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ART. XIV. Letters to a Young Gentleman, on his Setting out for
France : Containing a Survey of Paris, and a Review of French Literature; with Rules and Directions for Travellers, and various Ob ervations and Anecdotes relating to the Subject. By John Andrews, L. L. D. 8vo. 63. boards. J. Walter. London, 1784. HIS performance, though by 110 means a work of ge
uius, yet may be of considerable use to the young traveller. The author has collected a variety of matter within a reasonable compass: for this both we and the public are obliged to him. He fets out with laying it down as a maxiin, that utility, not pleasure, 1hould be our object in travelling i that, to obtain this end, we should, previous to our quiting our own country, lay in a stock of knowledge, with which our callow travellers are in general totally unfurnished; and that the time neceilary for the acquirement of this proper fund will prevent us froin visiting the continent, till the age of twenty-five, Dur letter-writer next goes on, after taking notice of the general appearance of France and Paris, to mention the Parisian Çoffee-houses, and the company which frequents them. Comparing these places of rendezvous with those of London, he is decidedly of opinion that the coffee-house fociety of the French metropolis is infinitely superior. He warmly recommends the mixing in that species of society, and we think does not sufficiently guard his young friend against the arts of the numerous band of chevaliers d'industrie, to which he thus exposes him. Indeed we do do not recollect that he has even hinted at the existence of this race, with which the author of this article can aver from his own experience, the coffee-houses of Paris are infested, These liarpies are the more dangerous, especially to youth, as their , manner is agreeable, supple and infinuating. Dr. Andrews next recommends an acquain. tance with officers of a certain age, with Abbés and the various orders of ecclefiaftics. He then advises his pupil to study the government and politics of France; and informs him that the French, in general, are much better acquainted with our history than we are with theirs. The French philosophy is the subject of the next letter. The sketch he gives is slight and imperfect.---Descartes, Buffon, and the Encyclopedie are mentioned.---The obligations the French philosophers have to our Bacon, Locke, and Sir Isaac Newton, are passed over in silence. What he has said at the conclusion of this letter on the state of literature in England and France, appears to be well founded; we shall give it as a specimen of the work.
It is from the consciousness of the motives that lead you abroad, that I expatiate fo largely upon all that relates to literature.
• You will find it, if not in greater request, upon a more agreeable footing in France than among your own countrymen,
I do not think, from what I have heard elderly persons in England express on this subject, that there is the fanie demand for literary talents among our great people as formerly. The rage and violence of parties is a malady attended by many more evil consequences than men are in general aware of. It not only banishes candour from por litical affairs, but it extinguishes the propentity to polite knowledge, and renders individuals insensible to all other merit than that of being able to allift them in the pursuits of faction,
* To this inauspicious difpofition of the times, is owing the decline of that warmth with which letters were once cultivated ; and that indifference for their encouragement, which is become notorious even in the perception of judicious and observant foreigners.
• Voltaire takes notice somewhere, that in England on n'écrit gueres que par esprit de parti, little is written but from fpirit of party. This stricture is rather too severe; but he might have asserted with great truth, that unless a writer kuows how to render his pen ferviceable in the cause of party, he will teldom rise to any considerable degree of fame and prosperity.
I do not by theie reflections mean to impress you with a notion, that literary men should forswear the difcuffion of political subjects : on the contrary, it is shameful in a gentleman of learning not to be Well conversant in such matters. TVhat is the purport of education, but to enable men to think, speak, and write judiciously on all points of importance, and what is more important than the welfare and interest of the community at large ?
It is not therefore an application to political knowledge that is reprehended; it is the exclusive encouragement given to the zeal and dexterity that are manifetted in the cause of party:
• In this unhappy cause it sometimes happens, that a man may ‘render himself extremely serviceable without pofleffing any talents of Teal utility to the public. Little or no knowledge is required, but of the respective deligns and circumstances of each party, their schemes, their mancuvres, the particularities refpecting their heads and leaders : with all this an individual may be acquainted without any material acquaintance with any thing else.
* True it is that party writers may be, and often are men of real unquestionable abilities in a variety of instances: but still it is not in this light they are brought forward, and meet with success: it is purely for having laboured in that field, which requires no other talents to cultivate than those that are above mentioned.'
In the fix following Letters, which contain a review and examination of French literature, there is nothing excel lent. The observations bear all the marks of a criticism at second hand. Dr. Andrews seems to follow Lord Chesterfield in his admiration of the Henriade, which we scruple not to pronounce excessive. As a work of judgment it demands our approbation, but its claims to poetical superiority are moderate. We are willing to suppose that our author had not read the productions of the younger Crebillon, when
he mentions him among the novellists he recommends to his young traveller. There is no author we are acquainted with, either ancient or modern, who has so unweariedly laboured to excite loose ideas; and the degree of pre-eininence he has obtained, admits of no rivalihip Surely Dr. Andrews does not imagine, that, at Twenty Five, excitements are necessary to the commerce of the Sexes with not to dwell louger on this subject, as we consider his infertion of Crebillon as a mere oversight.
The French periodical publications occupy the two succeeding Letters. Among these is noticed the Journal des Savans, the elder brother of all Reviews now existing. There is a fund of reflexion and good sense in these two Letters.
Letters 21, 22, and 23, give an account of the institutions in France in favour of learning, literature, and the. fine arts. Of learning and literature he seems to have a competent knowledge, but as to sculpture and painting he ingenuously confeffes his ignorance. It would have been better therefore, had he avoided entering into discussions upon the subject : the blind cannot judge of colours. Yet we find him afterwards, comparing architecture, painting and sculpture, and giving the preference, as a fine art, to the firit. This is not a place for entering upon the subject; we can only repeat; the blind cannot judge of colours. With all his want of knowledge in this respect, his acquaintance with the world, and his good sense, have enabled him to form a very proper estimate of connoisseurship; which, for the most part, is nothing more than the science of minutiæ, without a conception of the essentials of the art.
To the public libraries are the two following Letters dedicated. There is nothing here, except some common-place refiexions, that is not to be found in almost every description of Paris. We may add to his reflexions our regret, that the same easy access to libraries is not to be found here as in the capital of France.
From Letter 26 to Letter 31, we have an account of the churches in Paris, and of religious ceremonies. This is accompanied with remarks on a variety of characters, and some strictures on religion in general. He gives the preference, on a comparison between the churches of London and Paris, to the latter. As to number and internal ornament he is certainly in the right, but he might have observed with justice, that they have nothing which can stand in competition with our St. Pauls. His ftri&tures upon the christian religion are not every where just: among other things, it is by no means true that the same acrimony now
prevails among the different sects into which christianity is split, as in the darker ages. On the contrary, every one acquainted with history and mankind, is sensible of a gradual approximation. And though men will always differ upon this, as upon every other subject, yet they can now carry on their disputes without dooming their adverfaries to destruction in this world, and to damnation in the next.
An account of the public buildings in and about Paris, of the manufactories, of the walks and gardens, of the change, lotteries, bathing-places and amusements, makes up the contents of the remaining Letters. We shall give a short extract from Letter 43, where the author mentions the combats of wild beasts; to shew our countrymen that the French should look at home, before they reproach us with the rudeness and brutality of our prize fighting.
• In order to help out the Concert Spirituel, another place of public amusement has been permitted on high festivals. You will be rather surprised, when I have told you that this place is a bear. garden, where dogs, bulls, lions, tygers, bears, and other beasts are baited and worried
to death, This favage paítime is as much frequented as any at Paris, and is exhibited in winter as well as in the mild seasons; which is the more remarkable, as this scene of blood and carnage pafses in an open ærea, surrounded by seats which, though covered over head, leave one otherwise exposed to all the inclemencies of weather.
· Thinking people have often expreft their astonishment, that so ferocious a pastime should have been substituted in lieu of certainly the more gentle and humane entertainments of the itage. Manners must clearly receive more detriment by indulging in such bara barous fights, than by all the fun and laughter, which the jocofest comedy, farce, or pantomime, can possibly occasion.
• You will, I doubt not, rejoice that fo vulgar and base a diversion is now in England abandoned to the meanest of the populace, and is jot as in France licensed by public authority.
• Should you hear the epithets of rude and rough bestowed on the character of your countrymen by the French, which many of them too readily do, I think you cannot answer them better than by informing them, it is not in their power to reproach us with the above barbarities, which have long ago been exploded from the list of our paltimes”.
The concluding Letter is a sort of recapitulation, containing much judicious observation; from a perufal of which the British traveller may reap considerable advantage. From some pecularities in the phraseology, we are led to conclude, that the author has passed much of his time out of his own country. We could dispense with the profufion of stories and well-known anecdotes, which greatly increase the fize of this publication ; they raise a suspicion of something like solicitude about the bulk of the volume.
ART. XV. Three Letters to the People of Great Britain, and par
ticularly to those who figned the Addresses on the late Changes of Administration, and the Diffolution of the Parliament. 8vo. 2s.
Debrett. 1785. Α A
LFRED traces the two great component parts of the
British conftitution, prerogative on one side, and the liberty of the people on the other, that is toryism and whigism, to the contest between the crown and the barons which produced magna charta. On the due balance of
prerogative and liberty has the British constitution been supported, and when either of them has preponderated, the conftitution has been shaken, and even, in the opinion of our author, overturned, pro tempore, till by the restoration of the balance it has recovered and been restored. Instances of this he observes, are to be found in every reign, from the foundation of the constitution in magna charta, to the present hour. Of these he recalls to the memory of his readers only a few, in order to prove “ that the purity of this conttitution has ever depended, and must for ever" depend, on the critically exact balance of these principles ; that the prosperity of the state has ever been the consequence of this strict poize, and that, whoever has thrown, or shall throw too great a weight into either scale, lias been, and will be the greatest enemy to his country.”
Before he proceeds to illustrate the truth of these positions, he defines what he understands by the prosperity of a ftate. This, he justly observes, does not confift in the glory acquired by extensive conquests, and brilliant victoTies," but in the greatest portion of happiness to each individual, low as well as high, that the circumstances of huinan nature will admit."
During the wars between the Houses of York and Lancafter, sometimes the despotism of the Prince, and soinetiines the despotism of the nobility, neither of which powers in those days considered the people, appeared, for a long period, to have shaken the constitution afunder; and tyranny, from the one hand or the other, seemed to have established its feat for ever. The blessings of commerce were heard of no more, England, which under princes who never pushed prerogative far, had seen a fleet of near five thousand ships, had scarcely one ship of trade. At that period the members of the House of Commons were attended with no marks of dignity or respect : and when this is the case, our author does not fail to observe, “when the House of Commons links, and is trampled upon by haughty prerogative, com