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collapsing balloon of gassy generalities! De Musset remained himself to the last. Not so Lamartine, his rival and opposite, who shifted his telescope from individual life to regions of abstract humanity, to the planets, to the fixed stars, if you will, to grand commonplaces; a poetic Pyrrhonist seeking tranquillity in vagueness, distrusting particulars, a believing skeptic, a singer of universal rest. There was none of this Eastern gymnosophy in de Musset. Direct, militant, aggressive, he drew perhaps his chief force from the intensity of his personality, from the vigor with which, like his own Spanish cavaliers, he wielded his individual glaive. Nor was there to be seen here the perversion, the fantastic instinct of evil which grew up like an Indian aloe in the heart of Baudelaire, shooting forth thorn and blossom, deformity and beauty side by side. Bandelaire resembles the French bandit who was found on capture to have tattooed upon his body a complete admiral's suit, riband and decoration included: a palimpsest, one thing to the eye, but something profounder and richer to the understanding heart, for there might be ancient tragedy or comedy, divine elegies of Moschus, an idyll of Theocritus, a poem of Corinne. For the diver there was the pearl in the sea trembling all over with the caress of Iris; in the river was the lovely drowned body of Ophelia, from which the witless song, the tender life had just departed. It is not always well to be scared by the willows that overhang the Fleurs du Mal. We are apt to mistake a knot of grave sweet flowers on which the live dew shakes, for a funerary wreath of immortelles, a marble bath for the sarcophagus of a Roman beauty, a picture of dancing mutilated Pompeian fawns for a Dance of Death. So continually we are thrusting our Gothic imagination into the pure joyous sphere of antique art.
We do not discover in de Musset as in Casimir Delavigne the fervent wine of French restorations in the classic amphora of a Greek Olympiad. The new pearling wine of newer civilisations throbs in him in at farthest those frostlike dreams of Gothic fancy, those fairy creations of Puck and his contemporaries, Venetian glasses redolent of Venice, showing the wonderful forms which the poet has imprinted on them as in a passionate kiss, crooning of the Adriatic and the boulevard, the guitar and the serenade - glasses such as Peasblossom might have offered on the tips of his fingers to Hermia in the enchanted wood. Again, André Chénier is an urn of Parian marble on which Athenian priests have thrown masses of fragrant fire, sending up glory and praise from the altar of Diana. His tongue perpetually babbled of the distant splendors of Greek literature, was wholly wedded to the lyrical and idyllic side of the ancients, to the people who filled one extremity of the Middle Sea with such princely civilisation, in honor of whom he could compose incomparable elegies and idylls when the minions of Robespierre were dragging him to the Place de Grève. Imitation did not petrisy into soulless mimicry in this “pure et charmante gloire.” There was a voice behind the persona, a faraway echo of Eleusinian mysteries, the distant baying of Pentheus' dogs, the footsteps of furious Bacchanals, the snow-crowned summits of Thessaly and Peloponnese in the background. While the classic bee, the melissa of the Phaedo, does not hum through the works of Alfred de Musset, there is its wild descendant, the sylvan toiler who stores up nectar in the cleft of the rock, in the arms of venerable oaks beneath which Druidical priests have slept. The honey is not the less delightful because it smells of wild thyme, of Shakspearian eglantine and rosemary, of the perfumed handkerchiefs which Boccaccio's dainty Florentines wave during their charming recitals, of the wandering flowerets which Don Juan gathered in his travels, of the Reine des Abeilles on the Boulevard des Capucines. A sharp critical nostril can discern all these simples in the luxuriant result as we have it in the Contes d'Espagne et d'Italie, the Caprices, the Nuits and the Poésies diverses of this interesting writer. At one time it is Shakspeare in the bold metaphor, the flash of splendid imagery, the exquisite prattle and child-talk in which the pages abound; then it is Dante and Petrarch or the gay eloquence of Boccace; then a Spanish romancer with a streak of dark-purple blood across his face ; then Beppo and Lara, and the whole throng, joyous or saturnine, of Byronic revellers. From each he has taken a limb or a feature, and yet managed to attain more than the fate of Memnon, for the statue is the goddess whom the poet describes —
Quelque Venus dormant encore,
Et la pourpre qui te colore
Te vient du sang qu'elle a versé." Few things could be imagined more full of pleasantry and grace than the little comedies in which de Musset has skimmed the cream of social wit and charm, and whipt it into a sort of mead for the delectation of the world. Outside of his gift of song, the fatal interest that always clings to dissipated men of genius attached itself to him. It is La Morgue behind the church of Notre Dame. A few abundant harvests seemed to exhaust the soil that was based on an alluvium outwardly so deep. Paris killed him, as so many others have been killed, by the endless toil of Babylonian pleasures. Throughout the half-dozen volumes in which as in a casket lie embalmed the most precious spiritual life of this poet, the love of pleasure, strong, intoxicating, physical, throbs like a fever. There was this toad in the sepulchre of the Pharaolis. More beaming pages than we have from him would be hard to find in all the annals of literature ; it would, however, be difficult to find a talent which on the whole, to use a term of Ste.-Beuve's, was less "spherical,” less rounded, less perfect in the final result. And it is the final result to which posterity ruthlessly looks. All through this nature we see, as in the wars of Napoleon, horses stabled in glorious cathedrals, temples where the light and the tenderness of immemorial religion have dwelt, turned into cattle-pens. No vitality, however exuberant it might be, could stand the stress of the constant dissipation that sullied the career of the author of Namouna. It gave out, and with it vanished the inspiration with which nature had so often replenished him. The wounded and outraged divinity shook the dust from his feet and left him. There were years of de Musset's life which give no response to the most anxious investigation, which are speechless because they had nothing to say. Toward the end (which happened in 1857) there were stormy supplications, unavailing prayers, to the deity that had abandoned him. The fount of inspired thought which in early youth so naturally surrounded itself with the foliage and the fruit of poetry, had sent forth the last drop for the hand that squandered it.
The worker is so closely connected with his work that in discussing him it has been thought a double purpose would be served. His poems are his other self. The same breadth, the same largeness and expansiveness of constitution, the same enthusiasm and intensity exist in the one as in the other. We feel the dance, the grace, the wit, the melody of a large physical presence, the open-heartedness of the happy boulevardier, the hope of a future existence which from the frank disbelief of the Premières Poésies has in the later writings melted into something like tranquil and benign acceptance. The grace of spontaneousness has not often been more fully possessed. He has the same passion for describing rich interiors as Keats; they bud forth from beneath his pen with an ease as striking as their pictorial effect. You seem to be looking into one of the luxurious chambers of Van Mieris, where a Flemish lady of rank sits in fur and satin, with a bright-feathered parrot on her wrist and elegant tambour-frame beside a Renaissance armoir. So with Rolla, Don Paëz, Portia, Namouna, in the latter of which is the humor and bravado of. the Italian naturalistic school. In others the minute touches, the finish, the careful elaboration remind of the brilliant miniaturist Hans Memling, or a basket of flowers by Van Huysum. De Musset was excelled by Béranger alone as a chansonnier, in the song that breaks from the lips and memories of bons vivants in the genialities of afterdinner. He caught the true Bacchic spirit of the old Gaulois songs of Chapelle's and Lafontaine's time, the songs which were devoted to "Lisette, la paresse, et le vin,” songs which descended by right of primogeniture from Molière, Crébillon fils, Deschamps, through the leisure of the Empire and the first Restoration to Béranger and himself. It was a boast of Malherbe that his whole vocabulary was derived from the porters of the Haymarket. De Musset is replete with the idiom and the suavity of the high life wherein he moved. He was no less distinguished in prose. His romance, “Confessions of a Child of the Time,” is written with great and uncommon excellence; his smaller prose stories and comedies overflow with archness and fancy. Negligences now and then betray his antagonism to the formal school of Romanticists, but he was in rapport if not with their correctness at least with their tendencies. The cheerful realism of the man has made him almost as great a favorite as Reuter with his countrymen beyond the Rhine. More than any French author he recalls Goethe, strangely enough ; then a gleam of Rabelaisian fun reveals his intimacy with the humorists of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is of course impossible in the limits of a brief article to make any adequate citations from his works. An effort at rendering them from the original would recall the naturalist who, having impaled an iris-winged insect upon his stilet, wondered that the life had gone from it. The spirit is as hard to catch as a butterfly in May; the golden thing is then all full of animation and color, and when your hand is stretched forth to seize it, it is gone. Of single poems Malibran, Portia, La
Nuit d'Octobre, are among the finest. To the lover of Catullus the “Au Lecteur" of the Premières Poésies will recall, in artlessness and point, the beautiful little address, Quoi dono lcpidum novum libellum, with which the Roman poet introduces us to his little book. And how this little book has charmed the world! There are numerous sonnets in which, like a Paternoster written upon a shilling, is written the whole life of the man in miniature. The Charpentiers of Paris have issued a noble edition of the Euvres complètes of de Musset, ornamented with twenty-eight engravings by Bida, in ten volumes. It is the first time, they tell us, that legislation has permitted the publication of the whole.
J. A. H.
Note.- Use has been made of (the Essays of Ste-Beuve, Gautier, and others in this article. In fact no compliment could do justice to the exquisite criticisms which for so long a time adorned the columns of the Globe, the Revue des deux mondes, and the Constitutionnel.
A CALIFORNIA SKETCH.
ATHER CARTER was a “hardshell" Baptist preacher. His
youth had been spent in the mountains of Carolina. For many years he had not given much promise that his later years would be spent in the clerical profession. He had not indeed paid much attention to religion of any kind, until in a moment of deep emotion he had prayed, and become, to use his own language, “a new critter.” His theological attainments were limited; they did not extend beyond the discussion of the question of immersion. His argument on all occasions was, “He went down into and came up out of the water," and this he would hurl at the mental heads of his adversaries in argument with the evident conviction in his own mind it was a settler. If it failed the first time, he gathered his stone from the brook, and encountered the Goliath with it again and again. His adversaries were generally forced to yield, at least they were silenced. He was fond of argument - - a great controversialist, if not very logical. If his premises were true, if his exegesis of the Bible correct, then it was useless to debate with him at all. He was not always exact in quotation, and sometimes muddled his ideas; but that was the opinion of his enemies, and therefore not entitled to serious consideration. It is reported of him that after his immersion
he forced his way into a large concourse with a Bible under his arm, and exclaimed: “I am ready to discuss.
." At one time living in Oregon, he would insist on arguing with Bishop Scott of the P. E. Church of that diocese, until the Bishop even, one of the most genial and self-sacrificing gentlemen in the world, became wearied. One day the Bishop in reply to his favorite argument said to him: "Father Carter, suppose a man was immersed in water all except a small spot on his forehead: would he be baptised?” “No!" replied Father Carter, indignantly. * But, suppose you covered that spot, would he then?” “Yes !” said the old man. “Well,” replied the Bishop, “that's just what we do, and of course the candidate is baptised.” Father Carter hung his head for a moment as if in deep reflection, and then slowly replied: "Well, Mr. Scott, thar's something wrong about your argimint, but I don't ʼzactly see whar it is.” He had but one idea: it became part of his being; it was incorporated in his very nature.
He was an enthusiast on the subject of “immersion,” and being strong in his own convictions, earnest and decided in expressing them, he influenced others. He gathered around him disciples, even men of higher cultivation than himself. They saw an ignorant man, but an earnest one, and earnestness always has its weight. His preaching was an extraordinary compound of emotion, sense, nonsense, misquotation, and confusion of ideas. He certainly put his belief in the right of individual interpretation into practice. His preaching would astonish any city congregation, but it was at least stirring in its character, In the woods and nder the giant trees and in the log school-houses of California, where he was brought into contact with minds as rude and uninformed as his own, it was that his emotional nature met a response and carried his audiences with him. A favorite sermon of his he called his “eagle” sermon, and was from a text in Deuteronomy :-“As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them.” The writer once heard it, and its general tenor is indelibly imprinted on his mind. After a long-continued preliminary exercise, he began :
“My friends, thar is menny kinds of eagles. They are singular birds — that is, they is quare birds. Thar is the gray eagle, with white hars on his head ; thar is the bald eagle ditto, who goes about like a roarin' lion seeking what he may eat up. Thar is the grand old American eagle, what flops his wings and flies over all creation ; and I hev heern tell of a double-hedder, an Austrian, but I never seed one, and I don't believe thar is one — though that don't signify, fur some of you uns might say you hadn't never seed God, consekently thar wurnt none. But thar is nevertheless, notwithstanding fur which.
“Now I onct knowed an eagle — that is, I knowed on him -- and her too, fur thar wur two on 'em, a big rooster eagle and a hen eagle. It wur in the big mountings of Caroliny; and thar they pitched their tents in a tall and towering pine — right in the top and it hung over a deep purcipice, whar it wur in danger of being participated down the purcipice when the ‘loud winds did roar on Caroliny's shore.' But it wurnt; fur He calleth his sheep by name and they foller Him, and the desert blossoms like a rose, and the