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M. de Villèle's administration? or, after having slept during more than a quarter of a century, do we now awake to find the world in the state in which it was when Paul Louis Courier wrote the "Pamphlet des Pamphlets," and M. de Montlosier published his "Mémoire à Consulter?" The spirit which is abroad now breathes in the same direction, at all events. Such is the evil of passion,-it produces passion in its turn; party spirit, like Cadmus, sows around itself a crop of antagonists, who destroy each other as soon as they feel strong enough to do so.
The last few years had revived in France the strongest hopes of the Ultramontane party. Coming after all the vagaries of Red-Republicanism, and appearing once more in the broad daylight, in the midst of a society sick of political upheavings, and anxious for order and repose, the Jesuits obtained an easy triumph. As usual, the hour of prosperity found them wanting: not satisfied with recovering their former position, they began in their pamphlets, in their books, from the pulpit, in the columns of the "Univers Religieux," the most furious attacks against all the writers who had been in any manner connected with the eighteenth century, and had defended either the traditions of Gallicanism, the doctrines of Port-Royal, or the principles of the Constitutionalists of 1789. The finishing stroke was given by M. Nicolardot. This gentleman's volume, entitled " Ménage et Finances de Voltaire," was written with the express purpose of exhibiting in the most odious light the Encyclopédist school of metaphysicians. As we have already said, it is one of the great evils of party-spirit, that it kindles a flame which speedily gains ground, and spreads desolation every where. Seeing the insults daily heaped upon the heroes of the last century, and the ideas they have introduced; finding a pack of ill-favoured men in bands and cassock busily engaged in extolling the spirit of religious persecution, and endeavouring to destroy every noble and generous sentiment. in the human heart, M. Lanfrey shut himself up in his study, surrounded by all the writers and thinkers of the eighteenth century,-Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, D'Alembert. Such were the men from whose works he sought counsel; and at last, after due preparation, was published the brochure we are now considering,-one of the most violent philippics that can well be imagined, a manifesto, a new declaration of war hurled by the philosophy of infidelity against the tendencies of Ultramontanism. Talk of fanaticism, of intolerance! Why, "L'Eglise et les Philosophes" is fanaticism double-distilled, and intolerance quintessentiated. With a slight alteration, by substituting the names of our two contemporaries for those of La Harpe and Naigeon, we might employ Marie-Joseph Chénier's celebrated epigram :
"Nicolardot fait des athées,
It is really quite amusing to see how Voltaire, especially, can be made to appear either of the purest white or of the deepest black, for the purpose of serving the interests of a clique, or becoming the watchword of a faction. The cool, calm, steady appreciation of M. Bungener, M. Sainte-Beuve, M. Vinet, M. Saint-Marc Girardin, will not do. The philosophe of Ferney, according to M. Nicolardot, was not only a freethinker and a deist, but a thief, a usurer, and a scoundrel. He speculated on the name of Mademoiselle Corneille,
Brief Literary Notices.
he stole a load of wood from President de Brosses, and lent money at ten per cent. Thereupon comes M. Lanfrey, who, with his "Audi alteram partem," proceeds to canonize the author of "La Pucelle." On the very first page of his work we find the singular proposition: "Civilization, that offspring of the eighteenth century!" What do our readers think of such a statement? Before the birth of Voltaire and the speeches of Mirabeau, the world existed not; it was necessary that the "Philosophical Dictionary" should appear, to induce men to leave their primæval forests, and live together in civilized communities. The Golden Age dawned upon this planet about the year 1700, and the first words which men learnt to pronounce were taken from the "Déclaration des Droits de l'Homme." This is, seriously, M. Lanfrey's assertion; he leaves Christianity utterly out of the question; he forgets the Middle Ages, the civilizations of Greece and of Rome; and he introduces us at once to Père La Chaise, Louis XIV., and the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. His book, we acknowledge, was the legitimate consequence of the Jesuitical canting we have had lately the misfortune to witness; but it is written in an exaggerated style, full of blunders and of errors which it does not require much historical knowledge to rectify. There is no depth in the work; the author glances at almost every thing, yet he does nothing but glance; if he gives anecdotes, those he selects are stale bons mots, already published a hundred times before; when he passes judgment upon those who are unfortunate enough not to share his opinions,-Kant, for instance,-his verdicts prove that he can only have skimmed over the books he pretends to criticize. There is another thing which requires to be noticed. Any person at all acquainted with the history of the eighteenth century, is well aware that the camp of the philosophers was far from exhibiting that harmony and that entente cordiale which might have been supposed to prevail amongst them. "Whoever loves Jean Jacques," said Voltaire," does not love me." But M. Lanfrey is not a man to stick at such trifles. He has found the secret of reconciling the most serious differences; and, with his enthusiastic pen, he describes the gathering of the infidels of the last century as a sort of Pantheon, of "Happy Land," where the "Contrat Social" and the "Poem on Natural Religion" have adjusted all their squabbles,-nought is to be found but smiles, embraces, and cordial poignées de main. The contrast to this beautiful picture springs quite naturally from the conspiracy at present organized against the "benefactors of humanity." (!) Shame upon M. Saint-Marc Girardin, M. Sainte-Beuve, and M. Nisard! Like three condottieri, or rather like three slaves of superstition, they have pledged themselves to destroy Rousseau's character, they have sold their talent and their dignity to the obscurantism of the Priests. M. Lanfrey is on the alert, most fortunately: Catiline, Cethegus, and Lentulus shall be expelled from Rome, and the author of the "Nouvelle Heloise" rescued from the daggers of the conspirators.
M. Lanfrey is very loud in his defence of philosophy; he scarcely talks of any thing else, and he is always clamouring for the claims of the human thought. We may here observe, first, that for a man who seems so anxiously to advocate intellectual freedom, his book is a great deal too dogmatic, it is too much like laying down the law. He delivers his opinions in the midst of thunder and lightning.
In the second place, the philosophy which he advocates is not the spiritualism of Descartes, that doctrine which, under the pen of M. Cousin, has at least the merit of appealing to the noble elements of our nature. No, M. Lanfrey, we are sorry to say, would lead us back again to the grossest schemes of D'Holbach and Diderot; he takes his religion from the " Systéme de la Nature," and calls the "Theodicy" of Leibnitz a jeu d'esprit. The eclectic school of our times had endeavoured to bring about a reconciliation between the teachings of revealed truth and the data of metaphysical speculation. M. Lanfrey gives up the attempt, proclaims it to be a mystification, a piece of humbug, and compares it to the "exhibition of a lusus nature with two heads for the amusement of the multitude."
We shall proceed no further in our critique. The work we have just been noticing, although intrinsically of very little merit, has created a perfect sensation. We do not feel surprised at this; it is extremely remarkable as a sign of the times. There is, evidently, an immense amount of hatred accumulating in France against the insolence and the pretensions of the clerical party. At the very first opportunity, an explosion cannot but take place; and, from the nature of M. Lanfrey's volume, we may foretell that it will be of the most violent description. So true it is, that when a nation does not acknowledge the truths of the Gospel, superstition and atheism are the two poles between which it must always be oscillating.
Cours de Littérature Dramatique. Par M. Saint-Marc Girardin, Professeur à la Faculté des Lettres de Paris. Vols. I.-III. Paris: Charpentier.
It will, perhaps, seem almost a paradox to many of our readers, if we recommend a Course of Lectures on Dramatic Literature, as deserving to take a place, side by side on the same shelf, with the moral essays of Abbadie, Nicole, and La Placette; and yet we do not hesitate to make this assertion on behalf of Professor Saint-Mare Girardin. Let any one take up the three volumes which form the subject of the present article, read them carefully, and judge for himself.
Literary criticism has assumed, in France at least, two totally distinct shapes. Those who are acquainted with the feuilletonistes and lecturers of the Napoleonic era, will remember the works of Geoffroy, Dussaulx, Lemercier, and Suard, as furnishing tolerable examples of ingenuity and acute observation, applied to the niceties of verbal criticism. This was all these gentlemen could do. The pressure of public events lay too heavy upon the generations whose life-blood stained the battle-fields of Austerlitz, Wagram, and Eylau, to allow them much time for the profound study of the human heart; besides, it appears very doubtful whether the free discussion of psychological subjects would have been tolerated by the Government, even from a Professor of Belles Lettres. The Restoration, however, brought about another state of things; and the extraordinary intellectual revolution which took place between 1829 and 1836, under the name of Romanticism, substituted in the domain of æsthetics the analysis of moral principles, and a reference to the laws of right and wrong, instead of the felicitous, but comparatively useless, weighing of words and syllables, the traditional stock in trade of the old school.
Brief Literary Notices.
M. Saint-Marc Girardin was appointed Professor at the Sorbonne at the very time when the new dramatists seemed to be-to use the political jargon-masters of the situation. MM. Ponsard and Emile Augier had not yet given the signal of a reaction to the eternal axioms of decency and of taste; and, amidst the mad enthusiasm with which la jeune France applauded M. Dumas' "Antony," M. Gaillardet's "Tour de Nesle," and M. Victor Hugo's "Lucrèce Borgia," it was, we can assure our readers, almost an act of heroism in any one, to stand up and protest, either in a lecture-room, or from the columns of a newspaper. This M. Saint-Marc Girardin was determined to do, and, for the space of twenty years, he manfully, and without interruption, defended the Thermopyla of sound literature against the barbarians. More fortunate than Leonidas of old, he has seen his efforts crowned with success; the very fanatics who, not long ago, denounced Racine as too "slow" for the nineteenth century, are the first to gather around him, and to bestow upon him their well-deserved applause.
It is impossible to form a complete estimate of M. Saint-Marc Girardin's powers, except for those who have heard him. The delivery, the tone of voice, the coup d'œil of the Professor, go for a great deal in the effect produced upon the audience; and, in addition to the real substantial merits of the Lectures, such as they appear when perused leisurely in the seclusion of the study, one must needs make some allowance for many incidents which, suggested at the moment, and often arising necessarily from the feelings both of the orator and the hearers, cannot, of course, find their way into the pages of a volume. Enough, nevertheless, remains to assist the reader in forming a correct appreciation of M. Saint-Marc Girardin; and this appreciation, we assert it most confidently, can have only one issue, namely, that of stamping him as a critic of the very highest order.
The "Cours de Littérature Dramatique" is a reprint, corrected and revised, of the Lectures delivered at the Sorbonne by the author. We have called them "Lectures," the more correct name would perhaps be Causeries; there is nothing in the least pedantic about them, and we believe that one of the great reasons of M. Saint-Marc Girardin's success with young men is the familiar, the cordial, manner with which he addresses them. He never speaks, as it were, ex cathedrá; his appeals are those of a friend, not of a dry and stern censor. The influence he exercises upon his auditors will seem extraordinary to those who are aware how unsparing he is in his condemnation of the vices and follies which have been so fashionable with la jeune France. No one so clever as he in deducing a moral lesson from the analysis of a character or the critical examination of a play; no one so judicious in pointing out the union which exists between the beautiful and the true. M. Saint-Marc Girardin's programme as a lecturer is one you would in vain look for, except, perhaps, in the pages of M. de Chateaubriand and the brilliant sketches of M. Villemain. Instead of taking, as his post of observation, any special drama of Racine, Corneille, or Molière, and examining, for instance, how far the dramatis persona of Roxana, Chimène, or Sganarelle are in accordance with Boileau's conceptions or the traditions of scholastic goût, he makes the human soul his stand-point, selects one particular passion,-say, that of maternal love,
-and, after having described its nature, its bearings, its distinguishing features, he shows how it has been painted in the master-pieces of human genius, tracing at the same time the want of taste and the blemishes disfiguring the productions of some popular authors to their systematic disregard of the laws which govern our nature. Never was this mode of analysis more à propos in France than at present, when dramatists and romance-writers have done their best to prove that in the struggle for ever going on in the heart of man between passion and duty, all our sympathies belong to those who set at defiance the ordinances of God and the rules of society. M. Saint-Marc Girardin has done much towards pulling down from their usurped pedestals the poètes incompris, the "Rénés," the Werthers," and the "Lélias," of our own times; to use M. SainteBeuve's accurate expression, he has pricked the balloons, let all the air out of them, and exposed them in all their emptiness to the public scorn. Common sense, it will be perceived, is the forte of the "Cours de Littérature Dramatique." We cannot help regretting that the clever author should not have felt the necessity of taking a somewhat higher test; and whilst we would not think of insulting him by comparing him with such critics (so-called) as M. Jules Janin or M. Théophile Gautier, we wish we could find in his otherwise exquisite Lectures that acknowledgment of the principles of revealed religion which gives so much weight to the productions of another writer,the late M. Vinet.
In the beginning of January last, M. Saint-Marc Girardin appeared once more in that Sorbonne amphitheatre, which for the last twentyfive years has become for him the scene of an uninterrupted series of triumphs. He was about, he said, to speak of Racine; and the mere announcement of the subject he had selected drew forth from his auditors the most deafening cheers. Since then his brilliant improvisation, and the soundness of his taste, have been preparing from week to week fresh materials for another volume; and we are sure that the issuing of a fourth series of Lectures from the same author will be hailed with universal delight. We may as well say that besides his duties as a Professor, M. Saint-Marc Girardin finds time also to write articles both in the "Journal des Débats" and the "Revue des deux Mondes."
Real-Encyclopädie, für Protestantische Theologie und Kirche. Herausgegeben von Dr. J. J. Herzog. Drittes Band, Erste Hälfte. 8vo. Stuttgart and Hamburg: Rudolf Besser. London: Williams and Norgate.
ONE of the most valuable contributions to the theological literature of the present day is that of the "Encyclopædia of Protestant Theology and Church History," edited by Dr. Herzog. The first half of the third volume is now before us, and gives us the opportunity of referring to the merits of this singularly useful and comprehensive work.
The portion now under notice fully sustains the character of the previous volumes, and is equally marked by sound scholarship and adaptation to the purposes of practical utility. Those of our readers who may not have had the opportunity of becoming acquainted with