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est of them all, Catholicism, he has studied from within as well as from without. He has been initiated in the Great Mysteries; he may trulv aver that he has put his hand in the basket, and eaten out of the tumbrel," and may utter his Kóуğ öμnаž. And what does it come to, his mystic message, and of his Kóуs ouπağ what is the interpretation? And first, to drive at practice, what is his theory of duty, of conduct? Why, this is the conclusion: that the world is a very diverting place, that a man should enjoy his youth, that virtue is a kind of wager we make with ourselves, a personal satisfaction, a thing one may take up as a generous line in life, but as for advising another to do as much!'' (L'Eau de Jouvence, Acte iii. p. 63.) This is the sentiment of wise Prospero, M. Renan's favorite sage. Ah, how changed from the wizard of Shakespeare's fancy! "J'imaginais la solidarité d'une humanité centralisée," says M. Renan's Prospero, speaking like a newspaper. How far we have wandered from Shakespeare's "fairy way of writing," when Prospero talks of solidarity, and Ariel of pre-established har mony !'' However, it is with M. Renan's ideas, not with his style, that we are concerned just now. M'étant peu amusé quand j'étais jeune, j'aime à voir s'amuser les autres,' says Prospero. M. Renan constantly returns to this position. He did not take his whack" himself, when he was young, as Mr. Harry Foker frankly avowed his intention to do, but he still cries, "Whack away, my boy," like the indulgent sire of Pendennis's early friend. This, indeed, was the gist of the advice which M. Renan, not long ago, gave some French students. It is a good-natured attitude without envy. Les vieillards," says Rochefoucauld, "aiment à donner de bons preceptes, pour se consoler de n'estre plus en estat de donner de mauvais exemples. "'* No one will add that, to console himself for having set a good example, M. Renan offers bad advice. His remarks could not add to the natural tendency to amuse themselves" which is admired in the young, perhaps especially among the young students of fair France. But he does
* Reflexions Morales. Paris, 1665, p. 48.
constantly harp on his jeunesse chaste, and he is exceedingly fond of displaying his indulgence and good nature. ' All we three, says Prospero, addressing two of his friends, were sober in our youth, for we had a task to perform. Well, seeing how little we took by that course, can we conscientiously recommend to others, who have no task to perform, the same rules of life? Look at the poor, look at people at large, allez donc. They are poor, and you want them to be virtuous into the bargain! You ask too much. After all, their lot is not the worst. It is only the simple hearts that amuse themselves. Now amusement is one way, a second-rate way, but real enough, of attaining the end and aim of life.. Why, to deprive ordinary folk of the one joy they have" (the magician means drink), "offer them a paradise they will never have at all."
This is Prospero's way of talking, and it closely resembles the way of M. Renan, who remarks, "J'ai pu, seul en mon siècle, comprendre Jesus et François d'Assise." Why, the Sister of Mercy
at the door, who comes to dun you for a few shillings, and goes and spends the money in the stifling hovels of the sick poor, she understands St. Francis as well as M. Renan. This learned man claims a monopoly of Christian intelligence, like that of the old Scotchwoman who remarked that she and her husband John were, to her mind, the Church on earth,
and I'm no that sure o' John!" To have un goût très vif pour le peuple, like M. Renan, to have a taste for the poor," is not quite the same thing as to possess, alone of mankind, the power of understanding our Lord and St. Francis.
But it would show a great Jack of humor to take this elderly and erudite butterfly quite seriously. These apologues are le divertissement d'un ideologue, non une théorie.' M. Renan writes these diverting variations on man, on God, and on the soul, in Ischia, while the dew lies on the vines. The philosophy for these hours of rest is the philosophy of larks" (it is indeed!)
and of grasshoppers, which have never doubted, I presume, that the light of the sun is a capital thing, life a delightful
* Souvenirs d'Enfance. Paris, 1886, p. 148.
gift, and the earth of living beings a pleasant habitation." *
Doubly must we be on our guard against taking the grasshopper's ethics too seriously (the grasshopper is not a burden to M. Renan), because there may be a grain of envy at the bottom of our virtuous indignation. M. Renan, of the sober youth, does not envy youth which is not sober, and this excellent example should encourage youth not to grudge the gayety of M. Renan's age.t It is not the moralist alone who must make allowances for M. Renan's being a merry old gentleman. The people, for whom he has a very lively taste, might be vexed if they conceived that his Caliban is his ideal popular representative. In Milan, under the restoration, when Prospero came to his own again, Caliban wallowed in laziness and liquor. Caliban uttered the popular protest against the lot of the working classes, though it is true he did not work. Je suis exploité," he says to Ariel; 'Plat valet, tu ne vois donc pas qu'être exploité par un autre homme est la chose la plus insupportable? . . . La révolte, en pareil cas, est le plus saint des devoirs.' So Caliban does arise in the pride of his manhood, and Caliban est chef du peuple," for whom M. Renan has un goût très vif. However, M. Renan's theory of the future of society must not distract us from his conception (as far as his apologues and Souvenirs reveal it) of duty and of conduct. That conception is once more stated, or revealed, or reflected, or hinted at, in his latest drama, L'Abbesse de Jouarre (Paris, 1886). This is the most recent, and infinitely the most popular of M. Renan's recreations, in the character of a philosophical lark or reflective grasshopper. For the purposes of this essay I have acquired examples of M. Renan's lighter works. Caliban, the earliest, I have procured, without research or
* Caliban, Deuxième Edition. Paris, 1878, P. iii. "La philosophie est celle des cigales et des alouettes."
+ This moral, perhaps, should not be neglected by a very clever young French writer the most promising-if an alien may venture an opinion-among the younger critics of France. I mean M. Jules Lemaître, who discusses with some severity the festive character of M. Renan. See Les Contemporains. Paris, 1886.
difficulty, in the second edition, that of 1878. The collector within me has been gratified by the very first edition of L'Eau de Jouvence, 1884. Two years apparently have not exhausted the first edition. Le Prêtre de Némi is in its third edition; the yellow cover says the fourth, but is contradicted by the candid title-page. Dialogue des Morts, 1882, is also in its first edition. But the new comedy, L'Abbesse de Jouarre, though it was only published three months ago, is in its twenty-first edition, with a new moral preface about the Phædrus of Plato, and some points discussed in that dialogue. Clearly, then, L'Abbesse de Jouarre is a great popular success. This may be attributed to the prevalence of Idealism and ideal views of duty in France.
I hope," says M. Renan in his preface, "that Idealists, who need no belief in the existence of disembodied souls to make them believe in duty, and who are well aware that ethical nobility does not depend on metaphysical opinions, will be pleased with my Abbess. Renan's Abbess, although she did not believe in the immortality of the soul, passed her last night (as she fancied it was) in the arms of a lover condemned to the guillotine. Whatever her own metaphysical opinions' opinions" may have been, she devoted part of her fleeting moments to the general views of her ardent and scientific wooer. Years after he was executed, she married some other person. Her lofty and spiritual conception of conduct has therefore so greatly pleased Idealists, who can believe in duty without believing in immortality," that they have already purchased twenty-one editions of L'Abbesse de Jouarre. Thus nobly have they testified, like M. Renan in his preface, to "their confidence in the persistent cult of the Ideal, and in the perpetuity of the species.' The Abbess did her best for both. With all his wit, M. Renan has little of what we call humor in English. Passages of L'Abbesse de Jouarre inevitably recall that glorious drama, The Rovers. For example, D'Arcy the hero, and the Comte de la Ferté are shut up in prison, and are to be executed next day. D'Arcy consoles La Ferté with the hope that the French troops have won a victory somewhere,
and this gallant adhesion to the side of His yielding fair, within the Captain's
says M. Renan, but the Abbess and D'Arcy, being Idealists, make phrases without the excuse of temptation. French ideas are so extremely unlike ours, without being any the worse for that, and M. Renan's ideas are, perhaps, so peculiarly French, that it is almost impossible for an Englishman to criticise these two acts. M. Renan, for example, is the only person in his generation who understands Christ," and this is the phrase his D'Arcy makes for the conquest of the Abbess : Rappelez vous le Christ, qui refusa d'abord le calice, mais ne "" An repoussa pas l'ange consolateur. English reviewer may pass over all this with the brief remark that he is not enough of an Idealist to criticise it.
The plot of the Abbesse de Jouarre is
"What Otaheiti is, let England be,"
In support of his opinion that were the
cries the emancipated bard in the Anti-in.
is, let England adopt the manners of
* Captain Cook of his Majesty's ship Endeavor.
The conclusion of the drama is well known. By some oversight the Abbess does not have her head cut off; she is saved by another admirer, M. La La Fresnais. Her attempt to strangle herself is frustrated, and she and her little girl," the consekens," as the elder Mr. as the elder Mr. Weller says, "of that manoeuvre" in prison, live a retired life. The gallant La Fresnais, however, perseveres in his suit, the Concordat comes in the nick of time, the Abbess's little girl wants to know why she has not a baby brother, and the Abbess, ever ready to oblige, accepts La Fresnais, and in announcing her intention to marry, makes some valuable remarks on the Mysteries of Ancient Greece.*
"The age," says M. D'Arcy, "has not touched us with its frivolity." Perhaps it may be thought that the frivolity has missed D'Arcy, and concentrated itself on his reviewer. But who can take M. Renan's drama seriously? Life is not what he supposes. A loyal man, a true lover, would respect the last hours of his lady and leave her with God. To clear the air and freshen it, let me quote on this matter a book "touched with the finger of an adulterous time," as Lord Tennyson says, the Mort d'Arthur. "Therefore, like as May moneth floureth and flourisheth in many gardens, so in like wise let every man of worship flourish his heart in the world, first with God, and next unto the joy of them that he promised his faith unto. For there never was worshipfull woman, but they loved one better than another. . . . But first reserve the honor unto God, and secondly the quarrell must come of thy lady, and such love I call virtuous love.
* One would gladly discuss the Abbess's view of the Mysteries, which appear to be the reverse of what Plato hints at in the Phædrus. Of what Mysteries was the Abbess thinking? But this is matter for a separate investigation.
and men and women cold live together seeven yeares, and no licorous lustes were them betweene, and then was love, truth, and faithfulnesse. And soe in like wise was love used in King Arthur's days."
The popularity of M. Renan's latest piece may be accounted for, as we have seen, by the prevalence of Ideal views of Duty, and by the Ideal character of the work. But it must also be said that the drama is peopled by serious persons, not mere moralizing shadows, and that there are dramatic moments, as when the only woman D'Arcy ever truly loved comes in so pat, or when the door of Julie's cell opens, nobody knows how, and is locked again from the outside by whom nobody knows. If D'Arcy bribed the jailer to shut him up with the Abbess, so as to compromise her character after her death, whether his suit succeeded or not, then D'Arcy's chivalry was all unlike that of M. Feuillet's hero in Un Jeune Homme Pauvre. He jumped off the top of a tower, it will be remembered, in which he had been shut up accidentally with the lady of his heart. Perhaps he was not an Idealist. Other dramatic moments in L'Abbesse de Jouarre are the conclusion of the Concordat in time to make two lovers happy, and the discovery that the name of the Abbess is not on the list for instant execution. Naturally these points make the modern play much more popular than, for example, Le Prêtre de Némi. Yet that drame philosophique, which turns on the adventures of
The priest who slew the slayer,
do so much for itself. Yet M. Renan thinks this a wholesome book, because it teaches us not to be dismayed at the instable equilibrium of humanity, for we see the good and the true emerge after all from the hideous fens where croak and crawl the follies, and the horrors, and the sins of the world.' M. Renan defends his general theory : Qui sait si la vérité n'est pas triste?" Then, the question arises, Why is M. Renan gay? for, as M. Jules Lemaître says: M. Renan est gai, très gai, et, qui plus est, d'une gaîté comique. A melancholy smile may well wander over the lips of a philosopher; but there is not much melancholy, as a rule, in la malice de son sourire.
The truth about M. Renan is perhaps more easily ascertained than the truth about the universe and the nature of things. He has no fixed theory or philosophy. If he be an optimist, as he seems to be in the preface to the Prêtre de Némi, his is a deferred optimism. Let us leave the fortunes of the planet to be accomplished without troubling ourselves as to their conclusion. Our outcries will make no difference, our illhumor would be out of place. It is not certain that this earth is not missing her destiny, as probably worlds innumerable have long ago missed theirs. . . . But the Universe knows not discouragement; each check leaves it young, alert, full of illusions. .. Happy they who shall have had a hand in the great crowning success which will be the coming of God."
If this be optimism, it is " deferred," like some stocks in the market. But if M. Renan clings to this theory-and, optimist or not, it is an intelligent and dignified theory-why does he, in another mood, repeat the gospel of "having your fling"? If we are to be fellowworkers with God and blessed in the work, how can it be also true that there are many ways of working out our salvation, that those who do not 'faire leur salut" by virtue or science, may do it by travel or sport, or mere diversion? Yet M. Renan, as we have seen, makes Prospero avow that amusement is a mode of attaining the end of life. This, of course, is a relapse into pure hedonism or Cyrenaicism (if we are to employ the language of the schools), and all
idea of working together with God is abandoned.
The same instability, the same incongruity, appears in all M. Renan's ultimate views. He has a lively taste for the people, and he thinks that the people in France are very probably on the march toward American vulgarity." When the age of American vulgarity has come, however, les gens d'esprit will still be able to exist, on the condition of not being too exacting. However vulgar the people may be, it will not burn men of science, nor persecute the seekers for truth. Le but du monde est le développement de l'esprit, which may be developed even in Chicago. But when Socialism is the régime, and when we are all obliged to work with our hands, as in the Paradise of a new social creed, what will become of le développement de l'esprit? Where will les gens d'esprit be then? M. Renan does not face this problem of social democracy. M. Renan not only has no theory of the universe, but he is very well aware that he has none. He admits that in all things, except perhaps in politics, he is a frondeur. He is a Celt and a Gascon, a priest, and a philosopher; he is a moralist, and an advocate of the theory of "flings;" he is for collaboration with heaven, and for ing our souls'' by way of diversion; he is, in fact, as he says, a tissue of contradictions, like the hircocerf of the scholastic philosophy. He is Jekyll,
and he is also Hyde; he is Pulvis, and he is Umbra; he is Indra, and he is the sacrifice on the altar of Indra. One half of me seems to be busy in eating the other half, like that fabulous animal which devoured its own paws in mere absence of mind." Thus one of M. Renan's theories of the universe devours another, like the serpent which lives on other serpents, the ophiophagous snake. I am double," he declares ; sometimes part of me laughs while the other cries. He is like Angeli, the funereal jester of Louis XIII., and the bells ring on his sable cap and black bauble. is Jean qui pleure, and he is Jean qui rit; he is Democritus, and he is Herac
litus. "This is the explanation of my gayety, he remarks. As there are two men in me, one of them is always satisfied." The explanation would ex