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TO-MORROW,' exclaims Mr. Phæbus Beuve, might be cited as giving the to Lothair, “to-morrow the critics will semblance of plausibility to the paradox; commence.
You know who the critics for, if he did not actually fail in literaare. The men who have failed in lite- ture, his reputation derives comparativerature and art.' This is certainly not ly little lustre from his original compotrue of the literary critics of our time, sitions in prose or verse. The 'Causewho comprise an absolute majority of ries du Lundi' have thrown' Joseph the most successful authors, e.g., Scott, Delorme' and 'Volupté
Volupté' into the Southey, Moore, Hallam, Sydney Smith, shade, and it is pre-eminently as a critic Gifford, Brougham, Milman, Lockhart, that we feel bound to reconsider his Lord Stanhope, Lord Houghton, Mill, claim to the high place amongst the Carlyle, Froude, Macaulay, Lytton. classics of his tongue which the general Moreover, success in criticism, like that voice of his countrymen has gradually
or Sainte-Beuve, is success in and reluctantly, compulsively rather than literature; but one of these, Sainte- impulsively, assigned to him.
To praise the talent of Sainte-Beuve,' I. C. A. Sainte-Beuve. Sa Vie et ses Euvres.
observes a far from partial biographer, Par le Vte. D'Haussonville, Député à 'would be a superfluous work : public l'Assemblée Nationale. (M. L.) Paris, opinion has slowly got accustomed to 2. Souvenirs et Indiscrétions.
consider him as the first critic of our
Le Dîner du Vendredi Saint. Par c. A. Sainte-Beuve, time, and my modest suffrage is not nede l'Académie française. Publiés par son
cessary to maintain him in that rank.' dernier Secrétaire. Paris, 1872.
His influence and renown in that capaNew Series.-Vol. XXIV., No. 3
city have not been confined to France. non to be classified, and we are now in a Without going quite so far
condition to consider him and his works Matthew Arnold, a bold and original in all their bearings without reserve, thinker, who terms him 'the finest criti- which, when we risked a review of them cal spirit of our time,' we readily admit (January, 1866) in his life.ime, we conthat we, in England, rarely undertake a fessedly were not. We then owned with subject, falling within the department of regret that the required fulness of detail letters, that has attained to European was wanting: that we were compelled interest within the last forty years, with- to grope in semi-darkness, where our out first turning to see what Sainte
or ourselves might live to Beuve has said about it. Nor in the walk in full sunlight. There is no longreat majority of instances, whatever ger room for such regret; the full sunthe extent of our prior knowledge, have light has broken upon us; the most we failed to meet with something useful trustworthy materials were poured out or valuable, if only a trait of character, with unexampled profusion so soon as an anecdote, an illustration, or haply the seal of secrecy was broken and the the key to an unknown or neglected restraints of private confidence were train of thought. At the same time we removed by his death. We have now an have been repeatedly struck by the want autobiography concise but complete as of breadth and elevation of view, as well to dates and facts, a long autobiographias by the entire absence of settled con- cal letter, a volume of reminiscences envictions that led him into so many start- titled 'Souvenirs et Indiscretions' by ling inconsistencies : that caused him to a private secretary; and above all) the be more admired than esteemed by the Life and Works,” by the Vicomte most illustrious of his compeers and col- d'Haussonville ; biography which leagues in the Senate and the Academy. leaves nothing to be desired in the way
of information, illustration, or apprecia* I was once,' relates M. d'Haussonville,' ac- tion. It is Sainte-Beuve drawn cidentally present at an animated discussion
close observation and study, and judged between persons who were comparing SainteBeuve with Mérimée from the point of view of
as well by his personal qualities as by moral value. The controversy was warm; his works. Corrected editions of his some stood out for Mérimée, others for Sainte- principal writings, with notes by himself Beuve. All of a sudden one of the company who had hitherto, contrary to his habits, pre- since his death, and it is an additional
or his secretary, have been multiplied served a deep silence, exclaimed, as he began pacing up and down the room : Do you know reason for the resumption of our task ihe veritable superiority 'of Mérimée over that some of the most remarkable Sainte-Beuve ? I will tell you. Mérimée is a gentleman ; Sainte-Beuve is not.” (Mérimée few years of its end. To save the trouble
passages of his career occurred within a est gentilhomme ; Sainte-Beuve n'est pas gentilhomme.)
of reference, we will briefly recapitulate
the details of his birth, education, early 'I should never,' adds M. d'Hausson- youth, and hesitation in the choice of a ville, ‘have dared to translate my calling till his destination became irrevothoughts under so aristocratic a form if cably fixed. I had not heard this judgment fall from Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve was the mouth of M. Cousin.' But Sainte- born on the 23rd of December, 1804, Beuve and M. Cousin were declared at Boulogne-sur-Mer. His father was rivals, almost open enemies, and we an employé in the department of taxes; should say that Mérimée's superiority the mother, of a respectable family was conventional rather than moral : in the same town who delayed their that it lay more in birth, breeding and union till he was named comptrolmanners, than in mind. This probably ler. This event did not come to pass till is all M. Cousin meant; for a man may he was fifty-two, and she past forty. He be what we understand by gentleman died within a few months of the marwithout being gentilhommé in France.
riage, leaving her with child of Charles This very conflict of opinion touching Augustin, who, although he never saw Sainte-Beuve makes him a moral problem the paternal face or heard the paternal to be solved, an intellectual anomaly to voice, was still thought to have been inbe investigated, a psychological phenome- debted more for his distinctive tenden