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who had strayed into the woods), and brought them home in safety, from the Chinese Archipelago; and through seas which have immortalized the man who first traced the road which leads to their entrance.
The courage of the French is of a peculiar quality, and so different from that of most other nations, that it struck the bravest of the ancients, and attracted the attention of the most speculative of Roman historians, near two thousand years ago. And we cannot help thinking, that a juster estimate was formed of it, in those days, than in the present; and a truer picture drawn of the exaltations and abasements, which the spirit of that changeful people is perpetually undergoing.
No nation is so enthusiastically fond of glory, so essentially enterprising, ambitious and warlike, as the French. But the impetuosity of their courage exposes them to reverses, in which they are as much depressed and as abject, as in prosperity they are arrogant and headlong. Their history, accordingly, is more chequered with triumphs and misfortunes, than that of other nations; and shows them suddenly elevated, by their military prowess, to the height of power, from which they are as suddenly dislodged by their want of moderation in success. They are the most rapid in conquest, the most precipitate in retreat; and the grand campaign of Turenne, in which his chief glory was, that he avoided engaging his enemy, is a phenomenon of which they could produce no second example. The most difficult thing for a Frenchman, in the field of war, is to remain stationary. Nimbleness is so inherent in his constitution, and his propensity to move in double quick time is so great, that this instinct of his nature is equally satisfied, whether it be that he runs forwards or backwards, whether he skip after or before an enemy. But the bravery of a Frenchman is not an independent sentiment. It requires extraneous aid, and must be supported by relations which are foreign to it. It is like the courage of the war-horse, roused by the sound of the trumpet and the drum, by the roar of cannon, by the shouts of the victors, and the cries of the wounded; and riots over the bodies of the slain. The most essential of all things, to its maintenance, is success; for success secures applause, and applause is glory. Take away from a Frenchman this most powerful of all the incitements which his nature owns, and you make a mere coward of him, less than woman. It is the only bond which unites his valour to his mind, and gives it the characteristics of a moral feeling. One modification of courage, however, it cannot bestow upon him; and that is fortitude, the courage of the soul; that union of feeling and of patience, of sensibility and of resignation, which strengthens
noble minds, gives dignity to fallen greatness, and screnity to the deposed and desolate.
The courage of the English is, in all respects, different from this. It is neither so buoyant in prosperity, nor so dejected in reverses. It is, like all our other qualities, accompanied by reflexion; and where the valour of a Frenchman begins to fail, the courage of an Englishman rises, from the resources he finds within his mind and heart. He is circumspect while the tempest only threatens; but intrepid when it bursts upon him. He requires no motive, but danger, to be brave; and his fortitude does not abandon him, even when his courage can be of no avail.
In the present instance, the French bad no conquest to make, no glory to win; their praise would have been that which is bestowed upon men who calmly do their duty; and this was not cnough for them. No triumph attended their success; no laurels would have crowned them, as when returning from victory; and their courage, no longer pampered by the licentious stimuhant of vanity, desponded and despaired.
The resources of the two frigates, immediately after they were stranded, were much alike; but the sentiments which governed the Frenchmen, deprived them of the advantages of their united efforts; while the minds of the English were wholly directed to the general good, and bent upon the means of saving one and all. A beautiful and admirable property of civilization is, that it unites men by one common feeling, and makes them rally &round the ideal centre, which bears the magic name of country. The most powerful of all links, that which, more than any other, binds the hearts of civilized men together, is misfortune. In proportion as the social system approaches to perfection, the tie of common misery is more strongly felt. But, when the progress of improvement is founded upon physical enjoyments, and the heart is employed in the search of luxurious gratifications, the preponderating object of our affections is selt; and society claims a share of our interest, only as it contributes to our pleasures and amusements.
Now the French nation has always indulged in sensual, more than in rational enjoyments; and luxury has been the constant object of her study. The combined advantages of her soil and climate, have placed the attainment of physical pleasures easily within her reach; and, to them, she is eminently devoted, But, happily for the moral character of England, we must las bour, before we can enjoy; and the pemry of nature has bound the inhabitants of Great Britain together, for their common incerest, with a stronger chain, than any which her prodigality - VOL. XXX. NO. 60.
could forge. The advantages of union in the hour of misery; of partnership to stem the adverse current; of social combination, vvhich divides afHiction, and multiplies prosperity, never, in any age, or any country, were so strongly felt as in this island :-and they have grown as she has grown, and strengthened as she has become enlightened.
The French, in the present, as in many other instances, do not seem to have learned, that the worst of governments is better than anarchy. The vanity of each individual is always present, to suggest to him, that he alone is worthy to command ; and that all who oppose his will are traitors to the general good. The very impulses which act attractively among other men, and make their hearts expand with kindness and benevolence, are repulsive in their natures. In the day of sympathy affection is changed to hatred, and pity is converted into envy. They fer their own destruction to the safety of their fellow-sufferers, and crush to atoms, under their own feet, the plank which die vides them from eternity; rather than allow their companions in misfortune the hope of ever seeing land again.
Our authors, with a strange simplicity, say, that the moral of their companions was singularly altered. But this assertion we cannot admit; and we must altogether deny the general principle upon which it is founded. The circumstances of our lives, the misfortunes or happiness we encounter, do not really change the moral character. They bring to light qualities which appear to be new, because they had before been unperceived. Passion never yet created any sentiments in the soul, though it may awaken those which were dormant. It opens a new page of the heart, but a page already written. All the passions which the situation of the sufferers on the raft exposed to the broad day, bad as they were, did not spring up in that fatal abode of wretchedness. They were carried thither; carried in the hearts of those where long depravity had given them deep and lasting roots: and the daily sunshine of triumphant vice, had made their growth exuberant. Neither were the calmness, fortitude and humanity of the British, new creations in their souls. They had, from a very early period, been kept in constant action, by all the causes which long have made this ration moral and humane.
Disgusting and painful as the subject is, we cannot help adducing one or two more instances, of the contrast between English and French generosity and good faith, as exemplified in these narratives. We do not mean to speak of the dignified conduct of Lord Amherst, compared to the selfishness of Governor Schmaltz; or to set the noble devotedness of Sir Murray Maxwell, in opposition to the pitiful cowardice of Captain Chaumareys. We shall look for examples more general, and among the lower orders,—where the features of national character retain a greater portion of their original stamp. We have already stated, that the survivors on the raft took possession of the billets of the dead, in order to defraud their companions of an undue portion of food. We have seen them pilfering each other, stealing from the common stock of provisions, nay wantonly throwing into the sea, the casks of water and of wine, in order to deprive their companions of the only sustenance they had. Among the crew of the Alceste one man was discovered endeapouring to get two rations of beer; and it is interesting to hear how Mr M.Leod expresses himself on the occasion.
• Truth requires it to be stated, and it may naturally be supposed; that, among so many, one or two progging sort of people might be observed, who had no disinclination to get a little more than their just allowance; but the general feeling was too fine and manly, to admit of contamination.
Two persons, belonging to the boats which had landed on the coast of Africa, had agreed with the Moors, for a stipulated sum, to convey them to St Louis. The bargain, as may be supposed, was hard upon the Frenchmen; but, as one of them prudently observed, . Once among our own countrymen, we shall be the strongest; and can give them what we please.'The English, at one moment, apprehended that it might become necessary, if no succour arrived, to force some of the Malays to pilot them to the nearest friendly port; and it was resolved that, in that case, they should be dismissed in safety, and with ample remuneration.
The l'tench expedition to Africa was two years in preparation; and it is fair to conclude, that it was composed of men distinguished, not only for nautical skill and ability in other branches of knowledge, but for their moral qualities. Yet Messrs Correard and Savigny assert, that many of those upon the raft were the very scim of bagnioś, and the refuse of prisons. Ilow the fact may be, we cannot tell. The misfortune is, that the misconduct was universal. But, admitting the explanation in its utinost latitude, what a view does it present of a government which employed so much time to select such men, for such an expedition ! And how low a value must be set on moral qualifications among a people whose rulers so flagrantly overIbok them on an occasion where they were obviously of extraordinary importance !
To all general reflexions, respecting the characters of the English and French, drawn from the narratives of these twee sbipwrecks, it may, no doubt, be objected, that the crew of a single ship cannot be an adequate representative of a nation; and most certainly this is a consideration which is entitled to no small attention--and it would be equally atrocious and absurd to maintain, either that all Frenchmen are as bad as the crew of the Medusa, or all Englishmen as good as that of the Alceste. There are, undoubtedly, many amiable and generous—and many mean and ferocious persons in both countries. But there is something national, for all that, in the conduct of the two crews; -and we cannot help believing, that while it would be difficult to find such a ship's company as that of the Alceste in France, no accident could ever bring together in England such a şet of ruffians and wretches as constituted that of the Medusa. We do not wish to carry our conclusion any
further. To what causes this greater proclivity to vice is owing, we cannot presume to determine.- We have no great faith, we confess, in the materialist doctrine of temperament; and, among the moral causes, there are none that occur so readily as the long tyranny of the government to which this lively and ambitious people has been subjected,—the impossibility of attaining to honourable distinction by merit alone, and the shameless profligacy by which its appropriate rewards were habitually bestowed as the price of mean and guilty compliances. When the natural connexion between desert and advancement is thus dissolved, and honour itself transferred to those successes which are best attained by dishonourable means, it cannot but happen that a generał spirit of selfishness should pervade the whole society --and that the nobler aims which exalt men's characters in free states, should give place to those low and sensual pursuits which give birth not only to meanness but ferocity. It is true, that the same causes have not produced the same effects in Spain and other countries. But there, the body of the people were too low in civilization and intelligence, to be aware of the gross injustice of the Government, or in danger of being infected with the debasing vices of the Court.-Let us hope, that the mental cultivation and social accomplishments that render arbitrary governments thus pestilent to national virtue, may soon produce, in France, their better and ultimate fruit of improved government-and that, under their new system of representative legislation, and regulated freedom, our neighbours may speedily attain to those moral honours to which we cannot conscientiously say that they have hitherto been entitled.