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gance in the midst of which we read him. His poetry is like one of those gilt and painted stands in which flowers of the country and exotics mingle in artful harmony their stalks and foliage, their clusters and cups, their scents and hues. It seems made expressly for these wealthy, cultivated, free busíness men, heirs of the ancient nobility, new leaders of a new England. It is part of their luxury as well as of their morality; it is an eloquent confirmation of their principles, and a precious article of their drawing-room furniture.
We return to Calais, and travel towards Paris, without pausing on the road. There are on the way plenty of noblemen's castles, and houses of rich men of business. But we do not find amongst them, as in England, the thinking, elegant world, which, by the refinement of its taste and the superiority of its mind, becomes the guide of the nation and the arbiter of the beautiful. There are two peoples in France: the provinces and Paris; the one dining, sleeping, yawning, listening; the other thinking, daring, watching, and speaking: the first drawn by the second, as a snail by a butterfly, alternately amused and disturbed by the whims and the audacity of its guide. It is this guide we must look upon! Let us enter Paris! What a strange spectacle! It is evening, the streets are aflame, a luminous dust covers the busy noisy crowd, which jostles, elbows, crushes, and swarms near the theatres, behind the windows of the cafés. Have you remarked how all these faces are wrinkled, frowning, or pale; how anxious are their looks, how nervous their gestures? A violent brightness falls on these shining beads; most are bald before thirty. To find pleasure here, they must have plenty of excitement: the dust of the boulevard settles on the ice which they are eating; the smell of the gas and the steam of the pavement, the perspiration left on the walls dried up by the fever of a Parisian day, "the human air full of impure rattle "this is what they cheerfully breathe. They are crammed round their little marble tables, persecuted by the glaring light, the shouts of the waiters, the jumble of mixed talk, the monotonous motion of gloomy walkers,
the flutter of loitering courtesans mov ing about anxic sly in the dark Doubtless their homes are not pleas ant, or they would not change them for these bagmen's delights. We climb four flights of stairs, and find ourselves in a polished, gilded room, adorned with stuccoed ornaments, plaster statu ettes, new furniture of old oak, wit every kind of pretty nick-nack on the mantel-pieces and the whatnots. "It makes a good show;" you can give a good reception to envious friends and people of standing. It is an adver tisement, nothing more; we pass half an-hour there agreeably, and that is all, You will never make more than a house of call out of these rooms; they are low in the ceiling, close, inconvenient rented by the year, dirty in six months, serving to display a fictitious luxury. All the enjoyments of these people are factitious, and, as it were, snatched hurriedly; they have in them some. thing unhealthy and irritating. They are like the cookery of their restaurants, the splendor of their cafés, the gayety of their theatres. They want them too quick, too pungent, too manifold. They have not cultivated them patiently, and culled them moderately; they have forced them on an artificial and heating soil; they grasp them in haste. They are refined and greedy; they need every day a stock of word-paintings, broad anecdotes, biting_railleries, new truths, varied ideas. They soon get bored, and cannot endure tedium. They amuse themselves with all their might, and find that they are hardly amused. They exaggerate their work and their expense, their wants and their efforts. The accumulation of sensations and fatigue stretches their nervous machine to excess, and their polish of social gayety chips off twenty times a day, displaying an inner ground of suffering and ardor.
But how quick-witted they are, and how unfettered is their mind! How this incessant rubbing has sharpened them! How ready they are to grasp and comprehend every thing! How apt this studied and manifold culture has made them to feel and relish tendernesses and sadnesses, unknown te their fathers, deep feelings, strange and sublime, which aitherto seemed foreign
to their race! This great city is cos- transient, the n st familiar; he did mopolitan; here all ideas may be born; not restrict himself, he gave himself to no barrier checks the mind: the vast all; he possessed the last virtues which field of thought opens before them remain to us, generosity and sincerity without a beaten or prescribed track. And he had the most precious gift Use neither hinders nor guides them; which can seduce an old civilization, an official Government and Church rid youth. As he said, "that hot youth, a them of the care of leading the nation: tree with a rough bark, which covers the two powers are submitted to, as all with its shadow, prospect and path." we submit to the beadle or the police- With what fire did he hurl onward love, man, patiently and with chaff; they jealousy, the thirst of pleasure, all the are looked upon as a play. In short, impetuous passions which rise with the world here seems but a melodrama, a virgin blood from the depths of a young subject of criticism and argument. And heart, and how did he make them clash be sure that criticism and argument together! Has any one felt them more have full scope. An Englishman en- deeply? He was too full of them, he tering on life, finds to all great questions gave himself up to them, was intoxian answer ready made. A Frenchman cated with them. He rushed through entering on life finds to all great ques- life, like an eager racehorse in the tions simply suggested doubts. In this country, whom the scent of plants and conflict of opinions he must create a the splendid novelty of the vast heavens faith for himself, and, being mostly un- urge, headlong, in its mad career, able to do it, he remains open to every which shatters all before him, and himuncertainty, and therefore to every self as well. He desired too much; he curiosity and to every pain. In this wished strongly and greedily to enjoy gulf, which is like a vast sea, dreams, life in one draught, thoroughly; he did theories, fancies, intemperate, poetic not glean or enjoy it; he tore it off like and sickly desires, collect and chase a bunch of grapes, pressed it, crushed each other like clouds. If in this tu- it, twisted it; and he remains with mult of moving forms we seek some stained hands as thirsty as before. * solid work to prepare a foundation for Then broke forth sobs which found an What so young, future opinions, we find only the slow- echo in all hearts. ly-rising edifices of the sciences, which and already so wearied! So many here and there obscurely, like sub-precious gifts, so fine a mind, so delimarine polypes, construct of impercept-cate a tact, so rich and varied a fancy, ible coral the basis on which the belief so precocious a glory, such a sudden of the human race is to rest. blossom of beauty and genius, and yet anguish, disgust, tears, and cries! With the same What a mixture! Eternal attitude he adores and curses. illusion, invincible experience, keep side by side in him to fight and tear him. He became old, and remained young; he is a poet, and he is a skeptic. The Muse and her peaceful beauty, Nature and her immortal freshness, Love and his happy smile, all the swarm of divine visions barely passed before his eyes, when we see approaching with curses, and sarcasms, all the spectres of debauchery and death. He is as a man in a festive scene, who drinks from a chased cup, standing up, in front, amidst applause and triumphal music,
Such is the world for which Alfred de Musset wrote: in Paris he must be read. Read? We all know him by heart. He is dead, and it seems as if we daily hear him speak. A conversation among artists, as they jest in a studio, a beautiful young girl leaning over her oox at the theatre, a street washed by the rain, making the black pavement shine, a fresh_smiling morning in the woods of Fontainebleau, every thing brings him before us as if he were alive again. Was there ever a more vibrating and genuine accent? This man, at least, never lied. He only said what he felt, and he has said it as he felt it. He thought aloud. He made the confession of every man. He was not admired, but loved; he was more than a poet, he was a man. Every one found in him his own feelings, the most
his eyes laughing, his heart full of joy, neated and excited by the generous wine he quaffed, whom suddenly we see growing pale; there was poison in the cup; he falls, and the death-rattle is in his throat; his convulsed feet beat upon the silken carpet, and all the terrified guests look on. This is what we felt on the day when the most be loved, the most brilliant amongst us, suddenly quivered from an unseen attack, and was struck down, being hardly able to breathe amid the lying splendors and gayeties of our banquet.
Wel! such as he was, we love him forever we cannot listen to another; beside him, all seem cold or false. We leave at midnight the theatre in which he had heard Malibran, and we enter the gloomy rue des Moulins, where, on a hired bed, his Rolla* came to sleep and die. The lamps cast flickering rays on the slippery pavement. Restless shadows march past the doors, and trail along their dress of draggled silk to meet the passers-by. The windows are fastened; here and there a light pierces through a half closed shutter, and shows a dead dahlia on the edge of a window-sill. To-morrow an organ will grind before these panes, and the wan clouds will leave their droppings on these dirty walls. From this wretched place came the most impassioned of his poems! These vilenesses and vulgarities of the stews and the lodging-house caused this divine eloquence to flow! it was these which at such a moment gathered in this bruised heart all the splendors of nature and history, to make them spring up in * See ante, p. 111, n. I.
sparkling jets, and shine under the most glowing poetic sun that ever rose ! We feel pity; we think of that other poet, away there in the Isle of Wight, who amuses himself by dressing up lost epics. How happy he is amongst his fine books, his friends, his honeysuckles and roses! No matter. De Musset in this wretched abode of filth and misery, rose higher. From the heights of his doubt and despair, he saw the infinite, as we see the sea from a storm beaten promontory. Religions, thei glory and their decay, the human race, its pangs and its destiny, all that is sublime in the world, appeared there to him in a flash of lightning. He felt at least this once in his life, the inner tempest of deep sensations, giantdreams, and intense voluptuousness, the desire of which enabled him to live, the lack of which forced him to die. He was no mere dilettante; he was not content to taste and enjoy; he left his mark on human thought; he told the world what was man, love, truth, hap piness. He suffered, but he imagined; he fainted, but he created. He tore from his entrails with despair the idea which he had conceived, and showed it to the eyes of all, bloody but alive. That is harder and lovelier than to go fondling and gazing upon the ideas of others. There is in the world but one work worthy of a man, the production of a truth, to which we devote ourselves, and in which we believe. The people who have listened to Tennyson are better than our aristocracy of townsfolk and bohemians; but I prefer Alfre de Musset to Tennyson.
Beaumont, Francis, 173, 182, 261, 288, 298
Bede, the Venerable, 51.
Beowulf, an Anglo-Saxon epic poem, 43
Bible, English. See Wiclif, Tyndale.
Bilney, Thomas, martyrdom of, 253.
Blount, Edward, 120.
Architecture, Norman, 57, 86; the Tudor Boccaccio, 85, 88, 383.
Anthology, the, 129, 144.
Arbuthnot, Dr. John, 445.
Ariosto, 116, 136, 367.
century, 575, seq.
Arkwright, Sir Richard, 413.
Bodley, Sir Thomas, 148.
Boethius, 52, 53.
Aristocracy, British, in the nineteenth Boileau, 316, 338, 360, 81, 392, 488, 492, 668
Armada, the, 109, 166.
Arnold, Dr. Thomas, 531, 580.
Arthur and Merlin, romance of, 58.
Ascham, Roger, 114, 148, 241.
Athelstan, 36, 46.
Augier, Emile, 895.
Austen, Jane, 530.
Boleyn, Ann, 117, 165.
Bolingbroke, Lord (Henry St. John), 388
389, 403, 488, 623.
Bonner, Edmund, 256.
Borde, Andrew, 116.
Borgia, Cæsar, 240, 241.
Borgia, Lucretia, 114, 240.
Bossu (or Lebossu), 360, 428, 431.
Bossuet, 26, 365, 498, 648.
Boswell, James, 480 seq.
Bourchier. See Berners.
Boyle, the Hon. Robert, 403.
Bridaine, Father, 400.
Britons, ancient, 37.
Bronte, Charlotte (Currer Bell), 530, 538
Byng, Admiral, 387, 407.
Crabbe, George, 522, 544.
Cranmer, Archbishop. 246, 251
Byron, Lord, 490; his life and works, 538- Crashaw, Richard, 257.
Camden, William, 148.
Campbell, Thomas, 525, 544.
Carlyle, Thomas, 20, 538, 579, 583; style and
Carteret, John (Earl Granville), 408.
Catherine, St., play of, 58.
Cellini, Benvenuto, 31, 78, 116.
Cervantes, 71, 97, 136, 461.
Chalmers, George, 56.
Chandos, Duke of (John Brydges), 488.
Chapman, George, 188.
Charles of Orléans, 63, 100.
Charles I. of England, 632.
Charles II. and his court, 314 seq.
Chateaubriand, 19, 427.
Chatham. See Pitt.
Chaucer, 74, 75, 85, 100, 383.
Chesterfield, Lord, 390 seq., 480, 492.
Chillingworth, William, 148, 258, 259, 402.
Chroniclers, French, 62.
Criticism and History, 62% seq.
Cromwell, Oliver, 20, 257, 266, 632, 654 STI
Curll, Edmund, 194.
Domesday Book, 56, 5. 73
Donne, John, 145, 25.
Dorat, C. J., 493, 559.
Dorset, Earl of (Charles Sackville), 136
Drake, Admiral, 109.
Drake, Dr. Nathan, 109, 110, 162.
Drama, formation of the. 173 seq.
Drayton, Michael, 126 s., 131, 257
Drummond, William, 293.
Dryden, John, 26, 293: his comedtee. 321
Dudevant, Madame ((-rge Sand), 595
EARLE, John, 148.
Edward VI., 253.
Clive, Lord, 629.
Classical authors translated, 113, 119.
Coleridge, Hartley, 167.
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 523 seq.
Collins, William, 504.
Essex, Robert, Earl of, 162, 163.
Commerce in sixteenth century, 109, 572
Eddas, the Scandinavian, 39-41, 500.
Edwy and Elgiva, story of, 37, 38.
Eliot, George. See Evans, Mary A
England, climate of, 31.
English Constitution, formation of the, 14
Elizabeth, Queen, 109-112. 147, 150.
Elwin, Rev. Whitwell, 487, 4:0 seq.
Erigena, John Scotus, 51, 54.
Esménard, Joseph Alphonse, 104.
Evans, Mary A. (Gerage Eliot), 630, 580