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seemed to m « true felicity . Besides , my budding wisdom was not of the kind that banishes all kinds of enjoyment ; far from it . Perhaps I have never perfectly known what our romancers , ancient and modern , call love ; for I have always regarded woman not as a spouse or as a mistress , that is to say , as is too often the case , as a slave or a tyrant , but as a friend whom God has given us . The tenderness full of esteem which that sex inspired me with from my very youth has never ceased to be the source to me of the sweetest consolation . I triumphed over a disposition to melancholy , the fits of which became less and less frequent , thanks to women and poetry : [ should say , thanks to women ; for poetry came to me from them . The ' friendly hand' above alluded to belonged to Mademoiselle Judith , who , when the former lovers were above sixty years of age , came to live as housekeeper with Be ' ranger , a fact that gave rise to the ridiculous report Lhat he had married his servant . But we have no reason to contradict the
poet when he implies that all his licentious songs were purely imaginative in their source . His Lisette , it has been well remarked , was nothing but the Lisette of the eighteenth century described in warmer and truer coloursthe mistress of all young men of strong rather than delicate passions , who have not yet found their real mate . Perhaps we should believe that the songs of Beranger , in which he describes the free life of twenty , gathering honey from the flowers nearest the wayside , instead of representing in any way a real period of his own existence , have since created a yearning for such a state in the generation which learned to sing them , and have led to ittempts at realization . The Musettes and . Mimis of the Quartier Latin are imitations , sometimes against their will , of the kind beauties of Beranger trained by students who are determined to be poetical in debauchery , ° When we have spoken of the amorous poetry of Beranger we have spoken jf nearly half the man . Nearly all the remainder was political . The Biographie' will enable the reader to follow the slow development of this complete talent , which did not exhibit its real power until 1813 . Then the
appearance of the ' Senateur , ' ' Petit HoinrueGris , ' the * Gueux , 'and the * Roi 1 'Yvetot' brought Be ' ranger rapidly into notice . The last song was circulated in manuscript , and was intended as an attack on the Imperial government , [ t attracted the attention of the police ; but the Emperor , although his ittention was formally directed to it , did not think proper to act against the author . We may here mention that Beranger , \ mting in 1840 , always speaks -with mighty respect of the Cprsican myth—although with certain mild reservations in favour of republicanism . He looked upon him as the incarnation of the national spirit , and , indeed , did so much to perpetuate the superstitious reverence of the people for his name that he could scarcely ivith decency retract . He has a very good passage , however , against the plagiarism , of antiquity , introduced by the Republic , but hugely exaggerated by the Emperor . ^ Herault de Sechelles was checked in endeavouring to Iravr tip a constitution for France because he could not get a complete copy !) f the Laws of Minos .
My admiration for Bonaparte ( says Beranger ) did not prevent me from often treating him as a college-man . Paoli had seen through this . He was , ia many reipects , one of Plutarch ' s heroes , and he will , therefore , remain , I hope , the last and perhaps 'he greatest man of the old world , which , he was so fond of reconstituting—after his > wn fashion , however ^ Alas ! nothing is so unl ucky as to struggle with a new world . STapoleon succumbed in the attempt . In 1815 he wrote to the Regent of England ; hat he came , like Themistocles , to sit down at the British hearth ! Jn 1841 we created Napoleon according to his own taste . Although it was publicly known that lis remains were in a state of miraculous preservation , the journals and the authorities would persist in talking of 'the ashes of Napoleon ; ' and soldiers hearing this expression often repeated , exclaimed , " Voyez , ces gredins d'Anglais l ' avaient bTiile *!" But the abundance of topics in this pregnant little volume is carrying us away . We have not quoted any of the charming narratives , anecdotes , and
observations we have marked as specimens of its manner ; we must forego the pleasure . The most important portion is the account of the war carried 3 h by Beranger in the name of the Liberal party , against the series of corrupt ministers which ended with Polignac , against the bigoted system of government under Louis XVIII . and Charles X ., and against the institution of Monarchy itself . In order to crown this war by vicLory it was found or thought necessary to lean on the unwholesome prejudices of the ignorant , masses in favour of the imperial regime , which had been found an intolerable burden whilst it existed . Hence the constant glori 6 cation of Napoleon , the man who had knocked so many kings about the head , and ' made their chivalry to skip . ' The French may be very * democratic '—if we use that word in the sense in which it is used by the Monitcur— but they have always shunned the labour of giving the will of the people an
organization . The man who cuts the heads oft" the tallest poppies is their chosen tribune . You will often hear them say tlmfc if they do not appreciate liberty they understand equality . This is the saddest confession a nation can make . . The mission of Beranger was to give it poetical form . In a thousand different ways he laboured , and with success , to destroy all respect for artificial distinctions , for kings , ministers , senators , for acquired positions of all kinds . 1 'he simple poet , in his IVotestant minister ' s costume , without any very distinct consciousness of what he was doing , made himself the standard of the citizen ; and because he was good , honest , temperate , generous , and tenderhearted , believed that these qualities were the result of his social insignilicance . His beau ideal was a nation composed of such individualities . He
would have peopled France with philosophers such as himself . This was his Utopia . JJut he had no idea of institutions likely to bring about such a result . Vague aspirations for n republic only served to obscure his reason . He worshipped , it . must be admitted , the power which would have permitted him , and which he believed would have permitted others , to live that decent quiet life , sipart from public affairs , whicli appeared so charming to him . It would be harsh to apply to so good a man the accusation which has been directed with reason against one kind of republicanism in France , that its essence is envy ; but it is certain that he shared the ignorance which has led our neighbours to their catastrophe , and laboured to overthrow without much caring what was to be rebuilt , He confounded the form of faith
with essentials ; and , from hatred of bigotry and puritanism , preached a morality which , out of Arcadia , would bring society to dissolution in twentyfour hours . But all this was more the fault of hia time than his own . lie invented nothing . He only expressed what was in the minds and hearts of all . In
this , too , he was a genuine poet . Neither Homer , nor Dante , nor Milton was more in contact with the life of his time , nor more accurately repeated its pulsations than Beranger . Read fift y of his best songs : they are a history in diminutive chapters of the intellectual movement of France in that age . They could not have been written before by any other ; and we know that Beranger himself could not write such things again . For twentyyears , after a youth of humble privation , be tood forth as the epitome of all that was liberal , all that was hopeful , all that was noble , but also of all that was passionate and prejudiced in Franee . His power of identification with contemporary feeling was so great , too , that , whilst perfectly representing the tone of the middle classes , he gave voice at the same time to the unknown aspirations of the masses . This was the chief secret of his
enduring popularity . No other man in France has ever addressed so wide a public . His songs have been sung on the same night in brilliant salons and beneath the ragged thatch which protects barbarians who have never heard of any other rhymester . We say nothing of the classical purity of his language . It is not only pure according to French rule , but exquisitely correct even to foreign appreciation . In almost all cases it is nature itself ; Wit , tenderness humour , passion—all find their appropriate expression . France owes a debt to the man who first dared to give the title of poet to Beranger ; for the world , uninstructed in academical criticism , might perhaps have gone on whispering to itself that that country had no genuine poet whatever to produce .
LOUIS THE FOURTEENTH AND THE REGENT . The Memoirs of the DvJke of St . Simon , on the Reign of Louis XIV . and the Regency Abridged from the French . By Bayle St . John . Yols . III . aud IV . Chapman « nd Hall . These volumes contain the perfect picture of a court , in the days when courtiers wore silk and p lumes , and decorated boots . Mr . St . John ' s first series brought the abridgment down to the death of Monseigneur , and the grotesque drama enacted at the side of his coffin . The second , concluding the Memoirs , closes with the funeral of the Duke of Orleans . Few books have ever disclosed so rich a store of anecdote , or so many graphic glimpses of the private life of kings , queens , and their confidants . St . Simon was merciless in his confessions , and though excessively egotistic , described his own follies with unconscious elaboration . That such a
narrative should so long have been buried in the immensity of the French original , is matter of surprise . In its English dress , at least , it is a rare Scandalous Chronicle , without an offensive passage , and could more be said to tempt the fastidious general reader ? St . Simon was a courtier in every sense of the word , and attached a majesty almost regal to the title of Duke . The happiest moment of his life was that in which he found himself seated with covered head upon a raised bench , in presence of the proud third estate , whicli knelt , uncovered , before him . That debt has since been repaid , and a good many small St . Simons live to regret the insolence of which these Memoirs furnish so many curious illustrations . No other men , however , can possibly regret the age of Louis XIV ., or the Regency , except , perhaps , the falconers of Compiegne , secretly ashamed of wearing sylvan green and gold , in the waning half of the nineteenth century , and in the retinue of an Emperor who came of an ancestor in a grey coat and plain cocked hat , and
whose sports were Austerhtz and Arcola . Very few chapters of St . Simon ' s record pass without an allusion to some case of poisoning or profligacy committed within palace precincts , and reverentially hushed up by the lacqueys . The Dauphin ' s heart was melted in his body by some infusion of terrible potency ; when the Dauphine died , the word ' murder * was audibly whispered , and men looked at a prince of the blood as though he had been seen to administer the draught . However free Louis XIV . himself was from these extreme crimes , there can be no question but that his character was gross and despicable . St . Simon ' s portrait of him has been recognized asjust by writers of all parties , who have consulted contemporary witnesses . This , we think , is one great virtue of the hook . It rubs the varnish off a reputation which in England has been falsely coloured by a long dynasty ol compilers . In the wonderful review of his manners supplied by St . Simon ,
in Mr . St . John ' s third volume , his habit of provoking others to gluttony occupies the most prominent position , next his overwhelming , absorbing , inconceivable selfishness . When he travelled , his carriage was alwajs full of women , meat , pastry , and fruit , and scarcely a mile passed without his asking some one to eat , which the ladies were compelled to do , and the more embarrassment they showed , the more intense was his satisfaction . There was not a grain of courtesy in his disposition . He would never allow a curtain to be drawn , or a window closed , if he wanted air , no matter who was ill , and to faint in his presence was an unpardonable misdemeanour . Even Madame de Maintenon obtained scarcely any indulgence : if in a fever , her windows were opened ; if half blind with headache , a hundred wax candles flashed in her eyes . St . Simon thus represents the monarch ut dinner : — The dinner was always ait petit convert , that is , the King ate by himself in Iris chamber upon a square table in front of the middle window . It was more or lesa abundant , for he ordered in the morning whether it was to be ' a little , ' or ' very little ' service . But even at this last there were always many dishes , and three courses without counting the fruit . The dinner being ready , the principal courtiers entered ; then all who were known ; and the first gentleman of the chamber on duty informed the King . I have seen , but very rarely , Monseigneur and his sons standing at their dinners , the King not ottering them a . seat . I have seen there the princes oi' the blood and the cardinal * . I have often seen there also Monsieur , cither on arriving from St . Cloud to sec the King , or arriving from the council of despatches ( tlio only one ho entered ) , give the King his napkin aud remain standing . A little while afterwards , the King seeing that ho did not go away , nuked him if he would not sit down ; ho bowed , and tlic King ordered a seat to be brought for him . A stool waa nut behind him . Some momenta after , the King said , " Nay then , ait down my brother : " Monsieur bowed and seated hiniMolf until the end of the dinner , when he presented the napkin . The transactions of a whole day are minutely and picturesquely described , the scene closing with a tableau : — After supper the King stood some mom en Is , his back to tlio balustrade of tho foot
_ j [ o ^ 5 , Pec ember 26 , 1857 . ] T H E ! L E A D E JEL 1241
Leader (1850-1860), Dec. 26, 1857, page 1241, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse2.kdl.kcl.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2223/page/17/