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the main as the reflex of polished society, he, and I say all in that,” nevertheless, then we may say of the mirror in La when his “Maxims ” appeared they exRochefoucauld's hand, it is certainly a cited among many readers a horror of the small one, but it reflects everything. man who could find so much wickedness Other consummate artists may have chos. in his heart. The fact is, that extreme en more popular forms of expression - doctrines, whether of the goodness or of Madame de Sévigné in letters, Molière in the badness of human nature, are never plays, and La Fontaine in tales of arch the discovery of any one man, but rather wit; but no one got nearer to the heart of belong to the atmosphere in which he French society than La Rochefoucauld, lives. In France, of the seventeenth cen. and no one gives more of its life-blood tury, no fact is more obvious than this than he does in his book. Nor is it only we stumble on it at every footstep — that of French life that he is the exponent; the excessive corruption of human nature he had a window into the human heart, was part of the religious teaching of the and his “Maxims "contain the very bones day, unmistakable in the oratory of such of the first man. In a word, no one, be Jesuits as Bourdaloue, but most accentuhis manner of art what it may, can be ated in the Jansenism with which La placed above La Rochefoucauld for in- Rochefoucauld had the nearest and most sight into the intricacies of human motive abiding ties. The most popular religious and for the sharpness with which he re-author of the day was Francis de Sales fects the to-and-fro of social life in ex- a quaint amalgam of John Lilly, George quisitely cut sentences. Voltaire gives Herbert, and Jeremy Taylor. His “ Inhim the further merit of having been the troduction à la Vie dévotecorresponds first in Europe after the revival of letters to Taylor's “Holy Living and Dying," who taught people to think and to con- but has much more play of fancy, breathvey their thoughts in lively, precise, and ing of the fields and flowers amid which delicate turns; but this is too largely ex- it was composed. Read what the gentle pressed. It may be true of France and bishop says of himself: “Ce bon père all the Continent, but it cannot hold in dit que je suis une fleur, un vase de fleurs, the country of Francis Bacon.

et un phénix: je ne suis qu'un puant To most people, however, La Roche-homme, un corbeau, un fumier.” It was foucauld is repulsive, and it is impossible the ecclesiastical style of the period. to set on high the man who is hateful, Since then La Rochefoucauld is not to who is supposed to delight in blackening be judged by himself alone, but by the his kind, and who has ever been accused, age in which he moved, let it be noted although most unjustly, of assailing the that, though one can scarcely speak of bulwarks of morality: Spite of the criti- him as a religious man, he was part and cal commonplaces, that art is independent parcel of a great religious movement of ethics, and that is possible to achieve sweeping on from century to century. greatness with a bad heart, there is some- We have to think of three centuries, the thing in the soul which rebels and resuses sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth, its homage to genius however bright with a great wave of thought rolling on when it is detestable. Therefore, to do from one to another. In the first of these justice to the intellectual eminence of La the wave was at its lowest: the Church Rochefoucauld, we have to touch on his was fallen, and religion had become very moral station and show how he came to cold. In the next the Church made a occupy it; so that being in his day the mighty effort to recover its strength, and man of highest breeding and sweetest France saw the religious wave crestingin courtesy, truest of the true, beloved by two distinct points, Jesuitism and Jansenhis friends in the most extraordinary ism. In the eighteenth century the moral manner, bewept at his death, says Ma. wave sloped down again with vast intel. dame de Sévigné, as man never was, and lectual force and lively spirits to uncleandrawing from Mademoiselle d'Aumale the ness of life, to inhuman devilry, to godless exclamation, “ I know nothing better than liberty, to utter want of faith except in wild men of the woods and the life of na- I wonder that he should give his own exture. And what does all this mean? It perience as a man of the world to the curmeans that in the sixteenth century, when rent religious creed ? His “Maximns" the Church was fallen, its leading doctrine were an echo from palace walls of the was Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism; it searchings of heart and the murmurs of denied original sin; it believed in human confession heard in dim recesses of the goodness; it put out of sight the over-cloister. It was not he alone who inwhelming need of supernatural grace. dulged in such maxims. There are people Let us leap the next century and glide on who can play at religion and make themto the eighteenth. There we find the selves buxom in a shroud. What the doctrine of human perfectibility, the dis- penitent sighed to his Redeemer the covery of savage virtue, the love of na. courtier twisted into epigrams. The wail ture, and tales of the age of innocence. of the broken-hearted sinner became the But between those two eras there is the wit of the Academy; and the shriek of seventeenth century, in which the billow the lost soul added dimples to the beauty has a different curve. The Church has of the précieuse in the blue-room of the revived; its most pronounced doctrine is Hôtel de Rambouillet. the need of a Saviour; and what can be

La Rochefoucauld was too sincere a the need of one, if there is nothing to man to indulge in such levities. Any one save ?

The fall of man therefore, the can see that, be his maxims what they power of sin, the frightful corruption of may, he is serious in them, and even stern. the heart, and the danger of everlasting Their great defect, and that which separpunishment, became the religious watch-ates them from the beliefs of the orthodox, words of the day. In England, at the is not that they are false, but that they same time, we know how the Puritans suggest no remedy. They preach the preached the utter worthlessness of man. depravity of the human race; they say not “ The whole head is sick and the whole a word of salvation, or at least give no heart faint. From the sole of the foot hint of a Saviour. The world on the even unto the head, there is no soundness whole is Pelagian, and believes in the exin it, but wounds and bruises and putre. cellence of human nature. So strong is fying sores; they have not been closed, this tendency that one scarcely knows how neither bound up, neither mollified with it fell to the lot of a poor Welshman of the ointment.” This piercing religious cry name of Morgan to go to Rome, to have might be heard everywhere throughout his name translated into Pelagius, and to France in the seventeenth century, but it bestow it benceforth forever on the selfwas loudest and most thrilling in Port complacency of mankind in its own virRoyal, and in the penitents who flocked stues. There must be an amazing fund of to its spiritual guides. La Rochefoucauld, self-satisfaction in the Celtic nature which when he planned his book of maxims, could thus stamp itself permanently in the lived in the midst of these people, and nomenclature of Christendom. It is bemany of his sentences were composed in cause the world is in the main Pelagian the precincts of the convent of Port that La Rochefoucauld was hard hit as a Royal in Paris, where his fair friend, slanderer of humanity and as almost the Madame de Sablé, was leading a half- incarnation of Diabolos. The world might, penitential life, one part in the religious denounce him; bis reply was always an house, the other in apartments of her own appeal to the fathers of the Church. The adjoining. There and elsewhere he had Jansenists were wholly with him; and the dinned into his ears : “We have left un- Jesuit father Rapin put him in the way of done those things which we ought to proving his doctrines from writings of the have done; we have done those things saints. Now, as then, we have still to which we ought not to have done ; and ask the doctors of the Church and her there is no health in us." “Oh wretched obedient children which they prefer, the man that I am! who will deliver me from pleasant creed of Pelagius, with a Saviour this body of sin and death ?” What | for whom there is no necessity, or La

Rochefoucauld's rough doctrine of a cor- 70. There is no disguise which can long rupt world in which the corruption is ac- conceal love where it is, or feign it where it is knowledged, though not the cure ? Not not. less have we to ask the admiring disciples

259. The pleasure of love is in loving, and of that ancient Briton, Morgan or Pela- we are happier in the passion which we feel gius, why is La Rochefoucauld to be brand- than in that which we inspire. ed as a 'misanthrope for doctrines which reigns so powerfully as in love, and one is

262. There is no passion in which self-love (details apart and the errors of false edi. always more inclined to sacrifice the repose of tions excepted) were in their gist received the person loved than to part with one's own. as praiseworthy from the lips of Bossuet 525. The power possessed over us by those and Fénelon, and from the pens of Arnauld we love is nearly always greater than that and Pascal? It may be that we are de- which we possess over ourselves. tracting from his originality when insist- 544. A true friend is the greatest of all ing that it is not he who first discovered blessings and that which we least of all dream the corruptions of the heart. Not much

of securing. originality can be claimed for any one in happy than one whom nobody loves.

561. A man who loves nobody is more unthat respect. His great feat is to have

434. When our friends have deceived us we secularized the doctrine, to have attired it owe nothing save indifference to the marks of in the phrases of the world, and to have their friendship, but we always owe sensibility applied it with rare fineness of observa- to their misfortunes. tion, with ingenious disclosures of detail, 84. It is more shameful to distrust one's and with the most incisive wit, to the friends than to be deceived by them. daily traffic of society.

395. We are sometimes less unhappy in How La Rochefoucauld has been cari- being deceived about one we love than in being

undeceived. catured by being identified personally with a particular selection of his maxims, wrong were only on one side.

496. Quarrels would be shortlived if the those that say the worst for human nature,

235. We console ourselves easily for the may be shown by the parallel process of misfortunes of our friends when they serve to selecting another set of maxims and tak- signalize our affection for them. ing them for a sketch of his portrait. In 433. The surest sign of being born with the common idea, he is a monster raised great qualities is to be born without envy. upon the pedestal of Voltaire's utterly 218. Hypocrisy is a homage which vice pays false but universally accepted remark that to virtue. there is scarcely more than one truth in

447. Seemliness is the least of all the laws

and the most observed. the book of maxims, that self-love is at the root of all. Having looked on that has permitted him to make a god of bis self

510. To punish man for his original sin God picture, let us try to imagine another conceit, and to be tormented by it in every act from the following confessions and rules of his life. of life.

512. We dread all things as mortals and we 31. Had we no faults of our own, we should desire all things as if we were immortal. not take so much pleasure to note them in others.

Add to these maxims the extraordinary 411. We have but few faults which are not circumstance that, with all his insinuating more excusable than the means we employ to address and courtly bearing, La Rochehide them.

foucauld was one of the most bashful of 202. Those are mock gentlefolk who mask men, and we may construct from them a their faults to others and to themselves; the portrait of him which, although not comtrue know them perfectly and acknowledge plete, must be more so than the comthem.

206. To be truly a gentleman one should be monly received one made up of other willing at all times to be exposed to the scrutiny maxims of the selfish type indicated by of gentlefolk.

Voltaire. It must also be a nearer like. 203. The true gentleman is one who vaunts ness, for the fact that is he disowned the himself upon nothing.

more odious of those sayings which have 358. Humility is the true badge of the gone to form his caricature and to fill the Christian virtues; without it we hug our faults, mind with horror at the hardness of his and they are only overgrown with pride, which heart. conceals them from others and oftentimes from ourselves.

This brings us to the history of his 537. Humility is the altar on which God book, which will show that he is best wills that we should offer him sacrifices.

known by maxims which he suppressed a 534. Crowds of people would be godly, but year after they were published. no one cares to be humble.

La Rochefoucauld published five ecli102. The mind is ever the dupe of the heart. tions of his “Maxims,” the first in



1665, the others in 1666, 1671, 1675, | author's views, it throws a false glare upon and 1678. The last is the authorita. the maxims which he allowed to remain. tive one, having received his finishing Any one who will carefully read the long touches and his ripest observations; but, maxim on self-love cannot fail to see what as often happens, he is best known by a masterpiece of writing it is, what a prohis first appearance. Now the differ- digious labor of love "La Rochefoucald ence between the last edition and the bestowed upon it, and how reluctant he first consists not merely in advancing must have been to suppress it. Only mellowness of thought and fitness of ex- some overpowering reason could have impression, but in two things besides — that pelled him to the sacrifice. So much the the author added many new maxims and greater is the wrong which has been done that he struck out old ones. With regard to his memory in the undoing of his deto his additions they have an interest of liberate intention. their own, although in the present con- He died in 1680, and thirteen years nection it is enough to say that, starting in afterwards friends, who must have had his earliest issue with three hundred and access to his papers, published a new edi. eighteen maxims, he added in successive tion of his " Maxims. They did their ones until finally he reached the number work badly. In the first place, they preof five hundred and four. But the impor. fixed to the edition fifty maxims, all tant fact to be noticed is that he sup- seemingly new, although upon examinapressed seventy-nine of his maxims, and tion it will be found that only twenty-eight that no less than seventy-five belonged to are new, while the rest are but repetitions his first edition. The grand auto da fé of those in the recognized collection. It took place before publication of his is odd that this misreckoning was not second edition. He then put into the fire detected by any Frenchman for one sixty-four maxims ; the remaining eleven hundred and sixty years. From the date being sacrificed from time to time later of their first publication in 1693 until

The sixty-four maxims thus immo Duplessis published his charming Elzelated the year after they were published virian edition in 1853, these fifty maxims included some of La Rochefoucauld's best- have been printed by a long succession of known utterances. For example, the very French editors as if they were all postelaborate one on self-love which appeared humous. But there is a worse fault in the at the head of his first edition, and on the edition of 169 Those friends of La strength of which mainly he is regarded Rochefoucauld who knew so little of his as the champion of the selfish theory of book that they published the fifty maxims morals, was quashed, and never again in as if all were new to the world, took it his lifetime permitted to see the light. It upon themselves to disinter the chief was the same with that other famous maxim, that on self-love, which had been maxim on the misfortunes of our best slain and buried by the author, and to friends. Such facts are of the utmost install it in the foremost place at the head importance to our estimate of La Roche- of the maxims and immediately after the foucauld, who has been seriously misrep- title-page. Probably they were wellresented through editors, after his death, meaning, however weak. They saw the replacing the suppressed maxims in his perfection of the writing in this, the most text, and in prominent positions there, eloquent, the most polished, and the most instead of keeping them in a class apart. vehement of all La Rochefoucauld's The consequence has been that our maxims; they could not understand why Shaftesburys, our Bishop Butlers, and he put his foot upon it; and thinking more other philosophers, have attacked for his of the form than of the substance, they unsoundness not so much the author of determined to revive it. Here was the the five hundred and four acknowledged entrance of evil and the beginning of maxims, as the author of the sixty-four confusion. In the next important edition disowned ones. It is not to be denied of the “ Maxims,” that of Amelot de la that in the acknowledged maxims traces Houssaye, published in 1714, we have the are to be found of the selfish theory; but whole of the suppressed maxims brought they would scarcely have been noticed back into the text and intermingled, nowere it not for the importance they de- body knows how, with the sentences to rive from the reflected light of the doc- which La Rochefoucauld gave his sanctrines which La Rochefoucauld abjured. tion. The process of corruption and And the reintroduction therefore of the misrepresentation went on until, towards discarded maxims into the text is not the middle of the century, the Abbé de merely in itself a falsification of the l la Roche prepared an edition of the

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“Maxima” in which they were frankly mously seven essays, which were attribmixed up with the “Christian Maxims" uted to La Rochefoucauld, which have of Madame de la Sablière, and hers were since been proved to have really come confounded with those of La Rochefou- from his pen, and which have embedded cauld's great friend, Madame de Sablé, in them a number of his acknowledged and with those of Abbé d'Ailly, Madame maxims. The accomplished abbé thought de Sablé's confessor. Imagine the mas- he could carve these essays into a supculine sense of the great French classic plementary series of maxims, instead of herding with anything so sickly and silly being faithful to his trust in giving the as this, which is contradictory in its very author's text precisely as he left it. terms: “In intercourse the most inno- Whether for this reason or for any other, cent between persons of different sex, such as the recoil of a nation, wild with there is always a kind of spiritual sensu- dreams of a millennium at hand, from any ality which weakens virtue if it does not depressing view of man, glorious, original destroy it altogether.” Such nauseous man, the edition of Abbé Brotier does nonsense had before then, it is true, been not seem to have made much way in published in conjunction with La Roche. France; and we have to pass on to the foucauld's maxims, but it had been printed year 1822, when that of Aimé Martin apart in a section by itself. The Abbé came out with a flourish of trumpets. de la Roche now mixed all up and con. The date is supposed to mark an era in fused them in a new arrangement - a sort the history of the “Maxims," as though, of alphabetical one, in which sentences then for the first time, they were preon the same subject were docketed to-sented to the public pure of text. It is a gether with the addition of footnotes, part mistake. Aimé Martin was a roaring, of his own device, part borrowed from raving ranter, but he had not a spark of Amelot de la Houssaye. This is the the critic in him. One stares at him with worst of all the editions of La Rochefou wonder as, with loud professions of relig. cauld, because, as we shall presently see, ion, he goes bellowing against La Rochethe model upon which (with corrections foucauld through hundreds of pages. It and retrenchments) was formed the only seems as if he expected to go down to English edition of the "Maxims” which posterity with the duke bane and antihas still a place in our book-market. dote. But what right had he to speak

There was no sign of improvement, until he had first proved his mastery of nothing but changes in the mode of adul- the “Maxima”? He is one of those teration, until the eve of the French Rev. editors who did not know that a score of olution, when the Abbé Brotier found La Rochefoucauld's posthumous maxims extreme difficulty in procuring a single were, as we have seen, published in his genuine copy of La Rochefoucald's work. lifetime. Moreover, his terrific bellowing He was so astounded at this discovery is a proof that, though mechanically in and so much interested in the work itself his pages the suppressed maxims were that he made many researches in public fenced off from the authorized ones, they and private libraries, the outcome being were in his mind inseparably intermixed. an edition of the “Maxims" (bearing No, indeed; after the conscientious work date 1789) the most perfect that had ap- done by the Abbé Brotier in the most peared since the decease of their author. unpretending manner towards the estab. He provided a trustworthy and rightly lishment of La Rochefoucauld's text, we numbered text of the “Maxims ” as left are not going to exalt Aimé Martio be. with the author's last touches in his last cause he inherited his predecessor's laedition; as for the suppressed maxims, bors and slightly improved upon them. he kept them by themselves under the It was not until 1853 that a critical name of “ Premières Pensées ;” and he edition of the “Maxims" appeared which added notes, full of curious information, was entitled to precedence over that of which has never been disputed, although Brotier. This was the beautiful little presented on his own sole voucher withElzevir edition of Duplessis, the same out reference to authorities. The Abbé who discovered for the first time in France Brotier, however, committed mistakes. that the fifty maxims announced as postHe reckoned the number of the “First humous were not all such.

Some strange Thoughts at one hundred and twenty- errors have crept into the volume; but one, which of course included more than the text fairly represents La Rochefou. were suppressed; and he took no account cauld; the annotations, full of pith and of the posthumous maxims. Moreover, point, are of curious felicity; and the in 1731 there had been published anony- whole work is so fine and so good that it

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