« AnteriorContinuar »
Lamartine determined on carrying is now the active man, the daily beneinto effect his long-devised plan, and factor of his species, the suppressor of on quitting the shores of his country gaming houses, the abolisher of lotfor several years.
To that voyage we teries, the protector of foundlings, the shall hereafter more specially refer. gradual emancipator of slaves, the It was one of the great events of his Christian instructor of the people, the life--but the loss of his darling and visitor of the prisons and lunatic beloved daughter there has thrown a asylums, and the chief of that social melancholy over his spirit, which it Party in France whose efforts are little is not very probable will ever wholly known in England, and whose exerforsake it.
tions it is our design to communicate, Whilst absent on this poetical and as we feel it our duty to applaud. religious journey to the Holy Land, This happy combination of grace the electors of a small electoral college and imagination with moral and Chrisnamed Bergues, a fortified town in tian principle—of blandness of manner France, in the Department of the and gentleness of character with deci. North, a few miles from Dunkirk, sion of mind and practical philan. thought fit to appoint him their de. thropy, is not often to be met with in puty. On first receiving the news of this world of ours; and when it is so, this wholly unexpected honour, De it is to be hailed with delight, and held Lamartine hesitated as to its accept- up to imitation and praise. A Chrisance, but he finally determined on re- tian poet, a Christian gentleman, a turning to France to fulfil the new Christian man of education and genius, duties imposed upon him. At the and a Christian politician, who will ensuing general elections he was re- not allow his political system to be named at Bergues, and, at the same based on any thing but morals and time, appointed deputy by his native religion, is a man as rare as he is vatown, Macon; but, as he had promised luable ; it is therefore that we have the electors of the former place to determined on presenting a sketch of remain their deputy in case they should his character. again appoint him, he declined becom- De Lamartine is now the poet, the ing the representative of his birth- moralist, and the politician, and we place. At the last general election, will examine what he has done, and what however, having been returned by the he is doing, in these three capacities. electors of both the college Intra If there be not a vast deal of method Muros, and that of Extra Muros at in our summary,--and if sometimes Macon, he felt it his duty to accept we appear not to be sufficiently attenone of these nominations, to the great tive to the chronological order of our regret of the electors of Bergues, who history, let it be remembered that had returned him without a dissentient after all, we are writing a sketch of a voice. This rapid sketch of the out- poet, and that to methodize too much, line of De Lamartine's life will mate would infringe on our prerogatives of rially assist in the consideration of his following him in his flights, and of character and labours as a poet and as attempting, at least, to give an idea of a politician. We have much to add, his fancy, as well as of his intellectual and much to fill up—but the sketch is attainments. The 19th century in before our readers.
France has hitherto produced but two DE LAMARTINE is at once a poet, a great poets and distinguished writers moralist, and a politician. It is not -CHATEAUBRIAND and DE LAMARour intention to depict him in only one TINE. They are both royalists. They of these characters, but to present the have both remained inflexibly attachwhole man. His poetry is the charm ed to the fallen dynasty. They are both of his life, his morals the ornament of essentially monarchical. They have his life, his social political system the never hesitated to declare this, nor end of his life. There was a time shrunk from rendering it apparent. when it was truly said of him,
What can the democratic school in “ Aimer, prier, et chanter-voila toute sa
France produce to compare with them? vie !”
Notwithstanding all the vauntings, the
proud and idle boastings of that school, This can be said no longer ? There what has it done—where are its names is another verb which must now be what are its productions ? Victor added, and that verb is “ agir." He Hugo, though most unsettled in his
politics since his invitation by Louis- Ossian, Homer, Virgil, Tasso, Milton, Philippe to the fêtes at Versailles, is yet Bernardin St Pierre, he became intifar, very far from belonging to the mately acquainted ; and many stanGeorge Sand and Alexander Dumas' zas-nay, thousands of lines have class of writers. Chateaubriand and been written by him, which he afterDe Lamartine are in France at this wards destroyed, but which his friends day unrivalled.
and admirers now, indeed, wish had The favourite writers of De Lamar- been preserved. At last he was pretine, when he was young, were Ma- vailed on to read to a select party of dame de Staël and Chateaubriand. friends, his “ LAC;"—and the history But more tender than this his literary of this first communication of his tamother, and more philosophical than lent to the public is worth relating. M. de Chateaubriand, his literary fa. It was in a large saloon that a nuther, retaining the royalist instincts of merous audience was collected by the his birth and education, at the same
kindness and affection of a friend. He time feeling a profound love of rational dreaded the moment. Timid and moliberty, he has at once sympathized dest, he would gladly have adjourned with the past and looked forward to the day when the hour drew near. He the future. His ideas are calmly pro- felt that he was a mere young country gressive. He is noble and great in squire, a mere poet from Macon, the his enthusiasm-and never having rea. son of a faithful royalist and of a son to doubt the sincerity of hi
rave soldier-but that was all ; and heart, he places much confidence in those who were collected to hear him the assurances and declarations of were-CRITICS! When his harmonious others. When young, he was so en- poesy reached the at first inattentive thusiastic in favour of Madame de ears of this Areopagus, he was ready Staël, that he passed a whole day by to sink into the earth with apprehen. the road-side merely to see her pass in sion ; but soon he perceived that they her caleche. It was the only time he became attentive—then that their eyes beheld her. For Chateaubriand, also, glistened with delight—then that they he had a profound affection ;—and on gave expression to their admiration one occasion, in order to see him, he and astonishment—and at last, when climbed a wall, and remained there no he concluded, he raised his eyes, and inconsiderable period—and then, hav- found that he was dignified with the ing satisfied his longing eyes, he de title of Poet. At that moment his scended and inscribed on the outer auditory perceived that he was handgate some verses to the genius he ad- some as well as poetical, and that his mired. This was the enthusiasm of black hair, fine ardent eyes, and noble youth. It is now moderated by years, open forehead, denoted him to be a and calmed by reflection.
youth of no ordinary nature. But That the young De Lamartine though he was successful in a saloon, should search for great men, and great why should he be in the press ? Chaminds—for religion allied to literature, teaubriand had been denounced as a and poetry to morals,-can excite no pitiful writer—and so what chance had surprise in those who remember, that, he? But necessity-yes, necessitythough born of Christian parents, and, at last compelled him to publish his educated in the Christian faith, he first volume, “ MEDITATIONS ;" for he lived in the epoch of the triumph of had spent all his money at Paris, had Bonaparte and Delille—and could no lived in the capital as a poet, was too where find, though already a poet and good a son to apply to his mother for philosoper himself—either poetry or aid, and was obliged to address himphilosophy.
self to M. De Genoude, now the chief The education of De Lamartine proprietor of the Gazette de France, being one of a strictly private and re- for advice and assistance. tired character, he had few opportu- tleman placed in the hands of the poet nities afforded him of knowing the a few hundred francs, bade him take men of the day, or the writers of the courage, kindly disposed of his work age. He had a secret partiality for for him, and thus brought before the Jean Jacques Rousseau, not as the public, ALPHONSE DE LAMARTINE.reasoner and the false philosopher of The success of the Meditations was the “ Social Contract,”—but as the prodigious,—not greater than they poet of Héloise. With the works of deserved, but still prodigious ; after
vers sa source,
the sallies of the empire, after the around the shade of the mighty Fingal, tame and almost insipid, but amiable De Lamartine, on the contrary, dared literature of De Jouey and Abbé De to be true, and ascending to the sources Lille, and after the correct M. De of the glory of the departed, he sigFontanes, it was prodigious to see a nalised by one strophe, as terrible as it serious poet-indeed, a religious poet- was just, the sanguinary character of read with enthusiasm, and raised to the hero. The following lines are honour and fame. It was a sort of sublime, not less for their poetry tlan poetry which only addressed itself to for their sentiments :highly cultivated minds. Sister of
“ Les dieux étaient tombés, les trônes the poetry of Manzoni and of Pellico,
étaient vides ; sister of the poetry of Tasso, as of La victoire te prit sur ses ailes rapides ; that of the Hebrews, it showed it
D'un peuple de Brutus la gloire te fit roi. self calm and suave, greatly simple, Ce siècle dont l'écume entrainait dans sa and surrounded with all the charms of Christian beauty and truth. Some- Les meurs, les rois, les dieux, refoule times his Meditations resembled the poor sick daughter of love, and were Recula d'un pas devant toi !” elegiac in the style of Sappho. Some
The poetry of De Lamartine has times the voice was of a different tone; become the true social poetry of and the cry of grief was heard, and the France, for it always proceeds from hymn of expiation was chanted, and the heart, and is addressed to the heart. his sacred lyre riveted all attentions Besides this, it is the source of really and gained all hearts.
pious and devotional sentiments. It The Meditations at once placed him is singular that the poetry of De Lain the rank of poets. At the French martine has few enemies in France. Academy his post was soon marked; Charles Nodier, indeed, has published and when he published his Harmonies, a saucy and uncivil satire ; but he is he only added to his former reputa- the only exception. In general, liis tion. His first two volumes were the contemporaries have approved his lafirst epo of his life; they are coloured bours, and rejoiced even in his sucas was his mind—they are the im
All seem to recognise, that, in pressions of his nature ;—the sun of all his efforts, all his works, all his Naples inflaming the horizon—the speeches, all his poetry-in all that he banks of the silver sea—the perfumes thinks and says-he has ever at heart of Greece and of Italy—the dark blue the sacred cause of humanity and relake-and then the tumultuous waves. ligion. Ask him why he sings ? and he re- Between the Meditations and the plies to you by the lines of the “ Dy Harmonies of De Lamartine there is ing Poet,"
a vast difference, but it is that re“Mais pourquoi chantes-tu ?-Demande sulting from the lapse of time and à Philomèle
from mental suffering. The HarmoPourquoi durant les nuits sa douce voix nies, like the Meditations, are the se mele
production of an enthusiastic mind Au doux bruit des ruisseaux sous l'om- and a believing and pious soul. But brage roulant ?
sorrow had his young days shadedJe chantais, mes amis, comme l'homme suffering had left its impress upon his respire,
heart; and there is all the difference Comme l'oiseau gémit, comme le vent between the two works that there is soupire,
between tears and joy, or the poetical Comme l'eau murmure en coulant.”
forebodings of evil, and evil actually As a specimen of another sort, and realized. He who was tender as Tasas proving the power, as well as the so and sensitive as Schiller in his flexibility of the mind of De Lamar- Meditations, is in his Harmonies subtine, we cite a passage from the very lime as Klopstock in his Messiah, same poem on the death of Napoleon, and religious as Fenelon. There are to which we elsewhere refer. Whilst four elements in the poetry of the Byron, Goethe, Uhland, Manzoni, Harmonies :—the recollections of his Beranger, and Casimir De la Vigne, childhood—the life of an orderly, were all surrounding the shade of pious, and happy family—the political Bonaparte with a cortege of their fu. iransformation of his mind from a senereal airs, like the harps of Scotland cluded provincial royalist to that of
one who even then dreamt of forming Le Tombeau de Sorrente was writ. a “social party '-and, finally, real, ten, at the early age of eighteen, on genuine, heartfelt piety.
occasion of his first visit to Italy. The mother of De Lamartine was In 1819 he became acquainted with his early idol. She was a model of Eliza, now Madame De Lamartine, charity and of maternal perfection. and before he knew her had never She was the Dorcas of Milly—the published a line of poetry. Martha and Mary united of Burgundy. In 1826, when he made his journey Her dwelling was one of peace, har. to Italy with Madame De Lamartine, mony, love. There was no turbulent he was called on to fight a duel with joy_there were no restless desires. a Liberal Italian officer. Some lines Herself, her daughters, and her son, in the last canto of Childe Harold lived for others and for God; and it having depicted, under sombre cowas thus that his heart received all its lours, the prospects of Italy, an Itaearliest and best impressions.
lian general affected to regard them The humble residence of Milly was as insulting, and a rencontre took ever, and is still, the object of De La place. The duel was fought with martine's grateful love.
swords, and M. De Lamartine was
wounded in his arm. This was a de“ Il est sur la colline
plorable acquiescence on the part of Une blanche maison,
a Christian poet with the barbarous Un rocher la domine, Un buisson d'aubépine
ysages of half-civilized society. De
Lamartine was even then such a man Est tout son horizon."
as ought not to have been overcome The death of the mother of De La
by the age in which he lived. He
should have refused, with indignation, martine was the first great trouble of to accept such a challenge. He had his life—that of Alphonse, his darling written a description of Italy, and had boy, who was separated from him by death when two years of age, his se
so written as a poet. It was monstrous
for one man to set himself up as the cond—and that of the loss of Julia, champion, forsooth, of a different opihis lovely and beloved girl, the third. The day he was named member of the fight him with swords. If De La
nion, and require his adversary to French Academy his mother expired, martine had been killed, this “patriot after the most dreadfully acute suffer- general" would have been a murderer. ings. Feeble and aged, she took a
But we will say, with De Lamartine warm bath in a laundry far removed himself, in his Episode de Sorrentefrom her room. She was unable to turn off the supply of hot water-her
“ Mais pourquoi revenir sur ces scenes strength failed her—she was literally
passées, scalded to death—and two days after. Laissez le vent gémir et le flot murmurer, wards expired. Oh, who has not wept
Revenez, revenez, ò mes tristes pensées, with the poet when perusing his poem
Je veux rêver et non pleurer. entitled Ma Mère ? At the age of In his Harmonies, De Lamartine eighteen, De Lamartine received his foretold the future social influence of first impressions of love for woman; poetry. They contained the germs of but it was the love "that boys feel the life of a man who is at once politiand poets feign," for the object of his cal and popular. His poetry is to heart's truest affection was, and still produce results—not to please the ear. is, Eliza, his beloved and tenderly It is useful as well as melodious ; he cherished wife. It was not, as Ernest who wrote the Death of Socrates, Falconnet supposes in his L'Art en and the celebrated lines on RevoluProvince, to Elvira, or to any ima. tions, is the Christian who wrote the ginary being, that the Tombeau de Hymns to Jehovah, -and to the Holy Sorrente, the Crucifix, Ischia, and Spirit. In all that he has done, he Chant d' Amour, &c. &c., were ad. has sought to be “ social,” and to leave dressed, but to Eliza, his now faith- the world improved by his poetry as ful and devoted wife. His dedication well as by his philosophy and his politiof Childe Harold is to her, as also Jo. cal morals. celyn, and, indeed, he has associated M. de Lamartine was somewhat sur. her with all that he has written and prised by the Revolution of 1830. His loved.
belief and his sympathies were both VOL. XLV. NO, CCLXXIX,
wounded; he could not approve of the for its illustrious author, and proof ordinances he could not ratify the Re- that all that is most lovely and inviting volution, so he resolved to leave France may be most virtuous and true. for the East_remained at Marseilles In examining the “ Souvenirs, &-c." for some time-freighted a vessel at of De Lamartine in the East, it must his own expense—and there addressed also be remembered, that they were not his celebrated Adieux to Sir Walter written for publication—that they were Scott, and to the “ romanciers" of the thoughts and feelings of each day, Europe.
and that the mournfulness which bangs The history of this, to him, deplora- over many and many a page, was at ble pilgrimage, was written by him once natural and tender. He left for daily ; and on his return to France he the East full of the pious traditions of published his “ Souvenirs, impressions, his youth, impressed with the still glowpensées, et passages, pendant son voy- ing recollection of the plates in that age en Orient.'
This work has had old Bible which he read on the knees a success almost unparalleled, and yet of his sainted mother, and he took with it has been attacked with vigour by the him his young and admirable wife, and critics of his own, as well as of other his lovely Julia, who was snatched countries. Those criticisms were in from him by a premature and unanticisome cases moderate and correct, but pated death. He bronght back with in others absurd and grotesque. He him to France the pale and lifeless has been accused of exaggeration-but ashes of his child and this volume of the Arabs and the Maronites have since his, which criticism has attacked for its attested to the accuracyofhis statements. want of method and of pbilosophy, was He has been accused of being an aris- the last sigh uttered by a father at the tocrat, because he travelled like a gen. tomb of his darling. If the book be thus tleman, and was generous and compas- read, criticism will be silent
and the sionate. He was accused of being so heart will alone speak to testify its sym“ universally benevolent” as to dimin. pathy as well as its admiration. As ish the force and effect of his praises, we follow the poet from Malta to the and this was because he described vir. coasts of Greece, to the ruins of Athens, tue as well as vice, and goodness and to Syria, and to Palestine, we are prebeauty, as mere moral beauty, where- sent with him in all his joys, his hapever he met it. And then, lastly, he piness, his domestic life, his affections, was accused of purchasing, by his gifts and his bright and glowing prospects. and courteousness, the praises of the His magnificent excursion made with Maronite sheiks, of the Arab hordes, of his daugliter in the plains of Syria, Abougosh, and of Lady H. Stanhope, causes the soul to vibrate, and the the niece of Pitt and the queen of the heart to be glad ; and it is only when desert; and this because he was re- that daughter is torn from his arms, ceived by them with respect, or treated that he thus describes his desolation by them with kindness. Thus wrote and his woe. There is nothing supeCharles Nodier, who ought to have rior to the following lines, (in his poem known and written better. But the called “ Gethsemene," where he lost book of De Lamartine is a beautiful his Julia), in any poem in any lanbook, an ornament to the literature of guage. the country, a title to glory and fame
“ Maintenant tout est mort dans ma maison aride :
Deux yeux toujours pleurant sont toujours devant moi ;
Baise sa main sous la douleur !”.
We cannot consent, then, to subject the reason, and the more it is known the “ Souvenirs, 8c. of the East,” of and studied by both, the more it will M. De Lamartine to the ordinary be cherished. tests of criticism. The work must be For a long period of time De Lajudged of by the heart, as well as by martine has been preparing and com