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declamations the wisdom, justice, and purity of the masses are the constant subject of eulogy ; almost all social and political evils are traced to the corruptions of courts and the vices of kings. The applause of the people, the condemnation of rulers, in Telemachus, often resembles rather the frothy declamations of the Tribune in favour of the sovereign multitude, than the severe lessons addressed by a courtly prelate to the heir of a despotic throne. With a fearless courage, worthy of the highest commendation, and very different from the base adulation of modern times to the Baal of popular power, Bossuet, Massillon, and Bourdaloue incessantly rang in the ears of their courtly auditory the equality of mankind in the sight of heaven, and the awful
ords of judgment to come. These imaginary and Utopian effusions now excite a smile, even in the most youthful student; and a suffering age, taught by the experienced evils of democratic ascendency, has now learned to appreciate, as they deserve, the profound and caustic sayings in which Aristotle, Sallust, and Tacitus have delivered to future ages the condensed wisdom on the instability and tyranny of the popular rule, which ages of calamity had brought home to the sages of antiquity.
In Madame de Stael and Chateaubriand we have incomparably more originality and variety of thought ; far more just and experienced views of human affairs ; far more condensed wisdom, which the statesman and the philosopher may treasure in their memories, than in the great writers of the age of Louis XIV. We see at once in their productions that we are dealing with those who speak from experience of human affairs ; to whom years of suffering have brought centuries of wisdom; and who in the stern school of adversity have learned to abjure both much of the fanciful El Dorado speculations of preceding philosophy, and the perilous effusions of succeeding republicanism. Though the one was by birth and habit an aristocrat of the ancient and now decaying school, and the other, a Liberal nursed at the feet of the great Gamaliel of the Revolution, yet there is no material difference in their political conclusions ; so completely does a close observation of the progress of a revolution induce the same conclusions in minds of the highest stamp, with whatever carly prepossessions the survey may
have been originally commenced. The Dix Années d'Exil, and the Observations on the French Revolution might have been written by Chateaubriand, and Madame de Stael would have little wherefrom to dissent in the Monarchie selon la Charte, or the later political writings of her illustrious rival.
It is by their works of imagination, taste, and criticism, however, that these immortal writers are principally celebrated, and it is with them that we propose to commence this critical survey. Their names are universally known Corinne, Delphine, De l'Allemagne, the Dix Années d'Exil, and De la Litterature, are as familiar in sound, at least, to our ears, as the Génie du Christianisme, the Itinéraire, the Martyrs, Atala et Réné, of the far travelled pilgrim of expiring feudalism are to our memories. Each has beauties of the very highest cast in this department, and yet their excellences are so various, that we know not to which to award the palm. If driven to discriminate between them, we should say that De Stael has more sentiment, Chateaubriand more imagination ; that the former has deeper knowledge of human feelings, and the latter more varied and animated pictures of human manners ; that the charm of the first consists chiefly in the just and profound views of life, its changes and emotions, with which her works abound, and the fascination of the last in the brilliant phantasmagoria of actual scenes, impressions, and events which his writings exhibit. No one can exceed Madame de Stael in the expression of the sentiment or poetry of nature, or the development of the varied and storied associations which historical scenes or monuments never fail to awaken in the cultivated mind; but in the delineation of the actual features she exhibits, or the painting of the various and gorgeous scenery or objects she presents, she is greatly inferior to the author of the Genius of Christianity. She speaks emotion to the heart, not pictures to the eye. Chateaubriand, on the other hand, has dipped his pencil in the finest and most radiant hues of nature. With a skill surpassing even that of the Great Magician of the North, he depicts all the most splendid scenes of both hemispheres; and, seizing with the inspiration of genius on the really characteristic features of the boundless variety of objects he
has visited, brings them before us with a force and fidelity which it is impossible to surpass.
After all, however, on rising from a perusal of the great works of these two authors, it is hard to say which has left the most indelible impression on the mind; for if the one has accumulated a store of brilliant pictures which have never yet been rivalled, the other has drawn from the objects on which she has touched all the most profound emotions which life could awaken ; and if the first leaves a gorgeous scene painted on the mind, the latter has engraved a durable impression on the heart.
Corinne is not to be regarded as a novel. Boardingschool girls and youths just fledged from college may admire it as such, and dwell with admiration on the sorrows of the heroine and the faithlessness of Lord Nelvil ; but considered in that view it has glaring faults, both in respect of fancy, probability, and story, and will bear no comparison either with the great novels of Sir Walter Scott, or the secondary productions of his numerous imitators. The real view in which to regard it is as a picture of Italy ; its inhabitants, feelings, and recollections ; its cloudless skies and glassy seas ; its forest-clad hills and sunny vales; its umbrageous groves and mouldering forms ; its heart-inspiring ruins and deathless scenes. As such, it is superior to any work on that subject which has appeared in any European language. Nowhere else shall we find so rich and glowing an intermixture of sentiment with description ; of deep feeling for the beauty of art, with a correct perception of its leading principles; of historical lore with poetical fancy ; of ardour in the cause of social amelioration, with charity to the individuals who, under unfortunate institutions, are chained to a life of indolence and pleasure. Beneath the glowing sun and azure skies of Italy the authoress has imbibed the real modern Italian spirit ; she exhibits in the mouth of her heroine all that devotion to art, that rapturous regard to antiquity, that insouciance in ordinary life, and constant besoin of fresh excitement by which that remarkable people are distinguished from any other at present in Europe. She paints them as they really are; living on the recollection of the past, feeding on the glories of their double set of illustrious ancestors ; at times exulting in the recollection of the legions which subdued the world, at others recurring with pride to the glorious
though brief days of modern art; mingling the names of Cæsar, Pompey, Cicero, and Virgil with those of Michael Angelo, Raphael, Buonarotti, and Correggio ; repeating with admiration the stanzas of Tasso as they glide through the deserted palaces of Venice, and storing their minds with the rich creations of Ariosto’s fancy as they gaze on the stately monuments of Rome.
Not less vividly has she portrayed, in the language, feelings, and character of her heroine, the singular intermixture with these animating recollections of all the frivolity which has rendered impossible, without a fresh impregnation of northern vigour, the regeneration of Italian society. We see in her pages, as we witness in real life, talents the most commanding, beauty the most fascinating, graces the most captivating, devoted to no other object but the excitement of a transient passion ; infidelity itself subjected to certain restraints, and boasting of its fidelity to one attachment; whole classes of society incessantly occupied with no other object but the gratification of vanity, the thraldom of attachment, or the imperious demands of beauty, and the strongest craving of cultivated life, the besoin d'aimer, influencing, for the best part of their lives, the higher classes of both
No other author has painted with such force and truth the most profound passions of the human heart : none has delineated with such feeling and pathos the sentiment of love. The reason is obvious ; she described what she had herself felt. In such representation there would probably be nothing in the hands of an ordinary writer but frivolous, or possibly pernicious details ; but by Madame de Stael it is touched on so gently, so strongly intermingled with sentiment, and traced so naturally to its ultimate and disastrous effects, that the picture becomes not merely characteristic of manners, but purifying in its tendency. The Dix Années d'Exil
, though abounding with fewer splendid and enchanting passages, is written in a different strain, and devoted more to political objects than the Italian novel. It exhibits the Imperial Government of Napoleon in the high and palmy days of his greatness ; when all the Continent had bowed the neck to his power, and, from the rock of Gibraltar to the Frozen Ocean, not a voice dared to be lifted against his commands. It shows the interpal tyranny
and vexations of this formidable power ; its despicable jealousies and contemptible vanity ; its odious restrictions and tyrannising tendency. We see the censorship chaining the human mind to the night of the tenth in the opening of the nineteenth century; the commands of the police fettering every effort of independent thought and free discussion ; forty millions of men slavishly following the car of a victor, who, in exchange for all the advantages of freedom, hoped but never obtained from the Revolution, dazzled them with the glitter only of gilded chains. In her subsequent migrations through the Tyrol, Poland, Russia, and Sweden, to avoid bis persecution during the years which preceded the Russian war, we have the noblest picture of the elevated feelings which, during this period of general oppression, were rising up in the nations which yet preserved a shadow of independence, as well as of the heroic stand made by Alexander and his brave subjects against the memorable invasion which ultimately proved their assailant's ruin. These are animating themes; and though not in general inclined to dwell on description, or enrich her work with picturesque narrative, the scenery of the North had wakened profound emotions in her heart, which appear in many touches and reflections of no ordinary sublimity.
Chateaubriand addresses himself much more habitually and systematically to the eye. He paints what he has seen, whether in nature, society, manners, or art, with the graphic skill of a consummate draughtsman ; and produces the emotion he is desirous of awakening, not by direct words calculated to arouse it, but by enabling the imagination to depict to itself the objects which in nature, by their felicitous combination, produced the impression. Madame de Stael does not paint the features of the scene, but in a few words she portrays the emotion which she experienced on beholding it, and contrives by these few words to awaken it in her readers ; Chateaubriand enumerates with a painter's power all the features of the scene, and by the vividness of description succeeds not merely in painting it on the retina of the mind, but in awakening there the precise emotion which he himself felt on beholding it. The one speaks to the heart through the eye, the other to the eye through the heart. As we travel with the illustrious pilgrim of the