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them all. Paraguay is in a more flourishing (pingüe) state now, than any of the countries around it; and while here all is order, subordination, and tranquillity, the moment you pass its boundary, the sound of the cannon, and the din of civil discord salute your ears. As may naturally be anticipated, these internal broils paralyse industry, and chase prosperity from the land. Now, whence arises all this? Why, from the fact that there is not a man in South America but myself, who understands the character of the people, or is able to govern them. The outcry is for free institutions; but personal aggrandizement and public spoliation are the objects alone sought. The natives of Buenos Ayres are the most fickle, vain, volatile, and profligate of the whole of Spain's late dominions in this hemisphere; and therefore I am resolved to have nothing to do with the Portenos. My wish is to promote an intercourse with England direct; so that whatever feuds may distract the other states, and whatever impediments they may choose to throw in the way of commerce and navigation, those states shall themselves be the sole sufferers. The ships of Great Britain, triumphantly sweeping the Atlantic, will penetrate to Paraguay; and, in union with our flotillas, will bid defiance to all interruption of commerce, from the mouth of the Plate to the lake Xarayes. Your Government will have its minister here, and I shall have mine at the Court of St. James's. Your countrymen shall traffic in manufactures and munitions of war, and shall receive in exchange the noble products of this country.'
“ At this point of his oration the Consul rose with great emotion, but evident delight, from his chair, and calling to the sentinel at the door, desired him to order in the serjeant of the guard. On appearance of this person the Doctor gave him a significant and peremptory look, and told him emphatically to bring 'that.' The serjeant withdrew, and in less than three minutes returned with four grenadiers at his back, bearing, to my astonishment, among them, a large hide package of tobacco of two hundred weight, a bale of Paraguay tea of similar dimensions and exterior, a demijohn of Paraguay spirits, a large loaf of sugar, and several bundles of cigars, tied and ornamented with variegated fillets. Last of all, came an old negress with some beautiful specimens of embroidered cloth made from Paraguay cotton, and used there by the luxurious as hand-towels and shaving-cloths.
“ I thought this very kind and considerate; for though I could not but wonder at the somewhat barbarian ostentation in the mode of making the present, yet I never doubted that the accumulated native productions, now arranged in order before me, were intended as a parting manifestation of the Consul's regard. Judge, then, of my surprise (you will see it cannot bear the name of disappointment), when, after ordering his soldiers and the negress out of the room with a vayanse' (begone), he broke forth in the following strain :
“• Senor Don Juan, these are but a few specimens of the rich productions of this soil, and of the industry and ingenuity of its inhabitants. I have taken some pains to furnish you with the best samples which the country affords of the different articles in their respective kinds; and for this reason:
VOL. VII.- No XIV.
you are now going to England; you know what a country this is, and what a man I am. You know to what an unlimited extent these productions can be reared in this Paradise, I may call it, of the world. Now, without entering upon the discussion, as to whether this continent is ripe for popular institutions, (you know, I think, it is not,) it cannot be denied that, in an old and civilized country like Britain, where these institutions have gradually and practically (not theoretically) superseded forms of government originally feudal, till they have forced themselves upon legislative notice, in a ratio proportioned to the growing education of the majority, they are those best adapted to secure the greatness and stability of a nation. And that England is a great nation, and that its people are knit together as one man, upon all questions of momentous national concern, is undeniable.
"Now, I desire that as soon as you get to London, you will present yourself to the House of Commons ; take with you these samples of the productions of Paraguay; request an audience at the bar; and inform the assembly that you are deputed by Don Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, Consul of the republic of Paraguay, to lay before it these specimens of the rich productions of that country. Tell them I have authorized you to say that I invite England to a political and commercial intercourse with me; and that I am ready and anxious to receive in my capital, and with all the deference due to diplomatic intercourse between civilized states, a minister from the Court of St. James's; I also will appoint to that Court an envoy of my own.
“. Such a treaty of commerce and political alliance may then be framed, as shall comport at once with the dignity and interests of the great empire of England, and with those of the rising state which I now rule. Paraguay will be the first republic of South America, as Great Britain is already the first of European nations. The alliance seems, therefore, natural; and how beneficial for the European state, you, Senor Don Juan, can fully elucidate and explain.'
“ Such were the terms, and almost the words, in which Francia delivered himself of his views and aspirations in reference to an alliance with Great Britain. I stood, as you may imagine, aghast, at the idea of being appointed a minister plenipotentiary, not to the Court of St. James's, but to the House of Commons. I was charged especially not to take a private interview with the head of the executive: for,' said Francia, “I know well how apt great men in England are, unless under the fear of responsibility to the House of Commons, to treat questions even so important as this, with levity or disregard.
“. Present yourself,' continued he, at the bar of the house, and there deliver my message, as of old the ambassadors of independent states delivered theirs to the senate of Rome. According to the reception which they shall give to you, one of their countrymen, and above the suspicion, therefore, of being a witness in my favour, shall be the reception (acogimiento) which I will extend to their ambassador to this republic.'
“Never in my life was I more puzzled how to act, or what to say. To refuse the Quixotic mission, and thus incur at once the Consul's displeasure, and draw down upon my own devoted head the ruinous consequences of it, was an alternative too horrible to be thought of. The only other was acquiescence; and to this I came, in spite of the strong sense of the ludicrous which pressed itself upon me, as I drew a picture of myself forcing my way to the bar of the House of Commons; overpowering, with half-a-dozen porters, the Usher of the Black Rod; and delivering, in spite of remonstrance and resistance, at once my hide-bound bales of Paraguay merchandise, and the oration, verbatim, of the First Consul. But Assumpcion was a great distance from St. Stephen's. I therefore bowed assent to Dr. Francia's proposition, and trusted to the chapter of accidents for providing me, when the time should come, with a suitable apology for having been unable to get into the predicament which he had so graciously prepared for me.
“Having taken leave, the serjeant and grenadiers, heavily laden, followed me home; where I not a little astonished the new-comer, my brother, with the account of the diplomatic interview to which I had been called. I bade defiance to his scepticism on the subject, by making the soldiers unload at his feet the ponderous physical evidence, by which I sustained the truth of my tale.
“ At a subsequent interview, Francia made out a long list of commissions for me to execute. I was to bring him gold lace, a cocked hat, a dresssword, a pair of double-barreled pistols, sashes, sabres, soldiers' caps, musical and mathematical instruments, with a very protracted detail of et cæteras. About the procuring of these, however, I had by no means so many misgivings, as in regard to my power of persuading Mr. Speaker and the House of Commons to accede to the political and commercial league, of which the Consul was so full."-Vol. ii. p. 278–287.
We have called Francia the Robespierre of Paraguay; perhaps in this we wrong the French tyrant; his danger was more continual and his cruelty more justifiable. Francia did not live in the dangerous proximity of a Danton or a St. Juste, and the poor kind-hearted Paraguayans bore no resemblance to the sanguinary sectionnaires of Paris. Yet the South American Dictator went to his grave in peace :-the Frenchman left his head upon a scaffold. With the fall of Robespierre ceased the hideous reign of terror: what futurity has in store for Paraguay we will not attempt to prophesy; perhaps the fate that has befallen Texas and threatens Mexico. We take leave of our authors with cordial pleasure, heightened by their promise of a further series of “ Letters.” Should the forthcoming volumes equal these which we have reviewed, the whole series will form one of the most agreeable records of travel which it has been our good fortune to meet with.
Railroads in France.
J. BURAT, 1838.
LIER, Conseiller d'Etat. 8vo. 1838. Paris. Mémoires publiés : 1. Sur le Chemin de Belgique, par MM.
les Délégués de St. Quentin. 2. Par la Compagnie Soumissionaire du Chemin de Paris à Rouen, par la vallée de la Seine. 3. Par la Compagnie Soumissionaire du chemin de Paris à Rouen, par les plateaux. April, May, and
June, 1838. 4to. Paris*. Second Report of the Commissioners appointed to consider and
recommend a general system of Railways for Ireland.
(July.) 1838. The first years which followed the Revolution of July 1830 were not years of prosperity to France: the internal disturbances which called out the national guard and the army to do battle with insurgents in the streets of Paris, the uncertainty of the maintenance of peace in Europe, the fluctuations of public credit, and the barbarous prejudices maintained by her custom-house laws, were the causes which checked the spring of her commerce and her manufactures. Within the last three years political disturbances have ceased; the tariff of the French douanes has been improved in some respects; and a fever of speculation has seized the country, which sweeps everything before it in the pursuit of wealth by the increase of labour.
This change has already produced results not undeserving of attention: the public revenue has risen 122,000,000 francs, or nearly £5,000,000 sterling, since 1830. The increase of commerce-amounting to 36 per cent. in the last ten years— in France, has been surprisingly great, although it is still far from approaching the commerce of Great Britain ; and, lastly, the spirit of joint-stock companies, heretofore almost unknown to the French, has spread with such uncommon rapidity, that, without reckoning the number of companies incorporated by the Conseil d'état, the capital of the joint-stock companies, called by the French sociétés en commandite*, amounts (if the money engaged in them was all paid up by the shareholders) to more than a milliard of francs, or £40,000,000 sterling.
* The reader may be referred, for further information on these subjects, to M. Léon Faucher's essay “ De la Souscription directe dans les Entreprises de Travaux Publics," published in the Revue des Deux Mondes for June 1838; to the Reports addressed to the French Government by MM. Vallée, Défontaine and Ker. mainget, on the proposed lines of railroad; and to the Reports addressed to the French Chamber, on the same subject, by MM. Dufaure, Vivien, Golbéry, Arago, &c., all made in the present year.
But the principal efforts of the government, of the local authorities, and of private companies, have been directed to the improvement of the means of transport. Before 1830, France was far behind most of the countries of Europe in respect to roads and canals. The Royal Roads, as they are termed, which are the great arteries of communication, were barely passable, and in many places absolutely deficient; the departmental roads, which are the principal branches from them, improved very slowly for want of money; and the cross-roads (chemins vicinaux) were broken up by the slightest rain to such depths of mud, that the farmers could not bring their produce to their market-town without a supernumerary team of horses. The manufacturing districts, unlike the country about Manchester and Birmingham, were not intersected by numerous canals to convey their goods from the very doors of the factories; and the French manufacturers attributed the disadvantageous circumstances under which they were compelled to sustain the competition of foreign producers, to the dearness and the difficulty of the means of transport which they could command.
In France the government undertakes to execute what is done elsewhere by private individuals or companies. The sumptuous, though inconvenient, roads which lead the traveller to the approaches of Paris, were constructed by Louis XIV. Napoleon prolonged them and kept them in repair ; and by instituting the Board of Works (Administration des
* The kind of company which the French call a société en commandite par actions, is peculiar to France. The shareholders are divided into two distinct classes : 1. the directors or members of the company (associés en nom collectif), who have the responsibility and the conduct of the undertaking: 2. the shareholders (associés comanditaires), whose liability does not extend beyond the amount of the shares they hold.