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condition in which some of his sentences find themselves. This condition amounts at times almost to incoherence. Each one, like an unskilful skater, keeps holding out its hand to its neighbor, without being able to touch him, and is in imminent danger of falling to the earth, without producing any other effect than that of amusement on the mind of the reader.
But if we remember that Beyle is a conversationalist, and that he is conversing with us as silent partners, and that the gaps are made by the remarks which we are expected to utter, we shall find little trouble, or rather a positive pleasure, in filling up the gaps he has left. For example, a foot-note to his chapter on sympathy in the History of Painting reads : “ The power of sympathy increases from century to century with civilization and ennui. The danger was too great in the retreat from Russia to have pity on any one."
It is only a pleasant exertion of intellectual energy to leap over this hiatus and to see in that terrible Russian retreat a picture of barbarism in general, where the danger to individual life is so great and constant as to swallow up every other feeling in the one instinct of self-preservation.
Beyle's method of criticism-natural, true, unbiased by any thought of what ought to be said, had for the French a far greater freshness than for us English. To understand the value of his work, we must recall French fashions of thought on matters of art. No one has described them better than Beyle himself. Speaking of the vicious cultivation of taste which is brought about by books and critics, he says that “the first effect of taste is a love of exaggerating the pleasures of nature in order to make them more striking. This is a trick our French writers are much given to. Asterwards they perceive that to exaggerate nature is to lose its infinite variety and contrasts. This cultivated taste corrupts true natural taste and falsifies the beholder's feelings. You can say very piquant things to prove that bread is poison. In the same way, Rembrandt startled his beholders with an unnatural distribution of light in his pictures. But the moment the artist allows himself to exaggerate, he loses forever the possibility of being sublime. We see Raphael, Annibale Corracci and Titien express the most profound feeling because they respect those effects and proportions which they see in nature. M. Angelo de Carravage and Le Larroche, great painters in other respects, one exaggerated his shadows, the other his color; and thus they excluded themselves from the first rank.”
This is a very brilliant criticism, and doubtless true in some degree; but one cannot help asking whether M. Angelo himself was not guilty of as much exaggeration as the most affected of them all; and yet none has ventured to question his title to the first rank.
As Beyle grew older, and as freedom from more active duties gave him leisure for contemplation, that happened which inight have been expected by any one knowing the man and his circumstances. The keen critical faculty which had been in the hands of its owner so penetrating and so efficient an instrument for the investigation of the works and lives of others, began to turn its edge in the direction which is ever most interesting to the man himself. The knise, slipping in the hands of the cutter, instead of neatly dissecting the artist, began to explore Beyle's own inner life. Or perhaps it were better said that the knife which had been too long diverted to the dissecting of others, now returned to its truest and, for the operator, most interesting task of searching out and explaining to himself, himself. Aster having whetted its edge upon innumerable vile bodies by way of experiment, it now returned to the solution of that great and ancient problem which the Greeks first proposed to the world, and then left without solving,—" Know thyself.”
For, after all, it is here (with himself,) that every man must begin as well as end his criticism; it is by his own experience, and through himself, his sympathies, his tastes, his own ways of feeling and modes of thought, that a man is first enabled to play the critic over others. It is from an analysis of himself that he learns to analyze others. By discovering his own motives, he learns how to guess those of others. And then asterwards he learns, by analyzing others, to analyze himself more skilfully. And so we find Beyle seated on the steps of St. Pietro in Montorio, at Rome, watching the sun setting over campanile and dome as he had often seen it before, doubtless, in his youthful military days. As the darkness covers the scene, and the Roman mists begin to rise over the campagna, he becomes sad : “In three months I shall be fifty. I ought to write my life.” These are the thoughts that occupy him.
This project of an autobiography was never carried out, except in a few fragmentary notes jotted down as the fancy took him, without system and almost without thought. From them we may see that he criticised himself as keenly as he did others. He had no more hesitation about submitting himself to his critical knise, than any other interesting object.
We find him speaking in this way of himself, for example: “ To tell the truth, I am not at all sure that I have any talent to cause myself to be read. I find much pleasure at times in writing ; that is all. If there is another world, I would be sure to go and see Montesquieu. If he said to me, My poor friend, you have no talent at all,' I should be vexed, but not all surprised. I often feel—what eye can see itself? ”
“I ought to write my life. I would know then, perhaps, when it was finished, in two or three years, what I have been,-merry or sad, a clever fellow or a fool, a brave man or a coward; in fine, happy or unhappy.”
" I have a lively sensibility, it is astonishing ; it is that which makes me suffer. What an unhappiness this being different from others is! Either I am mute, and commonplace, and ungraceful, or I give myself up to the devil which inspires me and carries me away.”
“My love for music has, perhaps, been my strongest passion and the most costly; it has lasted fifty years and is more vivid now than ever. How many leagues would I not go on foot, or how many days of imprisonment would I not undergo, to hear · Don Giovanni' or the · Matrimonio Sequeto!' I know not anything else for which I would make this exertion.”
“When I set myself to write, I do not think of my literary beau ideal; I am besieged by the ideas I want to put down."
“My sensibility has become too acute ; that which only scratches others, wounds me deeply. · Such I was in 1799, and such I still am in 1840. But I have acquired the art of concealing everything from the crowd under a veil of irony."
Such are a few out of the many detached expressions of personal feeling which we find scattered through his executor's biographical notice. They show him to have been a man of keen sensibility, and one upon whom works of art had a very vivid and strong effect. They
savor to an English understanding not a little of sickly cgotism. The reader would receive a bad impression of Beyle from them were he not reminded constantly of Beyle's active and even, at times, heroic life.
Keen, however, as were his analytic faculties, and introspective as he sometimes became, let no one fancy that Beyle was a morbid recluse. On the contrary, he was a man pre-eminently of the grand monde,-a man of affairs, ready with his tongue and sword on all occasions. He was with Napoleon in his Russian campaign. He stepped out from his quarters to see the burning of Moscow, thinking that it was the aurora borealis. On the terrible retreat from Moscow, across the snow, it was through his dexterity that the army were supplied with three days' rations,—the only provisions they got until they reached the Beresina. This important service he performed at Orsha, a town half way between Moscow and the Polish frontier. Yet, with all his readiness, he was as absent-minded as a philosopher and as careless as a beggar. On this same expedition into Russia, he wore a coat upon which his sister had carefully sewn twenty and forty-franc gold pieces for buttons. These coins were covered with cloth, like ordinary buttons, so as to conceal their real value, in the hope that, should he be reduced to great straits for want of money, he might have recourse to them, On his return, his sister inquired if the device had been successful. Then, for the first time, he recalled the matter, and was obliged to confess that, the coat having become shabby, he had given it away to a waiter without a thought of its valuable buttons.
Again, during the campaign of 1809, he distinguished himself by his readiness and courage. He was left in charge of a little town whose garrison had been withdrawn. Scarcely had the troops left, when an insurrection broke out. The people proposed to kill the sick and burn the military stores. The few French officers present knew not which way to turn. But Beyle was equal to the occasion; he made every soldier in the hospital get up, and he armed them with such weapons as he could find. He formed them in a platoon,-cavalry, infantry, and artillerymen,--all in the monotonous hospital uniform, and with them he made a sally on the crowd. At the first charge, the crowd fled.