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he was invited to name his own successor, and he fixed upon Brizeux, who, in 1834, commenced his lectures, selecting, for his subject, Poetry, ancient and modern. The May following, his course of lectures being terminated, he went again to Italy, which, the biographer tells us, was to the poet now as a second country--though he should have said, his third, for he had already informed us that la verte Erin was his seconde patrie. Brittany had given Brizeux simple tastes, ideas of purity and beauty, such as we love in our own Wordsworth—that charm of grace and power,'fresh from the fount of feeling;' and Italy also had taught and elevated him by her ennobling treasures of art.
Brizeux's next works were, La Nuit de Noël and Les Batelières de l'Odet, both of which originally appeared in the Revue des deux Mondes, and have since been incorporated into Marie. Another fruit of his sojourn in Italy was a translation of the • Divine Comedy,' which was soon followed by another volume of poems, called Les Ternaires, subsequently republished under the title of La Fleur d'Or. This is considered by some inferior to most of Brizeux's works, but it was the poet's most cherished production. It abounds in impassioned and noble passages; and, as his biographer remarks, Brizeux, as a Christian, a philosopher, a poet, and an artist, has strewn his pages with the treasures he had found in his wanderings between the villages of Brittany and the Italian towns.
• Des villes d'Italie, où j'osai, jeune et svelte,
vis le flux, le reflux de la mer,
Pour chanter les combats des loups et des taureaux.' These verses from La Fleur d'Or well describe the feelings with which Brizeux revisited Brittany after his sojourns elsewhere; but whithersoever he went, his heart untravelled always returned to his chère Bretagne. When there, a friend of his, M. Guieysse, to whom he has addressed one of the poems in Marie, tells us how he spent his time :
Vous savez avec quel plaisir il revenait en Bretagne. Après avoir consacré quelques semaines aux joies de la famille, il se retirait dans un bourg, loin des villes, le plus ordinairement dans une mauvaise auberge, seul gîte qu'il pût se procurer; qu'importe ? il y trouvait les longues causeries du soir dans la langue du pays, au coin de la vaste cheminée, avec des paysans à qui il chantait ses vers bretons, et parmi lesquels il a rencontré plus d'une fois des appréciateurs intelligents.
Certainly, if the best way—and it has been said to be so—to learn all concerning any class or nation, is to live as they do, to mix freely with them, and to be as one of them; then, truly, Brizeux did all in his power to understand Breton character and customs: and no Breton poet has a greater claim upon our faith in the pictures he presents us, or upon our gratitude for the trouble he has taken to make those pictures exact living realities. As M. Saint-Réné Taillandier remarks, M. Magnin has regretted that Brizeux should have confined himself to such lowly subjects as the traditions and manners of the peasants of Vannes, Tréguier, Carnac, and other places; and he has wished that he had written on Du Guesclin, Beaumanoir, Montfort, and Clisson. But the deeds of these heroes are recorded in the historian's page; and to Brizeux belongs the glory of enshrining the peasants' simple ways, and of gathering together the scattered fragments relating to the Druids and the early Christians. He devoted many years to the work, and in the result of his labours we recognise the heart of the man and the inspiration of the poet.
Les Bretons appeared in 1845, and was crowned by the French Academy. It is only to be expected that Brižeux's countrymen should prefer it to any of the poet's other writings; but it is a work of a high order-fresh, vigorous, original, and frequently grandiose. Brizeux's two last volumes of poems were, Primel et Nola—a charming idyl, and worthy companion to Marie-and the Histoires Poétiques, also most deservedly crowned by the Academy in 1856. This last recueil contains many short poems of great beauty, among which may be mentioned · La Paix Armée,' .Les Ecoliers de Vannes, Le Missionnaire, Les Pêcheurs,' Les Bains de Mer,' L'Artisanne,' and 'La Traversée.'
There are two other publications of Brizeux which must not remain unnoticed, La Harpe d Armorique, and La Sagesse de Bretagne. They were printed in Lorient in 1844. The former is a collection of verses, in the Breton tongue, for the peasants of Léon and Cornouaille; and most of them are now well known in the greater part of Brittany. Les bardes rustiques, says the biographer, 'les débitent aux fêtes patronales avec
accompagnement de biniou, les metayers les répètent au coin ' de l'âtre pendant les soirées d'hiver.' Besides the Breton text, Brizeux has given a literal French translation. The
Sagesse de Bretagne' is a complete treasury of Breton proverbs gathered by Brizeux himself from the mouths of labourers and sailors.
Brizeux died at Montpellier in May, 1858. He had for some time suffered greatly from disease of the chest, and in the pre
ceding April he resolved to leave Paris and to repair to Montpellier, ' pour y chercher le soleil qu'il aimait tant." But neither the April sun, nor the loving cares of friendship, nor the physician's skill, could arrest the progress of the malady. He reached Montpellier on the 16th of April, and three weeks after expired in the arms of his biographer and friend.
His funeral took place at Montpellier on the 4th of the following month. He was followed to the grave by a large concourse of people, which included the Judges of the Imperial Court, the professors of the faculty of Montpellier, members of several learned societies, and students. M. SaintRéné Taillandier and one of the Judges of the Imperial Court delivered a funeral oration over his remains. Montpellier was not, however, to be his final resting-place. Like a true Breton, he wished his body to repose in Brittany, and his desire was complied with. A few days after his funeral, his brother arrived to fetch his body, which was conveyed to Lorient, and there met by a large crowd of persons. The same honours which had been paid hiin at Montpellier awaited him in his native town. At his grave, his biographer tells us, de nobles paroles furent prononcées; and Breton poets vied with each other in writing verses in his praise. M.Luzel, among others, wrote a piece entitled • Mort du Barde de la petite Bretagne,' which we regret we have not space to reproduce. Had Brizeux lived a short time longer, he would probably have been elected a member of the Academy. One of the forty wrote thus on the subject to M. Saint-Réné Taillandier a few days after the poet's death: Hier, à notre réunion de jeudi, on savait la triste
nouvelle, et l'on s'en est fort entretenu avec tous les regrets ' et les éloges dus à un poëte qui appartenait par bien des côtés
à l'Académie, et qui était fait pour lui appartenir de plus eti 'plus.
But Brizeux was not only an eminent poet, he was also an excellent man. He was kind-hearted, straightforward, disinterested, sincere, generous, warm, sympathetic, true. Like most generous natures, he was exceedingly enthusiastic and impulsive. His chief defects were a certain petulance, brusquerie, and irritability, which a high and unprejudiced authority has told us is one of the prominent characteristics of poets. Brizeux often accused himself of this, and deeply regretted his écarts. On one occasion he wrote a violent invective against the Germanic race. According to him, 'L'Allemagne était la Chine de l'Europe, ' le pays de conseillers titrés, des mandarins pédants; il raillait 'tout, le philosophe, le philologue, l'étudiant alourdi par la bière.' M. Saint-Réné Taillandier remonstrated with him for this, and refuted him out of his own verses. Soudain,' he tells us, je
vis ses yeux se remplir de larmes; il prit le papier où était tracée son invective, et le déchira en morceaux.'
He had read much, though somewhat desultorily, like La Fontaine; and he was plainly a man of a highly cultivated mind. He was particularly fond of Shakspeare, Byron, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey, Goëthe, though, as his biographer adds, ' Il revenait toujours cependant à la tradition grecque et latine, aux chantres des pays du soleil, et avec la libre allure de sa critique, il leur associait les poëtes orientaux, les sages persans, les mystiques hindous, se rappelant, il l'a dit plus d'une fois, ‘que sa race celtique était fille de l'Asie.' Like Pope, he spent niuch time in correcting and polishing his poems.
As far as an author's works may be supposed to reveal anything of his moral nature, we should say that Brizeux was a religious man. But we have positive evidence of this. With regard to Ultramontanism, he thoroughly detested it, and, like most serious and reflecting French laymen, was of opinion it had done much harm to religion. Let us once again quote his biographer :
Religion had animated his life and inspired his verses, and I shall doubtless be asked in what sentiments he expired." I must be discreet on this point; Brizeux desired to die, as he had lived, unknown. I will only say this (for he has not forbidden it, and the announcement may perhaps contain a salutary warning):--The party which affects to be religious, and which by its exaggerațions and hypocrisy repels many noble souls from Christianity, had become to him, in his later years, more and more hateful. He feared to be confounded with such men, but surely this fear pre-occupied him a great deal too much : quel rapport entre l'artiste chrétien et de judaïques docteurs ? He died full of faith and hope, full of faith in God's goodness, and full of hope in a joyful resurrection. He accused himself of his sins in all the humility of a contrite heart. J'étais si faible ! he used to say.'
Towards the end of his account of Brizeux, M. Saint-Réné Taillandier appends an extract from one of his own letters to a friend, written after the poet's death. We transcribe it, as illustrative of the narrow line which separates the eublime from the ridiculous, and of a curious feature in the French character. In justice, however, to the biographer, he must add that he himself speaks of his own language as assez peu orthodoxe. Le 'cercueil va partir pour Lorient. Ce pauvre corps que j'ai vu tant souffrir reposera sous la terre de Marie ; l'âme est dans
The following anecdote about Brizeux has been repeated to us by a French friend, and we have reason to believe it is perfectly authentic. Some time after the publication of Notre Dame de Paris, Victor Hugo's publisher met Brizeux, when the following dialogue took place :
Que pensez-vous de Notre Dame de Paris ?' asked the publisher. *C'est l'oeuvre d'un habile archéologue, mais il y manque quelque chose,' replied Brizeux.
une autre Bretagne, en des mondes meilleurs, avec Platon, Vir
gile, saint Jean, Raphaël, saint Corentin, patron de Kemper, • et saint Cornéli, patron des boufs.'
We will now enter into a few more particulars on the subjects of Brizeux's poems, and give extracts from them. Brizeux was often asked," Marie a-t-elle existé ? ,
Vit-elle encore ? L'avez-vous revue ?' But the secret of his heart was the secret of the man as much as of the poet, and the questions remained unanswered Marie, this young maiden, who dwelt by the untrodden ways,' near the river Scorf, and who has attained undying celebrity through the verses of Brizeux, was a real living woman, and no mere personification of an abstract idea, no mere creation of the poet's imagination.
At certain seasons of the year, it was the custom of the curé of Arzannô to assemble round him for instruction the children of the place.
* Alors le vieux curé par un long exercice,
છે It was through this catechising that Brizeux became acquainted with Marie. She is represented as not precisely pretty, but possessing a singular grace; and the curé's youthful scholar loved her with real and deep affection. Marie's only title to distinction seems to have been this devotion on the part of the poet. All the little episodes in the poem of Marie-the scene at the pont Kerlô, the farewells uttered beneath the church porch, the Christmas night-are said to be literally true. The Marie of Brizeux was not the Beatrice of Dante; but does not the peasant girl, with her simple unsophisticated ways and rustic grace, with no arts of dress and fashion-her loving heart being all she had to give in return for the chivalrous homage of the poet, inspire us with interest and affection?
“Ne crains pas, si tu n'as ni parure ni voile,
Jeune fille du Scorf!' It is a pleasure to read of this innocent maiden; if not 'a phantom of delight,' she is at least an image of sweetness and purity, and, though a reality, yet nearly allied to one of those ideals that · feed the soul and render it happier and purer'
* As pure in thought as angels are; To know her was to love her,'