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Art. I.—Euvres complètes de AUGUSTE BRIEUX, précédées d'une Notice
SAINT-RÉNÉ TAILLANDIER. Edition définitive, augmentée d'un grand nombre de poésies inédites, ornée du portrait de l'Auteur. 2 vols. Paris. 1861. Tue poems of Auguste Brizeux are here presented to us, for the first time, in their collected and definite form; or, to use the expression of his able biographer, dans leur complet et harmonieux ensemble. The poet was himself preparing a complete edition of his works, when he was called hence. This task he, on his death-bed, requested his friends, M. Saint-Réné Taillandier, and M. Auguste Lacaussade, to execute for him. They have bestowed much care upon the work thus entrusted to them, and their labour has evidently been one of love. The biographer himself assigns as his reason for undertaking the task, conjointly with his friend, not the honour which they would gain for themselves, but their friendship for Brizeux; and he quotes the simple and touching words of La Fontaine, who, when speaking of his collaboration with Maucroix, said, Une ancienne amitié en est la cause.'
Brizeux was a remarkable man, and a poet of no mean order. Soon after his death, some of the most eminent French critics reviewed his works in the principal periodicals of the day, and rated him very high. M. Louis Ratisbonne, in the Journal des Débats; M. Edouard Thierry and M. Théophile Gautier, in the Moniteur ; M. Alfred Nettement, in the Union ; M. de Limayrac, in the Constitutionnel ; M. Júles de Saint-Félix, in the Courrier de Paris ; the Marquis of Belloy, in the Revue Française ; M. de Pontmartin, in the Correspondant ; M. Sainte-Beuve and M. Gustave Planche, in the Revue des deux Mondes ; and other maîtres de la critique, have all appreciated the poet highly. Perhaps a short account of the principal events of his life, followed by extracts from his poems, may not prove altogether
unacceptable to the readers of the Christian Remembrancer, and may cause them to feel an interest in the man, and admiration for the poet.
M. Saint-Réné Taillandier's account of his friend, which originally appeared in the Revue des deux Mondes, is very
interesting and well put together. We shall extract copiously from it, and frequently express ourselves in his very words.
Julien-Auguste-Pélage Brizeux was born at Lorient, that ugly modern town of imperial creation, on the 12th September, 1803. His family was of Irish extraction, and la verte Erin was loved by him as his second country, and frequently associated in his poems with his own Brittany,
Brizeux's ancestors appear to have quitted Ireland after the dethronement of James II. by William of Orange, and they established their new home on the banks of the Ellé, at the extremity of Cornouaille, close to the pays of Vannes. . The poet's grandfather was a notary; and, having a large family, and leaving but an indifferent fortune, the recently-acquired manor of the family had to be sold after his death.
One of his sons became a surgeon in the navy during the revolutionary wars, but we know nothing of his proceedings during that eventful period, and we mention him only as being the father of our poet.
The sea, Brittany—the religious, loyal, and unchanging Brittany—the time-hallowed memories and legends of auld Ireland, were the sources whence young Brizeux derived his first impressions. Such impressions take deep root, even when he who receives them is unaware of the influence encircling him. That unknown, secret, and all-pervading influence may, indeed, slumber for a while, and appear stifled and powerless, but it will surely one day be re-awakened, and possess a freshness, an energy, and a life never known before.
The naval surgeon died when his son was quite a boy. Brizeux remained for a time with his mother, who was a woman of remarkable endowments of mind and heart, and who imparted to him “son éducation morale.' It was to her, under God, and to the influences mentioned above, that Brizeux owed his winning simplicity of heart, and the pure, tenderly-expressed feeling which pervades most of his poetry, and which constitutes one of its great charms. In one of his best-known poems, Marie, he gracefully acknowledges this, and associates his mother, to whom the lines are addressed, in the work he is composing :