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gruities 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 bas 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 honor, 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 appre
ciation of Milton, Dante, Tasso — of the serious phase of greatness — was remarkable, although some of his criticisms on 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 loyal; “worth an army to the Bourbons,” yet enamored 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 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 détails, et son coup d'oeil est prompt, sûr et délié; il faut toujours qu'il soit en scène. Il aime à dire ; j'etois là, le roi me dit; J'appu du prince,” etc.
From the casual frailties, however, and from the intrigues of the salon, the warfare of party, and the reverses of fortune—from all that is unworthy and mutable in this remarkable life, what is pure and effective in genius seems to rise and separate itself to the imagination, and we behold the true spirit of the man embodied and embalmed in the disinterested results of his thought and the spontaneous utterance of his sentiment; and therefore it is as a poet of the old régime that we finally regard Chateaubriand
It has been acutely said that external life is an appendix to the heart; and the Memoirs d'outre Tombe signally evidence the truth. Dated, as they are, at long intervals of time, and in man different places, the immediate circumstances under which they are written are often brought into view simultaneously with a vivid retrospect, to which they form a singular contrast; and this gives an air of reality to the whole, such as is afforded by oral communication; we frequently seem to listen instead of reading. Chateaubriand first thought of composing the work where Gibbon conceived the idea of his great enterprise, in that haunt of eternal memories — Rome. It was commenced in his rural seclusion at La Vallée aux Loups, near Aulnay, in the autumn of 1811, and finally revised at Paris, in 1841. The intermediate period is strictly chronicled, and interspersed with details of the antecedent and the passing moment, together with countless portraits, criticisms, and scenes, both analytical and descriptive; but the deep vein of sentiment, which prompts the author's movements and arrays his experience and thoughts, continually reminds us that the life depicted is but the appendix to the heart that inspires. Thus his intimacy with Malesherbes, whose granddaughter his elder brother married, fostered that passion for exploration which made him a traveller; his repugnance to priestly shackles induced
a him to enroll his name in the regiment of Navarre; his adherence to his party made him a translator and master of languages in England; his fraternal love redeemed his boyhood from misanthropic despair, and his religious and poetic sentiment impelled him to the East. This oriental tendency — if we may so call it - is evident, as he suggests, in the whole race of modern genius, and seems to spring both from delicate organization, giving a peculiar charm to the atmosphere and life of that region, and from historical associations that win the imagination and the sympathies romantically evident in Byron, and religiously in Chateaubriand and Lamartine. The former, despite the battles, conclaves, and literary affairs, that make up the substance of his memoirs, never loses his identity with sentiment, whether luxuriating in the scenery of the Grand Charteuse, invoking the departed at Holyrood or Venice, setting out the trees of every land he had visited on his domain, breaking away from his English love with the exclamation, "Je suis mari!” or recording his last interview with his sister Lucille and her obscure burial; claiming his chair at Corinne's fireside, or discovering auguries in the . fierce tempest that broke over St. Malo the night he was born. The most utilitarian reader must confess, as he connects the practical efficiency and noble traits of Chateaubriand with his generous emotions, that sentiment is a grand conservative and productive element in human life, and to its inciting and elevated influence justly ascribe the usefulness, the renown, and the singular interest, that attaches to the man he may have seen a few years since threading the Boulevards of Paris with “irreproachable cravat and ebony cane;" recognizing in his gentle yet