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school. Out of compliment, I suppose, to the House of Orange and Hanover, we sobered down, after the Revolution, into a strain of greater demureness, and into a Dutch and German fidelity of imitation of domestic manners and individual character, as in the Periodical Essayists, and in the works of Fielding and Hogarth. Yet if the two lastnamed painters of manners are not English, who are so? I cannot give up my partiality to them for the fag-end of a theory. They have this mark of genuine English intellect, that they constantly combine truth of external observation with strength of internal meaning. The Dutch are patient observers of Nature, but want character and feeling. The French, as far as we have imitated them, aim only at the pleasing, and glance over the surfaces of words and things. Thus has our literature descended (according to the foregoing scale) from the tone of the pulpit to that of the court or drawing-room, from the drawing-room into the parlour, and from thence, if some critics say true, into the kitchen and ale-house. It may do even worse than that!
French literature has undergone great changes in like manner, and was supposed to be at its height in the time of Louis XIV. We sympathise less, however, with the pompous set speeches in the tragedies of Racine, and Corneille, or in the serious comedies of Moliere, than we do with the grotesque and extravagant farces of the latter, with the exaggerated descriptions and humour of Rabelais, whose wit was a madness, a drunkenness, or with the accomplished humanity, the easy style, and gentlemanly and scholar-like sense of Montaigne. But these we consider as in a great measure English, and as what the old French character was, before it was corrupted by courts and academies of criticism. The exquisite graces of La Fontaine, the indifferent sarcastic tone of Voltaire and Le Sage, who make light of every thing, and who produce their greatest effects with the most imperceptible and rapid touches, we give wholly to the constitutional genius of the French, and despair of imitating. Perhaps in all this we proceed by guess-work at best. Nations (particularly rival nations) are bad judges of one another's literature or physiognomy. The French certainly do not understand us: it is most probable we do not understand them. How slowly great works, great names make their way across the Channel! M. Tracey's" Ideologie" has not yet been heard of among us; and a Frenchman who asks if you have read it, almost subjects himself to the suspicion of being the author. They have also their little sects and parties in literature; and though they do not nickname and vilify their rivals (as is done with us), thanks to the national politeness, yet if you do not belong to the prevailing party, they very civilly suppress all mention of you, your name is not noticed in the journals, nor your work inquired for at the shops.*
Those who explain every thing by final causes (that is, who deduce causes from effects,) might avail themselves of their privilege on this
* In Paris, to be popular, you must wear out, they say, twenty pair of pumps and twenty pair of silk-stockings in calls upon the different Editors. In England, you have only to give in your resignation at the Treasury, and you receive your passport to the John Bull Parnassus. Otherwise, you are shut out, and made a by-word. Literary jealousy and littleness is still the motive; politics the pretext, and blackguardism the mode.
occasion. There must be some checks to the excessive increase of literature as of population, or we should be overwhelmed by it; and they are happily found in the envy, dulness, prejudices, and vanity of mankind. While we think we are weighing the merits of an author, we are indulging our own national pride, indolence, or ill-humour, by condemning what we do not understand, or laughing at what thwarts our inclinations. The French reduce all philosophy to a set of agreeable sensations: the Germans reduce the commonest things to abstruse metaphysics. The one are a mystical, the other a superficial people. Both proceed by the severest logic; but the real guide to their conclusions is the proportion of phlegm or mercury in their dispositions. When we appeal to a man's reason against his inclinations, we speak a language without meaning, and which he will not understand. Different nations have favourite modes of feeling and of accounting for things to please themselves and fall in with their ordinary habits; and our different systems of philosophy, literature, and art, meet, contend, and repel one another on the confines of opinion, because their elements will not amalgamate with our several humours; and all the while we fancy we settle the question by an abstract exercise of reason, and by laying down some refined and exclusive standard of taste. There is no great harm in this illusion, nor can there be much in seeing through it; for we shall go on just as we did before.*
O LOVE! what may thine emblem be?—
Whose sight can make the spirit glow-
Such art thou, when thy path is sweet,
And leads o'er Hope's delicious plain;
As summer winds the warbling main :
With wing of light and breath of flowers,
The lyre that rung in Eden's bowers.
But, ah! far darker powers are thine-
And lay young Hope in ruin low!
That shroud in gloom the march of years;
Thou glimmerest on the dark heart's tears.
Benaparte got a committee of the French Institute to draw up a report of the Kantian Philosophy. He might as well have ordered them to draw up a report of the geography of the moon. It is difficult for an Englishman to understand Kant; for a Frenchman impossible. The latter has a certain routine of phrases, into which his ideas run habitually as into a mould; and you cannot get him out of
VOL. IX. No. 49.-1824.
THE CULTIVATION OF WOMEN.
To the Editor of the New Monthly Magazine.
SIR, Turning over a bound volume of the New Monthly Magazine, I chanced the other day upon a paper On Education (vol. vii. p. 562) in which your correspondent arraigns the preceptors and parents of the present times, for their awkward and mischievous interference with the minds and bodies of the rising generation. To a superficial observer, the writer of that article will appear to have made out his case; for the error being in the premises, and not in the reasoning upon them, the conclusions are little likely to be questioned by those who content themselves with the surface of things. Admitting, what this gentleman seems to take for granted, that wisdom, virtue, and happiness are the ends which parents and preceptors propose to themselves in their multifarious attempts "to teach the young idea how to shoot," they are, it must be confessed, out and out the very worst marksmen that ever "handled their bow like a crow-keeper." But the point which is thus assumed as indisputable, is so manifestly false, that it vitiates the whole argument; and I cannot but wonder at the blindness that could so egregiously miss its way and trip against so obvious a stumbling-block. That wisdom or virtue ever entered the head of our education systemmongers, is utterly beyond all credence; cunning and hypocrisy having so generally superseded the real articles in the market, that very few indeed take the trouble of keeping them in their stock: and though more pretences are made respecting happiness, yet, if we look nearly into the matter, we find a thousand people, ay ten thousand, directing the whole efforts of their children to the acquirement of wealth, for one that looks to any other object. Not, however, to deal in personalities, let us examine the several national establishments for education, and see what are the ends they pursue in their systems of tuition. The principal design of all our public schools is notoriously to prepare the boys for college; and that of our universities to prepare them forobtaining a fellowship. With girls the matter is still worse: some schools prepare them for the drawing-room, some for the Indian market, and some for a more open, though scarcely less degrading prostitution at home. Military academies (to return to the boys) prepare their pupils for "eyes right;" commercial academies teach the art and mystery of flying kites; the masticatory courses of the inns of court prepare the students for the "whole practice" of "Life in London;" the medical schools prepare for passing an examination, and the theological for ordination. “Virtus post nummos" is the maxim of the best; and it is very well when virtus is not wholly forgotten. If your readers, Mr. Editor, are not satisfied with these examples, let them look to the great system of national education now going on in Ireland. This is precisely a case in which your correspondent would have fallen slapdash into error. Methinks I hear him, "good easy man," arguing with himself from the customary object of the primary schools of other countries, and taking it for granted that the end in view is to teach the peasantry their A. B. C. "Surely," I hear him exclaim, " reading can as well be taught in one book as another; and the wiseacres are most perversely illogical in thus persisting to cram education down the
throats of the people, in the only way in which they will not receive it." If indeed he looked farther, and fancied that he discovered reading not to be the end in view, but, more specifically, reading the Bible, matters would not be much mended. In order to read the Bible at all, men must first learn to read; and a Catholic taught in a profane horn-book is surely much nearer to the possibility of Bible-reading than a Catholic whom you exclude from learning, by refusing to teach him on his own terms. Reading, however, either the Bible or any thing else, is a very secondary matter in this case; and your correspondent would be as much out in this as in his other speculations, if he proceeded in the way I suppose. The real object of the Irish Education Society seems to be neither to educate, nor to proselytize on the great scale. It is no wholesale system of national conversion, but a petty retail trade in seduction, a sort of spiritual swindling and getting of souls upon false pretences, with a view to private promotion rather than to public illumination;—and the means are admirably adapted to the ends.
That British education is generally well suited to its proposed ends, must be inferred from its notorious success. If it be acknowledged that the universal object of a mother's solicitude is to make her daughter a fine lady, it must be admitted that the present generation are the finest ladies that ever existed. If accomplishment be defined, as it ought to be," shewy superficial acquirement," our female blue-stockings are the ne plus ultra of gaudy deceptiveness. No one in his senses will, I presume, dispute that the business of a man of rank and fortune is to distinguish himself by his polish (and when has the town known boots of more translucid jet ?)—to exhibit the fineness of his taste in the propriety of his dress (and when were neckcloths better tied than now?)-to pride himself on the most unimpeachable honour (and when was duelling conducted with a more murderous precision?)-to be punctual with creditors (and when were debts more promptly discharged than since the invention of Insolvent Acts?) If we turn to philosophy, Stoicism is many miles behind Dandyism in apathy; and Epicurus was a fool, a mere child, and tyro, when compared with a modern Amphitryon. Archimedes could do nothing without his ov, er, whereas the stupidest fellow "about town" will raise a mountain of debt, without the slightest basis of credit for his fulcrum. In the arts, the proof is still more positive. In a mercantile country, the arts, like every other pursuit, are subordinate to the great end of moneymaking, and must follow the demands of the market. Now, the reigning taste of the times being caricature, the perfection of modern art is proved to the extreme, in the blue and red faces commonly called "portraits of a gentleman," which abound in our exhibitions. A commercial population are necessarily but baddish judges of painting; and our painters know well how to please the public taste in that particular; the great majority of their pictures being in this respect perfectly "signs of the times." In music our success is no less; and surely nothing but an education happily directed to that end, could enable our best composers to shut their ears to Cimerosa, Mozart, and Rossini, to forget themselves into the " Woodpecker," "Henry is gone," and "Sweet little cottage" style of song-writing, and fit themselves for producing such melancholy and gentlemanlike ditties, as no other nation but England could endure. There is really great finesse in thus hitting
the fancy of their customers, to a nicety. But the comble of all perfection, the last touch of finish, of which education is susceptible, has been given within a few years, by the invention of a new profession, which has acquired the technical appellation of "cultivating a woman," and those who know nothing of the effects of cultivation, but by an acquaintance with cauliflowers, seacale, and Mr. Knight's gigantic peas, have but a poor and inadequate insight into the full import of the term. To this art, the training men for "the mill" is in every respect inferior; and yet perhaps of all the departments of medical science, this is the only branch that has hitherto proceeded with any thing like certainty. Shame, shame upon the Galens and the Hippocrates! the Cullens and the Hunters! feeble and contemptible are the glimmerings of light diffused through their voluminous productions, when compared to the full blaze of day that illumines the doctors of Newmarket and the Fives Court. Without any other guide than their own empirical experience, these worthies will in a given time raise or reduce a man to the requisite weight, even to an ounce, contrary to an aphorism of the learned Gregory. They know better than Cornaro the means of raising the health to its maximum; they can tell what meat fattens, what nourishment turns to muscle, and what gives bulk without adding any thing to strength. They clear the foggiest pipes, take down the unhealthiest potbelly, and do more for the wind by diet and exercise, than all the dig talis and squills in Apothecaries Hall could effect: and yet all this is nothing to the cultivation of a woman!
Hitherto women have chiefly been cultivated for the stage, and the art has consequently been confined within the narrowest limits; but now that it has begun to extend its operations into private life, its principles are acquiring a proportionate notoriety. The origin of all things is obscure, and that of "cultivation" among the rest: but it is possible that the first glimmerings may be traced to the Caribbee women, who educated their children's head to that flatness which in their eyes formed the beau ideal of external appearance, thus setting the great example to European mothers to sacrifice their children's brains, in favour of the outside of the bead. The New Zealanders likewise educate their infant's ears to a great length, by the insertion of wedges; and the Chinese educate their wives' feet, as is known "lippis et tonsoribus." But the seeds of the most recondite philosophy exist in the instincts of the rudest savages; and this proves nothing against the merits of the professors who have raised this new branch of education to its present perfection.
The first object of a cultivator in taking in hand the raw material of his art, is to determine beforehand what can be made of her for in this, as in other cases, a certain aptitude is necessary in the subject; and "There is no making a silk purse of a sow's ear." This first inquiry is, whether Nature has made her shoulders susceptible of symmetry; and whether she has predestined them for "a forehand," or "a back front." He examines attentively her build, whether it be susceptible of the voluptuous or the majestic,-better formed for the delicate elegance of the svelte, or the swelling richness of the "en bon point." Not but that an experienced artist can make any thing of a tolerable subject. If man cannot by forethought add a cubit to his stature, it is not the same with woman; at least, what comes to the same thing, the