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“ The evening presented a scene worthy of the pen of Tassoni. The streets were strewed, not with the dead, but with the dead-drunk. Both the successful and the beaten party passed the night in uproar, amidst clouds of tobacco smoke, foaming tankards of ale, and spirits. It was a complete bacchanal.”
Here, too, are tactics on the part of candidates and electors, which we trust can never be repeated.
“ It is important to have a number of electors ready in order to gain a superiority in the first few days. Success in the outset frequently decides the victory. But it is nevertheless necessary to distribute the number so as to keep the poll open, and also to bring forward first the doubtful votes, and to keep the sure ones in reserve.
" When there is a contested election, the voters during the contest come, sometimes, a distance of three or four hundred miles. Virtue is ever mingled with vice. Many electors boast that they are invincible by threats, incorruptible by money. Some prefer to lose their employment, to be displaced by the government, turned off by their employer, abandoned by their client, or their patron, rather than vote against their conscience. It is certainly true that, for the most part, when any elector is the victim of his integrity, the party for whom he has voted comes to his assistance, repairs the loss he has suffered, and secures bim from injury; but a great number yield to seduction, or to threats, and prefer to rectitude an attention to the interests of the moment. A less numerous, but more crafty and corrupt class, feign indecision at first, that they may gain time and sell their votes dearer at the last moment. When an election is obstinately contested, the victory is frequently decided by a few votes out of several thousands; the last are, consequently, bought at a very high price. In the last election for the county of York, two voters who were in Wales, were paid two hundred guineas, besides their expenses. In this election at Nottingham, two electors asked thirty guineas each for their vote, but while they were bargaining the poll was closed, and they remained without their money."
This calculating spirit of corruption, this base practice of weighing the exigencies of a candidate, and making the price of a voter's conscience depend, like the rise and fall of stocks, upon the result of each day's poll, is, we trust, effectually counteracted by the present limitation of elections to two days. There is much good sense in the following comparison of the systems or direct and indirect election.
“ Political writers bave already inquired which is to be preferred, direct or indirect election. If I were to judge by wbat I have seen in Spain and in England, I should adopt the opinion of those who think that direct election includes, on the whole, more advantages. The Spanish constitution prescribed three grades of election, the first parochial, the second of districts, the third, the actual election of the deputies. In 1821 I saw one of these elections at Madrid. I remember that it was cold and insipid. There was no concourse, no contention, no enthusiasm ; nor could the names of Riego, Arguelles, Galiano, and many otber illustrious patriots, warm the people. These were not elected directly by the people, but by electors chosen by the people. The people cannot feel a lively interest in parocbial elections, in which is nominated a number of electors, who are to choose a still smaller number of other electors, who are, finally, to elect the deputy. Under such a system the people do not know the candidates ; their election is to the people a chance or lottery. The candidates distant from the people, separated from them by two ranks of electors, make no profession of principles contract no obligation, are not indebted to the people for their election, and, consequently, do not take so much pains either to cultivate or to assist them. These elections by progressive steps, it is true, avoid the conflict of passions, and certain tumults and disorders, perhaps also are less subject to corruption, perhaps also are more especially expedient among people of a warm and excitable character. But they are, on the other band, devoid of that emulation, that fire, that interest which are the life of free existence. Hardly any one in Spain knew that an election was going on, while in England it is a general convulsion, it is a species of patriotic phrenzy which invades every class, every city, every village. In direct elections the people re-assumes the sovereignty in all its power, is the judge of individuals, the awarder of prizes, and the arbiter of fame. The English system of election moreover, thanks to the custom that the candidates should be proposed by some of the most respectable of the electors, has also this advantage over election by progressive steps, that it tends to direct and enlighten the people in the choice of their representatives."
In conclusion, we willingly express the satisfaction with which (with some slight exceptions) we have read these pleasing and unpretending works. We should be glad to see more from the same pen, and on the same great subject, England. There is a very wide field on which Count Pecchio has not yet entered, many interesting features to which he has not yet adverted ; and if his means of observation have been sufficient, we should gladly see him offer to his countrymen, and the world at large, other sketches drawn in the same spirit of charitable candour which characterizes those before us.
ART. VIII.-1. Paris, ou le Livre des Cent et Un. Tomes IV.
V. VI. VII. VIII. Paris, 1832. Svo. 2. Oeuvres de Charles Nodier. Paris, 1832. 5 Tomes. Svo. In noticing the first three volumes of this Parisian Album on a great scale, we had occasion to make some observations on the prevailing tone of the literature of France at the present day; to indicate slightly some of those perilous and mistaken directions to which it appeared to be tending ;-the exaggeration of painting,
the moral cynicism, the revolting nature of its subjects, the utter absence of sound feeling and pervading morality which characterized most of those works which in the course of the last two or three years had attained popularity; and without entering minutely into the causes of this aspect of Literature, to express our conviction that the general instability of opinion and removal of the accustomed land marks in morals and legislation, in the science of government, and in the candour of criticism, were exercising, in the first instance at least, a degrading and unfavourable influence on Literature in general. The perusal of the volumes prefixed to this article has tended to contirin these views, both by the direct corroborative testimony which some of their ablest and most impartial contributors bear to the truth of the opinions we then ventured to express, and by the indirect but not less convincing evidence which others of them afford of the very errors against which our observations were directed.
No elevated or profound Literature in truth can ever be expected, when it is regarded, not as an end, but as a means ; considered in this light, its practice is no higher than that of any other trade or profession. When it is regarded as a step to enployment, as the necessary tenure of office, or a useful engine for obtaining that notoriety or influence which, in the present omnipotence of the press in France, is the passport to wealth or power, it naturally stoops its flight to the level of its aim, and accommodates its inspiration and its morality to the scenes and the principles with which it is conversant. The only fervent and unsullied worship which is paid to Literature, is the devotion of the wilderness, the closet, and the cell; half of those who surround its public altars at the present day are false priests, who seek to live only by the things of the altar, or to make their profession of faith a stepping-stone to their worldly advancement. When we laugh at the labours of the schoolman, the midnight oil of the anchorite, the researches of the metaphysician ;--their time spent, their toil wasted, apparently without return,-would it not be well to recollect that all the “ fancies chaste and noble” which have vivified or elevated humanity have owed their existence to this very principle of self sacrifice? Doubtless it is no light effort which enables the poet or the philosopher to contemplate with calmness the necessity of overlooking the present, of passing over the ovly beings with whom he is ever likely to mingle on earth, in order to shake his distant posterity by the hand : to live only in the
memory of those who are yet unborn, to cast what might have been his bread upon the waters, in the hope that he should see it again after many days! Yet such, we think, must be the case if ever Literature is to assert its old supremacy :—if ever we are again to see a Galileo delineating in spite of inquisitor's the motions of our planet on the walls of his dungeon, a Cervantes old and miserably poor, yet bating no jot of heart or hope, and brightening the gloom of poverty and imprisonment with the steady ray of hope and genial bumour; a Tasso, a Camoens, labouring for immortality : while the one is praying his cat to lend him her lustrous eyes, perhaps to pen those inmortal stanzas which describe the flight of Ermina, or the death of Clorinda, and the other, wounded and neglected, subsisting on the almis which his faithful negro could gather; a noble Milton, whose mental eye as well as that of the body, is shut upon the scene around him, but open to higher prospects, and more distant views ; if ever, we say, Literature is likely in France to reascend“ selfraised and repossess its native seat,” it must be pursued in a very different spirit, and with very different aims, from those in which it is at present prosecuted.
The absence of any exalted or wide reaching views in Literature soon manifests itself, not only in the slavish submission to the opinions or vices of the time, but in the minuter details of composition, and the general canons of criticism and taste. Wherever Literature follows, instead of leading; imitates, instead of creating; Aatters, instead of opposing or reproving ; wherever nature is treated like the magazine of a magic lanthorn, in which beings the most beautiful or grotesque, angels or deinons, fairy forms, or hideous contorsions, are all equally admissible, provided they make the spectator stare, and awaken the curiosity of that grown child the public; wherever, we say, such is the state of things, a coarse, sketchy, and affected vivacity, without true depth or real feeling, a cynical bardibood both in the materials of Literature and in their application, are generally the result. But the intluence of these principles on modern French Literature is stated with more force and knowledge of the subject than we can pretend to, by one who justly describes himself as an “old friend of Letters and Liberty ;" but to whom the only consoling view in regard to the present situation seems to be that it has reached that point, in which any possible change must be for the better. In an able and eloquent paper entitled “ Les Gens de lettres d'aujourdhui,” M. Keratry observes :
“ How strange is the contradiction which exists in our manners ? How just is the cause of apprehension it affords? Cynicism has been banished from the domestic roof, from the most familiar intercourse, but only to take refuge in our writings, in our books, in our journals, in our pleadings, in our theatres ! It is expelled from private life, it reigns supreme in public. The men of letters have contributed to this irregularity; they have bastened it; they bave with their own hands broke down the barriers wbich the good sense of the public bas erected against license in every nation which boasts a constituted society. They seem to have received from the Genius of Evil the sad mission of granting a bill of indemnity to all that is perverse and ungovernable in our nature. One would almost be tempted to believe that after transporting them to the pinnacle of the temple, and showing them all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, the Spirit of Evil had said to them all these will I give to you if ye will fall down and worship me!'....
“ Our writers have in fact created a new morality, adapted to the use of the present generation. It is they who, disenchanting the scenes about us, will no longer permit our tears to flow for innocence in danger, or misfortune contending with an unmerited destiny; it is they who seek in public to associate us with emotions which we should be ashamed to confess in the bosom of our families, or to interest us in the triumph of what, in a well regulated community, would justly come under the lash of the law. Let us confess the truth. Is it not the same principle in literature which at this moment invests the doctrines of an anti-social sect * with a majesty borrowed from the Sacred Writings, and after giving a religious varnish to irreligion, an appearance of morality to immorality the most profound, labours at last to give the charm of decent voluptuousness to promiscuous intercourse?
“ We are not ignorant that the general feeling revolts against these profanations; but is it not to be dreaded that what is openly avowed must at last come to have a practical influence on our morals? A degeneracy of taste in literature bas consequences more serious than are susspected: it will soon re-act with evil influence upon our domestic habits and civil relations. Thought cannot be sullied, nor the course of human sentiment perverted, with impunity. Immoral writers, like blind guides, must lead society astray. Beware, then, legislators! All the world reads the morning papers, the romances of the day; all the world goes to the theatre; and the taint, descending to the lower classes, becomes incurable, when for the love of labour and the sentiments of religion we have substituted the longing after happiness wbich it is not in their power to attain.
“ Neither let us suppose authors themselves are above those violent and irregular passions of which they render themselves the organs. The rich will abuse their fortune ; the poor will be jealous of that of others. Glory must be ready to wait on their call with all its laurels, with all its rewards, and without any of its reverses. If it deceives their expectation, the remedy is in their own band. High priests of that nothingness wbich they have so often invoked, after having conducted too credulous worshippers to its altars, they owe it one last victim; nor have they far to search for hiin! They touch the cup of life with their lips, and feeling it bitter, they dash down its liquor. We have seen and shuddered at such scenes but lately, when two presumptuous young mien, thinking to obtain in a moment the result of long years and persevering labour, and disappointed in that hope, would not wait the slow arrival of that
* The St. Simonians.