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dread of sharing it; one is irritated by compari
Thus another superior talent has avoided my name in a work on literature. Thank God! though estimating myself at my proper value, I have never laid claim to empire; as I believe in nothing but religious truth, of which liberty is a form, I have no more faith in myself than in any thing else here below.
But I have never felt any necessity to keep silence when I have admired ; hence it is that I proclaim my enthusiasm for Madame de Stael and for Lord Byron.
For the rest, a document would decide the question, were I in possession of one. On the appearance of “ Atala," I received a letter from Cambridge, signed “G. Gordon, Lord Byron.” Lord Byron, at the age of fifteen, was a star that had not yet risen : thousands of letters of censure or congratulation overwhelmed me; twenty secretaries would not have been sufficient to keep pace with this immense correspondence; I was compelled therefore to throw into the fire three-fourths of these letters, and to select only such as it was most incumbent on me to return thanks for or to defend myself against. I have some recollection, however, that I answered Lord Byron; but it is also possible that the note of the Cambridge student shared the general fate. In this case, my forced unpoliteness may have been construed into an affront by an irascible mind, and he may have punished my silence by his own. How deeply have I since regretted the loss of the glorious lines of the early youth of a great poet!
What I have just said concerning the affinities of imagination and destiny between the chronicler of “ René" and the bard of “ Childe Harold," takes not a single hair from the head of its im. mortal author. Compared with the Muse of the Dee, furnished with lyre and wings, what is my pedestrian and luteless Muse? Lord Byron will live, whether as a child of his age, like me, he has expressed, like me, and like Göethe before us both, passion and wretchedness; and whether my peregrinations and the poop-lantern of my Gallic bark have pointed out the track to the vessel of Albion upon unexplored seas.
Besides, may not two minds of similar nature have similar conceptions without laying themselves open to the charge of having servilely trodden in the same steps? It is allowable to avail ourselves of ideas and images expressed in a foreign language, for the purpose of enriching our own with them : this has been done in all ages and at all times. Have I myself not had forerunners ? I hesitate not to acknowledge that, in my early youth, “ Ossian,” “ Werther," the “ Reveries du Promeneur Solitaire,” the “ Studies of Nature.”
may have allied themselves with my ideas; but a have never dissembled, never concealed, any portion of the pleasure imparted by the works in which I delighted. What is more delicious than admiration? In heaven it is love, affection exalted into adoration : we feel penetrated with gratitude to the Deity who extends the bases of our faculties, who opens new views to our souls, who bestows on us a felicity so great, so pure, without any inixture of fear or of envy.
SCHOOL OF LORD BYRON.
LORD Byron has left a deplorable school. I dare say he would be as displeased with the Childe Harolds to whom he has given birth, as I am with the Rénés that have sprung up around me.
The general sentiments which compose the groundwork of human nature, paternal and maternal affection, filial piety, friendship, love, are inexhaustible; they will always impart new inspirations to the talent capable of developing them ; but the particular manners of feeling, the individualities of mind and character, cannot extend and multiply themselves in grand and numerous pictures. The little undiscovered corners of the human heart are a narrow field; in this field there is nothing left to glean after the hand that reaped the first harvest. A disease of the soul is not a permanent and natural state ; we cannot re-produce it, make a literature of it, avail ourselves of it as of a passion incessantly modified at the The young
pleasure of the various artists who mould it and change its form.
The life of Lord Byron has been the object of many investigations and calumnies. have taken certain magic words in earnest; the women have felt disposed to allow themselves to be seduced with dread, by this monster, to comfort this unhappy Satan. Who knows? he had perhaps not found the woman whom he soughta woman beautiful enough, a heart vast as his
Byron, according to the phantasmagoric opinion, is the Old Serpent, that seducer and corrupter, because he perceived the incurable corruption of the human race; he is a fatal and suffering genius, placed between the mysteries of matter and intelligence, who sees not a word in the enigma of the universe, who considers life as a horrible irony without cause, as a perverse smile of the Evil One: he is the eldest son of Despair, who despises and denies; who, having within him an incurable sore, revenges himself by leading all that approach him to misery through pleasure; a man who has not passed through the age of innocence, who never had the advantage of being rejected and cursed of God; a man who, having sprung a reprobate from the bosom of nature, is the damned of nothingness. Such is the Byron of heated imaginations.