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from within ; part-playing becomes then as universal as it is in general easy, and people deem it more agreeable to perform something splendid, even if it should be a little difficult, that will be soon over, and have the multitude for spectators, than patiently and firmly to pursue the noiseless tenor of the long and painful way of perseverance in duty. The more weighty and sterling qualities lie deep, and often secret: they, as well as the most delicate sensibilities, are to be found most tried in the unassuming discharge of what appears to be the common routine of family affairs: under the unknown tests and varieties of these there are frequently exercised a magnanimity of heart, and an enthusiasm, having scope and support in its own consciousness, that would astonish were they discovered. Yet the person possessing these qualities might nevertheless appear a weak and incapable creature, if matched against one of the heroines of the Fronde, or called upon to scuffle with a jailor.
We have treated the influence of women on literature as important: we have described it as one of the principal causes of the existence of that more extended, diversified, and enthusiastic style, which characterizes the imaginative productions of the moderns, and distinguishes their spirit from that which usually reigns in the classical compositions. This style, with the convenience, and all the disadvantages that attend the fixing of general appellations, has on the Continent been recently termed the romantic, as opposed to the classical. A terrible, war is at present waged between France and Germany on the merits of the two. The French professors cannot understand the word romantic but as meaning something about witches and devils; and as, at present, and for some time past, they have not believed in either; and as it is contrary to the “ critique eclairée" to introduce any thing into poetry that could not be supported by affidavit, they denounce the romantic authors, as well as the genre, as only fit to be employed in their manufactory of melodramas. An excellent Review, published at Paris, entitled the Annales Philosophiques, Politiques, et Litteraires, has recently noticed a small Italian treatise on this enkindling question, which, from the account given of it, we are inclined to think, takes a very just view of the dispute. The good Chrysostom (the name taken by the Italian author) suggests the propriety of pleading only for the poetry of the living, as to be distinguished froin the poetry of the dead: he would have those critics, who are justly disgusted with the flippancy, poverty, meanness of conception, and blind vanity, that dictate the decisions of the chief arbiters of French taste, ground themselves simply on the propriety of taking advantage in modern poetry of the exalted ideas, the grand destinies, the picturesque manners, the profound sen
timents, which modern times have opened as a new and boundless field for the excursions of spiritual imaginations. It is on a style thus formed that the influence of the female sex, born of the habits, opinions, and feelings of modern Europe, ought naturally to impress some of its most touching features. In that slight recapitulation of the literature of various nations, and of the most distinguished authors in our own, that was made in a former part of this article, we at least indicated what we regard as the reality of the influence in question : to have deduced all
consequences, and examined their qualities, would have led us beyond our necessary bounds. We then observed, that it was more difficult to trace its effects in French literature than in any other ; yet, immediately after making this observation, we were led, in following French history, to describe a course of national manners in which women have seemed to lead in every thing, to give the decision in
every thing, to form “ the glass of fashion and the mould of form," in prose, poetry, politics, and religion. There is no inconsistency however in this: but as, by so saying, we wrap up the whole of our belief on the subject in an assertion (though we have been explaining and supporting it in our progress), we shall conclude this article by citing certain authorities to support our doctrine, in the selection of which, at least, we cannot be accused of partiality.
Rousseau observes, that “in every thing habit kills the imagination; and it is only at the fire of the imagination that the passions kindle themselves.”—“In England," says a French author whom we have already quoted, " the women have much influence in the interior of their families, and apparently but little in the external forms of society." It cannot be necessary to observe, that the first is far more powerful than the second, and in a great measure includes it, whatever the appearance of things may be. Madame de Stael traces the multitude of romances in England, and that character of private life which they usually bear, distinguishing them from the heroic, historic, and licentious works of this class, to the condition of our women, and the qualities of their character. She observes, “ tyrannical laws, gross desires, or corrupted principles, have regulated the fate of women in the ancient republics, in Asia, and in France. Nowhere have they enjoyed, as in England, the happiness which results from domestic affections. ***** England is the country of all the world where women are most truly loved. **** One might at first be tempted to believe that immorality, by its general licence, would enlarge the field for romantic conceptions; facts, however, but too well prove that this miserable facility produces absolute aridity-of heart." For the most remarkable testimony, however, we must again refer to Rousseau. In his Maximes Diverses there are to
be found some just observations on the moral differences between
66 both men and women have a
with them for a novice, à simpleton who had taken all his notions of them from romances ! The first quality in a successful gallant (homme à bonne fortune) is to be supremely impertinent."
The subject is almost endless in its nature and compass; but we must bound ourselves to one remark more, which is simply this, that with these examples of female influence in general before our eyes, the disgusting exposure of the characters of their women which France has given us in their own records, and the testimonies in favour of female worth and usefulness in England, borne by our rivals themselves, should make us alive to the dangerous tendencies of the contagious intercourse at this moment so unrestrained, and becoming so habitual, between the two countries.
ART. III.-Observations on the State of Ireland, principally directed
to its Agriculture and Rural Population : in a Series of Letters, written on a Tour through that Country. By J. C. Curwen, Esq. M. P. 2 vols. 8vo. pp. 700. Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy.
London, 1818. THIS is a very important book, and cannot, we think, fail to attract the notice of every one who is alive to the real interests of the British empire. It contains the observations of a man of active and discriminating benevolence, eminently well informed on those points to which his attention was especially directed, and not unacquainted with the general interests of these countries. To such a man Ireland must have presented a field of inquiry the most curious, and most interesting; nor is it possible for any one who has visited, or read, or heard of that important member of our great empire, to be indifferent to the result of his investigations. We all know that Ireland presents an aggregate of paradoxes and anomalies, both civil and moral. Its recent history, the records of its daily occurrences, the influx of its inhabitants upon our shores, the rich seeking, or professing to seek shelter from the barbarism of the lower orders, the poor craving for employment, thronging the streets under every varied form of mendicity, and filling our ears with the tale of their sufferings—all these are symptoms which none of us can mistake; they betoken a highly disordered state of the body politic, and yet we suffer ourselves to remain in ignorance of the real nature of this disorder, and of its exciting causes. Mr. Curwen resides in Cumberland, almost within sight of the mountains of Mourne, and in the closest habits of commercial intercourse with many of the principal sea-ports of the island; yet he very frankly avows a degree of ignorance respecting it, which would scarcely be excused if his projected lour had been through Madagascar.
“I regret that I have not employed more of my leisure on the topography and locality of Ireland. "I perceive I am on a voyage of discovery, and, like a mariner without a compass, at a loss how to steer my course." (Vol. i. p. 4.)
"It is really a national reproach to us to be thus generally ignorant, as we are, of so important a part of the empire. Every calumny has thus not only been credited, but exaggerated; every oppression not only tolerated, but promoted. By false and unjust estimates has the general character of this valuable people been computed and traduced.
cannot assert that even my own mind is wholly free from all unfavourable impressions. I will however endeavour to be candid, and,
with the feeling of an honest juror, my verdict shall always be governed by the evidence offered to the conviction of my senses.
“ The state of existence of so large a portion of mankind ought not-cannot be viewed with indifference; and when I may have subdued the solicitude I now feel for objects left behind, no new incident, however trifling, will fail to awaken and interest my attention. It is certainly possible to pass through a country, and to take no notice of it; the field I am about to explore is extensive-wonderfully diversified; and, to a mind not actually asleep, it canoot avoid awakening abundant reflection.” (Vol. i. p. 4, 5.)
“ The prospect of visiting a country, which, although almost within our view, and daily in our contemplation, is as little known to me, comparatively speaking, as if it were an island in the remotest part of the globe, necessarily produces a high degree of interest. The effects of this kind of interest on different persons are frequently very opposite. In some it would contribute to magnify all objects beyond their due proportions—in others, to contract and reduce them below their real standard. How my mind may be operated on, time alone will develope. I mean as far as possible to forget all former traces-all reports and tales of others, and to form my opinions by a candid and liberal examination of whatever may be presented for the exercise of my judgment.” (Vol. i. p. 7.)
We give these as a candid and explicit avowal of sentiments and feelings, made to a friend in a private letter (for this form Mr. Curwen has made choice of to communicate his remarks), nor does any thing occur throughout the volumes which will justify a doubt, that these declarations were sincerely made and faithfully adhered to. The tour was undertaken in the month of August, 1813. Some private considerations to which Mr. C. alludes in the preface, prevented him from giving his observations to the public while they were yet recent. They are now brought forward “under an impression that, in the discussions now likely to take place on the poor laws, it may not be unimportant to call the public attention to this established fact, that the Irish peasantry depending solely on themselves, and possessing the necessaries of life in a much less proportion than falls to the share of those numerous parties who receive parish relief in England, are, in point of happiness, vastly their superiors. The cause of this is evident: their independency of mind supports them under all their privations, and gives them the full power of enjoying the social affections, which the great moralist and philosopher, Dr. Paley, considers the primary source of human happiness.”
We will not say that the period which has elapsed since the date of these letters has diminished their value, but it has certainly changed the character of the feelings with which we peruse them. The traveller in the autumn of 1813 saw Ireland under circumstances very peculiar. Agricultural and commercial specu