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The authorship, like the existence of Chateaubriand, was chivalric, adventurous, and effective-usually originating in some want or impulse of the time, derived from his own experience or aimed at a positive and practical result: the man of action and of the age, the improvisator of the occasion, marks his labours in the field of letters. Thus, his first essay as a writer on a large scale was the Treatise on Revolutions, written in exile and for bread, and serving as a kind of initiative discipline to works of more instant and universal effect; yet even this, the most abstract and least spontaneous of his works, chiefly historical in its plan, being written at the epoch of the French Revolution, in which the author and his family so deeply suffered, had a vital and immediate significance. The subject thus chosen indicates his dominant taste for philosophy, history, and politics; in its execution, also, is evident his love of bringing ancient parallels to bear on contemporary events; the broad survey of governments it includes, shows his comprehensive scope of mind, the instinctive grandeur of his conception; while some of the portraits and scenes betray that felicity of description which characterized his subsequent writings. However respectable as a literary undertaking, the Essais sur les Revolutions was rather a prophetic than realized test of his mission as a writer. The Génie du Christianisme is one of those works that, by meeting the conscious needs of an age and people, lift the author at once to the rank of public benefactor. When Europe recoiled from the barren and bitter fruits of anarchy and atheism, and humanity became conscious of her desolation, “without God in the world,” this reassertion of the religious sentiment, of the incalculable benefits Christianity had bestowed upon the world, of its infinite superiority to all previous systems, of its accordance with nature and the heart of man, of its sacred relation to domestic life and to the human passions, seemed an echo of the latent hopes and recollections of every bereaved and aspiring soul amid the wrecks of social and civil life. With singular eloquence, Chateaubriand resummoned the saints, the angels, the myths, the ceremonial, and the sanctions of the Christian religion from the eclipse they had undergone. He compared, as only a scholar, a philosopher, a poet can do, Hell with Tartarus, Heaven with Elysium ; Homer, Virgil, and Theocritus, with Dante, Milton, and Tasso; the Sibyls and the Evangelists, the Bible and the Iliad. He recounted the triumphs of Christian art, and described how the New Testament changed the genius of the painter: sans lui, rien ôter de sa sublimité, il lui donne plus de tendresse. He revealed its architectural signs -- the dome and spire: "les yeux du voyageur viennent d'abord s'ultacher sur cette flèche religieuse dont l'aspect réveilee une foule de sentiments et de souvenirs ; c'est la pyramide funèbre autour de la quelle dorment les aieux ; c'est la monument de joie ou l'airain sacré annonce le vie du fidele; c'est que l'epoux s'unisant; c'est que les chrétiens se prosterent au pied des autels, le foible pour prier le Dieu deforce, le coupable pour implorer le Dieu de miséricorde, l'innocent pour chanter le Dieu de bonté." He pictures to the imagination the tangible evidences of his holy faith—Raphael's Madonnas and the Hotel Dieu, the Festival, the Cemetery, the Sisters of Charity, the Knight, the Missionary, the eloquence of Massillon, Bossuet, Pascal, and Fénélon. Thus, gathering up the trophies and opening the vistas of Christianity once more before the despairing eyes of multitudes, Chateaubriand was hailed by tearful praises. "Imagine,” says one of his critics, “ a vase of myrrh overturned on the steps of a bloodstained altar.” To us and to-day, the significance of his work is greatly modified and abated. In the light of a more advanced civilization and a race of no less eloquent and deeper expositors, we look upon it, with Lamartine, rather as a reliquary than as a creative work: it is a panoramic view of the history of Christianity-a poem celebrating its dogmas and monuments, and "superstition's rod" seems to hang over the inspired defender of the Church. None the less beautiful, however, are many of its appeals to the past and to the human heart-none the less remarkable its success. He tells us it was undertaken not only from devout, but filial sentiment; his conversion having been induced by his mother's death and grief for his scepticism. Over the book, therefore, hangs an atmosphere of poetical and adventurous interest which lends it permanent attraction.

The Etudes Historiques were commenced and finished, as the author says, with a restoration ; and he adds: “ Le plus long et le dernier travail de ma vie, celui qui m'a coûté le plus de recherches, de soins et d'années, celui j'ai peut-être remué le plus d'idées et de faits, paroît lorsqu'il ne peut trouver de lecteurs.” This want of comparative success is easily accounted for by the absence of personal motive and interest in this elaborate, instructive, sometimes eloquent and characteristic work. The Itinéraire, Voyoge en Amérique, and, in fact, all his books of travel, while they contain charming passages, are now more interesting as links in his career than for their facts and descriptions--there having been no department of recent literature more affluent in graces of style and attraction of details than that of voyages and travels. In the East and our own country, he is, therefore, in a great measure, superseded by later and standard writers. His literary and political miscellanies are often rich in thought and imagery; the opinions they embrace are, however, frequently inconsistent; but there is a harmony of tone, a vigour of argument, a keen critical appreciation, and a gift of expression which indicate genius amid much that is desultory, extravagant and incomplete. The prejudices of the Roman Catholic, and the ignorance of the foreigner, sometimes rudely clash with the beautiful style of the rhetorician and the lofty sentiment of the bard. Amid the voluminous disquisition, the journals of travel, and the polemics of Chateaubriand, gems of narrative-episodes and illustrations in a truly poetic vein, of his arguments and descriptions, have served to wing his name abroad and cause it to nestle in many hearts : these are Atala, Reve, and Les Aventures du Dernier Abencerrage, romantic in conception and most gracefully executed-prose poems, in short, and the flowers of his mind, terse, beautiful, and embalmed in sentiment. In contrast with these is the most vigorous and the least charitable of his political essays, · Bonaparte and the Bourbons,” which Lamartine well describes as “the bitter speech of the public executioner of humanity and liberty, written by the hand of the Furies against the great culprit of the age.”

The passionate invective of this famous pamphlet would strike the reader differently could he imagine it addressed to the French people before the star of the conqueror began to wane; but it is associated with the image of Napoleon, not in the hour of his triumph, but as he sits at Fontainebleau, brooding in dishevelled garments and with despair on his brow over the defection of his household and the pitiless demands of the allies.

Wide, indeed, is the range of Chateaubriand's literary talent and achievement, and versatile as his fortunes: in politics singularly bold, almost ferocious; in history suggestive and ingenious; and in personal revelations often pathetic, picturesque, and sometimes vain, yet ever graphic. He knew the fever of mind incident to poetical conception—the long, patient vigil of the scholar, and the serene, contemplative mood of the philosopher. IIe experienced climaxes both of emotion and opinion, and vented both on paper. And with all the assiduity, the invention and the glow of these compositions, he had also the melo-dramatic, the exaggerated, and the artificial taste of a Frenchman; he loved effect—he was carried away by the desire of glory, tenacious of individuality, and happy in a kind of wayward yet noble self-assertion. Such a writer is naturally open to critical assault and fitted to excite admiration in equal degrees. Accordingly, his incongruities as a champion of religion have been often designated by writers of more chastened taste; the hardihood

and inconsistencies of his partisan articles justly condemned, and the effects of a too sensitive mind easily detected. As an instance of his want of spontaneous expression, and the habitude of well-considered language, Lamartine relates, in his History of the Restoration, that when sent as a deputy to the Emperor Alexander to plead the Bourbon cause, Chateaubriand was silent because he could not on the spur of the moment, as he afterwards declared, find language appropriate to the majesty of the occasion. He required time to utter himself in writing; and therefore, on this memorable occasion, allowed a younger and far less gifted member of the deputation to speak for him.

His style, too, has been censured for its grandiose tendency, and his authorship made the object of extreme laudation and scorn. What almost invariably claims our admiration, however, is the gallant and the comprehensive, the poetical and the sympathetic spirit in which he has written. Somewhat of the extravagance of his nation is indeed conspicuous ; but we are impelled to view it leniently on account of the grace and bravery with which it is usually combined. He opened glorious vistas, and let fall seeds of eternal truth. The sound of the sea, the setting of the sun, the roaring of the wind amid the pines, the fall of the leaf, the associations of home and country, the solemnity of ruins, the griefs of humanity, the vicissitudes of life, the sanctions of religion, tenderness, heroism, reverence, faith, -all, in short, that hallows and sublimates this brief existence and sheds a mystic glory over the path of empires, the scene of nature, and the lot of man, found eloquent recognition from his pen; and for such ministrations we give him love and honour, without losing sight of the vagueness, the prejudice, the artificiality and the exaggeration which occasionally mar such exuberant development. In him the conscious and personal sometimes dwarfs the essentially noble; but a kind of grandeur of feeling and thought often lifts him above the temporary. He cherished faith in his race: “Si l'homme," he says, est ingrat, l'humanité est reconnaissante.” “The masters of thought,” he declares, “open horizons, invent words, have heirs and lineages." For a Gallic nature, his appreciation of Milton, Dante, Tasso—of the serious phase of greatness-was remarkable, although some of his criticisms of English literature excite a smile. In his influence as a man of letters, for half a century he was the successful antagonist of Voltaire and his school. Often he gave impetus and embodiment to public opinion; and if his portraits are sometimes fanciful and his judgments poetic, his literary achievements. on the whole, had a rare character of adventure and beauty; and the alternations from severe reasoning to imaginative glow, are such as indicate a marvellous combination of intellectual power. For the complete revised edition of his works, he received five hundred and fifty thousand francs ; and perhaps no modern author boasts more remarkable trophies—such a blending of tinsel and truth-of the incongruous but efficient politician with the ardent, sensitive, heroic poet—incomplete and desultory in certain respects, fresh, courageous, true, eloquent and original in others; imprudent, but royal; “ worth an army to the Bourbons,” yet enamoured of American solitudes; as a journalist, said to unite “ la hauteur de Bossuet et la profondeur de Montesquieu; advising literary aspirants of his race and tongue not to try verse, and if they have the poetical instinct to eschew politics ; carrying the war into Napoleon's retreating dominion, and, at the same time, hailed as the dove of the Deluge, whose mission it was to renew the faith of the heart, and infuse the impoverished veins of the social body with generous sentiment." Enough of fame and of weakness we may, indeed, find in all this to crown a writer with admiration and pity. If his genius was somewhat too studied, it lent dignity to his times and country; if his youth was shackled by the pedantic coterie that have ruled French letters, his maturity redeemed, by the independent advocacy of truth and nature, the casual vassalage; if he once over-estimated Ossian, he never lost sight of the need of clear expression, and repudiated, when engaged on practical subjects, the vague conceptions he admired.

Chateaubriand's genius thus responded to national subjects, and. was modified by national imperfections in his poetical sentiment reminding us of St. Pierre, Rousseau, and Lamartine; while many passages in the Martyrs, Natchez, the magazines, letters, romances, in the answers to his critics and historical essays, challenge recognition for the philosopher; and yet, ever and anon, the manner in which he dwells upon his achievements, and the consideration he demands both from the reader and governments for his persecutions and his fame, cause us somewhat painfully to realize the weakness of the man. In this anti-Saxon and thoroughly Gallic egotism, sensitiveness, vanity, or by whatever name we designate a quality so obvious and characteristic, Chateaubriand was a genuine Frenchman. He describes this trait of his nation justly when accounting for the fruitfulness of its literature in memoirs and the comparative dearth of history :-" Le Francois a été tous les temps, même lorsqu'il étoit barbare, vain, léger et sociable. Il réfléchit peu sur l'ensemble des objets ; mais il observe curieusement les tails, et son coup d'ail est prompt, sûr et délié ; il faut toujours qu'il soit en scène. Il aime à dire ; j'etois , le roi me dit ; J'appu du prince," etc.


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