Abbildungen der Seite

self boldly before the world, with the cry of the poet upon his lips :

• Voici mon Orient : peuples levez les yeux !'

PARADISE LOST. If ever a literary composition bore the ineffacable impress of meditation and inspiration, it is the Paradise Lost. A moral thought, touching at once the two natures of man ; a terrible lesson, conveyed in sublime verse ; one of the most momentous truths of religion and philosophy, developed in one of the most beautiful fictions of poetry ; the entire scale of creation run over, from its highest to its lowest degree, an action which commences with Jesus and terminates with Satan; Eve, gradually drawn by curiosity, compassion and imprudence, to her perdition ; the first woman in contact with the first devil : such is the scene presented by Milton ; a vast and simple drama, in which all the machinery is spirit ; a magic painting, in which the shadows of darkness steal gradually over all the brighter tints : a poem which at once charms and terrifies !


If the name attached to these lines were a name of note, if the voice which speaks here were a voice of power, we would intreat the young and brilliant talents, on which depends the future lot of a literature, for three ages so magnificent, to reflect how important is their mission, and to preserve, in their manner of writing, the most worthy and severe habitudes. The future - let them think well of it — belongs only to the masters of style. Without referring to the admirable works of antiquity, and confining ourselves to our national literature, try to take from the thought of our great writers the expression which is peculiar to it. Take from Molière his lively, ardent, frank and amusing verse, so well made, so well turned, so well finished ; take from Lafontaine the simple and honest perfection of detail ; take from the phrase of Corneille the vigorous muscle, the strong cords, the beautiful forms of exaggerated vigor, which would have made of the old poet half Roman, halt Spaniard, the Michael Angelo of our tragedy, if the elements of his genius had mingled as much fancy as thought ; take from Racine that touch in his style which resembles Raphael — a touch, chaste, harmonious, and repressed, like that of Raphael, although of an inferior power, quite as pure but less grand, as perfect though less sublime ; take from Fenelon the man, of his age, who had the best sentiment of antiquity that prose, as melodious and severe as the verse of Racine, of which it is the sister ; take from Bossuet the magnificent bearing of his periods ; take from Boileau his grave and sober manner, at times so admirably colored ; take from Pascal that original and

mathematical style, with so much appropriateness in the choice of words, and so much logic in every metaphor ; take from Voltaire that clear, solid, indestructible prose, that crystal prose of Candide and the Philosophical Dictionary ; take from all these great writers that simple attraction —- style ; and of Voltaire, of Pascal, of Boileau, of Bossuet, of Fenelon, of Racine, of Corneille, of Lafontaine, of Molière, of all these masters, what will remain ?

It is style which insures duration to the work, and fame to the poet. Beauty of expression embellishes beauty of thought, and preserves it ; it is at the same time an ornament and armor. Style, to the idea, is like enamel to the tooth.

POLITICS. Politics, said Charles XII., is my sword. It is the art of deception, thought Michiavel. According to Madame de M***, it should be the art of governing men with prudence and virtue. The first definition is that of a madman, the second that of a knave ; and that of Madame de M*** is the only one for an honest man. What a pity that it should be so old, and its application so rare !

QUALIFICATIONS FOR A SOLDIER. Madame de M*** recapitulates, after Folard, the qualities essential to a great captain. For my own part, I distrust these perfect definitions, which would comprehend only the exceptions of human nature. It is quite alarming to see the catalogue of preparatory studies marked out for the apprenticeship of the general; but how many excellent generals have there been who could not even read! It would seem the first condition, the sine qua non of every man destined for the wars, that he should have good eyes, or at least that he should be stout and active. Sure enough! But a crowd of great generals have been one-eyed, or crippled. Philip was one-eyed, lame, and maimed of one hand; Hannibal was one-eyed; Bajazet and Tamerlane — the two thunder-bolts of war, in their age were the one lame, the other half-blind ; Luxembourg was hunchbacked. It seems even that nature, in ridicule of all our calculations, had wished to show us the phenomenon of a general, totally blind, guiding an army, marshalling his troops for battle, and carrying off victories. Such a man was Ziska, chief of the Hussites.


France, England and Russia are in our day the three giants of Europe. Since our recent political convulsions, these colossal nations have held each a peculiar attitude ; England stands upright, France is recovering herself, and Russia for the first time


rising. This last empire — still young, in the centre of an old continent — has grown, during the age, with a wonderful celerity. Its future is of iminense moment in our destinies. It is not impossible that its barbarism will one day re-temper our civilization ; the Russian soil seems to hold a reserve of savage population for our polished regions.

This FUTURE of Russia - at present so important to Europe gives a deep interest to its past. Well to understand what this people will be, one ought carefully to study what it has been. But nothing is more difficult than such a study. We must wander, like a person lost, in a chaos of confused traditions, incomplete narratives, fables, contradictions, and truncated chronicles. The past of this nation is as overshadowed as its sky; and the deserts of its annals are like those of its territory

It is, then, no easy thing to make a good history of Russia. It is no trifling enterprise to traverse this night of time, to compass, among so many contradictory and conflicting narrations, the discovery of truth. The writer must seize boldly by the thread of the labyrinth, dispel its darkness, and, by laborious erudition, light up all the summits of this history. His scrupulous and learned criticism, in combining results, will have need to reestablish causes.


will fix the yet uncertain features of persons and epochs. Surely, it is no easy task to revive, and in review, events that have so long been lost in the lapse of ages.

To be complete, the historian, we think, ought to pay more attention than has hitherto been given to the epoch preceding the invasion of the Tartars ; and to devote perhaps a whole volume to the history of those wandering tribes, which acknowledge the sovereignty of Russia. This labor would doubtless throw much light on the ancient civilization which probably existed in the north ; and the historian would be much aided by the learned researches of Mr. Klaproth.

Lévesque, it is true, in a couple of volumes supplementary to his great work, has already recounted the history of these wandering tribes ; but this subject still looks for a trustworthy historian. It would be necessary to treat more fully, and more sincerely than Lévesque, certain epochs of great interest ; like the famous reign of Catharine, for instance. The historian worthy of the name would brand with the hot iron of Tacitus, and scourge with the lash of Juvenal, this crowned courtezan, to whom the arrogant sophists of the last age paid a homage which they refused to their God and their king ; this regicide queen, who selected, even for the ornaments of her boudoir, pictures of a massacre* and a conflagration.t

* The massacre of the Poles, in the faubourg of Praga.

+ The burning of the Ottoman fleet, in the bay of Tchesme. These two were the only paintings which decorated the boudoir of Catharine,

Doubtless, a good History of Russia would excite a great deal of attention. The future destinies of this empire are now the fruitful sources of general speculation. These northern regions have already often poured out the torrent of their population over Europe. The French of the present day, anong other wonders, have seen pastured, on the green plots of the Tuileries, horses which had been used to browze at the foot of the great wall of China ; and, in the course of events, unexpected vicissitudes have compelled the nations of the south to address to another Alexander the wish of Diogenes — Stand out of our sunshine.'



The sun, slow wheeling o'er th' horizon's verge,

His disk uplifted from the ocean's bed,
At first glanced faintly o'er the purpling surge ;

But soon a flood of full refulgence shed,
Kindling the billows of the summer sea,
While melting vapors left his pathway free.

The misty wreath, above the city hung,

Gleams like a huge tiara in the air ;
Back from the glistening spires the rays are flung,

And from the Gothic windows strangely fair ;
The morning breeze come rushing o'er the bay,
Stirring the wet leaves in its amorous play.

Hark! 't is the robin's warble, as he leaves

His bowered nest to soar with dewy wing ;
While twittering flies the swallow from the eaves,

Skimming the glossy wave, - a happy thing!
Ah! who, for matin melodies like these,
Would not forsake the slumb'rous bed of ease?

And I must emulate the bird's career,

And o'er the briny billow wing my flight;
Welcome the fresh’ning breeze without a fear,

And ride the mounting sea secnre and light.
The wind wails through the cordage, and my boat
Leaps like a charger to the trumpet's note.
Welcome the music of the rising gale !

What though the waves come tumbling from the main ? -
Not o'er my art the tempest shall prevail,

Nor my staunch sea-boat breast the storm in vain.
Bravely she ploughs the surge against the wind,
Her foaming furrow stretching far behind.

Farewell, awhile, ye spires and pinnacles,

Gray crags and glens fast fading o’er the strand
Around me are tall mountains and deep dells,

But not the hills and valleys of the land :
Yet are these billows capp'd with shining foam,
Like snow-clad summits in my mountain home.
Nor seek my eyes the rocky promontories,

Far stretching from the mainland's northern coast
For I am rapt, contemplating the glories

Of waves, careering like a mighty host;
While, like a banner, many-hued and gay,
The lustrous sun-bow sparkles o'er the spray.
Still holds the breeze — the dancing waves rush fast —

And broad and bright the ocean spreads before me,
Reflecting clearly, in its mirror vast,

The azure of the arch that 's bending o'er me.
My gay barque, as a thing of life, is stirred,
And spreads her pinions like a gallant bird.
From far the hovering osprey scans her form,

And plumes herself for combat - but she sweeps
Majestically onward, while a warm,

Bright flood of sunshine on her pennon sleeps.
Well hath she sped me, for I hear no sound
Save the roused billows murmuring around.
All hail, old Ocean ! mightiest element !

Thou type of change, but doomed to no decay ;
Thou wondrous mirror of the firmament -

With stars that shine by night as bright as they
That bind Orion's belt, or o'er thy seas
Shed silvery lustre from the Pleiades.
What are the countless crews that o'er thee ride

To those that slumber ’neath thy faithless breast?
To those that in thy shadowy depths abide,

A quiet population, all at rest ?
Gold from the mines is there, and banners wave
Bleaching and torn within thy briny grave.
We feel thy power, even in thy softest slumbers,

When, like an infant's, comes thy balmy breath ;
And sad and solemn are thy sweetest numbers,

Moaned like a dirge above the home of death.
While the light waves, that o'er thy surface pass,
Roll like the billows of the church-yard grass.
A word is uttered in the water's roar,

That fills the bosom with a deep emotion —
"Tis breathed at midnight, on the stilly shore,

By tiny ripples stealing from the ocean
'Tis shouted by the wild tornado's breath
A word of power ! — it stills the pang of death.
What name is that, in softest accents spoken

At starry midnight, on the sparkling sea?-
Heard in the tempest, when the seal is broken,

When whirlpools yawn, and navies cease to be?
'Tis Hıs, who o'er those waves in safety trod –

The earth proclaims, and Ocean thunders — God! VOL. IX.


« ZurückWeiter »