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affections and unobtrusive rest in which it | passions, that he had forgot in what light

was passed, exempt alike from the grinding poverty which too often impelled the Genevese watchmaker's son into disgraceful actions, or the vehement passions which drove the Italian nobleman into brilliant crimes. Hence his biography exhibits an extraordinary mixture of lofty feelings with puerile simplicity, of depth of views with childishness, of divine philosophy with homely inclinations. Amidst all his enthusiasm and effusions of sentiment, he was as much under the influence as any man of creature comforts; and never hesitated to leave the most lofty efforts of the muse to participate in the substantial advantages of rich preserves or sweet cakes. This singular mixture arose in a great measure from the habits of his life, and the limited circle by which, during the greater part of it, he was surrounded. Living with a few friends in the quiet seclusion of a small German town, the object of almost superstitious admiration to a few females by whom he was surrounded, he became at once a little god of his own and their idolatry, and warmly inclined, like monks all over the world, to the innocent but not very elevating pleasures of breakfast and dinner. Mahomet said that he experienced more difficulty in persuading his four wives of his divine mission, than all the rest of the world besides; and this, says Gibbon, was not surprising, for they knew best his weaknesses as a man. Goethe thought, on the same principle, his fame was secure, when he was worshiped as a god by his female coterie. He had the highest opinion of his own powers, and of the lofty mission on which he was sent to mankind; but his self-love was less offensive than that of Rousseau, because it was more unobtrusive. It was allied rather to pride than vanityand though pride may often be hateful, it is never contemptible.

From the Life of Lord Byron, which Moore has published, it may be inferred that the latter acted wisely in consigning the original manuscript of the noble poet's autobiography to the flames. Assuming that a considerable part of that biography is taken from what the noble bard had left of himself, it is evident that a more complete detail of his feelings and motives of action would have done anything rather than have added to his reputation. In fact, Moore's Life has done more than anything else to lower it. The poetical biographer had thought and sung so much of the

they are viewed by the generality of men; he was so deeply imbued with the spirit of his hero, that he had come to regard his errors and vices as not the least interesting part of his life. That they may be so to that class of readers, unhappily too extensive, who are engaged in similar pursuits, is probably true; but how small a portion do these constitute of the human race, and how weak and inaudible is their applause when compared to the voice of ages! What has become of the innumerable licentious works whose existence in antiquity has become known from the specimens disinterred in the ruins of Herculaneum? Is there one of them which has taken its place beside the Lives of Plutarch? Whatever is fetid, however much prized at the moment, is speedily sunk in the waves of time. Nothing permanently floats down its stream but what is buoyant from its elevating tendency.

Boswell's Life of Johnson is so replete with the sayings and thoughts of the intellectual giant, whom it was so much his object to elevate, even above his natural Patagonian stature, that it may be regarded as a sort of autobiography, dictated by the sage in his moments of abandon to his devout worshiper. It is hardly going too far to say that it is the most popular book in the English language. Johnson's reputation now mainly rests on that biography. No one now reads the Rambler or the Idler-few the Lives of the Poets, interesting as they are, and admirable as are the criticisms on our greatest authors which they contain. But Boswell's Life of Johnson is in everybody's hands; you will hear the pithy sayings, the admirable reflections, the sagacious remarks it contains, from one end of the world to the other. The secret of this astonishing success is to be found in the caustic tone, sententious brevity, and sterling good sense of Johnson, and the inimitable accuracy, faithful memory, and almost infantine simplicity of his biographer. From the unbounded admiration with which he was inspired for the sage, and the faithful memory with which he was gifted, he was enabled to commit to paper, almost as they were delivered, those admirable sayings which have ever since been the delight and admiration of the world. We almost live with the members of the Literary Club; we hear their divers sentiments, and can almost conceive their tones of voice. We see the gigantic form of the sage towering above

his intellectual compeers. Burke said that Johnson was greater in conversation than writing, and greater in Boswell than either; and it is easy to conceive that this must have been the case. The Life contains all the admirable sayings, verbatim as they were delivered, and without the asperity of tone and manner which formed so great a blot in the original deliverer. Johnson's sayings were of a kind which were susceptible of being accurately transferred, and with full effect, to paper, because they were almost all reflections on morals, men, or manners, which are of universal application, and come home to the senses of mankind in every age. In this respect, they were much more likely to produce an impression in biography than the conversation of Sir Walter Scott, which, however charming to those who heard it, consisted chiefly of anecdotes and stories, great part of the charm of which consisted in the mode of telling and expression of the countenance, which, of course, could not be transferred to paper.

But it is not every eminent man who is so fortunate as to find a biographer like Boswell, who, totally forgetful of self, recorded for posterity with inimitable fidelity all the sayings of his hero. Nor is it many men who would bear so faithful and searching an exposure. Johnson, like every other man, had his failings; but they were those of prejudice or manner, rather than morals or conduct. We wish we could say that every other eminent literary man was equally immaculate, or that an entire disclosure of character would in every case reveal no more weaknesses or failings than have been brought to light by Boswell's faithful chronicle. We know that every one is liable to err, and that no man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre. But being aware of all this, we were not prepared for the immense mass of weaknesses, follies, and errors, which have been brought to light by the indiscreet zeal of biographers, in the character of many of our ablest literary, poetical, and philosophical characters. Certainly, if we look at the details of their private lives, these men of literary celebrity have had little title to set up as the instructors, or to call themselves the benefactors of mankind. From the days of Milton, whose divine genius was so deeply tarnished by the asperity of his feelings, and the unpardonable license in controversy which he permitted to his tongue, to those of Lord Byron, who scandalized his country and the world by the undisguised profligacy

of his private life, the biography of literary men, with a few brilliant exceptions-in the foremost of which we must place Sir Walter Scott-consists in great part of a series of follies, weaknesses, or faults, which it would be well for their memory could they be buried in oblivion. We will not say that the labors of their biographers have been the Massacre of the Innocents, for truly there were very few innocents to massacre; but we will say that they have, in general, done more to degrade those they intended to elevate, than the envenomed hostility of their worst enemies. We forbear to mention names, which might give pain to many respectable persons still alive. The persons alluded to, and the truth of the observation, will be at once understood and admitted by every person acquainted with the literary history of France and England during the last century.

Vanity and jealousy-vanity of themselves, jealousy of others-are the great failings which have hitherto tarnished the character and disfigured the biography of literary men. We fear it is destined to continue the same to the end of the world. The qualities which contribute to their greatness, which occasion their usefulness, which insure their fame, are closely allied to failings which too often disfigure their private lives, and form a blot on their memory, when indiscreetly revealed in biography, either by themselves or others. Genius is almost invariably united to susceptibility; and this temperament is unhappily too apt to run into irritability. No one can read D'Israeli's essay on The Literary Character, the most admirable of his many admirable works, without being convinced of that. Celebrity of any sort is the natural parent of vanity, and this weakness is in a peculiar manner fostered in poets and romance writers, because their writings interest so warmly the fair, who form the great dispensers of general fame, and convey it in the most flattering form to the author. It would perhaps be unjust to women to say that poets and novelists share in their weaknesses; but it is certain that their disposition is, in general, essentially feminine, and that, as they attract the admiration of the other sex more strongly than any other class of writers, so they are liable in a peculiar degree to the failings, as well as distinguished by the excellencies, by which their female admirers are characterized. We may regret that it is so: we may lament that we cannot find poets and romancers, who to the genius of Byron, or the fancy of Moore, unite the

sturdy sense of Johnson, or the simplicity | ger at least in a more conspicuous way of character of Scott; but it is to be feared in them than in the other sex, so there is such a combination is as rare, and as little to be looked for in general life, as the union of the strength of the war-horse to the fleetness of the racer, or the courage of the mastiff to the delicacy of the greyhound. Adam Smith long ago pointed out the distinction between those who serve and those who amuse mankind; and the difference, it is to be feared, exists not merely between the philosopher and the opera-dancer, but between the instructors of men in every department of thought, and those whose genius is devoted rather to the pleasing of the eye, the melting of the feelings, or the kindling of the imagination. Yet this observation is only generally, not universally, true; and Sir Joshua Reynolds remains a memorable proof that it is possible for an artist to unite the highest genius and most imaginative power of mind to the wisdom of a philosopher, the liberality of a gentleman, the benevolence of a Christian, and the simplicity of a child.

We are not at all surprised at the intoxication which seizes the literary men and artists whose genius procures for them the favor or admiration of women. Everybody knows it is the most fascinating and transporting flattery which the mind of man can receive. But we confess we are surprised, and that too not a little, at the want of sense which so frequently makes men even of the highest abilities mar the influence of their own genius, and detract from the well-earned celebrity of their own productions by the indiscreet display of this vanity, which the applause they have met with has produced in their minds. These gentlemen are charmed with the incense they have received, and of course desirous to augment it, and extend the circle from which it is to be drawn. Well, that is their object; let us consider what means they take to gain it. These consist too often in the most undisguised display of vanity in their conduct, manner, and conversation. Is this the way likely to augment the admiration which they enjoy so much, and are so solicitous to extend? Are they not clear-sighted enough to see, that, holding this to be their aim, considering female admiration as the object of their private aspirations, they cannot in any way so effectually mar their desires as by permitting the vanity, which the portion of it they have already received has produced, to appear in their manner of conversation? Are they so little versed in the female heart, as not to know that as self-love acts, if not in a stron

nothing which repels them so effectually as any display of that vanity in men which they are all conscious of in themselves, and nothing attracts them so powerfully as that selfforgetfulness, which, estimable in all, is in a peculiar manner graceful and admirable when it is met with in those whom none others can forget? Such a quality is not properly modesty-that is the retiring disposition of those who have not yet won distinction. No man who has done so is ignorant of it, as no woman of beauty is insensible to her charms. It is more nearly allied to good sense, and its invariable concomitant-a due regard for the feelings of others. It not unfrequently exists, in the highest degree, in those who have the strongest inward consciousness of the services they have rendered to mankind. No man was more unassuming than Kepler, but he wrote in reference to his great discoveries, and the neglect they at first met with, “I may well be a century without a reader, since God Almighty has been six thousand years without such an observer as me." Yet this is universally felt to have been no unworthy effusion of vanity, but a noble expression of great services rendered by one of his most gifted creatures to the glory of the Almighty. Such men as Kepler are proud, but not vain, and proud men do not bring their feelings so prominently or frequently forward as vain ones; for pride rests on the consciousness of superiority, and needs no external support; vanity arises from a secret sense of weakness, and thirsts for a perpetual solace from the applause of others."

It is in the French writers that this inordinate weakness of literary men is most conspicuous, and in them it exists to such an extent as, on this side of the Channel, to be altogether ridiculous. Every Frenchman thinks his life worth recording. It was long ago said that the number of unpublished memoirs which exist in France, on the war of the League, would, if put together, form a large library. If those relating to the war of the Revolution were accumulated, we have no doubt they would fill the Bibliothèque du Roi. The number already published exceeds almost the dimensions of any private collection of books. The composition and style of these memoirs is for the most part as curious, and characteristic of French character, as their number is descriptive of their ruling passion. In the age of the religious wars, every writer of memoirs seems to have placed himself in the first rank, Henry IV. in the

second; in that of the Revolution, the greater | here than an accidental diversity: there is a part of the autobiographies scarcely disguise difference arising from a difference of national the opinion, that, if the first place must be character. The Englishmen devoted their reluctantly conceded to Napoleon Buona- lives to the public service, and bestowed not parte, the second must, beyond all question, a thought on its illustration by themselves; be assigned to themselves. The Abbé de the French mainly thought of themselves Pradt expressed the feeling almost every when acting in the public service, and conone entertained of himself in France, not the sidered it mainly as a means of elevation and sentiment of an individual man, when he said, self-laudation to themselves. "There was one who overturned Napoleon, and that man was me." Most persons in this country will exclaim, that this statement is overcharged, and that it is incredible that vanity should so generally pervade the writers of a whole nation. If they will take the trouble to read Lamartine's Confidences and Raphael, containing the events of his youth, or his Histoire de la Révolution de 1848, recently published, they will find ample confirmation of these remarks; nor are they less conspicuously illustrated by the more elaborate Mémoires d'Outre Tombe of Chateaubriand, the name of which is prefixed to this

essay.

One thing is very remarkable, and forcibly illustrates the marked difference, in this respect, between the chracter of the French and the English nation. In France all memoirs assume the form of autobiographies; and so general is the thirst for that species of composition, that, where a man of any note has not compiled his own life, his papers are put into the hands of some skillful bookmaker, who speedily dresses them up, in the form of an attractive autobiography. This was done with the papers of Brissot, Robespierre, Marshal Ney, Fouché, and a great many others, all of which appeared with the name of their authors, and richly stored with these private papers, though it was morally certain that they could not by possibility have written their own lives. In England nothing of the kind is attempted. Scarcely any of the eminent men in the last age have left their own memoirs; and the papers of the most remarkable of them have been published without any attempt at biography. Thus we have the Wellington Papers, the Marlborough Papers, the Nelson Papers, the Castlereagh Papers, published without any autobiography, and only a slight sketch, though in all these cases very ably done, of the author's life by their editor. The lives of the others eminent men of the last age have been given by others, not themselves: as that of Pitt, by Tomline and Gifford; that of Fox, by Trotter; that of Sheridan, by Moore; that of Lord Eldon, by Twiss; that of Lord Sidmouth, by Pellew. There is more

In justice to the literary men of France, however, it must be stated that, of late years at least, they have been exposed to an amount of temptation, and of food for their self-love, much exceeding anything previously seen among men, and which may go far to account for the extraordinary vanity which they have every where evinced. In England, literary distinction is neither the only nor the greatest passport to celebrity. Aristocratic influences remain, and still possess the deepest hold of the public mind; statesmen exist, whose daily speeches in parliament render their names as household words. Fashion exercises an extraordinary and almost inexplicable sway, especially over the fairest part of creation. How celebrated soever an author may be, he will in London soon be brought to his proper level, and a right appreciation of his situation. He will see himself at once eclipsed by an old nobleman, whose name is fraught with historic glory; by a young marquis, who is an object of solicitude to the mothers and daughters in the room; by a parliamentary orator, who is beginning to acquire distinction in the senate house. We hold this state of things to be eminently favorable to the right character of literary men; for it saves them from trials before which, it is all but certain, both their good sense and their virtue would succumb. But in Paris this salutary check upon individual vanity and presumption is almost entirely awanting. The territorial aristocracy is confiscated and destroyed; titles of honor are abolished; historic names are almost forgotten in the ceaseless whirl of present events; parliamentary orators are in general unpopular, for they are for the most part on the side of power. Nothing remains but the government of mind. The intellectual aristocracy is all in all.

It makes and unmakes kings alternately; produces and stops revolutions; at one time calls a new race to the throne, at another consigns them with disgrace to foreign lands. Cabinets are formed out of the editors of newspapers, intermingled with a few bankers, whom the public convulsions have not yet rendered insolvent; prime ministers are to

be found only among successful authors. I Thiers, the editor of the National and the historian of the Revolution; Guizot, the profound professor of history; Villemain, the eloquent annalist of French literature; Lamartine, the popular traveler, poet, and historian, have been the alternate prime ministers of France since the revolution of 1830. Even the great name of Napoleon cannot save his nephew from the irksomeness of bending to the same necessity. He named Thiers his prime minister at the time of the Boulogne misadventure, he is caressing him now in the saloons of the Elysée Bourbon. Successful authors thus in France are surrounded with a halo, and exposed to influences, of which in this country we cannot form a conception. They unite in their persons the fame of Mr. Fox and the lustre of Sir Walter Scott; often the political power of Mr. Pitt with the celebrity of Lord Byron. Whether such a concentration is favorable either to their present utility or lasting fame, and whether the best school to train authors to be the instructors of the world is to be found in that which exposes them to the combined influence of its greatest temptations, are questions on which it is not necessary now to enter, but on which posterity will probably have no difficulty in coming to a conclusion.

But while we fully admit that these extraordinary circumstances, unparalleled in the past history of the world, go far to extenuate the blame which must be thrown on the French writers for their extraordinary vanity, they will not entirely exculpate them. Ordinary men may well be carried away by such adventitious and flattering marks of their power; but we cannot accept such an excuse from the first men of the age-men of the clearest intellect, and the greatest acquisitions-whose genius is to charm, whose wisdom is to instruct the world through every succeeding age. If the teachers of men are not to be above the follies and weaknesses which are general and ridiculous in those of inferior capacity, where are we to look for such an exemption? It is a poor excuse for the overweening vanity of a Byron, a Goethe, a Lamartine, or a Chateaubriand, that a similar weakness is to be found in a Madame Grisi or a Mademoiselle Cerito, in the first cantatrice or most admired ballerina of the day. We all know that the professors of these charming arts are too of ten intoxicated by the applause which they meet with; we excuse or overlook this weakness from respect due to their genius and their sex. But we know, at the same time,

that there are some exceptions to the general frailty; and in one enchanting performer, our admiration for talents of the very highest order is enhanced by respect for the simplicity of character and generosity of disposition with which they are accompanied. We might desiderate in the men who aspire to direct the thoughts of the world, and have received from nature talents equal to the task, the unaffected singleness of heart, and sterling good sense, which we admire, not less than her admirable powers, in Mademoiselle Jenny Lind.

The faults, or rather frailties, we have alluded to, are in an especial manner conspicuous in two of the most remarkable writers of France of the present centuryLamartine and Chateaubriand. There is some excuse for the vanity of these illustrious men. They have both acquired an enduring fame-their names are known all over the world, and will continue to be so while the French language is spoken on the earth; and they have both, by their literary talents, been elevated to positions far beyond the rank in society to which they were born, and which might well make an ordinary head reel from the giddy precipices with which it is surrounded. Chateaubriand powerfully aided in crushing Napoleon in 1814, when Europe in arms surrounded Paris: with still more honorable constancy he resisted him in 1804, when, in the plenitude of his power, he executed the Duke d'Enghien. He became ambassador to London for the Restoration-minister of foreign affairs and representative of France at the Congress of Verona. He it was who projected and carried into execution the French invasion of the Peninsula in 1823, the only successful expedition of the Restoration. Lamartine's career, if briefer, has been still more dazzling. He aided largely in the movement which overthrew Louis Philippe; by the force of his genius he obtained the mastery of the movement, " struggled with democracy when it was strongest, and ruled it when it was wildest ;" and had the glory, by his single courage and energy, of saving the character of the revolution from bloodshed, and coercing the Red Republicans in the very tumult of their victory. He has since fallen from power, less from any known delinquencies imputed to him, than from the inherent fickleness of the French people, and the impossibility of their submitting, for any length of time, to the lead of a single individual. The autobiography of two such men cannot be other than interesting and instructive in the

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