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customed to see with their own eyes, and to hear with their own ears. Fancy had to vie with fact, and to beat it out of the field; and those versed in the French annals of the last sixty years can imagine the seducing and demoralising character of such a desperate competition.
The other cause we believe to have been the feuilleton. Writers addressing a public who read them day by day, a chapter at a time, were obliged to sacrifice every other consideration to effect. They could not trust to the impression which would be left by the entire work; they could not wait for their meed of applause till the perusal was completed. Each morning's repast must have its own attractive dish. The reader would not forgive a dull chapter to-day, in the hopes of an exciting one to-morrow; nor would he, reading piecemeal and in a café, be satisfied with those simple, modest, real merits which might have attracted and pleased him in a complete volume and at his own fireside. Hence novels thus issued required not only to be crowded with incidents and scenes, but to have those incidents and scenes of a particularly stimulating character. Now a great proportion of the novels and romances of our day in France appeared in the first instance in the columns of a daily newspaper.
We can conceive no system of publication so fatal to artistic perfection; and we regret deeply to have seen the introduction of something analogous in this country. Dickens and Thackeray have, in our judgment, much to answer for, both to the public and to their own fame, for having imported the custom of periodic fiction. We can understand the temptation to poor men or obscure men of a plan so pecuniarily advantageous. But we do not understand that men of unquestioned genius and established celebrity should be willing to expose either to the temptations and the dangers of so mischievous a habit. Already the injurious effects of it are traceable in both these admirable but faulty writers. It has made their best works inconsistent, incomplete, and disjointed. The defects to which it almost inevitably leads are especially observable in Mr. Dickens. There is scarcely one of his novels which is not spoiled by it in a way and to an extent which no artist of true and lofty ambition could endure. It has ruined his plots *, it has con
• Even Bulwer, whose arrangement of his plots used to be so careful and admirable, has fallen a victim to this abominable importation. In 'My Novel,' which appeared month by month in Black* wood's Magazine,' the plot is singularly unartistic, clumsy, damaging to, and inconsistent with, the character of the production as a whole. fused his characters, it has fatally aggravated his already excessive tendency to caricature. Its operation in him is peculiarly observable in this—that his dramatis personæ often turn out quite differently from what was intended on their first introduction, and foreboded by their first words and actions. His stories are begun upon a plan which is speedily abandoned as something more tempting or promising turns up. He often seems to write at random; his first chapters read like an uncertain prelude; and it is only when he chances to strike some rich or happy vein that the future tendency and conduct of the fiction is determined. There are few of his works in which the first half volume would not require to be rewritten to bring it into harmony with the master idea and key-note of the rest.
In one most important and significant respect the tone of French literature in the present century has undergone even a greater modification than its form and direction - in all, we mean, that relates to the religious sentiment. The prevalent spirit of the last age was that not of simple scepticism, but of hard, cold, aggressive infidelity. The unbelief of the men of that time was something more than a negation: it may be said to have amounted not only to a positive creed, but to an inspiring faith. Now, all this is changed; and without any close analysis of the difference, no one can pass from the study of Voltaire, Raynal, Diderot, Helvetius, and their collaborateurs, to the perusal of Madame de Staël, Chateaubriand, Guizot, Lamartine, or even of George Sand, and not be conscious that they are breathing an altogether different atmosphere. It is not that scepticism has become extinct or unfashionable. It is not that these writers or their imitators are believers, in our sense of the word ; scarcely one of them belongs to any sect, or would be owned by any church : but though a creed may be wanting, the religious sentiment is there. The poet felt it stirring in his soul ; his muse was arid and cold without it;the historian read indications of its undying vitality in every page of the world's annals; —the thinker, now that strife and passion had passed away, discerned how shallow, barren, and incomplete was the philosophy which sought to banish or deny it. But with the great majority of these writers, even those whose tone is reverential and devout, religion scarcely reaches a more definite form, or a firmer foundation, than a vague instinct, or a strong emotion; it is poetical, not theological; it is the result of impression, not of reflection or research. J'ai pleuré, ó et j'ai cru,' says Chateaubriand. "J'aime: il faut que j'espère,' says Lamartine. The religion of this last great poet is a sort of type of that which pervades the better portion of the literary
life of France. It is an emotion of the heart - not the guide of life.
L'élément moral' (says M. Vinet with great justice) 'qui tient si peu de place dans sa dogmatique, est le seul qui, transformant un fluide vague en un corps solide, puisse opérer, pour ainsi dire, le cristallisation du sentiment religieux. Toute religion où la conscience ne joue pas la rôle principal, n'est qu'une poésie on un philosophème, et ne tarde pas à se perdre dans un panthéisme ouvert ou désavoué.
à C'est la qu'en definitive aboutit et s'abîme le Christianisme de Lamartine, parceque, dès le principe, sa religion n'est guère que de l'éblouissement et de l'extase. Il est bien moins le serviteur que l'admirateur et le courtisan de Dieu.
Catholique dans les vieux temples, panthéiste dans les vieilles forêts, abondant tour à tour dans le sens des rationalistes et dans le sens des orthodoxes, Chrétien “ parceque sa mère était Chrétienne,” philosophe parceque son siècle est le dix-neuvième, acceptant les prophéties et renversant les miracles, sans prendre garde que les prophéties sont aussi des miracles; mais toujours, il faut l'avouer, ému de la beauté de Dieu, retentissant comme une lyre vivante au contact des merveilles de la création, repandant son ceur avec la simplicité de l'enfance et du génie devant l'Être invisible dont la pensée tout à la fois l'oppresse et le ravit, M. de Lamartine ... ne nous donne
“ le sentiment “ moral et religieux pris à cette région où tout ce qui s'élève à Dieu se “ rencontre et se réunit, et non à celle où les specialités, les systèmes " et les controverses divisent les cæurs et les intelligences.” ... Ne demandez donc pas les articles de son symbole ; ramassez tout ce que vous pourrez de ces magnifiques images du néant de la vie, de la poésie des ruines, de l'éternelle jeunesse de la Nature, des mille voix de la Création, du concert des sphères, de l'immensité de Dieu, de la réunion promise dans son sein à ceux qui s'aimèrent ici-bas, ajoutez-y quelques allusions bibliques fort touchantes, et vous avez la religion de Jocelyn et de Lamartine. Riens de moins, mais aussi rien de plus; car en vain vous y chercherez l'élément vital, je ne dis pas du Christianisme, mais de toute religion née ailleurs que dans le cerveau de poëte, l'élément générateur de toute religion qui a exercé quelque empire sur les individus et sur les peuples; je veux dire l'élément de la Conscience, l'idée de la loi, de la responsibilité, du péché, de la satisfaction. Tout ce qui rende une religion sainte, tout ce qui l'élève au-dessus de la poésie, tout ce qui en fait autre chose qu'une manière de courtiser la divinité, tout ce qui lui donne un corps, un substance, une réalité, tout cela manque dans la religion désossée de Jocelyn.'
And, we may add, in the religion of Frenchmen of letters in the nineteenth century. Still the improvement, as compared with the last age, is unquestionable. The feelings and convictions of rational devotion are not outraged as before at every turn: if there is not much more to satisfy, there is infinitely less to shock; and the gain that has been made good may be a step to further progress.
We must conclude this rapid enumeration of the principal distinctive features of the French literature of our day, by calling attention to one of the most obvious and striking — its exuberant, and what Burke would call, its quadrumanous activity. For one writer of the last century we have a score now. The pen is the sword of the age, which every one considers himself entitled to wear and to wield - often, no doubt, feebly enough ; often clumsily; often in a bad cause.
Hear the half comic, half bitter, complaint of M. Montegut in his sketch De • la Vie littéraire depuis la fin du Dix-huitième Siècle.'
. Aujourdhui, me disait on récemment, tout le monde écrit: on se fait hommes de lettres comme à d'autres époques on se * faisait moine : c'est une maladie du temps. Ceux qui sont ' pauvres et qui cherchent à se créer une influence; ceux qui • sont riches et qui cherchent à conserver leur préponderance; les 'jeunes gens possédés de cet éternel désir de la gloire, et qui pour la conquérir, auraient jadis pris une épée ou commandé un navire; les aventuriers qui auraient autrefois passé les mers pour aller chercher l'imprévu ou la fortune; les condottieri toujours prêts à servir qui les paie, tous ceux-là se font hommes . de lettres, écrivains, journalistes. Ainsi tous les désirs, toutes « les ambitions intraitables du caur humain se tournent pour (trouver leur satisfaction du côté de la littérature: c'est la di
rection unique de tous les instincts bons ou mauvais des • hommes de notre temps. Tous ces hommes n'écrivent pas
parcequ'ils sont écrivains, mais parcequ'ils sont ambitieux, orgueilleux, ou cupides, ou bien encore affamés de renommée * et de gloire. Cette carrière est, si nous pouvons nous exprimer
ainsi, le deversoir unique de toutes les passions, de toutes les . inquiétudes, de tous les désirs.'
Perhaps, of all the characteristics of the time, this tendency is not the least sad or sinister. A restlessness of spirit that knows not what it wants; an ignorance of self that knows not what it can do; a rebellion against wholesome restraints that shrinks alike from mental toil and mental discipline; a boyish vanity, that burns to gain the ear, and influence the feelings of the public without preparation and without capacity ;-these are ill auguries for the peace and progress of the nation. Whence help and rescue are to come, we confess we do not see. It is hopeful to know that there still exist many Frenchmen keenly alive to the dangers and defects of their intellectual position, and courageous enough to analyse and stigmatise them.
ART. V. -.1. Gulielmi Caorsin Rhodiorum Vicecancellarii
obsidionis Rhodiæ urbis descriptio. Ulm, 1496. 2. Relation du Siège de Rhodes. Par Mary DUPUIS. 3. History of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem. By Chevalier
TAAFFE. London: 1852. IN n speaking of Rhodes in its historical connexion with the
Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, we naturally point to three sieges equally memorable. The first is the four years' siege which terminated in the conquest of the island by the Order, under Fulk de Villaret; the second is the subject of this article ; and the third is that which is perhaps the best known of all, as resulting in their capitulation and loss of the island. The first may be said to have reawakened the fame and importance of Rhodes; and the last to have created that of Malta. Though no such obvious historical sequence can be said to flow from the second, inasmuch as it left the fortunes of the island in the hands in which it found them, it is richer in brilliant and suggestive details than either of the other two, as reported by contemporary historians. It occurred, moreover, at an epoch when the success of the defence was even of more importance to Europe than the actual possession of the place can be said to have been to Asia half a century later. Mahomet the Second, conqueror of Trebizond and Byzantium, was a more dangerous neighbour than any of his successors on the Turkish throne.
Whoever would entertain such conjecture of this small point of time as we can lend him, must be pleased to place himself under the guidance of two chroniclers who have led over the ground all subsequent historians of the Sovereign Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, from Bosio and the ingenious Abbé Vertot to the Chevalier Taaffe, the last knightly encomiast of his illustrious brethren. They are by name one William Caoursin, vice-chancellor and public orator of the Order for the time being, and one Mederic or Mary Dupuis, a French soldier (as we take it) of Auvergne. We shall also have the assistance of an anonymous artist, whose original sketches (and very original they are) were copied by the medium of woodcuts, and printed with Caoursin's book at Ulm in 1496.
Caoursin was not a native of Rhodes, as it has been the fashion to consider him, but of French Flanders: - Gallus
_ • Belga Duacius' --- as he styles himself. Our readers may possibly agree that his assertion of his own nationality as a brave Belge is corroborated by the manner of his Comment