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EDINBURGH REVIEW,

AUGUST, 1820.

N. LXVII.

Art. I. 1. Recherches sur les Causes qui ont empeché les Fran

çois de devenir libres et sur les Moyens qui leur restent pour le

devenir. Par MR MOUNIER. 1792. 2. Statistique Elémentaire de la France, &c. Par Mr Jacques

PEUCHET. 1805. 3. Rapport fait au Conseil-General des Hospices par un de ses

Membres sur l'Etat des Hopitaux et des Hospices, ainsi que des secours à domicile, du ler Janvier 1804 au ler Janvier 1814.

Paris, 1816. 4. Administration des Hopitaux, Hospices civils secours à domi

cile, enfans trouvés, fc. au 31 Murs, 1819. 5. Rapport Général sur les Travaux du Conseil de Salubrité

pour 1819. 6. Mémoire sur le Cadastre et détails Statistiques sur le nombre

et la division des taxes de la contribution fonciere, sur le revenu commun des Proprietaires de Biens Fonds en France, &c. Par MR LE Duc de GAETA, Membre de la Chambre des Dém

putés. 1818. 7. Reflexions sur l’Organisation Municipale et sur les Conseils

Generaux de Departemens et les Conseils d'Arrondissemens. Par Mr DUVERGIER DE HAURANNE, Deputé de la Seine

Inferieure. 1818. 8. Considerations sur la Politique et sur les Circonstances as

tuelles. 1820. 9. Petit Catéchisme à l'Usage des François, &c. Par MR DE

Pradt, Ancien Archevêque de Malines. . 1820. THERE is nothing so common as to mistake a knowledge of

the recent events in a nation's history for a knowledge of VOL. XXXIV. NO. 67.

А

its true state and condition. But there can scarcely be a greater delusion. Where the events have been numerous and important, it is generally extremely difficult to ascertain what has been their general result, even in what is called a political point of view, or as to the parties and principles immediately concerned so much and so variously do they modify and balance and neutralize each other—and so frequently do parties change their names, and qualify their principles in the alternations of success and defeat that occur in a protracted struggle. This, however, is a kind of equation for which, at all events, a diligent study of the history will furnish the necessary terms-and to which a reasonable approximation may generally be made by proper pains and precaution. But it is a thousand times more difficult, and in fact often impossible, to gather or infer from the modern annals of any country, what is the actual condition of its people, or even what are the changes which the events there recorded have wrought in its condition. The practical results of political innovations are often so different from what had been contemplated, either by their advocates or opposers-the collateral effects of all exclusive changes are generally so much greater than the direct, and the new interests that are silently generated from the contention of old ones so often of far more importance than those to which they have succeeded, that events which would have been of the greatest moment in the former state of things, become altogether insig. nificant in the present, and men centinue fighting and debating about measures which can no longer exert much influence on their fortunes.

All these remarks, we think, are eminently applicable to the recent history and present situation of France. For the last twentyfive years, the world have been occupied almost exclusively with the grent events of which that country has been the theatre and the spring—and yet there are very few, we are persuaded, even among its own politicians, who are thoroughly aware either of the changes which these events have produced on the bulk of the population, or of the effects which these changes must still have on the institutions which are now on their trial. We have all beard of its Revolution-of its long and unexamplel successes in war-of its reverses of the fate of its ambitious rulerof restoration the first and restoration the second-of charters of chambers of deputies and chambers of peers-of ministries and parties and laws of election. But it has seldom been considered of what elements those things were compounded, or in what way the changes in the state of the nation rendered other changes indispensable or insignificant. Our travellers indeed continue to resort to Paris in vast numbers, and go the usual round of sights and introductions: occasionally take part with Ultras or with Liberals, with Bonapartists, with Bourbonists; but few have thought of inquiring what sort of thing the People of France actually is at this moment?--we do not mean the politicians of Paris only, but the thirty millions of souls which compose the population of the kingdom. We have lately taken some pains to inform ourselves upon this great question--and shall now lay before our readers the sum of the knowledge we have acquired.

A very large proportion of the French nation, composed of mere country labourers, found themselves unexpectedly raised to the rank of Proprietors by the sale of national lands in small parcels at the beginning of the Revolution. A prodigious impulse was given to industry by this change of situation; and the love of property it originally produced has continued ever since to increase. The competition for the acquisition of land is such, that a farm in the neighbourhood of any village, if sold in small lots, is sure to bring a considerable advance of price. There are instances of sales at the rate of 80 or even 100 years' purchase--the new proprietor depending for his subsistence in a great degree on the produce of his personal labour and that of his family. Children usually inherit equal shares of the paternal property, although the law allows the father to dispose of one-third if he leaves only two children, and one-fourth if he leaves a greater number. This is another and a constantly increasing principle of division of property, and with it of population, every fractional proprietor thinking he can marry upon his small patrimony.

A change, no less important, has taken place in the condition of Artificers: the Gothic system of corporate bodies of trades. men (Jurandes et Maîtrises) endowed with exclusive privileges, was abolished at the Revolution, as well as the regular course of apprenticeship, companionship, &c. Society has so far gained, that natural abilities, and superior industry have freer scope, and the skilful and the strong win the race easier than they would have done otherwise at the same time that those of inferior capacity are sooner distanced. Some of the old regulations were tyrannical and absurd: they might have been amended with evident benefits but it is not certain that the public or the workmen themselves have gained upon the whole by their indiscriminate abolition.

The continental system had given to French industry a monopoly which some of the great manufactories established under

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