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purpose, we must consider the true relation between human feeling and its written expression.
Sentiment, as an element of literature, is the intellectual embodiment of feeling; it is thought imbued with a coloring and an atmosphere derived from emotion. Its reality, duration, and tone, depend in books, as in character, upon alliance with other qualities; and there is no fallacy more common than that which tests its sincerity in the author by the permanent traits of the man. It may be quite subordinate as a motive of action, and altogether secondary as a normal condition, and yet it is none the less real while it lasts. In each artist and author, sentiment exists in relation to other qualities, which essentially modify it while they do not invalidate its claim. To
a man who writes an elegy which moves us to tears, and at the same time displays the most heartless conduct in his social life, is therefore a hypocrite, is to reason without discrimination. The adhesiveness, the conscience, and the temperament, of each individual, directly influence his sentiment; in one case giving to it the intensity of passion, in another the sustained dignity of principle, now causing it to appear as an incidental mood, and again as a permanent characteristic. United to strength of will or to earnestness of spirit, it is worthy of the highest confidence; in combination with a feeble and impressible mind, or a lightsome and capricious fancy, or a selfish disposition, it is quite unreliable. In either case, however, the quality itself is genuine ; its type and degree only are to be questioned. Thus regarded, the apparent incongruity between its expression and its actual condition vanishes.
Sentiment in Burns was essentially modified by tenderness, in Byron by passion, in Shelley by imagination ; meditation fostered it in Petrarch, extreme susceptibility in Kirke White. In the French Quietists it took the form of religious ecstasy. In the Old English drama it is robust, in the Spanish ballads chivalric, in Hamlet abstract and intellectual, in “ As You Like It” full of airy fancifulness. Miss Edgeworth and Jane Austen exhibited it as governed by prudence and common sense ; Mrs. Radcliffe, as rendered mysterious by superstition. Scott delighted to interpret it through local and legendary accessories, under the influence of a sensuous temperament. In the Dantesque picture
of Francesca da Rimini it is full of tragic sweetness, and in Paul and Virginia perverted by artificial taste. In Charles Lamb it is quaint, in Hood deeply human, in Cowper alternately natural and morbid, in Mackenzie soft and pale as moonlight, and in Boccaccio warm as the glow of a Tuscan vintage. Chastened by will, it is as firm and cold as sculpture in Alfieri, and melted by indulgence, it is as insinuating as the most delicious music in Metastasio. Pure and gentle in Raphael, it is half savage in Salvator and Michael Angelo; severely true in Vandyke, it is luscious and coarse in Rubens. And yet, to a certain extent and under specific modifications, every one of these authors and artists possessed sentiment; but, held in solution by character, in some it governed, in others it served genius; in some it was a predominant source of enjoyment and suffering, and in others but an occasional stimulus or agency. Who doubts, over a page of the Nouvelle Heloise, that sentiment in all its tearful bliss was known to Rousseau ? The abandonment of his offspring to public charity does not disprove its existence, but only shows that in his nature it was a mere selfish instinct. The history of philanthropic enterprise indicates the same contradiction. Base cruelty has at times deformed the knight, gross appetites the crusader, hypocrisy the missionary, and the men whose names figure in the so-called charitable movements of our day are often the last to whom we should appeal for personal kindness and sympathy. The same inconsistency is evident in that large class of women in whose characters the romantic predominates over the domestie instincts. “Confessions ” form a popular department of French literature, and are usually based on sentiment. Yet their authors are frequently thorough men of the world and intense egotists. It is this want of harmony between expression and life, between the eloquent avowal and the practical influence of sentiment, patriotic, religious, and humane, which gave rise to the invective of Carlyle, and the other stern advocates of fact, of action, and of reality. Meanwhile the beauty, the high capacity, the exalted grace of sentiment itself, is uninvaded. We must learn to distinguish its manifestations, to honor its genuine power, to distrust its rhetorical exaggeration.
The truth is, that Sterne's heart was more sensitive than
robust. It was like wax to receive," but not like "marble to retain," impressions. Their evanescence, therefore, does not impugn their reality. Perhaps we owe the superiority of their artistic expression to this want of Stability. Profound and con
. tinuous emotion finds but seldom its adequate record. Men thus swayed recoil from self-contemplation ; their peace of mind is better consulted by turning from than by dwelling upon their states of feeling; whereas more frivolous natures may dally with and make capital of their sentiment without the least danger of insanity. We have but to study the portrait of Sterne in order to feel that a highly nervous organization made him singularly alive to the immediate, while it unfitted him for endurance and persistency. That thin, pallid countenance, that long, attenuated figure, the latent mirth of the expression, the predominance of the organs of wit and ideality, betoken a man to “set the table in a roar,"
one who passes easily from smiles to tears, from whose delicately strung yet unheroic mould the winds of life draw plaintive and gay, but transient music; - a being more artistic
a than noble, more susceptible than generous, capable of a shadowy grace and a fitful brilliancy, but without the power to dignify and elevate sensibility. His fits of depression, his recourse to amusement, his favorite watchword, “ Vive la bagatelle," his caprice
” and trilling, his French view of life, his alternate gayety and blue devils, attest one of those ill-balanced characters, amusing in society, ingenious in literature, but unsatisfactory in more intimate relations and higher spheres.
THE LITERARY STATESMAN.
It is seldom that the noble aims and benign sentiments of the genuine artist find development in life. His efficiency, however refined and graceful in itself, rarely can be traced to a practical issue ; his dominion is usually confined to the vague realms of thought, and his name is familiar only to those who explore the world of fancy and ideas. A rare and beautiful exception to this abstract career of the artist in literature was recently visible in the case of Massimo d'Azeglio, the late secretary of state of Sardinia. It became his fortunate destiny to realize in action the dreams of his youth; to administer, to a certain extent at least, the principles which previously found only written expression; and to be the agent of some of the political and social ameliorations, which, at a less auspicious era, he could but suggest, illustrate, and prophesy. We can hardly imagine a more elevated satisfaction to a generous mind than the privilege of thus making tangible what was once ideal, carrying into affairs the results of deliberate study, and giving social embodiment to long-cherished and patiently-evolved truths. To feel the interest and realize the significance of such a career, we must compare the first work of the gifted novelist with the last discourse of the minister of foreign affairs; and trace his identity of opinion and sentiment, from the glowing patriotism of “ Niccolò de' Lapi” and “Ettore Fieramosca," to the reforms which have rendered Sardinia the most free and progressive of the Italian states.
It is through his genuine patriotism, indeed, that D’Azeglio is both a popular writer and a liberal statesman ; his fictions are derived from the same inspiration as his public acts; he is a man of the people, and an efficient and honored citizen of Italy, by virtue of a love of country not less remarkable for intelligence than for sincerity. This is his great distinction. Neither to the circumstances of his birth, education, nor experience, is he indebted for the independence, wisdom, and zeal of his national feeling, but altogether to the promptings of a noble heart and vigorous understanding. This eminent trait both of his character and his genius, his intelligent patriotism, is exhibited with beautiful consistency, first in an artistic, then in an argumentative, and finally in an administrative manner. It pervades his life, as well as his books, now finding utterance in the fervid words of an ancient Tuscan patriot, now in a direct and calm appeal to the reason of his contemporaries, and again in the salutary projects and unfaltering purpose of the ministerial reformer.
In the history of Sardinia there are obvious facts and tendencies indicative of a liberal destiny; vistas, as it were, of light athwart the gloom of despotic rule, and low and interrupted yet audible breathings of that spirit of liberty and national progress now evidently becoming more permanent and vital. The nucleus of the monarchy was Savoy, around which were grouped the fragments of several states, — the old kingdom of Burgundy, and remains of the Carlovingian and Frankish empire; but towards the end of the thirteenth century its individuality was fixed by the will of Count Asmodeus the Sixth ; and by the
of Utrecht it became a state of Europe. Although the power of the crown was unlimited, the government was administered by three ministers, and the succession confined to the male line, the assent of the Estates was requisite for the imposition of new taxes, and, while the nobility formed a large class, it was not exempt from taxation. The traveller who visits the church of La Superga, at Turin, and muses over her buried kings, will recall traits of royal character not unworthy of the superb mausoleum. In the forty-three years of his reign, Charles Emanuel the Third, both as a civic and military ruler, preserved