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paigns in India, to which country he went at the early age of twelve years. His real name is Etienne. That of Jouy he has taken from the little hamlet near Versailles, where his family resided. His sketches of Parisian manners, entitled "L'Hermite de la Chausée d'Antin,” are well known all over Europe. There is certainly some resemblance in them to the originals meant to be described; but they are in general too superficial. M. Jouy's observation has skimmed lightly the surfaces of things, and wants profundity of research and strength of colouring. Besides, there is no little degree of affectation and mannerism in his style. Incompetent as these sketches are, they are still, however valuable; and we should deem ourselves most fortunate to have a similar picture of the social habits of the Romans under Augustus, or even of the French under Louis XIV. M. Jouy concurred with his namesake M. Etienne, the author of the comedy of "Les Deux Gendres," in founding three or four literary and political journals. Two of these, the Constitutionel and the Miroir, have had the most wonderful success, and the first use to which this success was turned, was to poff off, in the most extravagant manner, the never-ending productions of their founders, and afterwards of other writers who modestly condescended to act as their literary aids-de-camp.
From 1816 to 1824 this powerful faction has dispensed or withheld every species of literary fame in France. At present a counter-faction has started into life. A dozen men of letters, the greater number self-styled poets, have formed a combination, each member being bound to laud at all times, and in all places, in prose and in verse, the works of the other eleven. These writers, feeling the necessity of some distinguishing style, have taken the misanthropical character of Lord Byron's works, and the melancholy musings of Young, as the models for their lucubrations. But these gentlemen, though but indifferent poets, being men of the world, amiable in society, many of them rich, and thus acting in concert, exert not an inconsiderable degree of influence on the public taste. They have entered the field of literary contention in serried files; and like the Macedonian phalanx, are a body not easy to surprise or overthrow. The fact of the existence of these two literary factions is an important truth, of which few foreigners have cognizance, and which is thus publicly revealed, probably for the first time. The faction Jouy, Etienne, and Co. being liberal, their opponents have consequently declared themselves Ultra. The latter not having the ability to write well in prose, envelope their mystic and moody musings in tumid and bombastic verse; and compose what is designated in France, and what we have formerly noticed, "The Romantic School."
It has been necessary to dilate a little upon the history and composition of these two factions, as the knowledge of their existence and character may be important to foreigners, who have no means of judging of the majority of the works that issue from the Parisian press but by the accounts rendered of them in the journals. In French criticism there is so little integrity, that a very frequent practice is to allow an author to write an account of his own work, which is inserted in the journals of the rival factions, according as the author is a partizan of the one or the other; and this spirit of coterieism is so prevalent and so acknowledged, that our statement would no doubt be confirmed, without
being blushed at by the literary circles of Paris. The newspapers thus controlled by authors and their friends, are supreme in criticism, for the public invariably judges by these oracles; and literary success depends altogether on the articles inserted in the Constitutionnel, which has 18,000 subscribers, or in the Journal des Debats, which musters about two-thirds of that number.
There are only two periodical works in France which approach within any measurable degree of comparison with our leading reviews or magazines. These are the Revue Encyclopédique and the Revue Européenne, which latter, having only started within the last few months, and being also printed in English, we shall not further mention in this place. The Revue Encyclopédique' enjoys a considerable reputation in the French provinces and in foreign countries; but its pages are rarely opened in Paris, where the piquant style of the daily journals is more suited to the public taste.
The coterie of Jouy, Etienne and Co. have launched another literary journal, entitled "Le Mercure du Dix Neuvième Siècle,", which is more dull and infinitely less instructive than the Revue Encyclopédique. But the fact is, that the crying sin of French criticism, the want of literary conscience, is the chief cause that France, which possesses such a countless multitude of professed hommes de lettres, cannot boast of a single periodical work of any weight or authority; and for this state of things it is to be feared there is no remedy. There are few men of talent foolhardy enough to create for themselves half a dozen mortal enemies per month, by denouncing to the public the utter worthlessness of as many pretended chefs-d'œuvre, puffed off in the daily papers; for it must be known that French critics make it a point of honour to put their names in full length, or avowed signatures, to the foot of their articles, which easily accounts for the low ebb of their criticism. But to preserve an incognito would be next to impossible. Discretion is not the favourite virtue of a Frenchman; and it would be a miracle indeed to find an editeur-en-chef in Paris who could keep the secret of his contributors' names. Such being the case, it is worse than useless for foreigners to seek for an account of French works in French reviews.
Romance-writing is almost a dead letter in France at the present day. The bombastic extravagance of Viscount d'Arlincourt and others of his school, seems to have banished, with few exceptions, all rational writers from the field of competition. M. Picard, author of La Petite Ville, and ten or twelve other sprightly little dramatic pieces, has, it is true, turned his pen to the writing of romances. His delineations of modern French manners are extremely correct, but the plots of his novels are not so happy. However, they well deserve the attention of foreigners, who, after reading "Eugene et Guillaume," "Jacques Fauvel," and "Desodry, ou l'Exalté," will have a very sufficient idea of the habits and manners of the French people during and since the Revolution. It will not be necessary to enter into any detail upon Pigault le Brun, the gayest and most popular of French novel writers, whose works are known to all Europe: and amongst the female novelists it is enough to state that Madame de Cubieres, author of "Marguerite Aymon," and "Les Trois Soufflets," merits the first place.
But the most brilliant part of French literature at present is decidedly its historical branch; and there exist several names most justly entitled
VOL. IX. No. 54.-1825.
to high commendation for their labours. Among these is Count Daru, who has given a very complete and judicious history of the republic of Venice, a little elaborate and heavy, but bearing the impress of the strictest impartiality and truth.
The Baron de Barante, a peer of France, has just published the first four volumes of a History of the Dukes of Burgundy of the house of Valois. The volumes are written, in some measure, in imitation of the style of Sir Walter Scott's historical romances. The author who has been Under-secretary of State, and who is not yet cured of ambition, has wisely (for himself) abstained from all philosophical reflections, and moral and political deductions, and confined himself to narrating facts, in a very detached and often picturesque manner. By this cautious proceeding the Baron avoides irritating those in power, and leaves himself a chance of once more getting inside the door of the cabinet.
M. Thierry, a man of independent mind, has pursued a contrary plan in his history of the conquest of England by the Normans (not yet published), which is written with the most conscientious philosophy.
But the most eloquent historical composition, without any comparison, that has appeared in France for the last twenty years, is the Memoires, dictated by Napoleon at St. Helena to Generals Bertrand and Gourgaud. From their literary merit alone, independent of the name of the writer, these interesting pages must make their way to posterity. Though it is clear that Napoleon was acting a part before Count Las Cases, that affectionate chamberlain, who, full of honour but void of talent, listened with open-mouthed admiration to all that fell from his hero, yet the Memorial of St. Helena is nevertheless one of the most useful books that has appeared in recent times. This work has penetrated into the library of every prince in Europe, and has laid before them certain truths, that probably without the prestige of the author's name would not have met royal eyes for another century to come. In his desultory conversations Napoleon touched upon all subjects, questioning with imperial daring the most generally received maxims, discussing all manner of questions, from the ridiculous treaty of peace signed by Lord Castlereagh in 1815, to the literary merit of the Nouvelle Heloise or the Corinne of Madame de Stael.
Before concluding this sketch of French prose literature, we must not omit to remark that Messrs. Cuvier and La Place have written with considerable elegance, the former upon natural history, and the latter upon astronomy, and the abstruse doctrine of probabilities. These two individuals, estimable as savans, have, as politicians, changed sides and opinions with the various phases of the government or dynasty; and they are generally cited in Paris as equally finished models of talent and subserviency.
M. Humboldt also, who may be considered a Frenchman, takes special care to publish only those opinions which may prove agreeable to the reigning powers. Those writers are of course supereminent favourites with the Société de Bonnes Lettres. The same subserviency may be laid to the charge of the learned oriental M. de Sacy, a man of considerable adroitness, a skilful courtier, and who, to ingratiate himself with those in power, leaves no effort untried to deprive of academical honours those young writers, who pursue their researches, guided alone by a fearless spirit of truth and sound reasoning.
M. Couchy, a lay Jesuit of the Institute, is now charged with the honourable mission of persecuting the science of physiology, a branch of learning, which has recently been carried so far by the experiments and discoveries of Messrs. Flowers, Majendie and Edwards. Count de Tracy's Commentary upon the Esprit des Lois of Montesquieu and M. Douan's Traités des Garanties are in every one's hand. For the last ten years the Ideologie of M. de Tracy has formed the basis of the education of the French youth, that is to say, of that after and better education which they give themselves upon leaving college; for the book alluded to is so far from being in favour with the dominant party, that the journals under their influence are expressly forbidden to make mention of it in any way.
The Abbé de la Menais, one of the leaders of the Jesuits, has formed his style upon the best models, and it is consequently often imposing, though sometimes tiresome. The diction of his Indifference en Matière de Religion has been much, and not undeservedly praised. This book has been fiercely attacked by M. Benjamin Constant in his work upon religion; but as the public are strongly inclined to doubt the good faith of both one and the other, the controversy has excited but a very slender portion of curiosity.
PROJECT FOR A NEW JOINT STOCK COMPANY FOR
MY DEAR MR. EDITOR.-How could you be so much out in your calculations, as to set your face (I mean your pen) against the new joint stock company for the encouragement of "early genius?" Of all the schemes that ever were schemed in this age of projects for the propagation of the spirit of speculating, none has afforded me so much delight as this very reprobated project, which bears on its surface such clear evidence of success, wanting to all other "exploitations" (excuse the gallicism) whether" in the heavens above, in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth." It is all very fine talking for you, Mr. Editor, who sit at your ease, surrounded by long rows of elegantly bound books, in your comfortable study, well carpetted and curtained, writing when you please, and what you please, while half the booksellers in London are fighting the other half to gain possession of your manuscripts. But have you "no bowels for your poor relations," no regard for those "honest and pains-taking" members of the confraternity, who cannot afford to print for themselves, and can rarely persuade any body else to print for them? or rather (confess the truth) are you not a little ealous of the public taking a fancy to the "unknown merit," which would be dragged to light by the labours and patronage of the proposed company? You state that booksellers are the best judges of literary worth, and can tell to a fraction the value of a lucubration; but if you consider that (magazines, reviews, reprints, piracies, pamphlets, and twopenny trash, annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, and hourly, all included) there is published, at least one volume in every five minutes, "eating, drinking, and sleeping hours, (as Touchstone says) excepted," will you believe, or pretend to make others believe, that a bookseller reads even a tith of what he prints? Indeed it is (in a parenthesis) my fixed opinion, that this is reserved as the especial punishment of the trade," in that bad region which must not be mentioned to ears polite; and that "here upon this bank and shoal of time," a bookseller would as soon be hanged, as think of such a thing. But if this calculation of mine does not please you, why then please to open the first half dozen of volumes offered to you for criticism, and which lie uncut on your table, and then answer me, as an honest man, whether there is not in them internal evidence of the truth of my objection. Nay, I will put the matter more home to your own, feelings: During the last ten years of your life (I speak modestly) did ever a bookseller ask to read a single MS. page of yours, when you offered it for sale?
But admitting your position, and conceding, for the sake of argument, that the true organ of criticism lies in a publisher's breeches pocket, I am not prepared to allow your consequence. The booksellers, you would contend, buy all the good books, and the joint stock company must take up with the refuse of the market, and so of necessity be out of pocket by their speculations. Well, Sir, what is that to you or to me? or if it were, is there any thing in the contingency peculiar to the scheme in question?" Buy and sell, and live by the loss," is the motto of a great many joint stock companies-Cæteris paribus, men