently brought them up carefully the system of libraries was adopted, and where the and well. A similar society on a small book's were almost exclusively of a religious nature, the result has been far less satisfactory.

scale, but with equally beneficial results,

revenue

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »