France - Vol. 2

France - Vol. 2

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France - Vol. 2

France - Vol. 2

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Excerpt

A writer who undertakes the study of the institutions and tendencies of a nation not his own, and especially an Englishman who thus turns his attention to France, has before him two great masterpieces, the methods of which it behoves him to observe. The one is the journal of an English traveller in France; the other is the treatise of a French philosopher on an English- speaking community. Though a century has passed since Arthur Young published the record of his rides through France on the eve of the Revolution, it retains all its freshness; and if he is now only read with curiosity by his countrymen, the French regard him as a classic authority on the outward aspect of their land in the last days of the old regime. Toequeville's work on the new Democracy of America, which sixty years ago attracted the notice of thinkers of all nations, has little in common with that of the Suffolk squire who had no pretension to abstract science. Arthur Young notes incidentally day by day his impressions on the condition of the people and the political movement imminent among them in a minute inquiry into the state of French agriculture, while Toequeville sets himself the deliberate task of remarking the phenomena arising out . . .

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