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“Laissez faire, laissez passer.”—I think your correspondent “A MAN IN A GARRET” (No. 19. p. 308.) is not warranted in stating that M. de Gournay was the author of the above axiom of political economy. Last session Lord J. Russell related an anecdote in the House of Commons which referred the phrase to an earlier date. In the Times of the 2nd of April, 1849, his Lordship is reported to have said, on the preceding day, in a debate on the Rate-in-Aid Bill, that Colbert, with the intention of fostering the manufactures of France, established regulations which limited the webs woven in looms to a particular size. He also prohibited the introduction of foreign manufactures into France. The French vine-growers, finding that under this system they could no longer exchange their wine for foreign goods, began to grumble. “It was then,” said his Lordship, “that Colbert, having asked a merchant what he should do, he (the merchant), with great justice and great sagacity, said, ’Laissez faire et laissez passer’—do not interfere as to the size and mode of your manufactures, do not interfere with the entrance of foreign imports, but let them compete with your own manufactures.”
Colbert died twenty-nine years before M. de Gournay was born. Lord J. Russell omitted to state whether Colbert followed the merchant’s advice.
College Salting and Tucking of Freshmen (No. 17. p. 261., No. 19. p. 306.).—A circumstantial account of the tucking of freshmen, as practised in Exeter College, oxford, in 1636, is given in Mr. Martyn’s Life of the First Lord Shaftesbury, vol. i. p. 42.
“On a particular day, the senior under-graduates, in the evening, called the freshmen to the fire, and made them hold out their chins; whilst one of the seniors, with the nail of his thumb (which was left long for that purpose), grated off all the skin from the lip to the chin, and then obliged him to drink a beer-glass of water and salt.”
Lord Shaftesbury was a freshman at Exeter in 1636; and the story told by his biographer is, that he organised a resistance among his fellow freshmen to the practice, and that a row took place in the college hall, which led to the interference of the master, Dr. Prideaux, and to the abolition of the practice in Exeter College. The custom is there said to have been of great antiquity in the college.
The authority cited by Mr. Martyn for the story is a Mr. Stringer, who was a confidential friend of Lord Shaftesbury’s, and made collections for a Life of him; and it probably comes from Lord Shaftesbury himself.
Byron and Tacitus.—Although Byron is, by our school rules, a forbidden author, I sometimes contrive to indulge myself in reading his works by stealth. Among the passages that have struck my (boyish) fancy is the couplet in “The Bride of Abydos” (line 912),—