« VorigeDoorgaan »
so much that I know what kind of a of man. If by chance the Goncourts head he had. As a general thing, style have a glimpse of such a thought 'tis and language are well handled in gone like a meteor. Renan said that France. French writers seem like the de Goncourt brothers could never Florentine artists of the fifteenth cen- rise to the contemplation of a superior tury, unequal in genius, but equal in ideal; they saw everything with a mitaste. All breathe an air of the City croscope, and by searching found out of the Uluses, and this is their glory. many defects hidden from the serene Then the French are masters of the and natural light of the understandart of constructing a book. Neither ing; these souls never penetrated the the Germans, the Saxons nor our breth- reign of the ideal. Be this as it may, ren of Italy know how to put a book an originality almost extravagant, a together like our neighbors beyond the gallant style, a rich ornateness of lanPyrenees. De Goncourt wrote books guage characterized these two brothadorned by a style as finished as that ers, truly exceptional
in the of other Frenchmen; but notwithstand- genius of France. ing the national evenness of fine work, Translated for THE LIVING AGE by Minna C. he committed many extravagances. Smith. He has a great and extraordinary preference for a Japanese sort of art; he is none the less subject to a ritual like that of the ancient hieratic art; he is dazzling on account of the brilliancy of
From Macmillan's Magazine. his lacquer, but like Oriental art pro
FRENCH AND ENGLISH. duces better things inanimate than Once upon a time three Frenchmen, animate, precious as gems but without augurs all and members of the Acadreal inspiration, or true and genuine emy, sat them down to condemn the life. The Japanese style of art speaks island, whose name is vaguely familto the sense and pleases the eye, there- iar and whose inhabitants chey fore only those authors should toy imagine aboriginal savages. "The Enwith it who wish to express sensations glish,” declared the first, in that gaily rather than ideas.
confident tone which is assured by igWhat a love those Goncourt twins norance, “the English are all drunkhad for details!—the one who died ten ards." “Yes," murmured the second, years ago as well as the one who has complacently nodding his head like a just died. They represent in letters Chinese toy, "the country of fog.” The the Siamese twins. Neither one nor third flashed a smile of approval upon the other painted with broad sweep- his colleagues, and for his share of the ing strokes, both painted daintily, as controversy demanded the assent of an in the making of miniatures or water Englishman. “Yes, we are all drunkcolors. Within reach in my study I ards," agreed the Englishman, with a have the History of Antoinette, and stout gravity, unwilling to shake their the volume on French society during child-like credulity; and instantly the the Revolutionary period. Nobody can question was brushed aside, as though surpass in minutiæ and detail those it had received a final, irrevocable two writers, but they did not see the answer. infinite heaven, much less the fixed Such is the temper wherein we are stars which are called eternal ideas. considered by our next-door neighbors, It seems impossible that a writer and we shall have a right to resent should treat of affairs like the reign the heresy when our own judgment of of terror yet make one laugh on every France is clarified. The untravelled page. It seems impossible to glance Englishman appears to believe that at a period like that of the Revolution Paris is inhabited by a mob of ruffians, and not even see those lofty thoughts who cultivate loose morals upon a diet which, true or not, glowed for the mind of snails; at any rate he persists in re
garding his traditional enemy with an seeds of poison. Indeed, the disease unreasoning contempt which the slight- grew as the infection declined, and it est knowledge of the truth would dis- was already dangerous when Napoleon pel. Insular prejudice on the
the Third held court at the Tuileries, hand, continental obstinacy on the and the masterpieces of Offenbach other, are ceaseless hindrances to an were whistled upon the Boulevards. amicable approach, and, remembering Ridicule was then the rampant sympour own misjudgment, we contemplate tom, and the keenest sufferers were the the fallacies of France in a spirit authors of vaudeville and comic opera. rather of curiosity than of indigna- They, in their hallucination, invented tion. In truth the two countries are a monster such as never was seen, and separated by something else than the dubbed him an Englishman. He was winds and the waves of the Channel. portentous indeed, this sorry child of The Straits of Dover are the very be- darkness and fog. No sunshine spargetters of mystery, and though they kled on his dusky youth, and stern vulmay be traversed in a brief two hours garity wrapped round bis middle age the voyage from either shore seems as with a mist. Meanwhile, as if to enough to obscure the keenest vision atone for the sourness of his temper, and to tangle the freest intelligence in his fancy was loudly expressed in the meshes of superstition. And if he whiskers, red waistcoats, box-coats, who sets out upon the enterprise com- and buttons big as saucers. He was monly returns with a trunk full of an impossible mixture of Pecksniff falsehoods what shall be his fate who and little Mr. Bouncer. Not the most warms his hatreds at his own fireside? grimly bag-ridden country in the His lack of adventure shall prove a world could, have produced him; yet constant stumbling-block to peaceful he appeared like as life to a generaamenity; he shall sit and mumble in tion of sight-seers and since less than impenetrable ignorance; in age he a year ago he walked the stage disshall repeat the tales wherewith the guised in the trappings of a mediæval old wives beguiled his childhood. herald, it is plain that he still serves And since it is upon our side that the to void the spleen of the belated greater number embarks, it is upon Parisian. theirs that the misunderstanding is But the last victims of Anglophobia the more wilful and desperate.
are at once more dangerous and less Paris, then, is suffering most acutely amicable. It is the journalists of from Anglophobia, and one knows not Paris that are now most bitterly into what indiscretion the madness will fected with the hatred of England. hurry her. The disease, old as his- In their loudly expressed loathing of tory itself, has changed with the cen- the unknown country across the Chanturies, and so long as it sprang from nel they forget their legitimate rean acknowledged enmity it was neither venge; and they would pretend to fold virulent nor incurable. The hatred the German to their breast, as they which incites two combatants of tried long since welcomed his beer, if by the courage yields easily to honorable pretence they could put another insult treatment; and even when Joan of Arc upon the loathed island. For them the died a martyr's death at Rouen, when Englishman is a veritable bogey, a Calais was scored on Mary's heart, composite monster with the maw of when Marlborough routed the forces the ostrich, the beak of a bawk, the of the Great King, the malady was claws of a tiger, the manner of a less violent than at this present day, clergyman, and the cunning of an ape. when you must seek its causes in This terrific creature, says the French prejudice and catchwords. For how journalist, roams up and down the much folly has Albion's imagined per- world, impelled only by the lust of fidy been responsible? And it is the plunder and of blood; but he is happhrase, not the reality, that sows the piest when he is robbing the honest
Frenchman of his due or cajoling the vast bag of Frenchmen would be its mild-mannered Belgian (on the Congo) reward. How our countrymen fared into the forfeiture of his ivory. Above in their perilous adventure has never all, this shameless hybrid is alert; if been revealed; a greater enormity the sun never sets on his empire his soon drove this masterpiece of brueye never closes in sleep; and tality from affrighted memory from beneath his drooping lid he espies France, and even the Figaro, whose some fresh occasion for ruin and out- ingenuity invented the novel sport, rage. To his impious ingenuity no was too indolent to follow the career limit is set. He is capable of organiz- of its own puppets. ing the manufacture of dynamite, and To insist that so fantastic a charge of betraying his own plot, that France was deliberately brought against Enmay tremble for the safety of her gland seems like explaining a joke. czar. Not long since a halfpenny Yet to be unversed in this extravaprint, in search of a headline, gance of Anglophobia is to be wofully nounced the murder of the sultan, and incredulous, and it is necessary at this (declared the Parisian journals) the point to declare that no fancy herein falsehood was plainly invented by En- set forth is without its warrant. Now, gland, that monster personified, with the press, having solemnly urged the deliberate intent to shake the diplomatic intervention, having even peace of Europe. Thus the Briton protested with circumstance that the walks abroad, hungry in ill-doing, still same plan of murder had been folcutting throats and poisoning wells lowed in Tonkin and Dahomey, was with a
ferocious energy unrivalled not slow in discovering another piece since the heroic days of giants and of wickedness which put the wanton demi-gods.
sportsmen into obscurity. The reModern history, we are told, is but sources of France were inadequate to a catalogue of England's crimes, and transport her impediments from Marit is pleasant to recall some more re- seilles to Madagascar, and the failure cent achievements which have cast a was obviously due to the devilish conlustre upon our national fame. The trivance of Perfidious Albion. Nor most brilliant opportunity arrived was Albion on this occasion disintersomething more than a year ago, when ested in her perfidy; by some fiendish France was persuaded to undertake a machination she had arranged the campaign in Madagascar. The sports- shortcoming of France that she might men of England, tired of the Andes twist it to profitable account. Where, and big game, saw a chance not only indeed, could France turn in her exof gratifying their secular enmity, but tremity if not to that England which of finding an excellent quarry for their existed only for her discomfiture and bullets. Instantly a club was formed, ruin? Thus the Brinkburn was charand the members, chartering a yacht, tered and fitted out; her English capset sail for Madagascar. They spared tain (suspect from his blood) underneither malice nor expense; their rifles took to carry the French stores to were of the newest pattern; in the Madagascar; and he had got no further pocket of each lurked a revolver, and than Malta when his ship broke down, there was none who did not carry a and a miserable delay was enforced dagger at his hip that his victim might upon France's legitimate ambition. leave the world happy in a coup de That the accident deliberately grâce. The danger of the road added brought about by a malicious Briton a zest to the enterprise, and though no self-respecting journalist doubted any other than a stout-hearted, un- for a moment. And in truth not .. scrupulous Briton might quail before link was lacking in the chain of inthe risk of taking pot-shots at an army dictment. All the world knows on the march, this gang of ruffians that France had no sufficient transport found comfort in the thought that a of her own, and all the world knows
that she was thus deprived of re- there was a panic upon the Bourse, sources by the prudent villainy of and economists looked about them for England. When once this fact is rec- some reasonable explanation of it. ognized there is no more need of argu- But the journalist knew better than to ment; it follows, as night the day, that cast his eye further than our own Forthe Brinkburn stoked her engines with eign Office. France's financial depresthe express design of breaking down, sion was plainly the work of Lord and of proving yet again that the Salisbury, and was moreover a delibancient feud burned more fiercely than erate act of political revenge. The her own poor flickering furnace. Conservative party, in fact, affronted
But earth-hunger is the worst disease at the cordial alliance between France wherewith England is afflicted. The and Russia, was determined upon a smell of the soil is as blood to her nos- reprisal. It felt for a moment that trils, and no dry land exists that she England's supremacy was threatened does not covet. She has ousted in the Far East, but it also knew that France from the four quarters of the with the sovereignty of the
it globe, yet she is not content, and a could direct the credit of the world. brief year ago she cast an envious eye Wherefore, said Lord Salisbury, a upon the Minquiers. Now, the Min- smile of irony upon his lips, France quiers, says the Parisian journalist, shall suffer. The Bank of England are the brightest jewels in France's shall forbid the French banks to recrown, and it is no wonder that the new their acceptances, and thus ruin grave serenity of an autumn day was shall be made certain. No sooner had disturbed by the awful tidings that the the prime minister uttered these words Union Jack was floating over the larg, than the collapse came; and it was est island of the group. This island only the never-failing cleverness of (again it is the Parisian journalist who France that made the blow recoil upon speaks) is called Ecréhous, and it is (or Albion's intriguing head. was) inhabited by one fisherman, who To cap these examples of Angloplocombined in his proper person the bia would not be difficult; no day functions of king, parliament, and peo- passes which does not furnish a fresh ple. No sooner was the news spread specimen of them. But, remembering abroad than France was on the alert. with security that, should France and Deputies and senators turned to their England ever be embroiled, it is the geography-books as one man. To dis- country, and not the newspaper, that cover that the Minquiers lay only five will prove the ultimate arbiter, we miles from the French coast was the may contemplate with indifference the work of a moment, and forthwith the aggression of the latter. After all the dullard might conclude that Albion journalist, proud in the daily iteration was meditating a hostile descent. A of his name, vastly exaggerates the boat set sail immediately for Ecréhous, value of the printed word; he is eager and brought back the disappointing to believe that he is swaying empires word
that no flag had braved the when he is achieving no more than the breeze above its barren, inhospitable momentary embarrassment of an inrocks. But the conscience of the Paris dustrious minister. So wantonly is he press was not thus easily put to sleep, puffed up with a sense of his imporand still in its moments of nightmare, tance that he confuses his professional the Union Jack waves before her, as interest with his country's honor, and horrible an apparition as was the having hit upon a chance policy, with Phantom Ship to the strayed mariner. the vague gesture of one playing blind
Nor is it only upon the shore of the hookey, he would insist in the borestranging sea that England would rowed majesty of type that Europe is plant a sacrilegious foot; she would in danger if his advice be not followed. also wreck (if she could) the financial But as the Figaro, that hoary-headed security of France. Some time since offender, once pointed out, France is
not exclusively peopled by journalists, own imprudence. At best, hers is the and one likes to reflect that the rau- policy of the dog in the manger; and cous voice of England's enemies carries yet it is this unreasoned fury which no further than the Boulevard. To she permits to color and to enhance suggest a remedy, short of hanging a her hatred of England. But again journalist, is impossible, but there is one takes comfort in the thought that consolation in the fact that the gentle- the loudest voice is not always the men whose business it is to quarrel furthest heard, and that though the with the island they could not find journalist's signature may seem brave upon the map, influence the provinces in Pousset's Tavern, it is but the as little as the government. They shadow of a name in distant Marspeak chiefly for themselves and their seilles. clique, yet it is none the less interest- To correct this Anglophobia, which ing to divine their motives.
is but a fashion adopted by the unletPersonal animosity counts for much, tered, would be unprofitable if it were and it is a humiliating truth that not hopeless. A little knowledge might France's expressed opinion of England convince even the chronicler of the was guided for several years by Boulevard that England is not a proper writer whose malice is concealed as bogey wherewith the burgesses of little as his ignorance This man, the France should frighten their children. ineffable Jacques St. Cère, saw an ele- But knowledge is ever beyond the ment of popularity in Anglophobia, reach of the journalists for whom and with the permission of the Figaro Lord Gladstone is a personage and Sir cast a daily insult upon the country John Morlay a distinguished philosowhose history and politics are far be- pher; and so long as England pushes yond his ken. Happily a personal in- further into Africa, or dares to confer discretion has now compelled him to prosperity upon the khedive's dominsilence; but he has left his influence ion, so long will the newspapers of behind, and there are many, too indo- Paris declare that it is the Englishlent to discover the truth, who echo man's habit to steal all the shrimps his ignorance and swell the volume of at dinner or to sling a hammock across his malice. In the eyes of these gentry a railway carriage. The argument is England has but one motive for exist- not clear, but it is sufficient, and its ence, the annoyance of France; and recklessness is the more remarkable, though she is declared to employ all since if you leave the desert region of means for the gratification of her am- party politics, you will find in France bition, it is in Egypt and her colonies a sincere, and even too ardent an apthat she strikes the heaviest blow. preciation of England. Indeed, in the Colonial jealousy, in brief, is the dom- self-same city which cherishes our bitinant motive of Anglophobia, and when terest foes you may note all the sympPrince Henry of Orleans deco- toms of an active Anglomania. Berated with the Legion of Honor, he tween France and England there has received the red ribbon less because always been an artistic exchange honhe had traversed a distant and ill- orable to both countries. To estimate known country than because his ex- the debt on either side is a delicate perience of the East had convinced task, but, without an onerous precision, him that English enterprise was we may say that English literature check to the development of French and French painting have lent the commerce. The very
more lavishly. When Voltaire deEgypt is sufficient to arouse the ire of clared a loyal admiration of Congreve, the journalist, and though Paris does Swift, and Pope, neither the poetry nor not deign to tell us what she would the prose of England seemed accomplish if she drove her enemy temptible in the eyes of France. But from the Nile, it is plain she resents never were we so generously applauded our success far more bitterly than her as to-day. Nor is it our literature