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metropolis shine in more vivid splendor of conversational talent than at that period. The fact is emphatically attested by Madame de Stäel, herself a conspicuous star in the resplendent horizon, who says, "Jamais cette société, tant vantée pour son charme et son éclat, n'a été aussi brillante et aussi sérieuse tout ensemble, que pendant les trois ou quatre premiéres années de la Révolution, à compter de 1788 à 1791.” (Considérations sur la Révolution Française, tome i., page 381-ed. 1818.) Yet these flashes, or apparent inspirations, it is well known were not unfrequently "des impromptus faits à loisir," elaborated in previous study, rather than the spontaneous expression or bursting utterance of the moment. We too, could produce our Chesterfields, our Selwyns, our Sheridans, and Currans, of traditional celebrity, in that evanescent exertion of talent, followed by Coleridge, Theodore Hook, my gifted friend, Dr. Maginn, with numerous others-all, however, eclipsed in native powers by Johnson, or at least not so fortunate in transmitted fame-" Carent quia vate sacro." But in our female circles we scarcely are enabled, I apprehend, to oppose any successful rivals to the Dudeffants, the Geoffrins, or Mademoiselle l'Espinasse, and far less to Mad. de Stäel and Sophie-Arnaud-to the polished point of the one, the keen allusions and apt, though too often unfeminine, vivacity of the other. The Revolution eventually acted on these réunions, or "bureaux d'esprit," as they were termed, with equal influence, suspensive or mortal, as on all existing institutions; but, though not wholly extinct, they have never recovered their former lustre. Rivarol's maturer works, written during his emigration, were more solid however; but the Abbé

Gabriel Henry's "Histoire de la Langue Française," (1822, 2 vols., 8vo.,) is of superior texture; and, at page 270 of the first tome, his remarks on this claimed universality of his tongue are entitled to notice. It records the successive evolutions of the language; and a comparative view of the English with the Italian and Spanish, is fairly presented in the "Paralleli dei Vocabulari, Italiano, Spagnuolo, ed Inglese," &c.— (Milano, 1817-8vo.)

The French language, ere it had surrendered its independence, or sunk subdued and unnerved under the imposed fetters of the Academy, was far more vigorous, freer of movement, and variant in inflexion, as may be seen in the poetry of Marot, Ronsart, or Malherbe, as well as in the prose of Froissard, Comines, Rabelais, Amyot, Montaigne, Charron, Brantôme and Descartes. It has lately, however, recovered much of its long compressed elastic energy, without impairing its characteristic lucidity. Swift regretted that an Academy, in restraint of what he considered the exuberant tendency of the English tongue, was not instituted. His sentiments on the subject were addressed to the Lord High Treasurer, Harley, Earl of Oxford, under the title of "Proposal for correcting, improving, and ascertaining the English Tongue."

The recommendation was not adopted; and our vernacular idiom is, as I believe in consequence, considerably more copious than its rival. It is more widely spread in space, and embraces a larger mass of people in its use, than the French, with every prospect of a still greater relative extension. "Even now," to borrow the words of Dr. Arnold's inaugural lecture, "it is covering the earth from one end to the other."

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It is, in fact, commensurate in practice, partial or general, with the empire of its birth, from whose surface, still more demonstrably and with greater precision of fact than the boast of the Hispano-German Cæsar, Charles V., the light of day is never wholly withdrawn, for on some portion of its vast expanse the sun is always visible above the horizon. And, as to its superior riches, I may appeal to a very simple test. Let any dictionary, French and English, be compared in their respective divisions, and the inferiority of the former will be at once apparent in its numbered pages; an uniform result which has often surprised, and not less mortified, many a French acquaintance, before whom, always selecting an edition of his country's press, for surer effect, I have tried this plain criterion. A more minute parallel may be seen in the Gentleman's Magazine for November, 1841, page 490. It is not, therefore, I confess, without some feeling of humiliation, that I have witnessed the advantage conferred on our neighbours by the preference of their language in our foreign diplomacy.

The least civilised nation of Europe, confessedly possesses the ablest diplomatists, though rarely, indeed, natives of Russia. They speak all languages. "To πλήθος συνέχθη, ὅτι ἤκουον εἰς ἕκαστος τη ίδια διαλέκτω λαλούντων avrv." They can assume the garb and personate the character of every people, "make themselves all things to all men," and, balancing in the impassive scale of policy any case of interest, alternately wield the imperious wand of a Popilius, or affect the blandishments of a Talleyrand, or seductions of a Marlborough, whom Lord Chesterfield represents as not less

successful in negotiation than in the field. But never do we find a Muscovite politician moved by a liberal impulse, or enticed by a generous feeling, to deflect in the slightest degree, from the traced course of his ambition. In truth, our own foreign agents fall under the same selfish censure in continental, or, at least, French opinion, however, we may think, unjustly; but the hate and thirst for revenge of vanquished France can only be satiated or quenched in the retaliated defeat and blood of her victor, "Longe, longe absit illa dies!" The declaration of Chatham, unworthy, both in truth and policy, of a great statesman, "that France was our natural enemy," now nearly extinct in use, and, I trust, in feeling, with all educated Britons, has changed its direction, and is retorted on ourselves by those who were its objects. That England is the born foe of France is proclaimed and echoed by almost every pen and tongue. Most deeply do I lament and deprecate this national estrangement. Rivals, not enemies, let us be, and competitors for the amelioration, not the destruction, of human life. "Verum hæc nobis certamina ex honesto maneant," I love to repeat with Tacitus. (Annal. iii., 55.

Milton wrote his dispatches in Latin; for Cromwell would acknowledge no modern superiority. The danger of misconception, or misrepresentation, is also to be feared, and not always discoverable by our ministers. Walpole, we are told by his son, was wholly ignorant of French, as our first George had to regret, and Canning's knowledge of it was very slight, nor was the two Pitt's acquaintance with it much superior. Fox's vaunted scholarship was also found

deficient, on trial, by Napoleon, (See our first volume, page 77,) though far above that of the Pelhams, (Newcastle and his brother,) so that, like our Eastern dragomans, the interpreters might designedly or unconsciously pervert the minister's intentions. Very lately, our envoy to Brazil, in his first audience with the young sovereign of that region, addressed him in French. Last year, however, the correspondence between Lord Aberdeen and the Prussian Minister, Baron Bülow, on the commercial international charges, (Zolverein) was carried on in their respective tongues, though not without the German's complaint of this departure from rule, which had originated with Lord Aberdeen. I hope he will continue it.

The Emperor Charles V., always spoke Italian to foreign ministers; it was then, Voltaire asserts, as the French now is, the language of diplomacy. Charles XII., of Sweden, with the spirit of Cromwell, would not condescend to employ any other tongue than Latin; but our Elizabeth was proud of her acquirements, and desirous of displaying them. She generally conversed with the ambassadors of southern Europe in their own, and with those of the north in the Latin, language. Her prompt retort in 1597, on the Polish envoy of Sigismund III., appears demonstrative of the mastery she possessed of the Roman idiom, which, however, she must have pronounced somewhat differently from the present English mode, to have made herself intelligible. Erasmus had contributed to reform the vicious pronunciation of Greek and Latin in various parts of the continent, and, with Lilly and Colet, corrected many similar defects in our universities; but the sound of our vowels has continued

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