Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

reign bayonets had just imposed upon We have seen that, in politics, verFrance. The pamphleteer was ap- satility is the staple feature of M. de pointed Ambassador to Sweden ; but Chateaubriand's character. He has his repugnance for illegitimates re divided his affections between the tained him at Paris. Napoleon re monarchy and the republic, the theoappeared. Chateaubriand fled to cratic and the constitutional governGhent, in the capacity of minister to ment. We have seen him pass from Louis XVIII. He returned to France a seminary at St. Malo to the shores after the battle of Waterloo ; he rang- of the United States,—shed his blood ed himself among the proscribers in at the siege of Thionville, under the the Chamber of Peers, and “request- banners of the emigration, and profess, ed the king to suspend the course of at London, republican principles. We his inexhaustible clemency.” He have seen him join Napoleon and quit afterwards published his “ Monarchie him—and again join him to quit him selon la Charte,” with the manifest again. We have seen him abjure the and avowed intention of arming against principles which he had proclaimed the royal authority all the doubtful under the empire, in order to profit persons who, by the ordinance of the by those diametrically opposite after 5th of September, 1816, had just re the restoration. It has been said, and entered within the pale of the charter, we agree with it, “ in politics, M. de and adopted ideas of amnesty and union. Chateaubriand has no fixed principles,

This work cost the author a formal and is rather un républicain manqué destitution ; and the partisan of legiti- than anything else." macy throwing himself thenceforward Considered as a moral and religious into opposition, established the Con- writer, M. de Chateaubriand does not servateur, and, armed with that jour- deserve either the excessive praise or nal, into which, it has been said, “ he the excessive blame that have been crammed more eloquence than would poured out upon him. At Rome, his have been sufficient for an ordinary Génie du Christianisme has been placman to earn a high name,” he made ed on the prohibited list, like Emile war to the death against the ministry and Candide ; and in the seminaries, of Decazes, which he overset. He where religion is treated so microscothen took his seat in the council by pically, they beheld in M. de Chateauthe side of Villèle-excited the Spa- briand only a philosopher who was nish war—and was subsequently turn- little of a theologian, who brought ed out by his colleague, as a “garcon within the same poetical horizon the de bureau.He next became liberal, Venus and Virgin Mary-Jupiter and and, in the Journal des Débats, at- Jehovah. They counted up a thoutacked the triumvirate Villèle, Pey- sand and twenty-three objectionable ronnet, and Corbière, with a persever- propositions in his book ;-and those ance and talent little common; and, parallels between the Bible and Hoafter three years' contest, having con mer—that comparison between the tributed to their fall, he laid down his scriptural Phædra and the pagan Dido arms, and passed anew into the ranks -between the recognition of Joseph of aristocracy, upon being appointed by his brethren, and of Penelope by Ambassador to Rome : upon having her husband,—did not furnish to the the dignity of councillor of state be- Vatican bolts sufficient to crush them stowed upon his two aides-de-camp, into dust. Bertin de Vaux and Salvandy; and In the salons of the Fauxbourg St. after having stipulated for the payment Germain, on the other hand, M. de hy the ministry of a sum of 350,000 Chateaubriand is held up as the moral francs, as an indemnity for the expenses writer par excellence. There, it has of the war—of which the illustrious been overlooked that it is not quite Viscount pockets 280,000 francs, while according to morality to present to us his confidential secretary, M. Roux in the Mémoires sur le Duc de Berri, Laborie, has the remaining 70,000.

his amorous weaknesses as an addi



tional perfection in the character of a of Nero, evokes the demon of tyranny chivalrous Frenchman,—to tell us, in to answer to the vows of the cruel and René, in the name of virtue and of the superstitious Hériocles ;-these monarchy, the story of an incestuous compositions not short of magnificent, brother, who casts the eye of guilt and worthy, in every respect, of the upon his sister; to delight in the de- sublimity of the epopeia. scription of the impurities of the in The Martyrs, notwithstanding their famous Heliogabalus ; or to paint in many blemishes, bear the impress of the Martyrs the violent loves of Eu- the greatest talent. A few of those dorus and the Druidess Velléda. strange expressions, and fantastic si

This last work, the Martyrs, is miles, with which Chénier reproached perhaps the least popular of all those M. de Chateaubriand, signify but litwhich M. de Chateaubriand has pub- tle. There are imagination, ideas, lished, and yet, to our taste, it is his images, in his poem. We behold chef-d'æuvre. Its plan is vast and well Rome, with all its glorious buildings, wrought out : it contains novel and still erect-Naples, with its perfumes ably-drawn characters; descriptions and its revels—Germany, with its full of truth and beauty ; a style fre- mysterious forests—Greece, with its quently calling to mind the beautiful enchantments-Gaul, with its Druids Homeric simplicity ; bold images, and and the Gauls and the Franks bringideas, sometimes bordering on the fan- ing to their battles that savage and tastic, but still strictly those of a poet; a indomitable energy which belongs to whole, in short, in which, as in the barbarians. Like Voltaire, like Gibmost part of M. de Chateaubriand's bon, like Pascal, Bacon, Corneille, works, there is much to blame, but Racine,Chateaubriand has still more to admire. Homer, Hesiod, than once taken the subject of his Virgil, Dante, Milton, Klopstock, and pictures from both ancient and mothe Bible, formed the sources of Cha- dern authors. His Voyage en Améteaubriand's inspiration when he com- rique is full of thefts from the Pilposed the Martyrs. He has not raised grimage in Europe and America of himself as high as his models; he often Beltrami. But these plagiarisms, and wants boldness, and often sinks to the the blemishes of style with which we character of a timid copyist. Influ- bave reproached M. de Chateaubriand, enced by French taste, he has failed cannot deprive that author of the first in the daring, the terrible, and the rank among the French prose-writers grand, when he has come to the de- of the age. His imagination is as scription of his Hell. There is nei- fertile as Nature herself, and his dether majesty, nor rage, nor terror in scriptions are as varied as the places the Infernal Council of the Martyrs. he has visited, the opinions he has His demons, as compared with the embraced, or the diversified passions Titans, who tried to scale Olympus, which have agitated his tumultuous with Satan, or Belzebub, bold enough to existence. It is easy, and it is right, aim at dethroning the Eternal, are but to criticise the political variations of a troop of pygmies before a race of M. de Chateaubriand ; one must lagiants, which, by the way, have ac- ment such aberrations in a public man. quired an immense height in passing But nothing but praises can rise to from the hands of Homer into those the lips when we think of the admiraof Milton. But that creation of the ble pictures of new and uncultivated Demon of Homicide, which our poet nature which we find in Atala—its owes solely to his own inspiration, tenderness, its pathos, and its passion; who, with a torch in one hand and a —of the superb parallel between sword in the other, stops over Rome, Washington and Napoleon, inserted and gives the signal for the massacre in his Travels in America and Italy; of the Christians—the whole of that of those touching scenes, so truly dreadful event—the scene in which an rendered, of the devotedness of a man apostate Hebrew, standing on the ashes of the desert to Réné-that unhappy

exile from the ancient world ;-of that self—the cries of the lost angels, who terrible picture of Hériocles, sick, demand their prey—the judgment proabandoned even by his slaves, received nounced in Heaven—the fall of the into their hospital by the very Christ- Atheist, cast down into Hell, which ians who have been the objects of his yawns to receive him, and closes upon cruel persecutions, and, at last, re- him, pronouncing the word “ Eternilieved in his agony by the same hand ty !”—the echo of the abyss as it rewhich had just bound up the wounds peats “ Eternity !”—All these things of a martyr ;-of that awful descrip- cannot, we think, but be regarded in tion of the death of this impious and their various ways, as beauties touchwicked man-his appearance before ing, tender, terrible, and sublime. It the tribunal of God, whom he has de- is, we readily admit, foolish to cry up nied in Time, and whose face he will M. de Chateaubriand's compositions never more behold during Eternity – as anything approaching to faultless ; the intercession of his guardian angel but it is equally foolish, and unjust -the silence of the guilty man, dumb besides, to conceal or to deny his through terror, for he has judged him- great, many, and very varied merits.


The mind as well as the form of wo We love to linger over the excellent man is more tender and delicate than productions of the female mind. They that of man; and when, endowed with seem to be redolent of beauty, and to more than ordinary vigor, it expends be as soft as the bosom in which they its energies in poetry, it is generally were formed. Lovely faces appear to more remarkable for minuteness and greet us with smiles as we turn over truth of painting. Sappho has excel- the pages; we become a woman's conled, in the delineation of love, all who fidant, and learn, as from her own have ever written; and it is perhaps sweet lips, the secrets of her heart. not too much to suppose that, did all It is true we do not see the lips her works remain, we should find her move, or feel her breath, like a cloud equally powerful and correct in her of fragrant incense, floating about us ; descriptions of other feelings and pas- nor does the silver voice shower its sions. It is true that no modern poet- delicious music into our ears : but we ess has hitherto produced anything have her ideas, her most hidden comparable to the Sapphic fragments; thoughts, her most cherished feelings, nor is there any probability that, while clothed in the best language of which the present poetical creed continues to she is mistress. It is almost like rebe received, anything equal or similar ceiving a letter from a beautiful woman will ever be given birth to : yet nume- at a distance; and we think of every rous lyrical and miscellaneous pieces, woman as beautiful per se, whom we of great originality and beauty, have do not know to be otherwise ; for, in our own day proceeded from the with us, woman and beauty are syno

The reasons why ladies nymous terms. succeed in short fugitive pieces, and Many of the pieces which compose fail in longer efforts, are obvious the volume now before us are distinenough : their own hearts furnish them guished by great chasteness both of with delicate sentiments, tender feel- thought and language, by pleasing and ings, and pure thoughts ; but their do- appropriate similes, natural metaphors, mestic life denies them that large ex- and very gentle pathos. A clever criperience of the world, which can alone tic would immediately discover them, furnish the materials of a great poem. by their peculiar sweetness and deli

female pen.

* Poems, &c. By Mrs. G. G. Richardson. 1200. Edinburgh and London, 1828.

to be from a female pen; for Still, every throw fresh hope supplied,

And still the eager eye the distinctions of sex really prevail

Followed each ripple of the tide, in mind as well as in our physical na And still the prey shot by. ture. There is a vein of pious me

The gazer o'er that woodland scene, lancholy running through the whole

Could rest upon no spot, volume, plainly indicating that the Where Nature's most enchanting sheen writer has had many sorrows to con

Of loveliness was not ; tend with ; but there is also a resigna But eye, thought, fancy, all were spellid tion, a reliance upon Providence, and By that fair boy alone, a strong faith in the goodness of the

Still standing where I last beheld,

His every playmate gone; Divinity, which more than counterbalance the effects of this gloom. The His niinnow chase, his flashing smile,

Hopes baffled, ever new ! talent displayed in the poetry, indeed,

The ardor of his fruitless toile is equalled throughout by the noble

A faithful portrait drew! ness of the sentiments, the strength of

“ 'Twas pretty though 'twas sad" to see affection, and the amiableness of cha

How artlessly he play'd racter it exhibits.

His future youth's sure historyIn making our extracts we are puz

But deeper musing sway'd; zled what to select, many of the best Four years he scarce had number'd ; boy! of the short pieces having been already So persevering now, printed, and the longer poems being

Will good or ill, that Will employ

When manhood shades thy brow? much too long for copying. We shall begin with four sweet lines from the We shall conclude our notice with first copy of verses in the volume : the following sadly pleasing verses : “Beneath its shade to vagrant thought re St. Mary's Kirk-yardSelkirkshire.

sign'd, While zephyr's wings, dipp'd in the violet's O lay me there, O lay me there, dew,

When the blink is out now feebly lowing, * Sweep by like dreams of bliss when life was new, Where naething stirs but the moorland air I rest from noontide cares my wearied mind.” The dead wiwither'd leafies strowing!

I hae had eneuch o'stir and dinAs a very pretty natural picture we

I wad na be laid whar noebors gather! select

There's peace, there's peace, by the lanely linn, The Little Angler.

A bonny grave-bed is the heather. The summer morn was shining bright,

St. Mary's loch lies shimmering still, Inclining me to roam ;

But St. Mary's Kirk-bell's lang dune ringing; Birds, trees, and sweet perfume invite

There's naething now but the grave-stane hill, To ramble far from home.

To tell o'a' their loud psalın-singing ; At play, beside the dingle brook,

The plover wails where gossips met, An urchin troup 1 spied ;

And the fremitt curlew fearless hovers A thread and pin, his line and hook,

Where the plighted trysting hour was setOne tiny angler tried.

O where be now the blooming lovers?

And where be now the hopes and fears, With ever-baffled toil to wile

And the dowie, and the merry, meeting ? The craftier minnow race,

There's naething here but the morning's tearsFair, curly haired, blue eyed, a smile

Aneth the moolsg there's nae mair Still winnowing o'er his face.

A calm soughs on the loch the now, Playmates were jeering him, but no!

Where the waves were ance sic a warstle He would not be subdued ;

keeping; I watch'd him long, 'twas time to go And the liit** looks down wi' her bonny brow, My wanderings were pursued.

Like a nither watching bairnies sleeping. Full many a mile, the sun was high O lay me there, O lay me there, When I this path retraced ;

Where the dead in loneliness are lyingThere stood the little fisher-boy

I want nae dirge but the moorland air, Just where I left him placed.

And rest, sweet rest, where nane are spying.

* Blazing.

§ Mould,

|| Weeping.

† Stranger, not of kin. # Heavy, sad.

1 Sighing sound.

** Sky.


Essay I.-Division of NATURAL BODIES, AND GENERAL Laws of ORGANIC LIFE. How delightful a task it is, to every families, viz. the organic, and the inwell regulated mind, to investigate the organic, -and these are distinguished wonders of nature ? “ To look by laws, which draw a marked line of through nature, up to nature’s God,” separation between them, furnishing is indeed worthy the philosopher and data, at once simple and positive, and Christian. In the workmanship of enabling us to determine immediately the Almighty, we behold, wherever to which family to refer any object we turn our eyes, boundless proofs of we view. The organic family comHis wisdom and beneficence; and prehends all bodies endued with vitalwhatever part we make the subject of ity ;—the inorganic, those not possessour study, in that we find ample ing this principle :-to the former cause for gratitude and praise. group, therefore, belong animals and

Pre-eminent, however, among the plants ;-to the latter, all other bodies works of creation, and affording to cognizable by our senses. the contemplative inquirer the high Animals are natural bodies, organest intellectual pleasure, is the race ized, living, and sentient. Vegetables of beings animated and living. The are natural bodies, organized and livanimal frame is indeed an inexhausti- ing, but not sentientall other bodies ble mine for research,-it forms of it are neither organized, nor living, nor self a world, through which the eye sentient. It is therefore to the laws of science ranges with admiration, and of organic life, that our observations regards with delight the wonders un are to be confined. folded by the diligence of the inquirer. The phenomena manifested by all

If we consider the animal frame as it organic bodies, result apparently from respects eitherits mechanism, or the cu an inherent power,--a power innate in rious and complicated structure com- the structure of the body itself, and posing it, or, diving more deeply into the producing all the characters of animal mysteries of nature, endeavor to elu- and vegetable life.

This power, cidate and explain the laws by which whatever it may be, is generally termit is governed, we shall find more than ed the vital principle ;" but vital sufficient to claim our attention, and principle is an expression calculated excite our interest.

only to cover our ignorance respectIn essays on the present subject, ing the abstract nature of the cause adapted for general perusal, there are of these phenomena, or effects, permany difficulties to surmount,-some petually and uniformly associated to arising from its intricate nature,– the structure of organic matter. and others from the necessity of avoid- This principle must, from its very ing, as much as possible, technical essence, remain forever enveloped in terms, which, granting they were uni- mystery ;-facts proclaim its existversally understood, would afford ence, and with this we must rest clearer ideas than any other, of what content. We shall perhaps, however, is meant to be conveyed. Clearness be able to form a more accurate idea and perspicuity, however, we shall of what is implied by the term, “vital endeavor to attain, and if any infor- principle," and consequently of the mation be communicated, or a spirit distinction between organic and inorof candid inquiry excited-Reader! ganic matter, by a more close compaour wishes are satisfied !

rison of these two families. All natural objects with which we Inorganic matter is simple in its are acquainted, and which constitute form, without fixed shape or determithis globe and all upon its surface, are nate parts, and homogeneous in its divided into two distinct groups or composition. Incapable of growth,

« AnteriorContinuar »