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he could not reconcile himself to remaining waiter-boy, printer, or clerk ("garçon d'auberge, imprimeur, commis"). Well did the fairy predict that his light songs would become dear to the French and solace the tears of the exiie. It would be hard to forget the moved and tender tone in which in after-life he responded in one of his poetic epistles to the announcement that the Chansons had reached the Ile-de-France, and were sung there with as much en:husiasm and admiration as through the streets of Paris. The poet could not conceive how these airy little waifs could float a thousand leagues over the sea and find access to those far tropical latitudes. But it was this very airiness, this ethereal pathos, this drum-beat of immortal gladness, this generous sympathy with all men, that winged these tiny Mercuries and made them messengers of the gods even to the under-world. They were wondrous combinations of Air, Fire, and Earth, so that when they rose into the sky, they shone like pole-stars before the fancy, and travelled their perpetual orbits in beauty, on their errand of mercy and amelioration and soft human fellow-feeling. As in the natural world by the agency of shifting zones, so in these songs were the flora and the fauna of remote climes brought together so that each could recognise his own - suum cuique-strangely mixed,
— cunningly distributed, furnishing keys to every heart, unlocking every consciousness, so to speak, grazing chords that brought North and South together in one common and felicitous experience. No wonder therefore that their delightful wit and spirit were reverberated by the crags of the Ile-de-France and left trails of echoes in the intervening leagues. There was a common understanding between Béranger and the lovers of song, a pre-established harmony, a spacious margin for contact and recognition. There was no such thing as a misunderstanding possible, as a word to be toilfully looked out in any dictionary alien to the reader's heart. The first note of the sweet romance that Blondel sang roused the poor captive king and woke within him, like a swarm of golden bees, mysterious yearnings, dormant regrets. So the chansonnier might exclaim with just pride :
“-Aux bords du Gange assis, Des exilés, gais enfants de la Seine,
A mes chansons, là, berçaient leurs soucis." This young brain too, like so many others, swarmed with fervid dreams of great epics, long heroic poems, the pomp and majesty of the numerous Alexandrine. It was the exuberance of fertile youth conscious of its plenitude, stirring with vague creative instincts, feeling the advent of puberty, turning its blind inundating force to the highest as the only vehicle of relief, and then losing itself like the Rhine in the sands of the Netherlands. It was lucky for French literature that there were found friends and patrons to dissuade him from his projected epic on Clovis; else we might have had all those perfect little Anacreontics molten into some vast smoking and smouldering Henriade, with just light enough to illumine a disastrou's failure. What would then have become of all those scintillating, leaping, laughing Nereids born in the purple of the sea amid foam and shells, and following the eerie blue fi.e-breathing horses of Poseidon - the
songs of Béranger — to be suddenly overclouded, appalled, dispersed by this Titan?
Unique as La Fontaine in the fable, perfect as Andersen in the fairy-tale, is Béranger in the song, and in precisely the same way. His life, grace and poetry arise from his mission to be a singer and nothing else, a maker of subtle little lyrics that have the wings of Eros, the bloom of the Asiatic Aphrodite, the aërial perspectives of Anacreon. He manages to find just the point, just the marvellous image in the Villa Hadriana, just the little dramatic episode that will give rise to those inimitable morsels of love-dialectics such as we enjoy in the Ad Lydiam of Horace, or the Pélerinage de Lisette of our author. Béranger was eighteen before the thought of composing songs entered his brain. It suggested itself to him as an amusement, as a pastime; and in the ease with which he gave himself up to it was recognised the unconscious Sibylline oracle that bade him walk this Via Appia to fame. Hence we feel in his first essays all the outgush, the roliicking merriment, the self-abandonment of a sport; a thing of ease, evanescent, ephemeral, not too profound ; the twinkle and the fascination of the moment, bright but perishable it may be, with something that resembles a dithyramb; the first onward sweep of the fountain without stopping to form crystal pools to catch the images of the unfathomable stars in. One of the most memorable things that survived the Revolution was this harp of the poet, this triumphant lyre, the very magnetism of which seemed designed by Providence to make up for the "songless reign of the Revolutionary Tribunal.”* That line from an old anthology
«» Αειδον έγών μέν, εχάρασσε δε θείος "Ομηρος”
(I sang, but divine Fomer wrote ) seems very applicable to this genial personality that could not put pen to paper without leaving it wet with some delicious song; the singer preeminently and perennially, in whom the singing mood outweighed all other, with whom to sing was as natural as to breathe, with whom life was instinct to the finger-tips · with a music that scarcely needed a bidding, the pebble of an obstacle, the slightest wound to break forth victoriously: Nor did the poet see any hindrance to clothing the little cupids or fairies or goblins, or whatever they might be, in the delicate Racinian elegance of a Louis XIV. style. There was a perfection of form side by side with a perfection of fond, perfect in body and soul. They are fed on the manna that fell from the sky. Whatever of vagrant melody might be begging in the streets for an alms of noble words, was caught up by the vigilant artist and set to words that went like fire to the popular heart, and reappeared marvellously heightened, colored, perfumed, apotheosised to the gamins who before had found there but a nest of ribaldry. Grand Madame de Maintenon, queen of France and mistress of the king, soon forgot in the glories of Versailles that she had ever been poor grateful, graceful little Madame Scarron, who had been to America and lived in an attic, the wife, of the author of “ Virgil Travestied.” Béranger did not forget these poor plebeian airs, these
errant Bohemians of the quais and cul-de-sacs, when he had immortalised them and made ihem by his surpassing talents queens of France. The promenader on the boulevards may hear any evening toward nine o'clock at the cafés chantants, amid much that is maudlin and objectionable, these sprightly airs mingling their saucy allusion, their strong, helping word, with the follies and revelries of the reckless Parisian canaille. It was the glory of the poet not to elevate vague memorial types, altars to an unknown god, obelisks overwritten with hieratic symbols; but a man, a woman, with all their eloquent frailties; a great trait, the very presence of which was a flag of victory waving over innumerable battle-fields; a grandmother who talks exquisitely of the days when she was young; a good and lax Camille, who illustrates perfectly the manners of the time; an old vagabond, who in his misery and loneliness touches some of the profoundest questions in .political economy; a suicide who teaches the divine lesson that there is no grief so bitter but that it is appeased by holy duties accomplished. These incarnations of principles that speak to the nation from the vivid realistic experience of courtesans, vagabonds, suicides, gourmands, attic philosophers, were the pulpits where the singer taught an ethics, a jurisprudence, a religion that crept through the thatch and hovered round firesides where no thunders of the Sorbonne, no elaborate exposition of the Code Civil, no lofty disquisitions of University fellows could penetrate or reform. Jouffroy might sit at the Collège de France and ingeniously lecture on the phenomena of dreams or the relative value of moral systems, but he could never from those remote distances hope to pass through the portals of poverty like the exquisitely sunny and captivating morality of Le Troisième Mari or Le Commencement du Voyage. These were worth many a folio on ethical law, many a digest of wearying statutes. Such power to compress deep and loving instruction into a handful of after-dinner couplets, to wreathe in smiles the lips of Themis, has been given to few of the geniuses that have visited our earth. The Falling Stars is itself a whole epitome of human history, a universal history in a nutshell more complete than the issues of all the presses of all the printing-establishments on the globe. What more sublime requiem was ever sung over Waterloo than Le Cinq Mai? What sweeter sigh was ever wafted with benediction and tears to Napoleon than the Couplets sur la Journée de Waterloo ? They must have penetrated to the old bronze warrior of St. Helena like the sweet odors of the palms of Tuat to the pilgrims of the Sahara. How much playful tenderness he could draw out of his old coat ; what poignant and contemptuous sarcasm coiled its electric circles within The Court Dress; how as in the successive condensations and intensifications of a voltaic pile he heaps taunt on taunt and gibe on gibe in The Coronation of Charles the Simple! Poor Charles Dix ! With the birds which, in accordance with antique wont, he caused to be released in the Cathedral of Rheims at his coronation, was released a whole flight of superstitions, ancient enormities, Ultramontane absurdities, ancestral tyrannies, which the pitiless singer transfixed with his diamond javelin and pelted with inextinguishable ridicule. It is hardly to be wondered at that there were judicial prosecutions, arrests, a fine of 10,000 francs, imprisonment for two months and then for nine. Some spot had to be found where to muzzle this lyric upstart, this ox that trod down the corn ; some oubliette where to disarm - nay, were it worth while, to destroy this irrepressible champion of human rights, this bold and truculent tribune of the plebs. The humble proletariat was his joy; the grisette and the artisan were the objects whose simple happiness he loved to commemorate ; the garret and the wine cellar, were the extreme points of his misery and his bliss. Lucien Buonaparte, an enlightened patron of letters, himself a poet, relinquished to him his pension at the University ; the lowly position of expeditionary clerk, with a pittance of 1000 francs annually, was all which excited his humble ambition, a place which he filled for twelve years with intelligence and zeal. The liberties, not to say the licentiousness, of such songs as Bon Vin et Fillette, La Bonne Fille, L'Education des Demoiselles, Traité de Politique à l'usage de Lise, produced great scandal among the decorous guardians of morality at the University: Messieurs the students might be infected. So he was reprimanded and sent off with the menace that the publication of his next volume of songs would ensure his dismissal. The next volume was of course published as soon as the poems which it contained were ripe for the press. We are told that he did not even wait to hand in his resignation, but from the moment of publication ceased 10 put foot in the bureau of administration. Noi even for this position, which seems to have been at that tine his absolute and entire maintenance, would be for a moment compromise his dignity and swerve to the sceptre of intolerance. There is somethirg bewitching in this untameable spirit, this never failing smile at the petulance of the black-gowned gentlemen who circulated round Charles X.; this fresh, fragrant Gaulois independence which we see frolicking and rioting through Gargintuır, the Heplameron, the Essays of Montaigne, the wonderfully clever old farce of Maistre Pierre Pathelin. Béranger is a typical being as Figaro is. You may see this being any day in the windows of the caricaturists of the PalaisRoyal, the Rue de Rivoli, or the Place de l'Odéon. It survives with us in the engravings of Hogarth. It is a being wise, cynical, melodious, as full of tact and antennæ as a sea.nettle. shoulder-shrugging, apologetic, armed with a sneer that can draw blood, voluble, with its pocket full of deadly innuendoes, and withal a heart so light that it finds its personification in the hero of Mozart's lovely opera. To look at it, it seems powerless to harm ; but it stretches forth its long thread-like blood-drawing arms into palaces and round thrones, and racks their possessors with inexplicable pain. It was a kind of reflex of that against which the late Emperor waged such uncompromising war in his proscription of the London Punch. It is this which to-day menaces M. Thiers with its strange omnipresent wrath. It was this in which Béranger found his most abundant resource. Yet it was a beautiful idealisation of this to surround it with all the charms and insinuations of music and make of it a superb work of art. In a memorable antique we have the figure of an ancient god of incomparable beauty bending his bow at the flying Python. In was in this attitude that Béranger stood when he ridiculed the vices or the whims, the tyrannies or the liberties of the epoch. It was never in a disgraceful or cowardly attitude. Monarchy in his day was a Venus de' Medici concealing its poor trembling shame as best it could after the noble tragical dream of the Empire, cowering before the eyes of the people, conscious of guilt or of lascivious toying with the sacred prerogatives of constitutional right, ready to sneak off in infamous abdication or perish in the unctuous hands of the Jesuits. A single dart hurled at it made the whole fabric start and totter. No anathema could be 100 severe to blast into stillness the tongue that had dared to wag at the king. The best epitaph on the reign of Charles X would be that it could not stand a laugh. Béranger knew this and he laughed at it cruelly, and made the gamins laugh at it, and set all France to laughing at it, so that the king and his ministers fell to counselling togeiher and concluded to shut up the offending satirist in the prison of La Force. Instead of quelling, this proceeding seemed like green-house air to push the germs of satire into sudden and tropical effloresence. Never was there a period of his artistic life richer in telling or tender song. He was the centre of a bouquet of cherishing sympathies. His friends heaped attentions on him, fêted him, crowded to see him ; admirers in the provinces sent him baskets of game and rare Burgundian, Chambertin, and Romanée wines. From all these solicitudes grew many a sweet verse of love or grateful thanks or patriotic fire or philosophic resignation, which the world would be the poorer for losing. ... The immense social and political importance of these songs is not their slightest claim to a long and appreciative remembrance among his contemporaries and the generations that come after. A short-lived popularity (the most Homeric longevity, says Sainte-Beuve, does not now-a-day's exceed fifteen years) was all that he expected. But assuredly the lips and hearts of men are the most enduring means of perpetuating an undying fame. We observe this in the poems that have come down to us from our Greek and Teutonic predecessors, preserved to us by oral tradition through long lines of minstrels and rhapsodes Béranger's songs are so wedded to the national consciousness that we may safely predict for them an existence as well-defined as that which awaits ihe masters of history and the epos. In Homer we touch our remotest ancestors with our palpable fingers ; in Béranger we are jostled and elbowed by all the throbbing vitality of the era. If life is a characteristic, then is this writer the most living of authors. He is no skeleton or fossil: here are breathing lungs, palpitating veins, a voice that rings like a trumpet.
There is no death's-head at This banquet such as was brought in at Trimalchio's. It is a stirring panorama of directest humanity full of joys, needs, inspirations. Whatever was austere repelled, whatever was buoyant and sweettempered attracted him. We may deduce from Le Dieu des Bonnes Gens and Le Bon Dieu — as any one may do the good-humored, smiling Being whom Béranger reverenced as his God — a God who was far from making a fast of life, or launching thunderbolis, or writing fine sermons, or twitting anything save hypocrites and spies. He was even a drowsy, negligent God, who slept late, swore a little, and said Devil-take-me at times. His heaven was a place of sun