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has now resumed its sway. It was eleven o'clock when we cast anchor before the city, and as it was some time before we could get ashore, I had full leisure to follow out the contemplation which the scene awakened.
" I saw on my right several vessels, and the castle, which stands on the site of the Tower of Pharos. On my left, the horizon seemed shut in by sand-bills, ruins, and obelisks; immediately in front extended a long wall, with a few houses appearing above it; not a light was to be seen on shore, and not a sound came from the city. This, nevertheless, was Alexandria, the rival of Nemphis and Thebes, which once contained three millions of inhabitants, which was the sanctuary of the Muses, and the abode of science amidst a benighted world. Here were heard the orgies of Antony and Cleopatra, and here was Cæsar received with more than regal splendour by the Queen of the East. But in vain I listened. A fatal talisman had plunged the people into a hopeless calm : that talisman is the despotism which extinguishes every joy, which stifles even the cry of suffering. And what sound could arise in a city of which at least a third is abandoned ; another third of which is surrounded only by the tombs of its former inhabitants; and of which the third which still survives between those dead extremities, is a species of breathing trunk, destitute of the force even to shake off its chains, and placed between ruins and the tomb?" -Vol. ii. 163.
It is to be regretted that Chateaubriand did not visit Upper Egypt. His ardent and learned mind would have found ample room for eloquent declamation amidst the gigantic ruins of Luxor, and the Sphinx avenues of Thebes. The inundation of the Nile, however, prevented him from seeing even the Pyramids nearer than Grand Cairo; and when on the verge of that interesting region, he was compelled unwillingly to retrace his steps to the French shores. After a tempestuous voyage along the coast of Libya, he cast anchor off the ruins of Carthage; and thus he describes his feelings on surveying those venerable remains
" From the summit of Byrsa the eye embraces the ruins of Carthage, which are more considerable than are generally imagined: they resemble those of Sparta, having nothing well preserved, but embracing a consider
I saw them in the middle of February: the olives, the fig-trees, were already bursting into leaf : large bushies of angelica and acanthus formed tufts of verdure, amidst the remains of marble of every colour. In the distance, I cast my eyes over the Isthmus, the double sea, the distant isles, a cerulean sea, a smiling plain, and azure mountains. I saw forests, and vessels, and aqueducts ; Moorish villages, and Mahometan hermitages; glittering minarets, and the white buildings of Tunis. Surrounded with the most touching recollections, I thought alternately of Dido, Sophonisba, and the noble wife of Asdrubal; I contemplated the vast plains where the legions of Hannibal, Scipio, and Cæsar were buried : My eyes sought for the sight of Utica. Alas! The remains of the palace of Tiberius still exist in the island of Capri, and you search in vain at Utica for the house of Cato. Finally, the terrible Vandals, the rapid Moors, passed before my recollection, which fixed at last on Saint Louis expiring on that inhospitable shore. May the story of the death of that prince terminate this itinerary; fortunate to re-enter, as it were, into my country
by the ancient monument of his virtues, and to close at the sepulchre of that King of holy memory my long pilgrimage to the tombs of illustrious men."—Vol. ii. 257, 258.
“ As long as his strength permitted, the dying monarch gave instructions to his son Philip; and when his voice failed him, he wrote with a faltering hand these precepts, which no Frenchman, worthy of the name, will ever be able to read without emotion. My son, the first thing which I enjoin you is to love God with all your heart ; for without that no man can be saved. Beware of violating His laws; rather endure the worst torments than sin against His commandments. Should He send you adversity, receive it with humility, and bless the hand which chastens you ; and believe that you have well deserved it, and that it will turn to your weal. Should He try you with prosperity, thank Him with humility of heart, and be not elated by His goodness. Do justice to every one, as well the poor as the rich. Be liberal, free, and courteous to your servants, and cause them to love as well as fear you. Should any controversy or tumult arise, sift it to the bottom, whether the result be favourable or unfavourable to your interests. Take care, in an especial manner, that your subjects live in peace and tranquillity under your reign. Respect and preserve their privileges, such as they have received them from their ancestors, and preserve them with care and love. And now, I give you every blessing which a father can bestow on his child; praying the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, that they may defend you from all adversities; and that we may again, after this mortal life is ended, be united before God, and adore His majesty for ever !""_Vol. ii. 264.
“ The style of Chateaubriand,” says Napoleon, “is not that of Racine, it is that of a prophet ; he has received from nature the sacred flame; it breathes in all his works."* It is of no common man—being a political opponent—that Napoleon would have said these words. Chateaubriand bad done nothing to gain favour with the French Emperor; on the contrary, he irritated him by throwing up his employment and leaving his country, upon the assassination of the Duke d'Enghien. In truth, nothing is more remarkable, amidst the selfishness of political apostasy in France, than the uniform consistence and disinterestedness of this great man's opinions. His principles, indeed, were not all the same at fifty as at twenty-five; we should be glad to know whose are, excepting those who are so obtuse as to derive no light from the extension of knowledge and the acquisitions of experience ? Change is so far from being despicable, that it is highly honourable in itself, and when it proceeds from the natural modification of the mind from the progress of years, or the lessons of more extended experience. It becomes contemptible only when it arises on the suggestions of interest, or the desires of ambition. Now, Chateaubriand's
* Memoirs of Napoleon, iv. 342.
changes of opinion have all been in opposition to his interest ; and he has suffered at different periods of his life from his resistance to the mandates of authority, and his rejection of the calls of ambition. In early life he was exiled from France, and shared in all the hardships of the emigrants, from his attachment to Royalist principles. At the earnest request of Napoleon, he accepted office under the Imperial Government, but he relinquished it, and again became an exile upon the murder of the Duke d'Enghien. The influence of his writings was so powerful in favour of the Bourbons, at the period of the Restoration, that Louis XVIII. truly said, they were worth more than an army. He followed the dethroned monarch to Ghent, and contributed much, by his powerful genius, to consolidate the feeble elements of his power, after the fall of Napoleon. Called to the helm of affairs in 1824, he laboured to accommodate the temper of the monarchy to the increasing spirit of freedom in the country, and fell into disgrace with the Court, and was distrusted by the Royal Family, because he strove to introduce those popular modifications into the administration of affairs, which might have prevented the Revolution of July ; and finally, he has resisted all the efforts of the Citizen King to engage his great talents in defence of the throne of the Barricades. True to his principles, he has exiled himself from France, to preserve his independence ; and consecrated in a foreign land his illustrious name to the defence of the child of misfortune.
Chateaubriand is not only an eloquent and beautiful writer, he is also a profound scholar, and an enlightened thinker. His knowledge of history and classical literature is equalled only by his intimate acquaintance with the early annals of the church, and the fathers of the Catholic faith ; while in his speeches delivered in the Chamber of Peers since the Restoration, will be found not only the most eloquent, but the most complete and satisfactory dissertations on the political state of France during that period, which are anywhere to be met with. It is a singular circumstance, that an author of such great and varied acquirements, who is universally allowed by all parties in France to be their greatest living writer, should hardly be known except by name to the great body of readers in this country.
His greatest work, that on which his fame will rest with posterity, is the Genius of Christianity, from which such ample quotations have already been given. The next is the Martyrs, a romance, in which he has introduced an exemplification of the principles of Christianity, in the early sufferings of the primitive church, and enriched the narrative by the splendid description of the scenery in Egypt, Greece, and Palestine, which he had visited during his pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and all the stores of learning which a life spent in classical and ecclesiastical lore could accumulate. The last of his considerable publications is the Etudes Historiques, a work eminently characteristic of that superiority in historical composition, which we have allowed to the French modern writers over their contemporaries in this country; and which, we fear, another generation, instructed when too late by the blood and the tears of a Revolution, will alone be able fully to appreciate. Its object is to trace the influence of Christianity from its first spread in the Roman empire to the rise of civilisation in the Western world; a field in which he goes over the ground trod by Gibbon, and demonstrates the unbounded benefits derived from religion in all the institutions of modern times. In this noble undertaking he has been aided, with a still more philosophical mind, though inferior fire and eloquence, by Guizot—a writer who, equally with his illustrious rival, is as yet unknown, save by report, in this country, but from whose joint labours is to be dated the spring of a pure and pbilosophical system of religious inquiry in France, and the commencement of that revival of manly devotion in which the antidote, and the only antidote, to the fanaticism of infidelity is to be found.
VIRGIL, TASSO, AND RAPHAEL
(BLACKWOOD'S MAGAZINE, APRIL 1845]
ORIGINALITY of conception and fidelity of observation in general mark the efforts of genius in the earlier ages of society; and it is then, accordingly, that those creative minds appear which stamp their own impress upon the character of a whole people, and communicate to their literature, in the most distant periods, a certain train of thought, a certain class of images, a certain family resemblance. Homer, Phidias, and Æschylus in ancient times ; Dante, Michael Angelo, Ariosto, and Shakspeare in modern, belong to this exalted class. Each, in his own department, has struck out a new range of thought, and created a fresh brood of ideas, which on “ winged words” have taken their flight to distant regions, and to the end of the world will never cease to delight and influence mankind. Subsequent ages may refine their images, expand their sentiments, perhaps improve their expression ; but they add little to the stock of their conceptions. The very greatness of their predecessors precludes fresh creations : the furrows of the ancient wheels are so deep that the modern chariot cannot avoid falling into them. So completely, in all persons of education, are the great works of antiquity incorporated with thought, that they arise involuntarily with every exercise of the faculty of taste, and insensibly recur to the cultivated mind, with all that it admires, and loves, and venerates in the world.
But though originality of conception, the creation of imagery, and the invention of events belong to early ages, delicacy of taste, refinement of sentiment, perfection of expression, are the growth of a more advanced period of