No other nation can hope to vie with the French in the talent of communicating information with ease, vivacity and conciseness. They must always be the best narrators and the best interpreters, as far as presenting a clear statement of outlines goes.—Thus they are excellent in conversation, lectures, and journalizing.
After we know all the news of the day, it is still pleasant to read the bulletin of the Courrier des Etats Unis. We rarely agree with the view taken, but as a summary, it is so excellent well done, every topic put in its best place, with such a light and vigorous hand, that we have the same pleasure felt in fairy tales when some person under trial is helped by a kind fairy to sort the silks and feathers to their different places till the glittering confusion assumes the order—of a kaleidoscope.
Then what excellent correspondents they have from Paris! What a humorous and yet clear account we have before us now of the Thiers game. We have traced Guizot through every day with the utmost distinctness, and see him perfectly in the sick room. Now here is Thiers, playing with his chess-men, Jesuits, &c. A hundred clumsy English or American papers could not make the present crisis in Paris so clear as we see it in the glass of these nimble Frenchmen. Certainly it is with newspaper writing as with food; the English and Americans have as good appetites, but do not and never will know so well how to cook as the French. The Parisian correspondent of the Schnellpost, also, makes himself merry with the play of M. Thiers. Both speak with some feeling of the impressive utterance of La Martine in the late debates. The Jesuits stand their ground; but there is a wave advancing which will not fail to wash away what ought to go, nor are its roarings, however much in advance of the wave itself, to be misinterpreted by intelligent ears. The world is raising its sleepy lids, and soon no organization can exist which from its very nature interferes in any way with the good of the whole.
In Germany the terrors of the Authorities are more and more directed against the Communists. They are very anxious to know what Communism really is or means. They have almost forgotten, says the correspondent, the repression of the Jews, and like objects in this new terror. Meanwhile the Russian Emperor has issued an edict, commanding the Polish Jews, both men and women, to lay aside their National garb. He hopes thus to mingle them with the rest of the mass he moves; it will be seen whither such work can be done by beginning upon the outward man.
The Paris correspondent of the Courrier, who gives an account of amusements, has always many sprightly passages illustrative of the temper of the times. Horse-races were now the fashion, in which he rejoices as likely to give to France good horses of her own. A famous lottery is on the point of going off to give an organ to the Church of St. Eustache, on which it does not require a very high tone of morals to be severe. A public exhibition has been made of the splendid array of prizes, including every article of luxury from jewels and cachemire shawls down to artificial flowers. A nobleman, president of the Horticultural Society, had given an entertainment, in which the part of the different flowers was acted by beautiful women, that of the fruits and vegetables by distinguished men. Such an amusement would admit of much light grace and wit, which may still be found in France, if any where in the world. There is also an amusing story of the stir caused among the French political leaders by the visit of a nobleman of one of the great English families to Paris. “He had had several audiences, previous to his departure from London, of Queen Victoria, he received a dispatch daily from the English court. But in reply to all overtures made to induce him to open his mission, he preserved a gloomy silence. All attentions, all signs of willing confidence are lavished on him in vain. France is troubled. ‘Has England,’ thought she, ‘a secret from us, while we have none from her?’ She was on the point of inventing one, when lo! the secret mission turns out to be the preparation of a ball-dress with whose elegance, fresh from Parisian genius, her Britannic Majesty wished to dazzle and surprise her native realm.” ’T is pity Americans cannot learn the grace which decks these trifling jests with so much prettiness. Till we can import something of that, we have no right to French fashions or French wines. Such a nervous, driving nation as we are ought to learn to fly along gracefully on the light fantastic toe. Cannot we learn something of the English beside the knife and fork conventionalities, which with them express a certain solidity of fortune and resolve? Can we not get from the French something beside their worst novels?*
“Courrier des Etats Unis.” New-York Daily Tribune, 7 June 1845, p. 1.