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Vicomte Chateaubriand, the style of while it cramped the bolder Alights of which, he informs us, is sometimes imagination, and forbade a genuine " affected and turgid,” in which we association with the wild mysteries of perfectly agree; “but," continues our nature, gare to almost all that was author, "amidst all his faults, we can written a neatness and correctness of always perceive the man of genius;" expression, a terseness and a tournure, for our own part, we cannot boast of that redeemed it from the fault of rugan equally pleasing result of the exer- ged carelessness, so common in Engtion of our critical optics ;-if, for lish composition. In comedy, which “ genius," we should read “ affecta- seems to find its natural soil in the tion,” we would willingly subscribe smiling land of France, and its most to the opinion. From these writers appropriate guardians amongst a people M. Ventouillac passes to the litera- of spirits so quick and volatile, we ture of the present day; but, as if con- have nothing to do but adinit the suscious that he had already extended periority of the French writers; yet his essay far enough, he rather sud- it is worthy of observation, that, in denly draws the curtain upon a very the comedy of nature, which we call interesting period, and leaves us to re- humour, they can shew nothing by gret that he had not dwelt, with rather the side of which we should blush to more fulness of detail, upon a subject place the productions of Fielding or which the preceding part of his sketch Goldsmith, while in the comedy of entitles us to believe he would have art-in wit and repartee-in drôlerie examined with candour and good and équivoque-in sparkling and artisense. He alludes, indeed, but no ficial sprightliness, they are far and more than alludes, to the change which away beyond us. Again, they boast is going on in the political and literary to take the lead of us in their sermons; character of the French ; a change but we have a word to say to them on which may perhaps rush into some ex- this head. True it is, that our orthotremes, ere it setiles down into esta- dox divines, our profound and serious blished usage, but which, as it is cal- men, who teach in colleges, or in culated to promote the reign of nature crowded cities, with parish beadles and of truth, over affectation and man- pacing up and dowu the aisles of the nerism, is as interesting in its progress, churches, are considerably dull at as it will be beneficial in its results. times, and deliver their treatises on re
It is somewhat singular that though ligion, as if it had no more to do with the French have a word (l'abandon) the nearts and feelings of men, than which signifies more than any oné mathematics ; and it is also true, that English word, the freedom from the they have managed these matters betconstraint of rule, yet perfect freedom, ter in France. They have not been (we speak not of licentious madness, wanting in a better attention to the which is not of nature, and by excess subject, so far as it can be made a destroys itself,) natural freedom of matter of art; and their rhetorical arthought and expression, was, until of tifice-their well-contrasted pictures, late, scarcely conceived amongst them. and their studied, yet animated apIt was not that they were conscious peals to feeling, are no doubt better of any restraint ; bui they wrote their ihan a dull argument upon a science, books, as they made their bows, with a the leading principles of which few mistaken notion that the excellence of men understand, and in which still politeness and of literature, lay in the fewer cordially agree ;- but could improved manner of doing things after France shew us a Whitfield ? Could the established rule. As there was one France shew us a multitude of ten form of politeness for the court, ano- thousand men, assembled in the open ther for the coffee-house, and another air, the souls of the whole mass moved for the streets, so there was a style for as the soul of one man, by an awful, each department of literature, and he deep, and calm emotion of religious who, in either case, endeavoured to folfeeling ? Could they point out to us low nature rather than les règles, was, a man, who, triumphing over all rules by unanimous consent, convicted of of art, and trusting boldly to the com, barbarism. As, however, there is in mon sympathies of our nature, couldl this world nothing of unmixed good, make the universal heart of the mul. so there is little of upmixed evil, and titude swell like the sea, when, before this habit of attention to the rules, the storm arises, it slowly heaves the VOL. XXVI, NO. CLV.
enormous bulk of its waters, but does visits the mind of a criminal more free not break into waves ? If our English quently before than after his conpreachers have been inferior, it is be- demnation-once condemned, the horcause, in their important opportunities rible contemplation of death is all in for the exertion of the power of genius, all. There may be remorse in his they have too little followed nature. sensations, but he knows it not-dis
But to return to the modern litera. tinguishes it not as remorse—he thinks ture of France ;-the advocates for of his punishment, not of his crime. writing by rule have now met with But what is most new throughout practical adversaries, who are likely this French book, is the perception of very much to change the whole chathe true poetical connexion between racter of French literature. The con. visible external things, and internal troversy waxes strong between the feelings and emotions. Hitherto we advocates of the Classique, and the find French writers giving us merely Romantique ; and the latter party, a highly finished picture of external with the wonderfully increased knowo things, and apparently insensible of ledge of English and German lite- the thoughts which lie wrapped up in rature, to support them, are mani- them, but which come forth, when festly gaining ground. We should genius places them in such a situation, not be surprised if, within a few years, that they seem to speak to the occa, Shakspeare were pretty generally un- sion. When the criminal described derstood in France, and the eyes of in Victor Hugo's book is brought from the French being opened, they should his dungeon to the hot exhausted discover the sublime, where but lately crowded court, to hear the verdict of they could only see the ridiculous. the jury; after the painful indifference The vigorous and spirited songs of of the various members of the crowd Beranger shew that things are not is described, and contrasted with his as they were in France; and Victor own agony of suspense, he says-"En Hugo, though he rushes on with face de moi une fenêtre était toute something of the extravagance which grande ouverte. J'entendais rire sur may be expected in the successful le quai les marchandes de fleurs, et leader of a new school, yet is a true au bord de la croisée une jolie petite follower of nature. His “ Dernier plante jaune, toute pénétrée d'un rayon jour d'un condamné” is a very ex- du soleil, jouyait avec le vent duns une traordinary and powerful production, fente de la pierre." -over-wrought certainly, but it is the He allows his mind to dwell for a exaggeration of truth, not the extra- moment upon the possibility of the vagance of affectation. To this story, verdict being against him, and the or transcript of the reflections of a sentence of death being pronounced ; criminal condemned to death, he pre- but instantly his soul rejects with fixes a little comedy by way of pre- loathing the idea of death under face, in which the doctrines of the such circumstances-“ Mais au mois opponents of his style are introduced d'août, à huit heures du matin, un si and ridiculed with that happy piquant beau jour, ces bons jurés; c'est imlevity, in which he is as successful as possible ! Et mes yeux revenaient se the generality of his countrymen, fixer sur la jolie fleur jaune au soleil!” while he surpasses them in the tra- Why is it that this mention of the gedy which follows. “What !" says yellow flower waving in the morning the poet, whom he introduces, speak- breeze, and glancing in the sunbeams, ing of his book—“ Comment intéres- is so affecting? It is that we give it a sait-il? Il a un crime, et pas de language,-we know what it said to remords. J'eusse fait le contraire. the mind of the criminal ; it spoke to J'eusse conté l'histoire de mon con- him of freedom, and the clear sky, and damné; né de parens honnêtes; une the summer wind floating over wide bonne éducation ; de l'amour ; de la plains and vineyards, and gardens full jalousie; un crime qui n'en soit pas of flowers, that, like it, waved in the un; et puis des remords, des remords, breeze, and glanced in the sun ! beaucoup des remords !"
Throughout this little book, the Doubtless, so he would, and have wanderings of the tortured imagina. violated nature at every step. Re- tion of the condemned man are tra. morse, as the author afterwards justo ced and described with great power ly observes in the course of his book, and truth, and the minute circum.
stances which make up the details of ly extravagant. To attempt a reform the misery of a creature in so wretch- in the law by writing a romance, seems ed a situation, are drawn with a cu. an exploit rather more worthy of the rious fidelity, which makes us start Knight of la Mancha, than of a sane back from the picture as from a hor- man in this age, when the Schoolmas. rible reality. Yet after all, M. Hugo's ter and sober reason are said to have criminal is a poor creature, with wo- so much to do with the affairs of men ; manish nerves, and womanish sensi- and the notion that no crime, however bility, with whom we stern English atrocious, should be punished with could have but small sympathy; and death, is certainly more appropriate to though he claims and receives our the dreams of a romance-wriier, than piły, we cannot avoid mingliog it the deliberate judgment of a politician, with some contempt. When will the It is not, however, to be wondered at, French nation be able to afford a tbat be who makes a romance che Thurtell—a man who could turn his vehicle of his politics, should form his pistol round in his friend's brains; politics after the dictates of romance. not in any insane paroxysm of jea- The French press has of late been lousy, or batred, or revenge, but merely deluged with volume after volume of to ascertain satisfactorily that he had memoirs and reminiscences of all sorts completely effected his business—who and conditions of men-and women, could then walk in to his supper of too, connected with Bonaparte's times mutton chops, with the same compo- and government. Some of these are sure as if he had come from giving a feed very good ; but for the mass, it cerof oats to his horse-a clever and acute tainly would be much pleasanter to buy man, too, without any stupid insensi. than to read them through ; though to bility of inind a man who, when seized do neither, would be the most agreeand put on his trial, gets off by heart a able. There are a set of worn out long and eloquent speech, full of the men of pleasure about Paris, who have most solemn and false asseverations of had something to do with political his innocence; not that he clung with matters in former times, and have a desperate eagerness to the hope of esca- strange and morbid satisfaction indwellping, but that, as there was a chance, ing upon these details of intrigue, which it was prudent not to throw it away- are artfully contrived to have a smack of who, when condemned, displayed nei- sensuality about them-butsuch books ther terror nor indifference, neither are only fit for the atmosphere of Paris. exquisite sensibility nor sullen bruta- We heard, some months ago, an ima lity, and at the last swung out of life mense talk about the “Mémoires d'une from the gallows with the settled air Contemporaine," and happening to of a man who feels he has lost the find a bundle of volumes, all with
that game at which he played, and that he title, upon our table, we took up one may as well pay the stake calmly? at random, which proved to be voThere was a true British composure lume seventh, and opening it some. about the unutterable atrocity of this where about the middle, we found ihe villain-murderer he was, and a most fair authoress-we are bound by courdetestable murderer too—but his cha- tesy to suppose her fair-sitting down racter belongs to our country as fully to write a treatise respecting the bata as that of our heroes. Hunt and Pro- tle of Waterloo ; having first shrugbert were pitiful wretches, fit for the ged up her shoulders with becoming Bicêtre. Doubtless the agony of modesty at the bare idea of such an ata Hunt's feelings until his reprieve came, tempt, but presently afterwards, taking would, if properly divided into chape heart of grace, and falling to, in right ters, make a good romance; but we earnest. Then she makes a discovery, should be sorry that any Englishman which she is kind enough to commu. as clever as M. Hugo should not be nicate to the public in manner folable to find a better subject.
lowing:Some passages in M. Hugo's ro- “Quand mon coeur est fortement mance bint that it has a political ob- ému, les pensées m'étouffent, et ma ject, and that a desire to induce the plume, brûlante comme mon cour, abolition of the punishment of death peut à peine en exprimer la chalereuse has been the motive for writing it. If abondance." such be indeed the author's view, the Imagine to yourself, gen.le reailer, means and the end are about equals the pleasure and profit of reading through seven volumes, half politics, But we have wandered far away and half scandal, written by a person from M.Ventouillac's “French Libraa whose thoughts stifle her, when her rian,” which led us into these rambling heart is moved, and whose pen, on observations. He promises some imfire, even as the heart aforesaid, can provements for future editions, should scarcely express the warm abundance they be called for, and we hope he of it, that is to say, the before-men. will soon be under the necessity of tioned heart !
redeeming his pledge.
THE OLD GENTLEMAN'S TEETOTUM.
At the foot of the long range of the George Syms had long enjoyed a Mendip hills, standeth a village, which, monopoly in the shoemaking and cobfor obvious reasons, we shall conceal bling line, (though latterly two oppothe precise locality of, by bestowing sitionists had started against him,) thereon the appellation of Stockwell. and Peter Brown was a man well to do It lieth in a nook, or indentation, of the in the world, being " the man wot” mountain; and its population may be shod theraw-boned horses before men, said, in more than one sense of the tioned, “ him and his father, and word, to be extremely dense, being grandfather," as the parish-clerk said, confined within narrow limits by “ for time immemorial." These two rocky and sterile ground, and a brawl worthies were regaling themselves, as ing stream, which ever and anon as- was their wonted custom, each with sumes the aspect of an impetuous ri- his pint, upon a small table, which ver, and then dwindles away into a was placed, for their accommodation, plaything for the little boys to hop before the said bench. It was a fine
The principal trade of the evening in the last autumn; and we Stockwellites is in coals, which certain could say a great deal about the beauof the industrious operative natives tiful tints which the beams of the set. sedulously employ themselves in ex- ting sun shed upon the hills' side, and tracting from our mother earth, while undulating distant outline, and how others are engaged in conveying the the clouds
appeared of a fiery red, and, “ black diamonds” to various adja. anon, of a pale yellow, had we leisure cent towns, in carts of sundry shapes for description : but neither George and dimensions. The horses engaged Syms nor Peter Brown heeded these in this traffic are of the Rosinante spe- matters, and our present business is cies, and, too often, literally raw-bon with them. ned ; inasmuch, that it is sometimes a They had discussed all the village grievous sight to see them tugging, news--the last half of the last pipe and a woful thing to hear their mas- had been puffed in silence, and they ters swearing, when mounting a steep were reduced to the dilemma wherein ascent with one the aforesaid loads. many a brace of intimate friends have
Wherever a civilized people dwell, found themselves--they had nothing there must be trade ; and, consequent to talk about. Each had observed ly, Stockwell hath its various artisans, three times that it was very hot, and who ply, each in his vocation, to sup- each had responded three times ply the wants of others; and, more- “ Yes, it is." They were at a perfect over, it hath its inn, or public house, stand-still--they shook out the ashes a place of no'small importance, having from their pipes, and yawned simul. for its sigo a swinging creaking board, taneously. They felt that indulgence, whereon is emblazoned the effigy of a however grateful, is apt to cloy, even roaring, red, and rampant Lion. High under the elm-tree, and the red ramtowering above the said Lion, are the pant lion. But, as Doctor Watts says, branches of a solitary elm, the foot of “ Satan finds some mischief still, which is encircled by a seat, espe
For idle hands to do," cially convenient for those guests and they agreed to have “ another whose taste it is to “ blow a cloud" in pint,” which Sally, who was ever ready the open air ; and it is of two indivic at their bidding, brought forth with, duals, who were much given thereon and then they endeavoured to rally; to enjoy their “otium cum dignitate," but the effort was vain-the thread of that we are about to speak.
conversation was broken, and they could not connect it, and so they sip- I, neither," quoth George $yms; ped and yawned, till Peter Brown ob- “ but it seems easy enough to learn." served, " It is getting dark.”—“Ay," "Oh, ho!" said the stranger ; “you replied George Syms.
think so, do you? But, let me tell At this moment an elderly stranger, you, that there's a great deal more in of a shabby.genteel appearance, ap- it than you imagine. There he is, you proached the Lion, and enquired see, with as many sides as a modern the road to an adjoining village. politician, and as many colours as an “ You are late, sir,” said George Algerine. Come, let us have a game! Syms.-"Yes," replied the stranger, This is the way!” and he again set the “ I am ;" and he threw himself on teetotum in motion, and capered about the bench, and took off his hat, and in exceeding glee." He, he, he !" wiped his forehead, and observed, uttered George Syms; and “ Ha, ha, that it was very sultry, and he was ha !” exclaimed Peter Brown; and, quite tired.-" This is a good house," being wonderfully tickled with the odsaid Peter Brown ; " and if you are dity of the thing, they were easily not obliged to go on, I wouldn't, if I persuaded by the stranger just to take were you.”—“ It makes little differ. a game together for five minutes, while ence to me,” replied the stranger; he stood by as umpire, with a stop“and so, as I find myself in good com. watch in his hand. pany, here goes !" and he began to call Nothing can be much easier than about him, notwithstanding his shab- spinning a teetotum, yet our two by appearance, with the air of one Stockwellites could scarcely manage who has money in his pocket to pay his the thing for laughing ; but the strane way.--" Three make good company," ger stood by, with spectacles on nose, observed Peter Brown." Ay, ay," looking alternately at his watch and said thestranger. “Holla there! bring the table, with as much serious inte. me another pint! This walk has made rest as though he had been witnessing, mc confoundedly thirsty. You may and was bound to furnish, a report of as well make it a pot—and be quick !" a prize-fight, or a debate in the House
Messrs Brown and Syms were great- of Commons. ly pleased with this additional guest When precisely five minutes had at their symposium; and the trio sat elapsed, although it was Peter Brown's and talked of the wind, and the wea. spin, and the teetotum was yet going ther, and the roads, and the coal trade, its rounds, and George Syms had calland drank and smoked to their hearts' cd out yellow, he demurely took it content, till again time began to hang from the table and put it in his pocket; heavy, and then the stranger asked and then, returning his watch to his the two friends, if ever they played at fub, walked away into the Red Lion, teetotum._"Play at what?" asked Pe. without saying so much as good-night. ter Brown." Play at what?" enqui. The two friends looked at each other red George Syms. "At tee-to-tum,” in surprise, and then indulged in a replied the stranger, gravely, taking a very loud and hearty fit of laughter ; pair of spectacles from one pocket of and then paid their reckoning, and his waistcoat, and the machine in went away, exceedingly merry, which question from the other. “ It is an they would not have been, had they excellent game, I assure you. Rare understood properly what they had sport, my masters !” and he forthwith been doing. began to spin his teetotum upon the In the meanwhile the stranger had table, to the no small diversion of entered the house, and began to be George Syms and Peter Brown, who “ very funny” with Mrz Philpot, the opined that the potent ale of the ramp- Jandlády of the Red Lion, and Sally, ing Red Lion had done its office. the purveyor of beer to the guests "Only see how the little fellow runs thereof; and he founıl it not very dif. about!" cried the stranger, in appa. ficult to persuade them likewise to rent ecstasy." Holla, there! Bring take a game at teetotum for five mia lantern! There he goes, round and nutes, which he terminated in the round-and now he's asleep—and now same unceremonious way as that una he begins to reel- wiggle waggle- der the tree, and then desired to be down he tumbles! What colour, for shewn the room wherein he was to a shilling ?"-" I don't understand sleep. Mrs Philpot immediately, con. the game,” said Peter Brown."Nor trary to her usual custom, jumped up