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openly on politics; but in speaking of the prose and poetry of Boileau and Racine and Fontenelle, the ingenious writers generally insinuated, as it were, ‘par parenthèse,’ a word or two on great questions of state, by which their political opinions were rather suggested than expressed. Thus was Literature the wicket by which they entered into this vast and fertile donain, which they subsequently made their own in fee. Bonaparte would not at this period have tolerated an opposition to his government and policy, though he allowed an opposition to his Hiterary opinions—to his ideas of tragedy and of a perfect epic. When he drove Mde. de Stael from France, that woman, of a genius so masculine and profound—of feelings so deep and impassioned—the illustrious authoress of ‘Corinne’ was sustained and comforted by the support of the ‘Débats.' Chateaubriand, too, was understood, sustained, and defended, in the ‘Journal de l'Empire,’ at a period when Bonaparte would allow no superiority but his own, and it is now a wellknown fact that the proof sheets of “Atala and René’ were corrected by the friendly, conscientious, and critical hand of the elder Bertin. The history of the ‘Journal des Débats,’ therefore, naturally divides itself into two distinct epochs. First, there was the ‘Journal de l'Empire,’ which at the beginning was more literary than political; and, secondly, there was the ‘Journal des Débats,’ —the same journal under a new name— which, in becoming openly political, did not cease to be literary. It is hardly possible to overrate the benefits which the ‘Journal de l'Empire' conferred on literature and on France. Its editors and contributors were the first to revive sound literature, and a better taste. They raised up and placed on their proper pedestals the ancient models, forgotten, and cast down, without unduly depreciating any innovators distinguished by ingenuity, talent, or learning. The principal writers in the ‘Journal de l'Empire,' were Geoffroy, who died in his 70th year, in 1814; Dussault, who in 1793 published the ‘Orateur du Peuple;' Feletz, Delalot, Hoffman, Malte Brun, and Fievee. The articles of Dussault were always signed Y.; but such was the spirit, taste, and immense erudition that they disclosed, that they principally contributed to establish the literary infallibility of the journal. M. de Feletz was a man of a different order. He was a gentleman of the old school,
polished, persumed, polite, satirical, witty, instructed, writing paragraphs a la Pompadour, and articles à l’ancien regime. But this veteran of Versailles had such a varnish of finesse d'esprit, that his collaboration was of the greatest advantage. Delalot subsequently became an eminent member of the Chamber of Deputies. Hoffman, a German by birth, was distinguished by a light, agreeable, transparent style, eminently French. He was a man of real depth and learning, and who gloried in the position of a public writer—a condition of existence he would not have changed with kings or emperors. Distinguished by a love of labor and of letters, he wrote with extreme facility, and could make the very essence of a book his own in a shorter time than any man of his day. He left behind him a noble library, within the four corners of whose walls he spent the happiest days of his existence. Hoffman became connected with the ‘Journal des Débats,’ then called, as we before remarked, the ‘Journal de l'Empire,’ in 1805. The connexion was promoted and facilitated by his friend Etienne, formerly secretary of the Duke of Bassano, and who was named by the emperor, “Censeur du Journal de l'Empire.' Hoffman was possessed of rare qualities. He was learned, not merely as a classical scholar, but as a man of science. He was exact and scrupulous in reading and meditating on the works which he was about to criticise. He had a hatred of coteries and cliques, and a love of independence and impartiality. These creditable feelings induced him to leave Paris for Passy, in order that he might live isolated and remote from all solicitation and influence. It was from this retreat at Passy that he attacked mesmerism and somnambulism, in articles full of wit and talent. It was from Passy, too, that he wrote that series of criticisms on the works of Chateaubriand, de Pradt, and Madame de Genlis, and those celebrated articles on the Jesuits, worthy of Pascal himself, which raised the paper to 18,000 or 20,000 abonnés. Such was the effect of good literary management, that at the end of the year 1805, the Messrs. Bertin were said to be making 200,000 francs, or 8000l. a-year by their paper. Hoffman continued to write in the ‘Débats’ till the middle of April, 1828, towards the close of which month he died suddenly, in the 68th year of his age. The last time we met him was at the table of a common friend, on Twelfthday, 1828, since also numbered with the dead. His learning, modesty, and rare companionable qualities, made on us an impression which time has not effaced. Articles on foreign politics became, from the period of Napoleon's letter, addressed directly to George III. (14th January, 1805,) a principal feature in the ‘Journal des Débats.' The greatest number of these articles from 1806 to the end of 1826, were written by the famous Danish geographer, Malte Conrad Brun, more commonly called in France, Malte Brun. Malte Brun was a brilliant but not a profound writer; but it must to his credit be admitted, that he was the first to render the study of geography attractive in France. It is a curious fact, yet perfectly true, and which we may state, en passant, that of the three great geographers of whom France is so proud, not one is a Frenchman. Brunn, or Malte Brun, to use his French name, was a Dane, Oscar M’Carthy is of Irish origin, and Balbi is an Italian. Of Fievee, we shall only say that his literary articles were considered solemn decisions, from which there was no appeal. He passed judgment of life or death on books, like an infallible, immovable judge, and was rewarded by his sovereign with a prefecture. We manage these things very differently in England. No critic, however eminent in England, ever obtained the place of Police Magistrate, from which an unknown Mr. Twyford has been dismissed, or the place of Consul, at Calais, to which a too well known Mr. Bonham has been appointed. Such were the men who sustained the ‘Débats' up to the year 1814, when Geoffroy died, in the 71st year of his age. The gratitude and good feeling of the proprietors of the journal, of which he had been so long the glory and the pride, secured to his widow a pension of 2400 francs, a sum equal, at that period, to 200l. a year in England now-a-days. We have heard, and believe, that such good and generous things have been done by the ‘Times' in reference to old writers and reporters, and in the days of Mr. Perry, at the ‘Morning Chronicle;' but we do not believe that in any English journal, however liberal, the example has been as generally followed as it ought to have been."
* The “Morning Herald' is said to have passed, recently, into the hands of Mr. Edward Baldwin, a gentleman distinguished by munificent liberality, and the most gentlemanly feelings, it is therefore to be hoped that the good example of
The death of Geoffroy, and the official occupations of Fievée obliged the elder Bertin, who had been for some time judge of the Tribunal de Commerce of the Seine, to look out for recruits. The Restoration had now taken place, and a new era dawned on literature. Men breathed more freely, and dared to utter their thoughts in a somewhat bolder tone. A hundred thousand new ideas, stifled amid the clangor of battle and the din of arms, now found free expression. The reign of terror had passed, and the reign of despotism. Men were sickened with the smell of gunpowder, and fatigued with the sound of cannon. The pen, now that the sword was sheathed, began to be used. Mind vindicated itself against matter—intellect against mere brute force. There was on the throne of France a learned and philosophic sovereign, a gentleman and a man of letters; a royal author, if not a noble one ; for Louis the Eighteenth had translated Horace with spirit and fidelity, and was the writer of the ‘Voyage à Coblentz,'—not exactly a tour, but a forced march, or flight from France, made by himself on the 21st June, 1791. It was therefore a moment propitious to letters and progress. Chateaubriand gave full rein to his imagination; Lamartine composed his first ‘Méditations Poétiques; Victor Hugo started into literary life, and Scott, Byron, Goethe, and Schiller, found hundreds of translators and imitators. The classic taste of the learned and voluptuous old king recoiled from much of the new literature :-but he resolved that, at least, the Muse should be free, that the thoughts of men should range unconfined, and that no padlock should be clapped on mind. The ‘Journal des Débats' was the first to understand the new era. Bertin the elder was a keen observer, and he comprehended the distinctive character of the Restoration as readily as he had understood the quality of the Empire. New and fresh, if not young blood, was infused into the rédaction of the paper. Duvicquet—the worthy and excellent Duvicquet, so fond of a good glass of Clos Vougeot, and so devoted an admirer of the plats truffés—had succeeded to Geoffroy. But Duvicquet was a rigid classicist, and it was necessary to find some one who would read and comprehend the rising literature of France,
the Débats' will be more liberally followed in this country.
and not be disposed to make a holocaust of it. Charles Nodier, a man of an easy and facile character, of gentle manners, but of solid learning, a pupil of the school of Chateaubriand, was the censor chosen to stretch out the friendly hand to the new band of innovators. It were difficult to fix on a happier choice. Nodier was not merely a classical scholar, in the best acceptation of the word, but a man well read in the modern and living literature of England and Germany. His articles were learned without pedantry, and distinguished by an admirable freedom, freshness, and grace. While Nodier yielded to the spirit of progress in literature, the high political doctrines of the journal were maintained by Castelbajac, Clausel de Cousserques, and the famous De Bonald. In March 1815, the proprietor of the “Débats' followed the king to Ghent, and in the September following was named President of the Electoral College of the Seine. Soon after, he was appointed to the Secretariat Général du Ministère de la Police. Meanwhile the columns of the ‘Débats’ resounded with the eloquent prose of Chateaubriand, and this was a step in advance of the ultra and excessive royalism of 1814. Men of genius in every walk of life were now encouraged to write in the paper, and in such a season it was that the Abbé de Lammenais, since become so famous in a democratical sense, composed some remarkable articles, not yet forgotten after the lapse of a quarter of a century. The old classical school of literature in France was fast disappearing, and Bertin soon perceived that the classical school of criticism must disappear with it. He again cast about him for young writers, and fixed upon M. St. Marc Girardin, then a nearly unknown young man, but whose ‘Tableau de la Littérature Française,’ subsequently to 1829, obtained the prize of eloquence from the French Academy, and who is now one of the most learned professors of the Sorbonne, and M. de Sacy, the son of the celebrated Orientalist, a young and learned advocate, of ripe studies and a pure taste. Both these gentlemen still afford their valuable assistance to the paper, and both are among the ablest writers in France. Previously to this pe. riod, Salvandy, the present Minister of Public Instruction in France, had written some remarkable articles, distinguished by a felicitous imitation of the style of Chateaubriand. From the period of the death of
Louis XVIII., in September, 1824, of whose character he gave an admirable sketch, till the present day, M. Salvandy may be considered among the contributors to the ‘Débats.' There are few public men in France who have more of the talent of the journalist than Narcisse Achille de Salvandy. To an extreme vivacity of intellect he joins great power of expression, an energy and enthusiasm almost inexhaustible. Some of the best and most bitter articles against the Willèle ministry proceeded from his pen, and he it was who, from his country-house near Paris, dealt, in some very able leading articles, the deadliest blows against the Polignac ministry. To this deplorable ministry the ‘Débats' was as much opposed as the “Constitutionel,' and both waged an inextinguishable war against the Jesuits. From the death of Hoffmann, in 1828, Eugene Béquet, the last of the old school, took a more prominent part in the literary department. His productions were distinguished, not more by sound sense than by exact learning, and a pleasant vein of humor. In 1826-27 the ‘Débats' counted not more than 12,600 subscribers. This was not owing to any lack of interest or ability in its articles, for it was conducted with amazing tact and talent; but a formidable competitor had appeared, in the shape of a journal called the ‘Globe, to which some of the ablest and most educated young men of France contributed. Among others, M. de Rémusat, one of the Deputies for Garonne, and minister under Thiers, and M. Duvergir de Hauranne, one of the Deputies for Cher, MM. Duchatel and Dumon, now Ministers of the Interior and of Public Works respectively, and M. Piscatory, Minister of France in Greece. Against that illegal ordonnance of Charles X, which abolished the press, the ‘Débats' made no such energetic remonstrances as the other journals. In speaking of the tumultuous groups of workmen traversing the boulevards, the writer of a leading political article' remarked, “On s'attendait d des actes énergiques de la part de Pautorité, l'autorité ne se fait remarquerque par son absence.” When, however, the insurgents obtained the upper hand, the note of the writer suddenly changed, and Lafayette was then spoken of as ‘le vielet illustre amide la liberté, le defenseur intrepide de l'ordre, dont I'âge ne refroidit pas le zèle patriotique."
This was in the first days of August, and within seven weeks afterwards M. Bertin de Vaux was named minister plenipotentiary to the king of Holland. In a very little while afterwards, Armand Bertin, the present gerant responsable of the journal, was appointed ‘commissaire' of the Academie Royale de Musique.
After the revolution of IS30 Duvicquet retired to his native place, Clameci, and the feuilleton” of the ‘’Journal des Débats’ passed into the hands of Jules Janin, who had previously been connected with the “Messager,’ the ‘Quotidienne' and the * Revue de Paris,' and who was then better known as the author of “L’Ane Mort et la Femme Guillotinee,’ published in the year previously. The modern feuilleton, under his management, no longer resembles the ancient. Whether it has been improved is, we think, more than questionable, and it certainly no longer possesses the authority which it enjoyed in the time of Fréron, Geoffroy, Feletz, and Hoffmann. The earlier feuilleton was distinguished by learning, judgment, critical acumen, and discretion, and a measured moderation of tone. It was occasionally dry, sometimes
smelling too much of the rust of the
schools, almost always ignorant of, and invariably intolerant towards, foreign literature. But though it did not exhibit the variety and vivacity of tone of the modern feuilleton, it was devoid of its shallowness, pretension, and parade. The ancient feuilleton aspired to instruct, the modern seeks merely to amuse. If the ancient feuilleton adhered somewhat too strictly to certain canons of criticism, certain cardinal principles in literature and art, the modern has too freely trifled with received notions, too much indulged in paradox, and a laisser aller style. In seeking to avoid a
* An explanation of the word feuilleton may be needed by some of our readers. Till within the last ten years, that part of the news. paper separated by a line of demarcation from the politics and mere news, was called the feuilleton. It consisted of small, short columns, and was devoted to literature and literary criticism. It was in these colums that the Geoffroys, Hoffmanns, and other able and learned inen of the day, produced articles worthy of a permanent place in the standard literature of France. This was the ancient feuilleton, which degenerated in the hands of Janin. Though subsequently sought to be restored to its pristine purity by Evariste, Dumoulin, Saint Beuve, Nisard, Gustave Planche, and others, the ancient feuilleton has now expanded into the “Roman feuilleton, in which ali sorts of literary monstrosities are perpetrated.
heavy, pedantic manner, the modern feuilleton has become affected, mincing, and maneirée. The ancient feuilleton was too learned and too erudite—the modern is too ignorant and superficial. The ancient frequently dived too deep into the subject in hand for a daily newspaper—the modern almost always skims too lightly over the surface of the subject, if it does not give the real question the go-by. The great abuser and perverter of the modern feuilleton has undoubtedly been Jules Janin. There is, as it appears to us, in every thing that he has written, what has been well characterized a ‘marivaudage de bas etage.’ He seems always to wish to be saying things uncommonly fine, witty and clever, and to be fully persuaded that it is his duty not only to write, but to think differently from other people. To accomplish this, he performs all sorts of mental gyrations and contortions, all sorts of grey-goose antics. Sometimes he is seized with a forced gaiety, which is, after all, but an abortive and lugubrious hilarity; anon he assumes a melancholy, which, if not sickly and sentimental, is put on as a mask to suit the occasion. Jules Janin is just the man who, for effect, to use the phrase of Curran,—‘would teach his tears to flow decorously down his cheeks; who would writhe with grace, and groan with melody.' He has sought the pretty, as Longinus sought the sublime. He delights in ingenious parodoxes, which he presents to you in ten different fashions: sometimes all rude and naked ; sometimes with a thin robe of gauze; sometimes painted, powdered, and patched, with flounce and furbelow to match. Janin is seldom deficient in delicate irony, but is always full of mincing airs and graces, and an esprit à-la-mode de Paris. But in his gallon of sugared sack, there is but a ‘ha'porth' of bread af. ter all. In the stream of pet phrases which he pours forth, there is a tinyness, if not a tenuity of idea. His style might be stereotyped. It would be a great saving to the ‘Debats' to have certain food familiar words always set up, standii, o in case. Scores and scores of times, speaking of debutantes, he has said: ‘Pauvre jeune fille aux joues roses aux mains blanches elle si pure elle si candide.” Would he describe an age or an epoch, here are his words:– “Ce xviii" siècle en manchette, en dentelles, en tallons rouges, en velours, en paillettes, avec ses mouches, son rouge, ce xviii" siècle si sardé si corrumpu, &c.’ This carillon of click-clack, this fredon—to use a musical term—o phrases; this fioritura of variations and doubles, called by musicians ‘follia di Spagna,' is very contemptible; but it has had great vogue; for the object of this writer is more to amuse than to inform the reader, more to be playsul than profound, more to be satirical than solid or satisfying. It is, therefore, no matter of marvel that Janin has many admirers and many imitators, and is the rage of men, women, and children. One of the burning and shining lights of the higher feuilleton of the ‘Débats' in 1830 and 1831, was Loève Weymar, who had become known, in 1828 and 1829, by translations from the German. His articles were distinguished by considerable brilliancy, and secured the approbation of the minister of the day. He was, in consequence, sent on a kind of literary mission to Russia. At St. Petersburg he married a young Russian lady, with 700 or 800 slaves for a dowry, and is now Consul-general of France in some part of the eastern hemisphere. This is a sort of accident, which has never happened, we believe, to any writer in the ‘Times' or “Chronicle,' literary or political. Ministers in England claim no kindred, and have no fellow-feeling, with the press; and if the ‘sublime of mediocrity,' the descendant of the Lancashire cotton-spinner, has any thing to give away, he bestows it, not on writers or literary men, but on the stupid son of some duke, who calls him Judas and traitor, or on the thirty-first cousin of some marquess, who tells him, for his pains, that he is no gentleman, and does not know what to do with his hands; or on the nephew of the Countess of Fashington," who simpers out, with a seductive smile, that the premier is like Thresher's best silk stockings, fine and well woven on the leg, but, after all, with a cotton top. The ‘Débats' was also enriched shortly after the Revolution of 1830, by the letters and articles of Michel Chevalier, an eleve of the “Ecole Polytechnique,' and former editor of the ‘Globe.’ Some of his earliest productions in the ‘Debats' were the Letters from America—letters remarkable in every respect, and well entitling this celebrated economist and engineer to the renown he has subsequently attained. On the early freaks of M. Chevalier as a St. Simonian,
* This is the mot of a fishionable Countess,
it is no part of our business to dwell. He has outlived those follies, and is now pursuing a useful and prosperous career, not merely in the ‘Débats, but as a professor in the university; and what is better still, in his profession. Another recruit obtained in 1830, was our excellent friend, M. Philarete Chasles, one of the half-dozen men in France who are learned in ancient lore, and complete master of their native language. M. Chasles is one of the very few Frenchmen well versed in Greek literature. He accompanied Marshal Soult to England in 1837, and wrote the articles and letters on his visit which appeared in the ‘Débats' at that time. M. Chasles was then also deputed, on the part of the government, to inquire into the scholastic and university system of England; and from conversations we had with him on the subject, we can take upon ourselves to assert, that he had a more accurate knowledge on those matters than falls to the lot of the great majority of Frenchmen. M. Chasles' familiarity with ancient literature in no respect indisposes him to the modern ; and he is well read in our English historians and poets. We have now gone through the greater number of regular writers in the ‘Débats,’ and of these M. de Sacy, M. St. Marc Girardin, M. Philarete Chasles, and others, still afford their valuable aid. At the head of the establishment is M. Armand Bertin, the son of one of the late proprietors and the nephew of the other—a scholar, a gentleman, and a man of large and liberal feelings. The great boast of M. Armand Bertin is, that he is a journalist, and nothing but a journalist; and for renowned journalists of all countries M. Bertin has a predilection. With one of the most celebrated journalists that England ever produced, he was on terms of the warmest friendship; and we are ourselves in possession of his last gift to his and our departed friend, the rarest edition of Lucan, according to Brunet, beautifully bound by Koehler, which bears this autograph, “To my friend, Thomas Barnes. Armand Bertin.' But the writers who afford a literary support to the ‘Débats,' and whose names are not known, or at least not avowed, are of as much, if not more, consequence to the Journal, than the regular contributors. There has been scarcely, for the last forty years, a minister of France or a councillor of state of any ability, who has not written in it; and since the accession of Louis Phil