deterred him from further publication. That Sainte-Beuve nevertheless did regret his absolute restriction to a prose career was known to his friends ; indeed he has not shrunk from a public avowal to that effect — Le poète en moi,' he wrote, “ a quelquefois souffert de toutes les indulgences même qu'on avait pour le prosateur.'

Yet notwithstanding the absence of popularity, it was an honourable distinction of his career to have succeeded so far as to be admitted into fraternity by the great poets of his time, and to have satisfied in some measure the exigencies of men of severe taste. Such work cannot be looked on as failure : it always excites emulation and thought, and acts either by way of directing aspiration to new efforts or by way of warning. No writers of any eminence in France, we may be sure, have since the publication of Sainte-Beuve's poems failed to give them consideration.

For the poetic efforts of Sainte-Beuve were indeed in great part tentative and experimental. His English descent through his mother had led, as we have stated, to his acquaintance with Cowper, Crabbe, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Lamb; and his ambition was to introduce into the French language poetry of the same simplicity, truthfulness, elegance, and subdued passion drawn from natural scenery and types of ordinary life. It may be doubted, however, whether the kind of poetry which Sainte-Beuve aimed at producing is suited to the genius of the French language-certainly the moment in which he made the experiment was unfortunate. It could not be expected that poetry of so quiet a tone would make a deep impression on public attention, then fully occupied with the spiritual rhapsodies of Lamartine, the gorgeous pomp and colouring of the Odes et Ballades' and Orientales of Victor Hugo, and the passionate vivacity of Alfred de Musset.

These three poets struck notes which were sure to resound more loudly on the public ear, and to agitate the passions of the time more deeply than those to be found in Joseph Delorme' and the Consolations.'

It may be supposed that a desire to keep close to truth and reality led Sainte-Beuve to give his fictitious Joseph Delorme the condition of a medical student. This incident, however, gave M. Guizot the opportunity of classifying Joseph as a 'Werther jacobin et carabin ;' and although Sainte-Beuve replied he was but a “Girondin' at the worst, his hero still remains a' Werther carabin ;' for the character he has conceived is of the same family as the Werthers, Rénés, Obermann's, Jacopo Ortis, and other imaginary beings whom Melancholy marked for her own, and who were popular at the same time as Childe Harold. The psychological con

• dition which has been called le mal de René,' of which they were the expression, has now died away, and perhaps is barely intelligible to the greater part of our positive generation, who, if they have any spiritual malady at all, have it of quite an opposite complexion. Therefore the sorrows, passions, and dreamy meditations of Joseph Delorme have less chance of meeting with sympathy now than in the days of his contemporaries.

Indeed, those who knew Sainte-Beuve in his later years, and the readers of the Causeries de Lundi,' will find in his first volume of poetry, as well as in Volupté,' indications of emotions and tendencies with which they would hardly have expected to meet in such a writer, and which the habit of continuous criticism afterwards suppressed.

However, there are two characters in Joseph Delorme. There is the consumptive student perishing with decline and excessive labour, sometimes abandoned to the promptings of despair and doubt and incredulity, and returning ever and anon to ideas of suicide, sometimes endeavouring to find refuge from the gloomy imaginations which beset him in gross and facile pleasures and in sombre misanthropy, and sometimes escaping from all the temptations both from within and without, and finding delight in the contemplation of nature, of purity, and graceful simplicity. And there is another Delorme also, the indefatigable and curious student, whose qualities remained active in Sainte-Beuve to the end of his life. We will quote one quaint and striking little piece from this volume which characterises the latter division of Delorme's nature, and affords an interesting sketch of what Sainte-Beuve may be presumed to have been in his early days of literary research. It is styled Mes Livres :

J'aime rimer, et j'aime lire aussi.
Lorsqu'à rêver mon front s'est obscurci,
Qu'il est sorti de ma pauvre cervelle,
Deux jours durant, une églogue nouvelle,
Soixante vers, ou quatre-vingts au plus,
Et qu'au réveil, lourd encore et l'âme ivre,
Pour près d'un mois je me sens tout perclus;
O mes amis ! alors je prends un livre,
Non pas un seui, mais dix, mais vingt, mais cent;
Non les meilleurs, Byron le magnanime,
Le grand Milton, ou Dante le puissant,
Mais tous Anas, de naissance anonyme,
Semés de tout que je note en passant :

C'est mon bonheur. Sauriez-vous pas de grâce
En quel recoin et parmi quel fatras
Il me serait possible d'avoir trace
Du long séjour que fit à Carpentras
Monsieur Malherbe, ou de quel air Ménage,
Chez Sévigné, jouait son personnage.
Monsieur Courart, savait-il le latin
Mieux que Jouy ? consumait-il en plumes
Mieux que

Suard ? Le docteur Gui Patin,
Avait-il plus de dix mille volumes ?
Problèmes pas posés mais toujours pendants,
Qu'à grand plaisir je retourne et travaille.
Vaut-il pas mieux quand on est sur les dents
Plutôt qu'aller rimailler rien qui vaille,
Se faire rat et ronger une maille ?
En cette humeur, s'il me vient sous la main,
Le long des quais, en velin, un peu jaune,
Le titre en rouge, et la date en romain,
Au frontispièce un saint Jean sur le trône,
Le tout couvert d'un fort blanc parchemin,
Oh! que ce soit un Ronsard, un Pétrone,
Un à-Kempis--pour moi c'est un trésor,

Que j'ouvre et ferme et que je rouvre encore.' The · Consolations, which Sainte-Beuve published the following year, denoted a considerable revolution in the moral order of his ideas, though the style remained the same. Joseph Delorme had exhibited a tendency to materialist doctrines; the Werther carabin was the pupil of Diderot and Holbach. In the “ Consolations,' on the contrary, all materialism, all that was crude and sometimes gross in detail, had disappeared before a mystical religiosity. Sainte-Beuve has spoken of a crise morale having occurred at this period of his life, by which we are probably to understand some unsuccessful attachment, under whose influence he had a period of religious exaltation. Mystical rêveries, artistic sensations, letters to poetic friends, recollections of childhood, simple sketches of nature, form then the subject of the new volume, which was not given out like the former under a pseudonym, and yet perhaps it was less a representation of Sainte-Beuve than the first. At the most, it was the expression of a transitory stage in his moral development.

'L'impression,' wrote Beuve later, sous laquelle j'ai écrit les“ Con" solations," n'est jamais revenue, et ne s'est plus renouvelée pour moi. Ces six mois célestes de ma vie, comme je les appelle, ce mélange de sentiments tendres, fragiles et chrétiens qui faisaient un charme, cela en effet ne pouvait durer, et ceux de mes amis (il en est) qui auraient voulu me fixer et immobiliser dans cette nuance, oubliaient trop que ce




n'était réellement qu'une nuance aussi passagère et changeante que le reflet de la lumière sur les nuages ou dans un étang à une certaine heure du matin, à une certaine inclinaison du soir.'

We shall have more to say about this constancy in inconstancy so distinctive of Sainte-Beuve's life, and upon which he looked with such complacency, and we confine ourselves here to the remark that the Consolations' were regarded with different eyes by different admirers of Joseph Delorme.' Although it was perhaps the most successful of Sainte-Beuve's volumes of poetry, and was the most admired by such judges as Victor Hugo and Alfred de Vigny, the religious tone of the volume was distasteful to many, and Béranger, in a letter otherwise complimentary, could barely pardon SainteBeuve ce lambeau de culte jeté sa foi de déiste,' as he expresses it, and accused him of paying compliments to the

Seigneur,' in the same way as the Cardinals thanked Jupiter and all the pagan gods of Olympus at the election of a new Pope. However, there is no reason for doubting that SainteBeuve was sincere in the Consolations,' and that he had, or thought he had, at this time a mystical religious visitation. He often referred to it in after life as to something which could not last, and indeed it was but one of his various moral transformations, until he reached the final stage in which he died.

The phase of religious aspiration of the Consolations' had nevertheless an enduring effect upon Sainte-Beuve's style, although it had none on his ultimate religious convictions; it probably directed his thoughts towards the project of writing a history of Port Royal ; its effects are largely noticeable in his novel Volupté;' and it gave him a sort of unction of diction which is noticeable when he is dealing with any topic in which it is admissible. Subsequently to the 'Consolations,' Sainte-Beuve put forth another volume in somewhat the same strain, the Pensées d'Août.' The neglect, however, into which this new effort was allowed to pass, put an end to his poetical activity in the way of publication, though it was easy at any time to awaken within him the slumbering embers into a flame, one of the most remarkable instances of which was his reply to some well-known lines of Alfred de Musset, written upon a phrase to be found in one of SainteBeuve's criticisms-Chaque homme contient un poète mort dans son âme.'

· Aujourd'hui, writes Sainte-Beuve later, on me croit seulement un critique, mais je n'ai pas quitté la poésie sans y avoir laissé tout mon aiguillon.'


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The early part of the critical career of Sainte-Beuve has been cast into the shade by the success of the Causeries de Lundi;' nevertheless, to understand the manner in which he arrived at his later degree of perfection in criticism, it is necessary that this earlier period should be taken into account. Like Raphael and many of the old artists, Sainte-Beuve passed through three manners in his method of passing judgment on literary matters. One of the most significant of the articles which he wrote under the influence of his early romantic associations was that on Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, published in the first volume of his · Portraits littéraires.' This article was indeed an event in the literary history of France; it analysed anew with impartial delicacy and ability the reputation of a factitious glory consecrated by tradition and habit; and although Sainte-Beuve preserved as usual a certain moderation in his depreciatory judgment, the article nevertheless proved as prejudicial to the fame of Rousseau's artificial lyrics as his earlier criticism of the poetry of the sixteenth century had proved favourable to Ronsard. The articles on · Boileau,' Lebrun,' and other of the past glories of French literature are conceived and executed with the same discriminating judgment and fresh spirit of appreciation. Yet although the measure of praise or blame is carefully apportioned to the subject, these criticisms must not be taken as the final expression of Sainte-Beuve's judgment on the subject of each notice. Notwithstanding their moderation, he described some of them later as being written in all the insolence of aggressive youth.

The article on Boileau' he considered especially as requiring very considerable modifications; and he has declared decisively that in his opinion youth cannot possess that very delicate quality, taste; the calmness of judgment at that period is too much troubled by passion, by ardours in special and sometimes extravagant directions, to allow the balance to be held by a steady and impartial hand; youth, indeed, is too piena di se, too confident in its own force, to observe and to reflect with due deliberation.

From this first, the aggressive manner of criticism, SainteBeuve extricated himself under the reign of Louis-Philippe. During the eighteen years of the prevalence of a literature which had ceased to have the quality of artistic novelty, which was now admired as well as tolerated, Sainte-Beuve's style of criticism, as represented by his articles in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes,' became more impartial, more neutral in tone; it was analytic, descriptive, and somewhat discursive; but as he characterised it himself, in contrasting it with his later manner,

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