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disposition to doubt and misinterpret, where philosophy does manifestly agree with the facts recorded in holy writ.
The history of the deluge, as recorded in Genesis, is amply proved by the researches of geologists, to be substantially correct. Genesis informs us that "the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth ; and all the high hills under the whole heaven, were covered; fifteen cubits and upward did the waters prevail; and the mountains were covered.” It is obvious, then, to any candid mind, that the scripture relates it as a general deluge, for, unless we suppose the absurdity, that the mountains were but fifteen cubits high, it covered the mountains fifteen cubits and upward.
Now, what does Cuvier say?That if there be any thing determined in geology, it is that the surface of our globe was • subject to a vast and sudden revolution not further back than Efrom five to six thousand years; that it left the bottom of the ' former sea dry, and formed on it the countries now inhabited.” It appears, then, that, at least, the present continents, the countries now inhabited by living beings, were covered by this former sea, and that it swallowed up whatever countries previously existed, so that the whole globe must have been uuder water. “The most superficial strata, those deposites of mud and clayey
sand mixed with round Aints, transported from distant coun'tries, and filled with fossil remains of land animals, unknown
or foreign to the country,” and which are described by Dr. Buckland, under the name of diluvium “form at present, in the eyes of all geologists, (says the Baron) the most evident proof of the immense inundation which was the last catastrophe of this globe.” Can any one, then, reasonably doubt, that this last * diluvium” of Dr. Buckland is identical with the deluge of the sacred writings ?-especially when it is considered, how nearly they agree in time.
As the earth was at first in a state of fusion, it is supposed that the interior of it still is so, that nothing but the surface or outer crust has hardened by cooling, and this not to any very great depth in comparison to the whole mass, and that this molten centre is still engendering and, at times, discharging volumes of vapour and lava through the volcanoes, which are thus considered the “safety valves" of the world. It is well known that the discharge is sometimes so powerful as to blow off almost the entire mountain under which the crater is formed. Indeed, it is the discharge of the crater itself which forms the volcanic mountain in the first instance. There are about two hundred of these vents existing in regular series through
the earth. It often happens that the lava cools on the surface, so as to close the mouth of the crater. The elastic vapours, then, engendered by the action of these internal fires, lie bound within their prison, until they collect force enough to break their way through, when they have at times exploded with such violence as to sweep at once the whole mountain from its base. Some geologists think that the eruption of volcanoes is mainly produced by the access of sea-water to the volcanic bed, which beiog immediately evaporated, in the shape of steam, breaks its way to the surface.
The modern discovery of the tremendous power of steam has doubtless given popularity to this notion. The probability seems to be, that steam, nitre, and all the various gases that may be generated by heat, are the active agents in earthquakes and volcanoes, and not any single power of this kind. That they, or some of these, are the causes of earthquakes, &c. is very certain. The volcanic vents are said to lie in regular chains through the different parts of the world, and if they did not exist, it is possible that the globe itself might be riven asunder by the violence of these internal fires, as they would then accumulate their vapours, until the solid external coating of the earth would cease to have sufficient strength to confine them.
“What an immense field for reflection (to use the words of the English editor of the Animal Kingdom) is opened to the mind of the philosopher, by the survey of the discoveries to ' which fossil osteology, (we would say geology,) has conducted ‘us !” We read in the successive strata, the successive efforts
of creative energy from the sterile masses of primitive forma'tion, up to the fair and fertile superficies of the globe, enriched • with animal and vegetable decomposition. We find that there ' was a time when life did not exist on this planet; we are clear• ly enabled to draw the line between inanimate and organized 'matter, and to perceive that the latter is the result of a distinct
principle, of soinething superadded to, and not inherent in the • foriner. We also contemplate a progressive system of organic * being, graduating towards perfection through innumerable ages. • We find the simplest animals in the earliest secondary forma• tions; as we ascend, the living structure grows more compli• cated, the organic developement becomes inore and more com• plete, until it terminates in man, the most perfect animal we • behold. And shall we say, that this march of creation has yet • arrived at the farthest limits of its progress ? Are the genera
tive powers of nature exhausted, or can the Creator call no 'new beings from her fertile womb? We cannot say so. Revo
•lution has succeeded revolution, races have been successively an. nihilated, to give place to others. New revolutions may yet suc
ceed, and man, the self-styled lord of the creation, be swept from the surface of the earth, to give place to beings as much superior "to bim as he is to the most elevated of the brutes. The short experience of a few thousand years, a mere drop in the ocean of
eternity, is insufficient to warrant a contrary conclusion ;'still • less will the contemplation of past creations, and the existing . constitution of nature, justify the proud assumption that man is 'the sole end and object of the grand system of animal existence." No, it would only justify the assumption, which we must all acknowledge, that man is an egregious egotist.
It would be of great benefit to American science if we could procure correct translations of more of the great works of foreign writers; but it seems almost as difficult to find a good translator as a fine original thinker. The translation before us is careless and slovenly, indeed, so much so, that before we had half finished our labours, we repented not having made use entirely of the original. The translator sometimes makes use of flagrant gallicisms, and, at other times, does not give the exact meaning of the original. We would attribute his defects, however, rather to carelessness than want of ability to do justice to our author. We would recommend to him strictly to revise and correct before he ventures again before the public.
ART. IV.--. Messéniennes et Poésies Diverses. Par M. C.
DELAVIGNE. Septième Edition. Augmenteé du Dithyrambe sur la Naissance du Roi de Rome. 1 tom. 12mo. Bruxelles. 1823. 2. Théatre de M. C. DELAVIGNE de L'Académie Française.
A Paris. 4 tom. 12mu. 1826. 3. Marino Faliero. Par M. Casimir DELAVIGNE, de L'Académie Française. Bruxelles. 1829.
“BERANGER, n'est il pas avec Casimir Delavigne, le poēte adoptif de la nation ?"* Such is the high tribute of praise
* Revue Encyclopédique, Jan. 1826.
awarded to these two writers, by one of the first of European periodicals. In a former nuinber of this Review, we allotted a few pages to a discussion of the merits of Béranger, and it is now our purpose to render similar justice to his rival, Delavigne.
Contemporaries, poets peculiarly national, and lyrists, these two authors are necessarily, in many respects, rivals; they do, in fact, divide the attention and applause of the French Jiterary world; while, at the same time, although the matter and the (nominal) manner of their verse is the same, it would be much easier to find points of disagreement than of harmony between them.
The poetry of Béranger consists entirely of songs and a few odes. Delavigne has devoted himself equally to the drama.
The former gives his productions a less assuming title than they might claim, and terms them simply "Chansons.” The latter arrogates for bis, an appellation never appropriated since the days of Anacharsis, and calls them“ Messéniennes.” Béranger's poetry is sometimes pathetic, but commonly gay, spirited, and never devoid of a peculiar elasticity. Delavigne's verse, almost uniformly elegiac, is grave, stately, and if more dignified, less remarkable for grace. Both national poets, even the current of their feelings often pursues widely different channels. Delavigne eulogizes Napoleon in power, and derides him when falJen; Béranger ridicules him while Emperor, commiserates his fall, and weeps over bis island tomb. Delavigne, in 1816, upon the return of the Bourbons, discovers that they were the very sovereigns" qu'ilregretta vingt ans;" and, in 1830, composes “La Parisienne.” Béranger, in 1814, issues his "Cocarde Blanche," and more consistent than bis competitor, in 1828, sings his bitter satire of “Charles le Simple."
Their respective fortunes differ as much as their characters or their works. Béranger, a clerk, with a miserable salary, has been thrice prosecuted, and twice in prisoned ; Delavigne, a successful dramatist, in a country where that branch of literature is peculiarly well paid, occupies a fauteuil in the academy, and is placed, no doubt, equally beyond the fear of Bourbons and bailiffs. In short, the one is, in some sense, the martyr, and the other the poet laureate of liberty.
A brief examination of the works which constitute the text of this article, will, however, enable us to form a better judgment of their character, and of that of their author, than these desultory and unsupported remarks. As they consist of writings appertaining to two widely different classes of poetry, we will, without reference to the order of time, examine those belonging to each branch separately; and, first, of his lyrical pieces.
VOL. VIII.-N0. 15.
The first volume before us is chiefly made up of twelve poems, termed by their author, “ Messéniennes,” for the following reason :-"Tout le monde a lu, dans le voyage d'Anachar•sis, (ch. xl. p. 34.) les élégies sur les malheurs de la Messé
nie ; j'ai cru pouvoir emprunter à Barthélemy le titre de 6“ Messéniennes," pour qualifier un genre de poésies nationales, • qu'on n'a pas encore essayé d'introduire dans notre littéra"ture.” This "untried sea" of poetry, of which M. Delavigne imagines himself the first explorer, is evidently what has hitherto been always termed the elegy ; we will not, however, quarrel with that which arises either from a harmless affectation of singularity, or a too great affection for classical models.
The three first of these " Messéniennes,”—for we cheerfully adopt M. Delavigne's nomenclature so far as his own poetry is concerned—which relate to a most interesting portion of French history, and which, perhaps, for that reason, appear to us the best in the volume, were published with a modest envoi in 1815 or 1816. Their author had, at that time, scarcely reached bis majority, (he is said to have been born in 1794,) and they acquired for him, immediately, a very considerable reputation. The first, entitled “ La Bataille de Waterloo,"* commences thus
“Ils ne sont plus, laissez en paix leur cendre ;
Mais un seul jour les a vengés :
Ils sont tous morts pour vous défendre.
N'ont point de pleurs pour la patrie!
Sans force contre vos chagrins,
“Cachez moi ces soldats sous le nombre accablés,
Ces cadavres amoncelés !
De la fureur des nations:
“Ah! ne les pleurons pas ! sur leurs fronts triomphans
*" Cette élégie fut composée au mois de Juillet, 1815.”
N. of D.