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perhaps symbolic that a quarry has made a hideous gash in the hillside on the shores of Rydal Mere right opposite Wordsworth's house.
If the man of science and the utilitarian do not learn what nature is in herself they learn at least to adjust themselves to forces outside themselves. The Rousseauist, on the other hand, does not in his “communion" with nature adjust himself to anything. He is simply communing with his own mood. Rousseau chose appropriately as title for the comedy that was his first literary effort “Narcissus or the Lover of Himself.” The nature over which the Rousseauist is bent in such rapt contemplation plays the part of the pool in the legend of Narcissus. It renders back to him his own image. He sees in nature what he himself has put there. The Rousseauist transfuses himself into nature in much the same way that Pygmalion transfuses himself into his statue. Nature is dead, as Rousseau says, unless animated by the fires of love. “Make no mistake,” says M. Masson, "the nature that Jean-Jacques worships is only a projection of Jean-Jacques. He has poured himself forth so complacently upon it that he can always find himself and cherish himself in it.” And M. Masson goes on and quotes from a curious and little-known fragment of Rousseau: “Beloved solitude,” Rousseau sighs, “beloved solitude, where I still pass with pleasure the remains of a life given over to suffering. Forest with stunted trees, marshes without water, broom, reeds, melancholy heather, inanimate objects, you who can neither speak to me nor hear me, what secret charm brings me back constantly into your midst? Unfeeling and dead things, this charm is not in you; it could not be there. It is in my own heart which wishes to refer back everything to itself.”i Coleridge plainly only continues Rousseau when he writes:
O Lady! we receive but what we give,
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Ab! from the soul itself must issue forth
Enveloping the Earth.
The fair luminous cloud is no other than the Arcadian imagination. “The light that never was on sea or land, the consecration and the poet's dream" of which Wordsworth speaks, is likewise as appears very plainly from the context, Arcadian. He should once, Wordsworth writes, have wished to see Peele Castle bathed in the Arcadian light, but now that he has escaped by sympathy for his fellow-men from the Arcadian aloofness, he is willing that it should be painted in storm. Mere storminess, one should recollect, is not in itself an assurance that one has turned from the romantic dream to reality. One finds in this movement, if nowhere else, as I remarked apropos of Chateaubriand, the stormy Arcadia.
1 Fragment de l'Art de jouir, quoted by P.-M. Masson in La Religion de J.-J. Rousseau, 11, 228.
? If nature merely reflects back to a man his own image, it follows that Coleridge's celebrated distinction between fancy and imagination has little value, inasmuch as he rests his proof of the unifying power of the imagination, in itself a sound idea, on the union the imagination effects between man and outer nature — and this union is on his own showing fanciful.
* If I had had this consecration Wordsworth says, addressing Peele Castle,
I would have planted thee, thou hoary Pile,
Elysian quiet, without toil or strife, etc.
It is not through the Arcadian imagination that one moves towards reality. This does not much matter if what one seeks in a “return to nature" is merely recreation. I cannot repeat too often that I have no quarrel with the nature cult when it remains recreative but only when it sets up as a substitute for philosophy and religion. This involves a confusion between the two main directions of the human spirit, a confusion as I have said in a previous chapter between the realm of awe and the region of wonder. Pascal exaggerates somewhat when he says the Bible never seeks to prove religion from the “wonders" of nature. But this remark is true to the total spirit of the Bible. A knowledge of the flowers of the Holy Land is less necessary for an understanding of the gospel narrative than one might suppose from Renan.' Renan is simply seeking to envelop Jesus so far as possible in an Arcadian atmosphere. In so doing he is following in the footsteps of the great father of sentimentalists. According to M. Masson, Jesus, as depicted by Jean-Jacques, be comes “a sort of grand master of the Golden Age."
Here as elsewhere the Rousseauist is seeking to identify the Arcadian view of life with wisdom. The result is a series of extraordinarily subtle disguises for egoism. We think we see the Rousseauist prostrate before the ideal woman or before nature or before God himself, but when we look more closely we see that he is only (as SainteBeuve said of Alfred de Vigny) “in perpetual adoration before the holy sacrament of himself.” The fact that he finds in nature only what he has put there seems to be for Rousseau himself a source of satisfaction. But the poem of Coleridge I have just quoted, in which he proclaims that so far as nature is concerned "we receive but what we give,” is entitled “Ode to Dejection.” One of man's deepest needs would seem to be for genuine communion, for a genuine escape, that is, from his ordinary self. The hollowness of the Rousseauistic communion with nature as well as other Rousseauistic substitutes for genuine communion is indissolubly bound up with the subject of romantic melancholy.
1 Cf. Doudan, Lettres, iv, 216: “ J'ai parcouru le Saint-Paul de Renan. Je n'ai jamais vu dans un théologien une si grande connaissance de la flore orientale. C'est un paysagiste bien supérieur à Saint-Augustin et à Bossuet. Il sème des résédas, des anémones, des pâquerettes pour recueillir l'incrédulité.".
ROUSSEAU and his early followers especially perhaps his early French followers — were very much preoccupied with the problem of happiness. Now in a sense all men everr those who renounce the world and mortiiy the flesh
aim et kappiness. The important point to determine is what any particular person means by happiness and how he hopes to attain it. It should be plain from all that has been said that the Rousseauist seeks happiness in the free play of the emotions. The “Influence of the Passions on Happiness" is the significant title of one of Madame de Staël's early treatises. The happiness that the Rousseauist seeks involves not merely a free play of feeling but — what is even more important - a free
a hlay of the imagination. Feeling acquires a sort of infinitude as a result of this coöperation of the imagination, and so the romanticist goes, as we have seen, in quest of the thrill superlative, as appears so clearly in his nympholepsy, his pursuit of the "impossible she.” But the more imaginative this quest for emotional happiness grows the more it tends to become a mere nostalgia. Happiness is achieved so far as it is achieved at all in dreamland. Rousseau says of himself: Mon plus constant bonheur fut en songe. Every finite satisfaction by the very fact that it is finite leaves him unsatisfied. René says that he had exhausted solitude as he had exhausted society: they had both failed to satisfy his insatiable desires. René plainly