صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

pretty girl; it became her; and the town-judge, Stölzel, looked at her oftener than was agreeable to his wife. The result was that the next day, under domestic compulsion, he issued an order to the piper to prevent his daughter from wearing the cap again. The piper appealed to the district magistrate, who, after inspecting the head-dress, and finding it composed of ordinary and unforbidden materials, formally authorised the damsel to wear it, and gave the judge due notice of the fact. The judge held to his prohibition, and the town was divided into two parties, who exhibited as much eagerness and animosity as the greens and blues of the amphitheatre, or the smallendians and bigendians of Lilliput. The old and ugly women, with their husbands, supported the judge; the young and pretty, with the bachelors, were mostly on the side of the magistrate. The married interest was strongest in the town council, and one of their myrmidons was commissioned to repair to the church on February 19, 1786, and before the whole congregation remove the cap from the fair head of the wearer.

He performed this invidious duty without hesitation or compunction, and bore off the cap to the council, who condemned it as lawful prize; whereupon the leaders of the opposite party retorted by purchasing a finer and more becoming cap, in which the piper's daughter appeared the following Sunday, to the confusion of her enemies and amidst the triumphant congratulations of her friends. This coup-de-main carried the day. The council, taken by surprise, wanted courage or presence of mind enough for a second confiscation ; and before the lapse of another week, the central authorities interfered. The council was eventually ordered to make restitution and pay the costs.

The exact number of dishes to be served at the table of each class of the community according to their rank

was carefully prescribed ; and a licence was required for any departure from the ordinance. A long process is reported, in which a list of the dishes and the guests, with a minute description of their quality, was submitted to the Grand Duke in council, who, after deliberating with a gravity resembling that of the Roman Senate in the famous turbot case temp. Domitian, acquitted the accused. Musical instruments were the subject of equally stringent regulations; trumpets and trombones being especially confined to grand occasions and forbidden to persons of low degree. The trumpeters and kettle-drummers formed a close and highly privileged corporation. One Mather Richter, at Altenberg, was fined 200 dollars for allowing trumpets to be blown at his daughter's wedding; and so late as 1732 the trumpeters and trombone-players of. Weissenfels lodged a complaint against the bailiff of Freiburg for daring to make the state-piper attend on him with trumpets, and trombones. The defence was, that persons of distinction were present: and the cause came at last before the Law Faculty of Leipzig, who, on due examination of the circumstances and the precedents, let off the offender on payment of costs.

Amongst the numerous instances of popular prejudice which abound in this collection, the municipal ordinances against shepherds are the most unaccountable. Not only were they forbidden to settle in towns or to become members of guilds ; but to intermarry with the pastoral class carried into a family a taint like that supposed to be communicated by the smallest intermixture of black blood in the United States. With these curious and whimsical incidents of German morals and manners in the last century, we take leave of Dr. Weber.

123

ENGLAND AND FRANCE: THEIR NATIONAL QUALITIES, MANNERS, MORALS, AND SOCIETY.

Notes on England. By H. TAINE, D.C.L. Oxon, etc. Trans

lated, with an Introductory Chapter, by W. F. RAE. Second Edition. London: 1872.

Two familiar lines of Burns' are constantly repeated under an impression that the soundness of the thought or sentiment that dictated them is unimpeachable :

• Oh, wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us.'

The prevalent notion is that others must necessarily see us as we are — through a clear, transparent medium, neither transfigured by vanity and flattery, nor distorted by prejudice and dislike. It is altogether a mistaken notion. People are quite as open to error in judging others as in judging themselves; and the point of view they take up for the purpose is far more frequently determined by misleading influences than by the unsophisticated desire of truth. The best intentions, the most earnest struggle for impartiality, are no guarantee for strict justness of appreciation : because we cannot shake off our idiosyncracy; we cannot, formed as we are, see things or persons with the calm, pure eye of reason. Where, in this world of intrigue, ambition, passion, and caprice, is the admired and envied wit, beauty, orator, or statesman to find the ithers' who are to serve as the infallible helps to self-knowledge? Is Mr. Gladstone to seek them at the Carlton, or Mr. Disraeli at Brooks's?'

It is the same with communities as with individuals, or it may be worse; for in nation judging nation, there is the national character to affect the judgment, and the general as well as the particular bias to be calculated on. Each has a different and ever-varying criterion of merit, consideration, and morality. “In Spain people ask, Is he a grandee of the first class? In Germany, Can he enter into the Chapters? In France, Does he stand well at court? In England, Who is he?'1 This was written towards the middle of the eighteenth century; but although the revolutionary changes which each country except England has undergone, have extended to social habits and modes of thinking as well as to institutions, their respective standards of superiority remain essentially unlike.

Whilst freely admitting, therefore, that the enlightened foreigner' may afford useful hints or warnings, we demur to his jurisdiction when he assumes to constitute a supreme court without appeal; and the enlightened Frenchman, from Voltaire downwards, is peculiarly open to distrust. His fineness and quickness of perception, his rapidity and fertility of association, his range of sentiment and thought, his boldness and vivacity, nay, his very paradoxes and pseudophilosophy, make him a most entertaining writer of travels; but he is spoiled as a teacher, and sadly damaged as an authority, by his vanity, his marvellous self-confidence, his false logic, and his ingrained ineradicable conviction that there is nothing firstrate, nothing truly great or admirable, nothing really worth living for, out of France.

A Frenchman and an Englishman were fishing with indifferent success in one of Lord Lytton's ponds at Knebworth, when the Frenchman, who had caught nothing, thus addressed his companion : 'Il me semble, Monsieur, que les étangs anglais ne sont pas si poissonneux que les fleuves français. As the conversation proceeded, it appeared that the only English pond he had ever fished was the one before him, and the only French river, the Seine.

1 'En Espagne on demande, Est-ce un grand de la première classe ? En Allemagne, Peut-il entrer dans les chapitres ? En France, Est-il bien à la cour? En Angleterre, Quel homme est-il ?-(Helvetius.)

Sir Samuel Romilly and a French general were discussing a point of equity law. Sir Samuel

gave

his opinion in opposition to that of General S- • Pardonnez-moi, mon cher Romilly, vous vous trompez tout-à-fait : je le sais, car j'ai lu Blackstone ce matin même.'

Nor let any one fancy that the national character of the French is materially altered by the crushing defeats they have sustained, or the unparalleled humiliations they have undergone at the hands of conquerors, who, in weighing the ransom, ruthlessly threw the sword into the scale. M. Thiers lost no time in preparing to play Camillus to Prince Bismarck's Brennus ;' and no speaker in the debate on the army made a more telling hit than the Bishop of Orleans, when he declared that Germany was not a great nation, but simply a great barrack. The same (under existing circumstances) pardonable petulance and irritability will occasionally break out when England and the English are discussed ; for the French have not forgiven, nor are soon likely to forgive, our neutrality during their worst hour of trial. To be sure,' observed a distinguished Frenchman to an accomplished and ready-witted Englishwoman of rank, · it was foolish in us to hope better things from a nation of shopkeepers. “These popular sayings '—was the

1 Having thus mentioned M. Thiers, I will venture an opinion that, making full allowance for his warlike and protectionist tendencies • foreign nations and the next ages' (to whom Bacon bequeathed his own name and memory) will regard him as the ablest administrator and most consummate statesman that France could boast in her severest hour of trial, and the best qualified to restore her fallen fortunes, had she trusted him.

« السابقةمتابعة »