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Fifth Series, Volume XXXIII.
No. 1910.- January 22, 1881.
I. SAINT-SIMON'S PARALLEL of Three KinGS, Edinburgh Review,
194 FROM THE SICILIAN Of Vicortai,
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LITTELL & CO., BOSTON.
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"How sadly the year came in!" they said.
I listened and wondered in dusk of night, To me no year that might come instead Of the old friend numbered among the dead Could ever be half so bright.
The sun-kissed clouds grew pale and grey, The bells hung silent in high mid-air, Waiting to ring the year away.
In strains that were ever too glad and gay
Oh, hearts that beat in a million breasts,
Is it just the same as it used to be?
Have new years only a gladder sound?
BEFORE THE DAYBREAK. BEFORE the daybreak shines a star That in the day's great glory fades; Too fiercely bright is the full light
That her pale-gleaming lamp upbraids.
Before the daybreak sings a bird
That stills her song ere morning light: Too loud for her is the day's stir,
The woodland's thousand-tongued delight.
Ah! great the honor is, to shine
A light wherein no traveller errs; And rich the prize, to rank divine Among the world's loud choristers.
But I would be that paler star,
And I would be that lonelier bird;
F. W. B.
You've heard of the Octopus, 'tis a pleasant thing to know,
He has a ganglion makes him blush not red, but white as snow;
And why the strange Cercaria, to go a long way back,
Wears ever, as some ladies do, a fashionable "sac; ""
And how the Prawn has parasites that on his head make holes,
Ask Doctor Cobbold, and he'll say they're just like tiny soles.
Then study well zoology, and add unto your store,
The tales of biogenesis and protoplasmic lore: As Paley neatly has observed, when into life they burst,
The frog and the philosopher are just the same at first.
But what's the origin of life remains a puzzle still,
Let Tyndall, Haeckel, Bastian go wrangle as they will.
FROM THE SICILIAN OF VICORTAI.
LASSIE wi' the face sae bonnie,
By some danger I maun dare!
From The Edinburgh Review. SAINT-SIMON'S PARALLEL OF THREE
tinued the practice with undiminished assiduity throughout his active life, the Memoirs," as we now possess them in a Not often does it happen that the vast voluminous manuscript completely tranocean of literature casts upon our shores scribed by his own hand, were the proa pearl of great price amongst the weeds duction of his later years.* He had and rubbish of the times. But this vol- withdrawn in 1723 from the court, being ume claims a conspicuous place in the then only forty-eight years of age. The classical literature of France and of Eu- sudden death of the Duke of Orleans by rope. It is a work of the eighteenth – a stroke of apoplexy in that year severed we might almost say, from its style, of the last tie which bound him to his conthe seventeenth-century, the most splen- temporaries. Thenceforth he lived altodid period in the history of French let-gether in the past he lived over again ters; but its existence was till lately un- those years from 1691 to 1723, to which known to the world, for it lay buried in his pen was destined to give an immortal the accumulated masses of the Saint-Si- shape and coloring. And he survived mon manuscripts, still jealously guarded his retirement thirty-two years. These and preserved in the Foreign Archives of years were spent in his country-seat at La Paris. So little was the real character and Ferté, and during the whole of this period, value of this "Parallel " understood that down to his death at the age of eighty in it is referred to by M. Lefèvre-Pontalis, 1755, the habit of writing continued to be in the excellent essay which was crowned the chief occupation and amusement of by the French Academy in 1855, as the his existence. There is not another exproduction of Duke Claude de Saint-Si- ample in literary history of so voluminous mon, the father of the illustrious author an author, writing with no prospect of of the "Memoirs," and not of his son, gain or of same nec lucri nec famæ spe which was impossible, because it refers adlectatus uncertain whether he would to events long subsequent to the death ever be read at all, certain that, if read by of the first duke. M. Faugère has been posterity, a century at least must pass engaged for the last eight years in a care- before the results of his prodigious and ful examination of the Saint-Simon manu- indefatigable labors could be known to scripts, consisting, no doubt, in great part, the world. But literature is no ungrateful of the journals, notes, and materials from mistress. The treasures of the past which which the "Memoirs were transcribed. are placed in her keeping are repaid with He proposes to publish in six volumes a interest. The modesty or the indifference selection of the most valuable portion of of this silent writer who cast his bread these documents, and in the forefront of upon the waters has been recompensed his work he has placed the biographical after many days by a higher rank than essay now before us, which has been that of his ducal honors, and he will live hailed by the most competent judges as a forever amongst the greatest annalists of masterpiece of this great author, bearing his own country, amongst the keenest obon almost every page the stamp of the servers of human nature. A recent critic, full maturity of his genius. commenting on some observations of our own, has remarked that Saint-Simon is one of the authors who are more talked about than read. We cannot verify the truth of this assertion, but in our judg
Saint-Simon was seventy-two years of age when he resolved in 1746 to write this parallel of the three great Bourbon kings, Henry IV., Louis XIII., and Louis XIV. Although he began to keep a journal of the events of his time in 1694, when he was only nineteen years old, and con
The mode in which Saint-Simon composed his "Memoirs," and the date at which they were written, are
discussed at considerable length in an article published
by ourselves in No. 243 of this journal in January, 1864, • Ecrits Inédits de Saint-Simon publiés sur les to which we may refer our readers. It is therefore manuscrits conservés au Dépôt des Affaires Etran-needless to revert to this subject. The "Parallel" was geres. Par M. P. FAUGERE. Tome Premier: Paral- undoubtedly written after the "Memoirs" were comlèle des trois premiers Rois Bourbons. Paris: 1880. pleted.
ment the "Memoirs" of Saint-Simon are obtained a copy of the journal of that one of the few modern works which pos- sedulous courtier, which he covered with sess, like the ancient classics or like notes in the earlier years of his retireShakespeare, an inexhaustible interest. ment. These notes and other materials If one has nothing else to read or to do, were transferred into the "Memoirs," they are always attractive and interesting. which were completed between the years Life itself would be duller without their 1740 and 1746. This fact is proved by company. Every page is alive. Every the insertion of numerous references to personage comes before one in his proper occurrences of that late period. for inhabit. A man well read in Saint-Simon stance, the death of Philip V. of Spain, knows the court of Louis XIV. better which took place in 1746. The introducthan he knows the court of Victoria. tion to the "Memoirs" is dated 1743, We guess at the characters and motives and the whole manuscript was written off of our contemporaries; we judge, and clean by Saint-Simon himself, without adthink we know, the characters and mo- ditions, insertions, or corrections. Havtives which are stamped on the page of ing then completed this extraordinary history. No doubt the passionate style labor, he appears to have thought that in which Saint-Simon wrote is the main the time was come to execute a long-chersecret of his attractive power. M. de ished design of writing an exact historical Sainte-Beuve called him the Rubens of comparison of the characters and reigns the court of Louis XIV., from the strength of Henry IV., Louis XIII., and Louis and color he threw upon the canvas. We XIV., dictated mainly by a romantic dehave heard an equally great authority desire to vindicate the fame of Louis scribe him as the Rembrandt of history, XIII., which had, and has, doubtless because out of his vast irregular senten- been eclipsed by that of his father and ces, rising as they proceed in force and his son. passion - a turbid cloud of words, wholly unlike the order and purity of French composition - flashes forth at last an expression or an epithet which illuminates the whole passage and brands it on the memory. It took more than a century for the French to comprehend such a style, which is to the established traditions of French prose what Gothic architecture is to Greek. When Madame du Deffand was first allowed to have these manuscripts read to her, she told Horace Walpole that they were vastly amusing, but mal écrits: just as Swift said of Bishop Burnet (who is the nearest approach we possess to Saint-Simon) that he had "an ill style." But now the victory is complete. In a form essentially Louis XIII. had been dead one hundifferent from his own, Bossuet himself dred and three years when these lines has found a rival where he never sus- were written. But a century had not pected it. Saint-Simon ranks with the finest French writers, and this volume may be ranked amongst the chefs d'œuvre of his pen.
We have said that he was seventy-two when he wrote it. It is now ascertained with tolerable certainty that after the death of Dangeau in 1720 Saint-Simon
I will not deny that impatience of the injustice commonly done to Louis XIII., between his father and his son, has ever inspired me with the desire to set it right, both by conviction and by feeling. That feeling is gratitude. My father owed to that prince all his fortune, I therefore all I am. All I have reminds me of his benefits. I wait in vain that some one else, who lived by his favors, and more capable than myself, should be sufficiently mindful of them to rescue his benefactor from this intolerable oppression. No one in all these years much ingratitude and ignorance drives me to has attempted it. At last indignation at so take up the pen, but with the most scrupulous observance of truth, which alone gives a value and inspires belief.
extinguished the ardent feelings of gratitude and affection cherished in the house of Saint-Simon, and, we must add, revived even in our time in the house of Luynes, for the late Duke de Luynes erected a statue in solid silver, in the hall at Dampierre, to the memory of the benefactor of his race. For fifty years Saint
story gained by repetition. Nowhere is the close of the great tragedy, the death of the king, related with such power as in these pages. Saint Simon had a natura! gift of eloquence and an unequalled original faculty of description -a touch did it, and every touch told. But he was not a finished artist. With all his gifts and all his industry, he was too much a grand seigneur to correct what he wrote. He knew that his sketches were loose and sometimes incoherent but what of that?
Simon never failed to make a pilgrimage | related to him by his own father, but this to the tomb of the king at St. Denis on must have been before he was eighteen, May 14, the anniversary of his death; scarcely more than a boy; in speaking of and an ever-burning lamp hung for more Louis XIV., each scene rises before his than a century before the king's bust in eyes, for he had witnessed it. He had the chapel of La Ferté. He was the often described those scenes before. Evpatron of the family; and it is not won-ery incident was familiar to him; yet the derful that Saint-Simon, in whom all the traditions of his race were sacred and unchangeable, should have held his own literary life to be incomplete until he had endeavored to vindicate the character and the reign of his father's royal friend, even at the risk of exaggeration, since he was prompted by these feelings to draw a picture of Louis XIII. which might pass for that of a hero and a saint. The parallel is in fact a panegyric even more than an apology. It must be read as such. But, without sharing the enthusiasm of the writer, we think that he raises considerably the character of Louis XIII., whose fate it has been to be overshadowed by his predecessor and by his successor, and above all by his own minister, Richelieu.*
We are not insensible to the defects of this work. It is full of repetitions, which are sometimes tedious; it is full of those prejudices which were rooted and ingrained in the mind of Saint-Simon. If he delights to raise Louis XIII. to the light, it is partly because by the effect of contrast he throws the latter years of Louis XIV. into darker shades of gloom and horror. The plan of the work is not happy. In speaking of Henry IV. he writes from tradition; in speaking of Louis XIII. he writes from anecdotes
He was not an author. He wrote under an irrepressible impulse to write more for himself than for other people. We question whether he had any clear idea of the future fate of his manuscripts — a perilous inheritance: was it worth while to polish and revise them? Perhaps they would have lost something of their rugged grandeur if he had attempted the task. We like them more with the fierce irregularity of an earlier age, than if the varnish of the eighteenth century had been smeared over them.
The chronology of the Bourbon kings of France is in itself curious, and may suggest reflections to our readers. There were but five of them, from the extinction of the house of Valois in 1589 to the French Revolution, which began exactly two centuries later. From the birth of Henry of Navarre in 1553 to the death of Louis XVI. in 1794, a period of no less than two hundred and forty-one years elapsed. These sovereigns succeeded each other by direct lineal descent, but Louis XV. was the great grandson, and Louis XVI. the grandson, of their respective predecessors. During the same period, no less than ten sovereigns reigned in England, besides the Commonwealth. Within this era, and within the lives of these five men, the entire history of the old Bourbon monarchy is com
The character of Louis XIII. by Nicolas Goulas, who was not in his service but in that of his brother, is perhaps more just, though less highly colored than that of Saint-Simon. "I must show you," he says, King Louis XIII. as a very different man from the ordinary descriptions of him, and from what he was supposed to be, for he had fine qualities, a great heart, a great mind, a perfect intelligence of war; he was capable of counsel, jealous of his authority, a good judge of the strong and the weak in mankind, fearing God, loving justice, ardent for the glory of his country and his reign, in dread of his brother and the queen his mother; but his chief defect was a distrust of himself, for, imagining that he would make mistakes if he stood alone at the helm, he made the most deplorable mistake of all in surrendering it entirely to those whom he called to office under him. (Mémoires de Goulas, vol. i., p. 16.) | prised. The parallel written by Saint
but harsh to his kinsfolk and severe to all. He lived