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A RESIDENCE for a week in Paris gave me
ample time for the study of the character
and position of the French nation. If a
man can't make up his mind on any subject,
or all subjects, in the course of seven days,
he had better close his eyes at once, cease to
have any opinions, and retire to the monastery
of La Trappe. At all events, don't let
him attempt to compete with the really
enlightened observers and travellers of the
present day; gentlemenand ladies, toowho
settle the past and present and future of
great states by means of a three months'
tour, and in Glances at Europe, Glimpses of
Asia, Peeps at Africa, and Squints at
America, dispose of all the differences of manner,
policy, religion, and government which have
agitated the four quarters of the globe. Why
not employ one of those rapid observers to
arrange the transportation question by A
Day at Portland, or the currency question by
A Half-hour at the Bank?

I myself, as you may gather from the
commencing paragraph, am a slow coach. I
took a whole week to master the intricacies
of French politics and the state of public
feeling from Brest to Marseilles: others
I know would have rattled you off all the
involutions of crime and character, from
Clovis to Louis Napoléon, almost extempore;
for is not the Rue de Rivoli a kind
of telescope three miles in length, through
which you can get views of all parts of
Europe and all portions of history, leaving
you nothing to do but dot down your
observations of men and things, as Airy or Smyth
secures the jottings of Neptune or Orion? But
all these advantages I neglected. History I
ignored; politics I did not meddle with
(being informed by one of the waiters at the
hotel that several friends of his were on their
way to Cayenne for a little discussion on the
liberty of the subject); and, as I discarded all
these external aids and took my stand
merely as a disinterested recorder of what
came visibly before my eyes, I was enabled
to come to a full understanding of the whole
complex machinery by which France is
regulated, sustained, and glorified.

The entire secret of the power and dignity
of that great and ancient nation, consists in its
possession of an infinite number of great and
distinguished men. The crowds of those
ornaments of the country who encounter you
in the street are a most exhilarating sight to
the desponding persons who have begun to
entertain fears for the degeneracy of the
human race. How can a race be degenerate
which, in past centuries, struggled and toiled
to produce, perhaps, a solitary specimen of
its perfection in a Du Guesclin or a Bayard,
a De l'Hôpital or a Montesquieu, and at the
present moment sends forth into every alley
and boulevard, and shop and coffee-room,
thousands and tens of thousands of knights
and chevaliers of the Legion of Honour?
"Nor," says an old author, " doth a region,
or state, or kingdom, derive its strength from
its rich soil or benignant airneither from
its potent trade or much affluence of the common,
but solely from the number, power, and
eminence of its wise and honourable men."
Think of that, ye wretched mobs of
Manchester and dusky workers of Birmingham!
Wealth, energy, thews, sinews, clear eyes,
gallant hearts you have, but where are your
honourable ornamented, cordoned, medalled,
wise and honourable men? You have but
much affluence of the common, and have no
chance of coloured bits of tape at your
button-holes, to be the ostensible sign and
sure guarantee of your superiority in skill
and wisdom, rank and power. Why, the
"silver" medals worn on the pre-eminent
bosoms which I met with, puffed out with
conscious worth, in the course of an hour's stroll
in the Tuileries' gardens, would make a
pewter dome the size of St. Paul's; and I
am credibly informed by a distinguished
member of the Statistical Society that the
ribbons, if carefully tacked together and
stretched out in a line, would reach from the
Column in the Place Vendôme to the statue
of Washington of that Ilk, going round and
round the body of the republican impostor
till not a portion of him was visible, and
strangling him with the involutions of the
tri-color, like Laocoön in the writhings of
the snake. Every third man you meet has
a little red excrescence on the breast of his
coat (the coat shabby enough, and evidently
turned half-a-dozen times; the shirt, when
present, rather ferruginous in aspect, as if it