French & English : A comparison

By Philip Gilbert Hamerton

The Project Gutenberg eBook of French & English, by Philip Gilbert

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and
most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms
of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at If you are not located in the United States, you
will have to check the laws of the country where you are located before
using this eBook.

Title: French & English
       A comparison

Author: Philip Gilbert Hamerton

Release Date: April 2, 2023 [eBook #70444]

Language: English

Produced by: Henry Flower, Krista Zaleski and the Online Distributed
             Proofreading Team at (This file was
             produced from images generously made available by The
             Internet Archive/Canadian Libraries)


FRENCH & ENGLISH [Illustration]


  A Comparison





  _All rights reserved_


In the years 1886 and 1887 the author contributed a series of seven
articles to the _Atlantic Monthly_, which bore the title of the present
volume, and are in great part absorbed in it. The book, however, is
essentially new, as it contains much more matter than the articles, and
the chapters are either hitherto unpublished or rewritten in a less
desultory order.

This work is not intended to be historical. It only professes to
compare the French and English of the second half of the nineteenth


It may be taken as typical of the author’s intentions that he has felt
uncertain which of the two nationalities he would put first in the
title, and that the question has been decided by a mere consideration
of euphony. If the reader cares to try the experiment of saying
“English and French,” and “French and English” afterwards, he will
find that the latter glides the more glibly from the tongue. There is
a tonic accent at the beginning of the word “English” and a dying away
at the end of it which are very convenient in the last word of a title.
“French,” on the other hand, comes to a dead stop, in a manner too
abrupt to be agreeable.

The supercilious critic will say that I am making overmuch of a
small matter, but he may allow me to explain why I put the Frenchmen
first, lest I be accused of a lack of patriotism. This book has not,
however, been written from a patriotic point of view; it is not
simply an exposition of the follies and sins of another nation for
the comparative glorification of my own, neither is it an example of
what Herbert Spencer has aptly called “anti-patriotism,” which is the
systematic setting down of one’s own countrymen by a comparison with
the superior qualities of the foreigner.

I should like to write with complete impartiality, if it were possible.
I have at least written with the most sincere desire to be impartial,
and that perhaps at the cost of some popularity in England, for certain
English critics have told me that impartiality is not patriotic, and
others have informed me of what I did not know before, namely, that I
prefer the French to my own countrymen.

It seems to me that the best patriotism does not consist in speaking
evil of another country, but in endeavouring to serve one’s own. There
are many kinds of service. That of a writer is above all things to
tell the truth and not to deceive his countrymen even when they wish
to be deceived. If he fails in veracity he is guilty of a kind of
treachery to his own country by giving it erroneous ideas or fallacious
information. Such treachery may become serious when the subject of
the volume is international. When public writers are patriotic in the
old narrow and perverse meaning of the term, that is to say, when
they are full of gall and injustice, when they systematically treat
the foreigner as a being who has neither rights, nor merits, nor
feelings, then, whether intentionally or not, they are urging their
own nation on the path that leads to war. When they endeavour to write
truly and justly about the foreigner, with a due consideration for his
different position and a fair recognition of his rights and feelings,
then they are favouring the growth of a conciliatory temper which,
when a difficulty arises, will tend to mutual concession and to the
preservation of peace. Is it better or worse for England that she
should maintain peaceful relations with her nearest neighbour, with
that nation which, along with herself, has done most for liberty and
light? That question may be answered by the experience of seventy years.

I have no illusions about friendship between nations. There will never
be any firm friendship between England and France, and a momentary
attachment would only cause me anxiety on account of the inevitable
reaction. All I hope for and all that seems to me really desirable is
simply mutual consideration. _That_ is possible, _that_ is attainable;
in the higher minds of both countries (with a few exceptions) it exists
already. If it existed generally in the people it would be enough to
prevent bloodshed. Any difficulty that arose between the two countries
would be met in a rational temper and probably overcome without leaving
rancour behind it. This has actually been done on one or two recent
occasions with complete success, a result due to the high patriotism of
the statesmen on both sides. A lower and more vulgar patriotism would
have aroused the passion of _chauvinisme_ which puts an end to all
justice and reason.

Whatever the spirit of justice may lead to in the correspondence of
statesmen, it is a sad hindrance to effect in literature. I am fully
aware of this, and know that, without justice, a more dashing and
brilliant book might easily have been written. _Just_ writing does
not amuse, but malevolence may be made extremely entertaining. What
is less obvious is that justice often puts her veto on those fine
effects of simulated indignation which the literary advocate knows to
be of such great professional utility. It is a fine thing to have an
opportunity for condemning a whole nation in one terribly comprehensive
sentence. The literary moralist puts on his most dignified manner when
he can deplore the wickedness of thirty millions of human beings. It is
ennobling to feel yourself better and greater than thirty millions, and
the reader, too, has a fine sense of superiority in being encouraged
to look down upon such a multitude. Justice comes in and says, “But
there are exceptions and they ought not to be passed over.” “That may
be,” replies the Genius of Brilliant Literature, “but if I stop to
consider these I shall lose all breadth of effect. Lights will creep
into my black shadows and I shall no longer appal with gloom. I want
the most telling oppositions. The interests of art take precedence over
commonplace veracity.”

The foreigner may be effectually dealt with in one of two ways. He
may be made to appear either ridiculous or wicked. The satire may
be humorous, or it may be bitter and severe. The French, with their
lighter temperament, take pleasure in making the Englishmen absurd.
The English, on their part, though by no means refusing themselves the
satisfaction of laughing at their neighbours, are not disinclined to
assume a loftier tone. It is not so much what is obviously ridiculous
in French people that repels as that which cannot be described without
a graver reprobation.

And yet, delightful as may be the pleasures of malice and
uncharitableness, they must always be alloyed by the secret misgiving
that the foreigner may possibly, in reality, not be quite so faulty as
we describe him and as we wish him to be. But the pleasure of knowing
the truth for its own sake, when there is no malice, is a satisfaction
without any other alloy than the regret that men should be no better
than they are.

One of my objects in this book has been to show real resemblances under
an appearance of diversity. Not only do nations deceive themselves
by names, but they seem anxious to deceive themselves and unwilling
to be undeceived. For example, in the matter of Government, there is
the deceptive use of the words “Monarchy” and “Republic.” When we are
told, for the sake of contrast, that England is a Monarchy and France
a Republic, it is impossible, of course, to deny that the statement
is nominally accurate, but it conveys, and is disingenuously intended
to convey, an idea of opposition that does not correspond with the
reality. The truth is that both countries have essentially the same
system of Government. In both we find a predominant Legislative
Chamber, with a Cabinet responsible to that Chamber, and existing by
no other tenure than the support of a precarious majority. The Chamber
in both countries is elected by the people, with this difference,
that in France the suffrage is universal and in England very nearly
universal. In short, the degree of difference that there is does
not justify the use of terms which would be accurate if applied to
countries so politically opposite as Russia and the United States.
Again, in the matter of religion, to say that France is “Catholic” and
England “Protestant” conveys a far stronger idea of difference than
that which would answer to the true state of the case. In each country
we find a dominant Orthodoxy, the Church of the aristocracy, with its
hierarchy of prelates and other dignitaries; and under the shadow
of the Orthodoxy, like little trees under a big one, we find minor
Protestant sects that have no prelates, and also tolerated Jews and
unbelievers. Stated in this way the real similarity of the two cases
becomes much more apparent, the most important difference (usually
passed over in silence) being that co-establishment exists in France
for two Protestant sects and for the Jews, whilst it does not exist in

It is an obstacle to accurate thinking when differences are made to
appear greater than they are by the use of misleading language.[1]
France and England are, no doubt, very different, as two entirely
independent nations are sure to be, especially when there is a marked
diversity of race, but the distance between them is perpetually
varying. I hope to show in this volume how they approach to and recede
from each other. The present tendency is strongly towards likeness,
as, for example, in the adoption by the English of the closure and
county councils, which are both French institutions; and it might
safely be predicted that the French and English peoples will be more
like each other in the future than they are now. Democracy in politics
and the recognition of complete liberty of conscience, both positive
and negative, in religion, will be common to both countries. Even in
matters of custom there is a perceptible approach, not to identity,
but to a nearer degree of similarity. The chauvinist spirit in both
countries recognises this unwillingly. A nobler patriotism may see in
it some ground of hope for a better international understanding.

As it is unpleasant for an author to see his opinions misrepresented,
I may be permitted to say that in politics I am a pure “Opportunist,”
believing that the best Government is that which is best suited to
the _present_ condition of a nation, though another might be ideally
superior. When a country is left to itself a natural law produces
the sort of Government which answers for the time. I look upon all
Governments whatever as merely temporary and provisional expedients,
usually of an unsatisfactory character, their very imperfection being
a sort of quality, as it reconciles men to the inevitable change. To
make a comparison far more sublime than our poorly-contrived political
systems deserve, they are moving like the sun with all his _cortège_ of
planets towards a goal that is utterly unknown. Or it is possible that
there may be no goal whatever before us, but only unending motion. The
experimental temper of our own age is preparing, almost unconsciously,
for an unseen and unimaginable future. It is our vain desire to
penetrate the secret of that future that makes all our experiments so
interesting to us. France has been the great experimental laboratory
during the last hundred years, but England is now almost equally
venturesome, and is likely, before long, to become the more interesting
nation of the two.

I believe Parliamentary Government to be the only system possible and
practicable in England and France at the present day. I believe this
without illusion and without enthusiasm. The parliamentary system is
so imperfect that it works slowly and clumsily in England, whilst in
France it can hardly be made to work at all. With two parties the
prize of succession is offered to the most eloquent fault-finder, with
three a Cabinet has not vitality enough for bare existence. At the
present moment the English Parliament inspires but little respect and
the French no respect whatever. Still we are parliamentarians, not for
the love of long speeches in the House, but from a desire to preserve
popular liberty outside of it. The distinction here between England
and France is that in France every parliamentarian is of necessity
a republican, a freely-elected parliament being incompatible with
monarchy in that country, whereas in England Queen Victoria, unlike her
predecessor Charles I., has made it possible for her subjects to be
parliamentarians and royalists at the same time.

In the variety of national and religious antipathies we sometimes
meet with strange anomalies. Whenever there is any conflict between
French Catholics and French Freethinkers the sympathy of all but a very
few English people is assured to the Catholics beforehand, without
any examination into the merits of the case, and the case itself is
likely to be stated in England in such a manner as to command sympathy
for the Catholics. This is remarkable in a country which is, on the
whole, Protestant, as the very existence of the French Protestants
(in themselves a defenceless minority) is due to the protection of
the Freethinkers. Without that strictly neutral protection Protestant
worship would no more be tolerated in France than it was in the city of
Rome when the Popes had authority there. I may also remind the English
reader that if genuine Catholics were to become masters of England
all Protestant places of worship would be shut up, and the Anglican
sovereign would have the alternative of Henri IV, whilst the heaviest
political and municipal disabilities would weigh upon all who did not
go to confession and hear mass. On the other hand, if Freethinkers,
such as the present generation of French politicians, were masters
of England, the worst evil to be apprehended would be the impartial
treatment of all religions, either by co-establishment as in France,
or by disestablishment as in Ireland. The bishops might be dismissed
from the House of Lords, but the bishops and clergy of all faiths would
be eligible for the House of Commons, as they are for the Chamber of

It is now quite a commonly-received opinion in England that religion
is “odiously and senselessly persecuted” in France, but nothing is
said against the Italian Government for its treatment of the monastic
orders. Neither does it occur to English writers that this is a case
of a mote in the neighbour’s eye and a beam in one’s own. The Catholic
Church has been robbed and pillaged by the French secular power,
which allows her nearly two millions sterling a year in compensation,
and keeps the diocesan edifices in excellent repair. The Catholic
Church has been robbed and pillaged by the English secular power,
which repairs none of her buildings and allows her nothing a year in
compensation. In France the Jewish and Dissenting clergy are paid by
the “persecuting” State, in England they get nothing from the State.
Catholic street processions are forbidden in many of the French towns;
in England they are tolerated in none. In France a Catholic may be the
head of the State; in England he is excluded from that position by law.
The French Government maintains diplomatic relations with the Holy See;
a Nuncio is not received at the Court of St. James’s.

The French Government is described as persecuting and tyrannical
because it has sent pretenders into exile after tolerating them for
sixteen years. The English Government never tolerated pretenders at
all, but kept them in exile from first to last--the _last_ being their
final extinction on foreign soil.

Another very curious and unfortunate anomaly is the instinctive
opposition of French Republicans to England. It exists in degrees
exactly proportioned to the degree of democratic passion in the
Frenchman. When he is a moderate Republican he dislikes England
moderately, a strong Republican usually hates her, and a radical
Republican detests her. These feelings are quite outside of the domain
of reason. England is nominally monarchical, it is true, but in
reality, as every intelligent Frenchman ought to know, she has set the
example of free institutions.

An hypothesis that may explain such anomalies as these, is that the
ancient national antipathy which our fathers expressed in bloodshed
has now, in each nation, taken the form of jealousy of the other’s
progress, so that although each enjoys freedom for herself she
can never quite approve of it in her neighbour. There is also the
well-known dislike to neutrals which in times of bitter contention
intensifies itself into a hatred even stronger than the hatred of the
enemy. The French Freethinker is a neutral between hostile religions,
and the English lover of political liberty is regarded as a sort
of neutral by Frenchmen, since he has neither the virulence of the
_intransigeant_ nor the vindictiveness of the _réactionnaire_.

In concluding this Preface I wish to say a few words about nationality
in ideas.

The _purity_ of nationality in a man’s ideas is only compatible with
pure ignorance. An English agricultural labourer may be purely English.
The gentleman’s son who learns Latin and Greek becomes partly latinised
and partly hellenised; if he learns to speak French at all well he
becomes, so far, gallicised. To preserve the pure English quality you
must exclude everything that is not English from education. You must
exclude even the natural sciences and the fine arts, as they have been
built up with the aid of foreigners and constantly lead to the study
of foreign works. These things do not belong to a nation but to the
civilised world, and England, as Rebecca said in _Ivanhoe_, is not the
world. Her men of science quote foreign authorities continually, her
painters and musicians are nourished, from their earliest youth, on
continental genius.

But although it is impossible for an educated man to preserve the
_purity_ of his mental nationality, that is, its exclusive and insular
character, although it is impossible for him to dwell in English ideas
only when foreign ideas are equally accessible to him, the fact remains
that the educated mind still includes far more of what is English than
the uneducated one. The man who is called “half a foreigner” because he
knows a foreign language may be more largely English than his critic.
A rich man may hold foreign securities and yet, at the same time, have
larger English investments than his poorer neighbour. Even with regard
to affection, there are Englishmen who love Italy far more passionately
than I have ever loved France, yet they love England as if they had
never quitted their native parish.

The _Saturday Review_ was once good enough to say that I am
“courteously careful not to offend.” It is satisfactory to be told that
one has nice literary manners, but I have never consciously studied
the art of avoiding offence, and in a book like this it does not seem
possible to avoid it. People are more sensitive for their nation
than they are even for themselves. They resent the simplest truths,
though stated quite without malice, if they appear to be in the least
unfavourable. One evening, at Victor Hugo’s house in Paris, a few of
his friends met, and the conversation turned by accident on a book of
mine, _Round my House_, then recently published. Gambetta, who was
present, was in a mood of protestation because I had said that the
French peasants were ignorant, and Victor Hugo was inclined to take
their part. The sentiment of patriotism was very ardent and sensitive
in Gambetta, so he could not allow a foreigner to say anything that
seemed unfavourable to France. Yet the French themselves have shown
that they were aware of the ignorance prevalent in their own country by
their praiseworthy efforts to remedy it.



  CHAP.                              PAGE

  1. PHYSICAL EDUCATION                                       1

  2. INTELLECTUAL EDUCATION                                  15

  3. ARTISTIC EDUCATION                                      31

  4. MORAL TRAINING                                          39

  5. THE EDUCATION OF THE FEELINGS                           47

  6. EDUCATION AND RANK                                      56


  1. PATRIOTIC TENDERNESS                                    65

  2. PATRIOTIC PRIDE                                         77

  3. PATRIOTIC JEALOUSY                                      85

  4. PATRIOTIC DUTY                                          91


  1. REVOLUTION                                             103

  2. LIBERTY                                                112

  3. CONSERVATISM                                           119

  4. STABILITY                                              129


  1. STATE ESTABLISHMENTS OF RELIGION                       141


  3. SOCIAL POWER                                           153

  4. FAITH                                                  159

  5. FORMALISM                                              167


  1. TRUTH                                                  181

  2. JUSTICE                                                198

  3. PURITY                                                 207

  4. TEMPERANCE                                             233

  5. THRIFT                                                 247

  6. CLEANLINESS                                            254

  7. COURAGE                                                261


  1. CHRONOLOGY                                             269

  2. COMFORT                                                285

  3. LUXURY                                                 291

  4. MANNERS                                                297

  5. DECORUM                                                307


  1. CASTE                                                  321

  2. WEALTH                                                 339

  3. ALLIANCES                                              353

  4. INTERCOURSE                                            363


  1. PERSONAL SUCCESS                                       375

  2. NATIONAL SUCCESS AT HOME                               390

  3. NATIONAL SUCCESS ABROAD                                406


  1. VARIETY IN BRITAIN                                     421

  2. VARIETY IN FRANCE                                      432

  EPILOGUE                                                           445





[Sidenote: Not much formal Physical Training in England.]

[Sidenote: English and Greeks.]

In England there is not much physical education of a formal and
methodical nature; the English are not remarkable for a love of
gymnastic exercises, and they seldom train or develop the body
scientifically except when they prepare themselves for boat races.
In saying this I leave out of consideration the small class of
professional athletes, which is not numerous enough to affect the
nation generally. It has been said, and by a French author, that of all
modern races the English come nearest, in the physical life, to the
existence of the ancient Greeks. The difference, however, between the
modern English and the Greeks of classic antiquity is mainly in this,
that the Greeks were a systematically trained people and the English
are not.

[Sidenote: Activity of the English.]

[Sidenote: Their irregular Training.]

[Sidenote: Advantage of Amusements.]

Still, the English are a remarkably active people, and they owe their
activity chiefly to a love of rural amusements and of the open air.
Thus, in an informal manner, they get a kind of unscientific training
which is of immense advantage to their health and vigour. A criticism
of this irregular training (which is not mine, as it comes from a
scientific gymnast) affirms that it develops the legs better than
the arms and chest, and that although it increases strength it does
not much cultivate suppleness. According to scientific opinion, more
might be made of the English people if they took as much interest in
gymnastic training as they do in their active amusements. The advantage
of these amusements is that they divert the mind, and so in turn have a
healthy influence on the body, independently of muscular exertion.

[Sidenote: Professor Clifford.]

There are exceptions to the usual English indifference about
gymnastics, and it may happen that the lover of gymnastics cares
less than others for the usual English sports. This was the case
with Professor Clifford. His biographer says: “At school he showed
little taste for the ordinary games, but made himself proficient in
gymnastics; a pursuit which at Cambridge he carried out, in fellowship
with a few like-minded companions,[2] not only into the performance
of the most difficult feats habitual to the gymnasium, but into the
invention of other new and adventurous ones. His accomplishments of
this kind were the only ones in which he ever manifested pride.”

[Sidenote: Choice of Physical Pursuits.]

[Sidenote: Gladstone.]

[Sidenote: Wordsworth. Scott. Byron.]

[Sidenote: Keats.]

[Sidenote: Shelley.]

[Sidenote: Tyndall.]

[Sidenote: Millais. Bright.]

[Sidenote: Trollope.]

[Sidenote: Palmerston.]

Many distinguished Englishmen have had some favourite physical
amusement that we associate with their names. It is almost a part of an
Englishman’s nature to select a physical pursuit and make it especially
his own. His countrymen like him the better for having a taste of this
kind. Mr. Gladstone’s practised skill in tree-felling is a help to his
popularity. The readers of Wordsworth, Scott, and Byron, all remember
that the first was a pedestrian, the second a keen sportsman, and the
third the best swimmer of his time. The readers of Keats are sorry
for the ill-health that spoiled the latter years of his short life,
but they remember with satisfaction that the ethereal poet was once
muscular enough to administer “a severe drubbing to a butcher whom he
caught beating a little boy, to the enthusiastic admiration of a crowd
of bystanders.” Shelley’s name is associated for ever with his love
of boating and its disastrous ending. In our own day, when we learn
something about the private life of our celebrated contemporaries,
we have a satisfaction in knowing that they enjoy some physical
recreation, as, for example, that Tyndall is a mountaineer, Millais a
grouse-shooter, John Bright a salmon-fisher; and it is characteristic
of the inveteracy of English physical habits that Mr. Fawcett should
have gone on riding and skating after he was blind, and that Anthony
Trollope was still passionately fond of fox-hunting when he was old
and heavy and could hardly see. The English have such a respect for
physical energy that they still remember with pleasure how Palmerston
hunted in his old age, and how, almost to the last, he would go down
to Epsom on horseback. There was a little difficulty about getting
him into the saddle, but, once there, he was safe till the end of his

[Sidenote: Cricket and Boating.]

[Sidenote: Cricket in France.]

[Sidenote: French _Lycées_.]

Cricket and boating are the trainers of English youth, and foreigners,
when they visit Eton, are astonished at the important place assigned to
these two pursuits. It is always amusing to an Englishman to read the
descriptions of the national game by which French writers attempt (of
course without success) to make it intelligible to their countrymen.
These descriptions are generally erroneous, occasionally correct, but
invariably as much from the outside as if the writer were describing
the gambols of strange animals. Whilst English and French have
billiards and many other games in common, cricket remains exclusively
and peculiarly English. It cannot be acclimatised in France. I believe
that some feeble attempts have been made, but without result. The game
could not be played in the gravelled courts of French _lycées_, under
a hundred windows, but this difficulty would be overcome if there
were any natural genius for cricket in the French race. A few of the
_lycées_ are in large towns, and far from possible cricket fields;
the majority are in small towns, not a mile from pasture and meadow.
The French seem to believe that all English youths delight in the
national game, but that is a foreigner’s generalisation. Some English
boys dislike it, and play only to please others, or because it is the
fashion amongst boys. However, most English boys have gone through the
training of cricket, though many give it up when they abandon Latin. It
is useful because it does not exercise the legs only, like walking, or
the arms and chest only, like rowing, but all the body.

[Sidenote: Tennis.]

[Sidenote: French Affinity for Gymnastics.]

[Sidenote: Military Drill.]

[Sidenote: Consequences of Neglect.]

[Sidenote: Military Exercises.]

[Sidenote: Duelling.]

The French would have had a tolerable equivalent for cricket if they
had kept up their own fine national game of tennis. Unfortunately the
costliness of tennis-courts has caused the abandonment of the game, and
this is the more to be regretted that the French system of education
in large public schools might have harmonised so conveniently with it.
Field tennis, the parent of modern English lawn tennis, might have been
kept up in the country. The present French tendency in exercises is
towards gymnastics and military drill. No one who has observed the two
peoples closely can doubt that the French have more natural affinity
for gymnastics than the English. This may be due in part to their less
lively interest in physical amusements. Not being so ready to amuse
themselves freely in active pastimes, they are more ready to accept
gymnastics as a discipline.[3] As for military drill, it is more and
more imposed upon the French by the military situation in Europe, so
that they would practise it whether they liked it or not; still, it
is certain that they have a natural liking and aptitude for military
exercises. The authorities who have directed public education in France
in the middle of the nineteenth century have treated physical exercise
with such complete neglect that a reaction is now setting in. It may be
doubted whether in any age or country the brain has been worked with
such complete disregard of the body as in France from 1830 to 1870. An
observer may see the consequences of that absurd education even now
in the stiff elderly men who never knew what activity is, the men who
cannot get into a boat quickly or safely, who never mounted a horse,
and who take curious precautions in getting down from a carriage.
The present generation is more active--the effects of gymnastics are
beginning to tell. The comprehensive conscription, which imposes
military exercises on almost every valid citizen, has also been, and
will be still more in the future, a great bodily benefit to the French
race. The maintenance of duelling in France, after its abandonment in
England, gives the French a certain advantage in the habitual practice
of fencing, which is learned seriously, as men only learn those things
on which living or life may one day depend. I need not expatiate on the
merits of fencing as an exercise. It increases both strength and grace,
as it is at the same time extremely fatiguing and exacting with regard
to posture and attitude. I am inclined to believe that fencing is the
finest exercise known.

[Sidenote: Pedestrianism.]

[Sidenote: Englishwomen and Frenchwomen.]

[Sidenote: French Peasants.]

[Sidenote: Riding on Horseback.]

[Sidenote: Cavalry and Artillery.]

[Sidenote: English Hunting.]

In ordinary pedestrianism there is not much difference between the two
countries except in the female sex, and there it is strongly marked.
Englishwomen who have leisure walk perhaps three or four times as much
as Frenchwomen in the same position. Young men in both countries may
be equally good walkers if they have the advantage of rural life. The
French peasants are slow pedestrians but remarkably enduring; they will
go forty or fifty miles in the twenty-four hours, being out all night,
and think nothing of it. Riding on horseback is much more practised in
England; the economy of the carriage, by which one horse can transport
several persons, and the excellent modern roads, had almost killed
equestrianism in France, but now there are some signs of a revival.
Here, too, the large national army has an excellent influence. Great
numbers of Frenchmen learn to ride in the cavalry and artillery, and
the captains of infantry are all mounted. There is not, in France, the
most valuable training of all, that of riding to hounds in the English
sense; and therefore it is probable that England could produce a far
greater number of horsemen able to leap well. As for style in riding,
that is a matter of taste, and national ideas differ. The French style
is derived chiefly from military examples, the English indirectly from
the hunting-field.

[Sidenote: False Ideals of Dignity.]

[Sidenote: French Ecclesiastics.]

[Sidenote: Exercises permitted to English Clergymen.]

[Sidenote: French Notions of Dignity.]

False ideals of dignity are very inimical to effective bodily exercise.
A foolish notion that it is more dignified to be seen in a carriage
than on horseback, has deprived all French ecclesiastics of the use
of the saddle. Their modes of locomotion are settled by a fixed rule;
they may walk (generally with the breviary in their hands, which they
read whilst walking), and the poor curé may now keep a small pony
carriage. A bishop must always ride in a close carriage drawn by a
pair of horses. A curé may drive himself; a bishop may not drive. In
England these rules are not so strict, as the clergy are not so widely
different from the laity. The English clergyman may ride on horseback
and be active in other ways; still, there is a prejudice even in
England against too much healthy activity in clergymen. Being on a
visit to a vicar in the north of England, I found that he possessed a
complete apparatus for archery. “That is a good thing for you,” I said;
but he looked melancholy, and answered, “It would be if my parishioners
permitted the use of it, but they talked so much that I was forced to
give up archery. They considered it unbecoming in a clergyman, who
ought to be attending to his parish. Had I spent the same time over
a decanter of port wine in my dining-room they would have raised no
objection.” The same clergyman was fond of leaping, but indulged that
passion in secret, as if it had been a sin. Still, these prejudices
are stronger in France. I never saw a French priest shoot, or hunt,
or row in a boat. It cannot be the cruelty of shooting and hunting
which prevents him, as he is allowed to fish with hooks; it is simply
the activity of the manlier sports that excites disapprobation. All
Frenchmen who care for their dignity avoid velocipedes of all kinds,
which are used only by young men, who are generally in the middle
class, such as clerks and shopkeepers’ assistants. In England, where
the prejudice against activity is not so strong, velocipedes are often
used by rather elderly gentlemen, who are not ashamed of being active.

[Sidenote: French Prejudice against Boating.]

[Sidenote: Present State of Boating in France.]

There was formerly an intense prejudice against boating in France. It
was considered low, and even immoral, being inextricably associated
in the popular mind with excursions in the worst possible feminine
society. Nobody in those days understood that sailing and rowing could
both be refined and pure pleasures. The first book published on amateur
boating in France appeared to authorise these prejudices by its own
intense vulgarity. Since then boating has gained in dignity, and there
are now regattas at most of the river-side towns, with beautifully
constructed boats and perfectly respectable crews. The whole tone of
the pursuit has changed; it has got rid of vulgar pleasantry, and has
become scientific, an improvement greatly helped by the excellent
scientific review _Le Yacht_. Many French boating men have been led
by their pursuit to a thorough study of construction and nautical
qualities. The only objection I have to make to French boating as
it exists to-day, is that it seems too dependent on the stimulus of
regattas, and carried on too exclusively with that object. The best
lover of boating follows it for itself, as a lover of reading does not
read only for a degree.

[Sidenote: Taste for Boating limited in France.]

[Sidenote: French Regatta Clubs.]

[Sidenote: The Nautical Passion.]

Although the French are now little, if at all, inferior to the English
either in rowing or sailing, the taste for these pursuits is limited
to comparatively few persons in France. If such a marvellously perfect
river as the Saône existed in England it would swarm with pleasure
craft of all kinds, but as it happens to be in France you may travel
upon it all day without seeing one white sail. There are, however,
three or four regatta clubs with excellent boats. I know one Frenchman
who delights in possessing sailing vessels, but never uses them, and
I remember a yachtsman whose ship floated idly on the water from one
regatta to another. Now and then you meet with the genuine nautical
passion in all its strength, with the consequence that it is perfectly
unintelligible to all wise and dignified citizens.

[Sidenote: Swimming.]

[Sidenote: Prevalence of Swimming in France.]

[Sidenote: Swimming in England.]

[Sidenote: Exceptional Excellence.]

[Sidenote: Low Average.]

Swimming is much more cultivated and practised in France than in
England. This is probably due in some degree to the hot French summers,
which warm the water so thoroughly that one may remain in it a long
time without chill. All along the Saône the boys learn swimming at a
very early age. It is the boast of the village of St. Laurent, opposite
Mâcon, that every male can swim. Ask one of the villagers if he is a
swimmer, and he does not answer “Yes,” but smiles significantly, and
says, “_Je suis de St. Laurent_.” Wherever a river provides a deep pool
it is used as a swimming bath. In England the accomplishment is much
more rare, and is usually confined to the middle and upper classes,
especially in the rural districts. When we read in the newspaper that
an English boat has capsized we always expect to find that most of
the occupants were unable to swim and sank to rise no more. Amongst
English sailors the art seems to be nearly unknown, and they have
even a prejudice against it as tending to prolong the agonies of
drowning. In the female sex, also, France takes the lead by the number
of ladies who can swim a little, though they have not a Miss Beckwith
amongst them, any more than Frenchmen can produce a Captain Webb.
It is characteristic of England, with her vigorous race, to produce
the finest and strongest swimmers, though her general average is
so deplorably low. One English family may be long remembered, that
of Vice-Chancellor Shadwell, who progressed grandly in the Thames,
followed by his nine sons.

[Sidenote: Dancing.]

Dancing used to be an essentially French exercise, and as it was
much practised in the open air it was conducive to healthy activity.
The best kind of dancing was that which used to bring together a few
peasant families in the summer evenings. The reader observes that I am
speaking of the past. In the present day dancing of that kind seems to
be almost entirely abandoned. Unhealthy dancing in small crowded rooms
is practised to some extent by the middle classes. As for the _bals
publics_, the fewer of them there are the better. In obvious ways,
and in ways that I can only hint at, they are injurious to the public

[Sidenote: Field Sports.]

[Sidenote: Shooting in France.]

[Sidenote: Game not over-abundant.]

In field sports the chief difference between France and England is
not a difference of taste for sport itself, but a difference in
game-preserving. In England this is carried to the utmost perfection
by the most artificial means and at enormous cost; in France this is
done only on a few estates, and ordinary game-preserving is very lax
and very economical. Often it is merely nominal. Some man with another
occupation is supposed to be the _garde_, and he walks over the estate
occasionally with a gun, killing a hare or a partridge for his private
use, and seldom arresting a poacher. Still, the shootings are supposed
to be worth something, as they are let, though at low prices. The
English believe that there is no game at all in France, except a few
partridges; and they might quote French humorists in support of this
opinion, as they have laughed at the Parisian sportsman and his empty
bags from time immemorial. However, as this is not a comic account,
but an attempt to tell the truth, I may say that for several years my
sons kept my larder very fairly supplied with game in the shooting
season, including hares, partridges, woodcocks, snipes, and wild ducks.
The neighbouring squires occasionally kill a deer or a wild boar, and
one nobleman has killed many wild boars, some of them magnificent
beasts. As a rule, a French sportsman walks much for little game, and
is himself quite aware that the game is a mere pretext; the exercise
is the real object. If the English reader thinks this ridiculous, I
may remind him that English fox-hunting is an application of the same
principle. A hundred horsemen follow a single fox, and when he is
killed they do not even eat him.[4]

[Sidenote: French Hunting.]

There is nothing that resembles English hunting in France. French
hunting is pretty and picturesque, with some remnant of old-world
costume and ceremonial, and it affords some exercise in riding about
the roads through the dense forests, but as a training in horsemanship
it is not comparable to such hunting as I have witnessed in Yorkshire.
French farmers and peasant proprietors would never permit a regiment
of gentlemen to spoil their fences; that can only be done in a very
aristocratic country.

[Sidenote: Contrast between Classes in regard to the Physical Life.]

[Sidenote: The desirable Ideal.]

[Sidenote: Apparatus of the English Aristocracy.]

[Sidenote: Access to Natural Beauty.]

As to the physical life, both England and France present the same
contrasts, but they are more striking in England. There you have an
active and vigorous upper class much enjoying the open air, and a
lower class in the big towns living without either pure air or healthy
exercise. The physical quality of the race is well maintained, and
even improved, at one end of the scale, and deteriorated at the other.
Unfortunately the class which deteriorates, the lowest urban class, is
not only the more numerous, but also reckless in reproduction, so that
its power for degradation is greater than the aristocratic conservative
or improving power. The ideal would be a whole nation physically equal
to the English aristocracy. That aristocracy has undoubtedly set the
example of healthy living, but the objection is that its fine health
costs too much. With its immense apparatus of guns, yachts, and horses,
its great army of servants, its extensive playgrounds, the aristocracy
sets an example that cannot be followed by the poor man, shut up in
the atmosphere of a factory all day and sleeping in an ill-drained
street at night. The rich have another immense advantage in the free
access to natural beauty, which is favourable to cheerfulness and
therefore indirectly to health. The ancient Greeks, who led the perfect
physical life, were surrounded by noble scenery, glorious in colour.
Compare the foul sky and spoilt landscape of Manchester with the purple
hills, brilliant sunlight, wondrously clear atmosphere, and waters of
intensest azure, that surrounded the City of the Violet Crown!

[Sidenote: English and French Middle Classes.]

[Sidenote: Peasants.]

[Sidenote: Factory Population.]

Putting aside the aristocracies of both countries, which may live
as healthily as they please, let us examine the state of the middle
classes and the common people. The middle classes in both take
insufficient out-door exercise, their occupations are too confining
and too sedentary, they stiffen prematurely, and after that are fit
for nothing but formal walks. Their physical life is lower than that
of the aristocracy and lower than that of the agricultural population.
The two greatest blessings in our time for the English of the middle
class have been velocipedes and volunteering. France has one advantage
over England in the numbers of the peasant class, which leads a healthy
and active life, though its activity is of a slow and plodding kind.
The factory population, proportionally much larger in England, is more
unfavourably situated. It undergoes wasting fatigue in bad over-heated
air, but it does not get real exercise; consequently, whilst the
aristocracy keeps up its strength, the factory population deteriorates.

[Sidenote: Comparison of the two Races.]

A comparison of English and French physical qualities leads to the
following conclusions. The English are by nature incomparably the finer
and handsomer race of the two; but their industrial system, and the
increasing concentration in large towns, are rapidly diminishing their
collective superiority, though it still remains strikingly visible in
the upper classes. The French are generally of small stature,[5] so
that a man of middle height in England is a tall man in France, and
French soldiers in their summer fatigue blouses look to an Englishman
like boys. Still, though the ordinary Frenchman is short, he is often
muscular and capable of bearing great fatigue, as a good pony will. His
shortness is mainly in the legs, yet he strides vigorously in marching.

[Sidenote: The Physical Future of the English and French Races.]

One cannot look to the physical future of either race without the
gravest anxiety. Unless some means be found for arresting the decline
caused by industrialism and the rapid using-up of life in large
cities, it will ruin both races in course of time. Already the French
physicians recognise a new type, sharp and sarcastic mentally, with
visible physical inferiority, the special product of Paris. The
general spread of a certain education is indisposing the French for
that rural peasant life which was their source of national health, and
the population of England is crowding into the large towns. There are
two grounds of hope, and only two. The first is the modern scientific
spirit, with its louder and louder warnings against the neglect of the
body; the second is the extension of military training, of which I
shall have more to say in another chapter.



England and France have been governed, since the Renaissance, by the
same ideas about intellectual education, though there have been certain
differences in the application of these ideas.

[Sidenote: Latin and Greek.]

[Sidenote: Latin in France.]

Educators in both countries have persistently maintained the
incomparable superiority of Latin and Greek over modern languages,
not only for their linguistic merits, but also on the ground that the
literature enshrined in them was infinitely superior to any modern
literature whatever. French education insisted chiefly upon Latin.
Frenchmen take “learning” to be equivalent to Latin. They call a man
_instruit_ when he has learned Latin, although he may have a very
limited acquaintance with Greek, and they say that one _a fait des
études incomplètes_ when he has not taken his bachelor’s degree, which
implies that bachelors have made _des études complètes_ though they
know Greek very imperfectly.

[Sidenote: Greek in England.]

In England Latin was considered necessary, but Greek was the great
object of achievement. A “scholar,” in England, means especially a
Greek scholar. One may be a scholar without Hebrew or Arabic, but
certainly not without Greek. The ordinary level of French attainment
in Hellenic studies appears contemptible to the English of the learned

[Sidenote: The Principle common to both Countries.]

[Sidenote: Dignity of the Teacher.]

[Sidenote: Antiquity and Mystery.]

[Sidenote: Hieratic quality of the dead Languages.]

[Sidenote: Latin Quotations.]

However, the principle was the same in both countries, and may be
expressed in terms applicable to both. That principle was the choice
of an ancient language that could be taught authoritatively by the
learned in each country. They can never teach a modern language
in that authoritative way, as in modern languages their degree of
accomplishment must always be inferior to that of the educated
native. When the teacher assumes great dignity it is essential to its
maintenance that he should be secure from this crushing rivalry, and
this security can be given by an ancient language alone. Besides this
professional consideration there is the effect of antiquity, and of a
certain mystery, on the popular mind. So long as the people could be
made to believe that a lofty and peculiar wisdom, not communicable in
translations, was enshrined in Latin and Greek words, the learned were
supposed to be in possession of mysterious intellectual advantages.
There was even an hieratic quality in the dead languages. Closely
connected with religion, they were the especial study of priests, and
communicated by them to the highest classes of the laity. They belonged
to the two most powerful castes, the sacerdotal and the aristocratic.
Even yet the French village priest not only says mass in Latin, but
makes quotations in Latin from the Vulgate when preaching to illiterate
peasants. He appeals in this way to that reverence for, and awe of,
mysterious words which belongs to the uncultured man. He knows, but
does not tell his humble audience, that the Vulgate is itself a
translation, and that, were it not for the effect of mystery, he might
equally give the passage in French.

[Sidenote: French Contempt for Modern Literatures.]

In the same way a knowledge, or even a supposed knowledge, of Latin
gave laymen an ascendency over the lower classes and over women in
their own rank. It was easy for a Frenchman who knew no English to
declare to a French audience equally ignorant that the whole vast range
of English literature was not worthy of comparison with what has come
down to us from ancient Rome. He could class English authors in the two
categories of barbarians who knew nothing of antiquity and imitators
who feebly attempted to copy its inimitable masterpieces. The only
education worthy of the name was that which he himself possessed, and
those literatures that he did not know were simply not worth knowing.

[Sidenote: Conventionalism.]

[Sidenote: Inconsistency.]

[Sidenote: Learning and Ignorance.]

The intensely conventional nature of these beliefs, both in France
and England, may be proved by their inconsistency. It was laid down
as a principle that a knowledge of ancient books through translations
was not knowledge, yet at the same time the clergy, with very few
exceptions, were dependent on translations for all they knew of the
Old Testament, and few French laymen had Greek enough even to read
the Gospels. In either country you may pass for a learned man though
destitute of any critical or historical knowledge of the literature of
your native tongue. One may be a learned Englishman without knowing
Anglo-Saxon, or a learned Frenchman though ignorant of the _langue

[Sidenote: Modern Tendencies.]

[Sidenote: Thoroughness of Modern Study.]

[Sidenote: Proposed Abandonment of the Classics. M. Raoul Frary.]

[Sidenote: Professor Seeley’s Proposal.]

The close of the nineteenth century is marked by two tendencies that
seem opposed yet are strictly consistent, being both the consequence
of an increased desire for reality in education. One is a tendency
to much greater thoroughness in classical studies themselves, and the
other a tendency, every day more marked, to abandon those studies
when true success is either not desired, or in the nature of things
unattainable. The greater thoroughness of modern study is sufficiently
proved by the better quality of the books which help the learner, and
the most remarkable point in the apparently contradictory condition
of the modern mind is that the age which has perfected all the
instruments for classical study is the first age since the Renaissance
to propose seriously its general, though not universal, abandonment. M.
Raoul Frary, himself a scholar, has been so impressed by the present
imperfection and incompleteness of classical studies that he has
seriously proposed the abolition of Latin as a compulsory study for
boys. “Only one thing,” he says, “could justify the crushing labour of
beginning Latin, that would be the full possession and entire enjoyment
of the ancient masterpieces, and that is precisely what is wanting to
the crowd of students. They leave school too soon, and the later years
are too much crowded with work to allow any time for reading.” For the
same reason, the uselessness of partly learned Latin as an instrument
of culture, Professor Seeley wisely proposes to defer the commencement
of that study to the age of fourteen,[6] and spend the time so gained
on English. Greek, I conclude, he would defer for two or three years
longer. Not only M. Frary, but some other Frenchmen who appreciate
Greek for themselves, would exclude it entirely from the _lycées_.
“Amongst the young men,” he says, “who come out of our colleges, not
one in ten is able to read even an easy Greek author, not one in a
hundred will take the trouble. We will not discuss the question whether
our youth ought to cease to learn Greek. They do not learn it, the
question is settled by the fact.”

[Sidenote: Opinion of Masters in French _Lycées_.]

[Sidenote: Mental Gymnastics.]

With my deference on these questions to those who are accustomed to
teaching, I have submitted M. Frary’s book (_La Question du Latin_) to
two or three masters in _lycées_, and their answer to it is this. They
say: “It is quite true that, considered as an acquisition, the Greek
taught in _lycées_ does not count, and though Latin is learned much
better the pupils gain a very small acquaintance with Latin literature,
and that chiefly by fragments; nevertheless, we do unquestionably find
that, as gymnastics, these studies cannot be replaced by anything else
that we know of. There are now pupils who do not study Latin or Greek,
and we find that when they are brought into contact with the others _on
other subjects_ their intelligence seems undeveloped and inflexible. It
is difficult, and often impossible, to make them understand things that
are plain to the classical students.”[7]

[Sidenote: Modern Languages.]

[Sidenote: In French Public Schools.]

[Sidenote: Quality of the Teachers.]

[Sidenote: A Hatter.]

[Sidenote: A Cook.]

[Sidenote: Examination.]

[Sidenote: Experience of F. Sarcey.]

[Sidenote: The _École Normale_.]

Here I leave this _Question du Latin_, regretting only that the
quickened intelligence of classical students should fail to master
their own particular study. The value of modern languages, as a
discipline, cannot easily be ascertained, because they are rarely
studied in that spirit. They have been systematically kept in a
position of inferiority, by giving them insufficient time and by
employing incompetent masters. They were established as a study in the
French public schools by a royal ordinance, dated March 26, 1829, but
M. Beljame[8] tells us that nothing was done to insure the competence
of the teachers. These were picked up entirely by accident. “The
masters of those days were generally political exiles, and even the
best educated amongst them had never previously thought of teaching.
When they were French no better qualifications were required. A member
of the University told me that he had had for teachers of English
in the State schools, first, the town hatter, who had a business
connection with England, then the cook from the best hotel, who had
exercised his art on the other side the Channel. These gentlemen were
good enough to give some of their leisure moments to the University.
No examination was required, either from foreigners or Frenchmen.
Foreigners were supposed to know their language; as for the others,
some functionary, usually quite ignorant of every European tongue,
put the question, ‘Do you know German?’ or, ‘Do you know English?’
The candidate answered ‘Yes,’ and received at once the necessary
authorisation.” Francisque Sarcey, in his _Souvenirs de Jeunesse_,
tells us that in his time the hour nominally devoted to English was
passed at leap-frog, that being the traditional way of spending it.
Even at the _École Normale_ the teaching of modern languages was
entrusted to a pupil, and if no pupil happened to possess a knowledge
of English or German some teacher was sought elsewhere.

[Sidenote: State of Things in 1888.]

[Sidenote: Quality of Present Teachers.]

[Sidenote: Improvement in the Class of Teachers in France.]

These were the miserable beginnings. In the present year (1888) the
study of modern languages is better established in France than in
England. It is obligatory in secondary education. Teachers in the
_lycées_ are required to be either _bacheliers ès lettres_ or to have
a corresponding foreign degree, and it is hoped that before long the
_licence ès lettres_ (equivalent to the English mastership) will be
exacted. They have to pass a special linguistic examination for a
certificate before they can teach in the _lycées_. This examination is
a serious test, but it is much less severe than the competitive trial
for the _agrégation_. The certificate gives the rank of a _licencié_,
the _agrégation_ that of a Fellow of the University. Every year the
candidates are of a better class. M. Beljame says that he knows thirty
teachers of English who were already _licenciés_, and amongst the
candidates in 1884 twelve had already taken that degree. In short, the
teachers of modern languages are now rapidly assuming the same position
in the University as the classical masters; and it is only just that
they should do so, since they have the same general culture, and their
special examinations are more searching. For example, the candidate for
the _agrégation_ has to lecture twice, before the examiners at the
Sorbonne and in public, once in English and once in French.

[Sidenote: Teachers of Modern Languages in England. Their low Status.]

[Sidenote: Supposed Facility of Modern Languages.]

In England the teachers of modern languages pass no examinations and
have no dignity. They are often required to render services outside of
their special work. They are wretchedly paid, have no sort of equality
with classical masters, and are considered to belong to an inferior
grade. When they are foreigners they are looked upon as poor aliens.
The belief that modern languages are easy, although erroneous, is
against them, the truth being that the pupils do not go far enough in
these languages to become aware of the real difficulties. They think
that Italian is easy, not knowing that there are two thousand irregular
verbs, and they think that French is easy, not knowing that French
boys, specially drilled and disciplined in their own tongue, have to be
wary to avoid its pitfalls.

[Sidenote: Quality of the Pupils in France.]

[Sidenote: Rarity of Learning in Modern Languages.]

[Sidenote: The Practical Difficulty.]

The results of the improved teaching of modern languages have not yet
had time to become visible in France. Teachers tell me that amongst
their pupils a certain proportion show a natural taste and aptitude,
and take heartily to their work.[9] The rest count for nothing, and
will retain only a limited vocabulary. In England some knowledge of
modern languages is, as yet, much more general, but it seldom reaches
the degree of what can be seriously called “learning.” The practical
difficulty is that the unripe minds of young students, especially of
young ladies, are not ready for the strongest books, and they take no
interest in the history and development of a language, so they soon
fall back upon the easy and amusing literature of the present, to
the neglect of the great authors. That is the misfortune of modern
languages as an intellectual pursuit.

[Sidenote: Rare Appreciation of Foreign Poetry.]

[Sidenote: Blank Verse.]

[Sidenote: Rhyme.]

[Sidenote: Expletive Phrases.]

[Sidenote: Difficulties in English Poetry for Frenchmen.]

[Sidenote: English Difficulties with French Verse.]

[Sidenote: Technical Workmanship.]

It very rarely happens that a reader of either nationality has any
appreciation of the poetry of the other. We may begin by setting aside
that immense majority of prosaic minds which exist in all countries,
and for whom all poetry must be for ever unintelligible. After them
come those lovers of poetry who enjoy rhyme but cannot hear the music
of blank verse. The French are in that position with regard to English
poetry, though they claim an appreciation of blank verse in Horace
and Virgil. Then, even in rhymed poetry, there remains the prodigious
difficulty of pronunciation. Sound and feeling must go together in
poetry, but the foreigner rarely has the sound. And even if he could
imitate sounds exactly there would still remain the lack of those early
associations to which poets are constantly appealing, both by subtle
allusion and by the affectionate choice of words. The foreigner, too,
has a difficulty in gliding over the unimportant expletive phrases;
they acquire too much consequence in his eyes. The conventionalisms
of the art strike the foreigner too forcibly. When an Englishman,
in reading his own language, follows poetic ideas, a Frenchman is
embarrassed by what seems to him the lawlessness of the versification,
and he seeks for rules. On the other hand, the elaborate rules of
French versification seem pedantic to an English mind, which perceives
no necessary connection between such artificial restraints and the
agile spirit of poetry. Was ever yet English scholar so learned that he
could feel properly shocked by what shocks a French critic in verse?
How is the foreigner to disengage the poetic from the conventional
element? Since both English and French scholars believe that they have
mastered all the secrets of Greek and Latin versification, it might be
inferred that there is no insuperable difficulty in that of a modern
tongue; yet where is the Englishman, except Swinburne, who in reading a
French poem knows good technical workmanship when he sees it?

[Sidenote: Conventionalism of French Ignorance.]

[Sidenote: A proposed English Academy.]

French ignorance of English literature would be amazing if it were not
the result of a conventionalism. It is conventionally “ignorance” in
France not to have heard of Milton; it is not ignorance never to have
heard of Spenser. A Frenchman is ignorant if the name of Byron is not
familiar to him, but he need not know even the names of Shelley and
Keats. He is not required, by the conventionalism of his own country,
to know anything whatever of living English genius. A London newspaper
amused itself with sketching a possible Academy for England, and named
some eminent Englishmen as qualified to be members. The names included
Browning, Ruskin, Arnold, Lecky, and other first-rate men. On this,
certain Parisian journalists were infinitely amused. Their sense of the
ludicrous was irresistibly tickled when they saw that individuals like
these, whom nobody had ever heard of, could be proposed as equivalents
for the forty French immortals.

[Sidenote: Rarity of Conversational Accomplishment in Foreign Tongues.]

[Sidenote: The Foreigner in Society.]

Independently of learning, modern languages are supposed to be useful
for conversation. They are, however, very rarely studied or practised
to the degree necessary for that use. The foreigner may be able to
order his dinner at his hotel and ascertain when the train starts, but
in cultivated society he only pretends to be able to follow what is
said. His impressions about the talk that is going on around him are
a succession of misunderstandings. He sits silent and smiling, and he
endeavours to look as if he were not outside and in the dark; but he
_is_ in the dark, or, worse still, surrounded by deceptive glimpses. It
would be better if French or English were like Chinese for him.

[Sidenote: The Future.]

[Sidenote: Abandonment of Latin and Greek.]

[Sidenote: An _élite_.]

[Sidenote: Modern Languages.]

[Sidenote: Men remain on their own Level.]

[Sidenote: Languages do not elevate the Mind.]

[Sidenote: Mean Use made of Languages.]

The future towards which we are rapidly tending may already be seen in
the distance. Latin and Greek will be given up for ordinary schoolboys,
both in England and France, but the study of them will be maintained by
a small _élite_. This _élite_ will have a better chance of existence in
England, where superiorities of all kinds are not only tolerated but
respected, than it can have in France, where the modern instincts all
tend to the formation of an immensely numerous, half-educated middle
class. When the classical literatures shall be pursued, as the fine
arts are now, by their own elect, and not imposed on every incapable
schoolboy, they will be better studied and better loved. Now, with
regard to modern languages I have no illusions left. You cannot convert
a Philistine into a lover of good literature by teaching him a foreign
tongue. If he did not love it in his own language, he is not likely to
take to it in another. Every man has his own intellectual level, and
on that level he will remain, whatever language you teach him. To make
a Frenchman appreciate Milton or Spenser, it is not enough to teach
him English; you would have to endow him with the poetic sense, with
the faculty that delights in accompanying a poet’s mind--in a word,
with all the poetic gifts except invention. Neither are all men fit to
read noble prose. Minds incapable of sustained attention read newspaper
paragraphs in English, and in French they would still read newspaper
paragraphs. What I mean is that languages do not elevate the mind, they
merely extend the range of its ordinary action. Teach a French gossip
English and she will gossip in two languages, she will not perceive
the futility of gossiping. This explains the poor and mean use that is
constantly made of modern languages by many who have acquired them,
and the remarkable unanimity with which such people avoid every great
author, and even all intelligent intercourse with foreigners, reading
nothing and hearing nothing that is worth remembering.

[Sidenote: Hollow Pretensions.]

[Sidenote: Smallness of the Studious Class.]

[Sidenote: Idleness of the unintellectual.]

[Sidenote: Libraries in French Houses.]

[Sidenote: Expenditure on Books in England.]

In all things connected with education we are in a world of hollow
pretensions. The speeches at prize distributions assume that pupils
will make use of their knowledge afterwards. They are told that the
wonderful literatures of Greece and Rome now lie open before them
like gardens where they have but to wander and cull flowers. If they
have studied modern languages they are told that European literature
is theirs. The plain truth is, that both in England and France, and
especially in France, there is a small studious class isolated in the
midst of masses occupied with pleasure or affairs, and so indifferent
to intellectual pursuits that the slightest mental labour is enough
to deter them. Whatever reading they do is in the direction of least
resistance. They have no enterprise, they find all but the easiest
reading irksome, and the obstacle of the easiest foreign language
insurmountable. They will play cards or dominoes in the day-time
rather than take down a classic author from his shelf. A guest in a
French château told me that on seeing the ennui that reigned there,
whilst nobody read anything, she asked if there were any books in the
house, and was shown into a library of classics formed in a previous
generation but never opened in this. All testimony that comes to me
about French interiors confirms the belief that the number of people
who form libraries has greatly diminished. It was once the custom in
the upper class, but nobody would say that it is the custom now. In
twelve or fifteen country houses known to a friend of mine there was
only one library, and, what is more significant, only one man deserving
the name of a reader. Even in England, where people read certainly
three times as much as they do in France, the expenditure on books
bears no proportion to income, except in the case of a few scholars.
How many English houses are there, of the wealthy middle class, where
you could not find a copy of the representative English authors, and
where foreign literatures are unknown!

[Sidenote: English knowledge of the Bible.]

[Sidenote: Possibility of Future Neglect.]

Unknown--with one exception. The belief that Hebrew literature is one
book, and that it was written by God himself, and that the English
translation of it has a peculiar sanctity, has given the English middle
class a familiarity with that literature which is a superiority over
the French middle class. The French Catholic laity only knows the Bible
through _l’Histoire Sainte_ and selections; the unbelievers take
no interest in it. Nothing surprises an Englishman more than French
ignorance of the Bible; yet it is probable that if ever the English
cease to believe in the dogma of inspiration they will neglect the
whole Bible as they neglect the Apocrypha now.

[Sidenote: Scientific Education.]

[Sidenote: Usefully educated Young Men.]

[Sidenote: Sacrifice of the Superfluous.]

[Sidenote: Effects of the Loss of Literature.]

Science has a stronger basis than literature in modern education
because it offers useful results. In France the usefully educated young
men are well educated in their way. The time spent on their education
is strictly economised with a view to a definite result, and the effect
of it is to turn out numbers of young men from the _École Centrale_ and
other schools who at once enter upon practical duties with a readiness
that speaks much for the system. They are, however, so specially
prepared that they have omitted the useless and the superfluous--“_le
superflu, chose si nécessaire!_” In cutting away the superfluous
the practical educator throws literature overboard. Well, without
literature, it is still possible to sharpen the faculties and store the
mind, but without literature education misses what is best and most
interesting in the world. To a generation “usefully” educated Europe
will be like a new continent destitute of memories and associations, a
region where there are mines to be worked and railways to be made.

[Sidenote: French Secondary Education.]

As the French system of secondary education extends over the whole
country, an account of the most important changes in it may be worth
giving in a few words.

[Sidenote: The Old System.]

[Sidenote: The _Bifurcation_.]

[Sidenote: The _Bifurcation_ did not work well.]

The old system, from the time of Napoleon I. to the middle of the
century, was founded on classical studies, with lighter scientific
studies and those chiefly mathematical. After taking their bachelor’s
degree, those students who were intended for certain Government
schools (_Écoles Polytechnique_, _Centrale_, _Normale supérieure pour
les sciences_) received further scientific instruction in special
classes. This was the old system, but in 1853 an important change was
introduced by M. Fortoul’s ministry, which invented what was long
known as the _bifurcation_. On leaving the fourth class, at the age of
thirteen or fourteen, pupils were required to choose between literary
studies with a slight scientific supplement or the converse. Both kinds
of students continued at that time to attend together the lectures on
history and geography, and so much of modern languages as was then
taught, besides the classes for Latin translation and the French
classes. This was the system known as the _bifurcation_, but it did not
work very well in practice, because the scientific students fell too
far behind the literary students to follow profitably the same Latin

[Sidenote: The _Enseignement Spécial_.]

In October 1864, under Duruy’s ministry, there was a new departure.
He established the _enseignement secondaire spécial_. This scheme of
teaching excluded Latin, which was replaced by a modern language,
and it embraced rather an extensive programme, outside of classical
studies, with such subjects as mathematical and natural science,
political economy, and law.

[Sidenote: Present State of the _Enseignement Spécial_.]

Under the existing system the _enseignement spécial_ includes two
modern languages instead of one, and of these one is taken as
“principal,” the other as “accessory,” at the student’s choice, he
being more severely examined in that which he selects as “principal.”
The present varieties of public secondary education may be described
under three heads.

[Sidenote: Present Varieties in French Secondary Education.]

1. Ancient languages, with a little science and one modern language.

2. Scientific education, with a little Latin and one modern language.

3. Scientific education, with two modern languages, no Latin.

[Sidenote: Necessity for using Acquirements.]

Enough has been already said in this chapter on the degrees of
proficiency attained. My own belief is that no acquirement whatever
really becomes our own until we make constant use of it for ourselves,
and it is impossible to make a constant use of more than a very few
acquirements. It is here, in my opinion, that is to be found the true
explanation of that perpetual disappointment which attends almost all
educational experiments. They may provide the instrument; they cannot
insure its use. This is what makes professional education, of all
kinds, so much more real than any other, and the scientific professions
do certainly keep up the scientific spirit. There is not any profession
(certainly not school-teaching or hack-writing) which maintains the
pure literary spirit in the same way.



[Sidenote: Qualities of French Art Education.]

[Sidenote: Serious Nature of French Teaching.]

In both music and drawing the French have shown themselves far better
educators than in languages. Their ways of teaching drawing are
especially marked by seriousness, by the discouragement of false,
ignorant, and premature finish, by the wise use of simple and common
materials, and by the consistent aim at sound knowledge rather than
vain display. As the French have taught painting and sculpture they are
both most serious pursuits; I mean that, if the French may often have
been frivolous in the subsequent employment of their knowledge, they
were assuredly not frivolous in the acquisition of it. For them the
fine arts have been a discipline, a culture that has penetrated beyond
the artist class.

[Sidenote: French Disinterestedness.]

[Sidenote: Generosity of distinguished French Artists.]

The seriousness of French teaching has been accompanied by an admirable
disinterestedness. Artists of the highest reputation, every hour of
whose time was valuable, have been willing to undertake the direction
of private schools of painting on terms that barely paid the rent of
the studio and the hire of models. There they have given the most
sincere and kindly advice to hundreds of students, both Frenchmen
and foreigners, from whom they had nothing to expect but a little
gratitude, and, perhaps, the reflected honour of having aided one or
two youths of genius amidst a crowd of mediocrities.

[Sidenote: Extension of Art Teaching in England.]

[Sidenote: Results in the Improvement of English Taste and Skill.]

In England this kind of teaching is all but unknown, yet a certain
culture of the faculties by means of drawing is incomparably more
general than it was in the beginning of the century. The total number
of “persons taught drawing, painting, or modelling through the agency
of the Science and Art Department” is now approaching a million, and
this independently of the considerable numbers of young English people
who study art privately or in other schools. The result of this culture
is already plainly visible in the wonderful improvement of English
taste and skill in everything that art can influence, an improvement
that nobody could have foreseen in the first half of the present

[Sidenote: French Efforts in Popular Art Education.]

In France, too, great efforts have been made to spread a knowledge of
sound elementary drawing amongst the people. It is now a part of the
regular course of education for the middle classes in the _lycées_,
and there are cheap public drawing schools all over the country. In
England this is a new enterprise, in France it is an attempt to recover
lost ground; as the French workmen of the eighteenth century were
certainly more artistic than their successors, and must have understood
design more thoroughly. Even in the Middle Ages, as we know from the
excellence of the work left to us, the common workmen cannot have been
ignorant of art.

[Sidenote: The real Motive.]

[Sidenote: France and England not Artistic Nations.]

[Sidenote: French Provincial Towns.]

[Sidenote: The Argument for the Beautiful.]

[Sidenote: Value of Beautiful Surroundings.]

The real motive for this modern increase in art-culture is not the
disinterested love of art, it is the desire for commercial success.
France and England are not now really artistic nations. In the French
provincial cities the modern buildings, which are so rapidly replacing
what remains of the mediæval ones, display, as a rule, no artistic
invention whatever, and if the English people were suddenly to awake
one morning with an artist’s passion for the beautiful they would
not be able to endure the prevalent ugliness of their towns. Still,
though the nations are not artistic, both races produce exceptional
persons who are so, and these are allowed to have their own way more
than formerly in the warfare that they wage against the hideous or
the commonplace. Their argument in favour of the beautiful is the
very simple one that it makes life pleasanter and, so far, happier,
and in some of them this argument takes the kindly form of desiring,
especially, to make beautiful things accessible to the poor. They might
even go further, and affirm that beautiful surroundings are favourable
to health, which they certainly are, by ministering to gaiety and
cheerfulness and so increasing the charm of life. The perception of
this truth would produce a very close alliance between philanthropic
and artistic spirits, as we see already in the generous and thoughtful
founders of the Manchester Art Museum.

[Sidenote: Art in Lancashire.]

[Sidenote: A former artistic Condition.]

[Sidenote: The unspoiled Beauty of Nature.]

[Sidenote: The Industrial Epoch.]

Art education is an attempt to return consciously to conditions of
life which have long ago been attained unconsciously and afterwards
departed from. There are now many schools of art in Lancashire by way
of reaction against the ugliness of the industrial age. There was a
time when Lancashire knew neither ugliness nor schools of art. The
habitations of the Lancashire people in the sixteenth century, and for
some time later, were always artistic, whether magnificent or simple,
and so was the furniture inside them. The art was not of an exquisite
or an elevated order, but it _was_ art, and it was interesting and
picturesque. The beauty of nature, too, was quite unspoiled, and though
Lancashire was no more Switzerland than Manchester was Verona, still
there was beauty enough in the county for all ordinary human needs; the
pastoral valleys were green, the trout-streams pure, and if the skies
were often gray it was only with clouds from the sea. The industrial
epoch came and destroyed all this; it destroyed the vernacular
architecture, it filled the beautiful valleys with the ugliest towns
in the world, it fouled both the streams and the sky, it rapidly
diminished even the health and beauty of the race. It is the conscious
reaction against these evils which has made Lancashire a centre of
artistic effort.

[Sidenote: Conditions of Urban Life in France.]

[Sidenote: Artistic Torpor.]

[Sidenote: Inferiority of French Provincial Exhibitions.]

[Sidenote: The French _bourgeois_.]

[Sidenote: His Ignorance of Art.]

[Sidenote: Provincial Building.]

[Sidenote: The Provincial Nobility.]

In France there has never been the same acute consciousness that modern
life was making itself hideous; and, in fact, the conditions of urban
life in France, except in certain quarters of Lyons and Marseilles,
very rarely approach the melancholy imprisonment of an English
manufacturing town. Most of the French towns are comparatively small,
the country is easily accessible on all sides, they all have avenues of
trees (many of them really magnificent), and those which are situated
on the great rivers have spacious and well-built quays, which are the
favourite residence and resort. In a word, the difference between urban
and rural life is seldom painfully or acutely felt. It is, I believe,
a consequence of this comparative pleasantness of French country towns
that the artistic life in them is so torpid. Provincial exhibitions
are, in France, quite incomparably inferior to English provincial
exhibitions. The fine arts are much more successfully cultivated
in Manchester and Liverpool than in Rouen or in Lyons. As for the
smaller French towns, you find in them here and there an intelligent
amateur, here and there a respectable artist, but, by the ordinary
French _bourgeois_, art is not understood, it lies outside of his
interests and his thoughts. He can no more appreciate style in painting
and sculpture than he can appreciate it in literature. He lives in
a country where you can hardly travel fifty miles without meeting
with some remnant of noble architecture, and it has been necessary to
pass a law to protect what remains against his ignorant spoliation.
Contemporary provincial building is, as a rule, only masons’ work, and
whenever an old church or a château is in any way meddled with, the
chances are that it will be ruined beyond remission. The provincial
nobility very rarely give any evidence whatever of artistic culture
or attainment. If they attempt anything, the result is poor and
incongruous, some pepper-box turret added to the corner of a modern
house, or some feeble attempt to imitate the mediæval castle.

[Sidenote: Paris the maintainer of Art in France.]

[Sidenote: English Academical Teaching.]

It may seem a contradiction to have begun this chapter with hearty
praise of French methods in art teaching, and to have continued it
with depreciation of French taste, but, in fact, both praise and its
opposite are deserved. Paris has maintained the light of art in France.
Without Paris, contemporary France would have a very small place in
artistic Europe; with Paris it still maintains, though against powerful
rivals, a leadership. London has not any comparable influence. Many of
the best English Academicians, including the President, have studied
their art abroad. The methods of English Academical teaching, which
require a minute and trifling finish in mere studies, are a waste of
the pupil’s time.

[Sidenote: Exceptional Genius in England.]

[Sidenote: Poetic Art in England.]

[Sidenote: Improvement in English Handicraft.]

[Sidenote: Elevation of the Common Level.]

The English race, usually destitute of any artistic faculty or
perception, produces exceptional geniuses in quite as great numbers
as the French. The faculties that raise art above mere technical
cleverness to the region of poetry are not excessively rare in the
home of poetry itself. In fact, the English tendency has been to rely
upon native gifts too much, to the neglect of handicraft, yet even in
artistic handicraft the English have made surprising progress in the
thirty years between 1850 and 1880. Their art critics go on repeating
the old complaint that there is little above the common level, but the
common level itself has risen, and the complaint amounts merely to the
truism that exceptional excellence is exceptional.

[Sidenote: The General Understanding of Art.]

[Sidenote: Paris and the Provinces.]

[Sidenote: London.]

[Sidenote: Edinburgh.]

[Sidenote: Art in the Middle and Lower Classes.]

The attainments of artists are, no doubt, a matter of national concern,
as are the accomplishments of all workers; nevertheless, it is still
more important, from the intellectual point of view, that art should
be understood by many than that it should be dexterously practised by
a few. Now, as to this separate question of intelligence concerning
the fine arts, I have said elsewhere, and can only repeat, that in
Paris it is wonderfully general, but not in the French provinces.
Intelligence of that kind is common, without being general, in London,
and not very rare in the other great English towns, whilst Edinburgh
is incomparably more important as an art-centre than either Lyons or
Marseilles. Neither the English nor the French aristocracy has ever,
as a body,[10] shown an intelligent interest in art. For some reason
that may be connected with the contempt felt by a _noblesse_ for
manual labour, the understanding of art seems to belong chiefly to the
middle and lower classes, who often find in it a substitute for more
expensive pleasures. As for the future, this kind of intelligence is
likely to increase widely in the same classes, especially if art is
more intimately associated with handicrafts and manufactures.

[Sidenote: The Particular Difficulty of the English.]

[Sidenote: Mr. Ruskin’s Moral Criticism.]

[Sidenote: The Sacrifice of Art to Veracity.]

[Sidenote: Toil in Details.]

If I were asked what is the particular difficulty that usually prevents
the English from understanding art, I should answer, The extreme
energy and activity of their moral sense. They have a sort of moral
hunger which tries to satisfy itself in season and out of season.
That interferes with their understanding of a pursuit which lies
outside of morals. The teaching of their most celebrated art critic,
Mr. Ruskin, was joyfully accepted by the English, because it seemed
for the first time to place art upon a substantial moral foundation,
making truth, industry, conscientiousness, its cardinal virtues. The
English imagined, for a time, that they had subordinated the fine arts
to their own dominant moral instincts. Painting was to abandon all its
tricks and become truthful. It was to represent events as they really
occurred, and not so as to make the best pictures, a sacrifice of art
to veracity that pleased the innermost British conscience. Again, it
was assumed that mere toil in the accurate representation of details
was in itself a merit, because industry is meritorious in common
occupations. In short, all the moral virtues were placed before art
itself, which, in reality, is but accidentally connected with them.

[Sidenote: The English love of Nature.]

[Sidenote: An Impediment to the Appreciation of Art.]

The English love of nature, in itself one of the happiest of all gifts,
has not been altogether favourable to the understanding of art. It
has led many English people to subordinate the fine arts entirely to
nature, as if they were but poor human copies of an unapproachable
divine original. In reality the fine arts can only be understood when
they are pursued and valued for themselves.

[Sidenote: The Parisian Mind.]

The feebler moral sense of the Parisian mind and its less passionate
affection for nature have left it more disengaged and more at liberty
to accept art on its own account, as art and nothing more. There is
a kind of Paganism which is able to rest content without deep moral
problems, and to accept with satisfaction what art has to give without
asking for that which it cannot give.

[Sidenote: Diversity of Ideals.]

The final word on the subject may be that there is a diversity of
ideals, that the English ideal (speaking generally) is moral, and the
Parisian ideal artistic.



[Sidenote: Difficulty of the Subject.]

[Sidenote: The Effects of Moral Teaching not easily ascertained.]

This chapter is very difficult to write, because I shall have to deal
with what cannot be accurately ascertained. A man can hardly know how
far he has been successful in the moral training of his own sons. As to
the boys in the nearest school, he may ascertain what is taught them by
their masters, but he cannot know the effects of the teaching on the
formation of their characters; that can only be known much later, if
at all. And when we pass to distant schools our knowledge must be so
general and so vague that no trustworthy argument can be founded upon

[Sidenote: Personal Influence.]

The truth is that moral training is chiefly an affair of personal
influence, and that influence of this kind is a special gift. For
example, Dr. Arnold had the gift in the supreme degree, but a man might
be placed in control of the same educational machinery and yet be
destitute of it.

However, some general truths may be taken note of, and they may help us
to understand the subject so far as it can be said to be intelligible.

[Sidenote: Necessity of a National Moral Sense.]

[Sidenote: Want of Freshness of Feeling in France.]

First, you require material to work upon in a national moral sense,
and here I have just said that the English have the advantage. The
moral sense is (on the whole and in spite of many exceptions) very much
stronger in England than in France. The English (except their men of
the world) still retain in a great degree the healthy state of moral
feeling which is capable of being really shocked and horror-stricken
by turpitude and vice; the French lose this freshness of feeling very
early in life, and look upon turpitude and vice very much as an English
man of the world looks upon them, as a part of the nature of things too
familiar to excite surprise. It does not follow that they themselves
are base and vicious, but they know too much, and they know it too
early, about the evil side of life.

[Sidenote: Moral Influence of the Church of England.]

[Sidenote: Authority needed with the Young.]

[Sidenote: Value of Ecclesiastical Institutions.]

[Sidenote: Special Authority of the Clergy.]

The English, too, have a great advantage in the possession of a
national institution which exists far more for moral training than
for anything else. The Church of England is much less of a theocracy
than the Church of Rome, and much more of a moral influence over the
ordinary laity. Its clergy are nearer to the laity than the Roman
Catholic clergy are, and their influence is on the whole a more
pervading and efficient influence. The great difficulty about the moral
training of the young is that it can only be done well and efficiently
by authority. Ecclesiastical institutions invest the teacher with this
authority far better than any others. The clerical teacher, with the
Church behind him, is free from the perplexing task of reasoning about
morals; he has only to require obedience. His very costume separates
him from all laymen, and gives a weight and seriousness to his teaching
that they cannot impart to theirs. For this reason almost all parents,
until recent years, have been anxious to place their children under the
authority of priests, and have often done so when they themselves had
no belief in theological doctrines. They did not seek the theocratic
power, but the moral power that was connected with it.

[Sidenote: The Difficulty of Clerical Education.]

[Sidenote: Effect of it on Unbelievers.]

[Sidenote: Truthfulness especially a Social Virtue.]

[Sidenote: Unbelievers numerous in France.]

[Sidenote: Agnostics in the French University.]

In course of time, however, a most formidable difficulty arises.
Clerical education may be morally most beneficial, but it can only
be so whilst the pupil himself is a sincere believer. If he is not,
the effect of clerical education is not moral, but the contrary, as
it compels him to learn the arts of dissimulation. The clergy do
not say in plain terms that deceit and imposture are virtues; they
class them, nominally, in the category of vices, but the intelligent
pupil soon perceives that he is rewarded for practising them and
punished for not practising them. “Many unbelievers,” said a truthful
Frenchman to me, “come out of our clerical seminaries, but the
acquired habit of dissimulation remains with them, and they are never
plain and straightforward in after life.” Perhaps it may be said
that I attach too much importance to truthfulness, that a certain
degree of dissimulation is necessary in the world, and that it may as
well be learned at school as in practical affairs. I only know that
truthfulness is one of the social virtues, though it is often directly
contrary to the interests of those who practise it. Being a social
virtue, and favourable to public interests, it ought to be encouraged
in public education. Now, it so happens, whether for good or evil, that
the majority of French laymen of the educated classes are unbelievers,
and I say that no moral purpose can be answered by bringing them up
in habits of hypocrisy. I am told by those who are in a position to
judge accurately, that is to say, by intelligent men who have lived all
their lives in the University, that four out of every six professors
are Agnostics, and that the proportion amongst the present generation
of their pupils is even larger. Under these circumstances the idea of
handing over the national University to the priests is inadmissible by
any one who cares for liberty of conscience; and if the reader thinks
that liberty of conscience is a luxury for Protestants only, and that
Agnostics have no right to it, I cannot agree with him.

[Sidenote: Liberty of Thought unfavourable to Moral Authority.]

[Sidenote: Incompatibility of Authority with Reasoning.]

[Sidenote: Principle of the Church of Rome.]

Unfortunately, however, it is found in practice that liberty of
thought in religious matters not being itself founded upon authority,
but on the exercise of individual reason, is unfavourable to moral
authority, especially over the young. In fact, reason and authority are
incompatible. We rule our children by authority when they are young,
without stopping to reason; when they are grown up we endeavour to
influence them by reason, but our authority, as such, has departed. The
Church of Rome avoids this difficulty by founding all her teaching on
authority. Even when she condescends to reason, every one knows that
the principle of authority is behind and can be used, like a royal
prerogative, to cut short discussion at any moment.

[Sidenote: French Lay Teachers wanting in Authority.]

[Sidenote: One Good Effect of Lay Education.]

Now, as a matter of simple fact, it must be admitted that the moral
authority of French lay teachers is inadequate. They have not the power
of the priests, nor even of the English clergy. And the consequence is
that a new generation of Frenchmen is growing up under insufficient
moral control. I make no attempt to disguise the evil, but cannot
see how it was to have been avoided. It is an evil which lies before
every country in Europe as the authority of religion becomes relaxed.
Meanwhile, lay education, if not morally so strong as one might
desire, is at least producing a generation of young men who are frank
and fearless, and have an unaffected contempt for sneaks and hypocrites
of all kinds.

[Sidenote: Dr. Arnold.]

What is wanted is a class of lay principals with something like the
moral authority of Dr. Arnold; but would Dr. Arnold have possessed that
authority, or anything approaching to it, if he had been a layman?

[Sidenote: A French Principal.]

I myself have known very intimately and for many years a French
principal who would have delighted in exercising Arnold’s power for
good if he had possessed it, but he was a layman only, and did not
possess it.

[Sidenote: Sacerdotal Authority in Family Life.]

In family life there may be a kind of sacerdotal authority in the
head of the household when he exercises a sacerdotal function, when
he compels his household to join him in family prayer and to listen
respectfully whilst he reads and expounds the sacred books. The father
assumes in that manner a moral authority that is not easily assumed in
any other way.

[Sidenote: Clerical Jealousy of Family Influence.]

[Sidenote: Value of Home Influence.]

[Sidenote: Manners acquired in the Seminaries.]

Still, in many French families, the father is anxious to do what
he can, and this is one of his strongest reasons against clerical
education in the ecclesiastical seminaries. The clerical teachers, in
their desire to establish an uncontested religious influence over the
boys, look upon the father and mother as rivals, and do not permit
the boys to return home, except during the vacations, even when the
parents live in the very town where the seminary itself is situated.
In this way home influence is almost annihilated, and clerical
influence substituted for it. But the moralising and civilising power
of the home influence may be too precious to be sacrificed, and, as
a matter of fact, when the children are educated by laymen, it is
almost the only influence of that kind that remains. In France it is
especially the mother who civilises boys. Lads who are too much shut
up in the _lycées_ may get what the French call “instruction,” but
they do not get what is called “education.” The pupils imprisoned in
the ecclesiastical seminaries acquire, certainly, an oily smoothness
of manner and a much greater degree of docility than the _lycéens_,
because they have been more thoroughly broken in.

[Sidenote: Home Influences undervalued in England.]

[Sidenote: Parents and Schoolmasters.]

[Sidenote: Brief Duration of Paternal Influence.]

In England the home influences are much undervalued. Wealthy English
parents soon despair of doing anything themselves for the moral
training of their children, so they “pack them off” to some distant
school to be placed under the influence of masters whom they have never
seen and of whom nothing is really known except that they are in holy
orders. If an Englishman has been educated at home, or even near home,
he is generally rather ashamed of it, and unless he is exceptionally
forcible in after life he is likely to be despised for it. Still, the
boy must be born in very unfortunate circumstances whose father and
mother could not, if they chose, do more for his moral training than a
schoolmaster who has perhaps fifty to attend to without the parental
interest in any of them. The worst of the distant-school system is
that it deprives the home residence that remains of all beneficial
discipline, for the boys are guests during the holidays, and the great
business is to amuse them. Then they go away to follow some profession,
and the father, as he thinks over his fond dreams of companionship and
paternal influence, may reckon (if the now useless calculation can
still interest him) for how many months or weeks that influence has
been directly operative in the whole course of his children’s lives.

[Sidenote: English Grammar Schools.]

[Sidenote: Benefits of Rural Life for Boys.]

For this reason the English grammar schools, though despised because
they are cheap and easily accessible to the middle classes, may have a
better effect on the family life of the country than the fashionable
public schools. The idea would be to get both good home education and
good school education at the same time, especially when the parents
have the luck to live in the country. Rural life is good for boys, both
physically and mentally; it gives them a healthy interest in a thousand
things, especially in a rudimentary kind of natural history, and it
prevents them from acquiring the premature cynicism and sharpness that
are amongst the most undesirable characteristics of young Parisians.

[Sidenote: The Root of the Difficulty.]

[Sidenote: The Natural World.]

[Sidenote: The Argument from Social Interests.]

The root of the moral difficulty is that the natural world is
non-moral, and the natural world is all we have to appeal to when the
various forms of the supernatural have all equally been rejected. After
that we may argue that morality, in the most comprehensive sense, is
the only sound basis for human societies, and that all social interests
are on the side of it. That, no doubt, is true, and it is a good
subject for sound reasoning, but reason is not authority, it is only an
attempt to persuade, and the boyish nature detests moral lecturing.

[Sidenote: International Immorality.]

[Sidenote: The English Aristocracy.]

[Sidenote: Want of Rectitude in its Judgment of Foreigners.]

Boys, too, are sharp enough to perceive that all morality is abandoned
by common consent in the dealings between nations. Both England and
France have been thoroughly immoral in their dealings with weaker
States, and in recent times Germany has shown herself no better.
It is difficult to maintain fine moral theories in countries whose
practice so openly contradicts them. Even the authoritative moral
teaching of the English clergy, which may have had a good effect on
the private lives of their pupils, has not given them anything like
stern rectitude of judgment concerning foreigners; for the English
aristocracy admired Louis Napoleon, certainly one of the lowest
characters that ever existed. It was also entirely on the side of the
immoral slave power in the United States.

[Sidenote: Value of Public Opinion.]

[Sidenote: French Disapproval of Debt.]

[Sidenote: American Disapproval of Idleness.]

[Sidenote: English Reprobation of what is Ungentlemanly.]

[Sidenote: Military Professional Virtue.]

[Sidenote: Medical Professional Virtue.]

The one great anxiety that torments thoughtful Englishmen, and still
more thoughtful Frenchmen, in the present day, is the establishment
of an accepted moral authority. I am able to perceive only one that
might be efficacious, and that is a severe public opinion. It may be
answered that public opinion exists already; and so no doubt it does,
but chiefly to reward conformity and punish nonconformity in externals.
We want a public opinion that would sustain and encourage every one
in the practice of unostentatious virtues, especially in temperance,
self-denial, and simplicity of life. As an example of what might be I
may mention the French disapproval of debt. That is extremely strong,
and as it is accompanied by the permission to live simply it does
really operate as an effective restraint upon extravagance, at least
in provincial life. The American disapproval of idleness, even in the
rich, is another case in point, and in the English upper classes there
is a general and salutary disapproval of everything that is held to
be ungentlemanly. Notwithstanding what has been said in this chapter
about the want of moral authority in laymen, they can effect something
by combination. For example, military men are laymen, yet they keep up
amongst themselves a splendid spirit of courage and self-sacrifice, and
so do physicians and surgeons, with the addition of a manly charity and



[Sidenote: Mill’s Opinion on French Feeling.]

[Sidenote: English Stoicism.]

[Sidenote: The Frenchman’s love for his Mother.]

[Sidenote: Euryalus.]

[Sidenote: Ascanius and his Sentiments of Friendship.]

[Sidenote: Un-English.]

John Mill pointed out long ago the advantage that the French have
in the cultivation of the feelings. This is very much an affair of
utterance in language, for it is utterance which best keeps feelings
alive. French sympathy is often, no doubt, assumed; that is inevitable
where so much sympathy is expressed; still, it is certain that in
France all true sympathy does get expressed, and in this way people
live surrounded by an atmosphere in which feeling remains active. In
England the national reserve and the sharp distinction of classes are
both against the cultivation of feelings, but besides this there is
the pride of stoicism, the fear of seeming soft. The Frenchman’s love
for his mother is ridiculous in England; in France it is only natural.
In truth, perhaps, it is not so much the sentiment that is ridiculous
for Englishmen as the association of it with French expressions. The
English do not laugh at it in Latin. The affection of Euryalus for his
mother is thought beautiful in the Æneid, but turn it into French and
it comes in those very phrases that Englishmen cannot abide. “J’ai une
mère issue de l’antique race de Priam, une mère infortunée qui a voulu
me suivre et que n’ont pu retenir le rivage natal d’Ilion ni les mûrs
hospitaliers d’Aceste. _Cette mère je la quitte sans l’instruire des
dangers où je cours et sans l’embrasser. Non, j’en prends à témoin et
la Nuit et votre main sacrée, je ne pourrais soutenir les larmes de
ma mère. Mais vous, je vous en conjure, consolez-la dans sa douleur,
soutenez-la dans son abandon._” The words that I have italicised are so
perfectly French that they might be quoted from the last yellow-backed
novel. The warm promise of friendship from Ascanius is also excessively
French in sentiment. “Pour toi, Euryale, dont l’âge se rapproche plus
du mien, admirable jeune homme, dès ce jour mon cœur est à toi, et je
t’adopte à jamais comme compagnon de ma fortune: sans toi je n’irai
plus chercher la gloire, et, soit dans la paix, soit dans la guerre,
ma confiance reposera sur ton bras et sur tes conseils.” One young
Englishman would never speak like that to another, he might possibly go
so far as to say, “Hope you’ll come back all right.”

[Sidenote: Effect of English Usages.]

[Sidenote: The best constituted Englishman.]

[Sidenote: Sympathy.]

[Sidenote: The tenderer Natures.]

[Sidenote: The Filial Relation in England.]

[Sidenote: The Fraternal.]

[Sidenote: Cousins.]

[Sidenote: Funerals.]

[Sidenote: Neglected Tombs.]

[Sidenote: Friends and Relations.]

Do the English suppress feeling, or have they no feeling to be
suppressed? The true answer to this question cannot be a simple one.
English usages have a tendency to prevent the expression of feeling
where it exists, and therefore they are not favourable to the culture
of the feelings, still these exist naturally as blades of grass
will grow between the hard stones of a pavement. It must, however,
be admitted that although in England a man of feeling may certainly
live, the moral climate is not so favourable to him as it is to one
who feels much less and is therefore hardier. The Englishman who is
best constituted for life in his own country is one who has just
feeling enough to keep him right in all matters of external duty, but
not enough to make him very sympathetic, or to give him any painful
craving for sympathy. If he is sympathetic he will offer his sympathy
where it is not wanted, and be hurt by the chilling acceptance of it,
and if he has the misfortune to crave for sympathy he will suffer. So
it comes to pass that the tenderer natures try to harden themselves by
an acquired and artificial insensibility, whilst those which are not
very tender find the conditions of existence more suitable for them.
I had collected a number of examples, but do not give them, because
instances prove nothing, and because it would be so easy to affirm that
my examples were not truly representative. I prefer to take another
course, and to suggest to the reader, if he is familiar with English
life, the idea of making a little investigation on his own account,
by consulting his own recollections. First, as to family affections,
the reader has probably met with many cases in which the paternal and
filial relations were cool and rather distant, so that separation was
not painful to either party. If he has observed brothers he may have
seen them practically almost strangers, living far apart, in different
spheres, and seldom, if ever, corresponding. He may have known cousins,
even first cousins, who did not remember their relationship so far as
to announce to each other the occurrences of marriages and deaths. He
may have observed that a slight impediment of distance or occupation
is sometimes enough to prevent a relation from coming to a funeral,
and that the tombs of dead relations are sometimes left unvisited,
uncared for, and untended. The reader may have noticed cases in which
a difference of fortune produces a complete estrangement between
very near relations, and finally he may have met with Englishmen
who declared that friends were worth having because they could be
selected, but that relations were a nuisance or “a mistake.”

[Sidenote: Absence of the Culture of the Affections in England.]

[Sidenote: Culture of the Affections in France.]

Cases like these are very numerous in England, because the affections
are left to the chances of accident; they are not sedulously cared for
and cultivated. When they are of great strength naturally, and when the
conditions happen to be very favourable, there is nothing to prevent
their growth, but in less favourable conditions there is nothing to
keep them alive. In France all very near relations write to each other
when they cannot meet personally on their fête days, all friends write
at least a line or two for the New Year, and acquaintances exchange
cards. An intelligent Frenchman said to me, “Our culture of the family
affections is sometimes insincere, we sometimes express sentiments
which are assumed for the occasion, but, on the whole, our customs tend
to keep alive the reality of affection as well as its appearance, by
reminding us of our relations and friends and of our duties towards

[Sidenote: Cause of the Difference.]

What is the cause of this difference? Do the English really care less
for each other than the French, or is there some hidden reason why they
are less demonstrative?

[Sidenote: English Shyness.]

[Sidenote: Due to a want of Culture.]

[Sidenote: Exceptional Englishmen.]

[Sidenote: The Clergy.]

There is one reason--the English shyness, the English fear of giving
verbal utterance to feeling. Now, this is distinctly a want of culture,
for the due expression of feeling is, in all the higher arts, one of
the best results of culture. There can be no doubt that many Englishmen
feel much more than they are able to express, and they certainly
appreciate the power of utterance in others, as, for example, in their
orators. A few Englishmen boldly go beyond and do express feeling,
even in ordinary life, just as a few venture to talk like intellectual
men. These few are not uncommonly found among the clergy, at least it
has been so in my experience; and this may be due to the culture which
religion gives to feeling, and, in the clergy, to the practice gained
by the utterance of it in sermons and exhortations.

[Sidenote: The Best Education.]

[Sidenote: Queen Victoria.]

[Sidenote: Feeling appreciated in Art but not in Life.]

[Sidenote: English Tenderness for the Lower Animals.]

[Sidenote: French Hardness.]

[Sidenote: English Humanitarianism laughed at. The _Temps_.]

[Sidenote: Influence of the Church.]

[Sidenote: Animals are Infidels.]

[Sidenote: The Scientific Spirit.]

[Sidenote: _La Loi Grammont._]

The idea that feeling is a weakness, and that it is well to suppress
it in the education of boys, is more in accordance with the opinion
of the Red Indians than with that of the ancient Greeks. The best
education would respect all natural and healthy sentiment, such as a
boy’s love for his mother, without ridiculing it, but would at the same
time train the boy in the courage which has always been compatible
with tenderness, ay, and even with tears. Amongst the services of an
unobtrusive kind which Queen Victoria has rendered to the English, one
of the best has been by setting an example of openness in matters of
feeling. She has permitted her subjects to see what she felt on many
occasions, and has done this simply, plainly, and without the dread of
sneering depreciation. The same healthy influence is often exercised
by women in narrower spheres. There is more than ever room for this
feminine influence in an age like ours, when the positivism of the
scientific and industrial temper, and the fierce competition amongst
individual men, as well as between nations, are hardening the heart
of the world. The due exercise and culture of the feelings are always
appreciated at their right value in literature and the fine arts; it
is a strange and striking anomaly that we fail to perceive their equal
importance in the reality of life itself.

[Sidenote: A French Gentleman and his Carriage Horses.]

[Sidenote: Sport and _Gourmandise_.]

[Sidenote: A Horrible Custom at Sens.]

There is one department of the culture of feeling in which the
English are far superior to the French--that of sympathy with the
lower animals. The French are humane enough where human beings are
concerned, but their humanity, as a rule, is confined to pity for the
sufferings of their own species. There are exceptions, of course. I
know several Frenchwomen who are full of sympathy for cats and dogs,
and I have known French grooms who were thoughtful and kind and even
affectionate in their treatment of horses; nevertheless, as a nation,
the French are hard and pitiless in comparison with the English. All
sentiments appear ridiculous when we do not share them, so the French
laugh at English humanitarianism as the British critic laughs at a
Frenchman’s tenderness about his mother. My favourite French newspaper,
the _Temps_, never misses an opportunity for a hit at this English
eccentricity. French hardness dates from the time when the influence of
the Church was universal; and, whether she taught the doctrine formally
or not, her followers believed that animals, being unbaptized, had no
rights. A dog or a horse is an infidel, and therefore cruelty to it is
blameless. The decline of religious influence might have led one to
hope for a broader charity, but there unhappily came the scientific
spirit, which, though not cruel for the sake of cruelty, is heedless of
animal suffering, and ready to inflict tortures on the lower animals
worse than the torments of the Inquisition. So, in fact, the condition
of the poor brutes has gone from bad to worse. There is, indeed, a
French law for the protection of animals, but it is nearly a dead
letter. The great practical difficulty in cultivating the feelings on
this subject comes from the general but most unreasonable idea that
there is something manly in being indifferent to the sufferings of
brutes, and something childish in having pity for them. I remember a
French gentleman who considered himself strong-minded because he made
his carriage horses work when they had raws. In the lower classes
men are proud of overloading and of making their horses go over
unreasonable distances.[11] In both countries men are ready to inflict
pain on animals whenever they think that they can get pleasure out of
it for themselves. The passions for sport and _gourmandise_ are the
two which come next after science for pitilessness. The infliction of
wounds for amusement, and the boiling alive of lobsters, are common
to England and France, but the following is, I believe, peculiarly
French:--When we lived at Sens my wife discovered that it was the
custom, when selling rabbits on the market-place, to put their eyes
out with a skewer, from a belief that this cruelty improved the
flavour.[12] I find that cooks are all convinced that boiling alive is
necessary to the flavour of a lobster, and there is no reasoning with
cooks and gourmands if they believe that cruelty heightens the delicacy
of tortured flesh.

[Sidenote: The Sentiment of Reverence.]

[Sidenote: Veneration of the Priests by Catholics.]

[Sidenote: Absence of Veneration in the Republican Party. Victor Hugo.

[Sidenote: Chevreul.]

[Sidenote: Extinction of Royalist Sentiment.]

[Sidenote: Want of Reverence for High Officials.]

[Sidenote: Absence of Veneration in Family Life.]

Amongst the sentiments that have been much cultivated in the past
there is one which is less and less cultivated in modern France,
the sentiment of reverence. The difficulty is to find objects for
reverence that can effectually withstand the desecrating light of
modern criticism. Good Catholics have still an object of veneration
in the Pope and, in minor degrees, in the bishops and other priests;
but since the death of the Count de Chambord there is not a single
political personage left who excites veneration even in the mind of a
royalist. The republicans venerate nobody, not even poor ex-president
Grévy. Victor Hugo was, no doubt, regarded with veneration, but he
has left no successor. Father Ingres was also really venerated by a
certain sect of younger artists in his time. Chevreul, the centenarian,
is respected for his achievements and for his hundred years. In this
way two or three individuals in a century may excite some veneration,
but the sentiment, outside of the Church, lacks continuity of culture.
The true royalist sentiment is dead in France, the religious sentiment
survives only in a part of the population, and is failing even there,
whilst the French have not the vulgar veneration for titles which would
at least exercise the faculty, though on low objects. Neither do the
posts occupied by high officials under the Republic excite veneration
in anybody. The royalists unanimously despise them, the republicans
generally want to dismiss the present occupants and put other men in
their places. In family life there is much affection certainly, and no
doubt there is some respect, but there is no veneration. “Your sons,”
I said to an intelligent Frenchman, “treat you with much freedom. They
do not seem to be in the least impressed by any idea of the paternal
dignity.”--“How can we expect them,” he answered, “to be deferential
and reverential to us when we, on our part, have set them, on every
possible occasion, the example of a want of reverence towards the
beliefs and the institutions of our fathers? They have heard nothing
but criticism from our lips, they have grown up in an age of criticism,
when there is nothing for the faculty of veneration to cling to.” In a
word, veneration had never been exercised or developed in their minds.

[Sidenote: Veneration in England. The Bible and the Throne. Houses of

[Sidenote: Critical Writing.]

[Sidenote: Veneration in Poetry.]

[Sidenote: Effects of the want of Veneration in the Common People.]

[Sidenote: Loss of Faith in the Classics.]

In England this sentiment is less cultivated than in former times, but
there still remain the Bible and the Throne. The House of Commons does
not inspire it, the House of Lords is more and more failing to inspire
it. The critical writing which is most keenly enjoyed is absolutely
destitute of veneration. Looking to the future, a philosopher might
ask himself whether the faculty was not destined to die out as having
become useless. It is poetical, but it is not critical. When a poet
does not feel it he feigns it; the critic knows that to approach a
subject in a reverential spirit is to abdicate his own function. The
misfortune is that when the common people cease to venerate they lose
their interest in things. The fate of the Apocrypha is a significant
illustration. The English no longer believe it to be inspired, they no
longer venerate it, consequently they have ceased to read it. In France
the Bible, for the same reason, is left unread by the Voltairean world.
The old veneration for the Greek and Latin classics is passing away,
and they will soon only be read by a few specialists. The French are
losing their faith in the classics, once so staunch, with a rapidity
that astonishes even those who are most familiar with French impulses.
That was the last-surviving religion in intellectual France, and it is



[Sidenote: Education not a Mark of Class in France. Latin a Matter of

[Sidenote: Greater Value of English University Degrees.]

France, being a more advanced democracy than England, has made greater
efforts to bring secondary education within the reach of many, and the
consequence is that such education, in that country, having ceased
to be a mark of class, confers very little social position. The
majority of French boys who learn Latin do it simply as a matter of
business, the bachelor’s degree being necessary to every physician and
surgeon, to every barrister and notary, and even to every teacher of
modern languages in the public schools. There are also examinations
to be passed before practising pharmacy as a trade, and for that the
examinations are not confined to the special science itself. In England
the University degree is not absolutely required for the professions
of law and medicine, and therefore it retains more of an ornamental
character. It is more of an intellectual distinction and less of a
matter of business than in France.

[Sidenote: Tendency of Modern French Institutions.]

[Sidenote: The _Bourgeois_.]

[Sidenote: What Education can do in France.]

[Sidenote: Degrees and Society.]

To understand France in this and many other matters we must bear in
mind that the whole tendency of modern French institutions is to
produce, not what the English call the gentleman, but the middle-class
man, or _bourgeois_, in enormous numbers. He is comfortably clothed,
badly lodged, far too well fed, and educated in many studies, but not
quite up to the point at which they would begin to be available for the
intellectual life. The public schools where he gets this education are
both too numerous in themselves and too numerously attended, besides
being too cheap, for purposes of social distinction. All that education
can do for a lad in France, at any school or college, is to place him
in the _bourgeoisie_, that is to say, in the middle class. It does
not, in the least, give him an approach to social equality with the
aristocracy. Sons of peasants frequently rise in the _bourgeoisie_ by
means of University degrees; but that is not much, and there they stop.
There is not any University degree, however elevated, not even the
double doctorate, which is recognised by what is called “Society” as
conferring any claim whatever to come within its pale.[13]

[Sidenote: Choice of School and University in England. Eton and Oxford.]

[Sidenote: English always wrong about French _Lycées_.]

[Sidenote: The Simple Fact.]

[Sidenote: Princely and Humble _Lycéens_.]

[Sidenote: Education of the Orleans Princes.]

In England the choice of school and University has an immense influence
on a boy’s future social position. Educate him at a grammar school or
send him to Eton and Oxford, the difference to his future rank will be
enormous. If an English mother has a son at Eton she is sure to let
you know. All English people associate the idea of class distinctions
with the different English schools, and they have an almost insuperable
difficulty in realising the condition of things in France, where there
is neither an Eton nor an Oxford, nor anything in the least degree
resembling them from the social point of view. In this way the English
are always wrong about the French _lycées_, because they begin by
imagining the English class distinctions. The prevalent English idea
about them is that they are low and cheap places. One English writer
accepted it as evidence of the very humble origin of a distinguished
Frenchman that he had been educated in a _lycée_. He could not realise
the simple fact that the _lycées_ have nothing to do with social rank
_either one way or the other_. My brother-in-law was educated at a
_lycée_, and one of his ordinary class-fellows was a prince who is now
actually reigning; other class-fellows may have been sons of small
shopkeepers or poor clerks. Older Frenchmen are still living who were
class-fellows of the Orleans princes at the _lycée Henri IV._ The
princes worked like the others, and it was only thought a proof of
their father’s good sense that he sent his boys to one of the best
schools in the town where he lived, though he happened to be King of
the French. It was good for them, but it made no difference to the
others, nor to the school. King Milan of Servia was afterwards educated
at the same _lycée_.

[Sidenote: Views of the Reactionary Aristocracy.]

[Sidenote: Religious and Political Reasons.]

A boy gains no rank, and loses none, by being at a French _lycée_.
It is true that the reactionary aristocracy looks upon the _lycées_
with disfavour, but that is not because they are cheap,[14] or because
some of the pupils are poor, for the aristocracy is willing to send
its children to priestly seminaries, which are still cheaper, and
where most of the pupils are poorer. The reasons are not social, but
religious and political. The _lycées_ have lay masters, the seminaries
have priests; the _lycées_ are animated with a republican spirit, the
seminaries are royalist. Everything has a political colour in France.
When a young noble has not been to a seminary he is educated on its
principles by a clerical tutor at home, or else in some Jesuit school

[Sidenote: Education itself gives little Position in France.]

[Sidenote: Revival of the Middle-age Idea.]

[Sidenote: The Brilliant Nobility.]

Not only does the place of education give no social position to a
Frenchman, but education itself now gives him very little, because it
has been made accessible to poor men. Eton and Oxford are respected
because they are expensive;--if the same education, or a better, were
given in cheap schools, it would lose its social significance. France
seems to have reached, or almost reached, that point towards which
the whole world is tending, when education will be too common to
confer rank, and it is even possible we may get back to the middle-age
idea that it is lordly to be illiterate. Even now, something of this
sentiment is distinctly perceptible in France. Clever young men in the
middle class are considered to be working creditably for persons in
their line of life, but the nobility do not meet them on that ground;
they outshine them, not in learning, but in field-sports and equipages.

[Sidenote: The Native Language.]

[Sidenote: Clever Frenchwomen in the Middle Classes.]

[Sidenote: Rare Use of the Best English.]

A refined way of speaking the native language does something for social
position in England. English people say of a man, “He has a good
accent, he speaks like a gentleman;” in France so many middle-class
people speak well habitually that pure speech has almost ceased to
be a distinction. Even if the men had not broken down that barrier,
clever Frenchwomen would have removed it. How many of them have I
met with, in the middle classes, who, for enunciation, articulation,
readiness and accuracy of expression, and precision of accent, spoke
quite as well as ladies of rank! This, too, in a country where clear,
and prompt, and accurate speaking is valued and appreciated to a degree
unknown in England. It is only the most cultivated English people who
dare to employ, in conversation, the full powers of their noble tongue;
the others shrink from the best use of it, and accustom themselves to
forms of speech that constitute, in reality, a far inferior language,
in which it is so difficult to express thought and sentiment that they
are commonly left unexpressed.[15]

[Sidenote: Culture _versus_ Rank.]

[Sidenote: French Aristocracy unaccustomed to work.]

[Sidenote: Character of the French Rural Aristocracy.]

[Sidenote: Intellectual Industry of some Retired Tradesmen.]

[Sidenote: Barbarians in the Upper Classes.]

[Sidenote: Devotion to Barbaric Sports.]

[Sidenote: Contempt for Trade and Commerce.]

[Sidenote: Liberty of Primæval Instincts.]

Passing from ordinary education to that higher culture which can only
be attained by a sedulous attachment to intellectual pursuits in mature
life, I should say that here, again, mental elevation has nothing to
do with social rank. In France the time is at hand, if it has not
already arrived, when high culture may be taken as evidence that its
possessor does not belong to the aristocracy. Speaking for the present
of France only, I may offer two or three reasons in explanation of
this curious anomaly. The French aristocracy, disdaining all work
that is remunerative, does not enter the professions, and so misses
the culture that the professions give. But, beyond this, the French
aristocracy is unaccustomed to work of any kind, and as culture is
usually unattainable without work, and as there is not even a high
standard of early education in that aristocracy, it passes its time
in ways that do not tend to culture except so far as polite and
graceful social intercourse favours it. If the reader wishes to be
just he will not think of the minor French rural aristocracy as “a
class of rakes,” but as a very numerous class of more or less wealthy
idlers, living half the year on their estates, four months in some
country town, and a month or two at Paris or the sea-side. Their
life is healthy and natural for the most part, and they often attain
a great age; but they are, as a class, much more addicted to rural
sports than to intellectual or artistic pursuits of any kind. There
are exceptions, of course, yet even the exceptions suffer from the
benumbing influence of their surroundings, and usually stop short of
any noteworthy attainment. I may repeat in this place a remark made
to me by an observant Frenchman. He said, “In our country the men who
cultivate themselves with effect are more frequently retired tradesmen
than men born to independence. The retired tradesman has habits of
industry which he applies to any pursuit that he takes up, and the
want of these habits is fatal to the aristocrat.” Another Frenchman,
himself a man of culture, coincided, quite independently, with Matthew
Arnold’s well-known description of another aristocracy. “It is a
strange result of the wealth and intelligence of the modern world,” he
said, “to give the upper classes the pursuits of the savage without
the necessity which is his excuse for them. Our country gentlemen are
not our intellectual leaders, they live a sort of perfected barbaric
life. They are barbarians armed with the complicated appliances of
civilisation. Their greatest glory is to have killed a large number of
big wild boars, and they exhibit the heads as trophies. Another savage
characteristic is that they despise trade and commerce, and consider
all professions beneath them except that of the warrior. Their ideas
of government by the simple authority of a despotic chief are also
those of primitive man; they have not patience to endure the delays
and the complicated action of parliamentary institutions. In a word,
the liberty that wealth gives in the modern world means for them the
liberty of the primæval instincts.”





[Sidenote: Tenderness has increased in France and diminished in

The tender feeling of patriotism, as distinguished from the proud, is
more general in France than in England, and it has increased in France
during the last twenty years, whilst it has diminished in England
in the course of a generation, or during the transition from one
generation to another.

[Sidenote: Causes of the Difference.]

This difference and these changes are due to causes that may easily be
seen in operation. We may be able to fix upon some of them, and whilst
we are so occupied the reader is especially requested to bear in mind
that the tenderness of patriotism is not the whole of patriotism, and
that the Englishman who has little tenderness may be as patriotic in
other ways as the Frenchman who has more.

[Sidenote: Local.]

Tender patriotism in all cases attaches itself to the soil; it is
an affection for the soil, and at first an affection for particular
localities, generally with recognisable characteristics. One of the
first effects of it is to produce a feeling of foreignness with regard
to other parts of the same nation, so that by its particularism it may
seem almost anti-patriotic.

[Sidenote: The Princess of Thule]

“I will never leave Borva,” said the Princess of Thule, yet she did
leave Borva, and sang her old island songs in the strange land and
amongst the strange people “with her heart breaking with thoughts of
the sea, and the hills, and the rude, and sweet, and simple ways of the
old island life that she had left behind her.”

[Sidenote: William Black. His understanding of Patriotic Tenderness.]

Here is an example of tender patriotism, so much localised that the
lover of her own country, which is one of the Hebridean islands,
feels herself a foreigner in London, and it might be argued that
every British subject ought to feel at home in the capital of the
nation. Well, we are coming to that, but the first patriotism is local
and pathetic.[16] No English novelist understands the sentiment of
patriotic tenderness better than does William Black, and he always
represents it as strongest in poor and thinly-peopled places, such as
are to be found in the Western Highlands, and in the bleak archipelago
between the Scottish mainland and the open Atlantic.

[Sidenote: Rural Life favourable to Tenderness.]

Country life is highly favourable to the growth of a tender local
patriotism, especially that kind of country life which remains
stationary and attached to family possessions. Small estates are
favourable to it, large estates less so, because they supply their
owners with the means of living at a distance, and especially for
passing a part of the year in the capital, and other months out of the
country altogether.

[Sidenote: Colonisation Unfavourable.]

Colonisation is unfavourable to a tender English patriotism, because it
diverts the affection of families from the soil of the mother country
by giving them a second country beyond the sea, and by encouraging the
idea that the mother country is but a part of a vast confederation, in
which the colonists may have a patriotic feeling for the confederation
generally, and a specially affectionate patriotism for the State or
province in which they were born.

[Sidenote: Composite States.]

When the State is very heterogeneous in composition, including several
very different nationalities, there may be a tender sentiment in each
nation for itself, but this is not likely to extend to the entire
State. Thus, a Scotchman may have a tender feeling for Scotland, an
Irishman for Ireland, but their tender affection is not likely to
include England, still less Canada and Australia. They may be proud of
belonging to so great an empire, but that is another feeling.

[Sidenote: Effects of Religion and Poetry.]

[Sidenote: Utterance of Feeling.]

[Sidenote: Its Stoical Repression.]

Every influence that increases the sensibility of the feelings is
likely to increase the tenderness of patriotic sentiment. Religion and
poetry are both strong influences in its favour, and a very powerful
constant influence is that of a society in which feeling is habitually
expressed as it is by the Irish and the French. A society in which the
utterance of deep feeling of any kind is repressed by conventional
good breeding, and by a kind of external stoicism, is repressive of
tenderness in patriotic sentiment. This stoical tendency in the English
is more favourable to pride than to love.

[Sidenote: Habits of Travel.]

Habits of travel, habits of living abroad, cosmopolitan experiences on
a large scale, diminish the intensity of local affection by affording
opportunities for comparison, and so destroying illusions, especially
about the grandeur of landscapes that have been dear to us in youth,
and the appearance of houses and towns. After the Alps the English
mountains are seen to be only hills, after Paris the northern towns
look dismal.

[Sidenote: Prosperity, Commercial and Political.]

Lastly, a sustained commercial and political prosperity is unfavourable
to the tenderness of national sentiment, because a very prosperous
nation does not appeal to the pathetic sympathies, does not call for
commiseration. The sons of a powerful and rich mother do not feel
themselves to be so necessary to her as if she were afflicted and

[Sidenote: Effects of these Causes in Modern England.]

The reader will see at a glance how all these reasons against the
tenderness of sentiment in patriotism tell in modern England.

[Sidenote: Lack of small Proprietors.]

[Sidenote: The Population not Stationary.]

[Sidenote: Facility in changing Residence.]

England is not a country of small proprietors. Without committing the
mistake, so common amongst foreigners, of believing that there are no
small landowners in England, we know that they are not so numerous
as in France, and therefore that the intense local affection of the
peasant has fewer chances of developing itself. Again, the population
of England is less and less a stationary population, it becomes
constantly more urban and more migratory. The lower and middle classes
change their place of residence with a facility unknown to the yeomanry
of former times. It seems to be a matter of indifference to them
whether they will live in one ugly and smoky street or in another ugly
and smoky street, and why indeed should we expect their affections to
take root in a “wilderness of bricks”? Nor do they limit themselves
to the same town. They change towns almost as easily as streets on
the slightest prospect of increased income, and often merely for the
sake of the change itself, to break the monotony of a life destitute
of local interests and local attachments. In its extreme development
the facility in removing that characterises the modern Englishman of
the unsettled class will include not merely the United Kingdom, but
the most remote dependencies of the British Empire. The following is
a case well known to me; it is given here as an extreme case, not as
an average one, but it is thoroughly English, and most remote from the
stay-at-home habits of the French.

[Sidenote: History of an English middle-class Family.]

[Sidenote: Constant Changes of Address.]

[Sidenote: Condition of Feeling incompatible with Local Attachments.]

A middle-class Englishman in a scientific profession began by going to
Scotland in his youth, and there he married early. From Scotland he
emigrated to New Zealand, and thence to Australia, where he prospered
well, but in the midst of his prosperity he determined to return to
Great Britain. He settled first in Glasgow, and afterwards migrated
successively to Hull, Bristol, Cardiff, Southampton, Liverpool, and
London. I pass over a temporary residence in the United States.
When staying in one town it was his habit to change his residence
frequently. During the thirty or forty years of his married life he
made twice as many removals. Since his death his family have gone on
in the same way: they are constantly changing their addresses, and are
dispersed over the British possessions, including New Zealand, Canada,
and British Columbia. A family of this kind is not cosmopolitan,
because it confines itself to English-speaking countries, but its
world is the vast area over which the English language is known. There
was a condition of feeling in that family quite incompatible with
old-fashioned local attachments. The members of it were ready at any
time to leave England and each other and pitch their temporary camp in
distant latitudes. This readiness was reflected in their conversation,
which ranged easily over vast spaces of land and sea.

[Sidenote: English Courage in Emigration.]

I began by saying that this was an extreme instance, and so it is, but
there are thousands of others that show the English facility of removal
in minor degrees. Nothing is more characteristic of the English, or
more unlike the French, than the courage to go and settle in some
place where they know nobody and with which they have no previous
associations. French people do it when forced by necessity, but they
do it with a sad heart; English people of their own free will have the
courage to sever old ties and begin new experiments of life.

[Sidenote: A Recent Characteristic.]

[Sidenote: Local, National, and Imperial Patriotism.]

The extreme readiness of the modern English to change their residence
is a recently-developed characteristic. It has grown with the modern
facilities of communication. Sons and daughters disperse and settle
anywhere. In wealthy families the eldest son retains possession of
the paternal home, but seldom steadily settles down to live in it,
whilst his brothers and sisters scatter themselves over the counties.
The affectionate prejudices of local patriotism have given place to a
broader national patriotism which, in its turn, is even now giving way
to a still more comprehensive Imperial patriotism. It is a change by
which the English have gained in grandeur of conception what they have
lost in tenderness of feeling.

[Sidenote: Irish Tenderness.]

[Sidenote: Pathetic Feeling and its Causes.]

[Sidenote: Pathetic Element in Scottish Patriotism.]

Amongst the nations under the British crown there is one that still
retains that tenderness in perfection. The Irish people have it, and
they even keep it in exile. The reason evidently is that Ireland is a
small well-defined nation, separated from England by salient national
characteristics, and a nation which for a long time has been poor,
unhappy, and ill-used. Here are all the influences that increase the
pathetic tenderness of patriotic feeling. If ever Ireland becomes rich
and happy her patriotism may be quite as powerful, quite as genuine,
but it will lose that intense pathos.[17] The pathetic element in
Scottish patriotism was most intense when Scotland was poor, when
the science and industry of her sons had not yet compensated for the
barrenness of her soil.

[Sidenote: Wordsworth.]

Of all the English poets Wordsworth had the tender local affections
in the greatest strength; and in his case not only did they attach
themselves to a small district with a marked peculiarity of character,
but they were almost invariably associated with poor and simple human
lives, themselves rooted by hereditary affection in the miniature
highland region that occupies the north-west corner of England. London,
to Wordsworth, was “a crowded solitude.”

[Sidenote: Attachment to Foreign Places.]

[Sidenote: English love for Switzerland.]

[Sidenote: Indifference to France. Love of Italy.]

No race in Europe has so strong a tendency as the English race to form
attachments for places outside of the native land. This tendency has
increased with the habit of travel and with the spoiling of England by
modern industrial works. The second love of Englishmen is Switzerland
if they are mountaineers, and Italy if they care for poetry and art.
France they seldom appreciate unless they are architectural students,
when they cannot overlook “the most architectural country in Europe.”
It is probable that no Englishman ever loved France as Robert Browning
loves Italy, or would venture to express such a sentiment if he felt it.

  “Italy, my Italy!”

cries the poet with a passionate longing--

  “Open my heart and you will see
  Graved inside of it Italy,
  Such lovers old are I and she,
  So it always was, so shall ever be.”

[Sidenote: The Attraction of Greece for Englishmen.]

The love of a foreign language is enough to give us a friendly interest
in the country where it is spoken to perfection, and as Englishmen
are better linguists than the French, foreign countries have this
attraction for them. They are also better scholars, and therefore may
be more drawn towards Greece.

[Sidenote: The French love Algeria or Italy.]

Some Frenchmen have this second love, and when they feel nostalgia for
any land out of France it is sure to be Algeria or Italy. Frenchmen
never have any local affections in England. They may keep a grateful
recollection of English houses where they have been kindly received,
but have never any delight in England as a country. Their prejudices
against its climate and about the absence of taste and art are

[Sidenote: Love of the French for France.]

[Sidenote: Illusions.]

[Sidenote: France the Pet of Providence.]

The love that the French have for France is associated with many
innocent illusions. They believe it to be the only perfectly civilised
country in the world, the home of all the arts, of all scientific and
intellectual culture. Of late years France is to the republicans the
one country where political and religious liberty is complete. It is,
of course, the land where French people feel most at home, where they
can most readily get the superfluities which are necessary to them--the
elaborately-ordered and complete repasts, the abundant fruits, the
varied drinks, the talk in the _café_, the lively and pointed newspaper
articles that they can understand at a glance, the clever plays that
they listen to with such rapt attention. Those Frenchmen who believe in
a Providence think that it has specially favoured their own country.
“_Dieu protège la France._” Before the phylloxera came He gave his
Frenchmen wine and refused it to the canting English, before the German
invasion He gave them the intoxicating wine of victory. They have
marvellous illusions about their climate; they think of it as a

  “Fair clime where every season smiles

[Sidenote: Provincial Names.]

[Sidenote: Urban Names.]

[Sidenote: Village Patriotism.]

They have a full and fair appreciation of the beauty of their own
country, and the more cultivated take an intelligent interest in
the still numerous architectural remnants of the past. They have
not forgotten the old provincial names, nor suffered them to fall
into disuse; the Burgundian is still a Burgundian, though not the
less a Frenchman too. Even the towns have an adjective for their
inhabitants which strengthens the local tie. The inhabitant of Sens
is a _Senonais_, of Poitiers a _Pictovien_, of Gap a _Gavot_. In this
way a Frenchman is the son of his native town, as an Oxonian of the
University. The local feeling descends even to the villages--

  “_Rien n’est plus beau que mon village
      En vérité je vous le dis._”

This provincial feeling is not so strong in England. In the United
Kingdom we have the four different nationalities, but in England only
the counties, which answer to the French departments. England has
no living tradition of historical provinces. We learn about ancient
divisions in history, and that is all.

[Sidenote: The Word _Pays_.]

[Sidenote: The Sacred Word _Patrie_.]

[Sidenote: “Country” not an Equivalent.]

[Sidenote: Home.]

The words used in the two countries are in themselves an indication
of the state of feeling. The word _pays_, as employed by journalists
and politicians for the whole of France, is exactly equivalent to “the
country” as employed by English politicians; but the word _pays_, as
it is employed by a French peasant to mean locality to which he is
bound by ties of birth and affection, has no equivalent in English,
and it cannot be translated without a phrase. To get the force of it I
must explain that it is a part of the country to which I and my family
belong. But the greatest difference in language is the entire absence,
in English, of any word having the peculiar emotional value, the
sacredness, of _patrie_. The word _patrie_ is reserved entirely for
emotional use, it is _never_ employed for common purposes. “Country”
fails as an equivalent because it is used in various non-emotional
senses, as when a minister appeals to the country by general elections,
a huntsman rides across country, a gentleman’s residence is situated in
a pretty country, a townsman goes to live in the country, a landowner
is a country squire. Here the word stands for the everyday words
_pays_ and _campagne_, but _patrie_ never stands for anything but the
land that we should be ready to die for, and it is never used without
visible or suppressed emotion.[18] The English are themselves fully
aware of the power of a word, and of all that may be indicated by the
possession of a word. They are proud, with just reason, of the word
“home,” and think that the absence of it in the French language shows
a want of tenderness of domestic sentiment in the French mind. The
absence of any equivalent for _patrie_ may indicate a like want of
tenderness in the patriotic sentiment.

[Sidenote: Want of Cruel Experience in England.]

[Sidenote: The Sacred Soil.]

Happily the English have not for many centuries been educated by the
kind of experience most favourable to tenderness in patriotism. Their
country has not been invaded. No Englishman knows what it is to have
foreign soldiers ruling irresistibly in his own village and in his own
home. No Englishman has seen his corn trampled by an enemy’s cavalry,
or his fruit-trees cut for fuel. In default of this experience no
Englishman can imagine the sense of cruel wrong to their country that
men feel when its sacred soil is violated.[19] The attempt to imagine
it for the French only takes him from feeling to reason. He sees
clearly that the French would have done as much on German soil had they
been able to reach it, and from a reasonable point of view he perceives
that no earthly soil is sacred. But the tender sentiment of patriotism,
like other tender sentiments, is not amenable to reason.



In the first chapter I indicated certain causes which make the
patriotic sentiment less tender in England than in France. The same
causes make English patriotism prouder than French patriotism.

[Sidenote: Pride in old French Patriotism.]

[Sidenote: _La Grande Nation._]

[Sidenote: Immense Superiority of France.]

[Sidenote: A Talk in 1870.]

[Sidenote: Former Faith in Military Superiority.]

The element of pride was once intensely strong in French patriotism.
Before the Franco-German war the Frenchman was as proud of his
nationality as an ancient Roman; he sincerely believed his country to
be _La Grande Nation_, and supposed that all the other peoples of the
world must be humbly conscious of an immense inferiority. France, he
believed, or rather he _knew_, was at the head of all nations both in
arts and arms, the most military of countries, the most artistic, the
most scientific--in all things and in all ways the greatest, the most
illustrious, the best. I remember a conversation that took place in
the spring of 1870 between two Frenchmen, a German, and myself. The
Frenchmen were both scholarly and thoughtful men, immensely superior
to the average of their countrymen, yet the old superstition about
Gallic superiority was so inveterate in them that they maintained
it at all points. The German and I ventured to doubt the absolute
supremacy of France in literature and art, on which our French friends
fell back upon a quality which they affirmed to be beyond question,
their undoubted military superiority. I remember the quiet, scarcely
articulate protest of the German. He said that the military superiority
of France, if put to the test _then_ (1870) might not be quite so
certain as in former times, as the Germans had made progress in the art
of war. The French would not hear about the possibility of defeat; the
incomparable _élan_ of the troops, the well-known _furia francese_, was
sure to carry everything before it.

[Sidenote: End of French Patriotic Pride.]

Those were the last days of the pride of patriotism in France. Since
1870 no human being has heard any boasting of that kind from French

[Sidenote: The Feeling of Security necessary to it.]

Before 1870 all French people had the sense of perfect security within
their own frontier. They might send troops abroad, but at home they
felt as secure as the English in their island. The sense of patriotic
pride requires that feeling of security within the frontier, as much
as the pride of wealth requires the sense of security from bailiffs.
When the enemy is in possession, and the national forces are manifestly
impotent to drive him out, there can be no national pride. There may be
infinite devotion, and the most pathetic tenderness, but “_il n’y a pas
lieu d’être fier_.”

[Sidenote: Improvement of French National Character.]

[Sidenote: Change from Rashness to Prudence.]

[Sidenote: Humiliation.]

Since their disaster the only pride of the French has been in their
self-restraint, and in the quiet perseverance with which they have
reconstituted their army. Such pride as there may be in these efforts
is of a subdued nature, and altogether different from the boasting of
other days. It may be admitted that the national character has been
immensely improved by the extinction of the old sentiment, and even the
French intellect has gained by it in the clearer perception of truth,
as a private misfortune often opens the eyes of a family. The change
in the national character of the French has been clearly manifested
by their patience and prudence on several very trying occasions. They
used to be rash and light-headed, they have become cool, wary, and
circumspect; at one time they were reputed to be fond of war, and were
easily led into it by any temporary ruler, but to-day they look on war
so dispassionately, they treat it so purely as a matter of reason,
that they will resort to it only with all chances in their favour.
Men of sixty say that the young men of the present day have far less
of national sentiment than they had in their own youth, which may be
explained by the want of aliment for national pride. A new generation
has grown up, and it has grown up in humiliation. A Frenchman of
twenty-five has seen Alsatia and Lorraine in the hands of the Germans
ever since he knew anything of geography.

[Sidenote: Victory of Democracy.]

[Sidenote: Double Defeat of the French Aristocracy.]

Another heavy blow to national pride in the higher classes has come
from the internal, and probably final, victory of the democracy. All
who belong in any way to the French aristocracy, or who aspire to
belong to it, and have sympathy with it, feel as much humiliated by
the establishment of republicanism as by the German conquest. The
aristocracy has been doubly overthrown, by foreign armies and by the
multitude of voters. A French noble cannot go to any court in Europe
without meeting the accredited representative of a _régime_ that he
abhors, and he cannot enter the French parliament without seeing
republicans in office. It is true that the men in office are frequently
changed, but the principle that put them there does not change; they
are replaced by others not less democratic.

[Sidenote: England Free from these Wounds.]

[Sidenote: Imagined Changes in England.]

England is free from these wounds to her pride. No foreigner occupies
any English territory. To have the equivalent of the French patriotic
humiliation, five or six English counties would have to be occupied by
an enemy, and a huge foreign fortress and arsenal, on English ground,
would be constantly threatening London. With regard to internal causes
of humiliation for the upper classes, they would feel what the French
gentry feel if the monarchy and the House of Lords were abolished, and
the Methodist, Baptist, and Jewish religions were established equally
with the Church of England. This, then, is the great difference between
the English and the French in this matter of national pride. There are
existing causes which make that sentiment impossible, for the present,
in France; there is no existing cause to prevent it from flourishing in
the minds of Englishmen.

[Sidenote: England the Head of a Family.]

[Sidenote: Feeling towards American Democracy.]

[Sidenote: Mrs. Jameson’s Impression of Canadian Society.]

[Sidenote: The Englishman’s Superiority to the Scotch and Irish.]

[Sidenote: His Ignorance of Scotland.]

The English have a motive for pride which is unknown to their French
neighbours. They are the leading nation in a family of nations. They
feel superior to the Americans of the United States by antiquity
and by priority of civilisation, and they believe themselves to be
their superiors in culture and in manners. Besides these differences,
which may be more or less imaginary, it is obvious that aristocratic
Englishmen must look down upon American democracy, since they look
down, impartially, upon all democracies. The English living in England
have a superiority of position over their own colonies, and are
surprised to learn from Mr. Froude that a high degree of civilisation
is to be found at the Antipodes. There are two opposite ways of
thinking about the colonies that give equal aliment to the pride of an
Englishman. He may have something like Mrs. Jameson’s first impression
of Canadian society, as “a small community of fourth-rate half-educated
or uneducated people, where local politics of the meanest kind engross
the men, and petty gossip and household cares the women,” and in that
case the superiority of England must be incontestable, or he may adopt
the views of Mr. Froude, and then reflect what a great thing it is for
England to be the first amongst the highly-civilised English-speaking
communities. He is, besides, under no necessity to cross the ocean for
subjects of comparison. He feels himself easily superior to the Scotch
and Irish, and until recent agitations he had almost forgotten the very
existence of the Welsh. All Scotch people know that the English, though
they visit Scotland to admire the lochs and enjoy Highland sports, are
as ignorant about what is essentially national in that country as if it
were a foreign land. Ireland is at least equally foreign to them, or
was so before the burning question of Home Rule directed attention to
Irish affairs. This ignorance is not attributable to dulness. It has
but one cause, the pride of national pre-eminence, the pride of being
the first amongst the English-speaking nations of the world.

[Sidenote: The Habit of despising.]

[Sidenote: The English a Contemptuous People.]

[Sidenote: The English underrate other Nations.]

[Sidenote: English do not overrate Themselves.]

Patriotic pride derives constantly renewed strength from a certain
mental habit, which may grow upon a nation as it frequently does upon
an individual. A man may get into the habit of despising, he may get
into the habit of rating what others possess and what others do at an
estimate below the truth. It is an indirect way of exalting without
over-estimating himself, and therefore is pleasing to natures that are
neither boastful nor vain, yet are firmly tenacious of pre-eminence.
Now, although the English are said to be a deferential people, and
have, no doubt, the habit of deference for certain distinctions, they
are at the same time an eminently contemptuous people, even within
the limits of their own island. Their habit of contempt is tranquil,
it is without vaunt and without vanity, but it is almost constant,
and they dwell with difficulty in that middle or neutral state which
neither reverences nor despises. Consequently, when there is not some
very special reason for feeling deference towards a foreigner, the
Englishman is likely to despise him. The same mental habit causes
the English, as a nation, to underrate habitually the strength and
intelligence of other nations, without much overrating their own. The
common Englishman thinks nothing of the French navy, hardly believes
that the French can build or manage a ship of war, although the French
navy is, in reality, the second in the world, and a good second; but
the English do not overrate their own navy, on the contrary, they are
very much alive to its deficiencies and defects. The common Englishman
under-estimates French wealth, he does not think much of wealth
that can be expressed in francs, yet at the same time he does not
over-estimate the wealth of England. This tendency to despise others is
shown in a peculiarly dangerous way by the English when they go to war.
At such times they almost invariably under-estimate the strength of the
antagonist and the difficulty of the enterprise, thus imposing needless
hardships on the inadequate little force that begins the war.

[Sidenote: English underrate even the Forces of Nature.]

The habit of despising and under-estimating is shown by the English,
not only with regard to other nations, but in face of the natural
forces themselves. They are very averse to taking precautions against
danger, they have to be forced to it by law, and when the law is
made, it is likely to become a dead letter. A notorious instance of
this is the eternal inadequacy of the provision for saving life every
time a ship founders. It is, in all things, strongly characteristic of
Englishmen to apply to every great or little thing they have to do the
minimum of necessary effort. This is only another expression of their
tendency to despise an opposing force.

[Sidenote: French less disposed to Respect and Contempt.]

[Sidenote: Their Levelling Instinct.]

[Sidenote: Victor Hugo.]

[Sidenote: Napoleon III.]

The French, on the other hand, are generally less disposed both to
the feelings of respect and contempt. They look upon the world with
an easier indifference, not much respecting anybody or anything, but
they are ready enough to acknowledge the merits and qualities of people
and things that are not the best. The French are severe critics only
where there is great pretension; they regard ordinary, unpretending
people and things with a good-humoured indulgence. When there is much
pretension, their levelling instinct makes them ready _debellare
superbos_. It is a remarkable proof of the substantial strength of
Victor Hugo’s reputation that a man of such immense vanity, such
prodigious pretension, should have been able to get himself taken at
his own estimate in France. Napoleon III., although he had at his
disposal the theatrical machinery of imperial state, was never able to
win any real deference.

[Sidenote: French Feeling.]

[Sidenote: Accurately described by Bismarck.]

If the French are not contemptuous, it may be asked what is their
feeling towards other nations, what is the form that national hostility
takes in their case? When an Englishman despises, how does a Frenchman
express international antagonism? The answer has been already given by
Prince Bismarck in a celebrated speech. He said that the French hated
their neighbours, that they hated the English and Italians as they
hated the Germans. That is an accurate account of French sentiment
towards neighbouring countries, except that, for the present, the
hatred of the foreigner is more actively directed against Germany.
The most trifling international incident is enough to awaken furious
animosity in the French press against the English or the Italians.
This may be a reason why the French cannot form durable alliances,
especially with their neighbours. Their present attempt to ally
themselves with Russia may be more fortunate, precisely because Russia
is _not_ a neighbour.



[Sidenote: Conditions that excite Jealousy.]

The condition of things that most readily produces jealousy between
rivals is a near approximation to equality, provided that the equals
are very few in number, and that each of them has substantial claims to

[Sidenote: Present in the Case of France and England.]

[Sidenote: Rivals in Europe.]

[Sidenote: Rivals in Naval Strength.]

[Sidenote: Both nominally Powers of the First Class.]

[Sidenote: Their near Equality in Wealth.]

[Sidenote: Political Liberty.]

[Sidenote: Aristocracy and the People.]

[Sidenote: Religious Policy.]

All the necessary conditions unite to produce jealousy between France
and England. They have been the two greatest of European nations, they
are still the most ancient of the Great Powers, and the most advanced
in the arts of civilisation. Their weight and influence in Europe are
very nearly the same. Their populations approximate very closely,
France, in round numbers, having about thirty-eight inhabitants to
thirty-seven in the United Kingdom. As to European territory they are
unequal, but the larger home territory of France is compensated by the
larger colonial territory of England. Both are great naval Powers. As
if to sharpen their feelings of rivalry, the two greatest naval Powers
in the world hold the shores of a narrow channel, where each may see
the warships of the other. England has a great naval superiority,
but she needs it to protect her commerce and her colonies. In like
manner the superior military strength of France is occupied in the
defence of her land frontier. Both England and France are nominally
Powers of the first class, yet neither is exactly so in reality, the
proof being that neither the one nor the other dare venture, without
an ally, to measure herself against either Germany or Russia. In
wealth they are more nearly equal than any other two countries in
the world. The system of government, though under different names,
is practically the same in both countries, being representative in
both, with power in the lower chamber and responsible cabinets. In
each of the two countries political liberty is as nearly complete in
practice as recent experiments in democracy will permit. In both there
is a contest between the aristocracy and the people. An increasingly
liberal religious policy in both France and England has led to the
equal toleration of Catholics, Protestants, and Jews, though in neither
country, as yet, is there anything like a social equality of creeds.

[Sidenote: Rivalry abroad.]

[Sidenote: France and England in Africa.]

[Sidenote: Rivalry in the East.]

[Sidenote: English Jealousy of French Colonial Enterprises.]

In external matters the resemblance between France and England is
equally remarkable. England is an Atlantic power--France has a long
Atlantic seaboard. England has stations in the Mediterranean and holds
two important islands--France has a Mediterranean coast and holds
one important island. Both Powers intervened in Algiers, and France
annexed it; both Powers intervened in Egypt, and England occupied it.
Both France and England have possessions on the west coast of Africa.
In southern Africa the European position of England and France is
counterchanged. There England is the continental Power and France (in
Madagascar) the insular. In most of the great British dependencies and
colonies it has been at one time doubtful whether England or France was
to be the final occupant; and though the superior colonising genius
of England and her prudent European alliances have generally settled
the question in her favour, there has been enough of rivalry to leave
its mark in history, in the nomenclature of places, and even (in one
instance) in the survival of an important French-speaking population.
Nor does the world-rivalry of France and England show any sign of
coming to an end. Their policy at Constantinople and St. Petersburgh
has quite recently been antagonistic. It is steadily antagonistic in
Egypt, and although the wisdom of rulers (happily greater than that of
populations) has led to an agreement about the Suez Canal and the New
Hebrides, there may at any time arise the contention that leads to war.
Although France is now incomparably inferior to England as a colonial
Power, the English are still as jealous of French influence as if it
might ultimately regain Canada and India. The Tonquin and Madagascar
expeditions were treated in the English press with a jealousy only
equalled by the French newspapers about Egypt, and both enterprises
were followed by fresh British annexations in Asia and South Africa. In
a word, although French colonising schemes may not, in the present day,
be comparable to what England has done and is still doing, they are of
sufficient importance to keep alive the ancient sense of rivalry, the
undying jealousy of neighbours who have known each other too long and
met each other too often.

[Sidenote: Not to be ended by a War.]

[Sidenote: The Right to break a Neighbour’s Strength.]

[Sidenote: Not applicable against the Strong.]

The peculiarity of this case is that it cannot be settled by a war,
like the old jealousy between Austria and Prussia. Neither of the two
Powers feels able to expel the other from her position. I remember
that, when the English attacked the Zulu king Cetewayo and broke his
power, it was maintained in England that a State had the right to
break the power of a neighbour if its existence could be considered
menacing. How much more, then, would England have a right to break the
naval power of France, which is close to her own shores and menaces her
own capital, and what an error of policy she commits by tolerating the
existence and the increase of the French fleet! Why this long-suffering
tenderness of respect for French arsenals? The answer is that England
is not so sure of victory in a war with France as she was in the war
against Cetewayo. The principle that it is right to break the power
of a neighbour is not applied when that power is really formidable.
In other words, the more it is desirable that a neighbour’s strength
should be broken, the less is it likely to be done.

[Sidenote: Possession of the Channel Islands.]

[Sidenote: England not to be readily Overcome.]

Now let us consider the question from the French side. The English
hold several islands which are very near to the French shore, and the
French are vexed by England’s possession of these islands. It is not so
galling a wound to French pride as the English possession of Gibraltar
is to the pride of Spain, still it is a perpetual little sore that
irritates Frenchmen when they think of it. They do not trouble their
minds about ancient historical considerations. The Queen, for them,
is not the Duchess of Normandy, but the head of the rival Power, and
they do not like to see this Power holding insular fortresses like
unsinkable warships anchored close to their own shores. Well, this
being their state of mind, why do they not annex the Channel Islands
and reverse the situation by occupying the Isle of Wight? The answer is
that the enterprise is felt to be too formidable. To get Sark it would
be necessary to vanquish England, and France does not feel sure of
being able to accomplish that.

[Sidenote: The Modern Carthage.]

[Sidenote: Conquest difficult in both Cases.]

During the long and bloody rivalry of these two countries in the past
it is a wonder that neither of them ever managed to murder the other.
The will was certainly not wanting; there was no pity, but it is not
easy to murder a great nation. The modern Carthage was to have been
effaced, yet she is not effaced. Even in the present day each is
unable to annihilate her neighbour. Try to imagine a French General
surrounding London with his troops; the idea is inconceivable, one
cannot see how he is to get them there. And now try to imagine an
English army, without continental allies, surrounding Paris with a ring
of iron as the Germans did; this idea is as inconceivable as the other;
one cannot see how the English army is to reach Paris. Could it land?
And if it landed, could it get as far as Amiens?

[Sidenote: That National Jealousy may be Reasonable.]

[Sidenote: Jealousy in International Criticisms.]

I cannot conclude this chapter without frankly admitting that national
jealousy is reasonable so long as it confines itself to the truth. It
is quite reasonable that the French should want to push the English
out of Canada and Egypt, and that the English should wish to sink the
French fleet. What is unreasonable is for two peoples to depreciate
each other in books and newspapers, and blacken each other’s private
characters because both are formidable in a military or a naval sense.
How is it that we hear so much of French immorality, and nothing,
or next to nothing, of Italian? How is it that, in France, we have
heard so much of English cruelty and barbarity, whilst the accounts
of Turkish cruelty were received with the smile of incredulity or the
shrug of indifference? Why this so tender French sympathy for the
Irish, exaggerating all their woes? Why this wonderful Protestant
sympathy in England for the unauthorised religious orders in France?
How does it happen that everything which seems to tell against one of
the two countries is received with instant credence in the other? The
answer to all these questions may be found in the two words at the head
of the present chapter.



This is a more agreeable chapter to write than the two which have
preceded it, for the idea of patriotic duty is always ennobling,
even when that difficult kind of duty is irregularly practised and
imperfectly understood.

[Sidenote: Effect of the Insular Position of England.]

If England were a continental Power the sense of patriotic duty would
probably be the same with Englishmen that it is with Frenchmen. The
insular position of England has given an exceptional character to the
national views of duty.

[Sidenote: Ideal and Practical Views of Patriotic Duty.]

They are more ideal in England, more practical in France. The
Englishman thinks, “If I were called upon to make sacrifices for
my country I would certainly make them.” No doubt he would, but
most Englishmen pass through life without being obliged to make any
patriotic sacrifice except the payment of taxes, and the French are
taxed still more heavily, even in money.

[Sidenote: English Patriotism Reliable.]

[Sidenote: A Peculiar Danger.]

English patriotism may be absolutely relied upon by the Government so
far as the sentiment is concerned, and the consequent willingness to
accept the burden of practical duty in a time of national calamity; but
the danger is that the calamity might be sudden, in which case the
efforts of a national patriotism would be unorganised and the patriots
themselves untrained.

[Sidenote: The Volunteers.]

[Sidenote: The Militia.]

The sense of this danger produced the volunteer movement, which was
excellent as an example and as an exercise of patriotic feeling; but if
we compare the English volunteers with any one of the great Continental
armies, we see at once that their value is moral rather than material.
The militia is less an affair of patriotic sentiment and more of an
ordinary military institution. It is a sort of reserve answering in
the length of its annual exercises to the French _réserve de l’armée
active_, but with this important difference, that the militiamen have
not necessarily passed through the regular army, and their officers
have not necessarily received a military education. Some men and some
officers have these advantages, but only by accident.

[Sidenote: Military Opinion.]

[Sidenote: The English Army Professional.]

Neither the militia nor the volunteers are taken seriously by the
regular army in England, so that the sentiment of patriotic duty
which exists in them does not receive that full encouragement which
would be desirable for its maintenance. The English army is a special
profession, it is not the nation, and its feelings, though patriotic,
are at the same time strictly professional. The regulars look upon the
militia and volunteers as professional artists look upon meritorious
amateurs, that is to say, at the best with good-natured indulgence, and
at the worst with undisguised contempt.

[Sidenote: The Old Purchase System.]

[Sidenote: Social Distinction of Rich Officers.]

Under the old purchase system English officers formed a caste, and
were looked upon with great respect, not because they were ready to
sacrifice their lives for their country, since the privates were
equally ready to do that, and the privates were not respected. Officers
in those days were respected for being rich and fashionable, or
because they were supposed to be the sons of rich men, and the more
expensive the habits of the regiment, the deeper was the sentiment of
respect. In a word, it was social distinction that was respected in
them. The privates were looked upon as a low caste, and the fact that
they might have to die for their country did not suffice to elevate

[Sidenote: Former Feeling about the French Army.]

I well remember the old feeling about the army in France under the
Second Empire. It was national in the sense of being raised by
conscription, but it was not regarded as national by the people. It
was looked upon as an instrument of oppression in the hands of Louis
Napoleon. In those days the rich avoided military service by paying
substitutes. The common word for that transaction was not “paying” as
you pay a servant, but “buying” as one buys a slave. The substitute was
considered to have sold himself, and was specially despised, instead
of being honoured as a man willing to serve his country, whilst no
contempt whatever attached to the rich man who paid money to shirk an
unpleasant and dangerous patriotic duty.

[Sidenote: Present State of French Feeling about the Army.]

[Sidenote: The real Dignity of all Military Service however Humble.]

Amongst the benefits of the Franco-German war, and they have been many,
there is not one more happy for France than the healthy revolution in
public opinion concerning military service. As almost all Frenchmen
have now to serve in one way or another, and as they cannot all be
officers, the status of the common soldier has risen. He is not
regarded as a mercenary, he is not the guard of a tyrant nor his
tool, but a citizen who is paying “the tax of blood” to his mother
country, or, in other words, who is doing the most honourable work of
his whole life. Whatever he may afterwards accomplish as a private
citizen, whatever gold or fame he may win by his industry or talent,
he will never do anything with more true dignity in it than that
ill-paid work with his regiment. It is nobler to perspire on a dusty
road in rough soldier’s clothing, with a heavy knapsack and rifle,
than to display spotless linen in a carriage. It is higher to groom a
war-horse and clean the stirrups or the stable _pour la patrie_, than
to be oneself groomed by a hairdresser. A state of public opinion is
conceivable in which the humblest services would be held honourable
if they belonged to patriotic duty, and this healthy state of opinion
is now establishing itself in France. Nothing can exceed the simple
cheerfulness with which military duty is generally accepted. It is
not always liked, and it is not always pleasant, but it is borne with
unflinching good-humour.

[Sidenote: The Army and Presidential Elections.]

The same change in public opinion which has made the humblest military
service honourable, has produced a friendly, almost an affectionate,
sentiment towards the army. Formerly regarded with distrust, it is
now looked upon as the strength and defence of the nation. Nobody now
believes that the national forces could be used against civil liberty.
The prettiest example of the present state of things was seen at the
election of President Carnot. A few hundreds of civilians, unarmed,
and who might have been dispersed by one company of soldiers, met in
the old palace at Versailles, to elect the Chief of the State. The
palace was amply guarded, but only to ensure the independence of the
electors. A regiment of cavalry waited to escort the new President to
Paris without knowing his name. When he stepped into the carriage that
quiet civilian was “Commander of the armies of France by land and sea.”

[Sidenote: Improvement of National Health by Military Service.]

[Sidenote: Increase of Gymnastics.]

[Sidenote: Benefit to Education.]

This absolute unity of sentiment between the military and civil
populations is a great compensation for the burden of universal
service. Another is the increase of manliness and the improvement of
national health. Of the reality of this improvement I cannot entertain
a doubt, having myself frequently known young men who had gained
greatly in strength and activity by their military service, and who
felt and acknowledged the benefit. This is peculiarly valuable in
France on account of the too close confinement of youths in the public
schools. The universality of military service has been accompanied by a
great increase in the number and activity of the gymnastic societies,
and it has led to much military drill within the schools themselves.
The sons of peasants acquire some education in the army, which is
a valuable instrument for spreading a certain amount of elementary
culture, and even more than that, through the regimental libraries. The
sons of gentlemen, besides the benefit of physical exercise, are often
stimulated, by the hope of promotion, to improve the education they
already possess.[21]

[Sidenote: Effect of National Armies on Peace and War.]

[Sidenote: Possible Consequences of an English National Army.]

Before leaving the subject of a national army in France, it may be
well to consider its effect on peace and war. Experience proves that
national armies are essentially peaceful institutions, _on condition
that they are combined with parliamentary government_. Everybody has
relations in the national army, consequently it is everybody’s desire
that unnecessary bloodshed be avoided. Popular French feeling was
intensely, and I believe universally, averse to the war in Tonquin;
and the sacrifices required for those distant expeditions ruined
the political career of a most able minister, Jules Ferry, a man of
extraordinary capacity and strength of will. Under free institutions
ministers dread a personal effacement of this kind, and Ferry’s example
has had a salutary effect. As it is, the occupation of Tonquin may
at any time be abandoned through a refusal of the credits. It is not
improbable that with an English national army there might be a growing
objection to the prolonged occupation of India. Even the authoritative
monarch of Germany could not, by an imperial caprice, despatch
the national army to conquer the Chinese Empire. In France, every
imaginable war is unpopular, except the one for the recovery of the
lost provinces, and there is no desire to undertake even that patriotic
war of deliverance without the certainty of success.

[Sidenote: Conscription repugnant to English Feeling.]

[Sidenote: Burden of a National Army not Intolerable.]

[Sidenote: English Social Distinctions.]

[Sidenote: Vanities and Gentilities.]

The formation of a national army by means of conscription is repugnant
to English feeling as an interference with personal liberty, but it is
improbable that it can for ever be postponed in the British Empire.
If the English should ever find themselves engaged in a contest with
a great European Power, without an ally on their side, they would be
compelled to adopt the conscription in a hurry, and therefore in the
worst possible conditions for success. Unless England is prepared to
abandon her European position altogether, and content herself with
being the greatest of Colonial Powers, the wiser course would be for
her to reorganise her forces on a broadly national basis, whilst there
is time to do it at leisure. A national army is one of those evils
which appear enormous at a distance, but diminish on a nearer approach.
The burden which is borne equally by all is not felt to be intolerable.
It may be objected that with the sharper social distinctions in England
a gentleman would feel himself degraded by serving in the ranks. The
answer to this objection has been already indicated. The patriotic
spirit in the nation might be trusted to form a rational opinion about
what is or is not really degrading, if the army were national, and not,
as at present, divided into the two jealous classes of professionals
and amateurs. Even already a gentleman has no objection to being “full
private” in the volunteers. If England were once invaded, and a single
English town held by an enemy, all vanities and gentilities would
vanish before the nobility of patriotic duty, and a gentleman would
feel himself honoured in digging a trench or driving a provision cart.

[Sidenote: English Patriotism as regards Foreign Policy.]

There is one form of patriotic duty in times of peace which is much
better understood and much more generally practised in England than in
France. The English are violent in party dissension, but they readily
sink their own differences in the consideration of foreign affairs,
so that there is, on the whole, a remarkable continuity in the
foreign policy of England. In February 1888 Mr. Gladstone gave cordial
support in the House of Commons to Lord Salisbury’s foreign policy,
an incident by no means new in English parliamentary history, and if
ever the occasion shall arise when to rally round the Government of the
day shall be clearly a patriotic duty, as it was when a conflict with
Russia appeared imminent, then all the bitter expressions of political
enemies will be forgotten and forgiven, and Tory, Liberal, and Radical
will be simply Englishmen.

[Sidenote: French Oppositions rarely Patriotic in Times of Peace.]

[Sidenote: Reactionary Disingenuousness.]

[Sidenote: Unpatriotic Bitterness in France.]

In France this patriotic union is only seen after war has been actually
declared and whilst the conflict is going on. It was, no doubt, shown
during the war with Germany, when reactionary noblemen fought under the
orders of Gambetta, whom they inwardly execrated, but in times of peace
the conduct of French oppositions is rarely patriotic. The line of
policy pursued by the reactionary parties at the present day is simply
to discredit the Republic, even at the expense of France. To that end
they are always willing to upset every cabinet in order to prove the
instability of existing institutions, yet at the same time they must
be fully aware that their policy is against all the commercial and
foreign interests of the country. The disingenuousness of their conduct
is clear when they first join the radicals in upsetting a cabinet and
then turn round and say, “How lamentable it is that no cabinet, under
the Republic, can last more than a few months!” As this book deals
only with the present I need not do more than refer to the alliance
between the French reactionists and foreign Powers early in the present
century, and to the contentment with which they accepted the defeat
that led to the Restoration. I should be sorry to attribute to the
reactionists opinions which are made for them by their enemies, but
it is not too much to say that some of them prefer the Prussians to
the republicans, and look to a civil war without disfavour, in spite
of all the horrors that it would inflict upon their country. Nor is
this bitter spirit of reckless hate by any means confined to the
monarchical parties. Is it possible to imagine anything more completely
anti-patriotic than the conduct of the Parisian communards in 1871?

[Sidenote: Hatred and Patriotism.]

[Sidenote: Vulgar and enlightened Patriotism.]

The idea of patriotic duty has usually, in the past, been confounded
with the passion of hatred. An Englishman who did not hate the French
was considered to be unpatriotic, especially if he objected to useless
bloodshed and advocated, whenever possible, a policy of conciliation.
A few reasonable beings on both sides of the Channel are now beginning
to perceive that it is not always, in reality, the most patriotic
policy to waste the treasure of their own country and send their own
countrymen to slaughter; for this is what blind hatred always comes to
in the end. The objects of a patriotic mind alter with the degree of
its enlightenment. In rude and ignorant natures patriotism is hatred
of the foreigner; in cultivated and generous natures it is a wise
and watchful desire for the happiness and prosperity of one’s native
land. When vulgar patriotism blusters and is quarrelsome, intelligent
patriotism keeps a cool head and cleverly steers the ship. The passion
of hatred ought to be kept out of international affairs, as a lawyer
keeps it out of legal business, looking only to the interest of his
client. The vulgar French are childish enough to hate the English; if
the English do not hate them in return, the advantage will be all their





There is a strong resemblance between the great French and English
political movements of modern times, but they differ from each other
chronologically, and also in the terms by which they are usually

[Sidenote: Misleading Use of the Words “Monarchy” and “Republic.”]

The resemblance is seen at once when we use the terms that are equally
applicable to both. The word “Monarchy,” for example, is misleading,
because it is still used in the case of England, where one man does
_not_ govern, and where popular representative institutions have
irresistibly developed themselves. The word “Republic” is misleading in
another way, because it is insidiously associated with communism by the
enemies of genuine parliamentary government.

[Sidenote: The Words “Absolutism” and “Liberty.”]

Such being the abusive power of words, it is evident that so long as
we use the words “Monarchy” and “Republic” for England and France we
convey the idea of a difference that does not really exist, at least
with that degree of antagonism and contrast; but if we use the words
“Absolutism” and “Liberty,” supposing “Absolutism” to mean government
by one person, invested with authority, and “Liberty” to mean national
self-government, not anarchy, then we shall much more clearly perceive
the resemblance in the political movement of the two countries.

[Sidenote: England preceded France.]

This being said for the sake of clearness, I need only remind the
reader that England preceded France by at least a hundred years in
the movement from absolutism to liberty, and that this difference of
chronology has exercised a very strong influence on English opinion
about French affairs. The English have all along had the advantage of
a much riper political experience, and they resemble a mature man who
has forgotten the mistakes of his own youth and the violence of his
boyish temper, whilst he sees those defects in one who is fifteen years
younger than himself.

[Sidenote: English Treatment of the French Political Evolution.]

During all the difficult time of the French passage from absolutism
to liberty, the English had a way of treating the French political
evolution which was peculiarly their own. They refused to see anything
natural or regular in the remarkable process that was going on before
their eyes, and perceived only a series of accidents combined with
spasmodic human efforts in one direction or another. They did not
discern that, through the accidents and the efforts, a great natural
force was acting with real though not always visible constancy, the
same force which had abolished absolutism in England itself, and
produced the great English experiment in representative government.

[Sidenote: W. R. Greg.]

I have been struck by a passage in one of Mr. W. R. Greg’s well-known
Essays in _Enigmas of Life_, where he speaks with a total absence of
sympathy for the growth of free institutions in France, and betrays the
curious but common English belief that if somebody had done something
which was easy at a particular time, such institutions might have been
prevented from taking root in the country.

[Sidenote: Quotation from his _Enigmas of Life_.]

“In France,” Mr. Greg wrote, “as is every year becoming more recognised
by all students of her history, the ochlocracy, which is now driving
her to seemingly irretrievable downfall, is traceable to the fatal
weakness of monarch and ministers alike in February 1848, when a
parliamentary demand for a very moderate extension of a very restricted
franchise was allowed to become, first a street riot, and then a mob
revolution, though ordinary determination and consistency of purpose
among the authorities might have prevented it from ever growing beyond
the dimensions of a mere police affair, and have crushed it at the

[Sidenote: The “Ochlocracy.”]

[Sidenote: Mirabeau’s answer to Dreux-Brézé.]

This, I should say, is an extremely English way of looking at
French affairs. The “ochlocracy” (why not simply have said “popular
government”?) is driving France to irretrievable downfall--a result not
wholly displeasing to her neighbours--and the democratic development
might have been prevented if the _bourgeois_ king and his ministers had
only shown “ordinary determination.” A wiser king than Louis Philippe
would, no doubt, have made the change to complete democracy gentler
and easier by timely concessions; but the ultimate establishment of
democratic institutions was inevitable in any case, and inevitable
long before Louis Philippe ascended his precarious throne.[22] It was
inevitable from the hour when Mirabeau gave his immortal answer to the
Marquis de Dreux-Brézé: “Nous sommes ici par la volonté du peuple, et
nous n’en sortirons que par la puissance des baïonnettes.” From that
hour, on the 23d of June 1789, when the “will of the people” was
openly recognised in a French parliament as superior to the will of
the king, the establishment of what Mr. Greg called an “ochlocracy,”
in its complete development, was simply a question of time. How much
parliamentary institutions have gained strength in a hundred years may
be realised by imagining the effect of a royal summons to the Chamber
of Deputies at the present day. There would be no need of a Mirabeau to
resist and resent it with indignant eloquence of voice and gesture; at
the most, it would excite a smile.

[Sidenote: Resemblance in the Political Metamorphosis of England and

[Sidenote: A Comparison with Authorship.]

For myself, I am much more struck by the resemblance than by the
difference between England and France in the great political
metamorphosis that has come over both countries and is not yet quite
completed in either. I see a wonderful resemblance in the course of
events, in the evolution of opinion, and in those general tendencies
which are far more important than any mere historical accidents, but
I see at the same time a great difference in dates and most curious
inequalities of pace. The comparison may be made clearer by supposing
that two authors are at work upon two books. The elder has begun his
manuscript much sooner than the other, but he has not gone on with it
very quickly, except at odd times of inspiration. The younger seems to
have plagiarised his opening chapters from his predecessor, there are
so many striking points of likeness, but after a time he goes on in
his own way and works the faster of the two, notwithstanding frequent
goings back caused by immense erasures. Just now it seems as if he
had left the elder writer behind, but their different ways of work
make this very difficult to determine. Neither of the books is as yet
completed. As they advance, their general similarity of tendency and
purpose becomes every day more manifest. This vexes the rival authors,
who would have preferred to find themselves original.

[Sidenote: England from 1630 to 1730, and France from 1780 to 1880.]

[Sidenote: Sovereignty of the French National Assembly.]

[Sidenote: Sovereignty of the House of Commons.]

English critics usually take France during her revolutionary period and
compare her with England at another stage when she has got through her
revolutionary and is in her reforming period. A more just comparison
would be to take England between 1630 and 1730, and France between 1780
and 1880. There are so many points of resemblance between the two that
history has almost repeated itself. Our ancestors decapitated a king
and the French decapitated theirs; the difference being that the axe
was used in one case, and a more ingenious mechanical contrivance in
the other. After the execution of Charles I., the English were not yet
ripe for liberty, so they fell under the dictatorship of a soldier;
the French did exactly the same. When the English were not disposed to
endure the Stuarts any longer, they sent them across the Channel. When
the French were not disposed to endure the Bourbons any longer, they
sent them across the Channel. The constant tendency in both countries
has been to increase the power of the representative chamber and
diminish that of the nominal head of the State, with this final result:
that in France the National Assembly (the two chambers meeting as one)
is declared to be sovereign, and in England the Marquis of Hartington
has openly attributed sovereignty to the House of Commons, quoting
Professor Dicey in reply to an old-fashioned member who stood aghast at
what seemed to him an almost treasonable employment of the word.[23]

[Sidenote: Difference between France and England in the Intermediate

[Sidenote: The English Aristocratic Republic.]

[Sidenote: Value of Shelter in Times of Change.]

[Sidenote: The French dwelt in Tents.]

There is, however, one very real and essential difference between
the English and the French progress towards democracy. The point
of departure is the same, the sovereignty of the king; the point
of arrival is the same, the sovereignty of the people; but the
intermediate stage is not the same. Thanks to the strength of her
aristocracy, and especially to its fine energy and spirit, England
has been able to pass through a highly convenient intermediate stage,
that of an aristocratic republic preserving monarchical appearances.
France has not been able to do this, though she tried the experiment
in imitation of England, the reason for her inevitable failure being
that she had not the kind and quality of aristocracy that was necessary
for such a work. In all very disturbing changes there is nothing so
convenient, nothing so conducive to prudent deliberation, as a shelter
whilst the change is going on. If you destroy your old house to build
a new one on its site, you will be glad to hire a temporary residence
in the neighbourhood. The English were most fortunate in this, that
they had a fine, substantial-looking mansion to retire to, a dignified
building that looked as if it would last for ever; the French were out
in the cold, and had to dwell in tents, by which I mean their temporary
written constitutions.

[Sidenote: The Ideal Monarchy.]

[Sidenote: The old French Noble Caste.]

[Sidenote: Irregular Nature of French Progress.]

The transition to democratic government was not easy in an old country
like France, where the monarchy, in such comparatively recent times as
those of Louis XIV., had been the strongest and most splendid monarchy
in the world, the realisation of that ideal monarchy in which the king
is not simply a figure-head, but a governor whom all in his realm obey,
they being his real, not nominal, _subjects_, thrown under his feet by
a destiny outside of choice. Neither was Louis XIV. simply a governor;
he was at the same time a kind of demigod, who dwelt in the midst of
a ceremonious cultus whereof he was the centre and the object. And
although this great prince had degraded the nobility into courtiers,
the noble class was still a numerous and a coherent caste which had to
be pulverised by democratic legislation before the democratic principle
could be finally established. Surely it is not surprising that every
step in advance should have been followed by a reaction. Restorations,
periods of lassitude, experiments, mistakes--all these were the
natural concomitants of a transition for which French history shows no
precedent; yet so long as the transition was actually in progress how
few Englishmen understood it--how few of them perceived that the modern
democratic idea was always, in spite of appearances, steadily making
its way!

[Sidenote: Difference between the English and French Revolutions.]

[Sidenote: Establishment of Cabinet Government.]

The English revolution has differed from the French in one important
particular. The English have no written constitutions, and therefore
they do not violate them, there being nothing, in fact, to violate.
Although the change of dynasty was made openly, and the Protestant
succession established, it has been possible for another revolution
to take place in complete obscurity, a revolution far more radical
than any change of dynasty, and of far greater political importance
than the religion of the king. The reader knows that I am alluding to
the establishment of cabinet government. This, the greatest of all
revolutions, has accomplished itself so insidiously that nobody can
tell the date of it. French revolutionary dates are all perfectly well
known, but this momentous English date is a mystery even to the English.

[Sidenote: Copied by France.]

[Sidenote: Precarious Existence of French Cabinets.]

[Sidenote: Delusive Effect of Words.]

[Sidenote: New Way of enforcing a President’s Retirement.]

What gives especial importance to the English system of cabinet
government is that it has been exactly copied by France. The United
States of America have a system of their own, presidential government,
that the French entirely overlooked when they made their present
constitution, though some of the more thoughtful amongst them now
regret that it was not adopted in preference to the English.[24]
In France, as in England, the Lower House elects the cabinet by
overthrowing every cabinet that does not happen to please it, and
a French cabinet, like an English one, lives a precarious life,
dependent either upon its representation of the ideas most prevalent
in the Chamber, or else on servile submission to its will. Such is
the delusive effect of words, that the use of the words “Republic,”
“President,” “Senate,” makes unthinking people believe that the French
have adopted the American system rather than the English. There is only
one essential difference between England and France, and that has been
quite recently discovered. The French deputies have found out a way
of making the president retire by declining to accept cabinet offices
under him, and in case of real or seeming necessity this method will
certainly be resorted to again. On the other hand, no human being can
foresee by what method an English House of Commons would compel an
unpopular Sovereign to abdicate.[25]

[Sidenote: Peaceful Changes of Persons.]

The compulsory retirement of President Grévy and the peaceful
election of his successor have completed the modern French system of
_making all changes of persons possible without violence_. This is
perhaps the best guarantee for internal tranquillity, especially in a
country like France, where political reputations are soon used up and
services almost immediately forgotten. It is also, in its far-reaching
consequences, the most important ultimate result of the French



[Sidenote: “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.”]

Of the three words, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” an Englishman
usually accepts the first as a noble aim for nations, whilst he smiles
at the two others.[26]

[Sidenote: French Republicans only Free.]

“Liberty” is a sacred word in England, its birthplace and its home. We
all know what we mean by it, and I need not attempt a definition, still
it may be well for us to think how it is that the English all believe
themselves to be free, whilst in France it is only the republicans
who think that of themselves. The monarchists, still a large and
influential body, believe themselves to be all victims of oppression.

[Sidenote: Reason for the Difference in sense of Freedom between
England and France.]

The answer may be given in a brief sentence. The English believe
themselves to be free, simply because they have got into the habit of
accepting the decision of a majority in the House of Commons, even
when it is against themselves. The decision is always accepted, though
frequently with the intention of getting it reversed at a future date.

The French reactionary classes have not this feeling of respect for
the decisions of the Chamber of Deputies. They have not got into the
habit of it, perhaps they never will, and they chafe under every
adverse decision, which seems to them a distinct act of tyranny.

[Sidenote: Nothing Sacred in a Majority.]

“There is nothing sacred in a majority,” they say. To this an
Englishman can only answer that in the working of free institutions it
has been found a convenience to accept the decisions of majorities, at
least provisionally.

The French reactionaries have neither acquired this habit nor are they
likely to acquire it, so the feeling of being oppressed must remain
with them, particularly as they are not likely to procure the abolition
of universal suffrage.

[Sidenote: A Resemblance between France and England.]

[Sidenote: Mr. Gladstone.]

[Sidenote: Effects of a Contest of Classes.]

[Sidenote: The Irish Question a Class Question.]

[Sidenote: Powerful Social Opposition to Mr. Gladstone.]

[Sidenote: French Upper Classes overborne by Numbers.]

[Sidenote: The “Classes” deny the Existence of “Liberty” in France.]

A resemblance between France and England is much more likely to be
brought about in another way. Considerable numbers of people in the
English upper classes are already feeling a hatred for Mr. Gladstone
comparable in intensity to that which their French equals had for
Gambetta. Mr. Gladstone himself gave the signal for combat by opposing
“the masses” to “the classes” in words that will be long remembered.
Mr. Morley said of the House of Lords that it must be “either mended
or ended,” and that expression also is one not likely to be forgotten.
Now if we suppose the case, not absolutely impossible, of these two
democratic English leaders, at the head of a strong majority in the
House of Commons, legislating in the sense indicated broadly and
generally by the expressions just quoted, would the English “classes”
have a heartfelt respect for the new laws? Judging by present signs
of the times, it seems by no means unlikely that the sentiments of
a defeated English upper-class minority would resemble those of
the same defeated class in France. A contest of classes is a bitter
contest, and England, as yet, has had but a slight experience of it.
How much the Irish question has become, in England, a class question,
may be seen by the frank acknowledgment of Mr. Gladstone that “the
classes” are against him. Besides the majority in the House of Commons
which is against Home rule (in the present year, 1888), Mr. Gladstone
enumerates as its opponents “nine-tenths of the House of Lords;
nine-tenths at least of what is termed the wealth of the country and
of the vast forces of social influence, an overwhelming share (in its
own estimation) of British intellect, and undoubtedly an enormous
proportion of those who have received an academical education in
England.”[27] If Mr. Gladstone hopes to overcome these great social
powers, it can only be by the popular vote; and if he conquers by that
means, then he will have established the state of things which exists
in France, where the upper classes are overborne by numbers. It is
easy to apply Mr. Gladstone’s own phrases, with a slight change, quite
truly to the French. “Nine-tenths of the nobility, nine-tenths at least
of what is called the wealth of the country, and of the vast forces
of social influence, an overwhelming share (in its own estimation) of
French intellect, and undoubtedly an enormous proportion of those who
have received a clerical education”[28] are hostile to the Republic in
France. And what in consequence? The consequence is that these classes
entirely deny the existence of liberty in that country, although voting
is perfectly free, and laws are always passed by a majority.

[Sidenote: Minorities live on Hope.]

[Sidenote: English Liberty in the last Generation.]

A close study of French feeling (and of English feeling as it is
gradually assimilating itself to French) has led me to the following
conclusion: _Government by majority is considered to be a state of
liberty only so long as opposing forces are so nearly balanced that
the minority of to-day may hope to become the majority of to-morrow._
A minority lives on hope, when it has no hope it becomes bitter and
considers itself the victim of tyranny. To understand English liberty
as it flourished in the last generation, we must remember that it meant
for the “classes” the kind of liberty a gentleman and his wife enjoy in
their own house. They may have disputes between themselves, sometimes
one has the upper hand and sometimes the other, but whichever rules
for the day there is no insubordination amongst the domestics, and, if
there were, the two would unite to repress it.

[Sidenote: Liberty to govern Others.]

[Sidenote: Liberty according to Leo XIII.]

In a word, by “liberty” people really understand liberty to govern
others. The most conspicuous example of this interpretation is given by
Leo XIII., who says that he can enjoy no sense of freedom in Rome until
he is permitted to govern all the other inhabitants of the city.

[Sidenote: Cameral Government. The most Modern Form of Absolutism.]

[Sidenote: French Jealousy of born Rulers.]

[Sidenote: Opposition of the French Chamber to Individualities.]

Whether it can be called “liberty” or not, the kind of government which
has succeeded in establishing itself in England and France is exactly
the same in both countries. It is cameral government, the rule of a
single chamber, the most modern form of absolutism, especially when
the chamber delegates all its power to one man. The French Chamber has
been so clearly aware of the power such a man would wield that it has
shown an extreme jealousy of personal government ever since MacMahon’s
unsuccessful experiment. It would not permit even Gambetta to become a
potentate. It perceived the fine governing faculties of Jules Ferry and
put him aside. Nobody with a despotic temper has a chance of remaining
prime minister. The meddling disposition of Wilson was supposed to be
creating an occult personal power at the Elysée, so he was expelled
from that palace, even though his expulsion involved that of a good
president. The same jealousy of personal power removed General
Boulanger from the War Office. The longer cameral government lasts in
France, the more evident it becomes that the Chamber means to have its
way in everything and to suppress all inconvenient individualities.

[Sidenote: Numbers _versus_ Genius in the House of Commons.]

We have not to go far back in English history to observe the same
tendency in the House of Commons. The English Chamber has dealt with
Mr. Gladstone in the French fashion. The dissentient Liberals caused
his downfall with no more regard for his splendid reputation than if
they had been so many French deputies. They had, no doubt, a perfect
right to act independently, but it was an assertion of the power of
numbers in the House of Commons against the authority of genius and

[Sidenote: Mr. Frederic Harrison on the Autocracy of the House.]

“In spite of appearances,” said Mr. Frederic Harrison on the 1st of
January 1886, “and conventional formulas, habits, and fictions to the
contrary, the House of Commons represents the most absolute autocracy
ever set up by a great nation since the French Revolution. Government
here is now merely a committee of that huge democratic club, the House
of Commons, without any of the reserves of power in other parts of the
constitution which are to be found in the constitutions of France and
the United States.”

[Sidenote: Small Practical Value of Paper Guarantees.]

[Sidenote: Only one real Power in France.]

America lies outside of our present subject, but with regard to France
there is little to be said for “the reserves of power in other parts of
the constitution.” They look very reassuring on paper, in reality their
effect is feeble. It is plain that President Grévy had the clearest
right to stay at his post, and he had no desire to abandon it. He had
been guilty of no crime or misdemeanour, he had been invested with
authority for seven years. What was that authority worth when it came
to a contest with the Chamber? Dissolution? The senate dared not help
him to dissolve. When that saddened and broken old man followed his
luggage out of the courtyard of the Elysée the world knew that there
was only one real power in France.

[Sidenote: Cameral Jealousy a Safeguard of Liberty.]

[Sidenote: But unfavourable to vigorous Policy.]

The inference from these events in the two countries is that the
tendency of this new thing, cameral government, may at first be to
create a powerful despot with the support of the chamber, but that
after longer experience an elected chamber will become wary and keep
very much on its guard against eminent persons, however eloquent, and
will be jealous of them and keep them down. This watchful jealousy in
a chamber may turn out to be the best of all safeguards for national
liberty--it saved France from the authority of Gambetta, a man of a
most despotic disposition--but it is unfavourable to an _esprit de
suite_ in policy or to a vigorous policy of any kind, either at home or
abroad, as we may all see by the ephemeral French cabinets, in which
mediocrity and obscurity appear to be positive recommendations.

[Sidenote: Effect of Political on Religious Liberty. Political
Revolution and Religious Change.]

[Sidenote: In France.]

[Sidenote: In England.]

[Sidenote: Incomplete Character of Religious Liberty in England.]

[Sidenote: Freedom of Discussion in England.]

Political liberty is seldom without some kind of effect on religious
liberty. A political revolution may be associated with a religious
change in one of two ways. It may proclaim the right to real liberty
of thought, or it may substitute a new orthodoxy for an old one. The
first was done in France in 1789 by the Declaration of the Rights of
Man; the second was done twice over in England--once by erecting a
new Anglican orthodoxy, and a second time by erecting a new Puritan
orthodoxy, the ultimate effect of the last being the establishment of
religious freedom for various classes of Protestant dissenters, but
not for unbelievers. “The denial of the truth of Christianity,” says
Professor Dicey, “or of the authority of the Scriptures by ‘writing,
printing, teaching, or advised speaking,’ on the part of any person who
has been educated in or made profession of Christianity in England, is
by statute a criminal offence, entailing very severe penalties. When
once, however, the principles of the common law and the force of the
enactments still contained in the statute-book are really appreciated,
no one can maintain that the law of England recognises anything like
that natural right to the free communication of thoughts and opinions
which was proclaimed in France nearly a hundred years ago to be one
of the most valuable Rights of Man.... Freedom of discussion is, in
England, little else than the right to write or say anything which a
jury, consisting of twelve shopkeepers, think it expedient should be
said or written. Such liberty may vary at different times and seasons
from unrestricted license to very severe restraint.”



[Sidenote: Novelties adopted by Conservative Feeling.]

No country can be more favourable than France for the observation of
that process by which a startling novelty is taken after a short time
under the protection of the most sober conservative feeling.

[Sidenote: France both Experimental and Conservative.]

[Sidenote: Partially Successful Experiments.]

France is at the same time willing to make hazardous experiments, and
yet extremely conservative by natural disposition. The consequence of
these two apparently opposite tendencies in the same nation is that
the results of successful experiments are preserved for continuous
practical application, and the rest very soon discarded and forgotten.
Sometimes an experiment has been partially successful and is thought
to have failed temporarily, not from any want of applicability in the
idea itself, but owing to unfavourable circumstances. In such cases the
experiment is not likely to be lost. It will be tried again, at least
once, or more than once.

[Sidenote: Experimental and Conservative Tendencies in French

The two tendencies, experimental and conservative, have both been
manifested many times in French constitutions. How many there have been
of them I cannot inform the reader. Dicey gives a minimum of sixteen;
there may have been more. The number of them is of no importance; the
state of mind that produced them is alone of any real importance.

[Sidenote: The Love of Change not the Motive for making written

[Sidenote: The Desire for Order and Permanence.]

[Sidenote: Premature Hopes of Order.]

[Sidenote: Revision.]

It has commonly been assumed that a state of mind which could produce
so many constitutions was animated by the love of change. This is
exactly the opposite of the truth. Those who love change on its own
account provide for it by the most elastic arrangements in order to
leave everything open. The state of feeling that induces men to bind
themselves, or try to bind themselves, by written rules for their
future guidance is a desire for order and permanence. All that can
be truly said against the French experimenters is that their hopes
of orderly arrangements were premature. Even when producing disorder
they have been lovers of order and desired it, though during many
years, in the eagerness of inexperience, they failed to perceive that
their political life was still too much unsettled to be cast into
fixed forms. At last, without abandoning the safeguard of a written
constitution (that of 1875 has already a respectable antiquity), they
have provided for future changes by making revision possible under
conditions that have hitherto completely assured the maintenance of

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Maine on the Dislike to Change.]

[Sidenote: The Mohammedan World.]

[Sidenote: Africa.]

[Sidenote: China.]

The reader perhaps remembers how eloquently Sir Henry Maine described
the dislike to change which is inherent in large bodies of mankind.
“Vast populations, some of them with a civilisation considerable but
peculiar, detest that which in the west would be called reform. The
entire Mohammedan world detests it. The multitude of coloured men who
swarm in the great continent of Africa detest it, and it is detested by
that large part of mankind which we are accustomed to leave on one side
as barbarous or savage. The millions upon millions of men who fill the
Chinese empire loathe it and (what is more) despise it.... There is not
the shadow of a doubt that the enormous mass of the Indian population
hates and dreads change, as is natural in the parts of a body-social
solidified by caste.”[29]

[Sidenote: Modern Character of the Enthusiasm for Change.]

Sir Henry Maine afterwards pointed out that the enthusiasm for change
was not only comparatively rare but also extremely modern. “It is known
but to a small part of mankind, and to that part but for a short period
during a history of incalculable length. It is not older than the free
employment of legislation by popular governments.”

[Sidenote: Universal Conservatism of Women.]

The intention of the passages quoted is to depreciate the love
of reform in modern life, and is therefore unfriendly to popular
government as we know it, but this unfriendly intention does not
deprive the quotations of their truth. All that, and much more written
by the same author on that subject, is strictly true. He went on to
point to the intense and universal conservatism of women, “in all
communities the strictest conservators of usage and the sternest
censors of departure from accepted rules of morals, manners, and

[Sidenote: Rarity of the Reforming Impulses.]

This constant strength of conservative instinct is not counterbalanced
by any equivalent reforming instinct. It is not our hereditary habit of
mind that leads us to reform, but our occasional fits of reasoning and
of intellectual unrest.

[Sidenote: French Tendency to a Democratic Conservatism.]

My belief about the French is that their real tendency is decidedly
not revolutionary but towards a democratic conservatism, and that they
move towards this end by gradually including first one thing and then
another in the catalogue of fixed usages.

[Sidenote: A French Theory of ultimate Civilisations.]

[Sidenote: France thought to be approaching her Complete Development.]

An intelligent French writer has maintained that every race in the
world advances towards a certain ultimate civilisation which is
naturally its own, and that when this civilisation is attained there
may be an end to change for centuries, or even, as in China, for
thousands of years. He believed that France was rapidly approaching
the complete development of that peculiar kind of civilisation for
which the French genius is fitted, and might afterwards enter upon a
changeless time of very long duration.

[Sidenote: Example of the Decimal Systems.]

The decimal system of weights and measures and the decimal coinage are
good examples of a recent innovation established at first by law and
already protected by conservative usage. I never met with a Frenchman
who desired to go back to the old complicated system; indeed the
facility of calculation by the decimal method has spoiled the French
for any other. I see no reason why the present decimal systems should
not endure with French civilisation. They are exactly in accordance
with the scientific turn of the race, and with its love of promptitude,
clearness, rapidity, and uniformity.[30]

[Sidenote: Division of France into Departments.]

Then there is the division of the country into departments. The old
historical provinces were too large for administrative purposes, the
departments are highly convenient. Being named after the natural
features of the country, they at once convey to the mind an idea of
their situation in physical geography. The division could not have
been better done; it has now become as familiar to the French as
division by counties is to the English, and the two may be equally

[Sidenote: The System of Departmental Administration.]

The same may be said of the highly-organised and extremely convenient
system of departmental administration. It has survived several great
changes of government, and is likely to outlive any others that may
occur in the future. Some slight modifications may be introduced, such
as the suppression of useless sub-prefectures.

[Sidenote: The French University likely to last.]

The French University, which has schools in every department of France,
and academic examining bodies in seventeen (including Algeria), is
one of those institutions of Napoleon I. which seem likely to last
with his code. It answers to the desire in the middle classes for a
widely-spread Latin and mathematical education. This education may be
modified in future years without destroying the University.

[Sidenote: Probable Permanent Character of Universal Suffrage.]

Universal suffrage has always been so difficult to abolish that nobody
has attempted it, though no institution can be more cordially detested
by some influential classes. The universality of military service
has greatly increased the strength of universal suffrage, as every
man may be called upon to die for the country, and therefore thinks
that he has a natural right to vote. We are familiar with the phrase
“a stake in the country.” Every Frenchman has at least one stake in
the country--his life. There is not the most remote probability that
universal suffrage will ever be repealed.

[Sidenote: Probable Permanence of Representative Government.]

Many quite sober-minded and thoughtful Frenchmen are now of opinion
that representative government, after several unsuccessful attempts, is
firmly and finally established in their country. I dare hardly go so
far as to assert so much, but I am fully convinced that, if not now, it
will be ultimately the fixed form of government in France.

[Sidenote: Abandonment of the Republican Calendar.]

[Sidenote: A Calendar ought to be International.]

As an example of a reform which has _not_ been preserved I may mention
the republican calendar. It was both beautiful and rational in its
observation of nature, and was certainly an improvement upon the old
calendar in the choice of names, but it fell into disuse from its
inconvenience. It was only national and not international as a calendar
ought to be. In times like these, when the French decimal coinage is
already an international system, it would be a reactionary measure to
go back to a national calendar. It will only be revived if several
other nations agree to use it at the same time, which is not likely to

[Sidenote: The Church of England.]

[Sidenote: Wonderful Change that led to its Establishment.]

[Sidenote: The Strength of Anglicanism.]

In England it is easy to point to several institutions, once quite
new and having the character of innovations, which the spirit of
conservatism immediately adopted and has since defended quite as
resolutely as if they were of immemorial antiquity. The most wonderful
of these is the Church of England. The more one learns of the temper of
aristocracies, the more astonishing it seems that a great aristocracy
can ever have changed the outward form of its religion. Try to imagine
the French _noblesse_ becoming “evangelical,” or think in our own day
of the utter hopelessness of any project for converting the English
gentry to Wesleyan Methodism! Such transformations are unthinkable,
yet the fact remains that the English nobility and gentry did once
go over _en masse_ to the new communion, and that they have been as
conservative of it ever since as if it were still the faith of their
ancestors. Anglicanism is every whit as strong in England as the older
Church is in France, though Roman Catholicism is a natural growth
formed by the evolution of the religious sentiment through ages. The
strength of Anglicanism as a social and political institution is
proved by nothing more clearly than this, that in our own day, in
many individual cases, it actually outlives Christianity. I mean that
in these cases all dogma is rejected or explained away, whilst the
Anglican name and customs are preserved.

[Sidenote: Catholic Emancipation.]

[Sidenote: English Conservative Sympathy with French Catholics.]

Catholic Emancipation was most vigorously resented by English
conservative sentiment in the third decade of the present century.
In its ninth decade not only are Catholics on a footing of political
equality with their fellow-subjects, but their superior clergy are
treated with a deference and a consideration never given to Protestant
Dissenters. The most venerated ecclesiastic in England is a Cardinal.
Whenever the Catholic party in France is in conflict with the State it
is sure of conservative sympathy in England.[31] Any attempt to replace
Catholics under the ban would now be resented by the upper classes.

[Sidenote: The Revolutionary Monarchy.]

[Sidenote: Revival of Divine Right.]

The revolutionary monarchy has now been so loyally adopted in England
that we only remember its revolutionary origin when historical students
remind us of it. For the common people, especially for the religious,
Her Majesty reigns by divine right. There seems to be a shade of
impiety and even a perceptible odour of treason in the crude assertion
that she reigns simply by Act of Parliament.

[Sidenote: Permanent Nature of Popular Gains.]

[Sidenote: Little Reaction in England.]

On the other hand, popular claims that were once violently resisted
assume, when they have been admitted, the character of indefeasible
rights. Every extension of the suffrage is a popular gain, not for a
time only, but for ever. Every gain made by the friends of religious
toleration, and by those who work in hope for a future condition of
religious equality, is a sure and permanent gain. There is a great deal
of conservatism in England, there is little or no reaction. Indeed,
the words “reaction” and “reactionary” are scarcely English words at
all in a political sense; they are French words. No Englishman ever
has that spiteful hatred of the present which distinguishes the French

[Sidenote: The Conservatism of Antipathy.]

[Sidenote: Thiers and Railways.]

[Sidenote: England and the Suez Canal.]

There is a species of conservatism both in England and France which
is maintained by mutual antipathy. Each country clings desperately to
its old ways when a better way has been shown by the other, and if one
of them feels compelled, at last, to follow the other’s example, the
utmost care is taken to disguise the imitation, so that it may not seem
to be an acknowledgment of superiority. The reader may remember how
unwillingly Thiers admitted the merits of railways, how he visited the
north of England to see and try them, and how he reported unfavourably
to his government, saying that railways might answer for England,
but could never be suitable to France. The parallel instance is the
well-known English unbelief in the Suez Canal, a French undertaking.

[Sidenote: English Opposition to French Decimal Systems.]

[Sidenote: Intolerable English System of Weights and Measures.]

[Sidenote: French Objection to the Penny Post.]

Here are two other examples, the English unwillingness to accept the
French decimal systems, because they are French, and the unwillingness,
on the other side of the Channel, to take the British penny postage
stamp as it was. The English monetary system is inconvenient, but
it is not intolerable, and may be retained for centuries; the system
(or chaos) of weights and measures is incoherent and intolerable. Few
Englishmen could part with the pound sterling without a pang, but
surely it need not cost them much sorrow to see the extinction of the
pound troy, which is two hundred and forty pennyweights, of the pound
avoirdupois, which is two hundred and fifty-six drams, and of the
apothecaries’ pound, which is two hundred and eighty-eight scruples.
The objection to the metrical system is not absolute, the English are
coming to it slowly, it is already legal, and men of science have long
since adopted it. The French objection to the penny post is gradually
giving way to the desire for increased cheapness, and now the letter
has got down to three sous; but why this reluctance, on both sides, to
adopt the neighbour’s good invention in its simplicity?[32]

[Sidenote: Slow Assimilation of France and England.]

France and England do gradually learn from each other against their
will. The consequence is that their political habits are slowly
assimilating. The English have adopted the closure, and are tending
towards earlier parliamentary sittings. In elections they have
accepted the French system of secret voting, and in course of time they
will accept the French principle of “one man, one vote.” In 1888 the
English at last adopted the French _Conseils Généraux_.



[Sidenote: Reactionary French Ideas about English Stability.]

It is customary with the reactionary parties in France to look to
England as the model of everything that is stable; and as their
ignorance of English affairs prevents them from seeing what is going
on beneath the surface, they conclude that what they believe to be the
British constitution is invested with indefinite durability, whilst the
French republican constitution is always about to perish.

[Sidenote: Old Institutions provoke Change.]

In calculating thus, the French reactionists omit one consideration
of immense importance. They fail to see that the very presence of old
institutions, unless they are so perfectly adapted to modern wants as
to make people forget that they are old, is in itself a provocative to
the spirit of change, and that it excites a desire for novelty which
remains unappeased so long as the old institutions last. The old thing
quickens the impulse to modernise when something not old enough to
attract attention by its antiquity would have left that special and
peculiar passion unawakened.

[Sidenote: Mediæval Buildings.]

[Sidenote: “Historical Monuments.”]

As an example of this, I may mention the existence of mediæval
buildings in the streets of a town. Such buildings act as a powerful
stimulus to the destructive tendencies of modern municipalities.
French cities formerly abounded in such old buildings, but the
municipalities cleared most of them away, and it became necessary to
restrain this destructive instinct by the enactment of a law for the
protection of all buildings classed as “historical monuments.”

[Sidenote: Anti-Conservative Effect of the House of Lords.]

In like manner the presence of the State Church in England, of the
hereditary legislating peers, and of the royal family, as well as of
many other ancient things of minor importance, is a stimulus to the
spirit of change in radical politicians. It sounds paradoxical, but
it is true, that the conservative House of Lords is an obstacle to
the final establishment of a conservative spirit in the people. Great
numbers of the English electors and many of their representatives are
animated by the same tendency to destroy and reconstruct which used to
be very active in France.

[Sidenote: A Future of Change for Great Britain.]

[Sidenote: Instability in English Cabinets.]

[Sidenote: Division into two Parties at an End.]

It does not require any special clearness of vision to perceive
that, so far from having closed the era of great changes, Great
Britain and Ireland have only entered upon it. Their future for many
years, perhaps for an entire century, is destined to be a future of
change,--of change desired eagerly by some, resisted with all the
strength of self-protecting instinct by many others, admitted to
be inevitable by the wise, who will be anxious only to direct and
control it wisely. It will be a time of uncertainty and unrest, of new
political combinations, and very probably of ephemeral cabinets. The
tendency to instability in cabinets was already manifest before the
coalition which enabled Lord Salisbury’s government to live.[33] The
well-known difficulty in finding support for any government in France
was beginning to show itself very plainly in England also. Except on
a single question, the House of Commons will no longer conveniently
divide itself into two parties, after the old English fashion, but
splits into three or four, almost like the French Chamber.

[Sidenote: Labouchere’s Resolution against the Hereditary Principle,

[Sidenote: “The Writing on the Wall.”]

The condition of instability which already exists in England, was
strikingly illustrated in the year 1886 by a chance vote in the House
of Commons. Mr. Labouchere had so powerful a minority in favour of his
resolution against the hereditary principle in the other House, that
a sign from Mr. Gladstone would have immediately converted it into a
majority, and Mr. Gladstone’s support of the resolution was refused in
terms scarcely more consolatory for hereditary legislators than those
of the resolution itself. The House did not listen to Mr. Labouchere’s
speech with indignation, but with amusement, and the only incident
of any solemnity was the exclamation of a member who cried out “The
Writing on the Wall!” when the formidable minority was made known. Now,
although the English have not any written constitution, all foreigners
have hitherto been accustomed to believe in the dignity and permanence
of the House of Lords, and they have believed it to be a part of that
great reality which was called _La Constitution Anglaise_. How is
it possible to retain these old beliefs after such a parliamentary
incident as this?

[Sidenote: Stability of Established Churches.]

[Sidenote: Difficulty of Tolerance in a State Church.]

[Sidenote: Dislike felt by Dissenters to being treated as Inferiors.]

The question of stability as it affects established Churches will
be dealt with in the chapters on Religion. The true cause of the
instability of Anglicanism is not religious, but social. A State Church
can hardly afford to be tolerant; the necessities of her position
require her to repress Dissent with the strong hand, as the dominant
Churches both in England and France have done in other ages. If a
State Church has no longer the strength to persecute efficaciously,
free religious communities will grow up around her, and in course
of time they will claim equality. They have got it in France by
co-establishment, which postpones the final separation; but in England
there is not co-establishment, and it is too late to think of that
expedient, as some well-intentioned men are now doing. The Dissenters
dislike being treated as inferiors; they are weary of being put “under
the ban.” I remember reading a letter from a Dissenter who had visited
America, describing the novel and delightful sensation of being in a
country where he was not “under the ban” on account of his religious
opinions, and his sensations on returning to England, where, as a
Dissenter, he felt at every step that he was placed in an inferior
caste. In France the sacerdotal power owes its present instability and
precariousness of tenure to its essentially political character. In
both countries the real and genuine religious hatred which belonged
to the old spirit of enmity between Catholic and Protestant has given
place to a newer and less virulent kind of antagonism.

[Sidenote: Preference of Utility to Dignity.]

[Sidenote: More August Institutions in England than in France.]

The essential character of all modern political change is the
preference of utility to dignity, and consequently of useful
institutions to august institutions. At the present time (1888) there
are many more august institutions in England than in France. Not only
have we the monarchy and the House of Peers, but there are still the
old romantic orders of knighthood, including the Garter, which is the
most august order in the world, and the least democratic. In France
such institutions have been replaced by the Presidency of the Republic,
the Senate, and the Legion of Honour, all much less august than the
throne of Saint Louis, the Peers of France, and the Order of the Holy
Ghost. The change is something like that from pope and cardinals to an
evangelical consistory.

[Sidenote: Security of the English Throne.]

Will England herself retain eternally what remains to her of the august
dignities of the past? It is now believed that the State Church and the
House of Lords are both institutions of doubtful durability. Is the
throne itself secure from that destructive spirit which is threatening

[Sidenote: Effect of Personal Character in the King.]

[Sidenote: Possible Consequence of the Victorian Epoch.]

[Sidenote: Possible Results of an Authoritative Reign.]

[Sidenote: Personal Considerations.]

The truest answer may be that the fate of the throne depends far more
on the qualities of a single individual than does the fate of the
other august English institutions. A very good, wise, and prudent king
would make the throne last during a long reign; a bad, incompetent,
foolish king would certainly unsettle and perhaps overturn it. In
the nineteenth century the person who has done most for the English
monarchy began her work as a girl, and said to Spring Rice fifty years
ago, “Never mention the word ‘trouble.’ Only tell me how the thing
is to be done, to be done rightly, and I will do it if I can”[34]
It is possible, however, that Her Majesty’s reign, though it has
immensely strengthened the throne for the present, may have unexpected
consequences. Whilst it lasts, the country is the happiest of
republics, enjoying complete liberty under the presidency of the person
most respected in the State. To go back, after that, to a condition of
real subjection under a masterful and meddlesome king, is more than the
English people would ever be likely to endure. It remains a question,
too, whether the country would endure a king who, without being what
might be called a tyrant, was simply determined to make his position
a reality. Suppose, for example, that instead of being a minister,
Lord Salisbury, with his governing instincts, had been king. He would
have attempted to control many things, but would the loyalty of the
country have borne the strain? What thoughtful English people say now
in private, amounts to this: that the Queen will certainly remain
undisturbed, that her son will probably have a quiet reign, and reap
the fruits of his unsparing personal work, but that beyond him nothing
is known. The old positive certainty about the duration of the monarchy
in England, whatever the quality of the monarch, has given place to
personal considerations.

[Sidenote: A Future Radical Party.]

There is another possibility that may lead to anything but settled rest
and peace. The country may divide itself into two extreme parties: the
advocates of a really strong monarchy, with an active, ruling king,
may be opposed to a vigorous radical party that would then be openly
republican. If ever this should come to pass, it is hard to see how
civil disturbance could be avoided. A determined sovereign, under such
circumstances, might proclaim himself Emperor, not only of India, but
of Great Britain, and the Gladstone of the day might answer that move
by bold republicanism in the House of Commons.

[Sidenote: The Future of France.]

[Sidenote: Present Desire for Rest in France.]

[Sidenote: Extinction of the Royalist Sentiment.]

The future of France has now rather better prospects of stability, or
might have them, if the effects of the next war with Germany were
not so difficult to foresee. The reason is not because the French are
less fickle than the English, but simply because they have got through
more of the long revolutionary process, so that the new order is more
under the protection of popular conservative instincts. There is also a
strong desire for rest, a weariness of change after the most disturbed
century of the national existence. The single wish of the people is to
pursue their avocations in peace, and if the plain truth must be told,
they have no longer the old capacity for political enthusiasm. The
genuine royalist sentiment is almost extinct; if it lingers at all, it
is only in a few aristocratic families, and hardly even in these since
the death of Henri V. deprived it alike of object and aliment. Even the
Count of Paris himself does not reverence the Divine Right of royalty
in his own person, since he condescends to bid against the Bonapartists
for democratic acceptance.

[Sidenote: Coolness of French Republican Sentiment. Coolness of the

[Sidenote: Coolness a Sign of settled Possession.]

On the other hand, the republican sentiment, though resolute as to the
preservation of republican forms, has certainly become wonderfully
cool. The coolness of the young men is especially remarkable and
significant. They are mostly republicans, it is true, and have no
belief in the possibility of a monarchical restoration, but the
more intelligent of them see the difficulties and the defects of a
republican government very plainly, and they have a tendency to dwell
upon those difficulties and defects in a manner that would astonish the
militant republicans of the past. This composed and rational temper
is the state of mind that comes upon all of us after the settled
possession of an object, and it is a _sign_ of settled possession. I
myself have known two generations of French republicans, the ardent,
hopeful, self-sacrificing men who looked forward, as from the desert to
the promised land, and now their sons, for whom the promised land has
the incurable defect of being no longer ideal.

[Sidenote: Reason for the Probable Duration of the Democracy.]

[Sidenote: Sir Henry Maine. His Contemptuous Estimation of a French

[Sidenote: Influence of a French President.]

Democratic institutions may vary in their form and still remain
democratic. I should not venture to predict eternal duration for the
present French republican forms, but I believe that the democracy will
last, if only because it is inconceivable that an aristocracy should
ever destroy it and take its place. The strong popular conservative
tendency which has been already noticed may possibly preserve both the
senate and the presidence. Sir Henry Maine had a very contemptuous
estimate of the position of a French president, whose position he
considered “pitiable.” That is merely an example of the English habit
of despising, already alluded to. If the position of president were
“pitiable,” it would not be so much coveted by the leading politicians.
In dignity it is inferior, no doubt, to that of a great king, but it
is superior to the minor royalties. In influence it is enough to say
that it is superior to that of a merely ceremonial monarch, because
the president presides over councils of ministers, and is, in fact,
himself a permanent minister, or the only minister with any approach
to permanence. It is not surprising that a constitutional sovereign
should manifest a constant unwillingness to read speeches composed by
others, to be afterwards criticised in Parliament with utter disregard
of the royal name that covers them. A French president is at least
permitted to write his own messages, which are the expression of his
own opinions. The greatest function of a French president is a very
lofty and noble one. It is to smooth asperities, to diminish the bad
effect of political dissension, and to be watchful of the interests of
the country. He has also a direct and immediate influence on foreign
affairs, which has already proved useful on more than one occasion.
These are reasons why the office may possibly be maintained, but there
is another reason that affects the estimation of the republic in rural
districts. The country looks to the president with satisfaction as
the nearest approach to permanence that a democratic constitution can
admit. What Bagehot said of the Queen twenty years ago is in a great
measure true of the French president to-day. Amidst the frequent
changes of ministers he is comparatively stable. The peasants follow
with difficulty the names of successive ministers, but they all know
the name of the president, and his portrait is seen everywhere. Their
belief about the president is that he is a respectable, trustworthy
man: “C’est un brave homme, Mossieu Grévy (or Carnot, as the case may
be), je le crois b’en, moi.” Is that nothing? It is not the Russian’s
adoration of the Czar, nor the German’s affection for old Kaiser
Wilhelm, but it is an element of tranquillity in the State.





An established religion is a religion under the especial protection
of the Government, and which is held to be national, at least in this
sense, that it represents the nation before the throne of God.

[Sidenote: Degrees of Nationality in Established Religions.]

There are, however, very different degrees of nationality in the
religions themselves. Thus, to establish our first comparison between
France and England, there is no religion whatever in France which is so
national as the Anglican Church.

[Sidenote: Subjection of Clergy to the State.]

[Sidenote: Anglicanism on the Continent.]

The clergy of the Church of England are in all things subject to the
Queen, or to speak more accurately to Parliament. The bishops have
exactly that degree of authority in their dioceses which Parliament
allows them, and no more. Even in matters of doctrine and ritual the
clergy are subject to the secular power. They are so entirely national
that outside of the nation they have no earthly protector to appeal to.
They might be despoiled of their possessions and privileges without
calling forth so much as a remonstrance from any foreign potentate,
and without arousing the slightest sympathy outside of the Anglo-Saxon
race. They have a beautiful liturgy, but it is in English, and
appreciated only by English readers. On the continent the Church of
England wins hardly any proselytes, and can scarcely be said to exist
except for British embassies and tourists.

[Sidenote: Intense Nationality of Anglicanism.]

No institution can be more intensely national than the Church of
England. She is national by the very qualities that have made her
unsuccessful abroad. She is national because she answers so exactly
to the character and disposition of Englishmen, and particularly of
Englishwomen. It is as fitting that she should be the established
Church, so long as any established religion is held to be necessary,
as it is that the national customs in food and dress should be the
national customs.

[Sidenote: Absence of a National Church in France.]

[Sidenote: International Character of French Priesthood.]

In France we find no Church whatever that has this decided and peculiar
character of nationality. France is said to be Catholic in the sense
that the majority of the people profess the Roman Catholic religion,
and it certainly does appear that this faith answers more nearly to
the wants of French people than any other. Still, the French clergy
is not national, it is _inter_national, it is nearer to the Roman
Catholic priesthoods of Spain and Austria than it is to the French
laity. Its head is not a Frenchman living in France but an Italian
living in Italy, and its liturgy is in a foreign tongue. It accepts
all Papal decisions, and it does not accept the decisions of the
French Government. It looks with reverence to the Vatican, and without
reverence to the Palais Bourbon and Elysée. Even in the use of words
it follows a foreign authority. The French Government has recognised
the kingdom of Italy, and has an ambassador at the court of Rome. The
pope has not recognised the King of Italy, but calls him the King of
Piedmont. Less French than ultramontane, the clergy speak of the
Italian Government as “le gouvernement Piedmontais.”

[Sidenote: British and French Systems of Establishment contrasted.]

Another most essential difference between Great Britain and France
with regard to State establishments of religion is that, although the
British Government may have one establishment in one of the countries
under its control and another in another country, it does not establish
more than a single form of religion in the same place. Thus Anglicanism
may be established in England and Presbyterianism in Scotland, whilst
some politicians would have consented to the establishment of Roman
Catholicism in Ireland; but no British statesman whatever would think
of establishing the three religions _together_ in all parts of the
United Kingdom.

[Sidenote: Co-establishment in France.]

In France we find _co_-establishment, which is quite unknown in
England. In France there are four State religions all established
together, their ministers being paid by the State.

[Sidenote: Change from Monarchical to Republican form of Government.]

[Sidenote: A King a Religious Representative.]

The change from a monarchical to a republican form of government has an
influence on national religion in this way. In a monarchy the faith of
the royal family is in a certain sense national even though there may
be other faiths amongst the people, for when the sovereign prays for
the nation he is, in a peculiar sense, its religious representative.
This idea of the king representing the nation before the throne of
God has come down to us from the most remote antiquity, and is as
natural and inevitable as the leadership of the father of a family in
domestic worship. It follows from this that the religion of the king
is in a special sense the national religion, even though others may
be protected by the State, and, so long as the English monarchy shall
endure, the religion professed by the monarch can never be a matter of

[Sidenote: Absence of a National Representative of Religion in the
French Republic.]

In France the monarchy is at an end, and a republic has taken its place
with a chief magistrate, who is a mere temporary official, who is not
obliged to profess any religion whatever, and who has nothing august
or sacred in his position like a Sovereign crowned and consecrated at
Westminster or Rheims. To whom then are we to look as the religious
representative of the nation? To the Archbishop of Paris? He is but
the chief priest of one established religion out of four. To the
minister of public worship? He has no religious function and is only
an administrator. To the presidents of the Senate or the Chamber? They
never, on the most important occasions, say any public prayers.

France, then, is a country where four religions are established in the
sense of being protected and paid by the State, but not one of them is
peculiarly the French religion as Anglicanism is the English religion.

[Sidenote: Religious Indifference of Legislators.]

[Sidenote: Effects of the Desire for Equality.]

The truth is that co-establishment is clear evidence of indifference on
the part of the legislator. In this respect it is almost as significant
as the separation of Church and State, and is indeed accepted as an
alternative to that radical measure. Both are suggested by the desire
for equality, which may be attained either by disestablishing the
dominant creed, or by establishing the creeds of minorities, and this
could be done in France more easily than in England, because the minor
sects were few. By paying the ministers of two Protestant sects, and
also the Jewish rabbis, the French legislator was able to satisfy
nearly all his countrymen who do not belong to the Church of Rome.
The priests of other religions would be paid, on the same principle,
if their services were called for. In the lyceum at Marseilles a Pope
of the Greek Church is paid as a chaplain along with the Catholic

[Sidenote: Contradiction involved in the System of Co-establishment.]

This solution of the difficulty has been found to answer in practice
in our time, though it is not likely to be permanent. All thinking
Frenchmen are aware that it contains a contradiction which is this. The
State pays Catholic priests for affirming the real presence, and then
pays Protestant ministers for denying it. The State pays Catholic and
Protestant for declaring that Christ was God, and then pays Jews for
saying that he was not God.

[Sidenote: Use of a Multiplicity of Sects.]

To this a French statesman would probably reply that from the lay point
of view this is the wisest policy. He would say, “It is lucky that we
have got the Protestants and the Jews as a perceptible counter-weight
to the Catholics, and one can only regret that they are not more
numerous. We do not want a single overwhelmingly powerful priesthood.
The ideal state of things would be half a dozen sects of nearly equal
strength, either paid alike or without endowment.” In a word, the
French policy in religious matters approaches very nearly to a neutral

[Sidenote: In what the English kind of Neutrality consists.]

Is there anything resembling this neutrality in Great Britain? The
answer is that the English have not exactly the same thing, but they
have another thing that is not wholly unlike it. English statesmen, as
we have already seen, will not establish contradictory religions within
the limits of England itself, but they do not object to patronise and
encourage the most opposite faiths in different parts of the Empire.
In this sense the English Government comes near to a certain kind of
neutrality, and it is on the whole a very tolerant Government, even
towards small religious minorities that it does not directly patronise.
The Unitarians, for example, though not paid by the State, are never
molested now.

[Sidenote: Modern Idea of the Duty of the State.]

When statesmen reach this degree of impartiality, it becomes a question
whether the same impartiality might not be equally well expressed
by simply protecting every one in the exercise of his own religion,
without payment or direct patronage of any kind. In Russia a State
Church is evidently a natural institution. The religion of the Czar
must be the true religion for the peasant, who is not to suppose
that the Czar can be wrong in so important a matter; but with the
non-religious character of the French Government and the tolerant
character of the English, the idea gains ground that the duty of the
State to all creeds is simply protection, and no more. This opens the
question of disestablishment, which will be briefly examined in the
following chapter.



[Sidenote: Disestablishment more simple in France than in England.]

There are two reasons why the road to disestablishment is plainer in
France. The first is the abolition of the monarchy, which takes away
the defender of the royal faith. The second is the payment of the
clergy by the State. The disestablishment and disendowment of the
French Churches would, in practice, be a task of extreme simplicity.
Parliament would merely decline to vote the _budget des cultes_, a
refusal that may happen any day, and the Churches would be thrown on
their own resources. In England there is a vast capital sum to be
disposed of, and though it excites cupidity, the parties hostile to the
establishment are unable to agree about the employment of it.

[Sidenote: Effects of Legislation in the two Countries.]

The temper of Englishmen is averse to a sudden change that is carried
out all over the country. In France, whatever happens in legislation
affects all France; but Great Britain has divisions which conveniently
allow of experiments in this field or that, without extending them at
once over all the national estate. Thus it may be predicted that when
disestablishment takes place in France it will be co-extensive with the
frontiers, whilst in Great Britain and Ireland, it was tried at first
in Ireland, and will be tried a second time in Scotland or Wales.

[Sidenote: Question of Pecuniary Honour in France.]

A most important reason why it has not been effected of late years
in France is the question of pecuniary honour. The question is this.
Can the State honourably refuse to continue annuities which are in
fact nothing but the interest of capital taken from the Church by the
secular power? This consideration has great weight in a country that
takes a just pride in continuing regular payments in spite of the
disturbance caused by so many changes of government.

[Sidenote: Argument of the Advocates of Disestablishment.]

The objection, however, which looks unanswerable at first, is met by
the advocates of disestablishment in two ways. First, they say that the
property held by the Church in former times was generally ill-gotten,
that is, by terrorising the consciences of the credulous; and next,
they argue that a corporation is not like an individual or a family.

[Sidenote: Probable Policy of the Priesthood.]

[Sidenote: Abolition of the _Budget des Cultes_.]

[Sidenote: The Priests readily procure money.]

Then there is an objection, not on the ground of right but of simple
policy. “Supposing it possible to confiscate the priests’ stipends
honourably, would it be wise or prudent to do so?” Whenever they are
ill-used, even to a much less degree than that, they immediately
proclaim themselves martyrs. If their salaries were withheld there
would be an immense display of clerical indigence. The clergy might
excite much popular sympathy by appearing as one vast mendicant order,
with ragged cassocks, and they would certainly do all in their power to
arouse the indignation of the peasantry against the Government. Then
they would put a great part of the country under a sort of interdict.
Even already the reactionary parties prepare the way for something of
this description by spreading rumours amongst the peasantry. According
to these rumours the republic intends to deprive the peasantry of
religious rites, so that their children are to remain unbaptized, and
their dead are to be buried like dogs. These rumours have frequently
reached me through the peasants themselves, and they are generally
traceable to the efforts of reactionary candidates during election
times, Cautious republicans think that to abolish the _budget des
cultes_ would be to provide the clergy and the monarchists with a very
dangerous weapon. More than this, they believe that if disestablishment
is intended to weaken and impoverish the clergy it will have an exactly
contrary effect. The Church always gets whatever money she requires.
Her power of renewing her wealth after immense losses is founded on the
assured support of the rich. Here is a case in point. In consequence
of the _laïcisation_ of a school a few “brethren of the Christian
doctrine” were put out of employment. The curé of the place started a
subscription to get a home for them, and in a week he had got together
nearly two thousand pounds.[35] Now, for comparison’s sake, imagine
starting a subscription in the same place for some purpose of secular
intellectual culture, such as the encouragement of scientific research
or the purchase of prints or casts. You could not, in such a place,
scrape together two thousand pence.

No one who knows France will venture upon predictions about French
affairs. I may, however, indicate certain alternatives which the course
of future events can scarcely altogether avoid.

[Sidenote: Co-establishment not likely to be permanent in France.]

There is the indefinite prolongation of the present system, by which
opposite religions are endowed. This may continue for a long time, but
it is not likely to last for ever. The annual payment of a tribute to
the clergy is, like all tributes, a constantly-recurring vexation. In
itself it is enough to revive hostility, which might otherwise pass
into indifference. It will not let sleeping dogs lie. If it should ever
happen, which is by no means impossible, that the opponents of the
_budget des cultes_ can unite a small majority, the clergy will open
their newspapers one morning and see a brief announcement that their
salaries are stopped.

[Sidenote: Project of M. Yves Guyot.]

A more probable event is that, according to the proposal of M. Yves
Guyot, the State will disembarrass itself of responsibility by handing
over the payment to the _communes_. According to this system the money
would be given to the municipal council in each commune, to be expended
either in the payment of the clergy, or for any other purpose of public
utility that the majority of each council might prefer. There could
then be no complaint against the Government, which would escape all
responsibility. That would fall upon the municipal electors in each
commune separately, who would have themselves to thank if they were
deprived of religious ministrations.

[Sidenote: Practical Result of M. Guyot’s Project.]

The result of this, in practice, would be a partial and perhaps
progressive disestablishment. The clergy would be paid in some
communes, perhaps in the majority, but not in others. The change
would therefore come without any general shock. This scheme may be
agreeable to the numerous enemies of the clergy, who will have the
wit to perceive that it offers a kind of bribe to the municipal
councils, which are seldom rich, and almost invariably desire to do
more than their limited means permit.[36] The more prudent republicans
might accept it as affording a ground of complaint less advantageous,
polemically, to the clergy.

[Sidenote: Difference between Disestablishment in France and in

[Sidenote: Religious and Social Jealousy.]

It is unnecessary for me to go into detail about the question of
disestablishment in England. Every English reader knows the present
state of that question in his own country, and a few years hence
whatever could be written in this book would only be out of date. I
may, however, in a book of comparison between the two countries, point
to the essential difference between disestablishment in France and
England. In France it is desired by the aggressive secular spirit which
is doing all it can to _laïcise_ the country thoroughly. In England
it is the unestablished religious communities that supply most of the
motive power, and the spirit which animates them is not the secular
spirit at all, but religious and social jealousy.

[Sidenote: Dissenters Naturally and Excusably Jealous.]

The use of this word “jealousy” looks like an attack upon the
nonconformists, but it is not employed here in a hostile sense. If
jealousy is a mental aberration when it makes people see falsely,
it is not so when there is no perversion of facts. Nay, there may
be circumstances when an awakened jealousy casts a clear light on
unpleasant truths which would otherwise escape us. It is not in
human nature that communities placed in a position of manifest
social inferiority should not be jealous of the one community whose
predominance makes them inferior. It _is_ in human nature that, even
when there is no active oppression, the inferior communities should
desire a change which would relieve them from a degrading name.

[Sidenote: Opinion of Intellectual Freethinkers.]

The intellectual freethinker is not usually, in England, at all eager
for disestablishment. The existence of a broadly tolerant State Church
is not, from his point of view, a very great hindrance to liberty of
thought. What he most dreads is a watchful universal inquisition, in
which every man and especially every woman is an inquisitor always
ready to examine him as to his opinions, and call him to account
for omissions in religious “exercises.” A distinguished Englishman
of this class, a scientific agnostic, said to me, “It would be a
mistake to bring on disestablishment. The Church is more tolerant than
the dissenters. The English state of things is more favourable to
individual liberty than the American.”



[Sidenote: The Test of Social Power.]

What I mean by the social power of a religion is the power of enforcing
conformity by the double sanction of social rewards and penalties. If
the clergy can improve the social position of one who submits to them,
and if they can inflict upon the nonconformist any, even the slightest,
stigma of social inferiority, then I should say that such a clergy was
socially powerful. It would be still more powerful if it did not appear
in the matter in any direct way, but was able to attain the same ends
through a laity influenced and educated by itself, a laity acting under
the illusion of perfect freedom like a hypnotised patient under the
influence of “suggestion.”

We have seen that there is a plurality of established religions in
France, that Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists, and Jews are equally
recognised by the State. The political equality of these religions is
perfect, but is their social equality of the same kind?

[Sidenote: Absence of Social Equality amongst Religions in France.]

Certainly not. The Church of Rome, having been formerly the one State
Church allied for many centuries with the monarchy and the aristocracy,
has preserved in these days of nominal equality an almost unshaken
social preponderance. Quite independently of the odium attached to
Jews, which is as much a question of race as of religion, the Church
of Rome has been able, in France, to produce a general impression that
a gentleman must be a Roman Catholic, and that a Protestant, though he
may follow his religion even more faithfully than most Catholics follow
theirs, is not likely to be “_un homme du meilleur monde_.”

[Sidenote: The Word “Protestant” in French and English.]

If an English boy were told to translate “He is a Protestant”
into French, he would probably write “Il est Protestant,” and the
translation would be accepted as correct. It is technically but not
socially accurate. The French word has a _nuance_ of social inferiority
that the English fails to convey, and when used by a genuine French
Catholic it implies in addition a _nuance_ of reprobation. Is there any
English word that would carry these meanings with it? Certainly there
is. The word “dissenter” carries them quite perfectly.

[Sidenote: Mr. Voysey.]

[Sidenote: Social Weakness of Law.]

I remember that Mr. Voysey, the English freethinking clergyman, warned
the dissenters some years ago against the idea, illusory according to
him, that by disestablishing the Church of England they would attain
to social equality. “You will do nothing of the kind,” he said, in
substance if not in words; “Anglicanism will still be the fashionable
religion, and you will be just as unfashionable and inferior as you are
at present.” Nor is it probable that any mere legislative enactment
would procure the abolition of the term “dissenter,” any more than of
what is implied by it.

[Sidenote: The Example of France.]

France may afford to English nonconformists an excellent opportunity of
comparing legal equality with that social inequality which the justice
of the law is unfortunately impotent to redress.

[Sidenote: Isolation of Protestants in France.]

The French Protestants form a little world apart, which (except,
perhaps, in the most Protestant districts, and they are of small
extent) appears to be outside the current of the national life. Just
as, in England, you may live in the upper classes for a lifetime
without having once been inside a dissenter’s house, or seen a
dissenter eat, so in France aristocratic people go from the cradle to
the grave without having seen the inside of an “evangelical” home.
I am not speaking of real religious bigotry, of that evil-spirited
intolerance which hates the Protestant as a schismatic, and would
revive the old horrible penalties against him if it could; I am
speaking only of the mild modern objection to people who are under the
ban of a social prejudice.

[Sidenote: Disadvantage of belonging to the Inferior Sects.]

[Sidenote: Dissenters in England.]

[Sidenote: Protestants in France.]

[Sidenote: Dissenters in Former Times.]

A ban of this kind falls with very different effect on different
persons. It scarcely troubles elderly people in comfortable
circumstances, who are content with a retired life, but it weighs
heavily on the young. A Protestant girl in a French country town may
have admirable virtues and a good education, but the simple fact that
she belongs to an inferior religious community restricts her chances
of marriage. In both England and France a young man may suffer both in
that and in other ways from his connection with an unfashionable sect.
A young Englishman may come to turning-points in his career where an
Anglican will be preferred to a dissenter, even although no question
of religious belief may avowedly be involved. A valuable office may be
given to merit when the qualities of a dissenter would not be taken
into consideration. I am thinking of a real instance when a man of
great merit received a private appointment which would certainly not
have been offered to a nonconformist, yet the work to be done had no
connection with theology. In France I know several successful men
who, if they had been Protestants, would have been left out in the
cold. If this may still be the case in an age that has made such very
real advances in justice, what was it two or three generations since?
Then the dissenter was literally an outlaw;[37] to-day he is so only
in a social and metaphorical sense. A Frenchman once said to me, “_Un
Français qui n’est pas Catholique est hors la loi_,” but the law of
good society was understood, not the law of the land.

[Sidenote: Only a Nominal Orthodoxy required.]

[Sidenote: Facilities of Modern Catholicism.]

[Sidenote: Liberty of French Catholics.]

In both countries alike, it is but fair to admit that a merely nominal
orthodoxy is accepted, and that a man is not required to believe
anything in his own intellect and conscience, if he will only conform
to certain outward ceremonies. In France the Church has become so
accommodating that it is not now any harder to be a Catholic than a
fashionable Anglican. The Church requires hardly anything that can be
unpleasant to the upper classes (the fasts are only a variety of good
eating), and conformity now consists in little else than attendance at
a weekly mass. In some respects French orthodoxy is more compatible
with freedom than its English counterpart. After mass, and an early
low mass is sufficient, a French gentleman is free to amuse himself
on Sunday as he pleases. There is, indeed, a rather stern French
puritanism which objects to theatres on Sunday, but it objects to them
equally on all other days of the week.

[Sidenote: Aversion to Nominal Heterodoxy]

[Sidenote: Names and Realities.]

But if a nominal orthodoxy is accepted, a nominal heterodoxy is still
regarded with aversion. It is a mere question of names. Here is a case
in which the persons concerned were known to me. A young gentleman asks
a young Catholic lady in marriage and is accepted. He is perfectly
well known to be a freethinker, as he is entirely without hypocrisy,
never even going to church. Some enemy sets in circulation a sinister
rumour to the effect that he is a Protestant. This might have broken
off the marriage if he had not been able to prove his Catholic baptism.
If people were to put realities before names, it clearly could not be
of any importance to what religion a freethinker nominally belonged
when he was a baby. It is not the baby who is to be married, but the
man. The anxiety in this case was to avoid the objectionable word
“Protestant.” The reader may wonder if _libre penseur_ would not be
infinitely worse. Perhaps, but it is ingeniously avoided by saying,
“_Monsieur X est Catholique, mais il ne pratique pas_.”

[Sidenote: Support given by Unbelievers to Dominant Religions.]

[Sidenote: Discretion and Liberality in the Clergy.]

[Sidenote: Personal Comfort of Unbelievers.]

It would be an omission to close this chapter without recognising
the existence of a quite unforeseen source of strength for dominant
and fashionable religions. That is, the _preferential_ support of
well-educated unbelievers. It is not an active or a visible support,
but it exists extensively, and the value of it steadily increases
with the growth of cultivated doubt. What the unbeliever most dreads
and detests is to be worried by rude religious enthusiasts. He does
not dislike a priest or a parson who is discreet, and ready to sink
religious differences in personal intercourse; nay, he may even
be attracted to the wise clergyman, as to a man of intellect and
education, who has an ideal above the level of the Philistine vulgar.
The experienced unbeliever is generally of opinion that discretion and
liberality are more likely to be found in an ancient Church that is
bound up with the life and experience of the great world, than in the
narrower and more inquisitorial strictness of the minor sects. Hence
the curious but unquestionable fact, that in England the cultivated
unbeliever prefers the Anglican Church to the dissenting bodies, and
does not wish to see them become predominant, whilst in France he
dislikes the Protestants more than the Romish priests. This preference
arises simply from the unbeliever’s knowledge of the state of things
most conducive to his personal comfort, and has nothing to do with
theological doctrines, which are a matter of indifference to him in any
case. In France, he especially congratulates himself that the dominant
religion is not Sabbatarian, the reason being that Sabbatarianism is
much more than a theological doctrine, as it passes so easily into
legislative domination over all men.



[Sidenote: Two senses of the Word “Faith.”]

The word “Faith” is used in two different senses. In ordinary language
it means little more than a custom or a name. When people say that
Napoleon I. belonged to the Roman Catholic faith, they only mean that
he bore the name and followed the external customs of that religion,
for we know that his own belief was a kind of fatalistic deism. The
facility with which some exalted personages have gone from one faith to
another, and in some cases have even repeated the change for obviously
political reasons, is explicable only by reading the word “Faith” as a
custom or a ceremony.

[Sidenote: How employed here.]

The sense in which it will be employed in the following pages is
that of sincere inward conviction. Evidently this must be far more
difficult to ascertain than those acts of external conformity which are
intended to be visible by all. In a world like this, where there is so
little moral courage, people are easily browbeaten, easily terrorised,
and they have in general such an abject dread of any term implying
degradation or disgrace, whilst they are at the same time so keenly
alive to the advantages of social advancement, that it seems at first
sight impossible to find any sure test of the genuineness of their

[Sidenote: The Test of Sacrifice.]

[Sidenote: Deceptive Nature of Pecuniary Sacrifices.]

There is, however, one sure test, and that is sacrifice. When people
make _real_ sacrifices for their faith its sincerity is unquestionable.
But we must be well on our guard in admitting the reality of the
sacrifice. It may seem to be real when it is only a payment for
something held to be more valuable than itself. Pecuniary sacrifices
prove nothing when the donor gets consideration in return, more
valuable to him than superfluous money. It costs no trouble to write a

[Sidenote: The Tests of Sincerity.]

Personal labour and trouble, _that cannot be delegated to working
inferiors_, are the best test of sincerity on the active side. On the
passive side, there is the sacrifice of the things that make life
pleasant, its comforts and luxuries, and the happiness of home and
friendship, and especially the renunciation of worldly ambition.

[Sidenote: A Sketch from Life.]

[Sidenote: Renunciations.]

Here is a sketch from life. A young French gentleman, the eldest son
of a rich man, leaves father and mother and a luxurious home to join
one of the teaching orders. The discipline is severe. To begin with,
the aspirant must be ordained, and therefore renounces marriage. He
also renounces wealth by taking the vow of voluntary poverty, and he
gives up his liberty by the vow of obedience. In this instance, the
young man went into exile, as his order was one of the unauthorised
congregations, and he sacrificed health because the discipline was more
than his delicate frame could bear. The work to be done, year after
year, is tedious. Imagine a rich and cultivated young gentleman doing
usher’s work in a poor school for less than usher’s pay, indeed for no
pay, except a providing of the barest necessaries! The separation from
home and family, without being absolutely complete, as in some orders,
is nearly so. Rarely, very rarely, the teacher revisited his old home,
where his place knew him no more.

[Sidenote: Explanation by Supernatural Support.]

I have talked with his father about the immensity of this sacrifice.
The father (who is himself a profoundly religious man) feels unable
to conceive adequately the strength of a man’s natural will, that can
carry out such a sacrifice through life, and accounts for it by the
supposition (in his own mind a certainty) that the devotee receives an
unfailing supernatural support. It is, at any rate, clear evidence of
genuine faith.

[Sidenote: Case of a Peasant Girl.]

In the feminine world we find many examples of sacrifice at least
equivalent to this. Not a week before I write this page the daughter
of a neighbouring farmer came to say good-bye to us. She belongs to
the best class of French peasants, is a comely, well-grown, healthy
girl, and might easily have married. She has chosen rather to join a
teaching Order, and an Order that is principally employed in the French
colonies. It is an austere and hard life that she has before her, and
it is highly improbable that she will ever revisit her old home. This
case also is evidently one of genuine conviction.

[Sidenote: The Working Orders in the Church of Rome.]

It is unnecessary to multiply examples. It is not the splendour of the
Papacy or the episcopate that is the true glory of the Church of Rome,
but the steady and modest devotion of her working Orders. What is more
beautiful than the life of a Sister of Charity or a “Little Sister of
the Poor”? Good Catholics call them “My Sister” when speaking to each
of them individually, and so do I who am not a Catholic, for are they
not sisters of all of us who may be laid one day on a bed of sickness?
If we do not need their gentle watching for ourselves, it soothes our
suffering brethren.

[Sidenote: The “Little Sisters of the Poor.”]

And what a dull monotonous existence many of them accept! What tiresome
and even repulsive duties they go through without flinching! I know a
house kept by some “Little Sisters,” where there are eighty old paupers
entirely fed and tended by them. The “Little Sisters” go about begging
for remnants of food with a small van, and they never eat anything
themselves until they have fed their eighty poor. Two or three of the
Sisters do the washing. They are in the washhouse from morning till
night to keep the old folks clean. Have I ever done as much?--have
you? Till we have sacrificed our own ease and comfort in this way, or
in some way equivalent to this, the next best thing we can do is to
respect such self-sacrifice in others. One of these “Little Sisters” in
the house I know remained humble and unknown like the rest, but when
she was gone we learned by accident that she was of princely rank.

[Sidenote: Evidence collected by Maxime du Camp.]

Maxime du Camp has studied the charitable self-sacrifice of women
belonging to the higher classes. The abundant facts that he collected
were not a surprise for me, but if any English reader happens to retain
the old prejudice that all Frenchwomen are frivolous he ought to read
du Camp’s evidence.

[Sidenote: Cheerfulness a Characteristic of the Active Sisterhoods.]

The active sisterhoods are repaid to some extent in this world by
a beneficent law of human nature. They have one remarkably uniform
characteristic; they seem to be invariably cheerful, with bright
moments of innocent gaiety. This serenity of mind may be explained
naturally without having recourse to miracle. It is gained by the
ever-present sense of duties accomplished in the past and the
determination to face them in the future. It is the spirit that
inspired Wordsworth’s “Ode to Duty” with a health surpassing all songs
of love and wine.

[Sidenote: The Saintly Nature in Protestantism.]

[Sidenote: An Anglican Saint.]

[Sidenote: Life of an Anglican Saint.]

These are instances of the saintly nature in practice. I remember a
very dear Roman Catholic friend of mine, a Frenchman, asking me if I
thought it possible that the saintly nature could develop itself under
the influences of Protestantism. It seemed to him that Protestantism
must check its heroic spirit and bring it down to the commonplace.
I answered that the purest example of the saintly nature I had ever
known was an Anglican lady. She belongs to no order and is nothing
but a lonely old maid, who has taken all who suffer to be her sisters
and brethren. She gives them the whole of her time, the whole of
her strength, and all her money except what is reserved for a bare
subsistence. She spends seven shillings a week on her own food and
lodgings, and as for dress, she is content with anything that will
cover her.[38] For perfect courage she is as good as any Catholic saint
in the calendar. There is no malady so repulsive or so contagious that
she will not cheerfully nurse the patient. These practices are by no
means of recent adoption. The lady in question has been leading a
saint’s life for twenty or thirty years. The intensity of her religious
belief reaches the limits of hallucination. Like Joan of Arc, she
hears the angels sing. Whenever a good Christian dies she is filled
with a serene joy, thinking only of the glad new birth in heaven. Like
Sister Dora, she has strong physical health, and can therefore forget
the body as the rich need not think of money. Her existence is almost
angelic already; she lives in a sort of ecstasy, and is as ignorant of
this world as a cloistered nun. Had she been a Roman Catholic she would
have attained to papal beatification.

[Sidenote: Romanism and Anglicanism with regard to the Saintly Life.]

This example is good evidence that the saintly nature may flourish in
perfection outside the Church of Rome, though the fact remains that
Roman Catholicism _encourages_ the development of that character beyond
the limits of reason, whilst the cooler faith of Anglicanism does not
encourage it so far. It is therefore not improbable that saints of the
heroic type are more common in France than in England.

[Sidenote: Religious Work in Common Life.]

[Sidenote: An Anglican Layman.]

[Sidenote: A Good Reason for the Alliance between Priests and Women.]

When we come to religious work done in common life by people without
the special saintly vocation, there may be as much of it in England.
Many of my readers will be acquainted with English people who quite
unostentatiously give time and labour to the lower classes, either
directly in the service of Christianity or simply in behalf of
civilisation against barbarism. I know a busy English layman who gives
a whole day every week, besides one or two evenings, to Christianising
work, often sacrificing necessary rest. He is remarkably free from cant
of all kinds, and opposed to asceticism. Such examples remain almost
unknown, and may therefore be more numerous than we suspect, but it is
not usually the male sex that does the most work of this kind. At a
time when a book of mine called _Human Intercourse_ was published, an
Anglican clergyman wrote me a friendly letter, in which he pointed to a
special reason for the intimate alliance between “priests and women” in
works requiring time and trouble. He said (in effect if not in words)
that the clergy would as willingly appeal to men if they were likely to
find in them coadjutors equally zealous, but that men are comparatively

To this I felt inclined to answer, in defence of the irreligious
sex, that men have commonly too much on their minds in business to
leave them much liberty for religious undertakings. Besides this,
independently of all questions of faith, the feminine nature is kinder
than ours, and more disposed to beneficent interference.

[Sidenote: Faith outside of this Creed or that.]

[Sidenote: Faith in the Value of Veracity.]

[Sidenote: Faith transferred from Religion to Politics.]

It shocks a Catholic to be told that a Protestant may have strong and
saintly faith, and it equally shocks a Protestant to be told that
strong faith may be the ruling motive of an unbeliever in Christianity,
yet it may be so. If we admit self-sacrifice as evidence of faith in
one case, we must admit it equally in another. There is nothing so
galling to human nature as the loss of social place and consideration,
and it is usually in that form that unbelievers have learned the
hardship of sacrifice. It requires immense faith in the ultimate value
of veracity to express an unfashionable opinion.

Now, this kind of faith has been by no means rare in France during the
last hundred years. Much of the old spirit of faith, once exclusively
religious, has transferred itself in France to political and social
convictions. The democratic idea is not without its saints and martyrs,
who have been willing to sacrifice all the comforts of existence for a
belief and a hope detached from any personal success.



[Sidenote: Distinction between Formalism and Hypocrisy.]

The distinction between formalism and hypocrisy in religion is, that
the formalist follows a custom without setting up any claim to depth or
sincerity of conviction, whilst the hypocrite falsely pretends to be
full of godliness and zeal.

[Sidenote: Formalism in the Anglican Communion.]

[Sidenote: The well-bred Anglican.]

There is probably not a religion in the world that presents so large
a proportion of formalists and so few complete hypocrites as the
Anglican. Decorous obedience to all outward religious observances
is very frequently combined in England with an entire absence of
pretension to sanctity. The gentlemanly Englishman is a regular
attendant at church, he does not forget to say grace at dinner, but he
dislikes cant of all kinds, and it is a part of his habitual reserve to
say nothing about his religious experiences. His observance of form is
so perfect that you may be acquainted with him for many years without
knowing what he really thinks. About politics he is open enough, but he
makes you feel that it would be indiscreet to ask for any confidences
on religion, it would be like asking for his opinion of his wife. He,
on his part, is too well bred to betray any anxiety for the state of
your own soul; he is not a member of the Salvation Army, and your
eternal welfare is not any concern of his.

[Sidenote: The Formalist and his Conscience.]

[Sidenote: Case of an English Atheist.]

Who shall fix precisely the exact place at which formalism ends and
real hypocrisy begins? The formalist has a sort of conscience which
forbids him to go much beyond strictly ceremonial limits. He will
seem to use his prayer-book in church, yet will sometimes shrink from
reading prayers aloud in his own home. He would listen respectfully
if a chaplain read them, but declines to do it with his own voice. I
remember one excellent father of a family who had no objection to take
his children to church, but nothing could induce him to conduct family
worship, and in that household the wife and mother was the chaplain.
Still, this is not any certain test. An English gentleman once told
me that he had been a convinced atheist from boyhood, yet he went
to church with unfailing regularity, and read family prayers like a
clergyman. Are we to call this formalism or hypocrisy? I will leave
the gentleman to make his own defence. He said that he was absolutely
compelled to conform to the national religion externally, and might as
well make his conformity thorough, the more so that it was natural for
a family to have a religion, and he knew of none better than the Church
of England.

[Sidenote: Scotchmen and Dissenters.]

The true English formalist looks upon the Scotch and the Dissenters as
more frequently exposed to the vice of hypocrisy than he is himself.
He is so careful to keep anything resembling piety out of his ordinary
language that it seems to him ill bred in a Scotchman to make pious
reference to the Scriptures or the Sabbath Day. On the other hand, he
unfeignedly disapproves of the continental Sunday, because forms are
not so steadily observed on the Continent, and it seems to him as if
the French and Germans did not know how to behave.

[Sidenote: Formalism in France.]

[Sidenote: French Gentlemen.]

Now with regard to formalism in France I should say that in the
upper classes, where it exists in the greatest force, it is even
more a matter of ceremonial usage than in England. Has the reader
ever observed French gentlemen in church? How many of them have any
appearance, even, of taking part in the service! They are present for
the most part as spectators of a “function” only--they support it by
their presence, by their respectful deportment, and that is all.

[Sidenote: French Marriages and Funerals.]

French formalism has taken its last and most determined stand on
marriages and funerals. Here it is strongly sustained by the general
sentiment that a ceremony is needed on such important occasions, and
the Church of Rome understands ceremony so well that she gives complete
satisfaction to this instinctive need. Quite independently of special
theological tenets, it is felt that marriage requires some kind of
blessing or consecration, and that a solemn pomp should accompany the
dead man to his grave.

[Sidenote: Religious Interments of French Unbelievers.]

I remember being in a room with a number of Frenchmen when the
conversation turned upon funerals. “You will all of you,” I said, “be
buried with the ceremonial of the Church of Rome, and there is not one
of you who is really a Catholic or even a Christian, except in the
sense that you believe Jesus to have been a good man. Why this clinging
to ceremonies that have lost their meaning for you? Why not be buried
with rites in accordance with your convictions?” An old lawyer made
himself the spokesman of the party in reply. He said, “The disposal of
our remains is almost invariably decided by the ladies of the family,
who abominate civil interments. Besides this, many Frenchmen are
neither convinced Catholics nor convinced unbelievers either, so they
cling to established forms.” I then referred the question to a lady in
connection with a recent Catholic interment of a sincere unbeliever,
and she answered that the ceremony, being a matter of usage, really
implied no affirmation whatever concerning the faith of the dead man,
but was the only way of doing him a little honour, as none of those
present would have dared to attend a civil burial.[40]

[Sidenote: Philosophical Anglicanism.]

One of the most interesting of comparisons between England and France
in the present day is suggested by philosophical Anglicanism, but
before seeking for the French equivalent we need some definition of the
English original.

[Sidenote: Its Mental Freedom.]

It appears to be a condition of absolute mental freedom, a freedom
fully equal to that enjoyed by M. Renan, for example, combined with
adhesion to all Anglican forms and a clinging to the Anglican name.
The philosophical Anglican criticises the sacred texts, has no respect
for dogmas, and expresses his own opinions in language of refreshing
candour and frankness, yet at the same time he will not be called a
dissenter, and is certainly not a nonconformist. He has his seat in
church with the motto “_J’y suis et j’y reste._”

[Sidenote: Opinions held by different Philosophical Anglicans.]

[Sidenote: Their Treatment of Dogma.]

The opinions of a philosophical Anglican are individual, and so much
his own that we cannot justly attribute any one set of opinions to two
men, each of whom would repudiate responsibility for the other. Some
opinions appear to be what we should once have called Unitarian, others
belong to pure Deism, and the more advanced to scientific Agnosticism,
in which the existence of a conscious and thinking Deity seems doubtful
and the continuity of life beyond the grave a dream. As for the old
dogmas, they are treated as the subjects of past controversies. The
Trinity and the Incarnation have gone the way of the Real Presence,[41]
though we may still retain for them a kind of imaginative credence like
that which, in reading Tennyson, we have for the Holy Grail.

[Sidenote: Difference between Philosophical Anglicanism and ordinary

[Sidenote: Honest Frankness of the Leaders.]

[Sidenote: Followers probably not so Frank.]

[Sidenote: Philosophical Anglicanism amongst the Clergy.]

Philosophical Anglicanism differs from ordinary formalism in this,
that whereas the ordinary formalist is condemned to life-long silence
because he dares not say what he thinks, the philosophical Anglican,
whilst accepting all the forms like the other, has assumed complete
liberty of utterance. In short, he is a formalist who is tired of being
gagged. How he reconciles his liberty of thought and speech with the
old submission to forms and names it is not my business to explain.
The remarkable peculiarity of the case, and its special interest, is
that in the leaders of the movement there is no hypocrisy. Even Mr.
Tollemache, who admits a certain _ésotérisme inévitable_, takes away
that ground for the accusation of hypocrisy by putting the secret
into print. All is clear and above-board with the leaders, but it
may be suspected that with many of their followers the _ésotérisme
inévitable_ is carried so far in prudence that their position is not
morally different from that of the everyday English formalist, already
so familiar to us. Therefore, in spite of the really admirable honesty
of Mr. Arnold and Mr. Tollemache, I am not sure that the movement is
favourable to honesty in the rank and file, who will not feel under the
same obligation to take mankind into their confidence. And with respect
to the clergy the examples of Dean Stanley and Mark Pattison are even
less encouraging, since in their case the _ésotérisme inévitable_ must
assume still larger proportions. What they thought I do not profess to
know, as we have not any clear and brief statement of their views, but
they were certainly freethinkers in the sense of not being deterred by
dogma. Subject to correction from their admirers, I should say that
their opinions did not differ essentially from those of Renan. They
may have accepted the _moral_ side of the Christian religion, but
even in that they would probably reject what obviously belonged to an
early stage of civilisation. The danger of their example consists in
encouraging a class of freethinking clergymen, who must necessarily
defend an essentially false position by the most disingenuous arts.

[Sidenote: Liberal French Protestantism.]

Most of my English readers will have their own opinion on these
phases of English thought, and will care more to hear whether there
is anything corresponding to them in France. The answer that first
suggests itself is that Liberal Protestantism as represented by
M. Réville[42] is the French form of the same thing, but a little
reflection shows that Liberal Protestantism differs from philosophical
Anglicanism in having no social importance. It is something like
an advanced development of Unitarianism in England, which would
not disturb English society in the least. If Mr. Arnold had been
professedly a Unitarian, his announcement of advanced views would have
interested a small sect; but as he professed Anglicanism and was an
influential leader of opinion, his thoughts interest all who belong,
really or nominally, to the National Church. A French Arnold would have
to arise within the pale of the Church of Rome, where his career as a
reformer would shortly come to an end.

[Sidenote: Nearest French equivalent to Philosophical Anglicanism.]

[Sidenote: The Genuine Catholics.]

[Sidenote: External Conformity in France.]

The nearest French equivalent for philosophical Anglicanism is the
theory that the religion a man professes is a matter of heredity in
his family, and that as an individual he takes what he likes of it and
no more. This theory differs, however, from philosophical Anglicanism
in one important point--_it is never published to the world_. When
expressed at all, which happens very seldom, it is expressed in the
privacy of conversation, but the tacit acceptance of it is very wide.
The genuine Catholics insist, on the contrary, that “all or nothing”
is the one immutable principle of their religion, and that he who
disbelieves the minutest detail of the Catholic dogmas is no more a
Catholic than if he professed Protestantism openly.[43] However this
may be, the fact remains, that any Frenchman who conforms externally
to the Church of Rome is counted as a Catholic from the social point
of view. I need not expatiate upon the convenience of the theory that
the doctrines of the Church are like a banquet offered, of which the
guest may take only what his appetite demands. We most of us accept
_something_ that might be called a Catholic doctrine, if only that it
is wrong to steal.

[Sidenote: Jesuitism.]

[Sidenote: Liberty in the Church of Rome.]

[Sidenote: Pliability of Modern Catholicism.]

Besides this lax idea amongst laymen, there is the influence of
Jesuitism amongst the clergy. The Jesuits are said to confess the
_ésotérisme inévitable_ of a great popular religion so frankly
that the modern intellectual man may find complete liberty in the
Church of Rome. It appears that by an ingenious manner of presenting
them all Roman Catholic doctrines may be made capable of a liberal
interpretation in order that the modern thinker may remain within the
fold.[44] Even the very spirit of Catholicism is ready to adapt itself
to his taste. If he dislikes an intolerant spirit, the Church becomes
most tolerant. He is told that all sincere men who endeavour to do
right are sure of salvation, whatever may be their religious belief.
If it is painful to him to think that the damned are suffering eternal
torture, he is soothed by the assurance that the flames of hell are a
figure of speech, and that the real punishment of the damned is only
regret for their misdeeds, and privation of the sight of God, two evils
that all Christians suffer from in this present world without finding
it unendurable.

[Sidenote: Formalism in Simplicity.]

[Sidenote: Liberty in Variety.]

[Sidenote: Variety of Roman Vestments.]

[Sidenote: Old-fashioned Anglican Formalism.]

[Sidenote: Effect of Use and Habit.]

The success of what is called “Ritualism” in England has some
connection with the increase of formalism, though we ought to remember
that the formal spirit attaches itself quite as readily to a plain
and simple ceremonial as it does to a splendid and elaborate one. The
etiquette about plain black cloth for the masculine evening costume is
quite as severe as it would be for coloured velvets and embroidery,
whilst the modern white tie is more rigidly formal than the lace cravat
of our ancestors; in fact, the simpler the costume the stricter the
rule. The dress of French peasants is much more formal, in the sense of
being governed by rigid custom, than the far more varied dress of the
upper classes. We find formal strictness going with simplicity in the
Anglican vestments before the days of ritualism, and extreme liberty of
artistic design permitted by the Church of Rome in the ornamentation
of mitre, chasuble, and cope. When Leo XIII. received many thousand
chasubles as jubilee gifts, it is probable that there were not two
of them alike. Again, in matters of usage it is quite as much a form
to put incumbent, curate, and clerk in tiers one above another as to
assign to them any other places that might be fixed by the ritual.
Therefore, between one form and another, one costume and another, there
is little difference as to the reality of formalism. The difference is
in the degree of attention given to the matter. Just at first, when
a more splendid ritual is adopted, as it has been by some Anglican
clergymen, the change may be evidence of a formal spirit, but the same
splendours would signify little or nothing if they were traditional and

[Sidenote: No Ritualistic Party in France.]

[Sidenote: Simplicity of French Protestantism.]

This marks the difference between England and France with regard to
ritual. In England it has recently been a subject of controversy and
of conscious attention, whereas in France the instinct that desires
it has always been abundantly satisfied by the Church of Rome, so
that there has been no thought about it, and there is no such thing
as a consciously ritualistic party. The gorgeous Roman ritual is
enjoyed by those who have the instinctive need of it, whilst most
people, even unbelievers, consider it natural in a great religion. The
ultra-simplicity of French Protestantism is certainly not natural. It
is an intentional contrast due to the effect of schism; it is dogmatic
dissent expressing itself by external dissimilarity.

[Sidenote: Chilling Effect of Formalism.]

[Sidenote: Formalism only Taste.]

All varieties of formalism have one quality in common, that the
strength they give to religion is not vital, it is only social and
external. They have a weakening effect upon faith, even in the
faithful. Formalism lowers the temperature, not on one side only, but
all round it, like an iceberg floating in the sea. Its disapproval of
dissent is accompanied by a chilling want of sympathy with religious
earnestness and zeal. Formalism is to faith what etiquette is to
affection; it is merely taste, and it is quite as much a violation of
taste to have the motives of a really genuine, pious Christian, and
avow them (in religious language, “to confess Christ before men”), as
it is to abstain from customary ceremonies. In short, formalism is the
world with its usages, substituting itself for Jesus and his teaching;
it is “good form” set up in the place of enthusiastic loyalty and
uncalculating self-devotion.





[Sidenote: Novelties in Education.]

The Special Committee of the London School Board issued a report in the
early part of the year 1888, in which it declared that “fearless truth,
bravery, honour, activity, manly skill, temperance, hardihood,” were
objects of national education.

[Sidenote: Repression of Individuality.]

[Sidenote: Dictated Opinions.]

[Sidenote: Case of a French Boy.]

[Sidenote: Training in Intellectual Dishonesty.]

Some of these are very remarkable novelties in education, and if
such a scheme should ever be carried into practice, it will produce
unprecedented results. Fearless truth, bravery, and honour (if
moral courage is understood to be a part of bravery) have usually
been represented in education by their opposites, that is to say,
by mental submission, by the timidity of the boy who expects to be
browbeaten, and by the hypocritical expression of dictated opinions.
The individuality of the boy and his honesty have not been encouraged,
but repressed. He has been told what to think and what to say, and
even what line of argument to follow, without pausing to consider
whether he had any intellect or any conscience of his own. I remember a
striking instance of this in the case of a French boy who was preparing
an essay as a pupil of the philosophy class in a public school. We
talked over the subject of his essay, and I thought he expressed his
opinions, which were also mine, with great cogency and clearness.
“There,” I said, “you have all that is wanted for your essay; why not
say what you think in that manner?” He answered, “If I were to write
like that, my essay would not be received, and I should get no marks.
On all philosophical questions we are to express the opinions that
are determined for us by the traditions of the University, so I shall
say the contrary of what I think, and then I shall get marks.” This
training of boys in intellectual dishonesty may be of the greatest
value to them in after life, for in real life nothing is so useful to
a man as to be able to profess, on occasion, the contrary of what he
thinks, but surely it must rob education of all interest even for the
educator, seeing that, as he does not hear the truth from his pupils,
he can never adapt his reasoning to their case. He does not know their

[Sidenote: Dread of Liberty of Thought.]

[Sidenote: That Liberty ensured by Nature.]

“But,” it will be objected, “if you allow boys to express their crude
opinions, it would be encouraging liberty of thought.” No, it would
only be encouraging honesty of expression, the “fearless truth,” the
“honour” of the School Board Committee. There is a happy provision of
nature by which freedom of thought is, and always has been, the assured
possession of every one who values it, only honesty of expression can
be put down. You cannot make boys or men think otherwise than as they
do think, but you may train them in habits of dissimulation.

[Sidenote: Sham Admiration in Literature and Art.]

[Sidenote: A prevalent Vice of the French Mind.]

[Sidenote: The Chinese.]

One of the worst of these habits is that of sham admiration in
literature and art, and this is a prevalent vice of the French mind.
There may be some exceptions, but the general rule is that a Frenchman
will profess to admire what he thinks he ought to admire, even when he
has no genuine ardour of admiration at his disposal. The effect is to
make conversations with Frenchmen uninteresting so soon as they turn
upon famous masters. They will repeat the old laudatory commonplaces,
and if you venture upon any criticism with the slightest originality
in it, they will look upon you as an insular eccentric. They have been
taught at school how to praise the famous men, they have been taught
even the proper terms of laudation. I believe the Chinese learn to
repeat the praises of their classics in the same way.

[Sidenote: Less sham Admiration in England than in France.]

[Sidenote: The Classics.]

[Sidenote: The Temptation to Literary Lying.]

[Sidenote: Apparent Weakness of Honest Work.]

[Sidenote: Partisan Loyalty.]

My own experience leads me to the conclusion that there is less of this
sham admiration in England than in France. I grant that the English are
often sham admirers of Shakespeare, and that the pretence to appreciate
the national poet is not good for the habit of veracity, but I should
say that any Englishman who was accustomed to reading would, as a
rule, say truly what he thought of modern authors. I would not trust
much to his honesty about the Greek and Latin classics, because the
admiration of these is mixed up with ideas of culture and of caste. Mr.
James Payn says that the habit of literary lying is almost universal in
England. The temptation to it is certainly very strong. It is the same
temptation that induces painters to over-colour for the exhibitions.
Writing which guards and keeps the delicacy of an exquisite honesty,
writing which says exactly what the writer feels, and refuses to go
beyond his feeling, such writing can rarely appear forcible, especially
in comparison with work that is done for force alone without any regard
for truth. It will certainly seem weak if it comes after exaggerated
writing on the same subject, and it is liable to be eclipsed at any
time by coarser work that may be done afterwards. This is especially
the case with regard to the criticism or appreciation of great men. The
public likes to hear them loudly praised, and easily acquires a sort of
partisan loyalty to their names even when it cares nothing for their
work. To offend this partisan loyalty is to set it against ourselves,
but there is no risk in judicious lying.

[Sidenote: Sentence of a Court at Ipswich.]

[Sidenote: Systematic Lying.]

[Sidenote: Handsomely rewarded.]

I cannot but think that the sentence of the court at Ipswich on George
Frederick Wilfrid Ellis was excessively severe. He was condemned to
seven years’ penal servitude for having pretended to be a clergyman
of the Church of England. For five years he lived as Rector of
Wetheringsett, and appears to have given perfect satisfaction in
that capacity. He did no perceptible harm in that parish, for even
the marriages that he solemnised are valid in English law. He only
lied systematically and acted a part to perfection, that was all. But
systematic lying is constantly practised by unbelieving laymen who
conform outwardly, and they, too, act their part with skill. They
may also, like the false Rector of Wetheringsett, often derive great
pecuniary advantages from their falsehood, either by getting rich
wives or lucrative situations that would be refused to them if their
real opinions were known. Yet instead of being condemned to seven
years’ hard labour as the sham clergyman was, these sham Christians
get nothing but rewards for their lying. It becomes, therefore, an
important question, in estimating the general truthfulness of a
country, whether religious hypocrisy is encouraged in it or not, and
to what degree. Is this kind of lying more encouraged in England or in

[Sidenote: Value of Hypocrisy in England and France.]

[Sidenote: “Fearless Truth” gaining in English Estimation.]

[Sidenote: French Truthfulness.]

[Sidenote: Power of the English Clergy.]

[Sidenote: Discipline of Society.]

[Sidenote: English Fear of the Clergy.]

Having touched upon this question elsewhere, I need not dwell upon it
here, but will give results only, in a few words. There cannot be a
doubt that the kind of lying which belongs to outward conformity is,
on the whole, a more useful accomplishment in England than in France.
Of the extent to which it is practised we know little. Sham Christians
pass for real Christians, and bear no outward mark by which they may
be detected. It is certain, however, that the English are becoming
much more outspoken than they used to be, and that the quality of
“fearless truth” is gaining in esteem amongst them, whilst hypocrisy
is considered less meritorious. As for the vulgar French idea that all
Englishmen are hypocrites, it may be dismissed with the answer that a
majority has no motive for hypocrisy, which is the vice of vituperated
minorities. And again, with reference to French truthfulness and
courage in the expression of heterodox religious opinion, I admire it,
and consider it far preferable to hypocrisy and moral cowardice, but at
the same time I remember that a Frenchman has less to risk and less to
lose by veracity than an Englishman. A Frenchman can with difficulty
conceive the force of that quiet pressure which is brought to bear upon
an Englishman from his infancy. It is like hydraulic pressure, gentle
and slow, but practically irresistible. He is taught and governed
in boyhood by clergymen, their feminine allies compel him to go to
church and to observe the English Sunday if he intends to marry in
England. There is the discipline, too, of the daily family prayers, the
Scripture readings, and the discipline of “good form” in conversation.
Even the strong-minded Englishman is a little afraid of a clergyman. I
once knew an English officer in Paris, a man of tried courage, who was
not proof against this timidity. He possessed in his library a number
of heterodox books, but when a clerical brother from England came to
stay with him he packed up all that literature and sent it elsewhere
for the time, as a boy puts a forbidden volume out of his master’s

[Sidenote: Political Lying.]

[Sidenote: International Misrepresentation.]

Political lying must be very common in both countries, if we accept
the testimony of the politicians themselves, for they always tell us
that the newspapers opposed to their own are remarkable chiefly for
their mendacity. This field of political lying is far too extensive
for me to enter upon it. I prefer to confine myself to a few examples
of international misrepresentation, as they will throw light upon the
general subject of this book. Like political parties, the nations
themselves are enemies, and consider it a legitimate part of the
chronic warfare that is maintained between them to say whatever may be
to each other’s disadvantage, provided only that it has a chance of
being believed.

[Sidenote: Difference between English and French Lying.]

[Sidenote: Superiority of English Craft.]

I notice, however, a difference in kind and quality between French and
English lying. The French are daring enough, but they are not really
clever in the art. They have much audacity, but little skill. They will
say what is not true with wonderful decision, and they will stick to
it afterwards; but the English surpass them infinitely in craft and
guile. The typical French lie is a simple, shameless invention; the
typical English lie is not merely half a truth; it is entangled with
half a dozen truths, or semblances of truths, so that it becomes most
difficult to separate them, unless by the exercise of great patience
and judicial powers of analysis. Besides this, if the patient analyst
came and put the falsehood on one side, and the semblances of truth on
the other, the process of separation would be too long, too minute, and
too wearisome, for a heedless world to follow him.

[Sidenote: French Reliance on Ignorance.]

[Sidenote: English Reference to imperfect Knowledge.]

The French writer who publishes a falsehood always relies greatly upon
the ignorance of his readers. He is audacious because he believes
himself to be safe from detection; or he may be merely reckless in
his statements, without intentional mendacity, knowing that any
degree of carelessness is of little consequence in addressing his own
careless public. The English writer, on the other hand, is aware that
_his_ public knows a little of everything, though its knowledge is
inexact; and he pays some deference to this sort of inexact knowledge
by referring to those facts that an indolent and confused memory may
retain. His assertions have therefore a sufficiently good appearance
both of truth and of knowledge, and they satisfy a public that has some
information and a great theoretical respect for truth combined with
much critical indolence.

[Sidenote: A French Example.]

The first example I shall give is of the reckless French kind. The
critic has malevolent feelings towards England (the shadow cast by
his French patriotism), and he indulges these feelings to the utmost
by writing what is unfavourable to the country he detests, without
stopping to inquire if it is true.

[Sidenote: Toussenel.]

[Sidenote: _L’Esprit des Bêtes._]

Toussenel is a very popular French author. His name is known to every
Frenchman who reads, and he has a great reputation for wit. His book
entitled _L’Esprit des Bêtes_ appeared first in the year 1847, and is
now almost a French classic. I find the following paragraph on page 35
of Hetzel’s popular edition. After speaking of the horse in past times,
Toussenel directs our attention to the present:--

[Sidenote: Toussenel on the English Blood-horse.]

[Sidenote: Toussenel on English Law.]

[Sidenote: Norman Families.]

[Sidenote: Serfdom in England.]

[Sidenote: Peers the only Landowners.]

“Which is the country in Europe where the blood-horse plays the most
brilliant part? It is England. Why? The horse continues to reign and
govern in England because England is the country of all the world where
oppression is most odious and most revolting. There we find a thousand
Norman families which possess, by themselves, all the soil, which
occupy all posts, and make all the laws, exactly as on the day after
the Battle of Hastings. In England the conquering race is everything,
the rest of the nation nothing. The English lord esteems his horse in
proportion to the contempt he has for the Irishman, for the Saxon,
inferior races that he has vanquished by his alliance with his horse.
Take good heed, then, that you offend not one hair of the tail of a
noble courser of Albion, you who care for your money and your liberty;
for the horse is the appanage of the House of Lords, and these Lords
have caused the law to declare their horse inviolable and sacred. You
may knock down a man with your fist, you may take your wife to market
with a halter round her neck, you may trail the wretched prostitute in
the mud of the gutter, the daughter of the poverty-stricken artisan
whom misery has condemned to infamy. The law of Great Britain tolerates
these peccadilloes. For the Norman race of Albion, the English people
has never formed part of humanity.”

What strikes us at once in writing of this kind is the astonishing
confidence of the author in the profound ignorance of his readers. The
confidence was fully justified. There are few Frenchmen even at the
present day to whom anything in this passage would seem inaccurate or
exaggerated. The statement that only the Norman families can be lords
and landowners is quite one that the French mind would be prepared to
accept, because it implies that England is in a more backward condition
than France. I have met with an intelligent Frenchman who maintained
that serfdom still exists in England--the serfdom of the Saxon, the
serfdom of Gurth and Wamba; and when I happened to mention an English
estate as belonging to a certain commoner, another Frenchman, a
man of superior culture and gentle breeding, first looked politely
sceptical, and then raised the unanswerable objection that in England,
as everybody knew, land could only be held by peers. Others will repeat
Toussenel’s statement that all the public posts (what we call _places_)
are held by the nobility.

[Sidenote: Toussenel’s Kind of Falsehood.]

The kind of falsehood of which Toussenel’s statements are an example
arises from complete indifference to truth. He pays no attention to
it whatever, has no notion that a writer who fails to inform himself
neglects a sacred duty, but sets down in malice any outrageous idea
that comes uppermost, and then affirms it to be fact.

[Sidenote: The English Family Bath.]

My next example is of less importance, because it is not spread abroad
in a famous and permanent book; still, it shows a kind of falsehood
that may be dictated by French malevolence. A Frenchman had been
staying in England, and on his return to France he told any one who
would listen to him that the English have a strange custom--the family
bath. All the members of an English family, without regard to sex or
age, bathe together every morning in a state of perfect nudity.

[Sidenote: Cause of the Lie.]

This, I think, is rather a representative specimen of a French lie. It
is a pure invention, suggested by anger at the superior cleanliness of
the English upper classes, and by a desire to make them pay for their
cleanliness by a loss of reputation for decency.

[Sidenote: French Mendacity Artless.]

[Sidenote: English Falsehood Intellectually Superior.]

[Sidenote: French Cabinets _laïc_.]

By reckless invention on the one hand, and complete carelessness about
verification on the other, the French have accumulated a mass of
information about the English which is as valuable as the specimens
here given. But there is no real interest in the study of artless
French mendacity. It is but the inventiveness of children who say
no matter what. It displays no intelligence. English falsehood is
incomparably superior to it as an exercise of mental sharpness, and is
always worth studying as an inexhaustible subject for the most watchful
and interesting analysis. Nothing can surpass the ingenuity with which
that marvellous patchwork of truth and its opposite is put together.
The intelligent Englishman knows that truth is the most important
ingredient in a well-concocted falsehood.

The following example has remained in my memory, and is worth
quoting for its concentration. In scarcely more than twenty words it
contains three deceptive phantoms of truths, and conveys three false
impressions. I found it in an English newspaper of repute, but am
unable to give the date. This, however, is in some degree indicated by
the passage itself.

[Sidenote: An Example of English Falsehood.]

“The present atheistical government of France, after expelling the
religious orders, has now decreed that the crosses shall be removed
from the cemeteries.”

[Sidenote: Analysis of the Example given.]

The adjective “atheistical” is here quietly substituted for the
true one, which would be _laïc_. The French Government is not
more atheistic than a board of railway directors. There are four
antagonistic established religions in France, and the right to freedom
of thought is recognised by law,[46] so that a French Government
is necessarily non-theocratic and neutral. French cabinets no more
profess atheism than they profess Judaism or Romanism; and since the
establishment of the Third Republic they have never shown themselves
more actively hostile to the idea of Deity than the Royal Society or
any other purely secular institution in London.

[Sidenote: The Religious Orders.]

[Sidenote: What happened in 1880.]

[Sidenote: Action of the Ferry Cabinet.]

[Sidenote: Laymen under the same Law.]

[Sidenote: Sir Robert Peel’s Opinion.]

The expression, “after expelling the religious orders,” was intended to
convey the idea that the religious orders _in general_ were expelled
_from France_, that being the recognised English view of the Ferry
decrees. In reality not a single monk was expelled from France,
nor were the orders generally disturbed in any way. The religious
orders were classed under two categories,--the authorised, which were
recognised by the State, and the unauthorised, which existed only on
sufferance. The laws, which required them to ask for “authorisation,”
had not been passed under the republic but under the monarchy. What
happened in 1880 was this. The authorised congregations were left
entirely undisturbed. The unauthorised were not expelled from France,
but invited to ask for an authorisation, which the Government was
disposed to grant in every case except that of the Jesuits. They
declined to ask, in obedience to commands from Rome, the object of
which was to place the Government in the position of a persecutor,
or compel it to retreat. Ferry would not retreat, and turned the
unauthorised congregations out of their houses. This was represented
as a persecution of religion; but, in truth, the monks _were treated
exactly as French laymen_, for unauthorised associations of laymen were
equally illegal, and lay associations were equally obliged to submit
their statutes and ask for authorisation.[47] Sir Robert Peel said in
1843, “If a Church chooses to have the advantages of an establishment,
and to hold those privileges which the law confers, that Church,
whether it be the Church of Rome, or the Church of England, or the
Presbyterian Church of Scotland, _must conform to the law_.” The French
cabinet was therefore only acting upon a recognised English principle.

[Sidenote: Removal of the Crosses from the Cemeteries.]

[Sidenote: English Belief about it.]

We may next examine the statement that the French Government ordered
the crosses to be removed from the cemeteries. If the reader does not
know the truth he is sure to receive the intended impression that this
order, emanating from the Government, took effect throughout France. He
will receive another impression, well calculated upon, that the crosses
_upon the graves_ were removed. In fact, this is what the English
believed about the matter. What an unholy outrage on Christianity
and on the feelings of pious relatives! What a perfect subject for
indignant denunciation of republican tyranny and violence! However,
English travellers still find the crosses on the graves, and they see
the stone-cutters near the cemeteries continually carving new ones
under their wooden sheds.

[Sidenote: The True History about the Crosses.]

The explanation is very simple. The decree did not issue from the
French Government at all, but from the town council of a single
city--Paris. Even in Paris it had no application to the graves, but
referred exclusively to the crosses on the gateways of the Parisian
cemeteries. These crosses, which were very few in number, the municipal
council decided to remove, because they appeared to indicate that
Christians alone (or, perhaps, even Roman Catholics alone) had a right
to interment in the public burial-grounds, whereas these were in fact
open to Jews and unbelievers as well as to Catholics and Protestants.

Now, I would ask the reader to observe in how few words the false
impressions are conveyed and how many have been needed for a reply.
And how can one count upon the sustained attention necessary for the
reception of the truth?

[Sidenote: English Newspapers and French Religious Orders.]

[Sidenote: The Expulsion of the Princes.]

[Sidenote: English Perversion of the Truth.]

[Sidenote: The Illustrated Journals.]

[Sidenote: Extract from the _Saturday Review_.]

The English newspapers quite succeeded in conveying the impression
that the religious congregations were expelled from France, as if they
had been sent into exile. Since then there has been a second case of
turning-out, and when it occurred I observed with great interest what
the English press would make of it and what the English public could
be induced to believe. Until the Duke of Aumale wrote an intentionally
offensive letter to the President of the Republic, in a form which no
Head of a State would have tolerated, only two members of the House of
Orleans had been expelled--the Count of Paris and the Duke of Orleans.
The English newspapers, in order to augment the appearance of tyranny
on the part of the French Government, had the ingenuity to pervert this
into an expulsion of the entire Orleans family, ladies, children, and
all. The ladies and children were introduced to win the sympathy of the
reader, and arouse his indignation against the republican persecutors.
The daily papers announced the expulsion of the Orleans family in
capital letters, but the best appeal to sympathy was made by the
illustrated journals, which impartially engraved portraits of them all
as interesting and illustrious exiles. Nor was this fiction temporary.
The false legend which the English people seriously believe has already
entered into history. See how neatly and briefly it is inserted in the
following extract from the _Saturday Review_ for 9th July 1887: “About
the time of the expulsion of himself _and his family_ from France,
the Count of Paris advised his friends to abandon the practice of
indiscriminate opposition.” Meanwhile, as a matter of fact, members
of the house supposed to be languishing in exile were enjoying full
liberty in France, travelling, staying, and receiving any guests they

[Sidenote: English Story about a French Catechism.]

[Sidenote: Children in the French Public Schools.]

In the year 1886 some English newspapers got up an account of a
sort of French catechism, using the name of Mr. Matthew Arnold as
an authority. The nature of this catechism may be understood from a
speech at the Harvard celebration by Mr. Lowell, who trusted to these
statements. Here are Mr. Lowell’s words: “Mr. Matthew Arnold has told
us that in contemporary France, which seems doomed to try every theory
of enlightenment by which the fingers may be burned or the house set on
fire, the children of the public schools are taught, in answer to the
question, ‘Who gives you all these fine things?’ to say, ‘The State.’
Ill fares the State in which the parental image is replaced by an

[Sidenote: The Author’s Inquiry into the Matter.]

[Sidenote: Its Results.]

Being well aware of the extreme skill with which false impressions are
conveyed in England, I said to myself that it would be interesting
to institute a little inquiry into this matter, and did not rest
till I had got to the bottom of it. “The public schools” is a very
comprehensive expression, including and at once suggesting the
_lycées_, so I began my inquiry in them. The result was as I expected;
no such question and answer were known in the _lycées_, or had ever
been heard of there. My next move was to cause inquiries to be made
in the elementary schools. There, also, the question and answer were
wholly unknown; but the masters added that since many manuals were
used, no single manual being imposed by the Government, as implied by
the newspaper statement, there might possibly be some school in which
a manual might contain something resembling the question and answer

[Sidenote: Mr. Arnold’s Answer.]

[Sidenote: A Simple Fact.]

Finally, I wrote to Mr. Arnold himself, hoping to get from him the
little scrap of truth on which the falsehood had grown. Mr. Arnold
could not give me the name of any school in which anything resembling
that question and answer had been heard; he only remembered that “in
some school in Paris” he had made a note of the matter. Finally,
Mr. Arnold frankly acknowledged that the word “State” (_l’État_)
was not used at all. The word really used was _le Pays_, which is
not an abstraction but a reality--the land of France with all its
inhabitants. The question and answer seemed to Mr. Arnold to exhibit
“the superficiality, nay silliness, of the French in treating religion
and morals.” I see in it nothing but a truthful account of a matter of
fact. The children were reminded that they owed their education to the
country as a reason for serving the country when the time came.

[Sidenote: Scott’s Denial of the Authorship of _Waverley_.]

[Sidenote: Lying in Self-defence.]

[Sidenote: Defences against Impertinent Curiosity.]

[Sidenote: Robert Chambers.]

Sir Walter Scott has often been severely blamed for defending the
anonymous character of the Waverley novels by falsehoods, but he would
not have been blamed for defending it by silence, even when silence
was fully equivalent to a falsehood. This opens an important question
in casuistry. It is likely that almost all French people would say
that Sir Walter had a right to defend himself in that way, as the
falsehood in self-defence against curiosity is usually considered
legitimate in France. Many English people do not think that kind of
falsehood legitimate, yet would practise the silence that deceives, or
utter a sentence carefully worded so as to be literally true whilst
it conveyed an erroneous idea. Everybody defends himself against
impertinent curiosity in his own way, and it can seldom be done without
some sacrifice of veracity. When Robert Chambers said he wondered how
the author of _Vestiges of Creation_ would have felt under Herschell’s
attack, it was not true, he did not wonder, he knew accurately, being
himself the author.

[Sidenote: French Opinion about English Truth.]

[Sidenote: English Opinion about French Truth.]

[Sidenote: The Author’s Experience.]

The French believe the English to be usually truthful in private
transactions, but slippery and deceitful in great international
affairs; the English have very little confidence in French truth,
either in private or public matters. For my part, I have met with
extremely deceitful and extremely honourable men in both countries. I
have been cheated in both, and treated fairly and justly in both. If,
however, I were asked to say which of the two nations is according to
my own intimate convictions the more truthful, I should say decidedly
the English, except on religious topics, and there the French are more
truthful, or, if you will, more unreserved.



[Sidenote: Intellectual Justice.]

What is meant by “justice” in this chapter is the power of suspending
judgment until evidence is forthcoming, and then the disposition to
decide on the merits of the case unbiassed by prepossessions of any
kind. It is one of the rarest, perhaps the very rarest, of intellectual
virtues, and hardly ever to be found in times of strife, either between
nations or between parties in the same nation.

[Sidenote: Little of it in France.]

[Sidenote: Guyau.]

It would be a proof of ignorance of human nature to expect much of
this virtue in contemporary France, a country divided, more than any
other in Europe, by political and religious animosity. And, in fact,
there is very little intellectual justice in France, the only men who
cultivate the virtue being a few thoughtful philosophers who have
little influence in the nation. I may mention Guyau as a representative
of this small class.[48] He certainly endeavoured to think justly,
which is one of several reasons for regretting his premature death. I
myself have known two or three Frenchmen in private life who have the
same desire to be just.

[Sidenote: Justice Commoner in England than in France.]

[Sidenote: Party Dissensions in England.]

[Sidenote: Even amongst Philosophers.]

The English are more favourably situated for the cultivation of this
virtue, and, in fact, it is more frequently found amongst them; but
the English themselves have entered upon a period of strong political
dissension since the Irish question reached an acute stage, and even
if that question were settled there are others beyond it which are not
less likely to produce great intensity of party hatred. There will not
be much justice whilst these dissensions continue. Even so ordinary an
occurrence as a simple parliamentary election is now enough to divide
the society of an English country town into hostile camps almost as
bitter as French parties. What is most to be deplored is that some of
the philosophers themselves, who might be expected to keep cool heads,
have caught the contagion exactly like ordinary mortals.

[Sidenote: Class Ideas.]

[Sidenote: Sympathy with the Slaveholders.]

[Sidenote: Antipathy to French Republicans.]

[Sidenote: English Sympathy with the Church of Rome.]

[Sidenote: Father du Lac. Queen Victoria a “Monstrous Anomaly.”]

Independently of political questions, the commonest cause of injustice
in England is to be found in the ideas of class. The class of gentlemen
has a tendency to give its sympathy, without question, to gentlemen,
and to refuse it to those who are not, in its opinion, of that caste.
One of the best examples of this tendency was the unanimity of the
English gentry in their sympathy with the slaveholders during the
American war of secession, purely on the ground that the slaveholders
were a gentlemanly class. In comparison with this important point,
the injustice of slavery itself sank into complete insignificance.
The same rule of sympathy for gentlemen extends to the continent of
Europe, although the gentlemen there are often of a very dubious
species. Anybody who would put down French popular aspirations was
sure of class sympathy in England. A French republican is simply a
Frenchman who desires representative government, that is what he is;
but class-antipathy set English gentlefolks against him, though they
themselves had been the first to profit by representative institutions
in their own country. So with regard to French conflicts between
Church and State, the English upper classes always side instinctively
with the Church, although they themselves accepted Church property
after the great English spoliation, and many of them are still living
upon it, some actually in the very walls of the old abbeys, others
within sight of their ruins, whilst others, again, appropriate tithes.
If a French mayor prohibits a religious procession it is an act of
republican tyranny, yet Roman Catholic processions are not permitted
in English streets, and the republicans do not carry their distrust
of the clergy so far as to make them ineligible for the Chamber of
Deputies as they are for the House of Commons. Neither is a French
priest compelled to lay aside his ecclesiastical costume except when he
goes to England. However, polite English sympathy with the Church of
Rome has one incontestable merit; it is at the same time disinterested
and unrequited. The Rev. Father du Lac, who took his Jesuit school to
Canterbury after the Ferry decrees, and who enjoys British protection,
calls Queen Victoria a monstrous anomaly, the anomaly being that
royalty and heresy are monstrously combined in the person of Her

[Sidenote: Injustice produced by Class Ideas in England itself.]

The sharp separation of classes produces much injustice within the
limits of England itself. When an Englishman feels himself authorised
to despise his equal in wealth, culture, and wisdom, if he happens to
be a dissenter, there is a strong temptation to do so, and we find
public writers in England who quietly look down upon all dissenters _en
bloc_ as people of low caste and unrefined manners. After all, these
wretched dissenters are Englishmen and Englishwomen, which is surely
some title to consideration.

[Sidenote: Superiority of many English People to Class Prejudices.]

[Sidenote: Class Prejudices amongst the French.]

I am far from wishing to imply that the English never rise above the
region of class prejudices. Many have done so, and these amongst the
most distinguished. Shelley did so completely, Byron partially; in our
own day several of the most famous poets and thinkers appear to live,
intellectually at least, outside of class. My impression is that the
French do not get rid of class prejudices so frequently as the English.
If they belong either to the real or the false _noblesse_ they think
that _noblesse oblige_ in a peculiar sense, that it lays them under an
obligation to condemn popular aspirations without a hearing.

[Sidenote: Comparative Mental Independence of the Poor.]

It is difficult for the poor in any country to be just, because they so
often suffer; still, in France, they are more frequently independent
in their judgments than the upper classes, the proof being that they
support a greater variety of opinions. You never know how a French
peasant will vote till you know him individually, but you may predict
to a certainty that a noble will vote against the republican candidate.

[Sidenote: French Parties not becoming more Tolerant.]

Whether, in quieter and more settled times, French parties will be less
virulent, must depend upon the effects of experience. The events of the
next decade may have either a calming or an exasperating influence. I
do not perceive that parties have become more tolerant during the last
ten years. The one good sign is, that with all their hatred they have
avoided civil war.

[Sidenote: Vulgar Patriotism.]

[Sidenote: Hatred of Powerful Neighbours.]

Next to the rancour of internal politics, the greatest obstacle to
justice is that kind of vulgar patriotism which cannot love its own
country without hating its neighbours. This sentiment of hatred is
strictly proportionate to the neighbour’s power. The English have
no animosity against Swiss republicanism, though it is still more
democratic than French. The French had a romantic sympathy with Italy
in her weakness, but they detest her in her strength.

[Sidenote: Justice to Citizens of Insignificant States.]

Most English and French people are capable of justice towards
foreigners who belong to insignificant States, such as the Danes, the
Dutch, the Belgians, the Swiss, and the Greeks. A few are capable of
justice towards citizens of great and powerful States.

[Sidenote: Mr. Grant Allen just to the French about Algeria.]

[Sidenote: French Sympathy with Gordon at Khartoum.]

Mr. Grant Allen has given an excellent example of this rare kind
of justice in saying simply what is true about the French colony
of Algeria, and in expressing the desire, in the interests of
civilisation, that the beneficent French power might ultimately be
permitted to extend itself over Morocco. I remember that when the fate
of Gordon at Khartoum was still unsettled, some Frenchmen expressed a
hearty desire for his preservation and success. They considered that he
represented civilisation against barbarism, and placed themselves on
the side of civilisation.

[Sidenote: French Feeling about War.]

I have occasionally met with French people who tried to be just even to
the Germans, and that, of course, is very hard for them, but the great
majority are unable to look upon war as a simple game in which the
loser pays the penalty. They think of it as a glorious enterprise when
they win, and as a cruel inhuman outrage when they are defeated.

[Sidenote: The Defects of one’s own Country.]

[Sidenote: French Criticisms of France.]

It is a part of strict justice to see the defects of one’s own country
as plainly as those of another. This is certainly not incompatible with
strong affection, as in private life we see very plainly the defects of
those whom we love well and faithfully, and for whom we are ready to
make the utmost sacrifices. In this way a few Englishmen see clearly
the defects of England, but I should say that many more Frenchmen
see clearly and justly the defects of France. I have heard severe
criticisms of France from English people, but far more telling and
formidable criticisms from the French themselves, because they knew the
weak points and could criticise in detail. This is especially true with
regard to the defects of French administration, apparently so perfect
and looking so laboriously after centimes, yet in reality unable to
prevent either waste or corruption.

[Sidenote: Inconvenience of Justice in Literature.]

[Sidenote: Baits for the French Reader.]

[Sidenote: Gallic Sharpness.]

[Sidenote: M. Philippe Daryl.]

[Sidenote: His Invention about the Queen.]

The natural refuge of justice ought to be in the press, but
unfortunately, as I have observed elsewhere, justice is not a very
convenient or acceptable quality in literature, and least of all
in journalism. Its constant tendency is to diminish the display of
what people foolishly take for literary force, and to make what
might otherwise have been called forcible writing seem dull and
commonplace. Now, the French journalist may be wildly inaccurate, he
may be wrong in all his statements, and give suppositions in the place
of facts, but he cannot afford to be dull, as he addresses readers
whose chief peculiarity, as he well knows, is to be inattentive. Wit
and exaggeration are the baits by which the French reader is to be
caught, but wit is seldom just, and exaggeration never is. There was
poor John Brown, the Queen’s domestic, I will not say what the French
press made of him, but in the exercise of its Gallic sharpness it
got a good way beyond the truth. French writers are rather fond of
laughing at the Queen, as English writers have laughed at various
foreign sovereigns, and sometimes the laugh is harmless yet based
on inaccurate information. For example, M. Philippe Daryl says that
after a drawing-room “la reine remonte dans son carosse à six chevaux
café-au-lait, de race hanovrienne comme elle, et prend le chemin de
Windsor.” This is a French fiction, intended to make the Queen a little
ridiculous; the Frenchman is trotting out the cream-coloured horses
(they are eight, not six) for the occasion, and despatches them on the
road to Windsor. As a matter of fact the Queen travels to Windsor by
rail, and usually drives to the Paddington Station behind four bays, so
that the whole pleasantry falls rather flat on an English reader. It
is a trifle, but it may serve to illustrate the position of a French
writer who must be amusing at all costs.

[Sidenote: Great Writers not Just.]

[Sidenote: Sparkle and Glitter more Valuable than Justice.]

The great writers are in the same position with a difference. They
need not amuse; but they are bound to provide a stirring stimulus.
Was Victor Hugo a just writer? Was Carlyle? They knew their business,
which was to be forcible; but nobody who understood their nature, or
their art either, would go to Victor Hugo for a faithful account of
the English, or to Carlyle for an exact appreciation of the French. Or
shall we turn to Michelet and Ruskin?--both makers of delightful prose,
but too much biassed by their own genius to be just. In literature
force and brilliance, nay, even mere glassy sparkle or glitter of
tinsel, are more effective qualities than the hesitancy that cannot
round off a sentence without stopping to inquire whether the praise in
it is not too much for the occasion, or the censure undeserved.

Suppose that a just writer were asked to give, in five or six lines,
his opinion of the railway system, and its action for good and evil,
how would he describe it?

[Sidenote: A just Account of Railways.]

He might say, “The use of railways is to transport merchandise and
passengers quickly and cheaply. They favour human intercourse by
enabling people to meet in spite of distance, and to exchange letters
without delay. They are sometimes, to a limited extent, injurious to
beautiful scenery. Railway travelling is sometimes injurious to health;
and railway accidents occasionally cause loss of life.”

This is exactly just and true; but it has the fatal defect of being
commonplace. It is also quite destitute of sublimity. Now listen to Mr.
Ruskin on the same subject.

[Sidenote: A Powerful Description of Railways.]

“They are to me the loathsomest form of devilry now extant, animated
and deliberate earthquakes, destructive of all wise social habits and
possible natural beauty, carriages of damned souls on the ridges of
their own graves.”

[Sidenote: Analysis of Mr. Ruskin’s Description.]

These lines have several most valuable literary qualities. They give
a shock of surprise, they captivate attention, they entirely avoid
the quagmire of the commonplace. They introduce very sublime elements,
the Miltonic elements of devilry, earthquakes, and lost spirits. There
is, too, a mysterious grandeur about the damned souls who take railway
tickets and travel over their own corpses buried in the embankments.
But is this account of railways accurate and true? Is it just to the
memory of George Stephenson?



[Sidenote: Difficulty of the Subject.]

[Sidenote: Conventionalisms.]

[Sidenote: Tacit Tolerations.]

Of all subjects this is the most difficult to treat satisfactorily;
because there is, and must be, an inevitable reticence that is sure
to weaken the argument at the most important points. Besides this,
the subject, more than any other, is steeped in conventionalisms,
some of which it is considered right or pardonable to act upon, but
not pardonable to express. There are tacit tolerations which it is
an offence to avow, as if the avowal incurred a new and personal
responsibility. And even the most frank and courageous of writers might
well shrink from a subject that cannot be fully discussed, at least in
an English book.

There is, however, one point of great importance which has never, so
far as I know, been frankly touched upon before, and which may help us
to understand the varieties and inconsistencies of public opinion.

[Sidenote: Partiality of our Conventionalism.]

[Sidenote: Two Weights and Two Measures.]

[Sidenote: Opposite Views of the Marriage of Ecclesiastics.]

[Sidenote: Marriage of a Bishop.]

[Sidenote: Catholic Horror.]

We all know that the relation between the sexes is of a dual nature;
that it is both physical and mental. A man may be attracted to a woman
by a physical impulse, or by a desire for her companionship, or by
both at the same time. This we all know and admit; but the fiction of
our conventionalism, and a very curious and wonderful fiction it is,
excludes one or the other of the two reasons for cohabitation after
ascertaining whether it is, or is not, in accordance with received
usages. If the cohabitation is not of a customary kind, it is at
once assumed that physical pleasure is the only object of it; and
that pleasure is spoken of in terms of disgust, as vile, sensual,
and degrading. If, however, the cohabitation is of a customary kind,
not only is the physical pleasure permitted without reproach, but
it is conventionally ignored as non-existent, and the motive for
cohabitation is held to be the pure desire for companionship. One of
the best examples of this contrast is the different way of regarding
the marriage of ecclesiastics in a Catholic and in a Protestant
community. An Anglican clergyman gets married, and the incident, being
in accordance with custom, conveys no idea to the Protestant mind
beyond this--that the clergyman may have felt lonely by himself, and
wanted the help, the companionship, the gentle affection of a wife.
The physical relation is set aside, it is simply not thought about,
and even this slight and passing allusion to it may be condemned as
unbecoming. Now let us turn to the state of opinion in Roman Catholic
countries. There, when people hear of the marriage of an ecclesiastic,
they think of nothing but the physical relation, and they think of
it as disgusting, filthy, and obscene, though, in fact, it is simply
natural and no more. In this case the desire for companionship is
ignored, and physical appetite alone is assumed to be the motive for
the union. A case has occurred of a Protestant ecclesiastic, who
married after his elevation to a bishopric. I despair of conveying
to the English reader any idea of the aspect that such a union must
have for Catholics who have never lived amongst Protestants. For them
it is not only monstrous as an outrage against custom, but it even
seems monstrous in the sense of being unnatural. Something of this
Catholic horror remained even in the strong mind of Queen Elizabeth.
She was near enough to Catholic times, and had still enough of Catholic
sentiment, to be unable to look upon a bishop’s wife without loathing.

[Sidenote: Marriage with a Deceased Wife’s Sister.]

When custom partly but not entirely tolerates cohabitation, we find the
two ideas predominating in different people. Marriage with a deceased
wife’s sister is, for those who are favourable to it, the desire for
affectionate companionship or for motherly tenderness towards children
already existing; for those who are unfavourable it is a lust of the
flesh. In like manner there are two estimates of the conduct of a
divorced woman who marries again during her first husband’s lifetime.

[Sidenote: Illegitimate Unions.]

[Sidenote: Cohabitation in large Towns.]

[Sidenote: Customs of the Lower Classes.]

We may now approach the subject of illegitimate unions. In societies
where they are tolerated the idea of companionship prevails; in
societies where they are not tolerated the physical aspect of the union
immediately suggests itself. In the large towns both of England and
France it is not rare amongst the lower classes for men and women to
live together without formal marriage. With reference to these cases
the complaint of moralists is that the people have no proper sense of
the necessity of marriage, they have not the proper consciousness that
they are doing wrong. The reason is that these unions are permitted
by the customs of the lower classes, and are scarcely blamed when the
man remains faithful to the woman and treats her well; therefore the
physical relation is as much ignored as it is in formal marriage, and
companionship alone is thought of.

[Sidenote: Illicit Unions in the Artistic and Intellectual Classes.]

The same great power of custom, in casting a veil over the grosser side
of the sexual relation, is seen in higher classes whenever illicit
unions are tolerated by public opinion, and they often are so in the
artistic and intellectual classes of great capitals when it is evident
that the union is one of genuine companionship, and when it is of a
lasting character, and both parties remain at least apparently faithful
to it. Here is an expression of this toleration by M. Alfred Asseline,
true for Paris, but not true for the provinces. I give it in the
original, because the exact shades of expression could not easily be
reproduced in a translation.

[Sidenote: Quotation from M. Alfred Asseline.]

“Dans l’état où sont nos mœurs, il est admis que les hommes supérieurs
ont le privilège d’imposer à ce qu’on appelle le monde, à la société
dont ils sont le charme et l’honneur, une amie,--l’amie,--la femme
qu’il leur a plu de choisir comme le témoin voilé de leurs travaux,
celle qui, légitime ou non, se tient dans l’ombre, confidente discrète
du génie, au moment ou ses rayons s’allument.

“Ce n’est pas la vulgaire Égérie, c’est la Muse, c’est l’âme même du
poète qu’il nous est permis, dans les épanchements de l’amitié, de
voir, d’admirer, de respecter.”

[Sidenote: Careful Exclusion of Impure Ideas.]

The reader will observe in these carefully chosen words how
deliberately all suggestion of impurity is excluded, and how the writer
dwells upon intellectual companionship alone. He may understand this
still better by reference to a special case.

[Sidenote: Story of Victor Hugo and Juliette Drouet.]

[Sidenote: Parisian Opinion on that _liaison_.]

[Sidenote: Respectful Tone of the Press.]

About the year 1833 there was an actress at the theatre of the
Porte-Saint-Martin, named Juliette Drouet, who performed in two of
Victor Hugo’s plays, _Lucrèce Borgia_ and _Marie Tudor_. The poet was
pleased with her performance, and thought well of her intelligence.
In this way he was attracted to herself, and she became his mistress,
and lived either with him, or very near him, till she died many years
afterwards. She had a residence close to his own at Guernsey, which
Victor Hugo arranged and decorated. When he returned to Paris she
returned with him and continued to be his very near neighbour. It was
the fashion in Paris to think only of the intellectual side of this
_liaison_, and to speak of Madame Drouet with the utmost respect as
the poet’s wise and discreet friend, a kind of living Muse for him.
The lawful wife herself, who knew all, spoke without bitterness of her
rival. “These gentlemen,” she said one day to her cousin, meaning her
husband and son, “have arranged a little _fête_ at Madame Drouet’s,
and they are expecting you. I insist on your going, it will please my
husband.” When Madame Drouet died, the notices in the newspapers were
most respectful to her, and sympathetic with the old poet who had lost
“the faithful friend and wise and gentle adviser of so many years.”

[Sidenote: Protection by the Use of Pure Language.]

It will be seen from these extracts that illicit unions may under
certain favourable circumstances (especially that of intellectual
or artistic companionship) come to be conventionally protected, as
marriage itself is, by the use of the purest possible language. There
have been cases in London more or less resembling that of Victor Hugo,
which it would be considered an offence against good taste to speak
about in the plain terms of old-fashioned morality.

[Sidenote: André Theuriet on Parisian and Provincial Opinion.]

M. André Theuriet, in his excellent novel _Amour d’Automne_, says
that adulterous _liaisons_ are conventionally tolerated in Paris, but
judged very severely by the stricter provincial opinion. Those who
feel disposed to tolerate them, speak of them in words so carefully
selected that they may be used before virgins and children. There was
“an affectionate friendship” between the gentleman and lady, or “an
old attachment.” Fidelity in these cases gives them an air of positive

“Le temps, vieillard divin, honore et blanchit tout!”

[Sidenote: Toleration in Italy and Germany.]

[Sidenote: Lewes and Liszt.]

[Sidenote: Liszt and the Princess of Wittgenstein.]

This kind of toleration is not by any means confined to London and
Paris; it has long existed in Italy and Germany. Lewes might have
counted upon it in Liszt, yet at Weimar he asked if he might present
Miss Evans to the musician, not feeling sure “as their position was
irregular.” Liszt himself was living at Weimar with the Princess of
Wittgenstein, who had left her husband for his sake; and the duke had
been so accommodating as to lend them the Altenburg residence, where
they dispensed a graceful hospitality to many friends. The long series
of Liszt’s successes with distinguished ladies did not exclude him from
the world of London and Paris.

[Sidenote: Great Capitals--their Opinion of each Other.]

[Sidenote: Divorce-Court Evidence.]

[Sidenote: Statistics of Prostitution.]

[Sidenote: Clandestine Prostitution.]

Every great capital believes that some other great capital is the most
vicious in the world. London accords that distinction to Paris, Paris
to Vienna, but these accusations are vague, and it is impossible to
know the truth. The evidence in the Divorce Courts reveals a little
of it now and then, and is good evidence so far as it extends, but
it is never published in France. Statistics of prostitution are also
admissible as evidence, but it is difficult to found any comparative
argument upon them; because, in great cities, there is so much
clandestine prostitution, so much eking out of miserable incomes by
that means. The decent, modestly-dressed girl, the sad-looking young
widow whom nobody suspects, may have yielded to the pressure of want.

[Sidenote: The Author’s Unwillingness to believe Evil on Insufficient

I am unable to follow the English habit of taking French novels as
evidence of the general corruption of French life, and will give good
reasons for this rejection. Before doing so let me observe that I am
equally unwilling to believe evil, on insufficient evidence, of the
English. For example, I have never attached the slightest weight to
what were called the “revelations of the _Pall Mall Gazette_,” which
all the viler French newspapers affected to believe merely because they
would have been, if true, such precious facts for the enemy.

[Sidenote: The English Arguments from French Fiction.]

The English argument usually assumes one of two forms:--

1. Novelists draw from life; consequently, as adultery is almost
universal in French novels it must be equally common in French life.

2. French people purchase novels about adultery in great numbers;
consequently, the readers of these books must commit adultery

[Sidenote: Frequency of Crime in Imaginative Literature.]

[Sidenote: Shakespeare.]

[Sidenote: Stories read by the Young.]

[Sidenote: The Suicide Club.]

[Sidenote: Jane Eyre.]

[Sidenote: Adam Bede.]

[Sidenote: Paul Ferroll.]

[Sidenote: Daniel Deronda.]

With regard to the first of these propositions, I should say that
crimes of all kinds occur more frequently in all imaginative literature
than they do in the dull routine of everyday existence. Murder, for
example, is much more frequent in _Shakespeare_ than it is in ordinary
English life. Even stories that are considered innocent enough to be
read by the young, such as _The Arabian Nights_, _Robinson Crusoe_,
and, in recent times, Mr. Stevenson’s _Treasure Island_, are full of
villainy and homicide, introduced for no purpose in the world but to
excite the interest of the reader. What would English critics say to a
Frenchman who should affirm that there are suicide clubs in England
like the mutual murder society described with such circumstantial
detail in the _New Arabian Nights_? If we think of a few famous English
novels we shall find that they often describe situations which are
certainly not common in the ordinary lives of respectable people like
ourselves. We are not generally either bigamists, or seducers, or
wife-slayers, yet _Jane Eyre_ turned upon an intended bigamy, _Adam
Bede_ turned upon a case of seduction and infanticide, and _Paul
Ferroll_ fascinated us by the wonderfully self-possessed behaviour of a
gentleman who had quietly murdered his wife, as she lay in bed, early
one summer morning. In _Daniel Deronda_ the most polished gentleman in
the book has a family of illegitimate children, and the most brilliant
young lady becomes, in intention, a murderess, whilst the sweetest girl
is rescued from attempted suicide. These things _may_ happen, which is
enough for the purposes of the novelist. In France the great difficulty
of that artist is the uninteresting nature of the usual preliminaries
of marriage, so that he is thrown back upon adulterous love as the only
kind that is adventurous and romantic.

[Sidenote: That Fiction only represents Collected Cases.]

[Sidenote: Situations often Invented.]

[Sidenote: Materials not necessarily Abundant.]

The argument that the world of reality must be like the world of
fiction fails in another way. Real people are almost infinitely more
numerous than the creations of novelists, therefore, if every immoral
adventure in novels were drawn from life, it would only prove that
the novelist had collected cases, as a medical student might collect
cases of disease in a fairly healthy population. As a matter of
fact, however, the novelist does not usually take his _incidents_
from reality; he will often go to nature for his characters, and to
invention for his situations. The material in real life that suggests
the stories need not be very abundant. The cases of immorality found
in the English newspapers alone would be more than enough to keep the
principal French novelists at work all the year round.

[Sidenote: Novelists a small Class.]

[Sidenote: Tempted by Money.]

[Sidenote: The Reader must be Excited.]

[Sidenote: Novelists acute Tradesmen.]

The novelists themselves are a small class working under immense
temptations. They live in Paris, where life is terribly expensive,
rents enormous, habits luxurious. It is part of their business to see
society, and that entails an expenditure above the ordinary gains of
quiet unsensational literature. The temptation to gain more money
is, in such a situation, almost irresistible. Money is to be earned
by exciting the reader. Writers for the populace do this chiefly by
murders; but murders are not so attractive to the richer and more
refined classes as adventures of pleasure and sensuality. The novelist
works for his public, and enjoys both a world-wide notoriety and a
handsome income. The most successful novelists describe the pleasures
of luxury and vice, and the excitement to be derived from their
pursuit. They are simply acute tradesmen, like their publishers, who
supply what is in demand.

[Sidenote: Why People read Novels.]

[Sidenote: Dull Lives.]

[Sidenote: An English old Maid.]

Now with regard to the second proposition, that the readers of immoral
stories must themselves be immoral, observation of actual cases
entirely fails to confirm it. People read these stories because they
feel dull, and seek the interest of exciting situations. Here is a
case well known to me. A lady lives in a very out-of-the-way country
house and sees very little society; so reading is her only resource.
Fiction is naturally an important part of her reading, and as she is
not a linguist she is confined to the works of French authors and a few
translations. In this way she has read a good deal about adultery, but
her own life is unimpeachable. In like manner, for the sake of a little
excitement, an English old maid always read about the murders of the
day, and was accurately informed about the horrible details; yet she
never murdered anybody, nor even betrayed any homicidal impulse.

[Sidenote: Cosmopolitan Audience of French Novelists.]

[Sidenote: Daudet well known in London.]

[Sidenote: Fashionable Rage for French Novels in England.]

[Sidenote: Not all Frenchwomen Novel-Readers.]

[Sidenote: Pious Women. Girls.]

[Sidenote: Statistics of Novel-Reading near Paris.]

It is quietly assumed that French novels are written only for the
depraved tastes of French readers. French novels are, in fact, the
most cosmopolitan of all literatures since the Latin classics. They
have a great circulation in Russia, Germany, Italy, England, and other
countries. It appears that they answer accurately to the present state
of civilisation. In England they are bought by thousands both in the
originals and in translations. In a London drawing-room some years ago
I found that everybody could talk about Daudet except myself, and this
made me read some of his books that I might appear less ignorant. A
writer in the _Saturday Review_[50] speaks of those music halls and
restaurants which are chiefly frequented by the _demi-monde_, and
then goes on to say: “There is the same fascination in going to these
places that there is in reading French novels of more than doubtful
morality. Let it be known that there is a book that is hardly decent,
and the rush for it is immense amongst our young married ladies, and
even among some of the elder spinsters. Indeed, not to have read any
book that is more indecent than usual is to be out of the fashion.”
This is probably exaggerated, as many books are perfectly decorous
in expression whilst depicting an immoral kind of life, and a life
may preserve the strictest purity of language though given over to
unbridled desires. But, however bad may be the books they read, no
one supposes that Englishwomen misconduct themselves in a practical
manner because they have read them. Would it be more than fair to
extend the same charity to Frenchwomen? It might, at least, be borne
in mind that all Frenchwomen are not novel-readers. Many do not
read novels at all, others are extremely careful in their choice.
All pious women naturally avoid impure literature, and they are a
numerous class. Girls are usually limited, in fiction, to translations
from English stories and to a few harmless French ones. The habit of
novel-reading seems even to vary with localities. The Prefect of the
Seine procured some interesting statistics in 1886 about the lending
libraries on the outskirts of Paris (for a purpose connected with the
budget of the department), and from these it appears that there are
the most surprising degrees of variety in the habit of novel-reading
in different localities. At Asnières, out of a hundred volumes asked
for in the libraries, eighty-six are novels, whilst at St. Denis we
find them suddenly falling to twelve in the hundred. At Courbevoie
the demand for this class of literature is represented by eighty-two
per cent, at St. Ouen by twelve and three-quarters. Other places vary
between these extremes.

[Sidenote: The _Saturday Review_ on Public Education in France.]

[Sidenote: How the French use their Knowledge.]

The _Saturday Review_, never very charitable in its judgments about
France, and not often very well informed, has spoken as follows about
public education in that country: “France has taken a great step
forward in these days. It has gone all the way to an expenditure of
ninety millions of francs a year, and although Mr. Matthew Arnold
does not say so, has materially added to its now permanent deficit
by lavish outlay on schools, in which it trains thousands of children
to read.” (Well, surely there can be no harm in teaching children to
read, but international malevolence is ingenious enough to find evil
even here. I resume my suspended quotation:) “Thousands of children to
read who _will never use their knowledge again, or will use it only to
read obscenity, to the great and manifest advantage of their minds and

This is the kind of information about France which appears to satisfy
the readers of the _Saturday Review_. It is on a level with the
surprising statements about the English that we find in the most
ignorant French newspapers.

[Sidenote: What the French Lower Classes read.]

[Sidenote: Trashy Novels.]

[Sidenote: Horrible Situations.]

[Sidenote: _Cent Bons Livres._]

[Sidenote: _La Bibliothèque Populaire._]

[Sidenote: _La Bibliothèque Utile._]

[Sidenote: Lending Libraries.]

[Sidenote: In Schools and Barracks.]

[Sidenote: Recent Progress.]

[Sidenote: Self-made Frenchmen.]

The principal reading of the lower classes is the newspapers published
at one sou. Some of these are very ably conducted (for example, the
_Lyon Républicain_), some others at the same price are much inferior,
but the better class of these journals have a great circulation and
are doing more good than harm. The inferior ones publish the sort
of trash, in the way of novels, that suits an uncultivated taste.
The principal difference between these novels and those read by
educated people does not seem to be so much in morality as in the more
abundant variety of horrible situations supplied by the writer for
the populace. In France, as in England and elsewhere, the desire for
excitement which characterises the beginner in reading seems to turn
naturally to harrowing scenes. But the poor Frenchman is not confined
to his newspaper. He has now plenty of opportunities for purchasing
cheap scientific and literary works, and also for borrowing them. The
collection of _Cent Bons Livres_, published by Félix Vernay, contains
books of both classes issued in a legible type at two sous, and not
one of them is immoral. The _Bibliothèque Populaire_, also at two
sous, consists of selections from French and foreign literature. The
texts are very accurately printed, the translations are good, and the
publishers are strict in the exclusion of immoral works; yet the sale
of the collection is extensive, and it is found in the dwellings of
the humbler classes. The same may be said of the _Bibliothèque Utile_,
published by Alcan. But perhaps the best evidence on this subject is in
the popular lending libraries instituted by the Government. The books
for these libraries are specially examined by a commission appointed
for the purpose, which excludes indecent publications. There are also
the _bibliothèques scolaires_ or lending libraries in the schools,
and regimental libraries in the barracks, besides the older town
libraries, often extensive and valuable, which are open to all. With
regard to the providing of literature in a form suitable for readers
of limited education, I may add that this class of literature, simple
in expression, yet neither deficient in intelligence nor behind the
age in knowledge, scarcely existed in France twenty-five years ago,
but is now produced in constantly increasing quantity. Even in former
times, however, when facilities were so few, men of the humbler classes
frequently rose in the world, and they could not have done that without
self-education, nor without better reading than the “obscenity” of the
_Saturday Review_. I have known several such Frenchmen, and have always
found their minds preoccupied with creditable pursuits, generally of a
scientific character.[51]

[Sidenote: Matthew Arnold.]

[Sidenote: The Great Goddess Lubricity.]

The wild statements of anonymous and irresponsible writers are hardly
deserving of serious attention, but I have always deeply regretted that
several English writers of note, and especially Matthew Arnold, should
have allowed their patriotism to express itself in similar accusations.
In 1885 Arnold wrote an article on America for the _Nineteenth
Century_, and went out of his way to say that “the French” are “at
present vowed to the worship of the great goddess Lubricity.”

[Sidenote: English Satisfaction in French Immorality.]

[Sidenote: Examples.]

This is one of those statements about France which obtain ready
currency in England, because they gratify the patriotic desire to feel
better than the neighbours across the water. The ordinary Englishman,
learning on the authority of a distinguished writer that the French are
vowed to the worship of such a goddess, can think to himself, “Well, we
have our faults, perhaps we worship money too much, but at any rate we
do not bow down to such a filthy idol as that,” and he has a sense of
inward satisfaction. I, for my part, have never understood how anybody
can derive satisfaction from anything but well-tested truth, and when I
hear a comprehensive statement of this kind, my way is always to think
of living examples known to me. I invite the reader to follow me, from
a settled conviction that my method is a good one.

[Sidenote: Two Extreme Cases of Vicious Lives.]

Have I ever known any Frenchman of whom it could be fairly said that he
was vowed to the worship of the great goddess Lubricity? Yes, I have
known one absolutely given over to that vice. His life had been that
of a Sultan entirely absorbed in the pleasures of the harem; he was
rich, idle, “noble,” with no pursuits but that, and nature paid him
with a terrible penalty. In his premature old age he would cynically
boast of the exploits of that which, for his bestial nature, had been
a sort of manhood. I have known a similar case in England, a man of
some rank, whose whole mind centred itself on that one pleasure, till
at length it led him to conduct of such a character as to involve utter
social ruin. Applied to these men Mr. Arnold’s expression would be
absolutely just.

[Sidenote: Rarity of the Sexual Monomania.]

[Sidenote: Strictness of French Provincial Opinion.]

[Sidenote: Social Penalties.]

[Sidenote: Kept Mistresses in Provincial England and France.]

But this state of mind, which amounts to a species of insanity or
monomania, is rare. Men have other interests and pursuits. Those of
the middle class have business, those of the upper have field sports,
horses, yachting, travelling. A few have special studies, in France
generally archæology, natural history, music, or painting. Are they
all strictly virtuous in France? No. Are they all strictly virtuous in
England? No. It is often suspected that when a young Englishman goes to
town he yields to certain temptations, and when a provincial Frenchman
_va à Paris pour s’amuser_, his friends imagine very frequently that he
is tired of the strict surveillance of public opinion in the country.
That rural public opinion is almost as strict in France as in England.
A rich lady near a provincial town that I know committed adultery many
years ago, and has been living in forced retirement ever since. Another
rich lady in another provincial town, very beautiful, very charming,
had a romantic adventure, and she, too, has been left alone in her
great house. A wealthy young man brought a mistress down from Paris;
she had not been out three times in her little pony carriage before it
became a public scandal. In a similar neighbourhood in England it was
perfectly well known that some of the rich young men had mistresses at
a distance, but they could not bring them near to their own homes for
fear of the same scandal. I remember asking a French gentleman if he
received a clever young man who had rendered services to his political
party. “No,” he said, “he is immoral, and I have a fixed rule never to
receive immoral men.”

[Sidenote: Zola’s Picture of Rural Life.]

[Sidenote: Lancashire and Yorkshire. Saône-et-Loire.]

[Sidenote: A Comparison.]

Whilst writing this chapter I have got a letter from a well-known
Englishman who asks me if Zola’s picture of rustic morals in _La Terre_
is true. I have never read any of Zola’s novels, preferring the study
of life in nature, but I am told that the book is disgusting. In that
case it cannot be true as a general representation of nature. I have
lived in the country in Lancashire and Yorkshire, and in the French
department of Saône-et-Loire, and so far as my observation has extended
I should say that rustic morals are very nearly on the same level in
both places. Cases of adultery are rare in both though not unknown.
Illegitimate births occur occasionally in both. Our servants have
conducted themselves as well in France as in England, and as well in
England as in France. There have been a very few mishaps. It is not
uncommon in the north of England for a child to be born too soon after
marriage, and the same thing occurs in Saône-et-Loire. The daughters of
the better class of farmers are, so far as I know, a most respectable
class both in England and France. Some of the best quiet manners I have
met with have been in that class--modest and simple manners, without
any pretension, but with dignity and self-respect.

[Sidenote: Parallel Examples amongst Country Gentlefolks.]

For the country gentlefolks here are parallel examples. I had a
neighbour in England who lived quietly in the country, had certain
rather refined tastes, and was respected by every one. I have a
neighbour in France who lives quietly in the country, has precisely the
same tastes as the Englishman, and lives with his family exactly in
the same way, except, perhaps, that he has _déjeuner_ at eleven when
the Englishman had luncheon at one. The Frenchman and his wife are
also respected by everybody, and I have not the faintest reason for
supposing that they do not deserve it. Yet I am asked to believe that
they are intensely vicious, and if I inquire for proofs I am referred
to novels written by some Parisian who has never seen my neighbours.

[Sidenote: Unmarried Girls.]

A large class, both in France and England, whose general good conduct
is doubted by nobody who knows the countries, is that of unmarried
girls in the middle and upper classes. Here a fall is so rare as to be
practically unknown. The English girl is less retiring than the French
_jeune fille_, and she knows more, but she is equally safe. It is
something that the two civilisations should have produced at least one
class that is so very nearly immaculate.

[Sidenote: The French Clergy.]

[Sidenote: The Anglican Clergy.]

There are a few flagrant cases of immorality every year amongst the
French clergy; but although surrounded by enemies eager to publish
every fault, and powerless now to impose or procure silence, they
keep, on the whole, a reputation equal to that of the Catholic clergy
anywhere. Even their enemies believe them to be far more moral than the
Italian priesthood, for example. The clergy in England have an equally
good reputation, in spite of occasional scandals, and there is no
reason for supposing it to be undeserved; but they have the safeguard
of marriage.

[Sidenote: Soldiers and Sailors.]

[Sidenote: English Medical Opinion.]

[Sidenote: French Sanitary Legislation.]

With the armies the case is different. Soldiers and sailors enjoy
a reputation for bravery, but not for sexual morality in either
country. There is terribly strong medical evidence on this subject
which I cannot go into, _real_ evidence, better than the inventions of
novelists. English medical opinions are of the gravest possible import,
as they point to a danger to the military strength of the country in
comparison with which the Channel tunnel would be a trifle; but it
may be argued, as regards the health of the nation generally, that
the English army is but a part of the nation, whereas the French army
represents the nation itself. Another difficulty in the comparison
arises from the fact that, although the French may be quite as immoral
as the English, their sanitary legislation is more rigorously prudent,
so that the consequent physical evils are much diminished. This subject
is almost forbidden me in a book intended for general reading; but
if any one cares to form a just opinion, I recommend him to study
authentic statistics of the health of armies.

[Sidenote: Student Life in the Two Nations.]

[Sidenote: Student Life in Capital Cities.]

[Sidenote: Struggling Students in Paris.]

[Sidenote: Two Cases of French Students.]

[Sidenote: Poor Students in Paris.]

[Sidenote: Efforts of poor Students for their own Support.]

English student life is, on the whole, quieter and more moral than
French. France has plenty of public schools in the country, or at least
in country towns, where the boys are kept under the most rigorous
restraint; but she has no country universities, she has no Oxford and
Cambridge, where young men live under a sort of gentle restraint,
and in places of comparatively small size, where the army of vice
is not in full force, but represented only by a detachment. French
student life is chiefly concentrated in Paris, and resembles that of
medical students and art students in London, which may, of course,
be perfectly moral if they choose to make it so, but which, in the
midst of innumerable facilities and temptations, depends entirely
upon themselves. Student life in Edinburgh has the same liberty
as in Paris, but is probably more moral on account of the greater
seriousness of the Scottish character, and the intellectual ambition
of Scottish youth. Both in England and France the errors of young men
are very lightly passed over and excused; but in France they are more
_expected_, more taken as a matter of course, and there is more of a
settled tradition of immorality amongst French students than amongst
English. Still, there is nothing in the French system to prevent a
young man from living like a good Scotchman if he likes. Foreigners
know nothing about the struggling student who is at Paris for his work
and has neither time nor money for much else. The reader is probably
aware that amongst Scottish students there are striking examples of
courage and self-denial, but he is not likely to know that Paris
abounds with instances that, for a richer country, are precisely of
the same kind. I will mention two cases, those of young men whom I
know personally and regard with all the respect which they deserve.
One of them, in consequence of a family misfortune, was dependent upon
his mother’s labour, and by hard work and close economy she was able
to support him when at school. She could not undertake the expense of
his student life at Paris, but she had a relation there who offered
two great helps, a bed and one meal every day. This was absolutely
all the young man had to count upon; the rest had to be won by his
own labour. He contrived--I have not space to tell how--to earn all
the money necessary for everything else, and became an army surgeon,
after which, by further hard work, he gained the medical _agrégation_
(a sort of fellowship won by a severe medical examination). I know
from his companions that during his student days he carefully kept
aloof from idle and dissipated society. The other case is that of a
young man whose mother, a widow, could do nothing for him. His earlier
education was paid for by the bounty of a rich lady, but as soon as he
could earn money by teaching he did so, and went on vigorously with
his studies at the same time. He even managed to keep his mother by
his labour without hindering his own advancement. He won a fellowship,
and is now occupying the chair of a professor of history--I do not
mean in a school, but as a _professeur de faculté_. He is one of the
most cultivated men I ever knew, and probably one of the happiest.
Such a career as his is not the usual consequence of a frivolous and
dissipated youth. I was talking, an hour before writing this page, with
a Frenchman whose own life has been a remarkable example of labour and
self-denial, and he told me that there are at this moment hundreds of
students in Paris who are supporting themselves, at least in part, by
means of lessons and humble literary work, in order that they may enter
the professions.

[Sidenote: French School Life.]

[Sidenote: Morality of Boys in French Schools.]

[Sidenote: Morality in English Schools.]

One or two indications have reached me which seem to imply that in
England there exists a belief that French school life is immoral.
This may be founded on the mutual amenities of the clerical and lay
parties in France, which profess a complete disbelief in each other’s
morality, and would equally accuse each other of murder, if that were
as difficult to test. Nobody knows much about the morality of boys,
but I may observe that the government of French schools, both lay and
clerical, is too strict for any immorality that can be detected to
make way there. The very few instances of it in school life that have
come to my knowledge have been followed by instant expulsion. I have
heard something about school immorality in England, especially in one
great public school, coupled with an expression of the desire that the
rigorous French system could be established there, not in all things,
but for this one safeguard.

[Sidenote: Domestic Servants in Paris.]

[Sidenote: The Parisian System of Lodging.]

With regard to the class of domestic servants, I am told that in
Paris the morality of servants is generally much lower than in the
country; but never having kept house in Paris I know nothing about
it, except by hearsay. Statistics show a remarkably large proportion
of illegitimate births for the capital; this, however, is rather
favourable in a certain sense, I mean in the sense of natural morality,
as the worst women are sterile. An ecclesiastic of high rank, who has
had exceptional opportunities for studying the moral aspects of Paris,
told me that he attributed the greater laxity there in the class of
domestics to the system of lodging, by which the servants are often
separated from the family life of the household, and sent to sleep up
in the attics, where they are in a world of their own.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Unsatisfactory Nature of the Subject.]

[Sidenote: Two Codes of Morality.]

[Sidenote: Permanent Conflict between Man’s Animal Nature and his
civilised Condition.]

[Sidenote: Increase of the Difficulty.]

[Sidenote: The Prudent Classes avoid Marriage.]

[Sidenote: The Imprudent.]

[Sidenote: Effects of Crowding.]

[Sidenote: Gentility.]

[Sidenote: Limitation of Offspring.]

[Sidenote: The great Temptation of Women.]

[Sidenote: Connection between Morality and plain Living.]

[Sidenote: Luxurious Livers respected.]

Here I leave this subject, the most difficult to treat in the volume,
and the most unsatisfactory in many ways. It is unsatisfactory because
the facts are usually concealed, and that leaves room for uncharitable
minds to assume a concealed immorality in others, as, for example,
when it is assumed, without any proof, that respectable French people
are immoral. It is unsatisfactory, because there are two codes of
morality, a severe one that is expressed, and a laxer one that is
understood and acted upon. It is unsatisfactory, because language
itself is so employed as to make the same actions pure or impure
as they are or are not admitted by the customs of society. But the
subject is most unsatisfactory because there is a permanent conflict
between the animal nature of man and the situation in which a safe
and peaceful civilisation places him. He is gifted with reproductive
powers well adapted to fill up the ranks of primitive societies as
they were continually decimated by disease, by famine, and by violent
death; but in a state of civilisation in which diseased people live on,
in which famine is all but unknown, and wars continually postponed,
the reproductive force is so much in excess of the need for it that
it bursts forth in tremendous moral evils. Nor is the difficulty
lessening; it is, on the contrary, increasing year by year. The prudent
classes avoid marriage more and more, thus exposing young men to the
snare of the kept mistress or the peril of promiscuous concubinage.
The imprudent classes marry with perfect recklessness, and even their
marriages themselves are indirectly favourable to immorality, because
they supply recruits for the army of vice by bringing up children
in conditions that make decency impossible. The crowding of people
together in industrial centres and the craving for town excitements all
tend towards the one greatest and most natural of all excitements; the
vast increase of military life tends to it also in other ways. But of
all the influences directly or indirectly tending towards immorality
_Gentility_ is the most subtle and deadly in its operation. Genteel
young men dare not marry on small incomes because poverty will take
the polish off their style of living; genteel young ladies cannot marry
unless they are assured of incomes large enough to dress fashionably
and have all the housework done by servants. In France, and not in
France only, but much more in France than in England, the number of
offspring is limited that the family may maintain a genteel position in
life and not fall down into the working classes. In the poorer classes
themselves the desire for a genteel appearance is the great temptation
of women. I remember a dangerously beautiful young Frenchwoman
married to a professional man who earned a wretchedly small income,
yet she dressed most expensively, and had but one means of paying
her milliner’s bills. She was the representative of a class. When
we look these truths and their consequences in the face, we come to
understand the close connection that there is between natural morality
and simplicity of life. It is of no use to preach morality to people
so long as we show by our language, by our manners, by every kind of
expression or implication, that we despise them for living plainly and
respect them for living luxuriously. By the help of the tailor, the
cook, and the carriage-builder I can be a “gentleman” in England, and
a “_monsieur comme il faut_” in France; by the help of Epictetus I can
live simply and be a common man whom the luxurious man will patronise.

[Sidenote: The English Idea]

[Sidenote: Utility of English Moral Pride.]

This chapter has been occupied more with actions than with ideals, but
it would not be complete without some reference to ideals. The English
idea takes the form of moral pride, of belief in one’s own moral
superiority. This is offensive to other nations because it expresses
itself unpleasantly, not in words only but in manners. But however
offensive it may be to Frenchmen (and it irritates them to the supreme
degree), it is most valuable to the English themselves as a strength
and a support. The intense soldierly pride of the military caste in
Prussia was offensive, but it enabled the army to endure the discipline
that led to all success. No amount of divorce-court evidence, no amount
of medical evidence, no amount of ocular evidence, even in the public
streets, will ever convince the English that they are not moral, and
therefore their moral standard is maintained, at least ideally. It is
well for them to have this opinion about themselves so long as they
make the feeblest effort to justify it. To have national pride on the
side of morality is to give morality a mighty ally.

[Sidenote: Want of moral Pride in France.]

[Sidenote: Foreigners in Paris.]

[Sidenote: The Goddess of French Maidenhood.]

[Sidenote: The Virgin Mary and _La Sainte Vierge_.]

[Sidenote: _La Sainte Vierge_ an Ideal.]

[Sidenote: The Queen of Heaven.]

The French, unfortunately for them, have never associated national
pride with morality. They have associated it with generosity, with
courage, and with the externals of civilisation, but never with sexual
purity. The French never think that they are purer than other people,
they imagine that the weakness of humanity is the same everywhere, and
as Paris is the pleasure city of Europe they have ample opportunities
for observing how foreigners conduct themselves there, which only
confirms them in their opinion. Still, it cannot be truly said that
the entire French nation is without an ideal, even in this matter. The
goddess of French maidenhood is not the goddess of Lubricity, but her
precise opposite, the Holy Virgin. It has been written, with slight
exaggeration, that every French girl is called Marie; it is not an
exaggeration to say that every French girl brought up in the Catholic
religion is taught to look to the Holy Virgin as her ideal. It may
be answered that the Virgin Mary is not unknown in England either;
certainly the Virgin Mary is known there, but _La Sainte Vierge_ is
not. The Virgin Mary is partly ideal, but there is much everyday
reality about her, and Protestantism insists upon that reality which
French Catholicism conceals. The Virgin Mary is also an ordinary
mother; she had a family by Joseph, the carpenter. In _La Sainte
Vierge_ there is nothing to diminish the purity of the ideal; her
marriage with Joseph was merely nominal, and Joseph himself was a great
saint above the common lot of humanity. _La Sainte Vierge_ had but one
child, and that one by the mysterious operation of the Holy Spirit. The
Virgin Mary is in heaven, _La Sainte Vierge_ reigns for ever as the
crowned Queen of Heaven and the royal patroness and special protectress
of France. Her statue is on a hundred hills, it looks down benignantly
from a thousand towers, she herself, the mystical Tower of Ivory, has
preserved many a French city from invasion. Every French girl, at her
_première communion_, is robed in white from head to foot in emulation
of her purity; during _her_ month, _le mois de Marie_, her hundred
thousand altars are covered with flowers in memory of her sweetness,
and all the terms of love and praise are exhausted in her litanies.

[Sidenote: Want of a Masculine moral Ideal.]

There is no ideal for the male sex comparable to this. We have read of
Sir Galahad, who could say--

  “I never felt the kiss of love,
    Nor maiden’s hand in mine.”

[Sidenote: Sir Galahad.]

[Sidenote: England the more moral Country.]

[Sidenote: Especially in Principle and Feeling.]

[Sidenote: The Story of Joseph.]

But who is Sir Galahad? In England only a poetical creation, in France
unheard of and unknown. Were he known he would encounter a danger that
even the bravest knight might dread. It might be decided, in France,
that he was ridiculous. I have been represented as holding the opinion
that France and England are exactly on the same level in morals; but
that is not my view. Justice consists in giving everybody his due, it
does not consist in believing that nations are exactly alike. I have
no doubt that England is the more moral country of the two, even in
practice, and much more in principle and feeling. The great difference
(and it is most profound) is that the English are still capable of
stern and austere feeling about these matters, which they have derived
from Puritan ancestors; whereas the French, even when practically
chaste in their own lives, regard adultery, in the male sex at least,
with a sort of amusement not always unmingled with admiration for the
address and audacity of the sinner. A witty word may save him. I knew
a marble-cutter who was accused of some illicit passion, and who saved
himself by the reply, “_Pour être marbrier, on n’est pas de marbre_.”
A certain incident in the life of a former prime minister of Egypt may
be taken as a test of the feeling of the two countries. In England
he is looked upon with serious respect as an example of chastity in
youth, and wisdom in maturity; but in France all the ability of his
administration cannot efface the recollection of his “_niaiserie_” in
the well-known interview with “Madame Putiphar,” and shamefaced youths
are called after him to this day.



[Sidenote: Moderate Drinking in France.]

The French are supposed to be a much more temperate nation than the
English, and, in fact, there used to be few drunkards in France. That
country has, however, a peculiar characteristic as to drinking. It is
a country where moderate drinking is itself immoderate. The reader
understands what this contradictory statement means.

[Sidenote: The Education of the Body.]

[Sidenote: Artful Drinking.]

[Sidenote: Peasant and Gentleman.]

Men are called moderate drinkers so long as they do not show any
outward sign of being “the worse for liquor.” But there is an education
of the body by which it may be made to absorb great quantities of
alcoholic stimulants without exhibiting anything in the nature of
drunkenness. In France it is considered shameful and disgusting to be
drunk; but no blame is attached to the utmost indulgence in drinking
so long as it keeps on the safe side. This leads to that artful kind
of drinking which is well known to all French physicians, and which
produces, in the long run, that peculiar state of body which they call
“_l’alcoolisme des gens du monde_.” A peasant may get perfectly drunk
once a month and yet be a very small consumer of alcohol; a gentleman,
without ever being even tipsy, may consume five times as much alcohol
as the peasant.

[Sidenote: Possible Allowance of a comfortable Frenchman.]

The following account of what a comfortable Frenchman _may_ consume
in the twenty-four hours is founded on actual observation, but is
not intended to represent temperate habits in France, which will be
dealt with later. This first description may stand for the habits of a
drinker who lives in a state of constant stimulation only.

[Sidenote: The Morning Drink.]

[Sidenote: _Un apéritif._]

[Sidenote: Déjeuner.]

[Sidenote: Café.]

[Sidenote: Absinthe.]

[Sidenote: Bitters.]

[Sidenote: Dinner.]

[Sidenote: Ale.]

[Sidenote: _Un Verre d’eau._]

On rising in the morning he will probably take either brandy, or
sherry, or white French wine. The working men now prefer brandy.
In former times white wine was more drunk, especially in the wine
districts. If French wine is preferred the moderate quantity will
be half a bottle, but it is easy to go beyond, and a lover of wine
will finish his bottle without stopping half-way. He will eat a crust
of bread with it, and perhaps a morsel of Gruyère cheese. There
is no pleasanter early breakfast; it is much pleasanter than the
sickening English combination of sweet coffee and fat ham; the wine is
exhilarating, and by its help the day opens cheerfully; its pleasures
seem attractive and its duties light. Unfortunately, the white wine
habit is known to tell on the nervous system in course of time.
Before _déjeuner_ the moderate drinker will go to a café and take his
_apéritif_, usually a vermouth, and perhaps something else. Vermouth
is simply white wine in which aromatic herbs have been infused. At
_déjeuner_ he will drink a bottle of red wine. Immediately after he
returns to the café and orders coffee, which is invariably accompanied
by brandy, and of that he takes a large dram. If inclined to rest some
time in the establishment he will order a little glass of _liqueur_,
and if he meets with friends they may perhaps treat each other to
different kinds of _liqueurs_ for the sake of good-fellowship and
variety. At five o’clock he returns to the café for his absinthe. In
ordinary times he will be content with one absinthe, when inclined to
exceed he will take two, or possibly even three, or a mint in the place
of the third. Just before dinner he may think it necessary to “open his
appetite” with an _apéritif_, say bitters and curaçao. At dinner he
drinks a bottle of common wine, and possibly some good wine at dessert
if he dines with friends. After dinner come liqueurs, and then he
drinks ale in a café all the evening whilst he smokes. This lasts till
eleven o’clock, when he goes to bed. He has never shown the slightest
sign of tipsiness all day, and is ready to go through the same course
on the morrow. Meanwhile, in case he should feel thirsty, he has a
“_verre d’eau_” in his bedroom, which means a very pretty little glass
tray with a glass, a small sugar-basin, a decanter of water, and a
small decanter of pure cognac.

The state of this Frenchman is one of incessant alcoholic stimulation.
If he takes hard exercise he may bear it for many years, if not, he
will feel the effects of it, and the physician will privately note his
case as one of _alcoolisme des gens du monde_.

[Sidenote: Habit of drinking French Wine.]

[Sidenote: Spirits.]

[Sidenote: German Wine-drinking.]

Now, with regard to the common people in France, the old habit of
drinking large quantities of wine in the wine districts seems to have
done wonderfully little harm. As the subject interests me I have asked
for the opinion of several physicians, and they all say that the
drinking of _pure_ French wine is harmless if accompanied by exercise.
Without exercise it may establish gout. The physicians dread the
effects of spirits even in small quantities; they look upon wine as a
kind of safeguard, and on spirits as a terrible danger. The reader may
remember a passage in Lewes’s _Life of Goethe_, where the biographer
says that the illustrious German “was fond of wine, and drank daily
his two or three bottles. The amount he drank never did more than
exhilarate him; never made him unfit for work or for society. Over his
wine he sat some hours.” Lewes appended to this passage a quotation
from Liebig in which he says that amongst the Rhinelanders “a jolly
companion drinks his seven bottles every day, and with it grows as old
as Methuselah, is seldom drunk, and has at most the Bardolph mark of a
red nose.”

[Sidenote: Wine a useless Expense.]

[Sidenote: Advantage of very cheap Wine.]

[Sidenote: Consequence of dearness in Wine.]

[Sidenote: Dangerous Drunkenness.]

Wine has never been much of an evil in France except as a cause of
useless expense. A Frenchman’s wine bill is usually out of proportion
to his income, especially in the present day, when common wine is
no longer cheap enough to make the quantity consumed a matter of
indifference, nor yet dear enough to impose the other and still more
effectual economy of abstinence, except in the poorest classes. For
my part, I am convinced that to grow sound light wine, as the French
once did at marvellously cheap rates (a penny a bottle or even less
in years of great abundance), is an immense blessing to a community,
because it is the most effectual rival of strong spirits.[52] Sound
light wine exhilarates, but it does not brutalise; brandy, acting on
excitable brains, drives many literally mad. The effect of dear wine
in France has not been favourable to temperance, but the contrary, by
increasing the consumption of poisonous spirituous liquors. That has
now reached such a pitch in the working classes that drunkenness of the
most dangerous kind--the kind unknown in wine countries--is established
amongst them as it is in the lower orders of London or Glasgow. In
fact, the worst form of Scotch dram-drinking is common in the great
French cities.

[Sidenote: Adulteration.]

If a French workman buys wine he must buy it at a low price, and in
Paris, where the octroi duties are so high, it is impossible that cheap
wine can be unadulterated. I will not presume to say what the “wine” is
made of, I do not pretend to know, but at present prices it cannot be
the juice of the grape.

[Sidenote: How the Cafés are maintained.]

[Sidenote: Differences in drinking Habits.]

Now, let us pass to the pleasanter subject of French temperance. It
is very commonly believed in England that every Frenchman must have
his café to go to and his theatre. As a matter of fact provincial
French people go very little to the theatre, and the cafés, though
flourishing, are maintained by a remarkably small number of _habitués_.
Many Frenchmen never go to a café at all, unless perhaps occasionally
when travelling. Amongst the daily visitors there is an immense
difference in drinking habits. I remember a middle-aged gentleman who
confined himself to one tiny glass (like a thimble) of pure cognac per
day, an allowance that he never exceeded. Another visits the café every
day regularly at six in the afternoon and takes his absinthe, a third
drinks only ale, a fourth confines himself to coffee with the _petit

[Sidenote: The half-bottle Persuasion.]

[Sidenote: Peasants like pure Wine.]

With regard to the consumption of wine, there are great numbers of
half-bottle drinkers at each meal. The women generally belong to this
sect, and half a bottle of light wine, taken whilst eating, is but a
gentle stimulus, especially if mixed with water. The use of water with
wine varies very much. I never in my life saw a French peasant mix his
wine with water; there may be peasants who do it, but I have never met
with one. The peasant will drink water abundantly by itself, but when
he gets wine he seems to think that to water it would be a sin against
the rites of Bacchus. When there is wine on a peasant’s table, the
water-bottle is not to be seen.

[Sidenote: Wine and Water.]

On the contrary, in the middle and upper classes, it is the general
custom to mix water with the _vin ordinaire_ whilst people are eating,
but the finer wines are never watered. Then you have all degrees of
watering. You have the gentleman who puts three drops of water in
his wine in deference to custom, though it is a mere form; you have
the conscientious man who mixes the two liquids carefully in equal
quantities; and you have the drinker of _eau rougie_, who would
probably be a water-drinker, like an English teetotaller, if he had not
before his eyes the dread of the French proverb “_Les buveurs d’eau
sont méchants_.”

[Sidenote: “Reddened Water.”]

[Sidenote: Jean le Houx.]

I remember, however, one of those drinkers of “reddened water,” who
used to maintain that a few drops of wine almost infinitely diluted
gave the taste of the grape-juice far more delicately and exquisitely
than the unalloyed grape-juice itself. The reader may try the
experiment, if he likes. Let him take a glass of water, and just redden
it with claret. If he fails to appreciate the exquisite taste of the
beverage, it will, at least, inflict no injury on his constitution.
Unless, indeed, as the old bacchanalians affirmed, water brings on the
dropsy; for what saith the good Maistre Jean Le Houx, the gentle singer
who immortalised the _Vau de Vire_?

  “_On m’a deffendu l’eau, au moins en beuuerie
  De peur que je ne tombe en une hydropisie
            Je me perds si j’en boy
  En l’eau n’y a saueur. Prendray je pour breuuage
  Ce qui n’a poinct de goust? Mon voisin qui est sage
            Ne le faict, que je croy._”

[Sidenote: French total Abstainers between Meals.]

In France there is a large class of total abstainers _between
meals_. These observe rigorously the rule of never drinking except
at meal-times. They have a set phrase by which they are known, their
shibboleth. This phrase is “_Je ne bois jamais rien entre mes repas_.”
They are not teetotallers, as they drink at _déjeuner_ and dinner,
but between these periods they observe a strict abstinence, like the
Mahometans in the Ramadan fast between the rising and the setting of
the sun. They pretend that they are never thirsty, but I do not believe
them; it is merely the pride of their sect.

[Sidenote: French Gormandism.]

[Sidenote: The Solace of dull Lives.]

[Sidenote: France the Land of good Living.]

[Sidenote: Importance of the _menu_.]

English writers are often on the look-out for subjects of accusation
against the French (this attention is reciprocal), and they generally
hit upon immorality. May I give them a hint that may be of use, at
least in affording the refreshment of change? Why do they not accuse
the French of gormandism? There are a hundred proofs of that vice for
one of the other. It is visible everywhere in France, and in some
parts of the country it predominates over all other pleasures of
life. Most well-to-do French people who live in the rural districts
and are excessively dull find a solace and an interest twice a day
in the prolonged enjoyments of the table. There is no country in the
world where so much thought and care, and so much intelligence, are
devoted to feeding as in France, and the reward is that the French
govern the world of good eating, and their language is the language
not of diplomacy only but of that far more important matter the
_menu_. They will talk seriously for an indefinite length of time
about the materials of dinners and their preparation. When the English
newspapers give an account of a royal feast, they do not tell you what
the distinguished personages had to eat, but French reporters give the
_menu_ in detail. Some French newspapers present their subscribers with
a _menu_ for every day in the year, others announce what will be the
dinner at a great hotel.

[Sidenote: _Gourmand_ and _Gourmet_.]

[Sidenote: The _Glouton_.]

[Sidenote: The _Goulu_.]

[Sidenote: The _Goinfre_.]

The love of good cheer in France has all the characters of vulgarity
and refinement. In former times _gourmand_ meant a judge of eating, and
_gourmet_ a judge of wine. We find those interpretations still in the
dictionaries, even in Littré and Lafaye, but custom has given the words
a new significance. _Gourmet_ is now universally understood to refer
to eating and not to drinking. _Gourmand_ has acquired a lower sense
between _gourmet_ and _glouton_. The _gourmand_ of the present day is
a passionate lover of good eating, who gives it inordinate attention,
and usually eats more than is good for him. The _glouton_ is the quite
unintelligent animal feeder who stuffs himself like a pig; and there
is a still worse word, the _goulu_, which means the voracious man who
throws eatables down his throat. There is also _goinfre_, the man who
is very disagreeable to other people in his eating, which he does to
excess and dirtily.

[Sidenote: Temperance of the true _Gourmet_.]

[Sidenote: Thackeray a _Gourmet_.]

The _gourmet_, on the contrary, is a product of high civilisation. He
enjoys with discrimination, and is above the vulgarity of estimating
the quality of dishes by their elaboration or their costliness. He
values the commonest things, if they are good of their own kind; he
will praise well-baked bread or pure water. He is entirely on the side
of temperance. A French _gourmet_ once said to me, “I am excessively
fond of oysters, but never exceed one dozen, being convinced that after
the first dozen the palate has become incapable of fully appreciating
the flavour.” A real _gourmet_ preserves his palate in the healthiest
and most natural condition. He would not cover an oyster with pepper,
nor even squeeze a lemon over it. Plain things are often preferred by
a true _gourmet_ to richer things. The uninitiated drink wine and eat
cakes at the same time. A _gourmet_ would not do that unless the wine
were unworthy of his attention; with a wine of any quality he would
eat a crust of bread. A _gourmet_ prefers the simplest meal, such as a
fried mutton chop, if it is really well cooked, to an elaborate banquet
where the cookery is less than excellent. In Thackeray’s imitation of
Horace (_Persicos Odi_) he expresses contempt for “Frenchified fuss”
in the first stanza, but in the second he exactly hits the taste of a
French _gourmet_ in praising the good qualities of a simple dish--

  “But a plain leg of mutton, my Lucy,
    I pr’ythee get ready at three:
  Have it smoking, and tender, and juicy,
    And what better meat can there be?”

[Sidenote: A Parisian _Gourmet_.]

I knew a Parisian who was a _gourmet_ in Thackeray’s manner, and his
way of living was to order one dish of meat, one of vegetables, and a
little dessert, at an excellent and expensive _restaurant à la carte_.
He did not desire the more abundant feeding at the _restaurants à prix
fixe_ and the _tables d’hôte_. He drank very moderately also; in a
word, he lived as a gentleman ought to live, without excess, yet with
perfect appreciation.

[Sidenote: The _Gourmet_ keeps up Prices.]

The influence of the French _gourmet_ on the price of eatables is
remarkable. The dealers know that extravagant prices will be given for
anything that is exceptionally good. The result is that the Parisian
connoisseur in good living feeds very expensively, and his tendency is
to maintain a high standard of costliness.

[Sidenote: France also a Country of Plain Living.]

The accusation against the French that they are a nation of
gormandisers is to be understood with the reserves that I have now
indicated, but I must add, in justice, that France is a country of
plain living as well as of rich and elaborate living. The peasants, a
very numerous class, live with extreme sobriety and simplicity; the
soldiers, also a numerous class, live just sufficiently and no more;
the priests live simply as a rule, though they are said to enjoy a good
dinner when invited to a château, the only pleasure they have. Then you
find large classes in which simple living is a matter of necessity,
such as the members of religious houses and young people in educational

[Sidenote: Good Living a Restraint on Population.]

Nevertheless, I believe it is true that the love of good living in
the middle and upper classes amounts to a serious evil, and actually
operates as a restraint on population since it would be as cheap to
feed a large family in a very plain way as to feed a small one on
luxuries. My opinion is that luxury in food and dress are the two great
parents of evil in France.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: England a Country of Extremes.]

[Sidenote: Ardent Spirits in England.]

[Sidenote: Abstinence and Moderation.]

[Sidenote: English and French Moderation compared.]

In drinking, England is a country of extremes. It has the misfortune
of not being a wine-producing country, with the usual consequence that
the consumption of ardent spirits is very great, and drunkenness of
the most dangerous and most brutal kind very common. On the other hand,
this horror has produced a reaction going as far in the other extreme,
so that there are far more water-drinkers in England than in France.
What is called “moderation” is also much more moderate in England. I
lunch with an Englishman in London, and observe that he takes perhaps
a single glass of claret and nothing after it; a Frenchman equally
moderate would take half a bottle, with coffee and cognac afterwards.
The same Englishman will never drink in a public-house from January to
December; the Frenchman sees no harm in visiting his café every day.

[Sidenote: Female Drinking in the two Countries.]

Vulgar French people delight in accusing English ladies of dipsomania.
Some of them drink, I have known several instances, and I have known
instances of the same infirmity in France, but I am quite convinced
that Englishwomen in the middle and upper classes are usually more
abstemious than French. Comparing people equally sober, equally removed
from all suspicion of drunkenness, a bottle of claret would last the
English lady a week and the French lady a day. It is true that the
English lady might take a glass of port after dinner, but that answers
to the Frenchwoman’s occasional _liqueur_.

[Sidenote: The Present and the Past.]

[Sidenote: A French Traveller in England.]

[Sidenote: His Inventions.]

I am writing of the present, that is, of the ninth decade of the
nineteenth century, when excessive drinking has come to be considered
vulgar in England. French accusers delight in taking the worst examples
of the past and in representing them as the average of the present. I
was reading lately a French book of travels in England, including an
account of a visit to a large country house. There are certain signs
by which an English critic knows at once whether narratives of this
kind are genuine or fictitious. A Frenchman who invents anything about
England, and pretends that he is recounting a real experience, is sure
to invent clumsily. In the present instance, I know by two pieces of
evidence that the writer has been drawing upon his imagination. He
makes the men in the smoking-room, after dinner, talk about the absent
ladies in a style absolutely incompatible with English breeding, and
he describes these gentlemen as having all got nearly or completely
drunk before they were helped to bed by the domestics. This Frenchman
has read that such things happened under the Georges, and as he is
not describing a real experience he makes our contemporaries drunk to
gratify the malevolence of French readers.

[Sidenote: Present Condition of England.]

England is now a country of very temperate, very intemperate, and
very abstemious people. If a man belongs to the refined classes he
will probably take wine in moderation, perhaps in great moderation;
if he belongs to the humbler classes he may be a besotted drunkard, a
sober workman who appreciates a glass of beer, or an apostle of total
abstinence with a blue ribbon in his button-hole. The country spends
too much in drink, but its expenditure is gradually diminishing, and
the burden of it falls very unequally on the citizens. Looking to the
future, which is more interesting than the past, I may add that it is
hopeful for England, which is improving, and discouraging for France,
which is going from bad to worse.

[Sidenote: Eating in England.]

[Sidenote: Peculiar Form of English Extravagance.]

[Sidenote: Waste in the Poorer Classes.]

[Sidenote: Utility of Soups in France.]

[Sidenote: Both Countries Extravagant, but in Different Ways.]

As to eating, the English are rarely either _gourmands_ or _gourmets_,
but they have a rooted belief in the value of an abundant flesh diet,
which cannot be good for health unless accompanied by hard exercise.
Although the English are not extravagant like the French from a love
of expensive delicacies, they are extravagant in the display of great
abundance. Immense pieces of the finest meat in the world appear on
English tables, and then disappear to be replaced by others equally
imposing. People tell you of the quantities eaten by their servants
with a smile of indulgence. In the poorer classes there is waste of
another kind from simple ignorance and want of culinary economy and
art. In a French household the smallest fragments make a little dish,
and nothing is lost; in England this kind of economy is practised least
where it would be most required. In the French middle and lower classes
the daily use of soups is an economy, as the soup is the final save-all
of the little establishment, and it presents the materials in the most
nourishing and digestible form. As to extravagance, the well-to-do
French and English may be equally extravagant, but in different ways,
and as to temperance in eating, there is little difference. The French
eat heavier meals, but they eat less frequently. Each nation accuses
the other of over-eating, and doctors say that the accusation is
merited in both cases.

[Sidenote: Stately Service and plain Table.]

[Sidenote: English Asceticism.]

One is sometimes struck in England by the combination of a very
stately service with a very plain table. Fine linen, expensive plate,
formidably dignified servants, and all this ceremony about a leg of
mutton and some boiled potatoes. Thackeray amused himself with noting
this contrast. It is a revelation of English character, which is deeply
attached to state and style, but is really not given over to sensual
pleasures. Occasionally the English go rather far, perhaps, in the
direction of plain living. The total abstainer gives you pure water,
the _very_ moderate drinker forgets to pass the decanter, and so do
his servants. I remember being invited once to an early dinner in the
country and riding to it several miles in drenching rain. I was cold
and wet, for it was winter, and I looked forward confidently to warm
old English hospitality; but my host had _principles_, and principles
are nothing if you do not act up to them, so he gave me a slice of
cold beef with a glass of cold water. That _menu_ was easily and long



[Sidenote: Why Thrift is a Social Virtue.]

Thrift is classed as a social virtue, because in a thrifty society few
people fall upon others for their support. The thrifty man looks to his
own independence during sickness, and to that of his wife and children
after his death, so that he is never burdensome either to public or
private charity.

[Sidenote: Thrift often associated with Meanness.]

Socially, then, the thrifty man is an acceptable member of the
community; but when we inquire closely into the nature of thrift we
often find it associated with meanness, and therefore the esteem for it
has never been quite without reserve.

[Sidenote: French Qualities favourable to Thrift.]

[Sidenote: French Defects favourable to Thrift.]

[Sidenote: French Meanness.]

To apply this to the English and French, I may begin by admitting,
quite frankly, that the French are incomparably superior to the English
in thrift. The natural talent for thrift is far commoner in France
than in England. The French are prudent as a rule, and very capable of
limiting their desires; they have also a great love of independence,
a horror of debt, a readiness to accept and avow a modest social
position, and they have (in spite of apparent frivolity) a foresight
that looks a long way into the future. That is the good side of the
French character as regards thrift, but there is a bad side at least
equally favourable to it. There is a pettiness in the French mind which
adapts it well for dealing with details, and gives it a keen zest for
very small economies. An Englishman is astonished by nothing so much
as this pettiness when he first knows the French as they really are,
and begins to perceive what close and earnest attention they will
give to what seem to him ridiculously small matters. In many French
people, I do not say in all, there is something worse than pettiness,
namely, downright meanness, and this too is highly favourable to
thrift. This meanness is not confined to the poorer classes, or to the
_bourgeoisie_, it may be found in all classes.

[Sidenote: The English have less both of the Qualities and the Defects.]

In England the qualities and the defects which are favourable to
thrift are much rarer. The English are not so prudent as the French,
not so capable of limiting their desires, not so ready to accept
humble positions contentedly, and if they have foresight they too
often find reasons for not acting according to its dictates. But, on
the other hand, the English have a hearty contempt for pettiness. An
Englishman who is mean is a very rare exception. The English nature
finds no satisfaction in paying less for anything than it is really
worth; it does not wish to pay more, but in consideration for its own
self-respect it wishes to give the full value.

[Sidenote: Egoism and Altruism in Thrift.]

A further examination of the conduct of thrifty people leads to the
conclusion that thrift may be either self-denying or denying to other
people. A man has a family; he feeds himself luxuriously and his family
as poorly as possible; at the year’s end he will have saved more than
if he had lived on potatoes and kept his family well. In large families
thrift often means refusing things to the wife and children whilst the
master is self-indulgent, like the Sultan of Turkey, who wallows in
luxury whilst his ragged soldiers starve. The commonest English form of
this selfishness is to spend in drink whilst denying necessaries to the
children; but this is not thrift, as there are no savings.

[Sidenote: A pretty Instance of Unselfish Thrift.]

Thrift may be one of the noblest forms of altruism. I know all the
details about a very pretty instance that occurred in England two
generations before mine. A lady, well-to-do and childless, had
three little penniless nieces. By pure self-denial she saved three
fortunes for them, enough to keep them in comfort all their days. This
self-denial was all the harder in her case that she belonged to an
aristocratic family, and might have excusably spent her income for the
maintenance of her rank.

[Sidenote: Dowries for Daughters.]

[Sidenote: The Dowry an Education in Thrift.]

The strongest motive for French thrift is to provide dowries for
daughters. It being an accepted rule that every girl must have a dowry,
a Frenchman is not discouraged by the smallness of the sum he is able
to put by. This enables him to begin, and if a little prosperity comes
to him it is a satisfaction to make the dowry larger. Whilst saving the
dowry he learns the art of saving, and applies it afterwards to other

[Sidenote: Two English Discouragements to Saving.]

[Sidenote: Gentlemen and Ladies.]

[Sidenote: The Great Renunciation for an Englishman.]

In England there are two terrible discouragements to saving. The first
is the exacting character of English opinion with regard to style
of living, the contempt felt for people who are not gentlemen and
ladies, and the vulgar belief that one cannot be a gentleman or a lady
without leading an expensive life. “It costs a great deal of money
to be a gentleman,” says an English writer, “and a great deal more
to be a lady.” Well, if this is so, why not leave gentlemanhood and
ladyhood to rich people, and why not be content with simple manhood and
womanhood? Nothing can be more admirable than the life of an Englishman
who saves money from a sense of duty when the saving implies the
great renunciation, the renunciation of the title of “gentleman.” A
Frenchman, who may live as he likes, knows nothing of that sacrifice.

[Sidenote: English Contempt for small Sums of Money.]

[Sidenote: £300 a Year.]

[Sidenote: £500 a Year.]

The second great discouragement to saving in England is the English
contempt for small sums of money. “The Englishman,” says Bagehot, “bows
down before a great heap and sneers when he passes a little heap.” The
sneer is perhaps more frequent than the bow. The mention of a small
fortune often excites a smile. And the heap need not be a very little
one to be sneered at. You may be almost ridiculous for having an income
that places you far above want. Three hundred a year is an income that
seems really amusing to the well-constituted English mind. I myself
have heard a man with five hundred a year called a “beggar,” and have
seen people smile good-humouredly at more than twice as much. The
consequence is that unless an Englishman has the natural instinct of
avarice he may think, “What is the good of saving when all I can put by
will only be contemptible?”

[Sidenote: Thrift not always general in France.]

[Sidenote: Grévy and Carnot.]

It is worth noting, as a contrast, that the idea of thrift has not
always been general in France. The present French rural aristocracy
is thrifty; but the old ideal of a French nobleman included largeness
and even prodigality in money matters, which led to the ruin of
many a noble house. To be careful and exact was, in the old days, a
middle-class virtue, the consequence being that there are so many
_nouveaux riches_ in France at the present day. Even now it is not
thought well to be too thrifty in high situations. That was President
Grévy’s fault; President Carnot saves nothing out of his allowance, and
is liked for it. The millions claimed by the Orleans family seemed to
them a good kind of ballast in troubled waters, but they sank the royal

[Sidenote: An Example of French Carefulness.]

The following may be taken as a rather extreme example of French
carefulness. I knew an old bachelor who had £800 a year and not at
all an ungenerous disposition, but he enjoyed making little savings.
He drove frequently to the neighbouring town, and was quite delighted
with an arrangement he made there, by which he was allowed to put up
his pony for a penny a time on condition that he harnessed it himself
and that the animal had nothing to eat. The pony was avenged by the old
gentleman’s cook, who was thriftier even than her master, and kept him
on short commons.

[Sidenote: Effects of Extreme Thrift.]

[Sidenote: Tradesmen and Thrifty Customers.]

The spirit of small economies may take a character of positive
meanness. Servants may be, and sometimes are, so wretchedly fed that
they will not stay in the place. Relations, as eating beings, may be
so inhospitably received that they finally cease their visits. All
hospitality may come to an end, invitations being declined in dread
of the obligation of reciprocity, till at last the thrifty household
realises its perfect ideal of spending nothing on anybody. French
tradesmen are well acquainted with this class of customers, who are
incessantly trying to get something out of them. The ingenuity of such
customers goes beyond anything that would be believed in England.
French novelists sometimes amuse themselves by depicting the petty
craft of the meanest natures. The novelists cannot go beyond the
truth, with all their inventiveness.

[Sidenote: English Improvidence.]

As a contrast to this you have English improvidence, especially in the
genteel professional class, where the whole energy of the master of
the house is devoted to earning fairy gold, the gold that immediately
vanishes. He spends that he may succeed and succeeds that he may spend.
He brings up a family with genteel habits and no capital. Apparently
prosperous and enviable, he enjoys in reality nothing that prosperity
ought to give, since he has neither leisure to think, nor liberty, nor
peace of mind, nor any hope of rest except in the grave.[53]

[Sidenote: Results of French Thrift.]

The final results of French thrift, for the nation, are as follows:--

[Sidenote: The Poorer Class.]

1. The poorer classes are better fed and better clothed. This is a real
good, because they needed it. They are probably stronger than they used
to be.

[Sidenote: Increase of Idlers.]

2. The idle class is constantly increasing in numbers, not because it
is prolific, but by the accession of _nouveaux riches_. This is not
perceptibly a benefit.

[Sidenote: Effect of Thrift on Population.]

3. The _extreme_ spirit of thrift will not allow population to increase
with riches. It operates as a powerful restraint on procreation even
in wealthy families. This weakens France relatively to England and

[Sidenote: Effects of Luxury.]

4. Thrift has produced wealth, wealth luxury, and luxury also acts as a
restraint on population, because, in a luxurious age, children are too

[Sidenote: Weakening of the Warlike Temper]

5. As for national defence, the wealth of France is of use for all
material things, such as ships, fortresses, and guns, but by increasing
the love of comfort and commerce it has enfeebled the warlike temper of
the nation.

[Sidenote: Temptation to Enemies.]

6. As the wealth of France continually increases, and her defenders do
not increase with it, she becomes every year a more tempting prize for
an enemy.



[Sidenote: English Civilisation.]

Entering London one day with a friend in the railway train, I asked him
what, in his opinion, would have been the impressions of an ancient
Roman if he could have accompanied us. What would an inhabitant of
Augustan Rome think of English civilisation in Victorian London?

My friend at once answered, “He would think we were a very dirty race,
and this impression would be so strong and so unfavourable that he
would be slow to perceive our superiority in other respects.”

[Sidenote: Belief in English Cleanliness.]

This is not the general English opinion. The English believe themselves
to be a clean people. Foreigners are dirty, Englishmen are clean; that
is one of the most obvious distinctions between them.

[Sidenote: The Morning Sponge-bath.]

[Sidenote: Earlier Habits.]

[Sidenote: Present English Claim to Cleanliness.]

The English upper classes are clean, but cleanliness of any high
degree is a very modern virtue amongst them. It is an invention of the
nineteenth century. I am just old enough to remember the time when
the use of the morning sponge-bath became general amongst boys and
young men of my own generation. Men and women born at the close of the
eighteenth century did as French people do to-day; they took a warm
bath occasionally for cleanliness,[54] and they took shower-baths when
they were prescribed by the physician for health, and they bathed in
summer seas for pleasure, but they did not wash themselves all over
every morning. I remember an old gentleman, of good family and estate,
arguing against this strange, newfangled custom, and maintaining that
it was quite unnecessary to wash the skin in modern times, as the
impurities were removed by linen. However, the new custom took deep
root in England, because it became one of the signs of class. It was
adopted as one of the habits of a gentleman, and afterwards spread
rather lower, though it is not yet by any means universal. It is
chiefly upon this habit that the _present_ English claim to superior
cleanliness is founded. In former times the English were proud of using
more water than the French for ordinary ablutions, and they pretended
to believe that the French were unacquainted with the use of soap,
because they did not provide public pieces of soap in the bedchambers
of their hotels.

[Sidenote: The best Cleanser.]

[Sidenote: Hardihood above Cleanliness.]

The cold sponge-bath is perhaps used in England more for health than
for cleanliness, as a prolonged stay in a warm bath cleans much better,
and the treatment by perspiration according to old Roman or modern
oriental usage is incomparably the most effectual cleanser of all.
It is characteristic of the English to have set hardihood above the
ideal perfection of cleanliness, and to have avoided the luxurious and
enervating bath in which the ancients took delight.

[Sidenote: English Pride in Hardihood.]

Englishmen are proud of being able to sponge themselves with cold
water all through the winter. I have known one who used to lie down
in ice-cold water every morning; others boast of a morning plunge in
sea or river at Christmas time, and they continue the habit as long as
their constitutions will hold out.

[Sidenote: Concealed Dirtiness.]

[Sidenote: Efforts of the Poor towards Cleanliness.]

English physicians are severe on the concealed dirtiness of many
people in the middle classes, who seem clean with their false collars
and cuffs and their washed faces and hands. One does not expect much
cleanliness amongst the labouring population of any modern country,
but the working classes in England deserve great credit for every
effort they make in the direction of cleanliness, because they have
not the facilities of the rich. I myself have often seen colliers in
Lancashire naked to the waist and giving themselves a thorough wash in
plentiful hot water with soap, and when greater facilities are given
in the shape of public baths they make use of them. It would be easy
for manufacturers to encourage cleanliness by having baths at their
factories. Some have actually done this.

[Sidenote: French Warm Baths.]

[Sidenote: Effects of the Warm Bath in France.]

[Sidenote: Consequences of English Example.]

The state of England with regard to personal cleanliness may be
considered as partially satisfactory, and it is improving. As to the
French, their strong point is their excellent institution of warm
baths, which are to be found even in the smallest towns with a complete
service. A tired Frenchman, arriving at anything like a town, looks to
his hot bath as the best restorative. If these baths are a pleasure
to a man he will be clean; if he does not like them he will not be
so clean as the Englishman who sponges himself by way of discipline,
whether he likes it or not. However, English example has had a
wonderful effect in improving the apparatus of cleanliness in French
private houses. English baths, ewers, basins, and other complicated
toilet arrangements are copied extensively in France. If you visit a
pot-shop in a small provincial town, quite remote from the Channel,
you will find English washstand services of full size, or good French
copies of them; and if you go to the ironmonger’s you will find all
kinds of baths for domestic use, including English “tubs.” In French
houses, where the old small ewers and basins are retained, they are
now almost invariably supplemented by a capacious tin water-jug on the
floor. In fact, the French are becoming a cleaner people, thanks to the
example of their neighbours, who are about forty years in advance.

[Sidenote: Cleanly Appearance of French Crowds.]

[Sidenote: Reasons for it.]

A French crowd (I am not the first to notice this) always _appears_
cleaner than an English crowd. This is due to the self-respecting
habits of the French lower classes. In England the poor people in towns
will wear old and dirty things that have belonged to middle-class
people; in France they wear cheap things of their own and take care
to have them clean, especially on Sunday or a fête-day. Peasants’ and
workmen’s wives look as clean as ladies; in fact, their washed caps,
prettily ironed, have a fresher appearance than ladies’ bonnets. The
men, too, in their new blouses, appear cleaner than a _bourgeois_ in a
black coat. In summer, all the young peasants look as if they put on a
new straw hat every Sunday.

[Sidenote: Effects of Coal-smoke.]

[Sidenote: English Towns.]

[Sidenote: Paper and Paint.]

[Sidenote: The old-fashioned French Way.]

[Sidenote: Carpet and _Parquet_.]

Much of this external cleanliness is due merely to the absence of
coal-smoke. In London and Manchester it is difficult and expensive to
be clean. The cheery and bright external appearance of French houses
is due to the same cause, and now the common use of coal is spoiling
it in some places. As for English houses in large and smoky towns, the
melancholy dinginess of the outer walls is accepted as a matter of
course, but cleanliness has its revenge in the interior and even on
the whitened doorstep. There is one point as to which the English are
greatly superior to the French, especially to middle-class provincial
families,--they renew paper and paint. The good old-fashioned French
way was to neglect papering and painting till further neglect could
make it no worse, and then to think no more of the matter. There is a
strong conventionalism about these subjects everywhere. In the inside
of a room English people are more particular about the walls and
ceiling, French people about the floor. There is many a middle-class
French dining-room where the only beauty is the extreme cleanliness of
the bare boards. The English like carpets, which are more favourable to
comfort than to cleanliness, the French prefer the healthy waxed oak
_parquet_, and often content themselves with a deal _plancher_ or red

[Sidenote: English Love of Whitewash.]

[Sidenote: Whitewash unknown in French Farm-houses.]

The humbler classes in England have a great superiority in their love
of whitewash. The passion for whitewash which has been so disastrous
in churches is excellent in farm-houses, and I have known many a
farm-house in Lancashire that was kept fresh and pleasant by the use
of it. In French farm-houses it seems to be perfectly unknown; and
although their interiors are admirably adapted for pictorial treatment,
and have been charmingly painted by Edouard Frère and others, the rich
browns of the coarsely-plastered walls are really nothing but dirt,
though delightful in colour and texture from an artist’s point of

[Sidenote: French Bedding.]

The French are very careful about the cleanliness of their bedding.
I have often in my travels slept in very poor country inns, but was
always sure of clean, if coarse, sheets, as well as a clean table-cloth
and napkin.

[Sidenote: English and French Water-closets.]

[Sidenote: French Neglect.]

The English are incomparably superior to the French in their care and
cleanliness about water-closets and everything of that kind. French
incompetence, stupidity, and neglect of this matter are indefensible.
The only possible explanation is that when people have once got into
the habit of neglecting any particular thing the habit of neglect
becomes fixed, even when it is attended by great inconvenience. To
borrow an illustration from a pleasanter subject, I may observe that
many French farmers, and, I believe, more Irish, have a fixed habit of
neglecting the repair of harness except with bits of string. Certainly,
in the better class of French houses, an attempt is made to keep the
water-closet in order; but as it has always been badly organised at
the beginning this is very difficult. The French might learn all about
these inventions from the English, who thoroughly understand them.

[Sidenote: Comfort of Moderate Dirtiness.]

[Sidenote: The Poor Man’s Under-Shirt.]

In conclusion, France and England may be ranked amongst the tolerably
clean nations, England taking the lead; but real cleanliness is not
general in either. What there is of it is confined to limited classes,
and anything like an ideal perfection of cleanliness is the peculiarity
of individuals who have a natural genius for it and find a pleasure in
it. The majority prefer a moderate degree of dirtiness as being more
conducive to their true comfort. A certain English poet used to wear a
dirty shirt for comfort, and a clean one over it for show. That exactly
represents the feelings of ordinary mankind, who have no objection to
a little cleanliness in deference to custom, provided that it is only
external, and that they may have the satisfactions of dirt beneath,
like a cherished secret sin under a mantle of piety. As for the really
poor, who are miserably clad, it has been pointed out by Mr. Galton
that dirt is a necessity for them in cold weather; it is the poor man’s



[Sidenote: Seeming Decline in National Courage.]

I think it must be admitted that there has been an apparent decline
in national courage both in England and France during the latter half
of the nineteenth century. They now, both of them, shrink from war as
they did not shrink in former times, and when the _casus belli_ would
have been clear to the Englishman and the Frenchman of more heroic
days their descendants prefer to wink at it. We are no longer quite
certain that national courage was a great virtue, and there are certain
considerations that may console us for its real or apparent diminution.

[Sidenote: Personal Risk.]

[Sidenote: Nations do not desire War.]

[Sidenote: Rarity of Warlike Enthusiasm in France.]

[Sidenote: Tonquin.]

[Sidenote: Egypt.]

In the first place, Did the men who decided upon former wars _risk
their own lives_? When a cabinet of civilians declares war, or when
it is declared by a king who is not really a soldier, the act is not
one of courage at all, but of political wisdom or folly. Or if a
military king with a standing army declares war, the act is not one of
national courage; it is only a demonstration of the military caste.
When the nation itself is the army, and when it declares war through
its freely-elected representatives, then the act is one of national
courage; but how often has a war been declared in that way? Nations do
not desire war, and the better they are educated the less they wish for
it. The only French war in our time which really excited the enthusiasm
of the nation was that for the liberation of Italy. The French had no
enthusiasm whatever for the Crimean War, which they looked upon as an
English enterprise; they had none for the Mexican, and there was only
a little noisy surface excitement in favour of the war of 1870. Since
then the nation has really had the control of its own affairs, and has
shown no warlike tendencies. The Tonquin enterprise was ministerial,
and ruined the minister who undertook it. The French people would not
even support a vigorous Egyptian policy. Its only national courage is
that which takes the form of waiting calmly for the German onslaught.

[Sidenote: Turning against Weak Peoples.]

Neither England nor France now ventures to attack a really first-class
Power; but they exercise their military strength against weak,
half-civilised peoples. England breaks the Zulu power, but not the
Russian. France advances her African frontier, but not her European.
France now exactly imitates the English policy of expansion out of
Europe, and of doing nothing in Europe until she can find an ally.

[Sidenote: France and England now Second-class Powers.]

They are still nominally Great Powers, but they now belong in reality
to a second class which might be defined as that of the nations that do
not fight without allies except against feeble potentates. Neither one
nor the other preserves those illusions about its own strength which
are necessary for heroic action. What is more, the other nations have
lost the old fear of England and France, whose mutual distrust breaks
forth on every possible occasion and deprives them of the one source of
real strength--association.

[Sidenote: The Siege of Paris.]

The kind of national courage which consists in offering a determined
though hopeless resistance to a successful enemy was very nobly
displayed by the French after Sedan, especially during the siege of
Paris. Some English writers called this mere obstinacy, and had nothing
but contemptuous blame for it, yet I venture to say that if an invading
army surrounded London the English would show exactly the same kind
of noble obstinacy themselves. In such a case a nation does not fight
without a purpose, though it may struggle without hope. It fights for
its self-respect.

[Sidenote: Courage possible for Second-class Powers.]

[Sidenote: Danger of bottled-up Courage.]

[Sidenote: The Paris Commune.]

This is the sort of courage that second-class Powers may still retain,
they may reserve themselves for a fierce and prolonged defence. There
remains for them a peculiar danger. It might happen that two Powers,
not quite of the first rank, might fight each other because they dared
not assault the greatest Powers. A superfluity of unexercised courage
might explode in a war between England and France, because one dared
not fight Russia, nor the other Germany. There have been moments when
this seemed very likely to happen. The dangerous effects of bottled-up
courage were curiously displayed in the time of the Paris Commune. The
National Guards had been expecting to be led against the Prussians in
a grand sortie, but were always put off till the peace came. They had
their rifles and their bottled-up courage, so they rushed into conflict
with the “Versaillais.”

[Sidenote: Individual Courage.]

[Sidenote: Football.]

[Sidenote: Duelling.]

[Sidenote: Danger in Duels.]

For individual courage the two peoples are nearly on a par, but
they differ in their training. It is unpleasant to have to confess
that brutal and barbarous customs are favourable to the development
of courage, yet some of them unquestionably are so, and a higher
civilisation might have a difficulty in replacing them. Football, as
practised in English public schools, is a brutal pastime, but it is an
excellent discipline in courage. French duelling, though infinitely
more refined in its forms, is in principle thoroughly barbarous, but
as a school of courage there is nothing to equal it, and the great
advantage of it in that respect is the constant possibility of an
encounter that hangs over the head of every Frenchman, and accustoms
him to the idea of danger. He goes through life like an armed knight
riding through a wood. In saying “every Frenchman” I exaggerated,
because, in fact, men are very differently exposed to the danger
of duelling in France. Peasants never fight duels, workmen hardly
ever, but there is not a gentleman, or an officer, or a deputy, or a
journalist, who is not ready to go on the field of private battle at a
moment’s notice. It is true that these encounters rarely end fatally,
yet there is always danger, if only from accident. An intimate French
friend of mine, when he had a duel on his hands, would go home to his
wife and say, “Now, my dear, I must be left very quiet, as I have to
fight to-morrow morning;” then he would go to bed and sleep till four
o’clock, when he drank nothing but a glass of water before facing lead
or steel.

[Sidenote: Boxing.]

[Sidenote: Bull-fights.]

I have a poor opinion of the sort of courage which consists in looking
on with tranquil nerves whilst others suffer. However, this base valour
may sometimes be of use. The English may acquire it to some extent
by witnessing pugilistic combats, the French of the south by seeing
bull-fights in the arenas of Nîmes and Arles; but it is only a very
small proportion of the population in England and France that now
witnesses these things, the spectators are not comparable in numbers to
the vast Roman public that hardened its heart in the gladiatorial shows.

[Sidenote: Field Sports.]

As for field sports, those practised in England require little courage
except in horsemanship for English hunting. In France there are
dangerous boar-hunts. It is, however, only in some parts of France that
this amusement is to be had, and it is practised by comparatively few
persons, chiefly amongst the richer gentry. Field sports are good for
keeping up the energy of semi-barbarous aristocracies, which, in the
absence of war, might lapse into indolence without them.

[Sidenote: Courage in the Common People.]

[Sidenote: Military Service.]

[Sidenote: French Boys.]

Courage is kept up amongst the common people chiefly by dangers
repeatedly incurred in their ordinary avocations. This discipline of
experience with boats, horses, bulls, and other dangerous things or
creatures, is common both to England and France. In a word, as to the
lower classes, they are in the same situation in both countries, except
that the humble Frenchman has to undergo military service, which is a
fine school, especially in the cavalry and artillery. Young English
boyhood, in the middle and higher classes, is in a better situation for
acquiring manliness than French boyhood, because it has more liberty. I
have not, however, noticed that French boys were timid for themselves
(except in talking), it is their parents and teachers who are timid for





[Sidenote: Dissimilarity between French and English.]

It is a commonplace that the French and English of to-day are extremely
unlike each other--wonderfully unlike each other, considering that they
are such near neighbours, and the two principal representatives of
western civilisation in Europe.

Has the unlikeness always been as marked as it is now, or has there
been a time in the past history of the two nations when they resembled
each other on some points now marked by trenchant differences?

[Sidenote: Varying Degrees of Dissimilarity.]

The answer appears to be that the French and English have at certain
periods of the past been much less unlike each other than they are
now, but yet that the extreme of dissimilarity has been reached at a
later period, and that, in the present day, the slow but sure action
of causes that may be indicated is bringing about a diminution of that
extreme dissimilarity, without, however, giving grounds for any belief
or hope that the two nations can ever be very like each other in the

[Sidenote: A French _Noblesse_ in England.]

Recent historians, especially Mr. Freeman, have taught us to realise
much more clearly than we did thirty years ago the truth that the
kings of the House of Anjou were French kings, and that the governing
classes in the England which they ruled were essentially a French
_noblesse_. The Frenchifying influence of kings and nobles was resumed
in another way by the Stuart dynasty, and might have gone on gradually
approximating the entire English nation to French customs, had not
a great mental revolution occurred in England and Scotland, which
made the British thenceforward a peculiar people, strongly differing
not only from the French but from all the other continental nations
whatever. The result of that revolution, as it affects our own time, is
that England resembles no nation in the world except her own colonies,
including, of course, the great kindred nation in America.

[Sidenote: Puritanism.]

[Sidenote: Its Effect in making the English unlike the French.]

That revolution was Puritanism, a far more important thing than
the change from a monarchical to a republican form of government,
because it really changed the mental habits of the nation, making
English people more peculiar than they themselves know, and quite
incomprehensible by the French; making English customs differ from
continental customs more widely than they had ever differed before;
changing even the fundamental character of the English mind by
chastening and repressing the light-hearted gaiety of merry England and
substituting for it a gravity often deepening into gloom; replacing the
old morals by severer morals, establishing a strict censorship even
over language, substituting for the old religion of Europe a faith
less picturesque and less indulgent, consequently less in harmony with
French feeling.

[Sidenote: Puritanism in the British Middle Classes.]

There is a temptation to exaggerate the importance of historical
influences when once they have been perceived, but one can hardly
exaggerate the importance of Puritanism in the history of the English
people, especially in the history of the middle classes, where it is
still predominant at the present day. Both the qualities and the
defects that distinguish the British middle classes are for the most
part directly traceable to the influence of Puritanism, and so are
those feelings and opinions of which they themselves have forgotten the

[Sidenote: Not a Special Creed.]

[Sidenote: Transformation of British Sentiment and Custom.]

[Sidenote: An English Family in Paris.]

[Sidenote: The old English Sunday.]

[Sidenote: Sunday a Cause of Separation between English and French.]

It may be thought that Puritanism ought to have been spoken of in the
chapters on religion, but I am not sure that it ought to be classed
as a special creed. It seems rather to be a reform of custom in the
direction of severity and austerity which might be carried out under
any creed that permitted rigorous moralists to obtain a great social
power. The Wahhabees are the Puritans of Islam, with their particular
prohibitions, their gravity of demeanour, their employment of pious
forms in language, their severity of social espionage, and control by
a vigilant public opinion. But although we may find Puritanism in the
most unexpected places, it has never accomplished a work so extensive
in its consequences, or likely to be so durable, as the transformation
of British sentiment and custom. Only a dispassionate comparison with
custom still alive on the continent, but extinct in England, can enable
us to realise what that transformation is. A middle-class English
family goes to Paris.[56] In due course of time a Sunday comes; or
rather, not a Sunday, but a _Dimanche_. The English family has heard
of a French Sunday before, but has hitherto been unable to realise it
by mere force of imagination. On actually _seeing_ it, the impression
received is that the French are all intentional Sabbath-breakers--that
the amusements which go forward on that day are a clear evidence of
French wickedness. Some good English or Scotch people are so shocked
by what they see that they recognise in the defeat of 1870 a just
punishment for the national sin of Sabbath-breaking. They do not
realise that what they see is not the French Sunday in particular, but
the continental Sunday in general; still less do they remember that it
is also the English Sunday of pre-Puritanic times--those times now so
remote in memory, and yet historically still so near, when the English
had not yet become a peculiar people, but lived like the other nations
of western Europe. The English of Shakespeare’s time went to the
theatre on Sunday,[57] and after morning service in the churches they
enjoyed many active games and recreations, including dancing, archery,
and leaping.[58] Now, as there is nothing more visible than external
differences of custom, and as people are separated even more by visible
differences than by those which are invisible, and as on one day out of
seven those differences are now strikingly apparent between the English
and French peoples, it is evident that on the day when they differ most
they cannot but feel infinitely more estranged from each other than
their ancestors would have felt on the same day.

[Sidenote: English Roman Catholics.]

[Sidenote: The Catholic Sunday.]

[Sidenote: Studies on Sunday.]

The modern disapproval felt by British visitors for the behaviour
of the French people on Sunday is due in great part to the cautious
conduct of the Roman Catholic minority in England, who do not venture
to show openly what kind of Sunday it is that their Church would hold
to be innocently employed. To avoid scandal in a country where the
influence of Puritanism is still powerful, they keep a Sunday that is
outwardly almost a Sabbath, and are careful to avoid many recreations
that the Church of Rome has always freely permitted. In fact, that
Church permits all recreations on the first day of the week that she
sanctions on any other, including the most active exercises. What
she really forbids is lucrative professional labour. A lawyer should
not study a case on Sunday, unless there is urgent necessity, but he
is perfectly free to amuse himself, however noisily, in sawing and
hammering. A professional artist may do better not to paint (although
there is a kind of special toleration for artistic and intellectual
pursuits, as being different from mere drudgery), but an amateur,
working for recreation, may take his apparatus into the fields.
Disinterested studies of all kinds are permitted by the Church on
Sunday. It is not in a Roman Catholic country that geologists would be
in danger of being stoned, as they have been in Scotland, for hammering
at rocks on that day.[59]

[Sidenote: A French Sunday.]

Here is the way in which some very religious French people spent a
Sunday in 1886, I being one of the party. They went to mass early in
the morning, in the chapel of the nearest _château_; then they made
preparations for receiving their friends. The friends came after
_déjeuner_, two families, in addition to seven guests staying in the
house. Some of them remained in the garden, sat about in camp chairs
and talked; others went to the village _fête_, where, of course, there
was a great deal of dancing and other amusements, which they looked
upon quite benevolently. Now, it so happened that those who went to
the _fête_ were the most religious people of the whole party. On their
return we had dinner, and the most pious were by no means the least
merry. After dinner the young ladies gave us some music, and one of
them played a waltz. This set the young people dancing, and so a dance
was improvised which lasted till eleven o’clock, when the guests drove
away in the moonlight.[60]

[Sidenote: Success of the Puritan Legislation in Scotland.]

Perhaps the English and Scotch might have given up Sunday dancing more
readily than if they had been by nature as saltatory as the French
are, but the British have given up many things that they cared for
passionately. They gave up salmon-fishing, for example, which was not
readily put down in Scotland, and the new legislation attained in the
end that supreme success of the legislator when he establishes a very
durable custom that would survive the repeal of his law. The power of
the dead Puritans is shown in nothing more wonderfully than in the
abstinence of British sportsmen when the twelfth of August occurs on a
Sunday, and every fowling-piece in the British Islands remains unloaded
till Monday morning.

[Sidenote: New Customs.]

This history of the divergence from continental custom may be written
in two sentences. Puritanism obtained power to legislate, and made
recreation illegal on Sunday. By laws of great severity it established
new customs which have now, by lapse of time, become rather old
customs; and these have completely obliterated from the ordinary
British mind all traces of any recollection that the still older
British customs were like those of the continental nations.

[Sidenote: Development of Opinion.]

[Sidenote: The Violin.]

Opinion has gone even beyond legislation itself, by a process of growth
and development. Here is an example. An amateur violinist was staying
in an English house for a few days, including the first day of the
week. He took his violin out of its case and began to play a little
in private. The lady of the house immediately entered the room and
begged him to desist. “I am playing sacred music,” he answered; “this
is a part of Handel’s _Messiah_.” “That does not signify,” was the
rejoinder, “the music may be sacred, but the instrument is not.” Here
is a new development in the distinction between sacred and profane
instruments, and a very subtle distinction it is. The organ, the
harmonium,--in default of these, even the commonplace piano,--these
are sacred instruments, but not the voice-like violin. Yet the violin
is but the lyre--“Jubal’s lyre”--made capable of far more perfect

[Sidenote: Rowing and Sailing on Sunday.]

When I lived in Scotland I had occasion to observe another very subtle
distinction. It is forbidden to labour on the Sabbath-day, yet I
found that the toilsome work of rowing was looked upon as innocent in
comparison with sailing. This was because a white sail had rather a
festive appearance. I was especially blamed for not removing the flag
from my sailing-boat, for the same reason, though it might be argued
that there can be nothing unholy in the crosses of St. Andrew and St.
George. In France, sailing regattas are usually held on Sunday, with
the full approval of the Church.

[Sidenote: Effect of the Sabbath on Literature.]

[Sidenote: French Ignorance of the Bible.]

[Sidenote: English prepared for German Criticism.]

The establishment of Sabbatarian customs in Great Britain had an
unforeseen effect on literature. It prepared the way for the success
of theological books and periodicals by leaving the day, in the most
pious families, without any other recreation than religious reading.
The British read ten times as much about theology as the French, and
therefore have a much more extensive knowledge of the subject. In
France pious people read the _Imitation_, the mass-book, an abridgment
of sacred history, and some printed sermons by the most celebrated
ecclesiastical orators; but this is not to be compared with the range
of English theological reading, both in the Bible itself and in all
kinds of elaborate commentaries. As for French unbelievers, who are
very numerous, they live outside of theology much more easily and
completely than their English brethren, and often know so little about
it that references to the Old Testament familiar to every Englishman
would be unintelligible to them. The modern English political use of
the cave of Adullam puzzled Frenchmen exceedingly, as they did not
know anything about Adullam. One very curious and unexpected result
of Sabbath strictness in Great Britain is that the British are much
better prepared for German exegetic criticism than the French; so
that the British often arrive at unbelief by laborious theological
reading, whilst the French, as a general rule, come to it with much
less trouble through Voltaire, and retain the Voltairean spirit. Of
late years, however, certain scientific influences, especially that
of Darwin, have been common to both countries, and the effect of
theological studies counts for less, relatively, even in England.

[Sidenote: Duelling an old English Custom.]

The best example of a difference of custom that is simply chronological
is that of duelling. The English, by a real progress, have passed out
of this custom; the French have not yet passed out of it, though it
is probable that they will do so ultimately. Like all fashions very
recently discarded, it seems absurd to those who thought it a part of
the order of nature a little time ago. And so completely do we forget
the reasons for discarded customs that the English now look upon
duelling as quite contrary to reason, having forgotten the ancient
reason on which the single combat was founded. Yet it was a very good
reason indeed, according to the ideas that our fathers held about the
government of the universe.

[Sidenote: The old Religious Reason for Duelling.]

The old belief, in France and England equally, was that the appeal
to arms was an appeal to divine justice, and that God himself would
interfere in the battle by protecting the combatant whose quarrel was
rightful against the power and malice of his assailant. So long as this
belief prevailed, a duel was incomparably more reasonable than is an
action-at-law in the present day, for it appealed to infallible instead
of to fallible justice, and in addition to being reasonable, it was
distinctly a pious act, as the combatant proved his faith by staking
his existence on his trust in the divine protection. “He will deliver
me out of the hand of this Philistine.” The faith of David was the
faith of the Middle Ages.

[Sidenote: Duelling Irrational without a Providence.]

The custom lasted longer than the belief, even in England, and in
France it has long survived all faith in supernatural interference.
The duel is utterly irrational when people do not believe that God
will protect an inferior swordsman, with right on his side, against a
better swordsman in the wrong, or that he will spare the innocent by
deflecting the course of a bullet well aimed by a wicked adversary.

[Sidenote: The Religion of Honour.]

There has been, however, the intervention of a sort of secondary
religion between the old one and modern unbelief. There has been the
religion of honour. According to this, a man of honour was bound to
expose his life on certain occasions to the rapier or pistol of a
private enemy, and, if he fell, he fell a martyr to this religion of
honour, leaving a name unsullied by the stain of cowardice, which was
the equivalent of infidelity or apostasy.

[Sidenote: The old English Sentiment.]

[Sidenote: The French Sentiment about Honour.]

This religion survived in England even so late as the first half of
the present century, and it still survives in France. The old English
sentiment,--I say the old sentiment because contemporary Englishmen
have got so far past it, though it is very recent in mere date,--the
old English sentiment was expressed by Thackeray in the challenge sent
by Clive Newcome to his cousin Barnes, and in the gratification it
afforded to Sir George Tufto and to the Colonel, both of them elderly
men. Nevertheless, as Thackeray knew that the religion of duelling was
already dead in England when he wrote, he took care to make the action
of Clive acceptable by assigning to it filial affection as a motive.
The French sentiment about honour was described with disapproval in the
case of de Castillonnes and Lord Kew. “Castillonnes had no idea but
that he was going to the field of honour; stood with an undaunted scowl
before his enemy’s pistol; and discharged his own, and brought down
his opponent, with a grim satisfaction and a comfortable conviction
afterwards that he had acted _en galant homme_.” And so, no doubt, he
had, not only according to modern French ideas, but according to old
English ideas also.

[Sidenote: The Newcomes.]

General Tufto was of the old school when he said of Sir Barnes Newcome,
after he had received Clive’s challenge, “At first I congratulated him,
thinking your boy’s offer must please him, as it would have pleased any
fellow _in our time_ to have a shot.” And the Colonel himself, instead
of reprimanding Clive for wishing to commit murder, “regarded his son
with a look of beautiful, inexpressible affection. And he laid his hand
on his son’s shoulder and smiled, and stroked Clive’s yellow moustache.

“‘And--and did Barnes send no answer to that letter you wrote him?’ he
said slowly.

“Clive broke out into a laugh that was almost a sob. He took both
his father’s hands. ‘My dear, dear old father, what an--old--trump
you are!’ My eyes were so dim I could hardly see the two men as they

[Sidenote: Extinction of the old Sentiment.]

All this is much more French (even down to the embracing and the
tear-dimmed eyes of the spectator) than the opinions professed about
duelling by the English newspapers of 1886. According to them, a man
who sends a challenge is ridiculous, and no more. This marks the final
extinction of the old sentiment.

Another indication of this change is the ridicule of duelling on
the ground that it is not dangerous. French duelling is constantly
represented in English newspapers as a very safe kind of ceremony, in
which a slight scratch only is to be apprehended. As to this, perhaps I
may be allowed to give an instance that was brought very near home.

[Sidenote: A French Duel.]

I had been away for several days, and on my return journey dined at a
railway station. The waiter had known me for years, and, according to
his custom, enlivened my solitary dinner with a little talk. He asked
if I had “heard about M. de St. Victor.” I had heard nothing. “Because,
sir,” the waiter continued, “he was killed this morning in a duel in
the wood at Fragny.” Now, it so happened that my wife and daughter were
to have lunched and spent that afternoon with Madame de St. Victor;
but as her husband’s dead body had been brought back to the château of
Montjeu, where he lived, with a sword wound through it, Madame de St.
Victor did not receive her friends that day.[62]

[Sidenote: Cause of the Duel.]

A single event of that kind, occurring in a family not altogether
strange to you, does more to make you feel the grim reality of duelling
than many newspaper paragraphs. In this particular case the incident
arose from a correspondence between two proud and brave gentlemen
about their game preserves. One of them had written in a manner that
offended the other, and had refused to withdraw his letter. The code
of honour then made a duel almost inevitable, and the correspondence
being continued very soon led to it. An especially significant thing
about this duel was that the conqueror was known as a remarkably
expert swordsman, which the victim was not to the same degree. This
demonstrates the real unfairness of duelling, as we see that the weaker
or less expert antagonist goes down, whatever may be the righteousness
of his cause.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of abolishing the Duel.]

The sense of this unfairness is gradually tending (in spite of
appearances) to the abolition of the duel in France. There are two
signs that the custom is growing weaker. The opinion that duels are
contrary to reason is more frequently expressed in conversation,
especially by women, than it used to be, and the duellists themselves
are generally satisfied with the degree of deference to custom which
goes as far as the first wound, and do not vindictively thirst for
each other’s blood. The difficulty in abolishing the duel strikes an
intelligent Frenchman in this way. “The duel,” he thinks, “is evidently
a most irrational institution; but when there is a quarrel between two
high-spirited men I cannot see how it is to come to an end otherwise.”
Then he will say, “I know that the duel is obsolete in England, which
is a happy thing for your country; but I cannot imagine how an English
gentleman behaves when he is insulted.” To this difficulty I usually
reply that public opinion in his country condemns the insolent man
for his bad manners, and puts itself on the side of any gentleman who
conducts himself with simple dignity, so that the latter is free to
treat his enemy with silent contempt.

[Sidenote: Wines.]

[Sidenote: French Wines in old England.]

Changes of custom in one of the two nations, which have had the effect
of separating it still further from the other, may be traced in several
minor habits that are now considered especially and characteristically
English. I can remember the time when the middle classes of England
hardly knew the taste of French wine. Port and sherry were the wines
of the middle class. The upper classes, in those days, offered French
red wines at dessert under the general name of “claret,” without
distinguishing between Bordeaux and Burgundy, and consequently without
mentioning vineyards, unless the host happened to be, or pretended to
be, a connoisseur. The taxes on French wines were afterwards reduced,
and just before the reduction the kind of middle-class people who
prided themselves on being especially national often declared that John
Bull would never take to those light French wines, implying that he
was a personage of more manly tastes, and writers in the press quoted
a dignitary of the Anglican Church who had declared that “claret would
be port, if it could,” which is like saying that port is anxious to
become brandy. These good middle-class people, who made it a part of
John Bull’s character to despise their French wines, seem to have
been perfectly unaware that their ancestors, not less English than
themselves, had for centuries been hearty appreciators of French wines,
and that, in old times, casks of Bordeaux or Burgundy were to be
found not only in the cellars of the rich, but in country hostelries.
This may be a trifling matter, but to have the same taste in wines is
not altogether unimportant as an aid to good-fellowship. A Frenchman
looks upon an incapacity to appreciate the best wines--by which, of
course, he always means the best French wines--as the sign of the outer
barbarian. What he most likes in the Belgians is the just value they
attach to the produce of “_les meilleurs crûs_” and their excellent,
well-filled cellars.

[Sidenote: Tea.]

[Sidenote: Englishwomen in France.]

[Sidenote: Novelty of Tea-drinking in England.]

Another great change of custom in England, separating her from France,
is of quite modern introduction. There was a time when both countries
were total abstainers from tea-drinking, and, so far, exactly alike;
now England is a great tea-drinking country and France is not. Here is
a new subject on which they are not in sympathy. It may seem a trifle;
but has the reader ever observed Englishwomen in France deprived of tea
or supplied with the beverage in a weaker condition than they like?
At such times they have a very low opinion of Gallic civilisation.
Far-seeing Englishwomen who are accustomed to the continent take their
own teapots with their private supplies, and make the indispensable
decoction themselves. When drinking it they feel like Christians in a
pagan land. Is that nothing? Does it not produce a perceptible sense of
estrangement from the French? Tea-drinking has now become one of those
immensely important customs, like smoking and coffee in the East, that
have connected themselves with the amenities of human intercourse, and
to brew your cup in the solitude of a foreign hotel is to feel yourself
an alien. Yet how long is it since the English began to drink tea? They
began tasting it experimentally, as a few Englishmen now smoke hashish,
about the middle of the seventeenth century. Compared with ale and
wine, it is a novelty. The greatest of Englishwomen, Queen Elizabeth,
who was of English blood by father and mother, and thoroughly national,
never drank a cup of tea in her life, and did her work energetically
without it.

[Sidenote: The Peculiarly English Meals.]

The use of tea has produced a special meal in the English middle
classes which is unknown in France as it was unknown in England two
hundred years ago. The French way of living, under other names, bears a
near resemblance to old English habits. The _déjeuner à la fourchette_
is the early dinner, the _dîner_ is the supper. The French first
breakfast is modern, when _café au lait_ is taken, but great numbers of
French people take soup or a glass of white wine with a crust of bread,
and many take nothing at all. Breakfast and tea are the peculiarly
English meals, and they are modern. The one great English innovation
which the French have never been able to accept is that of eating salty
and greasy food, such as fried bacon, and drinking hot and sweet tea or
coffee at the same time.

[Sidenote: The Beard and Moustache.]

[Sidenote: Shaving.]

As an example of an old English fashion that is now looked upon as
French, I may mention the way of treating the beard adopted by Napoleon
III., and in imitation of him by many French soldiers and civilians.
The moustache in combination with the _barbiche_ was looked upon as a
French fashion by the English, and very few contemporary Englishmen
adopted it for that reason. They forgot that it was an old English
fashion,--much older than the pair of whiskers with the shaven chin
and upper lip which used to be looked upon as national in the highest
degree. At the same time the English did not notice that the way of
shaving the chin and upper lip which they believed to be so much the
national mark of an Englishman was a rigorous contemporary French
fashion for two classes, namely, magistrates (with barristers) and
domestic servants. This is now somewhat relaxed, the tendency in both
nations being towards complete liberty about the wearing of the beard.



[Sidenote: The English hardy yet Comfort-loving.]

There seems to be a contradiction in the English character on this very
important subject, for the English are at the same time one of the
hardiest peoples in the world and quite the most self-indulgent up to
that point which is defined by the national word “comfort.”

[Sidenote: Real and Ideal Comfort.]

By “comfort” an Englishman understands perfect physical ease and
something more. The state of perfect comfort is partly ideal. Tapestry
on a wall is comfortable, yet we do not touch it, we do not wrap
ourselves up in it. The mind is cognisant of its presence as a warm,
soft tissue, and that is all. Carpets are a little nearer, physically,
as we walk upon them; but nine-tenths of the comfort they give is also
purely ideal, for it can matter very little to us that a whole floor
should be clothed with a soft pile when we can get as much softness on
bare boards by wearing slippers.

[Sidenote: Little Conveniences.]

An Englishman’s passion for comfort is also closely connected with his
love of despatch, and his ingenuity in devising little conveniences
that diminish friction. In this ingenuity he has no rival, but it
sometimes defeats itself by making the conveniences themselves an

[Sidenote: Example given by Jesus.]

[Sidenote: Socrates and Epictetus.]

This is one of those matters which exhibit in a striking light the
powerlessness of education, as the English of the comfortable classes
have received their highest teaching from Greek philosophers and
Christian apostles, two classes of teachers who, both by example and
precept, inculcated the value of self-denial and simplicity of life.
We do not know very much of the life of Jesus, but the little that
we do know is entirely in favour of the belief that it was almost
destitute of physical comfort, and that he lived amongst a class of
poor people to whom comfort was unknown. On one occasion, as we all
remember, he expressly discouraged anxiety about eating and dress; and
as for lodging, there is no evidence either that he had a dwelling of
his own or that he ever intentionally sought the hospitality of the
rich. The lives of Socrates and Epictetus show an equal indifference to
comfort; Socrates lived just as it happened, caring only for the life
of thought; Epictetus, in a passage of splendid eloquence, rejoiced in
his mental freedom, and demonstrated that it was compatible with the
hardest and barest life.[63]

[Sidenote: Practical Difficulty of plain Living.]

[Sidenote: Individuals not Responsible.]

The English answer to Epictetus would be that he lived in another age,
that he was unmarried, and therefore had not to satisfy the claims of
others, and finally, that he did nothing notable except philosophising.
If a modern Englishman tried to live like Epictetus he would inflict a
kind of social paralysis upon himself, he would deny himself his due
share in English life. That is the great practical difficulty in the
way of hard living and high thinking. It is well for the philosopher,
but he cannot require the same austerity of his family and his guests.
No individual Englishman is responsible for the national standard of
comfort. It has grown as custom grows, and is now so firmly fixed that
Wisdom herself has to submit to it.

[Sidenote: The old Prejudice against Self-indulgence.]

[Sidenote: Old-fashioned Stoicism.]

[Sidenote: Stoicism in the French Peasantry.]

There is even a marked difference of opinion between the present
generation and that which has just passed away. I have known people,
born at the close of the eighteenth century, who still retained an
antique prejudice against self-indulgence. They still had the idea
that there was something shameful in excessive comfort, that a certain
discipline of hardness was necessary to manly dignity, and, in a minor
degree, even to womanly. I have known an English gentleman of the old
school, a vigorous and rich old man, who never would use a railway
rug or a travelling cap; such things seemed to him concessions to the
weakness of the age. At seventy, he would sit upright through a long
railway journey, and he preferred second-class carriages, as being
less luxurious. His sister belonged to the same school; she never
would lean back in a chair, and she disliked lounging habits of all
kinds, as being associated with the idea of laziness. People of that
kind maintained a strict discipline over themselves; the body had to
obey the will. I have since found the same stoicism in full strength
amongst the French peasantry. If any of their class betray too much
care for their own comfort the rest laugh at them. They are hard with
themselves, too, on principle, though there is certainly now a tendency
to admit comforts which were formerly unknown.

[Sidenote: Modern Acceptance of what is Pleasant.]

The idea that it is better not to be too comfortable is now, I believe,
extinct in the richer classes in England. They have not become
effeminate, but they think that it is well to accept all pleasant
things in the right time and place. Why not be snug and warm in a
railway carriage? Why not lounge in an easy-chair in the drawing-room?
The effect of such indulgences has not been, hitherto, so softening
as the austerity of a severer age apprehended. Extreme comfort, in
an energetic race, produces healthy reactions. It leads directly to
_ennui_, and _ennui_ leads to a desire for a more active physical life.
The age of the first-class carriage is also the age of the velocipede.
The most comfortable classes in England are also the most addicted to
field sports.

[Sidenote: Comfort favourable to Health.]

The truth is that the kinds of comfort most appreciated in England
include several things which are very favourable to health, especially
spacious habitations, pure air, plenty of water, thorough cleanliness,
and good food. The increase of comfort has been accompanied by an
increase of temperance. It has led to no serious evil, save one.

[Sidenote: The Strain of Expense.]

[Sidenote: Comfort combined with Anxiety.]

The one evil is the trying strain of expense to which an extremely
high standard of living subjects all except the rich. It keeps all
current expenses high, and therefore weighs pitilessly on those who
must be refined and have not large independent means. A prudent young
Englishman may well hesitate before he enters upon marriage with the
prospect of a large house full of children and servants in which no
shabbiness, bareness, or imperfection is to be tolerated. So far as
pecuniary prudence is concerned, he would probably do better to fill a
stable with fine horses. The Archbishop of Canterbury, whilst lamenting
the early marriages of the improvident classes, has declared that
the young men in the comfortable classes “are giving up the idea of
marriage.” This is the visible result. There is another consequence
not so visible to the world in the harassed lives of unnumbered heads
of families, the men whose days and nights are a combination of bodily
comfort with mental toil and anxiety, the men to whom physical hardship
would come, if they could only have it, as a counter-irritant and

[Sidenote: Comfort little known in France.]

[Sidenote: French Habitations.]

There has been little about the French in this chapter, and what there
is to say may be expressed in few words. They have not naturally a
genius for comfort like the English. Their natural way of living is
hard in poverty and luxurious in riches, austerity and luxury equally
belonging to the French nature. Of comfort they know what they have
imperfectly learned from their English neighbours. At Versailles, in
the days of Louis XIV., there was dazzling splendour, but comfort was
utterly unknown. Modern French country houses (I mean those built for
rich people in the second half of the nineteenth century) are planned
as intelligently as the English, but the older châteaux were incredibly
rough and wanting in the most elementary arrangements. Even yet, in the
old provincial towns, French people put up with lodgings so awkwardly
planned that an Englishman would not rent them. New town houses are
better contrived, but still deficient in space.

[Sidenote: Luxury less Indispensable than Comfort.]

The question of expenditure is favourable to the French in this way,
that they do without luxury more easily than the English do without
comfort. The Frenchman in adversity falls back on the austere side of
his nature; being both Sybarite and Spartan, he has the Spartan half of
himself always ready for hard times. An impoverished French gentleman
lodges in bare small rooms and lives principally on soup.[64] It is
ten times harder for an Englishman to give up his spacious house with
carpets on the floors.

[Sidenote: Comfort and Luxury equally Costly.]

The expenses of those who can afford to live largely are the same in
both countries. Comfort, in the ideal English degree, is not less
costly than luxury, though a careful analysis of details would prove
that it is not precisely the same thing.



[Sidenote: Want of a common Standard.]

It is most difficult to fix any common standard of luxury in two
different nations. In a single nation the question whether an
indulgence may be considered luxurious or not is settled by the
national public opinion. There is no public opinion common to France
and England.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of Definition.]

Even the definition of the word “luxury” is not so easy as it seems.
In practice, people define it for themselves according to their own
characters. An austere person would condemn as luxury what another
would call “comfort;” a very luxurious person would be proud of luxury
as a proof of taste and cultivation.

[Sidenote: Littré’s Definition.]

[Sidenote: Lafaye’s Definition.]

Littré defined luxury (_luxe_) as “magnificence in dress, in the
table, in furniture, an abundance of sumptuous things.” He made a
curious distinction between luxury and sumptuousness. In his opinion
sumptuousness expressed the costliness of things, whilst luxury was
the taste for what is sumptuous. Lafaye, in his valuable dictionary
of French synonyms, carried out the same idea further in the region
of morals. He said that luxury might belong to all conditions of
life, whereas magnificence and sumptuousness can only belong to lofty
positions. In Lafaye’s opinion luxury is a fault or a vice which
consists in the want of simplicity, or in offending against simplicity
in one’s manner of living, or in his way of doing things, or of showing
himself. Magnificence and splendour in great personages or in great
cities are not vices, according to Lafaye, but the expression of
generosity and grandeur.

[Sidenote: Cheap Pleasures not considered Luxurious.]

In private life the idea of luxury is connected more nearly with
expense than with enjoyment. Very cheap things are not considered
luxuries, though they may be delightful. A shepherd on a hillside has
access to a cool fountain, and in a hot summer he delights in drinking
the water and in resting under the shade of the trees. These are
clearly enjoyments of sense, and exquisite enjoyments, but they are not
luxuries for the shepherd. Iced water and green shade are luxuries in
the heart of Paris. In a good fruit year peaches, however delicious,
are not luxuries in central France, neither was wine in the happy times
before the phylloxera. The former abundance of wine has led to the free
employment of it in French cookery. This always strikes English people
as luxurious.

[Sidenote: Necessaries fixed by Custom.]

Independently of cheapness and abundance, the exigencies of custom
often determine that an indulgence is to be considered necessary, and
not a luxury, when in reality it is quite superfluous. Thus, carpets
are a necessity in England, in and above the middle classes, and a
luxury in France.

[Sidenote: Various Developments of Luxury.]

Luxury develops itself in different directions, even with reference to
the same enjoyment. The rich English and French both spend freely on
the pleasures of the table, but in England there is more pride in the
luxury of the service, and in France in that of the cookery.

[Sidenote: Exotic Indulgences of the English.]

One difference in the luxury of the two countries is that the English
are much more exotic in their indulgences than the French. Nearly all
English luxuries come from abroad, whilst by far the greater part of
French luxuries are procured at home. This may be connected with the
broad, far-reaching, world-embracing character of the English intellect
in its contrast with the narrower and more national French mind.

A religious theorist has maintained that Divine Providence gives to
every nation, in the products of its own soil, whatever is best for
the inhabitants. If that is so, the French carry out the intentions
of Providence much more completely than the English, but they are
more favourably situated for conformity. The English, however, have
so completely adopted some foreign luxuries as almost to believe them
indigenous. In this way tea has become an English beverage, and it used
to be more English to drink port than claret, though port was equally
foreign and came from a greater distance.

[Sidenote: Domestic Servants.]

Supposing an Englishman and a Frenchman to be in the same rank of life,
and in a rank requiring servants, the Englishman will have twice or
three times as many domestics as the Frenchman, and their service will
be more accurate and minute than that in the French establishment.
The English domestics will be more showy in liveries, and there will
be altogether more visible grandeur about the service. In France
domestics are kept because they are useful; in England, because they
are ornamental.

[Sidenote: State and Elegance.]

[Sidenote: Luxury in Dress.]

[Sidenote: French Feminine Tendencies.]

[Sidenote: The Luxury of Renewal.]

The key to the luxuries of the two nations may be found in two words,
_state_ and _elegance_. The desire of the English heart is for _state_,
implying size in the house and numbers in the retainers. French
ambition contents itself with a few small rooms and few servants;
but it seeks distinction in elegance. French elegance, like that of
antiquity, begins with the person, especially in women. In all kinds
of feminine luxuries, particularly dress, France has kept the lead
and gives the laws to England. The Church of Rome has settled that
matter in her own authoritative and decided way by imposing simple and
permanent uniforms on all women who belong to religious congregations;
but her power, alas! is unequal to the far greater task of imposing a
simple and rational dress upon all women whatsoever. The true French
female mind, when left to its own devices, loves neither permanence
nor simplicity in costume; it desires the utmost elaboration combined
with incessant change. It employs thousands of _couturières_ in
cutting valuable materials into shreds to be worn for a few days or
hours. This modern changefulness has one good effect, it is certainly
on the side of cleanliness. The French luxury of to-day is far more
closely associated with cleanliness than that of preceding ages. It
is especially the luxury of _renewal_, first in dress, and also in
furniture and habitation. The reconstruction of Paris has substituted
clean streets, well lighted and well aired, for dirty and dark ones.
The same process, in minor degrees, has been going on throughout France.

[Sidenote: Luxury and Art.]

[Sidenote: Art and Austerity.]

[Sidenote: Beautiful Materials.]

[Sidenote: The _Bibelot_.]

[Sidenote: Commonplace Character of French Luxury.]

I cannot examine in this place the question concerning the association
between luxury and the Fine Arts. It is most difficult to state the
exact truth on so complicated a subject in a few words. Some of the
French are artistic, and many of them are luxurious, so that art and
luxury may be seen together in France; but they are not inseparably
connected, and for my part I regret the accidental association.
Nothing, in my opinion, can be nobler than the combination of artistic
grandeur in the things which affect the mind with austere simplicity
in those that touch the body. In the magnificent old French cathedrals
you have the most sublime and the most costly architecture above you
and around you, with a rush-bottomed chair to sit upon, like the chairs
in the humblest cottage. In many an art gallery you have priceless
treasures on the walls; but neither curtains for the windows nor
carpets for the floor. The most precious engravings are often framed
with a beading of plain oak. The masterpieces of sculpture keep their
dignity best in rooms that are simple to severity. It is evident,
therefore, that the fine arts are absolutely independent of luxury;
but, on the other hand, it is also true that from the richness of the
materials employed in some of the fine arts a luxurious people may be
tempted to turn them to a lower use. Painting may be made luxurious
by the charm of colour, and also by sensuous or sensual suggestions
in the work itself. Besides these attractions, the modern spirit of
luxury likes a picture as an excuse for decorating a room with a
massive and glittering gilt frame.[65] The marble of a statue is also
an agreeable thing to look upon, because it is smooth to the touch,
and so soon as we descend to the minor arts we find great numbers
of precious and pleasant materials which may be used as hangings or
wrought into exquisite furniture. The love of beautiful objects,
comprised in French under the convenient generic term _bibelot_, is
strongly characteristic of the present stage of ultra-civilisation. The
true sign of it is the search for the exquisite in all things. To live
on dainties and be always surrounded with softness, to have plenty of
amusing and expensive toys, is the end of the luxurious modern French
development of the human faculties. How familiar, how commonplace, this
life of luxury has become, and how many far higher and more estimable
things are sacrificed to it! It is worse even than English comfort;
because it takes a false appearance of superior refinement. Only after
the first novelty has passed away do we discover that it is essentially
vulgar and dull, and truly the vanity of vanities.



[Sidenote: National and Class Codes.]

Codes of manners have a very restricted rule. They are national, and
in the nation each class has its own code. If, therefore, one nation
judges another by its own standard, it is evident that abstract justice
must be impossible; yet it is difficult to find any other criterion.

The reader may try to discover some criterion outside of national
peculiarities, but he will certainly meet with this difficulty, that
although people of different nations might be induced to agree about
some virtue that manners ought to have, they are not likely to agree
about its practical application and expression.

[Sidenote: Courtesy.]

For example, let us take the virtue of courtesy. Are people to be
courteous or discourteous? We should find an almost universal agreement
on the general principle that courtesy is a part of good manners; but
we should disagree on the application of it. As a rule, the Frenchman
would be likely to think the Englishman’s courtesy too restricted and
reserved. Much of it, and that the best, would even escape his notice,
whilst the Englishman would consider French politeness overdone.

[Sidenote: Difficulty of interpreting Manners.]

The great difficulty in judging such a question as this is that we
require to have been long accustomed to manners of a peculiar kind
before we can estimate them at their precise significance. If they
are new to us we do not understand them, we are not able to read the
thoughts and intentions which express themselves in forms as in a sort
of language.

[Sidenote: Epistolary Forms.]

The words used in epistolary forms are the most familiar example of the
_second_ meaning, the only true meaning that there is in forms of any
kind. If a superior in rank subscribes himself my obedient servant,
I know that his meaning is as remote as possible from the dictionary
sense of the words. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to suppose
that the words, as he uses them, are meaningless. Such a form, in
English, is intended to convey the idea of distance without contempt.
It is as much as to say, in familiar English, “I don’t know you, and
don’t care to know you; but I have no desire to be rude to you.” The
form _Dear Sir_, in English, has nothing to do with affection. It
means, “I know very little of you; but wish to avoid the coldness
of _Sir_ by itself.” _My dear Sir_ means something of this kind, “I
remember meeting you in society.”

[Sidenote: No French Equivalents for English Forms.]

A literal translation of these forms into French would entirely fail to
convey their significance. You must be on the most intimate terms with
a Frenchman before he will venture to address you as _Cher Monsieur_.
There is absolutely no form of address in French that translates the
meanings of _Dear Sir_ and _My dear Sir_. They can only be translated
by _Monsieur_, which fails to differentiate them from _Sir_.

[Sidenote: Severity of French Forms.]

The French forms used in writing to ladies are still more severe. “How
would you begin a letter to Madame L----?” I asked a French gentleman
who is a model of accuracy in etiquette:--

“Well, in the first place, I should never presume to write to Madame
L---- at all.”

“But if circumstances made it imperative that you should write to her?”

“In that case I should address her as _Madame_, simply, and at the
close of the letter beg her to accept _mes hommages respectueux_.”

Perhaps the reader imagines that the lady was a distant acquaintance;
no, she was the wife of a most intimate friend, and the two families
met very frequently. In this case the point of interest is that the
lady would have been addressed as a stranger from a want of flexibility
in the French forms.

There is a Frenchman who receives me with the utmost kindness
and cordiality whenever I visit his neighbourhood. We correspond
occasionally, and his letters begin “_Monsieur_” just as if he
had never seen me, ending with the expression of his “_sentiments

A _very_ intimate friend in France will begin a letter with _Mon cher
Ami_. I have only known three Frenchmen who used that form of address
to myself. Two or three others would begin _Cher Monsieur et Ami_,
mingling the formal with the affectionate. Englishmen hardly ever write
_My dear Friend_; that is now an American form.

[Sidenote: French Ceremony.]

The French tendency to be ceremonious is not confined to
letter-writing. It comes upon French people in personal intercourse in
a curiously occasional way. I remember a physician, now dead, who had
excellent French manners of the old school. He talked with great ease
and without the least affectation, but on all those little occasions
when a Frenchman feels bound to be ceremonious he was so in the supreme
degree. After talking quite easily and intimately with some lady whom
he had known for many years, he would rise to take leave with graceful
old-fashioned attitudes and phrases, as if she were far his superior in
rank and he had spoken to her for the first time.

[Sidenote: Old-fashioned French Manners.]

[Sidenote: Reduction of old Forms.]

It has happened to me to know rather intimately six or eight old
French gentlemen who retained the manners which had come down from the
eighteenth century. They evidently took a pleasure, perhaps also some
pride, in being able to go through forms of politeness gracefully, and
without error. An Englishman would find it difficult to do that in
equal perfection, his northern nature would not take quite so fine a
polish. Even amongst French people, as manners become more democratic,
these old forms are continually reduced. They are no longer considered
indispensable, and the younger men, who have not continually practised
them, are not sufficiently skilful actors to play ceremonious parts
with ease.[66]

[Sidenote: Convenience of Formal Phrases.]

It is very difficult for a non-ceremonious people to understand the
precise value of old ceremonial forms. Even the poor and meagre
survivals of them seem devoid of meaning to those who do not practise
them at all, yet assuredly they had a meaning which was not exactly
that of the words employed. After much reflection and much studying
of the matter, as a barbarian, from the outside, I have come to the
conclusion that a great repertory of formal phrases would be valued as
a means of decently concealing the emptiness of genteel intercourse. To
us they are embarrassing because we have not learned our lesson well,
but the French upper classes of the eighteenth century knew them all
by heart, and could repeat them without thinking. When people take any
serious interest in a subject worth talking about, polite phrases are
forgotten, the only instance to the contrary that I remember being the
pretty one of a French professor lecturing in the royal presence, when
he announced that two gases would “have the honour of combining before
His Majesty.”

[Sidenote: Embarrassments of Social Intercourse.]

The real embarrassments of social intercourse are awkward silence,
stiffness, ignorance of conventional usages. As for the degree of
affectation or falsity that there may be in the expression of so many
amiable or deferential sentiments that one does not exactly feel,
everybody knows that they have only a secondary signification.

[Sidenote: Our Opinion about Foreign Manners.]

[Sidenote: English Simplicity.]

In any attempt to judge of manners, especially in a foreign nation,
we are liable to two mistakes. We are likely to think that a degree
of polish inferior to our own is rudeness, whilst the refinement
that surpasses ours is affectation, we ourselves having exactly that
perfection of good breeding which is neither one nor the other. An
Englishman is particularly liable to think in this way, because
the present English ideal of good manners is a studied simplicity.
We come to think that a simple manner is unaffected, whilst high
polish must have been learned from the etiquette-book. However, in a
perfectly bred French gentleman, a somewhat ceremonious manner with a
vigilant politeness is so habitual as to be second nature. It remains
constantly the same; if it were only assumed, it would be involuntarily
forgotten in privacy or in moments of fatigue or vexation.

The history of the relation between English and French manners may be
conveniently divided into three periods.

[Sidenote: Manners in the Eighteenth Century.]

[Sidenote: The French retain old Fashions.]

In the eighteenth century manners were ceremonious in both countries.
English people used “Sir” and “Madam,” they bowed and were punctilious,
they went through complicated little performances of graceful attitudes
and expressions. In the first half of the nineteenth century the
English laid these old fashions aside and became simple in their
manners. The French kept to the ancient ways, and so there was a great
contrast. In the second half of the nineteenth century the French
tendency is towards English simplicity, so that the two nations may
ultimately be as near each other in simplicity as they were once in

[Sidenote: Politeness co-existing with Rudeness.]

[Sidenote: A Future of Mediocrity.]

Another point of resemblance may deserve notice. When the English were
very ceremonious and polite the ordinary manners of the nation were
rude, with occasional explosions of coarse anger between gentlemen.[67]
So the French have been, and still are, at once a very polite and
a very rude nation. Their politeness and their rudeness are now
decreasing together, which leads to the conclusion that ceremonious
politeness is a defence against surrounding barbarism, and therefore
the mark of an imperfect state of general civilisation. There may come,
in the future, in both countries, a uniform mediocrity, when everybody
will have tolerable manners, when a sort of informal serviceableness
will be the universal rule, and all graces, delicacies, and refinements
will be forgotten.

[Sidenote: Mill on French and English Intercourse.]

The reader may remember a passage in John Mill’s autobiography, where
he makes a contrast between English and French manners in connection
with his early residence in France at Sir Samuel Bentham’s house near
Montpellier. “I even then felt,” he says, “though without stating it
clearly to myself, the contrast between the frank sociability and
amiability of French personal intercourse, and the English mode of
existence, in which everybody acts as if everybody else (with few or
no exceptions) was either an enemy or a bore. In France, it is true,
the bad as well as the good points, both of individual and of national
character, come more to the surface, and break out more fearlessly in
ordinary intercourse, than in England; but the general habit of the
people is to show, as well as to expect, friendly feeling in every one
towards every other, wherever there is not some positive cause for the
opposite. In England it is only of the best bred people, in the upper
or middle ranks, that anything like this can be said.”

[Sidenote: English Dignity.]

[Sidenote: English Hospitality.]

This judgment is at the same time bold and true. The English do not
care about any reputation for politeness, but do greatly care about
their dignity, and are extremely afraid of compromising it by being
_incautiously_ amiable. When, however, an Englishman knows you, and
has come to the conclusion that he can be amiable with safety,
that you are not the pushing person he dreads and detests, then his
undemonstrative politeness will go much further than that of the
Frenchman. You may know Frenchmen for twenty years without getting
beyond that first stage of Gallic sociability that gives such a charm
to the beginning of intercourse with them. One cause of this difference
is that the English are an extremely hospitable people, and the French
just the reverse. Acquaintance with French people is therefore very
frequently limited to short formal calls, in which everybody acts a
part in repeating polite commonplaces, leaving any mutual knowledge of
minds and hearts exactly where it was before.

[Sidenote: Excessive Politeness as Defence.]

Here is another point of contrast that may be worth mentioning. French
gentlemen in their intercourse with the middle classes often use an
_excessive_ politeness as a defence against intimacy, and this is
perfectly understood. English habits would make excessive politeness
unnatural, so the Englishman defends himself by a chilling reserve. The
purpose is the same in both cases.

[Sidenote: The Personal Intention in Manners.]

[Sidenote: Dignity, and Polish.]

[Sidenote: Virtues of English Behaviour Negative.]

[Sidenote: Those of French Behaviour Positive.]

Manners always represent an ideal of some kind. The English way of
behaviour seems to stand for dignity, the French for grace. Manners
in both countries are more the representation of self in outward
forms than any evidence of real consideration for the person to whom
they are addressed. The Englishman wishes to convey the idea that he
himself has dignity, that he is a gentleman; the Frenchman is anxious
to show that he is a witty and accomplished man of the world. In
England dignity is maintained by coldness, by repose, by the absence
of effort, including low-toned, indolent enunciation; in France the
notion of polish requires, above all things, brilliance. The English
criticism on a Frenchman’s manners is that he lays himself out too
much for admiration, and seems to beg for sympathy too much. French
criticism on an Englishman’s manners is simply that he is destitute
of manners. It is almost idle to compare two styles of behaviour that
are founded on different principles. Without pretending to pronounce
upon the merits of either, I should say that the virtues of English
behaviour are chiefly of a negative kind, and those of French behaviour
positive. An Englishman is pleasant because he is _not_ noisy, _not_
troublesome, _not_ obtrusive, _not_ contradictory, and because he has
the tact to avoid conversational pitfalls and precipices. The Frenchman
is agreeable because he _is_ lively, _is_ amusing, _is_ amiable, _is_
successful in the battle against dulness, and will take trouble to make
conversation interesting.

[Sidenote: Bad Manners in France and England.]

Bad manners in England are simply boorish; in France they are noisy,
insolent, and full of contradiction. A thoroughly vulgar Frenchman is
overbearing and menacing in his tone, he is loud and positive, and if
you attempt to speak he will interrupt you. In his presence one has no
resource but silence. Even his own more civilised countrymen consider
him unendurable.

[Sidenote: Manners and Locality.]

[Sidenote: Industrialism.]

Manners change greatly with localities in Great Britain and France,
and it is remarkable that they are often worst in the most industrious
and advanced parts of the country. In the Highlands of Scotland,
where industrial civilisation is almost unknown, popular manners are
excellent; in some parts of the Lowlands they are rude, repellent,
and unsympathetic. The best popular English manners are to be found
in certain rural districts, the worst in thriving and energetic
Lancashire. Too much energy seems unfavourable to the best behaviour,
which grows to perfection amongst idlers, or in agricultural and
pastoral communities, where folks work in a leisurely fashion and have
many spare moments on their hands.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Sidenote: Non-national Exceptions.]

[Sidenote: G. H. Lewes.]

In the course of this chapter I have avoided exceptions for the sake
of clearness, which makes it necessary to add that there are people
in both nations whose manners are not national. It is not an English
characteristic to be a lively and brilliant _causeur_, yet there are
Englishmen who have that quality and that art. The manners of George
Henry Lewes were more French than English; he had the openness and ease
of a Frenchman, his frank welcome, his gay cordiality, his abundant
flow of words, his natural delight in conversation, his unhesitating
self-confidence. There is also a small class of Frenchmen who have
those qualities in manners which are believed to be exclusively
English. They are quiet and reserved, they listen well, they never
interrupt, they do not attempt to shine. When they talk, they talk
deliberately, and in the purest language, never condescending to use
the slang which is now rapidly corrupting the French tongue, and they
employ terms accurately without French exaggeration. They are polite,
but with an intelligent moderation, and they make no show of politeness.

These are exceptions on the favourable side. There are also innumerable
exceptions which are nothing but a variety of individual failures to
approach the national ideal. It is useless to attempt the description
of these. All comic and satirical literature takes them for its own.



[Sidenote: _Le Décorum anglais._]

The French laugh at the English for their “_décorum anglais_,” as if
the English were alone in having a strict rule about what is becoming.
The French themselves are equally strict, but in other ways, nor is
this strictness confined to the upper classes, for the French peasantry
have it in a marked degree.[68]

[Sidenote: Oversights in Decorum.]

[Sidenote: Japanese Bathing.]

[Sidenote: English Bathing in former Days.]

[Sidenote: A French Bather in England.]

The maintenance of decorum as a principle and a rule is compatible
with astonishing oversights and omissions which strike a foreigner
so forcibly that he thinks there no decorum at all. In these cases,
the foreigner’s mistake is usually to be unaware of some powerful
conventionalism by which decorum is theoretically maintained whilst
it is practically violated. Travellers in Japan are astonished by the
old Japanese system of bathing. One asks for a bath in a Japanese inn,
and it is prepared, perhaps, in the common room or the kitchen, in
the midst of the usual movement of men and women. Here, if anywhere,
is surely a gross violation of decorum. No; it appears that by a
convenient fiction a bather is not seen, and the same fiction allows
the Japanese themselves to bathe together without any separation of
sexes. When I was a boy there existed a certain conventionalism of the
same kind in England. In those days bathing-dresses were only used by
women, men always bathed in a state of complete nudity, and they were
frequently close to the sea-shore whilst ladies were walking about
and looking on. A French author gave, at that time or a little later,
an account of his embarrassment when bathing in a lonely place on the
shores of England. He had left his clothes on the beach, when some
ladies came and pitched their camp-stools on the spot. He splashed to
attract their attention, but they sat on, impassible. At length he
quitted the water and made a bold advance, but with no effect. Finally
he marched past, like a regiment at a review, and the ladies kept
their places. Nothing, in this little adventure, violates the English
decorum of former days. The Frenchman could not have presented himself,
like Adam, in a garden, but on the sea-beach _il n’y avait rien à
dire_. The ladies bravely acted on the fiction that a _sea_-bather is
invisible, and they consistently carried out that fiction to the end.
The Frenchman knew not that he had the ring of Gyges, the talisman of

[Sidenote: French Bathing.]

The French have a conventionalism about bathing-dresses which does not
exist in England to the same degree. French decorum permits men and
women to bathe together freely on condition that they have a costume.
At the sea-side a “full costume” is required, but that is not much, and
the feminine form of it is very pretty--rather too pretty, in fact, as
it is too obviously intended to attract eyes rather than turn them
away. Besides being pretty, the feminine bathing-dresses are extremely
varied, leaving free play to the inventive fancy. A puritan legislator
would feel tempted to replace those charming costumes by the plain old
English bathing-gown, which was doubly useful, as it concealed both
ugliness and beauty with equal impartiality.

[Sidenote: The Frenchman in his _Caleçon_.]

French decorum always requires a man to bathe at least with the minimum
of dress. Attired in his _caleçon de bain_ a Frenchman seems to think
that it covers the whole body, and he does not lose his self-possession
in any society, but will exhibit his short and muscular person to all

[Sidenote: Cantabridgian Actors.]

It may be noted as a curiosity of modern English decorum, that when the
young men at Cambridge played the _Birds_ of Aristophanes, their legs
and feet were bare in the Greek fashion. This would certainly not have
been done or tolerated in contemporary France, though the imitation of
antiquity went equally far under the first Empire, for example, in the
costume of Madame Tallien and her imitators.

[Sidenote: The Decorum of Classes.]

Every class has its own decorum. Amongst artists’ models there is a
kind of professional dignity which makes it disagreeable for the better
class of them to be seen by any one who is not an artist. A French girl
who was posing in an _atelier_ before thirty students screamed and
wrapped herself in a sheet because an unprofessional man had entered
the room. In this case there was some reason in the model’s conception
of decorum. She was there for her own hard work, but not to be stared
at by strangers.

[Sidenote: Natural Necessities.]

[Sidenote: Foolish Decorum.]

[Sidenote: An English Inconsistency.]

There is a very important practical question of decorum with regard to
natural necessities. Although no human being can escape from that law,
and although by mere healthy living we all openly confess that we have
conformed to it, a foolish decorum refuses to recognise it. In England
this foolish decorum has long been tyrannically prevalent, but railways
have done much to break it down by accustoming travellers of both sexes
to acknowledge without shame the existence of the need, and it has now
become customary in England to provide for it, both at railway stations
and in exhibitions. This is a triumph of reason which acknowledges
the whole of human nature over a conventionalism which would set up a
false and impossible ideal. There still remains the inconsistency by
which a need provided for by all railway companies and organisers of
exhibitions is ignored in the streets of the great English towns. This
way of treating the matter is, in truth, directly contrary to its own
purpose of an ideally decorous life, as these lower wants occupy a very
small space in a man’s time and thought when they can be immediately
satisfied, whereas they become intrusive and importunate when the
satisfaction is denied. In obedience to this unreasonable decorum the
English still inflict upon themselves very frequent inconvenience,
occasionally amounting to torture, and in some cases to serious
physical injury.[69]

[Sidenote: French Simplicity]

The French have always been more simple and natural in regard to these
matters; but they may be justly blamed for cynicism in the sound
original meaning of the word. They are now beginning to imitate the
English by establishing a proper degree of privacy. This is one of
those numerous cases in which the two countries may improve each
other’s customs.

[Sidenote: English Decorum chooses French Words.]

[Sidenote: Plain Language of the Bible.]

English decorum has a weakness in its choice of French words to express
what it will not venture to say in English, as if the French words were
not either equally plain for anybody who knew the language, or useless
for one who did not. There is a good old English word for a woman’s
shirt, the English for it is “shift,” which gives the cleanly idea of
a thing that is to be often changed. This word has been abandoned from
an unpatriotic modesty or prudery, and replaced by the French word
“chemise,” as if “chemise” were more decorous. In the same way “nude”
and “nudity” (French words) are somehow believed to be much more chaste
than “naked” and “nakedness,” and “enceinte” purer than “with child.”
This fancy for French terms is the more remarkable that the English
translation of the Bible, which is considered a model of pure and
dignified language, does not give the slightest encouragement to it,
but says everything in the plainest native way.

[Sidenote: Purification of Talk.]

[Sidenote: The Mayor of Eu.]

Liberty of language in conversation is very much a matter of dates. In
Queen Anne’s time people said things at English tables that would be
thought monstrous under Queen Victoria. In fact, at the present time,
the purification of talk has gone so far in England that people will
neither utter nor listen to what they constantly read in the newspapers
which lie about in their own rooms. In France there still remains a
certain old-fashioned tolerance, an inheritance from the eighteenth
century; but with this reserve or proviso, that every infraction of
strict decorum must be witty. On that condition it is likely to be
pardoned. The most astounding instance I ever heard of was the song
of the Mayor of Eu. That functionary was invited to the Château of
Eu, in the days of Louis Philippe, so he made or learned a song about
his mayoralty, and sang it to the royal family at dessert according
to the old-fashioned French usage. The composition had two senses,
one perfectly innocent and on the surface, the other not immoral but
prodigiously indecorous. The royal family understood, laughed, and
forgave. Such a thing might have been done in England at the court of
Queen Elizabeth. A President of the French Chamber, being annoyed by
one of the members, saw an opportunity for a witticism like those of
the audacious mayor. It was a pun on the member’s name, and all parties
in the House received it with unanimous appreciation.

[Sidenote: Recent Character of present English Decorum.]

[Sidenote: A sign of Maturity.]

To estimate these breaches of decorum justly, we must remember how
extremely recent the present English decorum is. It belongs almost
exclusively to the present century, and is the mark of maturity in
the public mind. In the youth of nations, as in that of individuals,
grossness of a certain kind seems amusing. It makes schoolboys
laugh, even when it is quite devoid of wit; and I have said that in
contemporary French society it is tolerated only on condition of being
witty. English society is older and graver, older by a hundred years,
just as it is more experienced in politics and religion, having got
through its great political and religious crises earlier.

[Sidenote: External Strictness of Immoral Societies.]

[Sidenote: French Reserve.]

Here, as in other things, there are inequalities that quite put out
the inexperienced observer. He is likely to imagine that the French
have no decorum because he believes them to be immoral. He forgets
that decorum is often of itself the morality of immoral societies, as
going to church is the religion of the worldly. Venetian society, in
Byron’s time, was extremely strict, not as to the realities of conduct,
but in regard to certain outward appearances. French society, in the
present day, is more strict in some respects than either English or
Scotch. The behaviour of English girls, and still more that of American
girls, is not positively wrong or immoral in French opinion, but it is
indecorous. Even married ladies, in French country towns, have to be
extremely careful not to incur the censure of public opinion, and in
some towns they live in a kind of half-oriental retirement that English
readers could not realise or believe. Before marriage anything more
intimate than respectful politeness on the part of the gentleman, and
reserve on that of the lady, is looked upon as a sign of ill breeding.
After the marriage the husband’s masculine friends may remain for
twenty years very distant acquaintances of his wife. It is certain
that, in general, French decorum keeps up a much stronger barrier
between the sexes than English decorum does.

[Sidenote: French Decorum in regard to the Dead.]

The French, too, are stricter observers of decorum in regard to the
dead. They are very careful about funerals, and about subsequent
references to the dead, either in ceremonies, such as visits to the
tomb and services for the repose of the soul, or in conversation. The
obligations felt by the living in consequence of a death are more
stringent and more widely spread in France than in England. A French
lady who knew her countrymen well enumerated a few things which were
essential to any one who lived amongst them; and one of the chief
of these was attendance at funerals, just as in Scotland one would
recommend the observance of the Sabbath.

[Sidenote: Decorum and Democracy.]

The principle of decorum being the study of external appearances, it is
not likely to be much observed by an excited and turbulent democracy.
Still, a kind of artistic instinct desires decorum, and re-establishes
it even after the most violent commotions. It is interesting to see
how regularly and inevitably it has been re-established in France, so
soon as a new form of government has been settled. M. Mollard, the
Introducer of Ambassadors, was the Grand Master of Decorum for the
Élysée, and had as much to occupy him as a Lord Chamberlain.

[Sidenote: Decorum in Literature.]

[Sidenote: _Manon Lescaut._]

[Sidenote: Modern French Literature.]

Decorum in literature and the fine arts is quite distinct from
morality. A book may be irreproachably decorous, yet very immoral at
the same time, and this is a combination that many readers seem to
approve of. I could hardly mention a better instance of it than the
famous little novel _Manon Lescaut_, by the Abbé Prévost, a French
classic made still more famous in recent times by the opera which
Massenet founded upon it. That is one of the most immoral books
ever written; the situations are doubly and triply immoral; there
is no sense of conduct in the leading personages, who are vicious
and unprincipled in all their dealings; yet, at the same time, the
author is much more decorous (according to modern ideas) than either
Swift or Sterne. Critics who condemn modern novels as being “filthy,”
because the sexual arrangements in them are lawless, are inexact in the
application of their censure. In the French literature of the present
day the combination of decorum with immorality is very common; and
decorum is so far from acting as an effective restraint upon immorality
that under certain circumstances it positively favours it. Immoral
writers know how to conciliate the slaves of decorum, and win not only
their tolerance, but even their protection.

[Sidenote: English Decency.]

[Sidenote: Divorce Reports in France and England.]

The English deserve great respect for the general decency of their
modern literature, and certainly they get this respect even from the
French themselves. But there are some curious anomalies in connection
with this subject. English decorum permits the publication of details
in the reports of divorce cases which French decorum absolutely
forbids. The French tolerate certain matters provided that they be
fictitious, the English on condition that they be real. The French
admit disgusting art, the English disgusting nature. The French
novelist may be more attractive, but the English newspaper reporter is
a thousand times more impressive, having all the force of reality on
his side. The fictitious adulteress is but a phantom in comparison with
the living beauty who is seen and heard in a court of justice; and what
fall of an imaginary hero ever impressed us like that of the gifted
and ambitious politician who barred his own path to the premiership of

[Sidenote: English Indulgence towards indecorous old Books.]

It strikes one, too, as rather surprising that the English, whose sense
of decorum is so easily offended by modern authors of books, should
still be so indulgent to those who wrote before modern decorum was
invented. Young maids and old maids read Shakespeare in unexpurgated
editions; but what is still more surprising is that many English people
should go out of their way to express admiration for Rabelais. Have
they read him? Can they understand his old French? If they can, and
read him still, they need not be afraid of Zola.

Being in the house of an English clergyman, I found on the shelves of
his library a copy of Byron’s works in the one-volume edition. That
edition includes _Don Juan_, but my clerical friend had excluded the
poem, I found, by cutting every leaf of it out. I do not question
his right to spoil a volume he had paid for, but what struck me as
inconsistent was the reverent preservation, on the same shelves, of a
complete Shakespeare in large print. Byron is incomparably the more
decorous poet of the two, but he is not protected, as Shakespeare is,
by a date. Shakespeare wrote before the invention of decorum, and
therefore could not offend against that which did not exist. Byron
wrote after its invention, and offended against it consciously and
deliberately. The indecency of old authors is not only pardoned in a
decorous age, but valued as a release from contemporary strictness.
Some of them, particularly in France, are now reprinted in luxurious
editions _for_ their indecency, which is highly appreciated now.

[Sidenote: English and French Comic Papers.]

In spite of these and other inconsistencies, and notwithstanding the
recent efforts of some English poets to recover a certain licence,
it is certain that decorum is better observed in English literature
than in French. One of the best signs of matured health in the English
mind is its capacity for wit and humour without the coarse and facile
expedient of indecorous allusion. The far superior decency of the
English comic papers is combined with superior wit. The inanity of the
French illustrations of the _Demi-monde_ is equalled only by their
excessive sameness. Men like Leech and Charles Keene have attained far
more variety by studying respectable Englishwomen, who are occupied
in a thousand ways, than Grévin could ever get out of the monotonous
lives of his French _lorettes_. Nor is the reason for this difficult
to discover. The life of vice is essentially dull, because the women
are usually uneducated; and the men themselves become half idiotic,
not only through excesses of all kinds, but in consequence of their
frivolous waste of time.

[Sidenote: The Naked Figure in Art.]

[Sidenote: Study of the Figure.]

[Sidenote: Sir F. Leighton.]

[Sidenote: French Sculpture.]

In serious art the naked figure is more frequently presented in
France than in England, and it is quite customary in England to look
upon it as a French evil. I need hardly remind the reader that the
country where the naked figure was first studied with attention was
not France, but Greece, and that every nation where art has been a
serious pursuit has sedulously revived that study. It is trying to the
patience to attempt any reasoning with people who can see nothing but
lasciviousness in the higher forms of art. It seems to me natural that
men who have devoted years to the study of the human form should desire
to express their knowledge in works more important than the studies
they make for their private use, in works that may have some possible
chance of immortality. The study itself can never be repressed. The
clothed figures in pictures that the Philistine does not object to can
only be drawn well by a student of the nude. Many artists, like the
President of the Royal Academy, first take the praiseworthy trouble to
draw every figure naked, even when it is draped afterwards. Why the
objection should be so specially raised against French art I do not
know, unless it be for the same reason which makes people cry aloud
against French immorality and pass in charitable silence Italian and
Austrian immorality. As a matter of fact, with a few exceptions, the
French school of sculpture is as dignified as it is learned.

[Sidenote: French Painting.]

[Sidenote: Realism.]

French painting is less dignified because nearer to ordinary nature,
but the fault to be found with it is chiefly that the nude figures of
the present day are insufficiently idealised; it is not indecency as
such, but a low prosaic realism that has established itself in this
art; you do not meet with a nymph or a dryad, but with a portrait of
some model. I remember hearing a French artist (himself an exhibitor
of severely ideal nude figures) maintain that the nude by itself was
decent, and so was clothing, but he abominated the two in the same
picture. There have been plenty of examples of this unnatural union
in past times, and in pictures which are now the pride of the great
galleries; however, the most important contemporary instance is not a
French picture but an Austrian, the _Entry of Charles the Fifth into
Antwerp_, by Hans Makart.





[Sidenote: Caste not abolished.]

England and France are alike in this, that caste is not yet abolished
in either country, and they also resemble each other in passing through
a state of false caste which appears to be intermediary between true
caste and a future casteless condition of society. The two nations
differ, however, in the kinds of false caste through which they are
passing, and the purpose of the present chapter will be to examine the
nature of the difference.

[Sidenote: True Caste.]

True caste is a social condition existing by authority and general
consent, in which every human being has, by birth, his fixed place in
the social organism, and receives exactly the degree of respect or
contempt which is accorded to the place independently of his personal
efforts or qualities.

[Sidenote: False Caste.]

The state of false caste is a condition of things in which there is
still a sort of social hierarchy, but the positions in it are neither
fixed nor well defended, so that impostors may get possession of them
and enjoy the consideration which formerly belonged only to those
who were born in the caste. This is the present condition of England
and France, in different ways and in different degrees. It is better
than true caste in giving openings to ability, but worse in offering
temptations and prizes to imposture.

[Sidenote: The Aristocratic Spirit.]

The caste spirit is not by any means confined to an aristocracy.
The social state of true caste includes all classes of society,
fixing the relative inferiorities of the humble as strictly as the
superiorities of the great. It will be convenient, however, to consider
the aristocratic spirit first and by itself. Are there still genuine
aristocracies in England and France?

I have observed elsewhere that England has been able to pass through a
highly convenient intermediate stage, that of an aristocratic republic,
preserving monarchical appearances, and that France has not been able
to do this, not having the kind and quality of aristocracy that was
necessary for the work. I said this, but I did not say (what some
Englishmen believe) that France has no real aristocracy at all.

[Sidenote: Aristocratic Spirit in France.]

On the contrary, I agree with Littré in the belief that the real
aristocratic spirit still lives vigorously in France, but only in the
aristocracy itself; and I should say that the great difference between
England and France in this respect is that _what there is_ of the
aristocratic spirit in England is shared by classes outside of the
aristocracy, whereas in France very few people have the aristocratic
sentiment unless it has been implanted in them by the traditions of
an aristocratic house, and cultivated by a training apart from the
ordinary training of Frenchmen.

[Sidenote: English Aristocratic Spirit.]

Again, it does not appear that the aristocratic spirit in England,
though widely diffused, is of a pure or elevated kind. Perhaps it may
be for this very reason, perhaps it is just because it is not pure or
elevated, that it is so general and so commonly understood.

[Sidenote: Title the Sanction of Wealth.]

[Sidenote: The Tennyson Peerage.]

The want of purity and elevation in the present English ideal of
aristocracy is evident from the undeniable fact that title is now
little more than a supreme sanction given to the popular adoration of
wealth. From the idea that it is inconvenient for a peer of England to
be poor, a further advance has been made to the idea that a very rich
man has a sort of claim to a title; and when peerages are bestowed on
obscure men as a reward for having enriched themselves, the proceeding
is thought so natural as to excite no comment, except, perhaps, from
Mr. Labouchere. When, on the other hand, a distinguished man, not
exceptionally rich, is made the recipient of a peerage, his promotion
is a surprise to the public, unless it can be explained as a reward
for political services to the party that happens to be in power. The
Tennyson peerage is a curious example of this. Some friends of the Poet
Laureate thought it rather a degradation for a man of genius to accept
the prize of a lower ambition than that which they had believed to be
his, whilst his enemies made quotations from _Maud_, applicable to new
titles and new mansions. If Tennyson had been a successful brewer or
banker, nobody would have made a remark; his peerage would not have
been considered either above him or below him, but simply the natural
English consecration of new riches.

[Sidenote: Victor Hugo’s Peerage.]

Forty years before the elevation of Tennyson to the English peerage,
his contemporary, Victor Hugo, was made a peer of France. It is
probable that not a single Frenchman perceived anything incongruous in
that promotion, or wondered whether the new peer had money enough to
support his dignity.

[Sidenote: Matthew Arnold on Aristocracy.]

The reader may call to mind a few strong words of Matthew Arnold about
the present condition of aristocracy in England: “Aristocracy now sets
up in our country a false ideal, which materialises our upper class,
vulgarises our middle class, brutalises our lower class. It misleads
the young, makes the worldly more worldly, the limited more limited,
the stationary more stationary.”

These evils are due to the transformation of the English aristocracy
into a plutocracy that is not, as in America, a plainly avowed
plutocracy, but disguises itself in aristocratic costumes.

[Sidenote: Distinction of a true Aristocracy.]

[Sidenote: Money not the highest Object.]

[Sidenote: The Army.]

[Sidenote: The Church.]

[Sidenote: Hostility to the Fine Arts.]

[Sidenote: Commerce.]

The distinction of a true aristocracy is that it is _not_ a plutocracy,
but a noble caste, including poor members as well as rich, and having
certain ideals which, however foreign they may be to the spirit of
the present age, did certainly, in their own time, tend to lift men
and women above vulgarity. The most ennobling of those ideals was the
notion that money was not the highest object of pursuit. The poor
gentleman could be contented with ill-paid service in the army or the
Church, because he did not serve for money; and it was believed within
the caste, rightly or wrongly, that to labour for pecuniary rewards
as the main object had a degrading effect upon the mind. The army was
a chosen profession, because it was the school of courage, obedience,
and self-sacrifice; the Church, because it was the school of piety and
morality, as well as the home of learning. I know that I am describing
a narrow ideal, but most ideals that have had any power in the world
have been narrow, and I am anxious to show how in the old aristocratic
prejudices there were elements of real nobleness, which may have given
them dignity and vitality. Those prejudices were hostile to some things
that we now value. They were hostile, for example, to the pursuit of
the fine arts, but it was from an apprehension, which I now see to have
been only too well founded, that in struggling for the acquirement
of brilliant manual skill, the student might spend his efforts on
a low object. Those prejudices looked doubtfully upon commerce; it
was thought that a gentleman did better not to go into trade; but
the reason was because a heavy business ties a man down so much, and
leaves him so little leisure for study or society, so little liberty
for travel, that it is really somewhat of a misfortune to be fastened
to such a business during the best years of youth and manhood. This
aristocracy was selfish, but its selfishness was of a high kind. It was
not given up either to avarice or to self-indulgence, but it valued
what is best in life.

[Sidenote: Mr. Bagehot’s Defence of Titles.]

The reader may remember how Mr. Bagehot defended titles on the ground
that they counterbalanced in some degree the power of wealth by setting
up something else to be respected, and he even argued that title was a
roundabout means of making intelligence respected:--

[Sidenote: Nobility the Symbol of Mind.]

“Nobility is the symbol of mind. It has the marks from which the mass
of men always used to infer mind, and often still infer it. A common
clever man who goes into a country place will get no reverence, but
the ‘old squire’ will get reverence. Even after he is insolvent, when
every one knows that his ruin is but a question of time, he will get
five times as much respect from the common peasantry as the newly-made
rich man who sits beside him. The common peasantry will listen to his
nonsense more submissively than to the new man’s sense. An old lord
will get infinite reverence. His very existence is so far useful that
it awakens the sensation of obedience to a _sort_ of mind.”

[Sidenote: Objection to Mr. Bagehot’s Theory.]

This passage contains, I think, a condemnation of the very use of
nobility that the author intended to eulogise. If the common peasantry
will listen more submissively to the nonsense of an old squire than
they will to a new man’s sense, it is hard to see how aristocracy, in
this instance, can be really on the side of mind. Again, if the old
lord gets infinite reverence, whether he is wise or foolish, it is a
mere chance whether the reverence is favourable to the influence of
mind or against it. If the old lord is a fool, and there is a wise man
in the neighbourhood who is not listened to because the lord has the
ear of the peasantry, the strength of title is not the candlestick of
mind, but its extinguisher.

[Sidenote: Value of Political Fame in England.]

Frenchmen who write about England usually remark that mind is
overshadowed by aristocracy; that mediocrities with titles get more
consideration, and are listened to more respectfully, than better men
without them. The exact truth is more as follows. Political celebrity
in England is quite as strong as title. Any one who has the ear of
the House of Commons, however humble his birth, is listened to in the
country quite as attentively, quite as respectfully, as a lord. But
title certainly overshadows literary and artistic celebrity. Not that
this is of any real importance, for literary and artistic celebrity
is not in its nature powerful, except over the intelligent, who are a
minority in every population.

[Sidenote: Aristocracy a School of Refinement.]

If the aristocracies have not done much for the intellectual life, or
for art, they have been serviceable in setting up a model of generally
refined life, not for people of culture specially, but for all who
had means enough to copy it. This is not to be despised. A real
aristocracy is a school of national refinement, and nations that are
destitute of an aristocracy have to look to some fluctuating upper
class, less perfectly regulated than aristocracy is by hereditary

[Sidenote: Also a School of Contentment.]

[Sidenote: Aristocracy favourable to Simplicity of Life.]

Again, an aristocracy is a school of contentment. In conjunction with
its natural ally, the Church, it encourages in every one a spirit
of contentment with his lot in life, an acceptance of the lot as a
settled thing, which, though it is not favourable to progress, is
unquestionably favourable to happiness. A genuine aristocracy is also
favourable to simplicity of life in every _noblesse_ that has poor, yet
honoured members.

[Sidenote: Faults of the French _Noblesse_.]

[Sidenote: It has lost Political Leadership.]

The faults of the French _noblesse_ have not led to its absolute
destruction, for it still survives, but they have deprived it of
political power. Unteachableness, rigidity, want of sympathy with the
rest of the nation, lack of practical sense,--these are some of the
defects that have reduced the French aristocracy to a plight which,
politically speaking, is pitiable and without a future. Since they
allowed themselves to be enslaved by Louis XIV. the nobles have been
out of sympathy with the common people, and since the Revolution they
have been hostile to them, except in the way of charity to the poor. It
would, perhaps, be expecting too much of human nature to hope that an
ancient _noblesse_ could forget the rough treatment it received in the
first unreasoning outburst of popular vengeance; but it would not have
been so dealt with if it had lived less selfishly, and cared for other
interests than its own. It had brilliant intelligence, it had charming
graces, and all the _éclat_ of personal bravery, in combination with
the rarest degree of polish, yet it lost the due rewards of its
admirable superiorities by its unkind scorn of the _manant_ and the
_roturier_. The “_manant_” and the “_roturier_” avenged themselves
roughly when the time came. The people have improved their condition
wonderfully, but it has been entirely by their own efforts, the
consequence being that the aristocracy survives only as a caste, and
has no political leadership.

[Sidenote: Contempt for Work.]

[Sidenote: Contempt for Trade.]

The present influence of the aristocratic caste in France is an evil
influence in its discouragement of work. The caste includes a great
number of people who have all been brought up to despise and abstain
from the labour that earns bread. If the harm were confined to the
caste itself it would be only a limited evil--unfortunately, it extends
to all aspirants to aristocracy, to all the would-be genteel. This
throws a degree of relative discredit on all money-earning occupations
which certainly exceeds the prejudice of English gentility against
them. Even literature and the fine arts become degrading as soon
as they are lucrative,[70] a sentiment quite opposed to the more
intelligent modern opinion in France. All the forms of trade are
despicable for aristocrats, and when they hear of a family that has
been in trade they say, with an air of genteel ignorance about the
nature of the business, “_Ils ont vendu quelque chose_.” Their manners
towards shopkeepers are often unpleasant, and exhibit a degree of
_morgue_ that is peculiarly irritating to a French tradesman.

[Sidenote: The False _Noblesse_.]

[Sidenote: Great Scale of Usurpations.]

[Sidenote: New Recruits.]

An aristocratic caste may be an institution for which there is no
further necessity, it may be a survival that has become useless, but
one likes to see it genuine of its kind, even in its latter days.
Unfortunately the present French aristocracy, whilst encouraging idle
habits by its contempt for work, encourages habits of imposture by the
fatal facility with which it permits the encroachments of the false
_noblesse_. I have often wondered how the old noble families ever
tolerated these intruders, and I believe the only explanation to be
that the intruders are such sure and subservient allies in politics
and religion. It is really a system of recruiting.[71] The false noble
fortifies his position by all available means, and there are none
better than an ardent profession of those opinions that the genuine
aristocracy approves. I said long ago in _Round my House_ that the
particle “de,” which is popularly supposed to indicate nobility, was
extensively assumed by families belonging really to the _bourgeoisie_,
but I was not fully aware at that time on what a prodigiously extensive
scale these usurpations have been made. Here is a single example.
A public functionary, whose duties required frequent reference to
registers in a particular locality, told me that he had at first been
embarrassed by the changes of name in certain families. Plain names
of the _bourgeoisie_ had been laid aside for territorial designations
with the “de” before them, and it was difficult at first sight to
understand and remember these transformations. Having a curious and
investigating disposition, the functionary amused himself by tracing
out as many of these cases as he could discover, and he told me that
in a single neighbourhood he had found no less than fifty families who
had raised themselves into what is ignorantly but generally considered
to be the noble caste by the addition of the “de.” Amidst such an
influx of new recruits the authentic old nobility is, in these days,
completely overwhelmed. There being no strictly-kept peerage, as in
England, there is nothing authoritative to refer to, and an injurious
doubt is cast upon real coronets by the perplexing abundance of false
ones. Besides the “de,” the most positive titles are coolly assumed and
worn. You may meet with people who live in an old château and are very
_comme il faut_, very simple and well bred, without any appearance of
false pretension whatever, yet they have just one little bit of false
pretension--their title. They call themselves Count and Countess, yet
are not Count and Countess at all. Their fortune was made in business
two generations ago, and the château purchased, and the title of the
old family that once lived there gradually assumed by a too familiar

[Sidenote: Absence of a pure Caste in England.]

[Sidenote: Younger Branches.]

[Sidenote: New Peers.]

The French _noblesse_, as a caste, is spoiled by this intrusion and
acceptance of false nobles, but if there were not this fatal objection
it would be much more truly a caste than the British nobility and
gentry. There is, in fact, no pure and well-guarded upper caste in
England except simply the holders of titles. You may belong to the
highest nobility in England by descent, and there will be nothing
to distinguish you from a plebeian unless you are a son of the
representative of the family. In every genuine _noblesse_ noble blood
continues to bear some distinctive mark of caste. The English way is
more convenient, because it constantly throws off the poorer branches
into the general mixture that we vaguely call “the middle classes”;
the continental way of preserving a noble caste, even in its poorer
members, is more faithful to the principle of descent. The way of
selecting new men for the English peerage is also a violation of
the caste principle. They are not usually taken from well-descended
families, but from the new rich, and in this way we constantly see
men of low birth elevated to a position which instantly gives them
precedence over the most ancient untitled families in England. In
short, we live in a time of confusion between the true caste principle
and the true democratic principle, a confusion that will ultimately be
cleared away by the abolition of titles, though that is still in the
distant future. Meanwhile the new rich in France may fairly argue that
as they have not, like their English brethren, a sovereign to ennoble
them, they have no resource but to ennoble themselves.

[Sidenote: Abolition of Caste by Poverty.]

A moderate degree of poverty does not abolish caste in France,
provided that the nobleman is just able to maintain external decency
of appearance without working. In England it is impossible to maintain
high caste without a complete staff of domestics. In both countries
real poverty abolishes caste.

[Sidenote: Armorial Bearings.]

It is impossible in England to assume and maintain falsely the position
of a titled nobleman, but coats-of-arms are constantly assumed without
right, and it is not uncommon in these days for people to take a name
that does not belong to them by inheritance. If a plebeian Englishman
chooses to adopt the name, and the arms too, of an old family, he can
do so in perfect security.

I pass now from the noble to the professional castes.

[Sidenote: The Clergy.]

[Sidenote: Superiority of the Anglican Clergy.]

[Sidenote: The French Clergy.]

[Sidenote: The Religious Orders.]

[Sidenote: Social Position of the French Clergy.]

The clergy in England are said to form part of the aristocracy, but
this is true only of the Anglican clergy. The Dissenting clergy
form part of the middle classes. The Anglican clergy itself is less
aristocratic than it was in the earlier part of the nineteenth century;
in fact, its position has varied greatly from one century to another.
It is now said to be rather declining, as the clergy are recruited from
an inferior class, both as to position and ability. A father may put
his son into the Church because the lad is not keen-witted enough to be
a successful attorney, or because there is not capital enough in the
family to set him up as a manufacturer. There are also ways of entering
the Church without the training of Oxford or Cambridge. Nevertheless,
in spite of this decline, the Anglican clergy are still, as a body,
incomparably superior to the French Roman Catholic clergy in the social
sense. The French clergy are now almost exclusively recruited from
the humble classes. Nine out of ten are sons of peasants, the tenth
may be the son of an artisan or a gendarme. It is curious that the
French aristocracy, which _professes_ such deep respect for the Church,
should no longer supply recruits for the clergy. Fewer and fewer of
the sons of the _noblesse_ become priests every year, and those who
do now become priests shut themselves up in the religious orders, and
are of no use for the common work of the parishes, many of which are
left empty, in country places, for want of working priests to fill
them. It would seem as if it were no longer thought _comme il faut_ to
be a parish priest, whilst it may be _comme il faut_ to belong to one
of the recognised orders, such as the Marists, the Jesuits, etc. The
practical result is that in the country parishes many of the priests
are burdened with extra duty, sometimes far from their homes, merely
from an insufficient supply of ecclesiastics. This plain fact--which
I do not give merely on my own authority, but on that of a French
bishop who deplored it lately in an episcopal charge--is a valuable
commentary on that devotion to the Church which the French aristocracy
still professes so long as it entails no greater inconvenience than
a perfunctory attendance at mass. There is, consequently, a _social
severance_ between the clergy and the aristocracy, though there may be
a _political alliance_. The priest may have patrons in the château,
he may have real friends there, but his relations and his equals are
generally in the farm-houses.[72] The reason lies no deeper than the
obvious fact that the duties of a parish priest are irksome and his
life is austere. He is confined to one place, without amusements, and
with society limited to peasants and to the few gentry who happen to be
there for a part of the year only; his work is a continual servitude,
and it is never done. He is allowed by law to marry, but not by the
rules of his Church or the opinion of society, and his conduct is
watched with the most jealous and unceasing scrutiny. To devote oneself
to such an existence requires not merely the pretence to religious
belief but its reality. That, and that alone, can make a human being
happy in a life which is deprived of all worldly pleasures, and has no
earthly rewards.

[Sidenote: Bishops.]

The difference between the parish priest and the bishop, though great
in England, is much greater in France. In England it is the difference
between a gentleman and a peer, in France it is that between a common
soldier and his colonel. Since royalty is dead, and the great nobles
politically paralysed by universal suffrage, the bishop seems all the
greater as the sole survivor of the splendid personages of the middle
ages. The grandeur of the Church is represented by the bishops, both in
their social position, which, in the absence of royalty, is much higher
than any other, and also in externals, such as the stately residence,
the violet and gold of the costume, and the customary carriage and
pair. It must be remembered, too, that the “Church” in Catholic
language means the bishops, who are alone summoned to Œcumenical
Councils, and not the inferior clergy, who have no vote, direct or
indirect, the bishops not being elected by them.

[Sidenote: French Officers.]

[Sidenote: Position of Officers in England.]

Since the French army has become national, the military caste is not
so much an aristocratic caste as it is in England. It is difficult for
an Englishman to realise the position of officers in a French garrison
town. They live very much amongst themselves, and spend many of their
leisure hours in a café chosen specially by them, and called “_le café
des officiers_.” Some of them are admitted into local society, but on
their individual merits or in consequence of family connections; the
uniform is not the passport that it is, or used to be, in England. I
remember how, on the arrival of a new regiment, the English squires
in the neighbourhood would go and call upon the officers to give
them a welcome, and would very soon ask them to dinner. Before long
the officers were on sufficiently friendly terms to join in country
amusements and invite themselves to lunch. If there was a ball, they
were invited as a matter of course. This intimacy between military
officers and the local gentry was strongly marked in the English
society of the Wellingtonian age. In a French town there is no such
ready welcome on the part of the leading inhabitants. The officers are
treated like strangers staying in the hotels until some accident brings
about an acquaintanceship.

[Sidenote: The Army as a Career.]

Still, although the military class in France is not one with the
aristocracy, it is quite true that the military profession is the only
career, in French opinion, for a gentleman of birth, unless he studies
for the bar, which he generally does without any intent to practise.

[Sidenote: The Official Class.]

[Sidenote: The Prefect.]

[Sidenote: Contempt for Republican Officials.]

The official class of prefects, sub-prefects, and other members of the
administrative hierarchy, form a caste quite apart from high society,
which will not recognise office-holders under the Republic. I have
known several of these officials who were thorough gentlemen, and had
good private fortunes besides, but the higher classes ignored them as
completely as if they had been personally unfit for society. The fact
that the prefect is by virtue of his office the greatest personage in
the department only makes him the more disliked. His rank is officially
equal to that of an English lord-lieutenant, and he is more important
in the sense of having more work to do and more real authority to
exercise.[73] When, however, we compare the social position of the two
we see how France is divided. England is not yet divided in the same
way because the Crown makes the great official appointments, or at
least seems to make them. There is not now any political authority left
standing in France which commands the respect of the upper classes.
They do not respect authorities emanating from the people.

[Sidenote: _Noblesse_, _Bourgeoisie_, _Peuple_.]

[Sidenote: Professional People.]

Now, with regard to the professional and trading classes I should
say that they are nearer to one another in France than in England.
The old division of _Noblesse_, _Bourgeoisie_, _Peuple_, is still in
constant use, and is extremely convenient as a general division of
French classes. The _noblesse_, true or false, lives on its means, and
has generally landed property; the _bourgeoisie_ lives in more or less
comfort, either on private means or on the gains of professions and
trades; the _peuple_ lives by manual labour and on wages. An artist,
a solicitor, a doctor, belong to the _bourgeoisie_, and they are all
three nearer to the shopkeepers and more familiar and friendly with
them than are men who belong to the liberal professions in England.

[Sidenote: Gentlemen.]

A distinction of the greatest importance between England and France
is indicated by the untranslatableness of the word “gentleman.” The
English reader knows what the word means. It is the sign of an ideal
which may constitute caste or something else, for it often traverses
caste. You frequently, in England, meet with men who are not of high
birth, who are not very rich, yet whom all recognise as gentlemen, and
this simple recognition places them on an equality, of a certain kind,
with people of higher rank. In France, this peculiar kind of equality
is unknown. The _bourgeois_ is never the equal of the noble, though he
may be the better gentleman of the two. It is undeniable that, in this
peculiar sense, English society is more _égalitaire_ than French.

[Sidenote: The Teaching Class in France.]

[Sidenote: Severance between Fashionable and Educated Classes.]

The teaching classes are in some respects a lower caste in France
than in England. This difference may be in part due to the clerical
character of English education, which gave a dignity and almost a
sacred character to schoolmasters. In France the numerous professors
in the University are not well paid, and often eke out a slender
income by private lessons. Many of them are cultivated gentlemen,
others are much less refined, as may be expected in a very mixed
class, and an old principal tells me that the body as a whole has less
_tenue_ and self-respect than it had formerly. “In my time,” he said,
“you might always recognise an _universitaire_ by the correctness
of his appearance and bearing, but to-day he is not distinguishable
from anybody else.” In England university degrees confer some social
position, especially if they have been gained at Oxford or Cambridge;
in France they confer little or none, certainly they do not make the
recipient _du monde_. The consequence is more and more a severance
between the fashionable and the educated classes, and it may even come,
in course of time, to this, that a high degree of education may be
taken as evidence that a man does not belong to “good society.”

[Sidenote: Peasant Life in France.]

There is a difference between England and France in the strictness
of rural caste. Amongst the French peasants we find a set of rigid
caste-customs separating the class completely from the _bourgeois_
and the _ouvrier_. There is nothing answering to this with the same
universality and rigour in English rural life. The English farmer
answers more to the French rural _bourgeois_ of different grades; his
life is more the general life of the nation, it is not peculiar and
behind the time. There are signs that the true peasant life, with its
austerity, its self-denial, its patriarchal rules and traditions, will
not, in France itself, very long survive the influences of the town,
the railway, and the newspaper. It will be a severe loss to the country
when it passes away. The peasants do not themselves know how superior
they are to the classes they are beginning to imitate.

The strength of caste may be measured by the degradation of the Pariah.
As the caste-principle declines he rises, and when it dies he is no
longer distinguishable by his vileness, but is lost in the general

[Sidenote: The Pariah in England.]

[Sidenote: The Pariah in France.]

English intolerance having been chiefly religious, its Pariah has been
the Infidel. France is the country of political intolerance, and there
the Pariah is the Republican. “What!” I may be asked, “you speak of the
Republicans as Pariahs at a time when they hold all the ministries and
receive all the ambassadors?” The answer to this objection is that they
have never been more under the ban of high society than since they won
political power. In England the Infidel is not quite the Pariah that he
used to be when Deists were “pestiferous vermin.” To-day, under his new
name of “Agnostic,” he is beginning to be tolerated. On the contrary,
the French intolerance of the Republican is more intense than ever.
_Canaille_ is the mildest term that the charity of the _bien pensant_
would apply to him--

  “E cortesia fu lui esser villano.”



[Sidenote: Comparative Wealth of England and France.]

[Sidenote: The Revenue.]

England and France are the richest countries in Europe, and, of the
two, England is generally believed to be the richer. I believe the
same, and yet am unable to give evidence of an entirely satisfactory
character. Considering each country as a vast estate, composed of
land and house property, we meet with our first difficulty in the
uncertainty of the estimates. The French Government is at the present
time (1888) employing its agents in a new and elaborate valuation.
External trade is not a certain guide, as the two populations are
differently situated, the French living much more on home produce
than the English. The revenue is sometimes taken as an indication of
national wealth, and it is so no doubt when nations are extremely
unequal; for example, the vast difference between the revenues of
France and of Greece is good evidence that France is the wealthier
of the two countries. When, however, we make a financial comparison
between two states as nearly equal as France and England, the revenue
ceases to be a criterion. It is true that the French people pay more
money into the national treasury than the English; but they may be
doing it only to their own impoverishment. What we call “revenue” is
not like a private income, it is a burden or a charge, proving only the
power to bear the burden, and such a power may be but temporary. It is
only the most foolish Frenchmen who are proud of the enormous taxation
that afflicts the Republic as a consequence of monarchical errors and
of its own.

[Sidenote: Newness of Everything in France and England.]

[Sidenote: Industrial Plant.]

[Sidenote: War-ships.]

[Sidenote: Exhibitions.]

The wealth, both of England and France, has been vastly increased
by the prodigious creation of new things which has taken place in
the present century. They are both of them very old countries, yet
almost everything in them is new. A man of sixty, travelling about,
is constantly seeing and using things that did not exist when he was
born. The railways he travels upon, the hotels where he stays, the
great industrial buildings, the shipping, are of his own time. The
towns are either recent or in great part reconstructed. The industrial
activity of the present age is so enormous that in the course of a
single generation it has done more in public and private works than
all the previous generations had left behind them. Then there is the
industrial plant; both nations have increased their producing powers by
multiplying _tools_ of all kinds, from colossal steam-engines down to
sewing-machines. England took the lead in this direction, but France
has followed. In some things France has been the leader, notably
in the construction of warships with defensive armour, and in the
manufacture of breech-loading cannon. England set the example of huge
industrial exhibitions, and here again, as in railways, France has been
a successful imitator.

[Sidenote: Excess of the Producing Power.]

[Sidenote: _Ouvriers sans Travail._]

The industrial development of both countries has led to a state of
things in which the producing power surpasses the actual wants. To keep
the working populations in full employment it would be necessary to do
over again all that has been done; but the works accomplished remain as
impediments to future labour. Paris does not need to be reconstructed
every twenty years; a network of railways has not to be made in every
century. Thus industrialism produces both riches and poverty. First, it
creates an army with appliances too elaborate and too efficient for any
permanent need, and then it fails to pay its own soldiers. The present
condition of England and France is discouraging, for the reason that
it is the skilled workman who is so often without employment. The evil
has attracted more public attention in England, but the roads of France
are covered with miserable tramps and vagabonds, many of whom are
well-trained “_ouvriers sans travail_.”

[Sidenote: Success in Industry.]

Success in industry is proved by the attainment of wealth, so that it
becomes, in an industrial age, the evidence of something greater than
itself. It is taken as the proof of ability, of the kind of talent most
valued, and so it comes to pass that people of the most simple habits,
who have really no need for riches, often desire to make a fortune
as a proof of their own energy, and from a dread of being classed
amongst the unsuccessful. This is one of the strongest reasons for
money-getting when the genuine instinct of avarice is absent.

[Sidenote: The Necessity for Wealth.]

[Sidenote: Title and Wealth.]

[Sidenote: The Passion for Style.]

There is a most important difference between England and France in
the necessity for wealth in certain positions, quite independently
of the desire for money as a possession. The expression “a large
income is a necessary of life” is an English expression, and is true
in the country and classes in which it originated. What it means is
not that the Englishman cares much for personal self-indulgence, but
that if his income is not large he finds himself exposed to vexatious
or humiliating consequences, unless his position is otherwise so
insignificant as to escape attention. It is entirely understood that
all titled persons in England ought to be rich, and not only all titled
persons but all who belong to the upper classes. On inquiring into the
causes of this belief we do not find them in the love of money for
itself, as a miser loves it, but in the English passion for style and
state, and in the contempt which is felt for those who cannot afford to
maintain an expensive standard of living.

[Sidenote: England agreeable for the Ambitious Rich.]

Wealth is not only more necessary in England than in France, it is
also more valuable socially; it does more to elevate its possessor,
to give him rank and station. In England the condition of things is,
for the present, singularly agreeable to the rich man who is also
ambitious. It is not like a country without an upper class, and it is
not like a country with a closed and exclusive upper class. England has
a brilliant and attractive upper class that the rich man may aspire
to enter, and which receives him with encouraging cordiality. He has
something to desire, which is at the same time well worth desiring and
not beyond his reach. A true aristocracy would keep him at a distance;
in a genuine democracy he could never become more than a wealthy
citizen; in the present very peculiar condition of English society
there is still an aristocracy for him to enter, and it receives him to
be one of its own.

[Sidenote: The Middle Classes and the Rich.]

He has the advantage, also, of living in a country where the middle
classes are proud of the wealth of the rich. They talk of the large
incomes of the nobility with an interest that may be a survival of
ancient feudal sentiments, a vassal’s pride in his liege lord. It is
a pleasure to them to think that the Duke of Westminster can drive out
with his guests from Eaton Hall in a procession of his own carriages.
Even the freaks of the last Duke of Portland are not displeasing to
them, because his mole-burrowing was done on such a costly scale. The
vast estates of Sutherland and Breadalbane seem to give every Scotchman
a superiority over the comparatively landless French _noblesse_. The
British nature is so inclined to be happy in wealth that when the
individual Briton has little of his own to rejoice in he generously
takes pleasure in that of the nearest lord. This pleasure is the more
pure for him that he is almost incapable of envy.[74]

[Sidenote: French Feeling about Riches.]

[Sidenote: Separableness of Rank and Wealth in France.]

The state of French feeling about riches is more difficult to define
with perfect accuracy. It varies very much with different localities.
In a trading town money is everything, being the sign of superiority
in trade, and the biggest capitalist is the greatest man. In an
aristocratic centre money without caste counts for very little, and
the rich _bourgeois_ keeps his place, retaining the most simple and
unpretending manners. I should say that rank and wealth are much more
separate, or at least _separable_, in France than in England. People
are accustomed to see nobles of high rank with very moderate fortunes,
and they are also accustomed to meet with rich _bourgeois_ who do not
aspire to aristocracy either for themselves or their descendants.
Amongst the _noblesse_ themselves money is regarded merely as a great
convenience, and rank is respected still, and fully recognised, even in
combination with very narrow means. This is the purely aristocratic as
opposed to the plutocratic sentiment.

[Sidenote: French Equality.]

French equality does not bring together the _noblesse_ and the
_bourgeoisie_, as the _noblesse_ is exclusive, except towards the false
_noblesse_ that has once got itself adopted.[75] But equality often
produces a degree of familiarity, astonishing to an Englishman, between
the rich _bourgeoisie_ and the common people. This may be explained by
the absence of the word “gentleman” and of that separation of classes,
without the help of title, which the word “gentleman” implies. The rich
_bourgeois_, in France, is nothing but a _bourgeois_; he has never
thought “I am a gentleman,” and the difference between him and a common
man is but a pecuniary difference.

[Sidenote: Sanctity of Wealth in England.]

Wealth has a dignity and almost a sanctity in England which seems to
be connected with religious beliefs, and especially with the familiar
knowledge of the Old Testament, almost an unknown book in France.
In this respect the English hold a middle place between the French
and the Jews. I certainly have myself known rich English people who
believed that Divine Providence had appointed them, personally, to have
authority over the poor, and that the poor owed them much deference for
that reason. It is a kind of divine right, and it is even capable of a
sort of scientific proof, for wealth is one of the natural forces, and,
in the last analysis, an accumulation of solar energy given into the
hand of a man.[76]

[Sidenote: Sentiments of the Poor towards the Rich.]

[Sidenote: French Respect and Indifference.]

[Sidenote: Matthew Arnold.]

It is sometimes asserted, and perhaps still more generally believed,
that the sentiment of the poor towards the rich is one of adoration in
England and of hatred in France. The truth about English sentiment I
have endeavoured, in a general way, to tell. The peculiar advantage of
wealth in England is that it so soon confers caste--that the rich are
so soon believed to have rank, even without parchments and the royal
signature. They become “gentlefolks,” when in France they would be only
“_gros bourgeois_.” The French sentiment about wealth varies generally
between a kind of respect that is not at all servile, and unfeigned
indifference. The English have a great difficulty in understanding this
indifference. I find, for instance, in Mr. Matthew Arnold’s article
in the _Nineteenth Century_ for February 1885, the statement about
France that “wealth creates the most savage enmity there, because it is
conceived as a means for gratifying appetites of the most selfish and
vile kind.” There may, of course, be instances of such feeling amongst
poor French anarchists and radicals. It exists even in England itself,
and was expressed long ago with sufficient vigour by a poet of the
people in fiery stanzas all ending with the refrain--

[Sidenote: Gerald Massey.]

  “Our Sons are the rich men’s Serfs by day,
    And our daughters his Slaves by night.”

Those two lines express _exactly_ the sentiment attributed by Mr.
Arnold to the French; the last of them, especially, is a precise
translation into poetic form of what Mr. Arnold says about “gratifying
appetites of the most selfish and vile kind.”[77]

When I read very comprehensive statements I always adopt the rather
prosaic method of looking back on my own experience, if I have any
experience that can throw light upon the subject. In this case, having
lived much in the country, both in England and France, and known poor
and rich people in the numerical proportion that they bear to one
another in real life, I may perhaps be accepted as a competent witness.
My testimony is as follows.

[Sidenote: The Author’s Testimony.]

[Sidenote: Lancashire.]

[Sidenote: Aggressiveness of Factory Hands.]

[Sidenote: Their Wit and Sarcasm.]

[Sidenote: Masons.]

When I was a young man in Lancashire the population of mill-hands was
not in a state of “savage enmity” towards the rich, but its sentiments
were not in the least deferential, and they were not friendly. We
cannot call those sentiments friendly which express themselves in
jibes and jeers. It is the simple truth that well-dressed ladies and
gentlemen avoided meeting the hands when they came out of the factories
to escape personal annoyance. They were not in bodily danger, but they
were liable to be openly criticised by the lower classes, whose tongues
were both sharp and merciless. The factory hands had unbounded natural
impudence and a very aggressive disposition. Some of them had the gifts
of wit, humour, and sarcasm, to which the Lancashire dialect is highly
favourable; and it was their delight to exercise these gifts at the
expense of any unfortunate gentleman or lady who fell in their way. A
telling hit at the victim, whom nobody pitied, was hailed with shouts
of satisfaction. A lady, who was a neighbour of ours in Lancashire,
happened to be walking in a muddy street, so she lifted her skirts a
little. This unluckily occurred near a group of factory girls, whose
sharp eyes, of course, noticed the lady’s stockings, which were of
some unbleached material. Thereupon one factory girl cried out, “Well,
afore _Oi’d_ don stockin’s na better weshed nur them theere!”[78]
and there was a general explosion of laughter, before which the lady
was glad to drop the curtain of her skirts. Nor was this critical
disposition confined to the factory operatives. I happened one day to
be wearing a new topcoat, and was passing near some houses in course
of erection. One of the masons shouted out from his ladder something
very coarse and ill-natured about my topcoat; so I stopped to reason
with him and said, “Why cannot you let my topcoat alone? I came by
it honestly; it is paid for.” “_Paid for, is’t?_” he answered, with
a sneer of ineffable contempt. “It woddn’t ’a bin if th’ ad ’ad t’
addle th’ brass.”[79] So I went away defeated, amidst the jeers of
the other workmen. I may perhaps trouble the reader with an anecdote
about another mason, in which there is more real hostility to wealth
and refinement. When I was a boy, an old Lancashire mason was making
an alteration in a room that was to be my bedroom. This involved the
blocking-up of an old window; and instead of building the wall of the
full thickness, the mason contented himself with a thin wall, leaving
a recess. “I shall be glad of this recess,” I said, “it will do to put
the washing-stand in.” The mention of such a luxury irritated the man’s
democratic sentiments, and he swore at the washing-stand and at me
with many a bitter oath, although he was working for my uncle, who too
kindly employed him.

[Sidenote: Sense of Equality in Lancashire.]

[Sidenote: A Lancashire Salute.]

Even when the Lancashire people did not intend to be uncivil, their
manners often asserted a sense of equality that I have never met
with from the corresponding class in France. I have often stayed in
Lancashire with a friend, now no more, who was one of the richest
men in his neighbourhood, and in Lancashire this means great wealth.
As there was an old intimacy between us, we called each other by our
Christian names; he was Henry, and I was Philip. This was natural in
our case; but what seemed less explicable was that when we walked out
together and met the wage-earning people in the neighbourhood, the men
would keep their hands in their pockets, and sometimes, as a sort of
special favour, cock their heads on one side by way of a bow, and say,
“Well, ’Ennery!” in token of friendly recognition. Assuredly there was
not, in such a salutation, any trace of “savage enmity” against wealth,
but neither was there any special respect for it. Either because rich
men were common in Lancashire, or because the people were extremely
independent, wealth used to get but a very moderate amount of deference

[Sidenote: Lancashire Familiarity.]

I lived at one time close to Towneley Park, and remember that although
we always called the then representative of that very wealthy and
very ancient family Mr. Towneley, till he became colonel of the local
militia regiment, after which we gave him his military title, the
peasantry spoke of him either as “Tayunly” or as “Charles,” and his
brother they called “John.” This was not hostile, and it was not
insulting, but it cannot be considered deferential.

[Sidenote: The Author’s Experience in France.]

[Sidenote: French Rural Civility.]

In France I am known by sight to many hundreds of people in the
poorer classes, perhaps I may say to thousands, and they believe me
(erroneously) to be what they call rich, because I live in the manner
of a very small country gentleman. More than that, they all know that I
am an Englishman, a difference of nationality that would not generally
tend to repress any tendency to popular satire. The simple truth,
however, is that I have never once been insulted, never once even
jeered at, by these poor French people, because I had a good coat on my
back. On the contrary, numbers of people, whose names I do not know,
are in the habit of lifting their hats to me; and if I drive along
the road on a market day, when the peasants are returning to their
homes, I have to keep my right hand free to answer their salutations
by lifting my own hat, according to the courteous French custom. One
of my friends, a Frenchman, is really a rich man, and when we walk out
together in the town where he is best known, he is constantly raising
his hat. I find this practice to be much the same in other towns with
well-to-do men who are local notables, and I know an important village
where any one who looks like a gentleman will be saluted by every
inhabitant he meets.

In the French rural districts the aristocracy are very well known
individually, and esteemed or not according to their personal
qualities. When they are just to their tenants and kind to the poor,
these merits are fully acknowledged, and the great folks are regarded
with respect and even affection. “_C’est un bon Monsieur_” the peasants
will say of the squire, or, if they include his family, “_Ce sont de
braves gens, c’est du bon monde_.” I know an honest French gentleman
and his wife who are always ready with kindness and money when there
is any case of real distress, and I do not believe that there is any
country in the world where they would be more esteemed than they are in
their own neighbourhood.

[Sidenote: Absence of Familiarity in France.]

I have never known, in France, anything like the Lancashire familiarity
in speaking of the rich. The greatest landowner is always either called
by his title or at least gets the usual “Monsieur.” He is “Monsieur
le Marquis” or “Monsieur de ----,” and often, with a mixture of local
feeling and respect, he is “Notre Monsieur,” to distinguish him from
other people’s Messieurs. I never in my life heard a French peasant
call a country gentleman by his bare name, or by his Christian name
only. I know all the tenants on an estate where the rents were raised
in a manner that created the greatest dissatisfaction, but, whilst
expressing this dissatisfaction in just and straightforward language,
the tenants never infused any hatred into their talk, nor did they
abandon the usual respectful form in speaking of the landlord. They
said that he was hard with them, and that he was acting against his own
interest, which he did not seem to understand, as it was impossible for
a tenant to work the farms permanently on the new terms. This is the
whole substance of what they said, the complete expression of their
“savage enmity.”

[Sidenote: Wealth not an Objection in Parliamentary Candidates.]

At election times I never found that it was a ground of objection to a
republican candidate that he was a rich man. There has been a sort of
understanding amongst many reactionary rich people in France, of late
years, to give as little employment as possible to the wage-earning
classes, in order to punish them for voting in favour of republican
candidates. The poor resent this attempt to starve them into political
subservience, a feeling which is entirely distinct from hatred to the
rich as a class. Rich men who continue to give employment are, from
contrast, better liked than ever.

[Sidenote: Wealth and National Defence.]

[Sidenote: Unorganised Wealth Valueless in War.]

I cannot close this chapter without some reference to the wealth of the
two nations from the military point of view, that we are all compelled
to consider. To be rich is of no use in actual warfare unless we are
also ready. The French had plenty of money in 1870, as they proved
shortly afterwards by paying two hundred millions sterling to Germany,
yet that money could not win the battles of Gravelotte and Sedan. At
the same time the luxurious establishments of rich French people, the
wines in their cellars, their collections of pictures, their beautiful
books, their pretty carriages, all the pleasant things that are
commonly associated with the idea of wealth, were of no more practical
value than the embroidery on the mocassins of a Red Indian. The truth
is unpleasant, but we have to face it, that wealth itself is valueless
for warlike purposes _unless it has been employed in time_, and that
it is not the richest nation, but the most prepared nation, that lives
best through the day of trial.[80]



[Sidenote: Marriage as an Alliance.]

[Sidenote: The French Ideal.]

[Sidenote: The English Ideal.]

The notion of marriage as an alliance is more generally prevalent in
France than in England, where it belongs only to the upper, or at least
the wealthier classes. The ideal of a French marriage is the practice
of princes in the middle ages and at the Renaissance, when they were
affianced to ladies whom they had never seen, merely on the ground that
their social position was suitable. The ideal of an English marriage
is that the social position of both parties must be suitable, but that
they ought previously to have some acquaintance with each other and
some appearance of affection. There are, however, many exceptions in
the practice of both countries. In both, there is a strong disapproval
of the _mésalliance_, which goes so far that even in England it is said
that society will condone a seduction more willingly.

[Sidenote: Definition of _Mésalliance_.]

[Sidenote: _Mésalliances_ in England.]

[Sidenote: Ideas of Class in France.]

[Sidenote: Preservation of the Wife’s Surname in France.]

The dictionaries say that _mésalliance_ signifies marriage with an
inferior, but they fail to explain the kind of inferiority indicated.
Would moral or intellectual inferiority in one of the parties
constitute a _mésalliance_ for the other? It would most assuredly in
reality, and bring its own daily and hourly punishment; but opinion
overlooks these trifles, which only concern the parties directly
interested. Does a _mésalliance_ result from a difference of rank?
English opinion is very elastic about rank; we see marriages between
titled and untitled people every day. Does it result from inequality of
wealth? That inequality is far more frequent between married people in
England, an aristocratic country, than under the French Republic. The
rule against _mésalliances_ in England amounts to no more than this,
that the parties to the marriage ought to belong to the same _monde_,
that is, they ought to have been seen in the same houses. In France it
is a _mésalliance_ for a noble to marry a commoner, and this certainly
marks a more trenchant line than any that exists in England, where a
commoner may belong to the aristocracy, which he cannot do in France,
unless he succeeds in making himself a false noble. Marriages with rich
commoners are not infrequent in France, but they are always confessedly
_mésalliances_. On the whole, I should say that so far as marriage is
concerned, ideas of class are decidedly more rigorous in France than in
England. The woman’s name and condition survive more after the marriage
in France. Great numbers of French people put their wife’s surname
after their own, and even if this is not done formally, the linen and
silver may be marked with the two initials. A Frenchman will sometimes
use his mother’s surname instead of his father’s, if it seems to him
more euphonious. In formal announcements of deaths and marriages the
wife’s surname is frequently preserved. The habit of saying Madame
de B. _née_ de C. is a French habit, and she may be called in legal
documents Jeanne de C., wife of Gaston de B., as if her name survived
after marriage, which it really does in the French conception of

[Sidenote: Pecuniary Value of the French _de_.]

[Sidenote: Loss of the _Particule_.]

[Sidenote: The New and False Noble.]

After careful observation I have arrived at the conclusion that the
French _de_ before a name, whether rightly or fraudulently borne (for
that makes little perceptible difference), is equivalent to about ten
thousand pounds in the marriage market and will often count for more.
It is wonderful that it should be so, considering that all French
people know how frequently the _de_ is assumed; but it seems to be
valued as a mark that the bearer belongs to the gentry, which, in fact,
he generally does. The genuine nobility who have become too poor to
keep a place in genteel society, and have to work for their living,
seldom retain the _particule_, or retain it only for a short time.
If they did not drop it themselves the world would drop it for them.
I have met with several instances of this. To be able to retain the
_particule_ is therefore a sort of practical evidence that one belongs
to the upper classes. It is also a kind of guarantee that he will not
profess liberal opinions. As a rule the new and false noble is more
royalist than the Pretender himself, and certainly more clerical than
the clergy.

[Sidenote: The London Marriage Market.]

[Sidenote: Worldly Motives elsewhere.]

The rule that marriages are made from inclination in England and from
interest in France requires to be understood with very great reserves.
When English writers have France in their minds they assert the rule
very positively, but when the repellent French influence does not
deflect their judgment they become exceedingly frank about the hunting
after rank and fortune in the great London marriage market. It would be
easy to quote novels and essays and social sketches of all kinds which
paint London society as a vast field of rivalry, where matrimonial
ambition lays itself out continually for high prizes, and either
triumphs in the winning of them or has to taste the bitterness of
defeat. Even the novelists who describe country life appear to believe
that worldly motives operate frequently in the provinces.

[Sidenote: _Le Mariage de Convenance._]

[Sidenote: Byron’s Marriage.]

This is one of the many instances in which the same thing is called
by different names. There is no exact translation of “_mariage de
convenance_” in English. “_Convenance_” would be most nearly translated
by “suitableness,” but the word “_convenance_” has a certain connection
with what is right and proper; “_c’est inconvenant_” means “it is
improper.” The “_mariage de convenance_” is a marriage that appears to
be suitable, I mean _that other people consider to be so_. Of course
they are often egregiously mistaken; they think it perfectly “suitable”
to fasten two people together for life who are quite unfitted for
anything like companionship. Byron’s marriage was a very perfect
“_mariage de convenance_,” and we know what came of it.

In England these are called “prudent marriages,” but when they occur
in France the English speak of them with strong disapprobation as
“business transactions.” This is an example of the great art of
“putting things.”

[Sidenote: Prudent Marriages.]

[Sidenote: A real Case.]

A prudent marriage is not necessarily a business transaction either
in France or England. Let us consider a real case. A young gentleman
(French or English) dislikes the idea of permanent celibacy, yet
his income, though rather more than sufficient for a bachelor, is
inadequate for the expenses of marriage. He marries a woman with some
fortune. This cannot be described as “a business transaction” unless
he gains by it, and in most cases he gains nothing, he only protects
himself against social _déchéance_ or financial ruin. He acts without
a view to profit, purely in self-defence. He wishes to marry without
injuring himself; he does not wish to turn marriage into a profitable
transaction. Nine-tenths of French marriages are made exactly in this

[Sidenote: French Marriage Customs.]

[Sidenote: The _Comme il faut_.]

[Sidenote: Mutual Ignorance of French _Fiancés_.]

[Sidenote: Dowerless French Girls.]

[Sidenote: The Truth about French Marriages.]

[Sidenote: Moderate Expectations.]

[Sidenote: Ordinary French Dowries.]

[Sidenote: Small Dowries.]

French customs in contracting marriage differ from the English customs
chiefly in this, that the French know so little of each other before
they are betrothed (often nothing whatever), the marriage having been
arranged by other people. Here is a real instance. A young gentleman of
my acquaintance was engaged to one of two sisters before he had seen
either, and when he met them together in a drawing-room he asked his
mother which was to be his wife. This is a supremely perfect example
of a genteel arrangement in France, where the less people know of each
other before marriage the more are they _comme il faut_. I remember
being much amused by the indignation of a very beautiful young French
lady about a rumour that she had been wedded for love. She reiterated
her assurance that it was a baseless fabrication, that her husband had
only seen her once before their betrothal, and then quite formally in
the presence of other people, and that their marriage had been entirely
one of “_convenance_.” In short, she repelled the idea of love as if it
had been a disgraceful and unmerited imputation.[81] English writers
who wish to depreciate French people can scarcely exaggerate the
mutual ignorance in which genteel French marriages are usually made.
There are, however, occasional exceptions, and I myself have known a
few French people who condemned the system strongly. As to the lower
classes, especially the peasantry, courtship goes on almost after the
English fashion. There are “_mariages d’inclination_” in all classes,
though they become less and less frequent as you ascend the social
scale. That such marriages _must_ exist will be evident to any one
who reflects that in France there are dowerless girls who get married
nevertheless. Neither does a dowerless girl invariably accept the first
young gentleman who proposes himself. I myself have known several
poor French girls who refused good offers; a very striking instance
came within my knowledge during the composition of this volume.[82] A
French mother said to me, “I have never regretted not to have been able
to give dowries to my daughters. They had several offers which were
addressed to themselves and not to their purses, and they married most
happily.” The expression “marry for money” would apply, no doubt, to
some cases (as in England, for there are fortune-hunters everywhere),
but it does not apply to the great majority of French marriages. The
accurate way of stating the case is this. _A Frenchman generally
expects his wife to bear part of the household expenses._ As it does
not often happen that the wife can follow a profession or a trade, such
an expectation amounts to the expectation of a dowry. In most cases the
amount of this dowry is so moderate that an Englishman would say the
girl had nothing--he would not take such a sum into consideration,
one way or the other, when he married. For me (who know a great deal
more about the inside of French life than can conveniently be printed),
I have come to the conclusion that with the present rate of expenses
a dowry must be much larger than French dowries usually are to give
the young husband the satisfaction of having made a good financial
speculation by his marriage. A few hundreds of pounds or a _very_ few
thousands are the ordinary dowries in the middle classes, and neither
the hundreds nor the thousands are any compensation for the pitiless
pecuniary exigencies of married life. No young gentleman in his senses
imagines that he can improve his financial position by marrying a
young lady of elegant tastes endowed with two hundred a year. Yet that
income, at five per cent, represents a capital of a hundred thousand
francs, which is an exceptionally large dowry for a French girl in the
middle classes. A girl whose father can give four thousand pounds has
probably been brought up in a family living in some style, and she will
expect a considerable expenditure.[83] It might be a better speculation
to take an industrious housewife of simple tastes, without a penny in
the world. The small dowries and the very large ones may be useful to
two different classes of men. The small dowries are often valuable to
people in the struggling classes because they may enable the husband to
advance his trade. A journeyman joiner marries a girl with five hundred
pounds and becomes a master, a very small shopkeeper may take a
larger shop. But what is the good of, say, a thousand pounds to a poor
physician or professor? The money by itself might be acceptable, but a
wife with it can only mean an increase of his poverty. Yet this is the
kind of “marrying for money” that is constantly practised in France.
It is no more than a sort of partial prudence in cases where complete
prudence would be not to marry at all.

[Sidenote: Moderate Prudence rare in England.]

In England this sort of _moderate_ deference to prudential
considerations is comparatively rare. An Englishman marries for
affection decidedly, or for money with equal decision. He despises a
small dowry. The same man may marry for pure love with absolute disdain
of money, or he may sacrifice affection and seek for a wealthy heiress.
He would not, like a Frenchman, be turned aside from a love-match by
five or six hundred pounds.

[Sidenote: Imprudence in the English Lower Classes.]

Nearly all ranks in France are moderately prudent with regard to
marriage, but in England it is only the comfortable classes that are
so. The imprudence of the lower middle classes and of the people is
almost without limit. They talk about marriage, and they enter upon
it, exactly as if pecuniary difficulties had no existence. One of my
friends was invited to a wedding where rather genteel appearances were
observed, but nobody except himself had any cash. At the end of the
ceremony the young bridegroom approached him and borrowed fourteen
shillings to pay the fees. The money was never returned.

[Sidenote: Marrying for Marriage only.]

[Sidenote: A Decision to Marry.]

[Sidenote: Clerical Influence.]

[Sidenote: Orthodoxy.]

[Sidenote: Morality.]

I think it may fairly be said that there is more marrying _simply for
marriage_ in France than in England. What I mean may be made clearer by
a particular instance. A French lady once told me and several other
people that her son was going to be married. “Who is the young lady?”
I inquired. “Oh,” she answered, “I only mean that my son has decided
to marry, he has not yet fixed upon any young lady; that is a matter
for future consideration.” This, I should say, is very characteristic
of French habits of thought about marriage. A young Frenchman will
live on for some years without troubling his head about the matter,
when suddenly, nobody knows why, he will come to the conclusion that
he ought to get married, and then he will very likely ask some old
lady to manage the business for him. In the clerical party marriages
are often made by priests, who have great influence in finding rich
girls for young men likely to be dutiful sons of the Church. Open
unbelievers cannot hope to benefit by these influences. In England also
a reputation for strict orthodoxy is very valuable to a young gentleman
at the time of marriage; it is, in fact, or certainly was some years
ago, more valuable than a reputation for morality. I myself have
known instances of young Englishmen who married well and were known
to be immoral, when they would not have had the most distant chance
of “marrying money” if they had not been regular attendants at divine

[Sidenote: The Author’s Opinion.]

My own opinions on these matters are of little consequence to any one,
but as a writer is constantly exposed to misrepresentation, I will
state them very briefly in self-defence. It seems to me that marriage
may be undertaken from a variety of motives and be fairly happy,
either in France or England, but that the only foundation of the best
happiness is companionship. How this ideal is to be realised every one
must judge for himself. In my opinion it depends much more upon mental
sympathy than on equality of fortune or rank, or even on identity of
nationality. Marriage is a life-long conversation, and I have never
found that conversation with any lady was more interesting because she
had money in her purse.

[Sidenote: Partial Prudence.]

[Sidenote: Rashness of “arranged” Unions.]

Again, with regard to the use of the words “prudence” and “prudent”
concerning marriage, I should say that these words are employed far too
exclusively, both in France and England, with reference to pecuniary
considerations, which are not the whole of prudence but only a very
limited part of it. To marry a person whom you have never seen, or of
whose character, gifts, and tastes you know only what can be learned
in one or two short and formal interviews, is an act of the wildest
imprudence, however wealthy the person may be, and this kind of utter
rashness is exceedingly common amongst French people, who are prudent
to excess in all that touches fortune. One consideration, especially,
exhibits this rashness in its true character. To marry a woman of whom
you know nothing is to entrust your children to a woman of whom you
know as little.



[Sidenote: Comparative Sociability.]

One of the most prevalent popular errors, for it is prevalent both in
France and England, is the belief that the French are the more sociable
people of the two. The truth is quite the contrary; the English are
much more sociable than the French; the English associate together much
more readily for purposes of business, of culture, and of pleasure; the
force of fellowship is greater in England, and so is the feeling of
subordination towards leaders.

[Sidenote: Repellent English Manners.]

The error seems to have taken its origin in the outwardly repellent
manners of the English towards persons whom they do not know. They look
with suspicion on new or accidental acquaintances; they hate to be
intruded upon, and they have an undefined dread of having acquaintances
forced upon them who may be a little inferior in rank. But towards
all whom they consider safe, that is, well bred and unobtrusive, and
belonging to their own class, they exhibit a degree of sociability
which far exceeds the sociability of the French.

[Sidenote: French Liking for Talk.]

[Sidenote: French Reserve.]

The English very rarely have the temper that can amuse itself with a
little unrestrained intercourse of an accidental kind. Novelists and
philosophers have that kind of openness of interest, but they are a
small minority. It is much more common amongst the French. The ordinary
Frenchman amuses himself with studying human nature, and likes a
conversation with a temporary acquaintance. It serves to pass the time
better, he thinks, than “putting his nose into a book.” Most of what
the French know they have got by conversation, and so far as readiness
to talk is concerned they are sociable. But with all his apparent
openness and frankness the Frenchman has his own reserve too, and
fences his life round in his own way. People say that “the Englishman’s
house is his castle;” if so, the Frenchman’s house may be described as
his armoured turret. “_On ne donne pas la clef de sa maison_” is not an
English expression, and it means more than the material key.

[Sidenote: Restaurant and Home Hospitality.]

[Sidenote: Seclusion of Frenchwomen.]

[Sidenote: Their Aristocratic Sentiments.]

[Sidenote: Social Separation of the Sexes.]

A Parisian invites you to dinner, and will probably take you to an
expensive restaurant; a Londoner will offer his roast-beef in his own
house. The separation of the sexes is much greater in France than in
England. You may know a great number of married Frenchmen and have
a very slight acquaintance with their wives, perhaps not enough to
recognise them in the street. Nay, you may even habitually visit
Frenchmen in their own private apartments without ever seeing their
wives and daughters at all. Frenchwomen (I do not mean in Paris, but
in the provinces) often live in something like oriental seclusion, but
beyond this there is in the feminine mind an extreme tenacity about
real or imaginary rank. The husband may have intimate friends, whom he
respects for their character or admires for their talents, whilst his
wife rejects them because they have not the _particule_, or because
their grandfathers have been in trade. We know that character, talent,
culture, count for nothing whatever in the aristocratic estimate,[84]
and we must remember that in France the spirit of aristocracy, where it
exists, is extremely pure, and does not allow itself to be seduced from
its own principles either by merit or wealth, nor even by such offices
and honours as a republic can confer. It is not exactly convenient for
me to give special instances, because these pages may be translated and
the cases recognised, but I will say, speaking generally and without
special application, that if M. de B. is the intimate friend of M.
C., and if the two call each other Jules and Jacques, it does not at
all follow that Madame de B. will recognise Madame C., or allow their
children to associate.

[Sidenote: Less of it in England.]

There is really very little necessity for this kind of _morgue_ in
France, as the French are not pushing, and care very little about
distinguishing themselves by having fine acquaintances. It might be
more necessary in England, where people are proud to know a lord, yet
in England I have not observed that extreme difference between the
sexes which certainly exists in France. I should say that in England,
as a rule, a man and his wife, in whatever rank, will either repel you
or accept you together. You would hardly, in England, be on terms of
affectionate friendship with a man, and on terms of the most formal
and distant acquaintanceship with his wife--acquaintanceship remaining
equally formal, equally distant, for an unlimited number of years.

[Sidenote: Distance does not diminish.]

[Sidenote: The Dislike to what is “Unfeminine.”]

[Sidenote: Essentially French.]

[Sidenote: Education of French Girls.]

[Sidenote: Further Separation of Men and Women.]

This distance between the sexes does not diminish in provincial France.
I am not speaking of the great cities like Lyons and Marseilles, which
may have something of Parisian openness and ease, but of the country
and especially of the aristocratic parts of it. I should say that if
there is any perceptible change it is rather towards a still wider
separation of the sexes. The French have a very keen sense, perhaps
an exaggerated sense, of what is feminine and what is unfeminine.
Englishmen of the last generation were French in their feelings about
this; they would have considered it unfeminine for a woman to make
political speeches, to deliver sermons, to be a leader in the Salvation
Army, and to press for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts.
They would even have thought it unfeminine to want a grand classical
and mathematical education. All that feeling of objection to the
“unfeminine” is essentially French, and it remains in France whilst in
England it is passing away. I remember talking to some French people
about George Eliot’s extensive education. It did not exalt her in
their eyes, but the contrary; they thought it unfeminine. There is a
partial reaction against this opinion in France, of which one symptom
is the establishment of _lycées_ for girls; but it is only one party,
and but a section of that party, which advocates this, and the real
object is not so much to educate girls as to deliver them from clerical
domination. All the tendencies of modern amusements and occupations
separate men and women in France. As examples I may mention the
increase of smoking and gambling, and the decline of conversation and
dancing. The increase of smoking has the effect of leaving men together
after dinner “to smoke a cigarette.” In former times they went to the
drawing-room with the ladies, and looked upon the English as boors
for doing otherwise. Now, under pretext of a cigarette, Frenchmen
will remain away from ladies almost the whole evening. The increase
of gambling makes the card-table more interesting than feminine small
talk. Young Frenchmen are now becoming too old, too _blasés_, to
enjoy dancing, which is one of the pleasures of healthy and natural
youth. As to conversation, it is difficult to maintain it with ladies
in a country where they have such a small share in the political and
religious opinions of men, and where literature has little interest
for either. In Paris there are the theatres, and the Salon whilst it
is open. Perhaps the best subject in common between men and women in
modern France is business, for which the women often have a natural

[Sidenote: The Want of Amusement in France.]

[Sidenote: The _Cafés_.]

The great want in French provincial life is amusement of a cheap and
innocent kind, that might bring people together. The men have their
_cafés_, but they are only frequented by one sex, and not universally
by that. The clergy, of course, avoid them, and so do the gentry who
pretend to some degree of rank. They are frequented by the middle,
including the professional, classes; and the very existence of _cafés_
is evidence of the small amount of intercourse going on in private
houses. They are at the same time an effect and a cause of the
separation of the sexes. So far as I know, the upper classes are more
sociable in the sense of having more intercourse amongst themselves
than the middle, but they are exclusive, and even amongst the richer
nobles I doubt if there is as much hospitality as in England.

[Sidenote: Balls and Theatres.]

[Sidenote: Rarity of Public Amusements.]

An idea is prevalent in England that Frenchwomen are constantly going
to balls and theatres. In Paris, no doubt, rich women have these
amusements, but in the provinces, where most French people live, there
is very little of them. The provincial town that is best known to me
is situated in an aristocratic neighbourhood, and although the theatre
is very pretty and very well kept, the gentry will not patronise it at
all, and are never to be seen there. Even the middle classes are by no
means regular in their attendance, for the actors often play to empty
benches. There are never any public balls, and those in private houses
are very rare. The only public entertainments patronised in any way by
the upper classes are the charity concerts, which occur perhaps twice
in three years.

[Sidenote: Lunch.]

[Sidenote: The Formal Call.]

The English institution of lunch, to which any friend may come
uninvited, is a great practical help to social intercourse in the
country. It is pleasant from the absence of state and pretension, both
in host and guest, and it gives a convenient excuse for paying a long
call in the middle of the day. There is nothing answering to it in
France. You must be very intimate indeed with a French family before
you could venture to “_demander à déjeuner_;” in fact, that is hardly
possible without relationship. It is astonishing, to an Englishman,
how very much of French social intercourse is absolutely limited to
the formal call between three and six in the afternoon. People go on
calling upon each other in that way for all their lives without an
invitation on either side.

[Sidenote: Invitations to sleep.]

Another great difference between France and England concerns
invitations to sleep. In England, all your friends’ houses are open
to you. It would not occur to an Englishman to go to the hotel in a
town where he had intimate friends. In France the narrowness of town
lodgings acts as an effectual preventive to this kind of hospitality,
except amongst the very rich, and so the habit of it is lost. This
is one of those small matters which have great consequences. The most
unrestrained social intercourse in England takes place when guests are
staying in a house, and the most valuable moments for the interchange
of masculine confidences occur very late at night.

[Sidenote: Increase of Luxury an Impediment to Hospitality.]

I have said elsewhere that the increase of luxury in France acts as a
restraint upon hospitality. People shrink from the disturbance, the
trouble, and the expense of the state dinner, and so they end by giving
no dinners at all. In former times hospitality was more a thing of
the heart than of the purse, more of gaiety than ceremony, and was so
common as to be a weekly, and in some houses almost a daily habit. Now
it is a solemn function occurring at rare intervals.

[Sidenote: Want of Intercourse amongst the French Peasantry.]

My attention has been drawn by the French themselves to the decline of
hospitality amongst the peasantry. I believe that this varies greatly
in different parts of France. So far as I have been able to observe,
the peasants never invite each other except to marriage-feasts,
and then their hospitality is excessive and extravagant. In my
neighbourhood, not only do the peasants abstain from invitations, they
do not even meet for an evening’s chat in each other’s houses. The
farm-houses may be a mile from each other by measurement; socially,
they are a hundred miles apart.

[Sidenote: The Club and the _Cercle_.]

The club is, in a certain sense, a more sociable institution in France
than in England. It exists in France for conversation and gambling,
in England for the individual convenience of the members who may want
a rest in an easy-chair with a newspaper or a review, or who desire a
convenient place for dining in a kind of semi-privacy. The purpose
of the English club is answered in some degree by the cafés and
restaurants in France. They have no privacy, but they are to be found
everywhere. The difference of title between “club” and “_cercle_” is
an indication in itself. “Club” implies an association to meet common
expenses for individual convenience, _cercle_ is a circle of talkers.

[Sidenote: Effects of Religious and Political Bigotry.]

[Sidenote: Internal Division in France and England.]

[Sidenote: Effects of Division in the Provinces.]

The effects of religious and political bigotry in restricting social
intercourse are lamentable enough in both countries, and especially
because the more intercourse is needed the less it is likely to take
place. Real toleration of differences in opinion is possible only for
a few. It comes from largeness of mind, but there are few large minds.
It is dictated by the highest reason, but few people are reasonable.
The ordinary and practical social solution of the difficulty is to
break off intercourse when differences of opinion manifest themselves.
In this way it comes to pass, almost involuntarily, and as if by the
operation of a natural law, that people who visit together have usually
the same political and religious opinions, or, at least, profess them,
which is equally conducive to harmony. And the few who have true
liberality of sentiment, and could bear with the gentle and considerate
expression of a different opinion, are often compelled to adopt the
usual custom that they may not have to resent rudeness. So it happens
that people in the same nation are divided even more trenchantly than
if they belonged to different nations, and you find English people
who will receive Catholic foreigners but not an English dissenter, or
French people who will receive Americans but not a French republican.
The evil resulting from this increases with the smallness of the place.
In London and Paris it condemns nobody to solitude, because every one
may find others who agree with him, but in provincial towns where petty
class distinctions restrict people already to a very limited circle
they may find themselves entirely shut out from social intercourse if
they are even suspected of holding opinions not tolerated there. A want
of delicacy and of hospitable feeling may even permit people to attack
the known opinions of a guest at their own table, a proceeding not
unexampled in civilised countries, though it would be thought barbarous
in the tent of a nomadic Arab. Or, without going so far as that, a
host, in mere weakness, may fail to defend his guest because it would
be impossible to do that without establishing the forbidden principle
that every one has a right to his own views.





[Sidenote: Success difficult for a French Gentleman.]

The estimate of what constitutes personal success varies so much in
the two countries, and in the different classes of each, that it is
very difficult to arrive at any common standard. There is hardly any
kind of success that a French gentleman desires and which is at the
same time possible for him. He cannot desire success in trade, or even
in any lucrative profession, because all the trades and professions
are beneath him; his former possibilities of success lay in Court
favour, but now there is no Court. It is _bon ton_ to despise official
posts under the Republic. The gentry do not enter the Church, except
occasionally the regular orders, and therefore cannot look for
bishoprics. The fine arts and professional work in literature are of
course infinitely beneath them. Nothing remains but the army and navy,
with the drawback that both of these are already crowded with plebeian

[Sidenote: Success in the Middle Classes.]

A class that has nothing to look forward to in life, nothing to aim
at, but only to live from day to day in dignity, often on very narrow
means, is deprived of the possibilities of success, and cannot really
know the delightful meaning of the word. The middle classes know
it,--the shopkeepers, manufacturers, professional men. Even the
peasant knows it when he has fought his way to the purchase of a little

[Sidenote: Middle-class Frenchwomen.]

[Sidenote: Madame Boucicaut.]

[Sidenote: An untitled Queen.]

[Sidenote: A true Success.]

The women in the French middle classes, as is well known, often
understand business quite as well as the men, and show quite as much
energy, and govern great commercial houses with quite as much capacity
both for large affairs and for details. Madame Boucicaut, of the
_Bon Marché_ in Paris, will probably remain the typical Frenchwoman
of business of this century. She attained undeniable greatness, not
merely as the possessor of I know not how many millions, but as an
untitled queen actually reigning over a great number of human beings
and constantly applying a most powerful intellect to answer one
question satisfactorily, “How can I do most good to all these people
who work for me?” A lower nature would have tried to get above the
shopkeeping sphere; her ambition was satisfied with remaining where
she was and being a great worker and a great philanthropist.[85] Her
life was indeed a success, not only in the exercise of power, but in
the development of character. It has sometimes appeared possible that
studious philanthropy may have its origin in a kind of remorse. In the
case of Madame Boucicaut it may have been at first suggested by regret
for the injury done to thousands of petty tradesmen by a colossal
cheap establishment like hers.

[Sidenote: Success in Money-making.]

[Sidenote: Speculation in France.]

[Sidenote: The Desire for Little and for Much Money.]

[Sidenote: Lotteries in France.]

[Sidenote: Private Gambling.]

[Sidenote: Crowding of the French Medical Profession.]

[Sidenote: The Fine Arts as a Profession.]

[Sidenote: Great Numbers of Artists.]

[Sidenote: The Intentions of Nature.]

[Sidenote: Uses of the Unsuccessful.]

The influence of ancient philosophies, and also that of Christianity
(so far as it has been taken seriously), have both been hostile
to money-making; but the influence of all visible realities is so
constantly in its favour that the word “success” in the middle classes
both of France and England means money and nothing else. The phrases
“_Il a réussi, il est arrivé_,” and the expressions “He has done well,
he has risen in the world,” do not mean that one has attained any ideal
excellence, but simply that he has netted money, and in certain classes
a man is considered a poor creature if he has not realised a fortune.
This view of success has led, especially in France, to increased
gambling in all kinds of speculations, because there is hardly any kind
of real work that a man or woman can do which brings in more than a
pittance. The increased cost of living, both in necessary expenditure
and in the useless expenditure that is imposed by the foolish customs
of society, has made the payment for honest work seem even smaller
than it really is. The desire for a little money is an incentive to
work; the desire for much is an incentive to speculation, except in
the few cases where there is capital enough for one to become a leader
of industry on a large scale. The same cause has led to the success of
lotteries in France, and it is this spirit which of late years has so
much increased the amount of private gambling. These tendencies are not
likely to diminish, since professional incomes, instead of increasing,
have gone down as a result of competition. Physicians tell me that
the facilities of cheap general and professional education are now
overcrowding their professions by an immense influx of young men who
settle anywhere, as birds do where they are likely to find food. An
old physician who formerly had a good rural practice in a part of the
country very little known, told me that he was now surrounded by active
young doctors in the adjacent parishes, and saw his income reduced to
£160 a year. Yes, that is about the figure to which competition is
bringing down the gains in the liberal professions. The fine arts,
both in England and France, offer a few very valuable prizes; and as
a few artists live very luxuriously and with considerable ostentation
in their showy houses, they give a false idea of the prosperity of
their profession. As a matter of fact, the majority of artists form a
peculiarly and especially anxious class, whose gains are so precarious
that next year’s income is like the hope of a prize in a lottery.
Nothing is more curious in the history of the nineteenth century than
the prodigious increase in the number of artists both in England
and France. A well-known French painter told me there were twenty
thousand of his profession in Paris, working, of course, chiefly
for exportation, as France produces painting to sell rather than to
keep. The number of sculptors, though not nearly so great, is even
more remarkable, because sculpture is so little bought. An English
academician has an interesting theory about the intentions of Nature
with regard to the fine arts; he says that pictures are produced
now as coal was in prehistoric times, to serve long afterwards for
fuel. Seriously, it appears that Nature follows in this matter her
usual principle of “a thousand seeds for one to bear.” She produces
a thousand workmen in the fine arts that there may be found amongst
them a single artist of genius whose work is truly precious to the
world. In France the great number of semi-artists has had the effect of
infusing an artistic element into several of the handicrafts, and of
disseminating artistic ideas, chiefly amongst the population of Paris.
Artists who have failed as makers of pictures or statues fall back upon
decorative painting or sculpture, upon designing for manufactures, and
upon teaching elementary drawing in public schools. Painters often have
recourse to another of the graphic arts when painting fails. There is
hardly one of the French etchers who has not desired to be a painter.

[Sidenote: Small Worldly Success of the French Clergy.]

[Sidenote: Presents given to Priests.]

[Sidenote: French Canons.]

[Sidenote: Prelates.]

[Sidenote: Poverty of the Catholic Priesthood.]

[Sidenote: Importance of the Pope.]

From the point of view which regards worldly success, and which we are
considering for the present, the French clergy is very inferior to the
English. The highest pay of a parish priest is sixty pounds a year,
the lowest thirty-six. There are some extras for wedding and funeral
fees. There is also a priest’s house, and these dwellings have been
much improved of late. When the parishioners are rich and generous the
priest receives many presents of eatables, and in some parishes his
cellar is kept well supplied with wine; but when the population is
stingy he has to live strictly on his income, or even on less if he
is of a charitable disposition. In towns, a favourite priest is often
embarrassed with gifts for the comfort and elegance of his rooms; in
rural parishes his rooms are likely to be bare. Each priest keeps one
woman servant, usually plain, and, of course, invariably of mature
age--his “rancid virgin,” as one _curé_ wittily called her. It has
always been an insoluble problem for me how the two manage to live
so decently on so little money. A canon has sixty pounds a year, a
bishop four hundred, and an archbishop six hundred, but in the case
of prelates there is the _casuel_ (different fees), which may increase
their means considerably. In England the lowest ecclesiastical incomes
are twice what they are in France, and the highest more than ten times
as much. There are no _prizes_ in the French Catholic Church answering
to the richer English livings; even a bishopric (from the pecuniary
point of view) is not so good as many an English rectory. We hear of
the wealth and splendour of the Church; she is, no doubt, magnificent
in display, but her priests are poor officials, and their celibacy
is not a matter of choice but of necessity, which (from a sense of
prudence) has been converted into a rule. It is only after fully
realising the poverty of the Catholic priesthood that we can estimate
the overwhelming importance of the Pope with his unlimited command of
money. The difference between him and his prelates is not at all that
between an English king and his great nobles, but rather that between
the Emperor Napoleon and ordinary regimental officers, whilst the
priests are relatively in the position of private soldiers and no more.

[Sidenote: Ecclesiastical Incomes in England.]

In England ecclesiastical incomes range between eighty pounds a
year and fifteen thousand. Incomes of two or three hundred a year
are common, and many exceed seven or eight. In fact, the Church
answers with tolerable exactness to other liberal professions, such
as medicine, the law, and painting. A splendidly successful lawyer,
doctor, or painter has the income of the Archbishop of York, and there
may be one in each generation with that of Canterbury, whilst the
unsuccessful layman may equal the earnings of a small incumbent or a
poor curate, and between the two we find all the degrees. It is more
difficult, however, for an energetic man to make his own way in the
Church than in more open professions.

[Sidenote: The Army a Bachelor’s Profession.]

The army, in both countries, is a poor profession except in the highest
grades. It is essentially a bachelor’s profession. In France, officers
are not permitted to marry any woman who has less than a certain dowry,
and in England marriage is restricted to a few amongst the private
soldiers.[86] Here we have an approach to the enforced celibacy of the
Roman priesthood.

[Sidenote: Public Offices in France and England.]

[Sidenote: The Magistracy.]

Almost all public offices in France are paid, but ill paid. In England
they are either well paid or gratuitous. English Members of Parliament,
in both houses, are unpaid; in France they receive a moderate salary.
In England magistrates (except a small special class) are unpaid; in
France they all receive a few thousand francs a year. On the other
hand, English judges are splendidly paid in comparison with French
judges, even when they sit only in the County Courts. The magistracy,
in France, is so little lucrative that judicial functions usually imply
private means.

[Sidenote: Trade.]

The ordinary trades are perhaps equally lucrative in the two countries,
and, with the exception of old landowners, most of the prosperous
people are either tradesmen or the descendants of tradesmen. An
antiquary in a certain neighbourhood told me that the local aristocracy
there was descended, almost exclusively, from tanners of the Middle
Ages. In the wine districts gold is chiefly consolidated, directly or
indirectly, from grape-juice, as in Lancashire it is a concentrated
form of cotton, and in Lyons of silk. Many fine new houses have been
built in France since the Empire, and almost invariably by tradesmen.

[Sidenote: The English Manufacturing District.]

[Sidenote: Manchester.]

[Sidenote: A Plutocratic Atmosphere.]

For rapid increase in wealth and population there is nothing in France
comparable to the manufacturing district within a radius of forty miles
from the Manchester Exchange. The population of that region is greater
than that within forty miles of Charing Cross; and notwithstanding
times of depression it is probable that the wealth in it far exceeds
that of any similar area in France. Manchester, and the congeries of
minor yet still populous towns that crowd round it, are an example of
rapidity in the increase of wealth and population together which is
rather American than European, and there, at least, an American would
find proofs of material success. I, who have lived in Lancashire,
have known many surprising instances, and it is not so much this or
that particular example that strikes one there as the prevalence of a
plutocratic atmosphere. Money is as much in the air of Lancashire as
the smell of flowers about Cannes and Nice, with this difference, that
whilst flowers are delightful to most noses, the odour of money is so
chiefly to those who possess it.

[Sidenote: Cost of Living in France and England.]

[Sidenote: Necessity of a large Income.]

The reader may perhaps imagine that small professional incomes must be
relatively larger in France than in England because living is cheaper
there, but these ideas are founded upon a former state of things.
Before the Second Empire, when there were few railways, living was
very cheap in some out-of-the-way parts of France. Railways equalised
prices, and since then various other causes have combined to raise
them. At present, living is quite as expensive in France as in England.
An Englishman, now settled in Kent after a residence in Burgundy,
tells me that he finds it more economical to live in his own country.
At the same time that prices have risen, the customs of society have
become both more exacting and more costly, so that married people feel
what has been called “the pinch of poverty” on means that would have
seemed an ample competence to their fathers. The one conclusion to
which accumulated experience seems now to be driving mankind is that
without a large income there can be no success, and that a man’s life
is a failure unless he can afford to live in society, to travel, and to
provide handsomely for all the members of his family.

Another estimate of success is held by some, and I think by more people
in France than in England. It is, and always has been, my own view, and
I have never seen any reason to change it.

[Sidenote: Real Success.]

[Sidenote: The true Success of a Priest.]

[Sidenote: Corot.]

[Sidenote: Cox.]

Real success is nothing more, and it is certainly nothing less, than
the happy exercise and development of each man’s faculties, whatever
they may be. Hence the error of supposing that one can be truly
successful by following in the steps of another. Each man has to win
his own happiness, or, in religious language, to work out his own
salvation. The world’s estimate of him is important only just so far
as it enables him to do this, or hinders him from doing it; beyond
that it is no more to him than the wind on a distant sea. Now, this
happy exercise of gifts may no doubt sometimes depend on money, but it
usually depends far more on suitableness of situation. I have mentioned
the poor incomes of French priests, the miserable incomes as they will
appear to the English reader. The very poverty of these men is, in the
best cases, a part of their success. If they want to leave all and
follow Christ, a bare subsistence is all that they require for that.
Their poverty is a part of the dignity and reality of their office.
Success, for a priest, has absolutely nothing to do with money, or even
with preferment; it consists in moral and religious influence, and in
nothing else. The famous _Curé d’Ars_ had immense success, and remained
a poor village priest to the end of his saintly life; what need had
he of wealth and dignities? In the army, as elsewhere, success is to
be fit for the rank one occupies, and to attain exactly the rank that
one is fit for; it is not to get up into a rank above one’s capacity.
In literature, success is merely encouragement to express our genuine
and best selves; it is not to be splendidly rewarded for producing
work adapted for the market. In painting, success is nothing more than
encouragement to paint the pictures that form themselves in the mind;
it is not successful commerce. Corot, the French landscape painter,
produced his own work and succeeded late, yet it was a pure success
for him, and he could wait for it patiently on fifty pounds a year.
Another instance of real though not apparent success is that of the
Englishman David Cox, whom some have commiserated because he did not
pocket the thousands that his drawings afterwards attained. One who
knew him intimately said there was no occasion for pity, that Cox had
enjoyed his life and work, and earned as much as was necessary for his

[Sidenote: Epicurean and Stoic Views of Success.]

There are two sides to the question whether a successful life must be
in every case a pleasant one. The Epicurean philosopher would say that
without happiness there can be no success; the Stoic would see the
possibility of a high kind of success without anything like happiness;
the Christian thinks life successful if it leads to heaven, though it
be wretched and miserable upon earth. Both Christian and Epicurean
agree in taking happiness as the measure of success, though one places
it on the earth and the other elsewhere.

[Sidenote: Strong Contrasts in France.]

All three are to be found in France in their complete development. The
dominant philosophy is the Epicurean, but Stoicism and Christianity
have their small and great places with their own theories of success.
It is the tendency of the French mind to follow every scheme of life
to the extremity of its logical consequences. France is the country of
the woman of the world, _la mondaine_, and of the Carmelite nun, the
one living in the utmost luxury, the other in the hardest austerity,
and a gleam of hope or a cloud of disappointment in the life of a young
lady may determine for her which of the two she is to be. France is the
country of conversation and of the silent trappists, the land of wine,
and dance, and song, yet at the same time a land where life is often
most dull, and dreary, and prosaic.

[Sidenote: French Tendency to make Life Agreeable.]

[Sidenote: Life as a Succession of little Pleasures.]

Still, if we consider the French nation broadly, after having given
its due place to asceticism, catholic or parsimonious, I think it
is evident that the dominant tendency is to make the present life
agreeable, even to study to make it so, and to take trouble in order
to enjoy a succession of little pleasures. In the care for the
agreeableness of the present life there is a very strong contrast
between the French and the Highlanders of Scotland, for example. The
Highlanders are unsuccessful in making life agreeable, partly on
account of their climate, which discourages effort, but also from their
temperament, which prefers discomfort to trouble and forethought. The
same contrast, in minor degrees, exists between the French and some
other inhabitants of the British Islands. The Frenchman’s object is to
make life _a succession of little pleasures_.

[Sidenote: The Judicious Epicurean.]

If he is able to do this, does that constitute success? It is success
of a kind, if it can be carried on indefinitely and without any
perceptible injury to health. The judicious Epicurean, who knows
the necessity of moderation, arrives at a kind of happiness, and he
includes mental pleasures, such as those of art and elegance, in his

[Sidenote: The Natural Refreshers of Human Life.]

[Sidenote: Manchester and Lyons.]

[Sidenote: Paris.]

[Sidenote: Dismal London.]

Whether a life of little pleasures is a successful life or not, it
seems plain that, from the simply rational point of view, a life of
_felt_ privations is a failure. The ordinary gifts of nature are
sunlight, pure air, pure water, and some degree of natural beauty.
These are the natural refreshers of human life, and without them it is
impossible for it to be complete. The establishment of the industrial
system is not a true success, because it has deprived great populations
of these benefits. In this sense Manchester and Lyons are unsuccessful;
they have not solved the problem of healthy and pleasant existence.
Paris is apparently successful, because there is much external
brilliance, if not beauty, but when we come to examine Parisian life in
its details we find that it is wanting in space and freedom, that only
the rich have elbow-room, and that ordinary existence is fatiguing as
well as narrow. Londoners are rather more at ease, as their town covers
more territory; but it is a dismal place, and if its inhabitants never
left it they would not know the natural colour of the sky, or that of a
flowing river.

[Sidenote: Dulness of French Provincial Life.]

[Sidenote: Lancashire and Yorkshire.]

If we compare the two countries, the most successful quiet life, with
moderate expenditure and some enjoyment of unspoiled nature, combined
with the conveniences of advanced civilisation, is to be found, I
think, in the French provinces. There is, however, a drawback to that
success, otherwise unquestionably considerable, in the intellectual
dulness which afflicts French provincial life as with a kind of torpor.
There is nothing in the French provinces answering to the intelligence
of the English manufacturing districts, with their mechanics’
institutes, their lectures, concerts, and picture exhibitions. In
Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire people are scarcely more
cut off from the intelligent world than if they lived at a short
distance from a metropolis. That perfect life which is so difficult
to attain in modern times would require the union of natural beauty
(including unsullied skies and healthy vegetation) with intellectual
society and opportunities.

[Sidenote: Public and Private Success.]

[Sidenote: Mental Condition.]

[Sidenote: Bodily Condition.]

[Sidenote: Fame.]

The question may be simplified by remembering that although public
success may be measured by outward results, private success is always
strictly personal, and is to be measured, at any particular time, only
by the good mental and bodily condition of the man himself. All else is
merely external. A good mental condition includes just as much culture
as is necessary to the development of the faculties, but not any burden
of erudition heavy enough to diminish (as erudition so often does)
the promptitude or the elasticity of the mind. A good bodily condition
includes health and the training which gives a similar promptitude and
elasticity. Sufficient material well-being for the maintenance of body
and mind in these favourable conditions is essential to true success,
all beyond it is superfluous. Fame, or the opinion of others, is of no
use except as an encouragement or a stimulus, and it has nothing to do
with the reality of success.

[Sidenote: Industrial Civilisation.]

[Sidenote: Not a Complete Success.]

On applying these tests to our modern industrial civilisation we find
evidences of failure on all hands. The poor are not in conditions of
existence favourable to the body, and they have not leisure enough for
the activities of the mind. The rich leaders of industry have far more
wealth than would be necessary to perfect human life, but they have not
enough leisure for intellectual attainments; and they are prevented,
by the presence of the multitudes that industry has called into being,
from leading a life independent of great social cares. In short,
from the purely human and private point of view, without reference
to material results, industrialism has not hitherto proved itself a
success. It is successful in the produce of commodities, but not in the
government of life.

[Sidenote: Cheerfulness.]

[Sidenote: External Gaiety of the French.]

[Sidenote: French Gaiety on the Surface.]

[Sidenote: Wisdom of a light Philosophy.]

[Sidenote: English Gravity not Incompatible with Happiness.]

Mere cheerfulness of disposition is an element in every private
success, and it might be argued that if any one is cheerful, say in
the horrible English “Black Country,” he is living more successfully
than a despondent spirit surrounded by the light and colour of Italy.
The French consider themselves happier than the English because they
have more external gaiety, but I do not accept this gaiety as good
evidence of a happy life. Without looking upon it with any puritanical
disapproval, I think it is very frequently no more than a reaction
against the troubles that beset human existence everywhere, and of
which the French, like others, have their share. A gay philosophy may
seem wanting in seriousness, but a man must have a very superficial
acquaintance with French people if he has not discovered that their
gaiety often conceals many a private anxiety and care. One reason for
it is the feeling, which is certainly healthy, that we ought not to
trouble other people with private causes of sadness, but make an effort
to be cheerful as a social duty. Another and a deeper reason is that
a light philosophy seems wiser and more intelligent than a melancholy
one, because the miseries of life are not worth dwelling upon unless
they can be practically alleviated. The natural gravity of Englishmen
causes them to be misunderstood in France, where it is taken for
sadness. English gravity is not incompatible with happiness. The grave
mind is happy in its gravity as the light mind in its levity; and the
English are not so grave as the French believe them to be. Cheerfulness
(a word for which there is no equivalent in the French language) is an
English characteristic, though the English have not the champagne in
the blood that bubbles up in merriment and nonsense on the top of a
Frenchman’s brain. They had it long ago, in Shakespeare’s time.



[Sidenote: Private National Success.]

[Sidenote: Conditions of it.]

There is a private national success as well as a public one. Private
success, for a nation, is to have got the kind of religion and the kind
of government that are suitable to the national idiosyncrasy, to have
sufficient wealth and at the same time a light burden of taxation, to
be free from civil discord of any dangerous acuteness, to pursue the
arts and sciences fruitfully, and to live without dread of an enemy.

Which of the two, France or England, has hitherto reached the highest
point of success in these several ways?

[Sidenote: Religion.]

[Sidenote: Government.]

[Sidenote: Divisions in France.]

[Sidenote: Partial Success of the Republic.]

On the subject of religion and government enough has been said already
in this volume. I think it is clear that on these important points
England has been the more successful nation of the two. The Gallican
Church was a failure, it has had to give way to Ultramontanism; the
Anglican Church has been a great success, it has not only preserved,
it has intensified its national character. It is true that Anglicanism
is surrounded by Dissent; but Romanism is only suited to a part of
the French people, and lives in opposition to its guiding secular
principles. England has also enjoyed a more complete political success
than France. Her system of government has not, as yet, excluded or
alienated any class. Patricians and plebeians sit in the same Cabinet,
speak from the same platforms, appeal to the same public in the same
ways, and that whether they are Conservative or Radical. In England
a popular leader may be associated with great nobles and received by
the Sovereign; in France he would not be recognised by the smallest
aristocrat. No Frenchman with any pretensions to aristocracy would
be seen on the same platform with a French Gladstone. The French
“Conservatives” have not the faintest hope of forming a Cabinet so long
as the Republic lasts. To them the Republican power is like a foreign
occupation, and their only hope is to plot against it and enfeeble
it; for them it is not a national, but only a party government. All
that can be said of the internal success of France, from the political
point of view, is that since the overthrow of the Paris Commune she has
maintained both liberty and order. No previous French Government has
ever maintained _both_. The Republic has done this, but without being
able to effect any reconciliation between parties which live in a state
of latent civil war. The English system of government is accepted by
the whole nation; it is national; whereas the French system is accepted
by a part of the nation, and is national only in the sense of having
the majority on its side.

[Sidenote: Wealth.]

The subject of wealth has been treated in another chapter. It is not
wealth that is wanting. Both nations are enormously rich, France having
the advantage of a more even distribution, England the advantage, if it
is one, of possessing a greater number of prodigiously rich men.

[Sidenote: Taxation.]

[Sidenote: Difference between English and French Finances.]

With regard to taxation, both countries inherit vast debts accumulated
by previous wars. The Franco-German War cost France altogether about
as much as England had to pay for the great contest with Napoleon
the First. Taxation is heavier in France, and every year there is a
deficit. Even if the present peace were to continue indefinitely, it
is so costly that French finances must succumb beneath the strain of
it. The difference between the two nations is that England can go on
indefinitely as she is living now, in times of peace, whilst France
cannot. A great conflict for national existence might utterly ruin
both. Imagine an additional debt, for each, of a thousand millions
sterling, the possible cost of the next European war!

[Sidenote: Freedom from Civil Discord.]

[Sidenote: English Courtesy.]

[Sidenote: French Political Hatred.]

The next condition that I mentioned as essential to national
happiness was freedom from civil discord of any dangerous acuteness.
Now, although the French have shown considerable, even admirable
self-restraint since 1871, so that civil war has never broken out
amongst them in spite of much suppressed excitement, I think it is
evident that there has been, and that there is yet, much less danger
of civil war in England. Such an evil is still possible in France,
though with the present orderly French temper it is not probable; in
England, during this century at least, it seems absolutely out of the
question. Civil discord exists in France to the degree of dangerous
acuteness, in England only to the degree that makes it bitter and
unpleasant. French political dissension leads to personal rancour,
which is constantly breaking forth in insults and in duels; in England
the forms of courtesy between parties are still in some measure
preserved. If a distinguished English statesman dies, or is seriously
ill, his opponents express and feel regret for his loss, or sympathy
with his sufferings; but French political hatred follows a man even
to the grave. In a word, Frenchmen of opposite political tenets are
really enemies; Englishmen who sit opposite to each other in the House
are political adversaries only, and may meet pleasantly at the same

The superior amenity of English public life is clear proof of its
more successful working. It shows that both parties have something in
common--their country--and that they do not lose sight of the national
welfare, though they differ as to the measures supposed to be most
conducive to it.

[Sidenote: The Arts and Sciences.]

[Sidenote: Applied Science.]

[Sidenote: Railways.]

[Sidenote: Balloons.]

[Sidenote: Military Inventions.]

[Sidenote: Agriculture.]

[Sidenote: Ship-building.]

[Sidenote: Pleasure-boats.]

My next point was that a successful nation would pursue the arts
and sciences fruitfully. Both France and England may look back with
satisfaction to all that has been done during the last fifty years.
There has been absolutely no sign in either country of decadence,
notwithstanding frequent self-depreciation. Of the scientific progress
that has been made I will say little, from simple incompetence to
deal with a subject so vast and so much beyond my grasp. I only know,
as an ignorant yet interested spectator, that hardly any enterprise
now seems to be too great for the intelligence of English and French
engineers, or for the skill of the workmen whom they direct. If they
do not build pyramids greater than those of Egypt and hippodromes more
substantial than the Coliseum, it is only because there is no demand
for them. Ours is the age of communication, and here England takes the
lead with her railways, France with her admirable system of common
roads and her complete inland navigation. France has made the Suez
Canal, has attacked Panama, and is looking forward to a ship canal
from Paris to the sea. Lancashire is making Manchester a seaport, and
Scotland is bridging over the Firth of Forth. A gigantic project for
a bridge from Dover to Calais is on the list of things that French
engineers consider possible. It is difficult to state fairly what has
been contributed by each country to the improvement of the railway
and the telegraph; it is plain, however, that the practical art of
railway travelling first originated in England. The first balloon
rose in French air, and a balloon was for the first time successfully
steered in France. The French are generally a little ahead of the
English in military inventions, as in the use of breech-loading cannon
and improved rifles and gun-powder, as well as other explosives, and
now in the strength and perfection of armour-plating. Almost all the
improvements in scientific agriculture are of English origin, and so
are the machines used in it which are now extensively sold in France.
Whilst the English are the greater maritime nation of the two and have
an incomparably larger carrying trade, improvements in ship-building
have usually originated either with the French or the Americans. In the
construction of pleasure-boats, the English are ahead of the French for
sea-going yachts (though inferior to the Americans), but the French
with their great rivers have studied and brought to perfection the
small centre-board sloop which tacks rapidly.

[Sidenote: Manufactures.]

[Sidenote: Printing.]

[Sidenote: French _Éditions de Bibliophile_.]

[Sidenote: Common French Editions.]

[Sidenote: French Book-buyers.]

[Sidenote: French Carelessness about cheap Work.]

[Sidenote: Careless Correcting.]

I am not a good judge of any kind of manufacture except those connected
with literature or the fine arts, so I will pass by the cottons of
Manchester and the silks of Lyons with the simple observation that
Lancashire has produced the spinning jenny and Lyons the Jacquard
loom. With regard to the printing of newspapers and books, which I
understand better, the French are admirable in the exquisite, but
their common work is not so good as the English. French _éditions
de bibliophile_, such as those of Lemerre, Jouaust, Tross, and the
Société de Saint Augustin, not to mention many publications by Quantin
and others, are equal to the best work of English printers in the
mechanical qualities of type-cutting and clearness of impression,
whilst they are, I think, a little superior to it in taste. All the
French _éditions de bibliophile_ that I possess or have examined are
scrupulously correct in their freedom from typographic errors, whilst
with common French editions it is just the contrary. There is a very
well known Parisian publishing house that issues an immense quantity
of volumes so rich in typographic faults that no English publisher
would own them; yet ordinary French readers, who are very inattentive
and also very patient, either do not notice or do not object to them.
The fact is that there are two distinct classes of book-buyers in
France--_les amateurs_ and _le vulgaire_. The first are hard to please,
and will have nothing to do with ugly or faulty editions, whilst they
will give any price for exquisitely perfect work; the second neither
know nor care anything about the matter, and in producing for them
it does not signify how bad the work may be, provided only that the
price does not exceed three francs fifty centimes per volume. The
carelessness of the French about cheap work used to be very conspicuous
in their newspapers, but these have improved during the last decade.
I well remember the time when it was almost impossible to find a
single English name or quotation, however brief, correctly printed in
a French newspaper. English critics always attributed these faults
to the writers of the articles, but they were more frequently due to
absolute carelessness in correcting.[87] The press-work, too, used
to be disgraceful; it is now fairly good in the daily papers and
excellent in the illustrated weeklies. France is not a good country
for presentable editions at moderate prices. The two most popular
poets--Victor Hugo and Alfred de Musset--are not to be had in anything
answering to the readable current editions of Tennyson. There are the
big octavos and the little exquisite Elzevirs for amateurs, and the
vulgar editions for the public.

[Sidenote: The Exquisite and the Vulgar.]

[Sidenote: Qualities of Painting in France.]

[Sidenote: Qualities of English Art.]

[Sidenote: Crudity of Colour.]

[Sidenote: Home Success of Artists.]

[Sidenote: Landseer and Rosa Bonheur.]

[Sidenote: Meissonier.]

[Sidenote: Turner and Claude.]

This contrast between the exquisite and the vulgar is usually very
strong in France. We find it in the most visible form in French
painting, which leads us to the conclusion that art does not refine a
nation, but only expresses, and expresses equally and indifferently,
whatever natural refinement and whatever inborn coarseness and
vulgarity may already be existing in the race. If all the refined work
in a French _Salon_ could be put into an exhibition by itself it would
be delightful; but the _Salons_ as they exist at present are quite as
much an annoyance as an enjoyment. A student with plenty of physical
energy may by sheer hard labour arrive at a kind of noisy performance
which attracts attention to his name, but the delicate and tender
spirit of true art is absent from such work. Painting having been
understood in France very much as a matter of apprenticeship, like
the handicraft trades, all the technical part of it is taught by the
straightest and surest methods to any lad who will be at the pains to
go steadily through them, and the consequence is that a great number
of men in France possess the handicraft without either intellectual
culture or poetic invention, and it is they who have vulgarised the
art. The English have been, and are still, inferior in manual force;
they cannot attack a large canvas with the same certainty of covering
it in a workmanlike manner, and some of their artists, like gifted
amateurs, have not technical ability equal to the realisation of their
ideas. Still there is less of coarseness in the English school, and
more amenity and tenderness; its art is more gentle and nearer to
poetry and music. There was a time when the French had such a horror
of crude colouring that, to avoid it, they took refuge in dull grays
and browns, but that time is now so completely past that the most
glaring colours are admitted into the _Salon_. English painting,
on the contrary, has become more sober than in the early days of
uncompromising naturalism. An art critic who understood the English
and French minds, and who was not himself turned aside from justice by
the perversions of vulgar French or vulgar English patriotism, would
probably say that, on the whole, the artists of both nations had been
equally successful with regard to the interior of their own countries.
As for foreign success, that is quite another thing, and I reserve
it for the following chapter. At present I mean simply that English
artists delight and instruct English people as much as French artists
delight and instruct the French, and that the modern renaissance of the
fine arts has been as effectual, nationally, in one country as in the
other. On the ground of pure merit (always without reference to foreign
estimation) an impartial critic would probably say that there were
more draughtsmen in France and more colourists in England. Technical
comparisons are difficult, because the art of painting contains, in
reality, several different arts according to the ways in which it is
practised, and they cannot be compared with each other. The popular
comparison of Landseer with Rosa Bonheur is foolish, because they have
nothing in common. There is no English artist who might be profitably
compared with Meissonier; he is comparable only with the Dutch. Several
clever Frenchmen have taken up water-colour of late, and some of them
have done interesting work; but not one of them has either the aims
or the qualities of Turner. A comparison can be usefully established
only between artists who paint the same class of subjects in the same
technical manner. The comparison of Turner, as an oil-painter, with
Claude is one that no intelligent critic would ever have made if Turner
had not himself provoked it. Turner proved only that he could imitate
Claude with a part of himself, as a very clever English Latinist might
studiously imitate Virgil. The complete Turner is so much outside of
Claude that the comparison stops short for want of material in the

[Sidenote: The Revival of Etching.]

[Sidenote: Line Engraving.]

The revival of etching, which has been the most remarkable phenomenon
in the artistic history of our own time, has been common to England and
France, but more vigorously pursued by Frenchmen. This is due to the
great superabundance of young unemployed painters in France who are
happy to turn to anything that does not compel them to abandon art.
It is the peculiarity of etching that men are better trained for it
by the education of a painter than by the hard manual discipline of
the engraver. Line engraving has now died out in England. In France it
still maintains a feeble and precarious existence by the encouragement
of the State (through the _Chalcographie du Louvre_) and a society of
lovers of art who are trying to keep it alive.

[Sidenote: Photographic Processes.]

All the photographic processes for the reproduction of works of art
have been carried to perfection sooner in France than in England, and
France always keeps the lead. Photography, itself, is due to efforts
made by Niepce for the production of engraved plates.

[Sidenote: Literature in the two Countries.]

[Sidenote: Carlyle.]

[Sidenote: John Mill.]

[Sidenote: Ruskin.]

[Sidenote: Matthew Arnold.]

[Sidenote: Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace.]

Literature is probably more influential in England than in France,
because the English read so much more. A great proportion of the
reading done in both countries is, however, only rest, or an escape
from surrounding reality, so that it does little for the true success
of authors, which is the dissemination of ideas. I do not know the
name of any English author who has exercised so much direct power
as either Rousseau or Voltaire. That of Carlyle is thought to have
been considerable, because his personal energy was of the imperative
order; but the English world does not follow his teaching. He was
hostile to the fine arts, and they are more appreciated than ever;
he condemned fiction, and novels were never more diligently read; he
preferred despotism to popular government, and we see the rise of the
English democracy; he was without scientific ideas, and science is
penetrating all the departments of thought and action. The influence
of John Mill is said to be great amongst thinking men in the English
lower classes; but it is purely rational, and can awaken no enthusiasm
beyond the disinterested love of truth. Mr. Ruskin’s influence on art
has been powerful in praise, but feeble in condemnation. He did much
for the fame of Turner, but little or nothing against Constable and
Claude; and notwithstanding his open hostility to etching, that art
is now better appreciated than ever. Contemporary artists go on their
own paths without deference to critical advice. A more interesting
and important subject is Mr. Ruskin’s influence on working men. He
appeals more to the feelings than Spencer or Mill, and is welcome to
many wanderers in search of a moral authority and master. They like
the strength of faith in the master himself, which is ready to carry
theory into practice, even when the theory is ruinous. Matthew Arnold,
though a poet, was more rational, cooler, less fitted for popular
leadership. His influence was directly felt by cultivated readers only;
but it will have consequences not always traceable to the source. I
think he erred in taking certain things to be specially English which
are only English forms of something to be found elsewhere. The best
criticism of this mistake in Arnold was made by Herbert Spencer with
reference to nonconformity.[88] And Arnold’s celebrated division of the
English into Barbarians, Philistines, and Populace, though it throws
a light upon the nation, has the defect of making it seem an English
peculiarity to be so divided, whereas you find the same characteristics
in the three great and very distinct French classes. The French
aristocracy is more ignorant than the English, the French _bourgeoisie_
more narrow in its concentration of thought upon money matters, and the
populace less easily led and influenced by the possessors of wealth and

[Sidenote: J. Morley.]

Of Englishmen now living (1888), Mr. John Morley has the best equipment
for a literary influence upon his countrymen; because he is at the
same time a born writer and a man versed in affairs. Unfortunately a
political career like his must have the effect of limiting a writer’s
influence to a single political party. John Morley might be useful
to all Englishmen at the present time because he unites complete
intellectual freedom with a vigorous moral sense. In this he is the
Englishman of the future, the Englishman who will be intellectually
emancipated, yet who will preserve the moral sense of his forefathers
and hate, let us hope, as they did, “that horrid burden and impediment
on the soul,” as Morley describes it, “which the Churches call Sin, and
which, by whatever name we call it, is a very real catastrophe in the
moral nature of man.”

[Sidenote: Poetry.]

[Sidenote: Office of Poetry in the Modern World.]

Of the literary influences which consist chiefly in giving æsthetic
pleasure, that of poetry maintains itself more than was expected in the
middle of the century, and it is better understood now than it was then
that poetry must remain itself and not get entangled in the actual.
A poet may, like Victor Hugo and William Morris, be in sympathy with
advanced radicals, but in his verse he is likely to go back to the
past as in the _Earthly Paradise_ and the _Légende des Siècles_, or
to pure mythology with Lewis Morris in the _Epic of Hades_, or to dim
traditions as Tennyson to the Court of King Arthur, or even project
himself into the future state like Sully Prudhomme in _Le Bonheur_. The
office of poetry in the modern world is still its ancient office of
deliverance. It delivers us from the actual by the imagination, and the
older we get the less completely satisfactory does the actual become
for us, and the more we need poetry to help us out of it. Those who do
not read verses may receive their poetry through other channels. They
may receive it in great purity and strength through religion, which
is always successful in exact proportion to the sum of poetry that it
contains, and unsuccessful in proportion to its rationalism. Or, if
not consciously religious, men may get their poetry through music,
architecture, and painting, of which it always was and always will be
the mysterious vital principle, the immortal soul.

[Sidenote: Victor Hugo.]

[Sidenote: Lamartine.]

[Sidenote: Musset.]

[Sidenote: Young Philosophers.]

[Sidenote: Renan.]

[Sidenote: Journalists.]

The immense popularity of Victor Hugo was not so much due to the love
of poetry in Frenchmen as to their gratitude for his fidelity to the
popular cause, and admiration for his steady resistance to Napoleon
III. Had he remained a royalist to the last, his fame would have
been of a quieter kind. The French have a way of taking up a man and
making political capital out of him, increasing his reputation as
much as possible for that purpose. Hugo’s name and his portraits were
familiar to multitudes who knew nothing of his poetry. This deprives
the observer of what might have been otherwise a good opportunity for
appreciating the degree of interest that the French take in poetry on
its own account, but even without political popularity there remained
Hugo’s celebrity as a novelist. The case is a very complex one. Great
vigour in old age is deeply respected and admired in France, and Hugo
was a very fine old man. I am told that the generation now passing
away took a much keener interest in literature than the present. As
for poor Lamartine, his fame has been for a while completely eclipsed,
but there are now some signs of a revival. Alfred de Musset is read
by all French people of a literary turn, especially by young men, who
delight in him as young Englishmen delighted in Byron before Tennyson
became the fashion. The minor French poets of the present day are
numerous, and the tendency amongst them is to a great perfection of
technical finish, which is praiseworthy as a proof of labour and
self-discipline. But it is the novelists and the playwrights who have
the substantial success. They earn ten times more money than that
hard-working man of genius, Balzac, would even have dreamed of as a
possibility in his then wretched profession. There is a young school
of philosophers, very sane and very sage, who are trying earnestly to
win some nearer approach to the hidden truths of life and the universe,
but they only reach the small intellectual class. Renan has literary
qualities of the highest order, but like the majority of first-rate
men of letters he is disgusted with the sight of practical politics,
and more inclined to make the combatants a subject for sarcasm than
to help them out of the sloughs they fall into, either on one side or
the other. Practical influence with the pen appears now to belong, in
France, almost exclusively, to journalists, and they are constantly
under the temptation to get up sensational excitements, to make a fuss,
and convert every little crisis into a great one. As English journalism
is anonymous, the writers cannot aspire to make themselves personally
conspicuous, and are somewhat quieter. That which, in England, now
answers in some degree to French journalism is review-writing with
signed articles.

[Sidenote: The Dread of War in England.]

As for the dread of war, which is the most important of all drawbacks
to national happiness, the inferiority of the English in land armies
subjects them to occasional panics about the possibility of a French
invasion, and has led them, as all know, to forbid the execution of
the Channel Tunnel, though they would not have been more exposed by
its means than the French to an English invasion. Since then, it has
been conclusively proved that the use of the steam-engine in warships
has made the offensive stronger than the defensive by permitting the
choice of a landing-place, and therefore much of the former security
of an insular kingdom has been taken away. The feeling that invasion
was possible formerly afflicted only the timid, but now the bravest are
fully aware that it is so, and sleep, like good watch-dogs, with an eye

[Sidenote: The Dread of War in France.]

The position of France is still more precarious. On both sides of
a perfectly artificial frontier two armies have been watching each
other for seventeen years as they watch for a night in war-time. The
slightest imprudence of one or the other Government, even the zeal of
some subordinate official, may at any moment precipitate that conflict
which both alike look forward to, and which both nations equally dread.
It is impossible, under such circumstances, that life in France can
be happy. The war cloud is perpetually visible on the eastern horizon.
Sometimes it swells and covers half the sky and darkens the land with
gloom, then it lessens and seems to be more distant, _but it never
wholly disappears_.



[Sidenote: Vanity of National Success.]

[Sidenote: The French as Judges of English Verse.]

[Sidenote: Blank Verse.]

[Sidenote: The Heroic Couplet.]

[Sidenote: The Spenserian Stanza.]

[Sidenote: Jurien de la Gravière.]

This kind of success is of importance only so far as it affects the
wealth or the independence of a nation. Otherwise, success abroad
is merely a subject of national vanity of a very empty kind. It is
not the same with nations as with individuals. Personal celebrity
is really a legitimate object of ambition for a wise man, because
it makes life pleasanter to him in various very practical ways, and
especially by bringing him into contact with people interested in his
own pursuits. There is no national reward of that kind. It matters
nothing to the English people whether their authors and artists have a
continental celebrity or not. We shall understand the subject better
by considering, at first, the case of England separately, and her
celebrity in France, for different achievements of genius and industry.
Certainly, if English genius is visible in anything it is in poetry,
yet no Englishman who knew the French would attach the slightest weight
to their opinion on the English poets. They often know the language
well enough to read prose of a clear and simple kind; I quite believe
that some Frenchmen of cultivated taste may appreciate Addison’s prose,
or Goldsmith’s prose, and a few, a very few, may perhaps enjoy some
verses of Byron or Pope; but English blank verse is usually quite
beyond French appreciation as to its technical qualities, and so indeed
are the more delicate and subtle cadences of English rhymed metres such
as those which occur, for example, in the “Lotos-Eaters.” I should
think it highly improbable that there are ten Frenchmen with ear enough
to seize upon the very different qualities that artists so different
as Milton, Wordsworth, and Tennyson can give to a metre, blank verse,
which _appears_ to be identical in the three cases, or who would know
the difference between the heroic couplet as employed by Pope and the
same measure in the hands of William Morris. There is the Spenserian
stanza, too, as its inventor used it, and as it has been used by
Thomson and Byron. Try to explain these differences, which in reality
are enormous, to a Frenchman. Try to explain to him anything about the
musical qualities of the English language. He will laugh at you for
your “patriotism”; it being a received opinion in France that English
never is and never can be musical. There is Vice-Admiral Jurien de la
Gravière, for example, probably the most cultivated officer in the
French navy, an Academician, a scholar, a charming and very instructive
writer, altogether a man who would do honour to any nation. Of course
he knows English, and he certainly has no narrow prejudice against
Englishmen, yet in his touching reminiscence of Lieutenant Gore, in the
last _Figaro Illustré_, I find the following passage. He is telling
about an evening on board a French ship of war near Rhodes, spent in
Gore’s society after a separation.

[Sidenote: Anecdote of Lieutenant Gore.]

“La soirée passa comme un songe. Un seul orage faillit la troubler. _Je
soutenais que la langue anglaise était rude, complètement dépourvue
d’harmonie._ ‘Elle est rude pour vous, qui ne savez pas la prononcer,’
ripostait l’insulaire avec véhémence.”

Here we have first the impression of the uneducated French ear, then
the truth about the matter from the Englishman. Another Frenchman
(whose name is not worth mentioning in connection with that of M.
Jurien de la Gravière) says that the English language is scarcely
intelligible when spoken, even for the English themselves, and that is
why they are so taciturn. Another calls English “_cet idiome sourd_.”
How are these Frenchmen to appreciate the “mighty-mouthed inventor of
harmonies”?--how are their ears to hear the “God-gifted organ-voice of

[Sidenote: French Opinion on different English Writers.]

[Sidenote: The Philosophers.]

What really happens is this. English authors are known in France by
translations, and as neither the music of verse nor the style of prose
can be reproduced in a translation, the author is judged by a criterion
outside of his literary workmanship. His reputation is constructed over
again, without reference to his mastery of language, on the grounds of
thought or invention only. Herbert Spencer has a great reputation in
France as a thinker, Dickens as an inventor. Thackeray is very little
appreciated, because the French can never know how superior he was
in style to Dickens. Of English writers on art, Sir Joshua Reynolds
is appreciated in France because his doctrine contained nothing
particularly English, and his style was simple and clear; Ruskin
has no French readers because his views on art are English and his
style complex, elaborate, ornate. The name of Byron is known to every
educated Frenchman, that of Tennyson is known to students of English
literature only. All the chief English and Scotch philosophers are
familiar to French students of philosophy, and in fact accepted by them
as their great teachers and guides, but they are utterly unknown to the
French public.

[Sidenote: Russian Novels in France.]

[Sidenote: More Nature.]

[Sidenote: Demand and Supply.]

Independently of literary merit, foreign literatures are sometimes
called upon to supply an element of human interest that is wanting
in the home productions. The French are aware that Russian novels
are not so well constructed as their own, yet there is a poignancy,
a profundity of feeling, and a strength of primitive barbaric nature
in the Russian novel that are wanting in the French, and this has
given the foreign novelist a great success even through translations.
The desire for _more nature_ always brings on a reaction against any
conventionalism, and the foreigner who brings more nature has his
assured success. A modern English conventionalism, quite unknown to
our forefathers, forbids the complete portraiture of men and women in
fiction. This has created a desire to see another side of life, and the
French novelist supplies the want. The English want immoral literature
and buy French novels; the French want moral literature and buy English
novels--in translations. It would be better, perhaps, to have for both
countries a kind of fiction that should be simply truthful, rather than
the English novel that makes life better than it is and the French that
makes it worse.

[Sidenote: Painting not Cosmopolitan.]

[Sidenote: French Resistance to English Art.]

[Sidenote: French Estimates of English Painters.]

[Sidenote: M. Chesneau.]

It has been erroneously affirmed that painting is cosmopolitan because
the fame of certain artists is universal. That of others is purely
national. There may be national elements in painting repulsive to other
national elements in the mind of a foreigner. If the reader could
have before him all the French criticisms of English art that I have
read, or all the French allusions to it, nothing would strike him
so much in them as the attitude of stubborn resistance in the French
mind to English artistic influences. Such notices bristle all over
with antagonism. It is not simply that the French usually consider the
English bad artists, they resent the attempt of England to enter the
domain of art as if it were an unwarrantable intrusion, or a ridiculous
attempt to do something for which Englishmen were never qualified by
nature. As _Punch_ looks upon a Frenchman trying to play cricket or
venturing on horseback after English foxhounds, even so the French
critic looks upon the misguided Englishman who attempts to paint a
picture or carve a statue. In a volume of French art criticism on my
table I find two or three allusions to English painters, to Reynolds,
“who imitated everybody,” and to Turner, “the copyist of Claude.” The
latest French critic of London says that in the National Gallery,
with the exception of some portraits by Gainsborough and some dogs by
Landseer, there are no English pictures to detain a visitor. No French
Government has ever yet dared to purchase an English picture for one of
the French galleries. M. Chesneau says that a French collector would
never think of having one in his house otherwise than as a curiosity.
He would not have it “comme une satisfaction esthétique, encore moins
comme un motif d’élévation offert à son âme.”

[Sidenote: _L’Art._]

The one great and honourable exception to this narrowness has been
the illustrated art journal _l’Art_, which has certainly done all
in its power to overcome the narrowness of French prejudice against
English painting, but _l’Art_ is not a purely French enterprise. One
of its editors is a Belgian who speaks English and visits England very

[Sidenote: Opinions of French Artists.]

The most cultivated French artists are not insensible to the qualities
of English art. Those who know Reynolds, Gainsborough, Wilkie, Turner,
Constable, see that there are some interesting qualities in their
works. Flaxman, too, has considerable reputation in France through his
designs in illustration of Homer. English engravings after Landseer
have been bought in France rather extensively by lovers of animals, and
_la vignette anglaise_, such as the vignettes after Turner, has long
been esteemed as rather a favourable example of the pretty in art as
distinguished from what is serious and elevated.

[Sidenote: Constable in France.]

Constable alone, of all English artists, has had a practical effect
in France. For readers unacquainted with the fine arts I may say that
two of Constable’s pictures, exhibited in Paris during his lifetime,
produced such a revolution in French ways of looking at nature that
they founded the modern French school of landscape. They were, in fact,
much more influential in France than in the painter’s native land.

[Sidenote: Celebrity of French and English Painters.]

[Sidenote: American Opinion.]

With this unique exception, due to French weariness of conventionalism
and thirst for freshness at that particular time, there has never been
any English force in art comparable, beyond the frontier, to that of
the French school which radiates all over the world. The fame of an
English painter is insular, that of a Frenchman, of the same relative
rank, is planetary. Even the United States of America, bound as they
are to England by close ties of language and literature, follow, almost
exclusively, French direction in painting. The Americans appear not
only to have accepted all French painters who have any celebrity at
home, but they have adopted, almost without question, the antagonism of
French critics towards everything that is English in the fine arts.
This is the more remarkable that the inhabitants of the United States
certainly look to English opinion in other matters much more than to
French. They do not greatly respect or esteem the French, and they
_do_ certainly respect and esteem the English, in spite of occasional

[Sidenote: Influence of French Art in England.]

The most signal triumph of French art has not been its influence on
the continent of Europe but in England itself, where it has modified
the tendencies of the existing school both in choice of subject and
in technical execution. Through French influence English painting has
been brought nearer to continental painting. At the Paris Universal
Exhibition of 1878 there was not that shock of surprise on passing from
foreign sections to the British that seized the spectator in 1855. It
is safe to predict that in 1889 the sense of strangeness will have
still further diminished.

[Sidenote: Absence of Narrowness in England.]

The English are not narrow in opposition to French artistic influences.
Rosa Bonheur’s reputation in England was made quite as easily as if she
had been an Englishwoman. The French Gallery in London has extended the
fame of many a foreign artist. Meissonier, Gérôme, Edouard Frère, are
appreciated in London as in Paris. So it has been with the best French
etchers, Méryon, Rajon, Waltner.

[Sidenote: C. R. Leslie, R.A., on Continental Art.]

[Sidenote: Haydon.]

[Sidenote: Etty on French Painters.]

Still, there exists or has existed amongst some Englishmen a prejudice
against French art. The older Leslie was so patriotic as to believe
that before the peace “the British school had possessed the wine
and the other schools the water only of art, and that the peace, by
mingling these, had strengthened the art of the continent exactly in
the degree in which it had diluted art with us.” The French got the
wine of art from England and mixed it with their water. Leslie thought
too that it would be time enough for the French to talk of “high art”
when they produced pictures that would bear even a distant comparison
with the works of the great old masters, whereas those of a dozen
English painters, _including Fuseli’s and the best of Haydon’s_, could
“hang with credit amongst those of the greatest painters that ever
lived.” Haydon himself said, “The present French artists have immense
knowledge but their taste is bad, they know not how to avail themselves
of what they know, how to marshal, order, and direct it.” Etty said of
the French, “It is lamentable, the narrow nationality of their school;
Titian, Correggio, Paolo, Rubens, throw down their pearls in vain.
The husks of their own school are preferred.” In the five volumes of
_Modern Painters_, modern French painters are treated as if they did
not exist.

[Sidenote: Advantage to Artists of belonging to weak States.]

Italian and Dutch masters had the immense advantage of belonging to
nations that excited no political jealousy. If Titian and Correggio
belonged to the Italy of to-day, the Italy that has a fleet and an
army, and a place in the councils of Europe, they would be judged
in the same hostile spirit as the English. In like manner it was an
advantage for Italian musical composers, as to their fame in France,
that they belonged to feeble principalities. No English musical
composer has a chance of recognition in France. When Germany was feeble
her music was judged on its own merits; since she became strong it has
been found impossible to represent the works of her most recent musical
genius on the French stage; and when an attempt was made to do so there
was almost an _émeute_, whilst his talents and even his morals became
objects of violent attacks in the French press.

[Sidenote: French Patriotic Bias.]

The powerful effects of the French patriotic bias have been noticed
already by Herbert Spencer. He observed, as examples, that in the
picture by Ingres of the “Crowning of Homer” French poets are
conspicuous in the foreground, while the figure of Shakespeare in
one corner is half in and half out of the picture, and the name of
Newton is conspicuous by its absence from those of great men on the
string-course of the _Palais de l’Industrie_, though many unfamiliar
French names are engraved upon it.

[Sidenote: Prejudice diminishes with the Dignity of the Work.]

The intensity of these prejudices always diminishes with the dignity
of the work to be judged. As the French admit the superior quality
of English varnishes for carriages (their coach-builders will use no
other), so they appreciate English cutlery and broadcloth, they even
go so far as to copy English fashions in masculine dress. Most of the
agricultural machines employed in France are of British make. The
horses that run on French racecourses are of English blood, and English
grooms attend to the best French stables. The British, on their side,
know the merits of French gloves, silks, and champagne, and the French
cook is as much a recognised personage in England as the English groom
in France.

[Sidenote: Effect of the Houses of Parliament on Foreigners.]

[Sidenote: The House of Lords.]

[Sidenote: The House of Commons.]

It is a mistake in the people of any nation to suppose that by any kind
of magnificence and splendour, however artistic it may be, they can
exalt their country in the minds of foreigners. The foreigner perceives
the attempt to subjugate him, and resents it. There is that gorgeous
building, the British Houses of Parliament. I do not wish to laugh at
it myself, being one of the few who believe that it has artistic merit,
that it is even a kind of architectural poem intended to glorify
the greatness of England. The foreigner, however, does not want the
greatness of England to be glorified, and no sooner is he aware of
the attempt than he immediately begins to sneer at the building and
to belittle it in every way as much as he can. In reality, the House
of Lords is a chamber of noble dimensions, all the materials used in
it are of the best quality, and the workmanship is thoroughly and
unsparingly good. Although the ceiling is decorated, the wainscot is
simply of carved oak. Well, one French writer compares the House of
Lords to a shop where coloured glasses are sold for a shilling, another
says it is as small as the public room of the _mairie_ in a French
village, a third likens it to a _café concert_, a fourth receives an
impression of _ferblanterie_, that is, of tinner’s work. These French
critics are angry at the costliness and excellence of the sound English
work, and do all they can to cheapen it. In the House of Commons the
Speaker’s chair is compared to an organ in a Dutch beer-house, and the
Speaker himself, when adorned with his wig, to an actor in a comic
opera. If the French will not venerate the Speaker’s wig, what is there
on earth that they will venerate?

[Sidenote: A Victorious Army.]

[Sidenote: Moral Eminence of the Conqueror.]

[Sidenote: Napoleon III and his beaten Army.]

There is but one unquestioned and unquestionable superiority in great
things--that of a victorious army. And that brings other superiorities
with it. Nothing could be more encouraging to the spirit of conquest
than the exalted moral eminence which the Germans attained in Europe
after Sedan, and the moral degradation of the French when they had
been compelled to pay two hundred millions sterling. God had rewarded
German virtue with victory and had chastised the wicked Frenchmen for
their sins. And not only does victory exhibit moral worth, but it
glorifies the intelligence of the victorious nation, making all its
statesmen wise. Their mistakes are all forgotten; the evidence of their
sagacity remains. It is now almost unimaginable that Napoleon III was
held to be the profoundest statesman in Europe until he had been beaten
in the field. After Sedan there was an immediate discovery of his
weakness, dreaminess, ineptitude. All the faults of the beaten army,
in all ranks, became suddenly apparent in the same way. During the
Crimean war, and the campaign that ended in Solferino, the absence of
stiffness in the French soldiers, and the comparatively easy relations
between them and their officers, were considered signs of the practical
qualities of the French. After Sedan the same characteristics were
treated as evidence of a want of discipline.

[Sidenote: Military Displays in Time of Peace.]

It is an error to suppose that displays even of military power in
time of peace will produce a subjugating effect on the imagination of
foreigners. The only utility of them is to make the taxpayers at home
believe that they have something for their money. The foreigner carps
and sneers. The English made a great naval display at the time of the
Queen’s jubilee, and there have been English naval manœuvres since. The
effect of the review outside of England was to provoke a depreciating
analysis of the shipping, by which it was shown that most of the
vessels were either badly armed or of an obsolete construction. As to
the manœuvres, they demonstrated, to the satisfaction of foreigners,
how easily the English coast might be ravaged by a hostile fleet.

[Sidenote: Difference between England and France.]

There is this difference in the present situation of England and
France, that whilst the defeat of England has hitherto, at any rate
since the Norman Conquest, been nothing more than a subject of prophecy
welcome to the jealousy of other nations, that of France has actually
taken place. England is always _to be_ humiliated, France really _has
been_ humiliated. The difference is considerable--it is that which
exists between a vase that has been broken and another that might be
broken if it were not properly taken care of. And the French have no
longer the consolation which cheered them a little after Waterloo, of
having yielded to Europe in arms. They have been beaten fairly in a
duel with one nation, or at least with one people that became a nation
before the war was over, and they have submitted, not willingly,
but in fact, to all the consequences of the war. The situation will
be equalised whenever a foreign Power shall surround London with an
impassable ring of troops and dictate terms of peace in Windsor Castle,
holding the English Sovereign as a prisoner in some fortress or palace
on the continent.

[Sidenote: Former French Confidence.]

[Sidenote: Present English Anxiety.]

[Sidenote: The Common and the Intelligent English.]

The English are in a very peculiar state of mind with regard to the
possibility of a great national disaster. They have not anything
like the blind confidence, the foolish security in ignorance, that
the French had before 1870. I well remember how the French in those
days looked forward to European wars. They felt as safe as if God
Himself had guaranteed the inviolability of their frontier. A war
meant sending troops out of the country with affectionate kisses and
hand-shakings, and receiving them with the honours due to a victorious
army on their return. The present English temper resembles that kind
of anxiety which troubles people in private life when their money
matters are not satisfactory or they have a painless but incurable
disease. The anxiety comes on at odd times, one cannot say when or why,
and occupies the mind for a while. Then, as no real remedy presents
itself, the anxiety is thrust aside and forgotten as much as possible,
till it becomes importunate in the same accidental way again. The
common English people alternate between times of false security, or
forgetfulness, and panics, the intelligent English know always that the
situation is precarious, and do what they can to remedy it, regretting
that they can do so little.

[Sidenote: The only unanswerable Superiority.]

[Sidenote: What a victorious Enemy would do.]

It is useless to argue about success in literature with people too
uneducated to read English. It is useless to affirm the greatness
of English art, for that can be systematically denied. There is but
one kind of greatness that need give England a thought or a care in
reference to foreign countries, and that is her power of offence
and defence by sea and land. The only unanswerable superiority is
superiority in arms. Commercial and colonial greatness is but the
filling of the sponge; a victorious enemy would squeeze it. If ever
the day should unhappily come when an enemy clutches England by the
throat as Germany held France in 1871, he will make her sign away the
Colonies, and India too, and Malta, and Gibraltar, as France made
“proud Austria” sign away Lombardy and Venice, and as France herself
signed away Alsatia and Lorraine. Commercial prosperity, at such a
time, is as vain as poetry and painting, or that insular music that
French ears will not listen to. It is useless as a showman’s profits
when his skull is cracking between the lion’s jaws.





[Sidenote: Europe one Town for Orientals.]

European travellers in the more benighted parts of Asia, such, for
example, as the interior of Arabia, have sometimes had to contend with
a peculiar difficulty in making their nationality clear. The ignorant
Orientals class all Europeans together as one nation. Mr. Palgrave even
found, in his Eastern travels, that the people imagine all Europeans to
be citizens of one town. “Europe they know to be Christian, but they
conceive it to be one town, neither more nor less, within whose mural
circuit its seven kings--for that is the precise number, count them how
you please--are shut up in a species of royal cage to deliberate on
mutual peace or war, alliance or treaty, though always by permission
and under the orders of the Sultan of Constantinople.” These ideas, it
may be supposed, could exist only in the most unenlightened regions of
central Arabia, where the European traveller hardly ever penetrates.
Not so. Mr. Palgrave tells us that this admirable geographical and
political lesson was inculcated on him “not once, but twenty times or
more, at Homs, Bagdad, Mosool, and even Damascus,” In central Arabia
ignorance about foreigners went a little further, as might be expected
from the ignorance of that part of the world. There he was often
asked, with the utmost seriousness, “whether any Christians or other
infidels yet existed in the world.”

[Sidenote: English and French one People.]

This is an extreme case, but we find in the writings of other
travellers the statement of a natural difficulty in distinguishing
English from French, for example. English and French are men of the
same nation; they have the same character, the same habits, the same
faults, and when one of the two peoples has committed some injustice,
the other is held responsible for it.

[Sidenote: No Variety across the Channel.]

In England and France a sharper distinction is established. In both
these countries it is clearly understood that the English are people
of one nationality and the French of another. When, however, we pass
from the nations considered only as two great masses, and try to find
what each knows of the other in detail, we discover the existence of
a quiet conviction that there is no variety in the human species on
the opposite side of the Channel. Each nation is well aware that there
is now, and always has been in past times, an infinite variety of
character within its own borders, but it fails to imagine that a like
variety can exist in a foreign country. Not only is this inability
common amongst those who have travelled little and read little; it
may also be found in writers of eminence, who frequently fall into
the error of describing the inhabitants of a foreign country as if
they were all alike, especially when the description is intended to be

[Sidenote: Causes of Internal Difference.]

I propose to point out a few of the chief causes of internal difference
which act both in England and France. The first and most obvious is
that neither of the two nations is homogeneous. They are formed by the
joining together of old nations, they have not grown as single nations
from the first.

[Sidenote: _La Grande Bretagne._]

[Sidenote: The Scotch Highlanders.]

[Sidenote: Their Inertia.]

[Sidenote: Lack of Enterprise.]

[Sidenote: Highlanders naturally Gentlemen.]

The power which acts politically in Europe, and which is called
_l’Angleterre_ or _la Grande Bretagne_ in diplomatic correspondence,
is composed of four distinct nationalities. If we take one of these,
the most northerly, we find that it is inhabited by two distinct races,
the Highlanders and Lowlanders. They are spoken of equally as Scotch,
yet the difference is not less marked, in reality, than if they were
separate nations. The Highlanders still retain, or did retain when I
knew them, many of the characteristics of a social state from which
the Lowlanders have long since emerged. They were noble rather than
industrial in their tastes and instincts, disposed for field sports
rather than for the improvement of their condition by labour. Dr.
Macculloch’s description of their inertia at the beginning of the
century was still applicable. The people did not move, of themselves,
towards a better condition; they had not the spirit of improvement.
They were surrounded, it is true, by natural circumstances of some
difficulty, especially those caused by the severity of their climate,
but they were far from making the most of such opportunities as they
possessed. For example, in gardening, they did not grow, and they
could not be induced to grow, the vegetables which the climate allows,
even although the want of them brought on scurvy. Their habitations
were wanting in every comfort, being almost in the lowest stage of
cottage-building, irregular walls of rude stone, with a small hole
(glazed, however) for a window, and a low thatch, the fire very
commonly on the floor, and the peat reek escaping through an opening
in the roof. There was no spirit of enterprise to improve the ground
about the habitations, or to make communication easier when the
public road (itself due to English military energy) did not happen
to be close at hand. In a word, there was nothing of that fruitful
discontent which leads the advancing races to incessant improvements.
Without the neighbourhood of the Lowland Scotch and the visits of the
English, the Highlanders would certainly have remained in a very early
stage of civilisation. That early stage has its qualities and merits.
The Highlanders have good manners. Poor or rich, they are naturally
gentlemen, and they show a fine endurance of hardship which, from the
stoic and heroic side, is evidently superior to the love of luxury that
develops itself so wonderfully in the South.

[Sidenote: Absence of the Fine Arts in the Highlands.]

[Sidenote: Poverty of Highland Literature.]

The Highlanders have, of themselves, no fine arts. Their degree of
civilisation has developed no ecclesiastical architecture; they got
no further than the building of a few rude small castles. They have
not any graphic arts, and in those industrial products which are
akin to art they have never got beyond the design of a brooch or the
arrangement of the crossing stripes in a plaid. Their vernacular
literature consists of little more than a few poems, said to be
touching and pathetic in their simplicity. The one literary success in
connection with the Highlands has been Macpherson’s _Ossian_.

[Sidenote: The Lowlanders.]

[Sidenote: Repugnance to Polish.]

[Sidenote: Sabbatarianism.]

Now, on all these points, let us compare the Lowlanders. We see at
once that the difference of race is accompanied by a difference of
aptitudes and of traditions. Good manners are not inbred in them,
though they are acquired in the superior classes as a part of culture.
In the lower classes there is a sluggish indisposition to be polite,
a sort of repugnance to polish of manner as if it were an unmanly
dandyism, a feeling that answers to a plain man’s dislike to jewellery
and fine clothes. Even in religion the difference is discernible. It
is true that the Highlanders are not Roman Catholics like the Irish,
but they have little of the Protestant Pharisaism which is common in
the Lowlands. If a map of Scotland were shaded in proportion to the
malignity of Sabbatarianism, the darkest places would not be far north
of the Clyde, nor west of the Kyles of Bute.

[Sidenote: Industrial Triumphs of the Lowlanders.]

[Sidenote: Their Intellectual Distinction.]

[Sidenote: Fine Arts at Edinburgh.]

[Sidenote: French Ideas about Scotland.]

The Lowlanders are intensely industrious and of a very constructive
genius. They have made the Clyde navigable up to Glasgow, they are
bridging over the Forth and the Tay, they build great manufacturing
towns, and are famous for all kinds of shipping. On the side of
intellect and art we all know what they have done. In proportion to
their small numbers, they are the most distinguished little people
since the days of the ancient Athenians, and the most educated of the
modern races. All the industrial arts are at home in Glasgow, all the
fine arts in Edinburgh, and as for literature, it is everywhere. The
contrast with Highland indolence, apathy, and neglect, could scarcely
be stronger if London itself were transported to the banks of the
Clyde. Yet a Frenchman lumps together Highlanders and Lowlanders
and calls them “_les Écossais_,” and thinks that they all wear the
tartan and the kilt. It is true that he knows little else about them
except that their beautiful Queen was beheaded, and that “_en Écosse
l’hospitalité se donne_.”

There is a greater difference, in the essentials of civilisation,
between the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland than there is between
the Lowlands and the county of Lancaster.

[Sidenote: Lancashire.]

[Sidenote: Population of Lancashire.]

Lancashire has so strong a character of its own that it may almost be
considered a nation. The accident by which it is a Royal Duchy, as
Wales is a Principality, may be an additional excuse for considering
Lancashire, for the present, as a little nation within its own
frontiers. It is fairly comparable in wealth and population, not
only to the Lowlands but to the entire Kingdom of Scotland. The
population of Lancashire in 1881 was to that of Scotland as thirty-four
to thirty-seven, and to that of Switzerland as thirty-four to
twenty-eight, in round numbers.

[Sidenote: Lancastrian Characteristics.]

[Sidenote: Energy.]

[Sidenote: Encouragement of Literature and Art.]

[Sidenote: Protestantism in Lancashire.]

All the characteristics that mark southern Scotchmen reappear in
Lancashire, whilst those characteristics that belong especially to
the Highlands are absent from Lancashire. The Lancastrians, like the
Lowland Scotch, are a most energetic race, that would never rest
contented with a low degree of material civilisation,--a race with
a remarkable genius for industry and trade, having a great love of
comfort, and yet at the same time a remarkable willingness to sacrifice
personal ease for the attainment of greater wealth. I suppose there
are more rich men in Lancashire with resolution enough to get up at
five o’clock on a winter’s morning than in all the rest of England.
Again, although Lancashire has not produced authors and artists of such
fame as the greatest that have illustrated Scotland, it has given warm
encouragement to literature and the fine arts, especially to modern
painting. If you pass to the comparison of religion and manners, you
find manners independent and often rude, as amongst the Lowlanders,
and religion inclining to the severer forms of Protestantism, with a
marked Sabbatarian tendency. I visited London once with a friend from
Lancashire, who was truly representative of the county, which he had
hardly ever quitted, and I well remember that he was quite as much put
out by the London Sunday as a Scottish Lowlander could have been.

[Sidenote: Old Strathclyde.]

[Sidenote: The Roman Example.]

[Sidenote: European Influences.]

Some light may be thrown on these similarities by the recollection
that the western Lowlands of Scotland and Lancashire are parts of
old Strathclyde, so that the inhabitants may have an ethnological
affinity, like the descendants of the true ancient Scots, who equally
inhabited the West Highlands and the north of Ireland. Again, the Roman
occupation of Britain included the north of England and the Lowlands
of Scotland up to the firths of Clyde and Forth, so that the men of
Lancashire and the Lowlands had the benefit of the same Roman example,
whilst the Highlanders were left to develop a social state of their
own. In later times Lancashire and the south of Scotland were equally
open to the influences of European civilisation, whilst the Highlands
remained completely outside of it, like the interior of Arabia to-day.

[Sidenote: The Nation of London.]

[Sidenote: A Provincial in London.]

[Sidenote: London a State within the State.]

[Sidenote: London a Democracy.]

[Sidenote: Its Standard of Civilisation.]

If Lancashire has many of the characteristics of an independent nation,
is there no other part of England which in recent times has developed
characteristics of its own? Yes, there is the great nation of London,
more populous than Scotland, Holland, or Switzerland, and destined to
surpass Belgium in population before the end of the century. In London
the English character has certainly undergone a great and astonishing
modification. London is geographically in England, but intellectually
one can only say that it is in the world. A provincial coming to London
has not quitted the island, yet otherwise he hardly knows where he is.
At first he does not belong to the place at all; after some experience
of it he finds out whether he belongs to London naturally or not--that
is to say, whether there is the degree of adaptability in him which
may enable him to breathe the open intellectual atmosphere of the
place. Physically, London may be as big as Loch Lomond; socially and
intellectually, it is larger than Russia, and may well form, not only
a county by itself, but a state within the State. I have said that
in London the English character has undergone a modification. It has
become more open, more tolerant, better able to understand variety
of opinion, and much more ready to appreciate talent and welcome
thought of all kinds. The nation of London is essentially modern and
democratic, not caring who your grandmother may have been if only you
yourself are to its taste; but at the same time it does not desire
to be a coarse and uneducated democracy; it values culture and taste
far too highly to sacrifice them to a low equality. In a word, London
clings to its own standard of civilisation. If you come up to that
standard, if you have refinement and just money enough for housekeeping
of unpretending elegance, you may be an infidel and a radical, yet
London will not disown you, London will not cast you out into the cold.

[Sidenote: London not Insular.]

[Sidenote: Number of Travellers in London.]

Although London happens by chance to be situated on an island it
is not insular. The nation of London is of all nations the most
cosmopolitan, the most alive to what is passing everywhere upon the
earth. It seems there as if one were not living so much the life of
a nation as the world’s life. You speak of some outlandish place at
a London dinner-table, and are never surprised if somebody present
quietly gives a description of it from personal knowledge. There are
more people in London who have travelled and are ready to start on
travels than in any other place on the whole earth. It is there that
all the ocean telegraphs converge and steamers are arriving daily from
all parts of the world. Switzerland is London’s playground, Cannes and
Nice are its winter garden, and so comprehensive do our ideas become in
London that those places seem actually nearer to us there than they do
in the heart of France.

[Sidenote: Effects of the Railway System.]

The railway system is having the effect of making all the English
aristocracy Londoners. I am old enough to remember the time when there
were still provincial people of rank in the north who spoke sound
northern English, not dialect, but English with vowels and consonants,
including the letter _r_. Their successors talk the half-articulate
London language. It is said that some young Highland chieftains of the
present day speak southern English only too beautifully.

[Sidenote: National Differences.]

[Sidenote: Irish.]

[Sidenote: Scotch.]

[Sidenote: Welsh.]

Still, the national differences remain deep seated in the people and
show no sign of losing their ancient strength. The Irish may become
friendly fellow-subjects, but they will not be Anglicised. Neither
will the Scotch be Anglicised, nor the Welsh. The present tendency
is to accentuate nationality, not in hostility to England, but from
the sentiment of a special patriotism. This is most significant, for
hostility to England might pass away, but special patriotism is not
likely to pass away.

[Sidenote: Variety of Individual Character.]

[Sidenote: Shakespeare.]

[Sidenote: Scott.]

In addition to these causes of variety there must ever remain the
infinite differences of individual character. Shakespeare lived
only in the English midlands, then scantily populated, and in the
little London of his time. He had not travelled abroad, nor learned
Italian,[89] nor talked like Milton with the _literati_ of the
Continent; he had not, like Spenser, lived in the north of England
and in Ireland; yet the diversities of character in his plays are as
numerous as the _dramatis personæ_. Scott lived at the northern end of
the island, in or near a minor capital city; he could speak no foreign
tongue,[90] he knew England and London only by brief occasional visits,
and hardly anything of the Continent, yet his novels abound in a
variety like that of Shakespeare. These writers got their knowledge of
human nature from the variety visible around them. Imagine, then, what
must be the presumptuous _outrecuidance_ of the Frenchman who thinks
that all the inhabitants of Great Britain have one character, and that
he--the Frenchman--has got to the bottom of it, and can describe it,
and tell his countrymen all about it, though he knows neither the land,
nor the language, nor the people!

Besides the denial of any æsthetic quality to English art, we find
in French critics a peculiar disposition to describe it as being all
alike. Eminent English artists (Reynolds, Gainsborough, De Wint,
Müller, Cox, and many others) have preferred breadth to detail,
yet French critics delight in representing the English painter as
studying nature with an opera-glass, and representing all details with
a wearisome and unnatural minuteness. Patriotic hostility, in art
criticism as in the criticism of character, closes the eyes to variety.

There used to be a ridiculous monument of the Duke of Wellington on
Constitution Hill, and now there is a very noble one by Alfred Stevens
in St. Paul’s. The same terms of utter contempt were applied by a
French critic to the work of the man of genius that Frenchmen formerly
applied to the monstrosity. He could not endure any kind of monument to



The _Rue de Rivoli_, the _Champs Elysées_, and the _Boulevard des
Italiens_ are familiar to the travelling English, but they know little
of provincial France, and they reciprocate, in a great degree, the
French indifference about provincial England. Both nations prefer
travelling in Switzerland and Italy to visiting each other. This
encourages the notion of uniformity which would be greatly modified by
a more detailed acquaintance with the provinces.

[Sidenote: Physical Geography.]

[Sidenote: Effects on Population.]

The variety in the physical geography of France, and in the climate,
would be enough already to lead one to expect a corresponding variety
in human characteristics. We find in the British Islands that the
mountaineers are unlike the inhabitants of the plains, that the
people of the north, whose climate is severe, are in some respects
unlike those of the south, whose climate is milder, that the maritime
population differs from the inland population and the manufacturing
from the agricultural. The Englishman is familiar with these contrasts
in his own country, yet instead of expecting them in France he supposes
French people to be all alike.

[Sidenote: The Size of France.]

[Sidenote: The French Highlands.]

[Sidenote: French Coasts.]

[Sidenote: Atlantic.]

[Sidenote: Mediterranean.]

[Sidenote: Varieties of French Climate.]

The mere size of France might lead one to expect diversity. It is
about three times the size of Great Britain, so that the distances in
France are greater and the parts of the population more separated.
It is not the custom in England to think of France as a mountainous
country, because English impressions of it are chiefly derived from
railway journeys across the French Lowlands. I may therefore remind
the reader that the French Highlands cover an area equal to the whole
of Great Britain, that they include fifty peaks above eleven thousand
feet, and a much greater number higher than Ben Nevis, a dozen of them
in the department of the Ardèche alone. On the other hand, the French
plains are so vast that they include the area of three Irelands. Here
is evidently one great cause of variety in the conditions of human
life, but France has also nearly two thousand miles of sea-coast, with
two very distinct maritime populations, one brought up on the shore
of the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, subject to the same influences
as those on the English and Irish coasts, the other by the tideless
Mediterranean, under the same influences as the sailors and fishermen
of Genoa. Now, with regard to climates, French meteorologists tell us
that there are seven distinct climates in France. The most northerly
differs little from that of the south of England, whilst the most
southerly is Spanish towards the west and, to the east, Italian.
You may write a list of French towns, Paris, Tours, Lorient, Lyons,
Marseilles, Bordeaux, each of which has a climate perfectly distinct
from every one of the others. I believe it is not an exaggeration to
say that all these towns differ from each other as much as Amiens does
from London, for example, and in some cases the difference is much
greater. The difference between Marseilles and Lorient is greater than
that between London and Inverness.

[Sidenote: Brittany and Provence.]

It would be difficult to imagine two modern nations more different from
each other, both in country and people, than are Brittany and Provence.
Brittany has a rainy, temperate climate with sea-breezes; Provence, a
fierce dry heat, with almost perpetual sunshine and very strong and
lasting continental winds. Brittany is the land of the apple-tree,
Provence the land of the olive. The shores of Brittany are washed
by the tides of the Atlantic, those of Provence by the waves of the
tideless Mediterranean. It is like comparing Wales with Italy and the
Welsh with the Italians. The Bretons have their ancient language still,
the Provençaux retain their beautiful soft modulated Latin, one of
the most exquisitely perfect instruments for poetry in the world. The
Bretons preserve their costumes; their ways of living, their temper,
their ideas, are all different from those of Provence.

[Sidenote: Diversity in Neighbourhood.]

[Sidenote: The Morvan.]

[Sidenote: Les Morvandeaux.]

The great distance between north-western and south-eastern France
may lead us to expect wide differences. The variety that exists in
great nations is still more striking when we observe the trenchant
differences that often divide populations which, geographically, are
near neighbours. The Morvan is a district about fifty miles from north
to south by thirty from east to west. It is not marked on the maps of
France, but the reader will understand its situation when I tell him
that it embraces portions of four departments: the Yonne to the north,
the Côte d’Or to the east, the Nièvre to the west, and Saône-et-Loire
to the south. In shape it resembles the Isle of Man, but it includes
about five times as much territory. Autun is just outside of it to the
south-east, and Avallon just inside it to the north. This district, or
region, is marked by a peculiar physical character. It is a land of
hills (not mountains), woods, and running streams, and the inhabitants,
until their country was opened by good roads, were scarcely less a
people apart than the Bretons. They have a language of their own,
which, though akin to French, is not French, and the people are now
for the most part able to speak French or Morvandeau at will (just as
in the Highlands of Scotland they speak English or Gaelic), and their
French is remarkably pure.

[Sidenote: The Morvan Race.]

[Sidenote: Material Civilisation.]

[Sidenote: Cookery in Burgundy.]

[Sidenote: Gardening.]

Now, if you compare the people of the Morvan with those of the plain
of Burgundy and the Saône, which is quite near, you find the most
striking differences. First there is a difference of race and of
physical constitution, the Morvan race being the smaller of the two,
the women more frequently pretty and well made on their small scale,
with a predominance of dark hair and eyes, and a rich rather than a
fair complexion. Besides this, there is a great disparity in material
civilisation. The art of cookery has been accounted one of the most
effectual tests of human advancement; when the people are clever cooks
they are usually, it is said, clever in other arts besides, and they
set a value on civilised life generally, and will be at great pains to
maintain it. Such an art as cookery may have nothing to do with the
intellectual side of life, and the Muse may exist on a little oatmeal,
though she generally does her work better on a more varied and more
interesting diet; but cookery is of great economic importance, because
a cooking people will appreciate all the alimentary gifts of Nature
and master the arts that procure them, whilst the non-cooking races
are negligent and careless providers. The French are reputed to be a
cooking race, but the Morvan people scarcely understand cookery better
than the Scottish Highlanders. Servants from the Morvan are often sharp
and active, honest, willing, laborious, cheerful, contented, amiable,
yet with all these fine qualities invariably unable to cook a dinner.
In the Burgundy wine district and the plain of the Saône a talent for
cookery is very common in both sexes, and there are plain unpretending
wives of small inn-keepers or wine-growers who would be perfectly
capable of serving a royal feast, and not in the least disconcerted
by the undertaking. All the Saône bargemen are said to be clever
cooks, and they live extremely well. In the Morvan the peasants live
with severe self-denial, chiefly on potatoes and thin soup flavoured
with a morsel of bacon. Their drink is often a poor kind of perry or
cider; they indulge in wine on market-days and sometimes sparingly at
home, but then it is of a meagre quality. Near the Saône the people
are a gardening as well as a cooking race; the Morvan people are not
gardeners; a rich man may have a garden as a matter of luxury, but the
peasants do not cultivate vegetables or fruit-trees. In some parts of
the Morvan the spring comes six weeks later than at Chalon on the Saône.

[Sidenote: The Fine Arts.]

Lastly, in the Morvan there are no fine arts. There may be occasional
artistic genius, like that of Gautherin, the sculptor, who began life
as a poor Morvandeau shepherd boy, but such gifts find no natural
development in the district. The Burgundy wine country, on the other
hand, has always been favourable to art of all kinds, and to learning.
Architecture, sculpture, painting, music, and all kinds of scholarship
have flourished at Dijon in an association (perhaps not altogether
accidental) with good cookery and the richest of all French vintages.

[Sidenote: Departments.]

[Sidenote: Provinces.]

[Sidenote: Districts.]

[Sidenote: Local Climates.]

I have dwelt somewhat disproportionately on this contrast, because
I know the country well. It is offered to the reader merely as one
example out of many. I am told by those who know other parts of France
familiarly that contrasts equivalent to this are to be found in various
other regions and districts of that extensive country. There are three
ways of dividing France, into departments, provinces, and districts.
The departments, although taking their names from physical geography,
as a help to the memory for locality, are in reality nothing more than
artificial divisions for administrative convenience. The provinces
(Burgundy, Normandy, Guienne, etc.) are convenient in another way,
because of their connection with history, and also because it is
believed still that the population of each province has a character of
its own. Districts, though without any definite political or historical
character, and often with rather vaguely defined limits, are useful
in fixing local characteristics in the mind. Only local antiquaries
could enlighten us about their obscure history; but one thing is
always noticeable about them which is that the characteristics of each
district are of a special nature. For example, the Morvan is a land
of hills, woods, and streams; the Sologne is a woody plain, perfectly
flat and interspersed with sandy pools and marshes; Les Dombes are an
insalubrious region, full of fish-ponds; and Rouergue (in Guienne) is a
land of hills and streams, like the Morvan, but with greater altitudes
and wilder scenery. The population of each of these districts takes a
certain character from the nature of its surroundings and from the
local climate, which in one place may be dry, in another rainy, in
one very equable and mild, in another extreme in heat and cold. Even
within a distance of fifteen or twenty miles you discover, from the
meteorological registers kept by the road surveyors, that twice as much
rain falls in one village as in another. You have the wet and woody
regions, the arid, hot, rocky regions, the lands of pasture and meadow,
the vine lands, the country of extinct volcanoes, the peat morasses,
the unprofitable sand countries by the sea where only the maritime pine
can resist the invasion of sterility.

[Sidenote: The Spirit of Towns.]

[Sidenote: An Aristocratic Centre.]

[Sidenote: A Commercial Town.]

Then there is the spirit of towns; each town has a certain
individuality, each has a spirit of its own derived from its historic
past, and from its occupations in the present. One town may be a
clerical and aristocratic little centre, where a republican (even
under the Republic) has not the faintest chance of getting into
society; a place where all public functionaries under the Government
are socially boycotted; a place where all modern ideas are quietly
ignored or despised, where reputations have no currency, and nothing
is valued but conformity to a narrow local standard of the _comme il
faut_. Thirty miles away, there is, perhaps, a busy commercial town,
where all ideas are centred upon a pecuniary success, and people are
esteemed exactly in proportion to their capital without regard to other
considerations,--a town where all the fortunes are recent, and all have
been acquired in trade.

[Sidenote: Extremes in the same Place.]

[Sidenote: Nîmes.]

[Sidenote: Lyons.]

[Sidenote: Michelet’s Description.]

Another variety, very little understood out of France, is that of
extremes meeting in the same town. This is sometimes especially
striking in the southern towns, and it may be of very long standing,
like the conflict between Protestantism and Roman Catholicism at Nîmes,
a city that cannot be correctly described as either Protestant or
Catholic; and yet there is more of each religion in it than there would
be if the rival faith were extirpated. But the best example in France
of a city combining the most opposite characteristics is Lyons. It
is at the same time most republican and most clerical. “There is one
town above all,” wrote Michelet, “where the antagonism of two ages,
of the spirit of old times and the new spirit, strikes even the eyes
in all its grandeur--that town is Lyons.... I leaned on the parapet
on the steep of Fourvières, and said to myself, as I looked upon the
opposite hill, gloomy, black below, under the cypresses of the Jardin
des Plantes, colossal above in its piles of work-people’s houses,
ten or fifteen storeys high,--I said, _These are not two hills; they
are two religions_. The two towns of Lyons, that of the convents and
that of the workshops, are the goals of pilgrimage for the poor. Some
of them come to the Lyons of miracles and seek charity; these come
to Fourvières.[91] But thou, good workman, wilt come to the hill of
labour, the serious Croix Rousse. The part in the banquet which thou
desirest is bread won by thine own hands.” I was reminded of these
words of Michelet when, at Lyons, I said to a mechanic who was working
on Sunday, “This task prevents you from going to mass.” The man paused
an instant in his labour, looked up at me seriously, and answered, “It
is not my custom to go to mass. He who works prays.” He then resumed
his prayer with hearty strokes of a hammer.

[Sidenote: The Nation of Paris.]

As in England, London is a kind of nation in itself, so in France we
have the nation of Paris. The word is so little of an exaggeration
that Paris has often, on the most momentous occasions, acted quite
independently of the country, and did actually proclaim its right to
autonomy under the Commune, whilst the constant effort of the municipal
council ever since has been to erect itself into a parliament at the
Hôtel de Ville, and have its own way in spite of the assemblies at the
Palais Bourbon or the Luxembourg.

[Sidenote: Character of Paris Local.]

The Parisian nation has not the same characteristics as the nation of
Londoners. The distinguishing character of London is to be, not local,
but world-wide; the character of Paris is to be as local as ancient
Athens, and as contemptuous of all that lies outside. It is commonly
believed that Paris is France, but how can it be France when it is so
utterly unlike the provinces? This error comes from the foreigners’
habit of staying in Paris only, so that Paris is very really and truly
all France to them, being the only France they know. Yet the character
of the French capital, so far from being representative, is all its own.

[Sidenote: Paris Artistic.]

France is not, generally speaking, an artistic country. In the
provinces few care for art or know anything about it, whereas Paris
is the most artistic city in Europe; and that not simply as the place
where pictures and statues are produced in the greatest numbers, and
architects find most employment, but as the place where art sentiment
is most generally developed, so that it runs over into a thousand minor
channels, till the life of the capital is saturated with it.

[Sidenote: French Provincial Life.]

[Sidenote: Intellectual Paris.]

[Sidenote: Level of Studies in Paris.]

France is not, generally speaking, an intellectual country. The
people are quick in small things, and they are very intelligent up
to a certain point, but life in the French provinces is far less
intellectual than in England or America. Parisians say that provincial
French life is absolutely and hopelessly stupid. They may think
that sincerely, for such an opinion would only, in their case, be a
natural effect of contrast, but it is an exaggeration. Provincial life
is not exactly stupid, French people can hardly be that under any
circumstances, but it is mentally very small and narrow, owing to the
extreme isolation of the few superior intelligences, and the prodigious
ignorance by which they are surrounded. Unless tied down to provincial
life by property, professions, or kindred, an intellectual Frenchman
gravitates naturally to the capital, which in this manner drains the
provinces of the best men. It is an exaggeration of French vanity to
believe that Paris is the light of the world, but it is really the
light of France. The provincials believe themselves to be more moral
and more serious than the Parisians, but they admit that provincial
life is dull without making any effort to enliven it, and the clever
provincial speaks of Paris as that paradise from which he is an exile.
Notwithstanding their apparent levity, I am told by all who are
competent to form an opinion, that the Parisians study better than the
provincials. The ordinary level attained in all studies is much higher
in Paris than in the provincial cities. The Parisians are the most
laborious and best disciplined art students in Europe. In the French
University the best professors are reserved for Paris, or promoted to
the capital in course of time, and they all say that the boys work
better there than in the provinces.

[Sidenote: Reputation in Paris and the Provinces.]

The difference between the Parisian and the provincial mind is shown
in nothing more conspicuously than in its different estimates of
human superiority. In Paris the question is what you are, in the
provinces what your family is, or what you possess. Reputation in
literature, art, or science, is relatively more valuable in Paris
than it is even in London, though it is very valuable there; in the
French provinces it counts for nothing, or next to nothing. Many
Parisian reputations never reach the provinces. The provincial habit
of respecting the idlest people most, is in itself antagonistic to
fame, which is usually the consequence of hard work. Then there is the
indifference, or semi-contempt, towards the pursuits that lead to fame,
towards literature, science, and the fine arts. The fame of political
celebrities penetrates everywhere like an unpleasant noise--unpleasant,
at least, to all but their own following.

[Sidenote: Parisian Manners.]

The French temper is not generally very sociable, yet in Paris there
is great openness of manner, and a charming readiness to enter into
that kind of intercourse which is lightly agreeable without involving
much beyond the passing hour. For the free play of the mind, without
any pretension to make it more than play, there is no place in the
world like Paris. It is a great art or a great gift to make social
intercourse bright and truly a relaxation equally removed from pedantry
on one side and the dulness of indifference on the other. There is an
ease, an apparent simplicity, and a clearness of expression in Parisian
talkers that we rarely meet with in provincials, yet these same
provincials acquire the Parisian polish after a few years’ _frottement_
in the capital.

[Sidenote: The Moral Contrast.]

I have said elsewhere that there is a contrast in the moral code
between Paris and the provinces. Paris now resembles, at least in
some degree, the Italy of Byron’s day, where illicit _liaisons_ were
tolerated if there was a certain deference to appearances; provincial
France, as a rule, resembles provincial England in the severity of
public opinion.

[Sidenote: Aristocracy in Paris and the Provinces.]

Aristocracy is of immense weight in the French provinces, even when
accompanied by very little wealth; in Paris it counts for nothing
unless accompanied by great wealth. Like London, Paris is democratic,
and takes each man for what he _is_ (famous, rich, talented, witty),
without inquiring what his ancestors were.

[Sidenote: Contrasts of Individual Character.]

[Sidenote: The Englishman’s Frenchman.]

[Sidenote: French Notions of English Character.]

Besides these local differences there remain in France as in England
all the contrasts and varieties of individual character. Some of these
varieties are known in England through the historians and novelists,
but many more are totally unknown there. It is useless for me to
refer to them in an English book without elaborate descriptions for
which there is no space in this volume. I need only say that as the
Frenchman’s Englishman is not an exact representative of all Englishmen
taken individually, so it is with that curious ideal type that may
be called the Englishman’s Frenchman. In my own limited experience I
have known a certain number of French people of whom English writers
would say, if I described them accurately and elaborately in a work of
fiction, that they had not a single French characteristic, and the less
the English critics knew of France the more positive they would be.
So, if you were to describe a talkative and genial Englishman, such as
G. H. Lewes, for example, French readers who had never been in England
would tell you that he was not English, that they knew better, that
the real Englishman is stiff, grave, proud, awkward, and reserved, so
that he can never have the flexibility of mind that Lewes possessed,
nor be, like him, an amiable and delightful _causeur_.

[Sidenote: Causes that diminish Variety.]

Notwithstanding the great variety that still exists in France,
certain modern tendencies are steadily diminishing it. The army is
silently making the peasantry more national, less local. Railways
take people from one province to another, and from all provinces to
Paris. Public education is the same for all France. The University is
not a local institution, like Oxford or Cambridge, but ubiquitous in
the nation, like the Anglican Church in England. Cheap postage and
telegrams make the nation itself seem smaller, and Parisian newspapers
penetrate everywhere. External habits are now almost the same in all
French towns; the hotel system is the same everywhere, the cafés are
all alike. Besides this, the French nature is not very tolerant of
individuality in character, but tends to reduce it to one dead level
of uniformity. “_Être comme tout le monde_” has long been the rule of
French civilisation, and there is nothing more contrary to its spirit
than to be “singular” or “original.”


What is called the “national character” of the French and English has
never been fixed, and it is now perceptibly changing.

[Sidenote: Changes in English National Character.]

The English were at one time not in the least Puritanical. They
afterwards became moderately Puritanical in the upper classes and
intensely so in the middle classes. They are now slowly but steadily
passing out of Puritanism.

The English were at one time more European than insular. After that
they became intensely insular, truly a peculiar people. Now, again,
they are slowly becoming, chiefly through the influence of London, less
insular and more European.

[Sidenote: Artistic and Scientific Ideas.]

The most powerful agents of change in recent times have been scientific
and artistic ideas. These ideas are continuing their work unceasingly,
and are even entering into the education of the young. To judge
of their importance as new powers we have only to remember that
artistic and scientific ideas formerly lay almost entirely outside of
aristocratic and middle-class thinking, and were confined to persons
specially devoted to artistic or scientific pursuits.

[Sidenote: Extent of Scientific Influence.]

[Sidenote: Its Result.]

The change may easily be under-estimated. The love of art and science
may be called a taste for pictures or a fancy for shells and minerals,
and so made to appear no better than an amusement. In reality,
however, the change is most momentous. Science has taught a new way
of applying the mind _to everything_. It has affirmed the right and
duty of investigation and verification, it has set up a new kind of
intellectual morality which has substituted the duty of inquiry for
the duty of belief. The immediate result has been, in England, a
sudden and amazing diminution of intolerance, a wonderful and wholly
unexpected increase of mental freedom. The people of England have
now become tolerant to a degree which could have been hoped for by
no one who knew the formerly oppressive and aggressive character of
religious majorities in that country. The boast of the national poet,
that England was a country where men freely said their say, is now
losing its apparently ironical aspect and may be true for the coming
generation. The bigotry that still remains is only an inheritance of
the past, it does not really belong to the present, still less to the
more enlightened future.

[Sidenote: The Influence of Art.]

[Sidenote: Art and Puritanism.]

The influence of art is less visible than that of science, and seems
inferior in this, that art is associated with ideas of pleasure and
relaxation in the public mind, though it is more associated with ideas
of study and hard work in the minds of artists. However this may be,
the influence of art is important in England as one of the forces
which are weakening the spirit of Puritanism. Art and Puritanism are
antagonistic forces. The true Puritanical spirit always instinctively
feels and knows this; for example, it shuts up the National Gallery on
Sundays, and would shut up the Louvre if it could.

[Sidenote: The Study of Nature.]

Another important influence of the fine arts is in directing the
national mind more to the love and study of nature. Art and nature are
not the same, yet art gives a new delight in nature. I am not aware
that this goes much beyond a refreshment of the faculties, yet, in
an age when men are jaded by over-work and by the peculiar fatigue
of life in large towns, a refreshment of this kind may be, and is,
more important than in simpler times. One of the modern modifications
of English character is that it seeks for natural beauty with a
new desire. The modern love of nature is connected with a certain
independence of conventionalism, and this is important, because
conventionalism includes so much.

[Sidenote: Changes in the French Character.]

[Sidenote: Modern Industrial Enterprise.]

As the English character is changing in these and other ways, so the
French character is changing by its passage from the military to
the industrial epoch. It is unfortunate that the enterprise of the
Panama Canal seems doomed to failure, because it afforded exactly the
outlet that was desirable for French industrial ambition. It was by
treating it as a patriotic enterprise and playing upon the patriotic
chord that M. de Lesseps attained a delusive appearance of success.
The exhibition of 1889, the Eiffel Tower, and the proposed bridge
over the Channel, are also proofs of French industrial enterprise
on a scale intended to attract attention. The ambition to excel is
still in French imaginations, but it is diverted in great part from
military to peaceful pursuits. There is no reason why French democracy,
which is really averse to war, should not take a legitimate pride in
undertakings that require as much science and energy, and almost as
much treasure, as the greatest military operations.

[Sidenote: Common Sense in Education.]

[Sidenote: Desire for Physical Improvement.]

Another change in the French estimate of things is the increasing
tendency to apply common sense to education in spite of old habits
and traditions, to discard what cannot be mastered, and to learn more
thoroughly what is practically possible and worth learning. The French
are also inclined to attach more value to physical exercises. The
English have lately become aware of this in consequence of M. Paschal
Grousset’s very laudable efforts as a journalist in favour of more
active amusements in the _lycées_; but the movement began several years
earlier, and that writer would not have succeeded as he did without
a public opinion already prepared to be favourable. I have shown
elsewhere that the French are by no means indisposed to gymnastics
and military drill. They are ignorant of cricket, as were the ancient
Greeks, certainly not the most inactive people of antiquity.

[Sidenote: Dominant Tendencies.]

The dominant tendencies in the two countries appear to be these. The
English are becoming more open-minded and the French are gaining in
practical sense and prudence. The English are advancing in religious,
and the French in political liberty. Material progress of all kinds is
obvious and conspicuous in both.


[1] Here is an instance of misleading by mistranslation. The English
newspapers speak of Parisian “Communists” when they ought to say
Communards. A Communist is a Socialist of a particular kind, who wants
to have goods in common after the fashion of the early Christians. A
Communard is a person who wishes for an extreme development of local
government. He thinks that the Commune (something like a township)
ought to have more autonomy--be more independent of the State. M.
Charles Beslay, an old friend of mine, became a Communard and was
Governor of the Bank of France under the Commune. He was a most upright
and honourable gentleman, and so far from being a Communist that he
defended the treasure of the Bank of France throughout the civil war of
1871, and afterwards handed it over intact to the proper authorities.
I do not accuse English journalists of intentional dishonesty in this
case; there is no English equivalent for _Communard_, the nearest
English rendering would be _township home-rule-man_.

[2] Observe that the like-minded companions were “few.”

[3] It is curious that the French gymnastic societies should be rather
discouraged by the Church, as giving too much attention to the body.
I have seen formal expressions of clerical disapprobation. There may
be some other reason. Everything has a political colour in France, and
I believe that the gymnastic societies, now very numerous, are mainly

[4] A French friend of one of my sons was invited to shoot at
Ferrières, on the preserves of Baron Rothschild, but he said he soon
had enough of it, as the game was so abundant that the interest in the
pursuit of it was entirely destroyed. He compared it, as an amusement,
with the shooting of fowls in a poultry yard.

[5] There are some remarkable exceptions. It would be possible to form
one French regiment of very fine men, but I doubt if there are enough
for two regiments. Napoleon’s _Cent Gardes_ were specimens.

[6] “In that case,” it may be objected, “boys who left school at
fourteen would miss Latin altogether.” Yes, it is Professor Seeley’s
desire that they should omit Latin, and those who left at sixteen would
omit Greek. The time so gained would be devoted to real culture through

[7] Since the above paragraph was written I have consulted a very able
_Professeur de Faculté_ and Latin examiner on this _Question du Latin_.
He says: “The young men who come up for examination have an imperfect
knowledge of Latin, and the standard of attainment falls lower and
lower. The remedy that I should propose would be to reduce to fifteen
the number of _lycées_ where Latin and Greek are taught. In those
fifteen _lycées_ I would maintain a really high standard of genuine
scholarship. That would be sufficient for all the real scholars that
the country wants, and then the teaching in the ordinary _lycées_,
being relieved of false pretension about Latin and Greek, might itself
become genuine in other ways.”

[8] In an article in the _Revue Internationale de l’Enseignement_ for
April 13, 1885. The article contains many interesting details.

[9] The following is a genuine English address from pupils in a
Parisian _lycée_ to their master:--

“My dear and respected Professor--I take the liberty of testifying the
feelings of gratitude which animate us all since we have been under
your tutorship.

“No doubt we have been lacking in zeal and attention, but we
nevertheless appreciate fully the pains you have evidently taken for
our benefit. We therefore assure you that if you are not satisfied, we
take the engagement to strive to do better hereafter; and you shall see
that we will be faithful to our word.

“We terminate with the desire that you will sincerely accept this as a
true testimonial of our real affection and respect.”

Creditable, though not faultless.

[10] There have been a few exceptions, such as Lord Egremont and the
Duc de Luynes.

[11] French carters are superior to English in providing two-wheeled
carts with breaks. I remember seeing the horses suffer very much for
the want of them in steep roads and streets in England. The French,
too, are usually very careful about balancing loads so as not to press
heavily on the shaft-horse, but they are merciless in first overloading
a cart and then beating the horse because the weight is beyond his

[12] My wife had no rest till she had procured the abolition of this
custom by an edict from the Mayor of Sens, but very likely it went on
in private afterwards.

[13] The University decorations of _Officier de l’Instruction Publique_
and _Officier d’Académie_ confer no social position. The fellowship of
the University confers none either outside of the University itself.

[14] The reason for the cheapness of the _lycées_ is because they are
not intended to be paying concerns (deficits being filled up by the
State), and because the pupils benefit by the wholesale scale of all
purchases, on which, of course, no profit is made. The buildings, being
supplied by the towns and the State, are rent free. Some of the newer
ones are magnificent. The _Lycée Lakanal_, near Paris, cost £400,000,
and is a model of practical modern arrangement.

[15] An English friend of mine, himself a man of the very highest
culture, says that the cultivated English keep their talk down to a
low level from a dread of the watchful jealousy of their intellectual
inferiors. They only dare venture to talk in their own way between
themselves in privacy.

[16] I can speak from experience on this matter, having had in youth
an intensely strong local affection for the wilder parts of northern
England, a feeling that afterwards extended itself to Scotland, but
I remember that when this feeling was strongest, the midland and
southern counties were quite like a foreign country to me--a very dull,
uninteresting foreign country--and I had no home feeling whatever in
London, nor any desire to revisit it.

[17] It is needless to quote Moore, but the reader may thank me for
stealing for his benefit a short lyric by an Irish poet, Mr. Robert
Joyce, which is full of the tender sentiment of patriotism, associating
love and death in the most touching manner with the often-repeated name
of one Irish valley--Glenara.

[Sidenote: An Irish Poet.]


  O, fair shines the sun on Glenara,
  And calm rest his beams on Glenara;
      But O! there’s a light
      Far dearer, more bright,
  Illumines my soul in Glenara--
  The light of thine eyes in Glenara.


  And sweet sings the stream of Glenara,
  Glancing down through the woods like an arrow;
      But a sound far more sweet
      Glads my heart when we meet
  In the green summer woods of Glenara,--
  Thy voice by the wave of Glenara.


  And O! ever thus in Glenara,
  Till we sleep in our graves by Glenara,
      May thy voice sound as free
      And as kindly to me,
  And thine eyes beam as fond in Glenara,
  In the green summer woods of Glenara!

[18] During the Franco-German war I knew French people who could not
utter the word “_Patrie_” with dry eyes.

[19] During and after the invasion the intensity of the patriotic
sentiment was always in exact proportion to the harm done by the
invader. It was very feeble where he did not appear, and stronger
in proportion to the duration of his presence and the harm that he
inflicted. It is still intense in Alsatia and Lorraine, and especially
intense in the French who have been expelled from those provinces.

[Sidenote: Varying Intensity of Patriotic Sentiment.]

[20] I regret not to have preserved some letters written to the English
newspapers by private soldiers, in which they described how they were
avoided by civilians even of the humbler classes. They appear to have
felt themselves more despised in uniform than if they had been out of
uniform. This is simply because the English people have never witnessed
the sufferings undergone by soldiers in time of war.

[21] For example, at the time when I am writing these pages, a young
gentleman, who is an intimate friend of mine, and who has received
a scientific education, is diligently preparing himself to pass an
examination for a commission in the artillery next month. Being
obliged to serve in the army in any case, and having a right degree of
_amour-propre_, he wishes to be an officer, and in a scientific branch
of the service.

[22] The throne of Louis Philippe was itself a democratic institution.

[23] For the reader’s convenience I quote four passages from Dicey on
the sovereignty in England. The references are to the first English

“If the true ruler or political sovereign of England were, as was once
the case, the King, legislation might be carried out in accordance with
the King’s will by one of two methods.”--_The Law of the Constitution_,
p. 354.

“Parliament is, from a merely legal point of view, the absolute
sovereign of the British Empire.”--_Ibid._

“The electorate is, in fact, the sovereign of England. It is a body
which does not, and from its nature hardly can, itself legislate, and
which, owing chiefly to historical causes, has left in existence a
theoretically supreme legislature.”--_Ibid._, p. 355.

“Our modern mode of constitutional morality secures, though in
a roundabout way, what is called abroad ‘the sovereignty of the

[24] The American system would not have succeeded in France. If
the president had exercised the authority of an American president
the Chamber would not have endured it, and there would have been a
presidential crisis, with a new presidential election, every six
months. The present system is not ideally perfect, but it suits the
French temper better than any other that modern ingenuity can devise.

[25] It may be answered that this could be done by refusing to vote the
supplies, but if the Sovereign were perfectly obstinate the House of
Commons could not long put a stop to the working of the public service.

[26] It is an English habit to represent _égalité_ as an Utopian
aspiration for equality in all things. The French understand it to mean
nothing more than equality before the law.

[27] Article in the _Contemporary Review_ for March 1888.

[28] The reader will observe that I have substituted “nobility”
for “House of Lords,” as there is no House of Lords in France,
and “clerical” for “academical” education, as there is nothing
corresponding to Oxford and Cambridge.

[29] _Popular Government_, Essay III.

[30] An English critic once said that the decimal monetary system had
not yet been accepted by the French people because they counted in
sous. They do not invariably count in sous, but they often do, and that
without being unfaithful to the decimal principle, as may be seen by
the following table:--

  The five-franc piece = 100 sous.
  The half-franc piece =  10 sous.
  The one-sou piece    =   1 sou.

[31] The word “conservative” is not used in this place with reference
to the Tory party alone. There is much conservative sentiment in other

[32] Even if the English did ultimately adopt the French weights
and measures, without the coinage, they would not enjoy the full
convenience of those systems, which consists in great part in their
_relation_ to the coinage. For example, in English land measure (what
is called “square measure”) you have 160 poles to the acre. A farmer
takes an acre at thirty-seven shillings, how much is that per pole?
I do not know; I must make an elaborate calculation to find it out.
A French farmer takes a _hectare_ at sixty-seven francs, how much is
that per _are_? Owing to the _intentional relation between measures
and money_, the answer comes instantaneously, without calculation,
sixty-seven centimes.

[33] M. de Freycinet, at the time when he was Foreign Minister in
France, expressed a feeling of regret, that owing to the instability
of English cabinets, it was not easy to carry on protracted
negotiations.--_Speech of the 27th of November 1886._

[34] _Memoirs of Mrs. Jameson_, by her niece Gerardine Macpherson,
First Edition, p. 154.

[35] This curé was an acquaintance of mine. His sister-in-law told me
the amount of the subscription as an example of clerical influence.

[36] Here is a case well known to me. The income of the commune is 3000
francs, that of the curé about 1000. To offer the free disposal of the
curé’s income to the municipal council is to offer a great temptation.


    “‘And will not one man in the town help him, no constables--no

    “‘Oh, he’s a Quaker, the law don’t help Quakers.’

    “That was the truth--the hard, grinding truth--in those days.
    Liberty, justice, were idle names to nonconformists of every
    kind; and all they knew of the glorious constitution of English
    law was that its iron hand was turned against them.”--_John
    Halifax_, ch. viii.

[38] This excellent lady went on a visit to an old friend, who found
her appearance so miserable that she took the liberty of clothing her
from head to foot. The saint was _aware_ that she had been clothed,
but neither pleased nor offended. She only laughed, and I believe her
secret satisfaction in the matter was that she could give the old
clothes to some beggar. I hope, but feel by no means sure, that she did
not give away the _new_ ones, which were a surprising improvement to
her appearance.


  “Her faith through form is pure as thine,
      _Her hands are quicker unto good_.”
                                _In Memoriam._


[Sidenote: A Civil Funeral.]

Hardly any one with the least pretension to rank or station, unless he
might be some republican functionary, would venture to attend a civil
interment in a French provincial town. A lady who knows the interest I
take in these matters, wrote me a letter in March 1886, from which I
make the following extract:--

“Il vient de passer sous mes fenêtres un convoi de la Libre Pensée, ce
titre étant brodé en lettres d’argent sur tous les côtés du corbillard,
qui est très beau avec ses franges d’argent. Une très grosse couronne
d’immortelles rouges est placée sur le cercueil, et tous les assistants
en portaient à la boutonnière. Le convoi marchait très lentement, très
silencieusement. Que de méchants propos se disaient sur le passage du
cortège! Nous n’avons pas encore le droit à l’indépendance. Il faudra
bien des années pour que nous ayons notre libre arbitre sans être

Insults addressed to a funeral procession are immensely significant in
France, where so much outward respect is usually paid to the dead.

[41] For Mr. Arnold the Trinity was “the fairy tale of the Three
Supernatural Men.”

[42] This is a religion entirely without dogma, and Christian only in
the sense that it would cultivate a Christian spirit.

[43] I have even known a sincere and severe Catholic who told me that
no one who disobeyed habitually the moral law, whatever his beliefs,
could be a Catholic. Giving drunkenness as an example, he said that
there had never been such a person as a Catholic drunkard, because
by the mere fact of being a drunkard a man proved that he was not a


[Sidenote: Mr. Mivart.]

How much intellectual liberty is now enjoyed within the Roman pale
may be seen in Mr. Mivart’s most interesting article on “The Catholic
Church and Biblical Criticism” published in _The Nineteenth Century_
for July 1887. Mr. Mivart does not think it probable that a line of
the Bible was written by Moses, whilst it is “in the highest degree
unlikely that Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob ever really existed, and
no passage of the history of any one of them is of the slightest
historical value in the old sense.” The book of Jonah is a parable,
that of Daniel quite untrustworthy and little more than a mass of
fiction. With regard to the Deluge Mr. Mivart says, “I well recollect
dining at a priest’s house (in or about 1870) when one of the party,
the late accomplished Mr. Richard Simpson of Clapham (a most pious
Catholic and weekly communicant), expressed some ordinary scientific
views on the subject of the Deluge. A startled auditor asked anxiously,
‘But is not, then, the account in the Bible of the Deluge true?’ To
which Mr. Simpson replied, ‘True! of course it is true. There was a
local inundation, and some of the sacerdotal caste saved themselves in
a punt, with their cocks and hens.’”

[45] “_L’Angleterre est instruite, élevée, gouvernée par ses
clergymen._”--PHILIPPE DARYL.

[46] An essential difference between France and England. “No one,”
says Professor Dicey, “can maintain that the law of England recognises
anything like that natural right to the free communication of thoughts
and opinions which was proclaimed in France nearly a hundred years
ago to be one of the most valuable rights of man.”--_The Law of the
Constitution_, first edition, pp. 257, 258.


[Sidenote: Law about Associations not Obsolete.]

The ordinary law about associations was declared by some English
journals to be “obsolete,” and revived only for persecution. It was so
little obsolete that it was steadily applied to lay associations. I was
at one time an honorary member of a French club limited to eighteen in
order that an “authorisation” might not be required; and I have been
vice-president of another club, not limited in numbers, so that we had
to send our statutes to be approved by the prefect, and whenever the
slightest change was made in them they had to be submitted again to the
same authority. It was a very simple formality, costing three sous for
a postage stamp. Had we acted like the unauthorised religious orders,
which declined to submit to this not very terrible piece of tyranny,
we should have been dissolved as they were, and turned out of our
club-house as they were turned out of their establishments.

[48] Author of _L’Irréligion de l’Avenir_, _Esquisse d’une Morale
sans Obligation ni Sanction_, _Les Problèmes de l’Esthétique
Contemporaine_, _La Morale d’Epicure et ses Rapports avec les Doctrines
Contemporaines_, etc. Guyau died in 1888 at the age of thirty-three.

[49] The reverend father is speaking of Her Majesty’s visit to the
Grande Chartreuse, which she was able to make by taking advantage of
an ancient rule made before the Church could foresee the monstrous
anomaly of an heretical king or queen. By that rule, which still
remains in force, a bishop or a reigning sovereign can visit a house of
cloistered monks or nuns. The Archbishop of Canterbury could, however,
scarcely get into a nunnery, as the Rev. Father du Lac informs us that
the ancient English sees were erased by Pius IX. from the list of the
bishoprics of Christendom.

[50] In the number for 23d July 1887.

[51] A Natural History Society was founded in Autun (a small old town
in Burgundy) two or three years ago. It now includes more than four
hundred members. Their principal pleasure is to take long walks in
the neighbourhood for geological and botanical purposes. They have
meetings, lectures, and a museum. Anything more moral or more healthy
it is impossible to imagine.

[52] There have been years in the memory of living men when anybody who
would take two barrels to a wine-grower might carry away one of them
full of wine (the wine being worth less than the wood); and when for
the payment of one sou a man might drink wine as if it were water.

[53] An interesting example of English improvidence came to my
knowledge recently. A professional man of great talent, who had been
eminently successful, died, leaving a widow and a large family of
children. At the time of his death the children were all married. The
widow was left without a penny, and was anxious to find a situation,
because the married children _all living up to the extreme limit of
their incomes, as their father had done_, were unable to subscribe an
annuity. In France they would probably all have had savings, and, with
the national love of the mother and sense of filial duty, would have
cheerfully hastened to provide for her old age.

[54] This is rather too favourable to the English of that day, as they
certainly did not take warm baths so frequently as French people do
now. They had not the conveniences. Few private houses had a bath-room
and few towns had public baths.

[55] Especially in combination with the beautiful colour of the waxed
walnut furniture and the red hangings of the beds.

[56] What follows is sketched from life.

[57] Plays were performed on Sunday at the court of Queen Elizabeth.

[58] Dancing, archery, leaping, May-games, and morris dances, were
expressly permitted by James I. on Sunday in his Book of Sports. He
forbade brutal sports only.

[59] The idea that governs the action of the Church of Rome with regard
to the observation of Sunday in countries where she is free to do what
she thinks best, appears to be simply the protection of toilers from
their own drudgery on one day of the week. She herself keeps the day as
a festival, and requires the attendance of the laity at one mass, which
may be short and early.

[60] I made inquiry afterwards to ascertain what the parish priest
thought of these proceedings, and discovered that he made a
distinction. He did not approve of dancing on the public dancing-floors
in the village, especially at night, because it sometimes led to wrong,
but he was not opposed in any way to Sunday dancing in private houses.

[61] The distinction between sacred and profane music is fictitious,
merely depending on the title that a musician chooses to give to his
composition. The distinction between serious and light music is real,
whatever the title. This is so well understood in the Church of Rome
that the priests allow any music to be performed in their churches
which is the expression of a serious or sublime idea.

[62] M. de St. Victor managed the estates belonging to the Countess
de Talleyrand, and he lived at her old château of Montjeu, one of the
most romantically situated places in France, in the midst of a large
well-wooded park upon the hills.

[63] The passage is very well known, but I may quote it for the
convenience of some readers:--

“And how is it possible that a man who has nothing, who is naked,
houseless, without a hearth, squalid, without a slave, without a
city, can pass a life that flows easily? See, God has sent you a man
to show you that it is possible. Look at me, who am without a city,
without a house, without possessions, without a slave; I sleep on the
ground; I have no wife, no children, no prætorium, but only the earth
and heavens, and one poor cloak. And what do I want? Am I not without
sorrow? Am I not without fear? Am I not free? When did any of you see
me failing in the object of my desire? or ever falling into that which
I would avoid? Did I ever blame God or man? Did I ever accuse any man?
Did any of you ever see me with a sorrowful countenance? And how do I
meet with those whom ye are afraid of and admire? Do not I treat them
like slaves? Who, when he sees me, does not think that he sees his king
and master?”--_Epictetus_, Long’s Translation, Book III. chap. xxii.

[64] A friend of mine knows an impoverished French Marquis, the head
of an old family, who lives like a peasant in a bare old house that is
never repaired. He and his sister consume one bottle of common wine
between them each week, and they are served by one old faithful female
domestic. Their ruin was caused by lavish uncalculating generosity, by
what Herbert Spencer would call the culpable excess of altruism.

[65] It is very significant that as the spirit of luxury has increased
in France, the width and costliness of picture-frames have increased
along with it.

[66] This reminds me of a French proverb often quoted by an old
naval officer whom I knew. _Rien n’est bien fait qui n’est pas fait

[67] I am myself old enough to remember how, when I was a boy, two
gentlemen of good family quarrelled over their port wine after dinner,
and one of them shouted to the other, “I’ll pull your nose, sir, I’ll
pull your nose!” Some highly polished young reviewer of the present day
will say that I had fallen into low company, but those gentlemen of a
past time were quite as good as he is likely to be with all his polish,
and it is probable that the aristocratic spirit was far more genuine in
them than it is in anybody now.

[68] For example, in the French neighbourhood best known to me it is
contrary to peasant decorum for a farmer and his wife to walk to church
together. He must go first with his male companions, and she must
follow with the women. It is also contrary to decorum for a man to be
seen giving his arm to his wife, under any circumstances.

[69] I have heard of two cases that ended fatally, simply in
consequence of obedience to English decorum.

[70] A French gentleman wanted to let me a country house, and said,
with an air of conscious superiority, “It would be quiet and convenient
for the prosecution of your--your _industry_.”

[71] As a system of recruiting party adherents, it has the great
advantage of catching rather rich and influential people, especially
landowners. Very poor families would gain nothing by the “de,” and, in
fact, they drop it when it is theirs by right.

[72] This is stated simply as a fact and not in depreciation. There is
not a more respectable class in France than the peasantry.

[73] He also takes precedence of the bishop. An intimate friend of mine
was appointed to a prefecture. On his arrival the archbishop sent to
say that he would receive him at his palace. This was an attempt to put
the prefect in an inferior position, so he answered that it was not
further from the palace to the prefecture than from the prefecture to
the palace. The archbishop then came.

[74] George du Maurier attributes this happiness in the wealth
of others to what he calls “The British Passion for inequality,”
illustrated by him in _Punch_. An Englishman is walking with a
Frenchman in Hyde Park, and gives utterance to that passion in these

“_Sturdy Briton._ It’s all very well to turn up your nose at your _own_
beggarly Counts and Barons, Mossoo! But you can’t find fault with _our_
nobility! Take a man like our Dook o’ Bayswater, now! Why, he could
buy up your Foreign Dukes and Princes by the dozen! and as for you and
me, he’d look upon us as so much dirt beneath his feet! Now, that’s
something _like_ a nobleman, that is! That’s a kind o’ nobleman that I,
as an Englishman, feel as I’ve got some right to be _proud_ of!”

[75] The want of money, in these days, very frequently induces a French
nobleman to marry an heiress in the middle classes. This is the most
powerful cause of infractions of French exclusiveness.

[76] The essential difference between the scientific and the religious
views is that the one sees a special Providential commission, where the
other only perceives an undesigned accumulation of natural force.

[77] There is more English poetry of the same order, for example the
following, also quoted from Mr. Gerald Massey--

  “Oh! this world might be lighted
    With Eden’s first smile--
    With Freedom for Toil:
  But they wring out our blood
    For their banquet of gold!
  They annul laws of God,
    Soul and body are sold!
  Hark now! hall and palace,
    Ring out, dome and rafter!
  Ay, laugh on, ye callous!
    In Hell there’ll be laughter.”

[78] “Well, before _I’d_ put on stockings no better washed than those!”

[79] “Paid for, is it? It would not have been if thou hadst had to earn
the money.”

[80] Just before returning the proof-sheet of this chapter I heard one
French peasant describing his landlord to another in these terms:--

“Monsieur le Comte is one of the best landlords in this neighbourhood.
He thoroughly understands agriculture, he looks after everything on the
estate, but he never presses his tenants, never asks them for rent. On
the contrary, he is always ready to help a tenant in any reasonable

The landlord in question is a rich nobleman, living on his own land,
and not by any means regarded with “the most savage enmity,” though he
happens to be a Frenchman. I have seen his château and estate, a fine
property, beautifully situated.

[81] Probably her chief reason, unexpressed, was that to have been
asked in marriage for her good looks would have implied a deficiency of
dowry, or, at least, left room for the supposition that there had not
been dowry enough, of itself, to attract an offer of marriage.

[82] I was permitted to read a letter from the young lady’s father, in
which he said, “The offer was quite beyond anything that my daughter
could have hoped for, but after full consideration she decided to
decline it, and I think she acted wisely, as money is not everything
in this world.” The girl was left entirely free, as if she had been in

[83] A girl with £200 a year will expect, in marriage, a household
expenditure of £800 a year. I proposed this theoretical proportion to a
French gentleman of much experience, and he said that the estimate was

[84] Of course I mean with reference to aristocratic rank. A duke who
has talent of his own is likely to recognise it in others.


[Sidenote: An Artist in Goodness.]

The public knows something of Madame Boucicaut’s acts of public
beneficence (though they were so numerous that it is impossible to
remember such a list), but I have learned through several different
private channels how thoughtful her kindness was to individuals. By
long practice she had become quite an artist in goodness, having
cultivated her talent in that way as another might have learned to
paint or to sing. There was an inventiveness about her beneficence that
made it as original as poetry, and as beautiful in its originality.

[86] In any case a French officer cannot marry without an authorisation
emanating from the Ministry of War. A military friend told me that the
following mishap occurred to an officer in his regiment who thought
he would like to marry a certain girl in a certain town. He applied
for permission, which was refused. The regiment was sent elsewhere,
and the sensitive officer was smitten a second time, so he applied for
permission again. It came in the form of an authorisation to marry
not the second, but the first young lady. The officer did so, and
discovered, when too late, that she was one of those governing women
who order about their husbands like children, so he has leisure to
deplore the decision of the authorities.

[87] French carelessness in correcting is especially lamentable in
school-books. I have before me a French school edition of _Childe
Harold_, abounding in gross typographic blunders that must be most
puzzling to French boys. M. Taine’s _Histoire de la Littérature
Anglaise_ is very faulty in this respect.

[88] “Mr. Arnold’s studies of other nations, other ages, and
other creeds would, I should have thought, have led him to regard
Nonconformity as an universal power in societies, which has, in our
time and country, its particular embodiment, but which is to be
understood only when contemplated in all its other embodiments; the
thing is one in spirit and tendency, whether shown amongst the Jews or
the Greeks--whether in Catholic Europe or Protestant England. Wherever
there is disagreement with a current belief, no matter what its nature,
there is Nonconformity. The open expression of difference and avowed
opposition to that which is authoritatively established constitutes
Dissent, whether the religion be Pagan or Christian, Monotheistic or
Polytheistic. The relative attitudes of the Dissenter, and of those in
power, are essentially the same in all cases, and in all cases lead
to vituperation and persecution.”--_The Study of Sociology_, ninth
edition, p. 234.

[89] The French in Shakespeare has been said (never by French critics)
to prove that he knew the language. It proves just the contrary.

[90] Lady Scott was of French extraction, yet Scott could not speak

[91] The place on the steep on the right bank of the Saône, behind the
cathedral. Since Michelet wrote, a gorgeous new church has been built
there for the miracle-working Virgin.



  Accent, purity of, a mark of rank in England, not in France, 59

  Affections, family, strong in the French, 47;
    cooler in England, 49;
    cultured in France, 49;
    example of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, 51;
    English sympathy with the lower animals, 52, 53;
    French hardness, _ib._

  Agnostics, their influence in the French University, 42

  Allen, Mr. Grant, just to France as regards Algeria, 202

    See Marriage

  America, system of Presidential government unsuitable to France, 110

  Americans, their condemnation of idleness, 46

  Anglicans, philosophical, different opinions, 171;
    treatment of dogma, _ib._;
    formalists but not hypocrites, 172;
    amongst the English clergy, _ib._;
    nearest French equivalent, 173.
    See Church of England

  Animals, humanity of the English and hardness of the French, 52;
    cruelties in both nations in sport and cookery, 53

  Apocrypha, no longer venerated in England, 55

  Archery, unbecoming in English clergymen, 7

  Army, English, a profession regarding volunteers and militia
        as amateurs, 92;
    old purchase system, _ib._;
    French army under the Second Empire, raised by conscription but
        not national, 93;
    healthy revolution after the Franco-German war, _ib._;
    real dignity of all military service, 94;
    conscription under the Republic compensated by unity of sentiment
        with civil population, 95;
    by improvement in physical strength and activity, and extension
        of education, _ib._;
    national armies essentially peaceful when combined with
        parliamentary government, 96;
    French averse to the war in Tonquin, _ib._;
    conscription in the English army inevitable, 97

  Aristocracy, English, strong views of Matthew Arnold, 324;
    overshadowing the English mind, 326;
    favourable to simplicity of life, 327;
    faults of the French Noblesse, _ib._;
    their contempt for trade, 328;
    usurpations of the territorial “de” in France, 329

  Arnold, Dr., his personal influence in moral training, 39;
    depended on his being a clergyman, 43

  Arnold, Matthew, error as regards a French catechism used in
        _lycées_, 195, 196;
    confusion of _l’État_ with _le Pays_, _ib._;
    charges the French with immorality, 220;
    strong views of aristocracy, 324;
    his influence, 400;
    his division of the English into Barbarians, Philistines,
        and Populace, 401

  Art, independent of luxury, 295;
    beautiful materials, _ib._;
    the nude, 317;
    realism, 318;
    depreciation of English art in France, 410;
    appreciated by cultivated French artists, 411;
    English prejudice against French art, 412, 413;
    patriotic bias of French art, 414.
    See Education, Artistic.

  Artists, French, their generosity, 31

  Ascanius, his friendship for Euryalus excessively French, 47


  Bagehot, Mr., his defence of titles, 325

  Balzac, a hard-working genius, 403

  Beckwith, Miss, the English swimmer, 10

  Beljame, his evidence respecting the teachers and teaching of modern
        languages in France, 20;
    recent reforms in examinations and certificates of teachers, 21

  Bible, English knowledge of, 27;
    French ignorance of, 28, 55

  Bifurcation, introduced into French schools by Fortoul’s ministry, 29

  Bishops in France, may not ride or drive, 7

  Bismarck, Prince, charges the French with hating their neighbours, 83

  Black, William, his appreciation of patriotic tenderness in the
        “Princess of Thule,” 66

  Boar, wild, shooting in France, 11

  Boating in England, 3;
    limited in France, 8;
    French regatta clubs, 9

  Bonheur, Rosa, nothing in common with Landseer, 398;
    her reputation in England, 412

  Book-buyers in France, 395

  Boucicaut, Madame, a true success, 376;
    her goodness, _ib._

  _Bourgeoisie_, or middle class in France, 35;
    ignorant of art, 35;
    vastly increased by French system of education, 56, 57;
    inferior to the French _noblesse_ in field sports and equipages,
        but not in learning, 59;
    equal in purity of speech and language, 60

  Bright, John, a salmon-fisher, 3

    See Variety in

  Brittany contrasted with Provence, 434

  Browning, Robert, unknown in France, 24;
    his love for Italy, 72

  Burgundy, contrasted with the Morvan district, 436

  Byron, Lord, a distinguished swimmer, 3;
    widely known in France, 24, 408


  Cabinets, government of, in France and England, 110

  Cafés, French, maintained by habitués, 237;
    tend to separate the sexes, 367

  Calendar, ought to be international, 124

  Canadian society, Mrs. Jameson’s first impression, 81

  Carlyle, Thomas, his teaching not followed by the English, 399

  Carnot, President, his election a proof of the obedience of the
        French army to the civil authorities, 94

  Caste in France and England, 321;
    true and false, 322;
    aristocratic spirit, _ib._;
    titles, 323;
    peerage of Tennyson and Victor Hugo, _ib._;
    strong views of Matthew Arnold, 324;
    defence of titles by Bagehot, 325;
    faults of the French _noblesse_, 327;
    contempt for trade, 328;
    absence of pure caste in England, 330;
    new peers, 331;
    Anglican clergy, _ib._;
    French clergy and religious orders, 332;
    military officers in France and England, 334;
    officials, 335;
    _Noblesse_, _Bourgeoisie_, _Peuple_, 336;
    English gentlemen, _ib._;
    fashionable and educated classes, 337;
    French peasantry, _ib._;
    pariahs in England and France, 338;
    infidels and republicans, _ib._

  Catholics, Roman, results of emancipation in England, 125;
    English sympathies with French Catholics, _ib._;
    an international religion, 142;
    social preponderance in France, 153;
    devotion of Catholic Sisters, 161;
    genuine and formal, 174;
    liberal interpretation of the Jesuits, _ib._;
    dogma of eternal punishment, 175;
    misrepresentation as to the expulsion of religious orders from
        France, 191,
    horror at the marriage of the Protestant clergy, 208;
    good reputation of the French clergy, 223;
    observance of Sunday for the protection of labour, 273;
    incomes of the clergy in France as compared with England, 379

  Catholicism in England and France, xii;
    how far persecuted, xvi

  Cetewayo, question of England’s right to break his power, 87, 88

  Chambers, Robert, self-defence as to the authorship of _Vestiges of
        Creation_, 196

  Changes, dislike of, described by Sir Henry Maine, 120;
    detested by Mohammedans, Chinese, and Hindus, 120;
    by women, 121;
    provoked by old institutions, 129;
    future, in Great Britain and Ireland, 130

  Channel Islands, French jealousy of English occupation, 88

  Chauvinisme, a vulgar patriotism, ix

  Cheerfulness, no equivalent in France, 389

  Chevreul, the centenarian, respected in France, 54

  Church of England, its social influence over the laity, 40;
    its strength, 125;
    subjection to the Queen or Parliament, 141;
    intensely national, 142;
    question of disestablishment, 151;
    natural jealousy of nonconformists, _ib._;
    freethinkers not eager for disestablishment, 152;
    Mr. Voysey’s views, 154;
    many formalists but few hypocrites, 167;
    philosophical Anglicans, 171;
    their treatment of dogma, _ib._;
    examples amongst the clergy, 172;
    ritualism promoted by formalism, 175;
    old-fashioned Anglican formalism, 176;
    opposite ideas of the marriage of ecclesiastics, 208

  Church of Rome, founds all moral teaching on authority, 43;
    clerical jealousy of family influence in France, _ib._

  Classics, ancient, proposed abandonment in French schools, 18;
    views of M. Frary and Professor Seeley, _ib._;
    neglected in France, 19;
    value as mental discipline, _ib._;
    decay of the old veneration for in France, 55

  Cleanliness, English, an invention of the nineteenth century, 254;
    in England and France, 255;
    English pride in hardihood, 256;
    French warm baths, _ib._;
    cleanly appearance of the French, 257;
    effects of coal-smoke in England, _ib._;
    whitewash in England, unknown in France, 258;
    superior cleanness of the English, 259

  Clergy, French and English, contrast in horse-riding and other
        exercises, 7;
    in yearly emoluments, 379

  Clifford, Professor, fond of gymnastics, 2

  Closure, adopted by the English from the French, 127

  Clubs, more sociable in France than in England, 369

  Colonisation, unfavourable to patriotism, 67

  Comfort, English passion for, 285;
    opposed to Christianity and Greek philosophy, 286;
    difficulty of plain living, 287;
    English prejudice against self-indulgence, 287;
    stoicism of the French peasantry, 288;
    comfort combined in England with mental anxiety, 289;
    little known in France, _ib._;
    as costly as luxury, 290

  Commerce, its influence on art-culture, 32

  Communes, proposed payment of the French clergy, 150

  Communist, confounded with Communard, xii, _note_.

  Conscription in the French army, faults under the Second Empire, 93;
    revolution under the Republic, 94;
    improved health of the French nation, 95;
    increase of gymnastics and extension of education, 95;
    repugnant to English feeling but inevitable in the future, 97;
    disappearance of jealousies and social distinctions in the event
        of war, _ib._

  Conservatism and Experiment in French written constitutions, 119;
    not produced by love of change but desire for order and
        permanence, 120;
    Sir Henry Maine on the dislike to change, _ib._;
    tendency of the French to democratic conservatism, 121;
    permanent innovations in France, 122;
    decimal coinage, departmental administration, French university,
        universal suffrage, representative government, 122, 123;
    abolition of the republican calendar, 124;
    permanent innovations in England, _ib._;
    the Anglican Church, Catholic Emancipation, revolutionary
        monarchy, 126;
    opposition of Frenchmen to railways and of Englishmen to the Suez
        Canal and decimal systems, _ib._;
    adoption by the English of the French closure, 127.
    See Change

  Constable, revolutionised French landscape, 411

  Conversation in foreign tongues a rare accomplishment, 25

  Country, not an equivalent word to _patrie_, 75

  Courage, national, apparent decline in England and France, 261;
    shrinking from war, _ib._;
    French courage after Sedan, 263;
    bottled up in the Paris Commune, _ib._;
    difference of training in England and France, _ib._;
    football, duelling, boxing, and bull-fighting, 264;
    field sports and military service, 265

  Cricket in England, 3;
    not popular in France, 4

  Criticisms, international, reasonable and unreasonable, 89

  Crosses, alleged removal from French cemeteries, 192;
    the true story, 193

  Cruelty to animals, sympathies of the English and indifference of
        the French, 52;
    cruelties of both nations in sport and cookery, 53

  Culture of the affections in France, 50;
    want of it in England, _ib._;
    example of Queen Victoria, 51

  Culture _versus_ Rank, 60


  Dancing in the open air, out of fashion in France, 10;
    objectionable balls, _ib._

  “De,” the particle, supposed to indicate nobility in France, 329;
    assumed by many of the _bourgeois_, 330;
    money value in marriage alliances, 355

  Debt, disapproved by the French, 46

  Decimal system, a permanent innovation in France, 122, 127

  Decorum, difference in national ideas, 307;
    French and English bathing, 308;
    artists’ models, 309;
    natural necessities, 310;
    language, 311;
    inequalities of strictness, 312;
    French reserve, 313;
    at funerals, 313;
    in literature, 314;
    divorce reports in France and England, 315;
    English tolerance of old books, _ib._;
    Byron and Shakespeare, 316;
    comic papers, _ib._;
    the nude in art, 317;
    realism, 318

  Deer in France, 11

  Democracy inevitable in France after Mirabeau’s declaration of the
        sovereignty of the people, 105;
    resemblance in the growth in France and England, 106;
    comparison of the two revolutions, 107;
    government in France, 109

  Departmental administration in France, a permanent innovation, 123

  Dicey, Professor, his explanation of the sovereignty of parliament
        and people in England, 107

  Dickens, a great reputation in France as an inventor, 408

  Dissenters, dislike to being treated as inferiors, 132.
    See Nonconformist.

  Dissimulation encouraged in France by clerical teachers, 41

  Dowries, in France, 359;
    in England, 360

  Drouet, Juliette, her relations with Victor Hugo, 211

  Du Lac, Father, his views respecting Her Majesty the Queen, 200

  Duelling in France and England, 277;
    an appeal to divine justice, _ib._;
    its survival in France, 278;
    English sentiment expressed in Thackeray’s _Newcomes_, 279;
    French sentiment, _ib._;
    extinguished in England by ridicule, 279;
    a modern French duel, 280;
    its causes, _ib._;
    difficulty in abolishing the custom, 281

  Duruy’s Ministry, established the _Enseignement Spécial_ in the
        French Schools, 29

  Duty. See Patriotic Duty.


  Edinburgh, its superiority as an art-centre to Lyons or
        Marseilles, 36;
    the centre of the literature and art of the Scottish
        Lowlanders, 425

  Education, artistic, French and English, 31;
    seriousness of the French in teaching, _ib._;
    generosity of French artists towards all art students, _ib._;
    extension of art teaching in England, 32;
    spread of sound elementary drawing amongst the French people, _ib._;
    promoted by the desire for commercial success, _ib._;
    art schools in Lancashire, a reaction against the ugliness of the
        industrial age, 33;
    comparative torpor of artistic life in French country towns, 34;
    leadership of art in France maintained by Paris, 35;
    academical teaching in England, 35;
    superiority of Edinburgh as an art-centre to Lyons or Marseilles, 36;
    difficult for the English to understand art, 37;
    success of Ruskin’s moral criticism, _ib._;
    English love of nature an impediment, 38;
    feebler moral sense of Parisians favourable to their acceptance of
        art, _ib._;
    contrast of English and Parisian ideals, _ib._

  Education of feelings of French and English, 47;
    cultivated in France, repressed in England, _ib._;
    love of mothers by Frenchmen and Englishmen compared, _ib._;
    sentiment of friendship, 48;
    coolness of the family affections in England, 49;
    their culture in France, 50;
    causes of the difference, _ib._;
    healthy influence of the Queen in the expression of the feelings, 51;
    English sympathy with the lower animals ridiculed in France, 52;
    hardness of the scientific spirit, _ib._;
    cruelties for the sake of sport or cookery, 53;
    sentiment of reverence dying out in France, 54;
    decaying in England except towards the Bible and the Throne, 55;
    loss of veneration and faith, _ib._

  Education, Intellectual, French and English, 15;
    superiority of Latin and Greek maintained by both, _ib._;
    Latin more important in France, and Greek in England, _ib._;
    antiquity and mystery of ancient languages and dignity of the
        teacher, 16;
    priestly character of Latin in France, _ib._;
    French contempt for modern languages, 17;
    present tendency to thorough study of the classics or to abandon
        them, 18;
    views of M. Raoul Frary and Professor Seeley as regards Latin and
        Greek, _ib._;
    of masters in the French _lycées_, 19;
    Latin and Greek regarded as mental gymnastics, _ib._;
    neglect of Greek, _ib._;
    inferior study of modern languages in French schools, 20;
    inferior teachers, _ib._;
    neglect of English, 21;
    recent reforms, _ib._;
    vast improvement in teachers of modern languages in France, _ib._;
    examinations and certificates, 21;
    inferior teachers of modern languages in England, 22;
    difficulties in appreciating foreign poetry, 23;
    English difficulties with French verse, 24;
    conventional ignorance of English literature in France, _ib._;
    knowledge of languages apart from a knowledge of literature, 25;
    hollow pretensions to superior education, 26;
    diminution of libraries in France and England, 27;
  of the English in a knowledge of the Bible, 27;
    science more studied than literature, 28;
    present varieties in French secondary education, _ib._;
    old system of Napoleon I, _ib._;
    the _Bifurcation_ of Fortoul’s ministry, 29;
    the _Enseignement Spécial_ of Duruy’s ministry, _ib._;
    present varieties, 30

  Education, moral training, French and English, 39;
    difficulty in ascertaining its results on character, _ib._;
    personal influence of Dr. Arnold, _ib._;
    national moral sense stronger in England than in France, 40;
    moral influence of the Church of England superior to that of the
        Roman Catholic clergy, _ib._;
    clerical education only beneficial to believers, 41;
    creates habits of dissimulation in unbelievers, _ib._;
    turns French unbelievers into hypocrites, _ib._;
    Agnostics in the French University, 42;
    moral authority of the Catholic clergy wanting in lay teaching, _ib._;
    moral authority of parents discouraged by the Catholic clergy, 43;
    value of home influences in France, _ib._;
    French boys civilised by their mothers, 44;
    manners acquired in French seminaries, _ib._;
    home influences and school influences in England, _ib._;
    advantages of English grammar schools in the country, 45;
    conflict between social morality and international immorality, _ib._;
    value of public opinion as a moral authority, 46;
    French disapproval of debt, and American disapproval of
        idleness, _ib._;
    professional virtues of soldiers and medical practitioners, _ib._

  Education, Physical, French and English, 1;
    English not scientifically trained except for boat races, _ib._;
    activity due to open air amusements, _ib._;
    physical pursuits of distinguished Englishmen, 2;
    Professor Clifford, Gladstone, Wordsworth, Scott, Byron, Keats,
        Shelley, Tyndall, Millais, John Bright, Fawcett, Trollope,
        and Palmerston, 3;
    cricket exclusively English, 4;
    French abandonment of tennis, _ib._;
    tendency towards gymnastics and military drill, 5;
    fencing, 6;
    walking powers of English women, _ib._;
    of French peasants, _ib._;
    horse-riding in England and France, _ib._;
    contrast in French and English clergy, 7;
    relative strictness as regards amusements, _ib._;
    activity and dignity, 8;
    disappearance of French prejudice against boating, _ib._;
    swimming cultivated more in France than in England, 9;
    exceptional cases of Miss Beckwith, Captain Webb, and
        Vice-Chancellor Shadwell’s family, 10;
    French dancing, past and present, _ib._;
    field sports in France and England, _ib._;
    hunting in France, 11;
    opposition of French farmers and peasant proprietors, 12;
    contrasts in the physical life of classes more striking in
        England, _ib._;
    ideal of a whole nation equal to the English aristocracy, _ib._;
    sedentary life of the French middle classes, 13;
    velocipedes and volunteering of the English middle class, _ib._;
    French peasantry and English factory workers, _ib._;
    comparison of the physical qualities of the two races, _ib._;
    decline of health and strength in both, 14

  Education, rank of, in France and England, 56;
    not a class distinction in France, _ib._;
    the bachelor degree necessary in France for some professions, _ib._;
    not absolutely necessary in England, _ib._;
    French boys trained as _bourgeois_, English boys as gentlemen, 57;
    no Eton or Oxford in France, _ib._;
    confers social distinction in England, _ib._;
    English mistakes about French _lycées_, 58;
    little social distinction conferred by education in France, 59;
    purity of accent a mark of rank in England, not in France, _ib._;
    French _noblesse_ outshine the _bourgeoisie_, not in learning, but
        in field sports and equipages, _ib._;
    culture _versus_ rank, 60

  Egypt, French jealousy of English occupation, 87

  England. See French and English

  English and French. See French

  English, peculiar notions of political evolution in France, 104;
    their preservation of an aristocracy and monarchy, 108;
    misrepresented in France, 187, 188;
    untruthful charges against the French Government, 190

  _Enigmas of Life_, by Mr. W. R. Greg, want of sympathy for the
        growth of free institutions in France, 105

  _Enseignement Spécial_ established in France by Duruy’s Ministry, 29

  Epictetus, indifference to comfort, 286

  Etching, revival of, 398

  Eton, boating and cricket surprising to foreigners, 3;
    associated with social distinction, 57, 59

  Etty, prejudiced against French art, 413

  Europe, considered by Orientals as one nation, 421;
    evidence of Mr. Palgrave, _ib._;
    differences between England and France, 422.
    See Variety in Britain and Variety in France

  Euryalus, his affection for his mother, 47

  Exhibitions, public, English in the provinces superior to those in
        France, 34


  Factory population in England, its deterioration, 13

  Faith, two meanings, custom and conviction, 159;
    sacrifice the test of sincerity, 160;
    example of a young Frenchman, _ib._;
    devotion of Catholic sisters, 161;
    an Anglican saint, 163;
    an Anglican layman, 164;
    a Catholic and Protestant, 165;
    political and social convictions, 166

  Family influence in France, 43;
    undervalued in England, 44;
    love of sons for mothers in France and England, 47;
    coolness of the affections in England, 49;
    their culture in France, 50;
    decay of reverence in France, 54;
    dispersion of middle-class families in England, 69

  Farmers in France, their opposition to hunting, 12

  Fawcett, Mr., love of riding and skating after his blindness, 3

  Fencing, practised in France, 6

  Feelings. See Education of

  Field sports, difference between France and England in
        game-preserving, 10;
    game in France, 11;
    deer and wild boar, _ib._;
    French hunting, _ib._

  Flaxman, his illustrations of Homer appreciated in France, 411

  Foreign policy, its continuity in England, 98;
    unpatriotic in France, _ib._

  Foreigners, impartial treatment of, viii;
    ridiculous or wicked, x;
    their difficulties in society, 25

  Formalism, distinct from hypocrisy, 167;
    prevalence in the Church of England, _ib._;
    among atheists, 168;
    in England and France, 169;
    at marriages and funerals, _ib._;
    of philosophical Anglicans, 171;
    association with ritualism, 175;
    weakening effect on faith, 177

  Fortoul’s ministry, introduced the “_bifurcation_” into French
        schools, 29

  France. See Variety in

  France, desire for rest, 135;
    no ritualist party, 176;
    her sympathy with Gordon at Khartoum, 202;
    feeling about war, 203.
    See French and English

  France and England, second-class powers, 262;
    varying degrees of dissimilarity at different periods, 269;
    courtesy in France and England, 297;
    caste in France and England, 321;
    aristocratic spirit, 322;
    comparative wealth of France and England, 339;
    creations of the nineteenth century, 340;
    developments of industries, 341;
    necessity for wealth in England, 342;
    French feeling about riches, 343;
    sanctity of wealth in England, 344;
    sentiments of the poor, 345;
    national defence, 351;
    marriage alliances, 353;
    sociability greater in England, 363;
    separation of the sexes in France, _ib._;
    difference in England, 365;
    want of amusements in France, 367;
    divisions in France and England, 371;
    personal success, 375;
    known in France to the middle classes, _ib._;
    money-making in France, 376;
    lotteries and private gambling, 377;
    overcrowded professions in France, 378;
    incomes of French and English clergy, 379;
    of the army, public offices, etc., 381;
    wealthy traders, 382;
    English manufacturers, _ib._;
    cost of living in France and England, 383;
    strong contrasts in France, 385;
    little pleasures, 386;
    Paris and London, 387;
    provincial life in France and England, _ib._;
    industrial civilisation a failure, 388;
    French gaiety and English gravity, 389;
    national success at home, 390;
    comparison of France and England in religion and politics, 391;
    in finance, 392;
    party feeling, 393;
    science, _ib._;
    manufactures, 394;
    printing, 395;
    painting, 396;
    literature, 399;
    poetry, 401;
    young philosophers, 403;
    journalists, _ib._;
    dread of war in both countries, 404;
    English and French prejudices in art, 413;
    difference in the military reputation of France and England, 417;
    former French confidence and present English anxiety, _ib._;
    difference between England and France. See _Variety in Britain_
        and _Variety in France_;
    modern changes in the national character of France and England, 445

  Frary, M. Raoul, proposed abandonment of the classics, 18

  Freethinkers, not eager for disestablishment, 152;
    support state religions, 157;
    dislike dissenters in England and Protestants in France, 158

  French and English, euphony of title, vii;
    question of mutual consideration, ix;
    tendencies to resemblance, xiii;
    Catholics and Protestants, xv;
    opposition of French Republicans to England, xvii

    chronology, 269;
    comfort, 285;
    luxury, 291;
    manners, 297;
    decorum, 307

    physical, _ib._;
    intellectual, 15;
    artistic, 31;
    moral training, 39;
    feelings, 47;
    rank, 56

    patriotic tenderness, 65;
    pride, 77;
    jealousy, 85;
    duty, 91

    revolution, 103;
    liberty, 112;
    conservatism, 119;
    stability, 129

    state establishments, 141;
    disestablishment in France and England, 147;
    social power, 153;
    faith, 159;
    formalism, 167

    caste, 321;
    wealth, 339;
    alliances, 353;
    intercourse, 363

    personal, 375;
    national, at home, 390;
    abroad, 406

    in Britain, 421;
    in France, 432

    truth, 181;
    justice, 198;
    purity, 207;
    temperance, 233;
    thrift, 247;
    cleanliness, 254;
    courage, 261

  Funerals in France, religious formalism at, 169;
    unpopularity of civil interments in provincial towns, 170


  Gaiety, French, compared with English, 389

  Game-preserving in France and England, 10;
    poaching, 11;
    Baron Rothschild’s preserves at Ferrières, 11 _note_

  Gibraltar, English possession galling to Spain, 88

  Gladstone, Mr., skill in felling trees, 2;
    opposes the masses to the classes, 113;
    bitterness of the contest on the question of Home Rule, 114;
    causes of his downfall, 116

  Glasgow, the centre of the industry of the Scottish Lowlanders, 425

  Gormandism in France, 239;
    variety of terms, 240;
    temperance of the real _gourmet_, 241

  Government, deceptive use of the terms “Monarchy” and “Republic,” xi;
    essentially the same in England and France, _ib._;
    confusion between Communist and Communard, xii _note_;
    adoption of French institutions by England, xiii;
    the author’s opportunism, _ib._;
    parliamentary system alone practicable in England and France, xiv;
    faulty workings, _ib._;
    opposition of French Republicans to England, xvii

  Grammar schools in England, their effect on family life, 45

  Gravity, English, compared with French gaiety, 389

  Greeks, ancient, their physical life compared with that of the
        modern English, 1;
    their surroundings compared with those of Manchester, 12

  Greek language and literature studied more in England than in
        France, 15;
    antiquity and mystery of the language, 16;
    neglected in French schools, 19

  Greg, Mr. W. R., want of sympathy for the growth of free institutions
        in France, 104;
    _Enigmas of Life_ quoted, 105

  Grévy, President, expelled by the French chamber, 117

  Guyot, M. Yves, proposal to pay the French clergy through the
        communes, 150

  Gymnastics, general indifference of Englishmen, 2;
    training rare except for boat races, _ib._;
    accepted by the French as discipline and drill, 5;
    discouraged in France by the Church, _ib. note_

  Gymnastics, mental, superiority of Latin and Greek as, 19


  Harrison, Mr. F., his view of the autocracy of the House of Commons, 116

  Hartington, Lord, quotes Professor Dicey’s explanations of the
        sovereignty of the House of Commons, 107

  Haydon, prejudiced against French art, 413

  Highlands, French, 433

  Highlanders, Scotch, their inertia, 423;
    lack of enterprise, _ib._;
    naturally gentlemen, 424;
    absence of the Fine Arts and poverty of literature, _ib._;
    outside European civilisation, 427

  Horse-riding, associated in France with military exercises, in
        England with hunting, 6;
    denied to French ecclesiastics, but permitted English clergy, 7;
    hunting in France, 11

  Home Rule in Ireland, bitterness of the contest between the masses
        and the classes, 113, 114

  Hospitality, decline of, in France, 369

  House of Commons, its sovereignty as explained by Professor Dicey, 107;
    quoted by Lord Hartington, _ib._

  Houses of Parliament, English, depreciated by foreigners, 415

  Hugo, Victor, French veneration for, 54;
    his relations with Juliette Drouet, 210;
    his peerage, 323;
    his resistance to Napoleon III, 402

  Hunting in France and England, 11

  Hypocrisy, distinct from formalism, 167;
    example of a church-going atheist, 168


  Ideals, English moral contrasted with the artistic of the Parisians, 38

  Idleness condemned in America, 46

  Ignorance of the English as regards Scotland and Ireland, 81

  Ingres, Father, venerated in France, 54

  Intellectual education. See Education, French and English

  Invasion, no cruel experiences of, felt in England, 75

  Ireland, English ignorance of, 81

  Irish, their patriotic tenderness, 70;
    exemplification in Mr. Robert Joyce the Irish poet, 71

  Intercourse. See Sociability


  Jameson’s, Mrs., first impressions of Canadian society, 81

  Jealousies, National, reasonable and unreasonable, 89

  Jesuits, liberal interpretation of Catholic doctrines, 174

  Joyce, Mr. Robert, the Irish poet, his patriotic tenderness, 71

  Justice, Intellectual, less appreciated in France than in England, 198;
    obscured by party dissensions, 199;
    sympathies of classes, _ib._;
    English gentlemen with American slaveholders, _ib._;
    with French Catholics, 200;
    class ideas in England, 201;
    in France, _ib._;
    vulgar patriotism, 202;
    French criticisms of France, 203;
    exaggerations in literature, _ib._;
    French pleasantry as regards Her Majesty the Queen, 204;
    injustice of Victor Hugo, Carlyle, Michelet, and Ruskin, 205;
    just and unjust accounts of railways, _ib._


  Keats, unknown in France, 24

  Knighthood, orders of, retained in England but not in France, 133


  Labouchere, his resolution against the hereditary principle of the
        House of Lords, 131

  Lamartine, signs of revival, 403

  Lancashire, art schools of, 33;
    a reaction against the industrial age, 34;
    almost a nation, 426;
    character of the Lancastrians, _ib._;
    their energy, encouragement of literature and art, and severe
        Protestantism, _ib._;
    connection with the Scotch lowlanders, 427;
    open to European civilisation, _ib._

  Landseer, nothing in common with Rosa Bonheur, 398

  Languages, relative study of Latin and Greek in England and France, 15;
    dignity of the teacher only to be secured by an ancient language, 16;
    antiquity and mystery, _ib._;
    proposed abandonment of the ancient for the modern, 18;
    inferior teachers of English in France, 20;
    vast improvement in the present study of modern languages in
        France, 21;
    in the status of the masters, _ib._;
    low status of teachers of modern languages in England, 22;
    difficulties in appreciating foreign poetry, 23;
    English difficulties in judging French verse, 24;
    exceptional knowledge of Swinburne, _ib._;
    rarity of conversational accomplishment in foreign tongues, 25;
    direction of future studies, _ib._;
    fail to elevate the mind, 26

  Language, English, its musical qualities denied in France, 407

  Latin, more studied than Greek in France, 15;
    antiquity and mystery of the language, 16;
    sacerdotal and aristocratic, _ib._;
    gave a dignity to laymen over inferiors and women, 17;
    proposed abolition in French schools, 18;
    neglected as a mental discipline, 19, 20;
    required for the bachelor’s degree necessary to professions, 56

  Lecky, unknown in France, 24

  Leslie, C. R., his depreciation of continental art, 412

  Liberty of thought in religion unfavourable to moral authority, 42

  Liberty, in England and France, 112;
    rule of majorities accepted in England, but not in France, 113;
    growing hostility of the classes in England, and hatred against
        Mr. Gladstone, _ib._;
    approximating to that of the classes in France, 114;
    opposition of the French Chamber to personal rule, 115;
    Gambetta, Ferry, Wilson, and
  Boulanger, 116;
    English jealousy of Mr. Gladstone, _ib._;
    Mr. F. Harrison on the autocracy of the House of Commons, _ib._;
    autocracy of the French Chamber, 117;
    religious liberty curtailed by political liberty, 118;
    free discussion in England limited by juries, _ib._

  Libraries, private, in France and England, 27;
    exclusion of indecent books, 219

  Literature rendered brilliant by malevolence, ix

  Literature, French ignorance of English, 24;
    superseded by science, 28;
    more influential in England than in France, 399;
    novelists and playwrights successful in France, 403;
    English writers known in France only in translations, 408;
    Russian novels popular in France, 409;
    English demand for French novels, _ib._

  Liverpool, cultivation of the fine arts better than in Rouen or Lyons, 34

  London, inferior to Paris in its maintenance of art, 35;
    French siege of, inconceivable, 89;
    a nation, 427;
    a state within a state, 428;
    its standard of civilisation, _ib._;
    not insular but cosmopolitan, _ib._;
    absorbing the English aristocracy, 429

  Lords, House of, its hereditary principle threatened, 131

  Lotteries in France, 377

  Louis XIV of France, the realisation of ideal monarchy, 109

  Lowlanders, Scotch, repugnance to polish, 424;
    sabbatarianism, industrial triumphs, intellectual distinction, and
        taste for the Fine Arts, 425;
    their resemblances to the Lancastrians, 426

  Lunch, English, unknown in France, 368

  Luxury, definition of, 291;
    connected with expense and not with cheap pleasures, 292;
    development, _ib._;
    a home product in France but an exotic in England, 293;
    domestic servants, _ib._;
    dress, 294;
    independent of Art, 295;
    French commonplace, 296

  _Lycées_, French, absence of cricket, 4;
    proposed abolition of Latin as compulsory, 18;
    question of excluding Greek, 19;
    teaching of modern languages, 20;
    examination and certificate of teachers, 21;
    pupils compared with those in seminaries, 44;
    disregard of social distinctions, 58;
    their cheapness, _ib._;
    distinguished from seminaries, 59;
    lay masters and priests, _ib._;
    deny the use of the catechism described by Matthew Arnold, 195

  Lyons, cultivation of the Fine Arts inferior to that in Manchester
        or Liverpool, 34;
    a town of contrasts, 439;
    Michelet’s description of, _ib._


  Macculloch, Dr., his description of the inertia of the Scotch
        Highlanders, 423

  Macpherson’s _Ossian_ the one literary success in the Scotch
        Highlands, 424

  Madagascar, English jealousy of French expedition, 87

  Maine, Sir Henry, his view of the dislike to change, 120;
    interest in Mohammedans, Africans, Chinese, and Hindus, 121;
    conservatism of women, _ib._;
    his contemptuous estimate of the French President, 135

  Majority, government of, in France and England, 113;
    a state of liberty only when balanced by a minority, 115

  Malevolence entertaining in literature, ix

  Manchester, cultivation of the Fine Arts better than in Rouen or
        Lyons, 34

  Manners, national and class codes, 297;
    courtesy in France and England, _ib._;
    epistolary forms, 298;
    French ceremony, 299;
    old-fashioned, 300;
    embarrassments, 301;
    John Stuart Mill’s observation in France and England, 303;
    English hospitality, 304;
  politeness, _ib._;
    bad manners in France and England, 305;
    French manners of George H. Lewes, 306.
    See Decorum

  Marriage, French and English ideas of, 228, 353;
    _mésalliances_, _ib._;
    class ideas in France, 354;
    pecuniary value of the French _de_, 355;
    London market, _ib._;
    _le mariage de convenance_, 356;
    prudent marriages, _ib._;
    French customs, 357;
    dowerless French girls, 358;
    varying dowries, 249, 359;
    English contempt for small dowries, 360;
    clerical influence, 361;
    companionship the only ideal, _ib._;
    prudence and rashness, 362;
    marriage-feasts of the French peasantry, 369;
    marriage of French army officers, 381

  Marriage of clergy, opposite ideas in England and France, 208;
    Catholic horror at the marriage of a bishop, 209

  Meissonier, comparable only with the Dutch, 398

  _Mésalliance_ defined, 353

  Michelet, his description of Lyons, 439

  Milan, King of Servia, educated in a French _lycée_, 58

  Military exercises, imposed in France by the conscription, 5;
    duelling, 6

  Military officers in France and England, 334

  Militia in England, a reserve of military amateurs, 92

  Mill, John Stuart, observations on French feeling, 47;
    on French and English manners, 303;
    his influence, 399

  Millais, a grouse-shooter, 3

  Mirabeau, his declaration of the sovereignty of the people, 105

  Mivart, Mr., on intellectual liberty in the Catholic church, 174;
    story of the Deluge, 175

  Monarchy and Republic, misuse of the terms in France and England, 103;
    character of the old monarchy in France, 109

  Monarchy in England, its possible duration, 134

  Moral training, French and English, the outcome of personal
        influence, 39;
    a national moral sense necessary, _ib._;
    stronger in England than in France, 40;
    influence of the Church of England superior to that of Rome, _ib._;
    effect of clerical education on unbelievers, 41;
    influence of Agnostics, 42;
    want of moral authority in lay teaching in France, _ib._;
    truthfulness damaged by clerical education of unbelievers, 43;
    French boys civilised by their mothers, 44;
    home influences and school influences in England, _ib._;
    advantages of rural life and grammar schools, 45;
    immorality in dealings between nations, _ib._;
    value of public opinion as moral authority, 46;
    national and professional virtues, _ib._

  Morley, Mr. John, his views regarding the House of Lords, 113;
    his influence, 401

  Morvan, district in France, a peculiar country, language, and
        people, 434;
    material civilisation, 435;
    ignorance of cookery, 436;
    contrasted with the Burgundy wine country, _ib._;
    absence of the Fine Arts, _ib._

  Music, national, prejudices created by political jealousy, 413

  Music, sacred and profane, 275

  Musset, Alfred de, popularity in France, 403


  Napoleon I, system of education founded on the classics, and lighter
        scientific studies, 28

  Napoleon III, never won any real deference, 83

  Nature, English love of, not always favourable to art, 37

  National Assembly in France, declared sovereign, 107

  Nationality in ideas, xviii

  National success. See Success

  _Noblesse_, French, surpass the _bourgeoisie_ not in learning but in
        field sports and equipages, 59;
    absence of culture, 60;
    life of the rural aristocracy in France, 61;
    barbarians in the upper classes, _ib._;
    despise trade and all professions save that of a soldier, 62;
    faults of, 327;
    contempt for work, 328;
    effect of poverty, 331;

  Nonconformists, natural jealousy of the Church of England, 151;
    less tolerant than Anglicans, 152;
    social equality not to be gained by disestablishment, 154;
    disadvantage in belonging to inferior sects, 155;
    Herbert Spencer’s views concerning, 400

  Novels and novelists, French and English, 213;
    invention of situations, 214;
    temptations, 215;
    French novels cosmopolitan, 216;
    variety in the demand, 217;
    trash, 218


  Ochlocracy, or popular government, 105;
    in France a mere question of time, 106

  Opportunist politics of the author, xiii

  Orders, Religious, story of their expulsion from France explained,
        190, 191

  Orleans family, misrepresentations as regards expulsion from
        France, 194

  Orleans princes, educated like other French boys in a _lycée_, 58

  Ossian, Macpherson’s, the one literary success in the Scotch
        Highlands, 424

  Oxford University, associated with social distinctions, 57, 59


  Painting in France, the exquisite and the vulgar, 396;
    qualities of English art, 397;
    relative success, _ib._

  Palgrave, Mr., statement that Orientals regard Europe as one
        nation, 421

  Palmerston, Lord, love of hunting and riding, 3

  Paris, superior to London in artistic Europe, 35;
    artistic ideal contrasted with the English moral ideal, 38;
    English siege of, impossible without allies, 89;
    a nation like London, 440;
    characteristics differing from London, _ib._;
    contrast with provincial life, 441;
    the light of France, _ib._;
    contrast in manners, 442;
    in morals, 443;
    in individual character, _ib._

  Parliamentary system, alone practicable in England and France, xiv;
    faulty working, _ib._

  Parties in England, probable opposition between strong monarchists
        and open republicans, 134

  Patrie, a sacred word in France, 74;
    “country” no equivalent, 75

  Patriotic Duty, in France and England, 91;
    English and French ideas compared, _ib._;
    volunteer movement in England, 92;
    English army more professional than national, _ib._;
    want of national feeling in the French army under the Second
        Empire, 93;
    revolution in public opinion under the Republic, 94;
    unity of sentiment between the French army and the nation, 95;
    influence of national armies on peace and war, 96;
    English repugnance to conscription, _ib._;
    likely to be overcome, 97;
    patriotism of the English in foreign policy during peace, 98;
    absent in France except during war, _ib._;
    confusion of patriotism with hatred, 99.

  Patriotic Jealousy, between France and England, 85;
    rivalry in Europe, _ib._;
    in naval strength, _ib._;
    equalities and resemblances, 86;
    rivalry in Africa and the East, 86, 87;
    English jealousy of French colonial enterprise, 87;
    French jealousy of English possession of the Channel Islands, 88;
    not to be settled by war, 87, 88;
    difficulties of conquest on either side, 89;
    jealousies reasonable and unreasonable, _ib._

  Patriotic Pride, in France and England, 77;
    strong in France before the Franco-German war, _ib._;
    subdued by the loss of security, 78;
    aristocracy humiliated by the establishment of the Republic, 79;
    not wounded in England, 80;
    strengthened by being the head of English-speaking nations, 81;
    by underrating other nations, 82;
    easy indifference of the French, 83;
    hatred of France for her neighbours, _ib._

  Patriotic Tenderness, in France and England, 65;
    increasing in France and diminishing in England, _ib._;
    loyal and pathetic as expressed in Black’s _Princess of Thule_, 66;
    nourished by rural life, _ib._;
    colonisation unfavourable to English patriotism, 67;
    expression in composite states, _ib._;
    increased by religion and poetry, but diminished by travel, _ib._;
    causes of its diminution in England, 68;
    dispersion of English middle-class families, 69;
    reluctance of the French to emigrate, 70;
    patriotic tenderness of the Irish, 70;
    of the poet Wordsworth, 71;
    attachment of the English to foreign countries, 72;
    Robert Browning’s love for Italy, _ib._;
    illusions of the French as regards France, 73;
    provincial feeling stronger in France than in England, 74;
    the words _pays_ and _patrie_, _ib._;
    no cruel experience of invasion felt in England, 75;
    varying intensity, 76

  Patriotism, as opposed to impartiality in discussing foreigners, viii;
    degenerates into _chauvinisme_, ix

  Peasants, French, endurance in walking, 6;
    their healthy and active lives in comparison with English factory
        workers, 13

  Pedestrianism, English ladies better walkers than French, 6

  Photography, French superior to English, 399

  Physical Education. See Education, French and English

  Physical Education, imperfect in England, 1;
    amusements of distinguished Englishmen, 2;
    cricket and boating, 3;
    high physical life of the English aristocracy contrasted with that
        of towns, 12;
    peasant life in France and factory life in England, 13;
    English and French compared, _ib._;
    future of the two races, 14

  Poaching in France and England, 11

  Poetry, foreign difficulties in appreciating, 23;
    in France and England, 402;
    English not appreciated in France, 406, 407

  Politeness. See Manners

  Political celebrity in England, 326

  Pope, veneration for by Catholics, 54

  Prefect, his official rank in France, 335

  Pride. See Patriotic

  Priests in France, may not shoot, hunt, or row in a boat, 7;
    may fish with a hook, 8

  President of the French Republic, contemptuous estimate of his
        position refuted, 136;
    his real influence, 137

  Presidential government, American system of, unsuited to France, 110;
    compulsory retirement of Grévy and peaceful election of his
        successor, 111

  _Princess of Thule_, an example of local patriotism, 65

  Printing, French and English compared, 395

  Protestantism, in England and France, xii;
    protected in France by Freethinkers, xv

  Protestants, their isolation in France, 155;
    ultra-simplicity, 177

  Provence contrasted with Brittany, 434

  Provincial Feeling, strong in France but not in England, 74;
    no cruel experiences of invasion felt in England, 75

  Public opinion, its value as a moral authority, 46;
    national and professional virtues, _ib._

  Puritanism, revolutionised the English
  people, 270;
    especially the middle classes, 271;
    experiences of an English family on a Sunday in Paris, _ib._;
    success of Puritanism in Scotland, 274;
    sacred and profane music, 275;
    effect on literature, 276

  Purity, dual relations between the sexes, 207;
    physical and mental, 208;
    opposite views of Catholic and Protestant of the marriage of
        Anglican clergymen, _ib._;
    Catholic horror at the marriage of a bishop, 209;
    opposite views of marriage with a deceased wife’s sister, _ib._;
    illegitimate unions in the lower classes, _ib._;
    tolerated in artists and writers, 210;
    Victor Hugo and Juliette Drouet, French opinion, 211;
    Lewes and Liszt, 212;
    immorality in great cities, _ib._;
    French novels no evidence of French immorality, 213;
    crimes frequent in all imaginary literature, _ib._;
    especially in English novels, 214;
    French novelists and their readers, 215, 216;
    pure literature in France, 219;
    misrepresentation of French lubricity, 220;
    extreme cases of vice, 221;
    social penalties, _ib._;
    rustic morals in England and France, 221;
    unmarried girls in middle and upper classes, 223;
    French and Anglican clergy, _ib._;
    soldiers and sailors, 224;
    student life in France and England, _ib._;
    Scotch and French students, 225;
    French and English schools, 226;
    domestic life in Paris, 227;
    conflicting views of marriage, 228;
    moral pride of the English, 229;
    want of it in France, 230;
    worship of the Virgin Mary, 231;
    moral feeling in England stronger than in France, 232


  Railways, just and unjust accounts of, 205;
    Mr. Ruskin’s diatribe, _ib._

  Rank, associated as with education in France and England, 56.
    See Education

  Regattas in France, 8;
    clubs, 9

  Religion, changed by political revolution, 118;
    denial of Christianity or of the authority of the Scriptures a
        criminal offence under English law, 118;
    dislike of dissenters to be treated as inferiors, 132

  Religion, real similarity between England and France, xii;
    anomalous antipathies, xv;
    relations between Catholics, Protestants, and Freethinkers, _ib._;
    decay of reverence in France, 54;
    in England confined to the Bible and the throne, 55;
    State establishments, French and English compared, 141;
    not national in France, 142;
    international character of the Catholic priesthood, _ib._;
    Anglicanism in England, Presbyterianism in Scotland, and
        Catholicism in Ireland, 143;
    co-establishments in France, _ib._;
    changes under the Republic, 144;
    contradiction, 145;
    neutrality in France, _ib._;
    toleration in England, 146;
    modern idea of State protection to all creeds, _ib._;
    disestablishment easy in France, 147;
    in Great Britain and Ireland, _ib._;
    impolicy of confiscating the stipends of priests in France, 148;
    subscriptions for the Church easier than for science, 149;
    proposed payment of the French clergy through the communes, 150;
    disestablishment in England, 151;
    natural jealousy of nonconformists, _ib._;
    social power of the Church of Rome in France, 153;
    isolation of Protestants in France, 155;
    disadvantage of belonging to inferior sects, _ib._;
    nominal orthodoxy alone required, 156;
    dangers of nominal heterodoxy, 157;
    State religion supported by Freethinkers, 157, 158;
    two senses in the word “faith,” “custom” and “conviction,” 159;
    sincerity tested by sacrifice, 160;
    example of a young Frenchman, _ib._;
    devotion of Catholic Sisters, 161;
    strong faith in both Catholics and Protestants, 165;
  between formalism and hypocrisy, 167;
    philosophical Anglicans, 171;
    examples in the English clergy, 172;
    French equivalent, 173;
    religion hereditary, _ib._;
    external conformity in France, 174;
    ritualism and formalism in England, 175;
    no ritualist party in France, 176;
    sham Christians in England and France, 184, 185;
    revolutionised in England by Puritanism, 270;
    observance of Sunday in France and England, 272;
    incomes of the clergy in France and England, 379

  Renan, his influence, 403

  Republic, French, regarded by the Conservatives as a foreign
        occupation, 391

  Republic and Monarchy, misuse of the terms in France and England, 103

  Republicans, French, their opposition to England, xvii

  Republican sentiment cooling in France, 135

  Reverence, dying out in France, 54;
    decaying in England except towards the Bible and the Throne, 55

  Revolutions in France and England, misleading terms “Republic” and
        “Monarchy,” 103;
    abolition of absolutism similar in both countries, 104;
    want of English sympathy for the growth of liberty in France, _ib._;
    beginning of democracy in France, 105;
    sovereignty of the people, _ib._;
    resemblances between the two revolutions, 106;
    sovereignty of the National Assembly and House of Commons, 107;
    aristocratic republic in England, 108;
    irregular progress of the democracy in France, 109;
    absence of a written constitution in England, 109, 110;
    cabinet government in England copied by France, 110;
    the misleading use in France of American terms, “Republic,”
        “President,” “Senate,” 111;
    peaceful changes, _ib._

  Reynolds, Sir Joshua, his writings on art appreciated in France, 408;
    his paintings depreciated as imitations, 410

  Rhyme in poetry, difficulties of pronunciation, 23

  Ritualism in England promoted by formalism, 175

  Rothschild, Baron, abundance of game in his preserves at Ferrières,
        11 _note_

  Rouen, cultivation of the Fine Arts inferior to that in Manchester
        or Liverpool, 34

  Royalist sentiment extinct in France, 54, 135

  Rural and urban life in France and England, 34

  Ruskin, Mr., causes of his success, an art teacher to the English, 37;
    his diatribe against railways, 205;
    his influence, 400;
    no readers in France, 408;
    depreciates French art, 413

  Russian novels, demand for in France, 409


  Sabbath. See Sunday

  Sabbatarianism of the Scotch Lowlanders, 425

  Sarcey, F., his evidence respecting the neglect of English and
        German in France, 21

  _Saturday Review_, remarks on education in France, 218

  Science, superseding literature, 28;
    its place in secondary education in France, 29

  Science and Art Department in England, 32

  Scotland. See _Highlanders_ and _Lowlanders_

  Scotland, English ignorance of, 81;
    French confusion of Highlanders and Lowlanders, 425

  Scott, Sir Walter, a keen sportsman, 3;
    his denial of the authorship of Waverley novels, 196;
    ignorance of French, 430

  Seeley, Professor, proposals as regards Latin and Greek, 18

  Seminaries, French ecclesiastical, their effect on pupils, 44

  Sentiment, natural to the French, but ridiculous to the English, 47;
    filial affection, _ib._;
    friendship, 48;
    sympathy, 49;
    degrees of relationship, _ib._;
    funerals, _ib._;
    neglected tombs, _ib._;
    cultured by the French, 50;
    in the English clergy, 51;
    English tenderness for animals, 52;
    French hardness, 53;
    reverence, _ib._;
    royalist, absent in France, 54

  Servants, domestic, in France and England, 293

  Sisters, Catholic working Orders, their devotion, 161;
    activity and cheerfulness, 162;
    example of an Anglican saint, 163;
    more common in France than in England, 164

  Shadwell, Vice-Chancellor, family swimming in the Thames, 10

  Shakespeare as an Englishman, 429;
    his ignorance of French, 430

  Shelley, his love of boating and swimming, 3

  Shelley unknown in France, 24

  Sociability, greater in England than in France, 363;
    French liking for talk, 364;
    separation of the sexes in France, _ib._;
    difference in England, 365;
    want of amusements in France, 367;
    especially in the provinces, 368;
    English lunch unknown in France, _ib._;
    decline of hospitality in France, 369;
    the club and the _cercle_, _ib._;
    restricted by religious and political bigotry, 370;
    divisions in France and England, 371

  Social distinctions. See Caste

  Socrates, indifference to comfort, 286

  Spain, her pride wounded by English possession of Gibraltar, 88

  Spencer, Herbert, great reputation in France as a thinker, 408

  Spencer, Herbert, his term “anti-patriotism,” vii

  Spenser, Edmund, not known in France, 24, 26

  Sports: see Field sports.
    Drill: see Military exercise

  Stability, English, French faith in, 129;
    wanting in English cabinets, 130;
    in the House of Commons, 131;
    threatened abolition of the hereditary principle in the House of
        Lords, _ib._;
    causes of the instability of a State Church, 132;
    question as regards the English Throne, 133;
    future of England, 134;
    of France, 135;
    coolness of French republican sentiment, _ib._;
    Sir Henry Maine’s estimate of a French president refuted, 136, 137

  Stoicism of the English, 47

  Strathclyde, old, included the western Lowlanders and Lancashire, 427

  Student life in France, 224;
    Scotch and French students compared, 225;
    morality of boys in French schools, 227

  Success, National, abroad, its vanity, 406;
    non-appreciation of English poetry in France, _ib._;
    French opinions of English writers, 408;
    Russian novels in France, 409;
    English demand for French novels, _ib._;
    French opinion of English art, 411;
    influence of Constable on French landscape, _ib._;
    wide celebrity of French painters, _ib._;
    French art appreciated in England, 412;
    English and German music unpopular in France, 413;
    national appreciation of minor excellencies, 414;
    depreciation of the Houses of Parliament by foreigners, 415;
    moral eminence of success in war, _ib._;
    French depreciation of the English navy, 416;
    military reputation of France and England compared, 417;
    changes since the Franco-Prussian war, _ib._;
    greatness of England dependent on her superiority in arms, 418

  Success, National, at home, 390;
    England greater in religion and politics, _ib._;
    isolation of French conservatives, 391;
    partial success of the Republic, _ib._;
    English and French finances,
    contrast in party feeling, 393;
    arts and sciences, _ib._;
    manufactures, 394;
    printing, 395;
    painting, 396;
    home success of French and English artists, 397;
    literature, 399;
    poetry, 401;
    young philosophers, 403;
    journalists, _ib._;
    dread of war in England and France, 404

  Success, Personal, difficult for a French gentleman, 375;
    familiar to the middle classes, _ib._;
    example of Madame Boucicaut, 376;
    money-making, 377;
    lotteries and private gambling, _ib._;
    overcrowding professions, 378;
    wealthy traders, 382;
    English manufacturers, _ib._;
    cost of living in France and England, 383;
    definition of real success, _ib._;
    little pleasures, 386;
    industrial civilisation a failure, 388

  Suffrage in England and France, xi

  Sunday in Paris shocking to English and Scotch, 271;
    in England before the Puritan revolution, 272;
    Catholic observance for the protection of toilers, 273;
    example of a French Sunday, _ib._;
    in England and Scotland, 274;
    distinction between sacred and profane music, 275;
    rowing and sailing, _ib._;
    effect of the Sabbatarian customs on literature, 276

  Swinburne, his exceptional knowledge of technical workmanship in
        French poetry, 24

  Swimming, cultivated more in France than in England, 9;
    exceptional cases of Miss Beckwith, Captain Webb, and
        Vice-Chancellor Shadwell’s family, 10


  Tea-drinking in England opposed to French ideas, 283

  Temperance, drinking in France as distinct from drunkenness, 233;
    possible allowance of a Frenchman, 234;
    wine a safeguard against spirits, 235;
    German wine drinking, 236;
    difference in drinking habits in France, 237;
    French abstainers between meals, 239;
    gormandism, _ib._;
    temperance of the _gourmet_, 241;
    quotation from Thackeray, _ib._;
    plain living in France, 242;
    consumption of spirits in England, 243;
    dipsomania, _ib._;
    growing temperance in England, 244;
    English love of flesh meat, 245;
    French economy, _ib._;
    English asceticism, 246

  Tenderness. See Patriotic

  Tennis, abandoned in France, 4;
    the parent of English lawn tennis, _ib._

  Tennyson known in France only to students in English literature, 408

  Tennyson, his peerage, 323

  Thackeray, a French _gourmet_, 241;
    ideas of duelling expressed in the _Newcomes_, 278

  Thackeray, little appreciated in France, 408

  Thrift, superiority of the French to the English, 247;
    pettiness and meanness, 248;
    English contempt for meanness, _ib._;
    selfishness and self-denial, 249;
    French anxiety to provide dowries, _ib._;
    discouragements to thrift in England, 249;
    contempt for small sums, 250;
    prodigality of the old French nobility, _ib._;
    modern examples of extreme thrift, 251;
    English improvidence, 252;
    results of thrift on the French nation, _ib._

  Titles, the consecration of wealth, 323;
    peerages of Tennyson and Victor Hugo, _ib._;
    defended by Mr. Bagehot, 325

  Tonquin, English jealousy of French expedition, 87;
    unpopular in France, 96

  Trollope, Anthony, love for fox-hunting, 3

  Toussenel, misrepresentations of England in _L’Esprit des Bêtes_,
        187, 188

  Towns, French, pleasantness compared with English, 34;
    render artistic life torpid, _ib._;
    their exhibitions inferior to English, _ib._;
    inferior taste in
  buildings, 35;
    inferior to English as art centres, 37

  Training. See Moral

  Training, physical. See Physical Education

  Truth, repressed in French education, 181;
    intellectual dishonesty encouraged, 182;
    sham admiration in literature and art, 183;
    less in England than in France, _ib._;
    literary lying about Shakespeare and the classics, _ib._;
    sham Christians rewarded, 184;
    Sunday observance and family prayers, 185;
    political lying, 186;
    difference between French and English, _ib._;
    French reliance on ignorance, 187;
    misrepresentations of Toussenel as regards England, 188;
    superiority of English falsehood, 190;
    French Government pronounced atheistical, _ib._;
    alleged expulsion of religious orders from France, 191;
    of removal of crosses from the French cemeteries, 192;
    expulsion of the Orleans family, 194;
    story of a French catechism, 195;
    Walter Scott’s denial of the authorship of _Waverley_, 196;
    silence of Chambers as to his _Vestiges of Creation_, _ib._;
    French and English ideas of truth, 197

  Truthfulness, a social virtue, 41;
    damaged by clerical education of unbelievers, _ib._

  Turner, not comparable with any French artist, 398

  Tyndall, Professor, a mountaineer, 3


  University in France, teachers of modern languages assuming the
        status of classical masters, 21;
    professors mostly Agnostics, 42;
    bachelor’s degree necessary in France for professions, 56;
    not absolutely necessary in England, _ib._;
    confers social distinctions in England, not in France, 57

  Urban and rural life in France and England, 34


  Variety in Britain, 421;
    four distinct nationalities, 423;
    Scotch Highlanders, their inertia, _ib._;
    Lowlanders, their Sabbatarianism, industry, intellect, and Fine
        Arts, 425;
    Lancastrians, their resemblance to the Scotch Lowlanders, 426;
    London, a nation, 427;
    a state within a state, 428;
    Irish, Scotch, Welsh, 429;
    Shakespeare and Walter Scott, 430

  Variety in France, 432;
    English ignorance of provincial France, _ib._;
    highlands, plains, and coasts, 433;
    seven distinct climates, _ib._;
    contrast between Brittany and Provence, 434;
    between the Morvan and Burgundy, 435, 436;
    departments, provinces, districts, 437;
    local climates, 438;
    diversities in towns, _ib._;
    Paris, a nation, 440;
    local as distinguished from London, _ib._;
    the most artistic city in Europe, _ib._;
    contrasted with the provinces, 441;
    contrast in manners, 442;
    in morals, 443;
    modern diminution of variety in France, 444

  Velocipedes in France and England, 8

  Velocipedes, undignified in France, 8

  Veneration, Catholic, for priests, 54;
    absence of in French republicans, _ib._;
    for Victor Hugo, Ingres, Chevreul, _ib._;
    want of in French family life, 55;
    in England for the Bible and the Throne, _ib._

  Victoria, Queen, an example of open expression of the feelings, 51

  Victorian era, probable consequences, 133;
    monarchy in England, its probable duration, 134

  Virtues, maintained only by a strong public opinion, 46

  Virtues. See Truth

  Volunteer movement in England produced by a sense of danger, 92

  Voysey, Mr., his warning to dissenters, 154


  War, diminution of national enthusiasm in England and France, 262

  War, dreaded in England and France, 405

  Wealth of France and England compared, 339;
    creations of the nineteenth century, 340;
    developments of industries, 341;
    social value of wealth in England, 342;
    French feeling, 343;
    sanctity of wealth in England, 344;
    sentiments of the poor, 345;
    views of Matthew Arnold, _ib._;
    and Gerald Massey, 346;
    aggressiveness of mill-hands in Lancashire, 347;
    respectful civility in France, 349;
    national defence, 351;
    rich traders and manufacturers, 382;
    cost of living in France and England, 383

  Webb, Captain, the English swimmer, 10

  Wine drinking in France, 233, 234;
    in Germany, 236;
    advantages of cheap wine, 236;
    wine and water, 238;
    growth of English taste for French wines, 282

  Women, their severe conservatism, 121

  Wordsworth, a pedestrian, 2


_Printed by_ R. & R. CLARK, _Edinburgh_.

Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations
in hyphenation and accents have been standardised but all other
spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

Italics are represented thus _italic_.


Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will
be renamed.

Creating the works from print editions not protected by U.S. copyright
law means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works,
so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the
United States without permission and without paying copyright
royalties. Special rules, set forth in the General Terms of Use part
of this license, apply to copying and distributing Project
Gutenberg™ electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG™
concept and trademark. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark,
and may not be used if you charge for an eBook, except by following
the terms of the trademark license, including paying royalties for use
of the Project Gutenberg trademark. If you do not charge anything for
copies of this eBook, complying with the trademark license is very
easy. You may use this eBook for nearly any purpose such as creation
of derivative works, reports, performances and research. Project
Gutenberg eBooks may be modified and printed and given away--you may
do practically ANYTHING in the United States with eBooks not protected
by U.S. copyright law. Redistribution is subject to the trademark
license, especially commercial redistribution.



To protect the Project Gutenberg™ mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase “Project
Gutenberg”), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full
Project Gutenberg™ License available with this file or online at

Section 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project
Gutenberg™ electronic works

1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg™
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or
destroy all copies of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works in your
possession. If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a
Project Gutenberg™ electronic work and you do not agree to be bound
by the terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the
person or entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph

1.B. “Project Gutenberg” is a registered trademark. It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg™ electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See
paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg™ electronic works if you follow the terms of this
agreement and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg™
electronic works. See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation (“the
Foundation” or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection
of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works. Nearly all the individual
works in the collection are in the public domain in the United
States. If an individual work is unprotected by copyright law in the
United States and you are located in the United States, we do not
claim a right to prevent you from copying, distributing, performing,
displaying or creating derivative works based on the work as long as
all references to Project Gutenberg are removed. Of course, we hope
that you will support the Project Gutenberg™ mission of promoting
free access to electronic works by freely sharing Project Gutenberg™
works in compliance with the terms of this agreement for keeping the
Project Gutenberg™ name associated with the work. You can easily
comply with the terms of this agreement by keeping this work in the
same format with its attached full Project Gutenberg™ License when
you share it without charge with others.

1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are
in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States,
check the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this
agreement before downloading, copying, displaying, performing,
distributing or creating derivative works based on this work or any
other Project Gutenberg™ work. The Foundation makes no
representations concerning the copyright status of any work in any
country other than the United States.

1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other
immediate access to, the full Project Gutenberg™ License must appear
prominently whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg™ work (any work
on which the phrase “Project Gutenberg” appears, or with which the
phrase “Project Gutenberg” is associated) is accessed, displayed,
performed, viewed, copied or distributed:

  This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and
  most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no
  restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it
  under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this
  eBook or online at If you are not located in the
  United States, you will have to check the laws of the country where
  you are located before using this eBook.

1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg™ electronic work is
derived from texts not protected by U.S. copyright law (does not
contain a notice indicating that it is posted with permission of the
copyright holder), the work can be copied and distributed to anyone in
the United States without paying any fees or charges. If you are
redistributing or providing access to a work with the phrase “Project
Gutenberg” associated with or appearing on the work, you must comply
either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 or
obtain permission for the use of the work and the Project Gutenberg™
trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg™ electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any
additional terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms
will be linked to the Project Gutenberg™ License for all works
posted with the permission of the copyright holder found at the
beginning of this work.

1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg™
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg™.

1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg™ License.

1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including
any word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access
to or distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg™ work in a format
other than “Plain Vanilla ASCII” or other format used in the official
version posted on the official Project Gutenberg™ website
(, you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense
to the user, provide a copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means
of obtaining a copy upon request, of the work in its original “Plain
Vanilla ASCII” or other form. Any alternate format must include the
full Project Gutenberg™ License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg™ works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg™ electronic works
provided that:

• You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
  the use of Project Gutenberg™ works calculated using the method
  you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is owed
  to the owner of the Project Gutenberg™ trademark, but he has
  agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments must be paid
  within 60 days following each date on which you prepare (or are
  legally required to prepare) your periodic tax returns. Royalty
  payments should be clearly marked as such and sent to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the address specified in
  Section 4, “Information about donations to the Project Gutenberg
  Literary Archive Foundation.”

• You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
  you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
  does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg™
  License. You must require such a user to return or destroy all
  copies of the works possessed in a physical medium and discontinue
  all use of and all access to other copies of Project Gutenberg™

• You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of
  any money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
  electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days of
  receipt of the work.

• You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
  distribution of Project Gutenberg™ works.

1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project
Gutenberg™ electronic work or group of works on different terms than
are set forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing
from the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the manager of
the Project Gutenberg™ trademark. Contact the Foundation as set
forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
works not protected by U.S. copyright law in creating the Project
Gutenberg™ collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg™
electronic works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may
contain “Defects,” such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate
or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or
other medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or
cannot be read by your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund” described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg™ trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg™ electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium
with your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you
with the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in
lieu of a refund. If you received the work electronically, the person
or entity providing it to you may choose to give you a second
opportunity to receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If
the second copy is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing
without further opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you “AS-IS”, WITH NO

1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of
damages. If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement
violates the law of the state applicable to this agreement, the
agreement shall be interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or
limitation permitted by the applicable state law. The invalidity or
unenforceability of any provision of this agreement shall not void the
remaining provisions.

1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg™ electronic works in
accordance with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the
production, promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg™
electronic works, harmless from all liability, costs and expenses,
including legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of
the following which you do or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this
or any Project Gutenberg™ work, (b) alteration, modification, or
additions or deletions to any Project Gutenberg™ work, and (c) any
Defect you cause.

Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg™

Project Gutenberg™ is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of
computers including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It
exists because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations
from people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg™'s
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg™ collection will
remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg™ and future
generations. To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation and how your efforts and donations can help, see
Sections 3 and 4 and the Foundation information page at

Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non-profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service. The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by
U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's business office is located at 809 North 1500 West,
Salt Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Email contact links and up
to date contact information can be found at the Foundation's website
and official page at

Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg™ depends upon and cannot survive without
widespread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine-readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To SEND
DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any particular
state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg web pages for current donation
methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations. To
donate, please visit:

Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg™ electronic works

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project
Gutenberg™ concept of a library of electronic works that could be
freely shared with anyone. For forty years, he produced and
distributed Project Gutenberg™ eBooks with only a loose network of
volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg™ eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as not protected by copyright in
the U.S. unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not
necessarily keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper

Most people start at our website which has the main PG search

This website includes information about Project Gutenberg™,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.