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the true is enshrined in the heart in dim religious obscurity, and shrinks from coming into contact with the world.
Madame de Staël explains enthusiasm according to its proper definition, God within us. In the noblest sentiments and affections of the human heart,-in glory, talents, music, poetry, love, -she finds this divine flame purifying the gifts of Heaven, and enabling us to enjoy them. If capable of more intense grief, she shows us of how much more exquisite delight the heart is susceptible, which can carry this sentiment even into misfortune, and find in itself a shelter, when the world has denied it all outward consolation. And blessed be God,' says Madame de Staël, in speaking of the final struggle between the soul and the body,– for the consolation which He has prepared for us in these last moments. Our words shall become uncertain, our eyes shall no longer see the light, our thoughts, once so closely linked together, shall now wander in lonely sadness over the dim traces of the past ;-but enthusiasm shall not desert us. Its brilliant wings shall hover over our funeral couch ;-it shall raise the pall of death,-it shall bring back to our memory those moments, when, full of energy, we felt that our minds should never perish,—and our last sigh shall be like a noble thought re-ascending to Heaven.'
It has been remarked with truth, that Madame de Staël had no genius for poetry. The mechanism of French versification requires more study, than in all probability suited the vivacity of her ideas. The severe laws of French criticism with regard to poetry, render their prose the only vehicle of original thought. There is also a sort of pomp in the language, which, in attempts at poetry, is apt to run into declamation, as may be observed in the imitators of Corneille. The Essais Dramatiques of Madame de Staël are of no great_value, yet there are sketches of character in her French Revolution, which show the strongest marks of a dramatic genius.
After all, the works of Madame de Staël are not those of the imagination. Even in Corinna, her intention is to display, by means of individual personages, the general features of the Italian, French, and German characters. The story in itself has little merit, and the heroine is merely designed to represent a superior intelligence, struggling with the laws of opinion and the prejudices of inferior minds.
In works purely fictitious she by no means excelled. She required living subjects for her pencil, and if, like Raphael, she invested them with ideal excellence, she had always some real object before her mental vision, as we discover, under the divine halo of his Madonna, the features of his earthly love.
It is for this reason, that the. Considerations on the French Revolution is perhaps the most perfect of her works. She may rank among authors, as an historical painter does among
Her talent was neither for individual portraits, nor for ideal and visionary excellence. Her knowledge of politics had commenced with her political education, and the personal as well as general interest, with which she had marked the different phases of the Revolution, was strengthened by her travels throughout Europe, and her keen observation of the countries through which she passed,—especially by her residence in England, where she found her theory of freedom reduced to practice,-and where her discussions with the most distinguished statesmen of the age, had corrected and matured her judgment.
It is in this work that we see the combination of philosophic genius and dramatic talent. Her sketch of Mirabeau, for example, tribun par calcul, et aristocrate par goût, is a masterpiece. The vivacity of the whole work plainly shows it to be written by one who has felt and suffered through every scene which she describes, while the depth of thought and calm deliberation which it evinces, could only be the result of after reflection.
To form a just estimate of an author's merits, we should consider in what manner we are influenced by the perusal of his works. When, on rising from the study of Voltaire, we perceive that increased knowledge of the human heart brings but increased dissatisfaction; that the author has probed the depths of our spirit only to wound it; that the most splendid talent has been employed in throwing doubt and ridicule upon the most sacred truths,—when we turn from his pages with a cold and bitter contempt for ourselves and for our fellow-creatures,—we feel that all the knowledge we have acquired has been dearly purchased.
If, on the other hand, we gaze on the terrible maternal grief of the Niobe with hearts saddened but exalted ;-if, after listening to the Miserere, we feel, though the feeling, be transitory, a deeper conviction of the vanity of all earthly pursuits, and if our thoughts have been carried heaven-ward by that sublime and affecting music ;-if the contemplation of the star
ry firmament fill our minds with adoration of a superior power, then these noble sights, these solemn sounds are beneficial to us. They make us pause for a moment in the career of life. They induce us to take a more general survey of the whole prospect, of the journey we have performed, and of that which still remains for us to travel. I should become a better man,' said Goëthe, * had I always before my eyes the head of the Jupiter Olympius, which the ancients admired so much.'
Considered under this point of view, the works of Madame de Staël are deserving of the highest praise. We feel, after the perusal of her pages, that our minds are filled with noble ideas, with lofty sentiments, with warmer affection for our kindred and friends,—with more general benevolence and good will towards our species, and with greater hopes for its amelioration. We feel that virtue is more than a name; that the world is better than scoffers have represented it; that our lives may have a higher object than the gratification of self-love and personal interest. We have also entire confidence in the sincerity of the author, and the more so, that we find her ready to make a public avowal of her errors, and, as in her eloquent essay upon Suicide, to recant them.
“One with a flash begins, and ends in smoke,
ART. II.- Education of the Blind. 1. Essai sur l’Education des Aveugles; par M. Hauy,
Paris. 1786. 2. Coup-d'Eil D'un Aveugle sur les Sourds-Muets. Par
ALEXANDRE RODENBACH, Membre du Musée des Aveugles de Paris et de plusieurs Sociétés savantes; Auteur de la Lettre sur les Aveugles faisant Suite à celle de Diderot, &c. &c. Bruxelles. 1829.
It has long been to us a matter of surprise that the blind have been so much neglected. Our age, compared with those that have passed away, is truly a humane one ; never has more attention been paid to individual man than now; never has the imperative duty of society to provide for the wants of those whom nature or accident has thrown upon its charity, been more deeply felt, or more conscientiously discharged. Philanthropy has, in fact, been pushed almost to folly, and well meaning enthusiasts, in their eager zeal to find new objects, seem half disposed to create suffering for the sake of relieving it; or, at least, would relieve one class at the expense of another; like the good Las Casas, who, in his blind enthusiasm for the Aborigines of South America, tore thousands of Africans from their homes, and made them slaves, that his darling Indians might go free, and walk upright in lordly indolence. England and the United States are peculiarly characterized by associations for aiding the cause of humanity. Every infirmity, every misfortune, every vice even, has a phalanx of philanthropists to oppose its effects: every rank of society, every, age, from the cradle to the grave, is provided with associated aiders and supporters. They begin before the birth of the object by the preparation of lying-in hospitals, and sometimes even rescue the victim from the grasp of death, as is seen in the admirable, and not unfrequently successful labors of the Humane Society.
That this spirit of humanity has not always been well directed ; that extraordinary efforts and great expenses have been lavished upon one class of unfortunate persons, while others more deserving and afflicted have been left neglected, is apparent in the case of the blind, who have been almost entirely overlooked in the general and eager search after new objects of philanthropy. The very efforts which have been made to lighten the burden of their woes, have only added more weight to it; and those whom nature has bowed down under a load of affliction, have been farther crushed by a sense of humiliating dependence. The cry of the blind has not been merely for bread, it has not been for alms; these are not their only wants; but they claim our sympathies and our patient assistance, to enable them to exert their own faculties, to develope their own powers, and to do something to break the listless inactivity, which constitutes for them the taedium vitae. But instead of administering to their wants, instead of striking at the root of the evil, and preventing blindness from necessarily entailing misery on the sufferer, men have increased its ill effects by diminishing the incentives to action; and the hand of charity has wounded, while it soothed the sufferer. The post of the blind has always been
by the highway, in the humble attitude of the beggar; their dwelling place has been the almshouse; where men try to hide and perpetuate much misery, which, by patient attention and resolute perseverance, they might entirely remove.
Discouraged by the apparent incapacity of the blind, men have only endeavored to administer to them physical comfort in the shape of food and clothing. Even the philanthropist has shrunk from the task of endeavoring to combat the ills which blindness entails upon the sufferer; and until within a few years no establishments existed in Europe, where the blind played any other part than that of listless drones and melancholy dependents. It is a little curious, that a Pagan nation should have set a good example to enlightened Christians in this respect. It is said that, in Japan, the blind were long ago made to fill a comparatively useful sphere. The Government keeps a large number of them in an establishment, and their business is to learn the history of the empire through all the remote ages, to arrange it systematically by chapter and verse in their memories, and to transmit it to the young blind, who are to hand it down to the next generation, and thus form a sort of perennial walking and talking library of useful historical knowledge. It would be singular and interesting to enter this library of living books, and consult these breathing archives: to go up to a man, instead of pulling down a folio; to hear him repeat his index, and then to turn over the tablets of his memory like the leaves of a volume, until he comes to the matter in question.
We shall touch but lightly in this article on the physical and moral effects of blindness upon its victim, but confine ourselves to a practically useful view of the subject. We shall discuss the question of the capacity of the blind for receiving such an intellectual and physical education, as will enable them to fill useful and ornamental places in society; we shall notice the system pursued in the different European Institutions, and point out the changes and improvements which, in our opinion, may be introduced in the treatment of the blind.
The effects of blindness upon the physical man, whatever they may be upon the intellectual, are decidedly pernicious ; not directly and necessarily, but, nevertheless, almost inevitably. The mind is not called into action, the muscular power is not developed by exercise and labor, the sufferer dares not run