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than real Elysian Fields , in the vanished days when life itself was heroic , and the world hardly less a fairy domain than the gorgeous realms of the storyteller ! But in those times we had not such a trustworthy guide as Mr . Planche * . Our Ginderellas were , so to speak , disguised with sundry cosmetics , the work of translators who took upon themselves to edit , as well as to render one language into another . Our Beauties were shorn of their fair proportions ; our Beasts were not allowed to present themselves in the fulness of their beasthood . Mr . Planch ^ has set this matter right ; and the young ones , who religiously hold that a fairytale cannot be too long , will thank him . But his volume also possesses , a literary value for older readers . It contains the writings of persons whose lives spread over about a century , and therefore presents a chronological view of the progress of a very interesting species of romance-writing from its first fresh budding to it 3 somewhat overwrought and faded decline . Mr . Planche observes in his Preface : —
The reader will by this arrangement observe , in a clearer way than probably he has yet had an opportunity of doing , the rise , progress , and decline of the genuine Fairy Tale—so thoroughly French in its origin , so specially connected with the age of that * Grand Monarque' whose reign presents us , in the graphic pages of St . Simon and Dangeau , with innumerable pictures of manners and customs , dresses and entertainments , the singularity , magnificence , profusion , and extent of which scarcely require the fancy of a D'Aulnoy to render fabulous . In my introduction to the tales of that ' lively and ingenious lady , ' I have already shown the progress of the popularity of this class of composition ; but in the present volume it will be seen how , in the course
of little more than half a century , the Fairy Tale , from a fresh , sparkling , simple , yet arch version of a legend as old as the monuments of that Celtic race by whom they ¦ were introduced into Gaul , became first elaborated into a novel , comprising an ingenious plot , with an amusing exaggeration of the manners of the period ; next , inflated into a preposterous and purposeless caricature of its own peculiarities ; and finally , denuded of its sportive fancy , its latent humour , and its gorgeous extravagance , subsided into the dull , common-place moral story , which , taking less hold of the youthful imagiuation , was , however laudable in its' intention , a very ineffective substitute for the merry monitors it vainly endeavoured to supersede . Too much like a lesson for the child , it was too childish for the man .
Still , notwithstanding their varieties , there Is , we think , a marked tone of courtliness , derived from the time of Louis Quartorze , running through all these fictions . They are the productions of ¦ writers who sought to amuse ' the polite circles , ' and are singular specimens of that fashion which long prevailed , not only in France , where it originated , but almost all over Europe , of combining the extreme of court artificiality with a certain assumed simplicity and gentlemanly idealism . The incidents are those of the most wild and marvellous enchantment ; the manners , the style of speech , the turn of thought , the whole tone and compl exion of the stories , are those of aPrench court . In the same way that in their architecture the satellites of the Grand Monarque brought back the elements of the Greek and Roman styles combined with modern prettinessss , and in their poetry introduced the
gods and goddesses of antiquity into modish drawing-rooms among bewigged gentlemen and hooped ladies—in the same way that in their porcelain they dressed shepherds and shepherdesses in the costliest costumes of the palace —so , in these fairy fictions , they and their successors held the winged and volatile loveliness of the lands of enchantment within the circle of Versailles . Never were supernatural beings so well-bred as these ; never were benignant fays so instructed in the rules of politesse . They show the fashions of the time as well as if they were real folk ; they bring with them the perfumed airs of the boudoir . You see at a glance—you hear in every word they utter —• ¦ wh ere those gallant young princes and adorable princesses
learnt their incomparable address . The scent of the pouncet-box is over all . Yet this very absurdity forms part of the gay fascination of the whole . The most impressive and truly poetical elements of the fairy world are undoubtedly not reached ; but a brilliant and fantastic rainbow is thrown over the page , delighting us partly by its fanciful beauty , partly by the strange glimpses it gives of a vanished phase of human nature . Who does not admire the quaint , bright figures of the Dresden china pastorals , where over-civilized ladies and gentlemen are seen making desperate , almost pathetic , efforts to be natural and simple ? Who does not perceive a strange charm in those delicate little poems of Prior—and , to a certain extent , of Waller too—in which Venus and thelioves flutter in the scented air of the
drawing-room , and speak the language of repartee and the thoughts of modern life ? Analogous to the pleasure we take in those productions is the delight given by these French talcs of Faery . When Madame Vestris introduced into one of Mr . Planche ' s extravaganzas a dance of shepherds and shepherdesses dressed in the costume of lust century , yet appearing in the midst of fairyland , and when , last year at the Olympic , in the same writer ' s latest burlesque , a similar scene was presented , the real central principle of these novellettes was hit . Mr . Planche is the veritable king of this sparkling world ; and we heartily recommend his volume as one of the pleasantest of Christmas books .
BERANGER'S BIOGRAPHY . Ma JJiographie , ouvrage poathume de P . J . Beranger . Paris , 1857 . Perrotin . M . Pebkotin did wisely in reserving the publication of this volume until after the appearance of the J ) ernieres Chansons—which were decidedly a check for the reputation of their author . In the remarks we recently made on those songs , as lenient as the struggle of justice with affection would allow , it would appear literary opinion in France entirely concurs . The volume sells , however—and would aell ev « n if it wero not patronized by advertising tailors who give it as a prize to their customers ; and the crowd reads and admires , partly from want of critical power , but chiefly because of its favourable disposition towards the poet .
For B 6 ranger is certainly the most popular and most national poet of France . Hebegan as a chamonnier—which means far less than our ' songster' —at a time when Rouget de L'He disdained that appellation and insisted on having the * Marseillaise styled an Ode . For a long while the huinility of his pretensions prevented him from obtaining real literary recognition . " It was b y the English , " as he says himself , " that I was first given he title of poet—in the Edinburgh Review" His productions were popular , lowerer , long before hio real merit was Acknowledged . By the time that ower thought of persecuting hint he was identified with the sympathies of
all France . Since that , despite some foolish protests from the priest-partv his fame has widened and deepened—so much that he himself seemed some ' what startled , and was often inclined to protest against so universal mS enthusiastic a verdict . waa < 1 '¦ JP * £ \ that Granger was not only a true poet , but a true man This / Biographie' shows . t . Of its kind'tis a moSel of excellence £ first its brevity , the absence of detail , especially of scandalous detail thJ careful avoidance , of any attempt to startle the reader by ' revelations ' - which usually , it is true , startle no one—produce a feeling of disappoint ment Is this all , we are inclined to ask , that a man of fourscoreE % * VJ d * 5 ? , fc * 1 S Career ' V wlien far inferior men > even during their lifetime , think it necessary to blot oceans of paper with records not only of the most indifferent actions of their lives , but even of the first dT velopment of their physical passions ? Two hundred and fifty-seven paees only ! Well , it is enougTi . This example of modest brevity was worth giving , even at the sacrifice of many narratives and anecdotes which would scarcel y have increased our knowledge of the author
r ^ av ^ him hexe fromtopto toe-sketched , it istrue , by himself in outline , like Charlet ' s full-length portrait m the title-page—and as it were in miniature , but sufficiently complete to leave a lasting impression . It were to be wished that every eminent writer who wins the applause and love of the public would take care to leave behind him a narrative so full and so reserved . Beranger does not write the history of his times nor of his contemporaries . He writes a history of himself , his struggles with fortune , his private adventures , the development of his mind , the origin of his works the manner of their success , the friendships they brought him and the persecutions ; and the reasons and form of his retirement from the literary contest -Lhe reaections , " he ' observes , with charming appreciative power , but too great modesty , " which / will mingle with my narrative , will savour of the existence . I have led wear the ground . Let great men have their great recitals ! This is nothing but the story of a maker of songs . "
No matter ; the story is most interesting . We would abridge it , if it were possible to abridge , an epitome . The reader , though satisfied not to know more than Beranger chooses to tell , will certainly not be satisfied to know less . We shall merely remind him , therefore , that Beranger was the grandson of a tailor , whose daughter married a grocer ' s book-keeper , who pretended to be of an aristocratic family ; that the first books he heard read , before he could read himself , were the novels of PreVot and the works of Voltaire and Raynal ; that he was early deserted hy his father , and grew up in . the midst of a precarious dependence oh various relatives—on the old tailor , for example , and his aunt , who lived at Pe * ronne . The latter
sheltered him until the verge of manhood , instilling Jacobinism and piety—a curious mixture ;—into his mind ; but above all , sentiments of patriotism and violent prejudices , not wonderful at that time of invasion , against ' the foreigner / All Beranger ' s theories , if he can be said to have had any theories , were formed during his residence in Picardy . It was there he learned to love the Republic , whilst deploring its excesses ; but it was there also he learned to substitute sometimes for true liberality a sort of patriotism which is very common in France , and which is compounded of a feeling of military honour and a lovefor the soil , that is peculiarly characteristic of the peasant and the savage .
As a boy at Peronne , Beranger was a member of a sort of school-club , delighted to sing Republican songs , and , showing early a talent for composition , was charged on great occasions with the task of drawing up addresses to the Convention and Maximilian Robespierre . Soon afterwards he entered a printing establishment , but made little progress in the art . Here , however , he learned something of the principles of versification , and began to develop a taste for poetry which he had long before exhibited . When he was twelve years of age , he used to draw two parallels down a piece of paper , fill them up with rhymed lines , and fancy he was making verses , as regular as those of Racine !
When Beranger was fifteen , in 1795 , his father fetched him away from Peronne and took him to Paris , where he wanted his assistance in certain banking operations in which he was engaged . Here he came in contact with various Royalist conspirators—for BeVanger the elder , as in duty bound by his supposed noble extraction , was a staunch Legitimist ; but he carefully avoided the contagion of example . His picture of those fine gentlemen , who when they wanted money sometimes helped his father at hia toilette , is amusing , and bears every mark of truth . One of them believed that the rightful heir to the throne was a M . de Vernon , who professed to be descended from the Man with the Iron Mask ; and was much disappointed that Bonaparte did not make himself the Monk of this pretender . In 1798 Beranger ' s bank failed , and the son bade adieu to financial operations for
ever . For some time he was poor . This is the period to which he refers so often with regret , more literary than poignant , when he knew the Lisettes and the Roses whom he has immortalized . But he says nothing of them ; and , though our curiosity may be disappointed , we must commend his silence . What could he have told us that would not have dimmed or stained the picture he has left us elsewhere ? " Though ugly and weakly in appearance , I had never occasion to spend money . " Enough ; his poverty and cheerfulness softened hearts which were otherwise adamant , except to the generous . We know what sort of liaisons he means ; and , if there could be any doubt , that jarring line in l Dans un grenier , ' would informs us—J ' tti su depuis qui payait sa toilette .
BeYangcr had no sentimental episode to record . With the exception some kind allusions to the ' friendly hand' that mended hia shirts , when ho had only three , he has nothing more to sny about his early loves than this : — There was , nevertheless , something pleasant in my poverty . I inhabited a mansarde on the sixth story , looking on the Boulevard St . Martin . What a beautiful view I enjoyed ! How I loved , in the evening , to gaze over the immense cityr when with the noises that ceaselessly uprise from it was mingled the clamour of some great storm ! I had installed myself in this garret with inexpressible satisfaction , without money , -without certainty aa to the future , but happy to be at last delivered from all thoso troublesome ttftuira which , since my return to Paris , had constantly offended my sentiment * and my tastes . To liva alone and make voraea as I pleased
1240 THE LEADER . [ No . 405 , December 26 . 1857 .
Leader (1850-1860), Dec. 26, 1857, page 1240, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse2.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2223/page/16/