Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

sadly discordant reign, places a chapter entitled Maninjunctions of their ners and Customs, which certainly is ston. Slut

very interesting, and contributes not a puffing advertisement, little towards the explanation of the literary enterprize, under- events of the reign following."

by Ladyocat, a bookseller in the This method probably appeared too Palais-Royal, under the title of Col- simple to Mr Sismondi, and that he lection des Chefs-d'æuvre des Theatres might not leave unemployed the knowEtrangers, it is said that the work has ledge he had acquired, but which as great success in the rest of Europe could not enter into the recital of as in France; it has just obtained the memorable deeds, he conceived the most distinguished mention dans l'ex- project of writing novels in which he cellent Edinburg Magasin de Blak- could paint the prevailing manners at wood. I think I see you stretching the different epochs of French history, out your neck through one of the gar- which he is now writing, and of which ret-windows of the Temple of Fame, he has already published some vaand drinking with your ear, as Ho- lumes. Historical romances, you know, race says, the intoxicating buzz of ap- have long been made up with the plauding nations.

names of real personages, placed in the The celebrated historian of the Ita- midst of adventures in which they lian Republic, Sismondei Sismondi, certainly could never have recognized has lately published a novel, entitled themselves, either with respect to conJulia Severa, or The Year 492. In or- duct, ideas, or language. Of this we der to judge this novel with impare have examples in the voluminous notiality, it would be sufficient to copy vels of Calprenede and Mademoiselle the advertisement of the author, in de Scudery. which he indicates the object he wish- But novelists manage better now; ed to attain, and expresses his appre- they invent the personages, but they hensions of having failed. What he place them in real circumstances, in feared is positively what has happen- the midst of known sites; they cast ed. Mr Sismondi allows himself, that them among the memorable epochs of at his age, and in a life perfectly seri- history, and thus go back to manners, Qus, it is rare for a man to possess the the picture of which is delightful in qualities which give life to works of proportion with the recollections it imagination. His book will justify awakens. It is the manner of Walter his advertisement. We find no imam Scott, and Sismondi is far from reject gination either in the events, the style, ing the wish of imitation. On the con. or the characters ; nevertheless, it is trary, he avows it, and is only afraid not the work of

an author without ta he may not resemble the model he has lent, and much less without learning; chosen. Walter Scott is a poet-Sisand grave persons, who read novels, mondi is a historian; and you can will regret" less than frivolous cha- directly conceive, that when an author racters the time they have given up who has always exerted his imaginato the perusal of Julia Severa. tion, and an author who has always

Mr Sismondi had, till now, occu- exerted his judgment, both consent to pied himself with writing history, and descend from their high rank, to class thad given himself up to serious re themselves among the writers of nosearches, in order to set up a system vels, the poet must have over the his

under the appearance of profound im- torian a superiority which puts aside partiality ; for science is useful for all idea of comparison. To the histomany purposes, and even to make the rian, fiction must always be a second

past affirm what may flatter or shock ary object; and it is an observation of present ideas. He avows that he of all times, that when fiction does not ten regretted that he was obliged to entirely subjugate the mind, it faremove from his narrations, details of tigues it. manners, and social situations, which, M. Sismondi might have made this exhibiting men in the habits and pre- reflection himself, when he thought it jizdices of the times in which they necessary to give his novel the second - lived, might have thrown a great light title of The Year 492. What connexion on historical events. But then, he is there between Julia Severa, an ima must have done like the historian ginary person, and the year 1927. At Wiezeray, who, at the end of each this period, the countries long govern

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

ed by the Romans had lost even the obstacles which idea of being able to defend them. Had they remain selves; and notwithstanding, the em- their lot would have pire could no longer protect them. They do not even travel The Vandals, Sueves, and Huns, had consent. An irruption of several times ravaged Gaul ; the Visi- drives Julia to the spot where goths and Burgundians were establish. to meet and to love Felix ; when they ed there; the Franks, led by Clovis, are united, they are carried off and were forminz establishments in it, separated by some monks, who make with the desire of subduing those who them the sport of their own projects, had preceded them. Of ancient institu- and at length bring them back to the tions nothing remained but the forins; place they took them from, so clumsithe ancient laws fell away before the sy, that one is vexed at the author for violence natural to conquerors ; an- using such feeble contrivances. cient manners disappeared in propor- . As the year 492 presents an epoch tion as the laws lost their action ; and of social dissolution; as Gaul seemed those who preserved some sort of more particularly destined to feel the power; sought a compensation from misfortunes which accompanied the the weak, for the evils imposed upon fall of the Roman empire; as, in this them by the strong. The world was accumulation of disasters, the writer in a state of pillage, but without re- could imagine no possible cause of galarity; it was a perio:l of disasters, salvation for that part of the world, so instead of one of happiness and glory; interesting to Europe as the country in a word, the barbarity of savages, of the Gauls and Franks--the ancestand that barbarity which re-appearsors of the French--what motive could on the fall of empires, formed a fright- have induced M. Sismondi to take ful contrast with the remains of civil- this epoch for that of his novel? Were ization that were still preserved in it not that he is a philosophical histo-, some families, proud of their past dig- rian, the answer would be difficult; nity, and irritated at the meannesses but there is no doubt that his inten. they were forced to commit in order tion was to represent the clergy as alone to soften the conquerors whom they possessing a great power over the despised. Certainly a picture of the minds of men; as the only class cae manners of this epoch might prove as pable of opposing political views to interesting, if taken from the circum- the violence of the barbarians, and of stances of private life, as it is in real- struggling with ability against the ity, in historical narration; but do- power of the conquerors, even so far mestic details, which time has covered as to make them subservient to the with a veil difficult to take up, can independence of the countries they only be successfully recalled to mind had just vanquished. This design, by giving them a poetical colouring. executed in a poetical manner, so as The imagination easily lends itself to to enchant the imagination, would recitals which put it in motion ; but have been happy, and would doubtless it is impossible to delight it by a pic- have presented some grand dramatic ture of a state of society where all is effects. Sismondi has treated it quite suffering, or make it take an interest in a philosophical way; and though in personages who have no action over he relates events placed in the year the events in the midst of which they 492, one may affirm that his work are placed.

recalls to mind much more ideas famiThis, you see, is the principal defect liar to the writers of the 18th century, of the work of Sismondi, considered than the prevailing ideas in the times as a novel. His personages are pass- of Clovis, of Saint Remigius, and the ive; though nothing of what happens first successors of Saint Martin of LÒ them should happen, still they Tours. Walter Scott would not have would be in the same situation in conceived his subject in this way; if which the author takes them and he chose to paint scenes of burlesque

leaves them. It is not because Julia ignorance, of stupid credulity, which loves Felix, and that she fears to be- may have found place amidst the relicome the wife of Clovis, that she is gious enthusiasm of that epoch," he not even presented to that king, but would have reserved them for the sebecause motives, over which these two condary personages, that he might be lovers have no influence, overturn the gay with perfect safety of conscience,

e and serious in Academies of which it is composed

events. Never It being the turn for the Academy of ve imagined to make Seiences to preside, M. Gay-Lussac reasonable as to be una- took the chair, and opened the meet

take any active part in the ing by a discourse on the advantages events; and while incessantly agitated of the sciences. Though the subject by interests foreign to them, to oppose is by no means new, the learned Prenothing but the moderation of their sident was listened to with pleasure, character to all the agitations around and several passages, equally remarkthem. Heroes of this kind belong able for justness of thought and elemuch more to an age of sophisms, gance of expression, were much apa. than to one where everything was in plauded. action. Berthelemy made Anacharsis M. Sylvestre de Sacy read a report travel, in order to present a picture of on the competition for the prize foundthe manners and customs of Greece; ed by the late Comte de Volney. The Sismondi seems to have turned out object of this prize is “ to excite and Julia and Felix, merely that he might encourage every attempt to continue find an occasion to relate, in his way, the method invented by Comte Volwhat was passing between Chartres ney for transcribing the Asiatic lanand Orleans, and Orleans and Chartres, guages into European letters regularly while Clovis was meditating at Sois- organized.” sons how he might become King of The committee had invited the comFrance.

petitors to examine “ what are the But if the author is feeble in the means of realizing the plan of the tes romantic part of his work, as a histo- tator ; within what limits the appli. rian he has every advantage. The pic- cation of it should be circumscribed; ture he gives of the court of Clovis has' what direction should be given to the a fine effect; the various interests work; and finally, what are the prowhich crowded around that prince are bable results to be expected from it.”. well explained, and, what is better, Four Memoirs were addressed to the are put in action with much art and Academy of Sciences; two of them, by truth. The plunder of the town of two German authors, appeared equally Chartres by the barbarians; the ter- worthy of the prize, which was divided ror of the grandees between the ene- between them; one is M. Schever, my who is advancing and their revolt- keeper of the royal library at Munich, ed slaves, who considered that enemy and the other M. Schleiermacher, lias their deliverer; the depopulation brarian at Darmstadt. of the country hurried on by the ab- M. Delombre succeeded M. de Sacy. sence of protecting laws, still more It was his business to assign the prize than by the sword of the conqueror; founded by M. de Monthyon for the the despair of the laborious classes work most useful to morals ; and lively wrought into rage; the effects that applause burstforth when he proclaimare the result of it: all these descrip- ed the name of Mad. Guizot, author of tions are interesting; and, though the L'Ecolier or Rnoul et Victor, a novel style of the author wants animation in four volumes 12mo. The Academy and harmony, yet, as it is always cleari was not ess gallant towards another by the force of thought, it is read with lady, Mad. Belloe, author of the Bio pleasure wherever it goes along with bliotheque de Famille, who received a the subject, whenever the author for- medal of encouragement. gets he is a philosopher and is merely After a discourse rather long, rather a narrator.

cold, rather dry, by M. Dupin, respecte If this work is successful, M. Sis- ing the influence of commerce on the mondi will probably fulfil the engage- learning and civilization of modern ment he has made with the public, to nations, M. Quatremere de Quincy, delineate the picture of the private of the Academy of Fine Arts, amused manners of some other epochs of and instructed the audiences by a disFrench history in some new novels. sertation full of ingenious reflections,

On the 24th of this month, the an- lively anecdotes, and happy sayings. niversary of the landing of Louis The dissertation turned on the reXVIII. at Calais, the Royal Institute ciprocal mistakes of painters and poets, held its annual meeting of the four caused either by the ignorance of what

belongs in common to their respective went to Versailles; whére, lasi BoUTI as arts, or by the confusion of their pe- I arrived, I got luto another and re culiar properties."

turned to Paris,-ofraganj and back The meeting was terminated by a quick. Here is a written count of very fine Ode, recited by M. Raynou- ny travels, you will find the bar ard, author of the tragedy of the been going about for six months that Templiers, on the devotedness of Ma- I have travelled above a thousand lesherbes, one of the defenders of the leagues, have faithfully followed your unfortunate Louis XVI.

prescription, am in perfect health, and The subject of the prize founded by have never missed one opera or buffa!" Volney, which will be adiudged in the The Musée for the exhibition of the meeting of the 24th of April next year, productions of modern artists, after is “ the composition of an alphabet having been adjourned from one epoch fitted for the transcription of Hebrew, to another during a twelvemonth, was and all the languages derived from the opened on Thursday last at ten o'clock same source, including the literal in the morning. A considerable crowd Ethiopian, the Persian, Turkish,

Ar- of amateurs and connoisseurs rushed menian, Sanscrite, and Chinese. This immediately into the vast saloons of alphabet must have for its basis the the Louvre, to exainine, judge, critiRoman alphabet, the signs of which cise, praise, and admire the masterwill be multiplied by slight accessories, pieces of the artists, and, above all, to without their configuration being es- enjoy the satisfaction of being the first sentially altered; each sound must be to give their opinion of them. In this represented by a single sign, and each rout of spectators, in this hurlyburly sign reciprocally must be exclusively of divers opinions, expressed someemployed in expressing a single sound. times with confident ignorance, someThe author will endeavour, as much times with wonderful sagacity, always as possible, to render the new alpha- with ardour, it is impossible to give bet proper for transcribing at the same that decided attention to the grand time the orthography and the pro- compositions which adorn this exhinunciation of the above-mentioned bition that they deserve. All real Asiatic languages."

pleasures, and especially those derived The prize is a gold medal of 1200 from the fine arts, require a little refrancs (£50.) The Memoirs addressed flection, and cannot be judged with to the Academy must be written in precipitation. Almost all the inforFrench, and will not be received after mation, therefore, that I can venture the 15th of next January.

to give you at present concerning this The following anecdote is an ad- exhibition, amounts merely to some ditional proof, if any were wanting, topographical details concerning the how much the originality of our coun- saloons in which they are placed. The trymen has amused the Parisians:-An great difference of this exħibition and Englishman, who had fallen into a that of former years in this respect is, very bad state of health, was ordered that the great gallery of the Louvre by a celebrated French physician to has been preserved entire for the antravel for five or six months, and to go cient paintings; none of them have from 15 to 20 leagues every day if his been displaced or taken down. Thus strength permitted it. At the end of the public can enjoy at once the ana six months, the patient calls on his cient and the modern riches of this physician, who finds him in the most temple of the fine arts; the present flourishing state of health, and asks manner may be compared with the prehim where he comes from. “ From ceding ones; and one may judge at once Versailles," says the Englishman. what is the progress and amelioration “ From Versailles !" replies the doctor. of art in some respects, what is its in

Why, I told you to travel at least a feriority and decline in others. The thousand leagues.”—“I have obeyed greatest part of these modern paintyou punctually, and have travelled ings are placed in the galleries which over every one of them,” rejoined the look on the courts of the Louvre, and Englishman; “but as I like very much in that of the Grand Colonnade. It the

restaurateurs at Paris, the French must be confessed, however, that this opera, and the Italian buffa, I made new arrangement is much more famuy arrangements accordingly. Every vourable to the public than to the morning I set out in a carriage and artists. The light is infinitely better mg.

n in those which fine verses and brilliant epic passages

le courts of the were sufficient to form a good tragedy, crence, which is of the triumph of Mr Bis, the author of sequence to paintings, Attila, would be complete, and the

French theatre would be enriched with gallery of the colonnade is ter- another masterpiece. But if a tragic minated by a magnificent stair-case, composition, to rise above mediocrity, which leads to the Saloon of Sculpture. must have a probable action, the proThis part of the exhibition is very in- gress of which, skilfully combined, teresting this year, not so much for presents an interest always increasing; the number of the productions, as for a principal character, well supported, their importance.

who, in his transports, and even in his As I have already said, I cannot pre- crimes, never excites contempt, nor sume to give an opinion of things which even that horrible pity inspired by I have only seen with a glance. But madness; a character, the effect of if I consult the public voice, which, which is rendered more prominent by however, I am far from considering as unaffected contrasts, then, indeed, we the vox dei, particularly with respect must declare that Mr Bis has remainto the fine arts, the exhibition has noted far from the point where the palm answered the public expectation, nor awaits the victor. His production is come up to the hope, which might be very imperfect, but he has shewn a justly entertained from the number of talent which gives well-founded hopes celebrated painters now flourishing in for the future; and the more so, as it France. There are but few produce has quite an original colour, and seems tions of the great living masters. On perfectly free from the servitude of the other hand, there is an abundance imitation. of paintings in the style which the I must confine myself to a very raFrench call tableaux de guerre; do- pid analysis of this new Attila. mestic scenes, promenades en caleche, This formidable chief of the Huns popular caricatures, fairs, &c. and a has marched from victory to victory, handsome proportion of portraits of from the front of the Great Wall of ladies and gentlemen, whom nobody China, to the banks of the Marne, knows, nor ever heard of. One pare near Paris ; fright, devastation, and ticular circumstance has occurred at death, have everywhere marked his this exhibition, which has formed a passage ; empires have fallen before subject of conversation all over Paris. him, towns have disappeared, whole Horace Vernet, one of the most popu- nations have been effaced from the lar painters of the day, presented no surface of the earth, and the contemptless than 32 pictures for the exhibi. ible princes who totter on the thrones tion. The jury that was appointed of Rome and Byzantium, have only to examine all the pieces that were pre- . preserved the appearance of sovereignsented, rejected two of this artist's, as ty at the expense of their treasures calculated to excite revolutionary ideas and their honour. The heirs of Au-' that had better be forgotten. Piqued gustus are the tributaries of a Scyat this, Vernet withdrew every one of thian. his pictures, and, it is said, means to Attila has made an invasion into exhibit them in his own house. Gaul, and has sworn to destroy Lute

A new tragedy has just been brought tia and the infant empire of the Franks. out at the Second Theatre Francais, It is in his camp, in his very tent, that entitled Attila, a subject which the the action of the piece is placed. Every great Corneille, as the French call him, thing seems to favour the projects of pitched upon in his latter years, but in the Scourge of God. Marcomir disputes which he completely failed. If some the throue of Lutetia with his brother strokes of a vigorous pencil in the Mesordus, and, ambition stifling in painting of a great character, a bold- his breast all the sentiments of nature ness of expression occasionally happy, and patriotism, he goes over to Attila, a sort of poetical exultation not always as his ally and protector, or rather his in unison with good taste, but seducing master. and attractive, and certainly preferable Queen Edvege, and Genevieve, who to the languid purity and droning is considered by the inhabitants of the exactness of lines, without colour or banks of the Seine as an oracle inspienergy; if, in short, a great number of red by heaven, have fallen by chance

« AnteriorContinuar »