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And so in all he does through life there is no integrity, he is never whole. Generally a part, only, of him acts, while the other parts look on. He is largely possessed by that peculiar dishonesty of our age, which aims at achieving pleasure without payment. Now, of all things in the world, pleasure will be paid for, as will success; perfect enjoyment being a work which, to produce, exacts a portion of your own very self, given in return as its fair price.
When Frenchmen go to the " Derby" the more philosophical of them shake their heads, and ask why it is so different from Le Grand Prix? And what is still more puzzling to them is the University Boat Race; for here life itself, health, the chances of a future career are at stake-staked against the triumph of an hour. A phrase from a provincial English newspaper was much quoted in Paris à propos to the last Oxford and Cambridge Race, much pondered over, perhaps not thoroughly understood. was as follows:
... it is impossible to doubt that strong qualities are fostered by boat-racing over longdistance courses. Men who can row a stern chase over a long reach of river, and win, may be trusted to go anywhere and do anything. They will not fail for want of pluck and that utter incapacity to take a beating which the enemies of England call our intolerable obstinacy.
Among the comments made on this passage (and they were numerous), the fact mostly dwelt on was that, in after life, so many promising young men were reputed to have failed in attaining eminence on account of this very athletic and exhausting triumph of an hour. True! but they had the "hour" in its perfect plenitude, and the Arabs have a saying that he who commands the hour mostly commands the time.'
It is not difficult to see how the man, whose life is thus prudently guarded, and whose spiritual and moral thrift is thus severe, how, as a matter of course, his capacity for dependence must have grown. The first proof given of this is the ready submission to whatsoever form of Government proclaims that it means to govern by the strong hand and uphold "authority." The Government that, on the contrary, invites the nation to partake its responsibilities, and share in the task of Rule," as Mr.
And this leads direct to the power of the clergy, and, above all, to their power at the present moment.
It will be perceived that in these pages we are studying what constitutes Society," or those groups of the community who arrogate to themselves that name. This takes in a far greater mass of human beings, even in France, than is commonly supposed, and in fact only excludes the man who lives by the work of his hands, and him immediately above him who sells such handiwork over the counter. Christian belief-be it Catholic or Protestant, the faith held by Coligny or St. Vincent de Paul-is extinct in Frenchmen, though they have come to such a depth of ignorance that they are themselves not altogether aware of it; only, the less they believe, the more they lean upon the clergy; and given the system of matrimony now accepted as law, the priest has gradually become the almost universal arbitrator. It is this dominion of the Church (quite apart from any faith of whatsoever description) that not only the existing Government in France has completely failed to observe, but that has been transforming-radically transformingFrench society for the last quarter of a century without any one taking the trouble to note what was going on.
We must cast a glance at pre-revolutionary times. Birth alone was the recognized source of superiority; recognized so commonly by all, even by those who worst hated it, that they acknowledged it as the real thing," and resolved to destroy it. They cut off heads wholesale, because they could not admit of themselves obtaining that one unattainable object; everything else was attainable, but they refused to believe in an imitation: in une noblesse pas née.
Hence the fact that merit can, in France, realize no supreme distinction. Desert is only relatively rewarded. relatively rewarded. Glory, even, could not entirely succeed; for after Napoleon had frightened the world, and played battledore-andshuttlecock with King's crowns, he gained his topmost steps toward Olympus by mating with a real (!) Emperor's daughter, and familiarly alluding to the lamentable victim of '93, discrowned, outraged, done to death by popular fury, as 'Mon Oncle, Louis XVI." All his own fabulous triumphs had never stifled the secret longings of his innermost spirit!
Besides the want of all real reverence for desert, there has never been any consecrating medium in France since 1789. No one believed more in any, and the cry for equality rose higher and higher, because it cannot be octroyé, hanging as it does more upon men's consciences than upon decrees. But, as M. de Tocqueville remarks in his Ancien Régime et Révolution, when the power was gone, the vanities lived on; and now came once more the turn of the high-born, and after a most unexpected fashion. It has been noted that when the traffic between illustrious names and heavy purses first began, the principle acted upon universally was the total suppression of the bride's family. She, herself, was chosen and lifted up to the place of honor, and henceforth would divide a rank and title to which, until then, she could only look up with awful idolatry. But her belongings were reputed base as before, and remained base. The proof of how radical was the feeling which prompted this, how ingrained in the popular mind, comes forth in the fact that no sooner had the revolutionary storm swept by than the old system cropped up afresh, and the former mode of contracting marriage reasserted itself quite naturally. Beheadings and drownings, and prison massacres, had altered nothing. They were, after all, isolated facts; a few thousand aristocrats had been murdered, but the principle was not touched; and the principle was that rich plebeian wives should purchase high-born husbands. And from 1804 up to the last years of the Second Empire (toward 1866-7-8) the practice endured in full
force. Girls were taken out of the surroundings of their homes, taught to look down upon them, and the children of the persecuted had it now all their own way, and made the executioners pay for violence by humiliation. But the point to note is, that they, the humiliated, did not think the price too high, but paid it submissively. That the aristocrats of France (though with blood already sadly mixed) should have despised the plebeians, is explicable enough; but the important fact is that, after all that had past, the plebeians still believed in them! From this has proceeded most of what is to be noted now in social France, and it is just the one fact least chronicled, and that for obvious reasons. The Restoration is, relatively, the period during which the fewest of these degrading bargains were struck. On the one side there was a foolish conviction of "finality," and a desire, from sheer exhaustion, for repose. On the other, there was a double current-military and civilian-of opposition so bitter that the passions of thirty years past were seething once more beneath the surface; and hatred (however disguised) was beginning to rage at the bottom of men's hearts.
This was the time when France had her one great chance of a Constitutional Monarchy with Farliamentary institutions. She possessed a solid middleclass, wealthy, well-educated, with fairly classical instruction, a good deal of moral sense (though based on the narrowest notions), a bourgeoisie, in short, out of which, with time and tranquillity, such a class of public men might have been made as would have saved the nation from the fatal follies and crimes. that followed after the Revolution of 1830.
Till the Spanish marriages-which, like the battle of Leipsic for Napoleon I., were the premier coup de cloche of the July monarchy-France had, politically speaking, as many and as good elements of respectable Government countries; and, socially speaking, she disposed largely of all the elements of intellectual civilization.
Out of what was the now growing antagonism between the old Court groups and the rising bourgeoisie there were two manifest advantages made evident: the
bourgeois strove to distinguish themselves, and become as nearly like English gentlemen as possible; and the purely patrician class (the people of fashion, who had not yet entitled themselves le Monde) felt they could not, in the face of their adversaries, afford to be wholly useless, famous only for their frivolity (which invariably leads to worse!).
With all their political insanities and suicidal mistakes, the years between 1825 and 1848 were an epoch of splendid culture and brain development in France. From Villemain, Cousin, Guizot, Thiers, down to Tocqueville and Montalembert; from Chateaubriand and Joseph de Maistre down to Lamennais and Lacordaire, and Augustin Thierry and Michelet; from Balzac and Dumas père down to Mérimée and St. Beuve; from Lamartine, Victor Hugo, and Vigny down to Alfred de Musset; every separate stream of intellect, science, religion, philosophy, his tory, fiction, poetry, æsthetics, or the arts, poured forth exuberantly from an overflowing source, and did not sink in the ground, losing itself in a barren waste, but fecundated every rood of the land it passed though. Society was cultivated, society was polite; society was healthy, preferring good to evil, and capable of enthusiasm. In a word, society was; for without all these things society is not.
But be it duly registered, the natural basis of this social edifice was conflict; the conflict between two rival powers neither of which could allow the other to prevail. If the vanities and love of show of the mere noblesse de Cour, and the restless ambition of their women led them to regard themselves as Jove's firstborn sons, they still dared not refuse competition, and still less affect to disdain Power as the reward of merit. On the other hand, Power was in truth the exclusive privilege of the bourgeoisie, and in their ranks alone resided the modern reverence for merit, the recognition of the public worth of true citizens, and a certain capacity of independence handed down from the dignified traditions of les familles Parementaires. In the rank and file of this haute bourgeoisie the arrogance of the patrician class went a great way toward their better qualities, and in
the conviction that no real amalgamation could ever exist between the two will be found the chief raison d'être of the high character with which some of the men of the Tiers État were (justly enough) credited-till now. France did owe in our age an enormous debt to her bourgeoisie. Money and clericalism have changed all this, and the transformation is the most radical that has occurred since 1789.
In the face of the ignoble servility with which every form of rule is submitted to, be it military despotism, the vulgarest plutocracy, or the brutal tyranny of the lowest and most ignorant mob, one question rises up: What has become of la haute bourgeoisie? Where are the men who, from the L'Hôpitals and Harlays of past times down to the Royer Collards and Foys and others of yesterday, were the barriers against all arbitrary encroachments, and who invariably and sternly resisted Injustice and scorned Superstition? Where are they? They are still represented, but they have gone over to the other side. That fusion considered impossible has been made. It is complete. But how? There is no consecrating power, no equalizing medium in France; less, indeed, than ever. What sovereign influence, therefore, has reconciled these foes? There lies the mistake: Money has grown into the "equalizing medium," and the Church is the "sovereign influence." This is so tremendous a revolution that it is well worth looking into its details. That wealth should act as a counterpoise to a too narrow worship of mere birth ought not to be complained of; it is unavoidable, and generally promotes more elegant enjoyments, a higher level of female education, and by degrees superior culture and public activity in the descendants of rich men. But for this there must be free institutions, the capacity of independence and self-assertion in the race itself, and, above all, absence of superstition, and of those peculiar prejudices that unconsciously dwarf the national mind from the very cradle.
It is all this that is non-existent in France, where a throne is burnt as firewood in half an hour and a Dynasty swept away, but no really strong popular prejudice ever overthrown (and in France a prejudice is always popular).
In the days when girls were taken from their families and taught to regard them as "inconveniences" to be got rid of, the clergy were wholly on the side of the titled husband, and preached to their pénitentes what a glorious thing it was to be so lifted up to exalted spheres and privileged to bear sons who should perpetuate illustrious names! Nor was this one of the lesser causes of the hatred of the Tiers État for the Church.
But in the same proportion in which grew the enormous influx of wealth (legitimate and illegitimate) during the Second Empire, and its unholy power of submerging every worth, every honesty, every virtue-in the same measure grew the keen appreciation by the clergy of its applicability to their own interests. The Empire deliberately ostracised the Gallican clergy, who had been the honor of Christian France, and called back, illegally, the disciples of Loyola, thus casting the nation spiritually under the direct sway of the Pope in Rome. It soon became fashionable" to adopt all the outward forms of ultramontane countries. Forms alone were needed. Faith was left in the keeping of the Father Confessor, who affirmed that that was his affair. What he aimed at was obedience, and he got it. Doctrine was set aside, but the strictest pratiques were enjoined. M. Cousin was wont to say laughingly, "Oh! la Trinité incréé leur est bien égale! If only I would go to confess, and fast on Fridays, I might believe what I choose." And he, for example, lived pleasantly enough with the congregations. So did M. Thiers. Les Jésuites ne me gêneut pas!" he would constantly repeat; to which, on one occasion, M. de Rémusat replied, Non! ni le bon Dieu non plus !'' But, with all this, "society" in France had at last found its master. The priesthood reigned. They had found out where the gold-mines were situated, and also that to dispose of wealth unlimited for the clergy the industrial classes only were to be propitiated. They turned, therefore, to the bourgeoisie en masse; enrolled the children, boys and girls, in no end of picturesque "associations," became the general matrimonial agents, showed themselves lenient to every sin, and won over all the bourgeoisie mothers by procuring for
them that madly-coveted and despairedof end, the positive and firmly-established equality with les grandes dames! Of course, the husbands were finally brought over too, for in their soul they believed any price worth paying for admission on absolutely equal terms into what they call le vrai monde. Money adroitly used did a great deal; but money did not do all, or the result would have been achieved sooner. No! the priest, when he once decided on subjugating the so-called "high classes, conjured with a yet more potent spell than coin. While directing monstrous sums from the pockets of the low-born into the hands of illustrious quêteuses, he set upon the said quéteuse's head an iron heel, and crushed her to the dust in the name of religion. He told her that there existed but one superiority, the pious submission to the Church; that the Church considered equal all those who strictly obeyed their pastors; and that when a duke's son took to wife the daughter of a stone-mason's pious helpmate (who was, of course, of exceeding wealth!) the plebeian took rank immensely above the merely high-born lady, who was infinitely less generous than the other in her donations to the Church! And thus the fusion is accomplished, and is solid, and the once independent French bourgeoisie is extinct.
The priest is now virtually the ruler of French society; it is he who, in reality, directs the movements of what St. Simon, in his telling language, called the "Mécanique de la cour," and what is now the mécanique of the corps social.
One of the inevitable effects of this has been to displace what was, till now, termed the "middle class." This has naturally descended to a very much lower level. But there is still a middle class in France, which, if democracy progresses, may be called upon to play a not unimportant part.
It is beyond our limits of space to enter fully upon this branch of our subject, for it leads too necessarily into the domain of politics, but it would be well worth the trouble of the English observer to examine narrowly the sources whence the genuine "middle class" in France is already beginning to issue. The "lower middle class" is the last hope of France; there are, in one sense,
great elements among these people. In the petty tradesman (above all, the provincial one), the inferior schoolmaster, the humble village curé (but, at the head of everything, the hard-working shopkeeper), much is to be discovered that is absent from every other class. There is honesty, modesty, a desire for knowledge, a relative esteem for truth, a feeling of duty, and the respect for what is, in itself, respectable. But the very merits of this part of the nation (and they are indisputable) point to the establishment of pure democracy; it is here and nowhere else that exists the Americanizing' process that is so much talked of-this points to a régime based upon toil, and which, possibly, may end by creating a Commonwealth distinguished by its moral excellence, and in which the municipal and communal institutions must expand with every succeeding year; but idealism will be weakened, and generations come and go before the science of Government makes any advance. This species of democracy creates no political traditions. However, there lies the future of France.
For the moment, mere wealth and sham piety hold despotic power. The very Jews are Catholics! And this is one of the most curious features of the whole. When Baron H. (who has had a severely hard pull to creep up into the "world") sends £3,000 (75,000 francs) to Mdme. la Duchesse de B. for a quête, the object whereof is the conversion of Israelite children to ultramontanism, he contributes to the prosperity of establishments which his creed would oblige him to persecute; but he himself says to you: Que voulez vous? je suis clérical, moi !" and he and his are seen at the balls of Mdme. de B., and her relatives (who are by no means unmindful of the good things that may accrue to themselves from infidel tributaries) murmur soft words about tolerance, and "Providence knowing its own ways.
Besides, there is, as has been remarked, no question of religion in it all; it has been a question solely of authority which has been gained, and of a social fusion which has been made.
After religion, politics, and marriage, the three most serious fields of national
development, it is by no means indifferent to mark how a nation amuses itself. Well, as a rule, the French do not amuse themselves. Horace Walpole had already found this out when, in the latest series published of his Letters, he says the French are not a gay or lighthearted people, and that a "hearty, ringing laugh is never heard among them.'
Society" having been, as has been stated, welded together by pressure from without, the situation has become, officially, what it was Mr. Gladstone's iniquitous purpose (in his Manifesto of last May) to represent as the social condition of England. All the "classes, namely, are on one side, and three quarters of the country on the other, these three quarters being composed of a mere tangled mass of items" whose principle was that none should be distinguished above another. The consequence has been that in the so-called
world" there exists also a remarkable jumble, and, while the infinitesimal subdivisions into particular cliques separate society at every turn, when society comes together for its diversion, it does so in the form of a more or less anonymous and wholly uninteresting crowd. This has fostered the inclination for public amusements which were formerly not well affected by the then élite as the term was understood.
Charity is the usual pretext; for charity has many uses, and one is that it is supposed to prove to the masses the tender interest felt by the Upper Ten" for their misfortunes. (In which it entirely fails.)
Exhibitions of paintings, bazaars, subscription balls, dramatic representations, all are now the rendezvous of everybody," as are to a certain extent the coteries of the Princess de S―, and the fairs and kermesses where the chieftainesses of the various political sets join together to lure the pièces de cent sous from the pockets of the public. But the great feature in all these amusements" is the unmistakable ennui of all who partake in them. The fact of there being a special motive for all these shows, or of their being the mere result of imitation, drives pleasure away, flying; and after a half day spent at the Grand Prix, the answer is easy