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ucnary ages; retaining from the former its | than ever attended the arms of Cæsar or Alex generous and elevated feeling, and inhaling ander. from the latter its acute and fearless investi- Though pursuing the same pure and en gation. The last pilgrim, with devout feelings, nobling career; though gifted with the same to the holy sepulchre, he was the first supporter ardent imagination, and steeped in the same of constitutional freedom in France; discard- fountains of ancient lore, no two writers were ing thus from former times their bigoted fury, ever more different than Chateaubriand and and from modern, their infidel spirit; blending Sir Walter Scott. The great characteristic of all that was noble in the ardour of the Crusades, the French author, is the impassioned and with all that is generous in the enthusiasm of enthusiastic turn of his mind. Master of imfreedom.
mense information, thoroughly imbued at once It is the glory of the Conservative Party with the learning of classical and catholic throughout the world, and by this party we times; gifted with a retentive memory, a poetimean all who are desirous in every country to cal fancy, and a painter's eye, he brings to bear uphold the religion, the institutions, and the upon every subject the force of erudition, the liberties of their fathers, that the two greatest images of poetry, the charm of varied scenery, writers of the age have devoted their talents and the eloquence of impassioned feeling. to the support of their principles. Sir Walter Hence his writings display a reach and variety Scott and Chateaubriand are beyond all ques- of imagery, a depth of light and shadow, a tion, and by the consent of both nations, vigour of thought, and an extent of illustration, at the head of the literature of France and to which there is nothing comparable in any England since the Revolution; and they will other writer, ancient or modern, with whom both leave names at which the latest posterity we are acquainted. All that he has seen, or will feel proud, when the multitudes who have read, or heàrd, seem present to his mind, whatsought to rival them on the revolutionary side ever he does, or wherever he is. He illustrates are buried in the waves of forgotten time. It the genius of Christianity by the beauties of is no small triumph to the cause of order in classical learning, inhales the spirit of ancient these trying days, that these mighty spirits, prophecy on the shores of the Jordan, dreams destined to instruct and bless mankind through on the banks of the Eurotas of the solitude every succeeding age, should have proved so and gloom of the American foresis; visits the true to the principles of virtue; and the patriot Holy Sepulchre with a mind alternately demay well rejoice that generations yet unborn, voted to the devotion of a pilgrim, the curiosity while they approach their immortal shrines, of an antiquary, and the enthusiasm of a crusaor share in the enjoyments derived from the der, and combines, in his romances, with the legacies they have bequeathed to mankind, tender feelings of chivalrous love, the heroism will inhale only a holy spirit
, and derive from of Roman virtue, and the sublimity of Christhe pleasures of imagination nothing but ad- tian martyrdom. His writings are less a ditional inducements to the performance of faithful portrait of any particular age or counduty.
try, than an assemblage of all that is grand, Both these great men are now under an and generous, and elevated in human nature. eclipse, too likely, in one at least, to terminate He drinks deep of inspiration at all the founin earthly extinction. The first lies on the tains where it has ever been poured forth to bed, if not of material, at least, it is to be mankind, and delights us·less by the accuracy feared, of intellectual death; and the second, of any particular picture, than the traits of arrested by the military despotism which he genius which he has combined from every so long strove to avert from his country, has quarter where its footsteps have trod. His lately awaited in the solitude of a prison the fate style seems formed on the lofty strains of
of But destined for him by revolutionary violence.* Isaiah, or the beautiful images of the Book o
Job, more than all the classical or modern
literature with which his mind is so amply “Stone walls do not a prison make,
stored. He is admitted by all Frenchmen, of Minds innocent and quiet take
whatever party, to be the most perfect living That for an hermitage.”
master of their language, and to have gained It is in such moments of gloom and depres- and Fenelon. Less polished in his periods,
for it beauties unknown to the age of Bossuet sion, when the fortune of the world seems most and Fenelon. Less polished in his periods, adverse, when the ties of mortality are about less sonorous in his diction, less melodious in to be dissolved, or the career of virtue is on
his rhythm, than these illustrious writers, he the point of being terminated, that the immortal is incomparably more varied, rapid, and ensuperiority of genius and virtue most strongly ergetic; his ideas flow in quicker succession,
his words follow in more striking antithesis; appear. In vain was the Scottish bard extended on the bed of sickness, or the French the past, the present, and the future rise up at patriot confined to the gloom of a dungeon ; once before us; and we see how strongly the their works remain to perpetuate their lasting stream of genius, instead of gliding down the sway over the minds of men; and while their smooth current of ordinary life, has been broken mortal frames are sinking beneath the suffer- and agitated by the cataract of revolution. ings of the world, their immortal souls rise into
With far less classical learning, fewer the region of spirits, to witness a triumph images derived from travelling, inferior inmore glorious, an ascendency more enduring, mind of a less impassioned and energetic cast,
formation on many historical subjects, and a * Sir Walter Scott, at this period, was on his deathbed, our own Sir Walter is far more deeply read in and Chateaubriand imprisoned by order of Louis Philippe. that book which is ever the same the human
Nor iron bars a cage;
heart. This is his unequalled excellencem in a peasant's arm.” Above all, he has unithere he stands, since the days of Shakspeare, formly, in all his varied and extensive producwithout a rival. It is to this cause that his tions, shown himself true to the cause of virtue. astonishing success has been owing. We feel Amidst all the innumerable combinations of in his characters that it is not romance, but character, event, and dialogue, which he has real life which is represented. Every word formed, he has ever proved faithful to the polar that is said, especially in the Scotch novels, star of duty; and alone, perhaps, of the great is nature itself. Homer, Cervantes, Shakspeare, romance-writers of the world, has not left a and Scott, alone have penetrated to the deep line which on his death-bed he would wish substratum of character, which, however dis- recalled. guised by the varieties of climate and govern- Of such men France and England may well ment, is at bottom everywhere the same; and be proud; shining, as they already do, through thence they have found a responsive echo in the clouds and the passions of a fleeting exevery human heart. Every man who reads istence, they are destined soon to illuminate these admirable works, from the North Cape the world with a purer lustre, and ascend to to Cape Horn, feels that what the characters that elevated station in the higher heavens they contain are made to say, is just what where the fixed stars shed a splendid and imwould have occurred to themselves, or what perishable light. The writers whom party has they have heard said by others as long as they elevated--the genius which vice has seduced, lived. Nor is it only in the delineation of are destined to decline with the interests to character, and the knowledge of human nature, which they were devoted, or the passions by that the Scottish Novelist, like his great pre- which they were misled. The rise of new polidecessors, is būt for them without a rival. tical struggles will consign to oblivion the Powerful in the pathetic, admirable in dialogue, vast talent which was engulfed in its contenunmatched in description, his writings capti- tion; the accession of a more virtuous age vate the mind as much by the varied excel-bury in the dust the fancy which was enlisted lencies which they exhibit, as the powerful in the cause of corruption; while these illusinterest which they maintain. He has carried trious men, whose writings have struck root romance out of the region of imagination and in the inmost recesses of the human heart, sensibility into the walks of actual life. We and been watered by the streams of imperishfeel interested in his characters, not because able feeling, will for ever continue to elevate they are ideal beings with whom we have be- and bless a grateful world. come acquainted for the first time when we To form a just conception of the importance began the book, but because they are the very of Chateaubriand's Genius of Christianity, we persons we have lived with from our infancy. must recollect the period when it was pubHis descriptions of scenery are not luxuriant lished, the character of the works it was inand glowing pictures of imaginary beauty, like tended to combat, and the state of society in those of Mrs. Radcliffe, having no resemblance which it was destined to appear. For half a to actual nature, but faithful and graphic por century before it appeared, the whole genius traits of real scenes, drawn with the eye of a of France had been incessantly directed to poet, but the fidelity of a consummate draughts- undermine the principles of religion. The man. He has combined historical accuracy days of Pascal and Fenelon, of Saurin and and romantic adventure with the interest of Bourdaloue, of Bossuet and Massillon, had tragic events; we live with the heroes, and passed away; the splendid talent of the sevenprinces, and paladins of former times, as with teenth century was no longer arrayed in the our own contemporaries; and acquire from support of virtue-the supremacy of the church the splendid colouring of his pencil such a had ceased to be exerted to thunder in the ear vivid conception of the manners and pomp of of princes the awful truths of judgment to the feudal ages, that we confound them, in our come.
come. Borne away in the torrent of corruprecollections, with the scenes which we our-tion, the church itself had yielded to the inselves have witnessed. The splendour of creasing vices of the age; its hierarchy had their tournaments, the magnificence of their become involved in the passions they were dress, the glancing of their arms; their haughty destined to combat, and the cardinal's purple manners, daring courage, and knightly cour-covered the shoulders of an associate in the tesy; the shock of their battlesteeds, the splin- midnight orgies of the Regent Orleans. Such tering of their lances, the conflagration of their was the audacity of vice, the recklessness of castles, are brought before our eyes in such fashion, and the supineness of religion, that vivid colours, that we are at once transported Madame Roland tells us, what astonished her to the age of Richard and Saladin, of Bruce in her youthful days was, that the heaven itand Marmion, of Charles the Bold and Philip self did not open, to rain down upon the guilty Augustus. Disdaining to flatter the passions, metropolis, as on the cities of the Jordan, a or pander to the ambition of the populace, he tempest of consuming fire. has done more than any man alive to elevate While such was there. their character; to fill their minds with the the audacity of crime, philosophic talent lent noble sentiments which dignify alike the cot- its aid to overwhelm the remaining safeguards tage and the palace; to exhibit the triumph of religious belief. The middle and the lower of virtue in the humblest stations over all that orders could not, indeed, participate in the the world calls great; and without ever in- luxurious vices of their wealthy superiors; dulging, a sentiment which might turn them but they could well be persuaded that the faith from the scenes of their real usefulness, bring which permitted such enormities, the religion home to every mind the "might that slumbers which was stained by such crimes, was a sys.
tem of hypocrisy and deceit. The passion for which he published in 1792, in London, while innovation, which more than any other feature the principles of virtue and natural religion characterized that period in France, invaded are unceasingly maintained, he seems to have the precincts of religion as well as the bul doubted whether the Christian religion was warks of the state the throne and the altar; not crumbling with the institutions of society, the restraints of this world and the next, as and speculated what faith was to be established is ever the case, crumbled together. For half on its ruins. But misfortune, that great cora century, all the genius of France had been rector of the vices of the world, soon changed incessantly directed to overturn the sanctity these faulty views. In the days of exile and of Christianity ; its corruptions were repre- adversity, when, by the waters of Babylon, he sented as its very essence; its abuses part of sat down and wept, he reverted to the faith its necessary effects. Ridicule, ever more and the belief of his fathers, and inhaled in powerful than reason with a frivolous age, the school of adversity those noble maxims lent its aid to overturn the defenceless fabric; of devotion and duty which have ever since and for more than one generation, not one regulated his conduct in life. Undaunted, writer of note had appeared to maintain the though alone, he placed himself on the ruins hopeless cause. Voltaire and Diderot, D'Alem- of the Christian faith; renewed, with Hercubert and Raynal, Laplace and Lagrange, had lean strength, a contest which the talents and lent the weight of their illustrious names, or vices of half a century had to all appearance the powers of their versatile minds, to carry rendered hopeless; and, speaking to the hearts on the war. The Encyclopedie was a vast of men, now purified by suffering, and cleansed battery of infidelity incessantly directed against by the agonizing ordeal of revolution, scattered Christianity; while the crowd of licentious far and wide the seeds of a rational and a novelists, with which the age abounded-manly piety. Other writers have followed in Louvet, Crebillon, Laclos, and a host of others the same noble career: Salvandy and Guizot insinuated the poison, mixed up with the have traced the beneficial effects of religion strongest allurements to the passions, and the upon modern society, and drawn from the last most voluptuous seductions to the senses. results of revolutionary experience just and
This inundation of infidelity was soon fol sublime conclusions as to the adaptation of lowed by sterner days; to the unrestrained in Christianity to the wants of humanity; but it dulgence of passion succeeded the unfettered is the glory of Chateaubriand alone to have march of crime. With the destruction of all come forth the foremost in the fight; to have the bonds which held society together ; with planted himself on the breach, when it was the removal of all the restraints on vice or guilt, strewed only with the dead and the dying, and, the fabric of civilization and religion speedily strong in the consciousness of gigantic powers, was dissolved. To the licentious orgies of the stood undismayed against a nation in arms. Regent Orleans succeeded the infernal furies To be successful in the contest, it was indisof the Revolution: from the same Palais Royal pensable that the weapons of warfare should from whence had sprung those fountains of be totally changed. When the ideas of men courtly corruption, soon issued forth the fiery were set adrift by revolutionary changes, when streams of democracy. Enveloped in this the authority of ages was set at nought, and þurning torrent, the institutions, the faith, the from centuries of experience appeals were nobles, the throne, were destroyed; the worst made to weeks of innovation, it was in vain to instruments of the supreme justice, the pas- refer to the great or the wise of former ages. sions and ambition of men, were suffered to Perceiving at once the immense change which work their unresisted way: and in a few years had taken place in the world whom he adthe religion of eighteen hundred years was dressed, Chateaubriand saw, that he must alter abolished, its priests slain or exiled, its Sab- altogether the means by which they were to bath abolished, its rites proscribed, its faith be influenced. Disregarding, therefore, entirely unknown. Infancy came into the world with the weight of authority, laying aside almost out a blessing, age left it without a hope; every thing which had been advanced in supmarriage no longer received a benediction, port of religion by its professed disciples, he sickness was left without consolation; the applied himself to accumulate the conclusions village bell ceased to call the poor to their in its favour which arose from its internal weekly day of sanctity and repose; the village beauty; from its beneficent effect upon society; churchyard to witness the weeping train of from the changes it had wrought upon the mourners attending their rude forefathers to civilization, the happiness, and destinies of their last home. The grass grew in the mankind; from its analogy with the sublimest churches of every parish in France; the tenets of natural religion; from its unceasing dead without a blessing were thrust into vast progress, its indefinite extension, and undecaycharnel-houses; marriage was contracted being youth. He observed, that it drew its supfore a civil magistrate ; and infancy, untaught port from such hidden recesses of the human to pronounce the name of God, longed only heart, that it flourished most in periods of disfor the period when the passions and indul- aster and calamity; derived strength from the gencies of life were to commence.
fountains of suffering, and, banished in all but It was in these disastrous days that Chateau- form from the palaces of princes, spread its briand arose, and bent the force of his lofty roots far and wide in the cottages of the poor. mind to restore the fallen but imperishable From the intensity of suffering produced by faith of his fathers. In early youth, he was at the Revolution, therefore, he conceived the first carried away by the fashionable infidelity hope, that the feelings of religion would ulti cf his times; and in his “ Essais Historiques," mately resume their sway: when the waters
of bitterness were let loose, the consolations the French' nation a happy bon-mot, impiety of devotion would again be felt to be indispen- clothed in a felicitous expression, a felix culpa, sable; and the spirit of the gospel, banished produce a greater effect than volumes of during the sunshine of corrupt prosperity, re- reasoning or metaphysics? Persuade young turn to the repentant human heart with the men that an honest man can be a Christian tears and the storms of adversity.
without being a fool; convince him that he is Proceeding on these just and sublime prin- in error when he believes that none but capuciples, this great author availed himself of chins and old women believe in religion, and every engine which fancy, experience, or poe- your cause is gained; it will be time enough try could suggest, to sway the hearts of his to complete the victory to present yourself readers. He knew well that he was address- armed with theological reasons, but what you ing an impassioned and volatile generation, must begin with is an inducement to read upon whom reason would be thrown away, if your book. What is most needed is a popular not enforced with eloquence, and argument work on religion; those who have hitherto lost, if not clothed in the garb of fancy. To written on it have too often fallen into the effect his purpose, therefore, of re-opening in error of the traveller who tries to get his comthe hearts of his readers the all but extin- panion at one ascent to the summit of a rugged guished fountains of religious feeling, he sum-mountain when he can hardly crawl at its moned to his aid the whole aid which learn-foot--you must show him at every step varied ing, or travelling, or poetry, or fancy, could and agreeable objects; allow him to stop to supply; and scrupled not to employ his gather the flowers which are scattered along powers as a writer of romance, an historian, his path, and from one resting-place to another a descriptive traveller, and a poet, to forward he will at length gain the summit. the great work of Christian renovation. Of “'The author has not intended this work his object in doing this, he has himself given merely for scholars, priests, or doctors; what the following account.*
he wrote for was the men of the world, and “There can be no doubt that the Genius of what he aimed at chiefly were the consideraChristianity would have been a work entirely tions calculated to affect their minds. If you out of place in the age of Louis XIV.; and the do not keep steadily in view that principle, if critic who observed that Massillon would never you forget for a moment the class of readers have published such a book, spoke an un- for whom the Genius of Christianity was indoubted truth. Most certainly the author would tended, you will understand nothing of this never have thought of writing such a work if work. It was intended to be read by the most there had not existed a host of poems, romances, incredulous man of letters, the most volatile and books of all sorts, where Christianity was youth of pleasure, with the same facility as exposed to every species of derision. But the first turns over a work of impiety, or the since these poems, romances, and books exist, second devours a corrupting novel. Do you and are in every one's hands, it becomes in- intend then, exclaim the well-meaning addispensable to extricate religion from the sar- vocates for Christianity, to render religion a casms of impiety; when it has been written matter of fashion? Would to God, I reply, on all sides that Christianity is "barbarous, that that divine religion was really in fashion, ridiculous, the eternal enemy of the arts and of in the sense that what is fashionable indicates genius ;' it is necessary to prove that it is neither the prevailing opinion of the world! Individual barbarous, nor ridiculous, nor the enemy of hypocrisy, indeed, might be increased by sucla arts or of genius; and that that which is made a change, but public morality would unques by the pen of ridicule to appear diminutive, tionably be a gainer. The rich would no longer ignoble, in bad taste, without either charms or make it a point of vanity to corrupt the poor, tenderness, may be made to appear grand, the master to pervert the mind of his domestic, noble, simple, impressive, and divine, in the the fathers of families to pour lessons of athehands of a man of religious feeling.
ism into their children; the practice of piety “If it is not permitted to defend religion on would lead to a belief in its truths, and with what may be called its terrestrial side, if no the devotion we should see revive the manners effort is to be made to prevent ridicule from and the virtues of the best ages of the world. attaching to its sublime institutions, there will “Voltaire, when he attacked Christianity, always remain a weak and undefended quarter. knew mankind well enough not to seek to There all the strokes at it will be aimed; there avail himself of what is called the opinion of you will be caught without defence; from the world, and with that view he employed his thence you will receive your death-wound. Is talents to bring impiety into fashion. He sucnot that what has already arrived? Was it ceeded by rendering religion ridiculous in the not by ridicule and pleasantry that Voltaire eyes of a frivolous generation. It is this ridisucceeded in shaking the foundations of faith?cule which the author of the Genius of ChrisWill you attempt to answer by theological tianity has, beyond every thing, sought to arguments, or the forms of the syllogism, licen- efface; that was the object of his work. He tious novels or irreligious epigrams?' Will may have failed in the execution, but the obformal disquisitions ever prevent an infidel ject surely was highly important. To congeneration from being carried away by clever sider Christianity in its relation with human verses, or deterred from the altar by the fear society; to trace the changes which it has of ridicule? Does not every one know that in effected in the reason and the passions of
man; to show how it has modified the genius * All the passages cited are translated by ourselves. of arts and of letters, moulded the spirit of There is an English version, we believe, but we have modern nations; in a word, te unfold all the
never seen it.
marvels which religion has wrought in the remove. They have addressed themselves in regions of poetry, morality, politics, history, general to them as if they were combatants and public charity, must always be esteemed drawn out in a theological dispute; they have a noble undertaking. As to its execution, he urged a mass of arguments which they were abandons himself, with submission, to the unable to refute, but which were too uninterestcriticisms of those who appreciate the spirit ing to be even examined, and while they flatof the design.
tered themselves that they had effectually “Take, for example, a picture, professedly silenced their opponents' objections, those of an impious tendency, and place beside it whom they addressed have silently passed by another picture on the same subject from the on the other side. It is, therefore, of incalcuGenius of Christianity, and I will venture to lable importance that some writings should affirm that the latter picture, however feebly exist which should lead men imperceptibly into executed, will weaken the impression of the the ways of truth, which should insinuate first, so powerful is the effect of simple truth themselves into the tastes, and blend themwhen compared to the most brilliant sophisms. selves with the refinements of ordinary life, Voltaire has frequently turned the religious and perpetually recur to the cultivated mind orders into ridicule; well, put beside one of with all that it admires, or loves, or venerates, his burlesque representations the chapter on in the world. the Missions, that where the order of the Nor let it be imagined that reflections such Hospitallers is depicted as succouring the as these are not the appropriate theme of retravellers in the desert, or the monks relieving ligious instruction--that they do not form the the sick in the hospitals, attending those dying fit theme of Christian meditation. Whatever of the plague in the lazarettos, or accompany- leads our minds habitually to the Author of ing the criminal to the scaffold, what irony the Universe ;-whatever mingles the voice will not be disarmed-what malicious smile of nature with the revelation of the gospel ;will not be converted into tears? Answer the whatever teaches us to see, in all the changes reproaches made to the worship of the Chris- of the world, the varied goodness of him, in tians for their ignorance, by appealing to the whom “we live, and move, and have our immense labours of the ecclesiastics who being,”-brings us nearer to the spirit of the saved from destruction the manuscripts of Saviour of mankind. But it is not only as antiquity. Reply to the accusations of bad encouraging a sincere devotion, that these retaste and barbarity, by referring to the works flections are favourable to Christianity; there of Bossuet and Fenelon. Oppose to the carica- is something, moreover, peculiarly allied to its tures of saints and of angels, the sublime effects spirit in such observations of external nature. of Christianity on the dramatic part of poetry, When our Saviour prepared himself for his on eloquence, and the fine arts, and say temptation, his agony, and death, he retired to whether the impression of ridicule will long the wilderness of Judæa, to inhale, we may maintain its ground? Should the author have venture to believe, a holier spirit amidst its no other success than that of having displayed solitary scenes, and to approach to a nearer before the eyes of an infidel age a long series communion with his Father, amidst the subof religious pictures without exciting disgust, limest of his works. It is with similar feelings, he would deem his labours not useless to the and to worship the same Father, that the cause of humanity.”—III. 263–266.
Christian is permitted to enter the temple of These observations appear to us as just as nature; and by the spirit of his religion, there they are profound, and they are the reflections is a language infused into the objects which not merely of a sincere Christian, but a man she presents, unknown to the worshipper of practically acquainted with the state of the former times. To all indeed the same objects world. It is of the utmost importance, no appear—the same sun shines-the same headoubt, that there should exist works on the vens are open: but to the Christian alone it is Christian faith, in which the arguments of the permitted to know the Author of these things; skeptic should be combated, and to which the to see his spirit “move in the breeze 'and Christian disciple might refer with confidence blossom in the spring," and to read, in the for a refutation of the objections which have changes which occur in the material world, been urged against his religion. But great as the varied expression of eternal love. It is is the merit of such productions, their bene- from the influence of Christianity accordingly ficial effects are limited in their operation com- that the key has been given to the signs of pared with those which are produced by such nature. It was only when the Spirit of God writings as we are considering. The hardened moved on the face of the deep, that order and sceptic will never turn to a work on divinity beauty was seen in the world. for a solution of his paradoxes; and men of It is accordingly peculiarly well worthy of the world can never be persuaded to enter on observation, that the beauty of nature, ás felt in serious arguments even on the most moment modern times, seems to have been almost unous subject of human belief. It is the indiffer- known to the writers of antiquity. They deence, not the skepticism of such men, which is scribed occasionally the scenes in which they chiefly to be dreaded: the danger to be appre- dwelt; but, if we except Virgil, whose gentle hended is not that they will say there is no mind seems to have anticipated, in this inGod, but that they will live altogether without stance, the influence of the gospel, never with God in the world. It has happened but too any deep feeling of their beauty. Then, as frequently that divines, in their zeal for the now, the citadel of Athens looked upon the progress of Christianity among such men, evening sun, and her temples flamed in his have augmented the very evil they intended to setting beam; but what Athenian writer ever