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[19]

Chapter 2:

The continent of Europe—France.


1763.

France, the ‘beautiful kingdom’ of central Eu-
chap. II.} 1763.
rope, was occupied by a most ingenious people, formed of blended elements, and still bearing traces not only of the Celtic but of the German race, of the culture of Rome, and the hardihood of the Northmen. In the habit of analysis it excelled all nations; its delight in logical exactness and in precision of outline and expression of thought, gave the style alike to its highest efforts and to its ordinary manufactures; to its poetry and its prose; to the tragedies of Racine and the pictures of Poussin, as well as to its products of taste for daily use, and the adornment of its public squares with a careful regard to fitness and proportion. Its severe method in the pursuit of mathematical science corresponded to its nicety of workmanship in the structure of its ships of war, its canals, its bridges, its fortifications, and its public buildings. Light-hearted, frivolous and vain, no people were more ready to seize a new idea, and to pursue it with rigid dialectics to all its consequences;

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